Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 1:55 pm
We've been hearing a lot recently about how algorithms can predict just about anything. They find long-lost friends on Facebook and guess which books we'll buy next on Amazon. Algorithms hit the big time this month, when New York Times blogger Nate Silver used mathematical models and statistics to correctly forecast the outcome of every state in the presidential election.
You might think that actor Irrfan Khan — the co-star of the special effects-filled film Life of Pi -- performed his scenes by himself, or with inanimate objects that would later be transformed via CGI. Not so: As the older Pi in Ang Lee's new adaptation of the best-selling novel, Khan went back to the basics.
He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of scenes as being like duets: "You strike a note, and somebody responds, and then you respond accordingly," Khan says.
What did Jesus look like? The many different depictions of Christ tell a story about race and religion in America. Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey explore that history in their new book, The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. The book traces how different races and ethnic groups claimed Christ as their own — and how depictions of Jesus have both inspired civil rights crusades, and been used to justify the violence of white supremacists.
With Thanksgiving a few days away, you have to save as much stomach room as you can. That means, of course, breathing your food. To that end: Le Whif Breathable Chocolate. They're like little plastic chocolate cigarettes, filled with some kind of chocolate powder.
As Thanksgiving draws near, many of us are thinking about what we're thankful for — taking time to consider how best to appreciate what we have in our lives. This year, novelist and memoirist Anne Lamott has focused on using prayer to help express our thanks. Many of her books explore how individuals can transform their lives — how one moves from being troubled to feeling whole. In Lamott's case, she suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse; after hitting rock bottom, she found her faith.
Back in the 17th century, right around the time when the ideas of great thinkers like Descartes and Newton and Hobbes began to shape the world, a Jesuit priest named Athanasius Kircher also tried to make his mark.
Kircher was something of a jack-of-all-trades. He wrote more than 30 books; he was a philosopher, an inventor, a historian, a scientist. Back in his day, everyone knew about him. But it didn't help his reputation that many of his theories and inventions just couldn't hold water.