Numlock News: September 14, 2023 • Kākāpō, FaZed, Turf
By Walt Hickey
FaZe Clan is a management group for gaming-related influencers, counting 127 internet personalities and 54 esports players across 14 different teams on their client list. Some of these personalities have been signed to massive contracts, and amid corporate confusion over how the hell to reach a new digital-first generation and the enormous amount of watch time handed over to streaming games, FaZe attempted to position itself as the future of talent, getting sky-high valuations upon entry into public markets. Anyway, that all came crashing down. Their stock, once trading at $20 per share, is now worth 18 cents, and documents revealed over the course of going public showed troubling evidence that one single creator was responsible for 22 percent of revenue in 2021. It became hard to bag sponsors after a crypto-related incident soured fans on some of their roster, and they reported a $48.7 million loss from operations last year.
Bring Back The Good Stuff
The FDA’s group of outside advisors has unanimously voted that phenylephrine, which is marketed as a nasal decongestant, doesn’t actually work well enough. In 2006, a law was passed that pushed the manufacturers of nasal decongestants away from pseudoephedrine, which is an outstanding nasal decongestant, simply because it can be abused as a precursor to manufacturing crystal meth. Since then, manufacturers have swapped out the good chemical with this other clown, and pseudoephedrine is only a fifth of the market for oral decongestants, while phenylephrine makes up the remaining balance. This recommendation, if followed, means that drugmakers might be required to pull their phenylephrine from shelves.
The kākāpō is an endangered large flightless parrot, which you might best know from that iconic viral video where one enthusiastically mates with the back of a photographer’s head. Endemic to New Zealand, the arrival of predators nearly drove the species to extinction, with just 51 kākāpōs existing in 1995. A program to make five islands free of predators and encourage breeding has been somewhat successful, bringing us to 252 kākāpō as of 2022. However, the remaining kākāpō are substantially inbred, so researchers from the University of Otago have sequenced the genome of every existing kākāpō in order to find the birds that are sufficiently genetically variable to try to make this a sustainable population of birds.
Apollo astronauts placed seismometers on the surface of the moon, and that equipment went on to measure moonquakes from 1976 to 1977. They’ve been able to identify four kinds — deep, shallow, thermal and meteorite-related — but a new analysis of the data from the Apollo 17 mission has found an unexpected fifth variety of moonquake: the Apollo-related moonquake. Every night, the temperatures went as low as -133 degrees Celsius, and every day, they might hit 121 degrees Celsius. That thermal transition makes the Apollo 17 lunar lander base expand and vibrate every morning as it’s heated by the sun.
Over the course of its scientific duties, the James Webb Space Telescope has accidentally discovered 21 brown dwarf stars by sheer random happenstance. Larger than gas giants but smaller than actual stars, brown dwarfs never hit the sweet spot necessary to trigger hydrogen fusion. They were found during two other surveys focused on distant and ancient galaxies, and what’s cool is that most of the known brown dwarfs are very near to Earth cosmically speaking, because they’re pretty hard to spot. Since these brown dwarfs photobombed the JWST, they’re potentially great candidates for study of a larger sample of the bodies.
Money Can’t Buy You Glove
In professional baseball, one particularly reliable way to get a pretty good team is to spend ungodly amounts of money, outspending smaller and more frugal teams for top talent, cost be damned. It’s not a perfect way — you can overspend on busts, certainly — but it’s one of the more direct ways. That is, until this year; the correlation between a team’s payroll percentile and the team’s win percentage is at an all-time low among seasons since the 1994 strike, with the correlation down to 0.197 in 2023. For perspective, as recently as 2016 that correlation was massive, at 0.797. Big spenders like the Cardinals, Mets, Angels, Padres and Yankees have been unable to translate that into a winning record.
California’s legislature has passed a bill that would push businesses to stop irrigating decorative grass with drinkable water at businesses, industrial sites, institutions and several kinds of developments. They’d still be able to use recycled water, but the goal is to push business to simply rip out lawns and replace them with landscapes actually native to California. Residential yards, cemeteries, parks and sports fields (including golf) are exempt, and the enforcement would begin in 2027 with government properties. Many businesses have already moved in that direction, but there are real gains to be made: Tearing out turf across California could cut water use by 1 million to 1.5 million acre-feet per year, and about 400,000 acre-feet of water conservation per year can be gained through businesses, institutions and industrial facilities ripping out decorative grass.
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