Numlock News: July 13, 2023 • Guacamole, Methanol, Led Zeppelin
By Walt Hickey
A bug that made it hard to get your personal referral link has been fixed, now it’s a magic link and even easier. Recommend Numlock to a couple of friends to get the exclusive sticker pack and help us reach new readers:
I’m In This Picture And I Don’t Like It
A new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B detailed an experiment where subjects were offered fairly useless information — the value of different outcomes of a coin flip — in exchange for a brief, painful flash of heat to their forearm. Knowing this information, to be clear, naturally had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the coin flip, and did not change the monetary outcome whether they were aware of the money or not, and yet people still really wanted to know it. At the lowest pain setting, the study reported that people asked to feel the pain in 75 percent of trials to get the information. While some people dropped off as the pain was increased, by the maximum level of pain severity still half of people wanted the stupid information that meant nothing in exchange for pain. In related news, I continue to actively use Twitter.
In the first quarter of the year, small founder-owned companies made up 61 percent of all private sales, up from the generally stable rate of the past decade. Lately a couple types of these small companies are especially attractive to buyers, specifically the heavily fragmented and highly profitable individually-owned companies like plumbers, which have demonstrated to be pretty much recession-proof. Profitable businesses with aging owners whose kids declined to follow them into such trades — things like lumber yards, kitchen interior companies and alarm installation companies — are ripe to be rolled up, and such purchases of founder-owned small businesses accounted for 43 percent of the value of all deals in the first quarter of this year.
No Extra Life
In a first-of-its-kind study, the Video Game History Foundation analyzed a sample of 1,500 video game titles out of a database of 27,000 games released in the United States before 2010, finding that only 13 percent of legacy games remain in print. That’s shockingly low, and that’s comparable to the rate at which pre-World War II music is now in print. Less than 2.6 percent of games released before 1984 are in print, and just 16.5 percent of games released since are available. This isn’t precisely a shock, but it is a wake-up call demonstrating the speed at which preservationist groups must act in order to preserve and maintain this cultural record.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is working with the robotics company Vebu to test a device it developed known as Autocado, which will cut, core and peel avocados destined to become guacamole in the restaurant. As it stands, it takes an average of 50 minutes to make a batch of guac, and it’s a labor-intensive process given the fundamental nature of the avocado. Should the device work as intended, it could cut guac prep time by 50 percent.
Shipping titan Maersk has taken delivery of the first methanol-powered containership, a 172-meter-long, 2,100 TEU capacity feeder ship that’s the first of 25 such methanol-powered ships Maersk has on order. The ship was ordered from Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea and will be operated along a shipping route in the Baltic Sea. The company is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040, and a new fleet of methanol-powered vessels is one way they’re trying to accomplish that, with 12 16,000 TEU and six 17,000 TEU ships from Hyundai Heavy Industries on the way for 2024 and 2025, and six 9,000 TEU ships from Yangzijiang Shipbuilding coming in 2026 and 2027.
One little RFID chip rolled out by the Indian government called FASTag has been a massive boon to their highway budgets and cut down on waits in toll plazas. The FASTag became mandatory in February 2021, and is linked to e-wallets, even seeing expansion to checkout counters as well. The number of toll plazas that jumped over to FASTag increased from 770 to 1,228 since 2021, and it’s also the method of payment for 140 parking lots in 50 cities. Toll collection in India rose from $770 million in 2013 to 2014 up to $5 billion from 2022 to 2023. It’s also saved an estimated 70,000 crore rupees ($8.4 billion) in wasted fuel expenses by making the toll process more efficient.
Whole Lotta Love
Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant owned a 20 percent share of the band’s music assets, and upon his death in 1995 those rights were split between his two children, one of whom is reportedly looking to cash out by selling a 10 percent share of the catalog. While the precise percentages are a little murky, pegging a value on such a massive chunk of music history is a somewhat complicated process. The band still averages slightly more than 1 million album consumption units — the Frankenmetric of the streaming age — and Billboard estimates that the master recordings generate $24 million in revenue annually and the publishing catalog generates around $9.4 million per year, and that after factoring in merch and other stuff, the price tag for all of Led Zeppelin’s music is probably around $670 million.
Get the new 2023 Numlock sticker pack just by telling a couple of friends about the newsletter!
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.