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Paris: what’s the optimal media response?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — “publish and be damned” is one thing, “publish and be dead” is quite another! ]
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Sigh. There are two ways or the media to respond in a situation like this, one of which is to defend freedom of speech by asserting it, while the other seeks to minimize the inflammation. Here they are, as examplified in two tweets from two journalists today:

Does the question of which approach is better seem too obvious to require an answer?

Which approach do you prefer, and why?

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I’m an Old School Brit and wouldn’t use this language at the office, but I tend to agree with John Schindler‘s sentiments here:

More generally, I don’t think we think nearly enough about the second and third order effects of our media responses to acts of terror.

A trinity of bomb

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — photojournalistic fakery and a close shave for who knows who? ]
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To paraphrase the Athanasian Creed, which contains such phrases as:

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate.
The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible.
The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal.
As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord.

we might say in this case:

The bomb is Russian, the bomb is Ukrainian, the bomb is Israeli: yet there are not three bombs, but one bomb.

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I am in agreement with Libor Smolik. It is my impression that these three images are not proof of a global similarity of weaponry, but rather of sloppy journalism.

A hat tip to FPRI’s Clint Watts for passing this tweet along. And I have to admit that “triples” such as this can beat out my DoubleQuotes on occasion. Well spotted, Libor!

Taylor Swift keeps on truckin’

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — Swift, Bach, sharia, semi-trailers, and a quick look at Ferguson / St Louis ]
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I offer you Ms Taylor Swift as captured in a very clever DoubleQuote in the wild which I discovered via a friend, Deborah Tobias:

Taylor Swift DQ via Deborah Tobias FB

By way of comparison, here — as seen in my earlier post Ms Swift, Sara Mingardo, JS Bach and a quiet WTF — is the remarkable Ms Swift’s mouthing of Bach‘s Chorale Prelude for organ BWV 732, Praise God, you Christians all together, as posted on YouTube by VoiceOfShariah:

Quite how sharia comes into the picture I don’t claim to know…

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You wanna nother DQ, nothing to do with Ms Swift this time? I took a fancy to this one:

Those two images coduld be polarizing — or they could serve as bridges: that’s one of the interesting things about some, if not all, DoubleQuotes. There’s a good commentary from Erik Wemple blogging at WaPo.

Obama & Ferguson: the split screen as DoubleQuote

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — the favorite word used on twitter to describe tonights’s split screen show was “surreal” ]
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Those of you who read me here regularly know that I believe juxtaposition is a key tool for both thinking and understanding. The split screen reporting of Obama‘s Ferguson speech, for instance…

DQ Obama Ferguson Fox

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I was watching the speech on the White House site, and they were giving Obama the full-screen treatment — so I was unaware that things were any different elsewhere.

I feel the single screen-shot from Fox above does justice to the power of juxtaposition, but for good measure I’ll also post a screen-shot from CNN, where the “violence” is portrayed more crisply perhaps:

DQ Obama Ferguson CNN

although the “lower third” caption doesn’t quote Obama to such powerful effect.

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For those who would like to see how the split screen treatment fared in its quieter moments as well as its more vivid ones, here’s the Fox report in full:

I find it interesting that while splitting the screen in two halves adds to the power of the effect, the attempt at a three-way split fails miserably by comparison.

ABC‘s coverage is also dramatic:

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Finally, Tina Nguyen on Mediaite offered a smörgåsbord of split screen images, and closed with a tweet from Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Good question: Obama clearly wasn’t in the loop about the loop he was in

The Art of Future War?

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — coloring outside the lines of the challenge ]
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http://www.desura.com/mods/dune-wars/images/new-soldier-and-infantry-units
Civ4 Dune mod, “Worm attack”, from Desura

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I’m all in favor of the Atlantic Council‘s Art of Future War Project:

It is a moment to seek out new voices and ideas from artists who can range much farther out into the future. Artists are adept at making sense of disorder while also having the ability to introduce a compelling chaos into the status quo. In other words, they are ideally suited to exploring the future of warfare. Writers, directors and producers and other artists bring to bear observations derived from wholly different experiences in the creative world. They can ask different kinds of questions that will challenge assumptions and conventional ways of tackling some of today’s toughest national security problems. Importantly, they can also help forge connections with some of most creative people in the public and private sectors who otherwise struggle to find avenues for their best ideas.

That’s excellent, and as a poet and game designer with a keen interest in war and peace, I hope to contribute.

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Funny, though, their first challenge looks, to my eyes, just a little bit back to the future:

The Art of Future Warfare project’s first challenge seeks journalistic written accounts akin to a front-page news story describing the outbreak of a future great-power conflict.

Why would we want to produce something “akin to a front-page news story” at a time when news stories are already more web-page than front-page, and perhaps even tweet before they’re breaking news?

In any case, the good people at Art of Future War offered some clues to those who might want to take up their challenge, and I took their encouragement seriously —

The historical creative cues included below are intended to inspire, not bound, creativity.

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Their first clue did indeed inspire me, though not to write anything akin to a front-page news story, “between 1,500 and 2,500 words long”. The clue they gave was the Washington Times lede I’ve reproduced in the upper panel below —

SPEC DQ slomo death

while the lower panel contains the quote their clue led me to, by an associative leap of the kind artists are prone to — drawing on the vivid imagery of Peter Brook‘s play, The Mahabharata, which I had the good fortune to see in Los Angeles, a decade or three ago.

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My own leap backwards — to an ancient and indeed originally oral epic, the Mahabharata, rather than to century-old newsprint — won’t win me the challenge, since it doesn’t answer to the rules, nor will it provide useful hints as to what war will look like a decade from now.

The sage Vyasa, who wrote the Mahabharata at the dictation of the god Ganesh, might have been able to predict the future of war — I certainly cannot.

What I can do, and hope to have done, is to suggest that the whole of human culture has a bearing on war and how we understand it.

James Aho‘s Religious Mythology and the Art of War should be on every strategist’s reading list, as should Frank Herbert‘s Dune (see gamer’s mod image at the top of this page), JAB van Buitenen‘s Bhagavadigita in the Mahabharata and Brigadier SK Malik‘s The Qur’anic Concept of War — and Akira Kurasawa‘s Kagemusha on the DVD shelf, too:

There, I have managed to contribute something useful after all.


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