Monday, September 28, 2009

Random Posting


The summary below is something I tossed out on the Internet recently. A fun way to test your skills, should you accept this challenge, is to find where I put it. Hint: filed yesterday.

[ posting to some list ]

Just thought I'd continue some earlier threads.

The 4D geometry
I've been talking about takes the tetrahedron as topologically more minimal than the cube (with good reason: it is) and therefore switches to a different model of 3rd and 2nd powering, introducing growing/shrinking tetrahedra and triangles in place of cubes and squares.

Instead of XYZ (cubist), the matrix or scaffold is developed from sphere packing in the well known CCP pattern (same as FCC) with all edges the same length.

In the CCP, every unit radius sphere is surrounded by 12 others tangent to it, in a cuboctahedral conformation. Successive layers of balls, packing around a nuclear ball, define a progression of 1, 12, 42, 92, 162... balls, always in the same cuboctahedral conformation. That's just how CCP is defined.

:: CCP ::

Four unit radius balls, inter-tangent to one another, define our unit of volume in this system, our model of 3rd powering. The cube defined by two such tetrahedra intersecting at mid-edges has a volume of 3. The octahedron dual to this cube, the other void in the CCP complementing the tetrahedra, has a volume of 4. The rhombic dodecahedra that encase each of the CCP balls in a space-filling manner, such that edges between adjacent ball centers penetrate their diamond faces at 90 degrees, have a volume of 6.

These easy whole number volumes in conjunction with a sphere packing lattice sets the stage for a bevy of geometric concepts, tightly organized and accessible to grade schoolers, not just adults.

Linking the 4D tetrahedron to Karl Menger's "geometry of lumps" provides a definitional context that certifies this as a non-Euclidean geometry, but not in the sense of jiggering with the fifth postulate, although there's more we could say on that topic as well.

:: karl menger, dimension theorist ::

All of this material was published in the 1970s by a famous architect and later Medal of Freedom winner. Since that time, students of this geometry have spawned several new areas of investigation, including elastic interval geometry which adds dynamism to the edges. EIG was also inspired by the work of Kenneth Snelson, the internationally recognized sculptor who pioneered the tensegrity genre. Gerald de Jong was an early developer of EIG. You'll find several free tools on the Internet, such as Tim Tyler's work at Alan Ferguson's SpringDance, a Delphi application, seems to be no longer on-line.

The cuboctahedron defined by 12 balls around a nuclear ball has a volume of 20 tetravolumes. We also have a bridge to the five-fold symmetric family and a modular system for dissecting these shapes, including the A, B and T modules, all of equal volume 1/24. Two As and 1 B combine to give a space-filling irregular tetrahedron called the MITE in our namespace, and depicted on page 71 of Coxeter's Regular Polytopes. There's reason to bill this the minimum space-filler in the sense that it's tetrahedral (simplest polyhedron) and comes without the need for a complement. The dissection into As and Bs is specific to this 4D geometry (4D in the sense of "four directional").

Given the links to architecture, art and computer graphics ("geometry of lumps" makes sense in ray tracing), it's not surprising that students looking at careers in these areas are boning up on the related syllabus, much of it free and on-line. You'll find lots on YouTube as well.

The T module, also of volume 1/24, comes in left and right handed versions, as do the A and B modules. 120 of them (60 left and 60 right) define a rhombic triacontahedron of volume 5. The radius of this shape is just a tad less than unity i.e. it almost shrink wraps the CCP ball. Expanding this radius by the 3rd root of 3/2 takes the volume from 5 to 7.5, where the radius turns out to be phi/sqrt(2). This larger rhombic triacontahedron intersects the edges of the volume 6 rhombic dodecahedron, which is tangent to the CCP ball at its 12 diamond face centers.

To make a little chart:

A, B, T vol 1/24
Mite (space-filling) vol 1/8
Tetrahedron vol 1
Cube vol 3
Octahedron vol 4
Rh Triacontahedron vol 5
Rh Dodecahedron vol 6
Rh Triacontahedron vol 7.5
Icosahedron vol ~18.51
Cuboctahedron vol 20

A few animations communicate this information fairly succinctly. Clocktet by Richard Hawkins, which premiered at the Fuller Centennial in 1995 in Balboa Park in San Diego, was one of the first in this genre. We've seen several since. Getting more in the pipeline, from such shops as Disney / Pixar, is a priority of my working group in Portland. We also do a lot with Python, showing students how to do their own ray tracings and interactive geometry cartoons (POV-Ray and VPython), plus how to use generators to yield such sequences as 1, 12, 42, 92... (above), an easy entre to programming, which by now has an integral role in the digital math track we're developing in the state of Oregon.

All of the above is well documented, including write-ups of the various classroom pilots, open source software, animations etc. There's an institute ( along with affiliated think tanks all supporting one another in various ways. I've personally been flown to Sweden and Lithuania to brief my peers.

Universities have been slow to catch on however, which is why the initiatives have been mostly in the private sector. Dr. Arthur Loeb (MIT, Harvard) helped us quite a bit. Dr. John Belt with SUNY has also been of considerable assistance.

Fuller's chief collaborator on the magnum opus in question, available on the web for some years, was a career intelligence officer and author of Washington Itself, Cosmic Fishing and Paradise Mislaid. I've included his picture on my Myspace page.

Kirby Urner

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Private Party

This is more live blogging from a music venue, a different ambiance from last night's coffee shop experience. Welcome back to Duke's Landing.

Richard and I sampled the breakfast special, catered by the establishment, after setting up the studio recording equipment trucked from company HQS. Lindsey is laying down tracks, including Free Strippers and Drugs, her newest hit single.

Hardly anyone knows about this event as the posters around town did not disclose the venue. We used a treasure hunt motif to weed out all but the most serious die-hards. We're all cold sober. No booze, no drugs. Just breakfast.

Lindsey started her gig by reading aloud (for the recording) the cover letter going out to the neighbors, aimed at getting them on board with some conspiracy around this Evil Lair:
Plan C is to lure you all over to my evil Dukes Landing lair for an open house to partake take in all future evils such as holding United States hostage by threatening to get rid of the penny, or to create global warming if Bush doesn't resign as president and let a black American become president (this can only be thought of by an evil genius, I am glad I am soo evil).
Yeah, kinda wild and crazy. Management is trying to get folks around here to lighten up about stuff, but then this brand of humor is coming from an unauthorized source. Most Americans only trust David Letterman or Jay Leno or that Comedy Central guy to be funny. Home grown humor is considered too wacko by the rank and file. Yes, I exaggerate for effect -- not everyone finds that funny, I realize.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Photo Shoot

Elevated Coffee

:: elevated coffee 2009 ::

I'm across from the Trail Blazers Boys & Girls Club on MLK, still a flurry of activity at sunset, fall coming on. Elevated Coffee is one swank joint, chandelier, bright track lights, gigantic mirror, lots of bling yet tasteful, not over stated.

I did some location scouting earlier, sampled the wifi. Best of all is the white baby grand, which Lindsey will grace with her edgy lyrical style.

My Olympus Stylus is hardly the best piece of equipment for glossy magazine photography, but I'm more in TV director mode, trailblazing with stills, hoping the video cams will follow up someday. I'm paving the way for a new genre of reality TV, one with more didactic content than the eerie game shows that ignore the horrific state of the world (contributing yet more escapism to the mix is not my primary responsibility, leave the phony baloney to the less talented is my attitude).

I've been in touch with a lot of Quakers recently, thanks to this flurry of community organizing around Multnomah Meeting's Friend in Residence program. Elizabeth Fischer, one of our newest members, is Clerk of Programming. John Calvi is our in-residence Friend.

I'm likewise in communication with AFSC types, both current and former staff. Alice Perry suggested a talk on October 3rd I should probably catch, so will need to hand off the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp piece to my peers on the planning committee. We mostly know the drill anyway, as Quakers tend to auto-program pretty well (called "attending to Spirit" in some shop talks).

Python culture is branching out pretty successfully. Pycons are springing up around the world, including in my old stomping grounds in the Asia Pacific region. The US Pycon, in Atlanta next year, is just one of several. I've been looking at some of the non-US Pycon possibilities closer to home, eduPycons especially.

PR for Calvi visit (click for larger view)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wanderers 2009.9.23

We're eleven strong this morning, including Dr. Nick, train-bound, and Barbara, soon to Panama. Dick Pugh, the meteor man, another Cleveland veteran like Barbara, is regaling us with stories.

I ran into Johnny Stallings at Jiffy Lube while servicing EKM. His pen pal friend was getting to try a half-way house for the last six months of his term, provided he found a job within two weeks, and no knocking on doors, gotta line up real interviews. Pretty stringent.

I'm passing around Todd Schorr's Dreamland again, an art book in my collection.

We're reminiscing about some of our super stars: Dr. Stephen W. Hawking yakking about God (Q: "Does God exist" A: (after an interval): "It's not for me to say"), Stephen Jay Gould and the bible thumpers in his audience that night. This guy Atul is doing the Schnitzer this evening (not an ISEPP talk). The tickets show him in health worker clothes.

I've been sending out updates to sponsors, potential investors, regarding our company activities this summer. Testing our safe-house network for future foreign exchange students is best accomplished by locals, or folks from out of state. Some of the language and cultural barriers go away, while host families get habituated to having a guest, maybe starting a garden if planning to feature on cooking shows.

Fine Grind (headed for a name change) is getting those ASCAP letters (and phone calls), same as Duke's Landing (yes, Duke is a Mastiff, same breed as Shomar) same as any public house or brewpub that shares covers and/or original music to which the artist no longer owns the rights.

Open source music, pioneered in Portland among other capitals, develops play lists of sanitized music, with artist-owned copyrights. GNU's GPL etc., serve as model license agreements, when covering derivative works. Of course ASCAP is free to license its own open source distro, as is BMI, much as RedHat sells Linux. The visual arts community also shares paradigms.

Lots of energy talk, more stories about meteors. OK, time to upload to Photostream. I'm still happy with this system76 running Ubuntu Jackalope, a netbook. I pondering whether I should get some accessories, should the winter budget get approved (need to submit to CFO one day soon i.e. send by httpRequest).

I watched the season premier of NCIS, also the launch of NCIS LA (it's common to franchise successful shows, witness CSI). The N stands for Navy. These guys never seem to set foot on a ship, just carry on like normal landlubbers from what I can tell, but then I don't usually go for fantasy worlds of this nature -- too much slimy ooze eye candy (to paraphrase Frank Zappa), horse-pukey stuff. The HDTV looks really sharp (these were broadcasts, neither cable nor dish). This new breed of TV is changing the culture eh?

:: copyleft noncommercial (click) ::

Friday, September 18, 2009

Community Kitchen

The idea of a cooking show, ala Julia Child sorta, as a way of teaching nutrition and related skills to young and even older folk, is taking shape in my kitchen. Jody sparked the idea one Thanksgiving, of turning that facility over to a pro (we were out of town in that instance), whereas Kym & Tim have shown me how it works, provided you're lucky enough to know lovely people.

The idea here is a public school educates people in the building about the surrounding ecosystem, which in our case means Bull Run, various watersheds, zoning constraints, Hwy 26, the Little Sandy, Mt. Hood... Mt. Tabor. The topography would vary, as would the lore, yet the software needn't be all that different. Load up the school server with GeoDjango and illuminate urban farms, community plots or whatever. We're already serving up prototypes in Portland, with more in the cooker.

Whereas neither Lindsey or I have camera skills approaching Nirel's, we're still able to storyboard in rough cut, experimenting around the neighborhood (Richmond / Sunnyside) filming median strips, or whatever you call that strip between the sidewalk and public street. Portlanders increasingly farm those aggressively, choosing produce a few yards away over stuff on a truck from the heartlands. This is not because we hate the heartlands. We just want to stay in shape, not lose all competence to feed ourselves (too Matrix, pre the red pill).

"Cuisines of the world" sounds fun in concept but I'm not planning to recruit cooks from all 130 odd nations. The dishwasher is still broken, some of the metal is falling off, one of the burners is out. This is more a rehearsal space than a live venue. Retired navy ships have better kitchens, as do active duty ones.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Forbidden Lies (movie review)

Forbidden Lies

Norma had a clear goal in telling her story, which was to draw attention to so-called "honor crimes" [sic] engaged in by sickos in many countries, but in her case in Jordan.

Her book became a bestseller, meaning the backlash was intense, ala Satanic Verses or one of those. The fact that she'd encrypted (concealed) a lot of the core details made her a target for Malcolm and other newspaper reporters hot for some literal truth, a lot of which emerges through the film as facts about Norma (still under FBI scrutiny) -- even as Dahlia, the victim and a symbol for every girl with dreams, becomes a deeper mystery.

They spin her story against her, but she spins right back, jumping into this movie-making experiment in defense of her campaign, to which she is loyal. The movie revels in spin, doesn't clamp down, which keeps the audience thinking. The reviewers keep spinning it in their reviews, a lot of them buying the counter-spin that Norma is a con artist and nothing more.

The chief irony in this film is defensive Jordanians repeating the lies from the book as evidence of a cover up (for some money-making scheme? -- various motives imputed) while at the same time admitting openly that these lynchings of women occur, complete with corrupt laws and a tacit nod from the bench. My disgust for nation-states was excited by this film (not just Enron is worthless).

Abuse, sexual and otherwise, is what goes on, is what's being brought into the open and discussed. Norma is good at jihad, is like the Valerie Plame of Jordon in that sense (yeah, she's also quite a looker, maybe did Vanity Fair already, me out of the loop as usual). Her deathly deceits keep the ball bouncing around this story. We don't forget about these human rights violations and their perpetrators.

After the movie ended, we went for beers at Laurelwood Pub. Dr. Tag, a duck to water in both Amman and Portland, actually knew a few of those talking heads in the film, so this was a perfect "small world" experience for both of us. I mentioned my hope we'd have dinner with Norma sometime.

Then we headed over to the west side for a soiree with Portland's intelligentsia. I yakked with some exCIA guy who'd been stationed in New Delhi back when Dulles was driving crazy. He'd met this woman with a shared sense of adventure and they had a car delivered to Kenya so they could drive it to London, not missing the channel boat. This was in the 1940s sometime?

Our guest speakers were from Seattle, talking about their work to get women title to lands, even just small plots. Those micro-loans don't do much good if there's nowhere safe to build stuff, tend a garden or whatever. We also talked about AFSC work in this area (nutrition, education).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Indian Summer

Mom phoned from Minneapolis this morning, Glenn and I just pulling into the driveway, having passed DEQ. She's enroute to the AFSC board meeting. I'm working with Regional on a new media campaign, in my capacity as BCFM liaison and NPYM corporation representative, a job I've held in the past.

This is my first post ever on the new Ubuntu Starling by System76. She's working as advertised. I need to retrain my fingers to fit this netbook sized keyboard, which is still a lot bigger than my thumbs-only keyboard on the cell.

I'm doing some studying of the virtualenv, pip and django tricks I learned at the pony farm. django.http has QueryDict which I wanna play with some more. Don't forget to import settings and configure them to solve the environment variable challenge. I told Glenn how impressed I was by Andy McKay's talk about embedding Django as a router for SMS messages aimed at countering malnutrition and malaria in Kenya and Malawi. Field workers tweet about kids, and clinics get actionable information. There's a lot of error checking.

Tonight is a concert and benefit for a family healing from a devastating bicycle accident. The weather is like summer, but the leaves are all turning and fall is in the wind.... still getting used to this new keyboard. I should try it out in my corner office, test it out on the road. Only 2.6 pounds this time, for under $500.

Yes it's 911, also my wedding anniversary. My fond greetings to Aunt Betty in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and to Cousin Pat.

Our primary physician may soon drop our insurance company, to which we pay hefty premiums. I'd rather switch to a new policy than drop our primary care physician. I should probably be looking outside the USA for less crufty policies. The inertia here is borne of complacency I think, collusion in the face of rather little competition. Citizenship should not be a barrier to affordable, competent care, such as we get here in Portland, if left to our own devices.

cousin pat, aunt betty (pat's mom),
sisters alexia, tara (march 2008)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

American Revolution 2 (movie review)

This black and white documentary was shot in 1968 around the time of the democratic convention in Chicago. The camera is lively, cinema verite style, like a high rez cell phone, but long before these were around. There's no narration. The talent clearly trusts the camera crew and doesn't hold back from expressing itself as clearly as it knows how.

As Roger Ebert wrote in 1969, at the time of the film's debut:
The film is an "unnarrated documentary," something both The Film Group and Chicago filmmakers Gerald Temaner and Gordon Quinn have men experimenting with. There's no deep, authoritative voice telling us what is happening. Instead, we see and hear only the people the film is about; they speak for themselves.
Wrapped up with this prehistoric footage in this time capsule DVD, is a more contemporary color special feature from circa 1998, wherein one of the protagonists, Black Panther El Franco Lee, has become a collectible artist and much appreciated politician, as has his brother Bobby Lee Rush, likewise a Black Panther and by this time a USA congressman.

The editing of the 1960s portion reflects an ethereal intelligence, dissolving at the end into grave stones, angels, a zoom out of Chicago. We've got a satellite view here. This is an art film, more than a political one.

I agree the folks were articulate and strong at representing their views, especially that mom with the rifle who wasn't gonna take it anymore. Police brutality and harassment were of central concern. Gotham was really ugly back then, and still has quite a ways to go I reckon.

Mike Gray writes (of his own work):
Gray's gritty, no-frills style is spontaneous and purposeful suggesting a you-are-there quality that captures the excitement of the era. Shot verite style, with no script, hand-held camera, direct sound, and natural lighting, the look is rough, raw, and real much like the city it depicted.
The film excited my misanthropy, as I thought everyone too inarticulate, both uptown and not. However the sensitivity of the filmmakers themselves redeemed the project in my overly judgmental eye. These were good people, doing their best. Thanks for the view.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

DjangoCon (Day 2)

katie cunningham and james tauber
with tribal totems

As official snake wrangler for the PSF, I made it my first order of business to hand her off to the conference leadership, suggesting we might follow in the footsteps of the Fake Kaplan-Moss (yesterday's keynote), with Fake Steve, perhaps giving a Lightning Talk with the materials provided (three ring binder about the mission and challenges facing the PSF, on-line at Blip TV from Chicago Pycon this year). Steve is from Manchester and those places and we have lots of guys from the UK... or we could switch genders here. I gave the totem to Katie Cunningham (a technical lead at NASA). Anyway, I'll let ya know how it goes with holdenweb and The DaJango Code.

Our snake (@psf_snake) got to hug a lot of fun people at the PPUG pow wow last night, also met Weird Sarah (family dog).

While in line for coffee, I mentioned to the Lincoln Loop guys that they were famous now, so try to handle it with grace. That's cuz I blogged about 'em yesterday, so I was just being the sly self promoter, bootstrapping stuff. The Lincoln Loop is an extreme skiing maneuver, practiced by one of these Colorado based computer scientists in his glory days as an extreme skier (no, not on Youtube).

First keynote: We're talking about the meaning of what we're doing. Why am I an open source developer, what does it matter? Ian Bicking (@ianbicking). He's addressing us as fellow open source programmers, reading from the Richard Stallman GNU manifesto he first encountered as a teenager in high school using emacs. Richard's aggressive questioning of the status quo (lawyer-controlled software) excited his imagination and his loyalty. Today, he's a bearded old man (well, sorta -- more brown than gray).

This keynote is like Revolution OS in some ways, a trip down memory lane (pre browser!). I'd go over this lore in my Saturday Academy classes. Stallman's ethics maybe took something of a back seat during the subsequent rise of the FOSS bosses (hackers of various flavor).

Ian is disappointed that legalistic licensing language has a stranglehold on what constitutes "freedom" these days, giving us a negative lawyer-like definition of our community. If we really had a free environment, we'd be less worried about licenses.

He never cared about "fighting closed source" that much either, shares that prevalent sense of apathy about Microsoft etc. Corporations use a combination of open and closed source resources but the latter is less appealing to developers for design reasons (too much red tape if collaboration is a goal).

This is interesting analysis and anthropology. Open source communities tend to be ad hoc, are a lot like music bands I think. Record labels or brands are a part of the action, despite our independence from hierarchies and brick and mortar commerce. Music is a kind of software. Instruments, recording media, players may be software as well.

Ian is making a strong statement about the nursing profession, how it operates, as akin to his philosophy of self determination and individual action. He's more skeptical that doctors are quite as ready for introspective sharing of this kind (he supported a wounds nurse mail list on a job long ago). He's jumping to government now, suggesting a cynical model of government workers as just wanting to be lazy and ineffective makes little sense. People may fear their hierarchy or feel prevented from making the choices they want to make, but still wish to be useful. I'm thinking back to Jeffry Goebel's work with tribal groups with conservation responsibilities. In exchange for empowerment and effectiveness, they gladly took a smaller budget. Lean and mean is better than bloated and slow.

In contrast to yesterday's loud fan Toshiba running WinXP with Cygwin, I'm using a quiet Toshiba this morning, running Ubuntu. Thanks Patrick. The 2nd breakfast (snack break) is refreshingly healthy: fruit and vegetables, yogurt, juice and water, no coffee or tea (those are available for purchase).

Using Django in Non-Standard Ways by Eric Florenzano (@ericflo):

It's not as hard as you think, plus don't worry too much what "standard" means, as everyone's using it differently. Swapping in different components, other than the default, and/or using bits of Django in other projects (non-Django) would constitute "non-standard". He's walking us through swapping in Jinja2. Swapping out django.contrib.auth to write a Facebook application proved really simple as well. He's also dropped the ORM sometimes. Mochi wanted all its applications to talk HTTP and JSON if wanting to access Postgres. They used Django but left empty, made send a game_slug by HTTP and return a game page (html) as a response. I'm thinking Coffee Shops Network could learn from this architecture (wearing CMO hat at this conference, as well as PSF hat).

Using Django in other projects might include using its ORM. Use Repoze for WSGI middleware maybe (bitblt, squeeze and profile are cool). YardBird, Djng, Jngo are more crazy non-standard Django applications.

I Like Dogs

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

4D Studios

Last night was Three Friends open mic, mostly spoken word declamation, kicked off by Lindsey Walker and The Good Bye Party.

4D Studios provided the maxi taxi (Nissan Maxima) for Bose Tower transport, keyboard etc. Rick and Laura came by bicycle, with additional instruments. Dr. Tag arrived in Lulua (Mercedes Benz).

This format was somewhat the template for October 2nd: coffee shop ambiance, me not the only gray.

At the other end of Lindsey's spectrum, where she's more fish to water: loud, hard-driving machine-like punky grunge, with segues to keep the dance party moving (more athletic and DJ-like, per the recent Angelo's gig).

She also loves playing unamplified pianos, like the upright at It's a Beautiful Pizza (Quakers have those too).

Monday, September 07, 2009

Catholic Analysis

Catholic Pamphlet
:: from meeting collection ::

I discovered this 1966 pamphlet, Our Neighbors, The Friends in Multnomah Friends library yesterday, a Claretian Publication with the official Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur assurances that the reading is free of doctrinal and moral errors. Beyond that, these assurances do not constitute an endorsement of the author's opinions, William J. Whalen being the author in question. I was delighted to find the name Jump on the inside, the name of a founding family of our Multnomah Monthly Meeting.

Whalen is writing for Catholic laity, pointing out how tiny a sect this is, and how it has ceded power over the centuries basically for two reasons: (1) its activism on behalf of unpopular causes has alienated Quakers from the mainstream; (2) its quietism (its refusal to proselytize), as distinct from its simply distinguishing itself as some unique brand of mystic.

On the topic of unpopular causes he writes:
Penn signed a treaty with the Indians and sought to establish a just and peaceful commonwealth in Pennsylvania. The Quakers dominated the political life of this colony, the wealthiest and most populous in America, until 1756, when they refused to vote a tax for war against the Shawnee and Delaware Indians [sic]. Others, less concerned about fair treatment for the original inhabitants, took over the reins of government. (pg. 23).
Are Quakers even Christian? That question doesn't arise in 1966, although Whalen does suggest it's a "third form" of Christianity, neither Protestant nor Catholic (pg 10).

One of my favorite passages, which I read aloud during social hour yesterday, reads as follows:
Just as in 1966 some people try to smear others by calling them Communists, so in the 17th century critics of Quakerism tried to accuse them of being Catholic agents. One pamphlet published in 1654 was entitled: "The Quakers Unmasked, and clearly detected to be but the Spawn of Romish Frogs, Jesuits and Franciscan Fryers, sent from Rome to seduce the intoxicated Giddy-headed English Nation." (pp. 20-21).
The pamphlet concludes with some information about the AFSC. As I often explain to interested parties, the Religious Society of Friends realized the way to compensate for their low numbers was to form allegiances with other groups of like values and mindset. This became the American Friends Service Committee in the North American context, though that picture has since become more complicated, given Friends Peace Teams, FCNL, FWCC, QUNO and so forth.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Tooling About

My company's dealings with the Middle East are somewhat undermined by the fact volunteers are perceived as relatively unskilled, whereas a way to prove merit is to boast degrees, awards, patents... or a high enough income to enjoy wine and cheese on occasion. Trying to climb out of retirement from diplomatic activities, not so much used since International School days, is a long slog, especially given my training as a spam assassin (one who cuts through the bull) c/o Applewhite and such people.

Be that as it may, Operation I18N (internationalization) is proceeding apace. Too bad I can't really read Arabic (nor farsi), just stare at it like a fish out of water, not remembering what Princeton drilled into my head back when I had the good fortune to enjoy some professional brainwashing (I was getting ready for Egypt).

I was musing about attending an immersive course at West Point or Monterrey in some email today, as some of my friends have done, but Friends aren't normally invited into the military's inner circle. However with distance education circuits... or maybe just go to PSU, which is closer (plus I have a new bus pass, woo hoo).

I've gotten some hoot 'n holler from AFSC, looking into those southern connections especially. The USA hasn't finished healing from the Civil War in my estimation. We still get a lot of Wall Street carpet baggers trying to muscle in where they don't belong (have no competence), which may simply translate to obsolete corporate models, some tracing back to a Mother Church of some kind e.g. some closed shop Cathedral architecture, ponderous, fortified instead of open source and Bazaar-like, nimble, smart -- what activists learn from the art colonies, though it's a two way street in some necks of the woods.

The "starvation = torture" campaign is coming along nicely, as I already have a lot of that Walden Bello material from my pre-retirement stint, as a former program officer (again, volunteer), or "clerk" as we say in Quakerdom. I've got a basement full of boxes.

I stupidly showed up at DEQ after closing today, but that's OK given the sensors needed time to reset. Nissan Nation replaced the starter on first visit. She's in training to become a company car, for continuing in the proud tradition of Robin and Razz, both private car service vehicles for some of the MVPs that come through, sometimes ISEPP related, sometimes more on the DWA side of things. We should have all the paperwork completed sometime next week.

I've added @psf_snake to the list of Twitter accounts I'm following. It's supposed to show up in time for the Django Conference, a visiting totem, a ceremonial presence. We've all seen this kind of thing in anthropology textbooks. Django has a pony. She (the tweeting snake, must be bionic) is adamant that this is not her in this naked snake picture. I'll be looking closely at her markings (tattoos?) to see if I believe her, maybe do like a Donald Trump and forgive her this one transgression? Probably that's Chairman Steve's job as I'm just a lowly freshman senator type (a kind of duck) in this fledgling dictatorship (Python Nation).

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Forced March

Video Games

We were standing around on the sidewalk today in 97214, reminding ourselves of some history.

My generation became eligible for military service right when people were tired of loser wars, were thinking about a Peace Dividend, had no use for registration. I was never asked to register for any draft.

The military panicked shortly thereafter and instated a registration process. Those protesting the imposition of this government requirement would be ineligible for unemployment, government loans.

In other words, those with a principled stand against such actions as the pre-emptive occupation of a foreign country, even while the UN was certifying it harmless from a WMD standpoint, would be overtly discriminated against.

Schools would have these intelligent thinkers weeded out, diverted to an underclass or underground, by force of government policy.

Yet even a few of the best and brightest in Congress voted against this ill-advised operation. One of them is currently serving as president. But as a citizen, you're expected to signify your support of cruel barbarity, or Uncle Sam can't help you get an education.

The stories from Afghanistan sound much the same -- mercenaries gone wild, with a Ministry of Shame for a State Department. This after Abu Ghraib. When do these folks ever get it that their battle for hearts and minds isn't working? How thick skulled could they be?

I've been explaining the "LAWCAP puppet" mythos to some eager youths in my circle, as it resonates with their experience. The real USA would never be such a monster. Friends on our sidewalk agreed.

The author of the "LAWCAP puppet" mythos is a Medal of Freedom winner, so it's not that far fetched to identify as a member of his party and yet call oneself patriotic. I do it all the time.

In the bar behind us, the juke box screen kept dissolving into US Army commercials. Competing civilian services don't get any bandwidth. More evidence of tyranny, in case anyone needed any.

US Army Commericial

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Gmail is down, Tara affected as well, and Carol. We talked about buying flashlight batteries and hunkering down in the basement until civilization is restored. The problem is apparently widespread.

I was just fixing to write back to the Clerk of Quarterly Meeting about how I wanted Friday night's activities listed as a part of the program, not just in the cover letter.

I may not have sufficient clout to have my preferences acted upon however, as she outranks me. I'm just a continuing member of Quarterly Meeting Planning committee, having served under co-clerks Jane and Diane last year (I was "theme czar", organized that Future of Friends panel).

Nancy Irving
sent me some info on where to buy a "Quaker guts" (or "entrails") poster from FGC. This poster traces some of the forks in our lineage, a complicated pattern.

Earlier today, I checked some of Lindsey's draft video blogs regarding neighborhood urban farming projects, including her own. These look promising as they contain a lot of practical information in a form accessible to public school students.

Before that, I did a free vehicle test at DEQ. The "maxi taxi" runs clean as a whistle, but has a longstanding computer and/or sensor issue, meaning prayers to the Nissan gods are in order.

I have the check from Farmer's already, for my totaled Razz. The back office in Oklahoma was quick with the paperwork, using FedEx in both directions.

I have this concern that Quaker schools won't be able to keep pace with our counterparts on the reservations or wherever, if our "casino math" is forbidden. We might call it "probability studies" but the fact remains, we model decks of cards, dice, roulette wheels... all the claptrap of gambling.

Some puritanical factions may have a problem with mixing randomness with money somehow. Actually, I'm not sure what the theological roots of the problem might be (I'm investigating). I know Catholic churches usually have no problem with bingo. Quakers play mahjong, board games, some card games around here, though usually not for money.

Of course there's nothing to stop us from making the rez schools be Quaker, provided there's no proselytizing or imposition of alien templates against the will of the people. As the Warm Springs museum makes clear, the boarding school model was at one time deliberately misapplied with an intent to eradicate native cultures, by separating youngsters from elders within the same tribe (an internment camp or strategic hamlet approach).

The Diversity initiative within Python Nation seems to be chugging along nicely, thanks to Carl and some others (Tag has been helping me tune in the Arabic pages). There's some statement in the works, maybe some blogs. I contributed some provocative comments before giving it a rest, like:
Anyway, as a Swedish Asian Quaker using Python to bridge to Native American casino culture, I'm a poster boy for diversity and deserve a place in the sun as much as anyone. Treat me as disabled if that helps. [ Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 2:31 PM ]
I sided with Aahz against the ombudsman idea and proposed instead, a free wheeling, archived list where Pythonistas might indulge in pirate talk (including various forms of invective) without bending over backwards to appear inoffensive (often just a way of being phony baloney about stuff).

Every viable society needs some back rooms for this purpose no?

Mirroring the docs in multiple languages will be helpful to those not granted access to elite academies, where English tends to be a preferred language of instruction. The Standard Library will continue in Latin-1 as a shared lingua franca or characters set, basically ASCII, although author names could be in whatever native glyphs.