How has Washington changed?

Question: Do you remember your first day in Washington?

Armitage:    Yeah I certainly do.  I . . . (laughter) . . . I packed up my family . . . and this was after left Iran in 1977.  I packed up my family.  We were living in California, and I had two daughters at the time.  And my wife, two children and I drove across country.  We bought a home here, and I started looking for work.  Well unfortunately this was at a time when Mr. Carter was busy downsizing government, and this shows you how naïve and young I was at that time.  I was knocking on doors just figuring, well, I deserved to be looked at.  And I was starving to death; but all of a sudden I was introduced to Bob Dole, and lickety-split he asked me to be his Administrative Assistant.  So half of life is just showing up.  And as Napoleon reminds us, he’d rather have lucky generals than smart ones.  I was certainly lucky.

Question: How has Washington changed since then?

Armitage:    Well it’s . . .  I’d have to say a lot has changed.  At the time when I came here . . .  The founding fathers were brilliant in their initial decisions to have a Senate and a House.  Thoughtful upper chamber and a House which is more reflective of the day-to-day life of Americans.  But two things have rather dramatically changed the political climate here in Washington.  The first had to do with the election of sort of single issue mavens, whether . . .  This was a time of the Vietnam War where they were elected just to end the war, or more laterally the pro-choice, or anti-abortion, single issue environmentalist or whatever . . . whatever the issue is.

    The second is that many more House members are now being elected to the Senate, and they bring to the Senate, in my view, the House mentality which is much more rambunctious, much less thoughtful, and not conducive to good, thoughtful tension to be introduced between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch.  And our system requires a thoughtful tension for both branches to work at optimum . . . in an optimum way.

Armitage discusses the rise of single-issue mavens.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Are we all multiple personalities of universal consciousness?

Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.

We’re all one mind in "idealism." (Credit: Alex Grey)
Mind & Brain

There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.

Keep reading Show less

How the appendix may kick-start Parkinson’s

Is the appendix a useless organ, an immune system benefactor, a Parkinson's disease instigator, or all of the above?

(Photo from Flickr)
Surprising Science
  • As far back as Darwin, scientists have thought the appendix was a vestigial organ, but opinions have changed in recent years.
  • A new study found that the appendix houses Lewy bodies, abnormal protein deposits that contribute to Parkinson's disease.
  • Researchers suggest an appendectomy may lower one's risk of Parkinson's, while other research suggests the appendix has important roles to play in our immune system.
Keep reading Show less