Numlock News: July 20, 2022 • Pret Index, Raiders, Worm Wars
By Walt Hickey
The Apple Corporation will finally make right on its awful mistakes, namely the crappy butterfly keyboards they jammed into MacBooks from 2015 to 2019 that users found overly fragile and uncomfortable to work with. The company will pay $50 million to settle a class-action suit brought against it by customers who claim that the company knew the keyboards were prone to failure but concealed that information and replaced the faulty keyboards with keyboards that had the same fundamental issues. The settlement covers people in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington who bought a MacBook model from 2015 to 2019, and will pay out $395 to people who replaced multiple keyboards, $125 to people who replaced one, and $50 to people who replaced key caps.
New data from the 2021 NFL season revealed that the Las Vegas Raiders, fresh off betraying their hometown of several decades in exchange for a new venue in Vegas, made the highest ticket revenue in the league last year pulling in $119 million in net gate revenue excluding luxury suites, despite having the third-smallest stadium in the league. The data on NFL gate revenue is fascinating: The San Francisco 49ers made $117 million, followed then by the Patriots, Rams, Giants and Cowboys. In New Jersey, the Giants made $110 million in revenue while the Jets made $82 million, which is even funnier because both sucked equally, only winning four games in the entire season. The worst-performing team in the league was the Detroit Lions, which made $51 million, a little below the Washington Commanders.
Pret A Manger is a mediocre lunch joint in major worldwide cities hawking rudimentary soups, salads and sandwiches with a vague French aesthetic, and nobody who is not a nearby office worker would ever just go there. As a result, much like a Waffle House after a hurricane, sales data from them has been an instrumental strategy to gauge the extent to which urban cores and financial districts have rebounded in terms of worker footprint, one Mediterranean Mezze Salad at a time. In London City, Pret transactions have recovered to 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels, while in London’s suburbs Pret traffic is 118 percent of pre-pandemic levels, an indication of remote work having a marked impact. In London’s airports Pret traffic is 140 percent the pre-pandemic level, showing that while the financial district hasn’t necessarily fully recovered, the travel sector is booming. New York’s downtown is seeing Pret sales at just 38 percent pre-pandemic levels, behind Midtown at 45 percent. Hong Kong Pret sales are at 65 percent the pre-pandemic level, down from a peak of 85 percent last July.
A team of scientists from the U.S. and China got samples from 9,820 shark fin trimmings for sale in markets in Hong Kong to determine which species of shark are most directly affected by the brutal trade in shark fin. Overall, they found 86 total species represented across that sample, of which 61 species of shark are threatened with extinction. The most common species represented was the blue shark, followed by the silky shark, the scalloped hammerhead shark, the blacktip complex and the smooth hammerhead shark.
There are 31 new emoji candidates awaiting approval in September from the Unicode Consortium, a fraction of the 122 emoji added last year and a tenth of the 334 emoji added over the course of 2020. If approved they’ll hike the number of emoji available to over 3,600, which is a substantial leap from the 700 in the set of standard emoji in 2010. This would appear to be approaching a near-limit, as the consortium has been reluctant to add more complex ideas into a single, functionally immortal emoji as combinations of two or more emoji can be used to articulate those thoughts. Indeed, much more and the library may even become a burden on more antiquated or cost-effective phones, and make the user experience of hunting for a specific image among the thousands available increasingly annoying.
No, not that kind of college debt: As smaller colleges and universities buckle under difficulties related to enrollment and debt financing and pandemic-related fiscal instability, the past several years have been a boom time for colleges on the financial outs to merge or get acquired by larger universities. Over the past four years alone, there have been 95 college mergers, more than the 78 mergers seen in the prior 18 years. A big chunk of them involve private, nonprofit schools, and usually the acquirer is within the state and the acquired has fewer than 5,000 students. The overall number of students enrolled in universities in the U.S. was 19.6 million in 2011, a figure that this spring was down to 16.2 million.
In global public health, the “worm wars” are the pervasive, decades-long argument over what precisely the advantage would be to spend a significant amount of time and money deworming people around the world. As it stands, 1.5 billion people are dealing with helminth worm infections and 200 million are dealing with blood flukes, all of which are clearly bad and ideally should be stopped. In 2003, a large randomized control trial found deworming schoolchildren in Kenya had a large positive effect on incomes for the rest of their lives, which it attributed to healthier kids. Then came some debunks, and then came some debunks of those debunks and hence the worm wars began. The reason it’s not all “sure, why not, let’s deworm the world” is that in many ways this kind of funding is zero-sum, and so the money to fund that would have to come from another, potentially more surefire if less efficacious health intervention.
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