Archive for November 1st, 2009

What do the mosques make of Hallow’een?

November 1, 2009

Last night in West Hampstead a notable minority of the children “trick or treating” were Asians. The older ones (some of whom I recognised as being related to some of the local Islamic families) were running around on their own, without parental supervision and generally getting into the spirit of things.

I’m not convinced that revelling in Satanic regalia (most of them held plastic tridents and wore demonic make up) to celebrate a pagan festival is quite the sort of assimilation that moderate Islamic scholars have in mind.

And I’m pretty sure their more religiously observant parents would not have been amused.

Ironically, the reason Hallow’een took off in France (despite its supposedly American roots [French people only heard of it via the movies]) was that the day after Hallow’een is All Hallows Day, a Catholic holiday. This means that everyone has the day off so a drunken pagan bacchanalia the night before is not tempered by the need to go to work the next day. A perfect instance of unintended consequences, one might imagine.

Thoughts on Twitter and Facebook

November 1, 2009

I’ve done a podcast with Brian Micklethwait about Facebook and Twitter for people who may not have worked them out yet (I know…).

Two thoughts I didn’t develop fully in the talk [link]:

1) Twitter is where the news is at and is the vehicle for creating newsworthy events. Two examples, the plane crashlanding in New York harbour and the Iranian protests over the recent election.

2) I don’t understand *how* these people used Facebook to link up. It doesn’t strike me that random paedophiles would set up a contact group on Facebook (What would it be called? How would members know who was a police informant and who wasn’t? Surely such a group would get spotted rather quickly I hope and its members investigated promptly?). I’m assuming that some other network is where such people first communicate and they then use the strong privacy settings on Facebook to exchange communications.

My point is that I can imagine how criminals might use Facebook to plan and coordinate criminal activities, but not how they would make initial contact. This matters because if I advise a parent that Facebook is broadly safe (and the whole point about the networks of friends and status updates is that a trail exists of where they are and what they’re doing, with whom), then it would be good to know what the real threats are and to expose them.

However, this was a tangent from the discussion so it was right of Brian to get us back on track with how ideas and news are spread through social media.


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