Numlock News: August 5, 2021 • Whiskey, Tracks, Phalangium

By Walt Hickey

PS5

Sony, the manufacturer of the console sensation of the past year, the Playstation 5, reported that they are no longer selling the $499 console at a loss. The flagship console had, prior to this quarter, lost the company money every time they sold it, owing to the high cost of materials in the machine. The $399 PS5 Digital Edition is still losing money on every sale, and is on track to have that loss offset by peripherals and the PS4. Even so, the operating profit for the quarter ending in June was up to 280 billion yen, north of the 226.1 billion yen anticipated by analysts.

Takashi Mochizuki, Bloomberg

Whiskey

The U.S. State Department is doing what I have done literally dozens of times, which is spending a solid chunk of time trying to find a bottle of whiskey somewhere in D.C. after hours. Their situation is somwhat specific: in 2019, the Japanese government gave a bottle of whiskey worth $5,800 to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At the time, Pompeo was in Saudi Arabia, so it's actually unclear if he ever received the gift. The whereabouts of the bottle are not currently known, and given that the maximum value of gifts an American government official can receive without buying them is $390, the feds want to find the location of that booze. Pompeo says he has no idea where it is, or even was.

Michael S. Schmidt, The New York Times

Horses

Today there are 86,000 free-roaming horses in the public lands of the American West, living off 28 million acres in 10 states. Another 55,000 have been taken off the land and now live in U.S. Government quarters. Since wild horses lack a natural predator, their numbers grow 15 to 20 percent annually, and The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with keeping the horses roaming government land in check. So far, in the first half of 2021 they have removed 4,391 horses. By the end of the year, they want to bring that up to 11,600. While poet laureate Mick Jagger argued that wild horses couldn't take him away, he's clearly never met the Bureau of Land Management.

Natasha Daly, National Geographic

Daddy Long Legs

A new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B found the two genes that make a Phalangium opilio a “Daddy Long Legs”, not a Daddy Short Legs. There are an estimated 10,000 species of the creature, also known as skull spiders, and researchers have discerned the precise genetic location of the thing that makes the not-precisely-a-spider's legs so very cool.

Bob Yirka , Phys.org

Green Cards

The U.S. government is at risk of wasting about 100,000 green cards, as backlog from the pandemic approaches disaster levels for the 1.2 million immigrants who have waited years for a chance to get permanent residency in the United States. Back in October 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had a surplus of 120,000 green cards. The average green-card application takes 10.5 months to complete, 2 months higher from last year.

Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal

Poll

A new poll of moviegoers found that the overall comfort level around seeing a film in the closed rooms that are theaters fell from 81 percent to 72 percent over the course of three weeks. This change shows up even more among parents of children, whose comfort levels fell from 75 percent to 59 percent. Maybe that’s one reason why the fun, family film Clifford the Big Red Dog vacated its September 13 release date.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Tracks

Multiple new world records have been set at the Olympic Games, and the racing track itself may have something to do with it. Even with Nike’s ultra-light shoes being a huge technological advance, the 14mm track at Olympic Stadium, with added rubber granules and a hexagonal lower level for air, is believed to be more responsible. With these added details, Tokyo’s track surface gives a 1 percent to 2 percent advantage to athletes, one of the most favorable tracks in Olympic history.

BBC News

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Correction: An earlier version of this post confused Mick Jagger and John Bon Jovi, the extent to which we regret the error cannot be properly stated.


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