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“Trust in Govt” DoubleQuote from John Robb

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — I’d like to define “thinkers” as those who make us think, John Robb being a prime example ]
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Assuming that in this case correlation just might be evidence of causation, what remedy would you suggest?

I imagine a wide swathe of people will think reducing the size of the bureaucracy could well increase confidence in government — but my own hunch, perhaps counterintuitive, would be to increase confidence in government & watch it cleanse itself of those in various offices who serve no helpful purpose.

Of course, there may be feedback loops involved, so I don’t consider this a sure-fire remedy. I’m foolish, I was being just a tad optimistic. And besides, correlation doesn’t prove causation, though it may alert us to its possibility.

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John juxtaposes two images there, though, in a thought-provocative way, as is his wont. From a DoubleQuotes point of view — and this is a fine example of what I call “DoubleQuotes in the wild” — the juxtaposition neatly demonstrates the potential benefits of reading DQs both from left to right and from right to left, or more generally, of checking analogies for possible meanings both ways, despite the fact that they often have their own directionality, real or implied.

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What I mean to imply when I say “my own hunch, perhaps counterintuitive, would be to increase confidence in government” is that we need to increase the actual trustworthiness of government, the degree of alignment between words and deeds, the sincerity of its practitioners, the degree to which that Gettysburg phrase, “of the people, by the people, for the people” is reflected in actual practice.

That must work primarily at the level of the human individual elected to govern: honesty, decency, and humility rather than self-serving, surely, are the primary values called for — a little dignity would be appreciated, too.

The uses of sacred space: a DoubleQuote

Friday, December 5th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — these two tweets hopefully speak for themselves ]
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Merciless:

and Merciful:

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The world seems filled with these simultaneities of the gruesome and the glorious.

And what of man?

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no..

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 online — from Bach to Infosec

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — idle chit chat, I really shouldn’t ]
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Since I recently provided evidence of Taylor Swift singing Bach‘s organ music the other day, I don’t think it’s too great a stretch to point out that she also posts on topics of interest to security geeks. Frankly, I’m a bit taken aback that Edward Snowden hasn’t been transparent about their relationship.

Here are some of her recent tweets:

Apocalyptic, see — you just can’t get away from it! I mean…

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Come to think of it..

That sounds good to me. Hey, and she’s self-deprecating, too:

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Only Kim Kierkegaardashian is almost as clever —

— though not half as sweet to look upon.

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Don’t I have anything better to do?

Yup, today’s the day we take son Emlyn back up to Oregon to continue his major in criminology. So I woke an hour early, and now I really should go.

Give me that Old Time Nuclear Fatwa

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — when is a tweet not quite a fatwa? when it’s a tweet! ]
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A day or two ago Tim Furnish pointed me to a recent MEMRI post titled:

Tehran Again Offers Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa In Negotiations As A Guarantee That It Is Not Developing Nuclear Weapons

You can pretty much imagine the content by means of its title, but the piece also contains a lead to Khamenei‘s Twitter feed, and thus to the tweet with which I’ve opened this post.

What to make of it?

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It seems to me that there are two obvious possibilities —

  • the Ayatollah is lying, there is no such fatwa
  • the Ayatlloah is telling the truth, there is such a fatwa
  • Those who are prone to hope may well take the Ayatollah’s word for it — whether or not that trust is justified — while those who are prone to doubt are liable to distrust the Ayatollah…

    And so we’re at that old “trust but verify” business again.

    It seems to me that neither proposition — that a fatwa exists as claimed, but has not been made public, or that no fatwa exists, and claims to the contrary are simply incredible — is verifiable, or falsifiable for that matter. Hunh.

    The one thing that is clear from my POV is that the Ayatollah Khamenei is playing this close to his chest. He could very easily write out a fatwa and publish it, and he doesn’t. He could very easily not have issued a fatwa, which would explain its non-publication. But his refusal to publish a fatwa, while claiming to have issued it, presumably by word of mouth, is a clear indication that he is toying with his interlocutors in the west. And the game is:

    I claim to have given a fatwa — will you take my word for it?

    He’s asking for trust, we’re asking for verification: trust, but verify, it’s not a new idea. And it seems to me that neither axiomatic doubt nor axiomatic trust is the point, although we are mostly prone to one or the other.

    The point is that this is poker. Perhaps this is an obvious truism that others move quickly past on their way to reading the Ayatollah’s “tells” one way or the other. Or perhaps we are so quick to take sides that the idea that we face a formidable opponent in what is essentially a very high stakes game eludes us.

    I’m not a player, I don’t speak or read Farsi, the Shah was still in power when I visited Tehran, I haven’t studied for years in Qom or Najaf, I’m not inclined to make political assertions more than one or two levels above my pay grade, I’m mostly unpaid, and I’m left with this:

    We’re in a game.

    And if that’s the case, intelligence — human intelligence — is the way to read Khamenei’s poker face. And FWIW, Amir Taheri wouldn’t be my go to source for intel.

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    BTW, here’s Khamenei’s latest:


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