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How Donald Trump Sees the World — in Three Maps
The arrogance and ignorance of American presidential candidate Donald Trump come alive in these three maps, which continue cartography's wonderful history of satirical takedowns.
"I know the outer world exists": from any other presidential candidate, that most basic of foreign policy affirmations would sound merely comical; from the mouth of Donald Trump, it sounds like a vague threat – especially to anyone in the 'outer world' (i.e. that not inconsiderable part of the planet outside the U.S.)
Trump's foreign policy so far seems to rest on just two basic premises: keep that outer world out, and make it pay. The proposed Mexican Wall and a blanket ban on Muslims entering the U.S. are two examples of the former. On the latter point, Trump has called into question America's strategic alliances and free trade agreements as 'free rides' for America's military allies and economic rivals, respectively.
Under Trump, America would no longer be the policeman of the world; the U.S. should stop "paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves"; on the other hand, he has not ruled out using nuclear weapons in Europe, because "Europe is a big place". Nor would China continue to "suck (America) dry". Trump would "start taxing goods that come in from China".
Beyond that, the presidential hopeful has been as scathing about assorted people and places around the world as he has been for anybody and anything he dislikes at home. Trump has called NATO "obsolete", derided European leaders as "weak", accused Angela Merkel of "ruining Germany" (and called Germany a "total mess" for good measure), mocked Saudi prince Alaweel bin Talal as "dopey", painted Brussels as a "hellhole" and misrepresented Britain's second-biggest city Birmingham as a "totally Muslim city".
In January, the House of Commons debated whether to ban Trump from Britain for 'hate speech' – an unprecedented initiative against an American presidential candidate, even if the MPs eventually decided against it.
This Wednesday, Trump will flesh out his foreign policy in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington DC. It will be interesting to see whether he continues the 'America First' rhetoric — ague, blunt and often self-contradictory because, Trump has said, he "wouldn’t want (our enemies) to know what my real thinking is" — or moderates his tone and structures his views to appear more 'presidential'.
But for large parts of the audience – especially those out here in the outer world – the speech won't matter. Trump's world view has already solidified into caricature, most of which is his own doing, to be fair.
Here are three maps painting the world according to Trump, in the grand tradition of cartography used to lampoon imperial arrogance and ignorance. For an earlier example, see the World According to Reagan (#38), but also (when British arrogance and ignorance still mattered on the world stage) the Tory Atlas of the World (#105).
The three maps have a few things in common. Of course, the US of A is shown bigger than strictly accurate; Africa is touted as Obama’s birthplace (a reference to Trump’s earlier involvement in the ‘birther’ movement (1); and Muslims and Mexicans get some prominence (only to be insulted better).
The first map, from the Huffington Post’s UK edition, riffs on Trump’s anti-Muslim tantrum, over-representing the Muslim 'danger' by labelling Greenland as occupied by 'Eskimo Muslims', filling China with 'Chinese Muslims/hackers', and transmogrifying Birmingham into 'Muslimham', in the middle of a 'no go zone' covering most of Britain (except Trump’s proposed 'golf course' in Scotland). Europe has been reduced to 'Germany', and 'Paris' has been misplaced somewhere inside Russia.
The actual Muslim world is labelled in the biggest type on the map as MUSLIM. But an arrow points to Saudi Arabia as the place with 'some good rich Muslims'. So they’re not all bad.
Mexicans, however, are also bad (and not rich!) Hence the 'really big wall' – built near the Panama Canal, effectively annexing Mexico to the U.S. 'Mexico' has moved to South America, which is filled with 'criminals' and 'rapists'. A 'northern wall' – a nod to Game of Thrones – separates the United States of Trump from what’s left of Canada… sorry: Northern Mexico.
The 'best tower in the world' (no prizes for guessing whose name graces its façade) is shielded from the evil outside world by a 'total and complete shutdown barrier', repeated on the UST’s west coast.
Which leaves two places in the world about which Trump is mildly positive: Russia may still be ruled by 'commies', but at least they have a 'good leader'. And Australia, which apparently has not done anything (yet) to offend Trump, is 'probably ok'.
No such luck for the Ozzies on the second map, of unknown provenance, where the island-continent Down Under is marked as the source for 'red kangaroo scrotums (that) make great wigs'. A bloated U.S. is renamed, simply, 'Trump' (Alaska is 'Cold Trump' and Hawaii is the 'Trump Islands' – fortunately, the map spares us a similarly renamed U.S. Virgin Islands).
Canada is 'home of Ted Cruz who I will destroy'. Whom I will destroy – but whom cares about that anymore. Mexico, predictably, is synonymous with 'rape', Central America is only good for 'vacation' and South America simply is 'too hot to wear a suit'. Cuba? Forget it, that’s Mark Cuban stretched out below Florida, near a few islands that are 'smaller than Trump Tower'.
Most of Europe is 'not my problem', except for Greece, which is 'definitely not my problem'. About Eastern Europe, Trump seems to remember that 'I’ve had two wives from over here somewhere'. For both Sweden and Finland, he has but one message: 'You’re Finland!' Britain has been reduced to the 'land of the Queen and Piers Morgan', and Ireland (instead of Scotland) is good for only one thing: 'golf'.
Africa is not Africa, it’s 'Obama is from here'. Israel is another place identified with just one guy: 'my boy Netanyahu'. The whole of Arabia? Suffice it to say: 'I saw American sniper'. I bet Bradley Cooper could kick Sykes Picot’s behind from here to Baghdad. The mapmaker didn’t even bother coming up with anything offensive for the rest of the Middle East: 'some dumb opinion about Muslims'. Fill one in. There’s plenty floating around.
Russia is ruled by a guy Trump can’t wait to go on a man-date with: Putin (a.k.a. Trump of the Tundra). The Japanese are not reducible to one strong leader, but 'they build top-notch escalators.' China is the 'New England Patriots' (apparently both run on the same Marxist-Leninist footing) and Mongolia is 'China by association' (gone are the times when it was 'Soviet by association'). South Korea? Right there between China and Japan, north of North Korea. Ehm.
India can expect some hostility from soon-to-be president Trump, because 'they copied my Taj Mahal', the money temple that has graced the Atlantic City boardwalk since time immemorial. Hey, Sri Lanka, get your act together: 'What country is this? Zero brand recognition'. Still, better than Indonesia: 'What’s all this? ISIS?' There’s a similar complaint about Iceland. Or was that ISIS-land?
By far the most detailed map is Donald Trump’s View o’ the World, which repeats the claims about Mexicans, Obama, Putin, Eastern Europe ('Supermodelstan') and border walls. This map looks ahead quite a bit into the future, seeing Cuba as the 'future site of bankrupt Trump Casinos', apportions blame where there is none ('Antarctica – melting not because of climate change (…) but because of those terrible penguins'), name-checks fellow celebrities (a rump-shaped Armenia is named 'Kardashians').
Some map details recall specific incidents in Trump’s presidential campaign so far. 'Awful Pope land' refers to the Vatican leader’s criticism of Trump’s exclusionary instincts, a boatload of 'Syrian refugees I will send right back', and even John McCain is again called a 'P.OW. loser'. This map was made by Lalo Alcaraz, an American cartoonist of Mexican descent, which provides the putative mapmaker – Trump himself – with the opportunity to use one of his by now classic put-downs: "not their best."
Strange Maps #780
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
(1) A movement which questioned Obama’s legitimacy as president, based on the allegation that he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii.
Scientists are using bioelectronic medicine to treat inflammatory diseases, an approach that capitalizes on the ancient "hardwiring" of the nervous system.
- Bioelectronic medicine is an emerging field that focuses on manipulating the nervous system to treat diseases.
- Clinical studies show that using electronic devices to stimulate the vagus nerve is effective at treating inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Although it's not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, vagus nerve stimulation may also prove effective at treating other diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression.
The nervous system’s ancient reflexes<p>You accidentally place your hand on a hot stove. Almost instantaneously, your hand withdraws.</p><p>What triggered your hand to move? The answer is <em>not</em> that you consciously decided the stove was hot and you should move your hand. Rather, it was a reflex: Skin receptors on your hand sent nerve impulses to the spinal cord, which ultimately sent back motor neurons that caused your hand to move away. This all occurred before your "conscious brain" realized what happened.</p><p>Similarly, the nervous system has reflexes that protect individual cells in the body.</p><p>"The nervous system evolved because we need to respond to stimuli in the environment," said Dr. Tracey. "Neural signals don't come from the brain down first. Instead, when something happens in the environment, our peripheral nervous system senses it and sends a signal to the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord. And then the nervous system responds to correct the problem."</p><p>So, what if scientists could "hack" into the nervous system, manipulating the electrical activity in the nervous system to control molecular processes and produce desirable outcomes? That's the chief goal of bioelectronic medicine.</p><p>"There are billions of neurons in the body that interact with almost every cell in the body, and at each of those nerve endings, molecular signals control molecular mechanisms that can be defined and mapped, and potentially put under control," Dr. Tracey said in a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJH9KsMKi5M" target="_blank">TED Talk</a>.</p><p>"Many of these mechanisms are also involved in important diseases, like cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, hypertension and shock. It's very plausible that finding neural signals to control those mechanisms will hold promises for devices replacing some of today's medication for those diseases."</p><p>How can scientists hack the nervous system? For years, researchers in the field of bioelectronic medicine have zeroed in on the longest cranial nerve in the body: the vagus nerve.</p>
The vagus nerve<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTYyOTM5OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NTIwNzk0NX0.UCy-3UNpomb3DQZMhyOw_SQG4ThwACXW_rMnc9mLAe8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C0&height=700" id="09add" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f38dbfbbfe470ad85a3b023dd5083557" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Electrical signals, seen here in a synapse, travel along the vagus nerve to trigger an inflammatory response.
Credit: Adobe Stock via solvod<p>The vagus nerve ("vagus" meaning "wandering" in Latin) comprises two nerve branches that stretch from the brainstem down to the chest and abdomen, where nerve fibers connect to organs. Electrical signals constantly travel up and down the vagus nerve, facilitating communication between the brain and other parts of the body.</p><p>One aspect of this back-and-forth communication is inflammation. When the immune system detects injury or attack, it automatically triggers an inflammatory response, which helps heal injuries and fend off invaders. But when not deployed properly, inflammation can become excessive, exacerbating the original problem and potentially contributing to diseases.</p><p>In 2002, Dr. Tracey and his colleagues discovered that the nervous system plays a key role in monitoring and modifying inflammation. This occurs through a process called the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature01321" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inflammatory reflex</a>. In simple terms, it works like this: When the nervous system detects inflammatory stimuli, it reflexively (and subconsciously) deploys electrical signals through the vagus nerve that trigger anti-inflammatory molecular processes.</p><p>In rodent experiments, Dr. Tracey and his colleagues observed that electrical signals traveling through the vagus nerve control TNF, a protein that, in excess, causes inflammation. These electrical signals travel through the vagus nerve to the spleen. There, electrical signals are converted to chemical signals, triggering a molecular process that ultimately makes TNF, which exacerbates conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.</p><p>The incredible chain reaction of the inflammatory reflex was observed by Dr. Tracey and his colleagues in greater detail through rodent experiments. When inflammatory stimuli are detected, the nervous system sends electrical signals that travel through the vagus nerve to the spleen. There, the electrical signals are converted to chemical signals, which trigger the spleen to create a white blood cell called a T cell, which then creates a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. The acetylcholine interacts with macrophages, which are a specific type of white blood cell that creates TNF, a protein that, in excess, causes inflammation. At that point, the acetylcholine triggers the macrophages to stop overproducing TNF – or inflammation.</p><p>Experiments showed that when a specific part of the body is inflamed, specific fibers within the vagus nerve start firing. Dr. Tracey and his colleagues were able to map these relationships. More importantly, they were able to stimulate specific parts of the vagus nerve to "shut off" inflammation.</p><p>What's more, clinical trials show that vagus nerve stimulation not only "shuts off" inflammation, but also triggers the production of cells that promote healing.</p><p>"In animal experiments, we understand how this works," Dr. Tracey said. "And now we have clinical trials showing that the human response is what's predicted by the lab experiments. Many scientific thresholds have been crossed in the clinic and the lab. We're literally at the point of regulatory steps and stages, and then marketing and distribution before this idea takes off."<br></p>
The future of bioelectronic medicine<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTYxMDYxMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjQwOTExNH0.uBY1TnEs_kv9Dal7zmA_i9L7T0wnIuf9gGtdRXcNNxo/img.jpg?width=980" id="8b5b2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c005e615e5f23c2817483862354d2cc4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2000" data-height="1125" />
Vagus nerve stimulation can already treat Crohn's disease and other inflammatory diseases. In the future, it may also be used to treat cancer, diabetes, and depression.
Credit: Adobe Stock via Maridav<p>Vagus nerve stimulation is currently awaiting approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, but so far, it's proven safe and effective in clinical trials on humans. Dr. Tracey said vagus nerve stimulation could become a common treatment for a wide range of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, hypertension, shock, depression and diabetes.</p><p>"To the extent that inflammation is the problem in the disease, then stopping inflammation or suppressing the inflammation with vagus nerve stimulation or bioelectronic approaches will be beneficial and therapeutic," he said.</p><p>Receiving vagus nerve stimulation would require having an electronic device, about the size of lima bean, surgically implanted in your neck during a 30-minute procedure. A couple of weeks later, you'd visit, say, your rheumatologist, who would activate the device and determine the right dosage. The stimulation would take a few minutes each day, and it'd likely be unnoticeable.</p><p>But the most revolutionary aspect of bioelectronic medicine, according to Dr. Tracey, is that approaches like vagus nerve stimulation wouldn't come with harmful and potentially deadly side effects, as many pharmaceutical drugs currently do.</p><p>"A device on a nerve is not going to have systemic side effects on the body like taking a steroid does," Dr. Tracey said. "It's a powerful concept that, frankly, scientists are quite accepting of—it's actually quite amazing. But the idea of adopting this into practice is going to take another 10 or 20 years, because it's hard for physicians, who've spent their lives writing prescriptions for pills or injections, that a computer chip can replace the drug."</p><p>But patients could also play a role in advancing bioelectronic medicine.</p><p>"There's a huge demand in this patient cohort for something better than they're taking now," Dr. Tracey said. "Patients don't want to take a drug with a black-box warning, costs $100,000 a year and works half the time."</p><p>Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, elaborated:</p><p>"Why would patients pursue a drug regimen when they could opt for a few electronic pulses? Is it possible that treatments like this, pulses through electronic devices, could replace some drugs in the coming years as preferred treatments? Tracey believes it is, and that is perhaps why the pharmaceutical industry closely follows his work."</p><p>Over the long term, bioelectronic approaches are unlikely to completely replace pharmaceutical drugs, but they could replace many, or at least be used as supplemental treatments.</p><p>Dr. Tracey is optimistic about the future of the field.</p><p>"It's going to spawn a huge new industry that will rival the pharmaceutical industry in the next 50 years," he said. "This is no longer just a startup industry. [...] It's going to be very interesting to see the explosive growth that's going to occur."</p>
The first rule of Vulture Club: stay out of Portugal.
So you're a vulture, riding the thermals that rise up over Iberia. Your way of life is ancient, ruled by needs and instincts that are way older than the human civilization that has overtaken the peninsula below, and the entire planet.
"The Expanse" is the best vision I've ever seen of a space-faring future that may be just a few generations away.
- Want three reasons why that headline is justified? Characters and acting, universe building, and science.
- For those who don't know, "The Expanse" is a series that's run on SyFy and Amazon Prime set about 200 years in the future in a mostly settled solar system with three waring factions: Earth, Mars, and Belters.
- No other show I know of manages to use real science so adeptly in the service of its story and its grand universe building.
Credit: "The Expanse" / Syfy<p>Now, I get it if you don't agree with me. I love "Star Trek" and I thought "Battlestar Galactica" (the new one) was amazing and I do adore "The Mandalorian". They are all fun and important and worth watching and thinking about. And maybe you love them more than anything else. But when you sum up the acting, the universe building, and the use of real science where it matters, I think nothing can beat "The Expanse". And with a <a href="https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_expanse" target="_blank">Rotten Tomato</a> average rating of 93%, I'm clearly not the only one who feels this way.</p><p>Best.</p><p>Show.</p><p>Ever. </p>
Contrary to what some might think, the brain is a very plastic organ.
As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active.