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Archive for the ‘Doublequotes’ Category

Warriors with and without Wagner

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — pursuant to my continuing interest in haka and other arts of intimidation ]

Air Cav:



Just so you know, here’s a close-up of a jade Death Whistle (click image for more video):

close up of  a jade death whistle

Hat tip to Bryan Alexander of Infocult: Uncanny Incormatics

Comparative safety: NSA and Burma

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — clear proof that blasphemy is more provocative than ironic protest ]

It is apparently safer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation to put headphones on the US bald eagle as featured in the seal of the National Security Agency

SPEC DQ Buddha earphones

… than it is for a Kiwi bar-keeper to put headphones on the Buddha while advertising an event at his bar in Rangoon, Burma.

A little something to chew on.


It seems plausible that the Buddha, had he wished to wear headphones, would have chosen the noise-canceling kind.

Of border crossings, and the pilgrimage to Arbaeen in Karbala

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — as one headline put it, 20 Million Shia Muslims Brave Isis by Making Pilgrimage to Karbala ]

You may remember IS / Daesh bulldozing the berm separating Syria and Iraq (upper image, below) not so long ago:

SPEC border crossings

Putting that into perspective is this image from the border between Iran and Iraq (lower image, above), as millions of pilgrims queue up there on their way to Karbala for Arbaeen, the final day of the Shia’s forty days mourning for Imam Hussein.


At a time when the sectarian anti-Shia brutalities of Daesh / IS are capturing the attention of many in the west, the presence of Christian priests participating in the Arbaeen proceedings (upper panel, below)) echoes Pope Francis’ recent gesture in offering his prayers in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul:

SPEC christians at arba'een

The enormous turnout for Arbaeen in Karbala this year — those gathering at the shrine are reported to number 17.5 million (lower panel, above) — can be seen as a mark of Shia solidarity and devotion in the face of possible violence from Sunni jihadists.


One tweeter posted this image of a road sign seen along the pilgrimage route early in the forty-day period of mourning:

If it rains Daesh, we will still visit Hussein

The sign reads: If it rains Daesh, still we will visit Hussein!



  • Guardian: Isis breach of Iraq-Syria border merges two wars into one ‘nightmarish reality’
  • Iraq Live Update: Iran-Iraq border crossing … Millions queue to go Karbala

  • Shafaqna: Christian priests in the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS)
  • Iraq Live Update: Largest prayer congregation in the world

  • IB Times: 20 Million Shia Muslims Brave Isis by Making Pilgrimage to Karbala for Arbaeen
  • John Brennan & Jay Forrester, George Kennan & Isaac Luria

    Friday, December 12th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — a little something on torture and our knowledge of causality, also man the microcosm in diplo-politics ]

    With John Brennan talking about the “unknowable” causality between what I choose to call torture and what I am content to call the elicitation of actionable intelligence (upper panel, below) — not that I claim any originality to either of those phrasings — I was forced to remind myself of Jay Forrester‘s comments on causality (lower panel) — comments which amount to a warning against simplistic thinking and easy explanations:

    SPEC unknowables

    The human psyche is indeed “complex”, and perhaps more inscrutable than the term “complexity” itself suggests.


    But that was not all: Director Brennan also entered into my own preferred realms of anthropology, psychology and theology, and spoke to the divided nature of our humanity:

    But we are not a perfect institution. We’re made up of individuals. And as human beings, we are imperfect beings.

    That in turn overlapped with another DoubleQuote I was formulating at the time, this one juxtaposing a comment about George Kennan with the Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria‘s concepts of the Shattering of the Vessels and the Repair of the World.

    Kennan’s chapter heading (as quoted by Joseph Epstein in the upper panel, below) refers to the microcosm:

    SPEC cracked vessels

    It seems only appropriate to me to note that the Ari provides us with its macrocosmic equivalent — and also, under the name Tikkun Olam (repair of the world), a sense of what is now required of us.

    Some thoughts for Marc Andreessen & Adam Elkus

    Thursday, December 11th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — proposing a simple tweak for Twitter as a “difference that might make a difference” ]

    Marc Andreessen gave us the first web browser, NCSA Mosaic. Without it, we’d be in an alternate universe. Much gratitude.


    A few days back, Andreessen tweeted:

    Behold, two ideas, each one commonly voiced and easily taken or granted, which move in opposite directions.

    Andreessen has a nose for these things. Sometimes he uses two tweets to point up this kind of paradox, sometimes just the one. But he’s intrigued, presumably, by the fact that two such contradictory attitudes can both persist in the same cloud of discussion without drawing much attention to their discord — and that when they are isolated and juxtaposed in this way, the discord jumps out at us, and with any luck we begin to question assumptions and actually think our way to a more nuanced understanding of the topic in question.

    He’s using form to sharpen insight.


    More than that, conceptual juxtaposition is the form he’s using, and that’s a form I’ve been exploring myself here on Zenpundit and elsewhere under the name DoubleQuotes for a while.

    I use conceptual juxtaposition myself for a variety of purposes, not least because it’s the seed form of creative activity — the intersection between different ideas is the “seam” where Koestler finds the origins of humor, tragedy and discovery:



    My own DoubleQuotes format is a means of capturing those intersections, whether they be verbal, visual, aural or even numerical, as shown in these two examples:

    SPEC Baghdad 450


    SPEC Karman Gogh 450


    A while back, Adam Elkus took note of what Andreessen was up to with his juxtapositions, and thought they merited comment in their own right:

    Adam also noted the similarity between our respective thought processes, and followed up by tweeting, “In fact, one wonders if @pmarca and @hipbonegamer could team up for a double quote post.” I invited @pmarca to play a round or two of DoubleQuotes with me, there was a hiatus of a couple of weeks..

    ..and then Adam retweeted an inquiry along similar lines:

    and responded:

    to which I replied, “Let me think on it.”


    I have been thinking..

    Twitter already features a line connecting two tweets when one is a direct response to the other:


    That’s a minimalist version of what I’d like to see — but I’d like to be able to lock two tweets, or retweets, together at the time of posting. I don’t know if this is app territory or something Twitter might want to create itself, but I ran across the two tweets that follow…

    within a few minutes of one another on my feed, but with fifteen or so intervening tweets…

    and I wanted to RT them together as a pair — not one followed by the other, with who knows how many tweets from other people in between them as they appear in my tweeps’ feeds.

    In those two n\tweets together, eccentric mechanical beauty meets eccentric natural beauty, I like both, but more than that, I like the contrast, and the underlying similarity — in this case, a similarity that is found in the eye of this beholder, and which I hope might catch the eye of like-minded others.


    So: what I’d like to see is an affordance for posting two tweets or RTs as a connected whole.

    This might be for the purpose of an Andreessen paradox, or a HipBone DoubleQuote, for raising a question or pointing up an irony, for illustrating parallelisms or oppositions in the editing of a film … the possibilities are endless.

    That single minimalist line tying the two tweets together would be a starting point, but very simple graphics could be devised for signaling identity (the line features a small equals sign at its mid-point), inequality (“does not equal”), parallelism (double line), directionality or causality (an arrow), paradox (two arrows in opposite directions), question (a question mark), or recursion (an arrow chasing its tail), etc..

    Lines with ah! oy! hu! and eureka! at their midpoints would also be neat:

    double tweet links


    Whether with or without these graphical niceties, the capacity to DoubleTweet would put us in play mode, insight mode, aha! mode.

    We could use more exercise in that mode of being and thinking, no?

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