Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Brainiac

Where is the brain?  In the head of course.

However, the meaning of a word is not a "thing in a place"; the meaning of "brain" is far from fixed or constant.

The myths that swirl together with science (gnosis) move "brain" (its meaning) along a trajectory, creating an arc in semantic space.  In this mix:  computers, the cloud, a "singularity" (in some myths).  Meme soup.  Alphabet soup.  Google.

I'm listening to Ray Kurzweil chatting with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I'm glad Ray is more in the utopian than distopian lineage, more like Bucky in that regard.

The reality of the cloud is helping people appreciate what used to be known as the noosphere, zeitgeist or world spirit, ala Schopenhauer and such writers.

Poetry anticipates the future because language is a computation with weighted variables (the weights shift).  Music anticipates how the melody might go.  Thomas Paine.  Prophecy.

Ray portrays humanoids as trapped in their own skulls for the last two million years.  I'd suggest that reading and mass publishing created a proto-cloud well before "outward electronics" sped it up.  Scholarship has benefited from these exponential curves.  MEMEX.

I say "outward electronics" to distinguish our hand-held devices and supercomputers from "inward electronics": not designed by humanoids, but helping to comprise them.  Part of the mix.

The inward electronics joins together through "language" (another word of shifting meaning) to create the "meme soup" of culture.

Then outward electronics, following Moore's Law, came along to speed up the thinking, to harness more brain power in collective endeavors.

Our power to self organize is what's increasing.  We know we have the technical wherewithal to improve living standards (end world hunger), however we lack the Will (the ability to mobilize collectively).  Humanity is semi-paralyzed, retarded.

What about the collective unconscious of the Jungians and such?  A lot of that is accessible to awareness once the swirl is seen for what it is:  a collective computation.  We might as well just talk about "the computer" as in Synergetics.  A solo cogito, chugging along, does not a railway system make.

The mix of cellular and silicon circuits makes for a living pattern, call it a "spiritual machine" if you wish (you may not wish), living in the sense of changing and adapting, or "computing" in other words.  We're there now, however our language may not be.  Software is thinking, laying new track, switching.

Ray thinks the software is converging to a better tomorrow.  With acceleration comes less tolerance for puzzle pieces not fitting, or, alternatively, a shorter lag time before fitting them in.  AI is proving helpful, because of RI (real intelligence) making use of it.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Grizzly Man (movie review)

I borrowed this DVD from Glenn several days ago.  As it wasn't a rental, it went to the back of the queue.  I'd not realized Werner Herzog was the director, a pleasant surprise.  He's a masterful filmmaker, and narrator (storyteller).

The film doesn't beat around the bush about what happened to Timothy and his friend Anne, more mysterious, as to why she stayed.  She wasn't as suicidal around bears as Timothy, who tempted fate for a living.

The angle Herzog picks up on is not Timothy's controversial lifestyle (waltzing with bears), but his talents and technique as a filmmaker.  Herzog treats him respectfully as a peer.

In showing the many takes of the same scene, one might mock or denigrate a brave soul.  As a fellow director and filmmaker, Werner leads a lay audience to water, and some really beautiful music (the DVD comes with a full length feature on scoring the audio track, thumbs up).

Given almost eight billion people, and bears a true rarity, in relative terms, having at least one man daffy and lonely enough to go trans in this way, is a statistical possibility (as we see).

The locals, who've been keeping track for thousands of years, understand that taboos are for a reason.  Tempting a fate is a great way to someday meet said fate.  Treadwell is saying "bring it on" to this Bear World.

His life turns into a grim tale and sends a warning to children, but without a retraction of the loving attitude.  We're free to love foxes and guard their habitat.  Whether that means chasing them or sleeping with them is another matter.

Domestication has worked with some species.  Humans have found some understanding with other wild creatures.  These relationships are not static.  We could do more to cultivate our relationships with fellow travelers.  Religions have their work cut out, not just the sciences.

Werner is contrasting a hippie clown aspect with a more serious cowboy, in sampling the many talking heads from Timothy's scenario.  Treadwell was part of an ecosystem in the human world just as surely, with children a big part of it.

In watching Herzog's sampling of Treadwell's unedited hundred or more hours, I was grateful for the deep dive into a loner's life, and struck by the young age of the intended audience.  Timothy was creating raw material for documentaries he'd share with children.

In meeting his fate so fatefully, he upped the rating, from G to something closer to R.  Herzog wisely keeps us from having to relive the full ordeal, but does manage to communicate horror.  The grizzly story turns grisly.  And children still love the foxes and bears -- except the mean ones.

Mom & dad and my sis went to a private farm north of Lesotho where the caretaker developer allowed lion cubs to roam freely, including among the guests.  He'd cage them or move them out when old enough to do serious damage.

Mom doesn't know how that scenario turned out.  Carol, Julie and Jack only briefly overlapped it.  A lion cub jumped up on their table, in their presence, knocking it over, and ate their tuna fish sandwiches.  That's what tourists were paying for I guess.

Monday, July 25, 2016


From an Art Colony

I used the term "EPCOT West" in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, some years ago, to refer to Portland's Dignity Village, a collection of ad hoc shelters near the airport, adjacent to a prison.  Experimental Prototype of Tomorrow was the original meaning of EPCOT, if anyone remembers, before lawyers changed it to the more meaningless Epcot, which means nothing at all.

Those of us who've flown around the world some number of times are likely used to flying over vast "shanty towns", often referred to as "informal neighborhoods" by city planners.  US Americans define themselves in terms of not seeing these in North America, the US being "the wealthiest nation on Earth".

Actually "planning" informal neighborhoods seems oxymoronic to practitioners in the field, as they're by definition "unplanned".  The typical urban response is to criminalize "tent cities" in terms of what ordinances they violate.  However the numbers keep growing and the jails are full.

However, criminalization and warehousing people for profit does attract a form of capitalism.  Warehoused people with no human rights may be used as forced labor.  The institution of slavery is thereby restored, but in not calling it that, those implementing the system get their euphemisms and their cheap goods.

When actually feeding and providing a modicum of health care to the warehoused collateral becomes cost prohibitive, a typical final solution is to have the work camp become a death camp of sorts.  Crematoria are established.  Those removed from tent cities in urban areas are bused or trucked, or made to walk, to these out-of-sight out-of-mind prison camps in desolate areas.

Planning for tent cities, providing infrastructure for watching films, learning languages, engaging in work / study programs, is more the Global U approach, where all housing is student / faculty housing, regardless of grade.

This more humanitarian approach is deemed "liberal" in that it relies much less on the mass criminalization of poverty and death camps.  Whether one may afford to be "liberal" depends a lot on one's theory of economics.  The more Malthusian one's outlook, the less liberalism looks affordable.

The DC think tanks and Beltway consultancies are not especially liberal in outlook.  Their recipe for dealing with collateral is to assume miserable conditions in the tent cities will fuel resentment and a wish to fight back with physical violence.

Given the Beltway controls all the best weapons, this solution works well.  The public sides with "law and order" against "insurgents" and, if it shares the Malthusian view, cheers from the sidelines as the Apache helicopters, remotely controlled drones or whatever, strafe and bomb the shanty town denizens.  We've seen these policies carried out both in Panama and in Gaza.

The DC consultancies see "overpopulation" not "militarism" as the biggest issue to deal with.  In fact "militarism" and "overpopulation" fit hand in glove.

The Global U curriculum, relatively liberal, sees higher living standards as the primary and most effective form of birth control and family planning.

DC sees "higher living standards" as unaffordable and prefers to stockpile weapons for its preferred method of "adult abortion" (aka "homicide") i.e. the willful termination of human scenarios well after birth.

Here in Cascadia, relatively less militarized, the liberals have yet to completely embrace the death camps solution.  A lingering Global U curriculum, less Malthusian in outlook, still struggles to assert itself, gaining the ire of the Beltway, which resents the delays.

The Occupy Movement, e.g. OPDX in Portland, was all about setting up intentional tent cities wherein self-governance could be tried.  People spontaneously assumed their roles, choosing arm bands to signify in what capacity they might be consulted.  I worked in Food Services as one of several engaged in Logistics.

The liberals think if they gain experience mixing high technology (e.g. cellphone apps) with a more minimalist lifestyle -- which still includes watching movies -- then the Global U might continue to counter DC's militarism and implement its work / study.

:: informal neighborhood in Indonesia, by John Taylor ::

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rotten Apples

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Chicken Littles

One might think those into exploring the logical foundations of mathematics would have their interest piqued by the suggestion of a different way to model multiplication of two or three numbers.

We learn from childhood that a "square" number is like 2 x 2 whereas 2 x 2 x 2 is a "cubic" number.  But who dictated the two rods of length two needed to be at 90 degrees?

Suppose we placed them at 60 degrees, might that be an area of 4 as well?  Could 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 be shown with three rods emanating as if from the corner of a regular tetrahedron instead?  These are not hard questions to think about actually.

by Hollister (Hop) David
(with attribution to me)

R. Buckminster Fuller, with something like 45 honorary doctorates (meaning these institutions gave him a free degree to help prove its worth to others, as a standard-setter), considered the efficacy of measuring in tetravolumes one of the most important mathematical discoveries of his career.

He built up a whole philosophy, as mature as any one person might fashion in a lifetime, around the tetrahedron, at the center of his metaphysics but also of his numeric and geometric computations.  The domes came out of that work.

Did any philosophers pick up on these cues?  Or did they cop out by saying Fuller was an architect and it's the geodesic dome he'll be remembered for, not the mathematics?  Then maybe the next step is to attack his originality in that area, and use the word "charlatan" a lot.

I picked up on the core philosophy, as did a very few others.  We've made some further discoveries since.  That's exciting for us.  But is "a very few" enough?

Given how much of the American Dream for a better tomorrow was wound up in Fuller's brand of global utopianism (cite Disney World's EPCOT's Spaceship Earth), doesn't it appear these deliberately short attention spans, and a willingness to parrot "the authorities" might have other, deeper motives?

Lowering expectations for the future seems more in line with what the Great Tragedy Directors have in store for Spaceship Earth.  They've already scripted out their version of an End Times, and anything even remotely hopeful and utopian represents a disruption of their timeline.

How long do we keep postponing Armageddon?  There's some impatience to get on with it.

Philosophers with a longer view of tomorrow get shoved to the sidelines by the distopian schools.

To check whether your own school is distopian, more a part of the problem than a part of the solution, find out if any of Fuller's Synergetics is ever excerpted and discussed.  Is it on any syllabus whatsoever?

Consider jumping to a different school, with a stronger philosophy department, if not.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Don't Belong Anywhere (movie review)

About Chantel Ackerman

I'd not heard of Chantel until about a week ago, when I watched one of her documentaries.

Not all her films are documentaries.  She'll weave stories from thin air as well, with made-up characters played by actors.

The really long camera takes, which give one time to reflect and listen to one's own mental chatter, define another end of the spectrum from the fast-cut, more heavy-handed storytelling of most filmmaking.

The camera just watches and listens, while the viewer has to look and hear, more like in real life. However that doesn't mean the frames are haphazard.  She's extremely meticulous.

Her style reminds me of both Iron Ministry and Songs from the North.

I arrived late to Wanderers as a consequence of finishing this week's viewing homework.

The conversation was truly wandering, with lots of chatter about crypto-currencies.

However the main theme was again gemstones, thanks to Steve Mastin (who brought some), with Glenn Stockton chiming in.

Gem Stones

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Last Man on the Moon (movie review)


Friend Denny phoned from PDX, just back from Shanghai, with the Republican Convention high on his list of events to follow.  That helped tip my scales away from heading down to the code school for Flying Circus this evening, my usual Monday evening activity.

I did work on #CodeCastle though, most significantly jumping onto a Pyret listserv to provide some overview, CC UMC (United Methodists).

Why not work on my class for tomorrow (teaching code) and study the newly rented documentaries, plus tune in the unfolding political show via various media (radio, TV and Twitter for starters).

People of my generation, who lived through the Apollo moon landings (I was in Rome for Apollo 11), will see the long road behind us in the high tech ruins of Cape Canaveral.

The Saturn V launch pad is now a relic. The mixture of futurism with decaying past, makes for a surreal combination.

People of my ethnicity, strongly discouraged from weapons training, were pretty much barred from gaining experience with the kinds of aircraft considered a precursor to NASA training.

I knew from an early age I'd never be accepted in that inner circle, but I was an avid tracker and backer of the space program nonetheless, and am still to this day.  Besides, I wore glasses.  Test pilots have perfect vision.

Eugene Cernan was maybe not as good on the bombing range as some of his friends, but at least he got to experience the G forces and show onlookers he had the right stuff.  He went in and out of San Diego on aircraft carriers.  I wasn't clear where all these bombs got dropped.  Hawaii maybe.

I hope someday those willing to train to work aboard spacecraft will find a civilian pathway open to them.  Actually we've reached that point already.  I often catch myself wishing for what has already come true.

The fact that humans were able to reach the Moon and return safely bolstered confidence in the species and ushered in new flavors of futurism, including the positive-accentuating utopianism of Bucky Fuller, which I glommed onto.

Critical Path is a lot about Apollo, including in the mythological sense of escaping superstition and nightmares.  So many disciplines, working together!  Apollo also seemed an exercise in socialism, in the sense of people co-owning public assets to accomplish something together, not that capitalism didn't play a role.

Friday, July 15, 2016

NPYM Interest Group


Fortunately, Mary Klein, the Western Friend editor, was well prepared to lead this group, which I helped brainstorm along with Friends in other Yearly Meetings.

She even brought a projector (not that Whitworth University doesn't have those -- this is a well-endowed campus).

Meetings that own their own buildings, and have Wifi, have discovered that renters, people using the building as an event center, appreciate the facility.

NPYM meetings tend to have websites.  Do they have current slates on-line?  Western Friend encourages a public, open policy.  Each Yearly and Monthly Meeting sets its own policies.  I've been encouraging NPYM to always share an-up-to date slate.

Quakerism is a form of role-playing.  How can we role play if we don't know who's doing what?  The whole process breaks down.

Also, given my background of working with nonprofits, I'm thinking at least the meeting's "officers" (i.e. clerks) should be publicly available.

Olympia may have the most open listserv, in terms of freely sharing unfiltered content.  My question is why don't most if not all committees have listservs?

Wouldn't Peace and Social Concerns benefit from more communications, not less?  What are the concerns?  Listservs are self-archiving, helping build organizational memory.

Western Friend has one of the most sophisticated websites and staffs on the Quaker cloud, archiving back issues of what used to be called Friends Bulletin.

FGC also has its trademarked Quaker Cloud, which a lot of meetings use.

I've found QuakerQuaker to be an interesting and usable website.  People create their own accounts and publish interleaving content, enabling discussion.

Dorene: accessibility, in terms of readability of websites, is an important feature.  The NPYM Drupal site is somewhat responsive, could be worse.  Try it.  It's sure hard to search though.

Friends worry about confidentiality (rightly so) and get paranoid (many meanings attached), like a lot of people.  Many are reluctant to share contact information publicly, with spam being maybe the least of their worries?

The Monthly Meeting developed in horse and buggy days, when more pedestrians could make it to meeting one day a week at most.  We had other business to attend to on other days.  Given electronic communications, the ability to get work done telepathically (OK "remotely") suggests "clerking" gravitate to include "moderating the listserv" for whatever committee.

At issue is the practice of Quakerism itself.  What is it?   Continuing revelation...


Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Last Colony (movie review)


My thanks to the filmmaker for so many excellent interviews and really helping me come up to speed on the pending issue of the hour.  Thumbs up on the music video as well.

In my book, Puerto Rico is the perfect issue to be discussing in 2016.  The narrative needs another swift kick in the rear, as the fourth plebiscite of 2012 was highly inconclusive and another was promised for this year (that's where the movie leaves us).

The needed "consensus" for statehood was not reached in 2012 and the Obama administration committed funds to a fifth run at the same question.
To resolve the dispute, President Obama proposed Federal support for a plebiscite under Federal auspices. The law requires that the options be able to resolve the status question, and the U.S. Justice Department must confirm that the options presented are possible under the Constitution, laws, and policies of the United States. The Governor of Puerto Rico has committed to hold the referendum by 2016.  [ source ][ emphasis added]
So when is the next plebiscite scheduled?  I'm having trouble Googling up a specific date.  November 8?  November 6?  What will the ballot look like?

The 2012 ballot was some kind of flow chart, with the majority saying "no we don't like the way it is" but then a great many stopped there, failing to choose from the set of next steps offered.  Of those choosing, 61% chose statehood.  Counting the "protest vote" of not choosing, the percentage of the total shrinks to about 45%.

As the movie makes clear, Puerto Ricans don't like how they're treated by the colonialists in DC (also not a state) and the unincorporated territory has recently (in the last couple weeks) made history by defaulting on paying a full amount owed to bond holders.  No US state or territory has done that since Arkansas did the 1930s.

Bond insurance kicked in this time, helping creditors, and proving buying such insurance is meaningful.  The myopic financial markets are maybe only too happy to turn a blind eye of malign neglect at this point, but candidates for public office need to speak to the big issues of our day.  Plus we want proof that they do their homework and are willing to show leadership by educating their fellow Americans along the way.

How would Donald Trump suggest the island reorganize?  What better time to get advice from the Bankruptcy King?  If only Trump University were still around, right?  There's no question of "a wall" here right, in terms of barriers to statehood?

And Hillary is a policy wonk, by her own admission, so does she have any advice for these 3.x million US citizens?  The standard thing is to encourage finding a resolution to the issue.  That's been going on for over a century.

Bernie:  Puerto Rico pays more in income taxes than your state of Vermont they tell me, yet have effectively no voice in the US Congress, how can this be?  Is this about imperial laziness?  Is Puerto Rico too big to fail?  What would failure look like?

The problems are thorny, twisted, legalistic, exactly the kind of issue more people should chew on.

If we can't manage to think through what to do in Puerto Rico, what makes us think we should be "pivoting" to "deal with" China, or "spreading democracy" in... actually I don't know if that's on anyone's agenda anymore, least of all in the "USSA" itself, what with all the secret supranational trade agreements under negotiation and so on.  Is the process of desovereignization about 99% complete?

Puerto Rico has all the hallmarks of a great puzzle in need of many eyeballs.  It's an open source project par excellence.  If politicians have any ability to improve lives and make things better, here's a golden opportunity to show leadership and provide a road map.  Or should we turn the matter over to engineers?

Probably "statehood, yes or no" would be the most straightforward.  Figuring out how to get smartphones enabled with a voting app, one token per Facebook or Google authentication, might make sense.  Is anyone working on it?

You could still vote in a polling place of course, but not both, not multiple times on multiple phones.  Might we use a blockchain somehow?  When we say people "vote with their wallet" maybe that would be literally true, as ballots show up like bitcoin, in your ballot wallet.

Mainlanders need to psychologically prepare themselves for a 51st state of the Union.  Lets at least get a preview of the new US flag.  Even if statehood doesn't happen (is becoming incorporated versus unincorporated the next step?), at least we'll be thinking about it as a real possibility, which is more than we can say of the average mainlander today.

Puerto Rico holds up a mirror and offers many lessons of history.  Given how little the average voter knows of history today, I think the issue of Puerto Rico's future is just the right issue to catalyze informed and informing debate.  Enough stalling already.  Lets get this show on the road.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Back in Lobbyland


I consider myself a lobbyist in the conventional sense of advocating for specific (special) interests, or "evangelizing" as some say.

My target audience:  politically aware individuals, some with more voting power than others, meaning some are legislators representing entire congressional districts, or whatever.

I'm not actually driving to Salem everyday and buttonholing representatives.

I've had Salem jobs, including right across from the state legislature, as a paid consultant, but that was then and this is now.

Mostly I just use social media to communicate my not-secret agenda.

PD = Professional Development.  PERS = employees on the public system payroll.

These days I'm hoping if Measure 97 passes (was IP28 -- a petition that makes it to the ballot becomes a measure) those paying more will have correspondingly greater input in how the funds get allocated.  Continuing with teaching to the usual tests may not be such a priority in the next chapter.

The needs of Silicon Forest companies for qualified role players in the future, is part of what's behind this agenda, akin to what Chambers of Commerce have concerned themselves with (curricula geared to the needs of industry and commerce).

And what if Measure 97 doesn't pass?  I've hinted about a Plan B in my twitter feed.  We'll still have the same needs for professional development and innovation.