Sunday, August 14, 2022

Burger Week

Burger Week is Here

I haven't been that big of a meat eater, by western standards.  Yes I eat meat, including bison or buffalo on occasion, but I'm not like a steak every month or week guy.  My diet isn't paleo.

I've spent probably thousands on McMenamins Dungeon Burgers over the years.  That's the one with mushrooms and Swiss cheese.  I wonder if their database would show that.  

select count(item), sum(item_price) where customer = [me] and item = "dungeon_burger";

Those would be aggregating columns. That's in pseudo-sql against a database I've never met in person. A mind game.

Originally I'd titled this post "Summer BBQ" because I had this metaphor in mind:  I've stoked the briquettes with all the newspaper needed, and lit the pyre (if I might call it that); lets see if the briquettes catch, which means they'll generate their own heat, long after all the newspaper is consumed.


That metaphor in turn was about my approach to andragogy.  If I keep fawning over the flames, fanning them, I won't know if they would go out without me.  Given I could use such feedback, I'll aim to stand back.  I've worked on the ignition phase plenty, it seems to me.

I'm still being rather abstract, but that's OK.  Lets get back to burgers.  Portland has a whole week celebrating the genre and recommends retailers offer an $8 burger week special, their choice of what to try.  At least that's my understanding of the challenge.  I don't know what syndicate is behind it exactly, only that this is not a new institution.

Almost in anticipation of said burger week, Glenn and I sampled the offerings at the Yes Please Smashburger shack, a certified food cart right across from the Linus Pauling House.  I took quite a few pictures and have left them interspersed.

Yes Please food cart

Sunday, August 07, 2022

New Bucky Bio

New Bio


I just got the book yesterday and have been doing my nonlinear Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics thing, i.e. I've been browsing it.

I've always contended studying Bucky's bio is worthwhile because he was so, shall we say, gregarious.  He got around.  He was a mover-shaker type.

He also lived a long time and was a compulsive self chronicler, by design.  Guinea Pig B wanted to be studied.  Alec is paying him that courtesy.

Alec's bio also proves my point.  Every page is connecting us to a recognizable vista of big name architects, poets, professors and so on.  Military types...

Great story.  It's like a Michelin guide to the 1900s, of course to specific circles, an intelligentsia that still persists in some form.

Given how thick it is, I understand Alec's not trying to be another Amy Edmondson and recap Synergetics. 

He gives readers enough to whet their appetites, and then it's all online.

I didn't participate in creating this book.  I see Trevor mentioned, and CJ. 

That means I still have my stories to tell, as Kenneth Snelson's first webmaster (BFI's too) and so on.

[first posted to TrimTab BookClub GoogleGroup]

Friday, July 29, 2022

Uncle Bill Stranded

Portland on Google Earth

I'm pretty sure Uncle Bill, age 97, is still stuck at Union Station.  I got a surprise call from the guy at 4:15, right before I was to start teaching class.  He was in Portland, here for the day, to see a different relative.  The only thing was:  he hadn't been able to reach said relative on the phone, yet he came anyway.  

I couldn't help.  My Python for High School was to start in 15 minutes.

The good news was that even if he was missing his 4 PM train, he'd get the next one back to Seattle around 6 PM.  He'd make it to Union Station by taxi.  Good plan.  I encouraged him to high tail it down there.

As it turned out, however, the Steel Bridge was "having issues" (due to the heat we think) and Amtrak trains were stranded on both sides, going nowhere.  

Or was the one in Tacoma having other issues?  Bill's ticket was (is) for the Coast Starlight, coming north.  I'm watching for updates on Twitter.

As for me, I need to get up early (alarm set for 5 AM) and start a next teaching gig.  I have a pretty full calendar this coming month.

We're in the middle of a heat wave in Portland.  Fortunately, I'll have completed my first session before it really heats up.  The course is mapped to the New York clock.  The headquarters are in Turkey.

Union Station

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Friday, July 22, 2022

Campus Recruiting and Logistics


I've got my fishing pole in this lake, but don't expect many nibbles.  I consider it free advertising for my company, which has a footprint in education.  What about American Transcendentalism as a literary tradition?  How about as a philosophical one?  

Transcendentalism is not usually acknowledged within any taxonomy of philosophies, although some of its leading lights get a tacit nod, in the case of Emerson, from Nietzsche.  As a literary phase, it fits between Romantic / Dark Romantic (Gothic) and Realistic, on the way to Modernist and Postmodernist.

I'm looking to do business with education institutions.  

Perhaps we'll devise a standard practice, based around bizmo fleets, where they travel from campus to campus, because they're outfitted to perform scholarly research. 

Some do bug counts (insect populations), some focus on testing soils.  The universities and other bases need both the data, and the science trained personnel.  

An active bizmo fleet keeps ideas in circulation, literally.

For those just joining us, I've been planning around truck stops and the lifestyle of truckers, both long and short distance haulers.  I'm not an expert.  I'm not a trucker.  

I'm interested in these truck stop hubs for various reasons.  I have prototype dwelling machine villages in mind, designed for transport by shipping container, meaning trucks along the way, trains also.  

Some truckers are in like PhD programs where they stay awhile in these remote lands, allowing the payloads to go on without them.  Learn the history, some of the language, become more familiar with the local ways.  

Live in some yurt-like pod on a utility pole, surrounded by yak herds or peacocks.  Then move on.  In this global university model, students and faculty are not necessarily shy about operating heavy equipment, including long haul rigs.

A bizmo (business mobile) is a smaller more agile vehicle that scouts the routes and tends to business, without hauling a big load.  

One might say these bizmos gather and relay intelligence about an area, but that sounds like a suspect activity, unwelcome spying perhaps.  However your average bizmo is most welcome in most cases, wherever it goes, because there's nothing especially clandestine about how or why it operates.  

There's nothing necessarily wrong with monitoring local conditions, especially by locals themselves, perhaps as mentors with apprentices, themselves on tour.  Keep the databases up to date.  Think of Google Street View or one of those.

Think of tour guides too.  We want and expect them to guide us through, especially in tricky situations. 

The work comes under the heading of citizen diplomacy in many ways.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Tracking a Vlogger

I thought she totally caught the train experience, in her low key way. Nervousness about missing one's stop.  Trains delayed.  Trains being right on time.  Scenes out the window.  The car interior.  Reflections.

The trope of getting ready to leave one's country, and saying good bye to cities in past videos, contains instant and seemingly infinite nostalgia for what now is, not the future.  I find her fascination with the mundane matches my own.

Freedom is to exult in nothing special, which is ever special, not to mention ubiquitous.

I've followed this channel for awhile now, and have said in the comments I appreciate the editing.  The story is bravely autobiographical, and offered with an open heart.  I know she has a ton of fans.  Count me one of them.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Regarding World Game

 [ from TrimTab Book Club listserv ]

We've had Model United Nations for some time now.  High schoolers join as an extracurricular activity.  When I joined my daughter's debate team going to Indianapolis for national championships, I learned about another activity high schoolers could sign up for:  Model NATO.

Would we consider these to be implementations of World Game?  Not in any trademarked sense. 

Will World Game, as developed so far, be able to give rise to multiple implementations, all different from one another?  We shall see.  In the open source world, it's quite common to fork a project and develop along a new branch.

As I mentioned earlier, I know at least one guy (related to Bucky himself he claimed -- different last name though) who was very put off by the fact that an earlier World Game version had it scripted right into the program, that no matter what participants did, those poker chips would come out andspill across that map, representing nuclear holocaust. 

That was supposed to be a sobering moment.  But it could just as well be interpreted as a teaching about the ultimate fruitlessness of any efforts to avoid Armageddon.

I'd at least be up for debating that point.  I don't take it for granted that this earlier design was a work of inspired genius. Bucky didn't go the poker chip route did he?  That came after he died on the timeline, am I right?

True, I'd like to see versions of World Game that aren't so ultimately predictable.  Given I think this is all world game right now, one can see why.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Magical Incantations

The rulers scour the landscape for whom the true believers are following.  Having zealots and fanatics on one's side is a double edge sword, but there's always postponing the day of reckoning.  No one is really ready for Judgement Day, when it comes.  

Wittgenstein was more of the "every day is judgement day" school, but you couldn't say that quiet part out loud a lot. I've followed Wittgenstein since first exposure in the 1970s (he died before I was born).

How do we ceremoniously and with gravitas create more autonomy for ourselves, whoever we are?  Many ethnicities would enjoy their own nation, or so they tell themselves, or at least one of the tribal kind from which the concept first emerged ( in conjunction with "race" in Social Darwinism).  

The "tolerant" nation of many tribes working together is more an adaptation of the Iroquois Federation and Roman Empire memes, with the UK on the template of the latter.  Arab empires also allowed for local folk religions and even stole (borrowed, appropriated) the best ideas (likewise the Catholics are known for this).  

Many who long for a nation are hearkening back to something tribal, not a federation of any kind.  A federation comes across as more abstract, more aloof, and more secular, in the sense of not being programmed exclusively by the locals, of any region where it occurs.  That's often what the independently minded are seeking to escape, just such an aloof and removed government.

When it comes to joining a Federation, topological questions of contiguity enter the picture.  The United States counts a smattering of non-state members, such as Puerto Rico and the military base at Guantanamo. What if another far flung island wants to join the federation, not as a state, but as another protectorate?  What if it's not an island?  What if the District agrees the new territory would be a welcome addition?  What is the process and are those wheels too rusted, in this day and age, to ever turn?

The anthropological question before us is one of invocation and declaration.  On the one hand, you have schools telling us the nation state heuristic is inevitably fading, given the only logical dimensions to this puzzle are planetary, whereas on the other you have elaborate mechanisms, steeped in ritual and ceremony, designed to do social engineering, as an official responsibility.  What is reinventing itself, and what is breaking down more permanently?  This is always the question at the institutional level.

We may be clearer on what it takes to "break away" versus "join" e.g. the two republics at the center of the current military fiasco.  When a central government is shelling your civilians on a daily basis, one may seek a diplomatic solution, or declare independence, find allies, and choose war.  Given the close proximity of an existing federation (the Russian one), the phenomenon of breakaway republics is no surprise.  The other side did not want diplomacy either, trusting in its military advantage.

We also talk about centrifugal forces within the North American federation, of Lower48 + the Canadian provinces + Belize & Baja, Mexico.  The sanctions imposed by the District, on its western states especially, has criminalized most of the population (think Prohibition) and forced the entire cannabis economy to short circuit the banking system.  

Various accommodations with the tax code were negotiated, as what rusty old machine is going to turn down more fuel (revenue)?  Obviously no one in "power" has the power to stop this particular runaway train.  People notice these things.

An effect of the Drug Wars has been to motivate a psychological breakup that has no real mirror in the paper trail.  The melodrama of everyday television hints at these chthonic tensions, but no narrative snowballs, gathering inertia.  

This has the effect of melting whatever snowballs are already out there, as the message internally is "how can those snowballs matter if mine never does?" i.e. "what makes their narrative so privileged?", typically a precursor question to some upsetting of the apple cart.  Viewers tune out whole networks, when the content producers never focus on the relevant stories.  They vote with their remotes.

If you check an atlas, you'll likely find that Oregon ranks highly in both Russian and Ukrainian speakers. Migration patterns are such that we have very old school in a mix with newcomers.  The same goes for ties to the tribal nations of Japan, Korea, China and so on.  

I think of Portland as a Pacific Rim city, a gateway to Eurasia (or just call it all Asia) if you're coming from the American side, where the American side includes all the Americans (from Canada, Mexico, Panama, Brazil and so on).  

What this means is a lot of de facto citizen diplomacy (aka university collaborations, businesses), not only between Oregon and the Americas, but between Oregon and Asia.  Like any world municipality, Portland is a switchboard, a router, even a CPU / GPU on Motherboard Earth.

Finally, for this blog post, let me remind readers of the focus on Virtual Nations in the 21st Century. These are nation-like self governing semi-autonomous, but without the contiguous borders that would make them United Nations style nation-states.  Some may have a Vatican-sized campus here and there, and may fly a flag, but they're not agitating to issue passports in most cases, or do so as a sales gimmick, without monkeying in international law.  

Will future VNs do more with ID?  Naturally.  Behind VNs are webs of blogs, logs, vlogs and databases, and maybe even a currency or two.

If you think this idea of VNs is unrealistic, consider Shell and Nestles, consider Disney (when it comes to Vatican-sized campuses or bigger).  Consider that VNs go way back by other nomenclature.  

Consider universities going forward, and the federations they may form.  

Supranational circuitry is nothing new. Global shipping companies have a similar sheen, in that their logos show up everywhere, yet few imagine them on a world map.

Given these many circuitry overlays, facilitated by more of a shared file system, the question becomes whether bureaucracy itself needs a new space in which to operate.  I'm not talking about global government (science fiction) so much as global infrastructure (a fact).  

What's chipping away at the power of the old guard, while empowering an avant-garde, is the unwillingness of the old ideologies to think globally, a limitation designed in on purpose.  The District refuses to consider the security concerns of rival federations as a foreign policy guide.  That's what "self interested" is supposed to mean (to them).  

But at what point does the bureaucracy itself discover it couldn't force itself to think that way even if it wanted to?  The bureaucracy has gone global even if the chief functionaries stick to obsolete rhetoric.

When I say "systems have a half life" I'm not saying "because other systems will destroy them". On the contrary, the model of radioactive decay is a "from within" phenomenon.  Alpha and beta particles leak away.  Atoms do in fact change species.  They "fall downhill" in a way that major stars counteract.  

Star cookers will fuse together atoms of very high atomic number.  But at a certain size, they're not really meant for this universe, and they start to break down.  

Ideological systems display similar limitations, in coming up against laws of physics, more than anything man made.

I make this distinction because it helps counter the "commie under every bed" boogeyman paranoias that seek to explain systemic degradation of one kind or another.  Circling a natural process prompts the realization that nature herself plays a role, and yes, humanity is a part of nature.  

The circuity in question encompasses the ecosystem, not just the human "value added".  

The erosion of nation-state aesthetics need not trace to a tiny cadre of committed activists or anything like that.  No one has to lift a finger with that specific intent.  On the contrary, the predominant intent has been to foster and bolster nationhood, in the face of mounting odds.

Thursday, July 07, 2022

A Parable


Some in DC must be tone deaf to how "fight to the last Ukrainian" is bringing the Bear and the Christian closer together.  

I'm talking about the NATO-Roman coliseum, with the assembled voyeur masses there for the show.  

The Emperor says:  "we must drag this out for as long as possible, to weaken the Bear, thereby to make its fight with the Lion more exciting (check your programs)".  

However the Bear has more empathy for the Christian than the Emperor does (they go back a long way), and it comes to seem, given how it's no longer a cliffhanger fight, that they have much in common in how both are being exploited. 

If the Bear and the Christian resolve their differences and focus on rebuilding, maybe they can finally end the rule of Rome.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Pronoun Puzzle