The New (Brainy) Aristocracy

In the information age, brainy people are rewarded with wealth and influence, says The Economist. But what does this mean for everyone else?

Societies have always had elites. For most of history and in most countries, power was seized by force of arms and passed down from father to son. Fear and heredity still play a role. China's ruling party remains in charge because it jails and occasionally kills those who threaten it. America elected two presidents named George Bush and came close to electing two Clintons. The big change over the past century is that elites are increasingly meritocratic and global. The richest people in advanced countries are not aristocrats but entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates. The most influential are those whose inventions change lives in many countries (think of Facebook) or whose ideas are persuasive (think of Amnesty International).

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

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Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
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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
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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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.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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