Harpercons to Small Live Music Venue Owners: Drop Dead

They aren’t even trying to mask their naked disdain for the little guy anymore. Sign the petition here, contact your local MP, and stand up for small live music venues in Canada.

America, Russia, Syria: “The Outcome Is Irrelevant”


Fyodor Lukyanov on Russia and the growing inevitability of Western-led intervention in Syria:

In Moscow, hardy anyone believes that the tragedy with the toxic substances in the suburbs of Damascus is connected to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He would have to be completely out of his mind to put himself at such risk now by using chemical weapons against the civilian population. On the other hand, the opposition, which is incapable of achieving any significant success, will benefit immensely from the scandal with the chemical weapons. However, it will be impossible to prove anything regardless of what the UN inspectors have to say. After all, their instructions were not to find out who was at fault, but rather to confirm or refute the mere fact of using the chemical weapons. Most likely, the verdict will be ambiguous and vague — “It is not yet clear, but there is room for assumption …” It is not a coincidence that William Hague and John Kerry rushed to announce that the regime already destroyed all evidence and that, purportedly, there would be no proof; however, it does not mean a thing. A massive preparation for the act of retaliation, without waiting for the outcome of the mission, shows nothing except that the outcome is irrelevant.


In general, the attacks from the US Navy aircraft carriers on targets in Syria will have an inflaming effect on public opinion in Russia, akin to the scene of the NATO missiles setting Belgrade on fire in 1999. Syria is perceived as somewhat more familiar and dear than a distant and strange Libya. The common perception is that Americans are totally out of control and they bomb anybody they want to. If nobody stops them, one day they will make a landing in our own backyard. This is a very common opinion in Russia, and it appeared right after the Cold War when the use of force by NATO became routine.

Concert of the Day

Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode – Live At The Pasadena Rose Bowl (1988)


1. Master and Servant


3. Behind the Wheel

4. Strangelove

5. Blasphemous Rumours

6. Stripped

7. Somebody

8. Black Celebration

9. Pleasure, Little Treasure

10. Just Can´t Get Enough

11. Everything Counts

12. Never Let Me Down Again

Watch Depeche Mode – Live At The Pasadena Rose Bowl (1988) after the cut: Continue reading

Richard Dawkins’ Point About Islam & Nobel Laureates Also Applies To Women, Chinese

Jeffrey Tayler in Salon:

No doubt, Nathan Lean, the editor in chief of an Islam-positive online entity called Aslan Media, fired off his recent denunciation of Richard Dawkins’ alleged “Twitter rampage” about the paucity of Muslims among Nobel Prize laureates, and heaved a sigh of satisfaction.  Mission accomplished!  Godless biologist slapped down, “Islamophobia” denounced!

Lean would do well to stiffen up, however.  In tapping out a risible parody of a reasoned critique, he unwittingly both beclowns himself and lends credence to the very scientist and arguments he seeks to discredit.  His piece is full of wrongheaded thinking and blundering jabs at Dawkins for pointing out uncomfortable truths about the state of science, or, rather, the lack of it, in Muslim countries.  Lean purports to “expose” the “ugly underbelly of [Dawkins’] rational atheistic disguise,” but has authored a tract consisting almost wholly of politically correct shibboleths and befuddled assertions that insult his readers’ intelligence and aim to squelch honest debate about Islam and its role in the world today.  If one believes in free speech, one cannot let what he wrote go unchallenged.

Hey, speaking of “uncomfortably truths”  that deflate “befuddled assertions that insult…readers’ intelligence,” Nelson Jones explains why Dawkins’ trolling  contention is nothing but tedious sophistry from an increasingly tedious sophist:

[I]t’s equally true that (again excluding the peace and literature prizes) Trinity boasts more Nobel laureates than the entire female gender. Only 17 women have ever been awarded one of the scientific prizes.


Looking at the list of Nobel laureates since the prizes were first awarded in 1909, the most striking thing is the overwhelming predominance of Western countries, in particular the United States, and of a handful of institutions. Of 863 individual winners, 338 have been American or based in the United States. A further 119 have been British. Germany is in third place with 101 winners, and France a distant fourth with 65 (which is more than Trinity, but less than Cambridge as a whole). Most of the remainder come from other Western nations. Again, the effect is even greater if Peace and Literature are omitted. The university affiliations tell a similar story, with the top US institutions (Harvard alone has 147 affiliated winners) and Oxbridge dominating the lists.

The reason for this isn’t an international conspiracy and it’s ridiculous to view it as some sort of failure on the part of Islam. Rather, it shows that modern science (by which I mean academic, research-intensive science) has been and remains an overwhelmingly Western phenomenon. To ask “where are all the Muslims?” as Dawkins does is to miss the point. One might as well ask, Where are all the Chinese? China has just 8 native-born Nobel winners, and all but two of them are affiliated with Western universities, mostly in the United States. There are approximately the same number of Chinese nationals in the world as there are Muslims, and China, like Islam, had its golden age (in China’s case, several of them) when it led the world in technology and science. Japan does rather better, with 20 winners; but then Japan adopted the Western model of university-based scientific research in the late 19th century, and even so only won its first Nobel Prize in 1949.

Given the type of work that wins a Nobel Prize for science, it’s still remarkable that Trinity College has so many more winners than other Cambridge Colleges, but it’s not all that remarkable that it has more winners than most non-Western countries put together. It says something about the way modern science developed, and about the continuing place of Anglo-American institutions within modern scientific research, but it says no more about Islam than it says about China (or about women). Which is to say, not much.

I truly don’t know (nor care) if Richard Dawkins is (or isn’t) an Islamophobe; but I do know that, far from cooking up “honest debate about Islam and its role in the world today” as suggested by Taylor, his ‘less-than-Trinity’ metric merely proves how adept he is at filleting and serving up tasty red herrings about Muslims on a pseudo-intellectual platter.