Thursday, May 20th, 2021


F The World…

Lightning has struck. Actually it will strike in the spring of 2022 when the electric Ford F-150 Lightning hits dealerships. Yes, electric cars have been around and many more are on the way. But the F-150 is on another level when it comes to sales and could therefore help America hit another level when it comes to decarbonization. It's "the country's best-selling vehicle in every year since Donkey Kong debuted and Ronald Reagan entered the White House ... 'There's lots of different kinds of sodas; there's only one Coke. There's lots of different electric pickup trucks, but there's only one F-150,' Jim Farley, Ford's chief executive, told me, which may sound immodest but actually borders on understatement: Receipts from F-Series trucks alone exceed Coca-Cola's annual corporate revenue; that of every major U.S. sports league, combined; or Disney's global theme-park business ... Or more relevant, for our purposes: Ford sells about 900,000 F-150s every year; all automakers collectively sold 250,000 new EVs total last year." Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic: Stop Worrying and Love the F-150 Lightning. (Now I just need an excuse to need a truck. I'll look a little weird driving around with just my MacBook Air in the bed...)

+ NPR: Why Ford Unveiling An Electric F-150 Is A Big Deal. (And why the biggest nearterm hurdle will be convincing folks to go electric.)

+ And because you just needed a smart toaster during the pandemic, the rollout of these cars will face an industry-wide challenge. The chip shortage.


… Before the World Effs Us

The F-150 is part of a human race against time. And for now, climate change has a big lead. The Guardian: Climate disasters ‘caused more internal displacement than war' in 2020.

+ The World's Largest Iceberg Breaks Off of Antarctica. "The chunk of ice is larger than the state of Rhode Island."


Will This One Go Past Eleven?

"Reporting from Gaza, the BBC's Rushdi Abualouf said sources told him the Israeli government had informed Egypt it would accept a ceasefire after its cabinet meeting." After 11 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas may be ready to call a ceasefire.


Roe of Bricks

"The Supreme Court's decision Monday to hear a case about a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks could end up weakening or even overturning Roe v. Wade. Depending on the ruling, legal abortion access could effectively end for those living in much of the American South and Midwest, especially those who are poor." NYT: Where Abortion Access Would Decline if Roe v. Wade Were Overturned.


The Hole Truth

In a pretty surprising House move, "thirty-five Republicans defied their party leaders and former President Donald Trump in siding with Democrats by 252-175 to establish" a January 6 Commission. That said, the commission looks nearly dead on arrival in the Senate. When GOP House members are more interested in the truth than you are, you might have a problem.


Assad Ending to A Sad Story

"Both countries have promoted their respective languages, Farsi and Russian, for instruction in Syrian schools. Both have signed contracts to construct flour mills amid a dire shortage of bread. Both are building power plants. And both have been vying for contracts in oil extraction, phosphate mining and port construction worth many millions of dollars." WaPo: After backing Assad, Iran and Russia compete for influence and spoils of war. (A reminder that sometimes the arc of history bends towards the bad guys.)


Duck Duck Loose

"In the nineties, a frustrated artist in Berlin went on a crime spree—building bombs, extorting high-end stores, and styling his persona after Scrooge McDuck. He soon became a German folk hero." Jeff Maysh in The New Yorker: The Strange Story of Dagobert, the "DuckTales" Bandit.


Neck Out of the Woods

"Giraffes have sky-high blood pressure because of their sky-high heads that, in adults, rise about six meters above the ground — a long, long way for a heart to pump blood against gravity. To have a blood pressure of 110/70 at the brain — about normal for a large mammal — giraffes need a blood pressure at the heart of about 220/180. It doesn't faze the giraffes, but a pressure like that would cause all sorts of problems for people, from heart failure to kidney failure to swollen ankles and legs." What can we learn from the cardiovascular secrets of giraffes? (It's all about exercise and diet, which is why I now roam the open plains and woodlands in the savannas of Africa and eat about 45kg of twigs and leaves a day. I've just got to stop dipping them in ranch.)



"Obama was asked about the issue of UFOs during an interview on Tuesday, the former president confirming 'footage and records' of unidentified objects exist." I've seen the saucers: Obama weighs in as US interest in UFOs rises. (I used to be scared of alien-led abductions. But after the past few years in America, I'm actually open to trying something less weird.)


Bottom of the News

"In the latest twist in this family drama, Tatiana Akhmedova has hired veterans of the Special Boat Service—the British equivalent of the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team 6—to seize the $500-million superyacht purchased by her ex-husband, Farkhad Akhmedov, a 66-year-old oil and gas tycoon and ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin." Russian Oligarch's Ex-Wife Hires Ex-Military Team to Seize His Megayacht.

+ "I would not have expected self-described 'bird nerds' to be the sort who would try to stuff me in a locker. But that was before the Green Heron Incident." I have birding enemies.