Numlock News: October 25, 2021 • Gotham, Arrakis, Canada
By Walt Hickey
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune made $40.1 million at the North American box office, a solid start towards the higher end of projections despite a simultaneous release on HBO Max. The movie got another $47.4 million abroad and has made $220 million globally, which may be enough to get the film a sequel. Dune tells the story of a down-on-his-luck kid named Paul Atreides who, after his dad gets transferred at work, has to move out to the country and handle with all sorts of fish-out-of-water hijinks in a fun-for-the-whole-family adventure. He’ll have to confront all sorts of changes to his body, learn to speak with confidence, deal with rascally Old Man Harkonnen, and maybe — just maybe — meet the girl of his dreams.
The earliest known pair of Michael Jordan’s regular season game-worn Nikes sold for $1.47 million at auction, setting a new record for sneakers at auction. The sneakers, which were worn during Jordan’s fifth game in 1984, sold at the high end of the $1 million to $1.5 million range anticipated pre-auction. They’re not the most expensive shoe ever sold — that’s a pair of Air Yeezy 1s that sold in April in a private sale for $1.8 million — but it is further proof of a red-hot market for footwear.
Last month, Monotype, the largest seller of fonts in the world, bought Hoefler&Co, a New York font foundry that is best known for designing Gotham. The font business has been undergoing rapid consolidation under the private-equity-backed Monotype, which now owns roughly 30,000 digital typefaces including Helvetica, Times New Roman, and Arial. The font business is a good one, with large companies paying royalties for the right to use them, and a 2019 publication put Monotype’s gross profit margin at a fairly wile 85 percent.
Last weekend, a college football game between Penn State and Illinois went into a record nine overtimes. The new overtime rules for college football were designed to minimize injuries to players after two conventionally-played overtimes. At the third overtime and thereafter, it becomes a contest of two-point conversions, and the offensive futility on display kicked in; after five periods with no conversions, both scored in the eighth overtime, leading to a ninth overtime where Illinois won out. I hate to say this, but it really seems like soccer-style penalty kicks might be the ideal solution here.
Minor League Baseball has been running a number of experiments on behalf of Major League Baseball in their ongoing quest to make the game faster and more interesting to watch. Many think stats got them into this mess, and the league thinks stats will get them out of it. There were four ongoing automated umpire experiments in 2021: the Atlantic league had an automated strike zone that was 20 inches wide and ran from 51 percent of batter height to 28 percent of batter height, then switched to a 21-inch-wide zone that ran up to 53 percent of batter height, while the Low-A Southeast league ran a similar A/B test on the strike zone over the course of their season. These experiments may have been slightly beguiled by, uh, mysterious differences in players’ actual and their listed heights. This includes other experiments, like the Atlantic League moving the pitcher’s mound back a foot, the infield shift getting banned in Double-A, and Triple-A enlarging the bases from 15 inches per side to 18 inches. Certainly this data will go towards fixing baseball’s key issues, like how the Astros are in the World Series again.
Over the summer, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced plans to spend $647.1 million (Canadian dollars) to rehabilitate the Pacific commercial salmon industry. Right now, salmon harvests are at 8 percent of historical averages. They plan to close 57 percent of the 138 Pacific salmon fisheries, a controversial and ambitious plan. The DFO is using the money to offer to buy salmon licenses from commercial fishers for market rates, taking them off the market. There are 2,109 salmon licenses, and while there are a few major holders — the Jim Pattinson group owns 424, and the Northern Native Fishing Corporation owns 254 — 1,360 people own just one, and the hope is that some may be down to cash out.
In the 1970s, Singapore’s otter population was driven out by pollution and habitat loss. Today, after an ambitious clean-up and reforestation plan, the city-state is now home to at least ten otter romps, which is the adorable name for a family of otters. A striking ecological success story, the otters are a bit of a nuisance for some residents, as the bright little animals have learned to use the city’s drainpipes as a conduit throughout its subterranean maze, and no fountain, koi pond, or condo pool is safe from the otters.
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