Numlock News: March 8, 2022 • Genies, Demons, Weight Watchers
By Walt Hickey
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WW, the company previously known as Weight Watchers, has been slapped with a $1.5 million penalty from the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice over their data collection practices on a weight loss app they operate for children. According to the complaint, the app Kurbo failed to verify parental consent and didn’t properly notify parents about the data collected by the app, both of which violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaint further orders the company destroys the relevant data of the at least 18,600 children under the age of 13 who used the app, which is marketed to kids as young as eight.
In 2020 the EPA fined SWIX, which makes high-performance wax for skis, $375,000 after the company imported products containing PFAS chemicals that violate the Toxic Substances Control Act. PFAS chemicals, popularly derided as “forever chemicals,” have been sold as ski wax for decades, but racing organizations have been banning their use left and right since the crackdown, beginning in this 2021–22 season. The International Ski Federation, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and the Canadian Ski Association have all banned some fluorinated waxes, and as part of that EPA settlement SWIX agreed to a $1 million public education campaign about the dangers of PFAS-containing waxes.
The Guinness Book of World Records has certified a new round of records for pop phenomenon BTS, with the group notching 60,151,959 followers on Instagram as of February 2022, smashing a record of 40,220,226 that they were certified as having in April of 2021. Further, member V secured the record for fastest time to reach 1 million followers on Instagram, which took him exactly 43 minutes. He then also scored the fastest time to 10 million followers, which took him only 4 hours, 52 minutes.
Sand tiger sharks have learned a weird new trick, according to a new study published in Aquatic Biology. What happens is that schools of scad, a fish about the side of a human hand, will attempt to evade one of their predators, an almaco jack, by schooling around a sand tiger shark. This has the effect of camouflaging the tiger shark in the shimmering swarm, which gives the shark an edge when it lunges to try to kill the other predator. The trick play isn’t common, but it’s not a fluke: The study found five examples of this exact kind of camouflage attack across 340 hours of video logged off the coast of North Carolina.
According to mythology, the Sessho-seki in Japan, or the killing stone, contains the transformed corpse of an evil nine-tailed fox who imitated a beautiful woman in an attempt to kill an emperor in the 12th century. The infamous volcanic rock — registered as a historical site in 1957 — is reported to be cursed, said to kill anyone who touches it, emitting toxic gas, and all the other unfortunate side effects of containing an embedded demon. Anyway, in new news, the rock broke in half sometime over the past couple of days. While many attempted to quell the anxiety by rightfully pointing out that cracks had appeared in the rock several years ago and it was only a matter of time before the inexorable expansion of freezing rainwater split the stone, we here at Numlock News have a longstanding policy of covering our bases, and would like to be the first to welcome Tamamo-no-Mae and all nine of her tails back to our realm, congratulate her on her daring escape from imprisonment, inform her of recent political changes regarding imperial sovereignty that she may find intriguing, offer any aide she may require and just add long may she reign.
Disney replaced the FastPass line hopping system in its parks with a new pay-to-play service called Genie+, which just straight up allows guests to pay money to avoid the lines. Previous systems at least were a little more egalitarian, allowing either a certain amount of line skips per ticketholder, or using an virtual queue, but nope, Genie+ just allows people to buy their way to the front of the line, and it’s causing costs at the parks to increase: A family of four could pay $60 to $240 per day on top of admission to cut a few lines. The cost is an additional $7 to $20 per person per ride. The price is $15 per guest at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, $14 at Avatar Flight of Passage, and $9 at Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. The guests who buy it are annoyed because it doesn’t function like they want it to, and the guests who don’t are mad because their lines are longer.
Electric Mail Trucks
Despite the fact that 95 percent of the USPS’ routes are a great fit for electric vehicles, only 10 percent of the new order of mail trucks will be electric. The new mail truck will get about the same 8 miles per gallon that the current truck gets, leading many to wonder just how the USPS leadership could whiff on this order so profoundly. The USPS spends about $5,000 per year on repairs for each vehicle in its current 142,000 vehicle fleet, or about $710 million a year on repairs, and simple back-of-the-napkin math means that the USPS, if its budgetary hands weren’t tied when it came to separating operating and capital expenses, would have a pretty compelling case for just investing in new trucks and phasing out the old. But Congress capped its borrowing ability, and its capital budget is a fraction of the $80 billion operating budget, meaning it couldn’t actually make long-term investments to save money or reduce energy costs.
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