Numlock News: August 29, 2018

By Walt Hickey

I helped out on the new Numberphile about movies vs. the books they are based on, check it out!

Scooters

The same restrictive laws that keep New York City’s sidewalks free of those annoying electric scooters descending on other cities like rechargeable locusts regrettably also blowback on delivery bike users. But a new ruling from an administrative judge may shift the penalties for riding an e-bike to deliver food from the individual driver to the restaurant that employs them in New York. Enforcement has been much heavier on the delivery guys: through July 18, the NYPD issued 805 moving violations to e-bike drivers and only 138 violations to the business that rely on them.

David Meyer, StreetsBlog NYC

Spam

This is seriously a blow to my perceived sense of financial acumen: I thought all those offers I was getting in the mail to get a new line of credit were a reflection of my financial dedication to paying bills on time and paying off that student loan, but apparently literally everyone is getting them and I now feel like an enormous schmuck. In the first half of 2018, lenders mailed out 1.26 billion solicitations for consumer loans, and in Q2 lenders mailed more offers for personal loans than offers for credit cards. Through June 30, there are $125.4 billion in personal loans out there, up from $55.7 billion five years earlier in 2013. That neighbor of mine named “Or Current Resident” gets all the good offers anyway.

AnnaMaria Andriotis and Peter Rudegeair, The Wall Street Journal

The Clap

Tough times for Americans, who are according to the government absolutely lousy with gonorrhea. A new CDC report found a fourth straight year of increases for gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. Syphilis cases are up 76 percent since 2013, gonorrhea is up 67 percent and chlamydia is up to 1.7 million cases in 2017 from 1.4 million in 2013. Here’s the truly terrifying part: four percent of gonorrhea samples were resistant to antibiotic azithromycin in 2017, up from a mere 1 percent in 2013.

Anna Edney, Bloomberg

Gig Work

A survey of 3,318 California residents found 11 percent reported working in the gig economy last year. About half of those workers — who are paid to do miscellaneous tasks, or drive a car for-hire, or deliver items as contractors rather than employees with full benefits — said they were struggling with poverty.

Alex Vandermaas-Peeler, Daniel Cox, Maxine Najle, Molly Fisch-Friedman, Rob Griffin, and Robert P. Jones, PRRI

It’s Me, Dr. Zoidberg, Homeowner!

Owning a home significantly increases turnout in local primaries, a study found, with homeownership causing an esitmated 35 percent increase in local turnout. People are simply more likely to turn out on issues that affect their backyard when they actually own that backyard. Zoning issues, public utility rates, public safety and schools all motivate home-owning voters to turn out more than their renting neighbors.

Richard Florida, CityLab

Bats

Baseball’s most popular bat is now maple, a collapse for ash bats which long dominated the sport. This is due to a number of things: Barry Bonds and his affection for maple, a beetle scourge wiping out 50 million ash trees through 2016, and just the frequent superstitions that regularly motivate player behavior. A vice president for Hillerich & Bradsby — which makes the Louisville Slugger bats for the MLB — said roughly 75 percent of major league players now use maple bats, 20 percent stick with the traditional ash and 5 percent are weirdos who swing birch.

Swiss Bank Tax Fraud

Basler Kantonalbank will pay $60.4 million in penalties after admitting to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government of taxes by facilitating tax evasion for its customers from 2002 to 2012. The $60.4 million will be made up of $17.2 million for the IRS, $29.7 million in forfeiture and $13.5 million in criminal fines. There’s been increased scrutiny of Swiss banks facilitating tax evasion — UBS paid $780 million in 2009 to settle — and at the peak of its U.S. business Basler Kantonalbank has 1,144 accounts for Americans with some $813.2 million stashed inside them. It’s comforting to know that the IRS is willing to follow tax cheats for years and strike like a Bobbit worm in vengeance.

Samuel Rubenfeld, The Wall Street Journal

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