Numlock News: February 10, 2021 • Guano, Radio, Marijuana
By Walt Hickey
A Mysterious Photo Of A Purple Flower
Wikimedia’s in a bit of a pickle, as a seemingly random photograph of a daisy hosted on Wikimedia Commons has gotten roughly 78 million hits per day, every day, since June 29, 2020. Nobody knows why. The photograph of the flower accounts for 20 percent of data requests for media on one of their servers. People who know stuff about this sort of thing are baffled. The prevailing theory goes as follows: lots of times, lazy coders will pull code from Stack Overflow to plug in to solve problems, and a bunch of that example code links to this pretty picture as sort of a default. June 29 was when India banned TikTok, and a bunch of random TikTok clones pretty much overnight became the most popular mobile apps in the country. The thinking goes one app may have included some copied code that accidentally hotlinks to the photograph, and now every time it does something it tries to fetch the image because of the zombie code.
A new study published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution estimates the total value of bird poop from seabirds as $474 million per year globally. While most poop is not considered inherently valuable, bird guano has lots of industrially necessary uses, particularly as fertilizer. Even the guano that doesn’t accumulate on coasts adds phosphorous and nitrogen back into the sea, which fuels plankton and powers the whole ecosystem. Yet, “guanomonger” was not a lucrative career option my guidance counselor told me in high school — we have to correct this.
Last year, marijuana sales in the state of Colorado reached $2,191,091,679, an incredibly precise figure from the state’s Department of Revenue, capping off a stunning year for the stoned. Annual sales in 2020 were up 25 percent year-over-year, itself a record, and the total sales under the past seven years of recreational legalization are just a few million shy of $10 billion. This has accrued substantial financial benefits for the state, as the $2.2 billion in marijuana sales last year produced $387.4 million in total taxes for Colorado. While many industries suffered significant demand problems in the year that was 2020, let’s just say it was a great year to sell pot to stressed people.
Talk radio is at an inflection point after years of ruling the airwaves. It’s still the most popular format, but that’s not saying much: in an average 15-minute segment in 2019, 9.5 percent of the radio audience was listening to news talk. That had long been the moneymaker for lots of the large terrestrial radio networks, who bet on big personalities and galvanizing voices, but in this era that type of blowhard is getting a bit dated. Only 6.7 percent of people ages 25 to 54 listen to talk radio, and just 4.3 percent of those 18 to 34. After all, if I want to listen to a sweaty person hawk dubious supplements and virulent opinions, it’s my understanding that’s the very foundation of Facebook’s business model at this point.
Right now, an 11 pound troll-caught chinook salmon is selling for $116.16 in Southeast Alaska, all thanks to rising seafood sales out of supermarkets. Salmon sales in 2020 were $2.2 billion, up 19 percent year-over-year, fresh crab sales were up 62 percent and frozen raw shrimp sales were up 48 percent. All told, that means a very busy year for Alaskan fishermen, an industry now bringing in younger applicants to a trade where the average age is over 50. This year, 3 billion pounds of pollock will come out of the Bering Sea as well as 250 million pounds out of the Gulf of Alaska.
This year 68 percent of homes with television access watched the Super Bowl telecast, despite how difficult the combined efforts of the Tampa defense and Madison Avenue made that particular broadcast. CBS averaged 92 million viewers, which was a dip for the network broadcast but not apocalyptic, as 5.7 million viewers also took in the game several seconds behind everyone else on streaming platforms. This follows conference championship ratings that, in fact, gained on 2019’s numbers, but a 22-point margin of victory — the second highest in 18 years — wasn’t doing CBS many favors.
Anchors A Weigh
Los Angeles traffic has turned the city into a parking lot yet again, but no longer content to let the gridlock prevail on roads alone there are also lines of ships backed up outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In the first week of February 2020, there was one ship waiting offshore and 17 at the docks of L.A. and Long Beach ports. Right now, there are 27 ships at berths in L.A. and Long Beach harbor and 37 container ships anchored offshore. At the beginning of the month, 336,500 20-foot shipping containers were estimated to be floating offshore waiting for a parking space in Los Angeles. CMA CGM SA, which is the fourth-largest container ship operator in the world, said it’s dropping its weekly six-ship China to L.A. service and adding in new destinations to Oakland and Seattle to avoid the congestion.
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