Numlock News: October 3, 2022 • Utah, Lighthouse, Kimchi
By Walt Hickey
The Hooper Island Lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay, originally listed for $15,000, has sold for $192,000. The rusty structure can’t be used as a home or rental property; it’s in a place the Navy calls a “danger area,” and has no dock. There is no water, sewer, electricity or gas, it’s full of asbestos and benzene, and the previous owner — the U.S. Lighthouse Society, an organization full of people who like lighthouses — has been looking to get the “sparkplug” off the books since 2017. Expanding more on that danger area, the lighthouse is in a test range where the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division releases nonexplosive ordnance from aircraft, so, fun neighborhood.
From 2004 to 2014, New York City made $850 million by selling 1,000 taxi medallions, touted as a great investment to possess and a great way to start an essential business operating off the iconic yellow cabs in New York. Then, 80,000 Uber and Lyft cars showed up, and the value of those medallions crumbled. The city has now agreed to provide $225 million in debt relief after finalizing an agreement with Marblegate Asset Management, which is the biggest medallion lender in town. The deal allows drivers to restructure the loans, capping debts at $200,000 and limiting to monthly payments of $1,234 for 25 years.
This year only 10 rap albums have hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, down from 15 last year and 17 in each of the two years prior. Those albums have spent just 11 weeks at No. 1, down from 23 weeks at the same time two years ago. Hip-hop and R&B are 28 percent of the market for music in the U.S., still the largest slice of the musical pie — closest runner-up is rock with 20 percent — but it’s down 2 percentage points from 2020, a concerning shift in a typically slow-evolving mix.
The state of Utah does not have a citizenship requirement for marriage licenses, and Utah County in the state is now the only county that allows international couples to register marriages online. This has made Utah County an unexpected locale for same-sex couples who live in countries that don’t allow same-sex marriage to have a virtual wedding. About 200 same-sex couples from China and Hong Kong have paid the $100 to get a marriage license since 2021. From May 1 to September 20 of this year, at least 77 same-sex couples based in mainland China have been married in Utah County, primarily getting hitched over Zoom.
Gas-powered lawn equipment is considerably less efficient than vehicles, so much so that using a leaf blower for an hour releases the same amount of smog-forming chemicals as driving a Camry 1,100 miles. Emissions from gas-powered lawn equipment accounted for 43 percent of the U.S. volatile organic compound emissions and 12 percent of the carbon monoxide emissions as of 2011. Besides being bad for air quality, they’re also loud, and that’s prompting some commercial lawn care companies to transition to electrical equipment.
South Korea’s kimchi industry is in crisis, as last year almost half of the country’s roughly 1,000 kimchi makers shut down or got out of the kimchi business. The government has begun to intervene, agreeing to invest 58 billion won ($40 million) into two 9,900-square-meter cabbage storage facilities that will supply the domestic kimchi business with cabbage at lower, more reliable pricing. This year the price of cabbage doubled over the course of three months, and supplies have been more sparse. They’re also dealing with external competition from China, whose imports are now 40 percent of the kimchi market in Korea and are offered at a third of the price of locally-made kimchi.
A new study sought to find actual evidence backing claims from authoritarian states about the state of their economies by comparing their stated GDP growth with data about how bright countries’ lights are at night. That’s considered to be a reliable proxy for GDP — richer countries and stronger economies are brighter at night — and the objective was to figure out if the eye-popping GDP figures bandied about by authoritarian states are actually bearing out. The reported cumulative GDP growth in countries that are codified as “not free” was 147 percent from 2002 to 2021, but the light was actually only 76 percent higher in 2021 compared to 2002.
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