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.


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 clich remains unspurned in it, but it's the theology of the article that is the main problem. He starts off by saying:
"Call it a tale of two brains:
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A new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking, rejecting extremism and fundamentalism?

Posted 21-Jan-2015 at 05:40 AM (05:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Jan-2015 at 07:00 AM (07:00) by Gurdur

At the end of an article on the loose collection of those who try silencing anyone who challenges extremism, Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani), an author and former Wall-Street-Journal reporter, proposed founding a new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking. Her article is here; she further gave a link to a new net site for this project, where another basic principle for this proposed new school of Islamic thought and law is given as adaab, good manners. Unfortunately, I...
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Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.

So why did James E. Holmes murder twelve people in a cinema at a Batman movie?

Posted 21-Jul-2012 at 12:55 PM (12:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Aug-2012 at 01:33 PM (13:33) by Gurdur

People aren't usually machines. They make choices. Was James Eagan Holmes * insane, driven by madness? He was born on December 13, 1987; on midnight of July 19 and the early morning of July 20, 2012, he killed 12 people and injured another 59 in a movie theater in Denver, Colorado, at a showing of the latest Batman film, a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Was he insane? Let's tackle the difficult part first.

The blogger The Last Psychiatrist once said in connection to...
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Malcolm Bowden gets his jollies from others' sufferings, claiming mental illnesses are only a sin of pride

Posted 26-Apr-2012 at 01:29 PM (13:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Apr-2012 at 01:52 PM (13:52) by Gurdur

Malcolm Bowden is a man who does not seem to have any medical training at all. That doesn't stop him dictating on medical issues; like someone with no experience nor knowledge telling you what to do with your appendix, you would be very well advised to be very wary of him. Bowden, a self-declared Evangelical Christian, has a strange website up advertising many of his off-the-wall opinions, ranging from on geocentricity of all things, to Young Earth Creationism, to stellar parallax and redshift variations,...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Officer down. RIP PC David Rathband, victim of Raoul Moat and of depression

Posted 01-Mar-2012 at 12:54 PM (12:54) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Mar-2012 at 01:17 PM (13:17) by Gurdur

PC David Rathband apparently committed suicide yesterday, after a long period of dealing with being blinded. He had been shot in the face by Raoul Moat almost 2 years ago, rendering him permanently blind; apparently, in what should have been a huge warning sign, he separated from his wife and family in November 2011. From the sketchy reports it seems he suffered from severe depression. A brief report on his suicide is here, a previous news report on his struggle with blindness is here.
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Rating: 9 votes, 5.00 average.

A blog post for American Christians and Mark Driscoll

Posted 13-Jan-2012 at 06:37 PM (18:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Jan-2012 at 07:48 PM (19:48) by Gurdur

Hi guys,
Mark Driscoll (@pastormark) of the Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington (not to be confused with the Mars Hill Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, of Rob Bell), made a whole long blog post all about himself, Mark Driscoll, and then said it was all about Jesus. His blog post is "A Blog Post for the Brits". Now, you might think it a bit odd for me to reply to all you American Christians and to Mark Driscoll, but bear with me.

Poor old Mark Driscoll is complaining there...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

So is the peak of human achievement being a hermit then?

Posted 26-Sep-2011 at 07:57 PM (19:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Sep-2011 at 08:08 PM (20:08) by Gurdur

Every time I look again at cases like that of Mark Rife, I come up with different views. I blogged on how I disagreed in part with Pastabagel over that case; now Pastabagel's fellow blogger on the Partial Objects site, The Last Psychiatrist (TLP), has weighed in with a comment under Pastabagel's post. TLP makes one obvious criticism, leastaways obvious to those who know the Partial Objects and TLP's own original blog well, that being that: "The essence of Mark Rifes problem is that he tried to...
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Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.

So what do you want Mark Rife's suicide to mean to you?

Posted 24-Sep-2011 at 03:54 AM (03:54) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Sep-2011 at 09:35 AM (09:35) by Gurdur

You may not have heard of Mark Rife yet, but even if you close down this screen and never come back, you will hear of him. And you can either decide what it should mean for you, or have it decided for you by mere accident of personal history. Mark Rife recently committed suicide just shortly after one thousand days 1,000 days, which is two and three-quarter years after the death of his wife, Sarah Ann Rife ne Testa, who died August 25, 2008. He waited so long because of a remark his wife had...
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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 Utya, many of them young teenagers. He is also a classical narcissist, unable...
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Poutrage posses, primary-ing Obama, and, of course, atheism

Posted 09-Jul-2011 at 05:58 AM (05:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 09-Jul-2011 at 06:40 AM (06:40) by Gurdur

I came across a great new phrase today - poutrage posse. In relation to some in the USA constantly attacking President Obama, and claiming to be doing it from the left. Let's get a few things straight. President Obama can only accomplish most what Congress allows or helps him to do so. Of what he can do on his own, he's done a hell of a lot already. The bottom line is also he is far better than the alternatives. That goes for USA federal and state elections too; whatever you want, you must persuade...
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How to deal with Richard Littlejohn and the #DailyFail -- write to advertisers, and use istyfosty and <nofollow>

Posted 23-Mar-2011 at 04:14 AM (04:14) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Mar-2011 at 02:44 PM (14:44) by Gurdur

By now, a good many people will be aware of the trash-talking that Richard Littlejohn indulges in. Littlejohn is a British hack who routinely trolls in a twice-weekly column for the tabloid The Daily Mail. It's important to realise that he trolls -- he is only assuming racist and other bigoted stances such as hinted homophobia just to annoy the public, and to gain supporters pathetic enough to need to live vicariously through Littlejohn, to make their little wieners feel longer. Moreover the Daily...
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The inadequacy, narcissism and racism of Richard Littlejohn

Posted 23-Mar-2011 at 01:15 AM (01:15) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Mar-2011 at 02:44 PM (14:44) by Gurdur

Richard Littlejohn is a British, rightwing hack who writes a twice-weekly column for the tabloid the Daily Mail. He delights in trying to troll the public, but his childish narcissism has now reached rock-bottom; he has stated in effect Japan deserves no help from outside after the earthquake -- because of World War Two. Since WW2 ended over 65 years ago, you might think it's somewhat irrelevant. Since one whole lot of Japanese children died in the tsunami and its wake after the earthquake, you...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Houston, Houston, you have a theological problem

Posted 29-Nov-2010 at 12:49 PM (12:49) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Nov-2010 at 01:53 PM (13:53) by Gurdur

A new study, done by the Brookings Institution together with the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), has found a huge majority of white Evangelicals believe in American exceptionalism. Not only that, but the study found 58% of polled Americans overall believed in American exceptionalism. You can read more about that study here, here and above all here,

Robert P. Jones of the PRRI said of the poll results:
"Americans who affirm the idea of 'American exceptionalism',
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The Jon Stewart And Stephen Colbert Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear

Posted 31-Oct-2010 at 05:50 AM (05:50) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 31-Oct-2010 at 12:49 PM (12:49) by Gurdur

The Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert "Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear" took place yesterday, on Saturday 30 October 2010, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., USA. It apparently went very well indeed. It looks like well over 200,000 people attended that rally yesterday, which compares brilliantly well with the only 87,000 at Glenn Beck's Tea Party rally back in August.

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Everything in moderation -- board culture, modding

Posted 29-Oct-2010 at 02:40 PM (14:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Oct-2010 at 12:21 AM (00:21) by Gurdur

Another day, another (smallish) piece from me inside a Panel Debate piece, in the Guardian, Cif section. Arguing about moderating on a board or similar is a bit like sporking yourself through the eyeballs; the more you do it, the more you wonder just why you are doing it. There are no less than 983 comments in the thread under that Panel piece; one bloke who did a lot of the running in the comments, and who made good sense, was MartynInEurope.

When I look through all those 983 comments,...
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Always talking about the relationship; Christians, the Bible, and so on

Posted 27-Oct-2010 at 01:53 PM (13:53) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 27-Oct-2010 at 02:02 PM (14:02) by Gurdur

If you're ever in a relationship with someone, and they keep bopping up to you and complaining, "I'm not happy about the relationship", at some stage you're really going to want to thwack them over the head hard and ask them, "Do you think you could possibly be a bit more specific and a bit more helpful?" If they can't get more specific and actually cooperative, you're going to be fully in your rights to see them as being very damned egocentric, narcissistic and simply using you. Anyone who keeps...
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Everyone looks like Raoul Moat: gin and tonic time, spork time with the Humanists

Posted 23-Sep-2010 at 12:40 PM (12:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Sep-2010 at 12:04 PM (12:04) by Gurdur

So I flew off to London to go to the big RSA/New Humanist event. I'm busy at the moment writing up a report for it for my blog, but it takes a bit of time, so you get this in the meantime, and I should have my report up on my blog later today. My planned report/blog post later today will be factual, well-sourced, and with every preposition fully justified in proof and given some link or 'tother. This blog post isn't. This blog post is just me rambling away, no links, bugger all explanation. You...
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Trolls, Gnu atheists, New Atheists, internet, personal abuse: meet reality

Posted 04-Aug-2010 at 04:10 PM (16:10) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

This blog post is prompted by a couple of recent comments on my blog, as well as by the long, long debate within the fragmenting atheist movement -- fragmenting largely as a result of the antics of Gnu atheists (the term New Atheists being only properly used for five people only), but more on that fragmentation in a separate blog post soon. The central issue surrounding the Gnu atheists is personal abuse (more than enough examples have been given in my blog, elsewhere, and looked at in depth)....
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Rating: 6 votes, 4.50 average.

Gnu Atheists, accommodationists, New Atheists: definitions of the terms

Posted 02-Aug-2010 at 07:21 AM (07:21) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Oct-2010 at 03:49 PM (15:49) by Gurdur

Since I'm going to be doing several blog posts very soon on certain recent incredible antics by wannabes, I am going to provide here definitions of some of the phrases currently tossed around in hapless word-salads on many atheist blogs and boards.
  • Atheism: Anyone who vocally rejects belief in all gods is an atheist. I am just such an atheist.

    Identification: most often self-applied, sometimes a label applied by others.
  • Antitheism/Anti-theism:
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