Numlock News: July 6, 2021 • Almonds, Sticky, Ever Given
By Walt Hickey
California’s almond industry is responsible for about 80 percent of the global supply, a $6 billion business that right now is seeing consistent growth begin to dry out owing to severe drought. Indeed, 2020’s 3.115 billion pound almond crop in the U.S. — up from 1.9 billion pounds as recently as 2015 — was seen as a peak, with one acre of mature almond trees requiring 1.3 million gallons of water a year, about twice the amount needed for vegetables like broccoli or lettuce, though less than rice or alfalfa. Sales for Blue Diamond, the grower-owned almond cooperative, totaled $1.6 billion last year, with sales of Almond Breeze almond milk north of $800 million.
F9: The Fast Saga made $22.9 million at the domestic box office over the July 4 weekend, and $30.1 million over the four-day holiday. It’s now the top grossing Hollywood film released over the course of 2020 and 2021. Following it up was The Boss Baby: Family Business in which an infant with an acuity for capitalism defeats their rivals, which made $16 million, and The Forever Purge, which made $12.5 million over the three-day weekend.
On June 3, the Major League Baseball leaguewide batting average was .236, which would be lower than any single season ever. Then, the league announced a crackdown on the allegedly widespread practice of pitchers putting a bunch of sticky gunk on the baseballs, indicating they would begin to police pitchers. Practically overnight, the spin rate on pitches — thought to be juiced by sticky stuff — plummeted. The average RPM fell 3.7 percent from the 10 days ending June 3, with the average fastball declining from 2,316 RPM as of June 3 to 2,225 RPM as of June 30, and the average slider falling from 2,471 RPM on June 3 to 2,380 RPM as of June 30.
Insurance companies that sell coverage to large companies about their cybersecurity have begun hiking premiums amid a huge spate of ransomware incidents. Premiums for cyber coverage were up 29 percent month-over-month in January, with February seeing a 32 percent increase in premiums and March seeing a 39 percent increase in premiums. This was before the May ransomware attacks that struck meat processer JBS and the Colonial Pipeline. Ransomware-related losses were about 40 percent of cyber insurance claims in North America in 2020, and the very future of the cyber insurance industry will be in doubt should claims keep up: eventually the idea of paying off ransoms will become structurally disadvantageous to the backers of the policies, and they’ll lack the backing to keep doling out policies that permit paying ransoms.
According to a survey of city dwellers in a number of large European and Asian cities, 49 percent of men use a car to move around their city, compared to 36 percent of women. A similar skew is seen among cyclists, where 38 percent of men and 30 percent of women bike as part of their municipal travel. On the other hand, 52 percent of women use the metro, higher than the 46 percent of men, 51 percent of women use the bus compared to 45 percent of men, and 75 percent of women walk compared to 71 percent of men.
A new study published in Nature Geoscience found that a 20 percent increase in forest, uniformly across Europe, would boost rainfall, estimating that total precipitation across the continent would increase 7.6 percent in the summer. A dreaded impact of climate change is a projected steep decrease in summer precipitation across Southern Europe, but converting agricultural land to forests could, according to the research, counteract that.
And As Our Lives Change, Come Whatever
The Ever Given, which crashed into the side of the Suez Canal and held up global trade for the better part of a week, has been released from the diplomatic moorings that were holding it in Egypt. The Suez Canal Authority had refused to release the Ever Given and its 20,000-odd containers worth nearly $1 billion until the canal was adequately compensated for its troubles. At first, they wanted $272 million in expenses, $300 million for dislodging the ship and $344 million in damages. After a round of “oh, are you kidding me, dude?” they reduced that demand to $550 million. While the final settlement was not disclosed, it did include a new tugboat with a capacity of 75 tons. Nine of the crew have already gone home, and the remaining 17 will soon be free to leave.
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