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Serpent logics: a ramble

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — continuing my exploration of a pattern language of thoughts, both verbal and imagistic ]
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One of my favorite patterns derives from the nesting of Russian dolls inside Russian dolls, so it’s only appropriate to start with an example of what I can only call.. Matrioshka shipping!

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It’s my habit, as you may have seen, to collect certain “ways of thinking” in the miniature format provided by my Twitterstream. Whether you think of them as logical forms, patterns in a pattern language, or amuse-bouches for the mind, they are here to delight and instruct — and when you pile a whole lot of them up together, they can make you just a touch dizzy.

Today I’ll be bringing my collection up to date with two posts, Serpent logics: a ramble, and Serpent logics: the marathon. If you want a quick look at some of the neat patterns I’ve seen since I last posted on these topics, this post — Serpent logics: a ramble — is the one for you. If, after reading it, you want a gruelling, hilarious, insightful, insane, devious, extended course in this kind of pattern recognition — try Serpent logics: the marathon.

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Here’s one from today, tweeted as I was prepping this post — in a category I’ll simply call…

Counter-intuitive?

Admit it, that’s just a trifle mind-blowing, no? C’mon!

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Serpent Bites Tail:

Here’s a light-and-dark-hearted example of the ourobouros or serpent-bites-tail recursive patterm, with a hat tip to Allan Stairs:

Follow Kim Kierkegaardashian (@KimKierkegaard) on Twitter if you like mashups between the deepest of theologians and the shallowest of celebrities…

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I have no idea what category this one belongs in, so I’ll slip it in here. It’s from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, protecting our digital private parts:

Oh my! A Clash of Classifications!

The EFF even has it’s own playful-serious version of the NSA logo —

— as the DoubleQuote above — juxtaposing how the Agency views itself with how the EFF sees it — illustrates…

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DoubleQuotes in the Wild

DoubleQuotes in the Wild is my on-going collection of paired juxtapositions that say more together than they do apart. It’s a beginning training in what F Scott Fitzgerald claimed was the “test of a first-rate intelligence” — “the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”.

The example above comes from Parecidos Razonables, a blog that takes off from the Separated at Birth concept and specializes in double-takes of this sort, often satirical. One of their more celebrated examples:

I’d have juxtaposed Vladimir Putin with Daniel Craig as James Bond myself, but that idea has already been taken — a Bond fan apparently photoshopped Putin’s face onto a poster of Bond in Casino Royale, and then “plastered” Moscow with his handiwork.

Apparently the Apparat, like Queen Victoria, was not amused. I’d have been flattered…

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While we’re on the subject of President Putin, here’s another category to consider…

Mixed games:

The op eds by Presidents Putin and Rouhani to which Soufan refers are Putin’s A Plea for Caution From Russia and Rouhani’s Why Iran seeks constructive engagement.

Ali Soufan, the author of Black Banners, is always worth paying attention to — and his tweet, above, clearly belongs with that Alasdair MacIntyre quote I’m so fond of [1, 2]:

Not one game is being played, but several, and, if the game metaphor may be stretched further, the problem about real life is that moving one’s knight to QB3 may always be replied to by a lob over the net

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Let’s close with some examples from the arts, the first with just a touch of Tibetan Buddhist flavor…

One of mine:


For further details, see Death and hallucination color new work by Chinese artist Zhang Huan after life-altering Tibet trip.

And the second, a pair of images — each in itself a sort of DoubleQuote in the Wild comparing the forms of birds and mechanical objects in a single photo — posted together today by Wm. Benzon under the title Conjunctions:

Birds and cranes, New Jersey and Lower Manhattan.

IMGP3517rd - Five ducks and freedom tower

Birds and cranes, Brooklyn and Governors Island.

birds of a feather.jpg

Magnificent — what a generous eye he has — many thanks, good Sir!

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Patterns? You might think of them as Jungian archetypes, Platonic ideas, Hofstadterian analogies — or Ayat, the same word used to describe the verses of the Qur’an, signs in the calligraphy of God:

Qur’an 41 (Fussilat), 53

We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves

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And now, consider your options. Have you had enough of these damn patterns of mine — or would you like to try out for the marathon version?

WYSIWYG

Friday, January 18th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — what you see is what you get: WYSIWYG — and possibly also TEOTWAWKI ]
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See buildings, walls, handrails, reflections, rows of windows, and people he’s walking past vanish and reappear as a man dressed for mountain climbing sets out into a blizzard of snow, video snow and special effects…

Hat-tip — Shlok Vaidya.

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We knew that Iran could photoshop extra rockets into a widely distributed news image –

and that Russian dissidents could makeover Kirill as his friend Putin

But the video above, with it’s vanishing and reappearing everythings? Simple — it’s a stunning portrayal of just what patience and skill can manage with video tampering using Photoshop CS5 or the like. Hence — this may also be the time to announce TEOTWAWKI. The end of the world as we know it. As we believe we know it.

You only need one of those effects, remember, to fake out a geopolitical tipping point…

Watcher, beware.

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But then there’s my friend Howard Rheingold, who points out that our whole world is a constructed reality:

We habitually think of the world we see as “out there,” but what we are seeing is really a mental model, a perceptual simulation that exists only in our brains. …

Cognitive simulation — mental model-making — is what humans do best. We do it so well that we tend to become locked into our own models of the world by a seamless web of unconscious beliefs and subtly molded perceptions. And computers are model-making tools par excellence, although they are only beginning to approach the point where people might confuse simulations with reality.

That’s a quote from his piece in Brenda Laurel‘s 1990 classic Art of Human-Computer Interface Design — and it seems to grow more prescient by the day!

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Three topics, at least somewhat related, we can maybe talk about later:

  • Who it was that spread the word about the Innocence of Muslims trainer.
  • The disputed Muhammad al-Durrah incident at the Netzarim junction. And
  • Zero Dark Thirty.

  • A slight change of ideology at the Kremlin?

    Monday, September 10th, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron — with irony, skepticism, and just a dash of dry humor ]
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    image from the Ansar forum, h/t to Aaron Zelin

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    You’re probably familiar with the idea of a jihadist flag flying over the White House. Anjem Choudry, the British radical Islamist preacher told Christiane Amanpour on ABC This Week a while back:

    Indeed, we believe that one day the flag of Islam will fly over the White House. Indeed, there’s even a narration of the prophet where he said that ‘the Judgment will not come until a group of my Ummah conquered the White House’.

    I’ve dealt with this hadith before as it happens, and pointed out that in one telling the Prophet is asked which “white palace” he’s referring to and replies that he’s referring to the palace of Khosrau (Chosroes) I of Persia:

    Jabir b. Samura said:

    I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say on Friday evening, the day on which Ma’ez al-Aslami was stoned to death (for committing adultery): A small force of the Muslims will capture the white house. I said: Kisra? he replied Kisra.

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    Never mind, Choudary thinks the jihadist flag will fly over the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue — and like-minded protesters in New York even carried a photoshopped image of the concept (below) as a placard at a 2006 rally in New York.

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    Hey! Put those two ideas together — a little “more of the same” photoshopping should do the trick — and you’d have a magnificent end to the Cold War, eh?

    Maybe that’s what Choudary meant when he said, earlier in the same conversation with Amanpour:

    Well, just let me say that Islam has a solution for all of the problems that mankind faces.

    I suppose that’s one way to avoid a clash of civilizations — have just one guy holding both cymbals, right?

    Fly away home, 007

    Thursday, September 6th, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron — Putin the Magnificent and his gaggle of geese ]
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    --- upper image from the motion picture soundtrack album

    In the film version, according to Wikipedia, there’s “an emergency landing at a U.S. Air Force base on Lake Ontario”

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    [ nothing too original here, the Guardian story mentioned the film ]

    Pussy Riot V: Kasparov

    Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron — the Garry Kasparov arrest ]
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    It isn’t chess. It isn’t, as we’d say in England, cricket. It besmirches the good name athletes like Arsen Galstyan brought Russia in the London Olympics.

    It is Garry Kasparov, arrested for protesting the trial of Pussy Riot.

    photo credit: Reuters

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    In yestrdays Wall Street Journal, under the title When Putin’s Thugs Came for Me, Kasparov — Russia’s one-time youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion — wrote:

    The men refused to tell me why I was being arrested and shoved me into a police van. When I got up to again ask why I had been detained, things turned violent. I was restrained, choked and struck several times by a group of officers before being driven to the police station with dozens of other protesters. After several hours I was released, but not before they told me I was being criminally investigated for assaulting a police officer who claimed I had bitten him.

    It would be easy to laugh at such a bizarre charge when there are already so many videos and photos of the police assaulting me. But in a country where you can be imprisoned for two years for singing a song, laughter does not come easily. My bruises will heal long before the members of Pussy Riot are free to see their young children again. In the past, Mr. Putin’s critics and enemies have been jailed on a wide variety of spurious criminal charges, from fraud to terrorism.

    But now the masks are off. Unlikely as it may be, the three members of a punk band have become our first true political prisoners.

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    If it was chess, here’s what we’d have to call it: a knight hustled into a van by pawns.


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