Weekly Reader: Vol 2 Issue 26

It’s time once more for all the news and views that you can peruse! It’s another Weekly Reader! As always, if you want to be part of the action, drop a link or three in the comments! Sharing is caring, after all.

Steven Pinker, Sam Harris and the epidemic of annoying white male intellectuals (from Salon): “Although Pinker is widely known, or at least was at one point, as a clear-headed, objective intellectual of the highest caliber, his chapter on “existential threats” was overflowing with quotes taken out of context, misrepresented ideas, false dichotomies, blatantly inaccurate claims, poor reasoning, dubious citations, condescending straw-man attacks and cockamamie ad hominems. If the chapter had been a first-year undergraduate term paper, and if the professor were an exceptionally easy grader who habitually dished out A’s for poorly researched papers, Pinker’s chapter might have received a C.”

Genetic disease is ravaging Lancaster County’s Amish, and helping to change medicine for all of us (from Penn Live): “For the Stoltzfuses, their children and thousands of Amish like them, the odds are centuries in the making and rooted in something called the “founder effect.”

It exists at the unlikely intersection of random chance and deliberate community planning: The result of generations of intermarriage, genetic drift and the biological bottleneck those factors have spawned.”

Most U.S. Dairy Cows Are Descended From Just 2 Bulls. That’s Not Good (from NPR): “This doesn’t mean that the bulls in the catalog are genetically identical. They still had lots of different mothers, as well as grandmothers. But it does show that this system of large-scale artificial insemination, with farmers repeatedly picking top-rated bulls, has made cows more genetically similar. Meanwhile, genetic traits that existed in Holstein cows a generation ago have disappeared.”

Astros Staffer’s Outburst at Female Reporters Illustrates MLB’s Forgive-and-Forget Attitude Toward Domestic Violence (from Sports Illustrated): “But the price was low for a reason: Many teams didn’t want to deal with the public backlash for acquiring Osuna. The Astros decided it was worth it. Since he got to Houston, Osuna has a 2.46 ERA and 50 saves. The Astros may win another World Series. But that doesn’t mean they get to decide when the backlash ends.”

A New Crispr Technique Could Fix Almost All Genetic Diseases (from Wired): “The work “has a strong potential to change the way we edit cells and be transformative,” says Gaétan Burgio, a geneticist at the Australian National University who was not involved in the work, in an email. He was especially impressed at the range of changes prime editing makes possible, including adding up to 44 DNA letters and deleting up to 80. “Overall, the editing efficiency and the versatility shown in this paper are remarkable.””

LEAKED AUDIO REVEALS HOW COCA-COLA UNDERMINES PLASTIC RECYCLING EFFORTS (from The Intercept): “Among the topics on the agenda for the recycling experts was a grant coming to Atlanta as part of a multimillion-dollar campaign Coke was launching “to boost recycling rates and help inspire a grassroots movement.” But it quickly became clear that one possible avenue for boosting recycling rates — a bottle bill — was off the table.”

Walmart is doubling down on robot janitors. Here’s why (from CNN): “The retailer believes that bringing on bots will lift sales and make stores more efficient. Walmart also says bots limit worker turnover. That’s because it’s hard to consistently find workers to unload trucks and keep up stores overnight.

Walmart has been testing out this technology in hundreds of stores over the past year. Its expansion plan means that the innovations have been effective for Walmart so far. It also signals that robots will play a key role in the retailer’s store strategy going forward.”

Hiring of Accused Atheist Leader Is Reminder That #MeToo Is Still Needed in Organized Atheism (from Rewire News): “At the conference, many women of color presenters spoke of being in the crosshairs of misogynistic, heteronormative religious traditions and racist, sexist atheist and humanist institutions. Far from being a refuge from religious tyranny, mainstream atheism is just another microcosm of American gender and racial hierarchies.”

Humans Will Never Live on an Exoplanet, Nobel Laureate Says. Here’s Why. (from Live Science): “We might be able to send people to Mars in the next 50 years, but “I would be very surprised if humanity made it to the orbit of Jupiter within the next few centuries,” he said. Since the distance to the nearest star outside of our solar system is about 70,000 times greater than the distance to Jupiter, “all stars are effectively out of reach.””

There’s Not Just One Vape Crisis — There’s Three (from Rolling Stone): “With the CDC no closer to identifying a sole culprit (or even culprits) behind the epidemic, and with the 30-day deadline for the FDA’s revision of its guidelines removing flavored e-cigarettes from the market rapidly approaching, here’s what we know so far about the three different tracks of the vaping health crisis, and what public health officials are doing to try to slow the trains down.”

Uber and Lyft Drivers Talk About Getting Ripped Off (from Splinter News): “I’m 71 retired US naval air veteran. I drive for both Uber and lyft for almost a year now, and find the average hourly earnings (no matter the hours I work) are less than the $13.00 per hour minimum wage in New York. It barely supplements my social security monthly, to help me pay my fixed monthly bills.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly thankful to Uber and Lyft for giving me at least this opportunity to somewhat subsidize my income. Just wish it would average at least the minimum wage per hour I work.”

Target raised wages. But some workers say their hours were cut, leaving them struggling (from CNN): “Beyond just a drop in earnings that Target workers who spoke with CNN Business have experienced, employees who average fewer than 30 hours of work a week during the year aren’t eligible to qualify for health insurance benefits through the company during annual enrollment season in the spring. Target offers health insurance benefits to eligible employees who average more than 30 hours a week, according to the company. Target does not publicly disclose other requirements to qualify for health insurance benefits.”

That’s all for now. Swing by again next week for links that might tickle your fancy or help your brain muscles flex. Until then, happy reading!

About Silverwynde

I'm a Transformers fan, Pokémon player, Brewers fan and all-out general nerd. I rescue abandoned Golett, collect as many Bumblebee decoys and figures as I can find and I've attended every BotCon--official and non--since 1999. I'm also happily married to a fellow Transfan named Prime and we were both owned by a very intelligent half-Siamese cat, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 16, 2018. We still miss him. But we're now the acting staff of a Maine Coon kitty named Lulu, who pretty much rules the house. Not that we're complaining about that.
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