Numlock News: March 10, 2023 • Volcano, Hockey Pads, Second Avenue
By Walt Hickey
Have an amazing weekend! Enjoy the Academy Awards, and be sure to check outfor forecasts and to catch up on more stories from me about the show.
Full River Red
The biggest blockbuster of the year so far is Full River Red, an action comedy thriller set in the late 12th century that has made $644 million at China’s box office since its release ahead of the Lunar New Year. It was a surprise winner of that weekend, besting what had been considered to be the blockbuster of the weekend The Wandering Earth 2 amid great word of mouth. Directed by Zhang Yimou, who has three Oscar nominations over the course of his career including for Hero in 2003, it’s the biggest movie of his career and is debuting in the U.S. and Canada next week in 150 theaters.
Before this January, migrants and asylum seekers applying for the humanitarian exemption needed only to present themselves at an official port of entry and turn themselves into Border Patrol agents, but starting in January an app called CBP One has been required to get an appointment. Because this is the ingenious craftsmanship of the Department of Homeland Security, it’s buggy as crap and doesn’t work. Designed by the finest minds in Customs and Border Patrol, the glitchy software has got an abysmal 2.5-star rating on the Google Play app store. Made by the same people who brought you the Transportation Security Administration, obviously it works way, way better for richer people, especially those who have good phones and excellent wireless service.
Team sports among youth are back, with the top five sports seeing participation rates at 107 percent of their pre-pandemic levels, and youth hours spent on team sports up to 16.6 hours per week, up from 13.6 hours per week before the pandemic. This has made a previously unpalatable sector of the sporting goods industry — equipment — suddenly appealing to investors, with companies like Wilson, TaylorMade, Rawlings, Bauer, CCM and Riddle having champions among the analyst crowd amid healthy margins. Sports equipment has been a bit of a dead zone ever since Nike’s purchase of hockey stalwart Bauer flopped in the early 2000s.
The Volcano Is Satisfied
Kilauea in Hawaii has stopped erupting after 61 days of volcanic activity, according to the U.S. Geological Service observatory. No lava was flowing on the crater floor as of Tuesday. There were what scientists referred to as “ooze-outs” of lava on Monday in the lava lake, and by that afternoon activity was way down. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983, and a 2018 eruption destroyed over 700 homes in the area. This bout of volcanic activity was, luckily, nowhere near as destructive.
Auto repair prices are up and outpacing the overall rate of inflation considerably, with government data showing motor vehicle repair prices up 23 percent over the course of the past year. The cause is a combination of a shortage of workers — the industry will be 642,000 workers short of capacity by 2024 — and an inconsistent supply of auto parts. There are also fewer car repair stops still in business: In 2016 there were 225 vehicles on the road for every service bay, a level that in 2021 rose to 246 cars and trucks for every bay.
The number of people in the U.S. employed as executive administrative assistants and as executive secretaries is down substantially over the past two decades. In 2000, there were 1,369,960 people employed as secretaries and assistants, but as companies slashed administrative positions over the course of the various crises of the past two decades, as of 2021 there were only 508,000 people in those roles. The next decade is not projected to be good for the craft, either; the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that in 2031, just 405,400 people will be assistants and executive secretaries, less than a third of the level at the turn of the century.
Second Avenue Subway
The Second Avenue Subway, which was 10 years away from opening for half a century and only recently got a few stops actually opened up on the Upper East Side, will cost more money than expected to get the planned extension to East Harlem. The MTA had previously reported it would cost $6.3 billion to extend the Second Avenue subway the 1.5 miles with three new stops from East 96th Street up to 125th Street and Lex. The feds then said the number was actually closer to $6.9 billion, but the latest number from the Federal Transit Administration puts the cost of the extension at $7.7 billion, up $800 million from that previous estimate. Needless to say, most other countries don’t pay $972,222 per foot of subway tunnel.
Fascinating couple of Sunday editions lately!
Last week, I spoke to writer Christian Elliott who wrote These underwater cables can improve tsunami detection for MIT Technology Review about subsea cables and how they can aid in tsunami detection. Christian and I talked about what makes these cables such a boon for science, why it’s been so hard to get instruments on to cables, and why the dam appears to have finally broken. Elliot can be found at his website and on Twitter.
This week, I spoke to Kate Fagan, the author of the new book Hoop Muses: An Insider’s Guide to Pop Culture and the Women's Game, out this week. Kate is a brilliant writer and outstanding sports journalist, and this new book is a stylish and rollicking history of women’s basketball from the earliest eras of the game to the far-flung future of the W. The book can be found wherever books are sold, and Kate can be found at her podcast Off The Looking Glass, on Instagram.