Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Speaking of Music...

Hey, I was just exchanging emails with Jürgen in Germany who was asking about Bucky and the cuboctahedron (dymaxion, mecon, VE whatever), and he brought up John Denver.

That got me searching in iTunes.

I purchased Denver's World Game just now, a little calypso tune I mentioned way back when at the GENI event.

I also grabbed the Buckminster Fuller track from 26 Scientists Volume One by Artichoke (each was $0.99).

Then I emailed back to Jürgen that I'd just done that, and blogged about it.

Kinda fun. Sometimes I forget we have all these cute, light-hearted technologies to play around with. More with less and all that.

Dr. Consoletti is staying in my basement again.

And speaking of dialog groups, we had a wild one at the Pauling House last night, which I won't even begin to describe.

Oh, I'm back to posting my $.02 at math-learn.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Charter Schools

So if establishment public schools still refuse to teach about Couplers (after 30 years and counting), maybe we could establish some new ones?

I take heart from the hip-hop movement, which went global-commercial while remaining partially submerged and subversive, still in position to challenge any lazy, entrenched top-sider crew, hogging the limelight with irrelevant spew.

Plus I see a lot of savvy around graphic arts -- strong propaganda skills. Let this be a music millenium.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Half Coupler

The dissection of the cube into 6 half-couplers is easy to show with Cube-It! from the Huntar Company. I purchased my copy years ago at Math 'n Stuff in Seattle. The half-couplers further disintegrate into 4 MITEs (MInimum TEtrahedra) in Fuller's concentric hierarchy.

Most middle schoolers received no instruction in these concepts for over 30 years after their publication, despite their obvious relevance and simplicity.

For further reading: [1][2][3][4]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Chicken Little (movie review)

This one makes me think, maybe because I'm in it (Kirby that is, three eyes) -- but then so is Mickey (on a watch), so at least I'm in good company.

We had lots of little kids in my audience (Lloyd Cinemas annex), and some were clearly troubled by an over the top War of the Worlds scene. Like the kiddie roller coaster at Oak's Park, before you ride the big one with Tom Cruise. Why do we scare kids silly with that ET stuff again?

My take on ETs: shooting for here in a spaceship would be a huge gamble, given relativity, since even if the subjective lag is reasonable (time for a couple of inflight movies, some drinks), by the time you get here the Earth has aged like a million years, and has probably had time to discover new defenses you didn't see on I Love Lucy.

You can't bank on overcoming an alien auto immune system. The odds are strongly against any would-be attacker. Be thankful for the vast wastelands of insular space.

For life forms to be successful over the long haul, they have to have really gotten to know a place. We've evolved as many eyes as we need, thank you very much.

Anyway, as you can see, it got me thinking. The characters were funny. The small town had a very peculiar homeland security system. As we all know, chickens make mistakes rather often. Putting the whole place on a trip wire, while giving chickens easy access to the panic button (or bell), would seem a poor design. I wouldn't blame the little kids for that.

Hey I'm really liking the new Google portal. I use Yahoo's too of course.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Science Project

So Tara's school science project this weekend, an experiment of her own design (with input from family members), is to pop 50 kernels of Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn one-by-one in the microwave, record the 50 popping times, and bar graph the results. For example, X kernels will pop between 2' 30" and 2' 35".

What we've found so far is that the individual kernels in this batch aren't inclined to pop. After several four minute trials, with single kernels center stage, the Magic Chef decided it'd had enough, and gave up the ghost -- temporarily or permanently we're not sure. Obviously I'm not anxious to run out and buy a replacement appliance, only to blow it again. New strategy needed.

Current experiment: bring oil to high temperature in a saucepan on the electric stove. Add a single kernel, start stop watch. Wait for results. Results so far: I hear the smoke alarm in the living room. Gotta go.


The Magic Chef came back to life, but we stayed with the shallow stovetop bath of Canola Harvest, with a transparent Pyrex cover. Kernels were added to the simmering oil one by one and their TTPs (times to pop) recorded. A few never popped.


We celebrated the success of our experiment by seeing Chicken Little at the mall (stop signs are not hexagonal by the way). Then Derek came by and we watched some of the 109th Civil War (UofO Ducks vs. OSU Beavers -- USA-style football). Oh, and Don says with emphasis that it's Mt. Hood Community College (never "Mount").

Tara offered to make spaghetti but turned on the wrong burner. Heat accumulated in the aforementioned Pyrex (Kim's) and exploded, covering the stove and floor with glass. Our kitchen linoleum acquired permanent sear marks from the super hot shards. Fortunately no one was standing nearby. The Ducks won. I finished making the spaghetti and put duct tape over the blemish.

We're rough and tumble in this family. Buddhism in a nutshell: Suffering R Us (now you figure out how to turn that R around and invite a lawsuit). Tara is following her plan for the evening, happy I'm not too burned up over the Pyrex misadventure. I wonder how Alexia is doing, and Julie. Sam. Carla.

So here I am, typing in my blog, and feeling pretty zen about the whole day -- maybe because I went to sleep listening to Alan Watts on CDs (a present from Jim Buxton around the time of George Hammond's memorial, McMenamins after). I read lots of Alan's files (published books mostly) in my high school years.

Now, back to USC vs. Fresno.

Friday, November 18, 2005

More from the Urner Soap

We had breakfast out before school, then I was summoned to the hospital for a sudden meeting, which turned into a kind of promotion, which likely means more time on the VPN (encrypted because of HIPAA). I explained about my dreams of a bizmo. Apparently I wouldn't be the first to get work done in this way (I suspected as much). Some bizmos contain roving doctors using a lot of skills I don't have, yet sometimes need or could use.

Then I came back to the 'hood for coffee with Derek. We were about to cross Hawthorne under the marquee of the Bagdad, when we were accosted by a charity organization trying to help children in developing countries, the kind of thing Jack Nicholson got involved with when he played that guy in an RV.

I challenged the charity rep to think more in terms of village wireless, so power nesters, protective of their adopted families overseas, could see for themselves how the donations were invested, thanks to web cams, Google Talk or whatever. A prodigy 'deshi kid might chat with salon guests in Chicago on 2-way big plasma, about the meaning of pi, or the prospects for unicode in South Asia.

The charity guy shot back, asking if I'd ever been outside the country and did I have any idea of the realities his charity had to face every day in the field. I put some credentials on the table, but concealed the fact I'd as yet never been to South or Central America.

"Don't you think they should learn to read and write before we give them computers?" he asked. "Learn it all at the same time" I replied.

I talked about that computer scientist in India, who embedded a computer in some wall, no explanations (see Frontline). Street kids played with it and gradually taught themselves tricks (including a few the scientist hadn't learned). Imagine how far they'd go with a little more instruction. Some kids take to high tech like fish to water. The circumstances you're born into shouldn't matter that much.

I didn't give him any money, although I probably should have (more leverage for me). Instead I offered to share a competing vision through an independent operation, to demonstrate the effectiveness of "high tech first" (right up there with safe drinking water in importance).

"High tech" is not synonymous with "inappropriate tech". Villages need access to weather reports (visual data displays) and ecommerce. Guatemalans good at handicrafts could sell them directly on eBay -- or through a mall-based intermediary (movie allusion).

The vision: help these villages turn themselves into cybervillages if that's what they'd like, with village elders (but not just elders) empowered to steer, accelerate, apply brakes. Nextgen youth, born into the new environments, will then lead off in various directions. The village as a whole could use democracy and/or a sense of the meeting (Quaker talk) to find a good way forward. Absentee landlords needn't have overbearing influence.

"So, what will you call your new organization?" the clip board guy asked. What indeed.

Shall we call it CyberCare?

Whatever it's called, we'll work closely with other NGOs, UNICEF, UNESCO and like that, but we'll specialize in wireless access, distance education, high tech solutions (shelters included). We'll give our donors a lot of customized insight into what their donations are doing. We'll also give them opportunities to visit, to join us on Reality TV.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

As The World Turns

I kept stumbling into soaps on TV just now, while struggling to get S-Video plus audio from my Sony Hi-8/DV cam to my Sony TV (even my new 20" Dell monitor is a Trinitron) -- I'm trying to audit the newly minted Doug Strain DVD (test only), to see if the various glitches we're seeing were because of the tape or the player. I'm pleased to report that the physical recording is on the whole fairly good, and Doug's quality narrative excellent.

Thinking back to those soaps: these people can certainly act, but what're their computer skills like? Willow certainly had the right stuff in Buffy, right up there with Chloe of Smallville fame -- both demonstrated a well-developed ability to investigate, to dig. Judging from the level of savvy I encountered at HPD, I bet even a kindergarten cop would know a thing or two about searching arcane computer data bases.

I had the Earth turning for the 8th graders today, in three different applications: Google Earth, Celestia, and Stellarium. I call this curriculum segment "Hello World".

So we're cycling around to Thanksgiving again. Last year at this time, I was exploring various Native American threads. There're hints of that again this year, as in this recent thread at the Math Forum. Exercise: think more about pronouns, as in "what we whiteman?" or "my Marines!" (per Applewhite's index see: Complex it, Ego, I, Me, Self, They, You & I).

Tonight's another Wanderers' gathering -- I'm typing from the Pauling House right now. I'll likely stop chronicling these gatherings, or do so more sporadically. Our focus is shifting to synchronous/asynchronous video connections, plus maybe more realtime chat and IM channels. Check the website for developments. I relay fond greetings to my bizmos in the desert.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Acting Locally (continued)

I got Mom's shipment out the door (nine boxes), with tracking URLs emailed from the UPS Store (a handy service). Then, after coffee with Derek at Powell's on Hawthorne, I walked the Doug Strain tapes over to Bullseyedisc. I look foward to delivering him his copy.

Then Sunanda and I joined Don on Meliptus where some interesting phone calls came in (hey Russ, I'm glad you'll be making the upcoming SNEC confab in NYC, sounds like great fun).

This evening I took the Max over to the Dixon Building to see if the Koreducators charter school proposal would be approved. It was voted down 3 to 3, after a couple firebrands took the floor and raised a lot of straw man issues (including ad hominem remarks lambasting a plan to locate the new public school inside Marshall itself -- not really the plan at all (hence a straw man argument)).

Board member David Wynde did nothing to shush the cheering and applause in the wake of these unseemly polemics, but when I booed loudly, suddenly we weren't to indulge in "public spectacle" and he threatened ejection (so would the applauders be ejected too? -- I think not (get the tape, see what you think)).

All in all, it was disappointing to watch so much hard work derailed by fearfully protective impulses emanating from within our older model schools.

Whereas the board has a mandate to give grassroots organizers exactly this kind of opportunity to experiment with new approaches, career educators think it's somehow their special right to monopolize reform from within. Obviously our charter school initiative is being subverted and undermined by the selfishly entrenched.

So maybe it's time to explore other options?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Jarhead (movie review)

There's a long and twisted history behind Marines being the way they are, and this film chronicles some additional twists that will feed into the lore going forward.

Instead of studying existentialism in college under the tutelage of hot professors (yes, Camus is a fine place to start), Swofford elects to take it straight from the horse's mouth. He works all the way up to nausea (ala Sartre) and really deserves some kind of degree in the end (he's a good writer). These guys should be making films, not just watching them.

The sense of wasted talent, watching one's youth go by in a desert (a teenage wasteland on steroids), understandably makes 'em psycho. The dead end job once they get home doesn't really make up for the sense of loss (dread, despair etc.).

The price of oil is really very high. We don't just pay at the pump.

Related post: A Catholic Economy (Nov 10, 2004)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Google Gets Video

So I've been uploading since like 4 AM, even while sleeping, this 712MB vidclip of me presenting to Wanderers @ Linus Pauling House some years back, on the subject of Geodesic Domes.

At this point in history, open source video is still somewhat new. However, my general systems theory papers suggest this model: humans in scenario Universe = PWSs = personal workspaces = edit/recombine studios.

Of course "recombine" evokes "recombinant DNA" and all the nightmare possibilities early 21st century humans needed to grapple with (right up there with extraterrestrials and dolphin intel).

But it also has more benign meanings, e.g. individual humans becoming very adept at mixing multimedia, expressing themselves and their worlds, making use of studio quality equipment 24/7 (with breaks), and in the freedom of their own homes.

This is in addition to performing in popular day jobs: baggage handler at megajet and microjet airports (including UPS, DHL and FedEx), outdoor security and park ranger (including at zoos), web wrangler (e.g. like for Wanderers), computer technology trainer, health care pro, architect & construction engineer, heavy equipment operator (some airline pilots), and those doing Hilton-Sheraton-Marriott type services (includes a multi-ethnicity cast of career diplomats and spies).

All these lines of work harness many energy slaves, in the sense of robotic time on the CPUs and SQL engines -- a true mass labor force even in 2005 -- with software and circuits etched in silicon (the possibility of machine intel another one of those "must grapple withs" -- and well played by the then Governor of California).

Followup: I'll link to said vidclip lecture here when the uploading process is complete.

Followup: Google kicked us all off Google Video in 2011, so I moved the clip to Youtube (which is also Google's).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Math Forum

I posted more futuristic mathematics today, invoking a lot of VBNs in the math teacher community (Gibbs, Heaviside, Hamilton). The general topic is Math/CS, this hybridized numeracy curriculum my colleagues and I think makes a lot of sense in this age of Google Earth and XML. We want formal operations applied in business and commerce, like before, but with more attention to the global Internet, how it works, who administers it.

Washed Razz (the Subaru) in a local U-Wash (insert coins, operate a cycle waving giant wands, Harry Potter style, with stuff spurting out all over your car, sometimes under high pressure -- worth a couple bucks, plus you get this shiny waxy vehicle to drive off in (a happier camper for sure)). Swapped a couple items at Trader Joe's. Having better luck with DVD-Rs for some reason, the DVD+Rs keep wiping out. Burned a complete set of Don's Guatemala pix to a JVC yesterday afternoon. Loved the final Extras with Patrick Stewart on HBO!

More open source curriculum writing from 4D Solutions: [1][2]

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Acting Locally

Some days ago I used the wget tool at my Cygwin command line, a *nix in a *doze, on Joe Moore's site. He's spent half a lifetime compiling bibliography & connecting ideas around Bucky (Bucky being a veritable switchboard of the 20th century), all in rough and ready wild west HTML (no rules, or almost none -- however consistently tabular, a big help).

So this morning I subclassed HTMLParser in Python and wrote a quick hack, aiming at filtering HTML noise and republishing in a strict XML. From there, it'd be easier to head for mature formatting, via XSLT. We wouldn't lose touch with Joe's primary audience, either: souls on the web (so-called "eyeballs" in market research parlance). My Python code globbed through "books By"*.htm and spit back some reasonable XML for a minority of pages (those in a strict 3-column id, chapter title, page number format). I pasted one success story to GEODESIC c/o SUNY at Buffalo. Here, lemme link to my code.

That was this morning.

This afternoon, I left Dawn with some veteran/alumni of some enlightenment training (Portland has a lot of good schools), while I picked up Tara, who needs something faxed to her teacher (due homework, completed per spec, but left in the printer this morning), and then drove out to Marine Drive to welcome Don back from Guatemala. He spoke with great awe and respect of the Guatemalen experience/people (pueblo). I'll be rejoining him later for the kickoff of the 2005-2006 ISEPP lecture series, our latest in a series of presentations delivered by some Very Big Names (VBNs) -- sometimes with repeat visits (e.g. Roger Penrose is returning in March).

Portland has felt very privileged to be on the receiving end of Terry's circus. I've enjoyed so many of these lectures so very very much. You VBN people are simply amazing and wonderful creatures. Love!

But some of that hasn't finished happening yet. Gotta get back to work.

PS: Lotsa VBN-hoods out there, and you're welcome to be a Big Name in several of them. The Universe is not stingy about letting us be celebrities in cool circles we respect, if that's our goal (which doesn't mean individual humans can't be miserly). Join the club, beat your drum (metaphor), and sometimes hold it down (Quaker voice: ssshhh, keep it quiet), and you'll dimly hear many more drum beats, from far far away (something drums are good for).

Followup (Nov 4): my write-up of last night's lecture (link).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Wanderers Meeting 2005.11.1

The Gaia Hypothesis holds that complex chemistries known as "the living" may play a homeostatic role on a planetary scale, maintaining atmospheric conditions far from an "equilibrium of the dead." Our oxygen-rich Earthian cocktail could never have arisen, nor would be sustained, minus cell-based metabolism.

We humans play a role in the local cybernetics and have evolved new powers to anticipate and counter death threats the dinos never had (e.g. Apophis).

Gus Frederick of Silverton, Oregon shared his hopeful hypothesis that our self-destructive tendencies were symptomatic of species adolescence, a passing phase we'd survive and outgrow. Our long term destiny, thinks Gus, is to spread life extraterrestrially, starting with our moon and Mars.

Only time will tell.

Followup: link to Gus's slides