Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (movie review)

Not to worry: just because I've seen one semi-hagiographic DVD made by some of her best friends, am I now suddenly some authority on Objectivism or what have you. This will not be a boring lecture decrying (or embracing) her metaphysics (if that's an appropriate word).

"Awww, what a sweetheart" was my more up front reaction, along with "so is this what the fuss was about?" I'd checked out The Fountainhead in like 8th grade, noticing its push-button value in adult faces. Like anyone that age (and younger) I wanted to be a part of the conversation, and this looked like a ticket. But then I lost the thread, and hey, who gets to live near a Movie Madness well stocked with well made documentaries? Certainly not me, until my middle years, when I had the good fortune to occupy a space in 97214 (actually, a few spaces).

What I guess people don't get, quite, is how the USSR of the day was a convenient backdrop against which to play out big labor disputes (many still ongoing). The reality of the Russian experience was going to take much longer to get through, given the Doppler Effect of human affairs and osmosis. Ayn was first wave messenger from a world deep in dire straits, a hell for so many. New York had its own Broadway version of Russia going, more romantic, more a projection. Rather than fault that, just accept it, and read Hugh Kenner in The Pound Era about the invention of China (while we're at it). So yeah, she was out of tempo with the drama so many were on about, but hey, she'd trained with the best, in Hollywood, and knew how to hold her own. Good for her. I admire her gumption, her complete commitment to her dreams.

But then I'm hopelessly lost in some other dimension, is the other shoe maybe. My meaning of "capitalism" for example: I play cities against cities, like we do in sports, talking about London and Hanoi as my "capitals". These days I'm severely dissing WDC and boosting Portland. That's me being a capitalist, using my head in a sensible way. Ayn Rand did the same, boosting New York, loving those skyscrapers. Hey, go for it girl.

We watched in my living room, Tara, Steve Holden and I all on our lap tops, doing our work. Tara found Phil Donahue amusing and I found myself explaining about the invention of the TV talk show and the pioneers of the genre, Oprah in the same lineage. Ninja David showed up on my porch during intermission asking to borrow my cell phone, sucking me back into my own Food Not Bombs soap opera (David "give me a hug..." fade out, cue laugh track, see ya next week).

The funniest part of the Ayn Rand story (at her expense, but she could laugh about it later): she's like totally gung ho to sail into New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty, seeing the skyline, has dreamed for this day all her life, and she sleeps through it or something (I was glancing at my laptop when they said what the problem was). Never mind. She had her tears of joy later. So many of her dreams came true.

Speaking of which, the other irony or poetic twist if you prefer, was that this ardent atheist would have so many miraculous experiences, such as finding herself a handsome / dashing Roman soldier right off the set of King of Kings, with Cecil B. DeMille himself taking her under his wing. "You can't make this stuff up." Which leaves open to question, "so who does?" Ayn (I'm guessing): "you don't need a who (no agency)." God: "look ma, no hands!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Office Studio

Tara successfully burned an ISO of Ubuntu 8.04 and wiped her Gutsy Gibbon off the face of her hard drive. That gave her the confidence to try again with a more recent 32-bit LTS ISO from her workstation upstairs (overlooking the deck). She reported this morning that all was working, though the Flash plugin that started it all (not having one) still needed to go on.

Chairman Steve was over during the latter part of this. I called it an "install mitzvah" again, even though this wasn't specifically Python. We sat in the office but didn't use Wifi for much, as Tara was getting that 700 MB ISO. At Open Bastion, download times would be significantly shorter.

No update about Eve in awhile, I need to call Uncle Bill.

A lot of architects failed to anticipate that making video would be as critical as watching it, so that "media room" really should have been designed with cameras in mind. On the other hand, given how small the cameras, retro-fitting is hardly a problem if there's budget, and is what many have already done.

Given the gaping hole in my ceiling (beneath the deck) owing to previous architectural mistakes, upgrading the office would be my opportunity to show off home studio concepts.

People could interview here, or serve news. Granted: the basement is already sourcing some "guerrilla girl" pilots, but less primitivist aesthetics should also be within range, more blue screeny / weather forecasty (lots of global data streams to patch into, syndicated to home studios everywhere).

I'm taking a vacation from Synergeo until 2012, putting more thought into Koski's list instead. We're having some interesting threads, about tensegrity and so on.

Upcoming OPDX meetup (check Calagator for others):
Friday, December 2; 6:30 p.m.
Multnomah Friends Meeting House
4312 SE Stark Street

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Business Cards


Friday, November 25, 2011

TG 2011

:: tg 2011 ::

Our plan to join the family up north was canceled this year, as we pulled together in spirit around Evelyn, my grandmother's niece. Mary and Alice, her two daughters, are with her.

Good friends took us in, Tara and I.

Lindsey would have joined us but she's still recovering from Occupy Portland, which took a lot out of her. We brought her back food, vegan, from her FNB friends and well wishers.

I'm grateful for this time with Tara and enjoyed the five documentaries we got to watch together, over cheeses, including a few hours on the Korean War, as it's called.

Lots of dogs joined us, a few cats. I left the car door open overnight, mistakenly, and Lindsey's cat made a night of it, in the passenger seat (or so I surmise, based on that's where I found her curled up in a ball, like a hibernating squirrel).

My best to Dawn's side of the family. I've been following Aunt Bettie's progress.

"Americans spend the most money the day after they profess gratitude for what they already have" said one of my friends. Interesting observation.

We're not boycotting or anything, just staying away from crowds. As I mentioned to Tara, I'm happy to share December 25 with the Christians but in no way do I consider it theirs exclusively. We enjoy the atmosphere that's created, why not.

I was glad someone said a prayer for native Americans at the day's feast. That's customary in our family as well, and amounts to far more than just lip service I like to think.

So good to see Elise, Les and Ruth, even if only for a couple hours. A good chance to swap stories.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wanderers 2011.11.16

Shomar died awhile back.

The Wanderers were not ceremonious about it. We mostly just meet for coffee, form friendships, and then do our work with the dead and dying "off camera" so to speak, not as official business of Wanderers itself.

David Tver, Glenn and I are yammering about directionality and coordinate axes. I trucked out the thesis that the common pairing of "positive" with "right" in Anglo mathematics, a constant drumming, a harping, had essentially destroyed the English language as a "force for good" in the world. Too biased. Glad to use American instead, or Fowler's Amerish maybe (pronounced "a-MER-ish" in his book). Of course that's a minority view. I tend to champion hopelessly underdoggy positions.

Don keeps projecting his picture of the black swan. I have a few of those too. Same one I'm pretty sure.

Nine of us here this morning. Our new guest, Bill Harris, is a retired general ophthalmic surgeon. After listening to us banter for 45 minutes, and watching us watch Jetman and a mechanical bird on Youtube, he raised the topic of the Occupy movement / revolution. The notion of "corporate personhood" was raised at some point. I held my tongue, no ethnic slurs against "voodoo economists" and their superstitions issued from my lips. "When in Rome..."

Bill is a "go to" guy when it comes to convening town halls, ignites, whatever GOSCON-like follow-ups we stage in the wake of OPDX / October 6. Small neighborhood gatherings are expected in some zip codes (not unlike Wanderers). We shall see.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Twists

Visiting Non-Human

The "petting zoo" as I call it, has filled with more animals that people like to hunt, feel are fair game. In a puritanical society, hunting down one's fellow man for sport is OK, as the latter may be stereotyped as possessed by demons and therefore of Satan's army.

Portlanders have inherited some of those "holy crusade" memes that made the Teutonic Knights the terror of Varmia in Copernicus's day (I've been reading Dava's latest). He was always being vexed by this gang of retard-bullies (as he probably saw them).

Caught up in the hunt will be lots of cuties still in there (talking OPDX campus), like dolphins and whales caught in the trawler's net, even some best-in-show kitties. Why be cruel to such innocents? America eats its young, spits out its old.

So the outrage might build, generating yet another backlash, and maybe a Thirty Years War or something suitably religious.

Saints, statues, more souvenirs... ain't European culture grand?

FNB pulled out yesterday (I took down the sign myself) because these are not ethnic vegans and our food was going to waste -- precisely the thing we're about countering (food waste). There's only so much we might do for the bloodthirsty.

The Anglo-Euros (mostly English speaking) never mounted an impressive show of their ability to provide social services, even though they have the technology. I didn't see eye exams happening, nor drug counseling, with attractive brochures about cool farm-like schools around the state, where ranchers have realized the bonanza to be had in helping street youth get a grip.

I've been storyboarding such schools for a high turnover student body of wannabe and actual diplomats, mixing it up, making networks that'd dampen the outward war impulse. The usual USIS / USIA kind of thing, back when the USA still had a State Department (since dissolved as far as I know -- or did I miss something?).

To that end, OPDX has been useful. I've seen more up close how a real estate bubble works. You could barely get a tent spot after the launch of the new zip code area (a proposal), whereas now they're all underwater, more like Stockton, CA. Sleeping bags come in faster than people can use 'em, so they get trashed after one night in the rain. It's a culture built on throwing away, as kids around the #OccupyIraq camps will be happy to attest (not much of an exit plan there either, or "endgame" as we say, except in some rarefied circles like in Obama's Wars).

Portland's future property values depend a lot on how the plan to put the parks to some serious uses, for civilian trainees working on their camping / disaster relief skills etc., get implemented on the ground. We've billed ourselves as high IQ, so don't want to go bezerkezoid in too embarrassing a fashion. How would we "put a bird on it" then?

Schools are under the same pressure as the parks (many tempting athletic fields, some in mixed use parks, like at Grant), given all the new gear and their need to develop GIS / GPS skills.

Currently, USA kids are getting leap frogged right and left, given the ineptness of their adult supervisors. Effective andragogy is almost unknown here -- only a few early adopters by the looks of things. Democracy is in a shambles. The Idiocracy (a mob psychology) reigns supreme (much like Beef Supreme in Idiocracy).

Basically, if your school has no electric ATVs, you're going to be in some serious competition with those that do. Put the key in your kuffka ("stuffka for your kuffka" is a kristmas kampaign).

Monday, November 07, 2011

More Democracy

Oregon Live / Comments

Citizen Participation

Friday, November 04, 2011

Visiting BizMo

Emergency Vehicle
:: emergence by emergency ::

Converging Movements
:: converging movements ::

Decoding Symbols
:: spin doctor symbols ::

Thursday, November 03, 2011


They keep calling for an "end game" around OP / OPDX, which I like, because it connects us to chess, a game vested in symbolism and symbolic logic. Keep Portland Cerebral, is a synonym for Weird.

So here it is: a City that Works needs to focus on public restrooms, keeping them safe, operable and open, even if that means paying guards / janitors / interns 24/7. My friend Teresina did duty like that in Tokyo, as a part of her Buddhist training. We have lots of Buddhists in Portland. 1 + 1 = 4.

This commitment to public health and safety might not make sense to some in the Business Alliance. Like AOI, like OPDX, we're talking about a mixed bag of ideologies, a "can of worms" as it's known in the business. However Metro and enlightened urban planners know that public restrooms, their state (status), provide a measure of a city's friendliness, to globe trotters following their Lonely Planet guidebooks, not just to "unemployables" (the "untouchables" of today's USA's central casting system, a leftover from English in some dimensions -- cite "unscannables" in Idiocracy).

The other "concession" won from the City was a commitment to more of those Town Halls, like we were promised in 2004 in connection with the Bucky play and president Obama's victory. Hopes were high back then. But then enlightened civic dialog failed to occur in large degree, because "we the people" were frightened of those "death panels", a social services bureaucracy that seemed out of control, and quite willing to plunge us back into Dickensian scenarios. I understand the Tea Party's chagrin.

Nevertheless, the Wanderers format, also Lightning Talks, Ignite Portland, OMSI Science Pubs etc., prove we're able to self-govern in such formats. We're not complete idiots at the end of the day, or at least not all of us are. We have gorgeous theaters, churches, other facilities, where chit chat may take place, and in more of an integrated space, in the sense of more voices being heard, and also acted upon. Different chiefs, different chefs, different channels. More diversity in other words. What cerebral centers are good at, Cape Town too (we have some back and forth traffic).

And here's the kicker: OPDX might wanna do this again next year and put even more pressure on those poor civic heads. We have less than a year to prepare. The kinds of artifact on display will have morphed a lot by then (better gear!), given all the new investment in civilian sector tech. More toyz (including more sensors), better communications, even broader participation. More democracy.

We need to fix those public restrooms so we can have more democracy. In the meantime, we appreciate what the unions are doing to supply those portable units. Labor is backing this effort, as we're talking about meaningful work, necessary infrastructure, not just digging and filling ditches in some parody USA. The New Deal was the real deal, thank you FDR.

But this may require some serious bulldozing, I don't know. All over Portland, we're beefing up the civic infrastructure. That's already happening, but don't call it a "stimulus". This is normal healthy tissue building.

Look at the Moscow subway system. Look at cities that really pour their hearts into making their streets safe. I could wander Rome at 2 AM as a tween, a tempting target. The Romans know city life better than many. Maybe it's even safer today.

The commitment to cycling and cyclers is outstanding here. For all the talk of "road rage" on both sides, I've also seen a great deal of politeness and civility, and not only from Trimet drivers. Average civilians in large SUVs will sometimes gladly surrender the right of way in an effort to be accommodating.

PDX is just that good at citizen diplomacy.

That's why our Village is more like the petting zoo at The Grotto. Just a lot of cute people, needing to use the bathroom from time to time. We pray for them, and we love them.