By Walt Hickey
Dark Phoenix bombed at the box office this past weekend, looking more like An On-Fire Bird Unable To Auto-Resuscitate. Pulling in $33 million, it’s the worst debut of an X-Men movie and didn’t even beat The Secret Life of Pets 2. Though Dark Phoenix made $107 million internationally, it also cost $200 million to make, so it’s somewhat unclear if it’ll hit profitability. Dark Phoenix tells the story of a newly empowered woman and the inability of every single man surrounding her to process that. It also features Magneto, a guy who Cassandra-like is constantly correct about how humans want to kill him and all his friends but whose wisdom is disregarded and even fought by a bunch of prep school cosplay enthusiasts and their bald one-man NSA of a boss.
The results are in, and Sweden’s 2012 law that allowed new fathers to take up to 30 days off of work as needed — in addition to their paternity leave — in the year after a birth had an enormous positive impact on maternal health. The result was a 26 percent decrease in anti-anxiety medication prescribed to new mothers compared to the cohort who gave birth prior to the introduction of the policy. Furthermore, there was a 14 percent decrease in hospitalizations and an 11 percent decrease in antibiotic prescriptions.
Down Where It's Wetter
Seabed 2030 wants to map the entire ocean floor by 2030, and they’re doing great: their work alone increased the percentage of the seabed that’s been surveyed from 6 percent to 15 percent. The tech that makes that possible — undersea drones that can dive underwater for three days at a time to a depth of 20,000 feet — goes for $5 million to $10 million, which is a small price to pay for a project that is probably not trying to find and loot Atlantis.
India will report an estimated 5.1 million cases of malaria in 2018, a remarkable accomplishment and credit to the nation’s plan to eliminate indigenous cases by 2027. In 2016, India reported 12.6 million cases, and in 2017 that dropped to 9.6 million cases. The final report is still being written, but the mortality — which stood at 16,733 malaria deaths in 2017 — reportedly fell by an even larger margin. The test-treat-track strategy has health workers testing anyone with a fever for malaria, and that’s working. India accounts for 4 percent of worldwide malaria cases, and one of five nations that account for a combined half of cases, so significant progress in India will have some great global ramifications as well.
United Technologies Corp. is merging with Raytheon Corp. to form what will be the second-largest aerospace and defense company after Boeing, with a valuation of $100 billionish. The reason for the merger isn’t exactly rocket science. Wait, it actually is, it’s totally rocket science, they are going to save $1 billion by combining and so the combined company can spend more on R&D to make more and better jet engines. If you’re wondering why you should care about this merger, recall that $25 billion of their combined revenue, or like a third of it, comes from the Pentagon and decreased competition in an industry is not exactly historically great for customers.
Lithium is an essential component of batteries, and with the way things are going we’re going to be using a lot more batteries and thus more lithium in the future. By 2025, the market for raw mined lithium is projected to be worth $20 billion, the market for refined lithium will be $43 billion, and the market for battery cells will be $424 billion. Chile and Australia mine most of the lithium, accounting for 29 percent and 50 percent of the raw metal produced, but the pair recognize the real money in the lithium game is downstream, such as in refining (mainly China, 89 percent of the market) and battery assembly (Japan has 53 percent of that market, China’s got 20 percent, and South Korea has 14 percent).
Organic farming means finding ways to grow food without having that food getting wiped out by a phalanx of weeds, and that’s hard when you remove the option of wiping out the annoyances with a chemical onslaught. One solution is a plastic film spread over the ground as mulch that kills weeds, keeps water, and helps the plants grow. At one farm, 30 productive acres use some 36 miles of plastic film over the course of the year, and that all gets sent to a landfill.
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