Numlock News: October 28, 2022 • Mauna Loa, Bumblebees, McRib
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! Everyone is getting the Sunday edition this week; we’ve got a very cool guest lined up.
The wholesale price of pork in the United States is down to 97.7 cents per pound, down from as much as $1.30 per pound back in the summer. According to the USDA, the U.S. supply of bone-in pork shoulder picnic cuts in storage is up 34 percent, and pork rib stocks were up 79 percent as of September, largely on declining exports to China. This economic situation means one thing: The nation has fomented ideal conditions for the reemergence of the McRib at McDonalds, largely seen as a limited-time offer timed to exploit low prices for pork. The company announced the McRib is back nationwide starting October 31.
Leslie Patton and Michael Hirtzer, Bloomberg
A new study argues that bees can play, becoming the first insects thought to exhibit the behavior. “Play” in animals is any activity that is repeatedly engaged in that doesn’t provide them with food, shelter or other benefits, and has been observed in all manner of creature, but mostly mammals and birds. The new study revisits earlier work where bumblebees were encouraged to engage with multicolored rolling balls in exchange for sugar, except this time they stripped out the food incentive. Over the course of 54 hours, the 45 bees in the study engaged in ball-rolling actions 910 times, which they considered evidence of play.
Grace van Deelen, Scientific American
Officials in Hawaii are warning residents of the Big Island about increased activity from Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. Eruption is hard to predict, and last happened in 1984, but recent increased seismic activity on the volcano has officials and researchers a bit skittish. The population of the island is significantly higher today than it was back then — 92,000 lived on the Big Island in 1980 compared to 200,000 today — which may put new development at risk. The volcano is 13,679 feet above sea level and makes up 51 percent of Hawaii Island’s landmass. Last month, the number of earthquakes at the summit increased from the typical 10 to 20 per day up to 40 to 50 earthquakes per day.
Audrey McAvoy, The Associated Press
Bayer AG is designing short-stature corn that will grow to a mature height of about five feet, significantly shorter than the 9-foot to 12-foot height most corn comes in at now. The motivation is to reduce the risk of crop disaster during high wind events, like a derecho in 2020 that caused $11 billion in damage with 100-mile-per-hour winds. Bayer will raise 60,000 acres of short-stature corn next year, and by 2024 plans to roll out the seeds nationally where it expects to get it onto 700,000 acres.
Tarso Veloso Ribeiro and Michael Hirtzer, Bloomberg
Shares of Meta Platforms, known by all normal people as Facebook, crashed on Thursday after an earnings report showed just how much money the company was blowing on its pivot away from being a successful advertising company to an as yet theoretical “metaverse” company. In the first nine months of the year Meta lost $9.4 billion on its metaverse unit, and the report said it expects to operate at a much wider loss in 2023 as well. As a result, shares fell 24 percent on Thursday, and the company’s shares are down 67 percent compared to a year ago. The market value of Facebook hit $268 billion on Thursday, down from north of a trillion dollars in September 2021.
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is wrapping its 10th season this weekend with a championship game in Washington, D.C., and this was a particularly great year for the sport based on the viewership data. Ticket revenue was up 125 percent from last year, two California expansion teams in San Diego and Los Angeles are doing great, the four playoff games averaged a record 22,756 attendance, viewership of the regular season games was up 29 percent and the sponsorship revenue is up 90 percent. Next year the league will expand again to two new franchises, and it expects anywhere from five to 10 bids.
Rachel Bachman and Louise Radnofsky, The Wall Street Journal
With leaves falling, many are now pressing homeowners to not bag their leaves, and instead mow them and leave them on the lawn. Every year 8 million tons of leaves are put into plastic bags and sent to landfills, which is wasteful on a couple of different counts. When sent to landfills, the leaves don’t have enough oxygen to properly decompose and will release a not inconsiderable amount of methane. Leaves help grass by decaying and putting nutrients back in the soil.
This week in the podcast version of the Sunday edition, I spoke to Eric Vilas-Boas, who wrote If Rotoscoping Isn’t Animation, Nothing Is for Vulture. Eric is brilliant on the topic of animation; he was one of the founders of The Dot and Line animation blog and is one of the most plugged-in writers on the topic these days. We spoke about why the awards scene around animated film is chaotic, why it’s a demoralizing moment to be in the field, and how streaming has upended the industry. Eric can be found at @e_vb_ and at Vulture.
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2022 Sunday subscriber editions: Mexican Beer · The Chaos Machine · [CENSORED] · Podcast Industrialization · Fantasy Shows · Law Dork · Chinese Box Office · Box Office Recovery · Giant Hornets · Graphic Novels ·