Each week, I share some of the most interesting articles from the past seven days. Here is this week’s selection. -CA

 

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World & Politics

The Land That Failed to Fail

The world thought it could change China, and in many ways it has. But China’s success has been so spectacular that it has just as often changed the world — and the American understanding of how the world works. There is no simple explanation for how China’s leaders pulled this off. There was foresight and luck, skill and violent resolve, but perhaps most important was the fear — a sense of crisis among Mao’s successors that they never shook, and that intensified after the Tiananmen Square massacre and the collapse of the Soviet Union. (New York Times)

The Triumph of Hindu Majoritarianism

Hindu symbols, refurbished for the twenty-first century, often provide those references. Diwali (a festival of lights, popular among Hindus in north India) becomes an answer to Christmas and the Ramayana (one of the many texts associated with Hinduism) become the answer to the Bible. For many of the losers—in particular young men in India’s small towns and villages for whom globalization and economic growth have brought greater aspirations but not new jobs or a better education—the mass rituals now associated with Hinduism offer communal solidarity. (Foreign Affairs)

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Economics & Business

The Digital Sin City: An Empirical Study of Craigslist’s Impact on Prostitution Trends

Despite the illegality of selling sexual services online, Section 230 of Communications Decency Act shields websites from liability for unlawful postings by third parties. Consequently, websites such as Craigslist have become a haven for prostitution-related ads. With prostitution-related sites still in operation, it is imperative to understand the link between these sites and prostitution trends. Specifically, in this paper, we quantify the economic impact of Craigslist’s entry on prostitution incidence, and identify potential pathways in which the website affects the sex industry. (Information Systems Research)

Universities and industrial strategy in the UK

Universities have an important role in national and regional growth strategies worldwide, as producers of graduates (human capital) and innovation, both key inputs into economic growth. Since the 1990s, in the UK and overseas, there has also been increased focus on the so-called ‘third mission’ of universities, giving them an explicit role in socio-economic development. Based on international data on regional economic growth, it has been shown that an increase in the number of universities in a region is robustly associated with higher GDP. Analysis based on UK universities finds that growth in enrolments appears to generate start-up activity in nearby areas, including in the innovative high-tech sectors. (London School of Economics)

How Our Careers Affect Our Children

The good news in this research is that these features of a parent’s working life are, at least to some degree, under their control and can be changed.   We were surprised to see in our study that parents’ time spent working and on child care — variables often much harder to do anything about, in light of economic and industry conditions — did not influence children’s mental health. So, if we care about how our careers are affecting our children’s mental health, we can and should focus on the value we place on our careers and experiment with creative ways to be available, physically and psychologically, to our children, though not necessarily in more hours with them. Quality time is real. (Harvard Business Review)

The classist vilification of the Black Friday shopper

Black Friday has only become more established, the event and the consumers who support it have been increasingly criticized in recent years. In an age when the privileged have adopted minimalism, these holiday shoppers have been called out for embracing American excess. Critics have also questioned their morals, with the idea gaining ground that they value “stuff” more than family bonding on Thanksgiving. Since research has found that low-income people, minorities, and mothers are more likely to take part in Black Friday sales than other groups, they bear the brunt of this criticism, a combination of classism, racism, and sexism. (Vox)

 

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Science & Technology

The Media Industry and the “Make-Google-Pay” Fantasy

In France, the hazy anti-Google feeling combines with a deep-rooted culture of subsidies — which contributed to severely hinder innovation in the French digital media industry. Now the prospect of yet another bonanza arouses everybody. Publishers fantasize of amounts of 50 to 60 million euros per year coming from the “link tax”. They might be disappointed. (Monday Note)

The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?

“Snowden’s disclosures generated greater Congressional consideration and review, and I see that as a positive, because I think Congress as the legislative branch should be making these decisions,” said Rosenzweig. “Some people see that as a negative, because what has happened is Congress has institutionalized a lot of this. They’ve reviewed this, and they’ve said, ‘No we like the 702 program, and yeah, we’ll fiddle around the edges and cut and trim.’ But I think anyone who was expecting Snowden’s revelations to result in a wholesale de-institutionalization of the intelligence community would be disappointed.” (Ars Technica)

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Culture & History

American Exorcism

Father Vincent Lampert, the official exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, told me in early October that he’d received 1,700 phone or email requests for exorcisms in 2018, by far the most he’s ever gotten in one year. Father Gary Thomas—a priest whose training as an exorcist in Rome was documented in The Rite, a book published in 2009 and made into a movie in 2011—said that he gets at least a dozen requests a week. Several other priests reported that without support from church staff and volunteers, their exorcism ministries would quickly swallow up their entire weekly schedules. (The Atlantic)

First women of philosophy

Some would argue that Mahadevi is not a philosopher at all, that she is operating at, or outside of, the boundary of the discipline. But the Western ‘canon’ of today is, in the first place, based upon many such borderline figures who were not philosophers per se. Augustine of Hippo, for instance, was a bishop, Church Father and a Christian saint. Another canonised Western philosopher is Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic priest, monk and Doctor of the Church. All the women mentioned here are less dogmatic, philosophically speaking, than either Augustine or Aquinas. Finding the boundaries of philosophy is a philosophical question itself: I would submit that any emerging ‘global canon’ of philosophy would do well to include the contributions of the women mentioned here. (Aeon)

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Posted by Carlos Alvarenga

Carlos A. Alvarenga is the Executive Director of World 50 Labs and Adjunct Professor in the Logistics, Business and Public Policy Department at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Smith School of Business.

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