Seattles losing residents to the suburbs, increasing likelihood of wacky hijinks involving nosy neighbors.
Seattle's losing residents to the suburbs, increasing likelihood of wacky hijinks involving nosy neighbors. MartinPrescott / Getty Images

A stimulus bill is inching closer to passage. This weekend the senate passed the American Rescue Plan, which means it now goes back to the House for a little more fiddling and then to Biden. Here are some highlights: People making under $75,000 a year will get a $1,400 check (eventually); the unemployment boost is extended through early September; your first $10,200 in unemployment will be tax-free; COBRA will be (temporarily) cheap; you may be eligible for help with rent and utilities; and certain student loan borrowers will have certain taxes forgiven. The Senate version removed a raise in the minimum wage, reduced the number of people who will get checks, and decreased the amount of unemployment people will get.

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Your work email may have been hacked by China. Microsoft says that a few weeks ago its email software was hacked; tens of thousands of organizations are estimated to have been infiltrated, possibly more. Microsoft just released new security updates, but now security researchers say that hackers are redoubling their efforts to try to sneak into as many systems as they can before IT departments can implement the fixes. Banks, utilities, and health organizations are among those compromised. Here is a dramatic re-enactment of the data being transferred.

Natalie Portman is looking ripped. Merry Christmas, lesbians:

Congrats Mr. Jewett. Dan Jewett, a teacher at Seattle’s Lakeside School, just married MacKenzie Scott, aka Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife. MacKenzie is “worth” somewhere around $50 billion—at least to people who believe that money is in any way a reflection of a person’s value—and she’s said that she’ll give away most of that money.

The George Floyd murder trial starts today. Crowds are gathered outside the courthouse in Minneapolis where Derek Chauvin’s trial has begun. Today marks the first day of jury selection, which could take up to three weeks.

Texas won’t forgive residents’ $10,000 electricity bills. Regulators at the Public Utilities Commission decided not to cancel those crazy-high bills from the winter storm last month, because power companies might really need that money. Power companies say that it was the PUC who forced them to charge bonkers rates. Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering a proposal to give the PUC more authority to regulate oil and gas. Great idea!!!

The Seattle Jewish Film Festival is running right now. It’s all online, with over 300 films, and The Seattle Emerald has a nice rundown of some of the highlights.

Facebook seems awfully interested in controller-free VR. Two experimental apps for Facebook’s Oculus have done away with controllers and instead track your hand movements. The First Steps app is a sort of VR tutorial for new users, and Tiny Castles is an experimental game that relies on gesture tracking. They work … okay. Not great. Feels a bit like handwriting recognition in the 1990s — maybe like 25% accurate on a good day.

Cars are just the worst. A wonderful new hassle to car ownership is a dramatic recent uptick in catalytic converter theft, with thieves hitting the Seattle Humane Society recently. You can get a little doodad added to your car that makes them harder to steal. Wouldn’t it be nice if fewer people needed a car to get around Seattle? Oh well, something to dream about.

TikTok has a fun new transphobic trend. Users are flagging themselves as “super straight” to indicate that they’re hostile to transgender people. Cool, cool cool cool. As you’ll no doubt recall, the app had an official policy to hide posts from queer, disabled, and fat users; TikTok was still hiding certain LGBTQ-related hashtags as recently as a few months ago.

Seattle’s losing residents. The number of new residents moving to town hasn’t changed, but a lot more are leaving, according to the Post Office. Most are staying close and just relocating to the suburbs — Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, and so on. I’ll be honest, with light rail close to opening across the water, I’ve been tempted, too. But I’d miss going to a gym located inside a supermarket.

A local biologist needs your help with a foster-tree program. Jim Wright started a program to help grow trees that will eventually be used in habitat restoration areas: If you’ve got some room to spare in your garden, you can just sign up, pay about $100, and then he’ll deliver a sapling that you’ll grow for about two years before it’s transplanted to an environmental site in need to more mature trees.

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Harry and Meghan Markle just did a whole THING with Oprah. A wide-ranging interview with the couple aired this morning on CBS. A few noteworthy revelations: Prince Charles stopped taking Harry’s calls; Meghan contemplated self-harm and wasn’t able to discuss it with the family; and they weren’t provided security by the royal family. Meghan says the Queen was always perfectly nice to her. Oh, and they’re pregnant again! If you haven’t already, do listen to You’re Wrong About’s episodes about Princess Diana.

Busy weekend for agents of God. Pope Francis is in Mosul, visiting areas ransacked by ISIS. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama just got his first COVID shot.

Speaking of vaccines: This morning the Centers for Disease Control released new guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated. Those with two jabs (or one from Johnson & Johnson) can hang out with each other indoors without masks, reports Axios.