Sunday, June 26, 2011

Office Reflections

I'm not too happy about Qwest changing its name to CenturyLinks, a big faux pas in my book. Anything "century" is too stale, unless grandfathered in. Purposely reverting to such retro signage is just a pale retreat, an attempt at a new wrapping. Anyway, not my problem.

I followed up on that PSF traffic regarding Python / Iran. The for-credit "truckology" degree (not its real name) could be cause enough for a convergence, with GeoDjango a theme (like at OS Bridge).

Holden and I discussed the new Hess album on Facebook, our having met at GOSCON last year.

Planning to see Source Code this evening.

I have a "commit bit" for the Wittgenstein feed. Hope Alex, Satya and company are doing well on their walk. Lots of turnover at FNB. LW enjoying Dostoevsky. Did the 14 mile loop, like in the old days with SB and friends.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Simulating A School

I was back to my "school for diplomats in the high desert" topic again, in a recent meeting at the chairman's (some of the chairs were recently re-glued by Patrick). Could we apply Henry George principles?

Henry George, an economist, proposed to keep government from being too greedy, by freeing people to add value to land through their own efforts, without having to pay tribute on the value added except in a most general way, relating to the appreciating value of the underlying shared infrastructure and ecosystem context. "Improvements" wouldn't be penalized as a land tax is more about neighborhood value. It's a way of "raising all boats" by boosting land values while allowing more of the rewards of innovation to flow back to the innovators.

Economists are always interested in "bootstrapping" because development is a result of cybernetic feedback that spirals one way or the other, or has both convergent (concentrating) and divergent (dissipating) tendencies. A few domes in the desert, or near a stream bed, perhaps in an airspace zoned for air taxi service, do not by themselves constitute a school. However, with a few product placements and signers on, sponsor decals, co-venturer insignia, one does have a basis for appreciating land values.

We already know some of the purposes of such a school, based on the Countdown to Zero literature, Gasland, and other classics. Environmental monitoring, through the use of sensors, is in the public interest, as is the geographic display of the collected data. It's not just a convenience, but a government responsibility to the people, the lack of which global data only goes towards delegitimizing those claiming to inherit high office. If a citizen cannot dial up current data about Bull Run, the Portland metro area watershed, then do we really have a government? The data collection centers will have a public service mission that's clear and obvious enough to attract the kind of volunteers we would most like to get: idealistic and self motivated. "Idealistic" does not mean "pie in the sky" so much as willing to project a personal narrative against the backdrop of "the greater good".

Beyond eco-monitoring and "away team" forays, the students are learning how to be mannerly in an ever-shifting global economy, one which brings ethnicities together in new ways.

Those tracking these blogs know that we've created our Blue House as an urban based prototype of one of these schools, adopting a Free School model and providing economic support to self motivated individuals. The "time capsule" houses much of the syllabus. The back office is where sponsors put their mark. Whether outreach to the movie industry succeeds sooner rather than later remains an open question. Japanese anime companies have been courted. Portland is on the map, diplomacy-wise. Our track record has been established.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I was grateful to be reunited with my daughter today, meeting Gonzo's party at carousel 4. I also had Sir Steve in my company, his JetBlue having landed but a few minutes earlier. We all fit in the Kirby taxi no problem.

Steve showed me some pix from Djangocon / Amsterdam.

Out to celebrate more.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shanty Town USA

You have a lot of Americans pressuring to start the same sprawling shanty towns we find in many urban areas. The city sidewalk and public thoroughfare is, not for the first time, the front line in a battle between public and private. The right to camp on public lands, if curtailed, is on some level a blow to sovereignty, especially as more citizens take to the camp grounds.

Stewart Brand was upbeat about all this youthful energy, the vast encampments spreading around great urban concentrations. This might free up a lot more area for pure wilderness, a zoning he favors.

His objections to solar /wind farms are mainly against the plow happy practices of tractor fanatics and their bulldozing cousins. If flowers (sun tracking solar collectors) destroyed property the way those dozers do, we'd have run out of wilderness in no time.

Nature seems to concentrate its stupidest memes in humans for some reason (guinea pigging?). Nature for Dummies is our constant reading, always going over the same lessons, again and again and again. Tsk, I'm sounding not philanthropic again.

Back to those tent city PeopleTowns: here in North America, it might be more senior-boomers, vets, mixed with young families just starting out, already foreclosed upon in our shark infested waters.

America's people are among the least defended against some brands of predator, the military conveniently looking the other way if it's an "intelligence" problem.


The military's ranks and budget actually swell when civilians are driven from their precarious paycheck-to-paycheck perches. Humans get herded into I, Robot prisons and militias, once out of other options.

The schools have yet to catch up, making Food Services struggle without the benefit of much systems analysis or real time control room monitoring.

The Ivory Tower is still hellbent on obliging with killingry science it seems, pandering to an Iron Mountain Economy while neglecting so many critically important student services, providing shelters for example, versus blowing them up.

We can't have strong ethics if we're busy selling out to the Forces of Darkness now can we? Lord of the Rings revisited.

I've wondered if the aerospace sector, with lots of bright people, would be stepping up to the plate the way Bucky planned. Weren't we expecting some experimental prototype community of tomorrow?

Then I realized I still like trains a lot, and maybe the global university extension campus should stretch across rail lines, for PhD programs in history, languages, signals, physics, geology -- you name it.

Not just PhD programs, but future Doctors of Philosophy especially stand to benefit from working on a railroad at some point in their lives. Could be Russian Studies. I'm not saying I'm confidant USAers are capable of self-organizing this creatively -- or they already would have by now, right?

Of course it's not either / or (trains versus planes) and "working on a railroad" easily becomes a metaphor for any dirty job involving a component of physical labor.

Young bodies are especially in need of exercise, aren't designed to just sit around in cube farms, rotting away around water coolers, eating too much meat, depending on air conditioning. School is a travesty if it grooms only Eloi, channeling Morlock tendencies into either pointless athletics or outright predating on other humans (so-called blood sports, "Roman circuses").

You can see some TV stations wanting to move more in that direction, encouraging wars, inflaming both sides to boost ratings, with the producer-militants seeming to encounter little resistance from democracy's last bastions (this gives them encouragement).

Hey, I'm starting to sound like Micheal Sunanda, my hippy co-interviewee in Internet Radioland, on one of those Coast to Coast type twisted alien shows, like those underground comics.

So why is Planet Earth still such a nasty place, why so much misery? The pat answers of the past don't ring so true anymore. The sermons have gone hollow in so many churches (at least Subgenius rants still have some punch).

The poignancy is still there, but its nature has changed, the surrounding storytelling.

It's getting harder to think in terms of pure physical insufficiency anymore (the "too many people" cop out) ever since the Renaissance in Italy, and especially since the 1970s with its Apollo Program and so forth. Humans have the ability to ferry themselves to the moon using small well-insulated capsules. Amazing.

I'm meeting about "EPCOT West" tonight, among other projects (Earthala etc.). You could think of it as a book club for retired science fiction writers if that sounded comforting. Other Tomorrows Network? See you next Esozone maybe?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hatless in Portland

I took some time out today, to label recent photographs, to hunt for my hat. I've misplaced it again, perhaps this time for good. Said hat hogged the limelight in my autobiographical post to the Wittgenstein list.

Trisha (at Wanderers this morning) was off to help load a donkey into a pickup truck and that got us all talking and Googling.

What's a mule anyway? Jim Buxton had more experience with donkeys. The dad is always the donkey it seems. If the mule is fertile, it's because she might get pregnant. Guy mules have no track record of fathering.

Mules bond well with horses, especially mother figures. Many attractive features.

A non-sterile male mule with a horse father and donkey mother would likely be too oxymoronic to call a mule. It'd deserve its own label.

Donkeys usually are a help around the farm, especially when it comes to looking after other animals. However, one donkey Glenn knew was credited with teaching the horses in its care to step over cow guards. It showed them over and over until they got it. The horses and donkey would take off and go exploring, much to the consternation of their human proprietor.