Wednesday, September 20, 2023


NFL Icons
:: National Forensic League ::

Presumably the model NATO debaters will be well prepped when we have Gen Alpha growing old enough to debate itself regarding whether Russia's absorption of Ukrainian oblasts was undertaken in an effective manner. 

The key point in determining whether territory A was invaded and occupied by B is the degree to which the denizens of A requested and welcomed B's presence.  Those arguing for the resolution (that the absorption was effective) will say the Donbass was like Crimea in officially requesting annexation. Those arguing against will say the requests were from illegitimate non-representative factions with no authority to speak for Ukrainians.

I've seen model NATO booths at the national debate clubs festivals. Probably these debates are already going on at the high school level, in elite private schools at least.  

Those above a certain threshold of political awareness have realized these debates are inevitable going forward, so it's best to rehearse now, and with fresh minds who don't depend on parroting over the hill people who got their PhDs decades ago. A lot of Cold Warriors spout illogical sounding arguments and don't stand much of a chance without more coaching about present realities.

What are those present realities?  

All those decades investing in shared infrastructure have resulted in European ports accepting Russian LNG in place of piped supplies, at higher per unit costs. There was never a good case for going cold turkey vs a vs Russian oil. Tankers also switched crude through the Greek shipping networks. "Oil laundering" became the name of the game (not unlike circumventing Prohibition). 

Lots of books are in the pipeline, about the effect of sanctions on countering global energy interdependence.

Some of the more advanced planners, in China especially, grew up reading such tomes as Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (popular in China) and understood about the option to grow electrical grids thanks to improving technology. Their integration in connection with the One Band One Road project, at least in storyboard, continues to get attention. 

The more esoteric Bering Strait linkup, inter-hemispheric, described in Critical Path, has worked its way into the imaginations of these more apolitical IEEE types.  The detour into a proxy war at the Boomer level may not change the thinking even of Gen Z all that much.  On the contrary, the Boomers are inviting backlash by delaying torch passing.

From my angle, as a curriculum developer, I measure the delay in torch passing by sampling the curricula of various high schools at the current archeological level. Do we see a lot of crackling and crumbling?  For sure we do. The institution we call "public school" is especially in a shambles. 

The idea that a central government has responsibilities to citizens, in terms of education and health care, may be fading at least where the District is concerned.  As some city on a hill, WDC is a fading beacon, no longer a source of much hope for future Americans.  Individual states have some ability to set their own track records.

I'm a product of the international schools curriculum, meaning that as a young Boomer, I learned what elite Americans, living as expats, were supposed to learn, in tandem with an international cohort i.e. we were raised in a kind of model UN setting.  

I'll be curious whether the model UN or the model NATO students will fare better as global issue debaters.  It's not really an either/or proposition as some schools host both clubs.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Notes About Neighborhoods

Peter's Model Train

A popular building style around the world is the inward facing apartments surrounding a courtyard. The facade is that of a fortification, a fort, whereas the interior is a kind of atrium oasis. 

Cruise ships have been going for this aesthetic, as well as hotels, the kind with the exposed elevators starting inside the very high- ceilinged interior. 

Some skyscrapers also play with the atrium motif, if only to take advantage of the soaring view, looking up, a view many designs block.

On the smaller end of the spectrum, the courtyard- and/or atrium-equipped fort might contain an extended family, with exogamous components e.g. families that have married in or otherwise allied. This mosaic or tiling structure, of interconnected families, grows to several buildings or may take on the aspect of a whole village. 

These villages may be semi-invisible at first, as they blend within the context of a New York City. We get barrios, or neighborhoods (sometimes ghettos or slums), sometimes with harmonious synergies, popular fusions, other times with interstitial inflammation, from feuding to gang warfare. We've all seen the movies right?

An economics textbook might try to boil it all down to some landlords (owners) versus renters situation, then get into all the borrowing that needs to go on, as some people see their capital appreciate, meaning they can afford to borrow, and pay back with interest. Banks see their money grow in this way, as deposits swell, and so start lending to each other, seeing one another as credit worthy, able to make good on debts.  

Not all of them manage to stay out of trouble though.  Banks may become riddled with scammers, indirectly perhaps, through depositors. Some get into laundering for suspect clients, which becomes self implicating. Banking is an inherently risky business, especially in a VUCA world (I'm thinking of Greg Hutchins here). 

Sometimes speculators bet wrong, such as when imagining driverless cars or AGI just around the next corner. After the hoped for products don't materialize, it becomes easier to cheat on definitions, but what if the public just stops buying the PR?  New investors won't stream in to relieve current owners of their stocks.

Then you get the disruptors coming along, such as Bucky Fuller, who wanted to cut out the middleman mortgage moneylenders, thereby putting less financial stress on the moms especially. 

Fuller wanted happy sane campers living in sanitary circumstances, and so invented his low cost appliance homes, metal tents, dymaxion yurts (circling a utility pole), thereby making RV-mobile-home quality living affordable, at least in principle, to a newly emergent middle class.  

The new lightweight yet durably aerospace designs would spark a revolution in sheltering.  Airstream was another trailblazer, in bringing aeronautical tech to the landlubbers.

However the LAWCAP oligarchs were not necessarily ready for any kind of switchover from everyday mortgage lending (a surefire moneymaker) to dwelling appliance vending; they wanted to keep riding the old FinTech rollercoasters at all costs. 

Their banking games depend a lot on building ticky-tacky box housing, but also drives improvements to the existing housing stock, such as when enterprising remodelers borrow, buy, upgrade, and flip these homes, swimming upstream towards the ever more upscale, like salmon to spawning grounds.  Banks see their portfolios grow in value.

Suburbs clone themselves to produce endless square miles of monoculture, complete with commuter based lifestyles. The need to amp up electricity to these regions is paramount these days, as suburban homeowners increasingly resort to home charging the family vehicles. 

The existing natural gas or coal fired power plants may not be prepared to undertake the load. 

To what extent will solar and wind, combined with storage batteries, take up the burden of providing transport?  That's what any college or university involved in modeling and simulation, is going to be looking at. Even just looking in the rear view mirror we can learn lessons, about what works and what doesn't.

Per David Graeber's work, we needn't box ourselves in with unimaginative cliches about capitalism versus communism. Is it "communist" for a bunch of model railroad aficionados to co-own a model train set in a church basement? That's kind of a nonsense question. It's communal, if that's what you mean, but there's no escaping "community" even in a society run according to capitalist business logic (whatever that is).

We do want to instill a love of trains, of railroads, at a visceral level, in some Global U students. Such a love may be innate, and just need a chance to express itself. We're looking for personnel to take the train system forward.  Physically and literally working on a railroad would be a logical pathway into planning and management. 

However, with the rampant financialization of ownership, people with no special love of trains, not even in a commuter role, get to squeeze the rail works for purely financial gain, at the expense of having a high quality railroad system. Future generations will need to compensate, by implementing new ways of breeding ownership institutions.

In addition to those museum floors I was imagining, the mixed use campus building needs a communal model train system, perhaps more than one, with established roles for governance, probably rotational. Students with a model train in the basement, and ample opportunities to tour existing infrastructure, are more likely to become engineers in the traditional sense, in the form of people who love engines (not a gender specific role).

If Quakerism plays a role in building governance (in some buildings it might), then the nominating, supervisory committee, business meeting structure might help keep the model train committee going.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Museum Floors

I'm back to my mixed use architectures, cruise ships a model, where living quarters need not be redundantly outfitted with kitchens in every unit. Kitchenettes maybe, like in some hotels, but the norm is to seek sustenance outside one's dorm and study space. This building is more like living on board a ship or even submarine, perhaps because it's literally floating or underwater, though neither aquatic environment need be presumed. An ordinary cityscape will do for context.

The Museum Floors contain exhibits, and one may find borrow and return opportunities, like tool libraries, where these tools might be vintage. A number of 386 PCs might be kept in working order, and people come through for some training on WordPerfect, and Lotus 1-2-3, just to experience an office environment their grandparents might have known. Watch some old black and white TV in other spaces, with vintage programming, perhaps assigned. I'm thinking of the Birmingham Civil Rights museum at the moment.

Part of the point is to pass on the disciplines of curation, and also representation, as when building dioramas. I recall how the Henry Ford Museum contained a recreation of a teenager's room from like the 1970s. This was archeology already. Museum goers would marvel at the differences, but also the similarities.  Let's look at a model nerd cave from the early 2000s next.

It sounds like I'm only intending to feature the recent past, the memories of people living in the building. True, I'm thinking recent history is the easiest to curate, and then, depending on what subjects people study in this building, more special case exhibits might develop, about specific time periods and places, perhaps far away geographically, and a basis for student exchange.  For example if your Colorado campus studies Sumurai Era Japan, then you would expect to find a collection of tools, wearables, weapons, dioramas and re-enactment ceremonies (the Society for Creative Anachronism comes to mind).

These floors certainly don't have to be basement level, however it's sometimes fun to imagine them as such, as the past metaphorically provides a basis and support system upon which to build going forward. Our collective memory is our heritage, which is something we extend, adapting, and adopting, as we go.

A lot of museum going may be accomplished virtually, no question. However there's much to be said for keeping some working versions of old appliances, even old telephones.  We need to be able to study their internals, for example, in order to better grasp the analogous technologies of our day.  What was telephony like in the days of switchboards?  Let's see what switchboards were like in the old days, not forgetting how a lot of these roles went to women.

Sunday, September 10, 2023




I haven't seen either Barbie or Oppenheimer.

The linking of the two of them strikes me as strange but much about showbiz is strange.


Yes, their linking is odd, I agree, even after seeing both.

It might be that Barbie World is clearly about having Kens be ancillary and the plot of the movie is Ken discovers the possibility of a more central role through visiting the "real world" (a fantasy Los Angeles). A new equilibrium is thereby explored (Barbies deal with more awakened Kens) -- but I'd say still not achieved, still immature -- reflecting the "real world" more for real in that way.

Oppenheimer, in contrast, is clearly a Ken World from the start, with Barbies ancillary. What Kens do left to their own devices is stratify into strict hierarchies with labeled ranks, organizational charts galore, regarding who should CC whom, what remains "eyes only" to the more top ranking Kens, what's above a Ken's pay grade. The noob Kens graduating from Barbie World are still miles away from hatching a truly he-man bureaucracy. 

Thursday, September 07, 2023


My blog posts often spiral, sticking to a theme while doing a round robin among the three or four blogs. I'm thinking "time tunnels" (scenarios) in general have a spiraling aspect. The theme I'm sticking to here being "study habits".

Recall I'm one of those using "Global U" as a swap-in for "Spaceship Earth" i.e. I have a cradle-to-grave work-study model going, wherein we're always gear shifting into "scholar mode" i.e. "learning mode" if only to figure out where's the light switch. 

It's not "student mode for the first half of life" followed by "teacher mode for second half of life" with "retirement mode" the final Elysium Fields. We're always jumping back and forth between student and teacher mode our whole lives ("learning a living"), the percentage of time spent in each mode having to do with lifestyle choices and/or demands quite a bit.

When some hear the word "mindfulness" it's a "bolt for the door" kind of experience because they're assuming it's yet another dharma talk about confronting one's own mindlessness, especially around relationships. Another "I'm a bad person" lecture (yawn). 

But that's not what this is about. 

We're talking here about cooking again, engaging in some project wherein cleanup is involved, such that what's left in the wake of said activity is not considered "a mess" by community standards. Loose ends get tied off. Puzzles get solved. Making way for new content, a fresh opening.

The Hanford campus, for example, referred to in the movie Oppenheimer, played a big role in the Manhattan Project, but in the big rush to "get it done" (i.e. build the atomic bomb), and not much planning and engineering was devoted to cleanup. The real price tag for this project was to be paid down the road, by we the as yet unborn. The subsequent commitment to pump up groundwater and to measure for leaks of radio-toxins, patching where possible, came after that first chapter.

However, being mindful may involve simply playing with your data structures, especially your queues and prioritizing scheduler, to keep cleanup happening all throughout preparation and serving of the meal, such that there's no big pile of pots and pans, scads of prep stuff strewn about, when it's over. 

You were taking a relaxed, "clean as I go" approach, shifting modes.  While the beans nuke, I put the cheese away. I'm always loading the dishwasher. Multi-tasking is not a sin, even if one is giving full attention to what's at hand. There's an interplay of focused and zoomed back, devoting micro and macro types of attention to a situation.

Wait, am I holding myself out as some mindfulness master, without having even been to chef school? 

I'll be the first to admit I'm often more minion than leader when it comes to serving on a cooking crew. I do as I'm told a lot of the time. I might offer input or take more responsibility if they're looking to me as the experienced FNBer (that's Food Not Bombs) but, chances are, people more experienced than I are in the picture. Ditto at a Friends Gathering, thinking back to Camp Myrtlewood all those times.

What I'm suggesting is the practice of mindfulness need to go straight to old thought patterns you've been having, about this and that. 

Leave the thought patterns to spiral along their lonely path and do something more productive than thinking, heaven forbid right? 

I'm not dissing thinking, but if it's the same old same old, why not bake cupcakes at least?  

Allow cooking to be your metaphor for whatever constructive hobbyist activity.  

Develop mindfulness around something you're not doing just to better yourself i.e. because you imagine you have to or society expects it of you. 

Start with an activity you would voluntarily engage in even without minding about mindfulness.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023


Theosophy Society Library

I've been revisiting Grail mythology with a long time collaborator, which got me back to reading Cirlot's Dictionary of Symbols. I picked up a free copy at the new Theosophy Library digs out on Beaverton-Hillsdale highway that time. I mean to go back the lifetime register for library privileges.

Lets start out by mocking the idea that celestial [sic] bodies program human behavior and/or thinking, in the sense of influence or affect, noting there's no evidence of encrypted information in moon beams (bounced sun beams). There's no evidence for an encodable region in the brain that would be especially sensitive to coded starlight.

Now lets say that was a straw man cosmology, and that the way cosmic bodies influence our daily lives is right before our eyes: through astrology. 

The very language, of typifying personality traits (e.g. stubbornness, control freaky...) by birth chart, and/or putting world events against a backdrop of this or that cosmological state, has been uber-influential in human affairs, self evidently, without any appeal to "secret" physics.

Now that we've settled on this shallow truism, that astrology is influential, lets also remember that people have used it to encode some reliable astronomical information. 

Astronomy would not be where it is today without astrology as a runway long enough to launch its bulk, as an instrumentally endowed discipline, able to theorize about and detect the likes of neutron stars.

A neutron star forms when the atoms are no longer able to put up a fight, as protons with a defensive shield of electrons, a perimeter, a fence. 

The crushing force of gravity overcomes the compressive push of electromagnetism at these extremes, whereas at most frequencies gravity is as diaphanous and evanescent as light pressure, relative to magnetically charged electrochemistry. 

The end result is a ball of neutrons, one could say a giant atom of a kind, and its radial broadcast impact on the environment is not negligible. We detect them as pulsars and see them as rapidly spinning, perhaps at over 42K RPM.

Current cosmology suggests that neutron stars, if sufficiently massive, further collapse into quark stars and then black holes, potentially in a kind of Jitterbug transformation (a squeezing inward).

The link I'll make here is to "epigenetics" in the context of the Synergetics Dictionary in particular. Astrology would be part of the epigenetic feedback loop whereby genetically encoded biological patterns get channeled forward in time by mental processes associated with civilizations.  Humans self program such that their more slowly evolving biological avatars get involved in space travel and/or scuba, with aerospace in between.

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Monday, September 04, 2023




The practice, especially in international politics, of seeking advantage by creating the impression that one is willing and able to push a highly dangerous situation to the limit rather than concede.

-- Wordnik

We're seeing a lot of talking heads suggesting that a psychotic breakdown leading to a nuclear exchange is looking ever more likely, as mostly old people in various social circles start to throw up their hands regarding the current situation.

In my counter narrative, citizen diplomacy is in high voltage mode and has lots of bandwidth. The younger crowd is engaged in mutual study and is not finding those irreconcilable differences the old farts insist on preserving. We're not seeing any impasses, in Europe, Asia or anywhere else.

However, the veteran pundits don't want to pass the torch to a happier generation that's less likely to destroy civilization. They cling to power, despite their obsolete educations.

Meaning the young will have the pry the torch away from them? 

One way to do that is to let them keep their torch while lighting another one. Let them think they're still the torch bearers.

Along similar lines, I've got an alternative to that infamous clock put out by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. What to they know right? Are they aware of and/or working on a Trucker Exchange? Asylum Cities? Martian Math? 

We shouldn't allow their laziness to govern our perceptions. Let them keep to their clock, but when it comes to asking the time of day, we have other sources, such as our Clock of the Long Now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Project Renaissance

I hear a lot of analysts dissing public-private partnerships as unholy. I think back to my early days, as a think tanky type, working for CUE (an NGO, in partnership with the USG), and even including NATO in my Project Renaissance paper.

I suppose I was more of the golden boy in those days, courted by the intel community, wined and dined, living in DC off and on. No wonder I considered myself some kind of "NATO professor". Pretty nutty right?

In my defense, I had the childhood and young adulthood of an expat, i.e. I was Third Culture, living my identity as a USAer from the outside, one could say from various "alien" perspectives.  No wonder I'd write about the ET point of view (ETPV I called it).  I was seeing Earth as a whole.  

I was (and still am) a globalist, meaning I can't help but think I live on a planet (is it different for you?).

I'd like to have longer conversations with these analysts, as I'm sure they have a lot of special case instances to go through, of when and how NGOs, funded by governments and other donors, were used for evil ends. CUE was working on refugee resettlement, in the aftermath of the American War in Indochina.

However, the whole pattern, of players in the public and private sectors, getting along and even coordinating to some degree, doesn't seem by definition wrong-headed.

I'll leave the door open, in other words, to people who want me to stop with the Project Renaissance talk already, which has evolved, but still has some of the same elements. 

I still throw around GST as competitive with the more LAWCAP-oriented thinking most think tanks still traffic in (yawn).  I still keep the Bucky stuff on the table and play the game of XYZ vs IVM (insider jargon).

But as a globalist, and a believer in various kinds of inter-sector (public and private) coordination, I'm not thereby turned into a clone of "the globalist" as if we're talking about some single mentality. Do we think nationalism is one, and only one, school of thought?  That'd be ridiculous right? I rest my case.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Back to School

As we resume our studies towards the end of August, Portland's grade schools just starting to open, we're still all thinking about ergonomics, i.e. how to configure the personal workspace, or "bubble" as the case may be (different schools, different lingos).

My school was using distance education tech in the 1980s, branching off from New Jersey Institute of Technology circuits I'd joined when at St. Peter's doing grad school stuff. I got switched to a front line position, as a full time faculty member, before I completed the degree. They could tell I was qualified. So I was getting classroom experience as well.

Fast forward and that combination has continued. Prior to the pandemic, I was driving around town dropping in on many schools, both public and private, for Coding with Kids, a company based near Seattle. I helped the word spread in Portland and did a combo of in-person and Zoom-based content, as we entered into the "lockdown" period. 

But I was doing Zoom content anyway, as Amazon (the company), for example, would pay for kids on the other end to take our classes. I had students in Compton, part of Greater LA. I had students in Ohio. We did Codesters a lot, which is Python in a browser sandbox, with enhanced graphics capabilities.

The Multnomah Friends (Quakers) are still doing Zoom too, and wearing masks, but I'd say not entirely because of concerns about contagions. Fuel prices, commuting, having to get all the way across town, or into town, is a real burden for many.  Having closed circuit ways of dropping in means more Quakers are able to attend more Meetings all around.

In other words, WFH (working from home) is tantamount to WRP (work in remote places) i.e. you're able to show up at offices all over, not just at the one building downtown or along the beltway someplace. The WFH person might have hours in Dubai, Beijing, Omaha, all in a 48 hour period. In my case, I've been syncing with places in Greater Europe e.g. to offices in Turkey. That was for my data science class.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Civil War

Tucker Carlson recently asked former US president Trump if he thought the country was headed for civil war. Mr. Trump said he didn't know.

I think (a) "civil war" is an oxymoron and (b) that old fashioned idea of "entirely localized to within a nation" no longer obtains in a world with no insulation twixt nations. Even the US civil war had its external trackers and backers. The revolutionary war was civil, until it was won. As is so often the case, the very point of contention is whether we're talking two nations or one.

Take the case of Ukraine: when was it ever a "civil war" in the sense of "not also a proxy war"? Never. External interests were weighing in on both sides, upping the ante. Plus as I said "civil war" is an oxymoron. War is the very opposite of civil.

However, we now have the notion of "culture wars", a kind of psywar that has the ability, at least on paper, to stay a war of words and memes, forms of name-calling. As to the question of whether the US is headed for a culture war, that's a no brainer: the US is a motherboard for culture wars, and computing through them. That's what a "melting pot nation" (not all of them are) is all about.