Numlock News: September 21, 2022 • Wolves, Indie Music, Vultures
By Walt Hickey
From 2013 to 2018, Chinese firms were net buyers of $52 billion in U.S. commercial real estate, including office buildings and hotels, with particular attention on Manhattan. Lately, though, they’ve been bailing out of the market at a remarkable pace, selling off $23.6 billion of U.S. commercial properties since 2019. It’s been a rough couple years for office space needless to say, and domestic concerns for the firms — including a regulatory crackdown on moving money out of China and financial trouble in their own real estate market — have thrown up signals that it might be time to get out.
Wolves Raised By
A new study sought to figure out if wolves are capable of making attachments to people in the same manner that dogs are, finding that there’s evidence that some traits that previously had been thought to be inherent only in domesticated dogs may in fact be present at some level in wild wolves. Researchers hand-raised 10 gray wolves from the time they were 10 days old, spending 24 hours a day with the pups and bottle-feeding them. When the animals grew to 23 weeks old, they were given a Strange Situation test, essentially seeing how they react to their caregiver, a stranger, and so on. The same test was done with 12 23-week-old Alaskan huskies raised in a similar manner. Both wolves and dogs were able to make a distinction between the person that raised them and a stranger, which is evidence of attachment. Presumably the next phase of the study is investigating the hypothesis, “Is it possible for a major animation studio to option an academic paper into an adorable film about unlikely animal friendships.”
Even as the professional and college game increased in popularity, participation in girls’ high school basketball has been slipping in recent years, dropping from the most popular girls’ sport two decades ago to just the fourth-most popular sport today. Girls basketball lost 19 percent of players since 2002, while track and field saw a 10 percent increase, volleyball a 15 percent increase and soccer a 27 percent increase. This is attributable to a number of causes, but the rise of single-sport athletes and a wider range of sports options and specialization is eating away at the talent pool for basketball. On the boys’ side, basketball participation was down just 4 percent over the past two decades.
A new Mozilla study of YouTube usage of 22,722 users from December 2021 to June 2022 found that many of the buttons on the service don’t actually work as advertised, based on the half a billion recommendations that were made. The “Don’t Recommend Channel” button only stopped 43 percent of unwanted video recommendations, and the “Dislike” button stopped only 12 percent of recommendations.
Major labels conservatively accounted for 66.1 percent of the recorded music revenue last year, with the rest of the money going to independent labels and artists. However, music off of major labels accounted for 85 percent of the songs on the 2021 Billboard Radio Songs chart, a disproportionate figure that would seem to imply that the indies are getting boxed out of the radio. One reason is that it costs money — thousands of dollars paid out to promotion executives — to get a given song past middlemen and onto the airwaves. Trying to get a song on alternative music radio stations can cost $40,000 to $60,000, amounts that can rise into the six figures for mainstream R&B/hip-hop. About 20 percent to 40 percent of that dough goes to the independent promoters who control access to specific radio stations.
It turns out that vultures that scavenge carcasses are major boons to the climate and reining in CO2. Decaying animal bodies release greenhouse gases, with each kilogram emitting 0.86 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. An individual vulture can eat between 0.2 kilograms and 1 kilogram of that meat a day, and given that there are 134 million to 140 million vultures worldwide, you’re talking some serious carbon sequestration in the grossest possible manner. Vultures in the Americas keep 12 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere every year, which is the equivalent of taking 2.6 million cars off the road. With vulture populations outside of the Americas in free fall, though, the emissions from decaying animals are again an issue.
Book bans have reared their head again, with the American Library Association logging 729 attempts to remove books last year, up from 156 the prior year, and 2022 poised to be even worse than 2021. While news of a book ban can propel sales of a given targeted title, unfortunately most banned books don’t get covered. The ALA estimates that 82 percent to 97 percent of book challenges simply are not reported on, never making it out of the minutes of the school board into the public eye.
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