climate change, shifting baseline, NOAA, average temperatures
The author writes, “Scientists this year will update how they calculate average temperatures, altering our reference point of a normal climate. ... This spring, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will update its calculation of average temperatures and precipitation.” Photo credit: Yassine Abbadi / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mob Attack on US Capitol Dominates Overseas News, Unnerves World ; Big Pharma Is Fooling Us ; and More Picks 1/7

Mob Attack on US Capitol Dominates Overseas News, Unnerves World (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “News organizations around the globe on Wednesday presented the U.S. as a child throwing a terrifying temper tantrum in their reports on the violent U.S. Capitol assault by supporters of President Donald Trump. ‘The mayhem is unlike any in living memory,’ states the typically staid British magazine the Economist.”

Making Sense of the Facebook Menace (Dana)

From the New Republic: “Despite all the noise and pressure from potential regulators, Facebook made only cosmetic changes to its practices and policies that have fostered anti-democratic — often violent — movements for years. Facebook blocked new campaign ads in the week before November 3, but because many states opted for early mail-in voting as they contended with a new spike of Covid-19 infections, the ban kicked in many weeks after Americans had started voting. Facebook executives expanded the company’s staff to vet troublesome posts, but failed to enforce its own policies when Trump and other conservative interests were at stake.”

Big Pharma Is Fooling Us (Dan)

The author writes, “It’s about as near as science gets to a miracle: A coronavirus vaccine has arrived — and the main reason is that mRNA vaccines, a previously untested technology, appears to work better than almost anyone had hoped. … If these new vaccines perform as well in the wild as they have in clinical trials, the world will remember it as a victory perhaps greater than Salk and Sabin against polio. If this new type of vaccine also goes on to work against other viruses, it will mark an epochal advance in vaccinology, closer to the discoveries of Pasteur and Jenner. But a strange thing has happened in our celebration of this scientific triumph. While we remember those historic advances as the work of individual scientists or laboratories, the vaccines against Covid-19 are being written instead as a victory for pharmaceutical companies.”

Doctor Erases Cancer Patients’ Medical Debt Totaling $650,000 (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Around 200 people are starting 2021 off without any medical debt thanks to the kindness of an oncology doctor who erased $650,000 of his patients’ debt. Dr. Omar Atiq, a medical oncologist for nearly 40 years, closed his cancer clinic in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in March after nearly three decades in business. He worked with a billing company for several months after closing to try to collect payments from his former patients, but soon made a decision to stop reaching out.”

Intelligent Cameras That Can Learn and Understand What They’re Seeing (Peg)

From SciTechDaily: Intelligent cameras could be one step closer thanks to a research collaboration between the Universities of Bristol and Manchester who have developed cameras that can learn and understand what they are seeing. Roboticists and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers know there is a problem in how current systems sense and process the world. … AI systems perceive the world only after recording and transmitting visual information between sensors and processors. But many things that can be seen are often irrelevant for the task at hand … A different approach is necessary to enable efficient vision for intelligent machines. Two papers from the Bristol and Manchester collaboration have shown how sensing and learning can be combined to create novel cameras for AI systems.”

Fowl Play: Turkeys at Home in Albany (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Packs of wild turkeys roam the streets of Albany daily, often clogging traffic in the busy intersection of Marin and San Pablo avenues during the evening commute. They’re also known to hang out at McDonald’s or Starbucks, like many of the small city’s human residents.”


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