Link blog: C, shooting, magic, censorship

post modern C tooling – draft 5

(tags: tools programming C)

‘My ties to England have loosened’: John le Carré on Britain, Boris and Brexit | Books | The Guardian
“At 87, le Carré is publishing his 25th novel. He talks to John Banville about our ‘dismal statesmanship’ and what he learned from his time as a spy”
(tags: spies intelligence MI5 MI6 le-carre politics)
The New Zealand Shootings: The Untold Stories | GQ
A moving account of the shootings and their aftermath. Via Metafilter.
(tags: shooting terrorism racism new-zealand)
How Derren Brown Remade Mind Reading for Skeptics | The New Yorker
Introducing Derren Brown to the Americans. Via Mefi.
(tags: magic derren-brown mentalism)
WSJ, WaPo, NYT Spread False Internet Law Claims | Cato @ Liberty
Rebutting nonsense about the supposed publisher/platform distinction in Section 230 of the US’s Communications Decency Act. From the Cato Institute, so can’t be dismissed as leftist propaganda.
(tags: law censorship internet)

Link blog: brexit, referendum, eu, Politics

Fintan O’Toole: Brexit fantasy is about to come crashing down
“Brexit is not so much a peasants’ revolt as a deeply strange peasants’ – and – landlords’ revolt.
It is a Downton Abbey fantasy of toffs and servants all mucking in together. But when the toffs, as the slogan goes, “take back control”, the underlings will quickly discover that a fantasy is exactly what it is.
The disaffected working- class voter in Sunderland, rightly angry about being economically marginalised and politically disenfranchised, will wait in vain for the magical billions that are supposedly going to be repatriated from Brussels to drop from the clear blue skies of a free England.”
(tags: britain eu brexit referendum politics)
There are liars and then there’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove | Nick Cohen | Opinion | The Guardian
‘The Brexit figureheads had no plan besides exploiting populist fears and dismissing experts who rubbished their thinking.’
(tags: brexit eu Politics referendum)
Worrying Signs
Recording post-referendum incidents of racism. Not all leavers are racist, but all th racists voted leave, and now they think they’ve won.
(tags: eu referendum Politics racism brexit)
I want my country back
Laurie Penny, you magnificent bastard: “When all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like David Cameron’s face.”
(tags: brexit Politics referendum eu)
“I want to stop something exploitative, divisive and dishonest” — conversation with a Leaver — Medium
Interesting discussion between a young Remainer and his Lexiter father.
(tags: eu referendum Politics lexit brexit)

Link blog: europe, fraud, journalism, racism

THE FAILURE OF MULTICULTURALISM | Pandaemonium
Kenan Malik argues that multi-cultural policies amount to dealing with people as a bloc lead by self-appointed (or government appointed) leaders. Yet French assimilationism hasn’t fared better: Malik blames measures taken against alienness (burqua bans) and an inability to acknowledge that racism still exists even though the goal is assimilation.
(tags: multiculturalism kenan-malik culture politics racism immigration europe)
My Year Ripping Off the Web with the Daily Mail Online
The Heil rips stuff off and makes stuff up, as told by a former employee.
(tags: dailymail journalism fraud)

Link blog: charlie-hebdo, islam, islamism, culture

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)

Link blog: politics, problematic, clapping, gchq

Satanists want to use Hobby Lobby decision to exempt women from anti-abortion laws
This is win. Hail Satan, and His only Son, Harry Potter.
(tags: satanism abortion law)
Harry Connick Jr & French Rhythm Accents – YouTube
Harry Connick Jr sorts out the audience’s clapping (from 1&3 to 2&4). Can you spot how? Genius.
(tags: music clapping afterbeat)
Between the Hammer and the Anvil: On Countering The Ukip Cri-de-Colon
Author shares my frustration that Labour apparently has no balls: “Every unchallenged Question Time assertion that people aren’t allowed to talk about the topics that they are themselves talking about on national television at that very moment. Every word from the party’s self-appointed detectors of the legitimate feelings of thick-headed bellends. All of it has been leading to precisely this point, at which politicians explicitly talking about sending them back are seen as engaging in respectable conjecture, and posting a picture on the internet is a sackable offence.”
(tags: ukip politics immigration racism labour)
Why Are All The Good Guys Always Taken, Gay, Dead, Or Available? | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source
“When you finally do come across one of the good guys out there, why does it always turn out that he’s either taken, gay, dead, or available?” Via Phil.
(tags: dating funny parody onion)
“Everything is problematic” | The McGill Daily
“Perhaps the most deeply held tenet of a certain version of anti-oppressive politics – which is by no means the only version – is that members of an oppressed group are infallible in what they say about the oppression faced by that group. … Let me give an example. A gay person is typically much better acquainted with homophobia than a straight person. Moreover, a gay person has a much greater stake in what society does about homophobia, so their view on the matter is more important. However, there is nothing about the experience of being gay in itself that enlightens a gay person about the ethics of sexual orientation. To take a dead simple case, you don’t have to hear it from a gay person to know that homosexuality is ethically just fine.”
(tags: politics feminism activism culture rationality problematic)
Top Level Telecommunications: INCENSER, or how NSA and GCHQ are tapping internet cables
Cornwall is the centre of GCHQ/NSA’s taps on undersea cables. This blog post puts the picture together from a bunch of sources. Via Bruce Schneier.
(tags: gchq cornwall cable interception nsa undersea)

Richard Dawkins and the Islamic Nobel Prizewinners

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”

Link blog: google, porn, dance, consent

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)