Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Double Feature

Tara has a cold this morning, while I'm playing hooky from Wanderers. I watched the tail end of Stupidity, and now The End of Poverty?

The former is somewhat lighthearted whereas the latter just grinds it into your face that humans and their wee brains are just not that great an animal, but they're what we've got to put up with. I need more est Training I suppose, so this circumstance just clears up in the process of life itself. No, it's not like I want to get rid of humans. On the contrary, I'd like them to succeed, in spite of themselves (a kind of revenge?).

"We insist on justice not charity..." "forgiving international debt" -- there's another one of those English inconsistencies. No one is being asked to forgive, and forget about getting your "money" back. Hey, Chalmers Johnson was just talking, I recognized the voice from the kitchen and came back to hit rewind, as a test of my voice recognition capabilities.

Think more about innocent human bodies burning whatever 100 watt bulbs worth of energy. That's all you can eat. As a body, you consume no more than the next guy, mas o meno. Yet all these gross statistics tell me as an American I'm burning mega-bucks per diem. That's not what my body is burning, which in terms of rice and beans is what a well fed person eats (and then some). So these mega-bucks have to do with control, not bodily intake. I can walk out the door, start a car, and leave the engine running, squandering petrol (a stupid act). I have the freedom to be really stupid.

This was the "freedom" Washington, DC still thought it had, back when we still believed in voodoo economics and took it seriously. Now WDC wears a dunce hat, is a moron, at least in my book, and we're free to wheel and deal with Asians, Africans etc. in ways that mostly bypass its failed circuits.

Thanks to the Internet and other tools (mostly asynchronous), we get to throw those "white papers" in the toilet where they belong and emancipate ourselves from slavish adherence to a relatively worthless, not STEM-savvy, curriculum.

I did get to Wanderers later, on my bike, in time for a few conversations (about end of life care etc.). Steve Mastin is going through the process that happens after a tree branch crashes through a city-campus home-office in 2011.

Now on: Total War by the BBC (coming full circle). Triple feature. Oh, and another one on Rosalyn Franklin (DNA: The Secret of Photo 51, NOVA), the principal discoverer of DNA's structure (lots of overlap in these last two, in terms of timeline). Aaron Klug, who figures in the virus structure story as well, is interviewed in this one.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

J. Edgar (movie review)

Steve and I grabbed a 14, took in the Pioneer Square giant tree, as well as the underground mall (to which Steve had never been -- we didn't buy anything then), then we queued at Fox Tower to see J. Edgar, although more theaters were running Marilyn.

The film creates its own twilight zone, is deliberately "lucid dream" like, a kind of wake up call to remember history, remember the collective experience, the shared matrix. The fact that none of it looks quite right is embraced as an aspect of the dream world (remember Post Toasties?).

It's a film trying to look like a film, and in that sense it's honest. Towards the end, we learn from Clyde that much of what we've just seen is the stuff of comic books. The real history goes in the shredder. We make do with fantasy because, ultimately, fantasy is what we have to fall back on. Clint Eastwood isn't shy about making that point.

There's stuff you wouldn't show closer to the time. The evolution of forensics, crime labs, and the audience's stomach for CSI and pathologies has changed the nature of theater.

We're a far more sophisticated set of creatures today. Zooming in on a baby's skeleton is just more TV, whereas in the 1950s such scenes would have been too shocking for lay audiences.

Likewise the twisted sexuality of the various players is more ethnography, the blackmail tedious. Who cares if Mrs. or Mr. so-and-so kissed a girl or boy? When are we done playing recess? Answer per this movie: you really only grow old physically, inside we're just kids, and then we die.

The movie takes the view that it's giving Hoover a chance to tell his own side of things, but then the camera is telling a story well beyond Hoover's or anyone's abilities to deliver in real life. The omniscience of the camera is western civilization's signature religion. Who we get to be, in Plato's Cave, in the Greek theater, is as if an immortal. We become directors, more like Hoover himself.

The paranoias engendered by Hoover's paranoia form an echo chamber that has not died down. A random sweep of the web finds this author (Mat Wilson) seriously doubting Hemingway would ever have committed suicide. The FBI was to blame, had to be, just listen to G. Gordon Liddy.

Speaking of which, Hoover's reputed hatred of the CIA was only indirectly touched upon here, a rift which subsequent literature, e.g. Tenet's, has done much to repair.

Taking his date to the Library of Congress and bragging he'd invented the card catalog was kind of like his taking so much credit for fingerprinting and forensics and centralized databases containing personal health information (e.g. fingerprints). IBM was happening. SQL was on the rise.

These were the big wheels of the zeitgeist turning, the shared dream coming true. Hell, I've taken credit for hypertext the same way (me, Ted and Tim -- and Al), used to write to the Library of Congress about it, come to think of it, another weirdo with a mission, a freak of nature, roaming the wilds of DC.

We took the 14 back past Chavez to Angelo's where Lindsey joined us later. I wrote this at Open Bastion (a home office) a little later after that.

This was Civil War day in Oregon, meaning the two biggest name teams play against each other. Steve joined Glenn and I in an appropriately hot doggie sports bar kind of place, almost across from the Pauling House. The restaurant was packed with customers cheering loudly, sometimes on their feet.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reality Based Economics

Reality Based Economics

I won't be able to do justice to this one. Attendance was high. I came late. Trish and her son were already sitting on the steps (the back bleachers). I ended up poking my head in and out, even sitting on the floor in the adjoining space, shades of the telekinesis lecture.

However I did think of another analogy for Wanderers: we're like those taxi drivers who seem to know a lot, because we drive MVPs around, pick up lots of stories. Except without the taxis. Cue laugh track.

Barry the banker is sparring with our guest, William Daniels. Lindsey met him through OPDX.

I'm a chauffeur this evening, akin to a taxi driver. I'm actually running the car around, took it to Jiffy Lube today. Spent just shy of $200.

People have so many different ways of talking, don't they?

My MVP is Anna of Alaska. The fate of Thunderbird Academy was discussed. It's a middle college today and she's acknowledged as a founder, but it's not quite the vision she started with (or we did, years ago).

The talk concepts are big picture. I'd characterize the rap as Critical Path 101.

Next day, meeting with Anna: we discussed the software picture when it comes to managing student workflow in Alaska.

The State of Alaska does many innovative things with no obvious parallel in other states.

The lease back program on home computers and musical instruments is worth sharing about: the school pays you for the time you need using the equipment to do school work, effectively paying you rent for tools you own while you work with them on your homework.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

City as Campus

The Mayor tweets (in part):
"RT @sarahmorrigan Seemingly, the City of Portland now has an official designation of #OPDX as an organized crime/gang/mafia. @MayorSamAdams @PortlandPolice
Portland's mayor is getting some idea, from his advisers perhaps, that OPDX is some organized crime vehicle, versus the self-organizing city / campus we know it to be, a City that Works.

There's a dark side to any metro area of course, any area with humans. This is a focus of our curriculum, especially when covering SQL and related technologies.

I'm in a gateway coffee shop using local library Free Wifi. Tara is interviewing for college in a nearby hotel (Embassy Suites -- in the old Multnomah Hotel building). I used the opportunity to check in with Mike D at Right To Dream 2, surrounded by a wall of doors at this point, to add some privacy and mitigate noise. The corner of Burnside and 4th, at the Chinese Gate, is pretty bright and busy a lot of the time.

People in this region want to demonstrate Rainbow Gathering style living, and to practice it. The withering academic circuits, inherited from the poorly designed 1900s instantiations, have not kept pace with student demand at the intuitive level, and the public conversation is starting to realize the extent to which Economics peddles bogus misinformation.

Just having many more threads and processes going is pushing omni-triangulation to accelerate. Lies don't survive cross-examination. Too many discrepancies crop up in stories riddled with holes. The financial world thrives on avoiding close scrutiny, even while closely scrutinizing.

Speaking of which, I posted a comment with Christian Science Monitor on the wimpiness of the IAEA. All this focus on "countdown to zero" in the so-called Middle East, with no corresponding actions in Colorado is a ridiculous imbalance that panders to egos in WDC. My Facebook stream, going out to lots of Quakers, is about this too.

Why be obsequious to those clowns?

I've been targeting Harvard for extra special rhetorical abuse. Think tanks should know when they're that far behind the times and do some reinventing. Too many jalopies on the road, especially "back east".

My reply (hyperlink added):
@MayorSamAdams #OPDX not gang/mafia more like university campus coincident with Greater Portland (Troutdale included). Good for > 99%.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scrap Book (#opdx)

Tonight was fairly momentous in that Portlanders kept their Occupation non-violent past a city-declared deadline. A festive New Year's like atmosphere prevailed.

I had dinner with Chairman Steve at his place. He joined Walker for drinks at our favorite bar then they both came by my office to watch Livestream.

Lots of civic pride in keeping it civil, and a realization that these symbolic actions have changed in character in light of the new social media (perhaps the "social engineering" once feared? feared still?).

This was still an endgame, played to a win one might say (or one might not).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Global Warming

Don't Fire the Messenger

Richard Alley is an action figure scientist who gets to tell it like it is about global warming. He encounters a lot of denial and ignorance, which has worn him into a particular character, a lot like a Disney character but actually he's with PBS.

I hadn't realized Gus, one of our Wanderers, was a webmaster for the show. As first webmaster for BFI (Buckminster Fuller Institute) and Kenneth Snelson both, I felt some affinity, as an unsung hero. Lew, to my left, a sanitation engineer, put me onto a goldmine of Project Earthala stuff: the 50 machines we'll need.

I suggested we order today and start shipping to Nicaragua, of course alluding to a certain case being prosecuted against some villainous characters. Indeed, Lew had the right attitude: we would want to check that this was real and working equipment, and not allow for any switcheroo during shipment (or change of serial numbers, as appears to have happened to our all American friends).

We got to see some of the global warming TV clips ahead of most others, including the roller coaster one. Alley is a brave man, one of the bona fides needed for a TV personality in the big leagues (Lara Logan, Katie Couric...).

The Bagdad is on an exclusive circuit involving only some of the best science museums. You could say we were a focus group I suppose. We had some detailed paperwork to fill out for the NSF. OMSI was hosting (our science museum), with McMenamins supplying the venue and grub (I shared a pitcher of Hammerhead).

I put in time with FNB today, a serious attempt at mitigating fossil fuel use, and the tip of the iceberg when it comes to counter-intelligence against the Protestant "Waste Ethic" (was "Work Ethic" (guffaw)) and its hell-bent nature. Car head commuters everywhere, none of them compensating for the damage they do, never mind about the fancy underwear "day job" (snicker).

Anyway, his talk was effective, as I'm sure are the book and DVD. The science is essentially done for the moment. There's lots more to know, but the denial phase has nothing to do with that phase of the empirical process.

Now it's more a Darwinian process, like American Idol or Gong Show, for figuring out who gets to tell us our lifestyle is moronic and ugly. Bad news if you're in fashion, unless you've been planning for this day (many have, surprise surprise).

This guy is a candidate, certainly, and takes it well beyond Al Gore in saying what's inconvenient for some of the high inertia "personal fortune" types, who bet wrong and can't -- and don't have to -- admit it. They'll say that we "owe them" but we know that we don't.

Tara needed to work out and study. Carol is preparing for bird migration season (already upon us). OPDX is taking care of itself (Ty made a wicked good mushroom potato soap at SDW yesterday, Melody, new Catherine, Will, another family also on staff).

:: by of and for the occupants ::

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wanderers 2011.11.2

Linus Pauling House 2011

Today is action packed. Sam Lanahan and Mark Martin shared the floor at Linus Pauling House. The production values were impressive, as usual. My attention was somewhat divided as I'd become exercised over the inclusion of a lot of cruft on the Wikipedia page about Synergetics. I went ballistic on Synergeo.

Mark's solution to the Flextegrity problem uses like 29K lines of C++ and beaucoups differential equations. I think research in this direction will inspire more confidence among the 99%. I'd like to see Elastic Interval Geometry applied to this problem as well. EIG engines have much simpler guts and Gerald de Jong's commitment to writing beautiful code, in Java especially, has launched this new discipline on a promising track.

Mark pointed out that his solution uses quaternions, consistent with his claim that his simulation is like a gaming engine in a lot of ways (those use quaternions too, faster than matrix ops in many cases).

Ready for Rhode Island

Wanderer and Friend Leslie Hickcox showed up in her Honda vehicle, partly on the promise of free chanterelles. Jim Buxton was being generous again. I hitched a ride, with computer and 'shrooms, to the Quaker meetinghouse on Stark Street.

A brainstorming session was in full swing, lots of Friends mixing with Occupy Portland players in small groups. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, in terms of Quakers' involvement, as I was learning from Lindsey's and Melody's reports last night (they're on break from FNB/PDV for R&R).

The Occupy Portland groups were varied in quality. I thought the group of all women, which mom and Leslie attended, was the most coherent in the summary session.

The thinking was rather nationalist in flavor, with discussion of Bhutan and Germany, but that's OK. People don't know how to talk about geography without these hooks. Besides, according to Chris Hedges, it's the 1% that are supranationalist in outlook (the Grunchies), whereas the hoi polloi 99% have no choice but to think within their Matrix.

We have Diversity people here, who feel highly offended by various things people say. The special talent of such folks is to have their sensitivities tuned up really high. One person started crying about all the run-ins with creeps, and why doesn't anyone do anything about it? Feelings of loneliness and abandonment I well recognize.

Clerk with Visionaries

Like I had this guy shouting at me recently (no, not at this meeting), saying stuff about "old man" but I wasn't worried about it, as I'd been eldering him about terrorizing a driver. The car had stopped suddenly, not seeing him and his pal, almost hit them. The guy was now standing in front of the car going on and on (and on, and on) with a screaming rant, not letting it go, pinning the driver to the scene (reverse might have worked -- or caused an accident). I thought he was being too self-indulgent and told him so in so many words. The situation broke up and the car was able to drive off. I didn't mind trading insults. Shades of Italy.

My next meeting: Lyrik again. A hotel support shop, offers useful software at a decent price, but it's built in FoxPro and there's wheel turning about how to go forward. I've encountered this challenge before in college course registration software, and in truck routing software. An important sector of the economy is being abandoned by the parent, left orphaned, or at least that's how many feel. I could empathize once again.

I outlined a path using Django or some similar web framework, with an MVC architecture and ORM connecting to an SQL engine. Could be LAMP stack, Windows or OS X, I was platform agnostic. Not sure about BeOS or its successor.

So are any hand-held computers, so-called phones, doing Python these days? Nokia had one. As these are Quaker journals ("shhhh!" like a library), I don't have comments turned on. Just letting you know it's a topic I care about, in case you're interested in sending me links.