Monday, January 11, 2021

The value of work friends

While many people have friends at work, few feel they have truly close friends there, writes a Yale professor. The somewhat forced nature of reporting structures and seating assignments, the transactional nature of work and the complications money can bring to relationships, but deep work friendships can benefit employees and employers alike. “Employees who report having close friends at work are more efficient, more satisfied with their job, and even less likely to get in accidents at work,” said the professor. Fortunately, she says the benefits can come from having only one or two close confidants. (Fast Company)


An MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania has raised $30,000 for charity by selling pizzas that he delivers from his window using a makeshift pulley system

At the beginning of the pandemic, Ben Sherman, 27, started sharing pizza slices with friends from his second-story apartment in Philadelphia. “I can be self-conscious about whether my pizzas are good enough, but I knew at least if I dropped it out of the window, people would get a kick out of them,” he said. At one point, he started asking his patrons for money to help people in need. “It felt like food security and homelessness needed even a bigger boost this year. And these places in Philly were moving the needle,” he said about Philabundance, Project Home, and Share Food Program, the charities to which he has been donating money. After his efforts to raise money for charity went viral, he started receiving hundreds of orders a week. (Today)


The U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December after eight consecutive months of job creation

About half of the 22 million jobs that were lost in March and April, the initial peak of the pandemic, were regained after social restrictions were lifted and consumer spending increased in the summer. However, job creation slowed down in the third quarter as the number of confirmed cases began increasing again. Bars and restaurants have been forced to close their doors in recent weeks due to coronavirus restrictions. Altogether, the hospitality industry lost 498,000 positions last month. But sectors such as private education (-63,000 jobs) and government (-45,000) saw more muted losses. The professional and business services (+161,000), retail (+121,000), and construction (+51,000) sectors gained jobs last month. The unemployment rate is now at 6.7%, unchanged from November. (CNBC)


Satellite data shows that the past six years have been the warmest on record

The average global surface temperature in 2020 was 2.25F (1.25C) higher than before the industrial revolution, matching the record-high temperature recorded in 2016. Climate change scientists say that extreme weather events and devastating wildfires will become the norm if temperatures rise over 2.7F (1.5C) above pre-industrial levels. According to the data released by the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service, in 2020, greenhouse gas emissions were slightly lower than in the previous year due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases hit a record high of 413 parts per million (ppm) last year, well above the 278 ppm before humans began burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and cars became widespread. Scientists warn that unless greenhouse gas emissions are brought down to zero, the global average temperature will soon reach the 2.7F (1.5C) threshold. Significant temperature increases in the Arctic and northern Siberia accelerated sea ice melting and contributed to devastating wildfires last year. (The Guardian)


Boeing to pay $2.5B fine

Boeing will pay more than $2.5 billion to settle the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal probe of two 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people As part of the agreement, the Justice Department charged the aviation giant with “one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States,” saying it undermined the Federal Aviation Administration’s evaluation of the plane’s safety. There were also reports the FAA wasn’t “fully informed” of the capabilities of the doomed planes’ flight-control software, which was later implicated in the crashes. (Reuters)


Smaller cities see home buying surge

The pandemic has driven up home prices in some traditionally smaller markets of the United States, as more Americans leave larger coastal cities for those in the middle of the country such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Kansas City. Prices there are now at least 10% higher than a year earlier and are experiencing some of the strongest gains in the country, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The pandemic has allowed many to work remotely, prompting workers to seek more affordable housing space. (CNBC)


Apple, Hyundai mull self-driving car

Hyundai has revised comments from earlier Friday that it is in discussions with Apple to develop self-driving vehicles. The South Korean carmaker now says that it has been contacted by various companies for collaboration, without any mention of Apple. However, Apple is planning to develop self-driving, electric vehicles in the next five years to take on industry giant Tesla. Meanwhile, Hyundai has also been researching self-driving technology with a tie-up with autonomous driving tech company Aptiv. (Bloomberg)


Food prices are hitting records

Global food prices hit a six-year high in December and are expected to continue rising through 2021. Environmental factors, protectionism and strong demand pushed up prices on items like vegetable oil, cereals and dairy. Rising food prices risks increasing inflation and threatens poorer consumers already hurt by the pandemic. (Reuters)



Denmark’s flagship broadcaster has suffered blowback over its newest children’s TV program, “John Dillermand”

The show is an animation starring a man with a penis so massive and flexible it can save children from danger, fetch objects from a river and operate as a pogo stick. The shows 13 episodes follows its character as he navigates an array of unexpected scenarios caused by his inexplicably huge genitalia. In episode one, the mustached character uses his gigantic organ as a lead for his dog, but quickly finds himself inundated with requests from his neighbors to take their pets out for a walk, too. At another point in the show, he is stuck floating in mid-air after balloons are tied to his groin. In another episode, he breaks a friend’s vase with his penis and must raise money to pay them back, and in a third, he uses it to steal an ice cream at the zoo. The show’s opening montage also shows him using his genitals to keep a lion away from a group of children. The show was generally met with hilarity in Denmark and across the internet, with many praising it as an appropriate and light-hearted way to teach children about the human anatomy. But some politicians said children should not be forced to watch a cartoon depiction of an adult man’s groin. (Morten Messerschmidt Facebook)


Amazon has shut down its Prime Pantry service, one of its early tests at selling food online

Prime Pantry was a grocery and household essentials delivery service. All of the products previously available under the Prime Pantry label were added to the Amazon main site. Prime Pantry was launched in 2014, but never really took off. Amazon has since improved upon its grocery delivery service with the acquisition of Whole Foods. Today, Amazon’s Amazon Fresh stores combined with its Whole Foods Market stores can give customers same-day delivery service for fresh produce and groceries for $119.99 per year. In 2020, Amazon had to temporarily suspend its Prime Pantry deliveries due to a high volume of orders. (Bloomberg)


Astronomers reevaluate the age of the universe

The universe is roughly 13.77 billion years old, or around the same age astronomers estimated in 2019, when they found the universe was hundreds of millions of years younger than previously thought. In 2019, scientists studying the movement of galaxies concluded that the universe is hundreds of millions of years younger than previously estimated by the Planck Collaboration, a group of scientists who have worked with the European Space Agency’s Planck mission. By determining the age of the universe, the researchers also were able to estimate how fast the universe is expanding, this figure is known as the Hubble constant. With ACT, they calculated a Hubble constant of 42 miles per second per megaparsec, or 67.6 kilometers per second per megaparsec. In other (simpler) words, they found that an object 1 megaparsec (or about 3.26 million light-years) away from Earth would be moving away from Earth at 42 miles per second (67.6 km/s). This is extremely close to the 41.88 miles per second per megaparsec (67.4 km per second per megaparsec) previously estimated by the Planck team. However, previous measurements of the motion of galaxies have shown that the universe is expanding faster than this, according to the same statement. (Space)


Roku purchased Quibi’s library of shows and will create over 75 shows free to stream this year

Roku snapped up the rights to the majority of Quibi’s multimillion-dollar portfolio original programming, which offers more than 75 shows in all,  and will make them available free to stream in 2021 on the Roku Channel. Following Quibi’s decision last October to shut down after failing to attract a sustainable base of subscribers, Roku acquired Quibi Holdings LLC, the company that holds all of Quibi’s content distribution rights. Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed. A source familiar with the agreement said Roku is paying “significantly” less than $100 million for the Quibi library. (The Wall Street Journal)


Boosting morale in difficult times

Having to adapt to frequent change means that motivation is lower than it might be at the start of a new year. Research shows that psychological safety is one of the most important qualities for a successful team, and boosting morale can give people the comfort they need to thrive. Active listening, celebrating small wins and offering positive feedback for a job well done all help give a sense of achievement, psychologists say. More positive interactions than negative will likely help everyone’s mood – and helping others can also boost our own well-being. (Fast Company)


Monday Brings On:

  • Arkansas Day
  • Cigarettes Are Hazardous To Your Health Day
  • Clean Off Your Desk Day (Second Monday in January)
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Day
  • Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day
  • Milk Day
  • Plough Monday
  • Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day

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