- Trading with tyranny. The price of snuggling up to Saudi Arabia
- “Britain and many other countries are already paying a substantial price for Saudi Arabia’s efforts (over many years) to spread its pernicious Wahhabi ideology far and wide. A more robust stance against that now will mean less need to spend money on security and defence measures in the future.”
(tags: saudi-arabia islam wahhabi politics)
- The Utopian · Paris, 2015
- “Down with Putin. Down with the Patriarch. Down with the Pope. Down with the self-styled progressives who have abandoned the liberatory spirit of 1968 in favor of the regulatory spirit of identitarianism.”
(tags: left politics identity-politics liberalism free-speech)
- Louise Mensch says ‘F**K YOU’ in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes – People – News – The Independent
- You go, girl!
(tags: saudi-arabia louise-mench david-cameron politics islam)
Scott Alexander wrote, on dealing with social justice debates on the Internet:
H.L. Mencken writes “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” Well, this is my temptation. It requires more willpower than anything else I do in my life – more willpower than it takes for me to get up in the morning and work a ten hour day – to resist the urge to just hoist the black flag and turn into a much less tolerant and compassionate version of Heartiste1.
Hoist the colours high
I felt this urge most strongly while reading the Metafilter thread about the attack on Charlie Hebdo (I’m pw201 on Mefi), where many commenters were engaging in what elsewhere might be called victim blaming or de-railing, and then flouncing when called out.
What passes for Leftism in America and in her cultural sphere of influence (i.e. the Guardian) seems to be the the establishment of an ordering of identity groups and the promotion of the interests of those groups lower down the order over those groups higher up. (The claims that there are multiple orthogonal pecking orders or that there’s no strict total ordering in people’s heads seem false: there are only two directions one can “punch”, and, whenever there’s a debate, it’s about who is really higher or lower).
It is one thing to bite the bullet, as I think Arthur Chu does, and admit that the accusations of victim blaming and the like are properly made only against his ideological enemies, without any attempt to pretend that victim blaming is universally bad. But to do this is to admit to special pleading, which most people don’t think is fair.
What I saw in the debate about the attacks and subsequent anger/flouncing was the painful dissonance that arises when Leftists-of-this-sort have to deal with members of a group whose interests they would naturally promote (identifying the murderers as Muslims and brown people) carrying out heinous crimes against people higher up the ordering (identifying the victims as white people or even as racists). Suddenly, those L-O-T-S who in other contexts would be assiduous in calling out any implication, however subtle, that “she was asking for it, dressed like that” or “maybe it was a bad idea to drink so much at the frat party”, are using those same tropes and hoping that a big disclaimer will do the trick.
I guess what’s happened is that the ordering was established as an instrument to promote the positive values of some sort of Leftism, but has now become almost an end in itself. My political leanings were formed growing up in the 1980s reading the Daily Mirror, but it’s fair to say I’m not an “ally” of L-O-T-S. Which isn’t to say I haven’t learned anything from reading Mefi, LJ and even Tumblr (the shocking prevalence of street harassment, to take one example).
Mais je ne suis pas votre ennemi
Scott Alexander’s urge doesn’t really make much sense rationally, though it’s psychologically understandable. If you have lefty views but think the special pleaders are bad, recall that their ideological rivals are worse, or at least, seeking worse outcomes. If you’re just posting and commenting on the Internet (as opposed to, say, voting), you don’t actually have to join up pick a team and buy their views as a package. If people you agree with about a lot of stuff argue with you about some other stuff, you don’t have to feel bad about that, because you’re not letting the team down: remember, you’re not on a team in the first place. People who are experts on social problems aren’t necessarily experts on how you personally should deal with them, as previously discussed. And thus I survive on Mefi, and places like it.
The Mefi thread went in quite a good direction in the end: there was a debate about cartoons and caricature, some attempt to understand what the cartoons were about, and translated commentary from French people. It is long, but worth reading. I’ve been posting the good bits to the link blog, but allow me to recommend Lost in translation: Charlie Hebdo, free speech and the unilingual left in particular.
- Global Swing Broadcast | Music * Videos * Photography
- Swinging internet radio station. Nice.
(tags: music streaming swing radio)
- Brown Pundits: Unreal Islam
- “As someone in love with the cultural traditions of Islam and as a diligent student of its history, I agree that the acts of the jihadis do not represent the vast majority of Muslims today or in history. Humans are a violent species and Muslims have contributed their share, but it is completely asinine to think that Muslims have been, historically, any more violent than other groups. However, it is equally absurd to deny that the ideology underlying jihadism draws upon mainstream Islamic beliefs and is, therefore, undeniably a form of “real Islam” – albeit of a very extreme form. It is more accurate to say that this extremism is “not the only Islam”, and, by historical standards, it is a version very different from what the vast majority of Muslims have practiced.”
(tags: islam religion islamism history pakistan)
- Charlie Hebdo victim was ‘a friend of Islam, Turkey’ – INTERNATIONAL
- “Voicing his ‘fear,’ Hürriyet columnist Ertuğrul Özkök writes about a chat he once had with Georges Wolinski, who was killed in the attack at the offices of the French satirical magazine.”
(tags: charlie-hebdo islam turkey)
- JE SUIS CHARLIE? IT’S A BIT LATE | Pandaemonium
- Kenan Malik: “The expressions of solidarity with those slain in the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices are impressive. They are also too late. Had journalists and artists and political activists taken a more robust view on free speech over the past 20 years then we may never have come to this.”
(tags: charliehebdo freedom politics satire journalism free speech liberalism charlie-hebdo)
- Paris attacks: unless we overcome fear, self-censorship will spread| Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer
- Cohen argues that Western journalists had already given in. “My friend and comrade Maajid Nawaz was a jihadi before he converted to liberalism and understands the totalitarian mind. He says that people still do not realise that radical Islamists do not just want to impose their taboos at gunpoint. They want to “create a civil war” so that European Muslims accept that they can only live in the caliphate; to encourage the rise of the white far-right so that ordinary coexistence becomes impossible. If they win one demand, as they are winning in Britain, then they will up the tension and move to another.”
(tags: censorship charlie-hebdo islam free speech islamism)
- The cult of death and the psychopaths it ensnares – Telegraph
- “Islamist terrorists believe they are a pure elite, destined to survive the cataclysmic conflict of civilisations they desire to bring about. That is why Isil’s magazine is called “Dabiq” or Ark. Ideally, as the Egyptian president has courageously commented, they would like to witness an all-out war between 1.6 billion Muslims and the other six billion inhabitants of our planet, but for the time being they’ll just be the vanguard of it.”
(tags: islam islamism terrorism)
- dear US followers
- “NO ONE, I repeat literally NO ONE in France ever considered Charlie Hebdo as racist. We might have considered the drawings tasteless, but NOT racists. For the very simple reason that WE FUCKING KNOW OUR POLITICS. So, when you see the covers of the journal out of context and without understanding french, you’re seeing maybe 10% of what there’s to see.”
(tags: charlie-hebdo racism culture france)
- If Europe is to overcome Islamist terror, it needs to fight for the values it holds dear | Comment is free | The Guardian
- “For many on the left, tolerance comes easily. But economic disarray has sapped the will to defend our principles of rationalism and individual liberty.”
(tags: terrorism left islamism europe culture)
- Imperfect Tenderness | The Comics Journal
- Interesting round-up of reactions to CH’s cartoons.
(tags: charlie-hebdo satire cartoons racism irony)
- Charlie Hebdo: the danger of polarised debate | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian
- “Those who claim that Islam is “inherently”violent are more hateful, but no less nonsensical, than those who claim it is “inherently” peaceful. The insistence that these hateful acts are refuted by ancient texts makes as much sense as insisting they are supported by them. Islam, like any religion, isn’t “inherently” anything but what people make of it. A small but significant minority have decided to make it violent.”
(tags: islam religion violence charlie-hebdo)
- All You Need to Know About the ‘Learning Styles’ Myth, in Two Minutes | WIRED
- Apparently, there’s no evidence that people actually have different learning styles.
(tags: learning myths pedagogy psychology education teaching)
- The case for mocking religion.
- Hitchens! thou shouldst be living at this hour: France has need of thee.
(tags: cartoons christopher-hitchens satire religion islam terrorism murder)
- 22 Heartbreaking Cartoons From Artists Responding To The Charlie Hebdo Shooting – BuzzFeed News
- “Cartoonists from all over the world mourn in the wake of a Paris shooting that killed as many as 12 people, many of whom are members of Charlie Hebdo.”
(tags: charliehebdo jesuischarlie cartoon murder terrorism)
- Ex-Muslims Forum on Twitter: “an e-mail from an Exmuslim about #CharlieHebdo “I want to weep” – fear, sickness and horror http://t.co/EngpM6LbjQ”
- The ex-Muslims Forum publish “an e-mail from an Exmuslim about #CharlieHebdo “I want to weep” – fear, sickness and horror”
(tags: ex-muslim charlie-hebdo terrorism murder islam)
- The Blasphemy We Need – NYTimes.com
- “Must all deliberate offense-giving, in any context, be celebrated, honored, praised? I think not. But in the presence of the gun — or, as in the darker chapters of my own faith’s history, the rack or the stake — both liberalism and liberty require that it be welcomed and defended.”
(tags: blasphemy charlie-hebdo islam speech freedom)
- The Blame for the Charlie Hebdo Murders – The New Yorker
- “Because the ideology is the product of a major world religion, a lot of painstaking pretzel logic goes into trying to explain what the violence does, or doesn’t, have to do with Islam. Some well-meaning people tiptoe around the Islamic connection, claiming that the carnage has nothing to do with faith, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that, at most, the violence represents a “distortion” of a great religion. (After suicide bombings in Baghdad, I grew used to hearing Iraqis say, “No Muslim would do this.”) Others want to lay the blame entirely on the theological content of Islam, as if other religions are more inherently peaceful—a notion belied by history as well as scripture. A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents.”
(tags: charliehebdo journalism terror religion politics islam)
- How Muslim Scholars View Paris Attack (In-depth) – Special Coverage – Shari`ah – OnIslam.net
- There isn’t a shortage of Muslims condemning the attack in Paris.
(tags: muslim islam terrorism paris charlie-hebdo)
- Imaginary Positions – Less Wrong
- One I’d missed: Yudkowsky’s post on rounding to the “nearest cliche”.
(tags: cliche nearest eliezer-yudkowsky rationality)
- The world is not falling apart: The trend lines reveal an increasingly peaceful period in history.
- Steven Pinker argues we should look at trend lines rather than headlines.
(tags: statistics war politics violence world steven-pinker)
- A Pasta Sea: Elijah and the Apologist of Baal
- 1 Kings 18 re-imagined as if Baal had a William Lane Craig on his side. Fun times. “A Pasta Sea” is a good name for an ex-Christian blog, too.
(tags: bible apologetics ahab baal elijah funny parody)
- A&E in crisis: a special report – Telegraph
- “As the NHS faces its worst winter in years, Robert Colvile provides an in-depth, first-hand account of the pressures facing the health service.” Interesting: combination of people unable to see a GP quickly enough and hospitals unable to turf old people to social care quickly enough. Targets sometimes provide perverse incentives.
(tags: nhs health healthcare medicine hospital)
- Free exchange: Nice work if you can get out | The Economist
- Why the rich now have less leisure than the poor. Via WMC on FB.
(tags: leisure work economist)
The Scotts Aaronsen and Alexander both worry that following feminist doctrine makes geeky guys miserable and too scared to even attempt to form a romantic relationship with a woman. Hugh Ristik looks at feminist guilt, along similar lines to Catholic guilt. Laurie Penny responds compassionately to Aaronsen.
I still think of myself as in the Scotts’ tribe because of my awkward formative years, which my brain tends to give undue weight when compared to pieces of evidence like “you haven’t been single for more than, say, 6 months since you were, say, 22″ (hint: learn to dance). So, I hope they won’t mind a little criticism.
Firstly, I wonder why arch-empiricists like the Scotts swallowed whole everything they were being told by the feminists. Why don’t the Scotts quickly work out that either they’re not being told what they think they’re being told (e.g. I bet if you asked the people conducting the harassment seminar, they wouldn’t have said Aaronsen was meant to take home the lesson that he did) or the people telling them this stuff are wrong about some things (e.g. if the people conducting the harassment seminar genuinely meant to say that men should never approach women under any circumstances just in case it’s harassment, they can safely be ignored without feeling bad about it)?
We get our beliefs wholesale
Possibly, if you’re starting from zero and desperately looking around for some rules on how to relate to women romantically, you might just latch on to the first subculture that claims to have expertise. It could have been much worse: Aaronsen could have run into the pick-up artists before the problematic patriarchal privilege posse, then he’d be going on about alphas and betas instead of privilege and de-railing, all the while wondering why having sex with people he despises for being stupid enough to fall for his con doesn’t seem to make him happy1. So, lucky escape there.
The Scotts might respond to me that I swallowed evangelical Christianity whole at the same age and that also messed up my relations with women a bit, so I’m in no position to criticise. That seems fair enough. What on Earth was I thinking? Both American Social Justice Internet Feminism (using my previous definition) and evangelicalism have the ability to form a rules-based system2. The temptation to swallow whole an ideology which has got some things right (especially things that everyone else seems to be ignoring) is common to all of us3, but geeks feel even more of a pull towards systems and clear “right answers” (previously, previouslier). Without wanting to say that evangelicalism and ASJIF aren’t problematically deontological, maybe some of the geeks’ troubles with them are down to these geeky tendencies.
Geeks: suppose you are writing (or, more often, updating) some software, as many of you do. The customer (or, more often, the person employed to prevent customers from seeing geeks that might alarm them) comes along and says “we want it to do X”. You’re like “but X will take ten years, will break Y, and the standard clearly says we must do Z not X”. But they’re like “No, X is super important and Customer won’t buy it unless it does X”. What’s the question you should ask now?
“What is the problem you are trying to solve?”
You should ask this because often in these situations you’re being given a solution to an underlying problem (the solution X) and you have to dig a bit to work out what the underlying problem is. The customer is an expert on the problem. You don’t get to say that their problem isn’t real (if you want to keep your job, anyway), but if they’re asking you to do something you’re going to have to live with for a while, you can and should look at that and see whether it makes sense in your context. This will usually involve talking to some people, tricky as that may be. Perhaps you can find a sympathetic geek on the customer’s side of the fence to thrash things out with. That usually works best.
- Cause And Effect: The Revolutionary New Statistical Test That Can Tease Them Apart — The Physics arXiv Blog — Medium
- Correlation is causation, sort of.
(tags: statistics causality arxiv noise mathematics)
- Why IS liberal Protestantism dying, anyway?
- Religions/denominations which are stricter in their requirements for adherents actually do better.
(tags: religion anthropology psychology)
- The button that isn’t | Restricted Data
- There’s no actual big red button to launch all the missiles. Interesting article on nuclear command and control.
(tags: nuclear icbm button war missiles)
- Secular Solstice: Doing good for goodness’ sake – The Washington Post
- The WaPo reports on secular solstice celebration. Sounds cool.
(tags: atheism religion solstice)
- “Yer a Developer, Harry” – Programming Is Magic
- How being a programmer is a bit like being a wizard. Via andrewducker.
(tags: magic programming spells software wizards)
- A Poor Imitation of Alan Turing by Christian Caryl | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
- The Imitation Game is pretty bad as history. Via HD on Facebook.
(tags: biography film review turing history war world-war-II)
- Ex-Communications – Recovering From Religion – You Are Not Alone
- A new blog written by de-converts from various religions. Looks quite interesting so far.
(tags: ex-christian religion deconversion christianity)
- Physics – Arrow of Time Emerges in a Gravitational System
- “Standard approaches to the arrow of time typically require a rare statistical fluctuation, or, often, the smuggling in of assumptions about initial conditions. Their work offers evidence that ordinary gravitational dynamics may itself be enough to produce the simple “initial” point that can give time a direction.”
(tags: entropy time physics gravity)
- Science AMA Series: We are a Group of Researchers Exploring Auditory Hallucinations – People Who Hear Voices. Ask us Anything! : science
- Interesting comments on benign hallucinations.
(tags: hallucinations psychology reddit science)
- cartesiandaemon – December Days: Dream Job
- CartesianDaemon on what makes a good job. I think I agree with all of these. Where can I get one of those?
(tags: jobs dream employment software software-engineering)