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Peter Buffett: The Charitable-Industrial Complex; As more lives are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.”

July 26, 2013

The Charitable-Industrial Complex

By PETER BUFFETT

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I HAD spent much of my life writing music for commercials, film and television and knew little about the world of philanthropy as practiced by the very wealthy until what I call the big bang happened in 2006. That year, my father, Warren Buffett, made good on his commitment to give nearly all of his accumulated wealth back to society. In addition to making several large donations, he added generously to the three foundations that my parents had created years earlier, one for each of their children to run.

Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to “save the day” in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms. Read more of this post

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For millions of readers around the world, a wildly successful free Bible app, YouVersion, is changing how, where and when they read the Bible

July 26, 2013

In the Beginning Was the Word; Now the Word Is on an App

By AMY O’LEARY

EDMOND, Okla. — More than 500 years after Gutenberg, the Bible is having its i-moment. For millions of readers around the world, a wildly successful free Bible app, YouVersion, is changing how, where and when they read the Bible. Built by LifeChurch.tv, one of the nation’s largest and most technologically advanced evangelical churches, YouVersion is part of what the church calls its “digital missions.” They include a platform for online church services and prepackaged worship videos that the church distributes free. A digital tithing system and an interactive children’s Bible are in the works. Read more of this post

Embracing the Dark Side: In our haste to embrace a 24/7 lifestyle, nocturnal hours once reserved for sociability, reflection and rest have been usurped

July 26, 2013, 5:19 p.m. ET

Embracing the Dark Side

In our haste to embrace a 24/7 lifestyle, nocturnal hours once reserved for sociability, reflection and rest have been usurped.

A. ROGER EKIRCH

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For more than 300 years, nocturnal darkness—Shakespeare’s “vast sin-concealing chaos”—has fought a rear-guard battle to fend off the forces of light. By the early 18th century, most European metropolises, from London to Vienna, had installed streetlights in response to mounting fears over crime. “The reign of the night is finally going to end,” a Parisian pamphleteer exulted in 1746. With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, accompanied by gas and then electric lighting, evening was open for pleasure as well as for business. Artificial illumination, by pushing back ages of primordial darkness, became the mightiest symbol of modern progress. Read more of this post

A Mysterious Hum Is Driving People Around The World Crazy

A Mysterious Hum Is Driving People Around The World Crazy

MARC LALLANILLALIVESCIENCE JUL. 26, 2013, 1:11 PM 17,165 27

It creeps in slowly in the dark of night, and once inside, it almost never goes away. It’s known as the Hum, a steady, droning sound that’s heard in places as disparate as Taos, N.M.; Bristol, England; and Largs, Scotland. But what causes the Hum, and why it only affects a small percentage of the population in certain areas, remain a mystery, despite a number of scientific investigations. [The Top 10 Unexplained Phenomena] Reports started trickling in during the 1950s from people who had never heard anything unusual before; suddenly, they were bedeviled by an annoying, low-frequency humming, throbbing or rumbling sound. The cases seem to have several factors in common: Generally, the Hum is only heard indoors, and it’s louder at night than during the day. It’s also more common in rural or suburban environments; reports of a hum are rare in urban areas, probably because of the steady background noise in crowded cities. Read more of this post

Does Evolution Want Us to Be Unhappy?

July 26, 2013, 6:51 p.m. ET

Does Evolution Want Us to Be Unhappy?

ALISON GOPNIK

Samuel Johnson called it the vanity of human wishes, and Buddhists talk about the endless cycle of desire. Social psychologists say we get trapped on a hedonic treadmill. What they all mean is that we wish, plan and work for things that we think will make us happy, but when we finally get them, we aren’t nearly as happy as we thought we’d be. Summer makes this particularly vivid. All through the busy winter I longed and planned and saved for my current vacation. I daydreamed about peaceful summer days in this beautiful village by the Thames with nothing to do but write. Sure enough, the first walk down the towpath was sheer ecstasy—but by the fifth, it was just another walk. The long English evenings hang heavy, and the damned book I’m writing comes along no more easily than it did in December. Read more of this post

The Appeal of Embarrassment: Blushing, fidgeting, looking down—the more contrite a wrongdoer looks, the more likable he seems

July 26, 2013, 7:03 p.m. ET

The Appeal of Embarrassment

Blushing, fidgeting, looking down—the more contrite a wrongdoer looks, the more likable he seems

ROBERT M. SAPOLSKY

Anthony Weineris front-page news again for all the wrong reasons. Just when he seemed to have turned a corner and become a credible candidate for mayor of New York City, he is embroiled in yet another flap over sexting. The usual has ensued: the news conference, the grim apology to disappointed supporters, the wife at his side amid murmurs of “how can she stick with him?” Watching the writhing of a celebrity caught doing something bad has become an American pastime. Regardless of the transgression, and whether it concerns a politician, athlete, actor or religious leader, there is great consistency to the spectacle of a public figure trying to seem contrite. Read more of this post

What would a world without banks look like? Converts to peer-to-peer websites such as Zopa and RateSetter believe we’re already there; Risk and reward in the p2p revolution

July 26, 2013 6:01 pm

Risk and reward in the p2p revolution

By Elaine Moore

What would a world without banks look like? Converts to peer-to-peer websites such as Zopa and RateSetter believe we’re already there – and it’s a utopia of 5 per cent returns, affordable loans to trustworthy borrowers and no hard selling of extra products. The UK government, Google and hard-nosed former Morgan Stanley chairman John Mack appear convinced, putting money behind the sector, and high street bank Santander is now considering a partnership with a peer-to-peer lender. But with interest rates almost double the equivalent offered by banks, what exactly are investors accepting in exchange for a lift in returns? Read more of this post

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