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Of rules and regs

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — that little free libraries are like the Sabbath, and on the close-packing of angels ]
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Let us suppose a parallel reality in which squares and circles, cubes and spheres, have wings. The nature of bureaucracy is that in the interest of packing squares and circles, cubes and spheres, it lops off their wings — convenient but inelegant, and what a waste of flight!

Example:

The Little Free Library concept is premised on the blessing of books — and the generosity of a gift economy.

Individuals put up little free libraries outside their houses, often repurposing bird feeders or mail boxes — but zoning bureaucrats not infrequently try to shut them down:

Little Free Libraries on the wrong side of the law

Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small community libraries where residents can share books.

Officials in Los Angeles and Shreveport, La., have told the owners of homemade lending libraries that they’re in violation of city codes, and asked them to remove or relocate their small book collections.

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Scriptures:

There’s actually a Biblical injunction about this sort of thing — Mark 2.27:

The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath..

It’s a matter of priorities: zoning laws are intended to facilitate human life, not to frustrate it.

Or as Lao Tzu might say, the zoning that can be set forth in rules and regs isn’t the ideal zoning.

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Creativity & Bureaucracy, PS, NB:

I usually think of winged squares and so forth in terms of creative ideation, and how creative ideas can get the creativity clipped from them in committe — making the point that a winged square is, in an important sense, a better “translation” of a winged circle than a circle with its wings clipped will ever be.. since it captures the material / ethereal binary that’s the essence of imagining a circle with wings.

Compare Picasso‘s reported observation, “the best criticism of any work of art is another work of art.”

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Has anyone figured out the best method of close-packing angels?

Argh.

Lao Tzu in the Comey hearing

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — not the most politically relevant quote from Comey, but perhaps the most curious ]
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It’s not every day you get to see Lao Tzu playing out in the natsc arena:

Sources:

  • Stephen Mitchell, tr., Tao Te Ching, chapter 56
  • Politico, James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia
  • From Brooklyn to Birmingham, a contemplative stroll

    Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — unity in the face of difference, radiance in the face of rage ]
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    This little pilgrimage began when I saw this tweet, reteeted by The Bridge initiative:

    A Taoist, and from Brooklyn — okay!

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    I went off to track down Jackie Summers from Brooklyn, and behold, checking his FB feed I run across this, from a few days back:

    which sends me to this deliciously quiet and unassuming TV news report from, yes, New Zealand if I’m not mistaken:

    [ would that all the world’s newscasters showed such restraint ]

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    That newscast in turn let me to this tweet from a British MP:

    And this even more glorious photo of Saffyah Khan‘s face, taken from the Guardian’s report, Protest photos: the power of one woman against the world:

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    From that Guardian article:

    Shows of strength and defiance aren’t in short supply at your average protest – demonstrating, by its nature, requires a level of commitment that weeds out the bystanders, the unimpressively apathetic. But what is it that makes the money shot? The protest photo that goes viral? Well, for one, women. Or, more accurately, one woman. Often a striking, beautiful-looking woman. But mostly, a woman who looks like a badass without seeming to do anything much that is dramatic at all.

    For anyone trying to work out the Venn diagram of iconic protest imagery, three tropes will immediately jump to the fore: the quiet dignity of said woman; the battle-hungry paraphernalia of male authority (your shields and batons and chunky uniforms); and the dramatic flip of power that clash presents.

    **

    Pretty much all of the above — the Taoist, the Hassidim, the Muslim lady with child, the radiant protester Saffiyah Khan, Jess Phillips MP — have gone viral, in a world that thirsts for such things.

    Deep bows to them all!

    Cherry blossom season 02

    Sunday, April 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — cherry blossoms and kamikaze, Palm Sunday and istishhad ]
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    It’s cherry blossom season, it’s Palm Sunday. Blossoms fall, while temporary followers of Christ — they’ll abandon him to crucifixion later in the week — celebrate Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem strewing palm leaves at this feet.

    **

    In the upper panel, Japanese self-sacrifice with intent to kill Americans:

    The Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (“cherry blossom”) was a purpose-built, rocket powered human-guided anti-shipping kamikaze attack aircraft employed by Japan towards the end of World War II

    Kamikaze pilots — the term translates to “divine wind” — drew strong associations between the transience of cherry blossoms and their own lives.

    From WIkipedia:

    The names of four sub-units within the Kamikaze Special Attack Force were Unit Shikishima, Unit Yamato, Unit Asahi, and Unit Yamazakura.[22] These names were taken from a patriotic death poem, Shikishima no Yamato-gokoro wo hito towaba, asahi ni niou yamazakura bana by the Japanese classical scholar, Motoori Norinaga. The poem reads:

    If someone asks about the Yamato spirit [Spirit of Old/True Japan] of Shikishima [a poetic name for Japan] — it is the flowers of yamazakura [mountain cherry blossom] that are fragrant in the Asahi [rising sun].

    From Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers:

    As Hayashi entered the military and struggled to come to terms with death, he came to identify himself with cherry blossoms. In a letter to his mother, he laments his fate: the cherry blossoms at the Wo?n-san Base in Korea, where he was stationed, have already fallen, and yet the time for his sortie has not come. To his younger brother he writes from the Kanoya Base: “Cherry blossoms are blooming and I am going” (90). Hayashi consciously draws an analogy between himself and the fl owers; their falling signifi es the time for his death.

    Other people also used the metaphor of cherry blossoms to refer to Hayashi. A poem written by his mother after the end of the war contains the idiomatic expression the “falling of my son,” applying the word conventionally used for the falling of cherry petals to the death of Ichizo¯. Hayashi’s friend Hidemura Senzo¯ laments that “Hayashi’s youth is fallen,” like cherry petals, but adds: “Peace arrived but not the peace you wished to bring through your sacrifi ce; it is only in the miserable aftermath of defeat.” Hidemura concludes, “Beauty appears in a sensitive vessel and life is short” (143–47).

    See also: Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko (2002). Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History.

    **

    In the lower panel, the face of a child killed in the ISIS-claimed suicide bombing of a church in Egypt this Palm Sunday, following an earlier ISIS announcment that they would be targeting Egyptian (Coptic) Christians.

    ISIS Claims 2 Deadly Explosions at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday

    TANTA, Egypt — Islamic State suicide bombers attacked two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, killing at least 40 worshipers and police officers stationed outside in the deadliest day of violence against Christians in the country in decades.

    The militant group claimed responsibility for both attacks in a statement via its Aamaq news agency, having recently signaled its intention to escalate a campaign of violence against Egyptian Christians.

    The first explosion occurred about 9:30 at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during a Palm Sunday Mass. Security officials and a witness said that a suicide bomber had barged past security measures and detonated his explosives in the front pews, near the altar.

    At least 27 people were killed and 71 others injured, officials said.

    Hours later, a second explosion occurred at the gates of St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. That blast killed 13 people and wounded 21 more, the Health Ministry said.

    The patriarch of the Egyptian Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, who is to meet with Pope Francis on his visit to Egypt on April 28 and 29, was in the church at the time but was not injured, the Interior Ministry said.

    See also:

    ‘God gave orders to kill every infidel’ ISIS vows to massacre Christians in chilling video<

    **

    The joyous palm leaves of Sunday, greeting Christ‘s arrival in Jerusalem, will ritually and symbolically turn to ashes later in the week, as the adoring crowd turns vicious and demands his crucifixion.

    Cherry blossom season 01

    Sunday, April 9th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — scitech & artpo, two ways of seeing ]
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    It is cherry blossom season in Japan:

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    The upper panel image above is from an Economist blog, the lower from a Hiroshige print.

    From the Economist piece, timeless:

    HANAMI, the Japanese custom of contemplating the impermanence of life by gazing at the fleeting beauty of blossoming flowers, goes back a long way. “The Tale of Genji”, a tenth-century masterpiece that is perhaps the world’s first novel, devotes a chapter to the cherry-blossom festival staged in the emperor’s great hall. Diarists have keenly chronicled the comings and goings of cherry blossoms for centuries—records from Kyoto, the old capital, date back 1,200 years. This precious, ancient data set reveals a disturbing trend: in recent decades, the blossoms have emerged much sooner than they once did.

    and (continuing) in our own time:

    This precious, ancient data set reveals a disturbing trend: in recent decades, the blossoms have emerged much sooner than they once did.

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    Header:

    Japan’s cherry blossoms are emerging increasingly early


    Subhead:

    Experts think climate change is to blame

    Early: unh-uh. Fleeting: yes.


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