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Hooman Noorchashm
Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD is a physician-scientist. He is an advocate for ethics, patient safety and women’s health. He and his 6 children live in Pennsylvania.

As the president of the United States is nonchalantly dangling the free world on the brink of nuclear war with his careless rhetoric and as he approaches racism and supremacist terrorism with a gentle touch, at best — it’s worth mechanistically dissecting what actually is and how it has evolved.

To be clear, this is the perspective of a private citizen with no specialized expertise as an historian or philosopher. But, my being a citizen with relatively recent immigrant roots, who witnessed the scourge of democratic tyranny threaten democratic power itself, and as a doctor, husband and father, who was pulled into an inevitable war with corporate utilitarianism in America, the reader might find this perspective of interest.

I start by stating that two of the most powerful intellectual and social forces responsible for the growth and advancement of human civilization are and .

Over the past century, this duo has fueled the into a level of frenzied innovation and creativity leading to health, wealth and technological advancement for vast numbers of people around the globe — with America in the lead. So it’s worth considering the strengths and weaknesses of this trifecta driving human advancement — Utilitarianism, Democracy and the Free-markets. For in every powerful machine, an Achilles heel lurks, to be sure — And America’s Achilles heel must be defined and well shielded from her foes.

It is a foregone conclusion that the dawn of democracy brought about the era of individual self-determination in government. Indeed, the dawn of democracy was a formative moment in the history of human progress and freedom. Yet, despite every individual’s opinion being weighed, democracies ultimately yield governing power to the will of the majority.

It is no surprise then that the rise of democracy naturally promotes the rise of utilitarianism as a socio-ethical construct driving social behavior. That is, the ideas, policies and products that “benefit the majority” or are “preferred by the majority” (i.e., utilitarian ones) are considered good.

Of course, from a market perspective, there is no greater stimulus to trade and economics than products and services that are perceived as being good for the majority, and are thus purchased for consumption. And as such majority-centered markets create movement and wealth, they also create an ever-increasing number of utilitarian choices for consumers — because there is money to be made and power to be had in “beneficial” products and services.

So it is that western societies have evolved into utilitarian democracies with vibrant free-markets. And the result has been an explosion of human capacity and wealth beyond anything imaginable a few hundred years ago.

But in such a social construct, what becomes of those citizens who do not end up in the majority subset? What becomes of the ones who are not the beneficiaries of utilitarian products and policies — or might even be those harmed or constrained by these products of utilitarianism? At an extreme, do these minorities conform or change their ways? Do they die? Are they eliminated? Are they ignored? Or are they respected and retained? Are they tolerated? Are they nourished to health or are they neglected?

The answer to the above questions occupies the realm of ethics and justice. And these disciplines are the domain of the learned, the just, the altruistic, the empathic and the wise. Because at a fundamental level democracy is not sustainable unless its governing body is capable of treating those it rules, both the majority and the minority, justly. For if a democracy is not constrained by the principles of justice, wherein every human life is sacrosanct and worthy of protection and equal opportunity, it will ultimately self-destruct. Because, without the constraints of justice, democracy inevitably eliminates all dissent and promotes a maximally homogeneous and rigid society incapable of adapting and responding to anything but its own perceptions and expectation. A democracy not constrained by the principles of ethics and justice for every citizen is nothing more than a self-destructive mob that will eventually bring autocratic tyranny to power.

But it is also a fundamental truth that living by the principles of justice and having the spiritual capacity to sanctify the worth of all individuals is a tall order. These are arcane abilities that require a societal commitment to strong public education, civility in all quarters, and a profound theological grounding.

It is likely that the founding fathers of the American republic understood this latter concept after they won their struggle to separate from Britain’s utilitarian aristocracy of the time. So they designed a federal republic whose constitution attempts to constrain the democracy to within the confines of justice for all.

In theory such a federal republic was designed to keep utilitarianism in moral check — in order that a just nation be able to evolve. For it is the interplay between utilitarianism and the free market that creates the wealth of nations. And, in as much as wealth controls the impulses of the democracy, the wealth created by utilitarianism itself ought to be constrained by the principles of justice to be .

If utilitarian constructs are guided solely by the drive to profit, without regard for the principles of justice, that ought to protect both the majority and the minority from avoidable harm, then the integrity of the democracy itself will be threatened. For a democracy without justice will turn into a rigid society incapable of evolution, democracy itself will be meaningless in such a state — and its wealth will inevitably be .

When a democracy is constrained by the principles of justice for all, when past battles fought and won for justice are not ignored, and when utilitarianism is guided by empathy, altruism and ethical conduct, then diversity is preserved, lives are protected, and the democratic process becomes vibrant — then, and only then is created in an unassailable manner by the sane interplay between democracy, utilitarianism and the free markets.

We live in times when our soaring wealth has deviated our democracy’s utilitarianism well into an immoral space, where the flow of money seems to be the prime driver of our democracy’s actions. Businesses and corporations and their success in generating revenue and profit for investors rule hearts and minds. More importantly, in our contemporary era when many principles of justice and of human rights have been delineated and fought for, to claim an and perspective on justice is simply delusional thinking. Because at a time when so many injustices have been defined clearly, claiming the position without a proper historic understanding of the battles fought and won on the side of justice, is not radically different from taking the immoral position itself— as is well said and well known, “all it takes for great evil to take hold is for a few good men to stand silent”.

The amoral/immoral utilitarianism that dominantly governs today’s corporate ethos is a threat to the very fabric of our democracy — because it comfortably permits the override of under the rubric of “majority benefit” and “consumer choice”. By so doing, immoral utilitarianism threatens the abolition of democracy, by turning it on itself. And at it’s extreme this force will lead to a robust form of fascism brought on by an immoral/amoral populism.

It is a near certainty that when immoral utilitarianism takes hold of a democracy’s psyche, and when the principles of justice and individual human sanctity erode in the minds of the citizenry, no republican construct in the law will be sufficient to rein in its corrosive power. Indeed, immoral utilitarianism will ultimately incapacitate the law itself by giving wings to a volatile and money hungry mob ignorant of its own self-destructive fate in the name of democracy, populism, nationalism or jobs and wealth. But none of these are the same thing as a healthy democracy.

When a lust for wealth and materialism, among both the haves and the have-nots, ignites immoral utilitarianism in a democracy — a republic designed to legally constrain the democracy based on the principle of will be no match.

The trump presidency signifies the rise of immoral utilitarianism in the American democracy (i.e., trumpism). And the republic’s legal construct is no match for the force of immoral utilitarianism in our democracy. The foes of the American republic recognized this Achilles heel and have already delivered what might be a fatal blow by ushering trumpism into the Oval Office. And every day that trumpism purges our republic’s federal offices of wisdom, knowledge, empathy, courage and altruism our democracy will be one step closer to a homogeneity, rigidity and tyranny incompatible with evolution and progress — and our constitutional republic is one step closer to meeting its demise.

The only tangible solution to the deranged state of current affairs is for people of integrity, civility and moral courage to empathically adhere to the principles of justice for all — And to work actively towards reclaiming a majority voice in our republic’s democracy. Perhaps it is not a foregone conclusion for America to behave exceptionally again — and to remain the beacon of hope and justice in the world. For now, is anything but — and, as such, it represents a clear and present danger to America’s democratic republic.

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With long, silvery leaves and strikingly attractive blooms, the artichoke is a unique addition to your vegetable garden. Growing artichokes isn’t difficult, and with the proper planting, watering and pruning, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of edible chokes.

What is an Artichoke?

Many people think of thistles as prickly weeds, and no gardener wants a weed in their vegetable garden. But the artichoke, scientifically known as Cynara scolymus, proves that not all thistles are a nuisance. Eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans, this member of the thistle family has been cultivated as a gourmet food for centuries.

Where do artichokes grow? Although the artichoke isn’t traditionally a hugely popular plant in the United States, it can actually be grown in almost all US growing zones. Artichoke growing zones range from Zones 3-11, while artichokes grow as perennials in Zones 7-11. Colder zone gardeners can still grow artichokes, but only as annual vegetables. Most of the plant is edible, but the portion usually eaten is the immature flower bud in the center, formed before the artichoke blooms.

Steps to Growing Artichokes

Members of the thistle family are known for their ability to grow in almost any location. Because artichokes require lots of room and a long growing season, how to grow artichokes and achieve large harvests is a primary concern for many growers.

How to Trim an Artichoke

Trimming an artichoke is not difficult once you understand the process. Artichokes require just a bit of work after harvest to become edible.

Types of Artichoke Plants

The many different varieties of artichokes mean you can choose the perfect variety for your garden. Some of the most popular types of artichoke include:

Artichoke Growing FAQs

Common Pests and Diseases for Artichokes

While overwhelmingly hardy plants, gardeners should be on the alert for a few of the following common pests and diseases for artichokes.

When is Artichoke Growing Season?

The artichoke season depends on your climate and variety. In the extremely warm coastal areas of Zones 9-11, artichokes grow throughout the winter and begin bud growth in May. Harvest continues into mid-June. In the mid-range zones of the country, artichokes live through winter under the soil and begin new growth once the ground begins to warm in the spring. Annual artichokes can be transplanted into the garden after the last frost.

What Growing Zone is Ideal for Artichokes?

Artichokes thrive in areas with mild winters, cool summers and plenty of moisture. As a perennial, artichokes perform well in hardiness Zones 7-11. Colder zone gardeners can grow artichokes as an annual vegetable or over-winter their perennial varieties in a sheltered area.

Can You Transplant Artichokes?

Transplanting artichokes is the ideal method of planting. Artichoke seeds are usually only 80% true to their parent plant. Transplants from indoor starts or dividing ensures you grow exactly what you want.

The Difference Between Artichoke Bushes and Trees

While mature artichoke plants do have a somewhat bushy appearance, there actually is no such thing as an artichoke bush or an artichoke tree. The artichoke is a member of the thistle family and grows large stalks with edible buds that are widely used in culinary dishes around the world.

How Long Does It Take to Grow Artichokes?

Perennial varieties of artichokes usually begin budding in their second year of growth. In ideal growing conditions – such as the coastal areas of California – artichoke plants produce buds throughout the entire year. For the rest of the country, buds begin to appear in early summer. The center bud matures the fastest, followed by the side buds for the rest of the growing season. Most artichoke plants reach harvest in 85 to 100 days.

How to Tell if an Artichoke is Ripe

Size is the primary way to tell if an artichoke is ripe. The central choke bud should be harvested when it is between 3 to 5 inches in diameter. If you wait too long, the artichoke becomes tough. The secondary side buds are best harvested when between 1 to 3 inches in size. If you wait too long to harvest, the bud will open into the artichoke flower – a surprisingly fragrant and beautiful flower.

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The study: Giles Story attached electrodes that would deliver electric shocks to the hands of 35 subjects, inflicting minor pain that ranged from a slight buzz to something that felt like a strong insect bite. The subjects got to choose between receiving milder shocks after an interval as long as 15 minutes or stronger shocks more immediately. Most subjects opted to receive the more-intense stimuli right away rather than experience the dread of waiting for less intense ones.

The study:

The challenge: Is the expectation of pain worse than the actual pain itself? Should we meet the unpleasant head-on, and just get it over with? Dr. Story, defend your research.

The challenge:

Story: A full 70% of the time our subjects opted to receive more-painful shocks right away rather than wait for less painful shocks in the near future. We infer from this that dread—the anticipation of negative outcomes—is a powerful force. But how powerful? We were trying to measure dread. And we think these findings show that dread is so painful that people will pay a significant price, in the form of more physical pain, to avoid it.

HBR: First things first. You’re jolting people with electricity? What kind of twisted lab do you run?

[Laughs.] I assure you this is very controlled and quite benign—we don’t jolt people. We used mildly painful electric shocks, on the back of the hand. And everyone who participates obviously agrees to it. It’s actually a common technique in research that looks at how to treat chronic pain.

And was the amount of pain subjects chose much higher than what they would have gotten by deferring it?

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