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On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eleven

Friday, October 21st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — graphical thinking really has pretty much permeated the tech end of our culture at this point ]

Two more examples of graphics — in the double sense of the word, or graphics squared if you like, where graphs, in the node and edge mathematical & network sense are used within graphics, in the visual or illustrative sense:

The first comes from a page on Carnegie Europe’s Strategic Europe blogpost titled Cyberspace and the World Order:


The second is from the Eventbrite invite to The Future of Cybersecurity: A Conversation with Admiral Mike Rogers at Georgia State University on Moday 24th at 10am, courtesy of John Horgan.



From a graphic (visual) perspective, the symbolic content is in each case interesting, and I’d be glad to read any comments on why, for instance, there’s a honeycomb hex grid in the upper image, and why the information flow is so much more curvaceous after the lock than before it (assuming a left-to-right reading in temporal sequence) — and in the lower image, why some of the nodes and edges are slowly getting stained red (and here I’m guessing an epidemiological image for the spread of a virus).

From a graphic (graph as potential HipBone game board) perspective, the upper graph doesn’t offer a game board as I envisage them, but the lower one certainly does, albeit this would be a complex game, with the sizes of nodes and lengths of edges to be taken somehow into account.


Earlier in this series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: preliminaries
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: two dazzlers
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: four
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: five
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: six
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: seven
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: eight
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: nine
  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: ten
  • Downward Spiral as a pattern in conflict — do we study it?

    Friday, October 21st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a thoroughly impertinent riff on that saying of von Moltke ]

    Hw many places could this sentence be applied to?

    But the latest attacks, which appear to have been several months in the preparation, threaten to draw the entire population into a downward spiral of deadly confrontations, violent crackdowns by the security forces and toxic relations between local communities and the authorities.

    It happens to come from an article about the Rohingya, Richard Horsey‘s Reality bites for Aung San Suu Kyi amid surging violence from the Nikkei Asian Review.

    But how many other places might such a sentence apply to?

    I ask this because we tend to focus on certain words in a sentence like this: attacks, preparation, threat, population, deadly confrontations, violent crackdowns, security forces, local communities, the authorities. Those are the forces in play, if you will. But their play follows the rules of a certain game, and that game is also named in the sentence.

    Its name is downward spiral.


    vatican-spiralSpiral staircase, the Vatican, Rome


    What I want to suggests that we might learn a great deal if we shifted our attention from attacks, preparation, threat, population and the rest, and thought about spiral.

    Spiral is the form that the attacks, preparation, threat, population and the rest — here and in those other places — takes, and as such it’s an archetype that underlies them, not just among the Rohingya, their Buddhist compatriots and Aung San Suu Kyi, but across the globe and through time itself.

    Spiral as a pattern in conflict — do we study it?


    If, as I suppose, von Moltke can be translated as saying, “no operating concept survives contact,” it would seem we may need to conceptualize contact, ie the complexity of relations, rather than operations, which are far more focused on us — how we “will prevent conflict, shape security environments, and win wars” — than on conflict and wars, both of which are minimally two-party affairs.

    And I’m not trying to say anything so terribly new here, just to give fresh phrasing to Paul Van Riper‘s comment:

    What we tend to do is look toward the enemy. We’re only looking one way: from us to them. But the good commanders take two other views. They mentally move forward and look back to themselves. They look from the enemy back to the friendly, and they try to imagine how the enemy might attack them. The third is to get a bird’s-eye view, a top-down view, where you take the whole scene in. The amateur looks one way; the professional looks at least three different ways.


    sintra-castle-spiral-credit-joe-daniel-price-740x492Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal, credit Joe Daniel Price


    The sentence immediately preceding the one from the Nikkei Asia article I quoted above will hopefully illuminate hope in a pretty desperate situation:

    The majority of this community and its religious leaders continue to eschew violence.


    Image sources:

  • Both spiral images from the Top 10 Spiral Architecture page
  • Hinnary, or: Google Image Search, meet Hillary Clinton

    Thursday, October 20th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — artificial intelligence at the intersection of religion and politics ]

    Our own J Scott Shipman posted what I term a DoubleQuote on Facebook this morning, offering a juxtaposition of politician Hillary Clinton and preacher Benny Hinn:


    I’ve enlarged it and cropped it lengthwise to give you a proper appreciation of the comparison.



    Okay, I thought, Scott’s doing an informal DoubleQuote, let me see if I can find the two images and rework them into one of my regular DoubleQuote formats. Only it wasn’t that easy. The only versions of the Hinn photo I could find were too small for my format, and the Hillary image wasn’t a photo but a screencap from a video — I could find a similar screencap from another TV channel, but not the exact one Scott had found.

    As you’ve seen above, I finally settled for cropping and enlarging the image Scott had provided — but along the way I ran across another instance of the intelligence of artifice — in this case, Google Image Search’s recognition technology:


    Ah — but spokesperson for what or whom?


    I’m relieved to say that while Google is in general a brilliant, cutting-edge, genius of a search engine, it’s clearly not following the current Presidential race with any enthusiasm.

    You see that lady? She’s one of the candidates, and she was on several TV channels and online streaming sites just last night.

    There’s another candidate, who probably looks pretty much the same to you:


    I don’t think my telling you all this will make you more artificially intelligent — but it might make you a little better informed about current affairs.

    DoubleQuoting Blake on Guinea and Sun

    Thursday, October 20th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — an appendix to The importance of Albrecht Dürer ]

    On two separate occasions Blake compares a guinea (a coin worth one pound and one shilling) and the sun:


    In the quote above, we see things as they appear “to the eyes of a miser”, while in that below, we see them through the eyes of the Poet:


    Blake continues that second quote, by saying “I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight: I look thro it & not with it.” Hence my distinguishing between “as they appear” in the miser’s eyes and “through” the poet’s eyes..


    The two quotes, taken together, freshly demonstrate the gulf between the two views so forcefully expressed in the second — the topic of my earlier post, The importance of Albrecht Dürer

    The importance of Albrecht Dürer in grokking ISIS

    Thursday, October 20th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — because the world of the jihadists resembles Dürer’s more than it does our own? ]

    It’s extraordinary the insight that an appreciative acquaintance with Albrecht Dürer provides, in attempting to understand ISIS not just theoretically but imaginatively, and thus viscerally.

    Under the title ISIL Boasts: America will go down to defeat in the Streets of Mosul Juan Cole blogs [emphasis mine]:

    AFP is reporting that a news agency linked to Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), “A`maq,” is carrying a video of a Daesh fighter who swears that he and his colleagues will inflict a decisive defeat on the US in Iraq, as the guerrillas spread through the streets of the city. He addresses the camera saying, “As for you, America, we promise you that which our honored elders promised you, God bless them, such as Abu Mus`ab (al-Zarqawi) and Abu `Umar and Abu Hamza [etc.].”

    The threats don’t make any sense. The US does not have infantry combat troops at the front lines, and is mainly intervening with fighter jets and bombers. If you are a small guerrilla group, you really cannot match that firepower. There is no obvious way in which Daesh could inflict harm on the US in Mosul.

    How about a non-obvious way?


    For the apocalyptic true believers of ISIS, these verses (ayat, which also refers to “signs”) from the Qur’an ring true today:

    When thou saidst to the believers, ‘Is it not enough for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down upon you? Yea; if you are patient and godfearing, and the foe come against you instantly, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand swooping angels.’

    Qur’an 3.124-25

    We may have lost sight of the angels, and for that matter the dragon, the horsemen, the “woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” and the “Lamb which is in the midst of the throne” — in our western mostly post-Christian tradition, but John of Patmos and Albrecht Durer saw them, in what we now think of as “the sky”, familiarly known in their days as “the heavens”.

    But is that our clarity or our blindness?


    If we are to understand ISIS, we need an analytic framework which doesn’t automatically exclude angels from its purview — as I argued somewhat more broadly in my essay The Dark Sacred: The Significance of Sacramental Analysis in Robert Bunker‘s Blood Sacrifices [Kindle, $3.99].

    We are dealing with a subset of that culture wherein poetry is as highly valued as it is lowly valued in our own — as Shahab Ahmad tells us in What is Islam, “the poetical discourses of Muslim societies” are “the form of speech regarded as the highest register of human self-expression and social communication.”

    And we are easily blind to such things. Thomas Hegghammer, in his Paul Wilkinson Memorial Lecture at the University of St. Andrews, Why Terrorists Weep: The Socio-Cultural Practices of Jihadi Militants, writes:

    It took me a long time to even notice these things. I’ve studied jihadi groups for almost fifteen years, and for the first ten, I was addressing standard questions, like, how did group A evolve, what has ideologue B written, who joins movement C, etc. The thing is, when you study one type of group for a while, you take certain things for granted. I knew that these groups were weeping and reading poetry, but it didn’t really register – it was background noise to me, stuff I needed to shove aside to get to the hard information about people and events.

    Hegghammer goes on to comment that “soft” activities — he names weeping, reading and reciting poetry, dreaming — “pose a big social science puzzle, in that they defy expectations of utility-maximising behaviour.”

    We tend to the “utility-maximizing” end of a philosophical spectrum (running, as per my example above, from “heaven” to “sky”) but they do not.

    Oh, no. They do not.


    To understand the poetics of jihad, and thus the passions it arouses, we must first glimpse the visionary faculty that is implicit in our own so easily disregarded poetry.

    Thus William Blake, in his A Vision of the Last Judgment:

    “What,” it will be Questioned, “When the Sun rises, do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?” O no no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight: I look thro it & not with it.

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