Numlock News: September 20, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Exports Of Stimulants From South American Nations

Earnings season is always a fascinating time of the year, and the latest reports show that the volatile cocaine production industry is having a banner year: coca shrub land is up 17 percent in Colombia to 171,000 hectares, up from 48,000 hectares in 2013, which is in keeping with the cocaine industry five year plan of “we should make more cocaine.” Indeed, 171,000 hectares is enough to make 1,379 tons of cocaine. One reason for the additional acreage is that coffee prices are down 38 percent since the start of 2017, making the pivot to cocaine apparently a great financial decision for former coffee farmers.

Oscar Medina, Bloomberg

Wake Up Times

The average start time for high schools is 7:59 a.m., which totally sucks for essentially everyone involved. The early start times mean that teens are forced to go to class at a time asynchronous with their optimal level of awake and also leave school hours before the normal workday ends. Research shows teens don’t naturally fall asleep until 11 p.m. and need about 9 hours of sleep per night, so you see where the math kind of breaks down here. Indeed 87 percent of American public high schools start before 8:30 a.m., which is non-ideal.

Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

Bicycle

Denise Mueller-Korenek became the fastest human to ever ride a bicycle, hitting an average 183.932 miles per hour on a custom bicycle. This shatters a record set in 1995, a dramatization of which you can see in the hit documentary Tron. They were only aiming for 175 miles per hour, tops, but ended up obliterating the 167 mile per hour record set by Fred Rompelberg.

Bill Chappell, NPR

Commutes

The average American commute increased by 18 seconds per trip in 2017, according to new data from the American Community Survey, and now stands at 26.9 minutes. That’s an extra 2.5 hours of transit every year. New York had the longest travel times — see, we’re not just complaining, the Subway really does suck super bad and math proves it — with 37 minutes per trip, up 2 minutes over the past decade.

Faiz Siddiqui, The Washington Post

Annoying Calls

The FCC estimates that Americans get 2.4 billion unwanted, automated calls every month. They account for roughly half of all FCC complaints. Incoming fraudulent calls are surging, particularly from spoofed numbers designed to appear to be from a nearby area. Earlier this year the FCC slapped a $120 million fine against a Florida man who allegedly made 100 million robocalls promising a vacation deal, because apparently “exile to deep space on a rocket ship” was too good for the monster.

Hamza Shaban, The Washington Post

Fibers

It is so, so hard to not release plastic into the oceans. A single 6 kilogram wash causes hundreds of thousands of microscopic plastic fibers to be released from clothing. A 6 kg wash of acrylic would release an estimated 728,789 fibers, a wash of polyester clothing releases an estimated 496,030 fibers, and a wash of a polyester-cotton blend releases 137,951 fibers. This adds up: a population of 100,000 people make about 1.02 kilograms of the fibers each day, or 793 pounds of tiny plastic shards per year. This is great news for slobs, who now have a solid environmental argument for why they never do their damn laundry.

Brian Resnick, Vox

Floodwaters

The city of Charlotte has spent $68 million since 1999 to buy buildings that are in the floodplain of the Catawba River so that they can be demolished rather than continue on with the endless build-flood-repeat process. They’ve bought 400 buildings in that period and eye a further 500 to 1,000 buildings in the future. Allowing that land to return to a natural state can mitigate the effects of flooding that would not be held back by developed land and impervious surfaces. It’s financed by a $1.25 fee on monthly utility bills. No homes were lost to Florence.

Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg Businessweek

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