Politics and History

Mark Art, Not War

Is war inevitable? Leymah Gbowee loudly and strongly says no. And she’s got proof.More

Jaquet Droz automatons

Androids may seem like a modern idea, but there were life-size androids in the 18th century — beautiful robot women who could look around and even play the harpsichord. Historian Heidi Voskuhl tells this remarkable story.More

A light in the dark (from a phone)

Filmmaker Astra Taylor wants to reclaim the democratic potential of personal technology.More

Traveling into the phone

Doug Rushkoff believes personal technology is having an insidious effect on our relationship with time. He calls it “present shock.”More

American flag

If you want to know what a state-of-the-art election system looks like, you won't find it in the United States. Pippa Norris runs the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard and the University of Sidney, which monitors elections in 153 countries. She told Rehman Tungekar that most of our democratic neighbors do a better job.More

markets

Glen Weyl is an economist at Microsoft Research and he’s invented a whole new formula for collective decision making. It’s called quadratic voting — it sets up a marketplace where you can trade your vote, based on what you care about most.More

baby yawns

Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein makes the case for lowering the voting age considerably. Like, to birth.More

Fun outside on election day

Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University, tells us why citizens are more powerful than they think and how he's trying to reinvigorate the culture of voting — by making it more fun.More

Targeted person

Cathy O'Neil, data scientist and author of the blog mathbabe.org, warns that politicians are perilously close to being able to tell voters only what they want to hear.More

Consider that the average American voter doesn't understand basic political facts like who their local representatives are. Should they still be allowed to vote? Philosopher Jason Brennan makes the case for an epistocracy: the rule of the knowledgeable.More

Fire eating

For decades, Todd Robbins has been entertaining audiences with his sideshow act, first at Coney Island and later with several off-Broadway shows. He demonstrated a few tricks of his trade.More

Ferris wheel

At one point there were more than 1,500 amusement parks across America. Historian Lauren Rabinovitz says they helped ease the country into a period of rapid technological change.More

Super punch.

After spending time with a real-life superhero in Seattle called Phoenix Jones, author Jon Ronson wonders if people like him can actually fight crime.More

ruined boats

There’s a lot of scientific debate about the future of climate change. But have you ever considered the worst case scenario? David Wallace-Wells gives us one terrifying glimpse into the future.More

revolutionary soldier

In the final volume of Laurie Halse Anderson's “Seeds of America” trilogy, white colonists everywhere can be heard talking about liberty and freedom – just not for African Americans. More

shame sad face sign

Can shame also be used for public good?  There’s a judge in Texas who’s famous for his creative – and controversial – shame-based sentences.  To hear how they work, let’s go back to Thanksgiving evening, 1996. Houston, Texas. More

Giant inflatable rat in front of Wells Fargo

Maybe shame – painful as it is – has some value. Maybe it’s not just an emotion, but a social tool. Jennifer Jacquet thinks that there’s an upside to shame. More

adults playing with Lego

Mary Kay Zuravleff's Dangerous Idea? Universal Recess.More

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