Numlock News: August 24, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Paid subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. This Sunday: all about that weird mattress store in your town that inexplicably exists, and the enormous changes overhauling who sells you your bed.


A security audit found that 26 percent of government officials in Western Austrialia had weak or common passwords. The analysis found that 1,464 people had the password “Password123” and 813 simply used “password1” out of 234,000 officials. If you’d like to weigh in on this, I can be found at a new email address I just gained access to,

Taylor Telford, The Washington Post


Harley Davidson has a problem — well, several problems — but the main one is that the motorcycle brand is struggling to reach a new generation of consumer. An industry analysis found only a quarter of motorcycle riders are between 25 and 40, and only 14 percent are women. This is one reason the company is looking abroad for sales. In 2006, 273,210 Harleys were sold domestically, and 75,980 internationally. In 2017, 144,890 were sold domestically and 96,610 internationally, for a combined total less than strictly domestic sales a decade ago.

Claire Suddath, Bloomberg Businessweek


Playgrounds got boring. In the quest to ensure across-the-board foolproof playgrounds that could not injure children, their design became fundamentally uninteresting for those very same children. A Philadelphia architect surveyed 16 London playgrounds made of a variety of surfaces like sand, grass, water, and paved ground that allow for “riskier” play like climbing and swinging. Those playgrounds saw 53 percent more visitors than the ultra-safe American playgrounds and kids were 18 percent more physically active.

Tanvi Misra, CityLab

Film vs. Digital

In 2017, 92 percent of the top 100 grossing films were shot at least partially with a digital camera, with 82 percent exclusively so. That’s up from 12 percent in 2006, when only 4 percent were shot exclusively digital. Some directors — like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino — have remained staunch loyalists of film, while others — like Robert Rodriguez and James Gunn — have switched staunchly to digital. This is also a genre thing: basically all horror films are shot on digital now, while film is still the medium for about a fifth of all dramas.

Damar Aji Pramudita, The Pudding

Medicare for All

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 84.5 percent of Democrats and 51.9 percent of Republicans would support a policy of Medicare for All in the U.S. healthcare system. The precise implementation of that policy credo is a bit fluid, but the gist is about 70 percent of Americans look favorably on offering some sort of baseline medical care in the U.S.

Letitia Stein, Susan Cornwell and Joseph Tanfani, Reuters

Overdraft Fees

Representative Duncan Hunter, who was accused of illegally using a quarter of a million dollars of campaign money in a 47-page indictment, allegedly overdrew his bank account 1,100 times in a seven year period. This — which is an actual nightmare I have always had — resulted in $37,761 in overdraft fees and happened at the rate of three overdrafts every week for seven years.

Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post


Fewer than 20 percent of patients who have brain tumors resulting from melanoma survive one year with traditional treatments, but a new trial of 94 people treated with a combination of two drugs (ipilimumab and nivolumab) found 82 percent survived a year. This year there are expected to be 91,270 new cases of melanoma and 9,320 deaths from the disease, so any new treatment for the difficult cancer is encouraging news.

Denise Grady, The New York Times


An analysis of 65,000 listings added to Airbnb for the week ending June 16 has found that — compared to a similar week in 2017 — professional listings of year-round rentals that are owned by hosts who never live in them are on the rise. Last year, 24 percent of new listings were “dedicated entire homes,” compared to 27 percent this year. The other major categories — homes that are rented out for parts of the year when the owner isn’t around, and private rooms in occupied homes — saw slight declines in inventory share, respectively.

Cory Weinberg, The Information

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Previous Sunday special editions: Conspiracy Theorists · Beaches · Bubbles · NYC Trash · Fish Wars · Women’s Jeans · Video Stores

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