Category : Science & Technology

(FT) Half of UK universities commit to divesting from fossil fuels

Half the UK’s universities have pledged to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies after a years-long campaign involving protests, hunger strikes and petitions by students worried about climate change.

Some 78 of the UK’s 154 public universities have committed to at least partially divest from fossil fuels, including University College London, York, Liverpool and Exeter, which all said they would ditch oil and gas stocks last year.

According to People & Planet, the group that co-ordinated the students, £12.4bn of endowments across the higher education sector have dumped at least some fossil fuel stocks.

The divestment by universities is the latest sign of the growing influence of young climate activists. Last year, youth-led climate strikes took place across the world, inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(Phys.org) Biologists identify pathways that extend lifespan by 500%

Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., and Nanjing University in China, have identified synergistic cellular pathways for longevity that amplify lifespan fivefold in C. elegans, a nematode worm used as a model in aging research.

The increase in lifespan would be the equivalent of a human living for 400 or 500 years, according to one of the scientists.

The research draws on the discovery of two major pathways governing aging in C. elegans, which is a popular model in aging research because it shares many of its genes with humans and because its short lifespan of only three to four weeks allows scientists to quickly assess the effects of genetic and environmental interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

Because these pathways are “conserved,” meaning that they have been passed down to humans through evolution, they have been the subject of intensive research. A number of drugs that extend healthy lifespan by altering these pathways are now under development.

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Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology

(PS) Shoshana Zuboff–Surveillance Capitalism

As we enter a new decade, we are also entering a new era of political economy. Over the centuries, capitalism has evolved through a number of stages, from industrial to managerial to financial capitalism. Now we are entering the age of “surveillance capitalism.”

Under surveillance capitalism, people’s lived experiences are unilaterally claimed by private companies and translated into proprietary data flows. Some of these data are used to improve products and services. The rest are considered a “behavioral surplus” and valued for their rich predictive signals.

These predictive data are shipped to new-age factories of machine intelligence where they are computed into highly profitable prediction products that anticipate your current and future choices. Prediction products are then traded in what I call “behavioral futures markets,” where surveillance capitalists sell certainty to their business customers.

Google’s “clickthrough rate” was the first globally successful prediction product, and its ad markets were the first to trade in human futures. Already, surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, and ever more companies across nearly every economic sector have shown an eagerness to lay bets on our future behavior.

The competitive dynamics of these new markets reveal surveillance capitalism’s economic imperatives.

First, machine intelligence demands a lot of data: economies of scale.

Second, the best predictions also require varieties of data: economies of scope. This drove the extension of surplus capture beyond likes and clicks into the offline world: your jogging gait and pace; your breakfast conversation; your hunt for a parking space; your face, voice, personality, and emotions.

In a third phase of competitive intensity, surveillance capitalists discovered that the most predictive data come from intervening in human action to coax, tune, herd, and modify behavior in the direction of guaranteed outcomes.

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

A Wonderful NYT Obit on Dr. John B. Robbins, developer of the vaccine for Hib meningitis and others, currently saving millions per year

By some estimates, Dr. Robbins’s vaccine against the illness, called Hib meningitis, has saved seven million lives since it was licensed in 1989.

Pediatricians who worked in the pre-vaccine days remember feeling their hearts sink when they saw Hib bacteria under a microscope in a baby’s spinal fluid. It meant that, even with antibiotics, the child was at risk of permanent brain damage, deafness or death.

Before the vaccine, Hib meningitis killed about 400,000 children a year, according to the World Health Organization….

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(NYT) One Nation, Tracked: An Investigation Into The Smartphone Tracking Industry

For many Americans, the only real risk they face from having their information exposed would be embarrassment or inconvenience. But for others, like survivors of abuse, the risks could be substantial. And who can say what practices or relationships any given individual might want to keep private, to withhold from friends, family, employers or the government? We found hundreds of pings in mosques and churches, abortion clinics, queer spaces and other sensitive areas.

In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Mr. Broili told us in early December. “But knowing that you all can get ahold of it and comb through and place me to see where I work and live — that’s weird.” That we could so easily discern that Mr. Broili was out on a job interview raises some obvious questions, like: Could the internal location surveillance of executives and employees become standard corporate practice?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(FT) Religions show faith in power of technology

The Vatican is praying that this year’s must-have Christmas gadget will not be an Apple Watch or Kindle, but rather its eRosary device.

The £99 bracelet, which is activated by making the sign of the cross with it, is aimed at tracking a devotee’s progress through a range of prayers and is accessed using an app called Click to Pray. It even doubles as a fitness monitor, tracking the wearer’s steps, location and calories burnt.

In increasingly secular western societies, technology and religion may seem at odds. Since 1993, for example, the number of Britons who think “we believe too often in science and not enough in feelings and faith” has fallen from 43 per cent to 27 per cent, according to the British Social Attitudes annual survey.

Some organised religions, however, are using technology to interact with communities in an attempt to forge connections between devotees and fuel engagement. Religious education, relationships, habits and knowledge are being transformed as social media allows laypeople to network with clerics and other religious figures.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Local Paper front page) Modern warfare is now happening online. South Carolina’s defense contractors are on the front lines.

The military’s most frequent battles are not fought on land, by sea or in the air. They’re fought online, every day, and South Carolina’s defense contractors are trying to stay ahead of the enemy.

Katie Arrington, a former state lawmaker who was appointed in January as a consultant for the Department of Defense, said Charleston in particular is key when it comes to cybersecurity against China, terrorist groups and individuals attempting to undermine government security.

“We’re at war,” Arrington told The Post and Courier. “Cyberwar is real. To think this community isn’t exposed to what our adversaries are trying to do every day in the cyber realm would be remiss. Our cyberwarriors, the people who work in the Charleston defense contractor community, are the first layer of defense.”

That was the theme this week when more than 1,400 business leaders, military officers and government employees gathered in North Charleston for the Charleston Defense Contractors Association’s 13th annual conference to discuss the evolution of warfare. For decades, the federal government has looked to the private sector to come up with solutions. And cyberwarfare is now big business in the Palmetto State.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Science & Technology

(NPR) Powered By Faith, Religious Groups Emerge As A Conduit For A Just Solar Boom

Minnesota winters are long, brutal and gray. Minneapolis resident Keith Dent has endured 38 of them. But over the last several years, he’s experienced what he calls a “reintroduction to the sun.”

In 2017, Dent helped install, and later subscribed to a massive community solar garden mounted atop Shiloh Temple — a majority black church in north Minneapolis. Today, the 630-panel array provides Shiloh itself, the nearby Masjid An-Nur Mosque and 29 local households with green energy.

The Shiloh project is among hundreds of community solar gardens cropping up nationwide working to solve an obstacle many face when trying to go green: the cost of installing rooftop panels, which for a typical household, runs north of $10,000. The project is also among a growing cluster of initiatives affiliated with faith-based institutions seeking to advance their missions of justice by bringing renewable energy to low income communities.

Dent says his utility bills have dropped noticeably since he first subscribed; “That extra $30 or $40 a month? That’s groceries, that’s gas, that’s ballet shoes,” he says.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(NBC) Totally Inspirational Science Teaching from Georgia

“Professor David Wright has been sharing his love of physics with students at Tidewater Community College since 1974. Wright became a viral sensation in just one day after a student shared a video of his passionate teaching methods — using fire, slingshots and a bed of nails — on Twitter.”

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Posted in Education, Science & Technology

The November/December 2019 edition of the Eco-Congregation Ireland newsletter is out

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Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT) His Novels of Planetary Devastation Will Make You Want to Survive

In Area X, human faces wash up on the shore like the discarded shells of horseshoe crabs and dolphins swim in perfectly synchronized pairs and look out at you from hauntingly familiar eyes. A strange being known only as “The Crawler” travels up and down the stairs of an underground tower, writing on the walls in words that are revealed under a microscope to be formed of some sort of golden moss. Otherworldly phenomena like the “shimmer,” which indicates a sort of membrane between Area X and the regular world, are amalgamations of the concrete and the unimaginable, physical artifacts that defy comprehension.

The careful, exacting strangeness of these images sticks in the mind like a burr, stirring unexpectedly in your consciousness many days after reading. For this reason, VanderMeer’s novels exert a persuasive “reality effect” all their own. The phantasmagoric creatures and places can be difficult to find in mainstream literary fiction — where nature often appears as ornament, as atmosphere, as a backdrop to unfolding human drama. Like Melville and Thoreau, who invested their descriptions of early American wilds with an expansive vitalistic otherness, VanderMeer stages encounters with a nonhuman world that refuses to yield the foreground. This gesture takes on new significance in a time of ecological crisis and climate catastrophe: It reinscribes the fullness of the world we live in, an urgent reminder of how much life we stand to lose.

VanderMeer, who is in his early 50s and has a neatly-trimmed graying goatee, wore waders and a windbreaker in deference to the quick-changing weather of this rainy patch of Florida coastline. He laughs easily but not at length, and his intelligence has a restless quality, moving swiftly from one thing to the next. Quiet and friendly, he spoke in quick, clipped sentences as he showed me around the western reach of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, an ecological hub bordering the Gulf of Mexico that contains many different habitats —from pine flatwoods and sandhills to swamp forest and open water— and ranks in the top 10 in the nation for biodiversity. Though Everglades National Park is 22 times its size, the density of rare and endangered species in St Marks is nine times greater.

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Posted in Books, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

The Church of England appoints a National Environment Officer

Jo Chamberlain has been appointed as the National Environment Officer for the Church of England, taking forward the strategy developed by the Environment Working Group. This is a new post reflecting the Archbishops’ Council’s focus on the environment as a theological and mission priority.

Jo joins the Mission and Public Affairs team from Christian Aid and the Diocese of Sheffield where she volunteers as their Environment Adviser. She will work closely with the Environment Consultant, David Shreeve, and link with the Cathedrals and Church Buildings team where Open and Sustainable Churches Officer, Catherine Ross, forms the third part of a new environment staff ‘hub’.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Archbp John Sentamu–It’s time to act against the oil companies causing death and destruction

The legal system in Nigeria is cumbersome, costly and inefficient. Victims are rarely able to afford the means to justice and redress. While governments must accept a share of responsibility for this catastrophe, the onus lies largely with the multinational oil companies that dominate the scene. They drill and export the oil and gas. They own the inadequate and poorly maintained and poorly guarded infrastructure that have allowed oil spills and other forms of pollution to become systemic for people in Bayelsa.

All too often they do not respect their fundamental human rights and are getting away with a pollution footprint with global consequences, including climate change. Yet those who bear the immediate cost are the people of Bayelsa, where human life appears to be disposable in the pursuit of wealth.

Repentance, reparation and remedy for damage done for decades is long overdue. Too many people treat distant parts of the world like giant rubbish dumps. If you or I behaved like that in our locality, albeit on an infinitely smaller scale, we would be rightly prosecuted for fly-tipping.

We are all temporary tenants on this planet and will be held accountable for its management. Future generations will look at the state of their inheritance and will want to know who in the past benefited from its irresponsible exploitation and who paid the price for it. If there is still an opportunity for the present generation to make amends, we had better get on with it with the utmost urgency.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Religion & Culture

(CNBC) As the cost of dying rises, more families try crowdfunding for funerals

At 2 a.m. on Oct. 17, Helen Ramos tried to wake up her son, Michael Bowen. Something about the 37-year-old looked strange.

Ramos, 65, uses a wheelchair, and running errands can be a struggle. The day before, Bowen had gone grocery shopping for her. Later, Ramos pleaded with him to spend the night at her house in Milford, Connecticut. It was raining heavily and she wanted him to be safe, but now she couldn’t get him to rise.

Bowen had died in his sleep, from either medical or drug complications. He had suffered from drug addiction since he was 13.

Bowen’s death threw his family into grief — and a financial problem. Neither his four older siblings nor his parents had enough savings to come up with the $10,000 it would cost for a funeral and burial at Keenan Funeral Home in West Haven, Connecticut.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(NYT) Suddenly, the Chinese Threat to Australia Seems Very Real

A Chinese defector to Australia who detailed political interference by Beijing. A businessman found dead after telling the authorities about a Chinese plot to install him in Parliament. Suspicious men following critics of Beijing in major Australian cities.

For a country that just wants calm commerce with China — the propellant behind 28 years of steady growth — the revelations of the past week have delivered a jolt.

Fears of Chinese interference once seemed to hover indistinctly over Australia. Now, Beijing’s political ambitions, and the espionage operations that further them, suddenly feel local, concrete and ever-present.

“It’s become the inescapable issue,” said Hugh White, a former intelligence official who teaches strategic studies at the Australian National University. “We’ve underestimated how quickly China’s power has grown along with its ambition to use that power.”

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Posted in Australia / NZ, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Independent) Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, has a dire warning about its future

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, has launched a plan to stop the world falling into a “digital dystopia”.

Sir Tim unveiled a set of standards that good internet companies should abide by, in the hope of preserving the promise of the internet and stopping it being misused.

It comes amid a variety of online threats that look to damage everything from elections to personal privacy.

The new plan, named the Contract For The Web, was unveiled by Sir Tim’s World Wide Web Foundation in Berlin and calls on governments, companies and the public to ensure the web is a safe, free and open platform for all.

The commitment sets out nine key principles. It has already been backed by companies including Google and Facebook, both of which have been at the centre of controversies over the way the internet is used.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

(SA) The Diocese of Bristol and Swindon declares a climate emergency

The Diocese of Bristol and Swindon has declared a climate emergency after a unanimous vote at its last meeting.

In response to the emergency, the Diocese aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and has an ambitious policy to help achieve this goal.

It is the first diocese in the Church of England to announce this aim, with others expected to do so over the coming months.

Bishop of Bristol Viv Faull said: “Care for God’s creation is key to our Christian faith. Climate change hits our poorest global neighbours first and worst, exacerbating migration, conflict over resources and the spread of disease.

“As Christians we are driven to urgent action by love for our neighbour, our world and our creator God. Many of us are already involved in activity to halt the destruction of God’s creation and bring about climate justice….”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

(FT) Tough new global standards on mining waste storage under consideration

Some of the mining majors have already publicly released their own stringent standards but say implementation and assurance of stakeholders needs improving. There is also a wider challenge of getting smaller miners that do not belong to the ICMM to sign up to the standards.

The disaster in Brazil was the second major accident involving tailings dams within almost four years and has made some investors wary of owning mining shares and raised uncertainty among insurance companies. It is estimated there are about 3,500 active tailings dams globally and a recent review estimated one in ten have stability issues.

The draft noted investors have a role to play in limiting their financial support only to projects that fulfil the standards proposed and insurance companies should insist mining companies minimise the risk from tailings dams.

Adam Matthews from the Church of England Pensions Board representing PRI said “we are mindful that zero harm to people and environment has to be the objective and the standard has an important role to play to achieving a mining sector whose tailings facilities are operating to such a standard.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(BBC) The shareholders fighting to make oil firms greener

They can also convince firms to stop lobbying that is “inconsistent” with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change globally.

One of the most successful activist groups has been Climate Action 100+, a global network of institutional investors that targets the world’s 100 largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.

Its 370 members, which have $35tn (£27tn) of assets under management, include well-known names such as Aberdeen Standard, the Church of England Pensions Board and HSBC Global Asset Management.

In March, the group, working with others, forced the oil giant Shell to make a legally binding commitment to use a broader definition of greenhouse gas emissions in its carbon-reduction targets.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(EJ) ‘Back to earth’: Edmonton church groups exploring growing interest of green burials

[John] Matthews is also chair of the north-side Christ Church Polar Lake Cemetery, one of only a few in Edmonton currently offering plots for the green practice. He said his church was approached about two years ago by a resident interested in having a green burial, or what Matthews calls a “traditional burial,” and so they decided to provide the option.

Four speakers took to the podium during the seminar at St. Stephen the Martyr/St. Faith Anglican Church on Alberta Avenue to explore some of the spiritual considerations and challenges with natural burials. It’s about opening the door for conversation and not being scared to talk about the inevitable, Matthews said.

“The whole idea is to get death out of the closet and to confront it directly,” he said. “The more you put it aside … that’s going to prolong the grieving process or impede it really to its proper completion.”

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Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecology, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Slate Star Codex) Scott Alexander–New Atheism: The Godlessness That Failed

Most movement atheists weren’t in it for the religion. They were in it for the hamartiology. Once they got the message that the culture-at-large had settled on a different, better hamartiology, there was no psychological impediment to switching over. We woke up one morning and the atheist bloggers had all quietly became social justice bloggers. Nothing else had changed because nothing else had to; the underlying itch being scratched was the same. They just had to CTRL+F and replace a couple of keywords.

Eventually, things came full circle. I started this essay with a memory of noticing that my favorite early-2000s-era website had two off-topic forums: one for religion vs. atheism, and one for everything else. Earlier this year, SSC’s subreddit split in two: one for “culture war” discussions mostly about race and gender, the other for everything else.

Where do we go from here? I’m not sure. The socialist wing of the Democratic Party seems to be working off a model kind of like this, but hoping to change the hamartiology from race/gender to class. Maybe they’ll succeed, and one day talking too much about racism will seem as out-of-touch as talking too much about atheism does now; maybe the rise of terms like “woke capitalism” is already part of this process.

I’ve lost the exact quote, but a famous historian once said that we learn history to keep us from taking the present too seriously. This isn’t to say the problems of the present aren’t serious. Just that history helps us avoid getting too dazzled by current trends, or too swept away by any particular narrative.

If this is true, we might do well to study the history of New Atheism a little more seriously.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Katharine Hayhoe–I’m a Climate Scientist Who Believes in God. Hear Me Out.

Connecting our identity to action is key, and that’s exactly why I don’t typically begin with science when starting conversations about climate change with those who disagree. Rather, I begin by talking about what we share most. For some, this could be the well-being of our community; for others, our children; and for fellow Christians, it’s often our faith.

By beginning with what we share and then connecting the dots between that value and a changing climate, it becomes clear how caring about this planet and every living thing on it is not somehow antithetical to who we are as Christians, but rather central to it. Being concerned about climate change is a genuine expression of our faith, bringing our attitudes and actions more closely into line with who we already are and what we most want to be.

And that’s why I’m more convinced now than ever that the two most central parts of my identity — that of climate scientist and evangelical Christian — aren’t incompatible. They are what’s made me who I am.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Theology

(FT) WhatsApp hack led to targeting of 100 journalists and dissidents

At least 100 journalists, human rights activists and political dissidents had their smartphones attacked by spyware that exploited a vulnerability in WhatsApp, according to the Facebook-owned messaging service.

The victims of the attack, which was first revealed by the Financial Times in May, were contacted by WhatsApp on Tuesday.

Their phones were targeted through WhatsApp’s call function by customers of the Israel-based NSO Group, which makes Pegasus, a spyware program. Once installed, Pegasus is designed to take over all of a phone’s functions.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT) Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy

“In Silicon Valley,” Mr. Seibel added, “we did not talk this much about mental health even three years ago.” He estimates that more than 50 related start-ups are coming onto the scene. His firm just funded three: Stoic; Quirk, an app that uses cognitive behavioral therapy to treat people with anxiety and depression; and Mindset Health, which creates hypnotherapy apps that it says can treat anxiety, depression and irritable bowel syndrome.

Mindset Health was founded by two brothers, Alex and Chris Naoumidis, who previously created a peer-to-peer dress-sharing app for women. When that app failed, the brothers felt overcome with anxiety.

“We fell into this period of mental health problems,” said Alex Naoumidis, 24.

The brothers tried some of the existing wellness apps — meditation products, mindfulness tools — but remained unmoored. Their father suggested in-person hypnotherapy. It gave them the idea for Mindset.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Secularism

(WSJ) The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online

Teachers report mixed feelings about online grade books. Sean Riley, a high-school teacher in Seattle, said students and parents can become so focused on the metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. “It starts to turn learning into a series of tasks to be completed instead of a process of exercises to learn more,” he said.

Obsessive grade-checking is also symptomatic of the desire, peculiar to a generation that has grown up with everything just a swipe away, to receive instant gratification. Mr. Riley said this can lead to anxiety and disappointment in some students.

The upside is when students use the information to advocate for themselves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(SMH) The ‘frightening’ effects of the phone messages waking us at night

Mobile phone alerts that interrupt our sleep may have serious knock-on effects for our waking lives, leaving us more prone to car accidents, mistakes at work and poor mental health.

One in five Australians is being woken by texts and social media alerts, or waking up to send them multiple times a week, new research suggests. For one in 20, it’s every night.

When that alert sounds, “the temptation to look is enormous”, lead researcher Sarah Appleton at Flinders University’s Adelaide Institute of Sleep Health warned.

“This is a really difficult problem to deal with because it’s so pervasive and ingrained in our population,” she said.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(ES) Jonathan Haidt: ‘Many people will soon find themselves mired in perpetual conflict over words’

“When the article came out we were braced for an enormous pushback. It was an explosive time, and things were beginning to get very strange politically in ways we’re only beginning to understand,” he says. “But the climate changed in early 2016, when the number of shutdowns and disinvitations grew, and everything got worse. Things were changing in ways that are really bad for what we do, so Greg and I decided we had to turn it into a book.”

Between the article and the book, which came out last year, Haidt’s research revealed a strong connection between Gen Z’s soaring rates of anxiety and depression (especially among girls), their emotional fragility and their upbringing . “Originally, we didn’t see how it all linked to childhood trends, such as fearful parenting and the decline of play. We also didn’t know, until research was published last year, that there was a sudden radicalisation among white progressives in 2014 about different types of inequality: feminism, racism, misogyny, white privilege, or any other term from the woke vocabulary.

“Another big shift came from changes in social media after 2012, through Twitter and Instagram. This new configuration has been much more effective at spreading outrage, because almost anything can be taken as an example of how awful the other side is if you strip it of context and put it out there.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

(BBC) Holy tech! Churches try new ways to connect

Geraint Harries, a technology specialist, for St John the Evangelist in Lancashire, admits that when his parish first started using social media, it didn’t get it quite right.

“At first we didn’t really know what social media meant for the church and fell into the trap of simply chasing the number of likes and followers on our Facebook page,” he says.

But when a parishioner credited the Facebook page for her decision to return to the church, then he felt the strategy had started to work.

Weekly posts on the social media page of the church which simply asked “How can we pray for you today?” resonated with the woman going through a divorce last Christmas.

“Sometimes it can be daunting to turn up in person to a service so connecting online, more anonymously, can make it easier to take that first step into the building which happened here,” he adds.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Anglicare Australia calls for Robodebt system to be suspended

Anglicare Australia called for Centrelink’s Robodebt system to be suspended at a Senate committee hearing today.

“The Robodebt system has no human oversight – and it puts the onus onto ordinary people to correct robotised mistakes,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“The Government has already admitted that the system that has saddled people with tens of millions of dollars in false debt. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Many people are simply paying these false debts instead of challenging them. In other cases, the debts are so old that the records to contradict them no longer exist.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(NPR) The Gulf Of Maine Is Warming, And Its Whales Are Disappearing

Each summer for the last two decades, Jim Parker has readied his small whale watch boat, and made a business out of ferrying tourists out into the cool blue waters of the Gulf of Maine.

For years, it was steady work. The basin brimmed with species that whales commonly feed on, making it a natural foraging ground for the aquatic giants. Whales would cluster at certain spots in the gulf, providing a reliable display for enchanted visitors to the coastal community of Milbridge, Maine.

But lately, the whales have been harder and harder to find. Waters in the gulf have been warming, sending the whales’ food supply searching for cooler temperatures. The whales have gone with them. Some days this summer, Parker says he didn’t spot a single one. Business fell 20%, forcing him to cut his season short.

To help make ends meet, he’s been leading nature tours instead of whale watching expeditions. It’s gotten so bad, Parker says, that he and his partner have considered moving away from whale watching.

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Posted in Animals, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology