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« The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll? | Main | Bagatelles »

November 29, 2006

Elsewhere

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Some clever and funny totebags can be seen here.

* Religious conservatives give more to charity than secular lefties do. (Link thanks to ALD.)

* Searchie confesses to being a "flower nerd."

* As far as Turkey's bid to become part of the EU goes, Rod Dreher can't see what's in it for Europe except disaster. Nice sentence: "Seeking peaceful coexistence in no way requires political union."

* Alice confesses that, despite disliking the Beeb's politics, she still prefers the BBC's programming to American cable.

* GNXPers (and commenters) yak about synaesthesia.

* In the 1950s, Ann Bannon wrote lesbian-themed pulp fiction. She talks to WNYC here. (Link thanks to Michael Bierut.)

* Are stop signs really necessary? (Link thanks to Design Observer.)

* The usual thing to run into is atheists claiming that religious belief is irrational. Jim Kalb surprises by arguing that it's atheism that makes no sense. Thrasymachus responds. Dave Lull points out a review of a new book about the great Michael Oakeshott that specifically addresses Oakeshott's heretofore not-much-discussed thoughts about religion.

* Brenda Walker wonders how the NYTimes can publish a piece about black people leaving Watts and not once use the word "immigration."

* What are the worst-designed everyday objects? Blister-packs, napkin dispensers, and CD jewelboxes are currently in the lead.

* Bluewyvern turns up some wacky hotel rooms.

* Is the time right for adult, character-driven sex to reappear in feature films? (Link thanks to Prairie Mary.)

* Steve Sailer has been wondering why so many great athletes come from the West Indies.

* The Communicatrix once gave jazz great Anita O'Day a lift.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at November 29, 2006




Comments

Regarding Rod Dreher's worries about Turkey's admission to the EU, one idea that's been floated is admitting Turkey under a special provision that will not give its citizens free emigration rights. Doing so would help alleviate European worries about a flood of Turkish migrants. Of course, whether Turkey would accept what seems condescending treatment is another story - I wouldn't blame them for a minute if they told the EU to take a hike.

In any event, it's not altogether certain that there would be a flood of Turkish migrants even without such a restriction. Turkey has a combination of a growing economy and a decline in the rate of population growth that isn't usually associated with rapid emigration. As a matter of fact, I've heard that Turkey is receiving a significant number of immigrants itself, mainly from poorer Arab countries.

Posted by: Peter on November 29, 2006 9:55 PM



Michael – lots of interesting nuggets here.

On charitable giving: the assertion that “religious conservatives give more to charity than secular lefties do” is probably true but misleading since the same study notes that “religious liberals give nearly as much as religious conservatives.” This suggests that religion, more than political ideology, is the more important variable. This reminds me of an episode of an old PBS show about “Ethics in America” where a leftist noted that he would not give a homeless person a dollar if asked for spare change, since he preferred that society (including himself) be taxed to eliminate poverty, rather than depend on individual acts of charity. I thought that this reasoning was particularly stupid, cruel, and short-sighted. Still do.

ABC’s John Stossel, in a just aired 20/20 report on charitable giving, notes that poor people give a greater share of their income than rich people. Excerpts of the report can be found here: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2682730&page=1

On atheism - A couple of Jim Kalb’s points are just nonsense, particularly this assertion: “That means that we must believe the world resembles our understanding in some basic ways. In particular, we must believe that the world is also coherent, hierarchical and directed.”

I understand that a lot of religious people think this way, as do some people who are stuck on ancient philosophy, or who have no understanding of either psychology or science, but Kalb’s idea here is as ignorant as the early belief of primitive human beings that trees and rocks must have minds and spirits, just like people. Similarly primitive is the jump from a belief in a hierarchical universe to the notion of a deity at the top and human beings somewhere lower down the way. That we can comprehend the world in no way suggest that the world must resemble the way that our mind works.

On Watts and the lack of a discussion about immigration. Hmm. Watts used to be 90 per cent black, and yet the blacks who moved there in the 30s and 40s from out of state and the East side of LA, displaced whites and Latinos who previously lived there. People, no matter what their race, make more money and move to the suburbs instead of staying in their old neighborhoods. How is this unusual? L.A.’s Chinatown originally encompassed a Little Italy, and is now more Vietnamese than Chinese as Chinese Americans have moved into the San Gabriel Valley. I don’t see anyone gnashing their teeth over this shift in population. The trouble with the New York Times reporter, and Steve Sailer – who reproduced the Times story, is that they know so little about Los Angeles history that they get stuck in their own little ideological bubbles and miss the bigger picture.

Posted by: Alec on November 30, 2006 6:13 AM



Religious liberal. Isn't that an oxymoron? ;^)

Posted by: ricpic on November 30, 2006 8:53 AM



On secular giving: Could it not be that secularism is simply more rational, and attracts people better in touch with their brains. And that more rational players recognize the EXTREMELY low rate of return for charitable giving (and the even lower rate for cash giving, which I would bet is more common amongst conservatives). Tyler Cowen had an article in the Times a couple months ago about how people don't care how efficient the charities they give to are. Perhaps secular folk are quicker to recognize that even if giving makes you feel good, their time and money could be better spent elsewhere.

Posted by: Brandon on November 30, 2006 10:31 AM



But, Brandon,

why do those people then support forced charity through the auspices of a government program? All of the same inefficiencies apply, and in likely greater quantities.

Posted by: Chris on November 30, 2006 3:41 PM






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