Saturday Links for the Week — July 22, 2006

iraq death squads
Two recent victims of Iraq death squads, via Reuters/Namir Noor-Eldeen

How Not to Solve the Violence in the Middle East:
A fascinating article in today’s NYT invites 7 ‘experts’ to suggest first steps to resolve the exploding violence in Lebanon. The result is seven completely unworkable recommendations — and the bigger the name, the more incompetent the proposal. This article should be required reading for (a) anyone studying Lakoff’s theory of irreconcilable frames, (b) anyone seriously interested in learning why the endless Mideast war is so intractable, (c) advocates of employing The Wisdom of Crowds instead of useless ‘experts’ and (d) anyone who wants to understand why simple solutions never, ever work to resolve complex problems. Complexity theorists will immediately understand that both sides in the escalation are doing precisely what they must. They have no alternative, and these ‘experts’ are asking them to do something utterly different. They might as well ask them to fly to the moon. Spare us from ‘experts’ of all stripes, please.

Cutting Through the Bush Bafflegab: Two articles from Salon decipher the latest Orwellian newspeak from the Bushies. Brad DeLong explains that the ‘surprise’ deficit reduction is neither a surprise nor a significant or real reduction, with virtually no impact on the skyrocketing overall debt. And Andrew Leonard explains that the headlines fed to the hapless MSM about ‘slowing consumer borrowing‘ disguised an alarming shift from mortgage to even riskier credit card debt as the housing bubble teeters and consumers run out of home collateral.

Chronicling Iraq’s Slide into Civil War: The first of an enlightening three part insider report from Phillip Robertson, also via Salon, describes the collapse of civil order and what was left of trust in public and security institutions in Iraq.

Satire from a ‘Reasonable Conservative’: Jon Swift’s deadpan satire is even better than Colbert’s. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Bill McKibben on Cuba’s Agricultural Transformation: McKibben, writing in Harper’s, provides a detailed and very even-handedanalysis of how Cuba, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, rediscovered community-based, largely organic agriculture because it had no other choice. Lots of useful lessons here. Thanks to Eric Lilius for the link.

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2 Responses to Saturday Links for the Week — July 22, 2006

  1. lugon says:

    How would you (practically) use the wisdom of crowds to “solve” flu pandemic preparedness? Or is it just a silly question?I guess (wiki) and (forum) just don’t cut it. We need something else. What would that “something else” look like?

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    (I wrote lugon off-line to say how much I admire, and what an important informational role it provides. If you haven’t discovered it yet, check it out.)

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