Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Big March


I'm justified in calling this march "big" by Portland standards.  Frequently, a march will assemble in South Park Blocks near the art museum (extends into Portland State's campus, behind the Schnitzer (a grand theater)).  The marchers will snake through downtown ending up at Pioneer Square.

This one massed in North Park Blocks closer to the old customs house, kaddy corner to Union Station (very roughly), and zig-zagged down Burnside, heading east, then south along Broadway, again with Pioneer Square the destination.

By the time Pioneer Square was completely packed with protestors, awaiting the sound stage performance (speakers and live music), they were still emptying out the North Park Blocks.  That whole stretch of Broadway stayed completely populated for a good hour at least, continuously piping a crush of people towards the square.

I was in camera man mode, eager to pan up and down the line.  I'd have taken twice as many pictures had I remembered to fully charge the battery the night before.  My bad.

This protest was against a kind of metaphysical phenomenon going on since the Columbine High School episode.  There's not much agreement on underlying causes.  We no longer entertain theories of possession, in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer sense.  Mental illness is typically discussed in terms of brain chemistry, computer games and television.

Once my battery ran out, I was motivated to visit Yard House, a high ceiling below ground level watering hole.  Derek, my company for this outing, joined me after taking in the full program of speeches and music.  We both had smartphones to keep in touch with, way better than walkie talkies (who here remembers those?). I also Facebooked and likely tweeted.

Later, when I was already on the bus heading home, Derek taking a different route, running an errand, Glenn phoned and we decided to have lunch (I'd only had Boneyard RPMs at the Yard House), this time at the Hop House (I allowed myself one more beer for the day, this being around 3 PM, the start of happy hour).

Glenn knows plenty about guns, has always had them around since he was a kid.  North Americans have their outdoor heritage and I'm all for living in the great outdoors.  The camping side of the culture, with its emphasis on gear, and self reliance, continues our hard won competencies as outdoor humans (with caves and such to retreat to).

A different cultural balance, much healthier, is likely nearby, however the invisible landscape in question has little to do with legislation per se.  Code emerges in the wake of a strong willing emergent mindset, one could say.  Law is what forms in the wake of the moving ship.  Steering involves using psychometrics to respond more appropriately to feedback.

Psychometrics is perhaps a dated term, but is not something bad.  Statisticians and data scientists have the responsibility to collect data measuring public sentiment.  Catching that massive demonstrations happened is more tip of the iceberg.  One looks for analysis and the better analysis is, as we say, data driven.  So lets not begrudge that data gets collected, including on us.

That said, having data for the purpose of fine tuning a model of reality, is distinct from seeking to reshape (versus simply model) said reality.  We don't begrudge academics their modeling, but take umbrage when campaigners wage psywar on behalf of their candidates and clients.  However don't we prefer psywar to violence and mayhem?  I know I do.  I'd make the whole fight be through billboards and other advertising, and computer games, had I that magic wand.

That's all a long-winded way of saying the outward weapons way of settling scores could be set aside for something more computationally intensive, perhaps, but we have an abundance of silicon.  Let us duke it out in social media, including on television, and we won't have to work it out with sawed offs.

The day closed with another visit, where I ate sparingly at Riyadh, a Hawthorne icon, down closer to the old site of Dr. Hawthorne's hospital, a mental one.  The languid Ladd's Addition stretches back from the intersection with SE 12th, where a famous pod of food carts sits kaddy corner from a Burgerville.

I was expecting to see a lot of people I knew at the march, based on past experience. I did encounter Joe Snyder on a street parallel to Broadway, heading the other way.  I was reporting details to Glenn but got off the phone long enough to compare notes with said Friend.  Richard Moley, who often salutes me as Kirby the Obscure, came up and bowed, conveying his customary greeting.