Numlock News: September 13, 2019 • Day-Glo, Movie Runtimes, Skeletons
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! This weekend’s Sunday edition will be with my friend Christopher Ingraham, a Washington Post writer who’s just written a great new book called If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now about the time he insulted a Minnesota county so badly he decided to move there. Should be a fun one.
An analysis of 68.7 million campaign finance records has found a distressing spike in the number of Political Action Committees with deceptive names that make them sound like charities that help sick children, first responders or youth. The difference? There’s a cap on how much money charities can pay themselves and their administrators, but the PACs direct an unseemly amount of money to vendors and telemarketers to make more money. There are 61 such PACs today, which through telemarketing or other systems raised $349.3 million since 2001, but rather than donate it they turned around and spent $344.3 million of that on fundraising like telemarketing or direct mail.
In 2009, the top 10 movies of the summer had an average run time of 116 minutes, a figure that swelled this past summer to 125 minutes. Part of that is filmmakers trying to give audiences what they want as they fork over more for movies, but it’s also partly studios attempting to placate filmmakers rather than lock the doors of the editing bay until they emerge sweaty, broken, and with a picture less than two hours in length. Movies with longer runtimes — based on the simple math of hours in a day and screens in a cinema — get fewer screenings, and once a movie is more than 140 minutes it likely costs a film one showtime per screen per day. This may be why Martin Scorsese went to Netflix for his forthcoming three and a half hour film The Irishman.
In the 1950s and 1960s, some modern artists were drawn to Day-Glo paints, which are fluorescent in daylight thanks to photo-physics that create incredibly vibrant colors. Used widely throughout the Second World War, the pigments are up to four times brighter than traditional pigments, but there’s a cost: the initial paints, developed in the 1930s, fade quickly, and look terrible when they fade, and as a result iconic paintings that used such pigments like Frank Stella’s Bampur, James Rosenquist’s F-111 and Andy Warhol’s Flowers will disappear if the original shades cannot be replicated. This presents a ticking time bomb for art restoration pros, who are teaming up with advanced lab technology to try to save the works.
This past spring saw major flooding across 11 states affecting 14 million people, with 49 United States Geological Survey gauges measuring more water this year than at any time in the past 20 years. This is having a pronounced effect even months later, with ripples for farmers and the economies of the regions, but all that agricultural runoff and chemical fertilizers are causing a dead zone — one with too little oxygen to support fish and marine life — the size of New Hampshire, 8,717 square miles.
Feel It In My Bones
The science is in, people, and skeletons literally make you scared. They are biologically spook-inducing. A new study finds that bones play a role in reacting to stressors, with the skeleton releasing osteocalcin in reaction to a danger, which in turn shuts down the rest-and-digest nervous system functions and allows the rest of the body to get on with the whole fight or flight jam. They determined this by scaring the hell out of rats and finding that osteocalcin levels spiked right after something freaked them out, rising 50 percent after they were restrained, 150 percent after getting shocked on their feet, and in humans after they had to do a speech in public or get stressfully cross-examined. When they were exposed to the smell of fox urine, the mice’s bones reacted instantly with osteocalcin, and the humans presumably said, “gross, dude, what?”
The global market for hearing aids is expected to hit $12 billion annually over the next six years, in part thanks to aging Boomers fueling a rise in usage, but also because the hearing aid industry is functionally an oligopoly. There are only six companies that actually manufacture hearing aids, and their pricing (high) and imitation of one another (also high) meant that as a group in the 2000s all of them phased out analog hearing aids and pushed digital hearing aids. A quarter of hearing aid users are not satisfied with the sound produced by their devices, and given that they cost $2,500 for a single device (and most users need two) that’s a high level of product dissatisfaction for such a pricey product. Despite being preferred, none of the six companies that control the business are breaking ranks to introduce the older analogs.
Despite efficiency gains, the global shipping fleet is seeing carbon emissions rise from 770 million tons in 2013 to 870 million tons in 2018. Today, just 0.3 percent of the operational global fleet uses alternative fuels: 0.15 percent run on battery power, 0.14 percent run on liquid natural gas and 0.01 percent on methanol. The other 99.7 percent are on carbon fuels like oil or coal. Among ships on order, it’s still all about carbon products — 93.95 percent — and just 3.07 percent used battery, 2.73 percent liquid natural gas, and 0.25 LPG, methanol and hydrogen. Lots see a future in ammonia, with development over the next several years seeking to parlay that carbon-neutral chemical into a viable engine fuel, though at this time no current marine engine is able to burn it.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at email@example.com. Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The very best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.
Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: 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 ·