Friday, April 24, 2015

Quaker Communications

The bold faced quotes come from:

FRIENDS AND EMAIL: Guidelines, Concerns and Reflections, offered by the Committee on Ministry and Counsel of Claremont Friends Meeting, revised and approved in CFM Meeting for Business on 27 January 2013.

My thoughts are interspersed.  An earlier version of this posting was share via the npym-it-discuss listserv.


Email is a poor medium for corporate discernment.  Lines on a computer screen or down-loaded page cannot convey the full range of communication —facial expression, tone of voice, body language, etc.  Thus emails can easily be misunderstood.

The thing about written communications, of which emails form a subset, as well as books, pamphlets, scrolls, documents of all kinds, is they allow us to interact with people who may have recorded their views long ago and now don't get to have facial expressions or body language.  John Woolman,  George Fox...

Telephone communications privilege the still-living.  Organizations with strong staying power do not dismiss the elders / ancestors so easily i.e. we still read and attend to past writings.

Face-to-face meetings are even rarer and even more of a privilege.  I really appreciated our getting together in Tacoma on April 11, but then that cost huge amounts of time and fuel.  Any lean / efficient organization with a dispersed crew cannot rely on such expensive events occurring often.

My day job is the same way:  our crew is all over the country and we're lucky to see each other but once a year.  I'm at Earlham College at the moment thanks to my company paying my way to-from St. Louis for a conference, which we use as an excuse to also meet as a company.  I came out a week early and rented a car on my own dime so I could drive to Richmond IN to visit my daughter.

My day job involves having Skype open so we can have a scrolling chat window, plus we have voice meetings, like conference calls, every week.  I meet with my super by voice once a week as well.  I can do my work wherever there's WiFi.  We use email a lot, including to / from groups (named CCs).

The telephone is a 1900s invention that revolutionized everything and Friends now take conference calls for granted.  They may be less experienced using written communications, but journaling used to be a primary way for Friends to communicate across time and distance.

I recommend that Friends seriously encourage blogging as what we used to call journaling or keeping a journal.  These were kept with the idea that others would read them.  Friends stay accountable through journaling, a form of written communication.

What I don't appreciate about the one-sided Guidelines is the disadvantages are primarily a result of unskilled use (we don't get better but with practice) with the conclusion that skillful / sensitive conference calls should take priority where corporate discernment is concerned.  This assumes high level phone skills.  The guidelines stack the deck:  experienced phone users trump inexperienced writers.

No individual takes responsibility for this view.  It gets encoded as some Meeting's guidelines and before you know it, those attitudes and biases will have spread to other Meetings, unchallenged and anonymously promulgated.

If more of this debate were done by journaling (in the blogosphere) we would see more clearly who was behind what viewpoint.  Quakerism is not about hiding behind masks of anonymity.

Whenever possible, corporate discernment should be conducted face-to-face, or when that is not possible, by means of sensitively-managed telephone conference calls.

I completely disagree with this conclusion and think the authors of this document spend way too little time discussing how the shortcomings of email, such as misunderstanding the writer's meaning, or not being able to open attachments (phone calls don't have attachments), may be addressed.

If the meaning of someone's communication is unclear, ask for clarification. Get into a dialog.  Others may jump in.  The process is asynchronous and allows for reflection and consideration.  It's also more accountable. 

So in my view listservs are more ethical than conference calls on many levels. 

Those dismissing emails and listservs in favor of conference calls should not be given free rein to dictate these views as somehow already a fait accompli in our Faith & Practice.

Backgound:  M&O clerks in the NPYM region are preparing to have a conference call on this issue which may lead to strictures ("guidelines") that put a damper on listserv use, whereas I think Quakerism is happier with the written word than with ephemeral telephonic vibrations in the ether, not anticipated when Quakerism was forged.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

North Circuit

:: north circuit ::

Quaker business took me to Tacoma Friends Meeting, originally constructed as a church more than a meetinghouse.  Friends shared the building at first, then purchased it, and still share.  I'd never been here before.

About 25 of us met that April 11 from all over the region as what's called the Coordinating Committee for North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  Clerks of Outreach and Visitation, Peace and Social Concerns, Finance, and Information Technology (a committee I co-clerk) were among those present.  I sat next to Linda, NPYM Secretary, comparing notes on laser printers given her office needs a new one.

One highlight from that meeting, which I didn't include in my notes (filed on npym-it-discuss) was our brief discussion of David Chandler's work during the PSCC section of the meeting.  Rose Lewis is quite aware that the Multnomah Friends, like Humanists of Greater Portland, have been grappling with a concern of many Mormons as well:  the lack of credibility in the NIST report on what really happened on September 11, 2001. 

The NPYM PSCC is looking at ongoing Racism as a number one issue.  Multnomah's PSCC hosted David's presentation on April 12.

I continued on north that day though, visiting my Uncle Bill (actually my grandmother's sister's child, both my parents having ended up only children; Carol had a brother who lived until his teenage years then was killed in an accident).  I was missing much of the rest of the meeting, however Clint Weimeister, our web wrangler, was also representing IT Committee so my continued presence was not strictly required.

Bill was turning 90 that Monday and I was eager to see his new digs, which feature a comfortable reading chair.  Bill is pretty interested in history and has written a maritime history himself, of the submarine business in the Pacific Northwest even prior to World War One.  He had a history of the US Navy with a long passage about Quakers I photographed, their relevance having to do with ship-design skills.  Getting pacifists to buy into building warships required some twisted logic but such is in plentiful supply.

I joined Bill for supper downstairs from his apartment and might a gentleman in his 90s of Chinese heritage who had learned English from Canadian missionaries.  Given his accent was understandable to American English speakers, he'd been assigned as a translator for the US military in Burma during World War Two.

I pressed onward with my journey to a destination oft associated with Thanksgiving in these blogs.  I was driving "maxi taxi", Lindsey's escape pod from Savannah, signed over to me as part of our deal.  This 1997 Nissan Maxima is still going strong at well over 200K though sometimes the fuel mix is too lean and she conks.  She took me over the mountains to Terrabonne and thence to Big Bear Camp on the last long drive.  Lindsey herself is in Kathmandu Valley.

Les showed me a genre of Youtube I'd not yet tuned in:  Korean eating shows.  A single individual anchors the meal, chatting with the viewers while consuming large amounts of food in a single sitting.  He also had transferred his love of flying, as a former ultra-light pilot, into an eye-in-the-sky DJI Phantom Vision+ 2, a sophisticated device with on-board camera.  The family is looking at colleges, Ruth being a few years younger than Tara.

A highlight of the trip and a satisfying segue from watching Koreans eating, was our visit to a Korean BBQ in Lynnwood.  We cooked the meats right at the table, served with many side dishes.

The next day, I briefly toured the much expanded Angle of the Winds casino and hotel, where Les works in IT, on my way south back to Portland.  All in all, a productive experience.  Happy Birthday Bill.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lifting a Boycott

:: esoteric campaign ::

Related reading on math-teach.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Horns (movie review)

This was in a living room setting in a home with Netflix.  Horns came up under Science Fiction / Fantasy as the category, but I'd say it should be at least cross-indexed under Horror.

Indeed, it's a classic Horror film in that psycho-sexual complexes get stirred up in the viewer with lightning rod characters in need of punishment (a computation), such that maybe the experience of watching the film is both enlightening and cathartic.

That's the theory, and this one had four stars, but we agreed at most two were merited.

But then how "good" a movie is, or how "good" the acting is, are just a couple axes, perhaps encouraged by the Academy behind those awards.  One might learn plenty from films that aren't really good at all.  Indeed, if needing some quick and dirty anthropology, new to a culture, sampling its lowlife, bottom feeding, may be your best bet.

The hero grows a pair of horns and become daemonic.  He becomes a kind of superman like Ken Kesey.  People tell him things.  There's a triangle.

If I wanted to intellectualize about this film I'd talk about all the allusions to other films, in terms of plot lines and stories, whether those were intentional or not wouldn't matter.

I didn't get the sense it was really helping or healing that much, in that it seemed to assist in the spread of homophobia memes more than counter 'em.  See if you think so, if you have any appetite for Horror.  Remember, four stars on Netflix.  A fantasy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


:: extrapolates to tetrahedron ::

:: guest speaker ::

Numerology: note the 24 is 42 written backwards! 24 is also the volume of the 2-F cube in the Synergetics concentric hierarchy.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

May Day Planning

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Welcome to Wellville

I like the concept of Wellville, which rewards communities wherein healing and health are considered normative, and health improvements are assessed by objective criteria.  The concept is reminiscent of the BFI Challenge.

Joining Wellville mainly means signing a contract to be open with data, though not to the personal level.  Whether one's community actually gets well or not depends on making the necessary investments, which Hiccup helps catalyze.

The seed or pilot projects, were a result of an application process.  Acceptance does not result in either paying or being paid, only in agreeing to be a part of an experiment, which involves being open with data.

Participants learn they're not helpless to self organize and implement strategies (such as healthier school lunches) and measure progress themselves (lower diabetes).  Just because you're not one of the original five doesn't mean you can't learn from paying attention.

Sounds simple, but grass roots self organizing tends to sound simpler than it is.

Esther Dyson has an impressive resume, and although she's oft introduced, as tonight, by the CEO of Mentor Graphics, as the most influential woman on the computer scene, basically she's a very influential and respected Elder, all gender talk aside.

She's a stellar activist and is not afraid to apply considerable mental skills.

People rally around her based on track record and discover their own ability to manage wisely.  She has an ex Marine as a sidekick on her Wellville project and he was on stage as well, fielding questions both from Terry Bristol (ISEPP president) and members of the audience, including me and Steve.

Clatsop County, on the Oregon coast, was one of the five districts of under 100,000 chosen to showcase results.  People are excited, but that's maybe hard to measure.  Audience members asked about sustainability and follow-through.  Many such efforts dissipate, good intentions notwithstanding.

Whether health indicators improve in the next five years is the critical question and the project is in an early phase, though beyond just starting.  Their leveraging existing communities and networks, not starting from scratch, is one of the factors in favor of success.

I'd been talking earlier today about the brain drain from the USG to the private sector, as if maybe I thought that was bad, but lets not forget the NGOs, which typically do what governments might have done but need nonprofits to really do for them.

In synergy with government, NGOs and their "nonprofit corporations" go a long way towards taking the edge off capitalism and making it seem possibly socially responsible.

Where corporations meet community wellness is where the rubber meets the road and Esther is certainly smart enough to see that.

I was proud of ISEPP this evening as it was living up to its Public Policy moniker, giving the microphone to stakeholders to ask probing questions about pilot projects.  We did a good job asking serious and challenging questions (me included) with some making statements.

I could tell that Wellville was getting a boost.  Portland was turning its wheels, and not without getting some work done.

I only half expected to wedge in for the dinner, as an expendable director in the process of bowing out.  I make the dinners more well attended if sparse but tonight our sponsors and funders were enthusiastic for more schmoozing time and I gracefully took my leave, swinging through Rogue Hall on my way back to the car, having had drinks with Steve Holden at Melting Pot both after and before.

The question is how to make public health -- not just expensive intervention (e.g. bypass surgery) against a background that takes ill health (poor eating habits, lack of exercise) for granted --  profitable to major players, such as providers of factory-made food stuffs.

Steve asked if poverty or inequality wasn't by definition the metric (good question) whereas I was more focused on whether organized religion would get between young people and wise advice on lifestyle planning.

How does one teach "the middle way" i.e. avoiding excesses, while not becoming some kind of abstinence zealot (another form of addiction)?

It's not like we don't think these questions are unanswerable.

I'm glad people are serious about even taking a look.

Clatsop County has a shot at better health and that's worth shooting for.  I wish them my best and offer my congratulations on being accepted into Wellville to begin with.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Some Science Fiction

The Dog Planet

Per science fiction, or mythology as we used to call it, somewhere near Sirius, on the Dog Planet, the dogs live as long as we do. 

But because of relativity, and black holes, the dogs we get as projections, echoes, on Planet Earth, don't live nearly as long as we do. 

And yet when they get older, faster than we, they may also get wiser, so we have much to learn from them, thanks to relativity, and science fiction.

One maybe doesn't teach an old dogs new tricks, but they learn them, from whom it's hard to say.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Insurgent (movie review)

If we have schools in the desert, remote villages, with time to watch films, we'll do Divergent and Insurgent as they're meant to be seen:  back to back, not a year apart.  Readers of Charles Dickens had to put up with getting his stories in magazine serial format, whereas nowadays one plows through a whole novel, no commercials, or did, when people still had time for reading.  In those high desert schools of Oregon or Arizona or New Mexico or Old Mexico, we might even have time for reading again.

What I wanted to remark on was Chicago's decay.  Leaving aside what is real and what is Memorex (old commercial), I was noticing all the partially imploded buildings and imagining some kind of violence, instead of benign neglect.   But now I realize they were just getting old.

When old buildings crumble, what does one do if the civilization no longer as new plans for the same real estate?  True story:  I'd been to a ReThink911 talk at Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP) that same morning and was already thinking about the life cycle of buildings.

Clearly the old gray towers of the original New York were built for some forever in which buildings never needed to come down.  The Empire State Building, for example.  People were not thinking in terms of its eventual retirement by solving the puzzle of how to keep it safe.  People leave these problems to future generations without really thinking that much about it.

But then people don't plan for the seas to rise or the poles to melt either, at least the north one to such an extent.

That thing about humans being fairly good adapting:  we're not done doing that, and may need to be better than fairly good.

Anyway, I won't psychoanalyze the whole movie or boil it all down for ya.  Just I appreciate that treatment of Chicago, more shocking even than JoBerg's treatment in Chappie, in part because further in the future, yet in a world wherein AI never really took off.

So many fictional realities to explore even if, as it is, we have just this Universe.

Friday, March 20, 2015

if Universe == "__main__":

My title is Python jargon, where usually we'd put __name__ in place of Universe, meaning the name of "this module", which, when running top level, not imported, gets the string literal value of "__main__" for its value.  The Python interpreter tags a single module as "it", per process. with other modules brought aboard as additional cast members.

Bucky Fuller's Synergetics is designed with one Universe to call one's own, as in one's namespace or "world" as Viennese philosophers were prone to call it, around Wittgenstein's day.  Universe comes with chatter, commentary, verbal discourse.  Don't just picture the Grand Canyon in silence, sans narrator.  Universe oft contains someone with an opinion as well as a point of view.

"Partially overlapping Scenario Universe" was / is one of the stock phrases in that magnum opus, wherein we're represented as inter-subjective dharma tubes, rubbing up against one another, twisting past and/or sometimes convergent in various ways.  There's a difference between "coasting along with" (fellow traveler) and "falling in with" as perhaps a partner in crime ("crunchy Grunchy").

"Non-unitarily conceptual" is another stock qualifier in Synergetics, in that there's no one frame that is this Universe as some singular object or private sky.

One has the "__main__" namespace, which you may import, say from within timeit(), as in "from __main__ import write_it" just before its called, plus one has any number of imported namespaces, not built-in and not even necessarily native.

You'll be bringing a lot of namespaces on board per the constructivist model, in an endeavor to "construct your own reality" (good luck with that).

The Python Standard Library uses business English, fairly global by the 1990s, however 3rd party modules need observe no such restrictions.  Name your objects in Chinese or Sanskrit if you prefer.

Is Synergetics a work in English then?

I'd say "yes and no" in that "yes, English is a big help when reading it" yet the usage patterns are alien enough to set up sometimes dialectical if not antithetical relationships vs-a-vs "normal" usage.

Fuller imparts his own spin within a vocabulary that's deliberately remote, such that his "quantum" and his "gravity" might be kept at arm's length rather than be allowed into the "__main__" stream (a Pythonic pun) in some university discourse.

For example, Fuller's "dimension" concept, and "4D" in particular are not going to seem all that familiar in contrast with the four mutual orthogonal axes of hypercross dogmatics or related flavors of sacred geometry.

Many ethnic groups, many subcultures, have made use of the same exact words, but in namespaces that need to be spelled out (qualified). We need to anchor our words in their respective namespaces (discourses) if we have any hope of maintaining a high level of reading comprehension.

That's why the namespaces concept is so useful:  we're able to compartmentalize and tease apart the various meanings others might confuse (sometimes willfully), thereby avoiding a descent into empty babel.