Numlock News: December 23, 2022 • Movie Trailers, Smuggled Wood, Magma
By Walt Hickey
This is the last edition of Numlock of 2022! Thank you so much for reading, and to the folks who pay to subscribe thanks for supporting the newsletter, it means so much to me. Happy holidays, happy new year, we’ll be back rested and ready in 2023, and enjoy the break!
A federal judge has allowed a proposed class-action lawsuit lodged against Universal Pictures to go forward. Two fans of Ana de Armas are suing over the film Yesterday, in which a man is transported to an alternate universe where the Beatles never existed. Actress Ana de Armas appeared in the trailer for the film and shot a part where she played a potential love interest in the interdimensional Beatles aficionado, but her subplot was cut from the final picture. The plaintiffs alleged they rented the movie for $3.99 each based on seeing de Armas in the trailer and thus this constituted false advertising, and are seeking at least $5 million as representatives of a class of miffed fans of Ana de Armas. They got the suit past a judge, so this case is going to court.
I Am a Visitor Here, I Am Not Permanent
The U.S. Postal Service is crushing it this holiday season, and expects that all priority mail packages shipped by December 19th will reach their destinations before Christmas. On-time delivery rates hit 92 percent for first-class letters and 96 percent for packages, which is stellar compared to the delivery rate of the past two years. The USPS has had to deal with staffing shortages that in some rural states have meant that people can go two weeks without mail deliveries. The USPS was able to successfully hire 20,000 temporary workers this season, and since 2021 has converted 100,000 part-time employees to full time. They’re also in the midst of a $107 million modernization overhaul appropriated by Congress this year.
Europe needs wood, and two big suppliers of that timber have historically been Russia and Belarus, responsible for €3.12 billion and €1.37 billion worth of wood respectively as of 2021. Sanctions that took force in July have cut off those suppliers, and countries with huge wood demand — Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Latvia — have had to turn to other suppliers. Stepping up to fulfill that demand have been Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, two former Soviet bloc countries that have begun exporting vast amounts of wood to Europe, jumping from €445,000 worth in 2020 to €30 million worth from June to October 2022 alone. Here’s the thing, though: Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan don’t have wood. Trees cover less than 6 percent of the terrain in those countries. And the evidence appears to point to the robust timber industry that emerged out of nowhere just might be a bunch of Russian and Belarusian wood being routed through Central Asia to avoid sanctions.
Everyone is trying to make their year-end deal target, not the least of whom are North Korean hackers who have had a record-breaking performance year. Despite the rough year in crypto as a whole, North Korea has been making a total killing in the field in spite of headwinds for Web3. A new report from South Korea’s spy agency said that state-sponsored hackers operating in North Korea stole an estimated $1.2 billion (1.5 trillion won) in virtual assets since 2017, of which in 2022 alone they stole $626 million (800 billion won). Some of that, $78 million this year, came from South Korea, but the ambitious North Korean hackers have proven to not be picky and effective well outside of the peninsula. A bombastic, erratic but to some inspiring figure who’s killing it in crypto with an innovative, countercultural strategy and a legion of supporters, he may be a nepo baby but it’s only a matter of time before Silicon Valley VCs see real potential in Kim Jong-un.
A new analysis of 192,000 earthquakes through machine learning reports that there are massive previously unknown caches of magma underneath the Hawaiian Islands, and that the flows of those reservoirs of magma have an impact on volcanic activity above the surface. The study, published in Science, found several deep chambers called sills that fill up with molten rock at different times, reacting to eruptions and serving as the conduit between mantle and surface. Some of the 192,000 earthquakes, captured between November 2018 and April 2022, came from an area 22 to 27 miles deep, and seemed to show magma pockets that in some cases were four miles long by three miles wide.
The Kingdom of Jordan has long been the caretaker of Bethany Beyond The Jordan, a site that draws thousands of religious pilgrims a year to visit the east bank of the Jordan River where Christians believe Jesus was baptized. Jordan’s government, not content with thousands of pilgrims, wants to crank that number up to a million visitors a year with a six-year $300 million tourist city right next to the UNESCO World Heritage site, a metro packed with souvenir shops, hotels and attractions to make a visit to the location of what some people say is the baptism of a messiah a fun-for-the-whole-family experience. Religious pilgrims are big money draws for Jordan, where tourism fuels 20 percent of the economy, and if there’s anything that the spiritual beliefs of one of the largest faiths in the world have lacked in general it’s a synergistic connection between premium travel experiences and a thoughtful merchandising strategy.
Google’s YouTube has emerged as the winner in a widely-watched contest to win the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket franchise, which allows subscribers to watch out-of-market games. The package is currently held by DirecTV and costs them $1.5 billion a season for residential and commercial rights. YouTube is licensing those residential rights for the next seven years for at least $2 billion a year, a sign the video service is doubling down on its goal to make a bona fide rival for cable and streaming television. The commercial rights for Sunday Ticket — sold to bars and restaurants — are still up for sale, for $200 million.
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