Saturday, April 28, 2012

World Affairs / Afghanistan

Ministry Speaker

I don't think I've ever gone to the Schnitzer on two consecutive nights.  I'm living the life of the high society deacon, pillar of my social club, balding, cigar smoking.  OK, not quite the right characterization, but around the theater, I can feel my identify field fluctuating, as other guys play me, or me them or whatever.

I'd hustled over from the salad bar at Safeway, enjoying the excuse to wolf food, alone, though I missed finding croutons.  I dropped the plastic container in torture taxi, having been trained to not treat plastic as an infinitely cheap waste product, contrary to cultural conditioning.

Thanks to PSU for the heads up and for snagging me a general seating ticket.

I got in fairly close on the far left.  The ushers didn't harass me about the no-flash pix -- I'm somewhat in the habit from ISEPP events, where I'm nominally on the video team (and the board), sometimes back stage.  World Affairs Council has different rules.

Sima Samar is my contemporary and she remembers calmer more intelligent days, as I do.  My family hopped a bus in Peshawar that time, not especially iron clad or anything, and had an enjoyable ride to Kabul, not in fear for our lives, enjoying the famous Khyber Pass for its scenery and history.

Glenn Baker had enjoyed living around here too, in Islamabad, occasionally getting to Kabul for inter-school sporting events.  Next, our family hopped an Aeroflot in Kabul and flew to Tashkent, for friendly time with the Borats or whomever, on to Moscow etc.

Looking back, the 1970s were probably a high point in civilization.  Not long before, I'd worked with Palestinians in Ramallah helping with a swimming pool construction project.  Our local crew had explosives, with state authorities not being that worried.

No wall or anything that stupid yet.

Bobby Fischer was at the peak of his career, at the apogee of the Cold War (at its least idiotic).

The long slow slide into Idiocracy was yet to begin, with Fox News leading the charge.  Leave it to Australians to dumb it all down.  Talk about cultural imperialism.

Anyway, Sima is spearheading a long, slow (fast in geological time) slog by the XX half of the species to cut itself a better deal.  This is a global, multi-ethnic struggle and it's easy to pick on the Taliban or some other group while applying some double standard to one's own club or whatever ("we allow women, as long as they let us run things").

So far, I'd say the XXs are going about it intelligently, with many XYs actually helping, including Barack.  Hillary (not present) drew some big applause from the audience.

I'm happy we have powerful women like Sima Samar doing brave and intelligent service.  I'm not as concerned as she is about Iranian influence over some TV and news channels, not to mention ISPs.  That's a neighboring country after all.

It'd be just like NATO to go on a bombing spree and take out all the transmission towers, given its own weak PR.  Shades of Belgrade, where the out of control Clinton administration grounded its ship and blew up the Chinese Embassy.  Like I was saying, the world got seriously stupid really fast, as the aging boomers rose to power.

The era of total incompetence (and hyper-specialization) was upon us.

I'm still thinking Jordan is somewhat in the lead in countering old XY hierarchies, keeping them from just assuming they're entitled and behaving in brutal fashion.  Here and there, pockets of men will demonstrate true leadership skills and civilization will benefit.

Lets celebrate intelligence wherever we find it.  Sometimes it pays to be "gender blind".

There's no reason we can't have more inter-visitation of this kind (Cascadia - Central Asia), with less obstruction from WDC / State.  Sima had gone to Bend as well.

The story about getting visas was just another reminder of how higher education has not yet fulfilled its promise to humanity.

Lets hope the pendulum starts swinging the other way again.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Science / Religion


I was pleased Tara could join us again.  We've about run out of ISEPP lectures for the two of us at the same table, though perhaps there will be times.  I let her off at the entrance to the Schnitzer, while taking the car around to the City Park on 13th, just north of the Multnomah County Library.  I returned to the theater through the back entrance on the park blocks and didn't find Tara again until the Q & A.

Philip Clayton tells some interesting history and plays brief clips of key people, a lecture style I think he pulls off.  He's an innovative guy.  I should be forgiven for my esoteric immersion lately in the Homer Davenport story, with links to Homer Simpson and therefore... Ned Flanders.  If he'd said "okaly dokaly" I'd have cracked up out loud.  "They'd probably like him at Earlham."  "What's that supposed to mean" (laughing).  Then it turned out he was Quaker.  So I was probably right.

Portlanders are pensive, serious thinkers.  I'm not saying Portland is the only introspective city.  I think it helps to have Quakers, even if only a few.  Have esoteric Buddhist sects if you're lucky.

Science and religion had been getting along pretty well.  I was surprised he didn't mention Teilhard de Chardin.  I asked during the Q & A if he didn't think the best religions could still be ahead of us.  Instead of trying to make the old ones get along better, why aren't we busier inventing new ones.  We've learned a lot from these many civilizations, why not kick start a bunch of new ones?  Philip responded with the idea of retro-fitting or rehabilitating old ones.  Much more could be done with the teachings of Jesus than Christianity had ever yet tried, so why not re-animate from within an existing tradition?  I guess I wouldn't see it as either / or.  Inventing new religions is likewise a process of reinventing old religions.  Kneed that clay.

Anyway (about twenty years ago was it?) that science / religion rapprochement all went kablooey and a major culture war got underway in which science and religion would appear to fight in a bitter way again.

For many, this felt like a throw back detour into a darker age.

Clayton's plea, transmitting Bronowski's (I remember that guy, a TV personality), was that we overcome the current impasse, the either / or mentality, and stop getting in one anothers' way.  Portlanders couldn't find much to argue with there and left the theater upbeat, was my impression.

Tara and I adjourned to the dinner, joining Jeff and a co-worker from Rumblefish.  The waiters were generous with me in particular when pouring red, perhaps for kindnesses exchanged, or so it seemed to me and Don.  Missed Nirel  (CSN) and other favorite people -- some just because they were at other tables, and we left before too late.

We seemed a small crowd.  Terry quizzed Tara about where she was going to college.  We talked about her 3rd place win in the state in a team she co-founded and co-led to glory.

I've been very privileged to have been a father twice over, plus there's always that dad vibe.  The orbit through this theater, this hotel, has been a nurturing and satisfying one.  My thanks to Terry and the much larger cast that makes it possible, out to Mentor Graphics and beyond.

We also talked about DMSO and MSM, both stocked on the health food aisle.  You should not be surprised when close to the Linus Pauling neighborhood that you hear lots of complicated "molecule talk" regarding the possible pathways whereby the various ingredients might do their work.  Terry talked about chemical "chaperons" in the body, which may accompany complex molecules with a propensity to miss-fold, thanks to some inherited defect, and cause them to fold correctly nevertheless (hence the term "chaperon" although "coach" and/or "guardian" might also gain traction).

After this enjoyable night out and some time with other Wanderers (ISEPP's cultish fandom), I retreated to the bat cave to catch up with my work.  Lots of people have an interest in Python these days.  Yes, I help whip that up, not ashamed to say that I do, no siree.  Here's a computer language that can take you places.  Not a waste of time to learn.  Steve, just back from points east, is in the same line of work.

For followup:  daft punk & IVM (back to designing those religions, Subgenius at work).


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our Hero Mr. Ed

We were inner circle among inner circle last night at Jack London Bar, a bar beneath a bar near 4th and Alder downtown.  Gus Frederick of Silverton was giving a far more refined and fleshed out talk regarding the Homer Davenport scenario, beginning with his mystical mother, who had premonitions of his genius as a future cartoonist (and died when he was 3), followed by a succession of Gump-like events, except this guy was more bell curved another way.

In these circles, animals besides humans are held in high esteem.  We don't just appreciate our pets, they're family sometimes.  Such was Homer about chickens (fighting cocks especially) and horses (Arabians above all others).  They ran his life, one could say, and helped give him material, as the non-human world is a constant satire regarding our own.  Such an animist was the world's most highly paid political cartoonist at one point, a Hearst figurehead and friend.
What is the statue of the girl on the bow of old pirate ships called?
The statutes very from ship to ship, but general its just called a figureheads. Thank you for using ChaCha! Answered by Jeanette F. -
Homer was one of the cool people, in with Mark Twain, who thought the aggressive thrust against the Filipinos, later repeated in Vietnam, was vicious and stupid. America is home to a lower strain that expresses itself through naked imperialism. These lowlife way over-compensate for their inferiority complex, and we all pay the price.

He also was friends with Theodore Roosevelt, having helped get him elected with some memorable cartoons. TR lent enthusiastic support to Homer's dreams of important Arabian stallions to North America, and in this exercise he succeeded.  Homer was personable, affable, befriendable, and became the toast of the Bedouin during his stay with them.  Upon this basis, Oregon continues to build a diplomatic safe corridor, uninterrupted by the forces of disquiet and shallow discord (not to be confused with Deep Discord and primeval chaos, which has been discovered to be innate and protective).

Mr. Ed the TV star horse, was a direct descendent from one of these imported Arabians, on his mom's or dad's side I forget which, the slides will tell. {Mom's side, from Wadduda].

Gus's talk was scholarly, entertaining and well researched.  Another storyteller from Silverton, Gordon Munro, who has likewise specialized in stories about Homer, regaled us with three or four after the intermission.

I got there and back by bus 14.  Steve Silverman and I talked about chickens, which turned out to be apropos.  Many other Wanderers were present, including Nate, Jon Bunce.  I took advantage of the occasion to notice we were in ToonTown, as the slides readily make obvious.

Matt Goening was on recently, according to Glenn, finally admitting to Oregon's being the Silverton, but then joking he says that about all the Silvertons.  That's where The Simpsons (simpletons) are from.

The Quaker threads, which converge with Wanderers and Subgenius for me, have been flying by thick and fast. I'll do more to chronicle later, with the benefit of hindsight.

Lifting from the thick traffic, this from Tom Head:
"Also, people who could not attend tonight might be interested in the links to "Speak Truth to Power" at and to Dan Seeger's talk "Quakers and African Americans approach the New Jerusalem" at
As you can see, more of that Bayard Rustin theme, so prominent at the AFSC meeting at HQS the other weekend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wanderers 2012.4.18


We're enjoying a total geek out this morning, doing Solar System 101.  Jim Buxton is studying various periodic phenomena relating to Earth's tilt.  David DiNucci has his book ready to go, so we're looking at that too.  Lew was part of the hiking group finding Ki-a-Kuts Falls in the 1990s, his idea for the name, and that's been reviewed on TV recently.

I'm short on sleep these days.  Our Ministry has shifted into high gear.  The joint statement from the NCTM and MAA opens the door to open source and/or "gnu" mathematics (a pun on "new math").

I completed a course on accreditation in the USA jurisdiction, which social process relies on NGOs and the natural tendency of institutions to want to set standards.  Affiliations crisscross every which way as USAers police each other.

The Earth zips along at a greater clip in the calendar around January, though given the orbit isn't that far from circular, these "equal areas in equal times" phenomena are not highly pronounced.  The motion is slightly slower at the aphelion.  Animations tend to exaggerate.

Also, it takes another four minutes a day to turn around a little more to see the Sun in the same place, given the shifting viewpoint.  So that means adding four minutes a day every day, which adds up to about  a day's worth a year.

Nikki wondered if I was prepared for such a big bill.  Self employment takes its high tolls.  My income was 1099 based in 2011.  I said good bye to some $13K in one evening (including Oregon State taxes).

We'll scrape together some $ for debate clothes for Tara (she's combating at the state championship soon) and to fix the dryer.  We'll slowly rebuild.  In the meantime, I'm a harder target when it comes to politicking.  The numbers all check, within assertAlmostEqual floating point limits (geek joke).

Quakers were mostly in the dark about the minute on Occupy that was going around, so Business Meeting decided to kick the can down the road on that one.  Josh "the rooster" von Kuster, was helping shepherd and officiate, though Occupy had its own representative (no, not me).

I don't see a need to conduct these national / international affairs at the NPYM level also, other than through the AFSC rep structure, which is active and high bandwidth.  Is FCNL involved in Arab Spring as well?  -- a question for Leslie (her nomination is seasoning).

I sent around a memo suggesting NPYM no longer bother with a Peace and Social Concerns Committee that meets face-to-face but once a year.  Our circuits need to be faster and more responsive than that.

Not that I'm giving orders (this isn't the USN).  I'm more just signalling Pam that Nominating could and should carry a lighter load (consistent with NPYM's founding goals per the lore (goal:  minimize the need for business at Annual Session)).

Thanks to networks and networking (alluding to the Grunch book), Quakers are moving to resonate at higher frequency (so should we call them Buzzers? -- like cell phones on vibrate?).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

FNB Bizmo

FNB BizMo Keith's Bizmo Visiting FNB Chief

Spring Cleaning
FNB Listserv (Portland SE Chapter)

Saturday, April 07, 2012

John Carter (movie review)

This is one of those movies where it makes sense to encrypt / decrypt in various ways.  That Edgar Rice Burroughs would be pressing the letters of his own name, in code, on that tomb, supposedly trying to get in, while clearly the outside is likewise his imagination, suggests his own uncle is his alter ego, his heroic self projected large against the big screen of Plato's cave.

The Victorian escape to another astral plane was through death, with spiritualism persisting on into the time of Thomas Edison.  Technology and the lore of outer space, extraterrestrials, were beginning to gain a firm foothold and meld with the old plot lines.  An out of body experience would take you to Mars.  Your Earth body would lie, vulnerable, like a corpse, while you experienced your superpowers (and limitations) in a next life, with new love.

Carter clearly thinks beyond the grave already, as he continues to feel a bond to a partner in a former life, one we see the end of.  We understand Carter's bravery as a kind of no longer caring, as if giving himself over to the dream of life, in despair, not caring that much when it'll end.  People see him as crazy.  He barely holds his world together.  A spider, a cave, gold.  Not much to go on.  No friends.  A drifter.

Lying motionless in that cave, as if bitten by a snake, he takes on another life.  One could easily see it as a projection of the stories he's learned as a boy.  Roman soldiers.  Chariots.  Great battles in the plains.  The beginnings of airships.  The beginnings of large scale machinery, mixed with the delicacy of optics.  All these fragments of his 1800s existence make it to his next life.  He is once again a hero.  He celebrates loyalty, bravery and compassion among the peoples of another planet.

The moment he realizes he's on Mars is reminiscent of that moment in Idiocracy, when it all comes together for our protagonist.  There's the problem of going back, whether this would ever be possible.  The new world has its own attractions, its people, its problems.  There's the temptation to stay.

The really powerful bald guys that seem to orchestrate everything, masters of disguise, are reminiscent of the Q in Star Trek.  They know about all the worlds, including Virginia in the post Civil War era. 

Outwitting these guys (their women not shown) is part and parcel of the human heritage; our destiny (or calling) is to rival the angels in bringing glory to God.  We demonize those whom we hope to surpass.  To just be the puppet of the angels, without rising to their level of authority and immortality, is what spineless sell outs would do, and hence our human enemies (not as noble as ourselves).

So is this really Mars, or are we just talking about "a next world"? 

Given the Victorian themes of poison, even suicide, a need to find lost love, the theme of death cannot be avoided, nor is it.  Edgar himself is dying and going to heaven in inheriting fantastic wealth.  His uncle urges him to a life of adventure.