Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Coal World


The hunger to burn carbon is in a race with another hunger to burn the released carbon dioxide, which is plant life's hunger.  Is glaciation brought on by wild burning, as soils weaken for lack of minerals?

Is another "glacial dusting" in order?

That's an old climatological theory, not one of mine.  I have some glacial dust in the garage I'm pretty sure.  A fertilizer.  Microbes like it, they say.

Some readers know the theory I'm talking about, better than I do.  Hamaker-Weaver, right?  Yes, Wikipedia confirms.

The hunger to consume coal is pulling it down the Columbia by barge through terminals yet to be built.  Cascadians are up in arms and their flag has been flown in a Food Not Bombs bike trailer, where our King of Cascadia (a guy named Pepe) signaled his displeasure.

The revolt was in Vancouver, Washington and well attended.

We have a surfeit of electrical power and have no need for dirty coal ourselves.  This is all deal-making wherein we Cascadians (add to spellchecker) pay the costs, bear the brunt of those  "externalizations" economists talk about (a degraded ecosystem).

Or were you relishing the smell of coal in your nostrils.  You've just been chomping at the bit at the bit for that taste?  Better than beer.  Coke and Coal go together, don't they.

However I have neither video nor stills (yet) from this protest event.  Check cold storage at Facebook.

We've got the flag (one of many) her at Blue House for continued use with Sky Blue (one of the trailers).  You may remember how it featured October 6.  She's down at the same park this evening, with the old office chair left behind.  This is the regular beat, with service from Base R2D2 (sounds like Star Wars).

No, I've been caught up in OSCON and doing my day job, confining the radius of my photography to Oregon State, with a lot of shots of my plates (as in "dinner plates" -- fancy meals I've been having).  Today was Sushi Land, on break as chauffeur (medical appointment for a Friend).

I do have a few shots of Lindsey starting off, with the "PepeMobile" trailing the other trailer.  It'd be switched to Adam later. This was last Saturday.

We would prefer to export clean energy as we do with that Inter-Tie, DC to LA.  We have generators idle a lot of the time, with vast amounts of wind coming on line.

So where's the real time smart grid we were promised?  Is there a Smart Grids for Dummies?  Bonneville was pretty much closed down because of the hiring scandal recently.

Speaking of electrical power, yes those server farms do drink it down.  We used to do more aluminum, until Google came along, then also Facebook.  The hydropower is plentiful and racks need to be cooled, just as your body needs to radiate to keep you happy in that comfort zone.

Electronics have their comfort zone too.  The move to photonics and/or a graphene economy may lower the average temperature, but that remains to be seen.  By how much?  I'm not posing as some expert.  Just another guy with a microphone, asking questions.

Finally, a thought about "nursing homes".  Let me focus on one of the best ones around here, Terwilliger Plaza.  Wanderers went there for a party, and recruited new Wanderers from their midst.  Doug Strain lived there.

You could think of it as a university complex.  Do you think a 70 year old brain is too old to tackle Erlang, a computer language?  What if she or he has already learned some other languages?

We don't allow ourselves enough opportunities for such experiments.  Cruise ships have turned the corner maybe, in harboring intellectuals, but couldn't we do better for our elderly?

More piped in TED Talks might sound like a small thing.

Or what about in prisons?   Build your own infrastructure if you have to.  Focus on finding better ways forward.  That's a sharable mission.

At San Quentin they studied General Semantics, under the direction of the warden.  I met Gene Fowler (poet ex con) through that program, or one like it.  He got to hear a Bucky talk.

You can find missing puzzle pieces if one is at least allowed to look.  Give nursing homes more bandwidth and help 'em search for, and find, those marbles they've supposedly lost -- or maybe never had in the first place (says the joker).

Friends care about prison conditions / philosophies and old people.  Joe Havens took on "treatment of the elderly" as his protest issue, the focus of a hunger strike.   We need to up our skill level around taking care of old people, as that's going to be all of us making it to that age, in this lifetime or another (if you'll permit a multiplicity of life stories in your experience, even if only experienced "vicariously").

Another job for the Chinese Peace Corps: helping Americans get it together to take care of themselves.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Steve held an OSCON Survivors' Breakfast at the Hilton.  I was pleased to have some face time with Deb Bryant, Allison Randal, Eric Holsher, Lindsay Epstein and others.  Some of us Portland natives also attend the Wanderers meetings.

Later that evening, again with Steve as a catalyst, I enjoyed a fine dinner with Julie Steele (with O'Reilly Media), Steve and Yarko, followed by more conversation at Greater Trumps.  From Julie I learned I should never skip the Friday keynotes, which I had.  Good thing they're taped.

The chair's party was well attended.  Edd Dumbhill is the outgoing chair, with incoming chairs Matthew and Simon.  I got permission to invite David Feinstein to this party and introduced him to Simon.  I then drifted off and joined Yarko and Alex Martelli, who were speaking with the Code for America CTO, Michal Migurski.

Code for America focuses on making government more accessible and transparent.  The process has its pitfalls.  Local IT is maybe itching to try its hand with newer technologies but gets slapped down by management.

Then C4A shows up, a whiz bang team, and wins praise from the same management as genius outsiders.  The natives grumble.

How might C4A catalyze more appreciation for in-house talent?  Show management what's possible but then fade away.  It's a tiny program anyway.  Inspire but don't micromanage.

Of course I'm thinking "USA OS" the whole time, what with whitehouse.gov folks working on some public APIs.  These petitions people sign:  there's mineable data there, which should be shared.

The confusion about Open Source versus Open Data is still prevalent.  When you invite development using shared open source tools, you are helping to level the playing field.  They have access to these tools without high cost barriers.  However tools are not data and confidentiality stays important.

When the free tools are used, the schools aren't left out, because they can afford free software. They can also help improve it, to where the free tools are often among the best tools in their class.

One trains up an army conversant with PostgreSQL, other open APIs.  So then what?  Does government have the courage to use the same tools that schools can afford to teach?

That's a critical equation.  In some countries the verdict is in:  yes.

Open data offers its own set of advantages, but should not be confused with sharable tools.  Just because you know how to hack does not mean you have automatic access to private records.

I missed way more talks than I managed to attend, that much is certain.  Netflix gave a good one I'm told.  People are turning to the Internet for their information and entertainment more and more.  Cell phones have only accelerated this trend.

Facebook is building special data centers with their own power specs, for all those pictures you want to keep in your profile, but which no one retrieves on a daily basis.  Cold storage, which doesn't mean unresponsive.  Humanity is evolving new organelles.  Motherboard Earth is an evolving picture.

As usual, I was inspired to dive more deeply into various technologies thanks to these talks.  Simon's talk got me interested in Erlang, while the drone talk (a keynote -- nothing weaponized) impressed me with the relevance of Clojure.  I now have both installed and am working through Safari Books in my copious free time (sarcastic chuckle).

Tomorrow:  more chauffeuring of MVPs.  Another trip to the airport.  I'm happy to play the role.

Congrats to Tara, who attended the brunch, on getting the driver's license and repairing her phone, two summer goals.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

NPYM Annual Session 2013

NPYM 2013

Welcome Friends.  Margaret Coahran is Registrar this year.  I find that one of the most challenging jobs in the Quaker rotation (we tend to manage by rotation).  I've expressed to her a few times my admiration, but not before agitating for a single.  My written note had been miss-transcribed to say I'd dwell with other snorers, but that's not what I'd said.  She and the Pacific University students handling conferences got me a single room efficiently, in Clark Hall.  I was impressed.

At the AFSC meeting during lunch in the Alumni Room, some of the Friends were expressing appreciation for FCNL and AFSC working together on something (I forget exactly what).  For the record, I have mixed feelings about this.

There's a broad brush stroke psychology that has given up on working closely with Washington, DC, which doesn't mean the relationship is necessarily adversarial.  But why bottle-neck everything through one city that way, especially where groupthink (like-mindedness) has proved capable of entirely pathological acts:  invading Iraq for example.  That's enough right there to sideline this city until it learns to play the game ("world game") less awkwardly.  This neo-imperial period is a waste of fossil fuels by living fossils.

AFSC should cater to those not especially focused on Washington DC and its institutions, at least not in the sense of sucking up to them and/or trying to stroke its politicians' egos.  That's FCNL's job and the two approaches are not easily combined.

That's partly why I am not a fan of the "if I had a trillion dollars" video contest:  the "winners" got to visit the very city that's been wasting their trillions, swindling young people out of their could-have-been brighter futures, and now they get to learn how to "lobby" or maybe "write letters to the editor" -- a long list of ineffectual, not-working techniques that have not prevented Washington from making disturbingly horrible mistakes.

Let FCNL teach people how to "lobby".  AFSC should focus on how to work around these clowns and not waste its time inside the beltway so much.

Our Friends in Residence are from Jubilee House in Nicaragua.

I don't know if they associate Jubilee with the idea of hitting the reset button and rebooting key relationships, an old Catholic notion of zeroing out debts.  Recommended:  Debt, the First 5000 Years.  I like the way Greaber points to all the mythologizing that goes on in Economics, about how we got to where we are.  Storytelling R Us.

The Friends in Residence presentation aimed to get at the psychology of community work, something religious people get to take on full time thanks to their religious orders.  Doing work one considers ethical and obviously helpful to those in need is its own reward in some ways, or so the theologians have tended to agree?


One actually strengthens and develops as a result, and so prospers psychologically.  Doing the work that needs doing, if one can swing such a thing, tends to be satisfying, even when there's too much to be done and one is always facing inadequacy.  There's team work, there's relationship, and there's a shared sense of purpose.

So lets not talk of "great sacrifice" in the sense of giving up high living standards.  You may not be as physically consuming, but for a lot of us that's healthier anyway.  Malnourishment is a much a matter of consuming too much as too little.  "Affluenza" they call it.

I've mostly been hanging out with the old timers, like Sonya Pinney, whom I've known all my life.  Her kids are my age, and their kids are going to college (as is mine).  Gail Sanford.  Barb Janoe.  We sat outside during dinner, comparing notes.

Although I tell people I'm on retreat, I'm actually working full time, not having gotten off teaching.  Given my students are online, all I need is a not-too-choppy Internet connection.

Speaking of which, my 4dsolutions.net disappeared for awhile when Webfaction moved it and set the wrong DNS numbers.  I contacted them from my single dorm room in Clark and they realized their mistake.  I'm about to re-up with the registrar as well and momentarily wondered if the DNS issue was related to that (a company called Jumpline, Inc. is registrar for 4dsolutions.net).

Carol has been working hard with her doctor and Apria to make sure she can get some portable oxygen equipment in early August.  I helped her fill out and return a PDF on-line, harder than it sounds once you factor in all the settings Windows has regarding Wifi authentication.

Tara is maybe doing a few things for The Open Bastion.  Her summer has included working with them, Patrick in particular.  TOB produces Djangocon and Apachecon among others.

Sometimes I look up from my Python and post something math related.  Tonight that was to edu-sig, but earlier today, to math-teach.  Will my postings get through though.  I invest considerable time in those and yet sometimes they don't make it through the moderators.  Sometimes I park them elsewhere then.

Friday, July 12, 2013

eChurch Sermon

Copied from Facebook (hyperlinks added)

Social engineering in Portland: "Parks and Wreck" padlocked their Powell Park pavilion after padlocking the pavilion restrooms, because people were starting to use the park as a restroom. That's what happens when the only restrooms in a neighborhood belong to private residences and/or commercial businesses.

But that's the New America isn't it: mean spirited against anyone without a "business reason" for being outside their own little gated community.

Students at the large high school nearby, locked out of the pavilion, were herded away from the park and into nearby Burgerville, Wendy's and McDonald's, where their "obesity training" (fattening) could proceed apace.

Supersize 'em, then raise their health premiums.

"Parks and Wreck" is complicit, no longer seeing itself as promoting "healthy living". The plan for Colonel Summers: "a surge" (sound familiar?), a pathetic war on Americans without sufficient "net worth" to the corporate non-persons to deserve public facilities.

Portland is not that different because USAers are not that different: lots of pretense to being "generous" but now just trying to dominate the planet with people in uniform, a "surge" to rid the planet of "riff raff" (like in Panama, where Apache helicopters took out shanty towns for target practice).

"The spiritual wickedness of Americans" is the new sermon of choice I'd say, if you're into fire and brimstone. Bishop Tutu, tell it like it is. I think it's more Alzheimer's i.e. as the population ages (on average), it becomes more and more senile. The culture itself is dying: hardening of the mental arteries.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Dirty Wars (movie review)

Having recently read Mary's Mosaic, which drew me back to the writings of Col. Fletcher F. Prouty, I could appreciate the historical trajectory taken up by this film.

JFK's bitter disappointment with the CIA, when it failed to murder Castro, led him to memo the Pentagon saying that the Joint Chiefs would, in future, be the president's assassins and henchmen.

This was a new idea for the Eisenhower generation (Gen. Krulak's crew actually tried to keep Diem away from his executioners), but in Obama's day, the DC president has his military death squads, his hit teams, just what JFK dreamed of.

Scahill's thesis is that the White House is using its secret powers to create exactly the enemy it needs, a diffuse network that defies its will but is fairly easy to target and kill, often by remote controlEndless target practice with the latest weapons is the consequent opportunity, which means jobs jobs jobs for the weapons engineers.

Case in point, Awlaki starts out the peaceable all-American Imam, incisive with criticisms yet voting for Bush.  Then al-Awlaki watches the post-911 farce unfold, with Americans begging to be lied to and misled so they might feel good about the display of extreme ineptness that followed, with the City of Losers in the driver's seat.  He becomes more bitterly negative.  

At some point, he made the kill list, but has not yet been killed (in the movie).  Jeremy sees he has a real story here, watching a Nobel Peace Prize winning president pull the trigger on a Malcolm X like figure, and then kill his 16 year old boy.   

Nowadays we're watching the Oval Office go after Snowden while making similarly ironic remarks about his being a danger to other Americans.

The Yemeni journalist who first broke the story of a cruise missile attack in Yemen, the same story Scahill is covering, is someone the White House takes a personal interest in keeping behind bars.  

Scahill has a hard time believing it at first, but finds the public memo.  

He was at first skeptical that special forces were extracting bullets from their victims to conceal evidence, and using NATO to tell the cover stories ("the Taliban did it").  

But then he saw the evidence ("the American Taliban did it") and NATO finally admitted it when it became that obvious.

It's Andrew Jackson and the Indian Wars, sightly updated, and with the whole world infested with Indians and their sympathizers.  Sovereignty means nothing.

With vastly superior fire power, night vision, helicopters, you get a blood sport that's more thrilling than computer games, but not necessarily much more dangerous.  

You get a pay check, the president's gratitude, and you get to kill lots and lots of people, and torture others.  What a sweet job, if you're into that kind of thing.

These "American Taliban" as they're known (e.g. JSOC) will likely get more recruits as a result of this film.  Killing with impunity is an attractive occupation for many a psychopathology.  Apparently there's some correlation with having a beard.

It must feel great to have a president (and a vice president) on board, with the bleachers full of adoring, flag-waving fans -- including that war lord in Somalia, gushing with admiration for DC's world class cruelty.

I took my 84 year old mother to this film (she's the one who first told me about it). Living Room Theaters served us snacks.  Then Tara joined us and we went to Jake's, the seafood place.  Mom treated us to a meal, while reminding us there were still "good people" in Washington, DC.

Scahill does a lot to show that a few US citizens still have some common decency, meaning he is doing way more to protect ordinary American lives than any of the president's hatred-inspiring goons.

In questioning the legitimacy of murdering a US citizen and his son, Jeremy shows that at least a smattering of writers have a conscience, a taste for logic and ethics.  A lot of people helped with the editing.

I feel safer, as an American, knowing this DVD is getting out, to places like Yemen.  People will better understand that Washington, DC is a brutal oppressor domestically, not just overseas.

Indeed, that's been the understanding for a long time, it's just that here the story gets updated a little.

JFK's "imperial presidency" is alive and well.  "Murder, Inc." is now global.  DC continues to lose its war for hearts and minds, but then that's not even the goal any longer.

Satisfying a lust for blood seems to be the main theme these days, a rather simple foreign policy, whereas "defending the Constitution" seems to be not in the cards.  The war lords in Somalia feel right at home with this post-Constitution ("bankrupt and extinct" -- per Medal of Freedom winner) United States of America.

Some JSOC personnel do come forward, sensitive about history and uncomfortable with their Planet of the Apes role.  They're not feeling at ease working for the City of Losers.

With a stronger safety net, or even without it, some may find their way to less disreputable jobs.  They're being abused by politicians and career bureaucrats.  War is a racket.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Migrants Everywhere!

I was an invited guest at an intra-office staff meeting of the AFSC today, a joint meeting of Seattle and Portland in advance of some organizational reshuffling long in the cards.

On some level, Seattle may have been interested in Portland's experiment with an Area Support Committee, the latest version of what used to be called a Program Committee, yet more integrated across programs.  Lots of offices have them, not just Portland.

Portland's experiments have produced some useful outcomes, such as more cross-fertilization among the various groups represented (e.g. PSR), however, as always, the devil is in the details and it would be difficult to make sweeping generalizations, or conclusions that apply to Seattle in particular, based solely on Portland's unique experiences.

I learned more about A New Path, an AFSC publication designed to contribute to the ongoing discussion on immigration reform.

The new immigration bill, which has just passed the Senate and is headed to the House (US Congress) is heavy on enforcement and further militarization of the US-Mexico border.

Many of its provisions for advancing towards citizenship are contingent on militias claiming success in their war on freedom of movement and human liberties.   Unless the border is declared "90% secure", some of the proposed pathways to citizenship will remain closed off, i.e. the presumptive landlords will pick up their marbles and go home.

The majority of indigenous Americans have seen nothing but their rights further curtailed as successive presidents have asserted ever greater imperial control over their would-be / wanna-be empire.

Elizabeth Furse could tell you more of the story (she might have assumed Senator Packwood's position were it not for Ron Wyden's strong sense of entitlement).

Speaking of a sense of entitlement, lets add up the number of migrant workers wearing military uniforms, including with US insignias.  You'll find these migrants all over the world, lording it over the "little people" that live there.

Okinawa hosts a large number of such migrant workers, as does Cuba at Gitmo.  Of course these are actually occupations, as the migrants have no need of permission to squat in these countries.  They are present mainly through force of arms (including arm twisting), papered over.

Sometimes they pay rent, like in Kyrgyzstan.

In the case of Cuba, one rent check was cashed, post Cuban Revolution, and this was considered a green light to move in forever.

In the Philippines, it took a volcano to get Clark AB and Subic NB closed, or at least scaled back.

These migrant workers also expect to be serviced by large red light districts in most locations. Local people are encouraged to prostitute themselves for the benefit of these migrants (various types of destruction engineer mainly, trained to destroy life and property).

Talk about the tenant from hell.

We learned more about the "driver card" which gives some North American migrants a right to drive, but doesn't serve as a valid ID the way a real driver's license does, such as when boarding an airplane serving a domestic route.

I think putting a large shroud over the Statue of Liberty is in order, given the utter hypocrisy of the inscription.  It rings too hollow to be seemly in public.  The Shroud Project:  mourning the death of Liberty in America.

Migrants to the US have pretty successfully hijacked the place and now want it for themselves alone, having driven off or rounded up the Cherokee, Apache, Wabanaki etc.

Seasonal migration patterns going back thousands of years were interrupted with fences and now the ranch owners have become vigilante-minded about their so-called Doctrine of Discovery, which was followed by the "annexation" of vast territories (a mental process in Washington DC).

One group of migrants tries to lord it over the rest, as "the defacto landlord".  The landlord migrants rule by de-legitimizing (criminalizing) everyone else.  Vast military encampments (called bases) are just fine and dandy, but if you pitch a tent in a public park, you've criminally disobeyed the ban on camping.

These landlordy migrants are adroit when it comes to twisting the English language to make up whatever rules will keep other migrants subjugated and at their mercy.  Lawyers sometimes act surprised that the subjugated migrants defy the landlords.  Don't they see further encroachment of their rights as better than no rights at all?