Quote of the day: Four Jacobean Lions

The Gunpowder Plotters weren’t freedom fighters at all. They wanted to replace an oppressive Protestant regime with an oppressive Catholic one, and were willing to commit mass slaughter to do it. In other words, Guy Fawkes was a religious terrorist, and not even one of the most important ones. He was the Jacobean equivalent of one of the minor characters from Four Lions.

At any rate, the result of all this is that we’ve ended up with a world that celebrates a semi-competent religious fundamentalist as a freedom fighter, and where people give money to big corporations to buy copies of his face.

Well done, anarchists. Well done on never reading a fucking book.

Jonn Elledge

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Judge Dredd to (finally) take on Ronald McDonald

A page from the now uncensored Cursed Earth storyline. If you are British and of a certain age you will be well aware of 2000AD and you will probably remember the Cursed Earth, in which Judge Dredd travelled across the irradiated wasteland that is the future North America to deliver a vaccine to Mega-City Two.

It turns out that a couple of episodes of that series, in which Dredd took on corporate mascots such as Ronald McDonald, the Burger King, the Michelin Man and the Jolly Green Giant, were pulled due to legal fears.

Now for the good news Comics Alliance (via) reports that “due to recent changes in UK law governing parody” the full story can now be told.

Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored, a new printing of the story, will not only restore the pulled episodes but will also reprint reprint Brian Bolland and Mick McMahon’s color spreads.

It’s due to be printed in the US and the UK next July and is going straight on my Amazon wishlist.

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Happy 30 Year Nostalgia Day

Back to the Future 2 I couldn’t let today go past without a mention as October 21st 2015 is the date in which Marty McFly arrives in Back to the Future 2. Inevitably, there is a website and a Facebook page to celebrate this fact.

Coincidentally, we watched Back to the Future 2 on Sunday and I have to say that the main thing going for the film is nostalgia. It’s not a bad film – by any stretch of the imagination – but it really hasn’t held up as successfully as… Well, the first Back to the Future film. Back to the Future 2 does feel very much like a rerun of the first film but in the future!

It’s not a bad film but I doubt that anyone would be nerding over today’s date if it wasn’t for the fact that Back to the Future was so much better.

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The Illiberal Liberty

Edward Docx makes a good point:

[B]y asserting their individual right to self-defence, the pro-gun lobby are in some way responsible for the reduction of personal security in American society in general. Since now we can see (given the factual evidence of the number of deaths) that what they are really arguing is that their individual right is more important than the wider social right to personal security.

There is, of course, plenty of evidence and a strong line of reasoning to support Docx’s point and the full article is well worth reading. But if you want a shorter summary, Newsthump hits the nail on the head:

American gun owners have today confirmed that their right to defend their homes from pretend enemies is far more important than other people’s real children.

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Critical Mass

Critical Mass Following on from Thursday, I was reminded of the last book I read on the subject of economics. That said, Critical Mass by Philip Ball goes beyond just economics and takes in a whole range of social sciences and delves into why these areas of study so often get things wrong.

Ball, a physicist by training and a former editor for Nature, makes the case that these subjects should focus on the behaviour of systems, rather than trying to extrapolate from individual behaviour as is so often the case. He starts by laying the groundwork and then works through a series of examples in which his approach has been successfully used.

It’s been a fair few years since I read this (my copy has a printing date of 2007) but the core point – that people are random and unpredictable individually, but highly predictable in groups – is one that has stayed with me and still appears to hold true.

I’d recommend it and I’m highly tempted to go back and read it again.

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Quote of the day: Divided we fall

[O]nly a broad regional political settlement involving all of the powers conducting proxy wars on the territory of Syria will end this bloody civil war. Given the regional complexities and vested interests at stake, it will be difficult for Russia and the US to forge a deal bilaterally. A united Europe, speaking with one voice, could play an important role in steering a path to peace.

Not only does Europe have an overriding interest in securing its immediate neighbourhood, it has recent experience of helping to deliver a nuclear deal with Iran. The Iran nuclear deal showed what the European Union can achieve when it works together with one voice and engages other global powers.

Guy Verhofstadt

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Goodwin’s Law and Social Justice Warriors

In a footnote to a post, Martín Ferrari makes the following observation:

At this point, using the term SJW in a discussion should equate to a Godwin, and mean that you lost the argument.

Pedantry aside1, Ferrari makes a good point. Increasingly, the accusation that someone is, or is behaving like, a “Social Justice Warrior” is bandied about online by reactionaries seeking to shut down discussions rather than deal with the points being made.

People who try to close down arguments in this way can, and should, be dismissed as the irrelevancies that they are.

1 Godwin’s Law merely states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” The idea that making a Nazi comparison means that you lost the argument is a corollary.

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