The Only Thing Dumber Than a Republican or a Democrat

Politicians like to brag about having passed their bills with bipartisan support. It shows that they are willing cooperate with their political opponents and that they are—at least superficially—more concerned with the good of the country than with winning partisan victories. And it's a strategy that appeals to those crucial independent swing voters. That's why it was such big news when Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) crossed party lines a couple of weeks ago by voting to approve the Democrats' health-care reform package—even though the Democrats had enough votes to move it out of out of committee without her.

But although it would be nice in some ways if both parties agreed on everything—certainly it would be less contentious—nothing meaningful would ever pass Congress if we waited for everyone to agree. While there is a value in building support for a measure on both sides of the aisle, compromise can also weaken a bill so much it is hardly worth passing. And, as Greg Sargent has pointed out, while people always say they would prefer bipartisan legislation, they may not be willing to sacrifice their policy objectives to get it.

That's part of why our two party system can be so ineffective. It generally means having both parties—each somewhat dysfunctional on its own—work together. Comedian Lewis Black quipped a few years ago that the problem was that we're governed by "The Democratic Party, which is the party of no ideas, and the Republican Party, which is the party of bad ideas." And, he added, "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together."

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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