Numlock News: September 30, 2019 • Honeycrisp, Spider-Man, Overwatch
By Walt Hickey
The Honeycrisp variety of apple is legendary for being really sweet, really juicy, and just all around a top-tier fruit but with a stubborn, steep price premium over other apples. Developed by the University of Minnesota and released to growers in 1991, the fruit is the university’s third-most profitable invention, after a vaccine that protects against PRRS in pigs and Ziagen, an HIV drug. Still, those patent royalties —$1.25 per tree, which accumulated to a grand total of $16.5 million — expired in the U.S. in 2008 and just last month in Canada, and thus are not the reason the Honeycrisps are still pricey. The main reason is that Honeycrisps have a thin skin, meaning that it’s easier to bruise and thus more apples are doomed to juice. Only about 60 to 65 percent make it to the market, with the rest going to juice, when apples generally have that rate at 80 to 90 percent.
DreamWorks Animation’s Abominable made $20.9 million this past weekend at the box office, making auteur Jill Culton now the highest-grossing female lead director/writer of an animated studio film. She is also technically the lowest-grossing because she is incidentally the first woman in history to be credited as lead director and writer of an animated film, which is one of those “firsts” you probably assumed happened in like the eighties but nope, it’s that bad in the industry. The film is one of only three — after Us and Good Boys — to be an original film that opened at No. 1 in 2019.
Pennsylvania has turned into Klendathu, with desperate residents fighting invasive lanternflies tooth and nail and proboscis. The colorful bug, native to southeast Asia, has been a major pest since arriving in the state five years ago. The Starship Troopers war reenactment is replete with propaganda posters, environmental destruction and researchers devoted to studying the bugs in an attempt to probe their weaknesses. At stake is $18 billion worth of agriculture in the state, as well as its $4.8 billion wine industry. The bugs suck the sap from trees and vines and then poop it out everywhere. Would you like to know more?
The San Francisco Shock defeated the Vancouver Titans 4-0 in the championship game of the Overwatch League, a professional esports league that just capped off its second season of operation. The Shock will take home a $1.1 million first prize while Vancouver will have to make due with $600,000 bonus for their troubles. The victory caps off a stellar season for the Shock. The team won 70 percent of their matches in a shutout with opponents failing to take a single map. The Titans entered the finals as the top seed.
Millennials are held accountable for our many crimes constantly, and a new analysis that scoured articles from June 15, 2015 to June 15, 2019 found exactly whose blood the generation has on their hands. The search tracked down 38,000 articles detailing the needs, beliefs, desires and bloodlust of those aged 24 to 37, which after excising duplicates grabbed 26,565 articles with 12,500 sentences where Millennials verbed something — “want”, “say,” “need,” and of particular interest, “kill.” Millennials have been reported as having “killed” 85 things, including marriage, ironing, napkins, Christmas cards and Applebee’s. Millennials hate “beer,” “online job applications,” and “their jobs.” Once the generation takes full control over the media, I look forward to the articles describing how Millennials “took vengeance on those who sought to smear them for the crime of youth.”
Despite a brief scare when the parties left the bargaining table to fight it out in the press, under the terms of a new deal the character Spider-Man will remain in Marvel’s cinematic universe, and Marvel Studios will produce the next Spider-Man film. Naturally, it was mainly about money. Under the previous arrangement, Disney’s Marvel got 5 percent of first-dollar grosses for two Spider-Man films and got to incorporate the character in three of their films. Sony proposed continuing that arrangement, Disney wanted to crank that 5 percent up to 50 percent, and Sony naturally balked. For the new deal, Disney will get 25 percent of the profits for a Sony Spider-Man movie to be released in July 2021 and get to use the character in a future MCU film. The seriously good rights, the merch ones, have belonged to the Mouse since it bought Marvel.
A new investigation traced the entire production process of THC vapes to track down where in the supply chain dangerous additives wormed their way in. Attempting to identify one phase of the production process as sketchy is difficult, because all of them are really sketchy. Legal cannabis accounts for only about 22 percent of the $52 billion annually spent on marijuana, and street-purchased THC vape cartridges have recently seen a new additive — tocopheryl-acetate, or vitamin E oil used as a cutting agent — that may be making people very sick. As many as 50 million tainted cartridges may be in circulation in the U.S. and, to understand why, Leafly traced the origins of the parts. Empty cartridges (59 cents each) are bought from manufacturers in the Bao’An district of Shenzhen. They go to L.A.’s Toy District, where the chemicals that make up the juice can be bought: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and polyethylene glycol, as well as flavorings and hazardous thickeners, also mainly sourced from China. The problem comes when the pot oil gets involved. A liter of bulk THC oil goes for $6,000 wholesale and can fetch $16,000 at retail prices, but when cut by 30 percent with $50 worth of vitamin E oil, the retail sale could then hit $20,800. The use of Vitamin E oil peaked this past summer and could be in 60 to 70 percent of street-sold cartridges, according to the investigation.
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