Sole Searching

Is Google Still a Thing? And reaching peak water.

Lycos. AltaVista. Excite. HotBot. AskJeeves. There were plenty of players vying for the crown when our internet experience migrated from directories to search. Then came Google, the monster that overtook the web. It’s been a hell of a run and Google is probably bigger and more deeply embedded into our culture than anyone imagined it would be. But, when it comes to search, is Google still the best way to experience the internet? And while we’re on the topic, is search the best way to find? Ryan Broderick in The Verge: “For two decades, Google Search was the largely invisible force that determined the ebb and flow of online content. Now, for the first time since Google’s launch, a world without it at the center actually seems possible. We’re clearly at the end of one era and at the threshold of another. But to understand where we’re headed, we have to look back at how it all started.” The end of the Googleverse. While we focus a lot on new consumer technologies like ChatGPT, Google has been changing what search means for years. What started as a tool to send you off to the correct destination on the web is now a machine designed to keep users on Google and learn more and more about them until you realize the thing being searched is you.

+ While we’re feeling a little nostalgia for the early web, has anyone noticed that Yahoo is still around … and growing? “Yahoo’s traffic ranks fifth across desktop and mobile last month, according to Comscore, trailing only Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.” How Yahoo sparked a renaissance under new owners.


That Sucking Sound

In the future, our most urgent searches might be for natural resources. We talk a lot about hitting peak oil. At the rate we’re sucking H2O out of the ground, we may have hit peak water. NYT (Gift Article): America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow. “Groundwater loss is hurting breadbasket states like Kansas, where the major aquifer beneath 2.6 million acres of land can no longer support industrial-scale agriculture. Corn yields have plummeted. If that decline were to spread, it could threaten America’s status as a food superpower. Fifteen hundred miles to the east, in New York State, overpumping is threatening drinking-water wells on Long Island, birthplace of the modern American suburb and home to working class towns as well as the Hamptons and their beachfront mansions. Around Phoenix, one of America’s fastest growing cities, the crisis is severe enough that the state has said there’s not enough groundwater in parts of the county to build new houses that rely on aquifers.” I drink your milkshake (because I ran out of other things to drink…)


Home School Math Lesson

“Farris made the same points he had made in courtrooms since the 1980s. Public schools were indoctrinating children with a secular worldview that amounted to a godless religion, he said. The solution: lawsuits alleging that schools’ teachings about gender identity and race are unconstitutional, leading to a Supreme Court decision that would mandate the right of parents to claim billions of tax dollars for private education or home schooling.” If you want to connect the dots when it comes to book bans and the relentless attacks on school boards (and many of our key national political battles), you have to understand this story. WaPo (Gift Article): The Christian home-schooler who made ‘parental rights’ a GOP rallying cry.


Bean There

“Sure, we’re talking about a restaurant in a strip mall. But to its regulars, a place like Java Jazz is the most special hole-in-the-wall in the world. And now more than ever, it’s a relief to see familiar faces.” NPR: This cafe never closed after Lahaina’s fires, extending a lifeline of normalcy.


Extra, Extra

Idalia Update: “Idalia has strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of up to 80 mph and is expected to intensify considerably into a powerful Category 3 hurricane before making landfall in Florida on Wednesday.” Here’s the latest on what looks to be a major storm.

+ Something is Gotten in the State of Denmark: “The company’s shadow is so expansive that Danish economists are now debating whether the country needs to publish another set of economic statistics that strips out Novo Nordisk. In other words, there’s Novo Nordisk, and there’s the rest of the economy.” How big are drugs like Ozempic? “The Danish company behind two popular obesity medications, is reaping huge profits and is now responsible for most of the country’s economic growth.” NYT (Gift Article): How Ozempic and Weight Loss Drugs Are Reshaping Denmark’s Economy.

+ Drug Test: “The Biden administration unveiled Tuesday the names of the first 10 drugs subject to price negotiations in Medicare, including several popular blood thinners and diabetes medications.” Can they really bring down drug prices, even for a subsection of patients? Any progress would be a miracle cure.

+ Under the Influence: “The fake accounts posted links to articles praising China and denigrating U.S. and European foreign policy, as well as seemingly personal comments that appear to be copied and pasted from a numbered list, resulting in hundreds of identical posts.” Meta says Chinese, Russian influence operations are among the biggest it’s taken down. (At this point, it’s a refreshing change of pace to learn that fake news is being spread by foreign influencers, as opposed to domestic ones.)

+ Tenn Goes to Eleven: “The vote to silence Jones prompted loud cries and chants that drowned out proceedings for several minutes even after the House speaker ordered the gallery to be cleared out. Moments prior, Jones had been criticizing legislation that would have allowed more law enforcement officers in schools and began listing other resources that the state should be providing.” GOP silences ‘Tennessee Three’ Democrat on House floor for day on ‘out of order’ rule; crowd erupts. The Tennessee House provides an excellent microcosm for the craziness infecting American politics.

+ Brain Damage: “A neurosurgeon investigating a woman’s mystery symptoms in an Australian hospital says she plucked a wriggling worm from the patient’s brain.” And that’s as much of that article as I read…


Bottom of the News

“While we will continue to share as much information as possible as this work progresses, we are not able to share any information that might compromise the investigation.” School is back in session at University of Michigan. But the internet is out.

+ “Theories included tiny microphones and even the use of items that could be embedded in the body which could pass coded instructions.” Chess rivals settle long-running cheating dispute.

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