America's Sigh of Relief?

Today, there is a visceral sense of relief that is being felt by many Americans. The rousing performance by Joe Biden in the Super Tuesday primary represents the extraordinary angst many people have for the possibility of a Bernie Sanders presidency. A "feelings" trend appears to have emerged that has suprised quite a few people, including many that are completely comfortable with Democratic Socialism. The feeling is rooted in the fear and dread of a second-term, Donald Trump presidency.

A lot of people in the past year have been shopping for a comfortable candidate. This has had the effect of giving voice to the many political fractures that exist within the vast opposition to Donald Trump's Republican party and toxic politics. This has also provided an unrealistic sense of support for ideologies that America simply isn't ready to embrace (for a variety of reasons that is beyond the scope of what I'm willing to cover here). America is currently in a state of shock at the bigoted, amoral, unethical, and kleptocratic turn that has infected both Washington, D.C. and the Captiols of every state in America.

America is being confronted with the reality that it has problems that were thought to be resolved. Discrimination, bigotry, and hate is pervasive in American (and, to be brutally honest, throughout the world). It is being fueled by misinformation, disinformation, and powerful special interests that benefit from the chaos and division.

Nation State actors and institutions that operate in the guise of Religion are fueling passions to satisfy their fetid desires for money and power.

From a moral/ethical position, few can argue against the logic of the benefits of a strong social safety net; where the weakest members of society are supported by the stronger members. Let's be clear, the weak members of society are not simply going to vanish if the social safety net is removed, society will still be burdened and pay a serious price.

So, what does this apparent tangent have to do with Biden and Bernie?

Ultimately, they have so much more in common than they have differences. How and how quickly we get to the more perfect union is what separates them. We must remember that we believe in a Great Society. The Great Society must include those with whom we disagree. The Great Society must help those who are ignorant and fearful. Many do not know what they do not know. Some call it arrogant to presume to know what is better for someone else. Arrogance is the wrong word (also used out of ignorance).

It is a political and philosophical reality that there are, for lack of a better word, "sheeple" (people that socially behave like sheep). In fact, we are all sheeple. We all want and need to be shepherded. Our duty is to insure, with blood and treasure, that our shepherds are moral/ethical Philosopher Kings of the highest possible virtue.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both have the potential to satisfy that very high standard (and it should go without saying that Donald Trump fails to meet even the most forgiving measure of virtue).

In the coming weeks and months, we are going to hear alot about "the establishment" and the "mainstream". Don't be fooled by the pejorative way in which terms like "the establishment" or "mainstream" are being wielded in hyperbolic language. These are terms used to substitute for the more accurate term "majority". By definition, the establishment and the mainstream represent the plurality, if not the majority of a population.

Mainstream America felt the collective stress lift just a little as Joe Biden's rousing upsurge in support became real in the past week (culminating most dramatically with the Super Tuesday ballot results). The only thing that comes close to worries about a second-term Donald Trump presidency is a Bernie Sanders presidency.

I like and support the core of Bernie Sanders' messaging; however, I am in a minority. Unlike many with whom I agree, I dispute the possibility that America will chose Sanders over Trump. The existential threat of irreversable damage that is Donald Trump, is so great, and the possibility of America choosing Sanders over Trump is so tiny, I believe Mainstream America breathed a collective sigh of relief and is now again, hopeful.

Bernie Sanders is ahead of his time. America is simply not ready or capable of moving from one disrupting change agent to another. Like a champion athlete in training, America has had a rough work-out and reached muscle failure. America has tried some alternative exercise and it has shocked muscle memory. We are all exhausted. Now it is time for America to step-back and recover. This is why America is a little better today, now there is hope that recovery is possible.

Anatomy of an Online Misinformation Network

Massive amounts of fake news and conspiratorial content have spread over social media before and after the 2016 US Presidential Elections despite intense fact-checking efforts. How do the spread of misinformation and fact-checking compete? What are the structural and dynamic characteristics of the core of the misinformation diffusion network, and who are its main purveyors? How to reduce the overall amount of misinformation?

Google’s Idea To Reduce Tech Addiction

tech addictionResearch indicates that smart phones are making us unhappy. Google recently revealed that 70% of its users actually want help balancing their digital lives. What can smartphone manufacturers of the world do about it? After all, it’s in their business interests to make their phones as engaging–or addictive–as possible.

For now, Google’s upcoming Android P operating system is introducing three great features to help us break–or at least, better manage–our screen addictions.

Science and Emotion are Inseparable

science emotion brainScience is an endeavour that draws on all of our uniquely human abilities. The need of science appeals to and is guided by common values. Therefore, it needs feelings and imagination as much as observation, analysis and logic. However, here’s a view of science you might recognise as common, or at least see promoted:

“Science is a purely objective pursuit. Words like 'fact', 'proof', 'evidence' and 'natural law' are the marks of the scientific method. This approach has no place for emotion, or any subjective aspects. Save it for the arts!”

Obama Strategy Against Killer Asteroids

Asteroids

In a newly released strategy, the United States has proposed an increased global effort to locate 300,000 or so Earth-impact risks and prepare for potential future meteor collisions that could destroy cities, civilization, or all life as we know it. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are defined as asteroids or comets that come near our planet’s orbit. A newly published White House document entitled ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’ details how low-probability, high consequence impacts pose a “significant and complex challenge”.

Awe Shapes Views of Science

aweIn general, we feel awe when in the presence of something that is so big, beautiful, powerful or complex that it is hard to wrap our heads around (e.g. gazing at the stars and contemplating the vastness of the universe, witnessing the destructive force of a natural disaster). We feel it when we are struck dumb by the presence of the mysterious, magical, wondrous or beautiful and its experience drives us to seek explanations. Something has not only defied our expectations about how the world works, but it has made us want to understand, explain and find meaning in what has happened.

Time Management is Ruining Our Lives

rushrushMost of us have experienced this creeping sense of being overwhelmed: the feeling not merely that our lives are full of activity – that can be exhilarating – but that time is slipping out of our control. The quest for increased personal productivity – for making the best possible use of your limited time – is a dominant motif of our age. And yet the truth is that more often than not, techniques designed to enhance one’s personal productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties they were meant to allay. The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have. It’s understandable that we respond to the ratcheting demands of modern life by trying to make ourselves more efficient. But what if all this efficiency just makes things worse?

Therapeutic Pathway to Treat Alcoholism

digitalworldbrainA liver hormone called FGF21 may regulate alcohol drinking by acting directly on a receptor in the brain, according to a new study. This raises the possibility of a new therapeutic pathway that could one day be targeted to reduce the desire for alcohol in problem drinkers. The new study, by researchers from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, for the first time highlights a liver-brain axis which plays an important role in regulating the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol drinking is a complex trait that is known to be partly inherited, yet so far there have been few genes associated with it.

President Obama Prepares Nation for Solar Flares

PotusSealA large enough solar flare could knock out electrical grids we have come to rely on for day-to-day life. On 13 October 2016, President Barack Obama issued an executive order aimed at preparing the nation's infrastructure for "extreme space weather events" that could potentially be powerful enough to wreak havoc on essential electrical grids.

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Pragmatic Journey is Richard (rich) Wermske's life of recovery; a spiritual journey inspired by Buddhism, a career in technology and management with linux, digital security, bpm, and paralegal stuff; augmented with gaming, literature, philosophy, art and music; and compassionate kinship with all things living -- especially cats; and people with whom I share no common language.