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Is Poetry plus Science a zero sum game?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — for Adam Elkus ]
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A case study in the heliotrope:

SPEC DQ heliotropes

Do we gain as much in science as we lose in poetry, when we switch explanatory frameworks?

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F Scott Fitzgerald:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

How about holding two explanatory frameworks in mind?

Adam, I think you’re doing something of the sort with qualitative & quantitative approaches, right? And I quote

The work merges my longstanding interests in intellectual history and qualitative research approaches to studying strategy and decision-making and my technical interests in simulation, modeling, cognitive science, and machine intelligence programming.

War, Games and morale

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — on gaming “living and moral forces” — with a whiff or two of Montaigne ]
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the-mind-is-a-dangerous-weapon-even-to-the-possessor

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Let’s start with Clausewitz, On War.

He says — and we’d be wise to pay attention — “most of the matters dealt with in this book are composed of equal parts of physical and of moral causes and effects.” Earlier in the paragraph, he’d said, “The effects of physical and psychological factors form an organic whole which, unlike a metal alloy, is inseparable..” — which puts the physical and the moral on equal footing. He then tilts the board decisively in favor of the “moral” factors —

One might say that the physical factors seem little more than the wooden hilt, while the moral factors are the precious metal, the real weapon, the finely-honed blade.

Furthermore, these “moral factors” are “intangible” — or as Michael Handel puts it:

In contrast to the physical forces, which are relatively easy to estimate, the equally important moral forces are more difficult to gauge.

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Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work and Gen. Paul Selva, Revitalizing Wargaming is necessary to be prepared for future wars:

For example, faculty and students at the Naval War College integrated wargaming into their entire course of study, analyzing the then-novel concept of carrier task force operations, the role of submarines in scouting and raiding, and how to provide logistics support to fleet operations spread over the vast Pacific Ocean. Wargames in classrooms at Quantico helped the Marine Corps develop new concepts for amphibious warfare and conceive of new techniques for capturing advanced naval bases. Wargamers at the Army War College explored how to employ tanks and artillery on infantry-dominated battlefields and examined the logistical challenges of fighting a war far from American shores.

and:

Most importantly, players should be able to observe and live with the consequences of their actions (where possible, based on previous rigorous analysis) in the face of a thinking and reacting competitor, and so come to understand dynamic military competition from the perspective of opposing sides. Actions taken by the players on both sides must have tangible consequences that are determined — where possible — by the actual performance of weapons and sensors in the real world, backed by a rigorous adjudication process using the best available analysis and professional judgment.

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In the first of those paragraphs, we have “carrier task force operations”, “the role of submarines”, “logistics support”, “fleet operations”, “amphibious warfare”, “advanced naval bases”, “tanks and artillery”, infantry-dominated battlefields”, and more “logistical challenges”.

Now admittedly, that’s pre-WWII wargaming — but no mention there of the impact of upcoming psychological forces such as the Nuremberg rallies, Hitler’s obsession with Wagner and Bayreuth, Leni Riefenstahl, Himmler’s occult interests, and so forth — not because they were known or in existence at the time, they weren’t, but because they constituted in the event precisely the sort of intangible morale boost / force multiplier that can tip a battlefield and slide a war, as per Clausewitz.

Nary a mention of psychology, moral, morale, espirt, spirituality, religion, let alone Dempsey’s “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” which we now face in IS.

And that second paragraph, dealing with the present and near future — the move to consider dynamic interaction is to be lauded, but once again we’rew in the realm of “weapons and sensors in the real world”. I’m led to the suspicion that current wargaming doesn’t know quite how to deal with “tangible consequences” that are not determined “by the actual performance of weapons and sensors” but by, ahem, passion.

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Raisciac

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If moral causes and effects are as potent as weapons, or even, as Clausewitz said, are themselves “the real weapon, the finely-honed blade”, games focused not on performances of weapons but on moral causes and effects — games that game passions — must surely have a significant role to play in revitalizing wargaming.

Survival rates, a quick comparison

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — shifting fashions in “some are more equal than others” ]
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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. Further, we believe the equality therein described applies also to women and children.

Accordingly, we note:

or bring forth this comparison:

Angels considered as an Air Force

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — when not dancing innumerably on the heads of pins ]
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I responded to a question from David Ronfeldt today by saying I don’t know of a book that offers a “a sustained, point-for-point, systematic, thorough comparison” between earlier Christian and contemporary Islamist religious violence.

I do share his concern for point-for-point comparisons, however, and this one popped up as I was working on my response to David:

SPEC angels rank clairvaux

These two quotes are abstract, indeed metaphysical, I know, and don’t deal with human-on-human violence as such — but the DoubleQuote they form is nevertheless a point-for-point comparison, and the very exactness of its counterpoint gives it the sort of power the best haiku have, I believe, offering us wit in brevity, multum in parvo, small is beautiful.

Recent hacks and the King James Version

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — the OMB and Ashley Madison hacks — and some verses to consider alongside them ]
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SPEC OMB hack

Given my interest in apocalyptic, which Wikipedia describes thus

An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: apokalypsis, from apo and kalypto meaning “uncovering”), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.

— it is only natural that the revelation of secrets should provide a sometime theologian such as myself with scriptural memories..

SPEC Ashley Madison hack

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It has long seemed to me that “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7. 1-2) offers an extraordinarily non-vengeful, non-violent option within the tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye scriptural formulation of justice.


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