Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adam Smith contradicts himself, becomes immortal

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith observed: "Humanity is motivated by self-interest."

In Theory of Moral Sentiments, he observed: "Humanity is not motivated by self-interest".

Therefore, humanity is and is not motivated by self-interest.

If you can contradict yourself on a large enough scale, you get to be famous and immortal – like Adam Smith.(You also get to be trivial and wrong, but then who cares?)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Gender Gap: now you see it, now you don't

"TRADITION has it that boys are good at counting and girls are good at reading, but the reasons for the differences have always been hotly contested. Now a new study by Luigi Guiso of the European University Institute of Florence and his colleagues published in Science suggests that culture explains most of the difference, in maths at least. The researchers compared a country's OECD 2003 maths and reading test results with various measures of social sexual equality. On average, girls' maths scores were lower than boys' but the gap was largest in countries with the least equality between the sexes, such as Turkey. It vanished in countries such as Norway and Sweden, where sexes are pretty much on a par. And the gap in reading scores increased, with girls doing even better in more equal societies."

This is a chart from The Economist: it shows that Muslim girls (here Turkish girls stand-in for Muslim girls in general) score the lowest over their male classmates in maths.

Now consider the chart below: this shows that the gender gap in income earned is the lowest in Turkey. But I thought Turkey was the country in the OECD "with the least equality between the sexes"! Something seems to have gone wrong. Turkey is and is not one of the countries with the least equality between the sexes.

It appears that the stupid-and-neglected Turkish girls somehow make it though university without mathematics, and, as anthropologists and (no doubt) women's studies experts earn as much as their better-trained mathematically proficient counterparts in the labour market. Curioser and curioser!

"UNIVERSITY offers more than the chance to indulge in a few years of debauchery. A new report from the OECD, a rich country think-tank, attempts to measure how much more graduates can expect to earn compared with those who seek jobs without having a degree. In America the lifetime gross earnings of male graduates are, on average, nearly $370,000 higher than those of non-graduates, comfortably repaying the pricey investment in a university education (female graduates earn an extra $229,000). In South Korea and Spain female graduates pull in a lot more than their male counterparts. In Turkey, although the additional wages are more modest, the difference between men and women is far less pronounced."

The Prophet Motive

When I was at university, a friend of mine wrote inside her book: "There is no God, and Marx is His prophet'.

She didn't know much about Marxism, of course, but she sure hated Islam. Back in the early and mid-80s, if you weren't a Marxist, you weren't respected at Dhaka University, or any university in Bangladesh for that matter (there were no private universities then).

Consequently, universities were hotbeds of communist hotheads. One can imagine the hatred inspired by General Zia and General Ershad's privatization policies, reversing the property-grab of the Sheikh Mujib era. However, we were never immune to the blandishments of money.

My friend – a staunch feminist – received an offer of marriage from a rich Bangladeshi expatriate resident in the USA (yes, the devil's lair). Moreover, this man was a devout Muslim. He would wake up and recite the Koran every day!

Did she agree to such a marriage? In an eye-blink.

I remember how senior students, seemingly addicted to Marxism, would suddenly disappear. On inquiry, it would be learned that he had taken off for some university in America. Ah well! Nothing wrong with acquiring knowledge. Then, after some time, one would learn that he had joined the IMF!

Today, public university teachers routinely moonlight at the (more lucrative) private universities, against the regulations.

You see, there's one thing we can't resist: money.

Marxism brought prestige, which was good for an undergraduate, when your father footed your bills; but the moment you graduated and found yourself in the international labour market, and realized your potential, well, money determined everything. Without a murmur, university teachers went over to democracy and capitalism after the Berlin Wall came crashing down.

Now, there's one idea that pays no earthly dividends: Islam in particular, and religion in general. The old hatred for Islam (that ideological state apparatus, remember?) has, therefore, remained on the campuses. Teachers take every opportunity to instill it into their students. If 90% of American university teachers are democrats (according to The Economist), then 90% of Bangladeshi teachers are supporters of the dynasty of Sheikh Mujib, the apostle of secularism (for which read anti-Islamism).

Hence, when a member of the dynasty was arrested by the army, the teachers incited their indoctrinated students (and paid goons) to burn cars, lorries, restaurants…anything that could be broken and torched.

The intelligentsia squarely blamed the military rulers for raising prices: even though the international media made it abundantly clear that the blame lay on the wrongheaded policy of oil-substitution through ethanol and the planting of maize. From 2007, a chart in The Economist showed a steady rise in international food prices – and January 2007 was when the army took over from the psychopaths

(For international food prices - including Bangladesh's - see Conveniently for our intellectuals, international food prices began to fall just when their psychopathic leader came to power in a rigged election!)

A teacher at a local university blankly accused a bureaucrat of raising food prices – and she was a teacher of (you won't believe this) economics! A banker brazenly asked my wife, "What have international prices got to do with us?"
This year, prices, especially of sugar and ahead of Eid, have risen again – but not a whisper has been heard from the "secular" intellectuals because the dynasty is now in power.

For sugar prices, see

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scoop reports a non-scoop

This ridiculous article fails to mention the connivance of foreign donors in the extrajudicial killings and torture. It says that Bangladesh is an independent country: what a hoot! Bangladesh is run by foreign powers, who allow two psychopaths to run the country in turn. These powers rig elections to ensure the parties rotate to create the illusion of democracy. Since our democratic transition, extrajudicial killing has escalated: now it is practiced by ordinary people on the streets. Every few days, we read about lynchings. There have been around 27 lynchings this year so far (and 78 last year). People are fed up with the violence that followed our "democratic transition". Extrajudicial killing enjoys immense public support, for the people feel that those killed are criminals.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Soldier and His Girl, or Nationalism Castrated

She was a fifteen-year-old nationalist (nothing out of the ordinary about that; I've even known ten-year-old nationalists). She went for a drive with her boyfriend and they stopped at the lake. I hope he wasn't getting a blow job, for at one point she bounded out of the car and went for an angry walk. Had he suggested something more lewd?

Well, depends on your point of view. All he had said was that he was going to join the army. He was lucky she didn't bite off his pecker.

Now, Bengali nationalists hate the army: which is odd, for nationalism and the military have always been grand bedfellows. The French Revolution created the people's army, first seen in action on a more modest scale during the birth of American nationalism: hence the American love of the military. German nationalism reached its peak under Bismarck and a higher peak under Hitler: in both cases, the militarization of society was a hallmark of nationalism. An English friend of mine (who was twice my age, and died in the '80s) used to tell me how during the First World War, young women would bring flowers to young men not in uniform: implying that they lacked balls. Lawrence's writing is full of the associations between nationalism and the military.

Of course, ours is a bogus nationalism: words never travel, for the way of life that constitutes their meaning never travels. So, we have a bogus nationalism and a bogus democracy. Throughout South Asia, these things are bogus, as many a scholar has pointed out. (A nationalism that finds expression in love for a foreign nation, a foreign culture, a foreign religion is one phony nationalism.)

Of course, in Bangladesh, nationalists have a special beef against the military: the military (and politicians) murdered the Father of the Nation, much as Zeus cut off the genitals of Cronos. In Greek myth, the foam that the dick caused in the waters gave rise to Venus; in our case, unfortunately, it gave rise to the Daughter of the Nation (no Venus, unless Venus in Furs without the looks).

Now, she was interned for a year by the army: hence there is an enduring hatred between nationalists and the military.

As for our fifteen-year-old nationalist, I really don't know if she accepted her hussar, or reproduced little nationalists in her turn.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

After the Revolution

"Iranians are too sophisticated to be ruled for ever by a clutch of old men in turbans. The regime has been illiberal and authoritarian. It is often vicious in its suppression of opponents and its disregard for human rights. Iran has the highest rate of judicial executions per head in the world."

- The Economist, 20th June 2009

The Germans were too sophisticated to be ruled by a short corporal. They were illiberal (to put it mildly) and authoritarian (ahem!).
The excelled in everything: from sophisticated composers ranging from Bach, through Beethoven and Brahms, and – whoops! – Wagner, to philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche.

Yet it took a less sophisticated people – the Russians – to stop them.
After the Iranian revolution, the revolutionaries found they had no plan: no one had thought of what kind of regime would replace the Shah's. The only people who had a blueprint – and one from heaven – were the mullahs. Otherwise, the nation would have descended into chaos.

It has been estimated that 11% of Iranians took part in the revolution; the corresponding figure for the Russian revolution is 9%; and for the grand daddy of them all, the French revolution, it is 6%.

All three revolutions had one thing in common: no one knew what to replace the previous regime with, except the mullahs, the Bolsheviks and Napoleon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Muslim collaborators

"In the far east, a Buddhist civilization flourishing in Bengal was forced to abandon that faith by a Hindu dynasty which subsequently oppressed the native people."

"About 1200 these Turkish Moslems swept into Bengal (now Bangladesh) and were eagerly greeted by the people who were seeking a release from Hindu oppression."

- A Comprehensive Outline of World History By: Jack E. Maxfield

We appear, through the curlicues of history, to have come full circle: once again we are oppressed by a Hindu dynasty, but this time through their local, "Muslim" collaborators.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

There's gold in them thar hills!

Bangladesh Gets $19 Million from US & Germany for Reforestation Project

A worthy cause, pity the money will mostly go to waste: it'll end up in the pockets of either government staff and/or the hands of the ultra-corrupt insurgents, the PCJSS, (more likely the latter), with whom we (Bangladesh) have signed a bogus "peace" treaty. It'll buy arms for the group and generate a new source of income to supplement their current appropriations from government/donor handouts, as well as kidnapping and extortion. Their enemies, the UPDF, will also try to muscle in on the act - therefore, a tripartite division of the spoils seems the most likely outcome (not to mention greater violence).

And the worst part is that the western governments and donors know all about the situation. I guess the money has to go somewhere, and aid always serves the ultimate purpose: control over a foreign nation.

Consider this statistic: only 25% of donor money reaches the poor. So you can infer how much is going to go on photosynthesis.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

An Evening With Nationalists

As I've mentioned before, most of my wider family are nationalists – they are supporters of the Awami League. That they are beyond reason and sanity, everyone knows: that they are beyond humanity should not be a well-kept secret either.

My wife and I spent an evening with them: it was supposed to be a getting-together to mourn a dead relative, but we found the booze flowing merrily enough, and, naturally, singers at the podium.

But that was nothing compared to what followed.

My cousin and his wife had recently come here for a short visit. A more tragic couple I have yet to meet. She had breast cancer, and had had a mastectomy performed. She was under chemotherapy. They were devout Muslims, and thoroughly apolitical.

But she had a major defect in the eyes of her nationalist relatives: she wore a hijab (albeit with the face showing). That she was very religious seemed to earn her the scorn of everyone present. And they were both revolted by the booze, which the company sensed.

The girl was crying. She spoke, sobbing, to one of my uncles: "Nobody knows what we're going through" I heard her say. And I could imagine: besides the Damocles' sword of cancer hanging over you, there's the sheer cost of treatment in America; even insurance was expensive and my cousin had lost his job in the economic downturn, and his wife couldn't work.

And my uncle told her: "Try to take things lightly".

How do you take cancer lightly? Is religion an inappropriate response to the prospect of imminent death?

So, there were these secular nationalists, swilling booze and listening to the songs of Tagore, and looking down their collective noses at my cousin and his cancerous wife for being practicing Muslims, non-Awami Leaguers.

Isn't that our country writ small?