WWVB : What Would Vannevar Blog?

NextBurgh, PA          @VannevarB      About      Pittsburgh Murals
November 15, 2014

My Next Tattoo, NPR Edition

After years-long intermittent consideration, I believe I've found the source of my next tattoo: Public Radio Tattoos

November 06, 2014

Conflict Kitchen Pittsburgh : breaking Palestinian bread

  • The first rule of Occupation is, don't talk about Occupation.
  • The second rule of Occupation is, no discussion of the subjects as human beings.
  • The third rule of Occupation is, don't let on you're afraid of them.

Conflict Kitchen is an awesome project that also produces wonderful food. The sharing of meals is a universal common reference (see, The Last Supper). Breaking bread together is always a path to understanding and cooperation.

I've enjoyed the Venezualan, Afghan, Cuban, North Korean, and Palestinian projects at Conflict Kitchen.

In October this article conveyed messages from some Israel-supporting partisans. They suggest this phase of the project is one-sided, because it presents Palestinian food and views without including Israeli food and views.

That's like saying: it's a bad Italian cultural display, it doesn't have any Irish food and completely ignores The Troubles.

The brouhaha has legs. The Jerusalem Post headline reads, US Jews outraged over Pittsburgh restaurant's Palestinian menu and then shows a photo of a Palestinian cook pouring oil over a fire (which is totally not a metaphor or a suggested framework, no nothing of the sort):

Thursday brings a Post-Gazette article and also the Conflict Kitchen response to the PG article.

Cui bono? This bit of controversy benefits these factions:

  • Militant Israeli supporters who are unwilling to see Palestinians portrayed as human beings to an American audience.
  • Zionists who are unwilling to see any civil discussion about American support for Israeli actions.
  • Fundraisers who benefit from churning controversy.
  • Those who want to discredit John Kerry and his 2016 Presidential campaign, because his spouse's endowment gave Conflict Kitchen a 50K grant a few years ago to move to their current location

The volatility of the response to the Conflict Kitchen project shows they're afraid of something. What are they afraid of? Just a guess: they don't want increased public awareness of the BDS campaign, a movement to divest from the Occupation just like ethical people divested from South African apartheid. They're afraid of Americans viewing the Occupation as Apartheid. (BDS: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.

You can support Conflict Kitchen without weighing in on whether the Israeli's are occupying the Palestinian population, banning their political organizations, denying human rights, and violating international standards by subjugating a population for 40+ years.

It's pretty clear to me that Palestine is a place, that Palestinians are occupied by Israel, that Palestine is in conflict with Israel, and that America is supporting Israel's actions and policies. To me the presentation of Palestinian food and views is completely consistent with Conflict Kitchen's mission.

People who say, don't talk about that and don't eat their food are afraid, and I wonder if that means they know they're wrong.

September 17, 2014

Fri 9/19 PARKing Day: Arrghh, Matey

In addition to being International Talk Like a Pirate Day, this Friday is PARKing day - when creative free spirits use PARKing spots to make mini-parks.
View 2014 PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh in a larger map
August 07, 2014

Sarajevo 2.0 with Air Travel this time

Something missing from 1914's pissing contests that gave us World War One was air travel - navigation in those days was surface-bound, so all the contretemps played out at altitude=zero. Now we've got a European and near-Euro sky filled with a weave of airplanes and airspace boundaries, so the petty squabbles of nation-states and tribes can indeed project into the heavens.

And there's also this:

There's two problems - problems of intent and problems of chaos. Problems of intent occur when a Ukranian plane strays into Russian territory and now it's an intruder and subject to shoot-down. Problems of chaos occur when non-standard routes and congestion cause confusion and complexity, leading to errors and tragedy. Because all those planes that aren't flying over the restricted areas are flying somewhere non-standard.
July 27, 2014

The Vectors of August

As I have written about in two earlier posts, I believe a few things.
  • I believe in young people, their clear eyes and uncompromised souls, their desire for justice and their energy.
  • I believe in people with a lot of experience and their capability to keep non-standard situations from cascading into a feedback loop of deteriorating conditions.
  • On weekends, the experienced people leave the young people unsupervised and they gain experience. On Mondays, the geezers try to cauterize the damage and convey the lessons.
  • In August, the experienced people go on extended vacations and leave the young people unsupervised, and things like WW1 and WW2 are moving into play just as the oldsters are coming back to work and getting briefed.
  • This is why I think the French are the most pragmatic people: they shut everything down in August.

Globally, the world enters this August with a local conflict in the Ukraine turned into a proxy conflict between Russia and US. ISSA declares a caliphate across Syria and Iraq. Israel in ground combat in Gaza, and opponents are well-equipped with missiles. What could go wrong?

I'd like to look at just one component of the modern world: civilian commercial aviation (airlines), while also pointing out that in many parts of the world August is the worst month for thunderstorms and rerouting. Thunderstorms also introduce non-standard operations, unplanned deviations, unexpected puzzle points into the air traffic control system.

August vacations present a double operational whammy: peak travel loads with staffing skewed to the less-experienced folks.

So take the European - North African - Middle Eastern airspace corridors, add thunderstorms, and then add one or two hastily declared no-fly zones because we "just realized" that (1) lots of motivated people can shoot down planes and (2) sometimes it happens by mistake. Paradoxically there would be tremendous confusion and possibility for error, introduced by a laudable desire for safety. The Euro ANSP's (air navigation service providers) will shut things down or slow things down in the face of the challenge, but the North African and Middle Eastern ANSP's are often under considerable political pressure.

Could it be that one of the next CNN special events won't be an airliner shot down by a Manpads or a Buk battery, but rather two airplanes knocked down by the confusion of thunderstorms and no-fly corridors during August vacation schedules?


July 19, 2014

Positively Sixth Street: Pittsburgh Cyclovia Sunday July 20, 08-12 - come out and play

Sunday mornings: lie-ins, services, brunch, coffee and the New York Times. You can have those almost any Sunday. But tomorrow, Sunday July 20th, 0800 to 1200 in Pittsburgh you can enjoy Positively Sixth Street, a Pittsburgh Cyclovia where the street is closed to cars and people and kids can walk, jog, skate, bike, and generally fool around in space that's usually not available to them. Zumba, climbing walls, yoga, n/at.1

This is part of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's downtown week, check out http://openstreetspgh.com/. Kudos to BikePgh for their initiative, and Mayor Bill Peduto for his leadership.

Come out and play in our street, Pittsburgh!

The Rise of Open Streets from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.


1Claiming the first recorded use of the Oxford comma with "n'at".