Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.



DR har for nyligt holdt en konkurrence i at lave Public Service spil. Kravene var at to skulle kunne spille dem sammen og at de skulle sætte samfundsrelevante emner til debat.

Vinderen var spillet Værdikamp - som er en kombination af den gamle klassiker Space Invaders og et holdningsspil. Det er svært at forklare, men det er lykkes designeren at koble et Shoot-em-up spil med en mekanisme der sætter tankerne i gang om filosofiske og politiske spørgsmål. Samtidigt har han formået at integrere mekanismer til afhængighed mellem konkurrerende spillere samt åbnet mulighed for at spillere kan bidrage til spillet ved at bidrage med deres egne værdi-ord.

Selvom resultatet er lidt kedeligt at se på rent grafisk, så skaber det en spiloplevelse der er helt speciel - og meget interessant set fra et inddragelsesmæssigt synspunkt.

Jeg tror at vi har at gøre med motivationsretorik i Nadja Passk forstand.

Tainted love

A suggestion from Boy on a Stick and Slither:


Defintion breaks the day

I have written on how definitions can be used in an International Relations context to create rhetorical situations. In these days we see a chilling example of how definitions are also active in the domestic debate, where it shapes the pretext for action, civil and official alike.

The minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has criticised the mayor of the town Aarhus of speaking "like an imam" - refering to the Mohammed-cartoon crisis where the Danish imams were accused of talking with two tongues, saying one thing at home and another thing away.

Let's look at Lars Løkke Rasmussens statement in Toulmin's simple argumentation model:

Claim: (Mayor) Nikolaj Wammen speaks like an Imam.
Data: He says different things different places (lies)
Warrant: Those who says different things in different places (lies) talks like an Imam

...meaning that all Imams are liars.

Simple, but that is what he said, obviously.

Luckily a lot of people protested over the definition that fuels this argument. And knowing that Løkke Rasmussen isn't stupid, it can only be seen as a (populistic? Oh, alas!) jab at a group of people we shouldn't necessarily try to ostracise but rather have a (democratic) dialogue with.

Goddammit Løkke! Shape up! We don't need definition wash-outs that are so low-brow.


PET's good cop/bad cop mediestrategi

Kommunikationsforum i dag har Timme Bisgaard Munk en meget interessant observation i en artikel om PET's nye mediestrategi:

Chefen Lars Findsen er den officielle talsmand og hans udtalelser suppleres af den afgåede chef Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen:

"Konstellationen af den tidligere og nuværende chef har været en klassisk bad cop/good cop rollefordeling, hvor Findsen har været den fåmælte, faktuelle tough guy og Bonnichsen den diskuterende og dialogiske landsbybetjent."

Timme Bisgaard Munk stiller spørgsmålstegn ved Bonnichsens rolle - er han uafhængig eller en hemmelig del af PET's strategi? Er han et wild-card som PET ikke kan styre?

En overvejelse som måske bør tages med ind, er at gamle efterretningsfolk traditionelt set ikke får afløb for alle deres gode historier. Derfor har der været en tradition for at deres dagbøger og memoirs er blevet udgivet posthumt. Trangen til at snakke om sit arbejde har sparet sig op gennem mange års tavshed - og mon ikke også Bonnichsen har en rem af huden?


Have a Stealth Ship - and get a free CIA dock on the side

Over in the department for weird military equipment for sale (the home of Tårnfalken UAVs for example) you can now get your very own stealth ship - the Sea Shadow. And it is all for free - as the US Navy is seeking to donate it to museums or the like. The Sea Shadow was a project to test the use of Stealth technology at sea. It comes with the Hughes Mining Barge (HMB-1) a semi-submersible floating dock that was constructed during the CIA mission "Jennifer" to raise a sunken USSR sub off Hawaii.



Leaking intelligence papers in Denmark

As a part of the on-going investigation into a suspected terror-cell that was arrested last week, the Danish Civil Defence laboratories have made an analysis of liquid from the apartment (that turned out to be triacetone triperoxide, TATP).

However, this came to the public's knowledge after papers were "found outside the laboratory by an unnamed man and turned over to the tabloid BT". The Civil Defence officials are most astounded how this could happen and they say that they are most sorry. But if this hadn't been Denmark, it would reek of being a selectively leaked story. It fits perfectly with a new news-week starting monday morning, in a week where the police will be under pressure to prove a grounded motive and plot. The paper re-frames the discussion and ads to the public's conviction.

But before crying "Conspiracy" we should remember the incident in the 1980s, where a NATO officer was dining at a hot-dog stand (the fabled "Pølsevogn" that roams Copenhagen) and forgot his briefcase with plans for NATO invasion contingencies. Strange things just happens out of the blue. And who knows? Perhaps there was an open window in the Civil Defence Lab, whence the paper blew?


Fighting in Afghanistan overtakes Iraq in intensity

A video-phone clip shows British III Paras in firefights in Afghanistan. A British general warns that the fighting in Afghanistan has overtaken the fighting in Iraq in intensity and states that it is the most dogged fighting done by British infantry since Korea.

It is interesting that the general is in a situation where he can use a double comparison to underscore the intensity. As a rhetorical function, the comparison, the analogy and the example are some of the most effective figures for us to understand something in connection to something else. That and a grainy video showing bullets flying and bombs being dropped.


Intelligence and kairos

Denmark had its largest anti terror raid in recent years the other night, when the apartments of seven men were raided by the police and the Danish Security Intelligence Service (DSIS or PET).

However, today only two men have been held on charges, the other five remain in custody and the police have 72 hours to substantiate. Berlingske writes about it here (in Danish).

Right from the outset it has been communicated that the raid was done early in a planning-phase that would lead the young men to detonate a powerful bomb somewhere in Denmark. The officials from PET have stated that they didn't dare wait longer, as the plot had moved into a certain phase.

This is a classical problem of doing police intelligence in a democracy: wait too long, and the bombs might go off, interfere too soon, the suspects will walk away due to a lack of evidence.

In the 1990s after the first World Trade bomb, there was a case where PET did apprehend a man because he had stocked large amounts of fertilizer. A map was found, that was said to depict the American embassy in Copenhagen. However in court the man held that the map was produced by his son while playing the role playing game "Shadowrun". He was cleared of all charges. (I can't remember what was said about the fertilizer, but if he had hoarded it because he got a cheap deal, that would probably have set him in a good light with the Danish public).

In rhetoric the term "Kairos" is used for the notion of the right moment or "timeliness". In this kind of intelligence-work, you could contend that timeliness is the essence, and that the skill to define the opportune moment is one of experience, not theory.