Numlock News: March 10, 2022 • Manatees, Vinyl, Endurance
By Walt Hickey
In your life, there is a person — maybe several people — who have nursed a secret devotion to early polar explorers. Sometimes it’s obvious: The Terror starred on Hulu, a beat up old paperback of Mawson’s Will on the shelf is a dead giveaway, as is a fandom of both The Thing and Master and Commander, Krakauer fans are almost always this type. Often male, usually an affectation developed in the mid-thirties to late-forties, a genuinely encyclopedic knowledge of medical problems that happen at cold temperatures, bookish but usually with an outdoorsy bent? Anyone who has ever procured a factoid about, say, Vitamin A dosage or cannibalism, or symptoms of scurvy, but like played it down, but you knew they had some more in the tank? Anyway, that person? Yesterday was one of the best days of their life, because a team of researchers on a $10 million arctic expedition using battery-powered submersibles over 150 square miles combing the seafloor have successfully found the Endurance, which was crushed in pack ice and sank 106 years ago as part of an expedition led by Ernest Shackleton. The 144-foot ship is immaculately preserved 10,000 feet down in the iciest waters on Earth, a mere four miles South of the last location logged by the navigator.
A mere 30 days ahead of the game’s launch, Nintendo has taken the bold step of pulling Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp from the schedule. Originally set for release in December 2021 but then pushed back to April 8, 2022, Nintendo went ahead and cancelled preorders for the game and said it would be released at some indefinite point in the future, citing recent events. I don’t get what the issue here is, Advanced Wars is just a turn-based strategy game where the objective is to roll tanks into a neighboring country in a shocking and unjustified war of aggression and use force of arms and wanton destruction to destroy critical infrastructure while avoiding anti-tank fire and, oh, dang, got it, I’m seeing the problem here, that’s on me, yeah this game needs to be mothballed, world’s not ready for this one.
With their natural food being killed off by pollution, Florida’s population of manatees has been in the grips of a disastrous mortality event, with a shocking 375 deaths since the start of this year. In order to save the species — which numbers around 7,500 individuals — 55 tons of lettuce have been fed to the starving manatees, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee saying it’s been a temporary success. Pollution from agriculture and urban runoff is killing the seagrass that the manatees need to stay alive.
Recorded music revenue hit $15 billion in 2021, according to the RIAA, the highest nominal figure on record. That’s up 23 percent over the $12.1 billion logged in 2020, fueled by streaming revenues which accounted for 83 percent of all recorded music revenues. While digital sales were down — digital albums were down 12 percent and digital tracks down 16 percent — physical sales were thriving, up 42.3 percent to $1.66 billion. Vinyl sales were just over $1 billion, up 61 percent year over year, and accounting for fully 7 percent of all recorded music revenues, and 63 percent of the revenue in the physical media. It’s weird that 90 percent of music now is either “digital files in the cloud that you rent access to” or “a literal piece of plastic you own with physically embedded waves that can be coaxed into sound thanks to Thomas Edison” and nothing else in between.
Apples, Barrels, Spoilage
A new analysis looked at 40,000 payments the 25 largest police and sheriff’s departments paid out to resolve lawsuits and settle alleged wrongdoing on the part of officers. All told in the past decade those governments have shelled out $3.2 billion to settle misconduct allegations made by people against officers. There were 7,600 officers in the set who have more than once been the cause of a payout, and there are over 1,200 officers who have been the subject of at least five misconduct payouts. All told, the officers whose conduct led to more than one misconduct payment were responsible for $1.5 billion of the money, or half. Those are some expensive bad apples: overall, the 25 departments employed 103,000 officers in 2020.
Fall Out Boy
Iodine and potassium iodide pills protect the thyroid from radioactive chemicals, which used to be a fun historical fact but recently got pretty top of mind for a continent. That’s prompted heightened demand for the pills: a bottle of 180 potassium iodine pills costs $70 on Amazon compared to $30 at the beginning of the year, and another bottle from NOW Foods jumped from $20 in late 2021 to $29.98. Finland saw a 100-fold increase in demand. In the United States, searches for “does iodine help in nuclear war” are up 1,150 percent. The answer isn’t “no,” but if you’re at the point where that particular question has become relevant it’s not exactly “yes” either.
A trove of data from a ransomware gang was hacked and revealed in late February showing a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of the Conti organization, which has used email attachments, stolen data, and calls to steal $200 million from victims in 2021. The files are both gossipy — chat logs, internal comms, talk about colleagues — while also pretty revelatory, showing the internal operations of a digital organized crime outfit including malware tools and a look into their negotiation tactics. The organization is a semi-autonomous collection of several gangs, which also at times are politically motivated.
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