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What is going on with planes right now?

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Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, northwestern France.

Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

 

BROWSING

 
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The wackiest headlines from the week as they would appear in a Classifieds section.

Careers

SAND CONSULTANT: Rich people on the Massachusetts coast spent $500k to build protective dunes in front of their beachfront properties. The ocean, which has a long history of overcoming obstacles like this, washed the structures away in three days.

FREAK SHEEP IMPORTER: A Montana man pleaded guilty to wildlife crimes after he created a giant hybrid sheep by cloning DNA from illegally imported sheep parts. He could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Personal

ISO REWATCH DATE: Shrek 2 and Sony's Spider-Man movies will be re-released in theaters this spring and summer. If you begin with Dune: Part Two, you can create the ideal "surprisingly hot guys fighting bad guys" triple feature.

FOUND—ANCIENT SWORD: A magnet fisher in the UK pulled a 1,100-year-old Viking sword out of a river. Local officials said catch and release rules still apply.

For sale

SWIPED JAGR BOBBLEHEADS: Jaromir Jagr bobblehead night at the Pittsburgh Penguins game had to be postponed after the entire shipment of bobbleheads was stolen. His plastic hair alone could be worth billions on the black market.

913 VANILLA CONES FROM MCD'S: Someone has 1,370,044 McDonald's loyalty points on the app, the chain's most loyal customer by a margin of 400,000 points, according to a McDonald's marketing director. The customer could exchange their points for 913 vanilla cones, equivalent to $3,644.—MM

   
 
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SNAPSHOTS

 

Photo of the week

Employees of the Richmond Wildlife Center are doing their best to act like mother foxes in interactions with an orphaned kit that found her way into their care. Richmond Wildlife Center

No, this is not a photo from the set of a live-action horror adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox—it's from a video of an employee of the Richmond Wildlife Center in Virginia going the extra mile to care for an orphaned kit believed to be one day old.

What does the fox say? Nothing, actually, because the employees are minimizing human sounds and creating visual barriers in an effort to avoid imprinting on the kit, so it's easier to eventually reintroduce her to the wild. The center initially tried to return the kit to its den site only to learn her mother had been trapped and removed.

 

SCIENCE

 

Dept. of Progress

Dexter from Dexter's lab saying Dexter's Laboratory/Warner Bros. Domestic Television via Giphy

Here are some illuminating scientific discoveries from the week to help you live better and maybe even take a healing breath.

Reforestation could be key to keeping us cool. As the burning of fossil fuels pushes global temperatures higher, US areas with reforestation have stayed significantly cooler than nearby nonforested areas, according to a new study. During summertime, midday in the Southeastern region stretching from Louisiana and Florida to Pennsylvania can be up to nine degrees cooler in forests than in nonforests, the researchers found, as trees release water vapor that cools the surrounding air in a process similar to sweating in humans. While this doesn't mean trees should get planted everywhere (since some biomes don't need any more), it does make a strong case for regrowing trees in areas that used to be forests.

You may get a health boost from cold plunges and breathwork. Have you heard of Wim Hof, aka "The Iceman"? He may be the reason your coworker swears by ice baths and mindful hyperventilation—and you might want to hear them out. Hof, a Dutch athlete and speaker, promotes a method of conscious breathing (taking a series of deep breaths followed by holding your breath) and cold exposure that, according to a new study, appears effective at fighting inflammation. But scientists warn that doin' it like Hof might not be for everyone, since cold plunges and rapid breathing is dangerous for people with certain health issues.

🪸 Playing sounds of life underwater could revive coral reefs. Marine scientists have given new meaning to the saying "If you build it, they will come" with a new study showing that pressing play on a recording of sea noises lures underwater creatures back to dying reefs. Coral larvae near the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean were up to seven times more likely to put down roots at a struggling reef that had an underwater speaker blasting the sounds of a thriving ecosystem. And the noise could attract fish and other underwater life, too, the researchers said. Some marine biologists have already been using reef sounds to try to rebuild the habitats, half of which have died out since the 1950s.—ML

 
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NEWS ANALYSIS

 

What's going on in the skies?

Scene from Airplane where the pilot is sweating Airplane/Paramount Pictures via Giphy

If you spend takeoff clutching your seat in a death grip and wincing at every weird sound emitted by the engine, the past couple of months may have been extra goosebumpy.

A recent series of highly publicized aviation safety mishaps has made the public uneasy about flying. But before you vow to never again board a skyfaring aluminum sausage, join us for a look at the big picture and what the experts have to say. It might be reassuring enough to help you sleep on your next red-eye.

What's got even frequent flyers on edge?

The year began with a runway collision in Japan in which five people died on a Coast Guard plane that was rammed by a Japan Airlines commercial aircraft. The same week, a gaping hole from a blown-out door panel appeared mid-air in the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9. The hole sucked out two cellphones as well as the shirt off a teenager's body, but luckily no passengers.

The incident was found to be caused by missing bolts, launching the plane-making giant Boeing into a crisis that remains ongoing: The NYT reported this week that a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit found dozens of problems in its manufacturing process.

In recent weeks, there have been multiple unconnected incidents on United Airlines Boeing planes that were scary but ultimately harmless, including:

  • A 737-800 losing an external panel before landing safely in Oregon on Friday.
  • A tire flying off a 777-200 during takeoff in San Francisco.
  • Hydraulic fluid spewing from a 777-300 aircraft after takeoff in Sydney.
  • A Florida-bound 737-900 making an emergency landing after its engine caught on fire (turned out there was Bubble Wrap in it).
  • A 737 Max 8 running off the runway in Houston.

And just this week, the world found out that, in January, an Indonesian domestic flight cruised unattended for 28 minutes and veered off course after its two pilots fell asleep at the exact same time.

So, should you be worried?

Assuming you drive to the airport, the riskiest part of the journey is over once you get there, according to Anthony Brickhouse, an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "Aviation remains incredibly safe even though we've had these recent events," he told Morning Brew.

The recent string of incidents doesn't necessarily indicate a decline in airline safety overall, or systemic issues at Boeing or United Airlines, pilot and Guzzetti Aviation Risk Discovery President Jeff Guzzetti told NBC News.

There hasn't been a fatal crash involving a major commercial airline in the US since 2009. Globally, last year saw zero fatal commercial jet crashes and a total of six fatal commercial aviation incidents, with 115 total deaths, according to FlightGlobal.

  • Thanks to decades of improving aviation safety, the chances of dying in a plane crash went from 1-in-350,000 between 1968 and 1977 to 1-in-13.4 million between 2018 and 2022, MIT statistician Arnold Barnett told NPR.
  • Based on current safety levels, it would take an average of 103,239 years of daily travel for a person to experience a fatal accident, according to the International Air Transport Association.

In the US, the drop in accidents was likely partially due to a system the FAA implemented in the '70s that encourages airline workers to report their own mistakes without fear of punishment and report issues before they lead to disasters. Brickhouse says the fact that data tracking is now ubiquitous on aircraft has also helped to identify problems.

But the skies aren't cloudless

The solid safety track record of the US aviation industry over the last twenty years might have led to unintended consequences, former National Transportation Safety Board Chair Christopher Hart told Morning Brew. He suspects it created complacency in the system "where people say, okay, we got that safety thing figured out, we don't need to worry about it anymore."

Plus, a shortage of experienced air traffic controllers has been blamed for a worryingly high number of near misses on runways last year.

Meanwhile, some observers have criticized Boeing for making corporate decisions that have caused its quality control to slip. The company says it's reforming its internal processes to ensure that employees comply with guidelines and requirements.

For your next flight…Brickhouse told Morning Brew that passengers could be doing more to keep themselves safe. He recommends avoiding clothes made from synthetic fabric, wearing seatbelts, not keeping kids on your lap mid-flight, and leaving your carry-on behind during an evacuation.—SK

   
 

BREW'S BEST

 

Recs

On St. Paddy's Day, Cassandra is serving you exclusively Irish-themed recs.

Bake: It's not St. Paddy's Day without a fresh batch of scones.

Drink: The heartier cousin of the espresso martini: an Irish coffee.

Shhh: A secret pub in the Irish countryside that's only open one day a week.

Watch: The best of Irish humor in a movie about a winning lottery ticket.

Eat: Digestive cookies are a typical Irish after-dinner treat.

Visit: Six places to go in Dublin (that aren't Temple Bar).

Good vibes only: Rock both your worlds with Tenuto 2, the only doctor-recommended FDA Class II vibrator clinically proven to combat ED—and designed for dual pleasure. Save 20% now.*

*A message from our sponsor.

 

DESTINATIONS

 

Place to be: St. Paddy's Weekend in Savannah

Savannah Georgia on St. Patrick's Day Savannahga.gov

It's a big world out there. In this section, we'll teleport you to an interesting location—and hopefully give you travel ideas in the process.

Tens of thousands of people are flocking to Georgia this weekend, and it has nothing to do with a college football spring practice or the World of Coca-Cola handing out batches of the OG recipe.

The city of Savannah is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its first St. Patrick's Day parade with a weekend blowout that rivals Mardi Gras in New Orleans and an Apple store on iPhone release day. Open container and alcohol laws are relaxed, and bars and restaurants are permitted to serve to-go cups in zones designated for such revelries.

Savannah loves St. Paddy's. The city boasts one of the country's biggest St. Paddy's Day parades, with ~500,000 people visiting during the weekend. The city was a popular destination for Irish immigrants between 1800 and 1861, when many fled the homeland.

These days, St. Paddy's tourism is a huge moneymaker for Savannah, with just about every hotel room booked for the weekend. Ideally, everyone will be on their best behavior, but the city has taken precautions.

  • More than 320 portable toilets have been rented for when you want to break the seal. If you want to relieve yourself al fresco, you're in for a problem—the fine for urinating in public is $200.

Celebrities have been known to attend. Last year, the big names at the parade were Conor McGregor and Travis Tritt; this year marks the return of the Budweiser Clydesdales.—DL

 

COMMUNITY

 

Crowd work

Last week, we asked: What's your unique "cheers" ritual or superstition when drinking in a group?

  • "Whenever we go out, my friends and I take a shot in honor of actor extraordinaire Justin Long. No night is complete without a Justin Long shot!"—Sam from Conshohocken, PA
  • "'Here's to my father's father' (said while dunking one's chin in the whipped cream of the Irish coffee)."—Kathy from California
  • "I once mispronounced the traditional Irish cheers 'Slainte' as 'Cilantro.' Now it's a family tradition ."—Gavin from Virginia
  • "I get a lot of my drinking culture from my paternal grandmother, a woman who always made sure she could have cocktails at 5:00pm, no matter where she was or who she was with. One of my favorite superstitions of hers was you have to 'wipe away the clink' after cheersing, or else a sailor dies. After you touch glasses with everyone, you run your finger around the edge of your glass to wipe away the clink. A bit morbid to learn as a kid, but fun to do nonetheless."—Carl from East Northport, NY

This week's question

From Alex Parker on X: What book should Chris Nolan adapt for his next film?

Matty's answer to get the juices flowing: I need to learn the complete history of hot dog culture in IMAX from Nolan's adaption of the book Raw Dog.

Share your answer here.

 

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Written by Matty Merritt, Molly Liebergall, Cassandra Cassidy, Sam Klebanov, and Dave Lozo

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