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Saturday, July 19, 2014


In the film, Philomena (2013), the audience is confronted with the spectacle of unjustifiable cruelty committed under religious auspices. Philomena is this victim, and she must struggle to come to terms with her past ordeal as a young mother at an Abbey as she goes on a search for her son in America. Her traveling companion, Martin, is a journalist writing the story from his perspective as an ex-Catholic. Philomena defends her faith against Martin’s sarcasm even as she comes to terms with just how cruel the nuns had been to her. In the end, she and Martin confront the nuns. The question is how, by which I mean, from what direction? The answer has value in demonstrating how outwardly religious hypocrites can be put in their place.  

The entire essay is at "Philomena"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wall Street’s Maker-Taker Rebate: An Inherent Conflict of Interest

On June 14, 2014, the U.S. Senate Investigations Committee held a hearing on “High-Speed Stock Transactions and Insider Trading.” The issue at hand concerned the payments that wholesale brokers and exchanges make to brokers for going through the brokers and exchanges, respectively. An academic study had found that the broker or exchange that pays the most is not typically the most efficient, and thus in the best interest of the investor. Essentially, the payments give rise to a conflict of interest for the retail broker, who is supposed to put the client’s financial interest first, before his or her own. Is greater disclosure, such as Sen. Levin suggested, sufficient? I contend that a conflict of interest that is inherently unethical warrants complete removal, rather than merely countervailing measures.

The entire essay is at “Maker-Taker Rebate

Monday, July 14, 2014

Israel vs. Gaza: Why Does the World Tolerate Unfair Fights within Countries?

In the very nature of occupation and in particular its attribute of a near-monopoly on military force within a given territory, the superior power is essentially inert to any normative constraints, whether from within or abroad. Such power can be drunk with anger, blatantly ignoring what even allies recognize as blatantly unfair actions. That such power may actually perceive the unfairness as fair to the innocent victims demonstrates just how much cognitive dissonance a human brain consumed with its will to power can muster, let alone tolerate, as a mental shield hiding the naked aggression. To be sure, it takes two to get tangled in a fight, so rarely is either party "the bad guy." Yet major dimensions of a conflict can be sliced and put under the proverbial microscope for close examination. Tolerance for an unfair fight, whether involving a rapist, a school-yard bully, or an occupying state, is problematic in not only the predominant aggressor but also any bystanders. In the case of Israel and Gaza in July 2014, the lopsidedness of the death-tolls stands out, as does the tacit refusal of the international community to step in and stop the fight as a result. 

The full essay is at “Israel vs. Gaza