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Catchall post for comments with form

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — ouroboric and boustrophedonic news aggregated for yr edification ]
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this is certainly tne essential Ouroboros, no?

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Okay, first, several examples of serpent-bites-own-tail comments:

How a Liberal Scholar of Conspiracy Theories Became the Subject of a Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory

That’s pretty straightforward — and this:

A sample headline in the Netherlands: “The new Trump Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, lies about his own lies.”

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Then there are Mueller-specific ouroboroi:

One of Trump’s lawyers said the president’s legal team wants a second special counsel — one to investigate the investigators..

And:

Trump’s lawyers want a special counsel to investigate special counsel Robert Mueller:

Donald Trump’s legal team has suggested appointing another special counsel to investigate the existing special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is probing the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

One commenter went a level farther, opining:

there should be a Special Counsel to investigate the Special Counsel which is investigating the Special Counsel. When concluded, the Special Counsel investigating the Special Counsel, which is investigating the Special Counsel should deliver their report to a newly formed unbiased Special Counsel, which in turn should be investigated to ensure that all the investigative legalities have been adhered to.

??!!

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Okay, enough ouroboroi — let’s approach zen from the side, with this:

President Trump is quoted in a clip in Ari Melber‘s The Beat (MSNBC) at 2.34, “I don’t want to talk about pardon for Michael Flynn yet, we’ll see what happens.” This is followed by a Rachel Maddow clip, in which RM says, “I have a Tree Falls in the Forest question for you: “If the President issues a pardon, do we have to know about it?”

That’s about as close to an overt koan as we are liable to find on mainstream political TV.

Go, Rachel! But what exactly do you mean?

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And ah! — we are so fotunate that Rachel is not alone in thinking thoughts of this kind.. Kaveh Akbar has a New Yorker poem, What Use Is Knowing Anything If No One Is Around:

What use is knowing anything if no one is around
to watch you know it? Plants reinvent sugar daily
and hardly anyone applauds. Once as a boy I sat
in a corner covering my ears, singing Quranic verse

after Quranic verse. Each syllable was perfect, but only
the lonely rumble in my head gave praise. This is why
we put mirrors in birdcages, why we turn on lamps

to double our shadows.

and so forth. Thank you, Kaveh Akbar, I hear you, I hear your silent, recited Quranic verses.

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I’ll add further instances of posts and comments with the formal properties I’m so fond of in the comments section as they catch my eye..

Year’s End Musings

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — wry thoughts at the year’s turning ]
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The best of prophetic moments of the past twelve months according to Propheccy News Watch, and a glimpse of the Atlantic’s this and that..

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Prophecy News Watch:

Obvs. the right place to go for a go-to report on the year in prophetic signage, Prophecy News Watch gives us a detailed breakdown of the past year, noting:

Pieces of the eschatological puzzle continue to manifest daily. Even signs that are primarily Tribulation events are casting a shadow today. As I perused news stories of the year, I selected 15 items that tell us time is short. The King is coming soon. Don’t ever doubt that.

Zechariah 12.3 isn’t the most commonly quoted of end times verses, and it’s a bit obscure at first sight:

And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

Still, that’s PNW’s first and foremost of 15 notable signs of the times for the past year, and PNW signals it in context:

Jerusalem became a greater “burdensome stone” with Donald Trump’s acknowledgement that this is truly Israel’s capital and holy city. See Zechariah 12:3. Greater controversy will surround her in the year ahead.

It looks like Zechariah (who?) had a point. And whether Zechariah (yes!) was thinking of Trump’s declaration “it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” on December 6th as the “that day” which PMW’s Zechariah quotation implies, or maybe December 21st when, as the Guardian put it, the UN “delivered a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump, voting by a huge majority to reject his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital” — well, that’s an open question — perhaps both..

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Here’s a Christian point of view. According to al-Jazeera in a piece entitled Palestinian Christian leaders denounce Trump’s decision:

The US move is offensive to “Christians and Muslims around the world who consider Jerusalem as an incubator of their most sacred, spiritual and national heritage”, Atallah Hanna, the archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox church, said in a statement on Saturday.

“We, Palestinians, Christians and Muslims reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he added.

“The US gave the occupation what it does not deserve.”

Pastor Hagee sees it differently, attributing “biblical timing of absolute precision” not just to the President’s December 6th proclamation, but to the actual movement of the embassy, which should occur in the next couple of days, or miss the once-in-fifty-years nark:

He [Hagee] also talked with the president about the significance of moving the embassy in this “Jubilee Year.”

“…I told him that God measures everything in modules of 50 years,” Hagee explained to CBN News. “And I said this is a principle that’s carried out in Leviticus, the 25th chapter.”

“I said, ‘If you look at 1917, it was a Jubilee Year, and the Balfour Amendment came, and then in 50 years, it was 1967, and Jerusalem was reconnected to Israel,'” he continued.

“‘And you add 50 to 1967, and you’re in 2017.’ I said, ‘This is the year to move the embassy and make that declaration because it is a biblical timing of absolute precision,'” Hagee said. “Thank God, he’s going to do exactly that.”

If 2017 is tthe Jubilee Year, we have two Jubilee Days remaining to us for moving the embassy, today included!

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Ah, yes — the Atlantic!

The Atlantic has also been recapping past events and articles at year’s end. It struck me as wryly amusing that they made The Case for Humility in 1918, just before the end of WW I — with some surprisingly prescient commentary:

Before our educational system can furnish us the help that it should, the Humanist must learn … to abandon his faith in the mechanical and quantitative methods which belong to science, and to set about the task of reinstating the past in the present.

And again:

Examine the record of the nineteenth century, of the epoch which closed three years ago, and you will find that it is a record of increasing absent-mindedness on the part of men and nations who imagined that they were doing one thing but who were actually engaged in doing something else. They imagined that they were making the future secure by their feverish activity; they imagined that they had only to devote themselves to science and to industry in order to be happy. But, as a matter of fact, the whole tendency of their activity was to make the future insecure; and their blind faith in science and industry is being repaid by the unspeakable misery of war.

The Atlantic then brought us up to speed in 2014 with The Case for Corruption: Why Washington needs more honest graft:

Once upon a time, the budget process was reasonably regular. In fact, it was conducted under what was called regular order. The budget-committee chairmen would do some horse trading to build a consensus within each chamber, the House and Senate would then pass those budgets without too much ado, and the two chambers would work out their differences in a conference committee. Then the appropriations committees would do more or less the same thing, making sure to spread around enough pork-barrel goodies to get their friends paid off and the budget passed. The president and the congressional leaders would be involved throughout the process, every now and then calling a budget summit, but most of the real work would go on behind the scenes.

In the past few years, by contrast, regular order has been replaced by regular chaos. Public ultimatums supplanted private negotiations, games of chicken replaced mutual back-scratching, and bumptious Republican House members took to dictating terms to their putative leadership. Last fall, after one tantrum too many, Congress seemed exhausted. As part of a deal to reopen the government, it returned the task of setting the next fiscal year’s budget to the budget and appropriations committees, sending them off to a smoke-free smoke-filled room to cut a deal.

Sigh — one can’t help smiling at that phrase, “a smoke-free smoke-filled room” — beautifully, concisely, evocatively boustrophedonic!

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Boustrophedon — to and fro, as the ox ploughs — oh joy!

Happy New Year to all!

Both side of both sides, a DoubleTweet

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — didn’t i post this? okay, it’s a few days old, but i’ll post it ]
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Trump:

Obama:

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Both forms of both / and:

What interests me here is that Trump’s tweet and Obama’s both represent “both / and” positions.

Obama sees our common humanity cutting across whatever borders of skin color or whatever might be thought to separate us.

Trump shares the blame equally between the alt-right folk and the folk who were protesting them, when at least arguably the protesters came with (largely) peaceable intent, while the alt-right folk were trying for provocation:

Note, however, that Trump sees things in exactly the reverse manner — another enantiodromia? From Amy Davidson Sorkin in the New Yorker — Donald Trump, from His Tower, Rages at “the Other Side” in Charlottesville:

You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say that right now.” The bad group was the white nationalists; the “very violent” group was those who had come to object. In case anyone missed his point, he continued, “You had a group on the other side that came charging in—without a permit—and they were very, very violent.” Trump wasn’t putting the two sides on the same level; he was saying that the counter-protesters were worse.

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There’s a very different feel to the two kinds of “both / and” IMO — Trump’s actually favoring one side in a conflict and protecting it by shifting some of the blame away from it, while Obama’s is neutral as to sides (though in the case of racists vs non-racists, he’d presumably favor the non-racists.

My head buzzes: an interesting little logical knot, I think.

Here’s what “not even people” sounds like

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Eric Trump & voices in the uncanny valley ]
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First, here’s Eric Trump saying the Democrats are “not even people”:

Now, for an exact comparison, here’s what “not even people” sound like, when they speak those same words:

Listen to the gaps, Eric, the lapses of emphasis.

Artificial human voices will no doubt improve: at this point they’re easily discernible. They sound uncanny.

Dems don’t sound like that.

Ouroboroi noted in passing

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — the poor FBI gets tangled, as does President Trump with his drug of choice ]
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As if in answer to the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” — itself a succinct ouroboros:

The FBI closely monitors online communities that discuss ISIS, at times running so many undercover accounts that agents end up investigating one another: An FBI policy guide, obtained and published by The Intercept, notes that online investigations have “previously resulted in resources being wasted by investigating or collecting on FBI online identities,” or employees working undercover.

That’s from a fascinating long read in The Atlantic: How Two Mississippi College Students Fell in Love and Decided to Join a Terrorist Group. There’s a soo a quote in there, not terribly striking or controversial on its own, but useful to me as an indicator of one general context in which the Talmudic saying used to justify preemptivew strikes can be sued — a saying I’ll be exploring in a future LapidoMedia post — Get up early to kill him first (Ha-Ba le-Horgekha Hashkem le-Horgo, Sanhedrin 72.):

American1s expect their government to prevent violence before it happens: Their shared national nightmare is the plot that goes undiscovered before an attack or the known sympathizer who gets away. Faced with such high stakes and uncertainty, the FBI is left to teeter between catching people before they act and walking along with them until they violate the law.

Of minor note also, here’s FBI Director Comey echoing Martin Dempsey on the apocalyptuc nature of ISIS:

ISIS, said Comey, is “putting out a siren song through their slick propaganda, through social media, that goes like this: ‘Troubled soul, come to the caliphate. You will live a life of glory; these are the apocalyptic end times. You will find a life of meaning here, fighting for our so-called caliphate. And if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are.’”

Again, nothing particularly new, let alone actionable, here — just another possible footnote for some future writing that I wanted to capture in passing.

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The FBI’s version of a-Ba le-Horgekha: Rise up early to arrest him first — indeed, there’s an eerie echo of “rise up early” in the Atlantic report’s “but the FBI arrested the pair at the airport early in the morning.”

This is preeemptive arrest rather than preemptive killing — and again, the concept itself deserves scruitiny: how often does this preemptive approach involve entrapment, with Federal agents leading potential recruits farther down the path of radicalization than they would have traveled without Federal support ad encouragement? A fairly random sample:

What happened next in Booker’s case illustrates what many experts say is a major shortcoming in how the US government is responding to the threat of Islamic extremism.

Rather than viewing Booker’s alarming statements as a cry for help from a young man with recognized mental health issues, federal agents sought to build a criminal case against him.

They introduced an undercover operative who told Booker he’d help him join the Islamic State group, but that Booker would first have to prove his devotion to the cause, according to federal documents.

A second undercover operative was introduced, this one posing as a religious leader seeking to conduct terror attacks in the US. After months of discussions, Booker volunteered to carry out a suicide truck bomb attack at a Kansas military base. Federal agents helped him produce his own martyrdom video.

Returning to the Atlantic piece, there’s another option:

There may have been another path for Jaelyn and Moe. When the government or its partners identify ISIS sympathizers online, especially people without criminal backgrounds like these two, they could intervene and deter crimes from committed. This is the approach that “has risen to the top of the heap of counterterrorism issues domestically right now,” Greenberg said: what’s known in the counterterrorism world as “off-ramps.”

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Oh, and there’s the human reality that a terrorism case may be a terrorism case, but the world continues to flow all around it:

The spring after Moe was arrested, his mother, Lisa, died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Then, last December, another member of the Dakhlalla family died: Taqwa, the 2-year-old daughter of Moe’s older brother Abdullah, suffocated in her sleep when a heater malfunctioned in her bedroom. She was just old enough to have met her young uncle before he was arrested.

A terrorism case in the family offers no especial sanctuary from other forms of suffering.

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Let’s close with another ouroboros caught in passing, this one from the New Yorker, How Trump Could Get Fired:

Rarely venturing beyond the White House and Mar-a-Lago, he measures his fortunes through reports from friends, staff, and a feast of television coverage of himself. Media is Trump’s “drug of choice,” Sam Nunberg, an adviser on his campaign, told me recently. “He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. His drug is himself.”

Ouroboroi — serpents biting their own tails — are inherently noteworthy, as I never tire of saying. To have oneself as one’s drug is a fne example of the genre.


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