Today, Europe faces three converging crises that are ultimately about national borders, what they mean and who controls them. These crises appear distinct: Immigration from the Islamic world, the Greek economic predicament, and the conflict in Ukraine would seem to have little to do with each other. But in fact they all derive, in different ways, from the question of what borders mean.
Europe’s borders have been the foundation of both its political morality and its historical catastrophes. The European Enlightenment argued against multinational monarchies and for sovereign nation-states, which were understood to be the territories in which nations existed. Nations came to be defined as groupings of humans who shared a common history, language, set of values and religion — in short, a common culture into which they were born. These groups had the right of national self-determination, the authority to determine their style of government and the people who governed. Above all, these nations lived in a place, and that place had clear boundaries.
Imagine a soldier who can change the color and pattern of his camouflage uniform from woodland green to desert tan at will. Or an office worker who could do the same with his necktie. Is someone at the wedding reception wearing the same dress as you? No problem – switch yours to a different color in the blink of an eye.
By now, the idea that gut bacteria affects a person’s health is not revolutionary. Many people know that these microbes influence digestion, allergies, and metabolism. The trend has become almost commonplace: New books appear regularly detailing precisely which diet will lead to optimum bacterial health.
But these microbes’ reach may extend much further, into the human brains. A growing group of researchers around the world are investigating how the microbiome, as this bacterial ecosystem is known, regulates how people think and feel. Scientists have found evidence that this assemblage—about a thousand different species of bacteria, trillions of cells that together weigh between one and three pounds—could play a crucial role in autism, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.
Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore abandoned the organization in 1986, highlighting its abandonment of scientific objectivity in favor of political agendas:
By around the mid-1980s, when I left Greenpeace, the public had accepted most of the reasonable things we had been fighting for: stop the bomb, save the whales, stop toxic waste dumping into the earth, water, and air. Some, like myself, realized the job of creating mass awareness of the importance of the environment had been accomplished and it was time to move on from confrontation to sustainable development, seeking solutions. But others seemed bent on lifelong confrontation, ‘up against the man’ ‘smash capitalism’. . . .
In order to remain confrontational as society adopted all the reasonable demands, it was necessary for these anti-establishment lifers to adopt ever more extreme positions, eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in zero-tolerance policies.
The economic impact of violence, as calculated by the Institute for Economics and Peace, has reached US$14.3 trillion, which is equal to 13.4 % of global GDP.
Paranormal Activity is by far the biggest underdog success story, having been shot on a $15,000 budget with a home video camera in a single house. The Blair Witch Project — shot in a very similar manner to Paranormal Activity — unsurprisingly shows up in 3rd place. Tarnation holds the record of the highest-profit film that was produced with less than $250. Incredibly, E.T. still shows up in the top 25 on this list despite its $10.5 million budget. Talk about a box office success!
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have managed to build a fully functional neuron by using organic bioelectronics. This artificial neuron contain no ‘living’ parts, but is capable of mimicking the function of a human nerve cell and communicate in the same way as our own neurons do.
Language is one of our most powerful metaphors – its ubiquity hides its particularity. Many things are considered to be ‘like language’. Music is one, mathematics another, chemistry a very close third. Such statements grab onto a few similarities and invite us to ponder whether the differences are really so significant after all. The similarities are sometimes so overwhelming that we slip from simile to metaphor: chemistry is not ‘like language,’ it is a language.
Europe is at risk, we are told. Russia’s assault on Ukraine threatens the post-Cold War order. Moscow may follow up with similar attacks on Moldova and even such NATO members as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
But no one in Europe seems to care. Even the countries supposedly in Vladimir Putin’s gun sites aren’t much concerned. No one is bolstering their military. And the European people oppose taking any military risks to help their neighbors.