Numlock News: October 13, 2021 • Chinchillas, Militias, Subs v. Dubs

By Walt Hickey


A USDA administrative hearing has concluded with the sole chinchilla research breeding facility in the United States having its license revoked and sustaining $18,000 in penalties following a rash of animal welfare violations that inspectors said were among the worst they’d seen. The facility has around 750 chinchillas and has racked up over a hundred violations of the Animal Welfare Act, and while there are 85 chinchilla dealers licensed by the USDA, the Moulton Chinchilla Ranch was the only one that produced chinchillas for animal research. The animals saw some research uses in hearing research, but over the past four years there were only 36 studies on PubMed featuring chinchillas compared to over a thousand for mice.

Dina Fine Maron, National Geographic


A trove of Facebook documents released by The Intercept reveals the company has banned 986 militarized social movements, a list that highlights how effective Facebook has become for violent militias as an organization tool. What’s more, that’s only “tier 3” of the blacklist, with Tier 1 encompassing hate and terror groups that get users knocked for even praising them, and Tier 2 organizations which are violent non-state actors that can only be praised for nonviolent actions.

Adi Robertson, The Verge


For the first time ever, the FDA has approved an electronic cigarette, specifically the Vuse from tobacco juggernaut R.J. Reynolds, saying that the data submitted by the tobacco company showed Vuse helped smokers quit or reduce use of analog cigarettes. This comes on the heels of the FDA rejecting millions of applications for electronic cigarette products. This decision is for a single product — the Vuse Solo Power device and tobacco-flavored cartridge — and the FDA denied another 10 requests from R.J. Reynolds for other flavors, which I am taking as good news for people who hate accidentally walking through a cloud of bubblegum-scented vape mist while walking around town.

The Associated Press


After 16 days at sea, the James Webb Space Telescope has been successfully delivered to French Guiana in South America from Northrup Grumman in California. First proposed in 1996, the much-delayed $9.7 billion mission has finally arrived to the launch site, where barring further delays it’ll blast off December 18. Shipping the telescope itself was a headache, as officials had to keep quiet the precise route of the climate-controlled custom shipping container for fear of pirates looking to target a truly one-of-a-kind ransom. On September 24, the container was escorted by police in a late-night 26-mile trip through Los Angeles to a waiting French cargo ship posted up at a naval weapons station.

Loren Grush, The Verge


Diversified Energy Co. buys up oil wells that other companies no longer want any part of, holding 61,100 wells as of the end of 2020, the most in the country and considerably more than oil majors like Exxon Mobil (36,900 wells) and Chevron (25,800 wells). The rate at which the company is buying up wells is worrying regulators and industry groups because states require a company to plug a well with cement after it runs dry, and some think the rate that Diversified is paying out dividends and buying up wells means that it won’t have the funds to hold up its side of the bargain once bills come. That could leave states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia on the hook to clean up a mess that could cost billions. Many wells have methane leaks, a ton of which causes 80 times the warming over the next 20 years that a ton of carbon dioxide would.

Zachary R. Mider and Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg

The Kids Are Alright

A devastating blow in the subs vs. dubs war, a new survey has found that just 38 percent of Americans prefer to watch foreign language film content subtitled versus 62 percent who prefer English-language dubbing. The youth remain the future, with a majority of Gen Z respondents — 51 percent of respondents — preferring subtitles to 49 percent who prefer dubs, the continuation of a trend in which the younger the demographic, the higher comfort level with subs. Baby Boomers, raised on Speed Racer and Astroboy, preferred dubs 72 percent to 28 percent; Gen X, with their Akira, preferred dubs 62 percent to 38 percent; Millennials, raised on a steady diet of Toonami, got it down to 55 percent dubs, 45 percent subs.

Sarah Shevenock, Morning Consult

Great Salt Lake

Utah’s Great Salt Lake hit a record low in July, and it could pose a threat to the skiing that defines winter recreation in the state. The lake doesn’t freeze in winter, and when storms blow in, they collect moisture from the lake that gets delivered as snow to the Wasatch Mountains. Current research suggests that the lake effect boosts the snowpack by 5 percent to 8 percent, which is particularly important because Utah gets 95 percent of its drinking water from snowpack. With reservoirs just 47 percent full, that lake effect could be the difference between a drought or no come next year.

Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E News

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