Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A 93-year-old veteran is turning his handyman skills into a hand-up for a local nonprofit

He has been whittling walking sticks and selling them to support his local food pantry. So far, he’s helped raise more than $600, and the retired Air Force colonel isn’t slowing down anytime soon. His son said his dad’s urge to work has turned him into a self-made walking stick whittler. By July, he was selling them, but not for himself, for the Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry. When he isn’t in his shop, the man can be seen in his front yard selling his hand-crafted sticks to those passing by for just $3 or a donation to the food pantry. While he makes it look easy, the man said it can take about a day to make just one. So far, made about 100. Each made with a purpose from the heart, showing that with a little bit of time and hard work, we can make a difference. If anyone would like to help the man support the Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry you can donate to his GoFundMe page. All donations and many raised from the walking stick sales go straight to the food pantry. (Dayton 247)


Our mental health is taking a hit

Mental health is on the decline, according to a new poll, stating that only 34% of Americans said their mental health was excellent, down from 43% in 2019. That marks the lowest number reported in 20 years with the pandemic likely playing a major role in the results. Additional COVID-19 surveys from Gallup found sentiment not seen since the Great Depression. Self-ratings of physical health have remained stable since last year. (Gallup)


Roaring ’20s here we come?

As cases of the coronavirus surge across the globe, there’s a glimmer of hope out of UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. Economists there issued an “optimistic forecast”, that predicts the U.S. economy will experience an “exuberant vaccine spring,” followed by a “roaring ’20s.” Assuming most in the U.S. get vaccinated by the summer, the forecast also predicts annualized growth in gross domestic product will accelerate from 1.2% in the current quarter to 1.8% in the first quarter of 2021, then to a booming 6% in next year’s second quarter. (The Los Angeles Times)


Florida faces Wall Street takeover

The pandemic has “opened up the floodgates” to businesses and individuals looking to relocate to South Florida. Local real estate professionals say interest in the Sunshine State has surged, and the rate of transplants relocating to South Florida has accelerated to “a pace hardly seen before.” Even Goldman Sachs is reportedly eyeing Florida to house one of its key divisions. Other Wall Street firms have already expanded or relocated to the state, leveraging the benefits of Florida’s tax structure, weather, lifestyle and travel access. (Miami Herald)


One billion empty hotel rooms

The travel and tourism industry has been savaged globally by the coronavirus pandemic, and the U.S. hotel business is no exception. Experts say nearly a billion hotel rooms around the country have gone unsold this year, 46% more (or 650 million rooms) than last year. In all, hotel owners lost about $46 billion in revenue, and with business travel still threatened post-pandemic, recovery could be slow or not, if there is major pent-up demand for leisure travel. (Bloomberg)


Building cars that learn like humans

Auto makers, universities and tech firms are beginning to develop chips that will give cars artificial intelligence that functions similarly to the human brain. Such neuromorphic computing could learn and improve over time, and accept voice commands or even respond to passenger needs by “watching” their behavior in the vehicle. This tech would require significantly less energy than computing currently found in cars, and they could function even without a connection to a network. (The Wall Street Journal)


Amazon announced 26 new renewable energy projects, including wind and solar projects, in over seven countries

The announced projects make Amazon the largest corporate renewable energy supporter. The new projects will go live in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. and bring Amazon’s total number of renewable energy projects to 127. Amazon’s current renewable energy initiatives would supply 6.5 GW of electricity production capacity, more than enough to power 1.7 million U.S. homes for one year. This new investment into renewable energy is the largest ever for a corporation in a single year. (Business Wire)


The United States government has proposed selling $1B in drones and precision-guided weapons to Morocco

The Trump administration has sent a notice to Congress about the proposed sale, a day after President Trump announced a US-led deal between Morocco and Israel to normalize relations. The deal would include four weapons-capable MQ-9 Reaper drones as well as laser-guided munitions made by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon. Sources told Reuters that no Congress members are expected to try and block the sale. Trump recently signed a proclamation supporting Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara in exchange for opening diplomatic relations with Israel. The U.S. now recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed territory in northwest Africa, reversing decades of U.S. policy. Morocco is the fourth Arab state since August to agree to normalize relations with Israel as part of a White House-led effort. The others are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan. (Reuters)


It’s not you, it’s Google

Google was hit by a major outage yesterday (12/14), affecting a range of services including YouTube, Gmail, Google Suite and Google Maps, and causing disruptions for many workplaces. The outage was global, according to DownDetector, and issues spiked around 6:30 a.m. ET. Google said its services have now been restored. While the cause is not yet known, it appeared to be related to Google’s authentication tools. (Forbes)


Housing could boost this recovery

Housing was a major drag on America’s recovery from the 2008 recession, but the home market will be a boon to the pandemic rebound of 2021, according to researchers. Citing a number of factors, including the foreclosure crisis, negative wealth from falling home values and a slowdown in construction employment for hindering the comeback after 2008, then 2021 will be different. Rising demand from buyers and a shortage of inventory since the first quarter of 2020 will help power the recovery of construction jobs and drive home prices higher. (Bloomberg)


Oracle joins Silicon Valley exodus

Oracle is joining the Silicon Valley exodus and moving its headquarters to Austin, Texas. The move will “best position Oracle for growth and provide our personnel with more flexibility about where and how they work,” according to the company. As the pandemic spurs a gradual acceptance of remote work, some major companies are bailing on California’s high taxes and cost of living. Earlier this month, Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced it was moving from San Jose, California, to Houston, while Tesla founder Elon Musk announced his move to Texas last week. (CNBC)


Timeshares evolve for millennials

A host of new startups are redefining the timeshare industry and making the decades-old phenomenon more palatable for millennials. Apps are helping owners find short-term renters for empty homes, similar to the Airbnb model, while some help buyers pool their money with others to purchase a shared home. (The Wall Street Journal)


Vitamin D Could Explain Why Autism Is Three Times More Common in Boys

A deficiency in vitamin D on the mother’s side could explain why autism spectrum disorder is three times more common in boys, say Queensland Brain Institute researchers. In their latest study, they found vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy caused an increase in testosterone in the developing brain of male rats. “The biological cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unknown but we have shown that one of the many risk factors, low vitamin D in mothers, causes an increase in testosterone in the brain of the male fetuses, as well as the maternal blood and amniotic fluid,” one of the Professors say. “In addition to its role in calcium absorption, vitamin D is crucial to many developmental processes. Our research also showed that in vitamin D-deficient male fetuses, an enzyme which breaks down testosterone was silenced and could be contributing to the presence of high testosterone levels.” Previous research has shown that vitamin D plays a critical role in brain development and that giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy completely prevented autism-like traits in their offspring. The study was the first to show that a known risk factor for ASD alters testosterone in both the fetal brain and the mother’s blood, one possible contributor to why ASD is more prevalent in males. Researchers say the next step is to look at other possible risk factors, such as maternal stress and hypoxia, lack of oxygen, and see if they have the same effect. (SciTech Daily)


Tuesday Whips In With:

  • Bill of Rights Day
  • Cat Herders Day
  • Cupcake Day
  • International Tea Day
  • Wear Your Pearls Day
  • Zamenhof Day (Esperato Literature Day)

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