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Where I come from. Part One: Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) or The Interconnectedness of Everything

Posted 15-Mar-2015 at 03:32 AM (03:32) by BluePoppy (A Wild Patience)
Updated 22-Mar-2015 at 09:25 PM (21:25) by BluePoppy



Muriel Rukeyser: I remember distinctly the first time I heard her name – at graduate school in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts in 1993. The Five Colleges were the best place for me to get an education in liberal arts and American thought. The consortium Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith College as well as the University of Massachusetts to this day offers the best in higher education and identity formation for young adults.

I was lucky enough to
...
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Old

Of Finnish dragonflies & Himalayan poppy

Posted 14-Mar-2015 at 06:20 AM (06:20) by BluePoppy (A Wild Patience)
Updated 15-Mar-2015 at 03:39 AM (03:39) by BluePoppy

Years ago when I was traveling in Zanskar and Ladakh, I noticed probably the most delicate flower I had ever seen: blue poppy. Unlike my sister, who is a botanist, I would not be able to make any further distinction other than its color. It was very different from Californian poppy (bright orange in color), which I also adore and in turn is a whole different matter than the large poppy fields of Afghanistan that I visited during an assignment there.

However, the sight of this Himalayan variety
...
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Old

And now that book will never be written. My personal tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted 12-Mar-2015 at 08:58 PM (20:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I first met Terry Pratchett around twenty years ago, at a SF/fantasy convention in the Netherlands. I had not read any of his books, and I had thought they must be silly because of the book-cover design. This was not the only huge mistake I was to make. A year later, and a neurology research colleague at Duesseldorf university recommended his books to me. Eventually I actually read one, and I was blown away, hooked for evermore. Once I actually read his books, the book-cover design made perfect...
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Old

Graham Linehan doesn't like this. So pass it around.

Posted 07-Mar-2015 at 12:01 PM (12:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

One of the necessities for a free and open society is good, in-depth, balanced news reporting. Digging down to find the truth and then to broadcast it is an essential activity for any society that prizes real equality, justice and diversity. Free and open discussion of issues is vital for a good society; and good reportage is indispensable for that.

Today, newspapers with their teams of reporters face economic meltdown, something which will impoverish us all, since we will lack...
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Old

How Prof Brian Cox got sin-binned for having the 'wrong' wife; and what that means for us all.

Posted 26-Feb-2015 at 07:22 AM (07:22) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Laughably, Prof. Brian Cox - a household name in Britain in science-communication - was attacked for having the 'wrong' wife. Not so laughable at all though was the large-scale harassment directed against him by flamers. They also mounted a major campaign of harassment against another person who is also a household name in Britain for science-communication, Prof. Mary Beard. The personal attacks upon Cox about his wife were in the course of Cox' having tweeted in mild, polite support of an open letter ...
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Old

Some success: VICE take down their HIV-denialist story. But they do it weirdly

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 09:55 PM (21:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 10:07 PM (22:07) by Gurdur

Success of a sort: VICE have taken down their HIV-denialist story. I blogged about that story here, and I protested (with others) to @Vice and @ViceUK. Our protests worked. The webpage for the story now has the following:

Quote:
"This article was mistakenly translated from another territory and has been removed."
What does that even mean? "Mistakenly translated from another territory"? I'll bet you the story was written in English first and foremost; see the writer's tweet...
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Old

Supporting free speech - or wearing a fedora - can easily get you into trouble

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 07:03 PM (19:03) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 10:12 PM (22:12) by Gurdur

I wrote about the BlockBot and its history in my second-last blog post. In that post, while I did detail some of the attacks by the Blockbot group and their hangers-on against feminists, I did not go into two vital aspects: the deliberate attack by the BlockBot group on free speech overall as such, and why this is important. As said in my post on this before, the danger is of people adopting its block lists, or believing the false claim for the BlockBot that:
"Twitter is polluted by a number...
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Old

HIV-denialism is resurrected - by VICE magazine

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 07:39 AM (07:39) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 04:19 PM (16:19) by Gurdur

Around 20 years ago, you could hear the whimpers of HIV-denialism being soundly driven into rout. Denialism of HIV usually took the form of denying that the HIV virus causes AIDS. Even though I often blog on health matters, and my Twitter circles include many scientists and medicos, I haven't heard any real HIV denialism except that reported from places such as South Africa (where political leaders had given a huge boost to denialism). It kills. People died needlessly, many, because of such denialism....
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Old

The no-platforming of feminists in Britain, on Twitter and elsewhere; or, Why Paul Mason News UK has blocked several feminists, Lady Gaga and President Obama

Posted 17-Feb-2015 at 09:07 PM (21:07) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Feb-2015 at 10:57 PM (22:57) by Gurdur

On Sunday, a letter, protesting in the name of free speech against the no-platforming of feminists, and signed by over a hundred British academics, activists, scientists and others, was published by the Observer. That letter was also signed by the very well-known Prof. Mary Beard (@wmarybeard) and Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell), both of whom came in for sustained attack and harassment on Twitter all Sunday and Monday - and the harassment continues. Prof. Mary Beard wrote a little about the attacks...
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Old

Odd mirror-images in Ebola and measles debates

Posted 11-Feb-2015 at 06:17 PM (18:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Feb-2015 at 06:36 PM (18:36) by Gurdur

One of the odd things I noticed watching the social-media brouhaha over the latest measles outbreak in the USA was an odd mirror-image of attitudes towards quarantine because of Ebola. People who were critical of strict quarantine measures in the USA regarding Ebola were suddenly quite harsh in wanting punitive measures to back up mandatory vaccination for measles. People who were all in favor of harsh quarantine measures against Ebola seem quite relaxed with regard to measles vaccination. Both...
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Old

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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Old

Authors, please don't do this on social-media. For your own sakes.

Posted 15-Jan-2015 at 10:28 PM (22:28) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 15-Jan-2015 at 11:13 PM (23:13) by Gurdur

Book authors, I get it's a long, lonely, grueling effort to sell one's books, even using the social-media of today. However, please do not do what is shown below. To explain the two screen-capture images: these are both screen-grabs of tweets immediately following each other on my Twitter timeline (TL) from three different Twitter accounts. In other words, they all posted the same tweet at the same time. It makes all three authors on Twitter look like sock-puppets of each other, and it also can...
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Old

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:
Quote:
"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
...
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Old
Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist) goes off the rails on the #Manoora case

Posted 23-Dec-2014 at 06:25 PM (18:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Dec-2014 at 07:49 PM (19:49) by Gurdur

There was a very distressing incident a day or so ago. An Australian mother, Raina Thaiday, is accused of having "stabbed seven of her own nine children, and a niece. The victims ranged in age from two to fourteen". This happened within the Torres Strait Islander community in Manoora, Queensland, Australia. The mother is charged with having murdered "three of her daughters, aged 2, 11 and 12, four of her sons, aged 5, 6, 8 and 9, and her 14-year-old niece".

Psychosis happens. Look...
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Old

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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Old

The gamification of human society and control: Modelling markets, protest, regulation, cooperation, planning and freedom

Posted 11-Dec-2014 at 03:06 PM (15:06) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Dec-2014 at 05:28 PM (17:28) by Gurdur

Gamification of human society has gone on a lot longer than you might think. There is the ancient game of chess, which came to to the West via Persia (checkmate, IIRC, comes from shah-mak, meaning death of the Shah). Chess, which has Chinese (象棋, Xiàngqí) and Japanese (将棋, shōgi) forms as well, models both human society and ritualized warfare. Much more ancient is the game of Go ( 囲碁, igo). The game of course models conflict, though not with as much...
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Old

Evolutionary Forecasting. Because your money AND your life.

Posted 12-Nov-2014 at 09:35 PM (21:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 12-Nov-2014 at 10:02 PM (22:02) by Gurdur

Evolutionary forecasting is the new name given to predicting what genetic changes might happen to a whole population. So it's looking at how statistically a total population changes, at what bundle of traits might change with respect to the percent of each trait, and at what new traits might come into being, and what other traits might die out. Is it important? Only if both your money and your life matter to you!

In the years 1918 to 1921, no less than at least 50 million people died...
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Old

Spoiling the narrative: #Gawker, lizzyf620 and #SockpuppetConfessions

Posted 04-Nov-2014 at 10:45 PM (22:45) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Nov-2014 at 11:48 PM (23:48) by Gurdur

This is the second in a highly non-connected series of posts I'm doing on narrative. We are Pan narrans, the story-telling chimpanzee; if you or I work really hard at it, we might make it to being Homo sapiens. And yes, narrative is highly important - more than you know - to both science and to the history of science as it is presented. Even unto the neurophysical side! Narrativium rules OK! But let's leave the baffling-with-science bit for the next blog post, and let's look at competing narratives,...
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Old

Unexpected narratives: sadnesses

Posted 04-Nov-2014 at 07:09 PM (19:09) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I have to blog on the narrative, and what it means for people; it's much more important than many think to life, and to anything human, including history of science. So the next few blog posts of mine will be, in different ways, all about narrative and narratives - as well as control by narrators. First up though is an almost accidental thing; having bought the entire set of Breaking Bad episodes (5 seasons), I watched them all to the end. The very last scene of the last episode of the last season...
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Old
Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Cathy Young, Anita Sarkeesian, and The Hunger Games

Posted 02-Nov-2014 at 06:38 AM (06:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Nov-2014 at 07:00 AM (07:00) by Gurdur

Just out of the blue my eye was caught by an article by Cathy Young (@CathyYoung63) on literary criticism by Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq) of The Hunger Games (a trilogy of books by author Suzanne Collins, @_SuzanneCollins, which have partly and will be fully rendered into movies). Cathy Young's article is well-written, and presents many worthy points, but I would like to add some points of my own to all this, and there are certain themes that need to be drawn out of the subject - a subject I have...
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