Scaling Down the US Military
John Horgan: The United States is an extremely militaristic culture right now and we are armed to the teeth and we are very aggressive in pursuing our interests violently around the world. Until recently we were in two major armed conflicts. We just withdrew our troops from Iraq. That’s a very good thing. I hope we don’t go back in and we still have troops in Afghanistan. Barack Obama has pledged to bring those troops home.
Our military is also gigantic. It more than doubled since 9/11 and there are no signs that it’s going to be reduced appreciably any time in the future. Barack Obama has talked about maybe a 10% reduction over the next 8 or 10 years, which is trivial compared to how big our budget really is. The United States military budget is roughly the size of all other nation’s military budgets combined. If we cut our military in half just in terms of the annual defense budget it would still be much bigger than China’s and Russia’s combined. I’d like to also see us take the lead in getting rid of our nuclear arsenal. There is absolutely no use for nuclear weapons anymore and it’s very difficult for us to make the case to a country like Iran, “no, you’re not allowed to have nuclear weapons”, when we still have about 8,000 nuclear warheads in our own arsenal. I think it’s hard for us to tell other people that they should respect the rule of law when we are carrying out these illegal assassinations in other places and are answerable only to ourselves.
I think that our militarism helps to perpetuate the kind of fear and insecurity around the world that unfortunately will make armed conflict more likely. I think our hope of course is that other people are too scared ever to engage in any sort of violence or we will retaliate. I don’t think it’s going to work that way. So I see this period as an enormous opportunity for our country, for the United States to show some real leadership because we are so powerful and we of course like to think of ourselves as a peaceful, just, very moral people and I think we have a right to feel that about ourselves.
So I'm hoping that we have the kind of leadership someday, maybe even Barack Obama in his second term that will seize this opportunity and help convince Americans and the rest of the world that now is the time when we can really move passed this period of militarism and war and take those resources and use them to solve some of the other problems that often lead to conflict.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
There's a growing understanding that drawing is much more than an art form: it's a powerful tool for learning.
- We often think of drawing as something that takes innate talent, but this kind of thinking stems from our misclassification of drawing as, primarily, an art form rather than a tool for learning.
- Researchers, teachers, and artists are starting to see how drawing can positively impact a wide variety of skills and disciplines.
- Drawing is not an innate gift; rather, it can be taught and developed. Doing so helps people to perceive the world more accurately, remember facts better, and understand their world from a new perspective.
It may be simpler than we thought.
- An analysis of a massive amount of data reveals four new personality types.
- The study is the first to take self-reporting out of the equation.
- The four new types are "average," "reserved," "self-centered," and "role model".
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