Numlock News: January 15, 2021 • Manhattan, Disneyland, Pokemon Go

By Walt Hickey

Have a great weekend! Numlock is off on Monday in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. See you next on Tuesday.

I Choose You, Porygon

Pokémon Go creator Niantic has reached a settlement with the cheat creator Global++, concluding a lawsuit over a suite of tools designed to give players an unfair advantage in the hit game. The terms aren’t cheap: $5,000,000 and an admission to a number of copyright infringement and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The hackers designed three programs, PokeGo++, Potter++, and Ingress++, each a hacked version of the games Pokémon Go, Harry Potter Wizards Unite and Ingress, which featured GPS spoofing and auto-walk functionality.

Andy Maxwell, TorrentFreak, and Nicole Carpenter, Polygon

The Big Game

A new survey found that most Americans intend to watch the Super Bowl the same way the Jets head coach does every year — alone and at home. Fully 78 percent of Americans said it’s not very or not at all likely that they’d host or attend a get-together for Super Bowl LV. Just 16 percent think it’s somewhat or very likely, but let’s wait and see how that number shifts after six more teams get eliminated from contention. From mid-December to early January, the percentage of people who said they’d try to gather for the Super Bowl has already fallen by 9 percentage points, so best start stockpiling those mini hot dogs now.

Alex Silverman, Morning Consult

NYC

New York’s death has been somewhat overstated, with Manhattan apartment leases doubling last month after rent decreases and incentives successfully attracting renters who are not minor Dukes, petrochemical gangsters attempting to hide money, or one of Anderson Cooper’s cousins. Yes, New York is back, people, with the number of Manhattan apartment leases signed in December jumping 94 percent year over year to 5,459, the largest increase annually since April 2011. This event — the first bona fide victory in the New York City class war since the “rent is too damn high” guy made the national news — continues a trend that began last fall, when the big landlords began dialing up the incentives to get vacant apartments filled. The vacancy rate stands at 5.52 percent, down from the record 6.14 percent back in November, much higher than the 1.81 percent in December 2019.

Alex Wittenberg, Bloomberg

Birds

A new study from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology found that the Clean Air Act, enacted in 1963 and expanded several times thereafter, had a number of incredibly positive impacts for organisms that were not their intended target. The law’s reining in of airborne pollutants is expected to prevent 230,000 human deaths and millions of asthma attacks in 2020, but that is not all! The Cornell lab estimates that it also saved the lives of 1.5 billion birds in the past 40 years, or about 20 percent of the estimated bird population of North America. Areas with higher ozone pollution were found to have fewer birds, and while the American bird population has dropped by 3 billion birds since 1970, it would have been far worse absent the act, they contend.

Xian Chiang-Waren, Audubon

Disney

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure announced that they are killing their annual pass program, a mainstay of the parks for decades that had fundamentally changed the parks and made them into a routine for fans and family. The numbers are closely held, but the annual pass program has been estimated to be about 1 million passholders, all paying somewhere between $599 for an annual flex pass and $1,399 for the Signature Plus tier, which allowed access any day of the year regardless of blackouts. The parks segment of Disney posted $6.76 billion in operating income in FY2019, a figure that fell calamitously to an $81 million operating loss in the company’s most recent fiscal year.

Todd Martens, The Los Angeles Times

LPGA

The commissioner of the L.P.G.A. Tour is stepping back after a decade at the helm of a women’s golf organization that was on the brink of folding as recently as 2010. The financial health of the women’s game has rebounded significantly over the past ten years, and it’s far from the dire position it had been in during the late 2000s. From 2008 to 2010, the annual prize purse dropped from $60.3 million to $41.4 million, and the tour lost 10 events over the period. Looking forward, the game’s in great shape: there are 34 events slated for 2021, 12 outside the U.S., and the total purse is $76.5 million.

Brett Cyrgalis, The New York Times

TV

An annual report from GLAAD assessing the state of LGBTQ representation on television found that 70 out of 773 series regular characters slated to appear on scripted, prime-time broadcast television identify as LGBTQ, or about 9.1 percent of the characters. Interestingly, just four creators — Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, Greg Berlanti and Lena Waite — are responsible for 17 percent of all LGBTQ characters, or 62 out of 360 that will appear on American broadcast, cable and streaming television. There are lots of discouraging ways to interpret that, but I tend to think it’s an illustrative figure to keep in mind when wondering about the impact a single person can have on representation.

Nick Romano, Entertainment Weekly

I hope everyone enjoyed Sunday’s interview with Alex Davies, it’s fun to send those out to everyone and it was a really great interview. The book is Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car and it’s available wherever you get books. I hope to do more of those recorded podcast interviews, let me know what you thought of it, and consider becoming a paid subscriber to get those every Sunday:

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