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Quietly now, a possibility

Monday, August 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a comment by Hegghammer, possibly echoing Bukhari re the Khawarij ]
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Ritual practice with greater intensity..

Very much a book to read..

  • Thomas Hegghammer, Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists
  • Strategy Illuminated

    Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — a meander in praise of, variously, Piers at Penn, Alice in Wonderland, Caitlin Fitz Gerald, and Benjamin Wittes ]
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    Strategic theology:

    Compare Nigel Howard, in Confrontation Analysis: how to win operations other than war, writing:

    the problem of defense in the modern world is the paradoxical one of finding ways for the strong to defeat the weak.

    **

    Okay — Alice, in Wonderland, asks:

    And what is the use of a book without pictures or conversation?

    **

    By dint of sickness, I haven’t been able to purue my efforts to see Caitlin Fitx Gerald‘s fabulous Clausewitz for Kids make its brilliantly-deserving way into print:

    That image is from Caitlin’s work, as praised by Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare blog — whom I know not because he’s become a go-to source on many things Trump / Comey

    Suddenly, he was D.C. famous; the very next day, Collins and Wittes bumped into each other in the Morning Joe greenroom. “It used to be that what was going to be written on my tombstone was ‘Benjamin Wittes, former Washington Post editorial writer,’ or ‘Benjamin Wittes, who wasn’t even a lawyer,’?” he says. “Now it’s just, like, ‘Benjamin Wittes, who’s a friend of Jim Comey’s.’?”

    — but way before that, because he knew Caitlin and her work:

    The other day, Wells drew my attention to what could be the single most excellently eccentric national security-oriented project currently ongoing on the web: It is called Clausewitz for Kids. I am apparently not the first to discover it. Spencer Ackerman had this story about it last year. But I had missed it until the other day, and I suspect most Lawfare readers are unto this very day unaware that a woman named Caitlin Fitz Gerald is currently writing a comic book edition of Clausewitz’s On War–entitled The Children’s Illustrated Clausewitz–featuring lectures in a Prussian forest by a hare in a military uniform. To make matters all the more fun, she is blogging the process to boot.

    Hey, “single most excellently eccentric national security-oriented project” is pretty damn high praise, eh?

    **

    Benjamin Wittes and his tick, tick, as seen and summarized by Rachel Maddows:

    Ben Wittes now runs a well-regarded blog that`s called Lawfare, which I think is kind of a pun on warfare, Lawfare, warfare. Anyway. Lawfareblog.com.

    So, Ben Wittes. On May 16th .. Ben Wittes, he did this online, on Twitter, which is a weird thing, right? Nobody knew what was wrong with him. Nobody knew exactly what this was about.

    You can see the time stamp there right beneath the tick, tick, tick, tick. He sent it at 3:18 p.m. on May 16th. Hey, Ben Wittes, what`s that about?

    Well, then later, boom – literally the word boom. Two hours and eight minutes after that initial tweet, we now know in retrospect what that tick, tick, ticking was about. Ben Wittes tweeted “boom” and a link to that huge story that had just been posted at “The New York Times”.

    Quote: Comey memo says Trump asked him to end Flynn investigation.

    That was a huge story when it broke and apparently somehow Ben Wittes knew it was coming out because he tweeted, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, two hours before it came, and then boom once it landed. That was May 16th.

    And then two days after that, Ben Wittes started ticking again.

    [ read the rest.. ]

    **

    Go Caitlin, go Wittes!

    Go Clint Watts too, if you know what I mean!

    Of rules and regs

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — that little free libraries are like the Sabbath, and on the close-packing of angels ]
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    **

    Let us suppose a parallel reality in which squares and circles, cubes and spheres, have wings. The nature of bureaucracy is that in the interest of packing squares and circles, cubes and spheres, it lops off their wings — convenient but inelegant, and what a waste of flight!

    Example:

    The Little Free Library concept is premised on the blessing of books — and the generosity of a gift economy.

    Individuals put up little free libraries outside their houses, often repurposing bird feeders or mail boxes — but zoning bureaucrats not infrequently try to shut them down:

    Little Free Libraries on the wrong side of the law

    Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small community libraries where residents can share books.

    Officials in Los Angeles and Shreveport, La., have told the owners of homemade lending libraries that they’re in violation of city codes, and asked them to remove or relocate their small book collections.

    **

    Scriptures:

    There’s actually a Biblical injunction about this sort of thing — Mark 2.27:

    The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath..

    It’s a matter of priorities: zoning laws are intended to facilitate human life, not to frustrate it.

    Or as Lao Tzu might say, the zoning that can be set forth in rules and regs isn’t the ideal zoning.

    **

    Creativity & Bureaucracy, PS, NB:

    I usually think of winged squares and so forth in terms of creative ideation, and how creative ideas can get the creativity clipped from them in committe — making the point that a winged square is, in an important sense, a better “translation” of a winged circle than a circle with its wings clipped will ever be.. since it captures the material / ethereal binary that’s the essence of imagining a circle with wings.

    Compare Picasso‘s reported observation, “the best criticism of any work of art is another work of art.”

    **

    Has anyone figured out the best method of close-packing angels?

    Argh.

    A real-life situation not unlike the trolley problem

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — a koan for our western world ]
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    This description of a patient with an aneurysm is from British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh‘s book, Do No Evil, excerpted here:

    If we did nothing the patient might eventually suffer a haemorrhage which would probably cause a catastrophic stroke or kill her. But then she might die years away from something else without the aneurysm ever having burst. She was perfectly well at the moment, the headaches for which she had had the scan were irrelevant and had got better. The aneurysm had been discovered by chance. If I operated I could cause a stroke and wreck her – the risk of that would probably be about four or ?ve per cent. So the acute risk of operating was roughly similar to the life­time risk of doing nothing. Yet if we did nothing she would have to live with the knowledge that the aneurysm was sitting there in her brain and might kill her any moment.

    **


    The trolley problem: should you pull the lever to divert the runaway trolley onto the side track?

    **

    What would Jesus do?

  • neurosurgery?
  • trolley?
  • What would Bodhidharma do?
    What would Solomon do?
    Can we really transport ourselves that far back in time and that far across in culture?
    What would the outcome be if Somerset Maugham were telling this tale?
    What would you do?

    I am so thankful I am not a neurosurgeon.

    Zen (ie dhyana, ch’an, not Mark!) is supposed, somehow — via koan practice — to prepare you for situations like the neurosurgical one described above.

    That brings salvation vividly into the here and now.

    Ouroboros catch’em post

    Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — attempting to keep the self-eating serpents in one pen, so they don’t get tangled in your hair and eyes ]
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    From Aneurism, a brilliant long-form essay by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, from his book Do No Harm, and presented in Slightly More Than 100 Exceptional Works of Journalism:

    Are the thoughts that I am thinking as I look at this solid lump of fatty protein covered in blood vessels really made out of the same stuff? And the answer always comes back–they are–and the thought itself is too crazy, too incomprehensible, and I get on with the operation.

    From Political Tracts of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley via PR Beckman:

    The purpose of the historian, to Coleridge, is the same as that of the poet : to convert a series of events, which constitute the straight-line of real or imagined history, into a whole, so that the series shall assume to our understanding “a circular motion — the snake with its tail in its mouth.”

    Here’s one more:

    And this I can’t resist — there’s hope for humankind!

    There will no doubt be others, which I’ll drop into the comment section. So you don’t need to be troubled by a new post every time I see one.


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