Numlock News: August 12, 2021 • Pizza, Dolphins, The Phillie Phanatic

By Walt Hickey


The most compelling litigation in America right now is the phantastic phight over the Phillie Phanatic, the mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies. For the past two years, the team and the original design firm of the Phanatic — Harrison/Erickson — have been wrestling over the rights to the beastie. Harrison/Erickson registered the Phanatic as an “artistic sculpture” in an attempt to get the rights back to the monster, the Phillies then made an altered version to get some legal distance, and the case veered into copyright termination territory. Naturally, Hollywood has begun to perk up because, oh dang, this might affect their franchises from the eighties. In a new 91-page decision, the court ruled that Harrison/Erickson should reclaim the rights to the Phanatic, blocking the team from challenging their copyright, while also ruling that the newer, tweaked version of the Phanatic the Phillies made after the suit launched is an acceptable derivative work, meaning Philly can keep their new Phanatic. What this means for movies going forward is that it may be possible for studios to tweak an owned character in order to keep their hands on the rights they would otherwise lose.

Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter

30 Minutes or Less or It’s Free

A Cygnus cargo ship on an Antares rocket that launched out of Virginia will deliver 8,200 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station, which is home to seven astronauts from the U.S., Russia, France and Japan. In addition to a mount for new solar wings, several spiffy new instruments, and a slime mold for the French astronaut, it is also carrying a pizza, or more specifically a kit to make pizza. I would say it’s the most expensive pizza delivery fee in the history of mankind, but I don’t want to dare the delivery apps to try me.

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press


Before the pandemic, 84 percent of consumers shopped for groceries mostly in person, 7 percent shopped mostly online, and another 7 percent did each about equally. Now, the percentage who shop in person is down to 70 percent, with 16 percent now shopping mostly online, and 12 percent splitting evenly. The shift was most acutely seen among millennials of all stripes, of whom 25 percent shop for groceries mostly online, 18 percent split evenly, and just 56 percent are mostly in-store. It is still unclear what percentage of the respondents were currently awaiting a grocery delivery to the International Space Station at the time of survey.

Joanna Piacenza, Morning Consult

Used Cars

It would appear that the frenzy in the used car market has begun to cool. In July, the overall U.S. consumer price index, a gauge of inflation, was up 0.5 percent. Over the same period, the price index for used vehicles was up just 0.2 percent. Over the previous three months, that figure was north of 7.3 percent each month. Prices for used cars are still up 41.7 percent compared to July of 2020, but it appears the furor has started to subside.

Samath Subramanian, Quartz

Spirit Bears

In parts of British Columbia, anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of black bears exhibit the recessive gene that turns what’s normally black fur into white fur, and makes them what is lovingly referred to as a spirit bear. In the north and central coasts of British Columbia there are fewer than 200 of these spirit bears, but what’s interesting is that the white bears actually seem to do pretty great rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. Helping matters is that when you’re the top of the food chain it’s not like notoriety attracts predators, but even more interesting is that a new study argues the coloration of spirit bears actually makes it harder for salmon to see and avoid them compared to their dominant-gene dark-haired siblings.

Marina Wang, Hakai Magazine


In the 1970s, a researcher thought that dolphins could be used for therapeutic reasons, that people who sulfured injuries, depression, strokes, or other maladies could swim with dolphins for a positive health benefit. Now, in the 50 years since, there is no actual scientific evidence that it does anything, but it remains expensive. For around $6,000 for four or five one-hour swims people can be separated from their money with promises of porpoise healing. Naturally, now there’s dolphin therapy programs all around the world that at best offer an expensive woo-woo vacation, and at worst put both people and animals at risk for profit.

Dina Fine Maron, National Geographic


Poly Network, a blockchain site, was hacked and the thieves made out with about $600 million in one of the largest-ever cryptocurrency heists. Approximately $267 million in Ether, $252 million in Binance, and $85 million in USDC were taken. Losses due to fraud in the decentralized finance world hit $474 million in the first seven months of the year and losses from crime in crypto hit $681 million, a staggering figure that nevertheless is far from the $4.5 billion lost in 2019.

BBC News

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