Numlock News: April 16, 2021 • Escaped, Artificial, Tyrannosaurus rex

By Walt Hickey

Have a great weekend!


An 800 to 900 pound beefalo that has been roaming the woods of western Connecticut after mounting a successful escape en route to a slaughterhouse was re-captured by Plymouth police after 250 days on the loose. The beefalo escaped handlers on August 3 at a critical moment when its captors were unloading it from a truck, and the bison-cattle cross has been living off the land, dodging the fuzz since. The beefalo was captured after attempting to jump a motorcycle over a barbed wire fence and into neutral Switzerland— whoops, sorry, wrong tab. The animal actually wandered on to a farm and was associating with some cows when a farmer narced on it. The good news is that the beefalo will not be doomed to the abattoir; he’ll be sent to the Critter Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary in Gainesville, Florida.

The Associated Press

Life In Plastic, It’s Fantastic

Sunken trash accumulated on the bottom of the ocean floor has, in some situations, attracted a diversity of sea life scraping a life from the detritus of the surface. A study analyzing dozens of plastic objects collected from canyons in the South China Sea from 2018 to 2020 found 1,200 small creatures in lengths ranging from 0.2 millimeters to 2.5 centimeters living on the sunken crap. All told, a diverse array of 49 species were represented as living in the incredibly depressing man-made reef of trash. While it’s nice that plastic is boosting biodiversity, it does mean that it’s fundamentally changing the environment, the effects of which are much less easy to discern.

Carolyn Wilke, Hakai Magazine

Tyrannosaurus rex

A new study published in Science estimated the overall headcount of Tyrannosaurus rex who roamed the Earth. The estimated abundance of T. rex over the 127,000 generations it roamed the earth was about 20,000 T. rex at any given time, which would break down to about 2.5 billion who ever lived. Given how often we’ve found fossils of them, that would break down to a one per 80 million fossil recovery rate, or about one out of every 16,000 in the places where the fossils are most abundant. Those estimates are pretty ballpark, and the uncertainty spans two orders of magnitude.

Charles R. Marshall, Daniel V. Latorre, Connor J. Wilson, Tanner M. Frank, Katherine M. Magoulick, Joshua B. Zimmt, and Ashley W. Poust, Science


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 5,800 cases of COVID-19 have been observed among the 66 million Americans who have received a full course of vaccination, a staggeringly high success rate for the vaccines. This means that a tiny 0.008 percent of the fully vaccinated population were suffered a breakthrough case, and illustrates that while no vaccine may be 100 percent foolproof, you know, 99.992 percent ain’t too shabby. Of the breakthrough cases, 29 percent were asymptomatic, and only 7 percent were hospitalized, a small fraction of a tiny fraction of a percent.

Robbie Whelan, The Wall Street Journal


The NFL has elected to go with the flow and, rather than resist the rising tide of legal sports gambling, has decided to simply wet its beak. The NFL has cut a deal with three gambling companies — Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel — to operate retail and online sportsbooks using NFL media, logos and data. On Thursday, Arizona became the 27th state to adopt legal sports betting. This is a significant shift for a league that had the temerity to sue New Jersey in 2012 arguing that legalized sports gambling would undermine the game, completely ignoring that the only reason New Jersey was undermining the NFL was by giving the Jets a home base of operations. All told, the sponsorships are reportedly worth almost $1 billion over five years, so pretty soon we’re talking real money.

Sarah Germano, Financial Times


As part of the Save Our Stages legislation passed through December’s COVID relief bill, $16.25 billion was set aside for thousands of small creative venues crushed by the pandemic. However, the Small Business Administration has botched the rollout, and has failed to deliver any of the money in the four months since passage. Last week, a website designed to accept grant applications for the Shuttered Venues Operating Grants (SVOG) was folded after only four hours due to repeated crashes. An Inspector General report last week said only one designated official on temporary detail has been running the grant management office. Part of this is lowballed funding: just $840,000 was allocated to operating SVOG as part of the implementation.

David Dayen, The American Prospect

Delivery War

China’s food delivery war runs hot, with two platforms — Meituan, with 67 percent of the market, and, with 31 percent — controlling functionally the entire delivery ecosystem, having devoured rivals. With just two players in the game, the industry is incredibly cutthroat: margins are sliced down to ribbons, and discounts to poach customers are the norm. This has had the effect of squeezing the 6 million delivery workers who facilitate the entire system: just 1 percent of delivery workers make 10,000 yuan ($1,532) per month, and over half make less than 5,000 ($766) per month, while the entire delivery sector is worth $97 billion.

Yi-Ling Liu, Rest of World

Last Sunday for the subscriber special, I spoke to Bloomberg’s Kim Bhasin all about his story “One Couple’s Fight to Stop the ‘Gentrification’ of Sneaker Collecting”. We spoke all about the booming sneaker market, why streetwear is becoming an investment class and what the future of it looks like. Kim can be found at Bloomberg and on Twitter.

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