Monday, April 30, 2007

Turkey, Islam & the EU Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

A few years ago I pointed out to M. Yglesias that Turkey was more religious than the United States (he emailed me immediately and agreed that that characterization was about right). Less than a year ago I offered that Turkey was a nation with a greater percentage of Creationists than the United States, and so it was not culturally suitable for EU admission. Today M. Yglesias has a post where he suggests that the AKP, the current moderate Islamist party in power in Turkey is basically an analog to the Republican party. There are obviously differences (see Daniel Larison for more exposition), while the AKP has been from its inception (through itself proper or its predecessors) the vehicle for upwardly mobile religious conservatives, the Republican party has been transformed within the past few generations from a party dominated by elite affluent mainline WASPs to one where evangelicals call the shots (notionally at least). Nevertheless, along with Yglesias I tend to think that the rise of groups like the AKP is a good thing, even if they are regressive they accept the democratic principle and so are agents for long term (I mean generations, not years) cultural evolution. The EU agrees. But here is a paradox: I believe that genuine cultural democraticization makes it less plausible that Turkey could be an EU member because at the grassroots it is a far less European nation than its secular elite wants to project.1 And yet the same people who would wink at the idea of dividing North American between Jesusland and the United States of Canada tend to favor admission into the EU of a nation which is still mostly Allahland!

1 - Of course overall the EU been an elite pushed project, and democratic sentiment has tended to give a rubber stamp to something which was already fait accompli. With Turkey though I think this is problematic because the chasm between the alcohol drinking secular elite and Christian missionary throat cutting non-elites is pretty wide.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

South Park + 300 => genius!!!! Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

If you've watched 300 and are a fan of South Park, you have to watch the most recent episode.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Gayrabia - full article Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

You can read full article about being gay in Saudi Arabia here (thanks to Diana). This was the funniest part:
...Few people in the kingdom, other than the mutawwa'in, seem to take the process seriously. When the mutawwa'in busted the party that led to Marcos's deportation, they separated the "showgirls" wearing drag from the rest of the partygoers, and then asked everyone but the drag queens to line up against the wall for the dawn prayer. At the first of the three ensuing trials, Marcos and the 23 other Filipinos who'd been detained were confronted with the evidence from the party: plastic bags full of makeup, shoes, wigs, and pictures of the defendants dressed like women. When the Filipinos were returned to their cells, they began arguing about who had looked the hottest in the photos. And even after his punishment and deportation, Marcos was unfazed; when he returned to Jeddah, it was under the same name.


I am struck that the author of the article notes a shortage of "bottoms" in Saudi Arabia. The main reason from the evidence presented within seems to be the preponderance of facultative homosexual behavior among straight males who don't have sexual outlets (e.g., not married, or their wife is not available). In contrast, I am to understand that in the US gay culture there is a shortage of "tops" and "straight acting men." In a way it seems that Saudi Arabia (and other such cultures, of which there are many, if not to the same extent) presents an opportunity for the obligate homosexual.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gayrabia Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

The Atlantic has a story in the May issue on homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. Like many things in the Arab world there is the de jure and de facto. Since this is only available in full in print I'll have to wait to read the whole thing, but I wonder how much they emphasize the difference between facultative homosexuality and obligate homosexuality? After all, many men in prison have sex with other men, but they aren't homosexual by choice, they are sexual with a strong preference for females and so they select the most feminine males and turn them into "bitches" to generate an illusion. For non-upper class young males (those with money can travel abroad) it seems that Saudi Arabia might exhibit some of the characteristics of a prison, and so sexual urges are "released" upon other males (or, unfortunately the domestic help). I also wonder as to the role of single-sex socialization in priming these tendencies. I am often struck by the fact that in societies where males generally form close friendships only with other males there is quite a bit more physical and emotional affection between the same gender than is acceptable (and not deemed "gay") in the United States, where sexes socialize freely and straight males are generally averse to non-violent physical contact with each other. In fact, it seems to me that when sex relations in the United States were more distinct insofar as the genders inhabited disjoint social domains there was less fear of being perceived as homosexual if you were physically close with another man. One can find analogs of this situation in single-sex education as well. In any case, my only point is that articles like this might be a bit less shocking if Americans weren't such a peculiar bunch, and the patently homophobic citizens of 1900 might be able to intuitively understand the social dynamics here more than moderns.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Blogging Heads, is it worth it? Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

Virginia Postrel was asking whether Blogginheads.TV was worth it. Most of your probably know that I'm a regular watcher. Some of you might wonder, "Why???" The reason is simple, I don't own a TV, nor do I read many political blogs or newspaper articles, so it is a cheap way for me to stay hook in to the Zeitgeist of what people who think politics matters think matters right now. Normally I listen to the "debate" in one tab while I'm browsing or doing work. Also, it gives me an opportunity to make fun of the way people look, and mock M. Yglesias, which I enjoy for purely childish reasons. But back to the main issue, is the format worth it? Postrel mentions technical issues, and it seems every other episode has problems with unrecorded diavlogs and what not. Well, check this out:


Jesus. I know ALEXA sucks, but not by an order of magnitude. Blogginheads.TV doesn't really beat gnxp.com, let alone someone like M. Yglesias. I am pretty shocked to be honest, but I guess only hardcore nerds are really interested in what other nerds have to say.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

What kind of genomics is this? Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

OK, just checking out books on Amazon (I usually check reviews before looking for the books elsewhere), and I found this: A Discourse with Our Genes: The Psychosocial and Cultural Genomics of Therapeutic Hypnosis and Psychotherapy. Also, check out The Psychobiology of Gene Expression. No. I'm not making this up. Click the links. I dare you.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Eric Alterman, a nationalist socialist Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

A few weeks ago I watched Bloggingheads.TV which I found really amusing. Eric Alterman was in a discussion with someone named Bill Scher. I don't know anything about Scher aside from the fact that he makes Jonah Goldberg seem really intellectual and a deep thinker (see their diavlog). But I was struck by the following exchange over foreign policy:
Alterman: "People in these countries don't want us, they hate us, they hate everything about us, they hate the idea of democracy, it's inconsistent with their vision of Islamic republics, which is what they clearly want. So you just like glossing over that, but I think that's fundamental. I think the promotion of democracy in the Arab world creates anti-American terrorists."

Scher: "Well, I mean, democracy in the broader sense, what kind of government do those people want. It doesn't have to be Jeffersonian-"

Alterman: "I don't want them to have the kind of government that they want. OK. I don't want Jordan and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to have the kind of government that they want, because they will want to kill me with it!


I generally cheered for Alterman here. Whether you are an interventionist or not, the whole rhetoric about democracy and its universal appeal on both the Left and Right has gotten out of control. Whether there is a universal yearning for democratic freedom or not, its acceptance as a background assumption in the public discourse has become nearly religious. When someone like Alterman challenges it, you see a "deer in headlights" tendency. There are few counter arguments because people assume any contrary position is either absurd or immoral. These sort of dreamy tendencies are fine when you aren't an imperial power that has to make real-politik decisions (e.g., Iceland?), but at this point bad decisions informed by fallacious assumptions can cost a lot, at home and abroad.

To make the world as you wish it to be, you must first comprehend how it truly is.

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Principles of Population Genetics
Genetics of Populations
Molecular Evolution
Quantitative Genetics
Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics
Evolutionary Genetics
Evolution
Molecular Markers, Natural History, and Evolution
The Genetics of Human Populations
Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits
Epistasis and Evolutionary Process
Evolutionary Human Genetics
Biometry
Mathematical Models in Biology
Speciation
Evolutionary Genetics: Case Studies and Concepts
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 1
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 2
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 3
Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution
The History and Geography of Human Genes
Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory
Population Genetics, Molecular Evolution, and the Neutral Theory
Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations
Genetics and Origins of Species
Tempo and Mode in Evolution
Causes of Evolution
Evolution
The Great Human Diasporas
Bones, Stones and Molecules
Natural Selection and Social Theory
Journey of Man
Mapping Human History
The Seven Daughters of Eve
Evolution for Everyone
Why Sex Matters
Mother Nature
Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language
Genome
R.A. Fisher, the Life of a Scientist
Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology
Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics
A Reason for Everything
The Ancestor's Tale
Dragon Bone Hill
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
The Selfish Gene
Adaptation and Natural Selection
Nature via Nurture
The Symbolic Species
The Imitation Factor
The Red Queen
Out of Thin Air
Mutants
Evolutionary Dynamics
The Origin of Species
The Descent of Man
Age of Abundance
The Darwin Wars
The Evolutionists
The Creationists
Of Moths and Men
The Language Instinct
How We Decide
Predictably Irrational
The Black Swan
Fooled By Randomness
Descartes' Baby
Religion Explained
In Gods We Trust
Darwin's Cathedral
A Theory of Religion
The Meme Machine
Synaptic Self
The Mating Mind
A Separate Creation
The Number Sense
The 10,000 Year Explosion
The Math Gene
Explaining Culture
Origin and Evolution of Cultures
Dawn of Human Culture
The Origins of Virtue
Prehistory of the Mind
The Nurture Assumption
The Moral Animal
Born That Way
No Two Alike
Sociobiology
Survival of the Prettiest
The Blank Slate
The g Factor
The Origin Of The Mind
Unto Others
Defenders of the Truth
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
Before the Dawn
Behavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic Era
The Essential Difference
Geography of Thought
The Classical World
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Fall of Rome
History of Rome
How Rome Fell
The Making of a Christian Aristoracy
The Rise of Western Christendom
Keepers of the Keys of Heaven
A History of the Byzantine State and Society
Europe After Rome
The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity
The Barbarian Conversion
A History of Christianity
God's War
Infidels
Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
The Sacred Chain
Divided by the Faith
Europe
The Reformation
Pursuit of Glory
Albion's Seed
1848
Postwar
From Plato to Nato
China: A New History
China in World History
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Children of the Revolution
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World
The Great Arab Conquests
After Tamerlane
A History of Iran
The Horse, the Wheel, and Language
A World History
Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Human Web
Plagues and Peoples
1491
A Concise Economic History of the World
Power and Plenty
A Splendid Exchange
Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD
Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations
A Farewell to Alms
The Ascent of Money
The Great Divergence
Clash of Extremes
War and Peace and War
Historical Dynamics
The Age of Lincoln
The Great Upheaval
What Hath God Wrought
Freedom Just Around the Corner
Throes of Democracy
Grand New Party
A Beautiful Math
When Genius Failed
Catholicism and Freedom
American Judaism

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