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More twitter gratitude: once and future cars, Mozart and more

October 20th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- it's been a long and wonderful day with my younger son, I'm getting sleepy, midnight approaches, and my leaps are getting longer and looser -- g'night! ]
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Flintstones Jetsons cars

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Today was my day to discover Digital Tonto, aka Greg Satell: cause for rejoicing. I can seldom retrace more than a few of my online steps, it’s a nimble dance we do here on the net, but somehow i wound up reading three of his pages before clicking myself off on another leap of faith & inquiry…

How The Future Is Really Built is great on Einstein, Wittgenstein, and all them ‘steins.

The Visceral Abstract begins with this killer paragraph:

Last week, Paul Broun, a US Congressman on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, asserted that evolution, embryology and big bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” A recent Gallup survey suggests that 46% of Americans agree with him.

Why 140 Characters Are Better Than A Flying Car brought me a image of the Jetson’s car, and I started thinking about the Flinstones, and soon I saw at the “once and future” automotive image at the top of this post.

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Okay, let me take off on a tangent here. Digital Tonto writes:

Does a banker with a multimillion-dollar bonus really represent a greater contribution than Tim Berners-Lee or Linus Torvalds?

As for myself, I am biased in favor of Tim Berners-Lee. In the same post, DT also quotes the much tougher to read Martin Heidegger:

However hard and bitter, however hampering and threatening the lack of houses remains, the real plight of dwelling does not lie merely in a lack of houses. The real plight of dwelling is indeed older than the world wars with their destruction, older also than the increase of the earth’s population and the condition of the industrial workers. The real dwelling plight lies in this, that mortals ever search anew for the nature of dwelling, that they must ever learn to dwell.

I believe the difference between “houses” and “dwelling” is a pretty fundamental one, close kin to the difference between denotation and connotation, or the time as pronounced by a mechanical clock, perhaps, and the time uttered by an impassioned, urgent human voice — thing and life, metronome and heartbeat, quantity and quality.

And that’s the great koan again, right there: quantity and quality.

Which brings me by my own leap of logic to Cornelius Castoriadis, and a quote I’ve dropped before:

Philosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table. What does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night. What does this show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let the Mozart’s Requiem be a paradigm of being, let us start from that.” Why could we not start by positing a dream, a poem, a symphony as paradigmatic of the fullness of being and by seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being, instead of looking at things the other way round, instead of seeing in the imaginary — that is, human — mode of existence, a deficient or secondary mode of being?

[ aha, Scott -- the Mozart Requiem! It's already Monday where you are, so I'll just drop in a link to the video this time... ]

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BTW, I’m assisting noted futurist Jamais Cascio editing a book on privacy, currently in prospectus mode, and invite any ZP readers with an interest in the matter, to comment below.

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With gratitude for today’s twitter feast..

October 20th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- high risk furniture -- a single tweet with linked explanation, plus two sets of tweets I'd like to see further explained, explored and examined ]
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First, a single tweet from Max Fisher with a catchy title and link, where the URL provides free access to the article in question..

Single tweets like this with URLs are at the heart of intelligent twitter-use, and twitter #FFs are the curatorial device for honing in on them. But there have also been occasions when a string of tweets sets forth a noteworthy argument or tale, as in:

  • Jenan Moussa twitterstreams ISIS rules
  • Teju Cole on Nairobi: death and birdsong, death and poetry
  • Second, here are four tweets from Phil Arena via Adam Elkus:

    Fascinating ideation here, that I’d love to see developed.

    **

    And much the same goes for these five diagrammatic tweets from Darin Self via Phil Arena:

    These are really on the edge of my comprehension, but then again I quite deliberately read above my pay-grade, believing that old saw of Browning‘s:

    A man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?

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    The new AQ magazine: miracles from Khorasan

    October 20th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- there's a similar report from Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, fwiw ]
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    I have commented before on the use of miracle stories by Abdullah Azzam as quoted in Inspire magazine, and an African equivalent found in Gaidi Mtaani, the Shabaab magazine, to engage the devotion and loyalty of pious troops: Resurgence magazine continues the tradition.

    Hasan Gul

    Here for your edification from the new AQIS magazine Resurgence, are two examples, drawn from the life and martyrdom of Hasan Gul, known to the Washington Post, and likely many ZP readers, as Hassan Ghul.

    The first as to do with the miraculous preservation of his life:

    When Shaykh Khalid Habib, the military head of Al Qaida in Khurasan, was martyred, brother Hasan Gul was with him. The Shaykh (may Allah have mercy on him) was inside the car, while he was standing outside. He had just extended his hand to open the door of the car when a missile fired from a drone hit the car. Allah (swt) miraculously saved his life. He was thrown several feet away by the explosion. His shin bone was fractured as a result. Several days later, when I met him he showed me a coin that had been in the upper pocket of his shirt, just above his heart at the time of the drone attack. A small shrapnel of the missile had hit the coin, because of which the coin had been bent inwards. Allah (swt) prevented the shrapnel from piercing his heart with this small coin. Verily, when Allah (swt) decrees life for His slave, no one can give him death!

    It seems plausible that the same mercy was extended to one of Cromwell‘s soldiers in the English Civil War, if one may trust James Waylen’s 1880 The House of Cromwell and the Story of Dunkirk:

    An account of the pocket-Bible printed by Cromwell’s order for distribution among his men was some time back published by Mr. George Livermore of Cambridge, Massachusets, who possesses one of the only two copies known to exist, the other being in the Brit. Mus. Library. .. That such a book was really in use, we learn from Richard Baxter who relates the story of a soldier receiving a shot near the heart, the fatal force of the bullet being arrested by its lodging in the Bible which he carried in his breast. And a very thin Bible it was too, being comprised in a sheet folded in 16mo. An entire Bible, even in the most compact form then known, would have been far too bulky and far too expensive.

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    The second deals with the pleasant scent that Azzam had previously noted was a mark of the martyr — here’s the same motif as applied to Hasan Gul:

    Last year in October, when he left his house on a motor bike, American drones assassinated him. His body was shredded to bits by a direct missile hit and his remains were scattered over a large area. When some Mujahid brothers reached the site of the attack, they faced the problem of searching for and gathering the bits and pieces of his body. However, Allah (swt) made this task easy for them. A large part of his body was easily found. An ethereal fragrance that was simply not of this world was coming from this dismembered part of his body. This extremely beautiful fragrance was smelt by all the brothers present at the scene. The brothers then decided to locate his body parts with the help of this scent. All the brothers had to do was to follow this fragrance to find a part of his body. All the parts of his body exuded this fragrance without any exception. Thus the fragrance of Hasan Gul’s blood led to the remains of his body. May Allah be pleased with him and grant him the company of the Prophets and the righteous. Ameen!

    Again, I refer you to my post Of war and miracle: the poetics, spirituality and narratives of jihad for comments on similar reports in Catholic and Arthurian literatures.

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    But let’s return briely to that Bible story — there’s really quite an extended history of these reports.

    Consider the American Civil War veteran of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry Division, whose daughter wrote:

    At another time a bullet hit the New Testament he was carrying in his shirt pocket and glanced off. This sweetheart, who later became his wife, had given him the New Testament when he entered the service.

    Or the Army Cyclist Corps despatch rider whose life was saved by a still-extant “combined Bible, prayer book and hymnal” near Arras, France, in 1915:

    bible-saved life

    Or Pfc. Brendon Schweigart, who claims only that when a sniper’s bullet found the Bible in his shirt pocket in Iraq, it:

    definitely prevented more serious injury, because if it wouldn’t have been there, it would have ricocheted off my bullet-proof plate and more than likely would have gone back into my chest, causing more damage.

    Indeed, the “Bible stopped the bullet” tale has enough variants that Mythbusters once tested it with a 400-page Bible, albeit not one with a metal cover…

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    Because, yes, metal-covered Bibles were given to GIs in World War II with the cover inscribed “May this keep you safe from harm” — no doubt with the hope and prayer that if need be, the metal covering would indeed prove a protective “breastplate of righteousness”:

    Heart shield bible

    In fact, the 1943 “Heart Shield Bible” depicted is on sale now on eBay, at a current asking price of $21.49.

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    It’s no dcoubt a bit of a stretch, but I believe that when you “encourage” miracles by providing metallic holy pocket-books for protective use on the battleield, it’s an example of what Max Weber famously called the “routinization of charisma”.

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    The new AQ magazine: Ghazwa e-Hind & more

    October 20th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- while one prong of the AQ jihad marches on Jerusalem, the other has its sights set on India ]
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    Resurgence cover and back

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    Well, you only need to get as far as page 5 in the new, 117-page magazine Resurgence from As-Sahab Media (Subcontinent) — AQ with an eye on India, in other words — to read this:

    The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has saved two groups of my Ummah from the Hellfire: the group that will invade Al Hind (the Subcontinent) and the group that will be with Eesa (A.S), the son of Mariam.” It is also narrated on account of Abu Hurrairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) promised us the conquest of Al Hind (the Indian Subcontinent). If I am able to join it, I will spend on it my wealth and my life. If I am killed, I will be the best of martyrs and if I return, I will be Abu Hurrairah, the freed one (i.e. from Hellfire).”

    That’s the Ghazwa, folks – prong #2 of the end times jihad from Khorasan (for these purposes, roughly speaking Af-Pak), in which a second victorious army sweeps down to take the subcontinent and place its banner atop Delhi’s Red Fort, while the first sweeps westward from the same region to take Jerusalem and much else besides.

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  • Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid is not always taken seriously when he talks about it
  • Ambassador Husain Haqqani however takes it seriously
  • as does Ahrar-ul-Hind
  • The Daily Mail says British intel is on it:
    17Fir08-09.qxp

  • and now, as seen in the para at the top of this post, AQIS makes it a focus of the first edition of its very own magazine
  • There’s a section on Khorasan, too, but I’ll deal with it separately. It’s about miracles.

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    A few more quick notes.

    It is mid-to-late October — and the magazine was announced as “coming soon” in this video from March:

    Note that the video voice over is that of Malcolm X. A quick word search suggests that Malcolm X is not, however, featured in the magazine itself.

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    The magazine at one point quotes Michael Hayden, ex-chief of both NSA and CIA,

    One of the points I am beginning to think through now is that those lines drawn after World War I by Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot don’t matter the way they used to. At the end of this, we may see those lines go away.

    I haven’t been able to find a record of that statement in those words, but Hayden talked about Sykes-Picot at the Jamestown Foundation conference in December 2013, suggesting that the “dissolution of Syria” was one possible, unpleasant scenario to consider. He is quoted elsewhere as saying:

    It means the end of the Sykes-Picot (Agreement), it sets in motion the dissolution of all the artificial states created after World War I .. I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot.

    The Resurgence quote makes it almost sound as though Gen Hayden liked the idea of the Sykes-Picot lines “dissolving”.

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    There’s a page on which Zawahiri takes on the IS / Daesh “caliphate” — addressing the footsoldiers both affiliated and perhaps considering affiliation:

    O’ My Mujahid Brother!

    The order of your ameer does not absolve you of responsibility. No Zawahiri, Jawlani, Hamawi or Baghdadi will be able to absolve you of your responsibility if you ever aggress upon your Mujahid brothers. On the Day of Judgment, each one of them will be in need of someone to save them from accountability ..

    Know that you will die alone, be buried alone, resurrected alone, stand in front of your Lord alone, and be answerable for your actions alone. Your Ameer will not be with you in any of these instances. So prepare yourself for that critical day.

    Let me tell you this: If I were ever to tell you to aggress upon hyour Mujahid brothers, disobey me; for I will be of no avail to you on the Day of Judgment.

    Zawahiri presumably still believes his supporters — in Jabhat an-Nusra eg — can defend themselves if attacked by IS jihadists, though ..

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    There’s probably more to note — as I said, the entire publication runs more than a hundred pages — but those are my first notes.

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    Sunday Surprise: Beethoven’s trousers, stockings & Missa Solemnis

    October 19th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- a DoubleQuote in words from the NYRB with one of the last and greatest Beethoven works -- while I polish up the rest of my posts for the day ]
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    beet-cover-mk
    Beethoven’s britches imagined by Mark Kitaoka for Dallas Symphony Orchestra Beethoven Festival Marketing Dept

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    In The Beethoven Mystery Case, Leo Carey writes:

    Nine hundred and thirty pages into Jan Swafford’s new biography of Beethoven, there is an interesting juxtaposition. After the composer died, in March 1827, his funeral was “one of the grandest Vienna ever put on for a commoner.” Schools were closed. Some 10,000 people crowded into the courtyard of the building where he had lived, then followed the coffin to the local parish church—not, as Swafford has it, to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. (Among the torchbearers was Franz Schubert.) Franz Grillparzer, the leading Viennese writer of the day, wrote a funeral oration. But later that year, when Beethoven’s effects were auctioned off, a lifetime’s worth of manuscripts and sketchbooks fetched prices that Swafford calls “pathetic.” Beethoven’s late masterpiece the Missa Solemnis went for just seven florins. By comparison, his old trousers and stockings sold for six florins.

    The “wild” DoubleQuote implicit in those last two sentences:

  • Trousers and stockings, six florins
  • Manuscript of the Missa Solemnis, seven florins
  • One underlying theme here is the familiar one of quantitative vs qualitative evaluations. Another has to do with the slow arrival of great thought among those unprepared for it.

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    For free, courtesy of YouTube, something I believe is worth just a little more than a suit of clothes .. Sir John Eliot Gardiner brings you the Missa Solemnis.

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