Numlock News: February 20, 2019
By Walt Hickey
Please Refrain From Buying Blood
The FDA issued a safety alert about the infusion of plasma from younger donors to older people to prevent aging. Advocates purport it has a number of positive health impacts, but detractors say it is extremely creepy and has absolutely no health benefits whatsoever. The vanity vampirism trend was prompted by a company called Ambrosia which hawks $8,000 liters of plasma from young donors to aging narcissists. I still contend that Ambrosia might merely be an on-the-nose performance art project about capitalism, but according to their website they actually stopped “patient treatments” after the FDA spoke up.
The jet stream had a wild week, with the river of air clocking in at the fastest 250 millibar wind speed ever recorded over New York, flowing at 230 miles per hour. A Virgin Atlantic flight from L.A. to London rode that record stream to hit a groundspeed of 801 miles per hour 35,000 feet above Pennsylvania, a record for the Boeing 787-9. The ordinary cruising speed of the plane was 561 miles per hour, and in the end that assist from the current was good enough for a 48 minute early arrival.
The U.S. Air Force will try to buy eight new F-15 fighter-bombers in the fiscal year 2020, which is weird, because the last time the Air Force bought an F-15 it was 2001, and now they’re all the way up to buying F-35s. Indeed, this is the first of a possible 80-plane buy over five years. The F-15 has remained in production — versions are sold to allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — and the new purchase is because the F-15X can accommodate heavier weapons then the more technologically advanced F-35. The Air Force still intends to purchase 1,763 of the F-35s. Still, this is what passes for a bargain in combat avionics: Boeing’s F-15X costs $80 million per plane, compared to $89 million per plane for Lockheed Martin’s F-35.
Canada’s next federal election is scheduled for October 21, and Canadians think Facebook will not help make the experience any better. A new poll finds Canadians are fairly split, with 25 percent saying that Facebook will have a negative impact on the next election, while 36 percent think Facebook will just have a somewhat negative impact on the election. An optimistic 23 percent think the impact of the social network on the election will be average. Meanwhile, a combined 7 percent of Canadians think the impact of Facebook on their election will be at least somewhat positive.
Brexit Means Brexit
Regardless of how effortless the U.K. exit from the European Union ends up being, the damage to the nation’s once inimitable financial sector is irrevocable. The finance business represents 7 percent of Britain’s GDP, but banks all over London are moving out to Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin and Luxembourg to remain in the European market. There are over 1 million finance jobs in the U.K., and while London will remain an essential financial capital, others like Amsterdam and Madrid are seeing new offices and new personnel ahead of Brexit. Bank of America has spent $400 million moving employees to Paris and Dublin. A worst-case scenario found that the exit from the E.U. could shrink the British economy by 8 percent.
Four Day Work Week
There have been promising reports from a New Zealand trial of a vaunted four day work week, where employee pay is maintained but a two day weekend happens every four days rather than every five days. According to an earlier trial, staff stress levels fell from 45 percent to 38 percent, and work-life balance scores rose from 54 percent to 78 percent, all while keeping productivity stable despite the reduction in the working week from 37.5 hours to 30 hours. I hope New Zealand enjoys the added health benefits of a better working arrangement, but America is a place where young people sell their plasma to rich narcissists so they don’t age, so I feel like we’re stuck on the five-day schedule for the forseeable future.
People being bad at driving accounts for a massive amount of collisions, and collisions are basically the entire reason we have a multibillion dollar car insurance industry. So what happens when we remove human error? A report forecasting the impact of automation estimated that there will be 23 million autonomous vehicles on the road in 2035, 10 percent of cars on the road today. The same study forecasted premiums could drop by 12.5 percent of the total market by then, which could mean that the insurers that have come to rely on car insurance for revenue may be in a bind as fewer humans are involved in the operation of motor vehicles.
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