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Where did Britain go, RAND? Was it Brexit?

Monday, October 17th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — genuinely puzzled ]

RAND has a terrific puzzle map for the cover of its Election 2016: The International Issues essay, but..


.. where did Britain go?

I don’t see Sweden either, so it can’t just be Brexit, can it? Not to mention chunks of Canada..

Official Israeli (satirical) view of the Crusaders

Monday, October 10th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — ah yes, the Crusades of happy memory.. ]

Here’s a screenshot from an Israeli government video portraying the history of the land of Israel:


I wanted to catch that crusader plunging his sword into the Israeli family’s widescreen TV in particular, with its Game of Thrones subtitle, just because I’m, well, so very hip to all that, never having seen an episode of GoT in my life.


However, according to this WaPo story, A satirical ‘history of the Jewish people’ released by the Israeli government offends just about everyone.. Oh?

Here it is:


For the record, I myself am not offended on behalf of the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the British or for that matter the League of Nations / or UN. I just don’t think official governmental humor, even from Israel, measures up to, ah..

Eh, what?

When are look-alikes alike, eh?

Friday, September 30th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a questiom for Cath Styles and Emily Steiner ]

It’s my proposal here that look-alikes are in the eyes of the beholder, perhaps more so than other forms of likeness.


Do they look like Darth Vader and C3PO to you, frankly — or more like each other?


One really does have to wonder how medieval monastics got hold of copies of Winnie the Pooh:




With a double hat-tip to the immensely followable twitter feed of PiersatPenn


And what about this?

It probably takes some historical knowledge to appreciate the similarities here — the comparison is not entirely visual.


Are mathematically or verbally juxtaposable similarities equally subject to human comparative bias?

Quick notes on intelligent intelligence, 2

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — on a quote from my fellow whacky Brit, Geoffrey Pyke ]


Whacky? From a short description of the man by his biographer, Henry Hemming:

Geoffrey Pyke, an inventor, war reporter, escaped prisoner, campaigner, father, educator–and all-around misunderstood genius. In his day, he was described as one of the world’s great minds, to rank alongside Einstein, yet he remains virtually unknown today. Pyke was an unlikely hero of both world wars and, among many other things, is seen today as the father of the U.S. Special Forces. He changed the landscape of British pre-school education, earned a fortune on the stock market, wrote a bestseller and in 1942 convinced Winston Churchill to build an aircraft carrier out of reinforced ice. He escaped from a German WWI prison camp, devised an ingenious plan to help the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and launched a private attempt to avert the outbreak of the Second World War by sending into Nazi Germany a group of pollsters disguised as golfers.


And for good measure, here’s Jami Miscik on oddballs:

To truly nurture creativity, you have to cherish your contrarians and give them opportunities to run free. Leaders in the analytic community must avoid trying to make everyone meet a preconceived notion of the intelligence community’s equivalent of the “man in the gray flannel suit.”

and Reuel Marc Gerecht:

And the service can ill-afford to lose creative personnel with a high tolerance for risk.

It’s a sad fact that the folks who are in government, especially in the “elite” services of the CIA and the State Department, aren’t what they used to be. They are, to be blunt, less interesting. There are vastly fewer “characters” -— the unconventional, often infuriating, types who give institutions color and competence.


Okay, here’s Geoffrey Pyke in his own capital letters:


And why does that interest me?

Well first, today it corroborates my comment just now on David Barno and Nora Bensahel and the importance of their suggestion that “The Army should also reinstate the requirement for every career officer to develop skills in two specialties.”

And then second, because I have been saying for a while that:

Two is the first number

and quoting along the way Aristotle, Jung, and the tenth-century Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’..


For these reasons, and with a hat-tip to Bryan Alexander, I cherish the contrarian intelligence of Mr Pyke.

The issue of women as sex-slaves in current news

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — why grokking is an important quality in analysts and diplomats, policy-makers and journos ]

Update on the long-running diplomatic snafu between S Korea and Japan:

Welsh imam explains why sex slavery is okay:


And here we are in 2016 CE.

I keep, keep, keep saying this: whether we’re dealing with Japan in WWII or ISIS today, we need to understand that worldviews differ, that the differences matter — and that knowing that intellectually is not enough, we need to be able to know it in the holistic, visceral-to-intellectual way Heinlein’s character Valentine Michael Smith in Stranger in a Strange Land called “grokking“.

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