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DoubleTweeting moolah

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — somewhere between Lietaer, Bitcoin and a leisure-driven future ]
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Please note, I am not using moolah in the sense in which Arthur Conan Doyle used it in A Desert Drama:

The squat lieutenant, the moolah, and about a dozen Dervishes surrounded the prisoners.

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There’s a quality of surprise to the two tweeted stories that follow, which highlights our usual acceptance of the idea that money is value. Consider:

And then, from a different angle:

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Conan Doyle again:

But I am ordered to gather you together, for the moolah is coming to convert you all.

Kneeling for the Anthem to protest lynchings

Friday, February 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — with a tip if the hat to John Gary Messer ]
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We’re all aware of the widely publicized NFL “kneeling” protests against black deaths at the hands of police and other matters, which President Trump felt did injury to the National Anthem and all that it stands for — in the upper panel below, members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem, 2017 —

Beyond the photo itself and its title, White Baseball Players Kneel in the 50’s to protest Black Lynching, the article from which this photo was taken doesn’t have much to say:

Archival photos reveal several white baseball players kneeling during the national anthem in protest of the lynching of innocent negroes and Jim Crow laws. The practice was quickly ended when the players realized that most of their fans were either KKK members or sympathizers.

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Somone tying today’s protests back to their historical antecedent would shed an interesting light on thr current controversy, giving today’s protesters a definitive “moral high ground” precedent.. Meat for a fascinating thesis?

Something to chew on.

Retweets as quantifiers of interest, but so what?

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — mostly skeptical of quantification of human affects ]
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TwShiloh retweeted these two NJ Homeland Security tweets (DoubleTweet in the Wild!) with a comment:

Two products released at the same time. Note the retweet/like rates. ?That’s what confirmation bias looks like on Twitter.

I’m just now sure what I should deduce from the fact that Anarchy gets so many more RTs than White Supremacy.

and:

Are we more inclined to favor attacks on the left (anarchists) than on the right (supremacists) — does left violence just seem more noteworthy — do more people from one side of the divide follow New Jersey Homeland Security, maybe — or is it all just a little to anecdotal and indeterminate to form any conclusions?

H/t JM Berger.

A counterpoint in buildings, statues, ideas

Monday, June 26th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Dylann Roof’s trial, the New Yorker, and the scorable music of opposing voices ]
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On the way to taking us Inside the Trial of Dylann Roof, Jelani Cobb makes an observation that interests me, describing the architectural features surrounding the trial asa point-counter-point in ideas:

Mother Emanuel, as the church is known, traces its roots to 1816. It was a center of clandestine anti-slavery activity and, in 1822, when city officials discovered that congregants were planning a slave revolt, they burned the church to the ground. The current building was erected in 1891, on Calhoun Street, named for Vice-President John C. Calhoun, the intellectual progenitor of secession. The Calhoun monument, a column eighty feet high, topped by a statue of the statesman, is half a block away. The monument and the church, which came to play a central role in the Southern civil-rights movement, stand like a statement and its rebuttal.

Counterpooint — the musical technique whereby two or more melodies are juxtaposed, now clashing, now harmonizing, but with their melodic integrity uncompromised — is a technique which I believe has application beyond music, in verbal thought.

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Different voices, offering different opinions and perspectives — now clashing, now harmonizing, but with their conceptual integrity uncompromised — are precisely what we find at the heart of all debate, from town hall meetings and parliamentary procedues to maritalspats and the conversations of genius — the letters of Max Born and Albert Einstein come to mind, as does the film My Dinner with Andre.

My gambit, borrowing from the brilliant game that lies at the heart of Hermann Hesse‘s novel The Glass Bead Game, is to suggest that we take Johann Sebastian Bach‘s use of melodic counterpoint and adapt it to its conceptual equivalent — thus opening the way to (a) thinking many contrasting thoughts as a single conceptual music, and (b) developing fresh means to score such a polyphony — or multitude of voices.

Essentially, the ability to think in counterpoint is the ability to hold in mind another voice beside one’s own — the capacity, if you will, to listen as well as to think. Seen thus, it is the basic skill necessary for us to make progress away from the terrible divisiveness of our times, and into a more convivial and ecumenical future.

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I watched my son come into this world and I watched my son leave this world.

This sentence, uttered by the other of one of Roof’s victims, gains power from its closely observed parallelism between birth and death, womb and tomb.

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Forgiveness as a consequence iof counterpoint:

The Civil War began in Charleston. The Ordinance of Secession was signed in Institute Hall, on Meeting Street, in December, 1860; the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, in the harbor, a few months later. The reaction of many Charlestonians to the extraordinary moment, at a bond hearing the day after Roof’s arrest, when, one by one, family members stood and forgave him, was an outgrowth of the city’s relationship to that past. Forgiveness was not just an example of how to metabolize hatred directed at you, or just a demonstration of Christian faith, though it was both of those things. It stood for a broader redemption, an exoneration from history itself.

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A counterpoint in statuary:

Herb Frazier, a black journalist who grew up in the city and has attended Emanuel since childhood, told me that black Charlestonians have always hated the Calhoun monument. “He looks down with this scowl on his face,” he said. Then, in 1999, Charleston’s Holocaust Memorial was erected just fifty feet from the base of Calhoun’s column. That proximity suggests either a wishful denial of Calhoun’s legacy or a level of irony not typically found among municipal planners.

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A counterpoint of races and ethical stances:

Those moral calculations, as with everything else associated with the case, were refracted through the lens of race. In a statewide poll, two-thirds of African-Americans favored sentencing Roof to life in prison, while sixty-four per cent of whites believed that the death penalty was warranted. That result mirrored the general division between blacks and whites on the issue of capital punishment, which is driven, at least in part, by the fact that it has disproportionately been used against black defendants.

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A counterpoint in colors and sentences:

For David Bruck, Roof’s case represented another chance to address the unjust imposition of the death penalty. At certain moments in the trial, though, his belief that he could diminish a racist practice by saving the life of a white supremacist appeared idealistic to a fault. During his cross-examination of Joseph Hamski, the F.B.I.’s lead investigator in the case, Bruck asked, “What became of Denmark Vesey?” Vesey, a slave who had bought his freedom and become a carpenter, was the lead plotter of the 1822 revolt at the church. “He was hung,” Hamski replied. Bruck was suggesting that the death penalty is irrevocably tainted by racism, but he had seemed to equate Vesey, a man who was prepared to kill for the cause of black freedom, with Roof, a man who had killed because he thought that blacks were too free. The families murmured uneasily at the comparison.

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Black and white, crime and punishment, death penalty and life sentence, good and evil, forgiveness and justice, even Union and Confederacy — these binaries rise in counterpoint in the trial and sentencing of Dylann Roof.. offering us a mappable display of cognitions past and present, normative and extreme.

Three from PBS: Ruby Ridge, Oklahoma City and the Turner Diaries

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — two sad and deeply moving documentaries from PBS: The American Experience, plus a short ]
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Last week, PBS brought us the Oklahoma City bombing (at 1 hr. 53 mins, the longest of the three videos in this post):

I’m not usually prone to tears, but moments in this documentary moved me in much the same way that the HBO docu Manhunt‘s portrayal of the Camp Chapman attack did.

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This week, the same PBS team explored Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge (53 mins):

Here I was particularly impressed by Randy Weaver’s daughter, Sara. She not only clarified the apocalyptic element in the Weavers’ thinking:

My Mom interpreted some of the things in the Bible very literally. There’s a verse in the Old Testament about not having graven images, and so there was a point when the TV, you know, kind of left and my parents started to dig deeper into the Bible. They did believe in an apocalyptic future. And I think that they started to take that more seriously as they got ready to leave Iowa. Fear was–was a big part of it.

She also showed an impressive sense of closure on what must have been a horrific period in her young life. Close to the end of the film, two find clips are juxtaposed:

Jess Walter, Writer: People focused so much on who was to blame. But if you look at what happened and how many times it could have been averted and avoided, how many mistakes had to be made, and how many times both sides would multiply the mistakes, the question of who was more to blame is less interesting to me than the question of how did an all-American Iowa family end up with these beliefs. And how did the government end up treating them like a group of armed terrorists?

Sara Weaver, Daughter: I do know there’s a lot of remorse and I know that the FBI uses what happened to my family as a training tool as to what not to do, and that is hugely gratifying to me. But the same way they stereotyped my dad and blew him up into this thing he wasn’t, I think a lot of people do that with our government as well. And when you operate out of misinformation and fear, things can go wrong.

Powerful, even-handed.

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Also posted very recently: a short film (8 mins) in which JM Berger discusses the Turner Diaries:

Berger’s calm and clear narrative of the impact of William Pierce’s awful book is admirable — as is his more detailed exposition of the same topic in his ICCT report, The Turner Legacy: The Storied Origins and Enduring Impact of White Nationalism’s Deadly Bible.

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There’s some clear overlap between the three films. All three are highly recommended.


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