News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Fifty miles east of Seattle, a bridge crosses a steep stretch of Interstate 90 known as Snoqualmie Pass. This is no ordinary bridge, meant for automobiles or pedestrians. Covered in topsoil, boulders, and seedlings, it is intended to convey wild animals from one side of the highway to the other — and it’s working.

Since 2018, when the bridge opened and the first animal, a coyote, scampered over the six lanes below, the structure has carried creatures as large as elk and as small as toads. And it should attract even more users as the seedlings grow into trees and animals acclimate to its presence.

“As we get more shade, it’s going to be different,” Patty Garvey-Darda, a Forest Service wildlife biologist, told Vox during a recent visit to Snoqualmie Pass. “Hopefully someday we’ll see the exact same species up here as we see in the forest.”

The Snoqualmie Pass bridge is one example in a broader category of infrastructure, known as wildlife crossings, that help animals circumvent busy roads like I-90. Crossings come in an array of shapes and sizes, from sweeping overpasses for grizzly bears to inconspicuous tunnels for salamanders. A body of research demonstrates that crossings can reconnect fragmented wildlife populations, while protecting human drivers and animals alike from dangerous vehicle crashes. “This structure is paying for itself because of the accidents we haven’t had,” said Garvey-Darda, as trucks roared by 35 feet below.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In May 2020, as the world was convulsed by the coronavirus pandemic and global infections topped 4 million, a strange video began appearing in the feeds of some Facebook users. “Climate alarm is reaching untold levels of exaggeration and hysteria,” said an unseen narrator, over a montage of environmental protests and clips of a tearful Greta Thunberg. “There is no doubt about it, climate change has become a cult,” it continued, to the kind of pounding beat you might hear on the soundtrack of a Hollywood blockbuster. “Carbon dioxide emissions have become the wages of sin.”

The video’s reach was relatively small: according to Facebook data, it was viewed somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 times. But over the following weeks more videos came, each one experimenting with slightly different scripts and visuals. All focused on the supposed irrationality and hypocrisy of climate campaigners, and the hardship they wanted to inflict upon society’s most impoverished communities. “Those who demand action on climate change continue to fly around in private jets from one virtue-signalling climate conference to the next,” stated one, against a backdrop of Leonardo DiCaprio and Prince Harry delivering speeches from lecterns. “Is this fair?” Another video took aim at the idea that countries should be transitioning towards “net zero” carbon dioxide emissions, calling it an “unnecessary and swingeing plan that hits the poor and costs the earth”. In total, between May and July, the advertiser spent less than £3,000 disseminating 10 videos. Collectively, they were viewed more than half a million times.

At one stage, users hovering over the logo of that advertiser – a UK organisation called The Global Warming Policy Forum, or GWPF – were informed by Facebook that it was a “Science Site”. The GWPF is not a science website: it is the campaigning arm of a well-funded foundation accused by opponents of being one of Britain’s biggest sources of climate science denial.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 2005, the psychologist Agnieszka Golec de Zavala was researching extremist groups, trying to understand what leads people to commit acts of terrorist violence. She began to notice something that looked a lot like what the 20th-century scholars Theodor Adorno and Erich Fromm had referred to as “group narcissism”: Golec de Zavala defined it to me as “a belief that the exaggerated greatness of one’s group is not sufficiently recognized by others,” in which that thirst for recognition is never satiated. At first, she thought it was a fringe phenomenon, but important nonetheless. She developed the Collective Narcissism Scale to measure the severity of group-narcissistic beliefs, including statements such as “My group deserves special treatment” and “I insist upon my group getting the respect that is due to it” with which respondents rate their agreement.

Sixteen years later, Golec de Zavala is a professor at SWPS University, in Poland, and a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, leading the study of group narcissism—and she’s realized that there’s nothing fringe about it. This thinking can happen in seemingly any kind of assemblage: a religious, political, gender, racial, or ethnic group, but also a sports team, club, or cult. Now, she said, she’s terrified at how widely she’s finding it manifested across the globe.

Collective narcissism is not simply tribalism. Humans are inherently tribal, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Having a healthy social identity can have an immensely positive impact on well-being. Collective narcissists, though, are often more focused on out-group prejudice than in-group loyalty. In its most extreme form, group narcissism can fuel political radicalism and potentially even violence. But in everyday settings, too, it can keep groups from listening to one another, and lead them to reduce people on the “other side” to one-dimensional characters. The best way to avoid that is by teaching people how to be proud of their group—without obsessing over recognition.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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News 12.11.21 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In a room as cold as a refrigerator, Dr. Maura Boldrini bends over a plastic box filled with pale slices of human brain, each piece nestled in its own tiny, fluid-filled compartment.

She gestures with purple-gloved fingers: Here are the folds of the cortex, where higher cognition takes place. There is the putamen, which helps our limbs move. Here is the emotion-processing amygdala, with its telltale bumps.

Each piece in this box came from a single brain — one whose owner died of COVID-19.

There are dozens more containers just like it stacked in freezers in Boldrini’s lab at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

“Each of these boxes is one person,” she says in a lilting Italian accent. Each will play a crucial role in helping to unravel COVID-19’s effects on the brain.

The disease may be best known for its ability to rob people of their breath, but as the pandemic spread, patients began reporting a disconcerting array of cognitive and psychiatric issues — memory lapses, fatigue and a mental fuzziness that became known as brain fog. There were also more acute problems, including paranoia, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide and psychosis.

This strange constellation of symptoms has led researchers to suspect that the disease is mounting a direct attack on the brain. Researchers want to figure out how — and what the assault’s long-term effects may be.

Boldrini, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, studies the biology of suicide and the physiological markers of resilience in brain tissue. She is also a practicing psychiatrist.

That combination makes her uniquely suited to investigate the underpinnings of “long COVID.” She has gathered more than 40 brains from COVID-19 victims to guide her in her quest.

Read the rest of this article at: Los Angeles Times

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