What Oscar Says About America

Many of this year's top movies portray dark themes or flawed characters. One culture watcher says they mirror this moment in history where anti-heroes are the more common stock.

Film critic Neal Gabler says: "There seems to be something more that is influencing the darkness on the Big Screen this year than grim unemployment numbers and record housing foreclosures. It may be a deeper sense of discontent. Even in the depths of the Depression, most Americans felt that happy days would be here again—eventually. This was still America, after all: the greatest country in the world. Now that sort of confidence has been shaken. It is much harder to believe in American exceptionalism when the country has been riven by political conflict and paralysis. There is a sense that we are at the end of our 'empire.'"

Car culture and suburbs grow right-wing populism, 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
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  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
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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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