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Islam in Scotland

As of this writing, there are over 75,000 Muslims in Scotland, representing 1.4% of the population. They are a small but very visible minority, especially in the major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. In fact, I’ve spent the past week staying next door to the Edinburgh Central Mosque, which is a lovely building in its own right, and obviously Muslims are a common sight all around it. Islam has been in the news this week for a particularly sad occasion: the murder of one Muslim by another, over religious differences.

Friendship Dynamics

Something that I always find fascinating is the process of exploring the motivations, thoughts, and feelings of people in my life. I’m not interested in this for any nefarious purpose–I really just want to understand them better, so I can be a good friend, partner, or otherwise. But what’s the point of having friends, really? Different people no doubt create and maintain friendships for different reasons. The common factor is that our motives are always ultimately selfish.

Healthy Creativity

I am creative, though I am reluctant to call myself an artist. “Writer” might be OK but it seems pretentious to even use that. The point is, I’m going to talk about having a healthy creative life, as if I know something about it. In popular culture, artists–be they painters, sculptors, photographers, actors, musicians, writers, poets, you-name-it–are supposed to be tortured. They’re supposed to be dark, despairing, even suicidal. Nothing means anything except their work, and their work is a reflection of this nothingness.

Nobody Sets the Evil Bit

In case you didn’t know, many of the rules that built the Internet started as RFCs–requests for comments. These were online discussions in which proposals were made, discussed, and (sometimes) adopted as official rules. Each one has a number, and many Internet technologies you’ve heard about (or at least use every day) have their origins in one RFC or another. For example, the original email protocol was defined in RFC 196; the original hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which all websites use some version of, was first officialized with RFC 1945; and version of the Internet protocol (IPv4), which specifies a network addressing system that essentially every network-connected device uses, came out of RFC 791.

Money for Sex: A Double-Standard

I recently had a conversion with a friend about the idea of exchanging money for sex–what one would also describe as sex work, or prostitution (though the latter word is not at all preferred). The question became whether I, personally, would entertain the notion of being paid for sex. Well, why not? It’s something I enjoy anyway. It’s not something I would ever ask to paid for, and I don’t see why I would accept money from a friend or romantic partner, but I’m not totally against the idea.

The Abandoned White Working Class

It’s time to talk about the white working class again, who have helped produce one of the biggest political upsets in recent memory. This is not another Donald Trump piece, though. This is an expansion of some things Italked about before, regarding how the working class–especially the white working class–is treated in this country. I want to bring a couple other articles into the mix. First is a new piece from The Guardian, which is a response to the Kevin Williamson screed that I previously critiqued.

The Latest in Trans Panic

It’s almost as if some states in the US are having a contest to see which can be the most oppressive toward people who aren’t a threat to anyone. Today, in a fit of pique against the city of Charlotte daring to not be a completely bigoted hellhole, the legislature of North Carolina passed (and the governor signed) a new law declaring that state laws override local ones when it comes to anti-discrimination measures.

American Nihilism

This is not an article about Donald Trump. This is, instead, an article about the America that created him. The slogan is “make America great again.” What does this mean, really? The more I think about it, the more I see it as unintentional satire. Does it mean more jobs, broad prosperity, better communities, a just society, a healthy, happy people, and international respect? Or does it instead mean a world brought to its knees, terrorized by the American war machine?

The Ultimate Welfare Queens

Imagine people who have little reason to integrate themselves into their surrounding society. They live in isolated communities and either avoid or have little use for the public services everyone else takes for granted. If circumstances ever take a turn for the worse where they live, they can always move elsewhere. And when they really do feel like making a difference, they can choose a policy area and a geographic region and essentially set the agenda.

Good Guys and Bad Guys: The Gaming Binary

These days, video games are good at a lot of things. They have excellent graphics, to the point that sometimes screenshots could be mistaken for real-life photographs. They can be very challenging, offering a wide variety of systems and mechanics to explore–survival, crafting, adventure, hundreds or thousands of non-player characters (NPCs), huge environments, thousands of combinations of items, orchestral music, crisp sound designs, and the list goes on. But one thing video games still handle poorly: people.