Numlock News: March 23, 2023 • Gladiators, Oreos, Dolphins
By Walt Hickey
A Massachusetts man was sentenced to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to running a sophisticated romance fraud scheme from 2016 to 2020. Targeting mostly older people, the man created fake dating profiles and then gained the trust of targets before coming up with wild reasons to require money on short notice, bilking over $8 million out of targets of which $4 million went directly to him. One story was that he needed funds to get out of government custody after his oil rig exploded, which actually worked. At the very least, his time as a guest of the government will certainly add some verisimilitude to his tales should he hit the dating scene upon release.
Entrance of the Gladiators
Do you like the combat and physiques of superhero movies but can’t bring yourself to care about multiverses? Well, good news, as there are now no fewer than three studio gladiator projects in production — a Gladiator sequel, Those About to Die on Peacock and a Spartacus revival at Starz — a rebirth of a genre that once dominated the big screen. From 1961 to 1964 there were almost 40 gladiator films released in the wake of the success of Spartacus and Ben-Hur, at which point the genre went into hibernation until the Academy Award-winning Ridley Scott film in 2000, which itself revived the sword and sandal flick genre to rapidly diminishing returns. Best of luck to all competitors, but only one will come on top: One is definitely going to be the Deep Impact while the other gets to be the Armageddon of this trend.
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A team of scientists put over 1,000 Oreos to the test in an attempt to twist it in a manner where there’s still some of the cream filling left on both wafers. This is a desirable, if difficult maneuver to pull off, so they put them into a rheometer that had two rotating plates to figure out how the inside cream of an Oreo behaves under various speeds of torsion. The analysis found that the filling sticks to only one of the wafers about 80 percent of the time, the classic Oreo situation in which you have a very delicious half and then an other half. The speed of the twist didn’t matter at all; the slowest twist took five minutes to separate them and it still stayed on one side, while the fastest twisting speed — 100 times as fast as a human twist — rips the entire cream off both sides, which doesn’t help at all.
Most of the 363 NCAA Division I schools fall under freedom of information laws, and one company — Winthrop Intelligence — used this to build a comprehensive database of higher ed athletics, with compensation and contractural data that is built on some 150,000 documents. They essentially sell the schools’ own data back to them, albeit in an organized and searchable format, and about 80 percent of NCAA D-I schools pay for the service, which runs $14,000 a year. The company appears to make money hand over fist, but a morass of legal actions surrounding the owners has prompted allegations that they’re hiding or obscuring that money, which has led to contempt citations and bankruptcies amid a mess of shell companies.
As Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins get older, they get age spots, and that speckling has upon study turned out to be very predictable and a reliable way to estimate the age of the mammals in a non-invasive manner. The speckles first appear around age 6.5 and by age 17 they reach the jaw, and the latest method of reckoning the density of those spots on the dolphin body will accurately predict the age of a dolphin between the ages of 7 and 25 with a margin of error of just 2.58 years, which is better than the estimate you’d get from DNA samples. In the wild, dolphins live for between 30 and 50 years, so this is a pretty significant chunk of their lives that can now be scientifically tracked.
In 2023 and 2024, spending on offshore oil investments is projected to be above $100 billion, the first time that investment has passed that figure since 2012 and 2013. All told, offshore is likely to be the hotspot when it comes to drilling, with 68 percent of newly sanctioned projects happening in the oceans compared to 40 percent of projects from 2015 to 2018. It’s mostly from nationally owned oil companies in the Middle East, like the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. planning to spend $55 billion this year on capital investments, and Norway, which is just a cold version of that, spending $21.4 billion in the North Sea.
John Wick 4
The film John Wick 4 comes out this weekend, continuing the story of a proficient independent contractor in a cutthroat industry who was forced out of retirement, an all-too-common tale in this economy. The Keanu Reeves movie is projected to bring in $65 million to $70 million in North America, and worldwide is expected to come in somewhere between $100 million and $115 million. The franchise has just kept trucking, with the first film debuting to $14 million, the second to $30.4 million, and the third to $56.8 million, and the reviews for number four are a franchise best.
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