Numlock News: December 11, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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While often maligned, the overwhelming majority of gossip is fairly innocuous. One study of British conversation found only 3 to 4 percent of the gossip sample was, in fact, malicious. I tend to believe that, even though I heard that the British were, like, totally just doing it to impress Scotland, who is obviously so over them and would never go for that kind of obvious stuff, especially after what happened in that ugly breakup between Britain and the European Union, which — you didn’t hear about that? Let me fill you in on all the drama. France is totally freaking out right now, I swear to god.

Christine Ro, BBC

You Win Or

A groundbreaking new analysis found that 14 percent of characters on the show Game of Thrones die within the first hour of appearing on screen, which is a hell of a way to send a message. The analysis — published in no less than the journal Injury Epidemiology — found that the median survival time on the show is 28 hours and 38 minutes of screen time. There are some factors that give people a higher likelihood of not being stabbed with the pointy end, such as being a highborn woman who keeps a low profile and switches allegiances when it comes to it.

Reidar P. Lystad and Benjamin T. Brown, Injury Epidemiolgy

Degrees of Success

For every 100 students who enroll full-time in college or university, 42 percent will graduate within four years and 18 percent more will graduate within six. This means that two out of every five college students get all the benefits of crippling debt with none of the gains of an actual degree. Indeed, of those 60 students of every hundred who graduate, 42 will leave with student loans and five will default on those loans by the age of 33. For the 40 who don’t graduate, 10 will default on those loans. Even more, 10 years down the line, 32 percent of the college grads end up in careers that didn’t require a college degree in the first place.

Douglas Belkin and Dylan Moriarty, The Wall Street Journal

Narc Apps

Many of your apps are selling you out, a New York Times investigation has found. The location data from 200 million mobile devices can lead to 14,000 new generated location data points in a single day — one woman whose movements were tracked found 8,600 location readings over four months, or roughly one every 21 minutes. Location targeted advertising is a $21 billion business, and at least 75 companies are voraciously interested in turning your location at any given moment into money. It may be a good time to figure out which seemingly innocuous apps you’ve allowed to access your location. For instance, the Times had no trouble finding New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s specific location tracking in data they purchased.

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Natasha Singer, Michael H. Keller and Aaron Krolik, The New York Times

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Vandals all across the country are hurling hundreds of rent-able scooters into nearby bodies of water, and I say we hear them out. As of September, L.A. alone had upwards of 17,000 scooters on its streets and San Diego had at least 13,000. In San Francisco, a company that tried to inflict the pestilence found that over 200 of their 650 scooters were stolen or damaged beyond repair. At some point, that’s kind of on the venture-funded dude who started a company that leaves free scooters on the sidewalk. One major issue is that the cheap scooters favored by the brands aren’t designed for heavy use and often break within two months, not long enough to recoup that initial investment.

Eliot Brown, Greg Bensinger and Katie Roof, The Wall Street Journal


South Korea is the world’s fourth largest gaming market, and they are not messing around anymore with a scourge of “boosting” services that increase the rank of a gamer’s account in exchange for money. These boosters make it harder to build fair competitive systems and the National Assembly has listened to the masses tired of getting rekt by god-tier DPS players smurfing to graze easy wins, or so I’m told. Under the new law boosting is subject to a fine of up to 20 million won, which is about $17,800, or up to two years in jail. This will make it so players like me don’t have a video game experience where we constantly lose because of other players mucking with the system, but rather one where players like me lose because we’re clumsy and have awful hand eye coordination.

Sohn Ji-young, The Korea Herald


An enormous $39 billion hedge fund in Boston — well, not in Boston — bought up more than three square miles of a California valley in 2012. That land is now $305 million worth of vineyards, valued three times higher than in 2013. The vineyards are in particularly well-watered parts of the arid California breadbasket and are effectively a strategic bet on owning agricultural areas with lots of groundwater moving forward. And while, yes, you do correctly recall that there was a James Bond movie where the super villain tried to buy all the water, we’re not at that inevitability yet. While the grape business is great for now, the potential could be enormous as California’s water difficulties get worse, which is good news for the investment fund that made this proactive purchase and also for the nationally admired educational facility they’re funded by, Harvard University.

Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal

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Previous Sunday special editions: Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

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