Numlock News: April 1, 2022 • Emoji, Embezzling, Amnesty
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! Reminder that today the internet is full of pranks and lies, so do be careful out there.
A former employee of the Yale School of Medicine has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and tax evasion. The administrator was arrested last September on charges that starting in 2013 she began illegally withdrawing funds from the school as she was authorized to spend amounts up to $10,000 a pop for the needs of the department. That added up to a loss of $40,504,200 in losses to Yale and $6,416,618 in taxes evaded. Anyway, next time you make a student loan payment and wonder if there isn’t an issue with how university administrators allocate money, take comfort in the fact that Yale only suspected something was amiss in 2021, meaning that they were bled for 40 million dollars over eight years — a rate of over $10,000 per day — and didn’t notice.
Flag on the Play
There are 258 flags in the global set of emojis, and the Unicode Consortium has now said it’s no longer taking suggestions for new flags. The move came amid a proposal for the flag of Catalonia, which would open up the possibility that other national subdivisions and states would get their own emoji, and it’s all getting to be a bit much. Mainly, the issue is that only about 10 flags are used with any kind of frequency, making it into the top 500 emojis used. The most commonly used flag is the red triangular flag, which represents the nation of “problematic boyfriends,” and was the 212th most common emoji used in 2021. It’s followed by the U.S. flag (384th place), then the rainbow flag (377th place), and then the Brazilian flag (406th place), and fifth is the U.S. Outlying Islands flag in 413th place, which one has to think is mostly people just mistakenly selecting a U.S.-esque flag.
A new analysis of the past 10 years of the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart found that women are underrepresented among the artists, composing 23.3 percent of the artists in 2021’s list. That’s pretty much on par with the 21.8 percent of women artists behind the 1,000 songs that made the year-end top 100 over the past 10 years. The gender disparity is particularly pronounced among the song producers: Looking at a sample of 700 songs, men outnumber women as producers of songs in a 35-1 ratio, and over the past decade just 12.7 percent of songwriters were women.
The U.S. government will release 180 million barrels of its strategic petroleum reserve over the next six months, the largest withdrawal in history amid a spike in gasoline prices linked to Russian aggression in Ukraine. As of March 22, the reserves held 568 million barrels of oil, stored in several large underground salt caverns in the states of the Gulf Coast. Interestingly, Uncle Sam is poised to make a neat little profit off this maneuver: The facilities cost $5 billion to build, and the average price paid per barrel was $29, a figure that right about now is roughly $100 give or take. Once a president authorizes the use of the reserves, it take 13 days to start pumping the oil out, and they can move 4.4 million barrels a day. Last year the U.S. imported about 8.5 million barrels a day, and used about 20 million barrels a day. In December of 2021, Russia exported 12.5 million barrels to the U.S.
A new survey of over 12,000 employees found that remote and hybrid work arrangements were having an impact on the self-reported engagement and burnout rates of workers. Among workers who are now never remote, 35 percent said they feel burned out at work always or often. Among those with a hybrid arrangement where they were going into work but also working from home, 30 percent reported that level of burnout, and among those fully remote only 27 percent were burned out. Right now, among workers who are “remote capable,” eight out of 10 are hybrid or fully remote. Among those remote capable workers, nine in 10 want to be hybrid or fully remote.
Last October the New York Public Library announced that they would eliminate late fines in an attempt to get long-lost books back on the shelves and hesitant library-goers back in the building. It’s been a success: In the Manhattan, Staten Island and Bronx branches, 21,000 overdue items have been returned, in the Queens branch 16,000 items have been returned and in Brooklyn some 51,000 items have been returned. The overdue fines — once a cent per day, then increased to 2 cents in 1954, 5 cents in 1959, and then 25 cents a day most recently — had definitely encouraged some to return books on time, but also clearly made thousands of others hold on to books for too long out of fear of the fines that their repatriation might trigger.
The Doomed Triangle
Mark your calendars, because tomorrow is the apocalypse. Tomorrow evening, Duke and the University of North Carolina will face off in the Final Four of the Men’s March Madness tournament, a dreaded and nearly unthinkable high-stakes matchup between two schools locked into one of the most vicious rivalries in college athletics. Going into the tournament this event had just a 0.03 percent chance of occurring based on the KenPom pre-tournament probabilities, but nevertheless, Basketball Ragnarok is now upon us. Making it somehow worse is that this is the final year for Duke’s iconic Coach Krzyzewski’s career, and in his final regular season home game UNC upset Duke to put a sting to his hometown finale. And while the schools have made 23 of the previous 36 Final Fours without once encountering one another, this fated year is different. Needless to say, things are tense in the Raleigh-Durham metro.
Last week in the Sunday edition, I talked to Jason Eppink and Mike Lacher, two of the minds behind groundbreaking Oscar analysis Chalamet Coughs, Dune Wins: Predicting Best Picture Winners Using Coughs and Sneezes. I love their work; this project is an outgrowth of their Every Movie Cough database, and you might recognize their work elsewhere, like Eppink’s MOMI exhibit The Reaction GIF: Moving Image as Gesture and projects like Mask-O-Vision, or Lacher’s viral How Bad Is Your Spotify bot at The Pudding and Ballad Of A Wifi Hero at McSweeney’s. You can read the interview here.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.
2022 Sunday subscriber editions: Coughgeist · Black Panther · Car Dealerships · Black-Footed Ferret · Oil to Clothing · Just Like Us · How To Read This Chart · Pharma waste · Arcade Games · Blood in the Garden · Trading Cards · College Football