Numlock News: April 20, 2021 • Mars, McNuggets, Injuries

By Walt Hickey


Twelve European soccer clubs announced a plan on Sunday to form a Super League, an enormously controversial proposal that will see a huge amount of money sloshing around in aggregate at the very tip of the sport. Currently, there are 246 major clubs that participate in the European Club Association, and these teams say they intend to split from the current Champions League and forge their own enormously lucrative path. The plan is being underwritten by JP Morgan to the tune of $6 billion in loans. The agreement has the founding clubs receiving €3.5 billion ($4.19 billion) in aggregate grants up front. So far, it’s just Spanish, Italian and English teams; no German or French clubs have been associated with the breakaway group.


The Next One

From 2010 to 2019, spending on state public health departments fell 16 percent and funding for local health departments fell 18 percent. That, uh, was not particularly rad timing in retrospect and all things considered. About 38,000 public health jobs were lost between 2008 and 2019, so, yeah, actually a bunch of stuff is starting to make a lot of sense. Since the pandemic began, public health officials have been under significant amounts of pressure, enduring harassment and burning out. At least 248 leaders of state and local health departments resigned, retired or were fired from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Looking forward, congress will have an opportunity to reconsider cut funding for public health and under-investment in disease control functions of government.

Michelle R. Smith, Lauren Weber and Hanna Recht, The Associated Press and Kaiser Health News

Space Helicopter

NASA successfully flew a helicopter on Mars, with the Ingenuity robotic rotorcraft successfully conducting a 40-second flight on the surface of Mars. The $85 million 1.8 kilogram aircraft rose 3 meters in the air for the better part of a minute, turned 90 degrees, and then safely landed. Four future flights of up to 90 seconds each are scheduled for the coming weeks, with the plan to rise 5 meters above the Martian surface and travel 300 meters from the takeoff point, no small feat in an atmosphere 1 percent as dense as Earth’s. Anyway, this is pretty much a guarantee that Fast and Furious 10 will involve a helicopter race on Mars, so best prepare yourself for that certainty.

Alexandra Witze, Nature


The scars of 2020 are in some cases quite literal: A study published in Injury Epidemiology found that 26 percent of about 2,000 respondents surveyed between March and June 2020 reported a household injury, up from a 2017 version of the same survey where 14 percent reported one in the preceding three months. New hobbies, home improvement projects, at-home exercise routines, all the random things people did to divert their attention in the inaugural months of the pandemic in some cases came back to bite them. I, for one, learned a valuable lesson about the melting point of solder vs. the melting point of thumbs over the summer that I would not care to repeat.

Sumathi Reddy, The Wall Street Journal

That’s Just Like Your Opinion, Man

The Desert Sun, a local newspaper serving Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, launched a fascinating project on their opinion page in June 2019 by dropping national politics from the opinion section and asking readers to contribute opinions about local issues. A new study comparing that paper to a similar paper, the Ventura County Star, which did not drop national politics, found reverberations across the community. While dropping national politics didn’t stop polarization in the community, it did slow it. Further, in the month before the experiment less than a half of the op-eds and letters to the editor were about California issues, but in July that rose to 95 percent. Readers also really enjoyed it: online readership of op-eds doubled that July.

Stephanie Castellano, American Press Institute and Joshua P. Darr, Matthew P. Hitt, and Johanna L. Dunaway, Cambridge University Press


A new report from the Government Accountability Office found that the Interior Department isn’t adequately monitoring the 8,600 miles of active oil and gas pipelines on the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, they’re just relying on surface observations and pressure sensors rather than the undersea inspections that could identify slow discharges that otherwise would go unnoticed. Over on the Pacific side of things, monthly subsea inspections are the name of the game over seismic concerns, although granted they’re only dealing with 200 miles of active pipe. Still, GAO further found that 97 percent of the decommissioned pipelines taken out of active use in the Gulf — about 18,000 miles worth of pipe — were allowed to be cleaned, but remained in place, rather than raising them to the surface, which would eliminate risks to the environment and commercial fishing trawling posed by retired pipes. From 2015 to 2019, 89 trawlers reported damage after snagging on oil and gas equipment.

Ted Mann, The Wall Street Journal


McDonald’s will roll out a BTS special order, following the successful offering promoted by Travis Scott in 2020. The gist is a fast food place will sell an artist’s preferred order as a package for a limited time, so like Travis Scott had a Quarter Pounder deal, J Balvin had a Big Mac deal, and Numlock had the incredibly unsuccessful “a quesarito, cheesy gordita crunch, Diet Coke — yeah, Pepsi is fine I guess — and beefy five layer burrito off the value menu” Taco Bell promotion. BTS’s song Dynamite was viewed over a billion times on YouTube in merely eight months, so there’s likely some interest. The BTS order — which will appear across 50 markets worldwide — is pretty simple: it’s a 10-piece McNuggets with two new dipping sauces (sweet chili and cajun) plus fries and a drink. If it’s anything like BTS, the BTS special will roll out and be a hit: you’ll personally try it, agree it’s pretty good and understand the appeal, but then a few months later your boyfriend will try it out and just completely fall for the McNuggets, gradually replacing pretty much every meal with them and re-configuring the culinary landscape of your entire apartment around the BTS McNuggets. Anyway, my point is I really need that second vaccine, people.

Jessica Wohl, Ad Age

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