The Daily Valet. - 3/21/24, Thursday

Thursday, March 21st Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
We've got a real grab bag of stories for you today.

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Today’s Big Story

March Madness Is Here


It’s a beloved sports tradition, but how does it work and when did it become so big?


Selection Sunday is over, and the Big Dance is on, as they say. NCAA March Madness is here. The brackets for both the men's and women's college basketball tournaments have been released. If you’re in the “Oh crap, my bracket’s due in 22 minutes” camp, or the “I don’t really know much this year but still want to enter my pool” one, or any other procrastinator camp, don’t worry—The Athletic has you covered.

Of course, the odds of filling out a perfect bracket, which means getting all 67 games of the six-round slate plus the First Four play-in games correct, is about one in 120 billion, according to the NCAA, which says it has never been done. You might have better luck playing the PowerBall. Or maybe you’ve watched enough sports to know a thing or two.

But it got me wondering, how did this become one of the most anticipated annual rituals in American sports? The first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament was in 1939, when the Oregon Ducks went 29-5 on the season and beat Ohio State 46-33 to win the national title in the first NCAA championship. Back then, there were just eight teams.

In 1951, the field doubled to 16, and kept expanding over the next few decades until 1985, when the modern format of a 64-team tournament began. In 2001, after the Mountain West Conference joined Division I and received an automatic bid, pushing the total teams to 65, a single game was added prior to the first round. In 2011, three more teams were added, and with them, three more games to round out the First Four.

But where did the phrase “March Madness” come from? According to the NCAA, it was first used to refer to basketball by an Illinois high school official in 1939, but the term didn’t find its way to the NCAA tournament until CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger (who used to be a sportswriter in Chicago) used it during coverage of the 1982 tournament. And the moniker has been synonymous with the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament ever since.

The Dodgers fired Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter amid allegation of “massive theft.”

A $1.2 Trillion Spending Bill Emerges As Partial Shutdown Looms


The deadline is at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. But a brief weekend government closure might not have much impact.

Congressional leaders from both parties looked to put a positive light on a $1.2 trillion spending package that lawmakers are working to approve before funding expires at midnight Friday for a host of key government agencies. Text of the legislation had not been released as of Wednesday afternoon, but lawmakers and aides were expecting an official unveiling sometime this morning.

But the Washington Post reports that the prospect for speedy Senate action looked shaky, which could drag the legislation past the wire. “A deal reached this week among House Speaker Mike Johnson, President Biden and Senate Democrats included Republican priorities such as a ban on funding the U.N. relief agency for Palestinians and increases to spending on security at the U.S.-Mexico border.” Both chambers are expected to approve the spending package, but those votes could still come too late to prevent a brief partial government shutdown early in the weekend.

If Congress can’t finish work by Saturday’s deadline, yet still acts before Monday morning, the effects of a shutdown might be minimal: Many federal workers at agencies that are unfunded would be off for the weekend anyway. But if a closure goes longer, more than half of IRS employees would face furloughs at the height of tax filing season. Active-duty service members (about 1.3 million) and Border Patrol officers would remain on the job without pay. So would Transportation Security Administration screeners, many of whom called in sick in protest after a previous shutdown dragged on for weeks, sparking nationwide travel delays.

Dig Deeper:
Vox looks into how the threat of a government shutdown became normalized.

Feds Tighten Emissions Rules


In a boost for EVs, EPA finalizes strict new limits on tailpipe emissions

After nearly a year of frantic lobbying and debate, the EPA has finalized strict new rules on vehicle emissions that will push the auto industry to accelerate its transition to electric vehicles. The rules will cut tailpipe emissions in half by 2055, and the EPA claimed that they would also help the average driver in the U.S. save $6,000 in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of their vehicle.

The rules come as sales of electric vehicles, which are needed to meet the standards, have begun to slow. But the EPA expects that under the new rules, EVs could account for up to 56% of new passenger vehicles sold for model years 2030 through 2032, meeting a goal that President Biden set in 2021. The regulations are a cornerstone of the Biden Administration's efforts to fight climate change. Combined with investments the U.S. is making in battery and electric vehicle manufacturing, the auto regulations will help shift the U.S. away from relying on fossil fuels for transportation, a senior White House official told NPR.

Despite groups calling the new rules a “car ban,” Car and Driver says the EPA’s new rules do not ban any vehicles. In fact, they don't even set specific targets for EV sales, according to White House climate policy advisor Ali Zaidi. The new rules have been in the works for almost three years. Zaidi told the publication that the EPA learned a lot during the public comment period after releasing the proposed rules in the spring of 2023—especially regarding the challenges of ramping up domestic manufacturing capacity and developing new supply chains for cleaner vehicles, all the way down to cathodes and anodes for EVs.

Transportation makes up the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and cars and trucks account for more than half of those emissions.

Neuralink’s First Human Subject on the New Brain Chip


He demonstrated moving cursor with his mind: ‘Can’t even describe how cool it is’

On Wednesday, Neuralink introduced the first human subject to receive the company’s brain implant. Noland Arbaugh is a 29-year-old man who has been paralyzed from the shoulders down for eight years after a diving accident. In a video shared by Elon Musk (who owns Neuralink), he demonstrated how he uses his thoughts to move a computer cursor around a screen to play online chess and toggle on and off a music stream.

The chip contains 1,000 electrodes programmed to gather data about the brain’s neural activity and movement intention and then send that data to a Neuralink computer for decoding to transform the thoughts into action. Arbaugh explained that he simply imagines the cursor moving where he wants it to go and it does. “Basically, it was like using the Force on the cursor and I could get it to move wherever I wanted,” he said. “Just stare somewhere on the screen and it would move where I wanted it to, which was such a wild experience the first time it happened.”

Neuralink received a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year to move ahead with an initial human trial and began recruiting paralyzed participants in the fall to test the device. It’s one of several brain-computer interface devices being developed that companies hope will someday treat neurological disorders.

WIRED reports that some neuroscientists and ethicists have criticized Neuralink’s previous lack of transparency around the trial.


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What We’re Buying


A new gym kit


Are you ready for spring training? By that, we mean, working out to get in shape for the coming warm weather. Maybe you're preparing for the beach, perhaps you want to get stronger for outdoor adventures. I'm any case, you need some new gear. And you're in luck—a handful of brands have fresh markdowns, making investing in your health a whole lot easier.

What We're Buying:
50-pound selectable dumbbell set, $349 / $299.99 by ETHOS

Morning Motto

Take the good with the bad.


Some things will be wonderful and some things will be terrible and that's what makes it magic.




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