Numlock News: September 30, 2021 • James Bond, Fat Bears, Baseball Cards

By Walt Hickey

PFF

Pro Football Focus, a data and analytics firm that supplies to all 32 teams and about 95 percent of the Power Five college programs, got a $50 million investment in exchange for a minority stake to fund an expansion into soccer analytics sometime next year. The company is owned by Sunday Night Football commentator Cris Collinsworth, and the service — which details the actions of every player on each play in a database that facilitates outcome predictions for teams — has also had a splash with consumers like fantasy football players, gamblers, probably all the Numlock subscribers who enjoy sports, and pretty much anyone employed by an NFL program that isn’t the New York Giants.

Jason Kelly, Bloomberg

Makin Islands

Local legend in the Makin Islands in Kiribati places the origin of three colossal boulders in the shallows as the result of three giant waves that carried huge rocks into their shore, in retribution for a delivery of rotten fruit to a king. Turns out that actually pretty much checks out! The three boulders — one 22 meters in circumference, one 18.5 meters, and one submerged 39 meter stone — are called Tokia, Rebua and Kamatoa and are made of coral. Dead coral can be dated owing to the constant amount of uranium that living coral extracts from seawater, and a new analysis puts the date of arrive at most likely 1576, well within the extent of oral history.

Chris Baraniuk, Hakai Magazine

Fat Bear Week

Katmai National Park in Alaska is home to about 2,000 bears, and every year those bears eat a lot of salmon in anticipation of winter, and for the past several years the park has boasted of their enormous, stuffed bears through a wonderful social media competition called Fat Bear Week. It’s a delight, but it’s also really useful to get eyes on the bears to help monitor their appetites to ensure they’re ready for winter. Naturally, it’s rather tough to get them on a scale, but because they’re just so big pre-hibernation the park has recently begun to rely on lidar, a system that emits beams of light to measure three-dimensional objects to clock their mass at a distance. All it takes is three to 11 seconds to scan the bears, which lets them estimate the weight with promising degrees of early success.

Kylie Mohr, High Country News

Insiders

A new analysis of the market performance of people with internal knowledge of the inner workings of companies reveals that, gosh, they sure are coincidentally pretty good at stock picking! CEOs beat the S&P 500 by 4.1 percent, directors by 4.8 percent, and other directors by 5 percent, according to TipRanks, which evaluates just how good people with insider knowledge of the workings of companies are at picking stocks. One group at Citigroup published a paper finding that a strategy mirroring the trades of people with insider knowledge of companies could yield 23.5 percent per year, which is great news given the 82,000 people in the country, who qualify as an insider by owning 10 percent or more of a company, are sitting on the board or working as a senior exec.

Liam Vaughan, Bloomberg Businessweek

Trading Cards

After cinching deals with the unions representing MLB, NBA and NFL players this past summer out from under established players like Panini and Topps, the company behind Fanatics Trading Cards is now valued at $10.4 billion following a new Series A round. Trading cards are booming right now, and while Topps and Panini will continue to have the rights for a number of leagues up to 2026, the Fanatics offer was too good to turn down. Right now, leagues and unions own stakes worth 14 percent of the company that will one day produce trading cards based on their players.

Andrew Beaton, The Wall Street Journal

International Man of Guaranty

The new James Bond film is projected to make $80 to $100 million from 50 different international markets this coming weekend as No Time To Die drops around the world. The film debuts in North America on October 8. It’s the fifth and final appearance of Daniel Craig as James Bond, and the home turf of the United Kingdom looks to be very promising for the film, where it’s expected to open to $20 million. The No. 2 and No. 3 film in the history of the United Kingdom are Craig’s Bond outings Skyfall and Spectre. It’s incidentally the longest Bond movie ever made at 2 hours, 43 minutes, so more like Plenty of Time To Die, am I right?

Pamela McClintock and Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter

I Can Fix Him

Researchers in New Guinea have found evidence that ancient humans may have spent a lot of time in close quarters with the cassowary, one of the most dangerous and aggressive birds in the world and pretty much the closest you’re going to get to a living dinosaur. Anyway, the findings show that early humans may have attempted to domesticate cassowary chicks to near adulthood, clearly a rocky moment on the path to domesticating chickens. It’s possibly the earliest attempt to breed birds, and first attempts being what they are, found that 11,000 to 9,000 years ago the rock shelter cache contained lots of fragments of cassowary eggs that were nearly fully developed eggs, evidence of hatching.

Asher Elbein, The New York Times

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