Numlock News: March 16, 2021 • Iditarod, Strawberries, Fire
By Walt Hickey
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Last night saw the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor, which descended into more shambles than usual after the producer who inexplicably continues to helm the program took a leave following a botched interview where he excused a contestant’s presence at a plantation-themed party. How to repair the relationship with fans over this is a serious problem because after the incidents the show slipped to 4.7 million viewers in early March, down from the 7.7 million who watched the same week last year. There is a remarkable amount of money on the line: each of the past three seasons of the program has generated between $55 million and $71 million in ad revenue, and since it doesn’t pay most of the contestants, it’s ridiculously profitable.
A group of ambitious and dedicated dogs successfully won the Iditarod on Monday, completing the 848-mile trek in 7 days, 14 hours, 8 minutes and 57 seconds. The race began with 46 mushers, of which nine have dropped out since, and saw its route slimmed down from the typical 1,000 miles. The race, which as far as I am concerned is basically just vaccine delivery cosplay, ends in Nome, Alaska, and also led to a personal milestone for a human the victorious dogs allowed to accompany them on the trip. Dallas Seavey, the musher — a role that, as I understand it, is sort of a mascot or coach for the hardworking dogs — matched the record of wins set by Rick Swenson, who won five titles from 1977 to 1991 by also successfully accompanying victorious dogs.
Yesterday saw the announcement of the nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards, with two directors — Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) — becoming the first pair of women nominated for Best Director in the same year, and increasing the number of women nominated for the award from five to seven directors. This year as a whole, 70 women received 76 nominations, which is a record for a given year.
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Pickup trucks have become behemoths. U.S. pickup trucks have added an average 1,300 pounds between 1990 and today, with some models reaching 7,000 pounds. That’s three times the weight of a Honda Civic, and I don’t need to know a whole lot about Newton’s third law of motion to realize that’s really bad for the other entity in the case of a collision. Of the ten top-selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2020, five were pickups. One reason is pickups have been refitted from the single cab style popular in the 1980s — which could seat three people — to a reality where 85 percent of pickup trucks now have extended cabs that can fit five people, with some brands even phasing the single cabs out.
Shipments of conventionally-grown strawberries to the U.S. were up 4 percent year-over-year during 2020, while organic berries saw an 11 percent bump. Acreage in California was up 3 percent, and Florida acreage was up 5 percent, which was a significant increase given COVID-related labor shortfalls during harvest. This rising demand is one reason that an indoor farming startup Oishii has raised $50 million to build vertical strawberry farms, a style of cultivation usually used for leafy greens that the company believes will be possible for strawberries as well with the right pollination technique.
There is a distinct link between employment and education in the United States. Looking at women aged 25 and up, 41.1 percent with a high school degree are employed, 65 percent with a bachelor’s degree are employed, and 68.5 percent with an advanced degree are employed. There’s something odd going on with men, though. Among men 25 and older, 74.6 percent who have a bachelor’s degree are employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, among the 6 percent of the 25-and-up population who are men with graduate and professional degrees, the percentage employed is only 72.7 percent. This is a peculiarity, where additional education is linked to lower employment, and there isn’t a known reason why.
Strategic burns in grasslands early in the dry season can clear out flammable brush and fuel for the flames without the fires devolving into enormous conflagrations that devour all the carbon in an ecosystem and pump it into the atmosphere. As a result, according to a new study, you can ensure fewer carbon emissions by burning grasslands and managing the land. Even more so it’s possible to then sell the carbon credits gained in the process, making it profitable to burn, and that money can be invested in conservation. In Australia, government burn contracts have abated 14 million metric tons of carbon over eight and a half years, generating an estimated $126 million. Worldwide, the study estimates the global annual abatement potential at 90 million metric tons of carbon, which is the equivalent of 19.5 million passenger cars.
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