Numlock News: September 1, 2023 • Foxes, Rabbit Holes, Cornhuskers
Plus, some amazing news!
By Walt Hickey
Good morning! Today is the official start of the preorder push for my forthcoming book, You Are What You Watch. Preorder the book and claim your extra bonus gift right here today! If you’ve already preordered, first, thank you, and second, go to that link to submit your information to claim the gorgeous poster you’ll get for preordering early.
You Are What You Watch is a gorgeous, full color book all about the ways that pop culture affects our society, our bodies, our minds and our world. It’s chock full of fascinating stories, pop culture facts that haven’t been reported anywhere before, and dozens of gorgeous charts and art.
If you like Numlock, you’re really going to love this thing. Preorders are hugely important, so ordering today helps the book out a ton. You can find all the places this book is available at the link. Thanks so much for checking it out.
The University of Nebraska just secured the single largest attendance at a women’s sporting event on Wednesday when 92,003 people packed into Memorial Stadium to watch the University’s volleyball team compete against Omaha. The previous record attendance was the 2022 Barcelona-Wolfsburg Champions League soccer match, which had 91,648 in attendance. The Cornhuskers volleyball program, ranked fourth in the country, is a phenomenon across college sports: They made $2.12 million in ticket sales revenue in the 2021-22 season, which across all of public FBS women’s sports is behind only the $2.4 million hauled in by the UConn basketball team that year.
The Caribbean island Anguilla, a British territory, has made bank this year because their country-level domain address is .ai, and amid the AI trend they’re making a fortune off of new registrations. This year, registrations at the top level domain doubled to 287,432 on the year, which would mean that Anguilla will reap in the ballpark of $30 million for the year from selling the domains, up from $7.4 million brought in in 2021. Registrars pay Anguilla $140 per two-year .ai registration. To be clear, the territory as a whole was expected to bring in $107 million in recurring revenue throughout the year, according to the Department of Finance, and had a GDP of around $300 million in 2021.
About 80 percent of the United States is within a kilometer of a road, a side effect of the car-dominated transportation culture in the country. This has a substantial impact on animal life nearby. A car that is a kilometer away projects sound at around 20 decibels, and a motorcycle or truck is sounding at about 40 decibels. Humans are able to ignore this, or put it out of mind, as a conversation comes in at about 60 decibels. But your typical acute-eared predator — like a fox or a bat — can detect sound at negative 20 decibels, as being able to detect prey and predators was an evolutionary imperative considerably stronger than the need to tune out an F-150 Super Duty two miles away.
Recent surveys have found that many Americans are lonely, and less than 40 percent reported feeling very connected to others. One particular worrying survey is that 22 percent of Americans said they haven’t made a new friend in the past five years, a trend particularly acute among men. Granted, some of the diminished formal social structures of the past several decades are to blame — there’s got to be a better way of making friends after turning 30 besides starting a podcast network or joining an MLM — and one angle is just to join some clubs, whether through a proper service like Meetup, municipal sports leagues, or a book club.
A new paper published in Science Advances argues that a 2019 update to YouTube has been largely successful in interfering with the video network’s issue of rabbit holes that algorithmically recommended increasingly extremist content to users. The study asked 1,181 people a survey of their beliefs, and then asked them to install a browser extension to monitor YouTube activity over the course of a few months in 2020. Extremist videos were seen by just 6 percent of participants, and the study found that most who did watch had subscribed to those channels of their own accord, and hadn’t been steered there by an algorithm attempting to optimize watch time on a video service.
The Bolivian Job
An estimated 20 percent of the total vehicle fleet in Bolivia has been smuggled, mostly stolen in neighboring Chile and then driven across the desert to one of the 73 illegal markets that are remarkably easy to find. The Bolivian government is aware of the issue, and the car thieves have become a lifestyle of their own, called chuteros with their own TikTok scene and whatnot. Naturally, this has the Chileans furious, and local police are overwhelmed with reports. Chile’s even got a new AI-fueled startup, SafeByWolf, designed to identify boosted cars faster for the insurance industry.
A pandemic-era program allocated $24 billion in grants to child care centers around the country to keep their lights on during the pandemic. It was also, incidentally, the largest ever investment in child care in the history of America. This allowed child care facilities to raise wages, recruit more workers, keep the lights on, and in some cases reduce costs for parents. The issue is, as of September 30 that money is going to expire, and while the original infusion of cash was intended to be temporary, the end of the funding is expected to lead to widespread closures across the country. Up to 70,000 child care centers are projected to close as a result.
We’re off on Monday in observation of Labor Day, but keep an eye on your inboxes over the weekend for a Numlock Unlocked. Also, if you like Numlock, you should preorder my book today so you get the special gift with it.