Why religion can lead to racism. I think the correlations are real, but am skeptical of the causation because I think think the correlation is cultural-specific. For example, my personal experience with Muslims is that those who espouse the most “Fundamentalist” world views are the least racist. The contrast with white American Protestants probably emerges from the fact that white American Protestants and Arab Muslims have had very different recent histories (if Arab Muslims want a racial ideology, they had a good candidate in secular Baathism. Some of the same applies to Turks and Persians, who got on the 20th century racial-nationalist bandwagon, as evident in the attempt by the Shah to emphasize Iran’s Aryan antecedents, while Ataturk funded research on the racial characteristics of the Turkish people which allowed them to be a conquering race).
Air Travel Crisis Deepens as Europe Fears Wider Impact. This shows the downside of a JIT world, where we squeeze efficiencies by pushing everything to the margin and assuming stable background conditions. I worry that as the world economy becomes more interdependent, and squeezes efficiencies out through complementation via comparative advantages, there emerge problems whenever we get buffeted by a big “exogenous shock.” I think there’s some evidence that we as a species have cognitive biases toward focus on near-term conditions and discounting volatility toward the tails of the distribution. Such is nature.
S.E. Cupp On Being An Atheist & A Conservative. Some of her arguments strike me as surprisingly superficial, and I think it’s likely that she’ll convert to Roman Catholicism at some point in the next 20 years. My minimal experience with atheists who want to be religious is that they generally get their wish if they don’t die too early. Also, apparently she’s getting her masters in Religious Studies, which is a field that is often suspicious of unvarnished naturalism in the study of religion. Warning: I suspect some readers of this weblog will find her responses & viewpoints somewhat cringe-worthy. A young Heather Mac Donald she’s not, take a look at this clip, who does she remind you of? Can’t wait until she’s firmly in the Christian column.
For Goldman, a Bet’s Stakes Keep Growing. Some people are saying that investors will now be cautious of making recourse to Goldman’s services for fear that they’ll be screwed. But remember that it is assumed that many of Bernie Madoff’s investors suspected that he was front running. In other words, as long as it’s someone else being screwed they should be fine with it. The people at Goldman are the best tools you have out there, but a tool is a tool and can be used for good or ill. In any case I thought Goldman was making most of its money by trading with its own capital, leveraging the ability to get cash cheaply via the Fed window and also taking advantage of the guaranteed implicit backing of the government. I do believe that capitalism needs virtue, but I also believe that the revolution of morals has to start up top. I’m not holding my breath. Cultures go through cycles, and we’re probably due for a “correction.”
Where Paris Chefs, Not Prices, Rise. If you’re going through Paris, worth a read.