Numlock News: September 28, 2021 • Squid, Sumo Wrestling, Bees
By Walt Hickey
Last week Netflix spent £500 million to acquire the rights to Roald Dahl’s work, which includes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, several incredibly regrettable opinions revealed later in life, and The BFG. It’s an eye-popping sum for a trove of intellectual property that isn’t exactly a gusher right now: based on the latest accounts from December 2020, the Roald Dahl Story Company brought in £20.7 million ($28.3 million) globally and £4.9 million ($6.7 million) from the U.K. in all of 2020.
The Elephants and the Bees
Farmers in Kenya have been able to roll out an incredibly successful program to keep elephants, which continue to struggle, from eating crops, which the farmers need to survive. To thread this ecological needle, a program is capitalizing on the long-believed but recently scientifically described aversion that elephants have to bees. They can’t stand ‘em, they’ll avoid them, and they will not go to places they know bees to exist in. Today, some 10,000 beehive fences — that is, a fence composed of several beehives on the perimeter of a property to scare off pachyderms — are installed in sites in 20 African and Asian countries. Each kit contains 12 beehives and 12 dummy beehives — it works! — and the cost is about $1,200 per acre of crops, with each kit lasting an estimated 10 years. It’s a way to both keep elephants and agriculture in balance, and 61 percent of farmers reported the beehives are more effective than other fences, with a 2017 field study at 10 farms finding they deterred elephants 80 percent of the time.
Hakuho, the greatest-of-all-recorded-time of sumo wrestling, is retiring. Since reaching the title of yokozuna — the highest rank in sumo — Hakuho has won at least one of the top six tournaments every year since 2007, having now won a record 45 grand sumo tournament titles. In July, he won the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament with a perfect 15-0 record, and has won or finished second in 49 of 52 tournaments. Hakuho, who is originally from Mongolia, became a Japanese citizen in 2019 and is thus eligible to run his own stable should he so choose, but the current plan is to remain at his current stable and become an instructor.
Cropland values hit a new high this year at $4,420 per acre, and with prices for agricultural products up and American farmers feeling a bit more flush as a result, many are buying up new equipment. The USDA is projecting net farm income will hit $113 billion in 2021, up 20 percent and the highest since 2013, even though federal payments to farmers will drop 39 percent this year. Retail sales volume for new high-horsepower tractors is up 27 percent year-over-year in the first eight months. John Deere, the manufacturer of lots of those, saw its profits from large farm equipment up 50 percent in the most recent quarter.
Germany’s election has given power to be a kingmaker to some unexpected parties that skew younger. The center-left Social Democrats and the incumbent center-right Christian Democrats got 25.7 percent and 24.1 percent of the vote, respectively. The other half of the vote went to the progressive environmentalist Greens, the libertarian FDP, the far-right AfD, and others. Interestingly, the FDP (11.5 percent) and the Greens (14.8 percent) are taking the lead here, and are planning to meet with one another to jointly decide which of the two parties they’d consider partnering with jointly.
A hamster named Mr. Goxx’s wheel is connected to a computer that spins through different cryptocurrencies, a computer which then buys and sells crypto investments under the thoughtful, adorable Mr. Goxx. The project started in mid-June with €326, and 95 orders later Mr. Goxx’s “fund” was down 7.3 percent. However, he’s been on a tear lately, with the overall performance of a hamster selecting cryptocoins to invest in up 19.41 percent as of the end of September, beating returns of major stock markets.
The United States imported $314 million worth of squid in 2019, and China was responsible for about half of it. The origin of that squid is of significant concern, as Chinese trawlers blasting light into the water off the coast of South America have been a rising problem for the countries who are attempting to protect their territorial waters. The number of Chinese-flagged vessels in the south Pacific rose from 54 in 2009 to 557 in 2020, and the catch of squid increased from 70,000 tons to 358,000 tons over the same period. From November 2020 to May 2021, 523 mostly Chinese fishing vessels were detected just beyond the boundary of Argentina’s exclusive economic zone, but what’s really worrying is 42 percent had turned off their location-sharing transponders at least once, which is hypothetically speaking something one would do if one were about to fish illegally in another country’s waters.
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