Numlock News: August 31, 2021 • Match Fixing, Mission Impossible, Maine

By Walt Hickey

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Mission Possible

Paramount insured the production of Mission: Impossible 7 for $100 million through Chubb, a subsidiary of Federal Insurance Company. Given that the pandemic forced them to shut down and delay production of the film, Paramount wants a payout, but the most the insurer has agreed to pay is $5 million, which Paramount alleges doesn’t begin to cover its losses. Paramount is taking the insurer to court, in one of a number of brewing battles over what insurance providers owe their customers after the pandemic year.

Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter

Match Fixer, Match Fixer, Fix Me A Match

The International Tennis Integrity Agency handles investigations into match fixing for the organizers of the four major international tournaments, and they’ve been busy. Wimbledon saw two matches that are now under suspicion of match-fixing following the revelation of abnormal betting patterns on the match, and with the U.S. Open coming up, the world’s on high alert. In 2019 prosecutors identified 137 players who were suspected of rigging matches, as an investigation revealed the existence of an organized crime group bribing players since 2014 at lower level tournaments. This year the ITIA received 46 official alerts regarding matches and has doled out 11 suspensions as of mid-July, about on pace for the same period of 2019 when 54 alerts were triggered.

Ibrahim Naber, THE CITY

Low-Hanging Flowers

A review published in Nature Plants of 280 studies on 113 plant species in the Alps from 1975 to 2020 found that the research community has its preferences when it comes to which species of plants they aim to research. The study found that blue flowers were disproportionately studied given that they are some of the least common flowers, as did plants that have red, pink, or white blossoms. Brown and green flowers were comparatively under-studied. That’s a real shame because I hear that the Helvetian Beige-Hued Stink Grass is the one that confers immortality and dang we just missed it.

Jillian Kramer, Scientific American

Blowout

An odd high school football game that was televised nationally on ESPN and furnished by Paragon Marketing Group has led to uncomfortable questions, namely, hey, wait a minute, one of those teams doesn’t actually seem like a school? The match was between IMG Academy, the No. 1 football high school in the country that draws elite athletic talent, and Bishop Sycamore, which is allegedly in Columbus, Ohio but does not list an address, staff or any actual information on its website. IMG won 58-0, but further investigations revealed some seriously weird stuff, like that Bishop Sycamore had played another game just two days before (a 19-7 loss), also that its mailing address is a PO Box, and its physical address is an indoor sports facility that hosts no classes, and that they’re not even part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and it has been outscored 342-49 since becoming a football program in 2020.

Bailey Johnson, The Columbus Dispatch

Maine

Maine has rolled out a new law that requires manufacturers to cover the cost of recycling their packaging, the first such law in the country. Oregon is poised to sign a similar law in a few weeks, and about a dozen other states are weighing the measure. It’s a huge success overseas, though: producers are charged a fee based on how much tonnage they put into the market. That fee goes into a nonprofit group audited by the state, and they reimburse governments for recycling the waste they put into the world. That’s the model in most of the E.U., South Korea, Japan, and several provinces in Canada. It makes a difference: when Ireland rolled it out, their recycling rate for paper and plastic rose from 19 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2017, and most of the E.U. is between 60 and 80 percent. The American rate was just 32 percent, which was actually down.

Winston Choi-Schagrin, The New York Times

Leaded

Algeria was the last country on Earth using leaded gasoline, and Monday the United Nations Environment Program announced that they had just depleted the last of their supply of leaded gasoline in July. Up through the 1970s, all gasoline had lead added to it because it made car engines perform better, with the unfortunate side effect of causing widespread lead poisoning around the world. Over the past two decades, the U.N. worked to phase out leaded gas, an effort that was projected to prevent 1.2 million premature deaths annually. By 2014, it was only found in Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, Myanmar, North Korea and Afghanistan, and as of earlier this year, it’s simply not made anywhere anymore.

Tim McDonnell, Quartz

Soundscape

Evidence keeps piling up that the global shutdowns of 2020 fundamentally altered the maritime soundscape for the better. An analysis of hydrophone data from Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand found that 12 hours after lockdowns rolled out, underwater sounds dropped nearly threefold from the absence of engine noise, with noise levels dropping two decibels for each 10 percent decrease in vessel noise. This increased the distance that the calls of bottlenose dolphins could be heard from 2.9 kilometers to 4 kilometers, and near to Auckland, the range of fish communication increased from a few meters to 155 meters.

Kate Evans, Hakai Magazine

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