I don’t know about other cities, but Portland-based Oregonians have a penchant for referring to their own fair city, by its three-letter international airport code: PDX.
You’ll see that everywhere, as a part of the branding, right up there with Portlandia — the statue, not the TV show, though why not share that word, make it more multi-media?
Yesterday in PDX, August 9, Carol (my mom, 87) expressed joy that the Mayor’s Office had finally gotten back to her with a finalized draft of a Proclamation, which she happily color-printed in her home office and redistributed at the venue, which was our Japanese-American Friendship Park, on Naito Parkway.
We have a grassy park all along the west bank of the Willamette River, great planning. Many annual events situate in these areas, including an annual carnival associated with the Rose Parade. City of Roses is another nickname, also Bridge City.
This Japan-America friendship park is between the Broadway and Steel bridges (we have like ten or eleven bridges, having just opened a new one, no cars, only peds, cycles, and public transit, named Tillikum Crossing).
City mayors are good friends of the anti-nuke network, as is Rotary Club. They know their own civilians are targeted, reservoirs first perhaps. Prompt mass panic and evacuation, then take out the infrastructure in one blow, showing other cities that panic is warranted. Seattle might be first, the bombs coming in by shipping container. Countdown to Zero, the movie, narrated by Valarie Plame, spells out several likely scenarios.
So yeah, these Mayors aren’t too keen on living through that, so have been vocal about their opposition to any planned or unplanned use of nukes.
Sonya Pinney came by ahead of the event, to “Blue House”, what the Food Not Bombers dubbed it, back when we served as a truck stop (actually a bike trailer dispatch center).
Several houses helped with food retrieval and prep, also storage and as kitchens, and they tended to have color names. Yellow House, Purple House… ours was Blue.
Cera (as in Cera Monial) and Satya, a Buddhist monk, were cooking at a house nearby and Lindsey, my basement guest, IT worker turned musician & revolutionary, another LGBTQ refugee from the Christian South (as my wife had been) had discovered an ethical way to get healthy free food: make use of what’s called “food waste”.
“Food waste” included nothing much from any dumpster in our case, though it may for others, given the acres and acres of still-good stuff tossed every day. Willamette Valley is verdant, with produce in abundance. Our bike trailers came back to the house laden with fresh, mint-condition, organic produce from friendly warehouses.
Warehouses with excess, contribute to humanity in this way, not just to the Food Bank. Many Oregonians go hungry.
The US is a very poor place. They’re in denial about it here, pointing to gated communities, all these cases of people with (often terminal) affluenza, but we had all those symptoms in the Philippines t00, so not convincing. They’re also feeling poor in spirit, and who can blame them, given the state of our biosphere? Some of the speeches acknowledged our sense of depression, at still living under the threat of nuclear weapons.
Sonya and I have a mutual friend with a new book out entitled No Big Bang, an individual’s meditation on cosmology, musings that blended with his driving a bus. One needs to think about something, if a professional bus driver, or truck driver, and cosmology is a good candidate for musings, at least when things are smooth and traffic isn’t too hectic.
Freeway truck drivers might get books on tape. City bus drivers don’t have that luxury.
Greater Portland still gets slow and smooth sometimes, almost languid, though the freneticism of Californians is moving north. The traffic is getting thicker, especially over the I-5 and I-205 bridges.
Those are both inter-state and Washington has no income tax whereas Oregon has no sales tax. Live there, shop here. That’s causing a huge expenditure of energy, daily, adding to the traffic’s churning. Cannabis is legal in both states, but with most US states still under DC’s tyranny in 2016.
Bus routes through that churn would have to factor the much slower speeds into their schedules.
Sonya, sitting on my couch, wondered what I thought of David’s book. Sonya is about mom’s age, quite active in our Friends Meeting. Our family and hers were among those originating Multnomah Monthly Meeting, the building a gift from AFSC fans, and by extension, fans of Quakers as well. Our benefactors were early pioneers of the Silicon Forest, its electronics industry, now branching into nanotechnology in addition.
Doug Strain’s Electroscientific Measurements (later ESI) had the building before we did, and Jantzen (the swim suit maker) before that.
We’d had two dinner parties with No Big Bang a key conversation topic, David (the author) and I, and Alice, David’s wife. I’d connected to dots in another source, un-cited by David’s work (one can’t cite, let alone read them all), based on my own studies and reading.
Bucky Fuller in his Synergetics wrote about Universe as a place, a neighborhood (or “namespace”), using a proper noun (capitalized). My uncle Earl was into that too as I recall. Earl talked about “on campus” versus “on the campus”, wondering which was the “right” grammar.
Universe closely relates to System in these two dovetailing-by-numbered section philosophy volumes (published by Macmillan), which is not unusual in philosophy. Hegel was a Systems guy too, then came General Systems Theory (GST), a field Kenneth Boulding (a Friend) helped cultivate.
Numbering passages for indexing purposes is not meant to suggest Synergetics is a “Bible” per se, but it is common practice to refer to any serious readers of said work as “Bucky disciples”. Wittgenstein’s philosophy tomes likewise featured numbering, and sure enough he has disciples too.
Now that every passage tends to have a URL for lookup purposes, whether Biblical or not, probably this practice of numbering is less noteworthy.
Although modelable as a System, ultimately Fuller considered his Universe to be “non-unitarily conceptual” or even “eternally aconceptual” which connected to its being “eternally regenerative” in his geometry-laced writings.
We have these various “time tunnels” (he called them “scenarios”) we live through, of some definite duration, but then Universe nowhere becomes a significand in these processes, kind of like how mystics say there’s no way to “name” all that is. One might argue not that “naming God” is a sin or crime, sacrilegious in any way, merely a futile exercise, as words don’t point to the moon, either. Words are not pointers.
So yeah, Fuller, like David Prideaux, was not really a “big banger” either. I was updating Sonya on that fact, letting her know that from my vantage point, cosmology remains a debated subject in various circles, even around such basic questions. If history is any guide, that will continue to be the case.
I also mentioned to Sonya that, in my view, such discussions were only fun if they involved measurable quantities, so that at least we had some grist for the mill and a way to further improve our instrumentation. Minus experimentation and empirical measures, we would end up with empty word-spinning, which happens a lot in philosophy.
Then we got in the car, Sonya, Carol and I (the chauffeur) and headed downtown for the Disarm Day event. We got there just in time. Carol sometimes delivers a keynote but not this year, so we weren’t required to be there early.
The weather was cool, amazingly, almost raining. Some years it’s been sweltering. I like gray rainy days myself.
The taiko drumming was especially impressive this year and I took tons of pictures (linked below). The taiko troupe had risked bringing one of their biggest and loudest drums, even with rain threatened.
The drum was too big to fit under the rented tent.
Carol was thanked in one of the keynotes, for working with the City, on getting that Proclamation in time. We may have had those before, but the wording is always changing, reflecting the times.
With over 17K nuclear weapons in existence (cite traveling exhibit on that theme) and no apparent moves to stop production, the Marshall Islands (a nuked nation) has stepped forward in legal circles to point out the Nonproliferation Treaty actually includes language for implementing rollback, i.e. the “haves” aren’t just supposed to sit their on their piles of WMDs and threaten others willy-nilly for the rest of human history.
Their lawsuit winds its way through the system, one of several talking points in diplomatic circles, from which circles most US Americans are excluded by their media.
The levels of misinformation about the consequences of atmospheric tests already done, remain high. No subjects are more concertedly the focus of spin doctoring than the nuclear ones, which include positively spun subjects, like PET scans.
We like nuclear medicine, even Iran does. The Iranians hate the WMD economy though, and think it’s ironic how the US projects them as lusting after nukes like the US has, as if their whole goal in life were to be bullies in the same way. Leave “lording it over” to the likes of “Clown Satan” — their parody of Uncle Sam and his “Christian” (self proclaimed) minions.
There’s widespread resentment of the Nuke Nations among those without nukes, as might be imagined. The non-aligned movement was all about steering clear of “superpowers” although these tend to be unavoidable, somewhat by definition, especially if one has resources.
Like I was a strontium-90 baby, as were many infants in my day. No one really knows what that means.
They’d built that Nagasaki bomb up river and been sloppy in their panic to get it done. Hanford down-winders wound up getting high doses. The atmospheric tests added “new luminosity” to the global biosphere, to sound euphemistic about it.
Recycled uranium (DU), in the form of weapons, helped spread the dust even more finely, in former vegetable basket economies (ecosystems).
Hanford, part of the Manhattan Project, is the biggest environmental cleanup job in human history just about, as Daniel Ellsberg predicted it would be, and for all those billions spent may be a lost cause in the long run.
Humans will adapt to higher rad levels or they won’t? The trillion dollar facility they’d hoped to use for at least some disposal, is still closed to new waste, thanks to faulty cat litter, long story.
The leeching into the water table was only stopped by heroic measures in Chernobyl, to look at a different site humans will be dealing with for centuries, if lucky enough to remain viable that long.
The pile was on its way to the regional underground lake, Kiev’s drinking water, literally a meltdown. All the best miners in the USSR were rushed in by train to contribute precious minutes (all a body could stand) in an effort to intervene and stop the pile’s progress.
You can watch the documentary on Youtube, don’t let me spoil it for ya. Gorbachev is a talking head.
Here I am now, the following day, back at the Blue House, journaling yesterday’s events.
Looking forward, the abandoned United Methodist Church in Sunnyside is a topic of conversation. I have a twitter account devoted mostly to that, using #CodeCastle as a hash tag. @OMSI is in the loop (local science museum).
I also just finished a forty hour gig teaching code school to Californians, through a company based in Irvine. I’m something like a high school math teacher, per my online Jupyter Notebooks, but with more content from Bucky Fuller’s Synergeticsthan is typical in 2016.
US Americans were successfully cut off from that elementary school heritage with its alternative model of powering and consequently more whole number volumes for familiar polyhedrons. Very rational and logical, and a part of the transcendentalist literature. E.J. Applewhite was always invoking Poe’s Eureka as a precursor, but then who knows about that either? Wasn’t Poe a big banger?
However Synergetics (a philosophy) is pretty close to English and therefore also enjoys some fans in South Africa and the Philippines (likewise Anglophone in places). I remain in correspondence with math teachers around the world.
That Lindsey character I mentioned, the revolutionary in my basement, is these days back in Kathmandu, having lived through the earthquake in 2015. I was at a Hilton in St. Louis when that happened, getting her cool-headed phone calls. PTSD caught up with her somewhat later, and she got through that as well.
My company had flown me to St. Louis and that converted train station Hilton for a US Distance Learning Conference. I’ve been back to St. Louis since, independently of said company (O’Reilly School of Technology, a division of O’Reilly Media) to visit Earlham College again, this time for my youngest daughter’s graduation.
Both times I rented a car and drove round trip, stopping in Champaign-Urbana in Illinois, where our school had originally been founded, then as @useractive.com. I still have good friends there. On another trip, I drove down from Chicago, the city of my birth, after DjangoCon, where I presented a workshop.
Lindsey is now a student of Vajrayana Buddhism earning a degree at OSU thanks to Rotary Club.
Our neighborhood hosts one of the only Newar temples outside of Nepal, where a stylized form of dance supports religious ideation. Lindsey is learning that dance form, from some of the only remaining guy practitioners. She’s also deeply into Sanskrit.
I haven’t been attending Food Not Bombs servings of late. These are open to all, no need to prove eligibility in any way, beyond conforming to rules around sanitation — bring your own bowl.
I lost two bicycles in the struggle, which included Occupy Portland (lots of logistics). Lindsey took to a tent with Melody, whereas I stayed at said “Blue Tent” — wood-skinned, so a “house”. I just got a new bicycle, as a gift, so might get down there again, to the rain shelter at Colonel Summers Park, near the Hinson Street Baptist Church on SE 20th and Belmont.
Some time after Occupy Portland, I wound up with a corporate job with benefits, working full time. That lasted three to four years, about the average time for a Silicon Valley type gig. I mostly worked from home (the Blue House), in the Silicon Forest, evaluating student work. O’Reilly is based in Sebastopol, near the Russian River, closer to the Bay Area.
The Hollywood movie-making industry has helped shape the way people see companies: as made-for-TV series with a cast that comes and goes, hops around among shows. The code school I volunteer at, do some PR for, meets on Mondays. I could go Fridays…
I’m eyeing that nearby abandoned church (CodeCastle) as a space with more under-used floor space. More Portlanders want to enroll in code school type classes than we can manage at PDX Code Guild.
Such is the life of a PDXer in 2016.
Links to more pictures of PDX Disarm Day:
I live on the Pacific Rim, in Portland, Oregon, which has a Chinese Gate, marking a long history of East-West traffic. The Dragon is pretty much a powerful creature but more often celebrated than demonized.
We have parallels in the west, but in Genesis the serpent plays a decidedly negative role. Although it’s a “dragon” that St. George would slay, I think that hearkened back to the generally negative connotations in the Bible. Serpents and dragons were one and the same.
These days, I do a lot of programming in Python, perhaps another reason to think ahead. True, Monty Python was more the target of Guido’s homage, but the familiarity of the Python, to Athena, really has to be remembered, which brings us full circle, as Athena reminds us of Eve, scholarship I needn’t duplicate here, check the Web.
In one re-telling of Genesis, in a limited edition art book called Tetrascroll, the authors of Genesis want to punish any knowing of the Dragon religions, older and further east.
That our world is actually a sphere, is also forbidden fruit.
Eve is like the name of a ship, feminine, where ships have ribs and convey Adam, around the world. They’d flip their ships over on shore back then: the ribs became eaves. Like I said, an art book, not real etymology.
My friend Sam Lanahan owns one.
He went to the Philippines with Bucky in Martial Law days, as a guest of the Marcos family. This was well before I knew him, even though I was in high school in Manila in those days. Our paths would cross later.
sam’s copy of tetrascroll
Given I’d “glommed on” to Wittgenstein, as my thesis advisor Richard Rorty might have put it, as a user of the verb “to glom,” I found myself wandering over to the Religion Department half the time.
Victor Prellar was there, in Religion. He’d been an Anglican priest in one chapter, I think it was, and now he was sharing Wittgenstein with higher level students. Princeton includes a small grad school, although it prides itself on its focus on undergrads. I was invited, as an interested undergrad, to attend his upper class seminars. At one point I spaced out writing a final paper, which annoyed him. We stayed friends.
Wittgenstein was a religious man, I think that’s fair to say. He chose a life of asceticism over a life of wealth and privilege, and his passion for logic gained him audiences with Gottlob Frege, and later Bertrand Russell. The latter came to recognize great genius in Ludwig, and took him under his wing as a protege.
Fast forward and I’m getting lectures from some of the best in the business, not just Rorty and Prellar. Diamond was great on William James. My teachers of both Milton (Paradise Lost) and Machiavelli (The Prince) were both fantastic. Princeton was not short on highly talented teachers.
I bring up all this lineage to help me plant a spear or javelin in an even more distant future, long after the turn of the millennium. I’ve gone ahead and branded a few memes as “Quaker” just to see if “Quaker schools” might gain some traction around curriculum you won’t get just anywhere. Dig around in my blogs and you’ll find them. Think “philosophy of mathematics.”
I’m doubtful about finding the correspondence on my end, however I well recollect a long back-and-forth with Dr. Suber at Earlham College, long before I’d ever visited the campus. I was hoping to get on his rather exhaustive list of “philosophy websites” around the web, however he was skeptical that Synergetics really counted. I finally convinced him. This quote marked the turning point:
The integration of geometry and philosophy in
a single conceptual system providing a common language
and accounting for both the physical and metaphysical.
A funny piece of trivia and synchronistic event: Dr. Suber listed Synergetics immediately adjacent to Systematic Ideology, for alphabetical order reasons, and the latter was a link to Trevor Blake’s website. Trevor lives just blocks from me, I see him fairly often.
Trevor (likewise atheist-friendly) has also participated in critical and specific ways to save the Bucky stuff, a transcendentalist corpus in which I specialize. He inherited Joe Moore’s U-haul truck’s worth of materials, which he stashed and organized, Sam Lanahan helping with finances.
When I finally did make it to Earlham, I was invited to address their Philosophy Club, a somewhat brown bag lunch affair. I spoke on two topics: whether members of the natural numbers N might have infinite digits (the consensus among professionals is “no” only real numbers can have that); and on tetravolumes, more of that almost-trademarked Quaker stuff, at least in my niche of the market.
What all this “Quaker + geek” stuff traces back to is probably Right Sharing of World Resources and the GNU project (Richard Stallman et al). I’ve written about him on Q2 before: my idea of a prophet.
A branch of engineering decided to give the world the benefit of its craftsmanship for free, as a side-result of its master practitioners agreeing to empower one another. Rather than let the lawyers control ownership, the engineers would on their own take ownership, of the whole idea of ownership.
In my telling, some Quakers were paying close attention, and nothing in Quakerism has any problem with engineering. If you’re into outward violence and designing “killingry” to amplify “acting out,” then fie on that, however “livingry” remains the focus of so many talented people, whether they call themselves “religious” or not.
If they’re loyal to humanity as a whole, I’m happy to think of them as religious in a way I might respect. Religious education is not antithetical to an Engineering education. Quakerism embraces science, including computer science, as Earlham College makes obvious.
One of the more bogus locutions out there stems from identifying with some goofy fiction like the “white race” (really?) and then thinking to “speak for” that fictional grouping. “Speaking as a white person for a moment…” Yeah, right. Funny.
Even if there were a “white race” I wouldn’t consider anyone I know, including myself, authorized to speak for it. But yes, I consider “races” to be entirely fictional, a-scientific inventions. There’s no genetics behind the concept, only a confusing hodge-podge of ideas, mixing ideas about “blood” with ethnicity (cultural heritage) and a million other things.
Ashley Montagu was one of the heroes in anthropology, willing to stick his neck out to discredit the whole idea of “races of man”. Yet efforts such as his, to deconstruct the whole idea of “races”, tend to take a back seat to the front and center battles that just assume the truth of this socially engineered meme virus.
Decades ago I came to the maxim: “a racist is someone who believes in races” and I’m sticking to that even now. If you want to overcome racism, go back and study how the idea came to be, and look at the arguments of its opponents. Sure people differ in how they look, that’s not in dispute. Adaptation is real, the human genome is amazing. That doesn’t mean the “race” concept is apropos. After all, it grew to prominence long before anyone knew about DNA. The race concept never depended on real science in the first place.
Just as the “military industrial complex” is a psychological thing, a tangle of beliefs about being a “superpower” (guffaw) with all the “manifest destiny” mumbo jumbo that goes along, so is the belief in races little more than a mental ailment, for which treatments are readily available.
Although US president Barack Obama is not a direct descendant of the Anglo-American slave trade, his abolitionist stance versus nuclear weapons is consistent with abolitionist values championed by a few Quakers in Underground Railroad times.
You may be thinking “a few Quakers” is an understatement given Friends had disowned all slave-owning by around the early 1800s, pre Civil War. Good point, however the US Government took the position that slavery was legal at the time, and indeed founding fathers such as Jefferson were entirely dependent on slavery as an institution. Quakers also believed in the separation of church and state.
People were still in the early stages of industrialization and were not seeing how labor-saving appliances, factories, freeways, on-line shopping, would be altering the landscape, especially after two “world wars” (in the early 1800s, people did not yet imagine wars at that scale with a lot of foresight, science fiction writers excepted perhaps). They could not foresee how prisoners and the undocumented could be forced to work under slave-like conditions. Making slavery go away is more sleight of hand when you have PR-minded spin doctors serving political agendas. Those days were in the distant future (our own time).
Many Friends therefore took the view that whereas members of the Religious Society should not be slave-owning, members of other persuasions, not convinced of Quakerism, were free to hold slaves, as private property was protected by the laws of the land, and other humans could be property. Women were not voting members of society yet either.
When a suitable homeland was established, in Liberia perhaps (a sort of proto-Zionism was in the wind), all the “Negroes” could go there. Some Quakers were most comfortable with this political agenda. The stereotype that Friends were all secretly working with the Underground Railroad is more like spin applied later, after the Civil War.
Fast forward to today and one may find some Friends taking a non-abolitionist stance towards nuclear weapons, which make slaves of us all by threatening us with gross destruction in case someone’s will or policies are not obeyed. “Defiance will be punished” is the message, from the masters to their minions.
Some Quakers are OK with this state of affairs, believing themselves to be on the masters’ side, which is also the side of God and all that is right and orthodox (ortho-normal, right-angled, four-square).
Other Friends such as Bayard Rustin, into speaking truth to power (a translation of “jihad” by some accounts), have been less compromising. Like Obama, the AFSC, with which Rustin was affiliated, has been consistently in favor of (A) non-proliferation and (B) roll-back.
Indeed, built in to the Nonproliferation Treaty is the promise that those presently endowed with nukes will seek to abolish them. The Marshall Islands is suing nations it perceives to have violated these terms of the agreement. More power to ’em, as they too were victims of nuclear war, euphemistically described as “forced evacuation” followed by “tests” by the imperial-minded of a non-Friendly bent.
As a former AFSC liaison for the West Region (US jurisdiction), and former NPYM delegate to Philadelphia, I’d like to thank president Obama for calling for an awakening of conscience from Hiroshima today. He takes his stand with abolitionists of the past, as well as those of the present.
A “refugee” is “someone seeking refuge” which quickly expands to us all in meditation or prayer.
Whole communities came to the New World on those dangerous watercraft, seeking liberty, freedom from persecution, the right to be left alone. Relationships were continued, at a village level.
Thinking of refugee camps as full of solitary individuals, each needing a desk job and a bus pass, a separate singleton existence, is of course unrealistic.
Extended families often do not wish to be broken up. They live as a tribe, whole communities.
At a party for Leos last night, celebrating those born with this astrological sign, I spied a catalog for the latest camping gear. A love of the outdoors is rekindled, in looking through these pages.
Do we all know where the word “camping” comes from? From “campaigning”.
The goal was to distill the “fun part” of campaigning and leave out all the pathological murderous killing. That’s how “camping” came about.
Rather than trying to solve the world’s problems with explosive devices and unsustainable pain levels, investing in the latest camping gear and gardening equipment might make more sense.
Suppliers would have many product placement opportunities. Every Dignity Village could be a showcase.
My friend Patrick got to visit Biosphere 2 near Tuscon recently and confirmed a large dome may be self cooling, given air flows.
I’m not saying everyone wants to tent and/or garden in a dome as a lifestyle, but others would, and would make it as telegenic as that catalog.
Many experiments need to be tried. We have a lot of engineering creativity and capacity, why not use it?
Having many smallish colonies guinea pigging the new products, willingly, giving feedback, like test pilots, would be part of what “scouting” means.
That’s part of how one trades lifestyle ideas with the rest of the world: test out something new and let us judge for ourselves what we might like to adopt from it.
Quaker communities: given some hundreds of years of prior practice, and a willingness to relinquish violence, these could be some of the best.
The biggest most expensive camps in present times tend to be military and “killingry oriented”. We also have many para-military encampments in North America, though we’re uncomfortable focusing on that topic in the media.
Here in Oregon many people remember the Rajneesh Puram experiment and how that went. Not all experiments are equally successful. The more we engage in, and compare notes, the faster we learn.
Although armed encampments are “campaign” flavored, more than “camping” flavored, the term “refugee” may yet apply.
For example a soldier may have chosen soldiering to escape abject poverty in a cruel economy with no prospects, akin to a war zone. Lets keep soldiers in our prayers as refugees as well.
The skills learned in the military overlap with “scouting” and “disaster relief”.
Making the transition, from “campaigning” to “camping”, is far from impossible, in a climate that’s less war-crazy.
The idea of community service oriented camps come more from religious templates, centered around a church, temple or mosque.
Rather than stress about the prospect of non-violent religious communities popping up, as schools with campuses, we could welcome our improving living standards (globally, not just locally).
If you’re a refugee on the streets, a family under a freeway viaduct, you’ll be wondering if there might be a community for you out there.
I’m not giving up on mega-project cities, like Old Man River was to be, however I’m thinking our universities may have stopped teaching about those possibilities? The military bases amount to mega-project cities in some cases.
Civilians may no longer have enough know-how. When we skip a generation or two, we lose a lot. I’m not sure who’s left on the scene who could build a geodesic dome or sphere if we wanted one. In that chapter, we seemed more hopeful.
Maybe NASA has some ideas? Terraforming proceeds, with or without any master plans.
originally published to the QuakerQuaker website.
[ copied over from QuakerQuaker, September 2016 ]
When I stumbled onto the scene, General Systems Theory appeared to be languishing or at least not going anywhere, having gotten off to a promising start.
My branding instincts, honed in Rome, suggested competing with some other discipline, creating a horse race, might add more life to this picture.
I set about branding GST as an alternative to Economics. Economics itself preaches the dangers of complacent monopolies, so of all disciplines it deserves some competition, makes perfect sense. We’ll talk about “guns vs butter” same as they do, but without all the same cultural baggage.
Instead of “economies” we just have “ecosystems” in GST, i.e. human designs and trading practices mesh seamlessly with their non-human surroundings, or “biosphere” as some call it.  I grabbed the ball and ran with it, maybe advancing a few yards.  I felt part of a team.
By sometime in the 1990s, I had the gist of GST boiled it down to three pages:
http://grunch.net/synergetics/gst1.html -> gst2.html -> gst3.html
In building bridges back to Economics, I’ve found the most traction with the Henry George School, one of the many econ branches.
Unless the presentation has a thermodynamic flavor and acknowledges the sun as the fusion powerhouse it is (as in the above Motherboard Earth manifesto), an econ blend is likely closer to that University of Chicago stuff you mention, embraced by neocons more than most. I’d consider such thinking insufficiently cosmic, too ignorant of real science. 
 “Biosphere” is a far more intelligent concept than mere “climate” (confused with weather, temperature especially). http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2014/10/biosphere-is-better.html
 Another discipline I’ve worked to rescue from the junk heap of history was “lambda calculus”, which is still taught, but could fizzle if not given more to chew on, or with. I set it up opposite “delta calculus”, the obstacle course already laid out. Once up to Algebra, you may opt to pursue the Lambda track and get more programming mixed with your XYZ vectors and group theory.
 see The Power of Nightmares for more insights into the Chicago University origins of these overlapping Bush Era ideologies
Posted: August 30, 1998
Modified: August 30, 1998
The Applewhites flew out to Portland for a visit with us in the summer of 1996. The details kept changing up until the last minute. At first it looked like maybe just Ed would come, but June decided to come along, despite health issues (the cane was new).
I’d visited with Ed in Georgetown a couple times, and Ed and June got to meet my parents briefly on another trip over Mexican food in DC. Ed and I also both attended the Synergetica conference hosted by the BFI in 1991, where Yashushi Kajikawa was the guest of honor. This was the Applewhites’ first trip out to the Pacific Northwest and it was our privilege to show them around.
Dawn, Tara and I drove Ed and June up to Crown Point in the Toyota. Alexia might have been working at the zoo that day — where Ed and I had dropped her off enroute to the Rose Garden on the first day of the Applewhites’ visit (Ed was waiting for us in front of the Arlington Club).
Ed was very taken with Portland’s architecture, doing lots of walking tours reminiscent of those he did of Washington DC for his
guide book. At Crown Point, he chatted a lot about the upcoming Nobel Prize for chemistry, much on his mind because it was to be for the discoverers-namers of buckminsterfullerne this time around.
June Applewhite Crown Point, Oregon
Interesting day for vehicles at Crown Point that day. I missed getting a shot of the classic Rolls Royce, but snapped these two of the sherrif’s van and this fleet of red cars around back.
Ed and June were most generous with their time, kind and gracious visitors to our neck of the woods. They took us out to dinner as a family at the Newport Bay restaurant on the Willamette, and got to meet my friends Matt Ryan, who had accompanied me on a visit with Ed in Georgetown some years earlier, and Harold Long, architect and student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Ed and June invited me to the Heathman for a lavish coat and tie dinner.
Some other EJA references:
First Posted: Oct 3, 1997
Last Revised: Feb 9, 2010
The Oregon Math Summit, held on October 2nd, 1997, at Oregon State University in Corvallis, was certainly a valuable learning experience for me.
I took an active role, as a presenter of course, but also as the guy with the squeeky flip-chart felt pens who wrote down the points people made in the breakout session after the intro speeches by the heavy hitters. And I participated actively and constructively in Ralph Abraham’s chat session. For a grand finale, I got to run the microphone up and down and between the seats during the Q&A with Sir Roger Penrose (after first using my privileged position to get my own question in edgewise).
My Beyond Flatland presentation went OK. I packed a lot in, but it all self-reinforced, coming back to the same points from many directions. “This is starting to click” said one 5th grade teacher towards the end, after asking several good questions about the A module. Another teacher came up afterwards and mentioned having built a 3-frequency dome with his students long ago — said this material had clearly come a long way since, “lots of good geometry here” he added. A guy in front asked how long it took me to learn all this and I said about 10 years, but with all the work that’s been done to repackage synergetics in the interim, the next generation might get it down to more like 10 minutes.
My handouts contained pointers to Struck, Dome, Povray and VRML. No mention of my own site but I had that on the felt board from the end of the previous workshop in the same room, about math on the internet, wherein someone was asking about geometry websites — I was busy setting up my props for the talk and overheard the question.
I bought a new shirt, tie (computer chips motif), and green trousers for this event and stupidly left my wallet in the old pair (remembered everything but that). So come dinner I didn’t have any means and took a short nap in the front seat of the Subaru after ingesting some leftover symposium muffins. Turns out there’d been this dinner for all the invited speakers, with a name tag next to my plate and everything, but the organizers all assumed I knew about it so no one mentioned it to me (nothing in the speaker’s packet about it I don’t think). So I missed out on that one — then had to bum some bucks from Terry Bristol, ISEPP prez, to buy enough gas to make it home, that evening after the Penrose talk.
Keith Devlin showed us a video clip from a new PBS series on Mathematics making its debut in April of 1998. The show is about real people using mathematics. We saw a lot of glitzy, fast takes with a big M in each segment, finally getting to the word ‘Mathematics’ as a punch line. Ivars Peterson took this as a joke: people have this anti-math reflex so engrained in this culture that “Mathematics” is now “the M word” — we don’t dare truck it out before hooking the audience with MTV-style eye candy, or the viewers will scatter to other channels.
The consensus among the heavy hitters (each made a short presentation after drawing lots for sequence) was that computational skills and basic numeracy was something to be instilled by all teachers of all subjects (Keith was the most explicit on this), and we should recontextualize the rest, embedding “higher math” in a more humanities-style curriculum wherein students get the message that mathematics permeates every aspect of the technoculture, albiet somewhat invisibly and behind-the-scenes (given the slick interfaces) — and getting that message across is maybe more important than actually overdrilling in specific skills, which you’ll learn as you specialize, if you do, as some brand of engineer or whatever. In the meantime, we should mix in a lot of history and study mathematics through key personalities (including the teacher’s), with the basic “how to make change and read the newspaper bar graph” type skills for everyday living more diffused throughout the curriculum (Devlin again).
Of course the speakers had their differences with one another. Ralph Abraham is most into doing math in chronological order, in sync across all subjects, meaning you shouldn’t teach anything ahead of its proper time, out of sequence. His curriculum (prototyped on Long Island someplace) has first graders doing Stone Age math, up through Neolithic (emphasis on the garden — reinventing agriculture), with maybe third or fourth graders doing Babylonian clay tablet work, progressing through Egyptian, Greek, Middle Ages, Renaissance and so on up to the computer revolution in maybe eleventh grade — something like that. But Ralph is discouraged because of all the pressure to pass this or that benchmark test (e.g. the SAT), with parents crazy to have junior focus towards that goal. Plus you can’t find math teachers with all the credentials and still willing to relearn to the extent of knowing anything about Babylonian math or whatever — they come preprogrammed to teach the standard curriculum, not Ralph’s.
Personally speaking, the thought of spending my whole K-12 ontogeny slowly recapitulating math’s phylogeny sounded a bit tedious, though I’m sure high caliber teachers could make it worth my time. I’d like to have a time line on CD and the ability to access math in chrono-sequence as an option. Teachers could teach from the timeline in many lesson plans, but the whole curriculum wouldn’t be lockstep-synced to that ordering through a whole twelve year span (and beyond). Like, life’s just too short to waste a whole year pretending to be a Babylonian in my book, especially when you could be doing synergetics, which by Ralph’s standards shouldn’t be introduced until maybe the 1990s, well after we teach everything else on the time line (like in grad school or something). Actually I don’t think Ralph was considering synergetics at all as a part of his curriculum — though maybe he is a little bit since our informal meeting (I flipped through some of the dynamite transparencies I’d developed for my presentation, after establishing some credentials as a soul brother when it comes to respect for those geeky Greeks).
Sir Roger Penrose seemed into math for math’s sake more than Devlin, wanting kids to appreciate the sublime beauty of absolutely useless gizmos. But the gizmo he brought to show and tell about wasn’t all that useless. He’s been studying the Pythagorean scale of musical notes, putting the frequency ratios on a “circular slide rule” (a log scale bent around the octave), showing how you can visualize chords as angles and key changes by rotating the wheel.
But then he showed how these key changes get you these “commas” (small sinus gaps) if you go with the strictly Pythagorean frequencies, and how, ever since Bach, master of the well-behaved chord change, the piano has used an approximation (another circular transparency, this time with all pie-slices equal) wherein the ratios are all the same — it superimposes on the Pythogorean pretty well but not perfectly. Anyway, this was all useful and interesting music theory, with historical threads woven throughout. The audience was clearly entertained.
Ivars was worried about Sesame Street and MTV style fast cutting and topic hopping, noting in the breakout session that one of his kids just gets frustrated with that approach, preferring to drill down within a topic once hooked, vs. jumping from one thing to another. He’s a bit anxious about the giddy-minded approach which fast-cut TV seems to encourage.
The teachers at this event were somewhat in a tizzy about the new state standards, which get measured on a standard test. The test has just gotten a lot harder, as State Superintendent Norma Paulus reiterated in her post-lunch banquet hall speech (held in the fancy new OSU alumni center), and now most kids are likely to score rather poorly. Only half the kids in the state even take enough math in high school to have an opportunity to score well — and of those only a small percentage will actually make top marks. So the teachers are caught in a bind, getting mixed messages. The standard bearers are marshaling the rank and file to drill drill drill to score high benchmarks, while the assembled leadership from the mathematics department itself is suggesting a more Renaissance approach, with lots of team teaching and convergence of subject areas, “not trying to turn students into poor imitations of a $20 calculator” as Devlin puts it.
In the meantime, Norma Paulus (with whom Ralph was impressed) outlined her state-level coping strategy, which she’s developing in tandem with Governor Kitzhaber, to build a “firewall” around instructional time, aimed at creating an inviolate space wherein teacher-student communications might continue to develop and flourish. Plus she was encouraged by the literally truck-loads of hardware being offloaded by the corporations on the schools as they upgraded to newer equipment, which students were learning to cannibalize and reassemble into working systems. She encouraged all teachers to return to their schools and ask about all that staff development money we know is there (because of all the expense records) but which may not be getting used accountably enough from the point of view of the mathematics department.
My response, expressed in the breakout session (as the official note taker, I managed to interject twice — once about the wierdnesses in floating point math as implemented in computers, reason enough to learn the algorithms on paper as well) was that if teachers wanted to fight the standard bearers and take back control of the curriculum (they all agreed that these tests from on high were severely limiting their freedoms and creativity as teachers on the front lines) they could use the ammo I was supplying via Beyond Flatland. Here was basic, low level, primary school material that every kid should know, and yet isn’t part of the standard — clear evidence that the mathematics department knows relevant content far better than whatever officials charged with concocting these tests.
If teachers rally around obviously relevant curriculum that the standards people are oblivious about, they have a chance to convince parents that junior will get a better deal if the mathematics department is given more responsibility, not less — like I said to Ralph after his class, it’s folks like you that should be our chief curriculum designers, not committees of well-meaning bureaucrats who think they know what the curriculum should look like, and yet haven’t a clue about what Ralph Abraham is doing to enhance it.
I also emphasized “home schoolers” as a strong card in our hand, since we can always invoke this nebulous all-ages network of dedicated math students as not beholden to the state. Out here in the wilds of the web, we can experiment with whatever newfangled curricula we like, and some enlightened parents are going to clearly see that junior is getting a far better boost into a promising future from staying at home (or tuning in after hours) than by kow-towing to the text book gods and their stale recycling of whatever sold last year (octane-enhanced with whatever cosmetic improvements of course).
Alexander Graham Bell’s octet truss
Bob Burton, The OSU math prof facilitating the break-out session asked me for a specific example of what the standard curriculum is leaving out (he wondered if our math head speakers were more a “last gasp of the Renaissance?” — something I squeak-wrote on the flip-chart as a good leading question), at which point I inserted a plug for my afternoon session. “Come to Beyond Flatland and I’ll give you all the ammo you need” I announced — earlier I suggested we all use the internet to better organize and stay in touch between summits, after hours if necessary (lots of nods).
I told the class I’d show it again at the end, and they could measure their increased appreciation for its content by the new insights they’d have on second viewing — “an easy kind of test”. Then I got my 31 slides-on-tape rolling, 18 seconds per shot, running through three topics: Concentric Hierarchy, Sphere Packing and Frequency. I emphasized that most of this material was in the public domain, on the internet, and if their school had invested in a digital camera, they could duplicate my process for creating such slide shows (the handout gave more details). Then I went to the overheads and went over these same topics in more detail, every so often picking up a physical model (before class, as people were taking their seats, I passed a bunch of models around, including Russell’s high tech tensegrity coupler, plus some museum gift shop stuff) and going over the basic principles.
A couple of teachers were especially interested in the large styrofoam ball with toothpicks, green and red pipe cleaners, and black ribbon. The red pipe cleaners connect toothpick-vertices in an octahedron (volume 4), while the green make a cube (volume 3), and black ribbon outlines the 12 rhombic faces of the space-filling, sphere-containing dodecahedron (volume 6). They saw this as something they could replicate in class. I explained my process of looping rubber bands as three equators to give the XYZ framework for the octahedron — jabbing in toothpicks at the intersections and removing the rubber bands and adding red pipe cleaners. Then I basically eyeballed the octa-face centers for the cube toothpicks, and added the green pipe cleaners, topping the whole thing off with the black ribbon wrap.
I also went over Karl’s ingenious system of bent pipe cleaner joins for stuffing into thin cocktail straw edges — Russ had built several of those during his visit, sitting next to me at Megan’s Run, an annual 24 hour marathon wherein my friend Mike Hagmeier was a participant (I lap counted for four hours at Lincoln High while Russell amused himself with pipe cleaners — I later learned Mike ran 78 miles before collapsing at 3 AM). But I digress.
Ralph was just back from writing a text book in Italy — calculus with an eye towards laying the foundations of chaos theory (whatever that is, he seems deliberately fuzzy on that score). He hyped the European math curriculum quite a bit — was on sabbatical in France at some point years ago and helped his kids with their homework (in French of course). The Europeans never seemed to lose the visual link with Euclid — less cost-cutting in the graphics department, unlike in USA text books, wherein pictorial math is given short shrift. Ralph has recently put all of Euclid’s stuff on the web in the form of “dynapics” — Adobe Illustrator type GIFs taking you through all the constructions and proofs very explicitly. He’s very turned on by the Euclidean stuff — wondered if any of us knew how to construct a pentagon (takes 56 steps in Euclid Ralph told us). I said I thought I could, using two circles (I was thinking of a somewhat racist theosophy book I’d been recently perusing, L. Gordon Plummer’s The Mathematics of the Cosmic Mind Fig. 4 pg. 15 — that’s why I asked if Euclid’s solution involved constructing a decagon first).
Ralph told the teachers that more conservative minds, some of whom he much respected, had originally tried too hard to control chaos, like through the Office of Naval Research, narrowing its band of operations to something minimal and controllable. He offered this as an analogy as to what might be going on in Oregon around standards testing — too much rigidity in the face of inherently dynamical systems. Then he launched into a brief explication of what dynamical systems theory is all about (strong links to the calculus), getting around to his teaching in chronological sequence ideas.
I asked if maybe the chronological approach meant we should do more to present mathematics as a discontinuous zig zaggy evolution, with lots of dead ends and withering branches — more like the Kuhnian analysis of science’s checkered past, with all those upsetting paradigm shifts and oldsters going down with their ships and so on (that metaphor comes to me now — didn’t use it then, but did mention Kuhn). And wouldn’t this involve studying “the heresies” — like I’d just been reading Bishop Berkeley’s problems with ‘1/infinity’ as used to prove stuff in the calculus — people said they’d addressed his concerns after he died, but I thought he’d still be objecting today. “Mathematicians could sometimes be really mean dudes” I went on (thinking of those brutal dueling episodes, although the two such episodes I recall were with non-mathematicians) and math involves a lot of arguing, polemics, games with funding (like look what Kronecker did to Weierstrass and Cantor) — shouldn’t we share this with kids, instead of presenting the subject as a cold “everyone agrees” type thing? Ralph heartily agreed (he knows first hand what it means to wage an up-hill battle).
I also mentioned I thought the chaos people had a PR problem, in that the general public immediately thinks of fractals and recursive self-similarity, but Ralph hadn’t mentioned those at all. He agreed, and traced the problem to Gleick’s book, which went heavily for fractals because of all the pretty pictures. He didn’t begrudge James Gleick his million-dollar success with that book Chaos, acknowledging a narrow overlap of chaos theory with fractals in the region of strange attractors, but felt the general public had somewhat the wrong idea as a result (like, so what else is new when it comes to the general public, right?).
The evening Penrose talk was open to the general public (for a fee) with front rows roped off for us teachers and presenters. I got there early and bummed some bucks from Terry when he came in with Sir Roger, so I could get some gas for the Subaru (and a Big Mac as it turned out). Maggie Niess, OSU science-math ed chairperson and conference organizer (along with her secretary Rose) said she was sorry about the dinner snafu (I shrugged it off). Ralph took a front row seat across the aisle from me and we settled in to listen to Penrose do his thing.
Sir Penrose has added the “tribar” as something for which he and his father should be remembered. That’s that “impossible triangle” used in those famous Escher lithographs as a basis of the forever ascending staircase and descending waterfall. The toilet paper royalties infringement was also mentioned by OSU President Paul Risser as a part of his introduction, plus we all applauded state education head Norma Paulus for making the Math Summit a reality — thanks in part to Terry’s connections (my wife Dawn is the ISEPP bookkeeper, and she was quick to suggest I would be a relevant presenter at this event, and Terry immediately agreed — really quick thinking on her part).
Penrose is looking for physical phenomena of a sufficiently noncomputable nature to serve as an anchor for our mental world, wherein we have access to the Platonic realm (via mathematics especially). He emphasizes that computers don’t have access to the Platonic realm, because they simply follow rules whereas although humans accept rules, and recognize new truths as consistent with them, they then proceed to transcend them by accessing truths the rules simply don’t predict or anticipate. I was thinking of Kant’s “synthetic a priori judgements” and Stuart Kaufmann’s synergetic “exaptations” as relevant in this connection.
To prove how computers can be trapped into revealing their innate stupidity by their own rule-following limitations, he had some chess problems which show at a glance how white can force a draw, but which computers, including Deep Thought and Deep Blue, all bungle, by taking the rook as bait, breaking the wall of pawns that is clearly the white king’s only defense. He went on to discuss other brilliant insights that mathematicians have had (proof of their transcendent access to the Platonic realm) which leave computers in the dust, as far as manifesting any creative intelligence is concerned.
So where in the brain do we localize the phenomena which make humans so special vis-a-vis their robot analogues? The title of the talk was The Large, The Small and the Human Mind — also the title of the upcoming book. The idea here is that we have fairly clear and deterministic models of the very large and the very small, but they don’t converge in mediophase very successfully, suggesting some new physics is needed, which will incorporate the human mind as a bridging phenomenon. The new physics will replace the conventional view that quantum mechanics goes to probabilities in mediophase, suggesting instead that it goes to certainties in short time frames with quantum gravity perhaps explaining what forces the wave function to collapse, leaving the cat dead or alive, not in some superpositional quasi-state.
Penrose is focusing on microtubes in the neurons as possibly sensitively constructed enough to register superpositions of quantum states for very short time periods, thereby allowing human consciousness make use of quantum entanglements to escape any rigid determinism and to make these leaps to higher Platonic levels even while still remaining brain-embedded in the physical world — as are the stupid computers. The difference between brains and computers is that brains are sensitive enough to register the effects of quantum gravity (whatever “gravity” is — and whatever “awareness” is, a key term Penrose was reluctant to define, but which he suggested we all know from experience).
Although he mentioned philosophy as feeding into this talk in places, Penrose made it clear that mathematics and physics were his focus areas. My question was clearly coming out of the philosophy department however — at the end I quoted Wittgenstein saying something like “if ‘consciousness’ has any meaning, it must be a humble one, like ‘table’ ‘lamp’ or ‘chair’.” I said I understood from his presentation of Gödel that we could keep enlarging the sphere of truth, consistently with accepted rules (i.e. without breaking any) but in ways not predicted by them either (thinking of Kaufmann again, though I didn’t try to stuff his “exaptations” into my question). Now that physics was feeling ambitious enough to absorb “consciouness” as another one of its key terms, I wondered if maybe the evolving usage patterns were changing its meaning, such that “consciousness” out the other end of the Penrose syllabus had a different “spin” than it had going in — a sort of moving target in other words, “a kind of zero.”
Penrose didn’t agree of course, as he sees consciousness as an objective, static thing which we all experience through qualia and experiences of emotion and understanding and so on — a view shared by the general public by and large. The goal is to discover its physical basis while consciousness itself “holds still” as we solve the surrounding puzzles. By analogy I suggested that if Newton returned he’d need some considerable reschooling to catch up on what we mean by “gravity” in this day and age (e.g. all that “shape of spacetime” stuff) and again Penrose disagreed, seeing “gravity” as a fixed point of reference as familiarly Newton’s today as ever. Obviously my view that key terms have wordmeaning trajectories within fields created from usage patterns, and do not map to reality as representational so much as operate within it as codefinitional, is not one with which Penrose feels comfortable.
I introduced my question by saying I would then follow Terry’s suggestion and run the cordless mike to others in the audience wishing to ask questions, and this I proceeded to do, although some had such booming voices I judged no amplification necessary. Audience questions focused on whether our orderly and comprehending awareness were really evidence of access to a Platonic realm or more a reflection of physical principles embedded in the design of nature, and hence the brain. Perhaps our intelligence is of local views only, with a greater universe not penetrating our thick skulls, because of no survival value (this from an Asian gentleman with a thick accent — Penrose seemed to have a hard time with it).
Towards the end of the Q&A Penrose willingly superimposed his three worlds (physical, mental and Platonic), apparently acknowledging that the mysteries associated with their interrelationships were perhaps collapsible into a single mystery of being.
People seemed honestly intrigued and engaged by the talk, although of course a lot of it went right over our heads (Ralph seemed to be nodding off in a few places I noticed, but laughed at the cartoon Penrose projected, which showed how nature probably doesn’t select for pure mathematicians, the early human kneeling in the dust with his gizmos, oblivious to his surroundings, being almost certain tiger-bait, compared to his compatriots busy doing more “useful and meaningful” applied technology type things).
I bought some gas (Arco) for the Subaru and and a Big Mac (Mickey D’s) for me and headed north to Portland on 99W, arriving home after midnight, and falling into my dreamworld while reading Feynman’s introduction to QED.
For further reading:
maintained by Kirby Urner
So… does the Grunch mean the noble ideals of Freedom and Democracy, fundamental to the rhetoric of USA institutions, are destined to fade away? Humanity cannot afford this option.
An army of literally soulless corporations, endowed with immortality, human rights, and the power to limit the liability of their shareholder creators, stalk the planet consuming its resources with little thought for the future.
People with the power to challenge (even while staffing) these goliaths form one global network, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Log in, and ask not what cyberspace can do for you, but what you can do for cyberspace.
For further reading:
So… will current economic theory transform the world’s starving into global university students, sorely in need of Food Services, living in dilapidated dorms without plumbing or email? How long will administrators let these living conditions persist? Will access to resources, both physical and metaphysical, be channeled through curriculum circuits, rewarding starving students with meal tickets, plane tickets, and other university catalog items in exchange for the hard work of learning a living through work/study in oft-times harsh campus environments? Not likely.
Economics is too comfortable with its monopoly status, as the one discipline qualified to study resource distribution, to fundamentally recast its worldview — and yet economics itself teaches that monopoly is unhealthy.
In order to end Econ’s unhealthy monopoly, the global university curriculum is phasing in General Systems Theory (GST) as a competing discipline, rhetorically positioned to take away a lot of Econ 101’s market share. If you want to work for the goliaths of the future, better to have GST on your resume than a lot of worthless economics.
I expand on some of these ideas in: