Numlock News: February 21, 2023 • World of Warcraft, Quantumania, Shipwrecks
By Walt Hickey
Death of the Art
A visitor at an art fair in Miami knocked over a $42,000 balloon dog sculpture by Jeff Koons, causing it to shatter into over 100 pieces and resulting in what experts are calling the fifth-worst outcome for a balloon on U.S. soil in the past two weeks. The person who broke the statue tapped on it with her finger, leading to the slip. Thousands of the sculptures exist around the world, and some are over 10 feet tall, and now the number of 40-by-48-by-16 cm "Balloon Dog (Blue)" sculptures that exist has decreased from 799 to 798. The remains of the balloon dog are in a box awaiting review from an insurance company.
Amanda Holpuch, The New York Times and Camille Fine, USA Today
Movie Opening Debut Obviously Killing
The new film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania made $120 million domestically, a significant beat on expectations, as well as another $121 million from the international box office. Those numbers are wild given the previous box office in this particular franchise, where Ant-Man opened to $57 million and Ant-Man and the Wasp opened to $76 million. Even the most dyed-in-the-wool Marvel geek would struggle to call Ant-Man an A-lister, and yet here we stand. Also over the weekend saw Avatar: The Way of Water bring in another $7.88 million over the four-day weekend, properly putting it ahead of Titanic in the all-time box office gross rankings.
The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with maintaining public lands, and one part of its mission is to aid in the restoration of lands devastated by fires, drought or other natural disasters. One resource they rely on is seeds of native species that can be spread quickly over affected areas to hold invasive species at bay, but a new study commissioned by the BLM indicated they may not have enough seeds to do the task. They’ve purchased 54 million pounds of seeds over the past 25 years, but the agency has estimated that in order to restore the land it oversees it will need another 1 billion pounds.
Christine Peterson, High Country News
The age-old rivalry between optometrists and ophthalmologists has become a legislative matter in many states as figuring out who should get to do laser procedures — optometrists, who are the primary eye care and have historical roots in dispensing glasses, or the medical eye doctors of ophthalmology — is left to legislatures. Measures that would extend the ability to allow trained optometrists to remove small noncancerous skin tags and perform other procedures with lasers that have been the general domain of ophthalmology have become law in 10 states, but a recent attempt in California was vetoed. Overall, 225 state laws have been passed since the 1970s to expand the scope of optometric practices, and part of that may have been that the optometrists have been recently more active in engaging in political lobbying.
Hybe, the K-pop company behind the band BTS, has been eyeing consolidation across the Korean music industry, and it’s attracted the attention of regulators. Hybe bought a 15 percent stake in SM Entertainment, and has reportedly offered to buy another 25 percent share that would bring their total investment to $900 million and give them control of the powerful competitor. SM Entertainment is behind acts like EXO and Girls’ Generation, and before the rise of BTS and Hybe, SM was the largest of the big three — with JYP and YG Entertainment — in K-pop. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is keeping an eye on the deal.
Scott Nover and Julia Malleck, Quartz
Following a licensing disagreement with the local partner, Activision Blizzard shut down operations in China on January 23. That’s hit Chinese players of World of Warcraft hard, as well as an entire economy around them. There were an estimated 3 million World of Warcraft players in China who are now out of a game, as well as all the hard work put into playing it. China was also home to an underground economy of dailians, or substitute players who were hired to play on behalf of paying clients to grind their characters and who are now out of the job. China was at least 3 percent of Activision’s net revenue in 2021, with about $264 million in sales.
A new draft rule from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would require that oil and gas companies survey areas where they intend to disturb the sea floor, an increase over the current requirement that they survey places where data suggests there is a shipwreck or submerged cultural site. This could be a big deal for shipwreck discoveries, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. Even under the existing permitting requirements, over 600 likely shipwrecks have been found in the Gulf, mostly by energy companies doing the necessary surveys. The rule comes after an analysis of the past 40 years of the process found that models may be underestimating the number of possible shipwreck locations.
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