Numlock News: December 21, 2020 • Wonder Woman, Alpine Skiing, Nutrition

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman 1984 made $38.5 million across its opening in 32 territories, about $5 million of which came from Imax cinemas and $18.8 million from China. That last number is going to be a problem, as analysts expected the film to make $40 million or more in its opening weekend in China, and that figure is significantly off the $38 million that the initial Wonder Woman film made in its 2017 debut. Still, this is hardly the year to aim to set any box office records, and the movie will be released domestically simultaneously with a release on HBO Max next week. Right now, less than 37 percent of theaters in the United States are open.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Property Damage

A judge in Michigan has given the go-ahead to a 42-year-old man suing his parents for the destruction of his collection of pornography, a hoard of smut described by the plaintiff as “irreplaceable” and worth over $25,000. The suit alleges that the items — which included 12 full boxes of pornography, including 1,600 DVDs and tapes — were destroyed in April 2019, as the parents were unwilling to assist in moving the trove across state lines and no longer desired to keep the items in their home. Listen, I know the coming holidays are going to be a weird one for many families, but I need you to know that there is at least one family having a vastly weirder holiday than you right now.

BBC News

Lithium

According to a new industry survey from BloombergNEF, the price of a lithium-ion battery pack fell to $137 per kilowatt-hour in 2020, an inflation-adjusted decline of 13 percent since 2019. The past decade has seen a collapse in the price of lithium-ion batteries, a tremendous and under-heralded achievement in addressing renewable energy goals. As recently as 2010, inflation-adjusted an equivalent battery pack costed $1,191. The current projection is that the price will dip below $100 per kWh by 2024, a threshold at which battery electric vehicles will be competitive with typical combustion-powered cars on price. They further project prices will hit $58 per kWh in 2030 and $44 per kWh by 2035.

Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica

Warehouses

As Amazon expands its footprint across the logistics industry, a troubling pattern is emerging as once reliable, well-paying often union jobs in warehouses are replaced by considerably fewer protections and worse pay. According to an analysis of labor statistics, across 68 counties where Amazon opened a facility, the average compensation decreased by 6 percent within two years. For instance, when Amazon opened a warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey, average warehouse worker pay fell from $24 per hour six years ago to $17.50 last year.

Matt Day and Spencer Soper, Bloomberg

Renewables

Last year, Scotland generated 30.5 terawatt-hours of electricity from renewable sources, an increase of 13.4 percent over the previous year, and enough to meet the equivalent of 90.1 percent of the total electricity consumption of the country. As recently as 2009, that figure stood at 27.2 percent. The advances in electricity are a substantial gain, but the target of the Scottish government — 50 percent of energy demand by 2030, including not just electricity but also heating and transportation — is ambitious. Onshore wind is responsible for 70 percent of capacity, while the largest individual source is the Beatrice offshore wind farm, which can generate enough power for 450,000 homes. A forthcoming offshore farm — Seagreen — will do three times that.

Claire Diamond, BBC

Skiing

The European Alps are home to a third of the world’s 2,084 ski resorts, and typically generate €28 billion in revenues. That is roughly 7 percent of the overall European Union tourism market. Though geographically compact, the Alps are the global seat of skiing, and in a typical year are host to about 43 percent of worldwide skier visits, considerably higher than North America (21 percent), the Asia Pacific region (16 percent), and other parts of Western Europe (10 percent). Naturally, this season will not be generating 28 billion euros. France has shut down all ski lifts through January 7, resorts in Italy and Austria are closed, and pretty much true to form, the Swiss are going to do their own thing but will cut ties with neighbors for the duration of the crisis.

Alice Hancock, Financial Times

Nutrition

A new study published in the journal Plos One reported that in 2018, 13 percent of research articles published in the 10-most-cited nutrition academic journals were funded at least in part by the food industry. Of those funded by the industry, 56 percent reported favorable findings for the industry backing them financially, vastly higher than the 10 percent of articles that were not paid for by the food industry that reported industry favorable outcomes. Not all journals were equally host to industry-funded science: Pediatric Obesity had the lowest percentage of papers funded with food business money with 3.8 percent, while the Journal of Nutrition had the highest at 28 percent.

Jessi Devenyns, Food Dive

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