Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bombs Away

WDC is doing what it does best again:  bombing.  There's always a cloak of "coalition members" (e.g. CNN) to keep our socio-paths in DC from seeming too Unabomberish, but I think that's a transparent rain coat at this point (apologies to Mark Allyn).  We know the Pentagon to be a bastion of mental illness and there's not much anyone can do about it, other than "sit back and eat pizza" (as I used to put it, back when bombing Belgrade was the cruise missile fiesta du jour, under Clinton).

However we should also move further west in our analysis, closer to The Heartland as it's called e.g. Ohio and Michigan, where you have many immigrants from the Middle East with strong views and extended families.  Atrocities by self-proclaimed ISIS members (or branded as such by media) trigger demonstrations in Detroit, which in turn make "bombs away" an acceptable policy, a cathartic revenge killing, characteristic of Christians who haven't turned the other cheek since the crucifixion.  Why should they?  No one else does, except maybe Buddhists sometimes.

The phenomenon of immigrants with an ax to grind is a standard pattern.  Organized crime was about to capitalize in Havana when Castro spearheaded a revolution, and Florida has ever since supported ostracizing Cuba, a policy the rest of the world pretty much ignores.  Many Syrians in the US have their own axes to grind e.g. with the Assad regime.  Their lobbyists become a source of white papers, just as refugees from Saddam's government were milked for justifications for invading Iraq.

Around AFSC there's this fixed view that the military is for those too mentally incapacitated to survive in a civilian ecosystem.  The gangland-mercenary lifestyle becomes an end in itself and killing sprees get you merit badges on your resume and/or colorful threads on your uniform / costume.  There's an esprit de corps, a camaraderie, that develops around bombing, both suicidally and otherwise.  Terrorism begets fraternalism, with token women as brothers.  ISIS and the Pentagon have much in common in that way:  both provide career opportunities for fratricidal morons.

Of course not everyone in the military is a rank idiot.  Starting wars is easy whereas getting them to wind down takes expertise and diplomacy.  The idiots all say war becomes necessary when diplomacy fails, but then outward war is by definition a failure, so it's eventually back to diplomacy again, this time perhaps more in earnest by people ready to try living as a civilians again, perhaps desperate to do so having tasted the no-win dead end that is war.  So we'll recruit a military person from time to time, as a war-stopper.  Quakers attract a cohort of ex-military in every generation who believe as Smedley Butler did:  that war is a racket.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quick Insert


Before racing down to People's Climate March, I was thinking to review El Topo (Jodorowsky directing, and acting), however I'm under some time pressure.  September 21 is one of those circle your calendar type days.

I'm also cramming on Category Theory for notation buffs, though I might stay on the humanities side and say "analogy" or "metaphor" in place of "functor" given similarities in meaning.

Talked to Chandler at meeting, wanna figure out which "island in the Willamette" he was yakking about.

Mt. Tabor is looking good.

For further viewing:
Type Theory Foundations
Category Theory by Tom LaGatta

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Anthology Books

DSCN8685
:: Third Eye from porch of Anthology Books ::

Glenn and I enjoyed Stan'wiches today.  From our point of view it's El Dobre, the Polish place, but that name might have confused the public.  Either way, the food has been excellent and we loved the meatloaf pizza this afternoon.

We were watching them repaint Headlandia, which I gather Nomad Crossing owns, along with Vapelandia down the street.  Third Eye is adjacent and is somewhat the grandaddy on the block.  Linus Pauling House:  directly across.

I imagined the Pauling House fascia boards in a Bhutanese style.  The Newar temple, where Lindsey trained, is around the corner.

The economy is shifting gears here given hemp is making a comeback, industrially, for fabric, as well as the medicinal brands.

Adjacent to Linus Pauling House:  Anthology Books.  Quite a collection.  I bought a first person narrative about adventures in the Himalayas, for $6.

Glenn and I went in and talked with Gary.  We're all looking forward to the Equinox coming up, which we'll celebrate on Friday the 19th, a little early.

DSCN8687

DSCF1889

Thursday, September 04, 2014

DjangoCon Talk


I'm in a talk being presented by a team from National Geographic.  Justin Quick, Ben Fonarov and Farhan Syed are the speakers.

Django is a part of their website ecosystem.  Their talk is based on their Django module activitysteams on Github, the open source repository.

An Activity Stream is like a series of comments, likes, or game actions on a target.

A semantics like "You favorited a photo" pertains, with an "actor / verb / target" grammar.

What's exciting to me is the Neo4j graph database being used by the Horizon service.

Horizon is their Node.js web socket service that takes snippets (like "likes") and stores them using Neo4j.

I've been thinking of a Quaker meeting management API based on activity streams, not realizing what wheels might not need reinventing.

"Make [actor] [position] vis-a-vis [committee] for [term]" would be the kind of semantics we need.  Example:  "Make Joe Shmoe clerk of Oversight for three years starting June, 2015."

Also:  "Show [actor] and [actor] are married under the care of [meeting] as of [date]." As I've pointed out on math-teach, said marriage might or might not be recognized by the state in which the meeting is situated (Quakers define marriage their own way, independently of their surroundings sometimes).

The team made the good point that browsers prefer interactivity to read-only web pages.  Given how I generally have comments turned off in these blogs, I'm going against the grain on that score.  These are on-line journals more than conventional blogs.

However, it's fairly easy to post a link to a blog post and frame it for comments elsewhere, such as on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quaker Village in a Box

Just add water... (smiley).

I'm mixing DemocracyLab memes with The Village (movie review) and coming up with this high tech "reality show" (reality, but shared in media) that comes with a software ecosystem and operating manuals, plus lots of DIY instructions for setting things up.

The community may not be autonomous or self sustaining in the larger sense, as we're all "solar surfers", but might still be somewhat remote and a place to restart in some ways, for some folks.

Yes, there's a bit of WestWorld in this vision (with Yul Brynner).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (movie review)

The plot here leverages the experience of every player of first person shooters:  you get so far into it, and then you die.  Reset, and again.  You play until you make it through, or give up (similar to our pedagogy at OST, in lieu of "grades").

Given there's no alternative "outside world" beyond the game (The Matrix is complete, a reality prison), Tom (named "Cage" with good reason) has his Ground Hog Day cut out for him.

Seeing Cruise and Murray and their co-stars (Emily Blunt as Rita, and Andie MacDowall also as Rita) as a double feature would be fun, as one gets two different worlds reflective of the kinds of acting each guy does.

Murry is quirky and whimsical whereas Cruise is darkly War of the Worlds and action oriented, highly kinetic.

Yet the similarities stand out too:  how to authenticate as a time traveler.  Blunt's Rita has "been there" and so has an added advantage vis-a-vis her looper partner.

Having Cruise go from shy and retreating to full on aggressive, with that same sense of partnership displayed by Peter Quill towards Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy), was a fun twist.

A needed ingredient is that sense of destiny aka fate that goes with heroism, a strong sense of making a big difference.  Once Cage develops confidence and survivability, along with his sense of destiny, he develops his heroic qualities within the loop, an eternal return.

The "mimics" which Cage and Rita get to fight have plenty of demonic power.  As a first person shooter, this game is definitely challenging.  Live, Die, Repeat is the other name they came up with for it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier (movie review)

One might imagine I felt drawn to Vivian as I share her obsession with "street photography" as they call it, though I more call it "National Geographic photography" when thinking about it to myself.

The controversy about her accent seems easily resolved:  you could call it "affected" as she went to France only later to discover her ancestral roots.  Adopting those roots and owning them was wise on many levels, including in the practical sense that upper middle class people still sucker to this day for that "European nanny" jazz (though these days the Philippines is the new Europe).  It pays to have a French accent when you're in the nanny business, and she had to learn hers late in life.

She had that kind of spy-like fly-on-the-wall existence that life behind a camera somewhat foments.  You get that distance, that "observer" mentality (to quote the est Training).  One is recording for posterity, spying as if for ETs, but really for the future, and it was just hugely fortuitous that John Maloof would acquire her property at auction to start, and do the requisite archeology.  He reminds people how fun it is to discover others, and that's just as viable a creative outlet as making a big show of oneself.  Reminds me of Trevor.

Indeed, he's being somewhat Vivianesque in playing the self effacing documentary maker.  People treat him with the respect of someone who's done some homework.  Vivian too, did a lot of homework, and came across as respect-worthy.  Her employers would have sensed that in wanting her to have parenting responsibilities vis-a-vis their own children.

Yes, developing film was messy, chemical, and a pain.  If you're a deeply private individual, as Vivian was, then piling up your negatives in good condition and putting them all in a time capsule, with some strategic letters, is not a bad strategy.   High risk, but at least doable.

Remember Bucky Fuller and his "chronofile":  to self document in that way added a dimension to his experiment "Guinea Pig B".

Vivian achieved her own kind of nirvana in morphing herself into one of the greatest street photographers in the age before we could just upload into the cloud.  Now I think she so resonates with people like me, the common garden variety camera buff, because we share the same fascination with street photography, and the technology to make it relatively painless.

Of course it helps that the pictures she took were really excellent.

As Linus Pauling said (paraphrase):  the secret to taking some really good pictures is to take a lot of them (as he said of "ideas").

This is a well-made documentary about an intriguing subject:  Mary Poppins meets Bridges of Madison County (OK, that's a stretch -- she doesn't meet anyone, but she does remind of Clint Eastwood).

Someone told me ahead of time she was "plain" and/or "homely" and if maybe that was why she had such a lonely life, the poor dear.  On the contrary, Vivian was photogenic and displayed a level of toughness that goes with the territory, if "street photography" is your game.

As for her supposed mental illness (yes, lots of paranoia, imagine today with Cyberia) and draconian child rearing techniques, lets remember this was spoiled upper middle class America and she was hired as a French nanny.

The role of the nanny was to be "bad cop" sometimes, giving parents a more "good cop" role, sparing them the need to use the rod (nanny was rod queen).

So sure, the little darlings had some PTSD under Mary Poppins, but who wouldn't under such a Scary Mary?  I'm sure Vivian could be intimidating when she needed to be but she didn't water board, lets be clear.  Hers was the wing of the OSS (or whatever spy service) that didn't torture, but maybe did stay out in the cold quite a bit.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Graph Databases

Ever since Pernilla Lind's talk at OSCON, the idea of graph databases has been rolling around in my brain.  A kind of NoSQL.  That's the place to fit in.

I don't mind accepting the pejorative connotations of "spaghetti monster" (play up the Italian food angle) or the links to the spoof deity that said monster comes with, in the Atheists' religion (some denominations).

That's all a plus in my box.

Neurons, like the Wild World Web (WWW), get messy, like Ms. Frizzle taught.  That's STEM.  So yeah, a graph database might be a terrible tangle, a Gordian Knot.

The beauty of it though, may be seen in its application to Quakerism and its processes.  Nominating puts forward names in a slate, which gets approved by Business Meeting, thereby filling all these positions.

Who served as what when, create a time slice, produce a resume:  these things a graph database will do, and reliably, if you feed it true information.

GIGO, right?

Just keep track of who on what clearness committee recommended X for membership to Oversight, and you'll have your reports at the end of the day.  Bring a smile to your clerking team's helpers, especially if your meeting has grown complicated and involuted over the years.

Minutes are just log files detailing the transactions that have gone on.

But of course the applications of such graphing engines are far broader than Quaker committee work or household diagramming, business analysis and so on.  The list goes on and on.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Dymaxion House


My plan is to visit some coffee shop with Wifi and my copy of Cosmic Fishing, to re-read whatever Ed Applewhite recounts about the Witchita, Kansas operation.

Then I'll flip through Bucky Works by J. Baldwin, which Ed liked a lot.

Trevor of Synchronofile has the most comprehensive Fuller archive within a thousand mile radius, so I'll likely be consulting him too, just to remind myself about some of the subplots.

Speaking of Applewhite, I think he would have been gratified to see this depiction of Fuller's E-module, with follow-up mention of David Koski's Youtubes on Facebook:

 
:: source ::