Sunday, April 06, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (movie review)

Ever since Lego World, I've been mentally inserting the outtakes of the child in whose fevered imagination we're having this fantasy.   Cut to Tommy in his Captain America pajamas, jumping on his bed, cogitating on the themes of our day.

Transliterating to a more boring set of newspapers and mags, Tommy is worried the CIA and its drone program might just be a lot of Nazi stuff percolating through DC by osmosis or, in the myth, taking form under the Potomac in the form of Nazi aircraft carrier flying submarines.  These must be stopped or Robert Redford's diabolical realization of Totalitarian America (safety in fewer numbers, with culling by algorithm) will come true.

Newcomers to Marvel Comics, now Studios, may find such worldly questioning to be precociously bold to the point of subversive, but us geezers who've lived with comics forever know these superheroes typically ruminate on ethics, duty, loyalties, in ways that may go against authoritarian views.  Captain America's moral qualms are entirely faithful to the genre in other words.

I enjoy Natasha the most in these Avenger movies, but she didn't seem as slippery and psychological in this one, more just a martial arts doll, though clearly friendly to Captain America, whom we can't help but like, plus to her credit she did get passed security using deception.

I'm not a huge comics reader, compared to some, and am not highly versed in the time capsule nature of the Captain America trajectory.  I do see how it serves the plot though:  a 1950s innocence, a clear head about right and wrong, suddenly transported to Orwellian America (our day).

So yeah, I was kind of lost some of the time, as in bright lights flashing, she got away, good, but what just happened really?  I have no idea.  I was way up in the back of a packed Bagdad.  They're pouring in in response to the first run titles and McMenamins is raking it in.  They're deserving, as I always thought Disney was, but I do not begrudge competition nor inward dissent.  I hope we get back to the OMSI Science Pubs and such like -- just make 'em "first run" in another sense (subversive distro networks), take advantage of that equipment, pack 'em in.

Redford has been in the CIA before and knows the Cold War.  He's in the Cult of Milk (see below) you can see clearly, like Tom Cruise no doubt.  These are the studly males who get up in the middle of the night for a late slurp straight from the carton.  Cold lactose, yum.  Been there done that. Like all CIA directors he has a big Buddha head or something tastefully oriental, proving he's a brain of some kind, however diabolical and Nazified.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Got the Facts on Milk? (movie review)

This is an interesting talking head documentary and road trip across North America, taking a look at the many cultures and the power of lobbying and advertising.

This DVD, along with SuperSize Me, is already a popular homework assignment in some high school classrooms, flipped and otherwise.

Americans enjoy finding out how they have been manipulated with clever misinformation.  The power of advertising excites the neuro-scientist within.

The USDA comes off as pathetic, as one would expect.  As the authorized "pusher" it crams dairy  products down unwitting throats, basically child abuse on a vast scale.  These children grow up reciting the same ridiculous mantras from their junkyards of mental wreckage, their true American heritage denied them.

Washington DC is more interested in killing and/or imprisoning Americans for profit than providing them with a good nutritional support system, but that's not news.  Its policies have been similarly cruel overseas.

I do enjoy dairy products and tolerate lactose well.  However I treat cheese and chocolate as luxuries, not because I can't in principle have unlimited amounts but because luxuries are only such if enjoyed in strictly limited amounts.  One can't be luxury class and swill one's luxuries, an oxymoron.

I've been reducing my milk intake.  I'm brand loyal to Tillamook and Alpenrose.

I've eaten my share of such products and do not wallow with self pity in denying myself as much future access.  I'm actually rediscovering my power to enjoy food in my imagination again, as when reading books containing food scenes.

Food may be interesting and rewarding in different ways than just through the sugar family (thinking about ice cream, candy and breakfast cereal).  Chemistry and food prep (including cooking, but also raw foods) go together.

For those looking for ways to lose weight, I recommend studying nutritional science and really taking an interest in the biochemistry.

Make weight loss your door to the whole of the life sciences and really take an interest in upgrading your sources of information.

Turning away from junk memes in supermarket checkout lanes, in favor of better sources for science, expands your focus from a personal obsession to a concomitant and related societal phenomenon (obesity, a form of malnutrition) which is actually the level where effective anti-bodies are needed.

Food Not Bombs has been a great influence in my case, expanding my horizons regarding foods, and Wanderers, which percolates with the biochemical interests of our hero Linus Pauling.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

TriMet Gets Cheap

Shame on those who made these new benches legal.  What a travesty.  Compare the older benches, ergonomic, designed with the bus-riding public in mind:


Just around the corner, what some thoughtless bureaucrat in a cube thought was a good idea:  vertical sign backed benches with chintzy advertizing caring for your spine (not!):


Remember, whoever advertises on these new benches is low life.  Don't buy their products.  Send them an email explaining why.

Anything TriMet advertises:  consider boycotting.  Don't encourage sell-out bureaucrats who hate the public.  TriMet, please replace these horrible benches soon.  We are viciously opposed to them and will fight you every step of the way, count on it.

The loathsome benches are already starting to fall apart.  Tri-Met sure is the big loser on this deal.  The boycott (of any advertiser who supports this insult to Portland riders) is continuing to gather steam.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pop is Still Groovy

One could read that on a number of levels...  Anyway, I rest my case:




I'd actually take it back to the movie Samsara (saw it with Melody) which is about the machine-like powers of humans, to be precise (with a little help from their auto-tuners). I'm happy to have found Lindsey-the-violinist through this group.

Great mugging by the way, such pros.

"Television... rules the nation" and it's the music that gets you feeling free.  Yep.  Back to EBN.

Hey, add this to the Blue House party mix!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Other Worldy Toons



If you watch this short toon by Andreas Hykade et al, I recommend clicking through to Youtube and getting it high def on a big screen, as I did, if at all possible.

If you recall Disney's Fantasia, this is every bit as visually and musically interesting as one of those, but a tad more demented, in a way that recalls a cartooning style that Disney defines itself against, as cuter, less demented.

You can see links to Cubism, Picasso, and of course Dali and surrealism, in this genre, as well as in this very toon.  So iconograpic.  So language.  So Wittgenstein therefore (these are "words with use" too, these signifying "heads", so familiar).

In calling it the Videogrammatron a long time ago, when still with McGraw-Hill, my proto Youtube-like database for STEM.math-teaching via TV's CTW, I was dreaming of clips like this one, off the wall yet compelling, engaging.

They're other-worldy in a way, as in "Other World": not merely imaginative an the "idle fantasy" sense.  Like The Lego Movie, they partake of the daimonic as Patrick Harpur uses the term.

These blogs go in layers and if you dig back you'll find the Portland Knowledge Lab (PKL) working to keep Portland weird by underlining its underground comic identity as ToonTown, could be one of many.  We love our manga and anime.

I realize now the Cabalistic Tetragrammaton was influential at least in providing the word (Videogrammatron -- with tron more from Tron and elecTronics); but also in the sense of "combinations and permutations" ala Sesame Street, with each episode a mix of old and new material, lots of repetition.

This is also a Hypertoon a sorts, an idea also defined in these web pages.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

AFSC Governance

I'm blogging from the back row of the meeting hall, having been in a breakout session with the general secretary and other board and corporation members.  I learned from Shan that we had not actually fallen below quorum in these annual meetings.  That was a fear, not a reality.

Upon returning to the main worship room, I took the microphone to mention my experience earlier this year, of wanting to share a draft regional strategic plan to which I was privy as an Area Program Committee person, with other corporation members from North Pacific Yearly Meeting.  Although the co-clerk of the regional Executive Committee approved such sharing, the Regional Director overruled that decision, saying this draft was eyes-only to AFSC staff and Area Program Committee.  This seemed to me a breakdown of the feedback loop.

AFSC has made a come back since a financial meltdown in 2009.  We're much healthier, financially, today, in 2014.  About 20% of the budget is spent on administration.  Annual income hovers at around $30 million with $39% from planned gifts, 42% from charitable donations, 6% from endowment, 10% from grants.  Reserves (separate from the endowment, which is valued at almost $40 million) are up to almost $28 million, after going negative in 2011.  Reserves as a percent of budget are still not up to 1990s levels.

AFSC spends non-admin funds on staffed programs, internships and fellowships, and various strategic initiatives.

The idea of streamlining the corporation of to allow at most two, rather than at least two, Yearly-Meeting-appointed representatives, is still under discussion but with no plan for action this year.  I had expected that would be our main business, so was naturally surprised by the deferral.  I won't be here next year I don't think, as my term ends this year.

Carol, my mom, is also here.  She's an "at large" corporation member.  We've enjoyed having meals together and walking to and from the hotel.  She's on the sixth floor, me on the twelfth.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The Armstrong Lie (movie review)

I watched this while "queue slaying" which is slang for "my job", which happens to be linked to another timezone, with 10 pm a witching hour i.e. I was trying to meet a deadline -- not unlike Lance Armstrong, how's that for a segue?

Yes, he lied.  When you're behind the false facades in a Wild West town, with so many brave fronts on main street propped up by slats, with willing true believers (fans) thronging in the streets, who would be first to let them down?  Organized religion comes to mind.  He'd become a cult leader and frankly, that's not the easiest role, whether you're a class act or the neediest of televangelists.

He wanted to rescue a sport and replace it with a fairy tale, while knowing, back room, it was all based on biomedical engineering, euphemistic for "drugs".  So much around "drugs" is really just "adults" not able to face reality.  We actually need those opiates etc.  What's with burning another's perfectly good poppy fields, if not seeking more control for oneself, a competing drug lord.  The hypocritical preachy self-righteousness around "doping" is awfully thick.

SH dropped in for the last 30 minutes or so and I poured us some drinks (greyhounds to be precise).  With athletes uploading ever more bioticker statistics, direct from sensors to cloud, I could see where a cycling cult would open itself to crazy doctors, a few on to something, a human guinea pig bonanza, like Tour de France has been for a long time, Lance not the scapegoat (in my book).  Follow on the web, study the biochemistry.

Doug Strain did experiments like that as a CO (conscientious objector to solution-by-mayhem):  he and his buddies lived in a freezing cold box many hours a day testing different diets, gathering data to help budget wars i.e. feeding soldiers in the field.  Doug was proud that they'd found cutting corners made for a less fit army, which could lead to losing the war.  Nutrition is not where to arbitrarily cut back.  Do so at your peril.

Under the soap opera and melodrama, with many reputations lost, is the physical feat of going from being a serious cancer case to winning one of the toughest races, with medical help.  The lies are all on top of that, but I still admire the stamina and courage involved.  Behind the curtain, he's still a mortal, not superman.

Since the analogy was made:  to bank robbers returning to rob the same bank again, just to show that they could, and thumb their noses:  I'd admire such people at some level, even if they got caught, at least if it were a movie and no animals were harmed in its making.  Nor did Lance have that much choice.  He was uber-curious about his limits, as a legend in his own time.  He's a scientist, perhaps a mad one.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Design Science (again)

So what was design science again?  My school of thought puts a premium on artifacts as the precursors of social change, recognizing the feedback loop i.e. necessity as a mother of invention (but perhaps not the only parent).

We have a rooted middle class apartment or home based lifestyle, a more mobile on the road style, or styles, depending on the media of conveyance.  The trucker sleeps at rest stops some nights, or at a motel depending on size of parking lot accommodations.  A Best Western right off the freeway...

Then we have outright camping, which borders on abject poverty on the one hand, and recreational hobby on the other.  In between, there's living in your RV, a motorized lifestyle the North Americans enjoy, but has some appeal to gypsies and traveling circuses, as a technology.  The hippie school bus was a local variant.

Design science is about lowering the barriers to entry, for those idealistic groups that aren't just escapist cults, though maybe some are.  To publish a catalog of livingry solutions is not to pass judgement on every lifestyle experiment people come up with.  The "army surplus" store takes the same angle:  the gear here could save your life or fail to, if not used wisely or pushed beyond its means.  Is that sleeping bag really warm enough for what you have in mind?  Too heavy?

Fuller especially was concerned about weight.  He wanted portability and easy deliverability, a solution you could trust and forget about in most circumstances.  That thing about "but how would we survive in this wilderness a 100 miles from any supplies" starts to have an answer.  He imagined helicopters doing a lot, but that's really just one option.  You'll need some power, some 3D printers, bandwidth, LCDs...  the global average "university dorm" is none too shabby.  Aerospace tech.  But not unaffordable as in "only for the super rich".

In other words, how might one facilitate peoples producing those experimental communities they always dream about.  Get the paperwork done ahead of time, let local communities screen applications, if locals pertain.  We could be attempting a true wilderness community, for science in some way.  The beauty of lightweight and portable is you have the capability to leave no trace, once the experiments have run their course.

One of the more dreamed-about models was the Fly's Eye Dome, I think because of its tri-pod foundation, that of a landed spaceship.  They idea would be these things could be lowered and/or assembled just about anywhere and not require extensive pouring of concrete.  That was my fantasy at any rate.  I feasible these things would be in practice we may not learn in my time slice / generation.  Some of this research into livingry options is currently on hold, as we continue to contemplate our weapons of mass suicide.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Double Slit Experiment

The double slit experiment is always animated in depressingly the same way.  Let me offer another viewpoint, not in contradiction with any experiments.

Have the screen at the back where the light "hits" be a landscape you're in, which suggests, because of gravity, that your beams are shooting "down" (already a change!).  You're in a position to walk around.

You're like a microscopic bug, or no, wait, human sized is fine, but over your head is this vast firmament, a ceiling, a light blocker, with only one or two slits opening for light.

When one slit opens in the Great Vault, your prison under it illuminates with a dull light from the great brightness beyond, a "cone" (slit-sourced) of brightness, a single shaft.

We could go on and on about when you might or might not know about the world outside -- not relevant.

When two slits open in the Great Vault, you get a "bar pattern" of light and dark on the floor.  You can stand in a shadow.  Looking up, the slits appear darkened.  Shift over, and they're double bright.  As you move, you see waxing and waning in brightness from the slits.

Your eyes are the sensors on the plate, in other words, and the bands of light and shadow have a "first person" aspect.  You might say:  "the bar between the slits casts many shadows as the light is bent around it at various angles" -- your wave theory is kicking in, as waves are bent by slits in just this way.

This might be called First Person Physics in the sense that you paint your self in as a sensing observer and imagine (animate, simulate) yourself in various places, experiencing the phenomena.

Being aware of an observer is nothing new in physics.  One remembers the observer must be likewise accounted for as an energy sink or perhaps source, in any observed scenario.

Enough pretending the cameraman was never there.  To have any information at all about a situation is to feed off it in some way, an energy transaction in the conservation equations.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why Wanderers?

Why do we name our little chat club at the Pauling House "Wanderers"? 

We cite this quote:

“Science would be ruined if it were to withdraw entirely into narrowly defined specialties.  The rare scholars who are wanderers-by-choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines.”   -- Benoit Mandelbrot