Numlock News: September 29, 2022 • Rihanna, Archaeopteryx, River Flows
By Walt Hickey
The average Major League Soccer team in the United States is worth $582 million, which is up 5.8 percent year over year. The total market value of the 28 franchises in the league is $16.3 billion, and this year they’ll make a projected $1.6 billion in revenue, well above the recent low of $468 million of 2020. A bunch of that money is in Los Angeles — the L.A. Galaxy is worth $865 million and LAFC is worth $900 million — with other big metros including Atlanta ($855 million for the United) and Seattle ($725 million for the Sounders). One issue for the league is that lots of big cities like New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Boston aren’t really pulling their weight, and are all among the 12 least valuable teams in a world where those major metros can anchor lots of very popular teams.
The average base salary for a WNBA player in the U.S. is $130,000, with the league maximum coming in at around $228,000, a significant pay cut compared to their counterparts in the NBA. That amount of money drives half the league’s 144 players overseas to play for other leagues, an incentive that has recently caused huge issues exemplified by the Brittney Griner case in Russia. One issue is China, which once paid mid- to top-tier players $50,000 to $200,000 a month to ball in China for four months, closed its doors by banning American players from the league for the past three years. Their closure to U.S. players led to the market bottoming out, with Turkey now becoming the top destination for WNBA players. Still, with China gone, players are seeing their salaries overseas decrease 30 percent to 40 percent.
Rihanna will helm this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, a testament to her enormous popularity even six years since the release of Anti, her most recent album. In 2022, Rihanna is still 34th on the Luminate most-streamed artist list, with 1.67 billion streams year to date. She’s been in the top 50 for the past six years since hitting second place in 2016. Her hits log millions of streams a week — last week “Love the Way You Lie” had 2.96 million streams, “Umbrella” and “Stay” each had 2.6 million and “Needed Me” had 2.5 million. To be clear, Anti has never really left the Billboard 200 list: It’s been there for 332 of the past 344 weeks.
A new report from BirdLife International found 49 percent of bird species are declining and that at least 187 species have gone extinct since 1500, mostly birds who lived on islands. The previous edition of the report, released in 2018, found 40 percent of bird species were in decline. That said, the conversion of grassland and forests into farmland is putting pressure on 73 percent of bird species. It’s a worldwide issue: Since 1970, 29 percent of birds in North America have been destroyed and 19 percent of the bird population of Europe. Only 6 percent of bird species are increasing worldwide.
The River Goes Where The Water Flows
River deltas are important geological features, but many are in more peril than previously realized and are degrading faster than previously believed. A new study challenged a previous assumption in many sediment studies, that the sediment will be evenly spread across a delta, where in reality it’s only being dumped where the river flows. The new modeling reveals many deltas are in danger: The Mississippi needs to deliver three times the previous estimate of sediment to maintain the current area of dry land, and the Danube will need 10 times the current supply of sediment to shore up.
Birds first emerged 165 million to 150 million years ago alongside their dinosaur cousins, with one group of avians called the enantiornithines evolving about 130 million years ago. Those birds also died out 66 million years ago thanks to whatever killed off the dinosaurs, but are bit of a missing link between the birds of today and Archaeopteryx. A 3D scan of an 80 million-year-old bird skull found evidence of advanced brain structures, specifically a flexed brain with a downward-pointing brainstem like those of modern hawks rather than the perpendicular brainstem of Archaeopteryx, which is evidence for a more voluminous mind than its dinosaur cousins.
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