Numlock News: March 26, 2019

By Walt Hickey

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Accounts Decievable

A Lithuanian man pled guilty to a suite of charges related to money laundering and wire fraud after admitting to stealing $99 million from Facebook and $23 million from Google between 2013 to 2015. He simply submitted invoices to the companies for things they had not ordered and he did not provide — a fairly banal if elegantly forged robbery that could land him in prison for 30 years. The well-connected international money launderer will also have to forfeit $50 million. As for the other $73 million, well, it was presumably money laundered internationally. 

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing


Are you a train obsessive, an obscenely rich person, or any combination of the two? If you reside somewhere on that Atlas Shrugged reader spectrum, well have I got the hobby for you: buying train cars and paying Amtrak to drag them across America. It’s a serious thing, with dozens of owners buying up and spending a fortune renovating train cars, spending more of a fortune to house and maintain them, and then paying Amtrak $3.67 per mile to attach them to one of their more typical trains. However, this anachronistic obsession has been threatened by “economics.” While Amtrak’s annual revenue is about $3 billion, this niche and, at times, annoying service for a small group of train fans leads to $4 million in revenue for the carrier. And for some ridiculous reason, that fraction of a percent in revenue is apparently not worth the delays associated with hooking up some cosplayer’s pre-owned to the back of the Carolinian. If you’ll excuse me, I have an email to send to MTA President Andy Byford about a potential new New York Subway revenue source.

Andrew Zaleski, CityLab


Comcast owns the Philadelphia Fusion in the Overwatch League, and a new hardware announcement yesterday indicates the cable company sees value in putting some serious investment into esports. The Philly-based company announced a $50 million and 3,500-seat downtown arena for esports to be called the Fusion Arena. The arena is projected to open in January 2021 and will be located near the other sports venues, which means it will serve as an essential meeting place for the newer, geekier Philadelphia esports fans to learn from the more established violent drunks who are the signature Philadelphia sports fanbase. Opening up an arena in Philly for a sport that literally requires batteries for participation effectively rules out a Christmas skirmish against the Dallas Fuel I’d say. 

Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg


In a particularly concerning hack, a half million Windows machines running on ASUS hardware installed malware distributed by hackers who were able to send out the malicious software through the ASUS update server, which is supposed to be extremely secure. Interestingly, this was more carpet bomb than precision targeting, as only about 600 systems were targeted using their MAC address. To identify your computer’s MAC address, just find a weird and oddly intimidating alphanumeric sequence you looked at one time and immediately disregarded when your internet was bugging out last summer. 

Kim Zetter, Motherboard

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Coyotes are not generally beloved by those who regularly interact with coyotes, and as a result basically everywhere in America is totally fine with people killing coyotes in any number and through any possible method. Coyotes can be shot, burned, gassed, even run over with a snowmobile (a practice common enough it has a name, “coyote whacking”) and many states will even pay you to do that! We don’t have any idea how many coyotes there are — the understanding is that population-wise they’re doing just fine — but we do know how many are killed, with the USDA reporting 68,913 killed in 2017. Indeed the USDA is really into it themselves, single-handedly killing 592,328 coyotes from 2010 to 2017. The Governor of New Mexico may soon join California and Vermont in passing a bill that would ban killing coyotes by running them over with snowmobiles for fun, a piece of legislation that technically qualifies as one of the most expansive coyote protection bills in American history. 

David Montero, The Los Angeles Times

Blaze It

The DEA is seeking an incinerator capable of burning one ton of marijuana every two hours, meaning the feds want to bogart 128,000 eighths per hour. Most of the weed will come in the form of bricks and bales weighing 40 to 60 pounds, and given that the contract also requires the incinerator to handle packaging materials like saran wrap and duct tape, the facility presumably must be prepared to handle anything from shakes and stems to primo dank nugs from out west. Drug incinerators run at seriously high temperatures — 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy cocaine, meth or heroin, 1,500 degrees for other stuff.

Justin Rohrlich, Quartz 


Nintendo has been having a stellar couple of years, largely thanks to the success of the Nintendo Switch. All told, 80 percent of its revenue has come from hardware and game sales of the console. Industry analysts are predicting a dip in sales to come — 17.9 million units this fiscal year, to fall to 17.4 million units the following one — which is prompting Nintendo to double down and reportedly launch two new models this year. 

Takashi Mochizuki, The Wall Street Journal

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: 65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite

2018 Sunday Editions: 2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  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