Numlock News: September 8, 2021 • Vapes, ATVs, Ku Mincho

By Walt Hickey

Vape Gets In Your Eyes

The Food and Drug Administration is fast approaching the September 9 deadline by which they’ll decide the fate of each and every electronic cigarette product in the United States after reviewing millions of applications. They’ve already blocked 55,000 flavored vapes, and onlookers in the vape business think that the big winners will be the established, wealthy tobacco companies who have the dough to do the requisite research and deal with the regulatory hoops ahead. Juul, for instance, owned by Altria has about 40 percent of the market. There are lots of up-front costs: one vastly smaller company that produces 14 flavors said it spent about $7,000 per flavor to apply and provide the scientific answers the FDA is looking for.

Katherine Ellen Foley, POLITICO

Ku Mincho

A type designer attempting to develop a revamp of Chinese type based on Ming dynasty calligraphy and stripping out later Japanese and People’s Republic of China influences raised 20,450,840 Taiwanese dollars, or $716,600 USD, on a crowdfunding platform. The interest in the typeface, called Ku Mincho, was so strong it hit 511 percent of its original goal and has attracted Taiwanese governmental interest. While Latin-based fonts require less than 300 glyphs, the Ku Mincho team has to produce 13,000 commonly-used Chinese characters as well as another 981 characters specific to Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Hakka. The first 7,600 characters are due to be finished by March 2022, with the rest finished by July.

Brian Ng, Rest of World


The Nielsen ratings directed the flows of the overall $70.59 billion in television ad dollars in 2019 and the $61.76 billion from 2020. However, digital video spending is rising: $31.86 billion in 2019 and $41.44 billion in 2020. To compensate, Nielsen is attempting to restructure the way they gather the baseline data that goes into their projections, and time is a factor. By 2023, digital video ad spending is projected to rise to $78.45 billion, exceeding the projected $67.2 billion spent on conventional television. Nielsen’s business is steady — large media companies fork over $100 million a year apiece, and in the second quarter alone they logged $629 million in revenue in audience measurement alone — but could be threatened if they miss the streaming boat.

Alexandra Bruell, The Wall Street Journal

Take It Back

A new facility 20 miles southeast of Reykjavík will be the largest direct air carbon capture facility in the world, and will pull 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year to store it underground permanently. The facility alone is going to increase the direct air capture capacity of the entire world by 40 percent, up to 13,000 metric tons annually. Lots of climate proposals rely on carbon capture, but the engineering reality is not anywhere near the amounts penciled in on an idealized climate ledger: that 13,000 metric tons is less than 1 percent of the annual emissions of a single coal plant, and the world needs to remove anywhere from 100 billion to 1 trillion tons of carbon to avoid the worst of global warming.

Corbin Hiar, E&E News

Not In My Terrain

Last year saw sales of all-terrain vehicles surge 33 percent year over year according to the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, an organization whose annual meetings I imagine being nigh-incomprehensible over the constant roar of loud, rippling engines. This has led to problems for stewards of public lands, who have seen increased wear and tear on the paths for the vehicles through the backwoods. At the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in West Virginia, the number of annual trail permits hit an annual record of 65,000, and ATV permits in the state of Maine were up 6 percent.

Lisa Rathke, The Associated Press

Here There Be Dragons

According to the British Dragonfly Society — again the soundscape of their annual meeting also has to be distressing — the bugs are rapidly spreading over Britain and Ireland, emboldened by changing climates. Since 1970, 40 percent of dragonfly species have seen their distribution across the isles increase and just 10 percent have seen their fiefs decline. Their report, State of Dragonflies 2021, factored in 1.4 million records since 1970 and looked at how 46 species of dragonflies fared over the period. The insects have existed for some 300 million years and have ridden out their fair share of climatic changes.

Helen Briggs, BBC


Cargo bikes are in high demand the world over as more and more companies try to efficiently tackle the last mile of delivery. Cargo bikes can reduce emissions by 90 percent compared to diesel vans, and even cut emissions by a third compared to electric cargo vans. Vans are often stuck inefficiently circling a block for a convenient place to park and unload — one study found this accounts for up to 28 percent of a van driver’s day — where the more nimble cargo bikes can manage that easily. As a result, a London study found cargo bikes could deliver seven packages per hour compared to four for a van in a similar situation. About $900 million worth of cargo bikes will be sold this year — Europe, and especially Germany loves them — and all that’s needed for the U.S. to follow suit is, in many places like New York, legalization of the bikes.

David Zipper, Bloomberg CityLab

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Correction: An earlier edition misstated the conversion of Taiwanese dollars to United States dollars.

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