Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Short observations 3

A wonderful takedown  (via) of Love, Actually (by someone who enjoys the film). The suggestion that the characters are all emotional 15 year olds may also have some merit.

***

On the Kindle-highlights measure, Thomas Piketty's tome on inequality, Capital in the C21stlooks like outdoing Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time as the great unread book of our time.

***

Factory farming has expanded its possibilities as the Japanese create a lettuce factory (via). Energy, rather than land, is the constraint in such food production.

***

Nice post on the effect of the 1997 Asian crisis on housing price booms in the US. Given that land rationing restricted supply responses in many housing markets, and rising price for a class of asset is a signal for an asset to be a good investment, the point that capital was sucked in to housing rather than more productive investments has even more force.

***

The US is the dominant global military power, but seems to be rather better at making friends than China, or Russia, especially in Asia. According to this consideration of recent Pew global survey (pdf) data, folk in India, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Bangladesh all see the US as an ally, and someone else as a threat. (Except Indonesians, who see the US as both.) It is probably not accidental that the Pakistan and Malaysia, where opinion sees the US as a threat, are both Muslim countries, or that Muslim Indonesia is mixed in views of the US.

***

The fuss over the US Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision (pdf), which Alan Dershowitz dismissed as (legally) "monumentally insignificant", is nicely dissected here, based on Megan McArdle's rather longer post.  Folk who do not get that religion matters are probably not the sort of folk who are going to understand the Middle East.

***

An apparent attempt to unilaterally impose an aspect of Sharia in Philadelphia.

***

Michael J Totten provides an excellent survey of the Arab Spring (aka "the Sunni Surge") and how and why each country was different--in happenings and outcomes.

***

Anti-prostitute "activists" slaughter 30 people, including 28 women, in an up-market area of Baghdad (via). The conjunction of religion and homicide for patrilineally controlled fertility.

***

ISIS split off from al-Qaeda before its current surge into Iraq. That the jihadists have split is not necessarily good news: it may just mean accelerated competitive evolution to being more dangerous.

***

ISIS is offering Christians the traditional Islamic choice--convert, pay extra tax or die. In the words of their announcement:
We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.
*** 

ISIS is using the prospect of killing Jews as a recruitment tool (via). Jew-hatred in the contemporary Middle East has much the same roots as Jew-hatred in C19th and C20th Europe--scapegoating angst over modernity built on traditional religious prejudice. So, there is real, if grim, symmetry in hoping for a new Holocaust. Even if Jews have mostly fled from Middle Eastern Muslim countries.

***

Perhaps Greater Israel is the new reality. Arafat's failure to agree, or even make a serious counter-offer, at the 2000 Camp David summit looks like even more of a disaster for Palestinians than it did at the time. But, in a way, the failure of Ehud Barak's offer may also have been something of a moral disaster for Israel.

2 comments:

  1. Teeth Night Guard is offering precise fitting and high quality custom made dental guards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Teeth Night Guard is offering precise fitting and highest quality custom made teeth protectors.

    ReplyDelete