Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Safe Zones

We'd all like safe zones in which to study and reflect. Getting interrupted all the time by someone else's agenda is the opposite of freedom.  Humans are designed to serve though, so if your heart is in it, dealing with myriad interruptions may be one's chosen path, God's work as it were, in which case you're to expect more joy.

My mode of study of late, when not working or sleeping, is to scour Youtube and watch mostly longer format talks and lectures. People develop habits around reading, playing games, watching movies, habits that may reshape with time, sometimes simply as a function of what's available.

Growing up poor (not really), without the Internet (not invented yet), I didn't have the luxury of sifting through millions of talking heads expressing views on many subjects, nor of contributing to this growing database of video clips. Later in life, I'd fantasize more concretely about such a system, and still later these dreams would come true.

Nowadays I chronicle the Youtubes I'm watching on my Facebook timeline, with my own comments, inviting more. For example, an issue of our day in some media is the question of whether Russia has grown influential enough to tip the US presidential election, the outcome of which surprised a lot of analysts.

I'm fine with the ODNI report mentioning RT in a few places, echoing what the intelligence community itself watches for signs of the times (for money even, as a part of one's job description). I recall Defense Secretary Rumsfeld pointing to Al Jazeera as a concern. The movie Control Room came out soon after, somewhat inspiring my own blog by that name.


I watch RT as well. Sure Peter Lavelle seems to spearhead one way of thinking (his guests often agree with one another), while Thom Hartmann spearheads another.  Ron Paul jumps on for interviews. Jesse Ventura has his own show.  Recalling Jon Stewart's criticisms of CNN, I'd say Time-Warner has been eclipsed in a lot of ways, in not having as much interesting programming.  Most [Russian] hackers would never use AOL.

That Generation Y is able to start from here, watching peers (roughly same age) contribute videos, has contributed to an exultant mood. Not only is it highly possible to find like-minded, but it's even somehow possible to make a living as a Youtube producer, or at least that's the new dream. A lot of this trashing of the "legacy media" is not based in deep ideology so much as in how more participatory the new media seem. Anyone can become a #PizzaGate scholar.

I have my own relatively small stash of Youtubes, but don't have the high production value animations I lust after (yet). Disney might have the resources, but does it have the interest now that Epcot no longer means Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and Spaceship Earth is not milked for its true meme-plex potential either? Walt was more the visionary than his successors.

I've turned to RT as well then, tweeting how we need to see a JT on RT.  Of course that's super obscure as practically no one in 2017 knows what "Jitterbug Transformation" means. Even though the International Mathematical Union has woven it into their banter, nowhere in the long slog of K-16 is the JT likely to come up.  Sure, it helps conceptually unify the concentric hierarchy but no one knows what that is either.  Ignorance of STEM is rather high in the media.

Naturally I'm not suggesting the JT appear exclusively on RT, it's already too late for that. It's just that from a hearts and minds perspective, if you don't traffic in positive futurism, then your ideology has a short half life.  RT seems more likely to share some substantive Synergetics, whereas numberphiles in the UK have been ignoring the opportunity -- why the BBC sometimes seems like "legacy media" to me as well.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Winter Plunge

We're still technically in winter for sure, still January. I was sharing a .csv file of Roller Coaster data with my night shift crew, shared with me by Alexia one evening, when we got to chatting on Facebook. Let me pull some up...

coasters

Roller coasters have been a theme here. The picture at right shows me on one, Dawn to my right cropped out. In that American Adventure park across from Disneyland, Anaheim, LA.

Regarding the Youtube below, which I listened to in its entirety, I find I differed with the provided profile as someone "liberal" in my defense of the Mormon compound against a heavy-handed, abusive intervention.

That was like Charles Dickens in a blender, where the tyrant bully saves the young girl from the other tyrant bully. Most of you won't know what I'm talking about (follow links if curious).

How fun, right?  Getting your reality smashed by an iron fist like that?  No wonder we're all walking PTSD cases, in one way or another (not meaning to trivialize by generalizing, just expressing compassion). Yes, I'm thinking of those Russian (and Scottish) mystics again.

Also, I was tracking Scott Ritter's and Hans Blix reports closely, still believing rationality would make a difference, and was highly skeptical that neocons had the evidence they claimed (in Syria either). I was all over alt.politics.cia or whatever that was, questioning the aluminum tubes story, in the lead-up to the post 9-11 invasion and following years of sanctions. pdx4d was my handle, right?

I'm  talking about the usenet group, on which I used to be active.

Carol is seeing herself as strong enough to venture out tomorrow. She has the energy, a good sign. I'm staying in close touch.

I too am still ambulatory, though with a changed sleep cycle? I'm invited to a party tonight. I'd use public transportation.  Happy Birthday (belated) to Wanderer Trisha Buckland, a brave heart.  Someday I'll get back to Pub 181 I'm sure.

I'm no Sam Harris expert, not having read any of his books. Some Google Brain decided I oughta watch it. Who am I to disobey a bot, right? Just kidding (some bots I'll just kick).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Waging Peace

Board Member (mama Carol)

Carol Urner, my mom, rebooted her life in the year 2000, after the car crash that was fatal to my dad.

She recovered under the care of Bloemfontein physicians, myself and my sister, and continued her work as an international WILPF activist.

She is very grateful for her body and how it has kept her physically with us all this time, through thick and thin. At 87, she knows most of the sand is in the bottom part. I'm treasuring every grain.

Carol works on the Ban Treaty a lot. That's an international movement to outright criminalize nuclear WMDs, which psychologically has already happened. It'd be good to get it in writing of course.

Carol's cheerful courage over a lifetime of risk taking has been an example to the world, and of course to me.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Blurb

Works in the humanities are designed to resonate on many levels, using metaphor and metonymy to give expression to a mix of conscious and unconscious meanings. 

We sometimes consider scientific and technical writing to be at the other end of the spectrum, with a literal factual truthful meaning only, and no intentions towards resonance. 

The postmodernists wanted to show the notion of absolute objectivity flips to subjective (opposites meet). Kierkegaard made the same point in his Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846). However the idea of a spectrum remains useful.

Synergetics is a work in the humanities, is philosophy more specifically, because it's written to resonate. It's polymorphic without being perverse would be Fuller's claim, taking "perversion" in the Lacanian sense. See also: Love's Body by Norman O. Brown.

Fortunately, philosophy leads to science through natural philosophy, with scientists often becoming philosophical and willing to indulge in the humanities. What literal truths we might glean from "explorations in the geometry of thinking" are by definition potentially applicable in "real world" situations.

Poe is a bridge writer in that he introduces the cryptographic. Stories about secret codes may intimate that they themselves are a secret language. The rediscovery of Egypt and the idea of Indiana Jones type adventures coincided. Here's a PDF about that.

Wittgenstein took this to an extreme, suggesting a secret one cannot divulge even in principle (some private "beetle") is not really a secret at all nor private. If I suppose "my world is my language" then "my secret world" is simply "the world" (secret from whom? -- "everyone but me").  The solipsist has no way to mean what is grammatically out of bounds (Tractatus).

The attitude one takes to reading an enciphered work was thereby further popularized by Poe.  One need not take a Freudian approach to dreams to find "hidden meaning". Indeed, the humanities have always harbored the esoteric and the occult.

Those wondering how to line up Synergetics with STEM might want to bridge through psychology, an approach E.J. Applewhite somewhat favored (not surprisingly given his CIA background), though he never eschewed direct links to crystollography.  

Wittgenstein talks about our sense of something crystalline, something logical, at the heart of our language. Philosophers hunger to bottle and sell its eternal flavor in their cryptic notations.

Synergetics is more Alchemy than Chemistry, true, but only because the human psyche works that way too, reaching into the physical and special case to express the metaphysical, the mathematical, the eternal verities. 

The Gibbs Phase Rule relating solid, liquid, gas states to temperature / pressure applies to thinking itself, with "solid" meaning the more crystalline, and "gas" the more nebulous.

Critical Path, Grunch of Giants and Tetrascroll have the appearance of "code books" in their layered use of symbols. "How much of this are we to take literally?" becomes a real question.  Given the two Synergetics volumes behind them (earlier in time), I'd keep that question open ended, more like what Quakers call "a query".

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Harvest of Empire (movie review)


I joined a small group at the Stark Street meetinghouse this evening for a showing of Harvest of Empire, a fairly recent documentary looking at the fruits of recent social engineering.

We've all heard the term "Banana Republic", these days a chain of fashionable clothing stores, but originally having to do with literal bananas.

United Fruit, with large plantations in Central America (Guatemala especially) needed local governments to remain friendly to its resource acquisition and labor practices.

Indeed, many large multinationals would incubate in Latin America with help from local elites and the USG. The Dulles brothers, one a Secretary of State, the other heading the CIA, both came from the law firm representing United Fruit.

The USG gets elected on the basis of wanting to help the US economy, which translates into helping  its paying customers expand overseas. These companies then use the repatriated profits to finance the political ambitions of their candidates.

The USG in turn then helps its customers by providing military training for those serving in dictatorships.

Actual US troops also may become involved, as in the Dominican Republic. Assassinations and/or coups may also be undertaken.

Any populist leader, intent upon improving living standards for the indigenous majorities, would become an enemy of the established state. Social engineering moving in that direction, including clergy, get branded communist subversives.

Marine Corps veteran Smedley Butler wrote some thoughts about this dynamic late in life, after exposing the Business Plot to assassinate FDR. Many of these same patterns continue operating today.

The core thesis of this movie is that this practice of land-grabbing and forced labor, visited upon  indigenous Americans since the 1600s, has created a flood of economic refugees willing to risk great hardship and death to reach a state of greater freedom and opportunity.

Ordinary people tend to flee untenable situations wherever they occur, be that in El Salvador, Syria, Libya or Europe.

The first waves of immigration leading to the creating of the first thirteen United States were also a result of persecution and/or dead end economic circumstances.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Social Engineering

Social Engineer

I was doing more job training on that Thursday morning, not at Multnomah County Library, but for the same code school.  Today is Friday, and Inauguration Day on the US federal calendar.

Then I treated myself to Voodoo Donuts, which I rarely do. I'd been Facebooking about a Voodoo Donuts in Tehran (I don't think there is one yet) and in Japan, and decided to take advantage of already having access.

That evening, I was self-indulgent again, enjoying a shrimp cocktail during happy hour, along with two pints at the Melting Pot at the downtown terminus of the 14 bus line. Then on to the lecture, on the South Park Blocks, across from the Portland Art Museum.

Dr. Guru Madhaven tells a tragic story I'll not repeat here. I recommend getting his book. I can't think of a more appropriate topic and speaker for anything calling itself the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy, as his focus was precisely the impact, of engineering especially, on public policy.

The tragedy of not being able to help someone in an emergency, because not knowing their precise location, even though we had the technology to triangulate, required a solution that would connect GPS with 911. That we have a system that now links them is owing to a collaboration and synergy between political movements, and technology.

Later during the dinner I asked our speaker directly if he thought replacing the term "politician" with "social engineer" might be worth doing. I'd been saying something similar on a Quaker discussion site. Let me find a quote:
I get this push back, as a geek, that what I do might be nefarious, and it's called "social engineering" (say I work for Facebook, which I don't, just have a profile and play a Hexagons-based game).

I'm fine with what politicians do being "social engineering" the way they do it, with their technology, tips and tricks. I'll even say they're pretty good at it.

However, they don't wanna play, and keep excluding me as an "engineer" (some kind of Morlock by the sound of it -- H.G. Wells).
What I've come to is we have plenty good enough reasons to use "social engineer" as a synonym for "politician". Think how software engines such as Facebook and Twitter have changed the political landscape.  The new US President (as of today) is a tweeter, as was the outgoing one.

In my youth, the notion of "social engineering" was always somewhat sneered at as something fascist totalitarians might indulge in.  I'm sure that they might; they'd have to. But then so does everybody else. Television and radio, then telephony, also transformed politics. We can't tease out the engineering from the rest of it.

Dr. Madhaven said as much in describing how we all do systems analysis whether we call it that or not. We all have to think and act like engineers on a daily basis, with or without any formal schooling in some discipline called "engineering".  The same is true with politics.  Whether you're a professional politician or not, you're still a political animal.  And that means you're a social engineer.

That's the thing about truisms.  Even though they're not provably false and therefore appear to do no work in the realm of establishing new facts of the matter, they may change how we look at things.  Spin may be orthogonal to truth value.

Also around the table, I brought up my Kerala story, how anthropology had discovered the relatively high living standards of this state within India has everything to do with a culture of endless debate and discussion as a means of negotiation.

Optimization comes not from brute force or "throwing money" at a problem.  Better to think things through, by having whole populations engaged in that thinking. Doesn't that sound close to what we mean by "democratic" on many levels?  Feedback loops. Cybernetics. USA OS.

Dr. Guru Madhavan

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wanderers 2017.1.18

We've taken to calling our open forums (no set presentation) "improv" which I remarked sounded Scientology-friendly. What I learned from Ray Simon, back in Jersey City days, was that those looking for acting work need opportunities to work out, and "improv" is one of those ways. A way an aspiring thespian might test if progress towards "clearness" was being made, might be through participation in improv.

Improv is a kind of theater, not just an exercise for those practicing to be on stage. Steve Holden and I used to attend a comedy house (a nonprofit) on MLK.  The audience could suggest themes, or at least appear to do so. The spontaneity of the ensuing performance somewhat depends on the assumption we're not seeing the results of hours of rehearsal.  But then improv techniques may be rehearsed. I'm not the expert.

Lest I give the wrong impression I'm trying to come off like some authority on Scientology, that's not my intent. I've not risen through the ranks on the inside, as a paying customer, and although I've done considerable homework from an anthropology angle (one of my favorite subjects at Princeton), I don't go around billing myself as an expert.  Ray Simon was far more the L. Ron Hubbard fan.

Let me say more about Ray. He was really into synchronicity, a topic with respectability, but also practical applications. He believed various techniques might be employed to deliberately create "synchronicity fields" wherein serendipitous events would be more likely to happen. He told a number of stories wherein he appeared to employ these techniques with great success.

I met Ray and Bonnie as a young couple, Bonnie a nurse, Ray doing office work, a series of temp jobs in the Big Apple (Manhattan and Jersey City are but a PATH ride apart). I forget the precise circumstances however Ray and Bonnie were into est, often associated or confused with Scientology and indeed their histories swirl around each other in stormy tales.

Anyway, stormy tales aside, Ray was a staunch admirer of both Hubbard and Erhard. Ray was also paranoid that Hubbard might be dead.  He was really tickled one day when he got a convincingly authentic letter from Hubbard saying "I'm not sure what it is you want to know." He probably did know though: Ray wanted to know if his hero was still alive.

Ray is not still alive. He moved to Las Vegas at some point and wrote a book, not about synchronicity, but about the bold and audacious ways now well-known people had jump-started their careers: Mischief Marketing: How the Rich, Famous, & Successful Really Got Their Careers and Businesses Going (2000).

We didn't talk about Ray at the Wanderers meeting at all.  However a theme at Pepinos later was people who had left us, died, in some cases recently.  Ray died some years ago, Bonnie having been taken by the same influenza epidemic that claimed Jim Henson, the Muppets master.  I got to babysit for their daughter quite a bit, having stopped being the high school math teacher, my first job after Princeton.  I'd jumped into an est Training while still an undergrad living at 2 Dickinson Street.

Scientology comes with an elaborate schema supporting ideation, which I'd say is fine to call "science fiction" (not a put down) or lets say teachings encrypted in the language of such. Those seeking literal truths (scientific ones) in such movements may encounter the purely ridiculous in the many fairy tales that swirl in any religion, a dreamy concoction of narrative potions usually. The "clown" archetype is metaphysically real.

Subgenius derives energy from "clown energy", a need to spoof all these crazy-cult beliefs.  est, for its part, shared the goal of imparting empowering language to the trainees (who became graduates), but did not bother with much mythology. Even P.D. Ouspensky offered more in the way of a belief system, as one may study in Psychological Commentaries of Maurice Nicoll.

est's relative minimalism gave it more the stamp of a philosophy than a religion, although Erhard himself circled Zen as influential. Remember Erhard's enlightenment is set in San Francisco, in the time of Alan Watts.

Friday, January 13, 2017

More Theology

I'm continuing to yak with Friends (as in Quakers) on QuakerQuaker, about terminology. Given the Tower of Babel as a premise, we're not really in a position to agree in spoken or written language, so how is it we get across our most important spiritual insights, right?  If we're condemned to speak Scramble to one another, when and how do we "unscramble"?

St. Augustine had words to say on this question, saying something reminiscent of Socrates, which is "all knowledge is recollection" meaning inwardly recognized and comprehended, owned, taken in, believed. There's a kind of digestion which occurs, whereby another's language is taken into one's own.

My brand of Friend is not expected to focus on the study of theology as a divine calling, as we're somewhat the "ordinary language" branch, as Wittgenstein was to philosophy (Rorty: "linguistic turn"). Some peg the beginning of that change to Nietzsche's writings, not that saying so is much help to those unused to navigating in these esoteric waters.  People might see his name go by in TIME, but what has any of that to do with the price of eggs, right?

However, I don't eschew giving theology a spin, thanks perhaps to my Subgenius background. Although the ideology is self-spoofing, the actual practitioners work on "devival" skills, meaning oratory, preaching, public speaking, with cadence. I need to do that to, in front of some choir or another.

Were you looking for some of my most abstruse writings, right off the bat?  Sometimes when I dive into reading someone new, I want to sample their whole repertoire.  You'll get some condensed writings in the Invisible Landscape Series linked from here.

However, what I'm really thinking about more is this thread on Q2.  In the background I'm looking at some Franklin Merrell-Wolff writings. He's another in the tradition of using '4D' as a kind of branding icon, to help seekers steer in his direction. P.D. Ouspensky shows up in the background.

Speaking of "Dr. O", I think it'd pay off to compensate scholars for taking "knowledge work" seriously. If we want to learn about the Russians, lets get $15 an hour and let us do some serious reading, and viewing, of important works.  Superficial sound-bite knowledge is not going to get us there, and when people pay for college, they're as likely learning how to do their nails.  Even tackling "being a medical doctor" doesn't mean learning much world history.

Paying for work-study, not just work, is not about wanting people to be lazy, it's about needing people to use their minds enough to stay sane enough to have the planet stay fun and habitable.  Fortunately, we have a star nearby that continues to make an energy investment, pretty much grant income for our species and fellow travelers.  General Systems Theory (GST) suggests we do our best to make the most of it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Expectant Waiting


"Expectant waiting" is a religious practice used within the Religious Society of Friends to test their leadings, or expectations, regarding the will of God.  "Expectorate" is a different English verb and means "to spit".  Some "Indians" [sic] maybe have been confused, as according to my catechism as an English (as in British) kid:  A Red Indian Thought He Might Eat Tobacco in Church.  That's the mnemonic we used at the Junior English School of Rome, to remember how to spell "arithmetic".

I want to relate "expectant waiting" to "unit testing" and also just to pausing a moment at the command line, and reflecting on what you intend to make happen, so that you'll be somewhat clear from the feedback, whether you achieved your goals or not.  More simply:  imagine the output you'd expect in response to 2 + 2, pause a moment to expect, then hit the Enter key and confirm the outcome or note discrepancies.

In doctest, we do that too.  At the code school the other night, a different instructor was showing how

$ python -m doctest script_with_tests.py

will run the doctests on the target script, passed as an argument to the doctest module.  Brilliant.

Ben and I discussed our different testing framework preferences over chips at that point.  The reason I like unittest (aka Pyunit) is precisely because it's somewhat clunky, shows a lot of apparatus, making the point that testing is no joke sometimes.  However Ben's choice was more practical.

For those of you who just lost me (too much POSIX?) , think of humming along to a tune, then the tune suddenly stops. You expected it to continue and may already know the next several bars. In other circumstances, you're hearing a tune for the first time and have a sense of where it's going, and then you're surprised. Perhaps the composer was intending to spark interest. In music appreciation courses and/or Youtube videos (Vimeo...) we learn about such things.

I bring up humming along to a tune (think of God's will) in connection with Thomas Paine and his writings about what it means "to prophesize" (from whence "to profess" right?).

Paine's thesis was we don't hear much about "singing" in the Bible because foretelling was in itself a musical activity akin to singing. As people picked up on what was to happen, the prophecy might gather steam and come true, what we call a "self fulfilling" prophecy.

However pointing out that some prophesies "snowball" or "gather steam" is not to suggest that everything expectantly awaited then happens, or that what happens is somehow always a result of what's expected. Neither proposition follows, as a matter of logic.

On the contrary, surprising events and developments continue to occur, whether we choose to call them miracles, cataclysms, or whatever acts of God. That everything would always go as expected is not our experience as human beings. Our fondest wishes are not necessarily any genie's command and some prayers go unanswered.

Tests set up our expectations, keep us aware of what we were intending in the first place.  Wittgenstein documents this grammar, this "tensegrity glue" (invisible) between our islanded concepts, such as "understanding" vis-a-vis "expecting".  These words "fly in formation" as it were, leaving inter-twining trajectories.

When all unit tests pass, that's a sign our project is responding as expected and that we do indeed "understand" what we're doing, at some level. When we're better able to "hum along" than previously, that may indicate a stronger sense of God's will, which is somewhat the point of this exercise, not surprisingly.

In Synergetics, a transcendentalist work, we have this term "precession" which in that namespace suggests "developments not predicted by [physical] laws considered separately".

The sum or product achieves results the list of ingredients did not foretell.  Alchemy, not just chemistry, is full of unforeseen reactions, even when they appear to pencil out in retrospect.  That's why we continue to experiment in science.  Arm chair speculation will only take one so far in life.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

13th (movie review)


Friends gathered at the Stark Street meetinghouse for this public-invited showing of 13th, a widely distributed, award-winning documentary about the ongoing cultural and civil war in North America.

Although Lincoln declared the slaves free, an opening shot in his war to preserve the Union, the South was not on board with providing them with full human rights overnight.  Women couldn't vote yet either.  A system of apartheid was instituted that continues to this day.

The Civil Rights movement won some semblance of equality before the law, but then social engineers in the White House realized a "get tough on crime" approach might be used to stimulate mass incarceration of mostly black people. Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton pursued this agenda to the tune of billions of borrowed dollars.

The War on Drugs became a war of oppression against black US Americans, a continuation of Prohibition, which had earlier criminalized most whites as well.

Once in prison, people could be made to work as slaves again, according to the terms of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Mass incarceration is currently falling out of favor, as even ALEC admits, but in the meantime has been useful for maintaining the privileges of the non-criminal population.

Nowadays, white people are finding themselves addicted to drugs as well, especially opiates such as Oxycontin, and want medical treatment, not prison.  They've also found marijuana congenial and have started legalizing it for both medical and recreational use.  The huge prison population of over two million, earning the US its reputation as a Prison State, will need to come down in light of these changes.

The movie does not touch on the 14th Amendment, originally designed to acknowledge that blacks were fully human.  This amendment was used by another caste of less protected person, the corporate being with artificial personhood, to gain more privileges under US law.

Based on this loophole in the Constitution, corporations were enabled to attain full personhood and continue their strategy of masked domination. Anonymous shareholders were protected from personal bankruptcy and stood to lose (or gain) only to the extent of their investment. Corporations that do not run afoul of the law eventually gain superpowers relative to ordinary humans, thanks to their relative size and immortality. They become giants, a part of "the Grunch" per Medal of Freedom winner R. B. Fuller in Grunch of Giants.

Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann (which quotes Fuller) traces this connected story.  The two stories overlap in that corporate persons now manage much of the US prison system for profit.  Social engineers have developed school systems based around standardized testing, that are guaranteed to feed these hungry corporations with future inmates.  At AFSC (Quaker) this design is called the "school to prison pipeline". The US continues to feed its appetite for free labor, undercutting wages for those still on the outside not living on investment income.

Lew Frederick, to be sworn in on Monday as an Oregon state senator, was with us to watch the movie and discuss it afterwards.  He's an Earlham grad, black, and comes to meeting quite often.  He'd not seen the film before and found it moving and educational.

[ first published on QuakerQuaker ]

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

New Year's Day

Black Eyed Pea Soup + Collards + Corn Bread

A standard thing to say about the USA, along the lines of "war and Christmas", is that Americans (USers) are war-prone because, in their experience, the war with fascism shocked them out of their depression and put people to work.

Life had meaning again and the spoils of victory, mostly side-effects of gearing for war, proved life could be sweet in the 1950s.  Unlike most peoples, Americans still harbor some nostalgia for war, as long as they're winning and reap their reward.

However I'm thinking any telling that begins with either World War is too Euro-centric to explain Americans and their militant streak.  The polarizing experience of a Civil War has far more to do with the US psyche having a schizoid flavor.

The PTSD of a brutal war, followed by a crack down on self medication through alcohol (Prohibition) turned us into a gangland, from which we've hardly recovered.

As I was pointing out on Facebook, when looking for commonalities in US presidents, don't overlook ties to organized crime.  But don't respond with shocked moral indignation, a favorite mask of pure ignorance.  Innocence is an annoyance sometimes.

The crowds are looking for specimens, be that in a pants suit, and/or in orange.  They're looking for a quality called "worldly" which Obama has, Michelle too.  They were big city slickers more than hillbilly hicks.  Of course Bill was a Rhodes Scholar.

My thoughts on the Civil War were inspired by the black eyed peas stories I was getting.  The troops were eating all the food, not unlike in Aleppo. Fighters need to eat to fight. Civilians get to be extras, like in Hollywood movies, except the blood isn't ketchup.

Southern Belles found themselves eating black eyed peas, the food of slaves and other livestock. They turned this intolerable sign of oppression into a badge of honor and now cook the same peas voluntarily, and in a way that's really tasty.

Philosophy of Mathematics

Winter Storytelling