Numlock News: October 4, 2019 • Drive-Thru, Himalayan Pink Salt, Nigels
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! The book club continues this weekend, it’s still not too late to join for this round.
That trendy Himalayan pink salt that’s all the rage? It actually comes from Pakistan, a fact that Pakistan would very much like you to know so they can cut out the middleman. Every year, 400,000 tons of salt are exported from the salt range, a series of hills that are, sure, I guess if you’re generous at least somewhat near the Himalayas. About 100,000 tons of that sale is exported to India at about $40 per ton, with the nation making an estimated $26 million last year. Pakistan was shocked to learn that India was then marking the price up considerably, $300 per ton, and selling to Europe.
An Oregon doctor is suing a fertility clinic at Oregon Health & Science University for $5.25 million after he discovered that a 1989 sperm donation has been used to sire 17 children. Factor in his own four children and we’re very nearly in “full FIFA national soccer team roster” territory, so needless to say something’s gone terribly wrong. Making this even worse is that some of the unexpected biological children live in his area, in blatant violation of the deal that the genetic contribution would be used for no more than five children, who would all be born out of state. The man was paid $40 for the donation 30 years ago.
The process of making a piece of paper requires lots of water, and to make a single A4 sheet you need two to 13 liters. China, which still makes lots of paper, used 3.35 billion tonnes of water in 2014 in the process of making paper, but when that water is discharged it can be toxic to fish and wildlife. The paper business uses 6.4 exajoules of energy annually, and since this is from a British source of information they say “enough to make 87 trillion cups of tea,” so I have literally no idea how much energy we’re talking here because a cup of tea is a ridiculous unit and if this is what Brexit means — ditching the metric system to measure things in units of cups of tea — well, then it’s just gone too far. Anyway, making all of earth’s paper contributes to 2 percent of the world’s carbon footprint, or one-seventh of the U.S. carbon footprint, which now makes sense. The world made 25 percent more paper and paperboard in 2017 than it did in 2000, but used just 5 percent more energy in doing so, which is somewhat better.
On September 28, 434 people named Nigel gathered for a night of music, food, and being named Nigel at a pub in Worcestershire. The occasion: the imminent demise of the name Nigel in the U.K. In 2016, no new boys were named Nigel according to the U.K. Office for National Statistics, a breathtaking figure that usually only happens when someone with a distinctive name does a heinous crime, or runs for president. The years 2017 and 2018 were little better, with 11 and eight Nigels born those years, respectively. An effort was made by the Nigels to extend invitations to Nigellas, yet none attended.
The average wait time at a drive-thru is now four minutes, 15 seconds, with the average wait for food increasing 20 seconds over the past year, according to QSR’s annual report on the stat. The analysis looked at ten fast food chains, nine of which saw times get worse. The worst of the bunch was Chick-fil-A, which was in dead last with 323 seconds in the drive-thru lane, adding a minute over the past year to their waits. Dunkin’ had the best average wait time of 218 seconds, thanks presumably to the simple menu and the fundamental impatience that defines the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions the chain calls home. Things may improve in the drive-thru soon, as companies like McDonald’s spend serious nuggets on AI and customer tracking technology.
The major television networks are not known for pleasant things happening to their programming in the age of streaming, but the NFL is doing surprisingly great numbers this year. Viewing audience is up 4 percent from a year ago, with 16.3 million people per game. Fox’s Thursday game is up 21 percent from last year, and Sunday Night Football is up 5 percent. Overall primetime viewing on CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox was down 6 percent last year, and this year 19 out of the 20 top watched programs were NFL games.
The FTC has taken down the multi-level marketing scheme AdvoCare International, with the company, a former CEO and two key people banned from the MLM business permanently amid charges that they promoted an illegal pyramid scheme. They’ve agreed to pay $150 million for shilling what they described as a life-changing business with unlimited income, but the price was steep. Participants paid $59 to become a distributor, and had to spend $1,200 to $2,400 per year in order to unlock further compensations. According to the FTC’s analysis, in 2016 72.3 percent of distributors did not earn any compensation whatsoever from AdvoCare, 18 percent made $0.01 to $250, and just 6 percent made $250 to $1,000. Those who had significant losses may be able to get some of their money back from the FTC, and the company is required to pay a 100 percent refund on unused products. AdvocCare denies it’s a pyramid scheme.
Last Sunday’s subscriber special was with my friend Rebecca Boyle, who wrote “The Dark Side of Light” in the Atlantic. Check it out, it’s a great read!
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Skyglow · Juul · Chris Ingraham · Invasive Species · The Rat Spill · The Sterling Affairs · Snakebites · Bees · Deep Fakes · Artificial Intelligence · Marijuana · Mussels · 100% Renewable Grid · Drive Thru Dreams · Department Stores & Champion · Baltimore Crab Shacks · Kylie Jenner · Amber Fossils · Self-Improvement ·