PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

A Scarcity of Chips Feeds Frustration, Inflation (Maria)

The authors write, “Even coming off its fastest annual growth in 37 years, the US economy is still bogged down by a persistent shortage of the computer chips essential to the technology that connects, transports and entertains us. The problem has been building since pandemic-related lockdowns shut down major Asian chip factories more than two years ago. Now it threatens to extend into the indefinite future, despite the semiconductor industry’s efforts to catch up with demand.”

Brett Kavanaugh Loves Him Some Shadow Docket (Dan)

From Esquire: “Nobody who watched Brett Kavanaugh’s barroom-pest performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee came away with any doubt that PJ and Squee’s pal has a skin so thin that, if he swallowed a firefly, he’d glow like a Japanese lantern. There were, however, some people who thought that, once he bellowed and blustered into his current luxurious lifetime gig, Mr. Justice Kavanaugh might put down the grievance pipe for a spell. I was not one of those people. I feel even better about that call now that this irrefutable characteristic has seeped into his official rulings. On Monday, by 5-4, and through the medium of its now-infamous “shadow docket,” the Supreme Court left in place an egregiously gerrymandered electoral map produced by the Alabama state legislature.”

Christian Revival at School Prompts Student Walkout in West Virginia (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “Between calculus and European history classes at a West Virginia public high school, 16-year-old Cameron Mays and his classmates were told by their teacher to go to an evangelical Christian revival assembly. When students arrived at the event in the school’s auditorium, they were instructed to close their eyes and raise their arms in prayer, Mays said. The teens were asked to give their lives over to Jesus to find purpose and salvation. Those who did not follow the Bible would go to hell when they died, they were told. The Huntington High School junior sent a text to his father. ‘Is this legal?’ he asked.”

Russian War Games in Belarus Designed to ‘Send Ukraine a Message’ (Carina)

The author writes, “Russia is preparing to begin 10 days of military drills in Belarus in a show of strength that security experts have said is designed to show Ukraine and the West that it is serious about the potential of war. Russian forces and hardware began arriving in Belarus in mid-January, with about 30,000 combat troops expected to participate in exercises known as ‘Allied Resolve.’ Two battalions of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and 12 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets have also been positioned. NATO has called it the biggest deployment to Belarus since the Cold War and it comes as Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops and military hardware in territories around Ukraine’s borders and in annexed Crimea.”

Protected by Decades-Old Power Structures, Three Renowned Harvard Anthropologists Face Allegations of Sexual Harassment (Dana)

From The Harvard Crimson: “In 1986, a group of professors writing for the journal Current Anthropology found that the country’s most elite anthropology programs, including Harvard’s, operated based on a ‘hierarchy of prestige’ dominated by powerful tenured faculty. Nearly 35 years later, it is in part that very hierarchy that has allowed three of Harvard’s senior Anthropology faculty — former department chairs Theodore C. Bestor and Gary Urton and professor John L. Comaroff — to weather allegations of sexual harassment, including some leveled by students, according to people with knowledge of the matter and documents obtained by The Crimson.”

How Did Nanoplastics End Up at the North and South Pole? (Mili)

From The Week: “For the first time researchers have identified the presence of tiny polluting plastic particles at both of the world’s polar regions. Microplastics have previously been found in Arctic ice samples, but ‘it turns out there’s an even smaller and more toxic form of plastic pollution infiltrating remote reaches of the globe,’ said Eco Watch. Nanoplastics have often ‘escaped attention’ from research into polar plastic pollution, said a team from Utrecht University in their paper, published in the Environmental Research journal. Nanoparticles are invisible to the naked eye, and can’t be detected through standard scientific sampling and measuring processes.”

Glitch in These Cars Means Drivers Can Never Change the Radio Channel From NPR Station (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “It was on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 30, driving in Ballard, that Dave Welding entered the world of car computers gone amok. He drives a 2016 Mazda hatchback. It turns out that about the same time, the same thing was happening to other local Mazda owners who had this in common: They drove a 2014 to 2017 model Mazda, and they had tuned into KUOW, 94.9 on the FM dial, the NPR station. That’s all it took. Somehow the signal the station sent to the modern HD Radio that’s part of the Mazda infotainment center had, as Welding puts it, ‘fried’ a major component. That frying made the radios only play KUOW. No chance of catching a little classic rock or some Dori soliloquies. KUOW. Forever.”