Numlock News: August 18, 2020 • Penguins, Squids, SpongeBob SquarePants

By Walt Hickey

Nautical Nonsense Be Something They Wish

Hey, the North American box office is back! In Canada. SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run made $900,000 across 300 screens in Canada, and Russell Crowe’s road-rage thriller Unhinged made $582,000. Next week, about 50 percent of U.S. cinemas will be open in 42 states, with 75 percent opening the following weekend, but movie theaters will stay closed in New York and California as well as several other large states. Cinemas overseas are testing the waters with re-releases, with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone pulling in $13.6 million in China last weekend. The top grossing film of 2020, Bad Boys for Life, also saw a release in China, pulling in $3.2 million and bringing its total to $426.4 million, which pretty much locks it up as the top grossing film of 2020 barring a shock.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Death Valley

Sunday, a high temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit was observed in Death Valley, California, the highest temperature recorded on Earth since 1913, when 134 degrees was reported in Death Valley. Roughly 60 million people from Arizona to Canada are under a heat advisory, watch or warning. The high temperatures are happening because normally the North American Monsoon hits the southwest in August, but it hasn’t developed so the heavy rainfall hasn’t come.

Scottie Andrew, CNN


A survey of Americans found that 80 percent are very or moderately supportive of federal aid to sit-down restaurants, 65 percent would back aid to museums, and 57 percent would back aid for hotels. Other institutions don’t enjoy that same level of support, and would be more controversial to bail out. A slim majority back aid to movie theaters (51 percent moderately or very supportive) compared to 23 percent who outright oppose support for cinemas. Live theater has 47 percent backing aid to 26 percent opposed. In fact, those convenience fees have seemed to cause a loss of good will for live music concert venues, as just 35 percent back federal aid compared to 36 percent who oppose any aid for them.

Adam B. Vary, Variety


From 2000 to 2015, 730 million cubic meters of pine in British Columbia were destroyed by the mountain pine beetle, a scourge that’s just one of several plagues of beetles devouring North American wood. The beetles wiped out a decade of lumber supplies and cut production in the interior of British Columbia by 40 percent, with the province estimating 55 percent of their marketable pine trees will be dead by 2020. Neighboring Alberta managed to reduce the area affected by the mountain pine beetle by 30 percent by drastic cut and burn techniques.

Jen Skerritt, Bloomberg


Home Depot’s sales rose 6.4 percent in the quarter ending May 3, double the growth of the year before, and Lowe’s saw sales rise 11.2 percent that quarter. When Home Depot and Lowe’s release earnings this week, the findings are expected to be stellar, as the entire country seemed to kick off a home renovation in, oh, mid-June. Right now the anticipation is a 10.9 percent sales pop at Home Depot and 14.3 percent at Lowe’s, as the latter doesn’t rely on professional contractors as much.

Sarah Nassauer, The Wall Street Journal



Emperor penguins in Antarctica will form a huddle once it gets way too cold out, and following an analysis from mathematicians it’s been determined that the organizing principle of these huddles results in an optimal heat distribution between the birds. Indeed, the researchers were able to glean some unique insights into the precise nature of penguin huddles, such as forecasting that at -44.5 degrees Fahrenheit there is a 50 percent chance of a huddle forming. Moreover, that point changes based on how well-nourished the penguins are, and fluctuations in the temperature at which penguins huddle are directly linked to the average fat deposits and energy reserves of the flock.

Susan D’Agostino, Quanta Magazine


China’s fishing fleet is a great unknown, with estimates of the number of fishing boats the country fields ranging from 200,000 to 800,000. The precise figure is important because portions of that fleet travel out of China’s territorial waters, an estimated 2,600 to 17,000 vessels. Many of them are in under-policed North Korean waters, which is an issue because foreign countries are forbidden to fish in North Korean waters by the United Nations. Those distant-water ships can pull enormous hauls from the seas, and just look at squids to see why: China’s fleet produces 50 percent to 70 percent of the global supply of squid, half of which is exported around the world. Smaller boats from Senegal or Mexico might catch as much in one year as China’s larger ships bring in weekly, leading to depleting fish stocks globally as China’s distant-water fleet expands.

Ian Urbina, Yale Environment 360

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