Friday, June 30, 2006

Estate Planning

Tara is trying to grow her estate, a prize feature of which are the two robot dogs. She has some money saved from babysitting jobs and is eyeing the AiBos on eBay. They start the auction with some token amount, but the market will easily bear over $600 for one of these puppies. They've become collectors' items of a sort, but are also about to be superseded by more advanced models of robopet, some of them likewise by Sony.

I launched into my spiel about long term investing in a field such as robotics. Acquiring a lot of personal property may not be the best strategy, as schools may provide access to well equipped computer labs in exchange for relevant teaching skills (including within middle school aged peer groups).

Instead of staring at out-of-reach toys on eBay, learn some Python. Show girls your age that girls your age do that sort of thing. Use the summer to geek out a bit. Then parley those skills into experiences with robot dogs of the future, maybe through Saturday Academy, some of which robopets will likely have Python bindings.

Like I said, a longer term investment plan than just saving coins and cashing in on a personal copy, to be resold on eBay, over and over.

And I practice what I preach, in that I'm not trying to personally own the bizmos either, even though I'm in the market for some "try before we buy" rental experiences (camper vans == primitive simulators). The school has a fleet. Teachers share them. The robot dogs inside some of them: mostly they're owned by the school as well, but may follow particular students around, more than the motorvehicles.

A bug in FireFox? I'll be typing along, writing a post, then hit an apostrophe, but get a Find box appearing in response. I doubt it's the keyboard's fault. I always Google when I enounter these little hell holes (in the bigger ones, there's likely no way to reach Google, like in Lost). Ah, OK, I see it's an unfixed bug in Mozilla dating back several years. Oh and look, the problem has just gone away (but only for the moment I'll bet).

From my post to Math Forum this morning: "I like this recent Supreme Court joke: 'just one congressional district in Texas must be redrawn' (assuming it's a tiling and neighboring states are off limits)".

Friday, June 23, 2006

Machine World

The scene at the boat house involved two machine-savvy guys lowering some 1000 pound metal engine (an old one, but now rebuilt) down into the hull of a boat. The one man forgot the chain was too short, plus had removed the safety. With about 2 or 3 inches to go, maybe more, the chain slipped from the overhead ratcheted pully device (near the apex of an A frame), and the engine crashed to the floor. But it did not go through the hull.

So many scenarios containing worse consequences branched away from this moment. We immediately counted our blessings, thanked a Loving God (alluding to the title of a book written by a peer mate), and found a longer chain. My role was observer, though my weight on the back of the boat also helped with the placement of the engine, which was eventually rescrewed to the floor.

Having grown up outside the USA for many years (late 60s to mid 70s), opportunities to absorb car culture were limited. I never did constructivist discovery learning around an old beater, although I watched neighborhood older kids get involved in that -- before hopping a jet to Italy in third grade, and immersion within the EUR (or "Mussolini Village" as we Americans sometimes called it), and later Viale Parioli #25 near Piazza Ungheria.

Piazza Ungheria, Rome
(a Google Earth view)

[One of my best friends in those Parioli days: Kijoon, younger son of the South Korean ambassador to Italy -- our respective homes were within walking distance (years later, I visited him in Seoul, but have since lost track of him)].

I've deconstructed this or that device in my day, plus assembled radios on a breadboard by poking wires into spring terminals, following a wiring diagram, but I never learned internal combustion in any intimate way. I am not fluent in the namespace of flanges and manifolds, although I do know what a crimped pipe looks like, having crimped some myself (not intentionally, under my kitchen sink).

So I got started on driving around age 28. True, dad had me out in the Chevy Nova in Manila a few times. But neither Princeton nor Jersey City had me lusting for a loud smoking thing needing expensive parking privileges, plus insurance, plus other liabilities. A horse would have been as convenient (i.e. not very). I stayed with the bus and Amtrak (Conrail, NJ Transit...), and later the PATH train to and from Journal Square.

Journal Square, Jersey City
(a Google Earth view)

Some years later (late 1980s), now back in Portland, David Lansky and Carol Slaughter (later Sleigers) gave me opportunities to mangle a transmission and get my first speeding ticket (respectively).

This induction into the world of freeways, with me behind the wheel, was back when I was at CUE, then serving the State of Oregon as a WordPerfect trainer and macro writer, helping Disability Determination Services implement (not architect) its maze of denial and acceptance forms, in the form of macro- generated form letters (a primitive, slow moving protocol and API, conducted through pre Internet snailmail and involving such things as doctor visits and more letters).

CUE had the contract, which also involved developing Spanish language versions of these letters. My need to get to and from Salem in a hurry, in support of this contract, is what got me access to Carol-of-CUE's car -- and the speeding ticket.

Then Matt helped me buy my first motorvehicle, with some money inherited from gandma Margie: a Honda Civic hatchback and my first long term relationship with a member of that machine world species. It was perhaps unkind to nickname her Gutless. She got me to Montana and back that time with Tom-of-TRP. I basically drove her into the ground.

After the above boat engine episode, I drove home by way of a Trader Joe's in Hollywood (a name collision with an LA-based namespace), in part to buy potluck goodies for the Wanderers party. Glenn is all moved back in, Doug Strain having opened a scholarship through ISEPP, which makes him a senior fellow, plus a paid troubleshooter (there's already lots of drama around a broken sewer line betwixt ISEPP properties and the City of Portland).

He talked about the grants application process he'd become involved with during the party, plus showcased some of the fine handmade jewelry he makes. I think Glenn should meet up with Joe Clinton, and am working on making that happen.

At this party we had two male-female couples, two males with off-stage spouses (I am in that category), one currently uncoupled female and one such male. Around Hollywood, you can legally marry and unmarry as many times as you want, although too many times gets to be impractical.

Dawn and I met through CUE. She was living on a horse farm at the time, partnered with Élise, now married to Les and still into horses. We formed Dawn Wicca and Associates (DWA, a partnership) well before getting married, which we did twice (with no unmarried in between).

Dawn had been married before (I had not), and still coparented with her ex around Alexia, with me coparenting as well. Alexia is now grown up and married to her boyfriend of many years. She too had been previously married, to a soldier in the US Army, stationed at Fort Campbell in Tennessee and Kentucky. They'd met in Portland, through Rocky Horror Picture Show and other venues. Alexia quit Willamette University, continuing her college in Clarksville, where they lived off base.

My erstwhile son in law was later reassigned to South Korea where the USA maintained an antediluvean set of bases, presumably as a counter to North Korea, although this political division was more on the minds of Korean War era vets than on the minds of new generation Koreans.

[ On our Fuller Projection, we just saw a lot of biosphere (definitely finite, though of course a steady importer of fresh solar gradient energy), along with the usual monkey-brained shenanigans (e.g. lots of choreographed mud wrestling, with the guys urging the gals to get into it ("girls gone wild" they called it)). ]

My uncles and cousins up north talk machine language really well (internal combustion, but also gravel and rock, even gold mine -- except maybe my Uncle Bill, who talks pre-WWI submarine (not that he's old enough to have served in one, just that's been a focus of his scholarship)).

[Update: Bill talks internal combustion pretty well, but Uncle Bo takes the cake for rebuilding that Dude Car in Denver (non-Ford guts, but with the body of a Ford Model A rescued from a lake bed). Uncle Howard, meantime, has just built his own boring machine from cannibalized parts, for the job of rebuilding some giant front-loader elbow joints, a process that requires round holes to turn square.]

The open source video clips database I'm planning, although currently built around the premise of Geek TV (meaning about a lot of ethereal topics, like tcp/ip) would work well for propagating more traditional machine world memes ala Popular Mechanics and O'Reilly's Make: magazine.

Which isn't to say you can get around doing hands-on.

All of these subcultures require actual practice, not just passive viewing. But getting to watch some favorite role models actually doing the jobs you aspire to do someday, is a promising beginning.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Social Engineering: Older vs. Newer

Before having my posts blocked @ wittgenstein-dialognet (I've kept my membership) , I was starting to get into how hackers see legal code, in contrast to the stuff lawyers write, which does not self execute on computing machinery.

Legal code is what businesses use to make those check boxes show up in your web browser. Or if you're a visitor to some geek ecovillage, it might be a question about whether you're vegetarian, vegan or whatever.

Illegal code is what crashes the computer, or makes it throw exceptions in some uncontrolled way, assuming this is the fault of the programmers. We guard against it. We train our compilers to barf on it.

So when legislators get together in some big room, with quaint desks, and probably laptops, are their imaginations wrapping around the rule-based interfacing and back end database tables needed to implement their fancy new public policies? No way. Most of them went to law school and don't know how to write any SQL, Python or anything like that. They don't write any code at all, in the sense that we hackers conceive of this art.

I don't chronicle this to be critical, and maybe in your era (when you're reading this), this is no longer true. I merely want to highlight a name collision: legal.code and geek.code (or shall we say it.code, as in "information technology"?). In the geek world, if it doesn't self-execute, it probably isn't legal.

In legalese (an older kind of science fiction, in which pseudo- humans trumped humans when it came to power and responsibility -- a sort of War of the Worlds thing), we have an "executive branch" that handles execution (police and so on), and exceptions are called "crimes" (no matter how buggy the code -- the state's laws don't get much compile time or runtime checking, or would that be the job of the courts?).

Anyway, however it worked, I don't claim to be an expert, it worked very very slowly. Sometimes significant motion was imperceptible, for years at a time. The record filled with speeches (see video archive), resolutions, senses of the Senate and so on, often with no real "bills" attached (a synonym for "bundle of laws" in early 21st Century DC-speak). And when bills did get "passed into law" they often came with no mechanisms for enforcement, nothing for a computer to chew on.

Obviously, as a geek, I'm more interested in snappy performance, and so expect multi-threaded applications, intelligent prioritization, everything we've come to expect from a secure, well-designed GNU operating system.

USA OS is my idealized legal-code-based USA operating system, the stuff of geek science fiction (a newer kind, that takes a lot of stress off those poor police, who have no idea how to "enforce" half the laws a creaky old U.S.A. Congress sees fit to pass, so often as a way of obliging the few people who put them in office (remember about those pseudo-humans (aka "corporations") having more official legal control? (anyway, it was complicated and I don't think anyone really understood it, not even the ones making out like bandits))).

A sad spectacle in my time: an education system that shared quasi-zero geek culture, just Hollywood versions of same, and therefore lots of public debate completely controlled by obsolete namespaces with a proven track record of not doing a good job.

Legislators couldn't read, let alone write, source code, not even freely accessible source code, because they had never needed this skill to become our chief social engineers, both at the state and federal levels.

How could things have been this crazy? Just read the history. Computers were still new back then. Senators such as Robert C. Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter predated the invention of tcp/ip itself. So their notion of "legal code" was understandably antediluvean by the standards of today's more computer literate cultures.

Case in point: a big scandal in the news was the theft of millions of veterans' records when a laptop computer belonging to a VA employee was stolen during a burglary. This was one such dramatic story among many. Fraud and incompetence were rampant, and opportunities for identity abuse were on the rise across the board. Scam artists were having a field day.

Various legislators, executives, and judges made noises about fixing the problem, but few seemed to have a clue about what design sciences might be involved. As any hacker could tell you, if you wanted to address identity theft coherently, you'd need to think about consolidating personal information on secure identity servers. Let potential clients or gatekeeping authorities check your credentials, but also keep a record of who has checked and for what information.

Have your cyber identity serve you, not you your identity -- especially if it's a stolen one (a crime the legalese speakers seemed unable to address coherently, except by making more speeches and writing more illegal -- as in non-executable -- code).

Monitor your online identity, shape it.

It's your record.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reposting from Synergeo

I'm not intensively following this thread but yes, that How to Solve It book has a big following in the math ed community, which I also frequent, via the Math Forum (not sci.math, after that blow up about Wittgenstein some decade back).

In Synergetics, you get all these interconnecting prefrequency hypertoons that look like they must mean something on the one hand, and then a lot of empirical stuff to wade through on the other. Fuller was always tantalized by twilight zone possibilities and sometimes reached into the mirror pond and grabbed a cosmic fish. Or sometimes the fish just lept out at us: buckyballs, nanotubes...

I've always advertised my willingness to just watch the cartoons, and not worry overmuch about what they're about. I'm into the prefrequency pure geometry of it all, kind of as a test pattern (like on early TV -- dunno who still does those anymore, but using a concentric hierarchy with jitterbug would make a fine "screen saver" and I'm surprised no hippie has broadcast one yet). Then you've got the physics crowd, which wants to map whatsons to the A and B particles or combinations thereof. I've never been much of a CERN head myself -- philosophy major, more into memes than mesons. In Synergetics 2, the T->E particle transform is what "popped the balloon" twixt material and radiant energy (a very fine line).

Just getting clear on the cartoons has taken awhile, and there's a lot more to go. But I'm glad to see us swinging back towards visualizations just as movies like Cars prove once and for all that
computer assisted cartooning has a bright future. Greater Portland is getting into that market, with Nike's Phil Knight leading the charge (actually, he's continuing a lineage -- Will Vinton Studios helped get the ball rolling, plus we've always been a mecca for cartoonists). A claymation concentric hierarchy: I can see it now [holding fingers in a frame shape].

Monday, June 19, 2006

Post Summit Followup

Per my pre-summit background essay (5 page PDF), I've been looking for ways to develop a sense of energy cost accounting that's more primordial than say monetary accounting, which invests rather one-dimensionally in a somewhat theoretical fluid or juice, convertible between currencies.

Real joules come to planet Earth from a solar fusion furnace we call our Sun. Real photosynthetic processes help us amass the biomass needed to fuel a bonanza of air, water and land specimens (some multi-medium). Humans partake. All of this ecosystem economics involves joule-measured energy transactions, and could theoretically not involve money in any way (Robinson Crusoe's scenario).

Energy without money is highly conceivable. Money without energy doesn't make any sense.

We've been combining the fruits of such general systems theory insights in the form of rich data structures, suitable for sharing more globally. Ruby and Perl get to play in the Gnu Math playground, just as surely as Python does, so I'm not saying this new Py Dough trademark defines and captures the market, but it makes sense for my team.

Whereas other shops will focus on astronomy, anatomy, minerology, flora and fauna, my shop is hugely into polyhedra for its class definitions. We like 'em round, we like 'em spikey, we like 'em with triangles and without. And in the Fuller School arena, we have this "classical garden" motif (sort of Kyoto in flavor), wherein a stark and austere object world is relatively oriented and sized in a particular way.

This prefrequency "no world" (or "gnu world" -- however special case depicted) also features this sort of jitterbug dynamism (a kind of dance, or heart beat), centered around an inside-outing (akin to an inflection point). The resulting bow-tie shape suggests an hour glass or tornado-like toroid of involuting evolution, a so-called pattern integrity. So let's all put on our 3D glasses and bliss out for a spell. You can maybe appreciate why hippies thought this Bucky guy was fun to tune in.

Anyway, I was documenting this breakthrough (about how to get more joules in the picture) over on edu-sig this morning, over my morning coffee in a black Princeton mug (newly replaced, after I broke the one purchased at my 25th reunion). We'll take this rich data structure idea, and converge it with the idea of a richly inventive class hierarchy, starting with Mammal for example, and feed it out to our schools around the world. Any school might become a source in this way.

Indeed, classes were originally spawned from structs in our C world, were primordially just data themselves, before developing legs and/or fins and accompanying behaviors ("methods" as we say in our namespace, our computer science shop talk).

Differently trained professionals will want to take charge of how to best distill the information. Typically, a simple flat file will prove unsatisfactory, which is where the more involved data structures come in. Spreadsheets keep up the pretense that the data is flat and two-dimensional, but formulae behind the scenes provide for tunneling and hidden connections. Suddenly, a system springs into view, connected around everywhichway.

Open source business strategem: if the work is already done in Perl, or Ruby, we should have no trouble converting it or storing it for Python use or vice versa. As gnubees, we tend to cross-train in any case, so it's not about the one language (we have lots of namespaces, duh). And certainly finding affordable disk space is not the problem.

YAML might help us avoid redundant rekeying. Given Ruby's aversion to using XML (per Ruby on Rails), I could see this as a workable compromise. Dethe on edu-sig suggested checking into JSON, another alternative to XML.

In the meantime, let's press on with our free core liberal arts modules and not worry too much about centralized integration. Consolidation tends to come later in the game, when more players have jumped on the bandwagon, and come to see cooperation as key.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day Weekend

I'm seeking a certain Olympus Stylus battery recharger in the garage (a typical hangout for dads on Dad's Day), digging through stuff, some moved from Carol's office in a hurry, when Carol returned for the warm season.

Rescued from boxes this Father's Day:
  • Paul Urone's Physics with Health Science Applications. Dr. Bob Fuller, University of Nebraska emeritus, suggested at our meeting recently that he and I try to revamp this genre, if Dr. Urone's brilliant and pioneering text book failed to stay prominent (like, let's keep his lineage alive).

  • Kappa Sudoku Puzzles #2. Time was, I thought these would be important brain teasers in my life, but I eventually decided developing this skill would be a time sink I couldn't afford.

  • Historical Dictionary of Wittgenstein's Philosophy by Duncan Richter. I liked his using a dictionary format to help assemble a philosophy in the mind of some reader. You get a handy reference, and an internally connected hypertext document, all in one fell swoop. Good job Duncan!

  • The Road to Reality by Roger Penrose. This is my signed autographed copy, from the night I ran camera for the guy, at the Schnitzer (sort of like in the old days).

  • My Mapparium bag, from that time I went to Cambridge for a nuclear disarmament conference (I recall Daniel Ellsberg speaking about Manhatten Project II (a big cleanup in the wake of No. 1)), my attendence sponsored by AFSC (I also researched local AFSC youth programs, as this was the start of our Portland AFSC's LAAP/UV, for which I served as clerk for many years).
I'm still looking for the Olympus thingy, and might have to revert to other recording equipment for Tara's roller skating event (we should call Alexia and say hi). I'm also late getting back on to my bicycle this summer. I missed the Canby Century this time (Gayle went, as did Chris and Larry).

I'm OK with Guido and Alan anchoring the teaching track in their keynotes at EuroPython this year at CERN near Geneva. We're lucky to have recruited Alan into our highly geekish EuroPython community. I continue networking around Project Kusasa, feeding it with our Gnu Math breakthroughs, and getting back some really good ideas about how to do more more efficiently.

The Edubuntu box is now semi-permanently on wireless in my basement, courtesy of Derek and Dave (both sponsoring with hardware).

My new 1 GB Cosair memory stick easily goes between it (Jennifer) and any other USB-equipped machine, so it's easy to move curriculum writing around from multiple open sources (such "writing" may include executables, with source, so you can at least read 'em to see what they'd do, even if you choose not to run 'em -- an advantage you don't have with binaries-only (or if you can't read the language (gnu math helps make sure that you can))).

Speaking of which, this very memory stick has been steeply discounted for Father's Day and I have the receipt (showing Dave paid a lot more -- I reimbursed him in cash). Fry's is usually quite good about letting customers retroactively take advantage of sales (given the 15 day return policy, that makes sense). I'll plan to get out there again shortly, to spend some more dough (I still have some birthday money left).

In today's Oregonian (Dawn pointed this out): HP is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its 12c calculator. Rogoway boasts how he, and a majority of users, never really "got" RPN (reverse polish notation). I wouldn't be so proud of that if I were him.

Queued for the DVD player: two documentaries from Movie Madness: one of those anti Wal*Mart muckracking pieces, and another about the birth of Air America radio.

Follow-up (June 28, 2006 4:38 PM):

Following prolonged digging, I located that Fry's receipt for the memory stick and was able to redeem $45, on a father-daughter outing to what used to be known as Incredible Universe.

With a full return I could have gotten another $10 (because of the mail in rebate), but I'd ripped open all the packaging, and felt I needed to eat some of the cost (I too have a reputation to protect).

I used the returned in-store credit towards a Uniden 5.8 Ghz base phone plus moon unit. The sound is somewhat garbled on my end (wrong channel?), but works better than what it replaced, which was entirely broken. At some point, when not facing steep medical bills, I'll think about further upgrading.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

On The Job

For Father's Day weekend, I took Tara to work on Friday afternoon, while Liz tended to my wife, in need of transportation (still lugging 02). We visited my boss, also in the hospital, but a different hospital, more Evil looking (in the sense of Mordor -- Tara was going on about Sauron as we approached the parking garage (recently rennovated)).

I tried to show off my knowledge of inner secrets by doing the combination lock on the hallway door in LL, but flubbed it, requiring a knock. Shawnna let us in (she's slender and attractive, in a ring wraithey kinda way). By the way, I may change the names to protect the innocent, like Dewey Clarridge does when writing about Nepal.

In my office, which doubles as a conference room (with multi-way speaker phone) when I'm not there, we look over my scribbles on the white board (John's MIRV is gone -- a name collision with the Pentagon's). This time it's all about Oracle's relational database framework and SQL engine, which I've also lugged a book about in my OSCON bag, purchased recently at Powell's.

Tara and I then adjourned to the cafeteria for a late lunch, me forgetting how soon we were to having the Friends-provided dinner @ home with mom (that later proved to be excellent). We ate salads and self-serve ice cream. Tara took too much, so I had to finish hers (mint). I went with coffee (both as in the ice cream flavor and as in the real deal). We ate outside, between towering ramparts.

Vicki, my coworker (we have the same boss) had answered the datetime question. op_date > {ts 06-05-05 12:00:00} or like that. So I was able to build a fairly fancy new query with that, and have it run on the Oracle engine instead of on FoxPro locally (the objective of this experiment).

We took Hwy 217 to Allen Blvd then on through Multnomah Village (near my boyhood home, and Matt's) to help minimize traffic congestion. Although I was shooting for Barbur, I flubbed again ("screwed myself" as I told Liz on my cell) and routed onto the Terwilliger Curves (scary signs of trucks tipping over, centrifugal force, a kind of "pseudo-force" in physics they tell me (like an inverse of angular momentum)).

Escaped onto Corbett, down Bancroft onto Kelly (drove passed an old CUE building, where I also did Fuller School stuff for EMO), and up over the Ross Island Bridge. We call this Bridge City sometimes, and last year, the Providence Bridge Pedal took in all ten.

All in all, it was a good Father's Day. Dawn had a lot of energy that evening. We also took in the The Truman Show, about some guy's worst paranoia coming true. A lot like The Matrix in some ways, and Anger Management.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Power Lunch

We converged at Nicholas' on Grand Avenue on Portland's East Side, for a couple mezza plates and some turkish coffee.

We discussed gnu math, bizmos, Google, Saturday Academy, TOPS, and Japanese weddings on Guam. Then we adjourned to Burgerville for seasonal strawberry milkshakes.

I'm glad these executive-level meetings don't have to be in rooms that're "smoke filled" anymore.

I also frequented a few of my cyberspace haunts, putting in my usual two cents on the Math Forum.

Good news about those Hawaiian islands getting increased protection. Fragile undersea environments are not easily replaced, yet are easily destroyed by unthinking land animals.

That's maybe another problem with Operation Vendetta: the possibly negative environmental impact. That subtropical island has suffered enough.

Friday, June 09, 2006

More Philosophy Talk

Some scientists may not want to admit it, but analogy remains a means whereby we continue to anticipate in new fields. When the electromagnetic field was first tuned in, as a physical theory, with Maxwell's Equations and the like, people assumed several analogies (the rippling pond analogy being one of them), but when it came to wires and circuits, the analogy was a piped fluid. And it is a fluid of electron energy isn't it, pushed by repulsion from one cell in a battery, pulled by the other, until the two become equalized (battery dead, perhaps rechargeable from an external source, but with work done in the meantime).

When we see emergence, we recall other times we've seen it. Butterflies from caterpillars -- that's one of the big hand-drawn illustrations that stands out in Synergetics (from a Celtic source).

Synergetics works to set up a lot of stark prefrequency dynamic geometry (hypertoons) that don't really mean anything, except they're smoothly self-consistent and rich in relationships (instructive as pure patterns). But that's not the end of it. They're also suitable raw material for analogies. Doing DNA? Think about using a tetrahelix sometimes. Why? Because if a lot of sciences invest in a common set of dynamic geometry cartoons, we'll have a better superhighway system among disciplines, and that's what Synergetics aims to provide -- except Bucky was more into trains and Grand Centrals than highways per se (I love trains too).

Synergetics explores emergent behaviors in starkly geometric terms, as when those two triangles disclose their spiralness and conspire to breed a four-windowed beast -- an apparent capture of new order, a whole system, a synergetic event. Traditional geometry has had less tolerance for surprise. Euclideanism exults in a sense of having it all mapped out just with the axioms -- the theorems all follow already, even if little humans haven't explored all their ramifications.

It's a comforting image. But that's all it is: an image.

Mathematicians have worked for centuries to make us understand it ain't so simple. Bucky helps in that project. He reminds us our axioms might actually suck, compared to those used by ETs under the Denver airport. We're able to go wrong in our appeal to "self evidence". Infinitely thin planes of infinite extent: a given. Bucky retorts: "oh yeah? Show me one, just one!" We retreat into uncomfortable silence. A disruptor. Disrespectful. Euclid must not be called on the mat! At least not with such naïve challenges (jiggering with the 5th postulate was bad enough).

Euclid meets Sumo-Synergetics in manga I'd like to read.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I can't resist the snake oil title, given I won't see another 6/6/6 in my life time, plus I want to write about hexagons (six-sided).

I met with Patrick and Glenn today about the omnipresent hexagonal motif (like the Three Bees logo in that Constant Gardener movie). As Glenn points out, it's iconographic for info-, nano- and bio- technologies, a geometry of nature in some way (the bees are innocent of man's crimes).

Hexapent turtle shell
Chattanooga Aquarium
(photo by K. Urner)

Patrick had done a lot of Googling and was well aware of my Pythonic approach to geometry. Still, I take no credit for the static clip below. We need a large open source archive of more dynamic clips as well.

So how do Glenn's Global Matrix and my Global Data fit together? In science fiction that's sometimes hard to tell apart from science fact? Global data does look handsome on a hexapent. Somehow it seems a natural fit. Didn't the Klingons know this?

We brainstormed a child's toy or planner's game: hexagonal tiles represent eco-village components; assemble to suit your eco-surroundings, your specific land- and/or sea- and/or air and/or space scape (could be computer graphical, could be cardboard -- could be made to look like cardboard, but on a computer).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Another Shop Talk

I'll need to bone up on Oracle 8, now that I'm redeveloping SQL against that target, via an ODBC pipeline from Microsoft Visual FoxPro (VFP).

So far, I'm sucking too much content through my remote views, applying all the logic client side, which is fine, given our dire need for data, post system switchover.

However, I should go back and rewrite these as "SQL pass through" (SPT) queries, meaning they go through verbatim in Oracle-compliant SQL via VFP's SQLEXEC. The result cursors should then be finalized data sets, with the various joins and boolean filters already applied by the capable Oracle engine.

I've documented this need for a rewrite in the source code (in pulldata.prg).

We'll see if I get to it.

Probably I should visit Powell's Technical downtown for a good Oracle 8 book. I'm specifically in need of more on the new datetime field type and related functions -- more than I've yet been able to discover while browsing the web.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Philosophy Talk

Blogger's bein' slow today. Dawn's is finally out of the hospital (radiation burns make it impossibly painful for her to swallow much food or drink, but they're healing).

Earlier this morning, I posted the following to Synergeo, which I think is indicative of at least my personal trajectory in semantic space:

Hi Lou --

We've argued about this before.

I've consistently stated I view Synergetics as a work in philosophy, and yes, it's tainted with physics throughout, and with math, but it's best when we shake those loose and can enjoy our pure prefrequency tautologies, which are not "empty nonsense" once you factor in all the cool hypertoons we're getting. Plus (and, in addition), we do get to enter the world of time/size with our various semi-generalizations, regarding banking and accounting and all that good stuff, i.e. we do get to play in the physical world, even to the point of making some changes in physics now and then (but in no sense is that a priority -- physics is free to spin its unified fields forever and there's no reason to get in front of a moving train waving some sign from the resistance).

So I think what you call my "petulance" is rather your complete misunderstanding of the fact that I'm in a different department all together. Yes, Fuller was anti-hyperspecialization of course, but I pride myself (yes, this is vanity talking) that at least philosophers know that's a problem, whereas physicists, for the most part, have fallen into the same literalist trap as many religious fundamentalists. They think ultimate truth is a set of statements about something physical. That's why we we call them physicists (helps to know Greek -- being patronizing, yes -- helps to know Latin).

So anyway, I'm looking forward to a long-running feud with the physics department over how come we in the philosophy department get to teach synergetics so effectively almost without consulting them it sometimes seems. We're off on some tangent, with our own meaning of "spin" in some remote namespace that's nevertheless quite effective. Our students get good jobs. We don't lack funding.


PS: Lou was actually finding someone else "petulant" and I misunderstood. No matter. I think it's a valuable post anyway, in the sense that I'm marking some turf.

We watched Oliver Stone's Alexander last night. I didn't think he got JFK right either, but it's his job is to make entertaining movies, right? I suppose I was entertained.