Numlock News: June 14, 2022 • Armadillos, Starquakes, Tampons
By Walt Hickey
A single London traffic camera system at Bank Junction, which is a five-way intersection in the heart of the City of London flanked by the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange, is one of the single most efficient moneymakers for the municipality. It alone hauled in £15.2 million ($18.9 million) in penalty charges for motorists caught rolling through the intersection between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., an offense that carries a £130 penalty, one halved if you pay within two weeks.
In September 2020, the government of Pakistan banned Tinder, Grindr, Tagged, Skout and SayHi, five colossal dating apps whose elimination fundamentally reshaped the romantic scene of an entire country. Tinder at that time had seen over 440,000 downloads in the previous 12 months in the country, so its elimination was a substantial loss for a country where 64 percent of the population is under 30. In its stead, desperate daters turned to an ancient means: Facebook groups, where matchmaking groups with thousands of members exploded over the course of the pandemic. One such group, Two Rings, has over 220,000 members and claims to have resulted in at least 335 couples, one of the only alternatives to the traditional arranged marriage process.
Canada and Denmark have settled a decades-old beef over the true ownership of Hans Island, an uninhabited rock that lies on the sea border of Greenland and Nunavut. The settlement will be unveiled Tuesday and cleanly bisects the 1.3-square-kilometer arctic rock. After Canada issued a permit to use the island to a Canadian petroleum company in 1983, Denmark in 1984 sent the Danish minister to Hans Island to plant a Danish flag, prompting a diplomatic protest. Subsequent flag plantings and protests happened in 1988, 1995, 2002, 2003 and 2004, but reportedly these were accompanied by the Danes leaving schnapps and the Canadians leaving Canadian Club whiskey for their counterparts.
The European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory has released data about nearly 2 billion stars in the Milky Way, the first salvo in the project’s attempt to make a complete map of the galaxy. So far the observatory has even been able to detect 100,000 starquakes, moments when stars blink and researchers are able to figure out their density, rotation and temperature. While the data thus far only encompasses 1 percent of the stars in the galaxy, it’s already fueling 1,600 scientific papers a year.
The country’s tampon supply is in question, with Tampax manufacturer Procter & Gamble — which has half the menstrual product market in the U.S. — confirming that it’s experiencing what it describes as a temporary shortage. This follows anecdotal observations that menstrual product supply is at the very least limited in some areas. While the government has attempted to shore up supplies of essential goods, in most places in the U.S. tampons aren’t treated as essential goods, with 26 states taxing menstrual products just like any other good.
Starting in around spring 2025, the International Maritime Organization plans to drop the maximum allowed sulfur content in marine bunker fuel down to 0.1 percent in the Mediterranean Sea. Worldwide, the IMO reduced the maximum allowable sulfur content down from a cap of 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent in 2020, pushing the major shipping operators to either install a scrubber or upgrade their fuel. And while the 0.1 percent cap will only apply in the Mediterranean, it would have significant public health advantages in port areas and for marine life when implemented, and ease the 30,000 vessels that operate per year within the Mediterranean to a higher standard.
Armadillos, the hardy desert beasts, are advancing ever northward year by year, with some being spotted as high up as Virginia. They’re inveterate survivors, sleeping in burrows for 16 hours a day, leaving only for food and water and sex, and pretty much designed in a laboratory to succeed wherever the lonely road takes them. Females birth a litter of quadruplets in the spring, who reach sexual maturity within nine to 12 months, at which point they move a little north and open up a new franchise. And while advancing species often clash with the locals, armadillos’ ecosystem engineering has in some cases opened up new habitats for existing creatures: One May study found 19 mammal and 40 bird species living in 35 armadillo burrows in Arkansas.
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.