Must read on the purpose of ISIS.

Tl;dr a real threat to the region based on a strict interpretation of the prophet’s writings. Not the only available interpretation, but definitely Islamic. Having declared a caliphate, the scripture requires certain elements that will only increase the killings and destruction.

A lady’s impressions of Hong Kong

Well worth reading this talk about the turn of the 20th century Hong Kong. A quote of relevance to the Lunar New Year:

A respectable Chinaman must begin the New Year free from debt, so that amongst the trades people there is great activity, collecting in their accounts, and discharging their own liabilities. The last day of the year the Chinese streets are lined with stalls, selling goods of all descriptions; and the tradition is that they will make alarming sacrifices in order to draw in the money. But this is a delusion and a snare, as they are quite well aware of the universal love of making a cheap bargain among all nationalities, and so they prepare goods specially; they even make quantities of crockery to appear thousands of years old, with innumerable cracks, and bits chipped off, to beguile the curiosity hunter. The streets are thronged with purchasers; everyone buys a pot of flowers, for it is a good omen amongst the Chinese to have plants in flower at that season, and the flowers said plants are everywhere in gorgeous profusion of blossoms.

FYI This speech was given to the Manchester Geographical Society at Finchwood, Marple, on Saturday, June 30th, 1900, at 6 p.m.


A lady’s impressions of Hong Kong | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong.

Data on terrorism

Very much looking forward to seeing insights coming from a number of projects trying to get a data-driven handle on terrorism around the world. Hopefully this will allow us all to push back on some of the sillier political and media reports.

First off, a definition. Terrorism is:

The threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.

If only we could drop religious from the list: it is a subset of social, after all.

This: yes!

Radicalization suffers from a lack of data,” said Patrick James, a researcher at the center. “And that’s a problem — it’s hard to form an effective response to something if you don’t have an empirical basis for studying it. You can’t distinguish between people who are likely to commit violence and people who aren’t. That’s the real golden goose we’re trying to get.