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 art of moral hegemony, bad logic, and Jeet Heer

Posted 13-Feb-2016 at 02:55 AM (02:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I was interested in some recent tweets on the Vietnam War by @HeerJeet, who is Jeet Heer, a senior editor at the American New Republic. What interested me was the one-sided view of things. I hold that his worldview is a set of rather close-set blinders, so it's really up to me to justify that view of his own views. It would also be upfront to list what other claims I am making here (which I will then back up below in this post).
1) The view that Jeet Heer espouses of the Vietnam War is a
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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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Why doesn't Žižek understand Orwell's 1984, or freedom?

Posted 17-Sep-2014 at 09:31 PM (21:31) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Sep-2014 at 10:40 PM (22:40) by Gurdur

Slavoj Žižek misunderstands freedom and control. He doesn't get George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). Why is that, and why is it important, and what does it say about us all? Žižek (you can just call him Zizek) is one smart guy; he's a philosopher and culture critic who has quite often written on theological issues. He's quite famous these days (VICE magazine calls him a superstar), and he's proud of thinking dangerous ideas. We as a public need to be confronted with dangerous ideas, we need...
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Neil deGrasse Tyson and Nerdist throw astrophysics in the crab-bucket?

Posted 14-May-2014 at 01:13 AM (01:13) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-May-2014 at 06:29 AM (06:29) by Never (fixed typos)

Astrophysics, what use is it? The stars are far away, and as Cassius in Shakespeare's play says, the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings. You could add the fault is in ourselves, not in our stars, when we are ignorant, or simply stupid. Put all that in a different way: when I was a teenager, working in cruddy factories and on worse building-sites, reading a book was seen socially as a bad thing, akin to Communism or being gay. Reading a book was a major no-no. Oddly...
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In the future, you can have all the authenticity that can be faked

Posted 10-Sep-2013 at 04:58 PM (16:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Sep-2013 at 07:53 PM (19:53) by Gurdur

There is a video that hit the news. Supposedly a selfie video, one taken by a woman of herself while practicing twerking, it shows her being knocked over onto a table where her yoga-pants catch fire from a candle. Hundreds of TV news shows in the USA went hogwild over the video as a massive #TwerkFAIL. It fed right into a complex many have of wanting to laugh at others, of feeling superior - and of commerce being only too willing to sell you what you want, not what you need. Schadenfreude, not just...
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More details breaking as news on the Woolwich murder attack

Posted 22-May-2013 at 10:03 PM (22:03) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-May-2013 at 02:40 AM (02:40) by Gurdur

There are details as breaking news right at this minute of the crime at Woolwich, London, in in which two attacked a victim with knife and cleaver. My last blog post was about a series of tweets from a person who was an eyewitness at the Woolwich crime scene; this blog post is about the news just breaking now, and also the already-known video footage obtained by British Channel 4 News, as well as some questions of reporting ethics.

The man shown in the video below, and in the screencapture...
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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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The moral blindness of pacifism? A reply to Marty Troyer and Kurt Willems

Posted 23-Mar-2012 at 08:46 PM (20:46) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 24-Mar-2012 at 08:55 AM (08:55) by Gurdur (fixed a typo)

Pacifism is one of those things I admire but do not choose. Is it possible to genuinely admire an ethical choice despite disagreeing with it? This is a question I have often examined myself on, but with no answer as yet. What exactly is the moral argument for pacifism? That too is not so clear. Marty Troyer (@thePeacePastor) has a guest blog post up on the @patheos Pangea blog run by Kurt Willems (@KurtWillems). Both Marty Troyer and Kurt Willems come from the wider Anabaptist branch of Christianity,...
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How do Katniss and Peeta cope with and overcome PTSD? Psychology in The Hunger Games

Posted 16-Mar-2012 at 10:14 AM (10:14) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Mar-2012 at 10:52 AM (10:52) by Gurdur

If you haven't yet read all three of the books in the Hunger Games trilogy, you may not want to read this, since it gives away the ending. But if you're interested in how to cope with PTSD, and if you've read the books, then this is for you. I last blogged about the trilogy by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, set USA hardcover edition, British paperback edition) and the movie made of the first book in my post here.

At the end of the whole trilogy,...
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The Hunger Games, and why you should take notice of it

Posted 14-Mar-2012 at 05:56 AM (05:56) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Mar-2012 at 09:44 AM (09:44) by Gurdur

The movie The Hunger Games hits the cinemas worldwide around March 22, and should be in cinemas for around 4 weeks or more after that date. It is a film adaptation of the first novel from the trilogy of the same name by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy Box Set, USA hardcover edition, British paperback edition; the other two books in that set are titled Catching Fire and Mockingjay). The trilogy of books, meant for young adults and older children, is in my opinion quite a brilliant bit of...
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Modernism, postmodernism, and cowardice

Posted 25-Oct-2011 at 03:24 PM (15:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Oct-2011 at 04:43 PM (16:43) by Gurdur

It strikes me that if postmodernism sometimes becomes the cowardice in the face of the need to stand up for one particular, chosen ethic or idea, then modernism is the cowardice of refusing to acknowledge there are other possible ideas and outcomes. I've blogged before on why postmodernism is not going to go away and die, despite some people's fervent hopes; but then, neither will modernism or premodernism. As to what fashion will come next, that's a good question; detractors of postmodernism hope...
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Science festivals around the world; let's see the same for psych, ethics, philosophy, interfaith-atheism too!

Posted 18-Oct-2011 at 02:12 PM (14:12) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Oct-2011 at 02:31 PM (14:31) by Gurdur

The invaluble workaholic @LouWoodley and others have put together a great list of science festivals around the world for the rest of this year. You can find that list and its links here (and you can also see the festivals mapped here).

It would be great to see something similar for ethics and philosophy (and for psychiatry/psychology, interfaith including atheism, and all as they involve arts and style). Festivals are often far more suited for public participation than conferences....
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Personal authenticity and prostate cancer

Posted 07-Oct-2011 at 07:15 PM (19:15) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 07-Oct-2011 at 08:07 PM (20:07) by Gurdur

There's some interesting debates going on about plans by the USA government to possibly end funding for screening for prostate cancer. Now prostate cancer is common, but usually affects only men over 50 years of age, and won't kill most of them, other things, including old age, killing them first. Roughly two-thirds of cases are very slow-growing cancers, and not worth worrying about at all, but one third are fast-growing and possibly dangerous, though again many will not die of even those. There...
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On the debate between Richard Dawkins & Bill O'Reilly - knowledge versus faked authenticity. The moral relativism of the right

Posted 07-Oct-2011 at 05:35 PM (17:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 07-Oct-2011 at 06:04 PM (18:04) by Gurdur

There's an interesting debate between Richard Dawkins and Bill O'Reilly, parts of which are shown in the video below, which also features analysis of some of its highlights by Cenk Kadir Uygur (of the Young Turks program). It does bring to light a couple of points I've long thought about. The first point is personal authenticity. Disregard the dishonest tactics of Bill O'Reilly for a moment, and look at what he's appealing to underneath; he appeals to two or three factors.

The first...
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An idea is only as good as its movement: Julian Baggini and the heathen's headway

Posted 05-Oct-2011 at 07:11 PM (19:11) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Oct-2011 at 01:41 PM (13:41) by Gurdur

Every time I have an idea, I remind myself usually a million people have had the idea before me. This time round, the atheist and philosopher Julian Baggini (@microphilosophy) is working towards a couple of ideas I've already had. But every idea is only worth as much as those who support it, every idea is only as good as the movement it inspires, so let's look at Julian Baggini's ideas. Baggini has realised that the God debate is a boring stalemate, that neither religion nor atheism will be vanquished...
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Postmodernism is not going to go away & die. Get over it, already

Posted 29-Sep-2011 at 06:05 PM (18:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

There's a lot of guff uttered over a very loose collection of ideas called postmodernism, and lately there's been a lot of guff uttered in hopes of the oncoming death of postmodernism, whatever it's supposed to be. So what is it really, why are people so worked up about it, and why is its possible death being announced so avidly, and who's doing the death-knelling?

For example, a handful of utterly irrelevant Trotskyists disparage postmodernism, because, well, because they've got...
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The kids are alright. New study claiming lack of moral reasoning ability doesn't actually show that

Posted 29-Sep-2011 at 04:37 PM (16:37) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Sep-2011 at 05:16 PM (17:16) by Gurdur

Very recently there's an op-ed piece by David Brooks in the New York Times, in which he decries an alleged new lack of young American adults' ability to reason morally. That piece is partly based on Brooks' interpretation of a study by Christian Smith, Lisa Pearce and others, and a resulting book from Smith, Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog. Plenty of the alleged lack is being blamed by other commentators on postmodernism, secularism, whatever etc., so let's look at...
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Blogs round-up 25 September 2011

Posted 25-Sep-2011 at 09:41 PM (21:41) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Sep-2011 at 02:37 AM (02:37) by Gurdur

So this should be a bumper crop, owing to too much time elapsing between my last blogs round-up and this one. I'll do what I can here today, but owing to time constraints, I will have to do a Part 2 a little later. Part 2 will be signficantly longer; I have a lot of posts marked for notice.

History of science, science journalism, science, medicine, neuroscience: The Giant's Shoulders blog carnival for September is up. If you try a direct link to the post in question, you get a 404...
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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 née Testa, who died August 25, 2008. He waited so long because of a remark his wife had...
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Issues for the underground — discussing with Methodist renewalists and dissidents at Greenbelt and beyond

Posted 16-Sep-2011 at 08:05 AM (08:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Sep-2011 at 02:33 PM (14:33) by Never (fixed a few typos)

In my last blog post, I gave some background to the Methodists in Britain. Now let's start to look at them in-depth. The Methodists started as an underground movement in the Church of England, wanting to reform, revitalize and redirect the CofE, and along the way being very active in campaigns such as prison reform and ending slavery. Owing to their own confusion at times as to direction, and to disapproval and occasional repression from the establishment of the day, they eventually formed their...
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