Numlock News: March 15, 2022 • Movie Stars, Citrus, Run Aground
By Walt Hickey
Don’t forget to catch up on Oscar season over at the Numlock Awards Supplement.
Grass Is Not Greener
In Las Vegas, a square foot of grass can consume 72 gallons of water every year, while replacing those lawns with native plants can reduce that water obligation down to 18 gallons or less. Water is getting increasingly precious in the arid mountain West. That’s one reason that the Southern Nevada Water Authority started offering residents 40 cents for every square foot of lawn they were willing to rip out and replace with local flora in 1999, increasing it to $1 per square foot in 2003, $2 in 2007, and then today $3 per square foot for the first 10,000 square feet and then $1.50 per square foot after. That’s paid off: Property owners have removed 200 million square feet of turf over the course of the effort, meaning they’ve saved 11.2 billion gallons of water last year and 163 billion gallons over the duration of the project.
The House Managed To Lose
Washington D.C. allows sports betting, but only through the website and app operated by the D.C. Lottery, called GambetDC. The app’s a bit of a mess: It’s glitchy and it managed to be down on iOS on Super Bowl Sunday, which trust me is pretty much the Super Bowl of the sports gambling world. The app cost $215 million over five years to develop, and last week the lottery admitted to D.C. that in its first full year of operation, the D.C. government didn’t make any money. Indeed, after adjusting for the advertising expense D.C. managed to lose $4 million operating a sportsbook. That is a breathtaking failure in a business that is typically defined by the maxim that the house always wins.
It’s Happened Again
A year after the Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal and sent reverberations through global trade, a sister ship the Ever Forward has run aground in the Chesapeake Bay. The 1,100-foot container ship ran aground after leaving the Port of Baltimore bound for Norfolk, Virginia, when proceeding at a speed of 12 knots. The ship needs 43 feet of water to operate in, and the Craighill Channel in which it ran aground is 700 feet wide and dredged to 52 feet, though there are shoals in the water around it with depths ranging from 25 feet to 17 feet deep, as our ship learned the hard way. It’s one of 20 Evergreen F class vessels built for Evergreen Marine, a corporation which presumably ran afoul of some marine god and are doomed to be blown off course time and again in the wine-dark sea after they plundered Troy's sacred heights. Efforts are underway to dislodge it.
Prices for citrus fruit are up 16.2 percent over the past year, as February saw the biggest jump in food prices since April of 2020. While plenty of other staples went up 1 percent to 2 percent in prices from January to February — cereals, meats, beverages — fruits and veggies went up 2.3 percent more, and that category was pushed up specifically by a 6.8 percent month over month increase in the price of citrus fruits and a 5.7 percent monthly increase in the price of oranges and tangerines. This one’s not on the chip shortage or the supply chain; it’s on inclement weather in Florida and Texas, citrus greening disease that’s spread across those states, and a lack of labor.
A new study looked at the demographics of leads and co-leads of the top films from 2020 and 2021, adding to over a decade of research on who gets to be the main character in movies. Women accounted for 41 percent of leads in the films of 2021, which is up from the 36 percent of 2020 but down from the 43 percent of 2019. The overall growth has been slow, though encouraging: Over the past 15 years, 30 percent of leads and co-leads were women. There have been better improvements among leads from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, which in 2021 accounted for 32 percent of leads and co-leads, up considerably from the 15-year average of 18 percent.
According to the agency’s own standards of land health, 54 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management are failing to hit the standards. That’s a lot of land; overall, BLM oversees 246 million acres in the Western United States. In Nevada, 83 percent of allotments don’t meet standards, in Idaho only 78 percent do, and in four other states — California, Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming — all have over 40 percent of their assessed lands failing. Livestock grazing was a major cause of failing land health, responsible for 72 percent — 42 million acres — of failing and overstressed land.
Dutch Elm Disease
From the 1930s to the 1980s, 70 million elm trees in the Americas died due to Dutch elm disease, an ecological disaster that was unstoppable until the 1970s when a researcher at the University of Maine developed a serum to inoculate trees against the disease. By this point, pretty much all was lost for the American elm, but some trees in Castine, Maine were injected with the experimental fungicide. Owing to that, and some favorable geography for Castine on a peninsula, the town’s now one of the few homes left for the some of the last remaining mature American elms. About 300 survive in the village and local area.
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