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Pfizer Boosts Forecast for Vaccine Sales to $33.5 Billion

Bloomberg (07/28/2021)
  • Pfizer raised its full-year Covid vaccine revenue forecast from $26B to $33.5B as demand surges following the Delta variant outbreak.
  • Revenues could rise further if US regulators authorize a third booster shot to fight new variants.
  • Pfizer also plans on creating a new vaccine formulation designed to fight the Delta variant.
  • Rising demand could make Pfizer Covid vaccine one of the best-selling drugs ever, outpacing Merck’s Keytruda cancer treatment.
  • Pfizer’s total 2021 revenue is forecast to reach $78-80 billion.

‘The start of the post-Tinder era’: female tech entrepreneurs shake up online dating

The Guardian (06/29/2021)
  • Following the success of Bumble, a female-founded dating app that only lets women initiate contact, more women are launching dating apps.
  • Pickable, launched in 2018 by Clementine Lalande (37), lets women anonymously browse potential suitors without having to provide their own names or photos (limit online exposure).
  • The app So Syncd, created by sisters Jessica and Louella Anderson, provides matches based on Myers-Briggs personality test results.
  • Ultimately, women are creating dating apps that help women form genuine relationships and avoid men seeking casual hook-ups.

During Covid, The Biggest Global Companies Got $4.5 Trillion Richer

Bloomberg (05/21/2021)
  • The 50 biggest companies’ market value increased by $4.5 trillion in 2020, raising their combined valuations to 28% of global GDP (up from less than 5% in 1990).
  • Big Tech and Chinese companies now dominate the top 50, replacing Big Oil since 1990.
  • Their median tax rate has declined from 35% to 17% while profit margins have soared from 7% to 18% thanks to increasing industry concentration (M&A).
  • Half of the top 50 to start a decade usually fall out by the end.

CAPTCHA for Crowdsourcing— Prove You’re Human

Kevin C. Lee (Medium) (11/04/2019)
  • In 2000, a team of computer scientists created CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turning testing to tell Computers and Humans Apart) to fight spambots congesting internet traffic and harvesting data.
  • CAPTCHA initially required users to re-type letters or digits from distorted images, requiring constant updates to keep bots from hacking.
  • By 2009, CAPTCHA was re-purposed (reCAPTCHA) as a digital crowdsourcing effort whereby millions unknowingly confirmed the text from scanned digital books.
  • By 2014, CAPTCHA advanced to implicit human detection based on subtle mouse movements.

A Murder ‘Solved’ in 4 Hours Sent the Wrong Man to Prison for 23 Years

The New York Times (NYT) (07/22/2021)
  • April (1996) – Shdell Lewis was suddenly shot and killed while walking with friend outside his home in Staten Island.
  • Within hours, police arrest 25 year-old Grant Williams based on Wu-Tang Clan hat description.
  • November (1997) – Williams was sentenced to life despite no evidence or murder weapon.
  • Lewis’ friend said Williams wasn’t the shooter but wasn’t allowed to be a key witness.
  • Officer who chased shooter described him as “5-foot-5 and stocky”; Williams is 6-foot-2.
  • Following reinvestigation, Williams was recently released from prison.

Short-term fixes aren’t enough to solve America’s looming eviction crisis

CNN (07/22/2021)
  • While US Congress allocated $47 billion towards emergency Covid rent relief, millions could still face eviction after the CDC moratorium expires (July 31).
  • The biggest issue is the slow distribution of relief funds, with some renters waiting months after applying.
  • In response, some states and localities are implementing short-term fixes (eg local moratorium extensions, legal assistance).
  • Evictions disproportionately impact women of color and single parents, negatively impacting long-term mental health and children’s educational attainment.
  • Covid exposed the need for federal, nationwide eviction policies.

Americans’ Medical Debts Are Bigger Than Was Known, Totaling $140 Billion

The New York Times (NYT) (07/20/2021)
  • Americans owe collections agencies $140B in unpaid medical debt, almost 2x more than previously estimated.
  • From 2009-2020, unpaid medical bills became collections agencies’ largest source of debt.
  • The $140B excludes debts owed directly to hospitals, long-term payment plans and medical bills paid via credit cards.
  • The medical debts are highly concentrated in Southern states that declined participation in Obama’s Medicaid expansion.
  • Unlike debts pertaining to day-to-day needs (eg utility bills, auto loans), medical bills have much lower re-payment rates.

The Hip-Hop Song That’s Driving Cuba’s Unprecedented Protests

NPR (07/13/2021)
  • Cuba’s mass-protests against food and electricity shortages have adopted the hip-hop song ‘Patria y Vida’ as their unofficial anthem.
  • Released earlier this year, the song is a collaboration between Afro-Cuban reggaeton and hip-hop artists in the US and Cuba.
  • Lyrics (translated) including “no more lies”, “my people demand freedom”, and “start building dreams” encapsulate the demands and aspirations of struggling Cubans.
  • Cuban authorities arrested Osorbo, one of the song’s artists, and continue blaming Cuba’s economic crisis on US sanctions.

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.