Thursday, October 30, 2008

Looking Ahead

Dateline CubeSpace, 7:30 PM -- me in the back corner, working a bottle of diet Coke, surveying the scene. Ward Cunningham is here, invented the Wiki. Jason, talking about open source conferences in Argentina and Chile. There's a bit of a spread, food-wise, wolfed cookies and chocolate-coated strawberries.

Why are we here? OSCON is leaving us for San Jose, creating a vacuum, which nature abhors, something like that. We're here to inject new life into our city's vibrant open source culture, not so long ago celebrated in Christian Science Monitor as a flag bearer for same. Up to 25% women in Argentina, and climbing. Tonight's tag team is also all women, designers of Open Source Bridge, or just Bridge for short.

This is the same room I last visited in my capacity of PPUGer, gave a lightning talk on Python 3.0 and its apocalyptic significance in terms of backward incompatibility. No one seems especially freaked out about it though, not like the older Pythons have anywhere more special to go. Python 2.6 is where to poise yourself, if you wanna take the leap.

Why we love Portland: Powell's, bike lanes, farmer's markets, sustainability principles, plus we build things: a plethora of tech events, user groups, Linus lives here, Calagator, open source rocketry, OTBC, OSL, Legion of Tech, lots of grassroots energy.

So lets have an awesome open source conference!

This'll take ongoing community organizing, more doing of what we're doing.

We've got time reserved at the Oregon Convention Center, targeting about five hundred attendees.

Sponsors are starting to line up (should I join them?), although it's a bit early to throw around numbers.

Admission charges are expected but need to be much lower than OSCON's obviously.

Rick Turoczy is heading up Marketing, taking on promotion well beyond city limits. Let's coordinate blogs etc. He'll be leading one of the seven breakout sessions.

Jake Kuramot is taking on Finance.

Adam DuVander is looking at IT ("the technology experience" -- important in marketing).

We've got a Logistics Supervisor, and a Content Management staff. Looks promising. I like the way the leadership is already so organized.

Some guy wants to know what the "philosophy" will be -- he's trying to get at "look and feel" issues (as in "how commercial?") but that's not an easy topic to grapple with in a plenary session of this size.

Shared vision is important though, we should get more of it in writing.

This won't be a trade show, is developer friendly, about networking and collaborating. Knowledge-sharing. Some discussion erupted about the difference between "open source" and "not for profit" -- that could get thorny.

I'm attending the content breakout session, asking if teaching (as in effective techniques) will be one of the tracks. Varied formats, unconference section. Cooking vs. Chemistry metaphor ("get it done" versus "theory"). Good thinking.

Alpha geek Allison Randal is here, helps make it official.

I encouraged the organizers to look at this as showbiz, something they're staging, not kowtowing to community expectations too much, willing to show off new concepts, show 'em how we do things in Portland.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Prehistory

:: exhibit A ::
A close business associate was recently questioning me as to which web sites I'd done, and I boasted of both solo and group efforts, citing and in particular.

However, in the context of boning up for this IEEE talk I'm delivering, I've had to flaunt some credentials, otherwise why waste our time, is the attitude, so I trucked out as another collaborative effort, in this case with Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Bucky's adjuvant on some important works.

So here's a screen shot for the blog (above), of just the home page, dug out of the Way Back Machine (, last updated November 6, 1996. I gave up my spot to a successor shortly thereafter, the plan all along, as I envisioned the BFI webmaster role as subject to rotation, likely influenced by standard Quaker practice.

Here's the bio we're using:

Kirby Urner started exploring Fuller's work in earnest following his earning a BA in philosophy from Princeton University, while serving as a high school math teacher in Jersey City. He's served as a contributing editor for McGraw-Hill, Rockefeller Center, political activist for Project VOTE! in Washington DC, and computer programmer for myriad governmental and nonprofit organizations in Greater Portland. Working in cahoots with Kiyoshi Kuromiya, Fuller's lieutenant on a couple key books, he snagged the domain name and served as the Buckminster Fuller Institute's first web wrangler. His 'Synergetics on the Web' is one of the main stops for Bucky scholars to this day ( ). Kirby is an IEEE Member.
Speaking of collaborative sites, it was an honor serving to administrate the Python in Education page within (not doing that anymore), and giving some marginal support to Nirel with her Metahead project with -- both opportunities to work with some brilliant and talented people.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Laughing Planet

@ Laughing Planet

In offering to spike your caffeinated beverage with some Jack Daniels, we're not muscling in on liquor bar turf so directly, as the ambiance involves staying, or at least looking, pretty sharp, in business clothes, basically conducting small board meetings, using the LCD for either PowerPoints (generic) or real time hookups with partners in this / other time zones.

Sports bars involve sharing one screen to a whole room, whereas a coffee bar distributes content through multiple screens, each potentially hosting different programming, like those old juke boxes, one per booth.

However, for a host of reasons, Portland might not be the best city for prototyping, even if some of the thinking is coming from Pauling House Campus and environs (Richmond / Sunnyside).

We could develop streaming content locally, asynchronously served (or synchronously even), per our ToonTown economy, yet clue "first viewers" closer to Hollywood. That's an equation involving state statutes, political climate, other factors.

"Good thing we have 50 states" is what I'm thinking.

Of course the franchise idea occurred to both Nirel & myself (we think alike in some ways), and also the possibility of occupying different tiers, in terms of family friendly, versus no minors allowed.

The idea of an NC-17 McDonalds may be counter-intuitive (to call up a known franchise i.e. chain), but one might imagine gradations in service nonetheless, as in Orlando.

In a parallel meeting with Patrick, we resolved to trademark some stuff around our HAARP beer concept, a play on the Irish brand, "affordable mind control: inexpensive, not cheap". We might have one of those HAARP cams play a part in commercials.

Yes, we're into spoofing those many urban legends, have some DIA grays on the consulting team, just to keep it real.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Religulous (movie review)

I caught most of this, a last minute swerve in my schedule, after visiting with my friend Gordon.

Some of the talents Bill recruited to share time on camera were pretty interesting to me, like that guy in front of the Vatican, some late model priest. The Catholics come off as the most rational in this picture, compassionate towards a lost sheep.

The focus is mostly Middle Eastern prophetic religions, and Scientology a little, not much Buddhism for example. I wasn't clear on the Amsterdam guy's religion, but maybe that was the point.

I'm glad Bill wraps up his views with an impassioned sermon at the end, just to make it clear where he's coming from, in case anyone were unclear.

Whereas I certainly don't believe everything Bill does, the film comes across as a sincere inquiry, an earnest investigation. There's no depth psychology or Bill Moyers angle (a very different Bill).

Yes, Maher is somewhat heavy handed with the stereotypes, but that's a necessary short hand to point making, a permitted rhetorical ploy, especially in the comic tradition (Bill is a comedian).

He mostly sticks to the rules of debate with not too much ad hominem beyond basic ridicule, such as one might find in any stand up comic act.

It takes some courage to take on the world in this way, Michael Moore move over.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coffee Shop Philo

:: philosophical tableau ::
(with special thanks to Fine Grind)

Per my meeting with Glenn Stockton this morning, I'm interested in competing with more academic formats, such as classroom lectures, with something more like, but with LCDs discreetly positioned for pairs or small groups, with or without headphones or audio.

The content won't be exclusively philosophical of course, but aesthetics and ethics tie in, even in such commercial settings. Glenn's global matrix (hexapent geometry) will likewise get focus.

My companies use synergetic geometry to self promote, for example, which will inevitably reinforce what some teenagers are now getting in school. We aim to supplement, not replace. Imagine hypertoons, some of them commercials for Quaker businesses.

Coffee shops are conducive to being studious (unlike taverns), or at least some of them are, at least some of the time.

The group on Synergeo (a Yahoo! eGroup) seems a little bent out of shape over the Wikipedia article on Synergetics, which at the time of this writing is devoted to an entirely different work by that title, than the one depicted above.

So I've patiently explained that you can't copyright a title, any more than you can an individual word in common usage (such as "gravity"), and besides, not having anything decently comprehensive about our Synergetics on Wikipedia just has the effect of driving more eyeballs to my sites, which is to my commercial advantage.

So let's just say I'm not too worried about it.

Per recent threads with Terry and Diane, I'm willing to promote his ISEPP organization through my syndicated LCD channels (coffee shops subscribe, and not just to mine) as a charitable cause, but he probably wants to see how I do it for these for-profits first, just to make sure my promotional activities are indeed truly advantageous to my various client brands -- like Jack Daniels maybe?

In the interests of full disclosure, my company (DWA / 4D) used to be ISEPP's bookkeeper, but those days are long gone, don't even get the free tickets anymore.

So, I wonder what Roz is up to, time to visit her blog. Fond memories of meeting her on Thanksgiving last year, while visiting with Les and Elise.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Teenager Talk

I was chauffeuring some teens recently, listening to them speculate in the back seat, as to why so many preachers come on TV very late at night, pandering to insomniacs.

Teen: "I think insomniacs tend to be more sinnerly and so watch these shows to maybe get cured of their sinnerism, and churches know this."

I had nothing to add to this analysis, just kept my eyes on the road, enjoying their pithy succinctness.

exhibit: reupping with IEEE
(click for larger view)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Space Room

Sometimes I bounce ideas off HR people, looking for reality checks.

Will these covens of coder chyx aka geek grrls we're finding, scattered across cities, have the networking skills to feed the hungry maw of socially responsible NGOs?

Or for-profit coffee shops for that matter?

These days, young males with say Python kung fu are in a sellers' market, have the luxury of hunkering down to pinch hit on sexy projects, only to move on when the going gets rough. True team players are harder to find.

I shared about my difficult experience at Free Geek. One learns from one's mistakes though, or prays to.

Happy Hour @ Space Room on Hawthorne, a somewhat retro environment. We had Bloody Marys with appetizers.

Good seeing Lee J. again too, retired statistician, wrote part of SPSS.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Scholarly Meetup

D. W. Jacobs and I had a fun, free-ranging conversation at Powell's Books yesterday. He's perpetually interested in scholarship around Bucky, and given I'd spent a lot more face time with EJA than RBF, we explored that latter relationship, continuing threads from The Hawthorne Fish House.

What seemed so special about Ed was how out-of-the-closet he was about this CIA business, his having been a spook and so forth. Somewhat like Laffoley, he put a gothic spin on it, although in Laffoley's case it's more a gargoyle we're looking at.

He was quite in your face about it, Ed was, not like you had to draw it out of him over dinner or anything. In fact, it's right on the book jacket of Synergetics 2, per the exhibit below. His wife June was the same way (they met in the agency). Of course he waited until retirement to go public with these revelations.

None of this is news to buckaneers, as we've all read Ed's Cosmic Fishing and so forth, which goes into more details.

Sarah Vowell is at The Bagdad tonight at 6 PM, the voice of the teenage girl in The Incredibles, I reminded Tara, but better known for her writing in other circles.

Given our Py3K release party tonight, where I'm scheduled to make a presentation, I'm not one of the lucky few who will be there.

What few know about Sarah is she used to work at Oasis Pizza directly across from Bagdad, or so they tell me.

from the dust cover, Synergetics 2
(click for larger view)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Esozone 2008

:: Trevor Blake delivers
The Approximate Omnidirectional Ephemeralization
of Richard Buckminster Fuller ::

:: A Study of Shelter Logistics
for Marine Aviation (new edition) ::

:: Russ Chu inspects Trevor's new book
near Oregon Convention Center ::

:: me in some director's chair, Esozone 2008 ::

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mens Fashions

I was somewhat self conscious today, haunting the hallways of hospitals, as is my wont, what they pay me for, some days, because I had on these supersized Men's Warehouse pantaloons, buckled way high (under a fleece fortunately), like in these old movies, wherein guys seemed to think that was cool.

In fact, an entourage of suited doctors walked by me this afternoon (I recognized at least one of the stars), and what I noticed is they still seemed older than I, which is how I'm used to thinking of doctors (and so, reassuring), whereas, demographically speaking, I'm older than most of those practicing (still disconcerting at times).

In a much younger generation (downline from mine), we find a strong backlash against trousers with high waistlines, with lots of underwear showing, very other end of the spectrum. How do they not trip?

Fashion folk often speak in terms of women's hem lines, but guy styles change too. I remember those doofy swimsuits, like in that movie about runners in the UK, lots of slow mo and pedantic music (yawn).

So in this skit I'm imagining, we get the pants really high again (arm holes?), but make the deep voiced guys all way serious, major authoritarians, planning their big ass warfare or something (hey, must be a hot task force). The laugh track can't stop laughing -- they just look soooo ridiculous.

On the topic of laugh tracks, I often say "laugh track!" when I hear one, helping my daughter pick up those critical viewing habits my generation takes for granted. Learn to hear when it's canned. Of course that can get annoying after awhile, so I've learned to restrain myself, maybe just mumble something.

North Americans like to project on these "other societies" as patronizingly totalitarian (North Korea especially), but what could be more like "mind control" than these vast armies of ghoulish zombies (hungry for sitcoms mostly), keeping us amused in front of our televisions (very Matrix), letting us know when it's OK to laugh out loud (LOL).

I don't know if I'll make Art Spiegalman's presentation at The Bagdad tonight, but I'm certainly aware of it (thanks Derek) and of its topical appropriateness within our ToonTown context.

Happy birthday John Lennon, we're baking cupcakes in your honor.

:: tonight's program ::
(click for larger view)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Some Missing History

What a lot of columnists are not recalling, or choosing not to recall, for whatever reasons, was an earlier bid for the vice presidency, by a woman, who ran specifically for that office (had this ever been tried?), not knowing in advance whom her running mate might be.

I'm speaking of course of Barbara Marx Hubbard, a name almost as scary as Obama's in some circles, although "Hubbard" sounds comfortingly "old mother" to Anglo-tuned ears.

Barbara was much encouraged by the space program, at last some of that utopian science fiction coming true in her lifetime. She wouldn't have minded serving with John Glenn I'd wager.

That's all water under the bridge by now, but it's interesting how the mass media is riddled with blind spots when it comes to history, with only faint glimmerings of Vietnam now and then (everyone knows what a swift boat is maybe -- actually, I've forgotten already).

Dad volunteered for her campaign for awhile; I got to go to her house.

Barbara is a huge Bucky fan, well known among futurists. As politicians dare to sound more positive notes, you get hints of that era. Then they turn all ugly and idiotic again, back to the present, with these vast moron armies of journalist just repeating each other, each good doobie foot soldier trying to make it more salacious and/or scandalous than it already is, shilling for those various brands of dog pooh.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Open Source for Children

Explaining the GNU Public License (GPL) to young children, in anything approaching full-fledged legalese, would normally be a daunting prospect, unless the mom and/or dad were a judge maybe, so getting such talk around the dinner table. Easier is to use a currency more children already recognize: stuffed animals, like teddy bears.

A teddy bear with GPL protection is like having a tag that says "you can have me if you'll share me" and furthermore "do not remove this tag." Even if the bear morphs into a wolf, through a series of patches lets say, the tag doesn't detach, because the changes were applied to the bear to begin with, and the license applies after each patch along the way (because of the non-removal clause).

Of course there are other open source licenses besides the GPL, but GNU has been such a cornucopia of goodies precisely because it pioneered such important legal boilerplate. Selfishness is not OK. As a result, we have Ubuntu.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

On Tap

I interviewed a potential recruit recently, with experience in Uzbekistan and El Salvador, in triage, ER, and logistics. She has a chip on her shoulder with do gooder USA type MDs though, and their prima donna "need to check my email" attitude in the midst of battlefield conditions.

Doctors without borders from other necks of the wood aren't so full of themselves usually.

I know some good doctors though, mentioned International Medical Teams.

The interview was reminiscent of my meeting at Noah's Bagels with Kimmerly, talking about OLPC and Darfur. In both cases, the goal was to remain headquartered in PDX, joining "away team" missions.

Razz made it through DEQ on her first try no problemo.

I'm heading into this conference on The Future of Friends, another Quarterly, like last year's. Don't expect a lot of blogging for the duration. M4B with Ron Marson expected.

I'm on tap through IEEE for giving a talk on Bucky at the Armory this fall, looking forward. I'm also picking up some new Python proteges for "piano lessons" (laptops are like musical instruments, more like guitars maybe?).