Numlock News: August 13, 2020 • Anime, Elephants, Knuckles

By Walt Hickey

Good morning! Check out this super cool comic I edited at Insider.


AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia and streaming service HBO Max, is reportedly trying to sell the anime streaming service Crunchyroll. The service has 3 million paying subscribers globally and 70 million registered users. A no-ads subscription version goes for $7.99 per month, and, overall, they’ve got 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes in what’s considered the largest anime library in the world. A possible suitor is Sony, which owns the anime business Funimation, but WarnerMedia wants $1.5 billion for it, which is a bit steep for the buyer. The sale is largely because AT&T owes an enormous amount of money — $153.4 billion, mostly from buying Time Warner — and has been selling off its ancillary companies like its share in Hulu. The move to sell Crunchyroll is a peculiar one; usually people who collect enormous amounts of anime prefer to spend their time amassing significantly larger collections of anime, eventually learning what Bleach is, and then disappearing into an abyss, never being heard from again.

Todd Spangler, Variety


A burst of activity from people filing for IRS Employer Identification Numbers would seem to indicate that, potentially driven by layoffs across the economy as a whole, more Americans are launching side businesses and going independent in order to get by. In the first dozen weeks of the year, there were in the ballpark of 50,000 new non-employer filings per week, which by week 12 in late March dipped down to 41,200 such filings. Since then, the number of filings has risen reliably week over week, and as of the 30th week of the year in late July stood at 76,600. Recessions are linked to people starting their own ventures as other employment dries up or falls through, and the pandemic setback has been no different, even if a little faster.

Michael Sasso, Bloomberg


One unambiguous success story of conservation has been elephants in Kenya, who have seen populations rise from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,000 in 2018. While Africa as a whole has seen a distressing increase in poaching in 2020, Kenya’s seen just seven elephants poached in 2020, compared to 34 in 2019 and 80 in 2018. Kenya has made its campaign to curtail poaching a very public exercise, with publicized displays of confiscated ivory burning and heavy fines and jail for the people caught trafficking trophies.



A new poll found 79 percent of registered voters backed allowing student loan borrowers to defer payments without interest for six months, with just 10 percent opposing the measure. Extending that to a whole year still attracts support from 77 percent of voters, and just 14 percent oppose. A more significant measure of relief — cancelling $10,000 in student loan debt for each borrower — still managed to attract support from a majority of registered voters, with 53 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.

Claire Williams, Morning Consult


Facebook is one of the best places on the entire internet for like-minded people to come together and form powerful connections. Don’t believe me? Try this stat on for size: Facebook has proudly announced it’s removed 8.7 million pieces of content that could technically be categorized as “terrorism” in the second quarter, up 40 percent than in the first several months of the year. I suppose that nobody wakes up in the morning, delighted to build technological tools that, you know, facilitate the recruitment and training of new devotees of the use of violence against civilians to advance political aims, but “like-minded” is a pretty broad mandate and maybe they should have been a little more specific in their goals. If it’s any consolation Facebook was also a crucial tool for other organizations and groups, such as “organized hate groups” who saw 4 million pieces of content removed, down from 4.7 million in the first quarter, which is actually not any consolation whatsoever, that’s terrible.

Rachel Levy, The Wall Street Journal


Body Parts

A new analysis of 2,000 books found that lots and lots of authors are shamelessly horny on main, describing the bodies of male characters and female characters in distinctly different depth and language. If an author was describing a thigh, it was 1.6 times as likely to be a woman’s, a skew that applied to hair (2.27 times more likely for women), lips (1.26), hips (2.29), waists (2.25), breasts (6.61), and nails (2.03). Meanwhile, men disproportionately saw their thumbs (1.91), fists (2.03), knuckles (1.61), backs (2.85), jaws (1.75), brains (1.61) and grins (3.02) described. Such skews also applied to adjectives used to describe bodies — women are more likely to be “soft” or “slender," men more “big” or “hard” — and honestly, now I just want to read a book about a women who’s all knuckles and a dude who’s got rockin’ hips.

Erin Davis, The Pudding


A new study finds that land that is fully owned by Indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon is less deforested than land owned by other parties. The constitution of Brazil lays out the steps necessary for homologation, where economic activity can’t be carried out on land without the consent of both the tribe with rights to it and the government. From 1982 to 2016, deforestation in homologated areas fell from 3 percent a year to 1 percent a year. Under current President Jair Bolsonaro, or his predecessor Michel Temer, no new land has been allocated for indigenous use, and the recent leadership’s refusals to grant new land to Indigenous communities is estimated to have resulted in 1.5 million hectares of additional deforestation per year.

Jean Chemnick, E&E News

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