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The Novelist Who Truly Understood the South

A punch-drunk love of American language swells throughout the Coen brothers’ films: the rapid-fire New York dialogue in The Hudsucker Proxy, the nasal timbre of the upper Plains in Fargo, the California dude-speak in The Big Lebowski. In 2010, that passion drew them to reprise True Grit, based on the novelist Charles Portis’s tour de force about a teenage girl’s quest to avenge her father’s death. Set in 1870s Arkansas and the Choctaw lands of present-day Oklahoma, the book brims with colloquialisms and cadences that are best read aloud.



 don’t realize that True Grit was originally a novel, published in 1968. Though often framed as a Western (probably because of John Wayne’s swaggering performance in the first screen adaption), it fits within Portis’s broader oeuvre—one that is inexorably southern in its evocation of a particular place and people, and in its command of the vernacular. Library of America’s newly released Charles Portis: Collected Works bundles his five novels with select stories, essays, and journalism, elevating him to the level of some of his better-known peers: Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy. The retrospective reveals a consummate humorist and sharp-eyed chronicler of human flaws—those deeply embedded racial, religious, and socioeconomic prejudices Portis observed in the American South, a region that he saw as a microcosm for the country as a whole.


For Portis, literature was a comic art, one that insists on laughter amid bloodshed and backroom swindles. His South is a circus of the dispossessed, teeming with con artists and broken farmers; carnival performers and fortune-telling chickens; cars with ailing transmissions; guns, guns, and more guns. Portis’s world is preternaturally violent—perhaps a legacy of the ruthless Scots-Irish settlers of the 18th century—but he sees comedy where other authors see tragedy; redemption where others see brimstone. Like McCarthy, he’s attracted to vaudevillian absurdity, but he avoids McCarthy’s moody existentialism.

[Read: Combinations of Jacksons]

Born in Arkansas in 1933, Portis began his writing career as a journalist. He eventually worked general assignments with Tom Wolfe at the New York Herald Tribune, where he covered some of the most dramatic events of the civil-rights era, including the 1963 murder of the activist Medgar Evers and the March on Washington. Portis’s early articles reveal the deadpan irony that would later characterize his fiction. In an article about a gathering of Ku Klux Klansmen in Bessemer, Alabama, he robs a terrible scene of its power with his light mocking tone: “By 10:30 p.m. one of the crosses had collapsed and the other was just smoldering. Everyone drifted away and the grand dragon of Mississippi disappeared grandly into the Southern night, his car engine hitting on about three cylinders.”

Portis knew his way around a car (and a truck and a tractor). In 1964, he quit the newspaper business and decamped back to Arkansas to focus on his fiction. His subsequent novels and stories display his deep knowledge of machinery, rural life, and the eccentricities of his neighbors—but reflect everything in fun-house mirrors, bending and warping the familiar almost beyond recognition. He satirizes his fellow southerners, incorporating their particular dialect (including its sometimes-racist elements) into his craft, all while treating these characters with grace and even tenderness.

Though his novels form the core of Collected Works, Portis was also a skilled essayist, his techniques honed in the early days of New Journalism. In 1966, the year he brought out his first novel, he also published “That New Sound From Nashville,” an essay on an emerging generation of country-music stars, such as Porter Wagoner and Loretta Lynn. He evokes the glittery, boozy milieu with the confidence of Joan Didion (if she’d found herself spending an evening at the famous honky-tonk Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge). “On Saturday nights, performers … go in the back door of Tootsie’s to get aholt of themselves between sets with some refreshing suds,” Portis writes. “Songwriters—‘cleffers,’ as the trade mags say—sit around and chat and wait for artistic revelation. Deals are closed there. New, strange guitar licks are conceived.” Note the pitch-perfect placement of passive constructions, the “aholt” of South Midland vernacular that Portis smoothly slips into his prose.

Country music was a secular space where a romance gone bad or one too many highballs wouldn’t kill you, even if the hangover lingered. But in Portis’s work, this wayward version of the South frequently butts up against the ubiquitous presence of Christianity. Where McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor’s worldviews were governed by the binary of damnation and salvation, Portis wasn’t particularly interested in hell or paradise; he writes picaresques for those caught in purgatory, seeking escape. The journey is the point. The eponymous lead in his 1966 debut, Norwood, leaves rough circumstances in his Texas town and hops a bus to New York City in pursuit of $70 owed to him by an old Marine buddy, Joe William Reese. Hijinks ensue. Norwood finds Reese’s apartment on 11th Street only to discover that Reese is already headed back to Arkansas. So he boomerangs south, accompanied by his brand-new fiancée, Rita Lee; Edmund, an out-of-work thespian; and a chicken named Joann. The prospect of a respectable life in Louisiana beckons.

The road-trip structure also informs Portis’s enthralling third novel, The Dog of the South. Driving a battered Buick, Ray Midge chases his wife, who has just taken off with her ex-husband, sniffing out their trail from credit-card receipts. Midge is an archetypal Portis penitent, atoning for his lack of ambition, petty thefts, and perhaps the worst transgression of all: being born blue-collar in a postwar, upwardly mobile America. Near the Rio Grande, Midge holes up in a motel room where he’s visited by a bizarre huckster in clown shoes. The man hands him a strange card that features two crossed American flags and a caption that reads Kwitcherbellyachin and then vanishes into the night. “I’m on the alert for omens,” Midge says. “Odd things happen when you get out of town.”

When he accidentally decapitates a cat who has crawled into his Buick’s engine for warmth, Midge recoils: “I couldn’t handle anything … Idleness and solitude led to these dramatics: an ordinary turd indulging himself as the chief of sinners.” This isn’t mere self-loathing; he’s internalized how others view him—as a 26-year-old loafer who can’t hold down a job—and scenes like this show how deeply Portis’s sympathies lie with the struggles of the white underclass. “The back of his neck, a web of cracks, was burnt to the color and texture of red brick from much honest labor in the sun,” observes Jimmy Burns, the narrator of Portis’s final novel, Gringos, about a logging contractor he meets in Mexico. “The thanks [these laborers] got for all their noonday sweat was to be called a contemptuous name.” (He’s referring, of course, to redneck, a term that likely stems from the sunburn that outdoor workers get on the back of their neck.)

[Read: Eight books that explain the South]

Like his fellow southern masters, Portis, despite his secular leanings, draws on Christian scriptures as well as Greek myths. He knows his Bible stone-cold. On the cusp of the Great Depression, middle-aged Mattie Ross, the protagonist of True Grit, writes a memoir about her adolescent trek for justice with one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, a trigger-happy federal marshal, and LaBoeuf, a Texas Ranger. Portis evokes the predilections and prejudices of his southern milieu through Mattie’s voice, especially when she combs through granular distinctions between different Christian denominations: In the South, your Church doesn’t just indicate what your religious beliefs are; it can speak volumes about your zip code, manners, preferred restaurants, and cinema choices. When she meets a Native woman in the bush, Mattie says: “The Indian woman spoke good English and I learned to my surprise that she too was a Presbyterian.” Mattie is oblivious to her own prejudices, a fact that Portis manipulates subtly—rather than casting his characters as overt bigots, Portis lets them expose themselves with off-the-cuff asides.

Ever the intrepid newsman, Portis plays tourist throughout his Collected Works. The volume alludes to tacky traps like Chattanooga’s mountain lookout, Rock City, and rotating restaurants such as the one atop Atlanta’s Peachtree Plaza. A Civil War buff, Midge dutifully references battles and rebel commanders, such as the Confederate generals Joseph Johnston and Braxton Bragg. These set pieces may read like hieroglyphs to non-southerners, but Collected Works is a Rosetta stone, deciphering a region and a history that spans from the colonial era through slavery, Jim Crow, and the present day. A writer who saw the humor in America’s tragic past, Portis reflects the peculiarities and bigotries of the South, many of which, he seems to argue, are simply exaggerated forms of those found in every corner of the country.

How chocolate could counter climate change
At a red-brick factory in the German port city of Hamburg, cocoa bean shells go in one end, and out the other comes an amazing black powder with the potential to counter climate change.


Will AI make our life worthless?

Considering what AI can do so far, and what presumably will be able to do in the future, do you think that our life on Earth will be worthless and meaningless?since jobs will no longer exist, or at least not in the way we were used to for centuries, as well as works of arts, novels, poems, movies etc. Everything could be done by AI, way better and faster than humans do. What will be our purpose in life?

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Bowel cancer patients could be spared radiotherapy, US study suggests

Doctors found some patients could rely on chemotherapy and surgery alone to treat the disease

Thousands of bowel 


 patients could be spared radiotherapy, a study suggests, after doctors discovered they could rely on chemotherapy and surgery alone to treat their disease.

Radiotherapy has been used to treat bowel cancer patients for decades, but the side-effects can be brutal. It can cause problems that negatively affect quality of life, including infertility, the need for a temporary colostomy, diarrhoea, cramping and bladder problems.

Continue reading…
Honey bee colony aggression linked to gene regulatory networks
honey bees
, the role a bee plays in the colony changes as they age. Younger bees perform duties inside the hive, such as nursing and wax building, while older bees transition to roles outside of the hive, either foraging for food (foragers) or defending the colony (soldiers). What determines whether older bees become foragers or soldiers is unknown, but a new studyexplores the genetic mechanisms underlying the collective behavior of colony defense, and how these mechanisms relate to the colony's overall aggression.
The Arab Spring Is in Its Death Spiral. Does the West Still Care?

The past few months have brought despair to millions of Arabs as they’ve watched the rapid and seemingly definitive restoration of an old, dictatorial order throughout a region that was not long ago full of promise. The end of the Arab Spring has been forecast many times already. Now the last stubborn buds have been crushed.

Tunisia, the country that started the wave of democratic uprisings in December 2010, served for more than a decade as a model for other states contemplating the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Now it’s sliding back toward autocracy, with President Kais Saied, elected in 2019, appearing to outdo the country’s previous dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, in repression. Since assuming office, Saied has imposed an emergency regime, suspended parliament, and rewritten the country’s constitution. In recent months, he’s taken to cracking down on any whiff of criticism of his rule by arresting journalists and union and political leaders.

Sudan renewed hopes for a democratic wave when a year-long movement of protest, led mostly by women, brought an end to the two-decades-long dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir in 2019. A 22-year-old woman named Alaa Salah, standing atop a car, dressed in white with large gold earrings and leading men in a chant about freedom, became the image of that democratic revolution. But last month, two of the generals who helped remove Bashir went to war against each other in an all-out battle for control of Khartoum. The conflict has already killed more than 500 people and led tens of thousands to flee the capital, with no end in sight.

[Read: Protesters in Sudan and Algeria have learned from the Arab Spring ]

Then there is Syria, whose revolution was the bloodiest of them all. For 10 years, world leaders shunned President Bashar al-Assad for his ruthless repression of what began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011 and became a bloodbath in which 500,000 Syrians were killed, an estimated 90 percent of them by Assad’s regime and its allies, Iran and Russia. Assad, who also used chemical weapons against his people, has now come in from the cold, at least in the Arab world. His neighbors have turned to him for help resolving a host of problems that he himself created, such as huge outflows of refugees and a lucrative trade in a highly addictive synthetic amphetamine called captagon, produced in Syria under the control of the Assad family.

Successive American administrations have treated the Middle East as a lost cause, a place to fix by force or to ignore. Former President Barack Obama described strife in the region as “rooted in conflict dating back millennia,” suggesting that it was an inevitable and eternal condition. Such an approach risks blinding Washington to the region’s place in the bigger global story that the current U.S. president, Joe Biden, likes to speak of as a worldwide contest between democratic and autocratic forces. In the Middle East, the autocratic side is making a strong comeback. What happens there will have ramifications for the West, whether in the war in Ukraine or the standoff with Iran.

The sight of Assad walking the red carpet to the Arab League meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last month was particularly troubling—not only because he should instead be standing trial at an international tribunal but also because of what this moment signaled beyond Syria’s borders. The Syrian dictator is still standing in large part because of Vladimir Putin’s 2015 military intervention in Syria to shore up the regime. At the time, Washington reacted with relative indifference, if not satisfaction: Syria was going to be someone else’s problem. Russia might even sink into a quagmire there. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself recently highlighted this view as a gross miscalculation by the West.

“The people of Syria received no adequate international protection, and this gave the Kremlin and its accomplices a sense of impunity,” Zelensky said in a speech this March. “Russian bombs were destroying Syrian cities in the same way as they are our Ukrainian cities. It is in this impunity that a significant part of the Kremlin’s current aggressiveness lies.”

Arab officials who have met Assad recently say he has shown neither remorse nor any willingness to compromise. He feels vindicated, and his sense of victory will give comfort to Russia and to Iran, which is assisting Putin with drones and other military support in his war against Ukraine. So far, the Biden administration has adopted a mostly laissez-faire attitude to Assad’s return to the Arab fold.

Western countries share the blame for the failures in Syria, Sudan, and Tunisia. They  have repeatedly made shortsighted policy choices that have contributed to the region’s return to authoritarianism and made it a more receptive place for both human-rights abusers and the West’s strategic adversaries. In Sudan, the U.S. and other countries focused their efforts on mediating between the two warring generals, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. As the former State Department official Jeffrey Feltman wrote in a scathing opinion piece in The Washington Post: “We reflexively appeased and accommodated the two warlords. We considered ourselves pragmatic. Hindsight suggests wishful thinking to be a more accurate description.”

[Kim Ghattas: ‘We want a nation’]

The same could be said of Washington’s dealings with other strongmen in the region, including Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (who has reportedly explored the possibility of supplying Russia with military hardware), or of the European Union’s dealings with Saied in Tunisia. European leaders tiptoed around Saied, counting on him to help stem the flow of refugees from Africa to Europe. Instead, he has pushed more people to flee across the Mediterranean with his far-right, xenophobic positions on migrants and Africans, even while his economic policies are leading Tunisia into crisis.

The stability such leaders provide has always been illusory and temporary. The eruption of mass protests around the Middle East in 2011, deposing such friends of the West as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali, proved as much: The oppression required to keep the lid on disaffected populations was unsustainable then and remains so today. In Egypt, Sisi’s reckless spending on fanciful megalomaniac cities in the desert and other vanity projects, combined with corruption and inefficiency, have brought the country close to default. Government officials glibly advise Egyptian people to eat chicken feet if they can’t afford chicken, while the regime holds some 60,000 political detainees in prison. Even in the Gulf, which is enjoying an oil boom, discontent can’t be silenced forever: Youth unemployment in Saudi Arabia has come down but still sits just below 30 percent, and unemployment in the UAE has also become a major concern.

So what now for the aspirations of millions of Arabs, who once demanded the fall of their regimes? Even just two years ago, they still had some momentum—in Sudan, but also in countries such as Lebanon and Iraq, where a new cohort of activists applied the lessons of 2011 and got organized to run for elections. Their efforts amounted to little or were violently quashed, leaving no clear path forward for a renewed push for democracy in the Arab world.

Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian diplomat and a longtime champion of pluralism and reform in the region, refuses to accept that the journey has come to an end. “You cannot judge the process by the first or second wave of failure,” he told me.

Muasher likened the Arab revolutions to other revolutions, including the French one of 1789, which went through several stages: the restoration of the monarchy, more revolution, a first unstable version of a parliamentary republic, and the ultimate establishment of the Fourth Republic after World War II. The interregnum may be messy in the contemporary Middle East, Muasher suggests, but transformation will not take a century in these rapidly changing societies: “The old Arab order that relies solely on brute force is dead, and the riches from the oil surge are a short-term remedy.” Most important, he says, people are no longer afraid.

In Tunisia, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Ennahda, Tunisia’s largest political party, and one of the region’s most influential and progressive thinkers on political Islam, has also been taking the long view. He spent years in prison in Tunis during the 1980s, followed by decades in exile in the United Kingdom. After the 2011 revolution, Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia and entered politics. In 2016, he wrote a landmark essay in Foreign Affairs in which he argued that democracy was the best, or the least bad, system available and was compatible with Islam. He urged fellow Muslims to reject the term Islamist and adopt Muslim democrat instead.

At the end of April, Ghannouchi was arrested on trumped-up charges related to corruption and terrorism. In May, he was sentenced to a year in prison.

“The cure for failed democracy is more democracy,” Ghannouchi told The New Yorker in 2013, when hundreds of people were killed for protesting a coup in Egypt. In a video recorded just before his arrest, he urged patience: “Trust in yourselves, trust in God, trust the principles of your revolution; democracy is not a passing thing in Tunis, it is a transformation that will also bring light to the rest of the Arab world.”

The demands of the Arab Spring are also not a passing thing. Millions of young people across the Middle East still yearn for justice, dignity, the rule of law, good governance, and jobs. When Washington sounds the themes of democratic struggle against autocratic forces around the globe while mostly ignoring the abuses in the region, not only do its words sound hollow but the contradiction undermines the whole effort. No one wants a return to the bombastic freedom agenda of the George W. Bush administration, but the Biden administration should rethink how the Middle East fits into the broader struggle to counter authoritarianism. The Middle East’s new autocratic order may seem convenient for the U.S. right now, but the people’s silence is only temporary.

Alarmen, der kun nåede to ud af tre
Testen af det nye digitale varslingssystem, ‘Sirenen’, gik ikke som håbet første onsdag i maj. Lidt over hver tredje borger modtog aldrig alarmen på deres mobiltelefon. Et par af forklaringerne lød på, at 3G-mobiler og telefoner med ikkeopdateret styresystem måtte undvære den.
A Nasty Virus That Infects Bacteria Could Be Key to Improved Gene Therapies

Gene therapies could revolutionize medicine, but getting them into peoples’ bodies is harder than it might seem. A new method that re-purposes viruses that infect bacteria could provide a solution.

Finding ways to modify the DNA in the cells of living people could help treat or prevent a host of genetic diseases. It could also help re-purpose their cells to hunt down cancer or produce therapeutic molecules that could treat non-genetic conditions. But while our gene-editing tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated, getting them into peoples’ bodies is complicated.

A few gene therapies exist today, and they mostly use modified viruses, which excel at sneaking their DNA into their hosts’ cells. This makes these so-called viral vectors perfect cargo carriers for the tools and genetic material required to edit genes inside patients cells. But the adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) and lentiviruses that are most commonly used have a pretty small carrying capacity, which severely limits the scope of problems they can tackle.

New research from the Catholic University of 


 has shown that a type of bacteriophage—viruses that infect bacteria—with a much bigger cargo hold can be repurposed to deliver gene therapies. It’s also cheap to make, stable, and easy to program to carry out more complex missions.

The actual therapy is years down the road, but this research provides a model for developing life saving treatments and cures,” Venigalla Rao, who led the research, said in a press release. “What we are researching is like a molecular surgery that can safely and precisely correct a defect and generate therapeutic outcomes and some day cures.”

In the hunt for a more capable delivery vehicle, the researchers turned to a phage called T4, which belongs to the Straboviridae family and infects E. coli bacteria. It has a host of promising characteristics, including a much larger capsid (the main compartment where genetic material is stored), an infection efficiency of nearly 100 percent, and the ability to replicate in just 20 to 30 minutes.

What’s more, researchers have already worked out the atomic structures of the phage’s main components, making the re-engineering process much simpler. This made it possible for the group to set up what it called an “assembly-line approach” in which cargo molecules like DNA, proteins, and RNA were sequentially added to the empty capsid shells and also stuck on their outside as well. The resulting viral vector is then coated in an envelope of lipid molecules, which make it easier to infiltrate human cells.

In a paper in Nature Communications, the researchers showed that their engineered phage could hold stretches of DNA up to 171,000 base pairs long, which is roughly 20 times more than viruses used in current gene therapies can hold. To demonstrate the potential, they used this carrying capacity to deliver the entire gene for the protein dystrophin into human cells. Mutations in this gene are responsible for the genetic disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

In a series of experiments, the researchers showed that the viral vector could be used to do genome editing, gene recombination, gene replacement, gene expression, and gene silencing. They also showed that it could carry complex cargoes made up of multiple stretches of DNA aimed at different genes, alongside various proteins and RNA sequences. The researchers say this could ultimately open the door to treating complex diseases that involve multiple genes like many cancers, neurodegenerative disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.

While these early results are certainly promising, Jeffrey Chamberlain at the University of Washington in Seattle told New Scientist that the team has yet to show the viruses can actually deliver genes into the body, rather than simply to human cells in a petri dish. And Rao concedes that there’s still plenty of work to do to make the jump from the lab bench to the clinic.

But the ability to custom engineer viral vectors for a wide range of applications using their assembly line is highly promising. And unlike existing viral vectors, which have to be reared in human cell cultures at considerable cost, the team’s new engineered phage can be grown far more simply in bacteria.

It’s likely to take many more years of research to bring these ideas to fruition, but if successful, this could greatly expand the scope of future gene therapies.

Image Credit: Venigalla B. Rao; Victor Padilla-Sanchez, Andrei Fokine, and Jingen Zhu. Structural model of bacteriophage T4 artificial viral vector.

[QUESTION ABOUT ROBOTICS] The progress of humanoid robots from this point on…

I have followed the appearance of the first humanoid robots carefully, from Tesla's Optimus to those into for sexual intimacy.

I wish I could find the video now but this one video focused on a particular robot with three combined purposes: sex, conversation or companionship, and household chores. Does anyone know about this?

Because my goal is to buy one such robot when the technology has matured, I have been saving money for years. The question of when to buy (not any time soon) will be crucial, I will really have to be convinced that a given model will give me what I need.

So my question is…How quickly do you think robots intended for the home like this will advance? These are not the breed of robots that will take away people's jobs, so although I would expect some opposition just because people are dumb, I think ultimately other factors, ranging from our aging population to the amount of money to be made by selling or leasing these robots, the opposition will be overcome.

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Overwhelmed in London, I moved to Berlin to save my sanity – and savour a new life
Irish author Naoise Dolan on taking refuge in the German capital

I’ve lived in Berlin for nine months now and I have stopped thinking of myself as “learning German”. Instead I hunt daily for German I still don’t know. I enter new words into a flashcard app on my phone and slowly the proportion of German-yet-unknown-to-me diminishes. If I happen to emerge from this process a Germanophone, well and good. But I have never achieved anything by obsessing over a long-term goal; I need to be having fun in the here-and-now to see any sustained project to completion. All the same, I’m easily amused. My flashcard app delights me.

I moved here last summer from London, where I had essentially lost my mind. (This rationale doesn’t go well in small talk, so I tend to claim instead that I wanted a change of scene.)

Continue reading…
Cutting boards can produce microparticles when chopping veggies
Cutting boards are handy tools found in most homes and restaurant kitchens. But a small-scale study suggests that they are an overlooked source of micrometer-sized particles. The researchers report that chopping up carrots on wood and plastic boards could produce tens of millions of microparticles a year. However, a toxicity test showed no substantial effect on mouse cell survival from polyethylene or wood microparticles released during chopping.
The endangered Antillean manatee faces a growing threat from boat strikes in Belize, according to a new study that raises concerns about the survival of what had been considered a relatively healthy population. Belize hosts a population of around 1,000 manatees. With the growth of tourism in recent decades, however, Belize has seen a substantial increase in boat traffic, making boat strikes an increasingly important cause of manatee deaths and injuries.
Researchers show mobile elements monkeying around the genome
Whole-genomic sequencing has revolutionized the amount and detail of genetic diversity now available to researchers to study. While the researchers previously had looked at a few hundred mobile elements or 'jumping genes,' primarily of the Alu and L1 types, they were now able to analyze over 200,000 elements computationally, confirming and expanding on previous studies. Their findings provide more evidence of the fluidity of species and continuous spread of mobile and transposable genetic elements.
Metal shortage could put the brakes on electrification
As more and more electric cars are traveling on the roads of Europe, this is leading to an increase in the use of the critical metals required for components such as electric motors and electronics. With the current raw material production levels there will not be enough of these metals in future — not even if recycling increases.
Researchers working to improve the performance of superconducting qubits, the foundation of quantum computers, have been experimenting using different base materials in an effort to increase the coherent lifetimes of qubits. The coherence time is a measure of how long a qubit retains quantum information, and thus a primary measure of performance. Recently, scientists discovered that using tantalum in superconducting qubits makes them perform better, but no one has been able to determine why — until now.
Lung cancer pill cuts risk of death by half, says ‘thrilling’ study

Taking the drug osimertinib once a day after surgery reduces chance of patients dying by 51%, trials show

A pill taken once a day cuts the risk of dying from 

lung cancer

 by half, according to “thrilling” and “unprecedented” results from a decade-long global study.

Taking the drug osimertinib after surgery dramatically reduced the risk of patients dying by 51%, results presented at the world’s largest 


 conference showed.

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The Era of Flush State Budgets Is Over
Is this article about ESG?

As part of the deal to extend the debt limit, President Joe Biden and Congress agreed to rescind about $30 billion that had originally been allocated in 2021’s 


 Rescue Plan, some of which was going to be sent to state and local governments for a variety of projects. The amount isn’t that large, at least by federal-budget standards, but it is indicative of a huge change in policy. The federal response to COVID-19 included enormous amounts of mostly unconditional fiscal aid to states, cities, and other local governments. But this era of huge federal aid, and the flush state and local budgets it helped create, is over.

In its place will be a period of state fiscal retrenchment. Between the huge buckets of federal aid and the strong economy of the past few years, state budgets have never been healthier. Some states and cities have used this time to address long-standing fiscal problems and to sock away significant “rainy day” funds, which will ease the coming crunch. But others have not, instead using the money to build out new government programs or cut taxes, policies that will prove hard to reverse even when budgets get tighter.

[Read: Why Biden caved]

And they are getting tighter. Across the countrystate and local tax and other revenues are declining, and the outcome will be particularly bad for transit agencies dependent on farebox revenue where many fewer people are riding transit and for cities reliant on downtown commercial property taxes where more people are working from home. When the flow of federal money to state and local budgets runs out, some jurisdictions—including California, Illinois, and New York City—will face enormous budget gaps.

People have become used to the state and local politics that were ushered in by the full budgets written amid the growing economy of the late 2010s, and the boom in state revenue around COVID. During these flush years, even some liberal politicians supported tax cuts and even some conservative ones supported increasing pay for teachers. The next few years will not look like that. Rather than new programs and tax reductions, we are going to see a number of states and localities forced to cut back. Police departments will be partially defunded not because of political preferences but because of fiscal necessity, despite worries about crime; class sizes in public schools will increase because fewer teachers will be hired. Federal efforts to encourage green infrastructure will be partially frustrated by declining state and local investment. Some places will raise taxes. And, in the medium term, we are likely to see severe fiscal crises in at least a few jurisdictions, like what we saw in Detroit in 2013.

The central lesson of the past few years is that although federal aid to state and local governments can be extremely useful in heading off economic crises, it should be paired with conditions that encourage states and cities to budget responsibly. Congress could still encourage some changes in state and local fiscal policy. Achieving these reforms would have been much easier when federal money was flowing; now, however, we’ll be able to see the need for them more clearly.

Federal aid for states and cities came in several packages in 2020 and 2021 and was crucial in ensuring that the economic shock of COVID didn’t turn into a giant recession. One reason the post-2007 Great Recession was so big was that it led to a huge downturn in state and local employment, substantially extending the economic decline. States and cities ended up hiding a lot of their lost revenue in underfunded public-pension systems, and the consequences persist to this day. During the Great Recession, interest rates were low and unemployment was high, which should have led to massive investment in new infrastructure, but states and cities used their borrowing capacity to accrue pension debt (ask yourself, where are the infrastructural wonders of the past 20 years?). Some jurisdictions, notably Detroit and Puerto Rico, were forced to default on their debts.

In contrast, the state and local aid during the COVID recession was so substantial that it far exceeded the holes in state and local budgets created by the pandemic. It was so successful as an economic stimulus that it likely contributed substantially to inflation.

Aid to states and cities during budget crises—a measure the federal government has taken intermittently since Alexander Hamilton’s plan to assume state debts in 1790—has real benefits, as it helps avoid austerity or defaults. But such aid has obvious drawbacks as well. States and cities begin to expect aid going forward, leading to irresponsible budgeting decisions. Perhaps more important, lenders to states and cities grow less concerned about the condition of their budgets, encouraging reckless fiscal policies. In some periods, these drawbacks were seen as so severe that the federal government allowed states to default on their debts, rather than bailing them out. In the 1840s, the 1870s, and the 1930s, states defaulted, leading bond markets to shun those states and limiting their ability to invest in infrastructure.

The best answer is to provide aid to states and cities in a crisis, but to add explicit requirements that states and cities reform their budget processes. Conditions on aid could encourage states to take steps that are politically harmful in the short run but that will improve their fiscal sustainability.

Congress had leverage to encourage these reforms when providing massive amounts of aid during the COVID emergency. But it failed to do so. Congress still can pass legislation to encourage states to budget responsibly, even though it will be harder now.  

[Conor Clarke: There’s no constitutional end run around the debt limit]

For instance, states and cities regularly budget using the “cash accounting” method, measuring dollars in and dollars out during a given year while failing to account for the accrual of liabilities that will hurt down the road (such as underfunding pensions or failing to maintain bridges). Congress could encourage states to adopt a more reasonable approach. Here’s how: Congress gives states and cities a subsidy every time they borrow, because it has made the interest paid to lenders on state and local debt exempt from federal income taxes, meaning that lenders are willing to lend to states and cities at lower rates. Congress could say that this income-tax exemption is available only if states put a covenant in their bond contracts that they will budget in accord with generally accepted accounting principles, taking into consideration the accrual of liabilities. Even more dramatically,federal regulators could require jurisdictions to adopt “volatility caps,” or covenants not to spend money when state tax revenues suddenly spike.

Congress could model these reforms on improvements made in the state of Connecticut, which until recently had been one of the nation’s most significant fiscal basket cases. Several years before the pandemic, though, Connecticut put spending limits and volatility-cap covenants into its bonds. This made the state’s fiscal rules enforceable by bondholders, and any effort to break them extremely risky. Connecticut saved an extraordinary amount of money during the pandemic, emerging as one of the true fiscal-policy success stories of recent years.

Congress could also create tools to make defaults less costly if they do need to happen. After 2008, municipal bankruptcy proved a useful tool for places such as Detroit and Stockton, California, ensuring that neither one set of creditors (bondholders, public pensioners) nor today’s taxpayers would be held entirely responsible for the bad fiscal decisions of the past, balancing losses for groups of creditors with court supervision of future spending plans for sustainability. Municipal bankruptcy law could be made more functional, however, by clarifying what it takes for a government to be “insolvent,” by authorizing multiple overlapping governments (a city, a county, and a school district that all govern and tax the same people) to file all at once and thereby reducing conflicts between them, or by authorizing state governments to file themselves.

But the biggest policy questions are going to happen at the state and local levels. We will need to do more with less. There is huge demand for state and local governments to make historic investments—in clean energy, in affordable housing, in transportation. Ideally, governments would have saved money during the boom so that they could continue to make investments even when revenues dry up.

Where that is not the case, state and local governments simply won’t be able to make these investments unless they figure out how to reduce costs. The cost of building highways has been growing for decades, and the cost of building tunneled mass transit in America is completely out of whack with the cost in our peer countries. To get new investment during a fiscal retrenchment, we will have to focus on the drivers of those costs—bad planning practicesdifficult permitting processes and environmental reviews, and refusals to negotiate with labor unions. Calls for state investment will have to lean into “supply-side progressivism” ideas that see “Yes, in My Backyard” regulatory reforms as both good in and of themselves and as tools for making state investment more efficient.

[Annie Lowrey: America has wasted its chance to move the economy forward]

The responsibility for these state budget problems rests on state government officials, and even more fundamentally, on us, the voters who select them. Over the past few decades, voters have used state and local elections as a way to comment on national politics—for instance, voting for Democratic state legislators if they like President Joe Biden or for Republican ones if they like former President Donald Trump. What people in state and local office actually do has mattered less and less to general-election outcomes.  

We have ignored state and local politics, assuming that everything will work out fine. Once federal cash stops flowing and budgets worsen, the costs of having done so will be all too clear. Whether and how we respond are up to us.    

The Perfect Escapist Sci-Fi Series
Is this article about Lifestyle?

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.

Good morning, and welcome back to The Daily’s Sunday culture edition, in which one Atlantic writer reveals what’s keeping them entertained.

Today’s special guest is Emma Sarappo, an associate editor on The Atlantic’s Books team. Emma is also a frequent contributor to our Books Briefing newsletter, having recently written about books for a changing planet and making sense of the divide between technology and humanity. Right now Emma is looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country concert trip, scratching her brain with the Two Dots smartphone puzzle game, and gearing up for the 60th-anniversary special of Doctor Who.

First, here are three Sunday reads from The Atlantic:

The Culture Survey: Emma Sarappo

The upcoming event I’m most looking forward to: I’m going to see Joni Mitchell, plus Brandi Carlile, play in Washington State next weekend. It’s a bit of a wild trip—I’m heading all the way to the West Coast from Washington, D.C., and only staying for three days—but my best friend and I figured this might be a once-in-our-lifetime opportunity, so we agreed we had to do it. [Related: The unknowable Joni Mitchell (from 2017)]

Something delightful introduced to me by a kid in my life: Last year, my teenage cousin got me to watch Heartstopper, Netflix’s adaptation of the webcomic and graphic-novel series by Alice Oseman, which is so delightful and fun. My cousin is Norwegian but apparently adores the books so much that she buys and reads them in English in order to get them sooner. [Related: Heartstopper and the era of feel-good, queer-teen romances]

Something I loved as a teenager and still love: Sometimes I feel like I carry my teenage self around in my front pocket; her tastes are still so influential to me today. She loved Doctor Who, and she was right—it’s still perfect sci-fi escapism—and we are so excited for the forthcoming Doctor Who special that’ll bring back the actors David Tennant and Catherine Tate, plus Yasmin Finney (whom I loved in Heartstopper)! Then we’re due for a series with Ncuti Gatwa (whom I loved in Sex Education). [Related: How Doctor Who survived 50 years (from 2013)]

The last museum or gallery show that I loved: I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art the other week and made a point of spending time in the room that holds Cy Twombly’s Fifty Days at Iliam, a series of 10 paintings that evoke the Iliad and the Trojan War through gesture, color, and writing. They inspire really strong responses, because they’re so large and so surprising—at first glance, they appear scribbled or imprecise. If you stay long enough, you’ll hear some gasps, or laughs. I loved that experience.

A painting, sculpture, or other piece of visual art that I cherish: So many, but one of the first that genuinely changed my life as a young adult is Félix González-Torres’s “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. I hear that teenagers are talking a lot about it on TikTok, which is sweet. When I was younger, we were all reblogging González-Torres’s work “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) on Tumblr.

Something I recently rewatched, reread, or otherwise revisited: I started listening to the Smiths again after their bassist, Andy Rourke, died last month. They’re another formative teenage band for me—two generations deep, because I got the CDs from my dad, who also found them formative in his youth. Today, lead singer Morrissey’s racist rhetoric casts a pall over the band for me, but listening to the music, I understand entirely why I was so obsessed with it long before I’d ever read anything about the band. Rourke was a huge part of that. This video of the guitarist Johnny Marr inviting a kid onstage, basically daring him to play “This Charming Man,” a crucial Rourke song—and the kid suddenly, improbably, nailing the riff—is one of my favorite things on the internet.

A piece of journalism that recently changed my perspective on a topic: Katie Engelhart’s “The Mother Who Changed: A Story of Dementia” from The New York Times Magazine last month. There are no easy answers here, so it didn’t have me reverse any of my positions, but it opened my eyes to questions about autonomy and aging that I’d never considered.

A favorite story I’ve read in The AtlanticPainful to pick just a few. Patricia Lockwood on To the Lighthouse was tailor-made for me. I just sent someone Dara Mathis’s story on the Black-liberation movement she grew up in. I read William Langewiesche’s story on Flight MH370 exactly once and haven’t stopped thinking about it, but I will never read it again (too frightening).

My favorite way of wasting time on my phone: Two Dots. It frees me from the social web and scratches my brain perfectly.

An online creator that I’m a fan of: My TikTok is basically all cooking and jokes, which is ideal. I especially love videos from Bettina Makalintal (@bettinamak) and Chuck Cruz (@chuckischarles).

The last debate I had about culture: Less a debate than a round of cooperative overlapping about why Taylor Swift refuses to make her best songs the singles from her albums (justice for “Cruel Summer”).

A good recommendation I recently received: I finally gave in to my best friend’s multiyear urging that I watch The 


, and, after finishing the series, I must demand that you all watch The Americans. [Related: The Americans is the realest, scariest spy show on TV. (From 2014)]

A poem, or line of poetry, that I return to: I just saw my sister graduate from college with an engineering degree; she was telling me about a humanities class on German culture and literature that she had to take. Her class had read this poem about some old statue, she said, and the abrupt turn at the end knocked them all out—they laughed, and they made memes, because the suddenness of the speaker’s realization felt so dramatic. She couldn’t remember it verbatim, so I finished the line automatically: “You must change your life,” from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo.” I know I’m old now, because that kind of lightning-flash epiphany inspired by art was so strange to a class of undergraduates, but so familiar—and so moving—to me. [Related: ‘To work is to live without dying.’ (From 1996)]

Read past editions of the Culture Survey with Adam HarrisSaahil DesaiYasmin TayagDamon BeresJulie BeckFaith Hill, and Derek Thompson.

The Week Ahead
  1. The Idol, the buzzy (and contentious) new series from the Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, and Reza Fahim, starring Tesfaye and Lily-Rose Depp (premieres on HBO and Max tonight at 9 p.m. ET)
  2. Countries of Origin, the debut novel by Javier Fuentes, which tells the story of a blossoming romance between two young men from very different worlds (on sale Tuesday)
  3. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, a reboot of the live-action film franchise based on the popular Hasbro toys and animated series, starring the In the Heights actor Anthony Ramos (in theaters Friday)

still from 'Happy Valley'
Illustration by The Atlantic. Sources: Matt Squire / Lookout Point / AMC.

The Most Compelling Female Character on Television

By Sophie Gilbert

The last time we saw Happy Valley’s Catherine Cawood, she was trying—and quite magnificently failing—to capture one of her police-force colleagues, the nebbishy John Wadsworth, who’d finally been implicated in the murder of his lover. The pursuit is a bleak comedy of errors: Directed by her superiors not to pursue John down train tracks, Catherine mutters “bollocks” and follows him anyway. The pair end up on a bridge in relentless rain. Catherine, who says that she’s never trained in negotiation, asks John—who’s successfully talked down 17 people from various ledges—what to say to compel him not to jump. She has to keep him talking, John says. “You’ve got to be assertive. Reassuring. Empathetic and kind. And you’ve got to listen.” Catherine tells John to take his time, that she’ll be there. His face discernibly changes. “I love my kids,” he tells her; he propels himself backward.

Read the full article.

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Browse snapshots of Manhattanhenge in New York City, dune climbing in China, and more in our editor’s selection of the week’s best photos.

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How Parking Ruined Everything
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Gruen’s proposal was never executed; Texas legislators rejected a necessary bill.

When you’re driving around and around the same block and seething because there’s nowhere to put your car, any suggestion that 

the United States

 devotes too much acreage to parking might seem preposterous. But consider this: In a typical year, the country builds more three-car garages than one-bedroom apartments. Even the densest cities reserve a great deal of street space to store private vehicles. And local laws across the country require house and apartment builders to provide off-street parking, regardless of whether residents need it. Step back to assess the result, as the Slate staff writer Henry Grabar does in his lively new book, Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, and it’s sobering: “More square footage is dedicated to parking each car than to housing each person.”

That Americans like driving is hardly news, but Grabar, who takes his title from a Joni Mitchell song, says he isn’t quibbling with cars; his complaint is about parking—or, more to the point, about everything we have sacrificed for it. All those 9-foot-by-18-foot rectangles of asphalt haven’t only damaged the environment or doomed once-cherished architectural styles; the demand for more parking has also impeded the crucial social goal of housing affordability. This misplaced priority has put the country in a bind. For decades, even as rents spiraled and climate change worsened, the ubiquity and banality of parking spaces discouraged anyone from noticing their social impact.

Parking was once the stuff of sweeping urban visions. In the decades before World War II, as car ownership surged in the U.S., drivers in downtown urban areas simply parked curbside—or double- or triple-parked—leaving streetcar operators and fellow drivers to navigate around their vacant vehicles. Local notables saw this obstacle course as one more threat to cities that were beginning to lose businesses and middle-class residents to the growing suburbs. The Vienna-born architect Victor Gruen, best known as the father of the shopping mall, came up with a solution: Preserve urban vitality by making more room for vehicle storage—a lot more room. In 1956, at the invitation of a top business leader in Fort Worth, Texas, he proposed a pedestrian-only downtown surrounded by a freeway loop and served by massive new parking garages. He wanted to shoehorn so many additional parking spaces into the urban core—60,000 in all—that visitors would never have to walk more than two and a half minutes back to their car.

In hindsight, his idea was bonkers. “Gruen was telling downtown Fort Worth to build more parking than downtown Los Angeles, a city seven times its size,” Grabar writes, and “in a city that, with its wide, cattle-friendly streets, was already an easy place to drive.” Yet at the time, not even Jane Jacobs—the now-sainted author of the urbanist bible The Death and Life of Great American Cities—appreciated the dangers lurking in plans like Gruen’s. Grabar notes that in a “fan letter” (her term) to Gruen, Jacobs gushed that the Fort Worth plan would bring back “downtowns for the people.”

It didn’t. Gruen’s proposal was never executed; Texas legislators rejected a necessary bill. Yet Gruen had validated the postwar belief that cities had a parking shortage they desperately needed to fix. The result was an asphalt kudzu that has strangled other parts of civic and economic life. Over the years, cities and towns have demolished grand old structures to make way for garages and surface parking. When you see vintage photos of most American downtowns, what’s striking is how densely built they once were—before the relentless pursuit of parking helped hollow them out.

As early as the 1920s and ’30s, some local governments had sought to cure their nascent parking problem by making private developers build off-street spaces. Architects adapted: In Los Angeles, Grabar explains, a distinctive apartment-building style called the dingbat—with eight or so units perched on poles over a common driveway—arose after 1934, when the city started requiring one parking space per new apartment. Those rules proliferated in the postwar years. They also became more demanding, and acquired a pseudoscientific precision: Detroit, for example, requires one off-street space per 400 square feet of a museum or an ice rink, one per 200 square feet of a bank or laundromat, and one per 100 square feet of a beauty shop. The rules vary from city to city, frequently in arbitrary ways, but they change the landscape everywhere. An off-street parking spot, plus the room necessary for a car to maneuver in and out of it, requires more than 300 square feet—which, by one estimate, is about two-thirds the size of a typical new studio apartment. On lively main streets that predate parking regulations, shops and restaurants abut one another, but today’s rules produce little islands of commerce surrounded by seas of blacktop.

[Michael Manville: How parking destroys cities]

The opportunity cost of building new spaces quickly became evident. When Los Angeles upped its parking requirement from one to 1.5 spaces for a two-bedroom apartment in 1964, Grabar notes, even the car-friendly dingbat building became infeasible. Off-street-parking mandates, it turns out, are easy to satisfy when suburban developers are building fast-food outlets, strip malls, and single-family homes on cheap open land; meanwhile, large downtown commercial and residential buildings can generate enough revenue to pay for expensive garages. But projects in between fall into what’s been described as the “Valley of High Parking Requirements”: The government-mandated number of spaces won’t fit on a standard surface lot, and structured parking would cost too much to build. This is how parking rules killed off the construction of rowhouses, triple-deckers, and other small apartment buildings. Grabar reports that in the past half century, the production of new buildings with two to four units dropped by more than 90 percent.

Many housing experts believe that the waning supply of cheap market-rate apartments in small and midsize buildings is a major cause of the current housing crisis. Since 1950, the U.S. population has grown by more than 180 million people, at least some of whom—to judge by real-estate prices in New York’s Greenwich Village, Boston’s South End, and other former bohemian enclaves—would happily move to dense neighborhoods with lousy parking if they could. But many residential and commercial parts of cities that look like, well, cities cannot legally be replicated today. “If the Empire State Building had been built to the minimum parking requirements of a contemporary American city … its surface parking lot would cover twelve square blocks,” Grabar writes.

Precisely because parking mandates discourage apartments without banning them, local governments can make unrealistically high demands—two parking spaces for a studio, six for a four-bedroom apartment—as a way of excluding renters and preserving neighborhood homogeneity. For NIMBY homeowners, parking rules have become an all-purpose tool for preventing change in any form, no matter how seemingly innocuous. Grabar describes the plight of Ben Lee, a Los Angeles entrepreneur who wanted to turn his father’s carpet store into a New York–style delicatessen. Local regulations required so many parking spaces—roughly three times the square footage of the deli itself—that Lee would have had to buy and raze three nearby buildings. He tried a work-around: The mall garage across the street always had plenty of unused spots, so Lee arranged to rent a few dozen of them. “Unfortunately,” Grabar writes, “getting a parking variance in Los Angeles is, like trying to make it in Hollywood, a long and degrading process with little chance of success.”

[Henry Grabar: EVs make parking even more annoying]

Although the city did ultimately approve Lee’s plan, a homeowner group sued on the grounds that Lee didn’t have clear title to the parking he planned to use. “It took another two years for Lee to prove his legal right to those empty parking spaces in the mall garage,” Grabar continues, “by which time he was down $100,000 and no longer on speaking terms with his father, who couldn’t believe his son had gotten them into this mess.” Lee gave up—a victim of curmudgeonly neighbors, yes, but also of rules insisting on new spaces even amid a glut of parking.

Something about parking reveals a glitch in our mental programming. A driver might well realize in the abstract that too much pavement, besides making downtowns less vibrant and more barren, also leads to pollution, aggravates flooding, and soaks up too much heat from the summer sun. Yet when Americans presume that parking on demand is almost a civil right, the default assumption will be the more supply, the better—whether it’s necessary or not. And the collective downsides simply don’t register in comparison with the personal joy of finding a parking spot when you’re running late—or with the frustration of being denied one. In what may be Hollywood’s most famous parking scene, in the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes, Kathy Bates sits in a car, waiting to park outside a Winn-Dixie, when a younger driver in a red Volkswagen convertible steals her spot. She responds by stepping on the gas and crashing into the VW. Then she backs up and does it three more times. The maneuver, mind you, signals that she’s taking charge of her life.

If America’s long misadventure with parking has a hero, it’s a once-obscure UCLA urban-planning professor named Donald Shoup. In a 2005 book, The High Cost of Free Parking, he revealed vehicle storage for what it was: not anyone’s birthright or an inexorable landscape feature, but a highly subsidized activity with profound social consequences. Shoup called for ending minimum-parking requirements and letting the market decide how many spaces private developers should build. Making the real-world costs of parking more transparent would benefit everyone, including motorists, he contended. And if cities simply charged for street spots according to market demand, drivers would relinquish them faster, freeing them up for use by others. Although parking meters date back to the 1930s, cities have been oddly coy about deploying them. Surprisingly few streetside spaces are metered—just 5 percent in New York and Miami, 3.4 percent in Boston and Chicago, and 0.5 percent in Dallas and Houston—and the hourly rates, which local governments are reluctant to raise, are almost invariably lower than in nearby garages.

For many people who had never given the issue of parking a second thought, listening to Shoup was like acquiring secret knowledge of how the world really worked. His ideas have deeply penetrated the precincts of those who write books, articles, and tweets about housing and transportation policy. Indeed, Paved Paradise itself is a translation of Shoupism for a broader audience.

Under Shoup’s influence, San Francisco began adjusting parking-meter rates according to demand. (During a pilot phase from 2011 to 2013, rates that started at $2 an hour rose to $3.50 on popular streets and fell to $1 on others; with more spots opening up, the time that drivers spent looking for one fell by nearly half.) City after city began reducing or even eliminating parking requirements for new development. (Blessedly, Austin, Texas, may soon abolish mandatory-parking rules for bars.) A new generation of reformers is pushing housing developers to unbundle parking charges from rents, on the theory that tenants who don’t have cars shouldn’t have to pay for their storage—and that some drivers might give up their vehicle to save a couple hundred bucks a month in rent.

Yet when local governments try to raise parking-meter rates, many critics see a money grab, not a street-management strategy. Some proposals to abolish parking mandates have been assailed from the left as a giveaway to developers. For conservatives, parking reform makes for strange politics. Lifting parking mandates does have a distinctly libertarian vibe—“Let me build my apartment building the way I want to, and if people don’t want to live here because there’s no parking, well, that’s my problem,” one Sun Belt developer tells Grabar. Yet to some on the populist right, technocratic reforms that reduce fossil-fuel emissions and challenge Americans’ driving habits look like a cultural affront.

[From the March 1938 issue: No parking]

Here an optimist would interject that, right now, some of the country’s largest cities and their densest inner suburbs have no choice but to renegotiate the relationship among people, cars, and parking spaces. The pandemic-fueled movement toward remote and hybrid work will affect how often people commute. Vacant commercial towers and underused office parks might have a second life as dense housing. The shift toward electric cars—which are easy to charge if you have a garage but not if you rely on street parking—might nudge more city dwellers to give up their vehicles entirely. The biggest variable is whether habits will change once vehicles can drive themselves; if, instead of buying, driving, and parking their own cars, Americans decide they’d rather rely on robot vehicles (cheaper than human-operated Ubers or taxis) to ferry them around, they might not guard parking spaces so jealously.

But technology alone won’t solve the current mess. People need to recognize that the rules have to change. If ideological divisions lead to a vigorous public debate about the way parking in the United States works, and doesn’t, great—that’s overdue. Parking’s triumph over the city in the 20th century was so complete that, in the 21st, even a modest shift in the opposite direction could liberate a lot of space from cars.

Toward the end of Paved Paradise, in a chapter titled “How Americans Wound Up Living in the Garage,” Grabar follows housing activists’ efforts to legalize in-law apartments carved from single-family houses, in many cases from the garage. The mere fact of this movement epitomizes the underlying problem: Local regulations have blocked apartments while allowing parking structures because, for most of seven or eight decades, city planners got hung up on the wrong issue. The visionaries of Victor Gruen’s day simply failed to foresee how the relentless promotion of parking spaces might enervate cities and crowd out other needs. Some of the most consequential social problems are the ones hiding in plain sight, but parking isn’t even hiding. It’s just everywhere.

This article appears in the July/August 2023 print edition with the headline “How Parking Ruined Everything.”

Apple WWDC 2023: What to Expect for Software and Hardware
Feedly AI found 2 Product Launches mentions in this article
The Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off tomorrow. We break down the potential announcements ahead of the keynote.
Technology and the spiritual realm
Is this article about Electronics?

This isn't particularly well written and is more a collection of thoughts on the subject of the spiritual realm and technology, so try to read between the lines to get a jist of my angle.

While the ideas I'm presenting are unusual, I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't read any of that kind of thing.

I'm just a dude who's been watching the world and it's many changes and it's many things that don't seem to change.

Here goes….

I'm not a spiritual person but after many years of disregarding the concept, it seems to me that there is a spiritual world and it is weilding a great deal of power over much of the real world.

It seems that its most obvious influence is seen in people either being open to it or in a state of unconcious openess via meditation or drugs etc.

This seems to be hit and miss way of transmitting its influenecs to only certain people at any time.

Many people will dis agree that there is a spiritual realm.

Many people will dis agree that there is indeed one.

Many will disagree on the who, what, where, when and why and how many of them there are.

I don't know anything about this realm but I believe that the one I see the most evidence of is evil.

I believe it is concious, aware and is bent on directing things toward its own evil ends, what ever that is.

I can't say why or even who or what it is.

What i can say is that it seems unusual to me that over the past 100 years or so we have seen an ever increasing march toward technological advancement.

I personally think that technology has been largely misguided and exploited for profit and control, as most things tend to be.

Technology beyond the renaissance era seems beyond what humans can make proper use of with out falling completly in to at least one of those two evils.

Fast forward 100 years later and we arrive at world wide internet and all of the problems it has introduced.

Where this will all end is presently unimaginable.

So I'm left wondering….

If there is in fact a spiritual realm wielding influence here on earth, did the spirit world inspire humans to push technology so as to eventually create the digital world we are now entering?

Or did it see the potential of the digital world and hijack it for its own end as is so often the way even with humans when new developments arise in our world?

I don't know, but the push for technology as an answer to the world's problems feels more and more like a sales gimmick to embrace what we don't really need for a good life.

So now on to the digital realm….

The digital world is made up of electrical and magnetic patterns and sequences.

It's just an idea but I think its possible that the spirit world might be able to directly influence things as intangible and energy based such as electricity and magnetism.

Or perhaps an interface of sorts could be developed to allow this to happen.

If human thought or conciousness was immersed in the digital realm, and it is clear this is where things are now headed, human thought and conciousness could be directly controlled and manupulated just as any other data could be.

Controlling human thought would be simply a matter of controlling pattern based electricity in the form of software.

Not only that but the spirit world could see, hear and directly access the physical world via the internet's reach and control over physical things.

In that sense, the internet and AI could be a gateway from the spirit world to the real world via electrical and magnetic energy.

The spirit world would be able to directly influence humans and their activities via AI.

Humans are already increasingly dependant on internet technology to navigate daily life and in the same way, soon we will be dependant on AI to deal with the complexities of life and so its all consuming influence is almost inevitable.

It's all just an idea though but it seems to me, at least a worthy idea.

I mean, why is there such a push for technology that hasn't really made life any better than it was 1000 years ago?

Where is that push coming from?

I don't think it's altogether coming from us humans.

Technology seems to almost always be bent toward exploitation and control and I think this is not just a case of power hungry humans exceeding greed but something much more sinister.

The internet and AI will soon have global access to all things at all times and anyone with privileged access to those will also have such abilities.

I think its possible that the rise of surveillance would not be just so that we can be spied on but it would be the eyes and ears for the spirit world in to our world.

AI would be the gateway for its mind to have access and control in our world.

If everyone's mind is immersed in the digital realm, this could allow the spiritual realm to have unlimited and immediate control over everyone and any connected technology at any time in ways that are presently impossible.

Like in ghost busters, the door will then swing both ways.

These ideas are poorly written, unusual and vague but what ever the reality of the situation, I think we are being taken for a ride and have been sold a lie that technology will solve all our problems.

Edited for as many types as I can find while on my phone.

submitted by /u/brick_windows
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Scientific Reports, Published online: 04 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-30913-4

A novel scale based on biomarkers associated with COVID-19 severity can predict the need for hospitalization and intensive care, as well as enhanced probabilities for mortality
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All species experience the bodily changes of puberty, but the social lessons that define the shift from childhood to adulthood are more nuanced.
UK trials for cancer breath tests reach final stages

Quick and simple tests in GP surgeries could detect cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, colon or liver

Simply blowing into a bag at a GP’s surgery could show that a patient has cancer. That is the aim of an ambitious new project that is going through its final clinical trials in the UK. If successful, cancer breath tests could be used in a few years in order to pinpoint a range of tumours in the early stages of their development.

The technique is primarily aimed at detecting 


 of the gut, including those of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas and colon, but could also be used to pinpoint cases of liver cancer. In total, these tumours formed more than 20% of all cancer cases in the world, said the project’s leader, Prof George Hanna of Imperial College London. “We have been working on this technique for more than 15 years and have now reached the stage where we are going through final clinical trials,” he told the Observer.

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‘Spymania’ grips Russian security services amid sharp rise in treason cases

The recent arrest of a number of high-profile scientists has led the scientific community to fear they are being targeted by the Kremlin

As Russia’s war in Ukraine has grown into an existential conflict for the Kremlin over the past 15 months, its search for internal enemies has intensified, with a sharp rise in treason cases that experts have equated to a “spymania”.

While many of the treason cases focus on those allegedly fighting for or aiding Ukraine, others have burrowed into seemingly loyal state institutions, such as the scientific research centres that helped research the very weaponry that Russia is using to strike Ukraine.

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2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #22
Feedly AI found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Students and Faculty at Ohio State Respond to a Bill That Would Restrict College Discussions of Climate Policies by Dan Gearino, inside Climate News, May 31, 2023
A chronological listing of news and opinion articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, May 28, 2023 thru Sat, june 3, 2023.

This week, several shared articles did quite well on our Facebook page: At a glance – How reliable are climate models?Call for help: Update or create translations for updated rebuttals!Meteorologists face unprecedented harassment from conspiracy theorists, and, Antarctic Sea Ice Is at Record Lows. Is It an Alarming Shift?.

Links posted on Facebook

If you happen upon high quality climate-science and/or climate-myth busting articles from reliable sources while surfing the web, please feel free to submit them via this Google form for possible inclusion on our Facebook page. Thanks!



Since the pandemic there has been a steep rise in cases of ADHD among children. Here, experts discuss why, parents describe their struggles and campaigners say what needs to change

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that is shrouded in misunderstanding, uncertainty and controversy. There is, for example, no definitive agreement on how many people have the condition. In the UK, one survey has put the incident rate in childhood (five to 15 years old) at just over 2% (3.62% of boys and 0.85% of girls). ADHD support groups cite figures of 5%. One UK study found 11% with symptoms but 6.7% with disorder and impairment.

Even the name can be misleading. “We don’t have a deficit of attention,” says Henry Shelford, co-founder of ADHD UK, a charity aimed at raising awareness of the disorder. “It’s a lack of control of attention. And people with predominant hyperactivity make up our smallest cohort.”

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Sunak claimed the role of Covid hero. Lady Hallett may reveal a different tale

Role of eat out to help out scheme in increased cases and Treasury hostility to scientific advice may come under spotlight

At the start of a Tory leadership debate hosted by the Sun last July, Rishi Sunak made a series of statements which, 10 months on, all ring equally hollow.

Facing Liz Truss – the contest’s eventual winner – Sunak was at pains to acknowledge that Sun readers were struggling with the cost of living. But he also wanted to temper his concern for them with optimism about Britain’s prospects.

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Illumina Launches Genomic Sequencing AI (did you miss this?)
Feedly AI found 2 Product Launches mentions in this article

The first AI Neural Network for Genetic Data is live (June 2023) and was trained on a massive amount of primate species with the goal of being able to decode mutations in humans. It's called PrimateAI-3D and is released by Illumina, a company that controls 90% of the worlds sequencing equipment. This along with CRISPR will likely allow us to soon be able to modify life in whatever way we want. What does this mean for the world?


So, last week there was a huge bit of news that seems to be somewhat underplayed by the media, but there is a flurry of activity from billionaire investors.

So there is this giant Genomic Sequencing company called Illumina.

It's in San Diego, but something like 90% of the world's genomic sequencing is done on Illumina's equipment.

They just announced launching their own AI (a neural networks similar to Google's AlphaFold2 or even ChatGPT).

Here is a video that explains how Google's AlphaFold2 directly led to Illumina launching this AI and what is likely to happen next:

There are massive implications to this.

Basically genomics and DNA is this massive pool of data that we don't understand because we have to way of sorting this large amounts of data to gain important insights.

Then somewhere around 2017 there were a few large breakthroughs in AI tech. That's why we are seeing all these new things like ChatGPT, MidJourney, Stable Diffusion and Google's AlphaFold2 etc.

Now that technology is getting applied to sifting through all the massive DNA data we have.

This plus technology like CRISPR, which is able to modify DNA by cutting and injecting new DNA sequences.

So, right now we can write/edit the code that all life runs on and with Neural Networks and Genomics we should be able to learn what each bit of code means.

So once we are able to do that, genetic engineering will become very effective and simple, genetic advancements accelerate exponentially.

(by the way all the legendary billionaire investors have already sniffed this out, Peter Thiel, Carl Icahn and Stanley Drukenmiller are all either buying up Illumina or trying to launch competing products)

Some of the things that will be possible:

1)human genetic engineering – change eye color, height, muscle, intelligence etc. Basically you can design humans like you can video game characters. Whether this will only be possible for embryos or we will be actually to modify adults is not apparent yet, but most disease will be gone and most people will likely have close to "perfect genes" in terms on not being sick, not having any weaknesses etc.

2) bacteria for everything – right now we know it's possible to have bacteria eat plastics, other bacteria to produce biofuel. We just can't do it at scale, it's very difficult. With genetic engineering this could accelerate allowing us to clean up oceans, clean the air from CO2 etc. (this was suggested by researchers at Google's DeepMind, they said it *might* be possible with advancements in this tech)

3) recreate extinct species – This sounds like… Jurassic Park? But in a good way hopefully.

And tons of things that we can't even image. Basically DNA codes everything that life is able to do, so there isnt' really a limit to what we can do if we are able to understand how it works.

I'm curious what people think about this?

This seems like massive, massive news…

Most people interested in AI are looking at Google, NVIDIA, OpenAI etc.

But AI neural networks in Bio-Tech seem like where the biggest applications of this tech will be seen.

Are we about to experience a massive Bio-Tech revolution driven by AI neural networks?

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New 'designer' titanium alloys made using 3D printing
Feedly AI found 1 Product Launches mention in this article
  • A team of researchers has created a new class of titanium alloys that are strong and not brittle under tension, by integrating alloy and 3D-printing process designs.
A team of researchers has created a new class of titanium alloys that are strong and not brittle under tension, by integrating alloy and 3D-printing process designs. They say they embedded circular economy thinking in their design, creating great promise for producing their new titanium alloys from industrial waste and low-grade materials.
Ultrasound breaks new ground for forearm fractures in children
Portable ultrasound devices could provide an alternative to x-ray machines for diagnosing forearm fractures in children in a move that could alleviate waiting times for families in hospital emergency departments (ED). Researchers compared functional outcomes in children given an ultrasound and those who received an x-ray on a suspected distal forearm fracture. The team treated 270 children, aged between five and 15 years, during the randomized trial, which included a check-up 28 days later and another check-in at eight weeks. The findings show the majority of children had similar recoveries and returned to full physical function.


The truth about caffeine

Life Kit offers tips on how to better understand the effect caffeine has on our bodies, and make sure your relationship with your favorite caffeinated drink is a healthy one.

The power of lullabies

We think of lullabies as a sweet way of easing children into sleep. But the power of a lullaby can go further — to comfort, and to heal, even under the most difficult circumstances.

Is this article about Tech & Scientific Innovation?

Scientific Reports, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-36254-6

Production of combustible fuels and carbon nanotubes from plastic wastes using an in-situ catalytic microwave pyrolysis process

Scientific Reports, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41598-023-35360-9

Exploring the antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, biocompatibility, and larvicidal activities of selenium nanoparticles fabricated by endophytic fungal strain Penicillium verhagenii
Sunak under fire as ‘stupid’ Eat Out to Help Out scheme to be focus of Covid inquiry

Leading scientist attacks prime minister as criticism mounts of government approach to science during the crisis

Rishi Sunak is facing a barrage of criticism in the run-up to the official 


-19 inquiry as a leading scientist attacks his “spectacularly stupid” Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which is believed to have caused a sudden rise in cases of the virus.

The prime minister’s role as chancellor during the pandemic is under increasing scrutiny – as is that of his predecessor at No 10, Boris Johnson – in an escalating Covid blame game at Westminster as Lady Hallett prepares to open her investigation into the government’s pandemic response later this month.

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Can movie reviews predict box office success?
When one thinks of movie reviews, one might see them as harbingers of success or failure at the box office. Some researchers have previously found that both positive and negative reviews correlate to box office revenues, and the effect of negative reviews diminishes over time.
The Observer view on the Covid inquiry: why was the science ignored? | Observer editorial
Is this article about Climate?
The lessons to be learned from the government’s mistakes in handling of the coronavirus are crucial. We need all the facts

If one clear lesson is to be taken from our response to the arrival of 


-19 three years ago, it is an appreciation of the highly effective role played by scientists in fighting the pandemic. Within weeks of the Sars-CoV-2 virus emerging, researchers had sequenced every one of its genes and had pinpointed the cells through which Covid-19 enters the body. By the end of the year, they had used that knowledge to create a safe, tested vaccine that played a crucial role in ending the pandemic. More than 7 million people across the planet have died of Covid-19 but the death toll would have been far higher had researchers not acted with such speed and potency.

Yet it is also becoming clear that on many occasions scientists were not listened to by national leaders. Economics and short-term political considerations were often given greater priority than scientific concerns. These resulted in failures to limit the spread of Covid-19. It is for this reason that the UK inquiry into the nation’s pandemic response, chaired by Heather Hallett, should be followed with rigorous attention.

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Ron DeSantis’s Joyless Ride

Real-life Ron DeSantis was here, finally. In the fidgety flesh; in Iowa, South Carolina, and, in this case, New Hampshire. Not some distant Sunshine State of potential or idealized Donald Trump alternative or voice in the far-off static of Twitter Spaces. But an actual human being interacting with other human beings, some 200 of them, packed into an American Legion hall in the town of Rochester.

“Okay, smile, close-up,” an older woman told the Florida governor, trying to pull him in for another photo. DeSantis and his wife, Casey, had just finished a midday campaign event, and the governor was now working a quick rope line—emphasis on quick and double emphasis on working. The fast-talking first lady is much better suited to this than her halting husband. He smiled for the camera like the dentist had just asked him to bite down on a blob of putty; like he was trying to make a mold, or to fit one. It was more of a cringe than a grin.

“Governor, I have a lot of relatives in Florida,” the next selfie guy told him. Everybody who meets DeSantis has relatives in Florida or a time-share on Clearwater Beach or a bunch of golf buddies who retired to the Villages. “Wow, really?” DeSantis said.

He was trying. But this did not look fun for him.

Retail politicking was never DeSantis’s gift. Not that it mattered much before, in the media-dominated expanse of Florida politics, where DeSantis has proved himself an elite culture warrior and troller of libs. DeSantis was reelected by 19 points last November. He calls himself the governor of the state “where woke goes to die,” which he believes will be a model for his presidency of the whole country, a red utopia in his own image.

[From the May 2023 issue: How did America’s weirdest, most freedom-obsessed state fall for an authoritarian governor?]

What does the on-paper promise of DeSantis look like in practice? DeSantis has performed a number of these in-person chores in recent days, after announcing his presidential campaign on May 24 in a glitchy Twitter Spaces appearance with Elon Musk.

As I watched him complete his rounds in New Hampshire on Thursday—visits to a VFW hall, an Elks Club, and a community college, in addition to the American Legion post—the essential duality of his campaign was laid bare: DeSantis is the ultimate performative politician when it comes to demonstrating outrage and “kneecapping” various woke abuses—but not so much when it comes to the actual in-person performance of politics.

The campaign billed his appearance in Rochester as a “fireside chat.” (The outside temperature was 90 degrees, and there was no actual fire.) The governor and first lady also held fireside chats this week at a welding shop in Salix, Iowa, and at an event space in Lexington, South Carolina. The term conjures the great American tradition started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Those were scary times—grim visages of malnourished kids and food riots and businessmen selling pencils on the street. FDR’s cozy evenings around the radio hearth were meant to project comfort and avuncular authority.

Sitting on gray armchairs onstage in Rochester—Casey cross-legged and Ron man-spread—the DeSanti reassured their audience that the Florida governor was the candidate best equipped to protect 


 from contemporary threats no less serious than stock-market crashes and bank closures. He was focused on a distinct set of modern menaces: “woke indoctrination” and “woke militaries” and “woke mind viruses” and “woke mobs” that endanger every institution of American life. He used woke more than a dozen times at each event (I counted).

Also, DeSantis said he’s a big supporter of “the death penalty for pedophiles” (applause); reminded every audience that he’d sent dozens of migrants to “beautiful Martha’s Vineyard” (bigger applause); and promised to end “this Faucian dystopia” around COVID once and for all (biggest applause).

Also, George Soros (boo).

[Mark Leibovich: Just wait until you get to know Ron DeSantis]

Casey talked at each New Hampshire stop about the couple’s three young children, often in the vein of how adorably naughty they are—how they write on the walls of the governor’s mansion with permanent markers and leave crayon stains on the carpets. Ron spoke in personal terms less often, but when he did, it was usually to prove that he understands the need to protect kids from being preyed upon by the various and ruthless forces of wokeness. One recurring example on Thursday involved how outrageous it is that in certain swim competitions, a girl might wind up being defeated by a transgender opponent. “I’m particularly worried about this as the father of two daughters,” DeSantis told the Rochester crowd.

This played well in the room full of committed Republicans and likely primary voters, as it does on Fox. Clearly, this is a fraught and divisive issue, but one that’s been given outsized attention in recent years, especially in relation to the portion of the population it directly affects. By comparison, DeSantis never mentioned gun violence, the leading cause of death for children in this country, including many in his state (the site of the horrific Parkland massacre of 2018, the year before he became governor). DeSantis readily opts for the culture-war terrain, ignoring the rest, pretty much everywhere he goes.

His whole act can feel like a clunky contrivance—a forced persona railing against phony or hyped-up outrages. He can be irascible. Steve Peoples, a reporter for the Associated Press, approached DeSantis after a speech at a VFW hall in Laconia and asked the governor why he hadn’t taken any questions from the audience. “Are you blind?” DeSantis snapped at Peoples. “Are you blind? Okay, so, people are coming up to me, talking to me [about] whatever they want to talk to me about.”

No one in the room cared about this little outburst besides the reporters (who sent a clip of it bouncing across social media within minutes). And if the voters did care, it would probably reflect well on DeSantis in their eyes, demonstrating his willingness to get in the media’s face.

[Yair Rosenberg: DeSantis is making the same mistake Democrats did in 2020]

Journalists who managed to get near DeSantis this week unfailingly asked him about Donald Trump, the leading GOP candidate. In Rochester, NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez wondered about the former president’s claim that he would eliminate the federal government’s “administrative state” within six months of a second term. “Why didn’t you do it when you had four years?” DeSantis shot back.

In general, though, DeSantis didn’t mention Trump without being prompted—at least not explicitly. He drew clear, if barely veiled, contrasts. “I will end the culture of losing in the Republican Party,” he vowed Thursday night in Manchester. Unsaid, obviously, is that the GOP has underperformed in the past three national elections—and no one is more to blame than Trump and the various MAGA disciples he dragged into those campaigns.

“Politics is not about building a brand,” DeSantis went on to say. What matters is competence and conviction, not charisma. “My husband will never back down!” Casey added in support. In other words: He is effective and he will follow through and actually do real things, unlike you-know-who.

“Politics is not about entertainment,” DeSantis said in all of his New Hampshire speeches, usually at the end. He might be trying to prove as much.

New drug combination offers ovarian cancer breakthrough

The revolutionary treatment has been shown to significantly shrink tumours in almost half of patients with the disease

Thousands of women with 

ovarian cancer

 could benefit from a revolutionary drug combination after it was shown to significantly shrink tumours in almost half of patients with the disease.

The new treatment blocks tumour growth, helping keep the disease at bay for years. Experts said the “fantastic” and “very exciting” results from clinical trials of the drug combination, presented at the world’s largest 


 conference this weekend, showed it was “far more effective” than any available option for patients.

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Gene genius: how the placenta project is unlocking the secrets of our cells

The Human Cell Atlas is already helping to ensure safer pregnancies, and scientists believe it will help them understand many other conditions

It provides oxygen and nutrients for a growing baby, removes waste products as they build up in its blood, and protects the life of the foetus. Yet the placenta, the temporary organ that cherishes the unborn, is a puzzle. It carries the DNA of the newly formed child but manages to elude immune responses from its genetically distinct mother.

Understanding how the placenta survives and functions is of critical importance in ensuring pregnancies are healthy and viable – and thanks to a remarkable global project, the Human Cell Atlas (HCA), researchers are now uncovering the secrets of its behaviour.

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A lawyer got ChatGPT to do his research, but he isn’t AI’s biggest fool | John Naughton

The emerging technology is causing pratfalls all over – not least tech bosses begging for someone to regulate them

This story begins on 27 August 2019, when Roberto Mata was a passenger on an Avianca flight 670 from El Salvador to New York and a metal food and drink trolley allegedly injured his knee. As is the 


 way, Mata duly sued Avianca and the airline responded by asking that the case be dismissed because “the statute of limitations had expired”. Mata’s lawyers argued on 25 April that the lawsuit should be continued and appending a list of over half a dozen previous court cases that apparently set precedents supporting their argument.

Avianca’s lawyers and Judge P Kevin Castel then dutifully embarked on an examination of these “precedents”, only to find that none of the decisions or the legal quotations cited and summarised in the brief existed.

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Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38964-x

Electrochemical CO2 conversion to methane offers a promising solution for the large-scale storage of renewable electricity, yet the catalytic selectivity at high current density still needs to be refined. Here the authors report to use both dissolved CO2 and in-situ generated CO2 from bicarbonate to sustain high local CO2 concentration around Cu electrode and thus achieve selective CO2 conversion to methane.
EPA Condemned for Weak Response to Toxic Takeout Containers
Consumer groups are saying that the EPA hasn't done enough to battle Inhance, a producer of PFAS-riddled plastic food and cosmetic containers.

A legal battle between the 

Environmental Protection Agency

 (EPA) and a major producer of plastic takeout containers just got a little more complicated, according to a report from The Guardian.

The EPA sued the container maker, a Houston-based firm called Inhance, back in December 2022, on the grounds that Inhance had repeatedly lied to regulators about the presence of PFAS — a notoriously toxic "forever" plastic known to cause or contribute to serious health problems including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, asthma, and thyroid disease — in its products.

Now, according to the report, a coalition of the consumer groups Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Center for Environmental Health are getting involved in the suit, too. But PEER is targeting the EPA, which the coalition claims hasn't done enough to battle Inhance and its toxic takeout containers.

A fair point, considering that despite the ongoing lawsuit, Inhance — which, per the report, is estimated by the consumer groups to produce around 200 million PFAS-contaminated plastic containers every year — is still distributing products.

"It's a serious and ongoing threat to public health," Bob Sussman, an attorney representing the coalition, told the Guardian. "It involves not only the demonstrated hazards of the PFAS that are in the containers, but the huge number of containers and their economy-wide uses."

And more, though court filings and patent applications show that "Inhance appears to have repeatedly lied to regulators and customers about whether its containers shed PFAS," as the Guardian reports, the EPA and the Department of Justice (DoJ) have reportedly failed to bring these inconsistencies up in court. That's a pretty curious thing to leave out of the legal battle, and a misgiving that, per the Guardian, may bolster the coalition's argument that the plastics industry has too much influence over the EPA.

To back up for a second: according to the report, the whole ordeal started back in January 2021, when the EPA subpoenaed Inhance "for information about its fluorination process" amid a broader agency review of PFAS and the plastics industry. Then, in a meeting with the EPA later that year, Inhance chose to obscure and dismiss evidence of PFAS in their containers. You know, like innocent companies do.

Several months later, in March of 2022, the EPA officially handed Inhance a violation notice, which reportedly included a measure pressing Inhance to cease-and-desist production immediately if they hadn't removed PFAS from their goods; two weeks later, as the Guardian notes, Inhance put out a press release claiming that it was "pleased to announce" that its products weren't riddled with the poisonous plastics.

This is a strategy that Inhance appears to have used more than once. According to the newspaper, a September EPA report claimed that Inhance's "container walls leached [PFAS] into the contents of the container." Inhance then told the protective agency that it would comply with a review of its fluorination process, but wouldn't cease production. The EPA, per the Guardian, didn't "file a lawsuit or alert the public, or press Inhance to halt production" at the time. Meanwhile, that same month, Inhance said in a customer-targeted seminar that "our chemistry does not impart any of these [PFAS] that the EPA is concerned about, and never has… We are not sure where EPA thinks it’s seeing [PFAS] species but it's not from Inhance."

Then, just two months after that, the EPA reportedly submitted documents in which the company admitted that it had been aware since January 2021 that nine different long-chain PFAS, describing these toxins as "'an apparently unavoidable aspect of fluorination of [high-density polyethylene] containers.'"

"After telling the world there was no PFAS in their containers," Sussman, the lawyer for the coalition, told the Guardian, "they are admitting, basically, the chemicals' presence is unavoidable."

If you can believe it, the water gets even murkier from there. In October 2022, about a month after Inhance's eventual admission, the consumer groups in question reportedly filed a notice of intent to sue, a measure that would give the EPA and Inhance 60 days to take action in response. On day 56, the EPA finally sued Inhance – but despite this apparent knowledge of PFAS, didn't ask the court to issue an immediate halt on Inhance's production.

If at this point you're feeling a bit disheartened: completely fair. PFAS are absolutely terrible for human, animal, and environmental health, and Inhance has already admitted that it's impossible to make their goods — which in addition to serving as takeout containers, are used to house personal care products as well — without generating PFAS.

It feels a little insane that production, and thus distribution, is still ongoing. And unfortunately, as it stands, some of the folks involved in the coalition aren't terribly optimistic about the potential outcome.

"Judging from what my clients have told me over the last three years," Kyla Bennett, a former EPA scientist who works with the consumer group PEER, told the Guardian. "I have zero confidence [the new chemicals division is] going to make the right decision on this."

More on PFAS: Scientists Discover That Toilet Paper Contains Toxic "Forever" Chemicals

The post EPA Condemned for Weak Response to Toxic Takeout Containers appeared first on Futurism.

Scientists Experimenting With Actual Tractor Beam to Clean Up Space Junk
From their experiments, the researchers calculate that their tractor beam could be used to move debris weighing several tons.

Straight out of Star Trek

A team of engineers is working on a real life "tractor beam," a staple device of spacefaring sci-fi that can push and pull objects at a distance without making contact.

Tantalizingly, their early design concepts seem to actually work, with the researchers calculating that they could move a several-ton object at an — admittedly very slow — pace of around 200 miles over two to three months.

"We're creating an attractive or repulsive electrostatic force," said Hanspeter Schaub, chair of the aerospace engineering department at University of Colorado Boulder, in a press release. "It's similar to the tractor beam you see in 'Star Trek,' although not nearly as powerful."

Although it's still a long way from being a space-worthy prototype, a real life tractor beam could eventually be an invaluable tool to help clean up the space junk that pollutes the Earth's increasingly crowded orbits — not to mention one of those rare moments when actual tech seems to be making inroads toward golden-era sci-fi.

Opposites Attract

The researchers are experimenting with their designs by using a large, specialized vacuum chamber that simulates the conditions of space.

Their favored concept, a so-called "electrostatic tractor," uses more or less the same principles that cause a balloon to stick to your hair after rubbing it on your head.

In theory, at a distance of some 50 to 90 feet away, a spaceship could use the device to shoot a beam of electrons at a hunk of space junk, inducing a negative charge in the debris while producing a positive one in the servicing vessel, gradually attracting them together.

"With that attractive force, you can essentially tug away the debris without ever touching it," said Julian Hammerl, a CU Boulder aerospace engineer involved in the research. "It acts like what we call a virtual tether."

Clearing Real Estate

The space debris problem shouldn't be underestimated. According to Schaub, geosynchronous orbit (GEO), a highly coveted area in space where satellites can remain in a fixed position relative to Earth, is already running out of real estate.

"GEO is like the Bel Air of space," Schaub described.

In addition, NASA has recently reaffirmed the seriousness of the space junk issue in a March report, which concluded that lightly nudging debris, rather than removing them from orbit altogether, might be the most practical solution.

Easier said than done, and according to the researchers, coming into physical contact with debris is a potential hazard, which makes using a hands-off tractor beam an all the more — shall we say — attractive option.

"Touching things in space is very dangerous," explained Kaylee Champion, one of the researchers involved in the CU Boulder project. "Objects are moving very fast and often unpredictably."

Schaub added that tractor beams could be a significantly cheaper cleanup tool, too, as a craft equipped with one could move up to "dozens of objects during its lifetime."

"That brings your cost way down," he added. "No one wants to spend a billion dollars to move trash."

More on hard science: Scientists Just X-Rayed a Single Atom

The post Scientists Experimenting With Actual Tractor Beam to Clean Up Space Junk appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk Celebrates Pride Month With Wildly Transphobic Outbursts
It's only day two of Pride Month, Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is already jumping headfirst into deeply transphobic wasters.

Self-Inflicted Boomerism

It's only day two of Pride Month, and Twitter, Tesla, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is already jumping headfirst into deeply transphobic waters.

The billionaire took to Twitter today to post a series of transphobic tweets, an outburst that was seemingly spurred, at least in part, by the release of The Daily Wires' new "documentary" titled "What is a Woman," a transphobic pet project helmed by the media company's premier trans antagonist, far-right personality Matt Walsh.

"Every parent should watch this," Musk tweeted while linking to the Daily Wire video project. "Consenting adults should do whatever makes them happy, provided it does not harm others," he continued in the thread, "but a child is not capable of consent, which is why we have laws protecting minors."

But the founder didn't stop there, going as far as to give credence to a post from a gay anti-trans group dubbed "LBG," which is calling for the removal of what it calls the "TQ+ cult" from the LBGTQ+ acronym. The TQ+ community, of course, is absolutely not a "cult," but Musk, ever the alt-right reply guy, decided to weigh in.

"Totally agree," he replied. He also took a moment elsewhere to promote a tweet falsely equating gender-affirming care to the "mutilation" of children.

Though Musk is adamant that kids under 18 can't be trusted to seek gender-affirming care, the plentiful body of research that exists on the subject actually shows that the prohibition of such care is far worse for young people's wellbeing. The Twitter owner, however, whose trans daughter last year cut ties with her billionaire father completely, clearly prefers a destructive and non-scientifically supported stance.

Call It What It Is

This isn't Musk's first transphobic outburst. He's been known to mock pronouns, and recently claimed that trans youth are being influenced by "propaganda" and thus cannot consent to affirmational care. And considering that he likely wants to keep currying favor with the far-right, it likely won't be his last, either.

Trans people, particularly trans children, have become a convenient target for the far right — a group that Musk has quickly gone from rubbing elbows with to becoming a leading figure within — ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Florida governor Republican candidate Ron DeSantis, who has enacted a number of anti-trans laws in his home state and who Musk has already said that he would vote for, is notably expected to anti-trans mudslinging central to his campaign.

It all sucks, and we should call it what it is: transphobia, pure and simple. On that note, did we mention that Twitter's new head of Trust and Safety resigned this week?

More on Elon and the trans community: Oh, Great, Elon Musk Has Entered the Trans Kids "Debate" Chat

The post Elon Musk Celebrates Pride Month With Wildly Transphobic Outbursts appeared first on Futurism.

This Week’s Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through June 3)


Welcome to the New Surreal. How AI-Generated Video Is Changing Film.
Will Douglas Heaven | MIT Technology Review
The Frost nails its uncanny, disconcerting vibe in its first few shots. Vast icy mountains, a makeshift camp of military-style tents, a group of people huddled around a fire, barking dogs. It’s familiar stuff, yet weird enough to plant a growing seed of dread. There’s something wrong here. …The Frost is a 12-minute movie in which every shot is generated by an image-making AI. It’s one of the most impressive—and bizarre—examples yet of this strange new genre.”


Nanoscale Robotic ‘Hand’ Made of DNA Could Be Used to Detect Viruses
Michael Le Page | New Scientist
“Xing Wang at the University of Illinois and his colleagues constructed the nanohand using a method called DNA origami, in which a long, single strand of DNA is ‘stapled’ together by shorter DNA pieces that pair with specific sequences on the longer strand. …The four fingers of the nanohand are joined to a ‘palm’ to form a cross shape when the hand is open. Each finger is just 71 nanometers long…and has three joints, like a human finger.”


The ‘Death of Self-Driving Cars’ Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
Timothy B. Lee | Ars Technica
“[Google and Waymo] don’t believe self-driving technology is ‘decades away’ because they’re already testing it in Phoenix and San Francisco. And they are preparing to launch in additional cities in the coming months. Waymo expects to increase passenger rides tenfold between now and the summer of 2024. Cruise is aiming for $1 billion in revenue in 2025, which would require something like a 50-fold expansion of its current service.”


This Is the First X-Ray Taken of a Single Atom
Jennifer Ouellette | Ars Technica
“Atomic-scale imaging emerged in the mid-1950s and has been advancing rapidly ever since—so much so, that back in 2008, physicists successfully used an electron microscope to image a single hydrogen atom. Five years later, scientists were able to peer inside a hydrogen atom using a ‘quantum microscope,’ resulting in the first direct observation of electron orbitals. And now we have the first X-ray taken of a single atom.”


Get Ready for 3D-Printed Organs and a Knife That ‘Smells’ Tumors
Joao Madeiros | Wired
“To doctors and nurses working 75 years ago, when the UK’s National Health Service was founded, a modern ward would be completely unrecognizable. Fast-forward into the future, and hospitals are likely to look very different again. These are some of the changes you’re likely to see in years to come.”


I’m a Rational Optimist. Here’s Why I Don’t Believe in an AI Doomsday.
Rohit Krishnan | BigThink
“The systems of today are powerful. They can write, paint, direct, plan, code, and even write passable prose. And with this explosion of capabilities, we also have an explosion of worries. In seeing some of these current problems and projecting them into future non-extant problems, we find ourselves in a bit of a doom loop. The more fanciful arguments about how artificial superintelligence is inevitable and how they’re incredibly dangerous sit side by side with more understandable concerns about increasing misinformation.”


The Race to Make AI Smaller (and Smarter)
Oliver Whang | The New York Times
“[In January, a group of young AI researchers] called for teams to create functional language models ‌using data sets that are less than one-ten-thousandth the size of those used by the most advanced large language models. A successful mini-model would be nearly as capable as the high-end models but much smaller, more accessible and ‌more compatible with humans. The project is called the BabyLM Challenge.”


Judge Bans AI-Generated Filings In Court Because It Just Makes Stuff Up
Chloe Xiang | Motherboard
“This decision follows an incident where a Manhattan lawyer named Steven A. Schwartz used ChatGPT to write a 10-page brief that cited multiple cases that were made up by the chatbot, such as ‘Martinez v. Delta Air Lines,’ and ‘Varghese v. China Southern Airlines.’ After Schwartz submitted the brief to a Manhattan federal judge, no one could find the decisions or quotations included, and Schwartz later admitted in an affidavit that he had used ChatGPT to do legal research.”


The World Is Finally Spending More on Solar Than Oil Production
Casey Crownhart | MIT Technology Review
“Let’s start with what I consider to be good news: there’s a lot of money going into clean energy—including renewables, nuclear, and things that help cut emissions, like EVs and heat pumps. And not only is it a lot of money, but it’s more than the amount going toward fossil fuels. In 2022, for every dollar spent on fossil fuels, $1.70 went to clean energy. Just five years ago, it was dead even.”


The Quest to Use Quantum Mechanics to Pull Energy Out of Nothing
Charlie Wood | Wired
“In the past year, researchers have teleported energy across microscopic distances in two separate quantum devices, vindicating Hotta’s theory. The research leaves little room for doubt that energy teleportation is a genuine quantum phenomenon. ‘This really does test it,’ said Seth Lloyd, a quantum physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the research. “You are actually teleporting. You are extracting energy.”

Image Credit: Pawel Czerwinski / Unsplash


Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38952-1

Chemical probes and their correct use are essential for accurate and robust data. Here, authors show that only 4% of analyzed publications used chemical probes in line with recommendations. This indicates that the best practice with chemical probes is yet to be implemented in research.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38823-9

A significant barrier to the mass adoption of electric vehicles is the long charge time (>30 min) of high-energy Li-ion batteries. Here, the authors propose a practical solution to enable fast charging of commercial Li-ion batteries by combining thermal switching and self-heating.
Audi Q8 E-tron 2023: Review, Prices, Specs
Is this article about Automotive Industry?
Five years after the German company’s original EV, E-tron is up for a refresh. But is the Q8 enough?
Strain-tunable Berry curvature in quasi-two-dimensional chromium telluride

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38995-4

Chromium tellurides are a particularly promising family of quasi-2D magnetic materials; towards the single van der Waals layer limit, they preserve magnetic ordering, some even above room temperature, and exhibit a variety of intrinsic topological properties. Here, Hang Chi, Yunbo Ou and co-authors demonstrate a strain tunable Berry curvature induced reversal of the anomalous Hall effect in Cr2Te3.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38909-4

Understanding dosage-sensitive processes requires quantitative modulation of protein abundance. Here the authors report a CRISPR-based methodology for analog tuning of endogenous gene expression, CasTuner, and show homogeneous gene expression tuning across mouse and human cells.
Wild, Wondrous Food Findings
Is this article about Food Science?

This is an edition of The Wonder Reader, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a set of stories to spark your curiosity and fill you with delight. Sign up here to get it every Saturday morning.

When we’re deciding what to eat (and what not to eat), human beings tend to rely on conventional wisdom. Junk food is bad for you. Eating too quickly is bad for you. And tasting an apple that’s been sitting alone in an office for at least 438 days? Really bad for you.

These are just a few examples on a long list of commonly accepted food principles that Atlantic writers have disproved or questioned in recent years. Studies show a mysterious health benefit to ice cream, David Merrit Johns reported in our May magazine issue. Our science writer Katie Wu recently found that fast eaters like herself aren’t necessarily “doomed to metabolic misfortune.” And, yes, our science editor Rachel Gutman-Wei tasted the apple, which was left alone at the Atlantic offices at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Although she probably wouldn’t recommend that you reach for an old-apple appetizer, she learned from experts that apples are more protected than some other fruits against water loss and microbe attacks, and that the specific apple she was studying had been preserved remarkably well.

Today’s newsletter explores the many pieces of food wisdom our writers have challenged—sometimes at personal risk—in the name of science, or even just in the name of curiosity. Although I’m slightly worried about my colleagues’ self-preservational instincts, I’m also grateful to them for sharing these wild and wondrous findings.

Weird Food Facts

Nutrition Science’s Most Preposterous Result

By David Merritt Johns

Studies show a mysterious health benefit to ice cream. Scientists don’t want to talk about it.

A Crumpled, Dried-Out Relic of the Pandemic

By Rachel Gutman-Wei

I returned to my office and found an apple that had somehow not rotted away.

Eating Fast Is Bad for You … Right?

By Katherine J. Wu

The widespread advice to go slow is neither definitive nor universal.

Still Curious?

Other Diversions


I’ll leave you with photos of an astounding recent food event that doesn’t come with gastrointestinal risk but carries its own dangers: the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, in which participants chase a nine-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese down a steep and uneven hill.

— Isabel

Dark Extinctions Are Popping Up Everywhere
Is this article about Climate?

This article was originally published in Undark Magazine.

It could have been a scene from Jurassic Park: 10 golden lumps of hardened resin, each encasing insects. But these weren’t from the age of the dinosaurs; these younger resins were formed in eastern Africa within the past few hundreds or thousands of years. Still, they offered a glimpse into a lost past: the dry evergreen forests of coastal Tanzania.

An international team of scientists recently took a close look at the lumps, which had first been collected more than a century ago by resin traders and then housed at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, in Germany. Many of the insects encased within them were stingless bees, tropical pollinators that can get stuck in the sticky substance while gathering it to construct nests. Three of the species still live in Africa, but two had such a unique combination of features that, last year, the scientists reported them to be new to science: Axestotrigona kitingae and Hypotrigona kleineri.

Species discoveries can be joyous occasions, but not in this case. Eastern African forests have nearly disappeared in the past century, and neither bee species has been spotted in surveys conducted in the area since the 1990s, notes the entomologist Michael Engel, a co-author of the discovery paper who recently moved from a position at the University of Kansas to the American Museum of Natural History. Given that these social bees are usually abundant, the people looking for insects likely hadn’t simply missed them. Sometime in the past 50 to 60 years, Engel suspects, the bees vanished along with their habitat.

“It seems trivial on a planet with millions of species to sit back and go, ‘Okay, well, you documented two stingless bees that were lost,’” Engel says. “But it’s really far more troubling than that,” he adds, because scientists are recognizing more and more that extinction is “a very common phenomenon.”

The stingless bees are part of an overlooked but growing trend of species that are already deemed extinct by the time they’re discovered. Scientists have identified new species of batsbirdsbeetlesfishfrogssnailslichenmarsh plants, and wildflowers by studying old museum specimens, only to find that they are at risk of vanishing or may not exist in the wild anymore. Such discoveries illustrate how little is still known about Earth’s biodiversity and the mounting scale of extinctions. They also hint at the silent extinctions among species that haven’t yet been described—what scientists call “dark extinctions.”

[Read: Conservation tends to ignore the most common type of life]

Identifying undescribed species and the threats they face is crucial, says Martin Cheek, a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the United Kingdom, because if experts and policy makers don’t know an endangered species exists, they can’t take action to preserve it. With no way to count how many undescribed species are going extinct, researchers also risk underestimating the scale of human-caused extinctions—including the loss of ecologically vital species such as pollinators. And if species go extinct unnoticed, scientists also miss the chance to capture the complete richness of life on Earth for future generations. “I think we want to have a full assessment of humans’ impact on nature,” says Ryan Chisholm, a theoretical ecologist at the National University of Singapore. “And to do that, we need to take account of these dark extinctions as well as the extinctions that we know about.”

Many scientists agree that humans have pushed extinctions higher than the natural rate of species turnover, but nobody knows the exact toll. In the tens of millions of years before humans came along, scientists estimate that for every 10,000 species, from 0.1 to 2 went extinct each century. (Even these rates are uncertain because many species didn’t leave behind fossils.) Some studies suggest that extinction rates picked up at least in the past 10,000 years as humans expanded across the globe, hunting large mammals along the way.

Islands were particularly hard-hit, for instance in the Pacific, where Polynesian settlers introduced pigs and rats that wiped out native species. Then, starting in the 16th century, contact with European explorers caused additional extinctions in many places by intensifying habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species—issues that continued in a number of places that became colonies. But again, scientists have a poor record of biodiversity during this time; some species’ extinctions were recognized only much later.

Key drivers of extinction, such as industrialization, have ramped up ever since. For the past century, some scientists have estimated an average of 200 extinctions per 10,000 species—levels so high that they believe they portend a mass extinction, a term reserved for geological events on the scale of the ordeal that annihilated the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Yet some scientists, including the authors of those estimates, caution that even these numbers are conservative. The figures are based on the Red List, compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a bookkeeper of species and their conservation statuses. As several experts have noted, the organization is slow to declare species extinct, wary that if the classification is wrong, they may cause threatened species to lose protections.

The Red List doesn’t include undescribed species, which some estimate could account for roughly 86 percent of the possibly 8.7 million species on Earth. That’s partly because of the sheer numbers of the largest species groups, such as invertebrates, plants, and fungi, especially in the little-explored regions around the tropics. It’s also because the number of experts to describe them is dwindling, thanks to a widespread lack of funding and training, notes Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela, a conservation ecologist at UC Santa Cruz. Ocampo-Peñuela told Undark that she has no doubt that many species are going extinct without anyone noticing. “I think it is a phenomenon that will continue to happen and that it maybe has happened a lot more than we realize,” she said.

Studies of animal and plant specimens in museum and herbaria collections can uncover some of these dark extinctions. This can happen when scientists take a closer look at or conduct DNA analysis on specimens believed to represent known species and realize that these have actually been mislabeled, and instead represent new species that haven’t been seen in the wild in decades. Such a case unfolded recently for the ichthyologist Wilson Costa of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, who has long studied the diversity of killifish inhabiting southeastern Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. These fish live in shady, tea-colored acidic pools that form during the rainy season and lay eggs that survive through the dry period. These fragile conditions make these species extremely vulnerable to changes in water supply or deforestation, Costa wrote to Undark via email.

In 2019, Costa discovered that certain fish specimens collected in the 1980s weren’t members of Leptopanchax splendens, as previously believed, but actually represented a new species, which he called Leptopanchax sanguineus. With a few differences, both fish sport alternating red and metallic-blue stripes on their flanks. Whereas Leptopanchax splendens is critically endangered, Leptopanchax sanguineus hasn’t been spotted at all since its last collection, in 1987. Pools no longer form where it was first found, probably because a nearby breeding facility for ornamental fish has diverted the water supply, said Costa, who has already witnessed the extinctions of several killifish species. “In the case discussed here, it was particularly sad because it is a species with unique characteristics and unusual beauty,” he added, “the product of millions of years of evolution stupidly interrupted.”

Similar discoveries have come from undescribed specimens, which exist in troves for diverse and poorly studied groups of species, such as the land snails that have evolved across Pacific Islands. The mollusk specialist Alan Solem estimated in 1990 that, of roughly 200 Hawaiian species of one snail family, the Endodontidae, in Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, fewer than 40 had been described, the University of Hawaii biologist Robert Cowie told me. All but a few are now likely extinct, Cowie said, perhaps because invasive ants feasted off the snails’ eggs, which this snail family carries in a cavity underneath their shell. Meanwhile, Cheek told me he’s publishing more and more new plant species from undescribed herbaria specimens that are likely already extinct in the wild.

Sometimes, though, identifying species based on individual specimens is hard, notes Naomi Fraga, a botanist who directs conservation programs at the California Botanic Garden. And describing new species is not always a research priority. Studies that report new species aren’t widely cited by other scientists, and they typically also don’t help toward pulling in new funding, both of which are key to academic success, Cheek said. One 2012 study concluded that a collected species takes an average of 21 years to be formally described in the scientific literature. The authors added that if these difficulties—and the general dearth of taxonomists—persist, experts will continue to find extinct species in museum collections, “just as astronomers observe stars that vanished thousands of years ago.”

Museum records may represent only a fraction of undescribed species, causing some scientists to worry that many species could disappear unnoticed. For some groups, such as snails, this is less likely, as extinct species may leave behind a shell that serves as a record of their existence even if collectors weren’t around to collect live specimens, Cowie noted. For instance, this allowed scientists to identify nine new and already extinct species of helicinid land snails by combing the Gambier Islands in the Pacific for empty shells and combining these with specimens that existed in museums. However, Cowie is concerned about the many invertebrates, such as insects and spiders, that won’t leave behind long-lasting physical remains. “What I worry about is that all this squishy biodiversity will just vanish without leaving a trace, and we’ll never know existed,” Cowie said.

[Read: Will be the last polar bears on Earth?]

Even some species that are found while they are still alive are already on the brink. In fact, research suggests that newly described species might have a higher risk of going extinct. Many new species are only now being discovered, because they’re rare, isolated, or both—factors that also make them easier to wipe out, Fraga, of the California Botanic Garden, says. In 2018 in Guinea, for instance, Denise Molmou, a botanist at the National Herbarium of Guinea, discovered a new plant species that, like many of its relatives, appeared to inhabit a single waterfall, enveloping rocks amid the bubbly, air-rich water. Molmou was the last known person to see it alive.

Just before Molmou’s team published their findings in the Kew Bulletin last year, Cheek looked at the waterfall’s location on Google Earth. A reservoir, created by a hydroelectric dam downriver, had flooded the waterfall, surely drowning any plants there, Cheek said. “Had we not got in there, and Denise had not gotten that specimen, we would not know that that species existed,” he added. “I felt sick. I felt, you know, it’s hopeless, like what’s the point?” Even if the team had known at the time of discovery that the dam was going to wipe it out, Cheek said, “it’d be quite difficult to do anything about it.”

Although extinction is likely for many of these cases, it’s typically hard to prove. The IUCN requires targeted searches to declare an extinction—something that Costa is still planning on doing for the killifish, four years after its discovery. But these surveys cost money and aren’t always possible.

Meanwhile, some scientists have turned to computational techniques to estimate the scale of dark extinction by extrapolating rates of species discovery and extinctions among known species. When Ryan Chisholm’s group applied this method to the roughly 195 species of birds in Singapore, they estimated that 9.6 undescribed species have vanished from the area in the past 200 years, in addition to the disappearance of 58 known species. For butterflies in Singapore, accounting for dark extinction nearly doubled the extinction toll of 132 known species.

Using similar approaches, a different research team estimated that the proportion of dark extinctions could account for up to just over a half of all extinctions, depending on the region and species group. Still, “the main challenge in estimating dark extinction is that it is exactly that: an estimate. We can never be sure,” notes Quentin Cronk, a botanist of the University of British Columbia who has produced similar estimates.

Considering the current trends, some scientists doubt whether naming all species before they go extinct is even possible. To Cowie, who expressed little optimism that extinctions will abate, the priority should be collecting species, especially invertebrates, from the wild so there will at least be museum specimens to mark their existence. “It’s sort of doing a disservice to our descendants if we let everything just vanish such that 200 years from now, nobody would know the biodiversity—the true biodiversity—that had evolved in the Amazon, for instance,” he said. “I want to know what lives and lived on this Earth,” he continued. “And it’s not just dinosaurs and mammoths and what have you; it’s all these little things that make the world go ’round.”

Other scientists, such as Fraga, find hope in the fact that the presumption of extinction is just that—a presumption. As long as there’s still habitat, there’s a slim chance that species deemed extinct can be rediscovered and returned to healthy populations. In 2021, Japanese scientists stumbled across the fairy lantern Thismia kobensis, a fleshy orange flower known from only a single specimen collected in 1992. Now efforts are under way to protect its location and cultivate specimens for conservation.

Fraga is tracking down reported sightings of a monkeyflower species she identified in herbaria specimens: Erythranthe marmorata, which has bright yellow petals with red spots. Ultimately, she said, species are not just names. They are participants of ecological networks, upon which many other species, including humans, depend.

“We don’t want museum specimens,” she says. “We want to have thriving ecosystems and habitats. And in order to do that, we need to make sure that these species are thriving in populations in their ecological context, not just living in a museum.”

Movies Are Best Before Noon

My love of going to the movies during the day began with my job. As a magazine editor tasked in the 2010s with finding entertainment stories, I often attended film screenings for journalists, many of which were scheduled for the early morning so that we could get to writing afterward. At first, I viewed these excursions as merely a professional obligation. I would walk into the screening bleary-eyed, coffee and pastry in hand, and slump into my seat. And yet, each time I emerged from the dark theater some two hours later, I felt revitalized—ready to take on the day. If the life wisdom espoused by self-improvement columns and my grizzled colleagues was “Do the hardest thing first,” I was taking the opposite approach. I was beginning my day doing the most pleasurable thing. It was, quite literally, an eye-opener.

Nearly a decade later, my soft spot for matinees remains. Although I’m no longer working as an editor, I still utilize weekends and holidays for early jaunts to the theater whenever I can. These showings have numerous advantages over their evening counterparts. The tickets are typically cheaper, for one. Daytime movie audiences also tend to be more relaxed, and to go alone. Walk into an 11 a.m. screening of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and you’ll find yourself among kindred spirits: people in sweats who’ve chosen to start their day in the space between public and private, hiding out from the larger world while still taking part in it. Earlier in the day, before many of life’s obligations have had a chance to weigh on you, moviegoing can be an even greater sensory feast than usual: One can more easily pay attention to the flavor of rich, buttery popcorn; to the oxblood velvet of the seats; to the tiny white aisle lights, twinkling invitingly like an airport runway. The luxury of time sprawling out before you makes everything feel elevated.

[Read: How my wife and I took back our Sundays]

Most of all, when I get to start the day with a film, I am reminded that culture is an integral part of life. Often, my weeknight Netflix consumption is a necessary form of self-absentia, a passive consumer experience meant to rid myself of the day’s stresses. By that time, I’m just looking for a soft landing. But the rare joy of a matinee foregrounds a movie as something worth my utmost attention. I’m hardly the only one who feels this way. As a composition student at Juilliard in the 1940s, the 


 philosopher Stanley Cavell frequently skipped classes and instead went to the movies during the day. These trips left such an impression on Cavell that he would later write, “Memories of movies are strand over strand with memories of my life.”

Many times, a movie before noon can be a guilty pleasure, like cake for breakfast. Other times, the clarity of the morning can lead to moments of genuine introspection through cinema. And then there are instances when the film itself matters less than the time that a matinee facilitates with friends and family.

[Read: The guilt-free pleasure of airplane movies]

Case in point: Some years ago, my father told me he’d begun experiencing lapses in his short-term memory and was contemplating seeing a doctor. A retired physics teacher who’d made his living explaining complex scientific concepts, he was starting to find even simple ideas difficult to articulate. When I gave him a book for his birthday, a bulging spy novel by the author Daniel Silva that my mother had suggested, he turned it over in his hands, seemingly confused by how it had gotten there. It would be years before we had an official diagnosis, but we knew that my once-brilliant father was in decline.

People with dementia tend to be a little sharper in the mornings than at night, so my family began scheduling outings early in the day—including going to the movies. That first winter, we avoided most of the crush of holiday movie crowds by catching a 10:30 a.m. screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A storm had dumped several inches of snow on southeastern Wisconsin, but we still made it in time to grab coffees from the concession stand before taking our seats. Afterward, while standing on the curb and warily eyeing the icy parking lot, I asked my dad what he’d thought of the film. “Best one so far,” he said.

I can’t say I agreed, but who cares? I realized, at that moment, that it didn’t much matter whether Han died or Leia lived, or even if my dad remembered who those characters were. In the comfortable silence of the theater, we had sat side by side and traveled to another galaxy, all before lunch. We stepped out, blinking in the midday sun, marveling at how much time we had left.

The Invention of Objectivity

When Carr Van Anda joined The New York Times as its managing editor on February 14, 1904⁠, the temperature inside the office dropped a few degrees—or so it felt.

Van Anda, age 39, was a chilly newsroom presence, a formal man who wore rimless glasses and a stickpin through his starched collars. Times reporters lived in fear of his chastening glare. They called it the “death ray.”

The most famous stories about “V.A.,” as he was known around the office, came a little later on—the time he corrected an equation of Albert Einstein’s, the time his identification of an ancient forgery forced the British Museum to revise its official biography of King Tutankhamen. But his savantlike intelligence was picked up on almost immediately by his newsroom colleagues. “He scents buncombe and fraud miles away,” one of them later wrote. He had the sort of skeptical mind that reflexively questioned the assumption that the Titanic was unsinkable, and the news sense to spring into action the moment its radio went silent⁠—resulting in a Times scoop for the ages.

[From the November 1919 issue: British and 



Radio and television did not exist yet; the only way to get the daily news was by reading a newspaper, and the manner in which newspapers went about collecting and presenting the news was changing rapidly. The turn-of-the-century New York Times was exactly the right place for Van Anda to have landed. Though traditional in some ways, the paper was also at the vanguard of a movement to rationalize and expand news coverage. Since acquiring the Times in 1896, the publisher Adolph Ochs had ignored the prevailing wisdom that New York City’s brash, crusading “yellow journals” were the trade’s future. Whereas those papers outraged, amused, and promised to make big things happen, Ochs vowed simply to “give the news impartially, without fear or favor,” and to let the Times serve as “a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

The Times was not an exciting read. But Ochs treated its reputation for dullness as an asset, not a liability. He downplayed its editorials, expanded anything having to do with news, financial news in particular. He invested in the paper’s legal coverage and began listing the day’s fires and real-estate deals. Rival papers such as The Sun and the Tribune sniped that the Times had somehow managed to become even more sleep-inducing. By the time they realized that the Ochs strategy was working, he’d surged ahead of them. Even the mighty Joseph Pulitzer felt compelled to bring his New York World around.

What Ochs had realized was that his rivals had undervalued the demand for timely, comprehensive, and trustworthy information. He’d correctly judged that readers, or at least “quality” readers (as they were called), were fed up with sensationalism.

His tidy slogan for the Times—“All the news that’s fit to print”—made it clear what he was offering. His rapid turnaround of the Times is one of the great success stories in the history of journalism.

The air of authoritative impartiality with which Ochs and Van Anda imbued the Times is now under assault from both ends of the political spectrum. The right accuses the so-called mainstream media of abandoning neutrality, while the progressive left argues that it should be abandoned. No one is truly unbiased, the left notes, and so journalists might as well declare where they stand. “Transparency is the new objectivity,” this argument goes. Some advocates even profess to believe that ditching forced postures of impartiality will help restore trust in media, rather than erode it further.

[Imani Perry: Why I reject the gospel of objectivity]

But the case for more bias in reporting is very dodgy, and one suspects that it has gained traction mostly because what passes for journalistic evenhandedness these days is a pale imitation of the version embraced by idealists such as Ochs and Van Anda.

In today’s opinion-driven news environment, the other side of the story is often presented more out of a sense of obligation than true curiosity. Some outlets have given counternarratives more consideration than they deserve. Being dismayed by all the false equivalences and foregone conclusions makes sense, but giving up on such an important guiding principle after experiencing the cheapened version of it is like renouncing all forms of air travel after flying easyJet.

It’s worth remembering that, back when Ochs and Van Anda began working together, the model of objective journalism that is now derided as the “view from nowhere” was not the default. Throughout the 19th century, moderation and impartiality were virtually unknown in popular media. Many newspapers didn’t just lean one way or the other politically—they answered directly to party bosses. Standards of accuracy were lower. “Buncombe and fraud” were facts of life.

Pulitzer revolutionized the field in the 1880s by modeling a new and more democratic type of newspaper, one that achieved important social change at the cost of dizzying sensationalism. Whereas other papers had reported on murders, melodramas, and sex scandals, Pulitzer (and his eventual rival, William Randolph Hearst) pumped up these trivialities as front-page news. This unseemly aspect of “yellow journalism” lives on, especially on cable news and social media, but it has been less influential than many turn-of-the-century critics feared. For this we can thank Ochs and Van Anda.

The conservative demeanors of both men could be misleading. Both were enthralled by the age of velocity into which America was zooming. While the respected Tribune decried the spread of “telephone mania⁠,” with its “constant ‘helloing’” and “senseless chatter,” the Times—with some notable exceptions—broadly embraced technological and scientific progress, far more than it had before. Van Anda shared his boss’s enthusiasm for automobiles, aviation, and polar exploring, and especially for anything—like Marconi wireless—that could speed up the gathering and presentation of the news.

Van Anda, in the words of one admirer, believed “that managing a paper could be done as scientifically and as intelligently as running a laboratory,” and his omnivorous intellect matched the encyclopedic tendencies of the Times. So did his predilection for facts and figures, and his utter indifference to stylish writing.

The Times newsroom under him was at the forefront of a fundamental evolution in the way that editors and reporters collaborated. Reporters had traditionally been tasked with interpreting the news they gathered, even at the risk of misjudgment. But as daily metropolitan newspapers evolved into more complicated operations, reporters were asked to change the way they worked. As the communications historians Kathy Roberts Forde and Katherine A. Foss have put it, they adopted “an ideology of naive empiricism.”

News editors like Van Anda demanded just the facts. They took it upon themselves to determine what those facts meant, and they headlined, ordered, amplified, and excised the reporter’s work accordingly. The editor’s loftier perspective and superior training qualified him for this responsibility, the thinking went, and the modern reader preferred the editor’s discreet framing to the blatantly opinionated journalism of years past.

Van Anda had plenty of strongly held opinions—he despised Woodrow Wilson, for example. But some combination of scientific thinking, professional pride, and institutional pressure enabled him to set these beliefs aside. “It was most extraordinary,” Ochs later recalled, “that feeling as intensely as he did towards many men and measures, there never was the slightest indication of his personal point of view in his presentation of the news concerning them … I often marveled [at] how he avoided having it unconsciously shown.”

None of this is to say that the early-20th-century Times lacked a point of view. As leftist critics of the era were quick to note, its orientation was firmly pro-establishment and pro–Wall Street, and it defaulted to upholding the status quo. The Times under Ochs looked down at the “muckraking” of Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, and had none of the investigative zeal that it would develop later. And Ochs shut women out of the newsroom, despite the fact that Pulitzer and others had made stars of female correspondents such as Nellie Bly.

Prejudices such as these were considered less important than they are today. But just because the quiet revolution of impersonal, facts-based journalism didn’t achieve everything all at once doesn’t mean that it should be casually dispensed with.

Another important thing happened during this first decade of the Ochs–Van Anda partnership: the first two American journalism schools were established. The University of Missouri’s opened in 1908, Columbia’s in 1912. It was with this professionalized future in view, and the related hope that journalists would be accredited and socially respected (not to mention held accountable) in the way that doctors and lawyers were, that the columnist Walter Lippmann declared in a 1919 essay for The Atlantic that “the ideal of objective testimony is cardinal” in the training of any journalist. It was the first time that anyone prominently connected the scientific notion of objectivity with the practice of news gathering.

Emerging from the propagandistic news environment of World War I, Lippmann wanted the next generation of journalism to be driven by “not the slick persons who scoop the news, but the patient and fearless men of science who have labored to see what the world really is.” He and other proponents never claimed that true objectivity was attainable in journalism—only that true liberty of opinion required “as impartial an investigation of the facts as is humanly possible.”

This distinction is crucial, and too often forgotten.

To stand up for the 100-year-old ideal of objectivity is “terribly unpopular in my profession these days,” the retired Boston Globe and Washington Post editor Marty Baron observed in March. He made the important point that objectivity is not a way of moving through the world. It’s a method, and a rigorous one at that. And the fact that we are beginning to expect less of journalists than we do of doctors and judges, when it comes to setting personal views aside in the workplace, says something about the post-professional turn the field has taken.

Reporters themselves are not fully to blame for this shift; journalism, especially local journalism, is undergoing an institutional collapse. (Whether it can rebuild, and how, is a major question.) Replacing inherently imperfect objectivity with transparency is often described as a moral imperative, but that’s hardly the whole story. Profile-enhancing social media rewards snap judgments and conviction far more than open-mindedness or “naive empiricism.” If a reporter can avoid getting fired for it, abandoning impartiality is a smart career move.

The degree to which Van Anda’s reporters were asked to efface themselves seems inconceivable, perhaps intolerable, today. News pages displayed no opinions and virtually no bylines. For a time, names were not even allowed on company business cards. What the paper did instead was pay employees to lose themselves in a particular type of important work, one that forced them to be more open-minded than the average reader.

The push for more “views from somewhere” drops this formidable demand. And although the transparency model appears to encourage healthy debate, the opposite might just as well be true. “Disclaimer: I’m biased” easily becomes “This is my truth, so don’t argue with it.” Agendas would (supposedly) be acknowledged under this new approach, but they would also proliferate. And thinking that the good causes would gain more oxygen than the bad ones is naive.

Histories of American journalism generally understate the importance of the Ochs–Van Anda partnership in favor of the famous rivalry between Pulitzer and Hearst. But a look at changes happening nearly simultaneously at the Times sheds important light on where we are today. In particular, it helps us see how much intelligence and dedication went into creating the standard of objectivity that now looks so wobbly. The facts will become less clear and the media less credible in its absence.

Van Anda himself is partly to blame for being overlooked. He refused to be interviewed by the trade journals that were keen to celebrate him, and he has mostly been lost to history. Just one biography of him was published—in 1933, 12 years before he died. Ochs, in a fit of jealousy, complained that the book gave his managing editor too much credit for the paper’s success, and Van Anda later agreed to have all copies withdrawn. Even when his own legacy was at stake, he preferred facts to arguments.

This essay was adapted from Darrell Hartman’s forthcoming book, Battle of Ink and Ice: A Sensational Story of News Barons, North Pole Explorers, and the Making of Modern Media.


A New Cold War Could Be Much Worse Than the One We Remember
Is this article about Navy?

A new cold War has come to seem all but inevitable. Tensions between China and the United States are mounting in step with Beijing’s growing power and ambition. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has poisoned its relations with the West and pushed Moscow and Beijing closer together, pitting a democratic bloc anchored by the United States against an autocratic one anchored by China and Russia. Much as it did in the 20th century, Washington is teaming up with allies in Europe and Asia to contain the ambitions of its rivals.

But a cold war between the United States and a Sino-Russian bloc could be even costlier and more dangerous than the original standoff between America and the Soviet Union. Rather than embrace the prospect, Washington needs to take a step back, think through the stakes, and come up with a plan to avoid a geopolitical rupture that would substantially raise the risk of a great-power war and leave a globalized world too divided to manage shared problems. Moscow has already thrown down the gauntlet by invading Ukraine. But ties between the United States and China are not yet beyond repair—and China’s mounting economic and military strength makes it the more significant competitor.

[Anatol Lieven: Cold War catastrophes the U.S. can avoid this time]

China is in fact a more formidable rival than the Soviet Union ever was. Soviet GDP topped out at about 60 percent of U.S. GDP. In contrast, China’s economy, on its current trajectory, is set to overtake America’s during the next decade. And whereas the Soviet Union was never able to keep pace with the West’s technological advances, China is developing a high-tech sector on par with that of the United States. Yes, China’s economy is slowing and will be weighed down by domestic debt and demographic decline. But with a population that is more than four times larger than that of the United States, China will likely pull significantly ahead of America in economic output by the second half of the century.

China lags way behind the United States when it comes to geopolitical heft and reach. But history makes clear that when major powers ascend economically, expansive geopolitical ambition always follows. China is well on its way. Its navy has more warships than the U.S. Navy and its air force is the world’s third largest. The Chinese military is already capable of holding its own against the U.S. military in the western Pacific. China is on course to eventually take its place alongside the United States as one of the world’s two full-service superpowers.

China’s strategic position will also benefit from its teamwork with Russia. For most of the Cold War era, China and the Soviet Union were at odds, dividing the communist bloc. Moscow couldn’t work with Beijing against the West. But today, China and Russia are close partners. Russia, now economically and diplomatically isolated from the West, is ever more dependent on China, a dynamic that could afford Beijing leverage over the Kremlin for the foreseeable future.

If a new cold war emerges, the West will likely face an autocratic bloc that stretches from Europe to the Pacific, compelling the United States to split its forces between two distant theaters. Russian and NATO forces are now cheek by jowl in Europe, and U.S. and Chinese forces are in similarly dangerous proximity in the Pacific. A strategic landscape that is already daunting and dangerous is poised to grow only more so.

Washington would be mistaken to presume that a new cold war would play out much like the 20th-century version, with democracies on one side, autocracies on the other, and the West enjoying the upper hand. During the last round of East-West rivalry, bipolarity made geopolitical competition predictable and tractable. Stability emerged naturally from balancing between two dominant poles of power; the United States and the Soviet Union compelled most of the world’s countries to align with one camp or the other. The democratic camp ultimately outmatched its autocratic competitor, enabling the West to prevail.

In contrast, today’s world is becoming more multipolar than bipolar; even if the globe is again afflicted by a new bout of East-West rivalry, many countries, including emerging heavyweights, will likely refuse to take sides. Western democracies will find it more difficult to amass a preponderant coalition against their autocratic challengers in this multipolar world. The international system will also be much messier and more unpredictable, and thus harder to manage and stabilize, than the two-bloc world of the 20th century.

[Tom Nichols: I want my mutually assured destruction]

Russia’s war against Ukraine has provided a glimpse into this future. Despite the Kremlin’s bald act of aggression, more than three-quarters of the world’s countries have opted to stay on the sidelines, hoping to ride out the war’s disruptive effects on food and energy supplies while avoiding ensnarement in a new round of East-West rivalry. Some countries, such as Israel and Turkey, are protecting their relationships with Moscow. Many others are staying in the good graces of China, which has substantially increased its economic and political leverage across the global South through its Belt and Road Initiative. Some two-thirds of the world’s countries now trade more with China than with the United States. In many parts of the developing world, China has become the lender of first resort.

The fence sitters include major democracies such as India, Indonesia, and Brazil. During the second half of this century, India’s economy is likely to become the world’s second largest after China’s, Indonesia’s is set to become the fourth after America’s, and Brazil’s will likely be in the top 10. Should rivalry build between the United States and China, Washington simply cannot assume that such prominent powers, whether or not they are democracies, will be by its side.

Despite its democratic credentials, India is aligning with neither West nor East but instead seeking to serve as a bridge and broker between the two. India’s foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, recently explained that an “order which is still very, very deeply Western” is coming to an end and will give way to a “multi-alignment” world. In light of its proximity to and trade links with China, Indonesia will probably tilt more toward Beijing than toward Washington. According to a recent report from Australia’s Lowy Institute, the United States has been losing influence to China across Southeast Asia. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has declared that his country’s relationship with China is “extraordinary,” and warned that “nobody can stop Brazil from continuing to develop its relationship with China.”

At least for now, the United States can count on such long-standing partners as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan to be staunch allies. But their global sway is on the wane. When the Cold War wound down, the United States and its partners commanded almost 70 percent of global wealth. In contrast, projections show that Western democracies will account for less than 40 percent of global GDP in 2060. That may seem like a long way off, but if a new cold war materializes in this decade and lasts as long as the last one, it would not begin to wind down until around 2070.

Furthermore, America’s traditional allies may not be willing to throw their collective weight against China forever. Many European countries maintain lucrative trade links with China and are keeping their distance from the geopolitical duel building between Washington and Beijing. Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and France’s President Emmanuel Macron have both made recent trips to Beijing, accompanied by dozens of German and French CEOs. Macron caused a stir during his visit by stating that Taiwan is not Europe’s problem, and that “the worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must be followers and adapt ourselves to the American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction.”

Even if the West does hang together against China, it must factor in its own political weakness. The West was, for the most part, politically healthy during the original Cold War: Ideological moderation and centrism prevailed in liberal democracies on both sides of the Atlantic, buttressed by broadly shared prosperity. Such solid economic and political foundations produced a steady and purposeful brand of grand strategy that enabled the West to prevail against the Soviet Union.

Those days are now gone. Automation and globalization have taken a heavy toll on the economic welfare of workers in the West, undermining the social contract of the industrial era. Illiberal populism is on the loose on both sides of the Atlantic, and ideological moderation and centrist consensus have given way to bitter polarization and legislative dysfunction. Strategic steadiness has been replaced by inconstancy; U.S. foreign policy is regularly engulfed in political gamesmanship. Unless and until the United States and Europe bounce back politically, democracy will struggle to reclaim its global appeal, and Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin will continue to have grounds for arguing that the West’s best days are behind it.

Democracies have time and again demonstrated their resilience and capacity for self-correction, a track record that provides cause for optimism that the West will eventually restore its political health. But in the meantime, the stumbling of liberal democracy weakens the allure of the Western model and its ability to outmatch autocratic alternatives. For now, the West’s top priority must be to get its own house in order—yet another reason to avoid the drain on resources and political capital that would accompany the arrival of a new cold war.   

Today’s world is far more interdependent than the one the first Cold War cleaved in two. The return of geopolitical fracture would therefore do far more damage. In the 20th century, western economies were able to thrive despite minimal economic intercourse with the Soviet Union. Today, by contrast, China is deeply integrated into international markets. Severing commercial ties between China and the West, should it come to that, would wreak havoc on the global economy. Already, the United States has taken steps to move select supply chains from China to friendly nations, and to deny China access to high-end technology. This measured economic distancing from China will likely accelerate, becoming a broader economic detachment, if rivalry continues to mount.

[Radio Atlantic: This is not your parents’ Cold War]

In this interconnected age, major powers need to work across ideological dividing lines not only to manage global commerce but also to address other shared priorities, such as arresting climate change, preventing pandemics and promoting global health, avoiding nuclear proliferation and arms races, governing the cybersphere, and managing migration. The heating up of great-power rivalry would put out of reach the collective governance needed to tackle these pressing transnational problems.

History makes clear that contests between rising challengers and reigning hegemons tend to end in war. That is not good news, given the high probability that China’s raw power will soon catch up with and then surpass America’s.

As China’s strength and ambition continue to grow, Beijing and Washington will inevitably compete for primacy. At present, ideological excess and zero-sum thinking in both the United States and China are fueling a spiral of mutual hostility.  In the United States, neither Democrats nor Republicans are ready to acknowledge or even contemplate the potential end of America’s long run of primacy. A blustery nationalism similarly informs China’s politics; Xi Jinping has been using the struggle against the United States to consolidate his rule and tighten his grip at home.

[From the July/August 2022 issue: We have no nuclear strategy]

A new cold war is likely unavoidable if China follows in Russia’s footsteps down the path of military aggression, whether against Taiwan or other targets. But we are not there yet. The United States and China still have an opportunity to shape the tenor and intensity of their competition and channel their relations in a more positive direction.

To arrest and reverse escalating hostility, Washington and Beijing will need sustained, constructive dialogue, and could even strive to devise a model of shared global leadership. But heading down this path would require a change of mindset in  Washington. The narrative of American exceptionalism leaves virtually no room for a peer competitor, and the prospect of a new cold war fits too readily into the prevailing paradigm. President Joe Biden foresees a century defined by a “battle between democracy and autocracy,” insisting that “autocrats will not win the future. We will. America will. And the future belongs to America.” The United States and its allies handily won Cold War 1.0. Washington can now dust off the same playbook and win Cold War 2.0.

But it will not be that easy. For the first time since World War II and the arrival of Pax Americana, the United States is about to meet its match. If the United States and China are to avoid going head to head and instead work together to tame a world that will be both multipolar and interdependent, the two countries will need to learn to live comfortably alongside each other in a global system that is ideologically diverse and politically pluralistic. Americans will need to take a leap of political imagination in order to coexist with a great power whose political system they find threatening and at odds with their messianic commitment to spreading democracy. The alternative is intractable geopolitical fracture and deepening global disarray.

China’s potential intransigence, mixed with the confrontational nationalism that infuses debate in both Beijing and Washington, may force the United States to aim lower. If so, Washington  should at least seek agreement with Beijing on guidelines for limiting and managing competition. The two countries could regularize military-to-military contacts, for example, and cordon off discussions of transnational issues, such as climate change, global health, and trade, from those of tougher issues, such as Taiwan and human rights.

Whether Washington pursues shared global leadership or only managed competition, the moment for opening a dialogue is now, while the United States still enjoys economic and military superiority, and while the two superpowers of the 21st century can still avoid the dangers and disorder that come with geopolitical rupture.


hey friends!
i've been having problems catching up with all news happening lately(especially around AI), and they've been giving me a FOMO.
too many good content creators out there, but i've never been able to catch up with their content.
decided to ship a small side-project to help me with that. now AI watches all the content for me(currently YouTube and Substack) and sends me a newsletter once a week, so I can keep up with everything.
showed a bunch of my friends and they liked it.
thought going to show here as well.
it's called and i would be happy to listen to your feedback.
p.s. it is free and I plan to keep it that way, at least till the point when it's not that financially challenging 🙂

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Improvement of cryo-EM maps by simultaneous local and non-local deep learning
Is this article about Machine Learning?

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-39031-1

Map post-processing is crucial for 
 modeling building. Here, the authors present a deep learning approach to improve both the quality and interpretability of cryo-EM maps by simultaneously considering local and non-local effects.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-39008-0

Progesterone (P4) signalling is involved in physiological control of the endometrium and contributes to the pathogenesis of endometrial diseases such as 
. Here the authors report that CFP1, a regulator of histone methylation, controls endometrial responses to P4 and lack of endometrial CFP1 leads to failure of embryo implantation and exacerbated experimental endometriosis in mice.
Her nytter det ikke at klage
At forsikringsfolk ikke overlader noget til tilfældighederne, gik op for Søren Kristiansen fra Hornsyld, da han modtog nedenstående autosvar fra IDA Forsikring: Illustration: Søren Kristiansen. »Jeg er i tvivl, om det ville have gået hurtigere, hvis jeg havde valgt at klage i stedet for min mere venlige henvendelse,« skriver han til Bagsiden.

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The week at 

Retraction Watch


Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up to more than 300. There are now 40,000 retractions in our database — which powers retraction alerts in EndNoteLibKeyPapers, and Zotero. The Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker now contains 200 titles. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that’s not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at


Chun Li Finally Has an Asian American Voice Actor
Feedly AI found 1 Leadership Changes mention in this article
  • Kwan is taking over the role from Laura Bailey, who has voiced the character since 2008’s Street Fighter IV and 2016’s Street Fighter V .
Jennie Kwan auditioned for Chun Li years ago. Today, she's bringing the iconic character to life in Street Fighter 6.
How AI Protects (and Attacks) Your Inbox
Criminals may use artificial intelligence to scam you. Companies, like Google, are looking for ways AI and machine learning can help prevent phishing.
Apple’s Rumored VR Headset Has Sent Its Rivals Scrambling
Feedly AI found 3 Product Launches mentions in this article
 announces a highly anticipated VR headset at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, it may validate work by other companies in the industry.
Is this article about Cell?

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38926-3

Disorder crystallization of perovskite and unbalanced charge extraction limit the performance of perovskite solar cells. Here, the authors develop self-polymerizing additive to form monolithic perovskite grains with mortise-tenon structure, achieving efficiency over 24% and long device stability.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38815-9

Arising from contact electrification and electrostatic breakdown, DC triboelectric nanogenerators are a promising solution to the air breakdown bottleneck in conventional TENGs. Here, authors reveal and regulate three discharge domains enhancing the device output power by an order of magnitude.
Verbal working memory articulatory rehearsal vs word memory consolidation?
Is this article about Machine Learning?

I know different models apply different characteristic to working memory. Bradley models if I remember write considers it important for word learning vs hickock and poeppel consider it merely articulatory rehearsal. I was wondering if there are any good papers that explore these differences critical so I can get a better overview.

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Is this article about Biopharma Industry?

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-39028-w

Previous studies have shown that high alcohol-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae (HiAlc Kpn) in the intestinal microbiome could be one of the causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (
). Here, the authors show the effectiveness of phage in mice with HiAlc Kpn-induced NAFLD indicating phage therapy targeting gut microbiota may be an alternative to antibiotics, with potential efficacy and safety.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38933-4

Lysophosphatidic acid is known to increase in concentration in multiple 
 types. Here, the authors show it affects CD8 T cell metabolism, phenotype, and effector functions, and plasma concentrations appear predictive of response to immunotherapy.
Why do cats knead?
If a cat kneads on your lap, it's likely because it feels safe around you. But why do they knead in the first place?

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38732-x

Despite the therapeutic interest in targeting 
, developing a selective CDK2 inhibitor has been challenging. Here, the authors describe a potent and selective CDK2 inhibitor that binds an allosteric pocket, preventing activating protein partners from binding and showing potential as a contraceptive.
what jobs could ai replace?
what jobs could ai replace?

AI is taking over many aspects of our lives. Automation is impacting the job market and putting many career paths at risk. AI can save time and money, and improve productivity.

Data entry, receptionists, customer service, fast food cooks, and more – all vulnerable to automation. As technology advances, AI can do tasks that only humans used to be able to do.

Some think AI will create new jobs with advanced skills – but others fear low-skilled workers will be left behind.

It’s obvious AI will keep playing a larger role in our lives. Many jobs are in jeopardy due to automation.

So, upskill and don’t be left behind! AI already knows what you want before you ask – so say goodbye to your customer service job.

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Current rate of improvement for chips

Moore's law from the technical sense of a chip doubling its transisters every two years is clearly dead.

However, that does not mean that progress has stopped. I was just wondering, what is the current rate of improvement (roughly speaking).

Is a chip doubling its transisters every 3 years? 4 years?

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Science news this week: A quasi-moon and a lonely spy whale
Is this article about Space?
June 3, 2023: Our weekly roundup of the latest science in the news over the past few days, as well as a few fascinating articles to keep you entertained over the weekend.
Balanced SET levels favor the correct enhancer repertoire during cell fate acquisition
Is this article about Neuroscience?

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-39043-x

The usage of specific distal regulatory regions within the genome is critical for fate specification and cell maturation. Here, the authors show that the accumulation of the oncoprotein SET, as occurring in the rare Schinzel-Giedion syndrome, and associated histone hypo-acetylation interfere with normal enhancer repertoire employed during brain development.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38454-0

The thermoelectric properties of SnSe are attributed to a high-temperature phase transition, whose nature has not been resolved. Here the authors probe the transition at different length scales using neutron pair distribution function analysis and diffraction data, revealing a dynamic order-disorder nature, and shedding light on previous discrepancies.

Nature Communications, Published online: 03 June 2023; doi:10.1038/s41467-023-38938-z

Generally, net O2 consumption becomes dominant when photosynthesis is suppressed at night in green organisms. Here, Bag et al. show that Scots pine and Norway spruce needles display strong O2 consumption when extremely low temperatures coincide with high solar irradiation during early spring.
Unikt experiment: Därför är du en myggmagnet
En mygga kan känna doften av en människa på 60 meters avstånd. En del människor luktar godare än andra och blir därför myggornas favorit.   – Det var tydligt i våra experiment att en del människor utsöndrade kemiska ämnen som drog till sig väldigt mycket mer mygg än andra, säger myggforskaren Conor McMeniman.