I thought that my e-reader, an Amazon Kindle 3, would let me sync up the snippets and notes I make with the Internet so I could read them easily. It turns out that while these are just pasted into a simple plain text file, which is a neat way of doing it, they aren’t synced anywhere and you have to transfer them off by USB. Not realising this has left me with a backlog of news articles to briefly blog my comments to. I find this worthwhile for myself, as a kind of personal scrapbook, and don’t really expect anyone else to be too interested. Time to get that backlog cleared.

Harsh riot sentences could cause appeals logjam, say rights groups | UK news | The Guardian

According to the Sentencing Council’s standard list of the five purposes of sentencing, “the reduction of crime (including its reduction by deterrence)” comes second after “punishment of offenders”.

I’m quite surprised that ‘punishment of offenders’ is top, I didn’t think we were that backwards in this country.

Looting with the lights on | Naomi Klein | Comment is free | The Guardian

I liked this.

The right has chosen its scapegoat – the single mum. And she will bleed | Tanya Gold | Comment is free | The Guardian

The single mother is no more work-shy than any other mother: 57% of single parents work, an increase of 12 percentage points since 1997, which explodes the rightwing lie that New Labour did nothing but harm. As soon as their children reach the age of 12, this figure rises to 71%, which is the also the national average for mothers in relationships. These are the facts. They read nothing like the righteous narrative. But the scapegoat has been chosen, and she will bleed.

UK riots were product of consumerism and will hit economy, says City broker | Business | The Guardian

As the dream of economic growth dies, a new plan awaits testing | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

It points out that the financial crisis was caused not by isolated malpractice but by the systematic deregulation of the banks by governments, in order to stimulate economic growth by issuing more debt. Growth and the need to encourage it is the problem, and in the rich world it no longer bears any relationship to prosperity.

The New Atheism | Books | The Guardian

I can’t be the only reader who finds himself in broad agreement with the conclusions of the New Atheists, while disliking some of the ways they reach them.

This article gave me some more thoughts for my planned writing on militant atheism; the article used this very term, which is great cos I thought I might have just made it up myself.

At war with World of Warcraft: an addict tells his story | Technology | The Guardian

There has been a flurry of activity around extraordinary rendition recently and whether Britain was involved, which it seems it was. I’ve noticed an interesting effect of this on me: I get very, very angry about it, about the UK engaging in torture, but I don’t feel a similar thing about China doing it—Scott’s response does not chime with me at all. Why is this? I never feel at all patriotic, I do not think very much of the UK—consciously, anyway.

How Google Dominates Us by James Gleick | The New York Review of Books

Search and advertising thus become the matched edges of a sharp sword. The perfect search engine, as Sergey and Larry imagine it, reads your mind and produces the answer you want. The perfect advertising engine does the same: it shows you the ads you want. Anything else wastes your attention, the advertiser’s money, and the world’s bandwidth. The dream is virtuous advertising, matching up buyers and sellers to the benefit of all. But virtuous advertising in this sense is a contradiction in terms. … [T]he modern corporation is an amoral creature by definition …

Jo Glanville · ‘Auntie Mabel doesn’t give a toss about Serbia’: The World Service · LRB 25 August 2011

I should start tuning in.

Can the United States move beyond the narcissism of 9/11? | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian

It’s a narcissism best exemplified by former vice-president Dick Cheney’s answer when asked just last week on what grounds he would object to Iran waterboarding Americans when he maintained his support for America’s right to use waterboarding. “We have obligations towards our citizens,” he said. “And we do everything to protect our citizens.”

However perverse that seems now …

Tony Blair calls for regime change in Iran and Syria | Politics | The Guardian

The threat is still from the same ideology and the same narrative which is based on a perverted view of religion and which regards cultures and faiths as in fundamental conflict with each other.

Paradox of liberalism?

Climate change: summer in the city | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

In the US, according to a Rasmussen poll, seven out of 10 Americans now think that climate scientists – and that term embraces the meteorologists, oceanographers and glaciologists of competing institutions and academies in Europe, Asia and America – are likely to have faked their research data to support a belief in global warming.

We’re screwed.

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I’ll comment on just one of these: I found that article on the “New Atheism”, scare quotes definitely intended because I find that term highly dodgy (along with “militant atheism” as well, actually), rather long-winded and odd in what it was trying to say.

It felt a bit like, well, a “Courtier’s Reply”, if you know the term: insisting that things are just too complicated and nuanced and  mysterious for anyone to simply critique, while being very vauge about what exactly it is that they themselves believe, or what they think Christian belief actually is. Also it does this odd thing of conflating, say, Richard Dawkins with the totality of “New Atheism”, when really I’d argue a big part of what that refers to is the panapoly of blogs around these topics, all often coming at this from different angles and opinions and not as rigidly simplifying as this guy makes out.

Comment by jr512 Wed 14 Sep 2011 12:16:18 UTC