What are we reading? February 13, 2020


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


Kirk LaPointe, publisher and editor-in-chief:

Yuval Noah Harari is one of the world’s most influential large-picture public intellectuals. His book, Sapiens, sold more than 12 million copies. He has made himself a hard act to follow, but he has a plan. The New Yorker



An essay on the challenges of journalism is difficult for a journalist to read, but perhaps the non-journalists reading this can read that, because Nicholas Lehmann is one of the most adroit observers of the craft around. Here, he reviews a pile of books to review a pile of trouble. – The New York Review of Books



Even the Democrats concede Donald Trump has a much better social media machinery in the battle for the presidency, but this look into the disinformation apparatus is quite mind-boggling. – The Atlantic



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Will upwardly spiralling global anxiety sparked by the coronavirus COVID-19 disease drive more initiatives to work from home? – Seeking Alpha



Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier busy spawning 300-square-mile Malta-sized icebergs and other "piglets" as climate change messes with South Ocean thermostats. Interesting visuals courtesy of the European Space Agency. – ESA 



Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

After Chinatown seniors led successful opposition to a controversial condo project, a new generation of community organizers began taking up the challenge of protecting the historic neighbourhood. – CBC



Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes on how former National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman is the latest to join the club of people targeted for abuse by the U.S. president for the crime of telling the truth:

“It is all part of a civil-liberties violation so profound that we don’t even have a name for it: the power of the president to suddenly point his finger at a random person and announce that this is the point in the story when that person’s life gets ruined.” – Atlantic



Tyler Orton, reporter:

The Coronavirus Outbreak Could Derail Xi Jinping’s Dreams of a Chinese Century. – Time https://time.com/5778994/coronavirus-china-country-future/ 

What’s the deal with airplane food? From multi-course menus in the Golden Age of flying to the pre-packaged buns that landed on our trays today, the aviation industry has transformed how and what we eat on long flights – and companies are also quite wary of revealing too many of its secrets about the food we eat. – VOX


Hayley Woodin, reporter:

The intelligence coup of the century: the story behind Crypto AG, a dominant maker of encryption devices that were secretly rigged by the CIA. – The Washington Post


More people are choosing to represent themselves in court, foregoing legal representation for any number of reasons, but often because legal costs can be prohibitive. The National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) advocates on behalf of self-represented litigants. They also conduct research, and their latest report highlights an important trend: that self-reps may be unintentionally labelled as “vexatious” litigants when really, they are struggling to understand and navigate court processes. It’s a concern, because that label can in some cases restrict a person’s court access. – NSRLP



Glen Korstrom, reporter:

There's much ado about how e-commerce is hurting bricks-and-mortar retail. This piece expands the scope of the problem, as there is also more big-box store shopping, income inequality and a trend toward buying services over hard goods – New York Times



With the above challenges for bricks-and-mortar retail, some are fighting back with drink service, as this piece, headlined Shopping Under The Influence makes clear. Yes, that's Chardonnay in the shoe department – Washington Post