The Daily Valet. - 4/2/24, Tuesday

Tuesday, April 2nd Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
I may be an “elder millennial,” but I’ll never shy away from a DIY challenge.

Today’s Big Story

Gen Z Takes on the Trades


More young workers are going into toolbelt trades as disenchantment with the college track continues


There’s a lot of chatter about AI in the workforce these days. Sure, chatbots and other machine learning technologies might be hailed as the next holy grail, but there are some things ChatGPT can’t do—install a carpet or fix a home’s plumbing, for example.

America needs more plumbers and other tradespeople … and Gen Z is now answering the call. After being seen as somehow “less than” for years, skilled trades are newly appealing to the youngest cohort of American workers—many of whom are choosing to leave the college path. Rising pay and new technologies in fields from welding to machine tooling are giving trade professions a face-lift, helping them shed the image of being dirty, low-end work.

Growing skepticism about the return on a college education, the cost of which has soared in recent decades, is no doubt making that blue collar look a whole lot shinier. “At this point, the problem is clear: Skilled trades offer opportunities that young people are eager to explore, but they need more encouragement and support to get started,” one hiring exec told Fast Company. It seems to be catching on.

According to the Wall Street Journal, enrollment in vocational training programs is surging as overall enrollment in community colleges and four-year institutions has fallen. The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges rose 16% last year to its highest level since the National Student Clearinghouse began tracking such data in 2018. The ranks of students studying construction trades rose 23% during that time, while those in programs covering HVAC and vehicle maintenance and repair increased 7%.

While parents worry that their kids might not have the same earning potential as college grads (which is not always unfounded), there’s a lack of overall understanding about the earning potential of certain trades. The majority of our respondents don’t believe that tree maintenance, landscaping or plumbing businesses can earn over $1 million in revenue per year. But they can (and do). According to Jobber’s survey of more than 200,000 service professionals, 60% of tree care businesses and 65% of landscaping businesses achieve those earnings.

Oh and my joke earlier about generative AI? It’s increasing prominence is apparently actually changing the career calculus for some young people. The majority of respondents Jobber surveyed said they thought blue-collar jobs offered better job security than white-collar ones, given the rapid growth of AI.

Who Knew:
A recent study by labor analytics firm Burning Glass Institute found that roughly half of college graduates end up in jobs where bachelor degrees aren’t needed.

The Incognito Mode Myth Has Fully Unraveled


Is anything ever really private on the internet?

If you still hold any notion that Google Chrome’s “Incognito mode” is a good way to protect your privacy online, WIRED says now’s a good time to stop. Google has officially agreed to destroy or de-identify billions of records of web browsing data collected when users were in its private browsing “Incognito mode,” according to a proposed class action settlement filed Monday.

The proposed settlement in Brown v. Google will also mandate greater disclosure from the company about how it collects information in Incognito mode and put limits on future data collection. If approved by a California federal judge, the settlement could apply to 136 million Google users. The 2020 lawsuit was brought by Google account holders who accused the company of illegally tracking their behavior through the private browsing feature. According to court documents, employees warned management in 2013 that they needed to “simplify” the Incognito splash page, warning that users could draw “incorrect conclusions” from it. Then in 2019, Google’s Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill emailed Chief Executive Sundar Pichai that Google’s “really fuzzy, hedging language” regarding its Incognito mode “is almost more damaging.”

The class action lawsuit, originally filed in June of 2020, follows a string of complaints over the past few years regarding how Big Tech collects data on users. CNET says players like Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon have all been hit with data mismanagement lawsuits. For tech companies, individual tech and data points are incredibly valuable, especially for targeted advertising. Aggressive data collection may exceed users' expectations of privacy, which was at the heart of the Google lawsuit. And more data collected likely means more data for cybercriminals to steal in another inevitable breach.

The private browsing mode feature was first introduced in 2005 by Apple Safari. Three years later, it was followed by Google Chrome's Incognito.

The Final Four Schedule Is Set


Never-before-seen college basketball fairytales set to converge at the NCAA tournament

Somebody up there must really like college ball. Has to. The basketball gods aren’t just smiling on the Final Fours this year—both men and women—they are giving them big bear hugs. Let’s put the Final Fours next to one another to explain.

The men. Defending champion and rampaging Connecticut made it, with dazed tournament victims scattered behind in its wake. NC State will kick things off with Purdue in the first game of the day on April 6. While UConn is attempting to become the first team since the 2007 Gators to win consecutive NCAA Tournaments, Alabama has never been here before. The Crimson Tide reached their second Elite Eight in school history and will play in their first Final Four this season.

The women. Unbeaten South Carolina made it. The Gamecocks will be there with its 36-0 record and its championship pedigree and a remade lineup that has flexed the same old muscle. All the starters are gone from 2023, but the more things changed, the more they stayed the same in Columbia. Then there’s Connecticut vs. Iowa. Paige Bueckers vs. Caitlin Clark. They met as freshmen in 2021 in the Sweet 16. Clark scored 21 and Bueckers scored 18, but it was the Huskies who rolled on 92-72. Now they meet again. Clark has been on a rocket ride into the stratosphere in fame. Bueckers has had to fight her way back from knee injuries. Could it get any better?

Dig Deeper:
The Ringer looks closer into the winners and losers of the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

No Shame in Kirkland Vodka


Can a spirit be both ubiquitous and underrated?

When it comes to drinking, there are plenty of cases where opting for a premium alcohol brand will give you a truly transcendental experience. But these days, there are also some stunning bargains to be had—including the moment a few years ago when Aldi’s house brand Scotch earned impressive marks. But whisky isn’t the only case of a store brand spirit leaving experts amazed by what they’ve just sipped. In a new article for Slate, Scott Nover chronicled the phenomenon of vodka enthusiasts gravitating towards an unlikely choice: Kirkland Signature vodka, Costco’s in-house brand. So much for snobbery.

What makes Kirkland’s vodkas so tantalizing is not merely that they’re a grocery store steal—priced between $10 and $25 for a cartoonish 1.75 liters of spirit, with no other size options. It’s that these spirits come with a mixed-in spice of intrigue, mystique, and lore. Connoisseurs (and anyone who puts them to a taste test, really) consider them legitimately good. Kirkland Signature American Vodka was not merely in a Wirecutter review for the best vodka, which was written by Haley Perry, a former bartender. It earned the top spot, a “unanimous favorite.”

As Tasting Table points out, the labeling is plain and product sources are often shrouded in mystery, but the sales are surging. In fact, Costco has become one of the world's largest alcohol purveyors. Many hypothesized the French-made vodka was a rebottling of Grey Goose, noting similarities in taste and texture. However, the famed distillery publicly denied such claims. Kirkland's distillery operates in the same Cognac region of France, utilizing similarly sourced well water, which is why the finished vodka takes on such a reminiscent palate. Not bad for ten bucks, right?

Did you know that you can use vodka to deodorize clothing? Mad Men's costume designer shared that fact with us years ago.


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Morning Motto

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