Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sharing Ideas

:: a spooky hqs :: 

Bats on the Loose
:: ideas go forth :: 

Color Coded
:: color coded concepts ::

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Well Hello There

Thinking about Objects

Thinking about Objects

objects get allocated within the heap, a finite space for objects. The Python interpreter thinks through partially overlapping namespaces connected by dot notation in temporary tree structures (import hierarchies). The top-level namespace is identified with the interpreting process.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Juggling Hats


I'm somewhat wearing my AFSC hat these days, having been drawn back to my foci from Asia-Pacific Issues News days, when I was editor.

I drove Carol to the meeting this morning, but didn't attend.  She's continuing to meet with one of our program committee in this coffee shop, where I'm doing my day job.  I can't help but listen in a bit.

I'll be joining this same committee for its first formal meeting, now that we've recruited our new Regional Director.  She'll be based in SF instead of Seattle, the way Susan was.

The neocon ideology goes on the rocks of hypocrisy quite often, most especially when "the spread of democracy" is proffered as a goal, but then what happens is non-democratically managed permanent cities are dropped in and stuffed with Americans living in slavery (stop-loss) or deliberately escaping from freedom (per Fromm).  No, it's not officially a POW camp (usually), but it's hardly a democracy, hardly one of Disney's experimental prototypes of tomorrow.

Case in point:  the island of Okinawa is riddled with non-democracies, which gives Japanese the impression that USAers are nothing but a bunch of Roman soldiers who don't realize the war is over (lots of jokes at the Romans' expense).  Or they think they're a part of the Fourth Reich or some foolish business (stand up comics are having a field day).

The curriculum is weak and kids graduate with little sense of history.  They get sent off to Occupy (one of the bases), and end up thinking, like Gen. Smedley Butler, that "war is a racket" and/or some kind of Business Plot.  But is it even that well thought out?

So the best place to focus on improving the curriculum, if the Feds plan to walk their talk, is right there on the bases, where Feds have the most control.  Show us how your curriculum is paving the way for a bright future, for the Okinawans included.  Don't just kick the can down the road, like Gen. Colin Powell did, by making militarism the solution for yet another decade.

Getting kids in base schools to report back should not be a problem.  I'm sure some enjoy the lifestyle and wouldn't want it to end.  But I'm not saying so-called "Girl Scout Math" (an operation) and the like has to mean giving up access to airstrips.  Small planes would come and go.

The new base wouldn't be needed, but that was a lavish and unnecessary expense anyway, on the chopping block like Manas (easier to chop given it doesn't belong to the Russians and Kyrgystanis the way Manas does).

Youth Service
:: old recruiting poster (click for larger view) ::

Friday, May 18, 2012


Overcast Day

 Dr. John Cacioppo was given a highly laudatory introduction by Dr. Art Kohn of Portland State.  I ran into Art at Peet's recently.  He's a Wanderer like me.

Art made the case that humans suffer more for psychological than technical reasons these days.  He saw this as a potential snub to engineers, but I didn't take it that way.  Means we're doing our job.  If your physical needs are being met and your remaining issues are psychological and/or metaphysical, that's a huge step.

Dr. Cacioppo doesn't exactly draw a mind/brain line like Bucky does, but the same dichotomy between conditioned reflexes on the one hand, and consideration / reflection on the other, bears some similarities, especially where mind-over-brain is concerned i.e. reprogramming or upgrading one's pattern of responses (or response-abilities).

The empirical studies John has been engaged with over the years have sharpened the focus on humans as social animals who tend to waste away when self perceived as cut off from their fellows.

"Perceived" because sometimes so-called objective measures of one's degree of isolation come out differently, and in any case never correlate as closely with diseases and discomforts the way self perceived isolation does.  One is one's own best judge and/or worst enemy in these situations.

Heart attacks are more deadly when induced in lonely rats, he warns.

How to fight back against loneliness?

If you're forced into masking your identity and getting reinforcement for a persona you're not, that may be alienating.

I felt the absence of philosophy, which used to have more to say about the human condition, before getting run over by computer science.  Philosophers would tease apart the many components of loneliness and help build vocabulary, in itself a way of fostering communication and fighting back.

I wanted to ask an anthropological question about ethnicities that accepted communication with the dead.  You're a lot less lonely when you have lots of ancestors to chat with, or at least feel observed by.  To what degree are belief systems isolating?  Might not belief in ghosts mean less loneliness, greater mental health?

Instead I picked up another thread in anthropology:  his recent service to several US Army forts, to help them study and deal with high suicide and depression rates.

Given the way Madison Avenue and others leverage the herd instinct to boost insecurities, with various products the answer, and given wars are sold to the public as products, with the same appeal to our insecurities and worries (nurtured and refined for this purpose), I was wanting some reassurance that he wasn't just a motivational psychologist in disguise, trying to get soldiers to escape from freedom as dutiful slaves with no minds of their own.

Dr. Cacioppo replied that the army was sincere about its concern and responsive to his requirement that all the research stay open and unclassified.

Another questioner asked if he was "embedded" and he demurred, saying that's not how it was.

The loneliness suffered by insurgents, insurrectionists and subversives, might also be addressed by his trainings (he doesn't lead them himself and they go for eight hours).

He's not trying to stop that percentage of humans who buck the herd, deviate from norms, uphold new ethics.

Terry explained I was Quaker, so stereotypically concerned about the treatment of freaks (including peace freaks) and weirdos at the hands of so-called "normal" people ("the herd" to crib from Nietzsche).

Trevor joined me for this event, including the Heathman dinner (where much of this dialog occurred).  This was also my birthday dinner (54).  The waiters were kind to me, gave me lots to drink (Trevor and I were bussing home anyway, took the 15).

Elizabeth Braithwaite, in the meantime, joined Tara at Cleveland High, to experience debate culture and bid on a cake at silent auction, a fundraiser for the Cleveland Cannibals.  They got me a good one from Helen Bernhard's.

I liked it that Dr. Cacioppo recommended serving food to people in need as a way to enjoy the benefits of community.  It's a two way street in that you get to eat too, on many levels. FNB has been like that.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


I continued with the theme below on the Wittgenstein list (Sean's).  The Yahoo! archives is as valuable as what's in any bank vault, from some points of view.  Where the word "securities" comes from in some degree: scraps may be treasure, a phone number, a key name.

The distance education world is one I've frequented in several roles:  current and former high school teacher (back then it was current); contributing editorial consultant with McGraw-Hill; and then more as a lobbyist / reformer / geek about town.

Oregon Curriculum Network grew out of the latter efforts, subsequent to five or so years with CUE (Center for Urban Education).

These days, I provide instruction via distance education circuits, to a faceless crowd.  Having everyone veiled, not just the women, and because of technology, not garments, makes this a somewhat different experience.

The narrow bandwidth is nevertheless right where it needs to be, in terms of advancing learners towards their goals.  The annual staff meeting is underway.  Last night some of us stayed up to watch The Birds (Hitchcock) which mentions Sebastopol.

Russian River is also nearby (check Google Earth).

The school has its origins in the University of Illinois and Ohio State.  Lots of thinking about andragogy and what helps students get real results, led the school's founders, a core team, to implement a "useractive" approach which emphasizes active (versus passive) engagement.

"Active" might just mean typing and mousing around, versus watching videos or taking in text.

Only some disciplines are narrowly focused to this set of skills.

No, this is not appropriate circuitry for all kinds of learning, obviously.  That's why the teachers themselves need to get together in person, in clumps or as an almost complete crew.  We did something like this a year ago, and so on going back, though I only joined in the winter of 2010.

Saturday, May 05, 2012


I huddled with parents of other prom goers.  We snapped our cameras furiously, capturing these precious moments.

I was happy to get to know these people better, even as we come to the end of a chapter.

Then I drove to the pharmacy with only seconds to spare.

In my book it's not sinful to hate the suffering in this world.  In this case, hate is a kind of furious fighting back. 

A sword of compassion is a sword nonetheless.

A scenario, or time tunnel, is both a tunnel of sorrows, and a tunnel of joys.

Much sadness and grieving is with us at all times.

There is no need to paper over this reality.  Why waste energy in denial of what's real?

Joys are real also.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Wittgenstein actually wrote about Beltane some.  Not everyone knows that.

He investigated disturbing aspects of the Highlander ritual, finding echoes of pointless cruelty.

An "echo" need not be interpreted as meaning "from distant times" ala Frazer.  These associations have an immediacy in everyday grammar.

See Brian R. Clack's Wittgenstein, Frazer and Religion (Palgrave, 1999), 135-54, Chapter 8: Frazerian Reflections:  Wittgenstein on Beltane and Human Sacrifice.

Uncle Bill Lightfoot came by for lunch at Bagdad.  I gave him the Bayard Rustin DVD, Brother Outsider.

Good to see UE starting up again (picture below).

I've had an engagement with Multnomah Friends to present about AFSC as a part of the Quakers 101 workshop that's ongoing.

I spoke about Bayard Rustin and Smedley Butler as two pivotal Friends.  The study of their lives will connect many dots, if you're looking to construct your own reality.

Then a fire later.  It's Beltane, after all.  HB2U Trevor, good to share those cigars.