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.

Who Can Bend Light for Cheaper Internet? (Maria)

The author writes, “Wide Area Networks (WANs), the global backbones and workhorses of today’s internet that connect billions of computers over continents and oceans, are the foundation of modern online services. Covid-19 has increased reliance on online services, and networks are struggling to deliver bandwidth and service. Tears in optical fibers that transmit WAN data using light cause severe and extensive damage. Scientists from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Facebook recently came up with a way to preserve networks when fibers are down, and also reduce the cost.”

A Surge of Citizen Activism Amps Up the Fight Against Gerrymandering (Dan)

The author writes, “On a recent Tuesday night, Khyla D. Craine, chair of Delta Sigma Theta’s redistricting committee, led more than 1,000 of her fellow sorority alumnae through how to get involved in one of the most opaque yet contentious touchstones of U.S. democracy. Legislators were hearing public testimony about where electoral boundaries should be drawn, said Craine, who is also the Michigan Department of State’s deputy legal director. In the fall, map drawers would draft maps using the 2020 census data, which was released on Aug. 12. Anyone — including DST alumnae — could submit comments or alternative maps, which officials in many states had a constitutional obligation to review. The key was to be able to explain exactly how and why district lines should look different.”

‘A Complete Shock’: The Rightwing Contrarian Leading the California Recall Race (Russ)

The author writes, “Larry Elder is a confounding frontrunner in the Republican race to replace Gavin Newsom as California governor. The outspoken libertarian radio talkshow host entered the recall campaign just days before the filing deadline. He has zoomed to the top of a long list of candidates running against the state’s Democratic governor — perhaps both despite and because of his divisive, contrarian politics. Elder opposes the minimum wage and gun control. He’s said he doesn’t believe that a gender wage gap exists, and has called the climate crisis a ‘crock.’ He has suggested that fatherless families drive up crime rates in Black communities. In three decades on air, Elder has made a name disseminating controversy.”

Judge Orders Ohio Hospital to Treat COVID-19 Patient With Ivermectin, Despite CDC Warnings (DonkeyHotey)

From the Ohio Capital Journal: “A Butler County judge ruled in favor of a woman last week who sought to force a hospital to administer Ivermectin — an animal dewormer that federal regulators have warned against using in COVID-19 patients — to her husband after several weeks in the ICU with the disease. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Gregory Howard ordered West Chester Hospital, part of the University of Cincinnati network, to treat Jeffrey Smith, 51, with Ivermectin. The order, filed Aug. 23, compels the hospital to provide Smith with 30mg of Ivermectin daily for three weeks. The drug was originally developed to deworm livestock animals before doctors began using it against parasitic diseases among humans.”

The Kids Are All Right; It’s the Adults Who Have Gone Bonkers Over the Pandemic (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time with kids, mostly the high school and heading-off-to-college variety, and sometimes the contentious subject of wearing masks comes up. To a person they have shrugged. It’s no big deal, they say. You wear them inside, you take them off outside, done. ‘I’m fine with them, Dad, I’m used to it,’ my son dismissed me when I said I was sorry he had to wear masks at college, even though everyone there also has to be vaccinated. I got the sense he’d happily strap himself into an iron lung at this point if that’s what it took to finally get out of the house. Some of you parents, on the other hand, are completely losing your minds over the issue.”

Evolution Deniers Are Finally a Minority in the US (Mili)

From Gizmodo: “Americans continue to have a challenging relationship with science, modern medicine, and at times reality, but a review of annual surveys from 1985 to 2019 does yield some good news: Over half of surveyed participants believed in the science of evolution. … Over the decades, more and more Americans have accepted evolution by natural selection as a driving force of life on Earth. For a long time, though, the split was pretty much half-and-half, but a new study from the University of Michigan has found that the deniers are finally in the minority.” 

UK Soccer Fans Can Now Eat Their Coffee Cups (Dana)

From Fast Company: “Starting … with [Manchester City’s] first home game, and throughout the season, Etihad Stadium will be serving hot drinks in edible coffee cups. The receptacles are made of wafer and keep their form when containing coffee, tea, or hot chocolate — and, crucially, don’t end up in the trash. The club announced the trial of the edible cups as part of a range of new concession-stand offerings for the upcoming season, many of which address environmental sustainability.”

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