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On humility: Clinton, Bush — and Trump

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — another “life imitates art” and a Trumpian ouroboros ]
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In my view, humility shaves ckoser than Occam’s Razor — Occam tends not to shave our assumptions, while humility invites us to consider even our thoughts, even our certainties, as uncertain, as open to question.

Did I mention I’m the proud owner of the domain name, Church of the Open Question?

**

Life imitates art:

Upper panel: George W Bush and Bill Clinton on humility:

Lower panel: from Madam Secretary, season 3..

Trumpian Ouroboros:

That’s actually brilliant, IMO. And Trump relishes and repeats it:

Hey, Pope Francis is a close second..

And then there’s this — delicious — from a WaPo piece titled Donald Trump’s Secret Service code name is less humble, more mogul:

During a lightning round of a debate, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump picked a potential Secret Service code name that was truly coded: HUMBLE. When the braggadocious billionaire starts to receive actual Secret Service protection Wednesday morning, agents plan to call him something a bit more fitting: MOGUL.

Okay. Mebbe that’s a bit more modest.

Hm. MOGUL as in magnate, tycoon? Or MOGUL as in speed-bump on the ski slopes?

The trouble with Providence

Friday, June 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — the Virginia shooting — providence, like grace, is whole cloth, or it is nothing ]
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The basic paradox: I thank God Steve Scalise is still among the living, may he fully and speedily recover

**

The trouble with Providence is that it makes more sense to the survivors than, on the whole, the deceased or those who grieve them. My father, gunnery officer on the British light cruiser Sheffield, survived the superior firepower of the German heavy cruiser Hipper in the Battle of the Barents Sea, and no doubt that was providential from my own perspective — I was born around elevn months later. Providential, too, it must have been on a larger scale — the Hipper was crippled:

When told of the news, Hitler flew into a rage. He referred to his ships as useless and decided on the spot that the High Seas Fleet should be scrapped. Admiral Raeder, commander of the Kriegsmarine, tended his resignation and was replaced by Admiral Dönitz.

My father’s guns, along with those of the Sheffield’s companion cruiser Jamaica, together disabled the Hipper.

Providential, three — in that same engagement, shrapnel knocked one of the eyes of Captain Robert St. V. Sherbrooke, commanding a contingent of British destroyers from Onslow, out of its socket, such is war, an incident which Sherbrooke ignored in the interest of continuing his command, and for which he later received the Victoria Cross, such is war. Such is war, such is providence, forty of Sherbrooke’s men on the Onslow lost their lives in the same two minutes in which he lost his eye.

**

I report all this because Glenn Beck just invoked Providence in the matter of the Congressional baseball practice shooting:

We have an amazing story to tell of what I believe is Divine Providence. I just — I want you to think of one thing. Imagine what America would be like today, if yesterday the leadership of the G.O.P. and the majority of the G.O.P., 10 percent of the G.O.P. and Congress were dead. If we had coffins that we were facing today instead of one coffin of the shooter and one still in critical condition, what would the conversation be like today?

I’ve often said, you’re going to wake up on a Monday, and by Friday, your country will be completely different. I believe that is coming. But I do believe we saw Divine Providence happen yesterday. So that didn’t happen this week.

So providence postpones what it can’t altogether prevent?

**

Glenn Beck, apparently — because he’s a Mormon, or a Christian more generally, or a believer, even more ecumenically, or a human, or at least a sentient being — or because he’s a media personality? — can serve as a spokesman for Providence:

Barry, let me — let me take you now to Divine Providence.

Beck is addressing Congressman Barry Loudermilk, who was present at the practice, who was himself a target — unlike Glenn — shot at, and providentially spared. It’s providential that we have Beck’s voice to explain to Loudermilk what happened..

I will tell you — I’ve seen some bad shots in my life. But for as many targets that were out on that field — and to have a rifle, I believe, Divine Providence played a role in keeping, you know, people safe yesterday. It is remarkable the number of rounds that were fired and the — the low number of people that were hit.

Providence approves the critical wounding of one congressman and the avoidance of same in several other cases, eh?

**

Look, if I was one of the congresspersons who survived, I’d be more than a little inclined to thank providence — and if I didn’t survive, I wouldn’t be around to blame it. So here’s a special case of “history is written by the victors” — “belief in providence is written by the survivors”.

The problem with providence as an explanation is that it tends to overlook those who didn’t survive its providential ministrations. And that’s a problem of cognitive dissonance, if one tries to extend providence past the individual usrvivor or group of survivors, to the world as a whole — or to the “next week” that Beck feels prrovidence is saving some potential victims for..

Ruthlessly applied, providence comes for us all, as it has first devised us all — and all’s fair in love and hate, war and peace.

Or unfair. Forget Glenn Beck, I’ll let you decide.

**

In a companion piece, Beck offers The Entire List of Who to Blame for the Attempted Slaughter of GOP House Members. Providence doesn’t catch any blame — and neither does the NRA, not Obama:

Here’s the truth. The shooter is responsible, by himself — not the gun, not the bullets, not the gun industry … not the NRA, not the left, not the right, not the president, not the former president, not Hillary Clinton, not Antifa — no one. The shooter is responsible, period.

Whee! And while we’re not blaming, or its corrollary, blaming, Glenn also posted The New York Times Runs the Worst Editorial in Human History, Blames SARAH PALIN for Giffords Shooting AGAIN

**

The SPLC reports:

Gunman Who Fired on Congressional Baseball Team Consumed by Anti-Trump Anger

There’s a specter here, if it’s not providence and it’s not any of the interested parties who are to blame. The specter is polarization.

But that’s for a follow-up post on The physics of politics, god willing.

Running — the pragmatic and the ecstatic

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — .. a runner moves between prose and poetry, mere winning and the runner’s high ]
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The pragmatic:

The ecstatic:

**

The pragmatic tells you what most running is like: the ecstatic tells you how you feel when you hit “runner’s high — here’s one athlete’s description of winning, where winning itself becomes the least interesting aspect of the race:

The starter gave us instructions, and the gun went off. I ran a few steps into a dimension I didn’t know existed.

Suddenly I seemed to be up in the rafters of the arena, looking down at my race far below. I could see the black framework of the high catwalks vaguely around me, the cables, the great spotlights, the blazing brilliance of the tiny track so far beneath me, and myself running in the midst of the others in my race that was on both with me and without me.

And in the total silence of this incredible vantage point, a voice said tome clearly, in a kindlysort of way, “Well, Grace, thisis what you always wanted.”

And then I was back down in my race again, winning it, setting a new U.S. record. Afterward, exuberant, curious, and a little wistful, I asked some friends who were there, “Didn’t anyone clap or cheer or anything?” I didn’t remember hearing the crowd at all.

“Sure they did! Everyone was yelling and screaming. Didn’t you hear them?”

No. I hadn’t heard anything. Except the voice. I don’t even remember anything about the race itself except for what I saw from up there.

That’s Grace Butcher, from Garth Battista, The Runner’s High: Illumination and Ecstasy in Motion. And the “high” doesn’t have to include an out-of-body experience, though I had that myself one day when I was very young. It’s just a matter of transcendance, of what the Buddhists would call “gone beyond” without further specifying..

Life as poetry.

There’s more than one way for a Muslim to have border problems

Monday, February 27th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Trump, Assad and Trump ]
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The first way, which is drawing a lot of fire these days, is via the Trump “Muslim ban” —

— but it ain’t the only way: angering al-Assad can also do the trick.

**

An alternative example of the first kind would give us this —

— in some ways it’s a closer match, since both Russo and Khatib were traveling to significant events where their work would be highlighted. On the other hand, the Muhammad Ali Jr instance is powerful by reason of the issue of his religion coming up..

**

Sources:

  • Guardian, US border agents ask Muhammad Ali’s son: ‘Are you a Muslim?’
  • Vox, The White Helmets cinematographer Khaled Khatib was coming to the Oscars
  • Guardian, Leading French academic threatened with deportation at Houston airport
  • **

    But then we could also juxtapose the alternative first examples with one another, making a DoubleQuote of two instances of problems with US border agents —

    — and yes, much of the world is looking on.

    Thucydides Roundtable, Book I: reflections in a beginner’s mind

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron ]
    .

    I’m entirely new to Thucydides, having received my copy of the book only on Friday, so I’ll keep this brief. I hope to have caught up a bit more by this time next week.

    Meanwhile, my mind works associatively, so..

    **

    rich-vs-poor-in-rio
    Riches and poverty in Rio

    The goodness of the land favored the enrichment of particular individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion.

    trump-border-wall
    Donald Trump

    **

    In Spencer-Brown’s inimitable and enigmatic fashion, the Mark symbolizes the root of cognition, i.e., the dualistic Mark indicates the capability of differentiating a “this” from “everything else but this.”

    He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive name.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech after a suicide bomb explosion in Istanbul on January 12, 2016, said: “Pick a side. You are either on the side of the Turkish government, or you’re on the side of the terrorists.”

    **

    The iconic 'Rumble in the Jungle' belt of late boxing champion Muhammad Ali is displayed for auction at Heritage Auctions house in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

    The iconic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ belt of late boxing champion Muhammad Ali is displayed for auction at Heritage Auctions house in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

    To this day among some of the barbarians, especially in Asia, where prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the contestants..

    Koki Kameda of Japan, center, donning the newly-captured champion belt, green, in addition to the two he already has, poses with his younger brothers Daiki, left, and Kazuki after Koki's victory over Alexander Munoz of Venezuela in their 12-round WBA bantamweight world title boxing bout in Saitama, Japan, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Koki Kameda won a unanimous decision over Munoz to take the vacant title. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Koki Kameda of Japan, center, donning the newly-captured champion belt, green, in addition to the two he already has, poses with his younger brothers Daiki, left, and Kazuki after Koki’s victory over Alexander Munoz of Venezuela in their 12-round WBA bantamweight world title boxing bout in Saitama, Japan, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Koki Kameda won a unanimous decision over Munoz to take the vacant title. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)


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