🐤 Food fight

Just when you thought it was safe to shop for groceries, prices might be spiking again soon.

Wednesday | May 3rd, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Wednesday, chirpers! We’re so glad you’re here and it’s a privilege to provide you with an update about the world around you each morning. Our digital world puts virtually any fact or opinion within easy reach … but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to spend your whole life online.

In fact, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory this week urging people to prioritize real-life connections with each other.

Ignoring the human need for social connections, he said, is roughly as deadly as “smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”

-Chris Agee

-$132.09 (-1.08%)
Dow Jones
-$367.17 (-1.08%)
S&P 500
-$48.29 (-1.16%)
$0.00 (0.09%)
$505.95 (1.80%)
$0.20 (22.06%)
*Market data for this issue is from May 2nd, 2023 at 8:16pm EST

🏦 Markets: The failure of First Republic Bank earlier this week sparked new concerns about the ongoing banking crisis and all three major indexes dropped by more than 1% on Tuesday for their second losing day in a row.

The Federal Reserve also started its latest meeting yesterday and its recommendation about interest rates is coming soon. Combine all of that with the threat of a looming debt default and, as market strategist Art Hogan explained: “You have the perfect cocktail for a risk-off day.”


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Cindy Ord/Getty Images

🍌 Fresh fruit: You might have seen pictures of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s strange work of art that is literally just a banana taped to the wall. The fruit is frequently replaced, but one of them sold for a staggering $120,000. For a college student who visited the museum where the most recent version was being displayed, however, it cost nothing for him to grab it off the wall and consume it. He said he was just hungry, and the museum said it won’t press charges.

👧 Hello dolly: Mattel is making its Barbie lineup more inclusive by introducing its first doll representing someone with Down syndrome. The decision was announced in partnership with the National Down Syndrome Society and a representative from the organization said that the doll will “showcase the ability of somebody with Down syndrome.” About 6,000 babies in the U.S. are born each year with the genetic disorder.

🪧 On strike: The production of various television shows and movies ground to a halt this week when Hollywood writers went on strike for the first time in 15 years. Union representatives failed to reach an agreement with studios and decided to walk off the job as a bargaining move. Writers want certain guarantees about staffing and compensation, citing industry changes that have come with new tech advancements and pandemic-related interruptions.

🚀 Ship shape: Days after SpaceX launched its Starship and triggered its self-destruct function a few minutes later in response to complications, several conservation groups are suing the Federal Aviation Administration over the debris that rained down as a result of the explosion. The court action contends that the agency prematurely approved the spacecraft’s launch.

Share this issue:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email

Grocery Prices Could Surge Again Soon … And You Can Blame The Weather

Here's how the summer forecast could make feeding your family more expensive.

Grocery Prices Could Surge Again Soon … And You Can Blame The Weather Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Just when inflation was starting to fall and supermarket shoppers were seeing some relief, experts say that another factor on the horizon could keep the cost of food elevated for months to come.

Another El Nino

There’s a common term that meteorologists like to repeat, but if you’re not tuned into the such phenomena, you might not know what your local weatherman is really describing when he or she warns of an approaching “El Nino.”

In its most basic terms, this event signals an abrupt shift in ocean temperatures that can seriously impact the weather (particularly rainfall totals) across vast land areas.

Not only does this translate to the possibility of inclement weather, but a strong El Nino can also affect the yield of crops on farms throughout the United States and around the world.

The big picture

With an El Nino expected to begin within the next few months and stretch on until autumn, experts are advising consumers to be prepared for some volatile weather.

Virginia Tech professor Zachary Easton studies such things and advised that the Central Plains region could be significantly drier and warmer than usual. Since much of the nation’s agriculture comes from this area, there might be a big impact to our food supply.

A familiar story

As with previous El Nino events, the aftermath might be felt well into winter with those living in Central Plains states experiencing a particularly warm season. Kansas is already seeing its weakest output of winter wheat production in two decades, so any further disruption would send prices even higher.

It’s worth noting, though, that these productions are just speculative. There’s always a chance that there won’t be an El Nino — or that it won’t be as serious as some experts fear.

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email
comic eyewashcomic.com

Have Trouble Saying What You Mean? This Brain Scan Could Help.

It's not as creepy as it sounds ... at least not yet.

Have Trouble Saying What You Mean? This Brain Scan Could Help. The Simpsons/Giphy

Even the most erudite linguists among us still struggle to find the right words from time to time. That’s why scientists have started experimenting with a combination of brain scans and artificial intelligence to help figure out exactly what people are trying to communicate.

Is it safe?

The thought of giving AI permission to root around in your brain might be off-putting to a large segment of the population, but the team of researchers behind this novel project is making it clear that it isn’t some mind-reading machine.

In fact, it can only operate with the full cooperation of the person whose brain is being scanned.

As for what it actually does, study author Alexander Huth said: “It’s getting at the ideas behind the words, the semantics, the meaning.”

In order to fine-tune the process, participants in the study listened to hours of audio and allowed their brain activity to be monitored. The resulting output revealed a clear link between how a brain responds to input and the words that the person is processing.

Then, the AI algorithm used just that recorded brain activity to reconstruct the stories — with impressive accuracy.

What comes next?

Like many new tech advancements, this program is starting off as a novelty but scientists hope it will one day lead to a serious medical breakthrough.

Specifically, researchers are looking into ways that it can be used to decode mental illness or help disabled people communicate. Of course, Huth acknowledged that there are some significant ethical hurdles to clear.

"What if you can read out the word that somebody is just thinking in their head?” he asked. “That's potentially a harmful thing."

While the current objective is developing a new way to communicate, Huth said that “we have to make sure that stays the goal.”

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email

Chirpy's Choices

Straight from the nest to you

  • Living at the top once again: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are named the three finalists for the NBA MVP award for the second straight season, with the winners of all seven major individual awards to be announced over the next few weeks.
  • Summer is almost here: Chubbies offers a unique and versatile take on shorts with a focus on quality and style to get your thighs ready for the sun.
  • Keeping within the budget: President Biden is proposing a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss the debt ceiling, but there are concerns that it may be difficult to reach a consensus.
  • Clean tushy, happy life: Using a Tushy bidet can improve personal hygiene, reduce the use of toilet paper, and provide a more gentle and soothing cleansing experience.

Buyer Beware: Deceptive Pricing Is Everywhere … Even College

There's not as much regulation as you might think.

Buyer Beware: Deceptive Pricing Is Everywhere … Even College NowThis/Giphy

It’s hardly surprising anymore to see Company A claim its product or service is more affordable than a similar option from Company B — only for Company B to come out with its claim that Company A is charging more.

Of course, both might technically be correct if they’re cherry-picking data to suit their agenda. But savvy shoppers know that they need to read the fine print to figure out where they’ll actually get the most for their money.

Education is no exception

With millions of Americans drowning in college loan debt, it’s clear that many students aren’t exactly bargain-shopping before entering their freshman year. Nevertheless, college recruiters and administrators do their best to convince prospective enrollees that their institution offers the biggest educational bang for the buck.

In many cases, students receive a quoted cost for tuition and other costs alongside estimates from competing schools. And (big surprise) the rival schools are almost always more expensive … at least on paper.

There are no guarantees

Just because someone shows you a competitive price doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll actually pay. There are many factors that impact the cost of college tuition and much of the time they aren’t reflected in the calculations that recruiters use to arrive at their total.

Some things to remember include:

  • Financial aid and scholarships can vary widely from one institution to another.
  • You probably won’t know all of the data that goes into creating the estimate.
  • There aren’t really any laws preventing colleges from fudging the numbers.

There are some safeguards in place, such as a 2011 requirement that all colleges provide access to something called a “net price calculator.”

But there are still some big blind spots that allow schools to legally comply without providing the transparency that would actually benefit new students.

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email

Solve today's crossword and win a prize!

Highest score wins an Amazon gift card!


*Prizes are sent out via email the next day by 11am EST.

Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

90 N Church St, The Strathvale House
Grand Cayman KY1, 9006, Cayman Islands

Copyright © 2022 Early Chirp. All rights reserved.