from the world's big
Are you courageous enough to collaborate with your enemies?
Unlikely allies can solve society's most complex problems.
BISHOP OMAR JAHWAR: Well, I started out in the early '90s, I was the first gang specialist hired by the state of Texas. My job was to essentially go into youth prisons and some of those young early adult prisons and deal with the gang phenomenon that happened in the '90s. The job was to negotiate peace in those environments and then furlough those young men out and allow them to go back to the neighborhoods and talk with their OGs and their leaders to ask them to give them free passes back into their world.
In this culture, now it's less gang it's more identity with whatever—whatever area, whatever neighborhood, whatever scenario that you're in, you identify with that, so that becomes your protection, it becomes your identity, it becomes your way of life. So someone has to figure out how to go through that system and say, "Let's get reality from those false identities, those falsehoods." But you've got to be careful, because no matter if it's false or not, if someone believes it they'll die for it, they'll kill for it, they'll live for it, so you have to know how to use whatever influences you have to bring about a different perspective.
I'm going to tell you, once I did a gang negotiation with the Aryan Brotherhood, the Aryan Nation, the Nazis, and when they gathered they all had to affirm their belief system. And it was so interesting, the guy he looked around his group and he said, "We hate blacks and we hate Hispanics and we hate..." and he looked at me and he said, "But not you, sir; we don't feel like that about you." I said, "Thank you, man." Because what I realized what he said to me was, "Man, we need you right now. This is our speech, and not necessarily entrenched." And that guy became one of the leaders of this "emoji" council that we did in prison, which is a unity council.
But the point I'm making is that enemies come when there is true violation, not true rhetoric.
See, rhetoric don't make enemies, man, you've got to go past that. There is some stuff that I promise you I would not say on camera, that me and my wife have argued about, and you think, "Boy, they are enemies." No! She wants one thing on TV and I wanted—it just got out of hand.
So sometimes you have to go beyond the rhetoric so you can see the real. So you've got to classify a person, if they're an "enemy," with their intent, with their consistent behavior, and it's a whole broad range when you try to deal like that. And so you've got to be very, very careful when you're doing it, because you never know who you're going to need on many, many, many sides. So that's how I see "enemy," so you're right about that, it's very rare that in my spirit I would say, "That's an enemy," because, in the work that I do, you would really limit your influence and limit your access if you thought in those terms.
I did work with Paul Ryan. He was doing a poverty tour with a mentor, my mentor Bob Woodson, and it was called 'What Works and Why'. And he was going around to see what really works. And he had this idea called A Better Way Forward. And so they came to Dallas. I had no knowledge of him; he came to Dallas to come see my work. And one of his first trips when he became Speaker of the House was—I do a big celebration every MLK Day where I bring healers from all over the city of Dallas then, but now all over the nation, they came together to just affirm what we were doing and to revisit where we were. One of his first trips, he came there and was there strictly to listen. He stayed for a few hours just listening to everyone and talking in that space and it was so interesting how the perception was not the reality.
Because most people who work in neighborhoods, they have a philosophy that would say 'It don't lean toward where you are, Paul', but he was as comfortable in that moment as I was when he brought us up to talk to a group of guys who were conservatives. And we did a deal at the American Enterprise Institute and other places where we was just trying to share our ideas. And so what we started realizing is there's not a lot of separation. The separation is very small, and so we began to just work in that sense.
You know, perspective comes from where you are. I'll never forget when Paul and I first met, I was saying, "What is he trying to gain from this?" And his direct answer was: information. "I don't know what I don't know, so teach me. Show me what it means to be in this moment and then I'm going to show you where I am." And then he said something that's very powerful, he said, "Omar, there are people who are poised to help you that you wouldn't meet, but I want to introduce you to this world." And I'm skeptical because I'm working in the street saying, "Right, anybody who wants to help me I pretty much know," and I was wrong. So we met at a vulnerable place where we both could learn. And the power of that relationship is that we didn't have to start hiding from real issues to work together. Charles Koch said something that was so strong to me, he said, "What do we fiercely agree upon? And let's work like hell to make it happen." I said, I like that. What do we fiercely agree upon?
So do we really agree that everyone should be a citizen? Yeah. Do we really agree that poverty should not be the destination, it could be a transportation but not…? Yeah. Do we really agree that anyone could transform—transformation to redemption? Yeah. So we just start figuring out what we agree upon, and it was easy to have real relationships. So, Paul then, for me it was not political, it was real. And then when we had real disagreements they were coming from a pure place. "Paul, I don't agree with his policy." He said, "Yeah, it's cool." And we didn't have any heartburn, we had true ideas that could play out in a theater of ideas and see what happens. But the goal was bigger than the role, it was not us trying to figure this thing out. So it stopped being this conversational piece of we figuring out how we play the game with each other, it started really being, "Do we add value to each other and are we solving things that other people run away from?" And it's in this environment of us versus them, right versus left, red versus blue—all of those things create the most echo-chambered life that you can have and it's going to have major consequences when you really have to solve deep problems. You cannot solve problems that way. That's insane. You can't do that.
- Bishop Omar Jahwar has worked beside all kinds of unlikely allies, from Aryan Brotherhood gang leaders to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
- What is an enemy? A true enemy is rare, says Bishop Omar. "Enemies come when there is true violation, not true rhetoric... sometimes you have to go beyond the rhetoric so you can see the real."
- You cannot solve deep problems from the comfort of an echo chamber—it takes courage. The key to courageous collaborations is meeting your so-called enemy to ask: "What do we fiercely agree upon? And let's work like hell to make it happen."
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
The multifaceted cerebellum is large — it's just tightly folded.
- A powerful MRI combined with modeling software results in a totally new view of the human cerebellum.
- The so-called 'little brain' is nearly 80% the size of the cerebral cortex when it's unfolded.
- This part of the brain is associated with a lot of things, and a new virtual map is suitably chaotic and complex.
Just under our brain's cortex and close to our brain stem sits the cerebellum, also known as the "little brain." It's an organ many animals have, and we're still learning what it does in humans. It's long been thought to be involved in sensory input and motor control, but recent studies suggests it also plays a role in a lot of other things, including emotion, thought, and pain. After all, about half of the brain's neurons reside there. But it's so small. Except it's not, according to a new study from San Diego State University (SDSU) published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
A neural crêpe
A new imaging study led by psychology professor and cognitive neuroscientist Martin Sereno of the SDSU MRI Imaging Center reveals that the cerebellum is actually an intricately folded organ that has a surface area equal in size to 78 percent of the cerebral cortex. Sereno, a pioneer in MRI brain imaging, collaborated with other experts from the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands.
So what does it look like? Unfolded, the cerebellum is reminiscent of a crêpe, according to Sereno, about four inches wide and three feet long.
The team didn't physically unfold a cerebellum in their research. Instead, they worked with brain scans from a 9.4 Tesla MRI machine, and virtually unfolded and mapped the organ. Custom software was developed for the project, based on the open-source FreeSurfer app developed by Sereno and others. Their model allowed the scientists to unpack the virtual cerebellum down to each individual fold, or "folia."
Study's cross-sections of a folded cerebellum
Image source: Sereno, et al.
A complicated map
Sereno tells SDSU NewsCenter that "Until now we only had crude models of what it looked like. We now have a complete map or surface representation of the cerebellum, much like cities, counties, and states."
That map is a bit surprising, too, in that regions associated with different functions are scattered across the organ in peculiar ways, unlike the cortex where it's all pretty orderly. "You get a little chunk of the lip, next to a chunk of the shoulder or face, like jumbled puzzle pieces," says Sereno. This may have to do with the fact that when the cerebellum is folded, its elements line up differently than they do when the organ is unfolded.
It seems the folded structure of the cerebellum is a configuration that facilitates access to information coming from places all over the body. Sereno says, "Now that we have the first high resolution base map of the human cerebellum, there are many possibilities for researchers to start filling in what is certain to be a complex quilt of inputs, from many different parts of the cerebral cortex in more detail than ever before."
This makes sense if the cerebellum is involved in highly complex, advanced cognitive functions, such as handling language or performing abstract reasoning as scientists suspect. "When you think of the cognition required to write a scientific paper or explain a concept," says Sereno, "you have to pull in information from many different sources. And that's just how the cerebellum is set up."
Bigger and bigger
The study also suggests that the large size of their virtual human cerebellum is likely to be related to the sheer number of tasks with which the organ is involved in the complex human brain. The macaque cerebellum that the team analyzed, for example, amounts to just 30 percent the size of the animal's cortex.
"The fact that [the cerebellum] has such a large surface area speaks to the evolution of distinctively human behaviors and cognition," says Sereno. "It has expanded so much that the folding patterns are very complex."
As the study says, "Rather than coordinating sensory signals to execute expert physical movements, parts of the cerebellum may have been extended in humans to help coordinate fictive 'conceptual movements,' such as rapidly mentally rearranging a movement plan — or, in the fullness of time, perhaps even a mathematical equation."
Sereno concludes, "The 'little brain' is quite the jack of all trades. Mapping the cerebellum will be an interesting new frontier for the next decade."
What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?
- A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
- It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
- The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
Welfare as an investment<p>The <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/hendren/files/welfare_vnber.pdf" target="_blank">study</a>, carried out by Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser of Harvard University, reviews 133 welfare programs through a single lens. The authors measured these programs' "Marginal Value of Public Funds" (MVPF), which is defined as the ratio of the recipients' willingness to pay for a program over its cost.</p><p>A program with an MVPF of one provides precisely as much in net benefits as it costs to deliver those benefits. For an illustration, imagine a program that hands someone a dollar. If getting that dollar doesn't alter their behavior, then the MVPF of that program is one. If it discourages them from working, then the program's cost goes up, as the program causes government tax revenues to fall in addition to costing money upfront. The MVPF goes below one in this case. <br> <br> Lastly, it is possible that getting the dollar causes the recipient to further their education and get a job that pays more taxes in the future, lowering the cost of the program in the long run and raising the MVPF. The value ratio can even hit infinity when a program fully "pays for itself."</p><p> While these are only a few examples, many others exist, and they do work to show you that a high MVPF means that a program "pays for itself," a value of one indicates a program "breaks even," and a value below one shows a program costs more money than the direct cost of the benefits would suggest.</p> After determining the programs' costs using existing literature and the willingness to pay through statistical analysis, 133 programs focusing on social insurance, education and job training, tax and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers were analyzed. The results show that some programs turn a "profit" for the government, mainly when they are focused on children:
This figure shows the MVPF for a variety of polices alongside the typical age of the beneficiaries. Clearly, programs targeted at children have a higher payoff.
Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser<p>Programs like child health services and K-12 education spending have infinite MVPF values. The authors argue this is because the programs allow children to live healthier, more productive lives and earn more money, which enables them to pay more taxes later. Programs like the preschool initiatives examined don't manage to do this as well and have a lower "profit" rate despite having decent MVPF ratios.</p><p>On the other hand, things like tuition deductions for older adults don't make back the money they cost. This is likely for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is less time for the benefactor to pay the government back in taxes. Disability insurance was likewise "unprofitable," as those collecting it have a reduced need to work and pay less back in taxes. </p>