Numlock News: October 14, 2022 • Ghibli, Walleye, Westinghouse
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
The pair of fishers who allegedly attempted to cheat at a late September competitive fishing event in Ohio by shoving lead balls down the mouths of the walleyes they had caught have been indicted on felony charges. Each faces three felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools as well as a misdemeanor charge of unlawful ownership of a wild animal. The competition wanted to see who could capture the five heaviest walleye from Lake Erie, but the overzealous fishermen came in with significantly above-weight fish, which upon being sliced open were filled with balls of lead. The prize for the competition was $30,000.
A new survey of American adults found that 25 percent of respondents consider themselves “an avid fan” of shows and movies about serial killers, with an additional 37 percent counting themselves as “a casual fan.” Be it in true crime podcasts or serialized dramas about infamous killers, the genre is certainly having a moment, and demand remains particularly high among young adults with 39 percent of Millennials and 30 percent of Gen Z adults calling themselves “avid fans” of serial killer content. I for one am worried about this trend, but not out of matters of taste or anything. I’m just worried about the end game; what happens when inevitably all the stories about killers are told, and some cunning streaming service executive desperate to bag the next big hit realizes that perhaps it’s time to take matters into their own hands.
This year retirees on Social Security will get the biggest cost of living adjustment in benefits since 1981: an 8.7 percent increase. That will increase the average benefit by $140 per month. The point of the cost of living adjustment is to keep pace with inflation, and to keep pace with the value of the dollar. As of September, prices paid by consumers were up 8.2 percent year over year. Overall, it’s about another $9.1 billion across the whole program.
Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio behind iconic hits like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, is opening their official theme park in Aichi prefecture on November 1, a major milestone for the cultural juggernaut. It’s just over two hours out of Tokyo and covers 3.4 hectares, with three areas ready upon opening and another two — one about Princess Mononoke and another spotlighting Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle — opening by March 2024. There’s an entire exhibition about the food in Ghibli movies, which pretty much has me sold. The park is expected to attract 1 million visitors a year initially and then 1.8 million a year when fully open in 2024. I am looking forward to the ride where through a metaphor of aviation you contemplate the competing needs of industrialization with the ineffable spiritual beauty of the natural world and feel a powerful sense of ennui for the things we lose over the course of growing up, but also meeting Totoro sounds cool too.
There are companies that specialize in rescuing koi fish, and business is booming after a pandemic that led a lot of people to evidently install koi ponds without all that much forethought. When people retire, remodel or just want to move, that can sometimes put the vivid orange koi fish in the lurch: The animals live 30 to 80 years, which can surprise a lot of owners, and can grow up to two feet long and weigh 25 pounds. They need about 10 gallons of water habitat per inch of length, and many owners don’t know what they were getting into so companies exist to get people out of their koi troubles while rehoming the fish to a healthy home.
Westinghouse Electric is being bought by a consortium of clean energy investors and a uranium supplier in one of the most interesting transactions in the nuclear energy space in years. Westinghouse is a nuclear power company that makes the tech used in half of the 440 nuclear reactors in the world, and the purchase by Brookfield Renewable Partners, which owns an enormous amount of wind and solar, and Cameco, a Canadian miner of uranium, signals that the nuclear industry may see a reversal of its ill fortunes amid the turn to no-carbon energy. Brookfield is buying 51 percent for $2.3 billion, Cameco is buying 49 percent for $2.2 billion, and given the $3.4 billion debt on the balance sheet, the deal as a whole is worth $7.9 billion.
A new study published in Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations Review analyzed data from 1969 to 2019, and found that men who belonged to unions over the course of their career made $1.3 million more on average over the course of their lifetimes than men who never joined a union. Union men made a projected $3.4 million from ages 20 to 64, considerably more than the $2.1 million made by those who were never in organized labor.
This week in the unlocked Sunday edition I spoke to Paul Szoldra, who writes The Ruck, a newsletter I’ve really come to enjoy about national security. We discussed some particularly fascinating stories he wrote recently about the future of drones in warfare and why planning is so essential when the military production pipeline is measured in years. Paul can be found at TheRuck.news, on Twitter and on LinkedIn. He’s also the founder and editor of the iconic Duffel Blog.
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