Numlock News: March 8, 2023 • Elf on the Shelf, Foam, Spirit
By Walt Hickey
Elf on the Shelf
The company behind the Elf on the Shelf has cut a deal with HarperCollins for 11 books exploring what it describes as “The Elf on the Shelf universe,” crafting backstories behind the surveillance-themed Christmas phenomenon. Since launch in 2005, Limistella Co. has sold over 19.5 million Scout Elves, which are placed around the home to scare children into believing they’re under the constant surveillance of a polar demigod and to inure children to the realities of life under a domestic intelligence apparatus. Given the Elf on the Shelf’s extensive experience in breaking and entering, in counterintelligence and espionage, it stands to reason this 11-book deal will explore the covert field career of the elite agent known only as “Scout” before he entered lucrative private sector work. Infiltration of reindeer labor activist groups. Sabotage of enemy attempts to enrich pixie dust. Arming the Grinch in ‘82 when he was fighting the Soviets. Orchestrating military-led coups of the Gum Drop Kingdom. Stoking sectarian conflict between the Heat and Snow Miser forces. The controversial assassination of the Grinch in the late ‘90s. Every drop of blood in the snow, explored. The deal also includes an additional cook book.
A group of physicists sought to figure out how beer foamed under various different conditions of temperature and pressure, finding that nearly all the beer foam forms within the first second of a pour during the initial turbulence of entering the cup, and once there’s a layer of liquid on the bottom, the formation of foam slows considerably. They looked at the conditions under three different beer temperatures and three different tap pressures, finding that warm temperatures and high pressures created more foam, a phenomenon first described by Hickey, McNabb et al. at a party behind Ludwell in 2010 pregaming for that party on Cary Street. At the highest temperatures and pressures — 15 C and 1.5 bar — the foam was 82.9 percent of the total drink volume. Foam was found to be most stable when the beer was at 10 C.
Once again the U.S. House of Representatives is back at 435 members with the swearing-in of Rep. Jennifer McClellan of Virginia, a full count it has not been at since September 23, 2019, when Rep. Sean Duffy resigned. Over the course of the previous 1,261 days, for various reasons of deaths and resignations there hasn’t been a full House roster. This isn’t all that uncommon: Since the 109th Congress, which ran from 2005 to 2006, at most a given Congress had a full component of 435 members 16 percent of the time, in the 110th. This wasn’t always the case. States have been taking longer to hold special elections to fill vacancies, at times due to gamesmanship when a governor wants to deprive the competition of a seat for as long as legally possible.
The Justice Department sued to block JetBlue’s $3.8 billion purchase of Spirit Airlines, arguing the deal would reduce competition and increase fares. The combined company could control just over 9 percent of the domestic air travel market, which would be smaller than any of the big four airlines — American, United, Delta and Southwest — that currently control a collective 80 percent of the domestic air travel market. JetBlue argued that the whole reason there even is a big four in airlines is that the Justice Department let them grow through mergers and acquisitions from 2008 to 2013 fairly unimpeded, only suing to block the merger of American and U.S. Airways while letting Delta buy Northwest, United and Continental to merge, and Southwest buying AirTran.
Texas Tech, a popular sports franchise in the Southwest that incidentally produces college graduates, is in the midst of their fifth major athletics scandal in just a few years, and has suspended their head men’s basketball coach. This follows scandals in women’s tennis, softball and women’s basketball that all led to firings or quitting. Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt is one of the highest-paid athletic directors in the country, making $1.64 million a year plus another half-million in deferred compensation and performance-based incentives. The situation is a classic one at the intersection of higher education, sports and money: Texas Tech athletics hauled in $28.7 million in donations in the 2021–22 year, so it remains to be seen if this incident will lead to any accountability.
Cracking Atoms to Crack Molecules
Constellation Energy announced that Nine Mile Point Nuclear Plant in Oswego, New York, has begun producing hydrogen, using 1.25 MW of energy per hour to produce 560 kilograms of clean, green hydrogen per day. Hydrogen is seen by some to be a critical element of a zero-carbon energy transition, and may prove particularly useful in areas where electrification has some issues, like in aviation, steel production, agriculture or long-haul trucking. Three other hydrogen demonstration projects are in the works, at Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio, Prairie Island plant in Minnesota and Palo Verde plant in Arizona, all of which will start production by 2024. Constellation is investing $900 million through 2025 into commercial clean hydrogen production, and all four plants got Department of Energy grants to kick off the process.
K-pop industry giant Hybe Co.’s bid to buy a majority stake in rival SM Entertainment Co. fell through, and Kakao Corp., a South Korean internet conglomerate, is swooping in to buy a big chunk of the company and keep it out of Hybe’s hands. Hybe is best known as the company behind BTS, and the firm was attempting to diversify and buy up rivals as the members of that group volunteer their services to the state. Kakao is offering to take their 4.9 percent of SM shares and buy up to 35 percent of SM for 150,000 won per share, a 1.25 trillion won ($960 million) offer. The move is supported by the executives of SM Entertainment and would avert consolidation in the K-pop industry.
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