Daily Trawl

Fair range of intersting things this morning.

1. Paul Krugman on the hysteria of austerity.
In this case the study is Italy / Eurozone but he also links to several of the important resources on IMF, multipliers, central bank strategies and so on.

2. On the Tuareg problem?
Bridges from Bamako is an excellent project by anthropologist Bruce Whitehouse. I’ve travelled in Mali and I find him wonderful to read, and very acute; he’s also been covering the Tuareg troubles in the north, the coup d’etat and the AQIM incursion in Mali for a lot longer than the English-language press has. Good read.

3. British public order law gets slightly less dumb?
Steve Hynd at LeftFootForward has more on clarifying the language.

4. bOINGbOING fighting the good fight.
In this case, on copyright, open access and publicly funded knowledge. I’m a composing musician and a fiction writer, among other things, and I respected Aaron Swartz. This stuff is important.

5. And religion on the Daily Dish.

And a disagrement, from me. Sullivan presents an interesting graph which purports to show, among other things, that Muslims really have much less pre-marital sex. There are two responses, here: firstly, the study in question actually talks about self-reporting of pre-marital sex. I think the interpretation by Kevin Hartnett, which Sullivan quotes, fails to account for something. Women who live in religio-political states which will literally torture and kill you for fucking are very likely to have much lower reporting rates of pre-marital sex than women who live in secular, Buddhist or Hindu states, regardless of how much actual sex is being had. Further examination of the data does indicate a correlation between the dominance / extremism of local Islam and reporting rates; that could be taken to mean that more devout Muslims have less illicit sex, or it could equally reflect honesty of self-reporting being affected by the liklihood of grievous bodily harm.

And secondly, though still within Hartnett’s quote, there’s this:

While the researchers offer explanations for Muslim chastity, they have less to say about why Buddhists—perhaps surprisingly—rank highest in premarital sex. They offer that it could be because Buddhism is not monotheistic and has fewer “strict rules about specific behaviors.” But of course Hinduism is not monotheistic, either, and indeed, the field seems open for a follow-up paper on the religious dimensions of allowance.

While I think he’s right that this deserves considerably greater study, I still think that a chunk of the difference here is going to be about religious attitudes to sexual reporting as much as to attitudes to actually having sex. Buddhism and Hinduism both pretty much completely lack the Western/JCI idea that talking about sex is as bad or worse than having it; and each teaches personal responsibility and ethics on a very different foundation than JCI traditions. Buddhists are not taught that sex is shameful, or that talking about a shameful act is itself shameful; in our somewhat Puritanical society, Westerners are taught both.


February 2013
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Per Argument Ad Astra

Politics, history, economics and rampant speculation from a victim of the Great Recession, currently at large in the West Midlands.

"When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters."
                -- Adam Smith


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