Numlock News: June 17, 2020 • Times Square, Disneyland, Exploding Whale Memorial Park
By Walt Hickey
Lest We Forget
November 12, 1970 was Oregon’s finest hour. A 45-foot, 8-ton enormous sperm whale carcass had washed up on the beach near the coast by Florence, and engineers decided the best course of action was to blow it up with a half-ton of dynamite. This was a fiasco: fetid blubber rained from the skies, chunks that were hoped to be minuscule instead smashed cars, the smell was abhorrent, the KATU footage is the stuff of legend. Fast-forward fifty years later: the City of Florence opens a new park with views of the Siuslaw River and Bridge, holding a community contest to select the name. After narrowing the entries from 124 to just nine, and holding a community survey, with 439 of 856 votes received, Florence is now home to Exploding Whale Memorial Park.
Diego, a hero to his species of tortoises, was returned along with 14 other male tortoises to Española in the Galápagos Islands. Diego had spent decades in sexually epic captivity on the island of Santa Cruz, single-handedly saving his species until recently when a breeding program that began in the 1960s decided its work was done. Diego is about 100 years old, believed to have been taken from Española by a scientific expedition in the early 20th century, and he was sent to the program by way of California's San Diego Zoo. He is believed to have sired hundreds of offspring, and 40 percent of the 2,000 giant tortoises living today are in one way or another his doing. Fifty years ago, there were two males and 12 females of the species alive on Española.
BTS, the Korean pop sensation, performed a virtual concert that smashed records with Bang Bang Con: The Live concert on Sunday afternoon, Korean time. The show reached a peak of 756,000 simultaneous viewers across 107 countries, the largest ever audience for a paid virtual concert.
Depressed tourism will be a reckoning for New York City hotels for likely years to come. The acute issues are well understood: last year, New York hotels had an occupancy rate around 90 percent, and in the week ending June 6, it was down to 47.1 percent of hotel rooms occupied, which while still catastrophic was way better than the 19.6 percent seen in the week ending April 4. However, with several significant attractions of New York — Broadway shows, world-class restaurants, 57-year-old men named Tommy from Maspeth who wear Elmo costumes in Times Square and get real ticked if you take a camera out without coughing up a fiver, outstanding nightlife — on hold for a while, the number of hotel rooms in New York is projected to take a dizzying dip. As many as 25,000 hotel rooms, or roughly 20 percent of the New York total, may not reopen. For perspective, the number of closing rooms is equivalent to the entire hotel market of Jacksonville, Florida.
The City of Anaheim is staring down a $75 million budget deficit due to tourism shutdowns, and some lawmakers are proposing a $1 gate tax per ticket sold to Disneyland in order to help make up the gap. Disney has received over $1.2 billion in state and local subsidies in the U.S. and about a half billion of that comes from California alone. The relationship between the city and the Mouse has been fraught, with city leadership bristling at the amount of budget that goes towards supporting the park and other resorts. Anaheim has a bit more leverage than most cities when dealing with companies playing hardball over tax subsidies, because it’s not like they can up and move Disneyland out of Anaheim.
The United States grows 120 billion pounds of wheat per year, though less than 2 percent of that becomes flour sold at retail. So why, precisely, did the nation nearly run out of the stuff in March? Demand exploded: the four weeks ending April 11, 2019 saw about $55 million worth of flour sold in stores in the U.S., but the comparable period of time in 2020 saw $143.9 million worth of flour sold. The bottleneck wasn’t in wheat, but rather in the manufacturing lines that packaged flour into 2-, 5-, and 10-pound bags for grocery stores. Of the 45 millers who supply King Arthur — the second highest brand in terms of sales in the U.S. — only seven were equipped to produce supermarket-size packaging, while the other 38 could only shop by the truckload or in the industrial-sized bags intended for manufacturers, bakeries and restaurants.
Major League Baseball may be imperiled in the U.S., but baseball’s never been bigger in Taiwan. The four teams of the Chinese Professional Baseball League have been playing in empty stadiums stocked with cardboard cutouts of fans. Games are reaching millions of people through international live streams. The average attendance at a game last year was 6,000 people, but this year games are averaging 700,000 views on Twitter. The league even tapped someone to call the games in English on Twitter to better help the games travel.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The very best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINKin your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends. Go to swag.numlock.news to claim some free merch when you invite someone.