Numlock News: October 18, 2021 • Squid Game, Jackup Boats, Invasive Hippopotamuses
By Walt Hickey
Halloween Kills beat expectations, earning $50.4 million domestically in its initial release, the best showing for a horror movie of 2021 and the best performance for a movie which saw a simultaneous release on a streaming service. That was good enough to beat No Time To Die, which made $24.3 million in its second U.S. weekend, with a global haul of $447.5 million so far. The Last Duel bombed, with $4.8 million for a movie that reportedly cost over $100 million to shoot.
According to documents seen by Bloomberg, Netflix internal estimates put the value of Squid Game at $891.1 million in impact after the South Korean battle royale show has been seen by 132 million people in the past 23 days. According to the company’s estimates, 89 percent of people who started the show watched at least 75 minutes, and 66 percent — 87 million people — finished the series within the first 23 days. That’s a massive hit for a series that Netflix paid $21.4 million to produce, which is incidentally around half the 45.6 billion won that you get when you win Squid Game.
With supply problems plaguing the vehicle business, there are fewer car dealers employed in the United States than there were pre-pandemic. There were 1.15 million people employed at franchised car dealerships in February of 2020, a figure that crashed to 886,000 in April of 2020. The count of car dealers had climbed back to 1,078,000 by December, but it’s remained pretty much flat since, with 1,078,000 employed at dealerships in August.
Successful cocaine salesman Pablo Escobar, during a particularly coke-y phase of his drug lordship, illegally imported two hippos to his compound in Colombia. After the entrepreneur’s death in 1993, those hippos began breeding, and with no natural predators, grew into a herd the largest outside of Africa. This has become an issue, as the over 80 animals have taken over a large portion of the countryside in the vicinity of Hacienda Nápoles, Escobar’s ranch. The Colombian government announced it had successfully sterilized 24 of the hippopotamuses in an attempt to curb the growth of the invasive species.
Out of every dollar spent on food, just 14.3 cents goes to farmers in the United States. For cattle ranchers, this has become a significant problem, because even though retail beef prices are up 12 percent this year, cattle ranchers are seeing the prices paid for head of cattle actually decrease. One contributing factor is that four companies — Cargill, Tyson’s, JBS and National Beef — control 85 percent of the beef packing business. That consolidation has caused problems for farmers and consumers; from 1977 to 2014 they closed 200 packing plants, and industrywide slaughter capacity actually fell from 145,000 head per day in 1989 to 128,000 head per day in 2014. It’s attracted the attention of anti-trust regulators and congressional representatives who have been getting an earful from powerful rancher lobbies.
Otters were pretty much wiped out in large areas of the North American west coast due to the fur trade, but in some areas have mounted a comeback. This is great for the health of the kelp forests and eelgrass meadows they call home. Healthy populations of otters keep the population of sea urchins in check, without which they’d strip the kelp forests down to the sand. A new study found that otters had a positive impact on the genetic diversity of the eelgrass itself, as their hunting patterns are thought to encourage the eelgrass to flower and reproduce sexually rather than just cloning itself. Eelgrass from 15 sites — six of which had had otter populations for decades, three for less than ten, and six with no otters — was genetically sequenced, and the grass from places with robust otter populations had levels of genetic diversity 30 percent higher than the control.
In order to install an offshore wind turbine, a specialized boat called a jackup boat is needed. The boats have legs that are lowered to the seafloor and lift the boat up to install the turbine. There are about 50 of them in the world, and none of them are flagged American. That’s an issue because of the Jones Act, which is a law that forbids foreign-flagged vessels from traveling between two American ports, instead forcing all domestic maritime travel to be handled on U.S.-flagged ships. The wind farm developers have a workaround, anchoring the foreign-flagged jackup ships off the coast, and ferrying parts to it using U.S. barges.
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