Numlock News: April 13, 2021 • Denali, Cookies, Rocky Horror,

By Walt Hickey

Time Warp

Prior to the pandemic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had played at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland every Saturday night for 43 years, one of the longest unbroken streaks of screenings in the world. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, that streak had to come to a — nope, actually, they pulled it off. Over the course of 54 Saturdays a theater emcee Nathan Williams kept the streak alive single-handedly, screening the film to a cinema containing only himself and, on occasion, a friend. Last week, on April 3, the movie was the first film to return to the cinema with 50 customers.

Samantha Swindler, The Oregonian/OregonLive


An iOS update from Apple will roll out the App Tracking Transparency framework across the company’s mobile devices, which will require publishers to ask before tracking users across apps and websites. Enough opt-outs would make ad targeting and attribution become a lot harder, and lots of people are very interested in how many people exactly are going to opt-in to the ad tracking. According to an analysis of 300 apps across 2,000 devices seeing test prompts, the median opt-in rate was a measly 32 percent, meaning two-thirds of people when given the option to dip out of intrusive tracking will do so without a second thought.

Andrew Blustein, AdWeek


Muldrow Glacier on the northeast slope of Denali is surging for the first time since 1956. A surge is when ice flows downhill at faster and faster speeds, and the 39-miles of ice is moving down Denali at about 30 to 60 feet per day, 50 to 100 times faster than the normal rate over the past several decades. This has actually been in the making for a while and isn’t a huge source of climate-related anxiety: Muldrow surges about once every 50 years, so this has been overdue. If anything, researchers are entertaining the possibility that climate change may have prevented the glacier from surging by disrupting the normal ice buildup that would accumulate over the period between surges.

Chelsea Harvey, E&E News


A team of researchers has found buried treasure in a Jamaican cave, provided you are into an extremely specific kind of treasure, and honestly, you are probably not. They found an undisturbed pile of bat poop that’s about 2 meters high, which for the right kind of researcher is a captivating record of the biological history of eons, even if for most people it would just be the grossest thing Robin ever found in the batcave. The pile tells the story of 4,300 years of bat diet according to radiocarbon dating, and a new study looked at sterols — durable chemicals similar to cholesterol — in the bat poop, allowing the researchers to discern periods when the bats feasted on bugs versus fruit and corroborate other known periods of unusual dryness over the past several millennia.

American Geophysical Union


Nepal’s population of rhinoceroses is up 17 percent compared to the previous survey from six years ago, according to their Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. The survey found 752 rhinos, a substantial rebound from the fewer than 100 seen in the 1960s. Of the 694 rhinos counted up in the Chitwan reserve, 125 were juveniles, which was up from 116 counted in 2015 and 111 tabulated in 2011.

Krishna Pokharel, The Wall Street Journal


Lots of U.S. workers lack access to any kind of retirement savings linked to their jobs, a deficit that some states have tried to address through automatic individual retirement accounts sponsored by the state and managed by a financial services company. Efforts to roll this out nationally have been stymied, but nine states and the city of Seattle had created auto-IRAs as of the end of 2020. They tend to be popular; in Oregon, where any company with five or more employees gets enrolled in the OregonSaves IRA, over 70 percent of workers chose to remain enrolled in the plan, on par with other states. This will help address significant inequality in access to retirement accounts in the private sector: 88 percent of people in the highest 25 percent of wage-earners have access to retirement benefits, compared to just 42 percent with access in the lowest 25 percent of earners, and a paltry 30 percent for the lowest 10 percent.

Robert Maxim and Mark Muro, Brookings


Last year, the government of France agreed to cut a €7 billion loan to Air France-KLM to shore up their capital situation during the pandemic, but there were strings attached: the conditions were that eventually some internal flights would have to be dropped, with the caveat that low-cost airlines would also be banned from taking up those routes. Now the rules are in, and members of Parliament have voted to suspend domestic flights on routes that can be traveled by direct train that take less than two and a half hours, as part of a climate policy designed to cut back on high-pollution flights when there is a readily-available alternative. The original recommendation of the climate commission was a four-hour cutoff. This will end flights between Paris and Nantes, Paris and Bordeaux and Paris and Lyon. On average, planes emit 77 times the carbon dioxide per passenger compared to trains along these routes.

Kim Willsher, The Guardian

The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.

Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at

Check out the Numlock Book Club and Numlock award season supplement.

2021 Sunday subscriber editions: Sneakers · Post-pandemic Cities · Facebook AI · Fireflies · Vehicle Safety ·

Climate Codes · Figure Skating · True Believer · Apprentices · Sports Polls · Pipeline · Wattpad · The Nib · Driven
2020 Sunday editions: 2020 · Sibling Rivalries · Crosswords · Bleak Friday · Prop 22 · NCAA · Guitars · Fumble Dimension ·
2020 Sunday Edition Archive
2019 Sunday Edition Archive
2018 Sunday Edition Archive