Rather than debate, the two presidential candidates get together in Texas to audition for a hilarious right-wing buddy movie
On Saturday night, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain met in Texas for a special, one-on-one "debate." But anyone who tuned in hoping for fireworks would have been disappointed. It might have been more accurate to call it a joint campaign appearance.
The debate seemed like an extremely promising idea when it was announced a few weeks ago. Gingrich and Cain are probably the two most entertaining candidates in the current Republican field -- the former speaker with his acerbic wit, the businessman with his thunderous exhortations. Both are running "non-traditional campaigns," which is a euphemism for not running much of a campaign at all. For both men, their blundering into the top ranks of recent polls seems to have spoiled an otherwise pleasant book tour.
How exciting it promised to be, then, to see these two together on stage, without those annoying other candidates interfering in a good show. Without Mitt Romney and Rick Perry's ongoing attempt to achieve mutually assured destruction; without that cranky Rick Santorum guy; without Ron Paul's diatribes and Jon Huntsman's sanctimony, and most definitely without Gary Johnson's dog poop jokes.
The only problem: Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain really like each other. And with friendly moderators -- a local Americans for Prosperity honcho and archconservative Iowa Rep. Steve King -- there was no one asking actual tough questions, pinning the pair down when they wandered off topic or didn't make sense, or seeking to draw out differences between the men in a way that might be helpful to voters trying to choose between the two.
Naturally, this suited Gingrich and Cain just fine.
Gingrich answered the first question, about Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, by conveniently forgetting that he'd once called it "right-wing social engineering." "Paul Ryan came up with some very good ideas," he said, and wound up in a detailed discussion of Medicare fraud.
When it was Cain's turn, he said: "At this particular juncture I'm supposed to get a minute to disagree with something he's said. But I don't."
And so, when Cain finished his answer -- "I like the Ryan plan. I haven't found anything in it yet that I don't disagree with (sic)" -- the moderator announced he was making an "executive decision" to suspend the clock and let the candidates take as long as they liked with each question. With that, the thin pretense of debate was dropped.
Gingrich and Cain are both nominally from Georgia, and they have known each other since the debate over "Hillarycare" nearly two decades ago. In previous debates, their mutual admiration society prompted the creation of this delightful Photoshop imagining them melded into a "Newtman Caingrich."
As the discussion wore on Saturday, one actually could discern the difference, however. It wasn't on policy, where they couldn't find any real disagreement. But the contrast in style was obvious. In the unlikely event either of these men became president, Gingrich would be wonk-in-chief, while Cain would leave the details to others and serve mainly as a cheerleader.
Gingrich, as the forum wore on, began to monopolize the floor time, reliving past glories with explanations of the ideas behind welfare reform and taking credit for balancing the budget in the 1990s. He referenced academic books and think-tank studies, invoked history and delivered tart sound bites like "This president is about as candid and accurate as Bernie Madoff in what he tells the American people." He was obviously having a ball. If you didn't already know this whole thing was Newt's idea, you could have guessed.
Cain largely deferred to Gingrich, perhaps because he didn't seem to grasp all the technical details under discussion -- at one point, when asked whether he thought Medicare should be based on a "defined benefit" or a "premium support" model, he repeated, "Defined...", trailed off, rubbed his chin and concluded, "You go first, Newt." (Gingrich was happy to comply.) He mostly spoke in generalities and made sure to get in a plug for "9-9-9."
"We as a nation are not short on good ideas for how to fix Social Security, how to fix Medicare," Cain said at one point. "What we are short on is the ability to educate people on the solutions." The president, he said, must use "that particular bully pulpit" to be "communicator in chief."
There was no mention of the scandal Cain has been embroiled in for the past week as past accusations of sexual harassment against him have surfaced. But he seemed to allude to it at the end, when Gingrich asked him what had most surprised him about running for president.
"The nitpickiness of the media," he said. "I expected to have to work hard. I expected to have to study hard. But I did not realize the flyspecking nature of the media when you are running for president, especially when you start moving up in the polls."
Then it was Cain's turn to ask Gingrich a question. And Cain showed where his true talents lie: he may not be able to tell you the ins and outs of the Social Security trust fund, but he knows how to bring down the house.
"Mr. Speaker, if you were the vice president of the United States, what would you want the president to assign you to do first?" he said.
Gingrich cracked up, guffawing and wiping his eyes. "Well," he said, "having studied my good friend Dick Cheney, I would not go hunting."
People look to Amy Schumer and her fellow jokers not just to make fun of the world, but to make sense of it. And maybe even to help fix it.
This week, in a much-anticipated sketch on her Comedy Central show, Amy Schumer staged a trial of Bill Cosby in “the court of public opinion.” Schumer—her character, at any rate—played the role of the defense. “Let’s remind ourselves what’s at stake here,” she argued to the jury. “If convicted, the next time you put on a rerun of The Cosby Show you may wince a little. Might feel a little pang. And none of us deserve that. We don’t deserve to feel that pang.”
Her conclusion? “We deserve to dance like no one’s watching, and watch like no one’s raping.”
Ooof. This is the kind of thing that gets Inside Amy Schumer referred to as “the most feminist show on television,” and her act in general called, in a phrase that reveals as much about her craft as about Schumer herself, “comedy with a message.” But while Schumer’s work is operating at the vanguard of popular comedy, it’s also in line with the work being done by her fellow performers: jokes that tend to treat humor not just as an end in itself, but as a vehicle for making a point. Watch like no one’s raping.
For those who didn't go to prestigious schools, don't come from money, and aren't interested in sports and booze—it's near impossible to gain access to the best paying jobs.
As income inequality in the U.S. strikes historic highs, many people are starting to feel that the American dream is either dead or out of reach. Only 64 percent of Americans still believe that it’s possible to go from rags to riches, and, in another poll, 63 percent said they did not believe their children would be better off than they were. These days, the idea that anyone who works hard can become wealthy is at best a tough sell.
What it’s like to watch a komodo dragon get dissected
Try to imagine how hard it would be to skin a Komodo dragon.
It is harder than that.
The problem is that the giant lizard’s hide is not just tough and leathery, but also reinforced. Many of the scales contain a small nugget of bone, called an osteoderm, which together form a kind of pointillist body armor. Sawing through these is tough on both arms and blades.
I’m at the Royal Veterinary College, about 20 kilometers outside of central London, watching four biologists put their shoulders into the task. A Komodo dragon, which recently died in London Zoo for unexplained reasons, lies on a steel gurney in front of them. Their task, over the next three days, is to dissect it and measure all of its muscles. So, first, the skin must come off.
There are two types of people in the world: those with hundreds of unread messages, and those who can’t relax until their inboxes are cleared out.
For some, it’s a spider. For others, it’s an unexpected run-in with an ex. But for me, discomfort is a dot with a number in it: 1,328 unread-message notifications? I just can’t fathom how anyone lives like that.
How is it that some people remain calm as unread messages trickle into their inboxes and then roost there unattended, while others can’t sit still knowing that there are bolded-black emails and red-dotted Slack messages? I may operate toward the extreme end of compulsive notification-eliminators, but surveys suggest I’m not alone: One 2012 study found that 70 percent of work emails were attended to within six seconds of their arrival.
This has led me to a theory that there are two types of emailers in the world: Those who can comfortably ignore unread notifications, and those who feel the need to take action immediately.
Caves and tunnels have always been part of human life.
Caves and tunnels have always been part of human life. We've grown more adept at shaping these underground shelters and passages over the millennia, and today we dig for hundreds of reasons. We excavate to find both literal and cultural treasures, digging mines and unearthing archaeological discoveries. We use caverns for stable storage, for entertainment, and for an effective shelter from natural and man-made disasters. And as the planet's surface becomes ever more crowded, and national borders are closed, tunnels provide pathways for our vehicles and for smugglers of every kind. Collected below are more recent subterranean scenes from around the world.
The danger of uploading one’s consciousness to a computer without a suicide switch
Imagine a supercomputer so advanced that it could hold the contents of a human brain. The Google engineer Ray Kurzweil famously believes that this will be possible by 2045. Organized technologists are seeking to transfer human personalities to non-biological carriers, “extending life, including to the point of immortality.” My gut says that they’ll never get there. But say I’m wrong. Were it possible, would you upload the contents of your brain to a computer before death, extending your conscious moments on this earth indefinitely? Or would you die as your ancestors did, passing into nothingness or an unknown beyond human comprehension?
The promise of a radically extended lifespan, or even immortality, would tempt many. But it seems to me that they’d be risking something very much like hell on earth.
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
A song from 2011 is causing controversy now, proving how slowly the genre’s attitudes about women are evolving.
The rapper Action Bronson, whose major-label debut came out recently, is mostly known for his love of food, his large frame, and the fact that he sounds so much like Ghostface Killah that even Ghostface Killah gets confused sometimes. He will likely now be known by more people for one particular lyric of his, due to a headline-making petition asking Toronto’s NXNE music festival to kick the artist off the bill because, in its words, he “glorifies gang-raping and murdering women.”
The lyrics in question come from the 2011 song, “Consensual Rape,” which has a verse that mentions giving a girl MDMA and then having very rough sex with her. The petition also calls out a 2011 music video that portrays Bronson happily disposing of a woman’s corpse.
We're all going to die and we all know it. This can be both a burden and a blessing.
In the heart of every parent lives the tightly coiled nightmare that his child will die. It might spring at logical times—when a toddler runs into the street, say—or it might sneak up in quieter moments. The fear is a helpful evolutionary motivation for parents to protect their children, but it's haunting nonetheless.
The ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus advised parents to indulge that fear. “What harm is it, just when you are kissing your little child, to say: Tomorrow you will die?”he wrote in his Discourses.
Some might say Epictetus was an asshole. William Irvine thinks he was on to something.
“The Stoics had the insight that the prospect of death can actually make our lives much happier than they would otherwise be,” he says. “You’re supposed to allow yourself to have a flickering thought that someday you’re going to die, and someday the people you love are going to die. I’ve tried it, and it’s incredibly powerful. Well, I am a 21st-century practicing Stoic.”
Reforms were slow to take hold in Cincinnati, but when they did, they drove down crime while also reducing arrests.
CINCINNATI—Citizens were throwing stones and beer bottles at police officers in front of City Hall, and Maris Herold didn’t understand what they wanted.
She was a police officer herself, and knew that her department had made some missteps. Most recently, an officer gunned down a 19-year-old unarmed black man, Timothy Thomas—the fifteenth black man to die at the hands of police in five years.
But, Herold knew, the police were investigating the incident. They were listening to the community. They were working 12-hour shifts to protect the city from looting and fires, though the disturbance would soon turn into the worst riots in the U.S. in a decade.
“I was like, ‘We’re doing everything right, obviously the police officers made mistakes and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it,’” she told me recently. Herold, who joined the police force after a career in social work, couldn’t understand what more the police could do to make amends with the community.