Numlock News: December 20, 2021 • Spider-Man, Megawatt-Hour, Fire-Goat
By Walt Hickey
Welcome back! Just a heads up, this is the last week of Numlock before we’re off next week.
That Parker Luck
Spider-Man: No Way Home made $253 million in North America, an amount of money that surpassed the studio’s most amazing fantasy. Add onto that another $344.2 million from 60 markets overseas, and that global opening of $587.2 million is not only by far the best opening of the pandemic era, and managed to beat out Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the third-best opening weekend in history. The movie was so successful that cinemas have begun dropping screenings of Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley away in order to give more screens to Spider-Man, which is definitely the exact origin story that would drive Guillermo del Toro to become a Spider-Man villain.
Anheuser-Busch and Keurig Dr Pepper teamed up to produce Drinkworks, a $300 machine that can make alcoholic drinks for people at home. The individual drink pods cost $4 to $5 per drink, and would allow consumers to make drinks like the old fashioned, whiskey sour or cosmopolitan in less than 60 seconds. Unfortunately, the management clearly did not foresee that they could possibly be scooped by an emerging technology called “a glass,” within which a person can make an old fashioned, whiskey sour or cosmopolitan in considerably less than 60 seconds, and without the need to own a $300 proprietary device or $5 pods. The companies announced they will be shutting down Drinkworks this week, and consumers have until the end of February to apply for a refund.
Starting in 1966, the town of Gävle in Sweden has constructed an ornate, wooden Yule Goat in the center of town as a traditional symbol of the holidays in Scandinavia, and more importantly, also starting in 1966 someone has burned it down. The annual arson of the Gävle Goat is a beloved holiday tradition. Some years the arsonists pull it off, some years they don’t, some years they do torch the goat but get nabbed by the cops — it’s incredibly exciting. This year’s 42-foot-high 3.6-tonne goat was burned down on Friday, and a man in his early 40s was arrested. It’s the first time since 2016 that the goat was burned.
In 2021 there were 1,923 original series on broadcast television, cable and streaming services, smashing the previous record of 1,628 shows set in 2019. While television production took a mild dip in 2020 for, uh, reasons — there were a paltry 1,577 shows that aired last year — the leap in production comes at a time when a number of new streaming services have begun to seriously hit their stride. By comparison, there were 127 shows that aired in 2002, 254 shows in 2005, 899 shows in 2010 and 1,461 shows in 2015, and before this year production was actually rather flat since 2017. The number of shows on cable peaked in 2014 with 1,173 shows, a figure that has since fallen to 726. Meanwhile, the number of shows on streaming jumped from 33 in 2014 and now stands at 922.
Biomass power is electrical generation that burns plants or plant-based fuels in order to power generators. In 2009, the European Union’s plan to hit 20 percent renewable power by 2020 gave wood-fired power plants emission-free status, the same enjoyed by wind and solar. This is because of a quirk in the IPCC carbon accounting that credits the carbon produced by cutting down a tree to a country’s land-use sector, not the power generation sector that eventually burns the pellet. In practice this means the U.K. and Germany subsidize wood burning, specifically burning wood pellets bought from America, in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint on paper. Burning freshly cut wood chips can emit 40 percent to 60 percent more carbon per megawatt-hour than coal. This has also set up an incentive for companies to produce dried wood chips in the United States and then export them, a process that still generates emissions at the site of production (in the U.S., specifically poor neighborhoods in the U.S.) in exchange for a cleaner, less emitting burn at the site of generation (Germany and the U.K.). The industry will grow 6 percent or more per year this decade.
A Wall Street Journal investigation set up a dozen automated accounts registered as 13-year-olds on TikTok, and found that after programming the bots to briefly pause on content related to weight loss, the app’s algorithm began to serve up an onslaught of fasting, crash dieting and eating disorder content. Out of 255,000 videos served up, the algorithm threw 32,700 weight loss videos at the bots from October to early December. A third of the weight loss videos — 11,615 videos — offered up by TikTok to the bots were about eating disorders, and 40 percent of those — 4,402 videos — made disordered eating appear normal. Of the 2,960 eating disorder videos served to the, again, accounts of 13-year-olds, 1,778 were subsequently removed.
In June 2020, the Höegh Xiamen, a car-carrying ship, caught fire in Jacksonville, Florida, and lost the entire cargo of 2,420 vehicles, with damages estimated at around $40 million. The vessel was subsequently towed to Turkey for recycling. The NTSB released the findings of its investigation into the fire, attributing it the vehicles loaded onto the ship not having their batteries disconnected and a delayed fire detection system. It’s definitely like the second-worst thing that happened to a cargo ship in the past two years.
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