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One Sentence News / Dec 22, 2021

Colin Wright
Colin Wright
The news simply summarized / December 22, 2021
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Summary: Using wind-power to move ships is far from a new concept, but using a giant parafoil kite to pull a modern cargo ship is a fairly novel undertaking; and that concept will be tested by a company called Airseas in January.
Context: The ship to which this 5,380 square foot (which is about 500 square meters) kite will be attached hauls airplane parts between France and the US, and will still use a traditional engine, but if all goes according to plan it will use that engine a lot less—which could reduce emissions from such journeys by up to 20%, and that’s true of this kite model which is meant for relatively small cargo ships, and a larger model meant to be attached to full-sized modern cargo vessels (both are controlled by software that keeps them aimed in the right direction for maximum wind-capturing capability).
Summary: From the beginning of the pandemic, under both Trump and Biden administrations, the US has been criticized for its lack of a cohesive and well-funded track-and-trace program, which allows the medical community and public officials to know what’s happening, when and where, and to make informed decisions based on that data; President Biden has announced that the government will distribute half-a-billion at-home COVID test kits, for free, as part of a larger effort to fill in some of those long-exposed data gaps.
Context: This news dropped on the same day we learned that Omicron has become by far the most dominant variant in the United States, which introduces all kinds of new complexities due to the speed at which it spreads and all the things we still don’t know about it; the news also arrives right as many Americans are about to gather with family and maybe even take trips for the holidays, which underscores why these tests becoming available in January is so important—there are likely to be a lot more cases after all those get-togethers, and the availability of at-home tests might help lessen the strain on medical facilities and pharmacies which would otherwise have to conduct all those tests.
—The Wall Street Journal
Summary: Enterprise software giant Oracle has bought medical records giant Cerner for about $28.3 billion in equity.
Context: This purchase is being seen as an acknowledgement on the part of Oracle management that cloud computing may, in fact, be a thing that sticks around (something they’ve been publicly skeptical about); there’s also a more overt healthcare play here, which is a space that’s booming because of the pandemic, but Cerner is also a big deal in the digitization of healthcare records space, which may give Oracle a commanding lead in that facet of the larger, also booming, cloud computing industry.
The price of battery packs (the kind used in electric vehicles, among other use-cases) has dropped to $132/kilowatt-hour in 2021, which is down from $140/kWh in 2020 (in inflation-adjusted dollars); 6% cheaper is still progress toward making these increasingly vital components more attainable, but it is a slower price-decrease from previous years (it was forecast to drop 9% in 2021 based on earlier trends).
Percentage of new COVID-19 cases in the US caused by the Omicron variant.
That’s up from about 13% the week through Dec 11—which is staggering growth and spread, but in line with what we’ve seen elsewhere from Omicron.
—The Wall Street Journal
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Colin Wright
Colin Wright @colinismyname

One Sentence News is concise, politically unbiased, and focused on delivering information and understanding in a non-frantic, stress-free way.

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