☕ Zombie pigs

Reconsidering the definition of "death"...
August 04, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning. Former President Barack Obama turns 60 today, which means we're kicking off the newsletter with a brain blast about presidential ages:

  • Obama was inaugurated when he was 47. Only four presidents—Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Ulysses S. Grant—were younger when they were inaugurated.
  • The average age of a president at inauguration is 55.
  • Barack Obama is younger now than his VP Joe Biden was when Obama was first inaugurated. Biden, who was 78 at his own inauguration, is the oldest person to become president.

Neal Freyman, Jamie Wilde














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 7:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: You have our permission to cautiously check your brokerage account again. Stocks boomed yesterday as a wave of positive indicators, from strong earnings reports to optimistic economic data, streamed in. PayPal helped push the Nasdaq to a three-month high.


What happens when you die?

South Park GIF with the caption South Park/Paramount Global via Giphy

Well, if you're a group of pigs in an experiment at Yale, you partially come back to life.

These mind-blowing results were detailed in a new paper that dropped yesterday in Nature, which may force us to reconsider how we define the line between life and death. Happy Thursday.

What happened: Researchers at Yale induced cardiac arrest in some pigs, taking precautions to avoid causing the animals any suffering. The pigs were dead for an hour before something almost miraculous happened—their hearts began to beat again. Cells that had been dead were revived, and began healing themselves.

These pigs were in no way conscious, but, according to Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan, "We restored some functions of cells across multiple vital organs that should have been dead without our interventions."

…how? Channeling their inner mixologists, the Yale team crafted a proprietary cocktail including nutrients, nerve blockers, anti-inflammatory meds, and other drugs. They mixed this solution, called OrganEx, with the pigs' blood, and pumped it back through their bodies—that's when some of those organs started to wake up from their slumber.

What it could mean for humans

A primary goal of this experiment, the scientists said, is to use this technology to increase the number of organs available for transplant. Right now, 17 people die every day waiting for an organ, but 20% of donor organs are discarded due to poor quality, Wired reports. The Yale technology could be leveraged to preserve human organs for longer—and even reverse damage to them—to increase organ supply for people who need them.

Another, more ethically tricky, use case could be to restore brain activity in patients who suffer a heart attack or a severe stroke. But that's for another day's Brew—the researchers warned that this tech isn't "clinically relevant" at this point, and any application for humans is far down the road.

Big picture: These results could lead scientists and bioethicists to revisit their timeline of when a person should be considered dead. Because what the pig study shows is that cells may be able to recover after being deprived of oxygen and blood for a lot longer period than we've understood.—NF



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Tour de headlines

Alex Jones Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Alex Jones said the Sandy Hook shooting actually happened. The conspiracy theorist acknowledged that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was "100% real" in a defamation trial over his repeated lies that the school shooting was a hoax. Families of the victims, who testified that Jones's falsehoods turned their lives into a "living hell," are seeking at least $150 million in damages. In one remarkable point in the trial, the lawyer representing the Sandy Hook parents revealed that Jones's lawyer mistakenly sent him two years' worth of texts from Jones's phone.

LIV golfers sue the PGA Tour: Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers who play in the LIV Golf series filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, which suspended more than 24 golfers who defected to play on the upstart LIV circuit. Three of the plaintiffs are golfers who want a temporary restraining order given so that they can play in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoff events that begin next week. This suit presents another legal headache for the PGA Tour, which is already under investigation by the DOJ for potentially anti-competitive behavior as it's tried to fight back against LIV.

There's a new meme stock in town. AMTD Digital, a Hong Kong-based fintech company, staged an epic stock rally, at one point touching a market value of more than $450 billion—ahead of Meta, Alibaba, and Disney. While shares fell about 34% yesterday, it's still up 14,000% since its IPO last month. The company said there are "no material circumstances" for its stock spiking, but nonetheless thanked investors (aka the hordes of Reddit traders who pumped its value). It was the most-mentioned stock on the platform yesterday.


Make that 50 days of falling gas prices

A map showing gas prices in all 50 US states The Wall Street Journal, Oil Price Information Service

Sorry you didn't win the Mega Millions—but, hey, at least you're paying a lot less for gas.

The national average gas price has fallen for 50 straight days after another drop on Wednesday to $4.16 a gallon, per AAA. It's down a full 86 cents, or 17%, from the record high of $5.02 hit on June 14. President Biden tweeted that more than half of gas stations in the US are selling gas for less than $4 a gallon.

What's driving the plunge: The economist's creed "the best cure for high prices is high prices" seems relevant. As gas prices surged in the early part of the summer, drivers say they've cut down on their driving levels, leading to lower demand for fuel.

  • Almost two-thirds of US adults made adjustments to their driving habits since March, according to AAA's survey from late July.
  • Of those who made changes, 88% said they were driving less.

And not to be a total Debbie Downer, but lower gas prices also reflect the global economic downturn. Oil prices (which are a major contributor to gas prices) have fallen as backsliding countries reduce their fuel consumption. So to sum up: Sure, you can rejoice about gas prices falling...just don't think too hard about why they're falling or you'll lose your buzz.

Looking ahead…experts predict that gas prices could keep dropping as the summer travel season winds down. GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis told the WSJ that, barring any more supply disruptions, the national average will fall "noticeably" under $4 a gallon in the fall.—NF



'Batgirl' will never see the light of day

Batgirl Photo Illustration: Dianna "Mick" McDougall, Sources: Warner Bros., Getty Images

And not because she's nocturnal. In a move that reportedly surprised even the film's directors, Warner Bros. shelved Batgirl on Tuesday, just months before its scheduled release. The $90 million film won't be shown in theaters or even on the studio's streamer, HBO Max. Scoob! 2 also got scrappy'd after running up $40 million in production costs—meaning both movies are among the most expensive ever canceled.

Why'd they get axed? The New York Post, which first reported the news, claims Batgirl's poor performance in recent test screenings led Warner Bros. to can it before any rotten tomatoes could stain the DC brand.

But the studio's official reason is "leadership's strategic shift" following its merger with Discovery and the appointment of CEO David Zaslav earlier this year. Batgirl was planned before that shake-up, at a time when Warner Bros. prioritized growing HBO Max by releasing movies on the service and in theaters on the same day. Zaslav has said he plans to reverse that strategy and reprioritize exclusive theatrical releases. Zaslav is also known for aggressively cutting costs, and Variety's sources say the top reason Warner Bros. axed Batgirl and Scoob! 2 was for the tax write-downs.—JW



Key performance indicators

Starbucks iced coffee illlustration Francis Scialabba

Stat: It's time to retire the "hot coffee" vs. "iced coffee" debate. It's over. On Tuesday, Starbucks said that cold drinks accounted for 75% of its beverage sales last quarter, thanks to Gen Z's preference for customizing them and posting their concoctions on social media. Before you respond, "Of course people are going to prefer cold drinks during the summer!" know that across the entire previous fiscal year cold beverages made up nearly 70% of the company's beverage sales.

Quote: "I've never seen a piece of space junk fall like this."

Astrophysicist Brad Tucker reacted to the discovery that debris from a SpaceX capsule landed in a field in New South Wales, Australia. Objects in space frequently fall back to Earth, but most of the time they splash down in oceans. It's possible that land landings could become more common given the surge in rockets going to space, per the BBC.

Read: How did a dating app become my longest running relationship? (The Cut)


Free course alert: LinkedIn Learning published its 20 most popular courses in the first half of 2022 and made them free to access until the end of August.

Vin Scully could do it all: The late Dodgers broadcaster spun a yarn about rattlesnakes while not missing a single pitch of the game he was calling. Watch the clip.

Cha-ching: Get finance industry updates faster than you can say "cash flow projections" at CFO Brew, a new Brew newsletter all about global finance. It's helping finance professionals everywhere stay on top of this ever-changing industry.

Who's on the $50 bill? Dunno, but we do know The Motley Fool just updated their list of "5 Growth Stocks Under $49." They first told people to buy Netflix at $1.85, so they have demonstrated the ability to know potential when they see it. Get the list here.*

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  • US Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana died in a car crash yesterday. Three other people were killed in the crash.
  • Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg is leaving the company after less than a year on the job. The dating app is also canceling plans to launch virtual currencies and metaverse-based dating.
  • Hackers drained about 8,000 wallets on the increasingly popular Solana network, amounting to estimated losses of ~$8 million.
  • An explainer on the highly secretive missile that took out al-Qaida's leader last weekend.
  • Podcast guests are paying up to $50,000 to be interviewed on a single episode in the new era of "pay for play" podcasting.


The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Today's Mini is a hoot. Play it here.

3 headlines and a lie

Three of these headlines are real and one is faker than whatever you tell your dentist about your flossing habits. Can you guess the odd one out?

  1. To manage crowds, Maine's Acadia National Park will give priority entry to visitors with L.L. Bean gear
  2. PETA says Gordon Ramsay's kids should go vegan and 'disown him' after controversial TikTok video
  3. Passenger fined $1,874 after two undeclared McMuffins found in luggage
  4. Fancy Feast will serve humans cat food-inspired dishes at an exclusive NYC pop-up restaurant

Better to buy or lease a car?

Better to buy or lease a car?

Unfortunately, 2022 is…not a great time to buy a vehicle, as anyone who's perused the market knows. This episode of The Money with Katie Show breaks down the lease vs. buy decision. Listen or watch here.

For more from the Brew:

Learn from today's leaders with the Brew's Leadership Accelerator. Speakers like Kat Cole of Athletic Greens will teach you how to guide teams to success.

Want personal finance help that's actually, well, personal? Shop Money with Katie's 2022 Wealth Planner for your very own wealth-building best friend.


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We made up the Acadia one.


Written by Neal Freyman and Jamie Wilde

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