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Sunday surprise: nunchucks and katana

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — weaponry in advertising and robotics — just some light weekend viewing ]

You may have seen these already — they go nicely together, I think, though I might be hard pressed to say why.



Further reading:

  • The Bruce Lee Ping Pong Video. Cool, But Not Real
  • Samurai Robot Challenges Human Sword Master
  • Sunday surprise – beauties, Beauty

    Sunday, September 6th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — i’m inclined to call these beauties respective variants on Beauty physical, mental, and spiritual ]

    Beauty is beautiful, and never more so than when she conveys Beauty:




    The beauties:

  • Surfer Maud Le Car
  • Violinist Hilary Hahn
  • Professor Lera Boroditsky
  • I’ve posted la belle Hélène‘s interpretation of the Bach-Busoni Chaconne on Zenpundit before, but in case you missed it, there’s also..

  • Pianist Hélène Grimaud
  • The quantity of mercy is not strain’d?

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

    [by Charles Cameron — some remedial philosophy at age 71 ]

    I seem to be doing remedial political philosophy this week. As it happens, I read a Chinese comedian in my youth and was admonished against “sitting down while running round in circles” and have been aerating my brain with too much conscious breathing ever since — neither leaving me much time or interest for what in Oxford in my day was known, somewhat dismissively, PPE — Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

    Which brings me today, and to grabbing lectures in just that sort of thing from Harvard’s Michael Sandel, courtesy of YouTube:

    The video shows Sandel’s lectures, “Justice: Putting a Price Tag on Life”, and “How to Measure Pleasure” — salted with some dark humor:

    Back in ancient Rome, they threw Christians to the lions in the Coliseum for sport. If you think how the utilitarian calculus would go, yes, the Christian thrown to the lion suffers enormous, excruciating pain, but look at the collective ecstasy of the Romans. .. you have to admit that if there were enough Romans delirious with happiness, it would outweigh even the most excruciating pain of a handful of Christians thrown to the lion.

    I enjoyed the two lectures immensely — maybe I should rewind fifty years, and try PPE at Harcard?.


    All of which caused me to wonder:

    SPEC pinto and lincoln continental


  • Mark Dowie, Pinto Madness
  • W Michael Hoffman, Case Study: The Ford Pinto
  • See also:

  • ES Grush and CS Saunby, Fatalities Associated with Crash-Induced Fuel Leakage and Fires
  • **

    I mean, all of which made me wonder about Jeremy Bentham, I suppose.

    We had Locke at Christ Church, staring disdainfully from his portrait during dinners in the Great Hall — but Bentham? I don’t think I saw any utility in utilitarianism.


    But then I also wondered:

    SPEC trolley problem torture

    I wondered: how close is the analogy between the trolly problem and the ticking bomb torture questionn? Do we start from numbers of likely victims in each case and decide from there, or should we instead start by contemplating torture — and recognize the abyss staring back at us?


  • Wikipedia, Trolly problem
  • Michael Sandel, Justice: Putting a Price Tag on Life & How to Measure Pleasure
  • See also:

  • Kyle York, Lesser-Known Trolley Problem Variations
  • **

    What Shakespeare said, though — getting back to my title — was “The quality of mercy is not strain’d” — not the quantity, the quality — unquantifiable.

    Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary: an explosive situation

    Thursday, August 6th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — “the most contested piece of real-estate on earth” ]

    On the one hand:

    On the other..

    End-Time Battle for the Temple Mount

    As Jews fasted on Tisha B’Av (Av 9) mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples, hundreds of Jewish visitors made pilgrimage to the Temple site.

    In preparation for Jews visiting the Mount on the annual fast, armed Muslim youth barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Several dozen Arab masked rioters attacked Israeli police, hurling rocks and setting off fireworks into the crowd of responders, wounding several officers.

    After defusing the situation and arresting three to six participants, Israeli police found a trove of makeshift weapons in the Al-Aqsa Mosque — Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, concrete blocks, stones, and planks, with which they planned to attack Jewish mourners. [ .. ]

    One of those mourners was Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who has in the past emphasized that there is a “need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”


    Isaiah 2:2–3:

    In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s Temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob.”

    and / or..

    Qur’an 17.1:

    Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

    and in not unrelated news:

    Israel Detains Meir Kahane’s Grandson, a Scion of Jewish Militancy

    He has the pedigree: Meir Ettinger is a grandson and the namesake of Meir Kahane, the slain American-Israeli rabbi considered the father of far-right Jewish militancy. [ .. ]

    He also has the ideology: In a series of Bible-quoting blog posts that amount to a manifesto, Mr. Ettinger calls for the “dispossession of gentiles” who inhabit the Holy Land and the replacement of the modern Israeli state with a new “kingdom of Israel” ruled by the laws of the Torah.

    “The key is not to seek to delay the explosion,” he wrote on July 22, “but to try to bring it on as soon as possible and on our own initiative.”

    The Boston IS and Apocalyptic Conference

    Thursday, July 16th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — I was (unexpectedly) almost totally deaf at the time, so the videos of the conference allowed me a second go-around, for which I’m profoundly grateful ]

    CMS Landes 602
    Richard Landes, opening the Boston conference


    With what I hope will turn out to be the wisdom of a fool, I am going to propose the importance of (a) Richard Landes‘ now defunct Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, and (b) its recent resurgence as a single and singular conference on Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad.

    Bear with me, I’m an enthusiast.


    Gregory Bateson died thirty-five years ago July 4th, the day I started writing this post — a fact I only know because I’m inclined to associate the Boston Conference as one of the great cross-disciplinary and initially underestimated conferences alongside the early Macy conferences on Cybernetics, in which Gregory Bateson was so significant a partner — or the seminal Eranos Conferences attended by the friends of CG Jung.

    The Macy conferences ushered in the computer age, the Eranos conferences celebrated the highest level of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary exchanges between psychologists, philosophers, religious scholars and physicists — while the Millennial Studies conferences focused on a studiously ignored area of knowledge that has swung into heightened significance via the arrival on scene of Al-Qaida and the Islamic State.


    Participants, Macy and Eranos:

    The Macy Cybernetics Conferences included such participants as William Ross Ashby, William Grey Walter, Kurt Lewin, J. C. R. Licklider, Warren S. McCulloch, Margaret Mead, Oskar Morgenstern, F. S. C. Northrop, Walter Pitts, I. A. Richards, Claude Shannon, Heinz von Foerster, John von Neumann, and Norbert Wiener.

    The Eranos Conferences included presentations by Carl Gustav Jung, Rudolf Otto, Mircea Eliade, Wolfgang Pauli, Karl Kerényi, Erich Neumann, Henry Corbin, G van der Leeuw, Louis Massignon, Gilles Quispel, Hellmut Wilhelm, Hugo Rahner, Erwin Schrödinger, Gershom Scholem, Heinrich Zimmer and Martin Buber.

    In each case, the ideation was intensely and deliberately cross-disciplinary, and the importance of the series of conferences only widely apparent at a later date.


    Participants, Center for Millennial Studies:

    In the case of the Boston conference on Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad, the series in whicb it partakes is that of the new defunct Center for Millennial Studies, an extraordinary organization which studied millennial movements from the Dead Sea Scrolls via the Taiping Rebellion (20-30 million dead), and the Siege of Mecca (1979 CE), to Aum Shinrikyo, Waco and Y2K — with implications for future events at least as far as the 2000th anniversary of the crucifixion in the 2030s and the start of the next Islamic century in the 2070s.

    Among the attendees at this year’s conference were Richard Landes, William McCants, Graeme Wood, Timothy Furnish, Cole Bunzel, Jeffrey M. Bale, myself, David Cook, JM Berger, Itamar Marcus, David Redles, Paul Berman, Charles Strozier, Brenda Brasher, Mia Bloom and Charles Jacobs. Husain Haqqani was expected to attend and intended to speak about the Ghazwa e-Hind but couldn’t make it, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali cancelled her appearance for security reasons as a result of the Garland, TX, shooting the day before.

    Speakers at previous CMS conferences included, in additiopn to some of the above, Steven O’Leary, Michael Barkun, Albert Baumgarten, Chip Berlet, Bruce Lincoln, Moshe Idel, Michael Tolkin, Gershom Gorenberg, Damian Thompson and Robert Jay Lifton.


    You can see the entire series of CMS 2015 Conference videos

  • here
  • In particular and given my own special interests, I recommend the talks by

  • Will McCants (on IS eschatology)
  • Cole Bunzel (on the 1979 Mahdist assault on Mecca), and
  • David Cook (on Islamic apocalyptic and Boko Haram)
  • You can follow those up with such friends and worthies as Tim Furnish, JM Berger, and (on Palestinian messaging) Itamar Marcus — Itamar’s brilliant presentation shifted my thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian question by about ten degrees.

    My own contribution is

  • here
  • **

    My recent discombobulations (see previous post) and an over-busy writing schedule have prevented me from posting separately on each of the talks at the conference, which I had hoped to do — but McCant’s forthcoming book will soon be with us, and this brief introduction (and my three reading lists) will hopefully provide background while we await it.

    The book I brought with me, for (heh!) light reading, was A. Azfar Moin‘s The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam. Path-breaking, scholarly, intelligent, unfailingly curious, written with grace — a true delight!

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