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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Canons..and Cannons
Created by John Eipper on 01/13/18 10:48 AM

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Canons..and Cannons (David Duggan, USA, 01/13/18 10:48 am)

Tom Hashimoto (January 7th) certainly meant canon law. It's from the Old English for a measuring rod, unlike Cannon Law (from French for tube), which I suppose the Pope would like to have to enforce his bulls and encyclicals.

However, that would be inconsistent with his role as the Vicar of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Instead he has to make do with fancy-dressed Swiss guards sporting halberds.

JE comments:  A large-caliber editorial "oops" on this one, especially because in my Hispanist adolescence, I delivered a conference presentation titled "Faulty Can(n)ons."  The talk explored an episode in the writings of Roberto Arlt, the "Argentine Dostoevsky," in which the protagonist Silvio Astier designs a revolutionary and unworkable cannon.  I used this example to discuss Arlt's problematic status within the Argentine literary canon.  The paper was an ambitious mélange of critical theory, cultural studies, and ballistics--meaning, a complete mess.  Didn't ever publish it...

All this is my way of saying I should know my canons and cannons.  The former actually goes back much farther than Old English, to Ancient Greek.

Thanks, as always, to David Duggan for his eagle eye.


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  • Canons..and Cannons; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/14/18 7:17 AM)

    Gary Moore writes:



    An aside: can(n)ons are strange: not only a person but 'The Law"--and not only in the West
    but in Islam (Kanun).


    Is this a borrowing, like the Turks and Persians saying "merci"?
    Maybe who cares, since WAIS is now going in many more interesting directions, i.e.,
    Burma and Silesia--and look out--hoax/impostors.


    JE comments:  Ah, the strange and mysterious turns of WAIS discussions!  I'm glad Gary Moore brought up the topic of hoaxes again.  Can we move in that direction?  I'm getting weary of the science and religion thread.

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    • Mother of All Hoaxes: Bryce Report, 1915 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/15/18 6:40 AM)
      Our esteemed moderator has asked WAISers to look at the topic of hoaxes.

      The greatest hoaxes are those that you can find in the history books written by the victors, starting with the earliest times.


      Probably, however, the "Mother of all Hoaxes" was the Bryce Report (1915) with the tale of the German troops cutting off the hands of Belgian children during the first period of WWI.


      This event may also be the first well-articulated act of propaganda which made a great worldwide impact.


      Another one is the story of Kuwaiti newborns torn out from the incubators.  This one was also widely used to justify a war.


      At Auschwitz in 1990 the commemorative plaque changed the number of the camp's victims from 4 million to 1.5 million.


      Unfortunately, in Europe, by law, it is almost impossible to research some of the hoaxes perpetuated by the victors.


      In recent days we have the great scandal of President Trump, who allegedly called some nations as s...hole.


      But in the past the US media several times called Russia a s...hole and nobody, not even the Russians, made any fuss about it, as documented by VT (Veterans Today).


      Some time ago, "good old" Trump spoke about the tragedy of 11 September and said: "It wasn't the Iraqis, it was the Saudis."


      JE comments:  Before Bryce, there was the destruction of the USS Maine in Havana harbor (1898):  "You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war" (William Randolph Hearst).


      Hoaxes come in many flavors, but there are two broad categories:  those generated from powerful or government sources, official propaganda if you will, which can have serious geopolitical consequences.  Then there are the "quiet loner" hoaxes.  Some of these can gain traction and be upgraded to the first category.

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    • Rosewood (Florida) Massacre; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/15/18 2:30 PM)

      Gary Moore writes:



      If, at JE's welcome suggestion, we plunge into the theme of hoaxes and impostors, there is the obligatory question:
      Why should this theme be so fascinating?


      Reason One could be motivation: Why did Stephen Glass of the New Republic
      ruin his promising journalism career (and the magazine) with fantastically disguised hoax articles? What kick was he
      getting out of this? His maze gets deeper in that his elaborate phony articles tended to embed hints about hoaxing
      itself--as if taunting the stupid reader to wake up and get wise. This kind of over-weaning grandiosity appears in other
      literary branches of the hoax genre--as, for instance, in Robert Abbott, one of the great but generally unrecognized
      hoaxers of the early twentieth century, using fake news articles to make his Chicago Defender the most influential
      medium for African American readers of its day, circulating nationally.


      I know about Abbott because I unearthed
      Florida's 1923 Rosewood atrocity, tracking down the survivors and witnesses who really were there, and who
      confirmed that Abbott's front-page riff on Rosewood on January 13, 1923, was a complete fake, even with a fake hero,
      "Sgt. Ted Cole," and many other sheer inventions (an academic committee on Rosewood has agreed the article was fake).
      The creative process seemed to run away with Abbott, creating even a fake correspondent from whom the piece
      allegedly came, "Eugene Brown."


      In Glass and Abbott and others, some internal balance seemed to tip, so that
      inward disdain for the suckers so thoroughly mastered the process that it began to peek out blatantly. To me it
      seems that such hoaxing provides clues to a way of understanding psychology. With Abbott, it turns out that a
      number of his articles were faked--including some in his campaign, well known to biographers, that played a
      major role in persuading black southerners to move north in the Great Migration of the World War I era, the
      process that began creating the northern urban ghettos. Hoaxes can be far-reaching.


      Perhaps Eugenio Battaglia has some background on the Yellowcake Hoax, said to have originated in Italy
      and playing a role in bringing about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003--a many-illusioned fiasco (e.g., WMDs)
      that has torn apart international relations and the Middle East.


      Somewhere behind each hoax there is fascinating psychology.


      JE comments:  The story of the Rosewood massacre is most appropriate for MLK Day.  Gary, could you tell us more about how Abbott's writings motivated African Americans to move northward?

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      • Yellowcake Hoax (John Heelan, UK 01/16/18 4:39 AM)
        Gary Moore wrote on January 15th: "Perhaps Eugenio Battaglia has some background on the Yellowcake hoax, said to have originated in Italy."

        Some people believed that the Yellowcake hoax originated in Israel.


        "Operation Plumbat": "Mossad agents arranged to set up a fictitious company called Biscayne Trader's Shipping Corporation in Liberia to purchase an ocean freighter; this became the Scheersberg A (Scheersberg is a town in northern Germany, near the border with Denmark). With the assistance of a friendly official at a German petrochemical company, $3.7 million was paid to Union Minière for 200 tonnes of yellowcake uranium. The yellowcake was left over inventory from uranium mined from Shinkolobwe. This was loaded onto the newly renamed freighter and a contract was arranged with an Italian paint company for the yellowcake to be processed."


        Further, "the CIA dispatched US diplomat Joseph Wilson to investigate. Given the imbroglio that has resulted, its not surprising that the African uranium claim has become emblematic of a larger intelligence debacle. But all the ballyhoo surrounding Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, has obscured a much clearer case of exaggeration in the run up to the war in Iraq: aluminum tubes." (http://foreignpolicy.com/2005/11/23/its-not-about-the-yellowcake/ )


        JE comments:  The Yellowcake incident received a good deal of WAIS attention in 2005.  See the following:


        Randy Black:  http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=6543&objectTypeId=793&topicId=6


        Tim Brown:  http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=7829&objectTypeId=2079&topicId=1


        Miles Seeley:  http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=7840&objectTypeId=2090&topicId=1



         

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        • Questions about the Yellowcake Hoax; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/17/18 1:48 AM)

          Gary Moore writes:



          I'm a bit confused by John Heelan's interesting information (16 January) on the yellowcake hoax (or yellowcake forgery).


          If Mossad deployed an actual fake ship, why did the intelligence fabricator in Italy need to fake a report on it?
          Was the ship John named said to be headed for Iraq? I don't see where this tantalizing clue plugs in.  (I have read the
          old Iraq-invasion-era WAIS posts that JE considerately listed, and I think my agreement is with the post by
          Miles Seeley: a whole range of deceptive ploys--including aluminum tubes, mislabeled weather stations,
          the Prague Rumor, and on and on--were used in blatant disregard in order to make a case for disastrous
          jingoism.)


          Whether Bush and others knew the ploys were fake when endorsing them would seem beside the point.


          JE comments:  Were Bush & Co. deceived, or did they deceive us?  To me the question is crucial, especially given the unending war that resulted.


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      • Robert Abbott, "Chicago Defender" and Great Northward Migration; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/21/18 9:24 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:



        Once again Edward Jajko’s philology has helped me see what was before my eyes.
        How to reconcile all the Spanish forms of “pila”? Even English has the Latinate clue:
        Pila = any kind of PILLAR. This wonderful kind of poetic conceptualization, whether
        or not also found in English [piles/pillar/piledriver], would seem to deserve a special bow.


        But with that said, I’ll veer back wrenchingly to a question from JE several days ago.  John asked me
        to trace how Robert Abbott and his Chicago Defender newspaper were major forces
        in the Great Migration of African Americans around the time of World War I,
        helping form the northern urban racial ghettos and with a sequel of racial violence
        (the Chicago riot of 1919 was a landmark, but less remembered were the
        “bombing wars,” marking out the South Side ghetto),


        Robert Abbott, born on the Georgia coast into complex circumstances,
        was anomalous when he went north in the 1890s, because at that time
        it was a truism that African Americans lived in the South, though there
        were communities in cities like Chicago, where Abbott went. There he started
        his newspaper for African American readers around 1905, as a one-page gossip
        and ad sheet laid out on his landlady’s kitchen table. But his obviously brilliant
        mind soon fixed on a distant example, William Randolph Hearst, who, with Joseph
        Pulitzer, had invented “yellow journalism”—huge headlines, sometimes in red,
        for sensationalistic stories flogging emotion rather than information.


        Abbott so completely saw the lesson that before 1920 his Chicago Defender
        was sued by the Hearst corporation for not just borrowing style but exactly
        duplicating the Hearst masthead, in efforts to pretend to actually be a Hearst
        paper. The suit forced Abbot to change from a Hearst eagle emblem to his
        later Egyptian Sphinx logo. Around 1910, he had hired J. Hockley Smiley, the
        son of a well-respected Chicago caterer but with an eventually fatal drinking
        problem, and Smiley, as all agree, helped show Abbott how to not simply dress
        up the news, but fabricate it. The technique of outrageous hoax news—going
        far beyond Hearst, whose audience would have been able to check—was formidable
        when aimed at an artificially information-starved readership desperate for discourse
        and usually in no position to verify what the suddenly mushrooming Chicago Defender
        said. Abbott was apparently genuinely outraged by racial atrocities, but his coverage
        repeatedly took wire-service boilerplate and then performed the seemingly impossible,
        making real atrocities worse than they actually were—while inventing the occasional
        outrage out of whole cloth, and, especially, rearranging violent outbreaks to create
        extreme demons and angels.


        This alone, of course, would have been unlikely to cause
        any mass exodus from the South, but Abbott took more direct aim at that possibility.
        His “Great Northern Drive” project began using the Defender in ways large and small to
        promise paradise in the North as a panacea for hell in the South, while sometimes spying
        great masses of enthusiastic northward train passengers who, it seems, weren’t quite real.
        But soon reality followed image, as real people rushed to join the described throngs.
        By that time the Defender was circulating throughout the South, sent by train to local
        distributors in places like barbershops, to be passed hand to hand or read aloud, with
        each copy said to reach many hearers.


        The dismal comment on American information
        was that these consumers, facing “black brute” smugness in the mainstream white press,
        were pushed to the alternative of Robert Abbott’s almost tragicomically make-believe universe,
        wreathed in the paper’s black-exploitation ads for skin whiteners, hair straighteners,
        and get-rich-quick schemes. There were other African American-oriented papers,
        such as James Weldon Johnson’s New York Age, that weren’t like this,
        though even in them the pressures could bring fainter echoes of the theme.
        Abbott, focused impressively on circulation numbers, was able to generate
        what even sympathetic biographers have characterized as something approaching
        a mass mania among some black Southerners, a “fever” to move north.


        This wasn’t in a vacuum; Abbott’s arch-enemy, Jamaica-born leader Marcus
        Garvey, was at the same time generating less successful but widespread emotion
        for a back-to-Africa solution by emigration to Liberia.
        Naturally, with the labor shortages and other effects of World War I, there was
        going to be movement north with or without the Chicago Defender’s urging,
        but there seems to be general agreement that Robert Abbott’s inspiration did play
        a significant role in helping reshape the nation—a story that could easily be (and
        has been) idealized—though the pathologies behind the Sphinx masthead were intense.


        Abbott was a profoundly mysterious impostor not only in print but personally,
        as his most extensive biographer, African American journalist Roi Ottley, has shown
        (writing in a biography initiated by and approved by Abbott’s heirs): Becoming
        one of the nation’s first black millionaires on his Defender formula, Abbott would
        attend the Chicago Opera in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce (he apparently never
        learned to drive himself), carrying a gold-headed cane and, unfathomably, embarrassing
        companions by launching into bursts of gibberish, which he apparently hoped
        would make him look to opera-goers like visiting African royalty.


        While his newspaper
        presented a hero for racial justice (and gave lavish front-page coverage to any travels
        by the editor), he sequentially married two different women much younger than himself,
        both of whom were so light-complexioned that observers thought they were white.
        When the first marriage led to bitter divorce, he searched until he could repeat the process.
        Both wives were said to agree (there were the divorce papers) that throughout matrimony
        the editor insisted they call him “Mr. Abbott,” even in the bedroom. The dismal distortions
        of those years point up the urgency behind the black pride movement of the 1960s.


        Though
        Robert Abbott’s story has repeatedly been told, the full pattern of creating a fantasy universe,
        as replacement for a distorted world, is seldom brought together in a way that can reach general
        opinion--perhaps since such frankness would require such extraordinary care, on the tightrope
        of racial animosities and illusions in a tense society, that fleeting examiners stray a bit more
        toward Abbott’s own kind of solution, arranging angels and demons to fit. The overall implication
        is on the context of public discourse that all concerned observers depend on: under unavoidable and
        perhaps inescapable societal pressures, there can be large gaps and pitfalls in what we routinely accept
        as honest characterization of the world, and especially of history.


        JE comments:  I had to peak at Wikipedia:  Abbott died in 1940, and was an early US practitioner of the Baha'i religion.  Baha'i does not seem to be in step with his lavish lifestyle.  Also, and I learned this from WAISer Vincent Littrell, Baha'is do not acknowledge the existence of different "races," but stress the oneness of humanity.  How does this jibe with publishing a newspaper for a strictly African American audience?

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    • Cannons, Canons, Kanun...and Kanuni Suleyman (Edward Jajko, USA 01/18/18 7:01 AM)
      To expand on Gary Moore's aside (January 14) on the philologically rich word "canon" and its use in the Middle East, where he says it appears in Islam as Kanun:

      The word is indeed found in Islamic society, but this is because the Greek word κανων (I regret that I cannot supply the appropriate circumflex accent mark) was borrowed into Arabic very early. Arabic moved into and settled in areas of Greek language and culture and absorbed words; others were already in Arabic before the Islamic conquests. Greek κανων became Arabic قانون, "qanun," both vowels long. "Qanun" means law, rule; the word also refers to an Arab, Persian, and Turkish zyther. Ottoman Turkish قانون became Republican Turkish kânun. The emperor known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent was known to the East as قانوني سليمان, in modern Turkish Kânuni Süleyman, i.e., Suleiman the Lawgiver.


      Further examples of the use of the word: even modern Arab civil law is qanun, plural qawanin. In 1025 Avicenna (Ibn Sina) wrote his medical encyclopedia القانون في الطب - al-Qanun fi al-tibb, a title that is generally translated in the Latin as "Canon Medicinae" and in English as "The Canon of Medicine." A better translation might be "The Rule Book: On Medicine."


      JE's use of "can(n)ons" is clever and appropriate, since both words, "canon" and "cannon," seem to derive from the same source. The Greek κανων and related καννα seem to derive from Semitic, specifically Akkadian KANU(M), a word that could go back 4,500 years or more, and the perhaps equally ancient Hebrew cognate קנה, qaneh.


      The word that originally meant a reed or similar tube or stick split into two meanings, the first a means of measuring; then measurement, guidance, or law; then a number of other meanings; on the way, it referred to a musical instrument, a chorale-like musical performance, the most sacred part of the Mass, and a personage holding a particular ecclesiastical office. Among other things.


      The other split-off from the words meaning a perhaps hollow reed or tube developed into a word meaning a tube of indeterminate size that could shoot out a projectile powered by gun powder.


      What I am still undecided about is if Arabic قانون qanun is a word that continued the Semitic tradition from the Akkadian, Hebrew/Canaanite, and no doubt other related languages, or if it is a relatively newer reformation into a Semitic language of a borrowed Indo-European word that had a Semitic source. والله اعلم - Only God knows.


      JE comments:  The above, WAIS Friends, is the Canon on can(n)ons.  No mortal can rival Pan Jajko in philology.  Shall we go one step further, to northern Arizona, and add canyons to our inquiry?  Massive holes in the ground also trace their origins back to the primordial reed or tube.

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      • Canons and Pilas; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 01/18/18 3:21 PM)

        Gary Moore writes:



        Edward Jajko’s magnificent dissection (18 January) of the word-cluster cannon/canon,
        tracing both “cannon” and “canon” to conceptual roots in a hollow tube,
        reminds of the mysteries of Spanish: a “pila” is a cement milestone marker
        by the roadside, but also is a battery in a flashlight—so the nosy traveler
        thinks: “Aha! The hidden conceptual commonality is 'cylinder' or cylinder-like object." 


        But then there is the side-yard “pila” where tireless laundresses
        scrub clothes in a heavy cement sink—not cylindrical at all. So does this then
        push the detective work into a more inclusive category, as with Edward’s
        reed/tube, so that “pila” becomes “any weighty object that can stand upright”--almost a stella? There is the schoolroom boast: “English is synthetic;
        Spanish is analytic.”


        JE comments:  Perhaps it's easier to see these anomalies in other people's languages.  The great Borges reminded us that "cleave" (in English) means both itself and its opposite--to divide and to cling/adhere.  The opposite phenomenon is "ravel" and "unravel," morphological antonyms that have identical meanings.


        Our own "pile" is no stranger to strangeness.  Besides a mountain of stuff, it can mean a vertical stake (pile-driver), the fluffy surface of a cloth or carpet--and if you add an S, you get hemorrhoids.



         

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        • Fun with Latin: Pilum, Gladius, Vagina (Edward Jajko, USA 01/19/18 4:21 AM)
          This is irresistible. First, many thanks to Gary Moore for his kind words of January 18th. Second, with regard to "pila," Spanish is of course neo-Latin, and one must look to the mother language for guidance. According to latin-dictionary.net, which derives its definition from the 1982 Oxford Latin Dictionary, Latin "pila," a feminine word of the first declension, means: "1. funerary monument w/cavity; 2. low pillar monument; 3. pier, pile; 4. squared pillar." One might add the neuter word of the second declension, "pilum," which means "1. javelin, heavy iron-tipped throwing spear; 2. pike." This seems to cover almost all of the words brought up by Gary and JE. "Piles" seems to derives through Old English from Latin, again, "pilae."

          Since WAIS is interested in things martial: The "pilum" was the standard-issue weapon that the Roman soldier carried, in addition to his "gladius," his short sword (which I add, for the fun of it, he kept sheathed in his "vagina").


          As I said, irresistible.


          JE comments:  Absolutely.  Etymology may be the mother of all understanding.  (Entomology is pretty darn interesting, too--although ickier.  Or how about Theology, a frequent topic on WAIS, vs Ichthyology?)


          And then there's Isandlwana (South Africa).  Next, Tim Ashby reports.


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