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.

Roasting Coffee Using the Rays of the Sun (Maria)

The author writes, “Combining two of Italy’s delights — coffee and sunshine — a couple of engineers in Rome have created an environmentally friendly way to roast coffee beans without electricity or gas. Antonio Durbe and Daniele Tummei have spent almost six years building and perfecting their sunlight coffee roaster. The result is a system that needs a piece of land about the size of half a tennis court and sunny weather to roast up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of coffee an hour. …Naturally, the system does depend on good weather.”

How a ‘Good Governance’ Movement Defeated Far-Right Forces in Their Town (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “On the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, Clallam County has the distinction of being America’s bellwether: It has picked the winner of every presidential election since 1980. While elections for local offices there may not have the same predictive power, their outcomes may be a barometer of the political climate. This year, races for typically nonpartisan seats in Clallam County, Washington, became a high-stakes battle over the spread of far-right ideas into local politics. On Nov. 2, a backlash against extremist forces saw a decisive win: Voters overwhelmingly rejected a slate of contenders aligned with conservative populist views such as resisting public health requirements and QAnon apologism. Residents voted instead for the candidates who had organized to defeat them.”

Pfizer’s New Pill to Prevent COVID-19 Is Not the Same as Ivermectin (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “After news broke that Pfizer had reached a new phase of testing on its antiviral drug to prevent COVID-19, social media posts began circulating suggesting that it was nothing more than ivermectin repackaged. Ivermectin, an inexpensive drug used to kill parasites, has been falsely touted as a treatment for COVID-19. … Social media users have coined the term ‘Pfizermectin’ in their posts claiming that ivermectin and Pfizer’s new oral antiviral, PF-07321332, are the same drug. According to Pfizer, the drug is being tested in combination with the HIV drug ritonavir in a study on 2,660 people. There is no relationship at all between the two drugs, said Dr. William A Petri.”

Afghanistan’s Girls Learn, Code ‘Underground’ Amid Taliban Curbs (Mili)

From Al Jazeera: “Cooped up at home in Afghanistan’s Herat city, Zainab Muhammadi reminisces about hanging out with her friends in the cafeteria after coding class. Now she logs on every day to secret online lessons. Her school shut down after the Taliban took control of the country in August. But that did not stop Muhammadi from learning. … She is one of an estimated hundreds of Afghan girls and women who are continuing to learn — some online and others in hidden makeshift classrooms — despite the Taliban’s closure of their schools.”

Hawaii Has a One-Year Deadline to Ditch Coal. Can It Keep the Lights On? (Laura)

From Canary Media: “Thirty years later [after opening], [the] AES coal plant remains the largest source of power managed by Hawaiian Electric, the investor-owned utility that supplies most of the state. But not for long. … As concern about climate change mounted, public sentiment shifted against the ​’coal pile in paradise,’ said Jeff Mikulina, who recently retired from leading Blue Planet Foundation, a Hawaiian nonprofit that advocates for clean energy. After years of urging by Blue Planet and others, the state legislature passed a law last year specifically to block new utility contracts for coal power. The law means that the AES plant must cease operations when its contract expires on September 1, 2022.”

Woman Billed $700 After Sitting in ER Waiting Room for 7 Hours, Leaving Without Treatment (Russ)

The author writes, “A woman said she was billed for a trip to the emergency room, even though she didn’t receive any treatment. Taylor Davis said she went to the Emory Decatur Hospital ER in July for a head injury. She sat in the waiting room for hours, but with no end in sight, she decided to leave. ‘I sat there for seven hours. There’s no way I should be sitting in an emergency room… an emergency room for seven hours,’ she said.” 

I’m a Full-Time Living Statue. This Is How Much I Earn When I Dress as a Woman, I Always Seem to Earn Less. (Dan)

The author writes, “Living statues move a lot more than you’d think. If I have an itch, I itch it but try to make it part of my performance. If my leg is dying, I move in a way that will make people look at me. I don’t want people to actually think I’m a statue because people don’t pay statues. Simply not moving will make you a little bit of money because people think it’s cool. But the real money is made through miming, juggling and clowning about. I don’t stand still for four hours, I stand up for four hours.”