Numlock News: June 29, 2022 • Pickleball, Blue Crabs, Elvis
By Walt Hickey
The price of wheat, which has been incredibly volatile since Russia invaded and blockaded major wheat exporter Ukraine, has begun to settle down a bit in the U.S. futures market. The price of a bushel of wheat was reliably around $8 in the months leading up to the invasion, but spiked to a record $12.94 per bushel on March 7. Since then there’s been a ton of volatility and for months the price remained stubbornly above $10 a bushel, but as of June 28 it’s back down to $9.39 a bushel, down 27 percent off the high, and largely due to plans from Russia and Turkey to facilitate safe passage of grain through the Black Sea. Now that the price of bread is in hand, all we need to rein in is the skyrocketing price of circuses.
Ernst & Young has admitted to SEC charges that 49 of its auditors cheated on certified public accounting exams by getting and spreading answer keys, as well as charges that hundreds of other professionals at EY cheated on their ethics exams. As a result, they will pay $100 million, and will retain two independent consultants to fix their issues. Anyway, good luck to those auditors, who are auditing auditors, auditors that upon audit were not good enough auditors to pass an audit of their auditing skills.
The sport of pickleball, a variation on tennis that uses table-tennis paddles and a whiffle-ball on a conventionally-sized court, has exploded in popularity in the past several years with 4.8 million people playing the sport as of 2021, up 37 percent since just 2019. There is a problem, though: When you hit a whiffle ball, it makes a quick high-pitched noise, noise that can be vastly more annoying that a tennis ball being struck. For people who live next to tennis or basketball courts that have been converted to pickleball courts, this noise can be maddening. Anyway, I’m sure the skateboarding community wishes to thank pickleball for taking some of the HOA meeting NIMBY heat off of them.
Japan has long lagged when it comes to women in politics, with the World Economic Forum’s assessment of the country’s political empowerment ranking it 147th out of 156 countries. It’s pretty rough: Just 14 percent of sitting lawmakers in Japan are women as of last November. This election cycle, though, which will be held on July 10, is seeing a ton of women put themselves up to run for office. Right now women account for 181 out of the 545 contenders running for the Upper House election, making up 33 percent of the candidates. The ruling LDP’s slate of candidates is 23 percent women, while the two opposition parties — the CDP and Japanese Communist Party — are each running women as over half of their slate.
Maryland is adding new restrictions to the Chesapeake Bay blue crab harvest amid a distressing collapse in their population. The overall crab population is down 60 percent since 2019, and while that’s not entirely because of overfishing — climate is a major factor there — regulating the harvest is kind of the only quick-acting tool in the administrative toolbox when it comes to managing the crab population. Commercial harvest of female crabs will be limited to 9 to 17 bushels a day in July and August and 17 to 32 bushels in September and October. They’re also for the first time ever capping the number of male crabs that commercial fishermen can haul in to a cap of 15 bushels a day.
Right now, the oldest living individual tree was believed to be Methuselah, a 4,850-year-old tree in the White Mountains of central California. However, a new contender has entered the fray: a Patagonian Cypress in Chile that is 13 feet across and which scientists say sure seems like over 5,000 years old. According to modeling based on 2,465 rings sampled, the researchers estimate the tree is at least 4,100 years old, is most likely 5,484 years old, and there’s an 80 percent chance that it’s over 5,000 years old.
A Little More Action
The Elvis estate bounced around ownership for a while — Lisa Marie Presley sold 85 percent of it to CKX for $100 million in 2005, and then they in turn flipped it for $145 million to Authentic Brands Group in 2011 — and as recently as 2020, the value of the estate was about $400 million to $600 million. Now, with an Elvis movie doing well in theaters and Elvis’ music still succeeding and remaining relevant, it’s now probably closer to $1 billion. Overall, Elvis’ catalog probably produced $12 million in royalties annually over the past three years.
Correction: Modern Pickleball is played with a whiffle ball, not a table-tennis Ball.
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