Update: This part of my website is an archive of old content. Links may be broken, etc. home

You are here: Top->World, Big

Culture, society and major goings on in the world at large.
The world that I can see feel and taste is easy for me to judge: I can tell if things seem right, if a person has an open face, if an object looks and feels strong and right. This is the small world.

There's another world, one that I experience intellectually.

This is the big world.

I filter and judge information with my facilities of rationality and objectivity. I also bring and apply my aesthetic sense to the information that I am exposed to.


barcamp portland

barcamp portland was fun.

I dug up a photo of me demoing jQuery and firebug

I found out about openID, adobe spry, wagn, the glass plate game and some other neat stuff and spread the word about moonedit a bit because I love multi-user simultaneous editing.

I found out that other people like jQuery for the same reasons I do. Also affirmed that javascript libraries are evolving for different niches and that there's room for at least 5-10 to coexist very neatly.

I described my professional persona and technical interests an absurd number of times (20? 40?) which was a suprisingly useful exercise.

I wrote a saying on the whiteboard before my session and then saw it on Brad's blog which I saw when he sent me to his identity page when he was explaining openID during that session. These cirularities are kind of neat, but I'm feling like this and other open threads need to be fully connected and closed this week and I haven't had time.

Les Gilles de Binche

These oddly dressed Belgians may have been inspired by visiting incas in the 1400's.

the pants

the jackets and masks

the hats

Leave it to the culture that brought us Tintin, Santa Claus and the Smurfs.

creation myth (Pelasgian)

Once upon a time there was an egg floating on the ocean. A sword began to come towards the egg, and it cut the egg in two. Eros was in the egg.

Without the division of the sword love is impossible.

Once matter appeared, the great divider (sword) appeared and applied itself to matter. The cutter divided matter into heavy stuff and light stuff. It divided light stuff further into fire and air.

It cut again and heavy stuff became water and earth. It divided earth into mainland and island, it divided water into salt water and fresh water.

The sword kept cutting and cutting. The endless dividing resulted in the spectacularly articulated, beautifuly fractal, exuberant flourishing of material and metaphysical variation.

And the cutting never stops. There is a continuous process of distinction, disambiguation, and defining/re-defining of identity.

community centric

Here are a couple of links and a feed specific to the portland area. I'm posting these realizing I don't bookmark anymore. Anything that doesn't go into my weblog gets googled the next time I need it.



meetup groups in portland

the perils of obedience

The perils of obedience is the scariest thing I've read in a while. Experiments showed how participants would administer (seemingly) painful electric shocks to actors posing as co-participants.

The fluidity of people's morals in the face of the authority of the conductor of the experiment is amazing.

This style of experiment was banned and I can see why, but at the same time I'm glad that the expereiments were done and I think that we should take a lesson both from the facts that they exposed and also from the fact that we banned them. Presumably this was to protect people from situations where their moral stances would be subject to stress and possibly traumatic compromise.


there has always been struggle, the striving for consciousness will always be embattled

biking chernobyl

The area around the Chernobyl plant in Russia is now passable if you have a dosimeter and some knowledge of what you are doing.

The entire area is deserted, like a modern day Pompeii. It will be at least 300 years before it is livable again.

These photos and words are incredibly poignant.

national do not call number

Now all we need is a no spam number!

register your number

yahoo news

airport security

I've been flying a bit more recently, and my eyes are open as I go through security. I'm thinking about what is being checked and how effective it is.

The last time I flew, they flipped through my notebooks page by page but let my altoids tin go through without opening it. That's a 3 by 4 by 1 inch metal box, opaque to x-rays. I'm guessing that with today's technology you could fit something pretty dangerous into that space.

Here's an article on Canadian airport security, highlighting the fact that security measures focus on the most publicly visible factors, and neglect training for airline industry personnel.

I haven't seen a similar report for US airports, but suspect that many of the issues are the same.

supreme court decides against Eldred


Americans are not mere passive consumers, dully absorbing images invented in distant corporate laboratories. We hatch our own ideas and compose our own stories, drawing on pop culture without absorbing it blindly. We should look with disfavor on any law that tells us to shut up and get back on the couch.

Dow sues Bhopal survivors

Dow chemical, owner of Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster, is suing a group of peaceful protestors.

Greenpeace article

used computers and identity theft

This is classic. People getting rid of computers often leave them full of info.

If it's the CIA getting rid of the computer, then the issues are obvious.

In some states, the state government donates obsolete computers to prisons for training inmates.

Result: identity theft. The article doesn't say, but if it's the state government, it could be a lot more than just someone's personal computer, it could be a whole database.

Come to think of it though, if you wanted to do identity theft, hitting ebay for used hard drives might be a really good way to get started.

wired article

centralization of authority

national geographic article about pre-incan society that held centralized control by collecting the mummies of rural communities.

this document describes the normans who centralized documentation of ownerships and contractual obligations. Documents had to be mirrored in the central archive in order to be considered legitimate. This marginalized all existing agreements and contracts and gave the repository keepers unprecedented powers. from

water wars

"Do you like coffee in the morning? Do you want to be able to take a shower? Or would you like industrial waste coming from your faucet?" Find out where the water that you drink comes from and you keep it clean, it's that simple.

Urban planning, utopianism, new urbanism, european experiements, pattern language

Urban planning, utopianism, new urbanism, european experiements, pattern language

From :

Simply, ask yourself this: Would you be willing to pay extra if you could be assured your neighbor always had his lawn mowed, that his house paint never chipped, that he never had a car up on cement blocks in his drive way? Now ask yourself this: Would you be willing to pay extra if you were constantly told what was wrong with your house and what you had to do to fix it, that you have to mow your lawn and remove your broken down car from the front driveway? It is a paradox that residents of Celebration must live in. Live by the rules, and you are living in paradise. Break the rules, and you are living in a totalitarian state.


Whatever alternative or optimal approaches may exist, it's clear that "de- presentation" is as fundamental a force as re-presentation as we approach the brave new world of massive databases and cameras everywhere. Some new and difficult issues need to be addressed. Camera zapping may provide a robust metaphor for these deeper issues and help to stimulate and provoke solutions.

environmental testing

community scorecard: missed dioxins and brown sites...

...simple, consumer tests for toxins. as activism and for personal safety

...environemental observance of corporations as activism/protest


...that web site for people who walk approved logging sites and make sure that the agreements were honored

...simple, always on wireless webcam.."witness cams"

tracking stuff

also those cameras that guy kept releasing... the travelling gnome...

The Great Firewall of China

Info about how the Chinese government controls internet usage. The first half of the article is about low tech political solutions such as raiding people's houses in the middle of the night and throwing them in jail.

The second half is interesting though, and talks some about how the (only partially effective) blocking is done. It also mentions the dance between the anonymous web surfing proxies and the governments that want to limit access.

The report home page - pdf - html

Test a URL to see if it is blocked from China.

The Drug War and Terrorism: Opium, Cocaine and Cash

Drugs are used to finance terrorism. The drug war makes drug production extra profitable. Therefore the drug war funds terrorism.


Our place came with a fig tree, and since this is our first fall here, we've appreciated the tree (fig trees are awesome) but didn't know if it would fruit in this climate and location. It's hot enough here but the tree is a bit crowded and has a fair amount of shade.

The good news came in the form of a modest crop of black figs. Fresh figs are among my favorite things. I love the way they are soft and juicy and crunchy at the same time. I love the way they look inside. I heard that they are not really fruits at all but flowers turned inside out.


Saddam Hussein\'s defiant presidential policy

"Despite repeated American efforts to change the situation, Saddam Hussein defiantly continues his longtime policy of being the president of Iraq," Bush said. "The time has come for this man to step down, because we want him to."

the onion

the other 9/11

On September 11, 1973 General Pinoche overthrew President Allende of Chile in a military coupe. Both the coup and Pinoche's ensuing rule had extensive support from the Nixon and Ford administrations and the CIA, despite(?) his being a dictator running a repressive police state.

The coup itself killed 3,000, Pinoche's regime killed many many more. A death tally well beyond the trade center bombings.

Or how about the union carbide accident in Bhopal? the details of this are truly horrifying, and way beyond the scale of the 9/11 plane crashes. The negligent parties are clearly known, yet no-one has ever been held accountable.,3605,794860,00.html


First off, a refutation of the idea that more security means less privacy and freedom. Argued by a very smart computer security expert: (The rest of this article is good too.)

Next, advice about fighting terrorism gathered from actual experience with fighting terrorism. A related fact: people have been fighting terrorism for a long time, it didn't start on 9/11!!

Quoted from the above:

Ask now of any action you mean to take -- bombing, assassination, ground war -- whether it means there will be more or fewer terrorists when the children who are now in preschool grow up to fighting age.

Should we invade Iraq?

Opinion poll from the onion.

The opinion of Bush's middle east envoy.

Why do we expect the oil industry to make a good decision about our foreign policy in the middle east?

When asked about the gulf war in a presidential debate, Bush openly admitted he has a conflict of interest when evaluating the wisdom of that war.

Third block down on this page full transcript of the debate

American Lies

awesome rant

A brief history of oil and politics.

We're in Santa Barbara!

Fleeing the smoke, there are major fires near our place in Willow Creek. Here we are visiting family and friends in the Santa Ynez Valley, just inland from Santa Barbara. Visited good friends in Palo Alto on our way down. Bugged their cat with our rambunctious youngsters.

Visiting our old Aikido Dojo and friends there. They have an incredible new place in the mountains and will be moving up there next month and starting to work on a new dojo.

I also met with friends, clients, fellow contractors in Santa Barbara. It's so good to see everyone.

I've taken the entire office on the road and have been fairly productive. Makes it not a vacation, but it's closer than it would have been had I stayed home...

It's nice down here and I look forward to going home again.

Current wildfire information:


Isn't there a methodology for phrasing a questionnaire in neutral terms so that the results do not reflect the biases of the questioner?

Following my curiosity, yes, you really can buy a machine gun if you want to. For rabbit hunting, of course.

Here is the simplest summary I could find of the legal restrictions the federal government imposes on gun sales. State restrictions may be more strict.

I'm not sure how I feel about people running around with submachine guns. Actually, I am sure. It scares and bothers me.

But I'm not sure what we should do with our gun laws. Given the fact that tons of these weapons are already in the possessions of the military, the police, various militia and survival groups, gangs, mobs and taxi drivers, how can I get behind a law that will prevent me from buying one? I feel like I'm the only one left who doesn't already have their assault rifle, so what good would that law do?

It may be that manufacturing and selling guns is not a good thing.

"In some countries, it is easier and cheaper to buy an AK-47 than to attend a movie or provide a decent meal." More. On a tangent, here's travel advice for Nigeria.

The fact that these incredible killing machines exist and can be bought by my neighbors makes me realize how little I know about them.