Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pycon 2013

:: from Portland to Pycon ::

I dipped into basket case status getting here, having sent the Razr M through the wash (insured, a $99 deductible / slap).  On top of that, I miscalculated the Max time and stood in the wrong line at Alaska.

If I'd gone to a kiosk (no line) and paid for one bag, then I could have jumped to the front in pre-paid bag.  Not knowing that, or figuring it out, I queued behind the languid folks for Hawaii, getting my hit of adrenaline (clock ticking).

Do I live longer for these steroidal moments, brought on by attacks of stupidity?  We shall see.

What to do with the extra time?  Beaches.  Happy Hour.  Just snacks, beers.

The day before I ate a lot, both literally and metaphorically, in a busy engaging day.  Sam is cutting ties with Flextegrity, setting it more adrift, so Trevor and I descended, like vultures.  Sam was liberally sharing, letting go of a certain bicycle parked for three years.

We visited his storage unit.

The exercise felt Food Not Bombs like, rescuing soon-to-be compost.  Apropos of that, Adam phoned mid-exercise, needing the meetinghouse key for FNB work.

Speaking of storage units, Trevor showed Sam and I to a secret location (cinematic) where he's stashed more tons of Fuller-related material, with many thanks to Joe Moore.

Some of Dawn's closest friends and I walked the labyrinth at Unity, joining in her memory.  Alexia is house sitting in a neighboring state.

Then came a meetup and catching up with an FNB friend, followed by Wanderers.

The next day was my flight on Alaska.  Getting some last minute Alpo for Sarah contributed to my lateness.

The consequences of missing my plane were not that great in this case.  Having WiFi at PDX let me keep working pretty much the whole time.

Holden had flown down the day before.  I found him with Brian Curtin, Jack Diederich, other luminaries, having beers in the lobby.

We hobnobbed for awhile.  Brian has been working with our Code of Conduct, applicable at Pycons.  Did the Ukraine PyCon of 2012 really attract 4K attenders?  Some of us were skeptical.

The talk on abolishing the traditional 9-12 high school structure, didn't make the cut unfortunately.  My lightning talk did make the cut:  Python for AdultsMaria Litvin is here, has participated on one of the panels.  This was our first Education Summit.

Lots of interesting people.  I finally got to meet Michel Paul (picture below), with whom I've been conversing on edu-sig for quite awhile.

Our keynote speaker was Walter Bender, founder of SugarLabs, which produces free software for the One Laptop per Child program's flagship computer, the XO.  Walter knows Ed Cherlin obviously.

Henrique was here with at least seven others from Brazil (Steve thinks more like fifteen, which he's happy about, his trip to Brazil a career capper as PSF chairman in some ways -- Van is doing that job now).

Python is gathering momentum in South America, as evidenced by the increasing number of Pycons.  Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela all have active Python users.

IMG_20130314_101440

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wanderers 2013.3.6

Don invited me to turn my AFSC adventure into a formal talk.  I took awhile to respond, and Micheal Sunanda, not often around, had signaled his willingness as well, so we split the platform.  He actually left the building during most of my talk, whereas I puttered in the kitchenette, making coffee, during a lot of his, also dove into emails.

What I emailed was my exultant sense for having Elizabeth Furse join us for the AFSC part of the meeting.  She's worked with AFSC, which I hadn't known, out of Seattle, and for sure knows Arthur Dye, a former director there.  Elizabeth had visited Wanderers recently, thanks also to Don, and impressed everyone with her command of US / NavAm relationships (I use "NavAm" as an abbreviation for Native American, with plenty of resonance left over to mean an airline ala PanAm, connecting airstrips within NavAm bases and/or connected sovereignties -- been doin' it for years).

Eddy and I had just been to the corporation meeting (annual), both in the same capacity:  as NPYM representatives.  Yes, we have a lot of acronyms going.  I've blogged about some of these before:  WQM, FUM, EFI, FGC, GWYF, QUNO... FCNL.

Ironically, what Elizabeth had to teach me today was that Quakers were perhaps at the forefront of that "kill the Indian to save the man" movement that was so counter to NavAm interests.  A major portion of Friday night at Friends Center was about this genocidal campaign.  We reviewed slides of the concentration camp boarding schools where the young natives were coralled brainwashed, forced into thinking like Anglo-Euros, much to their detriment in terms of continuing the family lineage and traditions.  These cultures continue to feel decimated and healing is going to take awhile.  Yet perhaps a corner has been turned, that's the good news.

So I see the need to dig more deeply, into Quaker works in this area.  Having work camps together still is an important tool of diplomacy from a Quaker viewpoint.  My parents were camp leaders as late as the 1970s, wherein Palestinians, Israelis, and a smattering of cosmopolitans from American University of Beirut, all hunkered down to build a swimming pool in solid rock.  This was before the general erosion of an older intelligence that kept a relative peace in many areas where conditions have since deteriorated.  This was in Ramallah, not far from Jerusalem.

These camps were entirely voluntary however.  In the WWII chapter, they were less so, as conscientious objectors were assigned to them willy nilly.  I know it sounds like I'm rambling but we're intersecting Doug Strain's scenario, and his associations with AFSC are quite significant, his associations with Linus Pauling at Cal Tech even more so.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Prison State

During the breakout session at the AFSC meeting, people dispersed to various rooms to learn about programs.  I went to the presentation on some of the prison work that goes on.

The US has an immature understanding of humans and likes to make everything a morality play with goodies and baddies.  A lot of this thinking was inherited from England, a likewise under-developed civilization of mediocre collective IQ.  Organized religion has a lot to do with it.

The US incarcerates a huge number of people, a growing profit center for many public and private organizations.

Prisoners = free or almost free labor, and compared to the boredom of doing nothing much, many prisoners would prefer to be doing something skillful.  Making furniture is a chief activity.  The government itself thrives on slave labor in this way.

Calling it "slave labor" is of course loaded.  The double standards involved warrant the term, some would say.

Identifying products suitable for boycott because made by prison labor was not a strategy suggested by staff.  Prisoners often prefer work to idleness and would be disappointed to lose their manufacturing jobs.  Not that they necessarily would, as the USG and state governments are a reliable customer.

Chinese consumers should educate themselves on what products for sale in China might be made by US prisoners.  Whether to boycott or not is an individual choice.

I think school children, if sitting in desks made by prisoners, should be made aware of that fact.  The study of prisons and prison systems is a great 8th grade topic.  At Overseas School of Rome, we had Sociology as a subject in middle school.  Fred Craden was my teacher.  I don't think most US based schools offer sociology am I right?

Our staff presenters were from New York and Michigan respectively.