Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fiat currency is not permissable for Muslims. Bitcoin is.

I am definitely not an Islamic jurist. But I've probably logged a few hundred hours of conversation with pretty savvy Muslims. I teach English as a Second Language, and I've come to believe that most money is haram (forbidden), even if the average savvy Muslim (just like the average savvy non-Muslim) doesn't understand the global monetary system well enough to be offended by it.

If you ask a Muslim student (well, at least my Muslim students), there are no Muslim governments on earth. My Muslim students look down on all the "Muslim" kings and presidents of the current Arab world, saying they have all given into a form of capitalism that is strictly forbidden by Islam.

"Riba", or interest, is their key complaint. A Jordanian/Emirati student of mine has told me stories of the boom-bust cycles in Dubai, entailing speculation-unto-insanity and consequent tricky government intervention that even a jaded American would gasp at, and he blamed it on the greedy monarchs abandoning the will of Allah for personal gain.

Apparently, Islam does not permit interest. This is why you find "Islamic Banks" in London.

These banks cater to traditional Muslims by figuring out ways to serve their customers without charging interest. They will, for example, construe a loan as an investment in a business, wherein the bank possesses a non-controlling stake. This way a businessman can receive capital to expand his business, and the bank can (on average) profit, without reckoning things according to the time value of money.

This is halal (permissible).

Here's the problem, as I see it:

While the Islamic Bank of Britain offers no-interest loans to its observant customers, it still offers these loans denominated in British pounds. Where do these pounds come from? The Bank of England. At an interest rate of 0.5%.

Now the Muslim observant usually don't take their due diligence so far as understanding the horrifyingly obfuscated realm of monetary policy, just as some vegetarians eat skittles without asking where the gelatin comes from. To understand the whole world of human events that enmeshes you is an inhumanly difficult thing these days, and Allah knows what Congolese wars I've supported with the occasional unwitting grocery store purchase.

But if we were to do our inhuman feat of diligence, and examine all things, I think that we would find bitcoin to be the leading, most stable halal currency the world has got right now.

And that's something that I think bitcoin adopters and banking-aware Muslims should be telling their friends.

High Communion/Low Complaint Relationships

There's a Christian dude, I don't know how I found him, who's a professor at Texas Christian University and a thoughtful writer. When I found his blog, I had stumbled across a brilliant article where he was contrasting Rousseau and Hobbes and saying that parents' breastfeeding behaviours were are a good proxy for whether they believed man is a beast that needed taming or man is a pure and perfect thing that gets fucked up when we bend it out of its nature.

Anyways, another great idea that Professor Richard Beck had is that of "Winter Christians". Beck believes that a 1-dimensional spectrum between the extremes of "totally faithful" and "totally faithless" is oversimplistic. He contrives a two-dimensional graph, with one axis indicating a person's level of communion, and the other axis showing their level of complaint. Now, Beck reasons, we have a model that can adequately describe himself and King David as "Winter Christians", being people who are obedient to God and in love with him, but also wrestle with everything and bitch a lot.

I would fall squarely in the bottom rightmost corner. I have zero communion with God, and high complaint. I'm an atheist.

As such, I'd like to scandalously appropriate Mr. Beck's model to talk about something he didn't mean it for: having sex with multiple women.

I have two girlfriends. I have my wife, Megan, and my other girlfriend Wrae. Wrae and Megan are both amazing. They also both see through my shit. They're not bedazzled by me, or googly-eyed. We have talks about our needs. They push back. They see me as an equal. We wrestle and resent. Plus WOW we love.

I was talking to Wrae about how what I want now is a third woman who's really easy going. I want a really easy fun relationship. Wrae said there are no such things. There are. I've had them.

Now it may be said that super-high communion relationships will always have a hefty degree of complaint. That could be true, I don't know. I think Wrae would argue that. It could also be said that the throes of infatuation may produce a high communion/low complaint relationship for a moment, but that it's inherently unstable. Also possibly true.

But that's what I'm after. Call me.