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A SITREP in four DoubleQuotes, holding the fifth for now

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — our substitute fifth today being a fine quote from a review of two books about analyzing humor, coming to us from down under ]
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The purpose of this post it to present four facets of the present moment so as to leave a fifth perspective uncluttered for a later post..:

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DQ #1: Complexity squared:

Presenting two papers which sum up the huge diversity of definitions which complexity and terrorism respectively are prone to:

It’s hard to say, exactly what terrorism is, but it’s no easier to define complexity- and when you think of the pair of them intersecting, the result is along the lines of complexity squared..

Sources:

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  • Seth Lloyd, Measures of Complexity: a non–exhaustive list
  • Alex Schmid, The Revised Academic Consensus Definition of Terrorism
  • Further, here’s a striking quote here from Alex Schmid:

    A description how [the Academic Consensus Definition] was arrived at can be found on pp. 39 – 98 of Alex P. Schmid (Ed.). The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research. London and New York: Routledge, 2011. The same volume also contains 260 other definitions compiled by Joseph J. Easson and Alex P. Schmid on pp. 99 – 200.

    and a complexity analogy with electromagnetism from Seth Lloyd:

    An historical analog to the problem of measuring complexity is the problem of describing electromagnetism before Maxwell’s equations. In the case of electromagnetism, quantities such as electric and magnetic forces that arose in different experimental contexts were originally regarded as fundamentally different. Eventually it became clear that electricity and magnetism were in fact closely related aspects of the same fundamental quantity, the electromagnetic field. Similarly, contemporary researchers in architecture, biology, computer science, dynamical systems, engineering, finance, game theory, etc., have defined different measures of complexity for each field. Because these researchers were asking the same questions about the complexity of their different subjects of research, however, the answers that they came up with for how to measure complexity bear a considerable similarity to each other.

    Complexity, illustrated:

    Nothing in that image of waves lapping and overlapping on a shoreline could not in theory be explained in terms of von Kármán‘s equation for the “shedding” of vortices in a vortex street — but the breaking of waves across the coast of California –mathematicians can name the laws involved, but accurately describe the details over the last four decades from an Diego to Eureka? Waves bouncing off a fractal coastline?

    Ahem, it’s complex. Though I suppose Ali Minai might inform me it’s not so much complex as complicated.

    Consider, then, the complexity, complicated nature, or wickedness of the problem of definition in our two cases..

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    DQ #2: Yet another Uncertainty Principle:

    I’d been thinking about the timeline of black swan takeoffs, thinking we might know roughly what the next five years could bring, but far out, farther out.. who knows? With this President, however, I’m forced to say Peter Baker is closer to the mark here than I’ve been thus far.

    Time to adjust to the flappings of black wings…

    Sources & quotes..

    Both are quotes I overheard on MSNBC a couple of days ago, but didn’t have anything to hand with which to note program or time.

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    Dq #3: Cap’n’caps:

    To cap it off, you have to admit the feeling is clear..

    Here we see two kinds of explosive — the cap represents an explosive attitude, the caps the explosive power of 9mm rounds.

    Let me put it this way: the sense of the two ads is twofold — security and threat, and the threat may make some of us insecure.

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    And to end on a lighter note, laughing at the way one bureaucracy can disagree with another..
    DQ #4: Nature rejects, Nobel awards:

    It is with intense satisfaction that observers note the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine this year was awarded to Sir Peter Ratcliffe, for work that Nature, arguably the world’s top science journal, had earlier rejected.

    Note also that HM the Queen was ahead of the Nobrl committee, having given Peter Ratcliffe a knighthood in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.

    But then Nobel Prizes are belated recognitions of what has long been obvious..

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    Okay, I’m holding the fifth DQ for its own post — but here to compensate is another entry in our budding encyclopedia of ouroboroi, this one from Ben Juers at the Sydney Review of Books, Stepping on Rakes:Terry Eagleton’s Humourand Peter Timms’ Silliness:

    ‘If you want to raise a laugh it is unwise to joke and dissect your joke at the same time’, Eagleton writes in the introduction, ‘but there are not many comedians who come up with a theoretical inquiry into their wisecracks at the very moment they are delivering them.’ No sooner had I scrawled ‘um, Stewart Lee?!’ unreadably in the margins than Eagleton butted in: ‘There are, to be sure, exceptions, such as the brilliantly original comedian Stewart Lee, who deconstructs his own comedy as he goes along and analyses the audience’s response to it.’

    Talk about self-referential! Let me count the ways..

    Clearly I need to watch me some Stewart Lee.

    A Dystopian Trilogy Worth Your Time

    Sunday, July 15th, 2018

    [by J. Scott Shipman]

    Wool, by Hugh Howey

    Shift, by Hugh Howey

    Dust, by Hugh Howey

    Friends, In 2013 I read Hugh Howey’s Wool after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal. Howey’s is a cinderella story; he wrote his novel in installments at his blog, and his story, Wool was picked up by a publisher. The response was so overwhelming, Howey wrote Shift, which is a very good prequel and Dust picks up the story to the conclusion.

    I gave away my paper copy of Wool  a couple years ago, but was pleased to see a graphic novel of the same title by Jimmy Palmiotti (Author), Justin Gray (Author), Hugh Howey (Author), Jimmy Broxton (Illustrator), Darwyn Cooke (Illustrator). The graphic novel filled in the gaps of my memory and helped visualize Howey’s imaginative and frightening new world below ground.

    This trilogy is summer reading at its best. Story has duplicitous politicians, brave idealists and truly clever on-the-fly tactics—and a bit of not-too-syrupy true love. Howey is a gifted storyteller and weaves a credible yarn of a future where humanity is consigned to silos buried within the earth and surrounded by a poisonous atmosphere.

    Strong recommendation!

     

     

    Black Swan (bookstore) vs Red Hen (restaurant)

    Monday, July 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a parallelism post, more than one about free speech and civility ]
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    Lexington, VA, and Richmond, VA, the logos:

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    A neatly observed opposition, more or less a natural DoubleQUote, between the Black Swan incident where a fellow customer assaulted Steve Bannon verbally in a bookstore and the restaurant incident where the owner of the Red Hen restaurant ejected Sarah Huckabee Sanders, saying her views did not conform to the ethic — or should that be ethos — of the restaurant:

    Now from a purely amateur natural history perspective, in a match between a black swan and a red hen, muy money is on the swan every time, as I trust Nassim Nicholas Taleb would agree. And Nabokov too, for that matter.

    From a popular consumer interest perspective, if the match is bookstore vs restaurant, restaurant wins hands down — but I’d go with bookstore, especially if it’s a used bookstore..

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    As to civility vs freedom of expression, thank God I’m not a cop or a judge — I require both. And that’s certainly a paradox, and probably a koan our society will have to face one of these days.

    Steve Bannon as a person I find intriguing to the point of sympathy, because he’s read many of the oddball authors I have, though my resulting observations come out of left field, and his out of right..

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    But none of that is what ultimately draws me to this post, it’s the delicious double parallelism of red vs black, swan vs hen.

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    I’ve been wondering, putting together this post, whether the bookstore is named for NN Taleb’s celebrated book, or for the wildly popular ballet film of thet name:

    Btw, Vogelgesang is birdsong: hen cluck, swan song.

    Sweden — maybe a little too transparent for comfort?

    Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — the wholesalest leak of secrets evvah ]
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    Whether you think with the poet Rabbie Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley” or with the strategist Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy”, you may not have been too surprised when the Jeff Goldblum character in Jurassic Park preaches Chaos theory and says, “One thing the history of evolutuon has taught us is that life will not be contained .. it crashes through barriers .. life finds a way.”

    Goldblum is right of course, which is why not so long after, there’s a velociraptor loose in the kitchen:

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    All of which is to say: there’s no planning for human hubris and idiocy.

    Case in mind-blowing point:

    Worst known governmental leak ever is slowly coming to light: Agency moved nation’s secret data to “The Cloud”

    This would be laughable, except..

    Sweden’s Transport Agency moved all of its data to “the cloud”, apparently unaware that there is no cloud, only somebody else’s computer. In doing so, it exposed and leaked every conceivable top secret database: fighter pilots, SEAL team operators, police suspects, people under witness relocation. Names, photos, and home addresses: the list is just getting started. The responsible director has been found guilty in criminal court of the whole affair, and sentenced to the harshest sentence ever seen in Swedish government: she was docked half a month’s paycheck.

    Just a sample:

    Last March, the entire register of vehicles was sent to marketers subscribing to it. This is normal in itself, as the vehicle register is public information, and therefore subject to Freedom-of-Information excerpts. What was not normal were two things: first, that people in the witness protection program and similar programs were included in the register distributed outside the Agency, and second, when this fatal mistake was discovered, a new version without the sensitive identities was not distributed with instructions to destroy the old copy. Instead, the sensitive identities were pointed out and named in a second distribution with a request for all subscribers to remove these records themselves. This took place in open cleartext e-mail.

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    Oh, and I think this qualifies as a Black Swan.

    Dept of Unintended Consequences

    Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — whether a fabricated meme or true to life, this surely counts as a fine & fun example of the unanticipated ]
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    Quelle surprise!


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