Shrinking the Pentagon

If Republicans want to slash the federal budget to reduce national debt, they should cut America's massive military spending, says The Economist's Democracy in America blog.

Republicans shouldn't be trying to slash government spending in a weak economy with low interest rates in the first place, but given that they are, they should be looking at the 20% of the federal budget that goes to the Pentagon. So it's encouraging that a few Republicans have been willing to say that defence cuts should be on the table. In an op-ed in last week's Washington Examiner, Tom Coburn, a Senator from Oklahoma, wrote that Congress should take "common sense steps like freezing defense spending until the Pentagon can pass an audit and remove all nondefense spending from the Pentagon's budget."

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
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Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together.

A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.

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  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
  • 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.