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Parable of the soft-touch chiropractor

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

[raked by Lynn C. Rees]

Driving Mom around during her last years in this life, I sat in on one of her soft-touch chiropractic sessions. Her soft-touch chiropractor was out of the office so one of his disciples stood in.

As he worked, the sub-soft-touch chiropractor said, “Let me explain how this helps your mom.” As he’d done since the session started, he made a fist with his right hand and bent his arm back until the fist reached shoulder height. He flexed the muscles in his arm.

“First, I build up potential energy in my arm.”. The shake in his upper arm intensified.

“Then I concentrate the potential energy in my finger.” He whipped his arm forward and pointed. His arm and finger shook.

“Then I transfer that energy to your mom.”, he said, softly touching Mom’s shoulder. “It’s the perfect translation of potential energy to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy restores balance and balance restores health.”

“Hnn.”, I said.

Who can judge?

  1. Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.
  2. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.
  3. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
  4. And again, ye shall say unto them, Why is it that thou beholdest the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  5. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and canst not behold a beam in thine own eye?

— Matthew 7: 1-5  (JST)

For parables,  soft-touch chiropracty’s guilt or innocence is a noop: parablizing does not imply judgement, righteous or not. For show and tell purposes, mote or beam are equally useful. As the Thomas theorem claims:

If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.

This is true, though the outer limits on its truth are set by the Graham assertion:

In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run it is a weighing machine.

If tactics is voting, strategy is weighing: strategy is the creation of asymmetry. To mangle Conrad C. Crane, there are two kinds of strategy: asymmetric and stupid: proper strategy puts a finger on the scale. It restores balance through weight of deliberate asymmetry and then balance restores health.

If the cycle of strategy is:

drive → reach → grip

Up the slope of:

certain → hazyuncertain

With the goal of summiting at:

certain → certain → certain

The parable of the soft-touch chiropractor demonstrates:

  1. There will be drive.
  2. Drive motivates a build up of strength. Fist clenching and muscle flexing, metaphoric or not, is involved.
  3. Strength creates potential reach.
  4. The ideal strength would banish uncertainty from reach and grip, making them indistinguishable from drive. This would be the perfect translation of potential reach to kinetic grip.
  5. The leap of faith is the frantic whipping between reach and grip. Pull my finger.
  6. Though potential reach will generally always fall short of translation into certain grip, sometimes the touch of its less than kinetic sway on its targets’ mind will compensate for its kinetic shortfall.

 

The sway of soft-touch chiropracty comforted as cancer spread. This is reach and soft power. Its force did nothing to hurt cancer. This is soft grip and hollow power. As reach exceeds grip, so cancer exceeds soft-touch chiropracty. Then comes the inevitable: no balance, no health.

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New Book: The Violent Image by Neville Bolt

Friday, December 14th, 2012

The Violent Image by Neville Bolt 

Columbia University Press just sent me a review copy of The Violent Image, by Dr. Neville Bolt of King’s College vaunted War Studies Department.  Initially, I was amused by the colorful book jacket, but flipping through, it belies a very weighty, heavily footnoted, academic exploration of the iterative relationship between propagandistic imagery and insurgency. Even a casual perusal indicates that The Violent Image is a book many readers of ZP will  like to  get their hands on.

From the jacket:

….Neville Bolt investigates how today’s revolutionaries have rejuvenated the nineteenth century “ptopaganda of the deed” so that terrorism no longer simply goads states into overreacting, thereby losing legitimacy. Instead the deed has become a tool to highlight the underlying grievances of communities

A small sampling of some of the section titles:

Strategic Communications:the State
Strategic Communications: the Insurgent
Networks in Real and Virtual Worlds
Images as Weapons
POTD as Insurgent Concept of Operations
Anonymity and Leaderless Revolutions
The Arab Uprisings and Liberation Technology
POTD as Metaphor

Endnotes run slightly over 90 pages and the bibliography tips the scales at 50, for those interested in such things.

Looking forward to reading this and seeing how Bolt presents his case.

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One bead for a rosary

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron -- one bead from NASA for the glass bead game as rosary ]
.


photo credit: Norman Kuring, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
.

Consider her sacred, treat her with care.

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Perception and Strategy Part I.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Jason Fritz at Inkspots had a thoughtful post about Afghanistan in light of recent events and made some points regarding strategy well worth further consideration. I suggest that you read his post in full, but I will comment on excerpts of his remarks below in a short series of posts. Here’s the first:

Delicate strategic balancing: perception’s role in formulating strategy

…..That all said, incidents in Afghanistan these past few months have caused me to question the validity of strategies that hinge upon the perspectives of foreign audiences*. This is not to negate the fact that foreign perspectives affect nearly every intervention in some way – there has been plenty of writing on this and believe it to be true. I firmly believe that reminding soldiers of this fact was possibly the only redeeming value of the counterinsurgency manual. To say nothing of this excellent work. But strategies that hinge upon the perspectives of foreign populations are another matter altogether. 

I think Jason is correct to be cautious about either making perception the pivot of strategy or throwing it overboard altogether. The value of perception in strategy is likely to be relative to the “Ends” pursued and the geographic scale, situational variables and longitudinal frame with which the strategist must work. The more extreme, narrow and immediate the circumstances the more marginal the concern about perception. Being perceived favorably does not help if you are dead. Being hated for being the victor (survivor) of an existential war is an acceptable price to pay.

Most geopolitical scenarios involving force or coercion though, fall far short of Ludendorf’s total war or cases of apocalyptic genocide. Normally, (a Clausewitzian would say “always”) wars and other violent conflict consist of an actor using force to pursue an aim of policy that is more focused politically and limited than national or group survival; which means that the war or conflict occurs within and is balanced against a greater framework of diverse political and diplomatic concerns of varying importance.  What is a good rule of thumb for incorporating perception into strategy?

According to Dr. Chet Richards, the advice offered by John Boyd:

….Boyd suggested a three part approach:

  • With respect to ourselves, live up to our ideals: eliminate those flaws in our system that create mistrust and discord while emphasizing those cultural traditions, experiences, and unfolding events that build-up harmony and trust.  [That is, war is a time to fix these problems, not to delay or ignore them. As an open, democratic society, the United States should have enormous advantages in this area.]
  • With respect to adversaries, we should publicize their harsh statements and threats to highlight that our survival is always at risk; reveal mismatches between the adversary’s professed ideals and how their government actually acts; and acquaint the adversary’s population with our philosophy and way of life to show that the mismatches of their government do not accord with any social value based on either the value and dignity of the individual or on the security and well being of society as a whole.  [This is not just propaganda, but must be based on evidence that our population as well as those of the uncommitted and real/potential adversaries will find credible.]
  • With respect to the uncommitted and potential adversaries, show that we respect their culture, bear them no harm, and will reward harmony with our cause, yet, demonstrate that we will not tolerate nor support those ideas and interactions that work against our culture and fitness to cope. [A "carrot and stick" approach.  The "uncommitted" have the option to remain that way—so long as they do not aid our adversaries or break their isolation—and we hope that we can entice them to join our side. Note that we "demonstrate" the penalties for aiding the enemy, not just threaten them.]

I would observe that in public diplomacy, IO  and demonstrations of force, the United States more often than not in the past decade, pursued actions in Afghanistan and Iraq that are exactly the opposite of what Boyd recommended. We alienated potential allies, regularly ignored enemy depredations of the most hideous character, debased our core values, crippled our analysis and decision-making with political correctness and lavishly rewarded treachery against us while abandoning those who sacrificed at great risk on our behalf . We are still doing these things.

Most of our efforts and expenditures at shaping perception seem to be designed by our officials to fool only themselves.

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Of a Seemingly Vital Pinterest

Friday, February 10th, 2012

I have no interest in signing up but the social media site Pinterest is the new Twitter.

That is if Twitter was dominated by fans of Julia Child, Martha Stewart and Glamour magazine. Mrs. Zenpundit drew my attention to Pinterest as she is already addicted to “pinning”.

Not much appeal there yet to the part of the population more likely to grow a handlebar mustache, but that does not mean that it’s popularity and influencing effect of Pinterest could not become very significant. I can see a politician or public figure someday going viral on Pinterest due to a faux pas or an image that enrages half the world’s population.

Watch, I give it two years – probably less since the temptation to leverage it during an election year to pull off a negative attack should prove irresistible.

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