Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur

 




A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.

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The Garissa terrorism attack by Al-Shabaab in Kenya, and its context

Posted 08-Apr-2015 at 03:23 PM (15:23) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Six days ago, Al Shabaab gunmen entered Garissa University and murdered at least 148 people. The initial death toll was reported as 147, thus the hashtag #147NotJustANumber, which was created by Kenyans to honor the murder victims. The terrorists had taken over 700 as hostages, then let most of the Muslim students go, and ended up murdering 149, mostly Christian students aged between 19 and 23. At least one Muslim was also murdered by the Al Shabaab terrorists.

Al Shabaab is an Islamist,...
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You won't find ISIS in the brain or genes. The Daily Beast tries to sell you an imaginary Brooklyn Bridge

Posted 17-Mar-2015 at 07:01 PM (19:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Some people have big problems living with uncertainty, so they like to drastically amputate parts of reality till they find a vision they can live with. Perhaps in line with that, David Ewing Duncan (@Duncande) has written an article on the Daily Beast, in which it is generally opined you may find ISIS in the brain, or the genes, or both. No cliché remains unspurned in it, but it's the theology of the article that is the main problem. He starts off by saying:
Quote:
"Call it a tale of two brains:
...
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An #ff for @RazaRumi - journalism, literature and culture in Pakistan

Posted 20-May-2014 at 12:44 AM (00:44) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Dec-2014 at 03:47 PM (15:47) by Gurdur

Raza Rumi is one of the courageous journalists in Pakistan who risks being murdered daily. He is also an editor and networker who has helped a good many other journalists and activists in Pakistan, and he has stood up at all times in the defence of minorities inside Pakistan, whether Ahmadis, Christians or whomever. Through his writing and his use of social media, he has consistantly promoted others and their own efforts. others such as Sana Saleem, and he has consistantly promoted Pakistani culture,...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

This is what the Taliban do. They murder. The execution of a dozen Pakistani police and others in Dir, next to Afghanistan

Posted 18-Jul-2011 at 02:00 PM (14:00) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Jul-2011 at 02:13 PM (14:13) by Gurdur

There is a video below, obviously taken by Taliban themselves. It is of the execution in cold blood of around thirteen Pakistani police and others, in Dir district of Pakistan, next to Afghanistan, carried out as part of a raid reportedly from Afghanistan, on 01 June 2011. Do not watch the video if you cannot handle seeing blatant murder; and this is exactly what it is, murder. There is a translation of the speech given by a Taliban member in the video shortly before the policemen are shot; the...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Society, Ethics And Science Weekly blogs round-up - 20/21 March 2011

Posted 21-Mar-2011 at 09:24 PM (21:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Mar-2011 at 11:30 PM (23:30) by Gurdur

Last week I was too ill to do the weekly blogs round-up, so this one is going to be a bit bigger than usual. As ever, the best around the web on the issues that affect us all, the issues of interest. I have a backlog of a million more links I would like to cite here, but just to make sure I get this damned and damnable thing out on time, I will leave it as it now is and maybe do a follow-up addition in a new blog post.


Science: @BoraZ of the blog A Blog Around The Clock announces...
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Just too good - FOX news fooled by Pakistani version of Onion spoof news

Posted 14-Mar-2011 at 01:50 AM (01:50) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Mar-2011 at 02:17 AM (02:17) by Gurdur

This is all too good. A note of merriment in these sad days. FOX News (USA) has been comprehensively pwned by the Pakistani version of something like the satirical Onion spoof-news site. Here is the FOX news story (and I've included a screen-capture picture below in case FOX pulls it later): "Pakistan: Islamic Clerics Protest Women Wearing Padded Bras as 'Devil’s Cushions' ".

FOX of course basically nicked the story straight from this (the original spoof, by @JBXN, a Pakistani of...
Posted in Laughter
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A piece by Nick Cohen in the Guardian today on Western liberals and Pakistan after the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti

Posted 06-Mar-2011 at 02:33 PM (14:33) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Nick Cohen has a piece up in the Guardian today on Western liberals regarding the situation in Pakistan after the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. I'm a bit critical of a few aspects of Cohen's piece.

Speaking as a Western "liberal", I personally have no troubles openly criticising the blatant hypocrisy and murderousness of many Muslim clerics in Pakistan. Nor do I have any trouble trying to get and pass on a reasonably accurate and critical look at what is happening...
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The pathetic hypocrisy and immorality of Nawaz Kharal and many Muslim clerics in Pakistan

Posted 04-Mar-2011 at 03:51 PM (15:51) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Mar-2011 at 04:20 PM (16:20) by Gurdur

Nawaz Kharal, who is the spokesman for the Sunni Ittehad Council, which speaks for the Barelvi strand of Sunni Islam in Pakistan, and thereby theologically the vast majority of Muslims in Pakistan and in the Pakistani diaspora, has issued a statement, saying, "We wholly condemn the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti".

Oh how nice of them. Oh how nice of Nawaz Kharal. Let's not forget, though, it was only a very short while ago that (from this news report):

Quote:
"... The secretary
...
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More news on the Pakistan situation after the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti

Posted 03-Mar-2011 at 05:54 PM (17:54) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Mar-2011 at 06:24 PM (18:24) by Gurdur

The situation regarding Bhatti's murder still leaves a lot of big questions open; allegedly, Shahbaz Bhatti had told his security detail to take the time off, but the murderers numbered a well-equipped team of at the very least three (and more likely at least five, including necessary spotters and so on), and they knew exactly where to find Bhatti, and when, and knew when to attack - i.e. when no security were around. So how exactly did they know that? We already know the security around Taseer...
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Still a few left in Pakistan who have balls and a spine; Marvi Memon is one of them

Posted 01-Mar-2011 at 03:35 PM (15:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Mar-2011 at 03:45 PM (15:45) by Gurdur

Marvi Memon, a member of the National Assembly (the parliament) of Pakistan, has made a campaign centered around the call against Islamist fundamentalism, and for inclusiveness, equality, tolerance, pluralism, democracy, and genuine rights for minorities in Pakistan.

You can read her submitted resolution here; you can read about Marvi Memon herself here.

You can read about the murder of Salman Salmaan) Taseer and the overall situation in Pakistan in my blog posts:...
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My review of the novel by China Miéville, Kraken (science fiction/fantasy, evolution, Darwin, atheism, faith and religion)

Posted 13-May-2010 at 10:04 AM (10:04) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-May-2010 at 03:11 PM (15:11) by Gurdur

I'm going to review the SF/fantasy novel Kraken, (author: China Miéville; USA edition, British edition) here, rather than on the Hub board, because this novel has been getting a lot of interest in the blogosphere, dealing as it does with themes including Darwin, evolution, religion, faith and atheism. It's quite a long novel; my hardcover copy runs to 482 pages. It's a very well-written, well-paced novel indeed, and yet I found it ultimately disappointing. Perhaps I found it disappointing because...
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The Kraken Wakes, Only It's A Teabagger Republican Christian Wingnut

Posted 01-Feb-2010 at 01:08 AM (01:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Mar-2010 at 03:49 AM (03:49) by Gurdur

All proper SF fans will well know The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham, first published in 1953, and still a truly excellent book, very damned readable indeed, and still an all-time classic of science fiction. The word Kraken comes from the original Norse krake, meaning a misformed or evil animal, and into Germanic as an octopus and sometimes squid.

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
...
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Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.

The Etymological Fallacy, and the meaning of the words "atheist" and "fundamentalist"

Posted 12-Sep-2009 at 07:31 PM (19:31) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 27-Mar-2010 at 07:00 AM (07:00) by Gurdur

I was reminded of all of this by something that came up on the RDF board. Argument from etymology is a fallacy, and well-known as the Wikipedia link for Etymological_fallacy Etymological_fallacy, but it's one that keeps getting used on atheist boards, as in the objections to the phrase "fundamentalist atheist" or the recurring debate on just the word "atheist" means.

It's also a very ironic debate. Back, way back round the 1970's onwards, when the Religious Right were organizing, others disparaged them as "fundamentalists",...
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Whither the USA? Or: Why America is like Turkey and vice versa

Posted 27-Aug-2009 at 03:19 AM (03:19) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 27-Mar-2010 at 06:57 AM (06:57) by Gurdur

In the news is the ongoing battle over health insurance in the US Congress. Now, no matter your politics is, one has to say that liberals in the USA could do far better than they are doing. Hadley Freeman over on the Guardian had a good word to say about that all:
Quote:
If Obama can stand up to Scotland, why can't he stand up to the Republicans?

If only the president would forget the cool and reasoned debate for a moment, and take a tip from Barney Frank ...
...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Need for unbelief versus the belief in unbelief: answering Baber's question, Part 2

Posted 19-Jul-2009 at 08:56 AM (08:56) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Mar-2010 at 07:43 AM (07:43) by Gurdur

This is the second part of my reply to H.E. Baber, the first part having been handled in my other blog post, and in this part I would like to passionately express how much unbelief is needed, and by whom, as versus "belief in unbelief", as termed by H.E. Baber.

A good many atheists arrive at their atheism, their unbelief, all without any help whatsoever, without ever having read a tome by a famous atheist writer, without ever having read a screed by an atheist extremist. As one of...
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Overly hostile belief in unbelief: answering H.E. Baber's question, Part 1

Posted 19-Jul-2009 at 08:05 AM (08:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Mar-2010 at 08:02 AM (08:02) by Gurdur

On the Guardian on Friday, the philosopher H.E. Baber, who is a philosophy professor at the University of San Diego, has asked the question, "I would be very interested in hearing why the New Atheists and their followers believe, with such manifest conviction, in unbelief."

Her question needs a fair bit of explanation; it is asked in the context founded by Daniel Dennett when he in a Guardian piece passionately deplored what he claimed to be belief in belief by atheists. I discussed...
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