Stellar Recap | Feb 19-25
FEB. 26, 2023
👋 Hello there,
Welcome to another edition of the Stellar Recap, a weekly newsletter where I share interesting content you may have missed over the week. This issue features 77 bullets.
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📊 Business, Economics & Personal Finance
Workers voluntarily left their jobs 4.2M times each month, on average, in 2022 (🔒WSJ), up about 20% from 2019. ID led the nation with the highest overall quit rate in Dec. Meanwhile, CO led the nation with the largest rise in quits at +26% while VT saw the largest drop in quits at -33.3%.
Japan is spending $7.5B over the next 5 yrs. on reskilling programs that will provide its workers with job coaches, education, and job placement services. The World Economic Forum estimated that half of the world’s workers may need reskilling within the next 2 yrs.
Wages rose faster last year than in the previous 2 yrs. (🔒WSJ), but not as much as prices across major advanced economies.
According to estimates by the IMF, the West’s sanctions caused Russia’s economy to contract by 2.2% in 2022, far less than the 8.5% that the global economic body predicted back in Apr. 2022.
8 out of 10 of the highest-earning college majors (based on salaries 5-yrs. after graduation) are engineering-related. Chemical engineering was #1.
An analysis by Preqin shows that there are 30K+ hedge funds around the world (🔒FT), which is more than the number of Burger King and Taco Bell locations.
Natural gas prices in the US have dropped more than 65% since mid-Dec. (🔒WSJ). Last week, prices hit their lowest level since the pandemic lockdown.
Among large US cities, the Denver metro area saw the largest spike in grocery prices, which rose 2% from Nov. 2022 to Jan. 2023 compared with the national rate of 0.7%.
Just under 3% of US workers who said they were retired in Jan. 2022 returned to work a year later (🔒WSJ). If sustained, the latest drop in "unretirements" could mean that lower labor-force participation among older Americans is a postpandemic fixture rather than a phase.
Stanford University will raise undergrad tuition by 7% for the upcoming academic year, citing inflation. This is in addition to the 4% tuition increase last year. Tuition alone will now cost ~$62K/yr. The total cost of attendance including room and board will be $82K+.
US consumers reported losing $8.8B to scams last year, which was $2.6B more than in 2021. The number of people who reported scams fell from 2.9M to 2.4M over that same period, which means that the average victim lost more money to scams in 2022.
Pensioners in Western Europe enjoy the longest and healthiest retirement periods. The Americas, by contrast, have some of the shortest.
The share of the US disabled population with a job averaged 21.3% in 2022, the highest level on records dating back to 2008.
Scientists in S. Korea developed a cheap, urine test strip that can detect pancreatic and prostate cancer with 99% accuracy.
A new report from Millennium Health found that nearly every person that tested positive for fentanyl last year also had signs of other substances including methamphetamine and heroin, marking a 60% increase over 2019 and an all-time high.
New findings showed that Hispanic and Black veterans’ wait times for specialty healthcare services rose more than White veterans’ wait times.
As of Feb. 23, #ozempic, #ozempicweightloss, and #ozempicchallenge had a combined 785M views on TikTok, but this trend has left the drug in short supply for patients with type 2 diabetes.
Doctors in training prefer specialty residency programs instead of primary care positions. Last year, 930 family medicine and internal medicine residency positions in the US went unfilled and from 2012 to 2020, just 1 in 5 physicians who completed a residency were practicing primary care 2 yrs. later.
Johns Hopkins will shut down its Covid tracker dashboard on Mar. 10. The site drew 2.5B users over its run.
A new study of 8,250 older adults over 4 yrs. identified 8 social factors that were associated with early death: 1) poor neighborhood cleanliness, 2) low perception of control over their financial situation, 3) meeting with children less than yearly, 4) not working for pay, 5) not active with children, 6) not volunteering, 7) feeling isolated, and 8) perception that they are treated with less courtesy or respect.
The FDA is fast-tracking an mRNA vaccine for melanoma (a deadly skin cancer). The most recent trial showed that the vaccine, which is made by Moderna, reduced melanoma recurrence by 44%.
A new study suggests that immunity acquired from a Covid infection is associated with a roughly 90% lower risk of subsequent hospitalization or death from reinfection for at least 10 mo. That’s on par with the protection provided by 2 doses of an mRNA vaccine. Vaccines are considered safer given the risks of complications from direct infection from Covid.
A Cochrane review concluded that “Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of laboratory-confirmed influenza/SARS-CoV-2 compared to not wearing masks.” Note that the review included 78 studies. Of which only 6 were conducted during the Covid pandemic. How you interpret this evidence may depend on where you start.
🎓 Lifelong Learning
To mark the 25th anniversary of James Cameron’s Titanic, scientists made public never-before-seen footage of the Titanic’s wreckage from when it was first discovered in 1986 (1 hr. 22 min. video).
There’s a considerable age gap between male and female characters in popular US films.
The original voice of the early GPS belongs to Karen Jacobsen, an Australian singer and voiceover artist.
🌴 Lifestyle & Travel
The average daily rate on Airbnb has spiked 36% since 2019. Company execs said they’re working to bring prices down even as they announced Airbnb’s first-ever profitable year.
Data from Yelp showed that 25% US states, including DC, experienced decreases in their share of searches between 2019 and 2022. DC exhibited the largest decline at -26% while SD showed the largest increase at +56%.
The US National Travel and Tourism Office estimated that 62.8M international visitors will come to the US this year, up 21.2% over last year. That’s still less than the 79.4M who visited in 2019.
🗳️ Politics, Security & International Affairs
Former US president Jimmy Carter entered hospice care. At 98, Carter is the longest-living president in US history. Carter remains one of the country’s most beloved presidents.
At least half of eligible student loan borrowers in every US congressional district applied for or were automatically approved for the student debt relief plan before it was challenged in US courts.
Thousands of people remain missing and 11 have been confirmed dead one week after Cyclone Gabrielle lashed New Zealand’s North Island (🔒Reuters).
Another strong earthquake struck southern Turkey and NW Syria, killing another 6 people and injuring at least 294. The total death toll has climbed above 50K.
TN became the first state to restrict public drag performances (🔒Reuters). Republicans have advanced similar bills in at least 14 other states.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last Mon. that Russia is suspending its participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty, its last arms control agreement with the US. Since 2011, the New START treaty has limited the size of each participating country’s long-range nuclear weapons arsenal and allows other countries to conduct nuclear inspections.
American voters across the political spectrum have grown increasingly skeptical of the news media. Independents showed the largest increase in unfavorable views, which rose from 48% in 2020 to 66% last year.
Severe flooding from heavy rains has killed at least 44 people in Brazil (🔒Reuters) since Feb. 18. Around 2K people were forced to evacuate.
US officials believe China may be providing Russia with nonlethal military assistance in its war against Ukraine, including parroting Russian disinformation campaigns.
The European Commission barred staff from using TikTok on their work phones for security reasons. All employees must comply by Mar. 15.
Republican legislators in Lee County, FL, passed a resolution to ban the Covid vaccine. The resolution will now head to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk. He could ignore it if he chooses.
⏩ Pop Culture, Art, Sports & Entertainment
At a VIP art event in Miami, a woman tapped a $42K balloon dog sculpture by artist Jeff Koons, causing it to shatter into thousands of pieces (🔒NYT).
Following a licensing disagreement with its local partner, Activision Blizzard shut down operations in China on Jan. 23, locking out an estimated 3M Chinese World of Warcraft players.
Yelp user data showed that consumer interest in pickleball in 2022 increased 275% since 2019, more than all other hobby categories.
Major League Baseball increased the size of its bases from 15” to 18” to reduce injuries and increase the number of stolen bases in the game. In 2012, there were 4,365 attempts to steal a base, a figure that fell to 3,297 attempts last year.
11% of Americans admitted to streaming or downloading pirated content such as tv shows, movies, or live sport events in 2022.
Clarkesworld Magazine, which primarily publishes science fiction stories, temporarily shut down its submission page after a massive surge in AI-generated submissions - more than 500 in Feb. compared with its baseline of around 25. Clarkesworld offers $0.12/word for fiction between 1K and 22K words.
The movie Avatar: The Way of Water involved 1,065 different delivery versions of the film, including 2D, 3D, HDR, 4K, 51 subtitled languages, 28 dubbed languages, and several different aspect ratios and lighting levels. For context, a standard Marvel movie involves around 500 which is also considered a lot.
Former film producer Harvey Weinsten was sentenced to 16 yrs. in prison for raping and sexually assaulting a woman in 2013 in Los Angeles County. The sentence adds to the 23 yrs. Weinstein is serving in NY after his conviction there in 2020.
R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 20 yrs. in prison for child sex crimes, including 3 counts of coercing minors into sexual activity and 3 of producing sex tapes involving a minor. 19 of those years will be served concurrently with his existing prison time, meaning only 1 yr. gets added to the end of his previous 30-yr. sentence.
🏡 Real Estate
For the first time in records dating back to 1975, in Q4 2022, there were more single-family units built for rent than units built for sale.
Over 25% of office space in San Francisco sits empty and the city is facing a potential $728M deficit over the next 2 fiscal yrs. due to lower-than-expected property tax revenue.
US home sales fell for the 12th straight month in Jan. (🔒WSJ), the longest streak of back-to-back monthly declines on records going back to 1999. Consequently, mortgage applications fell to the lowest level since 1995.
The largest waterfront residence on Davis Island, FL, was listed for sale for a whopping $23.9M. If it sells for that price, it will become the most expensive home in Tampa Bay.
This Aspen, CO, home is on the market for $100M. If sold at this price, the house could be the most expensive single-family home ever sold in the state.
The total value of U.S. homes fell 4.9% to $45.3T at the end of 2022 from a record high of $47.7T in Jun.
Nearly 1 in 3 US homes were purchased with all cash in 2022, an 8% increase over 2021. The WP created maps showing the share of homes bought with all cash (🔒) in the largest metros.
9 out of the 12 richest neighborhoods in the US are located in FL, with Star Island, located in Miami Beach ranked as #1. The median home value there was $40.2M in Dec. 2022.
Between 2012 and 2022, the average value of a house in a majority-Black neighborhood grew in value by $122.5K. For houses in neighborhoods where most of the inhabitants are non-Hispanic whites, the increase over the same period was $230K.
One of the most expensive homes in the world is for sale. It’s a 13 bed, 13 bath, exclusive home on the island of Mustique in the Caribbean. Yours for $200M.
Nearly 1K NYT contributors + tens of thousands of subscribers and readers signed an open letter protesting the publication’s coverage of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people.
Hong Kong, S. Korea, and Japan are expected to have the highest share of people aged 65+ by 2050.
The Church of England announced it will explore alternative words to describe God, after some clergy asked to use more inclusive language in services.
1 in 4 Americans aged 25 to 34 lived with parents or older relatives as of 2021 (🔒WSJ), the fastest-growing segment in multigenerational households. Most of this group is adult children moving back in with their parents, but a significant number of older adults are moving in with millennials.
In 2022, the number of fluent speakers of First Nations languages in British Columbia, Canada, declined from 4,132 to 3,370 speakers since 2018. On the bright side, the number of learners is up over 20% from ~14K to ~17.1K.
23% of US adults are part of what is being called the “sandwich generation” (🔒Forbes) meaning they care for aging parents and young children.
🧪 Science, Climate, Environment & Technology
The company Blue Origin (which was founded by Jeff Bezos, the former CEO, current chairman, and founder of Amazon) claims to have discovered a way to turn moon dust into solar panels, a feat scientists have been trying to do since astronauts first brought the stuff back to Earth.
Meta introduced a subscription service for Instagram and Facebook that allows users to purchase blue badges that marks them as verified, after confirming their identity with a government-issued ID. The price of the service starts at $11.99/mo. and will first launch in Australia and New Zealand.
A new study found that just 9 out of 116 AI professionals in popular films, like Iron Man and Ex Machina, are women.
The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland will stop listing Russian and Belarussian colleagues’ affiliations on co-authored papers. The dispute has kept hundreds of manuscripts in limbo between the preprint stage and formal publication as peer-reviewed articles.
As of Feb. 15, just 6% of the Great Lakes’ surface was covered with ice compared with a historical average of 41%.
The Bureau of Land Management has purchased 54M lbs. of seeds over the past 25 yrs. but the agency estimated that, in order to restore the land it oversees, it will need another 1B lbs.
An American, human player beat a computer in the game Go (🔒FT) in 14 out of 15 games, with the assistance of software that identified the bot’s weaknesses.
An analysis by Reuters found that at least 200 ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle credit ChatGPT as either the author or coauther (🔒). Amazon doesn’t require authors to disclose the extent to which AI helped them write their books, so the number could be much higher.
Parts of Los Angeles were under a blizzard warning last week. Nationally (mostly in the West and Midwest), at least 75M people were under winter weather alerts. Meanwhile, the southeast experienced record highs. More than 3 dozen warm temp. records were set or tied there on Thurs.
Since Jan. 1, nearly 5.6K warm temp. records have been tied or broken in the Lower 48 states compared with less than 3.9K cold records. Looking over the past 365 days ending Feb. 22, about 83K warm records vs. 43.2K cold records were set or tied. Of those, 510 records were all-time warm records compared with less than 100 all-time cold records.
Almost half of products cleared so far under a new US federal ‘biofuels’ program are not, in fact, biofuels. According to records obtained by ProPublica and the Guardian, the production of one of the fuels could emit air pollution that is so toxic, 1 in 4 people exposed to it over a lifetime could get cancer.
Tropical Cyclone Freddy made landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar after traveling more than 4K miles across the Indian Ocean since forming on Feb. 5 near Indonesia. Freddy broke the record for all-time accumulated cyclone energy (a measure of the storm’s strength over time) for the Southern Hemisphere, as well as globally.
Wishing you a productive week
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