- COVID-19 vaccines have saved over a million lives in the US alone. The Commonwealth Fund.
- 21 things that made the world a better place in 2021. Wired.
- China has eliminated malaria. The New York Times.
- Executions dropped to lowest level in three decades. The Wall Street Journal.
- 56 cities, counties, and states will raise minimum wage rates on January 1. NELP.
- White House unveils plan to replace every lead pipe in the U.S. NBC News.
- Is 70 the new 60? People are aging better. Scientific American.
- 13 animals that made a comeback in 2021. The Progress Network.
When we first meet Cassiopeia, she lives in a small, repressive Catholic town in Mexico in 1927. She’s a Cinderella figure scrubbing floors and doing other household work at her cousin’s command. She also has to put up with an abusive grandfather. Her father has died and her mother is in the same position she’s in.Continue reading
- Bugs across globe are evolving to eat plastic, study finds. The Guardian.
- Millions of people a year are hospitalized by respiratory syncytial virus and tens of thousands die. After decades of failure, four vaccines are now in late-stage trials. Nature.
- New FDA-approved eye drops could replace reading glasses for millions. CBS News.
- Botswana lowers its mother-to-child HIV transmission rate to under 5%. VOA.
- The world has experienced a 59% decline in deaths of children under five since 1990. Good Good Good.
- As a Logic song topped the charts, helpline saw more calls and fewer suicides. STAT.
- Vehicle emission declines decreased deaths, study finds. AP News.
The Black Vampyre was written in response to Polidori’s Vampyre. The edition I read contained a fascinating introduction which provided context for the story and numerous footnotes which explain the now-obscure references in the story.
The Black Vampyre was written anonymously, attributed to one Uriah Derick D’Arcy (this is an anagram of Richard Varick Dey, who may have been the actual author). Like Polidori, the author quotes lines about vampires from Byron’s “The Giaour” which compared Greece being subject to the Ottoman Empire to slavery. D’Arcy takes up this theme, applying it to African slaves in America.Continue reading
- Between 2000 and 2020 the annual number of measles deaths fell by 94%, from 1,072,800 to 60,700, averting an estimated 31.7 million deaths. WHO (PDF).
- New Canadian Cancer Statistics report reveals 50% decline in prostate cancer death rate since peak in 1995. Newswire.
- After 35 years of conservation, the population of the endangered Burrowing Parrot in Chile has increased from 217 in 1986 to over 4000. Evolve to Ecology.
- Coastal marine species carried out to sea on debris are not only surviving, they’re colonizing the high seas and making new communities on the floating plastic detritus that make up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an accumulation of trash stuck in ocean currents that’s estimated to be about twice the size of Texas. NBC News.
- After more than 15 years of fear and intimidation, Mosuli musicians in Iraq can finally play music in public again. New Lines.
- There’s been a massive decrease in global deaths from disasters over the last hundred years. Our World in Data.
- Thousands of farmworkers will see pay raises in 2022. The Counter.
- Renewable energy has ‘another record year of growth’ says IEA. The Guardian.
- Hackney man first to receive 3D-printed prosthetic eye. BBC.
- Unique effort reopens girls’ schools in Afghan province. AP News.
- 200 years ago, everyone lacked democratic rights. Now, billions of people have them. Our World in Data.
The world is better today because of the Enlightenment, yet people attack reason, science, humanism, and progress when these things should be celebrated.
One of the bits of wisdom from the Scientific Revolution is that misfortune is no one’s fault. Bad things sometimes happen for no reason other than the universe is indifferent to human suffering. There’s no point looking around for someone to blame when an earthquake happens. Entropy ensures there’s more ways for things to go wrong than for things to go right.Continue reading
- At 1.9%, Nebraska now has the lowest unemployment rate of any state, ever. Wall Street Journal.
- Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is recovering from life-threatening coral bleaching episodes. NPR.
- A new stem-cell treatment has cured a man of Type-1 Diabetes. The New York Times.
- US jobless claims hit 52-year low after seasonal adjustments. AP News.
- Portugal goes coal-free long before deadline. CNN.
“If there’s no word for it, how do you think about it?”
Twenty years after an invasion of the solar system, poet Rydra Wong (famous throughout the five explored galaxies) is called upon to help decode Babel-17, a language that has something to do with the invasion. Rydra is only 26 and in addition to being a famous poet, is also an expert in both human and extraterrestrial languages, to the extent she can even read people’s minds simply by observing their body language. There are nine space-faring species, some on each side of the war, but language barriers keep them from reality knowing each other even if they’re allied.Continue reading
The live-action Cowboy Bebop is finally here. Overall, I think it’s okay. I enjoyed some episodes more than others. It’s more R-rated than the original with lots of cussing, nudity, and violence. The original anime was quite violent at times, of course, so maybe the new series just felt more violent due to being live-action. There’s a scene in one episode in which lots of naked people are gunned down which added nothing to the plot, so I can only assume it was done purely for shock value.Continue reading
- Seven amazing trends the media ignores that’ll make you feel great about the future. Upworthy.
- The number of tobacco smokers worldwide is falling by about 5 million people a year. Euronews.
- mRNA vaccine against tick bites could help prevent Lyme disease. New Scientist.
- Green Jobs offer ex-offenders a career path after prison. Reasons to be Cheerful.
- As cities wrestle with how to reform policing to reduce the use of lethal force, Albuquerque has created a new kind of responder on the streets. It sends behavioral specialists to deal with calls that involve emergencies like mental health issues and homelessness. Christian Science Monitor.
- Virginia will expand Medicaid coverage up to a year after pregnancy. Virginia Mercury.
- New HIV jabs taken two months apart hailed as huge step forward. The Guardian.
- After record low, monarch butterflies return to California. NBC News.
- Nurse salaries rise as demand for their services soars during Covid-19 pandemic. The Wall Street Journal.
- New law in Kenya allows refugees to work. VOA.