Numlock News: July 29, 2022 • Giant Hornets, Franchises, Amphibians
By Walt Hickey
The Washington State Department of Agriculture has so far rolled out 1,150 traps over 310 square miles in their attempts to eradicate the northern giant hornet, an invasive species that first showed up in Washington state in 2019. That name is also new, and seeks to change the common name of Vespa mandarinia into something less loaded and contentious as the "murder hornet" or the "Asian giant hornet" it had previously been known as. The shift is the result of entomologists in the state government submitting new names to the Entomological Society of America for a species that, if all goes well, will no longer exist in North America.
A scientific dive in waters near a volcanic ridge near the Azores in the Atlantic turned up some extremely weird sets of holes in a straight line on the seafloor. This is odd, and it looks human-made, but it's not because it's 1.6 miles deep in the Atlantic and they found four more similar lines of holes 300 miles away in an unexplored chunk of seabed. They're thought to be traces of life in one manner or another, and exist at a place where three tectonic plates meet. If you have a hunch as to what it may be — Amigara-esque holes in the ancient fault, Kaiju systematically busting out of the mantle, Lovecraftian horrors plucking out the very stitch-work in the fabric of reality — the oceanographers are looking for tips.
A disproportionate number of collector cars have Montana plates, and the reason is that the state law allows you to establish residency with as little as an LLC; the law doesn’t care about emissions standards, and there’s no sales tax. As a result, buyers of rare and collector automobiles tend to perk up when a vehicle’s got registration in Big Sky Country. In 2021, 10 percent of all McLaren P1s were registered in Montana, and four out of the 100 Pagani Huayras in existence are registered there, all vehicles worth upwards of seven figures.
Netflix has been attempting to develop owned IP that it can turn into franchises, as historically an enormous amount of demand on its catalog has come from franchises that are owned by other companies and merely licensed for a limited time. Right now, 24.3 percent of the demand on Netflix is for licensed franchises the company doesn’t own, like Pokémon or Supernatural, while only 11.6 percent is from franchise shows like Stranger Things that they actually own. Contrast that with rival Disney+, where a whopping 27.8 percent of the demand is for their own original franchises and 21.9 percent is for licensed stuff.
With the FDA ordering Juul’s e-cigarettes off the market, on Thursday tobacco giant Altria cut the value of its investment in the company — for which it paid $12.8 billion in 2018 — another 70 percent, bringing the current value of Altria’s stake in Juul to a mere $450 million. When Altria bought in, the startup was valued at $38 billion, but the latest valuation puts that at $1.3 billion. Most interestingly, that valuation is low enough to allow Altria to exit from a noncompete that it has with Juul, meaning that Altria itself can bring an electronic cigarette to market if it so chooses, though it hasn’t exercised that option yet.
Port Under Attack
The Port of Los Angeles is the subject of around 40 million cyberattacks a month, according to the port’s director. The bulk of them come from Russia and some parts of Europe, targeting the busiest port in the western hemisphere unrelentingly. Supply chains are a meaty target for ransomware and malware, with the port itself moving $250 billion in cargo annually and already contending with logistical snarls unrelated to malefactors.
A new study pegged the amount of money that reptile and amphibious invasive species cost worldwide at $17 billion from 1986 to 2020. Of these, invasive amphibians cost about $6.3 billion and $10.4 billion came from reptiles, with the balance coming from invasions that involved both. Two species in particular are to blame: 96.3 percent of the cost of amphibians came from the American bullfrog alone, predominantly in Europe, while 99.3 percent of the reptile costs came from the brown tree snake alone, mostly in Oceania and Pacific Island countries.
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