Monday, April 30, 2007



Shoptalk re an obscure Python module,, written by yours trully to help with the math teaching, Oregon Curriculum Network style. Click here for an embedded high rez version (Flash movie).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Basement Archeology

"From: a Bhutanese Mathematics Curriculum (problems)"
by K. Urner, October, 1989
(click for larger view)
link to Math Forum

Idiocracy (movie review)

OK, I've added this cult comedy to my list of all time favorites.

Great to see America still being a superpower, this far into the future, and so clearly extrapolating from present trends.

Monster trucks!

I can see why the cowards at Fox sat on it. You can't be this mean towards stupidity without encountering some nervous resistance from the CEOs.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Horse Country

photos by K. Urner
Olympus Stylus 720 SW
near Oregon City off Hwy 213

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Posting from KTU3...

KTU2 has moved to the basement, replacing Jennifer, the Ubuntu box I borrowed from Derek a year ago. Thanks to the Belkin game port, KTU2 is again on the LAN (the wireless PCI card never worked -- KTU2 has some issues).

TMU, in the meantime, now runs Ubuntu 6.10 in addition to Windows XP, replacing the Mandrake 10.1 distro. I had to tweak the installer script that came with the LinuxUser & Developer magazine DVD, per some on-line instructions.

I decided to bundle a DirecTV package through Qwest, dropping Comcast as my cable TV provider. We'll see how that goes. So far, I'm liking getting all these new channels (Comedy Central, SciFi Channel... Animal Planet). We also added caller ID to our house phone line.

DLW remains an important center on our home network, especially for bookkeeping.

Tara has a new snake, Naga, a girl corn.

Mom phoned today, is heading back to DC for more pow wows with big wigs. We're looking forward to Judy's visit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Queen (movie review)

A creepy blend of fact and fiction. I turned it off part way through, deciding I didn't need to fill my head with such worthless misinformation.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Boring Tax Story

Probably the most obscure form in my repertoire is the local TriMet self-employment tax, due from sole proprietorships and partnerships. We've always filed as a partnership, using the federal tax ID for Dawn Wicca and Associates, which is what I'm doing for 2006 as well.

TriMet provides excellent transportation services in this area. I like seeing where my money is going. This is a tax I don't really mind paying. DWA (not publicly traded) owes $209 on its TMSE this year, revenue to Oregon's department for same.

I got my 1065, K-1s, 1040 and OR Form 40 filed last week (these pair with the 1099s and W2s on the other end). The whole process felt very stagecoachy and wild west. These schedules are every geek's nightmare of accumulated cruft. I hope the company town ecovillages get a better API to the feds, this time with more help from real computer scientists.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday Morning

So I've been taking in Buckminster Fuller: The Lost Interviews, two discs from Netflix. A common thread is Bucky appreciates the more "spelled out" nature of naval service, and although resigned as a line officer in the USN, continues to monitor naval affairs well into a 21st Century mindset (he died in 1983).

Not sure I'd call 'em Lost, as videohounds like me may have caught one or two of 'em. But it is fringe UFO TV kinda stuff, like Coast-to-Coast (C2C), a Sunanda hangout.

CBS News was fun last night, with President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf saying "bullshit" and getting bleeped by Lara. I was lucky enough to catch some of Musharraf's performance on Comedy Central that time he was doing a quick road tour in the USA recently.

I showed some of the first lost interview to Wanderer Glenn Stockton yesterday, as we sipped beers in my livingroom. Sarah was eager for attention, per usual but we made her "go lie down" (Sarah's my dog).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Declassified Letter

Dang, didn't make the final cut at OSCON this year. Maybe next year.

Anyway, here's one of the background missives I sent, in explanation of my original proposal, when queried (redacting addressees, redoing the hyperlinks (hey, it's my letter, I'll mangle it however I wish)). Sent Feb 11, 2007 10:18 AM.

OK, the backstory here is Guido van Rossum, inventor of Python, early on proposed CP4E or Computer Programming for Everybody, which even briefly attracted some DARPA (USA's DoD) funding. Now, depending who you talk to, CP4E is either "dead" and/or "very much alive" (I say the latter) but the gist of it is, many besides Guido are banking on Python's reputedly easy syntax to attract many more people to programming, especially by making it an expected part of everyday schooling, in conjunction with math learning and analytical skills building, and not just for CS (computer science) majors (you don't need to be declaring "a major" when that young -- like, the majors may have changed, by the time you get to college).

Ah, but Python was never in a vacuum, and such dreams for a computer science takeover or at least a bigger footprint in K-12 (pre-college) has long been a theme in geekdom, especially among language designers achieving some breakthrough in expressivity: "Why can't just anybody learn to think this way?" the young language designer asks. And in some dimension, sharing these languages is a realistic goal (of course!), as the spread of Python, Perl, PHP, Ruby, C/C++/C#, SQL, JavaScript etc. already well attests.

Alan Kay of Smalltalk fame, friend of Seymour Papert of Logo, champion of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) has become our new keynote speaker (EuroPython by transmission) and provider of new hope to many a would be Python learner. That's right, Alan has adopted Python as his new pet language, or so he told us at the Shuttleworth Summit in London last April, hosted by Mark (Shuttleworth) in hopes of taking what's right about the CP4E dream, and adapting it for his home country of South Africa where it became the Kusasa Project (

I was present at this April round table, as Guido's sidekick, with about 11-14 others, plus representatives of the Scheme community and the South African government. I blogged about it live, during the meetings (my laptop, not running Ubuntu, had the loudest fan, embarrassing when Guido commented on that), but I'm still developing new insights in hindsight, about all that went on over those two or three days of intensive meetings. Plus I was invited to the London Knowledge Lab to give a presentation before that, enroute to my meeting at Friends House (as in Quakers) with Nancy Irving (FWCC).

Within the Python community, these threads are pursued in an open archive special interest group (SIG) called edu-sig. We've had a flood of Alan Kay fans and coworkers joining us lately. Whereas we of Python have learned much of Alan Kay culture (I hope of a deeply technical nature), so have the Squeakers and Smalltalkers been learning about what we bring to the table: namely CP4E and VPython, Saturday Academy, Kirby Urner and his geeky freaky Bucky Fuller hypertoons (see, and of course Python itself, which continues to develop, in terms of teaching materials (CS departments are increasingly migrating at least some of their intro courses to this language -- a mixed blessing as some profs overindulge in showing "stupid snake trix" such as by suppressing its "everything is an object" model (i.e. they dumb it down too much, make it purely procedural (blech))).

My aim in this talk is to lay out something of this backstory in the context of the OSCON community, which is more about Python in the context of other open source languages. Ruby is very good with OpenGL as well, not just Python via VPython. What we're doing in CP4E is of benefit to open source communities more generally, because the "for everybody" idea doesn't specify any one particular language, just another spreading of a generic kind of fluency/literacy, as we more democratize around these very sharable skills (and keeping the source open is a big part of keeping this free and open culture alive).

We will continue to need a wealth of languages, including M (MUMPS) and J ( i.e. a lot of "not [at least not yet] OSCON" languages too. There's an "all in this boat together" kind of feeling (spaceship earth), with lots of working code to maintain, as well as new stuff to write.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Woman for Peace

Carol Reilley Urner, my mom, has always been a bold player on the world stage, working for peace. At 77, she's still as active as ever. Here's some recent press:

:: front page,
The PeaceWorker,
April 2007 ::

:: front page,
Whittier Daily News,
March 26, 2007 ::

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

An Earlier Easter

:: Alexia and Haley ::

:: Dawn and Tara ::

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter 2007

:: Scout and Sarah, a first meeting ::

:: egg hunt in the backyard ::

:: children complete a puzzle ::

:: children find a snake, treat it kindly ::

:: Easter repast, with pro golf on the tube ::

(photos by K. Urner, Olympus Stylus 720)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Children of Men (movie review)

We could add this to the Fuller School syllabus as a way of talking about Bucky's mind/brain distinction within the literary (and filmic) realm. Machine world has lost touch with its humanity (the Human Project) and survives in a Fallujah-like realm of zero regenerative potential. A tenuous link, marked by a single new life on the machine side, sets wheels turning for brain and mind to reconnect.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I just bought a kit at Freddie's, sans any software, to collate papers for tax purposes. Dawn always handled the Schedule K, so I'm scrambling to play catch up. She also ran the electronic bookkeeping, which now runs well behind the paper trail, hungry to eat it (bank statements galore). All in good time. Not trying to rush Mother Nature (since when did that do any good?).

John & Alexia made it safely back to Tennessee yesterday, with Dawn's iPod, a kind gift from Laurie, continuing in good hands. The iTunes on DLW still subscribes to dharma talk podcasts. And speaking of iPods, I also just purchased (yes, at Freddie's) a Belkin cassette adapter, for playing eTunes in Razz. The "FM bubble" solution is too often in conflict with environmental broadcasting, with the dip switches for resetting frequencies too small to be useful (some geek toy from Fry's). Tara is back in school and will get first dibs on a road test.

We're looking forward to another Memorial Service in maybe a year's time, closer to family in West Pennsylvania (a lot of it Amish country, probably with Jesus camps 'n such). Dawn loved studying the life of Jesus, from all different perspectives, women's especially. Which reminds me, time for a visit to the Gold Door, just off Hawthorne, for some fresh prayer candles.

And speaking of podcasts, I wanted to mention catching Karl Rove's hiphop performance on CBS News of March 29th -- Couric's trademark spin strongly applied. Hilarious action; good bboying ya'll, Katie's included.