Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Friendly Convergence


A van of us guys from the Men's Group, organized by Joe Snyder and borrowing the Reedwood van (thank you Friends!), got to Mapleton, Oregon and back in one day.  That's the freeway age for ya.  With time to spare I might add.

Wes had all kinds of ties to Oregon Friends that I'm only just learning about.  Our Stark Street meeting traces back to College Park Association in California, and Iowan Friends striking out on their own upon being disowned by their brethren.  So be it.  The brand "Religious Society of Friends" would not be surrendered.

On the other hand, Gurneyites moved west also, and their trajectory takes other forms, namely Northwest Yearly Meeting, distinct from the more Hicksite flavored North Pacific Yearly Meeting, of which Multnomah Meeting on Stark Street is a member.

Wes Voth traces his schooling back to Newberg, Oregon.  These are more the Hooverite Friends associated with George Fox University (GFU).  There's overlap with Liberal Friends on many fronts, but if you're a scholar of the Quaker lineage, you know we're prone to forking, and don't always think that's a bad thing.

Politics aside, Wes Voth was a naturalist and his thinking was deeply informed by the natural patterns of his watershed.  It may be a cliche to think of watersheds as the lungs of the planet.  They are integral to the way fish live their lives, and thereby serve at the basis of many a food chain.

Pacific ocean salmon start and end their lives in these rivers and rivulets, adding their carcasses to the inland soil, fertilizing rainforests.  Ecosystems don't run on fumes, much as fumes matter.

Wes knew all these basics like the back of his hand, and then could go on about the smaller details, in ways a city rat like me can only marvel at, and I did.  At our last meetup at Great Bear Camp for example.  He sat at his feet, slurping up the lore of the land.

The memorial service was held at the Lions Club which shares digs with the Mapleton Public Library, what used to be a public school.  The meeting hall, which doubles as a theater and gymnasium, was packed with just about everyone in Mapleton, not a big town.  Out of towners rounded out the crowd.

We all respected Wes a lot for his honesty and respectful ways.  He served as a postal carrier in this later chapter, and had maybe just recently retired?  We felt his departure was all too soon.

This was Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as some call it.  Among the songs we sang, was one of Wes's favorites (mine too, for its check on nationalism): This is My Song with lyrics by by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness, to the score of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.  It's in our Quaker hymnal.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Life, Liberty and...


My study groups have been cycling back to Student Debt, which becomes a noose, and the Overdose Epidemic, which becomes a way out, or at least a temporary escape.  Any dose is an overdose where most of these drugs are concerned.

The law abiding become despairing when they recognize that organized crime rules the roost.  This article in Rolling Stone keeps pointing to people in high places, high office, as the ones at the top of some Ponzi scheme.  The state becomes a prison state.

Recently we learned more from the DEA about its losing battle against Big Pharma.  Organized crime has eaten through the medical establishment.  Drug pushing is the backbone of a new economy, breaking the backs of many old ones.  No, we're not talking about glossy mags in marijuana country.  We're talking about fentanyl and worse.

Clearly the student loan crisis and the overdose epidemic go together.  In closing off all promising avenues to a brighter future, one reaps the harvest of hopelessness.

The positive futurism I latched onto in my young adulthood was not a popular brand within academia and those paying high interest for borrowing against their futures were for the most part not schooled in any of it.  Nevermind about the Medal of Freedom.
R. Buckminster Fuller: 
A true Renaissance Man, and one of the greatest minds of our times, Richard Buckminster Fuller's contributions as a geometrician, educator, and architect-designer are benchmarks of accomplishment in their fields. Among his most notable inventions and discoveries are synergetic geometry, geodesic structures and tensegrity structures. Mr. Fuller reminds us all that America is a land of pioneers, haven for innovative thinking and the free expression of ideas.
At issue was the USA itself and whether it had strayed too far from its founding documents to be considered a constitutional democracy anymore.  Had it been hijacked by oligarchs and plutocrats who could now use it to press their own agenda?  Princeton was inclined to see it this way.

Roll forward, and we see the wasteland this land has become.  The morgues fill with its victims.  The criminals get appointed to higher office.  Is there any longer a debate?

Welcome to the Global U, an energy consumer and an intelligent responder, to some degree.  We're plugged into the sun, as so many 120 watt bulbs, thinking of ways to survive, one day to the next.

Our institutions are supposed to leverage our numbers, our individual talents, into orchestrated and constructive responses to our circumstances.  Which ones do this?

The criminalization of nuclear weapons per the UN Ban Treaty, developed by the General Assembly, has at least helped us see how the "rule of law" was a fragile sphere.

Criminal syndicates control human affairs.  The electronic communication networks were our organized response, an attempt to gain traction.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Playing with Blocks


Back in the early to mid 1990s, I would make trips to California in connection with my work with Synergetics. I went to the GENI organized Centennial in 1995, when Tara was just learning to walk.  Before that, I'd been to a Pergamon Press sponsored conference on Buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara. Another time, we had a confab in which "modules" were thematic.  David Koski was curious about what Yasushi Kajikawa and Einar Thorstein were up to, in their respective modularization games.

Much more recently, within the last year, Koski's block-themed play has turned towards a dissection of the E-module, the one published about in Synergetics.  I've called it the Beanstalk Series as that story, of Jack and the magic beanstalk (grown from magic beans) provides etymological roots for the Fe ("fee"), Fi ("fie"), Fo ("Foe") and Fum modules.  Of course there's a tie-in with Grunch of Giants (one of Fuller's last books).

The wrinkle Koski introduces, with all of these shapes, is that of "phi scaling", meaning notching up all straight-line inter-distances by phi, not quite doubling at 1.618.  When linear distances amplify by that factor, volume goes up as a 3rd power of same, giving us a vocabulary of ...E6, E3, E, e3, e6... modules, where the lowercase 'e' signals "phi down" and uppercase "phi up".

Spatial geometry is not getting its just deserts as a curriculum topic these days, especially in kindergarten, because that would mean telling the truth about more things, and truth is not always convenient.  Using a calibrated bucket of liquid to show displacement is also potentially messy when done for real.  The schools that make instructional video making their specialty will have a head start.