When we have an emergent scientific truth, we can’t just sit back and watch people debate a scientific truth — they should be debating the politics that would follow from the emergent scientific truth. That’s really what the debates should be about, but they haven’t been. And I’m disturbed by that, because I don’t know what kind of democracy that is, if you’re gonna run around cherry-picking the results of science, of emergent scientific consensus because it conflicts with your philosophy and you want to be responsible for the governance of the nation, which involves thoughtful planning for the future of our health and our wealth, the state of the economy, all of the above….
On the frontier of science, stuff is wrong all the time. I mean, if I have an experiment — what typically happens is, if it’s an interesting result that nobody expected, the press will come, and then they’ll write about it and maybe my host institution will send out a press release which will feed this… state. And the press will say “New results: scientists say…” and then they say cholesterol is good for you. And then a few weeks later, cholesterol is bad for you. And the public is wondering, what the hell is going on? Do scientists even know what they’re doing? How come they don’t agree? Well, on the frontier, we don’t agree. That’s what the frontier means. That’s why there is a frontier; that’s the whole point of the frontier. If we all agreed on it, it would just be in the textbooks and we’d move on.
So people often confuse the raggedy, bleeding edge of scientific research with the established truths that consensus of observation and experiment reveal. And so that’s the whole, full explanation for that one sentence, which is hard to put into one quip. So, Earth is going around the Sun, whether or not you believe that’s true: that has been experimentally, observationally identified and demonstrated and we’ve moved on to the next question. The Sun is going around the center of the galaxy. Earlier people didn’t know that or they doubted it, some people thought we were the center of the galaxy — that was an active area of research. The evidence mounts and we learn that the Sun — in fact, there was a whole debate on this, back in 1920, to be precise — and we concluded, after better data became available, that the Sun is just orbiting the center of the galaxy, in much the same way the Earth is orbiting the Sun. And now that’s a closed issue and we’re on to other questions. So I think people are confusing the bleeding edge of science with established science, and somehow thinking that all science is like the bleeding edge, where that’s not true.
Floto+Warner Studio: Colorful Liquid Splashes Captured at 1/3500th of a Second Look Like Floating Sculptures
Cassandra Warner and Jeremy Floto of Floto+Warner Studio recently produced this beautiful series of photos titled Clourant that seemingly turns large splashes of colorful liquid into glistening sculptures that hover in midair. The photos were shot at a speed of 1/3,500th of a second, taking special care to disguise the origin of each burst making images appear almost digital in nature (the duo assures no Photoshop was used).
Since 2012, when its members were last up for election, 30% of Europe’s monarchies have put newcomers on the throne. By contrast, only around 17 out of 435 House seats—less than 4%—will be competitive in November’s mid-terms. Even if one includes members who are retiring, resigning or have lost primaries, the House doesn’t come close to matching the turnover rate of royals in the Old World (see chart 1).
Why are incumbents so hard to dislodge? After the Democrats won more votes than Republicans in the 2012 House elections but ended up with 33 fewer seats, many blamed gerrymandering (the practice of drawing electoral maps in a way that favours one party). This cannot be the whole explanation, however. Granted, cheap, powerful computing has brought a new level of precision to redistricting, but there has also been resistance from voters fed up with having congressmen choose their electorates rather than vice versa. California and Florida passed constitutional amendments to curb partisan gerrymandering in 2010. On July 10th a judge in Florida ruled that the GOP’s creative cartography there had broken the law.
Some of the most egregious gerrymanders—North Carolina’s worm-shaped 12th district and Illinois’s earmuff-shaped fourth district come to mind—were drawn over 20 years ago to increase the number of ethnic minorities in Congress, rather than for partisan advantage (though the two often overlap). Both parties gerrymander when they get the chance, but political scientists have downplayed the importance of redistricting in recent elections, pointing out instead that Democrats waste many more votes in the course of electing their representatives, while the Republican vote is more efficient.
Christians in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, were sent a message by the Islamic State (IS): convert to Islam, pay the jizya or leave. It appears that many are taking the new self-proclaimed Caliphate seriously.
IS, formerly ISIS, is not formally recognized as a state and is considered a rebel group. It is composed of Sunni insurgent groups and was thought to have significant ties to Al-Qaeda (although Al-Qaeda formally dissociated itself from IS in February). Known for violence against the Shia and Christians, Secretary of State John Kerry has described IS as “more extreme even than al Qaeda.”
IS moved into Mosul last month and made no secret of their plans to impose the tax. Yesterday, after Christian leaders didn’t attend a meeting called by IS leaders, IS moved on those plans, issuing a formal statement. The text of the statement was simple:
We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.
The statement, originally issued by letter, was also broadcast via loudspeaker from mosques earlier today.
It’s important, I think, for a president to know when to commit U.S. forces to combat, it’s also important to know when not to commit U.S. forces to combat. I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi’a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Ba’ath Party? Would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.
How much to you think it costs U.S. taxpayers annually to support each member of the U.S. House of Representatives? Each senator? Well, according to the new U.S. budget, you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, spend $3.1 million to support each House member and $9 million to support each senator.
Back in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was president, the entire legislative branch of the U.S. government only cost $192 million, but in 2008 the legislative branch is projected to cost a whopping $4.8 billion. Adjusting for inflation, the cost of the entire Congress has been rising 3 times faster than the price level, yet the number of members has remained static — thank goodness — at 435 representatives and 100 senators, for a total of 535.
One could argue that since the population of the U.S. has grown about 35 percent over the last 45 years, it takes more congressional staff to service the increased number of the electorate, but even so the real cost of Congress is still growing more than twice as fast as the population.
Our American Founding Fathers had envisioned serving in Congress as a part-time job. Citizen legislators would come to Washington a few weeks in the winter (before the beginning of the planting season, because many were active farmers) and tend to the nation’s business before going back home to attend to their own business.
Members of Congress did not have personal staff. They wrote their own speeches and did their own homework. The idea of a large number of personal staff for each member did not take hold until after World War II, which was, in part, a response to the big government Congress had created during the Depression and the War.
When you want to build a ship, do not begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, and distributing work. Instead, awaken within the heart of man the desire for the vast and endless sea.
…when Mr. Yankovic’s label, RCA, informed him that it was unwilling to pay for videos to promote “Mandatory Fun,” he realized he’d have to find partners willing to help create them instead.
He started looking early. So early, in fact, that when he reached out to the comedy content hub Funny or Die about partnering up on a music video, he didn’t have any parody songs completed. In fact, he barely had any lyrics written.
"As soon as I had a concept for the song, I’d reach out," Mr. Yankovic said. "For the ‘Sports Song’ video, I think I might’ve at best had a demo.Learn more
Mr. Yankovic chose to work with numerous content partners rather than just one for a number of reasons.
"I’ve got relationships with lots of portals," Mr. Yankovic said. "I thought it would have overburdened one portal to be responsible for all of them."
"Not only is it sort of hedging my bets, but it allows me to involve as many people as possible."
There’s a lot to admire about Tom Hugo, and not just the washboard abs that are a glaring feature of his Twitter account profile photo.
For starters, Tom Hugo seems to be well-versed in Chinese, and he evidently cares deeply about the Tibetan people, judging from the profusion of messages he has posted on Twitter in recent months: There are photographs of Tibetans in “unique exotic dress,” articles showcasing the Tibetan people’s deep appreciation for China’s governance of the region and video clips that portray happy Tibetans singing and dancing on state-run television.
“Tibetans hail bumper harvest of highland barley,” read the headline on one recent posting.
There’s only one problem with Tom Hugo’s Twitter account: It’s fake.
The visage accompanying the account belongs to a Brazilian model named Felipe Berto, and nearly every video, article and photograph the ersatz Tom Hugo tweets comes via propaganda websites linked to the Chinese government.
The ruse is not an isolated one. In recent days, Free Tibet, an advocacy group based in London, has identified nearly 100 similar sham accounts whose sole purpose appears to be disseminating upbeat news and treacly stories about Tibet and Xinjiang, the region in far-western China whose native Uighurs, like the Tibetans, have bridled under Beijing’s heavy-handed rule.
The Chinese community in Northern Ireland has long been a target of racial discrimination. Anna Lo, an Alliance Party politician born in Hong Kong who was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2007, was the first politician from an ethnic minority at national level in Northern Ireland, as well as the first East Asian to be elected anywhere in Britain. Her campaign was dogged by violent racism – including death threats – to the extent that she had to carry a panic alarm as a precaution. One far-Right website published pornographic images of Chinese women, alongside derogatory references to Anna Lo. “People from ethnic minorities are very frightened,” she said. “I have never seen ethnic minorities so fearful in Northern Ireland.”
Sectarian hatred in Northern Ireland is well documented; only this month, four policemen were suspended after an internal inquiry into sectarian text messages. But a shadow of hatred of migrants and ethnic minorities lies across the country too. The latest Young Life and Times Survey, a research project jointly carried out by Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, found that 42 per cent of young people have witnessed racist harassment at school. In contrast, only 22 per cent of Catholics and Protestants do not have any friends from “the other side”, which is 50 per cent lower than in 2003; a quarter has more than ten. Racist attitudes, it seems, are shifting from internal sectarian lines to a prejudice determined by ethnicity.