Numlock News: May 10, 2022 • Soccer, Everest, Ingenuity
By Walt Hickey
Exciting news! Yesterday I won a Pulitzer Prize in Illustrated Reporting and Commentary for editing the comic I Escaped a Chinese Internment Camp. Thank you to all the Numlock readers who have supported the Insider comics.
Also, there’s one less Numlock than usual because I am about to get extremely drunk.
A new study that combed through U.S. tax records found that 62 million American tax filing units — households or individuals — could have had their taxes handled pretty much perfectly by using the kind of pre-populated returns offered by other tax authorities in countries like Denmark, Spain and Chile. In fact, that 41 percent of households and 62 million tax units can just have the government whip up their easy tax form is even an underestimate: Using a less conservative approach, 73 million returns, or 48 percent, can probably just get an automatic tax return without having to pay for prep. Indeed, 7.2 million tax units that aren’t required to file would actually stand to gain about $411 each in tax benefits they aren’t otherwise claiming.
In 2019, the North American truck industry produced 344,560 vehicles, but thanks to parts shortages last year only 264,470 vehicles rolled off the production line. That’s causing some pretty acute supply shortages of trucks, which in turn is producing acute supply shortages of every single other product in America. While hopes were high for this year, with a projected 300,000 trucks produced at the onset of 2022, today those expectations have been dropped to 296,000.
Right now, 1.2 million kids in the United States between the ages of 13 and 17 play soccer, which is nearly five times as many as the 243,000 who play ice hockey. For many, this is evidence that yet again soccer is just over the horizon as the next great American sport. That said, researchers have recently released new discoveries of a location called “Canada,” which forecasters estimate could singlehandedly supply the world’s hockey teams with top-tier players for decades to come, if the resource is responsibly managed.
Kami Rita, a 52-year-old Nepali sherpa, has climbed Everest for the 26th time, smashing the record of 25 summits set by none other than Kami Rita. The mountain had, at that point, been scaled 10,657 times. This year only 316 permits to climb Everest have been issued by Nepal, down from 408 permits last year.
On May 3, NASA lost contact with the Ingenuity helicopter currently on Mars as part of the Perseverance mission. They immediately shut the whole mission down and directed their resources to getting the chopper back in action, which they did after about 24 hours. It’s a testament to how much the helicopter has exceeded expectations — it was planned for five flights, but now has flown for over 7 kilometers across 27 flights — and it was a huge relief when after establishing the link they were able to get the helicopter to charge to 41 percent battery. The issue may be that right now, the helicopter is about to enter the deepest part of Martian winter, and may not be able to continue its mission much further.
Over the past three and a half months, only 4 percent of the songs that made the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 had a classic “ft.” credit, the iconic credit that guaranteed that men like Snoop Dogg and T Pain would get a lifetime of work for a verse or so of effort. This is far lower than the norm: Over the past 10 years, usually something like 20 percent to 30 percent of those songs have a featuring credit, and the credit hasn’t been this out of style since 1995. The reason comes down to money; featuring may be going out of style, but collaborations framed as “X” or “&” are doing just fine, which also means that each performer’s overall streaming listener count benefits equally.
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