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).