Numlock News: June 29, 2023 • Yachts, Palladium, Flights
By Walt Hickey
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The America's Cup is the most prestigious race in all of yachting, and for nearly the entire existence of the yacht race, the second-most important skill behind "yacht design" has been espionage. The sport has a rich history of maritime reconnaissance, with each of the competing teams employing various degrees of surveillance operations on their competitors, attempting to figure out the latest design innovations. One operative who said he worked for the BMW Oracle Racing team as a "sail analyst" earned around $13,000 a month for his troubles. Some operatives disguise themselves as tourists to take photos of rivals; others analyze grainy photographs of distant hydrofoils. The clandestine operations are coming to an end, though: They're pooling and legitimizing their spies, with each team contributing spies to a centralized pool of surveillors, a Joint Reconnaissance Programme, and each team is assigned a legitimate tail with a chase boat, who then puts that footage into a central pool, thus eliminating the need for every single team to have spies following every other team.
The NABU Network was a computer networking idea before its time, a 1983 proprietary Canadian system that was a proto-AOL. The issue was the proprietary hardware, an 8-bit machine, came to market too late when the 16-bit and 32-bit systems already hit the market. The party was over in 1986, but the saga resurfaced when a guy who has 2,200 pristine machines in his barn — purchased in 1989 for a steep discount — started auctioning them off on eBay, prompting a spike in interest from collectors.
Lighter-than-air vehicles, the sophisticated name for blimps, dirigibles, your rigid air ships, have backers attempting to mount a comeback for the vessels as commercial transportation and freight alternatives. French company Flying Whales has a helium airship that can haul 60 tons, and the British company Hybrid Air Vehicles raised $125 million and has a ship that can hit 130 kilometers per hour, hoping to scale up to 24 aircraft per year. This is a shot in the arm for the industry, which has long been dominated by the likes of steampunk guys named Aloysius H.W. Periwinkle, dirigible ace.
Platinum group metals, or PGMs, skyrocketed in price in 2020, because over 60 percent of all PGMs that go into catalytic converters are extracted in South Africa, where the pandemic shut down mines and transportation issues plagued suppliers. The price of rhodium rose from $6,000 per ounce in December 2019 to $29,000 per ounce in March 2021, with similar spikes in platinum and palladium. This set off a domino effect that ended in Tulsa, where a massive catalytic converter theft scheme saw $545 million exchanged.
Domestic red wine consumption has collapsed in France as the country turns to rosé. France consumes 29 percent of the global supply of rosé, followed by the United States at 14 percent. France consumes 23.6 million hectoliters of rosé, or roughly 20 bottles per person, a rise that has shattered interest in red wine.
This coming weekend is poised to be a record when it comes to domestic travel, with 50 million Americans projected to travel ahead of the Fourth, beating the record of 49 million travelers set in 2019. The average price for round-trip flights around the Fourth of July is down 27 percent year over year. The TSA expects 17.7 million passengers this weekend alone.
A new study from Adalytics alleges that Google has seriously misstated ad delivery when it comes to video ads on third-party videos. According to the company, which analyzed campaigns from 1,100 brands from 2020 to 2023, Google violated promises — that videos ran on high-quality sites, before the main video of the website, with audio on, and that brands don’t pay for skipped ads — 80 percent of the time.
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