Numlock News: September 14, 2021 • Geomagnetic Storm, Broadway, Mammoths

By Walt Hickey

Bollywood

Two of the largest film studios in India inked a 10 billion rupee ($135 million) deal to jointly develop 10 feature films, a significant bet on a Bollywood box office that has continued to struggle. It’s one of the largest financing deals in the history of Bollywood, and is a bullish choice when lots of others are skittish about betting on theaters. The state of Maharashtra, which is home to Mumbai and Bollywood itself, is usually responsible for 30 to 50 percent of a Hindi film’s domestic gross, but the state has held on its ban on film screenings during the pandemic. The closures are costing the film industry roughly $54 million per month in losses.

Chris Kay, Bloomberg

Mammoths

A company claiming it plans to develop tools to revive the long-extinct wooly mammoth has raised $15 million in initial funding and captured headlines the world over. While lots of people are asking somewhat pertinent questions — is it ethical to bring back the mammoths? Is genetically modifying an Asian elephant to become mammoth-esque actually reviving the mammoth? — people seem to be missing the fact that $15 million is a ridiculously small number, like, if it cost $15 million to clone a mammoth, Disney World would already contain a herd of woolly mammoths. Furthermore, they could have raised at least $1.5 billion more than that if they tweaked their pitch from “I want to clone a woolly mammoth” to “I want to clone a woolly mammoth and use them as a rideshare and food delivery fleet, Masayoshi Son.”

Carl Zimmer, The New York Times

Take A Card, Any Card

Prior to the pandemic, something like 7 billion business cards were printed around the world every year. The pandemic hemmed in travel — a key driver of business card needs — and the subsequent ascent of the QR code as the dominant medium of rudimentary information exchange has put a target on the embossed, glossy back of the business card. NFC, or near-field communication tags, are also convenient ways to exchange information. According to Vistaprint, where business cards are around a quarter of sales, March and April 2020 saw business card sales fall 70 percent, though sales have since rebounded.

Adrienne Murray, BBC

Overprescribed

The percentage of nursing home residents with a schizophrenia diagnosis is up 70 percent since 2012, according to Medicare data, and that’s a red flag. While in the general population, about one in every 150 people have received a schizophrenia diagnosis, that’s one in nine in nursing homes. The fear is that restless patients who may be sulfuring from some level of dementia are, for convenience’s sake in understaffed homes, being prescribed powerful sedatives and antipsychotics that can jeopardize their overall health. According to an analysis of Medicare data, 225,000 of the 1.1 million nursing home residents, or at least 21 percent, are on antipsychotics.

Katie Thomas, Robert Gebeloff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, The New York Times

The Great White Way

Over the next two months, about 30 Broadway shows will return, which is good news for the 38 percent of U.S. adults who currently feel okay going to a theater performance. That’s down 10 percentage points from July 4, when 48 percent of American adults were down to see a show. The strict safety protocol from the Broadway League — mandatory vaccinations and masking, plus improved ventilation — could go a long way to getting people more comfortable as a number of productions including Hamilton, Aladdin and Chicago reopen this week. In the 2018-19 season, Broadway supported around 96,900 jobs in New York, and contributed some $14.7 billion towards the economy, so it’s important to get consumers to feel safe, whether through improved facilities or merely assuring them that Scott Rudin no longer has access to projectiles and is currently out of range.

Sarah Shevenock, Morning Consult

XCheck

A VIP list of public figures who enjoyed preferential status on Facebook in terms of moderation and fact-checking had, by 2020, reached 5.8 million users. This has resulted in public figures being able to spread incitements to violence and harassment that would get your typical Facebook user sanctioned. Some documents describing the system have been sent by a person seeking whistleblower protection to the Securities and Exchange Commission and to Congress.

Jeff Horowitz, The Wall Street Journal

Flares

A new preprint paper submitted to Nature Communications announced the purported discovery of two new strong solar events in Earth’s history, one in 7176 BC and another one in 5259 BC. Conveniently for the then-denizens of Earth, the nomadic hunter-gatherers of the time are believed to have lacked an electrical grid and satellite-based Global Positioning System that would be potentially screwed up by strong solar events, but the risk remains. The two newly discovered flares are believed to be on par with a known solar event in 775 A.D. That event is believed to have been 10 to 100 times stronger than the Carrington Event of 1859, which kicked off a huge geomagnetic storm, sparked electrical fires in telegraph lines, and created aurora displays. In 1989, one weak geomagnetic storm caused a 12-hour blackout in Quebec.

Jonathan O’Callaghan, Scientific American

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