Amity Doolittle Home

Ξ August 31st, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

The homepage of Dr. Doolittle.


Ian Angus, &The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons&

Ξ August 31st, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

    Why Does the Herder Want More?

    Hardin's argument started with the unproven assertion that herdsmen always want to expand their herds: "It is to be expected that each herdsman will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons. . . . As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain."

    In short, Hardin's conclusion was predetermined by his assumptions. "It is to be expected" that each herdsman will try to maximize the size of his herd -- and each one does exactly that. It's a circular argument that proves nothing.

    Hardin assumed that human nature is selfish and unchanging and that society is just an assemblage of self-interested individuals who don't care about the impact of their actions on the community. The same idea, explicitly or implicitly, is a fundamental component of mainstream (i.e., pro-capitalist) economic theory.

    All the evidence (not to mention common sense) shows that this is absurd: people are social beings, and society is much more than the arithmetic sum of its members. Even capitalist society, which rewards the most anti-social behavior, has not crushed human cooperation and solidarity. The very fact that for centuries "rational herdsmen" did not overgraze the commons disproves Hardin's most fundamental assumptions -- but that hasn't stopped him or his disciples from erecting policy castles on foundations of sand.

    Even if the herdsman wanted to behave as Hardin described, he couldn't do so unless certain conditions existed.

    There would have to be a market for the cattle, and he would have to be focused on producing for that market, not for local consumption. He would have to have enough capital to buy the additional cattle and the fodder they would need in winter. He would have to be able to hire workers to care for the larger herd, build bigger barns, etc. And his desire for profit would have to outweigh his interest in the long-term survival of his community.

    In short, Hardin didn't describe the behavior of herdsmen in pre-capitalist farming communities -- he described the behavior of capitalists operating in a capitalist economy. The universal human nature that he claimed would always destroy common resources is actually the profit-driven "grow or die" behavior of corporations."

Some good references as well:


BEFORE I DIE I WANT TO… a polaroid project by nicole kenney and ks rives…

Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Arts |

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Because there can never be enough personal revelation/aspirational art sites on the interwebs any more than there can ever be enough LOLCats.

It seems the most popular things people want to do before they die are: LIVE!, love, travel, sky-dive... oh, and



Strong reciprocity from “The Origin of Wealth”, by Eric D. Beinhocker &…

Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

    Human beings are neither the pure-hearted, altruistic creatures of Rousseau, nor the heartless, selfish creatures of Hume.

Which sounds like it may have been inspired by this piece of Situationist graffiti from the 1968 Paris revolt.

    "Man is neither Rousseau's noble savage nor the Church's or La Rochefoucauld's depraved sinner. He is violent when oppressed, gentle when free."


In August 2002, seven months

Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

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    In August 2002, seven months after Maduro's War began, I went to visit Rebeca and her daughters in La Lima. They had moved to a new house, and Sabrina came to meet me at the town square to take me there. I followed her through the streets of La Lima in a direction I hadn't expected to go. "You are living in La Mesa again?" I asked incredulously. "But what about the gangs?" After Sabrina and Omarito had been shot by the carro asesino in February 2000, Rebeca had barred her children from entering La Mesa--the poorest and most dangerous barrio in town (despite the fact that they had been attacked in one of the wealthier neighborhoods). At that time Rebeca's daughters had described La Mesa to me by quoting the saying "Entre si quiere, salga si puede" ("Enter if you want, leave if you can"). In addition to its problems with poverty and violence, La Mesa abuts territory belonging to the San Pedro Sula International Airport, the fields of which have been engineered to drain straight into that barrio during heavy rain. Flooding occurs nearly every year in La Lima, with low-lying La Mesa getting the brunt of it, its rivers of aguas negras (raw sewage) mixing freely with floodwaters.

    In response to my query, Sabrina told me the gangs weren't a problem these days. I asked when the last flood had hit. "Last year. The water was up to here for six days" she said, drawing a line across her chest. Sabrina's family lost all their furniture yet again. In my notebook I jotted down, "sometimes I wonder why they don't just give in and go plastic."

    At the house, I tried to get a better explanation of how La Mesa had become safe. I wrote in my field notes:

    I asked Rebeca how things were around the barrio and she told me that they were tranquilo, much better than before, that Maduro's "Zero Tolerance" policy had worked, that there were no more gangs here. The problem now, she said, is with the [new wave of U.S.] deportees. "But how can that be?" I asked her. "There were so many gang members. What happened to them all?"

    R: They killed them all.

    A: Who? Who killed them all?

    R: The same group of people killed all the different gangs.

    A: But who were they?

    R: A private group. Nobody knows. Everybody sees them do it, but nobody knows who did it. And they're in league with the police.

    Rebeca told me how once the year before, her son Omarito had been hanging out with some friends at a neighborhood store when they were stopped by two armed men. All three of the boys were told by the men to lift their shirts. On seeing that he (and the others) had no tattoos, the gunmen said to Omarito "te salvaste chico," ("you saved yourself kid") indicating that had it been otherwise, he would not have survived. Neither Sabrina's bullet wound nor this episode shook Rebeca's faith in cero tolerancia. It was, according to her, Sabrina, and everyone else I asked subsequently, an unequivocally good thing that these neighborhood children, many of whom had retained good relations with Rebeca and her family, had been slaughtered for the sake of security.

    Still incredulous at the radical change in a town I had once found familiar, I persisted:

    A: All of them? They killed every single one?

    R: Yes, they're all gone.

    A: What about la negra, the one who was in la Dieciocho?

    R: Ah, that Melisa ... Melisa moved to San Pedro when they started killing them all. She started going to church and everything.

    A: [excited] So she didn't get killed!

    R: No. They went and found her. They killed her too.

From: Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras


Upside Down World – Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival…

Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |


    I never got to knaow Melisa very well. I first saw her on August 7th, 1997. I was eating tajadas (crispy fried plaintains) at a small neighborhood restaurant with Rebeca's daughter Vanesa and Vanesa's friend Elysa. An androgynous black girl with a shaved head wearing a t-shirt that read "O.J. 100% NOT GUILTY" in African National Congress colors came in. Elysa, whose boyfriend had been deported from the U.S. for gang activity, flinched. "She's a Dieciocho," she told me. "Everybody's afraid of la negra." The girl sat down by herself and ate her tajadas contentedly.

    Later, I asked Rebeca about Melisa. Rebeca knew all the gang kids. "They respect me," she had told me on various occasions. "I've known them all since they were this tall" (motioning close to the ground). Rebeca said that Melisa had suffered physical and sexual abuse and had been abandoned by both of her parents. Her participation in the gang, according to Rebeca, was understandable--as opposed to the other kids, who Rebeca said were just making trouble. There are many such exceptions to the rule that gang members are "evil." I was often surprised by the failure of the many examples of personal victimization to change the general understanding of gangs as inscrutably savage.

    In January 1999, I was again in La Lima. Hurricane Mitch had struck Honduras a few months earlier, and La Lima was one of the places hardest hit. Piles of sand had been left on the side of the road by the municipality to absorb the excess liquid, but in typical Lima government fashion, nobody had moved the sand onto the roads themselves in the months since they had been delivered. One afternoon around dusk, I was busy working on a photo essay involving a toy monkey, a pre-Columbian relic, and one of these piles of sand, when I was startled by two teenage boys I recognized as neighborhood gang members. I became nervous, having been warned time and again about being robbed or attacked by these children. I grabbed my camera more tightly and said hello.

    "What are you doing?" one of them asked. I told them I was taking a picture.

    "Do you need help?" the other asked.

    I answered "well, yes," and let them position Sancho, as Sabrina and I had earlier dubbed the anthropomorphic figurine she had found after the hurricane, in the sand. They seemed to find this wildly amusing. As I continued back to the house I chatted with them. We discussed the standard neutral topics--the mud, the weather, where I was staying. "Oh yes," they told me, "we know Doña Rebeca." A group of their friends was playing a few streets down, Melisa among them.

    "You're taking pictures?" she yelled. "Take a picture of me! Look! I am Dieciocho! Take a picture of me in my shirt!" She turned around to model her basketball tunic with the number 18 on the back and beamed as I took her picture. After that, whenever I saw her around town, we would both smile and say hello.

(continues in next post)


Not&237;cias de uma Guerra Particular (1999)

Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

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The companion documentary to the film Cidade de Deus (City of God): it uses clips, almost entirely without commentary or input from the film makers to show the constant war that day to day existance consists of in the favelas of Rio.

Life on the fringes of the neo-liberal empire: coming to a country near you soon.


  • Short lifespan in Rio drug gangs -- BBC "As many as one-fifth of youths in the drug gangs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are killed within two years, usually by police, a new study has indicated."

  • DOCUMENTARIO FAVELA RIO DE JANEIRO -- A short (5 minute) film narrated by favela residents

  • Favela wars -- "The violence spilling out of Brazil's slums or 'favelas' has made the country's two major cities more dangerous than most war zones. Children in Rio de Janeiro are eight times more likely to die violently than those in the West Bank. "They live on a kill or be killed basis," states anthropologist Luke Dowdney, who has spent five years studying the favelas. "If they don't kill someone when they're told to, they will be killed."


there is

Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

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I've just decided it might be fun to use SU to catalogue my movie collection. If only there were a standard site containing a large number of movies that I could thumb to create it. Oh, wait, there is!

Could take a while of course, since I actually have somewhere in the region of 1000 or so; and that before I even get onto the ones I have seen but don't own.

What a merry jape 😀


The Corporation Film: Welcome

Ξ August 20th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Uncategorized |

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Not flying but falling.

on youtube


English Russia & Odessa Street Art

Ξ August 19th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Arts |

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