Numlock News: September 10, 2019 • Crater, Cake, Young Sheldon
By Walt Hickey
The government of New South Wales, Australia is embarking on an ambitious if risky plan to relocate native fish from part of the nation’s most important river system before brutally high temperatures lead to a repeat of last year’s enormous die-offs. The whole ecosystem is imperiled: River red gum trees are under serious stress, and just one colony of river mussels yet survives, so the plan — funded by a $10 million (Australian) rescue plan — is to move as many fish as possible from 15 to 20 waterholes over the course of two weeks to safer, more stable areas. It’ll be just a fraction of the population — Battlestar Galactica, but for Murray cod and golden perch — and is just an immediate attempt to save a fragment of the populations rather than a dedicated attempt to pare back irrigation upstream, the realistic cause of the accelerated drought.
The Federal Communications Commission, in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of America, has proposed a $272,000 fine for CBS for the broadcast of Young Sheldon, a television show that is a prequel to The Big Bang Theory. Setting aside its many, many crimes, the FCC is mostly ticked off about an episode that aired in April 2018 when the show’s plotline entailed a tornado warning. The FCC gets super ticked off when television shows throw around mocked-up sirens and alert sounds linked to essential disaster communications — the FCC hit Jimmy Kimmel’s network ABC with a $395,000 penalty over an emergency tone in a comedy sketch recently too — and this Emergency Alert System soundalike got too close to the bona fide article for the FCC’s taste. CBS is welcome to respond before the fine, but if they expect mercy from a bunch of television nerds for Young Sheldon, they haven’t been in the comment section of The AV Club for quite some time.
A delivery driver is alleged to have stolen $89,250 worth of cakes from Lady M Confections, an upscale bakery. The confection is a $90 nine-inch Mille Crêpes cake, which is a stack of about 20 crepes. Earlier this year, the man was charged with 15 counts of petty larceny and pleaded guilty in July, but the new civil suit alleges that the driver would take cakes from company freezers and resell them to other vendors at a discount, and claims that there was a much larger cake heist happening here. With apologies to Mr. Luthor, the suit alleges that when no one was looking, a delivery driver took one thousand twenty cakes. He took 1,020 cakes. That’s as many as 102 tens. And that’s terrible.
Researchers drilling off the coast of Mexico have pulled sections of rock deposited in the immediate aftermath of the asteroid impact that is believed to have caused the extinction event at the end of the cretaceous period. The $10 million project dug into the inner rim of the crater, which was buried under 1,500 feet of limestone on the sea floor. For perspective, that 1,500 feet of limestone took over 60 million years to accumulate, and analyzing rocks as a geologic clock, the layers can be understood to have accumulated over thousands of years. Not so in the crater: they have 130 meters of rock laid down in a single day, a scale determined by minutes rather than the typical millennia. In seconds the asteroid blasted a cavity, which then later collapsed on itself, which then saw volcanic detritus settle again and even organic matter following the reflected tsunami. Bad times.
The three largest cities in the U.S. are seeing a slow exodus. New York City has an average net of 277 people leave every day, Los Angeles sees 201 people split town, and Chicago loses an average of 161 residents each day. This is the result of several factors, but it could have nationwide implications as big city-dwellers pick up shop and move to places they can actually afford to buy land, bringing their beliefs and politics with them. Fertility rates being what they are (low), these cities had long seen a net loss of domestic movers, but until recently that loss was zeroed out thanks to immigration from outside of the U.S., as from 2010 to 2018 immigration was responsible for more than 100 percent of the population growth in New York, Chicago and Philly and more than 80 percent in L.A. and Boston.
After years of testing, Nielsen will integrate out-of-home viewing into its national television ratings, a milestone moment for sports networks in particular. It’s currently estimated that sports networks get 11 percent of their total audience on average from outside the home viewers — think going to a bar to watch a college football game or seeing SportsCenter on in a barbershop — and 7 percent of news audiences come from out of home sources, like when you’re at a debate-watching party or literally any less-depressing social event, which is all of them.
Natural gas-fired power plants have come close to wiping coal off the grid by upending the historical economics of power generation, but a new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute indicates that their own economic obsolescence may not be all that far off. The researchers analyzed cost estimates for 68 gigawatts worth of gas power generation proposed across the U.S. and determined by 2035, it will be more expensive to run 90 percent of proposed natural gas power plants than it would be to build new wind and solar plants equipped with storage systems. That’s an issue, as the proposed plants are predicated on the idea that they’ll remain economically viable for the life of the generation facility, or at least until ownership pays them off. Today natural gas is responsible for 35 percent of electrical generation
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