Numlock News: June 16, 2022 • Time Bomb, BTS, Autopilot
By Walt Hickey
A month ago, automaker Renault agreed to transfer their €2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) Russian business to entities controlled by the Russian government for a token sum. AutoVaz, which produces the Lada brand of vehicles, was taken over by the state, and according to Renault things aren’t going super. Russia will produce vehicles without airbags and anti-lock braking systems as they try to get the operations up and running again, as parts shortages force Russian automakers to forgo significant safety systems to get production in motion.
Those bemoaning the death of the so-called Millennial lifestyle subsidy, where venture-backed businesses cut prices on rideshares and sharing economy to appeal to new customers, have no fear, as the free money isn’t over just yet. A Raleigh company is seeking to analyze the efficacy of a suite of home treatments and will pay $2,000 apiece to participants who allow them to release 100 American cockroaches into their home. They’re looking for five to seven households — they got over 2,500 applicants in a week — who will allow them to test pest control treatments and film the process over 30 days. As a New Yorker this is shocking, because in the Lower East Side usually you have to pay someone $2,000 a month to get an apartment with only 100 cockroaches.
Ticking Time Bomb
The SFO Safer is a supertanker off the coast of Hodeida, Yemen, a 45-year-old ship that’s rotting to bits and full of 1.1 million barrels of crude oil. It’s considered a ticking time bomb, both environmentally as well as from a humanitarian point of view, as it’s unstable and corroded and at risk of leaking the oil into the sea and possibly even exploding. The area is volatile — just two months ago, a ceasefire was brokered between the Houthi rebels and the Yemen government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia — but it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. Finally something is being done about it, kind of. The United Nations is springing into action by… organizing a crowdfunding thing. They say it’s going to cost $80 million to begin to offload the oil, and then $64 million for phase two, and the U.N. has scraped together like $44 million and got another $10 million each from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. They’re still short, and given that lemonade and bake sales are right out, the global body is trying to raise $5 million on the internet, like they’re some board game or webcomic or NPR, not an international governmental organization defusing a bomb four times larger than Exxon Valdez.
Yesterday the members of BTS indicated plans to explore solo work, an announcement essentially that members were taking some time off though the label waved off descriptions of a “hiatus.” This announcement had a fairly explosive impact on the stock of HYBE, which is the company that owns BTS: Within the first hour of trading, shares that closed at ₩193,000 on Tuesday opened to ₩168,000 and fell to ₩140,000, wiping out $1.7 billion of their market capitalization, and then bouncing back slightly to ₩145,500. All told, in 2021 BTS was responsible for 27 percent of HYBE’s U.S. album sales and streams, and was responsible for pretty much all of their 2019 and 2021 touring income.
A new study by Twitter released the results of the sitewide experiment where users about to tweet something heinous or aggressive were prompted with a brief question asking if they’d like to reconsider that message before sending. Turns out the nudge really works: Of those nudged, while 69 percent did just send it, 9 percent actually canceled the tweet, and 22 percent revised it. Of those 22 percent who tweaked the tweet, 8 percent made it less offensive, 13 percent kept it pretty much as offensive as it initially was but with slightly different wording, and 1 percent actually went ahead and made it more offensive. Still, that’s really rather good, with a quick little “are you sure?” causing sufficient introspection to divert 17 percent of combative tweets into something a little bit more palatable. Furthermore, the study found that once exposed to the prompt, users were 4 percent less likely to make a second offensive reply.
Since 1927, the two highest-rated teams in the NHL according to Elo ratings have been the pair of contenders for the Stanley Cup just 29.5 percent of the time, and since 1967 it’s only happened 14 times out of 54 seasons. This year is one of them, with the Colorado Avalanche facing against the Tampa Bay Lightning, teams that have gone a combined 24-7 in the playoffs and who on paper appear to be the best two teams to face off in the final since 1989.
New data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed 392 crashes in the United States that happened when vehicles were using advanced driver-assistance systems since July 2021. The first time NHTSA released data of this nature, it was related to 42 crashes in a limited data set going back to 2016. Of the 392 crashes that occurred under advanced driver assistance, 273 of them were Tesla vehicles running its Autopilot software, good for approximately 70 percent of the crashes. The company has argued that Autopilot is safer than normal driving when looking at crash data overall, pointing for instance to the 42,915 traffic crash deaths estimated by NHTSA in 2021. Honda reported 90 crashes during the period, and Subaru reported 10 crashes.
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.