Numlock News: February 25, 2020 • Phanatic, Marsquakes, Hydroelectric
By Walt Hickey
The InSight lander successfully deployed on Mars 15 months ago, and since then has detected over 450 marsquakes. Monday saw the publication of the initial findings about the Martian interior: the surface crust is about 16 feet of rocky grit, then about 3.1 miles of bedrock, then anywhere from 3.1 miles to 18.6 miles of slightly magnetic rock, and then the Martian mantle, which remains a mystery. Mars registers two tiny quakes per day, substantially less than Earth, which has 14,000 sizable earthquakes per year. Of 174 marsquakes analyzed, about 150 are seriously small. One reason is that marsquakes originate much deeper than on Earth, and some may just be impacts of meteors.
The Philadelphia Phillies pheatured a phresh (if phreakish) Phanatic phigure bephore the phinish of its phranchise rights, pheaturing phlightless pheathers for phur. Alright, I’m done now. Anyway the Philadelphia Phanatic has been mired in litigation, and the 42-year-old mascot’s license is coming up and expiring after 35 years on June 15. Bonnie Erickson and Wayne Harrison say they created the Phanatic when hired to produce the costume in 1978, entitling them to rights over its usage, while the Phillies are arguing that the franchise is equally responsible. I mean what I say when I tell you this lawsuit is legitimately excellent reading, and I have been following it very closely. The tweaks to the costume may have something to do with the suit, or it may just be a bit of phreshening up.
On YouTube, there’s a video known as “lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to,” a systemically important livestream that is constantly pumping out uncomplicated beats while an anime girl does her homework infinitely. In what was universally regarded as a tragedy, YouTube mistakenly suspended the account and the livestream was halted. The account was restored and stream relaunched, but in the process created one of the longest videos in the history of YouTube —13,165 hours, 23 minutes — with well over 223 million views. The last time the popular live stream was down was late 2017.
The toy industry is coming off a down year, and is playing its last card by just assuming a bunch of YouTubers will fix their problems. U.S. retail sales of toys in 2019 were $20.9 billion, down from $21.8 billion the previous year. Blippi, a YouTube kids star, is projected to see $30 million in revenue this year from places outside of YouTube alone, an empire spanning toys, apparel, books and more. Toys branded with the mug of Ryan Kaji, an eight-year-old, hit $200 million in 2019. These merchandising deals can be a massive score for creators, with advances ranging from $50,000 to $1 million, guarantees anywhere from $250,000 to $3 million, and royalties between 10 percent and 20 percent.
A supply chain manager at Cisco Systems made $94,861 in illicit profits after trading stocks and options with inside information that his employer was going to acquire Acacia Communications last July. Investigators became aware of the insider trading when a whistleblower — more specifically, the exact same supply chain manager — turned himself in two days later. The uncommon, to say the least, cooperation means the penalty is considerably lower, just returning the profits and payment of a $47,430 fine.
The Hydro-Quebec utility has 63 hydroelectric stations across the province, and has long looked below Canada’s southern border for possible electricity export opportunities. Quebec’s dams supply 15 percent of New England’s electricity, and analysts are looking at a possible opportunity to increase the flow of power between the U.S. and Canada. The gist is that solar and wind facilities in the U.S. could export to Quebec on sunny and windy days, allowing the hydro to recharge, and then Canadian dams could take over on dark or calm days. This would help the U.S. and Canada decarbonize, but it would require enough cross-border transmission lines to carry 4 gigawatts, or four such lines.
The Astros were caught cheating, admitting to illegally stealing signs during the very 2017 season the club won the World Series. Baseball fans are ticked: a survey of 4,379 self-described Major League Baseball fans found 49 percent disapproved of how Astros players have handled the scandal, which is to be expected, but it’s blowing back on the whole league. Furthermore, 39 percent disapprove of how MLB Commissioner Robe Manfred handled the fallout, and just 25 percent approve. He’s the one who granted players immunity in exchange for cooperation, and who later defended the Astros’ title from those who would hope to see them stripped of it. Indeed, the groundswell appears to favor stripping it: Among the fans as a whole, 68 percent supported forcing the Astros to surrender the 2017 Series title, a figure that was more intense if only slightly higher among avid fans.
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