Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021


Life in a Northern Town

"The thawing permafrost, which can heave or slump, has ruptured roads and exposed the macabre contents of old graves. Extremely windy, heavy snowstorms—once rare—have triggered deadly avalanches on the mountain slopes looming above Longyearbyen. Yet the snow season is shorter. The sea ice is retreating. Glaciers that reach down from the mountains are among the most rapidly melting on earth ... Svalbard's polar bears and reindeer are struggling to find food." Let's take a quick trip to Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard for a front row seat to climate change. It is the fastest-warming town in the world. (It's not alone. There's a backlog of customers here in Sausalito waiting to get air conditioning units installed.) Scientific American: The World's Northernmost Town Is Changing Dramatically.

+ Svalbard isn't just home to climate's most dramatic changes. It's also the place where we measure the impact of climate change across the rest of the planet. A very cool photographic essay from the NYT: Here's the Arctic Station That Keeps Satellites Connected.


The Rent is Too Damn Nigh

"Although the policy has been far from perfect at keeping renters housed, it's reduced the normal number of eviction filings over the same time period by at least a half ... Around 15% of adult renters are not current on their housing payments." CNBC: Millions of Americans could face eviction as housing protection expires in June.


The Vote Moat

"It remains unclear whether 50 Senate Democrats will ever prove willing to reform or end the filibuster, and more to the point, whether Biden will put real muscle behind that cause. If not, such protections will never, ever pass. Now, in a striking intervention, more than 100 scholars of democracy have signed a new public statement of principles that seeks to make the stakes unambiguously, jarringly clear: On the line is nothing less than the future of our democracy itself." WaPo: A frantic warning from 100 leading experts: Our democracy is in grave danger. (Even a layperson can see that at this point...)


Cal R.I.P. Kin

"The region has long been one of the most forceful in its pushback against measures such as masks, business restrictions and vaccine mandates – and the protests have only continued to gain steam. A cafe in the town of Mendocino made headlines after announcing it will charge customers a $5 fee if they order while wearing a mask. It also threatened to charge $5 to anyone 'caught bragging about your vaccine.'" Now this rural NorCal town is known for something other than flouting Covid protections. Rising cases.

+ "The White House on Wednesday announced a series of initiatives — with an array of partners including Black-owned barbershops, child care providers and colleges — to boost the nation's slowing COVID-19 vaccination rates." (OK, here's the sales pitch: YOU LIVE!)

+ "The emergence of more virulent variants of the virus in countries like Brazil and India and the slowness of vaccination efforts in many places outside the West have contributed to deadly new waves. Coronavirus case counts worldwide are already higher in 2021 than they were in 2020. The death toll almost certainly will be." WaPo: The pandemic is getting worse, even when it seems like it's getting better. (What would America look like without vaccines? Look around the world, there are many examples.)


Advantage Osaka

"The leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments reacted Tuesday to tennis star Naomi Osaka's stunning withdrawal from the French Open by promising to address players' concerns about mental health." Grand Slam leaders pledge to address Naomi Osaka's concerns. Another angle to this story: There's not a tennis fan alive who cares one iota about post-match press conferences.


Where the Rubbers Meet the Road

"U.S. sales of paper and plastic products, which includes items such as toilet paper, fell 18.3% in the four weeks up to May 1 compared with the same period last year. Baking supplies fell 35.6%." Enough with the solo baking. Americans are ready to break bread with others. Americans are buying lots of deodorant, teeth whiteners and cosmetics as they prepare to socialize anew. "Sales of perfume, nail polish, swimsuits, sunscreen, tuxedos, luggage and alarm clocks are climbing fast." And needless to say, condoms sales are bursting...


Do or DIY

"The Kargu-2 is an attack drone made by the Turkish company STM that can be operated both autonomously and manually and that purports to use 'machine learning' and 'real-time image processing' against its targets." A Military Drone With A Mind Of Its Own Was Used In Combat. "Military-grade autonomous drones can fly themselves to a specific location, pick their own targets and kill without the assistance of a remote human operator." (I can't even get my Roomba to work.)


Window Blind

"During migration, tens of thousands of birds crash into our skyscrapers. A few volunteer EMTs rush in to help." Curbed: Day With New York's Bird Paramedics. "When they strike a window at full speed, they knock themselves unconscious and fall. New York City Audubon estimates that 90,000 to 230,000 migratory birds die in New York City every year from building collisions."


Wing Nuts

"Uber Eats estimates the number of virtual brands on its platform more than tripled in 2020, to over 10,000. Grubhub reports a similar boom. According to a report the company released this year, 15 percent of restaurants operated a virtual brand before the pandemic. By the end of 2020, 51 percent had at least one. And many have more than one brand. A lot more." To See the Future of Food Delivery, Just Look at Chicken Wings. (That's also a reasonably effective way to see the future of chickens.)


Bottom of the News

"If you're the kind of person who thinks they'd do anything for their dog, you'll probably relate to this wild viral video of a teenager shoving a large bear to protect her dogs." (Next time Goldilocks complains that the porridge is too cold, the bears best heat it up.)

+ A boat burst into flames after its passengers allegedly harassed a group flying LGBTQ Pride flags. Yacht-zee!

+ Danish radio journalist interviewed man while having sex with him at swingers club.

+ Former President Donald Trump's blog has been permanently shut down. (In the blogging world, we call this a failure to keep it up.)