Numlock News: February 22, 2023 • Piracy, Tsunami, Museums
By Walt Hickey
Major League Baseball is rolling out a number of changes to the game this year, one of which is a bigger base. The traditional base is a square with 15-inch sides, and the new base is now 18 inches along the side, which not only means more base to grab but also means that the distance between the bases is slightly less. The intention of league officials is to reduce injuries and increase stolen bases, an element of the game that has been decimated amid the analytics revolution. In 2012, there were 4,365 attempts to steal a base, a figure that was down to 3,297 attempts last year.
Several museums in the Los Angeles area have embarked on an experiment to see what reducing the price of admission to free would mean for them. The Getty Center has been nominally free since 1997, the Hammer Museum went free in 2014, the Broad went free in 2015 for its permanent collection, and the Museum of Contemporary Art went free at the start of 2020. The most recent test case is the Orange County Museum of Art, which announced free admission for 10 years last October, and so far it’s a hit: OCMA logged more visitors in its first three months — 92,000 — than it did over a period of four years under the previous gate fee.
Electrons for Victory
European consumers reacted to the invasion of Ukraine with a steadfastness that surprised some who doubted the continent’s ability to wean itself off Russian gas on an incredibly short timeline. So far, so good; thanks to a warmer winter and reduced consumption, residential and commercial gas use was down a whopping 15 percent. Much of this was the result of an accelerated green transition: Last year 3,016,000 electricity-powered heat pumps were installed in Europe, up from 2,183,000 in 2021, not to mention 5,700 MWh of battery storage (up from 3,200 MWh in 2021) and 40 GW of solar (up from 29.6 GW in 2021).
Yo Ho, Yo Ho
A survey found that 11 percent of Americans said that yes, they had streamed or downloaded any pirated television shows, movies or live sport in 2022, with 5 percent preferring not to say, 8 percent indicating they weren’t sure, and 76 percent categorically claiming that they had done no such thing. Even just counting the folks who copped to a torrent here or an out-of-market NHL stream there, we’re talking the equivalent of 23 million adults if we extrapolated out to the whole U.S. adult population. Of the pirates, 48 percent cited cost, 36 percent said the content was unavailable anywhere else, and 32 percent said the content wasn’t available in their region. Readers are encouraged to verify they are not receiving a pirated copy of Numlock News by ensuring that the fan-generated subtitle track included for your convenience with each email is in grammatically correct Croatian, and that the hideous ASCII art that is my personal signature that inexplicably exists in an adjoined text file is properly rendered UTF-32.
The Wuling electric vehicle out of China is a small, boxy electric vehicle that sells for $5,500 and is produced by a joint partnership of General Motors and SAIC. It’s a hit not just in China, where it outsells Tesla, but overseas as well. In Indonesia the Wuling Air sells for $16,000 at around half the price of rivals, and since its introduction last August has sold 8,053 vehicles, which is 78 percent of electric vehicle sales in the country. The nearest follower, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, has moved just 1,829 over the same period. In Indonesia, the compact size is not exactly an issue; sales of scooters outnumbered sales of cars 5-to-1 last year, so the vehicle is still nevertheless an upgrade.
According to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, 62.8 million international visitors will come to the U.S. in 2023, up 21.2 percent from the 51.8 million who visited in 2022. That’s still south of the 79.4 million who visited in 2019, but the office can project that 79.9 million people will visit in 2024, finally beating that pre-pandemic record. The office expects growth to continue, with the Commerce Department goal of 90 million international visitors by 2027 seen as very reachable. Excluding Mexico and Canada, the office expects 29.2 million overseas visitors in 2023, down from 40.4 million in 2019, with the projection that will hit 40.3 million by 2027.
The Joint Task Force for Science Monitoring and Reliable Telecommunications Subsea Cables — do you get the acronym? — is an initiative of the United Nations that wants to install pressure, acceleration and temperature sensors on the repeaters of new undersea telecom cables. Repeaters occur approximately every 50 kilometers on undersea cables and amplify signals, and the point would be to have the sensors transmitting so researchers on land can monitor for tsunamis. The subsea telecom industry is a $5 billion per year business, and it’s been tough to convince it to add extra stuff to their equipment, but recent events in Tonga have renewed calls. A SMART cable between New Caledonia and Vanuatu could bring the tsunami warning time there to 12 minutes, up from seconds to just a couple of minutes.
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