June 19, 2006


This - on Islam and its relationship with capitalism - is surely an interesting place to kick off a dicussion of Islam's compatibility with free market economics:

Is Islam compatible with modernity? This has become a hotly debated question in the past few decades. Much of the discussion focuses on issues relating to political liberalism -- democracy, pluralism and freedom of thought. Another important dimension of modernity is, of course, economic liberalism.

June 16, 2006

Media Coverage and Terror Attacks Linked in Hyper-Symbiosis

This from the Washington Post (via Instapundit), offers a glimpse of how the media and the terrorists (Jihadists to be precise) are locked in unwittingly:

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

By Richard Morin
Thursday, June 15, 2006; A02

More ink equals more blood, claim two economists who say that newspaper coverage of terrorist incidents leads directly to more attacks.

It's a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a "common-interest game," say Bruno S. Frey of the University of Zurich and Dominic Rohner of Cambridge University.

"Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents," their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money "as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers."

The researchers counted direct references to terrorism between 1998 and 2005 in the New York Times and Neue Zuercher Zeitung, a respected Swiss newspaper. They also collected data on terrorist attacks around the world during that period. Using a statistical procedure called the Granger Causality Test, they attempted to determine whether more coverage directly led to more attacks.

The results, they said, were unequivocal: Coverage caused more attacks, and attacks caused more coverage -- a mutually beneficial spiral of death that they say has increased because of a heightened interest in terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.

One partial solution: Deny groups publicity by not publicly naming the attackers, Frey said. But won't they become known anyway through informal channels such as the Internet?

Not necessarily, Frey said. "Many experiences show us that in virtually all cases several groups claimed responsibility for a particular terrorist act. I would like the same rule that obtains within a country: Nobody can be called a criminal -- in our case a terrorist -- if this has not been established by a court of law."

Below are links to the original source material:

Blood and Ink! The Common-Interest-Game Between Terrorists and the Media is the title of the article by the two authors Bruno S. Frey of the University of Zurich and Dominic Rohner of Cambridge University. (Click on the title to take you to the webpage about the article and authors)


It has often been pointed out in the literature that a symbiotic relationship exists between terrorist groups and the media. As yet, however, no formal model has been built based on this issue and only very little empirical research has been done in this field. The present contribution builds a simple game theoretic model, focussing on the social interactions between terrorists and the media. The model has features of a common-interest-game and results in multiple equilibria. After a discussion of the policy implications of the model, an empirical analysis is performed. Using newspaper coverage, terror incidents and terror fatalities data, it is shown that media attention and terrorism do mutually Granger cause each other, as predicted by the model. Moreover, it is explained why terror attacks tend to be “bloodier” in developing countries than in Europe and the United States.

You can download the pdf of the full article from here.

June 14, 2006

Signs of the Times

My old teacher Hank Hackhammer smuggled this out of the bin recently, so I thought I’d pass it on.
(Warning: some profanity)

Dear Nick (you confused loser), or can I call you Old Nick (hohoho)? Anyways, I’ve been feeling generally pretty durn lucid here in special solitary exceptin your endless derailed shrieking about the ‘global threat’ of the mohammedans or moaning about the Christ-on-a-biking of China or getting all funny in your pants about Sam-let’s-all-be-reasonable-Harris is buzzing in my ears like a freekin skeeter so I figured it was time to try and drag your fizzing shitted-up head out of the latrine of consensus conception, so to speak. You know, I used to think you knew a thing or two about what was really going on down here on the rock splinter – just shows how wrong genuine cosmick jenius like yours tee can get when dosed up good with scopolamine and rat-poison in a lousy state institution, but leaving all that aside, seems sure as 99-and-out you’re needing a refresher on some basic realities, so here goes.
Firstly, you remember that number stuff the Lemurs were on about? Not sure? Well let me offer a quick revision course. Their numbers snuck into the Hell House of the Skygods from the East Orient in time to trigger ‘the Renaissance’ in the bleeding-heartland of the Nazarene ‘round about 1500 oecumenic time – anything coming back? Anyways, as you should know, the spurious screen-esotericism of the pseudo-theists – your man AL Crowley and crew – does some patently bat-shit ‘tree-of-life’ juggling makes it seem there’s numbers 1-to-10 adds to 55 = 10 back to One all nice and cyclo-unitary except it’s obviously just cheap illusionism for ignorant, innumerate and unthinking losers – just about what Europe deserves in fact - you’re getting me so far? So we know ‘underneath’ or one might say ‘esoteric’ if the whole being-able-to-just-see-the-decimal-numerals challenge wasn’t so absolutely incredibly not a challenge but a joke at the expense of theistic dumbasses, including it seems ‘Old Nick 2006’ actually but let’s put that aside as the irrelevance it is, we have instead 0-to-9 = 45 = 9 and suddenly we’re not in the Con-sys anymore, but in fact and quite clearly hearing our girl Khattak telling us about her plans for the near future.
Now at this point I’m hoping you might be having one of those You-reeker moments or at least recalling some stuff that shouldn’t actually be so hard to dredge back given the sanguinary graffiti little Khat’s gone scrawled all over the muthafucken planet in the last few years, but just in case it’s still proving opaque can you at least make an effort to see through to the transparently self-evident here: As the Great Lemur of centrality, finality, totality and concentration Khattak plays with the One-God cults like a cat plays with a mouse. She’s now ambling at a languid pace up to her altar on the soon-to-be nuke-cleansed slab of the Third Temple with the ripped-out heart of the Abrahamic Tradition in her claws and an inscrutable smile on her liberally blood-spattered lips. So, even if or in fact precisely because generalized hysteria is the order of the day would it really be too much to ask of supposed Lemurians that they avoid losing it in the numberless mob? OK, the deluded theists are going berserk again and breeding like roaches in a de-chilled meatstore, it’s what they do - idiot puppetry. But the Thing is, you should know they ain’t holding the strings.

Yours really truly
Uncle Hank

PS. Apologies for writing this to you in the arterial fluids of a dead guard – they don’t gone see fit to provide me with a Splinternet connection.

June 06, 2006


File under 'obvious but true'

Having spent three decades around model builders and reading their studies, I have concluded it is infinitely easier to obtain government funding to build a mathematical model likely to show the need for more government activity and spending rather than less.


Models of the economy have been similarly politicized. During the 1960s and ’70s, Keynesian models were all the rage and received considerable government funding, no doubt partly because most showed more government spending and taxing was good for the economy. By the late 1970s, it became obvious these models were wrong and their prescriptions led to stagflation. The monetarists and supply-siders had answers, but little in the way of government funding was provided for their models, since they tended to show less government taxing and spending had beneficial effects.