Thursday, June 30, 2011

Scattered Recollections

Early meeting with a new (to me) engineer, lots of stellar ideas. Much talk of the Tesla pump. Better sand blaster, better paint mixer. Economies will shelve a good invention, because more money is made with more breakable solutions. People coast on fragility quite a lot.

More news from the Gulf, where only now are some events from Katrina starting to wend their way through the courts. It all takes too long. Resistance to electronics?

Effective education allows people to synchronize more successfully, moving events ahead more smoothly. What might have taken lifetimes only takes a few years. The karma doesn't spread and fester as much, if justice is swift, or at least that's a Tantric theory (anyone wanna back me up on that?).

You'll have an ancient estuary go bad with a leak at 18 feet only, with just one contractor on tap to clean up. Why hurry? The pay is for time. Let the ecosystem die then, if it's profitable to let it. That's our reflex-conditioned society in a nutshell: programmed to externalize.

The problem with engineering today: they can't seem to design an economy that makes any sense. Rewards are for what everyone agrees are idiotic results. We so often pay ourselves, reward ourselves, to stay incompetent. A sorry truth.

Real solutions would threaten the status quo, and that's what people protect, because what's known feels somewhat secure, even if it's clearly sub-optimal (to put it mildly).

FNB went smoothly today, just Blue House on duty this evening. LW is working on a new song. Many of our party have headed to Rainbow Gathering. I sliced mushrooms, cut up kale, spinach, lettuce, onions, garlic... plenty of work for two people.

The meeting with Anna went well. We wound up at Common Ground just before closing, Steve Holden joining us. That was last night.

Just now: over to Holden's for a G&T. Reported on the shuffling in DC-based positions. I reaffirmed my sense that edu-sig is an important list in Python World.

Tara watched Contact again. Don has re-anchored closer to Blues Festival, as it's that time of year.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Source Code (movie review)

Comparisons with Groundhog Day are inevitable. The movie is about a brave hero who takes impressive action over and over. He develops a complete mastery over his scenario. 12 Monkeys also comes to mind.

There seem to be a lot of loose ends, but the movie isn't about solving mysteries so much as evoking them. Humans respond to their situations. The camera gives us an up close study.

The quasi omniscience of the ghostly camera gets played with in this film. The point of view goes back through a grate. When we look in the big reflecting ball, there's no evidence of an onlooker. As an audience, we're the uber-voyeurs.

That's how films usually work, but this one is somewhat playfully and self consciously about the viewpoint. We hop among minds and realities.

Philosophers should use these expensive special-effects-laden works to anchor some of their discussions. One gets more out of a story like this than from some "brain in a vat" story with no plot.

Why be so snobby? Discussion is enhanced by having these shared reference points.

Wittgenstein loved films, found them a cleansing shower after too much of his day job.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Open Source Law

I'm attending OS Bridge 2011. We just heard Portland's mayor, Sam Adams, give his keynote, which was about Portland's commitment to funding startups.

We have a few of those, according to the buzz. At least one is a part of the beltway economy, meaning it traffics in federal government contracts for data collation and intelligent visualizations.

Of course McMinnville has also been a part of such networks, going back through aviation more than computing.

Law is Code and We're Here to Open Source It was a good talk, by the Oregon Laws people. Making the law accessible is where the private sector is doing value added.

I asked if any legislature were using version control. Everyone laughed, already knowing lawyers are too stuck in the mud to be doing that yet.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sketchy Ethnography

:: exploring the Twin Cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul ::

City planning was a big part of the conversation while I was here, with some mention of my dad and our family's concern with Libya's future, some 50 years ago minus a few. The plans dad did were for about 50 years forward, so even if they were followed (as some say they were), they'd be about at their horizon limit by now. Other planners would have had to be doing some homework in the meantime.

Minneapolis has light rail to the airport, like PDX. It also goes to Mall of America, which I had no reason to visit on this trip. My trips were by gasoline powered vehicle, small convertible and van. We did some walking to the Museum of Imperial Russian Art, just off the nearby exit from I-35 W. That was an engrossing exhibit, about the marching towards populism known as Socialist Realism, a type of art Stalin favored, and that has since turned to self parody and self reflection, via Shepard Fairey and others (Dead Kennedys parodied Nazism, fast forward to South Park), verging on psychedelic in some schools of art.

I'm somewhat the emissary from Portland on Pirate Party business one might say, helping to organize some campaigns. David is thinking of taking on the 59ers, those who apply Miller's Rules to get the 59 stellates of the icosahedron, a classic topic by now, right up there with uniform polyhedra. The rules might come across as somewhat capricious to some, as they admit some rather goofy monsters into the mix. Couldn't we pare down? Koski's critique of the Archimedean honeycomb duals seemed to get at least steelpillow's attention (using an Internet alias -- some of you know who I mean). The Pirate Party courts Esozone, Subgenius etc. and so these geometrical esoterica are a natural fit. Speaking of which, we watched John Brawley's new video of his Icosahedron in a Grotto (Portland has a Grotto too).

What does a smart diplomat do in such circumstances? If you're a real pro, you go to a neighborhood block party in Tangletown (its doors you admire). Then you join Omar Ansari's Surly Brewery in its festivities, now that the law has been changed, permitting destination factory towns, more like Disneyland but with more alcohol. Oregon has these already and does a great job with them (witness Edgefield). And you tour a neighborhood hard hit by the tornado three weeks ago. There's an urban legend that hotter urban CBDs and surroundings repel tornadoes. Comforting, but no deterrent to the one that put down here recently, ripping through a swatch of residences.

Characteristically, there was no overt government presence, as emergency services to residents are increasingly verboten in Private America, as evidenced by Orlando's banning citizens sharing free food in public parks with hungry neighbors. Any such "short circuiting" of the money economy is regarded as "underground" even though it's the background from which the monied emerged.

The Pirate Party questions privatization, starting with Ludwig Wittgenstein's "theories", which Dr. Cornish calls a "no ownership" metaphysics. That might sound Communistic to some (more like a not-for-sale military), and indeed there's a sense in which Grunch of Giants (a party favorite) was more subversive than anything dreamed of since Karl Marx (says so right on the back). This is not a party that seeks majority status however. Perhaps thanks to Quaker influence, it stays deliberately tiny and elitist, and fields few candidates.

So yes, the weather is rather dramatic compared to Portland's. The tornado was severe, the lightning and thunder storms are higher powered. The heat spikes and the cold spikes are both more exaggerated. The roads take a real pounding in the winter, meaning many more potholes and wear and tear on motor vehicles. They gave up using DEQ-style emissions testing to keep the rolling stock on the newer side (more efficient) because falling-apart older cars simply fall apart under the stress of cold winters and all the sand and salt in the streets. The Elm trees have been dying. Perhaps Ginko, an older species, will do better in the Early Plasticene (or is it Late already?).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Back Office


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Control Rooms

In the early days of GST, I would write about the personal workspace (PWS), envisioned as a place for "value adding". I also called it an edit/recombine studio, which sounds like it might have something to do with DNA, but I was thinking more of audio and video editing. One takes in snippets, contributes one's own, then splices them together in new and interesting ways. Presto: value added.

The PWS sounds somewhat individualistic. In an endeavor to extend the "knowledge worker" economy, I was drawn to the Star Trek namespace for "away team". Post WW2, North American couples would wander in romantic, war-devastated Europe, as war-torn peoples desperately endeavored to heal. They would take slides using Kodak products and come home to show friends and family. My grandparents were of this generation. One could call it "intelligence gathering" but one didn't. One called it "tourism" (in some ways a prelude to "adventurism").

When I look at my leaky roof office, an amateurish add-on by previous owners, to a house originally placed here around 1905, I think of something more comic book, like with a bat pole for sliding down, and a spiral staircase. LCDs grip metal poles and may be swiveled and angled. Something like that. I'm previewing a Garden of Eden "smart house" of that Other Tomorrow, where people enjoy appreciably better living standards (I've dubbed it Columbia, and pitched it for television).

I was spieling with my edu-sig buddies today, outlining my use of Tractors in place of Turtles, hence Tractor Art. Rather than fight the socialist realism that suggests itself, ala Shepard Fairey, I say embrace it. Tractors rule. The etymology is interesting: to drag, which is obviously to plow, is to work (tractatus), to pull against friction. Gaining traction, as we say. Turtles have it a little easier, if sea turtles, though on land they're quite ungainly. Few of nature's creatures have managed amphibious lifestyles as well as humans with their aqualungs (scuba gear).

Where there's a tractor (worker) you've got to have a field (working environment). The Farm class defines little more than a 2-way array made of ASCII. We might speak of "ascii waves of grain" while conjuring a kind of minimalist xkcd meets Norman Rockwell kind of vista. The socialist realists, their cartoon avatar tractors, are sometimes of the CropCircle type (a subclass). These will plow a Mandelbrot Set left to their own devices. I've already logged that in some detail.

Tonight we looked at the Eddy Crouch / Carol Urner idea of an Area Program Committee for the Region (AFSC jabber). Pending a green light from staff, this looks likely to happen, somewhat imitating the Colorado model.

Focusing on August 6 as an annual Disarmament Day, which might extend to forswearing use of a forked tongue or some other such psychological weapon, if not into carrying guns or knives around town (some do so by permit, and besides knives have generic utility), would be one possible option, as a kind of test drive. The Regional Director helped organize the meeting and staff were present, as the Executive Committee was just starting to convene, meaning MVPs were in town. Was this more like Philadelphia, or just Portland being weird?

Christian Scientists built The Mapparium, the better to play World Game. But we all have Google Earth now. Actually, many of us do not, and libraries are under-served, but enough have used it to know what it feels like to access global data at medium bandwidth. Some of the in-out-around landscapes have a Salvador Dali flavor, with freeways drooping over cliffs, not properly filled in. Gifted engineers like Lew go in and add like the Multnomah Meetinghouse.

A "smart house" was supposed to be highly energy aware and had all kinds of self diagnostic electronics. This dream for the future was postponed for so long that people resigned themselves to "stupid houses" for the indefinite future. We now live in Stupid House World (SHW). We have little sense when it comes to energy. Our need for teacher education is dire.

Speaking of teacher education, Glenn is back to his studies of Megalithic Era cosmologies. The importance of Orion's Belt and the World Tree is evident across many times and cultures. The span of the solstices around the equator, the lunar and solar cycles, the snakes that would try to eat the sun (eclipses)... these mnemonics were all there and tightly organized. They knew of the ~26K year precessional cycle, about 1 degree every 72 years. These people weren't dummies. Idiocracy R Us.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Earth's Doom

:: final night ::
by Fsgregs