Numlock News: February 1, 2023 • Owls, Kias, Omegas
By Walt Hickey
To The Moon
Swiss watch exports hit 23.7 billion Swiss francs in 2022, up 11.6 percent year over year and at an all-time high. Overall 15.8 million watches were exported in 2022, which is half the number exported in 2000, with the added export value coming from the fact that mechanical watch exports have tripled in that time and about 40 percent of exports were mechanicals, many of which are very high value. One big winner was the MoonSwatch, a Bioceramic Swatch that evokes the famous Omega Speedmaster watch that went to the moon with the Apollo program. When launched, outside analysts expected 500,000 sales of the MoonSwatch, which given a gross margin of about 90 percent would lead to $115 million in profit. In fact, Swatch sold over a million MoonSwatches, so they might have actually accounted for more like 20 percent of the CHF 1.2 billion operating profit.
Farewell Yellow Brick Road
Elton John’s farewell tour has grossed $817.9 million across 278 shows, which beats a previous record for highest grossing tour set by Ed Sheeran. The tour has been running since September 2018, and grossed $268.2 million in the first three North American tours and $222.1 million in the last stadium run last year, with his most recent leg in Oceania putting him over the record with the final 51 shows in Europe poised to secure him as the top tour ever for quite some time. Going back to his 1986 tour, Elton John has grossed $1.863 billion and sold 19.9 million tickets across 1,573 shows on record, the highest career gross for a solo artist.
California Builds, They’re Undeniable
On February 1, all cities and counties in California will have to have state-approved plans showing their plan to build more housing, and if they don’t, then a fun option called the “builder’s remedy” will kick in and as a result developers are allowed to build housing that complies with state standards, overruling whatever local zoning allows as it pertains to density or size. Lots of places have failed to develop such a plan, and so now it’s about to be a housing bonanza: Only 87 Los Angeles jurisdictions out of about 200 have housing elements certified by the state, and only 11 Bay Area jurisdictions have adoptive drafts with the state, while close to 65 jurisdictions are now vulnerable to the “builder’s remedy.”
The 1,574th and final Boeing 747 was handed over on Tuesday to Atlas Air, a cargo freight company, concluding production on one of the largest and most consequential aircrafts to ever take to the skies. Each Boeing 747 was made up of about 6 million parts and assembled at a factory in Everett, Washington. Construction on this final plane began last September. The development of smaller, more efficient aircraft decreased interest in the jumbo jets from mainstream air carriers starting in the 1990s, but the 747 had remained popular among cargo operations that use it to move vast quantities of goods between cargo hubs.
When songbirds see the owls that hunt them, sometimes rather than just trying to fly away as quick as they can they’ll engage in a behavior called mobbing, where large numbers aggressively gather around the predator and get really loud. While there’s risk, it oftentimes does work and freaks the predator out sufficiently to get the job done. New research reveals that the songbirds pick their fights. A team of researchers played recordings of a northern pygmy owl’s call 663 times at 547 locations in an attempt to get songbirds to mob, which they did in 8.1 percent of trials. The researchers found that mobbing peaked in late summer — when owls most often prey on birds — when 23 percent of trials led to mobbing, and was lowest in winter and spring — when owls mostly eat small mammals — with mobbing in less than 1 percent of trials. That all said, it is pretty fascinating how much of this kind of scientific research is essentially just pranking some birds.
The insurance companies Progressive and State Farm have begun to refuse to write auto insurance policies on Hyundai and Kia models released from 2015 to 2019 in some cities. While the insurers declined to say where the cars were uninsurable, Denver and St. Louis have had reports confirming the change. The issue is that the cars don’t have electronic immobilizers, and as a result are twice as likely to be stolen as other cars of that era. They were standard on 96 percent of vehicles sold during the period but only 26 percent of Hyundais and Kias, and as word spread about the problem theft claims of the makes spiked to 30 times the level seen in 2019.
An analysis of survey data of 127,000 respondents in 122 countries collected throughout 2021 found that 16 percent of adults around the world — the equivalent of 900 million people — would like to leave their country permanently if they could, a sentiment that reached 37 percent among respondents in Latin America and the Caribbean, 37 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 27 percent in the Middle East and North Africa. More than half of the respondents in multiple countries wanted to move away, with levels highest in Sierra Leone (76 percent would like to move to a different country), Lebanon (63 percent), Honduras (56 percent) and Gabon (55 percent). The most desired destination is still the United States, where 18 percent of potential migrants said they would most like to get to, followed by Canada (8 percent of migrants) and Germany (7 percent).
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