Numlock News: January 10, 2022 • Palm Trees, Pharma, Coaches
By Walt Hickey
No Way Home
With another $64 million internationally and $33 million domestic, Spider-Man: No Way Home has grossed $1.53 billion worldwide. This weekend saw the film jump The Avengers, Furious 7, Frozen II and Avengers: Age of Ultron to go from the twelfth-highest grossing movie of all time to the ninth-highest ever. If it’s got a little more web left in the shooter, the next two films in its sight on the all-time list would be The Lion King, which made $1.66 billion, and Jurassic World, which has $1.67 billion. This week saw the film open in Japan, and recent tracking has the film overperforming particularly in the United Kingdom, which is where Tom Holland is from. As yet, the film is unreleased in China, the largest market in the world.
The NFL is pretty rife with nepotism, and one of the best ways to get a gig as a coach is to be a direct familial relation of a coach. Of 792 coaches currently employed by NFL teams, 111 coaches are related to a current or former NFL coach, or about 14 percent of all coaches. Science is yet to prove that talent in coaching American football is a genetically passed on trait, so we’re left to assume that the kids got a leg up because back in the ‘70s daddy took the Jets to 4-12. Who could have ever guessed that a football league in which ownership of franchises usually belongs to some kind of heir would put a premium on being someone’s kid? On the average team, there are 3.4 coaches who are related to a current or former NFL coach, 11 out of 32 head coaches are related to a current or former coach, and 24 coordinators — nearly a quarter of them — are relatives of coaches. Also, while we’re talking about it, are we just not going to address that Pittsburgh Steelers mascot Steely McBeam’s great-grandfather was Aloysius Stellan McBeam IV, who sicced a bunch of Pinkertons on striking Staley Da Bears in 1889?
A bunch of anti-virus software has begun turning users’ computers into a swarm of cryptominers, and has been rolling this feature out without a whole lot of notice to customers who just want to keep their computer free of viruses. Norton360 now ships with a cryptocurrency miner that entitles the company to 15 percent of any currencies mined, a move which has Norton users complaining it’s difficult to remove, and as of January 4 runs by default for Norton360 users. Avira antivirus, which has 500 million users worldwide and is also owned by NortonLifeLock Inc., has also rolled out its own crypto miner, which it too says is voluntary. If only there was a specific term to describe unwanted software that undermines computer performance and is discreetly and invasively installed by an outside party which is difficult to remove? I would sure love a program that protects me from those.
Because I cannot have another in my life!
Naming pharmaceuticals can result in some pretty ridiculous drug names, as the producers of Comirnaty and Spikevax — the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — can attest. The Food and Drug Administration has a hugely complex system to get names approved, and usually the process of naming a new prescription drug takes roughly two years. The reason is to limit the possibility of mix-ups at the pharmacy, an inherently noble goal that does necessitate a great deal of linguistic innovation now that there are 36,000 existing drug names in the FDA database and 90,000 in the European Medical Agency database. The FDA sets a standard that a drug name must be 70 percent dissimilar from all other names in the database, a process called the Phonetic and Orthographic Computer Analysis, and which drug companies comply with by paying companies like the Brand Institute to compare proposed names with existing ones through a machine-learning model. Listen, it’s way easier than the alternative, which would be to modestly improve doctor handwriting, a feat that is absolutely out of the question and beyond the scope of even the most cutting-edge medical science.
Over the past 10 years, book reading has remained pretty steady: in 2011, 78 percent of Americans read any book in any format in the preceding 12 months, a figure that remained in the mid-seventies over the decade and in 2021 stood at 75 percent, pretty much flat. And while print books have seen a pretty steady share over the period — the 65 percent who recently read a print book in the 2021 survey is pretty much spot-on with the rate of the previous decade — two formats, e-books and audiobooks, have really popped. Electronic books saw the largest growth from 2011 to 2014, when the percentage of Americans who had read an e-book that year rose from 17 percent to 28 percent, staying mostly flat since. But audiobooks have been on a consistent climb, rising from 11 percent of Americans who’d listened to one in the prior 12 months in 2011 to 23 percent in 2021, a rate of growth that’s been steady over the period.
Palm trees account for 60 percent of the urban canopy in Miami Beach, but the city wants to reduce that to 25 percent over the next 30 years. The reason is that, while pretty, palms aren’t actually trees, and don’t capture carbon particularly well, and also are considerably less effective at making shade. Just adding normal trees, the kind that actually do a really good job of keeping urban areas cooler, evaporating water and providing an oasis effect, and with deep root systems that can help offset the erosion of flooding, can provide long-term improvements in the resilience of a city. On the other hand, palm trees are pretty and I never saw a person make a vaporwave neon aesthetic out of a maple, so, who can say.
A new study found that the area in which a hurricane can be born has been expanding to include areas that previously lacked the high temperatures needed to form the mega-storms, with the number of storms that hit mid-latitude regions between 30 and 60 degrees latitude poised to increase. That means that cities that often dodged the worst of cyclones, like New York, Tokyo, Beijing and Boston, are beginning to enter into the range of powerful storms they often were not built to withstand. The paper found the last time that hurricanes formed at higher latitudes was between 5.3 million and 2.6 million years ago, a period of high temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
This week in the subscriber Sunday edition, I spoke to sports journalists Holly Anderson and Spencer Hall of the Shutdown Fullcast, who just announced they’re launching their new project, Channel 6. Hall and Anderson have been central to online college football coverage since the founding of Every Day Should Be Saturday in 2005, and with the national championship game tonight I thought it would be great to have them on so you can sound incredibly smart at parties with the simple phrase “Nakobe Dean,” check it out. Spencer and Holly can be found on Twitter, @edsbs and @hollyanderson, and at their brand new venture Channel 6.
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