Endangered archive of Siberian indigenous voices to be digitised – Museums Association

“Russian cassette tapes from the Soviet era are particularly fragile and here the process of degradation has been speeded up by water leakages in the building, which have increased the humidity,” Anderson said.

“For the most badly damaged tapes, extracting what they contain requires them to be baked in an oven but after that, you only get one chance at playing them before the recordings are lost.

“We will be working with Russian sound technicians on this process which then requires them to be disassembled, rewound and played at different speeds to remove the interference caused by damage to the tapes, which stick together causing squealing sounds.”
— Read on www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/news/2021/10/endangered-archive-of-siberian-indigenous-voices-to-be-digitised/

Why the U.N.’s Biodiversity Conference Is So Important – The New York Times

Countries are gathering in an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/10/14/climate/un-biodiversity-conference-climate-change.html

Women and Social Security: How to Get the Biggest Check – The New York Times

Women tend to live longer than men, so they need as much retirement income as possible. Whether you’re 30 or 60, here’s what you need to know.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/06/28/business/retirement/women-social-security-retirement.html

BBC World Service – The Inquiry, Is China’s economy in trouble?

For decades China’s economic growth has been the envy of the western world. But current signs suggest all is not well.
Regulations brought in by government to curb businesses reliance on debt have badly hit the its second largest real estate developer, Evergrande and manufacturing output has been hit by power shortages.
So is China’s economy in trouble?

Experts:
Sara Hsu, visiting scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai
Michael Pettis, Finance Professor at Peking University and a Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment
Iris Pang, ING’s Chief Economist for Greater China
Travis Lundy, independent research analyst in Hong Kong
— Read on www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct1z2l

A World Without Sci-Hub – Palladium

Aaron Swartz was 26 years old when he took his own life. He did so under the shadow of legal prosecution, pursued by government lawyers intent on maximal punishment. If found guilty, he potentially faced up to 50 years in prison and a $1 million dollar fine. Swartz’s crime was not only legal, but political. He had accessed a private computer network and gained possession of highly valuable information with the goal of sharing it. His actions threatened some of the most powerful, connected, and politically protected groups in the country. Their friends in the government were intent on sending a message.

It’s the kind of story you would expect about some far-off political dissident. But Swartz took his life in Brooklyn on a winter day in 2013 and his prosecutor was the U.S. federal government. When Swartz died, he was under indictment for 13 felony charges related to his use of an MIT computer to download too many scientific articles from the academic database JSTOR, ostensibly for the purpose of making them freely available to the public. Ultimately, Swartz potentially faced more jail time for downloading academic papers than he would have if he had helped Al Qaeda build a nuclear weapon. Even the Criminal Code of the USSR stipulated that those who stored and distributed anti-Soviet literature only faced five to seven years in prison. While prosecutors later pointed toward a potential deal for less time, Aaron would still have been labeled a felon for his actions—and to boot, JSTOR itself had reached a civil settlement and didn’t even pursue its own lawsuit.

But Aaron’s cause lived on. This September marks the ten-year anniversary of Sci-Hub, the online “shadow library” that provides access to millions of research papers otherwise hidden behind prohibitive paywalls. Founded by the Kazakhstani computer scientist Alexandra Elbakyan—popularly known as science’s “pirate queen”—Sci-Hub has grown to become a repository of over 85 million academic papers.

The site is popular globally, used by millions of people—many of whom would otherwise not be able to finish their degrees, advise their patients, or use text mining algorithms to make new scientific discoveries. Sci-Hub has become the unacknowledged foundation that helps the whole enterprise of academia to function. 

Even when they do not need to use Sci-Hub, the superior user experience it offers means that many people prefer to use the illegal site rather than access papers through their own institutional libraries. It is difficult to say how many ideas, grants, publications, and companies have been made possible by Sci-Hub, but it seems undeniable that Elbakyan’s ten-year-old website has become a crucial component of contemporary scholarship.  
— Read on palladiummag.com/2021/09/24/a-world-without-sci-hub/

Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions – The New York Times

The animals and one plant had been listed as endangered species. Their stories hold lessons about a growing global biodiversity crisis.
— Read on www.nytimes.com/2021/09/28/climate/endangered-animals-extinct.html

The shape of things to come.

Top 10 Quantum Machine Learning Companies to Watch in 2021

Quantum machine learning is an emerging trend. Here are 10 quantum machine learning companies to watch in 2021.
— Read on www.analyticsinsight.net/top-10-quantum-machine-learning-companies-to-watch-in-2021/

South America drought: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia suffer climate change – The Washington Post

From the frigid peaks of Patagonia to the tropical wetlands of Brazil, worsening droughts this year are slamming farmers, shutting down ski slopes, upending transit and raising the price of everything from coffee to electricity.
— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/24/argentina-brazil-south-america-drought/

We Need Software Updates Forever

Consumers have relied on the good graces of device makers to keep our gadget firmware and software secure and up-to-date. Doing so costs the manufacturer some of its profits. As a result, many of them are apt to drop support for old gadgets faster than the gadgets themselves wear out. This corporate stinginess consigns far too many of our devices to the trash heap before they have exhausted their usability. That’s bad for consumers and bad for the planet. It needs to stop.

We have seen a global right-to-repair movement emerge from maker communities and start to influence public policy around such things as the availability of spare parts. I’d argue that there should be a parallel right-to-maintain movement. We should mandate that device manufacturers set aside a portion of the purchase price of a gadget to support ongoing software maintenance, forcing them to budget for a future they’d rather ignore. Or maybe they aren’t ignoring the future so much as trying to manage it by speeding up product obsolescence, because it typically sparks another purchase.
— Read on spectrum.ieee.org/we-need-software-updates-forever

Scientists Find Some Bats Babble Just Like Babies : NPR

New research finds that sac-winged bat pups — a species of bat found in Central and South America — like to “babble” in ways that are remarkably similar to human babies.
— Read on www.npr.org/2021/08/19/1029343443/bats-love-to-babble-just-like-humans