Daily Office:


Matins: Far be it from me to natter on about the Kurds — the largest ethnic group in the world without a country of its own. Farther still to crow, “I told you so,” as Kathleen reminds me every day that I could. I’m simply relieved to read this (accent on the third paragraph):

The Kurds are resisting, underscoring yet again the depth of ethnic and sectarian divisions here and the difficulty of creating a united Iraq even when overall violence is down. Tension has risen to the point that last week American commanders held a series of emergency meetings with the Iraqi government and Kurdish officials, seeking to head off violence essentially between factions of the Iraqi government.

“It’s the perfect storm against the old festering background,” warned Brig. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, who oversees Nineveh and Kirkuk Provinces and the Kurdish region.

Worry is so high that the American military has already settled on a policy that may set a precedent, as the United States slowly withdraws to allow Iraqis to settle their own problems. If the Kurds and Iraqi government forces fight, the American military will “step aside,” General Thomas said, rather than “have United States servicemen get killed trying to play peacemaker.”

Tierce: Two pieces about decision-making — on the OpEd page! Let me know if the piece about “Undecideds” by Sam Wang and Joshua Gold, of Princeton and Penn, tells you something you didn’t know. But don’t miss David Brooks on what he calls “the coming-out party for behavioral economists.”

Sext: Do I really need two computers?* Yes, and Lance Arthur reminds me why.

You can always remove yourself from it by choice, for sure. Go on computer vacation and never check e-mail (unless you have an iPhone) and never get WiFi access in your hotel room and never worry about what’s going on the world at CNN.com or NYTimes.com or the blogs you regularly check or the friends who live — at least partially — online. Frankly, I’ve tried it and it sucks. It’s too much a part of my life now, rather than a peripheral of it. I rely on my computer and the web to be part of my life, and when the familiarity of my own computer is taken away from me, even when it’s replaced by another one, I am left lost and forlorn.

* Two computers that I use every day, with most apps loaded on both.


§ Matins. The real Kurdish problem isn’t in Iraq. It’s in Turkey, where Kurds occupy a great swath of the country’s eastern tier — including the hydroelectrically important headwaters of the Tigris and the Euphrates. But our misadventure in Iraq has destabilized Mesopotamia beyond Abdullah Öcalan’s wildest dreams.

§ Tierce. No sooner do we get used to the idea that man is not a rational animal (d’oh) — and that, therefore, the economics of self-interest may not be as straightforward as the slide-rule set liked to think — than we’re told that the real problem is that we’re really good at tuning out problems that we don’t want to deal with. Shocked, shocked Alan Greenspan would certainly merit the Nobel Prize for Vigilant Ostrichism, if there were one.

§ Sext. Over the summer, I half-consciously fell into the practice of writing on my laptop, uploading the raw material to a server via FTP, and then downloading same to the desktop, for editing. The mere act of reviewing what I’ve written in another room (“environment”) makes me a sharper editor as well. Allowing time to intervene is also a good idea.

3 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Yvonne says:

    Re article on Undecideds: No…I’m with David Sedaris in his New Yorker piece.

    If you haven’t read it, you can Google his name along with “is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked”.

  2. Nom de Plume says:

    Yvonne: I’ve conjured up that phrase (and the query that preceded it) in conversation numerous times since reading it. Poifection!

    RJ: No wonder I got a C in Economics at Smith, only to be a pretty good amateur one on Wall Street. Making people make rational sense just didn’t make sense to me.

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