Numlock News: May 20, 2022 • Babysitting, Geese, 911
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
According to Care.com, the hourly cost of hiring a babysitter has increased from an average of $14.72 in 2020 to $18.05 per hour as of April 2022. The buyer’s market has turned into a seller’s market in the babysitting space, with some sitters commanding prices of $25 to $30 per hour, if not even more. This comes as the market for teen workers surges to a level not seen in years, as businesses are offering solid wages and even a modicum of flexibility to teenage workers. Indeed, this means that one can buy 2.63 Babysitter’s Club books for every hour of babysitting accomplished, a historic high.
As of Wednesday, there were 101 vessels in the queue waiting to traverse the Panama Canal, six over the average so far this year. In its most recent fiscal year the canal saw record traffic after the U.S. and China eased trade restrictions, and amid continued logjams at Pacific ports — not to mention a $5.25 billion expansion that opened in 2016 facilitating larger container ships — the canal’s been busy getting cargo from Asia to East Coast ports.
Microloans have long been seen as a way to get families out of poverty; by offering quick access to capital, those in poverty can potentially apply the small loans toward getting out of the hole and even forming businesses. That’s not without issue, though, a new analysis of loans given out to women by Grameen America found. According to the analysis, 36 percent of those who received loans went on to operate a direct-selling or multilevel marketing business, while 26 percent of those in the control group did, and most of the business ownership gains at 36 months were the result of shady MLMs or direct-selling businesses.
In the 2018–19 season, tourists were 65 percent of admissions to Broadway shows, of which 46 percent were from the United States outside of New York City and its suburbs, with 19 percent from other countries. The rest were from New York and its environs, the core that forms the initial audience of any show. With domestic tourism to New York recovering and international tourism to the city on the mend, Broadway is trying to project what to expect in coming years. This summer, hotel occupancy is projected to be 15 percentage points below 2019 levels, largely thanks to decreased international travel, so the producers are eyeing 2024 as the year international tourism is truly restored.
Direct Air Capture
On Thursday, the Department of Energy released a notice of intent seeking four developers for direct air capture hubs, facilities that would remove one million tons of carbon dioxide or more per year. It’s staked by $3.5 billion from the infrastructure law passed last year. Direct air capture has long been a hypothetical element on the ledger of getting the carbon in the atmosphere down, conceptually sucking CO2 out of the air and injecting it underground, or into concrete. Right now, the best direct air removal project on the face of the earth can remove, at best, only 10 metric tons of CO2 per day.
This year, a new and improved emergency services system will roll out across the United States, with AT&T implementing a new tracking system that will get 911 calls to emergency centers more quickly. Apple, Google, AT&T and T-Mobile have all made upgrades that will make it easier to route a 911 call, but the trade-off is that it will also become easier to track a cell phone. The new system from AT&T will take five seconds to locate someone’s cell phone within 50 meters of their location.
Geese are part of a group of organisms called synanthropes, which means that they’re a species that is pretty adjacent to humans, a species in that liminal space between dogs, which are inextricably linked to humans, and, say, bats, which are pretty much doing their own thing and intersect rarely. These are creatures like raccoons, crows and deer, animals that have an enormous amount of independence but nonetheless are pretty proximate to people. For a while, the Canadian goose was on the ropes: In 1970, just 250,000 remained, and a major preservation program was undertaken to give them a possible foothold and habitat in North America. Well, that succeeded, and as of 2010 there were 3.5 million of them, and because they’re fairly aggressive and altogether ungovernable some are wondering if we haven’t gone too far.
This week in the Sunday Edition I spoke to Maggie Koerth, who wrote “America Has A Thing For Hippo Parts” for FiveThirtyEight. We spoke about why the hippo is in the ironic position of being specifically undesirable but, because it’s the most available exotic animal, killed and turned into leather goods on a surprisingly massive scale. Maggie can be found at FiveThirtyEight and on Twitter.
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