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.

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

Posted 26-Feb-2015 at 08:22 AM (08:22) 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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Some success: VICE take down their HIV-denialist story. But they do it weirdly

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 10:55 PM (22:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 11:07 PM (23:07) 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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Supporting free speech - or wearing a fedora - can easily get you into trouble

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 08:03 PM (20:03) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 11:12 PM (23:12) 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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HIV-denialism is resurrected - by VICE magazine

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 08:39 AM (08:39) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 05:19 PM (17:19) 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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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 10:07 PM (22:07) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Feb-2015 at 11:57 PM (23:57) 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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Odd mirror-images in Ebola and measles debates

Posted 11-Feb-2015 at 07:17 PM (19:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Feb-2015 at 07:36 PM (19:36) 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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A new school of Islam based on ijtihad, the concept of critical thinking, rejecting extremism and fundamentalism?

Posted 21-Jan-2015 at 06:40 AM (06:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Jan-2015 at 08:00 AM (08:00) 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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Authors, please don't do this on social-media. For your own sakes.

Posted 15-Jan-2015 at 11:28 PM (23:28) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Jan-2015 at 12:13 AM (00:13) 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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Thank-you, @Nature! A stand made for both science and society against terrorism

Posted 15-Jan-2015 at 10:01 PM (22:01) 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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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

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

Posted 23-Dec-2014 at 07:25 PM (19:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Dec-2014 at 08:49 PM (20:49) 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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The Pakistan situation after the #PeshawarAttack

Posted 17-Dec-2014 at 08:02 PM (20:02) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Dec-2014 at 08:29 PM (20:29) 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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The gamification of human society and control: Modelling markets, protest, regulation, cooperation, planning and freedom

Posted 11-Dec-2014 at 04:06 PM (16:06) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Dec-2014 at 06:28 PM (18:28) 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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Evolutionary Forecasting. Because your money AND your life.

Posted 12-Nov-2014 at 10:35 PM (22:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 12-Nov-2014 at 11:02 PM (23:02) 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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Spoiling the narrative: #Gawker, lizzyf620 and #SockpuppetConfessions

Posted 04-Nov-2014 at 11:45 PM (23:45) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Nov-2014 at 12:48 AM (00:48) 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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Unexpected narratives: sadnesses

Posted 04-Nov-2014 at 08:09 PM (20:09) 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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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Cathy Young, Anita Sarkeesian, and The Hunger Games

Posted 02-Nov-2014 at 07:38 AM (07:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Nov-2014 at 08:00 AM (08:00) 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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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...
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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...
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A very sad day for #scicomm: Science Online to close down, cancels #scio15

Posted 10-Oct-2014 at 03:20 PM (15:20) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

In a fairly short statement, the Science Online board have said they will be closing down ScienceOnline, and cancelling the #scio15 conference planned for February. The statement is up here. While not totally unpredictable, this is a very sad day; most of us very much wanted #scioX to go on and go well.

Financial insolvency, and the inability to raise enough funds for a paid position of executive director, are among the grounds given. Of late the #scioX community at large was much...
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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:
Quote:
"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. Heres what Anita Sarkeesian thinks of #GamerGate:
... [quote snipped] ...
...
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