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A most curious YouTube quotation

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — total clash or bizarre agreement? Sydney hostage-taker Man Haron Monis quoted Christian apologist David Wood video on his Twitter feed ]
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I am really not sure quite what to make of this. Sheikh Haron, aka Man Haron Monis, the disturbed ex-Shia convert to “Islam” who was the Sydney “hostage-taker” had a Twitter-feed, still up as I was researching this piece, which included this tweet:

**

Somewhat to my amazement, Haron is posting a video by the Christian apologist David Wood of Acts 17 Apologetics — a gentleman I’ve run across before, strongly opposed to Islam. Here’s the video in question, as featured on the Acts 17 Apologetics YouTube channel

Is Haron quoting Wood like this because he agrees (??!!) with Wood’s analysis of IS in terms of Quranic injunctions — or to show how disdainfully opposed to Islam, western views or Christian apologetics “really are”? — perhaps even both simultaneously?

No matter how you read Haron’s use of Wood’s video, or the various versions of the two Abrahamic faiths under discussion, the appearance of a Christian apologeticist on Haron’s website should give us pause for thought.

For an insight into Wood himself, the redemptive bio on the Moral Apologetics website under the title On Psychopathy and Moral Apologetics is worth your attention.

**

In case Haron’s feed gets taken down — I’m amazed it hasn’t been taken down already — here is a screen cap of that tweet:

Sheikh Haron's tweet

For more on Haron’s online presence, see Zack Beauchamp quoting Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in Sydney hostage taker Man Haron Monis pledged allegiance to ISIS on his website

The Second Coming: insight as fact and poetry

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — witnessing the second and third order effects of the blood-dimmed tide, almost a century later ]
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Something which identifies itself as “Fact” apparently says:

I submit that “Poetry” said it better:

**

Let’s give Yeats’ comment a little of its context:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

The whole poem, The Second Coming, is a notoriously difficult one, and almost demands that one read the poet’s A Vision (perhaps both the 1925 first and 1937 second versions) — and yet the eight opening lines — such insight, such power:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

**

Where does one turn for hope in such a world as Yeats, writing in 1919, just short of a century ago, both saw and foresaw?

What if the best regain conviction?

Creating a web-based format for debate and deliberation: discuss?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — Talmud, hypertext, spider webs, Indra’s net, noosphere, rosaries, renga, the bead game, Xanadu, hooks-and-eyes, onward! ]
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Let me firmly anchor this post and its comments, which will no doubt shift and turn as the wind wishes, in discussion of the possibility of improving on current affordances for online deliberation.

Let’s begin here:

**

There are a variety of precursor streams to this discussion: I have listed a few that appeal to me in the sub-head of this post and believe we will reach each and all of them in some form and forum if this discussion takes off. And I would like to offer the immediate hospitality of this Zenpundit post and comment section to make a beginning.

Greg’s tweet shows us a page of the Talmud, which is interesting to me for two reasons:

  • it presents many voices debating a central topic
  • it does so using an intricate graphical format
  • The script of a play or movie also records multiple voices in discourse, as does an orchestral score — but the format of the Talmudic score is more intricate, allowing the notation of counterpoint that extends across centuries, and provoking in turn centuries of further commentary and debate.

    What can we devise by way of a format, given the constraints of screen space and the affordances of software and interface design, that maximizes the possibility of debate with respect, on the highly charged topics of the day.

    We know from the Talmud that such an arrangement is possible in retrospect (when emotion can be recollected in tranquility): I am asking how we can come closest to it in real time. The topics are typically hotly contested, patience and tolerance may not always be in sufficient supply, and moderation by humans with powers of summary and editing should probably not be ruled out of our consdierations. But how do we create a platform that is truly polyphonic, that sustains the voices of all participants without one shouting down or crowding out another, that indeed may embody a practic of listening..?

    Carl Rogers has shown us that the ability to express one’s interlocutor’s ideas clearly enough that they acknowledge one has understood them is a significant skill in navigating conversational rapids.

    The Talmud should be an inspiration but not a constraint for us. The question is not how to build a Talmud, but how to build a format that can host civil discussion which refines itself as it grows — so that, to use a gardening metaphor, it is neither overgrown nor too harshly manicured, but manages a carefully curated profusion of insights and —

    actual interactions between the emotions and ideas in participating or observing individuals’ minds and hearts

    **

    Because polyphony is not many voices talking past one another, but together — sometimes discordant, but attempting to resolve those discords as they arrive, and with a figured bass of our common humanity underwriting the lot of them.

    And I have said it before: here JS Bach is the master. What he manages with a multitude of musical voices in counterpoint is, in my opinion, what we need in terms of verbal voices in debate.

    I am particularly hoping to hear from some of those who participated in tweeted comments arising from my previous post here titled Some thoughts for Marc Andreessen & Adam Elkus, including also Greg Loyd, Callum Flack, Belinda Barnet, Ken (chumulu) — Jon Lebkowsky if he’s around — and friends, and friends of friends.

    What say you?

    Some thoughts for Marc Andreessen & Adam Elkus

    Thursday, December 11th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — proposing a simple tweak for Twitter as a “difference that might make a difference” ]
    .

    Marc Andreessen gave us the first web browser, NCSA Mosaic. Without it, we’d be in an alternate universe. Much gratitude.

    **

    A few days back, Andreessen tweeted:

    Behold, two ideas, each one commonly voiced and easily taken or granted, which move in opposite directions.

    Andreessen has a nose for these things. Sometimes he uses two tweets to point up this kind of paradox, sometimes just the one. But he’s intrigued, presumably, by the fact that two such contradictory attitudes can both persist in the same cloud of discussion without drawing much attention to their discord — and that when they are isolated and juxtaposed in this way, the discord jumps out at us, and with any luck we begin to question assumptions and actually think our way to a more nuanced understanding of the topic in question.

    He’s using form to sharpen insight.

    **

    More than that, conceptual juxtaposition is the form he’s using, and that’s a form I’ve been exploring myself here on Zenpundit and elsewhere under the name DoubleQuotes for a while.

    I use conceptual juxtaposition myself for a variety of purposes, not least because it’s the seed form of creative activity — the intersection between different ideas is the “seam” where Koestler finds the origins of humor, tragedy and discovery:

    koestler-model

    **

    My own DoubleQuotes format is a means of capturing those intersections, whether they be verbal, visual, aural or even numerical, as shown in these two examples:

    SPEC Baghdad 450

    and:

    SPEC Karman Gogh 450

    **

    A while back, Adam Elkus took note of what Andreessen was up to with his juxtapositions, and thought they merited comment in their own right:

    Adam also noted the similarity between our respective thought processes, and followed up by tweeting, “In fact, one wonders if @pmarca and @hipbonegamer could team up for a double quote post.” I invited @pmarca to play a round or two of DoubleQuotes with me, there was a hiatus of a couple of weeks..

    ..and then Adam retweeted an inquiry along similar lines:

    and responded:

    to which I replied, “Let me think on it.”

    **

    I have been thinking..

    Twitter already features a line connecting two tweets when one is a direct response to the other:

    DoubleTweet

    That’s a minimalist version of what I’d like to see — but I’d like to be able to lock two tweets, or retweets, together at the time of posting. I don’t know if this is app territory or something Twitter might want to create itself, but I ran across the two tweets that follow…

    within a few minutes of one another on my feed, but with fifteen or so intervening tweets…

    and I wanted to RT them together as a pair — not one followed by the other, with who knows how many tweets from other people in between them as they appear in my tweeps’ feeds.

    In those two n\tweets together, eccentric mechanical beauty meets eccentric natural beauty, I like both, but more than that, I like the contrast, and the underlying similarity — in this case, a similarity that is found in the eye of this beholder, and which I hope might catch the eye of like-minded others.

    **

    So: what I’d like to see is an affordance for posting two tweets or RTs as a connected whole.

    This might be for the purpose of an Andreessen paradox, or a HipBone DoubleQuote, for raising a question or pointing up an irony, for illustrating parallelisms or oppositions in the editing of a film … the possibilities are endless.

    That single minimalist line tying the two tweets together would be a starting point, but very simple graphics could be devised for signaling identity (the line features a small equals sign at its mid-point), inequality (“does not equal”), parallelism (double line), directionality or causality (an arrow), paradox (two arrows in opposite directions), question (a question mark), or recursion (an arrow chasing its tail), etc..

    Lines with ah! oy! hu! and eureka! at their midpoints would also be neat:

    double tweet links

    **

    Whether with or without these graphical niceties, the capacity to DoubleTweet would put us in play mode, insight mode, aha! mode.

    We could use more exercise in that mode of being and thinking, no?

    The Holy Ghost & the Machine?

    Monday, December 8th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — because throwing holy water at a computer is foolish and beautiful, a combo I rather like ]
    .

    Arthur Koestler‘s book title, The Ghost in the Machine, came to mind a day or so ago when I saw this tweet:

    **

    A memory stirred: I had seen something similar before.

    Back in 1999 — when programmers were putting in overtime to remediate or work around the so-called Y2K bug, CEOs were concerned as to the potential ripple-through effects of Y2K computer failures on just-in-time acquisition and distribution channels, and I was monitoring the possible social impact if, for instance, fear of bank failures led to bank failures, or terrorists saw a massive vulnerability and ran with it — a curious document came across my desk.

    You might say, Mammon gave a sermon.

    **

    The sermon was actually written for and distributed by the American Bankers Association to its members, for them to pass along to their pastors, rabbis and imams as what we might call sermon-fodder — a seldom mentioned sub-category of the public relations genre that gives us that handy shortcut to avoid actual thought, the press release.

    The Washington Post highlighted this quote:

    “Prepare as best you can,” advises the sermon, written by an ABA speechwriter and made available to local bankers earlier this month. “Then trust God for the rest”

    Also known as “trust in God, but first tie your camel”.

    **

    Here’s a link to the suggested sermon, plus a paragraph or two of text, in case at this late date you are still worried about bank failure, or indeed are worried now for the first time — the fall of the rouble, too, I suppose, has potential ripple-through impact on the global economy, though I know less than nothing about such things myself.

    Sermon Title: Thinking about Y2K: Moses, Orson Welles and Bill Gates

    You’ve heard the dire warnings, the off-the-wall forecasts and the downright silly predictions. Life insurance companies, they say, could bill us for coverage for the past 100 years. Airplanes won’t get off the ground. And that could be the good news. Our bank accounts will show zero. Our mortgages will require another 100 years of payments. Hospital monitoring equipment will stop monitoring. The lights will go out. The phones will fail. We’ll be plunged into a deep, cold winter without heat, electricity, money or — worst of all, pizza delivery.

    And yes, some of us will report actually seeing a fire on the horizon.

    Grovers Mill all over again. Orson Welles would be pleased.

    Quite a few jokes have been made about Y2K as well. Perhaps you’ve heard that Bill Gates has just announced the official release date for the new Windows 2000 software.

    It’s to be the second quarter of 1901.

    [ .. ]

    Most important, we should understand what Y2K really means. It’s a computer headache that experts are working to fix right now, not an alien invasion of New Jersey. And not the end of the world. As members of God’s community, we can and should play a leadership role in helping our own families, friends and community prepare for Y2K. By understanding it. And by not being afraid. We want to go into the next Century as God intended, with hope, knowledge and the promise of a bright future.

    **

    I imagine it must have been quite fun writing that — and in the event, banks didn’t fail, and we went into the next century, and indeed millennium, pretty much as divinely intended.

    But forget Y2K, forget the rouble’s present troubles: what’s the proper relationship between God and Mammon, spirituality and survival, the Ghost and the Machine?

    I’m not convinced we’ve figured that one out as yet.


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