Numlock News: April 15, 2022 • Doodles, Sarcophagus, Club Penguin
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! Be sure to check out The Numlock Podcast edition of last week’s Sunday newsletter; it’s an awesome interview with Ali Griswold, who writes one of my favorite newsletters, Oversharing. The podcast is free for all and can be found at Spotify and Apple Podcasts and anywhere else. Thanks as well to everyone who left a rating, I do appreciate it.
Following a cataclysmic fire that tore through the Notre-Dame cathedral, workers attempting to rebuild the spire of the church found a well-preserved leaden sarcophagus buried 20 meters underground, thought to be from the 14th century but surrounded by brick pipes installed in a heating system in the 19th century. Archaeologists have done their thing and looked inside with a camera and found — huge shock — a skeleton and some fabric with some objects, sort of standard-issue mysterious sarcophagus accoutrement. On Tuesday France’s national archaeological research institute announced, screw it, we’re taking the sarcophagus and will open it soon. In classic European fashion, they first want to determine the social class of the deceased.
In Club Penguin, the penguins are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the Intellectual Property Crime Unit, who investigates bootleg installations of Club Penguin operating out of London, and the Walt Disney Company which wields its intellectual property might to squash rogue installations of Club Penguin. These are their stories. Yes, the online game Club Penguin, which at one point had 200 million users playing penguins who could interact with each other online, yet ended in 2017 citing “lack of interest,” has been replaced by a number of bootleg versions of Club Penguin for the diehards. One of these was Club Penguin Rewritten, a fan-driven remake that was probably in violation of a number of laws that boasted 140,000 members on its Discord server. This week, the site shut down instantly, and the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit arrested three people in connection to distributing the copyrighted penguin material.
In late September of last year, the Goose Group forum — a thriving Chinese celebrity gossip site with 700,000 registered members — ground to a swift halt after the government cracked down on online fan groups. Last week, Goose Group was joined by another batch of entertainment gossip sites as well. Readers had to submit applications, and if admitted had to consistently demonstrate their worthiness; access to Goose Group through secondhand, resold usernames increased from $9 to buy an account in 2016 to $90 in 2018, a status symbol. Over the past year, the government has sought to rein in cultural space, from talent shows to gossip blogs, and the fate of Goose Group is yet unknown.
Doodle dogs, which are breeds that are at least party poodle and part another breed, are massively popular. If you were to tally up all the Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Aussiedoodles, Cockapoos, Cavapoos, Schnoodles, Whoodles, Shih-poos and more into a single “doodle” group, that would be the fourth-most popular breed of dog insured in the country, according to Nationwide Mutual Insurance, one of the bigger of the pet health insurers. The doodles are behind only the Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and French bulldogs, having supplanted German shepherds among their canine hegemony.
The world of competitive Irish dance is roiling right now over a video review reversal of a score at the World Championship in Belfast, which led to a competitor getting stripped of her third-place trophy two days after the competition. It’s never happened before: Not only is video evidence new to the world of Oireachtas Rince Na Cruinne, but the post-competition consultation of video evidence to overturn an awarded trophy over a late start is also completely unprecedented. The competitor, who attempted Youghal Harbor at a slowest-possible speed of 76, fell from third to 25th place despite two of five judges marking her as first place.
She Who Must Not Be Named
In just four years, author J.K. Rowling’s reputation among young people has absolutely collapsed. In 2018, her net favorability among millennials was 64 percent, and her net favorability among Gen Z was 50 percent. Since creating one of the most sensational children book franchises in the history of fiction, Rowling was pretty much set for immortality and riches as a beloved, generation-defining author. Anyway, then she found Twitter, and starting making some of her opinions about LGBT people known, and by 2022 her net favorability among millennials had crashed 31 points to 33 percent, and had fallen a calamitous 36 points among Gen Z, among whom she now enjoys a mere 14 point net favorability rating. With the new Fantastic Beasts movies out shortly, how Rowling fares on her reputation-burning speedrun remains to be seen.
Monday taxes are due in the U.S., and lots and lots of people file their taxes right at the finish line. So far, 91 million returns have been filed as of the end of March, which is 12.2 million fewer than the amount filed the same time last year. Roughly 12 percent of tax payers are Ned Flanders, who submit their tax return the very week the IRS begins accepting them. Then comes the bulk of the returns, sent over a several-week period in February and March. Now we have the last-minute filers, the 29 percent of individual tax returns received within three weeks of the due date, some 43 million returns. Then, of course, there’s the additional 11 percent who file late with an extension.
This week I spoke to Alison Griswold, who just restarted one of my favorite newsletters, Oversharing, which is all about companies in the sharing economy. It’s a podcast version, which you can listen to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or you can read the unlocked interview here. Griswold is coming back to the newsletter with a renewed interest in the ways that tech companies are interacting, improving and undermining different cities. We spoke all about what’s changed, and how the sharing economy has an effect on the world.
Griswold can be found at Oversharing.
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