Eric

One of the oddities on my bucket list is a longstanding desire to drive east to west across the length of Australia, so I was fascinated by this interactive New York Times feature on the realities of the outback today.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (aka Black Santa) is easily one of the most fun NFL players to watch both on and off the field. He’s bruising and shockingly quick, he’s funny, and he’s not shy about his progressive politics. Now he’s working with lefty sportswriter Dave Zirin on a forthcoming book, “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable.”

At the Guardian, Paul Mason pulls back from the excessive media focus on US and UK politics to make the argument that democracy is dying the world over.

Why you should sleep more on your vacation (and other times too). It worked well for me in July.

In between naps, though, I read Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace. It’s a first-person historical murder mystery centered on Grace Marks, who was imprisoned in Canada for decades for an 1843 crime she may not have committed.

I’m newly obsessed with KenKen, the latest puzzle series from Japan, a mashup of Sudoku, arithmetic, and logic. The New York Times version works best on your phone.

Aven

This week in renewable energy breakthroughs, Toyota announced that it has developed a solid-state battery, and that it plans to release a new family of cars with the technology in 2022. Solid-state batteries can store more power, charge more quickly, and are generally safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries, so this could turn out to be a huge breakthrough both for electric cars and for renewable energy in general. Since storing power during times of high production and then releasing it during low production is one of the main challenges facing both solar and wind power, better storage options can make these technologies  substantially more attractive.

  • That combined with the $200 billion in clean energy financing promised by JPMorgan Chase last week seems like a pretty clear indication that renewables will continue to gain market share for the foreseeable future. Chase, the world’s third-largest bank, has also promised to source 100% of its global energy needs from renewables by 2020, making for one very large new clean power customer.

    And those who are concerned about Seattle’s intertwined homelessness and affordable housing problems could look to Vienna for inspiration and concrete proposals for successful public housing development and economic integration.

    Kelsey

    Only 15 percent of Americans are aware of the 20 million humans who are at risk of famine in the countries of South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia. The United Nations has called this the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII. If you’re not familiar, read up on the famine here, or listen to this interview with David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee. In the interview, David, whose organization works directly with humanitarian aids on the ground, covers what’s happening and why. What’s interesting to note is that all of these famines are a direct consequence of civil wars and human conflict, not drought.

    At the end of last month, the CDC reported that over half of all female homicides in the US are committed by intimate partners, with the vast majority of those partners being male. This is a phenomenon (although phenomenon seems too weak a word; it’s really a public health crisis) that is seen across all races, but black and indigenous women face significantly higher murder rates in comparison to their white counterparts.