Friday, December 28, 2012

A Heady Xmas

Xmas 2012

Scholarship has been in overdrive around here.  I mentioned to Carol about the Business Plot, of which she had not heard, and that sent her careening through the record for several hours, looking for actual names.  She found a 1999 account that seemed more complete.  That was the failed coup attempt against FDR, never really out of the planning stage.  She'd been reading about FDR thanks to some Bob Smith library books we got through the meeting.  Seeing the film with Bill Murry playing FDR was a logical consequence (Hyde Park on Hudson).

We (Carol and I) also went to The Hobbit in IMAX 3D.  I wasn't sure she'd have that option in Whittier, where she's soon to return, and she needs to see it again anyway, for dialog, as the hearing aid makes a difference.  That, and my subsequent reading about "the making of" led me to post about Middle Earth Physics on Synergeo.  This in complement to my enjoying yakking with physics teachers.  There's been some bleed-across vis-a-vis math-teach, in terms of membership and topic, but that's all to the good I'm supposing.

Friend Robert has been nudging us to research more about Quaker attitudes towards the Yule time celebrations, originally perceived as unwelcome and alien among those outside the Latin sphere.  He quoted a diary of a Swedish tourist in Philly, 1749.  Yep, "Romanish" holidays were considered worthy of concerted inattention, in narrative deliberately contradicting the dominant culture's, another counter-cultural tradition.  Strong eddies around Xmas remain even today.

For my part, I continued with the Quaker animism theme, allowing Sarah-the-dog to run freely about the social hall (not the first dog in that building), while Tara and I helped Food Not Bombs with the Tuesday serving (Xmas Day, December 25).  SkyBlue-the-trailer got hauled in as well.

We celebrated Mike Hagmeir's birthday, "we" being Heather, myself, Mr. Ryan and Michael.  That was my first time to try Pacific Pies and then Bushwhackers, which specializes in ciders.  I stayed late at the latter to read more Unbearable Truths, a Quaker pamphlet on my reading list.  The topic of Quakers and slavery remains a focus, along with some queries:
  1. how do holders of nuclear weapons enslave humanity? and 
  2. how is slavery still practiced?
Regarding (1), the burden of cleanup and safekeeping marks a lower bound for the headaches i.e. were it only so that leaking radio-toxins were our only worry.  Regarding (2): in many ways, but enslaving future generations to clean up past messes counts as imposing a kind of involuntary servitude.

Much other family business has been going on but it was never my intention to document every coming and going.  My thanks to Lucy's family for hosting Tara on Xmas Eve (our night for The Hobbit, first of three).

Lindsey's kraut-making projects are worthy of coverage in National Geographic.  Carol is off with Barbara today on some WILPF adventure.  Wanderers have remained active.  I need to get that third bid on fixing the office back to HQS.  Shortly, I'll need to return to queue-slaying (I'm enjoying a short vacation at this time).

Mom thought Murray's FDR was too much the dirty old man and seemed to side with reviewers who insisted Daisey and Franklin had a more Victorian relationship.  I'm not about to weigh in as my memories of the political / public sphere begin with the memorial service for JFK on the Ryan family's television.

Those who actually experienced FDR (including over the radio) have their memories and hallucinations (waking dreams, imaginings).  We reserve "hallucination" for mistaking the unreal for the real, but  then ordinary daydreaming is full of made up projections.  Mom just realized she'd been picturing the Whittier Starbucks whenever I announced I was returning a bag to the one on Hawthorne (for a free 12 oz coffee).

We should admit that "reality" has a strong hallucinatory component of necessity, as we're forced to speculate in the absence of omniscience.  The J. Edgar movie had that as a theme.  He might have been involved in the Business Plot in some way.

At the cider place I used my Android to Google up images of Santa Claus owing to Coca-Cola's PR.  That company did a lot to anchor Christmas in the sugar-filled world of North America.  Sweets in winter make some sense when you're not just sitting around watching Netflix.  From my email to Robert and Friends:
PS:  I am personally not righteously bitter or angry about Xmas
celebrations and/or its commercialization, and as a former denizen of
Rome have a lot of appreciation for its imperial ways, which are not
unlike those of today's liberals, eager to include everyone in one big
happy family (pax Romana and pax Americana aren't wholly unrelated
(cited for the picture more than the text).  I don't give Catholics
all the credit though.  Our modern Santa has everything to do with
Coca-Cola company PR (ongoing, in theaters today).  This year we
mostly did Hanukkah with friends (when presents happened), foregoing
the tree and presents on Dec 25.  I do like the manger scene because
it celebrates non-humans (animals) in this space of innocence.  My
ritual around that was to let our dog freely roam around the lower
floor of the Quaker meetinghouse on Xmas, as Tara and I helped Food
Not Bombs prepare for an Xmas day serving downtown.  Sarah is clean
and has no fleas, thanks to vet visits.  I'm a "Quaker animist" in
that sense (I harbor a religious appreciation for nonhumans, including
any ETs).
Of course having Tara around is a chief joy of the season, Carol as well as she wouldn't usually be here this late into winter, right through to the next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wanderers 2012.12.18

Eric Lindstrom

Don tells me Trish recruited this guest as a speaker and I should take her as a role model.  I'd been in the doghouse before, as some of my invited speakers had proved a bit shocking to our more shockable members, or maybe they'd been too religious or not religious enough...  In any case I'm happy to take Trish as a role model.  She and Eric knew each other from Apollo College, and by now I know both as excellent teachers, not run of the mill.

Eric, whom I was just meeting, has transformed himself into an urban ecologist with a focus on metropolitan creeks.  "Creek" is a lovely word evoking images of forests and wild animals, whereas the reality is more like in Spirited Away:  polluted drainage paths for industrial / human effluents.  "Preserving wetlands" was diametrically opposite what these earlier earth movers had in mind.  A manicured and paved industrial utopia, unmarred by pre-existing nature, would push creeks into culverts and underground pipes.

Eric isn't a raving "need to make a trail everywhere" guy, even though he spends a lot of time wading in creek beds and getting his hands dirty.  He's been a Marine, a photographer, a college teacher, an administrator.  He has good people skills and stays fit clambering around Fanno Creek.  His urging us to join him in exploring our watershed regions, as planners, systems students, Wanderers or whatever, was sincere.  He knows, as does Brian, another ecologist, that actual contact with the ecosystems in question makes a difference.  They need human friends in high places.  Ecotrust had the same teaching.

Ideally this'd be a book review of Up Fanno Creek, but I only just bought it last night and haven't really gotten into it yet.  I have Wittgenstein & Psychoanalysis in the queue, thanks to the Study Circle.  But when I patted my pockets for it later (it's a smallish book), all I got were dim memories of maybe having filed it on the "time capsule" (art decor hemi-cylindrical book shelves, home of a Wittgenstein collection).  A careful inspection, book by book, yielded nothingness and angst.  I did some backtracking with a flashlight but ended up ordering a new copy.  So Up Fanno Creek jumps to the front of the line then, along with From Peace to Freedom, Quaker Rhetoric and the Birth of American Antislavery, 1657 - 1761 by Brycchan Carey.

I ran into Trish earlier in the parking lot, as she was out shopping with her teenage son and his friend.  Carol got to come to this too, enjoying her newer smaller O2 tank, B size (she's till post-pneumonia).  Given Jack was a land use planner, and a huge maps fan like Eric, we both thought of him a lot.  Mom is now experimenting with my Kindle, reading Human Smoke.

A Study of Fanno Creek

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Occupy Unmasked (movie review)

This analysis piece, by Citizens United, strives to make sense of the Occupy movement in the terms of the Cold War.

America's enemies, i.e. capitalism's enemies, manipulate the unwitting, especially students, and collaborate with a more criminal underground, to mount a domestic challenge to the rule of law.

Traitor democrats tend to be sympathetic to these leftist movements, whereas true patriots understand the true dimensions of the global enemy.

The analysis is somewhat insular in that it excludes much if any mention of so-called Arab Spring and the spread of protest movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran and so forth.  Parallels are drawn to the 1960s and 1930s, keeping the history more a domestic one, not a global one.

These are the same hippies and Black Panthers and labor movements that brought down Nixon and stopped the Vietnam War from continuing.  Behind the scenes, it's the SEIU (a union) and people who like Fidel Castro.

Certainly Occupy people include some angry citizens.  The phenomenon of camps and camping echoes the Hooverville Era and the Business Plot chapter, starring Smedley Butler et al.  The number of military vets and their importance within Occupy was somewhat bleeped over by this movie.

More from my point of view (disclosing my own bias):
Some rogue government had hit the gas pedal and sent us careening over a cliff, invading Iraq on false pretenses and in ways many of the principals would acknowledge were in error.  The same pressure on the gas pedal was being felt again, this time against Iran.

Occupy was not so much a lunge toward some utopian future as a slamming on of the brakes.  The level of brokenness needed to be dramatized.  The people (99%) were not seeing eye to eye with their would-be rulers (1%).  The level of discontent needed to be demonstrated.
I saw some of my friends and associates in the Portland segments.  Lindsey is in the scene with Michael Moore, then touring Camp Alpha.  Troy, who used to be with Duke's Landing, makes repeated appearances.

The term "community organizer" is given a negative spin by the writers.  A "community organizer" is a behind the scenes mastermind who manipulates pawns.  Obama was and is a community organizer.

Saul D. Alinsky is also singled out for special treatment as one of the top / most influential activists behind these lefties.  Hillary Clinton did her thesis on him.

The problem of aggressive males feeling able to rape with impunity, other socio-pathic behaviors, is endemic to crowded unpoliced settings such as the Occupy camps.  The Occupy camps were similar to refugee camps in some ways.  Providing sane and sanitary camping situations as a kind of base line:  Occupy Portland was experimenting in that direction, but the public restrooms failed to keep up, as Portland the City was not participating wholeheartedly.

In my view, Occupy camps were a fertile recruiting ground and good hands-on experience in logistics i.e. providing food, shelter and educational experiences.  The camp had a generator.  However, the cycle of life was not complete.  As a camp, we were only partially established.  More experiments to come, and, we hope, a better life for refugees (wanderers) around the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Keynote

I didn't get to attend this event, in Germany. Lag times might be too great, vis-a-vis my work responsibilities. Family responsibilities. More travel would be good though. There's a Lufthansa right from PDX, or was. Suzanne got to go.

When he got back though, to HQS, he was eager to share his keynote, already transcribed to Youtube. Synchronofile was at the showing as well. This was Steve's first night back. Cigars at Greater Trumps / McMenamins were to follow.

I'm somewhat pleased that "social media" has met up with "networking software" such that "social engineers" are now an obvious reality, and yet the capitalists can't complain, because these engineers work for businesses that trade in the stock markets. What's more capitalist than Facebook? So the old oppositional categories, old polarities, break down (lose their charge) as the dialectic marches on. "New synthesis ho!" -- a new world sighted, or world order or whatever.

More gradations, more of a spectrum, that's often what you need, when reforming an institution. Up the frequency, make more tracks, add more options. There's another reformist tendency that wants to starve, which quickly translates into "punish" and all the justifications that go with. Suddenly you're surrounded by undeserving criminals. The multiplier reformist is just as Darwinian, one could argue, as nature often counters dire straits with multifarious malarkey.

Take nationalism for example. Say you're not a nationalist, in the sense of thinking the nation state system is the bee's knees. Look how many it left out, how many nationless, and how many stuffed into nations of poor design, sham nations, created just to be tidy on the maps, not leave space unaccounted for. One could try to wipe the world clean of these monsters, these decrepit clawing things, or one could flood the world with new nationettes, tiny nations, virtual nations, naughty nations, clown nations, whatever.

A given company is like a network, like a nation. It has culture, lore, lineage. Blurring nations and companies is interesting. Might a company be democratic? Quakers have a fun time fitting into business law as non-profit institutions. Their domestic partnerships might flip to business law also. A company with a democratic constitution might provide a process for self government. Python Nation, the PSF. Nation? We have a dictator, a chairman... or a company? Or neither? Or both? Nagarjuna where are you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Celebrating Mary Bolton

We gathered at the West Hills Unification Church today, in celebration of Mary Bolton.  Carol and I represented the Urner family.

Chuck and Mary first met my dad, Jack, at the University of Chicago and were struck by his quiet manner and good looks.  Chuck, also getting his PhD at the time, had accepted a teaching job at the University of Colorado, and Mary decided to team up with him, as his wife, rather than pursue her Masters in race relations, the passion which got her there.

Mary's dad was a Rosecrucian and egalitarian, and role modeled feeding the hungry, mostly hobos passing through Yakima, Washington on trains in those days.  Mary grew up in Yakima, before moving to the big city of Seattle.

Later, when Mary was working on race relations in Davis, California where Chuck was teaching (Davis had only one black family at the time) she struck up a correspondence with my mother in Portland, where Jack and Carol had moved after Chicago.

Carol was involved with Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) whereas dad was a city planner for the city.  When Mary and Dr. Bolton moved to Portland, they were surprised to find Carol's husband was that same Jack Urner who'd impressed them at the university.

When my parents packed up their worldly goods in Bangladesh, many decades later, and began touring in the US, I accompanied them, from Dhaka to Portland.  I'd been kicking around on the east coast since Princeton, but on returning to Portland in 1985, I decided this was where I wanted to be and the Boltons graciously allowed me to move into their basement, where I stayed for some months.

I eventually found work and moved to Hollywood, one of our neighborhoods, to live with Janet and Greg and their boy Ethan, and later joined by their daughter Rachael.

From then on I was included in many Bolton family events and rituals, such as the annual WILPF Christmas party and the annual Easter egg hunt.  My wife Dawn became a part of this family as well, as well as Alexia and Tara.

Mary and Chuck had invested in some land on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge, opposite Hood River, and built a humble yet comfortable two-story "cabin" there.  Dawn and I went there on our honeymoon, and Tara was born nine months later.

In a subsequent chapter, I helped them find a buyer for this cabin and property using my Internet skills, though without doing the work of an actual real estate agent (Chuck did the actual paper work, for sale by owner).

My early awareness of this family, long before the Portland basement chapter, goes back to Italy.  Dr. Bolton took a sabbatical from Portland State in the coastal town of Positano.  We visited them and they visited us in Rome.  This was the 1960s.

Their girls were still very young then, as was I and my sister.  Gael, Sue and Jeanni were and are my generational contemporaries.  We have had children of our own.  Some of our children have had children.  Great grand kids were present at the service.

Chuck later visited us in Bhutan, which Mary eschewed because of altitude sickness.

The church was packed with folks.  I sat next to Tom Gihring, husband of Celene.  I was pleased to meet their two boys again, now both fully grown adults.  Maureen was there as well, with her adult sons.

Mary had a lot of fans and well wishers.  Hello to dear Eileen, Vivian, Sonya and many others.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Portland Logo

:: posted from Greater Trumps, Bagdad / McMenamins :: 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cloud Atlas (movie review)

Good literature provides many doorways in and out, this movie no exception.  I'm not dismissing or dispatching a movie in "reviewing" it.  That doesn't mean "always behind me" as if there's no more this work has to teach.  I'm not saying that at all.  Like Being There, I keep going back to it.  Movies can haunt one.

I've been a Halle Berry fan from the beginning, sort of making fun of myself in the process.  Tom Hanks, great actor.  These are contemporaries.  Jane Fonda is part of it (no, she's not in this movie).  We shared a time.  These were celebs I grew up with.

Where I want to go with this movie is here: instead of spreading it way out in time, lets yak about "from one day to the next".  The masks stay the same to some degree but isn't it like "another lifetime" between chapters.  Your own life is like this movie, in having its "same people" but not quite.

Connecting to an earlier viewing, same theater, days before:  karma is conservation of momentum.  In the namespace of this movie, we could add.

The preview was about Lincoln, the upcoming Spielberg rendering.  I've been reading up on the Civil War on my own, not because I knew about this movie.  Meaning I was primed to see the theme of slavery in New Seoul.  Beyond slavery, to utter parisitism.  I've been studying intra-Quaker dialog around that time.  Abolitionists were known as "immediatists" and "comer outers".  The good old boy Quakers were more like "we'll get around to it, it's not like you tell us what to do".  Not that they owned slaves themselves by this time (they'd divested over a generation or two) but they didn't want to be seen as "anti-gummint" and "the gummint" was saying slaves was A O K.

What keeps the movie watchable is it rewards on many levels, including with good humor.  There's a happy Hobbit House flavor to some of the comic interludes ("It's People!").  The eye candy is good.  It occasionally hits a B-movie sweet spot that says "yes I know I'm an illusion" which for this audience works great.

I stumbled out of the theater to a text message reminding me of a friendly gathering I could be at.  I was led to go and hopped off the 4 with a realistic plan.  But then my GPS system confused me by moving the dot in response to the entered house number, persuading me my original plan was bogus.  I hopped back on the 4 (another one) and, after a shopping-for-mom interlude, took the 14 to what in my imagination might be "Fosterville".  It wasn't, and the party was nowhere near.  I was in a dark neighborhood with no good excuse, but not a dangerous neighborhood, as really nobody cared.

Anyway, back to the movie, this was proposed as a kick-off media event for a new Quaker group I'm attending.  Instead of all reading some book and yakking about it, we all watch a film or video.  But just as people may read alone or in small groups, so may we not all see the movie as a gaggle.  It's not like you'll see a whole posse of Quakers walking in to Seven Psychopaths.  That'd probably empty the theater as too strange.  Not that we'd all dress alike or anything...

Great epic science fiction, something I think the 1950s science fiction writers would have really appreciated, some of them still around.  Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein... that long list of pioneering contributors to graphic novels, comic books, full on prose, all in confluence with anime / manga in retrospect, with Japan suddenly a great hub for science fiction.  Korea too of course, not trying to play favorites too hard.  Earthians.

I don't think the animals changed a lot over the span of this film.  The people had some, but they were pretty recognizable.  In H.G. Wells and other places the frame goes so far forward that we're dealing with a rather different cast of creatures.  That could be right here on Earth.  Like by the end of AI.

True, the fabricants were the living sex dolls who maybe took over later?  I may have missed some things the book version explains.  That all these worlds tightly fit together was not so important to me that night, although I did notice the music house and the lock away house were the same building.  Some of the players had me fooled.

The guy on my left, probably older, was pulling out his cell phone and I was filled with annoyance.  Yes it's a 2 hour and 44 minute film.  That's long.  I think he was perplexed and using his phone for orientation.  Stern Quaker that I am, I thought about balling him out and pounding his cell phone under my heel but of course that's all meditative AVP imagery, as I had no intention of shifting my weight.  I simply got back to the story with Hale Berry and somewhat forgot he existed.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Election Night 2012

I was reminiscing with Suzanne about Election Night 2008, when I descended to a subterranean vault, cut off from media, with a gaggle of engineers and their families, lay people.

Portland Center Stage had canceled the performance in the main theater, given an inability to compete with the Election Night circus, but the Bucky play people had a different idea:  lets woo engineers, give 'em a special invitation and free IEEE lecture by Kirby.  This demographic is likely enough to fill the theater, even on such a momentous evening.

The plan worked, plus we had plenty of access to media during intermission.  Upon emerging from the vault, the race had been called.

Last night was a little different.  I had some really spicy foods with a friend (Cibo's last time), foods a biased person might say were "unAmerican" (e.g jellyfish -- as if McDonalds set the standard), but there's nothing unAmerican about Chinese American.

I was more than tongue in cheek about suggesting some collaboration around railroads in North America.  Yes, there's lots of history there, not all of it pleasant.  We would study that.  Future work on railroads is more for academic credit than in the old days.  You might get a history degree, while keeping those triceps less flabby, or a systems science degree (so many trajectories).

Dinner conversation ranged through many topics but I found myself strangely attracted to some Quaker threads I've been exploring.  The new gigabytes include a documentary on the Bonus Army, which connects to Smedley "fighting Quaker" Butler and the Business Plot.

As I was telling Wanderers even later that same evening, I need to dig up Human Smoke (the book).  Quakers play a starring role in this history, as hoping to prevent a war it seemed just about everyone wanted.  How can people spoil for death and mayhem?  That's a "gateway question" into the Jungian world of AVP and the unity of opposites.

Quakers are respectful of the power of archetypes (like Tantrics in that way).  We speak of "outward weapons" knowing that connotes "inward weapons" in complement.  Where there are weapons, there are connotations of war, like smoke goes with fire.  A war with inward weapons is variously named PsyWar, Lambs War, Jihad... Dharma depending who's on the other end of the line.

A new mattress for Carol is on order.  Her bed is electric / adjustable, but is not a hospital bed.

Lindsey was in a reflective mood when I came back from Wanderers, listening to election results on FM radio.  That Washington State, right over the bridge, had legalized gay marriage and more adult access to ingestable hemp products proved that Canadian thinking was encroaching southward.

Oregon is "the south" of the Pacific Northwest, according to a well placed analyst.

When it comes to hemp, illegality amounts to funding for public sector jobs and higher prices to growers both.  Some of California's bigger growers are afraid of change on the same score.  Who wants to jeopardize the market value of a major cash crop?  Drug lords profit from Drug Wars (a truism) at the expense of everyone else sometimes.  Prohibition means full prisons and prison labor.

The Chinese should boycott anything tainted with US prison labor behind it, as a WTO violation.  The AFL/CIO should get on board with that one.  Prison labor anywhere is a threat to labor everywhere.

Gay marriage is an easy extension of the boilerplate and adds business for lawyers and divorce courts, more reality television.

Straying from the nuclear model (two partners) is harder in "dom rel" and I've suggested more feasible in business law (households as "companies").  The conservative evangelicals have a lot more interest in alternative "Biblical lifestyles" so the "company of companions" model is less likely to prove as culturally divisive as gay marriage is/was.

I agree with Ashton that literate adults have more leeway these days to hammer out their own agreements, not taking all their cues from boilerplate.  Kids will need more anthropological and sociological savvy to describe their households during Show & Tell (lightning talks).

Teasing junior because he has two dads and one mom won't seem so rewarding when there's no taint of scandal or closeted skeletons.   Best to look for other buttons to push then (junior's lunch box sure looks dumb).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Old Pipes

One of the technologies I half expected, that didn't materialize to much degree (yet), was the DwellingMachine or JavaDome (programmed in Java).  No, it wouldn't have to be a dome.

Stewart Brand is happy to see most timeline hours spent swept up in some city, a concentration of humans that's relatively easy to feed and doesn't sprawl out all over the place.  That would leave more absolute wilderness for the pure nature lovers.

You really could still get away from it all and, more to the point "it all" could be more free of you and your impacts.  Those "sapiens" (self named) created radio-toxins in signature quantities and that last a long time.

Patrick has volunteered to saw into my pipes so we can snake them from a different angle.  I find myself whining about the lack of home optic equipment for snaking pipes.  The gizmos are still too expensive to buy at Home Depot.  Maybe rent?  Anyway, I'd like to see what I'm up against.

In that Other Tomorrow wherein people were smarter and cared more for one another, we would have all those pipes in the DwellingMachine docs.  You'd have lots of diagrams and could grow up studying house wiring / internals, getting a sense of the aerospace level technology that we'd be applying.

Our homes would be made by Boeing and like that (companies you've never heard of).  We'd be at peace enough, like on Star Trek, to be able to focus on civilian dreams.  The big extravaganza killing of ourselves as "extras" (to some egos for sure), would be getting people imagining a brighter future for themselves.  Smart houses would arrive.

This Jetsons-like reality was not really to be, though in other ways it was.

My wood frame home was built in 1905 and if an upgrade were done to make it more of a "node" (the Blue House has some institutional responsibilities, helps with various series shall we say, like manga and/or anime, we would want to treat the old wood with respect.

An Art Deco layer was added, the hemi-cylindrical bookshelves and black tile fireplace, flush to the wall (no mantle).  Then came the 1950s steel countertop Diner look, with vinyl surfaces (walls and ceiling).  We still have this, in light pink and blue, yellow and white.  What the throwback.

The place where Patrick would cut is already sawed out.  It's not like there's no flow at all, just that it's somewhat microscopic.  The smart thing would probably be to... we'd have the CSN architect-engineers keeping themselves busy.

City codes need to be respected.  We're not zoned to be a commercial TV studio and that's not what I'm suggesting.  More turnover and throughput maybe, as more houses came on-line.  Students are always coming and going in the Global U.  We could ramp it up slowly.

Congratulations to Cleveland High School for the sweep at Willamette University, far and away ahead of the pack.  That school is a phenomenon and Tara helped stir the pot, in starting the team, now objectively Oregon's best -- but I say that only to encourage rivals to have their own surprising successes.

Gonzo writes:
We finished October with a first time Overall Sweepstakes Award at Willamette University by a huge margin.  Most of the 26 schools finished with between 20 and 40 points.  A few reached 70. Lincoln and Sprague just broke 100.  The [Cleveland] Cannibals earned 187 points.
These debates could become more international in flavor.  Not model UN, not model NATO.  Other formats.  Invent them.  Watching really thought out debates is educational.  There've been some communications barriers to overcome.

The fantasy of an overhaul of this dwelling unit thanks to some education-related scenario, is an old theme in these blogs.  Lots of near future believable science fiction weaves in and out, creating some just around the corner feelings.

That's a common technique in writing, and in life, and beats always painting bleak pictures, landscapes drained of much hope.  This idea of some obviously good things happening is always appealing.

Humans feel drawn to improve their own lot, versus wallowing in despair.  Fuller attributed to Einstein, in his mind a great philosopher-scientist (mine too), the tug of longing versus fear.   That's a really important axis about which the world turns, thought Bucky, and I tend to agree.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Circuit Designs

What's somewhat ungainly about Quakers is membership in the global community is usually through one's local meeting.  You join a local chapter (they're not called that) to become a recorded member of the Religious Society of Friends.

That may sound fine on paper but what of the discontinuities?  You may feel called to Quakerdom, but in your mind that means a proudly isolated esoteric lineage that might not even be Christian (which you feel good about, Christendom being violent, perhaps unsalvageable).  Ah, but the local meeting would never accept a heathen-pagan like you.  Fat chance you'll ever get to join the Religious Society through any "door" within a radius of five hundred miles, not with those beliefs.

Likewise, what happens if you're already a member of the Religious Society but then either get disowned by your meeting, or you resign because of changes in local policies.

All of a sudden, your unprogrammed meeting gets the itch to go pastoral, and the chairs get rearranged.  You feel plenty alienated and promptly resign, but not because you want to separate from Quakers as a whole.  You just can't abide this local change in flavor.

Some groups in Indiana do things around water that would scare the bejeezus out of so-called Liberal Friends.  So what if you're hungry to join FGC style Quakers, or College Park Association descendents (Bean, Brinton... Hoover) and there's no branch of that type in your area?  Up a creek without a paddle?

I might propose the term Limbo Quakers for those caught with no Monthly Meeting, for one reason or another.  Disownment, resignation, or never achieving clearness in the first place, on the part of the meeting maybe, could all be reasons for remaining a Limbo Friend.  Your meeting was not ready for your "relationship" or your "family".

Like on American Dad:  there's an ET in that family, what does the Bible say about ETs?  Can ETs become Quakers?  No human being is illegal (AFSC's contention), so all aliens must be legal aliens, unless they're not human.

There's a Catch-22 in all this.  Someone is convinced they're a Quaker of exactly the type described in the Faith and Practice of meeting X, but meeting X is far away, and one of the criteria for membership in meeting X is geographic proximity.  You need to participate in the life of the meeting, get to know the folks, before they welcome you with open arms.  There's a process.  But you need to be there.

Suppose a family moves close to meeting X (like choosing a school district) precisely to access the Religious Society through this chosen front door, only to relocate back to wherever?

And there's no friendly meeting where they go back to.

Must they surrender membership in meeting X then?  Not usually.  Hand-offs are to friendly meetings.  Limbo Quakers are left alone, as "isolated Friends".

That doesn't mean local Quakers are unfriendly (though it may).  It might mean there simply aren't any local Friends.

Friends are obscure, especially the non-pastoral variety (are they even Christian? -- it's not all or nothing).  Why should there be Friends locally?  It's not a given.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bluetooth Connection

The connection is slow, however it's a milestone for me.  The Droid brick kindly lent me by Steve Holden was the first in its series.  I re-upped with Verizon with a newer brick, a Razr / M, and now have it tethered, so I can tap into my blog with the Mac Air.

Widmer Brewery on Interstate (not an inter-state) has a guest airport, but the password wasn't working for me.  Time to test the new capabilities.  They're working.

I learned something about the court of Louis IVX today.  His most legitimate grandson had fallen in with the Quietists, related to Quakers I think.  That made him too "inner light" oriented ("sanctimonious" from the outside) and he was poisoned.  His partner too -- tell me more about her.  This is all according to Saint Simon, not really a saint, but a faithful chronicler of courtly life in that era, attuned to the intrigues.

I learned all this in chauffeur mode, which has its perks.  A routine doctor appointing.  I'm basically following the TRP model (Transportation Reaching People) but for Friendly Care (Anne Sharp is my boss then).  I've lost tack of Tom Connolly.

nearby billboard, uploaded from Raz/M

Monday, October 15, 2012

Farewell (movie review)

This is a French title, which you might think hard to find in my neighborhood.  Not so, given Movie Madness.  Filed under French, amidst the Thrillers.

That said, it's PG-tame and thankfully not bloody, not too horrific.  In that sense it's a good kid-friendly non-shocking intro to Spy vs. Spy (ala Mad) with the French caught between superpowers, trying to preserve some sense of family values and humanity amidst the monsters (CIA and KGB).

The French engineer wasn't asking to be involved in espionage, but given the setting, the French Residence (embassy) in Moscow, this seems hard to avoid, especially when an idealistic Russian spy (the worst kind) decides to change world history for the benefit of his engineer son.

Like the dad in Breaking Bad, this Russian dad has trouble communicating about his world to his offspring, let alone to his wife.  The sense of subterfuge,  of dad being up to something, pervades the French family as well, though those kids are pretty young to be following any adult plot.

The movie purports to be to be based on true events, but we have to decide for ourselves what that means.  Given how far Willem Dafoe is from William J. Casey, both in appearance and character, we can push the dial pretty far into fictional.  "Feeney" at least rhymes (no doubt the intent).

Casey's tenure marked an apogee in CIA-KGB understanding (like Apollo-Soyuz), with the USSR not "too big to fail" after all (a not ungraceful exit, for a country that size). Russian spies would slip in for dinner in DC, then slip loose from their handlers, a thawing of the Cold War.  Perestroika, Glasnost.  Fast forward:  Litvinenko, the Russian spy in England, fighting quasi-solo against corruption, a saint.

But one could say all of the above is consistent with Farewell, in the sense of there being some high level coup that enabled the USA to "go dark" for awhile.  You could spin that as a rupture in security, with plans for the space shuttle, submarine routes, test plans, all sloshing out in the open, to the embarrassment of the spied upon.

In retrospect, Emir Kusturica's character, Sergei Gregoriev, the Russian, is like another Manning, treated as a traitor by his contemporaries.  The illusion of stopping the leaks would lead Reagan to take bold action -- is what this storyline infers (and the rest is history).

I tried Battlestar Galactica again as a part of this same rental.

The first two disks were enough to remind me of the fantasy, its many borrowed elements.  It's a put-together interior, a mental vista, an invisible landscape, not unlike this French embassy in Moscow, a thinly veiled dollhouse of a world.

Like we're really looking into the minds of the dollhouse's (meetinghouse's) overseers, perhaps young boys as these are also "action figures" (if "dolls", as in "idols", are a problem for some reason).

Looking good in uniform, in silhouette perhaps:  it's a lot about dressing up and acting the part.  In spydom too of course, fashion matters, plus there's the car you drive.  James Bond's has a defibrillator.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

More Grist for the Mill

Comment originally posted here, hyperlinks added.
Kirby Urner October 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm #
Another approach to doctrinal openness is to actively involve compatible attenders in the life of the meeting where, in some cases, these attenders clearly and openly are not considering membership in the Religious Society.

Yet their ways are compatible, they celebrate Quaker testimonies and contributions in the world, and their skills are considerable. If such a person practices among Friends year after year, in our meeting they might eventually be nominated to Oversight.

Indeed, I don’t think our operating manual (Faith and Practice) specifically forbids the clerk from being a non-member.  Follow-up: I stand corrected, the nominating guidelines do specify this position is member-only, meaning a member of our meeting in particular (some meetings allow for "affiliate membership" and have permitted affiliate members to serve as clerk).

By state requirement, we need an identifiable membership and should be able to point to our officers. Nonprofit structures, churches included, have no “clerk” in any case, so maybe the Assistant Clerk is “executive director” for the state’s records, while the Clerk is a non-member, perhaps a visiting rabbi of great compassion and repute.

The Meeting recognizes what a golden opportunity this could be and after a little seasoning, Business Meeting gives us the green light. Let this rabbi be clerk for a couple years, why not? We know and trust this person. Doctrine is not an issue.

This may sound far fetched, but lets remember how the AFSC is considered a “Quaker organization” and yet depends a great deal on non members. Meetings may be the same way.

Some of our longest term most dedicated participants are not seeking membership. They don’t feel it’s a requirement to be among Friends at the deepest levels. That’s probably in part owing to our not reserving any corner of the life of the Meeting to members in particular (other than the process of becoming a member).

Think of rides at a carnival. You may become a member of the carnival (get a card in the mail), but the rides stay open to all. You may become a member of an art museum. That doesn’t mean you should close off some rooms and make them “members only”. That somewhat defeats the purpose of an art museum, which about sharing art with the world, more than stroking member egos.

Likewise, a Quaker Meeting is not about denying a seeking public an opportunity to experience Quaker community — including its committees, other events. Members have no special secrets. We’re not Masons or Mormons or Illuminati (even if there’s some overlap, among attenders especially).

I’m not saying just anyone should be able to walk in off the street and jump on any committee. Nominating has a real job to do, and getting the right balance of attenders and members on every committee is a kind of alchemy. Some attenders are especially good at it.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

A Night with a Pro

IPG Talk

We enjoyed an excellent presentation at Multnomah Meeting this evening, by a pro photographer, Skip Schiel, who works with Quakers and the AFSC.  He's up on some of the latest non-violent campaigns to restore a modicum of sanity into the Hellish Land (aka Holy Land, aka Israel-Palestine-Gaza).

Interestingly, these latest campaigns focus on the Grunch (Caterpillar, HP... Motorola) and less on aging institutions like the State Department or United Nations.  I could hear Bucky echoing in my ears:  "the once proud nations".  Yes, soldiers still put themselves in harm's way, but as Smedley "Fighting Quaker" Butler put it:  war is a racket.

Lots of maps, good profiles, updated information.  I felt like I was back in Samsara in some ways, enjoying the beautiful landscapes, some impressive engineering.  That train looks cool.  It felt good to update the brain bank with more recent images.  I hadn't visited in Ramallah since the 1970s.

Interestingly, Jeanne at our lunch today asked directly if I were Swiss.  She married a Swiss guy and so knows the lore of the place, understood about Uri.  I don't encounter people familiar with that namespace all that often.

I asked Skip later if he knew about Albert Einstein's views (thinking of OMSI, but also this bio I have).  My understanding is he thought nationalism was for the birds but didn't think those birds would be relinquishing control any time soon, certainly not in his lifetime.  He turned down a chance to role play a president.

The bird-brained reflexes associated with knee-jerk nationalism go back to knee-jerks of even deeper reptilian origin.  Religion ties in through the limbic system (or one of those) and voila:  crazy humanity. Self-organizing?  We wish.

I'm sympathetic to Rabbi Lerner's idea of a "no state solution".  Once two cars have a head on collision, or two trains, you don't always try to sort them out too carefully.  There was a train wreck of sorts, and whatever others want to say about it, I think nationalism itself became a self parody in this smash up, its own casualty. 

"Nations" were mostly in the belief systems of "little people" anyway, right up there with Santa Claus in the Tooth Fairy.  The European royals saw more in terms of marriages (family) and warring ideologies (Catholic vs. Protestant etc.)  Do a little homework, and the nations fade in with the other psychological complexes, more programming, the operating system.  It keeps morphing.  The Chinese parade dragon, twisty turny, is its sometime avatar.

No, I'm not expecting the pomp and circumstance of nations to disappear, not even over the long haul.  Could be we'll see many more of them, including under the oceans.  We still have shades of the Roman Empire to this day, so why should we expect anything so neat and obvious as a Fuller Projection, intelligently nationless, except in the occasional meeting, board or classroom.  History isn't like that.

People live in the past (the after image).  We don't all get the news at the same time, although global telecommunications is time crunching us more than usual, getting us in some "present".

In 2045 or sooner, someone with the requisite academic "weightiness" may argue the USA had effectively left the world stage by the 1980s, some "withering of the states" phenomenon (all of them) amidst a new world order (predicted by presidents, not just Lenin or Marx, the Promised Land of the Illuminati?).

It'd be one more Youtube, perhaps cogently argued.  As science fiction, it makes sense today.

Trillions of dollars of annual deficits?  A desk-bound military helpless to not buy tanks it doesn't need?  Where is there a "USA" in this picture except in cartoon form?   Does anyone really believe all this crappola?   You can fool some of the people all of the time eh?

We've seen a lot of movies and know how to suspend disbelief.   Nations live on in our suspended disbelief.

Their withering didn't stop us from having some interesting theater though.

We've inherited from history (duh).  To some degree, we're puppets, machine-dolls -- that's what karma is all about, and Samsara (the movie).

Whether we believe in these nations or not, we're compelled to go through the motions, acting them out somewhat unconvincingly.  As NPR put it, Romney is "plausible" as president and so of course is Obama.  That's talent we can work with, as screen writers, as we dream our lives away (you've gotta believe in something, right?).

I also asked Skip if AFSC had asked him to photograph the US-Mexico wall as well, a somewhat similar project in many ways.  It hadn't (yet), though others have done so.

The swallowing of North American real estate by a Federation of States (like in Switzerland) is another partially overlapping historical narrative, with many of the same plot elements (poor treatment of the natives, zealotry, bigotry, land grabbing and greed).

Wave upon wave of "true believers" made America what it is today.  Ozymandius was here.

Ozymandius was Here

Monday, October 01, 2012

Portlandia Skits

I'm thinking how Junior Friends (young Quakers) often stage little plays, sometimes with morals to teach, like parables.  The Bible is of course full of these, as are many traditions.

At the Food Not Bombs meeting last night, I conjured this image of a consummate jerk, tattooed with "Food Not Bombs" and downtown egging cars, yelling at "meat loaf eaters".  "The rest of us might not be too enthusiastic about this guy" I dead panned.  People laughed.  Kirby's funny.  Especially at the egg part as what's up with a militant vegan protesting by throwing meat and dairy at people.  That's not the kind of food fight this is.

There's a kind of role playing that goes on.  Where do you intercept a healthy food supply on its way to some disposal route?  Is it begging?  Is a favor being asked?  To the extent a society is agreed that minimizing waste is a good thing, and that teaching logistics, urban survival skills, cooperative cooking is a good thing, it's easier to get the wheels turning.

I've been looking at municipal converted warehouse and school zones where the vocational jobs of food prep and cooking, food handling, might be practiced.  Yes, that means knives.  So much of school is about filing junior away in a proto-cubicle, a "desk", where nothing can happen.

Vocational studies, home economics, peeling potatoes, that's too blue collar for white collar junior here -- according to concepts and categories that crush with their nonsense.  What insanely dumb ideas.

Anyway, SE chapter should not be required to change its character, just because FNB commercials are popular in Polish and Lithuanian.  Some of the exchanges going on are intra-Europe.

To what extent they're doing this in Turkey I don't know.  My impression is less gets wasted in the first place.   Food gets processed and prepped, a lot of times by women living indoors, while the males ply the streets, foraging in various ways.  How do bicycles fit in?  The answers are cultural.

I told Rick at meeting that I wanted some historical record showing our awareness of the tensions among cultures, and ways to help resolve them short of war (neural breakdown, wigging out).  Hawo's Dinner Party was screened at AFSC during the last major meeting, where Yearly Meeting reps come from all over.  I was there for the North Pacific Yearly Meeting.

Hawo's Dinner Party is about Somalis, being transplanted from Africa to North America, and working to make a go of it.  Some of the marriages aren't taken under the care of the USG or the states, because too many people are involved.

As Friends, we understand that cultural divide from the Native American experience.  The Warm Springs tribe well documents in its museum the heart breaking chapter in its history, when the children were programmed with Christian dogmas (in boarding schools), over the objections of grandparents, and made to feel only "nuclear families" made any sense.

"Nuclear families" in an "Atomic Age" -- that was what was being offered as the American Dream at one time.  A kind of "White Christmas".

I think we're over that, a lot of us, whether we have atomic power or not.

We no longer lionize or deify the nuclear waste makers.  Plutonium cookers are caught in a cruel web, like the meth lab cookers, ensnared in a crooked, monied gangland, a wilderness of mirrors and marginal governments, deeply into eco-crimes while insisting Congress keep the people looking another way.  However, a congress, any congress, has limited powers to persuade, even if Cicero himself is one of its orators.

Sisters of the Road might be a kind of role model institution, when it comes to helping with rehab for prison industrial complex engineers.  A first step is to discover a better life.  Too bad that Rajneesh Puram thing turned into such a circus.

The idea of boarding school type operations, better than prisons, not institutions for punishment, could replace the grim facades we have now.

"Human warehousing" (prisons) need not be this profitable.  Competition would be a godsend to many, including to those forced to imprison others for money.

A civilian service with options for lifetime careerists, like the scouts, with some big toys, might succeed in pulling its weight as a morale booster.  I'm not talking mindless nationalism here.  This is a mingling, an exchange.  We trade around.

Visit Portland, experience working on some of our projects, then move on.  Relay what you've learned.  Help us stay up to date.  Teach, show videos.  Lightning Talks.  Occupy & Ignite.  Burning Man.  Stage some skits.  Act it out.  Help us to understand the story.

From My Facebook Profile

  • Kirby Urner 

     From emailed response:

    Advanced practitioners of world religions should organize co-venture brands e.g. an official JewBu temple (or franchise), then something Islamo-Catholic.
    With the right architects, it could be done.

    Then the services would be deliberate / designed blends as well. Minaret calls to prayer, allusions to the Tower of Babel (one of my faves). Lots of incense.
    12 hours ago · Edited · Like

  • Kirby Urner  

    Islamo-Catholic facility could be around appreciation for science, astronomy in particular (Vatican has official observatory), the fact that Arabic languages saved Greek knowledge during Dark Ages in Europe. These could be themes of a Christian-Islamic friendship enterprise, one of many collaborative undertakings the world religions could be designing. The world could use more Parliament of World Religions type "getting along" (not just "tolerating" which is a low standard).
    about an hour ago · Like

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dropped at Drexel

The following content failed to make it to the web archives.  I'm unsure if Joe got my reply, but I think so, given I got his to me.  This exchange was with respect to something that was published, one of my many renderings of a so-called "paradox".

Joe Niederberger via
Sep 20 (5 days ago)
to math-teach

>We have an algorithm for omni-triangulating a sphere with more and more triangles. Even if we toss out the paradox at the end, here's some educational meat, some substance (to go over this topic).
Can you provide a link to a picture of this?
Joe N

kirby urner
Sep 21 (4 days ago)
to math-teach

Sure, these geodesic spheres on the left show the number of triangles increasing as a function of "frequency" (the number of intervals along each edge.
Here's some free software for the school children:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Earthlings (movie review)

I include this partly in contrast to Samsara (below).

Whereas Samsara is beautifully filmed and provides no commentary, Earthlings is about the slaughter of non-humans by humans in ways we would consider cruel and inhumane (including in so-called "kosher" facilities).  The narrator provides a point of view.

The film looks at animals as pets, sources of food and clothing, entertainment, scientific knowledge.

Earthlings feeds a sense of misanthropy (hatred of humans).

Mark Twain:  of all of God's creatures, Man is the most detestable.  Yes, that's obvious.  Many angels think so too.

Misanthropy is probably too simplistic a response though.

In a reincarnation system, we might suppose humans return as the animals they kill.  That would be called "poetic justice" by many.  However, the sum total is just a lot of meaningless suffering, however it goes down.

Hatred of existence itself is another meditation one might practice, perhaps as a stage along some path.  Life is an ongoing holocaust, 24/7/365.  Are you part of the problem (adding to the net total suffering) or part of the solution (decreasing to the net total suffering)?

If you suffer a lot yourself, that doesn't necessarily help matters, but perhaps you can't help it.  We're just little humans and Universe is really big.  Victimhood seems a natural condition and humans have often cast themselves in this way, against a greater cosmic backdrop.

LCDs in schools of philosophy might be more likely to screen such content than religious schools, although in some cultures that distinction is not made.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Samsara (movie review)

Samsara is the right title for this film and it is worthy of its ancestors, Baraka being the immediate parent.

In some ways a guided meditation, a mood inducer, but without direct preaching.  One might say "a God's eye view", but a God with a penchant for close-ups.

Some viewers will see the movie being more judgmental than others will.

The factories and places of worship were willing to share their interiors.

This is not a trivial hand-held tourist camera, one gets permission and talks to those whom one wishes to film.

The direct stares into the camera do not bespeak shame, regardless of surroundings or occupation.

We move from temples, to cities, to factories, to supermarkets, to a prison, to a casket store, to a funeral.  We look at the desert, a lush waterfall, glaciers.

We stare back at our own image, as viewers, at our life and our death.

I could see the very temples depicted showing this very film on their newly installed hi-def LCDs.

The film has several themes.

One them is the exquisite precision of nature, its repetitiveness.  Humans fit right in, and synchronize precisely, so much a part of the mechanism.

Are we but mechanical dolls in a vast machine?  The movie hints at this question but then metaphors fail as nature has no real counterpart.

The Buddha's gaze frames Samsara in some ways, his eyes etched with red to show not ferocity so much as compassion, though these are not unrelated.

I'd been hungering for views of Mecca, I later told Melody and Kelly who was visiting, fresh from working gate crew at Burning Man.  I'd watched a few Youtubes.  This movie really fed me, with clear moving images.

In general, I was grateful for all the updates.  I used to get around more, but now I mostly stay in Portland.  Seeing these views of Planet Earth, carefully crafted, state of the art, is a privilege.  Glenn's Easy Like Water was a joy in that way too.

Humans have been at this game for quite a long time and seem eminetely capable and adaptable.

I'm all for more movies in this genre.  I've always circled them as "required viewing" (in the sense of a syllabus, course material) for General Systems Theory savvy.

You get a better more realistic handle on our institutions when you get to meditate in this way, with mood and music.

Those dolls can sure dance, in all they do.  Talk about intricate choreography. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Zenith (movie review)

This is an atmosphere film reflective of the times.  The theme of the film is how an authoritative voice seems controlling, especially when it comes from some hidden source, such that the true powers of the speaker remain concealed.  The vision of a murky "they" is formed yet to speak of "them" is to invite the view that one is paranoid -- a plot by "them" to make them think I'm crazy.  And so on.  That's the ballpark anyway.

The protagonist is gradually assembling a puzzle, in which his father figures as a similar lonely crusader.  The assemblage takes the form of videotapes.

This film revels in the cliches that film itself has richly textured.  Abandoned urban vistas.  The list of names, some already dead.  Obsession with one's own story, filming oneself.  The transformation of the dad, from priest to haunted unabomber-like figure, a lone hero against the machine, is striking, and as the "Making Of" feature makes clear (DVD version) was filmed in reverse, i.e. the dad gets more clean cut as we go back in time.  Shades of Memento.

I think a Wittgenstein reader might get something from this film as it turns reciting the dictionary meanings of thought-provoking words into a subversive activity (shades of Fahrenheit 451).  The mainstream is barely shown, as we're confined to an underworld, but what we're given to understand is the majority is in a state of perpetual oblivion, a kind of state-crafted happiness, imposed by the success of medical science.

This was the semi-somnambulistic state we've been promised.  The fact that these words barely survive as recited definitions reminds us to think about meaning through use.  Use 'em or lose 'em.

Zenith is reminiscent of Zion in The Matrix in some ways, less a place than a direction, but in this case sinister rather than a last refuge.  To ask about Zenith is merely to mark oneself as another ranting 2012er, another prophet, medically treatable, in an age when speaking in tongues seems about the best anyone can muster.  The rest is pure banality.

Under the torpor and sex are the sordid secrets and sadnesses, the sins, the broken taboos, for which we no longer have the words, a sin in itself.  The saints are not dragon slayers.  They're paupers and mentally ill who still speak truth in their innocence.  The down and outers have a special ability to see Satan, always a peripheral figure, beyond idols and avatars.  As I was saying, the currency is cliches, but exquisitely wrought and therefore able to forge lightning bolts in the unconscious.

The director is eloquent in the "Making of":  his purpose is to contribute the kind of movie we can all read into, such that when we discuss it later, over pizza, we don't just have pat and shallow opinions.  He wants to wake us from our Matrix a little, in the spirit of film-making (and theater) as a vehicle for heightening self awareness, expanding consciousness.  Exploring the unconscious with steadicams:  a way to go.  Shades of Chernobyl.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Natural Disaster

I enjoyed yakking with David Koski the whole way from PDX concourse to Max, to 75, to my neighborhood.  We're used to talking about rhombic triacontahedra and stuff, probably to the amusement of some fellow Max travelers.  We talked about namespaces and how Coxeter.Q and Koski.Q needn't be the same object, as any Python programmer could tell you.

Alas, my levity balloon, say T modules (pointy wedges, 120 of them tiling a sphere-like shape of 30 faces), was just on the cusp of a high Entropy state, and E modules (E for Entropy, though in Synergetics for Einstein) were in the wings.  Hard drive crash!  The HP Pavilion's.  I thought it might be mainly software corruption but a BIOS test indicates it's a hardware issue, Failure, can't read, status 7 (whatever that means).  KTU3 is no more, for all intents and purposes.

Yes, I backed up a lot of pictures, but using Adobe Elements, and will I ever find that again to restore?  Evacuating the household, moving 90% of the stuff to the school (what school?), would help us prep this place for an overdue remodel / overhaul.  The neighborhood deserves to see its properties maintained.  So where'd I get the fat salary all of a sudden?  There's those "inquiring minds" again.  However I think these fantasies are mostly just an attempt to escape the loss.

What does occur to me though is some cults (we could call them) might specialize in a kind of transparency, in that students and faculty would be expected to scan in, otherwise upload, all kinds of personal data, such that on-line identities (real ones) became a basis for weaving stories, incorporating a gradually increasing radius, to make the scope of world history feel inclusive.

By comparing notes, life stories, researching backgrounds, genealogical records etc., we could piece together a customized view of the past / present, hinging greatly upon just exactly who showed up to attend.  One could call this "place based education" and some do, though I may be taking it further, making it more like another kind of "reality TV" in some cases.

All this dovetails with the "school server / school spirit" meme (every schools needs a rack space for filing recordings and contributions), which in turn is close to what seniors might like for themselves.  Engineers don't want to "retire", they want to putter on their own projects for a change, and preferably in an environment that encourages and rewards both innovation and collaboration.

Students will be encouraged to bring show and tell stuff and share their lives.  They may choose to donate much of that stuff as rummage after awhile, but unlike the "classic cult" the stress is not on leaving one's previous life behind, but on using it as a springboard for getting to know the world in a new way, in cahoots with peers.  It's like a detective story, where you keep yourself in the plot, are not the "know it all" observer with magical powers to narrate omnisciently (usually an inauthentic voice, used by historians a lot, and spoofed in Idiocracy).

Getting serious rack space with RAID and Hadoop-like failover etc. makes more sense when you're not just a solo individual trying to "do it all".  The idea of a "nursing home" needs to be replaced for engineers, with something more kibbutzy, and which includes rack space (not meant in the Spanish Inquisition sense, talking about shared storage).  People who always put off organizing their memories until old age will get to mix with younger folk doing the same thing (organizing their memories, putting in order the facts of experience).  A school's organizational memory need not be entirely public, but on the other hand a school is by definition that which draws on shared experience to produce original value-adding programming (i.e. curriculum, intelligence).

Saturday, September 01, 2012

More Assembling

I learned from Google Plus that Tom Higgins is playing with Raspberry Pis now as well.  What curriculum writing has been done around these gizmos?  All the ingredients for STEM would appear to be present.

Building a Component


Raspberry Pi in Case

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meetinghouse Event

Melody told me about this event, some presentation about the Zapatistas.  What's up in Chiapas, Mexico?  I was curious, so I wandered over, hopping the 75 for a few blocks to save time.

The replacement camera (Nikon Coolpix S8300) had just arrived so I dropped by Freddy's for an SD card (none included).  Kingston 16 GB SDs were on sale for only $13 or something.

As it turns out, it was fortunate for the event leaders that I showed up, as their A/V solution wasn't working out.  The projector stayed blurry no matter how close or far from the screen so reading the menus was impossible, plus they hadn't brought any speakers.  

The Meeting rents out space but tends to not rent A/V equipment, however since I was there, I could access the meeting's projector and speakers and wheel them out.  After some futzing, we got everything working.

Portland has its own relationship with Chiapas and the Zapatistas.  Our presenters, not native Spanish speakers (many Zapatistas aren't either), had been eyewitnesses fairly recently (though not with PBI).

The indigenous people of Chiapas are trying to develop their locale independently of the central government and that's hard for many nationalists to stomach.  The fact that Zapatistas want to run their own school system is hard for the control freaks to accept.

The Zapatistas are routinely bullied, their crops burned, their assets stolen, by rival political parties (read "rival gangs").  The expectation is the new Mexican president, a PRI member, will turn a blind eye to the PRI's persecution of the Zapatista minority.  Other parties also engage in systematic harassment and terrorization against this unwanted (by them) upstart party.

Thanks to video campaigns, knowledge of this kind of harassment and displacement (ethnic cleansing etc.) is widely publicized.  New Yorkers know about it too.

The conversation then turned to the Drug Wars, which rage more in the north of Mexico, not in Chiapas.  One of the Mexican nationals in our group made a speech about how USAers only needed to educate their children to not want drugs, and all would be well.  

The impact of ending Prohibition was not discussed, although that's the direction many states in the North American Federation have been taking, slowly but surely.  Another Mexican national pointed out that we had strayed from the core topic, as the war on the Zapatistas was distinct, politically and sociologically, from the Drug Wars (aka Prohibition).

The primary group leader was in a hurry to catch a plane.  She went through a few more slides, after showing two videos and going over the history.  She put the meetinghouse doors on self locking, and returned the key to the mailbox (standard procedure).  I helped with cleanup, and locked the projector away, but then left the other group leader in charge.

I joined Patrick and Steve at The Bagdad, staying on until Happy Hour.

Tomorrow I have an AFSC meeting and will mention attending this event.  Melody was aware of it thanks to her AFSC connections I'm pretty sure.  She used to work with AFSC more concertedly back in Austin.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Study Hall

Even in Windows XP I was able to get VPython working on Python 3.2 in a virtualenv, editing through PyCharm.  Then I pip installed redis just to prove I could do it, having spent much of the morning reading up on that.  Looks like interprocess JSON with persistence.  I didn't understand about messaging as my client seemed to block on listening, so how was that gonna help?  WinXP has both server and client, though not recommended for production use.

A blooming buzzing garden of such tools and toys, running in ensemble, with simple demo code, pared down, for teaching purposes, is what Free Geek might help staff, if not host.  OSDL?  There needs to be something more contemporary than a museum, although there's no rule against museums being contemporary, so maybe that's not right.  Portland Knowledge Lab was how I used to refer to it, copying London's (where I'd given a presentation on my way to a meeting), but I let that go out of focus when the Active Space experiment ended, in disillusionment with Metro Wifi.

My audience or client base, updating from CUE days, are still those do-gooder nonprofits and idealists.  But we're not in Kansas anymore, using WordPerfect + dBase (my "good old days").  Today, it's more about mod_wsgi (still) and Tornado and noSQL.  The clay, the source, is all out there.  "Use the source Luke" is the new commandment.  But are we getting anywhere?  Is STEM gaining in traction?

Redis has you talking through a port, I gather through sockets.  Surely those aren't HTTP requests.  No, it has its own protocol.  Like JSON in that respect.  The guarantee is transactions are atomic, as this is one thread (each redis instance).  You could probably sell seats with this thing, and not promise the same one to any more than one.

Before that, I was boning up on gevent + gunicorn, a hot new way to serve processes.  I couldn't tell if I'd use Celery in addition to or in lieu of, but I get the idea:  lots of event loops running in user space, context switching there, rather than kernel space (the mod_wsgi solution).  I watched a talk on Blip.TV comparing that dynamic duo with more traditional solutions.  Where high availability is concerned, gevent + gunicorn is looking pretty good, a plus for Python.

I've got DjangoCon on my radar.  Should I duplicate this WinXP configuration on Lion?  Yes, that would seem prudent.  The PyCharm product is something I might get an academic discount on, once we've completed a work process, but for now I'm just using on free 30 day trial.  Will it use Akbar font if I like, is a next question.  I'll get back to y'all when I figure that out.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Design Science 2.0

Yes, that's a somewhat tongue in cheek allusion to Tim O'Reilly's invention, Web 2.0.  Actually he was just captioning an important plot twist (AJAX), thereby catalyzing it (by naming it).

Might DS2 be up for designing new religions?  The question is rhetorical, per Triumph of the Moon, in the Wicca is one of several "designer religions" of recent vintage. Or call it "social engineering", or call it Disney World (another example).

YouTubes of Mecca are interesting, even for people that go there.

Lots of Iranian kids are feeling drawn to their older-than-Islam heritage.  No different here, w/r to Xtianity.  The best religions are still ahead of us?  I don't think it's necessary to defend that claim.  There've been some good ones.

To add more religions is not to destroy existing ones, or if they're that fragile... there's always room for another tribe.  I was discussing these matters over cider, beer and cigars this evening, contemplating choices.

I mentioned appreciating a positive spin on "witches" as well as "wizards" and keeping the links with geekery, tools use, health sciences, technology.  Witches were / are STEM teachers, role models for girl and boy scouts both (one needs models across genders).

I don't know if putting a lot of attention on geometry makes it sacred, but from Synergetics I'd inherit its relevance to a grammar (in Wittgenstein's sense of a logic or language game).  The U = MP idea still looks pretty usable.  "Metaphysical" in the sense of what's not "physical" in the sense of wiggling needles.

But then polygraphs consist of wiggling needles, lets remember.  Neuroscience is building its inventory of instruments.  Lying or tainted truth takes its physical toll sometimes.  We pay a physical price for trafficking in misinformation, as propagators of meme viruses.  On the other hand, nature has many ways to divert attention.  She's a master of disguises.  Masks.

These are hardly new planks for a religious platform., but then we'd expect plenty of continuity.  Eternal / perennial philosophy is what it is, with an institutional framework.  I've been thinking in terms of coffee shops and didactic game playing, a casino for channeling surplus while building both brand and cause loyalty.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Faster Forward


I've continued to agitate, per usual, on behalf of STEM, contra the over-specializers.  I think feedback loops groom singularities and I'm one of them, but so are a lot of people.

Calling me a "spin doctor" is quite accurate though.  The term usually has derogatory connotations, so I'm not being boastful that much, except to acknowledge I'm pretty good at it.  I had good teachers.

The "Happy Camper Brigade" (HCB) as I call it took off for Patrick's place, thence to the coast.  They phoned HQS for an update about the detour.  They'll be going out of range.  I just texted a reminder to turn off cell phone power or the battery will drain.  I know Melody has a charger but they won't always be in a place to use that.

Have a great trip Alex, if I don't see you again before you go.

I tried to get another basement involved as back up, which we'd use today, given Lindsey is out of town.  We'll see if that works, where food storage is concerned.  In the meantime, I'm sure we can handle it (don't pass that back, if you read this in my blog).

Does thinking in nationalistic terms destroy an analysis to the point of unreadability?  Not usually.  You can still read the things, just they're not very smart.  Accounting for nationalism, on the other hand, is something else, and should always be done, if relevant.

I'm reviewing a lot of history these days, and not just through print media by a long shot.  Tara is in final count down.  Betsey from our Meeting will be visiting her in October.