Thursday, January 20th, 2022


Shock and Thaw

I am probably America's most prolific consumer of sugar-free popsicles. I chew ice so often that my family got me a special machine that makes small, soft ice so my habit would be less loud and annoying while we're watching TV. When my kids tell me to chill out, I take it literally. When my wife asks me if I want to Netflix and Chill, she means watching a movie and having some more popsicles. My favorite Neil Diamond song is Love on the Rocks (and that ain't no big surprise). Even my personality could be described as cold. I'm a fridge magnet, so I'm part of the problem. From our food to our bodies, humans like things cool. But the cold, hard truth is that refrigerators and air conditioning are part of a vicious cycle that's damaging the environment. The more we chill, the more the planet heats up. The more the planet heats up, the more chilling we require. But wait, aren't our products becoming more efficient? Yes, but the more efficient they become, the more widely they are used. David Owen in The New Yorker: How the Refrigerator Became an Agent of Climate Catastrophe.

+ I'll stop the world and melt with you: The irony of all this chilling is that it is leading to more warming and that warming is melting the world's ice. And that melting releases more carbon into the atmosphere which leads to more warming. Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker: The Great Siberian Thaw. "Over thousands of years, the frozen earth swallowed up all manner of organic material, from tree stumps to woolly mammoths. As the permafrost thaws, microbes in the soil awaken and begin to feast on the defrosting biomass. It's a funky, organic process, akin to unplugging your freezer and leaving the door open, only to return a day later to see that the chicken breasts in the back have begun to rot. In the case of permafrost, this microbial digestion releases a constant belch of carbon dioxide and methane. Scientific models suggest that the permafrost contains one and a half trillion tons of carbon, twice as much as is currently held in Earth's atmosphere." (Humanity is on thin ice...)


Food Laborious Food

"At its peak, 18.5 million kids relied on Pandemic-EBT, which began under the Trump administration and continued under President Biden. The program gave families forced home a debit-card benefit to use at the grocery store, for some online food shopping or even at farmers markets. Now the program is flagging. Most states have not applied for the school year that began in September. Experts say the pandemic has changed in ways that make maintaining the program an impossible burden for already strapped administrators." WaPo (Gift Article): Biden renewed a free program to feed needy kids. Most states haven't even applied. (Running a school system during good times is hard. During a pandemic, it's brutal. Our systems are exhausted.)


Chief Revenue Officers

"The town of 1,253 just north of Birmingham reported just 55 serious crimes to the state in the entire eight year period between 2011 and 2018 – none of them homicide or rape. But in 2018 it began building a police empire, hiring more and more officers to blanket its six miles of roads and mile-and-a-half jurisdiction on Interstate 22 ... By 2020 officers in the sleepy town were undergoing SWAT training and dressing in riot gear, even as the city continued with only a volunteer fire department. It parked a riot control vehicle — townspeople call it a tank — outside the municipal complex and community center. Traffic tickets, and criminalizing those who passed through, became the city's leading industry ... the town with no traffic lights collected $487 in fines and forfeitures in 2020 for every man, woman and child." Police in this tiny Alabama town suck drivers into legal black hole.


Incursion Reversion

"Blinken's comments in Berlin appeared to be another effort to clear up any confusion about the position of the U.S. and its NATO allies after U.S. President Joe Biden was heavily criticized for saying a 'minor incursion' by Russia would elicit a lesser response. 'If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border and commit new acts of aggression against Ukraine, that will be met with a swift, severe, united response from the United States and our allies and partners.'" AP: US: Swift, severe response if Russia sends troops to Ukraine.

+ Slate: How Big of a Mistake Did Biden Just Make on Ukraine?

+ Biden approval hits new low at one-year mark.


Extra, Extra

Orange Peel: The Supreme Court allows Jan. 6 committee to get Trump documents. The committee has invited Ivanka to come in for a chat. The Georgia DA asks for special grand jury in election probe. And the New York AG says Trump's company misled banks, tax officials. (At this point, Dick Wolf could launch a new series, Law & Order: Trump.)

+ Home Bound: "With the 2022 Winter Olympics taking place in Beijing in less than two weeks, NBC Sports announced Wednesday that it will not be sending any announcing teams to this year's Games." COVID concerns will keep NBC announcers home from the Beijing Olympics.

+ Technological Change: These vending machines sell internet access five minutes at a time. "For many Filipinos, coins are the currency of the internet."


Bottom of the News

Reporter Tori Yorgey was giving a live news report, when she was accidentally hit from behind by a car. She just kept reporting.

+ Stranded dog saved from rising tide after rescuers attach sausage to drone.

+ Pam & Tommy makers open up about show's animatronic talking penis scene. (Oddly, the trailer for this series actually looks pretty good.)