Category : History

NYMag talks to VR pioneer Jaron Lanier on Silicon Valley–‘One Has This Feeling of Having Contributed to Something That’s Gone Very Wrong’

In November, you told Maureen Dowd that it’s scary and awful how out of touch Silicon Valley people have become. It’s a pretty forward remark. I’m kind of curious what you mean by that.

To me, one of the patterns we see that makes the world go wrong is when somebody acts as if they aren’t powerful when they actually are powerful. So if you’re still reacting against whatever you used to struggle for, but actually you’re in control, then you end up creating great damage in the world. Like, oh, I don’t know, I could give you many examples. But let’s say like Russia’s still acting as if it’s being destroyed when it isn’t, and it’s creating great damage in the world. And Silicon Valley’s kind of like that.

We used to be kind of rebels, like, if you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. And we had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs and we had to struggle. And we’ve won. I mean, we have just totally won. We run everything. We are the conduit of everything else happening in the world. We’ve disrupted absolutely everything. Politics, finance, education, media, relationships — family relationships, romantic relationships — we’ve put ourselves in the middle of everything, we’ve absolutely won. But we don’t act like it.

We have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness having won. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to defend ourselves, which is preposterous. And so in doing that we really kind of turn into assholes, you know?

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Alex von Tunzelmann–The recent Windrush failure shows how the Empire still Haunts Britain

Hostility to immigration in Britain was a significant force driving the vote to leave the European Union, yet prominent Brexiteers are often sensitive to the charge that any part of their movement is inward-looking, xenophobic or racist. Many of them have recently rushed to condemn the treatment of the Windrush generation. Even the Daily Mail, a newspaper that regularly publishes scare stories about immigrants, splashed it on the front page as “Fiasco that shames Britain.”

Yet this is not an accidental fiasco but the intended outcome of Britain’s draconian and Byzantine immigration policy. Moreover, rather than being an upset, the treatment of the Windrush generation is all too consistent with Britain’s historical attitude toward those former colonies and dominions that supposedly make up its “family.”

The Commonwealth comprises 53 nations, most of which were once British-ruled, and 2.4 billion people, 94 percent of whom live in Africa and Asia. It is supposedly based on a common language, institutions and values — though, given its size and diversity, the commonality of those values is debatable. Its head is the Queen. In 2002, Boris Johnson, now the foreign minister but then a journalist, wrote: “It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.” The line is still often quoted for its offensive language; it is less commonly observed that Mr. Johnson was taking a swipe at the monarch for indulging the Commonwealth partly as a vanity project.

Is the Commonwealth more than that?

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Immigration, Politics in General

(WSJ) Barbara Bush Remembered as Tough, Loving Matriarch

Before more than 1,000 people, including four former presidents, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, speakers lauded Mrs. Bush as a loving but steel-tough “enforcer” who steered a powerful family through trying times. She was the second woman in U.S. history to be the wife of one president and the mother of another.

“She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly, it wasn’t always benevolent,” her son Jeb Bush recalled. “There were no safe spaces or microaggressions allowed with Barbara Pierce Bush.”

Many also made note of her quick, sometimes biting, wit—a central characteristic that helped her resonate with everyday people across the political spectrum.

“She was the first lady of the greatest generation,” historian Jon Meacham said at the funeral, comparing her to Abigail Adams, the wife of America’s second president, John Adams, and mother of its sixth president, John Quincy Adams. Mr. Meacham wrote a book about President George H.W. Bush, to whom Mrs. Bush was married for 73 years.

Mrs. Bush died Tuesday at her home at age 92 with her husband at her side. Two days earlier, a family spokesman said in a statement that she was in failing health and had declined continued medical treatment to focus on “comfort care.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Office of the President

(NPR) April Is A Cruel Month For This Columbine Teacher And Survivor

April 20 is the anniversary of the Columbine massacre. That day in 1999, two Littleton, Colo., high school students killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

Reed was a teacher at Columbine High School school that day, and still is today. This week, she spoke to NPR from the same classroom she was teaching in before everything happened.

On April 20, 1999, she evacuated with her students as the fire alarm went off, a “Pavlovian” response, she says, to what they thought was a drill or a student playing a prank.

Reed remembers walking out into the sunshine of a beautiful day when kids ran by yelling, “They’ve got guns, they’ve got guns!”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

Heartwarming Local story–Nearly seven decades after Korean war, a POW’s remains coming home for burial in South Carolina

More than 60 years after the Army declared Davis as Missing in Action during the Korean War, the Department of Defense has identified his remains. On Thursday, Davis will be buried at North Charleston’s Carolina Memorial Park not far from his wife Violet Davis’ grave.

“It’s kind of like a love story,” said Zachary Boney, a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Davis’s great-grandson.

“She never remarried, and she never dated. He was the only man she would ever be with because she didn’t want to be with anyone else.”

Boney, a horizontal construction engineer, on Sunday will travel to Hawaii to retrieve his great-grandfather’s remains. The 22-year-old will then fly from Hawaii to Charleston, escorting Davis across the country to deliver him safely to his family.

“I feel honored to do it,” Boney said.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Korea, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

(WSJ) Charlotte Allen–The Story Behind ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’

Christian prohibitions against abortion and infanticide encouraged the survival of baby girls and dramatically increased Christian fertility over the long term once those girls grew up and married. Many took pagan husbands, whom they sometimes converted, and then raised their children as Christians—another demographic boost.

All this is at the very heart of Mr. Hyatt’s understated movie, which takes place in the dank and clamorous Roman alleyways where slaves are bought and sold and mob violence rules. While Paul and Luke ( Jim Caviezel ) are central to the story, as important are Aquila ( John Lynch ) and Priscilla ( Joanne Whalley ). This affluent Christian married couple opened their house to alleviate some of the misery around them, feeding and sheltering families made homeless by the Great Fire.

Luke uses his physician’s skills, not a miracle, to heal a dying erstwhile pagan girl and touch the hearts of her parents. The imprisoned Paul is an icon of the power of forgiveness, for he himself has been forgiven for murdering Christians in his youth. The Christians marked for death in the arena are terrified ordinary people who somehow summon the faith to trust in an eternal life they have never seen.

Mr. Hyatt has dedicated his movie to “all who have been persecuted for their faith.” Today that resonates in large and small ways—from Islamic State’s violent repression of Christians to the controversy over wedding cakes in the U.S. It also should resonate with the future makers of faith-based movies: You don’t need $30 million to tell a powerful Christian tale.

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Posted in History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Holocaust Is Fading From Memory, Survey of Americans Finds

For seven decades, “never forget” has been a rallying cry of the Holocaust remembrance movement.

But a survey released Thursday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, found that many adults lack basic knowledge of what happened — and this lack of knowledge is more pronounced among millennials, whom the survey defined as people ages 18 to 34.

Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. Only 39 percent of Americans know that Hitler was democratically elected.

“As we get farther away from the actual events, 70-plus years now, it becomes less forefront of what people are talking about or thinking about or discussing or learning,” said Matthew Bronfman, a board member of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which commissioned the study. “If we wait another generation before you start trying to take remedial action, I think we’re really going to be behind the eight ball.”

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Posted in Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, History, Judaism, Poland, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Violence

(WSJ) Cornel West and Robert George–Dr. King’s Radical Biblical Vision

[Martin Luther] King [Jr.] was truly radical in his literal reading of Jesus’ command that we love others unconditionally, selflessly and self-sacrificially. And by “others,” he meant everyone—even those who defend injustice. He believed in struggling hard, and with conviction, for what one believes is right; but he equally insisted on seeing others as precious brothers and sisters, even if one judges them to be gravely in error.

King chose nonviolence not simply because he thought it was an effective strategy. This commitment reflected his belief in the sanctity of the human person, the principle that all men and women, as children of God, were brothers and sisters. King saw himself as the leader of a love-inspired movement, not a tribe or “identity group,” and that is because his radical love ethic refused to divide people into tribes and identity groups.

It was no mere ideology, but rather this biblically based radical love ethic that enabled Martin Luther King Jr. to embrace, fully and without reservation, the idea of America as a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” And it was radical love that drove him to risk—and give—his life in the cause of calling his fellow citizens finally and fully to live up to our national ideal of “liberty and justice for all.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Duke Kwon–John Perkins Has Hope for Racial Reconciliation. Do We?

The call of reconciliation requires us to lament these historic wrongs, giving voice to the groaning of our soul. “I believe strongly that the church in America has much to lament,” Perkins declares, inviting us to “dig up the deep wounds of our history” and insisting that the church must “take more ownership for our collective sin.” He leads us to lament numerous failures from our collective past: the enduring racial segregation of our local churches, the egregious misuse of Scripture to defend slavery and protect the interests of slave-owners, our neglect of ministry to (and with) the poor and marginalized as a crucial aspect of biblical reconciliation, the prioritizing of global missions at the expense of local mission, and our lack of remorse for the sin of racism in the church.

Lament, which “requires that we acknowledge that something horrific has happened,” must also lead to confession. Our racial wounds will not be healed without first being exposed. As he provides examples for corporate confession, Perkins is notably inclusive in his approach. He names areas of common failure: the sin of creating Jesus in our own image, our debilitating fears around the issue of race (1 John 4:18), and our unwillingness to endure suffering (1 Pet. 1:6–7). But he also identifies specific areas of confession for black Christians and white Christians.

Perkins clearly acknowledges that “racism still haunts” the black community. Nevertheless, “for many of us black folks, there has been an anger that has not always been managed well.” Prior generations channeled that anger into nonviolent resistance and the building of black institutions (colleges, hospitals, churches), but now “we have turned that anger on ourselves, and our cities and communities have become unsafe places.” White brothers and sisters, on the other hand, “may need to confess denying that racism exists, choosing to ignore the implications of privilege, and at times acting to reinforce a double standard.” Some will resist the idea of a historically oppressed group having any obligation to admit wrongdoing, while others will resist the notion of privilege, but Perkins will have it no other way. We must revisit our past sins in order to grow in reconciliation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Betrayal of Christ by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) [1591-1666]

Posted in Christology, History, Holy Week, Italy, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Express) What is Maundy Thursday? Why does the Queen give alms to the poor?

Every year the Queen attends a Royal Maundy service at one of Britain’s cathedrals.

The monarch hands out Maundy money to male and female pensioners from local communities near the Cathedral where the service takes place.

This year, she will be attending the traditional Royal Maundy service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

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Posted in Christology, England / UK, History, Holy Week, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Economist Erasmus Blog) As French Catholics hail a martyr, the faith is fading in Europe

Even in Europe, the world’s least religious continent, a dramatic turn of events can turn a little-known public servant into a posthumous hero hailed as a kind of modern martyr.

Arnaud Beltrame, a police colonel, died of his injuries over the weekend after voluntarily taking the place of one of the hostages seized by a fanatical Islamist in a small French town. As it happens he was a devout Catholic who devoted much spare time to pilgrimages and helping with religious instruction. He won praise of two different kinds. Speaking for the French republic, President Emmanuel Macron described him as a man who had “fallen as a hero” and deserved “the respect and admiration of the entire nation.” In the Catholic circles to which Beltrame belonged, another vocabulary was used. He was praised as a man whose self-sacrifice reflected the faith that he had eagerly professed since a conversion experience a decade ago. Comparisons were made with Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who in 1941 stood in for a fellow prisoner, a man with children, whom the Nazis were preparing to execute.

A French priest who had been preparing to solemnise the policeman’s marriage (he was already married civilly) instead found himself sitting at his friend’s bedside, conducting the last rites. With understandable emotion, the cleric described Beltrame as a man who “had a passion for France, her greatness, her history and her Christian roots which he rediscovered with his conversion.”

But whatever the truth of that statement about cultural roots, how much longer will such language be comprehensible, let alone appealing, to people growing up on the continent?

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Posted in Europe, France, History, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Yorkshire Post) Sir Tony Robinson: Why York Minster and Britain’s other great cathedrals are right to charge an entrance fee

These days, cathedrals like York Minster are both a tourist attraction and a place of worship. More than 690,000 people visited in 2017 and, while it’s their entrance fees which keep the place running, finding the balance between commercial and spiritual demands is not always easy.

“I think York gets it right. These places are money pits and without the income they receive from visitors they would begin to crumble. I know that there are some people who would like them to be free to enter, but we do have to be realistic. We no longer live in the 19th century when wages were so low these great big cathedrals could easily afford to have 100 workers on-site without worrying about how they were going to pay the wage bills.

“However, what I particularly loved about York Minster was how every so often the general bustle of the day would stop and within a second it would revert to a place of stillness and a place of prayer.”

England is home to 44 cathedrals and given they have witnessed Henry VIII’s Reformation and Second World War bombing raids as well as the ravages of time, it is a minor miracle that the likes of York Minster have remained standing at all.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Boston Globe) Niall Ferguson–George Orwell would be awed by Facebook’s Surveillance Tools

As with Google, it was advertising that made Facebook money. The crucial difference was that Google simply helped people find the things they had already decided to buy, whereas Facebook enabled advertisers to deliver targeted messages to users, tailored to meet the preferences they had already revealed through their Facebook activity. Once ads were seamlessly inserted into users’ News Feeds on the Facebook mobile phone app, the company was on the path to vast profits, propelled forward by the explosion of smartphone usage.

The smartphone is our telescreen. And, thanks to it, Big Zucker is watching you — night and day, wherever you go. Unlike the telescreen, your phone is always with you. Unlike the telescreen, it can read your thoughts, predicting your actions before you even carry them out. It’s just that Big Zucker’s 24/7 surveillance isn’t designed to maintain a repressive regime. It’s just designed to make money.

The only law of history is the law of unintended consequences. Is anyone — apart from Zuckerberg, that is — really surprised that, during the seven-year period when app developers had free access to Facebook users’ data, unscrupulous people downloaded as much as they could? Do we seriously believe that Cambridge Analytica are the only people who did this? Can you give me one good reason why, after Barack Obama and his minions smugly boasted about their use of Facebook in his 2012 reelection campaign, Donald Trump’s campaign was not entitled to try similar methods four years later?

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

(Patheos) Chris Gehrz–The Stevens Point Pathway: How the Liberal Arts Will Die at Christian Colleges

In my experience, most college professors pay little attention to what’s happening in higher education beyond their own discipline or institution. So last week it was remarkable how many colleagues came up and asked me, “What happened at UW-Stevens Point?”

They were referring to one of the 26 campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, which announced last Monday that it was planning to address a $4.5 budget deficit by a combination of two strategies: “adding or expanding 16 programs in areas with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment” and “shifting resources from programs where fewer students are enrolled,” to the point of cutting several majors.

What will grow? Business programs like marketing, management, and finance, and STEM programs like chemical engineering, computer information systems, and aquaculture/aquaponics.

What will go away? Virtually every art, humanity, and social science major that isn’t directly connected to a professional “pathway.” Not just the languages (French, German, and Spanish at UWSP) and fine arts (art and music literature) programs that have been the first to go when smaller schools make such cuts. Stevens Point students would no longer be able to major in English, philosophy, political science, sociology, or history….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Young Adults