Numlock News: March 27, 2019

By Walt Hickey

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Duke? The Universally Beloved Place Of Higher Learning? That Duke?

Duke University will pay $112.5 million to the U.S. government to settle allegations that, from 2006 to 2018, the university knowingly submitted claims to federal agencies for grant money that subsidized falsified research data. The University claims it discovered the alleged misconduct when the technician was sacked for embezzlement in 2013. The result so far is 17 retractions for the researcher whose attorney is linked to the fraud. The whistle-blower who alerted the government will now receive $33.75 million, because honesty pays.

Bill Chappell, NPR

Deep Breaths

People who can spend long amounts of time underwater holding their breath are of great interest to physiologists who try to understand how the human body operates at extremes. Sometimes this is about big achievements — the longest breath hold is 24 minutes, the freediving record went 253 meters down and held his breath for over nine minutes. Among a group of sea nomads known as the Bajau who live in Southeast Asia, it's not about the length or the depth of the dive, but the sheet time spent underwater. On average, the divers spend an average of 28 seconds underwater, then 19 seconds recovering, and then they go back underwater. That might not sound impressive at first, but becomes, frankly, Atlantean in achievement when you realize that dives last five hours!

Sushma Subramanian, Hakai Magazine


The three bestselling fiction writers of all time are William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and Barbara Cartland. The fourth bestselling fiction writer is Danielle Steel, who is both still alive and also gets absolutely no respect despite being, from a numbers prospective, the most successful writer alive. She's sold 800 million copies of 174 books. She's made the New York Times bestseller list 32 times, and the only one even in her ballpark is Stephen King, who appeared 38 times, and gets a whole lot more acclaim and interviews in the literary press than Steel.

Kelsey McKinney, Written Out

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Small theaters across America are struggling to survive, as everything from entertainment options outside of the theater to industry consolidation at the production and distributor level threaten the mom-and-pop movie theaters of the U.S. There are way more than you’d think. Three chains control about half the screens, AMC (20 percent), Regal (18.1 percent) and Cinemark (11.3 percent). Another fifth of screens belong to cinema chains who have been between 150 and 1,000 screens across the country. But a full 31.6 percent of the market is the smaller chains that have fewer than 150 screens, and they’re in trouble: outlets had less than four screens made up of 16 percent of cinemas in 2013, a number that has since fallen to 11 percent.

Brett Lang and Matt Donnelly, Variety

Young Republicans

In a somewhat concerning sign from 2015 to 2018, support for laws aimed at protecting LGBT people fell from 74 percent to 63 percent among Republicans under the age of 30. A 9-point swing in three years is fairly substantial, but the Public Religion Research Institute’s assessment of the swing is mainly due to people under the age of 30 who would have identified as Republicans in earlier years instead exiting the party. It is worth noting that those who support LGBT protections remains a majority, but even so, despite the universally observed effect of older people being less cool with stuff, a larger percentage of Democrats aged 65 and up (69 percent) favor protections than the 18 to 29 year old Republicans.

Heather Murphy, The New York Times, and Daniel Greenberg, Maxine Najle, Oyindamola Bola, and Robert P. Jones, PRRI

Herd Immunity

Rockland County, New York has declared a state of emergency after 153 cases of measles were reported there. Only 72 percent of children under 18 in Rockland County were vaccinated, a routine and entirely safe procedure that would have easily prevented this dangerous outbreak. The outbreak in Rockland has been concentrated among children of Orthodox Jewish families, many of whom attend private schools where the vaccination rate is at an unsafe low level.

Julia Jacobo, ABC News


Teacher pay has been flat, if not dropping, for years. Adjusting for inflation U.S. teachers make $27 less per week than they did in 1996. Compensation varies wildly — New York teacher make, on average, $80,000 while Oklahoma teacher make less than $40,000 on average — but what is clear is that wages for teachers have cratered compared to comparable workers: public school teachers make 18.7 percent less than similar workers with college educations, and even factoring in the benefits they make 11 percent less than peers.

Dylan Scott, Vox

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