history

Why I’m speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it | Maajid Nawaz | Comment is free | The Guardian
“I tweeted a cartoon of Jesus and Mo. My aim was to carve out a space where Muslims can be heard without fearing the blasphemy charge.”
(tags: mohammed islam jesus cartoon twitter maajid-nawaz liberal-democrats)
The Philosophers’ Mail
It’s the Daily Mail as if written by philosophers: “We look at the stories of the mass media, then put our own philosophical gloss on them, in the direction of truth, wisdom and complexity.” I’m not sure how long they’ll be able to keep it up, but currently it’s pretty good.
(tags: mail philosophy stoicism paparazzi daily-mail)
Disharmony at Bletchley Park | Gareth Halfacree
All is not well at Bletchley, it appears, with tensions between the two museums on the site and between the guides (who are excellent) and the management of Bletchley Park Trust. What a shame, it’s a great place to visit.
(tags: bletchley charity uk computing history museum)

How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground
Gruesome but interesting.
(tags: underground history death burial corpses tube)
Why we need to sleep in total darkness
Blue light at night is bad. Any light is probably a bit bad. Time to get some blackout curtains (although I think they make it harder to wake up).
(tags: health light sleep blue melatonin)
Reading Genesis 1 “Literally” | Scribalishess
Susan Pigott, a professor specialising in the Old Testament, gives her literal reading of Genesis 1, and shows how it both borrows from and reacts against other cosmologies which were around at the time. Via Unreasonable Faith.
(tags: genesis creation old-testament hebrew cosmology)

UFOs, Ghosts and a Rising God
Chris Hallquist’s debunking of the stories of the resurrection of Jesus is now online. It’s a good read. It’s mostly a response to popular apologetics on the subject (Habermas, Craig, McDowell and so on) and an argument that the evidence is worse than that for more modern paranormal events which we justly reject (the ghosts and UFOs of the title).
(tags: history william-lane-craig christianity jesus resurrection apologetics scepticism ufo paranormal chris-hallquist)
Do try not to get your penis stuck in a toaster. A message from the fire brigade | Dave Brown | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"Our #FiftyShadesofRed campaign is designed to remind people we should be attending fires, not tambourines on heads or yet another handcuff incident."
(tags: fire-brigade bdsm sex funny)
Edward Snowden’s not the story. The fate of the internet is | Technology | The Observer
"The fact is that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are all integral components of the US cyber-surveillance system. Nothing, but nothing, that is stored in their "cloud" services can be guaranteed to be safe from surveillance or from illicit downloading by employees of the consultancies employed by the NSA. That means that if you’re thinking of outsourcing your troublesome IT operations to, say, Google or Microsoft, then think again."
(tags: nsa google xkeyscore cloud edward-snowden security internet china)

FactCheck: Case dismissed on employment law reform | The FactCheck Blog
“The Beecroft study as it appears in the Telegraph contains little in the way of factual evidence as it stands, so it’s difficult to support the venture capitalist’s assertions that a change in the law on unfair dismissal is needed.” Via andrewducker.
(tags: dismissal factcheck law employment beecroft conservatives)
Heresy Corner: Tom Holland: In the shadow of a sword?
Don’t examine Islam too closely: “Channel 4 said today that it had cancelled a special screening planned for this Thursday of Islam: the Untold Story, its documentary of last month written and presented by Tom Holland and based on his latest book In The Shadow of the Sword.”
(tags: history tom-holland channel4 muslim islam)
Speaking Out Because I Must
“I am shocked but not surprised by the film. I am horrified and really, really pissed off at my Muslim brothers.”
(tags: muslim islam)
On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God : Sam Harris
“Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.” “The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost. And the only forces on earth that can recover it are strong, secular governments that will face down charges of blasphemy with scorn. “
(tags: sam-harris islam mohammed koran politics free speech religion)
Sam Harris on the Innocence of Muslims affair | Talking Philosophy
Russel Blackford examines Harris’s essay. He gets a couple of commenters telling him that he’s a cultural imperialist or doesn’t understand the sacred or something, so I waded in.
(tags: religion blasphemy islam russell-blackford sam-harris)

Embedded in Academia : A Quiz About Integers in C
“The C language’s rules for integer operations have some quirks that can make even small programs behave in confusing ways. This post is a review of these rules in the form of a quiz containing 20 questions.” I did OK except on the ones about shifts.
(tags: arithmetic integer C programming)
Sword Fighting with Neal Stephenson and His Mongoliad Co-Authors
Including Greg Bear, apparently.
(tags: mongoliad weapons history sword greg-bear neal-stephenson)

Times Higher Education – Divine irony

Blackburn’s summary of Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”.
(tags: simon-blackburn david-hume hume history religion philosophy atheism)

A Christmas Cracker

“On 16 December 1893, when Parliament had been in continuous session for 11 months and it had been announced that members would have only four daysě°˝€™ recess for Christmasě°˝€”Mr Gladstone received a letter in a neat but childish hand, written on ruled paper, from the infant son of the Earl of Pembroke.”
(tags: parliament history funny politics)

Good Minus God: The Moral Atheist – NYTimes.com

Louise M. Antony writes a reasonable introduction to the idea that being an atheist does not lead to moral nihilism. Mentions the Euthyphro dilemma but doesn’t deal directly with apologetical responses about “God’s nature” (but then we’ve dealt with those here before, I think).
(tags: Euthyphro morality ethics philosophy religion atheism)

Of Hume and Bondage – NYTimes.com

Simon Blackburn defends Hume from some sillier criticisms, and wonders what philosophy is for.
(tags: simon-blackburn hume david-hume philosophy)

Talking Philosophy | Religion and science: the issue that won’t go away

This is great, and has productive discussion in the comments too. Subscribed!

“Recall that the rise of science did not subtract from our pre-existing resources for investigating the world. Rather, it added to them; and the old pragmatic and scholarly methods and the new, distinctively scientific, ones can always be used together in any given case. We need to know whether such claims as that Jesus rose from the dead and that the universe was created by God are plausible when set against what we know overall about how the world works, both through methods that we could have employed anyway and through the distinctive methods developed by science.

When the question is framed like that, surely we don’t think that these claims come under no pressure at all from our best empirical investigations of the world?”
(tags: resurrection russell-blackford philosophy science religion)

Islam and “Islamophobia” – a little manifesto

“The extreme right benefits from the availability of politically respectable criticisms of Islamic thought and associated cultural practices. As this goes on, there is a risk that the word “Islamophobia” will be used to demonize and intimidate individuals whose hostility to Islam is genuinely based on what they perceive as its faults. In particular, we should remember that Islam contains ideas, and in a liberal democracy ideas are fair targets for criticism or repudiation. … After all, there are reasons why extreme-right organizations have borrowed arguments based on feminism and secularism. These arguments are useful precisely because they have an intellectual and emotional appeal independent of their convenience to extreme-right opportunists.”
(tags: islamophobia politics religion islam)

All things to all people, but Christmas is … people – The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A very human Christmas to you all 🙂
(tags: religion christmas)

gource – software version control visualization – Google Project Hosting

Cool tool which produces a video of your code’s history.
(tags: video programming history software tools)

David Graeber: On the Invention of Money – Notes on Sex, Adventure, Monomaniacal Sociopathy and the True Function of Economics « naked capitalism

Interesting demolition of the idea that barter economies always precede the invention of money.
(tags: economics anthropology money history sex barter)

The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills – Atlantic Mobile

Sleep paralysis and the Nocebo effect as a potential killer.
(tags: science psychology sleep paralysis)

Eurozine – Multiculturalism at its limits? – Kenan Malik, Fero Sebej Managing diversity in the new Europe

Kenan Malik seems pretty sensible: "we need to make the distinction between diversity as lived experience and multiculturalism as a political process", "what I'm attacking is not simply multiculturalism, but also anti-immigrant sentiment, which are two sides of the same coin. Both sides of the debate confuse peoples and values." Via andrewducker.
(tags: europe multiculturalism society politics)

Man shot dead for eating popcorn too loudly during Black Swan – Telegraph

I feel we should encourage this sort of thing: even in the Arts Picturehouse, which is relatievly free of chavs, you occasionally get people giving their hilarious running commentary. For example, at a recent screening, when baddie character was lying mangled at the foot of a cliff at the end, a voice behind me said "That's what happens if you're naughty". I was too slow to murmur "That's what happens when you talk in the cinema", alas. L'esprit d'escalier, as they say.
(tags: news popcorn random film death shooting guns)

The Real Fort Smith: The Fact & Fiction Behind True Grit

How much of True Grit was true?
(tags: western film true-grit history)

Johann Hari: Why is it wrong to protect gay children? – Johann Hari, Commentators – The Independent

Hari lays the smackdown on Melanie Phillips, who thoroughly deserves it.
(tags: politics homosexuality education religion uk johann-hari daily-mail)

Ethical First Principles

A brief introduction to various sorts of ethics (virtue, deonotological, consequentialist). Some interesting comments about what causes us to reject various systematisations of morality and whether our rejections are legitimate.
(tags: morality ethics philosophy)

Ignosticism

"Ignostics take issue with a question so fundamental it's often overlooked: What do you mean by "God"? Is "God" a coherent or cognitively meaningful thought? Is it premature, or even possible, to have a serious discussion about a vacuous concept?" Interesting: I tend to find discussion of the evangelical Christian God meaningful, but I have no idea what it would mean for some other sorts of god to exist.
(tags: ignosticism philosophy religion god)

Why The King’s Speech is a gross falsification | Film | The Guardian

The Hitch reckons it's rather too kind to Churchill and a bit too kind to George. Still a good film, but worth bearing in mind that it's not history.
(tags: history uk movie film hitchens europe nazis wwII war churchill royal christopher-hitchens)

A True Story Of Daily Mail Lies (guest post)

The Daily Mail are lying bastards. Who knew? (OK, probably you all knew, but it's worth seeing a specific example of outright fabrication of a story and refusal to apologise).
(tags: journalism law libel media daily-mail dailymail defamation newspaper newspapers)

Awkward ‘Christian tweet’ of the day!? | Jesus Needs New PR

Complementarian bad boy John Piper with a warning for us all (well, those of you who have daughters, at any rate).
(tags: complementarianism john-piper funny crazy christianity religion incest alcohol)

Did Vikings navigate by polarized light? : Nature News

Interesting, maybe even true.
(tags: physics history science)