Numlock News: May 3, 2022 • Bridgerton, Deadliest Catch, Hippopotamuses
By Walt Hickey
The Queen’s Ball
Taking a page from those traveling interactive Van Gogh exhibits that swarmed the country last year, lots of television properties are hosting live events to go out and get the most out of their fans. One of them is “The Queen’s Ball,” which is a co-production of Netflix, a company called Fever and the producers of Bridgerton, which brings people together in period dress for a 90-minute interactive show and party in era-smearing aesthetics. It’s right now in Chicago, Montreal and D.C., and is one of thousands of such events put on by Fever, which specializes in this Sleep No More meets Netflix queue style of event. They raised $227 million in funding to put more on, and other live experiences include ones based on Harry Potter and Stranger Things. Why, everyone’s favorite intellectual property, Numlock News, is considering a similar 90-minute interactive show, where guests board a commuter train and an excited man who recently had three Irish coffees attempts to explain MoviePass, while the guests laugh but like specifically the kind of laugh where you just exhale out through your nose really quickly. We’re still working out the kinks.
The average price for boneless, skinless chicken breasts has almost doubled in the past year to $2.64 per pound, but the farmers who raise the chickens aren’t seeing any of that. Chicken farmers’ pay per bird declined 3 percent from 1990 to 2020 after adjusting for inflation, and today gross about 24 cents per four-pound bird. Most of the processing of poultry is handled by just a couple companies, which set prices for the whole market. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods, the second-largest meat processor in the world, said while chicken prices rose 20 percent in Q1 of 2022, their profits were up 48 percent over the same period, with rival Pilgrim’s Pride reporting their profits were up 124 percent.
In 2005, the United States implemented a quota system for red king and snow crab fisheries in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea. New research looked into how this affected the jobs and earnings of those who chase the Deadliest Catch, and found mainly that the quota system led to a massive amount of industry consolidation and fewer jobs, but those jobs that remain tended to be longer-term. Before the quota system — which gave shares to fishers based on their individual histories — the government had a blanket catch limit, which led to a ton of waste and risk. Vessels would race out to catch their crabs as quickly as possible so that they could ensure what they caught would hit market before the catch limit was hit, which meant lost lives and vessels, and fishers had to dump their extra catch overboard after the fishery closed. The new system led to consolidation — from 200 vessels to about 70 crab fishing vessels today — but they have a much longer time to catch their share, safety has improved and waste is down, and overall profitability is up. Get ready for the Discovery Channel’s next huge hit, Responsibly Managed Catch (With A Number Of Economic Trade-Offs).
Sri Lanka owes some $50 billion in loans, and has begun defaulting on those payments. The country has around $7 billion in debt due this year, and decades of government mismanagement, recent tax cuts and the decline in tourism during the pandemic meant that the country’s government is now in a sweeping power struggle trying to get in front of the economic problems. In the past decade Sri Lanka took on $5 billion in debt to China. Neighboring India gave Sri Lanka a $1.5 billion line of credit and $2.4 billion through a currency swap to tide it through the crisis. Tourism is usually a $4.4 billion industry, but the pandemic has not been kind.
A new proposal under consideration by the International Skating Union would make 17 the minimum age for figure skaters to compete at the Olympic Games. Younger skaters, particularly among the women’s events, have an advantage when it comes to landing more intricate jumps, however the pressure and stress and intense training necessary to get a 15-year-old competing in the Olympics is thought to put them at risk of long-term injury and intense stress. The ISU will meet June 5–10 and vote on the proposal, which would raise the limit to 16 for the 2023–24 season and age 17 in the last season before the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.
Several ecological advocacy groups are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add hippopotamuses to the list of species that are covered under the Endangered Species Act, a move designed to rein in a shockingly pervasive trade in the body parts of hippos in the United States. From 2015 to 2019, hippo-exporting countries shipped 11,734 teeth, 5,071 small leather products, 4,184 skins and 3,675 skin pieces, 2,516 trophies and 1,867 tusks. The United States is in most years the destination for about half of all hippo exports.
On Monday, the number of pitchers that a Major League Baseball team was allowed to keep on the roster was 14, which is a very high number of pitchers, but nevertheless the mere introduction of a cap in the number of players per position is new territory for the league. That limit will drop to 13 in four weeks and then potentially down to 12 or 11 in later years. The vast bullpens of MLB teams has been one contributing factor to lots of the offensive issues in the game: The league-wide batting average of .231 in the first several weeks of April is the lowest since 1968’s .230, and the second-highest position-player strikeout rate — 23 percent — on record. Because they can get pulled out and replaced with fresher arms with such ease, starting pitchers see an opponent for a third time in a game in just 14.9 percent of plate appearances, the lowest rate ever. Potentially, this rule could ease up on the white-hot fire coming off the mound and make the game of baseball playable again.
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