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Cocktail Waitresses at Foxwoods Casino Fighting Against High Heels

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Cocktail Waitress High Heels

Waitresses at a Connecticut Casino are fighting for their rights to wear shoes of their choosing.

The shoe dispute is among a few issues set between the casino and Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents about 365 Foxwoods workers including 200 beverage servers.

Contract talks for the UFCW have been going on for two years. For the waitresses, concerns of the casino tightening its shoe requirements is at the top of the list of issues.

The hearings set for September are also expected to address differences over wages, health insurance rates and preferential treatment for tribal employees, reports Fox News.

Foxwoods is massive property in southeastern Connecticut that is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Foxwoods, employs about 8,000 people, and has been facing a steady decline in revenue and is also negotiating a deal to try to reduce its debt of $2.27 billion.

Foxwoods recently gave up on a policy insisting that waitresses wear two-inch heels, but the casino still wants its servers to wear polishable black shoes, subject to approval by management, according to union members cited by AP.

According to union representative Keri Hoehne, servers could be exempt with a doctor’s note for up to a year, but would then have to resign or take another position.

One waitress, Cheryl Haase has been serving cocktails at the casino for more than two decades. “Most of us girls have been here for 20 years, 15 years. This job has really done a number on our feet and they know it,” Haase said.

A Connecticut podiatrist, Dr. Eric Levine of Norwich, said he treats casino waitresses who come to him with painful conditions. “Several have told me they’re not going to stop wearing them,” he said. “The higher the heel, the larger the tip.”

Foxwoods Casino Cocktail Waitress

Haase said she wears black clogs after a doctor urged her to stop wearing narrow-toed shoes preferred by the casino, but she worries she would have to switch back if the casino has its way.

Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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Microsoft Bets $1 Billion On OpenAI’s Ambition To Harness The Human Brain In Tech

Microsoft is getting in bed with OpenAI, and the price tag is worth $1 billion.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash. on July 15, 2019. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Global market leader for computers and technology, Microsoft, bets $1 billion on OpenAI, Elon Musk’s, and Sam Altman’s brainchild that aims to establish a research laboratory focusing on developing a technology that would imitate and mimic human brain function.

OpenAI was conceived by the two billionaires three years ago, and since then, it has been gaining support from the tech community for its ambitious projects. According to a press release from Microsoft, the goal of the partnership is to “accelerate breakthroughs in AI and power OpenAI’s efforts to create artificial general intelligence (AGI).”

Furthermore, Microsoft aims to extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems, and they believe that the partnership will usher such advancement. The resulting enhancement of Azure’s capabilities will help their developers in creating and designing new generations of Artificially Intelligent applications.

Microsoft said that the partnership will see both Microsoft and OpenAI working hand-in-hand to build new Azure AI supercomputing technologies and that Azure will become OpenAI’s “preferred partner” to commercially distribute its AI applications.

“OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, which it will use to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence,” reads the press release.

“The companies will focus on building a computational platform in Azure of unprecedented scale, which will train and run increasingly advanced AI models, include hardware technologies that build on Microsoft’s supercomputing technology and adhere to the two companies’ shared principles on ethics and trust. This will create the foundation for advancements in AI to be implemented in a safe, secure, and trustworthy way and is a critical reason the companies chose to partner together.”

It is interesting to note that the partnership seems to imply that there will be an exclusive relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft amidst Musk’s intention for his company to“freely collaborate” among other AI researchers and to make his works and patents available to others.

Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch said that amidst this exciting development in OpenAI’s strategy, there are still several caveats. “OpenAI Inc. the non-profit organization, and its for-profit corporate subsidiary OpenAI LP, and that its current charter includes a provision that it may reduce the public publishing of its work as it moves forward out of “safety and security concerns,” he wrote.

The continuous development of technology and the effort of humankind to harness the power of human brains have brought upon generations of applications and have led to constant AI breakthroughs in areas such as vision, speech, language processing, translation, robotic control, and even gaming. And Microsoft said that artificial intelligence has since been solving world problems because “the hardest problems facing the world today will require generalization and deep mastery of multiple AI technologies.”

It is, according to Microsoft’s press release, the goal of both OpenAI and the tech giant to solve multidisciplinary problems that the world is facing right now such as climate change, more personalized healthcare, and education through accelerated advancement in AI research.

“AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world’s most pressing challenges,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By bringing together OpenAI’s breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI — while always keeping AI safety front and center — so everyone can benefit.”

Similarly, OpenAI believes that its partnership with Microsoft has the potential of reshaping the world. “The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said Sam Altman, CEO, OpenAI.

“Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we’re working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we’ll build AGI. We believe it’s crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed. We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision.”

At its launch, OpenAI noted that it had $1 billion committed from Musk, Altman and co-founder and CTO Greg Brockman, as well as Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services, Infosys and YC Research, though it did not anticipate spending that much in the ensuing few years.

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There’s A Flame-Throwing Drone You Can Buy, And It’s Completely Legal

The flame-throwing device can actually be used for industrial purposes other than burning people to the ground

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Throwflame

An American company from Ohio called Throwflame is selling a drone attachment that allows users to spew fire in the air; it may not be the safest idea, but it can serve a practical purpose.

The flame thrower attachment is called TF-19 Wasp and can easily sound like a nightmare waiting to happen. The TF-19 Wasp gets its name from nature’s very own venom-stinging insect that could inflict pain with a single poke.

Throwflame sees that their latest product responds to a growing market need and can serve as an industrial solution in many applicable ways other than the morbid idea of burning people randomly—still a possibility.

According to an interview with Quinn Whitehead, Throwflame’s founder, by Gizmodo, people can purchase the attachment for recreation, agricultural use, and lighting stuff with limited access.

Throwflame calls TF-19 Wasp a “game-changer for clearing vital infrastructure, igniting remote vegetation, and eliminating pests.” But the flying fire dispensers are also useful for “nest elimination” and to “clear debris from power lines” with the convenience and safety of “remote ignition of aerial and ground targets.”

The company even said that the drone attachment could be used in domestic settings such as lighting barbecues to clearing the garden of weeds or cats.

More significantly, people have been attaching flamethrowers to drones for years now, and power companies do use them to clear trash and debris off of high voltage wires. It’s safer and more efficient than sending a human up in a cherry picker to pull off the garbage, Gizmodo reports.

“It’s definitely a unique concept,” Whitehead says in an interview with Gizmodo. “But any new technology is a little bit scary at first. You think back to when drones first got commercialized and popularized—they were cheap enough for the average person to buy—there was a lot of concern about privacy issues and people flying them all over the place, and swarms of drones blocking out the sun. But in hindsight, it’s kind of an overreaction I think.”

Comparatively, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company started the idea of recreational flame throwers with its Not A Flamethrower, a handheld fire-spitting gun, that gained popularity among younger consumers and has made an appearance in popular YouTube channels such as David Dobrik’s and Jeffree Star.

According to Musk, all of the 20,000 Not A Flamethrower guns offered were sold out. Meaning, there are 20,000 people with flamethrowers in their homes but, so far, we haven’t heard anyone use it to harm others intentionally.

Meanwhile, Throwflame said that only half of its customers pick up their products for recreational purposes, while the other half use them for agricultural work or lighting stuff where access is limited by foot or vehicle.

Throwflame even assured customers that their product is federally legal and is not considered a weapon and users are still required to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in addition to local ordinances.

The company’s FAQ says that “Flamethrowers are legal and unregulated in most counties. Chances are, we can ship to you.”

As of the moment, the four-pound TF-19 Wasp flamethrower drone attachment is available for purchase to the general public for $1,500. According to the company, the device can easily hold up to a gallon of tank fuel that should last users 100 seconds of firing time with a 25-foot (7.62m) range.

It burns through a mixture of petrol and diesel, although the company also offers napalm thickener – one scoop per gallon of 50:50 petrol-diesel mixture.

The company also offers a napalm-compatible standalone flamethrower called XL18 for more intense tasks. It provides a 100-foot (30m) range and can carry up to 3.3 gallons (12.5 liters) in its tank but will come at a higher price tag amounting to $3,000.

Depending on the drone used, users can have a visual input on their remote controls for farther distances and other hard-to-reach locations.

Furthermore, the device can convert your existing drones into a flame thrower menace or purchase the company’s recommended drone, which is a DJI S1000, which the basic kit costs another $1,500 but can go as high as $5000 for a full kit.

Throwflame says it’ll soon begin selling fully-assembled drones for $1,000 to $10,000, depending on what customers are looking for.

Orders placed on Throwflame’s website will ship in 2-4 weeks. The company will also build customized drone packages but will take an extra 1-2 weeks to accommodate the customization for user requirements.

“The WASP will be available for purchase on July 18, which is the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Fire of Rome under Emperor Nero in [the year] 64,” Whitehead said.

And if you act fast, Throwflame’s throwing in a free shirt for the first few purchases.

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Netflix Investing In Originals Amidst Second-Quarter Loss

Netflix originals are starting to pay off for the streaming giant despite the subscriber loss in the past quarter.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Netflix reported a tremendous loss in its subscriber growth based on the latest second-quarter report of the year, which price increase, the brewing streaming wars, and lulling content all contributed to the streaming company’s plummet. However, Netflix can’t do anything about the first two problems; hence, it’s putting more money in its original content instead.

According to the quarterly report, Netflix lost 130,000 subscribers from the United States—a first for the streaming platform since 2011. Furthermore, only 2.7 million paying customers globally were added in the second quarter, which is not a small number but falls way behind the projected 5 million users.

Netflix stocks dropped by more than 10 percent before the market closed on the day the report came out—equating to around a $17 billion loss from its market value, analysts say.

Notably, the subscriber count loss can mainly be attributed to the price increase the streaming giant implement — an increase from $1 to $2 — which was announced at the start of the year that went into effect a few months after.

The platform is also looking at an imminently decreasing range of content that it can offer to its loyal subscribers, as the streaming wars begin to bleed Netflix dry and consequently, its subscribers in the process.

Specifically, the streaming giant is facing a large problem in its home country due to the looming oversaturation of streaming sites that will soon be available for all US citizens.

WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple are all launching their own streaming services within the next few years, and they’re bringing their original content with them and taking them out of Netflix.

In recent reports, Netflix will soon be losing several heavily watched licensed series including fan favorites, and most watch TV series Friends and The Office to competitors WarnerMedia and NBC Universal respectively.

In perspective, Disney+ will be involving Hulu and ESPN in its list of available services on top of successful production houses such as Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel for the general price of only $6.99 a month. Netflix’s basic plan is currently at $9.

Meanwhile, WarnerMedia is also launching HBO Max that will certainly feature pop culture icons such as Game of Thrones.

If more than anything, both products could easily persuade US customers in subscribing to their service and away from Netflix.

As of the moment, Netflix has over 60 million paying subscribers in the United States, and the company is confident that it can get that number climb up to 90 million.

However, with the streaming wars looming, Netflix is not taking any chances and are already looking at solutions. Primarily, the streaming giant is looking to get more original content on its platform.

Now, there are permanent studio sets that have been purchased for Netflix to produce films and TV shows faster. It is also putting lots of money behind US shows and movies, signing hundred-million-dollar deals with high-profile showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.

Based on recent reports, the effort is paying off as Netflix continues to break records with its original movies and TV shows. One, in particular, was the recently released Murder Mystery movie that featured the tandem reunion of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston. According to Netflix, who seldom releases viewership statistics, it grossed over 73 million views from household accounts worldwide — more than Netflix’s entire US base.

Stranger Things 3, a Netflix original series that launched in Q3, attracted 26.4 million unique viewers in the first four days of its release in the United States. It was “the most-watched Netflix original series [that] we’ve ever analyzed,” according to Nielsen data.

There’s also more in store this quarter with one of its biggest shows, Orange Is the New Black returns for its final season with Season 7. Variety said that the all-women prison drama series have at least accumulated a massive 105 million users that have watched an episode of the show.

Related: Netflix Originals Is Going Asian

Netflix is also looking to expanding its demographic outside the US and into other markets like Asia and Europe. Thus, it plans to continue ramping production of more original content to cater to these new customers.

Three shows in particular: How to Sell Drugs Online (Germany), The Rain (Denmark), and Quicksand (Sweden) have all found big audiences outside of their native region.

Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr., the chief content officer for Netflix, said that each show has garnered around 12 to 15 million global viewers and that “they’ve been deeply relevant in the home country, and travel the region very, very well.”

In its letter to shareholders on Wednesday, Netflix said that while its US paid memberships were “essentially flat,” the company expects it to “return to more typical growth” in the third quarter. It expects to add another 7 million subscribers in Q3.

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