Taxpayers just got a $77 million discount on the $1.35 billion tunnel through downtown. The Highway 99 tunnel that replaced the old viaduct ran into difficulty back in 2013 when an old metal pipe damaged a tunnel-boring machine. Contractors wanted WSDOT to pay for $642 million worth of cost overruns, but a jury just denied their claim and ruled that the companies must pay $77.2 in penalties for over two years of delays. That’s a lucky break for taxpayers, but it’s only a tiny fraction of the project’s full cost to taxpayers. In addition, the state estimates that declining toll revenues will have the tunnel losing $236 million by 2052.

You call that air? It’s looking bad out there. Smoke returned to Seattle yesterday afternoon, with some monitoring stations indicating that the air is unhealthy for all groups. The smoke is expected to linger for at least another week. It probably won’t be gone gone until we get substantial rain, which could come around the end of the month. This morning I discovered a surprise air quality monitor in my own apartment: I woke up with blood all over my face from a nosebleed in the night. (The dryness probably isn’t helping either.) Great stuff! 

Why is the smoke so bad? It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the method being used to manage the Bolt Creek Fire. Crews are allowing the fire to burn because it’s safer for firefighters, and because it’ll help safeguard against future fires. Sending crews into the thick of things would be very risky, as are airdrops because of the terrain. 

Come and get ‘em. The FDA has approved the latest COVID shots for people age 5 and up (Pfizer) and age 6 and up (Moderna). Public health officials advise anyone whose last shot was over two months ago to get the latest booster. But that’s easier said than done: After a bunch of hunting around, the earliest appointment I was able to find in my neighborhood was in late November.

Everyone’s an art critic. Two protesters just threw a can of tomato soup on the protective barrier over van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting. They were wearing anti-oil shirts, and they delivered a speech criticizing Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. The frame sustained minor damage and the painting is undamaged for now, but human-caused climate change continues to wreak havoc on the planet where the painting is housed.

Welcome, Patty. Senators Patty Murray and Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) will hold a campaign event in the U District today at 2 pm, one of many thriving communities in Murray’s district. They'll be hanging out on a block with a grassy median and a bunch of student housing. Will the senators take a nice stroll along the median, or pop into one of the houses for a keg stand?

So much for safe routes to school. An unknown vandal has been repeatedly moving, dismantling, and smashing a “healthy streets” sign next to Dunlap Elementary. SDOT fixed the sign in time for the Mayor to visit the school on Wednesday, and not only did the mystery vandal move it by the next day but they actually unbolted it from the road. Good luck out there, kids.

Now that’s a fight I’d pay to see. Here’s Nancy Pelosi describing what she would do to Trump if she saw him on January 6. 

Just another normal mass shooting. Five people are dead in Raleigh, North Carolina, with two more injured in a suburban shooting. A 15-year-old suspect is in custody.

Legs do not exist. Did you see that video about how legs are coming to Facebook/Meta’s VR platform Horizon Worlds? You see, while other VR companies have supported legs for many years, for some reason Horizon Worlds users have always been limited to floating legless torsos. In a promo this week, Meta announced that it would finally catch up to its competitors, and it showed off the upcoming new legs with a flashy video … but it turns out that their demonstration “featured animations created from motion capture.” In other words, the final product may not look like the one they showed off. Meanwhile, over in VR Chat, users are able to do stuff like this: 

Another entry in the annals of “he’s still alive?” Cormack McCarthy has a new novel out, his first in 16 years. You can read an excerpt from The Passenger here.

You should probably get a dog. Look at this face. Look at it!!! Meanwhile, forty English labs were just rescued from a breeder in Eastern Washington and will need homes, if you’re looking to help relieve an overburdened rescue system out there. Or if you prefer, here’s their Amazon wishlist.