Oct 17, 2021
4 mins read
Illustration Credit: Undraw
📢 I'm excited to share that I will be reviving the Digital Gems section of the Stellar Recap.
In case you're new or don't remember, I started the newsletter in the spring to test the Revue platform. I paused the project after 12 issues when I experienced several frustrating product design issues that hurt my productivity. Since then, I've been exploring alternative options like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Substack. This is an ongoing exploration but to share some insight, I find all three platforms fairly easy to use but there are some limitations with each that have left me undecided. For example, with Mailchimp, you cannot schedule your email messages to automatically send at a specific time and date without a subscription. The subscription is only $9.99 a month but it doesn't really make sense for me to pay for a subscription right now since I'm still in experimentation mode. ConvertKit is a strong alternative but you cannot copy and paste into the message composer (as of this writing). I am the type of writer who needs a word editor so this is a serious turnoff. On the other hand, ConvertKit is the only platform out of the four listed above that enables you to A/B test your content (although the feature is somewhat limited with the free tier). Lastly, regarding Substack, the platform has attracted an impressive community of writers and their content is polished. It's kind of intimidating and makes me want to refrain from sharing personal notes in my newsletter.
For now, I am looking for a space where I feel unencumbered which is why I've turned to Buy Me a Coffee. BMAC is a creator-centered platform that enables users to share public and private (i.e., supporters only) posts with their community of followers. The user interface is minimal and intuitive. I can both copy and paste into the text editor and schedule posts. Perfect.
🙏 With that said, thank you for following me on my journey and sticking with me through my experiments with different platforms. Without further ado, I present a recap of some the interesting content that I consumed this week.
💎 Stellar Recap 💎
Business & Economy
Nearly half of U.S. households that warm their homes with natural gas can expect to spend 30 percent more on their heating bills compared with last year.
Work requirements for social safety net programs do not appear to improve economic self-sufficiency, while substantially reducing benefits paid to program recipients. (VoxEU)
Nearly 40 percent (WSJ 🔒) of U.S. households are experiencing financial difficulties as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Amazon's algorithm prioritizes in-house products over competitors in search results. Knowing only whether a product was an Amazon brand or exclusive could predict 7 out of 10 cases whether Amazon would place it first in search results.
The Stanford University Graduate School of Business produced the most unicorn founders compared with peer MBA programs: 3 unicorn founders per 1,000 MBA alumni, followed by Harvard Business School (1.6) and Berkeley Haas (1.4).
Sales of white slip-ons made by Vans has increased 7,800 percent increase since Squid Game premiered on Netflix.
The unemployment rate dropped below 5 percent for the first time since the pandemic began toward the end of February 2020. However, the labor force participation rate for women continued to decline, falling to 57.1 percent in September. The rate for men increased to 70 percent.
Rich countries contribute an average of $14,000 per year for a toddler’s care, compared with $500 (NYT 🔒) in the U.S.
Forecasts for U.S. house prices are all over the place. Goldman Sachs economist Ronnie Walker projected U.S. house prices increasing another 16 percent by the end of 2022. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, on the other hand, are currently forecasting an increase of around 9 percent over the same period. (CalculatedRisk Newsletter)
Rents are up 9.6 percent nationwide in 2021. In Denver, where 51 percent of households are renter-occupied, the average renter spends around $1,824 which is 11 percent higher than a year ago. Not so bad when considering how much rents have risen in the most expensive cities.
Homeowners will begin seeing substantial increases in insurance premiums due to climate change, particularly for homes along the coasts. In states like Florida, FEMA's new pricing structure could increase premiums by thousands of dollars.
Public Health & Healthcare
Aggression and violent crime increases on days with higher air pollution. (Herrnstadt et al. 2021)
Enrollment in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral nursing programs is up 5.6 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. This influx of students couldn't come at a better time. Nursing faculty is projected to decline 25 percent by 2025 as current nurses retire or leave the profession.
Between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, over 120,000 American children have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid-19 (NYT 🔒). Just over 22,000 lost a secondary caregiver or a grandparent who provided housing. Children of color were disproportionately represented among the bereaved.
The original anti-vaxxer. (41 min. podcast)
Culture & Philosophy
Conspiracy. (42 min. podcast)