Numlock News: December 7, 2022 • Flamingos, Goldilocks, Curses
By Walt Hickey
New Yorkers: I’m hosting a show at Caveat in NYC on December 15th. It’s a week away and it’s a live play of the TTRPG game I designed for Insider’s “Red, White and Gray” project. It should be a ton of fun; buy tickets here, I would love to see you there!
CVS is being sued by a New York State resident seeking class-action status who alleges that the company failed to disclose that when it said it would donate $10 million to the American Diabetes Association, it actually meant that it would coerce customers into donating to the ADA and would merely make up the difference in the event of a shortfall. The complaint alleged that CVS asked customers if they wanted to add a donation on top of their transaction, donations that would actually be used to pay the obligation that CVS had made to ADA. The nonprofit isn’t named in the lawsuit and isn’t accused of wrongdoing.
A new analysis of 204 baseballs from 22 different MLB parks in 2022 by a Society for American Baseball Research award-winning astrophysicist alleges that the league may have backed off from using an arbitrarily juiced ball — which would increase hitting and homers — in the 2022 season, but further finds that there is a third type of ball used in major league baseball play. There’s the so-called “dead” ball, which the league claims were used exclusively in 2022, then several older “juiced” balls that were found among six of the 204 baseballs, and finally what the researcher calls the “Goldilocks” ball, which weighs between the dead and juiced balls, an average of 1.5 grams heavier than the dead ball, and so would likely travel further off a bat. This ball was found during marquee events like the playoffs, during All-Star week, the Home Run Derby, some commemorative games and several games at Yankee Stadium, where Yankee Aaron Judge set the home run record.
A new study sought to describe the linguistic similarities that curse words have across different languages. One commonality among much of the world’s profanity? They lack “approximants,” which is the word in linguistics for the consonant sounds L, R, W and Y. On balance, they tended to include sounds like P, T and K, examples of which are left as an exercise to the reader. Moreover, people tended to understand this innately: In one part of the study, they gathered 215 subjects who were native speakers of one of Arabic, Chinese, Finnish, French, German and Spanish, who listened to made-up pairs of words in other languages and had to decide which was offensive, and on balance they were more likely to guess words that lacked the approximants.
A federal lawsuit against Fox alleges that the broadcaster infringed on two patents protecting technology that optimizes a broadcast schedule for maximum ratings when it comes to the scheduling of NFL games. Every week Fox gets a certain slate of games, and it’s up to the broadcaster and the affiliates to figure out which games get broadcasted in which parts of the country and when. Recentive Analytics makes tech that specifically optimizes this question, figuring out how to distribute the load of games to maximize audience, and they allege that Fox ripped them off. On one hand, it’s a fascinating look behind the curtain at how the sausage gets made in the biggest draw in American television. On the other hand, I’m just thrilled we found the guys responsible for forcing so much of this country to watch either Green Bay or Dallas every week, the monsters.
A Tale of Two Metros
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Paris started construction on a 125-mile expansion of the rail system, the U.S. plans to repair the rail corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston. In Paris, it will add 68 new stations with four new lines, in America it will add zero new stations and expand zero new lines. In Paris, 80 percent of it will be in tunnels, in America it will make sure the system doesn’t rust and collapse at best. In Paris, it will open in 2025 and be done by 2030, while in America it will be done in maybe 2035. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, it will cost Paris $38 billion, while it will cost America $101.8 billion.
Black Adam appears set to finish its run at the box office south of $400 million. That’s a phenomenal number for literally any other movie, but because Black Adam cost $195 million to make and between $80 million and $100 million to promote, and given that theaters keep half the revenue, it needed to make $600 million worldwide to break even. As a result, it sure seems like the movie might actually end up losing money for the studio to the tune of $50 million to $100 million. Premium video on-demand sales could add $25 million to $35 million, but in all likelihood by the time it hits HBO Max it’s not out of the red.
Starting in the 1990s, flamingos started showing up in Mumbai, India, in Thane Creek, which separates the city from mainland India. Over the previous two decades, untreated sewage flowed into the habitat, causing a boom time for the algae that, you guessed it, flamingos cannot get enough of. Their numbers are doing rather well: In 2007, there were about 10,000 flamingos in Mumbai, and today there are an estimated 130,000. The city loves them; in 2018, it designated 1,700 hectares as a flamingo sanctuary.
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.