Monday, November 27, 2023

Checkbox City

On the Way

I've got a new title coming from Amazon, presumably tomorrow (it's on the way): The Invention of the White Race: The Origin of Racial Oppression (paperback) – January 11, 2022 by Theodore W. Allen (Author), Jeffrey B. Perry (Introduction). 

I'll be adding it alongside other such books on Racism in my library, with its both physical and virtual shelf space. Like if I wanted to read in Ashley Montagu's The Fallacy of Race: Man's Most Dangerous Myth, I'd go online (like to archive.org), as my physical copy, if I have one, is likely buried in a box somewhere (or is that one on my Kindle?).

I signed up for an eye doc appointment the other day, and as a new patient was given the standard race boxes to check in with. I was never asked my nationality, but did get to specify a preferred language.

One sees the usual list of checkboxes, but then Hispanic is set off by itself, as not-a-race. I'm welcome to check some boxes there as well (or not). 

I followed my usual "when in Rome..." compliance algorithm and dutifully checked Caucasian for race, although my DNA ancestry doesn't trace to the Caucasus very directly, if at all. We don't all have to trace to the same Caspian Sea area do we, we of pale complexion?

I do feel greatly influenced by Hispanic language and culture but I don't want to imply that my Spanish is any good, so I decline that identification, artificially impoverishing my recorded heritage ("when in Rome..."). 

In my private egoic narrative, I'm thinking these check boxes reveal a lot about the ethnicity of the bureaucracy in charge. They think of ethnicity (e.g. Caucasian, e.g. Armenian) as rooted in one's genetic  profile, with "race" meant to establish not only bio-physical boundaries but psycho-social ones as well (as in "Jewish race" and/or "Ukrainian race" -- USA federal forms would not have those).

The concept of "race" is elusive, including to machine learning. That's a topic of much research of course: not how to be "race blind" but how to identify someone's race (e.g. Samoan) simply based on facial features, including but in no way limited to skin coloration.

The "ethnicity versus physical type" divide is akin to the mind-body duality. A body is a result of "breeding" although we discourage the animal husbandry mindset from overthinking our mating practices. 

A persona (personality) is a result of "breeding" too, meaning acculturation post graduation to autonomous eating and breathing (i.e. birth). Some say we start acquiring language well before birth in some cases. Then we go on to finishing schools (the schools of life, which eventually finish us).

It was long recognized that the number of categories is arbitrary and subjective, and different ethnic groups were placed in different categories at different points in time. Fran├žois Bernier (1684) doubted the validity of using skin color as a racial characteristic, and Charles Darwin (1871) emphasized the gradual differences between categories. Today there is broad agreement among scientists that typological conceptions of race have no scientific basis.
In free liberal nations, we tend to actively undermine what other types of nationalist consider most intrinsic to their nationality: their genetic makeup. Liberals think the mark of a successful melting pot is experimentation and cross-fertilization. People marry or otherwise hook up across class lines, as well as race lines, as it's enshrined in principle that these lines are meant to be crossed, if not erased all together (ending all diversity then?).

The historically mostly white US Navy has a long tradition of such liberality in the Pacific theater. The US Navy is less segregated than ever these days, including among its nuclear and extended families (not just among crews).

The eugenics groups see "races" on the analogy of "primary colors" such that all humans are an admixture of these constituent lineages, such as "Caucasian" i.e. the American version of "Aryan". That actual picture is far more complicated and is continuing to evolve, such that DNA tests now talk about Neanderthal ancestry, not just Cro Magnon. People still speak in terms of "blood" but largely know that's metaphorical i.e. DNA in the blood is not different from DNA in any cell of the body (excepting gametes).

Reading for Simpletons

My own ethnicity is far less enamoured of the old racial typology, which appears to trace to the Book of Genesis, story of Noah. Those hoping to think simplistically in terms of Black, Brown, White, Yellow (did we lose the Red?) or BYWB, are guilty of the kind of groupthink God worried about. 

These days though, given few take such thinking seriously, and we're free to move on. Besides, few are really so bigoted as think in terms of "Yellow" and say "Asian" now, and Black and Brown should be capitalized ("white" not so much as it goes to their heads), whereas Hispanic is not really a race. So they tell us, until they tell us something else.

Wikipedia again (minus the footnotes):
The other three self-designated races are not labeled by color. This is due to historic negative associations of terms like "Yellow" (for East Asians) and "Red" (for Native Americans) with racism. However, some Asian Americans and Native Americans have tried to reclaim these color terms by self-identifying as "Yellow" and "Red", respectively.
The great flood in Genesis serves as a pinch point in human evolution, such that Noah's progeny suffered from too much inbreeding. The resulting mono-culture was also subject to debilitating forms of groupthink, which is what the Tower of Babel was all about.  Humans were imprinting on the landlubber construction industry as the be all end all, losing their native maritime skills. Bummer.

Without some external intervention, humans would misguidedly think that certain way (in terms of a "tower towards God" i.e. "God is in the up direction") and never get on with fulfilling their true destiny. 

God's solution, to confuse tongues, was brilliant as it pushed the tribes apart into Diaspora Nations, where they'd finally discover the Whole Earth (the real WE).

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Introducing Curious Listening Dialogue


A lot of the groups I participate in hold Zoom meetings way more often than I'm able to attend. The 52 Living Ideas network has an especially cram packed schedule. I'm assuming this is the usual pattern. 

Groups that record their meetups provide their participants with more opportunities to keep tabs, plus generate material for lurkers, would be new recruits. 52 Living Ideas and M4W both record the majority of their meetups. TrimTab Book Club only rarely does. FieldStructure Institute is somewhere in between.

This particular M4W meetup is about Curious Listening Meetups, which have a specific format and code of conduct. We talk about Bohmian Dialog quite a bit. I bring up Dr. Nick Consoletti, who did his PhD on that topic. We have another Bohm fan in our midst, John Brett.

Aslam is from the Pashtun region and is joining us as a PhD candidate at Princeton, with a background in conflict resolution. We have a series of meetups he leads, focusing more directly of Sociology as a discipline. He questions to what degree we decide our direction unconsciously, given how intentionally and deliberately he's been operating as a decision-maker on a spiritual journey.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Telling Some History

The teacher strike continues, here in Portland, Oregon, reminding me of what it's like to be in class, as a student, as a teacher, as an instructor who shows up after school. I've played all of these roles. That's far from all the roles however.

Typically, insofar as North Americans, USA types more specifically, get some shared education, it happens in K-12, then we go our separate ways. Those attending colleges, or maybe joining a military, are likely to have some continued need for history, and in general, adulthood continues to be about self education in a variety of topics. Dialing back to high school then, let's talk Napoleon, what did you learn about him?

Warning to the reader: I get increasingly autobiographical at the end, but here up top I'm thinking of everyday school textbooks and the "reality" they represent, that of the school, of the teacher, and whatever learning goes on in and out of the classroom. We most likely learn about Napoleon through that context, which I'm echoing here.

I'm about to seem silly. I learned the mnemonic, wholly un-PC (non-woke) in our day: A Red Indian Thought He Might Eat Tobacco In Church. First of all, why not?, as tobacco is a holy substance, used in rituals, but actually the point was to remind us how to spell "arithmetic" (and it worked, for me anyway). Along those same lines: "able was I ere I saw elba" -- have you heard that one? A palindrome for sure. Same phrase each way. And who is the "I" in this sentence. That's right: Napoleon.

Lets further omni-triangulate, with two facts you might have never learned, and a third that's more common knowledge but still obscure:

  • per this IEEE Spectrum article, Charles Babbage encountered The Turk
  • Napoleon too played The Turk (and I believe lost)
  • Charles Babbage and Ada Byron are sometimes credited as father and mother of computer hardware and software respectively

That was one Junior English School in Rome, 1960s, that taught me a way to remember "arithmetic". Let's put it this way: in some churches you do smoke tobacco, and probably chew it, I'm no expert.

The Turk was deceiving in that it was meant to appear an automaton through and through, a machine of gears, a clockworks. However, it was good at chess. Looking back from today, when computers play good chess, the deception was prescient i.e. what then only seemed possible and was really not yet (self driving cars), is now taken for granted (chess playing). The advance seems to be continuing. We're still debating what AI means exactly, based on what we see in practice. A kind of mirroring.

Now, back to the mainstream, US history: what's going on with the US around the time of Napoleon?

The basic dynamic is, in struggling to define the ongoing significance of its own Revolution against the British Empire and monarchy, the founding fathers were engaged in debates about the significance of subsequent revolutions in Europe. We'll see the Transcendentalists joining that debate, before the Civil War. The Revolution was not about becoming another tyrannical empire. The point of democracy was not to beat the crap out of resistant countries.

France and England were at war, the USA's former an alley, and the latter an enemy, but also a homeland, an "old country" for the Yanks at least. France would gift the US with the Statue of Liberty somewhat later (1886), inviting future incoming waves of peoples. 

Jefferson stretched the reigning (mainstream) psychology into realizing that France was a check on homeland (i.e. English) bullying, and we were willing to support Napoleon with a deal, now called the Louisiana Purchase. He would become somewhat enriched thereby and enabled to further prosecute his ambitions.

Jefferson agreed with Hamilton, as events progressed, that it would indeed be bad for the USA if either Empire engulfed the other and then turned its menacing attention to the States of the New World, then still a fledgling Federation, not yet bicoastal. Both already had a foothold on the continent, no question, but by they're staying divided in Europe... not forgetting about Spain and Portugal... remember Britain actually attacked us in 1812.

The above is in the ballpark of what a high school student might encounter, when being brought up to speed. Like, what's been happening? There's still a lot more to go.

I always liked getting my info through MAD Magazine and Saturday Morning cartoons on TV (no not exclusively). As a boomer, I was already well down the slippery slope to Sesame Street and MTV i.e. madcap, fast cut, free associating music video and infomercial type formats. We might have cartoons about Napoleon against a backdrop: French History. I don't think we did though, not very many. Leave that to the textbook tellers right? Stick to fiction.

OK, as a school teacher (including of adults), I have to admit feeling leery, about all this time with the Fictional Universes (e.g. from blockbuster-based Hollywood, and from the playstation industry). Is this obsession detracting from, outright competing with, actual History for bandwidth? 

Isn't getting that distracted dangerous? Aren't incommon narratives critical? Can we afford to grow up in all Narnia worlds, effectively in our private closets?

"That's right, you are in competition" say the dreamer gamers.  In a way they're saying they're fed up with consensus history as forming any kind of social bond, and would prefer to bond through universes (e.g. Marvel Comics Universe) other than those dominated by the usual cast of History's narrative. "According to whom?" is another one, meaning who gets to tell history. Who got to choose the textbooks? Cosplay is idle recreational for some, yet a form of rebellion for the hard core. Bumper sticker: defy reality.

Leaving aside those debates, I'd like to get back to Ada and Babbage who played The Turk, and always suspected there might be a midget inside. What about Ada? 

My first exposure to Ada was through ADA, the computer language. This was a DoD pet project and a lot of projects going forward were therefore going to be using it (it was a spec of the job). I crashed some conferences on the topic, not as a spy but as a Princeton guy with a real interest in computer science and anthropology. A guy named Arch Davis showed me around, my guide like in Dante. I found the whole Ada vs ADA connection interesting but as yet didn't know much about Ms. Lovelace.

Coming from a practicing Quaker branch, I was not groomed for ADA work, meaning DoD stuff, but then DARPA brushed off on me anyway, via Python and its IDLE ide. One could say I got soaked in DoD sheep dip through other channels, such as a teen blessed with base privileges through my dad's job in the Philippines. 

His job was quite civilian, not focused on military or munitions at all. His work was OK with his activist wife at least (my mom Carol). My point is I'm not wholly ignorant of matters military and I don't plan to rewrite history as though that kind of ignorance were OK.

I brought the Philippines into it on purpose, as the Philippine American War cannot be forgotten, nor can Smedley Butler, nor the Business Plot, a theme of Occupy. Smedley Butler was not a big fan of General MacArthur let's remember the Hoovervilles. Then let's talk about FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and so on, and the rise of a covert government or "deep state" (made highly visible through the window of Iran-Contra, in the Reagan Era).

The Transcendentalists were likewise contemplating what the American Revolution meant, and to what extent what was happening in Europe was a positive or negative development. Margaret Fuller was sent to report first hand on what was happening around Rome at the time (a revolt against the Papacy). That's a story those who study the Transcendentalists well know, but beyond the purview of most high schoolers.

I did get into computer programming by the way, if not from the ADA angle. There would be Python, in part DARPA boosted, but for decades in between I was focused on xBase, a language, and its commercial forms: dBase, FoxPro, Visual FoxPro. 

Yes, I remember Clipper, used dBase II through IV, then hopped to Microsoft and rode VFP to the end, official support for VFP9 ending in 2015. Which doesn't mean there aren't still VFP9 programs out there, or dBase II for that matter, if the old PC still boots. 

But I'd long before switched to teaching Python, with demo stacks showing off the DB API (talking to databases), web (Flask and Django), data science (array based), although not without a final flip with Foxpro, tracking Trucking (my last look at VFP source code was in connection with a trucking program).

Ada wasn't informed of the true identity of her father, Lord Byron, the poet, until she became twenty one. From the bio I read, I remember her polymathic tendencies. She had that in common with Margaret Fuller: an unflinching vision of an industrialized future.  Ada was more a harbinger of machine world than a wilderness romantic, and out of that grew her fascination for the Babbage engine, and what it foretold.

The Babbage engine was too difficult to really build at the time, but later generations of machinist have proved it works. That's the textbook rendering in any case and I have no reason to doubt it; the finished versions are on display. It was programmable to some degree, and Ada shared the vision to some level, and promulgated the Big Idea (e.g. AI) in social circles. She was a key cog among the cognoscenti.

Why do I go back to Napoleon and the Louisiana Purchase at this juncture? That had to do with proto FINCAP one could say, the politics of vast land grabs on paper, by map redrawing. The King of Spain could be talked into surrendering (ceding) his American property rights to France, which in turn could sell them to Thomas Jefferson and double the USA's size. European empires had these vast estates back then. William Penn was gifted with Pennsylvania, which state Quakers had their high hopes for.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

M4W: Sociology and Trucking

Screen Shot 2023-11-09 at 11.49.50 AM
I'm on a call with Sociology the topic. I'm talking about my Trucker Exchange Program (aka Truckers for Peace (T4P)) with this little math4wisdom group (M4W), headquarters in Lithuania. Andrius Kulikauskis is our anchor.

Trucking, as a profession, is inherently an attractor of polymaths. The driving part is already multi-disciplinary, but then there's the data science, the people skills, the opportunities to encounter other cultures when driving long haul (or even over short distances). I've been developing a science fiction narrative in which truckers become citizen diplomats.

Aslam at Princeton is joining us thirty minutes after the announced start time owing to room scheduling issues. Now that he's here, we'll switch to another channel where he'll present about Michael Polyani's The Study of Man.

Although we're not all mathematicians in some technical sense (all of us share in interest an math), the cognitive framework being developed by Andrius is an anchoring one. Fortunately (for me at least), Andrius is using his framework in a mindful way that encounters other systems and disciplines as more grist for the mill.

In my opening remarks, before Aslam arrived, I talked briefly about Bob Textor of Thirsters and his importance in getting anthropology inserted into Peace Corps work, both in training of personnel and in their field discipline. I also write about a Chinese Peace Corps in these journals, as any civilization is likely to encounter this idea, perhaps to absorb some Americana.

Polyani's framework contrasts explicit and tacit knowledge. The former is assumed to be true by its holder (lets say we "contain" knowledge), whereas tacit knowledge tends to be unarticulated and therefore harder to disprove. Tacit knowledge is less likely challenged, because it's harder to see.

I'm reminded of Arnold Mindell's Consensus Reality (CR) versus Nonconsensus Reality (NCR), in that one may be unconscious of how one's biases are unshared (in the sense of unchecked).

Also during my check in, I talked about an archetypal vision of M4W as a gathering of heroes, like the Jedi Knights, who might be dispatched to trouble zones, with powers to help the affected peoples restore harmony. That's a comic book picture more than a present reality -- more science fiction in other words.

Think of a plot line in which ETs broker a piece between tribes A and B, because the ETs are able to bring tacit knowledge to the surface in both tribes, to where a sufficient consensus reality might be forged. 

Prearticulated nonconsensual attitudes and biases, not to mention missing knowledge (not shared on both sides) have a way of undoing attempts to "get along". The ETs catalyze a growing area of explicit overlap.

That all sounds fine and good for science fiction, but we don't have ETs (there's no consensus that we do), let alone those with the patience to play intermediary. But might we cultivate an ET point of view (ETPV, ET PoV)?  Enter M4W and its alien viewpoints.

Popper also enters my thinking here:  we talk about beliefs being believable to the extent they're falsifiable, but then we also have what we call truisms, where the opposite is more nonsensical than incorrect. 

Wittgenstein's On Certainty explores this difference: between what's believable, and therefore adjustable, and what's unquestionable (raw phenomena?  tautologies?  certainties?). Let's talk about grammars, forms of life.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Commentary

Interesting that allowing stateless Gazan refugees to escape from their torture pen is now referred to as “decanting”. Their forced confinement to a killing field, apparently favored by those with states, is therefore “to bottle and cork”?

Voluntary departure is not the same as forced displacement. If Palestinians had statehood, they would have the usual right to cross borders and escape the war zone, without surrendering a right to return.

That Gazans are forced to stay in Gaza is a symptom of their statelessness. The world seems complicit. The whole situation is a strong indictment of the nation-state system.

Confining Gazans who want to leave Gaza to an open air prison is hardly an humanitarian gesture. 

Ukrainians were allowed to leave Ukraine when the war started. Syrians were permitted to leave Syria. Yet the world is complicit in depriving Palestinians of their human right to move freely about the world, even to escape a war zone — or maybe that’s not a human right? Forced confinement is OK? 

Only those with statehood get to travel is that it? The United Nations seems mostly interested in fencing people in.

[ from my comments on YouTubes ]

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Back to Basics

FNB Bike Trailer
Food Not Bombs bicycle trailer parked in a Quaker Meetinghouse

Like many a youngster, I was always bothered by "learning the 3Rs" by which was meant "reading, writing and arithmetic" and you can see why: only an illiterate would think "arithmetic" began with R. I didn't get then what I do now: that there's a wry sense of humor involved. Like when I asked about the giant N on the Nebraska State stadium and some professor wryly said "yeah, N is for Knowledge".

OK, now with that out of the way, let me be even more contrarian in saying the 3Rs aren't basic at all compared to a more neglected elective, namely Home Economics. I'd summarize the early grades as being about Econ in the sense of Home Econ, and Health, which interweave around a "my body myself" chief pillar of self interest. The two year old is very rightly obsessed with eating and sanitation. Obsession becomes merely a strong focus over time.

However, Home Economics doesn't have to mean some simulated Betty Crocker kitchen and lots of (hashtag) trad-wife apron wearing. Think more of a submarine's kitchen with a hungry crew to feed daily, like we feed the school itself. Do we have apprentices in the school kitchen cafeteria? Not if we're slow and dumb. Unions would disallow it (really?).

But even if we're not allowed in the kitchen, we're allowed to make cooking shows about serving all the folks showing up for a healthy meal. We know a lot about sanitation and the proper handling of foods, not just superficially, but with a deep understanding of microbes, disease transmission, medical science. Medical science is our initial portal into all the STEM subjects. Which ties me back to Nebraska.

Dr. Bob Fuller was not alone in seeing the writing on the wall:  students not intending to make physics their major nevertheless had reasons to know a lot of physics, many of them health related. The human body is where all principles converge, even quantum, and my First Person Physics meme was good at capturing that essence. Dr. Fuller was happy to credit me with that meme and bring me on as a member of the team. He flew me out to the University of Nebraska, at Lincoln, for a strategy session. I also gave a talk.

It's my Food Not Bombs experience that informs a lot of my thinking, as well as my experience with the Gathering of Western Young Friends. In FNB, we'd harvest food from warehouses in an urban setting, approximately enough to serve fifty people. We would prepare and cook the meal developing a menu on the fly, based on what produce was available, plus what we had in storage as staples, such as grains. We would usually cook in a church kitchen. The Gathering was the same way: we had control of a large kitchen equipped to prepare and serve meals to hundreds.

A lot of developers may read this and think: wait a minute, aren't we still educating for a nuclear family based lifestyle wherein each household has its own well-equipped kitchen and the planned-for meal size is accordingly small. Two parents with two kids and a pet. What's the point of educating cooks to serve in the military, or at spontaneous gatherings such as festivals?

Also problematic: how young am I going when I say "grade school"? Kitchens contain sharp objects and equipment capable of starting fires. We need students in charge of their own emotions and unlikely to act out in a violent manner. Has my utopia somehow come up with the optimum filters?

So yes, my recipes for reform only spell disaster in the eyes of some, whereas for enterprising social media personalities, we're talking grist for the mill. Answers will emerge in conversations and I'm not saying those need to be with me ("chat amongst yourselves"). I'm helping wheels turn some other wheels and so on.

"Older kids with some younger prodigies expressing an interest and aptitude" is the usual answer (which sidesteps the deets around screening), when it comes to working around knives and ovens, toxic (if consumed) cleaners. A first pass might involve using more video equipment, even doing some editing, before diving into dishwashing first person. Watch your peers. Learn the ropes vicariously first.

As to why are we cooking for groups, I'm seeking to balance the nuclear family picture, that's true. In between is the restaurant chef, who will maybe cook some dishes for large numbers, say rice and a few soups, whereas the majority of meals are made to order, but from a smallish set of recipes or templates, what we always call menus.

Speaking of recipes, the obvious bridge to STEM and Theater in PATH is via programming and algorithms (including dances). Many a textbook introduces "following an algorithm" as akin to "following a recipe". In theater, it's "following a script". In all cases we might speak of "programming", not forgetting the possibilities of music.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Tuning in Martian Math -- from the Silicon Forest


You'll hear me talk about Diaspora Nations in passing, and may wonder what "math teacher planet" has to do with bringing more Synergetics into the awareness of high schoolers, a top priority of the World Game (judging from Bucky's own style of play).

These curriculum connections (both implicit and explicit) are actually quite obvious in that Fuller was an advocate of the freedom of individuals to travel the planet (as he did so freely), whereas the system of nation-states has a lot to do with inhibiting travel and tourism among some classes of individual, namely those minus the proper documentation. 

The undocumented tended to get herded into camps by the United Nations, and abandoned, contrary to their human rights.

Fuller liked to point out that supranational corporations (collectively The Grunch), endowed with the rights of humans by the Supreme Court, per the 14th Amendment (per a spurious argument if we follow Thom Hartmann's research) suffer no such onerous restrictions on their travel, given their elite, transhuman status.

From the standpoint of one proffering this enhanced high school curriculum, with an updated American Transcendentalism woven throughout, it's my aim to provide a smooth, well-designed bridge, especially in the area of mathematics.  

I don't want teachers coming to me later saying: "we would have been more than happy to adopt some of these reforms you've suggested, but you never spelled out in any detail how all this could be accomplished." 

I'll aim to see any and all such charges dropped, as clearly I carried out my duties as a curriculum developer. If our planetary civilization overheats and blows itself up, I won't have that on my conscience. I was all for moving that minute hand farther back from midnight. Other high school teachers might not have been as conscious of our options. NCTM deleted our public forums after all.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Gazans to Guantanamo?

School Book

I understand the calls for Guantanamo to serve as New Gaza for now, with the cruise ship flotilla bringing thousands of Palestinians to their new temporary home. I don't know if Cuba has contacted the State Department about this proposal. 

Give WDC a chance to do the right thing maybe. I suppose it's the Pentagon, not State, that should get to say "absolutely not" without even thinking, based on its reflex conditioning. "No means no" doesn't mean Cuba shouldn't get its land back. What's critical is to document the reactions for posterity.

The military is gearing up for rule by AI some suggest (the "singularity" is coming!).

Guantanamo is a huge base of operations, not just a torture camp, and Cuba has been dreaming of ways to repurpose it to serve the world more auspiciously. Cuba has chafed under its reputation as a world torture capital, thanks to the Spanish American war era forced annexation and absorption by the IBC (Imperial Borgian Complex ("resistance is futile")).

Making Guantanamo and maybe Okinawa into permanent refugee camps (with lots of turnover) would not be that different from their current role as military socialist IBC R&R destinations, just a tad more serious minded and concerned with the big picture.

The idea of a New Gaza is it gets you back on your feet, but not as a helpless militant with a narrow specialization. The kinds of training offered in an Asylum City amount to usable skills, applicable anywhere. This is not another School of the Americas and we're not stoking future violence with nasty ideologies glorifying same.

The Gazans and Cubans are expected to get along, as fellow long term victims of BDS on a world scale. Both ethnicities have used a lot of ingenuity to cope with their oppression by AI over the decades.

Cubo de Cuba

Friday, October 13, 2023

New Gaza

Gaza Evacuation Study

The humanitarians have called for a 24 hour evacuation period for the Gazans, with the United Nations (not NATO) providing the logistics. Unless some planning body had been using the last ten years to plan for this contingency (I'm not privy to such plans), it's unlikely that 24 hours is a sufficient mobilization time, except for the lower inertia objects, meaning wagging tongues.

By wagging tongues and nimble fingers, I mean those of us who share the latest buzz, including regarding the massive logistics undertaking the United Nations is now initializing, expecting help from all its member nations, to whatever level said nations are willing to be heroic and demonstrate their prowess, when it comes to removing innocent civilians from harm's way, by air, land and sea.

We've already been debating the ripple effects and implications in the space of these journals. I'm not pointing to myself as the answer man, but as one who recognizes the plight of refugees is a core topic in sociology that has shaped our institutions up until now, meaning we're no strangers to this plight. 

A core challenge is to keep families together, while acknowledging that sometimes families agree to split up, sometimes (not always) with the explicit mission of helping each other later, depending on which took the best course.

Imagine being lost in the mountains, confronted with forks. Groups often intentionally split at such junctures, perhaps with scouts, or runners, for some distance, although preferably with telecommunications and why are these people without GPS devices and accurate maps?

What I'm saying is, when one undertakes to rescue people from a dense community of neighbors and interlocking families, is it not the goal to replicate these neighborhoods on the other end?  The whole circus is nomadic, not just the individual acts and animals, not just the tents and the elephants.

Nuclear families are not the sub-units of migration so much as the barrios, neighborhoods, entire zip codes, but then out to what scale?  

Are we building a New Gaza somewhere in the Caribbean? On the African continent? Is it supposed to have statehood? Who governs?

I'm aware that in speculating about a New Gaza, far from the current one, I'm sounding like one of those old timey pre Civil War Quakers who didn't align with the "immediatist" ranters, the ones into criminalizing slavekeeping yesterday (even "right now" was "too late"). 

"Round 'em up and send them all back to Liberia" was a divergent intellectual current back then (long before my time), and has a shameful ring to it, next to a prouder "stand your ground" i.e. don't let them round you up and move you yet again. Isn't evacuating Gaza just pandering to unscrupulous real estate developers?

I'm countering that perception with the realization that "going West" is no longer what it once was. Populations have spread around the world and are increasingly fenced in, with many calling for closed borders and walled neighborhoods where none were formerly present. 

We may insist on more conformity and obedience in accordance with a sense that our truths need to be taken more literally and less as if they're just in our heads (so to speak). We get more fundamentalist.

We need a more organized approach for dealing with the n% of humans in refugee mode at all times, for whatever reason. Intake and relocation might be the core business of some "switchboard" cities, designed to serve the needs of transients (those in transit, tourists, backpackers...) seeking new more permanent circumstances. 

Opportunities for trafficking? How about escaping being trafficked? Cities help people mix it up and flee captors. Identities created, identities erased.

We call them refugee camps today and Gaza is one of them, but in a global system that's stagnated, turning camps for transients into dead end prisons. To the extent refugees get swept under the rug and forgotten, the whole idea of nation-states is undermined. Suspending disbelief gets too hard and is shrugged off. The pomp and circumstance all dissipates.

We've seen wave after wave of refugee migrations all through recent history, right up to the present.  Germans, Syrians, Somalis, Vietnamese, Libyans, Guatemalans... and that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Filling an entire Asylum City, or good portion thereof, with a cohesive ethnic mix, a semi-cohesive body all airlifted and/or ferried from danger, and therefore already knowing one another and bonded through common narrative, solves a lot of problems. The refugees come and go, in large groups sometimes, not just as loners. Sometimes they return to a homeland, refurbished. That's not always the outcome.

Humans are masterful when it comes to exploding infrastructure and displacing populations. Plans for those thereby displaced tend to be ad hoc and cursory. Humans express malign neglect for their extended family and give up on themselves and their capacity to not be inhumane.  

Since when have camps ever helped people? I'm thinking of some cases. People voluntarily sign up for camps of all kinds.

Even if we've been a Ghetto Planet, we're not condemned to always be one.

If the UN gets its act together around a "rescue fleet" of some thousand ships, for the thousand thousand passengers that might need sudden transport, then that's a fleet to be used again.  

And no one is closing the door on New Gazans going home to Gaza later.  

At this point in time, we just want to build our muscles and ability to coordinate on saving people from getting stuck in combat and/or natural disaster zones. Prospects for returning to the scene later will vary from case to case.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Anticipating Trends

Fractal Universe (Mandelbulb 3D fractals)

Long time readers know a lot about my strategy:  showcase field tested alternative curricula that reach out from a middle ground, which I call "the high school level" but which we might label the proverbial "layperson's level" even if they have a PhD in some NCR or exotic field. 

NCR = non-consensus reality (from Quantum Mind, Dr. Arnold Mindell). CR = consensus reality.

The high school level "middle ground" (cite "radical middle") is our best attempt at a CR, a shared  framework, an orienting mythos. In US history, we learn about the wars, revolutions, breakthroughs, transformations. We learn how we became a Nation of Refugees.

Mixed in to my amped up high school (which features Eagle Scout level challenges too, for any genders that want to attempt them) are positive futurist memes from our best 19th and 20th century thinkers, science fiction writers etc.

For these alternative curriculum streams to become better established, they need feeder creeks and rivulets, per the fractal nature of a river basin ecosystem

Feeding into my curricula are some exotic components that have become the focus of a few PhD'd devotees, here and there.  However we're not so "degreeist" as to insist on only Doctors of Philosophy doing the torch passing, meaning my School of Tomorrow's esotericists come in many flavors.  We've been influenced by software engineering, a field that advances based on inputs from practitioners in many walks of life.  We get lots of polymaths and autodidacts ("comprehensivists" in CJ's terms).

Note: I've distinguished between esoteric and occult elsewhere. Given etymology, I consider occult disciplines to be those employing deliberate deceptions or at minimum some level of cryptography. Even your average shoptalk is a code language of a kind, which may lend an aura of cultishness. 

But esoterica may simply be difficult to master, such as an athletic skill.  Professional trades may be esoteric yet traffic in ultra-clear training materials, with apprentices and everything i.e. there's no attempt to conceal.  I concede there's a spectrum.

An example of "esoteric" would be our inclusion of the Mandelbrot Set in the complex plane, where said plane is itself at the outer fringe of high school mathematics, conventionally. 

Publicists for said Set are into promoting and promulgating, not keeping secrets, yet the prevalence of calculator-based arithmetic, the paucity of array-based programming driving colorful screens (displays of the Argand Plane), works against these evangelists for Fractals in high school math. Mandelbulbs too.  

Let's not forget middle schoolers. We don't need to postpone enjoyment of the aesthetics, until we get there in computer programming.

Another example of "esoteric" is all the time I spend with Pascal's Triangle, collecting threads already prevalent in the literature, but making sure the idea of a Grand Central Station gets a boost.  

Some ideas keep being a destination, and Pascal's Triangle is one of them.

This probably all sounds fine and good but where is "curriculum development" and "curriculum design" in any national debate? We had a would-be Education President in the person of Bush the First, with Bush the Second more of an Alfred E. Neuman type character. We entered a "for dummies" idiocracy as time went on, with presidents more often than not in clown face mode.

We have high school teachers quitting their profession in droves (and telling us why on social media) with a sense an impossible level of performance was being market-demanded from them. Too much for too little, with others greedily piggybacking, not hoeing their own rows.

Health care workers feel the same way, on this first day of the Kaiser walkout (one of the biggest labor actions in US history so far).

What we have in current debates is "student debt" and whether the lifting of the temporary stay on repayments, during the covid pandemic, is going to make some things go snap in the night. What camel backs will crack?  As Emily Jashinsky pointed out recently on Breaking Points, many took the social cues seriously and went for the four year degree, but on a speculative basis, betting their incomes out the other end would make this Faustian bargain well worth it. 

But what if said four year curriculum were deficient in positive futurist memes?

"Positive futurist memes" are among the most esoteric, as standing back from the human melodrama long enough to get a cosmic background for context, is not necessarily an easy task, especially when light pollution deprives so many of any literal look at the Milky Way galaxy. Out of sight, out of mind. We pretend that the loss of a cosmic context has no effect on our guidance systems. For how long will we deceive ourselves along those lines?

So what we're expecting, but can't predict for a certainty, is that debtors will look for cracks in the walls of their financial prisons, and will find fault with the lack of context they were expected to go forth with. 

"Making money" stops working if "making sense" doesn't underpin its value. How do Economists make sense of keeping up with payments on the national debt, in the trillions? And do this even while fighting major wars and providing entitlement programs to those who fight them and/or proffer their allegiance?  

Do militaries ever go on strike?  Is that what we call a military coup? Did getting a four year degree come with enough problem solving skills to address these questions?  How about eight years then?  That's a lot of debt to pay back though.

When the pendulum starts swinging the other way, it will become more about investing in our shared future and our young people especially. Instead of saddling them with debt, we need to give them a boost. What positive futuristic memes might we smuggle into our high schools for that to happen, past the miserly Guardians of the dreary status quo? Did they teach us the right stuff?  What was missing?

To make obvious how much you feel ripped off, show how much you welcome these new alternatives. Don't encourage further enrollment in the very institutions which failed to prepare you, for your life in the real world. Unless, that is, these very institutions demonstrate some dawning awareness of the "right stuff" and how to share it. 

Might there be some UBI (universal basic income) involved?  Pay me to learn Spanish, Russian... Japanese. Pay me to learn, in the form of immediate rewards, such as nutrition and a place to stay, even if not with cash. If I study biology, give me access to microscopes. That's what the military offers: a form of socialism. Universities aren't that different.

Welcome to the Global U.