Things to click (and read)

Sometimes I need to clear the thirty tabs I have open in my browser and I can’t be bothered posting them separately. This is one of those times, and it reflects on me, not on the content of these links that you should read.

There’s a rumour that floats around the Internet every now and then that Facebook is responsible for one in five divorces these days as people rediscover old flames. This rumour is just that. A rumour. The Wall Street Journal kills it.

“The 1-in-5 number originated with an executive at an online divorce-service provider in the U.K. Mark Keenan, managing director of Divorce-Online, which allows Britons to file uncontested divorces at low cost, had just launched the company’s Facebook page and wondered what role Facebook has in precipitating divorces. After determining that the word “Facebook” appeared in 989 of the company’s 5,000 or so most recent divorce petitions, he had Divorce-Online issue a news release in December 2009 stating “Facebook is bad for your marriage.”

Mr. Keenan acknowledges that his company’s clients aren’t necessarily representative of all divorces, and he adds that his firm never claimed that Facebook actually causes 20% of divorces. “It was a very unscientific survey,” Mr. Keenan says.

Elsewhere, Clayboy (a newie for me) has two must read posts about the new atheists – the first about the conformity of “free thinker” thinking, as demonstrated by a magazine called The Freethinker, the second about whether Christians can value atheism.

“I might even ponder whether the award for secularist of the year (apparently a “prestigious” one – who knew?) reflects this. The winner is not Salman Taseer, the nominee who was assassinated for opposing the Pakistan blasphemy laws mainly aimed at Christians, but Dutch Euro MP Sophie in ’t Veld who, er …, bravely organised a protest against the Pope.

I am somewhat underwhelmed in my admiration for such a courageous achievement advancing the cause of rational civilisation.”

Slate says the lack of looting in Japan is down to the Yakuza. Which is pretty cool.

“Organized crime. Police aren’t the only ones on patrol since the earthquake hit. Members of the Yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicate, have also been enforcing order. All three major crime groups—the Yamaguchi-gumi, the Sumiyoshi-kai, and the Inagawa-kai—have “compiled squads to patrol the streets of their turf and keep an eye out to make sure looting and robbery doesn’t occur,” writes Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, in an e-mail message. “The Sumiyoshi-kai claims to have shipped over 40 tons of [humanitarian aid] supplies nationwide and I believe that’s a conservative estimate.” One group has even opened its Tokyo offices to displaced Japanese and foreigners who were stranded after the first tremors disabled public transportation. “As one Sumiyoshi-kai boss put it to me over the phone,” says Adelstein, ” ‘In times of crisis, there are not Yakuza and civilians or foreigners. There are only human beings and we should help each other.’ ” Even during times of peace, the Yakuza enforce order, says Adelstein. They make their money off extortion, prostitution, and drug trafficking. But they consider theft grounds for expulsion.”

Elsewhere, I’ve been taking part in an increasingly lengthy discussion about gay marriage on the solapanel.

Five Senses Coffee offers a great diagnosis guide for figuring out what is wrong with your espresso. Well worth a read if you think your coffee could be better.

First Things has a good list for engaging with people in the online world. Especially for responding to people you don’t know who disagree with you.

“The manner of your answer will affect your inquirer more than its content. You are often, as far as you can tell, trying only to encourage him to hear the answer, to open a crack in his defenses that might over time open into a door. Hope and pray that you are only one—perhaps the first, but perhaps not—in a series of encounters that will bring him to see the truth. You do not need to win the argument to change his life.”

You should be reading Things Findo Thinks – I haven’t linked to it for a while, but Findo seems much more interested in engaging the nu-atheists than I presently am, so if you want your fix of fallacy busting, head there. Try this post about arguments from authority on for size. It’ll help you avoid bad arguments about your arguments.

It’s iPad 2 week this week. And luckily my wife is going to let me buy one. Unlike this guy in the states, who allegedly had to return his iPad because his wife said no. At least that was the reason he gave on the post-it note that went to the store, that was passed on to Apple Corporate, who may or may not have sent back the iPad with a note reading “Apple says yes”… brilliant if true.