Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From around the interwebs...

Things I've been reading this week in order to pretend to be interesting...

PC brigade kills debate on burqa ban
(by Sushi Das in The Age.)
"The burqa ban debate is not about robbing people of their identity or wanting to crush Islam. And it is not just about facilitating communication. It's more than that.

In a society in which we celebrate human rights, promote free institutions and respect representative government, no matter how imperfect those efforts might be, we are entitled to feel proud of our enlightened ways. Preserving and enforcing full rights and benefits to women is a significant achievement of modern society.
Debating the burqa is about creating a space that is beyond the control of extremists. We should not be cowed by those who seek to polarise this debate. We should feel free to declare, full-throated, that the burqa is an abomination."

New dissent in Japan is loudly anti-foreign
(from the New York Times)
While these groups remain a small if noisy fringe element here, they have won growing attention as an alarming side effect of Japan’s long economic and political decline. Most of their members appear to be young men, many of whom hold the low-paying part-time or contract jobs that have proliferated in Japan in recent years.

Though some here compare these groups to neo-Nazis, sociologists say that they are different because they lack an aggressive ideology of racial supremacy, and have so far been careful to draw the line at violence. There have been no reports of injuries, or violence beyond pushing and shouting. Rather, the Net right’s main purpose seems to be venting frustration, both about Japan’s diminished stature and in their own personal economic difficulties.
“These are men who feel disenfranchised in their own society,” said Kensuke Suzuki, a sociology professor at Kwansei Gakuin University. “They are looking for someone to blame, and foreigners are the most obvious target.”

Glenn Beck vs Christ the Liberator
(by Reverend James Martin at The Huffington Post)

"Briefly put, liberation theology (there are many definitions, by the way) is a Gospel-based critique of the world through the eyes of the poor. Contrary to what Beck implies, the liberation theologian doesn't see himself or herself as victim; rather proponents call us to see how the poor are marginalized by society, to work among them, to advocate on their behalf, and to help them advocate for themselves. It has nothing to do with seeing yourself as victim. It is, like all authentic Christian practices, "other-directed." ...

It's not hard to see what Beck has against "liberation theology." It's the same reason people are often against "social justice." Both ideas ask us to consider the plight of the poor. And that's disturbing."

China traffic jam could last weeks
(from the Wall Street Journal)
And I thought the jams in Jakarta and Bangkok were hellish. This one is 60 miles long and may last a whole month.
"China's roads suffer from extra wear and tear from illegally overloaded trucks, especially along key coal routes. Coal supplies move from Mongolia through the outskirts of the capital on their way to factories. There are few rail lines to handle the extra load. Though the current massive gridlock is unusual, thousands of trucks line up along the main thoroughfares into Beijing even on the best days."
Black and Jewish, and seeing no contradiction
(from the New York Times)
"Nobody keeps track of how many black Orthodox Jews are in New York or across the nation, and surely it is a tiny fraction of both populations. Indeed, even the number of black Jews over all is elusive, though a 2005 book about Jewish diversity, “In Every Tongue,” cited studies suggesting that some 435,000 American Jews, or 7 percent, were black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian.

“Everyone agrees that the numbers have grown, and they should be noticed,” said Jonathan D. Sarna of Brandeis University, a pre-eminent historian of American Jewry. “Once, there was a sense that ‘so-and-so looked Jewish.’ Today, because of conversion and intermarriage and patrilineal descent, that’s less and less true. The average synagogue looks more like America."

The individual and social risks of cousin marriage
at Gene Expression 
"Setting religion aside, there are also social reasons why this practice is common. As I noted above sex segregation means that you may not know women outside of your family well, and in some societies where veiling is practiced it may be that you do not see many women you are not related to (even if veiling occurs at puberty, you may have seen your cousin at a younger age)."

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