Numlock News: June 10, 2021 • Gardens, Gowns, Engagement

By Walt Hickey


The Keystone XL pipeline has been formally terminated, with TC Energy announcing that the project will not go forward, ending a decade-long fight over a pipeline that would have facilitated the extraction and sale of vast amounts of petroleum. At a cost of $8 billion, the pipeline had it gone forward would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska, where it would have been carried along existing pipes to the Gulf Coast for export. It would have created a measly 35 full-time jobs. The problem for environmental critics was that it was financially unsustainable to extract that oil in the absence of the pipeline, and given the state of things climate-wise — rather bad! — the overwhelming preference was to not cause 830,000 barrels of crude oil worth of emissions per day.

Justine Calma, The Verge

Carry That Weight

The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring airlines to update their baggage and passenger weight estimates, a somewhat gauche and personal question that nevertheless is deeply important to guarantee the effective operation of a commercial aircraft. Weight estimates for passengers and baggage are all going up 5 to 10 percent, and it could mean more bumped passengers and more shipped or delayed bags. American Airlines rolled out its new standards Tuesday, with their average passenger weight set at 182 pounds in summer and 187 in winter — the extra clothing counts! — an 8 pound increase per season. Carry-ons are 5 pounds heavier and checked bags are 4 pounds heavier. This will affect the amount of fuel allocated to a given flight, but customers won’t really see any significant changes.

Scott McCartney, The Wall Street Journal


Gardens in forest cultivated by Native American and Indigenous populations centuries ago in temperate forests continue to remain more biodiverse and distinct compared to the surrounding areas, even 150 years after the displacement of the Indigenous gardeners by colonial settlers, according to a new study. The paleoecology study found that the four areas studied — which up until the late 1800s were used to cultivate herbs for medicinal and culinary purposes — contained an average of 12 plant species per 25-square-meter plot, considerably higher than the eight species on average found in patches in the surrounding forest.

Jessa Gamble, Hakai Magazine


Same-sex marriage support in the United States reached 70 percent according to the latest numbers out of Gallup, a new high since the pollster started logging the trend in ‘96. That’s 10 percentage points higher than the level seen in 2015 when the Supreme Court rolled same-sex marriage across the country. For the first time ever, a majority of Republicans are supportive of same-sex marriage, with 55 percent of the right now in favor of the rights of LGBT people to marry people of the same sex.

Jaclyn Diaz, NPR


According to a whistleblower who once worked at Facebook sussing out fake accounts and accounts that attempt to manipulate the likes on the platform, the company believed in the first half of 2019 that there were approximately 3 million fake engagers on Facebook. To be clear, this is not your bargain bin social media inauthenticity, like “hearting” a photo of a doomed relationship or when you “like” an announcement of a bad career move, this is commercial fraud. But what’s interesting is most of those 3 million are not believed to be fake accounts, per se, as only 17 percent were thought to be fakes, dupes or sock puppets. Rather, 83 percent of fake engagers were “self-compromised,” which means that a person sold access to an account they actively use to, on the side, serve as auto-likers for larger fraudulent businesses.

Sophie Zhang, Rest of World

Say Yes To The Dress, Quickly, They’re Almost Out Of Stock

The next few months are going to contain a striking number of weddings, with events deferred from last year and events planned already for this year leading to a glut of nuptials that are sending the wedding industry from zero to 100 in a matter of weeks. Wedding dress bookings at Justin Alexander Group, a bridal design house, were up 593 percent from April 1 to May 15 compared to last year, and compared to pre-pandemic January through May 2019, this year sales of made-to-order gowns are up 40 percent.

Leanne Italie, The Associated Press

Don’t Mess With

Forthcoming wind, solar and battery storage projects in the state of Texas are worth an estimated $20 to $25 billion, with the Lone Star State — typically the home turf for oil and gas — emerging as a powerhouse for green energy. Right now, 15 gigawatts of clean power are under construction or in advance development, which is on par with the entire electrical capacity of Finland in 2019. Last year, Texas installed 3.3 gigawatts of utility-scale solar and 3.5 gigawatts of wind, and this year they’re projected to install twice that amount of solar and 4.2 gigawatts of new wind.

Josh Saul and Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg

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