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And another next, 26, mixed

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — running the gamut from Mike Pompeo a flailing, failing theologian, to ISIS, not that their theology is so great, ahem, but still around, with cat-herding visible unto the days of the grandkids ]
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Credo quia absurdum? Or, getting the original quote right, credibile est, quia ineptum est? That’s no inept as to be believable?

There’s actually a passage in Cicero’s Rhetoric for Herrennius that describes how to make objects of contemplation more memorable by choosing the most beautiful or ugly images as analogs / analogies to represent them:

We ought, then, to set up images of a kind that can adhere longest in memory. And we shall do so if we establish similitudes as striking as possible; if we set up images that are not many or vague but active; if we assign to them exceptional beauty or singular ugliness; if we ornament some of them, as with crowns or purple cloaks, so that the similitude may be more distinct to us; or if we somehow disfigure them, as by introducing one stained with blood or soiled with mud and smeared with red paint, so that its form is more striking, or by assigning certain comic effects to our images, for that, too, will ensure our remembering them more readily.

It may be that Tertullian — the Church Father who authored that phrase about believing something because it’s so incredible — was not so far in his thinking from Cicero — was accustomed to at least the concept of using the strangest, most strained analogies, and applied it to his contemplation of the unspeakable, unimaginable Godhead, since such disfigured analogies are both the most memorable and the least likely to be taken literally, and thus mistaken for the Reality to which they are intended to point.. but that’s pure speculation on my part.

But I’m sorry, No. Mike Pompeo may have been first in his class at Annapolis, and I may have been far from first in my class at Oxford, but at least my studies were in Theology — and No.

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Here’s one for the liminal collection:

An island, you know, is something else. In a continent, the watersheds are important natural divisions, as are linguistic groupings and cultures. There’s arguably a cultural component of Brit-oriented Northern Irish, and they’re not enemy — but the naturalness of a united island Ireland seems pretty clear.

Islands:

History has time and again highlighted the importance of islands in establishing naval dominance.

That’s from Darshana Baruah, SISTER ISLANDS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION: LINKING THE ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS TO LA RÉUNION

Through a ring of bases and naval presence on islands, the British essentially controlled the entry points into this crucial area. In the east it had Singapore and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while Socotra and the port city of Aden provided access to the Red Sea and Bab-el Mandeb. With control of Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, the Seychelles and, briefly, Madagascar, the empire turned the Indian Ocean into a “British Lake.” To consolidate its presence along the coast of Africa, the British Empire fought bloody wars to take control of Kenya, Uganda, and the island of Zanzibar. With these islands and coastal territories, the empire projected its power across the region and dominated the key chokepoints and shipping lines between Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Bloody, note the bloody. And dominance, note the British dominance. I’m not sure that bloody dominance is quite so well-supported any more, but a little less Biriths dominance and Ireland might be a little less bloody.

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Dan Nexon recommends a paper featuring an arc — yes, we’re collecting arcs — but not the MLK moral arc that may be long, but in the end “bends toward justice”..

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JM Berger has been interviewed by Terry Gross — to be aired on Monday:

Stay tuned!

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All In, Chris Hayes:

Unh.

They’re [WH] basically blowing off a co-equal branch of government which gives a strong indication of how they plan to back-rush their way through anything damning from the Mueller report, when it comes.

In fact, there is such a swarm of criminality, prosecutions and pleas around the President and his ever-moving dynamic vortex..

A trial run, a warm-up inning..

Y’know, Mueller report ridiculous, but I want to see it is vaguely reminiscent of credo quia absurdum, or th more accurate quote in my own translation, see above:

That’s no inept as to be believable

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I can’t find the Jon Meacham quote on ceremonial trolling, so here’s one from India:

Rohit is to this series what trial ball is to gully cricket

Twitter went ahead with its ceremonial trolling of Rohit soon after he was dismissed. It’s become a routine of late for the right-hander to perish cheaply and be the butt of jokes on social media.

At least it’s a fun replacement, though for seriosity I’d have preferred the Meacham.

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and btw:

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D’oh.

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Clint Watts @selectedwisdom:

I really would like everyone to read that story ..

The whole idea is, everybody around the world knows that you can hire companies to crack into any one of these endpoints —

— and go through any of these communications ..

If you want to feel your communications are safe, don’t worry about government surveillance, worry about corporate guys-for-hire that are hired by all these companies ..

Here’s the article:

A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments

BTW another Clint quote from my day’s scan:

If we were to go after Wikileaks, it could lead to massive information dumps of US secrets around the world ..

In have the feeling I quoted an abbreviated version a while back, without that crucial “of US secrets” — good to have thee full version, in any case.

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Sigh:

Charles Lister, Trump Says ISIS Is Defeated. Reality Says Otherwise.

The ISIS of the future could be just as bad if not bigger and worse than the one we watched dramatically expand in 2014. In Iraq, nearly 20,000 ISIS detainees currently lie in prison and tens of thousands more who are accused of having maintained ties to ISIS lie in squalid camps surrounded by hostile security forces. A further 20,000 Iraqi ISIS prisoners and family members currently in Syria look set to be transferred back to Iraq in the coming weeks, all of whom will surely meet a similar fate: prison or secured camps. If that were not bad enough news, tens of thousands of Iraqi children born under ISIS rule look set to remain stateless due to Baghdad’s continued refusal to recognize their ISIS-produced birth certificates or to produce Iraqi replacements. All told, that may amount to at least 100,000 people in Iraq with ties to ISIS whose bleak futures will undoubtedly fuel long-term radicalization.

Enough.

Chyrons, metaphors, headlines, graphics 22

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — inter alia, a micro-essay on the Passions of Christ and Hussain, and AOC feeling “physically ripped apart” by the effects of her recent fame ]
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How can I resist a title like Passsion Plays?

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Okay, that sent me on my way..

I was at Oberammergau, age seven, in 1950:

And besides, in 1971 I witnessed a troupe of flagellant youths, very disciplined, inside the circular road that surrounds the shrine of the Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran. They may well have been celebrating Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein and his offspring at Karbala — a celebration often accompanied, though I did not see one myself, by one or more Ta’zieh or Passion Plays.

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Memorializing the massacre of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet and a highly venerated figure in Shi’ite tradition along with his three hundred or so companions, is indeed a grievous matter, comparable — for comparative religious, cultural anthropological and depth psychological purposes, my purposes — to the Passion of Christ as memorialized in the Catholic Stations of the Cross — it is said that one tear shed for Hussein washes away a hundred sins.

The devotional mind-and-heart — may we call it soul, to give that word a less diffuse meaning? — the devotional soul finds in grief plumbed to its depths an antechamber to the heights of joy. This we find in Oberammergau‘s celebration of Christ‘s final week in Jerusalem, his Last Supper, his agony in the garden, his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension… and likewise in the spirituality of the passion of Hussain. Let me quote from an earlier post of mine, Ashura: the Passion of Husayn:

Annemarie Schimmel, the great Harvard scholar of Islamic mysticism, has a fine essay on the poetry of Ashura, encompassing both Sunni and (strongly Shia-influenced) Sufi traditions, Karbala and the Imam Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim literature. The mindset is very different from contemporary secular westernism, seeing death itself — and the grief that accompanies it — as a prelude to resurrection, and thus part of the timeless love-play of God with those who love him:

In having his beloved suffer, the divine Beloved seems to show his coquetry, trying and examining their faith and love, and thus even the most cruel manifestations of the battle in which the ‘youthful heroes’, as Shah Latif calls them, are enmeshed, are signs of divine love.

The earth trembles, shakes; the skies are in uproar;
This is not a war, this is the manifestation of Love.

The poet knows that affliction is a special gift for the friends of God, Those who are afflicted most are the prophets, then the saints, then the others in degrees’, and so he continues:

The Friend kills the darlings, the lovers are slain,
For the elect friends He prepares difficulties.
God, the Eternal, without need what He wants, He

That is not by any means the spirit of Larissa MacFarquhar‘s New Yorker piece, Passion Plays: The making of Edward Albee — but it’s the spirit of passion plays as best I can understand it, drawing on my first and fourth decades of life, and on both Catholic Christianity and Shi’ite Islam.

If we are to understand grief — both passionate and compassionate — we might care to ponder such matters.

How’s that for a mini-essay, as promised?

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Nicolle Wallace 3/12/2019:

Guy needs a new stump speech. Democrats effectively check-mating Republicans in Congress by saying, We will only move toward impeachment if there’s evidence of criminal conduct, and practically daring the GOP to say they’s let crimes committed by the President slide…

Glenn Kirschner:

We’re spending so much time trying to decide whether what we have seen publicly reported that may be 5% of what Bob Mueller has, is enough to impeach, is enough to charge somebody with obstruction, with a cover-up, I mean, that’s like sitting here and talking about whether after the first inning of the baseball game, we can predict with 100% confidence which team will win [..]

So for us to debate whether we have enough to begin impeachment proceedings, whether we might have enough to bring a criminal charge against the President or his family members is really folly, it’s folly that we enjoy, and it’s important … but you know, this is still the first inning, with respect to this game, and it may go into extra innings before we know who wins and who loses ..

Peter Baker:

I think he’s done a remarkable job of holding his cards tight to the vest, his office doesn’t leak, much to our frustration, we do not know things until he’s ready for us to know them, and it’s very possible that just when he finally shows those cards, he has a lot of things there that we don’t know anything about.

Rachel Maddow:

And on top of all of that, the, heh, out of control, spinning carousel of scandal around this President is about to enter one of its most kinetic and dramatic periods yet ..


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And on top of all of that, authorities in New York State, interestingly, in both the legislature and in law enforcement, in the Attorney General’s office, they have started, today, to turn their own state-level law enforcement resources on this President and his business, and they’re starting to do it like they’ve got him in a tractor beam.

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Language, language:

Alec MacGillis, The Tragedy of Baltimore
Since Freddie Gray’s death in 2015, violent crime has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century. How order collapsed in an American city.

In Baltimore, you can tell a lot about the politics of the person you’re talking with by the word he or she uses to describe the events of April 27, 2015. Some people, and most media outlets, call them the “riots”; some the “unrest.” Guy was among those who always referred to them as the “uprising,” a word that connoted something justifiable and positive: the first step, however tumultuous, toward a freer and fairer city.

This is why choice of metaphors matters.

So:


“I FELT LIKE I WAS BEING PHYSICALLY RIPPED APART”

Ocasio-Cortez admits that the sudden fame has been disorienting. “At first, it was really, really, really hard. I felt like I was being physically ripped apart in those first two to three months,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

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And that’s a wrap.

Surveillance

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — gift horse, Trojan horse, back door — take your pick ]
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DoubleQuote!

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Liz Sly, reporting from Beirut:

U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging

An interactive map posted on the Internet that shows the whereabouts of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit also reveals highly sensitive information about the locations and activities of soldiers at U.S. military bases, in what appears to be a major security oversight.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the locations and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile app. [..]

In war zones and deserts in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around. [..]

The Pentagon has encouraged the use of Fitbits among military personnel and in 2013 distributed 2,500 of them as part of a pilot program to battle obesity.

Unanticipated consequences..

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Amira El Masait, from Rabat:

After Building New AU Headquarters, China Spies on Addis Ababa Facility By Amira El Masaiti

In 2012, the Chinese government “graciously offered” African States a gift and constructed the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa. The act of soft diplomacy proved to be a rather self-serving maneuver to spy on the activities and discussions being conducted by leaders of the exclusive continental group.

In Addis Ababa, ministers and heads of states meet twice a year to discuss major continental issues. While strict security measures give the impression that that building is closely monitored and secured, an unseen security threat was present from 2012 until 2017. The threat was from none other than those who built the headquarters: the Chinese. An investigation conducted by “Le Monde Afrique” exposed Chinese espionage efforts.

According to the report, for five years, between midnight and 2 a.m., computer servers were reaching a peak in data transfer activity. A computer scientist noticed the oddity of the situation. The organization’s technical staff later discovered that the AU servers were all connected to servers located in Shanghai.

Every night, the secrets of the AU were being stored more than 8,000 km away by what was thought to be a diplomatic ally of Africa.

The glass tower $200 million complex was gifted to the African Union in 2012. The computer systems were fully equipped by the Chinese, allowing them to open an undocumented portal that gives Chinese administrators access to the AU’s computing system. This “backdoor” is an intentional fault put into code to allow hackers and intelligence agencies to gain illicit access to information.

Shoulda looked that gift horse in the mouth..

“Following this discovery, we have taken some steps to strengthen our cybersecurity,” a AU official told Le Monde.

But at least, “The Chinese have nothing to listen to. They have never colonized us. They have supported the struggles of independence on the continent and help us economically today,” an AU official told Le Monde anonymously.

Another official believes that, “They are not alone.” In fact, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the British intelligence agencies (GCHQ) have had their share of surveillance on the AU building, according to documents which were extracted by Le Monde, in collaboration with The Intercept.

Aaah!

On the Intelligence of the Artificial, thus far

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — YouTube removing videos that document war crimes in the Middle East, Elgar ]
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YouTube removes video documenting Islamic State’s destruction of Nimrud artifacts (AFP)

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Here we are on the merry-go-round:

YouTube AI deletes war crimes evidence as ‘extremist material’

YouTube is facing criticism after a new artificial intelligence program monitoring “extremist” content began flagging and removing masses of videos and blocking channels that document war crimes in the Middle East.

Middle East Eye, the monitoring organisation Airwars and the open-source investigations site Bellingcat are among a number of sites that have had videos removed for breaching YouTube’s Community Guidelines.

The removals began days after Google, which owns YouTube, trumpeted the arrival of an artificial intelligence program that it said could spot and flag “extremist” videos without human involvement.

But since then vast tracts of footage, including evidence used in the Chelsea Manning court case and videos documenting the destruction of ancient artifacts by Islamic State, have been flagged as “extremist” and deleted from its archives.

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Without human involvement?

Humans were involved in the decision to let this AI proceed in real time “without human involvement”.

H Sap or AI? — who’s to trust?

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YouTube, Nimrod Barenboim conducts Elgar:


Compare “YouTube removes video documenting Islamic State’s destruction of Nimrud artifacts”, illustrated above

Truman Trump, and that reminds me, Maude Rumsfeld

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — humming along as the world sings ]
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It’s not as though I’m the one who noticed the Trump Truman correspondence — it’s laid out, with some other worthwhile quotes, in the New Yorker piece, Donald Trump’s Nuclear War Threat:

And it does have something of an apocalyptic ring to it, as does Truman’s remark, which he slipped in like a knife between Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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All of which reminds me of two invasions of Iraq, a century apart:

Nothing apocalyptic there — unless you think of Baghdad in the same breath as Babylon — which Saddam likely did.


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