Our main result is that an increase in per-capita Muslim expenditures generates a large and significant increase in future religious conflict. An increase in Hindu expenditures has negative or no effect.
The cow’s status as a sacred being in Hinduism is increasingly being threatened as more wealthy Indians, even Hindus, are turning carnivorous, as Gardiner Harris of The New York Times recently reported. Meanwhile, the increasing demand for beef is driving gangs to steal cows that are wandering around Delhi so that the animals can be sold to slaughterhouses.
Still, cows have plenty of protectors in India, and even beyond its borders. Thousands of miles away, Indian citizens living in the United States regularly send money to cow shelters in India like Mataji Gaushala, located in Barsana, near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
Mataji Gaushala is one of the biggest cow shelters in northern India, spread over 42 acres. It houses 20,000 cows, most of them old and no longer providing milk. Brijinder Sharma, manager of Mataji Gaushala, said the shelter’s objective is to let the animals live a natural life and die from natural causes.
Subhash Puri, 69, a civil engineer who retired from the American government in 2011, lives in Laurel, Maryland, but sends money, after collecting it from other Indian patrons, and visits Mataji Gaushala often, spending four to six months out of the year.
“The cow is our mother,” he said. “It is our duty to give them a dignified life. We try to save them from the slaughterhouses.”
Mr. Puri said Indians in the United States who support the shelter include doctors, engineers and IT professionals. “They give new ideas to run the place,” he said.
Aristotle thought that usury and sodomy were related because in both cases there was attempted reproduction in an unnatural way. (Yeah, I don’t get it either. The argument would have been better as an argument against cloning. No matter, the argument was influential).
In a very good piece, Jeet Heer contrasts the ancients with Adam Smith and the liberal, free market tradition:
Aristotle’s linkage of non-procreative sex with usury profoundly influenced Christian thinkers. Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa Theologica codified the fusion of Aristotle with Christianity, argued that sodomy and usury were both “sins against nature, in which the very order of nature is violated, an injury done to God himself, who sets nature in order.” Echoing Aquinas, Dante placed sodomites and usurers in the same circle of Hell in the Divine Comedy. In his 1935 tract “Social Credit,” Ezra Pound, whose obsession with crackpot economics took him down many historical byways, argued that “usury and sodomy, the Church condemned as a pair, to one hell, the same for one reason, namely that they are both against natural increase.”
There is a flipside to this tradition of seeing sodomy as the enemy of the natural economy of the household: The counter-tradition of liberal economics founded by Adam Smith challenged the household model by seeing economics as rooted in the free trade of goods between households and nations. Precisely because Smith was more receptive to previously condemned or taboo economic activities like trade and manufacturing, he was also more open to sexual liberalism.
Smith’s friend Alexander Dalrymple is now thought to have written an anonymous tract, Thoughts of an Old Man (1800), recalling that the founder of modern economics believed that “sodomy was a thing in itself indifferent”—a radical thing to say even in private at a time when sodomy was a capital offence, condemned by church and state.
…Smith’s new and somewhat inchoate ideas were pushed further by Bentham, who in an unpublished essay observed that sodomy “produces no pain in anyone” but “on the contrary it produces pleasure.”
…It’s no accident that in 1787 Bentham wrote a “Defence of Usury,” which tried to convince Adam Smith to take a more benevolent view of the hitherto morally sanctioned economic activity. On the subject of both usury and sodomy, Bentham’s inclination was to take Smith’s liberal impulses to their logical end. Bentham was in favour of consensual adult acts (be they sexual or economic) that led to greater happiness, whether they violated pre-existing taboos or not.
Hat tip: The Browser.
It is one of the most visually spectacular movies I have seen. The first half is a very good movie in its own right. The second half is mostly narcissistic trash, only periodically compelling, in which Cruise also rewrites the story of his break-up with Nicole Kidman, in what seems to me an unseemly manner.
Most of all, it is a Straussian commentary on Scientology (and Kidman), you can start your research here. I am stunned but not surprised that very few reviews have picked on this angle at all (so far it seems that none have and even Quora fell down on the job). Without such knowledge, the movie makes no sense whatsoever. With such knowledge, the movie is entirely coherent but in some regards more objectionable.
There are also some nice references to other Cruise movies, such as Top Gun and Eyes Wide Shut, not to mention some of the non-Cruise classics of science fiction cinema, including Star Wars and 2001 and Solaris.
I am very glad I saw this movie, but your mileage may vary. The Wikipedia entry is here.
Bitcoin is now 44 percent off its intraday high of $266.
But that’s part of the point, isn’t it? (Have we ever posted on the two envelopes problem? I think so but I can’t find it through search.) Imagine you hold a currency which, over the next period will either double or halve in value. The expected return of such a Bitcoin is in fact (0.5 x .5) + (0.5 x 2) = 1.25.
What a good deal that is! Holding a single Bitcoin — a very volatile Bitcoin that is — seems like a lot of fun. It’s unlikely that simple risk aversion will take away the expected gain there.
Does this not mean that exchange rate variability is desirable per se, a kind of automatic utility machine? The party holding the other currency reaps a comparable gain from the ex ante volatility.
Fischer Black was obsessed with this problem for a few years, though I don’t think he ever quite nailed it. The mathematics behind Jensen’s Inequality are relevant here, but again that’s not the same as an explanation of the puzzle. My preferred path is to start with the Sumnerian “never reason from a price change” insight, but in any case this is a good brain teaser for your evening.
The University [of Chicago] turns a former seminary into a new home for economics.
…When the refurbished building reopens in 2014, the economics department and Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics will have a spectacular space. Planned upgrades include a cloister café, LEED certification, high-tech classrooms in old library and chapel areas, and more.
Some of you will know that the Fairfax offices of Alex and me are in the space of a former church (scroll down to 1960)…
Here is more information and an interview with the architect. For the pointer I thank Mike Tamada.
I receive many emails asking me what is my attitude toward guns and gun control. I would say I wish it worked better than it does (a key point), I don’t think it works very well, I am happy to make those changes which seem to work somewhat, but overall I see an America with lots of guns and a falling crime and murder rate, so let’s focus on what is working, whatever that may be.
I would be happier if advocates of stronger gun control would state up front what percentage of the variation in the murder rate they thought they would be controlling. I see them as likely to make some dent in the suicide rate, most of all.
I would gladly see a cultural shift toward the view that gun ownership is dangerous and undesirable, much as the cultural attitudes toward smoking have shifted since the 1960s.
I am, however, consistent. I also think we should have a cultural shift toward the view that alcohol — and yes I mean all alcohol — is at least as dangerous and undesirable. I favor a kind of voluntary prohibition on alcohol. It is obvious to me that alcohol is one of the great social evils and when I read the writings of the prohibitionists, while I don’t agree with their legal remedies, their arguments make sense to me. It remains one of the great undervalued social movements. For mostly cultural reasons, it is now a largely forgotten remnant of progressivism and it probably will stay that way, given that “the educated left” mostly joined with America’s shift to being “a wine nation” in the 1970s.
Guns, like alcohol, have many legitimate uses, and they are enjoyed by many people in a responsible manner. In both cases, there is an elite which has absolutely no problems handling the institution in question, but still there is the question of whether the nation really can have such bifurcated social norms, namely one set of standards for the elite and another set for everybody else.
In part our guns problem is an alcohol problem. According to Mark Kleiman, half the people in prison were drinking when they did whatever they did. (Admittedly the direction of causality is murky but theory points in some rather obvious directions.) Our car crash problem – which kills many thousands of Americans each year — is also in significant part an alcohol problem. There are connections between alcohol and wife-beating and numerous other social ills, including health issues of course.
It worries me when people focus on “guns” and do not accord an equivalent or indeed greater status to “alcohol” as a social problem. Many of those people drink lots of alcohol, and would not hesitate to do so in front of their children, although they might regard owning an AK-47, or showing a pistol to the kids, as repugnant. I believe they are a mix of hypocritical and unaware, even though many of these same individuals have very high IQs and are well schooled in the social sciences. Perhaps they do not want to see the parallels.
The people who get this right — it seems to me — are the Mormons. Compassion, most of all for the poor, means that we should raise the social status of Mormons on this issue.
I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
What is the scholar, what is the man for, but for hospitality to every new thought of his time? Have you leisure, power, property, friends? you shall be the asylum and patron of every new thought, every unproven opinion, every untried project, which proceeds out of good will and honest seeking. All the newspapers, all the tongues of to-day will of course at first defame what is noble; but you who hold not of to-day, not of the times, but of the Everlasting, are to stand for it: and the highest compliment, man ever receives from heaven, is the sending to him its disguised and discredited angels.
That is from Introductory Lecture on the Times.
So asks Devon P, who adds:
Seems like too drastic of a change in 27 years to believe.
“According to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, in 1984, nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to weekly Mass. In 2011, only 18 percent did.”
The link is here.
Here is a web site that sells them, from Berlin I might add. As Mark Thorson summarizes it:
Packages took an average of 3 more days to arrive and were 10 times more likely to disappear when wrapped with atheist-branded tape vs. plain packaging.
I do not know what kind of double check these numbers have been subject to, or not.
Remember how Mr. Miyagi taught The Karate Kid how to fight? Wax on/Wax off. Paint the fence. Don’t forget to breathe. A coach is the coach because he knows what the student needs to do to advance. A big problem for coaches is that the most precocious students also (naturally) think they know what they need to learn.
If Mr. Miyagi told Daniel that he needed endless repetition of certain specific hand movements to learn karate, Daniel would have rebelled and demanded to learn more and advance more quickly. Mr. Miyagi used ambiguity to evade conflict.
An artist with natural gift for expression needs to learn convention. But she may disagree with the teacher about how much time should be spent learning convention. If the teacher simply gives her exercises to do without explanation her decision to comply will be on the basis of an overall judgment of whether this teacher, on average, knows best. To instead say “You must learn conventions, here are some exercises for that” runs the risk that the student moderates the exercises in line with her own judgment about the importance of convention.
And then, the pope quit. The pope! He left. He walked out on it all. I watched him fly away from Rome and I thought, “That’s it.” In the few moments of his flight, I left too. I decided I could no longer be a part of this church. It was over.
I realized I didn’t want this decision to be about leaving, but joining. I knew immediately I wanted to convert and become an Episcopalian. Why? If I were to trace this decision back, it would be to a summer I spent in Maine 11 years ago. Our closest church was Episcopalian, so I went there on Sundays. The vicar was a woman. Her sermons were eloquent, moving, compassionate and connected to the modern world. She spoke like my nuns.
There is more at the link.
Here is an older 2004 paper from J.T. Toman (pdf):
In modern times, the College of Cardinals have been locked in the Sistine Chapel with the purported aim to divine the Will of God in the election of the Pope. Between 20 and 60 percent of cardinals vote for the same candidate throughout the conclave, depending on the length of the conclave. For those cardinals that change their voting behavior, they are influenced by both the vote counts and the nightly conversations. However, in unifying the cardinals to one winner the dominant force is the observed vote counts.
For the pointer I thank Adriano.
Everyone should have a long book on their Kindle that they otherwise would never read. Then, when you don’t feel like starting a whole new book on your Kindle, you dig into a small piece of your long book. And stop. As the years pass, you may eventually finish your long book (or not).
The long book on my Kindle is John Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion. It’s impressive. I don’t agree with Calvin, either theologically or temperamentally, but he is an extremely sharp thinker and writer, too often neglected for his extreme “Calvinism.”
After three years, I’m about eighteen percent finished. And someday I hope to read more works by Calvin, although not someday anytime soon.
What is the long book on your Kindle?
Addendum: Kevin Drum comments.