What are we reading? September 23, 2021

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

Guido Mieth/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

Mark Sumner’s piece on Joe Biden’s speech to the UN was a reminder that after four years of body blows to its international standing inflicted by the last guy, the U.S. is still capable of at least paying lip service to ideals a few steps above naked greed, racism and diplomacy-by-extortion.

“Whether the speech was enough to reassure foreign leaders and the populations of allied nations, who saw how quickly the United States could go from reasonable ally under President Obama to delusional xenophobe under Donald Trump, is still to be seen.” – Daily Kos



David Sovka’s three-part series on viruses, vaccines and weird conspiracy theories is choke-on-your-latte funny but the jokes are grounded in factual bedrock and make deadly serious points. (Full disclosure: the writer has been my friend since I was eight years old.) – Times Colonist





Nelson Bennett, reporter

As international groups from the World Wildlife Fund to the United Nations have pointed out, the best source of human protein for a growing population, with the lowest environmental impacts, is seafood. But with wild capture fisheries already fished to maximum sustainable capacity, the world is going to need a lot more farmed fish. This piece in Wired explores the options, including land-based fish farming, and as well as open-ocean fish farming. Worth noting is that land-based fish farms have a significant carbon footprint, compared to open-net fish farming. -- Wired



Whether it’s a smartphone, a vape or an e-reader, many electronic devices today can be charged using the same universal charging cable – unless it’s an Apple device, which requires a special lighting charging cable.  The European Union wants Apple to stop being so precious and adopt the same USB charging ports and cables that most other device makers use. It has introduced legislation that would require all smartphone makers to use a universal charging method – a move aimed at reducing waste. Apple is not happy with the proposal.



Glen Korstrom, reporter

“COVID-19 can derail our travel plans, but it cannot stop our travel dreams” is the message travel guru Rick Steves is peddling nowadays. He discusses his evolving business, and the 24,000 people who had booked guided tours with his organization before the pandemic hit. All had money refunded. He also discusses the value of his home base in Metro Seattle as a way to stay grounded, given his extensive travelling each year – New Yorker



Mike McDonald’s Rosedeer blog usually provides a well-researched sense of what’s happening politically. 

His post last week examined the strategy Justin Trudeau could use for victory, with reference to other strategies the Liberal Party has used since the mid-1960s – from Pierre Trudeau’s fortress Quebec, where he won 99% of the seats in 1980, to Jean Chretien relying as heavily on Ontario – winning 101 of 103 seats in 1997. 

In the end, Justin Trudeau continued with his more broad-based approach, and has representation in all provinces. – Rosedeer blog



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Space: the final frontier. Most recently for billionaires. But how about for something more fundamental to the success of humanity's inter-galactic expansion aspirations: sex?  – DW



Mass tree-planting campaigns might not deliver the green goods their advocates promise. Especially if they are executed poorly – Vox



Carbon capture could become a new growth industry for Iceland as it pioneers technology for sucking excess carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere – PBS News Hour