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It’s easier to accept John Nash than the goddess Namagiri

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — delighted to find Ramanujan is not alone in dreaming of mathematics ]
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When the Hinduism Today writer above says people found Ramanujan‘s assertion that his equations were given him in dreams by the local goddess Namagiri “irksome” he was understing the case: many mathematicians are allergic to the idea of a goddess providing inspiration to a mathematician in a devotional dream state. Thus Krishnaswami Alladi, in his Review of the Movie on the mathematical genius Ramanujan, writes:

The legend is that the Hindu Goddess Namagiri came in Ramanujan’s dreams and gave him these formulae..

See? It’s a legend, a priori, since “goddesses” don’t exist.

John Nash, he of the Beautiful Mind, game theory equilibria, and the Nobel Prize, on the other hand — if he provides inspiration to a fellow mathematician in a dream?

Why, his solution can be acknowledged as such in a learned paper..

Tests, trials, temptations, tribulations

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — overstatement & correction in a Foreign Policy subtitle, more ]
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I believe it was the science fictioneer James Blish who first brought the idea of testing up to breaking point, but not beyond — or shall we call that, testing that’s asymptotic to one’s breaking point? — in Black Easter and Day after Judgment.

In those two novels, Blish describes a concordat between angelic and demonic forces, in which the devils can claim no soul for their own if they have tested that soul beyond its capacity, nor can the angels claim any soul for their own unless that soul has been tested up to that limit..

It’s a fascinating premise, and one that finds echoes in both the New Testament and Quran.

In the New Testament we read, for instance:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. [James 1:2-4]

and:

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.. [Corinthians 10:13]

Similarly in the Qur’an we find:

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.. [Qur’an 2.155]

and:

Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease. [Qur’an 65.7]

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Bearing all of which in mind, observe the subtle change in subtitle observable between this Foreign Policy tweet (“scouring”):

and the subtitle as it now stands on the FP page itself (“digging through”):

digging-through

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Cole Bunzel‘s article deserves your attention — it’s just that subtitle I’m a bit annoyed by.

It really doesn’t take must “scouring” of the Qur’an to discover that trials and setbacks are part of the divine plan — and that faith, patience, endurance are what will get one through them.

To my way of thinking, ‘digging through” is a clear improvement on “scouring” — but what’s really happening here is that ISIS propagandists are swapping out more immediately optimistic quotes for quotes that are better adapted to the long haul.

That, I think, is what Bunzel is getting at here, just as that is why the IS English language magazine is no longer called Dabiq, but Rumiyah instead.

It’s not a big mystery — they’re just picking their scriptural quotes to fit the changing situation.

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Edited to add:

I’m happy, but in no way surprised, to report that the subtitle in question was an editorial one, not the work of Cole Bunzel.

The map borders on the territory? Turkey, Palestine

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — maps as records, as wishes, as hints, as silent threats ]
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Interesting things, maps. Models and descriptions, too, but it’s maps I’m thinking of here. Two examples:

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Turkey:

turkish-map

From my point of view, the most striking paragraph in the Foreign Policy piece titled Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming The Ottoman Empire was this one:

At first glance, the maps of Turkey appearing on Turkish TV recently resemble similar irredentist maps put out by proponents of greater Greece, greater Macedonia, greater Bulgaria, greater Armenia, greater Azerbaijan, and greater Syria. That is to say, they aren’t maps of the Ottoman Empire, which was substantially larger, or the entire Muslim world or the Turkic world. They are maps of Turkey, just a little bigger.

Map bloating & boasting is obviously bigger business than I had fully realized.

Also of interest was the comment:

On two separate occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul..

Mosul, okay, noted — but what interests me more is the parallelism with Putin‘s attitude to the Ukraine:

“Novorossiya” or “New Russia”: Putin only briefly mentioned that term during a five-hour, televised question-and-answer session this month. But his revival of that geographic title for southern and eastern Ukraine—territory won from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century by Catherine the Great—is resonating among Russians today.

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Palestine:

One other recent map controversy caught my eye…

google-map

The claim was made that Google had eliminated the name Palestine from Google Maps. Google denied this:

“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip,’ ” the company said in a statement. “We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.” It is unclear if that bug played a role in spurring the online outrage.

Elizabeth Davidoff, a spokeswoman, said in an email that the company had also never used the label “Palestinian territories” on its maps. The bug affecting the words “Gaza Strip” and “West Bank” persisted on Wednesday, but when Google Maps functions properly both areas are labeled and separated from Israel by a dotted line to signify that their borders are not internationally recognized.

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Dotted lines in the sand..

On targeting as a mood this electoral season, 2

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — honor and shame ]
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dq-600-emmett-till

Not “no comment” — speechless.

On targeting as a mood this electoral season, 1

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — the only virtue I can see in this darkness is that the light contrasts with it ]
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I find this frankly horrifying:

This, at a supposedly Christian university?

Feh.

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Mark you, I think targeting an individual — any individual –in this way is very different from targeting contested seats in an election. I can understand both Democrats and Republicans using the imagery of targets or cross-hairs to suggest where they’d like their supporters to get active, get out the vote and win seats..

acceptable-or-not

I said as much in On sneers, smears, and mutual sniping:

Neither “targetting” political adversaries nor “having them in your crosshairs” equates to killing or there would have been a whole lot more attempted assassinations — just the one was bad enough.

Have some proportion, people.

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However, as an inveterate DoubleTweeter I have to say that pinning targets or cross-hairs on individual leaders in highly charged political disputes speaks a wholly different language, and presents a far higher threat level, than targeting districts on an electoral map:

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For the record, I find this no less offensive:

trump-target


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