Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Odd "news"

Anyone know more?
Wild story about busting of Emirati spy ring trying to incorporate Oman into UAE making the rounds.. crazy stuff! (Ar)
The link goes to an Arabic language website, nahrainnet.net. Google translates the headline this way:
Gulf sources: spy network Alamartyp part of the Israeli project to include the Sultanate of Oman to the UAE, the stage of post-Sultan Qaboos
In the original:
مصادر خليجية : شبكة التجسس الامارتية جزء من مشروع اسرائيلي لضم سلطنة عمان الى دولة الامارات مابعد مرحلة قابوس
In other news, Roger Cohen opines about The Captive Arab Mind. Of course, a lot of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, too.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Overlapping generations model breaks down

In the overlapping generations model, the young take care of the old, and in return they will receive the same treatment when they turn old. But happens if there is a last generation? Especially one that results from the creation of an exit option?

At the Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham, three of the younger nuns in this Church of England order have announced plans to take up the Pope's invitation to switch to the Catholic Church:
Relations had become strained in the convent following the decision by the younger sisters to join the Ordinariate – the structure set up by Pope Benedict XVI to welcome disillusioned Anglicans into the Catholic fold. The older nuns were upset by their announcement, which they felt divided the house and left them facing the task of running the community on their own.
"The atmosphere in the house was appalling," says one insider. "They saw it as a desertion and felt the younger nuns were using the house as a hostel until they left.

"It's not surprising they were upset as the expectation is that the younger ones should look after the older nuns because running the house and changing the beds are hardly jobs for women in their 80s."
Read it all in The Telegraph.

The community, which numbered seven nuns belonging to the Society of St Margaret, reportedly voted four to three against joining the ordinariate. The three nuns who left the community are its youngest members.
Not mentioned is the possibility that the older members are subject to some sort of lock-in effect. Who would take care of them if they changed horses at this point in their lives? Another factor: the creation of the ordinariate undercut the belief that another generation of nuns would come along. Finally, the Church of England has made it clear it owns parish property. Presumably the same is true of the property in this case.

Excess of tolerance: The culture that is Abu Dhabi

The Slatest:
A hotel in the United Arab Emirates is wondering whether its pimped-out tree, dripping with $11 million dollars of gold and gems, was a step too far, reports the Guardian. The hotel, the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, has certainly made a show of moderation in the past. Guests, for example, can visit the Palace's gold bar vending machine and book a $1mil week-long tour of the Middle East via jet plane. The hotel apologized for the tree, saying it regretted "attempts to overload" the fake fir tree with gold, rubies, and diamonds and that it was the hotel jeweler's fault. The statement also said the tree was simply there to bring holiday cheer to guests and celebrate the United Arab Emirates' "values of openness and tolerance."
Read more in The Guardian.

The official press release states,
Emirates Palace Hotel has denied press reports claiming its ownership of the jewels decorating the Christmas tree which was erected in the lobby of the hotel in celebration of Christmas and the new year.

The jewels on the said tree, which is part of an annual tradition followed by most hotels in the UAE and the rest of the world, are the sole ownership of Style Gallery who has paid all the costs of making and decorating the tree. The jewels will be recovered by their owner at the end of celebrations, according to a statement by the hotel.

"The hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the tree", the hotel said.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Irony Alert

Boulder, Colorado:
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle will allow a Muslim woman to wear her head-covering in a jail booking photo, provided she push the scarf back far enough to expose her hairline and ears.
Hardman, 19, of Boulder, objected earlier this month to the Boulder County Jail's policy that she remove the hijab for a mug shot as part of a two-day work crew sentence she received for driving her scooter while under the influence of alcohol last August. She cited Islamic law forbidding the removal of a woman's veil in public.

Read more.

In other news, she is a convert to Islam. Whether she is an apostate from Christianity is not known.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In fairness, this speaks for itself


Sunday, December 12, 2010

e-readers: brown paper bag for romance novels

We know the market for romance novels is huge. But do you ever see anyone reading them in public? The New York Times explains why e-readers have given romance novels an expanded market:
Sarah Wendell, blogger and co-author of “Beyond Heaving Bosoms,” is passionate about romance novels.

Except for the covers, with their images of sinewy limbs, flowing, Fabio-esque locks or, as she put it, “the mullets and the man chests.”
“It’s easier to check out some naughty little title online than in a brick-and-mortar store where your pastor could step up in line behind you,” said Barb Perfetti, the chief financial officer of All Romance. “We’ve had lots of customers write to us and say, ‘Now I don’t always have to show my husband what I’m reading.’
So where does this place the signaling value of carrying a copy of a brainy book? What do I infer about you? There were always two possible interpretations. That you were an intellectual or that you a pompous ass carrying it merely for effect.


Wikileaks: Saudi youth admire American values

Influenced by American values like living with Jennifer Aniston in great New York City apartments with no apparent need to work, a US diplomatic cable says Saudi youth are less likely to participate in jihad.

The Guardian:
Satellite broadcasts of the US TV shows Desperate Housewives and Late Show With David Letterman are doing more to persuade Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars of US government propaganda, informants have told the American embassy in Jeddah.

Broadcast uncensored and with Arabic subtitles alongside sitcoms such as Friends on Saudi Arabia's MBC 4 channel, the shows are being allowed as part of the kingdom's "war of ideas" against extremist elements. According to a secret cable titled "David Letterman: Agent of Influence", they have been proving more effective than Washington's main propaganda tool, the US-funded al-Hurra TV news channel.
Read it all.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Legalizing polygamy

What if polygamy were legalized in a country say like Canada? What would be the result?

Polygamy is close to universally frowned upon in western countries like Canada. But not so long ago homosexuality was as well. And there is what some have called serial monogamy in the west (the great increase in divorce rates), and the liberalization of heterosexual relationships outside of marriage, or even long term relationships. It's conceivable, then that polygamy would become mainstream and operate in an open society where individuals have freedom to make their own choices.

Alternatively, what if polygamy only finds a niche where it already lives? Even though it's illegal polygamy is practiced in Canada, and the U.S. It crops up in cults and is given a religious imprimatur. And it's always polygynous marriages, one man with several wives. These are societies that close themselves off from the world and construct codes and practices that perpetuate polygyny. Like teenage boys being exiled from the community. Child brides. Denying girls an education that would make leaving more attractive. Parents, particularly fathers, determining who their daughters will marry. A system of institutions, values, brainwashing and beliefs is created to keep women in check. Add to this that men are physically stronger. It's curious of course that women in these cult societies very often defend them. I won't pretend to understand that, but we do know that many of us have a tendency to defend what we have lived especially if we have been taught that there is evil outside your community and your community is under siege. And of course by their very nature kinship ties reach across these communities.

Other things being equal women interested in monogamy gain from polygyny because it gives them greater bargaining power -- if a man can take several wives, unmarried men be competing over fewer women, and give them a better deal in life. But other things are not equal. If polygamy were to be legalized there no reason to believe that in the open society polygyny would be greater than polyandry. At the same time we can expect to see a growth in closed societies were polygyny that subjugates women is practiced.

This post was inspired by a recent article in the Globe & Mail:
a professor testified Tuesday at a landmark court case examining Canada’s ban on multiple marriages.

Shoshana Grossbard, an expert in the economics of marriage from San Diego State University, said allowing men to have multiple wives inevitably leads to a reduced supply of women, increasing demand.

But rather than making women more valuable in such communities, she said, that scarcity encourages men in polygamous societies to exert control over them to ensure they have access to the limited supply.
Addendum. The Vancouver Sun has more on Grossbard's testimony:
Economist Shoshana Grossbard admits she was naive when she did her doctoral thesis on polygamy more than 30 years ago at the University of Chicago. Then, she believed that a simple supply-and-demand analysis would explain the economics of polygamous societies. Besides, she says, "I thought it was cool to say that polygamy might be advantageous to women and repeat what Gary Becker (her thesis adviser and Nobel laureate) has said."
Grossbard can't prove it. But the economist says it only makes sense that wealthy, well-educated polygamists might prefer living in Canada to Nigeria or even South Africa - where the president himself has five wives.

And if there is an influx due to immigration or an increase due to inclination, Grossbard is certain there will be pressure to accept the kinds of cultural practices and institutions she has observed in other polygynous societies.
Additional practices associated with polygyny are also discussed in the article.

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Adhl: a form of slavery

Year after year, the 42-year-old Saudi surgeon remains single, against her will. Her father keeps turning down marriage proposals, and her hefty salary keeps going directly to his bank account.

The surgeon in the holy city of Medina knows her father, also her male guardian, is violating Islamic law by forcibly keeping her single, a practice known as "adhl." So she has sued him in court, with questionable success.

Adhl cases reflect the many challenges facing single women in Saudi Arabia. But what has changed is that more women are now coming forward with their cases to the media and the law. Dozens of women have challenged their guardians in court over adhl, and one has even set up a Facebook group for victims of the practice.

The backlash comes as Saudi Arabia has just secured a seat on the governing board of the new United Nations Women's Rights Council — a move many activists have decried because of the desert kingdom's poor record on treatment of women. Saudi feminist Wajeha al-Hawaidar describes male guardianship as "a form of slavery."
I've recently been looking over US census reports from the 1800s. The census included slaves (why count them: because they counted as 3/5 of a white man for the purposes of apportioning representation in the US House of Representatives). In those records slaves are counted as part of the household of whites. Often you see a notation that the slave is hired to someone else. The slave holder gets paid, not the slave. Slaves have no personal freedom. Their guardian (the slave holder) provides for them.

Just as the US laws courts perpetuated the institution of slavery, Saudi Sharia are letting down Saudi women. Adhl is not legal under Sharia law, but conservative judges fail to enforce the law.

American Bedu has more.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Polygamy posts

Thanks to Tyler Cowen for a pointer from Marginal Revolution today.

My posts on polygamy are here.