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Surprise, surprise, surprise

Monday, November 9th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — astronaut in a cathedral, nuclear reactor in Gabon ]

I enjoy scoping and snoping out strange claims, and had to check out possible anachronicities not once but twice today — first, to verify the presence of an astronaut in Salamanca’s seventeenth-century (1513-1733 to be more precise) “New Cathedral”:

SPEC DQ cathedral astronaut african reactor

and then, of a nuclear reactor from two billion years ago in Gabon, West Africa.


Neither one turned out to be von Däniken fool’s gold, but both certainly glisten enough to be worth a mention.

The Salamanca cathedral astronaut is there, carved in stone, all right — but as part of a 1992 renovation. And what’s most interesting to me is that it’s entirely in conformity with tradition for an artist working today on such a restoration to “sign” his work with a contemporary flourish of this sort. It is thus faithful to what Benedict XVI would call the hermeneutic of continuity.

And 2 billion year old nuclear reactor?

It’s not as old as the sun, of course, by about 3.6 billion years, nor as close to us, nor as vast — but it’s there, it’s there.

Hat tips:

  • for the astronaut, Jeff DeMarco
  • for the reactor, Cheryl Rofer
  • Nuclear sites and religion, flags and clouds

    Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — Oak Ridge, Albi, Bushehr, a Sinan mosque, clouds formation, the Karmapas ]

    Cheryl Rofer very kindly suggested a DoubleQuote to me today, comparing and contrasting the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, Oak Ridge:

    HEUMF at Oak Ridge

    and the Cathedral of Albi — heart of the district in which the Albigensians / Cathars briefly and most interestingly flourished:

    Albi Cathedral


    I particularly appreciate this juxtaposition because of an earlier DoubleQuote I posted, drawing a similar comparison between Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant:

    bushehr 600

    and the Mosque of the Conqueror in Istanbul:

    mosque-of-the-conqueror 600


    Also notable as a DoubleQuote today is this image at the top of a Lion’s Roar post titled Is that the Karmapa’s Dream Flag over Colorado?:

    Karmapa Dream Flag DQ

    The Karmapa Lama is the holder of the oldest lineage of reincarnated high lamas in Tibetan tradition, and head of the Karma Kagyu stream of teachings. The flag of the Karmapas can be seen below:

    flag of the karmapas 600

    Here’s the brief video from which that cloud-image was taken:

    h/t Jacob DeFlitch

    Note also the resemblance to what is probably my personal favorite DoubleQuote, comparing & contrasting van Gogh‘s night sky and von Kármán‘s vortex street:


    It may be worth adding that the Buddha is not above using cloud metaphors, as this celebrated verse from the Diamond Sutra, here in Red Pine‘s translation, illustrates:

    As a lamp, a cataract, a star in space
    an illusion, a dewdrop, a bubble
    a dream, a cloud, a flash of lightning
    view all created things like this.

    Our ZP blog-friends on the Iran deal

    Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — waiting for the other shoe to drop — or be thrown, i suppose — or if a sandal, for the sand to be shaken off it if need be ]


    Which leaves us with:

    AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site

    Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press. [ .. ]

    The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.

    On Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the Obama administration was “confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program. … The IAEA has separately developed the most robust inspection regime ever peacefully negotiated.”

    All IAEA member countries must give the agency some insight into their nuclear programs. Some are required to do no more than give a yearly accounting of the nuclear material they possess. But nations- like Iran – suspected of possible proliferation are under greater scrutiny that can include stringent inspections.

    The agreement in question diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied – trying to develop nuclear weapons.

    Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country.

    The White House has repeatedly denied claims of a secret side deal favorable to Tehran. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told Republican senators last week that he was obligated to keep the document confidential.


    IAEA Director General’s Statement and Road-map for the Clarification of Past & Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program

    IAEA Director General’s Statement:

    I have just signed the Road-map between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. The text has been signed on behalf of Iran by the country’s Vice-President, and President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mr Ali Akbar Salehi. This is a significant step forward towards clarifying outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. [ .. ]

    Joint Statement

    by the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi [ .. ]

    Road-map for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program
    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) agree, in continuation of their cooperation under the Framework for Cooperation, to accelerate and strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at the resolution, by the end of 2015, of all past and present outstanding issues that have not already been resolved by the IAEA and Iran.

    In this context, Iran and the Agency agreed on the following: [ .. ]

    5. Iran and the IAEA agreed on another separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.

    It appears to me that the other shoe is still up in the air — and must feel much the same way Schrödinger’s Cat feels.

    As opposed to carnivores, militarily speaking

    Thursday, August 13th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — discussing the Iran deal, Gershom Gorenberg introduces me to some Israeli slang ]

    Source: izquotes.com


    Gershom Gorenberg is a friendly acquaintance from Center for Millennial Studies days, and his book The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount is one I admire, and one that is becoming more and more relevant as the days and years pass. In an article for Prospect, What a No Vote on the Iran Deal Would Mean, he cites “veterans of [Israel’s] military and intelligence agencies” as “the most prominent dissenters from Netanyahu’s position” on the Iran agreement, detailing:

    There’s Shlomo Brom, ex-head of strategic planning in the Israeli general staff, who has debunked precisely the myths about the Vienna accord that fill Schumer and Sherman’s statements. Ami Ayalon, former commander of the Israeli Navy and ex-head of the Shin Bet security service, has stated that “when it comes to Iran’s nuclear capability, this [deal] is the best option.” Yuval Diskin, another former Shin Bet director, this week tweeted in Hebrew that he “identifies absolutely” with Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column on why Israelis should support the accord.

    He then admits bias — an unusual but welcome touch..

    Yes, I’m picking my experts (though if space and patience allowed, I could list many more).

    and gets to the remark that triggered my writing this post:

    What Ayalon, Brom, Diskin, and colleagues who have expressed similar views have in common is that — to use Hebrew slang — they’re not “vegetarians.” They know there’s sometimes no choice but to use military force.


    There’s a ratio here that would please my fellow designer/explorer of a Glass Bead Game variant, Paul Pilkington, author of three lovely small books on the Glass Bead Game [1, 2, 3] with a fourth in the works:

    carnivore : vegetarian :: militarist : pacifist

    — or something along those lines.


    Ron Hale-Evans, another GBG variant designer and the founder of the Ludism site, in his Kennexions variant on the Bead Game would take just such a ratio, and apply to it the rules by which the Norse poets derived their “kennings” — cunning sleights-of-phrase by which they applied poetic epithets in place of common nouns.

    As cantuse‘s post Dragonsilver: The True Nature and Purpose of Lightbringer tells us:

    A kenning is a phrase that generally refers to any compound word that describes in figurative language something which could be expressed in a single-word. The principle derives from Old Norse epic traditions.

    Ron suggests that “such an analogy provides four kennings possible (or at least permissible)”. In the case of the pacifist / vegetarian analogy, for instance, a carnivore would be kenned as a “vegetarian militarist”, a vegetarian as a “carnivore pacifist”, a militarist as a “pacifist carnivore”, and a pacifist as a “militarist vegetarian”.

    The phrasing my seem awkward at first, but the kennings based on the analogy:

    sea : whale :: road : horse

    gave the Norse poets the poetic turns of phrase “whale road” for the sea, “sea horse” for the whale, “horse sea” for a road, and “road whale” for the horse, all of which make a fair amont of sense. And once you get the hang of it, you can think not just in ratios but in kennings, as the mind adapts to seing the binary oppositions (vegetarian / carnivore) as well as the paralellisms (vegetarian / pacifist) as a matter of course when encountering phrases such as “carnivore pacifist”.

    Ron, if you’d care to update or correct me on Kennings / Kennexions, please feel free to do so — Paul, likewise with my use of ratios.


    Since analogy lies at the heart of both cognition and creativity, it would be interesting to see what impact the habit of thinking in Paul’s ratios or Ron’ss kennings, if taught in schools, would have on creative thinking and, frankly, mathematics. I have the suspicion that..

    ratios : kennings :: algebra : geometry

    — but what do I know?


    And what of the Iran nuclear deal, and all those Israeli natsec experts?

    Iran: the deal does this, but what will others do?

    Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — requesting suggestions re “second order nuclear effects” from Israel & the Saudis ]

    I’ve been watching one aspect of developing current events closely — Islamic apocalyptic jihad, for short — and claim no special expertise in many other realms, but on the contrary, consider myself too inexpert even to hazard much in the way of commentary. Knowing what I know about what I know, and having seen how often the media and punditry get it wrong, I am deeply suspicious of anything I might tend to think on the basis of media readings in other areas.

    So: I am ignorant about the Iranian nuclear deal.

    I tend to read Cheryl Rofer for insight into the tecnhical nuclear issues, and Tim Furnish on Iranian Mahdism as it might or might not intersect with the desire for nukes. But that’s about the limit for me.

    So: here’s what nags away at me, in the words of a commenter at ChicagoBoyz:

    the end result might not be nuclear weapons [for Iran] .. It might be a nuclear preemptive strike by Israel and Saudi Arabia

    I’m ignorant. Does the deal, or any other diplomatic venture, address the issue of consequences other than those the deal itself provides for Iran and for her co-signers? What will the Israelis, what will the Saudis in fact do?

    With Putin already rattling implicitly nuclear sabres, do we now have a second potential nuclear front, a threat coming not “from” Iran but “at” it?

    Please set me straight, from left, from right, from military and intelligence perspectives, any which way you can.


    Second order effects are always important and often overlooked. When they’re nuclear, that could be highly problematic, not to say volcanic.

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