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:
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