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.

Top US General ‘Shocked’ by Report on AWOL Guns, Mulls Fix (Maria)

The authors write, “Shocked by an Associated Press investigation into the loss and theft of military guns, the Pentagon’s top general signaled Thursday that he will consider a ‘systematic fix’ for how the armed services keep account of their firearms. The AP’s investigation reported that some of the missing guns have been stolen and used in violent street crimes, while many others have vanished without a clue. … The AP identified at least 1,900 guns that the four armed services recorded as lost or stolen during the 2010s. Most came from the Army. Because some service branches provided incomplete data — or none at all — that total is a certain undercount.”

Even Vaccinated People Are Nervous About Going Back to ‘Normal.’ Here’s How to Cope (Nick)

From Time: “In a March 2021 American Psychological Association poll, about half of respondents said they were ‘uneasy’ about resuming in-person social interactions, regardless of vaccination status. And in a May 25 Axios/Ipsos poll, about half of vaccinated respondents said they still wear a mask at all times outside the house, even after the CDC’s announcement that doing so is no longer necessary.”

White Boys Who Grew Up With Black Neighbors Are More Likely to Become Democrats, Study Finds (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Scientists studying U.S. census rolls from the 1940s have discovered a surprising pattern: White men who grew up one door down from a Black neighbor were more likely to register as Democrats 70 years later — even when compared to other whites from the same neighborhood. The findings, described in the journal Science Advances, suggest that young boys exposed to people of different backgrounds may grow up to be more liberal-minded adults.”

Central American Women Are Fleeing Domestic Violence Amid a Pandemic. Few Find Refuge in US. (Dan)

The author writes, “María de Jesús packed her bags and fled Guatemala City with her 11-year-old son on a cold night weeks later. She paid a smuggler and trekked north to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she hoped the Biden administration, promising a more humanitarian approach toward immigrants, would welcome a domestic violence survivor like herself into the country. … She is among scores of Central American women who — after fleeing brutal violence from boyfriends, spouses and others in one of the world’s most dangerous regions for women — have recently arrived at the southern U.S. border only to encounter an uphill battle to be let in.”

‘Vegan Spider Silk’ Offers Green Alternative to Single-Use Plastics (Mili)

The author writes, “Researchers have created a plant-based, sustainable, scalable material that could replace single-use plastics in many consumer products. The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, created a polymer film by mimicking the properties of spider silk, one of the strongest materials in nature. The new material is as strong as many common plastics in use today and could replace plastic in many common household products. The material was created using a new approach for assembling plant proteins into materials that mimic silk on a molecular level. The energy-efficient method, which uses sustainable ingredients, results in a plastic-like free-standing film, which can be made at industrial scale. Non-fading ‘structural’ colour can be added to the polymer, and it can also be used to make water-resistant coatings.”

A Real Turn-Off: Are Celebrities Ruining Podcasting? (Sean)

The author writes, “The celebrity series has been a growth area for some time, but the last 12 months have brought a surge in projects from famouses who have found themselves at a loose end over lockdown. While much of the entertainment industry has been devastated by the pandemic, podcasting has proved largely virus-proof, making it an attractive proposition to those who, a year earlier, might not have given it a second look. As a result, the celebrity podcast has become the bindweed of the audio industry, hoovering up budgets, threatening to smother the competition and, in some cases, heralding a dispiriting drop in quality.”

Sex, Deceit, and Scandal: The Ugly War Over Bob Ross’ Ghost (Dana)

From the Daily Beast: “Bob Ross is everywhere these days: bobbleheads, Chia Pets, waffle makers, underwear emblazoned with his shining face, even energy drinks ‘packed with the joy and positivity of Bob Ross!’ Whatever merchandising opportunity is out there, kitsch or otherwise, it’s a safe bet his brand-management company is on it — despite his having shuffled off the mortal coil more than 25 years ago. … He was also recently in federal court. Or, to be more precise, his eponymous company Bob Ross, Inc., was. Now run by the daughter of Bob’s original business partners — Annette and Walt Kowalski — Bob Ross, Inc., was defending itself against claims that it had made millions of dollars by illegally licensing Bob’s image over the last decade, expanding far beyond the company’s original core business of selling Bob Ross-themed paints and paint supplies. The broad contours of the case revolved around the nuances of intellectual property law and were nothing new in the world of legal bickering over celebrity estates. The details, on the other hand, resided in the land of the unbelievable — incorporating deathbed marriages, last-minute estate changes, CIA-style tape recordings, and even a real-life former CIA agent.”

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