What are we reading? October 21, 2021

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


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

Interesting story looks at new research showing that people who jump to conclusions are prone to other failures of reality testing such as devotion to conspiracy theories. – Scientific American



Not depressed enough? This dissection of the bizarre tribalism over COVID-19 mask-wearing in the U.S. will fix that. – ProPublica



Glen Korstrom, reporter:

Starting November 1, fully vaccinated Canadians will not have to quarantine if they visit Thailand. The country plans to waive quarantine for fully-vaccinated visitors from 10 “low-risk” countries and gradually broaden the number of countries that qualify. 

It is part of a bid to revive its battered economy. 

This article does not mention Canadians, but does a good job examining the kingdom’s plans to focus on high-spending, so-called “premium” tourists who authorities say will be more beneficial to the economy. 

The plan leaves many local small businesses, which cater to backpackers and budget travellers, asking, “What about us?” –Thomson Reuters Foundation



It is not only Thailand that wants to gentrify tourism. 

Barcelona industry insiders are looking to upscale its tourist market to get a bigger bang for each visitor. Industry insiders there are also aiming to decentralize tourism, or somehow spread visitors more evenly across the city than was the case pre-pandemic – DW



Pete Buttigieg keeps breaking new ground. The first openly gay cabinet member in U.S. history recently took a four-week paternity leave, and found himself the target of political opponents for doing so. 

The story shows the stigma still alive against men taking paternity leaves, regardless of their orientation – New York Times



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Meanwhile in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is far from great in anything but size and illustration of humanity's dimwitted disregard for its fragile ocean environments, there are glimmers of hope courtesy of "Jenny" and a team of aquatic trash collectors. – Smithsonian Magazine



If you need a break from your daily deluge of depressing news, social media inflows of unpasteurized ignorance and oafishness and fear-mongering reports of catastrophes to come, take some time to appreciate these examples of what remains of nature's brilliance.  – NPR News



Nelson Bennett, reporter:

The UK has some of the best wind power assets in the world, which is why the UK has bet so big on wind power. The UK gets roughly 21% of its electricity from wind, which has helped the UK achieve some fairly significant GHG emission reductions over the last decade. But as the recent energy crisis shows, an over-reliance on wind has its pitfalls. This summer and fall, wind power production fell by about 32%. High pressure systems that can last weeks or months can result in little to no wind and, so far, it appears the only storage solution that can store months’ worth of electricity is pumped hydro storage. Worse, global warming could result in increased “global stilling.” This is not an argument against wind power, but an argument for better storage and backup power strategies. – The Conversation



Surgeons mark first successful transplant of a kidney into a human from a genetically modified pig. One of the problems with cross-species organ transplants is an immune response that rejects the transplanted organ. In the case of pigs, a molecule called alpha-gel in pigs triggers an immune response in humans. So scientists used the CRISPR gene editing tool to modify a pig’s genome to suppress the molecule’s production. In a trial, surgeons used a brain-dead patient (with the family’s permission) to transplant a genetically modified pig kidney into the patient, and so far the organ has not been rejected. -- World Economic Forum