The Chip Monks
The Holy Grail of Chipmaking, Bard has Entered the Building
They say money makes the world go round. But silicon chips run everything else. We were reminded of this during the pandemic chip shortage. Chips are everywhere, in everything, and we depend on them constantly (as I am typing this and you are reading it). They are at the heart of our smallest devices and at the core of our biggest geopolitical challenges. Wired's Virginia Heffernan decided to go to visit TSMC, the mysterious Taiwanese company at the center of the global industry and the holy land of chip making (and it does have oddly holy elements). I Saw the Face of God in a Semiconductor Factory. "SMC makes a third of all the world’s silicon chips, notably the ones in iPhones and Macs. Every six months, just one of TSMC’s 13 foundries—the redoubtable Fab 18 in Tainan—carves and etches a quintillion transistors for Apple. In the form of these miniature masterpieces, which sit atop microchips, the semiconductor industry churns out more objects in a year than have ever been produced in all the other factories in all the other industries in the history of the world."
2. Doc Warrants
Doctors are increasingly unwilling to work in states where providing health care is viewed as a crime. "An Idaho hospital will stop labor and delivery services, citing doctor shortages and the 'political climate,' the hospital announced Friday. 'Highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extraordinarily difficult.'" Idaho hospital to stop labor and delivery services. This is on top of a trend that was happening before the wave of abortion laws. "In 2020, 47% of rural community hospitals did not provide obstetric services, with 89 obstetric units closing between 2015 and 2019. Seven million women reside in counties with limited or no access to maternity care, impacting half a million newborns annually." Less staff, longer delays and fewer options: Rural America confronts a health care crisis.
+ There’s a quiet new crisis brewing in Texas following the abortion ban. It could get much worse. Slate: "You Know What? I’m Not Doing This Anymore."
+ Need a doctor? The commute is getting longer. Small planes and secrecy: Pilots fly people to Kansas and other states for abortions. (Folks, it's 2023.)
3. Banks, But No Banks
"The episode offers a fresh reminder of the power that bankers wield in Washington, where the industry spends prodigiously to fight regulation and often hires former members of Congress and their staff to make the case that they are not a source of risk to the economy." Army of lobbyists helped water down banking regulations. Then an army of depositors made a bank run.
4. Jello Shots
"Our world is populated by hundreds of thousands of cyborgs. Some are Parkinson’s patients, who can shut off their tremors by activating metal electrodes implanted deep within their brains. Others—albeit far fewer—are completely paralyzed people who can move robotic limbs with their minds, thanks to their own implants. Such technologies can radically improve someone’s quality of life. But they have a major problem: Metal and the brain get along very, very poorly." Grace Huckins in WiredUK: The Quest for Injectable Brain Implants Has Begun. "Brains have the texture of Jell-O—push on them too hard, and they’ll come apart into fragile clumps." (It probably says something about my brain that the second I read this line, I got some jello out of the fridge.)
5. Extra, Extra
Bard UnBarred: "Today, Google is opening up limited access to Bard, its ChatGPT rival, a major step in the company’s attempt to reclaim what many see as lost ground in a new race to deploy AI. Bard will be initially available to select users in the US and UK." (I wonder if it makes sense to let Bard and ChatGPT argue amongst themselves so the rest of us can just get on with our lives...)
+ Enemies, a Love Story: According to Putin, China's peace plan could be basis to end war. A better peace plan would be for Putin to get the eff out of Ukraine. Here's an interesting report from Reuters on the former prisoners fighting Putin's war. Wagner’s convicts tell of horrors of Ukraine war and loyalty to their leader.
+ Things That Go Trump on the Right: Well, it's Tuesday, and... nothing. Trump even lied about his own arrest. Meanwhile, the authoritarian-curious efforts to get him off the hook continue. House GOP uses its new power in extraordinary effort to shield Trump from indictment.
+ Stage Coach: "Abby Grossberg, a senior producer and head of booking for Tucker Carlson who has also worked on Maria Bartiromo’s show, alleged that the network attempted to pin the blame for Fox News’s airing of voting conspiracies on her and Bartiromo – an effort that Grossberg says was part of a broader culture of sexism and misogyny at Fox News." Fox News producer accuses network lawyers of ‘coercive’ coaching in Dominion case.
+ Fail Whale: "The second pizza had just come out of the oven, and I was dipping a slice into some ranch dressing ... The back half of the boat lifted violently upward and to starboard." Sailing crew rescued after giant whale sunk 44ft boat in Pacific Ocean. (If you've got pizza and ranch dressing, there's no good reason to leave your house.)
+ Lentil Stock: "Fast to cook, easy to store and exalted enough to be buried with the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, these seeds have sustained empires. Roman soldiers lived on the essential portable protein over their long campaigns. Today, the lentil is again on the front lines." WaPo: Why Americans should eat lentils every day.
+ Cover Girl: According to a Facebook post from her husband of 54 years, Bobbi Kelly Ercoline has passed away. You may not recognize the name, but music fans will recognize her photo. Bobbi Ercoline Dies: Blanket-Draped Woodstock Concertgoer Was Pictured On Iconic Album Cover.
6. Bottom of the News
Port-a-Paddy: "I have journeyed into the heart of this verdant darkness. I have seen the glory and braved the toilets. And I have much to report. What I want to tell you is that this parade, with all its attendant rites and rituals, is one of the few miracles I have seen with my own eyes, one of the miracles being how more people don’t die. Some do. More on that in a moment." I Can Feel God's Presence in This Portable Toilet: Notes on St. Patricks Day in Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A.
+ Inside the world of high-end crypto rehab centers.
+ "A series of new slogans leaned into the city's double-entendre name - with taglines such as 'show us your Regina' and 'the city that rhymes with fun'" City of Regina in Canada sorry for 'sexualized' ads. (They knew things had gone wrong with everyone who visited the town quickly pulled out.)