By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend! We’re off Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, see you Tuesday!
Viva Las Vegas
Las Vegas has had a historical culture of clubs, casinos and high-end establishments giving a kickback to cab drivers who haul customers there. The process began in the 1950s and became widely used by the 1980s, and in 2011 a federal judge dismissed a case alleging that the kickbacks from strip clubs to taxi drivers constituted racketeering. The point of the payoff is when some traveler says, “take me to a casino,” taxi guys will go to the places that help them out. High-end places would pay $80 per head, and with the growth of rideshare a new generation of drivers is wising up to the idea that large strip clubs will throw $50 per drop-off their way in a quid-pro-quo. The growth of Uber and Lyft could pose some relief to the clubs; one operator said his club pays 55 percent of its revenue to kickbacks.
A set of email addresses and passwords compiled from many individual data breaches from thousands of sources made its way to a popular cloud service, and the collection is sobering: 12,000 separate files with 87 gigabytes of data, a 2,692,818,238 row database of email addresses and passwords, with 772,904,991 email addresses and 21,222,975 unique passwords in the list. Many of these are likely old combinations, but the set is strikingly pervasive and of the 2.2 million people who use a free notification service regarding if their data was involved in a breach, about 768,000 were affected. But with 21 million passwords affected, that means that all the good ones are basically taken off the map forever now. Farewell, “p@ssword,” “admin,” “abc123,” and “420blaze.” It was an honor.
A grimy tradition still defines the way business is done in Japan, with more than 63,902 hostess clubs as of 2017 doing business and catering to businessmen attempting to party with colleagues after work. The practice of adjourning to sexually-charged bars with employees and coworkers on a regular basis has caused severe problems for women in the workplaces of Japan, and in other countries as well: South Korea also estimates it has 13,316 sex brokers in the country, with 57 percent operating as hostess bars.
I Volunteer As Tribute
The Kutztown Police Department put out a public call for three volunteers willing to come in and serve the cause of justice by drinking hard liquor past the point of inebriation so officers can learn how to administer sobriety tests. Public service of this nature inspired a sense of fervent duty for hundreds of volunteers, many of whom have been training their whole lives for such a chance to step up and do their part to make the world a better place.
They Know What??
A new study from the Pew Research Center found that 74 percent of Americans did not know that Facebook keeps a personalized list of traits and interests and then uses that dossier to sell ads. When shown those lists, 59 percent of people said that they were accurate, and half (51 percent) said they were uncomfortable with the existence of such a list. For what it’s worth, there are still some severe accuracy issues: of the respondents who had been assigned to a cultural affinity group — African American, Hispanic or Asian American — a full 39 percent said the social network sorted them wrong. And a strong congratulations to the 11 percent of respondents who managed to so completely throw the scent off to the point that Facebook did not think they actually had any categorizations.
The Kids Are Not Right
A new frequent survey from Pew has found that Gen Z — those individuals born after 1996 — tend to have political beliefs and cultural attitudes consistent with the millennials that preceded them, but even more interesting is that millennials are basically in ideological lockstep with their successors rather than getting more conservative with age as some previous generations did. All told, 70 percent of Gen Z and 64 percent of millennials said the government should do more to solve problems, compared to 49 percent of Boomers. This was even true of Gen Z Republicans: 52 percent said the government should be doing more to solve problems, contrast that with 23 percent of Boomer Republicans.
Football Is Not Insurable
According to Outside the Lines, the NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma. Insuring the punishing sport has always been hard — only one carrier is willing to cover workers comp for teams — but the insurance industry’s aversion to getting in the messy business of insuring children who play football is fundamentally changing the viability of the sport at the amateur level: Pop Warner, which oversees 225,000 youth players, was dropped by AIG who refused to provide coverage unless neurological damage was excluded. Some schools are doing away with football as it becomes uninsurable: Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona cut the sport at four schools after teams consisting of 358 players accounted for a third of insurance costs for 200,000 students. The large insurers are skittish to have skin in the game after events like the long tail of asbestos, which after a half-century of litigation is a $1.8 billion annual payout from the insurance industry to those affected. That means insuring the game goes to powerful boutique firms. Specifically, the one run by Cindy Broschart, the woman who insures the NFL and is seemingly one of the most powerful people in professional sports.
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