August 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Climate's claws. Plus, Colombia decriminalizing coke?

Ordinarily, this headline would be good news. But in this case, we’re talking about Alaska’s snow crabs. These aren’t the King crabs that weigh as much as 20 pounds a piece. But snow crabs still weigh two to four pounds and they don’t move particularly quickly. So it’s puzzling that no one is quite sure where they went. The disappearance is terrible news for those who make a living off catching and selling them, and it could be terrible news for the environment as well. According to one expert, we’re in a pinch. “The magnitude of biomass could not all have moved without us detecting it. We believe we had a very large mortality event, which points to an extreme event that we have never seen before in the Bering Sea.’ He said the crabs, perhaps because of heightened sensitivity to their ecosystem, are like the canary in a coal mine — for the climate and those who make their living from crabbing.'” Why is this big news? Because we’re all in the coal mine along with the crabs and the canaries. Things are changing fast, and we’re just, er, scratching the surface. WaPo (Gift Article): Alaska’s snow crabs have disappeared. Where they went is a mystery.


This Story is Off the Rails

There’s a new country calling for the decriminalization of cocaine. This news is nothing to sneeze at because the country is Colombia, the source of just about all the cocaine seized, snorted, and rubbed on gumlines across America. “Two weeks after taking office, the country’s first leftist government is proposing an end to ‘prohibition’ and the start of a government-regulated cocaine market. Through legislation and alliances with other leftist governments in the region, officials in this South American nation hope to turn their country into a laboratory for drug decriminalization. ‘It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the war on drugs has failed,’ President Gustavo Petro said in his inaugural address this month.” It’s hard to turn your nose up at that analysis. WaPo (Gift Article): Colombia, largest cocaine supplier to U.S., considers decriminalizing.


Major in Math

Going to college is not just about making money, but since the experience puts so many Americans so deep in debt so early in their lives, the cost benefit analysis is worth taking into consideration. “One thing to do is for applicants and their families to shop differently. A good place to start is studying available government data for any school you’re considering to see whether people who attended earn more than they would have if they had gone straight into the work force after high school. At many schools, the answer is no.” NYT: Some Colleges Don’t Produce Big Earners. Are They Worth It? (Before you answer that question, consider that college educated voters are more likely to vote against authoritarians who try to overthrow democracy…)


Don’t Call it a Comeback

“For people who are vaccinated, the virus poses little risk: a complete series of polio immunization is more than ninety-nine-per-cent protective against systemic disease. Because ninety-three per cent of children in the U.S. are vaccinated—well above the threshold for herd immunity—we won’t see anything like the horrifying twentieth-century outbreaks that paralyzed thousands of Americans each year. Still, in communities with low immunization rates, the virus could cause considerable, completely avoidable damage.” The New Yorker: The Preventable Tragedy of Polio in New York.

+ Diseases are complex. So are preventions. Polio in US, UK and Israel reveals rare risk of oral vaccine.


Extra, Extra

Electric Avenue: “The researchers found that the effects lingered even after the electricity was turned off. When they tested subjects a month later, many of the improvements from the brief sessions of brain stimulation remained.” Zapping the brain with electricity shown to boost older people’s short- and long-term memory.

+ This Should Prey on Your Mind: “Texas schools have started receiving posters of the national motto ‘In God We Trust’ that they will be required to display in accordance with a new state law.” Meanwhile, “a Wisconsin school board voted last week to ban teachers from displaying Black Lives Matter and gay pride flags in their classrooms, saying such displays are political messaging.” (There’s a religious war taking place in America. Pay attention.)

+ Car Bombing: “Journalist Darya Dugina, aged 29, died on Saturday when a vehicle she was driving exploded near Russia’s capital. Her prominent ultra-nationalist father, Alexander Dugin, said to be close to Mr Putin, may have been the intended target of the attack.” Her father is referred to as Putin’s brain. Ukraine killed Putin ally’s daughter, Russia says. (That alone should lead you to believe that Ukraine didn’t do it. Perhaps we should consider a government known for targeted killings?)

+ What Can Brown Do For Crew: “They’re vomiting. Their bodies are shutting down. It’s awful.” UPS Drivers Say ‘Brutal’ Heat Is Endangering Their Lives.

+ Finnish with a Bang “In social media feeds, women are showing themselves dancing, singing or holding a drink to show their solidarity with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. She has been under public scrutiny after videos of her dancing and singing with friends circulated on the internet. Those videos were meant to be private, according to Marin.” This is one of the silliest political controversies in the world. And frankly, we thank them for it.


Bottom of the News

“The girl in the image is Denise ‘Denu’ Sanchez, who told Know Your Meme that the photo is of her and her then-boyfriend at a club in Argentina. They have since broken up … But she wasn’t actually explaining something to him. In fact, she told Know Your Meme, she was just trying to sing a cumbia song.” Girl behind ‘Girl Explaining’ meme says she has a new boyfriend now.

+ Mount Kilimanjaro climbers can share slope selfies in real-time. Why? The mountain is getting WiFi. (There goes my number one excuse for not climbing Kilimanjaro…)

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