Link blog: gchq, sci-fi, metafilter, discussion

“The Culture represents the place we might hope to get to” | MetaFilter
Mefi’s discussion of the (previously linked) recently published interview with Iain M Banks (RIP). It’s good.
(tags: metafilter iain-m-banks culture sci-fi sf science-fiction discussion)
GCHQ’s ‘jihad on tech firms’ can only fail | Technology | The Guardian
Blaming Facebook for Lee Rigby’s murder will only lead to a breakdown in the relationship between the police and tech companies, says Ross Anderson.
(tags: gchq facebook terrorism security lee-rigby ross-anderson)

Link blog: william lane craig, psychology, iain-m-banks, metaethics

Robot makes people feel like a ghost is nearby | Science/AAAS | News
You can induce sensed presences by having a robot poke you in the back.
(tags: emotions ghosts robots psychology)
Philosophical Disquisitions: Is there a defensible atheistic account of moral values?
Maybe, or at least, it’s as good as a popular theistic account.
(tags: morality metaethics atheism william lane craig)
Strange Horizons Articles: A Few Questions About the Culture: An Interview with Iain Banks, by Jude Roberts
An old, but recently published, interview with the Iain M Banks. Via andrewducker.
(tags: iain-m-banks culture interview sci-fi science-fiction)

Link blog: stack-overflow, discussion, joel-spolsky, culture

▶ Founders@Google Presents: The Cultural Anthropology of Stack Exchange – YouTube
A presentation from Joek Spolsky on the Stack Exchange sites and the culture they’re trying to promote there, contrasted with things like discussion forums, other "answers" sites, and whatnot.
(tags: discussion stack-exchange joel-spolsky internet stack-overflow culture)

Link blog: christianity, judaism, doctrine, porn

BBC News – How religions change their mind
How do doctrinal shifts occur in various world religions?
(tags: religion christianity mormonism islam change doctrine judaism)
I Went Down to St. James Infirmary
An entire blog full of different versions of the song. Super.
(tags: music jazz blues)
The Ethics of Extreme Porn: Is Some Sex Wrong Even Among Consenting Adults? – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic
Does consent make everything OK? An article summarising responses to another article about a Kink.com shoot. (In the comments, I somehow end up arguing with someone about whether St Paul thought Jesus would be back within his lifetime).
(tags: kink bdsm sex consent porn ethics)
Against the seriousness of theology : Gene Expression
"Theology and texts have far less power over shaping a religion’s lived experience than intellectuals would like to credit. This is a difficult issue to approach, because even believers who are vague on peculiarities of the details of theology (i.e., nearly all of them!) nevertheless espouse that theology as true. Very few Christians that I have spoken to actually understand the substance of the elements of the Athanasian Creed, though they accept it on faith. Similarly, very few Sunni Muslims could explain with any level of coherency why al-Ghazali‘s refutation of the Hellenistic tendency within early Islam shaped their own theology (if they are Sunni it by definition does!). Conversely, very few Shia could explain why their own tradition retains within its intellectual toolkit the esoteric Hellenistic philosophy which the Sunni have rejected. That’s because almost no believers actually make recourse to their own religion’s intellectual toolkit."
(tags: religion theology culture)

Link blog: culture, university, programming, atheism

Project Euler

“Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.”
(tags: puzzles maths mathematics programming)

Science, Reason and Critical Thinking: How to replace the School ICT Curriculum

10 PRINT “PAUL IS SKILL”
20 GOTO 10

The undeniable fact and its inescapable consequence | Alethian Worldview

“The undeniable fact is this: God does not show up in the real world, not visibly, not audibly, not tangibly, not for you, not for me, not for saint or for sinner or for seeker. … the inescapable consequence is that we have no alternative but to put our faith in men rather than in God. … When men say things on God’s behalf, and make promises that God is supposed to keep, the word they tell you is the word of men, not the word of God. That’s true even if what men say is, “This is the word of God.” They’re not giving you God’s word, they’re giving you man’s word about God’s word (or at least what they claim is God’s word). Sure, you can believe what men tell you about God if you like, but if you do, you are putting your faith in men. Before you can have faith in God, God has to show up, in person, to tell you directly the things He wants you to have faith in. Otherwise it’s just faith in men.”
(tags: deacon-duncan religion atheism)

I Am An Atheist: 16 Things Atheists Need Christians to Know

Some only relevant to Americans, but there are some good general points.
(tags: lists religion christianity atheism)

Atheists face Muslim-led censorship from UCL Union

The atheist society at UCL posted a Jesus and Mo cartoon as the image accompanying their Facebook event. One Muslim objected as the cartoon depicts Mohammed in a pub (what the Muslim was doing looking at the Facebook page for an atheist event isn’t clear). The UCL student union got a complaint from someone and asked them to take it down. They refused. The story got picked up by atheist blogs and Dawkins Our Leader and hence the newspapers. The union backed down though there’s still the vague threat in the air that the atheist soc might be guilty of bullying or harassment.

Hopefully the media attention has put the fear of God into the Union and they won’t be so silly in future. Muslims do not have the right not to be offended.
(tags: richard-dawkins dawkins ucl university censorship religion islam)

Bash Tips for Power Users

I didn’t know about the “fc” command. Nice.
(tags: programming shell unix linux bash)

Twilight: The Use of Sparkle

If Iain M. Banks had written Twilight. Funny, even though I’ve never read/seen any Twilight.
(tags: parody twilight iain-m-banks sf science-fiction sci-fi culture books)

So who is good enough to get into Cambridge? | Education | The Guardian

Guardian reporter sits in on admissions meetings at my old college. Inevitably, the photo with the story is of King’s, because it’s prettier than Churchill.
(tags: churchill cambridge-university university education cambridge)

Fat Acceptance Movement. || kuro5hin.org

kuro5hin is still alive: who knew? Anyway, this is a recent Diary entry from HollyHopDrive who discovered a bunch of Fat Acceptance blogs while looking for fitness information. Her division of what she found into stuff she agrees with and bullshit looks sound.
(tags: medicine health fat)

The Americanization of Mental Illness – NYTimes.com

The expression of mental illness is cultural: anorexia was more or less introduced to Hong Kong by newspaper articles. A view in which mental illness is caused by brain problems rather than childhood experiences or demons actually makes people less sympathetic to those with mental illness, because they’re perceived as being unfixable.
(tags: anorexia schizophrenia culture science psychiatry psychology)

Link blog: funny, sam-harris, rapture, science

YouTube – Tim Minchin’s Storm the Animated Movie

Tim Minchin's beat poem about New Age bullshit has an official animation to accompany it. I'd not seen it before: thanks to gjm11 for linking to it.
(tags: funny religion new-age science)

The Daily Mash – Biblical apocalypse leaves much of Britain unchanged

Mother-to-two Emma Bradford lives in Penzance, where a horde of creatures straight out of the painting Garden of Earthly Delights is on a bloody rampage.
She said: "They're scaly and bulbous-headed and they soil the streets with their demon fire-piss.
"And then they have a kebab."
(tags: funny rapture religion uk)

The Blog : Morality Without “Free Will” : Sam Harris

Sam Harris asks how the neuroscience of free will, or the lack of free will, should affect moral questions. I don't think people have libertarian free will, so it's nice to see Harris arguing that this doesn't mean an end to morality.
(tags: sam-harris free-will morality philosophy neuroscience)

Honolulu Magazine | The Secret Life of Storage Units in Honolulu

What people do with their storage lockers. Including running a business from them…
(tags: storage culture housing)

Link blog: philosophy, atheism, sean-carroll, edinburgh

“Don’t Talk to the Police” by Professor James Duane

Of course, in the UK, we don't have an unqualified right to silence, but this stuff's interesting anyway. There's a follow-on video where a police officer responds and says the professor is right 🙂
(tags: law video police legal lectures rights)

Try Thinking | Here lieth the thoughts of SiânyB

"I do (despite appearances) totally understand the importance of prayer for some people – I know people who use it as a kind of meditation to clear their heads, to unburden their guilt or to enter some kind of celestial lottery of hope. But, given current world events, the message ‘Try Praying’ is a grimly obscuring lens through which to view your surroundings."
(tags: religion culture advertising prayer edinburgh christianity)

Sean Carroll: Does the Universe Need God?

Top theoretical cosmologist Sean Carroll wrote a chapter for the Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity, and this is it. Interesting to compare Carroll's stuff with other popular science about the Big Bang.
(tags: philosophy god science bigbang big-bang sean-carroll physics cosmology)

The Blog : Being Mr. Nobody : Sam Harris

"Imagine a language in which, instead of saying ‘I found nobody in the room’ one said, ‘I found Mr. Nobody in the room.’ Imagine the philosophical problems that would arise out of such a convention. " Sam Harris quotes Wittgenstein to explain why he doesn't like to call himself an atheist.
(tags: wittgenstein atheism philosophy language sam-harris)

Fixing HTTPS

Glyph, of Twisted Python fame, talks about ways to fix HTTPS, presumably in the light of the recent attacks on certification authorities.
(tags: https security internet encryption)

AC Grayling: ‘How can you be a militant atheist? It’s like sleeping furiously’ | Books | The Guardian

Graying mocks the people who call atheists militant and fundamentalist, and talks about his new book: "But the third point is about our ethics – how we live, how we treat one another, what the good life is. And that's the question that really concerns me the most."
(tags: philosophy religion atheism grayling books)

Link blog: japan, christianity, earthquake, pakistan

YouTube – PASTOR ULTIMATE FIGHT

OK, so remixing videos of Pentecostal services is like shooting fish in a barrel, but you've got to love the person who though of turning it into an 90s video game.
(tags: funny pentecostal video youtube charismatic christianity)

Blogging in App Engine

Still vaguely toying with ditching LJ, and this looked interesting.
(tags: appengine python blog bloggart)

William Hague accused of ‘anti-Christian’ foreign policy – Telegraph

"Cardinal Keith O’Brien accused the Foreign Secretary of doubling overseas aid to Pakistan to more than £445 million without demanding religious freedom for Christians and other religious minorities, such as Shia Muslims. " I think O'Brien has a point: nobody should be coerced into conversion, and it's clear that Christians need some protection from the Religion Of Peace.
(tags: religion politics aid pakistan islam christianity)

Stop Being Wrong: A Moral Imperative

C.S. Lewis wrote that "You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house." Wrongbot points out that to behave ethically one must have correct beliefs as well as the right theory of normative ethics.
(tags: ethics philosophy rationality morality wrongbot)

Some Perspective On The Japan Earthquake: MicroISV on a Shoestring

"Japan is exceptionally well-prepared to deal with natural disasters", and apparently, the system worked.
(tags: japan earthquake engineering culture)

Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now! • The Register

"Japan's nuclear powerplants have performed magnificently in the face of a disaster hugely greater than they were designed to withstand, remaining entirely safe throughout and sustaining only minor damage. The unfolding Fukushima story has enormously strengthened the case for advanced nations – including Japan – to build more nuclear powerplants, in the knowledge that no imaginable disaster can result in serious problems."
(tags: science nuclear safety physics japan earthquake)

Link blog: sexism, philosophy, filtering, porn

Concern for Those Who Screen the Web for Barbarity – NYTimes.com

"An Internet content reviewer, Mr. Bess sifts through photographs that people upload to a big social networking site and keeps the illicit material — and there is plenty of it — from being posted." Rule 34 applies: some of these people end up needing counselling, apparently.
(tags: censorship filtering internet porn pornography social-networks)

Out with pink and blue: Don’t foster the gender divide – opinion – 19 July 2010 – New Scientist

Neurologist Lise Eliot argues that, while there are some differences innate differences between males and females, there's also a lot of plasticity in human brains.
(tags: gender science neuroscience brains psychology)

Kafkatrapping

'One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”'. Eric S. Raymond coins the phrase "kafkatrap" to describe a "heads I win, tails you lose" form of argument which sounds pretty similar to Suber's "logical rudeness".
(tags: culture debate debunking philosophy rhetoric racism sexism kafka esr)

Common Sense Atheism » Am I Sexist? (index)

Link to a series of posts: Luke at Common Sense Atheism put up a fairly crass "15 sexy scientists" post with pictures of said scientists (the scientists were all women, with the exception of PZ Myers). He got quite a strong reaction, especially over at Pharyngula (Myers's blog), read some Martha Nussbaum and eventually apologised and took down the posting.

Of note: for all that the atheists at Pharyngula tend to regard Christians as irrational, they aren't too keen on rationality when someone applies it to a domain where they mostly navigate by strong religious convictions (feminism, in this case). Luke initially seems hopelessly naive but ultimately finds the right answer and knows why it's right, which seems better than being cowed by yelling. Well done to him for publicly changing his mind.
(tags: rationality feminism sex objectification martha-nussbaum philosophy ethics morality sexism)

Top Eleven Reasons Why the Reformed Theologian Did not Cross the Road

Theology jokes are fun!
(tags: theology religion reformed joke funny)