Happy Blasphemy Tunesday!

Blasphemy: the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God (source)

There was a point where committing blasphemy got you burned at the stake, stoned, etc. In fact there are still places today where this happens, and even in the supposedly-civilized world the days of being immolated because you insult someone’s prophet are not that far behind us.

Artists are often the ones who push the boundaries of what is and is not blasphemous, and for that reason they are often the ones facing death threats for their daring. Salmon Rushdie was at the forefront of the Islamist collision with western values as a result of a small passage in his book The Satanic Verses. A Roman Catholic group firebombed a Paris theater showing Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, and it’s still banned today in a few countries. Things are dangerous enough for real artists creating real art without Rev. Terry Jones and his ilk intentionally making things worse.

Today, S&R highlights quality music that is blasphemous in the “showing contempt for God” sense (as opposed to the “showing contempt for the believers and institutions of God”). If you’ve got a favorite, please let us know in the comments.

Let’s kick off this tour with a little XTC:


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More on Why Nations Fail: What about the United States?

In our last post we discussed our generally favorable impression of Damon Acemoglu and James Robinson’s Why Nations Fail. As we indicated, we’re not economic historians or political economists, so we’re not quite in a position to pass judgment on the relative merits of A&R’s arguments. But they seem to explain quite a lot about the historical development of countries purely in terms of their economic and political systems, irrespective of cultural and environmental considerations. As we indicated, we don’t necessarily think this precludes multi-layered explanations, but we give A&R points for trying to develop a relatively straightforward theory about why some countries are rich, and some countries are poor.
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Announcing a new policy: I'm going to slap you in the lips.

I had a small disagreement with a hotel yesterday.

I had booked for three nights, but a change of plans required me to cut the trip short and come home a day early. As the clerk was processing the change, she said that she’d be refunding the third night, minus a “15% administrative fee.” Now, I know that changes like this don’t manage themselves magically, and I understand that I was inconveniencing them a tad, so I didn’t put up a fight. However, I won’t be back. Continue reading