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Posted inReligion

Did Krakatoa’s eruption turn Indonesia Muslim?

Reading Time: 5 minutes Starting at 11:05 p.m. on October 11, 2002, three terrorist bombs detonated in quick succession on the picturesque Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people, mostly Western tourists, in the teeming bar district. Historians said it had been a very long time coming—119 years, by some estimates. One precursor to the 2002 massacre was the […]

Posted inHistory

The 2,500 days of Mikhail Gorbachev

Reading Time: 9 minutes On March 10, 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev ascended to the premiership of the Soviet Union. By the time he resigned in December 1991, roughly 2,500 days later, the geopolitical map of the world had been redrawn, including a reunified Germany and a wave of democracy in Eastern Europe. The Soviets’ longest conventional war ended; a 45-year unconventional conflict that brought the world to the brink of annihilation wound down peacefully; and his own nation lay in pieces around his feet.

Posted inSpace

For all of humanity’s failings, we’ve never stopped wondering about the stars

Reading Time: 8 minutes It was an atypically dry English spring when a man in Bath scanned the skies with a 7-inch reflecting telescope he’d designed and built by hand, through painstaking refinements to Isaac Newton’s principles of optics. William Herschel was studying stellar parallax, the phenomenon that makes a nearby star look like it has moved in relation […]

Posted inCulture

Jesus was ‘woke’: Historical figures who have moved humanity forward

Reading Time: 4 minutes When we use the word “woke,” we’re suggesting a sense of wakefulness, alertness, vigilance, and watchfulness. It’s a metaphor of self-designation for those who possess a certain kind of moral acuity. Those on the political Right who oppose what they call “The Woke Left” might embrace numerous other metaphors to signify their own ethical perception, for instance: The Somnolent […]

Posted inHistory

Book burning as ancient practice and modern menace

Reading Time: 7 minutes Since ancient times, people from almost all religions and societies have been burning books. As one scholar put it: “The goals of the book burners have been to extirpate history, to intimidate and stamp out opposition, to create solidarity, and to cleanse society of controversial ideas.”    Not surprisingly, the act of book burning has […]

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