Numlock News: November 15, 2022 • Beer, Christmas Trees, Magic: The Gathering
By Walt Hickey
Budweiser is a major sponsor of the World Cup, shelling out $75 million to bag sales exclusivity at the FIFA event, as well as getting it an excellent advertising platform for the beer company. The issue, though, is that the World Cup is in Qatar, and senior members of the royal family there recently demanded that alcohol sales be relegated to less conspicuous locations. Obviously, the $75 million is intended to garner conspicuousness, so the brewer isn’t exactly thrilled.
A new study found that rats displayed an innate sense of rhythm, with researchers finding that rats bobbed their heads in synchrony with the beat, particularly when it was 120-140 beats per minute. The 20 rats listened to excerpts of "Sonata for two pianos (K.448)" by Mozart at multiple different speeds, as well as “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson and “Sugar” by Maroon 5. The implications of this research are obvious: It’s time to do another Ratatouille but set in the music world; I’m thinking Rat-Tár-touille or something.
Over the past 10 years, private equity has plowed $1 trillion into 8,000 transactions in the health care space. That’s been accelerating: In 2021 alone, $206 billion was put into 1,428 transactions, and the trend doesn’t appear to be losing steam. The issue that some are raising is that the cost-cutting headcount-slashing profit-driven nature of private equity management is perhaps not ideal in an industry where human life is literally on the line. After all, an investigation found that companies owned by private equity interests have paid fines of $500 million and faced 34 lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act since 2014.
About 30,000 hectares of Canada are devoted exclusively to Christmas tree farming, but changes in the climate and conditions have put the industry at risk. As of 2021, there were 20 million fewer Christmas trees being grown in Canada than there were in 2011. The cause is unexpected droughts and extreme weather; trees on farms are unprotected compared to trees in the forest, and as a result when the increasingly common freak storm hits Canada’s tree-growing regions it can make the trees more threadbare and windswept.
A Bank of America analyst is warning Hasbro to stop pumping out Magic: The Gathering cards at the current accelerated clip, because it’s devaluing the business as a whole and could be teeing it up for a crash. Magic: The Gathering is responsible for 35 percent of Hasbro’s annual earnings, and as a result the Wizards of the Coast division has stepped on the gas when it comes to minting new box sets, expansion sets and supplemental sets. In 2022, Wizards has released 39 Magic sets, up from just 15 in 2019. The analyst has also highlighted the $999 Magic 30th Anniversary set in particular, which gets a buyer just four packs of cards but includes reprints of the most valuable cards in the history of the game.
The median Californian uses 48 gallons of water per day, well below the average American household’s water usage of 88 gallons per day. It’s still not enough, and the state of California is looking into desalination, where sea water is turned into drinkable water, as a possible solution to its water problems. The state has 23 groundwater desalination plants that clean 140,000 acre-feet of water annually, but the state’s proposed plan is to increase that production by 60 percent by 2040 with an additional 84,000 acre-feet per year. It’s also got 12 seawater desalination plants that produce 89,000 acre-feet of water per year, but the state has had difficulty getting new plants approved.
Much of the challenge of electrifying vehicles like trucks isn’t necessarily the electricity, as even under best-case scenarios electrifying vehicles won’t have a massive dent on electricity demand. The acute problem is how to deliver that to them, as a new truck recharging station might require a connection to the grid that can handle 5 megawatts, which could take years to build and cost tens of millions of dollars. In 2030, a highway plaza charging stop will require about the same amount of electricity as an outdoor sports stadium, and by 2035 could require as much electricity as a small town.
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