Today in the News

Notable news items are coming so fast and furious today that I might as well make a quick omnibus post to try to catch up.

Let’s start with the Feel Good Story of the Day:

30 Taliban militants are killed in explosion during bomb-making class at Afghan mosque

At least 30 Taliban fighters have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in Afghanistan during a bomb-making class. The 209th Shaheen Corps – part of the Afghan National Army – said in a statement that 30 fighters including six foreign nationals who were expert mine makers, had been killed in an explosion on Saturday morning.

The blast happened at a mosque in the village of Qultaq in the Dowlatabad district of Balkh province.

Now this is one class that would have been better taught remotely over Zoom. Or maybe it was taught remotely, over the Afghan virtual-meeting platform known as Boom, where the class is told to show its work all at the same time. That platform features a “Share Scream” function instead of “Share Screen.” (There is no truth to the rumor that Boom was developed in Israel.)

As everyone knows, the media is doing a lot of gauzy, soft-focus stories about lovable Ol’ Prez. Joe, and his Doktor spouse. The only thing missing from their Valentine’s Day photo Friday was Barney the dinosaur.

And then there’s this:

Joe Biden, Playing as Luigi, Wins in Mario Kart Race Against Granddaughter at Camp David

During his weekend retreat at Camp David, Biden and his granddaughter Naomi played the racing video game, and he won. Naomi shared a video to Instagram that showed Biden competing against her on the Arcade GP DX machines, complete with chairs and steering wheels.

Aw, isn’t that all cute and cuddly? But hold on a minute: Isn’t playing video games with gramps one of the things you do to help the old man fight through dementia? And letting him win? I wonder if this story is telling us more than was intended. . .

And just in case the grandkids aren’t available:

Why It Matters That Some Pigs Are Actually Pretty Good at Playing Video Games

Pigs might not be able to fly, but they can play video games. In a new study, researchers from Purdue University in Indiana have shown that pigs can use a digital screen and joystick, operated by their snout, to move a cursor around for rewards.

Perfect for a guy who is about the break the known-universe record for pork-barrel spending.

Chaser: And then there’s this:

Veep Kamala Harris takes foreign calls on behalf of Biden

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday held her second call with a foreign leader — speaking with French President Emmanuel Macron after a talk earlier this month with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as with World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in January.

The calls boost the vice president’s role in diplomacy.

From the “What Would We Do Without Studies Department”:

Coronavirus lockdowns saw rise in alcohol use, study finds

Alcohol usage and dependency likely increased every month for Americans under COVID-19 lockdowns, a new study from the University of Arizona College of Medicine shows.

Researchers let by William “Scott” Killgore, Ph.D., College of Medicine-Tuscon professor of psychiatry and director of the Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab, surveyed 5,931 U.S. adults from all 50 states — roughly 1,000 of which completed a 10-item questionnaire regarding alcohol use and dependency.

Was it really necessary to survey nearly 6,000 people to figure this out? Maybe someone could just check alcoholic beverage sales figures, or is that too easy and doesn’t generate enough grant overheard money for the University of Arizona?

I think I’ve seen this movie. It isn’t very good:

Mystery Lifeforms Have Been Found in The Hostile Darkness Beneath Antarctica

The waters below Antarctica are amongst the most inhospitable environments on our planet – or so we thought.

It’s pitch dark, and temperatures are subzero; yet, when scientists drilled through an Antarctic ice shelf far from light or warmth, they found a seafloor boulder that’s home to several species we may have never seen before.

Better send Sigourney Weaver and Kurt Russell just to be on the safe side.

Don’t tell Hollywood about this story, or we’ll get an “Alien vs. Predator” and “The Mummy Returns” mashup film:

Archaeologists uncover ancient beer brewery at Egypt funeral site

Finally, truth-bomb tweet of the day: