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".

Understood?

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?