December 31, 2017: Business Call

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  • Check in
  • Opening Blessing
  • Weekly event logistics
  • Year Plan: Imbolc
  • Review WWWs
  • Review agenda
  • Space Elevator Review
  • Shawn ramble about foundation and strategy/tactics
  • Evaluations
  • Closing Blessing

Next business call

  • SolSeed Creed
  • New Videos
  • Strategic Planning


  • Eric … I’m excited about going to a powwow today at Odawa
  • Brandon … I am looking forward to kind of cleaning up some stuff … I feel like my mind is cluttered and I have lots of stuff hanging over my head and I want to simplify and clean.
  • Ben ... I’m annoyed with myself for not having brought my laptop charger, and already less enthusiastic about the game ideas I came up with
  • Shawn … Thinking about calendars … I really like the idea of the international fixed calendar where things always fall on the same day of the week … Today is year day. Today I’m doing a fast with L and not doing anything new yearsey normal. Go into the New Year fresh.

Opening Blessing

We are excited to see what 2018 brings individually and collectively. May we find within this group inspiration and support to live according to our highest aspirations. --Blessed Be

Weekly Events Logistics

Service rotation: Eric, Ben, Shawn, Brandon, Rico, Shelley
  • Jan 6th Service: 8:30 AM PDT / 11:30 EDT … Ben
  • Jan 7th Business Call: 8:30 AM PDT / 11:30 EDT

Year Plan


Date: Feburary 3rd 20:21 (PST) / 23:21 (EST)

  • Ottawa … skating, fajitas/deep-fried ice cream and games?
  • Portland … hike in Tryon ending with deep-fried ice cream dinner and games?

WW(W)s from last time

  • Brandon … talk with Shelley about when to have the Space Elevator event … by today
  • Ben … email Walt about methanol … by next call
  • Eric … Don’t forget to be awesome … ongoing
  • Eric ... Do stuff for SolSeed and then claim it as a WWW retroactively ... by about 15 minutes into the next call
  • Eric ... Sort lego ... by 15 minutes into the space elevator event.


  • Brandon … Get online
  • Brandon … Talk to Shelley about how to maintain energy through holidays next year and put more into Solstice and Space Elevator celebrations

Space Elevator Evaluation/Review

  • Ben … I notice that it was really frustrating for Brandon
  • Brandon … I had had too much holiday, a lot of pressure and grind at work, and Shelley being on call at work … I wasn't well-prepared … I need to find a way to get through the holidays with more emotional reserve and rebalancing more toward the things I care about
  • Eric … I enjoyed the Martian Rails game … we never finished but we may continue this afternoon
  • Brandon … I’d like to open up the space elevator event next year and invite a bunch of kids to work on them
  • Shawn … Is the focus on the space elevator climbers or is there room for other futuristic launch platforms, or at least things like a base station? Is it a celebration of technology in general or is it space elevator specifically?
    • Eric … Until a couple years ago we were actually doing rocket launches (estes model rockets). That was a lot of fun. It’s not a set thing that we have to do space elevator. I'd like to do more rocketry, but a couple years in a row I froze trying to do it in Ottawa.
    • Brandon … Building the climber is fun, but also hard. We should maybe consider building climbers before the event, and then during the event the kids can add passenger cabins, and we can launch a few rockets and play games. And if Shawn wanted to throw in other launch methods, that would be great too.
  • Shawn … one of the things I’d like to do is send something up on a high altitude balloon with a Raspberry Pi … put a kid or lego or gi joe to take a picture with the curvature of the Earth in the picture
    • Eric … Some kids did a project like that that used free Wi-Fi to send emailed photos
    • Shawn … we could put up a radio with images that are going wide … packet radio (ham license required)
  • Brandon … we should invite Mathew to bring his kites too
  • Brandon … we could also do some JP Aerospacey things with balloons
  • Brandon … look up PSAS (Portland State Aerospace Society) … they go to a big rocket-launching event in Brothers, Oregon every year

Shawn ramble about foundation and strategy/tactics

The core of what I see in my vision is the idea of knowledge and self knowledge in the universe. I have taken to describing life in terms of self knowledge. The ability of the universe to understand these complex structures we call life. The process of evolution is really just entropy … only the Life that has enough knowledge to survive and adapt. Any life that creates adaptation can be considered to have produced knowledge. The universe says if that's good knowledge, it survives/persists that knowledge. Life creates this massive complexity at the scale it operates. (Below the scale of self-replicating molecules, life can't exist.)

That is how I see life through the process of evolution where it survived all these massive extinction events. Life that can survive anywhere is what survives the big extinction events. The environment has changed and it has to find new ways to operate and adapt. Until we get to us where consciousness and the Dawkins idea of now propagating memes rather than genes. Knowledge has taken a different form, less of a chemical form, but for consciousness it's experience. We operate still in the same sort of patterns where knowledge of your environment conveys advantages. A lot of people have structured religions around practices that allow people to survive in the environments where they were invented. Bringing us to this point where we have so much knowledge of the universe. It is the knowledge always wrapping in on itself. Metacognition. Consciousness knows its role in the universe. Now we know about extinction events, and that we are in this grace period before the next major cataclysm that will wipe out everything except bacteria. Because of our knowledge of that, we have a purpose. The idea of knowledge is the purpose, it is the complexity. This idea about spreading life is about spreading that part of the universe that knows itself. Us as a member of that family, as a self-knowing member of that family, it is our purpose to spread life. The best way to go about that is by increasing those mechanisms through which we evolved including self knowledge. We know our place in time and very much about how the universe works. Now it is about directing ourselves as a culture. One that knows the place of Earth in the grand scheme of things. If those ideas and that knowledge can compete with all those other ideas that are less adapted to this environment we find ourselves in. I feel like that is how we can move from where we are to the next step, but I don't feel we can go from where we are to that without going through a very bad period. That is why I describe myself as a Doomer and I believe that collapse is inevitable.

My Foundation idea is based on Asimov's Foundation series. (recap of Foundation … Galactic encyclopedia) The plan is “Rather than collapse and 10,000 years of darkness. His foundation of the smartest and the knowledge, placed really far away from where the collapse is going to happen, that can radically reduce that period of darkness." That is where I see , where my thoughts are is that we should be working toward building that Foundation that is ready to be built upon for when all this collapses under its own weight. The analogy that I use is a rainforest, forest fires are natural events that are part of the process of creation. We try to prevent forest fires, but then underbrush overgrowth creates hot fires that kill the whole forest. In nature, the underbrush catches fire periodically and returns nutrients to the soil. The seeds that have been waiting take root because of the fire and it increases the diversity of the entire region. My idea of a Foundation is to be that seed. Get as many people on board with the knowledge that is important for recreating society and put it someplace safe. In the event of a collapse, that seed can create something new.

What that foundation looks like:

  • It's a school really.
  • Kind of like Stephenson's Anathem: Campuses where lots of knowledge was retained and people who believed in knowledge and wanted to seek knowledge would go there and work on that.
  • Like a Jesuit university but Foundationist rather than …
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • How to build your own radio systems
  • Rockets
  • How to go to another planet
  • And preserve knowledge in the event of a Black Swan event that destroys life, e.g. Yosemite supervolcano exploding
  • Foundation is essentially a school where people can learn and learn to love learning


  • Eric … I totally get that. I think that the idea of creating some resilience for the human project is definitely a worthwhile thing. I think it is pretty obvious that doing that in conjunction with other people who are working on that
  • Eric … I wonder if we aren't close to the point in genetic engineering where we could create a Dyson tree (a tree that grows its own greenhouse that can withstand vacuum and survive anywhere in the Solar System)
    • If we could actually engineer a Dyson tree in the Oort cloud that can send out spores to other comets and even other stars' comet clouds when they approach … panspermia in a different way … complex life panspermia rather than Mautner's focus on microbes … all different complex life could evolve from them
    • It's another way of preserving the complexity of life
  • Ben … I am also very pessimistic about the current trajectory of civilization and somewhat interested in working on … I’ve had independently the idea of working on something that could be preserved through a dark age … It would be cool if SolSeed could contribute to that
  • Ben … I am a bit wary of the idea of knowledge and information as central to the universe because it may be partly a product of living in the information age just as past philosophers thought of the world as a giant steam powered machine. I’m not saying it’s that silly, but it might be wise to consider where the ideas come from and how they are supported.
    • Shawn … I could get into that but I didn’t want to. I have a lot of writing that I haven’t shared with many yet about where the ideas come from. The Big Picture … Poetic Naturalism and the stories that we use to talk about things. The idea that it is a useful story (NOW) to direct human action. Knowledge keeps us from dying and this age is a product of knowledge. I’d love to send you some more of the things that I’ve written on why I think knowledge is the foundation.
    • Eric … the steam story is still a useful story. Looking at the Earth as a heat engine is one gear that you can get into (using Brandon's mind-as-car-engine metaphor). And looking at the Earth as an information processing system also gives you some intuition about what limits solutions to some of the problems we are facing. If it leads to people seeing preservation of knowledge as really important … as long as they don’t destroy the heat engine in the process.
    • Shawn ... We're running down the heat engine by e.g. using up lithium and rare earths in kids' toys that get thrown in the trash, and replacing phones every year. If we collapse after converting the fossil fuels to plastic, a future civilization likely won't be able to convert them back.
  • Brandon … A superintelligent AI might preserve knowledge by converting everything to computronium.
  • Brandon … Whatever we do needs to work at every scale of our organization, and needs to have built into it the shape of the larger-scale incarnations of itself. It has to work for us at the current small scale, and it has to attract the like-minded, which we haven't figured out yet. I'm hopeful that some of Shawn's thinking will help us attract more like-minded people. All of us want to win the hearts and minds of humanity to something more than blind consumption.
    • Shawn … I agree. I want to find a synthesis of our ideas that can resonate with the people who would actually put their energy and attention toward something (not everyone). Is that our current core goal? Missionary work, essentially?
    • Brandon … It's either the current stage or the next stage. We could grow and in the process stop being important, because we just turn ourselves into "what people will buy." We have to preserve our core insights and create a durable change in people's lives. The video "How to Start a Movement" illustrates this. I believe we will eventually "get everyone dancing with us," but it will take testing a number of ideas and practices and organizations.
    • Eric … We've been experimenting with separate individual projects.
    • Brandon … I want to create a critical mass that's physically located in the same place. I'm excited that Shawn and Rico and myself are all in the same city and can work together in person. There are also groups in Portland that are well aligned with us, like PSAS and Trackers Northwest, and that are working in their own right … we wouldn't want to try to hijack them, but we can talk to individuals there about our ideas.
    • Shawn ... We don't have to hijack, just to recruit in the zone. Find people who go there and also want to be involved in something more. Don't piss off the group leaders.
    • Brandon … Critical mass: As we get a few people instead of just one talking about something, it will become a lot easier to grow.
      • Shawn … The dancing video was about people wanting to be like the guy who was dancing with reckless abandon and not caring what anyone thought.


  • Eric … I’m excited by the new input into our movement that you’re giving us. It reminds me of when I joined and how my new input created a bit of discomfort and a lot of excitement at the same time. I think it will be cool to have a new person to say “Like Shawn’s idea”
  • Ben … I’ll be honest, I like getting new energy but am always nervous when things run over their allotted time. I look forward to many more conversations Shawn.
  • Brandon … Fun Yay!
  • Shawn ... I’m very grateful that you guys have allowed me to join in here. You’ve been really open. I know I’m coming in with a bunch of ideas and that can be disruptive. I’m glad you gave me this time and honest reactions to my ideas.

Closing Blessing

<arms waving, roof raising> We have new blood flowing through our veins. We have new blood flowing through our brains, and with it new ideas. It feels rejuvenating. May we take this feeling of new energy into the New Year. -- Blessed Be

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