Thursday, August 17, 2017

Religious Fanatics

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were 4th- and 5th-century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 kilometres (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Built in 507 CE (smaller) and 554 CE (larger), the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art. They were 35 and 53 meters tall, respectively.

They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols.

Information and Culture Minister Qadratullah Jamal told Associated Press of a decision by 400 religious clerics from across Afghanistan declaring the Buddhist statues against the tenets of Islam. "They came out with a consensus that the statues were against Islam," said Jamal.


Curiouser and Curiouser

I refer to my post describing the extremely high traffic volumes at my site at the time I wrote about the dust-up between Google and James Damore.

As many of you are aware, shortly after this firing of Damore, he was interviewed by Jordan Peterson.  Now, I am watching his video series of Biblical lectures, specifically Bible Series X: Abraham: Father of Nations.

This series of lectures was given, one per week, in Toronto during this summer – 2017.  So, in the aforementioned lecture, he begins by telling of his day (the lectures are given in the evening).  Earlier that day, Peterson was blocked out of his gmail account and youtube.  He was told by Google that he violated the terms of usage.

To summarize, access was again granted (after some back and forth between him and the company), with no explanation as to any of it.

As best as I can tell, this block-out happened around the time that Damore’s memo became known publicly (with obvious influences from Peterson, as gpond noted), but perhaps before he was interviewed by Peterson. The video of the lecture was uploaded August 8; the video of the interview was uploaded August 9.

In any case, just an interesting tidbit…or, perhaps something more.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Open Borders for Israel

I have a proposition for those libertarians who support open borders.  Write a defense of your thesis regarding the nation-state of Israel.  Make it convincing.  Get it published at one or more of the sites that regularly pound the table for open borders.

If the theory is valid and universal – as is claimed by many, if not all, of you true for libertarian theory – you must find a credible application for Israel.

I am challenging specifically:

Jacob Hornberger
Sheldon Richman
Steven Horwitz
Jeffrey Tucker

The sites to which your defense should be posted include:

Foundation for Economic Education
Future of Freedom Foundation
Bleeding Heart Libertarians

So, the issue at hand: write your defense of open borders for Israel.  Publish it at one of the several sites that has no fear advocating for open borders.

The Silk Roads to the Twentieth Century

As Frankopan does, I will move quickly from the 13th to the beginning of the 20th century.  Basically, this is a period when the importance of the Silk Roads is overshadowed by the sea….

As we begin this period, the Mongols hold an empire stretching across much of Eurasia.  In the west, the Italian city-states find this to be good business, trading in all sorts of goods, to include slaves; this is dwarfed by the volume of trade in the east – particularly in China.

For every ship that set sail for Alexandria with supplies of pepper for Christian lands, reported Marco Polo in the late thirteenth century, more than a hundred put in to the Chinese port….

Silver was the common currency for trade across Eurasia.  The use of silver was furthered by the development of Bills of Exchange and paper money – introduced in China before the time of Genghis Khan.

However, perhaps the most significant Mongol export was the plague, the Black Death:

From field to farm to city to village, the Black Death created hell on earth: putrid, rotting bodies, oozing with pus, set against a background of fear, anxiety and disbelief at the scale of the suffering.

From curse to blessing: the Black Plague greatly shrunk the supply of labor, increasing its price.  Wealth was more evenly spread; better wealth resulted in better diets and better health.  Especially in northern Europe with relatively open competition, the economy boomed; the south not as much, controlled to a larger extent by guilds.

Meanwhile, the Ottomans had Constantinople surrounded – by this time, almost an island.  The city fell in 1453.  As the fifteenth century continued, the city – now controlled by Muslim Turks – became a home for Jews, especially those who were expelled from Spain at the end of the century.

The Christians of Europe feared it was the time of the Apocalypse – Armageddon was due at the end of the century.  Many signs, many prophesies, many timelines, many interpretations of Scripture.

Instead…Christopher Colōn discovered a New World.  Pearls, gold, silver and slaves were imported to Europe; death, war and plague were brought west in exchange.  Spain and Portugal were to divide the world, codified in the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494.  Basically, Portugal would have the east, Spain would have the west.  As other European powers were able, they would come to ignore the treaty – especially those powers that became Protestant after the Reformation.

Sea power took to the fore; the Eurasian continent was no longer the center of the world.  At first, Spain and Portugal were the dominant powers, later to be replaced by Britain and – after the declaring independence from Spain in 1581 – the Netherlands.  The Catholics and Protestants took their fight to the sea.

Britain crushed the Spanish Armada in 1588.  Four years later, Britain captured the Portuguese caravel, Madre de Deus; in this one haul, Britain gained goods equivalent to half-a-years’ worth of normal imports.

In the meantime, the Dutch – in addition to being expert shipbuilders – were remarkable traders and financiers.  They, like the British, developed colonies and trading posts throughout the world.

Britain would make friends with anyone opposed to the Catholic European countries – the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This included the Ottomans, and this began Britain’s long (and ongoing) foray into the region of the Silk Roads – Egypt, the Near East, Persia, Afghanistan, and India.  The British Empire would span the globe – east to west.

And this would bring Britain into continuous contention with Russia – a country whose borders were otherwise 1300 miles from London.  It is a contention which continues today (see, for example, the intent of the latest US sanction bill).

And this is where we will pick up the story next.