Saturday, January 17, 2015

Interstate Message Traffic


A common misperception even among Hawthorne District aka Asylum District cognoscenti, is that the "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" prototype, outsourced by Salem, is the seminary at the top of the street, a ways up Mt. Tabor.

Not so.  The old hospital campus no longer exits but think "food carts near Jolly Roger" on 12th to get closer.  Think Washington High School (where Pauling went), already retired from public school service in my day, and used by artists.

Anyway, I finally met a guy from there, the seminary, just here for two weeks to finish up some doctorate of divinity studies.  He's based in Texas and his family gets antsy when he travels.  I understand.  If the family might go too... I was thinking of Brazil with my daughters...  Not everyone enjoys having their cage rattled the way traveling does do.

He was already very experienced as a world traveler, doing childrens relief work.  We agreed that Austin is like a bridge city between Portland and the rest of Texas.  Everyone seems to think that.  Topology is weird.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New on Twitter: @npym_it

:: @npym_it twitter account launches ::

The first tweet is a link to the job description i.e. how the IT Committee serves NPYM Meetings and Annual Session. This is a new committee as of October, 2014.

I'm the Technology Clerk with Alberta Hill the Facilitation Clerk (when we have meetings, she clerks them).

We mostly work with development teams and interested parties on things like (a) registering and organizing for Annual Session (b) Directory Services.  We may also poll member meetings (e.g. invite them to participate in surveys) and consult with them regarding appropriate technologies for conducting their business.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Inching Closer


We may be getting closer to that Guantanamo "theme park" memorializing the USA's descent as a sovereign power under the globalizing influence of Pentagon-style capitalism aka "cowardly capitalism" based on "cost plus" defense contracts.

The mercenary industry became a boom sector, organized around the Goon Belt (WDC).  Neocons ruled.  America suffered a huge loss in respect as the rest of the world watched aghast at its wild antics.

Lots of giant corporations were never fans of the Neocons however and getting funding for such a theme park need not be a huge problem, especially if it's established as a non-profit.

The Cubans should not have to worry about coughing up the dough.  They weren't the cause of the problem and needn't pay the tab for the cleanup, which will take decades.

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Imitation Machine (movie review)

I recommend coming at this as a theater play with historical content, not as some "docu-drama" or historical re-enactment.  That way you needn't worry about "manga-fication" (cartoonification), the process whereby subtle tensions become much more in your face and melodramatic, anything but subtle.  Like with Wittgenstein and that fire poker.  He almost killed Popper right?

Like in real life a Rumsfeld might dictate some acerbic memo, a "snowflake" in Pentagon-speak, asserting his primacy in the chain of command over Condi.  In the "manga-fied" movie version, he gives her a punch across the jaw and she responds by dancing with nun-chucks on the ceiling, in slow motion, in a leather rain coat.

Taking a real example from the movie: I doubt a fist fight broke out over withholding strategic life-saving information after Enigma was cracked, or that the Really Stupid General was really so stupid as to take a crowbar to a Turing Machine named "Christopher" and almost lose the whole war single handedly for His Majesty.

I was glad to see the Soviets getting sympathetic treatment from MI-6, as Churchill was indeed worth bypassing; you can tell I'm not a huge fan, Human Smoke reader that I be.

I wasn't privy to any of this salacious storytelling or gossip around Alan i.e. Bletchley Park was no Hogwarts for me.  They didn't celebrate that history yet.  I grew up in the Cold War when such things were still secret.

Public key photography would have to wait for the power of GCHQ to wane against New Zealand's (long story, PGP-related).  I started to catch up thanks to Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

Great acting, by all the Turings!

For a minute there I thought Scarlett Johansson (aka "Lucy") had come back in time in her "know everything chair" to help Alan with his puzzle.  But no, Keira Knightly is actually a different person, duh.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

NPYM IT Comm: Tracking Issues

We don't have a JIRA instance or others issues tracker, though it's on the drawing boards to get one as a service, so I'm noting some tasks here.

(a)  Outreach & Visitation is following a number of Friends, whom we might call "isolated" except "Isolated Friend" is a term reserved to a type of member.  Friends (RSoF) as implemented within NPYM has a membership aspect baked in.  But this new column is independent of membership and could be coded as FollowedBy with OVS as a property of that relationship.  Except that's graph database talk.  These days, we're in SQL.

(b)  continue engaging #M3 re gender attributes we might want to add.  The current schema appears stripped of any gender or ethnicity information.  That may be intentional, or M3 may, at the corporate level, suffer from an attention deficit, a common phenomenon among corporate persons.  M3 is a flagship Monthly Meeting (MM) albeit not the only one in our region.  Its choosing to drop gender, and our regional schema following suit, should get some notice as a landmark decision, versus happening almost as a sleight of hand when no one is looking.

I've got the ball rolling on both (a) and (b) by the end of 2014, but see many steps will be needed before either issue is closed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Birdman (movie review)


I got to Columbia River Brewery (CRB) early and checked in via Swarm, leaving a record in my Facebook profile.

Hollywood Theater, a nonprofit with a loyal membership, including friends of mine, was doing a brisk business this day after Christmas, 2014.  Matt and I were there to see BirdmanI saw Wild on Christmas Day, also showing here, but I saw it at Lloyd Center.

We both admired Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice and I saw a lot of continuity in the character.  A raving psychotic who should be supervised, or at least not be given openable windows, is allowed to pursue a dubious career in theater, at least in his paranoid / locked-up own mind.

His daughter does her best with this guy but is showing a lot of birdman tendencies herself.  Both achieve some notoriety, with her registers being more cyber-spatial (Cyberia-focused); she's following Twitter and all that.  Having seen Wild the day before, this young one's character reminded me of Cheryl's.

Matt and I had mostly critical things to say about the movie, but really we were talking about the whole melodramatic / theatrical culture.

I'm not exactly a quietist, as a Quaker, but on the quietist-to-ranter spectrum, I'm more a quietist than this theatrical bunch, prone to expletives, like the Nixonian White House.  I'm certainly known to rant sometimes, giving vent to invective.

But then, to be fair, this cast needed to survive on Broadway and pump it up incredibly, every night, for eager audiences, any one of which might contain a powerful media critic of enormous influence.  That's a lot of stress.  Show business drives people nuts, and likewise attracts nuts to its swirling core (cite The Zero Theorem -- nutty and fun).

We decided to hit Laurelwood Pub, adjacent Rheinlander, which used to occupy the CRB location nearer the theater, only to find it was packed to the gills.  We checked the pub I often go to after Hollywood, but that was packed too (not a work or school night).  CRB was comfortably busy with just cleared booths.  I got War Elephant Double IPA and a sandwich, Matthew a salad.

Birdman is over the top intentionally I'm sure and with enough psychoanalysis we could get something spinning around the secret psychic powers (shades of Stalker).  I'm going to leave that to other critics.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Test Piloting a QR-code







with special thanks to David Chandler, Leslie Hickcox, and to Portland Mennonites

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hobbit Economics

"everything is awesome!" (so much gold!)

So King Thorin has a serious headache with all that gold, inherited from the nasty dragon.  If he just lets it out the door then pretty soon it won't be that scarce.  We saw how the villagers treated it, but how long would that last?  It would have to be meted out, and you would need to be an Einstein, or Milton Friedman, to figure out the velocity of money issues.  How fast would be the military build-up?  Would inflation lead to food riots, with wheel barrows of gold barely buying a zucchini?

What are orc children like?  Did we see a hatchery in a back episode?  Do Mr. & Mrs. Orc ever party, and do they form nuclear families at all?  They don't appear to have much use for money in other words, or the finer things in life.  That's probably why Smaug's Mountain has to be "strategic" in some battle ground, as a bunch of gold is not attractive enough.

Indeed, what can gold buy you?  The Elves have what they need so remain aloof.  No HDTV, no iPhones... there's precious little money can buy back then, and one gets tired of mere jewelry and gold bricks used for street pavement.  So what?  What's so "wealthy" about streets paved with gold when you get right down to it?  Slippery, impractical.  Back to Thorin's nightmare.

One can almost read Gandalf's lips there at the end when he says Bilbo is a terrible liar.  We all know he's got the ring and Gandalf understands the Shire is the best place for it as the saga continues, with Mordor on its military build-up, post face-off with the elvyn chyk (tail tuck time).  We know that in the audience as well, that Gandalf is just biding his time, plus the book readers among us even better understand how the ring is increasing Bilbo's willingness to lie, never mind how bald facedly i.e. badly.

The first of the three Hobbit films got me claustrophobic and I'm reminded by last night's Solstice banter that the book is that way too.  Now that I've seen the Snowden documentary, I can't help but make the pun "snowed in" and draw the parallel of getting stuck in some hotel room in Hong Kong for N hours.  Lets just start on some adventure already!  People should let up on Assange.  In general, lets be a lot less Mordor-like, less Orc-like, if we really think the Hobbits won or deserved to.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where's the Fair? (movie review)

Where's the Fair? asks why the USA no longer seems to care about the World's Fair or Expo concept, having withdrawn from the international body that plans them while producing only lackluster pavilions and then only when goaded by foreign governments to step up to the plate.

Talking heads propose various theories as to why the State and/or Commerce Department have dropped the ball, while the Freedom of Information Act begets a lot of heavily redacted documents.  No one seems to know for sure.

The film spends very little time on the Montreal dome of 1967, Buckminster Fuller's contribution, and mentions Kabul and Khrushchev not at all.  Minus the Bucky thread, perhaps too much of the narrative unravels?

Washington does not want to get trapped into doing another dome probably, while winning hearts and minds is an undertaking that city despairs of doing anymore, having alienated just about everyone. 

The confidence to spin truly hopeful visions of the future is not in the USIA's repertoire anymore, as there's no longer a USIA.

I learned quite a bit from this film.  I had no idea Spokane, Washington had hosted a World's Fair in the 1970s, or maybe I'd known that once and forgot.   Archival clips from some of the events were exciting.

Perhaps the USA is just too diverse to be represented by some out of touch State Department in any case.  Cascadia could have its own pavilion someday maybe?  GM did, in Shanghai in 2010, with its Chinese partner company.

Milan 2015 will be the site of the next Expo.  The documentary suggests the USA will not have a pavilion but from the perspective of December 2014, we do expect one.

:: rendering:  usa pavilion 2015 ::

Followup proposal:
A possible food candidate for the American Food Pavilion

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wisdom @ Work