Numlock News: February 18, 2022 • Felicity Ace, Translation, Italian Crown Jewels
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend, we’re off Monday in observation of Presidents’ Day.
This past Sunday I had the great Philip Bump of the Washington Post on the Sunday edition. I also released a podcast version of that interview; you can find The Numlock Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
The Felicity Ace caught on fire in the Atlantic Ocean near the Azores, leading to the evacuation of its 22 crew members by the Portuguese Navy. The Felicity Ace was carrying 2,500 cars, specifically 1,100 Porsches and an unknown number of Volkswagens, en route to Davisville in Rhode Island from Emden, Germany. The 656-foot ship was abandoned and has been drifting east, with tug boats dispatched to tow it back to harbor. Anyway, if you happened to be on the East Coast and recently ordered a Porsche, now might be a really pertinent time to call your dealer. If you need me this weekend, I will be racing out to international waters as fast as I can while listening to an audiobook about salvage rights at 3x speed.
Many streaming services are making a direct play for the Indian market, and that’s led to a boom time for the country’s translators. India has 22 officially recognized languages, and as large well-heeled streaming services play for digital dominance in the world’s largest democracy, it’s been a massive time for the translators, voice actors and dubbing directors who make media appeal to entire new slices of the population. For instance, Kannada is a regional language, but one spoken by 43 million people, which really puts some perspective on “regional.” However, the boom times have not gone unnoticed, and many established players fear that a rush in by newer freelancers could cause the rates paid by the large firms to collapse, undercutting the whole market.
Excluding Scandinavia, Romania’s Carpathian mountains are home to at least half of the old-growth forests in Europe, and about 70 percent of the virgin forest. Less than 4 percent of the forestland in the European Union remains intact compared to its pre-industrial state. Romania’s forest exists due to several factors: Too far from the industrial centers to be of use during the age of mechanization and later subsumed into the Soviet bloc, when the forests were converted to public ownership, the country is home to the rare European forest that hasn’t been excessively logged. Now Ikea, the largest individual consumer of wood on the planet, would like it; it sources 10 percent of its wood from Romania, and a 2018 report found that Romania is cutting down 38.6 million cubic meters of wood a year, far more than the 18.5 million cubic meters the government has actually licensed for felling. Since joining the EU, between half and two-thirds of the virgin forest in Romania are gone.
While once rare in northwest Alaska, beavers began to make regular appearances on the tundra in the 1980s and 1990s. Today they’re everywhere, emboldened by a more favorable temperate climate: Near Kotzebue Sound, the number of beaver dams in the area increased from two in 2002 to 98 in 2019, and in northwest Alaska as a whole there are thought to be 12,000 beaver ponds. The industrious rodents can drastically alter the ecology of an area, and in 2021 NOAA cited them as a new disturbance.
In June 1946 Italy ejected its monarchy and became a republic, and as we all know has enjoyed calm, straightforward governance since. Last week, though, the aristocracy reared its head, with the former royal family suing the government and the Bank of Italy over the fate of the crown jewels, which they argue belong to them as a family. Italy contends that they belong to the Italian state, and are kept in a deposit box at the Bank of Italy. None of the current royal family has ever seen the jewels, and few people alive have for that matter: the last time they were inspected was 1976, when designer Gianni Bulgari checked and deemed them “of modest quality and value.” The stash is reportedly composed of a diadem, necklaces and brooches, with a total value of 300 million euros ($342 million).
The Severn River Association and Oyster Recovery Partnership want to get the oyster population in the Severn River near Annapolis full of oysters again. It’s one part of the larger Chesapeake Bay Program, which wants to restore oysters to the Severn and 10 tributaries by 2025. As of the 2010s, the wild oyster populations in the upper part of the Chesapeake Bay were 0.3 percent of what they once were, which has a distinct impact on the environment as a whole because an adult oyster can filter 190 liters of water per day. To do this, boats will inject 24 million baby oysters into a river in a single afternoon through firehoses. So far, the Chesapeake Bay Program has restored 324 hectares of oysters, and 96 percent of the reefs have at least 15 oysters per square meter, a threshold of success.
The volume of jobs for travel nurses rose from 8,000 positions in the early days of 2020 to 48,000 as of last September during the height of the Delta variant, and today stands at 32,000. The average travel nurse makes $3,334 per week, up from the $1,800-per-week nurses who were willing to pack their bags and fly to the location that needed their work most pre-pandemic. That said, because this is the intersection of health care, labor and money, things are getting fraught: Some hospitals, and potentially some states, are looking to cap the amount of money paid out to staffing agencies, arguing that hospitals paying top dollar to fill in slack in workers is also a symptom of just generally understaffing the hospital, and that the system as a whole might be undermining wages for nurses who work full-time at a single place. The median annual pay for a registered nurse in 2020 was $75,300, which a traveling nurse can clear in less than six months.
This week, I spoke to Philip Bump of the Washington Post, who a few weeks ago launched his newsletter How To Read This Chart. I’m a longtime fan of Bump’s work at the Post. I wanted to have him on for a podcast version of the Sunday edition to talk about the state of the art and the newsletter. Bump can be found at the Washington Post and on Twitter, and his newsletter How To Read This Chart can be found here. You also can find The Numlock Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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