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Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not on a level playing field anymore

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- sporting goodies ]
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The upper image illustrates what Brazil might have needed to beat Germany in the World Cup — you’ll note the slope is considerably steeper than 7 to 1, the final score. The lower image is art, okay?

Asymmetric whatnot.

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Sources:

  • Chef Lloyd, Brazils plan B for the 2nd half
  • Laurent Perbos, Aire
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    An unprecedented, unkind, under-the-radar cut

    Friday, May 9th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- an argument on behalf of the Fulbrights from the words of Muhammad Ali ]
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    Muhammad Ali famously described his strategy versus Sonny Liston thus:

    Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.

    I’m not sure if it’s been noted that floating like a butterfly is here, and perhaps must always be, the precursor to stinging like a bee –but I’d like to note it, not for the purpose of making a dent in discussions on strategy which my pay grade doesn’t permit, but to use it as a simle for the non-obvious, non-brute-force side of things, such as knowing your enemy, and showing it to a depth that shows you also know what “knowing” is…

    And that doesn’t just go for your enemies, it goes for your friends, your potential enemies, your potential friends, your frenemies… old uncle Tom Cobleigh and all, as we say in the UK.

    **

    Here’s a significant example, as described by Ann Jones in three powerful punches paragraphs:

    Will the State Department Torpedo Its Last Great Program?

    Often it’s the little things coming out of Washington, obscured by the big, scary headlines, that matter most in the long run. Items that scarcely make the news, or fail to attract your attention, or once noticed seem trivial, may carry consequences that endure long after the latest front-page crisis has passed. They may, in fact, signal fundamental changes in Washington’s priorities and policies that could even face opposition, if only we paid attention.

    Take the current case of an unprecedented, unkind, under-the-radar cut in the State Department’s budget for the Fulbright Program, the venerable 68-year-old operation that annually arranges for thousands of educators, students, and researchers to be exchanged between the United States and at least 155 other countries. As Washington increasingly comes to rely on the “forward projection” of military force to maintain its global position, the Fulbright Program may be the last vestige of an earlier, more democratic, equitable, and generous America that enjoyed a certain moral and intellectual standing in the world. Yet, long advertised by the U.S. government as “the flagship international educational exchange program” of American cultural diplomacy, it is now in the path of the State Department’s torpedoes.

    Right now, all over the world, former Fulbright scholars like me (Norway, 2012) are raising the alarm, trying to persuade Congress to stand by one of its best creations, passed by unanimous bipartisan consent of the Senate and signed into law by President Truman in 1946. Alumni of the Fulbright Program number more than 325,000, including more than 123,000 Americans. Among Fulbright alums are 53 from 13 different countries who have won a Nobel Prize, 28 MacArthur Foundation fellows, 80 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, 29 who have served as the head of state or government, and at least one, lunar geologist Harrison Schmitt (Norway, 1957), who walked on the moon — not to mention the hundreds of thousands who returned to their countries with greater understanding and respect for others and a desire to get along. Check the roster of any institution working for peace around the world and you’re almost certain to find Fulbright alums whose career choices were shaped by international exchange. What’s not to admire about such a program?

    I’d like to repeat a phrase that bears repeating:

  • it’s the little things coming out of Washington, obscured by the big, scary headlines, that matter most in the long run
  • **

    Ms Jones suggests we visit the Save Fulbright site.

    The “little things” she speaks of are the ones that “float like a butterfly” in Muhammad Ali’s terms — and do we really want our foreign policy devised for us by Sonny Liston?

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    Super Buds

    Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- you can't even watch the Super Bowl without the Antichrist slipping deftly into your subconscious -- or can you? ]
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    Thank God I don’t watch the Super Bowl. If I did, and unless I’d been taking a break during the commercials to go on a scavenger hunt in the kitchen, I might have been exposed to this:

    Horrific, no? And yet so smoothly and sweetly done!

    As you might imagine, this cute commercial was “the Most Successful Commercial of the Super Bowl” according to TIME, and “racked up more than 37 million views”.

    On the other hand, this video commentary has only managed 13,495 views as of the time my writing this post:

    It seems the forces of advertising Antichrist are beating out the voices of false prophecy about 2472 to 1.

    **

    Or perhaps not.

    I have an alternative theory. Perhaps the Budweiser Clydesdale horses are just Clydesdales, the puppies just puppies — and for the record, it was “17 Clydesdale horses and eight golden Labrador puppies” I missed, thank God, fingers crossed, just in case — and the ad just an ad, the beer just a beer, with nary an Antichrist in sight.

    **

    Scholar that I am, I believe you might like further resources with which to deepen your understanding of this matter of commercial appeal or (fingers crossed) theological interpretation.

    Our “co-prophet” skipped his usual introduction in this particular “cute puppy” video, but he posts extensively, and I was happy to find his commentary on the Vatican Doves, which I discussed recently [ here and here ]:

    So that’s how our co-prophet sees himself — the “third eagle” of the Apocalypse.

    And then there’s the ad itself, which I must finally admit I prefer to its alleged millennial meaning.

    Two looks behind the scenes:

    and:

    **

    And that’s it, folks.

    Sigmund Freud, or was it Groucho Marx, said it first: sometimes a Clydesdale is just a Clydesdale.

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    Hat-tip: blog-friend Bryan Alexander of the ever-ghastly Infocult.

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    Cricket news — the Pakistani Taliban umpire speaks out

    Friday, December 6th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- terror and games -- an odd couple methinks, but one that's not infrequently encountered ]
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    Pakistan Taliban umpire Shahidullah Shahid, left, speaks on Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, right

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    As you may know, I’m not too keen on sports — far too physical for sedentary me, even at a young age — but if there ever was a sport I could enjoy, it would be cricket. In fact I used to spend hours as a boy “playing cricket” in the outfield, singing quietly to myself and spotting caterpillars in the hawthorn hedges that edged my side of the field.

    Imagine my delight, then, to find the Pakistani Taliban has also developed a love for the game. From the Friday Times, today:

    Taliban have threatened media organizations for “quoting out of context” their spokesman’s video statement in which he had likened those who praise the US and criticize the Taliban to those who praise Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and criticise Pakistan’s cricket captain Misbahul Haq.

    The 17-minute video recording was released to present the Taliban’s outlook on the future of talks with the government, Pakistan and its politics, and the role of the armed forces. But what grabbed media attention was a two minute portion in which their spokesman used a cricket analogy to defend the controversial statement of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Munawar Hassan that Pakistani soldiers who died fighting the Taliban were not martyrs.

    “There is this Indian player called Tendulkar. He is being exceedingly praised by the Pakistani media and people. At the same time the media showed disapproval of Misbahul Haq. Even though Tendulkar is a great sportsman, you should not praise him because that is unpatriotic. Instead, you should praise Misbah despite the fact that he is a bad player, because he is ultimately a Pakistani,” said Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). “Those who praise the soldiers fighting for America, secularism, democracy and British-made laws are like those who lauded Tendulkar instead of Misbah.”

    All in all, I suppose it was an inevitable development — Imran Khan had supported a position that the TTP favored, and it’s hard to “like” Imran Khan without also “liking” cricket. The report continues:

    In the same video, he praised Tehrik-e-Insaaf leader Imran Khan for blocking NATO supplies to Afghanistan because the move was hurting US interests, adding that the Taliban had developed a soft corner for Khan because of the move.

    Of course, the Indians like cricket quite a bit, too.

    **

    What matters to me about caterpillars, aside for the intriguing “looping” movement some of them have down to a fine art, is the fact that they turn into butterflies — and if I may transcend the material world into pure metaphor for a moment, that butterflies in turn symbolize psyche.

    Me? I’m still in the outfield, still on the lookout for caterpillars, still playing my own highly contemplative form of cricket.

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    Serpent logic and related

    Saturday, September 14th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron -- where paradox begets form in phrasing, redux ]
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    Here for your entertainment and entrainment are some further instances where the tweet doubles back on itself, bites its tail, or otherwise embodies some form of “form” that’s noteworthy in its own right, and possibly indicative of the heart of a problem — think of these tweets as eddies in the flow of things, knots in the wood…

    Two arms crossed as in that MC Escher hand-draws-hand piece:

    And a net version of the same, aka “tit for tat”:

    Speaking of economics, here’s a bit of spiral logic — the economics of spiralling out of control?

    And here’s an example of “endless” recursion, as featured in two tweets about “end” times from Barth’s Notes:

    and its 2013 equivalent:

    **

    Okay, here are some simple sample opposites. First, the weather forecast for Syria:

    — spelled our explicitly by Andrew Stroehlein, who tweeted “Sunny with a chance of cluster bombs…” in response.

    That one seems fairly fair, but click on the links yourself to see the nuances in King‘s actual statements.

    **

    Now for some regular serpents’ tails, from the reasonably light-hearted to the heavier end of the scales:

    Okay, here are two from Mikko Hypponen, the first of which is frankly outdated, but still fun:

    Angela Watercutter caught the tide at just the right moment with her Wired piece, Skynet Becomes Self-Aware: How to Welcome Our AI Overlords:

    The time has come. According to the Terminator clock, at 8:11 p.m. Tuesday, Skynet will become self-aware. And humanity will be screwed. Going by canon set out in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, Judgment Day should hit Thursday.

    Never mind Mikko, this one’s funny too — if and only if one’s also familiar with Wikipedia, which seems plausible in all cases for those who follow twitter — it wins double-honors in fact, hitting it out of the self-reference ball-park and into parallelism as satire:

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    Namarupa, or “name and form”, has to do with parallelisms between a name and its referent — or what zen might call the “finger pointing” and the moon — always fun:

    The next one depends on your knowing that the Greek mythological creature known as a Naiad refers to “any of the nymphs in classical mythology living in and giving life to lakes, rivers, springs, and fountains”:

    – aptly named indeed.

    **

    We’re almost done — here’s one with a built in time-factor:

    It it still there? Aha!

    **

    Finally, this isn’t a serpent eating its tail by itself:

    — but it becomes one, I’d suggest, when Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011, retweets it!

    **

    Until next time…

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