Numlock News: August 15, 2019 • Sports, Back to School, NULL
By Walt Hickey
A California security researcher who cheekily selected the custom license plate of “NULL” paid the price for that when he was hit with oodles of traffic tickets intended for other motorists. When an officer forgets to fill in the license plate of an offender, the database system codes that cell as “null” or not containing any value. Factor in a state contractor enforcing the actions and the DMV being the sole defense between this man and these tickets and you can quickly see why Joseph Tartaro was at one point facing $12,049 in traffic fines for actions he almost certainly did not do, unless his Nissan Infiniti is in fact a Transformer. Some chit chatting with the DMV got that down to $6,262 as of last weekend, and once there was a Wired reporter on the other end of the line that dropped to $140 pretty quick. I would say that the lesson here is that official legal databases are hardly the place for tomfoolery, but I am also legally a marriage officiant in the city of New York because of an internet church, so glass houses and what not.
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, only 38 percent of kids aged 6 to 12 in 2018 played a team sport on a regular basis, down from 45 percent a decade earlier. One reason is the spiraling cost of youth sports. The Aspen Institute conducted a survey and found the average amount spent on a sport was $692 per child in a given year. Respondents were significantly above medial household income, leading researchers to suspect that the high price of playing official youth sports was driving away financially disadvantaged kids. The cheapest sport analyzed was track & field, at $191.34. Among the large sports with pro leagues, youth baseball cost $659.96 annually, basketball cost $429.78, tackle football cost $484.57, and ice hockey cost $2,582.74. Thanks to travel teams, youth sports has become a $17 billion industry.
Researchers found that the Biostar 2’s database was unprotected and unencrypted, granting the security analysts access to 27.8 million records, and 23 gigabytes worth of data. I’d say that those affected are advised to secure and change their passwords, but in this case they’d be fairly hosed: Biostar 2 is a biometric lock system for secure entrances to office buildings and warehouses in 1.5 million locations worldwide, one that uses facial recognition and fingerprints that are inextricably linked to employees as keys. The exposed data included fingerprints, facial photos, facial recognition data, unencrypted passwords, clearances and personal details.
The average American is using more and more data per month on their internet. In 2012, the average household use 37.8 gigabytes per month, which by 2015 hit 111.5 gigabytes and today stands at 270.0 gigabytes per month. Nevertheless there are powerusers, who by cable company terms use more than a terabyte of data or more each month. Binge enough shows on a 4K television or maybe go all Daedalus on the home server and you, too, can join this vaunted set, many of whom shell out a lot of extra money because they blew past their cap. Last year, only 2 percent of internet subscribers consumed a terabyte of data per month, but in the first quarter of the year 4 percent did. How do they do it? Well, the top 10 percent of Altice USA subscribers had an average of 30 devices connected to the internet. I’d judge, but I recently resorted to naming my devices after Pokemon so as to keep them all straight. I wrote this on Gengar.
Back to School
Yes, the kids are going back to school, but the date range of back to school is drastically different nationwide. This week, 29 percent of U.S. students went back to school, but 14 percent went back to school earlier in August, and a full 23 percent won’t go back until after Labor Day. A sampling of 509 public school districts found that schools in the central south — from Kentucky to Texas — go back in mid- to early August, the Pacific, Midwest and South Atlantic go back mid-August at the earliest through Labor Day, New England goes back mostly August 26-30, and the Middle Atlantic, where I am from, starts school after Labor Day, the correct time of year.
Parental leave is a massive issue in the U.S., which does not enjoy the same protections and worker rights as many other nations in the OECD. One in four employed women giving birth in the U.S. is back at work within two weeks, and only 9 percent of worksites offer paid paternity leave. In the U.S., 76 percent of fathers are back at work within a week of the birth or adoption of a kid. And while 84 percent of dads plan to take some sort of leave, unpaid or possibly paid, only half think their employer would support it and a third think it’ll negatively impact their career. That stigma is a problem when it comes to parents taking necessary time off.
Global tourism is a double-edged sword: on one hand, the explosive growth in international travel is a financial boon to countries and places with richly preserved natural resources and experiences, often giving them the financial capacity to maintain those sites. On the other hand, tourists can also undermine the stability of those areas by their very presence. In 1950, there were 25 million international tourists, which by 1970 rose to 183 million, which then doubled by 1998. In 2017 there were 1.3 billion tourists who generated $1.7 trillion in spending. That will rise to 1.8 billion tourists by 2030, all of whom will presumably spend their entire vacation shambolically meandering on the subway platforms I use at an incredibly slow pace, if history is any guide.
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