Numlock News: September 26, 2022 • Volcano, Avatar, Tour Bus
By Walt Hickey
There’s a new island, it just came out, it’s pretty near and it’s near Tonga. An underwater volcano began erupting on the Home Reef seamount on September 10, and within 11 hours there was a new island, as yet unnamed. As of Saturday it’s about 8.6 acres and is 50 feet above sea level. This isn’t particularly uncommon, as the volcano also erupted in 1852, 1857, 1984 and 2006, each producing islands. The volcanic islands don’t usually last long in the geological sense, and typical cases exist on the order of years or decades at best. Anyway, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, because it’s still plenty of time for a streaming service or television network to send about 20 attractive singles to the island and film a dating show on Volcanic And Perilous Temporary Island.
Next week £11 billion ($12.4 billion) in British currency is about to lose its status as legal tender, including £6 billion worth of £50 notes and £5 billion in £20 notes. The reason is the roughly 360 million notes are paper, and the new currency is made out of a polymer that makes them more secure and durable. As it stands, the notes won’t technically be accepted by U.K. businesses but can be exchanged for new currency at the Bank of England headquarters or through the mail. The end of the £20 and £50 notes will spell the end of paper currency in the U.K.
Still Got It!
Avatar, the 13-year-old film that’s getting a long-promised sequel this December, made $30.5 million at the global box office this weekend, $10 million of which was domestic. The encore screenings add to what is again the largest-grossing film ever made after briefly being supplanted by Avengers: Endgame, bringing the cume to $2.85 billion. It was the third highest-grossing film at the domestic box office this weekend, behind Don’t Worry Darling and The Woman King.
Global Tel Link is a massive prison telecom provider, a notoriously expensive means of communication. Up until recently a prison call could cost $14 per minute, and GTL is a big player in the space, providing service to 2,300 facilities. They’re also now the subject of FCC scrutiny over a company practice where they would seize money from prepaid user accounts when they deemed them inactive, a practice that got them $121 million. They’ve since been made to pay back $67 million in refunds and credits, but for eight years the company was bringing in an average of $1 million per month from the scheme. Now, the FCC is planning a crackdown to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
There’s a shortage of tour buses, which is pushing some music acts out of the touring business. Demand has been especially high with bands returning to clubs after pandemic-era closures, but at the same time lots of the drivers with tour bus experience left the industry for trucking, where the work is more stable. Add in the standard “blah blah blah supply chain” miasma and you’re talking a real crunch here. Prices that were once $550 a day have jumped to $750 to $800 per day, a level that makes some tours not financially viable, particularly acts at the club level.
While infant formula is widely used, formula for toddlers is becoming a big business, even as experts question the necessity of formula for kids aged 1 to 3. Sales of toddler formula increased from $39 million in 2006 to $92 million in 2015, and are often sold by the same companies that sell infant formula. One study found that the companies have been pretty successful in convincing parents of their need to exist, with 60 percent of respondents inaccurately thinking that toddler formula provided nutrients that are unavailable in other food.
An estimated 80 blue, humpback and fin whales are killed by ships off the West Coast every year, and as the amount of traffic off the coast picks up and the species remain endangered people are trying to figure out ways to address the issue. One of the best ways is speed limits, but those are tough to enforce, so a number of projects like Whale Safe are working to collect and distribute real-time data on whale locations to marine operators to get them to slow down or avoid them.
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