Friday, January 29, 2010

A Quick Recall

Software engineering has spawned a vast literature, a lot of it deriving from manufacturing.

Process control, meaning in many cases maximizing uniformity among outputs, is all about looking for statistical anomalies. What's about to break? What's already broken?

Most life cycle development models put a premium on getting as much right at design time as feasible. The so-called Waterfall approach tries to prevent any dabbling in implementation until all the requirements have been fully specified, in terms of use cases (scenarios) or whatever lists.

A more reasonable approach is to start down the implementation path with mock ups and prototypes, garnering feedback from end users. This means system architecture is not finalized before some construction has occurred.

Software development is not exactly like building a physical building -- there's still customer feedback and changes to blueprints rather late in the game.

Agile development methods include such refactoring as a part of its test driven approach.

CMMI, IEEE 1417, Six Sigma... a vast literature.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Update on Projects

:: by D. Koski using vZome ::

Open Source:

I again tackled making the Win 7 laptop (named Flextegrity) a dual boot machine. My diagnosis is the motherboard Core i3 video is not yet Ubuntu-compatible, as of version 9.10 (Karmic Koala). I could only find one post on the problem.

Over on edu-sig, I've continued having fruitful dialog with some talented teachers. That's quite a strong archive if I say so myself. The PSF list is heating up with more discussions of nominations, which I feel at liberty to share, as Pycon is coming right up, so tiz the season. I'm just a freshman, joined PSF in 2009, so I've just been lurking mostly. This is my first time to even see the process.

Flextegrity:

A new shipment of version 5 has arrived, in multiple colors. We dove into assembly mode, building a tower. The parts are Home Depot compatible, or should be.

Replacing a squares-based with a triangles-based knitting pattern in later versions, made Flextegrity more robust, less brick-like. The orientation of the icosahedra in their join matrix was key.


Synergetics:

I've "amberized" (frozen) the Wikipedia entry on Synergetics up to the latest SNEC fork, by moving it over to Wikieducator. I realize I have limited control over the Wikipedia version, should not expect it to stay on the track I originally envisioned for it.

On WikiEducator, I'm more like the school teacher or artist, with more creative control over the pages I instantiate. I've got a bunch. The Python Tutorials page was a collaborative effort.

Regarding the WikiEducator version: that first paragraph and block quote after "What is Synergetics?" was already the opening salvo when I inherited the page on Wikipedia. The page was languishing as a "stub" at the time.

I added the bullets, also verbatim Synergetics, then spent the balance of the entry seeking to shed light on those claims while providing more of a philosophical and/or literary context.

Think of Synergetics as akin to Finnegans Wake, with my contribution exegesis thereon -- a perfectly legitimate Wikipedia topic. Or maybe use the term "hermeneutics" if "exegesis" sounds too Biblical for ya?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Updating Wikipedia

I've been resisting tackling the Wikipedia page on Bucky Fuller's Synergetics. Why? Well for one thing because I'm somewhat close to the action and encyclopedias are supposed to be these dispassionate endeavors. Wikipedia calls for impartiality.

On the other hand, no one was stepping up to the plate, giving at least the simple basics. Obviously that page was just going to sit there, going nowhere. Being close to the action means I have some credibility on this subject.

I'd been doing some related writing over on Wikieducator, had some ready material. I do think the new version is a real improvement. I was also sensitive to previous authors and did not remove anything. I fixed some punctuation, added a couple hyphens. As Wiki-buffs know, there's a complete page history, so the details may be audited.

Was I impartial enough? What I avoided was trying to tell much of the subsequent history, after publication. Yes, people discovered (and named) buckminsterfullerene and E.J. Applewhite wrote this great article about it in Chemical Intelligencer. That's for some other entry. Or read The King of Infinite Space, a biography of Donald Coxeter by Siobhan Roberts, which also tells some of this story. Or poke around in my blogs.

What I focused on was the tetrahedral geometry, but then I wanted to be sure readers had the flavor of the writing, and understood its philosophical nature. This wasn't some dry manual for dome engineers. He tackled the big issues, the human condition.

Was I just being a baby in avoiding this work? Given the obscurity of this topic, and the fact few people care about it or even know it exists, you might think it should have been a trivial exercise for me, nothing all that painstaking. On the contrary, this has been some difficult business.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Burn Out City

I came across Arthur Dye today, out for a walk in the neighborhood. We chatted a bit. He's been a mentor on AFSC matters, or at least a great source of stories. I used to work for him at CUE, and later at Ecotrust.

Dr. Tag said I looked world-weary when yakking about AFSC at our recent meeting. She was off to an organizing meeting about assembling culture boxes (schools can order them for classroom use). I was taking a short break away from my office.

I don't deny feeling pressure. Just keeping up is a challenge. A little training in Wordpress got me nudging Grunch.net a few spaces into the future. Not that many readers reach Synergetics on the Web through that portal, but those that do may want to catch up on a little esoteric history, not usually covered in schools.

My technical writing regarding Flextegrity is still in the beginning stages.

I'm somewhat relieved the PCMTV orientation for tonight was canceled. I'd only just found about it from Glenn. That's for people wanting to make television.

Channel 29 is delivering a premier TV show on geometry these days, called Dimensions. You can watch the episodes on-line. Made in France.

Chuck and Mary took me to lunch. We chatted with mom by cell (they go back to before I was born). Mom is into the thick of it with WILPF these days, while the LA area deals with major downpours.

Our work/study cook/musician pulled an all nighter in her basement apartment. Her voice wafted up through the furnace vents even unto the second floor, where my daughter and I have our respective bedrooms (Melvin, the chameleon, has moved back with his owner, leaving Barry-the-Python to keep Tara company; I get the dog).

The assignment: to sing in C# against the keyboard's F-# major melody (did I get that right?). She reports needing over a hundred and seventy takes to get it done. That's a pretty grueling schedule given tonight marks the start of her marathon community organizing event at Laughing Horse (which is where I'm at now).

By all means lets ramp up to help Haitians, but then lets keep ramping up. Disaster relief should and could be one of the world's biggest businesses. Disaster prevention would be another. Here's a dramatic alternative to phony cop shows, phony doctor shows... should we call it the Reality Channel?

My concerns about AFSC are mostly website related. Which of those programs is actually a ghost program? United Voices is what I was involved with in Portland, but is that what we're doing today? The Portland site is out of date. As laision, I need to report that to Bridge City, along with some other stuff. As NPYM rep, I need to memo Seattle (which I did, although Philadelphia minds the website).

Without some exciting technology (helicopters, surface ships), control rooms (lots of global data, situations on screen), celebrities (not always from Hollywood) it probably couldn't compete in prime time against the Illusion Channel. Add those ingredients, and you're getting closer to getting an extended national guard commercial, complete with product placements.

Services looking to recruit, including some civilian ones, might have good reasons to like these shows.

I was re-listening to the tour guide at the Whitney on Youtube, explaining about Bucky's philosophy. She stresses the concept of a "closed system" a lot but is that really right? We need to talk more about "surfing the solar gradient" if we ever want to make some sense of our economic situation. Do they teach that in universities these days? You don't have to call it GST if you don't care to -- The Economist doesn't.

My thanks to Lionel for those podcasts, one of which was about the process whereby energy-using hydrocarbons create a food chain for we mammals. These were for kids though, with friendly piano music. I should share them with our student when she's not too busy...

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Day

I was glad to spend the $2 for a bottomless cup of coffee at Urban Grind. I listened intently to Martin Luther King's speech about the war in Indochina, though I was not able to hear every word.

I also studied The Oregonian, reading stories about Haiti, where the situation is grim.

Yesterday evening, four members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints showed up at my door, by prearrangement. I'd been studying their literature while chatting on the porch in the winter cold, comparing notes regarding our respective practices.

I'd invited them in to chat further, but as these were three young women, they needed a supervisor, unless I happened to have an older woman in my household, to serve as a chaperon.

Only my daughter was present, so they demurred, but resolved to return with an appropriate person.

As it happened, our live-in student was present this time, and so a chaperon was not strictly necessary (she studies the homeless situation in Portland and cooks meals -- a work/study arrangement).

Nevertheless, I was pleased to meet with this larger team. We sat around my dining room table for friendly conversation. Their supervisor had a Quaker background and, like the lead spokeswoman, was from Pennsylvania. We found other common ground as well.

We shared for approximately 10 minutes in each direction, followed by another 10 minutes of give and take. I had some AFSC literature on the table, and explained how Quakers, being a tiny sect, only manage to accomplish their business in this world by forming allegiances with non-Quakers who might experience similar leadings.

Our cook went off to get her Bible. Although more of a Buddhist, she went right to a quote in Revelations that she knew some Christians used to damn others, including Mormons. Our experienced visitors were not phased, having heard this quote many times.

I was impressed by this exchange, as I'm mostly ignorant where the The Book of Revelations is concerned. That particular book is not much emphasized in most the meetings I attend, even if they're Bible-focused.

My visitors and I did manage to agree on the doctrine of continuing revelation. We expect more prophets will be showing us a way forward, guided by whatever leadings, answering whatever callings. Indeed, we have many such leaders among us today.

I regard MLK as such a prophet, a latter day saint. That being said, I recognize MLK Day as a secular holiday more than a religious one. He championed civil rights and civil liberties, held dear by many religions, philosophies and ideologies.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

MLK Weekend

volume 147 K-mods by DK using vZome browns

I saw Quakers doing a lot of smart, conscientious analysis, as they gave donations to the Haiti rescue mission (although it's already too late for so many).

AFSC is running a tribute to MLK and their historic relationship, is partnered with Handicap International (per Twitter). Queen of Earthala (Friend) gave to Doctors Without Borders. However you might make the most difference, that's your calling, your way.

Anticipatory design science means having large inventories of relief supplies, ready to go. But then we're running low on staples to begin with. Eating less meat is an ethical option. More attention to "fooding and lodging" is what the math teachers are hoping we'll see (on TV).

I find so many experts promising the whole world will want to live like pigs and consume to the level of the sky's the limit, because that's simply human nature. This begs too many questions to address in one blog post.

What's unaesthetic is bad design, and no amount of money compensates for that ugliness, is my short answer.

Back to the real world: I'm cramming on GIT for Windows 7 using msysgit, a cygwin-like utility in that it runs a bash instance, complete with vim, enough to do development work, say with Django. It's not that you'd need to code in this window, just check in and out. Return to the native file system for your everyday business needs. Python runs fine outside of cygwin.


I agree with GL that it'd take like a million dollars to get enough math teachers interested in using agiles, industry standard though they be (no one runs a website off a calculator). They'd want to get paid, and get credit, as well they should, in exchange for some concerted study. Self selecting? Volunteers? I've been inviting suggestions, in the spirit of encouraging intelligent debate. I've had enough meetings to know this isn't a completely unfamiliar conversation. Do we call it digital math or discrete math? Do we care?

A bulked up teacher training program is worth the investment provided Oregon's students (or any cyber state's) might enjoy the benefits of whatever outcomes. We would get some surprising results I'm pretty sure. Not knowing everything in advance is somewhat par for the course. People seem to think political science offers some possibility of deterministic theater, yet even the Newtonians had no way to suggest the Laws of Nature were that strict.

I'd suggest PCC as a venue, a facility with enough computer labs (feedback gleaned from Dr. Livio's talk). Or, as a known-quantity radical in these woods, I'm always suggesting the private sector jump in, and Intel has (in terms of money), but what does that mean on the ground?

Dave has me gawking at his 132-sider, a construct of vZome browns, which enter the hubs at the following angles.

12 browns in VE

He's got an analysis of this shape in terms of constituent hexahedra of rational volume, giving him an answer in K-mods.

The K-mod, for those interested, is 1.5 times the volume of the T-mod, and has phi/sqrt(2) radius.

Relative to the rhombic dodecahedron of volume 6 and rhombic triacontahedron of volume 7.5 (12o Ks), Dave has his 132-sider weighing in at 9 3/16.

Patrick has me thinking buzz bots again. They don't have to be sexy. Run in the cloud, command line switches. Talk through a switchboard (maybe PostgreSQL). Web crawling is a languid activity. It's the Wild West out there, and a lot of snakes (Python processes) die. Fortunately, these new languages tend to fail gracefully, with the proper raising of exceptions.

Glenn has me entranced with the macroscopic powers of Flextegrity. Instead of animated cartoons, we have the real deal, Made in China. Here's my look at a prototype Great Wall:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wanderers 2010.1.13

Ron Sato joined us this morning to whip through a rather cerebral yet informative talk about the FDA drug approval process, giving numerous historical examples of how scandals, abuses, mistakes, led to the passage of more stringent laws, bringing us to where we are today.

Ron did post-doctoral work at Rochester & Brown before joining American/DuPont-Merck. He participated in programs which generated Losartan, the first ARB (angiotensinogen receptor blocker) to reach the market, and Esmolol (a niche beta blocker).

The ensuing conversation focused on the bioethics around clinical trials, and ways desperate individuals sometimes attempt to work around the FDA, such as by getting their medicines less expensively from Canada.

The AIDS/HIV epidemic generated enough political pressure to expedite (fast track) the approval of some drugs. Many past scandals have involved drugs getting to the public without sufficient testing. Ron had several examples, including the 1937 Sulfanilamide Disaster, well documented by Carol Ballentine at the FDA website.

The ongoing illegality of marijuana and the consequent drug war in Mexico was also a topic of conversation. We did not talk about cocaine or the opiates, and the drug wars around those, in Columbia and Afghanistan respectively.

Several of those present bemoaned what they perceived as a loss of productive public debate in this country, given how shrill polemics and punditry have seemingly taken over on television. Where is our ability to collectively process information? How will our civilization advance? Through Youtube?

My position was that affordable health care, education etc., all need to go on the back burner so long as the priority is military spending. We just can't have it both ways. We're facing some either/or choices. This was not a new or original idea, just plain common sense. As a planet, our living standards are on hold, or are slated to go down, to the extent human beings focus on destroying their own infrastructure. That's really just a truism, disguised as an empirical fact.

Patrick and I had a similar conversation recently, wherein I regurgitated some of my National Geographic reading. If we ate less meat, had a healthier diet, and focused more on global electrification as an ongoing top priority, we might yet improve living standards. Kilowatts per capita consumption is inversely proportional to population growth, is thinking here. We're looking for those "gentle checks" Malthus was hoping we'd find.

However, I'm getting somewhat off topic here. More to the point were the zebra fish, which Ron knew quite a bit about. They're used by ONAMI companies, as I recalled. You want genetically simple creatures for early clinical trials. Testing on blow fish was another option, but zebra fish, being transparent, proved to have more potential.

Ron will be giving a similar talk at Reed College in a few days. We were fortunate to learn from his experience.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Activism in Portland

We caught up with the protest march having swung by Muddy's just to check on the haps, and finding the pancake breakfast chugging along. Lots of great business opportunities materialized this weekend, with Flipside chief among them.

Running late, we strode onward towards downtown, over the Morrison Bridge.

I recommended to Lindsey she might want to contact the Legion of Tech, as Ignite-like events (with longer musical numbers interspersed) could be an ongoing worth-something-to-be-there Flipside experience. Minimum $5 maybe?

The idea would be to keep funneling events into that queue (by whatever "air traffic control" process), to keep the wheels turning, the revenue streaming. Muddy's is likely having this same idea. The puzzle is not unlike the one faced by Multnomah Community Access, the cable TV station. One hopes to keep filling the pipeline with fresh programming.

Riot Cop just phoned about tomorrow... (now later today...).

Sometimes an event might need to be antiseptic, cordoned off, like when museum quality art makes its debut. We've got advertising dollars in this picture, sponsors for said events, if and when the time seems appropriate.

* * *

The protest march was tightly organized, staging around Pioneer Place and then stopping in front of cell phone company store fronts, starting with Verizon, then T-Mobile, then Sprint, then Cricket. The message at each was the same: divest of your Motorola brand cell phones -- also a message to consumers who happened to be watching.

I remarked to fellow marchers on the rarefied, somewhat esoteric nature of this message, "almost Kabbalistic" I said. "Now that's maybe going too far" tsk-tsked one of our clique.

The sidewalk protestors then promptly converged to a PSU lecture hall for some lightning talks, other conferencing. I'd hung back at the Heathman awaiting my Jordanian friend. We decided to move her car to the faculty garage, get a day pass.

Then our little party had to eject early owing to time constraints: Lindsey had a meeting with Multnomah Friend Elizabeth Fischer at Laughing Horse while I needed to catch up with Ambassadora Tag re matters Pythonic (yes, I need a haircut, am too much the long hair these days, some weird professor).

Although I took part in the procession, I was not shy about whipping out my cell phone and pointing out the Verizon logo. Does its being a Samsung get me off the hook? Lindsey mentioned a website called Credo that advises on cell brands based on various ethical criteria.

The protest march, ostensibly having something to do with nation states and the deathly serious plight we're in, reminded me of like actions at Princeton back in the 1970s, wherein shareholders got scrutiny for having invested in inequity.

The message was one of more socially responsible investors, looking after the Princeton brand, wanting to keep it untarnished and divested of dead albatross companies. We call that school spirit. Students planning to wear the Princeton name on their sleeves, or otherwise identify with their alma mater, wanted to be on the right side of history in the eyes of posterity. Who could blame them? This was in relation to South Africa's impending transformation.

At our 25th reunion, our class gave itself some pats on the back for Princeton's historic performance. Student pressure to divest had made a difference. Sally Frank also got special mention during the ceremonies, for her diversity work: just because Princeton had started admitting women, doesn't mean there wasn't still work to be done, and Sally had taken it on.

These were my "2D friends" I might as well brag about it.

My own deeper ties to South Africa would develop later, with my family's move to that area.

On a related front, the imprisonment of a hip hop artist Marc Hall for singing out against stop loss has hit a nerve with some musicians. Speaking out against slavery is what a lot of music has been about and that's not likely to change all of a sudden. Hip hop and folk music have a lot of historical continuity.

Commercialized music may not have a message (other than "numb me out"), but artists have been known to sing for free in favor of a cause. That's how it worked at Liberty Hall. At those kinds of occasions, you'll get more substantive content. Like at those fundraisers at the Laughing Horse venue: musicians spoke their minds, both in lyrics and between songs. All the funds went to buy sleeping bags for the homeless.

Tag and I had some Roots Red and split a slice at American Dream Pizza, then she had to flit back downtown. She keeps track of who practices what religion, noting when a student is Jewish, a cousin is Christian, another is Muslim and so on. She's respectful of world religions, reserving her sharpest criticism for her own orthodoxy (the mark of a true scholar: be most critical of what you know the most about).

I'm not so good at keeping track of what religion everyone claims to profess, get their signs mixed up too. I like to get into dialog with someone and make my own determinations. Maybe she claims to be this or that but I'm seeing something else? I discover some new Quakers in this way. Plus I like psychological and philosophical taxonomies, with their more secular (religion-neutral) flavor.

Portlanders push themselves to be socially conscious, even though that's not always easy. We have a lot of good book stores and Internet cafes. Case in point: this Goldstone Report I'd not heard about, though condemned by a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 867), was defended by both Kucinich and Blumenauer, with Wu and DeFazio voting present. That's what a lot of our zip codes are like around here: at least two standard deviations from the center of the bell curve.

When it comes to orthodoxies, I think it's pretty obvious the entire planet Earth may be viewed as our promised land, in the sense that here is what God has provided to humanity for a home. There's this sense of a sacred covenant and a need to protect her and save her, to pass her on to coming generations. Or is this a heresy instead of an orthodoxy? Either way, I think we're existentially called to greater global awareness, and both religion and science have a role to play in answering this call.

Asian Heritage

Friday, January 08, 2010

Back to the Future

I did some lesson planning for my futuristic math class today, filing some fragments here and there, as I'm not trying to hoard. This is free and open source culture after all, much the same as the ambient academe, in terms of not copy-protecting what needs to be shared.

The stack goes in layers, from chip to cloud, with some floors public, others private -- not that hard to visualize. Where it's stuff we all share, like the operating system, you like to check into it, see that it's not doing anything against your best interests. That's why we have SELinux and such distros, or just Linux in general (anyone may double check the source code -- not that that's easy, but some people can, find they learn from doing it).

Of special interest is the mini-language that are Python's format specifiers, newly back ported to 2.6, and the way to get your string outputs the way you like 'em. The cool thing here is your specifiers know how to dig into the guts of the objects sent, using dot notation, dictionary syntax or whatever, just unquoted.

In using Python as a calculator, we're not forbidding ourselves short class definitions, such as something to instantiate a dome, for use on Mars (Earth... Moon) in various ecosystems. One example showed inputting frequency and edge length, say from any pentagon center to a neighboring hub. By the provided algorithm (imported in one line), that's sufficient information provided you're also given the frequency. The result is deterministic at that point. And what you get back are various attributes, such as volume (both in tetra-units and cubes), temperature, cabin pressure, stuff like that. The student isn't expected to write some long script. These aren't necessarily typists we're talking about.

I think I told the story pretty well, of how we made the leap from 2.x to 3.x. I'm also consistent in my view that mono-lingual is worse than bilingual. In the age of unicode, we encourage ogling the full character set. However, here I'm talking about multiple computer languages, and I circle J, inheriting from APL, as a good example of something completely different. Compare it with Python and you'll have a better appreciation for how various are these languages. Don't stop there if you're interested.

Hey, wanted to listen to Good Bye Party music after work but upon stowing the gear I realized I was famished and needed to cook something (rice, potato, broccoli etc.). My daughter is off with a peer group of elders, women from her mother's circle.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Biz Notes

by D. Koski (Flickr)

by D. Koski (Flickr)

Yes, says Sir Koski, Zometool'll give us an octet-truss if we use the twisted greens. I've been checking out the patent on those zome hubs (4701131, Paul Hildebrandt), cool. The process for their manufacture is likewise a miracle. Respect the factory, not just the inventor: a lesson I learned from Stu Quimby & Co.

From my on-line resume:
Design Science Toys, Tivoli, New York (2005): Consulted on-site and remotely with the owner of an educational toy factory regarding the design and packaging of Strange Attractors, a geometric construction kit. Exchanged spreadsheets with the lead designer regarding the dimensions and color coding of the plastic rods with detachable magnetic cone inserts. Tested successive factory prototypes for quality and usability. Developed a custom Python library of spatial geometry programs for outputting Scene Description Language to POV-Ray, a free and open source ray tracer. Collaborated with the instruction booklet author and lead marketer to supply high definition color renderings of the product in various stages of assembly, for use in the instruction booklet and on the commercial packaging.
by K. Urner (Flickr)

The twisted green addresses the Zome hubs pentagon facets, but not straight on, at a slant. This gives five possible positions per strut and reconciles the exploded pentagonal dodecahedron (the 12 facets of said hub) with more FCC-like capabilities, taking advantage of the "five cubes" phenomenon.

I'm hoping Laughing Horse Books has or will get this new movie The Garden, about an oasis community in LA, deliberately undermined by the city to keep a success story from continuing. Of course the saga is ongoing, as the news spreads.

LW is trully concerned about Muddy's, isn't clear to what extent they might have a real business plan. She strode off to their recently called meeting, a reconnaissance mission.

I'm always thinking tourism could save the day, like people would venture through Portland precisely to seek out and savor subcultures like SE Belmont's. But that's probably out of date thinking.

People come to Portland on business, for meetings, not for uncompensated fun in the sun. That turns some coffee shops into media centers, more like CubeSpace, or into co-working zones.

Live musical performances, including karaoke, have an integral role in keeping wheels turning, especially when working cross-culturally, as often happens given our Pacific Rim situation. We saw James Jameson doing karaoke awhile back, and I acknowledge he's good at it, as good as he'd claimed.

So, if you're already in Portland on business, are from out of town, check out Muddy Water's on SE Belmont. Check out Red Cap, Three Friends.... No reason to be afraid of SE Portland, including the Hawthorne District (Bagdad Theater etc.)

Also check out (and consider giving a donation to) St. Francis Dining Hall. Quakers volunteer there sometimes, including myself and my daughter. Check out Laughing Horse Books. Then visit Dignity Village on your way back to the airport? It's close to Ikea.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Pacific Rim Economics

I followed up on my meeting with Buzz by meeting with the company president he'd been telling me about. I learned a lot about polyethalene (PE) as applied to billboards.

Even as a shelter skin, PE sheets might be colorized. I was thinking of "Big Map" applications such as were used in World Games, but optionally foldable into giant globes, geoscopes. Wouldn't schools like to have these?

Whereas Jay Baldwin used Tefzel (DuPont) to make a skin of transparent argon-gas-filled pillows, PE fabrics are more readily translucent. I don't know if PE pillows would even work.

This company has experience selling through Walmart.com, has maybe 3000 employees in China alone, a headquarters in Dallas.

Although PE has a reputation for being slow to biodegrade, more recent products make it more eco-friendly. It's better than PVC at any rate, also used in dome shelter solutions.

I reminded Buzz that most domical domiciles to date had missed including the garden. The actual dwelling, where the furniture is placed, might be more like a movie set, given the containing free span shell already provides a controlled environment, shelter from the elements.

Autonomous living unit, 1949
Buckminster Fuller
© Buckminster Fuller Institute

Internally, the division of living space into floors and rooms has nothing to do with holding up a roof.

These were not immediate concerns of our metal rods and PE company however, which was casting about for agricultural applications, such as equipment warehouses, gazebos, auxiliary structures.

I went back to my old list of dome manufacturers on the Way Back Machine, looking for still-going concerns.

Various solutions have been tried at this scale.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

More Geopolitics

I left the venue, Liberty Hall, to join Michael and Matt for birthday celebrations. Michael has turned 52.

Our conversation turned to Iran. I brought up Freeman Dyson's suggestion that now would be a good time to focus on new agreements with the Russians, about reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. North Korea and Iran are small potatoes when it comes to reducing the nuclear threat. Lets build on the progress of earlier presidents.

That's not what's in the news today though (maybe tomorrow?).

Instead we're getting all these anonymous national advisers citing unnamed defectors and classified reports to the effect that the NIE report is no longer to be believed. Per today's New York Times:
Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only is roundly rejected by Western officials and, in internal reports, by international nuclear inspectors. Yet Washington’s assessments of how much progress Iran has made toward a weapon have varied greatly over the past two years, partly a reflection of how little is known about the inner workings of the country’s nuclear programs.

Mr. Obama’s top advisers say they no longer believe the key finding of a much disputed National Intelligence Estimate about Iran, published a year before President George W. Bush left office, which said that Iranian scientists ended all work on designing a nuclear warhead in late 2003.
Public memory may be short, but weren't "disbelieving top advisers" a primary source of misinformation leading to the invasion of Iraq?

The president ended up on TV making a fool of himself, searching high and low for those non-existent WMDs. Never before in world history has a USA president been forced to humiliate himself in this way.

Do we want a repeat of that bitter defeat, so soon? Is the plan to force the new president's hand? We're told he's giving sanctions one more chance, but that they've never worked in the past. So here's that stench of inevitability again, concocted behind the scenes, a deliberately self-fulfilling prophecy, a phony fait accompli.

Colin Powell at least had the guts to put his name and reputation on the line, and to express regrets later. Let's at least cut the crap and stop with the slimy "anonymous" BS, whaddya say? Let's not let the warmongers hide in the woodwork again, building consensus through leaks. Watch those pundits carefully now, and you'll see their sleights of hand.

The NYT has soiled itself before, become the shallow tool of jingoists. Journalism with backbone doesn't spark wars through innuendo, doesn't kowtow.

If that NIE has been superseded, then lets be super clear by whom, when and why. Because of Qum? The White House web site will make this crystal clear, and no fair simply cutting and pasting from British government sources.

Global engineers have built more nuclear power plants in need of fissile materials, as they've done many times around the world. Here's a significant civilian investment and we could definitely benefit from the power.

Iran's grid connects to Iraq's in at least nine places according to the Army Corps of Engineers, and Iraq desperately needs that power in order to rebuild. So if there's any way to safely provide the missing ingredient (a non-weapons-grade fuel), then that would be the rational / worthy goal in this case.

So has the USA already offered to supply said missing ingredient, should the Iranian centrifuges prove not up to the job? That would seem the humane gesture, as Iraq has been unnecessarily devastated by disbelieving officials, needs to repair itself pronto as the troops pack their gear, mission accomplished, purpose served.

If the USA is at all serious about helping Iraq, then it should at the very least not obstruct Russian plans to provide processing capability, long on the table. Russia is geographically closer to these plants and has the wherewithal, already performs the same service for plants in India. Getting those civilian power plants up and running is a top priority.

The UK's Jack Straw is already on record saying Iran has a right, in principle, to develop civilian nuclear power. To argue otherwise is to come off like some uber-coward hypocrite.

Also, speaking of hypocrits, why is the UN so silent on the continued occupation of Iraq by a foreign power? Its own UNSCOM was overridden, the IAEA disbelieved. If Iran is defying the will of the UN, by continuing to enrich uranium, then isn't the USA doing the same, by continuing to occupy a sovereign nation?

The UN can't afford to be a perceived as a hapless puppet if it wants any credibility in this world. A little more even handedness would go a long ways at this juncture.

I learned from Bill Lightfoot about my uncle John Talmadge. He's choosing to forgo further treatment. Our family is pulling together in support.