Numlock News: October 15, 2019 • Myopia, Truckers, Satellites
By Walt Hickey
Right now, when a satellite runs out of fuel, that’s kind of the conclusion of the journey for that particular spacefarer. Two missions will try to fix that, and one of them is in the works right now: Northrop Grumman’s MEV 1 spacecraft is the first commercial satellite to try to rendezvous and dock to a current satellite in orbit. The spacecraft will aim for Intelsat 901, a communications satellite launched in 2001 that orbits 22,000 miles above the earth that is low on propellant. In January, MEV 1 will attempt to latch on to Intelsat 901, and if it successfully commandeers the vessel and puts it into a new orbit, it can continue to operate. Think of the MEV 1 as a large, gold mushroom, and Intelsat 901 as a Mario Kart player in 7th place. That’s how space works. It’s just science, people.
South Korea - Japan Relations
Japan and South Korea are in a spiraling diplomatic fight over their history following a 2019 judgement from a Seoul court that ordered Nippon Steel and the Sumitomo Metal Company to pay plaintiffs who were forced laborers from 1942 to 1945. An August poll illustrates just how bad it’s gotten: South Korean public views of Japan are nearing an all time low, with the Korean public’s average favorability of Japan (on a scale of 0 to 10) coming in at a yikes-inducing 2.3, dimmer than the U.S.’s mediocre performance (5.45) and even China’s (3.63) and North Korea’s (3.44). Favorability of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (1.1) is lower than that of Kim Jong-un (2.4)
By 2030 a projected 40 percent of the world’s population will be near sighted, up from 28 percent in 2010. The fraction with really severe nearsightedness is projected to double to 516.7 million people over the same period, according to a report published by the World Health Organization this week. On the bright side, I can only assume that demand for seasoned, experienced nearsighted people will hit a premium, which means a huge payday for me, right? The global cost of uncorrected myopia thanks to lost productivity was estimated to be $244 billion in 2015. Genetics play a part but the most important environmental factor affecting myopia is time outdoors, as populations who spend lots of time indoors reading and on computers are prone to it. Basically we’re in the worst case scenario here, people, our society has been weaponized against our own eyes.
African Swine Fever
The disease that wiped out China’s hog industry is believed to have spread to North Korea, despite official reports from the hermit kingdom citing just a single outbreak in May. Five wild boars found dead in or near the DMZ tested positive for the disease, indicating a possible spillover and presenting evidence that North Korea may not be as unscathed as they claim. A dozen outbreaks in South Korea have occurred near the border in the past month, leading to 154,653 pigs culled at 94 farms to stop it. According to South Korea’s intelligence service, the fever has spread throughout the entirety of North Korea, where 80 percent of the protein consumption is pork. That worsens an already dire food security situation where 40 percent of the population is food insecure.
Juiced Ball No More
Major League Baseball’s 6,776 home runs this past season is a record thanks to some sort of change in the baseball itself, a theory known as the “juiced ball” and born out by seriously compelling evidence. In the playoffs, though, the ball has been de-juiced. It is Bruce Banner, unable to Hulk out. A study analyzing the postseason ball found that home runs in the playoffs are down 50 percent from what would have been expected given the 2019 season, and the St. Louis Cardinals analytics department claims a ball is carrying 4.5 feet shorter than it did during the regular season. When Carlos Correra hit a ball with a launch angle of 27 degrees at 103.8 miles per hour, 80 percent of the time that would have been a home run. It was not. Home runs have dropped from 2.8 per game in the regular season to 2.5 per game in the playoffs.
The number of women in the trucking business increased to 234,234in 2018, up 68 percent since 2010. Though women are just 6.6 percent of truckers, employment has been spiking for women behind the wheel as the industry — despite long hours on the road — has fundamental pay equity, as though drivers may be paid by mile, load, or hour, gender doesn’t factor in as it might in other parts of the workforce.
Nonprofit hospitals are required by law to provide free or discounted care to people in poverty, but 45 percent of them still routinely send medical bills to patients who would qualify for the charity care. The 1,134 organizations behind 1,651 hospitals have attempted to bill $2.7 billion worth of care to patients who probably qualified for financial assistance under the policy, a tenth of all nonprofit bad debt reported to the IRS in the most recent year for which there is data. The IRS lets hospitals decide the income threshold. Billing people who shouldn’t have to be billed can have serious financial repercussions, including higher interest rates or lower credit scores thanks to debt that needn’t be outstanding in the first place. Weird how “getting someone to a hospital” could still be easily one of the worst things to ever happen to a person, financially speaking.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Game of Thrones · Concussion Snake Oil · Skyglow · Juul · Chris Ingraham · Invasive Species · The Rat Spill · The Sterling Affairs · Snakebites · Bees · Deep Fakes · Artificial Intelligence · Marijuana · Mussels ·