Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Friendly Convergence


A van of us guys from the Men's Group, organized by Joe Snyder and borrowing the Reedwood van (thank you Friends!), got to Mapleton, Oregon and back in one day.  That's the freeway age for ya.  With time to spare I might add.

Wes had all kinds of ties to Oregon Friends that I'm only just learning about.  Our Stark Street meeting traces back to College Park Association in California, and Iowan Friends striking out on their own upon being disowned by their brethren.  So be it.  The brand "Religious Society of Friends" would not be surrendered.

On the other hand, Gurneyites moved west also, and their trajectory takes other forms, namely Northwest Yearly Meeting, distinct from the more Hicksite flavored North Pacific Yearly Meeting, of which Multnomah Meeting on Stark Street is a member.

Wes Voth traces his schooling back to Newberg, Oregon.  These are more the Hooverite Friends associated with George Fox University (GFU).  There's overlap with Liberal Friends on many fronts, but if you're a scholar of the Quaker lineage, you know we're prone to forking, and don't always think that's a bad thing.

Politics aside, Wes Voth was a naturalist and his thinking was deeply informed by the natural patterns of his watershed.  It may be a cliche to think of watersheds as the lungs of the planet.  They are integral to the way fish live their lives, and thereby serve at the basis of many a food chain.

Pacific ocean salmon start and end their lives in these rivers and rivulets, adding their carcasses to the inland soil, fertilizing rainforests.  Ecosystems don't run on fumes, much as fumes matter.

Wes knew all these basics like the back of his hand, and then could go on about the smaller details, in ways a city rat like me can only marvel at, and I did.  At our last meetup at Great Bear Camp for example.  He sat at his feet, slurping up the lore of the land.

The memorial service was held at the Lions Club which shares digs with the Mapleton Public Library, what used to be a public school.  The meeting hall, which doubles as a theater and gymnasium, was packed with just about everyone in Mapleton, not a big town.  Out of towners rounded out the crowd.

We all respected Wes a lot for his honesty and respectful ways.  He served as a postal carrier in this later chapter, and had maybe just recently retired?  We felt his departure was all too soon.

This was Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as some call it.  Among the songs we sang, was one of Wes's favorites (mine too, for its check on nationalism): This is My Song with lyrics by by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness, to the score of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.  It's in our Quaker hymnal.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Life, Liberty and...


My study groups have been cycling back to Student Debt, which becomes a noose, and the Overdose Epidemic, which becomes a way out, or at least a temporary escape.  Any dose is an overdose where most of these drugs are concerned.

The law abiding become despairing when they recognize that organized crime rules the roost.  This article in Rolling Stone keeps pointing to people in high places, high office, as the ones at the top of some Ponzi scheme.  The state becomes a prison state.

Recently we learned more from the DEA about its losing battle against Big Pharma.  Organized crime has eaten through the medical establishment.  Drug pushing is the backbone of a new economy, breaking the backs of many old ones.  No, we're not talking about glossy mags in marijuana country.  We're talking about fentanyl and worse.

Clearly the student loan crisis and the overdose epidemic go together.  In closing off all promising avenues to a brighter future, one reaps the harvest of hopelessness.

The positive futurism I latched onto in my young adulthood was not a popular brand within academia and those paying high interest for borrowing against their futures were for the most part not schooled in any of it.  Nevermind about the Medal of Freedom.
R. Buckminster Fuller: 
A true Renaissance Man, and one of the greatest minds of our times, Richard Buckminster Fuller's contributions as a geometrician, educator, and architect-designer are benchmarks of accomplishment in their fields. Among his most notable inventions and discoveries are synergetic geometry, geodesic structures and tensegrity structures. Mr. Fuller reminds us all that America is a land of pioneers, haven for innovative thinking and the free expression of ideas.
At issue was the USA itself and whether it had strayed too far from its founding documents to be considered a constitutional democracy anymore.  Had it been hijacked by oligarchs and plutocrats who could now use it to press their own agenda?  Princeton was inclined to see it this way.

Roll forward, and we see the wasteland this land has become.  The morgues fill with its victims.  The criminals get appointed to higher office.  Is there any longer a debate?

Welcome to the Global U, an energy consumer and an intelligent responder, to some degree.  We're plugged into the sun, as so many 120 watt bulbs, thinking of ways to survive, one day to the next.

Our institutions are supposed to leverage our numbers, our individual talents, into orchestrated and constructive responses to our circumstances.  Which ones do this?

The criminalization of nuclear weapons per the UN Ban Treaty, developed by the General Assembly, has at least helped us see how the "rule of law" was a fragile sphere.

Criminal syndicates control human affairs.  The electronic communication networks were our organized response, an attempt to gain traction.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Playing with Blocks


Back in the early to mid 1990s, I would make trips to California in connection with my work with Synergetics. I went to the GENI organized Centennial in 1995, when Tara was just learning to walk.  Before that, I'd been to a Pergamon Press sponsored conference on Buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara. Another time, we had a confab in which "modules" were thematic.  David Koski was curious about what Yasushi Kajikawa and Einar Thorstein were up to, in their respective modularization games.

Much more recently, within the last year, Koski's block-themed play has turned towards a dissection of the E-module, the one published about in Synergetics.  I've called it the Beanstalk Series as that story, of Jack and the magic beanstalk (grown from magic beans) provides etymological roots for the Fe ("fee"), Fi ("fie"), Fo ("Foe") and Fum modules.  Of course there's a tie-in with Grunch of Giants (one of Fuller's last books).

The wrinkle Koski introduces, with all of these shapes, is that of "phi scaling", meaning notching up all straight-line inter-distances by phi, not quite doubling at 1.618.  When linear distances amplify by that factor, volume goes up as a 3rd power of same, giving us a vocabulary of ...E6, E3, E, e3, e6... modules, where the lowercase 'e' signals "phi down" and uppercase "phi up".

Spatial geometry is not getting its just deserts as a curriculum topic these days, especially in kindergarten, because that would mean telling the truth about more things, and truth is not always convenient.  Using a calibrated bucket of liquid to show displacement is also potentially messy when done for real.  The schools that make instructional video making their specialty will have a head start.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Officers' Club

I spent this beautiful Fall Saturday in a cushy chair, missing the great outdoors.

An indoor lifestyle left one a lighter skin shade, no matter the baseline, and that could mean different things, one being perhaps one was more of a managerial bent, suited to keeping track of stuff, more into the big picture.

Such folks need offices, become officers, then become pale, and pant more for breath pretty soon.  Chances are, they're not getting enough exercise, plus who knows what they inhale for entertainment.

In the "grass is always greener" tradition, husky, hard working blue collar types, perhaps more reddened around the neckline, would imagine the coddled life of someone floating in a think tank, hardly needing to move a finger, let alone grunt under the strain in this merciless heat or cold.

The paler skinned knowledge worker types are kept alive for what passes between their ears, and communicate by moving fingers ("hardly" meaning wiggling them over a keyboard).

So yeah, that was my blood thickening day, attacking the intricacies of regular expressions as used by Django to parse those incoming URLs.  Do you ever say "earl" for URL, or always "You Are El"?

I also played with Pillow, which sounds so comfy and nice.  Read in a picture file and study the Image module API.  Make the colorful koala bear turn gray, as in grayscaled.

The idea is to work up enough of a head of steam to drive a tour bus through this same terrain, keeping up my end of the bargain as someone who knows a thing or two about the ins and outs.  I'm the trusted local, the native.

Django, if you've gotten this far, is a flagship website development framework Made in Kansas.  I've got this little teaching website buried on Cloud9 that basically implements a lookup service against some read-only databases.  The design roughly parallels what I've done in Flask at my Pythonanywhere site.

With these basics now in place, I need to pour some glue into it, some adhesive language designed to keep it all stuck together.

My students will come away thinking more like officers than ever.

However I'll challenge them to get out there and do some heavy lifting in a more physical sense, even if that just means hauling their own bodies up some nearby mountain or whatever.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bucky for Dummies


The above title may already exist out there, but I don't recall reading it.  What I refer to in this context is my willingness to "stay dumb" regarding generalizations I don't know about.

For example, claims about "zero point energy" swirl in close connection with some friends of Fuller, however I'm not banking on these proving true.  I'm not banking on UFOs being other than unidentified.

Fuller took our technology of the 1970s as already marking a turning point.  Doing more with less, we'd be able to keep 8-10 billion 200 watt bulbs blazing i.e. provide metabolic circuitry sufficient to avoid unnecessary death by starvation.  Absent that, we remain on Ghetto Planet.  But it could be our Promised Land.

He could have been wrong, however he was pretty adamant that his claim was not premised on hitherto unknown science.  Yes, humanity would continue to make discoveries and develop its shared metaphysical capital (know-how), but the whole point was we had reached a point of technological sufficiency.  What held us back were conditioned reflexes, habits of thought and action.   Religion had a lot to do with that.

Synergetics has "mind" and "brain" doing different jobs.  Both are tools, words with uses.  Why waste two important words by having them be synonyms?  Have a brain that continually upgrades in light of new revelations, intuitions.  Have mind be the source of those.  This way we allow for a collective unconscious, a higher consciousness, a zeitgeist, a Holy Spirit.  Humans conventionally make this distinction even so, with or without Synergetics.

The brain is the province of reflexes and unless receptive and open to intuitions, it tends to freeze into habits of thought.  Intuition is by divine grace if you want to sound religious about it, but you're not required to.  Comprehension of principles is at the meta level with regard to special cases.  Connecting the dots helps us appreciate the general patterns and improves our powers of anticipation, as any future-oriented strategist seeks to do.

The "zero point energy" people want to point to UFOs as having tapped energy sources we'll need.  As evidence of UFOs they point to crop circles or other unexplained phenomena.  You'll find that school of thought explaining the events of 9-11 in terms of hitherto unexplained science.

I'm suggesting no one embracing the claim of "enough for everyone" through "more with less" is compelled to couple this claim with any overhaul of existing physics.  Some do, but I don't.  I admit to a Twilight Zone of tantalizingly relevant data, adjacent to my sphere of relevance.  I'm always looking for how to fit in new puzzle pieces.  However per Bucky for Dummies, I don't see a need to jump the gun.  I'll stay a skeptic regarding many outlandish proposals.  Or call it risk management.  I'm allowed to guess wrong.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Christmas Shopping

I haven't seen Geiger counters at Costco yet, but getting information about your environment to your cell phone, via Bluetooth or as a service (through the carrier itself e.g. Verizon), is likely to be trending according to sources.  Live near Fukushima?  Then you know what I'm talking about.

Sensors can be discrete, no need for any loud tick tick tick as you wave your magic wand, or whatever you use to pick up Cesium-137.  We had a Geiger counter in high school.  We even visited the local research reactor at University of the Philippines.  I imagine Reed's is similar.

However, when it comes to USB and/or Bluetooth peripherals, I think other diagnostic tools will be a hit as well.  Parents empowered to do their own chem lab testing, at the local Maker place, will share their data freely, as a service to other parents.  If the government wants to stay involved, they're welcome, but no one should have to count on an EPA or a DEQ in today's political atmosphere.

How about blood tests?  The diabetes industry already has its own apps.  The smartphone display adds a dimension, and helps people monitor the various levels.  I imagine the medical community will pump a lot of these apps out there for free, given they're more oath-driven than CEOs for the most part.  Bypassing CEOs in this economy is pretty standard.  Anyone that overpaid is by definition out of touch (not that all CEOs are overpaid).

When I say "Christmas shopping" I don't presume to be speaking about some religion.  Christmas is a secular holiday, in addition to having significance to some (not all) Christians.  The "peace on Earth" theme is non-sectarian and this year will have an abolitionist flavor, thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize going to an abolitionist movement.

Speaking of the Nobel Peace Prize, Linus Pauling got his for helping to break the ice around letting physicians speak freely about the public health effects of radio-toxins.  The Atomic Age, so-called, was getting Madison Avenue treatment as squeaky clean and sacrosanct.  Bursting that bubble helped forestall cavalier atmospheric testing, on real human subjects in the Pacific islands, and on all of us, as our climate was semi-permanently altered.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rainbow Gathering


And now for something completely different, as Monty Python would say, as they did some crazy segue.  Rainbow Gathering.  No, I've never been.  However, my long association with the two generations behind me (younger than) through Food Not Bombs brought me into many of the same circles.  They'd go.  I'd hear about it.

I've always been a browser, since before "web browsers" were a thing.  I dreamed of hypertext before the web was born.  So now, approaching 60, my idea of a good time is plowing through Youtubes about this and that, sometimes making one of my own, but mostly watching, er browsing.

Two themes tonight:
  • the 60 Minutes episode on the opioid epidemic (adding "opioid" to spellchecker), the one with the DEA whistle blower, focusing attention on big pharma as big drug pusher;
  • and Rainbow Gathering.
I don't premeditate, usually, about what I'm gonna browse about though I keep coming back to core topics.  A Dom Rosa post at Math Forum got me watching 60 Minutes.

Oh, and I listened to quite a bit of Bucky Fuller, like the interview below.  You might think I do that a lot given my interests, but I don't, probably because I feel pretty expert on that already (the Bucky stuff) and am more focused on filling holes (in my knowledge).

I'm doing laundry.  Today was First Day (Sunday) and I brought a car load of C6XTY stuff to share with kids.  Me, Ron and Carl were the adults.

Then Glenn and I had lunch at Hop House after which we decided to check out the newly installed wooden bar at Back Stage, McMenemins, literally back stage behind the main screen at The Bagdad.  An old Portland landmark, the Lotus Room, is closed and gone, however McMenamins rescued the bar itself, a sight to behold, and we enjoyed it, chatting with the bartenders while watching drag racing and soccer.

Tying things together more, in retrospect, Bucky Fuller was very respectful of the hippie "rebellion" from which such institutions as Rainbow Gathering derive. He was pretty in touch with the Zeitgeist himself, a fancy German word for the Holy Ghost if we're translating from Catholic.

The focus on artifacts and inventions, in the above video for example, is what his Design Science Revolution was all about, although in his case the initiative was to involve the aerospace industry in providing shelter solutions.

I was slightly post Boomer I think it safe to say, and my line is I didn't really get to know any true hippies until returning to Oregon post college and meeting Bead and Denise at the Gathering of Western Young Friends at Camp Myrtlewood, very Rainbow-like both in spirit and design, with a big focus on cooking (not assembled outdoors though, in a well-equipped camp kitchen).

My middle and high school years had been mostly in Italy and the Philippines.  At Princeton I lived with what I might call 2nd generation hippies (and Kirk) but that's a bit of a stretch given this was Princeton after all.  We hadn't dropped out.  We were definitely against Apartheid.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Terminology and Scope

More Concentric Hierarchy

Scope relates to terminology. In computer programming, we're always looking to prevent "name collisions" which is like when everyone uses the term "vector" but defines it in different ways, ditto "quaternion" or "duckrabbit".  The Java language took your Internet domain and flipped it around, drilling down to some unique path, at the end of which your "vector" might append -- just yours.  Like I might have net.4dsolutions.quadrays.vector -- in Clojure.

Koski and I were yakking on Verizon tonight, mostly about terminology. I think it's fine to divide the RT's E-mod into "Fe Fi Fo Fum", reminiscent of the Jack and the Beanstalk story sure, but also of "Do Re Me Fa".

Let me unpack that a bit.  RT = Rhombic Triacontahedron (raise your hand if you thought Russia Today) and in having 30 rhombic (diamond) faces, each criss-crossed by face diagonals, it begets 120 of what we call E-mods in Synergetics, though the latter term relates to an RT of specific radius: same as that of a unit sphere.

The RT arises from combining two Platonics, dual to one another, the Icosahedron and Pentagonal Dodecahedron. Their edges provide the criss-crossing long and short diagonals respectively, of the 30 diamond faces.

The Icosahedron, when spun, around opposite vertexes, edge middles, face centers, generates a network of 31 great circles likewise consisting of 120 LCD (lowest common denominator) triangles, which may be superimposed on the RT, effectively slicing each E-mod into four sub-modules.  These are what David is naming the Fe, Fi, Fo and Fum (alternatively: Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum).

The Fi-mod, for example, has the volume of the containing E-mod with edges scaled down by precisely 1/Phi (0.618...), meaning its volume, a 3rd power of edge-length, has (1/Phi)(1/Phi)(1/Phi) the E-mod's volume. E weighs in as a tad greater than 1/24th (of the uni-volumed tetrahedron).

What we were discussing tonight is how one of the radii of the Fi is the S-factor, 1.08..., defined originally as the volumetric ratio between the S- and E-mods, or equivalently the ratio twixt the volume 20 cuboctahedron and its partner in Jitterbug, the volume ~18.51 Icosahedron.

Cubocta / Icosa == S / E == S-factor (S).

One of the Fi-mods radii is S.

We need to distinguish S from S3, the latter being the volumes ratio of the cube of edges R (= unit sphere radius) to the tetrahedron of edges D (D = 2R).  The former is a bit bigger by 1.06... or so.  S3 serves as our conversion constant between two systems of mensuration, the XYZ and IVM.

XYZ is the grid of cubes we're all used to from our math classes.  IVM, or "isotropic vector matrix" is the scaffolding (grid) defined by spheres in closest packing, consisting of tetrahedrons and octahedrons of volume ratio 1:4.  How we juxtapose these two is by convention and intelligent design.

Another math fact: the cuboctahedron of volume 20 times S3 gives the volume of the so-called "SuperRT" the RT formed from said ~18.51 volume Icosahedron and its dual.  The SuperRT derives from the aforementioned unit radius RT (of 120 E-mods) by scaling all edges up by phi (not fi) i.e. 1.618..., increasing volume by a factor of Phi to the 3rd power.

Such is the terminological world in which Koski and I swim around.  It'd be completely a private language were it not for it's tightly syncing with what's long been published and out there i.e. Synergetics itself, by the genius R. Buckminster Fuller.

The so-called E-mod is a part of a family, which includes the A-, B-, T-, E- and S-modules.  These are core to the Synergetics "concentric hierarchy", built around a duo-tet cube of volume 3. A-mods alone build the unit volume tetrahedron, whereas As and Bs build the octahedron of volume 4. Both A- and B-mod, like the T-mod, have volume 1/24.  They all have handedness (left and right versions).

For more information, about the S-module especially, my Coffee Shops Network blog.


E mod (right tetrahedron) with submodules: Fum, Fo, Fi, Fe going left to right.
E mod (right tetrahedron) with submodules: Fum, Fo, Fi, Fe going left to right

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Thinking About Scope

Show & Tell


Thinking About Scope

For further reading:
Names Have Scope in CS (Math Forum)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Number Sequences

eratosthenes
:: screen shot ::

Given I'm spending time with 5th and 6th graders as their Python teacher, I've been looking at Oregon's version of Common Core, and, sure enough, that's an age where students learn the difference between prime and composite numbers.

The so-called Natural Numbers, or Whole including zero, form a comforting world of integer types and operations, especially number sequences, like at OEIS (On-line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences).

What I'd recommend to teachers are the two books Gnomon, by Midhat Gazale, and The Book of Numbers, by Conway and Guy as a way of motivating course prep around number sequences.

In addition to prime and composite, we have such as the triangular numbers, square numbers and then, off the plane (moving into space), tetrahedral and half-octahedral numbers.

Here's our transition to sphere packing and space-filling, analogous to tiling on a plane (tessellation -- already a favorite elementary school topic).  1, 12, 42, 92...

Back to primes, I'm also seeing 6th grade as a time when we pick up more keyboard skills.  Coding with Kids has them moving from block-based programming (sliding puzzle pieces around) to more lexical languages, such as Python.

To that end, I wrote yet another Sieve of Eratosthenes.  Such programs are an old standby in computer science, meaning I'm being very correct and conservative in my approach.

My agenda is to promote C-STEM or C-STEAM in a way that doesn't lose sight of Synergetics.

Good meetup with a NW Process Institute guy today over lunch.  I was hoping to catch Arnold Mindell in action on Friday but ended up working a new teaching assignment instead.