Happy Holy Day of Obligation!
Irish author and actor Malachy McCourt's memories of St. Patrick's Day are gloomy, rainy and awful. That's how it was in Limerick, Ireland, where he was raised. In the U.S., there became spirited parades coupled with solid beer-drinking. And then what happened? Ireland copied the fun. The only difference? Crowds in the U.S. are homophobic, whereas, in Ireland, "the home of the whole bloody thing," as McCourt says, gay people get prizes and awards for being the most colorful group in the parades.
McCourt talks to Big Think about it all, from his days as a raging alcoholic who destroyed his first marriage to his brief stint running for governor of New York. How did he feel when his legendary brother Frank died in 2009? "He was the only smaller person I looked up to," says McCourt.
He gives us a taste of a proverb and a limerick, and lets us in on his utopian vision for the world -- let's just say it calls for doing away with all types of weaponry including the bow and arrow. Plus, what does it mean to be Irish in America today?
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.
- 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.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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