Kirby Urner's Blog (56)

Are Computer Games Violent?

In one sense, of course many computer games are extremely violent, with blood and guts flying everywhere, lovingly rendered.  We may say the same of fairy tales too -- pretty grim.  The mind is a violent place, just read the Bible if you don't believe me -- and a lot of that stuff actually happened!  Earth, the planet, is surely violent.  As humans aiming to be humane, we're concerned with making it no more violent than it needs to be.  Gratuitous violence, like unnecessary suffering, are…


Added by Kirby Urner on 2nd mo. 29, 2016 at 12:00pm — No Comments

On Racism

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…


Added by Kirby Urner on 2nd mo. 29, 2016 at 11:00am — No Comments

Active Duty Friends

I was listening to another episode of NPR, government funded, actively recruiting women into the military, celebrating combat as glorious service for the Homeland. 

Drop everything, including your children if need be, when you hear the call.  Your country needs you.  Yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do or die.  These values start to disseminate as early as elementary school.…


Added by Kirby Urner on 2nd mo. 5, 2016 at 11:30am — No Comments

Being an "Out" Quaker

We know the meaning of "out" from LGBTQ discourse [1].  To be "out" about X is the opposite of being "in the closet" about it, i.e. secretive about X, whatever X is (sexual orientation or whatever).

In the dark past, "coming out" as a Quaker (Friend) could be costly, in terms of reputation, ability to hold on to property and so on, so many kept their convincement in the closet or revealed it only to close others, many of them likewise in the closet.

Nowadays, we suffer a…


Added by Kirby Urner on 1st mo. 23, 2016 at 1:00pm — No Comments

RSoF Sends Notifies King: We Opt Out of Outward Wars

Posted to my Facebook profile this morning:…

Today in history (some years ago), the Religious Society of Friends declared itself to The Man, notifying said "King" of their opt out policy w/r to SOWs (stupid outward wars -- redundant).

"Inward wars" e.g. the Lamb's War [tm], which is a war of the…


Added by Kirby Urner on 1st mo. 21, 2016 at 2:46pm — No Comments

The Fourth King: Christmas in July

We never see the fourth king in a manger scene.

Um, yes I know these weren't really kings.  They believed in following stars around though; my story keeps that element.

The fourth king had less adept court astrologers or had more travel snags, or for whatever reason, doesn't show until like July-August, somewhere in there. 

The holy family is gracious and accept the gift.  Jesus, precocious as always, is showing signs of future greatness.  The family is doing better by…


Added by Kirby Urner on 12th mo. 24, 2015 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Going In to Go Out

There is a quiet, open place in the depths of the mind, to which we can go many times in the day and lift up our soul in praise, thankfulness and conscious unity. With practice this God-ward turn of the mind becomes an almost constant direction, underlying all our other activities.

~ Kenneth Boulding, 1910-1993

We've heard a lot about "Quakernomics" lately, and indeed, the book by that title is a…


Added by Kirby Urner on 12th mo. 14, 2015 at 11:31pm — 1 Comment

Group Theory

This title may seem a misnomer in the rear view mirror, but is meant with a touch of humor, given its abstract feel, and my application:  the mundane affairs of keeping our Meetings' records.

A group, for our purposes, is "a set of Friends" like a Committee (Standing or Ad Hoc), a Study Group (like Joe's Bible Study at Multnomah), or even just some annual mailing, PR for Annual Session lets say.

NPYM, the Yearly Meeting, joins the database as one more meeting, of the Yearly…


Added by Kirby Urner on 12th mo. 7, 2015 at 4:30pm — 8 Comments

Archived Memo: Quakers & Open Source

[ memo from npym-it-discuss, NPYM's IT Committee listserv ]

I found myself explaining to my class last night, about 20 people, mostly in California, that the difference between open and closed source software might be thought of in terms of board games. 

That gets me thinking about Quakers and their Game Nights.  We have them here at Multnomah.  Friends break out the board games in the social hall and go crazy.  We maybe haven't done that in awhile?  Simeon Hyde was an avid…


Added by Kirby Urner on 12th mo. 4, 2015 at 11:26am — No Comments

Speaking of Serpents

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…


Added by Kirby Urner on 12th mo. 3, 2015 at 3:00am — No Comments

So What's So Terrifying About Christianity?

What terrifies people most about Christianity?  Pope Francis is just winding up his tour of the US and from a Quaker standpoint, his call to US Congress to withdraw from the Arms Bazaar (its main activity) and to focus on helping the people (what a concept!) seems entirely benign.  My mom is clucking happily about it, and she's a world famous nuclear abolitionist.  So what's the problem?

Catholicism is still smarting from the Galileo episode when the church was caught squarely on the…


Added by Kirby Urner on 9th mo. 28, 2015 at 10:30am — 57 Comments

Is "Population" the Problem?

As a matter of statistical likelihood, if you just get the sound track of the discussion, and it boils down to "too many people" being the root problem, chances are these are "Anglos" in the sense of "English speakers".

Parsing the world's problems that way inherits specifically from the East India Company and Thomas Malthus in particular.  Malthus pointed out that the amount of arable land is finite and if biological forms are allowed to keep doubling, they always overwhelm the…


Added by Kirby Urner on 9th mo. 26, 2015 at 12:30pm — 1 Comment

Liberal: A Meditation on the Term

Where does this word "liberal" come from and what does it mean?  I'll dare a naive etymology to start:  "liber" is from "liberty" but I also see "book". 

Now checking Google...  Yes "tree bark" is a part of it, as if "liber" were some kind of papyrus.  The liberty one achieves by reading. 

These connect:  liberal arts; open minded;  catholic.

In the software world we sometimes pretend we have only the word "Free" which comes encumbered with two meanings: 

  • at…

Added by Kirby Urner on 9th mo. 25, 2015 at 1:00am — 11 Comments

What is a Quaker Meeting: Orientation for Newcomers

What is a Quaker Meeting?

A Quaker Meeting is about offering the general public opportunities for community service in the context of a role-based institution designed around Quaker values.  These roles are unpaid in most cases, but not unimportant and may be regarded as in-kind donations of time-energy by those filling them.

Quaker values include a lack of hierarchy, which does not mean anarchy.  A Meeting is a set of structured concurrent processes…


Added by Kirby Urner on 9th mo. 22, 2015 at 7:30am — 7 Comments

Quakers Heart Beer

Some Quakers confuse their brand of Quakerism with Puritanism, contemporary with Quakerism, and which may have leached in and diluted the admixture.  A robust, flavorful Quakerism without the taint of adulteration, includes a taste for beer.  Many Quakers have been…


Added by Kirby Urner on 9th mo. 2, 2015 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Networks and Networking

Sometime in the early 1980s, I came across Ted Nelson's Computer Lib / Dream Machines.  The book had two covers and was to be read in two directions, with the more staid presentation going forward, the more revolutionary coming the other way.

He was on about hypertext and Project Xanadu.  This was all before Tim Berners-Lee…


Added by Kirby Urner on 5th mo. 2, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

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