Numlock News: July 23, 2020 • Earthquake, Shark Week, World Series
By Walt Hickey
Next week is Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, the annual celebration of predation that last year held an average of 1.4 million total viewers. There is a new rival to the toothy crown in the form of Nat Geo’s SharkFest, and the three-week two-channel event accumulated 612,000 viewers on Nat Geo and 272,000 on Nat Geo Wild last year. This year the competition is heating up, especially with those pesky “Olympic Games” out of the picture. The 32nd Shark Week will feature 23 hours of new material, while SharkFest will run for five weeks and roll out 17 new documentaries. This continued growth brings us ever closer to humankind’s destiny — a gleaming tomorrow when there will be only two seasons, Shark and Christmas.
Venice is cutting the maximum allowable capacity on the city’s gondolas from six passengers to five, citing increases in the weight of tourists who seek to explore the vast canals and sewage flows of the iconic city. The maximum capacity in the larger da parada gondolas will also shrink from 14 passengers to 12. There are 433 licensed gondoliers in Venice and 180 substitutes. These boatmen face a rigorous and intricate exam in order to work in their chosen profession and face high standards of skill testing in order to get a license, or they can just inherit the license from their father, and they’re good to go, not a joke.
The U.S. is staring down a shortage of 12-ounce aluminum cans, with many brewers seeing supply chain problems. Cans have been on a tear regardless of any recent conditions — 50 percent of all beer sold in 2010 was in a can, a figure that rose to 60 percent by 2019 — but a perfect storm of difficulties is jeopardizing the beer distribution system. First, you know, a global pandemic is not really a stellar time to get anything done, so there have been production hiccups to say the least. Second, the taller, slim varieties of the 12 ounce can are running short because of alcoholic seltzer’s vast popularity, prompting the addition of new production lines. Lastly, the shift in consumption from bars (where kegs carry some of the load) to home (where kegs don’t) has put pressure on the can makers, one of the reasons why the time to get a shrink-sleeve can has gone from four to five days to four to five weeks, and why the price has doubled.
A new poll found that the 44 percent of MLB fans believe that winning the 2020 World Series will be less meaningful than winning a World Series in a typical season, which while short of a majority is still more than the 35 percent who said it would be just as meaningful. This is basically a reverse Pascal’s Wager, in that at least 29 fanbases will not win a World Series in 2020, and thus you are probably in that fanbase, so may as well undermine the championship of the abridged 60-game season now because why not? It’s also possible that the 44 percent are just really ticked off about the designated hitter and the Series’ contested legitimacy has nothing whatsoever to do with season length. Baseball fans are incredible at grudges, don’t put it past them.
Donated lungs are viable for six to eight hours before they can no longer be transplanted, and as a result, in the U.S. just 20 percent of donated lungs are deemed acceptable. According to a new paper published in Nature Medicine by researchers from Columbia and Vanderbilt, they were able to buy time by hooking up six damaged lung donations rejected for transplant to the circulatory system of pigs, where they were able to make them viable in 24 hours. In 2018, there were 2,562 lung transplants in the U.S., up 31 percent in five years, but still 365 people on the waiting list became too sick to undergo the procedure or otherwise died.
A planned development of 46- and 35-story skyscrapers around Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood Center has been questioned by the California Geological Survey, which argues that previous studies suggest an active fault running along the development site. The developers argue that the data used by the state in making that determination is inferior to what they’ve collected on site, and that any faults on the property have not moved since the last Ice Age. California law prohibits building things directly on top of earthquake faults — a 6.6 earthquake in 1971 saw 80 percent of buildings on top of a fault suffer moderate to severe damage compared to 30 percent of buildings slightly further away — but what the heck, I say we hear them out.
Contracts between Uber and the airports have left rideshare drivers are on the hook for tickets incurred when picking up customers on behalf of the car service. From 2016 to 2019, the drivers paid $3.8 million in fines to the authority that owns LAX in Los Angeles, according to the Mobile Workers Alliance, with some 11,117 citations being assessed on the drivers. While people in violation of motor vehicle rules should undoubtedly face consequences, the way the fines are actually handled ends up screwing the drivers over: police issue the citation directly to Uber, which ends up docking the violation amounts from future pay statements, leaving the driver no opportunity to contest the amount as they normally could.
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