Blogging again?

frustrated-writer11 My last post in this blog was two years ago. It has been a long time with many things happening in my life, both in the personal and academically sphere. I used to spend lots of time writing the ‘right’ blog post. They used to look like mini simplified academic articles. Yet the process was time-consuming and I also started to have a sort of disillusion about blogging in general. I have to admit that many readers have contacted me and declared that they missed the blog. I am still unsure whether I will start writing again in this blog, mainly because to maintain the blog visible one has to pop-out a least one post a day or one is lost in the ocean of opinions. At the same time, I think that as an academics, I should try not to imprison myself in the Ivory Tower which increasingly has become a solitary confinement of burocracy.

Yet the process was time-consuming and I also started to have a sort of disillusion about blogging in general. I have to admit that many readers have contacted me and declared that they missed the blog. I am still unsure whether I will start writing again in this blog, mainly because to maintain the blog visible one has to pop-out a least one post a day or one is lost in the ocean of opinions. At the same time, I think that as an academics, I should try not to imprison myself in the Ivory Tower which increasingly has become a solitary confinement of bureaucracy.

So here a compromise: I think I will restart my blog but it will be more an opinion blog which sheds even it is last academic skin and the post will be shorter- most of then- and written at impromptus instead with the chisel.
I hope this new version of the blog will find you still interested and that we can restart engaging in dialogues and debates.

Will Australia see the development of paramilitary organisations as a response to terror fears?

I have lived in Northern Ireland (NI) for nearly five years; I conducted research, and despite that I was researching the Muslim community, through some NI friends I had access to that complex society, including the complex paramilitary reality. Indeed, it was so complex that when a friend and I wanted to start a university student’s netzine and selected an acronym as a name for it, we were informed that we had to think of a better name, since those few letters represented a not very well known but still active paramilitary group. The Northern Irish conflict, despite being prominently political, has religious connotations; Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists have fought each other since the UK partitioned the island. This conflict became later known as “The Troubles”.

History is never neutral and recent history even less so, but when I asked about how the NI Loyalist paramilitary groups started, my Protestant informants told me that they started emerging in the 1960s as vigilante groups to protect Protestant neighbourhoods from attacks. They then developed into terrorist organisations opposed to a united Ireland. 

So, you might ask, what has this to do with Australia and the current terrorist threat?   Continue reading

Would Artificial intelligence become strong enough to be a concern? An Anthropologist’s view

Recently there has been some robust progress in AI (Artificial Intelligence), with some scientists even successfully uploading the mind of a roundworm into a Lego robot. Although this seems to be a rather small step,  it is significant since the software was in place without any prior programming and the robot started to behave like a worm, including in its response to food. “I think big leaps have been made in the last few years,” said Geoffrey Hinton, a distinguished researcher at Google and a professor at the University of Toronto. “A.I. is undergoing a growth spurt. We’re beginning to solve problems that a few years ago we couldn’t solve, like recognising images.” Continue reading

Indefinite detention for advocating jihadi violence

The Sydney Morning Herald contacted me for a comment on former judge Anthony Whealy’s suggestion to imprison terrorists and terrorist advocates indefinitely till proven de-radicalised. A short quote from my interview can be read here. Yet I wish to explain my strong objection, as a scholar whom knows well the process of radicalisation within prison, against that advice. Continue reading

Should Muslims Apologise for Muslim Terrorists?

The debate, particularly in Australia, about whether Muslims should apologise or not for the acts of terrorism of some individuals whom are identified or identify themselves as Muslims, is in full spin. Recently a Twitter hashtag was developed where Muslims started to apologise for everything you may imagine. Some, during conversations with me, expressed their strong viewpoints:

Continue reading

Ideology of mixing? Should tolerance be acceptance?

Recently a piece of news from an otherwise internationally unknown college attracted the attention of social media, news, and created a huge twitter and blog response. The object of such (probably unwanted) attention  is the  South Puget Sound Community College where  staff members decided to hold a ‘happy hour’ to ‘build support and community’ for ‘people of color’ (interesting how this terminology is back by the way) as long as the color was not White. The  exclusion of White people provoked the expected reaction of the ‘happy hour’ being canceled and the activity labelled racist in itself. Yet the organisers — after apologies — insisted that their request to exclude Whites originated from a rational and not racist fact: members of an in-group communicate and understand each other better. Continue reading