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Welcome to another edition of Stellar Recap, a weekly newsletter where I share my latest explorations, discoveries, and updates. Thank you for being here. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with a friend. If this message was forwarded to you, make sure to follow me so you don’t miss out on future issues 😊.

💎 Stellar Recap 💎

Photo: Ernie (left) and Ji-Young (right). Ji-Young is a new character and the first Asian American muppet on Sesame Street. Credit: AP/Noreen Nasir.

📊 Business, Economics & Personal Finance

  • St. Jude's, one of the largest children's hospitals in the US, may not bill families for cancer treatment but the hospital doesn’t cover what’s usually the biggest source of financial stress associated with childhood cancer: the loss of income as parents quit or take leave from jobs to be with their child during treatment. ProPublica identified more than 100 St. Jude families seeking financial help through the online fundraiser GoFundMe, with half of the campaigns started in the past two years. Last year, St. Jude raised over $2 billion and currently has $5.2 billion in reserves. Only about half of the money they received went to the hospital’s research and caring for patients. About 30% covered the cost of its fundraising operations, and the remaining 20%, or $1 of every $5 donated, increased its reserve fund. Additionally, a substantial portion of the cost for treatment is paid not by St. Jude but by families’ private insurance or by Medicaid, the government insurance program for low-income families. About 90% of patients are insured.

  • Roughly 1.4 million (🔒WSJ) fewer adults between ages 25 to 54 were working or looking for a job compared with the month before the pandemic began. Another survey found that 35% of Black employees and 40% of Asian employees (🔒WSJ) were considering leaving their job compared with 26% of white employees. Leisure and hospitality lead the way once again with nearly a million resignations. CEOs are also resigning. In the first half of 2021, 76 CEOs were appointed at the 1,095 largest public companies from 14 countries, the highest on record.

  • California gas prices hit a new record, reaching an average of $4.682 per gallon as of Monday, 11/15/21.

  • Nationally, there were 575,000 fewer local and state education employees in October 2021 than in February 2020. A net of 65,000 public education employees left the industry between September and October alone. The problem may be wages. The gap in earnings between teachers and the comparably educated workforce was about 21% in 2018. Wage gains of 0.7% during the quarter were just half the 1.5% average for all civilian workers. In some cases, it pays more to work at 🍔 McDonald's.

  • More women are worried about their holiday finances than men this season and consequently, plan to spend 14% less than their male counterparts.

  • The SEC awarded a whistleblower $114 million, the highest amount ever paid to a single individual. So far, the SEC has received 12,200 whistleblower tips and paid out $564 million to 108 whisteblowers (🔒Bloomberg). Opportunities to work from home have made it easier for whistleblowers, who no longer run the risks of getting caught taking pictures of their work computer.

  • Average 🥩 beef prices climbed more than 30% (🔒WSJ) over the past year while pork prices jumped 38% and chicken prices increased about 19%. The cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people increased 14% from last year, averaging $53.31. The turkey 🦃 itself costs 24% more.

  • Celebrities are attempting to cash in on the NFT craze but it hasn't worked out so well. WWE star, John Cena, listed 500 Cena-themed NFTs for sale at $1,000 each but only managed to sell 37 (🔒Bloomberg) of them. Musician Grimes sold 303 NFTs at $7,500 a pop in February for a grand total of $5.8 million, but only one unit that has been resold and at a 84% loss of $1,200.

  • Average annual salaries for registered nurses , not including bonus pay, increased about 4% to $81,376 (🔒WSJ).

  • A majority of US employers expect their group health-plan premium costs to rise roughly 5% in 2022, compared to the typical annual increase of 4%.

  • The S&P 500 Twitter Sentiment Index Series, based on S&P 500 Index, will begin applying a sentiment scoring model to bullish and bearish tweets containing Twitter “$cashtags” (Twitter tags of stock ticker symbols).

  • Grammarly raised $13 billion in a new funding deal. The software company that helps people improve their writing is now the 10th most valuable startups in the US.

  • A survey of workers searching for a job on FlexJobs, a jobs website that focuses on remote and flexible work, found that nearly 50% said they were not applying because the jobs were low-paying and more than 4 in 10 said there weren't enough openings in their preferred profession.

  • Job postings on Indeed.com for logistics specialists and coordinators are up 37% since April.

  • A study by Treasury Department found that the typical child care center has a 😵 profit margin of 1% (🔒Bloomberg).

  • Approximately 1,275 wealthy families paid $9.3 billion in estate taxes, an over 50% drop from 2018--just before the 2017 overhaul of the tax code. Meanwhile American billionaires have doubled their net worth to $5 trillion over the past five years. Estate taxes are estimated to affect just 0.04% of them (🔒Bloomberg).

🎓 Education

  • The percentage of American kids who read for fun on a nearly daily basis dropped from 53% in 1984 to 42% in 2020. The percentage who read never or hardly ever is up to 16%. The numbers are worse as kids get older: the percentage of 13-year-olds who read for fun daily fell from 35% to 17% between 1984 and 2020, and the percentage who read never or hardly ever rose from 8% to 29%.

  • The Wharton School (UPenn) reported that its graduates' median salary reached a new record of $155,000 💵 this year. Duke business graduates reported average salaries of $141,000, another high. Across all business schools in the U.S., the median salary is expected to reach $115,000 this year.

  • Boulder residents stood out for their Google searchers for critical race theory, according to a new project by Axios and Google Trends.

  • Black and Hispanic students who graduated from CUNY between 1999 and 2014 were more likely to fall behind on student debt payments than their white counterparts by age 30. Female students were also more likely to hold student loan debt at age 30 than men.

  • The number of people in active apprenticeship programs in the U.S. has grown 70% since 2011. Construction programs had the most active apprentices (253,520) as of the end of last year.

  • Credit card companies mailed 940 million (🔒WSJ) solicitations to Americans in Q3 2021, up from 867 million the previous quarter and up from 415 million the same quarter a year ago.

  • TV maker Vizio makes more profit from selling users' data and ad space than selling TVs, $53.7 million vs $25.6 million, respectively.

🧘 Health, Well-being & Society

  • Nearly 40% of doctors and 30% of nurses in Lebanon have left the country to work abroad since 2019.

  • Three snow leopards (🔒WP) in a zoo in Nebraska have died of complications from Covid-19 😢. Check out this cute gif of Everest and dorky photo of Ramney. I was unable to find a photo of Makalu, the third cat that died. This wasn't the first instance of snow leopards dying from Covid. A 2.5 year-old snow leopard died from Covid-19 in South Dakota. Many animals have been infected by the virus. In fact, 11 lions and 2 tigers tested positive for Covid at the Denver Zoo. Denver also reported the first known cases of 2 spotted hyenas that caught the virus.

  • The Internet Watch Foundation found a 77% increase in the number of children and teens who sent nude and sexually suggestive photos between 2019 and 2020. LGBTQ+ teens were 3x more likely to send these kind of photos than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.

  • A new study found that at least 50% of people who have had Covid experience health issues six month after infection.

  • A judge ruled that the host of the extreme right-wing media company Infowars, Alex Jones, profited from spreading lies about the families of the Sandy Hook massacre (🔒NYT) and is liable for damages.

  • D.C. neighborhoods historically populated by residents of color (NW and SE) have higher amounts of fine particle pollution and higher rates of disease, where asthma-related emergency room visits were 30x higher than whiter and more affluent areas.

  • Between April 2020 and April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, up almost 30% from 78,000 deaths in the year prior.

  • Nebraska leads the nation in percentage of children under 6 years old with lead in their blood. Colorado had the fifth highest share while Florida had the least.

  • Between 2003 to 2018, 1,231 out of 7,624 independent rural pharmacies in the US closed, leaving 630 communities without any drug store. Consequently, 41 million Americans live in a drugstore desert.

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which oversees the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, handled more than 33,000 texts from August 2020 through May 2021. However, demand exceeded capacity, resulting in 31% of texts unanswered as of May. The demand for text/chat services may be increasing especially among LGBTQ+ youth. The Trevor Project, the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, reported that over 40% of their 150,000 crisis contacts in 2020 were via its text or online instant messaging service.

  • Results from a global survey of people ages 15 to 24 found that nearly 9 in 10 (🔒NYT) said that they sometimes or often felt nervous, anxious or worried and almost 6 and 10 said that young people had more pressure from adults to succeed than their parents did. On the bright side, today's youth are more willing to talk about their mental health than their older counterparts, especially boys and men.

  • Around 6 in 10 (🔒NYT)Americans ages 15 and older believe that children today would be worse off, economically, than their parents. These beliefs aren't completely unfounded. A study from 2016 found that only 50% (🔒NYT) of adults born in 1980 would make as much or more than their parents compared to 92% of children born in 1940.

  • There's a wikipedia called MuscleWiki for exercises that are specific to each muscle that you would like to work out.

  • Self-reported suicide attempts rose nearly 80% among Black adolescents from 1991 to 2019, although there were nonsignificant changes to suicidal ideation. Suicide attempts did not change significantly among their peers of other races and ethnicities. In line with their findings, another study of high school students found that the Black teenagers were more likely than their white peers to have attempted suicide without first having suicidal thoughts or plans. The authors therefore speculated that the screening questionnaires for suicide fail to identify some Black youths who are at risk of suicide, or that there could be additional factors that might indicate a need for intervention.

🌴 Lifestyle & Travel

  • Americans ranked flexibility and the ability to set their own work schedules as the 2nd most important factor for a successful and happy life, following compensation. Last year it was ranked 74th.

  • Over 4 million people have joined the Buy Nothing Project, in response to the record 31-year high inflation. Find a local group or join the Facebook Group here.

  • The cost of certain essentials from the grocery store like a dozen eggs, 1lb of chicken, and potatoes is the most expensive in Switzerland (about $52.95) and cheapest in Djibouti, Moldova, and Paraguay. Cambodia was the least affordable in terms of % of daily salary while the US was the most affordable.

  • National Geographic named Arapahoe Basin, Colorado as the top destination for adventure (🔒) in 2022.

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched 990 investigations into 5,240 unruly incident reports as of November 2021, of which 72% pertained to mask mandates on aircrafts. Compare that with 183 incidences in 2020.

  • The number of people who moved over the past year fell to its lowest level in the 73 years, according to data from the US Census Bureau, contradicting the popular notion that people left cities en masse. In 2021, more than 27 million people, or 8.4% of U.S. residents moved, compared with 9.3% in 2020. Three decades ago, the percentage of people who moved over the past year was 17%. The average person also moved only 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) in 2021, the smallest shift in 100 years.

🗳️ Politics

Pop Culture, Art & Entertainment

  • Sesame Street to debut Ji-Young, the first Asian (Korean) American muppet, in their Thanksgiving Day HBO special called "See Us Coming Together."

  • Around 3,000 Reese's pie-sized peanut butter cups sold out in under two hours after being listed on Monday, 11/15/2021.

  • Frida Kahlo's painting. "Diego and I" sold for $34.9 million, making it the most valuable work of Latin American art ever sold at an auction.

  • The number of people ages 13+ in the U.S. who listen to audio content, including podcasts, audiobooks, and live talk shows, has increased by 40% since 2014, while the share of music and other mediums has decreased by 8% points over the same period.

  • Taylor Swift's new album Red generated 🎶 90.8 million streams in one day.

  • The NYT released their list of 100 notable books of 2020.

  • The guys who invented the popular elementary school game "The Oregon Trail" didn't make a single penny off of the 65 million copies that they sold to educational institutions.

  • Winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have been announced. Which one is your favorite? This one is mine:

  • A developer of the game Fortnite launched a choose-your-own-adventure game Nine Arches on Kickstarter and quickly blew past their $10,000 goal.

  • Netflix started sharing the 10 most watched films and shows around the world. You can also filter by country. Variety noted that these are not ratings but it is an improvement from their previous metric which counted any title that was viewed for at least 2 minutes. The current approach uses aggregate viewing hours.

  • Around 45% of households that buy mac and cheese do not have kids. In November, that percentage was 60%.

  • Posts about quitting jobs are proliferating across the internet, like this viral YouTube video of a former TikTok product manager explaining why she left. There are also more and more groups banding together like on this subreddit Antiwork.

  • Clinique sells a tube of their Black Honey lipstick every 3 minutes. The lipstick was popularized by Liv Tyler as Arwen on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The sudden spike is sales has been driven by the hashtag #CliniqueBlackHoney, which has passed 25 million on TikTok in just a few months. Cosplayer going Lauren.Does.Cosplay got over a half a million views on a video of her simply testing the product.

🏡 Real Estate

  • Median home sales price hit $4 million in the 10 most expensive zip codes in the US. The number of zip codes with median sale prices of $3+ million doubled from last year to 30.

  • International buyers from Latin America, primarily from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, accounted for more than 80% of commercial real estate sales of one of the largest developers in Miami before 2020.

  • Around 725,000 multi-family units are currently under construction, the highest level since 1974. The uptick in multi-family buildings should help alleviate 📈 skyrocketing rent prices.

  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will back mortgages of nearly $1 million (🔒WSJ) for the first time, due to the sharp rise in home prices.

  • Gunther IV, a German Shepard 🐕, inherited a $31.75 million villa on Biscayne Bay in Florida, once owned by Madonna. If you're worried about Gunther, don't be. His main home is in Tuscany and he'll be just fine.

  • Several studies have found that on-line short term rental services, like Airbnb, tend to push up local rents and may displace existing residents. However, a new study suggests that higher rents and greater demand in some neighborhoods may prompt property owners to build more housing--at least, in Los Angeles (🔒HBR).

  • Rent prices for a single-family home in the US increased 10.2% year over year in September, the fastest increase in over 16 years. Annual rent growth for detached rentals was 12.2% in September, compared with 7.8% for attached rentals. Miami had the highest YoY growth with an increase of 25.7%, followed by Phoenix at 19.8%. Chicago had the lowest increase at 2.8%.

  • Real estate investors spent $64 billion to acquire 18% (🔒Bloomberg) of all US homes sold in Q3 2021.

🧪 Science, Technology & Climate

  • An analysis of over 74,000 plots in 9 states in the American West showed that the ranges of multiple species of trees are moving northward, as the continent is getting warmer and drier.

  • ASU shared tips for writing creative nonfiction (starting around 37min in). Start the video around 20 minutes for an explanation of what creative nonfiction is and why it's important for science and policy writing.

  • Turning cameras off during video meetings can enhance workers' productivity and engagement by enabling them to better focus on content and less on how they or others look.

  • The New York City Council passed one of the first laws attempting to regulate the use of automation and AI in hiring. The law would require New York-based employers to conduct a bias audit on automated tools before using them to evaluate job candidates. An estimated 99% of Fortune 500 companies use at least some form of an automated applicant tracking system for screening candidates.

  • A new national poll found that 74% of respondents believe AI will lead to a loss of personal privacy, 71% believe it will reduce employment opportunities, and 60% believe it will increase political polarization.

  • The average audible snap 🫰🏼 occurs in 7 milliseconds, which is about 20x faster than the blink of an eye.

  • The typical person switches between different screens on their phone or computer on average 566x per day (🔒WSJ).

  • Around 14,000 giant sequoia trees have been destroyed in wildfires over the past two years. These trees make up about 20% of Earth's largest trees.

✍️ Writing & Communication

⚠️ ICYMI ⚠️

I debunked some myths about financially distressed couples and their risk of divorce. I also shared tips for finding a good copywriter and how much it costs to hire one.

Wishing you a productive week

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