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Lind on “the Navy’s Intellectual Seppuku”

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

William Lind had a very important piece regarding an extraordinarily ill-considered move by the Navy brass:

The Navy Commits Intellectual Seppuku 

The December, 2013 issue of the Naval Institute’s Proceedings contains an article, “Don’t Say Goodbye to Intellectual Diversity” by Lt. Alexander P. Smith, that should receive wide attention but probably won’t. It warns of a policy change in Navy officer recruiting that adds up to intellectual suicide. Lt. Smith writes, “Starting next year, the vast majority of all NROTC graduates will be STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with minimal studies in the humanities … As a result of the new policy, a high school senior’s best chance of obtaining a Navy scholarship is to apply for Tiers 1 and 2 (engineering, hard sciences, and math), since CNO guidance specifies that not less than 85 percent of incoming officers will come from this restricted pool.”

….The engineering way of thinking and the military way of thinking are not merely different. They are opposites. Engineering, math, and other sciences depend on analysis of hard data. Before you make a decision, you are careful to gather all the facts, however long that may take. The facts are then carefully analyzed, again without much regard for the time required. Multiple actors check and re-check each others’ work. Lowest-common-denominator, committee-consensus decisions are usually the safest course. Anything that is not hard data is rejected. Hunches have no place in designing a bridge.

Making military decisions in time of war could not be more different. Intuition, educated guessing, hunches, and the like are major players. Hard facts are few; most information is incomplete and ambiguous, and part of it is always wrong, but the decision-maker cannot know how much or which parts. Creativity is more important than analysis. So is synthesis: putting parts together in new ways. Committee-consensus, lowest-common-denominator decisions are usually the worst options. Time is precious, and a less-than-optimal decision now often produces better results than a better decision later. Decisions made by one or two people are often preferable to those with many participants. There is good reason why Clausewitz warned against councils of war.

Read the whole thing here.

Rarely have I seen Lind more on target than in this piece.

Taking a rank-deferential, strongly hierarchical organization and by design making it more of a closed system intellectually and expecting good things to happen should disqualify that person from ever being an engineer because they are clearly too dumb to understand what resilience and feedback are. Or second and third order effects.

STEM, by the way, is not the problem. No one should argue for an all-historian or philosopher Navy either. STEM is great. Engineers can bring a specific and powerful kind of problem solving framework to the table. The Navy needs a lot of smart engineers.

It is just that no smart engineer would propose to do this because the negative downstream effects of an all-engineer institutional culture for an armed service are self-evident.

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Big Pharaoh: Levels of complexity in presentation

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — Syria, yes, but with a focus on networks, tensions, mapping, and understanding ]
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Binary logic is a poor basis for foreign policy, as Tukhachevskii said on Small Wars Council’s Syria under Bashir Assad: crumbling now? thread, pointing us to the work of The Big Pharaoh. Here are two of the Big Pharaoh’s recent (before Obama‘s “undecided” speech) tweets:

Each of those tweets is non-linear in its own way, but via its implications — we “complete the loop” by knowing that the “mass murderer” is the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad and the “cannibal” is the Syrian rebel, Abu Sakkar, and that Al-Qaeda typically cries “allahu Akbar” after killing Americans, while Americans typically rejoice after killing Al-Qaeda operatives. So these two tweets are already non-linear, but not as complex as what comes next>

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The Big Pharaoh also put this diagram on his blog, and Max Fisher picked it up and blogged it at the Washington Post as The Middle East, explained in one (sort of terrifying) chart:

I’d have some questions here, of course — one about the directionality of the arrows, which only seem to go in one direction — okay for the “supports” and “has nu clue” arrows, perhaps, but surely the “haters” would mostly be two-way, with AQ hating US as well as US hating AQ? There’s no mention of Jordan, I might ask about that… And there are no arrows at all between Lebanese Shias and Lebanese Sunnis — hunh?

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What really intrigues me here, though, is that while this chart with fifteen “nodes” or players captures many more “edges” or connections between them than either or even both of the two tweets above, the tweets evoke a more richly human “feel” for the connections they reference, by drawing on human memories of the various parties and their actions.

Thus on the face of it, the diagram is the more complex representation, but when taken into human perception and understanding, the tweets offer a more immediuate and visceral sense of their respective situations.

And scaled down and in broad strokes, that’s the difference between “big data” analytic tools on the one hand, and HipBone-Sembl approach to mapping on the other. A HipBone-Sembl board may offer you two, or six, ten, maybe even a dozen nodes, but it fills them with rich anecdotal associations, both intellectual and emotional — a very different approach from — and one that I feel is complementary to — a big data search for a needle in a global needlestack…

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But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point you to Kerwin Datu‘s A network analysis approach to the Syrian dilemma on the Global Urbanist blog. He begins:

A chart by The Big Pharaoh doing the rounds of social media shows just how much of a tangled mess the Middle East is. But if we tease it apart, we see that the region is fairly neatly divided into two camps; it’s just that one of those camps is divided amongst itself. Deciding which of these internal divisions are fundamental to the peace and which are distractions in the short term may make the diplomatic options very clear.

and goes on from there, offering a series of network graphs of which is the fourth:

from which he draws the following observation:

What can we do from this position? If the US decides to pursue a purely military route to remove Assad from power, it will incur the ire of Russia, Iran and Lebanese Shias, but it can do so with a broad base of support including the Syrian rebels themselves, Israel, Qatar, Turkey, Lebanese Sunnis, and even Al Qaeda. However if it chooses a diplomatic route to curry support to remove Assad it must isolate him in the above graph by making an ally out of Russia and/or Iran (assuming that making an ally out of Lebanese Shias would have little impact). Russia doesn’t hate the US but it does hate the Syrian rebels, making it an unpromising ally against Assad. Iran hates the Syrian rebels and the US hates Iran, but the Al Qaeda is a thorn in both their sides, making it a potential though unlikely source of cooperation.

Really, you and I should read the whole piece, and draw our own conclusions.

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Or lack thereof. I’ll give the last tweet to Teju Cole, who articulates my own thoughts, too:

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Kill the Department of Defense

Monday, August 12th, 2013

[by Lynn C. Rees]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew bureaucracy: “You know, I’m a juggler, and I never let my right hand know what my left hand does.”

Uncle Theodore

Uncle Theodore

As in many aspects of FDR’s life, his wife’s uncle was a model. As Assistant Secretary of the Navy, young hotshot Uncle Theodore proved chronically wearisome to his boss, veteran Massachusetts state Republican machine cog John Davis Long. When Long took a day off once, Uncle Theodore, liberated by the sudden vacuum of adult supervision, tried to start a war. Long countermanded Uncle Theodore’s orders but it was too late: Uncle Theodore had his war and it was splendid.

Padawan

Portrait of the master as a young man

In 1913, to prevent regime uncertainty, newly elected Thomas Woodrow Wilson (may his bones be crushed) said, “Fine, you want a Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, I got your Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy right here.” Into the family sinecure went spunky 31 year old New York State Democratic Senator Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He immediately began his Long struggle against his boss, Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer publisher Josephus Daniels. While Daniels focused on high-level issues like controlling every radio in America, FDR Uncle Theodored him by secretly lobbying Congress to build up U.S. naval strength to levels Daniels opposed. FDR even attempted to start his own splendid little war by mobilizing the U.S. Navy against unrestricted Hun submarine attacks in 1917.

Direct adult supervision in the schoolmarmish form of Thomas Woodrow Wilson (may his bones be crushed) thwarted him. There would be no Roosevelt family shenanigans on his watch: Thomas Woodrow Wilson (may his bones be crushed) sided with the Army and reintroduced conscription rather than let Uncle Theodore ride Rough Riders II to a second bid for a third term. He also kept FDR in the Navy Department and out of uniform to prevent his own Roosevelt from showboating. He couldn’t stop every FDR attempt to emulate Uncle Theodore: as Uncle Theodore was able to turn Rough Riders I into the Republican vice presidential nomination in 1900, twenty years later FDR turned his Assistant Secretary exploits into the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

Not Wilsonian

Not Wilsonian

That attempt failed due to public weariness with Thomas Woodrow Wilson (may his bones be crushed). In Wilson (mhbbc), FDR had one extreme example of presidential management: Wilson (mhbbc) was a dictatorial micro-manager who rarely delegate, micromanaged details, and even typed his own speeches. His madness for control killed his precious precious Versailles treaty in the U.S. Senate and nearly killed him with such a serious stroke that Mrs. Wilson became our first woman president.

Silent Hand Will

Silent Hand Will

FDR’s other example, the non-Wilson (mhbbc) opposite, was Silent Hand Will. While Uncle Theodores sought to move events by moving the world, William McKinley, Jr. let the world rotate to him. Like Tolstoy’s Marshal Kutuzov, he was a Taoist sage king: he did everything by doing nothing:

So a wise leader may say:
“I practice inaction, and the people look after themselves.”
But from the Sage it is so hard at any price to get a single word
That when his task is accomplished, his work done,
Throughout the country every one says: “It happened of its own accord”. (chap. 17, tr. Waley)

Brownian motion generated by Uncle Theodorish tumults brought opportunity to Silent Hand Will’s front porch without Silent Hand Will having to leave it. He moved events by not moving: McKinley did not go to the mountain. The mountain came to McKinley. International Anarchy assassinated McKinley out of fear: as a ruler who ruled without ruling, he was a living rebuke to their fantasy of governing without government. Their efforts were more than rewarded by Uncle Theodore’s make up bumper crop of frenetic governance after he succeeded the dead McKinley.

FDR blended Thomas Woodrow Wilson (may his bones be crushed) and Silent Hand Will: he micromanaged by doing nothing. FDR would appoint two competent yet ambitious men, a Harry Hines Woodring as a boss and a Louis A. Johnson as his Assistant. The Woodring and the Johnson would have beliefs that both fell within the range allowed by FDR’s coalition but differed enough that the two men came from opposite camps within FDR’s coalition. The Woodring and the Johnson would also be alpha males with rival ambitions. They would energetically pursue their agendas but couldn’t coordinate with each other out of mutual loathing. They would need an arbiter. And who would this disinterested arbiter be? Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Both the Woodring and the Johnson would seek Roosevelt’s support in their turf battle. They would both find a sympathetic listener who whispered pleasant but vague sweet nothings in their ears. Roosevelt would triangulate between them, bending this way and bending that way as the men and their respective political support networks waxed and waned. They would compete for his support by trying to out effective the other. While they were useful, they were kept. When they were done, they were tossed overboard with smiling yet ruthless efficiency. His right Woodring never knew what his left Johnson was doing.

The men who followed FDR were less effective. As adherents of the cult of Frederick Winslow Taylor, a faith-based approach FDR had opposed from the beginning of his career, they drew a map and saw territory where FDR saw territory and drew a map. Where FDR understood that politics is the division of power and shaped government in ways that allowed the internecine feuding of the inevitable private fiefdoms and tribes arising in any human institution be channeled into salutary channels, his successors committed four major fallacies of politics:

  • the appeal to virtue: if we only get the right people people in there, politics will be banished through virtue
  • the appeal to Führerprinzip: if we only get the right leader in there, politics will be banished through leadership
  • the appeal to de-duplication: if we only eliminate duplicate efforts, politics will be banished by reducing multiple competing centers to one harmonious center
  • the appeal to boxes and straight lines: if we only have the right boxes connected by the right lines, politics will be banished by rational compartmentalization and proper channels

So they folded the old Navy and War Departments coupled with an independent Air Force liberated from the Army into one organization under a single Secretary of Defense. This allowed the services to continue their age old war of land vs. sea vs. air as before but now they had enough consolidated interest to band together as needed to shield their parochial turf battles from from outside meddlers. It created a single bottleneck so fragile that William “Not Refrigerator” Perry, acting under the broader Clinton-era policy of expanding the funding base of the Democratic Party by recartelizing American business under the guise of naive free market ideology, could force consolidation on the military industrial complex. The result, as with Clinton-era cartelization in other sectors, was the rise of too-big-to-fail defense contractors who needed assured rents in the form of too-big-to-fail procurement programs to stay afloat. It also distorted the strategic configuration of power as the political need to keep a united front against outside intervention meant that organic capabilities like close air support were moved to alien hosts to keep the peace between services and branches.

The Department of Defense should be abolished. Gouverneur “the Constitution was written by the fingers, which write this letter” Morris had a subtle, though characteristically un-American perspective on aristocracy which, by analogy, explains why:

His commitment to republicanism for America was complete, though it was not made without qualms. As he put it, “In adopting a republican form of government. I not only took it as a man does his wife, for better for worse, but what few men do with their wives. I took it knowing all its bad qualities.” The worst of these, in his view, was the tendency of republics to degenerate into “Democracy, that disease of which all Republics have perished, except those which have been overturned by foreign force.”

His distrust of democracy was shared by many if not most of the Framers, but it was of a substantially different variety from that expressed by such delegates to the Convention as Edmund Randolph and George Mason of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. He thought the people fickle, governed by their feelings and prejudices, “not to be reasoned out of their Notions.” “Expect heroism from a sheep, charity from a wolf, and music from a crow, and perhaps you may not be disappointed”; but it was futile to expect reason from the people. “Those who court the People have a very capricious Mistress. A Mistress which may be gained by Sacrifices, but she cannot be so held for she is insatiable.” He told Lafayette in June of 1789 that he was “opposed to the Democracy from Regard to Liberty,” and that the revolutionists were “going Headlong to Destruction.” Lafayette responded “that he is sensible his Party are mad, and tells them so, but is not the less determined to die with them.” That kind of attachment, combined with what Morris witnessed during the next three years. made him appreciate Americans more than he had before: in a letter to Rufus King, he referred to “the People or rather the Populace. a Thing which thank God is unknown in America.” He also maintained, in a speech written for Louis XVI that was never delivered, that “History informs us, that, both in ancient and modem times, the leaders of popular Assemblies have been bought by foreign powers, and that thus nations un-conquerable by arms, have become the victims of seduction.”

It was susceptibility to being “bought” that especially concerned Morris about popular participation in government. More than a decade after the Constitution had been established, he wrote that “the strongest aristocratic feature in our political organization is that, which democrats are most attached to, the right of universal suffrage. This takes from men of moderate fortune their proper weight; and will, in process of time. give undue influence to those of great wealth.” He had elaborated this idea in the Philadelphia Convention. Speaking in support of his own motion to have a freehold requirement for voters, he said, “Give the votes to people who have no property. and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them.” At that time, he declared, nine-tenths of the white adult males were freeholders, but the “time is not distant when this Country will abound with mechanics & manufacturers who will receive their bread from their employers.” Such people could not be “faithful Guardians of liberty” or a “barrier agst. aristocracy,” for they could not be regarded as having a “will of their own.”

On the other hand. he was equally chary of aristocrats and plutocrats, though many doubted the sincerity of his protestations in that regard. After all, he was an aristocrat himself, having been born into an old landed family, and while he did not inherit the bulk of the estate, he became quite wealthy through his own endeavors. Besides, as Washington candidly pointed out to him in explaining why some Senators had opposed his appointment as minister, his “habit of expression, indicated a hauteaur disgusting to those who happen to differ from you in sentiment,” and they considered him “as a favourer of Aristocracy” in France. Morris thought talk of the “natural equality of mankind” was absurd. and regarding that great bugbear of arch-republicans, luxury, he said that “it is not so bad a thing as it is often supposed to be,” and, indeed, “there is a less proportion of rogues in coaches than out of them.” Even so, his distrust of aristocracy was deeply felt; it may have stemmed from his reaction to the hypocrisy and opportunism of the Tory DeLancey family connection in exploiting the rabble of New York on the eve of the Revolution.

His feelings were revealed in comments about the aristocracies in England, Poland, and France. Traveling in England with his friend John Penn, he was shown the elegant, mansion-like stables of the Duke of Clarence and was told that “this Prince” was allowed £12,000 a year by the British government. Morris responded “that the Effects of monarchic Government are wonderful when from the Force of the Term Loyalty a Man must take Bread from the Mouths of his own Children to bestow the Means of Luxury and Dissipation upon those of another.” As to Poland, he observed that that country had recently established a hereditary (in place of elective) monarchy, enfranchised its peasants, and given the towns a share in government: “These are the great Means of destroying pernicious Aristocracy.” And as to France, though he thought abolishing the nobility had been a grave mistake, inasmuch as it destroyed the balance of power. he nonetheless had contempt for most of the aristocrats. They were “burning with the lust of vengeance” and hoped with the support of foreign armies to “re-establish that species of despotism most suited to their own cupidity.” They were, to Morris, simply a necessary evil.

Thus it is easy to understand the rather outré reasoning he used in the Convention to justify his advocacy of a Senate that would not represent states, would receive no salaries, would be appointed by the President, and would serve for life. ‘It will then do wrong, it will be said. He believed so; He hoped so. The Rich will strive to establish their dominion & enslave the rest. They always did. They always will. The proper security ag[ain]st them is to form them into a separate interest.” The democracy would thereby be able to recognize and “controul” the aristocracy, and the aristocracy the democracy. But, “Let the rich mix with the poor and in a Commercial Country, they will establish an Oligarchy.”

Adopting the Progressive Era-esque naive reductionism that the authors of the National Security Act of 1947 did resulted in taking what pre-1947 were discernibly visible separate interests and consolidated them into one indiscernibly invisible single interest. What were once clearly feuding fiefdoms are now one internally squabbling Leviathan. What was one a diversified procurement base is now a narrow necrotic oligopoly of de facto state owned companies. It is more fitting with the spirit of republican institutions to return to pre-1947 practice. A more politically rational national defense structure, one that throws sunshine on inter-service squabbling rarely seen since 1947, could resemble the following:

  • War Department – led by a cabinet level civilian Secretary of War who commands all military forces in event of a declaration of war. Oh yes, you don’t wage a long war without a clear congressional declaration of war. You don’t go to peace without a clear congressional declaration of peace. And you don’t appoint a the commanding general unless you declare war. Before that, it’s all colonels.
  • Department of the Army – led by a cabinet level civilian Secretary of the Army, fights for dollars for the U.S. Army
  • Department of the Navy –  led by a cabinet level civilian Secretary of the Navy, fights for dollars for the U.S. Navy and commands its continuous efforts to deny the seas to foreign commerce. They have some nukes.
  • Department of the Marines –  led by a cabinet level civilian Secretary of the Marines, fights for dollars for the U.S. Marine Corps. Also handles all land-based tactical air support following the Safranski Plan. Shields land-based tactical airpower from Fighter Mafia depredations with glamorous dress uniforms. They have some nukes.
  • Starfleet Command – led by a cabinet level civilian Secretary of the Navy, seeks out new life and new strategic air power targets in Douhet’s name. They have some nukes.
  • Treasury Department – they run the Coast Guard
  • Department of the Militia – led by a cabinet level civilian Secretary of the Militia, fights for dollars for state militias

Only through open feuding between the armed services, without opportunities to make intradepartmental peace treaties in house, can a diversified military-industrial base supported by feuding patronage networks be contemplated, let alone partially realized. As was said by FDR and as it was said of old, in the greatest strategic library of all time:

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

— Matthew 6:3 , King James Version
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A woman, a ladder, four goats, and a cow named Bessie.

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — the four goats go with the woman, the cow called Bessie belongs with Hiyakawa’s Ladder of Abstraction ]
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My friend the anthropologist Peter van der Werff recently wrote this paragraph about a woman he met in India:

The very poor woman explained me she and her four goats needed the shadow of a tree to escape from the blistering afternoon sun in their semi-arid part of India. There was a tree at the edge of the village, but the owner did not allow her to come near that tree. Therefore, she and her goats suffered from the heat, at the cost of her health and the productivity of the goats.

I was reminded of SI Hayakawa‘s Ladder of Abstraction.

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Caution: you really do need, as it says, to “read” this image from the bottom up…

See Bessie, the Cow, in SI and AR Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action, pp. 83-85, 5th ed..

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Why did I think of Hayakawa’s ladder?

Here are two other things m’friend Peter had to say about the woman and her goats, the merciless sun, and that tree with its abundance of merciful shade:

As long as economists don’t include oppression and exploitation in their models, they cannot understand poverty.

and:

Such cruel relationships occur in many of the 750,000 villages of India. Without including those oppressive and exploitative realities, real poverty is not captured. We may invite economists to fit this reality in the computer.

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We humans can do it. But how do we configure models that can hold those levels of granularity and abstraction — of individual human concern and global decision-making necessity — close enough together to give our grand plans humane flexibility?

I suspect writers such as Lawrence Wright know more about this than the number crunchers — and that the well-selected anecdote must become as significant as the well-chosen statistic

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A feast of form in my twitter-stream today

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — forms & patterns, pattern recognition & creative leaps, creative leaps & connecting dots, connecting dots & node-and-edge mapping — node-and-edge mapping, link charts and Sembl-HipBone games ]
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There’s no “actionable intelligence” in that tweet, but it recognizes a pattern, it makes a fine creative leap. And given the chance, that’s something bright minds do naturally, and enjoy doing, and is away more important than we think.

Yestedrday I was watching Manhunt pretty closely for an upcoming Zenpundit review, and noticed that some of the most significant quotes in the film were absent from CNN’s transcript. One gap I noticed had to do with the descriptions of the analytic process, and in particular some of the things Cindy Storer said. I’ll quote this one, which goes to the heart of the matter, but there’s plenty more left for me to chew over with you later. Here she goes:

Even in the analytical community there’s a relatively smaller percentage of people who are really good at making sense of information that doesn’t appear to be connected. So that’s what we call pattern analysis, trying to figure out what things look like. And those people, you really need those people to work on an issue like terrorism, counternarcotic, international arms trafficking, because you’ve got bits and pieces of scattered information from all over the place, and you have to try to make some sense of it. … That takes this talent, which is also a skill, and people would refer to it as magic — not the analysts doing it, but other people who didn’t have that talent referred to it as magic.

That’s a pretty exact description of what the Sembl game will eventually teach people, once it comes out of the museum prototype and onto the web — but let’s back it up with a quick quote from Wittgenstein:

A surveyable representation produces precisely that kind of understanding which consists in ‘seeing connections’ [Zusammenhänge sehen]. Hence the importance of finding and inventing connecting links. Hence the importance of finding and inventing intermediate links.

That’s from Philosophical Investigations, 122, and it’s a higher altitude / more abstract view — but it’s also the very heart of network thinking, seeing processes not just in terms of isolated nodes but of the connections between them.

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Seeing connections — connecting the dots — happens in lines and leaps. That is to say, it can happen according to the usual linear way of thinking, the dogged 99% of perspiration that people talk about — or according to the far less common lateral move or creative leap, which moves by analogy, which is to say by pattern recognition, by the perception of similarities of form.

That’s the 1% we call inspiration. That’s the magic.

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So a whole lot of patterning was going on in my twitter-stream today, and I thought I’d show you.

First, there was the parallel between the names Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Jean Valjean (above). If you’re hunting either fellow, the parallelism isn’t going to yield a useful clue — but the mode of recognition is what matters, and the reason its such a rare mode is precisely because it’s playful. It plays with forms — in this case, the forms of the two names — without regard for practicality.

And yet this playful spirit is what brought us Weil‘s conjecture and Pierre Deligne‘s Abel Prize, and the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture and Wiles‘ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

Serious playfulness is key… to serious, magical breakthroughs. In any and all domains.

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With that in mind, here are the rest of the patterns I recognized in todays feed.

Let’s start with self-reference, which can hardly get more succinct than the hackers hacked:

There’s also a self-referential paradox at work in the question of a defendant appearing in his own defense — something that gives judges pause, because they see how tightly the serpent is chasing its own tail. Defendant defends self, From Raff Pantucci:

The saddest self-reference of the morning’s tweets was this one, which could be encapsulated as storm-chaser chased by storm:

Even tragedy can take self-referential form.

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But lets move on to Turkey, which provided a rich dividend:

There was this problem:

Turkish I couldn’t read, Dutch I can more or less make out — but for an English tweet making the same point let’s go to Zeynep Tufekci, who has expertise in both matters Turkish and matters Internet, and tweets about Erdogan disapproving of tweeting:

Tufekci again, this time catching an even neater self-reference which doesn’t quite pan out — because, as she says, PM Erdogan is not the same as @RT_Erdogan:

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While we’re on Turkey, this tweet about Tienanmen, Tahrir and Taksim Squares gave us another example of a bright mind catching a hint of pattern…

And what a neat rejoinder!

All of the above is quite useless, entirely playful — and of deep interest if creativity and insight matter

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Finally, I’d like to go someplace quiet and bathe in peace. This tweet, featuring a poem by a Korean zen master, does the trick nicely:

AN appreciative bow to Gwarlingo for that one…

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