Friday, 29 August 2014

Vegan Documentary Film "Cowspiracy" (my comments on Youtube)

My face on Youtube:

This is a ten minute discussion made with an awareness that most of the people who see it will (i) already be vegan, and (ii) already have seen the film being reviewed.  This is probably not what anyone is expecting to hear from "a political science perspective", nor from a vegan perspective, but I do reflect on what I feel is the core tension of the film; and, for me, it raises familiar questions about the NGO/Charity sector...

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sinomania: Can Anything Justify the Hype about the Chinese Economy?

Why is there so much hype about the Chinese economy?  I’ll mention just one factor among many: people don’t want to believe they’re living in a world where the rich get richer, while the poor are trapped in poverty.  The idea that China is suddenly becoming more affluent than Japan appeals to a (false) sense of upward mobility, on a massive scale.

The chart above (that I made myself) shows the I.M.F. projections for 2013–2017, GDP per capita at PPP.  China isn’t catching up with Japan.  In fact, China isn’t even catching up with poverty-stricken Chile.

Wealth, Poverty and the Perception of Corruption

When Transparency International first started publishing their corruption index, I hoped that it would spark other innovations in measuring corruption that would soon make it obsolete.  That never happened (click), and so it remains an important (if imperfect) measurement, with very little competition to compare it to.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

How the Beatles Influenced Buddhism (via "T.M.")

[Question:] A bit of a flippant question, so I won't be offended if you don't want to stir this particular pot any longer... but why do you think there's such a strange passion among westerners to believe that eastern religions are not religions?

[My reply:] I think it's a very meaningful question (and I'm not offended by it at all)…

The packaging of Buddhism for western consumption has tried a variety of strategies, some sui generis, and some in direct response to other precedents (and competition from other religious groups, making the leap from East to West).

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Combat Jack Identifies as Buddhist

In the midst of a long discussion of the politics of ethnicity in the United States, Combat Jack snubs Charlamagne by pointing out that his reasoning supposes that everyone is Christian; in reply, Charlamagne asks if Jack is an atheist.  No, instead, Combat Jack identifies as Buddhist (audio link below).