Numlock Best of 2018: Most Clicked, Part 2

By Walt Hickey

Numlock is off until Jan. 2, 2019! During the week between Christmas and New Year’s we’re doing best of’s. This week: I pulled the most-clicked stories of the year. here are #7 through #1.

Raccoons

The centuries-old clash between two civilizations has entered a bold new era, with new technologies and innovations fueling the war between Toronto residents and the raccoons they don’t want eating their garbage. The latest weapon in mankind’s arsenal: a new garbage can designed to thwart the scavengers, the result of a $31 million (CAD) city contract that provided a half million “raccoon-proof” smart bins for the besieged Torontonians. The reaction? The raccoons are learning. They are also not losing weight. The city maintains there were only 24 raccoon-related complaints since the shift, but striking video evidence shows new skillful and cunning raccoon counterattacks, meaning incidents were likely under-reported. I would see a movie about Canadians accidentally breeding hyper-intelligent raccoons that supplant us Planet of the Apes style, but I would insist for the sake of irony we film it in New York City pretending to imitate Toronto.

Amy Dempsey, The Toronto Star

Troll

A controversial 15-foot troll will be removed from the town of Breckenridge, Colorado following a decision from the city council. The creature — made out of wood and constructed for an arts festival — cost $40,000 to build and is named Isak Heartstone. The original plan was to leave the troll until it succumbed to the elements, but the townspeople soon realized the moral of every single story from the entire canon of western folklore — trolls are large and unsightly and the trollhunters they attract are awful at parking — calling for the removal of the sculpture.

Summit Daily

The Land Previously Known As Oklahoma

A case before the Supreme court has enormous implications for the state of Oklahoma, as a murder case has courts realizing that Congress never, in fact, explicitly disestablished the Creek Nation’s reservation in the years leading up to Oklahoma’s statehood in 1907. In 2017, the Tenth Circuit of Appeals wrote in a 133-page analysis stating that since Congress never actually disestablished the reservation, half the state — some 44 counties and municipal jurisdictions of Oklahoma — is, in fact, under tribal jurisdiction. This reality has enormous implications for criminal justice and taxation. Justice Gorsuch has recused himself, so it would require five of eight justices to overturn the state court’s ruling in favor of the tribes.

Matt Ford, The New Republic

Robots Have Claimed An Asteroid

JAXA, the Japanese space agency, announced Saturday it successfully landed two unmanned rovers on an asteroid, Ryugu. The pair of rovers — MINERVA-II1 — began their approach on Thursday. Ryugu is a kilometer wide and is believed to have water and organic materials on it. A number of cameras on the rovers have sent back trippy space pictures that would make Stanley Kubrick jealous as heck. I think this technically means that robots are the dominant entity of our solar system, given their unchecked hegemony over a number of worlds like Mars and Ryugu.

Chandler Thornton and Euan McKirdy, CNN

Instagram Backgrounds

$15,000-per-month 2,400 square foot apartment in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood has become the setting-of-choice for discerning Instagram influencers attempting to hawk their crap in an apartment slightly better lit than their Bed-Stuy studio with the Billy book case, Christmas lights and four cats. Operated by a marketing company and honestly impressively lit, this is how your Spon-con sausage gets made. You know how if you squint at street signs and buildings during movies set in New York you notice pretty quick it’s all in Toronto? The same thing, but with lots of pleasant blond women on Instagram all in a single condo in SoHo.

Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times

Bicycle

Denise Mueller-Korenek became the fastest human to ever ride a bicycle, hitting an average 183.932 miles per hour on a custom bicycle. This shatters a record set in 1995, a dramatization of which you can see in the hit documentary Tron. They were only aiming for 175 miles per hour, tops, but ended up obliterating the 167 mile per hour record set by Fred Rompelberg.

Bill Chappell, NPR

Ce N’est Pas Un Doigt

A ticked-off Vermont man spent about $4,000 to erect a gleaming 700-pound sculpture on top of a 16-foot pole overlooking Route 128. The structure is a gloriously illuminated middle finger pointed directly at Westford's town leaders, who the man feels have slow-rolled an application to construct an 8,000 square foot garage on his property. Vermont has a ban on billboards, but an enormous middle finger isn't advertising much beyond a certain vibe I can really get behind, and thus is a constitutionally protected expression of the freedom of speech. As a Queens resident, I now have some fascinating things to think about for the forthcoming Amazon HQ2.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston Globe