Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wanderers 2012.11.28

Elizabeth Furse spoke knowledgably and from much personal experience at the Linus Pauling House this morning.

I came late, as pre-arranged, given Sarah Angel (a nonhuman) needed to be left at the vets for a procedure.

The subject was treaties and do they matter.  Article 6 of the Constitution is quite important here.  Elizabeth, an immigrant from South Africa, served three terms in the US Congress as one of Oregon's representatives.

We learned a lot about the "termination movement", which got rolling in Congress in the 1950s when people grew tired of honoring treaty obligations.

Oregon had much valuable timber along the coast.  Simply ending a tribes existence, a kind of "de-listing" was the easiest way to get at those resources.  Governor McCain help free up a lot of land for deforestation by commercial interests.

In many ways, the Federal government is defined by its interface with other sovereignties, including these internal ones.  Tribal populations, of necessity, have steeped themselves in both the lore and the technical arcana, the better to further prevent erosion of their rights.

We had a lengthy Q&A period (in which I didn't participate), touching on many issues, including casinos and the Indian Gaming laws.  Elizabeth is masterful with this material and a font of relevant information.  I'm so glad I managed to stop in.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Plain Speech: A Meditation

A myth (or story with teachings) within the Quaker world, is success in business followed the early period of persecution (special prosecution).  Enough members of the nobility, celebs, had publicly joined to make the sect respectable even in Court (somewhat like Scientology in that way).  At that point, a reputation for plain truthful speech would get you far, as this quality was sorely missing in business and gave the practitioner, the Friend, an edge.

However, what is "plain speech"?  Quakers prided themselves on pretty much purging their grammar of notions of class.  The familiar "you" (back then "thou") was used towards everyone.  We should pause to remember how many languages, outside of English, inflect the "you" according to rank in society.  The grammar tells you your place, which helps keep it unconscious.

English becomes peculiarly frustrating in that it fails to obey the rules, is not inflected to read "inferior speaking to a superior", not by default.  You have the Quakers to thank for that to some degree.  They pioneered a kind of egalitarianism that was highly compatible with the spread of democracies and their rhetorical bastions.

But speech may be classist in other ways.  An accent packed with dodgy euphemisms that seems to not "cut through it" has the aspect of "not plain". What will it take for Quakers to stay plain in both dress and speech?  I don't think it means unappreciative of highly fanciful.  There's a unity of opposites here.

The plainness is to allow the bigger moves to become apparent.  People willingly suspending their individuality to help some "will" be expressed:  that's where things may go awesomely wrong or awesomely right depending.  In making a movie, the stars work together to create a story as conducted through a director, screenwriters and so on.  The whole is not just some sum of the parts.  Or: "summation" is not just the simple operation we think.

Musical events have this channeling ouija-like ability, other shared works of art, even TV series (coming out in "serial" is how Charles Dickens made a living -- back when people relied on their own imaginations instead of telecasts).

If you come across a Quaker cussing, talking like a pirate, swearing a blue streak, is that "plain speech"?  Should this man or woman be eldered?  She or he may be an elder.  Perhaps a psychopath?  Perhaps, but since when are we called to serve as judge before Judgement Day?

My definition of "plain speech" would encompass the standard est vocabulary for example (a late 1900s philosophy talk and workout), easily, wherein metonymy (synecdoche more specifically) was sometimes used to equate people with their anal orifices.

No, this was a real philosophy, and not necessarily lobotomized (unintelligent) just because crass or crude.  More just TV-14 for language, sex and violence (people told their true to life stories, though the emphasis was on Logic more than History, in the Hegelian sense).

I saw Tommy Chong and his wife in a live performance last night at Helium, one of Portland's many comedy clubs.  I learned from them too.  I found them plain spoken enough.  More than many, lets put it that way.  I was happy to bask in their non-hypocrisy, far from the euphemisms and perpetual pussy footing of many a meetinghouse Friend, more straitjacketed by their matrix.

Tonight it was The Walking Dead at The Bagdad.  I saw at least one other member of the meeting there.  I won't officially propose this AMC tele-drama for the syllabus though (the Adult Education program), at least not for the "meetup" format, as it's a serial, still ongoing, so a bigger commitment in terms of time.

Our practice is starting with the "all in one go" event, though Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, and I hear they're extending Star Wars as well.  I say lets start with bite size and work up to it.  If a group wants to peel off and do a series, fine, but I'm not volunteering to convene such a thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bopping About

I missed Wanderers last night, lost in work, though I'd meant to go.  Sometimes Don reminds me but he knew I had Tara visiting for just a week.  She was elsewhere though.

Oh well, I ran into Glenn at the supermarket and he updated me.  Yes, I'd heard this guy before, at an Ignite, right?  Interesting.  He helps advise on the voting infrastructure aspects of democratic governmental forms.

Voting isn't the whole picture, but a true secret balloting system is great infrastructure.  I've suggested every high school needs one, with open source voting software the students are free to, encouraged to, dissect and discuss.  Which is not to mandate electronic voting to all experiments, no way.  So many ways to go on that score.

This is ricochet week in terms of bouncing around, or bopping about as we might say in the UK.

Sam Lanahan hosted Urners at Bread and Ink for a fine get together.  I haven't seen him for a long while.  He was looking forward to having two of his three kids visit (a little younger than Tara) -- with his third on a sojourn in Brazil.  He was looking forward to seeing Lincoln.

Good seeing Alexia, Sam, Reed, wish I'd popped in to say hi to Lea, the Valsquiers... we won't make it as far north as Stillaguamish country this year I don't think.  That's been part of our ritual in the past.

We still celebrate NavAm heritage though, regardless of itinerary, and toast to a bright future for original peoples of the Pacific Northwest (and by extension, peoples elsewhere who've live through really hard transformations, killing fields).

Great Kachina dolls at the Hyde residence.

I've welcomed the opportunity to see the inside of more Quaker homes.  Josh and I overlapped on committee work.  We're already Facebook friends, why not meet in person.  We had coffee together at Fresh Pot, after which I stayed on to keep working (have wifi will work).

Food Not Bombs is back to using the Quaker meetinghouse under Lindsey's direction.  I played a key role yesterday, per my report to the listserv.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lincoln (movie review)

I'd been delving into pre US Civil War history already, fleshing out my sketchy knowledge of the Quakers' saga, which forms a fine trunk through which to branch out into much of US history, as Human Smoke is disclosing (I'm reading it on my Kindle).

As David Prideaux explained it at meeting (Stark Street), this is not an epic battle movie, like Waterloo, nor a biography of Lincoln, so much as a dramatization of the machinations surrounding the the passing of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution.

How did that come about?

Lincoln is well spoken, and played as an intuitive by Danny Day-Lewis.  He's loved by the people but, as important, he is respected by his inner circle, even as they feel free to open up to him with divergent views.

He lives with a democratic demeanor, not as a lord or superior.  He tells stories.  He seizes the moment, and takes control.  There's a chief executive aspect, which comes out in his lengthy soliloquies about the law and his doubts about the lawfulness of what he has already done to set the slaves free, as property of a rebellious enemy.  He's confiscating enemy assets by using his war powers, but now he wants a longer lasting civilian version that will long outlast these more freakish circumstances.

African Americans have already been fighting and dying in Grant's army.  How could any peace be developed which involved returning former slaves to their original estate?   Unless some law could decree an end to and/or outlaw slavery, a ratcheting back might solidify a state of disunion, rather than unify a state under a shared standard.

The House of Representatives is another main theater or continued scene / setting for this film.  Here we listen in on the patriarchs who seem so like these anthropomorphic animals, cartoon characters.

I'm thinking of Blacksad, the comic strip and graphic novel.  The scene here was comic in that same way, in the sense of exaggeration or caricature -- not because of unfaithfulness to the true past.  Lets remember Dante's "divine comedy" is a book about Hell.

The audience laughed when everyone in that chamber (except the Tommy Lee Jones character and some others) loudly booed the idea of a vote for women -- what might happen after black men got the vote, heaven forbid (if ever, centuries from then).

Sally Fields was strong, and again the audience laughed, with empathy, when she said "all history will remember of me is I was crazy".

Indeed, when history gets tightly focused and everyone knows they're in the eye of the storm so to speak, there's a tendency to play to the unseen audience, the future if you will.  To vote for the 13th amendment was to make a statement in the eyes of some anonymous future America, another tomorrow, a projected United States.

To enshrine anti-slavery edicts within a standard bearer for democratic forms of democracy, was to answer the call of logic and self consistency.  How could a democracy with an "all men created equal" premise forever deny itself the consequences of such a philosophy?  The war would end when cognitive dissonance was lowered -- that seemed the gist of Lincoln's therapy.

I was seeing this as a 2nd exercise of an emerging Quaker practice involving seeing movies together (maybe plays, standup comics) and discussing them, blogging about them.  Robert joined us in that capacity.  I hope to get him together with Steve for some followup conversation.  Cloud Atlas was our earlier trial run and has resulted in some emailed group discussions.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Bright November Day

Checking out comics

Cloudless, rainless days in November need to be enjoyed, or rather we have a need to enjoy them.

I went to Belmont early in search of wifi, and to join a lunch meetup and share culture at Laughing Planet.

I showed some Blacksad to a young reader to be.  Blacksad is film noir style manga / comix.

Nirel:  "That's James Brown" (restaurant sound track), Me: "that's Frank Zappa" (artwork on the wall).

Passing the torch, as it were.  Plastic dinosaurs everywhere.

Some of today's writings (Nov 15):

more news 'n views

Digital Math
STEM stuff

Cywars in Cyberia

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Armistice Day 2012

Some have taken to calling it Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day, remembering when it was a day to celebrate the end of wars on this planet.

Since then, war racketeers have cynically puppeted their spineless DC government to return to glorifying equipment and marching men in uniform; back to dreary parades of fascist vintage.

They want their version of "Veterans Day" to serve as a recruiting device and photo op.

However, some elders still remember president Eisenhower's warning, that these Business Plot types would bring death and suffering to a post WW2 America, and that's exactly what they did.

Smedley "fighting Quaker" Butler also called it as he saw it in War is a Racket.

And they're still eagerly going about their business to this day, these war-mongering uber-cowards.

Hunting them down is a full time job for many in the intelligence community (such as there is one) as a part of its ongoing Countdown to Zero campaign.  This "world game" has lots of computer power at its disposal.

Reading Human Smoke is edifying.  Movies really do make a difference, judging from how the Nazis hated certain films and banned them.

WILPF has taken to honoring an obscure treaty that nations signed, the US included (Senate ratifying), that buried the hatchet after WW1.

That particular treaty has not been rescinded, just relegated to obscurity, but then the US, like many sovereign nations, has a habit of breaking treaties whenever it feels like it.

Veterans gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square to wave their banners and ring their bells.  Carol joined with her oxygen tank, representing WILPF (Barbara was there too, and some others).  I took some pictures.

Later, at the Quaker meetinghouse, some vets got together to watch a fellow vet on screen, plus he was there in person for the Q&A. Wray Harris, a private in the US Army, honorable discharge etc. is not afraid to speak his mind.

I was reminded of the patriots during the Vietnam War who refused orders and packed the jails.  Thinking for yourself is more courageous then letting others do it for you.  Muhammad Ali told the DoD where to put it.  I admire his courage.

Thanks to AFSC staff for logistics / equipment.  I was out of the building after intermission for awhile, as was Wray, each handling our respective business (he said more about that during the Q&A).

I hadn't known Simeon, one of our members, was acting headmaster at Phillips Academy in Andover.  I snapped some pictures of a biographical account during intermission.

Then I took off down the block, seeing the tow truck get loaded etc.   I left Joanne & Co. to close up, after using the office computer to post to the Math Forum.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Catching Up at Meeting

Denny of Shanghai and I compared notes on antebellum Quakers, meaning pre Civil War.  He's done a lot of research as well and inherits from the Abolitionist lineage.

Many meetinghouse Quakers back then were inquisitional against abolitionists (into disownment) and protective of the rights of the KKK types to own slaves.  "They had their spies everywhere" Denny said in disgust.  He'd done some reading in the archives, at Swarthmore I think it was.

Leslie Hickcox persuaded me to see The Seven Pyschopaths, given a prominent Quaker character. I'd earlier read a review on The Mercury that perked my interest.

Had a great time yesterday, in a man cave (Broadway Cigars) watching college football (Oregon doing great).  Transfer of some gigabytes of data (no, not a dead drop).

Lew and I realized the headphone option might be used to gain more silence and no one has to know.  Bring your own ear covering studio device and borrow one of the amplifiers.

For all they know, you've turned it on.

Carol was at meeting to attend the Peace and Social Concerns committee.  Jesse, the clerk, had announced at business meeting, that we'd be surveying the meeting to uncover its concerns.

I found out today that said survey had been "dumbed down" in advance to just be about homelessness as an issue (not what I'd understood from business meeting).

That's great, but as a household I feel we're already doing more than any other household in the meeting on that score, so I'm not personally that interested.

I do support the partnership with Human Solutions, however, and have Facebooked to that effect.  The focus on families with children is complementary to what we're doing at the Blue House.