The next primary contest after Florida is shaping up to be a confusing mess -- and one billionaire is getting a very special accommodation.
Updated 7:25 p.m.
If you thought the confusion surrounding the Iowa caucuses was bad, wait until you see Nevada.
When the traveling Republican circus moves on after Tuesday's Florida primary, it will head for the Silver State -- giving Newt Gingrich's most generous backer, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a chance to cast a vote for his candidate.
But with the caucuses scheduled for a Saturday morning, Adelson, an observant Jew, originally would not have been able to participate. So, largely at his urging, the state's Republicans will hold a special extra caucus, hours after the rest of the state has finished voting and reporting its totals.
In case the symbolism wasn't clear enough, the extra caucus, scheduled for 7 p.m. Pacific time, is being held at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus, an Adelson-funded private school in Las Vegas.
Party officials insist that's just a coincidence, but insiders say without the influence of Adelson, a generous donor to local candidates and causes, the rogue caucus almost certainly would not exist.
Here's how it is supposed to work, according to a conference call with Nevada GOP officials Friday afternoon. Nevada has 17 counties, but more than half the Republican voters are in Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas.
Each county was allowed to set its own caucus procedures this year, leading to a divergent array of start times and rules across the state. Some precincts will open their doors as early as 8 a.m.; others won't get under way until noon. But all must wrap up the action by 3 p.m.
At 5 p.m., the party will publicly announce the results of the caucuses for the 16 smaller counties. (Since these results will have been announced at the precinct level, the campaigns and media likely will already have a sense by then.)
At 7 p.m., just as the special evening caucus is getting under way, the results for the rest of Clark County will be announced.
Needless to say, this is not a normal way to run an election. Even the Iowa caucuses, for all their flaws, started at the same appointed hour across the state. Four years ago, Nevada's GOP caucuses, which drew 44,000 voters, all commenced promptly at 9 a.m.
The bizarre arrangement leaves the door open to all kinds of campaign hijinks. Party officials say attendees at the evening caucus will have to sign an affidavit swearing that they didn't already vote earlier, and their names will be checked against the voter rolls. Officials expect about 500 to attend the evening caucus, and while it is meant to accommodate those who observe a Saturday sabbath, such as Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists, the party won't "police" that requirement, executive director David Gallagher said on Friday's conference call.
Supporters of Ron Paul, who has a well-organized campaign in Nevada, have complained bitterly about the situation, which they believe will allow Adelson to somehow rig the caucus results in favor of Gingrich.
"This is all happening because Sheldon Adelson feels like he needs to intervene and cause chaos," said Carl Bunce, Nevada chairman of the Paul campaign. He likened the situation to allowing absentee balloting after an election has already ended.
Gallagher said the school's selection as a caucus site came before the Adelsons dumped $10 million into the Winning Our Future super PAC's scorched-earth effort on behalf of Gingrich, and that the school does not belong to the Adelsons, though they donated $25 million to build it and are expected to show up to vote there.
"It just happened to be Sheldon's name on the building," he said. "Sheldon doesn't own it. It's a school that has his name on it."
Other party regulars wonder why Jewish voters couldn't simply participate in the absentee balloting system the party set up to accommodate active-duty military personnel. But the party officials on Friday's conference call downplayed the situation, saying the evening caucus was the best way to accommodate the most voters.
For the Nevada Republican Party, which caved to pressure from New Hampshire and moved its contest from third to fifth on the calendar, the result seems likely to be an embarrassing mess that satisfies no one but gives everyone reason to complain. (One insider called the state party "a bad idea machine.")
But the party's chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian, professed Friday to be ecstatic about the arrangements. "I could not be any more happier than I am right now," she said.
“Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.”
You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.
At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, you’d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteable—as alive in the digital world—as web pages.
By antagonizing the U.S.’s neighbor to the south, Donald Trump has made the classic bully’s error: He has underestimated his victim.
When Donald Trump first made sport of thumping Mexico—when he accused America’s neighbor of exporting rapists and “bad hombres,” when he deemed the country such a threat that it should be contained by a wall and so clueless that it could be suckered into paying for its own encasement—its president responded with strange equilibrium. Enrique Peña Nieto treated the humiliation like a meteorological disturbance. Relations with the United States would soon return to normal, if only he grinned his way through the painful episode.
In August, Peña Nieto invited Trump to Mexico City, based on the then-contrarian notion that Trump might actually become president. Instead of branding Trump a toxic threat to Mexico’s well-being, he lavished the Republican nominee with legitimacy. Peña Nieto paid a severe, perhaps mortal, reputational cost for his magnanimity. Before the meeting, former President Vicente Fox had warned Peña Nieto that if he went soft on Trump, history would remember him as a “traitor.” In the months following the meeting, his approval rating plummeted, falling as low as 12 percent in one poll—which put his popularity on par with Trump’s own popularity among Mexicans. The political lesson was clear enough: No Mexican leader could abide Trump’s imprecations and hope to thrive. Since then, the Mexican political elite has begun to ponder retaliatory measures that would reassert the country’s dignity, and perhaps even cause the Trump administration to reverse its hostile course. With a presidential election in just over a year—and Peña Nieto prevented by term limits from running again—vehement responses to Trump are considered an electoral necessity. Memos outlining policies that could wound the United States have begun flying around Mexico City. These show that Trump has committed the bully’s error of underestimating the target of his gibes. As it turns out, Mexico could hurt the United States very badly.
Tracking the controversies, allegations, and investigations into the president and his administration
Donald Trump entered the White House as one of the most scandal-tarred presidents in American history—what his imbroglios may have lacked in depth, they made up in variety, encompassing legal, ethical, and sexual controversies. (In a twist, one of Trump’s few competitors for the crown was his rival, Hillary Clinton.) They ranged from race discrimination to mafia connections, from petty hypocrisies to multimillion-dollar alleged frauds.
Now that Trump is president, some of those controversies have continued to shadow him. But the presidency has also occasioned a whole new set of disputes. Looming largest is the question of whether his campaign colluded with Russian agents to interfere in the election, a question being investigated by the FBI as well as panels in both houses of Congress. They also include ethical and legal questions surrounding members of his cabinet, his allegation that Barack Obama spied on him before the election, and various conflicts of interest.
The early results out of a Boston nonprofit are positive.
You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory.
When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways.
After a quiet start, the demonstrators grew louder as they drew closer to Capitol Hill—mirroring the long arc of the protest itself.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—They marched for science, and at first, they did so quietly. On Saturday, as thousands of people started streaming eastward from the Washington Monument, in a river of ponchos and umbrellas, the usual raucous chants that accompany such protests were rarely heard and even more rarely continued. “Knowledge is power; it’s our final hour,” said six enthusiastic people—to little response. “What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!” shouted another pocket of marchers—for about five rounds.
Scientists are not a group to whom activism comes easily or familiarly. Most have traditionally stayed out of the political sphere, preferring to stick to their research. But for many, this historical detachment ended with the election of Donald Trump.
Will you pay more for those shoes before 7 p.m.? Would the price tag be different if you lived in the suburbs? Standard prices and simple discounts are giving way to far more exotic strategies, designed to extract every last dollar from the consumer.
As Christmas approached in 2015, the price of pumpkin-pie spice went wild. It didn’t soar, as an economics textbook might suggest. Nor did it crash. It just started vibrating between two quantum states. Amazon’s price for a one-ounce jar was either $4.49 or $8.99, depending on when you looked. Nearly a year later, as Thanksgiving 2016 approached, the price again began whipsawing between two different points, this time $3.36 and $4.69.
We live in the age of the variable airfare, the surge-priced ride, the pay-what-you-want Radiohead album, and other novel price developments. But what was this? Some weird computer glitch? More like a deliberate glitch, it seems. “It’s most likely a strategy to get more data and test the right price,” Guru Hariharan explained, after I had sketched the pattern on a whiteboard.
Inside Walmart’s curious, possibly ingenious effort to get customers to build up their savings accounts
Late last summer, Dawn Paquin started keeping her money on a prepaid debit card from Walmart instead of in a traditional checking account. The wages from her factory job—she works from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., inspecting blades on industrial bread-slicing machines—now go directly onto the Visa-branded card, which she can use like a regular debit card, though unlike most debit cards, it is not linked to a checking or savings account. She made the switch after a $4 check she wrote to buy coffee for herself and a friend tipped her checking account below the required minimum and triggered $100 in overdraft fees.
This was before she got the factory gig, and she wasn’t working full-time. Paquin lives in Salem, Illinois, where, she told me recently, if you don’t have a college degree, your job choices are “fast food or factory.” Money was extremely tight. “I kind of had a bit of resentment about banks after that,” she said dryly.
In the age of the digital hermit, a psychologist explains what it means to avoid other people—and what to do about it.
People today might not actually be avoiding social interaction any more than they did in past decades, but they’re certainly more vocal about it. The rise of digital communication seems to be spawning a nation of indoor cats, all humble-bragging about how introverted they are and ordering their rides and groceries without ever talking to a human.
Sometimes reclusiveness can be a sign of something more serious, though. Social anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, but it’s still poorly understood outside of scientific circles. The good news is that it’s highly treatable, according to Stefan G. Hofmann, the director of the Social Anxiety Program at Boston University.
I recently talked with Hofmann about how social anxiety works and what people who feel socially anxious can do about it. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.
If girls were allowed to accelerate through school, then perhaps their peak career- and family-building years would not overlap.
Jane Charlton never intended to skip high school.
“I was planning on just skipping ninth grade,” says the renowned astrophysicist, who spent her summers taking calculus classes at Carnegie Mellon University. “But when the school year was about to start, the teachers went on strike and my math professor said, ‘Why don't you just start here?’”
Three years later, Charlton received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics. She headed for the University of Chicago, where she earned her master’s at 19, and her Ph.D. at 22. By the time Charlton had her first child, in her late 20s, she was a tenured professor at Pennsylvania State University, where she maps the universe and charts the history of evolving galaxies.