Thursday, June 1st, 2023



The line between mental and physical issues will always be blurred because the brain is part of the body. Every now and then we get a stark reminder of this as we did in the case of April Burrell, who went from being an outgoing, straight-A student to being catatonic. It took decades, but April's doctors eventually "discovered that although April's illness was clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia, she also had lupus, an underlying and treatable autoimmune condition that was attacking her brain.
After months of targeted treatments — and more than two decades trapped in her mind — April woke up." WaPo (Gift Article): A catatonic woman awakened after 20 years. Her story may change psychiatry. Now, "scientists around the world [are] finding that underlying autoimmune and inflammatory processes may be more common in patients with a variety of psychiatric syndromes than previously believed." Like I always say, there's a clear mind/body connection: The neck.


Sun Day Fun Day

"The International Energy Agency just published its annual report on global investment in energy, where it tallies up all that cash. The world saw about $2.8 trillion of investments in energy in 2022, with about $1.7 trillion of that going into clean energy. That's the biggest single-year investment in clean energy ever, and where it's all going is pretty interesting." MIT Tech Review follows the money to see where energy investments are being made, and you can follow along. The world is finally spending more on solar than oil production.

+ Of course, any time you follow the money, you can wind up where you least expect. Reuters: Rich nations say they're spending billions to fight climate change. Some money is going to strange places. "Although a coal plant, a hotel, chocolate stores, a movie and an airport expansion don't seem like efforts to combat global warming, nothing prevented the governments that funded them from reporting them as such to the United Nations and counting them toward their giving total. In doing so, they broke no rules. That's because the pledge came with no official guidelines for what activities count as climate finance."


Spending a Message

How's the economy really doing? Are we headed for a recession? Are things about to turn around? For some answers, we could always turn to big, national retailers like Costco and Macy's, both of which are telling a very similar story. Macy's and Costco sound a warning about the economy. Of course, when it comes to the economy, the story is never straightforward, and while retailers are seeing a customer pullback, "strong demand remains for in-person experiences such as travel and dining out. That means big business for leisure and hospitality, as spending is expected to pick up this summer as consumers open up their wallets for memorable experiences." Let's just hope that one of those experiences isn't a full-blown recession.


Scissor Kicks

"Stephen Butkus is a total copycat. The 71-year-old clips newspaper and magazine articles at home in Sudbury, Mass., where he keeps a photocopier, envelopes and stamps to mail copies to family and friends. 'We try to inform and amuse,' Butkus said of his longtime habit of circulating stuff he reads.'" Sarah E. Needleman in WSJ (Gift Article) in the folks doing their own version of NextDraft, old school style. Die-Hards Still Mailing Newspaper Clips to Family and Friends. "Some people still deliver news, tips and the occasional obituary to their grown children using scissors, stamps and envelopes." (I share in the modern way, but I only accept criticism via snail mail.)


Extra, Extra

Raise the Roof: "Days away from a default crisis, the U.S. Senate dashed on Thursday to wrap up work on a debt ceiling and budget cuts package that overwhelmingly cleared a House vote, aiming to send it to President Joe Biden's desk to become law before the fast-approaching deadline." We should have never let our national finances get to the brink, but in the end, things were resolved in a fairly sane and largely bipartisan way.

+ Soldier, No Fortune: In a case that riveted Australians, decorated solider Ben Roberts-Smith sued "three Australian newspapers over a series of articles in 2018 which he says defamed him. He argues they ruined his life by painting him as a callous man who had broken the moral and legal rules of war, disgracing his country in the process." His suit did not go well. A judge said four of the six murder allegations - all denied by the soldier - were substantially true.

+ Love is a Drug: "Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran." There have been many leaked details that make things look legally bad for Trump. What none of these details seem to do is shake the affection of his base. David Graham in The Atlantic (Gift Article): They Still Love Him.

+ That Thirty to Life Show: "That '70s Show star Danny Masterson was led out in handcuffs from a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday and could get 30 years to life in prison after a jury found him guilty on two of three counts of rape at his second trial, in which the Church of Scientology played a central role."

+ Throw the Book at Em: "In an age where book regulations are becoming common and frequent, suggestions from teachers and librarians have never been more influential." Raj Tawney on the importance of recommending books, now more than ever. The Teacher Who Inspired Me to Be Who I Am Today.

+ Broad Band: "Imagine you're practicing with a band and someone walks in with a new instrument. You and your pals will probably want to check it out, see how you might jam with it. You probably wouldn't jump to the conclusion that your guitar is obsolete and this is the end of music." Robotics professor extraordinaire Ken Goldberg thinks were so worried about AI that were missing the positives. AI's Creative Upside.

+ Game 7 (Weight) Loss: And here's a little warmup for what should be a fun NBA Finals: "For years, Jokic had been told by coaches, executives and talking heads in the media that he needed to get in better condition if he wanted to succeed in the NBA. But now it was coming from within. It was time for Jokic to hear this. 'You can be MVP in this league,' Eichenberger told him." A car ride and a Game 7 loss that activated Nikola Jokic into an MVP.


Bottom of the News

You "braved the pouring rain to watch your favourite artist perform in what should be an unforgettable evening. But three hours and over 40 songs later, you get home and realized you can't remember a thing. It sounds almost unbelievable, but many Taylor Swift fans are claiming to suffer from 'post-concert amnesia.'" (Parents mostly wish they had amnesia about the ticket prices.)