Numlock News: March 22, 2021 • Salmon, Chips, Volcano

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!

Salmon Chaos

A popular chain of sushi restaurants in Taiwan announced a limited time offer last week, where any customer whose name just so happened to include “gui yu,” the Chinese characters for salmon, could get an all-you-can eat sushi meal with five friends. What a delightful little promotion, a fun-filled way to — oh, oh no, 150 people visited government offices to change their name to “salmon.”. In Taichung alone, the second-largest municipality, 46 people changed their name to salmon. This has caused a number of problems, such as for the medical student who legally changed his name to Salmon Dream only to later discover he had reached the maximum quota of three name changes and would not be allowed to change his name again. It hit the point where the government was actively begging its civilians to not change their name to “Salmon.” Anyway, unrelated, but moving forward this newsletter will be written by Ribeye PS5 Dodge Challenger Rye Moderna Hickey.

Keoni Everington, Taiwan News and Agence France-Presse

Forgiveness

Students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges will have all their federal loans fully erased, a change that could lead to 72,000 borrowers who attended for-profit colleges that turned out to be shams seeing some $1 billion in loans cancelled. The previous formula to get relief for those students was only partial, and the Department of Education will continue to review the backlog of claims that has accumulated from students who were bamboozled by faux-colleges. There have been 343,331 applications for relief under the borrower defense to repayment program, which cancels loans for defrauded students, of which 61,511 have been approved and borrowers notified so far.

Carole Feldman, The Associated Press

All Alone In The Moonlight

Spot prices for dynamic random-access memory chips — the memory cards that make all computing possible, not just in computers but in devices like printers, cars, smartphones and more — have jumped 60 percent since early this year, with the median spot price of a benchmark DDR4 SDRAM 4-gigabit chip hitting $2.68 on Tuesday. While the consumer electronics giants buy the chips directly in enormous orders, the spot market — which is about 10 percent of the global chip market — is used by manufacturers who use DRAMs in small lots and don’t keep enormous stocks. The price jump is the result of a surge in demand for semiconductors in automobiles and personal computer sales, all of which have popped this year.

Momoka Matsumoto, Nikkei Asia

Whoopsie

Since November, at least 2,980 containers have fallen off cargo ships in the Pacific Ocean, from at least six separate goof-ups in a logistical whoopsie-daisy that has outfitted Davy Jones’ Locker with stocks of vacuum cleaners, frozen shrimp, some Kate Spade swag and more. Rising imports and crummy weather have led to the above-typical cargo losses, as the 2,980 lost in the past few months is over twice the annual amount lost from 2008 to 2019. Blaming the weather is the common strategy: the Essen attributed its 750 lost containers to “heavy seas,” the Eindhoven lost 260 containers after a blackout in the middle of a storm, and the Apus lost over 1,800 containers in gale force winds and large swells, one of the worst losses ever.

Aarian Marshall, Wired

Volcano

An earthquake swarm in Iceland has manifested in a bona-fide volcanic eruption, with the Fagradals Mountain volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula erupting for the first time in 6,000 years, the first eruption on the peninsula in 781 years. Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is about 20 miles away, and the glow of the lava can be seen from the city. There’s little danger, as the volcano is really remote and about a mile and a half from the nearest road, so no evacuations are believed to be needed.

The Associated Press

Space Launch System

After a crummy test earlier in the year, NASA’s second hot fire test of the Space Launch System (SLS) was green across the board, with the test running for a right-on-target 499.6 seconds. In January, the first test of the engines was stopped at 67 seconds, which wasn’t long enough to get the desired data that would have been logged after about 250 seconds. The successful eight-minute test, which produced 1.6 million pounds of thrust, will set the stage for the forthcoming missions for the SLS, primarily getting Orion spacecraft beyond low Earth orbit. NASA has 16 RS-25 engines salvaged from the shuttle program, which will be used in the first four SLS launches, and has contracted to build 24 more for flights to come after that.

Amy Thompson, Space.com

Check Out Quibi Today

The New York City subway system is right now lousy with advertisements for films, television shows and short form video applications that were intended to come out last April. Sometimes they did — RIP Quibi, too weird to live, too rare to die — and sometimes they did not (A Quiet Place Part II did not manage to sneak into the cinema on March 20, 2020 because of some stuff that happened). The MTA’s ads are handled by Outfront Media, which reported that transit ad spending was down 76 percent and billboard spending was down 36 percent in the first half of the year. Ad space in the subway and on billboards was discounted by 85 to 90 percent in the spring. While the distributors of The Photograph are probably not delighted that their ads became a permanent fixture in the visual landscape of the annus horribilis, blank ad squares are bad for business and outdoor advertisers are loath to remove even vestigial advertisements if it just means a blank space on the wall.

Tim Donnelly, Curbed

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