What We’re Reading

Covid aftermath:

When they finally get a chance to exhale, their breaths may emerge as sighs. “People put their heads down and do what they have to do, but suddenly, when there’s an opening, all these feelings come up,” Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute, told me. Lipsky has spent decades helping people navigate the consequences of natural disasters, mass shootings, and other crises. “As hard as the initial trauma is,” she said, “it’s the aftermath that destroys people.”

Birth of penicillin:

During the summer months of 1942, shoppers in Peoria grocery stores began to notice a strange presence in the fresh produce aisles, a young woman intently examining the fruit on display, picking out and purchasing the ones with visible rot. Her name was Mary Hunt, and she was a bacteriologist from the Peoria lab, assigned the task of locating promising molds that might replace the existing strains that were being used. (Her unusual shopping habits ultimatelygave her the nickname Moldy Mary.) One of Hunt’s molds — growing in a particularly unappetizing cantaloupe — turned out to be far more productive than the original strains that Florey and Chain’s team had tested. Nearly every strain of penicillin in use today descends from the colony Hunt found in that cantaloupe.

Geothermal:

Perhaps geothermal energy’s biggest plus is that it would unleash energy abundance. As J. Storrs Hall notes in his lament of stagnation,Where Is My Flying Car?, from the early 1800s, American energy use per capita increased by about 2 percent yearly. In the 1970s (ironically, about the time the Department of Energy was created, Hall notes), this trend reversed. We have been doing more with less—15 percent less per-capita energy consumption than the late 1970s peak, to be exact. While energy efficiency is a wonderful thing, we have forgotten the virtues of doing more with more. With clean, dirt-cheap energy, we can stop economizing and start thriving. We can use cheap power economically to pull CO2 from the atmosphere, desalinate water, deploy formerly exotic materials, and travel faster around the globe.

Investing:

A new survey by Wells Fargo found that about a third of teenagers said they were learning financial lessons from the internet and social media, and almost half were more interested in investing thanks to the GameStop phenomenon. Their formative experiences with stocks could be with AMC, GameStop and others that seasoned investors consider anomalies.

Max number of friends:

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Have a good weekend.


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