On today's program: Get to know author Reza Aslan ahead of a talk in Pittsburgh tonight; how one Troy Hillian engages his neighbors on community projects; a peek into the future of machine learning; a jazz musician pays homage to a Pittsburgh icon; and why labor leaders are livid with the retail giant Amazon.
How we perceive a higher power could say a lot about our narcissism
(00:00 — 13:10)
A common thread throughout human religious tradition often involves a creator shaping man in its image, but that origin story might have more to do with the human tendency to craft deities in our own image than the other way around.
Author and religious scholar Reza Aslan argues the inclination to conceive of a god or gods through a human lens is hardwired into our cognitive processes. It's the subject of his latest book "God: A Human History."
90.5 WESA’s Christopher Ayers spoke to Aslan ahead of his trip to Pittsburgh. Hear him tonight at 7:30 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland as part of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ “Ten Evenings” series.
Making Troy Hill a neighborhood people want to live in
(14:11 — 17:51)
Removed from the bustle of the city’s busier neighborhoods, Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood is a bit off the beaten path.
Patrick Duffey, vice chair of Troy Hill Citizens, is pushing resident participation in neighborhood programs. He tells 90.5 WESA's Brian Cook it's part of a greater hope to develop camaraderie and beautify the area.
What is machine learning, and what's the future of it?
(17:53 — 21:59)
Machine learning is an integral part of Pittsburgh's tech economy, thanks to Carnegie Mellon University's position as one of the nation's foremost research centers on the topic. That's enticed tech giants such as Google and Uber to set up shop in the Steel City.
But as 90.5 WESA’s Kathleen J. Davis reports, Pittsburghers vary on their knowledge on what machine learning really is.
Jazz pianist Deanna Witkowski honors a Pittsburgh great
(22:00 — 34:53)
Jazz legend and Pittsburgher Mary Lou Williams pushed the genre over her half century-long career, inspiring scores of young musicians along the way. Deanna Witkowski says she plans to honor Williams' creative genius in her upcoming book, “Mary Lou Williams: Music for the Soul.” She shared her performances and plans with 90.5 WESA’s Bob Studebaker.
Labor leader blasts Amazon for not using local workers
(35:01 — 39:02)
Labor leaders are blasting the e-commerce giant Amazon, accusing it of not hiring local workers to build a $30 million “fulfillment center” in Findlay Township – allegations the retail company denies.
WESA government and accountability editor Chris Potter reports the fulfillment center’s construction was initially well received by local officials, who’d been disappointed when the firm chose not to build a second headquarters in Pittsburgh. The fulfillment center was projected to create 800 full-time jobs, though labor officials say Amazon has chosen instead to work with out-of-state developers and contractors.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.