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Mind-stuff.. and a thought-experiment

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — I’m no longer captivated by chyrons, it seems — and for the next week weeks, it’ll be glass bead games at BrownPundits and my extended examination of advertising as magic here ]
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Mind-stuff.. mind-stuff that grabs my attention is what I’ll deliver here

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Baghdadi — not meditating — contemplating, perhaps — more mayhem?

**

Another pattern to follow:

It was unclear whether the increase was the result of a shift of Taliban tactics, or just the greatly increased tempo of the war this year, as both sides pushed to improve their positions at the negotiating table.

Taliban Train Sights on Aid Groups, an Ominous Turn in Afghanistan

One thinks — I tend to think — of negotiations as leaning away from warfare and violence and towards peace and reconciliation. My pattern language now needs to encompass negotiations as warfare and violence inducing as well as peace and reconciliation leaning.

For an analytic mind, boggling; for on the ground negotiators, something to bear in mind

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It’s like our scattered space debris, mind-stuff.

As Patanjali says: Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha — Great Silence quiets the mind-stuff..

Ah, well..

I’ll do a post on religions that offer analytic methods shortly..

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And on that topic —

I have always wondered — I haven’t been here always, but wot the hell, Archie, as Mehitabel would say — always wondered about the parallelism between koans, ie case law precedents in Chan and Zen Buddhist tradition, and case law precedents in Western jurisprudence>

Now my wish gets new life, as I read Jason Giannetti, Koan and Case Law:

The Zen koan comes from the Chinese kung-an, meaning a “public case,” as in a legal matter brought before a judge. There are numerous ways in which these koan could be related to law cases. Very straightforwardly, these are public records, the recorded sayings of the early Chan masters that have been passed down and commented upon, just as there may be public legal cases that have authority as precedent and have been commented upon. The koan encounter could be understood as a judgement by a master upon a student based upon the student’s understanding of the “case.” A third way in which the connection could be understood is that the koan tests the student’s understanding of the Dharma. Dharma has many meanings in Buddhism, but one of those meanings is “law.”

Wheee thanks, Jason!

**

Nancy Pelosi’s “self-impeachable” is both a wonderful ouroboros and nonsense — a contradiction in terms. Trump’s “investigating the investigators” is far more (semantically) interesting. It’s a bit like that card game where you call out “War” or “Snap when you see both cards are the same..

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I’m keeping an eye out for security implications of climate chamnge, also “climate migrants” which may well become quite a phenomenon:

  • DoD, FY 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap
  • DoD, National Security Implications of Climate-related Risks and a Changing Climate
  • World Bank, Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration
  • Climate & Security, Activities of Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration
  • DoD, Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense
  • Climate & Security, U.S. GAO Issues 2 Reports in 2 Months Covering Climate and Security
  • **

    To wrap up:

    I was looking for an ilklustration to go with my weaponized thoughts post, To weaponize metaphors.. thoughts as clothes, clothes as thoughts, and I finally — too late — came across this:

    I certainly think that pic could be interpreted as illustrating the assembling and disassembling of thoughts (2nd Amendment, Don’t Tread on Me, Safety First etc) as a function of weaponizing them.

    It comes from an (is it?) anti-gun (as if one can be pro- or anti- gun rather than pro- or anti- certain kinds of access) piece titled Thought Experiment: What might the world be like if there were no guns?.

    But a thought experiment? That’s a refreshing change from arguments pro- or con!

    Next up, a most miscellaneous miscellany

    Sunday, May 5th, 2019

    [ by Charles Camerom — no longer spending much time scanning for chyrons, but there’s still plenty of interest in my feed — note the great quote from A Man for All Seasons ]
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    Unbelievable!

    From Trump’s 2020 campaign manager:

    **

    Less bogus religion, more mundane reality:

    Stunning: Clint Watts offers an “life imitating art imitating life” (and I quote) instance on Meet the Press — a short, sharp overview of how Putin trolls the US electorate with malicious intent:

    That interview was shot a while back, but is worth revisiting today. Omn May 1st, Watts spoke of a “war game” and it was in searching (unsuccessfully) for that clip that I stumbled on this one.

    **

    Let’s follow that up with a tweet-repeated ouroboros chaser:

    **

    Somewhere I saw:

    The flase narrative got out of the gate long before the truth did ..A tic-tac-toe pin for all of the games played by Mnuchin, Barr and Trump ..
    impeachment is an explosive undertaking and can ricochet in all sorts of complicated directions ..
    Mehdi Hasan: The Democrats bring a knife tom a gun-fight, the Republicans bring a rocket-launcher ..
    Charlotte Alter: Buttegeig speaks Democratic with a Republican accent..
    Mike Barnickle (re Biden): It’s hideously early in the campaign. I mean, it’s not even spring training, forget the exhibition games that have yet toi be played. It’s very early, so he’s got a big bounce from name recogmnition ..
    Rick Wilson: It’s an interesting play (for Dems). I think if they camn draw the arc from nationalism to populism to statism to authoritarianism to Trumpism, they’ve got something there ..
    Flannery: We have a crime syndicate in the west wing ..
    I think they could have hammered him and sickled him to death ..*****

    **

    I’ll not bother to load the video clips themselves, but for the record, here’s Trump inviting Russia to hack Hillary’s emails, and Hillary inviting China to hack Trump’s tax returns — a DoubleQuote, albeit an obvious one — structurally equivalent to a cinematic flashback. But here’s another DQ, just a little less obvious perhaps:

    Chris Matthews, incidentally, is on a roll comparing William Barr‘s situation to that of Roper in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. Thomas More reproves Roper for his infidelity with the words:

    For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales!

    That’s the same Will Roper to whom More addresses his celebrated speech:

    nd when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

    **

    That William Safire-Barr business, from Cover-up Attorney General Bill Barr strikes again — one of those crucial rhymes:

    Back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as “Coverup-General Barr” because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iron-Contra.”

    — and another Barr quote, from The Complicated Friendship of Robert Mueller and William Barr:

    Figliuzzi described the dynamic between Mueller and Barr as one of “a boy scout” (Mueller) versus “a street fighter” (Barr). … “Mueller is a guy who plays by the rules, and he was playing by the rules in this report,” Figliuzzi told me. “He kind of trusts that the system will take care of itself, and he kicks his report over across the street to DOJ. That’s where things go south.”

    **

    Another tweet:

    Certainly a striking formulation, that — “Love, in public, is justice..” I heard that too, and had to chew on it, which is why I googled and found this tweet: the one thing this isn’t is conflict-avoidant.

    **

    Okay, here’s a John Bolton triple:


    Dexter Filkin
    ‘s a must-read — but his current NYorker piece leads us back to two other striking Bolton headers:

    Bolton is hardly my favorite, but drawing the attention of Filkins, Gourevitch and Robin wright is surely a mark of honor of some kind.

    Sources:

  • Dexter Filkins, John Bolton on the Warpath
  • Philip Gourevitch, What Is John Bolton’s Bully-Pulpit Attack Really About?
  • Robin Wright, John (“Bomb Iran”) Bolton, the New Warmonger in the White House
  • No man should be a judge in his own case

    Friday, October 5th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — lady justice courted by an unsuitable suitor? ]
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    Kavanaugh‘s op-ed. and my learned friend’s comment:

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    Sources:

  • Wikipedia, Nemo iudex in causa sua
  • Wall Street Journal, I Am an Independent, Impartial Judge
  • **

    One of the texts embedded in our Zenpundit graphical header is by James Madison in Federalist 10:

    No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.

    I think we have two or three headers, so look up at the top of this page and you may see it..

    **

    Of course, writing an op-ed isn’t a judgment, it’s not an amicus curiae brief either — it’s advocacy, in fact self-representation. So maybe the better legal tag would be:

    A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

    Even that’s not exact, but I don’t know quite how to pin it down: something is fishy in the state of play? Is that vague enough? I think there’s an ouroboros loose in the title of Judge Kavanaugh’s op-ed, is all..

    **

    Written after the procedural vote and before the final vote:

    In his WSJ op-ed, Judge Kavanaugh says, “I Said a Few Things I Should Not Have Said”. Is someone who at a crucial point under oath addressing the Senate Judiciary Committee, by his own admission said things, acutely partisan, visibly furious things he should not have said, is someone to be relied upon to avoid doing the same on the Supreme bench on issues of inflamed political passions and high consequences?

    Threeness games — some back-up materials

    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — ternary logic is of special import because it upsets binary oppositional thinking ]
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    In a recent comment, I said that to connect with my various posts on three-player games, there’s this from an episode of Designated Survivor:

    transnational three-way spy trade

    For the record, that’s a win-win-win strategy.

    **

    While we’re on the subject of threeness games, there’s Brett Kavanaugh‘s explanation of Devil’s Triangle as a drinking game in his testimony:

    Sen Whitehouse: Devil’s Triangle?
    Judge Kavanaugh: Drinking game.
    Sen Whitehouse: How’s it played?
    Judge Kavanaugh: Three glasses, in a triangle..
    Sen Whitehouse: And?
    Judge Kavanaugh: You ever play Quarters?
    Sen Whitehouse: No.
    Judge Kavanaugh: It’s a Quarters game.

    Here’s a more conventional explanation:

    A “Devil’s Triangle” is a widely used term for an act of sexual congress between two men and a woman; but during his hearing, Brett Kavanaugh nonsensically insisted that this was some sort of drinking game.

    Okay, these matters are interesting not because they deal with threeness as in friend or foe games in which temporary alliances (twos) can overcome single ones while new alliances can switch losers for winners — nor as in Konrad Lorenz‘s goose pecking order example, where a > b > c > a — but simply because threeness is involved — three players, three cups &c.

    **

    For good measure, from MIT Tech Review, The first “social network” of brains lets three people transmit thoughts to each other’s heads:

    In recent years, physicists and neuroscientists have developed an armory of tools that can sense certain kinds of thoughts and transmit information about them into other brains. That has made brain-to-brain communication a reality.

    These tools include electroencephalograms (EEGs) that record electrical activity in the brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which can transmit information into the brain.

    That — apart from the brains themselves — is the basic tech involved.

    In 2015, Andrea Stocco and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle used this gear to connect two people via a brain-to-brain interface. The people then played a 20 questions–type game.

    An obvious next step is to allow several people to join such a conversation, and today Stocco and his colleagues announced they have achieved this using a world-first brain-to-brain network. The network, which they call BrainNet, allows a small group to play a collaborative Tetris-like game.

    That’s the gaming.

    And here’s the pretty diagram that allows those like myself who have only the haziest of ideas where or what the occipital cortex is to nod sagely, acknowledging that we learn something new every day..

    **

    One isn’t, I’ve argued, even a number: one is one and all alone, and ever more shall be so. Two is the first number, standing as it does both for binary systems (duel and duet, competition and collaboration) and for many or all, as in the one and the many, or one and all..

    But three — ah, three is the first differentiated number, neither two nor two plus two (aka two multiplied by two, two to its own power, two squared, four).. It stands in its own right: three.

    In the number series, it offers us our first hint that there are shades of grey possible between none and one, yes and no, day and night, black and white..

    Three is the tie-breaker, the umpire, balance, justice — three is the liminal number par excellence.

    **

    And one last scrap of detail:

    The proof-of-principle network connects three people: two senders and one person able to receive and transmit, all in separate rooms and unable to communicate conventionally. The group together has to solve a Tetris-like game in which a falling block has to be rotated so that it fits into a space at the bottom of the screen.

    The two senders, wearing EEGs, can both see the full screen. The game is designed so the shape of the descending block fits in the bottom row either if it is rotated by 180 degrees or if it is not rotated. The senders have to decide which and broadcast the information to the third member of the group.

    This is all a bit primitive thus far, but then it’s also a beginning — a window on vast possibilities.

    **

  • Zenpundit, Numbers by the numbers: three / pt 1,
  • Zenpundit, Spectacularly non-obvious, I: Elkus on strategy & games
  • Zenpundit, Spectacularly non-obvious, 2: threeness games
  • Zenpundit, Spectacular illustration of a game of three

  • & no doubt, more..
  • Three — watch out for it, in Hegel, in CS Peirce, in George Boole, in Clausewitz, everywhere!

    Extended chess and baseball metaphors

    Sunday, September 9th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — a light-hearted look at Trump Chess, and an umpire explains millisecond decision-making ]
    .

    The first of two pieces I’ll explore here is from the New Yorke, Rules for Trump Chess by Andrew Paul. It’s a humor piece, but not without its satirical effect, as you can tell from Rule #1:.

    Each turn is referred to as a “news cycle.”

    At times, the hunmor gets a bit sour, as with Rule #4:

    A handful of new pieces will be introduced during game play, scattered haphazardly across the board. They include: two overcooked macaroni noodles (Kushners), a shrivelled white raisin with lint on it (Sessions), and a washcloth soaked in warm Johnnie Walker (Bannon). Their permitted moves are unclear, but every news cycle, players must select one to put in their mouths until they gag.

    Links to an earlier (and more balanced) form of chess are not entirely absent, as exemplified by Rule #11:

    Knights still move in that ridiculous two-squares-up, one-square-over path. They think they are being very clever. Their creepy horse faces must always be turned to face the king.

    You can read the rest at the New Yorker site

    **

    Of deeper interest, though with less immediate application to politics, is Jim Evans‘ WaPo piece, Sorry, judges, we umpires do more than call balls and strikes. Here’s the setup:

    I don’t remember when I first heard the popular analogy comparing judges to umpires calling balls and strikes, but recently it’s been everywhere. When Brett Kavanaugh was first nominated to the Supreme Court, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called him “a constitutionalist — someone who will call balls and strikes.” This past week, as Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings began, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) described him as “somebody who calls balls and strikes and doesn’t come up with his own strike zone.” Supposedly a judge is, and should be, as mechanical as an ump.

    Mechanical, eh?

    It’s true that there are similarities. Umpires have always been considered authority figures, like judges. Both are subject to a lot of scrutiny, and we do what we think is right by rule and tradition. Umpiring is a special calling and a learned skill that requires extraordinary mental toughness. When you put on your uniform, you are supposed to leave all your subjective feelings in that dressing room. Personal integrity and respect for the game are at stake.

    I’ve seen similar said about judges when they put on their robes.. But even the simple “calling balls and strikes” level of analogy lacks subtlety:

    Seeing the televised rectangle that allegedly represents the strike zone, you might surmise that any 3-year-old should be able to tell whether that little white sphere is in or out of that box. Replay has reinforced the feeling that it’s simple and obvious.

    Yet there are many intangibles when it comes to calling balls and strikes. What the umpire’s actually doing is gauging a baseball’s relative position as it travels 95 miles an hour into a three-dimensional area. You’re judging a pitch as it leaves the pitcher’s hand and goes to the catcher’s mitt in less than half a second.

    Getting into greater finesse:

    For example, the rule book states that a runner must avoid a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball. If you collided with a shortstop who was bent over in the act of fielding a ground ball, you would be guilty of interference. But if the shortstop had completed the act of fielding and was attempting to tag you when the collision occurred, there would be no penalty. Among elite athletes, this all happens in milliseconds, and to the untrained eye, the plays look the same — both violent collisions with the ball on the ground. This requires an interpretation of when one act ended and another began, and whose rights are in effect. This is a judgment call.

    Interesting final sentence, that.

    Okay, it would be neat if an appellate or superior court judge could write a similar piece on the niceties of judicial judgment..

    **

    Umpires and referees..

    I’ve always tended to think of umpires as the cricket equivalents of referees, and referees as the soccer equivalents of umpires, but what do I know?

    Chair Umpire Carlos Ramos arguably interfered in the match, bringing both repeated champion Serena Williams and first-time winner Naomi Osaka to tears.

    Match Referee Brian Earley holds his fists in, exemplifying both the passion and restraint in play in the US Open final

    In the Serena Williams objection to penalties allotted her during the second set of her finals match with Japan’s young winner Naomi Osaka, I’ve learned today that in tennis, the umpire, usually seated in a high chair at center court makes unassailable rulings of fact, while the referee can overrule him in matters of tennis law — effectively making the umpire analogous to the jury, and the referee to the judge, in a trial by jury.

    And thus the analogical web widens..


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