Numlock News: March 9, 2023 • Camden, Geothermal, Raccacoonie
By Walt Hickey
A24 held a charity auction selling off props and costumes from Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is in pole position to win Best Picture at the Oscars this coming Sunday. The hot dog hands sold for $55,000, the rock with googly eyes sold for $13,200, and blowing everything else out of the water was Raccacoonie, which sold for $90,000. The film has amassed a devoted fanbase, who I can only assume have either purchased these items or are as we speak plotting an elaborate heist to obtain them.
The New York City Council is mulling a price on public sidewalks and streets as the city considers a permanent long-term arrangement with the outdoor restaurant service that was encouraged during the height of the pandemic for free. Before the pandemic, the rent charged by the city for 150 square feet of sidewalk space was $5,800 annually for restaurants below 96th Street and $4,400 annually outside of the area, as well as a $510 fee for a two-year license. Now the council is trying to figure out how much several parking spaces should be worth, which is bound to have significant implications for the 13,000 restaurants participating in the outdoor dining program.
The Amtrak Downeaster runs 145 miles from Brunswick, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts. Because this is a society, they serve booze on this train. However, there’s a new pickle: The New Hampshire Liquor Authority informed the railroad that owing to a law that forbids serving alcohol that hasn’t been purchased in the state, they can’t sell alcohol on the train during the 35-mile stretch of New Hampshire that is traversed on the Downeaster’s journey. The issue came up when, according to the Liquor Authority, the Massachusetts company that provides beverage service attempted to renew their license to serve alcohol, which was in fact in violation. Officials are working to what has been somewhat ominously described as a “creative solution” and a “unique partnership between New Hampshire and Maine” that will solve the problem.
Morgan Wallen, the controversial country star, has released a 36-song album that is expected to top the Billboard 200 album chart owing to a projected 450 million streams. That massive number is likely due to the surprisingly high number of songs on the album, given that fans listening to it for the first time will likely blast through all 36, thus juicing the number of streams. Large track lists on an album is a new strategy to game the Billboard charts, which have incorporated streaming numbers into the rankings starting in 2014.
A group of citizens from Camden, New Jersey, got a law passed that required Camden-based companies to disclose how many employees are actually based in Camden, a way of gauging if the $1.5 billion in state subsidies designed to increase employment in the city were actually doing anything. The answer? Companies taking gobs of state money to set up shop in Camden, but not actually basing all that many people in Camden. To name a few, NFI LP got $80 million, but employs nine Camden residents out of 524 employees; Lockheed Martin got $107 million but employs three Camden residents of 229 employees; Conner Strong & Buckelew Companies got $86 million but employs just six Camden residents out of 402 employees; American Water Works got $164 million to employ seven Camden residents of 584 employees; and Subaru, which got $120 million to move its headquarters four miles into Camden, now employs just 10 Camden residents out of 786 employees.
Following its split with rapper Ye after a series of abhorrent and antisemitic remarks, Adidas has a big pile of Yeezy brand apparel and sneakers that it has no idea what to do with. According to its annual report, net profit was down 83 percent, in large part because of the company’s decision to press the brakes on its partnership with the artist previously known as Kanye West, which accounted for 8 percent of annual sales. The company has already written off €700 million worth of Yeezy sneakers, and is now trying to figure out if it should sell them and donate the proceeds.
Geothermal energy has a ton of promise, but only 0.4 percent of U.S. electricity generation is derived from harvesting the heat from underground. One issue is that for geothermal to work right now, they need to drill into porous and permeable rock in two locations, which is a unique geological situation. In theory, you could just use fracking techniques to create or widen cracks in solid and hot rocks, which would make it possible to build enhanced geothermal facilities in places where the rock is hot but not very porous. Today, there’s 4 gigawatts of geothermal energy in the U.S., and if there’s a way to make geothermal capacity flexible — to be able to turn it on and off to meet demand — that could add between 25 and 74 gigawatts of carbon-free electricity by 2045. It’s not just theory anymore. The big deal is, with $4.5 million from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E division, a company called Fervo just tried to do the enhanced geothermal techniques, drilling two wells 8,000 feet deep that run 4,000 feet horizontally, then dumping cold water under high pressure into them to make lots of fractures into 380-degree Fahrenheit rock. The trial worked: They were able to run the tests for days, demonstrating that geothermal could be used to abet peak power on demand.
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