Friday, April 26, 2013

Division Growth



The title is reminiscent of the "multiplication by division" meme, yet in this case also means a street close to my current position, parallel to my street.  Division Street.  Some are using the division sign, as a marketing device.  Each street develops an identity.  Hawthorne is flanked to the north by Belmont and to the south by Division, a tri-some.  In 97214, that's a coordinate system that makes sense.  My activities have density here, if we draw the zig-zaggy world line.  Also Rome.  New Jersey / Manhattan area.  WDC.

Glenn and I sampled a coffee shop that's been there awhile I think, but who knows how long.  We were amidst a lot of leveling and rebuilding.  I don't know about every city but Portland is in a boom town phase in some dimensions (not all, no, not all).  The patch of town at the bottom end of the cable car (the overhead tram) was one of the fastest growing zip code areas in North America there for a bit, in terms of the size and rate of its building, or so I heard, not able to cross-check.

Speaking of cross-check, Glenn was a source of information on the Knights Templar today.  His reading forays take him to this and that topic.  His claim was the Jolly Roger was officially a Knights maritime brand.  I find the Internet echoes that story all over.  I've always made an esoteric link from that symbol to the XO, which the XO site playfully deals with.

Portland gets perceived through the lens of Grimm, not just Portlandia, the former a lot less grim than the Miami-centered Dexter, the latter, skit based, being more directly spoofy.  Last night Blue House viewers went through a Season One episode featuring a pig like pork eater who lived in a geodesic dome that blew up.  Our Airstream hero guy (trailer HQS near the Fremont Bridge) can sniff out these fairy tale creatures, thanks to his own freakish paranormal abilities. I was curious whether Portland would be overtly outed as the backdrop for this fiction (vs. "anonymous Gotham"), as Miami serves Dexter and as Phoenix serves Breaking Bad.  Yes, that's the approach taken.

Speaking of Division, I enjoyed lunch with friends at New Thai Blues on Tuesday.  That was my last recorded use of the new Alaska Airlines Visa card.  As of last night, I had to cancel that sucker, for some reason not in my wallet.  A new one is on the way.  Monday was Food Not Bombs, a classic.



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Django Unchained (movie review)

If you come to Django directly from reading Bucky Fuller's Speculative Prehistory in Critical Path, then you can bet one meme comes through strongly and clearly:  the caste of people who get to mount horses and lord it over others, taking advantage of their human + nonhuman size, is a real factor in storytelling.

Tarantino really runs with it.

In Fuller's telling, the other caste of landlubber was the on-foot migratory type, the shepherd, the infantry guy trudging through the mud.  Whole peoples wandered, sometimes pastors with their flocks.

Then you had your sea-goers, more or less hard core.  These were archetypes (stereotypes), as what he wove for us was cosmo-graphical and somewhat unbelievable unless played backwards as encoded glimpses of the far future, when we have ways of tele-projecting our mer-people.

Tarantino has a lot of fun with this film.  His ideal audience has already gone through a strong comic book / manga phase, understands about fiction and science fiction.  The uber-violence is cartoon violence, developed from over-exaggerated caricatures engaged in tense contests of will.  The Wild West has long provided such a back drop for our morality plays.  Science fiction like Serenity takes this Old West as a template.

The movie is set just before the Civil War and the protagonists are almost time travelers from our day in their level of alienation from the slave-riddled South.  The German might be typecast forward as a post Civil War carpetbagger.

The parody of the KKK, making fun of those little eye holes (figuratively speaking) is part of the film's wry comedy.  Westerns tend to be uber-comical for their exaggerated lines, and their uber-violence.

One thinks one is getting deep inside the South's psyche with DiCaprio, but Candyland is deliberately hard to decipher.  The slave head of household is a behind the scenes father to the estate, as he takes a brandy in the back room and elders the gentleman farmer.  The slave sees through the ruse, is not blind like his master.

The German guy is not used to not getting his way and feels somewhat bullied.  His North-South altercation DiCaprio what leaves Django on his own, and the movie posing as a prequel, which is another Western cliche:  a hero is born, more movies to come, Unchained but the first about our bounty hunter's rampage through the West, the next batman.

If you want to enjoy this film but cannot stomach the violence, e.g. if you're Quaker, then I suggest watching Seven Psychopaths first as a warm-up exercise.  Get used to these excesses of the imagination, qua imagination.  No one is suggesting that real life is really like this.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wanderers 2013.4.9

Two of us around the table were Princeton alumni, and so knew of Blair Arch, Blair Hall, and maybe Blairstown, New Jersey.  John Insley Blair was to railroads in the industrializing east, near New York, what Sam Hill was to roadways in our area:  an entrepreneurial make-it-happen kind of guy.  He pretty much personified the railroad tycoon of the 1800s, friendly to Lincoln, likewise in the railroad biz.

Yet he's not a well known character based on the histories we read today.  Check any grand sweeping view of US history on the shelves today, and see if he's in the index.  Elliot Trommald, our historian story teller, pointed out that the New York Times had tried to objectively rank financial giants, in terms of their holdings adjusted for inflation, and by their measures Blair was certainly up there with JP Morgan, other heavyweights.

Given Elliot is an historian, he understands there's a lot of forensic science involved, police work, and piecing together puzzles.  What may account for Blair's relative obscurity, strangely enough, was his handwriting.  So much of it seems impenetrable.  He was self educated, self made, to a great degree, and kept all his own books.  He played it close to the vest.  This makes it difficult for those who come later to decipher all that went on.

Elliot has done a lot of work looking into this man and his family.  The Scribner family and company intersects with the Blairs through John's daughter.  Even with so much unreadable handwriting, there's much substantive history to be woven from this cloth.

Elliot has also studied Lincoln quite a bit and presented to Wanderers about him before.  As an illustration of the forensic challenges, he circled a certain quote about the dangers of corporations, oft repeated, including recently in a book by Al Gore, that really cannot be attributed to Lincoln. The paragraph has the lilt and cadence of a pseudo-Lincoln (Lincolnesque), and that fools people, some of them always (the gullible make so much history possible).

Many of our guests that evening wanted to discuss the concept of "corporate personhood", what that means and how it came to be that the money games were so obviously slanted to serve those puppeting corporate persons.  This seemed a murky area in that few of us present had much legal training in corporate law.  What's an "artificial person" versus a real one, and could "artificial people" tell lies to protect themselves?  What would Asimov say?


:: click for larger view ::

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Birthday Party (Spring 2013)


Sarah and Bob are dear friends from Wanderers circles, although Glenn and I first met them at Esozone.  Don met them at Terwilliger Plaza, where he was part of an inner circle caring for Doug Strain.

Glenn, Don and I, as an older posse of Wild West types (it seemed) joined Bob & Sarah, her sister Katie and partner Scott, Michelle and Jessie (the later of The Modern Golem, a Portland band) in a reserved room at one of Portland's best Japanese restaurants.  We enjoyed a fantastic time together.  Bob, like myself, is a Bucky Fuller fan and our memories drifted back to the D.W. Jacobs play in 2006, when I got to have breakfast with Allegra.  Bob had come to Esozone in 2008 to catch Trevor's talk on Bucky.

Yikes, first I started entering the special room in giant clod hopper shoes, such that I felt awkwardly like the monster in Young Frankenstein trying to play his role.  Then, upon removing my shoes (exposing big fuzzy white socks) I fumbled the camera, sending her crashing to the floor.

This was my third, count 'em 1, 2, 3, Nikon Coolpix S8200, the best camera ever for me.  Fortunately, a corner of the plastic housing took the brunt, cushioning the delicate internals as she hit the concrete. With an over-abundance of super-glue applied the next day, she is probably sufficiently repaired to last well into 2014 if not longer, InshaAllah.

The quality of the pictures appears undiminished.

I posted to dev@democracylab this morning, after breakfast with Steve Holden, emeritus PSF chairman, writing:

I have worked in the voting industry by the way, for Project Vote! aka
Americans for Civic Participation, based in DC at the time (I was support
staff for field people).  That was the Reagan-Mondale contest.  I learned a
lot about electioneering then.  Here in Portland I've been active with
DemocracyLab, which pioneers new forms of social media which might be
considered democracy-advancing.

Kirby, member of Python Software Foundation, to David Mertz, Elections
Administrator, Python Dictatorship

Context:  PSF members recently voted by secret ballot, David Mertz
administrating.  We had record participation via an eVoting mechanism.
However the ballot itself was changing up to the last minute and that
confused some voters as to what they were voting on, such that the members
private list is filled with debate about whether to re-run the election.  I
say "Python Dictatorship" because we use the title "Benevolent Dictator for
Life" (BDFL) with respect to Guido, the guy who got the ball rolling and
continues to guide Python-the-language as a work in progress.

The members list archives itself is private and that's OK. Most of the content would bore those not vested to some nitty gritty level in the future of this group.

Likewise some AFSC lists and meetings are by invitation or come with a role. In government, they use the word "classified" which is short for "restricted access".

Software provides micro-management over readability and writability, such as via the POSIX ownership infrastructure (chmod etc.). At higher levels, within CMS frameworks such as Plone, administrators have all sorts of ways to curtain off and refine views.

The whole idea of "need to know" is the basis for any great piracy (enterprise) as we learn in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (one of Bucky's).

Speaking of AFSC, the scoop there is I've been circulating some Linus Pauling House research into the roles Quakers played with regard to "Indians" (in the sense of native Americans). I'll share more of that in these blogs at a later time.