Numlock News: October 13, 2023 • Bullion Heist, Piracy, Galapagos
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! San Francisco, I am doing a book event in your town next week. Check it out if you can make it.
I Fortell A Vision!
Lo! Hear me, for the fates themselves have planted within me a startling portent of events yet to come! The omens are unanimous, my augury inarguable, the premonition that startles within my own mind shall come to pass, so hear me, reader, for my prophecy is inviolate! Call me oracle, for the foretoken is clear: On October 14, shortly after 9, the very sun that guides our days will — I tell you, will — blacken, with the moon herself obscuring the very star which guides our hours! From the northern Pacific coast in the place that is called Oregon, through the lands of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the terminus on the coast of the Gulf in that place of Texas, the skies shall dark, the light shall diminish, and a brief respite from the vigilant gaze of the day-star will diminish briefly! Mark my words! Zounds — ye must fire your boilers in anticipation lest ye be dire; there are well over 100 solar power plants in the areas where the sun will be the most covered, so the California grid could see 14,500 megawatts of solar power idled at 9:30 a.m., and 11,900 megawatts of Texas solar could go idle 20 minutes later, with the whole nation missing out of 28,300 gigawatts of power.
Brink’s is suing Air Canada over a shocking, massive heist that took place at Toronto Pearson Airport when 400.19 kilograms of gold as well as $1,945,843 in bank notes were stolen while under the care of Air Canada. The cache of bullion — valued at $20.4 million — was sent by Valcambi in Switzerland en route to the Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchange, and the cash belonged to the Swiss bank Raiffeisen Schweiz, each of which hired Brink’s to transport them into Canada. When Air Canada Flight AC881 landed at 4:20 p.m., the shipping container it was in was moved to a warehouse at the edge of the airport, where at 6:32 p.m. an unauthorized individual breezed into the facility, presented an unrelated airway bill, and walked out with the cargo.
Come, Friends, Who Plow The Seas
The ICC International Marine Bureau is reporting a rise in piracy, with 99 incidents of piracy in the first nine months of this year, up from 90 incidents of piracy over the course of 2022. The pirates are pretty good at their jobs, too: The pirates successfully boarded 89 percent of the vessels they targeted, mostly at night. Of those incidents, 21 took place in the Gulf of Guinea, and 33 took place in the Singapore Straits. The latter waterway is a congested and difficult-to-navigate waterway, and obviously being lousy with pirates complicates things even further.
The Japanese government announced it will dissolve the Unification Church following an 11-month investigation into the church. That investigation was, wildly, started because the guy who assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wanted one to happen and, despite murdering the prime minister, on balance the Japanese government felt that after hearing him out he made a couple of valid points about the exploitative nature of the religion. If a judge approves the request, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, which counts 600,000 members in Japan, will be stripped of its religious juridical person status and its tax exemptions, and will be allowed to exist solely as a religious group.
Dominica is a small country in the Caribbean with an increasingly desirable passport, especially for individuals from Russia, China and Iran that are willing to pay big bucks to get a citizenship toehold outside of their country for business, freedom of travel, or tax evasion reasons. A passport from Dominica gets you into most countries visa-free, and given an investment program where a passport can be had for $100,000, some of the country’s newest citizen may not be entirely on the level. An investigation found 7,700 people who purchased passports from Dominica, and they’re such a big business that golden passports alone accounted for 50 percent of Dominica’s government budget.
A new survey found that 53 percent of adults have somewhere between one and four close friends, while 38 percent are social butterflies and have five or more. The older the respondent, the more likely they were to have more close friends: 49 percent of those 65 and older had five or more close friends, with men slightly more likely than women to say they have five or more. Interestingly, 66 percent of adults said all or most of their close friends are the same gender as them, with 71 percent of women saying all or most of their friends are the same gender, compared to 61 percent of men. Men were more likely than women to say conversation topics among their friends tend to involve sports or current events, while women were more likely to talk about their work, family life, health, pop culture, and their mental health.
The Galapagos islands once had the climate of a savannah, but following the destruction of its population of giant tortoises — the island of Española saw its tortoise count drop from 10,000 to 14 — over time the terrain became densely packed with trees that otherwise would have been eaten by the tortoises keeping them in check. Since the calamity, conservationists have managed to reintroduce 2,000 captive-bred Galapagos giant tortoises into the wild, and now the population is back up to 3,000, give or take. The places where the tortoises have bounced back look like savannahs again, and as of 2020 the island of Española was down to 78 percent woody vegetation.
If you have not yet, preorder my book! It just got an amazing starred review in BookPage that says, “Hickey fascinates as he demystifies pop culture, sharing the outcomes of his experiments and studies. Cheeky and informative visuals bolster Hickey’s pro-pop-culture assertions and illuminate personal stories. His keen eye for detail and ability to see connections across genres enliven the narrative beyond theory and talking points, offering a bounty of enthusiasm for our favorite stories.”