Numlock News: October 20, 2020 • Subs, Tats, Kimchi

By Walt Hickey

We All Live In A

Narcosubmarines, which ferried cocaine from Colombia to Central America since at least the 1990s and have become a convenient way to ship large quantities of coke amid rising enforcement along traditional shipping lanes, have now been found crossing the Atlantic. Built for around $1 million apiece in the jungles of South America, the low-tech submersibles are an expensive but critical link in smuggling drugs out of their manufacture sites to Europe and North America. For a while, they were more of a “get the drugs out of the country to a depot site in Central America” leg of the adventure, but last year authorities nabbed a narcosubmarine flush with 152 bales of cocaine off the coast of Spain so either that was one incredibly lost drug smuggler or they’re now using the DIY-vessels to make the 4,000-mile journey by sea rather than dice it on a container ship.

James Marson, The Wall Street Journal

Box Office

According to consultant Artisan Gateway, the Chinese box office now stands at $1.99 billion for the year 2020, beating out the $1.94 billion notched across North America. Comscore puts the American total a little north of that — $2.1 billion — but needless to say 2020 is bound to be the year that China overtakes the U.S. and Canada to be the largest market for films. Granted, that $1.99 billion is still just 75.5 percent of China’s 2019 total, but, you know, I think they and a lot of people have a pretty good excuse.

Patrick Frater, Variety


Nokia has secured a $14.1 million contract from NASA to build a 4G communications system intended to be deployed on a lunar lander to the surface of the moon in late 2022 as part of the Artemis mission. The device, which will provide important communications to astronauts bound for the base, must be rugged enough to survive the rigors of the lunar surface. On one hand, if there is one company know for the ruggedness of their cellular devices, it’s the Finnish telecommunications company without a doubt. On the other hand, judging by this timeline there’s a pretty good chance that the moon will have better 4G cell service than actual parts of America, and that fact is going to make it just a little tiny bit rougher every time I can’t find a signal in 2022.

Associated Press


Tattoo Law

A former tattoo artist Catherine Alexander has sued Take Two Interactive over the WWE 2K series of games, arguing that they unlawfully replicated her work in the game. That work, specifically, is 6 tattoos on the body of wrestler Randy Orton, including a tribal mark, a dove, a rose, a skull, and a Bible verse, all purportedly designed and inked by Alexander and replicated within the game without her permission. Six months ago, a federal judge in New York ruled player tattoos in NBA 2K could be replicated without paying the tattooist, but the U.S. District Judge in Illinois fielding this case will let the bout go on. Take-Two paid a license fee to the WWE for what was sold as the rights to Orton’s digital form, and the WWE in turn paid Orton for the likeness rights. In the NBA 2K legal fight, the game maker argued that the tattoos were a tiny fraction of the game’s data, between 0.000286 percent and 0.000431 percent, but that strategy hasn’t been established in the Seventh Circuit yet.

Michael McCann, Sportico


A superconductor is a material that can transmit electricity without resistance, which in terms of the future of electronics is pretty much the best possible situation. All known superconductors had to be cooled, most to very low temperatures, and as a result were impractical for general use. A new paper published in Nature describes the first superconductor that can work in the vicinity of room temperature, specifically below temperatures of 15° Celsius or about 59° Fahrenheit. The superconductor works only at extremely high pressures — 2.6 million times that of Earth’s atmosphere, specifically — and is more a proof of concept than anything else, but the discovery nevertheless opens up doors.

Emily Conover, Science News


There’s a tough kimchi situation popping off in South Korea right now, with extreme weather conditions resulting in the destruction of large amounts of cabbages, driving prices for the vegetable up over 60 percent. Normally Korean households will buy up the cabbages to make bulk kimchi for the next year, but following three typhoons and the longest-ever rainy season, cabbages are pricier than usual. Daesang Corp., which is the top kimchi producer in South Korea, has gone so far as to suspend online sales because of the shortage.

Heesu Lee, Bloomberg


While awareness of the dangers of carbon emissions is high, it’s worth noting that if you’re age 35, exactly half of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions have happened during your lifetime. For those aged 20, 32 percent of carbon emissions have happened in the course of your lifetime, and for those aged 60, their time on earth has seen fully 72 percent of all human-caused CO2 emissions take place. I mean let’s say you recently turned thirty like a month ago, and kind of feel bad about a lot of stuff because it feels like the end of your twenties is a distressing moment occurring within a larger, more systemic distressing moment, and you’re not exactly the young and exciting one anymore and your relative youth no longer makes your work inherently interesting and now you’ve got to reconcile the fact that basically you no longer have the easier deflection of inexperience to glaze over your flaws or anything and maybe your inherent fear is that you now have to stand as you are, well good news, idiot: 44 percent of carbon dioxide emissions happened in your lifetime so that’s a better thing to worry about so stop moping and call your congresswoman or something.

Aatish Bhatia, Parametric Press

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