Monday, October 20, 2014

Remembering Occupy

Rear positioned, with police, we bring food tent supplies to Cascadia Pioneers statue.  Beach head established, full sized tent by evening.  Good relations with police got us off on the right foot.  Polarizations would happen later, in predictable ways.  Portland got some better bathrooms.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Speaking of Role Playing...

I have reason to use this clip in a somewhat academic context, in a footnote to some timeit() project where different versions have to race. The student is asked to cut a function's time by almost two thirds or more.

Rather than destroy the slower function, the two versions are raced, or maybe more than two. In my thinking, this image of a "snail race" occurs, and this movie clip, which makes it all come alive in CG.

I also appreciate this clip because of its resonance with real life situations of course. The film was obviously made with children in mind, and they know getting teased and/or teasing at recess.  They got teased for being "a crier" perhaps; and sure enough, one of the snails is immediately picked on by a bully.

There's no time to waste developing personalities however. The film itself does that at leisure, but our clip merely takes us to the races.  Barely more than a minute.  Yet a winner is found.  Given this is a cartoon, the laws of physics need not apply.

The premise of this movie his hilarious: a snail with aspirations to become a speed demon. The sheer idiocy of the premise, combined with expert follow-through, makes this a favorite of mine. I've already reviewed it.  Check it out.  Oops, sorry I'm slow... can't find it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Innovations in Role Playing

Besides experimenting with graph databases, Quakers in the 21st Century have options George Fox never did, such as to fully record Business Meetings on high bandwidth storage media for the Meeting Archives (picture a server farm, a rack space, if the meeting is big and old).

Traditionally, a recording clerk synthesizes a meeting's decisions into Minutes, and this practice should not be suspended.  Written minutes have a life of their own within a graph database.  However, if a remote Quaker wishes to (a) view and participate in real time and/or (b) record a response at a later time, an "after thought", why disallow this on principle?  Which of the Quaker SPICES testimonies says to only meet behind closed doors and never make any recordings?

The obvious answer is Business Meeting (a form of Meeting for Worship devoted to management and governance) contains confidential material sometimes and the "need to know" ethic predominates in Societies not given to idle gossip.  For this reason, real time access may indeed need to be limited to only invited / trusted remote parties.  Likewise, before a Business Meeting goes to the Meeting Archive, an editing step might be applied.  A skillful editor, like a skillful clerk, is not trying to change the sense of the meeting through censorship.  Editing is a way of sculpting and bringing out features, highlighting.  The Job Descriptions manual may need a new Role, though perhaps "recording clerk" already covers it.

Speaking of roles:  remember the Advices from past clerks of Peace and Social Concerns: to not let Nominating rule the roost when it comes to activist participation.  Practice first, get nominated (or not) later.  How are people supposed to know you and your concerns well enough to nominate you if all you do is play wallflower and hope you get noticed?  That's no way to run a railroad.  Wade in and get noticed.  Flamboyance may be preferable to sulking.  Think about it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Graphing Relationships


Those of you who've done most your bookkeeping or other record keeping with SQL, may have heard of NoSQL or "not only" SQL, but your mind flashes to something like Mongo or CouchDB, not to a graph database with a language like Cypher.  That's still forgivable as graph databases are still relatively new players in the record keeping ecosystem.

Neo4j depends on Java and gives you a web browser mashup that's a combination IDE / REPL and visualization portal.  For those of you not decoding:  IDE = interactive development environment; REPL = read / evaluate / print loop (interactive prompt); SQL = structured query language.  You'll see that above:  the $ is the interactive prompt and the box beneath, listing movie names, is what a MATCH query in the Cypher language came back with.

Getting some basic / primitive Python API might be a next step, or maybe not.  I should probably just work out in native Neo for a couple weeks and build up my Cypher skills.  The command language front end would be like:  "Make Ahmed clerk of Peace and Social Concerns for two years starting in 2014".  The Cypher would happen behind the scenes.  Something like WikiWords might come in handy, to keep the parsing part easy.  If you prefer to write Cypher directly, more power to you.

Then a clerk could query using syntax like:  "show all previous members of Peace and Social Concerns with the percent of regular meetings they attended".  This might be a Nominating clerk query.  One wants reliable attenders usually, though some people have pre-agreements that could also be encoded e.g. members who live in another city half the year, the case with Carol.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Reviews on Amazon

Quakernomics: An Ethical Capitalism (Anthem Other Canon Economics)

Quakernomics: An Ethical Capitalism (Anthem Other Canon Economics)
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Did Quakers practice "Total Capitalism"?, October 9, 2014

Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Very cool that the author focuses on The Iron Bridge as an entry point, a science fiction novel about a time traveler sent back from a future that's decided humans had industrialized too early, before their thinking had matured enough to handle it (witness the World Wars the followed). In this future, the planetary ecosystem is messed up beyond repair. Industrialization must be delayed. So she (the time traveler) is to sabotage the Iron Bridge, built by industrious Quakers who treated their workers fairly well. Hence the book's claim that Quakers not only practiced "total capitalism" (from foundry to factory to wholesale to retail) but did it in such away as to give "total socialism" a run for its money, i.e. they treated their workers relatively well. Quakers reach an apogee in power and influence around 1781 when the bridge opens. Given their socially unpopular positions in the US, anti Indian Wars and anti slavery, their Quaker utopia (Pennsylvania) is already on the wane, but that's another story. This book is more about the UK and the difference Quakers made there.

Divided Spheres: Geodesics and the Orderly Subdivision of the Sphere

Divided Spheres: Geodesics and the Orderly Subdivision of the Sphere
Price: $55.46

5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Rounded Primer, June 12, 2013

Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This handsome, beautifully illustrated primer is authored by a career geodesic dome engineer with a sense of the big picture, including the history. I found plenty of mathematical trail heads leading off in various directions, all worth exploring, with a core of spherical trigonometry.

Yes, my own writing is in the bibliography, which may color my opinion, but to me this just means Edward Popko (whom I have not met) was extremely thorough and really did his homework for this tome, including exploring a lot of obscure topics. Amy Edmondson's A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R Buckminster Fuller is likewise cited, helping weave together a story that is still unfolding today.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Elders in Action

This went by on the Chipy list today.  I've watched it before but this time had the sense to grab it for my blog:

Also today, in addition to chauffeuring a friend with a hip replacement around, I joined some women at the waterfront, East Side Esplanade at Salmon, for a quick photo shoot in honor of of the ongoing global Kites Not Drones campaign.

That's the abbreviated slogan. Drones have their legitimate uses, just not in the hands of vicious killers. It's a misappropriation of technology. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Ava Helen's old haunt, organized the Portland action.


I rounded out the day at a local temple (Newar Buddhist), on invitation from a friend. Classical Indian ragas sung by an older guy, accompanied by traditional instruments, who knew what he was doing. My ears took awhile to adjust but then that's part of the process. By the end, we were pretty much all on the same page.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pacific Northwest Social Forum

I'm in no position to write any comprehensive review of this event.  Good job Food Not Bombs on the lunch.  Carol (mom) was especially keen to go as she'd been to the Social Forum in Detroit and been on organizing committees for Forums before this one.

This year the plan was to fragment the global event among several cities, so that more people from diverse locales could maybe make it to one of them.

This was not the same church as where we have the ISEPP lectures.  First Unitarian is not First Congregational.  Both have ample facilities, with the Unitarians also having Eliot Center, the site of many a social event in Portland, including some Barcamps I've attended (that's a computer thing, not a camp for bartenders).

Ibrahim was the one panelist I could claim to know by name.  He came up to Carol and I later and introduced himself in a friendly way.  I reminded him he knows Lindsey (housemate), who would have dug this event; she's still in Nepal.

The Luchini family was in high gear with both parents leading breakout sessions.  However it's not like I was able to recognize many faces.  Portland is a small city, but not that small.  More it was the issues, causes and agendas that I recognized.

Using the term "capitalism" to encapsulate / name a broken operating system, buggy and disreputable, is part of the common core vocabulary, though I wouldn't call this an unexamined nomenclature.  During questions to the panelists, the door was left open to embrace aspects of the "current system" but given the heterogeneous makeup of the group, having a common vocabulary is an asset and after cost / benefit analysis it seems "capitalism" is indeed the common foe.

Somewhat ironically, I'd scheduled the middle of the day to photograph houses on the market for some people looking to move to Portland and so was out and about playing the language game of home ownership after lunch.  Then I settled down on the back deck with Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism? to read some of the anthologized writings therein.

English must be versatile and fertile enough to come up with other isms, for those wishing for neither social-ism nor capital-ism.  Those can't be the only two choices.  This book Quakernomics I've been reading suggests capitalism is not intrinsically oppressive, if placed at the service of alternative value systems.  Maybe.  Why call it "Quaker capitalism" instead of just "Quakerism"?

Why not just advertise an openness to a plethora of small scale experiments (no "winner take all" rules need apply), with some doubling as a basis for video programming, such that onlooker-viewers may judge for themselves what's an appealing lifestyle?  We already do that a lot already.  Let's do it a lot more.

We (humanity) can practice hundreds if not thousands of isms and individual humans need not see themselves as trapped by any one of them, anymore than bees are trapped by flowers (unless they're flowers of the insect-eating variety).

Engineering subcultures are not by definition the enemy so much as potential infrastructure providers, stage crews, for giving the various isms space to flourish and recruit.  Architecture is a branch of engineering in this vocabulary.

Aren't religious communities "socialist" in that the devotees of whatever flavor share assets / property?

But in that sense isn't an aircraft carrier shared property as well?  Who on board has title?

A captain of a ship is so often not its owner, nor are the admirals typically in owners of their fleets, or why would socialists have them?

Political terminology is full of holes.  Why stake one's life on such hole-ridden texts?

The capitalist in me says risking everything to defend "capitalism", one ism among many, is not a good business investment.  Isms come and go.  The 1800s need not dictate the terms of our debates going forward.

Monday, September 22, 2014

El Topo (movie review)

El Topo ("The Mole") incorporates many tropes from the Western, but also the martial arts film.  A story line wherein a wannabe confronts successively higher masters and fights them, perhaps to the death, is taken up by Bruce Lee, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar one of the masters he fights.

As someone well versed in the Buckminster Fuller legacy, I have to comment on Master Two's splendid collection of toothpick vector matrices, including a painstakingly constructed isotropic vector matrix of considerable size, which our anti-hero destroys.  Got me thinking about Russell Chu, a patient toothpick IVM builder.

The anti-hero goes on to confront his own son, now a grown man, as yet another master he must overcome.  If we take "killing" as a metaphor for simply "comprehending" then we might restore the gory foreground to the status of tantric dream (cartoon-verse or whatever).

The anti-hero is driven into the priesthood by a love triangle, getting "crucified" on a bridge in a scene aptly named Betrayal on the DVD.

Yoko and John Lennon appreciated this film and Jodorowsky's talent more generally.  He's both the director and a main actor in this comic book South American western.  I can see why.

Anyway, the son, the mole, is vastly understaffed and underfunded and his alchemy experiment proves a calamity and he experiences game over, probably doomed to replay this level at some level.  Reintegration of "the other" into "polite society" or whatever the towns people signify, is clearly a dicey game, explosive, and without careful management and supervision, was bound to go awry.

The DVD itself gets a lot of credits i.e. restoration of the original film to its DVD state, complete with an interview (engaging) with Jodorowsky, which leaves me wondering if the somewhat rough cut editing is an artifact of restoration.  I think more likely it's what I'd call the "comic book style" of this kind of movie making.  Things happen abruptly sometimes, just like in real life.

In trying to turn his rescued significant other into a shaman, like himself, she appears to bifurcate into two people (my reading) at first conflicted, but growing self-assured enough to stand on her own and engage in a separate journey.  On this reading, it's maybe a triangle, but Mara is simply more in touch with herself and doesn't need to piggy back on her man, riding him Lady Macbeth style at first (given what she'd been through, I can't say I blame her).

The anti-hero, in the meantime, has a lot of father-son issues to work through and so isn't really prepared for a girlfriend.  He needs to deal with not being in control for a change.  Part Two of the film (the film somewhat divides in two) traces the anti-hero's continued maturation, this time against the backdrop of the mole's alchemy project, which he undertook by popular demand in a spirit of public service, a politician of sorts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Slutwalk 2014

This crowd was on the cerebral side, regardless of dress.

The speeches were pitched to a high level and I overheard someone way a lot of St. Mary's students were in the crowd, a premier Catholic school not unlike St. Dominic Academy where I taught math and sundry subjects in the early 1980s.

The protestors were basically advocating for Second Life rules in First Life insofar as avatar presentation goes.  Dress or don't dress your avatar however you like:  nothing about your dress code implies consent and/or a willingness to provide favors, sexual or otherwise.

The Code of Conduct around Portland State University and other places is clear:  women, and men, can dress how they like within whatever boundaries the courts would uphold (e.g. going stark naked is still not accepted public "attire" except in designated areas), and no aspect of one's costume or dress should be considered "an invitation" as in "but she dressed like a slut, your honor".


Put in other terms, guys have no right to behave like dicks no matter how women dress or undress themselves.  "Consent mode" and "dress code" are two different concepts.  Don't confuse them.

Get it yet?

Some in the crowd were professional dancers who considered their performance art very far from an invitation to random others to assume anything about their willingness to have any specific type of relationship.  Portland has a lot of strip clubs.  These are supposed to enforce a professional code that keeps the dancers safe from non-consensual intimacy.

The main speech maker declaimed sorrow at even needing to hold such an event / protest as the rights being asserted should simply go without saying.  To have to fight for the right to never have non-consensual sex:  why again is that even up for debate?

Given the Code of Conduct is clear, I'm not for a moment saying it's necessarily a simple matter to resolve every dispute wherein an aggrieved party alleges non-consent after the fact.  Many a soap opera has featured a betrayal wherein an innocent party becomes the target of a criminal accusation, for whatever motive (revenge, blackmail etc.), or wherein a perpetrator protests innocence by alleging such a motive on the part of the aggrieved.

Soap operas sometimes make matters easy for the audience as there's often a "fly on the wall" point of view (the camera) giving the inside story.  Usually a jury of one's peers, or the court of public opinion, as the case may be, will not have the luxury of such a viewpoint.

That's where the police and detective shows come in, along with the lawyer shows.  Our TV channels are awash in such stuff.  At St. Dominic Academy, they almost all watched General Hospital.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sounding Some Themes

I told the story of CareWheels, as I knew it, to 791 Techologies in Canada.  That was Ron Braithwaite's project.  I hung out with 791 people at DjangoCon a lot, as they were among the top sponsors.

I'm settling in to this routine where I meet at Red Square wearing my AFSC Liaison hat and swap papers around with the Multnomah Meeting Communications Clerk.  Sounds very toontown doesn't it, like out of some Hollywood movie.  Red Square is just a coffee shop and the Portland AFSC is moving closer to Stark Street, so it's convenient for me 'n Rick, both Friends, to chat over coffee sometimes.

Holden is in Sebastopol I'm pretty sure, with Carol on her way from LAX right now.  Melody got a voicemail from the away team near Kathmandu, still heading for the Rotary-sponsored women's clinic so far as we know.  Glad to meet up with Jen and Yarrow again, and to finally meet Melody's dad.  Uncle Bill is training over from Seattle.

Wanderers will likely celebrate the Solstice on the 19th, which for me will likely start at Colonel Summers where I'm still active with the SE FNB chapter (that's Food Not Bombs, lots in these blogs about the local group, with some links to global resources).  FNB was hosted by the Quaker meetinghouse on Stark Street for about a year, when Blue House was also providing more logistical support.  We were more of a hub back then.  Our main supplier moved and Lindsey found more time to work on music after that.

OK, enough with the random notes, gives the flavor.  Sounding some earlier themes, keeping my storylines going.  CareWheels.  Some good thinking went into that project.

I've also been hyping Fibonacci Numbers on math-teach.  So what else is new?