Tuesday, March 29th, 2022


Ion The Prize

Moving to our electric car future will change a lot. What it won't change is the international competition to extract underground resources, even as we move from black gold to the lightest metal. "Much of the world's lithium comes from South America and Australia, and China dominates the worldwide supply chain for lithium-ion batteries ... Lithium was discovered by Swedish chemist Johan August Arfwedson more than 200 years ago. Since then, lithium and its compounds have been used in everything from psychiatric medicine to lubricating grease. But interest in lithium has exploded in recent years because of its use in rechargeable batteries for electric and hybrid cars, lawnmowers, power tools and more." (Long story short, we might save the Earth but run out of lube.) While oil and natural gas extraction pits the environment vs our demand for fuel, the Lithium debate pits the environment today vs the environment tomorrow. AP: US seeks new lithium sources as demand for batteries grows.

+ Climate groups say a change in coding can reduce bitcoin energy consumption by 99%. "Bitcoin mining already uses as much energy as Sweden, according to some reports, and its booming popularity is revitalizing failing fossil fuel enterprises in the US. But all that could change with a simple switch in the way it is coded." (Alternatively, we could just get rid of Sweden...)


Reflexive Pronouns

Politico with the backstory of how a lawsuit over a teen spurred Florida Republicans to pass the ‘Don't Say Gay' law. "On that September day in 2020, after Littlejohn picked her teen up from school, she was struck by an offhand comment the 13-year-old made: The teen said 'it was funny' when school staffers asked what gender restroom they preferred to use in response to their new name. This conversation proved to be a tipping point for the Littlejohns, who sued Leon County Schools in 2021 claiming that school officials helped their child transition to a different gender without informing them." (Because that's how it happens. One day you're happy with your gender. Then a teacher asks which restroom you want to use and, on a whim, you decide you've been living the wrong pronoun.)


Neutral Current

We're seeing some glimmers of hope in the Russia/Ukraine negotiations. "Russia said it would 'drastically reduce combat operations' around the capital, Kyiv, and the northern city Chernihiv. Ukraine's team said they would accept a 'neutral' status for the country - which would mean not joining alliances like Nato - in return for security guarantees." This is a big walkback from Russia and they're reducing combat missions in areas where they seem to be taking massive losses. But in the end, it all comes down to the Moscow Murderer. Here's the latest from BBC.

+ "Both Ukraine and Russia may find something palatable in it. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has acknowledged that Ukraine will not actually join NATO, and Ukrainian officials have indicated they're open to discussing Ukraine's status. It may also be something Russia could accept, if keeping NATO out of Ukraine, and away from Russia's borders, is an outcome Russian President Vladimir Putin could spin at home." Vox: What, exactly, is a 'neutral' Ukraine?

+ Roman Hrybov, the author of the famous 'Go f-ck yourself Russian warship' phrase has returned home. ("Oh, you're an author? Have you written anything I might have heard of?" ... Actually, yes!)


Fall Into the Gap

Sometimes I wish Nixon were still alive to see how not bad he was. Not only have Trump's crimes completely eclipsed any of Nixon's, but now Trump is even moving in on Nixon's territory with a Bob Woodward byline about a gap in the records. Jan. 6 White House logs given to House show 7-hour gap in Trump calls. When criminals get away with things, they just keep on committing crimes. Either we have laws or we don't.


Extra, Extra

Roll Up Your Sleeve Again: The FDA has authorized a second booster shot for Americans over 50. Yes, Covid is still here (Omicron subvariant BA.2 is now the dominant strain in the US). Though you might not know that from federal funding, both at home and abroad.

+ Water Landing: "Until recently, huge distances, a scattered population, and lack of internet access have made e-commerce unviable in French Polynesia. In the last few years, however, a nascent courier scene has taken off, making it possible for islanders to access an ocean of e-commerce products that were previously unavailable. As the global online shopping market continues to grow — a trend that has been augmented by the Covid-19 pandemic — local services are closing the last gaps for those living in some of the world's most remote places." Rest of World: Online shopping in the middle of the ocean.

+ Dying Wolf: "Of the Western states, Idaho has long had a reputation as the most hostile toward the gray wolf, a once endangered species; it's legal to slay pups in their dens there. But last spring the state legislature dramatically broadened opportunities to target wolves. For the first time, sportsmen could kill an unlimited number. Trappers could operate year-round on private property. Night-vision goggles, silencers, snowmobiles, A.T.V.s—all legal, though such tactics pose ethical concerns about 'fair chase.' Sportsmen could now use motorized vehicles to pursue wolves to the point of exhaustion, or simply run them over. The state's intensifying embrace of wolf hunting was based, in part, on the misconception that wolves were decimating elk and livestock. Over all, these populations were holding steady." The New Yorker: Killing Wolves to Own the Libs? (If you want to own the libs, you might want to focus less on wolves and more on purse dogs.)


Bottom of the News

"He says the Oxford City Council ignored his father's other message this week when it designated the structure a heritage site that makes a "special contribution" to the community. Bill Heine installed the shark without the approval of local officials because he didn't think they should have the right to decide what art people see, and the council spent years trying to remove the sculpture." UK Shark House owner dismayed at getting protected status. Shark Tanks, But No Tanks...