Scientists love president Obama so much they’ve named nine different animals after him — Quartz

Many Americans are going to miss US president Barack Obama when he vacates the White House. Days after the 2016 election, his approval rating was its highest since 2009. Scientists have also wanted to express their gratitude to the 44th president, and have done so in the best way they can: By immortalizing him in…

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Volkswagen is changing its official language from German to English — Quartz {English is the language of globalization. Other than struggling for the next century against Mandarin, Spanish, German, French and Arabic, I predict it will be the main language of the world by 2200}

Nearly 80 years ago, in May 1937, the German government, under the control of Adolf Hitler, started a car company in the city of Wolfsburg. The goal was to create an affordable vehicle for regular folks—for about $140—and the company was called Volkswagen. Since then, VW has grown into a giant international corporation, with a…

via Volkswagen is changing its official language from German to English — Quartz

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Pipeline Uncertainty Illustrates Broader Concerns for Tribes — Fortune {do not expect Trump to be conciliatory}

For hundreds of protesters, it was cause to cheer when the Obama administration this month declined to issue an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline’s final segment. But that elation was dampened by the uncertainty of what comes next: a Donald Trump-led White House that might be far less attuned to issues affecting Native Americans.…

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Thousands Evacuate German Town on Christmas Morning After World War II Bomb Is Found — TIME {Apparently there are still many not accounted for}

(FRANKFURT, Germany) — Thousands of people in the southern German city of Augsburg have left Christmas presents and decorations behind, forced to evacuate while authorities disarm a large World War II aerial bomb. The bomb was uncovered last week during construction work in the city’s historic central district. Police say Christmas Day is the best…

via Thousands Evacuate German Town on Christmas Morning After World War II Bomb Is Found — TIME

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Review: Apple’s AirPod Wireless Earbuds Are Almost Perfect — Fortune

The good: Easy setup, comfortable, Automatically pauses music when you remove a budThe bad: Expensive, Looks awkward when you’re wearing them, Limited playback controlsWho should buy: Apple fans willing to splurge on tangle-free earbuds When Apple launched the iPhone 7 this year, one controversial move stood out: The Cupertino, Calif.’s flagship smartphone no longer features…

via Review: Apple’s AirPod Wireless Earbuds Are Almost Perfect — Fortune

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The Russian Methbot Scam Is Just the Tip of the Ad Fraud Iceberg — Fortune

In what appears to be the largest digital advertising scam in history, a group of Russian hackers reportedly built a click-fraud machine that stole up to $5 million daily from top advertisers and publishers. But even that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online ad fraud. Estimates are that billions…

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Daniel R. Cobb: Donald Trump and Nuclear Weapons Don’t Mix — Vox Populi

A Trump Presidency is a Clear and Present Danger Donald Trump is not mentally well. We’ve witnessed him for years now, exhibiting behaviors that are much more child-like than adult. Three leading professors of psychiatry have written to President Obama expressing their urgent concerns that Trump is deeply afflicted with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, an extremely […]

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Donald Trump Named Vincent Viola, a Florida Hockey Team Owner, as Secretary of the Army — Fortune

President-elect Donald Trump has picked Vincent Viola, a New York businessman, West Point graduate and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team, as his secretary of the Army. In a statement Monday, Trump praised Viola, the son of Italian immigrants, as “living proof of the American dream” who has “long been engaged with national security…

via Donald Trump Named Vincent Viola, a Florida Hockey Team Owner, as Secretary of the Army — Fortune

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Homo Ludens: Where Did Play Go?

Since Huizinga’s book “Homo  Ludens” was published in the 60s, about extolling the virtues of a re-awakening of playful behaviour in all ages of humans – there is little evidence his book has had a lasting  effect.

Playfulness is primordial. Humans, like apes, have a predilection towards doing things just for playful, harmless fun.  But they also have predilections towards doing bad things just for revenge, the thrill of violence, testing the rules, ego needs, and because god or a voice told them to. Human existence has become a balancing act between these inclinations, with egregious and criminal acts more common in and among societies, certainly over at least the past 2-3,000 years.

So what does that suggest to us about the future of the species?

Stephen Pinker, in his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, (Viking Press, 2011), iterated the acts of despotism found  in such societies as the ancient Babylonians, Samoans, Aztecs, and “kingdoms throughout Africa.” He also stated that

“When it came to violence, then, the first Leviathans solved one problem but created another. People were less likely to become victims of homicide or casualties of war, but they were now under the thumbs of tyrants, clerics, and kleptocrats. This gives us the more sinister sense of the word pacification: not just the bringing about of peace but the imposition of absolute control by a coercive government. Solving this second problem would have to wait for another few millenia, and in much of the world it remains unsolved to this day.” (p. 58) Given this ‘trend’ Pinker defends boldly in his 780-page thesis, my current intuitions garnered from current academic journals and media depictions, tell me this application of guarded optimism is simply not true. It feels like humans are “going to hell in a hand basket”  with the types and amount of violence we see, e.g., the Middle East, Africa, homicide numbers in the United States, drug cartel violence, hegemonic sexual assaults, etc. Yet there are still those who claim “Studies have not been able to confirm a genetic contribution to [for example] violent crime.” (Prinz, p. 43, using 1984 data)

Other studies have shown the opposite, that we are ‘programmed’ to be war-like. In his study of self-deception Trivers  (The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and self-Deception in Human Life. 2011, Basic Books) expands on the ‘nature basis’ of violence, as he states “In both chimpanzees and our own lineage, primitive warfare – or raiding – was a male territorial strategy based on the coordinated murder of neighbouring males.” (p. 249) Self-deception, a natural and “sometimes necessary” behaviour, encourages warfare, especially at the group level.

Other authors have written about the hormonal basis for aggressive and violent behaviour, claiming for example, “Testosterone motivates agression [in males], while serotonin regulates the intensity of aggression. If testosterone levels are high, then the odds of a fight are high as well. serotonin may then act to reduce the chances of a fight by diminishing the tendency to strike out at the slightest provocation.” (Marc Hauser, Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong, 2006. Harper. p. 348-9).

A quick literature review will show you that there are many more studies about inherent aggressive and violent tendencies than peaceful, playful tendencies in human nature. This by itself, does not lead one to conclude we are more prone to aggressive behaviour; rather, it may be because we are naturally more curious about agressive, non-normal, and violent behaviour. TV shows blatantly support this conclusion, if we count the number that we watch or prefer to see, over comedies for instance. The interest we show in the plight of others is far greater than the interest we show in the successes of others. Death, injury and violence reign over life, vitality and having fun.

Can we turn this disturbing choice/instinct around? Perhaps. But it will require a social revolution by nurture over nature as never witnessed before. Behaviour modification works at the individual level, but it takes decades and even centuries to get it to work at the societal level. It begs the question, “Have we progressed at all?” We tend to believe democracy is one of the most workable signs of progress, as it plays out at all levels.

The jury is still out.

TL Hill, PhD

 

 

 

Climate Scientists Fear Trump May Fatally Undermine Their Work — TIME

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election shocked climate scientists and policymakers after a campaign in which Trump had suggested—falsely—that climate change was a hoax and vowed to largely undo federal and international measures aimed at addressing global warming. Nonetheless, climate advocates took solace in the days following the election, noting that the market forces…

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16 Men On The One Sweet Gesture They Enjoy Doing For Their Girlfriend — Thought Catalog

tortugaenfuego1. “Once a month I’ll go all out and cook her a big dinner so she doesn’t have to worry about it when she gets home. I never tell her what night I’m doing it, but I make sure she doesn’t have plans that night and she always walks into the kitchen surprised and happy.”…

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Hillary Clinton Says She Lost Because of James Comey and Vladimir Putin — TIME {This is probably true. I suspect Trump will get impeached in the end}

In a rare post-election speech, Hillary Clinton blamed FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin for her loss. “Swing-state voters made their decisions in the final days breaking against me because of the FBI letter from Director Comey,” Clinton said to donors Thursday night, the New York Times reports, referring to Comey’s announcement…

via Hillary Clinton Says She Lost Because of James Comey and Vladimir Putin — TIME

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