Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Social Engineering

Eri Gentry's DIY "garage bio" talk got a lot of applause. I could see Tara enjoying it, as she's into DNA sequencing these days, at OHSU.

Gabe Zichermann sent a five minute video on the topic of Diversity, bringing up the UK's official apology for the treatment of Alan Turing who was basically harassed to death for being gay.

The next speaker was refreshingly open about his gayness with no sense of shyness. Geek culture, having roots in the carnival, is open to gypsies as well.

Speaking of which, we had a military vet on the organizers list pounding the table that free speech be protected. There's a fine line between "eldering" someone for tasteless jokes or content, other infractions, versus harassment and infringement on freedom of speech.

Our vet brought up the specter of McCarthy and the KKK to make his point, even defending the right to burn the USA flag, despite his finding this personally distasteful and disrespectful, having pledged his allegiance thereto (as have I, starting around first or second grade -- part of public schooling was to elicit a commitment to nationalism in this way).

I'm back on the NoSQL track this morning, having slipped over to the Perl track to catch the Damian Channel. In the exhibit hall, Naga continues to jump back and forth between DemocracyLab and the Perl Foundation. Python heart Perl.

The NoSQL space is really taking off, maturing, including in big companies. The strongest tools in the space seem to be all open source. NoSQL and SQL coexist peacefully. This conversation doesn't have the flavor of a "religious war". Cassandra, MongoDB, CouchDB, Tokyo Cabinet... so many (I've mentioned these before).

Nation-states, as well as some of the larger private enterprises, make use of these technologies. Huge amounts of data are being generated and stored thanks to the affordability of hardware these days.

What people may not understand is the the Web itself may be defined as a NoSQL database. URLs comprise the keys in a key-value store, with values being resources, objects with behaviors and data. Go ahead and credit me as a source of this idea, though others may have thought of it too.

Google is buying us lunch again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

OSCON 2011 Begins


I did some chauffeur duty around OSCON last night. Chairman Steve directed me to pick up this retired Citibank CIO at DoubleTree. He'd gotten started in the punch card era with Honeywell. His agenda these days is to help Google penetrate the conservative banking world with its email service, which world is currently standardized on Microsoft's. Jumping through a few regulatory hoops is not that hard, is his message, and worth the effort.

We talked about the database back ends used in banking. There's nothing to stop or prohibit a small bank, say Swiss, from using PostgreSQL instead of DB2. It's mostly an ethnicity thing. IBM was the safest choice. To this day, cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, where he lives, have little innovation in terms of open source, as indicated by their minuscule to non-existent Python User Groups.

I bring up PostgreSQL in part because the Gotham Tavern was on our itinerary. The local Postgres chapter, headed by Gabriela and Selena, had booked some space, drinks and food. We managed to crash the party after getting lost. Even though I'm a local, I wasn't sure where to join up with Interstate Avenue after coming over the Fremont from the Pearl, where we'd met up with Michelle Rowley and her entourage at Rogue. Steve got his Android chatting in the back seat, telling us which way to turn.

Rowley leads our Python User Group. She's stepping out from her job at Emma as a Django wrangler to work on a new kind of Yoga site. We went over her business plans at dinner. I plan to nominate her to the PSF, as one of the Python community's MVPs.

Having been on the OSCON organizing committee this year, I was given a pass.

Some "code of conduct" issues came up at the last minute on the organizer list, and I shared some perspective as totem bearer. Sponsors, guilds, companies, come here in part to get their coats of arms, other branding signs, included in a flow of unplanned, unstaged photographs.

Geek circuses generate a lot of publicity for the participants. Any decision to restrict photography must be considered with much thought.

In my view, PyGotham is being boldly experimental in all but prohibiting informal amateur photography by conference-goers, by encumbering it with paperwork and warnings of reprisals against any paparazzi-like activities.

This is a complete break with tradition as part of what conference goers feel they pay for is the right to shoot pictures of various other geeks, possibly with swag and various iconography. The PSF snake, a product placement tool, is all about getting its picture taken.

I'm in the HTML5 / CSS3 tutorial this morning.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FNB / Urban Studies

David wanted to talk about Simon Benson as we peddled our way to the park, having prepped the meal at Multnomah Friends per usual. This is the Benson of the Benson Hotel and the Benson Bubblers, our public drinking fountains scattered about downtown.

Later, when I got home, I shared his query with mom: what was his first name and what might we learn about the guy? She came up with an interesting web page.
Here is a nice story about Simon Benson, the Benson House, Benson High School, Benson Bubblies and Benson Hotel. Sounds pretty good for an entrepreneur.
in peace, Carol Urner

His house was the one Nirel was photographing that day, as it was being moved to its new location.

Food security and food safety were themes in the kitchen this afternoon, as well as on the list.
  • From: Simon Walter-Hansen
  • To: pdxfnb
  • Subject: Re: [pdxfnb] Re: Thursday status update (SE/Belmont)
  • Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 17:18:55 -0700

Regarding safe food handling, you can also get a 30 minute review and take a food handler safety test online for free. if you want a food handler card, good for three years, the cost is $10. You don't need this to volunteer with Food Not Bombs, but it is a good thing to know about food handling and bacteria and how it affects the health of you and others.


On Jul 21, 2011 4:17 PM, "kirby urner" wrote:
> On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 3:08 PM, kirby urner wrote:
> << skip >>
>> Lugging new bag of rice for stores, a Quaker contribution.
>> Kirby
> Someday we should have Food Not Bombs school
> again where we go over all the rules. These Quakers
> (Qs) are pretty conscientious when it comes to following
> food handling guidelines, same with SDW I'm sure.
> Anyway, it's just donated space, not like Qs regard
> this as their own outreach program, making them
> liable as an institution. Our servers know how to
> keep it sane, using covers and utensil protocols.
> If you need to review (as a server) talk to a chef. Lindsey
> is quite sharp on these matters.
> OK, time to get to work. The crew has assembled.
> Kirby

Not everyone coming to a serving is in the best of health always (all the more reason to seek nutritious food). Some are self treating. We also have a triathlete in training.

We follow some protocols to keep the food safe during serving time, as well as during prep time.

This isn't like a Quaker potluck exactly, where people file by and help themselves. Your server will tell you to keep your receiving bowl outside the perimeter of the pot and below its rim. The receiver's bowl cannot spill into the serving bowl, nor should the receiver be hovering over the pot. People assume safe postures instinctively with a few nudges and hints. We're all watching and monitoring one another reflexively as well, offering comments and corrections where needed. FnB strives to be a safe operation.

There's no insistence on face masks or plastic gloves. If you're highly germophobic, just the idea of eating in a park may be too much, especially with dogs around, including sometimes sitting among the group.

FnB creates the casual ambiance of a church or neighborhood picnic, events that may be going on in parallel at the same time in the same park.

Having read up on Benson some, I'm thinking he might have had direct dealings with Sam Hill. Something else to research. "Simon Benson was good friends with Sam Hill... and the rest is history."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Road Warriors

Meal time again. I snagged a polish at Costco, while grabbing sundries, same Costco I'd missed by a long shot on July 4. So I'll just dip in for coffee, not frequent the food bars (speaking of PLU cafeteria).

Hey, a trippy thing happened this morning: a government fleet vehicle followed me for many blocks, right to my disabled parking space (chauffeuring mom -- though not at the time (was getting supermarket sushi for breakfast)), all just to give me a lecture about young people killed (not by me), the implication being by people "like me" (black white or whatever).

Yes, I'd only slowed at the stop sign, but only to keep this waiting government truck behind me, giving him room (he looked slow). We're talking 8:30 AM on a Saturday morning in a campus neighborhood that's rented out in the summer. The place was desolate, absent of people, flat parking lots everywhere, our vehicles the only two in the picture. Chirp chirp (cricket noise).

Not an excuse to break rules (full stop better), but not a case of reckless endangerment either (I later saw a city bus make the same slow rolling-turn maneuver). Isn't chasing a private civilian when you're not the police a bit of a transgression also? That was unbudgeted gas mileage. What if I'd freaked and had heart palpitations?

This quiet empty morning scene was not the setting in which those others had been killed, I would venture.

"[ Homicide ] is the 2nd leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds", I think was the question, but I forget the scope or the source. I helped a health teacher do some grading, using a simple answer key.

I do grading anyway so it's not like I did it unprofessionally. I should join the graders' union. That might mean, to some, that I drive a grader (subclass of tractor) and work on public roads.

Other questions were about the difference between "aggravated" and "simple" assault.

To what extent do lawyers get to tell us, the private users of this heritage, what these words "really" mean. Every discipline has its "push campaigns". Like doctors without borders and so on. We learn to share the road.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Diversity / Python World

Excerpt from one of my posts from earlier today (some hyperlinks added):
We don't force the Amish to have a Rainbow Gathering
on their land. We don't force Disney World to have
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). We don't force people
in Mecca to welcome Christians and build Christian
churches there. We don't force armed uniformed bossy
types into every area, telling local people what to do,
how to behave. We don't force Havana to open itself
to McDonalds. We don't protest every "Boys Only" sign
we come across and say "if you use Python, you must
be non-discriminatory". We are not bullies of that flavor.

That's the "we" I'm a part of and represent to this group.

Your "we" may vary (YWMV).

When it comes to diversity, I'm really into freeing the world
of bossy armed forces types who seek to control by brute
force. I favor Unicode because it diminishes the leverage
of the Anglophone club. I find the English language (its
thinking patterns) too dominant for my taste, even though
it's the only language I speak (unless I call it American
and twist it in various weird ways-- I'm quite the twister,
by necessity).

I'm into defying the power some thinking they have to control
the intellectual heritage of the species using a control
language called "law" that is not only unfair but waaaaay
too slow and smug about itself.

I see free and open source cultures starting to world
dominate by displacing lawyers as a controlling elite.

That's the big picture I'm looking at.

<< snip >>

Of course many white males are anything but privileged. Some
have been stop-lossed and are dying in slavery. White males
die in death camps etc., their skin color no protection.

I like 'My Fair Lady' as ethnography in that it gets to the nub
of many issues: it's not that she's "a she" so much as that she
talks and acts a certain way, has various mannerisms associated
with a certain role, class, category of person. These reflexes
can be reprogrammed whereas physical features are more
fixed. We call it education. Elites learn to act entitled in various
ways, assert their privileges. Do we begrudge them? Shouldn't
everyone be entitled, not just a few? Sounds wrong in English?
So much the worse for English if so?

People with privilege have sometimes just learned to act entitled.
That sounds like a bad thing, but what if you're a child laborer
and join a union because you're entitled to longer breaks? Now
it sounds OK. Traditional peoples about to be displaced from
their native lands *should* act "entitled" lest the lawyers come
in with eviction notices and simply tell them to leave, because
of the dam they want to build.

People are entitled to say "no" a lot more than they do I think.
I'm not a big fan of being endlessly patient and passive in the
face of adversity until its too late. Fatalism and "just getting
through the next day" aren't attitudes befitting people calling
themselves "programmers" (an activist-sounding verb).

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Wanderers 2011.07.05

:: from July 3-5, 2011 ::

Happy birthday Julie.

We left them carless at the Issaquah Motel 6, with advice from Uncle Bill about some express bus service to Seattle. Back to Centralia.

On the way up, I'd caught the Vin Diesel movie. It was either that, or listen to the sound track from my lower bunk. You might think, as some kind of Quaker, that I'd be against this romp through Rio, tearing things up by dragging a special effects bag of tricks though an amazing number of obstacles. It's "kinetics" in that 14 year old sense of wanting to know more physics, see what might happen if... action fantasies fulfilled, using someone's sense of what's believable.

The relatives were hardy and fun once again, a kindly clan.

Floyd pilots those triple-7s to way distant airports. Boeing has always been big in this region, since I was born anyway, which was not all that long ago (1958).

We made a side trip going North in Puyallup to the Costco on 512, a big fuel-wasting mistake on my part, or maybe a commercial. It was closed of course.

Albertson's and Baskin-Robins supplied our contributions to the picnic, including some hard cider selected by me.

I was doing some work on the laptop. PSF business as well. That's ongoing.

Pauling House: Barbara was with us, telling us about her life tending to her almost-100 years old mother. Dick Pugh. Dondi. Me showing up late from Food Not Bombs where the native chanting was heartening. Wave to Melody (one of our chiefs).

I talked with Derek's friend about televising-while-building-out the FNB infrastructure. He was closer to my age, with a lot of experience running big institutions.

Stopped at Office Depot on the way back, got Tara some office furniture. Then it appears her HP Pavilion is dying, younger SATA drive reporting immanent failure direct from BIOS. Is it the iMac that moved in, a work/study program item? No, that doesn't explain it.

Lots of talk about scuba diving tonight (Dondi is getting certified). I bragged about my NAUI certification, my wreck diving in Truk Lagoon. No, I'm not above bragging, like to strut when others are doing it.

That Vin Diesel movie was funny in that way. The heroes made off with the cash, to which the bad guy was not entitled, and were living their dreams. Fast cars. A kind of Mondo Unisex in the behavior codes. The movie had like a role model for everyone. You could like cops, you could not like cops, you could be Asian...

I'm seeing movie-making as more of an alternative to violence. Instead of actually having these bruising battles between superheroes, we act them out and save lives. We're heroes ourselves for just making this an idle summer fantasy in Centralia. They see more of Rio, and favelas rising.

Like the Bond films in that way. Another topic tonight around the table. Dondi had been learning about Ian Flemming, how he got it out of his system. She hadn't known he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I got to be the font of knowledge about something (like explaining "geek" to Steve -- he took it as the straight man).

Brazil: that's where Keiko is from, our lovely Lyrik owner.