Numlock News: May 13, 2021 • Entry Level, Telescopes, Pets

By Walt Hickey


The U.S. Patent Office issued patent 11,000,000 on Tuesday, a nice round number that has obviously stirred up a crackpot conspiracy theory that I now 100 percent genuinely, personally, believe — it’s way too good to be false. Here’s what’s up: Patent #11,000,000 went to a spiffy heart valve, an innovative prosthetic that is the very definition of high-tech innovation. A little too cute, you know? This is particularly of note because the heart valve is unlike patent 10,999,999 and patent 11,000,001 which are each patents for soybeans. In fact, the heart valve busts what would otherwise be a streak of six soybean patents, and an even longer streak of agricultural patents like new beans, tomatoes, corn and sorghum. Did some patent clerk treat the American patent system like a 4chan thread and attempt to score a GET for the valve? We’ll never know, but I, for one, have my thoughts.

Mitchell Clark, The Verge


About 12.6 million U.S. households got a new pet last year after the beginning of the pandemic, and the rush of new patients is leaving veterinarians burned out and exhausted. Practices that once saw three or four new patients a week are now looking at double that, and appointments at many practices are booked weeks in advance. The largest national provider, Banfield Pet Hospital, saw a half-million more visits in 2020 than in 2019. The demand for pets is upping demand for vets: veterinary positions are projected to grow 16 percent by 2029.

Kelli Kennedy, The Associated Press

James Webb

The 6.5 meter wide golden mirror that will form the critical component of the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope is being put through its final paces at manufacturer Northrop Grumman. Unlike its predecessor the Hubble, there aren’t second chances for the Webb if there’s an issue with the mirror once in orbit. Hubble orbited Earth, but Webb is going further out to one of Earth’s Lagrange points, so the 1.5 million kilometer two-week trip makes it critical that they get it right before they throw it up. A lot rides on getting the long-delayed telescope going soon: astronomers from 40 different countries have booked time on the JWST in year one.

Jonathan Amos, BBC News

Foreign Language

American interest for global programming is on the rise, and a few cultural exporters account for the biggest slices of the pie. Japanese content accounted for 30.5 percent of audience demand for foreign content in the first three months of 2021, higher than Spanish-language content (21 percent), Korean-language (11.1 percent) and Hindi (8.6 percent) content. That’s a big credit to the outsized impact of Japanese pop culture in the mainstream United States, as needless to say the number of Americans who speak Spanish at home in the U.S. is overwhelmingly higher than the number who speak Japanese.

Lisa Du and Shirley Zhao, Bloomberg

Entry Level

In 2018, an analysis of 95,000 job postings found that 61 percent of such “entry-level” positions needed three years or more of experience. This Kafkaesque nightmare besieging recent grads has only been getting worse, as even though the disconnect between what employers seem to want and applicants are capable of producing continues to diverge, the number of postings for entry-level jobs in the U.S. was down 68 percent last year.

Kristen Titus, Quartz

The Count

China’s National Population Census for 2020 dropped on Tuesday, saying that the country had 253.38 million children aged 14 or younger. This is odd, if only because the number of new births from 2006 to 2020 amounts to just 239 million, a gap of 5 percent that would seem to imply that 14 million children appeared out of nowhere. If 14 million foreigners became Chinese citizens you could potentially make the numbers work, but that simply didn’t happen. Most are skeptical of the census figure, a 13.8 percent growth from 2010 in the number of children in a country that recorded 12 million births last year, the lowest in almost six decades, and one where the birth rate peaked in 2016.

Iori Kawate, Nikkei Asia


Congressional earmarks are back after years of ruling out the practice in which members of congress are able to get funding for specific projects in their district as part of large funding bills. Kit and caboodle, members of the House are looking for 2,887 earmarks with a grand total of $5.897 billion, a chance to bring home some bacon after years with bacon being off the menu. All told, community funding projects — the polite way of saying earmarks — will end up accounting for a projected $14 billion according to the House Appropriations Committee Chair, which is 1 percent of 2022 discretionary spending.

George Cahlink, E&E News

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