Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update from Pauling Campus


I'm sending out a blast of communications this morning, even while receiving a flood of incoming.

A model UN in Alaska might pick up on our GENI debate, continuing the one in Georgetown. Delegates role playing a Putin-Palin meetup would make for fun theater. Just an idea, not my call.

My Grunch Net site is getting more hits, judging from comments in my inbox, many of which go no further. The upgrade to Wordpress was apparently worth the price, in terms of netting more readers. A contemporary look and feel is more catchy, Trevor was right about that.

I showed up with an assortment of show & tell items, including this new Quaker manifesto disavowing the Doctrine of Discovery, relayed by a former AFSC chief. This is back office stuff with possible property value implications.

I also had my copy of Genius at Work, something to flash around when talking about "tetrahedral mensuration" -- a hot topic in some NCTM circles, per recent postings to the Math 2.0 Google group.

:: alexander graham bell with octet truss ::

Buzz and I are yakking about Beaverton high schools and Google's reputation, also Wikipedia's. At some schools, teachers like to dump on all things Internet, consider these technologies a threat. Buzz had some anecdotes.

So is this a union thing? No, we don't think so. Probably more generational, with some individuals disliking change. Many go into math teaching seeking to escape impermanence, become psychologically distraught at the prospect of using Youtube, even when literally begged by students to share content by this means.

Beaverton's Sunset High, in contrast, is very pro Internet and encourages students to develop their communications skills with new media. This is one of the top schools in the nation. Do they teach about Mites, Sytes and Kites? Soon if not yet I'll betcha.

The idea of vans going around, various logos affixed (Google's?), staging dog and pony shows, remains a live proposition. The armed services have this level of access, and more (helicopters!) so why not civilians, or at least something hybrid (paramilitary). All Sparta and no Athens does not a global Renaissance make. Bombing one's way out of a recession is an impossibility, like the search for unobtainium (a fool's errand, a nutjob's notion).

I realized the other night that I could adapt my Standard Python Briefing to literally show Dog and Pony classes (both subclasses of Mammal). My Showmedo clips give the flavor, if you're wondering what I'm talking about.

My Dog and Pony class definitions would be along the lines of the PSF_Snake demo on Wikieducator, where a snake object eats a pony object. Those of you up on your lore know there's a Django thing going, a throwaway for cognoscenti.

In the humanities, we don't unpack every allusion at every turn (so much to say, so little time).

:: snake eats pony + spam ::

I like that Dr. Chuck's new Python for Informatics: Exploring Information has students pawing through Romeo and Juliet, studying word frequencies. Too many people still think programming is all about number crunching. They project all their dread of math where it may not belong. Not that math is just about number crunching either; another common misconception.

True, programming is lexical, more than graphical, but then so is Shakespeare. The brain hungers to anchor itself in prose, a verbal stream, not just in imagery, if people's appetites are to be believed (and why should we doubt them?).

As a preview of my standard training (dog & pony show), I booted Sun's VirtualBox for Steve and Jon, showing how I'm able to switch to Ubuntu (Karmic Koala). Then I went hunting for the Nelson Mandela clip about what Ubuntu means in South Africa, which I always enjoy showing.

Now Buzz is projecting a Youtube from our ISEPP president, Terry Bristol. This video won 2nd place in some AARP competition. Now we're on to palindromes, because of the structure of the above film. "We let animals laminate lew" is a good example. Segue to Godel Esher Bach wherein palindromes feature: Bill Sheppard (electrical engineer) is volunteering to lend his copy to Jon Bunce (musician), who hasn't read it yet.

Keith (not present this morning) has uploaded a 1973 Bucky lecture to archive.org, originally in ogg vorbis audio format, but now in mp3 as well. Here's a link for you die-hard buckaneers (lots of BFI types are reading this blog, for those of you wondering about my audience).

Speaking of disaffected buckaneers, FZ sent me an angry email in broken English (not his first language), vowing to stop our current forays into tetrahedral mensuration, of the triacontahedron in particular. Academics often fight over issues of priority, who discovered what first. There's a long history behind this, relating to bread and butter issues of who gets tenure, a pension.

I'm sympathetic to Frank's need for acknowledgment. In the good old days, he was less bitter. Maybe we'll patch it up down the road.

I'd give any serious geometer a stipend, just for sticking with it. Our culture is falling into disarray for lack of strong glue languages. David Koski is highly deserving of a scholarship, no question.

Don brought up the topic of Helen Specter's presentation last year, sometime after her Appreciative Inquiry workshop, which was excellent. She was fresh from Parliament of World Religions, wanting to give us an update.

Wanderers fell on its face on that one apparently, not the first time. As diplomats, we're not always ambassador caliber. I missed the event, am looking at damage control after the fact. Will the State Department forgive us, provide us with training? Where's Hillary when we need her?

Given Portland's solidarity with the Iranian people (an ongoing theme), you might suppose we speak Farsi. Instead, this Synchronofile page stays untranslated, even for Iranian readers. Over on Synergeo, I'm confessing that I suck at Spanish. My Indonesian student sends reams of code in Indonesian, but I just glaze over (fortunately, his English is pretty good).

Should AFSC move to the Linus Pauling Campus, as a reliable renter? Just a thought. Terry likes working with nonprofits that have complementary objectives. Doug Strain's company provided AFSC with a headquarters back in the 50s and 60s, when ESI turned over its facility on Stark Street to Multnomah Friends Meeting.

Much of the crew from Sam's boat trip from Seattle are here. I booted a video clip on the Toshiba from that voyage. I was not a part of that adventure. Great view of Seattle. Like you get from the Bainbridge ferry.

We ended with optical illusions ala M.C. Escher and Sir Roger Penrose. Quoting from my Math Summit essay of 1997:
Sir Penrose has added the “tribar” as something for which he and his father should be remembered. That’s that “impossible triangle” used in those famous Escher lithographs as a basis of the forever ascending staircase and descending waterfall.
Buzz is on to an old Beatles tape now.

We're nothing if not eclectic.

Out of battery, gotta go.