👋 Hello there,

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 of me at Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, NM in 2019.

📊 Business, Economics & Personal Finance

  • Congress is considering a bill that would put an end to backdoor Roth IRA conversions which are nondeductible after-tax contributions to traditional IRAs that are then converted to a tax-free Roth IRA. They're also considering ending the practice of converting pre-tax conversions for single taxpayers who earn over $400,000 and married taxpayers who earn over $450,000. These rules would apply to inherited IRAs when a taxpayer exceeds a $10 million threshold. These tax loopholes drew a lot of attention this year when ProPublica published an article that explained how the mega wealthy use strategies like these to avoid paying taxes.

  • Apple's ad-tracking changes cost Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter an estimated $10 billion (🔒FT) so far during the second half of this year.

  • An analysis of 858,000 auto loans made by 17 different lenders found that around 25% of borrowers were approved for loans that they can’t afford. About 1 in 12 people with an auto loan or lease were delinquent (90+ days late on payment). Among the delinquent, 46% were underwater (debt exceeds the car's value) an average $3,700.

  • 45% of cryptocurrency owners said that they were more likely to invest in a coin if a celebrity or influencer endorses it.

  • Mobile gaming apps 📱 account for 43% of smartphone use and the industry generated $68.5 billion in revenue worldwide in 2019.

  • According to Elaine Zelby, the interactive art installation called House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe by Meow Wolf cost around $2.85 million to create but generates around $73 million in annual revenue.

  • Latino/a households are less likely than white households to have access to a retirement plan like a 401(k). Consequently, 69% of Latinos/as have no retirement plans and only 8% have savings from an alternate private investment plan. The lack of savings can have cascading effects on their families, given the strong sense of financial responsibility for their loved ones.

  • The value of the cryptocurrency SQUID 🦑 jumped 310,000% in less than two weeks. On October 26, one SQUID was worth $0.012. By Sunday, Oct. 31, the price spiked to almost $2,862 before dropping almost 100% when the anonymous creators liquidated their shares for an estimated $3.38 million.

  • Mentions of "supply chain" by Fortune 500 companies increased 412% year-over-year during Q3 earnings calls.

  • So far, 799 companies have gone public this year, the highest number of IPOs on record.

  • Executor expert, David Edey shared tips on how to pick and prepare an executor for your estate and avoid family conflict on the Retirement Starts Today podcast (20 min.).

  • Stock prices for the car rental company Avis rose 108% on Wednesday (Nov. 3).

  • The owner of the Alvin and the Chipmunks is selling the rights to the franchise for $300 million.

  • Prices for Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers, and Sour Patch Kids may increase by 7% next year.

  • The S&P closed at an all-time high for the 62nd time this year on Wednesday, November 3.

  • US-based startups with one or more female founders have raised $40 billion so far in 2021, which is almost twice the amount they raised in 2020 and 2019. While this is certainly progress, female-led startups only received 18% of total VC investments.

  • A study of 800,000 cars sold in 2016 showed that car values depreciated, on average, 40.1%. The Nissal LEAF depreciated the most over the past five years (65.1%) while the Jeep Wrangler showed the lowest depreciation (9.2%).

  • UPS has a unionized workforce ✊ and this has enabled them to maintain workers while competitors without a labor union like FedEx have racked up $450 million in extra costs due to labor shortages.

  • Global food prices have risen more than 20% (🔒WSJ) since the start of 2021. Global supply chain issues and poor harvest yields signal more price inflation ahead.

  • Gross merchandise sales on Etsy increased by 23.7% year-over-year to $2.7 billion.

  • Tesla's market cap of $1.2 trillion (🔒Bloomberg) is worth more than the combined market cap of all the energy companies included in the S&P 500.

✍️ Writing & Communication

  • A list of writing tools and resources by New York Times bestselling novelist and biographer Jerry Jenkins.

  • Words that are spelled identically but pronounced differently and have different meanings are called heteronyms. For example Mobile (moh BEEL) Alabama versus a mobile (MOH bull) object versus a suspended sculpture called a mobile (MOH beel). Heteronyms are a type of homograph which are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. Heteronyms are different from homophones, which are two or more words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently and have different meanings (like sow and sew). Both are different from homonyms which are words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings (like the verb spring and the noun spring).

  • Tips for writing about marginalized people, including when to use identity-first vs. person-first language and avoiding offensive language around race, disabilities, and gender and sexuality. IMO, these tips should be employed at all times, not just for writing.

Culture & Entertainment

🎓 Education

🧘 Health/Well Being & Society

  • I discovered an app called HabitShare, a social habit tracking app that lets you share your goals with friends and family for extra motivation and support.

  • 📢 Lenovo launched an interactive collaboration to build a future on kindness and empathy. They're inviting people from all walks of life to share their vision of a kinder city by completing the following statement: "The Kind City of the future will..." Respond by November 15 to help shape their 10 founding principles.

  • Police have killed more than 400 unarmed civilians (🔒NYT) during traffic stops in the past five years. Research suggests that these violent incidents are driven by financial incentives. Fines and fees account for 10% or more of a city's revenue in 730 municipalities.

  • A world survey by the Pew Research center found that people in other countries think the U.S. is the best or above average when it comes to technological achievements (72%), entertainment (71%), military (69%), and higher education (59%). Only 33% think the US is above average in terms of standard of living and 66% said that our health care is below average or the worst.

  • The FDA has uncovered multiple instances of metal and mineral poisonings from toxic coloring used on baked goods and candies known as "luster duster." One case involving a cake from Rhode Island used a rose gold frosting that contained 900mg of copper on each slice of cake, which is 1,000 times the daily recommended serving for adults. Another cake in Missouri used luster dust that was 25% lead. No amount of lead is considered safe for consumption.

  • An analysis by ProPublica identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots ☠️ across the country where residents may be exposed to harmful pollutants that are far above acceptable levels defined by the EPA.

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 20,160 people died in motor vehicle accidents through the first half of 2021, the largest increase in deaths since the agency began collecting data in 1975.

  • Covid-19 infections have surged in Colorado and hospitals are running out of beds in both their acute care facilities and ICUs. Less than 10% of beds remain at this time of writing.

  • The FTC found that Amazon withheld an average $422 in tips from 14,000 Amazon Flex workers between 2016 to 2019. Some drivers were owed much more than that. Amazon owed one driver nearly $28,000. There were 19,980 drivers whose payments totaled to more than $600.

  • Isaac Moon (age 12) choreographed and dedicated this performance to his mother and anyone affected by breast cancer.

  • Before the 2008 recession, California had 40 public health labs that tested for infectious diseases and food safety. Today, that number is down to 29 and many are operating without senior leadership. Perhaps this is unsurprising given that lab directors are required to hold doctorate degrees along with specific lab certifications and starting pay is only $19 an hour for recent graduates.

  • A new study on the UK's HPV vaccine program showed an 87% reduction in cervical cancer among young adults.

  • On a recent episode of Vox Conversations (61 min.), Krys Malcolm Belc shared their experience with pregnancy and birth as a nonbinary transmasculine parent and discusses what it's like to navigate gendered assumptions about parenthood.

  • Having trouble sleeping💤? An author from FastCompany recommends the yoga technique to calm your parasympathetic nervous system called the 4-7-8 Method: (1) breath in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, (2) hold your breath for 7 seconds, and (3) exhale for 8 seconds through pursed lips. Repeat this 4 times.

  • More than 600 Denver city employees have received exemptions for Covid-19 vaccines.

  • Results from the 2020 census showed that NYC remains the largest city in the country with 8.8 million residents, followed by LA (3.9m), Chicago (2.7m), Houston (2.3m), and Phoenix and Philadelphia (1.6m). In 2020, only 14 out of 50 of the largest cities in the US were majority non-Hispanic white. Portland, OR, Colorado Springs, CO, and Omaha, NE are among the whitest cities in America.

🌴 Lifestyle & Travel

  • I discovered a company that plans trips to world-class culinary destinations called Gourmet On Tour.

  • The average daily rate for a luxury hotel room in 2021 is $336 (🔒WSJ), up from $303 last year.

🗳️ Politics

  • Support for president Biden is plummeting in the suburbs. Approval rates have fallen 6 percentage points to 44% since the spring while disapproval rates have increase 8 points to 52%.

  • Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado is the third wealthiest member of the U.S. House, at an estimated $306 million in 2017. A report by ProPublica shows how he and other political figures protect their wealth through tax avoidance strategies.

  • A federal lawsuit accuses the National Rifle Association of illegally funding the campaigns of former president Donald Trump and several senators, include former Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.

🏡 Real Estate

  • Two weeks ago, I shared revenue figures from Zillow's house buying program called Zillow Offers. Apparently, their algorithms are not predictive of house prices and purchasing behaviors. Recent analyses showed that 66% of the homes they purchased are listed around 4.5% below their purchasing price. In Phoenix, 93% (🔒Insider) of their homes are below water. The company incurred $381 million is losses last quarter and they still need to sell 7,000-10,000 homes. Consequently, Zillow announced that they are laying off 25% of their workforce and ending the program entirely this week.

  • The best way to market a real estate is to feature pictures of houses over condos, dogs over humans and cats, and outdoor scenery over urban locations. People were also more likely to click on content with images of bathroom appliances, bar stools, refrigerators, dishwashers, wine, and decorative sculptures and plants. Personally, I kind of like when people break from convention, like the person below who is selling their house in Golden, CO (656 McIntyre St.). Their house has been on the market for over a month though...

  • You can be the new owner of the potentially haunted farmhouse 👻 in Burrillville, Rhode Island that inspired "The Conjuring" for $1.2 million.

  • Rent prices are dramatically increasing. Data from Zillow showed a 9.2% increase year-over-year in September and an 8.4% increase in August, while ApartmentList showed a 15.1% increase in September and 12.5% increase in August.

🧪 Science, Technology & Climate

  • Gifted dogs are more likely to tilt their heads to the side when learning new commands, suggesting that head tilting may be related to thinking 🐶 and not just a way to localize sounds.

  • Meta (formerly Facebook) is ending its controversial facial recognition program which probably for the best. An MIT study found that their software exhibited an extremely variable error rate as low as 0.8% for light-skinned men to as high as 34.7% for dark-skinned women. More about Meta--50% of consumers said that they think their decision to rename the company is a stunt to distract from controversy,

  • More than 450 the world's largest financial firms have signed on to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). This is significant if they follow through. Collectively, they control $130 trillion in assets or about 40% of the world's capital.

  • Carl Malamud teamed up with Indian researchers to create a searchable index of 73 million journal articles dating back to 1847. Another database called Lacuna has indexed over 900,000 papers from 2,300 journals and 10 publishers that charge authors a fee for publishing and conduct little to no peer review.

  • One of the latest efforts to teach machines human ethics and values showed, once again, that AI is often just "a firehose of social biases" (🔒Wired). Experts continue to fiercely debate the usefulness and consequences of this kind of research.

  • Researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered a bug in Unicode that enables bad actors to deploy malware in programming languages used in almost every computer and many software development environments. Unicode currently defines more than 143,000 characters across 154 different language scripts and many non-script character sets including emojis.

  • TikTok (59%), Facebook (now Meta; 58%), and Twitter (55%) are the top most distrusted tech companies. Men trust all tech companies more than women. Distrust is also higher among conservatives and people with higher levels of education. People with postgraduate degrees distrust Facebook/Meta (73.2%) more than TikTok (70.9%) and Twitter (66.5%).

  • Security and tech companies are spying on owners through pet cameras 🤢 and they're also selling audio and video footage of owners and their homes to third-party data brokers.

  • A brief history of Bitcoin milestones, from the first white paper published by creator Satoshi Nakamoto on Oct. 31, 2008 to the first bitcoin futures ETF 13 years later.

  • There's a growing market for underground bots that steal people's multi-factor authentication codes. The bots will place an automated call warning the victim of a fraudulent charge. It will then ask the victim to enter a secret pin that has been sent to them to verify their identity. This is when a hacker will simultaneously trigger a legitimate code to platform from the victim's phone.


⚠️ ICYMI ⚠️

I shared 8 facts about Veteran entrepreneurs in celebration of National Veteran Small Business Week (Nov. 1-5). I also researched anesthesia on pets and what it means to veterinarians when you say "Do Not Resuscitate" my pet.


Wishing you a productive week

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