British Jihadis, Blasphemy & Racism, Suicide, Google, Ravensbrück


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On The Trail Of Britain’s Homegrown Jihadis

Alex Perry | Newsweek | 15th January 2015

Gripping read, horrifying story. Troubled British son of Bangladeshi immigrants feels bored with Britain and torn between cultures, gets seduced by online propaganda from Islamic State, goes to Syria, recruits friends from Britain — and then gets sent into battle and blown in two. "If these were terrorists, they were among the least capable, least experienced and altogether least scary the world had ever seen" (4,000 words)

Blasphemy And Racism

David Bernstein | Washington Post | 19th January 2015

Blasphemy is not morally or logically equivalent to racist speech. A country can reasonably ban racist speech without banning blasphemy. "Satirising religious belief is not only not inherently evil, it’s often a worthy endeavor, because it’s criticizing an idea. There’s no way to test the merit of ideas unless someone is willing to criticize them, sometimes harshly. Many religious doctrines are objectively very silly" (1,380 words)

Why Don’t More People Kill Themselves?

Emrys Westacott | 3quarks Daily | 19th January 2015

How would you prefer to die? In relative comfort, at a time and place of your choosing? Or hooked up to machines in a hospital, dizzy and helpless? Put like that, the answer seems self-evident. Suicide is a rational option, the more so when hospitalisation can only defer death briefly at great physical and financial cost. "Those who choose to bring an already complete life to a dignified close are an example to us all" (2,100 words)

Steven Levy | Backchannel | 16th January 2015

Conversation with Google scientist Geoff Hinton about using neural networks and deep learning to improve search. “Think about little kids, when they learn to recognize cows. It’s not like they had a million different images and their mothers are labeling the cows. They just learn what cows are by looking around, and eventually they say, ‘What’s that?’ and their mother says, ‘That’s a cow’ and then they’ve got it” (4,830 words)

If This Is A Woman: Inside Ravensbrück

Sarah Helm | Observer | 17th January 2015

“Just as Auschwitz was the capital of the crime against Jews, so Ravensbrück was the capital of the crime against women”. The concentration camp on the Baltic Coast was designed to hold 3,000 women. By 1945 it held 46,000 in atrocious conditions. "Babies were delivered and left to starve to death". Inmates were used for medical experiments. Of the 120,000 women who entered Ravensbrück, 50,000 were killed there (1,100 words)

Video of the day: Thirty Masks

What to expect: Surrealist cartoon (1'14")

Thought for the day

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants
A. Whitney Brown

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