Saturday, February 12, 2011

Remembering a Person

Jim Person was the son of my grandma Esther's older brother, August.

Esther was my father Jack Urner's mother (Carl was his father). Margie was my grandmother on my mother Carol's side of the family, Tom Reilley her father.

Bill Lightfoot, Howard, Bo, Eddy and Eve, were grandma Esther's sister Elsie's kids. August was one of Esther, Elsie and Alice's brothers, along with Robert, Dick, Dud and Ernie (all Persons), and all Swedish settlers on Mercer Island.

Augie was an impressive human being by many accounts, a top Rotarian in his early 30s before he succumbed to pneumonia, and a radio man (repairs and operations) much in demand from Astoria to Portland. His widowed wife married Walt Tornblad and her young son Jim thereby gained his younger half brother Paul. They moved to Cherry Grove.

This was a memorial for the young son Jim, by now an old guy. His wife Martha Jane Person had died in May of 2009.

I was learning a lot of these details for the first time. I took some pictures of the literature available to the public. I wish I'd taken one of the preacher, a friendly giant and community servant.

Jim died peacefully in a way some of my relatives envy and seek to emulate.

Bill Hancock's dad was from nearby Glencoe (we were in Cornelius for the service). His wife Barbara is Harold's daughter, Harold (Dud). Harold Persons sisters were my grandma Esther, Elsie and Alice.

Elsie had many children, among them Bill Lightfoot, who picked me up at the house in his Aztec and drove me there and back. We adjourned to Back Stage for a beer afterwards.

In Cherry Grove

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Another Space Case

Although I mess around with the professor archetype (senex etc.), I'm averse to falling into that trap of "absent minded". Averse or no, the laptop is probably in a good place, but I won't be sure until tomorrow, so movie night didn't happen. Long story.

Hey, I've been thinking about how to translate "samsara", am aiming to consult with Satya on this. This has probably been thought of, but I'm thinking "sorrow" as in "river of sorrow". But then, for me, there are connotations, like with Krishnamurti saying as much. Hi Nick and Quinn.

In rough translations, there might be some attempt to link samsara to Hades or even hell as an afterlife, but that's to miss it's one's life today. This is also our world of joys (nirvana).

We'd have these philosophical discussions while in the Kia sometimes, Urners, Dawn Wicca, Tara, our tribe. Julie had been to Grahamstown as well. We took the scenic route back to Cape Town.

One could also call it one's "time tunnel" which has the look and feel of a "world line" (but with thickness). The "partially overlapping scenarios" idea was a remark about shared grammar, one might say, whether one uses this remote (esoteric) vocabulary or some other.

We had Thai food, per plan. Only then did I discover I'd probably set her down, movie still in the drive. I'm back to "absent minded" and how it haunts me. Part of the human condition I realize. Something about P.D. Ouspensky. Hi Gary.

Academia should have no problem with "dharma talks" as a genre, whether these be about genomics, neuro-science, other hybrid subjects (as if we were somehow done with alchemy).

Lining up polyhedrons and "the elements" may seem like a strange thing to do, yet we should acknowledge that this was done. Tracing the history of a meme game doesn't require making it one's own, though one may, on occasion. I covered some of this during Martian Math, using the free Web to omni-triangulate.

I'm drifting in and out of a Python theme. It's become a kind of calligraphy for me, simple, spare programs for STEM teachers. I'm seeing our bridge again, twixt natural numbers, partial sums, partial sums of those sums.

Hey, at PPUG last night I was yakking with the gmpy guy again (picking up from work by Alex Martelli). He said arbitrary precision complex numbers are on the way. It's not like they've not been implemented in other libraries. Bringing them into Python is what he's working on doing.

My movie-goers were kind and empathized with my loss, did not begrudge me the missing movie. The disk is Bob Smith's though. Fingers crossed I get it back.

Thinking about relatives and friends in different chapters, moving round the karmic wheel. Jim Person recently passed away. The aging process is inevitable. The impulse to plan for a better world remains though, an indication that we're drawn forward, not just impelled from behind (fear vs. longing: pursued vs. drawn towards).

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Tell the Truth and Run (movie review)

My thanks to Marian Rhys and Bob Smith of Multnomah Friends for bringing this enlightening documentary to my attention.

I served as projectionist at the meetinghouse tonight, sharing it with a tiny elite, including Sonya Pinney and Harriet Holling, our elder stalwarts and a source of memories going way back. Their kids were my contemporaries (hello to Sonya's Eric, Lael, Heather and to Harriet's Alice and Linda).

The movie: Tell the Truth and Run, a biography of George Seldes (1996).

His brother, Gilbert, was the well-connected arts and letters guy, friend of Picasso and James Joyce, who took over The Dial from Bucky's great aunt Margaret (with a few owners and editors in between). These brothers had grown up in a Jewish intentional community known as The Alliance, losing their mother early to TB, and strongly influenced by their dad's engagement with world affairs and uncompromising intellect.

George was on the right side of history in so many ways. When this documentary was made, people had the benefit of more hindsight and were happy enough to pile on honors and accolades. He lived to be 104.

In the actual battle for a freer press, he was the quintessential "muckraker" in the most positive sense, taking on the unholy alliance between advertisers, publishers, and what news that's fit to print (nothing that might hurt owner/sponsor profits, if at all possible).

He challenged journalists to live up to their own ethics (if they had any).

What were his radical positions that branded him a muckraker?

He refused to suck up to El Duce (Mussolini) when so many were doing just that, on both sides of the Atlantic. He was in Rome at the time, as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, and he was eventually evicted, and might have been dragged off the train to Paris and killed had it not been for some British officers giving him cover in a hastily arranged ploy.

After WW1 he went behind enemy lines and learned the average Germans were not the despicable people ("huns") he had helped dehumanize as a war correspondent. War itself was the enemy. General Pershing would not let him publish about the horrors of war. War correspondents enlisted in the Army were there to build morale, not question the dominant paradigm.

He well understood that the Spanish Civil War was a dress rehearsal for Fascism versus democracies.

He reported accurately on the approach of WW2, seeing the militarization of youngsters as the unmistakable harbinger of what was to come. He already knew the fascist psychology pretty intimately and recognized its features in his homeland as well as overseas.

After WW2 he fought big tobacco companies and their huge propaganda machine. Americans were (and are) easy targets for addictive drug pushers and their spurious health claims ("more doctors smoke Camels"), plus consumers wanted to believe their American dream, not explore its dark side or wake up in some "matrix".

Lets remember that readers / viewers are often complicit, in insisting the media reinforce their world views. It's not just the moneyed who shape media campaigns. There's an unspoken social contract whereby the moneyed end up paying for what the "me tooers" ardently hope might be a sustainable model of reality. Given sufficient commitment and education, this might prove a more viable model down the road.

George made a career of fighting corruption, conflicts of interest, hypocrisy, and made a lot of enemies in the process.

After quitting the Chicago Tribune (too much corruption), he and his wife retreated to Vermont and set up their own four page weekly called In Fact, which developed quite a following. It reported on stories no one else would touch (such as the links between cigarette smoking and lung cancer). FAIR was in some ways a successor.

By the time we get to the McCarthy Period, he's one of those vilified as a Red, along with Albert Einstein, Aaron Copeland, Edward Murrow and other "subversives". Stoking public fears against dissenters, using the "Commie" memeplex, was a convenient, if cowardly, ploy. People were afraid to subscribe to In Fact lest their names show up on some FBI watch list, and the journal went out of business in 1950.

George Seldes was in many ways a meta-journalist in that he discussed the business of journalism and the editorial process. Many of his readers were themselves professional journalists.

Having seen how newspapers sell themselves from this angle, it's harder to rush to their defense in this age of the Internet. What if If Fact had been an on-line publication? We've gotten to the point where money is less a factor than having facts that cross-check. This is potentially good news for democracies.