Numlock News: October 12, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Have a great weekend!

Top Publishers

Facebook, a personal information auctioneer that also serves as a Hobbesian clickbait crockpot, is a dominant traffic source for oodles of publishers that rise to the top, if only for a month or two at a time, by cracking the algorithm. Take the top publishers on Facebook in 2018. Sure, you’ve got some usual suspects in the top six: the BBC, New York Times, CNN and Fox News. But in the top two spots, with tens of millions of engagements, are UNILAD and LADbible. These publishers are a pair of content churners slinging good feelings and emotionally charged stories. They’ve been handsomely rewarded by the algorithm with 32,506,735 and 28,932,947 engagements, respectively, in the month of September alone, with just 1,599 articles published between the two of them. Who could have thought you could make a fortune throwing “Chicken Soup for the Soul” in a centrifuge with a splash of saccharine and posting it on a marketer-run directory.

Gabriele Boland, NewsWhip

Oyster Shells

In New York City, over 70 restaurants that serve oysters participate in the Billion Oyster Project and donate the empty shells to a harbor restoration project. The empty shells are cleaned, then student-grown oyster larvae are added and attach to the shells. A reclaimed shell can house upwards of 10 fledgling oysters. These oysters are introduced into artificial oyster reefs in New York Harbor, which we all know is disgusting. Not only do the oysters go on to filter and improve water quality, but the reefs also serve as a living breakwater that reduce erosion and can prevent damage during heavy storms. The project has led to 28 million oysters in 9 oyster reefs.

Andrea Strong, NPR

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson reportedly landed a $15 million payday to helm a standalone film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the same pay secured by Chrises Evans and Hemsworth for their star turns in the Captain America and Thor movies. Marvel Studios disputes the figure — a “Black Widow” movie hasn’t even been announced — but should Johansson’s compensation even be in that ballpark, it’s a big moment for actresses in the MCU. Talent deals accounted for about $100 million of the budget for this year’s Infinity War.

Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter

Saudi Arabian Lobbying

Turkey claims to have evidence that Saudi Arabia played a key role in the disappearance and possible murder of a journalist, an allegation denied by the Kingdom, which is nonetheless having widespread policy and political blowback. One firm advising the Kingdom ended its contract following the reports. In 2017, Saudi Arabia spent upwards of $27 million on registered foreign agents in the U.S., three times as much as it spent in 2016, and this year the country has already spent at least $6 million.

Julie Bykowicz, The Wall Street Journal

Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. This weekend’s Sunday special is all about the complex factors of the global economy that led to a stock market — nah, I’m just kidding, we’re talking Fat Bear Week.

Vaccinated Kids

As of 2017, 1.3 percent of children born in 2015 had not received any of their recommended vaccinations. That’s more than four times the level for 19- to 35-month-olds in 2001, which was 0.3 percent. That breaks down to roughly 100,000 children under the age of two who are not at all protected against 14 serious illnesses preventable through widespread immunization. The lack of vaccinations is more severe in rural areas (2 percent of two year olds) and among the uninsured (7 percent).

Lena H. Sun, The Washington Post

Travelling Turtles

A new study finds that leatherback turtles travel through the waters of as many as 30 different countries. Another study tracking 1,648 animals from 14 different species —sharks, turtles, basically the cast of Finding Nemo — found a similar wanderlust, with the animals visiting the waters of 86 percent of Pacific Ocean countries over the course of their migrations. Right now, diplomats are negotiating agreements regarding how best to protect vulnerable sea animals that don’t stick to a single jurisdiction.

Erin Van Rheenen, Hakai Magazine

Oil and Water

The Permian basin — which is in west Texas and New Mexico — is the juggernaut of oil and gas production worldwide. But this leading to some serious environmental concerns, ranging from pollution to greenhouse gas emissions. One effect the boom is having is on the water supply. At the end of August, 80 public water systems in west Texas were encouraging or mandating reduced water use due to drought. But oil and gas companies — when fracking and drilling — are using unprecedented volumes of water. In 2011, 6.8 billion gallons of water were used in the Permian Basin in oil and gas extraction. In 2017, that rose to 58 billion gallons. In 2023, it’s projected that 130 billion gallons of water will be used. That could have consequences for both the public and the industry, and the absence of data or a state agency policing groundwater use doesn’t help.

Kiah Collier, The Texas Tribune, and Jamie Smith Hopkins and Rachel Leven, Center for Public Integrity

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Previous Sunday special editions: 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

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