Numlock News: November 6, 2018
By Walt Hickey
AMC’s A-List Stubs program lets people see up to three movies per week at an AMC Cinema for $19.95 per month. You know the guy who invented a slightly faster chariot after watching Icarus burn to death in the sky and fall to the ground in a blaze of failure? It’s like that, only with MoviePass, a financially doomed “unlimited movies for $10” company. AMC initially projected it would have 500,000 users by June 2019, but they will actually have 500,000 users by next week. In reaction to this, rather than going with the MoviePass strategy of letting the voracious demand consume them like a supernova, they will raise the price to $23.95 a month in the most popular areas in a year.
A new study finds that playing Tetris helped people cope with stressful situations, the latest in a body of research that finds regularly becoming engrossed in a distracting game requiring mental focus can reduce stress and anxiety. Participants were told they were about to be evaluated on their appearance by their peers and played Tetris while they waited for the result. Those who played the classic version reported — on a five-point scale — a level of negative emotion that was 0.5 points lower than other participants’. By becoming engrossed in an activity that requires thought, people can take their mind off of, say, a difficult test, or a tough social situation, or an enormously consequential election that will take hours if not days for the magnitude of the results to be fully interpreted, and even then may still end in an ambiguous stalemate that fails to articulate a distinct vision for the future of a major superpower.
The live trivia game app HQ Trivia has been in a state of decline from the heady days when the promotion pulled in over 2 million players for its biggest prize contests. The app — which for a time consistently pulled 1 million players per contest — has seen its mid-week shows fall to the range of 200,000 to 400,000 players with a recent $25,000 Sunday prize drawing in 580,000 players. And while HQ will do over $10 million in revenue this year, its $100 million valuation is likely contingent on the app’s ability to expand beyond the trivia show.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. This past weekend, I spoke to Rob Arthur about what happened when the Supreme Court rolled back portions of the Voting Rights Act.
A study that asked thousands of college students about perfectionism found that students in 2016 were more likely than those in 1989 to succumb to perfectionist tendencies. Three types of perfectionism were analyzed — the desire to be perfect, the desire to live up to others’ lofty expectations and the urge to hold others to unrealistic expectations — and all measured higher, by 10 percent, 33 percent and 16 percent respectively. Isn’t it so weird that a generational spike in connecting self-esteem to what other people think happened at the same time that websites figured out they could juice monthly active users by making people feel like they were missing out?
In 1987, countries all over agreed to stop using chlorofluorocarbons because they were destroying the ozone layer. It turns out, who would have guessed, collective international action against a global environmental catastrophe did the trick! In the late 1990s, 10 percent of the upper ozone layer was depleted, but since 2000 it increased by 1 to 3 percent every year. The ozone hole over the South Pole — which was 9.6 million square miles at its largest this year — is 16 percent smaller than its peak in 2006. Had nothing been done, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been gone by 2065. Now, the Northern Hemisphere’s upper ozone should be repaired by the 2030s and the Antarctic hole will be fixed by the 2060s.
The FCC has sent letters to 13 telecommunication companies demanding that by the end of 2019 they find a way to combat billions of robocalls plaguing American phones. Nobody likes robocalls: sure, there’s the oddly satisfying exception after a uniquely epic evening when your bank has to call to make sure a profligate maniac had not stolen your credit card. But the scourge of spammers and grifters using the tech has been on the rise. Last month a robocall blocking company estimated there were 5.1 billion unwanted calls, up from 3.4 billion in April.
Arbitrary Internet Money
I’ve been super skeptical of back-of-the-napkin guesstimates that claim Bitcoin requires the same energy as a country, but the process of creating new digital currencies does indeed require energy and there is indeed a cost involved in creating them. A new study published in Nature Sustainability estimates that from January 2016 through June 2018, it took 17 megajoules (MJ) to make $1 worth of Bitcoin, 7 MJ for each dollar worth of Ethereum and Litecoin, and 14 MJ to make a dollar of Monero. For context, it’s more energy intensive to make a dollar worth of crypt than a dollar worth of copper (4 MJ), gold (5 MJ), and platinum (7 MJ).That period of crypto mining was responsible for 3–15 million tons of CO2, which while hardly a small country, is still about 324,000 homes’ annual energy use.
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