Ideas

Religion Vs. Science: The Battle America Just Can’t Get Past

Andrew O’Hehir: “Consider the teapot-tempest over religion and science that has mysteriously broken out in 2014, and has proven so irresistible to the media. We already had this debate, which occupied a great deal of the intellectual life of Western civilization in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was a whole lot less stupid […]

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Pediatricians Warn About Kids’ Use Of Touch Screens

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“The American Academy of Pediatrics is unequivocal: If your kid is under 2, no screens. For older kids, two hours a day, max. But the AAP doesn’t differentiate between activities; education apps, base-jumping videos, first-person shooters, ebooks, Sesame Street, and The Shining are all thrown into the same bucket. It’s all just screen time.”

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How We Live – The Connectedness Problem

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“The ubiquity of smartphones, and employers’ insistence that we keep them on, has morphed the traditional workday into something stretchy and inconsistent: Now, even when you are not in the office, you are very likely still working.”

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Remember That Thing With Amazon And Drones? Not A Joke

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“Not only is the delivery drone program happening, but according to the CEO, it’s well underway. ‘The Prime Air team is already flight testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles, and we are in the design phase on generations 7 and 8,’ he writes.”

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Suddenly, Everyone Loves Really Old Photos – And Here’s Why

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“A photograph really is a frozen fragment of time. Not even the fastest, most gifted artists or the most sensually specific novelists have ever captured the kind of incidental realities a photograph dumbly records – the creases in the uniform of the last Napoleonic veteran, his paunch and sidelong glance and white whiskers – or […]

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The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

The Forgotten Childhood Why Early Memories Fade

Most adults have what’s called childhood amnesia (i.e., having few or no memories from the first 3 to 3½ years of life). “But it’s only in the past decade that [scientists] have begun to figure out when childhood memories start to fade, which early memories are most likely to survive, and how we create a […]

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The Science Behind Why We Laugh

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“There is something almost akin to madness in how and when we laugh. It’s not as simple as a basic reaction to something funny.”

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The Purpose Of Failure

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“Since we cannot succeed simply by not failing, we should stop spending so much energy trying to avoid failure or engineer it away. Instead, we should embrace it — smartly.”

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How The Tree Became The Visual Metaphor For Organizing Information

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“The greatest impact of trees was in the realm of taxonomy, as visual representations of abstract religious and scientific concepts. Religion illuminated the way, with 13th-century scribes drawing trees to show relationships between scriptural texts, to aid memory and encourage exegesis – the practice of critical interpretation of texts common in monasteries.”

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Greed Is Good: A 300-Year History of a Dangerous Idea

Greed Is Good

“We sometimes forget that the pursuit of commercial self-interest was largely reviled until just a few centuries ago. ‘A man who is a merchant can seldom if ever please God,’ St. Jerome said … It was not until the mischievous moralist Bernard Mandeville that someone attempted to gloss greed as anything other than a shameful […]

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The Time Warp Of Pompeii’s Dead

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“Pompeii is not a fragment of lost time. It is lost time thrust into the present, wholesale. This is disconcerting, to say the least. There is no buffer in Pompeii, no visible signal of decay as there is in the normal ruin.”

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The Most Detailed Map Of The Human Brain Was Revealed This Week

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“Scientists released the most detailed map ever made of the fetal human brain today. It contains a massive amount of information about gene activity at a crucial time in development — just as the cerebral cortex is developing. The scientists believe it holds important clues about the biological origins of disorders like autism, as well […]

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Nations Are Failing To Solve Problems. But Cities…

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“As nations become increasingly ineffective, gridlocked and dysfunctional, cities are taking their place not just as local problem solvers – which they’ve always been pretty good at – but also as collectives that start to tackle global problems like climate change, that nations are unable to redress on their own.”

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Can Comedy Bring About Real Political Change?

Can comedy bring about real political change

From Lysistrata to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to the satirical banners in Tahrir Square, it can seem that comedy really is that powerful. On the other hand, all those Soviet jokes weren’t what brought down the USSR. (On the third hand, it wasn’t actually Sarah Palin who said, “I can see Russia from my house.”)

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Intellectual Property and Jokes

Photo of a gun by Tanjala Gica/Thinkstock, photo illustration by

No, this isn’t about a sub-genre of lawyer jokes. Comedians and civilians alike steal each other’s laugh lines. “Does anyone actually own a joke, after all? What legal recourse, if any, does that owner have when some hack swipes his best material?”

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