Saturday, September 26, 2015

WILPF Festivities


The gala events were in The Hague, NL, and Carol (my mom) got to go, as an official delegate this April, when the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom celebrated a hundred years of existence.

One hundred years ago, Grace De Graff -- who'd moved to Oregon from Illinois, to become a school teacher, administrator, and education planner -- was at the league's founding in The Hague, invited by Jane Addams herself.  Jane was on the lookout for strong manager women, still struggling to gain basic parity, in terms of rights, with men of privilege.

Today's events were the Portland, Oregon WILPF chapter's version of a Centennial, and I was invited to be one of the photographers (I believe technically I'm also a member of WILPF).

Carol Urner wrote a letter to the Oregon Reporter in the early 1960s, when I was pre-school aged, expressing fear and disappointment that this was all she had to look forward to:  a lifetime of fear under the threat of thermonuclear war.  That was no kind of world in which to bring up children, surely Russian moms agreed.  She'd wished so long for a family life, and having it end up a twisted science fiction nightmare in the wake of WWII was just heartbreaking and she wrote that to the newspaper.

Adult readers, other mothers especially, from all over town responded by telephone the next day, really wanting Carol to cheer up as "we can do something", and so a Portland women's movement was formed, to create some outcry about the standard assumption that we should all be buying and installing bomb shelters, with kids learning to duck and cover.

This movement later fed into WILPF, already active, and discovered by my mother and her friends as a perfect fit for their concerns.  Another famous WILPF member: Ava Helen Pauling, wife of the two time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling.

Carol has been at it ever since, though in Rome and the Philippines, Cairo and Bhutan, she back-burnered her focus on abolishing nuclear weapons.  I'm glad she did, as that way she did get a family life mostly free of obsessing about The Bomb, and the end of civilization as a place of playgrounds and carefree kids.  She got to study history a lot more (one of her passions) and work with women's self help projects, handicraft-based, and teach grade school, and write text books.

One of the women who took the torch from De Graff, not directly but in a reconstitution of Portland's WILPF, was Eleanor Davis, age 92.  She grew into WILPF through her mother, whom she recalls being active in the 1950s.  Iona Tanner, whom I remember from childhood, has chronicled some of the history, as did Mary Bolton later, in the form of scrap books and clippings.  There's a lot of organizational memory here, worth curating I should think.

My job, as chauffeur plus photographer was to take Carol, Eleanor and their equipment and literature, to the staging site, named Walk of the Heroines on the Portland State campus. This monument was designed specifically to memorialize women, and a great many names appear thereon, sometimes grouped by organization.

The WILPF section is two or three stones of names towards one end.  I'm not sure how the monument is managed as to whether more names might be added.  Either way, I'm glad for this monument, though I'm biased given mom's name is inscribed thereon, next to that of Mary Bolton.

Sonya Pinney, not named (she's self effacing) was at the event, as observant as ever, seems to me.  She'd been digging through the recent issue of Western Friend and seeing letters replying to my article (two long ones).  That had led her back to the article itself in the previous issue, so we had quite a bit to talk about, comparing notes.

Then I had to attend to my car, moving it and the wheel chair to a next terminus, where the march would end.

Yes, the women marched with their WILPF banners quite a few blocks.

For some of that time, I was talking with Joel, a Food Not Bomber connected with Unitarians, and grabbing a quick salad at Safeway, catching up with the women at the Eliot Center.

For those into digging, the slides embedded in the show above are but a sampling, with more in the Photostream.

I won't try narrating the entire program in Eliot Center, save to say I took Eleanor home a little early, as she'd had all the fun she could bear, as my wife Dawn was wont to say.  Also, I caught up with Elizabeth, Ben Linder's mom, just a little.

Carol, who made at least three speeches over the span of the program, was pretty exuberant the whole time, on not much sleep, and crashed upon our arrival home.

Given all the logistics involved, and how much time had gone into the planning, I'd say stress levels were somewhat high, but that we all worked together on pulling it off.   Part of my job was staying peripheral, an unobtrusive observer, similar to my role at Disarm Day.  My camera and I wandered off into the surrounding context, capturing a slice of Portland in the Fall of 2015.

Making Sarah-the-dog hold it for so long was an oversight on my part and I phoned Deke rather late in the game to please check up on her if in the neighborhood.  I didn't have a clear grasp of the script we were following and imagined getting home earlier.

Congratulations to WILPF on a hundred years of focused work.  May the next hundred be likewise invested in having the world become a more humane place.  Lets hope we get to look back on continued progress, with thanks to our heroines for showing a way forward.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Triangulation Puzzles

ToonTown

I invited Alan Potkin to address Wanderers at Pauling House tomorrow, about his work in the field of environmental impact.  We've had lots of "eco talks".

As Alan points out:  so often the institution charged with undertaking an environmental impact study has a vested interest in the outcome in that it not mess with already drafted plans, many jobs on the line. 

The dam building company is supposed to do PR about what could be lost?  The builder is supposed to pay for an objective review?  They'd hire Alan and get what they'd paid for; and more than they wanted to know.

Why isn't this design in itself seen as a problem?  We let the accused plead the Fifth.  If someone is going to be working against you and your perceived interests, then really have that be someone else.  One can only be one's own sparring partner up to a point.

How do we solve conflicts of interest?  Triangulation puzzles.

Not solving them begets corruption, we know that much.

Alan may have left town however; no reply to my voicemail.  Maybe next time.

Other loose ends, for the Home Management committee:  the 1000 megabit service is to be throttled back to just 40, and they'll throw in TV.

I'm also getting the local digital broadcasts in the public frequencies.

The main thing is to stay on fiber with its faster up as well as down speeds, for an affordable monrhly fee.  CenturyLink would actually charge me more to not get TV, same bandwidth!

"No" said their office, I must pay the installation I thought was thrown in, but she agreed to shave off the bill for the few months.

Lumping Car and House karma into one:  K&M had it fixed by this afternoon; indeed a new starter was needed.  Thanks to AAA for prompt towing.

City life can be pretty smooth, if you're able to pay for it.  Aye, there's the rub.

A cornucopia of animations from ToonTown:  that's what Portland Knowledge Lab was forecasting, in an earlier chapter.

I'd rented an office near Lucky Lab, but moved out when Internet proved too slow.

I'd been expecting Synergetics-infused blends "any day now" but that assumes art schools were priming the pump with lectures of the type I've not been slated to give (yet), nor much of anyone apparently.

So that economy stalls.  Malesh.  Think where we could have been by now.

Other parts of our economy keep barreling ahead.  Even the bare ToonTown image seems to stick.  That's because Portland does have relevant heritage.  I was building on an existing image.

We could be making more manga, not to mention anime.

But I'm thinking most especially of cartoons of a techie type i.e. in this age of nano-tech / ONAMI it's the area of STEM visualization (or STEAM) were we need most focus.

Just talking heads are not enough.

The genre of biology videos, showing the happenings with DNA...  the problem being the bottleneck identified by Pfizer:  everyone is silo-ing IP (intellectual property) when it's the Open Way that's known to work (the liberal arts model, not penalizing sharing information but on the contrary making it easier).

Roadblocks aside, we could be practicing with curriculum treating of topics that already are Open Source, such as file systems and how they work.

Lets see what I can find...


Yeah, I do like those "sped up" drawing whiteboards, with fun drawings. I've watched lots of those.  Too many talking heads, teacher's back turned, writing... Not how we want it on TV.

I'd also like more density, with cutaways to talk about hardware, the history of storage (per Von Neumann)... a much wider selection of topics, inter-connected.

How 'bout it? Better STEM TV anyone?

Lets build up the library, the videogrammatron, of short clips anyone might use.  High production values are maybe self defeating if locked entirely behind some IMAX screen.  Lets share the IP.

Plus I'm talking about quirky art in addition, affordable and within range of solo artists.

The mix would be reminiscent of Sesame Street in some collections.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Zardoz (movie review)

DSCF0266

This is an oldie but goldie I'd probably never have seen were it not for Alan Potkin of Brooklyn NY (by birth) becoming a lightning bolt in my reality, joining me at Horse Brass out of the blue (we set it up by cell) along my Belmont Street descent from Mt. Tabor (local hill), getting back in shape from a bout of ankle-itus.

Alan and I always have lots to talk about.  He's been in these blogs before.

Alan's wife, from France originally, is a distinguished scholar of that region of the world we think of as mostly Burma (Myanmar) these days, a region where ethnic strife continues, with world religions in the blender, mixing it up to make puree.

Alan shares her deep love for this region and goes there to pursue projects.  They married in our living room in Thimphu in the 1980s.

The fact that humans adapt to their world differently and then get flung together by fate, as is happening now in the EU, how the US was formed, has never been smooth, to say the least, though in isolated cases (e.g. specific marriages) it can work out well and serve as an inspiration to others.

Somehow the conversation turned to Zardoz, a film, and since we were but a block away from Movie Madness, I was eager to prove its "we have everything" reputation, and indeed it did, filed by Hollywood Director, John Boorman, who wrote, produced and directed it.

Boorman is of British heritage Alan wanted me to know (i.e. he didn't only work through Hollywood's institutions), continuing our conversation later, with Carol, at Maru, the Japanese restaurant (Alan was ecstatic about the squid).  We'd watched the DVD, sans Carol, in my living room.

Lets see if I can get this right after only one viewing (I'm tempted to watch it again but hey, I'm not making a living as a movie critic and have to keep moving).

Zed (Sean Connery), a badass outlander, gets angry and disillusioned when his preferred lifestyle, with the Pentagon (by analogy, not mentioned), is disrupted by the stupid Sky Head, which now wants them to try agriculture.  The Sky Head used to barf guns, telling them to go crazy.

Instead of shooting the Brutals and raping their women (maybe the best part), Zed now has to teach them to farm, which is tedious and without shooting.  However by this time he's literate himself and knows the stupid Sky Head is really like some Wizard of Oz instrument of control, and the civilization behind it is just using him.  So he resolves to stowaway and get revenge against higher management.  This he does.

Higher management, in the meantime, has existential worries of its own, having tricked itself into immortality without sex.  They're bored, plagued with a serious death wish.  Apathy and senility are claiming their people, or they become renegades, which is also not fun.

Real death without coming back simply as another copy of the same worn-out persona, the same goon, would be a blessing and Zed, and those like him, may be the answer to their prayers.

The film ends on an up note, as needs dovetail and sex is back in the picture.  Everyone seems to get what they wanted.

Alan has been checking up on the hydrological projects, i.e. the hydroelectric dams, in South / Southeast Asia that have occupied his attention for the past few decades.

His technique is to boost the efficacy of environmental impact statements by pushing the PDF format to its limit, including movies of the waterfalls and waterwheels, the cultures, that might be lost if engineering fails to optimize for tourism and local welfare.

Fortunately, in many cases, by using pipe-fed turbines, as in Bhutan, engineers may take advantage of drops in the topography, i.e. of gravity, without a massive dam.  The pipe fills to capacity, but is not sucking down or backing up the whole river and thereby develops sufficient pressure for at least a micro-hydel-style turbine.

Of course this solution is not always relevant.   I'm just glad people have been thinking outside the box a little.

The Feng-shui of optimal power generating, that takes everything into account, is something we would hope the Chinese would be good at, but engineering needs to advance in its understanding of itself too?  We shall see.  From my viewpoint, Alan has been encouraging the engineering to improve.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Autobiographical Interlude

libya
:: worldatlas ::

How did I get to be "kicked back" in the Steve Holden Chair of Computer Science (large recliner), here in the Blue House, Asylum District -- and what does that mean for humanity?

That sounds like a good B-movie opening; that's right we're low budget.  I'm not going to tell a story of how I amassed a great pile of drachmas (pesos, lira).

Jack, my dad, wanted to practice his profession with a blanker slate than a busy metro area like Portland could offer -- which makes sense given his PhD work was in regional planning for less developed nations (we could say "Third World").  By the end of the 1960s, after some good years in Portland, we ended up in Rome as a family, so he could easily commute to the "project site" otherwise known as Libya.

From Rome we moved to Florida, with a few weeks in Ramallah, Palestine that summer, working with AFSC (a Quaker NGO, founded by a philosophy professor and Friends).

I'd attended both Junior English School of Rome, and American Overseas School of Rome, which we called OSR (ASOR today).

Then after Bradenton, we moved to the Philippines, arriving near the start of martial law under Marcos and cronies. I attend the International School (IS) in Makati.  Dad worked for the UN, USAID, University of the Philippines.

At that point, having finished high school, I branched off on my own trajectory, but continued visiting "home base" as it moved around, after that, to Egypt (Cairo), Bangladesh (Dhaka), Bhutan (Thimphu) and Lesotho (Maseru) in that order.  My younger sister pursued higher education in Ohio and New Jersey, ending up in Greater LA.

My dad was killed in a car crash in South Africa (RSA) in October 2000, and my mom, who sustained injuries, and was not expected to live, divides her year between myself and my sister.  She's in good health at 86 and continues her peace activism.

Carol his a history degree from Ateneo de Manila, a Jesuit college.  She knows a lot about St. Francis and also his friend Jacopa, an admirer from a powerful family in Rome at that time (a period she intensely studied).

Now I'm back in Portland, Oregon, have been since 1985, having left for Rome after 2nd grade.

I was joined by Dawn Wicca, as a business partner and later as my wife, from the 1990s to 2007, when she died of breast cancer.  Dawn was survived by two daughters, one from her previous marriage.  She was from Ohio, then Florida, an activist in the women's self help movement, and a bookkeeper, specializing in non-profit accounting.

From the Philippines I moved to Princeton for four years of university then kicked around the east coast, living in Jersey City, DC, Brooklyn, Queens, Apple Valley NC, before returning to Portland, by way of Bangladesh.

Dad's PhD work in planning had been at the University of Chicago.  He was completing that work when I was born, in 1958.  Both parents were Quakers by then, pacifists by leaning and training.  That accounts for the AFSC work, which I continued in my own way.

Carol (mom) was active in Women's Strike for Peace, and later WILPF (Women's International League for Peace and Freedom).

Post Princeton, I continued my interest in "futurism", encouraged by the example of my dad (his big picture plans for Libya and other countries were about anticipating needs for the next fifty years or so). By high school I'd become an avid reader of science fiction, and movie goer.  These traits are reflected in my blogs.

My foci at Princeton were myriad, though with philosophy paramount.  The combination of futurism, philosophy and international affairs (which I studied through Woodrow Wilson school courses) remains an evident source of thematic content in my writing and life's work.

My Quaker background led me to such writers as Kenneth Boulding, and later Dawn and I joined a group called Quaker Economics led by Joe Havens.  Joe's wife Teresina was an avid student of Buddhism and we were also members of her group.

Dawn and her first daughter joined me on a trip to Bhutan during which we visited the temple to Tara at Tongsa, for which figure our second daughter was named.  She is now college aged.

If I start talking about my career I'll start sounding like I'm giving my resume.  I might as well just link to it instead.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Reality TV

Time to review some old themes and writings, with lotsa links to the "business mobile" (smartvan) concept.  The idea is we fan out in smartvans, not willy-nilly but as part of concerted World Game maneuvers and missions to assist refugees, other victims.  We're "dispatched" in other words, which implies a "control room" (any number) and "planning" in some scenes.  If you've watched a lot of movies, you have the innate ability to extrapolate and imagine a few episodes, at least in rough outline.

The TV angles are many, but lets talk about fundraising.  Our fans patch in to our web portal or we may even have a DVD show, like with seasons.  Broadcasters pick us up maybe.  We're like this weekly adventure series of brave / attractive people in a smartvan, part of a larger fleet, out there being helpful to our fellow humans in various dramatic ways that home viewers want a piece of.

Not only do the fans donate and get credit for so doing, they apply and train to jump in, to join us in the "MercyCorps style" swimming pool, this "model UN", this "scouting trip" or whatever.  A "terraforming corps"?  It's Planet Earth that I'm talking about.  We terraform more or less consciously, as a species, but either way, we make a big difference to the biosphere, that's obvious.

So yes, I'm turning Peace Corps / Americorps type work, jazzed up with smartvans and more high tech, into Reality TV that's self funding, with product placement another big part of it.  Who made the smartvans and just how smart are they?  I'm bringing it down to earth while projecting role models.

Crowning me a king of this genre (a producer) and paying me royally (not that much really -- I'm middle to business class) just adds momentum (inertia) to all this happening (helps make it real).

So what are the critics saying, and why haven't we done this already if it's such a good idea?  I've certainly been vocal enough about the possibilities.  Is it that "do gooder" programming is too "bleeding heart"?  Maybe only Catholics will watch our shows?  "If it bleeds it leads".  But then we're going to trouble spots and disasters in some shows, so if it's blood they're looking for...

I'd say we've been evolving the infrastructure.  The problem of dealing with micro-amount donations, nevertheless tracked (giving credit to donors who gave -- with anonymous mode options), is still not fully solved.  More banks may need to lend their expertise.

People aren't used to viewing a screen while contributing a few cents here, a few cents there (or call 'em bitcoins), optionally building their own record or profile, not to prove that they're rich so much as to show off their values and ability to "pick 'em" over time.  You're leaving a record of your intelligence, but in a way that's not yet habitual given insufficient infrastructure.

That's what a lot of philanthropy is a lot about (leaving a record of one's intelligence).  These Foundations have their own version of horse races.  But if you're a working stiff, you've not had time or leisure to invest in that "rich tycoon with zeal" mentality.  You don't get to look out over the world thinking "what shall I fund"?  Junk mail isn't working so well either, lets say.

That's where Coffee Shops Network comes in.  You buy your scone from Green Mountain and already get a sliver of GM's profit to toss in some bucket, like a chit or chad, say ten cents just to trivialize (in charitable casinos the amounts may be much higher).  Sipping your latte, you pop in your ten cents and flip up a game, say a Sudoku.

Given how fast and deft you are, you've won a whole dollar before it's over, and GM empowers you to be a "for the moment" shareholder / stakeholder (you bought their scone didn't you?) and to commit that dollar, your heroic skill having amplified value ten fold, to some worthy cause that these game machines know how to connect with.

Some favorite charity in Nepal just got another dollar.  Both you and GM have netted some good karma.  You feel accomplished.  You get a kick (energy boost) out of the experience.

That's a somewhat simplified and idealized rendering of the standard CSN transaction:  profit slice towards good will shared by company and procuring customer.

Accounting for "good will" on the books, as a way of building company reputation, is not at all a new idea.  What's new is the micro-management of donated amounts and the cutting in of customers as momentary shareholders, almost board members (in committing micro amounts of profit).

Some supermarkets do this at checkout, with coin jars for charities, but usually with no pledge to match, and with no way to give name credit to the donor.

But what if company X is ideologically opposed to funding Y or Z as "bad for the company's image"?  No problemo.  The range of options, the charities that might benefit, is known in advance and if the customer is truly hell bent on supporting Y or Z, just procure from a different outfit, free country.

Some of our shops host games that support some controversial causes, what can I say?  You may disapprove of your children's choices.  I'm not here to dictate who gets what.  I'm talking about wiring, an infrastructure, and a pleasant environment in which to help steer planetary affairs, with interesting reveries on the LCDs.

The CSN business model helps pave the way for doing the same things at home i.e in PWSs (personal workspaces), procuring investment credits, playing games, adding value.

People in their smartvans, getting support from others, in turn give support.  Channeling funds to the right places is a game we should all be in on, starting young.  We develop that ethic of paying attention to world problems.

Our cultivating a philanthropic mentality is not just for altruistic churchy "get me to heaven" reasons.  One simply acts more logically as a part of some solution when thinking globally.  We're less awkward, less wasteful, more attractive (including to ourselves) in proportion to our ability to solve problems as an intelligent life form, both individually and collectively (as team players).

"Doing good for real" makes for better television in other words, and better sex (I had to say that).   Hollywood stars learned these lessons long ago.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Wanderers 2015.9.8

Carol Addresses Wanderers

I got to the Pauling House early, given Carol (mom) is the presenter again.  I fumbled for keys, realizing I didn't have them, when Dick Pugh tried the door.  It was open.  Duh.  We made ourselves at home around the table.  Glenn, the official opener, arrived on time.

Dick was on the cell about the fire ball over Thailand last night.  Meteorite.  He's on it.  Don usually opens but he's got a meeting that will delay him until start time.  Hey, here he is!  I'm blogging in real time (I do that quite a bit, then polish up later).

Carol is talking about developments in the Countdown to Zero campaign, i.e. the abolitionist movement vis-a-vis WMSs (weapons of mass suicide).  She's been working in this area, mostly with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, for quite a number of years, certainly since 2000, when she moved back to the US from Lesotho, after the accident.

She opened by talking about the Iran Deal, inviting discussion.  She passed around some PR, a poster, on Keeping Space for Peace.

This year the campaign is delving into Cyberspace more, which one might suggest is only metaphorically space, or virtual space, but that's taking too narrow a view.

Cyberspace is supported physically by satellites, which are used not just to carry communications, but to support GPS, which means ballistics / guidance.

Carol suggested that Geeks have the most insight into cyber warfare, which triggered a discussion of the difference between Geeks and Nerds.  I gave my standard "a nerd is the larval form of geek" spiel (short), while Glenn reminded us of the etymology of "geek" (carnival origins).  I think of nerds as socially awkward, more the ugly duckling phase of the more socially adept swan.

Jon sees the parallels to Lysistrata, what the women are doing, in trying to drag the guys away from wartime fixations.  WILPF does include men however.

Not one single nuclear weapon has been destroyed, according to Ban Ki-Moon, according to Carol.  They've been stowed, or are being cannibalized to make new / improved weapons.  Dave DiNucci came up with an actual quote.

Dick Pugh insists that many physical warheads have indeed been destroyed, but the active materials stay active.  Dick thinks a lot of warhead material has been diluted in some cases, to be useful for reactors only.

Our little group is not uber-informed about all this, it seems to me, but that just goes to show why we need a college major of Weapons Inspector or something similar.  Decommissioning is going to require a lot of watch dogs and engineeers.  Such dogs do not just appear without grooming.

Carol went over the Marshall Islands lawsuit, against all powers who are supposed to be working on disarmament, according to existing treaties.  The Okinawa Nuclear Free Zone.

"How much does Japan contribute to the Countdown to Zero campaign?" a Wanderer asked.

I said I was looking forward to a simple ethical code wherein anyone harboring or nurturing the creation of nuke weapons was obviously a Dr. Evil type psychopath Baddie worthy of some 007 or 003 type take down by a Goodie state and/or agency.  Persian Intelligence is already looking forward to fighting Dr. Evils on a world scale.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Pedestrian Thinking

WDC could very easily charter a bunch of ships, or use its own Navy, to help alleviate the refugee situation, the result of a nation-state breakup and breakdown in zones opened to aerial bombing versus some Islamic State (hypothetical, not a UN nation at this moment in time).  Civilians, caught in this theater, are understandably scrambling to get out of the way.

However WDC and its Media Army (WMA = Washington's Media Army) are spinning it like this is all about the EU standing up for its principles.  The EU is now a proxy for Statue of Liberty rhetoric, as so far you don't see much evidence of open arms in North America.  However, I expect this will soon change, as the hypocrisy of thinking the Atlantic Ocean is a meaningful barrier, where refugees are concerned, was exposed long ago.  In the 21st Century, you can ferry them by jet.  Lets talk troop numbers and how many ferried so far.

The perception that the US exports its refugees from the civilian economy, as people not needing visas, to military bases around the world, such as in the Marshall Islands, is somewhat based in fact. The US itself is a nation of refugees, is closer to the bigger picture, including those hosting Fourth Reich meme viruses ("USA uber alles" nut cases abound in DC, where they might be properly looked after).  In founding this Federation, there was no way to close the doors to descendants of ancient Romans with imperialist reflexes, as filtered through Normans and Anglos -- long story.

The pedestrian thinking on display is that Syrian refugees can walk to Austria because these are connected landmasses, whereas we don't need to talk about Ohio or Michigan or Oregon each taking 20K, because there's an Atlantic Ocean in between, and whatever happens in the Holy Land stays in the Holy Land.  Obviously such thinking is not in touch with reality, which is why I'm expecting that bubble to pop soon.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Visiting M3

M3 or #M3 as a hashtag (one of many) is a less-used abbreviation for MMM.  Putting the 3 as a superscript, designating exponentiation, or atomic number, is more esoteric yet.  Multnomah Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends is a part of Willamette Quarterly Meeting which in turn is within the sphere of North Pacific Yearly Meeting.

That's as "high" as it gets for us.  NPYM has not yet joined any larger group, such as FGC (Friends General Conference).  I'd call Pendle Hill a Quaker "think tank".  QUNO and FWCC are more like satellites, though with the latter having a complicated structure of its own e.g. a Section of the Americas.

Yes, we jokingly refer to our Quaker Vatican in Philadelphia, but that's more for historical reasons than because of any currently operative administrative lines of control.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is its own non-profit, intricately interwoven with the Yearly Meetings through interlocking executive roles and Corporation representatives (my role in many blog posts), but is not directly "bossing" Quakers anywhere unless they're on staff.  It's a social action arm, a corporate face for PR and wholesome programming.

At North Pacific Yearly Meeting we nominate our delegates to these various Quaker organizations, such as Yearly Meeting Appointees (YMAs) to AFSC.  That's what I mean by "Corporation representative" in that I'd represent AFSC to the world, as one of its Corporation members, but also I'd represent NPYM to AFSC.

An example of an issue for us, during my tenure:  NPYM is less concerned with "member" as a title than some Yearly Meetings, and more concerned with participation.  Some of our most active participants, especially in AFSC work, are not officially members of our Religious Society, yet affiliate closely therewith.

So the AFSC's directive to send "its most experienced members" as Corporation members, to Philadelphia for annual meetings, was somewhat problematic in light of Yearly Meeting goals, as sometimes the most enthusiastic participant, most in need of relevant experience (and likely aware of that fact), would be an obvious nominee from our point of view, in addition to perhaps an old timer.

That was me in earlier chapters, new to AFSC Corporation meetings, though not to Philadelphia.  The old chicken:egg conundrum applies:  how to get experience when they only want those with experience already.  By now, as an old timer, I've had enough experience that asking for more seems greedy.  We have many more up and coming.  However, there's still plenty of room to participate, without re-upping for past roles.

How many delegates and who sets the number was another bone of contention.  AFSC has its own corporate bylaws, but how do these reconcile with Yearly Meetings at the Faith & Practice level? That's an ongoing discussion.  During my tenure, NPYM's policy was to pick up the tab on air travel and hotel, or leave it to the delegate to make those costs an in-kind donation.  Either way, in not making our delegates an expense to AFSC, we were hoping to keep the question of "how many" more in our court.

Then there's FCNL:  Friends Committee on National Legislation.  That entity is based in Washington DC and is all about communicating with legislative bodies i.e. the House and Senate.  That's right, it's a lobby.  AFSC is more like a government in exile, still in Philadelphia, a city that used to be the nation's capital and remains an important hub in the Quaker State.

Where the State Department might not see a way clear to hold talks with so-and-so, AFSC might, nevertheless.  Quakers make up their own minds in some dimensions, more like Christian Scientists in that way.

The practice of Quakerism does not dictate uniformity when it comes to viewpoint and some are temperamentally more prone to work "within the system" (FCNL's role) whereas others are more interested in challenging the status quo with even more efficient systems, doing more with less (the term "dymaxion" might apply).

Lets name the canonical representatives of these extremes of temperament.  How about "the law-abiding good doobies" versus "the rebels"?  Or maybe "squares" versus "drapes" (is slang OK)?

Quakerism caters to the full spectrum, from boat rocker to quietist, as do most religious lineages of longstanding.  They started out as rebels, subversives in the 1600s, but within a century had come out on top as law-abiding lawmakers, or at least bankers and builders, pivotal in England's industrialization.

Quakerism has been nurtured both by revolutionaries and pillars of the status quo, begetting new synergies in self-organization.

AFSC was established by a Quaker mystic and college professor, Rufus Jones, among others, and is about doing the work George Fox called "removing the occasion for wars" i.e. once those selling the prospect of war have captured the imagination, it's almost too late.  One needs to stay ahead of the curve.

Quakerism is anticipatory in seeing any attempt to oppress or starve (conquer) a people will lead to blow back and perhaps unforeseen consequences.  The opposite of freedom is feeling conquered and under the boot of some cast of authority figures.  Aren't there better ways to spread knowledge of the tools for good living (tractors and so on)?

Working "with the grain" of the human animal, for its well being, is the way to go if at all possible, as the long haul religions will often attest, corporations too.  "Food not Bombs" is the basic message.

So when many Anglos were hell bent on starving the German people, AFSC did its best to end that blockade.  Getting medical supplies to the people of Vietnam suffering aerial bombardment and other atrocities, was a priority in a later chapter.

Friends have filled the ground floor social hall since I started writing this, many of whom I don't recognize, others of whom I do of course.  There's Leslie Hickcox, Multnomah Meeting's FCNL representative.  We're meeting at Horse Brass later today, across the street from the local AFSC office.

I've been coming to this meetinghouse, off and on since the 1960s, before our family moved to Rome.  I also sometimes attend Bridge City Friends Meeting (also NPYM), or roam around, not wanting to get too "stuck in a rut" as my dad would say.  West Hills Friends Church?  Why not? Reedwood?  Sure thing.  And that's still just within Oregon in under thirty minutes by car, plus I skipped mentioning some worship groups and at least one more Quaker church.

In terms of role playing, I'm on the NPYM IT Committee these days, as one of its clerks, the one into Technology.  They call me the Technology Clerk.

Until recently one could say with confidence that NPYM was made up of Meetings, Preparative Meetings and Worship Groups, not Churches, Temples, Synagogues or Mosques.  The latter two seem pretty well branded, as Jewish and Islamic respectively, but then who's to say Quakerism can't spring up within other religions besides Buddhism and Christianity?  We might co-design such sects, not just wait for them to happen.  Hybrids beget exciting new breeds sometimes (i.e. lineages).

You'll see me wearing that Technology Clerk hat in some of these blog posts as well.  My term as NPYM YMA to AFSC ended October of last year (2014). I've been doing Quaker IT for almost a year now. Yes, it's a rotating position.  Our brand of Quakers likes to keep mixing it up, a way to fight off the rigor mortis that may attack the more frozenly hierarchical religions.

Across from AFSC

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Done Deal

OK, so done deal already, the news media are saying the same.  Given the vote in the Senate is to say nay to this not-a-treaty, the President may gainsay with a veto, with thirty-four needed to sustain that veto.  The Iran Deal goes through, checkmate.

NPR spelled that out in some detail in the last couple days, and by this morning a thirty-fourth supporter had been announced.  That meant Game Over in some dimension, but then politicians know how to keep a ball rolling.

We may shift our sense of suspense to some newer arena and stop pretending to care.

Also encouraging:  the words "air strike" were used with regard to a Syrian family, one of millions, fleeing a veritable Katrina of air strikes over Syria.  Their home was leveled, no doubt collateral damage.

Who has so much ordnance again?  Was that some Islamic State dropping bombs?  Pretty terrifying, those hits, with collateral damage lowering land values and quality of life for everyone on the receiving end.

Will the computers have each crater by serial number, to help with reparations?  No.  Remember the ordnance drop over Laos.  Napalm and all that.  Check the recent National Geographic issue about those craters.  The perps tend to stay anonymous, or try to, just following orders.

[ Note:  the news reports are not saying that product, Napalm, was used in Syria, just that aerial strikes tend to come from those controlling the air.  That would be physical airspace.  Controlling the media is another matter and requires spin and finesse. ]

The subways of Budapest are the new stadium in an unfolding New Orleans scale disaster, though more spread out.

Congrats to CBS on 53 years of half hour news broadcasting.

Humanitarian aid is not something governments are necessarily any good at.  NGOs will need to step in here shortly.  "Chinese Peace Corps" and all that.

Don't expect espresso-sipping cube farmers, corporate peasants, to come to the rescue of the latest "hurricane" victims.  Remember the Coalition has been waging a holy war in the region.  Old ethnic tensions flare up when push comes to shove.

Many Asians had a hard time adjusting to North America in the aftermath of the war in Indochina.  My NGO (the one I worked for), Center for Urban Education, had government contracts to work in refugee resettlement in the 1980s, which is when I moved back to Portland from the Atlantic coast (by way of Bangladesh) where I'd gone for higher education at Princeton.

Refugee resettlement is a source of social work with many ripple effects through small business and banking, as families do their best to recreate some semblance of what they have lost.  The Empire State, for example, has seen a lot of this kind of activity over the years.

Humans are on the move, suffering denial of service attacks where they live.  Nation-states act as prison guards.  The prison-state system is about denying humans their birthright:  access to a whole planet.  Refugees the world over are those falling through the cracks as "undocumented", as if it's their fault no one cares enough to create some documents for them.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ugly Philosophy

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP) Ludwig Wittgenstein draws a strong link between aesthetics and ethics.  You'll find a similar association among engineers, with Ludwig on the edge of being one of those, perhaps in a software engineering sense.

Build something completely apropos for its task and beautiful it will be, because functionality screams purpose and meaning.  But then the purpose itself might be ugly, such as an instrument of torture, or a guillotine say -- very functional.

Applewhite used to talk about science journalists getting away "with impunity" with their uglifications of philosophy, such as in that book A Most Beautiful Molecule, about BuckyBalls, by an author mostly ignorant of Synergetics (Bucky's magnum opus).

A similar ugliness pervades the art world, wherein the Concentric Hierarchy is scarcely mentioned, despite its being a set of paradigm relationships, a grammar for spatial thinking.

Imagine a computer science curriculum that only taught FORTRAN and never LISP.  Popko's Divided Spheres helps compensate for what's missing in many a curriculum.

What we're seeing in this chapter is less a weakness in STEM than in STEAM, where the A adds Anthropology, more encompassing than Art.  Anthropology embraces psychology, the study of the human mind.

Advertisers have learned to play on insecurities and adapted their technology to politics, with PR firms now running campaigns and managing inter-governmental relations.  But has Anthropology been taken seriously in other dimensions?  Yes and no.

The notion that Anthropology is always about studying "those other people" reeks of ugly philosophy, yet is a somewhat omnipresent attitude.

Solution:  art schools have historically helped to provide an avant-garde, but mainly as networking tools among the truly creative.  Here in Portland, I've had ample access to classrooms when it comes to sharing with people under twenty (yes, I'm fingerprinted and everything), reserving my andragogy (teaching of adults) to more on-line settings.

That mix may be about to change, as I access more workspaces ("maker spaces") and classrooms designed for adult topics and geared for adult DIY learning.

Given my karma (dharma), I'm already a resource for the Greater Portland area, as are my partners in "integral design" (Glenn's term for it).  A lot of it's just storytelling, with history as a backdrop, technical content mixed in.

But then storytelling is an art, about leaving stuff out as irrelevant, as much as tuning stuff in as of vital importance.

In proving a successful role model for how to up the level of play in one city, with help from my friends and their group affiliations, I pioneer a path for others to not clone exactly, but at least learn from.

Hat in the Ring
:: hat in the ring ::