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.


Thank-you, @Nature! A stand made for both science and society against terrorism

Posted 15-Jan-2015 at 09:01 PM (21:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Nature, the famous, international, weekly journal of science, made a strong stand on the Charlie Hebdo terrorism attack. Nature issued a statement pointing out that free "scientific thinking and satire — both religious and political — are crucial in challenging and undermining dogma and authoritarianism". The statement also contained:
"The terrorists who murdered 17 people, including 8 staff members of the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, falsely claimed to act in the name
Posted in Uncategorized
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The Pakistan situation after the #PeshawarAttack

Posted 17-Dec-2014 at 07:02 PM (19:02) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Dec-2014 at 07:29 PM (19:29) by Gurdur

Nothing points to the moral and practical insanity widespread in Pakistan more than the example of the Afghanistan Taliban condemning the Pakistan Taliban for the murder of over 141 innocents, mostly children. One gang of murderers condemning another gang of murderers for murder. In the context of the latest Peshawar attack, also pointing to that moral and practical insanity are the examples of some demanding CNN stop creating a "false image of Pakistan", because those people forget Malala Yousafzai,...
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Weird: John Horgan contra drones.

Posted 30-Oct-2012 at 03:17 PM (15:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Oct-2012 at 05:46 PM (17:46) by Gurdur

In a blog post on the renowned Scientific American site, John Horgan (@Horganism) takes aim at drones, but unscientifically so. Right on the eve of the national election for the presidency, his blog post starts off with his stating that a lot of his liberal friends are "disappointed" with President Obama. Then Horgan zeroes in on drones and their use by the USA in Pakistan and the Yemen.

His entire argument is slapdash. He points to problems the Pakistani democracy has with legitimization...
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Islamism resurgent? Events in Libya and Egypt on 9/11

Posted 12-Sep-2012 at 02:05 PM (14:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Sep-2012 at 12:12 AM (00:12) by Never (fix date to American)

Sad news from Libya, apparently the American ambassador has been killed there. The murder of the ambassador happened yesterday, on 11 September, 2012, during a protest outside the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Two to three security staff of the ambasador's were apparently also murdered, and three members of Libyan security forces were injured. On the same day there were also large protests outside the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt. An Egyptian blogger, @Zeinobia, has raised the point...
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Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.

God behind bars, atheism in cells: prison chaplains and some issues

Posted 24-Feb-2012 at 04:19 PM (16:19) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Feb-2012 at 02:51 AM (02:51) by Gurdur

So there's a bit of news that the Church of England (CofE) could lose the directing position in the prison chaplaincies service in England and Wales. That bit of news is not altogether surprising; there's a fair amount of chaotic social upheaval going on in Britain, with all sorts of peculiar, ill-aimed gambits going on (more on this below). The present UK government may give the job of Chaplain-General for the Prison Service to someone else other than an Anglican. Just why seems to be a matter...
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The (a)theology of being blown up; atheists in foxholes

Posted 20-Sep-2011 at 06:09 PM (18:09) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Sep-2011 at 09:24 PM (21:24) by Gurdur

Owing to comments on a previous blog post of mine, I started thinking about comparisons between being burnt badly and being blown up. Having had both happen to me, being blown up is definitely better than being burnt badly, as long as you survive, lose no limbs or hearing permanently, and don't get burnt too much. Being blown up is over in a flash, leaving you to recover (I once knew a bloke, a fellow worker in a mine, who was blown 100 yards through a tunnel by an explosion, like a pea in a shooter...
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9/11 - the USA and beyond, as in Pakistan

Posted 11-Sep-2011 at 07:38 PM (19:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Sep-2011 at 07:44 PM (19:44) by Gurdur

9/11 was marked today in the USA by a minutes' silence and, in New York City, sirens, and a remembrance ceremony at Ground Zero. Pakistan managed to officially send its support through its Foreign Ministry to the USA, also pointing out that Pakistan itself remains very much a victim of Islamist terrorism. And so it does; in the years between 2001 and now, Pakistan has suffered over 10,000 dead in that struggle.

And only a short while back the son of Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Taseer, was kidnapped in Pakistan;...
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Society, Ethics And Science Weekly blogs round-up - 17 August 2011

Posted 17-Aug-2011 at 06:08 PM (18:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Aug-2011 at 09:11 PM (21:11) by Gurdur

So much to do, so much to write about. But first, let's see what everyone else is writing about, in another Society, Ethics And Science Weekly (SEAS) blogs round-up.

Religion, society, ethics, atheism, politics: The blog "Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion" takes a look at a spat between Maryam Namazie and Adam Barnett on the one side against Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and the English Defence League (EDL) on the other side. Maryam Namazie and Adam Barnett wrote a report titled, "Enemies...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Dr. Tim Stanley is clueless about theology, psychiatry, the law, ethics or the mind ....

Posted 26-Jul-2011 at 03:17 PM (15:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Jul-2011 at 04:55 PM (16:55) by Gurdur

... but he really, really doesn't want you to make any connection between violent rhetoric and violent deeds. Dr. Tim Stanley has a PhD, but it would seem to be in history, and when he writes on psychiatry, you find out quickly why you go to a medical doctor and not a historian for medical matters including psychiatry. Stanley has written an ignorant piece for the Daily Telegraph blogs. In it, two of his concluding sentences are, "The kind of person who can systematically shoot and kill that many...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Anders Behring Breivik, the problem of evil, the demonization of the mentally ill, medicine, science and ethics

Posted 25-Jul-2011 at 07:01 PM (19:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Jul-2011 at 07:22 PM (19:22) by Gurdur

As people struggle to cope with Breivik's deeds, they often call him "deranged" and "insane", which is simply wrong, unscientific empty name-calling, and adds to the demonization of the actual mentally ill - most of whom will never hurt anyone but themselves if anyone. Most of us can agree that Breivik is evil, but evil is a very loose concept, often misused by people, adding to the confusion. Many of us can agree that there is no point in describing natural events or sheer randomicity as evil;...
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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

Anders Behring Breivik, terrorism, and those who make excuses for terrorism

Posted 24-Jul-2011 at 06:37 PM (18:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Jul-2011 at 07:42 PM (19:42) by Gurdur

Terrorism is the use of violent acts intended to create terror and which deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatant civilians, in pursuit of any alleged goal. By that and by any other reasonable definition of terrorism, Anders Behring Breivik is a terrorist. There is no excuse; he is a terrorist. The murder of innocents; Breivik went out of his way to specifically murder innocents, whether in Oslo or in Utøya, many of them young teenagers. He is also a classical narcissist, unable...
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Jeff Bercovici, his personal grudges, citizen journalism, social media: Journalism 2.0 and the deaths in Afghanistan

Posted 08-Apr-2011 at 06:26 PM (18:26) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Apr-2011 at 07:38 PM (19:38) by Gurdur

Very recently, as you know, UN and support staff were murdered in Mazar-e Sharif. Further demonstrations and riots have followed in that part of the world, all allegedly in response to the theatrical burning of the Qur'an by Pastor Terry Jones. "When Journalism 2.0 Kills" was how Jeff Bercovici, a columnist, described it, in his headline on his blog post made on the Forbes site. In that post, he used the deaths of UN staff and others to first blame, rightly or wrongly, a 21-year-old student who...
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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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The murders in Pakistan just go on and on and on and on; attack on Sufi shrine, Akbarpura, Nowshera District, eleven dead

Posted 05-Mar-2011 at 04:23 AM (04:23) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Mar-2011 at 06:50 AM (06:50) by Gurdur

At least eleven people have been killed, and thirty-seven more injured, by an explosives attack on a mosque, at the Akhond Panjo Baba shrine in the village of Akbarpura in the Nowshera District, Pakistan. The attack came during the distribution of food after prayers.

The significance of this is that the mosque and shrine are Sufi Muslim. The Islam of the terrorists is often Barelvi, Deobandi (which both belong to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam) or similar.

All moderates...
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Al Qaeda/Islamist links - of a sort - confirmed for perpetrator of Frankfurt airport shooting

Posted 04-Mar-2011 at 05:51 PM (17:51) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

The day before yesterday, on Wednesday, I blogged on the shooting at Frankfurt airport, soon after it happened, and I raised the possibility of an Al Qaeda link, while discussing that Al Qaeda links for Kosovans are very few and far between indeed. The reason for Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania not being terribly receptive to Al Qaeda is because they are actually grateful to the USA for its intervention in the Balkan wars/genocides, and its support of Kosovan independence (unlike the utterly disgraceful perfomance of John Major, Malcolm Rifkind and Douglas Hurd...
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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):

"... The secretary
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The non-mystifyingly inadequate Christian response to the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti

Posted 04-Mar-2011 at 02:42 AM (02:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Mar-2011 at 04:21 PM (16:21) by Gurdur

There is a worryingly inadequate Christian response to the murder of the Pakistani Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, but I think it's unfortunately clear why that response is inadequate, and I shall discuss that here, though I am basically confining myself to discussing British Christians here. Please read this explanatory blog post first if you haven't already read it. And if you think I am being too heavy on Christians, wait till tomorrow when I get stuck into atheists. Because as an atheist...
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Moderates holding emergency meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, following murder of Shahbaz Bhatti; vigils held outside press clubs

Posted 02-Mar-2011 at 03:57 PM (15:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Mar-2011 at 05:20 PM (17:20) by Gurdur

Moderates inside Pakistan are holding an emergency meeting right now in Islamabad following the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities in the Pakistani government. It is essential to realise just how much pressure is being placed upon moderates of all stripes inside Pakistan, through threats, intimidation, lynchings and other murders.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, was murdered today; he was a Christian, but was supported by many moderate Muslims, like Salmaan Taseer,...
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Bumper weekly blogs round-up - 20/21 February 2011

Posted 21-Feb-2011 at 09:13 PM (21:13) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Feb-2011 at 09:52 PM (21:52) by Gurdur

This is a bumper round-up of blog posts for this week, since owing to illness I could not do one last week. This time round I've added small headings (in dark green) for entries to help reading this. Subjects as ever are science, philosophy, atheism, religion, humanism, history, literature, and, basically, anything that strikes my fancy. I have a broad fancy. I'm still as sick as a very dead brown dog, so please excuse this round-up coming late in on Monday evening.

Science: reporting...
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Extremist Islamists in Malaysia declare war on romance

Posted 13-Feb-2011 at 08:18 PM (20:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Feb-2011 at 08:30 PM (20:30) by Gurdur

In line with extremist Islamist efforts in the region and elsewhere, such as in neighbouring Indonesia where blasphemy laws like those of Pakistan's have been introduced, and members of more moderate Muslim strands have been viciously murdered, in a blatant power push by extremist Islamists, now the same type are trying it on in Malaysia. This time, by declaring a war on romance and Valentine's Day. Note that these authoritarian decrees and murders are as yet mainly directed at fellow Muslims, aimed...
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