Numlock News: December 3, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!


Epic Games Inc. announced that the video game Fortnite now has over 200 million players worldwide, a figure that is roughly the population of Brazil. The game’s growth is enormous: back in June, there were 125 million registered users and the current figure is five times higher than the number at the beginning of 2018. Weird that millions of young people are drawn to a game where only 1 percent succeed, there’s a rapidly closing window for success, older and more established players with better stuff crush newcomers in a dilapidated and crumbling world, the first thing that happens is an individual is let down by public transportation, and the only thing they could conceivably inhabit is a small shack of their own construction.

Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg

Ringo Was Right

Sardinia accounts for most of Italy’s octopus catch. From 2001 to 2010, the annual catch fell from 3,400 tonnes to 1,586 tonnes of octopus, and concerned fisheries and calamari aficionados wanted to know why. Over three years, biologists and fishermen installed 200 artificial dens made of plastic, cement and rope to offer the cephalopods better and safer living conditions. At peak, the octopuses used 90 percent of those dens for spawning and five dens hosted 300,000 eggs over the course of the trial. While no official data exists, fisheries report higher yields.

Richard Kemeny, Hakai Magazine


Michelle Obama is now the author of the top-selling hardcover book of 2018. The former first lady has sold over 2 million copies of Becoming in the U.S. and Canada, moving 725,000 copies on day one. That sales figure — 15 days into its release — beats the 1 million copies Hillary Clinton’s Living History sold, the 2 million copies of George W. Bush’s Decision Points over several weeks and the 1 million copies of Bill Clinton’s My Life. The book beat out Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward.

Nick Romano, Entertainment Weekly

Jon Bon Jovial

Singer Jon Bon Jovi’s wine, Hampton Water, was named the top-ranked rosé of 2018 by Wine Spectator. The wine was ranked 83rd on the top 100 wines list, and is available for about 25 bucks. The wine is from the South of France, which I guess is nice, but it’s kind of a betrayal of the fertile vineyards, crystal clear waters and impeccable soil profiles of Bon Jovi’s home of New Jersey. I do find it fascinating when a celebrity succeeds in a totally new field, like when wrestler The Rock became movie star Dwayne Johnson, or NFL Coach John Madden became a video game icon, or when nuclear budget analyst Ina Garten became a food sensation, or when international socialite George R.R. Martin wrote a novel.

Jessica Fecteau, People

In this week’s Sunday subscriber special, I spoke to Drs. Kathleen Bachynski and Zachary Binney, the researchers behind a groundbreaking new study about CTE. Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.


Humans are actually pretty good at telling if someone is lying. Based on voice alone, average human judgement can tease out the lie about 70 percent of the time. But lots of companies want to use voice analysis to drive that figure higher. The issue is that there is still room for error. Companies bidding for lucrative security, defense and risk assessment sure seem to be overstating the accuracy of their software, touting 97 percent accuracy, compared to the claimed 60 to 70 percent accuracy of Department of Homeland Security tools in use at U.S. borders. But when lives are at stake, tech that straddles junk science and is unproven has real consequences.

Ava Kofman, The Intercept


In the wake of a school shooting that rocked the nation, the school district that runs Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School has spent a fortune attempting to obscure their role in not preventing the massacre. The district has paid about $185,000 to crisis management consultants in the months since. One of these consultant’s core message is “stop talking.” The district has also spent an undisclosed sum on attorneys to oppose the release of records related to the school’s treatment of the gunman while he was a student and the mishandled or lapsed school security. A company did receive a $60,000 contract to review the shooter’s school records to find whether Broward schools satisfied the law in their handling of the shooter as a troubled student. However, the eventual report omitted multiple details about the instability of the student.

Brittany Wallman, Megan O'Matz and Paula McMahon, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Collapse Of A Triangularly Oriented Business Concern

LuLaRoe is a multi-level marketing company that appears to be in a tailspin. The company sells inventory to “consultants” at a wholesale price, who then recruit new consultants to hawk patterned leggings on social media. In addition to a reported outflow of consultants, the company’s chief clothing supplier is now suing the company for $49 million, claiming the multi-level marketing company hasn’t paid its bills in seven months. The supplier claims LuLaRoe’s founders have squirreled away assets in more than a dozen shell companies and they brought receipts. The suit also says LuLaRoe owes another $1 million to UPS and a further $3.1 million to other suppliers. Gosh, who could have ever foreseen that the top of an MLM scheme was apparently not on the level?

Hayley Peterson, Business Insider

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Previous Sunday special editions: 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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