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Category Archives: Society

ISIS, ibn Khaldun and patterns in history

One of the benefits of reading Ira Lapidus’s A History of Islamic Societies (which I review here and here) is understanding how much Islamic history shows recurring patterns. For example, how conflict between modernisers (we should learn from others), traditionalists (we should practice the religion as it is handed down to us) and reformists (we need to recover the purity of original Islam) is a […]

Equalising consumption => lowering vulnerability

A comment on a previous post expresses a common set of views among conservatives: Darwin has the final word on sillyness. If same sex marriage was a useful thing in society, then the vast range of human societies would show us a successful society with same sex marriage as normal. This confuses natural selection with social selection, […]

Modernity struggles: how priests and clerics are unreliable moral guides

Priests and clerics tend to be unreliable moral guides, because their interests are served by complexity and differentiation. Which is not to deny that, for example, Christianity has been a major factor in the distinctive achievement of Western civilisation. The ambivalent civilisation The late Kenneth Minogue argued that (via) the Enlightenment saw a shift among Western intellectuals from belief that […]

Migration, history and countries as club goods

This is based on comments I made here and here. Thin conceptions There is a line of argument which holds that if free trade in goods and services is good for economies, if free trade in capital is good for economies, then surely free trade in labour would also be good for economies. So, just as one should […]

Banking privilege as social bargaining: a nice case study

Have been reading Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit by Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber. It is an excellent, and highly readable, history of banking: slides from a presentation explaining the basic thesis of the book are here (pdf). The information in the book also explains a puzzle of economic history. Technologically, the key […]

First they came for the pagans and the queers

The upside of Mozilla’s purging of Brendan Eich is various folk are getting the point that penalising opinion and purging workplaces is so not a good idea. The downside is a lot of folk just don’t get the bigger issue. This piece, for example, First They Came For The Mormons, exemplifies the common notion that “this” started with […]

Ad inclusion

Honey Maid put out an ad about wholesome families: This created some fuss. So, they brought out a response ad: Here is a family talking about itself: And here is another: Providing some good commercial feels.

The shipping news

The IT explosion has led to a dramatic increase in the casual use of TLA’s (three letter acronyms) and neologisms.  One of which is “shipping” — postulating a relationship between two fictional characters (typically from a TV series) which is not an explicit part of the story. A lot of fanfic (fiction written by fans) is […]

The distance of the recent past

Recently. I went on a bit of a Criminal Minds (2005- ) binge, watching the first 7 seasons. Still looking for some more profiling action, I then re-watched The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The film holds up well. But what struck me, re-watching it, was how primitive the technology seemed. In Criminal Minds, it is all […]

Non-Believer Nation

Freedom of belief doesn’t appear to be important to Fox News host Dana Perino, who suggested that if atheists don’t like having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, well, “they don’t have to live here.” Massachusetts’ highest court is currently hearing a case against the Pledge brought by atheist parents, who feel that due […]