Monday, May 3rd, 2021


Chips and Dip

You've probably heard that the chips are down for big carmakers, and that the global shortage of computer chips is threatening slowdowns for major tech companies like Apple and Samsung. But in an era when so many of our products require chips to function, the impact of the shortage is difficult to fully process (especially without processors). "Semiconductors are the brains behind most modern electronics, from computers and cellphones to smart toasters and washing machines ... Increasingly, however, semiconductors are enabling high-tech solutions to low-tech problems, such as vacuuming a carpet or cleaning a litter box. Chip-enabled lightbulbs and thermostats can be turned on and off over a WiFi connection." I'm not proud of it, but my litter box has WiFi. Now my dogs could be impacted as well. WaPo: How the global chip shortage might affect people who just want to wash their dogs. Chips, uh, oy.


The Best Laden Plans

"I knew that bin Laden was about 6-foot-4. I saw some young SEALS standing neaby and I said: 'Hey son, how tall are you?' He said, 'Sir, I'm 6' 2.' I say, 'I need you to lie down here.' He immediately understood what I was trying to do. The remains were a couple of inches longer." ... "The president at the moment quipped to Bill McRaven, You just blew up a $65 million helicopter and you don't have enough money to buy a tape measure?'" A decade after the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Garrett M. Graff collects an amazing oral history of how the plan unfolded. "I'd Never Been Involved in Anything as Secret as This."


Hey Hey, I Saved the World Today

"The debate has reignited decades-old tensions in global health, pitting such influential figures as Pope Francis, who backs the patent-waiver proposal, against philanthropist Bill Gates, who's opposed. It has also challenged U.S. officials who have prioritized this nation's coronavirus response but know that the virus's continued spread and mutation overseas will eventually pose risks to Americans." WaPo: White House is split over how to vaccinate the world.

+ "The only realistic way to accelerate vaccination elsewhere in the world is to expand vaccine manufacturing, and it turns out that the U.S. has a unique ability to make this happen." Tom Frieden and Marine Buissonnière: The U.S. Has the Power to Tamp Down Coronavirus Variants — If We're Willing to Use It. (This is about ethics and self-preservation and economics. But it's also about diplomacy. We've lost a ton of world leadership credibility during the 21st century. This is a chance to win some of it back.)


Deal with the Devil

"It would set a terrible precedent. If the Sacklers are allowed to use bankruptcy to escape the consequences of their actions, it would be a roadmap for other powerful bad actors." NPR: 24 States Mount Legal Fight To Block Sackler Bid For Opioid Immunity. "A negotiated settlement could preempt years of costly litigation — the Sacklers deny any wrongdoing — and might accelerate financial aid to communities struggling to recover from an opioid epidemic that has already cost more than 450,000 lives." (How do you give a deal to a company behind a product that killed 450,000 people? Imagine knowingly releasing Covid-19, seeing its death toll, and then responding by releasing more, over and over. That's the opiate crisis.)


The Boring 20s?

"According to psychologist Amanda Gesselman, associate director for research at Indiana University's Kinsey Institute, the pandemic has motivated American singles to look for partners rather than casual sex. While 'there will [certainly] be people having the time of their lives' when it's safe to do so, Gesselman says, 'we actually found that people are less interested in no-strings-attached sex than they used to be.'" Vox: Are we really in for a summer of love? A post-vaccine dating investigation. (At this point, I'd settle for returning to Haight Ashbury to dine indoors.)


Landlord of the Flies

"Budhoo had maxed his credit cards, applied for a secondary loan on his 2015 Mercedes-Benz, defaulted on $13,000 in property taxes, and started taking medication for panic attacks and stomach ulcers. 'Final collection notice,' read one of the bills that had been delivered to his own front door, and he'd begun mowing people's lawns and selling eggplants out of his garden to neighbors for a couple dollars each." Sure, tenants have had it rough during the pandemic. But so have landlords. Eli Saslow in WaPo: The battle for 1042 Cutler Street. "As landlords and tenants go broke across the U.S., the next crisis point of the pandemic approaches."



"But there is more to the story. We should not ignore expectations, the other aspect of the formula used in the World Happiness Report. Consistent with their Lutheran heritage, the Nordic countries are united in their embrace of curbed aspirations for the best possible life." Slate: The Grim Secret of Nordic Happiness. Are Nordic countries the happiest because of their reality or because of their expectations? (I have low expectations and am often miserable.)


Talk is Jeep

"Joe Biden and Donald Trump don't agree on much, but this much they do: We should buy American products. But that's easier said than done." Buying American is harder than it sounds. Jeep is a good example.


You’ve Got Fail

"Apollo is a private equity firm that owns the Venetian resort in Las Vegas and crafts retailer Michaels. Apollo co-founder Leon Black recently stepped down as Chairman, soon after it was revealed that he paid more than $150 million to Jeffrey Epstein. Yes, that Jeffrey Epstein." And Apollo is now the proud new owner of Yahoo and AOL after buying both from Verizon for about as much as Yahoo once paid for Broadcast dot com.


Bottom of the News

For months, my son has been telling me that Demon Slayer was going to become one of the top box office smashes of all time (possibly) and be the number one movie (for sure). I argued he was wildly overstating the popularity of the brand and genre based on his own obsession. Now, I have to give him credit. But I'm doing it in the one place he'll never look: NextDraft. "After becoming one of the most popular anime shows on the planet, Demon Slayer rode its mainstream popularity all the way to an astonishing $21 million opening weekend for its movie Demon Slayer: Mugen Train at the US domestic box office. That's the highest ever for an anime."

+ "The Ted in those old spots is cocky and clueless, parading around the soccer pitch in short shorts and aviator glasses. The joke is that he tries to impose an American way of doing things on the Brits, without a hint of self-awareness: When his players start calling him 'wanker,' he assumes it's a sign of respect." The Strange Bipartisan Appeal of Ted Lasso. (Ted Lasso is emotional vaccine.)