5/28/21 Recommended Issues: Fact Checking, Wildfires & Droughts, Toxic Empathy

5/28/21 Recommended Issues: Fact Checking, Wildfires & Droughts, Toxic Empathy

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Each week we handpick newsletter issues by independent writers you may have missed that provide new or unique perspectives. 

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Here's what's worth reading this week...enjoy!




"Fact-Checking" Takes Another Beating in TK News by Matt Taibbi on May 24 

The term “fact-checking” is thrown around a TON these days… but do you know what it actually means? ...especially in the context of news articles?  This issue was intriguing because Matt, who used to write for various notable news outlets, actually explains the role of a fact checker: both what they DO and what they DO NOT do. And you may be surprised to discover that fact-checking, while sounding like quite an all-inclusive term, isn’t so much. The issue is worth reading because it may cause you to consume fact-checked news with a different lens or question what you read differently than in the past. (1852 words; 6.5 minutes) Read it…


The wildfires are starting in Heated by Emily Atkin on May 25  

If you’re at all interested in why this year may be particularly bad for wildfires, this issue goes into a great set of explanations around droughts, why they happen, and their relationship to wildfires. There are actually several types of droughts “converging on the West” this year (curious what the types are?!), most of which are either at record levels or are close. It’s worth reading to better understand the whole drought-wildfire ecosystem, what all is impacted, and why... you may not sleep better at night but at least you’ll be informed. (1687 words; 6 minutes) FYI: You can skip her intro if you want and just get to the meat of it all in the section “This fire season is going to be bad. Here’s why.” Read it...


Toxic Empathy in Mostly Useful by Joel on May 16  


First, what’s toxic empathy? Joel explains: “Toxic empathy is created when we alter reality to accommodate other people or ourselves” and he argues that it can be hard to tell the difference between toxic and good/healthy/normal empathy when you’re in the middle of it. Though this newsletter issue stems from Joel’s first-person experience providing toxic empathy, he’s able to get the reader to see how easily one can fall into the toxic empathy trap and how to better identify that trap if you’re are falling into it. This issue is worth reading as it helps frame/reframe “empathy” for you (like that empathy is not about legitimizing or problem-solving)-- and it puts the meaning of “empathy” into a clean, clear perspective. (1837 words; 6.5 minutes) Read it...

Learnings from newsletters this week:

  • As technology and AI have increased, special forces operators/spies/etc have had to keep overcoming challenges posed by these new technologies so that they and their special operations won't be compromised...While they can appear to age, change gender, wear silicon sleeves to create new fingerprints, and use other prosthetics to change appearance, some AI, like for "gait recognition", may make it even more difficult to overcome. Good luck spies! Import AI 5/24
  • In 1985, 36% of computer science degrees (in American universities) were awarded to women; by 2010, it had plummeted to 18%.  That != good. Tedium 5/21
  • Wildfire season doesn't look good; California’s governor already declared a drought emergency in 41 of 58 counties. Heated 5/25
  • Utah's snowpack is at 52% of normal. Heated 5/25
  • Printing presses surprise! Only in the early eighteenth century did Arabic-character printing begin in the Ottoman Empire. (For reference, in Europe, the Gutenburg printing press was developed ~1440) Age of Invention 5/19
  • A survey of 2000 Americans reported that just over half believe they could survive for 2 weeks alone in the woods... but only  17% felt "very confident" in their ability to start a fire  and only 14% were "very confident" about their ability to identify edible plants or berries. Oh my. I wonder if these are the same folks who believe they could take on a grizzly bear with their bare hands and win... Understandably 5/25
  • Who knew? Only one in 100,000 (or fewer) garden snails have a coil on their left side. (and in case you're wondering, they're called "sinistra snails".) Now I know 5/26
  • Elephants transmit low-frequency waves through the ground when they speak --and other elephants pick up the signals-- through their feet (!!!) -- and transmit them to their skeleton... crazy! (Also, ground waves can go 5x further than the 1 mile that high-frequency vocal sounds go through the air!) Now I know 5/19
  • Fresh guidelines from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force calls for Colorectal screenings to begin at 45 instead of 50, in hope of catching it earlier.  This is great news given that Colorectal cancer is the #3 cancer killer in the U.S., with an estimated 52,980 deaths projected in 2021... ugh! Important not important 5/21


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