Numlock News: May 11, 2021 • Lobsters, Cybercrime, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association
By Walt Hickey
The Golden Globes have been dropped by NBC following a roiling boycott of the ceremony urging the organizers — the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — to put forward a non-embarrassing strategy to clean house and diversify their membership, which somehow includes zero Black people. This may have been an easier decision given the 60 percent decline in viewership for the broadcast, which even led the group to offer a $20 million rebate to NBC. The broadcaster’s contract with the 86-member group — $27.4 million last year, up from $3.64 million in 2016-17 — is massive given their tiny size and philanthropic footprint, and a Los Angeles Times investigation earlier this year found the leadership doled out $1.929 million to membership. The kickbacks provoked additional scrutiny of the body, and now the future of the broadcast is in serious jeopardy.
The objective of carbon credits is to take forest that would have otherwise been logged, put a price on not cutting it down and thus not releasing the stored CO2, and then sell the credit for not releasing that CO2 to polluters who do release CO2 so they can cut down on their net emissions. The system is rife with problems, but a new investigation turned up something off about a 600,000 credit deal. The Massachusetts Audubon Society manages land in western Massachusetts as a wildlife habitat beloved by birders, but in 2015 they indicated to California they could make a lot of money logging those 9,700 acres they would never in good conscience actually log. The Air Resources Board allocated over 600,000 credits in exchange for the promise to not log it and Mass Audubon earned about $6 million from the sales. And while this could be construed as some birders making a buck, there was a cost; Phillips 66 bought 500,000 of the credits, and Shell and the Southern California Gas Company bought 140,000, which “offset” actual emissions that actually happened. If the Audubon Society was never actually going to log the pristine wilderness, then were the emissions actually offset?
The Spice Must Flow
The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is believed to have been caused by DarkSide, a gang of cybercriminals hawking ransomware-for-hire that led to the theft of almost 100 gigabytes now held hostage. The four main pipelines are now offline, and as a result, U.S. fuel prices rose six cents per gallon on the week to $2.967. The federal government relaxed the rules on fuel being transported over road to keep the supply moving, and it’s clear that the hackers realized they kind of beefed it and maybe went a bit too big with the snatch and grab this time. In a statement posted to their website, DarkSide said, “From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.” Because apparently shutting down the supply of 45 percent of the East Coast’s gas is not the kind of attention one wants in the ransomware game.
Documentaries are a real hit on Netflix, with documentaries and docuseries spending on average eight days on the U.S. top ten list of the service after their premieres. Last month alone, documentaries were featured in the top ten 27 out of 30 days. True crime series did especially well: Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer and Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel each spent 16 days riding the top ten list following their premieres, and Operation Varsity Blues, Murder Among the Mormons, This Is a Robbery and Why Did You Kill Me? all spent over a week in the top ten. This is a key insight for the entertainment industry, and those like me who love to analyze it, because the message is spelled out in the data: the clearest way to get famous is to do crimes, and lots of them, and if you’re one of the Russians who hacked that pipeline, please email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately as you could be looking at six figures for the likeness rights alone.
The new iOS 14.5 rollout on Apple products requires apps to ask for permission to track users, a huge blow to companies that base their business on snooping on users and then advertising to them. It turns out the opt-out rate of tracking is even worse than the advertisers’ worst fears: ongoing data releases from Flurry have found that U.S. users choose to opt out of tracking 96 percent of the time when offered the chance. The number globally is lower — a mere 88 percent — but still immensely distressing for companies that had hoped for opt-in rates of up to 40 percent.
Over 40 cities in California have made it harder to use natural gas to heat homes, and a new decision from the statewide California Energy Commission will apply stricter standards statewide, though not as far as a ban on new installations that many climate activists had hoped for. Californian energy standards have worked, to an extent: residents use 31 percent less energy in their homes than the average American. About 80 percent of building carbon emissions come from space and water heating, and natural gas use in buildings alone accounts for 10 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
They Captured A Shiny
Employees at a Red Lobster restaurant in Manassas, Virginia found a weird looking lobster and saved it from the boil, which was a good plan because it turned out to be an incredibly rare Calico-colored lobster. They named him Freckles, and it turns out Freckles’ coloration makes him among the third-rarest lobsters in the world, after only split-colored and albino lobsters. The estimated chance of catching a calico is 1 in 30 million. He’s since been shipped off to the Virginia Living Museum in lovely Newport News, where Freckles will live out his days being ogled by children.
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