Numlock News: December 3, 2021 • True Crime, Pangolins, Broncos

By Walt Hickey

Have a great weekend!


In the 1840s, a cache of Nez Perce artifacts were obtained by a minister and eventually entered the possession of the Ohio Historical Society. In the 1970s, the tribe learned about the existence of the objects, and came to an agreement with the Ohio group that they’d be loaned back for display for 20 years. In the early 1990s, the Historical Society requested either their return or the market value for the artifacts, which was judged to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. After a national appeal, the Nez Perce raised together the $608,100 in 1996 with just two days to go before their deadline. Decades later, this year the Ohio History Connection — the successor organization to the OHS — has returned the $608,100, seeking to right a historical wrong.

Caroline Goldstein, ArtNet

True Crime

Data from Netflix’s top 10 U.S. television series reveals that the streaming service seems to have had diminishing returns with their true crime television shows. While the year started strong — both Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer and Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel were in the top 10 for 20 days, and Murder Among the Mormons hung out in the top 10 for 12 days — it’s been hit-and-miss since. Just five of the subsequent 18 true crime titles remained in the top 10 for 10 days or more, and nine of them never made the top 10 for a single day. The sole exceptions were Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, which lasted two weeks in the top 10, and Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which debuted to number one and hung for 12 days in the top 10, thus proving that crime truly doesn’t pay, unless it’s operating a dangerous and terrible zoo very badly, or selling drugs, or operating a terrible zoo while clearly under the influence of drugs, in which case yes it absolutely pays.

Kevin Tran, Variety


Prague’s zoo really wanted a pair of giant pandas, but Beijing declined. In stepped Taipei, which may lack pandas but is keen on offering unique endangered animals of its own, the pangolin, or spiny anteater. Prague’s zoo will get two pangolins, the latest in zoological diplomacy out of Taiwan. Since 2006, the Taipei Zoo has lent six pangolins, to Germany and to Japan. The diplomacy will also come off as a bargain for the Czechs: China charges zoos as much as $1 million per year per panda in conservation fees, while the pangolins come on the house. The pair being sent to Prague are the most robust among then, named Cough Drop and Precious Fruit.

Chao Deng, The Wall Street Journal

Globex Corporation

An analysis of 5.9 million crime predictions from a company called PredPol — predictions that informed policing in multiple cities across the country, affecting something like one out of every 33 Americans from 2018 to 2021 — found that the recommendations appear to be lousy with racial bias, persistently recommending increased patrols in neighborhoods with higher percentages of Black and Latino residents, with some neighborhoods seeing multiple crime predictions per day. Even when crime predictions targeted a majority-White neighborhood in the Northridge area of Los Angeles, it clustered those forecasts on the Latino blocks. The most-targeted neighborhoods were 28 percent more Black, 16 percent more Latino, and 17 percent less White than the overall jurisdiction. The efficacy of these programs is suspect, as there’s no vetting if the predictions actually bear out, or any report when a crime prediction software leads to charges. Critics allege the software is little more than “bias by proxy,” offering a justification to overpolice certain areas with a vague algorithmic justification.

Aaron Sankin, Dhruv Mehrotra, Gizmodo and Surya Mattu, and Annie Gilbertson, The Markup


Newark has replaced 21,000 pre-1953 lead service lines in less than three years, and has also distributed 40,000 water filters. The city wants to renew their citizens’ faith in their taps and also carry out surveillance for where else they need to ameliorate the lead. To that end, they’ve sent out 14,000 test kits to households six months after the pipes were changed, seeing 10,000 of them returned. In nearly 94 percent of the cases, the sample came back completely lead-free, and when the test results exceed the 5 parts per billion that merits remediation they’ve sent a team out to run more tests. It’s set the city back $800,000, but it’s also become a trend: Denver is kicking off a 15-year project to replace its lead pipes, and it’ll be using the same playbook.

Doyinsola Oladipo, CityLab

Project Arcturus

The Denver Broncos are eyeing a sale, with the team’s ownership interviewing bankers and a number of different groups are reportedly being vetted. The Broncos are currently owned by the estate of the deceased Pat Bowlen, who didn’t pick which of his seven kids he wanted to replace him as the main decision-maker for Denver — kids who each have an 11 percent stake and don’t agree on who should control the team. His brother owns the rest, in a non-voting stake. Given the tenuous situation, understandably a team spokesperson has said that, despite the meetings with the exact kind of bankers you meet with when you want to sell your football team, the team is not for sale. It’s the perfect opportunity for a billionaire that wants to buy local popularity, or the energy magnate slash megalomaniacal villain seeking to reward a former employee who desires the Dallas Cowboys. If they are sold, it’d be for a likely record price: just two teams (the Bills and the Panthers) have been sold in the past nine years, and the Broncos are valued at $3.8 billion, ranked 11th in the league.

Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams, Sportico

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

NOAA Fisheries announced it will explore whether the Atlantic humpback dolphin needs federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, as initial reviews indicated the population now numbers fewer than 3,000. The full study to come will last around 12 months, as the agency attempts to determine how bad the situation is for the mammal, which lives in the shallow waters off the coast of Africa and has been decimated by the fishing industry, where they’re unintentionally caught in gillnets.

Michael Doyle, E&E News

Last Sunday in the paid subscriber edition I spoke to Jordyn Holman, who wrote Good Luck Finding Deals This Year With All the Supply Chain Chaos for Bloomberg. Jordyn and I spoke on Black Friday, and talked all about how this year was unique, how the event has been evolving, and why one day tells us so much about the state of retail in America. Jordyn’s work is excellent, and she can be found at Bloomberg, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

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