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Sunday surprise existential question: so, are actors real people?

Monday, August 6th, 2018

{ by Charles Cameron — and are you maybe reading this zenpundit post in real life? ]
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You’ve almost certainly seen one or more of these Chevy ads, more than twice..

Real people. Not actors.

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Indeed, they’ve been viewed so many times, in so many variants, that there’s now a Progressive ad that pulls the obvious reversal:

Real actors. Not people.

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Then there’s the existential question, referenced in The Atlantic‘s The Reality of Those ‘Real People, Not Actors’ Ads piece:

During commercial breaks at the Olympics viewing parties I’ve been at in the past week, one company’s ads have consistently sent the room into a round of existential questions. What is reality? Aren’t we all actors? Just how excited can a normal person get about J.D. Power awards?

Existential? Holy Moly. But then, according to One Of The ‘Real People’ From That Chevy Commercial Speaks Out:

As The News Wheel reported in 2015, some of the “real people” were actors by profession, a fact explained away by a GM representative who claimed this was just because they scouted for people in LA. Struggling actors who know that faking enthusiasm could yield a better paycheck could explain this.

Phew, that was a close one!

**

And every actor surely knows Shakespeare, no? Jaques, in As You Like It? All the world’s a stage? In the Globe Theatre, motto: All the world enacts a play?

But forget Shakespeare and the more things in heaven and earth than are dremed of in his existential philosophy — I think I know what the Chevy ads boil down to:

Real ads. Not truth.

Aha, mini-epiphany! Fast forward, if you ask me.

The Gadsden flag goes ouroboros for QAnon

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — the Q-snake almost bites itself, but it’s tail trails, here, look-see ]
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If I was someone who flies the Gadsden flag, I might not be happy to see its Q variant. Fror myself, however, it;’s the fact that the Q Gadsden variant is pretty damn close to an ouroboros — Don’t Bite Myself? — that catches my attention, hence this DoubleQuote:

As someone on Ari Melber‘s The Beat said two days ago: Q is a member of the Deep State within the Deep State..

Kissinger, Q and QAnon, MK-Ultra, sex slaves, HRH, &c

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a strange and winding tale, from Frank Sinatra to Donald Trump with possible Babylonian intrigue, too ]
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There has been a quick flurry of news attention devoted to QAnon — a supposed high-clearance, deep-cover source leaking confidential “the truth from behind the curtain” so to speak, supporting a Pro-Trump pro-Mueller (!!) narrative:

causing Q ripples within conspiracy circles

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Here:

Tampa rally, live coverage,” wrote “Dan,” posting a link to President Trump’s Tampa speech in a thread on 8chan, an anonymous image board also known as Infinitechan or Infinitychan, which might be best described as the unglued twin of better-known 4chan, a message board already untethered from reality.

The thread invited “requests to Q,” an anonymous user claiming to be a government agent with top security clearance, waging war against the so-called deep state in service to the 45th president. “Q” feeds disciples, or “bakers,” scraps of intelligence, or “bread crumbs,” that they scramble to bake into an understanding of the “storm” — the community’s term, drawn from Trump’s cryptic reference last year to “the calm before the storm” — for the president’s final conquest over elites, globalists and deep-state saboteurs.

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Q-materials now have enough YouTube channels starting up daily than no single human can keep up with them, and I’m certainly not trying — but one Q-related social media post caught my eye recently:

because it reminded me of a book I’d bought years ago, possibly as early as 1999, when I was researching conspiracism around the 1999/2000 millennium bug scare:

featuring, if you can’t manage to read the small print or recognize the tiny photos, Bob Hope, whom she alleged was her owner, JFK, LBJ, Henry Kissinger, Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr, Reagan, who took her to visit Queen Elizabeth Ii to discuss a breeding program, it goes on and on.. Satanic ritual abuse, prostitution, porn, all under the auspices of MK_Ultra.. including cannibalism, human and animal sacrifice..

Hillary Clinton‘s alleged pedophile ring out of a Pizzaria basement had nothing on this Kennedy-Kissinger-Ford lot, and now Q seems to be corropobrating a variant on the same plot line…

For the Sarah Ruth Ashcrsft – Q connection see this tweet:

A recent QAnon video drop:

And the Royals? My book companion to the Bryce Taylor book was this one, about Prince Charles:

I may be a Brit, but fair’s fair, we have our conspiracists, too.

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Readings:

  • WaPo, ‘We are Q’: A deranged conspiracy cult leaps from the Internet to the crowd at Trump’s ‘MAGA’ tour
  • WaPo, QAnon: Meet a real-life believer in the online, pro-Trump conspiracy theory that’s bursting into view
  • WaPo, The mystery of ‘Q’: How an anonymous conspiracy-monger launched a movement (if the person exists)
  • WaPo, How QAnon, the conspiracy theory spawned by a Trump quip, got so big and scary
  • **

    I hope none of this will be confused with Bond’s Q and Q-bond — although Bond’s Q may be the inspiration for QAnon’s name, and Q-bond may make the whole Trump-Mueller duel/duet a whole lot tighter than it previously had been.

    Oh, and Q for Quelle (source) is a supposed ur-gospel containing the sayings of Jesus, from which the evangelists may have borrowed..

    Metaphors, more iv, featuring Oliver Roeder & Chris Cillizza

    Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — others besides david ronfeldt who find game & sports metaphors valuable — or should that be invaluable? ]
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    I’m making this post a “special” because Ron Hale-Evans pointed me to a trove of articles variously about or touching on game metaphors for politics, geo or otherwise.

    **

    This was the start:

    What game is President Trump playing? By that I mean what actual game is he playing?

    Trump’s political performance, in seriousness and in jest, has often been likened to chess. Even to three-, four-, eight-, 10- and 12-dimensional chess. His proponents argue he’s a grandmaster,1 and his detractors argue he’s a patzer. CNN’s Chris Cillizza has written two different articles accusing Trump of playing “zero-dimensional chess,” whatever that means. Even Garry Kasparov, probably the greatest actual chess player of all time, has weighed in, inveighing against the use of this gaming cliche via Politico.

    In my job here at FiveThirtyEight, I spend a lot of time thinking about games — board games, video games, chess tournaments, math puzzles, the game theory of international affairs. So I understand that “playing chess” is easy shorthand for “doing strategy” or “being smart” or whatever. But I think we can do better. I humbly propose to you that Trump is not playing chess (of any dimension), but rather something called “ultimate tic-tac-toe.” It’s time to update your tropes.

    It’s a good day when I find an entire article dedicated to game or sports metaphors for politics, but this one had some great links..

    Instances:

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    The second thing this Corker episode makes clear is that, strategically speaking, Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess. As in, the only strategy is that there is no strategy.

    In the wake of Trump’s absolutely stunning 2016 victory, the conventional wisdom — in political circles — was that Trump was a strategic genius, always seeing five moves ahead. He was playing three-dimensional chess while the media was still trying to figure out which way pawns could move. The reason no one thought Trump could win was because “we” didn’t see the whole board the way he did. No one else saw it that way. Trump was a genius. An unconventional genius but a genius nonetheless.

    There, incidentally, is the definition of zero-dimensional chess:

    Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess. As in, the only strategy is that there is no strategy.

    And:

    **

    The key part is when he concludes Flake will be a “no” on the tax reform package in the Senate because, well, his political career is “toast” — or something.

    I submit this as yet another piece of evidence that Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess.

    What do I mean? Simply this: When Trump won the White House — against all odds — the working assumption was that he had executed a plan so brilliant and so complex that only he (and the few advisers he let in on the plan) could see it. He was playing three-dimensional chess while the media, the Clinton campaign and virtually everyone else was still playing checkers.

    But as his first year in the White House has progressed, there’s mounting evidence that Trump may not be playing three-dimensional chess. In fact, he might just be playing zero-dimensional chess. As in, the only strategy Trump is pursuing is no strategy at all.

    From a game-policy metaphor angle, this doesn’t take us much further, although you can read the whole post for details of the Trump-Flake business..

    And..

    **

    Chess? That’s not what Garry Kasparov sees Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin playing—three-dimensional or any other kind. But if they did sit down for a game, the former grandmaster believes the Russian president would obviously win.

    “Both of them despise playing by the rules, so it’s who will cheat first,” Kasparov told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “But in any game of wits, I would bet on Putin, unfortunately.”

    Kasparov gets into some interesting details, not entirely uncritical of Obama, and even GW Bush, but flicking Trump off the board with a flick of his cultivated fingernail..

    I think I’vetheis referenced the Kasparov article once before, but hey, this is a rich harvest..

    Next:

    **

    Shall we play a game?

    Imagine that a crisp $100 bill lies on a table between us. We both want it, of course, but there’s no chance of splitting it — our wallets are empty. So we vie for it according to a few simple rules. We’ll each write down a secret number — between 0 and 100 — and stick that number in an envelope. When we’re both done, we’ll open the envelopes. Whichever of us wrote down the higher number pockets the $100. But here’s the catch: There’s a percentage chance that we’ll each have to burn $10,000 of our own money, and that chance is equal to the lower of the two numbers.

    So, for example, if you wrote down 10 and I wrote down 20, I’d win the $100 … but then we’d both run a 10 percent risk of losing $10,000. This is a competition in which, no matter what, we both end up paying a price — the risk of disaster.

    What number would you write down?

    In the 538 post, the game’s available for interactive play.. And later in the same piece, too..

    Now imagine that you’re playing the same game, but for much more than $100. You’re a head of state facing off against another, and the risk you run is a small chance of nuclear war

    That was instructive, I think, though my mind is artificially dimmed at present..

    And finally:

    **

    This one revolved around a tweet in which Trump had said

    :When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!

    How easy? was this post’s response:

    But how easy? And how exactly do you win them? (Also, what’s a trade war?)

    Let’s find out. You (Yes, you!) have just been elected president of your very own country. Congratulations! Now it’s time to get to work. There is another country out there that has goods you can buy, and you have goods it may want to buy. Your job is to choose your foreign economic policy — which you’ll do in the little game we’ve prepared for you below.

    The rules go like this: You can cooperate with the other country, allowing the free flow of its goods into your country. Or you can defect, imposing tariffs on the foreign goods. And because you will trade with the same country over and over again, you have to decide whether to stick with a single strategy no matter what or whether to change course in response to your opponent. The other country faces the same choice, but you can’t know in advance what plan they’ve chosen. Free trade helps both countries, generating big windfalls for both sides. But it’s possible for a single country to improve its own situation at the other’s expense — you both have a selfish incentive to defect, taxing the imports from the other country and helping only yourself. However, if you both defect, you both wind up isolated, cutting yourselves off from the market and reducing earnings on both sides.

    Again, the game is available for interactive play.

    We’ve simplified trade dramatically: You’re engaging in 100 rounds of trade with a randomly chosen FiveThirtyEight reader. In each round, you and your trade partner can either cooperate (allow free trade) or defect (impose a tariff). Your goal is to pick a strategy that earns you as much as possible.

    The game mechanics here were interesting (and “gave the game away” where the game is game theory a la Prisoners Dilemma):

    Well..

    Was there a trade war? Was it good? Did you win it?

    Tariffs are the weapons of a trade war

    The game you just played took a little game theory — the formal, mathematical study of strategy — and retrofitted it to the world of international relations. (Of course, our simulation is extremely simplified, and it runs in a very controlled little world that ignores alliances, trade deals, political histories, other countries, and hundreds of other factors.)

    **

    Memory slippage — lest we forget, there was one last game ref today:

    It’s the NYorker‘s film criticism of the latest impossible Mission, and the game sentence in the piece itself reads:

    Despite the deft coherence of the plot’s mirror games of alliance and betrayal, which provide the illusion of a developed drama, the movie almost totally deprives its characters of inner life or complex motives.

    Mirroring’s one of the patterns I love to collect, and game thinking here might note the Kierkegaardian note:

    In his 1846 essay “The Present Age,” Søren Kierkegaard decried the widespread tendency of the time -— which he summed up as an age “without passion” —- to “transform daring and enthusiasm into a feat of skill.”

    The continuum from “daring and enthusiasm to “feat of skill” is an interesting one for game designers to place their games on — before and after design, and when player feedback is in.

    A rich day indeed.

    **

    Sources:

  • FiveThirtyEight, Trump Isn’t Playing 3D Chess
  • CNN Politics, Donald Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess
  • CNN POlitics, Donald Trump is playing zero-dimensional chess (again)
  • Politico, Garry Kasparov Would Like You to Stop Saying ‘Trump Is Playing 4-D Chess’
  • FiveThirtyEight, How To Win A Nuclear Standoff
  • FiveThirtyEight, How To Win A Trade War
  • Trump on Twitter, trade wars are good, and easy to win
  • New Yorker, Mission: Impossible -— Fallout
  • **

    Some other posts in this series

    And I emphasize Some, previous posts in the game & sports metaphor series, as somewhat randomly collected, and Likelky not in sequential order:

  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=57435
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59988
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59082
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=58644
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=57908
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59678
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=57493
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=59496
  • ZP post, http://zenpundit.com/?p=60193
  • With any luck, some of these will have links to yet others in the series..

    **

    And dammit, pwned by another one before my head hit the pillow..

    Pawn, yes. Pwn?

    For the lore, lure, and love of language

    Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — this is / was all written on 29th (“today”), but has been tidied up before posting late today, really a rich day! ]
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    Today has been a rich day for me for language, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve found. I’ll use a series of my own tweets for this purpose, since the tweets include both the particular phrases or sentences that caught my eye, and links and images I’d otherwise have to fish for, giving you an idea of the articles themselves in which I found the items of interest..

    This one’s pretty fabulous, with plants living inside animals — I suppose we are fauna with flora inside us too, though, but the coral instance really hit home:

    That was the first one that really delighted me, this one cinched (clenched?) the deal:

    The bird snaking (its neck), which caught my eye as a companion to the coral (animal) planting (inside its cells), I noted in the tweet, making these two taken together a DoubleTweet. What I didn’t mention was the positively Homeric echo in “reshuffles her storm-cloud-gray wings”..

    **

    which leads me inevitably to my other Homeric finds today, with both the Odyssey:

    and Zeus..

    And that’s enough for now!


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