Numlock News: March 14, 2023 • Galactic Starcruiser, Lions, Alpine Skiing
By Walt Hickey
Dish Network introduced a feature called AutoHop, which allowed users to skip commercials from DVR content. This feature led to a lawsuit first launched in 2014 from Salt Lake City-based ClearPlay, a company that offers bowdlerization services that allows its users to filter out sex, violence and drugs from streaming video, and has a patent to that effect. They argued that Dish was infringing on their patent, which is a "method of filtering multimedia content without altering the underlying video,” and a Salt Lake City jury agreed, finding Friday that Dish must pay $469 million for infringing two patents. Dish plans to contest the verdict, potentially through an appeal.
Travel Restrictions to Outer Rim
Disney’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser 100-room hotel experience opened last March with a hefty price tag for a two-night immersive experience that purported to put guests into an interactive play-based Star Wars plot, an ambitious plan. However, Disney has started to alert travel agents that it’s cutting the number of “voyages” from three per week to two per week. This follows discounts of 30 percent that were introduced at the end of 2022, and reports that actual occupancy was running at 50 percent for some “voyages.” One issue appears to be price, which is said to cost between $4,800 to $6,000 per stay.
Lions of North America
A new study analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of 39 Pleistocene lions found in North America and Eurasia to figure out the history of lions in North America. The study argues that lions migrated to North America on at least three separate occasions over the Bering Strait land bridge. The first lions made it to North America 165,000 years ago, a lineage of cave lions that came over from Asia and eventually were cut off due to flooding. Then, 63,000 years ago, a new wave of lions crossed over, largely staying in the north and far away from the earlier group that had long since acclimated to the southern climates, eventually dying off 33,000 years ago. The last group made it over 22,000 years ago, dying out with all the rest of the North American lions at the end of the Ice Age.
With a win in a slalom race at the World Cup, Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin has won her 87th World Cup victory, beating the record set by Ingemar Stenmark and becoming the most decorated skier in the history of the sport. She won her 83rd race back in January, which made her the winningest woman on skis, beating the record set by Lindsey Vonn. Shiffrin nabbed the record just before turning 28 years old, which is significantly younger than when Stenmark (at 32) and Vonn (at 33) won their record-setting races. Shiffrin has won 14 medals across 17 world championship starts, a dominant win rate of 82.4 percent, and a solid indication she’s likely got even more wins to rack up before she’s done.
California’s Sierra Nevada range has become hotter and drier amid climate change, and a new study argues that many of the long-established trees there are no longer compatible with the environment in which they live. Regions that were once ideal for conifers like the sequoia, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir have now become increasingly less survivable for such trees. Over the past 90 years, conifers have indeed reacted to these climate changes, by moving uphill: The average elevation of the conifers has moved 112 feet upslope over the period. But the trees left behind are likely doomed; a new study out of Stanford estimated that 20 percent of all the conifer trees in Sierra Nevada are not compatible with their climate anymore.
As yet, no intercontinental subsea fiber-optic cable traverses the Arctic Ocean, but warming means that it may be feasible to make that happen. On project, a 16,880-kilometer cable with a projected cost of $1.2 billion would offer the shortest connection between Tokyo and London, and become operational in 2026. That could make communication between the cities 30 percent to 40 percent faster compared to existing subsea routes, saving 35 milliseconds. This will be attractive to financial trading firms, and the backers really need it to be: The cable must earn $80 million a year over the course of its 25-year lifespan to be profitable.
An oilsands facility operated by Imperial Oil has been leaking toxic wastewater from a tailings pond for almost a year starting in May 2022. The mine is near the Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation, where 78 percent of people harvest food from the territory, and who have potentially been ingesting toxins like arsenic, sulphides and hydrocarbons. Tribal leadership has advised people not to consume fish or wildlife harvested any time after last May. The leak was estimated to be 5.4 million liters, and was reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator on February 4, even though the leaks should have been posted in a compliance dashboard in September 2022. The Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation’s chief is calling for all work to be stopped at the tarsands mine until a full investigation is held into the ongoing leaks.
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