tech, digital economy, electricity use, water scarcity
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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.

Data Centers, Backbone of the Digital Economy, Face Water Scarcity and Climate Risk (Maria)

The author writes, “Data centers are springing up around the world to handle the torrent of information from the expanding web of devices ingrained in people’s lives and the economy. Managing that digital information gusher is big business. It also comes with hidden environmental costs. For years, companies that operate data centers have faced scrutiny for the huge amounts of electricity they use. … Now, the US public is beginning to take notice of the water many facilities require to keep from overheating.”

How Team Trump Breached the Election System (Sean)

From The Bulwark: “After the 2020 election, Donald Trump’s legal activists went to great lengths concocting scenarios about how ballots might have been compromised. In the last few weeks, however, new reporting has revealed that it was Team Trump itself that was tampering with election infrastructure. And their attempts to breach the system went on for months after Trump left office. The ‘fraudit’ that dragged on last year as the incompetent Cyber Ninjas bumbled around Arizona almost seems like a professional operation compared to these previously undisclosed, under-the-radar efforts undertaken by Trump supporters in other states. Although clumsy, these maneuvers were remarkably nefarious.”

Jackson Water System Is Failing, City Will Be With No or Little Drinking Water Indefinitely (Dana)

From Mississippi Today: “The drinking water system in Jackson — Mississippi’s largest city and home to more than 160,000 residents — is failing, state officials announced on Monday. Thousands of Jackson residents already have no or little water pressure, and officials cannot say when adequate, reliable service will be restored. The city water system has been plagued with problems for years, including tens of thousands of residents losing water between one and three weeks during a 2021 winter storm. At a press conference Monday night, Gov. Tate Reeves said the city’s largest water treatment plants may be completely down.”

Montana GOP Lawmaker: Republican Election Laws Tied to Concerns That College Students Vote ‘Liberal’ (Reader Steve)

From the Independent Record: “A Republican state lawmaker testified in a Billings courtroom [last week] that her GOP colleagues were motivated when crafting new election laws last year by the perception that ‘college students tend to be liberal.’ Rep. Geraldine Custer, a former long-time elections official from Forsyth, made no secret of her opposition to several of her party’s priority election bills during the 2021 session. Three of those measures that were signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte are being challenged in an ongoing trial in Yellowstone District Court that began last week.”

The Human Mind Is Not Meant to Be Awake After Midnight, Scientists Warn (Mili)

The author writes, “In the middle of the night, the world can sometimes feel like a dark place. Under the cover of darkness, negative thoughts have a way of drifting through your mind, and as you lie awake, staring at the ceiling, you might start craving guilty pleasures, like a cigarette or a carb-heavy meal. Plenty of evidence suggests the human mind functions differently if it is awake at nighttime. Past midnight, negative emotions tend to draw our attention more than positive ones, dangerous ideas grow in appeal and inhibitions fall away. Some researchers think the human circadian rhythm is heavily involved in these critical changes in function, as they outline in a new paper summarizing the evidence of how brain systems function differently after dark.”

Greenland Ice Sheet Set to Raise Sea Levels by Nearly a Foot, Study Finds (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a new study published Monday. The findings in Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.”

Transhumanists Want to Upload Their Minds to a Computer. They Really Won’t Like the Result (Sean)

From Big Think: “While it is theoretically possible to perfectly model a unique human brain down to the level of its synapses and molecules, doing so will not allow you to become immortal. Instead, you will still be in your body, and the thing in the computer will be your ‘digital doppelgänger.’ The copy would feel just like you feel — fully entitled to own its own property and earn its own wages and make its own decisions. It would claim your name, memories, and even family as its own.”