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torture taxi

Upon driving to Union Station, Portland, Oregon on Friday, to meet an Amtrak train, the Coast Starlight, I heard a squeak squeak that varied in frequency with the Nissan’s velocity.

This was the 1997 Maxima I inherited from Lindsey, aka “torture taxi”; she used it as an escape pod from Savannah, Georgia. She was ejecting from her IT vortex, in which she’d been working for GulfStream.

I opened the hood once at the station, and saw the problem, but didn’t have the vocabulary. The cam shaft pulley, protruding from the lower left side of the engine (observer facing towards the back) was unstable. K&M fixed it in under twenty four hours and now I’m back on the road, ready to head out to Happy Valley to share MIT Scratch with young genius kids.

I’m tempted to keep on driving after that, to one of the farms, where internationals (aka tourists) gather to learn the ropes. You’ve maybe seen my Global U writings before.

Our campus network is mostly on the drawing board when it comes to the Truckers for Peace project. Too many arterials are too unsafe. When I did the Khyber Pass in the 1970s, we didn’t have to worry about the stuff NATO has to worry about.

However, I’m duty-bound to share Python with Silicon Valley types in California. I can’t be driving off to the high desert this evening.

We meet by closed circuit TV, except in 2018 that’s all just internet. I had another group last night.

We’re studying multi-level indexing in Pandas, using various data sets. I even included a saved table of sphere center coordinates (CCP packing), subdivided by layer going down (1, 12, 42, 92… balls) and by type of coordinate system going across.

I’m using both IVM and XYZ coordinates, the former being so-called “Quadray coordinates”. I’ll put a link to the Jupyter Notebook, open source on Github.

I’ve shared a Synergetics Folio with folks in Cairo, way back in the 1980s. That’s when I started working on General Systems Theory (GST) for Capitalism’s Invisible Army.

I sent the paper to Bucky care of the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) and according to Bonnie, at one time the BFI archivist, the paper went onward into the Stanford collection.

Fuller wrote back saying the paper was excellent. I photocopied that letter for some insiders, then lost or destroyed the original, making the copies more valuable.

Later, in 1985, I wrote A CIA Report on the Centers Network and shared that around too. I forget at what point it got back to Applewhite, if I ever knew.

The focus was apropos as in those days Bucky Fuller was making shared appearances with Werner Erhard. Neither was financially supporting the other. No est Foundation funds were lining Fuller’s pocket.

Bucky considered this relationship important to establish for the record as he was singing Erhard’s praises. If it turned out Bucky was being funded by Erhard under the table, behind the scenes, that would make him a paid shill would it not? But wasn’t integrity the name of the game? Fuller was sensitive to such issues.

On the other hand, we had The Hunger Project, aimed at eliminating death by starvation as a cause of death by the year 2000. Fuller was on the advisory board. The Education Project emerged around the same time, with a rhombic triacontahedron (RT) for a logo.

The Fuller Projection (a nationless world map) was showing up in the Centers. I volunteered at the New York Area Center in those days, which occupied much of the East Side Bus Terminal, a Port Authority facility.

Although we had big training rooms, enough Seminars were going on in parallel that we’d need hotel space as well. As a logistics supervisor, my job was to get the bankers boxes transported, from the Center to the hotel and back. I had a team of assistants.

By day, I was a humble mathematics and world history teacher, for a good quality Catholic school for young women, in Jersey City, New Jersey, where I lived. I was just off Journal Square, near the PATH station, behind the Loews.

The nickname for the Nissan, “torture taxi”, is an allusion to extreme rendition, in which GulfStream jets played a role. The book Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA’s Rendition Flights, by Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson is one of the most authoritative on this program. If you dig, you might connect the dots to Oregon, and a story in Willamette Week entitled North by Northwest.

By September 11, 2001, I had moved back to the city of my boyhood, Portland, and raised a family. I was still in touch with E.J. Applewhite and was continuing to travel, to South Africa, Lesotho, and Bhutan.

I was in Cape Town for the Parliament of World Religions, where the Urners represented the Religious Society of Friends (unofficially, like we didn’t have a booth or anything). My wife Dawn Wicca flew on the Durban, before the conference began, for a workshop with the Dalai Lama. We got to stay with the then Deputy Minister of Defense for South Africa, a Friend herself.

I wrote that report on the Centers Network of my own volition. I wanted people I was collaborating with to understand my thinking. No one was paying me for my thoughts, at least not in coin of the realm. My payment was in the form of ongoing friendships and working relationships.

The school paid me, for teaching calculus and other stuff. The Centers Network stuff was volunteer. I’ve always believed in community service and back in Portland put a lot of hours into AFSC work (American Friends Service Committee). I think I was paid for some of that work as well, like when I wrote for and later edited Asia Pacific Issues News (hard to find!).

Dad did not live to see 9–11 (2001) as he and mom were in a head on collision in South Africa on October 13, 2000. Mom survived, thanks to really good medical care in Bloemfontein.

I flew out there, from Portland, a few days after getting the phone call from the US Embassy in Johannesburg. The Maseru embassy was also helpful. A lot of them knew Carol and Jack from Hash House Harriers, which is a running club, nothing to do with hashish. I still have some of their T-shirts. Mom is 89 years old now. I’m about to turn 60.

Applewhite was obsessed with the future of Fuller’s papers back when we worked together. He was pleased when Stanford University stepped up to the plate. A lot of curating of collateral went on under Joe Moore’s watch as well. He had one of the first websites devoted to Bucky and later bequeathed it all to Trevor Blake, who turned out to be a neighbor, a co-resident of Asylum District (named for Dr. Hawthorne’s first mental hospital for Oregonians). Small world.

The Hunger Project was controversial as it was designed as a media campaign first and foremost. The goal was to shift the context to where people saw the challenge as both realistic and a source of integrity. We could create lasting infrastructure and institutions around this shared objective.

However, people were cynical that a media campaign could work. The initial hubris around what might be possible started to fade. War broke out in Europe. NATO was bombing Serbia. Dystopian fantasies were taking over. The Power of Nightmares (a documentary) offered some analysis.

Although there’s still quite a bit of interest in the positive future sketched by Bucky, as evidenced by House of Tomorrow (a new film, just showing up in theaters at the time of this writing), the level of cynicism has remained high and none of his interesting mathematics gets much airplay in the schools, not even at the university level.

The geodesic domes were a sensation, but the concentric hierarchy of polyhedrons, with a lot of whole number volumes, never caught on. That leaves the very few who really got into these topics, such as myself, a lot of elbow room.

However things progress slowly when so few get involved. If you ask me, the level of neglect has been dangerously high, very risky. I question the competence of those behind the decision-making.

When I lived outside the USA and saw what it promoted about itself, by way of PR, the geodesic dome and sphere were often front and center. Disney’s EPCOT was that way too. The geodesic sphere was the symbol of positive futurism. People still looked to the USA as a beacon of hope.

Probably that’s why Fuller was awarded the Medal of Freedom, right around the same time he was concluding, in Grunch of Giants, that the Age of Nations was coming to a close.

He was something of a globalist, in sounding that death knell. A lot of nationalists were inspired to rally, and to prolong the Age of Nations as long as possible, at least in theater.

As said theatrics became more farcical, credibility continued to wane. One needs integrity for credibility and sustainability.

By this time, the so-called USA has preemptively trashed the cradle of civilization and routinely flouts international law, as the only superpower with a global footprint. The imposter monster lives on, endowed with something akin to corporate personhood.

Given peoples’ loyalty to old ideals, the tragicomedy grinds on. Only a few with philosophical or religious training are in a position to rise above all the brainwashing and question the premises, the axioms behind the machinery.

Religions have a longer history than the nations, whereas philosophies are less likely to take an Age of Nations for granted.

The coexistence of globalist and nationalist paradigms is likely to persist. Those with stronger diplomatic skills have the capacity to work in both contexts.

The campus network of remote schools is one way the Global University is accommodating next generations of diplomat. They converge on Smith Rock and other places, to learn the ropes, to build relationships.

Some might have worked with Club Med.

Tour guides, long haul truckers, scuba divers, horse back riders, martial arts instructors, dancers, puppeteers, animators… we’re a varied cast of characters.

Social media help us stay in touch with one another. We’re interested in Deep Democracy, as Arnold Mindell calls it. I’ll be joining some workshops at his Process Work Institute later this month. PWI is in downtown Portland.

Well, that’s enough for today. I need to make that drive out to Happy Valley, with a Nissan full of Chromebooks. I’m thinking we’ll look at the “cloning” feature in MIT Scratch. That’s where a sprite spawns copies of itself that recognized themselves as copies, and so may run their own code, as clones.

Me in 2008

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