Sunday Solutions – July 30, 2023
Schools start later this week, so be alert — those school zone speed limits are there for a reason. Let’s take a quick tour through last week’s updates on electricity costs, voting precinct changes, new access to Civil Rights history, fighting AI’s influence and the effort to make our laws read fairly for all. We’ve got a small boat, but we’re slowing down for whales, too.
Paying and paying it forward
On Thursday, the state Public Service Commission got a status update on the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion. Neither of the two new reactors have started regular production and the average ratepayer has invested nearly $1,000 into the project so far. The panel heard from customers and consumer advocates in a testy meeting. The PSC’s own consultants said that the more than 7-year delays mean the company could collect $2.1 billion more from ratepayers than it would if the work had finished on time in 2017. Stanley Dunlap of Georgia Recorder attended the somewhat testy meeting. As for production status, Vogtle Unit 3 was restarted last week after a shutdown while engineers fixed a pump, thus endangering their new July startup goal. Unit 4 received its letter from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to allow workers to load fuel and begin the months-long startup sequence.
From the week
- Revisiting precinct boundaries: A Camden County committee is working to address uneven voter access and traffic at its polling precincts this year. The move is in response to queries from poll workers, voters and officials. Here’s the update on the process and the areas in question.
- A golden anniversary: The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, led by Rep. Carl Gilliard, met last weekend in Savannah to celebrate its 50th year and set goals for its next decades. Jabari Gibbs looks at the opportunities and challenges the group says it will take on.
- Whale tales: The North Atlantic right whale, a beloved seasonal visitor to waters off Coastal Georgia, nears extinction as fewer calves are born each year. As their numbers dwindle, the effort to protect the few moves to a proposal to limit seasonal speeds for boats longer than 35 feet, but facts on what that rule could actually mean can be elusive. Here’s a check of the recent statements from U.S. Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, one of the proposal’s more vocal opponents.
Hear their voices
The public can now hear and see some of the last oral history interview videos with Savannah’s icon of the Civil Rights Era, Westley Wallace Law. A new collection of oral history videos is available through the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection thanks to a grant from the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG). The tapes were made in 2001 about a year before he died and are the longest and most detailed interviews he did on his life and career as a Civil Rights activist. The tapes were originally done for a documentary that was not completed and also hold interviews with other Coastal Georgia community leaders and Civil Rights workers. To learn more about W.W. Law and his legacy, his collections of writing, photos, music and documentation from his work in Savannah are available through the City of Savannah’s Municipal Archives W.W. Law Collection.
Don’t get played by AI
Your Sunday editor took a quick spin through an artificial intelligence image-generation app last week, and the opportunities are endless and easy. But dangers lurk there, too, because most people don’t stop after creating a dachshund-themed meme. It’s helpful to remember that the AI isn’t the problem, it’s what humans can ask it to do. We’re already seeing unofficial examples of political memes, social media posts and videos generated by artificial intelligence or AI applications prompted by humans who seek to prey on our fears or feed our conspiracy theories.
At least one researcher thinks the next election cycle could be overrun by AI’s influence, and he believes we can all work to negate its power. Here’s a breakdown by researchers about how fake events may drive the 2024 elections and tips on how we can guard against their influence. Just remember: The most effective fakes are those that validate something you may already believe or suspect. Your best protection may be to keep learning and follow credible info sources, then recognize and check your biases at the door.
Quiz returns with a vengeance
Here’s your link to test your weekly reading. It’s a whale of a quiz.
Your second cup: Fireman or firefighter?
Let’s move beyond Barbie and the conversations about the movie and into the conversations it sparks about gender roles in the real world. Three lawmakers are working to require all U.S. laws to hold non-gendered descriptions. Here’s a story from the 19th about the effort to write equity literally into our laws. Research shows that job descriptions and employment ads with masculine pronouns tilt hiring toward male applicants. After all, words have power. And, it’s going to be a heavy lift because the gender references go back to the first line of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….”
And a note: This week we said good-bye to summer reporter and intern Jabari Gibbs. He’ll be close by at Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus, so we know he won’t be far away. He leads the student news group at The George-Anne Inkwell. We’re going to miss his keen questions and quiet but friendly presence.
According to the state regulators’ Vogtle consultants, the company could collect $2.1 billion more from ratepayers over the course of construction than it would if the two-phase expansion had been finished in 2016 and 2017.
Discussions were prompted by uneven voter turnout throughout polling locations in the county. Easing voting traffic at busy locations and increasing traffic at others makes the voting experience smoother, and also more economically sustainable.
Analysis of zip codes throughout the United States highlights Chatham County as having significant disparities.
Our own background knowledge could be mistaken or patchy. Never be afraid to learn more from reliable sources, like fact-checked news reports, peer-reviewed academic articles or interviews with credentialed experts.
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