Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why limit the free trade rule to economists?

I signed onto Alex Tabarrok's open letter on immigration earlier this month.

In Tapped, Matthew Yglesias expressed skepticism about one element of the letter:

I'll believe that this is all about altruism when I see an open letter from economists demanding that we scrap the complicated H1B visa system and instead allow unrestricted immigration of foreign college professors without all these requirements about prevailing wages, work conditions, non-displacement, good-faith recruitment of natives, etc. Obviously, there are many foreign born professors in the United States, but there could be many more, wages for academics could be lower, and college tuitions could be significantly lower. If there's really no difference between "us" and "them" economists should be leading the charge to disassemble the system of employment protections they enjoy.
To which Brad DeLong replies:
I'll pick up the gauntlet:

I hereby call on all governments to allow free mobility of university professors. All universities and other institutions of higher education should be allowed to hire whoever they want to reside, teach, and do research at their universities, without let or hindrance by any government whatsoever.

Greg Mankiw is on board as well.

Yglesias wanted only economists to respond, but both Alex's letter and Brad's rule applied to other academics as well. So I'm in too. Bring it on!!

UPDATE: Comments on this thread and others devoted to this topic suggest that tenure needs to be abolished for this to work properly. There is an intuitive logic to this, since this is all about increasing flexibility in labor markets. That said, I find this connection intriguing, since a) tenure is not a government-imposed restriction on the academic marketplace; and b) the commenters seem to assume that if tenure were abolished as a norm it would disappear from the face of the earth.

In actuality, ceteris paribus, the elimination of tenure could just as easily raise faculty salaries as lower them. Furthermore, I suspect that the institution of tenure would be replaced by an..... institution that looks an awful lot like tenure. Universities will still compete after top talent, and one of the ways to keep such talent would be to lock them in with long-term contracts. This institution would probably have a more limited domain than what exists now, but it would exist.

posted by Dan at 11:58 AM | Comments (27) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pen and paper rule!

Maplesoft -- "the leading provider of high-performance software tools for engineering, science and mathematics" -- commissioned a survey of "scientists, engineers, and researchers" to find out how they do their calculations. I think they found the results disturbing:

[A]ccording to an international survey, mathematical calculations in engineering and academia are still most often performed with pencil and paper. On a daily basis, respondents turn to scratchpads and calculators more frequently than any other tool for mathematical tasks. The same survey also revealed this community largely considers its field of work and study to be “fully modern” and “taking full advantage of modern tools and technology.”

These results are drawn from an extensive, international survey of scientists, engineers and researchers across a variety of markets, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, life sciences, finance and education. With more than 2000 participants, the survey offers unprecedented insight into the daily practices, experiences and perceptions of the technical user community.

When questioned about how frequently they used a range of tools and resources for design and analysis:

  • 52% indicated that they use “hand calculations (calculators) and paper” daily, with an additional 21% citing it as a weekly practice;

  • 47% of respondents indicated that the next most common resources used daily are “electronic references and tables (e.g. CD-ROM, Web),”)” with another 26% using them weekly;

  • 35% indicated that they use “print reference books and tables” daily, with another 31% using them weekly; and

  • 39% indicated daily use of spreadsheets, which remain the most common software tool used in analysis and design. Another 31% of users employ them weekly.
  • “It is startling to see such hard data revealing the continued reliance on tools and practices that require so much manual effort and leave so much room for error,” said Jim Cooper, CEO of Maplesoft. “This is a user base that is charged with driving innovation, exploring the cutting edge and bringing the best new products and services to market and yet, to a large extent, they are holding onto outdated and outmoded practices. So much of their important work will remain locked in their notebooks and lost to the layers of their spreadsheets rather than captured and carried forward with all of their logic and thinking documented.”

    Count me among the pen-and-paper crowd, sort of. There's no way in hell I'd start any theoretical modeling by typing it into a computer program. On the other hand, there's no way in hell I'd do any kind of statistical analysis or straight number-crunching by hand. Looking at the survey itself, it seems that engineers think of design in the same way that I think about theoretical modeling -- which makes intuitive sense to me.

    My question to readers: Is my use of pen-and-paper is simply an artifact of my age, and as people who have used computers since they were in diapers enter the scientific workforce, they will discard these ancient tools? Or is there something about the act of scribbling down initial thoughts about models or designs on paper that makes it work better than electronic entry?

    [You meant pencil and paper, right?--ed. I'm left-handed, and therefore stopped using pencils at the earliest moment possible.]

    posted by Dan at 10:09 AM | Comments (33) | Trackbacks (0)

    All the cool petrostates are doing it!!

    Expropriation was a hot topic of study in international politcal economy in the seventies, when it seemed like the phenomenon was going to be a permanent feature. In the eighties, the diffusion of free-market ideas and the collapse of communism rendered that topic pretty much inert.

    I suspect we're going to start seeing a few dissertations on the topic sprouting up soon, however. Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela... this is definitely a trend.

    And then there's Russia. Here are the first few paragraphs of Arkady Ostrovsky's "Russian ministry seeks review of oil deals" in the Financial Times:

    Russia’s natural resources ministry called on Thursday for a review of the two largest foreign oil projects in the country, even as senior Russian officials sought to assure EU leaders that Russia was a reliable energy partner.

    The ministry said the legal agreements underpinning oil and gas developments on Sakhalin island, on Russia’s eastern flank, were ineffective and should be reviewed.

    It said it planned to ask the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, to review production-sharing agreements signed in the 1990s, saying they were damaging Russia’s national interests.

    Any review of PSAs would threaten the two largest foreign investments in Russia: the Sakhalin-1 project, on which ExxonMobil and its partners have already spent nearly $5bn; and the Sakhalin-2 project, in which Royal Dutch Shell and its partners are investing $20bn.

    However, two Russian ministers insisted separately that all Moscow’s agreements with foreign energy companies would be honoured, suggesting a rift had opened within the government.

    Of course, such a thing couldn't happen in the United States. Oh, wait.....

    posted by Dan at 09:27 AM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    Are American CEOs lazy?

    In U.S. News and World Report, Rick Newman writes about some survey results suggesting that Asian CEOs don't whine as much as American CEOs:

    Development Dimensions International, the human-resources firm, recently did a survey of business leaders in the United States and in China. Some provocative findings:
  • In China, 23 percent of business leaders complain about the amount of work they do. In the States the figure is more than twice as high: 49 percent.

  • Chinese businesspeople are more satisfied; 80 percent feel they have work-life balance. Only 69 percent of American businesspeople feel the same way.

  • Business leaders in China are gluttons for punishment, too—93 percent say they'd be willing to sacrifice more free time to get ahead in business. Only 66 percent of Americans say that.
  • Americans aren't lazy. We all know people who work a full day and bring work home for evenings and weekends. And many parents do that while juggling kids. But Americans have developed expectations that border on unreasonable: prosperity, leisure, and fulfillment, all at once, plus we have a mentality that leads us to believe we're entitled to these things....

    In Asia, the lifestyle issues that have formed their own industry in the West still barely register.

    "In China, India, and Singapore, they're not talking about work-life-balance issues," argues David Heenan, author of Flight Capital. "They're working like crazy and taking no prisoners." Much of that has to do with recent—and ancient—history. America has been one of the world's most prosperous nations for decades. China, like India, is just beginning to taste prosperity. We're satiated. They're still lean and hungry. Like Americans 100 or 150 years ago, the new Asian capitalists are willing to sacrifice their personal lives for the once rare opportunity to improve their lives and maybe even get rich.

    The rewards of leisure and family time, of course, are among the things that motivate people to get rich. Who doesn't want to retire at 50, wealthy enough to do little more than play golf, socialize, volunteer, and cultivate a covey of grandchildren? Well, not the Chinese, evidently. Not yet, anyway. Puzzle this one out: While 45 percent of American business leaders find their personal life more fulfilling than their work life, only 3 percent of Chinese business leaders feel that way.

    I don't find this to be much of a puzzle at all -- American CEOs have greater leisure opportunities than Asian bosses. Neither do I suspect it's quite the dilemma that Newman suggests -- my strong suspicion is that American bosses can devote greater hours to work and personal life than Asian bosses -- because U.S. hours devoted to non-renumerative work have likely declined faster than in Asia.

    There's no puzzle for an obvious reason (which Newman recognizes) -- Americans are much better situated to maximize their utili

    posted by Dan at 02:34 PM | Comments (18) | Trackbacks (0)

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Guy lit summarized
    Here, then, is a summary of guy-lit novels:

    I may be 30, but I act 15. I am adrift in New York. I'm too clever by half for my own good. I live on puns and snide, sarcastic asides. I don't look too deeply into myself or anyone else — everyone else is boring or a phony anyway. I may be a New Yorker, but I am not in therapy. I have a boring job, for which I am overeducated and underqualified, but I lack the ambition to commit to a serious career. (Usually I have family money.) I hang out with my equally disconnected friends in many of the city's bars. I drink a lot, take recreational drugs, don't care about much except being clever. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and while I am eager to have sex, which I do often given the zillions of available women in New York, the sex is not especially fulfilling, and emotions rarely enter the picture. I am deeply shallow. And I know it.

    Oh, and then something happens. I go on a journey, get inside the media machinery, sort-of fall for a new girl. Or 9/11 happens, but that doesn't really affect me much either. And though I might now mouth some bland platitudes about change, anyone can see that I'm still the same guy I was before. Only different. But not really.

    From Michael Kimmel's scathing review of the genre in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    posted by Dan at 11:57 PM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

    So you want your child to go to college....

    I wasn't too fond of doing my homework when I was in middle school and high school, a fact that exasperated my mother to no end. Seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, she would remind me that, "college is coming sooner than you think!!" At the time, I thought this was a bit of melodrama, but as I've gotten older I do recignize a glimmer of wisdom in her point.

    Since modern science has yet to devise a way to clone my mother, and modern ethicists have yet to come to grips with the awesome metaphysical implications of having multiple copies of my mother running around in the world, how can the young people get a grip on the importance of college? This is where Quest For College comes in:

    Quest For College is an educational board game designed to provide 8th and 9th graders with some early awareness of the opportunities afforded by higher education. The game was created by Gina Coleman, an Associate Director of Admission at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Coleman created this game in 1999 as a reaction to the inequalities she observed between public and private schooled children in terms of preparedness in the college search and application process.
    Great idea, but there should be a companion game for the helicopter parents that will undoubtedly buy this board game: "Letting Go of Your Children."

    Full disclosure: Coleman was a college classmate of mine.

    posted by Dan at 11:44 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

    Someone explain the hawks' plans to me

    As near as I can figure out, the Bush/Cheney line on Iran is that neither direct dialogue nor indirect dialogue is worth it.

    On the direct dialogue, it appears that the administration is ignoring Iran's repeated entreaties for direct negotiations -- at least, that's what I gather from Karl Vick and Dafna Linzer's front-pager in the Washington Post:

    Iran has followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent letter to President Bush with explicit requests for direct talks on its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials, Iranian analysts and foreign diplomats.

    The eagerness for talks demonstrates a profound change in Iran's political orthodoxy, emphatically erasing a taboo against contact with Washington that has both defined and confined Tehran's public foreign policy for more than a quarter-century, they said....

    [Saeed] Laylaz and several diplomats said senior Iranian officials have asked a multitude of intermediaries to pass word to Washington making clear their appetite for direct talks. He said Ali Larijani, chairman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, passed that message to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, who arrived in Washington Tuesday for talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

    Iranian officials made similar requests through Indonesia, Kuwait and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Laylaz said. American intelligence analysts also say Larijani's urgent requests for meetings with senior officials in France and Germany appear to be part of a bid for dialogue with Washington.

    "They've been desperate to do it," said a European diplomat in Tehran.

    U.S. intelligence analysts have assessed the letter as a major overture, an appraisal shared by analysts and foreign diplomats resident in Iran. Bush administration officials, however, have dismissed the offered opening as a tactical move.

    The administration repeatedly has rejected talks, saying Iran must negotiate with the three European powers that have led nuclear diplomacy since the Iranian nuclear program emerged from the shadows in 2002. Within hours of receiving Ahmadinejad's letter, Rice dismissed it as containing nothing new.

    But U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said government experts have exerted mounting pressure on the Bush administration to reply to the letter, seconding public urgings from commentators and former officials. "The content was wacky and, from an American point of view, offensive. But why should we cede the high moral ground, and why shouldn't we at least respond to the Iranian people?" said an official who has been pushing for a public response.

    On the indirect dialogue, Guy Dinmore and Daniel Dombey report in the Financial Times that U.S. hawks don't like the EU3 offering anything to Iran:
    Opposition by US “hawks” led by Dick Cheney, the vice-president, is complicating efforts by the main European powers to put together an agreed package of incentives aimed at persuading Iran to suspend its nuclear fuel cycle programme, according to diplomats and analysts in Washington.

    London is hosting on Wednesday political directors of the “EU3” of France, Germany and the UK, together with China, Russia and the US to look at the twin tools of incentives and sanctions.

    Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, was said by one diplomat to have “gone out on a limb” in an attempt to back the EU3’s package of incentives but was facing resistance from Mr Cheney who is playing a more visible role in US foreign policy. Another diplomat said US internal divisions were holding up an agreement with the Europeans....

    Mr Cheney is said to oppose the notion of “rewarding bad behaviour” following Iran’s alleged breaches of its nuclear safeguards commitments. The hawks – who include John Bolton, the US envoy to the UN, and Bob Joseph, a senior arms control official – fear a repeat of a similar agreement reached with North Korea in 1994 which did not stop the communist regime from pursuing a secret weapons programme.

    The last point is a valid one -- the 1994 agreement with North Korea merely kicked the can down the road.

    Here's my question, though -- even if this skepticism is warranted, exactly what is the hawkish set of policy options on Iran? Is there any coercive policy instrument that is a) publicly viable; and b) would actually compel Iran into compliance without negotiations?

    If not, then why not negotiate?

    UPDATE: Some of the comments respond by telling me what the hawks want -- a non-nuclear Iran that undergoes a regime change. Hey, I want those things too -- and a free pony.

    This doesn't answer my question, though -- how, exactly, do the hawks plan on attaining these things? I don't think either economic or military coercion will work, unless there's Security Council backing. I don't think a unilateral invasion is publicly or militarily viable. Am I missing something? Why can we offer a peace treaty to North Korea but not talk to Iran?

    I've said it before and I'll say it again -- If the regime in Iran is willing to trade off its WMD program in return for the U.S. abstaining from an active policy of regime change, that's a deal worth making.

    posted by Dan at 12:24 AM | Comments (51) | Trackbacks (0)

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    The White House goes Vizzini on Treasury

    The staff here at defines "going Vizzini" when a person or institution repeatedly uses a word or concept differently that everyone else defines it.

    The White House seems to view the Treasury Secretary as a salesman's job, as opposed to a position where that requires any requisite policy knowledge, expertise, or anything of that nature. At least, that's what I divined from this Financial Times story by Demetri Sevastopulo, Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Caroline Daniel:

    Robert Zoellick, the US deputy secretary of state, is preparing to leave the Bush administration and has held talks with Wall Street investment banks on job options, according to people close to the administration.

    Mr Zoellick, who also served as trade representative during George W. Bush’s first term as president, had hoped to replace John Snow, the Treasury secretary, whose departure has been the subject of constant speculation in Washington.

    A business lobbyist with ties to the White House said Mr Zoellick was leaving the administration. A friend of Mr Zoellick said he told the White House in February of his intention to leave but that his departure was delayed because of his involvement in the Darfur peace negotiations....

    The White House has been seeking to replace Mr Snow with someone who would command more respect on Wall Street, in international financial markets, on Capitol Hill and among the public.

    One influential Republican with close ties to the White House said Mr Zoellick was leaving “soon” because he was not getting the Treasury job. The Republican added that the White House wanted someone who would be a better salesman. Mr Zoellick is more widely admired for his policy knowledge. (emphasis added)

    The truly scary thing about that last paragraph is the White House's belief that one can find a Treasury Secretary who would be a salesman while still commanding respect in the markets. To my knowledge, the only value-added John Snow has brought to the Treasury position has been his willingness to be the Bush administration's salesman -- and I'm pretty sure the markets don't respect him all that much.

    posted by Dan at 11:42 PM | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)

    My question about the stolen veterans' data

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around one aspect of this story regarding the apparent theft of 26.5 million military veterans' personal data (names, social security numbers, and birthdates). According to the New York Times, "[The data] was stolen from the residence of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee who had taken the data home without authorization, the agency said Monday."

    Let's assume there was authorization -- what possible reason would a DVA employee have to take home that kind of data?

    This sort of episode does raise some intriguing questions about supporters of national ID cards or other central registries -- to what extent does the possibility of data piracy negate whatever security gains would be generated by such ideas?

    UPDATE: The VA didn't alert the FBI about the stolen data for two friggin' weeks??!!! What did they think -- it would just show up after looking under the couch cushions?

    posted by Dan at 11:46 AM | Comments (30) | Trackbacks (0)

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    What's the best mass-market paperback novel of the past 25 years?

    So the New York Times polled the literary best and brightest to determine the greatest novel of the past 25 years (It's Beloved, for those who don't want to click through). They've also got an interpretive essay by A.O. Scott, and an online discussion forum with novelists Jane Smiley and Michael Cunningham, critic Stephen Metcalf, a critic, and professor of English Morris Dickstein.

    I must make the following confession upon reading the top five on the list: I haven't read any of them. Jonathan Demme ruined Beloved for me with his execrable film version of it, though if Stephen Metcalf's assessment in Slate is accurate, I'm not sure how much I'd like it anyway:

    What Beloved does feel grounded in, and firmly, is a repudiation of everything that exerts a soft but nonetheless unpleasant authority in a young person's life. In place of the need to master hard knowledge or brute facts, there is folk wisdom; in place of science, animism; in place of the strict father, the self-sufficient matriarchy, first of Baby Suggs', and later Sethe's, house; and finally, in place of a man's world, the hallowed sorority of women, especially women of color—though on this last, Morrison does not insist too heavily.
    Why don't my tastes overlap with the New York Times Book Review? There are a couple of possibilities.

    First, when I flash back to the books that really grabbed me over that span of time, I find I think first of non-American novels -- Salman Rushdie' The Moor's Last Sigh, Milan Kundera's THe Unbearable Lightness of Being, Tibor Fischer's Under the Frog, or Alan Bennett's The Clothes They Stood Up In.

    Second, the American books that come to mind -- Allegra Goodman's Kaaterskill Falls, Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe, Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods -- don't have the sweep of Beloved or Rabbit Angstrom. Meghan O'Rourke -- my latest intellectual crush -- makes this point in her Slate essay on the topic:

    The notion that "small" novels are unworthy of high critical esteem has been especially pervasive of late. Somewhere along the way, the critique of the small novel got bound up with a critique of the well-crafted novel that proliferated with the rise of MFA programs. Even as Gatsby, Lolita, and Rabbit Run (all short novels) entered our canon, the "small" novel became inextricably linked in critic's minds with domestic and generally female novels of the sort that Gail Caldwell, the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic, indicted in a 2003 interview, when she lamented the dire state of American fiction. "There are a great number of contemporary fiction writers who go for the myopic sensitive-heart rending personal blah, blah, blah, blah, blah small novel," she complained, announcing her love of "big brilliant novels" and praising the panoramic skills of Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon. In 2004, after the National Book Award nominees were announced—in an act of apparent rebelliousness, the judges had chosen five short, lyrical books by women, leaving off Philip Roth's Plot Against America—Caryn James wrote in the New York Times that the real problem with the finalists was not that they were unknown, but that they did not write "big, sprawling novels."

    What's been lost in the conflation of "small" and "small-minded" is the recognition that small books can be powerful vehicles for big ideas—to say nothing of powerful examples of aesthetic rigor. In his otherwise astute essay accompanying the Times' list, A.O. Scott succumbed to a form of category confusion when he explained the absence of Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried in the top five by noting that they are "small" books that do not "generalize" but "document"—a peculiar misreading of both novels, which hardly shy away from probing large themes, and do so with metaphoric richness. In fact, plenty of big novels do far more documenting than these two masterpieces....

    Big novels may indeed contain more of the flotsam and jetsam of social reality than shorter novels do. But concision, lyrical intensity (not the same thing as "well-crafted prose"), and metaphorical depth are in principle as aesthetically valuable as expository generalization, sweep, and narrative complexity. Taut perfection may not be the only hallmark of a good novel (the novel has always been an expansive form), but it is surely one of them. It's time that the books we call "small" get a closer look, which would reveal some of them to be as intellectually and artistically ambitious as their fatter counterparts.... When it comes to celebrating the American novel, thinking big is only a form of being small-minded.

    There is a final, possible reason: I like potboilers more than I like highbrow fiction. If I was strapped to a polygraph and had to confess which novel moved me the most in the past 25 years, I'd have to cop to Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs.

    So..... the hardworking staff here at encourages it's readers to submit their choice for the greatest mass-market novel of the past 25 years!! [How is that defined?--ed. Any novel that was popular enough to eventually be released in a mass-market paperback.] My choice is Silence of the Lambs -- let me know yours.

    UPDATE: Ah, this post is perfectly timed to coincide with pulp fiction week at Slate!!

    posted by Dan at 11:09 AM | Comments (69) | Trackbacks (0)

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    The Saudis have some 'splaining to do

    Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House, has a long essay in the Washington Post today on just what Saudi textbooks are saying after they promised to excise some of the more intolerant rhetoric post-9/11:

    A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that, despite the Saudi government's statements to the contrary, an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains in this area of the public school system. The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the "monotheists") and unbelievers (the "polytheists" and "infidels").

    This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to "spread the faith."

    Freedom House knows this because Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident who runs the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs , gave us a dozen of the current, purportedly cleaned-up Saudi Ministry of Education religion textbooks. The copies he obtained were not provided by the government, but by teachers, administrators and families with children in Saudi schools, who slipped them out one by one.

    Some of our sources are Shiites and Sunnis from non-Wahhabi traditions -- people condemned as "polytheistic" or "deviant" or "bad" in these texts -- others are simply frustrated that these books do so little to prepare young students for the modern world.

    We then had the texts translated separately by two independent, fluent Arabic speakers.

    What follows is a sample of some of the translated phrases:

    " Every religion other than Islam is false."

    "Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."


    "Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives."

    "It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam."

    "A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion."


    "As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."


    "Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."

    I have no doubt that this is going to inspire a lot of "The Saudis are not our friends" rhetoric, and I can't say I'm inclined to completely disagree. There is a small part of me, however, that wonders two things:
    1) How much cherry-picking is going on with the quotations?

    2) If one were to go to religious schools in other countries, including the United States, how much rhetoric would one find that would smack of this kind of chauvinism?

    I don't know the answer to either question, but I would be curious.

    posted by Dan at 02:47 PM | Comments (43) | Trackbacks (0)