Numlock News: December 4, 2023 • Godzilla, Garth Brooks, Lead Pipes
By Walt Hickey
In book news, talked to Five Books about the best graphic novels that have been adapted into movies, was in Marketplace’s excellent This Is Uncomfortable newsletter to defend my splurge, and got a cool shoutout as one of the 15 best books of the year from The Growth Equation. Thanks to everyone who has left a review or told some friends about You Are What You Watch, it’s a huge help and the word of mouth has been excellent. In exciting news, for the duration of the holiday season the book is 20% off at the Hachette website with the code HOLIDAY23, it makes a fun gift.
The noncontiguous states’ airlines are planning to tie it up, with Alaska Air Group cutting a deal to buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 billion. The combined airline would operate 365 aircraft, and have orders for 119 more on the way, serving a total of 138 destinations. Alaska would also expand the Honolulu hub of Hawaiian, giving the combined airline better options throughout the Asia-Pacific. Hawaiian (the 10th-largest airline, by seats) and Alaska (the sixth-largest) would combine to be the fifth-largest behind the big four of American, Delta, Southwest and United, but would drop to sixth if JetBlue and Spirit manage to actually complete their merger.
Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé made $21 million domestically, beating expectations and securing the top spot at the U.S. box office, but bombed overseas with $6.4 million in 94 markets, well south of the $20 million expected. Over 70 percent of American ticket buyers were women, 70 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34, and 52 percent were Black. It was a solid weekend for releases not from the major studios — Renaissance was released through AMC Cinemas as a distributor — as Toho’s Godzilla Minus One came in third place with $11 million, and India’s Animal made $6.1 million.
A new study that tracked 14 adult penguins on King George Island off the coast of Antarctica for 11 days found that the birds were regularly taking brief naps over the course of their day when guarding their newborns, taking thousands of the little naps per day. The microsleeps add up to quite a bit, and in total they’re hitting 11 hours of sleep per day through the microsleeps.
Garth Brooks has sold 170 million records worldwide over the course of his long and prolific career in country music, and has proven to be a rather canny businessman. His latest play: He’s released his 17th studio album, Time Traveler, with essentially no digital footprint, little promotion or internet presence, and by packaging it exclusively in a seven-CD box set available for $29.99. The box set also includes 2014’s Man Against Machine, 2016’s Gunslinger, 2018’s Triple Live and 2020’s Fun. As if that were not already a sufficiently unique distribution format, the new album and the other six discs that come with it are exclusively available at 177 Bass Pro Shops — 82 of which are combination Bass Pro Shop/Cabela’s — while otherwise eschewing digital formats. With each sale adding another seven albums to Garth’s lifetime sales record, it’s a clever way to pad out the stats and get the music out there.
California produces 90 percent of processed tomatoes, which are the tomatoes that go into sauces and pastes. As temperatures warm, those tomatoes will need to be produced with less water, or in different climates. Right now, those tomatoes need 169 billion gallons of water to grow, but Bayer hopes to design tomatoes that will in the aggregate require 120 billion to 136 billion gallons of water. There’s also a potential geographic solution to the problem: Kraft Heinz is considering Washington state for their future tomato needs, considering the state for the seeds of 40 percent of all tomato products sold in grocery stores around the world.
A new study published in Nature analyzed samples from 62-million-year-old lava flows in Canada’s far north in an attempt to replicate a 2003 study that found weirdly high amounts of helium 3 in that rock compared to levels of helium 4, up to 50 times the ratio found in the atmosphere. Helium 4 has two protons and two neutrons, and is pretty common on Earth, coming from natural radioactive decay. Helium 3 has two protons and one neutron, and was made in stars and the aftermath of the big bang. That means the excess of helium 3 is especially cool because the thought is that it comes from a reservoir of helium in Earth’s mantle that dates to the primordial origins of the Earth itself. This new experiment analyzed microscopic pockets of helium gas in minerals and found that the ratio of helium 3 to helium 4 was between 65 and 69 times the ratio in the atmosphere.
The EPA has proposed stricter rules on the levels of lead in drinking water, rules that would require all lead service lines to be replaced within 10 years. Right now 9.2 million households in the U.S. have water connections that entail at least one lead pipe. The EPA estimates that overall the rule will generate anywhere between $9.8 billion and $34.8 billion in economic benefits per year, mostly from health improvements, newborn health and lower cardiovascular risks. The costs will be between $20 billion and $30 billion over the course of the next 10 years, of which $15 billion is already available thanks to the 2021 infrastructure law, and another $11.7 billion from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund can be used to replace lead pipes, too.
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