This week’s Interesting Things // September, Week 3

Story time: In 1958, Bank of America launched an experiment that would change the way we handle money forever. The bank mailed “Bank Americards” to 60,000 Fresno, CA residents with a $500 credit line. Even though the US was entering a recession at the time, people took the bait. The program was so successful that we refer to it today by a slightly different name today: Visa. Yep, the modern day credit card was created by B of A sending a ton of unsolicited mail. As of this year, 38% of US households carry some sort of credit card debt, and the average debt for those indebted households is over $16k. Even more shocking is the total credit card debt for the US as a whole: $929B. #ThanksFresno.

Brace yourselves — “Hangover-free” alcohol could replace all booze by 2050. A professor at Imperial College in London has discovered a new type of synthetic alcohol that provide all the fun, but doesn’t cause a dry mouth, nausea and a throbbing headache. Now the question is, can we expedite the process?

Back in 2015, LinkedIn bought Lynda for a cool $1.5B, it’s largest acquisition yet. Now, 18 months later, the business network is finally bringing its billion dollar baby into the limelight with LinkedIn Learning, a new website dedicated to teaching users new skills and helping businesses train employees. LinkedIn’s new focus on education and learning fits perfectly with it’s primary role as a networking and recruiting hub. Looking for a job? LinkedIn. Need to develop new skills for said job? LinkedIn. It just makes too much sense.

When Uber bought Otto for $700m last month, people viewed it mainly as a “talent acquisition,” meaning the Ubes was interested in bringing on Otto’s 70 employees, not necessarily the core technology. Same story for GM’s $1B acquisition of Cruise in March. They wanted Cruise’s 40 self-driving car experts to come hang out in Detroit and do smart people things. That means that the going rate for self-driving car talent these days is at least $10m per person, which is insane. Companies are desperate for talent, and those with the skills are cashing in. Supply and demand, personified.

This is scary: Among the world’s 35 richest countries, the US has one of the lowest enrollment rates in early childhood education (pre-K). In fact, only Turkey, Switzerland, and Greece are worse. Why? Problem #1 is price, which has gotten completely out of hand. In 23 states, full-time preschool for a four-year-old is more expensive than in-state college tuition. That’s dumb. Problem #2 is the lack of quality across the board, especially for lower-income families. Basically, if you aren’t able to pay a massive price, your child isn’t going to get the type of education he or she needs. So why even send them? That’s the issue that needs to be solved.

According to new data, 32,000 Japanese citizens turned 100-years-old this year. There are now over 65,000 folks that have crossed the century mark in Japan. That’s 10,000 less than there are in America, but Japan’s population is also a third the size of the US. Here’s the problem: Of their 127m citizens, 25% are over 65 (Baby Boomers only make up 13.5% in the US) and by 2060, that number is expected to rise to 40% of the population. The Japanese government realizes no economy can support such a large percentage of the population retiring and becoming full-time consumers, so it recently raised the official age of retirement. But wait, there’s more: Younger generations aren’t making babies. Japan’s fertility rate is 1.4 babies per woman, far below the 2.1 rate a country must maintain to keep its population from shrinking. Combine all these factors and you get what economists call a “demographic time bomb”.

That was kind of depressing. So here’s a dog going down a slide and having a grand ole time. Just look at the tail wag. Majestic.

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