Numlock News: February 2, 2023 • Caesium, Icebreaker, Forks
By Walt Hickey
Man It’s A Hot Zone
The mining company that dropped a 6-by-8-millimeter chunk of extremely radioactive caesium-137 somewhere along an 870-mile road in Australia announced that state emergency services had successfully found the nodule. A vehicle driving 70 kilometers per hour (43 miles per hour) loaded with radiation-detecting equipment found the item, which was roughly 2 meters off the side of the road in a pile of pebbles. The item could cause skin burns and radiation sickness if improperly handled, and was being sent to the Gudai-Darri mine as part of a density gauge. The current fine for failing to handle a radioactive substance in Australia is set at an extremely funny level of merely A$1,000 ($700) for the initial offense and another A$50 ($35) for each additional day. The mine has offered to reimburse the government for the cost of the search for the needle in the haystack.
An Italian research mission has sailed further south than any ship has ever done before, continuing in a grand tradition of Italian exploration where an initial achievement ends up being a gigantic bummer once you contemplate the consequences. The icebreaker Laura Bassi reached a point in the Bay of Whales with the coordinates 78° 44.280 S, the furthest south a ship has ever gone, according to the Italian National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics. An attempt to reach the same area in 2017 failed due to too much impenetrable ice.
An additional 11 U.S. airports will adopt the idle descent method of landing planes, where incoming planes cut the engines and glide down onto the tarmac. Right now 64 airports in the U.S. — including in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Miami, Seattle and D.C. — currently use it rather than “staircase descents,” where air traffic control tells pilots to lower altitudes in a number of steps before landing. Idle descent has a number of significant advantages, namely that it significantly cuts down on noise during landing and saves a considerable amount of fuel, with airlines saving 90,000 gallons of fuel on average. The rollout is possible thanks to updating models that allow for the adjustments of dozens of flight routes.
Last year Hollywood movies won 31.2 percent of the box office in Japan, up significantly from 2021 but still down from the 45.6 percent in 2019. The biggest movie in Japan last year was One Piece Film: Red which hauled in ¥19.7 billion ($151 million) with the only U.S. film in the top five being Top Gun: Maverick and the rest of the top five rounded out by other local animated films. All told there were 1,402 films released in Japan last year, up from 1,143 in 2021, 893 of which were Japanese and 509 international. This year expectations are high for How Do You Live?, the new Miyazaki film, as well as several films in the Godzilla franchise.
The New York City Council passed a law 43-7 that would eliminate the use of single-use plastic foodware throughout the city, forcing residents to use non-plastic silverware to eat food on the go and requiring our local idiot politicians to use a real fork and knife when they cut their pizza like knuckle-dragging tourists. New York City discards 20,000 tons of unused plastic foodware every year, according to the National Resources Defense Council. The move follows a ban on single-use plastic bags and non-compostable straws and coffee stirrers.
Several companies are taking deliberate steps to slash the number of meetings they force their employees to participate in. Shopify made superfluous meetings enemy number one, and the purge worked. Since cancelling recurring group meetings, banning most meetings on Wednesdays and requiring all meetings with 50 or more people to happen in a six-hour window on Thursday, Shopify in the aggregate deleted 12,000 events from calendars and freed up 95,000 hours for their workers. Meeting bloat has gotten bad: According to Microsoft’s data on usage of their business product Teams, the number of meetings attended by the average user more than doubled from February 2020 to February 2022, and the time spent in those meetings tripled.
The Federal Trade Commission announced that GoodRx will pay $1.5 million and overhaul its business to ensure that it stops sharing patient health information and data to advertisers, and work to get the third parties it hawked patient data to for money to delete that data. The FTC alleged that GoodRx shared what medications that users looked for on their app, what medications they spent GoodRx coupons on, and what conditions they were getting treated for with advertisers. HIPAA doesn’t apply to companies like GoodRx, but the FTC said that GoodRx certainly seemed to make it seem like it did by putting a cosmetic HIPAA icon on their website.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.