Numlock News: March 29, 2022 • Saturn, The Lost City, Vapes
By Walt Hickey
It’s the only Hollywood news from this weekend that anyone is talking about: the shocking events of this Sunday when The Lost City, starring Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock, was revealed to have unexpectedly won the weekend at the box office with a haul of $31 million. The romcom — yes, you read that right, a theatrically-released romantic comedy, in 2022 — beat out The Batman in that film’s fourth weekend and smashed expectations. The weekend was thought to be a sleepy one, with Oscar weekend and the continuing crusade of Batman at the box office, but a solid performance from The Lost City and a decent debut from Indian war epic RRR, which had one of the largest U.S. rollouts for an Indian movie and made $9.5 million, was definitely the most surprising event from this weekend that showed you really have to expect the unexpected in the movie business.
During March Madness, the NCAA doles out money to different conferences depending on the number of games their schools play in the men’s tournament. Thanks to the 18 games that its member schools will play before the final, the ACC — home of Duke and UNC, the forthcoming participants in a game that will cleave central North Carolina in twain — will get $36.4 million over the next several years. The Big Ten conference will get the same amount, given its large number of qualifying teams. Best of all, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which hasn’t had a team play more than one game in the men’s tournament in a decade, will walk away with $8.1 million thanks to the Cinderella performance of member Saint Peter’s.
According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the price of the materials needed to construct highways and streets is up 21 percent in the past year, exceeding the 7.9 percent increase seen in ordinary consumer goods. That’s linked to rises in prices of diesel, as well as truck shortages, rising lumber, steel and copper prices, and labor shortages. Michigan, a state constructed as a monument to man’s folly and stubbornness in the face of a meteorological environment that clearly considers its patchwork roads and thoroughfares an abomination that must be assailed each and every winter, is an excellent illustration of these costs. The Michigan Department of Transportation, the doomed entity with the Sisyphean task of reconstructing the pockmarked turnpikes of the state after the glacier that annually consumes the state recedes, said costs are up 10 percent, with the costs of bridge projects alone up 40 percent.
A new survey of adults who used electronic cigarettes at least once per week found that 26 percent picked up the habit since the start of the pandemic. While the number of teenagers who vape is down, from 27.5 percent in 2019 to 11.3 percent in 2021, many of adults have turned to vaping during the pandemic. Even among those vapers who were already doing so before the pandemic, 37 percent said that today they were vaping more and just 13 percent said they were vaping less.
A new analysis of census data found that in 22 of the 250 U.S. metropolitan areas, women under the age of 30 earned the same amount or more as men under the age of 30. That’s obviously a fairly slim slice of the wage gap problem, but it is notable that in the colossal New York metro, the median woman under the age of 30 made 102 percent of the wage that the median man under the age of 30 made, a figure also logged in the D.C. metro area. That said, only 16 percent of young women who work full time live in a metro where women are at wage parity, while 47 percent live in one of the 107 metros where young women make 90 percent to 99 percent of what young men do, and 17 percent live in the 103 metros where they earn 80 percent to 89 percent of what men do. Nationally, women under 30 who work full time make 93 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same cohort.
The rings of Saturn were at first believed to have formed 4.6 billion years ago along with Saturn, but the Voyager probe revealed just how young the planet’s rings actually are. Given the low mass of the rings compared to the predictions, the rings are actually closer to 10 million to 100 million years old, meaning that they may very well be younger than the dinosaurs. Indeed, they’re likely a temporary exhibition anyway: Saturn’s rings lose material with every micrometeorite that upsets their status quo, and it turns out that we actually have a pretty much primetime view of the rings. Scientists estimate that the rings will disappear in something like 300 million years.
Last year, Major League Baseball cracked down on pitchers applying sticky stuff to baseballs, an adulterant that enabled them to get way higher rotations per minutes on those balls and make them much harder to hit. Fastballs with a spin rate of 2,200 to 2,299 RPM have a batting average of .263, while fastballs with a spin rate of 2,300 to 2,399 have a batting average of .241, and the sticky material really helped the pitchers ratchet up those spins. From April to May of last year, before the crackdown, there was an average of 8.51 runs per game. From June to September, after the league said they’d aggressively investigate people using foreign substances on baseballs, that shot up to 9.25 runs per game. Amid reports that pitchers found ways to evade checks toward the end of last season, the MLB announced that umpires will begin once again checking pitchers for sticky stuff.
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