👋 Hello there,

Welcome to another edition of Stellar Recap, a weekly newsletter where I share my latest explorations, discoveries, and updates. I hope you had a happy holiday break 🦃! 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 💎


Source: Neal Freyman, Morning Brew.

📊 Business, Economics & Personal Finance

  • The unemployment rate in Nebraska was 1.9% in October 2021, the lowest of any US state on record since 1976.

  • Prices for Christmas trees 🎄 are expected to rise 10% to 30% this holiday season.

  • Brian Kropp, chief of HR research at Gartner, told Morning Brew that companies should plan for a turnover rate to be 50% to 75% higher on a year-on-year basis than what they’ve been used to.

  • According to data from Adobe Inc., holiday discounts are around 8.7% (🔒Bloomberg) compared to last year’s 13.2%. Among sporting goods, prices are down 2.8% compared to 11.2%.

  • Play Magnus, a publicly traded chess company ♚, reached a market cap of $115 million. The company has 250 employees and 4 million registered users.

  • Roughly half (🔒FT) of America's daily newspapers are owned by large private investment groups.

  • Retailers like Best Buy and Kroger are reporting a spike in "organized theft" where thieves steal entire shelves of high-value products and resell them for profit. The company isn't alone. A 2020 survey of 61 retailers from the National Retail Federation, the industry's largest trade group, showed organized retail theft jumped nearly 60% from 2015 and cost stores an average of $719,548 per $1 billion dollars in sales.

  • The poorest 20% of the US spent about 14% of their household income on diapers in 2014, compared with 3% among middle-income households.. A single diaper can cost $1.50, or when bought in bulk can cost around 25 cents, but people with low income can't afford to buy in bulk.

  • A new study estimated that researchers collectively donated over 130 million hours 😱 of their time to reviewing scientific studies in 2020. Researchers spent an average of 6 hours on each study that they reviewed. Around 3,847,081 submissions were rejected and 4,701,988 accepted.

  • A study by UPS Capital found that 44% of small and medium businesses say they generate over a fifth of total annual sales from holiday deals and sales.

🧘 Health, Well-being & Society

  • This week, the number of Americans who have died from Covid-19 surpassed the total number of deaths in that occurred 2020. According to the CDC, 385,343 deaths occurred last year.

  • About 1 in 10 (🔒WP) eligible American adults waited 6 weeks or more for their second Covid vaccine. If that's you or someone you know, the CDC says that you are NOT required to restart the series but do NOT mix and match shots. That means if you received a Moderna vaccine as your first shot, stick with Moderna for your second. If you got a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as your first vaccines, stick with Pfizer-BioNTech for your second. As for the booster, you can get one now. You do not have to wait 6 months.

  • Women spent an average 2.9 hours more per day (🔒Bloomberg) handling child care than men in 2020, compared with 2.55 hours more in 2019.

  • Around 44% of childless adults under age 50 said they're unlikely or not too likely to have children someday, up from 37% in 2018. In 2021, nearly 1 in 5 Americans between ages 55 and 64 was childless.

  • Food Bank of the Rockies, the largest hunger relief organization in the Rocky Mountain region, reported that inflation and supply chain challenges have dramatically increased the cost of essential foods. A spokesperson reported that they are paying 54% more for vegetable oil, 30% more for canned food, and around 25% more freight costs.

  • The homeless population increased by 40% in the Denver metro area since the pandemic began.

  • Scientists have found another example of person who was "naturally" cured of HIV. Scientists have documented two other incidences of HIV naturally going into sustained remission: one patient in Berlrin and another patient in London.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics reported more than 140,000 children have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid-19. Around 1 in 753 white children lost a caregiver to Covid-19, compared with 1 in 412 Hispanic children, and 1 in 310 Black children. For context, Census data show that about 60% of the US population is white and 40% are non-white but 65% of children who lost parents to Covid-19 are non-white.

  • As of Nov. 18, almost 6.8 million US children have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic, around 142,000 infections occurred just in the past week, up about 32% from two weeks ago.

  • Since 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certified around 6 digital therapeutics--software or digital applications that go beyond mere “wellness” apps. That means thousands of apps operate in a regulatory gray area.

  • The Happier Lives Institutes argued that nongoverment organizations should prioritize expanding access to psychotherapy (particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to improve subjective well-being.

  • Around 62% of Latinos stated that they feel like colorism is an impediment to getting ahead and 59% said having lighter skin is an advantage.

  • A new nonprofit Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions (VETS) aims to provide resources and research to US Veterans seeking psychedelic-assisted therapies. Side note: the word "veterans" isn't capitalized in their Twitter bio, which is counter to the standards outlined in the VA style guide.

  • Public health officials are ⚠️ warning about the Covid omicron variant b.1.1.529 ⚠️, which was first identified in Botswana. The variant has 50 new mutations with more than 30 on the spike protein. Current vaccines were designed using the original strain and may not be as effective on a variant with this many mutations. Many countries, including the US, have begun restricting travel from several African countries (🔒WP) out of an abundance of caution. As of this writing, the variant has been identified in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Hong Kong (🔒Rueters), and the UK (🔒NYT).

  • A single burger made from lab-grown meat requires 50L of serum from fetal bovine. Depending on its age, a single cow fetus can yield around 150-550mL of serum, which means you would need blood from 90 to 333 cow fetuses (17.5 minute video) for a single lab-grown burger. In case you're wondering, there are no health benefits from eating lab-grown beef versus real beef.

  • The US continues to sell poultry that is tainted with drug-resistant salmonella even though the USDA has tools to identify the most dangerous strains. Learn more about the gaps in regulation on Today Explained (26 min.).

🌴 Lifestyle & Travel

  • SUVs and light trucks sold in the US reached 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2020 🫤, a 0.5 mpg increase from 2019. The Biden administration has floated a standard of 52mpg by 2026.

Pop Culture, Art & Entertainment

🏡 Real Estate

  • Excluding the cost of land, the average house built on site costs around $308,597 compared to $87,000 for a manufactured home.

  • Realtor.com analyzed the top cities that workers moved to over the past year using data from LinkedIn and found that Austin TX was the top destination for worker relocations, followed by Sarasota FL, Myrtle Beach SC, Asheville NC, and Nashville TN.

🧪 Science, Technology & Climate

  • News consumption fell 12.4% across the top 10 most visited websites between October 2020 and October 2021.

  • In 2015, 6 out of the 10 most-trafficked websites in Myanmar on Facebook were legitimate media and news sources. That number fell to two legit sources in 2016 and zero by 2018.

  • The most commonly used password on Nordpass was “123456,” which was used 103,170,552 times. Other popular passwords include “123456789,” “password” and “qwerty.” Nordpass calculated that 84.5% could be cracked in less than one second, compared with 73% of the most common 200 passwords of 2020.

  • NYU researchers tested the effect of responding to posters of hate speech with messages warning them that another person they followed was banned for hate speech and asking them to stop. They found that the most persuasive and effective message (which was more politely worded) resulted in a decline in hate speech by 15% to 20% a week later.

  • Amazon employees have exploited access to customer data, from looking up the purchases of exes and celebrities. They've also taken bribes in exchange for this data to give certain companies leverage to crush or sabotage their competition. This news is just one of many stories about Amazon's unethical data practices. Earlier this year, Reuters published several articles about Amazon's lobby practices and how the company used data on Indian merchants to copy their products and then prioritize their Amazon's in-house brand.

  • Weekly usage of TikTok among kids in the US between the ages of 12 and 17 increased 13% year-over-year to 63% while Instagram use decreased 4% to 57%. That's right, there are now more teens on TikTok than Instagram but YouTube still remains the top platform at 72% weekly usage.

  • Speaking of TikTok, money expert Tori Dunlap explains how she grew her followers on the platform to 200,000 in just a few weeks and another 1.2 million a few months later. As of this writing, she has over 1.8 million followers. Her tips include posting at least 3 times a day to gain traction. Each post should be educational, entertaining, and/or aspirational and save most of the text limit in the caption for popular hashtags (5 million+).

✍️ Writing & Communication


⚠️ ICYMI ⚠️

I explained how small business owners can use the SMARTER framework for strategic planning and achieving business goals. I also shared 10 ideas for supporting Small Businesses on Small Business Saturday. Even though Small Business Saturday has already passed, there are still some good nuggets in there for anyone who is looking for holiday gift ideas. You may also want to check out holiday gift ideas to support small businesses and holiday gift ideas for clients and colleagues.


Wishing you a productive week

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