Numlock News: July 8, 2022 • Star Wars, Veterinarians, Motorcycles
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
At the time Star Wars began filming in Tunisia in 1976, there were only six stormtrooper helmets completed. These initial six helmets are known as the “sandtrooper” helmets, and only two are known to exist in private hands. One of them — screen-matched to be a helmet worn by a stormtrooper who interrogates a cantina bartender, and also worn by a stormtrooper eventually shot by Han Solo during the Millennium Falcon’s escape — is going up for auction, with an opening bid set at $300,000. For those out of the loop, Star Wars was a famous line of licensed merchandise in the 1970s and 1980s created by toy maestro George Lucas, who would later go on to produce a number of independent films in the late 90s and early 2000s in order to juice sales.
Sales of motorcycles in Japan with larger-than-251cc engines are up 32 percent in the first half of the year, a major rebound, with the 51,035 motorcycles moved in the first six months putting bikes on track to hit over 100,000 annual sales for the first time since 1998. As parts shortages make it hard to get cars, workers with a little extra cash in their pocket are getting on motorcycles. Honda motorcycle sales are up 54 percent, Kawasaki sales are up 69 percent, while Suzuki sales are up 19 percent.
The EPA has a record of 190,000 brownfields, landfills and mine sites, about 162,000 square kilometers, that have potential to be used for renewable energy. For instance, a 0.73 square kilometer landfill outside of Columbus that was converted into a (now defunct) golf course has managed to pull off a transformation into a solar farm set to go live by 2023. The government-owned tract requires about $400,000 a year to maintain the closed landfill, and the solar farm will generate a projected $480,000 a year for the solid waste authority, thus ensuring sustainable maintenance at a mild profit. Pull that off nationwide and you’re talking real money; the National Renewable Energy Labs conservatively estimates you’d need 55,000 square kilometers to run the entire U.S. on solar energy, so the 18,000 closed landfills alone could make a serious dent in energy demands.
It’s In The Fracking Ship
Sand is a critical component in hydraulic fracking, specifically a type of sand with small uniform particles called frack sand. It’s blasted through shale rocks and is the thing that gets the oil and natural gas out. Naturally, because this is 2022, there’s a shortage of sand, specifically about 1 million tons short of it in Texas, and the spot price has hit $55 a ton, up from $22 at the end of 2021, in what one supplier hilariously describes as “sandemonium.” In total, U.S. demand for frack sand is about 5 percent higher than the 25 million tons of frack sand that is actually being produced.
The resignation rate among managers jumped from 3.8 percent in the first half of 2021 to 5 percent in the first half of 2022, according to analysis from Visier, a larger jump in the turnover rate than non-managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 percent of all employed people quit their job in May, down a little bit from the recent high of 3 percent but still high on a historical basis. The departures are causing shakeups in companies, but one study found that a third of quitting managers cited career advancement reasons.
A new study found that whale populations are recovering in the areas around Antarctica following a 1976 ruling from the International Whaling Commission that set a moratorium on hunting fin whales in the Southern Hemisphere. Then, the population of fin whales was only about 3,000, but today they’ve rebounded to an estimated 8,000 whales. They’ve taken a long time to recover — whales give birth once every three to four years, so the rebound was slower than in more quickly reproducing animals — but the steady recovery following the end of the hunting that killed an estimated 700,000 whales is encouraging.
The increase in pet adoptions seen during the pandemic is running headlong into a veterinarian shortage that’s only getting worse. The field, which can be demanding and low-paying, suffers from staggering turnover: 16 percent of veterinarians quit every year and 23.4 percent of vet techs leave annually, according to a January 2020 report. The demand for animal doctors is only going to get higher: In 2030, the U.S. will have a shortfall of 41,000 veterinarians and 133,000 vet techs.
This week in the Sunday Edition I spoke to Amanda Shendruk, who wrote Quartz investigation: H&M showed bogus environmental scores for its clothing for Quartz. We spoke about what sustainability actually means in fast fashion, the problems with the numbers the industry’s group came up with, and the fallout from this investigation. Amanda can be found at Quartz; she’s a visual journalist there and her work is outstanding.
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