Thursday, March 7th, 2024


Grid Row

It's time to gird your lines. Computers have come for our attention, our jobs, and our social interactions. And now the computers are coming for the one thing we need to run computers: our energy. The demands of artificial intelligence and other heavy-energy users dominating our cloud are sucking up resources at an unprecedented pace, and the utility players can't keep up. "The situation is sparking battles across the nation over who will pay for new power supplies, with regulators worrying that residential ratepayers could be stuck with the bill for costly upgrades. It also threatens to stifle the transition to cleaner energy, as utility executives lobby to delay the retirement of fossil fuel plants and bring more online. The power crunch imperils their ability to supply the energy that will be needed to charge the millions of electric cars and household appliances required to meet state and federal climate goals." WaPo (Gift Article) with latest current events: Amid explosive demand, America is running out of power. Living off the grid seems more romantic when it's a choice.


Blast From the Past

"According to the lab's report, prepared on Feb. 26 and updated on Wednesday, the white matter that forms the wiring deep in the brain had 'moderately severe' damage, and in some areas was missing entirely. The delicate tissue sheaths that insulate each biological circuit lay in 'disorganized clumps,' and throughout Mr. Card's brain there was scarring and inflammation suggesting repeated trauma. This was not C.T.E., the report said. It was a characteristic pattern of damage that has been found before in military veterans who were repeatedly exposed to weapons blasts during their service." NYT (Gift Article): Profound Damage Found in Maine Gunman's Brain, Possibly From Blasts. Among 336 million Americans, there will be some who suffer from brain damage. That's just one more reason why giving people access to automatic weapons is a bad idea. We should check the brains of the lawmakers who keep them on the market.


A Prox Upon Our House

"These Iranian-armed Shiite militias in Iraq and the Houthi fighters in Yemen may not look or seem like lethal threats, but do not be fooled. They have learned to arm, build, adapt and deploy some of the most sophisticated precision weaponry in the world. That weaponry, provided by Iran, can hit a three-foot-wide target 500 miles away. The young U.S. soldiers and sailors arrayed against them cut their teeth on video games, but now find themselves playing the real thing, deploying with software and cursors the world's most sophisticated countermeasures and interceptors to swat away almost every rocket and drone the Iranian proxies have been throwing at them. In short, Americans may not know they're at war with Iran, but Iran's Revolutionary Guards know for sure they are in a shadow war with America through their proxies." Tom Friedman in the NYT (Gift Article): Inside America's Shadow War With Iran.


Voices Carry

"By this time, about twenty-five minutes had elapsed. Robin cried and Steve spoke to his colleague [with hostage negotiation experience]. 'You guys did great,' the colleague said. He told them to call Bob, since Mona's phone was clearly compromised, to make sure that he and Mona were now safe. After a few tries, Bob picked up the phone and handed it to Mona. 'Are you at home?' Steve and Robin asked her. 'Are you O.K.?' Mona sounded fine, but she was unsure of what they were talking about. 'Yeah, I'm in bed,' she replied. 'Why?'" Charles Bethea in The New Yorker: The Terrifying A.I. Scam That Uses Your Loved One's Voice.


Extra, Extra

Safe Harbor: "The 2024 presidential election will be decided by a few hundred thousand voters in a handful of swing states. I'm guessing almost none of them will be sitting down with a bucket of popcorn to watch tonight's State of the Union. Don't confuse what gets covers and what matters. That said, there will some real news coming out of the speech, including another example how just how frustrated the Biden administration is with the Israelis. Biden to announce US will build port on Gaza shore for large-scale aid delivery. "'We are not waiting on the Israelis. This is a moment for American leadership,' a senior US official said on Thursday, reflecting growing frustration of what is seen in Washington as Israeli obstruction of road deliveries on a substantial scale.'"

+ Smokeless Alarm: Asian American women are getting lung cancer despite never smoking. It's baffling scientists and leading to more research.

+ Self Check-in: "Instead of TSA officers ushering passengers through the two-step process, travelers will scan their own bags and themselves. This will allow them to set their own pace and minimize their interactions with TSA employees." WaPo (Gift Article): TSA unveils first self-screening security lane at Las Vegas airport.

+ Getting Warmer: "For the ninth straight month, Earth has obliterated global heat records — with February, the winter as a whole and the world's oceans setting new high-temperature marks."

+ Rust Just? "A jury in New Mexico has found Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer for the film Rust, guilty of involuntary manslaughter. During the criminal trial, prosecutors successfully argued that her negligence and recklessness led to the death of the film's cinematographer."

+ Nick of Time: "Nick Saban had walked into the team meeting room at the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility and told his players he was retiring. After 17 seasons, 206 wins, nine SEC championships and six national titles at Alabama, one of the greatest coaching runs in American sports history was over. And Byrne was on the clock." ESPN: How Alabama moved from Nick Saban to Kalen DeBoer in 49 hours.

+ Gut Busting: I enjoy obscure sports rules as much as the next person, but I have to admit, I've never heard of this one. "Iditarod officials on Wednesday imposed a two-hour time penalty on musher Dallas Seavey for not properly gutting the moose he killed during the race earlier this week."


Bottom of the News

"Happy 150th birthday, dear jockstrap. How far you've come from your modest but mighty days of protecting the precious parts of bicycle messengers as they navigated the bumpy cobblestones of Boston. Invented for that purpose in 1874 by C.F. Bennett, who worked for a company now known as Bike Athletic, the strappy little staple of yore has become a sex symbol of sorts with a reach well beyond the athletic world." My cup runneth over.

+ People who eat breakfast high in refined carbs rated less attractive, study finds. (People who provide a breakfast high in refined carbs are considered hot as hell.) Related, from McSweeney's: I've Optimized My Health to Make My Life as Long and Unpleasant as Possible.