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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.

Can you believe it? We’re at Chyrons & metaphors 19

Friday, March 8th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameronnuke is about as fierce a military metaphor as you can use, though bringing on Armageddon may surpass it, while being grilled can’t be nice, eh, Kirstjen Nielsen? — but for unabashed cliché wizardry in the dark arts is hard to beat. And much more ]
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All in With Chris Hayes 3/6/2019:

Harry Littman:

It’s very kind of clock and dagger and ham handed, but just ham handed enough to be potentially a Rudi Giuliani signature move..

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Rachel Maddow:

possession of brains ..

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The Atlantic:

Will John Bolton Bring on Armageddon—Or Stave It Off?

Bolton is a sovereigntist,” John Yoo told me. “He thinks the U.S. should not be bound by international organizations, and we should not be ceding our authority to the United Nations or NAFTA.” After the Cold War, “the U.S. tied itself down with multilateral institutions, primarily run by Europeans, to constrain our freedom of action—to tie down Gulliver.” Every time the United States joins an alliance, or consents to arbitration on equal terms with, say, Latvia or Guinea, one more rope is lashed over Gulliver’s limbs.

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New Yorker:

Morning Joe 3/7/2019

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grilled

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The Atlantic:

California Is at War With the Trump White House
Governor Gavin Newsom called President Trump’s border wall and immigrant bashing “a national disgrace.”

From the moment Donald Trump took office, California has been ground zero for the resistance against him and his administration, in terms of both grassroots citizen activism and legal and administrative action by its Democratic-dominated state government. But since the inauguration of Governor Gavin Newsom in January, the Golden State has often seemed to be in a state of total war with the White House.

At the same time, California’s once-mighty Republican Party—which gave the nation Earl Warren, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan—is at war with itself, and weaker than it’s been in decades. The GOP’s new state-Senate leader was once quoted as suggesting that California’s epic drought was divine punishment for abortion, and last weekend the party elected its first female and first Latina state chair, only after a bitter internecine fight that left its conservative wing enraged.

ground zero, the resistance, a state of total war, at war with itself, divine punishment for abortion, a bitter internecine fight..

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The Atlantic:

A hideous DoubleQuote from Eliot Cohen, Socially Acceptable Anti-Semitism
It is the religion of people too lazy to accept the complexity of reality.

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The Atlantic:

nuke, wizardry in the dark arts

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How to Cheat at Xi Jinping Thought
A newly mandatory app is eating up Chinese workers’ time—so they’re finding ways around it.

The origin of the app has some obvious parallels to Cultural Revolution-era drives to study Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book. For example, the first two characters of the app’s logo are written in Mao’s calligraphic style. Mao once encouraged youths to study hard and make progress every day, while Xi has highlighted several times the importance of study in a digital era of media.

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And this one’s for the liminal, borders and walls collection:

When the Frontier Becomes the Wall
What the border fight means for one of the nation’s most potent, and most violent, myths.

n Election Day, 2018, residents of Nogales, Arizona, began to notice a single row of coiled razor wire growing across the top of the city’s border wall. The barrier has been a stark feature of the town’s urban landscape for more than twenty years, rolling up and over hilltops as it cleaves the American town from its larger, Mexican counterpart. But, in the weeks and months that followed, additional coils were gradually installed along the length of the fence by active-duty troops sent to the border by President Trump, giving residents the sense that they were living inside an occupied city. By February, concertina wire covered the wall from top to bottom, and the Nogales City Council passed a unanimous resolution calling for its removal. Such wire has only one purpose, the resolution declared—to harm or to kill. It is something “only found in a war, prison, or battle setting.”

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Some final notes:

Ali Velshi 3/7/2019:

Jennifer Rubin:

We’re going to see sort of what he does when he’s finally looking at years and years in prison, is he then kind of sober up, and decide well maybe I should be cooperating with these people after all, or does he just at this point go down for the count, and take whatever secrets he has with him..

Hardball:

Malcolm Nance:

I would make it clear there are more chips in the bag of the Special Prosecutor

All In:

Eric Swalwell:

As a former prosecutor, I think you’re seeing a white collar, white-washing sentence here [ .. ]

We learned a lot about the Trump code, that people like Paul Manafort and others know the code, that Donald Trump speaks to them in the code that they’re supposed to talk to him. And when the lawyers saying words that mimic or parrot what Donald Trump is saying, it’s as if the fix is in, and Paul Manafort knows if he just keeps quiet, a pardon is coming his way [ .. ]

I saw someone [DJT] who games the system ..

Rachel Maddow:

That was supposed to be the start of a whole new Paul Manafort, right? Coming clean, pleading guilty, admitting guilt on the charges on which they didn’t retry him, right? At that moment, when he decided to plead and become a cooperator, that was him joining Team USA .. joining Team USA, joining the prosecutors, admitting his guilt .. the cooperation aspect of Paul Manafort’s case is another fascinating curve-ball..

team USA, curve-ball

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And here’s another border and liminality header:

Belfast Shows the Price of Brexit

I took a guided tour of some of the scenes of the Troubles. The tour was led by a former IRA paramilitary, now working with an association of former prisoners partially subsidized by EU funds. A few hundred meters to the north, former Loyalist paramilitaries lead tours on their side of the defensive barrier that still separates predominantly Catholic from predominantly Protestant neighborhoods. The EU helps underwrite those tours, too.

Physicists playing Calvinball

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — wishing I was fluent in music, and might as well ad mathematics, Hebrew, Arabic, classical Persian, you know the drill, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Japanese.. and their courtly modes and rituals, and could play badminton, chess, dharma combat, go, eh? ]
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Here’s a wonderful description of a game in which the rules — in this case, mathematical languages — change from move to move:

It happens again and again that, when there are many possible descriptions of a physical situation—all making equivalent predictions, yet all wildly different in premise—one will turn out to be preferable, because it extends to an underlying reality, seeming to account for more of the universe at once. And yet this new description might, in turn, have multiple formulations—and one of those alternatives may apply even more broadly. It’s as though physicists are playing a modified telephone game in which, with each whisper, the message is translated into a different language. The languages describe different scales or domains of the same reality but aren’t always related etymologically. In this modified game, the objective isn’t—or isn’t only—to seek a bedrock equation governing reality’s smallest bits. The existence of this branching, interconnected web of mathematical languages, each with its own associated picture of the world, is what needs to be understood.

That’s from A Different Kind of Theory of Everything in The New Yorker, an intriguing rerad, though as a non-physicist, seeing an equivalence with Calvinball — a game in which the game in play constantly changes — is about as far as I can go.

When I was talking with Ali Minai, I said that both music and math were languages I didn’t speak, and that cut me off from much by way of discourse with mathematicians (Ali himself) and musicians (my nephew the conductor Daniel Harding), and Ali commented that music is at least an embodied abstraction, whereas math is a pure abstraction with no embodied component. I hope I’ve understood and expressed that well enough. Anyway, it was a striking comment, and not one that had ever crossed my mind, on a topic of considerable interest and real regret.

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Calvinball:

Richard Feynman would have enjoyed a Calvinball reference, methinks — but for any sober-sided physicists who don’t play bongos, here’s the philsopher Alasdair MacIntyre to much the same effect:

Not one game is being played, but several, and, if the game metaphor may be stretched further, the problem about real life is that moving one’s knight to QB3 may always be replied to by a lob over the net.

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I’d hoped to have more intriguing math or game quotes to offer here, but no luck so far, so I’m gonna post anyway.

Alita: Battle Angel

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — and don’t miss the latest message from the Archangel Michael at the end of this post ]
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Alita‘s embodiment or incarnation:

How Alita is, so very human:

And Alitas‘s backstory — her previous lives:

Coming to the big screen February 14th, Saint Valentine‘s Day.

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Or you might prefer Michael Archangel, also a battle-angel, albeit a being of peace and light:

The concept of battle angel seems irresistible — even when this particular sword-waving archangel emphasizes that many in his human audience have been confused “when we have used such terms as warriors of peace or warriors of light, or what might be construed as militant terminology”. Battles can be metaphorical — angels too?

Peace, bro.

In honor of the SuperBowl, which I as a Brit know nothing about

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — the curious language and precise scientific timing of tomorrow’s game ]
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The curious language of the Superbowl:

Memorable Trick Plays of Super Bowls Past

Sometimes trick plays are all about players’ resourcefulness—what they’re willing to do with what they’ve got. Last year, at Super Bowl LII, Nick Foles, the Eagles’ backup quarterback, who has become known for his fighting spirit and mystifyingly magic touch, called and executed perhaps the most famous trick play in recent history, “The Philly Special,” which is actually a combination of three lesser trick plays: a snap to the running back, a pitch to the tight end, and a pass to the quarterback. In 2006, at Super Bowl XL, the Steelers pulled off a similarly discombobulating series of tricks-within-a-trick, a fake double-reverse pass that ended with a forty-three-yard touchdown pass by Antwaan Randle El, the receiver with the golden arm.

Other trick plays come from coaches with no-guts-no-glory attitudes, who approach games as if they are leading the Spartans into battle. In 2010, at Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints’ coach, Sean Payton, successfully called the first ever onside kick to be attempted before the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl game (a play he nicknamed The Ambush).

There’s a video on the New Yorker page those paras are taken from, but I’m not going to steal it — if you’re into [American] football, you should go watch it there, and read the whole piece while you’re at it!

Eh?

Somewhere else, I saw a reference to “throwing the hook and ladder” — would anyone care to translate? That’s the most troublesome of the phrases I’ve seen, but “snap to the running back, a pitch to the tight end, and a pass to the quarterback” (above) comes close — what’s the difference between a “snap”, a “pitch”, and a “pass”? — and a “double-reverse pass” (above, likewise) — what’s that? Do two reverses make a straightforward? If not, why not?

Oh, and then a friend mentioned “flea flickers” and “quarterback sneaks”. Language is a terrific sport!

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The precise scientific timing of the Superbowl:

For nerds who may wonder, turning aside from the upcoming game to my twitter feed, there’s this:

What Time Is the Super Bowl?

6:30 p.m. is the time the Super Bowl will start in Atlanta. Most of us are not in Atlanta. So for us, the game will start later than that. You need the time for the images to be captured by the cameras, be broadcasted to air or cable, be captured by my TV screen, leave my TV screen, get to my eyes (not to mention the time my brain needs to process and decode the images). You may say this is fast — of course this is fast. But it takes some time nevertheless, and I am a physicist, I need precision. For most of us, the game will actually start some time later than the kickoff in Atlanta.

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Popcorn?


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