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Trump Comey — utterly devastating, no match

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — trump triumphing, trump trumped — which is it, obvs? ]
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Both op-eds, both from Washington Post, yesterday, June 10 2017:

My point being that we tend to write as though what seems obvious to us is obvious period, when it obviously isn’t always. A pity.

**

Sources:

  • Why Comey’s testimony was utterly devastating to Trump
  • Boy Scout James Comey is no match for Donald Trump
  • Oh I mean, everyone does it — I no doubt do it too. But according to Dorothy Lee, Linguistic Reflection of Winto Thought, among the Wintu there is an “attitude of humility and respect toward reality, toward nature and society”:

    I cannot find an adequate English term to apply to a habit of thought that is so alien to our culture. We are aggressive toward reality. We say, This is bread; we do not say, as the Wintu, I call this bread or I feel or taste or see it to be bread. The Wintu never say starkly this is; if he speaks of reality that is not within his own restricting experience, he does not affirm it, he only implies it. If he speaks of his experience he does not express it as categorically true.

    An eerie foreshadowing of Comey-Trump in the Gospel

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the distinction between philo and agapo in Greek, loyalty and honesty in public service ]
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    If you are familiar with the Gospel of John, you may recall the passage in which Christ questions Peter (upper panel below) which is often rendered in English “Do you love me?” “You know that I love you” (thrice — but which is subtler in the Greek, since Christ twice asks Peter if he loves him (unselfishly, most deeply), to which Peter responds that he likes him (feels affectionate or friendy love for him) — and on the third occasion, Christ uses Peter’s choice of verb, “Do you feel friendoy towards me?” and Peter answers, “Yes, you know I do.”

    There’s an eerie echo of that conversation in Jim Comey‘s prepared remarks for his tesimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence tomorrow (lower panel, above).

    Comey twice avoids giving his verbal assent to loyalty, which Trump each time asks for, ansd on the third occasion goes part way to meet him with an assurance of “honest loyalty.”

    Comey goes on to testify:

    As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.

    Both Christ and Comey strike me as attempting twice to hold their interlocutor to a higher standard than that which he proposes, while tactfully making a verbal concession on the third attempt…

    Heart Line — a response to Bill Benzon

    Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — design fascination — including a Mimbres rabbit with a supernova at its feet ]
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    Bill Benzon has been blogging a remarkable series of posts on Jamie Bérubé‘s drawings as recorded in the online illustrations to Michael Bérubé‘s book, Life As Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up.

    **

    I wanted to respond to Bill’s latest, Jamie’s Investigations, Part 5: Biomorphs, Geometry and Topology, which included this illustration:

    berube-benzon-5-biomorphs

    and these comments, which I’ve edited lightly for clarity and simplicity:

    I emailed Mark Changizi, a theoretical neuroscientist who has done work on letterforms. He has been making a general argument that culture re-purposes, harnesses (his term), perceptual capacities our ancestors developed for living in the natural world. One of his arguments is that the forms used in writing systems, whether Latinate or Chinese (for example), are those that happened to be useful in perceiving creatures in the natural world, such as plant and animal forms. I told him that Jamie’s forms looked like “tree branches and such.” He replied that they looked like people. His wife, an artist, thought so as well, and also: “This is like early human art.”

    You’ll see why that-all interests me — letters and life forms — below.

    And then:

    Yes, each is a convex polygon; each has several ‘limbs’. And each has a single interior line that goes from one side, through the interior space, to another side. The line never goes outside the polygon .. Why those lines? I don’t know what’s on Jamie’s mind as he draws those lines, but I’m guessing that he’s interested in the fact that, given the relative complexity of these figures and the variety among them, in every case he can draw such a line.

    **

    Two thoughts cross my mind.

    The first is that one of these forms, Benzon’s Biomorphic Objects 6a, bears a striking resemblance to the letter aleph, with which the Hebrew alphabet — or better, alephbeth — begins:

    berube-benzon-5-biomorph-6a-aleph

    There may be some connection there, I’m not sure — though Jamie also has a keen interest in alphabetic forms, as illustrated here:

    berube-benzon-5-letterforms

    **

    But it’s my second point that interests me more.

    These “biomorphic objects” with “single interior line that goes from one side, through the interior space, to another side” remind me of nothing so much as the Native American style of representing animals with a “heart line” — best illustrated, perhaps, by this Acoma Pueblo Polychrome Olla with Heartline Deer:

    The image comment notes:

    One generally associates the use of heartline deer with pottery from Zuni Pueblo and that is most likely the origin. The fact that it appears on Acoma Pueblo pottery has been explained in a number of fashions by a number of contemporary Acoma potters. Deer designs have been documented on Acoma pottery as early as 1880, but those deer do not feature heartline elements. Some potters at Acoma have indicated that Lucy Lewis was the first Acoma potter to produce heartline deer on Acoma pottery. She did this around 1950 at the encouragement of Gallup, New Mexico Indian art dealer Katie Noe. Lewis did not use it until gaining permission from Zuni to do so. Other potters at Acoma have stated that the heartline deer is a traditional Acoma design; however, there is no documented example to prove this. Even if the heartline deer motif is not of Acoma origin, potters at Acoma have expressed that it does have meaning for them. It is said to represent life and it has a spiritual connection to deer and going hunting for deer.

    Here’s a “heartline bear” from David and Jean Villasenor‘s book, Indian Designs:

    bear-heartline

    And here’s an equivalent Mimbres design for a rabbit with heartline, in which the line passes completely through the body from one side to the other, as in Jamie’s biomorphs:

    mimbres-rabbit

    Again, the comment is interesting — it cites a 1990 New York Times article, Star Explosion of 1054 Is Seen in Indian Bowl:

    When the prehistoric Mimbres Indians of New Mexico looked at the moon, they saw in its surface shading not the “man in the moon” but a “rabbit in the moon.” For them, as for other early Meso-American people, the rabbit came to symbolize the moon in their religion and art.

    On the morning of July 5, 1054, the Mimbres Indians arose to find a bright new object shining in the Eastern sky, close to the crescent moon. The object remained visible in daylight for many days. One observer recorded the strange apparition with a black and white painting of a rabbit curled into a crescent shape with a small sunburst at the tip of one foot.

    And so the Indians of the Southwestern United States left what archeologists and astronomers call the most unambiguous evidence ever found that people in the Western Hemisphere observed with awe and some sophistication the exploding star, or supernova, that created the Crab nebula.

    That would be the sunburst right at the rabbit’s feet!

    **

    Posts in Bill’s series thus far:

  • Jamie’s Investigations, Part 1: Emergence
  • Jamie’s Investigations, Part 2: On Discovering Jamie’s Principle
  • Jamie’s Investigations, Part 3: Towers of Color
  • Jamie’s Investigations, Part 4: Concentrics, Letters, and the Problem of Composition
  • Jamie’s Investigations, Part 5: Biomorphs, Geometry and Topology
  • My previous comment on #1 in the series:

  • On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: nine
  • Brutal Times 02

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on Kakutani, Hitler, Trump, Duterte, Aesop — and was Don Quixote a converso Jew? ]
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    You don’t have to be an aging Kremlinologist to read between the lines, you don’t have to be a member of the target audience to be alert for dog-whistles, you don’t need a decoder ring to catch what the Washington Post calls “a thinly veiled Trump comparison” in Michiko Kakutani‘s New York Times review of Volker Ullrich‘s new biography, Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939.

    tablet-dq-hitler

    However..

    **

    In his essay Persecution and the Art of Writing, Leo Strauss suggests that..

    Persecution gives rise to a peculiar technique of writing and therewith to a peculiar type of literature, in which the truth about all crucial things is presented exclusively between the lines.

    Such a style may or may not be evident in Michiko Kakutani’s review, but if it is there it is skilfully done — and not, I’d guess, in fear of persecution.

    There’s a blunt equivalent now in use of social media in which, to quote but one example (others, equally or more distasteful, here):

    “skittles” has come to refer to Muslims, an obvious reference to Donald Trump Jr.’s comparing of refugees with candy that “would kill you.”

    Here, the purpose is to avoid algorithms that hunt down racist and other hateful comments on social media and expunge them — so the code words used include google, skype, yahoo and bing.

    **

    But wait. If you lob the h-word at Donald Trump, what ammunition will you have left for Rodrigo Duterte? Duterte is quite open about his admiration for Hitler.

    But Trump?

    David Duke wouldn’t mind:

    The truth is, by the way, they might be rehabilitating that fellow with the mustache back there in Germany, because I saw a commercial against Donald Trump, a really vicious commercial, comparing what Donald Trump said about preserving America and making America great again to Hitler in Germany preserving Germany and making Germany great again and free again and not beholden to these Communists on one side, politically who were trying to destroy their land and their freedom, and the Jewish capitalists on the other, who were ripping off the nation through the banking system,

    And Trump himself? From that 1990 Vanity Fair interview:

    Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. Kennedy now guards a copy of My New Order in a closet at his office, as if it were a grenade. Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.

    It’s worth noting that a few lines later, Trump declares:

    If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.

    and that the interviewer, Marie Brenner, concedes:

    Trump is no reader or history buff. Perhaps his possession of Hitler’s speeches merely indicates an interest in Hitler’s genius at propaganda.

    **

    So. Why Trump?

    Mightn’t Kakutani simply be writing about Hitler and the new biography?

    Oh, and if you insist on her having a second target, Trump may be nearer to hand, but Duterte is, well, more overt about his leanings..

    Have you considered the Duterte possibility?

    **

    The range of uses to which “Aesopian language” — defined as:

    conveying an innocent meaning to an outsider but a hidden meaning to a member of a conspiracy or underground movement

    — can be put is enormous.

    Here, to take your mind off contemporary politics and point it towards the higher levels of literary and religious thought, is Dominique Aubier’s comment on the Quixote, from Michael McGaha, Is There a Hidden Jewish Meaning in Don Quixote?

    if one accepts that Cervantes’ thought proceeds from a dynamic engagement with the concepts of the Zohar, themselves resulting from a dialectic dependence on Talmudic concepts, which in turn sprang from an active engagement with the text of Moses’s book, it is then on the totality of Hebrew thought — in all its uniqueness, its unity of spirit, its inner faithfulness to principles clarified by a slow and prodigious exegesis — that the attentive reader of Don Quixote must rely in order at last to be free to release Cervantes’ meaning from the profound signs in which it is encoded.

    You want to read the Quixote? How about spending a few decades in the Judaica section of your local university library first?

    But then, those were brutal times.

    On going shopping

    Sunday, September 25th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — this one’s for the Thomas Hegghammer’s “Bored Jihadi” archives ]
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    For that special occasion when formal “penguin” attire is required, all black and white — yet with a casual artistic / rebellious flair:

    isis-fashion-poster2239940377

    A good place to shop for such things if you happen to be in Istanbul — Islami Giyim, or Islamic Clothing:

    jihadi-gift-shop

    Of course, you may not feel like dressing in support of terror — but you can still have swag:

    tote

    This tote-bag carries an Arabic inscription that reads:

    The only goal of this text is to spread panic among those who fear the Arabic language.

    And there are in fact people for whom a small amount of Arabic script is enough to call in the bomb squad, as occurred a few days back in Marshall’s Creek, Pennsylvania:

    cookies

    Mmm, date-filled cookies!

    **

    Sources:

  • Vocativ, The Perfect Gift for the Jihadi on Your Shopping List
  • Roads & Kingdoms, The Jihadi Gift Shop in Istanbul
  • Special Broadcasting Service, The Arabic on this tote bag is hilariously edgy
  • WNEP The News Station, Bomb Unit Investigates Box Left at Gas Station

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