The Quakers say “meetings for business” whereas the general populace says “business meetings”. Given my Quaker heritage, it makes sense I’d go with the more stilted sounding expression, but then I might alienate my readers when I appear to not be describing actual Meetings for Business in the sense of minuted gatherings of Friends engaged in the worshipful process of steering their Meeting forward through time, in accordance with Spirit. Fair warning, in case you were here for some anthropology about the Quakers.

For example, I just returned from a breakfast meet up with the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy. Terry works on what he calls an epistemology of engineering and has a wide network of readings, authors, institutions feeding data into his model of an “engineering world view.” He wants to assist engineers in carving out their own professional identity independently of any “applied science” meme that others might try to slap on to their discipline. That’s not how he sees things.

This weekend, I was getting an education in American History from Glenn Stockton. He had Into the West out of the library and has gone through all six movies. He showed me most of the first one, letting me appreciate for myself the high production values. Lots of work had gone in to recreating the Lakota lifestyle in particular. This was the time of Jedediah Smith. Two wheel-makers take off to seek their fortunes out west.

Into the West (six movie DVD set)

One anachronism I may have detected: towards the start of the movie an actor says “where in the Sam Hill did you get this?” or something with “Sam Hill” in it. According to my understanding, that expression traces to a Sam Hill who would live later in time. I’d have to go back and watch it again to be sure.

Then we moved to Magic Trip from Magnolia Pictures, about that first bus trip back and forth across North America, from California to the 1964 World’s Fair and back. That one was in New York and featured Futurama, all about freeways and cars. The Merry Pranksters were not that impressed, perhaps because they were already road weary. Nor had they received a warm welcome from Timothy Leary, though Alpert seemed pretty cool. That was before he rebranded as Ram Dass. I learned a lot from this film, about the recent past. Next would come Woodstock. I was in Italy back then.

Speaking of history, I find the Web still rather poor in the timelines department. We don’t have enough cool graph databases keeping track of who corresponded with whom, or met with whom. What was the relationship between Fourier and the Carnots? That came up at our ISEPP breakfast. I mentioned Hitler and Wittgenstein as another conundrum. Had they learned to hate each other in Linz? A fascinating thesis. Where are the timelines that spell it all out? Are they classified? I’m sure some of them are.

On Facebook, I’ve been discussing the Banana Republic (BR) and whether it qualifies as a “military dictatorship” or not. I’m picturing a copyleft fork of the CIA World Fact Book making room for this virtual republic, a dystopia.

This was against the backdrop of theater operations in what they’re still calling Syria.

Screenwriters wanted to establish a “short circuit” between televised atrocities happening, and a cathartic form of “swift justice” that could keep the legislative branch forever on the sidelines, as screenwriting does not require legislation (we learned that from theater and television: a script is sufficient whereas “laws” are unreadably long and incomprehensible).

The knee-jerk responses of a lawless mob might lead to a much broader conflagration (had already done so), but so what? The important thing was to assert the principle that overt state violence could be inflicted independently of any international bodies giving permission, the United Nations in particular. Citizens of said socialist republic, could either put up or shut up.

Given my privileged background as the elder son in a technocratic family, albeit a Quaker one, I was not especially shocked by the New England Transcendentalist view of some invisible army or college influencing the overt actions of a nation’s military. Ideologies have a back room function. People talk about “capitalism” and “socialism” as if these ideas have fixed meaning.

When mostly males band together in hierarchical command structures wherein soldiers own property in common, such as airplanes and battleships, but within a rigid caste system (officers versus enlisted), how capitalist is that? The phenomenon does not seem confined to capitalist societies by any means. Certainly said structures are rarely democratic. Higher ranking people command the lower ranking, in a pecking order. Voting by secret ballot is not part of the equations, nor is polling more generally.

Is not the whole purpose of the District of Columbia to give birth to and provide sustenance for this undemocratic lifestyle? I would not say it’s “market driven” so much as controlled by an invisible hand.

In Critical Path, by an American futurist and contributor to the World’s Fair in Montreal, we’re allowed to view this way of life as socialist. With campus bases around the world, this socialist system seems on the brink of becoming our Global University. That would be a welcome transition from the current Nuthouse phase. Spaceship Earthians (student faculty of the Global U) deserve better than a Banana Republic.

Terry gave me a copy of Scale, by Geoffrey West. This looks relevant. The concept of “scale” relates to “frequency” for me. “Angle” relates to shape, irrespective of scale. Angles include central angles subtended by chords. Once all the critical angles are specified, you have no choice but to simply grow or shrink, every vector an eigenvector.

My final meeting for business today was with Dr. Tag, my Palestinian friend. She’s Jordanian, and US-American, per papers (documents). We met at Lucky Lab on Hawthorne and discussed a number of subjects, including the ethics around psychotropics.

My vision of Coffee Shops Network (CSN) is that staffers have opinions about whatever psychotropics might be available over the counter, which may be none beyond say alcohol and coffee, or tea. Whatever the ambient culture is permissive towards. The connection to “temple worker” is real enough, if we invent (innovate) as much as we copy.

Lots of anthropology fits in here. The ambient culture has a twisted relationship with psychotropics, entheogens and so on. What was funny in Ken Kesey’s story (see above: Magical Tour), is he was the proverbial straight arrow, a student athlete training for the Olympics. The government itself offered to experiment on its best and brightest as volunteers. Kesey was first in line, and despite the austere mental hospital ambience, enjoyed his experience. The government opened his eyes to the possibilities of LSD and whatever. Kesey decided to share his revelation with the masses, until he got himself in trouble with the law and reversed gears.

Further (the well-traveled bus) on the big screen

A Coffee Shop should adhere to community standards, which is easy to say, but then communities are sometimes conflicted about their own values. I won’t be able to serve as senior management in all cases.

For those unfamiliar with CSN, I’ve envisioned those as campus facilities that sometimes offer a slew of computer games that pay to charity. Winners get to be heroes, and log their own track records. Define yourself by what you champion.

Dr. Tag and I both worked with or around CUE (Center for Urban Education) in Portland, but not at the same time. We met later. I’d been to Ramallah in the 1970s and she’d attended the Friends School there. I talked a lot about free and open source software. She told me “foss” meant “fart” in Arabic. I’ve not forgotten that.

Later tonight: Scale, by Geoffrey West, the book Terry gave me this morning, is quite engaging. He’s providing lots of information about “power laws” starting with the simplest: as the linear dimensions of anything increase by a factor N, area goes up by N to the 2nd, and volume by N to the 3rd power. However metabolic rate, crime rates, calories needed, by grow as a sub- or superlinear rate. Engineering, around ship design for example, didn’t get really good until these power laws were understood.

In one anecdote from the early 1960s, dovetailing with Ken Kesey’s officially managed LSD experience, investigators were into dosing an elephant at the Oklahoma zoo. How much LSD should one give to an elephant? They didn’t apply the right power law and overdosed poor Tusko, who fell over in a fit and died in a couple of hours.

General Systems Theory (GST) has always included power laws. I’m glad to see D’Arcy Thompson getting his due. West writes often about parts not predicting the whole in complex systems, however he refrains from using the term syntropy for negentropy, or synergetic, or Synergetics.

Lots online.