It’s complicated….


Personal Wikis and Link Autosuggestion

by Limbic on January 26, 2015

I absolutely love wikis and have used them personally and professionally for years.

I was not surprised to learn recently that the US intelligence community uses them extensively 1. As does the UK’s GCHQ 2.

I think I started out with Wikidpad as my personal wiki before it was even open sourced. It was (and is) a phenomenal wiki. Windows native, but Python based so with some effort you can get it running on Linux and OS X too.

When I started using OS X both at work and personally, I moved my Wikidpad notes to nvAlt, another stupendous personal information manager that combined near instantaneous search with the ability to create a note right out of your search and super easy note linking with link autocompletion.

Confluence nvalt

A killer feature for me is the ability to get link suggestions/autocompletions as you type. Just Type [[ and start typing a name and if it exists you get a list of matching linked notes you can select and link to. Confluence, Wikipad, naval and SahrePoint Wiki all have this natively. You can get it in MediaWiki with plugins like LinkSuggest, but it only starts to suggest after the first three letters. This feature is missing from OneNote, although linking via [[ is supported.

Whilst I loved nvAlt for my personal wiki / notebook, I also wanted a public notebook or wiki.

I tended to find myself using one of two wikis for pubic wikis: MediaWiki or Confluence .

I had been using MediaWiki for several projects (e.g. the Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club wiki) and found it a phenomenally powerful platform, especially when you extend it with plugins like Semantic MediaWiki. I also greatly enjoyed Confluence. I used it for many years in a former company, where it was an indispensable tool for us. We used to for all our internal documentation, but also for external facing user documentation.

Confluence is hard to beat on features, especially the much loved link autocompletion feature.  It is a full on Enterprise wiki, but it comes at a price. Unlike MediaWiki, you need a dedicated VM / computer to run it. It is Java based and needs loads of memory to be performant. The license is dirt cheap for individuals and small teams ($10 for 10 users) but as soon as you exceed this you are paying big bucks for the software. You also need to be fairly technically proficient to operate a Confluence instance, but it is very well supported too.

These days I am mostly using OneNote for my notes and personal wiki. It is an absolutely superb piece of software that “just works” on every platform I uses (Windows, OSX, iOS, Windows Phone). I have filed a feature request (internally) with the OneNote team for them  to support link autocompletion. If you like the idea, please vote for it on  the OneNote team’s Uservoice.

I have been tempted to OneNote as a public wiki too. It is trivially easy to share a notebook with the public. The only problem is that the URLs are ugly and the notebook cannot be styled to look unique to you.

If I can find a way to easily shuttle my OneNotes to Confluence, I may have a winner. I can do all my composing in OneNote, then just publish to Confluence 3.

I am already considering doing this for blogging now that OneNote for Windows has a blogging feature now.

If you are looking for some resources to get started with your own wiki, here you go….

  1. “Structured analytic techniques for intelligence analysis by by Richards J. Heuer, Jr., and Randolph H. Pherson (2011)
  2. One of Edward Snowden’s leaks was a copy of the “Internal Wikipedia” used by GCHQ
  3. Plugin writers, I beseech you!


Security militias in Jewish areas of London

by Limbic on January 26, 2015


Shomrim patrol car in London (Daily Mail Online)

I was genuinely surprised to learn that there is a police approved community security militia – Shomrim – that patrols Jewish neighbourhoods of London. The group, a neighbourhood watch group, also has patrols in other English and US cities.

This is grim echo of a nightmarish future, like something from  a Ken McLeod novel like  “The Star Faction” or Neil Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age“,  where communities have to protect themselves in the absence of state security. The sad reality is these Jewish communities really need this self-defence. Just as Israel tends to be the first target of novel forms of terrorism 1, Jewish communities in Europe are harbingers of what the future may look like for any minority community that finds itself targeted by imported bigotry that is not systematically challenged.

Jewish friends here in Copenhagen dare not wear Kippahs or Star of David necklaces for fear of attack. Earlier this month a Jewish journalist wore a Kippah in the souther Swedish city of Malmo (across the bridge from Copenhagen). He was verbally and physically abused by dozens of people.

The documentary (subtitled) is quite extraordinary and terrifying. Shame on Sweden:

More on Shomrim

Justice on London’s streets, the Jewish way – Crime – UK – The Independent

On Patrol with North London’s Crime-Fighting Orthodox Jews | VICE | United Kingdom

Jewish patrol cars shomrim out in London amid fears of copycat Paris attack | Daily Mail Online

Shomrim London (@shomrimlondon) | Twitter

More on Anti-Semitism  in Malmo

In Malmo, Swedish journalist wearing kippah tests attitudes of people towards Jews

Swedish reporter assaulted after wearing kippah to test attitudes toward Jews – Jewish World News – Israel News | Haaretz

The ADL GLOBAL 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism

  1. The recent “silent intifada” where people drive into pedestrians started in Israel before being adopted by French Islamists


Liberating the inner psychopath

by Limbic on January 17, 2015


I was listening to a BBC podcast today on the Islamic State called Bureaucracy and Brutality. In one segment, a former jihadi called Aimen Dean talks about a friend, now an ISIS judge, who delights in handing out sadistic punishments (dismembering, crucifixion, lashings, beheadings) in the ISIS occupied territories (the new Caliphate).

A sense of elitist isolationism. It is that isolationist, elitist mentality which liberates the psychopath within.

There are many people in this world who have that small psychopathic tendency at the back of their mind, but it is guilt and conscience that basically stops them from hurting other people.

However, if you tell someone that “you will be able to behead, to kill, to lash, to burn a village, to do of whatever you like while serving a cause and you will be rewarded for it by God in the afterlife”, it does wonders in terms of liberating the inner psychopath.

And therefore they do not see themselves as part of the world, they see themselves as a part of a new world, a purer world.

ISIS Psychopaths

A perfect description of the standard issue true believer extremist who is blind to the ironies of their extremism. Think of the “anti-racist” who chides us for our hidden biases and lack of tolerance but who vehemently hates the “haters”,  celebrating violence against them and spending all their time posting grossly offensive stereotypes about the supposed “oppressors”.  but it also immediately reminded me of a contemporary scourge:

It also reminds me of what I call the the iTartuffes, those smarmy PC platitude posting faux-moralists who team up with the zealots to form the pitiless digital pitchfork wielding mob bullies of social media. You know the type, they are everywhere. Think of those male “feminists” who say all approved gender neutral things, but who come across as creepy and insincere, looking more to score ladies than defeat the patriarchy.

I am not talking about the “political” friends we all have on Facebook. Those people with earnest if predictably strong positions on world events. Nope, iTartuffes are moral posers: PC, smug and in your face with their finger wagging moralism. They are quick to judge, demand apologies for the slightest offence and almost always fraudulent hypocrites.

here is something faintly disgusting about them, like a waft of BO or flatus. There is a vague but disquieting feeling that the iTartuffe does not believe their own words, because, well, they don’t. We groan when we see their Facebook posts shamelessly repeating the right-on platitude of the day. There is something awkward and forced about their style. They are fronting and we can tell. Since human hate deception and coercion, we end up hating the iTartuffes too. They end up in echo chabers with fellow iTartuffes each striving harder than the next to prove their loyalty and ideological purity.

In isolation the iTartuffe is a nuisance, at worst an irritation but numbers, and led by trie believers, however, these cowards are dangerous, as any mob can be. Their inner psychopath is let off the leash completely. All the conditions of cruelty are there: They are serving their cause which licenses the punishment of ideological enemies, and they will be rewarded with social approval and moral smugness in the new, purer word, purged of the intolerant/the male/the pale skinned/the rich or whatever hated class of oppressor they are targeting.

The psychology of this is well understood, if not widely known. The best description of the psychology is in the Kindle single “Trial by Fury: Internet Savagery and the Amanda Know case”. Here is an excerpt from a Salon article based on the book:

The answer to this human behavior lies, as many such answers do, in evolutionary biology. Experiments show that when some people punish others, the reward part of their brain lights up like a Christmas tree.

It turns out we humans avidly engage in something anthropologists call “altruistic punishment.”

What is altruistic punishment? It is when a person punishes someone who has done nothing against them personally but has violated what they perceive to be the norms of society.

Why “altruistic”? Because the punisher is doing something that benefits society at large, with no immediate personal gain. Altruistic punishment is normally a good thing. Our entire criminal justice system is based on it.

In our evolutionary past, small groups of hunter-gatherers needed enforcers, individuals who took it upon themselves to punish slackers and transgressors to maintain group cohesion.

We evolved this way. As a result, some people are born to be punishers. They are hard-wired for it.

What does all this have to do with Amanda Knox? Almost all the nasty comments about her follow a pattern. Even though she did nothing to them, they are all demanding her punishment. This is altruistic punishment gone haywire, in which the anti-Amanda bloggers have become a cybermob not unlike the witch-hunts of medieval Europe or lynch mobs in the American South.

These mobs form all over the Internet, and not just in the Amanda case, assailing everyone from Anne Hathaway to Katie Roiphe. Everywhere you look on the Internet you find self-appointed punishers at work. Never in human history has a system developed like the Internet, which allows for the free rein of our punishing instincts, conducted with complete anonymity, with no checks or balances, no moderation, and no accountability. On the Internet, our darkest evolutionary biology runs riot.

So what yourselves all you internet vigilantes. You are ISIS of the Occident. You are the useful idiots of fanaticism, bent away from the genuine service of civilised values by your wayward hunter gatherer moral brain.   Don’t the the haters. Don’t even hate ISIS. Don’t even hate the fake feminist and the racist anti-racists. We are ALL coded with bugs in the wetware.

On the Islamic State

Bureaucracy and Brutality [BBC Radio Documentaries]

Rare Islamic State visit reveals ‘brutal and strong’ force [BBC] 

Islamic State: Yazidi women tell of sex-slavery trauma [BBC]

Bullying, Pecking Orders, the psychology of Online Mobs

Fronting – Urban Dictionary 

Bully Psychology: Where Evolution And Morality Collide [Forbes]

Finger-Wagging Moralists Hurting Themselves, Society (1995) [MIT]

The evolution of altruistic punishment [2002] [PNAS]

On Ideology by Kenneth Minogue [First Principles] 

True believers [Wikipedia]

Pecking order / punishing transgressors and cheats by Howard Bloom [Youtube Video]

Two superb books on morality…

Moral Tribes by Joshua Green [Amazon Kindle]

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt [Amazon Kindle]



“Man is ready to die for an idea, provided the idea is not quite clear to him”

- Paul Eldridge


One of the panels from a series by The Oatmeal on “How to Suck at your religion


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Western Civilization

by Limbic on January 8, 2015

Noticed an oddity in  the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof was opining on innocent (non-extremist) Muslim and quoted this:

There’s a humbling story, perhaps apocryphal, that Gandhi was once asked: What do you think of Western civilization? He supposedly responded: I think it would be a good idea.

Isn’t that simple bigotry? Let me illustrate.

There’s a humbling story, perhaps apocryphal, that Ghandi was once asked: What do you think of Islamic civilization? He supposedly responded: I think it would be a good idea.


Mass murder in Paris…

by Limbic on January 7, 2015

..and within minutes the pious ninnies were warning that it is…

important not to rush to false conclusions now. Despite the history of earlier attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
— Wolfgang Blau (@wblau) January 7, 2015

Yes Wolfie, forget the victims, outrage at mass murder and disgust at the assault on free speech, the important thing is not to rush to “false conclusions”.  The real threat is the backlash from the terror, not the terror itself. The real problem is racism on social media not mass murdered cartoonists*. Remember, the worst crimes are thought crimes…


* Of course Wolfgang was not saying all of this, but reactions from Human Rights Watch and others were so predictable I was cringing for them:



Code of Conduct for Foreigners

by Limbic on December 27, 2014

Years ago, when I set up the Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club, I wanted to formulate a Code of Conduct for members of the club, foreigners living in Serbia. I never did, but here is the list I came up with. It is a flawed list, sure, but it has served me well living almost my entire adult life  as an immigrant in multiple countries.

  1. Obey the laws – Obey the laws of the land, even the petty bureaucratic laws
  2. Contribute – Give something back economically, socially and culturally
  3. Be positive- Focus on the positives of your new home
  4. Be loyal – Be as loyal as you can to your host country
  5. Learn the language – Make an effort to learn at least the basics of the language
  6. Learn the history – Learn about the history of the country and its peoples
  7. Be neutral – Try and be as neutral as possible on contentious local matters or conflicts
  8. Try not to judge – Try not to be too judgemental about local negatives. Nowhere is perfect
  9. Show, don’t tell – Do not lecture the locals about how to be, act, think. Teach by example, not complaint
  10. If you hate the place, leave – If you hate the place, do not inflict your misery on others, be brave and leave


Brutal attack kicks off Danish immigration debate

by Limbic on December 27, 2014

Nanna Skovmand - Juleaften

[Preamble: I am an Irish immigrant living in Copenhagen, Denmark]

A Danish woman and her boyfriend were attacked on Christmas even in Vesterbro, Copenhagen (the neighbourhood being promoted in the most cringe worthy tourist video of all time).

According to one of the victims of the attack, Nana Scovmand,  the couple were walking home when a young man described as a second generation Somali immigrant started verbally abusing them. The attacker then hit her boyfriend on the head with a bottle. He was then joined by several more immigrants who beat the couple with bike chains. The girl suffered horrific injuries: a tooth knocked out, several teeth loosened, her lip split up to her nose, severe bruising, cuts all over her head and face. She will have to wear an anti-scar patch for a year.

One hears about these sorts of attacks all the time here in Denmark, both in the media and socially. I have not looked into the official figures, but I hear from speaking to Danes that immigrant gang violence targeting ethnic Danes is a large and growing problem. Many claim it is one of the factors contributing to the explosive growth of the right-wing Danish People’s Party. Somalis in particular are massively overrepresented in the Danish justice system:

“In 2012, people with Somali citizenship were convicted of violations of criminal law almost ten times more often than people with Danish citizenship,  taking into account the relevant population sizes.  For every 1000 Somali nationals ,  114 were convicted of violations of the Penal Code. The same figures for Danish citizens is 13 out 1000, while 54 out of 1000 citizens from other countries were convicted.

From: (own translation)

I have witnessed an incident myself. Several years ago whilst briefly living in a small town in southern Denmark,  I saw an immigrant gang savagely beat two young ethnic Danes. The Danes were outnumbered 10 to 1 but luckily rescued by the police . When I asked some local people about it, they all reported something similar. Here is one comment we heard from an elderly babysitter:

“Oh yes, the gangs come down from [nearby city] looking for trouble. They target a town, arrive in force in a convoy and terrorize the place, beating up locals. The local police are also outnumbered and have to frantically call for backup from neighbouring towns. “

The victim of this Vesterbro attack, Nana Scovmand, posted the pictures of her injuries and a description of the attack on her Facebook page. It is worth a read, even with Bing’s rough translation, it is shocking. She ended the post with this passage (forgive my poor translation):

I sit back with a lot of questions, why? Why us? What is the meaning of this gross violence? What  is going on in the minds of those immigrants when they beat up lovers on their way back from Christmas eve?  I am filled with hatred, frustration and very upset. I do not want them in my neighbourhood, in my town or my country. I would never want this to happen to anyone. Never.

This passage stirred lots of controversy and led several Danish leftists commenting on this post on Facebook  to blame the victims, insinuating that she was probably a Danish People’s Party voter who somehow deserved the beating. She was even accused of being racist for posting the comments above whilst her boyfriend’s “Proud to be Danish” Facebook background was touted as proof of his depravity (by employees at DR, the Danish equivalent of the BBC).

That is absurd. It is a pretty understandable response to being grievously wounded in a possibly racist attack. I also want to know what was going through their minds. I also don’t want people like that in my neighbourhood, town or country. I also would not wish that on anyone.

One example of the leftist response to the story is that of journalist Rune Skyum-Neilsen, who writing on Facebook before the story was confirmed said:

Right now there is a story spreading on Facebook about a young blond Danish woman who was allegedly beaten up by a group of young men of foreign appearance - while she was on her way home from Christmas Eve with her boyfriend, who incidentally flashes a “Proud to be Danish graphics as a backdrop to their profile. Hmmm.

…It does not matter whether the story if true or not. We cannot leave unanswered the deeply racist and highly ignorant Neanderthal comments accompanying the many [Facebook] shares of the story. They are horrible. An echo of a dark time in Europe,  which dozens of generations  should have learned from. What has happened to our humanity? Our urge to point fingers at others and generalize? Our decency?

This is what really sows divisions - not 3 to 4 possible violent psychopaths, who obviously must be held accountable if they exist. We all have a duty to persuade people who write things like below, to reason. At least make the attempt. Otherwise Christmas is no longer blessed. It has become something you can poison - with very simple means and bleak prospects.

According to Rune, we should be less about immigrant gangs knocking out women’s teeth, than the racist comments about the incident on social media.

This is a pretty typical leftist response to minority crime and violence. The crime – even if it may be racist – is not the concern, the racist reaction is the real issue. Another tactic from the leftist playbook is vilification the the victims. The theme is that they must be to blame somehow, they probably deserved it somehow, the attackers must have been provoked. You see examples of this in the comments on Rune’s Facebook post.

Maybe being white and blonde is  “provocation” or being a proud Dane? Hmmm…

Rune and his claque were rounded on by several commentators, sparking a healthy debate. In fairness to Rune and the other people decrying the racist comments, they really are unacceptable and we should confront those who post them. That said, just as Rune was concerned by racist comments on the victim’s post, he should also be concerned by comments on his own post that vilified and blamed the victims.  It is also disgusting to blame the victim, cast aspersions on their character and imply they deserved it. If Nana were a rape victim, leftists would rightly be outraged by any suggestion she provoked her own violation, yet because she is white and her attackers immigrants, the some leftists did exactly that.

Rune is welcome to be more concerned by racist Facebook comments than violent, possibly racist,  street attacks but the rapid rise of the Danish People’s Party tells me he may be representing a minority opinion on this one. From what I can see here in Copenhagen,  we have a growing problem of racist violence against ethnic Danes committed by immigrants and that should be a major concern for all of us, as should any racist backlash this violence may cause.

As we have seen in almost every country where there is ethnic and racial conflict, interracial crime is a major aggravator of racism and ethnic tension. As we learned from the disgraceful child sex grooming scandal in the UK , trying to cover it up and “spin” it makes it worse. It makes the right-wing parties look like truth-sayers and the political establishment look like liars covering up the failures of multiculturalism and mass immigration.

So go ahead and challenge racism on Facebook and the streets, but challenge all racism, including minority racism, especially where it is leading to brutal attacks like that on Nana Scovmand and her boyfriend.

See also: