islam

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)

Implementing non-recursive make
Recursive makes are considered harmful. Here’s a recipe for a non-recursive one where you can still put project files in subdirectories.
(tags: make programming nonrecursive makefiles build software)
Embedded in Academia : Proposal for a Friendly Dialect of C
John Regehr and friends note that C compilers aggressive optimising around use of constructs the spec says are “undefined” can lead to unexpected behaviour. They propose a friendly C dialect where compilers would produce unspecified values in response to use of these constructs, but would not feel free to make demons fly out of your nose.
(tags: C programming language software-engineering)
The Left must reject the relativism at the heart of the Rotherham scandal | Left Foot Forward
This, from Al Razi of Ex-Muslim Forum, seems a sensible response, although as the worlds only impartial observer, I’d say that both the class of the victims and the race of both victims and perpetrators contributed to the horrors being ignored for so long. The Guardian will only talk about the former and the Telegraph about the latter, I suspect.
(tags: rotherham abuse religion islam news multiculturalism)

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)

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)

The Millions : One Fixed Point: “Sherlock,” Sherlock Holmes, and the British Imagination
Why we love Sherlock.
(tags: sherlock sherlock-holmes britain television books)
13 reasons why I am taking the Daily Mail to the Press Complaints Commission | British InfluenceBritish Influence
The Heil lied about Romanian immigration to the UK. This isn’t that surprising, but it’s nice to see someone do the research to prove it.
(tags: dailymail fail journalism lies uk romania immigration politics)
The Descent to C
Simon Tatham introduces C to people who’ve only worked in high level languages, the innocent little darlings. You ‘ad array bounds checking? You were lucky!
(tags: C programming language)
The Liberal Democrats face a true test of liberty | Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer
“The real scandal in the Liberal Democrats is not leading the news. Extremists are menacing the career and life of a Liberal Democrat politician and respectable society hardly considers these authentically scandalous threats to be a scandal at all. The scandal, in short, is that there is no scandal.”
(tags: islam libdems liberal-democrats nick-clegg islamism freedom twitter mohammed)
The Millions : Read Me! Please!: Book Titles Rewritten to Get More Clicks
Classic literature titles re-written as those click-bait headlines you see spreading around Facebook: “They Told Him White Whales Were Impossible to Hunt. That’s When He Went Literally Crazy.” Via marn.
(tags: creative funny literature parody)

Dueling Magical Negros on Vimeo
Looks like Morgan Freeman wasn’t available.
(tags: magical negro dueling funny race comedy)
What The Fuck Is My Wearable Strategy?
“MONEYCLIP THAT POSTS TO FACEBOOK WHEN YOU NEED A SHIT” “TEMPORARY TATTOO THAT TWEETS WHEN YOU HAVE NIGHTMARES”
(tags: funny humour technology wearable strategy)
Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’ – Home News – UK – The Independent
Personal stories from some ex-Muslims.
(tags: religion islam de-conversion ex-muslim)
Ten Things I Want To Stop Seeing On The Internet In 2014 | Slate Star Codex
An interesting thread about the internet social justice movement, on Slate Star Codex: “I am having a hard time finding a middle ground between SJ and sociopathy. I don’t like what SJ does to my brain. But realistically it’s not actually feasible for me to not give a shit about anyone. Could use a little advice.” Commenter then gets good advice.
(tags: social-justice sjw internet sociopath)
▶ UKIP Shipping Forecast by Nicholas Pegg
The Shipping Forecast as delivered by UKIP.
(tags: politics humour shipping ukip funny)

Richard Dawkins is in the news again, for his twits on Twitter pointing out that Trinity College has produced more Nobel prizewinners than Islam. While he accepts that Muslims were great shakes in the Middle Ages, they haven’t done much science lately, apparently. By saying this, Dawkins has caused a bit of a stir.

Dawkins futher explains his views in a post on his site.

Dawkins is right about science in the Muslim world

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes Dawkins’s point at greater length. The Islamic world has long since lost its former scientific glory. Tyson puts the blame on Al Ghazali and a switch from inquiry to accepting “revelation”1. A much more extensive article on the decline, in the form of an interview with a Turkish physicist, makes the point that the Golden Age mixed the precursors to modern science with a lot of other weird stuff (but shurely this also applied in the West?)

Whatever the reasons, it seems Dawkins is right to say things ain’t what they used to be. Contra Nesrine Malik, he didn’t make the statement out of the blue, but rather, as part of a debate on the role of Islam in the birth of science (see this previous twit, for example). Everyone thinks science is a Good Thing2, so both Muslims and Christians like to claim credit for fostering science. Dawkins’s stuff about Nobel prizes should be read as “what have you done for us in the last 500 years, then?”

That’s racist!

(Edit:)Writing before Dawkins posted about Nobel Prizes (end of edit), Alex Gabriel says that some of Dawkins’s twits are racist statements.3

What sort of thing is a “racist statement”? It seems it’s something that encourages prejudice (a fault of reasoning) which can lead to discrimination (a moral fault), all on the grounds of race. However, it then doesn’t seem to follow that we ought never to make “racist statements”, because it all depends on how much encouragement we’re giving.

The best thing I’ve seen written about the interaction between criticism of Islam and racism is Russell Blackford’s piece in Talking Philosophy. Blackford says that “opponents of Islam who do not wish to be seen as the extreme-right’s sympathizers or dupes would be well-advised to take care in the impression that they convey”. I agree with Gabriel’s point that Dawkins’s support for Pat Condell and talk of “barbarians” and “alien” stuff shows Dawkins’s failure to take care here. But I see the EDL re-tweeted some of Dawkins’s twits about Islamic science, and I don’t think that implies Dawkins should not have talked about that. As Blackford says “After all, there are reasons why extreme-right organizations have borrowed arguments based on feminism, secularism, etc. These arguments are useful precisely because they have an intellectual and emotional appeal independent of their convenience to opportunists.”

Gabriel also says that it’s unacceptable to single Islam out for criticism. I don’t see any reason to think that. People may have legitimate reasons for singling out Islam: perhaps they know a lot about it (because they are ex-Muslims, say) or perhaps they think it is more harmful than other religions. Dawkins himself famously doesn’t single out Islam, usually leading to taunts of “you wouldn’t dare say that about Muslims” when he criticises Christianity4. So a criticism of Dawkins on those grounds seems to be either false or a “why aren’t you also addressing these evils?” sort of criticism (which is bad, as this expert guide to epistemic rationality could tell you).

9781118038048_p0_v1_s260x420Twitter is for twits

Finally, all of these people (including Dawkins) are foolish for taking Twitter spats seriously. The 140 character limit on twits precludes serious discussion, so it’s either for telling your friends what you had for lunch today, or getting your hit of self-righteous rage by swapping telegrams with people whose views you violently disagree with. The whole thing could fall into the sea tomorrow and nothing of value would be lost, John Donne notwithstanding. If Malik found that reading Dawkins’s twits hashed her Eid mellow, there’s an obvious solution.

In conclusion: the only legitimate use of Twitter is to link to blog posts. Get off my lawn.


  1. Though this comment seems to be a counterpoint to that 

  2. Believers like point to bits of their scripture and claim that verse is, if you use the eye of faith and squint a bit, actually a correct scientific statement that the authors could not possibly have known by mundane means, which proves that God revealed it. Oddly, God did not see fit to reveal that germs cause disease. 

  3. If you’re in Internet social justice fandom, you carefully avoid saying “Jones is a racist”, rather, you say “Jones said X, and X is a racist statement”: it’s like the “hate the sin, love the sinner” thing I remember from my evangelical days. While the evangelicals and social justice fans are rightly trying to avoid ad hom arguments or giving the impression that they are not themselves sinners, I think the two share the same difficulties. 

  4. The jargon for that sort of taunt is “fatwa envy”

Ambidancetrous: The Blog — “We don’t want to make people uncomfortable.” (aka, “What about teh menz?!”)
"Ultimately, some of the worry that some straight guys will be uncomfortable dancing with other men (or being led by a woman) may be justified." Het guys: you lost the oppression Olympics, so your comfort and consent about who touches you is less important than our plan to build a utopia through dance. PROBLEMATIC. Well, OK, that bit rubbed me up the wrong way. But seriously, I think an "ambidancetrous" dance scene would be less "problematic" if the expectations (and how they differ from pretty much every other scene) were made clear up front. What I expect would happen then is that if you insisted every lesson was ambidancetrous, you’d never get enough people to make a viable community. Maybe it’d work as an option within an established scene, though.
(tags: lindy consent gender feminism lindyhop dance)
http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/march/1361848247/karen-hitchcock/fat-city
A doctor writes about the difficulties of dealing with obesity: dealing with a social problem, and applying epidemiology to individuals. Via Metafilter.
(tags: food fat obesity medicine health)
On the stupidity of asking, “but where’s the evidence we need evidence for things?”
"it’s a mistake to think that if someone thinks maybe you should have some evidence for a particular thing you believe, they are therefore committed to a sweeping philosophical doctrine about needing evidence for absolutely everything."
(tags: evidence philosophy epistemology)
Online Child Porn – What the Papers Aren’t Telling You.
Could Google really block it? (Hint: no)
(tags: google porn filtering internet)
Ukip Activist Marty Caine Provokes Fury by Branding Drummer Lee Rigby’s Family ‘Idiots’ – IBTimes UK
Looks like the old "the EDL are the provisional wing of UKIP" joke is actually true.
(tags: edl lee-rigby islam racism ukip)

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)

The nuclear deterrent and reasons for its replacement
Interesting discussion from UK armed forces people on Trident and whatnot. Found in a comment on the aforementioned Charles Stross blog post.
(tags: Vulcan nuclear Trident ICBM SSBN V-force war)
Free Speech on the Internet: Silicon Valley is Making the Rules | New Republic
Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech
(tags: law twitter speech google islam censorship facebook)