Crank Call: Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held a two hour conversation on Thursday. The call was partly focused on Taiwan and Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip there. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summed up the call thusly: “Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.” (Compared to dealing with Congress, Biden probably enjoyed the relief of playing with fire for a couple hours.)

+ Swap Meeting of Minds? “U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Washington had offered Russia a deal that would bring home Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. A person familiar with the matter said the U.S. government proposed trading convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Whelan and Griner.” (The deal was offered a couple weeks ago. Letting the press in on it is likely about getting Russia to respond.)

+ I Know a Guy Who Knows a Guise: “Brooks’ brother had been a resident of the nursing home. But she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him. She wondered how she could be on the hook for his nearly $8,000 bill.” Nursing homes are suing friends and family to collect on patients’ bills.

+ Cloud Atlas: “I listen to the ambient din of fans roaring and cannot discern the sound of overheating he is describing. My untrained ear cannot differentiate that noise from the rest of the mechanical thrumming around me. But Tom can. Conditioned by countless hours in these mechanical halls, he hears the individual parts in a symphony of beeps, tones and pulses coming from air conditioners, power distribution units, servers, smoke detectors, fire prevention systems, ungrounded cables, and heat. In this world of computational chill, heat is nuisance, an invisible enemy and index of harm.” Meet the people of the cloud. “There is nothing soft and fluffy about the caretaking work that enables our digital lives.” (Which is lucky, otherwise these people would be known as fluffers…)

+ Bronze Medal: “Scientists at the University of Cambridge said the HSV-1 strain of the herpes virus arose during vast migrations of people from Eurasia to Europe about 5,000 years ago.” Cold sores traced back to kissing in Bronze Age. (Don’t blame me. I didn’t score once in the Bronze Age.)