Friday, April 16, 2021

Iconic movie theater chains shutter

ArcLight and Pacific Theaters, including the salubrious Cinemara Dome theater on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, announced they are closing all 300 of their locations permanently. The California-based theater chain buckled under pandemic closures, which have sent a handful of cinema chains into bankruptcy and put the future of others in question. The news of the closures of ArcLight and Pacific drew a number of comments from celebrities like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Olivia Wilde who mourned the loss of the seminal and iconic West Coast chain. (Deadline)


Music workers tuning out of industry

Many who have forged a career in the live music business building stages, designing lighting, engineering audio or working on the complicated logistics of touring have watched in dismay as their industry fell silent for a year. Although there are glimmers of hope, most experts concede large-scale concert tours are off the table for 2021. That realization has led an increasing number of stalwarts and veterans to abandon their industry and seek new career paths. Now companies fear that when live music eventually bounces back, its workforce will have already moved on. (The Wall Street Journal)


Airlines prepare for summer rebound

There are more encouraging signs that leisure travel “could be in full effect as early as this summer” as fares approach mid-2019 prices. At the same time, Southwest Airlines is recalling flight attendants from voluntary extended leave on June 1, and American Airlines is beefing up its summer schedule to almost pre-pandemic levels. If you plan to travel this summer, you’ll need more prep time to see if there are quarantine restrictions at your destination and whether a vaccine passport is required. (The New York Times)


Venomous snake discovered chilling out in Aldi lettuce bag purchased in Australia

A man in Sydney, Australia discovered he had bought more than just lettuce when he returned from a grocery trip earlier this week. He noticed a small venomous snake was hanging out in a produce bag had just brought home, he said. The young animal, which apparently came free with purchase, was identified as a pale-headed snake, scientifically known as an Hoplocephalus bitorquatus. While there aren’t any known human fatalities resulting from this particular species’ bite, the snake’s venom can produce some unpleasant symptoms, including severe headache, blurred vision, localized pain, and abnormal bleeding. The snake was picked up by wildlife officials and will be returned to the wild eventually. The lettuce, however, did not survive the ordeal. The man used it in a salad wrap for lunch later on. (The Guardian)


U.S. retail sales increased by 9.8% in March, the largest single-month jump since May 2020

The surge in retail spending reflects the distribution of stimulus checks, warmer weather, and an easing of coronavirus-related restrictions in much of the country. Economists only predicted a 5.9% increase in retail sales in March. Consumer spending is up 27.7% Year-Over-Year, a new record, though this is slightly misleading given how much spending dropped in March 2020. Sales were particularly good in the restaurant industry, up 13.4% from the previous month and 36% from March 2020. Grocery sales increased 0.5% from February but were down 13.8% Year-Over-Year. In another sign of an improving economy, 613,000 people filed for first-time jobless claims last week, down 153,000 from the previous week and the fewest since the start of the pandemic. That being said, initial jobless claims are still at historically high levels compared to before COVID-19. (The Wall Street Journal)


A “satellite mapping enthusiast” helped track down a lost hiker based on a single photo

A man texted a friend earlier this week that he got lost while hiking in Angeles National Forest in California and that his phone was dying. Authorities released the photo publicly, asking for help identifying its location. Fortunately, one person claiming he has has “a very weird hobby” – he loves using satellite imagery to figure out where a photo was taken. He sent officials coordinates and the lost hiker was found safely within three-quarters of a mile of that spot. The hiker later thanked the man with the map hobby in a virtual meeting. (CBS Los Angeles)


Only 3% of all land on Earth remains “ecologically intact,” according to a new study

Researchers believe that only a small area of land, most of it in the Amazon and Congo rainforests, or in Canadian and Siberian forests, remains undisturbed with all the biodiversity that existed there before human industrial intervention. The study suggests, however, that reintroducing some animals to these areas might help restore up to 20% of Earth’s ecosystems. In 2020, deforestation of the Amazon hit its highest rate since 2008. The research did not include Antarctica and found that the majority of “intact areas” were managed by indigenous communities. Some researchers said the estimates of the study are crude and that more specific regional maps would be necessary to find more ecologically intact locations. (The Guardian)


A new study estimates that as many as 2.5 billion T-Rexes lived on Earth over the course of a few million years

One Tyrannosaurus Rex seems scary enough. Now picture 2.5 billion of them. That’s how many of the fierce dinosaur king probably roamed Earth over the course of a couple million years, a new study finds. Using calculations based on body size, sexual maturity and the creatures’ energy needs, a team at the University of California, Berkeley figured out just how many T-Rex lived over 127,000 generations. It’s a first-of-its-kind number, but just an estimate with a margin of error that is the size of a T-Rex. The species roamed North America for about 1.2 million to 3.6 million years, meaning the T-Rex population density was small at any one moment. There would be about two in a place the size of the Washington, D.C., or 3,800 in California, the study said. (AP News)


Walmart invests in self-driving startup Cruise

Walmart is investing in self-driving startup Cruise as part of a massive $2.75 billion investment round in the company, an expansion of the $2 billion round announced back in January. That original announcement featured three other big names: GM, Honda, and Microsoft. Cruise was originally an independent startup but was acquired by GM in 2016. GM has poured billions into the company and has increasingly sought additional financial support from outside investors. Cruise and Walmart announced a pilot project last November for Cruise to run a delivery service for Walmart in Scottsdale, Arizona. But Walmart’s relationship with Cruise is far from exclusive. Walmart has also done pilot projects with Waymo, Ford, Nuro, and Udelv. On the other hand, I can’t find any announcements that Walmart has invested in these other companies. (Ars Technica)


Florida burglary suspect held down by neighbors until cops arrive

A 26-year-old man in Winter Haven, Florida attempted robbery was foiled with the help of neighbors who kept the suspect restrained until police arrived. He entered a home, uninvited, and immediately attacked the homeowner. The pair struggled for a time, during which time the homeowners roommate ran next door for help. The homeowner was able to break free from the burglar and retrieve a gun, but when he returned, the man fled. A 911 call claimed that the man had tried to steal a mail truck as he attempted to flee the scene. Neighbors tackled the burglar and restrained him until police could arrive. Winter Haven police arrested the man and booked him into Polk County Jail on charges of burglary with battery and burglary of an occupied structure. (Fox 13)


Woman shows off pants almost as tall as she is in online shopping fail

A woman ordered a pair of sports pants from AliExpress. While the pants were meant to be stacked, meaning that they’re meant to be worn bunched up, what she received was apparently a bit bigger than she was expecting. She posted footage of the pants to her TikTok account, where she held them up against her body. In the video, the pants are almost as tall as she is, who says that she’s 5″7’ tall. Since posting the video, it has been viewed over one million times. While some commenters pointed out that pants are meant to be stacked, she posted a follow-up video where she showed that the pants were still way too long for her to wear, even when ruffled. In the video shared, the woman put the pants flat on the ground and laid down next to them. The legs on the pants stretch out longer than her entire body, much to the amusement of everyone involved. (Fox News)


China launches hotline to report ‘illegal’ comments about Communist party

China’s cyber regulator has launched a hotline to report online criticism of the ruling Communist party and its history, vowing to crack down on “historical nihilists” ahead of the party’s 100th anniversary in July. The tip line allows people to report fellow internet users who “distort” the party’s history, attack its leadership and policies, defame national heroes and “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture” online, said a notice posted by an arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The notice did not specify what punishments would be handed to those who are reported through the hotline, but netizens in China already face jail time and other legal punishments for posting content that is critical of the county’s leadership, policies and history. China’s internet is tightly censored and most foreign social media networks, search engines and news outlets are banned in the country. Internet authorities often increase censorship and online supervision ahead of major events including historical anniversaries, political meetings and sports events. (The Independent)


City known as Hangtown votes to remove noose from its logo

The city of Placerville, California, also known as Hangtown, is losing the noose on its logo. The logo, which the city manager believes is only about 40 years old, depicts a miner and a noose hanging from a tree in the background. It alludes to California’s Gold Rush and the rise in crime that came with it. After an impromptu citizens’ jury agreed to hang a man accused of a crime, the town became known as Hangtown. It took on the name Placerville in 1854. The City Council’s unanimous vote to remove the noose came after more than three hours of emotional comments from community members during a Zoom meeting. The city manager estimated the cost to make the changes would be around $3,500. The cost is expected to be absorbed in this year’s budget. (CNN)


Friday’s Payback Is Brought To You In Part By:

  • Bean Counter Day
  • Donate Life (Blue and Green) Day
  • Eggs Benedict Day
  • Emancipation Day (DC holiday that affects Tax Day)
  • Foursquare Day
  • Health Care Decisions Day
  • Stress Awareness Day (First Workday After Income Taxes Are Due)
  • Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day
  • Orchid Day
  • Save The Elephant Day
  • World Voice Day