Numlock News: January 22, 2020 • Bribery, Radioactivity, Super Bowl Tickets
By Walt Hickey
The Big Game
Tickets for the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers are selling on secondary markets for an average of $7,100. That’s a sizable hit — half a month’s rent in San Francisco, the way I hear it — but a new offering from StubHub, a ticket re-seller, is set to offer relief to ticket buyers who are considering making an impetuous and foolhardy financial decision. U.S. based customers will soon be able to buy tickets ranging in price from $99 to $17,500 to pay them off with interest. At a 20 percent APR, that average Miami ticket would cost $1,253 per month for six months, so just $420 extra.
The 2019 edition of Boston University’s annual survey of mayors found plenty of conflicting information about how leaders plan to deal with cars in their city. All of these facts are true: 76 percent of mayors agreed that their city was too oriented toward cars, but 60 percent said their city had the correct amount of street parking and a further 27 percent said there was too little. Also, 40 percent said travel for pedestrians is unsafe, and almost half said cyclist travel is unsafe, but 77 percent said their speed limits did not need adjusting. In related news, the 2019 edition of the annual survey of Atari gamers found 76 percent thought their maze was not accommodating enough to Pac-Man, while 60 percent said their maze had the correct amount of ghosts and a further 27 percent said they actually would prefer more ghosts.
Of about 1,000 companies surveyed by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, just 22 percent use basic data analysis to monitor for bribery or corruption. Some companies — AB InBev being one of the latest entrants — go even a step further like the 13 percent of companies that use artificial intelligence or machine learning to find fraud. The savings can be considerable: for InBev, one probe into a third party vendor involved flinging lawyers around the world and racked up $1.8 million in costs, while a more recent but similar probe using the AI set them back just $250,000.
A new study analyzing the creation, production and performance of the top 100 songs in each of the past eight years finds a staggering gender skew when it comes to who is allowed to succeed in the music business. Across the eight years, just 21.7 percent of the artists were women. It’s worse on the production side, as over the eight years studied 12.5 percent of songwriters were female, and over half — 56.4 percent — of songs did not credit one woman on the songwriting team. On the other hand, less than 1 percent of songs featured exclusively female writers. Women made up 2.6 percent of producers in 2019.
The marijuana market in California is, according to some lawmakers, on the brink of collapse, as the excise tax on the drug in the state and the still-thriving illegal market for grass has put the companies that sell the drug legally in an impossible position. A new bill would slash excise taxes on marijuana from 15 percent to 11 percent for three years, and would also table the cultivation tax over the period. The move has been proposed for several years, but takes a new precedence now as 75 percent of pot sales in California come from the black market, and literally the last thing the Democratic Party needs right now is to turn freaking pot dealers into Republicans.
While enriched ores are typically the mental image you get when you think of “radioactive material,” new focus is looking at the brine left over from hydraulic fracking. Radium in brine can average 9,300 picocuries per liter, and has been recorded as high as 28,500 picocuries per liter. The containers that hold and process it — tanks, filters, pipes, pumps, and most concerningly trucks — can accumulate that radium, and concentrate the radioactive material to hit levels as high as 400,000 picocuries per gram. This puts oil and gas workers at risk, as well as the people who transport it. The levels of radium in Louisiana oil pipes can register as high as 20,000 times the EPA limit for topsoil at Uranium mill sites. There are estimated to be over 12,000 brine trucks operating in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and accidents can cause massive problems, as the EPA safe limit for radium for drinking water is five picocuries per liter.
The average organization in the healthcare industry had 0.86 petabytes of data in 2016, a figure that by 2018 rose to an average of 8.41 petabytes, according to the Dell survey. That’s an enormous quantity of sensitive material, with the industry sector behind only the financial industry, the telecommunications business and the IT business. As of 2017, 96 percent of U.S. hospitals had installed or ordered electronic health records, meaning that everyone is sitting on reams of patient data. Naturally, tech firms began salivating and have rushed to cut deals with hospitals for access to this treasure trove, with patients seeing little recourse to removing their own information from the free-for-all.
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