PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

Insect Wingbeats Will Help Quantify Biodiversity, Researchers Say (Maria)

The author writes, “Insect populations are plummeting worldwide, with major consequences for our ecosystems and without us quite knowing why. A new AI method from the University of Copenhagen is set to help monitor and catalog insect biodiversity, which until now has been quite challenging. … University of Copenhagen researchers have developed a method that uses the data obtained from an infrared sensor to recognize and detect the wingbeats of individual insects.”

The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo (Sean)

The author writes, “Close to 3 percent of U.S. adults take immunosuppressive drugs, either to treat cancers or autoimmune disorders or to stop their body from rejecting transplanted organs or stem cells. That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people — a number that’s already larger than the populations of 36 states, without even including the millions more who have diseases that also hamper immunity, such as AIDS and at least 450 genetic disorders. In the past, immunocompromised people lived with their higher risk of infection, but COVID represents a new threat that, for many, has further jeopardized their ability to be part of the world.” 

Indigenous Nations Sue North Dakota Over ‘Sickening’ Gerrymandering (Dan)

The author writes, “Days before a new legislative map for North Dakota was set to be introduced in the state house, leaders of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and Spirit Lake Nation sent a letter to the governor and other state lawmakers urging them to rethink the proposal. ‘All citizens deserve to have their voices heard and to be treated fairly and equally under the law,’ they wrote, arguing that the proposed map was illegal, diluting the strength of their communities’ voice. But instead, in early November, the Republican-controlled legislature approved the map, with only minor changes. And the Republican governor, Doug Burgum, quickly signed it.”

The Upside of Inflation? It Reduces America’s Enormous Wealth Gap (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “Anxiety about inflation, among citizens and politicians alike, has been peaking recently. In the United States, the year-on-year increase in consumer prices reached 7.5% in January, the highest rate since February 1982. If people’s incomes increase by less than the rate of inflation, their real incomes decline, and they cannot afford to buy as much stuff as before. This is the “income effect” of inflation. But there is an upside to inflation. In recent decades, in fact, inflation has been a great boon to middle-class U.S. households’ balance sheets, and has helped to mitigate the increase in overall wealth inequality.”

Free After 25 Years: How a Racist Law Sent a Man to Jail (Mili)

The author writes, ”Brandon [Jackson] was convicted by a non-unanimous jury in 1997 of an armed robbery of a restaurant in Bossier City, Louisiana. He denied any involvement. At his trial, two of the 12 jurors were Black and they voted not guilty, but their objections did not matter. Louisiana was holding on to a law passed in 1898 during the Jim Crow era that allowed for split juries. The law was designed to mute the voices of Black jurors and convict more Black defendants so they could be eligible as labor for convict leasing programs.”

US Environmental Sacrifice Zones (Laura)

From Environmental Health News: “Ghost towns, submerged land, and polluted paradises dot the American landscape. Here are some of the most infamous, heartbreaking sites.”

Meet the Security Guards Moonlighting as Curators at the Baltimore Museum of Art (Dana)

The author writes, “Everyone I tell about this story immediately smiles — it’s such a great idea. Last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art invited their guards to curate an exhibition. And since then, BMA security officers have been working on it with professional curators and other staffers, leading up to its March 27 opening. Working with various museum departments, they learned what it takes to put up an exhibition — and got paid for it, too, in addition to their regular salaries. And they had a terrific time, at least according to the ones I spoke with. One of them, in fact, burst into song!”