Numlock News: July 11, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Good morning! Today I’ve rolled out the liking and commenting features for paid subscribers.


There are an estimated 100,000 saltwater crocodiles who live in Australia’s Northern Territory. Based on some cursory research, that means there is one crocodile for every 2.4 residents of Australia’s Northern Territory, which is a persuasive argument for just letting the crocs have that one. Each year the government removes 250 “problem crocodiles” from the region, which, do you have any idea how bad you have to screw up as wildlife to be considered too dangerous to inhabit Australia? One beast found out as a 1,300 pound, 15-foot croc was captured after a decade-long search.

Lindsey Bever, The Washington Post

Apps Sold

It’s been 10 years since Apple rolled out the App Store, and it’s been huge for the company. Based on the fact that the company has paid out $100 billion to developers over the run of the store, you’d estimate the company has pulled in at least $43 billion in profit just by operating the application marketplace. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of App Store sales. Last quarter, this kind of services revenue accounted for 15 percent of Apple’s business.

Prachi Bhardwaj and Shayanne Gal, Business Insider

People Who Did Not Enjoy Their TanaCon Experience

We’re only now beginning to get the full details behind the latest planned Internet influencer event that devolved into an unplanned debacle. The latest Fyre Festival homage is TanaCon, a late-June event that YouTuber Tana Mongeau attempted to host to counter-program the more-established VidCon. A new investigation from an attendee reported Monague and her fellow “organizers” sold an estimated 5,108 VIP tickets to an event to be held in a hotel lobby with a maximum capacity of 1,150 people. This goes a long way to explaining the legions of sunburned, dehydrated, furious teens waiting outside a Marriott, many of whom really seem to want their share of the $325,000 ticket sales back. Congratulations to the Dashcon ’14 organizers for finally being able to cede their “Most Poorly Planned Internet Convention” prize.

Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge


A University of Chicago analysis analyzed a number of consumer behaviors, media habits and how people spent their time to find which were the most likely to predict things like politics, race and gender. For instance, based on 2009 data, you’d be able to predict whether a person was liberal based on them not owning a fishing rod (accurate 56.9 percent of the time) or didn’t eat at Arby’s (with 55.6 percent accuracy) or not own a Chevrolet (54.2 percent accuracy). The new analysis had some interesting findings regarding attitudes and how well they were able to predict race: namely, the social view “approve of police striking citizens” was in 2016 the best indicator of whiteness, which could predict whether or not a person was white correctly 65.6 percent of the time.

Andrew Van Dam, The Washington Post

Cramped People On Airplanes

A Facebook survey of 1,300 avid air travelers found that width and comfort, not legroom, were the main way they would improve air travel. While 17.5 percent wanted more legroom in economy, 67 percent favored wider seats. The distance between the front and back of seats has been getting lower as more airlines try to cram in more people — in budget carriers that can be as low as 28 inches — but so has the width. In 1985, no major American airline had a seat narrower than 19 inches, but the average width is now 17 inches.

Rosie Spinks, Quartz

Thanks you 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. 

Sand That is Coarse and Rough and Irritating and Now Gets Everywhere

West Texas is lousy with sand, and until about last July, all that sand was worthless. That’s no longer the case, as this year a number of mines will be shipping 22 million tons of sand — one quarter of the U.S. supply — to Texas’s Permian Basin for use in fracking. Wisconsin was the preferred supplier of its ideally-shaped sand to the Texas drillers, but it’s pricey to send Wisconsin sand 1,300 miles over rail compared to sending slightly-less-ideal Texas sand over by truck. Those shipping costs alone are about $90 per Wisconsin ton versus $25 per Texas ton. That difference has made for a $2 billion sand market this year in Texas.

David Wethe, Bloomberg

Chili Peppers

RateMyProfessors has decided to end its chili pepper rating, the one where people could decide to indicate if they thought their professor was hot. The company since attempted to whitewash this original intention by saying it was to represent a “dynamic teaching style,” but, following a widespread campaign from people who were tired of being judged on their looks at work, it has elected to discontinue the rating. A study of 7.9 million RateMyProfessors scores of 190,000 educators found those who were rated as “hot” scored higher on other metrics like quality, clarity and helpfulness.

Al Tompkins, Poynter

Thank you so much for reading! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too, and consider becoming a full subscriber here:

Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at