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.


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, Xingq) 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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Britain, protect your police and public services

Posted 10-May-2012 at 10:49 AM (10:49) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-May-2012 at 11:12 AM (11:12) by Gurdur

The current British conservative government is savagely cutting public services, while claiming it's necessary for austerity measures. At the same time, the Tories seek to privatize as much as they can of the public services, whether the police ever more and increasingly, or the fire service, or how the government has sought to destroy the NHS, after its attacks on nurses and other public services.

If you are British, the emergency services are your national common good. Unless...
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Demonstration by disabled in London today - #invisibleinvincible

Posted 28-Jan-2012 at 07:11 PM (19:11) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Jan-2012 at 07:51 PM (19:51) by Gurdur

There was a UK Uncut demonstration by disabled today in London, protesting against the swingeing budgetary cuts to Disabled Allowance and other social-support programs by the current Conservative/Liberal-Democrat government in Britain. The hashtag for it all on Twitter is #invisibleinvincible. You can also read a BBC report on it all, a Guardian piece with video as well, or a Huffington Post piece on it. There is also an e-petition online about the cause. Wishing them all the best of luck and support!...
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The Wisconsin recalls, now very actual

Posted 04-Aug-2011 at 06:38 PM (18:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

In Wisconsin, USA, there are now recall elections for nine state senators; there are three recalls against Democrat state-senators, and six against Republican state-senators. The first one has already taken place, resulting in Democratic Senator Dave Hansen retaining his seat. Six more will be held on August 09, and two more on August 16. The Democrats need a net gain of three seats to take control of the Wisconsin senate, that is, they must hold both their other two remaining seats under recall,...
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German Catholics abandoning the Roman Catholic church in thousands more than previous years

Posted 18-Jul-2011 at 03:26 PM (15:26) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

According to data reported by 24 out of the 27 Roman Catholic dioceses, German Catholics left the church in thousands in 2010, in an overall rise of more than 40% than 2009 in people officially leaving the church. Officially quitting the church is not a small deal; places in cemetaries, kindergartens and the like often depend upon church membership, as does being given marriage, burial and baptism ceremonies. Membership entails paying a small amount of extra tax each year which then goes to the...
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The protest against Richard Dawkins, Thursday night, over the AC Grayling New College of the Humanities #NCH

Posted 10-Jun-2011 at 06:15 PM (18:15) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-Jun-2011 at 04:13 PM (16:13) by Gurdur

There was a protest last night (Thursday night) at a talk given by Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers, at a British Humanist Association (BHA) event in London, Britain. The protest was owing to Dawkins being closely associated with the Grayling initiative of the New College for the Humanities (NCH). I cannot as yet despite much searching find any estimate of the number of protestors at or outside the event. The total number of the audience has been given as around 1,000, though another source gives the...
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Rating: 8 votes, 5.00 average.

Whoa, the New Humanist, me, and the possible Syrian Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari "Gay Girl In Damascus" hoax

Posted 09-Jun-2011 at 03:14 PM (15:14) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Jun-2011 at 08:30 AM (08:30) by Gurdur

Bloggers from the world's nastier and more troubled corners are vital. It was through blogs, Twitter and Facebook a lot of the news first broke and breaks about events in the recent Tunisian and ongoing Egyptian revolutions; it's through Pakistani blogs and Twitter we sometimes get first-hand accounts of what's really going on or what people really think, free of the filters of political parties, campaigns and givernments. Bloggers are vital for first-hand, on-the-street accounts, and for more informed...
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Breaking news: Syrian government cabinet expected to resign

Posted 29-Mar-2011 at 02:42 PM (14:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

In the aftermath of protests and ever-increasingly violent clashes throughout cities and towns in Syria, it is reported that the Syrian government cabinet is expected to resign en masse, and that a new emergency cabinet will replace them. Whatever happens now, whether violent crackdown or democratic reform amounting to a revolution, it represents a major turning-point. Given the major religious and ethnic divides in Syria, this will be by no means a straightforward course for the future, but quite...
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The march in London, Britain, yesterday against the budget cuts, and the UK Uncut campaign

Posted 28-Mar-2011 at 10:47 PM (22:47) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Various things about the march yesterday (Sunday) in London, Britain, against the budget cuts. Only in very brief form, because of immense pressure of work. I may blog on this specifically later again. One photo, courtesy of the Guardian, of a small part of the march yesterday, is shown below left.

There are various estimates of the size of the crowd of protestors,...
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"Four legs good, two legs better!": the Egyptian pro-democracy revolution in danger of being strangled

Posted 25-Mar-2011 at 07:52 PM (19:52) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Mar-2011 at 08:05 PM (20:05) by Gurdur

This year saw the pro-democracy revolution in Egypt, and it also sees the danger of that so-far-successful revolution being hijacked by a loose, de facto partnership of convenience between the Egyptian army, the supporters of the old (Mubarak etc.) regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. Now the interim Egyptian government has just made a law criminalizing all protests and strikes throughout Egypt; a little while before that, women protestors in Tahrir square were targeted by the Egyptian army cracking...
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Society + Science Weekly blogs round-up - 27/28 February 2011 - science, culture, philosophy, religion, atheism

Posted 28-Feb-2011 at 10:06 PM (22:06) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Feb-2011 at 10:22 PM (22:22) by Gurdur

This is my usual weekly blogs round-up, marked off for Sunday/Monday. I considered how I may not be making clear what the blogs round-up is all about, thinking it would be self-evident, so I am making it more immediately clear: this regular blogs round-up is all about culture, science, mind, history, religion, atheism and philosophy. I am titling it so so as to make that clear. Every week emphasis is random; this particular week, this one is very heavy on the science, with not so much on religion...
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The South Sudan prepares for real independence

Posted 07-Feb-2011 at 01:12 PM (13:12) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

The war of the north of Sudan against the south, and the consequent separatism in the south of the Sudan, had been a conflict that has gone on my entire life. At one stage I lived not too far at all from a refugee camp filled with southern Sudanese. In fact, many of the so-called north/south conflicts there have been going on in the form of tribal raiding and warring for well over one hundred years and more. Today the final results from the independence referendum in the south Sudan come in, and...
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The Eton Rifles: Part 2, Ignorance, egocentrism in West about Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen

Posted 30-Jan-2011 at 08:47 PM (20:47) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Feb-2011 at 07:53 AM (07:53) by Gurdur

I wrote in my last blog post of ignorance and egocentrism in some Western commentary regarding this week's events in Egypt; now let's look at some specific examples.
Snap up your beer and collect your fags,
There's a row going on down near Slough.
Get out your mats and pray to the West,
I'll get out mine and pray for myself.
When topical events hit big, I look to the newspapers and the BBC first, then I look around blogs for commentary on the events.
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Stop, hey, what's that sound: Ignorance, bigotry, egocentrism in West about Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Part 1

Posted 30-Jan-2011 at 03:38 PM (15:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Jan-2011 at 03:49 PM (15:49) by Gurdur

I am surprised at the amount of sheer ignorance I have seen around the British and American blogosphere and in some newspapers regarding the situations in Tunisia, the Yemen, Egypt and the Sudan. Let's dispel some of the more common myths and egocentricities. It is essential to get some proper light in on this, because the more we as Westerners positively and constructively engage with the protestors in Egypt etc., the more it will help us in the long run -- and they need our support now, not ignorant...
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How to stay well-informed on what is happening in Egypt today: it will matter to you

Posted 30-Jan-2011 at 11:37 AM (11:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Jan-2011 at 11:54 AM (11:54) by Gurdur

Today is Sunday, 30 January 2011; I've been following developments as they happened in Egypt since the Tunisia tsunami first toppled a long-term dictator in under 30 days of beginning, then went on to swamp Egypt, Yemen, and it looks like the Sudan too. In only four days of protests in Egypt, it looks as though the Hosni Mubarak regime there is now effectively no longer in power; but just who is in power is very unclear, and of course, the protestors want genuine democracy. Whether they can achieve...
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Richard Dawkins Forums meltdown -- how it went down, in quotes

Posted 01-Mar-2010 at 11:26 PM (23:26) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Oct-2010 at 03:15 PM (15:15) by Gurdur

Looking at the Richard Dawkins Forums meltdown, in quotations, as the years went by, not necessarily in order. All original sources given, so you can check full context for yourself

... It is a community, and that is a valuable part of it. Many of our forum threads have an atmosphere of friends going out for a drink and chatting. I think that is valuable, and I dont think we should insist on sticking to serious topics. That would be a good way to stifle the sense of community,
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Richard Dawkins Forum implosion -- more public reactions

Posted 01-Mar-2010 at 11:25 PM (23:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Jun-2011 at 05:27 AM (05:27) by Gurdur

This is just a listing of various public reactions to the Richard Dawkins forum fiasco, and not in full. If I feel moved to comment under any one quotation, I will do it in red so as to make it all a bit more readable, but I really do not want to get into too much anaysis and comment of my own here, I will save that for later instead. I would like to give a note of thanks to Wulfstan, a member of the Ship Of Fools board, and to Andrew Brown of the newspaper The Guardian, and to Chris Jensen Romer...
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A deeper look at the RDF self-immolation and public reactions to it

Posted 25-Feb-2010 at 03:58 AM (03:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Oct-2010 at 03:13 PM (15:13) by Gurdur

Following on from my first blog post on the debacle of the destruction of the RDF board, I'll discuss more of my thoughts on it all, and also on the public reactions to the debacle. I titled my previous blog post "The Richard Dawkins Foundation net forum (RDF) self-destructs -- yet another big atheist board immolates itself", for a good reason -- this is not the first time this kind of catastrophically ill-advised vandalism to a big atheist board has happened, and I'll discuss those other times...
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The Richard Dawkins Foundation net forum (RDF) self-destructs -- yet another big atheist board immolates itself

Posted 24-Feb-2010 at 11:38 PM (23:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Oct-2010 at 03:12 PM (15:12) by Gurdur

In line with the incendiary blog post I just made yesterday, as well of course very much in line with my previous blog post about the problems atheists so often cause for themselves, some news about a new Wikipedia link for bonfire of the vanities bonfire of the vanities. Yet another big atheist board has self-immolated, this time the Richard Dawkins Foundation (RDF) net forum, at:

One caveat before I begin: I am well aware I do not yet have all the facts, and I can only report the facts...
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More on Liu Bolin, Invisible Man art, and now Amnesty International

Posted 18-Feb-2010 at 10:22 AM (10:22) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Mar-2010 at 03:00 PM (15:00) by Gurdur

Amnesty International seem to be running a photo/poster campaign titled, "No one will keep us from seeing", inspired directly from Liu Bolin's work of which I blogged about just before, in relation to his "Hiding In The City" series of artwork photographs. As ever, the work of Amnesty International deserves support, as does Liu Bolin (also see here).

There is also a report from the China Digital Times on a previous series of Liu Bolin's art, this time the series of photographs titled,...
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