Numlock News: December 2, 2021 • Dinosaurs, Tortas, Passports
By Walt Hickey
FIFA, a global money vacuum that occasionally organizes soccer games, has proposed to increase the frequency of the World Cup from once every four years to once every two. They’ve faced resistance in many parts of the world, specifically in places that actually enjoy soccer and have a popular, well-developed domestic or continental league. For instance, 61 percent of Germans — the home of the Bundesliga — oppose increasing the World Cup’s frequency, compared to just 28 percent who support, a skew observed in the Premier League’s United Kingdom (48 percent oppose, 37 percent support) and Ligue 1’s France (49 percent oppose and 36 percent support) and Serie A’s Italy (43 percent support and 42 percent oppose). Now typically the development of a policy that manages to unite Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom would ordinarily be grounds for a Nobel Prize, but the FIFA proposal has some support in some extremely likely corners. Those corners happen to include the United States, where 61 percent of respondents backed the expansion and just 22 percent oppose, because this is a country operating on the dual principles of “yes, we would absolutely prefer more televised sports” and “no, we are not interested in learning about the nuances of European politics.” If it passes, it will likely halve the amount of time that the U.S. Men’s National Team spends between futile and ineffective rebuilds.
Clean the Closet
All signs point to a national wardrobe revival, with Americans assessing the states of their closets and finding them tired. A November survey of 4,200 people found that three-quarters of respondents had a closet full of things they will never wear again, and a paltry 15 percent said they liked their wardrobe as is. An online thrift store called thredUP reported that the number of requests for clean-out kits — bags in which to load unwanted garments — was up 67 percent from July to September compared to the same period of 2020. And secondhand retailers are reporting an onslaught of supply, with Current Boutique in D.C. saying it’s got 22,000 articles of clothing in September and October, the most ever received over a two-month period and higher than the 15,000 from the same months of 2020 and 19,000 of 2019. Perhaps it’s the pandemic, or perhaps the clothes instinctively sense it’s approaching 10 years since Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” came out and all of the tags popped in 2012 must now return home to spawn.
A new species of dinosaur has been described in the journal Nature. The creature — named stegouros, not a typo — is a dog-sized creature related to the armored ankylosaur, which lived 72 million to 75 million years ago and has a bird-like snout. Its most distinctive feature is the flat, slashing, almost broadsword-like tail, which paleontologists say, “It just looks crazy” (that is a literal quote from a paleontologist). I think we all see what’s going on here: paleontology is going through the same phase that Pokémon did in approximately generation four, which, having exhausted the obvious — a seal named Seel, a snake named backward snake, a mime named Mr. Mime — just kind of went hog wild with design and was like “a long-dead sword?” or “I don’t know, a dinosaur that has a tool of medieval combat?” and slightly lost the plot. At press time, it was unclear if this stegouros was a shiny.
In 2018 the government of Mexico estimated that 1.6 million people were employed by street food establishments and that those tiny little individually-run kitchens encompassed about half of the businesses in Mexico. While they’re often well-established — they take digital payments and they’re represented on major delivery platforms — they’re virtually absent from Google Maps. Baruch Sanginés, a data analyst, has embarked on a project to get those stands and independent carts onto the platform, cementing a presence for them and helping with business. Those trucks and carts and companies see a surge in foot traffic after getting onto Google Maps.
A new study published in Science analyzed city slicker trees and compared them to their country cousins. Looking at satellite data from 85 U.S. cities from 2001 to 2014, it turns out that the urban trees turn green earlier in the spring compared to rural trees, an effect believed to result from the hotter temperatures in cities compared to unpopulated areas in the same climate, and also the additional lights that dot the urban landscape. The study found that the urban trees grew leaves and turned green an average of six days earlier than rural trees. That could be an issue for the trees in the big city: bud too early and you’re susceptible to frost, and bloom too early and the insects that evolved to pollinate you maybe don’t show up in time to do the job.
Through September 30 of this year, 110,000 Indian nationals surrendered their passports, the most in five years. Since 2006 the number of Overseas Citizens of India cards issued by the foreign ministry of India has risen considerably, with an estimated six million OCI holders around the world. India doesn’t offer dual citizenship despite having such a large group of expatriates, and recent policies from the government wanted to reduce the number of citizens who feel the need to leave the country to earn a desired living. That said, that hasn’t been successful: from 2017 to 2021, over 600,000 Indians have renounced citizenship. Besides the lack of a dual option, the reluctance to hold on to citizenship may also be fueled in part by the comparative weakness of India’s passport, with an Indian passport holder able to access 58 countries without a prior visa, the 90th best in the world.
Degrees for professionals — dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians — are among the most financially draining, and leave the students with outsized debts compared to the rest of American higher ed, which is truly saying something. About 76 percent of professional programs leave students with higher debt loads than they earn two years later, a figure that’s 22 percent when looking at master’s programs and 11 percent among bachelor’s programs. NYU educated about 10 percent of the dentists in America, and tells current students to anticipate spending $572,000 for the four-year program. From students who graduated from there in 2015 and 2016, the median debt was $349,000 and the median income two years after graduation was only $82,000.
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