Numlock News: July 12, 2022 • Futures, Javelins, Robots
By Walt Hickey
A U.S. District Court judge has said that Subway will indeed have to go to court over the proposed class-action lawsuit alleging that it deceived consumers about their tuna. The sandwich shop has been on a blistering PR counteroffensive amid claims from a plaintiff that DNA tests carried out by UCLA’s Barber Lab purportedly found 19 out of 20 samples of Subway’s tuna contained no detectable tuna DNA; while all 20 had chicken DNA, 11 had pork DNA and seven had cattle DNA. Subway argued that the presence of non-tuna DNA was because of eggs in mayonnaise and possible cross-contact, and that the suit should be thrown out, though the judge decided to let this one play out.
Javelins are once again flying in high school track and field events after many programs backed away from the rare varsity athletic contest based exclusively on ancient warfare. The event hasn’t really been popular in the U.S. as schools fear the obvious mishaps, so much so that it’s actually one of the worst events for the U.S. track and field national team. This year, though, there are signs of a comeback for the American velites, with 22 state high school championship meets including a javelin event, up five states in the past six years. In general, the injury rate in high school track and field is an order of magnitude lower than other sports, and reintroducing javelin to the sport can be crucial for preparing the U.S. national team in case rivals bring elephant cavalry or chariots to the forthcoming big meet at Zama.
The South Korean film market is one of the strongest in the world. In 2019, it was the third-largest box office outside of North America, and South Koreans watched an average of 4.37 films a year, the highest figure in the world and substantially higher than the 3.51 films in the U.S. Right now, though, cinemas want a bit of a break from the government: Since the ‘60s, South Korea’s had a film quota that at peak required theaters to feature South Korean movies on at least 146 days of the year, a figure that was eventually dropped to 73 days that still stands today. Clearly the South Korean film business is doing outstanding on a global level — Parasite winning Best Picture, for instance — but their local theaters are financially struggling right now, and because of the quota they’re further forced to push profitable films out of cinemas just because they’re American.
Improving The Future
Lumber futures have been incredibly volatile over the past several years, jumping from around $350 per thousand board feet pre-pandemic all the way north of $1,600 per thousand board feet at the height of it, and someone trying to score one futures contract for 110,000 board feet might see the value of that fluctuate by $20,000 in a single day. Currently it’s around $700 per thousand board feet. The daily trading volume of lumber futures has declined, and to deal with that — and hopefully make the process easier on everyone trying to get two-by-fours in the right place — the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is introducing a new contract. Previously, the 110,000 board feet in the contract — about one railcar full — had to be delivered by rail to a junction in Canada. The new contract will reduce the wood in each contract by about a quarter and require delivery to Chicago by truck.
Shortly after Labor Day, the three-member Copyright Royalty Board will meet in a conference room in the Library of Congress and determine who gets to have several billion dollars from 2023 to 2027. Because of the heavily regulated way that music royalties are calculated, this board is tasked with overseeing a trial and determining the percentage of music revenues brought in by streaming services that are owed to music publishers. From 2018 to 2022, the streamers are paying a 15.1 percent royalty rate, a figure decided on after several years of litigation. Going into the next round, though, the streaming services want to pay 10.5 percent again, while the music publishers desire 20 percent. Based on revenue, the difference between those two percentages would amount to $7.8 billion.
Support among fans for replacing Major League Baseball umpires with automated ball and strike calling systems in coming seasons is pretty high all things considered, with 48 percent of MLB fan respondents to a new poll at least somewhat supporting a full switch to a robotic strike zone in 2024, and just 32 percent at least somewhat opposed to the move. A slightly more gradual move, for instance switching to a system where an automated system calls every pitch and tells the umpire what the pitch actually was in an earpiece, garnered pretty much equivalent support and opposition. This at least would transition umpires into a job as a spokesperson for a robot rather than fully eliminating their positions.
A new report from the United Nations projects that the population of Earth will hit 8 billion on November 15 of this year, with further projections putting global populations at 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050. Over half of that increase will be from only eight countries. Of specific interest is a projected change in the world’s most populous country. In 2021, India’s population was 1.412 billion to China’s 1.426 billion, and India is growing significantly faster than China at this point, expected to surpass China sometime in 2023 as the largest country on the planet. By 2050, China’s population is projected to be 1.317 billion while India’s will be 1.668 billion.
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