Saturday, October 31, 2015

Quaker Doings

Carol (mom) and I are at the meetinghouse for what promises to be an all day meeting.  Joyce was somewhat disapproving of my showing up with a Diet Dr. Pepper, but as long as I don't take it in the meeting room, Quaker doctrine specifies no problemo with caffeine (68 mg per 20 fl oz).  Our Coordinating Committee (NPYM CC) clerk is still coming in from the airport (PDX).

Annis is here at the table with Carol and I, along with two others from out of state.  Some people have traveled some distance for this meeting.  We happen to live in the neighborhood and often walk it, even Carol (with a walker) but today we took the car.  Someone was in the wheelchair parking slot (a Volvo) so we went to the Mazama's parking lot next door (that's an arrangement we've worked out).

I'm here as Technology Clerk for the region.  We have fairly light IT needs (event registration, a regional directory, a website) but I still regard our work as cutting edge, as how Quakerism embraces or shuns technology is in many ways going to be definitive of its future profile in the world.  I want clerking, as a role, to include SQL / noSQL savvy, as a matter of course.  Computer literacy is simply literacy, in this day and age.

Choosing to meet on an important holiday, Halloween, was a mistake I think.  Our NPYM Secretary was unable to attend for this reason, as it's a major business day in her line of work.  She's the paid staff in this picture.  The rest of us are volunteering.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Portland Doings

Carol is being recorded downstairs, where I've cleared out of the living room.  I've been camping out in the Steve Holden Chair of Computer Science, keeping the dog company while I promulgate Martian Math.

Today I have lunch with some friends.  This morning:  my walk, meeting up with Glenn.

In case of a major earthquake, we can expect liquefaction of the muck under the fuel depots along Hwy 30, west side.  The heavy equipment is mostly in SE.  If the bridges fail, we'll be in trouble.  Fortunately we have one of the best gravity fed water systems on the East Side.

Oh wait, they're planning to disconnect that and make us dependent on electricity.  The best earthquake backup system is to be purposely disabled by "city fathers".  As Glenn put it, Portland is built atop ignorance.  Just look at those homes on stilts in the West Hills.  He wrote about all this in the Southeast Examiner.

I've been debating Vote By Mail with a former PSF elections maestro, still active in e-Voting.  My concluding comment:
Some N8V reservations e.g. Warm Springs, have only one post box in a radius of 40 miles. Getting to a "polling place" (USPO) is well nigh impractical (there's no home pick up or delivery on the rez) but then "as a zip code" the N8Vs know they'll continue to be punished regardless, as that's the white man's way, i.e. their votes count for nil as it is.
When it comes to fairness, I think that's as scarce as [ U-235 or whatever ] i.e. there's not much of it in human affairs, never has been, but democratic models do help us remember it as a liberal value. Thinking about "free and fair elections" helps us create more fairness, even if we have yet to have a national election, in the US at least, that would truly count as either.
It's easy to judge in hindsight right?  No election was fair when blacks couldn't vote.  No election was fair when women couldn't vote.

Since those two prohibitions were rolled back to some degree, other barriers to voting have crept in, and if blocking voting doesn't turn the tide, there's always rigging and miss-counting.

We need a lengthy documentary series on the history of voting and democracy, don't we?  An old theme in these blogs.

The Mayor, Charlie Hale, has decided to not run again and instead focus on strategy.  He's right that many key decisions need to be made during the remainder of his term.  He sounded in full possession of his faculties on NPR the other day, quoting Monty Python a few times.

NPR is reassuring us that even though they didn't pick Boeing for the latest boondoggle, the Pentagon is still engaged in prime contractor irrigating in our region, per usual.  They spin that as "good news" somehow, not sure how.  Jobs I guess?   Is that a bribe?

Certainly it's not about keeping our edge in engineering as the military is prohibited from accessing our best science (any military, except when it comes to health care for the injured) -- a truism, as the best science is not about killingry (duh).

We were hearing on the radio yesterday, about how the US discards its own soldiers left and right.  One DUI and you're discharged, without honors, denied benefits, after sometimes decades of service, and even if you have injuries (especially if you have injuries).

Human resources are treated like so much garbage, collateral damage, so the war machine can afford to keep running.  Use 'em up and spit 'em out.  America eats its young.  "The true costs must never be admitted let alone paid" is the business model.

Like the Taliban, the US Army vets could use more professional, less backward, outside medical services, like from Doctors Without Borders.  The secret tape recordings of Army psychiatrists prove they harbor and protect quacks, a kind of terrorist.

The leadership provided by Judeo-Islamo-Christian cultures is somewhat pitiful isn't it, witness the Middle East.  All they know how to do is fight, right?  The Middle East is hardly a poster child for the so-called "prophetic" religions.  New Yorkers are more law abiding.  Bishop Tutu made this point.

We already knew that about quacks in psychiatry from the torture-authorizing BS artists in the civilian rank and file.  That whole branch of the medical profession (psychiatry) is fighting for respectability at this point, given it can't seem to disown its own bad apples.

In Asylum District, "crazy" as in "bat-shit crazy" is becoming a badge of honor almost.  What they call "sanity" in military doctrine never seems to set much of a standard.  Helicopter gunships get involved, and sanity is out the window, once again.  I'm glad the Pacific Northwest makes other investments.

At lunch we talked about Heidegger quite a bit.  I went home resolved to Google up something interesting.  I liked Richard Rorty's summary at the end of this BBC documentary (above).  He, along with Walter Kaufmann, were two of my teachers at Princeton.  Rorty actually read my thesis.  This documentary on Ho Chi Minh was interesting too.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Advice to the Sanders Campaign

Behind a Fence

As I've mentioned on Facebook, I agree with the view that the more imperial-minded in the media need to start closing doors on Bernie, regardless of his populist appeal.  His USA has too many inconceivable elements whereas they see Hillary as a known quantity.  These journalists simply feel more confidant, more ready to write about her trajectory, whereas Bernie, like Donald, is a wild card.  They'd have to do a lot more homework, a daunting prospect.

My suggestion to the Bernie Sanders campaign is to take the edge off "socialism" by advertising how Americans practice military socialism with dignity and professionalism, co-owning, as a people, huge fleets of monster weapons, intimidating to say the least.

Sure, a percentage of "we the people" may feel suckered into buying a lot of these toyz, aircraft carriers in particular, but hey, the Chinese and Russians build those too, so if there's a sucker in the room, at least the sucker is not alone.  We have a fellowship of the ring thing going, a community of dolts.  Hasn't it always been this way:  stuck at the bottom of a gravity well in a pile of Fallen humans.  Welcome to the Big Apple (in the sense of planet -- New York City a cosmopolitan mirroring thereof).

That's why "making the world safe for socialism" is really no longer a battle.  We won!  The Americans, Chinese and Russians all practice military socialism in one form or another.  Each has a "people" (pueblo) that owns vast arsenals and feels patriotic about it.  Nuclear weapons, wow.  That's socialism in action.  Rising through the ranks in the military is also a form of social mobility, a way of circumventing hereditary classisms.  Again, all the weaponry states practice this from of ladder climbing (social promotion).

So whereas Socialism is in good shape around the world, Democracy could use some stronger defendants.  Relatively few had a say in making these great decisions (e.g. to go whole hog into nuclear waste as a primary investment, which it now is for the foreseeable future), including Einstein, who didn't think the US would actually go beyond testing.  He regretted that the physics community had helped the rest of humanity come to the low IQ brink of self destruction through stupidity.  Scientists in the main are not eager to see their knowledge exploited towards purely misanthropic ends, with those few Dr. Evil exceptions.

Once we take the edge off "socialism" then we can get back to thinking about both capitalism and democracy and how to best serve them and their flagship institutions.  Bernie has never said we should not have private ownership or even secret ownership, which was the original goal of the LLC.

When investors wanted to back risky ventures, starting in the early days of the East India Company, they wanted to limit their exposure or potential loss, without closing the door to future benefits should the risk actually pay off e.g. should one's proverbial "ship come in" laden with scarce hard-to-come-by luxuries.  You'd get your share, some to keep, some to resell for a pretty penny.

Without some measure of control and self protection, a wealthy doctor, for example, would not wager on an adventure.  Not if the widows and orphans left in the wake of said venture could haul said doctor before the magistrate as a scrooge and war profiteer who only faked being a doctor while making sure the war was fed.  The public had to understand that his personal liability was only up to a point, and no further, plus all the good doctor's investments were philanthropic and socially responsible.  Buying shares in "Killing Commies Inc." went out of style in the 1960s, at least among the 0.1%.

Indeed, buying shares in "America Inc." has not been as trendy ever since the Imperial Presidency got out of control (JFK onwards).  Truman saw it coming but couldn't head it off.  Allen Dulles was one of the chief perps, but only one of them.

Not that the USA was really set up to be an empire in any constitutional sense -- it wasn't.  A federation of states is more like a strong alliance.  And that's where Bernie should jump in:  remind voters that investing in America could be sexy again, if only she were a little more like Canada, a little less like a Bridge Troll.  Lose the battle ax and camo, step into something less thuggish, and you'll do better in the ratings.  Or should that be Donald's line?

Finally, lets remember that workers of the world have as much a need to invest (their labor and its fruits, their savings) and limit exposure.  A safety net is so important because it empowers the worker, like the rich doctor, to take the risk of retraining in some new skill set.  That's like leaping from one trapeze to another in a circus act, and if the safety net is not there, why risk it?  Better to stay stuck in a rut, trapped in a dead end job.  The economy stagnates and dies when workers cannot afford to jump ship and take on new challenges.  That's the flip side of limiting liability for the estate-minded.

Bernie is already strong on the need for a safety net, so lets help bolster capitalism and celebrate its embrace of Open Source, as a bridge to a more civilian-minded socialism.  Given the military is already socialized, lets focus on the benefits to the civilian sector, of 21st century engineering.  That's where we have many capitalist celebrities eager to talk on TV.  Some of them would be happy to promote Bernie.  Silicon Valley is not pre-committed to the Republicans I don't think, despite the reputation of Venture Capitalists.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Disarmament Degree Program?


Having toured the Linus and Ava Helen Pauling Special Collection, then regrouped to discuss strategy towards creating a less morbid culture, our grand finale for the evening was to hear Hideko Tamura Snider talking about what it takes to overcome being atom bombed.  She was ten years old, in Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945.

OSU has no special track for Disarmament Specialists that I know about, however the auditorium at La Salle, was filled to capacity (this was the smaller auditorium, seating 200-250).  Some of us stood around the edges or sat on the floor (that's what I did, having gotten there a bit late with Carol -- who got close to the front row, but sans hearing device).

Hideko's slant was to encourage her fellow humans with assurances that each one of us is endowed with the capacity to overcome extreme discouragement and disappointment of the type she endured.  She's concerned that postmortems of atomic warfare neglect the psychological aspects in favor of the easier to understand physical aspects.

Witnessing the intense suffering of others without being able to assist is one of those traumatizing experiences.  Her own sense of abandonment was intense, as an only child who had lost her mother as the world turned nightmarish.

Her father, also a survivor, and in the Japanese military at the time, was placed on cleanup duty (she found out later).  Whereas they piled the bodies high along the river for cremation, her dad was sensitive to Western culture, specifically impressionist painting (soldiering was never his preference, only his duty), so he insisted the charred remains of US POWs killed by the bomb be buried instead.

In Hideko's case, her resilience traces to deep curiosity, a desire to fit the puzzle pieces together and figure out what happened.  She would read incessantly, including existentialist authors, i.e. those who deal with the human condition in some profound way.  This ability to deeply process is, in Hideko's view, part of the human design, which is both flawed and wonderful.

The mostly college age audience was quite engaged.  Her delivery, though going over stories she'd told in public a thousand times (figuratively), was full of spontaneity and wisdom.  She alluded to drugs and drug taking, suicidal ideation, the importance of friends.  These were themes to which many in her audience could easily relate.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Email Woes

So far the story about the CIA director John Brennan having his emails hacked reads more like a tabloid article than authentic news.  I'd expect such a headline in the supermarket checkout lane.  The details are thin and all the articles simply repeat one another.  I'm fine with writing it off as a hoax for now, but a good one for sparking debate, like the face on Mars.

The timing couldn't have been better in terms of reminding people how easy it is to pretend to having a particular identity.  Faking one's identity is much more common than stealing someone else's.  For one thing, that someone else may still be in the picture, fighting to terminate their credit cards.  Much easier than identity theft is contriving a phony background and getting that to snowball somehow i.e. to enter that hallowed "realm of believably" -- a royal realm.

Of course I'm talking about Wayne Simmons, a loudmouth on Fox with all kinds of opinions, very much a "white guy know-it-all" of the kind we have in great overabundance.  Getting him and every guy like him to stop self-promoting with phony CIA affiliations would really help us move faster towards reconciliation on a number of fronts.  Call it a "truth process" if you will.

The timing was ripe because the AOL story reminds people that one needs to fill out a lot of paperwork to be in government.  Those claiming CIA affiliations are mostly posers spinning it out of whole cloth, living their fantasy lives, inflicting it on the rest of us.  Simmons lived as a character in a novel of his own making, but then that's what TV is all about in this day and age:  purveying fiction.  Fox News is entertainment.

As the hacked AOL story reminds us, Brennan had to fill out 47 pages or whatever it was to get his security clearance.  Unless you have a form like that on file, don't try to be a pundit on Fox as some former secret agent.  You need to get your ducks in a row.   I hope Fox doesn't blame people "right out of college" for a lack of vetting, like Joe Concha does
I say this as a host myself who has similar experts (former FBI, CIA) on all the time in a guest/panelist capacity, and it’s not the job of a host/anchor to vet every guest that comes on… as that would be a full-time occupation onto itself. Bottom line: most bookers at cable news networks are right out of college and some depend on booking agencies, which themselves do little vetting outside of a quick internet search.
Keeping it real goes with the territory.  If you're an "anchor" you're responsible for protecting your own gravitas.  Isn't that what's at issue in Truth as well, the movie about the snafu around Dan Rather, one time CBS News anchor?  Why apply a double standard?

Of course this tightening up around vetting leaves a lot of bozos struggling to keep to their narratives.  They've maybe earned some respect in certain circles by talking up those questionable credentials, ala Simmons.  What happens to all those hot air balloons when we start wanting more pinpoint accuracy?

However the Brennan story helps here too, as one of the exhibits, a spreadsheet, highlights the volunteer (as in unpaid) nature of many an IC role.  One needn't point to or even hint at a high net worth in order to get noticed as an asset to someone's country, according to criteria that might matter to that someone (e.g. being on the CIA director's short list).  Even if just another tabloid story, it's not without a message of patriotism.

However, neither of these stories have run their full course yet.  Perhaps the "white boy stoner" who is managing to elude the FBI while talking to the New York Post and maybe CNN -- still Time-Warner whereas AOL is now a part of Verizon -- will read a statement from behind an Anonymous mask.  We haven't heard from that character in awhile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pop Culture: Tributes to Bucky Fuller

Richard Buckminster Fuller by Artichoke

Buckminster Fuller We Need You Now by Jason Ringenberger

What One Man Can Do by John Denver

Sunday, October 18, 2015


As long as the Commander in Chief is saying his lower downs goofed, in murdering all those doctors and patients, then that's what it was, a goof.  You can't "send a message" while at the same time disavowing it at the highest level.

Obama is saying point blank that no message was intended, so we're left with a "crossed wire" somewhere in the vast and gnarly bureaucracy.  Tracking this bug through the system looks like a paying job for many, so expect the investigation to take a lot of time.

I understand those who fear a message was being sent however.  If Kunduz had fallen to the Taliban, yet Doctors Without Borders continued operating (literally), that could be construed as giving aid and comfort to the enemy.  That would be like Jane Fonda going to Hanoi.

The Geneva Conventions about not targeting medical personnel, is easiest to apply in the case of one's own.  Watching wounded enemy get hauled off the field, perhaps to be rehabilitated to fight another day, puts many a general's teeth on edge.  The urge to strafe the ambulance corps and run over any wounded with tanks, runs strong in the blood.  If giving in to that were OK...

We do know that US personnel like to run over people with tanks.  That's well documented.  However in many cases these people are already dead and the point of running over them is merely to add insult to fatal injury.

The point of doing this is mostly revenge.  In putting themselves in harms way, soldiers sometimes come to harm (a statistical likelihood) and seeing one's brothers suffer feeds the rage reflex.  Running over a lot of people with tanks or other type of armored vehicle becomes a form of catharsis.  Didn't we see something similar in Waco, Texas?  The way the siege at Waco was managed pissed off Timothy McVeigh by his own account, leading to his own act of domestic terrorism.

So some within Doctors Without Borders are understandably thinking that they were being "run over" simply out of vengefulness, to send a message, a deliberate attack.  That's what the Taliban would be telling them:  "see, we told you so, this is how they operate, so why would you (or anyone) ever fight for them then?"

Releasing the cockpit dialog, both in recorded and transcript form, was a way the Pentagon had to assuage these paranoid fantasies and was the right thing to do (I'm assuming this was done with the blessing of NATO higher ups, as a part of prosecuting the ongoing "crossed wire" investigation).

Given the president's public statements, we now know the Geneva Conventions still have the respect of the Obama White House.  I expect John Kerry would underline that fact.

However there's still a gray area, symbolized by Gitmo -- the promise to close it being a promise no one is talking about right now -- wherein the Geneva Conventions apparently do not hold.   Enemy combatants have no rights, according to this dogma.  Imprisonment for purposes of inquisition is open ended in this view, synonymous with the War on Terror (also endless).

A large and growing grey area tends to occur when the formalities and legal framework supporting a just war are ignored.  In such cases the players polarize into blind loyalists, willing to do the dirty work of subverting the rule of law, versus those wanting a place in history for heroically standing up to authority and questioning the legality of one's orders from on high.  We wish more Nazis had done this, but understand whistle blowers often face retaliation.

The president still depends on a statutory framework for authority and if this framework is widely perceived to be out the window, with respect to previous norms, then even intentional messages become difficult to send, as there is no longer a legal framework to support the president's authority.  Why is the president the one to ask?  What makes the president a chief of anything?  In any role playing game, straying too far from the game's premises may drain the roles of much significance.

Some analysts have speculated the Supreme Court may need to provide some ruling soon, on whether the executive branch is within its legitimate war powers in morphing the drone war of the contractor-mercenaries into a stateless criminal operation, unauthorized by the relevant civilian authorities i.e. Congress.  Put that way, the answer is obviously no, but then the court hasn't ruled yet.

Those who believe in diplomacy tend to look to authorities for legal advice and developments in Syria especially are fragmenting the somewhat fragile consensus.  Does Syria even exist?  That's a real question.  When whole nations dissolve, how does that affect their neighbors (Europe is finding out).  Many eggheads are working overtime, looking for ways to get Humpty Dumpty (the Middle East) back together again.  One may still draw the old borders, but how does that help?

The Reagan Administration got pretty steeply involved with mercenaries in the Ollie North chapter.  How different are the Contras from the groups engaged in gray area operations, the former Blackwater and so on, claiming to somehow represent the native interests of the American people?

Perhaps we're only talking about the profit margins of a select chosen few, the Beltway Goons around the District of Columbia?  This is what Doctors Without Borders is concerned about:  that war criminals have hijacked the controls, and are now "flying the plane".  Given recent history, simply dismissing these concerns is impossible.  Coups happen, even in the US e.g. in 1963.

Lets see what the investigation (ongoing) discovers then.  Do we need someone like Richard Feynman, an outsider with credibility, to help out?   We certainly don't want Washington "blue ribbon" insiders with perceived conflicts of interest.  Several teams seem to have picked up the baton and the Pentagon appears to be cooperating fully.  It's only a matter of time before we learn more about what went wrong and what measures are being taken to prevent future gaffs of this undermining nature.

Friday, October 16, 2015

More Memories

:: inheritance and composition:  OO through the lens of cell biology ::

When you apprentice under a master, the master presumably judges when you're ready to perform in his name, or her name, lets not be sexist right off the bat.  Actually a lot of Renaissance painters let their minions (grad students) do a lot of the actual painting.  The master would sign off, literally.  That sounds like leeching, and it can become that.  Work out the dynamics yourself:  sometimes the apprentices really appreciate the opportunity and know it'll look good on their resume.  Other times they simply enjoy the company of the master and / or the work.

In reading Critical Path, you'll come across Kiyoshi Kuromiya as "adjuvant" on that book.  He'd moved to Philadelphia in his earlier years, looking for an architect to apprentice under, first finding Lloyd Khan, but then Bucky, who really impressed him as the real deal.  Kiyoshi was into elegance and good taste, so also made a name for himself as an expert in matters culinary, a writer of restaurant reviews.

Fast forward and we find Kiyoshi dying of AIDS and working hard through Congressional hearings to legalize cannabis at least for patients such as himself, who suffered from loss of appetite and the wasting away that comes with that. As cannabis users know, it often brings on a desire for food, known as "the munchies" and some AIDS patients depend on that effect to get nutrients.

Of course it was a huge blow to Kiyoshi to be losing his appetite, as one of Philadelphia's super food gurus.  Too bad his attempts to prolong his life made him a criminal in the eyes of the law.  Thanks to his activism, some zip codes have escaped those dark ages.

"Adjuvant" is a word you'll find in books on virology, and it means "catalyzing agent", which aptly describes Kiyoshi's role, also taking care of Fuller when he'd gotten to the old master stage.  As such, he was also an apprentice.  Apprentices may also catalyze.

Critical Path pays homage to e.e. cummings in the Preface, in such as way as to maybe warn the reader she's wading into someone's prose-poetry.  No one believes in the kind of evolutionary cartoons Fuller tended to use, with whales and dolphins heralding the arrival of some two legged counter-part in some literal sense.  Is he trying to conjure the god Neptune then?  He certainly plunges in to a mariner-like yarn, and a tall tale.  What's believable here?

If he was implying humans and dolphins had a pre-Earth relationship or were maybe even the same species on another planet, he should have come right out and said so.  It's just not clear what literal meaning to attach to his Speculative Prehistory, especially in light of Tetrascroll.  His science fiction allowed not warp travel exactly, but something akin to hyperspace.  I suppose we could say he allowed for reincarnation on other planets, but that just sounds goofy and he never said that anyway.

Perhaps I'm more the uncertified apprentice.  I admired and learned from a great master, but I was not an adjuvant nor apprentice exactly.  Co-conspirator, sure.  I never actually got to hang out with Bucky, except that time at Hunter College.  I did visit with Applewhite some, and KiyoshiKenneth Snelson. Allegra and I had breakfast together, some decades after Bucky died.  I've worked with some other people Fuller worked with.  We were partially overlapping scenarios in Scenario Universe.

Special Feature:
__ribs__ in Python (background for the above)
First Draft of above Python-learning video

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Gold Door 2015

Michael, in business for over thirty years in Asylum District, as owner of the Blue Butterfly, now bases himself overseas and shows up with a shipment.

Glenn is helping him unpack and set up in the downstairs area of Gold Door.  Michael is friends with the owner.  Good plan.  Click here for more pictures from both floors.


Ganesh 2

Ganesh 1

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Learning to Cook

I've found myself wishing "cooking" were closer to "chemistry" in English.  We may work to bring them closer.  The high school subject of Health is clearly mostly biology and chemistry and yet anything we put into our mouths, especially if we digest it, or absorb it, is of a culinary nature.

We're eating chemicals to make chemicals, after going to some lengths to prepare them.  Sometimes the foods we like depend on biological processes that last years, as when we age whiskeys and wines, and of course cheese...

Dietitians sometimes wish "food" and "medicine" were closer I'm sure.  One prepares food with greater attention and certainty if thinking in terms of cures, but also of developing propensities.

Sometimes the goal is simply to stay awake, and knowing what inputs lead to sleepiness... this kind of folklore, once codified, is somewhat core to one's culture.  How many trips to the refrigerator do you make in a day, and does it keep count?  How many joules in?  How many joules out?  Thinking this way, in biochemical terms, is what athletics / sports are about too, so it all fits together.

Lets go back to the science fiction wherein some tribe is rallying against "schooling" coming in, as they see it, from outside.  Schooled people need to see in what ways they become dolts as a result of schooling.

They may be ignorant of cultivation, crop cycles, food preparation and storage, chemistry of the most personal sort i.e. cooking.  "Book learning" as they say, "is where one refines and complements hands-on experience."  Book learning alone is too thin, and watching TV alone, fantasy shows mostly, is to live impoverished, with less than the minimum recommended doses of real experience and skill building.

A dull routine by day, with fictional TV shows by night, and with no time doing one's own cooking, because pressed for time:  that's a rut a lot of us work hard to avoid.  TV dinners were at first a convenience, along with the microwave ovens, but what was lost was any knowledge of chemistry and self maintenance.  Autonomy was lost.

How about watching more cooking shows that relate to health and biochemistry, while even following along, cooking yourself?  How about making those cooking shows, as a part of your schooling?  You'll need to learn editing, setting up shots, doing retakes when needed.

School, leading to treadmill habits, obedience, leading to a full time job, a boss, was maybe what the factory town-city needed, circa 1790s, and is maybe what military-minded cultures still need today, but if that's all that's meant by "school" then of course the science fiction tribe is making sense in resisting it.  We at least might appreciate their qualms.

They don't want their children to grow up Borg, eating only TV dinners and living vicariously through TV fantasy lives.  They fight the "soul snatchers" and "soul crushers" as they see those forcing their kids into schools.

Kids come home no longer proud, but with self pity in their eyes, as they've learned of their "poverty" and how their old ways, their ancestral ways, are a dead end.  News to the parents.  Who dictates what "poverty" means?  Who gets to write the curriculum?  Do the curriculum writers know how to cook?  Is the assumption we want "full time jobs" working for "owners" of enterprises?

The tribes people notice how the Borg kids are forced to use money, to suppress day dreaming in favor of "school work" (in preparation for doing it full time), and to surrender to the merchant-sponsored storytellers come nighttime.

They're thoroughly programmed, these Borg kids.  Their story tellers whisper how fortunate they are and how unlucky are those still in parts of the world where money is hardly used.

Monday, October 12, 2015

More Tales of the Cell

My third grade elementary school experience was in a British academy by the name of Junior English School.  I gradually got used to the new customs.  Changing schools is always a big deal.  I remember we learned to gather and press flowers in our science notebooks, drawing pictures of plant cell anatomy to go along with the specimens.

People have discovered a lot more about cell biology since those days.  What would third grade look like today?  Or lets fast forward to eighth grade.  There I had the privilege, the luxury, of a real medical doctor for a biology teacher.  When does that ever happen?  We were living in Rome and as a US citizen, like me, Dr. Gillespie was not licensed to practice in Italy.  So why not teach eighth grade biology?  We were blessed.

The complementary actions of photosynthesis and "mouth breathing" respiration form the overarching sun-powered narrative.  Plants cover it all, both forming sugar and oxygen on the one hand (photosynthesis) while breaking those two down, into water and carbon dioxide, during aerobic metabolism on the other.  Not being photosynthetic themselves, animals eat plants for their hydrocarbons.

In oxygen-powered metabolism, hydrocarbons such as glucose get broken down, using the released energy to power the metabolism of each cell.  The cell's cytosol and mitochondria (in cells that have them) both participate in the breakdown, with the latter especially efficient at turning ADP into ATP via a nano-motor known as ATP synthase.

ATP synthase molecules are embedded in the mitochondrial inner membrane, between its more electron-rich matrix (in internal soup) and proton-rich encasing.  The protons seek equilibrium and rush to join the matrix, but in so doing are forced through a turbine-like structure that spins on an axis at high RPM, driving the formation of ATP from ADP, the addition of one phosphor to make primary fuel of the cell.

The space between the inner and outer mitochondrial membrane was so proton-rich in the first place thanks to the presence of oxygen, which sucks the electrons available from ATP-sparked glucolysis, the initial breakdown of sugar, through a sequence of molecular pumps that push protons (hydrogen atoms minus their electrons) out from the matrix.

Even non-Eukaryota live on ATP, deriving it from a less complete breakdown of sugar, perhaps into alcohol or lactose.

The evolutionary narrative suggests the Earth's atmosphere was not oxygen-rich enough to support mitochondrial style metabolism until maybe 700 million years ago, at which point a new kind of cell emerged, the eukaryote, able to harness mitochondria as fuel cells, in turn powerful enough to sustain a nucleus with a bigger payload.

A greater repertoire of coded proteins allowed for more differentiated intra-cellular machinery, organelles in other words.

The modern cell nucleus is a vast library for the gazillion proteins needed not just by the individual cells, but by the community they form, the creature or body.

The endoplasmic reticulum, continuous with the nucleus, provides a delivery mechanism, a secretory pathway, whereby cells may deliver specialized chemicals, for example insulin, throughout the body, by means of the blood stream.  The Golgi Apparatus receives nuclear byproducts from the reticulum, and helps label them for delivery elsewhere, with signaling proteins.

Thanks to the efficiency of mitochondria and ATP synthase in particular, juggling the vast amount of information in human DNA, is now a possibility.

Coffee Shops Network for relevant visualizations

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Opening LuxBlox

One of my co-workers is visiting from California today.  I look forward to our meetup at Rogue Hall. I've already been downtown twice today by car to drop and fetch Carol from here WILPF meeting.  I'm happy to chauffeur an 86 year old internationally recognized peace activist to and from her planning meetings.

Yesterday I got a shipment of Lux Blox from the inventors.  The toy currently consists of a single atomic square tile, not unlike Polymorf (another toy) in creating a hinge when conjoined with a neighbor.  Its flexibility adds a dimension.

Since I'd just been sharing some Martian Math storyboards, I built a perimeter, a protective fence, to keep the Earthlings from barging into "the Martian apartments" a tetrahedral stack of icosahedral cocoons.  Of course I'm using Flextegrity, another product oft placed in my blogs.

Fantasy:  LuxBlox Perimeter Around Martian Apartments
:: airplane for scale ::

I put the Lux Blox toymaker in touch with a Chinese STEM toys specialist, just helping him grow the network.  Who knows if that will go anywhere, right?  We have a number of Quaker families in Portland with experience doing business in, or with, Chinese companies.  Portland is on the Pacific Rim after all.

Geometry toyz have long been a focus of mine, including work on Strange Attractors by Design Science Toys (no longer in business).  Flextegrity is not a toy.

I sometimes call 'em the "toyz" to make 'em more edgy, as in: for adults as well.  I'm into andragogy as well as pedagogy.  I don't want the stereotype of "toys are for children" to preclude older people learning some Synergetics (a philosophy) or Python (a computer language) or whatever subjects I'm currently out there teaching.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Crime Scene: Recovering Evidence

I haven't had much time to research the news.  Of course what I'm looking for is a quick turnover of crime scene evidence, such as the transcript of the cockpit voice recordings.  Every hour that goes by gives the perpetrators time to mess with the evidence.  We know that's incorrect procedure.  Any resistance to turning over the evidence should weigh heavily in the investigation to come.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Oblivion (movie review)

I'll compare this movie with Zardoz right off the bat.  Tom Cruise (vs. Sean Connery) is an outlander and he has the same job Sean had:  do the bidding of the giant Sky Head and kill all the Brutals, though in this case the face of authority is not sculpted into the Sky Shape, but shows up on screen instead.

Her name is Sally and she has the same superior "I'm in charge here" attitude as Zardoz.  Our hero has a rebellious streak but it's his housemate, Victoria, who gets to deal with Sally and they get along quite well.

In both films, our hero becomes suspicious, then resentful, and through study manages to penetrate a layer of lies and deceptions that have been perpetrated against him.

The plot comes together like a puzzle, with pieces coming in out of order.

I think Bucky fans, who know of Utopia or Oblivion, will appreciate the irony of having a Tetrahedron as the symbol of the New World Order.

Mad Max, 2001 Space Odyssey, Star Trek and The Matrix, all have some themes echoed herein.

Oblivion, literally rendered as a world without personal memories, is perpetuated by a human disloyalty to the Earth and a fascination with the possibility of an off-world existence, an after life (underworld) in the realm of Saturn.

Belief in an after life makes the current tour of duty seem OK.  This world is but a doorway to the next.

Jack Harper (Tom's character) is haunted by dreams from his personal past.

As in The Matrix, he has lived many lives in some eternal return without actually solving the puzzle and realizing the nature of his imprisonment, let alone acquiring the tools and allies to attempt escape.

Events set in motion before the memory wipe are what trigger him to at least partially re-awaken.

Obviously I'm avoiding telling the whole story, in hopes of letting viewers puzzle it out themselves.

Friday, October 02, 2015

More On Gun Control

On CBS tonight, in the wake of the Roseburg Massacre, some guy in a uniform was saying he hoped we would end these "gun free zones" so that ordinary people could defend themselves.  I wasn't sure if he meant on airplanes.  A bullet through the fuselage can be a bad thing.  What do air marshals do?

But in like a Disneyland (picture a theme park), where they hope you don't bring a gun, they could escort you out if they found one, with lots of devices doing screening, even on rides.

A Donald Duck like creature (dressed up staff) might have a lethal something-or-other.  Spy cams keep a lookout.  Signs tell you the rules.

Like I'm not saying staff engineers have to be disarmed.  This is private property.  Bring a gun here, and we'll... escort you out.  Customers are not welcome to bring their own firearms.  Leave them in the parking lot?  Much better at home.

So a "gun free zone" isn't really what the uniform was saying.  Some of the authorities are armed, but they're also carefully screened.  They don't sneak around collecting armaments and plotting revenge, like the profile student shooter, or the Unabomber, another coward.

They've also trained in how to use these weapons, when forcing everyone to do so is pretty severe.  Only if you promise to also learn a computer language (yes, with tests).  Tit for tat.

I'm not for solitary confinement by the way, unless the prisoner begs for it while having viable non-tortuous alternatives, and even then only for intervals (not too long).

I think establishments should be able to advertise "gun free", conferences too.  Make it a badge (gun with a line through it) and a part of the Code of Conduct.  It's explicit.

That way, if a gun clatters to the floor, it's an embarrassment, as it should be.  You'll be a hero for turning in an illicit carrier.

In some circumstances, you should only have a gun if you have a badge (of whatever description), not a new idea.

I brought up these ideas on PSF-members, a non-public listserv, awhile back.  Engineers do think ahead, and not just at Disneyland.  I'm not saying any consensus was reached, just the topic was not verboten.

A shortcoming of media debates is it's always about "the right to own a gun" as if that were the whole topic right there.  Owning a gun doesn't mean having the right to bring it to into my house.  Property owners have rights too.  Americans worship property ownership at least as much as gun ownership, so these two should be counter-posed if the "debate" is not just filler between commercials.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Substance Control


Oregonians were in the mood to celebrate today, in Portland especially, as Prohibition notched back a bit.

I made a symbolic purchase, snapping pictures, then came home to the tragic news on the radio, about the mass killing in Roseburg, one of Oregon's towns.

There's a connecting theme:  substance control, interpreting "substance" rather generally.  Guns are a substance, but then in a way, so are states of mind.

We're instituting different substance control protocols around cannabis, will we around guns as well?

A civilization is somewhat defined by how it controls access to such and such.  That would include to information, news sources etc.

Another duh moment:  I'd been scouring the Internet for a computer monitor also able to show HDTV.  I finally realized any monitor with HDMI-in would do, and I already have one of those, so no new purchase necessary to use the CenturyLink Prism service.

Glenn talked of General Semantics and "substance control" in another sense: maintaining mindfulness, not falling victim to one's own body chemistry, i.e. not becoming only a complex of  knee-jerk responses.  Korzybski segues to Bucky at St. Quentin [ the Youtube is gone -- the warden is introducing Bucky to the prisoners, mentioning they've been studying Korzybski most lately].

Of course way more people in Syria are getting mass killed every day.  Same issue:  it's so easy to get weapons, all you need is a "just cause" and some money, or a patron with an agenda.  But then try crossing a border for the same "just cause" reason.