Numlock News: March 19, 2019
By Walt Hickey
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With the instant caveat that nutrition studies are weird and should not always be trusted, I regret to announce that eggs are once again bad. A long-term 30,000 adult study found that there are risks to consuming too many eggs, a fact true of literally all food. Still, you really have to be eating a lot of eggs to be worried: people who consumed two eggs per day (14 per week!) saw a 27 percent increased risk of developing heart disease, which is bad news for Oviraptors, Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and no one else.
A team of UC Berkeley researchers have used a genetic therapy to restore partial sight in blind mice. Diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa work by destroying photoreceptor cells in the retina, but other cells that are insensitive to light tend to not die. The gene therapy uses a virus to inject a gene into those other cells to make them light sensitive. The UC Berkeley team made 90 percent of ganglion cells light sensitive during the trial, which is obviously preliminary but pretty encouraging.
Hey, if you want to read more about “gene therapy” I talked to Bloomberg’s Max Nisen all about them in a Numlock Sunday three weeks ago. Just for fun, that interview will be taken out from paid-only for the next day or so if you want to give it a read.
The number of farmers markets in the U.S. rose from 2,000 in 1994 to 8,600 markets in 2019, which is bad because it’s not like there are more farmers now than there were in 1994. While demand is up, that’s still an unsustainable rate. In Oregon, while 62 new markets opened over the course of one multi-year study, 32 closed. The issue is that there are far too many farmers markets and they’re cannibalizing each other’s customers and also farmers. The answer here is fairly clear, obviously we just cancel most of the farmers markets and agree to combine them all into that one near my apartment, it’s pretty obvious.
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The Department of Energy has released details about its future $500 million computer based on Intel and Cray technology. It’ll be delivered in 2021, and will be the first American machine that can surpass a quintillion calculations per second. Because The Department of Energy and I are basically the same type of easy mark, they will also be buying more computers after buying this one. They’re justifying the $1.8 billion expenditure by using vague references to future projects like “code breaking” and “research” that they will finally be able to do with the processing power that apparently the Raspberry Pi behind the router just couldn’t handle. While that’s a likely story, the more realistic answer is China has 227 systems in the top 500 most powerful and the U.S. has 109. At press time, Energy Secretary Rick Perry was presumably browsing Newegg and thinking about heading over to the Best Buy to see if there was anything good in the open box discount bin.
There are 68 teams that make up the men’s bracket of the NCAA’s March Madness tournament and this year, 47 are public universities. Overall, those coaches make a combined $96,259,815, or $2,139,107 on average. Some, but not all, of that gets some pretty reliable return-on-investment: John Calipari at Kentucky does make $7.95 million per year, but the school’s basketball program brought in $49.7 million on average over the past several seasons for a $22.9 million annual average profit. But not every public university is Kentucky, and it’s often rough to be a resident of the states where the highest-paid state employee coaches basketball. I plan to spend March Madness the William & Mary way, which is rooting for no one and gambling amorally.
The federal government has sunk $36 billion into the digitization of medical records, with the end result leaving basically every party involved more miserable than they were 10 years ago. The effort achieved what it desired — 96 percent of hospitals now use electronic health records, up from 9 percent in 2008 — but it’s a patchwork of tech that medical practitioners loathe and hasn’t lived up to the promises of a digital revolution in medicine. It’s hard to see five patients per hour, treat them, enter 100 pieces of data and not screw up. As a result, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found some 21 percent of patients observed an error in their personal electronic health record. Geez, if only the government knew a guy with a supercomputer that could take a stab at this.
The Writers Guild of America is locked in a contentious fight with Hollywood’s Association of Talent Agents, and it could get ugly if they don’t come to terms by the time their contract expires on April 6. The writers contend that the agencies have morphed into something far more complex than simple talent representation and have lost sight of their obligations to negotiate on behalf of their clients when the agencies themselves have become the producers and packagers of content. The agencies counter that packaging deals have made the writers and everyone else a whole lot of money, so maybe they should cool it with the “break up the agencies” routine because that’s not likely to end in a deal. The latest salvo is the agencies’ contention that eliminating packaging fees would have cost WGA members $49 million during the 2017-2018 season. Overall, this is a labor dispute to keep an eye on.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: 65 is the new 50 · Scooternomics · Gene Therapy · SESTA/FOSTA · CAPTCHA · New Zealand · Good To Go · California Football · Personality Testing · China’s Corruption Crackdown · Yosemite