Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween 2011 (2 of 3)

:: halloween 2011 ::

If you're going to a big (small, or medium sized) Halloween party this year, tonight is probably the night, as the real Halloween is on Monday, hardly a night to be partying, given the rhythms.

It seemed like at least half the people were in costume on Trimet tonight, hard to tell about the other half.

I looked "plainclothes" with my silvery hair, know-it-all glasses, black fatigue jacket (not really what it's called). No helmet though, so maybe not a costume. Had a cuffka though.

I wanted to scope out the Jamison Park operation, same as I'd done on Holladay. I got more out of the latter, in terms of work, food, and kudos for FNB (our Riseup list had been one of the planning vehicles). This maneuver felt more like a dodge, a diversion, a non-event, as we consolidated off camera.

Passers-by, mostly party-goers, were joking about the "1%" counter-demonstration they could stage, in spoof of the 99%'s. They could have champagne and caviar, and politely ding their glasses with silverware, repeating after the toastmaster in high GA style.

Some guy with a pizza was commanding the center, so clearly not an FNB operation in any case, though I did spy some familiar faces. Mostly I sat on a back bench near the horses, looking somewhat the part, then I got sidetracked taking pictures, didn't wait around to see what went down at the witching hour of midnight. I didn't want to miss the last 14 (timed it perfectly).

Earlier though, I did file my trailer report (CC a few others) sharing some details with the clan.

This has been an interesting learning experience, a rehearsal in a lot of ways (see below).

Koski phoned as I was heading to the bus. We've been experiencing more of the usual nerf brawls on Synergeo, a way of killing time given the world has no place for our little subculture. Gotta do something when you're in a petting zoo holding pattern, or whatever hell.

Last night, I stopped by the CTO's office coming back from PSU, and dropped off some Halloween stuff, authorizing Kuffka dot com on my Visa (same with Cuffka earlier). I like wearing either one (a joke: it's the same thing, just two names for one object, like in a Python namespace).

Speaking of Python, I graded about 95 "papers" today (all electronic, not tree pulp). I also answered a lot of student emails. A regular workday for me.

The next morning (October 30) I joined Jay Elder in representing Food Not Bombs at Coffee Plus, an SDW institution. I'd been on my way on my bike to Social Hour at Quakers, spacing out on this invite from Sara Fischer (I'm a creature of habit, on autopilot sometimes) when I got the cell call reminder.

I did a 180 and became an Episcopalian for the day, running into Clint Dodson, an old Friend, and joking more about Beanites. He'd been a ship's chaplain, is steeped in Christianity big time. I explained about my joining FNB cooking crews here sometimes.

Clint is quite interested in interfaith dialog, like with Buddhists, and seemed secretly please that our SE quadrant is known as "the Buddhist ghetto" in some circles (I'd not heard that exact phrase). That sounds exotic and fun, like "Little Lhasa" (a comeback to Bush Sr. staffers' "Little Beirut" -- all monikers for Portland more generally).

Jay did all the talking when our turn came to do a spiel. First though, was Oregon Food Bank, which had sent a volunteer. He and I got to talking, as I had a long history with OFB back when Patty was doing dispatch and allocations and stuff, and I was her dBase guy. I cut a lot of teeth working with that operation, learned a lot about food and food security issues.

As I was riding over to St. David of Wales, I was thinking my Grumpy T-shirt was inappropriate and planned to keep my coat on. Fortunately, SDW was selling its trademark "Got Ritual?" T in my size, so I grabbed one and did a quick change in a booth. First though, I did a little impromptu ritual myself, setting up this tableau and memorializing it with my camera:

Memorial Tableau

That's my helmet, so this could be considered foreshadowing. I also got a shot in the mirror, later. I ended up wearing the jacket anyway though, rather than take off the Kuffka, which might have looked too menacing with the black T, worn by a relative stranger in their midst, albeit one with silvery hair.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Thinking about AFSC

I was interviewed last night by an NPYM person regarding my role as NPYM "corp rep", meaning I'm a member of the AFSC corporation as nominated by NPYM as a kind of "agency - meeting go-between" (yes, we say "laison" sometimes). I'm not the only corp rep from NPYM: we have four. My term goes until 2014. I've been in this role before.

Anyway, during that interview I wondered aloud if the role I'm playing with Occupy Portland is with my "corp rep" hat on, or not. I do forward some memos to an Occupation point person in Philly, but one could say I'm doing that on behalf of FNB, just updating a sister organization with commensurate interests and investments (an affiliate).

The AFSC traces its origins to providing refugee assistance after and during the first few world wars, and to "work camps", many of them alternatives to military service, organized as a way for Friends to provide relief and counter-balancing intelligence (they would put out fires a lot, sometimes by jumping from airplanes).

I'm seeing this heritage, of refugees and camps, coming together in contemporary situations, with the Occupation in particular, and am wondering if "camps" and "camping" should once again become the unifying AFSC theme in the following sense:

In addition to:
  • refugee camps, and
  • disaster zone camps, we have
  • military camps (also known as bases) and
  • prison camps (also known as prisons)
  • farm worker and/or labor/mining camps, sweat shops
The character of an infrastructure may change.

A camp may start out as military, but as the troops come to feel increasingly prisoners of foreign and/or alien policies that don't respect them or have anything to do with their best interests, these bases become prison camps, complete with stoploss, other enslaving measures.

To escape these prison camps is to "go AWOL" and results in penalties. Yet to stay is to betray one's higher conscience and/or one's sense of better judgment.

The AFSC is very familiar with such cases (as is Amnesty International) and has been in routine communication with slave soldiers (many of them minors) for many decades, including troops who are actually in prisons (called that even by the tyrants).

A camp may start out with mostly "refugees", i.e. people with few prospects or assets where they came from, in search of a better life. Here's a quick comment from that Willamette Week article about Occupy Portland which I thought was pretty good:
I have read more than several journal and first hand accounts of living in remote and very populated mining camps in the second half of the 19th century. The mass of confined humanity, all with some purpose, little of which was actual mining, squeezed together on some forgotten draw or playa high in the mountains of the West. Someone starts a newspaper, and a committee forms to bring law and order. Gamblers arrive to glean whatever, and soon there are hired Chinese or Indians doing the actual mining until Irish and Welsh miners arrive to take away those jobs. Not for a share of the find, but for wages. Itinerant Jewish peddlers set up dry goods and hardware stores. And the "find" is found, and used up, and in less than a year or two, the burgeoning burg goes from zero to several thousand in population, and then back to a handful of hangers on. (posted by dude)
I think Quakers are often hardy types, with good outdoor skills, good camping skills, or else they may well aspire to become such.

AFSC should be our training provider, such that we build our logistics and collaboration skills around the world, in tandem with camp staffs (from many walks of life).

We should think more about "occupying" facilities that have turned ugly and criminal, and helping to transform them from within. We could declare Gitmo to be "ours" for example, and compete with the illegitimate chain of command that has been subverting commanders in chief since Bush, who also wanted it closed.

We'll work with the base personnel we already work with, per the prison camp scenario.

Finally, a prison may become something more like a school and/or rehabilitation center, providing skills training and networking opportunities. Many of those enlisted currently have prison records. Some are in service in exchange for reduced sentences.

The difference between a prison and a military base is often one of degree, ditto refugee camps, wherein the newly homeless may have nowhere to go.

Remember that guards are part of a prison and soldiers often view the surrounding population as their prisoners, in the sense of those whom they've conquered. That's not with reference to Iraq or Afghanistan of course, as in neither case have the military command structures managed to extirpate the indigenous civilian (aka "insurgent") processes (same as in America, at least in some zip codes).

Military control over Afghanistan is an oxymoron, as "military control" is but a euphemism for "uncontrollable impulses" expressed as violence. Use of outward violence is a breakdown in self-discipline, according to most seasoned experts in the martial arts. That's what every mom and pop storefront tends to teach, at least around this neighborhood, and on the TV show Kung Fu with David Carradine.

The AFSC could help military occupations become more civil, more like refugee camps, where expats are huddled, close to unemployed, but for the mayhem they're paid to create ("putting themselves in harms way" as they say, requiring more fighting to "stay out of harms way" i.e. the troops must be protected, why they're there, why we fight).

This would involve continuing the work we're already doing: supporting individuals of conscience who wish to disobey their imprisoning authorities and stop behaving like criminals.

This is what happened in Vietnam a lot. Many vets ended up as Quakers at the end of the day, still good at camping, and determined to not let it happen again (but it did, resulting in so many more POWs).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In a Nutshell

Q: I have yet to understand how we let corporations become people.

A: when Lincoln freed the slaves and said "you have full rights" the railroad companies said "hey, we want our full rights too" (corporations hadn't been real people either)

Excerpt from Math Forum:

> "OPDX campus", PSU ?? What are they?

OPDX is a temporary public simulation giving young
people opportunities to develop leadership skills and
to recompute the equations that govern our society.
They put their values into action, negotiate with city
and state authorities, run food and sanitation logistics,
face bitter cold. All in the heart of downtown Portland.
It's a bold project for which the surrounding universities
take little credit (and deserve less).

PSU is Portland State University which does have
a Systems program with some life in it, and a world
famous Urban Studies program (thanks to Dr. Carl Abbott
et al).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meeting with FCNL

Diane Randall is the new chief of this age-old Quaker institution, one of the first religious-based lobbies on Capitol Hill. She's following John Volk in this position.

We may not be as influential as the Unification Church, which has made lots of inroads, but people still say Quakers should be listened to, even if only out of nostalgia (they like our horse and buggy ways, reminds them of simpler times).

I chauffeured mom to Reedwood Friends for this one, same room as Willamette Quarterly Meeting. Interesting to be back so soon, but this time surrounded by indigenous Reedwooders, whom neither of us know very well.

Mom is a long time activist and of course would want to be here, but then she finds WILPF roots for her causes more directly, given its radical women.

She admires FCNL though, along with QUNO and AFSC (she serves on the board of this latter).

Then we'd be off to the airport, for her flight to Las Vegas and the Nevada Test Site, where she has business.

Diane discussed the Occupation with us rather tentatively as it's not widely understood by church or synagogue groups ala EMO, although they may feel swept up in it, sense its importance in the zeitgeist. AFSC has come out in favor, and I got a poster planted.

Many have these nagging thoughts of Arab / Islamic roots, possible behind-the-scenes players who might be against Christmas shopping or adult book stores, or have designs against Israel more likely (actually no one here voiced that specific concern, but I've heard it from others -- one guy did hint about Arab advisers (perhaps using Facebook?)).

We yakked about Tunis and Cairo as originating capitals.

I kept my mouth shut about Food Not Bombs (I said not a word through any of this), but the idea is the same: agency from outside, originating in state capitals perhaps, but not in Washington DC nor even Salem so much.

Vancouver possibly?

Maybe Hanoi if you want to count Intel (a big player in these parts).

Lots of companies want to sponsor good works in foreign lands, not just those incorporated in the State of Maryland.

Speaking of which, yes, we may have hit a ceiling in terms of what North American hospitals will provide to OPDX through their clinics. No dialysis, no free eye exams (Lindsey needs new glasses), no free dentistry, not even in surrounding bizmos. At least not yet.

Basic human services are being denied (as expected), because the "richest nation on earth" is broke and in hock.

In terms of personnel, I haven't seen the usual flock of Catholic-trained nurses, usually on hand to help the homeless. But the days of cute uniforms are over perhaps. These professionals blend in.

Sometimes Asian traditions have cures as well, and a lot of note comparing goes on, generating some new business elsewhere around town. Having a buzz town is a lot better than having a mall (why not have both?). This place reminds me of Piazza Navona around Xmas time.

OPDX is a kind of switchboard. Higher bandwidth than Internet, and more accessible to points of view that usually don't get much air time.

Diane has inherited the creaky old system set in place after World War II and the Eisenhower administration. Congress would carve up a giant pie, called the prime contractors pie (or "irrigation system" in some tellings).

A trickle down form of centralized government spending would feed a vast socialized wealth redistribution system built up around campuses (both land based and floating) most with their own airports, hospitals, movie theaters and supermarkets. The aircraft carrier flotillas would be made here, there and everywhere, as a result of logrolling and deal making.

You saw that scheme in action with the Spaceshuttle program. Part of the reason for those O-Rings was so the sections could be short enough for train transport. Utah was blessed, but so were the others.

All 50 federated states
would collaborate, to some degree, on militarization as a way of life. As might be expected, the results were pretty ugly (witness Belau). Eisenhower had been prescient. USAers lost their innocence and optimism and toiled in servitude, their dreams betrayed, a mostly conquered people drinking Victory Gin and loving Big Brother.

If the choice was between Athens and Sparta, the choice was Sparta. Plowshares would be beaten into swords. No "peace dividend" would appear. Diane worked on the nuclear freeze movement years ago. Today that campaign is called Countdown to Zero and has more teeth.

And that was one of the questions for Diane from a Friend: is it the very business of government to create wars as a means of stimulating the economy? If that's your mental model, so much government does makes perfect sense all of a sudden.

Her answer was careful: some have that agenda, yes, but to implicate "government" as a whole of this crime is to implicate all of us who think we're part of the governing (steering) process. She was wisely non-self-incriminating in other words. Many are not so careful, freely confessing to war crimes in public.

To be fair to the ancestors, our world did appear to be heating up back then in Eisenhower's day, and not because of global warming, which wasn't in the popular consciousness. It was easy to pander to fear, to encourage and leverage hysteria. Politicians have been working the fear factor ever since, have it down to a fine art.

Can you blame them? They want your vote.

So the scary Cold War would stretch on through Reagan, then get hot again under Clintons in Bosnia, then start to thaw in the Arab Spring.

Democracy meant a more multi-polar world emerging, and lots more states with capitals, all vying to be heard.

Virtual states, corporations... even universities were starting to sponsor booths and to recruit more aggressively. The Gates Foundation proved once again that you don't need to be a nation-state to be an important player. On the contrary, mega-states have high inertia, like the Titanic, and rarely turn on a dime. Smaller means more agile.

I disagreed with some of the analysis coming from some members of the congregation, regarding the Vietnam War and it's conclusion in the early 1970s, when I was still in high school in the Philippines (we visited Saigon sometime in there).

Some suggested it was protests at home, domestic agitation, which got the profiteers out of overdrive. There's something to that, but then LAWCAP can be such a bull in a china shop and not really understand what it's breaking at the time. The webbing of nation-states, only recently instituted under Anglo rule, was pretty fragile.

If the former colonialists couldn't contain themselves, the notion of "national sovereignty" would fall by the wayside, would be seen through as a sham.

Anyway, I'd say stopping that bull took a real military awakening to the truly illegitimate actions of a sitting president, a figurehead for organized crime (as seen in retrospect). The commander in chief faced a mutiny, pure and simple. He was lucky to get out.

Sorting out the history, doing the audits, takes time.

Telling more of that story might help a younger generation avoid repeating various mistakes. That's something to get into on movie nights. Laughing Horse is probably on it. KBOO has it covered as well.

We probably don't need the Broadway Metroplex then, though I do think we'd get more of the 99% participating if we had more venues, more Lightning Talks. Some of the sponsors might see why even people doing their day jobs could benefit from more public speaking opportunities.

Having this be a separate initiative, also with city support, would be a way to transition some of the conversation to alternative media channels. We might get more vans in the picture. I'm thinking the Mir Corps jets at Troutdale airport, with matching eye care vans, could wait until closer to Thanksgiving though?

Also, the format for public speaking could be varied were the theater-based GOSCON type model followed (that was at The Nines, also nearby -- I know some staff). The speeches would not need to be repeated using human amplification, a signature technique of the occupation forces.

I should do some more tweets about it maybe. Or feel free to tweet yourself if the idea interests you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wanderers 2011.10.20

The biggest surprise of the day: Gordon Hoffman at Wanderers this morning. He was in good shape, talking up all his pet topics, chief among them the bankrupting of the state by state unions.

You'd think Buzz, former Rush Limbaugh conservative (right Buzz?) would be hot against that position, and you'd be right. Sparks flew. I missed a lot of it, as I was rushing Jim Buxton's chantrelles back to mom at the Blue House, then got into a back office quagmire with some math teachers. Some Wanderers went out for breakfast later, at Mt. Tabor Cafe: Di Nucci, Bunce, Mastin, Wardwell and myself. Stockton has a cold, as do I (lots of coughing), as does Lindsey (has it worse, given sleep deprivation at OPDX).

Speaking of OPDX, I went there next on TriMet, partly to get the scoop on the "missing child" episode that had so exercised some grownups. The 10-year-old had wanted to protest against Bank of America "because they took my mom's money", and to get a makeover at Nordstrom's. No, I wasn't there. Lindsey was helping to look after her, after she (the 10 year old) dumped most the paint in the art booth into her own hair. Where was mom? People put the story together later. No one behaved wrongly, unless you count youthful exuberance as somewhat over the top. Because Officer Walker had been providing some adult supervision, I figured she might know something, and she did. But then that was just one scenario among many in the fast moving action.

Ever hear of Crazy Mary? They want to share our FNB tent site. I got back to the guy right away after he queried the PDXFNB list. I've been suggesting Friends use that tent as a landmark to congregate, if looking for one another. Our OPDX Support Committee is just forming. I'm not on it (that committee), as my role is already cut out with FNB, which has been using the Multnomah Friends kitchen since last September (until OTY moved to NE). St. David of Wales is also in support of FNB logistics, so VBC may want a footprint as well. The irony: real estate in PDV is going through the roof as people angle for a booth ala Saturday Market, and yet they're really not about making money (at least not yet). Fancy that.


Supporting OPDX

New FNB Tent

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Science Pub

Given last week was such a hoot, I almost tripped over myself getting here this time, with Tara. Lew Scholl called from The Bagdad, already seated. We all partook of McMenamins fare, and waited for our three Oregon-based innovators to be interviewed. Glenn joined us at the beginning, but stayed on his schedule.

Eric Dishman, the sociologist with Intel was going over familiar ground, describing what Ron Braithwaite had packaged for a Canadian audience: CareWheels (which, somewhat counterintuitively, is about less car use, not more).

The goal is to disrupt over-reliance on hospitals as the default primary care site. You could have more neighborhoods with more facilities.

Imagine a small cath lab right near the Jiffy Lube. Not that far fetched...

OK, maybe not a cath lab, unless you have an OR for backup -- but now we're talking micro-hospital. Other clinical facilities, certainly. Lets rezone the suburbs to make some of those houses serve more community functions, not just talking about funeral homes or houses of worship. Yes to hydroponics and plantagon type solutions. No to clogging the arterials with commuter clot "rush hours" (such an ironic term).

Given the average age is drifting older, if not wiser (maybe wiser), the goal is to make those dwelling units finally get smarter and take better care of us. The funny thing is, for our houses to get smarter, we have to as well. Our level of public discourse has to budge up from where it's at, under the iron fist of an Idiocracy.

Yes, we've been hearing about this "peace dividend" for years, I realize. But politicians, as a class, seem to ever self-organize to block any advance towards the public increasing its smarts (such as by learning Civics, having voting machines to play with in the high schools).

Yet local inhabitants (occupants) still seem to think there's some reason for hope, despite the "lets get a war on" morons and their profit-taking. The 1% are among the least imaginative sometimes.

The Wieden + Kennedy guy, Iain Tait (one of the mad men) is something of a videogame-aholic. He'd turned his time in the Cyber Detox camp (like they have in Korea -- no screens of any kind) into a learning experience, discovering his thinking could keep up with his fingers when he had to hand write, versus use a keyboard. Usually his fingers would type on ahead, faster than his thinking. Slowing down was a fun experience -- worth getting back to now and then.

He wouldn't be without his computers though, not for long.

And he still thinks games are more engaging than say, commercials. Where else do you get 40 hours of sustained attention, in a frenetic / ADD-ridden / multi-tasking world?

He sounds like one of my Coffee Shops Networks avatars. Why hire him away when you've got such talent already on the job? Open source business plans kick into high gear without forcing anyone to drop everything.

Ward Cunningham was somewhat elusive about what he's working on, but it sounds like a DVCS for wikis. Mercurial meets MePedia or something like that, where the integrity of an individual's point of view is not so disrupted or trammeled upon as everyone scrambles to "control" the content.

This alternative picture sounds closer to my earlier ideas about hypertext (pre 1990s), where you'd be able to load "links according to Linus Pauling" and traverse exhibits in just his particular network.

Authors, like angels, could take you by the hand and lead you through the web, almost as though no other authors existed -- at least while you let them hold you.

Scholars would slide between authors rather smoothly sometimes, comparing and contrasting, meanwhile leaving their own webs (scenario maps, audit trails).

I used to auto-generate papers about this stuff and share them with the then leadership behind the Library of Congress (seemed like a logical step... if one were president (badaboom... laugh track)).

Now I'm not sure how much all this dovetails with Ward's thinking, but at least we're agreed that there's more than one way to imagine hypertext. Project Xanadu is yet another model.

The Bagdad audience was enthusiastic and worked hard to concentrate. We were one collective furrowed brow, thinking furiously, a Rodin sculpture. Sam Hill helped us become a thinking town. We're avid readers.

The conversations amongst the panelists, eventually extending to include whoever wanted to grab a microphone, were somewhat metaphysical in the sense of ephemeral. We were in the clouds much of the time.

Yet the problems were real enough: a family member has Alzheimer's and current "solutions" suck when it comes to care giving.

The civilian sector is way under-served, given technologies in the wings, and we all know it. With intelligent gaming / simulation, we can think / imagine our way into a future where we simply take a lot better care of ourselves.

Why not?

And hypertext will keep helping us get there, help us with dreamweaving.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Another October Maneuver

All Flags Tie

While waiting for the 14 with mom, I dipped into Oasis for a cold one. The woman behind the counter, also a mom, was happy to chat about my day, so I told her about mom being this anti weapons-in-space activist, newly self-educated on the drones issue. Our signs are about drones. We're heading to the march.

I yak with mom about Jerome's observation that Newsweek got a facelift and has left Time in the dust when it comes to good journalism. Resolving to check it out for myself, I dipped into Powell's on Hawthorne (no bus was immanent) heading straight to the magazine rack through Fresh Pot. I couldn't find either mag. "They must be too mundane" I joked with the cashier, buying 2600 28:3 instead. Freddies probably has Newsweek. Maybe tomorrow.

I used to do this (engage in protest marches) from my stroller, same town, same mom, protesting A-bombs and strontium-90 in the milk, other Cold War Craziness [tm]. Those were the early 1960s, pre-Beatles almost. I reminisced with Matt at Hopworks tonight about president Kennedy getting shot. We were 5ish.

The march snaked around the downtown, including through PDV a few times, about 3500 people. We started near Arlington Club (where Applewhites stayed), where I chit chatted with Quakers. Peter Ford, Audrey and Jim Metcalf... Josh was in his medic role (at the Occupation too maybe). Lindsey and I both have colds (we're not here together, just criss-crossing paths).

Darren Kenworthy and I did most of the march (a walk) in tandem, discussing history and philosophy, while weaving paths with mom and her WILPF friends.

Trevor's new book, Portland Memorials, has mom's name (Carol Urner) on page 88, from the Walk of the Heroines memorial at PSU.

Our posters were on the esoteric side, is what I was telling the Oasis lady. Something about War being Hell in the Heavens on the one side, pictures of weird models of drone, including tiny ones, on the other.

A former school district head from Seattle stopped to check my level of God consciousness. He had lots of stories. He was worried the use of religious terms on my sign might signify some disrespect for religious teachings (I disrespect many religious teachings, as well as secular). We had a good long friendly discussion, ending up talking about a role model in Costa Rica.

I'd been mentioning in passing on a physics list today (University of Buffalo) about Oregon drones (drones Made in Oregon). We'd like to sell them to civilians even more, for civilian uses. They're pretty cool (some of them). Why buy into the hellish distopian nightmares the monkey-brain politicians are purveying? "Are we not men?" Who needs them to dictate our future?

My educated guess is the 99% would prefer not to retreat to some Rocky Mountain apartments before pushing the buttons to end it all, how about you? I know some soldiers who wouldn't mind trying their hand at civil services either, the kind of job many already have in their current occupations (not all military jobs are especially violent, or some are but only through side effects).

Engineering the destruction of obsolete and no longer safe buildings is something many young people have gotten good at.

The by-now-old idea of a Peace Dividend seems semi-rational. Remember Beyond War? How about ending hunger by 2000? Do we despise these former hopeful selves? Why should we? I'm still for Project Renaissance, after all these years.

Speaking of Project Renaissance, note how I talk up the similarities between Greenpeace and NATO, in the sense that we were talking using paramilitary tactics. The environmentalists, with their high powered boats on Animal Planet, sparring with the whalers, are a sight to behold. Kids love getting these role models from adults.

I don't see NATO doing anything that inspiring and wouldn't mourn its dissolution now that it has had its day. "Said the professor".

Tara had a driving lesson with Elizabeth Braithwaite today. She's agitating for a gym membership. I quit all such memberships in the dire straits chapter.

Check out the new head shop down from Hopworks, same mall. That makes four within a few blocks. Leaving Amsterdam to bear the brunt has been a hallmark of PNW cowardice, the way some people tell it at Angelo's.

I'm back to browsing again. My realization, talking to Daren, is the university life style is pretty good for some people, and a goal of many out of college is to recreate something of the living standard. That means a lot of access to information.

Having hypertext, which I prayed for in the 1980s, after Princeton, means browser-wanderers like me can kick back on a Saturday night and watch old anti-Nazi cartoons, by Disney, Looney Tunes and others. There's lots to enjoy in cyberspace, in culture more generally.

Matt talked a lot about old plays and movies, a walking library of allusions. deFunkt was actually staging one of the plays he talked about. I'll get a picture of the poster, upload it to Photostream.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Esozone Talk

My meetings with Trevor tend to be illuminating. I'm reminded of those meetings twixt Greenspan and the US Treasurer (Alcoa guy, O’Neill) in the Loyalty book.

People are always having these meetings in these books (like Obama's Wars), working things out, like Tenet with that other guy bucking for the same job in Storm's Center. Obscure titles (esoteric). Not that I think of Trevor as Greenspan, though he is up on his Ayn Rand (and many other writers).

Smedley Butler, was he really a Quaker? He had Quaker roots.

The Bonus Army, WWI vets who were owed yet uncompensated, started their protest at the very same spot as Occupy Portland. The occupation spread to a Hooverville near DC, where Smedley talked to the crowd, spent the night.

Then the military became vicious (against later president Eisenhower's wishes), turning on its own from another generation. Americans attacking Americans, yet again.

Some from the Bonus Army ended up in Florida with the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps, where strategically withheld information left them wide open to a hurricane, and many more met their doom.

"War is a Racket" as this highly decorated soldier, Smedley Butler, knew and wrote. Wall Street had tried to recruit him as a coup leader ("Business Plot") for their nascent fascist state but he blew the whistle and told Congress, which felt some embarrassment that its paymasters had been so indiscreet, and "the Fighting Quaker" so noble.

New Aquisition
:: newest purchase ::

Monday, October 10, 2011

Processing Symbols

Lindsey summoned myself and her other friends to the park this evening. Not all of us could be there, but I made the time, having something of a bodyguard reflex. Of course some friends were already there. Hi Fallon... James.

She was distraught that Occupy Portland might be co-opted by flag wavers, turning this into a tamer political movement with a mostly domestic focus, one that forgets all about the violence and oppression propagated in the name of the USA overseas, by its various backers and sponsors (puppet masters, whatever).

I understood her complaint, in light of the fact that a Stars & Stripes had made it to the forefront of today's march (all reporters agreed on this point of fact), and that a speech had been made in the park suggesting "reclaiming the flag" as a theme, the thought being that previous protest movements had fumbled, in treating Old Glory in some disrespectful manner (like by burning it or whatever).

Rather than enter this fray, by making the flag be a symbol, either as an idol of worship or as a symbol of evil and oppression, Lindsey wanted to keep "red white and blue" out of the picture entirely. She didn't want this global movement tainted with nationalism, which she sees as part of the problem (Albert Einstein would likely be in her camp on this one -- another smart cookie).

The General Assembly listened to her proposal to disavow the red, white and blue helium balloons, left over from the Portland Marathon, where they formed an archway for runners. These had become incorporated into the camp decor. She wanted everyone present to understand her concerns. She had physically attacked the balloons earlier (by popping them), but had been persuaded to delay further action until the group could be made aware of the principles involved. She then took possession of the balloons so she could more effectively be a spokesperson for her point of view. This is around when I got called in, by Lindsey and other organizers.

The Assembly decided it had never embraced any flag in the first place. People had their individual freedoms to express patriotism or whatever values (certainly there's lots of civic and national pride in some of the occupants), but there was no overt adoption of any nationalistic decals at this point.

The web sites seemed to bear this out, although again, individual protestors sometimes used nationalistic motifs, as is their right. Like I'd been waving a Swedish flag, at least indirectly, in my post from Ikea. I joked with Lindsey whether yellow and blue balloons would have been such a problem (Swedish flag), but she's not keeping up with my blogs, so this went over her head, naturally, and besides, I'm often somewhat indecipherable / obscure, so was just staying in character, playing me, somewhat of a comfort (we might hope) in these highly strung circumstances.

Lindsey said she understood the General Assembly's reaction (a lot of confusion), which had been expressed privately to her earlier -- but she and other organizers had insisted on a public discussion of this issue during Assembly, and not just in private conversations. Lets talk about symbols and how we wish to relate to them, so the process is transparent. Having national flags appear in various guises, branding the event, without public comment, or with only the one (controversial) "reclaiming" speech, would be too opaque (too secret) and therefore insidiously contrary to the democratic values of these self-governing event participants.

As we waited for the meeting, I expressed my sense of irony: the red, white and blue balloons were garnering a lot more attention thanks to her clutching them for hours, and some observers, judging from a distance, were likely interpreting her behavior as more flag waving. She easily disabused any within earshot of this notion, and spoke in no uncertain terms when given the microphone later.

I also invited her to spar with me as if I were a "reclaimer" (as in "reclaiming the flag"). I opened with the argument that some native American art incorporates the Stars & Stripes and re-spins it, makes it mean in a different namespace. She wasn't wanting to spar though, being both sleep deprived and in need of true supporters, not devil's advocates or philosophers.

After several people had expressed their thoughts about the balloons, Lindsey expressed her appreciation for the process, and then withdrew her proposal to explicitly disavow this symbol, saying she understood the objection that it had never been adopted. The GA then gladly allowed her to run her own meeting off to the side, about the fate of the balloon tower. Given this was not a symbol of the occupation, what happened to the balloons was no longer of core concern.

As we left the meeting, balloons in tow, a few people came out of the woodwork to express sincere patriotism. They thought maybe we were going to disrespect a symbol. Others were still on board with an earlier proposal, not Lindsey's, to buy more balloons of more colors, and add these to the pillar, making it more of a rainbow affair.

Lindsey had at first championed this proposal, but then heard reminders from Tre, Jen and myself that buying balloons was hardly an eco-friendly maneuver either, so while we're on the subject of symbolism, lets just make balloons have no further role. She changed her proposal at the last minute to leave immediate popping and disposal of the balloons on the table as a possible outcome.

I wish I'd had my camera, but I went down there in a hurry. The pillar of balloons, when not in an archway shape, ascended for over 100 feet I'm pretty sure. We had to make it more dragon shaped, more snake like, to wend it through the crowds beneath the canopy of trees, from the pre-meeting (park based) to the main meeting (street based). I mentioned my Chinese Gate pictures to Lindsey, suggesting the snaking balloons were more Chinese, which was fitting, as Portland is an Asian city in some ways (Pacific Rim and all that) -- me being obscure again.

The upshot of it all, as determined in the post-meeting, was the balloons would have to be disposed of responsibly sooner or later and not in any messy way, such as by just letting them go, so best to pop them now and get it over with, then pack out the detritus. However, about half the pillar was set aside for another group of tents, which wanted to do something artistic with them. We'll see what they do (or maybe not -- I may lose the thread at this point, so check with other bloggers if interested).

The biggest adrenaline rush for me was when the guy with the security arm band got all exercised about my having a pocket knife (a gift from Glenn). I was helping with the disposal process, popping a few with the blade as Lindsey held them. He decided I was a reprehensible individual and threatened me with bodily harm should I approach him more closely, even after I'd closed the pocket knife. In his defense, he had no idea Lindsey and I were co-occupants of the Blue House or that I'd been summoned to assist as a trusted individual. I was just some guy with a knife, perhaps stepping in recklessly.

The occupants have a lot of untrained rather unprofessional people doing the best they can in these arm band roles. I immediately retreated and made no further use of my pocket knife. The balloons were not really my problem to deal with. I'd performed in my cameo role.

Lindsey walked away too, soon thereafter, having clutched these balloons for hours, satisfied with the process and eager to step out of the limelight, as her powerful persona (which several had remarked on) was not the point. She'd been acting on principle, as were many on this world stage.

Food Not Bombs in general has been sticking to its guns, cracking down on paper plate use, other thoughtless / wasteful behaviors. Tempers flare in these circumstances.

Lindsey herself was in no physical danger. Many had rallied to her side and accepted her leadership role. She then told me I was free to leave in her polite manner and I rolled home soon thereafter, reassured she was OK, if strung out. Jen and Tre had also come down in support of their friend (Melody would have, but she's got a lot on her plate -- I kept her updated by borrowing cells, as my battery had died).

Tre was upset by all the tobacco smoking going on, with people not confining it to a GA-designated area. At least one of the park characters was actively pushing tobacco smoking, giving out free cigs. Perhaps cig smoking served to counter body odor, other smells? That's how it worked on the Blueback (a submarine) according to OMSI guides.

I'd taken the car thinking I might need to evacuate my friend Lindsey (this was her car originally, with both our names on the title today), given her distressed tone and the organizers saying to please hurry, but really, she was taking fairly logical action around an emotional issue, and following a group process.

Better to let things run their course and let the high notes stay high. My role was not to extricate but to participate in a low key manner, to chat with the various players, sharing perspectives.

People need to pace themselves if expecting to stay at the site for the long haul, get away for R&R sometimes. The same applies to any police working this beat. I hope we see lots of rotation. That will give more fresh volunteers a crack at a front row seat, and bragging rights for later.

On that note, I plan to visit Holladay Park on the east side tomorrow, where a different action is planned for Columbus Day. FNB has been named as an accomplice and I want to make sure we're not dropping the ball on this one.

By the way, I've noticed some bloggers poking vicious fun at the way GA meetings tend to rely on repetition by the crowd, of whatever someone is saying. I agree this tends to look silly and unnecessary when the speaker is using a bullhorn, but that wasn't what was happening in this meeting.

Running a real microphone to any would-be speaker in the crowd is not always practical, so having the crowd loudly repeat what anyone is saying, once recognized, is a way to keep the meeting from either degenerating and/or being dominated by those few with access to electricity. With all that repetition, everyone is better able to follow what's being said and decided, plus one needs to listen well enough to repeat, a skill in itself if you're not used to really listening.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

WhereCampPDX 2011

Ironically, I forgot where Metro was and got lost looking for it. Although I have a Google Android in the company taxi, it has no thoughts on these matters, as I have no designated sponsorships earmarked for any on board GPS at the moment. The Android itself is from the Mighty Python Empire.

I phoned mom and she looked up Metro's location on the web for me. I'd driven right by the place. She asked if dad used to be director of Metro, but I don't think Metro yet existed when he headed up the Portland Planning Bureau in the 1960s, before taking the job with the Libya planning office (land use planning).

I might offer an unconference talk on Food Not Bombs. We need those GIS / GPS dashboards, mainly for dispatchers in their bunkers, sending bikes to food recovery sites, flash mob servings.

Having such gizmos is down the road as far as the SE chapter is concerned. The same principles apply to BizMo dispatching in general (FNB operates "bike bizmos"). LCDs keep track of them. Dave Ulmer's for example.

Many of our chapter are doing food logistics for the 2011 October Occupation. Other chapters are helping out in cities around the globe. Some of the main monitor pages are claiming over 800 metro areas have at least token representation from the 99%, mostly their own inhabitants (at least in Portland -- we live here, are not outsider agitprop agents).

Speaking of the 99%, last night I was lucky enough to be invited, on short notice, to a rather exclusive showing of Life in the Material World, the new documentary about George Harrison, directed by Martin Scorsese. The art museum theater was completely packed.

Our host mentioned how it was something of a coup to be getting this movie (from London, to Roger Ebert, to us), and the guy next to me said "yeah, we're like the 1%", which I thought was funny. I'd be rejoining the 99% later, in their privileged position at the downtown camp site (good lighting, convenient bus access, lots of music and public meetings).

Metro is like the planning arm for TriMet, which is the operational arm (more like the AFSC vis-a-vis behind the scenes Friends). ESRI, Portland Development Commission, GeoLogi, Metro and TriMet are among our sponsors, buying us breakfast and lunch, providing facilities. The hackathon tomorrow will be at Pie (Portland Incubator Experiment).

I'm heading into a talk on the history of map making at Metro, going back to the early 1970s (ruling pens, Rapidograph pens, tape on mylar...).

Amber Case is here, a lot of other geeks I know (Ward Cunningham... Audrey, Igal), from OS Bridge, BarCamp, CubeSpace other venues.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Occupy Portland Event

:: occupy pdx ::

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Through the Needle's Eye

:: carol urner ::

Carol (my mother) is regaling Friends with stories about her activism during her time in the Philippines.

The Quakers are doing a series featuring people who have published Pendle Hill Pamphlets. Mom has written two (#275, #317).

We have about thirteen people here.

Mom has a lot of inside stories to tell.

She's experienced the grief of whole peoples, which has driven her to take action.

In the story she's telling now, she was working to prevent the deportation of a tribal priest in the Philippines, an ethnic Tiboli, and going to embassies, using her clout. She was successful in this case, or the community was.

She spent quite a bit of her talk extolling the virtuous life of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, at one time a great leader in the Stans.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

About Town

Electric Band
:: alberta rose theater ::

Having worn a prototype cuffka around town for a couple weeks, haunted households known for making bold fashion statements, I was ready to trade up for the real deal. Lots of cuffkas out there (branded elsewise) but not with a Nirel Foundation logo. With my suit coat and black leather cuff with Hebrew lettering, I look up to my old tricks again, back in Black Hat territory.

Affixing insignia to the cuff, ala girl scout merit badges, ala Bavarian walking stick badges, shows people how far into the woods you've wandered following our esoteric leadings. Glenn stopped by at The Bagdad and started a talk that lasted for some hours. Nirel was enthralled.

Last night, I operated a hand held sound recording gizmo plugged into the main sound board at Alberta Rose Theater, built before talkies, 1927 I think it was. Now she's a main venue for Portland's legendary music scene, a mix of undiscovered and known gems. Jimmy Lott is in the latter category, in being a big name around town. He was followed by some awesome acts, including Leaves Russell. I dashed here from Quaker Quarterly Meeting, missing family night, but then Carol and Tara both had engagements elsewhere as well.

Quarterly Meeting was about economics, privilege and class. Our branch of the tree is quite self conscious about its mostly middle class status, and those who wash up on that beach, often refugees from other lifestyles (quite often military service), or perhaps a protracted illness, or student loans. I don't really consider myself middle class, as I have that "institutional wealth" mentality similar to those aboard an aircraft carrier. Uncle Sam owns the assets, I just have access in accordance with rank and responsibility (though it may not always be "Uncle Sam" in my case -- that was more a figure of speech, given how mangled the tax laws have become (you can't always judge by simplistic criteria, when it comes to measuring allegiances and brand loyalty (psychometrics is a dark art))).

Our interest group focused on an apparent criminal act, involving robbing defenseless women of their life savings who thought they were getting working equipment, when all this junk showed up on their doorstep. With half the money down, and half the equipment delivered (in non-working condition), the company position is they'd need to pay the other half to get the rest, with no admission of wrongdoing. Quakers are interested in bolstering the legal team with some professional attack dogs, eager to score kudos with their peers, for really helping the wheels turn in some international case. Faith in the justice system is at a low ebb these days, so here's a real opportunity for someone with skills. We shall see.

Lew and I spent a lot of time talking about the waste stream. I'm used to talking about the food stream at Food Not Bombs, in our many meetings for cooking (I'm talking several servings a week), but pure waste, as in sewage, is more a Wanderers topic, and indeed Lew has been coming to Wanderers, was there for Duane's talk last week in fact. He was also a member of this Nicaragua Delegation and spoke eloquently during the interest group, as did the others, including my daughter. I hadn't realized Josh had been a Gitmo pilot for the military. That gives more perspective.

Speaking of Food Not Bombs, yes of course the Portland activist community is familiar with the theme of Occupation, which has been making its way through the Internet of late. Given this isn't Burma, we're not really expecting the military to roll out its heavy weapons or to provoke street fighting ala Tahrir. Rolling back the Occupation might make more sense as a theme, as North America has been occupied by a somewhat alien ideology, good at masking itself behind nationalist iconography. I've used some of Dr. Fuller's esoteric shoptalk in these journals, yakking about LAWCAP and so on. In the popular mindset, that conjures images of Seattle and the WTO. However, as Nirel pointed out over lunch, Portland has a higher proportion of high IQ people than Seattle, even if we're not as well educated. Is this true? We shall see.

Hey, interesting article in The Mercury about the new computer program that helps with cop watching, even as the cops are keeping watch. It uses the GPS units to keep track of the forces, which is something the military has been using for a long time, as a way for MPs to keep track if not commanding officers. That convention in Scandinavia, where an arrest is by default hands off, might gain some ground here, though "going peacefully" is not the point of a civil protest, though nor is "resisting arrest" if the stand is on principle. The sidewalk laws come into play. Businesses don't want consumers and clients having any problems getting through, as these are their sustenance. A festival atmosphere that increases some forms of consumption, by providing another reason to go downtown (for the spectacle) is not necessarily bad for business.