Numlock News: October 12, 2022 • Jellyfish, Asteroid, Fat Bear Week
By Walt Hickey
Right now 19 countries harvest up to a million tonnes of jellyfish for use in food, a $160 million industry that is likely only going to get larger as palates expand to consume the voluminous number of jellyfish now dominating the seas. Fish stocks may be in decline, but the cnidarians are thriving: Populations are up in different places all over the world, especially in the Mediterranean and the coast of Japan. There are some 4,000 known species, and they already serve as meals for 124 fish species and 34 animals, and some chefs are trying to get them into new cuisines.
The NASA DART mission to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid to see what happened was a remarkable success. The target asteroid Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid Didymos once every 11 hours, 55 minutes. At least, it used to: After the DART spacecraft slammed into it, that orbit is now shorter, down to 11 hours, 23 minutes, a reduction of 32 minutes. The aspiration was to shorten the orbit by about 10 minutes, so this is pretty solidly in the upper range.
Every year, Katmai National Park organizes Fat Bear Week, a week that celebrates the brown bears of the park as they bulk up for winter. The key feature is a social media tournament for the bears, and it’s pretty much the single most important athletic tournament event happening in October. This year, though, park official are investigating the unthinkable: spam bots ballot stuffing. They investigated a matchup between contestant 747, who weighs 1,400 pounds and is one of the largest of his kind on earth, and 435, the 2019 champion. The issue arose when 435 received 9,000 votes in a brief period of time after 747 led all day, after which the partners discovered a wave of fake email addresses. “No comment,” said a commuting salmon.
California voters will decide on two ballot measures which would fundamentally change the way that gambling is handled in the largest state in the country. Besides the impacts on gaming companies and consumers, it’s also a massive issue for the Native American tribes in the state, several of which operate the 66 tribal casinos in California. Those larger tribal casinos also give $150 million to smaller tribes that don’t own or operate small casinos, so the ballot initiatives are causing divisions among the tribes. Proposition 26 would allow in-person sports betting at the 66 tribal-owned casinos and four racetracks, and would allow games like roulette and craps. Proposition 27 goes way further, greenlighting online betting outside of casinos, a move that would be beneficial primarily to large, national gambling companies. The Yes on 26 campaign has got the support of over 50 tribes, while the opposing Yes on 27 campaign can reportedly claim the support of just three tribes.
Shipping titan A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is poised to haul in $29.3 billion this year in net income, nearly double the level of last year. It’s an unfathomable sum for the shipping company, and it’s not expected to last: Next year analysts think that Maersk is going to bring in just $7.97 billion in net income as the unheard-of conditions at ports begin to normalize. For the time being, though, they’re just enjoying the high seas; as it stands its net income is equivalent to roughly 9 percent of the entire GDP of its home country of Denmark.
The global market for anime was $22.6 billion in 2020, and it’s projected to more than double to $48.3 billion by 2030. In the United States, the fandom for the medium skews young and, at least among adults, is dominated by millennials who make up 42 percent of the fanbase, followed by Gen Z adults who make up 25 percent of the fanbase. That said, much of Gen Z is still too young to answer surveys, and it’s entirely likely that they’re a significantly larger slice of the pie than that preliminary figure indicates.
The hottest trend in movies these days is to spend an enormous amount of money getting a bunch of big stars to appear in your movie; that way you can sell a genre or low-key dramatic film to a mass audience that would otherwise skip it. This can be really effective — think like Knives Out or any Wes Anderson movie— but it’s not perfect, as seen with the David O. Russell movie Amsterdam starring (deep breath) Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Zoe Saldana, Rami Malek and Robert De Niro. That kind of wattage costs money — the budget was $80 million and it was advertised for at least $70 million — but the movie flopped, and right now it’s expected to lose $80 million to $100 million.
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