Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wanderers 2011.12.28

We were a small group this morning.  Per recent trends, we veered into an eatery, this time Tom's on Chavez / Division.  A lot of our focus was geographic, the LA area.

George Hammond was teaching chemistry at CalTech.  He would later join Wanderers meetings at the Linus Pauling House on Hawthorne.

He was married to Eve Menger, of Multnomah Monthly Meeting, and daughter of Karl Menger, whom I never met, but whose mathematics I cite sometimes.

Jon Bunce had played with the Shaggy Gorillas (minus one Buffalo Fish), a comedy troupe (mentioned herein).  He and Steve remembered some clubs, Steve the poor grad student, worked with Hammond.

During the meeting, I mentioned my "true Russian novel" motif again, for these blogs, a playful oxymoron ("true novel").  I also play with "Russian" quite a bit.

Speaking of which, at Tom's I explained about the genre of training film I'm envisioning, that explains aspects of capitalism in exquisite detail (better than you've usually seen) so that those coming to assist might have more empathy and compassion for its many types of victim.  We could dub into English, serve on Youtube.

The AFSC work camp idea grew out of the CO movement ("conscientious objectors"), when civilians had fewer service opportunities.  During the civil rights movement, the work camp became a way to compare notes across schools and ethnicities.  Some exciting work in diplomacy was going on in parallel.

I'm not saying we can turn back the clock.  Given today's miniaturized components, a "work camp" might be more like a dispersed affiliation of anarcho-bosses drawn together by a spiritual practice or sport.  Look at FNB for example:  urban based, not headquartered anywhere, chaordic (like Visa).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Alice in Wonderland (movie review)

This is a film about determinism, predestination, destiny, epiphenomenalism.

She's being swept along on fast forward, life overtaking her, drowning her will.  Time to hit pause, visit a wardrobe, race down a hole or whatever.  Check into a facility if you can afford it.

Being a star feels that way too, on the set, off, learn the scene, learn the lines.  Getting typecast, being born for such roles.  It ends in the pirate movie anyway.

The too big and too small is also about too fast and too slow.  And sometimes we do feel like the giants in some scenes, which could mean slow and oafish, but I'm saying so much older.

When you're a kid it seems especially pronounced:  we're off at the starting gate and then mature in different ways at different rates.  Sometimes it feels like they're all ahead of you.  James felt that way (thinking of a friend of ours).

I just want to say, a lot of imagination went into that, with the flashback built in, as the hero integrates and is reborn anew.  It's the archetypes adventure too of course.

The determinism is in the scroll or prophesy, with the dog giving one of the sternest lectures early on, about what is or is not predestined, and Alice having her strongest voice back, a dog like that being somewhat safe to tell off (unlike her mom).

Dogs hear a lot from us humans and their job is to just take it.  Some suggest inter-stellar affairs but that's always in the background among serious star heads.  Sarah-the-dog was on the couch at my feet.

The scroll shows faux Alice consulting the scroll, caterpillar making a pronouncement.  As the audience, we know Alice had those dreams, but our inner loyalties are conflicted as we decide whether we can take an older Alice into our hearts, through this vehicle.

From Alice's point of view, sure it'd be really easy to forget those dreams if they weren't in a universe that had made them a famous children's book already.  Her dad is kind and understanding, but the equivalent of grinning cats in parallel universes tend to fall by the wayside, lets face it.

We should empathize with her older self not immediately reconnecting with her childhood psychosis (psyche, crazy kid, goofy guy), her inner window in to a shared [mad] world, her private line. She's just remembering the "it's a dream" part from the earlier scene.

Audiences know more than the characters sometimes, but then don't really exist in some sense.

The twisted Alice videogame we had for Tara, the voice of the cat.  That was the cat, the cat and the hat.  Dr. Seuss doesn't just fade away in Tim Burton movies when you think about it.

The film succeeds because it doesn't try to do too much.  It tries to be the Disney film that shows our state of the art, with some of our best and most mysterious.  Depp is so used to getting made up as a scary bozo.

The vorpal sword needs to fight the Jabberwocky, we all see that coming, the scroll does not lie.  But what we don't expect also happens around the edges and warps the plot.  Who ever thought those two would become friends?  They know it's their fate at some level.

The dream is hard, is the hard part.  The feeling of expectation is palpable, when we all look back to the castle gate, expecting our hero.  She's under that pressure to perform.  That's life, it's cosmic.

The funniest scene is the dark knight (bad guy) coming on to the giant Alice, saying he really likes big girls.  That's too literally true here to not be hilarious at the same time it's on the scary side.

Shades of Spirited Away with the warring sisters and their castles.  A Disney callback to Miyazaki (yes, we're here too) who had to authorize the Disney dubbing.

We projected in the living room.  Walker took a break from recording with R2D2 (the drum machine).

Tara and I had gone to Movie Madness earlier.  Gattaca, Tara's top choice, was the one we watched before Alice, the one I was most desperate to see.  Both blew me away.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dropping a Few Balls

I've just been making contrite phone calls, as in the thick of the action I dropped the baton at a certain place in the schedule:  I'd been invited to talk to the elders in my "church" (we don't actually call it that) about my world domination schemes (as a geek, I'm expected to have those) and about Bucky Fuller in particular, with whose plans I tend to dovetail mine.

Well, wouldn't ya know it that the bookkeeping computer would go into perpetual reboot at the same time as my brain.  Paralyzed with misconditioning, thanks to the Three Kings (thanks guys), I went pell-mell on Hawthorne buying up a storm, from the Dollar Scholar and the high end Tibetan shop a few doors down, Tara my adviser and accomplice, getting some gifts, and books by Asimov.

That was my karma.  My karma is my dharma.

I've got voicemails in with Sonya Pinney and Audrey Metcalf (cherished elders), apologizing and offering to do private interviews instead, if anyone wants to know.  Invite me again by all means.  What I get for being a space case sometimes.  I fight it, that absent minded professor thing.

How can one be mentally present yet have an absent mind, just not possible.  I prefer Buddhism's mindfulness trainings, in my striving to stay on the rails, however often I fly off them.

At least I got some gifts out the door in the game of spinning airplanes and transportation services.  It's a workout and juggling act, that's for sure.

Out with the electric boats last night, with Trish and the gang, noticing all the FedEx flights coming in, laden with Santaware.  The story going around teendom these days, thanks to Facebook etc., is that Rudolph and peers were all girls, as only girl reindeer still have antlers this late in the year.

Not sure if so, but makes sense in a way.

Like with chinlone (a sport), guys just would not have the patience for some crabby old guy in the back with a passion for chimneys.  Same in computer science.  The male egos only managed to grow really big once the ground had been prepared by the patienter sex.

Apologies again y'all.  I have my world dom / mir plan at the ready, when you're ready to audit.

Thanks to Leslie Hickcox for reminding me, inadvertently.  She's with Friendly Care and well knows how to deal with people like me (those who've misplaced their minds somewhere, or their wallets, or passports...).

I bought ten "splat rats" from Dollar Scholar.  I don't know how to rhyme those in the "five golden rings" song but then these were for Hanukkah anyway.  That's our main party this time of year.

We used to do Solstice more, but that's when I had Dawn to help organize things.  I dropped by Alex's (Lindsey and I walked over together) for good food and company.  Tara stayed home applying for college and reading her new Asimov books.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mystic Ball (movie review)

:: burma night ::

I enjoyed a somewhat optimized venue for viewing this movie.  Alex and his friends had organized a Burma Night, spontaneously conceived the week before, and shared at this Nepalese Buddhist compound that shares the same block as the Linus Pauling House.

I somewhat jokingly introduced myself as being from there (the Pauling House), whereas it's not really a residence, unlike this place.

Appropriately, I've been in touch with John Driscoll of late, erstwhile denizen of the so-called Voodoo House (Santo Daime) I used to write about -- same zip code.  Old Portland homes lend themselves to becoming religious establishments.  Something about all that wood maybe.

So Burma has this pervasive pass time and sport called chinlone.  It's a lot like hacky sack in that you're trying to keep something in the air, cooperatively or solo, but in this case it's a woven hollow ball of rattan.  Alex, who was quite a good hacky sack player, assures us chinlone takes a whole different skill set (one which he doesn't have).

Greg Hamilton, the director and star of Mystic Ball, is a handsome world citizen (also Canadian), your archetypal Global U student.  He's very athletic and is a disciplined martial arts teacher in Toronto.  He sees some guy playing chinlone in the park and is mesmerized.  Something clicks.  The rest of the film traces his increasing obsession with this sport and how it draws him into the cultural life and mind of the Burmese people.

The story line is so simple and innocent, like a children's book.

This doesn't mean there's not a beautiful girl to offset the handsome man.  She's one of the best chinlone players in the country and performs solo.  She's ridiculously talented and a sweetheart.  Watching her in slow motion, kicking that woven ball, rivals any martial arts sequence.  The guys are good too, really good.

The room was a hubbub of interesting conversations.  As a somewhat large guy, I can't just "flit about" like Tinkerbell, but I did my best to tune in a number of fascinating threads, about Buddhism, Alex's coming of age stories, and remarks on the new movie about his mom (none of us had seen it yet).

My wife Dawn would have loved this community and I'm sorry she didn't live long enough to enjoy it with me.  She was serious about her practice, and loved sharing about the dharma (teachings) with her shangha (community).

Terry of ISEPP has this vision of how the Pauling Campus might one day encompass this whole city block.  He publishes the artist's conception of this campus in the various programs handed out at the Schnitzer.

These drawings predate the temple though.  It would make a lot more sense for any peace-focused campus to include this Buddhist HQS as a core campus institution.

The synergy with the Paulings, in terms of connecting their anti-nuke pacificism with a world religion of many branches, looks really propitious.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Reincarnation (movie review)

This was a movie about family, somewhat reliving a dream for me as so much of it was set in Italy with people speaking Italian. That was my boyhood.

But the focus is a Tibetan diaspora family, which takes me back to Bhutan, and the matter of fact way in which reincarnation is dealt with there.

To top it all off, I met family by happenstance at Andy & Bax earlier. Alexia and David were shopping for esoteric sporting supplies. I was drawn there by rather strong visions and ended up going from army to navy in my surplus look.

With the new boots (Bogs) I look like some fisher fleet captain, maybe a lobster guy. I should wear this outfit on Meliptus. Anyway, we ended up all going for Thai food, Tara too, at the new place on 38th and Division (first time for us with the new owners -- good dishes).

I took a break after ordering appetizers to buy mice from Twin at Rose City Reptiles, for Barry-the-python, so even more of the family was included.

Back to the film: the son of the Rimpoche is not that easy with his reputation for being his dad's reincarnated uncle or brother or teacher, or one of those. He's just another Italian kid wanting that kind of warm Latin family, a dad more there for him.

But dad, a Rimpoche trying to keep Tibetan culture alive, has somewhat heavy responsibilities, in the sense of lots of people looking to him to not drop the ball. He'd been pressed into monastic service early, as a reincarnation himself, and had escaped Tibet when the country was invaded and occupied in the 1950s.

Dogzchen is an important lineage, including in Italy these days by the looks of things, in Russia too.

The son grows into a man, marries, has kids of his own. He works for IBM. He's a hard driving executive. The cameras don't follow him into his business life much. We talk to the dad a lot, who likes floating in pools. The years fly by.

Having a documentary made of oneself, somewhat in the style of the Up series, does have an impact. The family is self-conscious anyway though, so the addition of cameras doesn't seem that obtrusive. These are unpretentious people willing to make a lasting document with their lives.

Flash forward and the son finally decides to go with his gut and his visions and start practicing his Buddhism more. He'll let his dad be his teacher in this chapter.

What drove him to this decision? For one thing, the job stress is getting to him and he needs to trance out while driving just to stay sane around work. Then come the dreams again, like when he was younger. Pretty soon he's realizing he might be on the path to becoming a Rimpoche himself.

The expectation that this reincarnated teacher might someday return to Tibet, to a major homecoming and welcome, is never far from the surface.

One might compare it to the fictional Little Buddha (I just did), but it's a much more in-your-face documentary about the everyday messiness of life. It's a teaching, a lesson in keeping it real (with forays into the surreal).

The Buddha's story is alluded to, but we don't escape into the big budget mythographic portrayals with Keanu Reeves. Instead, we have a real, worldly family, of wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, siblings, children, grandparents, the whole nine yards. And lets not forget students, colleagues, peers.

We get older, we get sick, we get well, we die, then we get young again and start over. Did the subtitles get it right, saying "conscience" instead of "consciousness"? Would either work? Lucid dreaming plays a role (something Dawn was into too).

The human family has gotten a lot smaller all of a sudden, and a lot bigger. We number in the billions, yet the planet is so small.

I thought maybe the funniest line was when the reincarnated Italian-speaking Tibetan Buddhist community organizer IBM executive is trying to get things going in Moscow, and says: "why are you Russians so complicated?" Who's calling who complicated again?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Foray to Washington

Washington is our neighboring state, nowhere near Washington, DC if you're hazy on local geography. Ridgefield High has an impressive fleet of buses and gathers eligible teens from all over that area north of Vancouver. Yes, Washington has a Vancouver too, a continuation of the same I-5 corridor metro area snaking twixt here (Portland) and Seattle.

I mention Ridgefield High, home of the Spudders, because I was judging there last night, driving our car with Lynn Travis of Bridge City Meeting. Her guy Timothy was just on a first conference call regarding that "should we join FGC issue" that I'm not involved with. She sat in with me as "judge in training" (ironically, as she's the former college-level CRX contestant, and actual lawyer) in her first Lincoln Douglas debate.

Resolved: individuals are morally obligated to assist people in need.

This was the same resolution I'd judged at Clackamas High a few times the weekend before. I was getting to know the territory. My general impression is the neg has the edge on this one, or that the meaning of "morally obligated" is deliberately weaker than "legally", in terms of punishments. Then Lynn got to judge Congress, a whole different event that sounds like a real can of worms.

Meanwhile, Melody / FNB was assisting the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping at the Lloyd Center Mall. Security was busy barricading the doors, having plenty of advance notice. The Rev really looks like one (I've not met him) and Melody was in love with his sense of showmanship, which she shares.

This per the account I got after getting back from Washington, after 10 PM. Clearly she'd had fun, dressing up in a wig and doing a long running gag. Melody: "Just laugh at his jokes, and have his meals ready on time, as the good Lord ordained it." Lindsey: "That just sounded so real, I felt like I was in a trailer just now." These women, with long experience between them among the Righteous Forgiven, know whereof they spoof.

In the car on the way up, Tara was talking about some of the connections between the National Forensics League and the Ayn Rand Foundation, also Model NATO (vs. Model UN). Kind of corporate, she thought.

For Gonzo, our coach, whereas NFL is interesting and he much enjoyed going to National Championships with Tara and Griffin this summer, it's really state level he's focused on. That's the more open / democratic form, with lower barriers to entry, in terms of disposable income.

One can borrow pant suits and ties, do fund drives, develop a wardrobe (like in theater). Journeying all the way to Indianapolis (this year's NFL) is more a privileged persons game, those with money for debate camps, the whole nine yards. We got some help from BurgerVille, other sponsors.

We were joined in the judges room (the home economics classroom, 206) by a 25 year veteran retired debate coach who'd taken his California team to fame and glory, with lots of non-privileged youth. They were budgeting $50K a year by the time he retired, but it was up to him to raise it, and that became tiresome. The program died when he quit, and this was his first judging event in 25 years since then. LD was new, as was Congress. Tara is back there again today, her team continuing to compete.

Lynn recommends the documentary Resolved, shown on HBO, available through Netflix, for more insight into this culture. Maybe Movie Madness has it. Yep.

Elizabeth Braithwaite has also been kindly playing an important role in Tara's growing into adulthood. They've been practicing driving a lot. Eliz taught David pretty recently. Tara is signed up for formal classes as well, which Eliz is helping sponsor. She also arranged to get yearbook pictures. I am grateful for these ongoing relationships.

I'm continuing to monitor Bob Fuller's condition through CareCalendar.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Starry Night

I got this link from City Hall, Mayor's twitter feed, and find it appealing on a number of levels. The idea of time lapse is set up in broad daylight, helping make the leap to starry night.

I'm reading Dava's book on Copernicus these days, and was reminded of that passage where the visiting acolyte gets a ride in some homemade Stellarium and only then realizes Copernicus is serious about his revolution -- it's not just a short cut to make the math easier.

Remember, in my high school math curriculum, you don't graduate if you haven't seen the night sky like this for real. Not just movies will count, though they go a long way in getting you somewhat oriented, in a simulation science.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Protecting Lawyers

:: pbi meetup ::

Lawyers tend to be front lines advocates for something called fairness. The idea of some rule of law, other than the monarch's, is quite alien in some regions of the world. Nepal for example, a Himalayan state not far from Bhutan. The transition to more democratic forms is not being easy.

My horizons were expanded by a young lawyer, Jit Man Basnet, a human rights advocate who stood by the disappeared in Nepal, until he was disappeared himself, held incommunicado while the generals denied he was in their custody. For 258 days he was held, mostly blindfolded, and in danger of being beaten if he said any words beyond the authorized three. Transgressions by his mates resulted in the entire group being punished.

We were hearing of these unfoldings at the Quaker meetinghouse on Stark Street. Peace Brigades International is celebrating its 30th anniversary. This nonprofit sends brave souls to stand witness to activists, many of whom would be or in some cases have been killed. The PBI volunteers themselves have so far escaped murder, if not injury. They extracted Jit from Nepal after deeming it too dangerous to escort him in his home country. He could write a book and be on the speaking circuit, and live to fight another day. That's the strategy being pursued.

PBI is somewhat like Friends Peace Teams, except the latter are more into providing a therapeutic process amidst feuding parties. That might be just the ticket today in Nepal, as so-called Maoists and the remnants of the Royal Army are supposed to integrate. After what amounted to a civil war, starting in 1996 and resulting in the end of the 200 plus year monarchy, getting these elements to combine will take an alchemy like AVP's. PBI fields guardians, people of conscience, in hopes that those undertaking elections, reforms, adjustments, might be allowed their freedoms per the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, for starters.

I found myself thinking back to A Spy for All Seasons for its forays into Nepalese politics. Had Bhutan's expulsion of ethnic Nepalese tipped the balance at all? Barry asked why the term "Maoist" had stuck. There was no agenda to create a single party system. The unfairly advantaged would still have their human rights as well, although those perpetrating the crime of torture and illegal arrest would find their names in the database of violators. Their identities would not be kept secret.

The discussion that followed was dominated by Barry (not Barry Redd of Wanderers, another guy), and included plugs for Greg Palast and his new book Vultures' Picnic, and for Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Actually, Amy Goodman is quite popular with PBI staff and volunteers, as is Amnesty International, which supports PBI work.

We talked about Occupy quite a bit. The problem of homelessness and poverty in the USA is not so often discussed in Nepal and it's an eye-opener to see how there's blowback here as well, against the selfishness of the brute force lawbreakers. Some people seem to not mind ruining it for everybody else. That Americans too have hopes for a brighter tomorrow, a better world, is news to some people who'd given up on any American dream having real meaning.

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.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween 2011 (2 of 3)

:: halloween 2011 ::

If you're going to a big (small, or medium sized) Halloween party this year, tonight is probably the night, as the real Halloween is on Monday, hardly a night to be partying, given the rhythms.

It seemed like at least half the people were in costume on Trimet tonight, hard to tell about the other half.

I looked "plainclothes" with my silvery hair, know-it-all glasses, black fatigue jacket (not really what it's called). No helmet though, so maybe not a costume. Had a cuffka though.

I wanted to scope out the Jamison Park operation, same as I'd done on Holladay. I got more out of the latter, in terms of work, food, and kudos for FNB (our Riseup list had been one of the planning vehicles). This maneuver felt more like a dodge, a diversion, a non-event, as we consolidated off camera.

Passers-by, mostly party-goers, were joking about the "1%" counter-demonstration they could stage, in spoof of the 99%'s. They could have champagne and caviar, and politely ding their glasses with silverware, repeating after the toastmaster in high GA style.

Some guy with a pizza was commanding the center, so clearly not an FNB operation in any case, though I did spy some familiar faces. Mostly I sat on a back bench near the horses, looking somewhat the part, then I got sidetracked taking pictures, didn't wait around to see what went down at the witching hour of midnight. I didn't want to miss the last 14 (timed it perfectly).

Earlier though, I did file my trailer report (CC a few others) sharing some details with the clan.

This has been an interesting learning experience, a rehearsal in a lot of ways (see below).

Koski phoned as I was heading to the bus. We've been experiencing more of the usual nerf brawls on Synergeo, a way of killing time given the world has no place for our little subculture. Gotta do something when you're in a petting zoo holding pattern, or whatever hell.

Last night, I stopped by the CTO's office coming back from PSU, and dropped off some Halloween stuff, authorizing Kuffka dot com on my Visa (same with Cuffka earlier). I like wearing either one (a joke: it's the same thing, just two names for one object, like in a Python namespace).

Speaking of Python, I graded about 95 "papers" today (all electronic, not tree pulp). I also answered a lot of student emails. A regular workday for me.

The next morning (October 30) I joined Jay Elder in representing Food Not Bombs at Coffee Plus, an SDW institution. I'd been on my way on my bike to Social Hour at Quakers, spacing out on this invite from Sara Fischer (I'm a creature of habit, on autopilot sometimes) when I got the cell call reminder.

I did a 180 and became an Episcopalian for the day, running into Clint Dodson, an old Friend, and joking more about Beanites. He'd been a ship's chaplain, is steeped in Christianity big time. I explained about my joining FNB cooking crews here sometimes.

Clint is quite interested in interfaith dialog, like with Buddhists, and seemed secretly please that our SE quadrant is known as "the Buddhist ghetto" in some circles (I'd not heard that exact phrase). That sounds exotic and fun, like "Little Lhasa" (a comeback to Bush Sr. staffers' "Little Beirut" -- all monikers for Portland more generally).

Jay did all the talking when our turn came to do a spiel. First though, was Oregon Food Bank, which had sent a volunteer. He and I got to talking, as I had a long history with OFB back when Patty was doing dispatch and allocations and stuff, and I was her dBase guy. I cut a lot of teeth working with that operation, learned a lot about food and food security issues.

As I was riding over to St. David of Wales, I was thinking my Grumpy T-shirt was inappropriate and planned to keep my coat on. Fortunately, SDW was selling its trademark "Got Ritual?" T in my size, so I grabbed one and did a quick change in a booth. First though, I did a little impromptu ritual myself, setting up this tableau and memorializing it with my camera:

Memorial Tableau

That's my helmet, so this could be considered foreshadowing. I also got a shot in the mirror, later. I ended up wearing the jacket anyway though, rather than take off the Kuffka, which might have looked too menacing with the black T, worn by a relative stranger in their midst, albeit one with silvery hair.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thinking about AFSC

I was interviewed last night by an NPYM person regarding my role as NPYM "corp rep", meaning I'm a member of the AFSC corporation as nominated by NPYM as a kind of "agency - meeting go-between" (yes, we say "laison" sometimes). I'm not the only corp rep from NPYM: we have four. My term goes until 2014. I've been in this role before.

Anyway, during that interview I wondered aloud if the role I'm playing with Occupy Portland is with my "corp rep" hat on, or not. I do forward some memos to an Occupation point person in Philly, but one could say I'm doing that on behalf of FNB, just updating a sister organization with commensurate interests and investments (an affiliate).

The AFSC traces its origins to providing refugee assistance after and during the first few world wars, and to "work camps", many of them alternatives to military service, organized as a way for Friends to provide relief and counter-balancing intelligence (they would put out fires a lot, sometimes by jumping from airplanes).

I'm seeing this heritage, of refugees and camps, coming together in contemporary situations, with the Occupation in particular, and am wondering if "camps" and "camping" should once again become the unifying AFSC theme in the following sense:

In addition to:
  • refugee camps, and
  • disaster zone camps, we have
  • military camps (also known as bases) and
  • prison camps (also known as prisons)
  • farm worker and/or labor/mining camps, sweat shops
The character of an infrastructure may change.

A camp may start out as military, but as the troops come to feel increasingly prisoners of foreign and/or alien policies that don't respect them or have anything to do with their best interests, these bases become prison camps, complete with stoploss, other enslaving measures.

To escape these prison camps is to "go AWOL" and results in penalties. Yet to stay is to betray one's higher conscience and/or one's sense of better judgment.

The AFSC is very familiar with such cases (as is Amnesty International) and has been in routine communication with slave soldiers (many of them minors) for many decades, including troops who are actually in prisons (called that even by the tyrants).

A camp may start out with mostly "refugees", i.e. people with few prospects or assets where they came from, in search of a better life. Here's a quick comment from that Willamette Week article about Occupy Portland which I thought was pretty good:
I have read more than several journal and first hand accounts of living in remote and very populated mining camps in the second half of the 19th century. The mass of confined humanity, all with some purpose, little of which was actual mining, squeezed together on some forgotten draw or playa high in the mountains of the West. Someone starts a newspaper, and a committee forms to bring law and order. Gamblers arrive to glean whatever, and soon there are hired Chinese or Indians doing the actual mining until Irish and Welsh miners arrive to take away those jobs. Not for a share of the find, but for wages. Itinerant Jewish peddlers set up dry goods and hardware stores. And the "find" is found, and used up, and in less than a year or two, the burgeoning burg goes from zero to several thousand in population, and then back to a handful of hangers on. (posted by dude)
I think Quakers are often hardy types, with good outdoor skills, good camping skills, or else they may well aspire to become such.

AFSC should be our training provider, such that we build our logistics and collaboration skills around the world, in tandem with camp staffs (from many walks of life).

We should think more about "occupying" facilities that have turned ugly and criminal, and helping to transform them from within. We could declare Gitmo to be "ours" for example, and compete with the illegitimate chain of command that has been subverting commanders in chief since Bush, who also wanted it closed.

We'll work with the base personnel we already work with, per the prison camp scenario.

Finally, a prison may become something more like a school and/or rehabilitation center, providing skills training and networking opportunities. Many of those enlisted currently have prison records. Some are in service in exchange for reduced sentences.

The difference between a prison and a military base is often one of degree, ditto refugee camps, wherein the newly homeless may have nowhere to go.

Remember that guards are part of a prison and soldiers often view the surrounding population as their prisoners, in the sense of those whom they've conquered. That's not with reference to Iraq or Afghanistan of course, as in neither case have the military command structures managed to extirpate the indigenous civilian (aka "insurgent") processes (same as in America, at least in some zip codes).

Military control over Afghanistan is an oxymoron, as "military control" is but a euphemism for "uncontrollable impulses" expressed as violence. Use of outward violence is a breakdown in self-discipline, according to most seasoned experts in the martial arts. That's what every mom and pop storefront tends to teach, at least around this neighborhood, and on the TV show Kung Fu with David Carradine.

The AFSC could help military occupations become more civil, more like refugee camps, where expats are huddled, close to unemployed, but for the mayhem they're paid to create ("putting themselves in harms way" as they say, requiring more fighting to "stay out of harms way" i.e. the troops must be protected, why they're there, why we fight).

This would involve continuing the work we're already doing: supporting individuals of conscience who wish to disobey their imprisoning authorities and stop behaving like criminals.

This is what happened in Vietnam a lot. Many vets ended up as Quakers at the end of the day, still good at camping, and determined to not let it happen again (but it did, resulting in so many more POWs).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In a Nutshell

Q: I have yet to understand how we let corporations become people.

A: when Lincoln freed the slaves and said "you have full rights" the railroad companies said "hey, we want our full rights too" (corporations hadn't been real people either)

Excerpt from Math Forum:

> "OPDX campus", PSU ?? What are they?

OPDX is a temporary public simulation giving young
people opportunities to develop leadership skills and
to recompute the equations that govern our society.
They put their values into action, negotiate with city
and state authorities, run food and sanitation logistics,
face bitter cold. All in the heart of downtown Portland.
It's a bold project for which the surrounding universities
take little credit (and deserve less).

PSU is Portland State University which does have
a Systems program with some life in it, and a world
famous Urban Studies program (thanks to Dr. Carl Abbott
et al).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meeting with FCNL

Diane Randall is the new chief of this age-old Quaker institution, one of the first religious-based lobbies on Capitol Hill. She's following John Volk in this position.

We may not be as influential as the Unification Church, which has made lots of inroads, but people still say Quakers should be listened to, even if only out of nostalgia (they like our horse and buggy ways, reminds them of simpler times).

I chauffeured mom to Reedwood Friends for this one, same room as Willamette Quarterly Meeting. Interesting to be back so soon, but this time surrounded by indigenous Reedwooders, whom neither of us know very well.

Mom is a long time activist and of course would want to be here, but then she finds WILPF roots for her causes more directly, given its radical women.

She admires FCNL though, along with QUNO and AFSC (she serves on the board of this latter).

Then we'd be off to the airport, for her flight to Las Vegas and the Nevada Test Site, where she has business.

Diane discussed the Occupation with us rather tentatively as it's not widely understood by church or synagogue groups ala EMO, although they may feel swept up in it, sense its importance in the zeitgeist. AFSC has come out in favor, and I got a poster planted.

Many have these nagging thoughts of Arab / Islamic roots, possible behind-the-scenes players who might be against Christmas shopping or adult book stores, or have designs against Israel more likely (actually no one here voiced that specific concern, but I've heard it from others -- one guy did hint about Arab advisers (perhaps using Facebook?)).

We yakked about Tunis and Cairo as originating capitals.

I kept my mouth shut about Food Not Bombs (I said not a word through any of this), but the idea is the same: agency from outside, originating in state capitals perhaps, but not in Washington DC nor even Salem so much.

Vancouver possibly?

Maybe Hanoi if you want to count Intel (a big player in these parts).

Lots of companies want to sponsor good works in foreign lands, not just those incorporated in the State of Maryland.

Speaking of which, yes, we may have hit a ceiling in terms of what North American hospitals will provide to OPDX through their clinics. No dialysis, no free eye exams (Lindsey needs new glasses), no free dentistry, not even in surrounding bizmos. At least not yet.

Basic human services are being denied (as expected), because the "richest nation on earth" is broke and in hock.

In terms of personnel, I haven't seen the usual flock of Catholic-trained nurses, usually on hand to help the homeless. But the days of cute uniforms are over perhaps. These professionals blend in.

Sometimes Asian traditions have cures as well, and a lot of note comparing goes on, generating some new business elsewhere around town. Having a buzz town is a lot better than having a mall (why not have both?). This place reminds me of Piazza Navona around Xmas time.

OPDX is a kind of switchboard. Higher bandwidth than Internet, and more accessible to points of view that usually don't get much air time.

Diane has inherited the creaky old system set in place after World War II and the Eisenhower administration. Congress would carve up a giant pie, called the prime contractors pie (or "irrigation system" in some tellings).

A trickle down form of centralized government spending would feed a vast socialized wealth redistribution system built up around campuses (both land based and floating) most with their own airports, hospitals, movie theaters and supermarkets. The aircraft carrier flotillas would be made here, there and everywhere, as a result of logrolling and deal making.

You saw that scheme in action with the Spaceshuttle program. Part of the reason for those O-Rings was so the sections could be short enough for train transport. Utah was blessed, but so were the others.

All 50 federated states
would collaborate, to some degree, on militarization as a way of life. As might be expected, the results were pretty ugly (witness Belau). Eisenhower had been prescient. USAers lost their innocence and optimism and toiled in servitude, their dreams betrayed, a mostly conquered people drinking Victory Gin and loving Big Brother.

If the choice was between Athens and Sparta, the choice was Sparta. Plowshares would be beaten into swords. No "peace dividend" would appear. Diane worked on the nuclear freeze movement years ago. Today that campaign is called Countdown to Zero and has more teeth.

And that was one of the questions for Diane from a Friend: is it the very business of government to create wars as a means of stimulating the economy? If that's your mental model, so much government does makes perfect sense all of a sudden.

Her answer was careful: some have that agenda, yes, but to implicate "government" as a whole of this crime is to implicate all of us who think we're part of the governing (steering) process. She was wisely non-self-incriminating in other words. Many are not so careful, freely confessing to war crimes in public.

To be fair to the ancestors, our world did appear to be heating up back then in Eisenhower's day, and not because of global warming, which wasn't in the popular consciousness. It was easy to pander to fear, to encourage and leverage hysteria. Politicians have been working the fear factor ever since, have it down to a fine art.

Can you blame them? They want your vote.

So the scary Cold War would stretch on through Reagan, then get hot again under Clintons in Bosnia, then start to thaw in the Arab Spring.

Democracy meant a more multi-polar world emerging, and lots more states with capitals, all vying to be heard.

Virtual states, corporations... even universities were starting to sponsor booths and to recruit more aggressively. The Gates Foundation proved once again that you don't need to be a nation-state to be an important player. On the contrary, mega-states have high inertia, like the Titanic, and rarely turn on a dime. Smaller means more agile.

I disagreed with some of the analysis coming from some members of the congregation, regarding the Vietnam War and it's conclusion in the early 1970s, when I was still in high school in the Philippines (we visited Saigon sometime in there).

Some suggested it was protests at home, domestic agitation, which got the profiteers out of overdrive. There's something to that, but then LAWCAP can be such a bull in a china shop and not really understand what it's breaking at the time. The webbing of nation-states, only recently instituted under Anglo rule, was pretty fragile.

If the former colonialists couldn't contain themselves, the notion of "national sovereignty" would fall by the wayside, would be seen through as a sham.

Anyway, I'd say stopping that bull took a real military awakening to the truly illegitimate actions of a sitting president, a figurehead for organized crime (as seen in retrospect). The commander in chief faced a mutiny, pure and simple. He was lucky to get out.

Sorting out the history, doing the audits, takes time.

Telling more of that story might help a younger generation avoid repeating various mistakes. That's something to get into on movie nights. Laughing Horse is probably on it. KBOO has it covered as well.

We probably don't need the Broadway Metroplex then, though I do think we'd get more of the 99% participating if we had more venues, more Lightning Talks. Some of the sponsors might see why even people doing their day jobs could benefit from more public speaking opportunities.

Having this be a separate initiative, also with city support, would be a way to transition some of the conversation to alternative media channels. We might get more vans in the picture. I'm thinking the Mir Corps jets at Troutdale airport, with matching eye care vans, could wait until closer to Thanksgiving though?

Also, the format for public speaking could be varied were the theater-based GOSCON type model followed (that was at The Nines, also nearby -- I know some staff). The speeches would not need to be repeated using human amplification, a signature technique of the occupation forces.

I should do some more tweets about it maybe. Or feel free to tweet yourself if the idea interests you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wanderers 2011.10.20

The biggest surprise of the day: Gordon Hoffman at Wanderers this morning. He was in good shape, talking up all his pet topics, chief among them the bankrupting of the state by state unions.

You'd think Buzz, former Rush Limbaugh conservative (right Buzz?) would be hot against that position, and you'd be right. Sparks flew. I missed a lot of it, as I was rushing Jim Buxton's chantrelles back to mom at the Blue House, then got into a back office quagmire with some math teachers. Some Wanderers went out for breakfast later, at Mt. Tabor Cafe: Di Nucci, Bunce, Mastin, Wardwell and myself. Stockton has a cold, as do I (lots of coughing), as does Lindsey (has it worse, given sleep deprivation at OPDX).

Speaking of OPDX, I went there next on TriMet, partly to get the scoop on the "missing child" episode that had so exercised some grownups. The 10-year-old had wanted to protest against Bank of America "because they took my mom's money", and to get a makeover at Nordstrom's. No, I wasn't there. Lindsey was helping to look after her, after she (the 10 year old) dumped most the paint in the art booth into her own hair. Where was mom? People put the story together later. No one behaved wrongly, unless you count youthful exuberance as somewhat over the top. Because Officer Walker had been providing some adult supervision, I figured she might know something, and she did. But then that was just one scenario among many in the fast moving action.

Ever hear of Crazy Mary? They want to share our FNB tent site. I got back to the guy right away after he queried the PDXFNB list. I've been suggesting Friends use that tent as a landmark to congregate, if looking for one another. Our OPDX Support Committee is just forming. I'm not on it (that committee), as my role is already cut out with FNB, which has been using the Multnomah Friends kitchen since last September (until OTY moved to NE). St. David of Wales is also in support of FNB logistics, so VBC may want a footprint as well. The irony: real estate in PDV is going through the roof as people angle for a booth ala Saturday Market, and yet they're really not about making money (at least not yet). Fancy that.

Supporting OPDX

New FNB Tent

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Science Pub

Given last week was such a hoot, I almost tripped over myself getting here this time, with Tara. Lew Scholl called from The Bagdad, already seated. We all partook of McMenamins fare, and waited for our three Oregon-based innovators to be interviewed. Glenn joined us at the beginning, but stayed on his schedule.

Eric Dishman, the sociologist with Intel was going over familiar ground, describing what Ron Braithwaite had packaged for a Canadian audience: CareWheels (which, somewhat counterintuitively, is about less car use, not more).

The goal is to disrupt over-reliance on hospitals as the default primary care site. You could have more neighborhoods with more facilities.

Imagine a small cath lab right near the Jiffy Lube. Not that far fetched...

OK, maybe not a cath lab, unless you have an OR for backup -- but now we're talking micro-hospital. Other clinical facilities, certainly. Lets rezone the suburbs to make some of those houses serve more community functions, not just talking about funeral homes or houses of worship. Yes to hydroponics and plantagon type solutions. No to clogging the arterials with commuter clot "rush hours" (such an ironic term).

Given the average age is drifting older, if not wiser (maybe wiser), the goal is to make those dwelling units finally get smarter and take better care of us. The funny thing is, for our houses to get smarter, we have to as well. Our level of public discourse has to budge up from where it's at, under the iron fist of an Idiocracy.

Yes, we've been hearing about this "peace dividend" for years, I realize. But politicians, as a class, seem to ever self-organize to block any advance towards the public increasing its smarts (such as by learning Civics, having voting machines to play with in the high schools).

Yet local inhabitants (occupants) still seem to think there's some reason for hope, despite the "lets get a war on" morons and their profit-taking. The 1% are among the least imaginative sometimes.

The Wieden + Kennedy guy, Iain Tait (one of the mad men) is something of a videogame-aholic. He'd turned his time in the Cyber Detox camp (like they have in Korea -- no screens of any kind) into a learning experience, discovering his thinking could keep up with his fingers when he had to hand write, versus use a keyboard. Usually his fingers would type on ahead, faster than his thinking. Slowing down was a fun experience -- worth getting back to now and then.

He wouldn't be without his computers though, not for long.

And he still thinks games are more engaging than say, commercials. Where else do you get 40 hours of sustained attention, in a frenetic / ADD-ridden / multi-tasking world?

He sounds like one of my Coffee Shops Networks avatars. Why hire him away when you've got such talent already on the job? Open source business plans kick into high gear without forcing anyone to drop everything.

Ward Cunningham was somewhat elusive about what he's working on, but it sounds like a DVCS for wikis. Mercurial meets MePedia or something like that, where the integrity of an individual's point of view is not so disrupted or trammeled upon as everyone scrambles to "control" the content.

This alternative picture sounds closer to my earlier ideas about hypertext (pre 1990s), where you'd be able to load "links according to Linus Pauling" and traverse exhibits in just his particular network.

Authors, like angels, could take you by the hand and lead you through the web, almost as though no other authors existed -- at least while you let them hold you.

Scholars would slide between authors rather smoothly sometimes, comparing and contrasting, meanwhile leaving their own webs (scenario maps, audit trails).

I used to auto-generate papers about this stuff and share them with the then leadership behind the Library of Congress (seemed like a logical step... if one were president (badaboom... laugh track)).

Now I'm not sure how much all this dovetails with Ward's thinking, but at least we're agreed that there's more than one way to imagine hypertext. Project Xanadu is yet another model.

The Bagdad audience was enthusiastic and worked hard to concentrate. We were one collective furrowed brow, thinking furiously, a Rodin sculpture. Sam Hill helped us become a thinking town. We're avid readers.

The conversations amongst the panelists, eventually extending to include whoever wanted to grab a microphone, were somewhat metaphysical in the sense of ephemeral. We were in the clouds much of the time.

Yet the problems were real enough: a family member has Alzheimer's and current "solutions" suck when it comes to care giving.

The civilian sector is way under-served, given technologies in the wings, and we all know it. With intelligent gaming / simulation, we can think / imagine our way into a future where we simply take a lot better care of ourselves.

Why not?

And hypertext will keep helping us get there, help us with dreamweaving.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Another October Maneuver

All Flags Tie

While waiting for the 14 with mom, I dipped into Oasis for a cold one. The woman behind the counter, also a mom, was happy to chat about my day, so I told her about mom being this anti weapons-in-space activist, newly self-educated on the drones issue. Our signs are about drones. We're heading to the march.

I yak with mom about Jerome's observation that Newsweek got a facelift and has left Time in the dust when it comes to good journalism. Resolving to check it out for myself, I dipped into Powell's on Hawthorne (no bus was immanent) heading straight to the magazine rack through Fresh Pot. I couldn't find either mag. "They must be too mundane" I joked with the cashier, buying 2600 28:3 instead. Freddies probably has Newsweek. Maybe tomorrow.

I used to do this (engage in protest marches) from my stroller, same town, same mom, protesting A-bombs and strontium-90 in the milk, other Cold War Craziness [tm]. Those were the early 1960s, pre-Beatles almost. I reminisced with Matt at Hopworks tonight about president Kennedy getting shot. We were 5ish.

The march snaked around the downtown, including through PDV a few times, about 3500 people. We started near Arlington Club (where Applewhites stayed), where I chit chatted with Quakers. Peter Ford, Audrey and Jim Metcalf... Josh was in his medic role (at the Occupation too maybe). Lindsey and I both have colds (we're not here together, just criss-crossing paths).

Darren Kenworthy and I did most of the march (a walk) in tandem, discussing history and philosophy, while weaving paths with mom and her WILPF friends.

Trevor's new book, Portland Memorials, has mom's name (Carol Urner) on page 88, from the Walk of the Heroines memorial at PSU.

Our posters were on the esoteric side, is what I was telling the Oasis lady. Something about War being Hell in the Heavens on the one side, pictures of weird models of drone, including tiny ones, on the other.

A former school district head from Seattle stopped to check my level of God consciousness. He had lots of stories. He was worried the use of religious terms on my sign might signify some disrespect for religious teachings (I disrespect many religious teachings, as well as secular). We had a good long friendly discussion, ending up talking about a role model in Costa Rica.

I'd been mentioning in passing on a physics list today (University of Buffalo) about Oregon drones (drones Made in Oregon). We'd like to sell them to civilians even more, for civilian uses. They're pretty cool (some of them). Why buy into the hellish distopian nightmares the monkey-brain politicians are purveying? "Are we not men?" Who needs them to dictate our future?

My educated guess is the 99% would prefer not to retreat to some Rocky Mountain apartments before pushing the buttons to end it all, how about you? I know some soldiers who wouldn't mind trying their hand at civil services either, the kind of job many already have in their current occupations (not all military jobs are especially violent, or some are but only through side effects).

Engineering the destruction of obsolete and no longer safe buildings is something many young people have gotten good at.

The by-now-old idea of a Peace Dividend seems semi-rational. Remember Beyond War? How about ending hunger by 2000? Do we despise these former hopeful selves? Why should we? I'm still for Project Renaissance, after all these years.

Speaking of Project Renaissance, note how I talk up the similarities between Greenpeace and NATO, in the sense that we were talking using paramilitary tactics. The environmentalists, with their high powered boats on Animal Planet, sparring with the whalers, are a sight to behold. Kids love getting these role models from adults.

I don't see NATO doing anything that inspiring and wouldn't mourn its dissolution now that it has had its day. "Said the professor".

Tara had a driving lesson with Elizabeth Braithwaite today. She's agitating for a gym membership. I quit all such memberships in the dire straits chapter.

Check out the new head shop down from Hopworks, same mall. That makes four within a few blocks. Leaving Amsterdam to bear the brunt has been a hallmark of PNW cowardice, the way some people tell it at Angelo's.

I'm back to browsing again. My realization, talking to Daren, is the university life style is pretty good for some people, and a goal of many out of college is to recreate something of the living standard. That means a lot of access to information.

Having hypertext, which I prayed for in the 1980s, after Princeton, means browser-wanderers like me can kick back on a Saturday night and watch old anti-Nazi cartoons, by Disney, Looney Tunes and others. There's lots to enjoy in cyberspace, in culture more generally.

Matt talked a lot about old plays and movies, a walking library of allusions. deFunkt was actually staging one of the plays he talked about. I'll get a picture of the poster, upload it to Photostream.