Numlock News: July 29, 2021 • Fossils, Invasive Species, Manga

By Walt Hickey


France rolled out an app that grants €300 to every 18 year old in the country to be used for cultural purposes, an attempt to both juice a slammed cultural sector as well as push teens to explore their country’s vast artistic offerings. While many have certainly availed themselves of the vaunted French performance arts scene, the big winner is Japanese comic books. As of July, books are 75 percent of all purchases made through the app since it rolled out in May, and two-thirds of those book purchases are manga. Part of that may come from constrictions on other purchases: they can spend up to €100 on online media subscriptions, which are limited to French companies, and all video games purchased with the app must be from French publishers. Given that one of the most recent movies I’ve seen — M. Night Shyamalan’s Old — is based on a hella weird French comic, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to get the kids into the scene.

Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times


At the graduate level, the aggregate amount of debt pushed on to students varies significantly by race, which makes the actual financial utility of Masters degrees — long seen as a cash cow by universities — a key question. Studies show that 79 percent of Black grad students and 72 percent of Hispanic grad students take on student debt, significantly higher than the 56 percent of white grad students. Overall, the median federal graduate debt in the U.S. is $41,000, but for Black students it’s $51,250.

Anne Helen Petersen, Culture Study


Arthur, which is currently the longest-running kids animated series, will end after season 25. Although production wrapped two years ago, the final season is projected to air in winter 2022, which will be the last of four greenlit in 2018. The show is aimed at kids aged 4 to 8 and premiered in October of 1996, when incidentally I was a kid aged 4 to 8. A brief consultation of the record book indicates that the aardvark will hand over the mantle of longest-running ongoing kid’s animated show to an absorbant, yellow, porous colleague also in the animal kingdom.

Marianne Garvey, CNN


The price of seafood has surged significantly this year, up 11.09 percent compared to last year. Price rises have held steadily around the ballpark of 3 percent for the past several years, but a series of problems, both maritime and logistical, have causes issues all across the seafood shelf. To name a few: port costs are up, fishermen left the business last year amid dried-up demand from restaurants, the fishing industry skews older so has been confronting a declining workforce for years, a lack of shipping containers have driven up the price of cod, and lobster’s been short since last year.

Adam Jackson and Kate Krader, Bloomberg


In 2009, the Obama administration rolled out clean car standards that required the average fuel economy of new vehicles to increase 5 percent annually, hitting 51 miles per gallon by 2025. The Trump administration cut that back to 1.5 percent, blocked California from setting higher requirements, and put the average fuel economy on track to hit 40.5 miles per gallon by 2026. Now the Biden administration is rolling out new rules that would still be less than that attained in the Obama years: 3.7 percent annual reductions in emissions annually, but then in 2025, an increase back to the 5 percent annual level. To meet long-term climate goals, the fuel economy of new cars needs to be a 55 miles per gallon by 2026. The U.S. appears poised to completely whiff that.

Arianna Skibell, E&E News

Secret Invasion

A new study looked at the existing scientific research on the 975 species considered maritime invasive species, analyzing 2,203 different previous studies. Of those species, 55 percent have only been studied a single time, which indicates that the majority of invasive species are not particularly well-understood by science. Only 7 percent have been studied more than 10 times, which suggests that a few poster children — icons like the lionfish, the warty comb jelly, the Norwegian boat-eating kraken, the sea walnut, ok I made the kraken one up but I have your attention now don’t I, the zebra mussel — take up a lot of the focus to the detriment of other invaders. Lionfish alone were 40 percent of all the studies looking at invasive fish.

María Paula Rubiano A., Hakai Magazine


Fossils found in the Canadian Northwest Territory may be the oldest life ever found, according to a new report published in Nature. Previously the oldest undisputed fossil sponges dated to about 540 million years ago, during the Cambrian period. Life on earth began an estimated 3.7 billion years ago, but when exactly animals like sponges first splashed on to the scene isn’t completely hammered down yet. The adjacent rock layers to the Canadian fossil find are about 890 million years old, which would beat out the existing find by 350 million years. If confirmed, it pushes even further back the known existence of absorbent, yellow, or porous animal life.

Christina Larson, The Associated Press

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