Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Break

Per my power lunch with Trevor, we're probably going to need to decorate Bucky a @creationist, a kind of war paint, given limited debating positions in Lower48, with "anti-reductionism" maybe too highfalutin for post Scopes Trial killer bees.

Any top-down synergism is creationist in that sense. Certainly there's an entry on teleology in Synergetics Dictionary, as like "voltage pressure". Likewise, Teilhard de Chardin, though friendly to fossils, happy to embrace Darwin, was not above a more Masonic "intelligent designer" world view, with an Omega in place of a G.

:: the tower ::
I'm on break from chauffeur duties for the Lindsey Walker Show, a private party at Duke's Landing, though we're not encouraging alcohol (BYOB is a right since the end of Prohibition) on the off chance there's still a way to repair the relationship with the neighbors. Zoning permits a street of dreams in SE Portland, but youth culture is traditionally repressed in post-Victorian societies. Portland is scarcely out of its Wild West years, has a long way to go in some dimensions.

30th and Belmont
Anyway that private party with 80 people staged by Babies with Rabies might've helped tip it in favor of the killjoys. OLCC looks for people stepping on the sidewalk with anything boozaholic. That's the name of the game, when they want to crack down. Duke's had its alcohol monitor, sure, but that wasn't enough to satisfy the referees in this case.

I'm learning a lot about the Wild West these days, am looking forward to Lindsey's playing. I've invited a bunch of people. Glenn, another Wanderer, is on his way over. She's a top talent though her loud edgy sound is not for everyone. Here's her latest circular on Bizmo Diaries.

I had a fine time with Tag recently although The Annex turned into a hoot and holler fest (some sports team, full of gusto). We wound up at Ringler's instead, much quieter. Our main order of business: help tune in the Arabic speaking blogosphere and, more important, look for NGOs wanting to make a difference in helping small businesses get going, jump start new careers in the arts, in design, in banking, in food services, health and education.

I'm steering her towards the next PPUG meeting, even if I'm to be at the Django conference. We have a lot of people at most of those meetings, perhaps from other world domination shops I'm still clueless about (I'm far from omniscient, even regarding geekdom here in Portland). What would it look like, to code Palestine on Rails? I should put her in touch with as well, to yak about Google App Engine solutions (Dr. Chuck a new Plaxo friend).

Quaker Dude

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wanderers 2009.8.27

I'd gotten some of the inside scoop from two of the returning crew at the potluck, however Jeff's projected pictures this morning added a whole new dimension. Sam's boat is quite commodious, although five pretty much packed it.

Jon Bunce joined us, in good form, and later Buzz. A lot of the talk was about music, early cartoons (including Disney's), and about Wikipedia.

One could invent a back story about this small co-op of good-hearted people, either selling out to, or having control seized by, some conglomerate that now censors the content out of rapaciousness and/or cowardice.

I offered an alternative back story: entrepreneurs suck down open source Wiki software but are competing with the likes of Britannica and can't afford to let the Wikipedia brand "go bad" because (for example) fringe ideologues capitalize on its "free and open source" nature to troll, spread FUD, trash talk and be obnoxious i.e. you've gotta set standards and enforce them to be taken seriously as an encyclopedia with backbone, and not just a hodgepodge of misleading misinformation.

We talked about the new "geezer teaser": talking heads of the Woodstock era, retrospecting. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

We also yakked about needing an appropriate buyer for Pauling Campus, an ally. I recycled some of my somewhat stale (or at least no longer novel) ideas, then came up with a fresh one, relating to aerospace. The Fuller School has all these plans for adapting technology in that sector for civilian shelter solutions, going back to Wichita house and before (the genesis of that 4D moniker, which I perpetuate with my 4D Solutions).

Whether or not this particular idea pans out isn't the real point I suppose. It's more just a sign of the times that we'd even consider reaching across ideological lines in this way.

Teddy Kennedy is being remembered on all networks today for his ferocity and commitment to worthy causes. His ability to bridge across chasms in our political landscape is what many think we're missing today and I see much reason for concern, although I think the White House is still pretty good at it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some Analysis

[from some email to an AFSC-friendly Quaker, hyperlinks added ]

Republicans are projected as big daddy richie rich figures to which rebellious teenager Democrats say "end the war" well knowing they will fail i.e. Republicans in power means keeping "the war" going.

But then when daddy Republican is in the back seat, Democrat teenagers stop thinking about the war and selfishly focus on domestic concerns like health care and recession, because they too need "the war" to keep going (for economic reasons).

In other words, neither the left nor the right applies any real brakes in this picture, because of that shared "we are a superpower" ideology (aka the Eisenhower-diagnosed "military-industrial complex", akin to mad cow).

This superpower complex (a "meme virus") is then acted out per "the sorrows of empire" as Chalmers Johnson puts it (mom organized a guest speaking event for him). The left and right appear to oppose one another, but really they're enablers of a common dysfunctional world model, a psychological disorder (WMBS?).

Again, welcome home to Portland,


Friday, August 21, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wanderers 2009.8.18

Spiral with Hat

Portland is having hot weather again. Tara gets to house sit in a place with some air conditioning, lucky devil, me invited, but I'm kicked back in the living room, home from Pauling House. Sarah the dog was earlier treating me like a salt lick in the desert, but is currently dreaming up a storm...

Great seeing Jon Bunce at Wanderers again, still recovering from some illness. Lynne Taylor swept through, changing our XY:XX ratio to like 10:1. Glenn, two Steves, Barry, Jeff, Don, Jon, me, Sam... most of them planning a boat trip starting Thursday.

I told a couple stories, had 'em rolling in the aisles (an idiom, don't really have aisles), drank some wine, left early, trying to get some work done.

I also shared the secret knowledge that Double Dog Dare for $2.88 is maybe better than so-called Two Buck Chuck ($2.99) from Trader Joe's. Sam commented he couldn't see himself buying wine at a Seven Eleven. He probably hasn't been to Gothenburg (Sweden), where that company has one the more upscale outlets. But then Gothenberg is kinda surreal in that way (Portlandia has a boyfriend there).

I did some writing about Python, posted about some new user groups I'd like to see, including in Baghdad (Iran has one already, as does Israel). The meeting at Fine Grind seemed productive. The idea is to prototype the international schools nearby, work the kinks out, then spread some of the lessons learned -- not a new model, although much of the technology is new.

I'm liking the School of Technology approach, need to reinstall Eclipse. The Jackalope is still down.

Monday, August 17, 2009

From the Album (summer 2009)

:: tara's vista (photo by elise) ::

:: jimmy lott ::

:: lindsey & tag ::

:: wilfp / pauling connection ::

Friday, August 14, 2009

Slogging On

The Pentagon
Google Earth

Hey, my rant below is talk of the town in some circles, got a report from Thirsters that my name was in the wind, easy to imagine Fred bellowing it, but I was not an eyewitness. I tend to steer clear of that group these days, for reasons I was explaining to Dr. Tag.

Up close and personal, I'm worried about Razz (8 year old Subaru Legacy AWD station wagon, stick shift), her "fender bender" pushing into "totaled" range according to the body shop doing the estimates, though I have a hard time accepting a car I bought used for over $13K from Dick Hannah would be worth only 4/3 of $5.7K already (i.e. $7.6K). Bluebook is $8-8.5K. I know if Farmer's cuts me a check for $7.6K (5.7 = 75% of 7.6) I'd not get a car nearly as cool. No frame damage [update:  there was some frame damage, from boulders underneath on driver side], just fenders and shit, bet like $85 at the factory for some of those pieces, but capitalism is nothing if not about markup (but then show me a system without markup -- lets talk turkey somewhere (not here)). Don't sharia-practicing camel dealers know the difference between retail and wholesale?

I'm liking that some US Army guy (Colonel Timothy R. Reese) came out in NYT calling for 100% withdrawal from Iraq by 2010. Takes guts, thanks dude. Neoliberals wanna push it back to 2011 so they can force a new verdict and maybe keep those "mega-bases" -- like maybe under John Kerry? Sure, they'll "feel guilty" about that post-911 spazz attack, but it's worth feeling guilty if the price is right. So I'm betting the so-called "wimpy left" (vs. the "hard left") will push to stay, by spinning our Army guy as "out of touch with the mainstream at the Pentagon" (neoliberals, like truckers, think they know all about what the Pentagon thinks, even if they don't know shit about phi).

I watched the spatter on MSNBC around health care on Olbermann again, followed by that smart chyk show, maybe catch her name next time (reminds me of Rowley) -- Rachel Maddow.

Hey, great that Dick Cheney is refocusing on "nuke tech as weaponry" in the hands of terrorists (by definition!) as a topic. That'll put some spine back into the debate maybe, though focusing on end of life care is a mature audiences topic (R rated). The shows I'm watching give it (mortality) a slightly comical spin, feels like a pain med of some kind. Thanks TV! Sometimes a prefrontal lobotomy is more healthful than a bottle in front of me -- especially if it's a Sony.

Tara is heading out of town again, though not to the high desert this time. We're fortunate to have so many ecosystems within easy driving range. Most kids in day care just get to sit in a boring classroom and read about the world in textbooks. Real schools take 'em to the field, out to various "mega-bases" to appreciate life not in the big city. Hang out with some overseas types, already self schooling with rancher families, learning to ride horses, far from a polluted homeland.

I get a kick outta these knee-jerk something-or-others (I lose track of which mirror image) decrying the Americorps brainwashing camps, saying the government shouldn't be mind- controlling our children (leave that to big pharma). A lot of these same families are all flag wavy around military bases, not seeing the connection.

That's why we need professionals sometimes: because the average civilian is getting by on two cylinders and we sometimes need all six (like in some military or paramilitary capacity ala LL or P-W (or even me, like in Santa Fe)). Without my Princeton brainwashing, I wouldn't be pure of heart enough to do "the Lord's work" as Mirsky put it, perpetuating my guru's lineage (talking about Ludwig Wittgenstein again, one of my heros, also a war vet).

On the brighter side, I'm looking forward to eyeballing some great Python today, new curriculum materials, not by me this time. Even I get tired of just talking to myself, or arguing with Frank Zubek about whether 24 Mites make a 1F or 2F cube. Working with other professionals is what keeps me going. Inspirational!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pelosi's War (Editorial)

Clearly the liberal Democrats have every intention of escalating in Afghanistan, per campaign promises to feed the war machine in that area. Of course the Republicans would have done the same, as both parties are rooted in congressional districts with mouths to feed and weaning oneself off the military-industrial tit is something neither party is prepared to engage in, at least not yet and not now ("there's always tomorrow" -- the big lie in politics, as sometimes it's too late (journalists know these as deadlines)).

Liberal Protestants are uncomfortable being in power, have a hard time seeing themselves that way, as "to protest" is to feel like a "power out" who "sucks up" to power. The neocons were more comfortable stridently asserting "we're it" (i.e. the best and the brightest, and in power to boot) whereas clearly they weren't, were just another nightmarish species of incompetent goon, another ideological experiment gone sadly awry.

So what does one do with a "superpower" out of control, with neither side into peace, justice or anything close? There's always the funding angle. Incentives to build schools, pave roads, civilian infrastructure, including right here in North America, could tempt some patriotic districts to participate in Operation Rebuild the USA versus the current Democracy at Gun Point (a first person shooter). Military personnel include many competent engineers, skilled teachers. We could use those skills and services, know-how around logistics, in a less self-destructive capacity.

Liberals have the weakest discourse because they profess to be "for peace" but mostly indulge in hypocrisy. We have no one in the streets. The huge troop levels in Iraq are not coming down. These are the same Bush Era policies but now the Party of Protest has majorities everywhere, so it's back to a more Clinton-like period, where poverty is allowed to fester at home, while the treasury is opened to corporate marauders intent upon cultivating a vast army of enemies overseas. Never mind neither Iraqis nor the Taliban had much if anything to do with 911. Explaining one's actions is not the goal here, simply business as usual, under whatever convenient pretense or cover.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Urban Edibles


I'm here at Backspace with Michael, Mark, Laura, Rick and Lindsey, these latter three forming The Good Bye Party when operating as a band (I'm hoping to catch a rehearsal later).

Rick and Laura bicycle everywhere (I saw them zipping by on August 6), so weren't able to answer the two touristy questions we got between here and where we parked: one about the Max, one about the bus. Rick is from Chicago, has only been in Portland for about six months. He visited Seattle for the first time just recently.

I used the morning to polish my blog post on Education Planning, make some followup contacts. I'm also still quite active on the new Wittgenstein list, published a seven point Wittgenstein for Dummies (not!) [1][2].

In the car on the way over (I'm the designated driver today), Lindsey yakked about her food coop syndicate, brokering subscribers, providers and distributors. She's obviously given the matter some thought. I found myself thinking about Andy Cross and Barb Frank, their small urban farm. We used to be subscribers, but fell out of the habit. We occasionally buy fresh produce during social hour at the Quaker meetinghouse, from whomever brings it in.

On the PSF list, Guido is reminding us that Pycon, though not designed to rake it in necessarily, can't keep running at a loss either, unless subsidized to do so (not the current model). I've been pushing a "more bang for the buck" model for corporate sponsoring members, who might up the ante in exchange for real results. Here's a link to some of my verbiage to that list.

So Lindsey and I are just getting up to speed on Mark's data model ( Getting to the Django admin interface in Cygwin on Windows required: using my already-installed Mercurial to clone the Urbanedibles source code, downloading and installing Django, using Cygwin's setup to grab Vim and Sqlite3, running Django's syncdb, then runserver.

Result: I've got the the admin interface in my FireFox web browser at

Lindsey got there at about the same time, doing these steps on Mac OSX. We're both becoming commiters on this project, though I have nothing to commit from this meeting (too busy blogging). Lindsey worked with Mark on some changes to the data model, is in the process of merging and committing those changes.

Here's an excerpt from the data model, under active development:

class EdibleType(models.Model):
common_name = models.CharField(max_length=200)
formal_name = models.CharField(max_length=200)
edibility = models.IntegerField()
# region / Climate zone.
Season_info = models.CharField(max_length=1*1024)
# media location for photo
ident_info = models.CharField(max_length=2*1024)
harvesting_info = models.CharField(max_length=2*1024)
prep_info = models.CharField(max_length=2*1024)
preserving_info = models.CharField(max_length=2*1024)
med_use = models.CharField(max_length=2*1024)
warnings = models.CharField(max_length=1*1024)
def __unicode__(self):
return self.common_name

My contribution to the meeting was to suggest thinking of a calendar interface for a given fruit tree, such that the user could enter "first three weeks in August" in perpetuity, so said tree does not appear other times of the year. Everything operates on a schedule no?

This is just a big scheduling application letting users yak about resources they're at liberty to share about. In addition to time coordinates, we need space coordinates. Michael has actually thought this through in some detail. Cyclists might report a tree or bush with fruit on it, with default seasonal data coming from lookup tables i.e. if it's not your tree, you may not want to commit the time data, but those fields probably shouldn't go blank.

Regarding space info, the way it works now is the street address goes against a server for lat/long. People relying on cell phones often get the lat/long off the tower, which could be off by miles, while paying for real GPS makes your battery burn faster. I didn't know that, don't have an iPhone.

Another dimension, besides time and space, is risk. If these are wild dandelions, perhaps they've been sprayed with toxins? Does a mean dog live nearby? Is tree climbing involved? Definitely we'll need pictures, if not videos, and Mark is currently working on these media aspects of the data model.

I'm glad to be having a real Django app to sink my teeth into, complete with Mercurial code sharing. I'd been trying to wean one of my main clients off a 30 year old obsolete / dying research system costing an arm and a leg in favor of running Django against Postgres, got myself thrown overboard instead given the twisted politics of that place. I'm signed up for DjangoConf in September.

The Providence Bridge Pedal was earlier today. I'm surprised Suzanne didn't go; I'd mulled over joining her and Larry -- then TinkerBell got swiped. Chris, on Keiko's team, had his new Powerbook stolen from Fine Grind, causing deeper pain than mine. Security cams have since been installed but that's not gonna solve the problem of rotted ethics. Advice: watch that laptop, or have a friend keep watch (post a guard); don't turn your back for long unless you're sure this is a fully trusted environment.

Tomorrow Razz goes to the body shop, c/o Farmer's Insurance. Even though my company took a dive in FY2009, I've kept up with those premiums, praise Allah. I'm even covered for a rental from Enterprise.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Walking with Walker

Lindsey and I met @ Pauling House for a stroll around Sunnyside, mostly between Hawthorne and Belmont. We checked out Movie Madness, but both of us were into to saving our pennies. I eyed the gum machine ($0.25), thought the better of it.

Her work at Bike Farm is gradually materializing the self-contained bicycle with trailer rig, for transporting the Yamaha in a colorful branded waterproof bag. This would take her to Good Bye Party gigs, rehearsals in progress. The bike itself actually comes from a garden.

I shared about Kerala, followed up with some links. Here's a niche market where civilians do pretty well for themselves (could do better of course) by applying their native smarts. We also talked about peak oil, some of the distopian prophesies floating around. I think Americans specialize in apocalyptic visions, a lot like the English in that way (the Christian influence?).

Whenever Portlanders sound too cocky, it pays to think of such "more with less" places. Neither of us was feeling that cocky though. This economy is a bummer. We're likely eligible for food stamps, though I haven't signed up for 'em (should cancel Netflix first).

On the good news front, Oregon's Newport is slated to become a federal research center into matters maritime, fits with cleaning out those old nets (underwater and deadly). We're also on track to become one of Nissan's electric car testing zones (front page story today).

Lindsey's strong baritone and edgy production values have people asking for more. She's being generous with her public appearances, as one must be at the outset of a new career (she'd been into servicing company aircraft, from a back office IT angle in Savannah), but I expect will see more studio time down the road. Jimmy Lott might have some pointers (another neighbor and friend).

I'm hoping to produce some kind of event at the Multnomah Meetinghouse on October 2nd, around issues that matter to young people. To me, that means amplified music and I'm hoping Lindsey's emerging connections in several venues, including in Portland's FOSS culture, will help me, a boomer-geezer (and by extension ISEPP) stay connected with the thirty-somethings and younger.

Movie Madness Guy
:: @ movie madness ::

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Drug Wars

I'm finding Law Enforcement Against Prohibition to be doing far more effective PR than NPYM Quakers in their 2008 minute on this topic.

The NPYM Quakers urge decriminalizing marijuana use but still want to prosecute growers and sellers.
We also call for decriminalization of drug use and possession, though not production or sale, in order to end the injustice...
How is that consistent (or just) I wonder?

MJ should already be legally available by now, through any OLCC certified outlet. End Prohibition.

Treat minors differently sure (we already do), by teaching good health habits in school (anyone doing that, in our Fast Food Nation?).

In general I'm concerned that Quakers have dumbed themselves down to become just another sect of bland Protestant (blech). Lets hope they snap out of it.

We're suffering from a "high geezer quotient" in PNW Quaker circles.

The boomers have grown into 1950s style Good Doobies (aka Squares), a tiresome breed inheriting from those teacuppy Victorians.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Iranian Festival

Iranian Festival
:: iranian festival, portland, oregon ::

Twas my privilege this afternoon to throng with Greater Portland's Iranian community, got some baklava and iced tea at the Intel booth, listened to music, wandered around taking pictures. I didn't know anyone there, plus was involved in trip planning by cell, talking high desert. That didn't keep me from taking it all in though.

Yes, Iranian politics is complicated and I know better than to just jam my finger into working machinery going "what's this?" or, even worse, "do that!". Probably Portland mirrors a lot of the attitudes, so I could assemble a more accurate picture over time, but that would require knowing more of these people and I didn't see a single person I recognized the entire time, which surprised me a little.

Speaking of who gets to talk about what, I got into this game of one-upmanship with this guy on Synergeo with relatives in the service. We were putting our cards on the table as to which of us had more street cred:
He: I wore a US uniform fighting forest fires, been in firefights. Nuff said.

Me: I used to dress up as KGB in the USSR, but no one knew that's what I was doing, as I disguised myself as an American tourist traveling with family. Fun pulling the wool over their eyes in this way.
OK, so that's just crazy talk (not that I was lying exactly, having been through Moscow that time), but such is the uncontrolled banter on that list, lots of yakking about wild animals and sea life as well. Wanderers and students of Synergetics have a lot in common I sometimes suppose.