Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Secret society of the week: The Order of Desoms

More from the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions:

This order of deaf men is relatively new compared to most fraternal societies. It was formed in the state of Washington in 1946. The name Desoms is an acronym for deaf sons of master masons. The primary objective of the society is to further the spirit of Friendship among deaf men who are related to Freemasons.

The Masonic Service Association reports in its "Allied Masonic Groups and Rites" that in 1961 the Desoms tried to change their order's name to The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Of Washington, Ancient Delta Guild Free and Accepted Masons of North America. This name change, however, was legally prevented by the Grand Lodge of Washington. The Washington Masons resisted the name change because the Desom society is not a bona fide Masonic group.

The ritual of the Desoms contains one degree, the Initiatory degree, which is given to all eligible members. In order to join the OOD one must be a deaf male of good moral character and be able to show that he is closely related to a Master Mason. Current membership statistics were not available to the writer

What the heck is that all about? Well, as far as I can tell, what's going on here is that one of the "Landmarks" of Freemasonry (the basic principles) is "the rule that candidates for Masonic initiation must be make, free born, of unmutilated body and of mature age". I am suspecting that the Washington lodge didn't allow deaf people to join, and that some of its members had deaf relatives and found this rather unfair. Hence, the Desoms.

The "Masonic Service Association" referred to is also worthy of note - they're basically the "fake Mason cops", who dig up information on people and organisations who try to fraudulently extract fraternal benefits by pretending to be Masons.
17 comments this item posted by the management 3/15/2009 04:04:00 AM

Monday, March 09, 2009

Parables of the crisis, once more

Back in the days when the B+I Line sailed from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire, the ferry crew occasionally used to go on strike. This was inconvenient from a financial point of view, and became steadily more difficult to organise during the 1980s, as various Thatcher-era union laws were brought in. But a tactic that was also used was the "work to rule".

Basically, when a work to rule was declared, the ferry crew would go through every single rule in the company rulebook and ensure that it was obeyed with meticulous precision. Since this was a ferry company, with a rulebook six inches thick, it meant that about two ferries sailed a day. Until the industrial dispute was settled, at which point everyone went back to normal, cutting the corners that it was always tacitly agreed that you'd cut.

Basically, since about half way through last year, the global financial system has been on a work to rule.
29 comments this item posted by the management 3/09/2009 10:01:00 AM

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Secret Society of the week: The Western Bees

I've got hold of a copy of "Fraternal Organisations: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions", and so will be restarting this series, one entry a week... this week ... well, many secret societies have strange and amusing creation myths surrounding the subject of how they got their name, but none quite as odd as ...

The Western Bees

When this fraternal benefit group was first founded in 1905, it began as a secessionist group that once had its charter members belong to the Knights of Maccabees. The society was founded in Grand Island, Nebraska. Initially, the new order wanted to call itself the Western Maccabees, but the parent order protested to the Nebraska Insurance Department. Thus the name Western Bees was selected. The order never achieved much growth, and by 1911 it merged with the Highland Nobles, an Iowa-based fraternal benefit society.

What this was all about was the gradual shift transformation of the fraternal organisations from secret societies into mutual life assurance companies. The Knights of the Maccabees were one of the more successful fraternal benefit orders, but by 1905, they had really begun to downplay the ritual aspects in favour of the insurance business. Hence, the secession of some of the members who wanted a bit more fraternity and secret society fun (also, of course, the Western lodges tended to have a somewhat younger average age, meaning that there was an actuarial conflict built in). The gradual adoption of actuarial science by the fraternal societies, and the significant internal conflicts associated with it, is perhaps a story for another week.
3 comments this item posted by the management 3/08/2009 12:17:00 PM

Friday, March 06, 2009

Episodes from my brief but illustrious civil service career

Paul Krugman has it absolutely right in calling Ted Truman the George Smiley of international economics. I once helped to show him how to get from the Bank of England to Bank tube station.
4 comments this item posted by the management 3/06/2009 04:06:00 PM

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