The Curiosity Index (15.06.2018)

Machine learning predicts World Cup winner

Researchers have predicted the outcome after simulating the entire soccer tournament 100,000 times. Turns out the computers know what we all know – Germany will win and on the way knock-out England. Typical.

*Team of the tournament is Iceland simply for being there: The Planning Lesson in Iceland’s World Cup Miracle – remember Iceland only has 350,000 people (although the computers think that’s unimportant).

*Bonus Iceland article: Rock Piles and Elves: Secularism and the Supernatural in Iceland

Soccer Fields Around the World

Sticking with football, I loved this collection of photos

KV Svalbard’s crew, formed by Norwegian navy privates and scientists from Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, play soccer as they are protected from polar bears by armed guards in the arctic environment in the sea around Greenland, on March 22, 2018. Picture taken March 22, 2018. (Marius Vagenes Villanger / Kystvakten / Sjoforsvaret / NTB Scanpix / Norsk Telegrambyra AS / Reuters)
My top 11 delights of Finland

After almost a year in Finland, Charis breaks down what she’s appreciated about Finland.

*A Finland bonus article: Why Finland is home to the world’s most radical libraries

The maligning of early Christianity

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry:

Even if we didn’t pay much attention in history class, we’re all familiar with this narrative, because it’s everywhere. The ancient world, we are told, was tolerant, open-minded, and believed in philosophy and free inquiry, and the advent of Christianity ruined all of that.
You can find this narrative in countless works of popular culture. The latest salvo is a book by the historian Catherine Nixon whose title, The Darkening Age, speaks volumes. As a review in The New York Times puts it, Nixon casts the early Christian church as “a master of anti-intellectualism, iconoclasm, and mortal prejudice.”
I hope I don’t have to spell out the political advantages that this narrative can have today. Too bad it’s wrong.

Why Japan Wants Its Past Persecution of Christians to Be World Renowned

I linked to some stories about Japan’s & Christianity yesterday and then noticed I’d missed this article:

This month, a dozen Christian landmarks in Japan—where just 1 percent of the population claims Christ—have been officially recommended to be named World Heritage sites. Spanning across the Nagasaki and Amakusa region, these sites represent places where believers during the Tokugawa shogunate (1630-1867) suffered the harshest persecution and martyrdom in the Asian nation’s history.


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