Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’

Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 8:59 PM

Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he's got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536.

Redemption Arc

Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 5:14 PM

In June last year I gave a talk at a prize launch in Cambridge. Afterwards, I talked to a young man called Jack Merritt. Clever, energetic, and idealistic in the best possible sense, he said he was involved in some kind of criminal justice project and would like to talk more about it.

The West’s Obsession With Border Security Is Breeding Instability

Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 8:39 AM

For too long, Western leaders have been getting away with a brutal circus in the name of border security. From hard-right politicians to the erstwhile establishment parties, “fighting illegal migration” is the new game in town from Canberra to Washington by way of Brussels and Rome.

Russian Trolls Aren’t Actually Persuading Americans on Twitter, Study Finds

Saturday, November 30, 2019 at 11:19 AM

know that Russian agents have been using social media to try to influence other countries’ politics since at least 2013.

New map shows the strange terrain of Titan

Friday, November 29, 2019 at 11:49 PM

Saturn’s moon Titan is one of the most wonderfully weird worlds in our Solar System. In the way that Earth has a water cycle of rain and evaporation, frigid Titan has a methane cycle and lakes of the liquid stuff.

Tesla Made a Pickup Truck for the End of the World

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 9:38 AM

Elon Musk is having a complicated week. On Wednesday, a prototype of the Starship rocket—designed by his company SpaceX to eventually fly humans to the Moon and Mars—suffered a large explosion while it was being loaded with super-cooled fuel in Texas.

Facebook’s massive fake numbers problem

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 9:38 AM

By Financial Times At first glance, Amy Dowd’s Facebook account appears perfectly normal. There is a smiling profile picture of a young woman surrounded by autumnal leaves and the date that she began a new job at Southeast Missouri State University.

Seeing Like a Finite State Machine

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 11:03 PM

Reading this tweet by Maciej Ceglowski makes me want to set down a conjecture that I’ve been entertaining for the last couple of years (in part thanks to having read Maciej’s and Kieran’s previous work as well as talking lots to Marion Fourcade).

Brett Kavanaugh’s latest opinion should terrify Democrats

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 9:38 AM

If you’ve spent any time around the Federalist Society — the hugely influential conservative legal society that plays an outsized role in choosing President Trump’s judicial nominees — then you’ve probably noticed their obsession with a singular issue.

Accelerationism: the obscure idea inspiring white supremacist killers around the world

Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 11:32 PM

Blaze Bernstein, age 19 at the time of his murder, loved to cook. Before he traveled back to his home in California for the 2017-’18 winter break, the University of Pennsylvania sophomore had been elected managing editor of a campus cooking publication called Penn Appétit.

How Trump could lose by 5 million votes and still win in 2020

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 10:48 PM

Analysis: The nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats’ geography problem. In the wake of President Donald Trump's tweets suggesting several nonwhite progressive congresswomen “go back” to their countries — three of them were born in the U.S.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller injected white nationalist agenda into Breitbart, investigation reveals

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 10:33 PM

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller shaped the 2016 election coverage of the hard right-wing website Breitbart with material drawn from prominent white nationalists, Islamophobes, and far-right websites, according to a new investigative report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 at 10:33 PM

Hatewatch re-examined Miller’s reported relationships with prominent figures from the white nationalist movement in light of information uncovered during its investigation into his emails to Breitbart.

The Electoral College could save Trump in 2020

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 4:09 PM

Depending on which reputable survey you look at, President Donald Trump’s approval rating is somewhere between 41 and 38 percent — numbers that are underwhelming at best.

Poll: 65% of Republicans say Trump’s Ukraine scheme was normal presidential behavior

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 3:09 PM

If an elected official is found to have broken the law or abused the powers of office, is impeachment merited or should the judgment be left to voters?…