Numlock News: October 6, 2022 • Shrimp, Parrot Crime, Disney
By Walt Hickey
Thefts of parrots are a surprisingly common crime, with thieves stealing the birds from pet stores, collectors and owners for various motivations. You have a parrot crime of passion, to be sure, but many of them are targeted for their value, as depending on the bird they could go for thousands of dollars, and prices have been rising due to a surge in interest in pets in general. Baby African greys sold for $1,000 to $1,500 on online marketplaces like BirdBreeders.com and Birds Now in 2015, but the prices today for those same chicks are $6,000. Would-be bird buyers are urged to get their birds from above-board animal dealers, as the more fly-by-night operations may be trading in pilfered parrots.
The San Diego Zoo has hatched 41 Indian narrow-headed softshell turtles, a first for a North American zoo. The zoo has been in possession of three of the full-grown turtles for over 20 years, and have spent those 20 years hoping that the turtles would go from “roommates” to “roommates with an extremely complicated amount of subtext and a third wheel that is trying to navigate the situation,” classic stuff for being in your 20s. The eggs were found in two nests — drama alert — and many were transferred to an incubator once the discovery of several hatchlings revealed the nests’ existence. The species is endangered and it’s unknown how many survive in the wild.
Since 1967, Disney has controlled a self-governing area of Florida called the Reedy Creek Improvement District that was the site of the company’s parks and resorts at Walt Disney World. After a political dispute with the governor regarding an anti-LGBTQ policy in the state, the government of Florida abolished the district. This became complicated very quickly, as it now means that Florida is responsible for maintaining a 54-megawatt powerplant, 65 miles of canals, a fire department, roads and more, and state officials have bristled at how to actually do that. After months of dealing with the situation, it appears the most likely scenario is that the state will remake the Reedy Creek Improvement District, tweak the structure, add a few state appointees to the governing board and call it a day. Working in the company’s favor are the 38 lobbyists it’s got in Tallahassee. If the plan falls through, it’ll be a First Amendment lawsuit.
Right now commercially available white paint reflects 80 to 90 percent of the sunlight that hits it. For something like an aircraft, this means that sitting on a tarmac can get pretty hot. Last year, a team of researchers out of Purdue University developed a type of paint that can reflect 98.1 percent of sunlight, which is remarkably good, but the issue is that the paint needs to be about 400 microns thick which really only works for stationary things like ceilings. A new version of the paint reflects 97.9 percent of light, but only needs to be applied to 150 microns, and also is about 80 percent lighter, meaning that it’s well-suited for all sorts of applications on stuff that moves around.
Sales of energy drinks are up 17 percent in August compared to a year ago, and up 56 percent since the summer of 2019. The category is particularly hot right now, in no small part because coffee has gotten more expensive while the canned energy drink business has kept prices relatively flat. New options on the market like Celsius are also snagging marketshare from established players like Monster and Red Bull.
Thai shrimp production is a massive industry in the country, serving as both a central element of the cuisine as well as a major export and economic driver. That said, the industry has been rocked by illnesses in the livestock, including early mortality syndrome, and Thai shrimp is going to fall from 600,000 metric tons, its peak in 2011, to just 270,000 metric tons this year. It’s a setback for what was as recently as 2012 the top exporter of shrimp in the world, but today lags both India and Ecuador. The industry is banking on a rebound, and is aiming to produce 400,000 metric tons a year by 2023.
Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hit his 62nd home run of the season, a new high-water mark for the clean homer record. The ball was caught by a fan, which illustrates a fascinating tax question that is as yet unresolved: What happens when you take possession of a baseball that is worth $1 million to $2 million? The IRS has not come down on the question, besides a memo sent in the late 1990s. If it’s to be handled under the “treasure trove regulation,” which is the tax situation when you find a buried treasure, a million-dollar baseball would technically lead to a $332,955 tax bill, and if they gave the ball back to the player, it could technically trigger a gift tax. Alternatively, the IRS would not actually want to collect any tax on the ball until it’s sold, when it’d be taxed as a capital gain, or as a collectible, which has a 28 percent long-term rate. Alternatively still, some suggest the IRS should tax the fan on the $25 retail price of the baseball, and then treat the million-dollar price as an unrealized gain not to be taxed until it’s sold. The most efficient solution, though, is the one I chose, which is to be so terrible at catching baseballs that this would never present this problem.
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