Parasite in cat poop linked to entrepreneurial behavior in people

Business Insider (07/25/2018)
  • A university study involving 1,495 students found that those infected with Toxoplasma gondii were 1.4x more likely to study business and 1.7x more likely to become entrepreneurs.
  • Humans get infected with T gondii by coming into contact with cat feces or consuming contaminated meat or water.
  • Very few infected people demonstrate any symptoms (muscle aches, swollen glands).
  • 22% of the students tested positive.
  • Studies have shown that people with elevated levels of T gondii are less averse to taking risks.

The Decade Dominated by the Ultraluxury Condo

The New York Times (01/10/2020)
  • During the 2010s, real estate developers flooded NYC with high-end residential skyscrapers.
  • These new developments were targeted towards wealthy, all-cash foreign buyers increasingly looking to diversify into US assets.
  • However, demand started to cool around 2015 as the global economy became more volatile.
  • Nearly half of all condos listed after 2015 remain unsold.
  • The luxury condo glut is also driven by overpricing, with the average new condo +118% more than the average resale.
  • In 2009, the average new condo was only 9% more than resales.

Raising The Minimum Wage By $1 May Prevent Thousands Of Suicides, Study Shows

NPR (01/08/2020)
  • A new study estimated that raising the US federal minimum wage by $1 in each state would’ve save 27,000 lives from 1990-2015; a $2 increase would’ve saved 57,000 lives.
  • The conclusion was made after researchers discovered a 3.5%-6% decrease in suicides for every $1 increase in the minimum wage.
  • Currently, the national federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
  • Unsurprisingly, minimum wage increases had the biggest suicide-preventing impact during recessions.
  • For every 20-30 suicide attempts, there is a suicide death.

‘Chaos Is the Point’: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020

The New York Times (01/10/2020)
  • The US National Security Agency (NSA) recently warned that Russian hackers are already preparing for the 2020 election.
  • While American defenses have improved since the unexpected 2016 attacks, Russians have adapted.
  • They’re now using harder-to-track encryption messaging instead of e-mails, paying Americans to post Facebook political ads (bypassing Facebook’s restriction on foreigners) and launching attacks from US servers (thwarts US agencies such as NSA limited to operating against foreign attacks).
  • While breaching election systems remains unlikely, creating confusion may be enough.

US cancer death rate sees largest-ever single-year drop, report says

CNN (01/08/2020)
  • US cancer deaths declined by 2.2% from 2016-2017 (American Cancer Society), driven largely by a sharp decline in lung cancer deaths thanks to smoking reductions and improving treatments.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of US cancer deaths, exceeding breast, colorectal and prostate cancer deaths combined.
  • Overall, US cancer deaths have decline by 29% since the 1991 peak.
  • An estimated 606,520 people in the US will die from cancer this year.
  • Pancreas, liver and lung cancers have the lowest 5-year survival rates (9-19%).

There’s Finally a Way to Recycle the Plastic in Shampoo and Yogurt Packaging

Bloomberg (09/25/2019)
  • In America, over 25 million tons of plastic end up in landfills yearly.
  • Only 3% of polypropylene, the rigid plastic used in deodorant containers and shampoo bottles, get recycled (difficult to get rid of smell) compared to 29% of polyethylene terephthalate (soda bottles).
  • Procter & Gamble chemist John Lymar developed a process that purifies polypropylene to produce clear, odorless pellets that can make bottles.
  • P&G licensed the method to startup PureCycle, which will process 119 million lbs of plastic waste per year.

Five years ago, she was a homeless high school valedictorian. Saturday, she got a degree from Georgetown

The Washington Post (05/18/2019)
  • 23 year-old DC-native Rashema Melson’s father was murdered when she was a baby and she lived in homeless shelters with her mother and brothers.
  • Despite struggles, she graduated valedictorian from Anacostia High School and received a full-scholarship to Georgetown.
  • An introvert, Rashema struggled to fit in with Georgetown’s mostly-affluent students.
  • She dropped out to marry her high school boyfriend then, regretting her decision, returned 1 year later.
  • Rashema graduated with a degree in justice and hopes to work in public policy for the poor.

You donated to kids with cancer. This Vegas telemarketer cashed in.

The Center for Public Integrity (09/12/2019)
  • American nonprofits and political committees are allowed to spend almost everything they collect on fundraising.
  • During the last four years, the US saw a significant spike in the number of political action committees that raise most of their money from small-dollar donors before plowing much of it back into salaries, administrative costs and raising more cash.
  • Since 2006, one Las Vegas man’s telemarketing companies have been paid about $133 million out of $153 million raised for nonprofits and PACs.

Basic Income and the Video Game Myth

Medium (07/23/2018)
  • Some people worry that Basic Income will lead to millions of people giving up work and ‘just playing video games.’ But Basic Income is only likely to be enough to pay for essentials and little else.
  • And hardly anyone is happy to exist on only the essentials.
  • Very few people are going to give up their smartphones, their cars or their nights out and exist on Basic Income alone.
  • People will carry on working, just as they do now.

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep

Outside (04/02/2019)
  • Scientists have found that the effects of acute sleep deprivation, or all-nighters, kicks in after being awake for 16-18 hours straight.
  • The first sign is a sluggish mind, with reaction times lagging to the equivalent of being legally drunk by the 24th hour awake.
  • After 24 hours, your brain starts forcing you into 10-20 second periods of “micro-sleep”.
  • After 35 hours, the brain’s emotion-emitting amygdala becomes 60% more reactive and the ability to regulate emotions declines.
  • Hallucinations are common after 48 hours awake.