Numlock News: December 11, 2019 • Craters, Olympics, Yahoo!
By Walt Hickey
Epic Games, the producer of Fortnite, asked a federal judge to stop a former Omaha-area news anchor from suing them over the use of a “Dancing Pumpkin Man” dance. The Halloween edition of the game featured an emote that allowed players to dance with a jack-o’-lantern on their head using choreography from a viral video where the man, Matthew Geiler, did the same. Fortnite has been burned by such suits before — like when Alfonso Ribeiro of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and rapper 2 Milly sued the company over the game lifting their moves — but this time they argue they did it the right way, having paid Geiler $10,000 to license the dance moves back in August.
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games kick off on July 24, and NBC is already looking at stellar ad sales as advertisers seek to find literally any single event or topic that is not instantaneously divisive. NBC Sports has reportedly crossed $1 billion in Olympics ad sales so far, and expects to book much more than the $1.2 billion racked up for the previous Summer Games in Rio. NBCUniversal will air 7,000 hours of Olympics coverage across its cable, broadcast and streaming networks, with an estimated 200 million viewers tuning in stateside. It’s aided by fortuitous scheduling, as Tokyo being 13 hours ahead of the East Coast means prime-time live broadcasts of morning competitions.
Today in “news stories airing idly in the background of disaster movies,” just off the coast of California scientists have located roughly 15,000 craters dotting the ocean floor off the coast of Big Sur, an as-yet unexplained phenomenon where micro-depressions 10 meters across and 1 meter deep pockmark the seabed. Incidentally these holes tend to accumulate garbage, which in turn attracts marine life, which in turn kick up sediment and make them larger. There are theories — gas venting from the sea floor, Cthulhus — but this would be the part of the movie where a researcher played by Jeff Goldblum picks up the phone and calls an ex who works for the governor, so I’ll let you get right to that.
From 2005 to 2017 over 90 percent of all new U.S. innovation-sector jobs (those in high research and development or high-tech occupations) were in one of five metros — Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and San Diego — which increased their collective share of the entire country’s overall jobs in the sector from 17.6 percent to 22.8 percent. The bottom 90 percent of metros, which is 343 of them, lost their share. Overall, half of those innovation-heavy jobs were in just 41 counties. As someone who works in media — where the most innovative idea of the past decade was “hey what if we started asking people for money again? We forgot to keep doing that, do you think that would work?” — it’s unsurprising New York is, shall we say, middle of the pack on this one.
Verizon has announced that Yahoo Groups will be wiped from the internet as of December 14, and archivists attempting to maintain a record of this rich vein of internet history have been frantically trying to preserve the two decades of content that will be annihilated imminently. It’s no longer just time working against them but Verizon itself, which has banned email addresses associated with the archive team that aims to get the records of the groups onto the non-profit Internet Archive, meaning that they’re looking at something like an 80 percent loss of data. As of October 16, the team had discovered 2,752,112 of 5,619,351 groups in the directory, 1,483,853 of which have public message archives. All told, just 1.8 billion of the 2.1 billion messages on those groups had been archived as of last year, and the anti-archival efforts of the new ownership may keep that at 86 percent. On one hand, sure, you probably can finagle an argument that the people scrambling to save a remnant of a dying website may have ventured outside the explicit bounds of the Verizon terms of service. But on the other hand that’s basically arguing Superman should have never made it off of Krypton because of Kryptonian aviation laws.
The annual report on what Americans were following in the news from Morning Consult has dropped, and the single largest story of the year based on the fraction of Americans who had heard, read or saw “a lot” about the story was Hurricane Dorian, the most intense cyclone to hit the Bahamas on record, which 69 percent of Americans followed closely. That was the most commonly-seen story of the year, followed by the declaration of a national emergency at the border (65 percent), the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas (58 percent) and the discovery of Jeffrey Epstein’s death (58 percent).
Over 752,000 applications for copies of U.S. birth certificates were found in a publicly-facing Amazon Web Services storage bucket that wasn’t protected with a password. The trove of documents was from a company that helps people obtain copies of such vital certificates. There were also 90,400 death certificate applications, but needless to say it’s fairly rare to see those parlayed as mechanisms of identity theft.
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