Numlock News: June 24, 2021 • Manatees, Insight, Sticker Price
By Walt Hickey
Amid scarce supply and high demand, the used car market is somewhat bananas right now. A 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR had a sticker price just south of $29,000 when it was brand new on the lot; now, dealers are selling used 2019 Toyota Tacoma SRs for over $33,000. Black Book, a car and truck data company, has found 73 models of one to three-year-old vehicles selling at auctions for higher prices than their original sticker price. The average used vehicle was selling for $26,457 this past month.
American cancelled 120 flights on Saturday, 188 flights on Sunday and upwards of 162 flights on Monday, with another 760 delayed flights on Sunday and 800 delayed on Monday. As a person who lives like ten minutes from LaGuardia and is currently hosting a stranded friend on my couch, I can assure you this is a serious issue. Part of the reason for the cascade of cancellations is that major hubs — Dallas Fort Worth, O’Hare in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Dulles in D.C. — have had a spate of huge thunderstorms roll in, which have presented serious difficulties for the airline, which is now cancelling 1 percent of its daily flights through the middle of July proactively. Also causing problems is American was the only major airline to furlough its pilots — 1,600 were put on a leave of absence — which has caused a bottleneck for training.
NASA’s InSight Mars lander, which has been measuring seismic activity on the red planet, has suffered some power problems. Dust accumulation has obscured about 80 percent of the solar arrays, and it’s stubbornly sticking. As a result, the amount of energy available to InSight on a given day fell from 5,000 watt-hours upon landing in November 2018 to less than 700 watt-hours today. InSight completed its initial 687 day mission and has been funded to continue to operate through 2022, but the choked off power may be a problem. Rovers have encountered similar issues in the past, but managed to get some wind to help out; InSight, which is stagnant, has not enjoyed a breeze.
Managers trying to get employees back into the office have argued that a remote workforce lacks the kind of face-to-face serendipitous connections that office life offers. While understandable, the desire to foster more inter-office connections is somewhat new, and the pre-pandemic trend toward open offices actually shattered the face-to-face interactions they now purport to desire. A researcher found that open offices led to 70 percent fewer face-to-face interactions, and that workers disliked so many forced spontaneous conversations and responded by avoiding each other and wearing headphones.
Pedal-assist bicycles are bound to be an enduring winner of the past year. In May 2020, across 11 cities with bike share programs, 11 percent of bike-share rides were on e-bikes, good for 240,000 rides. As of May 2021, e-bikes accounted for 38 percent of bike-share rides, racking up 1.4 million trips. The electronic bikes are in high demand in a number of cities’ bike-share fleets: in New York, the Citi Bike fleet is 20 percent e-bike, but 38 percent of Citi Bike rides in May were on an e-bike. Similar patterns were seen in D.C., where e-bikes are 13 percent of the fleet but accounted for 23 percent of the rides.
Florida’s manatees are in trouble, and the Fish and Wildlife Service is running an assessment of their population’s heath to determine if the aquatic mammals need to be upgraded from threatened to endangered. The estimated population of manatees in Florida was 5,733 in 2019; this year so far, 800 manatees have died, double the average over the past five years. One issue is the Indian River Lagoon, a 156-mile estuary that draws lots of manatees. Since 2009, the coverage of seagrass in the lagoon has been down 58 percent, largely the cause of algal blooms that have sprung up owing to fertilizer runoff and sewage.
This week, the latest entry in the Fast and Furious franchise hits cinemas, and with a projected $60 million haul in its first three days of release it’s bound to offer a huge boost to a U.S. box office poised for a recovery. So far, the biggest debut of a movie since the start of the pandemic was A Quiet Place Part II, which made $48 million from Friday to Sunday of its Memorial Day weekend release. F9 has already made $203 million in China, and nearly $300 million worldwide as a whole.
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