Numlock News: March 20, 2019
By Walt Hickey
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It’s been a 19-year process, but finally the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure has firmly entered the mainstream, with future conversations about TAVR being more about surgery as the alternative, rather than TAVR being an alternative to surgery. Sure, it’s less profitable for hospitals — TAVR valves cost $30,000 compared to the $6,000 for surgical valves, yet reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid is similar — but the results are better and TAVR is way less invasive. The width of the devices is down to about 5 millimeters compared to the 8 millimeters it began at, and fears that implantation could cause strokes have been put at ease with a recently presented study finding 1 percent of TAVR recipients suffered a stroke, compared to 3 percent of those who underwent surgery. The market, $3.8 billion last year, will rise to $6 billion by 2021.
Late-night television is a fearsome battleground and the desire to electrify audiences may lead some late-night comedians to wander into, dare I say it, sensitive topics like politics. Some lean into it harder than others. As a result, according to a new Morning Consult survey more Democrats than Republicans had favorable opinions of literally every single late-night host. Stephen Colbert had the widest spread — a 38 percentage point difference between favorability among Democrats and Republicans — a figure that is higher even than The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah and, no joke, Bill Maher, a person who has dedicated his entire professional life to being unpleasant to hear. The late-night audience skews left in general — 54 percent of Dems watched late-night talk shows while 26 percent of Republicans did — and, in general, Democrats had a bigger appetite for late-night hosts delving into politics.
Wite-Out was absolutely essential when a clerk in the typing pool tapped the wrong key on the typewriter and needed to fix the flub lickety-split. That entire sentence is basically obsolete now, so it’s actually a bit surprising to discover that correction fluid is inexplicably doing fine? Wite-Out sales rose 10 percent in 2017 according to the latest available public numbers, and overall sales of correction fluid were up an estimated 1 percent from 2017 to 2018. All despite the fact that overall the U.S. stationary and office supply market has remained stubbornly flat, inching up from $86.4 billion in 2015 to $87.5 billion in 2018.
A new analysis of dead corals found around the Daya Bay in China suggests they were growing between 6,850 and 5,510 years ago. Daya’s ocean temperatures today are colder than those that can sustain vibrant coral reefs, but that time period of growth for the ancient reef coincided with an era when the temperatures around South China were one to two degrees Celsius warmer. So while climate change is pretty much going to boil existing coral reefs alive, there is hope that they could migrate to new territory as temperatures rise in the decades to come. There are plenty of hurdles — I’m loose on my marine science these days, but coral does not strike me to be a particularly migratory beast — but the findings do produce some hope.
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A years-long negotiation between Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming over the fate of the Colorado River in times of drought has finally come to a conclusion, with the states now seeking approval from Congress for the plan. The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the arid West, serving 40 million people and sustaining 7,812 square miles of farmland. The plan would entail states voluntarily giving up water in dry times in order to ensure Lake Mead and Lake Powell remain stable.
Donated devices can come back to bite their previous owners, with recent research showing that among a $650 purchase of 85 used devices, a security firm found that only two were properly wiped while the other 83 had over 366,300 files on them, containing email addresses, Social Security numbers, credit card information, dates of birth and more identifying details. Not suggesting that anyone goes all Dale Gribble here when it comes to the paranoia, but it’s worth overdoing it with the file erasure and hard drive destruction when discarding computers.
The U.S. Air Force’s five-year plan will bring back a new iteration of Boeing’s F-15 fighter at the expense of Lockheed Martin’s new, and at times troubled, F-35. The Air Force had planned to buy eight F-15Xs and 54 F-35s each year from 2021 though 2023. The new plan will instead involve buying 18 F-15Xs and 48 F-35s every year, effectively dropping six of the newer Lockheed planes in exchange for 10 of the older Boeing models.
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