Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Raging Against the King

Joe America has a simple model of reality.  The president is a King which is like a superhero, like Superman.  If things go wrong, they're convenient scapegoats, these Incredibles.

In her book EcoMind, Frances Moore Lappé circles our willingness to "build up" (project celebrities) then "tear down" (celebrate their fall from grace) as one of the energy traps that keeps us living more stupidly than need be.

Scapegoating our purported leaders is a major pass time and a hallmark of our irresponsibility.  In radical middle politics, we don't require super heroics to begin with, just a modicum of personal integrity -- even more than a modicum if one can afford it.

Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage
Can't make the same mistake this time
We are the children, the last generation
We are the ones they left behind

And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains

We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome

Read more: Tina Turner - 
We Don't Need Another Hero Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Friday, May 23, 2014

Portland Water in the News

Properly disinfecting surface water sources kills E. Coli:
Systems using surface water, rather than ground water, are required to take extra steps to protect against bacterial contamination because surface water sources are more vulnerable to such contamination. At a minimum, all systems using surface waters must disinfect. Disinfection will kill E. coli O157:H7.  [source]
So should Portland blame its reservoirs or the lack of sufficient treatment?

Contractors are in place to disconnect our hundred year old system, not because it's broken, but because the EPA says we have to.

Do underground, versus surface sources, also contain E. Coli sometimes?  Yes.

Given E. Coli has nothing to do with why the EPA wants this system shut down, we at least have a litmus test:  any politician using the E. Coli scare to make points for closing is willfully clueless and a self identified lackey for the contractors / businesses standing to gain financially from the EPA's one-size-fits all ruling.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Godzilla (movie review)

I enjoyed this more than I expected, coming in as a skeptic.  Given my birthday was starting around showtime, the Happy Birthday Daddy theme resonated some, and I could appreciate the nuclear family vibe (pun intended).  Allusions to Aliens (egg sacs) and Lost (Monarch) seemed present.  The human familial matrix was mirrored by the creatures, with that intelligent eye reminiscent of whale movies.  We recognize a fellow sentient being in Godzilla and company.

This is a great film for control rooms, so let me underline that meme again in this Control Room blog.  You have them in nuclear stations, on aircraft carriers, wherever command and control is exercised, as well as monitoring (it's a feedback loop).

The film has a young audience in mind and wants to show them bravery, loyalty, discipline and other positives.  What a great lesson in infrastructure.  The importance of electricity is never more obvious than when it suddenly goes away and planes fall from the sky.  EMP is a real danger in our age and in 2012 the planet narrowly missed a solar flare that could have had similar consequences.  Nature is not conducting itself with human life and civilization its front burner priority, though as humans we should take responsibility for developing more backup systems and better shielding.

I'd flown from Reno the same day and had been meditating on the vast wealth humans have created for themselves, in terms of cities, roads, agriculture.  Godzilla likewise reminds us that we live in a fairly advanced global civilization.  The science fiction did not have to push very far, once the creatures themselves were admitted.  The opening credits waste no time in that they help contribute to the back story.  My conversion from skeptic to fan had a lot to do with enjoying the back story.

My thanks to the vast army of professionals who worked on this thing, a visual feast / extravaganza.  We're also celebrating the state of the art in special effects (VFX) in this movie.  Audiences come with high expectations and, speaking for myself, I was not disappointed.  Judging from audience response, I was not alone in feeling appreciative.  The Bagdad's new sound and digital projection system got a great workout.

Prior to show time I tucked into Patti Smith's new autobio at Fresh Pot across the street, a walk through from Powell's (Asylum District) so one may snag and read, and sometimes buy.  I didn't get which Robert she meant until I finally read the dust jacket, given I was in my usual non-linear mode.  Lots of interesting twists.  I missed her co-appearance with Ralph Nader at my 25th Reunion, but certainly raved about it anyway.  Yeah, I thought Horses was good, we all did.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Intellectual "Property"

 I enjoyed the story on quinoa in the recent Harper's, among other stories.  Bolivians are understandably reluctant to contribute to a corrupt system that allows patenting of things they may already know, such as how to create male-sterile varieties.  The author doesn't mention Open Source and the revolution in the software industry that has already occurred.  Pfizer has been talking Open Source.  The biologists need to learn from the engineers.

Speaking of Open Source, I'm in the beautiful Lake Tahoe area, on the California side of the lake, at all all-hands meeting of the O'Reilly School of Technology.  O'Reilly Media, parent company, is a champion of Open Source in the world, as the organizer of the annual Open Source Convention, OSCON.  I'm one of the OSCON proposals readers / rankers though not a program or track chair.  We're in a meeting about the overhaul of our codebase, currently in progress.  Angular.js and Node.js are among the technologies we're moving towards.

Sean is urging that we remain friendly towards our competition.  For example CodeSchool does a free course on using Chrome dev-tools.  Referring our students to that should not be a problem.  We're looking out for what's best for our students.  We're not under the illusion that we have some monopoly or corner on the market.  This is about taking on the Open Source mentality, says Sean, seeing ourselves as part of a larger ecosystem and emphasizing collaboration over mindless competition.

Dan is hoping to improve the student experience with the creation of cloud-based gateways closer to students with fatter pipes on the back end.  We use a lot of terminal servers and a chief complaint of our students is the slowness of this connection.  We have some workarounds that work sometimes, but in this world everything becomes available through the web site.  We shall see.

Our courseware is open, but not our homework assignments as we want students to get the benefits of working through these projects themselves, not find cut and paste solutions on-line.  Having some secrets is not inconsistent with the Open Source ethic, though it may be in conflict with the Free Software ethic.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Slopey Dopey

Hah hah, check out this new way of providing a reclining position angle: slope the seating surface down so the back can stay straight.  Why hasn't that been thought of?  So endlessly creative, these advertising geniuses.

Who'd "sit" on one of these anyway, and was that ever the point?

No, never the point.

Billboards, pretending to be chairs.  The "might have been benches" series, conceptual art.