Numlock News: May 3, 2021 • Chlorine, Mars, Pokemon

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!

Twisted Sister

An Australian mining industrialist has been ordered to pay Universal Music and Twisted Sister $1.5 million (USD) after using a mediocre rewritten version of the Twisted Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” for multiple advertisements during the 2019 Australian election without paying for the rights. Over the course of the trial, Clive Palmer also ticked off the judge by claiming that he had written the song based on an 18th century hymn, later described by the court as “ludicrous” and “fanciful.” As a result, $500,000 (AUS) in damages and $1 million (AUS) in additional damages is due to how flagrant the infringement was. Dee Snider, the frontman of Twisted Sister, provided evidence in the case about the writing of the song, and the whole thing started when the mining magnate declined to pay a comparatively reasonable $150,000 for the license fee.

Michaela Whitbourn, Sydney Morning Herald

My Chemical Romance

Last August a factory in Lake Charles, Louisiana caught fire following Hurricane Laura. The fire destroyed BioLab, which is one of the largest makers of trichlor tablets and the chemicals that go into making shock, chemicals all necessary to keep pools clean. As a result, prices for bulk containers of trichlor have doubled since the fire and supplies are low; a 50-pound bag of three inch stabilized chlorine tablets that once sold for $109 is now going for $169.99 on Amazon. Compounding this is a decreased supply overall of chlorine gas. It’s mostly created as a byproduct of manufacturing sodium hydroxide. The issue there is that 25 percent of the sodium hydroxide supply is for the paper business, which has been in decline. Odyssey Manufacturing, which makes 40 percent of the liquid chlorine in Florida, is expecting to hike prices 5 to 10 percent in June, and a supply shortage were it to happen would go down in July or August.

Ron Hurtibise, Tampa Bay Times

Slayer

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train has in its second weekend beat out Mortal Kombat at the U.S. domestic box office, bringing in $6.4 million in ticket sales to $6.2 million for Kombat. While that’s a 70 percent drop in each of their second weeks for both films, it’s not too shabby for a marketplace where just 57 percent of theaters are open. Demon Slayer became the third-highest grossing anime title in North America with a total of $34.1 million, a solid trend for a film that became the highest-grossing anime movie in history with $423 million and the top-grossing film ever at the Japanese box office with $368 million.

Rebecca Rubin, Variety

Motorheads

The nice thing about cars compared to other gadgets is that once you buy it, they literally toss you the keys and let you do what you want without having to subscribe to vehicular iCloud or some sort of automotive GSuite or a Nissan Stanza exclusive Microsoft365. Well, the party’s over, the auto manufacturers heard about gadget manufacturers coercing their customers into recurring subscription plans, and they want in. Porsche rolled out an “intelligent range manager” for $12 a month or $474 up front that will improve the performance of your Taycan if you pay them for the privilege. GM rolled out an over-the-air Maps+ update to 900,000 of its vehicles on Friday, with future pushes for a Super Cruise autonomous driving function on the way. BMW —though burned on an $80 per year fee for CarPlay recently — as well as Audi, Lexus and Mercedes are all looking into such options for their rides.

Kyle Stock, Bloomberg

Thirty Seconds To Mars

NASA has completed four successful flights of a drone named Ingenuity on the Martian surface, and has delivered the green light for a mission extension for another 30 Martian days. The first flight was a 40 second quick hover to get the gears moving, the next two got a little distance — one going for 50 meters at a height of 5 meters. The fourth flight Friday was a 266 meter round trip that produced 65 images. The original flight manifest had just one more jaunt on the docket. In the next phase it’ll fly up to a kilometer ahead of the Perseverence rover to scout out neat features.

Rebecca Morelle, BBC News

A CGC

A massive surge in interest in Pokémon trading cards has led to unprecedented delays and an acute labor shortage at the major grading service. Professional Sports Authentication, the most popular grading service, has cited wait times of up to 10 months, saying they receive over 500,000 cards per business week which is more than they typically received in a given three-month period. They’ve gone so far as to decline to accept cards unless a collector pays $300 per card for Super Express service. Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), another grading service, has wait times of 144 working days, has hired 70 new employees in three months, bought 21,000 square feet of space, and is offering $2,500 starting bonuses to just get more graders in the door.

Jason Koebler, Motherboard

The Clash

Apple’s App Store is the subject of ongoing litigation from companies like Epic Games, which argues that the App Store exists to extract money from developers and provides no actual service, raising antitrust violations given Apple’s opposition to in-app payment systems outside their App Store. Apple argues that’s bogus, and that Apple’s review process is an important service. Still, new figures (disputed by Apple) from the company’s Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis group revealed in the course of the litigation shows just how big a cash cow the App Store is: the operating margin in 2018 was reportedly 74.9 percent, and in 2019 it was 77.8 percent.

Kim Lyons, The Verge

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