Humanity

Since the Second World War, scientists have understood the human brain as a predictive machine. Is that still a useful metaphor?   

The machine they built is hungry. As far back as 2016, Facebook’s engineers could brag that their creation ‘ingests trillions of data points every day’ and produces ‘more than 6 million predictions per second’. Undoubtedly Facebook’s prediction engines are even more potent now, making relentless conjectures about your brand loyalties, your cravings, the arc of…

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Pirate publishers saturated the market, then filled their warehouses with unsaleable stock. The result? The publishing crash of 1783

It is now 55 years since Robert Darnton first became aware of the vast archive of the Société typographique de Neuchâtel (STN), one of the principal suppliers of books to the French market in the late 18th century. It is fair to say that this happy combination of remarkable source material and Darnton’s analytical skill…

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    Time-lapse of a single cell transforming into a salamander

    You, me, the lemurs in the trees, the snakes in the desert, and the squid in the deep sea—all of us began as a single cell. From the largest creature that’s ever existed—the blue whale—to the inch-long bumblebee bat, each of us can rewind our existence to the same humble foundation. Amazingly, photographer and filmmaker…

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          REMINDER: Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice: Season Two

          Religion News Service (RNS) announces the launch of the second season of Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice with Simran Jeet Singh. During our first episode, on Wednesday January 27, 2020 at 3pmEST, Singh will talk with Lance Allred, the first legally deaf player in NBA history, an international inspirational speaker, author and TEDx star of…

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            New e-course teaches: Copy cats and achieve purrvana

            (RNS) — Like many people at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, Jon M. Sweeney welcomed new pets into his home: two kittens named Martin and Rosa, after civil rights leaders the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Sweeney — who is Catholic and married to a rabbi — has also found…

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                  How the US Civil War Influenced Music

                  Though music had become ubiquitous in American life even before the Civil War, the conflict between North and South launched it to new heights of importance.For the more than 3 million soldiers who joined the Union and Confederate armies from 1861-65, music provided a backdrop for their daily activities, lifted their spirits ahead of challenging…

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                    Some Black Southern Baptists feel shut out by white leaders

                    (AP) — As a student in college and seminary, then as a pastor in Texas, Dwight McKissic has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for more than 45 years. Now he’s pondering whether he and his congregation should break away. “It would feel like a divorce,” McKissic said. “That’s something I’ve never had, but…

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                      The Ghost Shirt Rituals: Preparing for the End of the World

                       Ishi, (c. 1861 –  1916), the last member of the Native American Yahi people, photographed as he was in 1911 when he came out of the woods. How did the Yahi react when they saw that the Whites were going to exterminate them? Perhaps not differently from the way we are reacting to the prospect…

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                        The Conflicted Legacy of the First Vice President of Color

                        While the election of Kamala Harris to vice president is historic, she isn’t the first person of color to hold the position. The first was actually Charles Curtis, who took office nearly a century ago. READ MORE: 7 Firsts in US Presidential Election HistoryCurtis was a member of the Kaw Nation who served as Herbert…

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                        Why All Drugs Should be Legal

                        The War on Drugs is a massive failure. As neuroscientist and Columbia University Professor Dr. Carl Hart writes in his latest book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, “the American taxpayer spends approximately $35 billion each year fighting this war, yet the drugs in question remain as plentiful, if not…

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                        Last acre

                        × Aeon email newsletters are issued by the not-for-profit, registered charity Aeon Media Group Ltd (Australian Business Number 80 612 076 614). This Email Newsletter Privacy Statement pertains to the personally identifying information you voluntarily submit in the form of your email address to receive our email newslettersMore generally, when visiting the Aeon site you…

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                        Broken Treaties With Native American Tribes: Timeline

                        Concluded during the nearly 100-year period from the Revolutionary War to the aftermath of the Civil War, some 368 treaties would define the relationship between the United States and Native Americans for centuries to come.The treaties were based on the fundamental idea that each tribe was an independent nation, with their own right to self-determination…

                        Chocolate’s Sweet History: From Elite Treat to Food for the Masses

                        Mankind’s love affair with chocolate stretches back more than five millennia. Produced from the seeds of tropical cacao trees native to the rainforests of Central and South America, chocolate was long considered the “food of the gods,” and later, a delicacy for the elite. But for most of its history, it was actually consumed as…

                        Beyond Sugar Hill

                        Linda Mannheim in conversation with Kit Caless. Kit Caless: Hi Linda, firstly congratulations on your shortlisting for the Edge Hill Prize! There are very few short story collection prizes out there, but lots of collections getting published (these days at least) — so it’s a wonderful achievement. Your first collection with Influx was called Above…

                        Capitol attack may complicate Biden’s plans for Middle East peace

                        (RNS) — A huge sign stating simply “JESUS 2020” filled TV screens around the world as a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Other signs and flags declared “Jesus saves!” and “God, Guns & Guts Made America. Let’s keep all three.” The signs appeared to confer one religious group’s blessing on the anti-democratic…

                        COVID-19 will likely be with us forever. Here’s how we’ll live with it.

                        As COVID-19 continues to run its course, the likeliest long-term outcome is that the virus SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic in large swaths of the world, constantly circulating among the human population but causing fewer cases of severe disease. Eventually—years or even decades in the future—COVID-19 could transition into a mild childhood illness, like the four endemic…

                        Khyati Joshi joins Religion News Service as new columnist 

                        Religion News Service (RNS), thanks to a grant from the Guru Krupa Foundation, is pleased to announce that Dr. Khyati Y. Joshi has joined RNS as a columnist covering Hindus and Hinduism. Her first column focuses on Vice President Kamala Harris’ “embodied diversity” and how Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff offer a model for…

                        How Cesar Chavez Joined Larry Itliong to Demand Farm Workers’ Rights

                        In the late 1960s, grapes grabbed national attention—and not in a good way. Newly organized farm workers, fronted by Mexican-American civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez, asked Americans to boycott the popular California fruit because of the paltry pay and poor work conditions agricultural laborers were forced to endure. Using nonviolent tactics like marches and hunger strikes,…

                        Vatican convicts ex-bank chief in property embezzlement scam

                        ROME (AP) — The Vatican’s criminal tribunal on Thursday convicted the former head of the Vatican bank and his lawyer of embezzling millions of euros in proceeds from the sales of Holy See-owned real estate, and sentenced them to nearly nine years in prison each. The court also awarded the bank, known as the Institute…

                        Seeking unity, Biden should look to Nelson Mandela

                        (RNS) — Encountering Nelson Mandela in person for the first time, I remember thinking he looked more daunting and noble in person than he did in photographs.  It was December 1999, and I had gone to South Africa to help organize the youth program of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Mandela was the keynote…

                        The Risk of Excessive Conservatism

                        In ‘Lessons from the Pandemic’, I summarized what I took to be some of the biggest mistakes of the pandemic response, and tried to give a sense of the scale of the potential damage done, along with some concrete suggestions for how we might have done vastly better.  Some readers (e.g. here) seemed of the…

                        The Wisdom of Jesus and the Yoga Siddhas, by Marshall Govindan

                        Published by Kriya Yoga Publications — ISBN 978-1-895383-43-0 224 pages, bibliographical references. Order here. With the discovery of many new source documents in the Sinai Desert and near the Dead Sea, and with the advent of modern methods of textual analysis by scholars who are independent of institutional bias, today most Biblical scholars will agree…

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