Numlock News: May 9, 2023 • Dinosaurs, Rodeos, Bounties
By Walt Hickey
A new paper describes a project where shrimpers in Mississippi are paid a bounty of $5 for every derelict and abandoned crab trap they can remove from the waters. This ghost gear is a real issue for marine life as well as the people who make a living trying to catch that marine life: Lost traps continue to catch crabs even if they’re not being hauled in, an awful cycle where newly-caught crabs become bait for more crabs yet to come. They also get caught in shrimping nets, disrupting those workers. Over the course of the past three years, though, the bounty program has proven to be a solid success, with 45 percent of the shrimping fleet participating, removing 2,904 traps from the waters.
Live Nation, the company behind ticketing juggernaut Ticketmaster, posted $320 million in profit in the first quarter of the year on revenues of $3.1 billion. That profit was up 53 percent year over year, but the company remains on the defensive amid increased scrutiny over their market dominance. Back in January, the CEO was hauled in front of Congress following a botched rollout of tickets for a Taylor Swift tour. The company is also facing scrutiny at the state level, as well as lawsuits from fans alleging unlawful conduct related to the Swift matter.
The Professional Bull Riders organization is bringing bull riding to cities that might not have a rich history of bulls in arenas. To accomplish that, they rely on people to deliver a mountain of dirt that hits very rigorous specifications. For the rodeo in Madison Square Garden in New York, that meant hauling in 35 dump truck loads of 750 tons of dirt into the arena, a unique soil that has clay for firmness and sandy soil so that when the cowboy is inevitably bucked from the bull, the fall isn’t too hard.
Data from a public records request revealed that New York City residents placed 30,377,126 orders from Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Relay over the course of the last three months of 2021, a rate of 337,523 orders per day. The data allows us to see which neighborhoods are disproportionately relying on food delivery while simultaneously depriving delivery workers of safe conditions and public accommodations like restrooms. The Upper West Side, for instance, has seen its community board (CB 7) oppose legislation calling on restaurant owners to allow drivers to use the restroom, reject a charging station and rest hub, and block plans for crosstown bike lanes that could make jobs safer, all while placing a disproportionate 1,262,805 delivery orders over the period.
Wedding favors, where guests of a wedding are given a gift commemorating the event upon exit, have been dipping in popularity over the past several years. The wedding industry remains happy to supply them, with customizable koozies and bottle openers and sunglasses ripe for the taking. According to data from The Knot, though, the rate of giving wedding favors is down 21 percent over the past five years. Though they’re traditional, they’re optional, and many are opting out of it amid concerns of sustainability, not wanting to hand out something that would go to waste, or just efforts to rein in costs.
A new study estimates that in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico alone there are 14,000 unplugged, nonproducing oil wells in offshore and coastal areas. While they may not be pumping petroleum, they’re still prone to leaking all kinds of chemicals that mix poorly with the surrounding environment. The estimated cost of capping just those wells — setting aside the other unplugged wells in the rest of the Gulf — should cost more than $30 billion. For perspective, in the landmark infrastructure bill, $4.7 billion was set aside to address orphan wells, of which $1.8 billion was earmarked for states. Any offshore well in federal waters is regulated in the sense that if an owner goes bankrupt, the responsibility to plug the well reverts to the previous owner, and as a result 90 percent of the wells in federal Gulf waters currently or previously belonged to Chevron, Shell, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, TotalEnergies and Eni.
A new study analyzed sauropods, the long-necked big dinosaurs that encompass famous and iconic dinos such as the Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus. They found that over the course of 100 million years over the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, different lineages of big sauropods emerged 36 different times. This is particularly interesting, because an early hypothesis said that animal lineages get bigger gradually over time, and that this happened in sauropods only on a few independent instances in their evolutionary history. This study instead finds lots and lots of instances of sauropods getting really big depending on their ecological context at many different points across time.
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