on the reverberations of the fall of the Ottoman Empire through time

http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/07/ottoman-caliphs?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/theottomancaliphswhyeuropeanislamscurrentproblemsmightreflecta100yearoldmistake

From at least 1870, British diplomacy tried to shift the centre of gravity in global Islam from the Turks to the Arabs. The Dutch tried to stop their Muslim subjects deferring to the caliph in their public prayers. With somewhat more success, the French promoted alternative centres of spiritual authority among the Muslims they ruled in Algeria and Morocco. As long as the Ottomans retained control of Libya (ie, until 1912), the caliphate kept some sway in North Africa. But when Turkey's new secular nationalist rulers finally abolished the office of caliph in 1924, their job was made easier by the fact that European powers had been sabotaging the sacred office for decades.

As Mr Laurence sees things, the abolition of the old caliphate created a vacuum that has been filled, over the subsequent century, by much darker substitutes, up to and including the new caliphate proclaimed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State. Even where they stop short of fomenting anti-Western violence, global networks of religious fundamentalism and puritanism, such as those linking preachers from say, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have replaced the relatively emollient tone set by the Ottoman caliphs, who were connoisseurs of Western art and music, as a colleague has written.

the awakening

http://www.disinfo.com/2012/11/the-global-awakening/

12/21/12 is nigh. love me a good millineum.

Currently a huge change in human consciousness is undeniably underway. In terms of the number of people effected its scale is unprecedented. Its most obvious cause is the internet, or more accurately the “communications revolution” which also includes mobile phones and other technologies. Some think it is connected to ancient prophecies relating to “the great year,” an astrological concept describing the passage of time recorded by a phenomena called the procession of the equinox. Most people from that background refer to this change as “The Awakening”.

(no subject)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/magazine/from-bible-belt-pastor-to-atheist-leader.html

Because they started out as fervent Christians, unlike Dawkins and Hitchens and company, Phelps and DeWitt are seen as heroes within the movement. They tend to live and work in the country’s most Bible-soaked places. “I think what’s happening is that nontheists are realizing we can’t just leave this cause to Ivy Leaguers and intellectuals,” DeWitt told me. “We’ve got to convey the secular worldview in a more emotional way.”

At the same time, DeWitt is something of a reality check for many atheists, whose principles rarely cost them more than the price of “The God Delusion” in paperback. DeWitt refuses to leave DeRidder, a place where religion, politics and family pride are indivisible. Six months after he was “outed” as an atheist he lost his job and his wife — both, he says, as a direct consequence. Only a handful of his 100-plus relatives from DeRidder still speak to him. When I visited him, in late June, his house was in foreclosure, and he was contemplating moving into his 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser. This is the kind of environment where godlessness remains a real struggle and raises questions that could ramify across the rest of the country. Is the “new atheism” part of a much broader secularizing trend, like the one that started emptying out the churches in European towns and villages a century ago? Or is it just a ticket out of town?

when islam and judaism played nicer together

http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/68082/so-what-did-muslims-do-jews

Political change was partnered by change in the legal status of the Jewish population: although it is not always clear what happened during the Muslim conquests, one thing is certain. The result of the conquests was, by and large, to make the Jews second-class citizens.

This should not be misunderstood: to be a second-class citizen was a far better thing to be than not to be a citizen at all. For most of these Jews, second-class citizenship represented a major advance. In Visigothic Spain, for example, shortly before the Muslim conquest in 711, the Jews had seen their children removed from them and forcibly converted to Christianity and had themselves been enslaved.

contemplating postcapistalism

http://www.alternet.org/economy/155456/capitalism_has_failed:_5_bold_ways_to_build_a_new_world/?page=entire

The problem, in a nutshell, is this: The old economic model has utterly failed us. It has destroyed our communities, our democracy, our economic security, and the planet we live on. The old industrial-age systems -- state communism, fascism, free-market capitalism -- have all let us down hard, and growing numbers of us understand that going back there isn't an option.

canine brain scanning

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120504110504.htm

The idea for the dog project came to Berns about a year ago, when he learned that a U.S. Navy dog had been a member of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden. "I was amazed when I saw the pictures of what military dogs can do," Berns says. "I realized that if dogs can be trained to jump out of helicopters and airplanes, we could certainly train them to go into an fMRI to see what they're thinking."

asteroid mining for fun and profit

http://asterank.com/

Asteroid mining has been in the news recently. Companies like Planetary Resources are an exciting take on the commercial viability of space industry. But how realistic are the trillion dollar estimates? How much would it cost to mine an object millions of miles away?

We've collected, computed, or inferred important data points such as asteroid mass and composition using scraped data from multiple scientific sources. With this information, we estimate the costs and rewards of mining rocks in space.