Negroponte must go

by Ted on May 6, 2004

I don’t have much to say about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners that isn’t obvious; I’m just another guy who’s depressed and heartsick at the images on my screen. Just one point:

I don’t know what the Administration was thinking when they appointed John Negroponte, infamous for his role in Honduras in the 80s, as the ambassador to the new Iraq. I don’t know what they thought he could accomplish. I have my suspicions, but they might be unfairly colored by my general impression of the Administration.

At this point, hopes are irrelevant. Negroponte will be a massive detriment to the mission in Iraq. His story will be told again and again in the Arab press, and he will be a crystallizing symbol for anti-American forces who don’t believe in American goodwill. If the Administration wants to demonstrate its concern for the hearts and minds of Iraq, it will be necessary to find a replacement for Negroponte. (Among others.)

UPDATE: Tim Dunlop beat me to this point. The more, the merrier.

UPDATE: As is usually the case, Dwight Merideth has some thoughts that are well worth reading.

UPDATE: More from Jacob Levy on Rumsfeld:

Whatever credibility Rumsfeld had left has now been fatally undermined. It’s time to demand that he take responsibility and resign; he can no longer do his job anyways. The failure of the White House to understand that seems to be tied to a sense that, while Bush can judge Rumsfeld, no one else has any business doing so. Utterly obtuse.

Or maybe weaseled out of military duty. Naw, that’d be puissant quit-scutage majeur. So I think the following definitely supports John’s point. Maybe.

Never forget that tenure by sochemaunce seisined by feodo copyholds in gross and reseisined through covenants of foeffseignory in frankalpuissance –

The Plain People of Ireland: That sounds like dirty water being squirted out of a hole in a burst rubber ball.

– is alienable only by droit of bonfeasaunce subsisting in free-bench coigny or in re-vested copywrits of seisina faci stipidem, a fair copy bearing a 2d. stamp to be entered at the Court of Star Chamber.

Furthermore, a rent seck indentured with such frankalseignory or chartmoign charges as may be, and re-empted in Mart Overt, subsists thereafter in graund serjaunty du roi, eighteen fishing smacks being deemed sufficient to transport the stuff from Lisbon.

The Plain People of Ireland: Where do the fishing smacks come in?

Myself: Howth, usually.

The Plain People of Ireland: No, but what have they got to do with what you were saying?

Myself: It’s all right. I was only trying to find out whether ye were still reading on. By the way, I came across something very funny the other night in a public house.

The Plain People of Ireland (chuckling)
: What was it?

Myself: It was a notice on the wall. It read: ‘We have come to an arrangement with our bankers. They have agreed not to sell drinks. We, on our part, have agreed not to cash cheques.’

The Plain People of Ireland: O, Ha Ha Ha! Ho Ho Ho! (Sounds of thousands of thighs being slapped in paroxysms of mirth.)

Myself: Good. I knew that would amuse you.1

1 Myles na Gopaleen (Flann O’Brien), The Best of Myles

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Fallacy of the Commons

by John Quiggin on May 6, 2004

Like Jon Mandle, I was repulsed by Garrett Hardin’s 1974 article Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor. The idea that large sections of humanity were doomed and should be abandoned forthwith was quite popular at the time. The Paddock brothers prominently advocated a policy of “triage”, cutting off aid immediately to countries like India which were, they argued, doomed to starvation in any case. Judging by this 1996 interview, Hardin (who died last year) didn’t change his views much over time.

Having reacted against this piece by Hardin, I was glad to discover that his more famous contribution to the environment debate, the Tragedy of the Commons was, in historical terms, a load of tripe.

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What we don’t notice…

by Chris Bertram on May 6, 2004

There’s “a nice little piece in today’s Telegraph”:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2004/05/05/ecfgorilla05.xml&pos=portal_puff1&_requestid=347199 about the psychology of visual perception and how we fail to notice all kinds of things because our attention is directed in particular ways (of course conjurors have always exploited this). The article refers to the striking gorilla-suit experiment:

bq. Working with Christopher Chabris at Harvard University, Simons came up with another demonstration that has now become a classic, based on a videotape of a handful of people playing basketball. They played the tape to subjects and asked them to count the passes made by one of the teams.

bq. Around half failed to spot a woman dressed in a gorilla suit who walked slowly across the scene for nine seconds, even though this hairy interloper had passed between the players and stopped to face the camera and thump her chest.

bq. However, if people were simply asked to view the tape, they noticed the gorilla easily. The effect is so striking that some of them refused to accept they were looking at the same tape and thought that it was a different version of the video, one edited to include the ape.

There’s also a link to a “page where you can watch the gorilla video”:http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/media/dailytelegraph.html . (For that video on its own go “here”:http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/grafs/demos/15.html .)