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Teaching your Enemy to Win, Infinity Journal

Monday, January 21st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — self-defeating, as theme and variation ]
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A new issue of Infinity Journal is now out. One featured piece:

The whole setup is self-destructive, self-referential, self–eating — ouroboric, IMO.

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Compare with this, from a Vanity Fair Hive article, and ask: Who’s the apparent, and who’s the real enemy here?

This is bullshit,” a senior State Department official messaged on Thursday, shortly after the Trump administration announced that all United States diplomats and department employees were to return to work next week, despite an ongoing government shutdown that has deprived some 800,000 federal employees of a regular paycheck. Earlier that afternoon, Bill Todd, the deputy undersecretary for management, had sent out an urgent memo elucidating the rationale. “As a national security agency,” he wrote, “it is imperative that the Department of State carries out its mission.”

For staffers who were already frustrated with their newish, Trump-loving boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, being forced to work without pay has felt like a last straw. “It just further destroys morale . . . It demonstrates a continued lack of respect, even apparent enmity, for people committed to the national security of the country, only in order to serve a political calculation,” one current State Department staffer said. “It’s like, we’re supposed to show up and pretend like everything is cool? Work as normal?” [ .. ]

Together with his unceasing praise of Donald Trump, Pompeo’s perceived cavalier attitude toward the shutdown has made some staffers feel like they have been taken for granted—or worse, been taken advantage of. “What is universal is a sense that they are pawns in a bigger political dynamic,” said Rob Berschinski, a former deputy assistant secretary of state still in touch with former colleagues…

Self-destruction within State? That too seems ouroboric to me.

PCMatic: at war, the people’s militia, resistance .. and metaphors?

Friday, January 18th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — an ad that blew my mind, mil metaphor piled on mil metaphor, and various ways to name theenemy, eh? — troika, wolf pack.. ]
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Here we go.

I was staggered to see the number of military / militant references inj this commercial —

  • our country is at war,
  • a cyber war
  • the enemy, ransomeware, is rapidly growing in sophistication
  • the enemy is exploiting a hole in our defenses
  • we are pcmatic, the people’s militia to defeat the ransomware empire
  • patriots of the resistance
  • we believe we can build an army
  • we will defeat this enemy and win the war
  • join the ransomware resistance.
  • This is the largest cluster of related metaphors I’ve seen in an ad, and I’m curious as to its rhetorical intent..

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    Tina Nguyen has written a fascinating piece for Vanity Fair’s Hive on the metaphors we use for The Enemy, better known perhaps as Them:

  • Axis of evil
  • Network of death
  • Troika of tyranny
  • Triangle of terror
  • Sordid cradle of Communism in the Western Hemisphere
  • Wolf pack of rogue states

  • Cabal of Crazies
  • Circle of Scoundrels
  • League of Extraordinary Villains
  • Oh so much more potent than calling them Hostile statesWolf pack of rogue states is superb!

    The first set above presents ye actual efforts by various pols to provide metaphorical aid to the othering of our enemies — propaganda at its most succinct — whereas the second set consists of jokers’ parodies & the like — second order propaganda at the expense of the first.

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    I’ll be using the comments section of this post for further “collections” (metaphors of war, sports, etc, headlines, chyrons, misc items of interest), and may add some stellar examples — if they “fit” — here in this post.

    Forget religion, it’s all politics!

    Sunday, December 16th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos ]
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    Holy Athos

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    Forget religion, it’s all politics!

    Thee title of the Guardian piece, which came to me via my admired scholar friend Michael Robinson, is Ukraine-Russia tensions reach Greece’s holy Mount Athos. Michael pointed it my way because “holy Mount Athos” — not because “Ukraine-Russia tensions”.

    Nevertheless, forget religion, it’s all politics! (a popular refrain in our secular-dominant world)..

    “Ukraine is an independent country and deserves its own church,” Makarios told the visiting Belarusians, who nodded dubiously. His view is not shared by all: a Ukrainian monk based at Makarios’s cell, Father Agafon, had a different opinion, calling those Ukrainians in favour of an independent church “splitters and heretics” and saying the Ukrainian church should remain under the control of Moscow.

    and:

    Although most of the monks on Athos are Greek, for many Russians, as well as Ukrainians and Belarusians, a pilgrimage to Mount Athos has become almost like an Orthodox version of the Islamic hajj, seen as a spiritual must for any true believer. Oligarchs and government elites particularly like the peninsula, with its difficult-to-obtain permits and air of a VIP club. In the weeks prior to the Guardian’s visit, Makarios said he had hosted a Belarusian army general, a number of Ukrainian MPs and several rich Russians at his austere cell.

    Makarios’ austere breakfast, btw, is coffee and nuts — for the visiting generals, MPS and rich folk, too..

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    Forget religion, it’s all violence and strategy!

    With a meeting in Kiev on Saturday set to formally proclaim the church’s independence, some are predicting violence if Kiev tries to seize church property from the Moscow patriarchy.

    Subtitle of the piece:

    Orthodox church’s decision to make Ukrainian branch independent of Russia causes schism and predictions of violence

    and:

    M:alofeev blamed the Americans for the turmoil, claiming that “Pyatt is trying to stir up the same things he did in Ukraine” in Greece. He also claimed Bartholomew’s entourage was “infiltrated with CIA agents” and said the decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian church could lead to violence in Ukraine and Athos to split with the ecumenical patriarch.

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    Forget religion, it’s all money!

    One Russian who has been particularly active on Athos is Konstantin Malofeev, a businessman known as the “Orthodox oligarch”, who is currently on EU and US sanctions lists for his alleged role in funding the separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

    and:

    He insisted that most of Athos was united in its loyalty to the ecumenical patriarch, but conceded that the feeling was not unanimous. “There are some monks who just love Russian money,” he said with a sigh.

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    Forget religion, it’s quintessentially religion..

    For centuries, Orthodox men have come to Mount Athos, a closed peninsula in northern Greece, to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world. The only entrance is by boat, and women are strictly forbidden to set foot on the territory. Male pilgrims, after receiving a special permit, can visit to confess and seek counsel from the 2,000 monks at the 20 monasteries and smaller “cells” dotted along the hilly shoreline. It is one of the holiest sites of Orthodoxy, the eastern form of Christianity that split with Catholicism in the 11th century.

    Monks enter Athos “to sequester themselves away from the everyday concerns of the outside world,” okay?

    Athos runs on Byzantine time, an archaic system in which the clocks are reset each day at sunset, and it uses the Julian calendar, rendering Athos 13 days behind the rest of the western world. At sunset the monasteries shut their gates and a stillness settles on the peninsula until the bells ring for morning liturgy.

    “People come here to try to be saints, and leave the difficulties of the world behind,” said Father Porfirius, a 27-year-old Greek monk. “The hardest part is to kill your will. We try to destroy it, to get to the level of obedience of Jesus Christ.”

    Patriarch vs Patriarch (with Putin Plus):

    All is not well in Orthodoxy currently, with a split linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine causing a schism and dark talk of violence among the various Orthodox churches. Bartholomew of Constantinople, known as the ecumenical patriarch and the “first among equals” of the Orthodox patriarchs, agreed in October to give autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox church, essentially making it an independent church. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian church, which regards Ukraine as its domain, responded furiously and announced a split from the ecumenical patriarch.

    and:

    Kirill has banned Russians from taking holy communion in the churches of Athos, calling any priests who bless the ecumenical patriarch schismatics, leading to a dilemma for those Russians who want to visit.

    Schism is about as bad as it gets within Christianity. The Pope and the Patriarch are currently trying, with some little success, to heal a schism between Catholics and Orthodox which began as a dispute over a clause in the major credal statement — the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed — which broke the two major branches of the Church, east and west, apart in 1054. That’s more than a millennium of strife between brothers whose savior prayed at the end of his life [John 17.22-23]:

    And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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    Okay, kudos to Guardian writer Shaun Walker for knowing the importance of religious reporting of issues that also have economic, strategic, political aspects!

    And let’s conclude with a link to this related Orthodox prayer page:

    :Concerning the Orthodox Prayers for the Union of All and the Prayer in St. John 17
    Excerpts from Ecumenism: A Movement for Union or a Syncretistic Heresy?
    by Bishop Angelos of Avlona

    Next notables, metaphors and bright ideas included

    Sunday, December 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — next in the long series beginning with sports and game metaphors, and extending to include miscellaneous memorable items — nb, includes a Tibhirine section, Jim Gant pls note ]
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    Here’s a DoubleQuote in images of considerable interest, from David Metcalfe — with the esteemed William Dalrynple DoubleQuoting goddesses in Kerala:

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    Ancilliary to my interest in mapping complex realities..

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    First “siege warfare” metaphor:

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    Something to read alongside John Kiser‘s superb The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria :

    I would be most happy to publish any comments John Kiser has on Kyle Orton‘s blog post, Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem on ZP should he or Jim Gant notice this somewhat obscure entry..

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    Good grief:

    Key comment:

    I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with.

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    And how’s this?

    Trump Channels the Worst of China to Beat China

    A double ouroboros, methinks: the Worst of China to Beat China, arguably, and self-defeating, axiomatically, no?

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    Venkatesh Rao, Quiver Doodles:

    I don’t know if this is still true, but I once read about exploited workers in the ship-breaking industry who were worked so hard, and paid so little, they could not even afford to buy enough calories to sustain themselves. They were slowly starving to death. I call this phenomenon entropic ruin, a generalization of the idea of gambler’s ruin to open-ended games that can be non-zero-sum and need not involve gambling. In this case, it’s a deterministic death march. If you systematically consume fewer calories than you expend long term, you will die a premature death.

    Via John Kellden

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    Did Venkatesh mention “the idea of gambler’s ruin“? How about nuns’ ruin as a subset?

    Two nuns allegedly stole $500,000 for trips to Las Vegas

    We do know that they had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” Marge Graf, an attorney representing St. James, told a group of parents at a meeting last Monday night, according to the Beach Reporter.”

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    Mask dancers, Bhutan:

    21 Breathtaking Photos Of Isolated Tribes From All Around The World

    The dancers are gorgeous, but look to the left and see the monasteries perched on plateaus in a towering rock-face..

    I’m pretty sure “isolated tribes” are of particular interest about now because of the evangelical boundary-pusher killed (martyred? now there’s a koan) because he hoped to bring the gospel to Andaman tribal peoples whose isolation is protected by the Indian government.. see my tweet:

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    A whole lot more..

    This Nancy Pelosi chyron, for instance:

    Which brings me to #2 below:

    — with #3 also deserving a metaphor-mention..

    And we might as well go for the revolt chyron here:

    And that in turn allows for a splendid graphic with both metaphorical and real resonance..

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    That should be enough. I’ll collect further items of interest in the comments section.

    ICYMI, Geopol: South China Sea

    Saturday, December 8th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — this caught my eye, not an area i often think about, but important, important ]
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    Commander Robert Brodie, U.S. Navy, Winning the Joint Fight

    The most likely high-end fight in the near future would be the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) attempting to annex the South China Sea, coerce the nations in and around it into a dependent relationship, and push the boundary with the free world into the Pacific. This is in addition to the perpetual problem of North Korea invading South Korea. These scenarios present many opportunities for the Marine Corps to help the joint fight. It is time for the Corps to reestablish its expeditionary and amphibious assault capabilities. Expeditionary long-range artillery, antisurface and antiair teams could turn the tables on PRC antiaccess/area denial efforts by holding their man-made bases, ships, and aircraft at risk and imposing significant cost in a wartime scenario. The threat of an amphibious assault that would trap North Korean leaders and bring about regime collapse if the North invaded the South is as good a deterrent as any. While these skill sets have been traditional Marine Corps strong points, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the hope that prosperity would cure the PRC of communism, and the Global War on Terror have distracted the Corps from staying ahead of the requirements to fight and win high-end battles against forces that may locally outnumber us.

    All is not lost. As a free people, the United States is better able to innovate, communicate, and fight jointly for the common good. In the case of the Marine Corps, everything it needs to threaten PRC land, sea, and air assets has been fielded and only needs to be organized, transported, supported, and integrated into the joint fight. The Marine Corps needs to take charge of the expeditionary fight, even if that means co-opting capabilities or units from other services and working with other countries. If it fails to take the lead, the Army’s Multi-Domain Task Force experiment[1] that envisions deployable long-range artillery, antiship, antiair, and space and cyber units as the building blocks of its capabilities will compete against the Marine Corps expeditionary role instead of complementing it.


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