Numlock News: May 9, 2022 • Pompey, Obscenity, Cryptocurrency
By Walt Hickey
Doctor Is In
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness made $185 million in its opening weekend, good enough for the 11th biggest domestic launch in history — so pretty good! The movie also made another $265 million overseas, coming to $450 million in total, which is a huge kick for a global box office that had been pretty desperate for some stability in its recovery. For perspective, the first Doctor Strange opened to $85.1 million. The film tells the story of Doctor Strange as he deals with Marvel’s most fearsome foe: the nagging question of how you possibly escalate the stakes of a franchise that has already incorporated time travel.
Friends, Texans, Dealhunters, Return Me That Art
Four years ago, a Texan woman found a charming marble bust at a Goodwill in Austin, for sale for the price of $34.99. Thinking that it may actually be a deal more valuable, she reached out to a number of auction houses, and Sotheby’s identified it as a bust from the Julio-Claudian era, a massive find, thought to portray Sextus Pompey, the son of the guy who got second place in the Roman Civil War. Unfortunately for the finder, though, the bust was not in the clear: It’s the property of the German government, and was probably looted from Aschaffenburg, Germany, by an American soldier during World War II. She’ll get a finders fee, and it’ll be returned to Germany in 2023 after a stint at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Nvidia, which is best known for making graphics cards, agreed to pay $5.5 million to settle allegations that they downplayed the amount of their business that was sold to miners of cryptocurrency, which uses the GPUs to carry out the complicated math problems that go into creating new crypto. The SEC claims that Nvidia misled investors by saying that a huge boost in its sales was related to gaming rather than crypto, because gaming is a relatively stable business where growth could be considered sustainable, while crypto is incredibly volatile and the demand for new GPUs is entirely dependent on wild, vibe-based swings in markets that are based on nothing of actual value. Indeed, the 2018 crypto crash led Nvidia to cut its quarterly earnings projection by $500 million and led to a lawsuit from shareholders.
The population of saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory of Australia has risen from near-extinction 3,000 crocs in 1971 to over 100,000 today, and they’re now thriving. One reason? A new study found that the crocs have over time shifted to a diet of terrestrial food rather than marine food, and that terrestrial diet is now mostly feral swine. Yes, the invasive feral hogs that have exploded in Australia — up to 24 million nationwide — as well as several other places on the earth are fueling the population of crocodiles, which have over the past 40 to 55 years evidently acquired a taste for pork.
New data from New York City reports a surge in complaints about rats to the city’s 311 service, with 7,400 rat sightings called into 311 in April, up from 6,150 in April of 2021 and up over 60 percent compared to the first four months of 2019. The first four months of 2022 saw the highest number of reported sightings in each of those months since the beginning of the data in 2010. It could be other factors beyond a surge in rodents — new transplants and those returned to the city might be irked by the rats, 311 might be more popular — but as humans go out and about more, and dining outdoors becomes standard, the rats that live on the same things we do might also be out and about more. Again, the solution is simple: Y’all hear about these saltwater crocodiles?
New graduates in China are facing a bit of a job crunch, with 10.76 million people set to graduate from undergrad or graduate school this year, up 20 percent compared to 2021, and the number of Chinese students who studied abroad and will return home with degrees will pass 1 million this year for the first time. Part of this is because grad school enrollment popped 22 percent in 2020 as the government pushed people into grad school rather than the workforce. The unemployment rate among those aged 16 to 24 hit 16 percent in March, nearly triple the 5.8 percent overall unemployment rate, and economic researchers think it could hit 20 percent this summer.
Maine has issued 121,000 vanity license plates, and last year the Maine Legislature voted to impose decency standards on their plates, giving the secretary of state the power to refuse to issue obscene plates and recall plates that have already been issued. The secretary of state says that there are about 400 plates in circulation that don’t meet the new standards. However, First Amendment groups are fighting back on this and other such bans on speech through license plates, like a similar California DMV ban that was struck down by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California after a gay man sued for the right to have a vanity plate saying “QUEER,” then considered offensive by the DMV.
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