Numlock News: November 30, 2022 • Pokémon, Margaritaville, Phantom
By Walt Hickey
New York area readers: I’m hosting a show at Caveat in NYC on December 15th. It’s a live play of the TTRPG game I designed for Insider’s “Red, White and Gray” project and it should be a ton of fun. We’ve got some excellent guests lined up; buy tickets here.
FTX, the massive crypto company that imploded into bankruptcy, has released a list of the top 50 creditors to whom the company still owes money. Of the creditors who are not insiders of the company, the fourth-largest is a $55,319 debt owed to the Margaritaville resort, the chain of bars and hotels launched by singer Jimmy Buffett. It’s likely just the bill owed from some corporate event or retreat, but I demand we get some itemization here. How many Ridin’ In The Slow Lanes and Tai’d To The Dock premium cocktails from the Changes In Latitude Bar™ are we talking here? How many signature Frenzy Burgers from the Feeding Frenzy™ bar are on that tab? Did the company avail itself of the wares of the Stranded on a Sand Bar™ overlooking the lazy river of the Fins Up! Waterpark™ between binges of Provigil and using customer funds for speculative trading? I need to know more, Jimmy, I just have to.
Phantom of the Opera, which had been slated to close February 18, 2023, ending a record-setting run on Broadway, will extend its run another eight weeks because following the announcement it’s ending, the show is back to making gobs of money. Capacity is back over 100 percent, the week after announcing its closure grosses popped $250,000, and in the most recent week available — the week ended November 20 — the show grossed $1.78 million, which is solid business. This isn’t going to be one of those interminable “we tacked on another eight weeks to our definitely closing show!” repeating cycles, though, as The Majestic Theatre has scheduled substantial renovations right after the extension, renovations that I can only assume are intended to evict a brilliant yet disfigured but undeniably compelling organist from the bowels of its basement once and for all.
Results are in, and the container shipping business made a breathtaking $58.9 billion in the third quarter of this year, an eye-watering figure that nevertheless indicated to some in the shipping business that the good times were coming to an end. While that is still 22.4 percent higher than the already stunning $48.1 billion profit made by the massive container shipping firms in the same quarter of last year, it is in fact down 6.6 percent off the record-setting $63.7 billion made in Q2 of this year. To be clear, the container shipping industry’s profits were 158 percent higher than the combined profits of tech juggernauts Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.
The United States has been on a roundabout kick, having installed some 8,901 traffic circles throughout the country as of late November this year. That figure only encompasses actual modern roundabouts and excluded 700 traffic-calming circles and roughly 160 rotaries, so the true figure for “weird circular traffic patterns in the roadway” is likely higher. That’s up significantly from the 3,713 roundabouts in the U.S. as of 2010 and the 356 roundabouts in 2000, marking a shift in the design philosophy of traffic engineers. The safety gains of a roundabout are considerable compared to a two-way stop, and installing one can reduce fatal crashes by a factor of 90 percent.
Lobster bait has primarily been herring and mackerel, but supplies of those fish have proven to be in peril. Now, lobster and snow crab fisheries are interested in alternative baits that are more sustainable and continually accessible. One research team looking into this tested 20 different baits, from mackerel to chicken carcasses to seafood byproducts, on actual lobsters in the wild, collecting some 5,000 hours of video of the little beasties shredding various meat products with their claws. The traditional baits were, unsurprisingly, some of the best in the batch, which does make sense. But performing just as well or even better was leftovers from seafood processing — essentially, the parts of haddock that’s left over after fillets are removed, shredded and consolidated into a gross little fish guts sausage — and that’s promising, because when byproduct makes up 80 percent of the bait, that’s a resource that otherwise would have been trashed replacing a herring or mackerel that’s in short supply.
While the vast majority of other rich countries tracked by the OECD saw road deaths decrease during the pandemic, road deaths in the United States were up 5 percent in 2020 compared to the 2017–19 average, and have been rising at the same time that deaths in other countries have been declining. One key reason for this is the rise in popularity of vehicles that reduce risks for people inside the vehicle and escalate them for people outside of the vehicle. Essentially, the increasing popularity of big heavy trucks and SUVs as daily drivers means that when there is a collision, the other guy is in deep trouble. Compared to fatalities in 1994, driver deaths are down 10 percent and passengers are down 42 percent, but the deaths of pedestrians are up 19 percent and the deaths of cyclists are up 17 percent.
What was reputed to be the world’s largest supply of Pokémon memorabilia, with some 20,000 items, failed to reach its reserve price at auction and thus will not sell. The collection, which definitely does not belong to Team Rocket, why do people keep suggesting that, come on don’t be ridiculous, was originally expected to fetch £300,000 at auction, but alas the auctioneer’s attempt to use Hammer Arm was not super effective at the end of the day. I’m not shocked by the failure to sell; after all, it’s not “I want to buy the very best, like no one ever was.”
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