Numlock News: January 11, 2023 • Vigilantes, Megalopolis, Bowling
By Walt Hickey
The single most interesting movie currently in production right now is Megalopolis, a sci-fi movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The reason this is so wild is because Coppola is bankrolling the $120 million shoot himself with the proceeds of his wine empire, and it’s currently about halfway into the 80- to 90-day shoot. Coppola is no stranger to complicated productions — the filming of The Godfather was fraught, the filming of Apocalypse Now was a legendary fiasco — and Megalopolis is no different, as a new report has key visual effects and production design teams exiting the project mid-shoot.
Best Buy owns a brand called Lively that sells cellphones and medical alert devices to a generally older demographic. In 2018 Best Buy bought the company for $800 million, with 900,000 paid subscribers. To provide the cell service, they like many other mobile virtual network operators buy wholesale access to a larger wireless network like AT&T, T-Mobile or in this specific case Verizon. The reason we know it’s Verizon is because the company pulled the plug on its 3G coverage on January 2, but unfortunately Lively customers that unknowingly relied on Verizon’s 3G never got the memo, and as a result customers with a Jitterbug Flip phone don’t have a cellphone plan anymore. A possible update coming from the company on Thursday, but for people with the medical alert devices this is pretty much a worst-case scenario.
The bowling world has been struck with controversy, with a new kind of bowling pin emerging that has some of the world incensed about how it changes the game. Basically, the classic “metal arm sweeps pins back, which are then loaded by machine into an array that is then lowered” pin reloader is a complicated and expensive bit of mechanical engineering that breaks all the time, and it’s way cheaper just to put long strings on the top of pins and then reel them back in to reset them. While the continued operation of alleys is a good thing for the sport, bowlers are split: According to the U.S. Bowling Congress, string pins have 7 percent fewer strikes and more spares compared to free-falling pins.
Spending the first month of the year reducing or eliminating alcohol use is reliably popular among adults 18 and up, with a national survey finding 15 percent reported they were participating in Dry January this year. That number was higher among millennials, 19 percent of whom were said to be participating. On balance, though, that is down compared to 2022, when 19 percent of adults 21 and up and 27 percent of millennials were drying out in January.
A new report from the European Patent Office and the International Energy Agency tried to size up the current race to develop hydrogen energy technology, including storage, production and distribution tech. It’s a key part of the European and Japanese strategies to minimize carbon usage, and from 2011 to 2020 it’s no surprise that those two areas were responsible for a majority of the patents in hydrogen worldwide, with the EU accounting for 28 percent of hydrogen patents (mostly Germany, France and the Netherlands specifically) and Japan accounting for 24 percent. The U.S. follows with 20 percent of patents, while South Korea and China are on the rise.
American roads were less safe from May to December of 2020 compared to expectations, and a new analysis from AAA reveals the unique reasons why. Traffic deaths were 6.3 percent lower than anticipated during the typical morning rush, but from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. deaths were up 22 percent compared to expected. The key takeaway is that fatal crashes were often because people took way more risks on the road during the pandemic; besides night driving, there were 84.3 percent more drivers with expired licenses involved in fatal crashes, hit-and-runs were up 31.2 percent compared to forecast, and motorists with blood alcohol levels above the legal limits were up 21.8 percent compared to expected.
A genre of YouTube video called “scambaiting” takes incoming scam calls and attempts to turn the tables by wasting the scammers’ time or attempting to force the scammer to divulge personal information. The resulting video is interesting content, but the incentives of social media have led to escalations, though, some that bleed into vigilantism. One channel, Trilogy Media, went as far as to go to Kolkata, India, and have surveillance equipment installed in telemarketing businesses they believed were facilitating scams, and then releasing cockroaches, mice and glitter on the premises. On one hand, nobody really likes scammers, but on the other hand this vigilantism can be pretty lucrative in its own right. Their YouTube channel added 140,000 subscribers for their trouble, the videos from the trip got 60 million views, and the network is trying to sell a scambaiting show to networks. Meanwhile, attorneys for those featured in the videos said they were just working to generate leads, that any scamming was happening well above their pay grade, and that many are working to get their family out of debts, nuance that tends to get lost amid the glitter and roaches.
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