Blog Entries



The politics of pronouns, the language of abuse and democracy

Posted 19-May-2016 at 09:32 PM (21:32) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

You can make anything political, from cheese to pronouns. Whether you can do that in any worthwhile way is a different matter. An exchange on Twitter caught my eye, since it touched upon linguistics. The New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) is demanding that employers, landlords, professionals and 'all businesses' in New York City ask people their preferred gender pronoun from their first interaction. It appears the NYCCHR is also prescribing what pronounds can be used; in other words,...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 11408 Comments 1 Gurdur is offline

Where I come from. Part Three: My friend Newell or Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone (3)

Posted 15-Apr-2015 at 12:06 AM (00:06) by BluePoppy (A Wild Patience)
Updated 15-Apr-2015 at 12:13 AM (00:13) by BluePoppy

In memoriam W. Newell Hendricks (1943-2015)

Newell at the piano with his wife Barbara on the violin.

Yesterday the Boston Globe ran the obituary for my friend Newell. You can read it here. Since it includes only a couple of lines from a poem he wrote last November which I found quite remarkable, let me share it with you:
Little Things I can still do

I can sit.
Views 3260 Comments 0 BluePoppy is offline

Legal action against the BlockBot team?

Posted 15-Mar-2015 at 09:17 PM (21:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Imagine if I was to make a public list. I could call it,
"A list of pedophiles, rapists, and those who shield them in any way.
Plus anyone else I simply don't like."
Now imagine I put your name on that list, and I publicize it high and low. You of course furiously complain to me that you are neither a pedophile, nor a rapist, nor someone who shields any suchlike. I dismiss your complaint airily and say, I never called you pedophile, rapist or suchlike. You should have...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 25065 Comments 12 Gurdur is offline

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 ...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 25827 Comments 2 Gurdur is offline

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...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 5620 Comments 0 Gurdur is offline

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...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 11475 Comments 0 Gurdur is offline

Threats and gender-treason: #GamerGate goes weird.

Posted 31-Oct-2014 at 09:11 AM (09:11) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 31-Oct-2014 at 10:27 AM (10:27) by Gurdur

Most of you know about #GamerGate, the huge fuss going on inside the gamer communities. It's a controversy on which I've blogged before. Less than half a day ago, it got worse. Over Twitter and on his blog, Bobby Oliveira - @bobbyo1967 - accused the feminist scholar Christina H. Sommers of "gender treason", and threatened to keep on harassing her until Sommers denounced #GamerGate. If Bobby Oliveira could accomplish that, he threatened then to go further and to harass others until they too denounced...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 6312 Comments 4 Gurdur is offline

The bizarre smears used against Michael Nugent by PZ Myers & co.

Posted 11-Oct-2014 at 05:03 AM (05:03) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Oct-2014 at 09:13 PM (21:13) by Gurdur

PZ Myers, an associate professor at a small college, and a minor albeit populist and influential figure in the world of atheism, bravely stood up to Mick Nugent, and broadcast that commentators on Nugent's blog included a whole lot of rapists. PZ Myers wasn't able to name one single rapist, not one single one, which made it all a bit of a mystery. But if PZ Myers claims there are rapists running rampant among the commentators on a blog, he must be right, or? It's just not possible PZ Myers could...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 6952 Comments 6 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Ophelia Benson finds it "a little sickening"

Posted 10-Oct-2014 at 12:33 PM (12:33) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Oct-2014 at 05:57 PM (17:57) by Gurdur

Ophelia Benson decided to take exception to a tweet of Christina H. Sommers'. Benson just didn't approve of what Sommers (@CHSommers) had sent out. Benson (@opheliabenson) in her blog post had the following to say:
"Christina Hoff Sommers is congratulating herself on playing a part in #GamerGate.
... [screen-capture image of Sommers' tweet snipped] ...
@Nero is an associate editor at Breitbart. Here’s what Anita Sarkeesian thinks of #GamerGate:
... [quote snipped] ...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 6040 Comments 6 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 7 votes, 5.00 average.

What on Earth, Center For Inquiry? CFI-DC Melody Hensley calls for boycott of Peter Boghossian over issue of PTSD from Twitter

Posted 25-Sep-2014 at 09:19 AM (09:19) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Sep-2014 at 12:48 PM (12:48) by Gurdur

Melody Hensley (@MelodyHensley; please do not tweet at her unless you are sure your tweet is acceptable to her, since harassment of any kind is not tolerable) is the Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. branch of the Center For Inquiry, which says about itself that the "mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values". So we know where we stand, then. Last night, Melody Hensley called for all atheist and humanist...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 19834 Comments 11 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 25 votes, 5.00 average.

You do not get to hog suicide risk or depression all to yourself: @mjrobbins, @BoraZ, #scioX and implosions

Posted 03-Jan-2014 at 06:18 PM (18:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Jan-2014 at 09:44 PM (21:44) by Gurdur

At an awkward time for me personally, yet again the science communication (#scicomm) world implodes, and that fairly close to an upcoming conference, the #scio14 one in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am on an urgent trip to Australia for only one week, from where I live in Germany, for the funeral of my father in Perth. While here I have also been informed that my paternal aunt is also dying, in Sydney, right on the other side of Australia (the very last relative left on my paternal side); I am simply...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 53291 Comments 1 Gurdur is offline

Antidotes for the poisons affecting #ScioX: Part 1 of what the different ScioX's need, not just want

Posted 21-Oct-2013 at 11:18 PM (23:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 22-Oct-2013 at 03:18 AM (03:18) by Gurdur

The problem: an important part of the wider science-communication (#scicomm) world, the #ScioX community (centered around annual #scicomm conferences in Raleigh, NC, USA) is now tearing itself apart -- all too predictably. I predicted to others 6 days ago this would happen. Chad Orzel (@orzelc) has posted a good, interesting blog post on what ScioX wants to be; but the questions of what ScioX needs, and needs to be, have to be raised in a better way than what else has gone down on the hashtag over...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 21455 Comments 3 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The first raw data: Part 2 of examining @The_Block_Bot

Posted 25-Sep-2013 at 12:29 AM (00:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Sep-2013 at 10:59 AM (10:59) by Gurdur

This is the first lot of raw data used for examining The_Block_Bot app and its Twitter account @The_Block_Bot. Please see my last blog post for an introduction and history of it. There will be more blog posts on this. I stress all of this is public information; it's just often enormously difficult to gather. This blog post will be edited to include more data as time goes by in the course of examining the Block_Bot over several posts.

A list of tweets from @The_Block_Bot, latest first,...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 3081 Comments 1 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 8 votes, 5.00 average.

Introduction & history: Part 1 of examining @The_Block_Bot

Posted 25-Sep-2013 at 12:27 AM (00:27) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Sep-2013 at 10:04 AM (10:04) by Gurdur

A few days ago, David Silverman (@MrAtheistPants, president of American Atheists) was placed on a list of people to be automatically blocked by the Twitter accounts of those subscribed to the The_Block_Bot app. What that app does is automatically block on its Twitter subscribers' accounts anyone whose name is inputted by the app's admins. The_Block_Bot is both a Twitter account and a Twitter app. The difference is that an app has access to subscribers' accounts, and can as here put listed people...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 9960 Comments 6 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.

A shameful deceit: someone buys @The_Block_Bot 40,000 Twitter followers, 93% of them fake

Posted 14-Sep-2013 at 10:35 PM (22:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Sep-2013 at 11:30 PM (23:30) by Gurdur

The @The_Block_Bot is a shameful little clique pressure-device, a Twitter account and list-blocking-app started by two trolls, promoted under the false advertising of having the otherwise-praiseworthy goal of blocking trolls, sexists, homophobes and so on. That all that advertising is made up of false claims is something on which I will go into detail very soon. This blog post is about another matter concerning that Twitter account. Up to only a few days ago, @The_Block_Bot had only 1,200 followers,...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 12537 Comments 3 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 8 votes, 4.50 average.

Fear and loathing in the atheism movement, but not in Las Vegas?

Posted 14-Aug-2013 at 04:01 PM (16:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 07-Sep-2013 at 07:04 AM (07:04) by Gurdur

The clock is ticking. A cease-and-desist letter, with implied legal action for defamation if the defamation persists, has been served on someone long known for a flame-based attack-blogging approach. Fear and loathing run rampant throughout the American atheist movement at this time. There are competing views on exactly why. One view is that there has been much sexual harrassment and rape covered up by the "establishment", the rape and other sexual assualt being committed by some of those often...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 10026 Comments 6 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 41 votes, 4.98 average.

An open letter to Michael Nugent and Atheist Ireland

Posted 31-May-2013 at 05:58 AM (05:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Oct-2014 at 06:18 AM (06:18) by Gurdur

To Michael Nugent, Atheist Ireland (@atheistie) and all atheist conference organizers:
The recent initiative started and sponsored by Michael Nugent, aimed at promoting dialogue within the atheist movement despite differences, is a praiseworthy endeavor. I have now added a new effort of my own to that overall general attempt at ending the defamation, harrassment and bullying going on in the atheist movement. However, very recently important questions have come up.

These concerns...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 71805 Comments 60 Gurdur is offline
Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Yes, there is a moderate, middle ground for the atheist movement. Join in!

Posted 29-May-2013 at 06:08 PM (18:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-May-2013 at 09:54 PM (21:54) by Gurdur

As many know, and as I have blogged about previously, there is a long, bitter, all-out war of all against all within the atheism movement. Some have claimed there is no middle ground to all of this conflict, but those who have expressly claimed that are too obviously only pushing their personal agendas and a "You are either with us or against us" line.

There have been various initiatives aimed at trying to reconcile differences; one of those initiatives was the dialogue process started by Michael Nugent....
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 11167 Comments 5 Gurdur is offline

Frenemy-fire and the misuse of social media

Posted 03-Apr-2013 at 12:11 PM (12:11) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Apr-2013 at 01:22 PM (13:22) by Gurdur

Just a few days ago, EllenBeth Wachs tweeted she resigns as President of Humanists of Florida, then tweeted "I'm wishing I never got involved with the movement. I'd be happier, wealthier and still have a good reputation". I know how she feels. EllenBeth Wachs was the victim of unfriendly friendly-fire, or frenemy-fire if you like. A known feminist and atheist leader, she was castigated as being a misogyny-enabler, etc. etc., for the crime of being somewhat mildly skeptical about whether Adria Richards...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 4489 Comments 1 Gurdur is offline

Unproductive disagreement and academic bloodsports

Posted 10-Feb-2013 at 12:56 AM (00:56) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I blogged last on the value of productive disagreement, inspired by a tweet from professor of classics Mary Beard (@wmarybeard). Here is a link to that post of mine, and now comes the part about when disagreement becomes unproductive, something rather relevant to the skepticism and atheism blogospheres today, not only to the worlds of science-communication (#scicomm), history and philosophy.

One major problem is academic bloodsports - the fact that quite a few academics really like...
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 3525 Comments 1 Gurdur is offline

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