About wolandscat

I work on semantic architectures for interoperability of information systems. Much of my time is spent studying data, ideas, and knowledge, and using methods from philosophy, particularly ontology and epistemology.

Just words on a page? Aslan v Harris

harris_aslan

Anyone who follows the debate on fundamentalist Islamic terrorism will be familiar with Sam Harris and Reza Aslan. They usually come across as intellectually diametrically opposed, but are both clearly humanists and deep thinkers. The fact that two such intelligent students of world affairs, belief systems and geopolitics cannot find a common reference point from which to have more substantive debate is informative.

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What matters in (Green) politics?

I joined the UK Green Party recently. There’s a lot to fix with its internal organisation, media presentation and other peripheral aspects. There are bits of policy that need serious work. But the core thinking on the ecological, economic and social levels is broadly good and coherent.

There is an internal discussion (post mortem) going on after a ‘car-crash’ interview the Greens leader, Natalie Bennett gave on LBC, a radio station this last week. I posted the following on the internal discussion about the car crash by way of reaction. It might be of interest to some readers here (note: below, ‘GP’ = Green Party, not general practitioner!).

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War, vulture capitalism and how to really play a harp – part I

First the harp, since I have a small clip of a wonderful musician called Diego Laverde Rojas from Columbia, who was playing in Old St Tube station last night.

Like me many of you I often just walk past buskers, even good ones, following my imagined prioritisation of things (or just being late to a meeting). But… what could be more important than standing listening to a virtuoso player in the underground on a cold night, conjuring up traditional dances of South America on the least likely instrument? Thanks Diego, you made my night, and I am sure you will make many others happy. [Of course I asked him if I could upload the video of him. He’s a lovely guy to talk to. I was so stunned by his playing I completely forget to give him a few more coins. Londoners, please help me make up for that!]

And now for the dark side.

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How politicians killed democracy in the UK

UK democracy is in dire straits. All the evidence right now points to a failing system, and for quite different reasons than the US, a country now deemed an oligarchy by academic experts (Mike Lofgren’s book The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted is another absolute must-read on the failure of democracy in the US). But I’ll leave the US for now, since its democracy actually is dead, and concentrate on the UK’s, which is close to flat-lining.

Here, there are many causes, but it’s the outcome that is notable today: the public no longer believes in politicians. At all. They’ve lost confidence utterly in all the main parties. Here I’ll skim through the many causes I detect merely by tracking the media, and ponder if anything can be done.

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How militant advocacy kills good ideas: the case of abolitionist veganism

This post is about how hardline militancy about potentially good ideas (eating less meat, open source software, reducing alcohol consumption) cruels rational debate, and often has the opposite effect in the real world of that intended. Militants are essentially ideologues and fascists and need to be called out for it.

Firstly, to any vegans or vegetarians reading this: I like all both of these things. In moderation:) Now read on…

Recently I accidentally become embroiled in a comments section discussion / flame war attached to an Alternet.org article called ‘Unsavory: The Problem With Angry Vegans Who Push and Preach Their Ideals‘. Most of the flaming was by other people and for other people, so I escaped with only minor charring around the edges. Continue reading

Islam and Violence – getting our thoughts in order

I posted last week on my outrage and revulsion of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, 7/Jan/2015. Those of us in the UK, France, other European and Western countries, and many around the world, expressed similar outrage. Now what?

I spent a good part of the last week thinking about my own reaction, and researching all manner of Islam-related topics on the net. To my surprise, along with much to be depressed about, I found some specific and unexpected resources – all created by Muslims – that give me some hope. (See ‘Resources’ in the middle of this post).

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