Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018 | The Atlantic


“The U.S. is now the most unpredictable actor in the world today, and that has caused profound unease,” said Paul Stares, the director of CFR’s Center for Preventive Action, which produces the annual survey.

“You used to be able to pretty much put the U.S. to one side and hold it constant, and look at the world and consider where the biggest sources of unpredictability, insecurity are. Now you have to include the U.S. in that. … No one has high confidence how we [Americans] would react in any given situation, given how people assess this president.”

This president might welcome the development. “I don’t want people to know exactly what I’m doing—or thinking,” Donald Trump wrote in 2015. “It keeps them off balance.”

Source: Global Conflicts to Watch in 2018 – The Atlantic

Science in flux: is a revolution brewing in evolutionary theory? | Aeon Essays


If you are not a biologist, you’d be forgiven for being confused about the state of evolutionary science.

Modern evolutionary biology dates back to a synthesis that emerged around the 1940s-60s, which married Charles Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection with Gregor Mendel’s discoveries of how genes are inherited.

Some evolutionary biologists, myself included, are calling for a broader characterization of evolutionary theory, known as the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES).

A central issue is whether what happens to organisms during their lifetime – their development – can play important and previously unanticipated roles in evolution. The orthodox view has been that developmental processes are largely irrelevant to evolution, but the EES views them as pivotal. Protagonists with authoritative credentials square up on both sides of this debate, with big-shot professors at Ivy League universities and members of national academies going head-to-head over the mechanisms of evolution.

Some people are even starting to wonder if a revolution is on the cards.

Source: Science in flux: is a revolution brewing in evolutionary theory? | Aeon Essays

Despotism is all around us: the warnings of Montesquieu | Aeon Ideas


Montesquieu, the 18th-century French philosopher who brought the term ‘despotism’ into our political vocabulary, would not be surprised at the disjunction between the putative liberty of our society and the experience many have as the victims of irresponsible power within it.

In The Spirit of the Laws (1748), he shows that despotism is an ever-present danger and a persistent threat to human flourishing everywhere and always.

Even those fortunate to live outside the borders of a despotic government can still be victimized by despotic practices. In response, Montesquieu teaches that the unmasking of despotism must remain a central endeavor in social and political life.

To the extent that he is remembered at all today, Montesquieu is credited with being the inspiration for the theory of the separation of powers, those constitutional barriers to despotism that can, paradoxically, render us complacent as to our liberty.

The framers of the Constitution of the United States, in fact, termed him the ‘oracle’ of the separation of powers when drawing liberally from his political teachings.

Nevertheless, reflection on his writings reveals that despotism is a vastly more pervasive and intransigent phenomenon than individuals in so-called enlightened and free societies tend to believe.

Source: Despotism is all around us: the warnings of Montesquieu | Aeon Ideas

Post-American Europe and the new geopolitics


Thomas Wright, senior fellow in Foreign Policy and director of the Center on the United States and Europe, discusses the state of transatlantic relations and argues that it’s in U.S. interests to engage more with Europe.

He also discusses his book “All Measures Short of War,” analyzing the nature of geopolitical competition in the world today.

Source: Post-American Europe and the new geopolitics

How many dimensions are there, and what do they do to reality? | Aeon Essays


Over the past century, the quest to describe the geometry of space has become a major project in theoretical physics, with experts from Albert Einstein onwards attempting to explain all the fundamental forces of nature as byproducts of the shape of space itself.

While on the local level we are trained to think of space as having three dimensions, general relativity paints a picture of a four-dimensional universe, and string theory says it has 10 dimensions – or 11 if you take an extended version known as M-Theory.

There are variations of the theory in 26 dimensions, and recently pure mathematicians have been electrified by a version describing spaces of 24 dimensions.

But what are these ‘dimensions’?

And what does it mean to talk about a 10-dimensional space of being?

Source: How many dimensions are there, and what do they do to reality? | Aeon Essays

What Million-Dollar Entrepreneurs Taught Me About Freelance Writing


The U.S. Census Bureau found that 35,584 “nonemployer firms” – those with no employees except the owners – hit $1 million to $2.49 million a year in sales.

I found there were people hitting this level of revenue in businesses as varied as selling organic honey, marketing day-books on Amazon, training people how to cook healthier food in video courses, doing business consulting, and investing in small residential rental properties, to name a few.

Source: What Million-Dollar Entrepreneurs Taught Me About Freelance Writing

Inequality In Europe | Social Europe


Inequality is the defining issue of our time.

Inequality will be an important public policy issue for years to come and we hope this dossier will promote understanding of some of the underlying issues and inform the development of effective policy solutions. [DOWNLOAD]

Source: Inequality In Europe – Social Europe

Varoufakis: “Do not be Fooled, the Crisis is not Over and the Euro is in Jeopardy” | Novinite.com – Sofia News Agency


In it, the former Greek finance minister offers a unique view of the “kitchen” of Brussels and undoubtedly it is one of the books of 2017.

On the 700 “delicious” pages, he explains, guilt of some mistakes, and mostly arranges unfinished bills in a high-pitched prose, which sounds and flashes to the right and left. Varufakis uses poisonous language and has done a destructive analysis for Europe. “Do not be fooled, the crisis continues, the euro is in jeopardy,” he says in an interview with Pais.

“The most worrying,” according to the Greek, “is the low level of investment and rising differences in the eurozone.” Without investment and convergence, it is impossible to talk about the end of the crisis, Europe is still in crisis: 10 years after Lehman’s Brothers collapse, we are unable to strengthen the architecture of the euro, and this currency, contrary to the claims of its initiators, is a source of uncertainty: Europe is very rich and can hold this euro on its clay legs for some time but in a farther prospect, believe me, its shortcomings will come out light.”

Source: Varoufakis: “Do not be Fooled, the Crisis is not Over and the Euro is in Jeopardy” – Novinite.com – Sofia News Agency

Quantum cryptography is unbreakable. So is human ingenuity | Aeon Ideas


Public-key cryptography was invented by researchers at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – the British equivalent (more or less) of the US National Security Agency (NSA) – who wanted to protect communications between a large number of people in a security organization. Their work was classified, and the British government neither used it nor allowed it to be released to the public. The idea of electronic commerce apparently never occurred to them.

A few years later, academic researchers at Stanford and MIT rediscovered public-key systems. This time they were thinking about the benefits that widespread cryptography could bring to everyday people, not least the ability to do business over computers.

Source: Quantum cryptography is unbreakable. So is human ingenuity | Aeon Ideas

White House Staff Forced to Act Out Michael Wolff Book for Non-Reading President | The New Yorker


Donald J. Trump, legendary among U.S. Presidents for his aversion to reading, demanded on Thursday that members of his White House circle act out Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” in a command performance in the Oval Office.

Sources who sat through the private performance of “Fire and Fury” said that Sanders’s portrayal of Bannon was particularly impressive.

The President, who sat stone-faced as the spectacle unfolded, became increasingly angry and agitated, especially as he witnessed Kellyanne Conway’s scathingly sarcastic portrayal of herself.

Source: White House Staff Forced to Act Out Michael Wolff Book for Non-Reading President | The New Yorker