Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hamlet 2 (movie review)

click for larger view?
I came to Fox Tower with my own fantasy of working under cover in some Eastern European capital, posing as some fat cat in training for some "old guy Olympics," my hot personal trainer and I getting in on faux credentials or whatever, meanwhile gathering intelligence for HQS back home.

Hamlet 2 took me out of my world and dropped me in some Arizona high school snackatorium, with lots of trauma and drama, including an ACLU princess, hammy actors, and a great drill sergeant type principal, the kind who threatens you with a pickup truck if you get obscene like he does, but in the wrong way.

New York City signs its name on the end, reminding us that big city culture is still pretty powerful, even out here in the Wild West (not called Empire State for no reason). The principal forgave his father, so powerful was the final performance (involving a time machine, shades of Idiocracy).

I noticed the salutes to Dead Poets Society (logical as a double feature) and Robin Williams in particular.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lookin' Good

Homecoming 2 of 5
I missed my International School reunion in Manila this year, have yet to see the new campus in person, looks magnificent.

The above 2nd segment of a 5-part video briefly looks at my era of attendance (1970s).

I recommend the first segment especially for its contrast between newer and older -- lots of history.

Homecoming 1 of 5

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wanderers 2008.8.27

All but two of us have laptops this morning, eight around the table. This was my first group check-in since starting a Wanderers PbWiki, leading me to make some administrative changes.

I hadn't realized my Writers were all being notified of one another's changes, the default, leading to lots of new emails. That's a setting each Writer has some control over, but only after logging in with a unique password.

We talked quite a bit about experiments with lasers, both for transmitting power and for cooling, with Jim Buxton reading aloud from some technical article. The topic of buffalo herds also figured prominently, their effects on topography, also migrating tarantulas, Glenn corroborating some of Ron Baithwaite's scary campfire tales.

We also continued our discussion of my Ouija board model vs. simple minded conspiracy theories, with Jon having us imagine a giant planchette governed by huge numbers of people.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Affordable Utopias

What's always too expensive is trying to get everyone on the same page as to what a Utopia is, like my bias is to not like the word itself ("utopia" sounds too infantile, too namby-pamby, having been disparaged for so long, though in opposition to "oblivion" acquired some new kick).

Plus Nature herself fights mono-culture i.e. we taunt ourselves with images of a zombie-like Borg with good reason, as "mindless robot" is a synonym for "maladapted" (we didn't get to be here this long by being that stupid).

"Getting everyone to agree" is neither a prerequisite, nor even a desirable feature, when planning Utopian resort ranches, call centers, training centers, tribal casinos or whatever.

So what I was explaining over a Guinness on Hawthorne yesterday, to a good friend and neighbor, was how I wanted to at least make the "props" be affordable, like some universal studios for wannabe "my way or the highway" types, who'd find one another on the Internet, say, and then pool resources to do some trial and error.

My goal: low barrier to entry. I'd also want to keep a tight focus on recycling, i.e. a Fly's Eye Dome disassembles into Y-shaped parts (Ed Applewhite's favorite picture in Bucky Works he told me) some to be reused maybe.

Props engineers needn't be super judgmental as to what lifestyles get tried with their wares, just as the brand on some camera doesn't rub off on the pictures taken with it, or vice versa, except in terms of picture quality (which matters).

Of course engineers have their own lives, their own families to take care of, must exercise personal discretion in that regard. But your generic catalog inventory, from Ikea or whatever, needn't come with a long list of moralizing "thou shalt nots" except of course from a safety point of view i.e. the consequences of getting it wrong may be low performance, or even disastrous failure.

Instructions with warnings or advisories of this type are not "fascist" just realistic. "Tend to your bridges or they could fail", "if you don't anchor your tent it could blow away in the wind" -- that kind of thing. Lots of holy writ has this flavor and with reason: experienced humans wanted to assist others from repeating their mistakes. That's a respectable motive for recording one's enjoinders, even when the intended audience has long moved on to other lifestyles.

Those with a "good eye" for community will create successful, sustainable communities, complete with permaculture, fun cartoons (like Suzan Pitt's are pretty wild), and solutions to the perennial challenges, as have many successful civilizations of the past.

Some will sell chocolate, others DVDs, some will tap into a power grid, others will be off-grid autonomous. Some will mix only some genders, some will disallow dolphins & whales (yes, that sounds dystopian, but maybe it's more a logistics issue, and besides, I don't have to live there, have choices about where I go).

And let's be clear up front: when a community disbands or disperses, that may well be by design and intention, i.e. seeing those helicopters come by and lift stuff away like that doesn't mean there were personality tensions, management problems or anything like that.

Or it may. Depends on the scenario. Not always my business to know. Yours either.

Somewhere in the literature, Bucky talked about wanting his domes to set a neutral pitch, like a holodeck (a Star Trek thing) before the show starts. It's not the job of the artifacts to dictate what goes on in them, only to clear a space in which lifestyles might unfold, making raw environmental factors less of a drag (like it's hard to perform Hamlet 2 in a blizzard I'd hazard).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Crazy Horse Play

Machine World meets Narnia?

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Summer Project

Our special thanks to Elizabeth Braithwaite

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weird Stories

[ internal memo to Wanderers, republished to blog (we're thinking of doing a Wiki) ]

I got to Wanderers late this morning, just in time to advise Barbara about an inexpensive yet good quality wifi-equipped laptop she might need in Panama, where she's headed this evening until December, wishing her a safe and fun journey.

We didn't talk too much about the Wiki idea, more about DrFrankenstein (not TheMonster). GlobalWarming could be another WikiName -- anyway you get my drift, and there's a thing you can do with square brackets [ ] -- like more punctuation -- if you want to avoid the CamelCase look.

Then I dashed downtown for this meeting at the Armory, a way cool theater these days, which went down to get room, up being out of the question in an historic landmark, although they did add a new roof (had to). Ed Schlossberg an inspiration at some level (not sure which). Check my Flickr Photostream for some pictures.

I rejoined Wanderers in their lunch setting, just as money was being collected. The idea of a "one man Bucky play" got people thinking of this manikin near Mt. St. Helens with a projected face. David suggested getting around "actor guild" restrictions (why Johnny Stallings can't play) by having his voice come from inhumanly scaled sources (too big or too small to be pigeon-holed as "actors"). We also brainstormed about finding people who genuinely believed they were Bucky, or were at least channeling (hence "not acting, so not an actor"). Such union busters we are (Fuller himself was a card carrying member of the machinists' union).

Then it was on to [ another meeting ] where I perused A compendium of certain engineering principles pertainent to Brazil's control of impending acceleration in its industrialization by R. Buckminster Fuller, Chief, Mechanical Engineer Section, Industrial Engineering Division, August 13, 1943 (so this was an anniversary of sorts).

This document is a lot about interviews with American engineers who'd been helping the Russians around the first three 5-year planning cycles, the Russians still considered a friendly ally in this picture. In the footnotes, Fuller notes how Brits and Germans tended to get political, Russians encouraging them to join in the fun, with Germans more into proselytizing for their National Socialism ideology, whereas the American engineers tended to be gruffly dismissive of politics, almost angrily apolitical, which you might think (paraphrasing Bucky) would lead to their dismissal, so disrespectful it seemed, but the Russians actually liked these stubborn china shop bulls, even agreeing to secret service protection in one case, to help reduce friction.

Also looking at Gargle & Snarky, Bil Baird's puppet troupe on Westinghouse Broadcasting, teaching Adventures in Number + Space post Sputnik (New York Times Mar 6 1958, pg. 28). [ Bucky apparently contributed a puppet to this effort -- ed ].

Home to watch Katie and Lara explain about Georgia and the Russians, including a chat with the Georgian president even, Condi also on the record.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A New Kind of Charter

There's a vague allusion to "a new kind of science" here, plus a little irony, as in my view "all public schools are charter schools" the difference being only the kind of charter or state mandate, which of course has a lot to do with when a given school was launched, and how much cruft has since accumulated.

This new drawing board design is for a new type of public school that specializes in hosting exchange students from other parts of the country and world, meaning there's a host family piece, and also a transfer of credits piece.

Under the old system in Portland, a host family inside the Franklin district cannot host an exchange student going to Grant or Cleveland, plus the schools take very few from out of district to begin with, plus they have no obligation to offer credentials, even to an incoming senior putting in a year's worth, however worthy the work. So many wasted opportunities.

The new charters will have that international school flavor already familiar to expats, and probably a cozy relationship with various State Department bureaus, as this will be a natural recruiting ground for future diplomats, once the appropriate sponsorships (aka scholarships) have been lined up (case by case).

The goal is to serve a large number of locally based students (probably at least 50% of the students will be from Portland) plus there's the assumption of many similar academies around the globe, meaning these same PDX-based students will have easier access to opportunities in remote places, likewise in an exchange student capacity.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Odds & Ends

Plans for an upcoming gathering of Willamette Quarterly Friends are coming together, with a lively lineup of talk show hosts. We might get more history of Beanites worked in, depending on interest level.

I'd told the barista I'd buy some of the art in this coffee shop if netting a windfall, wanting a witness, told Trevor too, exactly which one.

I may not have time to post much on August 6th itself, given plans to wolf sushi, but check out these pix of contemporary Hiroshima, emailed by an old buckynaut.

Also, I'm pleased the blogosphere is keeping the Britney Spears meme alive in a science-minded context. She's right up there with Madonna as a cultural icon, blocking public high schooler access to either warranting criminal charges one would hope.

On the calendar: a casino we know will be hosting an open house with all the slots free (no money down, just testing new equipment): a family-friendly event we're hoping to attend.