Numlock News: February 14, 2022 • Long Drink, King Sized, Death on the Nile
By Walt Hickey
Dead in the Water
Death on the Nile made $12.8 million this past weekend, a bit of an underwhelming performance for the mystery film. It came out against Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson’s movie Marry Me, but more importantly the Super Bowl, which always throws programmers for a loop. Spider-Man: No Way Home made another $7.2 million, which puts its domestic haul at $759 million, less than $2 million away from surpassing the $760.5 million made by Avatar domestically, a movie which currently holds third place on the domestic chart. Sony also opened Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg movie Uncharted overseas in 15 markets, where it made $21.5 million. That opens domestically next week.
Scientists working for the state of California made an average of $83,586 in 2020, 27 percent less than the average amount of $114,012 made by the state’s engineers, which have a larger union and skew more heavily male. The state’s corps of scientists are about evenly split on a gender basis, while roughly 78 percent of engineers identify as men. California’s lawmakers are right now attempting to figure out how to spend a surprise pandemic budget surplus, and the scientists — many of whom work side by side with engineers — see this as an opportunity to close that pay gap. The gap first emerged in the early 2000s when the engineers negotiated a new contract. An environmental scientist in the Bay Area makes around 41 percent less than a federal scientist doing the same thing, and 23 percent less than one of the local government’s scientists.
Boston Beer is launching Bevy Long Drink, which adapts a Finnish beverage developed during the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki to a canned beverage in an attempt to find the next hard seltzer. The original formulation was gin and grapefruit soda, which proved to be a hit during the games and endured for several decades. In 1995, the government ended the monopoly on long drink, and breweries moved in. In 2020, around 50.3 million liters of long drink were sold by breweries in Finland, up 25 percent from a decade ago. The Boston Beer version of long drink replaces the gin with a malt base similar to like you’d find in hard seltzer, with juniper flavor added in to gin it up a little. If alcohol makers continue to seek new flavors, one time in college I did serve wine from an enormous bag of house wine recovered from the Hurricane-flooded basement of a local bar, and yes I am willing to sell this recipe for the right offer.
China’s Olympic hockey team is a fascinating organization, with its 25-man roster composed of 17 skaters from North America and one from Russia. How it got this way is fascinating: Athletes who change their citizenship must prove they participated for two hockey seasons in the national competitions of their new country. All the players are from the Beijing-based Kunlun Red Star, which is part of Russia’s KHL. However, due to the pandemic they didn’t actually play in China for the requisite 2020–21 or 2021–22 seasons, the Red Star decamped to a town near Moscow. Within the KHL, the Kunlun Red Star won eight of the 48 games played this season and allowed 32 percent more goals than the next-worst team in the KHL.
Return of the King
The mattress business is fairly stable as a whole, with trends moving slowly in terms of what tends to get sold. However, the pandemic has changed the kind of way that Americans like to sleep. Before the pandemic, 40 percent of Tempur and Sterns & Foster brand sales were King-sized mattresses, a figure that today stands at around half of sales. Industry-wide, king mattresses and California Kings accounted for 20.4 percent of mattress sales in 2020, up a point from 19.5 percent of sales in 2018, a difference equivalent to around 225,000 additional mattresses.
Shots, Shots, Shots
A new study of 689,693 Walmart pharmacy customers found that text messages were instrumental in encouraging people to get a flu shot. The study, conducted in the fall and winter of 2020, compared flu vaccination rates among customers who did get a reminder text message and the rates among those who didn’t. The overall vaccination rate was 7 percent higher among those who got texted, which comes out to a boost of two percentage points in the vaccination rate. Of the 22 texts in the study, the most effective one — which was literally just a reminder that it was flu season and you can get a shot at Walmart, with a simple reminder three days later that a shot was waiting for them — saw a 10 percent increase in flu vaccinations, good for a three percentage point boost.
On March 4, 2022, an object is going to smash into the moon. Previously this object was thought to be the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, specifically the rocket that took NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory into orbit in 2015. The object — WE0913A — was further investigated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was determined to more likely be the Long March 3C rocket from China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission, which sent a small spacecraft to the moon. Looking at that rocket’s trajectory, it’s nearly an exact match, so it looks like SpaceX successfully yeeted their rocket into the inky depths of space and is in the clear.
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