What are we reading? December 19, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

IBM is claiming to have made a significant breakthrough in new battery materials – derived from seawater. IBM claims that its new battery technology uses no heavy metals, which pose “tremendous environmental and humanitarian risks” in mining them. IBM says three proprietary materials are derived from seawater. The company claims: “In initial tests, it proved it can be optimized to surpass the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in a number of individual categories including lower costs, faster charging time, higher power and energy density, strong energy efficiency and low flammability.” – IBM Research Blog



One year ago, UBC marine mammal scientist Andrew Trites told Business in Vancouver that he thought a decline in chinook salmon, and subsequent decline in the Southern Resident Killer Whale population, might have more to do with Northern Resident Killer Whales than fishing, which would suggest that new marine conservation areas might not fix the fundamental problem. A new study by University of Washington scientists seems to confirm Trites’ suspicion that northern orcas are thriving at the expense of their southern cousins. Orcas are thriving -- they’re just not thriving in the southern ranges. – PNAS



It may not be the hypersleep of science fiction yet, but physicians in the U.S. have succeeded in putting patients into a brief state of suspended animation, called hypothermic preservation, for the first time. Putting patients into a near frozen state would allow physicians to do life-saving surgery on patients who otherwise would suffer brain damage. – Science Focus




Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor: 

An Angus Reid poll suggests Canadian public opinion is hardening against a bid by China’s Huawei Technologies to bring its 5G mobile network to Canada. The survey found 69% of respondents think the federal government should reject Huawei’s plan. - Canada.com



Canadians have forked over almost $800 million this year to Netflix, according to figures released this week by the U.S. streaming supergiant. That number is likely to hand ammunition to critics who charge that Netflix isn’t paying a reasonable share of domestic taxes, and that it is unfairly swamping Canadian media with U.S. programming. - CBC



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Are Canadians getting enough fibre – the internet variety, that is. Picodi.com recently released a report comparing 100 Mbps [megabits per second] prices in 62 countries. Canada is No. 5 with a bullet.



Breaking up might still be hard to do, but the U.S. Census Bureau has gathered some numbers that shed a brighter light on divorce outcomes



Glen Korstrom, reporter:

When I met Pleasant DeSpain in Chiang Mai, Thailand earlier this month he described himself to me as a storyteller. We had several chats, as the American ex-patriot has an annual membership to swim in the pool at the hotel where I was staying. 

While Pleasant has at least 18 books to his name, the 76-year-old told me that he thought his current book is his best ever. He gave me a copy and I finished it cover to cover in less than a week.

Vagabond Tales is a mix of autobiography, a book of parables and a book about spirituality.

His openness about his rough relationship with his father, his coming out as a gay man in the 1970s and his struggles to make ends meat as a storyteller who held public hearings is when the book is at its best.

Chapters are structured around themes such as Karma, Nature, Work, Courage and Soul, and he structures his recollections and parables around those themes.

Highly recommend.

His website has details on ways to buy the e-book or paperback –