🐤 Scary fun

Ever wonder why humans get a kick out of frightening situations? We've got some answers.

Wednesday | November 1st, 2023
Early Chirp
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Happy Wednesday, chirpers! If you’re reading this with an upset stomach because you dipped into the Halloween candy haul a little too much last night, you’re not alone.

Experts say there are a few steps you can take to help soothe your discomfort. Start by drinking plenty of water, add in some naturally fiber-rich foods like bananas and apples, and mix in some nonfat yogurt for good measure.

If you’re still feeling rough, try some peppermint, chamomile, or ginger tea.

-Chris Agee

$61.76 (0.48%)
Dow Jones
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$26.98 (0.65%)
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JetBlue Airways
-$0.44 (-10.48%)
*Market data for this issue is from October 31st, 2023 at 7:10pm EST

🏦 Markets: Halloween came with more treats than tricks for Wall Street investors with each of the three major indexes finishing in positive territory.

The S&P 500 led the way with gains of nearly two-thirds of a percent, offsetting some of the losses it had experienced in recent weeks.

It wasn’t enough to end October higher than the previous month, though. The Nasdaq’s was the month’s biggest loser, shedding nearly 3% compared to September and chalking up its third straight negative month.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Shutterstock

⚽ Eighth time’s a charm: If there was any doubt about who the best soccer player on the planet is, it was largely put to rest this week when Lionel Messi was awarded the prestigious Ballon d’Or for a record eighth time in his career. He didn’t take home the honor last year, but in light of his pivotal role in securing Argentina’s World Cup victory this year he was a shoo-in to be named the best in the world yet again in 2023. Aitana Bonmati, who led Spain to a World Cup win, received the women’s award.

🗼 The falling tower? Pisa isn’t the only Italian city with a leaning tower. There’s also one in Bologna that dates back to the 12th century. But it’s been temporarily closed amid new concerns that it’s leaning too much for comfort. Mayor Matteo Lepore said that the structure, officially known as the Garisenda tower, isn’t going to “collapse at any moment,” but the decision to shut it down for repairs will ensure that it will be safe for visitors for years to come.

🌍 11 years away: Saudi Arabia has been sinking a lot of money into its athletic interests in recent years, including the development of the LIV golf tournament that has joined forces with the PGA after getting off to a controversial start. Now, the kingdom has its sights set on soccer. After Australia dropped out of contention to host the 2034 World Cup, Saudi Arabia was left as the sole bidder. The development has sparked concerns in light of the nation’s record of human rights abuses.

💉 Pandemic plummet: COVID-19 is still making people sick, but it’s no longer the devastating issue that it has been in recent years. That’s good news for ordinary folks, of course, but it’s taking a toll on the profits of some pharmaceutical companies. With fewer people requiring treatment and a decline in demand for the vaccines, Pfizer has seen sales of Paxlovid and Cominarty dip substantially in the latest quarter, causing a roughly $2 billion revenue loss.

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Untangling The Fundamental Connection Between Fear And Fun

Halloween exemplifies the human instinct to seek out frightening situations.

Untangling The Fundamental Connection Between Fear And Fun Giphy

With Halloween in the rear-view, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the seemingly strange human desire to seek out frightening situations. From haunted houses to roller coasters, many people gravitate for adrenaline-pumping, fear-inducing activities.

A primal instinct

So what is it about a reaction that in other circumstances would signal an imminent danger that can be so much fun when there is no real threat? Experts say there are a couple of explanations.

As behavioral sciences specialist Dr. Michele Bedard-Gilligan explained, the fear response “kicks off a reaction of stress hormones and neurotransmitters, namely adrenaline and dopamine, that then follows and goes down the body and sort of kicks in that fight, flight, freeze reaction.”

Although this is a reaction fundamentally intended to help humans evade danger, it is also closely related to the happiness center in the brain and, when there is no immediate threat, can trigger some of the same reactions as more traditional forms of fun.

Furthermore, Dr. Leah Croll, a neurologist, pointed out that there’s a “real social aspect of fear” that can create bonds between people and enhance the pleasure even further.

Is it for everyone?

Maybe you’re not one of those thrill-seekers and the thought of narrowly averting disaster doesn’t sound fun at all. If that’s the case, you’re not alone.

But Croll noted that even those who don’t think they’d enjoy a good fright might find out they do if they give it a chance.

Scientists have identified a “real interplay between our stress hormones and our feel-good hormones,” she said, explaining that when humans realize that “the immediate stressor is no longer posing a threat, then the adrenaline stops working, and essentially you’re left with this euphoric rush of dopamine and serotonin.”

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Highest score wins an Amazon gift card!


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

work life

How To Make Virtual Meetings Less Of A Drag

There's a surprising reason so many people find them so exhausting.

How To Make Virtual Meetings Less Of A Drag Shutterstock

In the post-pandemic world, many more people are enjoying the benefits of working from home. While the pros include a nonexistent commute and the elimination of small talk with annoying co-workers, there’s one glaring con for many remote workers: virtual meetings.

While teleconferences often devolve into boring snooze fests, one study found that they don’t have to be so terrible.

Identifying the problems

Researchers at Aalto University think they’ve determined why so many people tend to zone out or become drowsy during virtual meetings — not including those who are hungover, of course.

Here are a few of the new study’s results:

  • There’s often no real effort to keep attendees mentally invested in the meeting.
  • People don’t have access to cognitive and sensory cues that are present during in-person conferences.
  • Bored attendees compensate by zoning out or multitasking.

It all adds up to a frustrating spiral during which many folks who are signed in for a virtual meeting don’t actually take anything away from the presentation and the whole thing is essentially a waste of everyone’s time.

Looking for solutions

Conventional wisdom stated that remote workers were overwhelmed by too much information, but the actual problem might be the exact opposite.

Without enough stimulus provided by the hosts of a meeting, people tend to lose interest quickly and find the process quite tiring.

It’s worth noting that “highly engaged and enthusiastic” workers were able to remain invested in both in-person and virtual meetings. But for those who “were not very enthusiastic about their work,” there are some steps that might help compensate for the teleconference brain drain.

Leaving the camera on helps establish important visual cues and performing “automated activities” like walking can boost concentration. But trying to perform mentally stimulating tasks while in a virtual meeting is sure to backfire.

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This Financial Tech Startup Has Set Its Sights On The Growing 62+ Market

A number of investors are already putting their money up to support the idea.

This Financial Tech Startup Has Set Its Sights On The Growing 62+ Market Giphy

There are some banking services that are important for virtually any consumer, but some needs can vary depending on one’s stage in life. And as we get older, there are new concerns that can arise.

That’s why one new company is directing all of its attention toward meeting the needs of clients at or above the age of 62. Judging from an enthusiastic round of fundraising, it appears that there are a lot of people who are bullish on the idea.

Seniors, meet Charlie

After he co-founded the company in 2021, Charlie CEO Kevin Nazemi began touting the ways that he believed its unique approach would help seniors avoid scams and achieve the type of financial security they need as they enter their golden years.

He acknowledged that the thought of launching this new company was “nerve-wracking,” but it soon became obvious that there was a market for the services Charlie sought to provide.

“There was a collective sigh of relief when we saw so many customers signing up and we knew our approach … was resonating,” he said.

Thus far, Charlie has attracted thousands of customers from every corner of the United States.

It’s not a bank

Before you start looking for your local branch, it’s important to understand what it is … and what it’s not. While it is not a branch, the company partners with Sutton Bank, which offers protection for deposits and provides certain other features.

So what can customers expect? Charlie promises faster access to Social Security checks, higher earnings, and an end to fees and account minimums. Another benefit to seniors is a plan to allow clients to receive senior discounts directly through their debit cards instead of requiring them to flash an ID card or AARP membership.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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