It happens this way every time: A big news event in the Trump-Russia investigation takes place, and commentators talk about it as though a house of cards were collapsing or a row of dominoes were falling. Each time, it’s the beginning of the end. Each indictment or plea is the “big one.” And then those expectations are disappointed. The sun rises the next day—in the east, as expected—and it sets in the west, as it did the day before. The Trump presidency endures.
I’m thinking “house of cards” and or “row of dominoes” equates to one or more game metaphors, eh? Is an “and or” formulation plurl or singular?
And then there’s this:
But the underlying metaphors are wrong. There is no sudden bend in the path of the investigation. There is no house of cards. The dominoes will not fall if gently tipped. The administration is not going to come crashing down in response to any single day’s events. The architecture of Trump’s power is more robust than that.
His next project, “Rock Paper Scissors,” penned like “Pseudo” with Luis Reneo, promises to be more ambitious as he plans to film it in English in Los Angeles. Patiño describes the thriller as “three stories of couples whose lives intersect as they obey the logic of the game: Love kills jealousy, jealousy kills ambition, but ambition kills love.”
[ by Charles Cameron — bulldozers and trains, more ]
Watersheds are natural divisions of landmasses, long predating human presence upon the earth. Borders by contrast are a human invention — a fact that is nowhere more evident than in the borders known as the Durand Line, separating Afghanistan from Pakistan, and the Sykes-Picot agreement, which divided up the Ottoman Empire into British, French and Russian spheres of influence. Durand, Sykes and Picot were respectively British, British and French gentlemen. In fact, make that a DoubleQuote (mini):
And while Pakistan recognizes the Durand line as an international border, Afghanistan does not. ISIS, disliked the Sykes-Picot line dividing Iraq and Syria enough to bulldoze it (upper panel, below)..
And then there’s the Haskell Free Library and Opera House (lower panel, above)..
The library is a relic of a time when Americans and Canadians, residents say, could cross the border with simply a nod and a wave at border agents. It was the gift of a local family in the early 1900s to serve the nearby Canadian and American communities.
“What we are so proud of is that we do have a library that is accessed by one single door,” said Susan Granfors, a former library board member. “You don’t need your passport. You park on your side, I’ll park on my side, but we’re all going to walk in the same door.”
But after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the northern border hardened, and the law enforcement presence in the area is immediately visible. And in September, a Canadian man was sentenced to 51 months in prison for smuggling more than 100 guns into Canada, some of them through the Haskell library.
Still, inside the building itself — decorated with wood paneling, stained-glass windows and, on the Canadian side, a moose head — the old ways mostly prevail. Patrons and staff freely cross the international boundary, marked with a thin, flaking black line extending across the brightly decorated children’s reading room and the main hallway.
The Library — and Opera House!! — then, erases a border more or less, in a friendly manner, while ISIS erasesd another with force. In bith cases, we can sense a distrust of or distaste for artificial separations.
Those who are willing to make creative leaps from political geography to the wisdom of the far Orient will recognize the imagery of Pu, the Uncarved Block in Lao Tze‘s Tao Te Ching — representing wood in its natural, uncarved state, end thus the whole, of which all entities are seeming parts, separated only by naming.
G Spencer Brown addresses the same distinction in his book, The Laws of Form — described appropriately enough by Wikipedia as “straddles the boundary between mathematics and philosophy” — between what Brown terms the Unmarked state, “which is simply nothing, the void, or the un-expressable infinite represented by a blank space.. No distinction has been made”, and the Marked State, in which one or more distinctions (Marks) have been made:
In Spencer-Brown’s inimitable and enigmatic fashion, the Mark symbolizes the root of cognition, i.e., the dualistic Mark indicates the capability of differentiating a “this” from “everything else but this.”
Spencer Brown notes that a Mark denotes the drawing of a “distinction”, and can be thought of as signifying the following, all at once:
The act of drawing a boundary around something, thus separating it from everything else;
That which becomes distinct from everything by drawing the boundary;
Crossing from one side of the boundary to the other.
All three ways imply an action on the part of the cognitive entity (e.g., person) making the distinction.
Brown notes, wryly perhaps
As LoF puts it:
“The first command:
Draw a distinction
can well be expressed in such ways as:
Let there be a distinction,
Find a distinction,See a distinction,
Describe a distinction,
Define a distinction,<
Let a distinction be drawn.”
My own DoubleQuotes format both draws distinctions (being binary) and erases them by asserting parallelisms between them (unifying or uncarving, unmarking them).
[ by Charles Cameron — continuing the series, with a choice gobbet of Updike ]
from Meet the Press, 10/21/2018
I continue to find the close reading of metaphors an invaluable analytic tool, and one that is also of interest to me personally, for writerly, poetic purposes. I’ve expanded my search from its original focus on games — specifically including sports, theater, war games &c as metaphors for politics — to cover something I’ll characterize as fine writing — giving me the ability to note and quote across a wider range of topics and usages.
My last post in the series ran to 18 comments, each one containing a couple of dozen or so instances of metaphor or fine writing, and I don’t expect my expanded search criteria to expand my actual collection — if anything I hope to cut back in favor of writing other things. But when MSNBC’s Meet the Press splashes a great End Game banner on my screen, as it did today, see above, I still won’t be able to resist.
On the subject of fine writing, though, how’s this?
Dorothy Dotto, thirty-eight, happily married for nineteen years, the mother of three, a member of the Methodist Church, the Grange, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary. She lives, and has lived all her life, in the town of Elm Corners, somewhere in the Corn Belt; as a child, she won seven consecutive pins for perfect Sunday school attendance, and she graduated with good grades from a public school where the remarkable truthfulness of George Washington and the durable axioms of Benjamin Franklin were often invoked. Her father, Jesse, who is retired but still alive (bless him), for forty years kept above his desk at the feed mill a sign declaring, “Honesty Is the Best Policy.”
That’s John Updike, describing “the unimaginably tactful and delicate process whereby the housewife next door was transmogrified into a paid cheat” in what in retrospect looks like a major turning point in the American psyche — the loss of innocence that occurred when it was revealed that many hundreds of Dorothy Dottos had been suborned into a grand cheating system in what’s now known as the 1950s quiz show scandals:
The American quiz show scandals of the 1950s were a series of revelations that contestants of several popular television quiz shows were secretly given assistance by the show’s producers to arrange the outcome of an ostensibly fair competition. The quiz show scandals were driven by a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons included the drive for financial gain, the willingness of contestants to “play along” with the assistance, and the lack of then-current regulations prohibiting the rigging of game shows.
Back to Updike:
Now, as we remember the flavor and ethos of that innocent era, we realize that the contestants, aside from their freakish passion for Hittite history or skeet-shooting statistics, were meant to be us — you and me and the bright boy next door. This was America answering. This was the mental wealth behind the faces you saw in a walk around the block.
Okay, game shows, in addition to Updike’s undoubtedly fine writing, that’s a game reference. But a loss of American innocence? That’s not nothing. That’s something worth pondering..
In fact, a loss of innocence is fundamentally a loss of the default assumption of trust — and isn’t it precisely the loss of trust that leads to all those conspiracist theories of a mysterious “They” who run “our” world, Skull and Bones, the Bohemian Club, No Such Agency, whoever — and the ensuing distrust of and between political paetiues, leading us eventually to today’s:
And how’s that for a delicious paradox? The United States are now Divided as to whether they’re divided or united — with divided in the majority..
Okay, loss of innocence, let alone loss of virginity, may be strong language to describe the impact of those 1950s quiz show scandals on the American psyche — but something broke, a ratchet slipped, and perhaps we haven’t been quite the same since.
In any case, I’ll be collecting my usual snippets and gobbets of this and that — often sports, politics, war or strategy related, but also just plain curious or fine stuff — here in the comments section. And oh, btw, I’ve been misspelling gobbet as gobbit for years hereabout: forgive me, it’s spelt (spelled?) with an e, and means a chunk, primarily of meat or writing — no Gandalfian echo intended.
Ad now, as my friend David Ronfeldt would say, Onwards!
[ by Charles Cameron — ternary logic is of special import because it upsets binary oppositional thinking ]
In a recent comment, I said that to connect with my various posts on three-player games, there’s this from an episode of Designated Survivor:
transnational three-way spy trade
For the record, that’s a win-win-win strategy.
While we’re on the subject of threeness games, there’s Brett Kavanaugh‘s explanation of Devil’s Triangle as a drinking game in his testimony:
Sen Whitehouse: Devil’s Triangle? Judge Kavanaugh: Drinking game. Sen Whitehouse: How’s it played? Judge Kavanaugh: Three glasses, in a triangle.. Sen Whitehouse: And? Judge Kavanaugh: You ever play Quarters? Sen Whitehouse: No. Judge Kavanaugh: It’s a Quarters game.
A “Devil’s Triangle” is a widely used term for an act of sexual congress between two men and a woman; but during his hearing, Brett Kavanaugh nonsensically insisted that this was some sort of drinking game.
Okay, these matters are interesting not because they deal with threeness as in friend or foe games in which temporary alliances (twos) can overcome single ones while new alliances can switch losers for winners — nor as in Konrad Lorenz‘s goose pecking order example, where a > b > c > a — but simply because threeness is involved — three players, three cups &c.
In recent years, physicists and neuroscientists have developed an armory of tools that can sense certain kinds of thoughts and transmit information about them into other brains. That has made brain-to-brain communication a reality.
These tools include electroencephalograms (EEGs) that record electrical activity in the brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can transmit information into the brain.
That — apart from the brains themselves — is the basic tech involved.
In 2015, Andrea Stocco and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used this gear to connect two people via a brain-to-brain interface. The people then played a 20 questions–type game.
An obvious next step is to allow several people to join such a conversation, and today Stocco and his colleagues announced they have achieved this using a world-first brain-to-brain network. The network, which they call BrainNet, allows a small group to play a collaborative Tetris-like game.
That’s the gaming.
And here’s the pretty diagram that allows those like myself who have only the haziest of ideas where or what the occipital cortex is to nod sagely, acknowledging that we learn something new every day..
One isn’t, I’ve argued, even a number: one is one and all alone, and ever more shall be so. Two is the first number, standing as it does both for binary systems (duel and duet, competition and collaboration) and for many or all, as in the one and the many, or one and all..
But three — ah, three is the first differentiated number, neither two nor two plus two (aka two multiplied by two, two to its own power, two squared, four).. It stands in its own right: three.
In the number series, it offers us our first hint that there are shades of grey possible between none and one, yes and no, day and night, black and white..
Three is the tie-breaker, the umpire, balance, justice — three is the liminal number par excellence.
And one last scrap of detail:
The proof-of-principle network connects three people: two senders and one person able to receive and transmit, all in separate rooms and unable to communicate conventionally. The group together has to solve a Tetris-like game in which a falling block has to be rotated so that it fits into a space at the bottom of the screen.
The two senders, wearing EEGs, can both see the full screen. The game is designed so the shape of the descending block fits in the bottom row either if it is rotated by 180 degrees or if it is not rotated. The senders have to decide which and broadcast the information to the third member of the group.
This is all a bit primitive thus far, but then it’s also a beginning — a window on vast possibilities.
[ by Charles Cameron — after Sen Jeff Flake’s elevator epiphany and meet-up with his friend Chris Coons ]
What the nation got in the Flake-Coons accord is, at long last, a rare example of principle, empathy, bipartisan comity, seriousness, and leadership that holds at least a chance of preserving fairness and a shred of the Senate’s reputation. Pray that it’s not just a moment. https://t.co/fgA6ue89EQ
A deeply divided Senate Judiciary Committee advanced President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, but final confirmation will depend on a reopened FBI inquiry.
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was all set to move unimpeded through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning.
Then Jeff Flake had a sudden change of heart.
Hours after declaring his support for Kavanaugh, the Arizona Republican simultaneously voted to advance the nomination in committee while warning party leadership that he would oppose President Trump’s nominee in a crucial floor vote unless and until the FBI conducts a further investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high-school party in 1982.
MTP Daily, 9/28/2018:
This is a Republican who’s retiring, this is a Republican who’s more free of the political calculus ..
In the political calculus of the moment ..
“We respect her” is the new “thoughts and prayers” ..
The Beat, with Ari Melber:
Within hours of that confrontation, Senator Flake did something we rarely see in this choreographed, partisanship era ..
In this moment, we are watching Hollywood take the high ground over the United States government. That’s a huge red flag. That’s not how this should work.The government should be holding the higher moral standard, and Hollywood it.
This guy shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car.
That was the Twilight Zone A Few Good Men. It’s like, he thought he had the closing speech in A Few Good Men, but for a lot of the country he was in a different movie ..
Tell me how the sequence worked that led to this overtime in the game, so to speak ..
It does seem they’ve got the fire power, the candle power ..
what kind of pandora’s box ..
You get two supreme court nominees in the ideology of your liking, that’s sort of like a pitcher in the major leagues winning over 20 games, i mean that’as a hell of a season, and now that season’s in real jeopardy ..
the tip box is big, and it’s open ..
next up, a hairline fracture in the partisanship that has come to define American politics ..
he’s not intimidated by the 9 out of 10 republicans who back trump in every single thing; the others are hog-tied ..
i was struck by a profile in democracy — here was a guy who held an elevator door. senators have their own elevators in order to keep those people out..
battle of the genders looks like a draw ..
sen klobuchar: the constitution does not say, We the ruling party, she constitution says, We the people..
All In with Chris Hayes 9/28/2018:
Sen Hirono: the FBI investigation has to be complete. It can’t be some cursory kind of investigation that gives cover to some wavering senators. It’s got to be real ..
a lot of people felt like something was wrong and breaking, i mean, wrong in that it felt like there was a kind of torture being imposed on dr blasey ford .. profound legitimacy crisis that we’re watching happen in slow motion ..
it does feel as though something is fundamentally breaking, and I almost appreciate the fact that in the end the republicans took the mask off, and stopped allowing their prosecutor to ask questions, they decided to turn it into a big political show you saw what their endgame was, not really getting to the truth, but doing whatever was necessary to try to jam him through ..
He has fought back viciously by calling his opponents names like “saboteur,” “idiot” and “pedophile.” Now, Tesla chief Elon Musk is embracing the same kind of combative approach to wage the fight of his career against the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Musk is as close to sainthood as one can get in Silicon Valley, a sci-fi virtuoso who has captured imaginations with gambles on soaring rockets, electric supercars and brain-computer links. A critical element of his cult of personality: He rarely backs down from a fight.
That last paragraph has an interesting four-part evaluation of Musk: close to sainthood .. sci-f- virtuoso .. cult of personality — fight. If I was setting that para to music, it would definitely be on a descending arpeggio..
In both the original and the replay, the same Washington D.C. reporter, whose parents were Communist Party members connected to Soviet atomic spies and who were under FBI surveillance for decades, teamed up with the same second D.C. reporter, who was outed as an “FBI asset,” to take down a sitting Republican President of the United States.
In both instances the “unnamed source” leaking information to these two reporters turned out to be the Deputy Director of the FBI.
This is a remake.
Some of the players have even reprised their old roles.
[ .. ]
This is stunning – decades apart in time two separate FBI Deputy Directors leaked information about the then-sitting President of the United States to a pair of reporters, one of whom hails from a family intertwined with the Soviet spy ring that handed America’s nuclear secrets to Joseph Stalin and the other of whom was an “FBI asset.”
Both of these FBI Deputy Directors had to know with whom they were dealing.
A brace of interesting articles, both by John Seabrook:
Captain Daniel Gerard, who took over Vortex in the fall of 2007, didn’t put much stock in their ideas. As he said, “Academia and law enforcement are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They like theories, we like results.”
Kennedy was tall and slim, and in the dark clothes he favored there was something about him of the High Plains Drifter -— the mysterious stranger who blows into town one day and makes the bad guys go away. He wore a grizzled beard and had thick, unbound hair that cascaded halfway down his back. “What’s some guy who looks like Jesus got to tell us about crime in Cincinnati?” was the line around police headquarters.
Kennedy had been approached by Dr. Victor Garcia, the head of the trauma unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who was seeing almost daily the effects of the city’s violent gangs: the stabbings, shootings, and beatings, and the injuries to innocent children caught in the crossfire. “Children with their eyes shot out, children paralyzed,” Garcia told me. “I started to wonder, instead of treating injuries, how can we prevent them from happening in the first place?”
Often, much of the violence is caused by gang dynamics: score settling, vendettas, and turf issues, all played out according to the law of the streets.
Whalen explained to me the C.P.D.’s distinction between social workers and cops: “Social people hug thugs. We kick their butts.”
I particularly appreciate the echo of ““Academia and law enforcement are at opposite ends of the spectrum. They like theories, we like results” in “Whalen explained to me the C.P.D.’s distinction between social workers and cops: “Social people hug thugs. We kick their butts.””
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.