Numlock News: January 6, 2021 • Luigi, Planet, War of the Worlds
By Walt Hickey
A new £2 coin from the U.K.’s Royal Mint commemorating H.G. Wells has been released with multiple errors, eagle-eyed Wells fans say. First of all, the gigantic Martian walking machine on the back of the coin has four mechanical legs, which is one extra leg for the vehicles described unambiguously as tripods. A second error, one featuring The Invisible Man, from some book whose title momentarily escapes me, depicts him wearing the wrong kind of hat, a top hat, not the wide-brimmed one described in the book. It’s the most egregious scandal in the field of British literary numismatics since the coin commemorating Mary Shelley had the face of a monster labeled “Frankenstein” and the other side was merely a speech bubble where the creature says, “Frankenstein is my name, because I am the monster in the book Frankenstein.” Obviously, the book’s actual title is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.
The price of copper was up 26 percent in 2020 on the London Metal Exchange, finishing out the year at $7,766 per metric ton. Copper’s always been useful and valuable, and the scrap market for it is robust, but now junkyards are looking for jackpots as part of the boomlet in copper. One reason demand’s been insatiable is that the average battery electric vehicle contains 83 kilograms of copper — that high-voltage wiring doesn’t come cheap — compared to 23 kilograms of copper in a typical internal combustion vehicle.
Nintendo has purchased Next Level Games, an incredibly rare acquisition for the gaming company. The undisclosed amount of the purchase is said to be several billion yen, so on the order of several tens of millions of dollars, and it’s the first time Nintendo’s bought a studio since 2007. The company is best known as the developer of Luigi’s Mansion 3, which sold 7.83 million copies between its 2019 release and last September, serving as a key early hit for the Nintendo Switch. Now, I’m not going to draw completely irrational conclusions here like, “Nintendo was so happy with the Luigi game they now want to dive in on that good, good untapped Waluigi I.P.,” but like, come on, this is the exact move you would do, tapping an existing brand with experience in Luigi and Luigi accessories.
The California Energy Commission is looking to make significant changes to state building codes for more energy efficient new homes, expanding on the rule starting last year that all new homes needed solar panels. A new code update, which would take effect in 2023, is poised to scale back the use of natural gas in homes. Environmental groups desire a ban on natural gas in new homes, but likely there will be incentives to get developers to pick electric heating options like heat pumps. Natural gas in buildings accounts for 10 percent of California’s emissions of greenhouse gasses, and heat pumps today account for just 2 percent of residential heating units.
Amid the pandemic, many hospitals across the United States have had to take on massive logistical undertakings, fundamentally changing their models to reflect the new normal. Others have not, staying pretty much the same as normal, and have continued suing patients over unpaid medical debt during a pandemic. One of those was Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York, which sued over 2,500 patients in 2020, seeking an average of $1,700 plus large interest payments. Litigation carried out during economic turmoil and massive unemployment. Following the publicization of these legal efforts, Northwell has announced they will rescind all legal claims filed in 2020 and will stop suing patients during the pandemic.
As we all recall, Pluto was demoted from its status as a planet in part because it was a bit too small. The same disputed planetary status can likewise happen to a celestial entity that is too big, as is the case with two objects in the constellation Ophiuchus. One is about 13 times the mass of Jupiter, the other is eight times the mass of Jupiter, and they’re brown dwarfs, which are just shy of being stars as they can’t fuse hydrogen. These objects in the weird bubble between planet and star are called “planetary mass brown dwarfs,” which is astronomer-speak for “middle child.”
Last year was eventful but actually not event-full, the earliest analysis of marriages and divorces finds. Based on the aggregate trends from vital statistics in five fast-reporting states — Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, Missouri and Oregon — last year saw an estimated shortfall of 339,917 marriages and a shortfall of 191,053 divorces, according to a new study. In 2019 there were roughly 2.2 million marriages in the United States and 1 million divorces, so that’d be a considerable chunk of paperwork that never made it to the county clerk.
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