Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Portland's Earth Day celebrations combined with a national March for Science. "You know it's severe when even nerds appear" was one of the signs. These were not your usual assortment of activists. Some came in lab coats.  "Dieticians against Twinkies" read another sign.

The organizers had rented a fairly high powered sound stage and were able to project speeches to the gathering thousands, after which followed a march, permitted, peaceful. One black-block-looking guy seemed out of place, furtively glancing about from behind his mask for at least one other anarchists in his tribe.  Police kept a low profile, with no riot cops in gear that we could see.

Glenn and I took the bus downtown and joined in the march but also stood on the sidelines, the better to take pictures and enjoy the exotic assortment of science advocates.

We adjourned to the Yard House where we were soon joined by Dr. DiNucci, an expert in parallelism and operations research.  He'd been marching with the Humanists' banner.

I saw several people I know in the crowd today, including a few Quakers.

The perception among many is that politicians, a lower ranking form of social engineer, may have lost their grasp on reality, in an effort to govern through make-believe.  Their policies seem increasingly irrational to the point of crazy.

Washington DC, a distant city, run more by lawyers than engineers, seems to have dwindling relevance around the Pacific Rim.  All those bellicose threats against our way of life add up to a big turn off.

Those avidly seeking greater political power inadvertently advertise their sense of not having much.  The End of Power comes to mind, a book in the Blue House collection.

Rising Literacy

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

Some weeks ago, Multnomah Friends considered moving the traditional third Sunday business meeting off of Easter in favor of doing business another day.  Why?  The consensus was to barrel on ahead.  Business on Easter might be especially propitious even?

As the cookie crumbled, I got an opportunity to chauffeur an MVP out to PDX.  He's off to a world meetup, not in Zurich this time.

Then I met my Shanghai friend at the Bagdad.  He's much more serious about containing NK than I am, a diffuser and disperser of nation-states (in my own thinking).

Chinese, Japanese and SKers are closer to the situation than I am.  A lot of political capital gets spent on making Americans care enough to watch the old M.A.S.H. episodes.

Cleveland High School was more a business school in the early days, grooming people to have basic office skills, both interpersonal and technical.  Typing at some number of words per minute, error free, was a technical skill.

Then typing became word processing which became desktop publishing. With the invention of the Web came HTML + CSS + JS.  That's the business school triad of today, throwing in SVG, SQL and Regular Expressions (regexes) for a skill set even more rounded.

I'm working along that "pipeline" (K-12) much of my week, grappling with older students (adults) some evenings.  Pedagogue by day, andragogue by night.

HTML = hypertext markup language, the paradigm markup language and direct relative of XML. These tags define a document's "object model" meaning the DOM, or Document Object Model.

CSS = Cascading Style Sheets, more and more capable, used for styling and describing the look of things, to the point of providing transitions and animations.

SVG = Scalar Vector Graphics.  Similar to Postscript in providing "zoom-able" characteristics.

SQL = Structured Query Language, used to store, update and filter-select records from sets of interlocking tables called Relational Database Systems.

JS = Javascript, an emerging computer language, not at all the same language as Java, and customized to work with the DOM and Shadow DOM.  Lookup React and Angular for examples of frameworks in this language.  Also Babel, which allows future features today.

I think of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock.  The typewriter seemed like a big advance in its time.  I remember shopping with mom for an Olivetti in Rome, one of the newer electric kind.  Those machines already felt futuristic to the folks living that dream, however they gave one less control over presentation, with the disadvantage of storing as hardcopy, in devices still known as "file cabinets".

The future is here in terms of instant real time communications with friends and family, in addition to asynchronous.  Fun.

Why NK would wanna to join the loser states I'm not sure.  Having nuke weapons is a sign of mental illness and moral decadence in today's world.  Why NK'd wanna join the club of nukehead nations is anyone's guess. Time warp?  Throwback?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Worldly Affairs

Derek (aka "Deke the Geek") received a welcome donation of fresh Chinese food, thanks to restaurateur neighbors, and called me at the right time to share some.  I was in a funk, having Youtube issues, however by the time we'd finished, those issues had resolved.

Today I start two new gigs, a third this Wednesday, plus there's the MOOC, also starting, so I have a full plate to say the least.  However, unless I pace myself, I'm sure to burn out, so let's see how smoothly I'm able to time-share.  Yes, multi-tasking may be an illusion, but task-switching is not, and may be more or less "interrupt driven".

The MOOC is on IoT ("Internet of Things") and promises to get me into Arduino country, so I hope I'm up to it. My skills are only so-so in so many areas.  I wouldn't take myself skiing for example. Let's hope I'm not a total clod on the bicycle again, like that time with Suzanne (I wiped out twice).

So far so good, with the Cannondale from Sam (the two previous bikes were stolen, Tinkerbell from my own backyard, and the one Lindsey worked on from Jay when on Food Not Bombs duty. I'm not keeping up any gym memberships.

SourceTree by Atlassian, the makers of JIRA, may be my solution when it comes to Git. My coding career reached its peak, in the medical research area, before Github was even a gleam in some Youtuber's reflecting glasses. I'm wanting to branch my Python5 repo but am unclear on the sequence.

Patrick is in the batters' box as opening hitter on my evening gig, in case traffic delays me today. I'm dreading the drive from Beaverton back to Blue House, given bridge repairs. In theory I have plenty of time, but that's only theory.

The opportunity to learn new skills is welcome and I'm grateful, and our theme in Meeting on Sunday, yesterday, amidst many concerns. My work is to orchestrate my learning experience in such a way as to not overtax my limited capabilities.  Stress is a positive in a gymnasium sense, because it's well-managed. Stress in the wild, i.e. life during wartime, takes its toll on us all.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Bad Theater


Unabomber City, built by Beltway Bandits, is at it again with the unilateral reprisals, for a crime no one had time to investigate (by design), shades of 2013.

No one believes the ranting and raving anymore. Clearly this plan was up some sleeve, funded by petrodollars. Some triggering event would be needed.

The charade at the UN was the thinnest yet.  The UK and US role players read from their same script, per usual.  The diplomatic gestures were pro forma. The attack was already getting a green light from somewhere.

I don't think anyone serious will be talking about North Korea, really a non-issue in comparison.

No one wants to hear how the Unabomber "feels threatened" as it suffers yet another psychotic breakdown.

Trump's base appears to be fracking over his sudden course reversal, which he wants us to see as evidence of "flexibility".  Is that it, or did some straw just break the back of some camel?

Unabomber City is feeling desperate and weak, its grip on power slipping away.  Will this rerun of the attack on Iraq help rally the people?  I doubt it.  But then many livelihoods depend on keeping these wars going.

Addressing domestic issues just looks too scary I guess, especially to the chicken hawks.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Projects and Complications

The Portland Peace Program is ramping up around developments in Syria. Youtube is predictably skeptical that 2017 is super different from 2013. They showed Trump the DC version and he's rightly pissed. Hollywood is maybe not finished with its version. I know DC has dismissed Russia's take, of an exploded Jihadist munitions factory, but then here in Portland we routinely dismiss DC.  So it's complicated.

When at Princeton, I had Firestone library and world newspapers coming in every day, but hardly in real time. My access to information has improved considerably since the 1970s, as I hoped it would. As the idea of hypertext gained traction, thanks to Ted Nelson and his Computer Lib / Dream Machines (hearkening back to the MEMEX, which Ted knew about), and as CERN put real muscle behind the dream, the shape of things to come became clear.

In GM's heyday, they were introducing the Freeways of Tomorrow at World Expos. The age of the motor car, internal combustion, of abundant oil, was upon us.  In my generation, the "information superhighway" was the dream, freeways (the "I-system") now taken for granted.  Actually, with more roads than we can really afford to repave, "taken for granted" is by now an overstatement; those days are gone too.

On Facebook, I'm looking at China's plans for the Silk Road, an ancient set of overland routes connecting the Far East to points west, on into Europe.  Istanbul has been a gateway city in that regard.  I'm glad to see the Trucker Exchange Program taking shape.  The Chinese Peace Corps (akin to Capitalism's Invisible Army in serving to tell a story) is getting the job done.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Spring Appears!

Four Freedoms

We got this message in Meeting this morning, from someone usually reluctant to channel (we don't usually use that word, it's not a seance): spring has sprung, rejoice (paraphrase). I've certainly noticed a burst of activity, including in terms of my own megabytes per hour upload rate.  Meaning: in the last forty-eight hours or so, I've added about eight Youtubes comprising much of the new playlist: Synergetics 101.

Glenn and I took the maxi taxi to Silverton yesterday, April Fool's Day, "maxi taxi" being a nickname for Razz's successor in my driveway, good story.

Gus Frederick was leading a workshop on digital scanning at Seven Brides Brewery, a place I'd gladly visit again.

The Norman Rockwell display of Four Freedoms, gigantic wall posters, was worth the price of admission, a figure of speech, as there was no admission charge, nor even a fee for Gus's fantastic workshop, a presentation by Northwest History Network (NHN).

Gus knows his stuff and makes it all look so easy. He was using Photoshop with an Epson scanner, high end enough for a from-above light source, for scanning slides or negatives, either color or monochrome.  He demonstrated using other technologies too.  That's a workshop worthy of its own journal entry.

At Quakers this morning, we celebrated April birthdays. I stood to wish my mother Happy Birthday, in keeping with what others were doing, celebrating birthdays of folks not actually in the room. Many people here know her.  She hopes to be in Portland by May.  Joe Snyder has a new grandchild, born on the March-April cusp.

Diane Hollister was in Iran forty years ago, as a Lewis & Clark student. That's one of our local colleges, considered top notch. She stayed with a non-English-speaking family for nine months. When her Farsi failed, they'd resort to French.

She was just back from a second trip, with a lot of perspective, from having been away for a couple generations (lets say generation = twenty years). A large gathering of curious Friends assembled, after social hour.

Bob Barker, a meeting member, whom Diane knew from as long ago as the first trip, was a part of her group this time. The Barkers, like the Urners, have spent a lot of time outside the US.

Towards the end, we talked a lot about traffic in Tehran and driving habits. Diane had a fun video, POV the front seat of a van in the downtown, with people walking every which way. That's a standard topic when cultures discuss one another.  Driving customs vary widely around the world.

I wasn't expecting this presentation, having missed it in the bulletin, and didn't say anything from my back row position.  I'm sometimes quite talkative about the Trucker Exchange Program that would put Americans in the Stans on a civilian basis, earning credit from a (reconstructed?) university.

Something along those lines.  I want experienced truckers to see more of the world if they want to.  The program could take off within a global company perhaps, or several.  I'd think more universities might get involved.

Long ago, as a teenager, I went through Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan with my parents, on home leave from the Philippines (dad was with USAID and entitled to this family trip back home).  That was not the same year we went through Kabul in route to Tashkent.

I was later in Cairo (my parents had moved) when the Shah was kicked out and taken in by Egyptian president Sadat as an asylum seeker.  I wandered the streets of Cairo freely.

The next time I visited, I'd make more friends, assuming I've got my timeline straight.

I've been doing some Facebook messaging with David Koski through a lot of this (not during Meeting for Worship of course, I always silence my phone or turn it off). Given the volume of Synergetics-related Youtubes going out from my PWS (personal workspace, or studio), I sometimes need to do some quick fact checking.

I did get up Mt. Tabor (a local hill, a butte) once or twice in the last week.  That's what I should do next.  Walking is a form of meditation after all, or can be. There's a flight of steps I go up and down, one with a non-zero second derivative, meaning the steps get steeper as one gets towards the top.

Diane's Presentation on Iran

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

FEMA Loves You

From my angle, this was a short-lived media campaign on Facebook with a thought-provoking premise: that both the heroin epidemic sweeping the nation, and the purge of voter rolls, ala Florida but bigger, might constitute national emergencies to which a response was in order.

We saw what actually happened when New Orleans went under: a lot of disbelief in DC that anything was expected of them right away, as these were mostly poor folks with homes underwater, literally, and therefore of little net worth.

FEMA had some trailers built in a hurry, with formaldehyde issues, and moved on to Rita, a little better organized (learn by doing). Food Not Bombs was on the scene as well, managing logistics from a van (I wasn't there, Melody went later).

The idea that Uncle Sam (US) might develop public programs for drug abusers is just distopian science fiction from the point of view of those hoping to lower the population. We have schools of thought, tracing back through Eugenics (the movement), to Galton and so on, always looking for excuses to dispose of people, accelerating their downfall.

These schools have a lot of hands on a lot of controls and should not be dismissed as fringe cults or sociopaths-in-treatment.

Admittedly, the Euro concept of Sanatorium has gone through many iterations. We also have strong grooves around sending people to camps to either punish them or have them brainwashed (rehabilitated) most likely both, so "FEMA camp" is already a nightmarish meme in distopian scenarios.  That's two strikes against the whole idea:

(1) government should let more people die faster and

(2) we're afraid of government because of how we've been treated in the past.

In other words, we don't have a lot of precedent for a secular institution successfully bettering the lives of people in need.  That's not something we know a lot about.  We know a lot more about enslavement and control, getting people to do stuff, so-called work.  Healing people of their drug addiction is not really a part of our repertoire.

Anyway, back to earth, I was glad to see CBS News taking up the subject and zippering together the debate about insured healthcare, the many plans, and the hitherto missing detail about whether any provision for rehabilitation and drug treatment might be in the works, for the nation's most desperate.

That was last week sometime.  Mostly I've given up on the media as incapable of connecting the dots.

As for the voter purge, I find it beyond believable that such jiggering occurred, given Florida. Also, given tightening control over the media and less diversity in coverage, I could see why something just barely making the radar in Bush vs. Gore would fail to register all together in Trump vs. Clinton.

The Amy Goodman cartoon makes a lot of sense:  those in control of the narrative are not about to surrender it to outsiders who steer the conversation in different directions.

"A discussion of voter suppression right when we're having outbreaks of ethnic violence, heightened awareness of the legacy of a sorry past, just feels like it might get unmanageable so let's keep that on the shelf for now." Not sure to whom I should attribute that quote.

Anyway, FEMA is not about to take over the voting process and put it through extreme vetting, with help from the NSA.

If we want it to be super-secure, we all need to be more educated about encryption.  That means appreciating Edgar Allen Poe more, in my book.

His detective novels helped us all learn about "bread crumbs" though we'd had "treasure maps" before.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pacific Pivot

Cascadian Concept

William Irwin Thompson, mentioned on the above (not glossy) magazine cover, has written extensively on the Pacific Shift.

In our Silicon Forest region, that means more connections within the Pacific Rim economy, which includes parts of Russia, as well as Japan, China and Southeast Asia. The increasing political closeness of Russia, much in the news, has its benefits.

I know some of the billionaire cabals are hoping to increase tensions between the two hemispheres, as that's where the money is from their angle (endless war).

Out here on the Pacific Rim, we have different billionaire cabals with their own agendas.

The "commemorative ruble" below is of course a joke (see latest issue of Mercury), and is a measure of how not concerned we are about the emerging pacifist economy.

Commemorative Ruble

Sunday, March 26, 2017

N8V American

Ghost Church

The Indian Wars are cranking up again, with the Yanqui drive to nail down the borders once and for all. Reclassifying Latinos, from Hispanic to Native American, is not exactly what's going on, as many Pueblo are happy with "Pueblo" and don't need to care what's put on the check boxes.

The US president's visit to the tomb of Andrew Jackson was a signal to the General Custer types to become more militant about reporting when indigenous folk might be migrating in violation of Ranger rules. Incarceration is the big industry, next to human trafficking.  Bounty hunters keep queuing at Information, asking when and where to saddle up.

I've been suggesting our Third Party (we could call it that) get advisers among the Born Free (or Free Born) of South Africa, those emerging from a post-Apartheid zone. A spirit of "not waiting for the government to do it" should warm the hearts of church-going citizens, eager to return social services to the pastor class.  Does your Meeting get hip hop yet?

Quakers were never fans of the Indian Wars, preferring to do business among equals and profit all around. They were already heavy into negotiations with the locals when the Indian Wars were declared, and briefly pressed into service afterwards, as minions in charge of Boarding Schools. AFSC got an earful that year in Philadelphia, when I was a corporate delegate from NPYM.

I just got off the phone with Maureen Long. She's a part of the extended Methodist community around Portland and so of course knows Pat, who thought I'd be female when we met, based on my name Kirby (she's a she). I'll join one of their Wednesday feedings at Ghost Church (what I call it) in Sunnyside, when Maureen gets over her "case of the time zones" (she's recently back from west Thailand, visiting a son).

My Third Party, just revving its engines (no candidates yet, more like a record label) cares a lot about voting technology, wants a lot more openness, a lot like the California's Pirate Party, a natural ally.

We care all year around about polling and voting infrastructure and agitate to let US public schools feature said technology as a part of what students learn about and understand. Where are the museums about Vote Tech?

All the more reason to keep it open source.

Quakers tend to use consensus in Business Meeting however that only works when clerks have done sufficient homework ahead of time to smooth a path ahead for whatever minutes.  The process is time-consuming and we call ourselves Friends for a reason. Come role play and discover your own talents.

That being said, among strangers or ships in the night, one expects a different system. Voting has its place, as does polling, and the infrastructure is progressing with leaps and bounds, given WiFi and encryption. Universities don't need to wait for governments to give their student bodies more practice.

Closed source elections with no audit trails have far less legitimacy, and contribute to the Banana Republic quotient, now skyrocketing in North America.

Our Third Party gains an edge simply by pointing to the sullied reputations of the colluding parties, which have aided and abetted, not to mention covered up, the dirty tricks in some cases.  With nothing to lose, we have everything to gain.

Sure, universities here in North America might have some stake in more transparent elections, but don't they depend on the largess of Congress in many districts? How eager is Congress to invite more transparency in the electoral process I wonder?  Do we see any signs of dawning awareness yet?

South Africa, home of Chappie and Die Antwoord is more liberal about sharing the bash shell with more ethnic groups, through Shuttleworth Foundation tuXLabs and so on. North Americans still suffer under the tyranny of TI.

I focus on these more liberal policies in my recent Is Code School the New High School?, which looks at all these connections in more detail.

On another topic, just to clarify: "Project Truckistan" is about more open borders for truck drivers, not just in terms of fewer mandatory check stops along the lanes, but in terms of getting to exchange truck routes more readily.

Get good in Ukraine and South Africa both. Give labor (work-study people) the freedom to move, not just their pseudo-human corporate employers. Cross-trained truckers might also serve as tour guides, two revolving door careers.

True, not everyone drives on the same side of the road, nor in all weather conditions. I was not suggesting dispatching drivers purely randomly was I?  Transcripts matter.

The trucking issue comes up around truck routes in the Americas as well.  How long must trucks sit in line waiting at borders or weigh stations?  People tend to favor a policy of keeping the borders open between states in Lower48.  Other regions of the world would like more of that freedom too.

We may need big data to help us on the metrics, and universities like MIT, or that one in Austin. I've not put any Jupyter Notebooks out on that myself, with or without Bokeh. Perhaps the Google Earth team will show some leadership in this area?  We shall see.

Friday, March 24, 2017

No Immune System?

Excerpts from my postings to Facebook:

People expect so much from politicians. The institutions are what's broken though, starting with voting itself.

A federal contest to come up with the best open source not black box voting system with auditable / analyzable results, which the government would then adopt and own, not outsource, might help resurrect that "democracy" idea.

In the meantime, states need their own foreign policies and workarounds. DC is an obnoxious capital with no legitimacy at this point. Too many irregularities in the voting, per Palast etc.

Not talking about "fraudulent voters", talking about purging voter roles by the millions, Rove-style, thanks to deliberately sloppy matches.

Neither mainstream party wants to look at that (except Black Caucus) ergo USA is dead, long live USSA, the Imposter State.

I don't think it makes much sense to have a healthcare debate and exclude public health / CDC type epidemics such as Zika and Oxy.

Or the quality of food in government facilities, be those schools, prisons, hospitals or military.

Focusing purely on the nuclear family and how family physician type medicine will be provided is letting politicians off the hook in too many dimensions.

We need to see if there's any interest in public health.

My impression is the FDA is like in Idiocracy, helpless to protect Americans against the merchants of bad health.

Uncle Sam has no immune system?

Probably a 3rd party would do well if it focused very concertedly on the infrastructure of voting itself. Why don't public schools at least, have voting machines 24/7 that they get to work out with, come to understand?

Or is it that the public should not understand the vital infrastructure of democracy (exactly right, but our party could change that).

As campaign manager, I'd widely show the new Palast film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, about the Rove-style purge of some millions of voters in the build-up to the most recent presidential election, on the pretense that the algorithms were protecting against "double voting", somehow a common practice in a population hard pressed to vote once in most cases. 

This magic trick, like the one in Florida in Bush vs Gore, likely swung the election, but no the Russians are to blame (we'd mock that "look the other way" campaign, to distinguish ourselves from Dems).

We'd probably also talk about Apartheid a lot and advertise our friendly ties with South Africa, home of Die Antwoord (a campaign needs music).