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.

Energy Shift Creates Opening for ‘World’s Largest Batteries’ (Maria)

The author writes, “The hydropower industry considers pumped storage the best answer to a question hovering over the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to address climate change: where to get power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. ‘I wish we could build 10 more of these. I love ’em,’ Eric Gustad, community affairs manager for Consumers Energy, said during a tour of the Ludington [Pumped Storage] facility. But the utility, based in Jackson, Michigan, has no such plans. … The nation has 43 pumped storage facilities with a combined capacity of 22 gigawatts, the output of that many nuclear plants. Yet just one small operation has been added since 1995 — and it’s unknown how many of more than 90 planned can overcome economic, regulatory and logistical barriers that force long delays.”

Russia-Ukraine War: Sanctions Cripple Russia’s Tank Production (Sean)

From The Jerusalem Post: “Russia is struggling to produce more tanks for its military due to crippling financial sanctions and import restrictions imposed on Moscow due to the invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR) claimed on Friday. The Russian firm UralVagonZavod, located in Nizhny Tagil in the Sverdlovsk Oblast, is the world’s largest main battle tank manufacturer and has a long history dating back to Josef Stalin’s second five-year plan. Since then, it continues to produce tanks, such as the T-90, T-72 and T-14 Armata. Despite having revenue in the billions of dollars, sanctions have crippled the company’s ability to produce tanks. This is due to rising interest rates on loans, lack of funds for foreign currency loans and rising material prices, including for steel.”

The Final Pandemic Betrayal (Bethany)

The author writes, “In just two years, COVID has become the third most common cause of death in the U.S., which means that it is also the third leading cause of grief in the U.S. Each American who has died of COVID has left an average of nine close relatives bereaved, creating a community of grievers larger than the population of all but 11 states. Under normal circumstances, 10 percent of bereaved people would be expected to develop prolonged grief, which is unusually intense, incapacitating, and persistent. But for COVID grievers, that proportion may be even higher, because the pandemic has ticked off many risk factors.”

Some State Lawmakers Calling It Quits, Can’t Afford to Serve (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “When trying to decide whether to seek a fourth term in the Connecticut House of Representatives, Rep. Joe de la Cruz ran the question by his wife, whom he jokingly refers to as his lawyer and financial adviser. While Tammy de la Cruz didn’t want to discourage her 51-year-old husband from stepping away from the part-time job he has grown to love, she acknowledged it didn’t make financial sense for him run again in November. ‘The retirement planner in her didn’t even have to use a calculator to do the math,’ Joe de la Cruz, a Democrat, told fellow House members when he announced in February that he’s not seeking reelection.  ‘The $30,000 a year we make to do this illustrious job, the one that we all really care for, is truly not enough to live on. It’s truly not enough to retire on.’”

The Razor’s Edge of a Warming World (Laura)

From GQ: “As we hurtle toward an ever-hotter future, GQ spotlights eight places whose very identities depend on a simple calculation: If we limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, these places could be saved. In a 2-degree scenario, they would be irredeemably lost.”

Wild Paper Claims Psychopathy May Not Be a Mental Disorder, but Something Else (Mili)

The author writes, “For more than half a century, the kinds of antisocial personality traits we think of as psychopathic — such as a lack of remorse, aggression, and disregard for the wellbeing of others — have been associated with mental illness. The line between broken and useful traits can be hazy in biology, leaving open the possibility that what is now considered a malfunction might once have been promoted by natural selection. We might find it tricky to think of evolution benefiting antisocial people, but nature has no problem leaving room for the occasional freeloader within otherwise cooperative species like our own. Those alternative traits that make psychopaths so despised could feasibly give them an edge in a world where competition for resources is intense.”

Man Awarded $450K After Unwanted Office Birthday Party (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “A Kentucky man’s former employer will have to pay him $450,000 after throwing him an unwanted birthday party and then firing him when it wasn’t well received by him. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the plaintiff sued Gravity Diagnostics over the events of August 2019, accusing the company of disability discrimination and retaliation, and a Kenton County Circuit Court jury agreed with him. Per court documents, the man informed the office manager that, due to his anxiety disorder, he would likely have a panic attack if an office party was thrown for him. He requested that the office’s birthday ritual not be applied to him. But on Aug. 7, a birthday party was reportedly held in the lunchroom.”