Numlock News: February 7, 2022 • Avocados, Baby Names, Space Station
By Walt Hickey
The price of a 9-kilogram box of Hass avocados from Michoacan hit 540 pesos ($26.23) on Thursday, the single most expensive price on record for this time of year. Looking back over the same week of prior years — the week before the Super Bowl; that is, premium time for consumption of guacamole — last year a 9-kilogram box cost 410 pesos, and 10 years ago it cost just 170 pesos. There are not fears of shortages, and the shipments of avocado are plentiful — a new region of Mexico, Jalisco, just got approval to export to the United States; it’s in large part to growing demand. Per-capita annual guacamole consumption hit 9 pounds in 2020, and is projected to hit 11 pounds of guac per person. Per-sitting guacamole consumption remains steady, at “always all of the guacamole, there is never any remaining.”
Jackass Forever made $23.5 million from 3,604 North American locations, hitting the upper estimates of expectations, and hitting those expectations presumably with a bull or perhaps a spring-loaded hand around a blind corner. It beats Spider-Man: No Way Home which led at the box office for six of the past seven weeks, and after bringing in $748.9 million domestically is just $11.1 million away from beating Avatar for the third-biggest domestic release. It also beats Moonfall, which shows that the only thing more interesting than hitting Earth with its own moon is hitting a skateboarder with literally anything, anything at all whatsoever.
Medical journals often have a complicated and rarely-disclosed financial incentive to publish peer-reviewed studies that show positive outcomes. This is because that when a study shows positive outcomes for a drug, pharmaceutical companies will buy reprints of that study or paper in bulk, and then distribute it to doctors and people who prescribe medications. Reprint purchases can add up to over $2 million, which is a big chunk of change for prestigious papers like The Lancet, which has an annual revenue of around $40 million, and the New England Journal of Medicine, which makes $100 million, a third of which is profit. In 2011, 41 percent of The Lancet’s income came from reprints, according to one of the only analyses of reprint revenue out there. That’s prompting some to push for more transparency.
Baby names are more unique than ever before, with 2020 seeing the percentage of babies who got a top-10 most popular name down to 7 percent. Compare that to the 28 percent of babies who got a name in the top 10 in 1950, or the 32 percent in 1880. It’s not just the top of the crop falling out of favor; the overall universe of likely names is expanding significantly. In 1955, half of American babies had one of 78 names, whereas in 2019 half of American babies had one of 520 names. This is why I believe families should stick to traditional, classic names, like Maximus Decimus Meridius or If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barbon.
The country of Norway has pulled off an incredibly rapid shift in its motor vehicle offerings, with 88 percent of the roughly 8,000 new passenger cars sold in January were fully electric vehicles. That’s up from 53 percent in January of last year, and is already more than the 65 percent of cars sold in 2021 that were electric. Many manufacturers have looked to Norway to test their wares against a discerning market, and it’s paid off: The top car brands were the Audi Q e-tron, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the BMW iX. In January, 19 out of the top 20 selling car brands were fully electric. Only 387 cars with an internal combustion engine rolled off a Norwegian dealership lot in the entire month.
Exports of Japanese food, agriculture, fish and timber products hit 1.23 trillion yen, up 25.6 percent for the country and shattering a 1 trillion yen goal. The U.S. was the destination for 168.3 billion yen of those exports — up 41.2 percent year over year — while China surpassed Hong Kong to be the number one destination for the first time. A few specific culinary exports stand out, with Japanese scallop exports up 104 percent, beef up 85.9 percent and whisky up 70.2 percent. Expanding food exports has long been a goal of the government: Japan only sees 2 percent of its total domestic production in food and farm exports, compared to a country like Britain which sees 18 percent.
Per aspera ad astra, per ruinam in mari
NASA announced its long-term plan for the International Space Station, specifically its long-term plan to smash it into the Pacific Ocean at some point in January of 2031. By that point, a new generation of space stations — privately operated — will be in lower Earth orbit, eliminating the need for a sparking jewel of international collaboration and enduring symbol of the collective hope of mankind to reach beyond its grasp. Presumably, they’ll just rent some space office space from some rich guy, and be assigned a hot desk between some dude from the Space Force and Ashton Kutcher. The plan is to dump the ISS at Point Nemo, a remote area 3,000 miles off the coast of New Zealand and 2,000 miles north of Antarctica, a place where spacefaring nations have dumped 263 pieces of space trash since 1971.
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