Numlock News: February 8, 2021 • Sushi, Vanilla, Melee
By Walt Hickey
Over 100 proposed class-action lawsuits in federal courts are honing in on one of the most common and pernicious frauds perpetrated on the American public, an ongoing travesty the likes of which is rarely seen: vanilla isn’t actually vanilla. Pure vanilla extract ranged from $100 to $200 per gallon in the past year, while its most common alternative — stuff typically billed as “natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors” on ingredients labels — went for $50 per gallon, and a gallon goes further due to a higher concentration. Guess which one is used more in “vanilla” foods. Lots of foodstuffs are billed as vanilla-flavored, when in actuality they are “natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavor”-flavored, and the engines of consumer protection lawsuits have begun firing up.
Nevada is considering a new law that will allow corporations who own sufficient land and have money to invest in it to create corporate-controlled municipalities. The proposed legislation would allow companies to form separate local governments in Nevada with the same authority as counties, imposing taxes and running school districts, courts and providing government services. The option to found their very own cyberpunk dystopia will be offered to companies owning 50,000 acres of undeveloped land outside a city or town, with a plan to invest $1 billion over 10 years into whatever Blade Runner-esque hellscape they’ve got in mind.
At the end of the 2001 game Super Smash Bros. Melee, the credits sequence rolls 190 names that you can then zap before they disappear. For two decades, nobody on record had ever hit all 190 of them — the best on record was in 2007, when someone nabbed 182. Earlier this year, presumably driven mad by quarantine, someone offered a $3,000 bounty if anyone pulled it off, and within a week Martin Zarate was successful after 50 hours of attempts and practice.
For the first time ever over 9,000 people will be eligible to vote on the Oscars, with the number of total voting members now up to 9,362 compared to 8,469 last year. The reason for the jump is twofold: in addition to the 819 professionals invited to join the Academy last year, last June the board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also moved to give agents the vote. Previously, film agents were invited into the Academy only in a non-voting associate capacity; now they’re upgraded to members-at-large, with that branch growing by 166 members in part due to the shift in agent classification.
New cars have something like 100 microprocessors in them, but there’s an issue: globally, we’re all a bit short on chips right now. When computer and device sales exploded last year, it ate up a lot of the supply of available chips, and when sales of cars crashed last spring lots of manufacturers decided to pull back on their orders and have now come to regret doing that. Because of the delays in getting chips to carmakers, the automotive industry is projected to lose $64 billion worth of sales due to delayed output. The industry is consolidated in just two countries, with Taiwan and South Korea combined accounting for 83 percent of global processor chip production and 70 percent of memory chips, so a problem somewhere can lead to a problem everywhere.
Everyone is on a bit of a sushi kick right now. Restaurants are coming off an objectively terrible year, but there are a few categories expanding according to an analysis of Yelp data. The number of sushi restaurants open in the United States is up 4.8 percent since March 1, 2020, the number of Thai restaurants is up 2 percent, as is the number of burger joints. Sushi sales in supermarkets in the four weeks ending January 23, 2021 were up 23.2 percent year-over-year, outpacing overall grocery sales growth of 12.5 percent.
The Super Bowl is one of the few remaining bastions of Roman numeral usage in everyday life, a dwindling field that following the decline of the Godfather and Rocky franchises is basically down to Super Bowls, heirs, watches for rich guys, the Windsor monarchs and the skippable portions of books. However, styling the Super Bowl in its proper fashion — like yesterday’s Super Bowl LV — is in decline predominantly because of Google. As of 5 p.m. January 28, there were 855 million searches for “2021 Super Bowl,” 804 million for “Super Bowl 2021,” 240 million for “Super Bowl 55” and just 84 million for the correct “Super Bowl LV.”
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