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A DoubleQuote verified in suspicious package case

Friday, October 26th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a note on mental process ]
.

A dozen mailed packages, and thankfully none of them exploded.

**

**

When Brennan received a package, I intuitively, quietly flashed to a mental equation, Brennan = Clapper“. I’m sure plenty of other people, investigators included, had the same sort of equation in their minds, or — what amounts to the same thing — the expectation that if Brennan had had a package addressed to him, surely a package for Clapper couldn’t be too far behind.. Both, after all, are intel chiefs who have been critical of Trump on matters of national security and have drawn his ire. And if Brennan is the first shoe, Clapper would be the second shoe to be expected.

And now that second shoe has dropped: my equation is confirmed.

If I say this is something of a vindication of my DoubleQuote analytic method, I don’t mean to suggest that many others won’t have intuitively come to the same sort of equation and conclusion. Far from it — part of the motivation behind my development of the DoubleQuotes method was the sense that it’s a built-in human mental process, analogical or horizontal thinking, powerfully important when poets, scientists and others make “creative leaps” across disciplines and silos, typically leaping “out of the box” of conventional assumptions, in a direction opposite to that of linear logic..

In fact, this analogical thinking may be a more powerful aspect of human thought — but it’s one that is often down-played in our obsession with linear thinking. My DoubleQuotes method merely formalizes a pre-existing, almost instinctual process.

I do think, however, that practicing this form of thinking, which the HipBone analytic formalism invites us to do, will reinforce our ability to think across silos and disciplinary boundaries, and make those all-important creative leaps.

**

At this point, thirteen devices have been found. Let’s pray there are no copy-cats, and in particular none annoyed at the lack of professional skill in the current suspect’s bomb-making, with the skills to carry out less easily intercepted and more potentially fatal variant attacks.

**

Use this to plot your own leap, see if it works for you:

Beach umbrellas impaling East Coast women

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — the writer is an indoors man, both literally and in GM Hopkins’ metaphorical sense ]
.

The first event took place in Seaside Heights, NJ, and the second in Ocean City, MD:

**

One instance, I have always argued, is a poor indicator of anything — but two instances could be early indicators of a trend.

Two beach umbrella impalings in about a week seems less than plausible by coincidence — it looks like there’s a master plan at work, and while the first umbrella pierced an ankle, the second reached the chest. It is time to take notice, and prepare appropriate defenses..

Instance #1:

A pleasant day at the Jersey shore turned into a bloody nightmare for a British sunbather when a gust of wind blew an umbrella straight through her ankle, officials said.

Margaret Reynolds, 67, of London was impaled by one of the tips of the aluminum umbrella, which turned into a projectile about 4:30 p.m. Monday in Seaside Heights, police Detective Steve Korman told The Post.

Instance #2:

OCEAN CITY, Md. — A spokeswoman for a Maryland beach town says a woman has been accidentally impaled in the chest by a beach umbrella.

Ocean City spokeswoman Jessica Waters said it happened Sunday afternoon on the beach. She says the 54-year-old woman was conscious, but that her condition is not known at this time.

A bolt-cutter was used to help withdraw the projectile from the British tourist in Instance #1, whiln a helicopter airlift to a nearby hospital was required in instance #2.

**

Sources:

  • New York Post, Tourist impaled by beach umbrella on Jersey Shore
  • New York Post, Woman impaled in chest by beach umbrella
  • **

    I am happy to re-report of the woman in instance #2, the more grievously attacked of the two:

    She was flown to an area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

    We wish her a speedy recovery.

    Of the woman in instance #1, I take pleasure in re-noting:

    Reynolds was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for treatment and has been discharged.

    A satisfactory conclusion to a difficult affair.

    **

    The perpetrator in each case would appear to be the wind:

    Instance #1:

    A pleasant day at the Jersey shore turned into a bloody nightmare for a British sunbather when a gust of wind blew an umbrella straight through her ankle, officials said.

    Instance #2:

    Witnesses said one gust lifted the umbrella

    No winds have been apprehended at this time. John 3.8:

    The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:

    Violence at three borders, naturally it’s a pattern

    Monday, April 30th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a quick dip into the news, the Koreas, Gaza and Israel, Tijuana and San Diego ]
    .

    At the Korean border, axes as weapons:

    In 1976, American soldiers guarding the border between North and South Korea were given what seemed like a simple task: trim a poplar tree blocking the view of a United Nations command post within the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, that had separated the two countries since the end of the Korean War.

    [ .. ]

    But after 10 or 15 minutes, a North Korean officer ordered the tree-trimming to stop. When the Americans refused, the North Koreans sent for reinforcements.

    “When they arrived … the North Koreans suddenly attacked, killing the two U.S. officers and injuring four Americans and four South Koreans,” Don Oberdorfer reported for The Washington Post. “Witnesses said the North Koreans used the axes intended for tree-trimming as their weapons.”

    The poplar incident nearly started a second war between North Korea and the United States, which launched a massive military operation that involved hundreds of troops, B-52 bombers, fighter jets and an aircraft carrier. It was dubbed Operation Paul Bunyan, after the giant lumberjack of American folklore./>

    **

    At the Israeli border, death is equal to life?

    Say what you will about root causes and immediate ones — about incitement and militancy, about siege and control, about who did what first to whom — one thing is clear. More than a decade of deprivation and desperation, with little hope of relief, has led thousands of young Gazans to throw themselves into a protest that few, if any, think can actually achieve its stated goal: a return to the homes in what is now Israel that their forebears left behind in 1948.

    In five weeks of protests, 46 people have been killed, and hundreds more have been badly wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry.

    [ .. ]

    “It doesn’t matter to me if they shoot me or not,” he said in a quiet moment inside his family’s tent. “Death or life — it’s the same thing.”

    **

    After 3,000 miles, the American border:

    A long, grueling journey gave way to what could be a long, uncertain asylum process Sunday as a caravan of immigrants finally reached the border between the United States and Mexico, setting up a dramatic moment and a test of President Trump’s anti-immigrant politics.

    More than 150 migrants, part of a caravan that once numbered about 1,200 and headed north in March from Mexico’s border with Guatemala, were prepared to seek asylum from United States immigration officials.

    But in what was likely to be one of many curves on the road, the migrants were told Sunday afternoon that the immigration officials could not process their claims, and they would have to spend the night on the Mexican side of the border.

    **

    When I was yet a boy, I was sent out with a companion, both of us armed with .303 rifles dating back to World War Zero, to guard the grounds of our school, Wellington College, named for the Iron Duke, from Frank Mitchell aka “The Mad Axeman”, named for his murder rampage, who had escaped a couple of hours earlier from Broadmoor Hospital for the Criminally Insane, named for its location and inmates, whose grounds were near our own in the scrublands near Sandhurst, the British West Point, with some sort of common geist haunting the three establishments.

    My mild afright patrolling for the Axeman — if I confronted him, should I cry out “Stand and deliver” or “Who goes there”?? — can hardly compare with the terror inspired by North Korean troops equipped with axes..

    Nor can my six year term as a boarder at Wellington, where I was once beaten — four, I think, with a bamboo cane — for doing the Times crossword puzzle in preference to my maths homework, possibly compare with the sense of confinement experienced by the Gaza Palestinians..

    San Diego beaches, however, I have some little experience of — that’s San Diego beach, US of A to the right of the border wall in the photo above; to the left of the wall, however, it’s Tijuana beach, Mexico — and as Rudyard Kipling might have said, “seldom, if ever, the twain shall meet”.

    **

    Sources:

  • WaPo, At Korean summit in DMZ, ‘deranged’ ax murders still cast a shadow
  • NYT, For Gaza Protester, Living or Dying Is the ‘Same Thing’
  • NYT, Migrant Caravan, After Grueling Trip, Reaches U.S. Border. Now the Really Hard Part
  • See also:

  • Zenpundit, The Korean border / no border dance
  • Zenpundit, Sunday surprise: thinking of the Koreas, more
  • What is “a multicausal and multilevel understanding”?

    Friday, April 27th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — if you can lose your car in a multilevel parking garage, imagine how easy it is to lose your mind in a multilevel understanding ]
    .

    I mean, what is multicausal and multilevel understanding anyway?

    We know what the words mean, and can possibly gloss over them without pausing for the question as I intend it. But pause, please. What is it, in terms of brain function and or training, that gives us access to multicausal and multilevel understanding?

    **

    I came across the phrase in the publisher’s abstract for Bart Schuurman‘s book Becoming a European Homegrown Jihadist:

    How and why do people become involved in European homegrown jihadism? This book addresses this question through an in-depth study of the Dutch Hofstadgroup, infamous for containing the murderer of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was killed in November 2004 in Amsterdam, and for plotting numerous other terrorist attacks. The Hofstadgroup offers a window into the broader phenomenon of homegrown jihadism that arose in Europe in 2004 and is still with us today. Utilizing interviews with former Hofstadgroup participants and the extensive police files on the group, Becoming a European Homegrown Jihadist overcomes the scarcity of high-quality data that has hampered the study of terrorism for decades. The book advances a multicausal and multilevel understanding of involvement in European homegrown jihadism that is critical of the currently prevalent ‘radicalization’-based explanatory frameworks. It stresses that the factors that initiate involvement are separate from those that sustain it, which in turn are again likely to differ from those that bring some individuals to actual acts of terrorism. This is a key resource for scholars of terrorism and all those interested in understanding the pathways that can lead to involvement in European homegrown jihadism.

    **

    I’d expect Bart Schuuman fills the void in our understanding as described. But I was in another discussion today, in which a friend of mine, Mike Sellers, said he’d been trying to teach analysts at Ft Meade the kind of thinking that can hold two ideas, possibly contradictory, in the mind at one time. He found the task both interesting and difificult. But how do you manage the task of multicausal understanding without what I call contrapuntal thinking — the ability to hold two or more thoughts in mind at the same time?

    My friend’s teaching is strongly influenced by systems thinking, as first devised by Jay Forrester of MIT. Mike has a great lecture on systems and systems thinking in the context of games — he was lead designer on games like Sims 2

    My own approach in the HipBone Games is to ask players to create a single, deeply connected “thought” out for ten individual ideas on a suitable ten-move game-board — with a “two idea” board for my DoubleQuotes games:

    Over the course of twenty years experimenting, I’ve realised my DoubleQuotes is the ideal format for teaching / learning “contrapuntal thinking” — basically, that same “ability to hold two or more thoughts in mind at the same time” — or “how to think in terms of systems” — or “multicausal and multilevel understanding”..

    **

    Hay, this is relevant and more than relevant. Macron‘s address to the joint session of Congress today included an appeal for a renewal of multilateralism:

    This requires more than ever the United States involvement, as your role was decisive in creating and safeguarding the free world. The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism, you are the one who has to help to preserve and reinvent it.

    Here, see how that works:

    **

    Multilateral means many-sided, eh? — and considering many sides at once requires the by-now familiar “multicausal and multilevel understanding”.

    On Iran, he repeated his support for the nuclear trade deal and outlined a four-part solution to Trump’s concerns about the deal and Iranian expansionism in the Middle East.

    So just the Iran deal requires a four-sided understanding at minimum. And let me remind us, four-fold vision was the highest hope of William Blake, who wrote to Mr Butts — but I’ll show you the poem alongside one of his illustrations of the concept:

    Multicausal and — particularly, perhaps, in view of Blake — multilevel understanding may be more demanding than at first we think.

    And the world? The world requires this of us.

    _____________________________________________________________

    Helpful books:

    Amazon:

  • Bart Schuuman, Becoming a European Homegrown Jihadist: A Multilevel Analysis
  • Mike Sellers, Advanced Game Design: A Systems Approach
  • Jessica Dawson on Relationships with God and Community as Critical Nodes in Center of Gravity Analysis

    Friday, April 13th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — An important article, meaning one with which I largely, emphatically agree ]
    .

    Let me repeat: Jessica Dawson‘s piece for Strategy Bridge is an important article, meaning one with which I largely, emphatically agree — a must-read.

    **

    Prof Dawson writes:

    There is a blind spot in U.S. joint doctrine that continually hinders operational planning and strategy development. This blind spot is a failure to account for critical relationships with a person’s conception of god and their community, and how these relationships impact the operational environment.

    Let’s just say I was a contributing edtor at Lapido Media until its demise, writing to clue journos in to the religious significance of current events:

  • Lapido, Venerating Putin: Is Russia’s President the second Prince Vlad?
  • Lapido, ANALYSIS When laïcité destroys egalité and fraternité
  • Lapido is essentially countering the same blind spot at the level of journos, and hence the public conversation.

    **

    I haven’t focused on the relationship with community, but I have written frequently on what von Clausewitz would call “morale” in contrast with men and materiel. Prof Dawson addresses this issue:

    Understanding religion and society’s role in enabling a society’s use of military force is inherently more difficult than counting the number of weapons systems an enemy has at its disposal. That said, ignoring the people aspect of Clausewitz’s trinity results in an incomplete analysis.

    Indeed, I’ve quoted von Clausewitz on the topic:

    Essentially, war is fighting, for fighting is the only effective principle in the manifold activities designated as war. Fighting, in turn, is a trial of moral and physical forces through the medium of the latter. Naturally moral strength must not be excluded, for psychological forces exert a decisive in?uence on the elements involved in war.

    and:

    One might say that the physical seem little more than the wooden hilt, while the moral factors are the precious metal, the real weapons, the finely honed blade.

    **

    And Prof Dawson is interested in “critical nodes” and the mapping of relationships, vide her title:

    Relationships with God and Community as Critical Nodes in Center of Gravity Analysis

    :

    This too is an area I am interested in, as evidenced by my borrowing one of my friend JM Berger‘s detailed maps in my post Quant and qualit in regards to “al wala’ wal bara’”:

    That’s from JM’s ICCT paper, Countering Islamic State Messaging Through “Linkage-Based” Analysis

    Indeed, my HipBone Games are played on graphs as boards, with conceptual moves at their nodes and connections along their edges, see my series On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: twelve &c.

    **

    My specific focus, games aside, has been on notions of apocalypse as expectation, excitation, and exultation — in my view, the ultimate in what Tillich would call “ultimate concerns”.

    As an Associate and sometime Principal Researcher with the late Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, I have enjoyed years of friendship and collaboration with Richard Landes, Stephen O’Leary and other scholars, and contribuuted to the 2015 Boston conference, #GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

    **

    I could quote considerably more from Jessica Dawson’s piece, but having indicated some of the ways in which her and my own interests run in parallel, and why that causes me to offer her high praise, I’d like quickly to turn to two areas in which my own specialty in religious studies — new religious movements and apocalyptic — left me wishing for more, or to put it more exactly, for more recent references in her treatment of religious aspects.

    Dr Dawson writes of ISIS’ men’s attitudes to their wives disposing of their husbands’ slaves:

    This has little to do with the actual teachings of Islam

    She also characterizes their actions thus:

    They are granted authority and thus power over the people around them through the moral force of pseudo religious declarations.

    Some ISIS fighters are no doubt more influenced by mundane considerations and some by religious — but there’s little doubt that those religious considerations are anything but “pseudo religious”. Will McCants‘ book, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic Stat traces the history of ISIS’ theology from hadith locating the apocalypse in Dabiq through al-Zarqawi and al-Baghdadi to the loss of much of the group’s territory and the expansion of its reach via recruitment of individuals and cells in the west.. leaving little doubt of the “alternate legitimacy” of the group’s theological claims. Graeme Wood‘s Atlantic article, to which Prof Dawson refers us, is excellent but way shorter and necessarily less detailed.

    On the Christian front, similarly, eschatology has a role to play, as Prof Dawson recognizes — but instead of referencing a 2005 piece, American Rapture, about the Left Behind series, she might have brought us up to datw with one or both of two excellent religious studies articles:

  • Julie Ingersoll, Why Trump’s evangelical supporters welcome his move on Jerusalem
  • Diana Butler Bass, For many evangelicals, Jerusalem is about prophecy, not politics
  • As their parallel titles suggest, Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — which received a fair amount of press at the time that may have mentioned such a move would please his evangelical base, but didn’t explore the theology behind such support in any detail — has profound eschatpological implications.

    Julie Ingersoll’s book, Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction, is excellent in its focus on the “other side” of the ceontemporary evangelical right, ie Dominionism, whose founding father, RJ Rushdoony was a post-millennialist in contrast to La Haye and the Left Behind books — his followers expect the return of Christ after a thousand year reign of Christian principles, not next week, next month or in the next decade or so.

    Sadly, the Dominionist and Dispensationalist (post-millennialist and pre-millennialist) strands in the contemporary Christian right have mixed and mingled, so that it is hard to keep track of who believed in which — or what!

    **

    All the more reason to be grateful for Prof Dawson’s emphasis on the importance of religious knowledge in strategy and policy circles.

    Let doctrine (theological) meet and inform doctrine (military)!


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