Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wanderers 2017.4.26


I've been shaking a cold since Earth Day, last Saturday. Peter, retired librarian, used to working with the public, says those cold viruses usually take about sixteen hours to incubate to the point of producing a notable physiological response, so the notion that I actually contracted the virus at the march, or later at the studio in Sellwood, would be pure science fiction on my part.

This morning's challenge was to ssh into the Raspberry Pi on the same network for file copying purposes. I was unsuccessful in entering a valid password, so had to venture to the basement in person to yank the memory stick, without ejecting properly. Yeah that sounds bad.  Psychoanalyze me why don't ya? So the point was to get anti-aliasing working better on these high frequency hexapents I'm doing for Glenn, a specimen above should be coming from Flickr.  How long did that last?

However the workflow, starting with Adrian's antiprism, through POV-Ray (the rendering software), ending in a PNG file, is supposed to go on to the making of transparencies. The shading or shadowing the ray tracer applies by default, is maybe command line turnoff-able. In lieu of that, I spent some thirty minutes dumping paint buckets (a tiny icon) of perfectly white paint (255, 255, 255), atop the bazillions of hexagons, a few pentagons.  Not that many actually. However I was at least forty minutes late to Glenn's talk, amidst other unrelated distractions such as forgetting where I'd put my boots.

Today I'm co-teaching in an elementary school and must remember to pack an HDMI cable, as that's our ticket to the projection screen, where MIT Scratch will be revealed to these second graders.  They're ready, having prepped with simpler games on the company Chromebooks. I wonder if we'll have enough mice this week. Tracking pad practice is important too of course.

Later, I'm on the Internet radio, closed circuit, with my highly qualified adults. That's a gig I've been hosting for awhile now.  The format is quite similar to what you'll find in my Youtube channel, with regard to Synergetics, say, except in this context it's all Python, from built-in to user types, callables (objects that "eat"), making your own, up through context managers, generators, the usual object oriented patterns, found in so many languages.

Last week I shared the news from Stanford, about Javascript replacing Java as an "intro to" programming language. Harvard's CS50 has been using MIT Scratch same as us, just for getting feet wet, before plunging into C and out the other shore (by week eight) in the lush jungle of Python, and other very high level languages. One appreciates the latter more having experienced the austere starkness of simply C.

Glenn has taken to coloring the hexapents to bring out patterns. I'm not going to recap all that here. He had a copy of Popko's book on the table, but didn't lug the Sloterdjik volumes I noticed.  He might as well have, but then pretty soon you're introducing a whole truckload of volumes, just for the one talk. Why should logistics be that hard, right?  The talk was well attended.  Barbara Stross, Milt Markowitz, Steve Mastin, Jon Bunce, Deke Bridges, Don Wardwell, Steve Crouch, Glenn and myself.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Learning Programming

I'm always learning programming, or "how to code", coming from several angles. I'm ever curious to learn more Javascript, what with it's being a moving target and now having Node.

I've always been a REPL guy, meaning I like my languages interactive. dBase was my home base for so many years, flavors thereof, up through Visual FoxPro version 9, a Microsoft product. REPL means Read (the user's command), Evaluate (perform said service), Print (share results), Loop (do it again!).

I'm not some super-duper programmer who quickly embraces new skills or whatever. I struggle to have a niche in some environment with a fast moving current.  Geeks have that constant battle to remain current in a few areas, while lagging in others, and foraying on ahead in yet other respects.

Tonight I focused on input and output through file objects, using JSON and CSV files for my main examples.  I had Facebook stuff about me, sucked from their API some time ago, now just a text fragment.  We played "Where's Waldo" against data structures.  Kinda fun.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Worldly Affairs

Using Antiprism

The Synergetics 101 playlist is complete at least for now. I've turned my thinking towards Synergetics for Dummies or whatever.  In the meantime, I'm content to watch imitators pick up the dropped baton and carry forward and/or jump on the bandwagon.

I spent some time this morning, in response to an email, researching InnerSource, which is now mostly what OSCON is about.

Portland, an Open Source capital, whatever that means, no longer gets to have OSCON.

Moving what used to be the Perl conference to Austin sends a new message.  Portland is no longer in the loop as much. I wasn't able to offer any suggestions.

My MOOC is going well. I finished the first week, however the way Coursera works my report on the "AI bicycle network" has to be evaluated by peers.

I've been talking to someone just recently in Shanghai and comparing notes regarding how cities now may provide bicycle transportation to people who don't want the headache of actually owning such a device.

Portland's system is not quite the same as Shanghai's, in terms of scale obviously, but also in many other ways.

What's going on in the background these days in the mainstream media is some cabal with a lot of friends in high places is going ballistic about stuff.  Literally.

So-called North Korea is angering to various species of control freak, as it might be a threat of some kind someday.

A high ranking Pentagon employee just decided to use that establishment's biggest non-nuke bomb on an enemy. They say that sent some kind of message to the defiant NK. I'm sure that will inspire more patriotism among Kim Jong Un fans.

Then of course many people watched the cruise missile show on CNN etc., with viewers invited to gather around the HDTVs in sports bars, and maybe cheer on social media. Many complied I'm sure, though some maybe more out of a sense of obedience.  North Koreans understand I'm sure.

Quakers don't usually find outward war either sexy or attractive, so in my Portland-based circles we probably weren't as glued to our screens as some.

We don't ignore worldly affairs though as the brand of Quakerism I practice is not about grooming Friends to become hermits, much as the Internet of Things is making such lifestyles more attractive.

I don't know who at West Point is in charge of teaching about literary movements and philosophy, American history. You can't really fight for a nation you haven't studied or don't understand.  I'm pretty sure they read Wittgenstein at least.

InnerSource means using a lot of the same technologies used by public developers, including version control, Agile, collaborative teams.  How open source gained so much market share in the first place is the subject of Revolution OS, dated by now, but still worth a look.

One may own a bicycle privately, and still choose to use a public bicycle routinely.  Software works the same way.  Many people who work on public projects and contribute their time liberally to such endeavors, are also hired guns inside of private organizations, where their work is appreciated by a smaller audience.

Antiprism Hexapent

Friday, April 07, 2017

Data Science

Yesterday was bright and sunny, and I got out on my bicycle, first time this year. Today is dark and stormy, with 50 mph gusts, quite melodramatic.

I got data science on my plate, more specifically pandas, not the animals, but the spreadsheet on steroids built from NumPy, available in the Python ecosystem.

Last Monday (at the start of this week), I was reading in from roller_coasters.csv, from within a Jupyter Notebook.  I'll get a screen shot.

Note that multi-dimensional panels, with more axes than dataframes, are multi-dimensional in a somewhat different sense than in regular polytopes.  Sometimes just adding a metric (distance formula) is all you need to bridge a polyhedron to a database.

I've signed up for a MOOC as well, in order to squeeze more value from the Raspberry Pi in the basement.  I've got a sponsor for that one.

My taxes went in weeks ago, however I have some loose ends to take care of.  I need to get printer ink for the Epson (also a scanner).

Thursday, April 06, 2017

More Ethnography ("Quakers")

Replying to a blogger on QuakerQuaker (Q2):

The model we've developed is one of Peace & Social Concerns giving a platform to activists to compare notes, somewhat in your Ulster warring groups model. These would be the warlords of various activist factions, perhaps drawn to Quakerism for its "judo" (right stuff), an opportunity to hone skills.

In our meeting that committee currently includes a Palestinian-Gazan rights activist, an anti weapons-in-space pro (my mom), David Chandler (Nine Eleven) and so on. The Racial Justice discussion group and listserv runs as a subcommittee (ad hoc), much as our ad hoc Gender group has been under Worship and Ministry (W&M).

Yet each P&SC member does battle alone, with other networks (mom with WILPF), as a "token Quaker" one might say (we're too small in number to be anything but token in most worlds).

The upshot: the Business Meeting as a whole is rarely tasked with worldly affairs "stance" minutes. W&M is more focused on "who comes through the door" PR, i.e. the quality of Meeting for Worship and do we welcome Goths or whatever ethnicity.

In practice, what Business Meeting gets tasked with is more around creating a safe space, which in recent years has meant a lot of focus on gender, given Portland is a gender-bender capital. Not every meeting is dealing with the same themes at the same time.  This meeting has been through other chapters.

What we call the Seifert Doctrine (named for one of our elders), is "Peace & Social Concerns shall not serve as 'the conscience of the meeting'" which is another way of saying its activists need to bring their own gravitas to the table, as there's no implicit endorsement of their actions by some Religious Society.

We do have "explicit endorsement" which may be sought. In our jargon a "released Friend" has a prized privileged exemption from committee duties and chores, freeing up time to share ministry, perhaps with a traveling minute of introduction -- a Clearness and ongoing Support committee would be expected in the background. Membership on Peace & Social Concerns does not confer such exalted status, but does serve the same support committee functions (activists consulting with activists).

In sum, we're a safe harbor for many who'd like a place of worship, a meeting, they don't feel defensive in, or about. For many, a Quaker meeting is that sanctuary, but without enforcement on the meeting's part of any strict conformity in how one chooses to participate in secular affairs, though we'd normally expect non-violence, truth telling, and plain speech from a Friend. One of our number, Lew Frederick, is a state senator. He hasn't time for committee memberships.

As another frequenter of Quaker meetings, I'm likewise free, without explicit endorsement, to go out there and do my Trucker Exchange Program or whatever, while others fight for refugees, wage war on false news, or plan realistically for climate change and eco-cleanup. Joe, not on Peace and Social Concerns, works a lot with Guatemalans (he and his wife go there and help out).

We don't have a Program Committee these days, but it's a relatively easy thing to book the meeting room for workshops and study sessions.  We had one of those on Iran the other day, Diane showing slides from her recent trip.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Experiments in Social Engineering

Peter Bechtol

Usually I entitle Wanderers meetups with a "star date" like in Star Trek, YYYY-MM-DD format, however this was closer to an ISEPP presentation in terms of polish. Peter Bechtold has done a lot of homework, and we enjoyed the presence of first-timers, another hallmark of a capital-e Event.

Peter's topic was both a quest and a conclusion. His quest is for a better explanation of the "coastalization" of US politics, with Blue states hugging left and right coastlines with mostly Red in the middle. This polarization mirrors the loss of a political middle.  How does one continue applying the old structures amidst such a sea-change in the political climate?

His conclusion is in part prescriptive:  the Canadian system is more democratic, in letting more people vote their conscience, with a peer group, versus voting against the lesser of two evils. The average USer is now facing the double-headed hydra of a schizophrenic out-of-control Uncle Sam. Is government governable?

The US system, as designed, heaps power on the two party system and leverages any challenge pretty much to the sidelines as a matter of course.  The winner take all bipolar infrastructure makes it well-nigh impossible for the double-headed hydra to die, or even share power.  Alienation is the outcome, and low voter turnout.

We learned a lot about other experiments in social engineering. Lebanon treats specific ethnic groups as axiomatic and assigns specific government roles to these orders, mostly bounded in religious terms, with several flavors of Christian and Muslim.  When we get to Israel, that's when government dissects into more flavors of Jewish than may express elsewhere.  Prime Ministers need to contrive allegiances and alliances.

Peter worked in the State Department for many years, having emigrated from Germany and earned his several degrees (two from Princeton). He studied how Sudan first adapted voting rights to its needs, first in deciding how independent of Egypt to become. He currently teaches in the Department of Politics at Portland State.

During the Q&A, I argued that the more politically literate needn't begrudge the "one person one vote" principle (children excepted), even though some budget relatively little time to stay informed. The act of voting is but one of endless ways to participate in a democracy. Transmute that literacy into political effectiveness in other ways.  I'd say Peter does that.  His willingness to present at Wanderers is proof enough. I also brought up the latest Palast movie.

That being said, some systems do hand out more than one vote to some people. Lets remember too, that USers vote in more elections than for USG-defined offices.  Corporations, universities, other entities, have their governing bodies, any of which may implement some type of voting mechanism. For example I vote for Python Software Foundation board members, by means of electronic ballot.

Also, as came up in discussion, many people have dual citizenship and as such are entitled to vote in more than one election.  Also, not all nations naturalize their native born, meaning children may inherit nationality from the parents and not from the surrounding state.  The US extends citizenship to babies born within its borders, more an exception than the rule.

Alpha Geek

Friday, March 31, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Glossy Magazines

Glossy Mag

I did a Mt. Tabor walk this morning, as Spring was in the air. I'm thinking back to our Wanderers Equinox celebration, which I didn't blog about. A lot of my favorite characters were there.

This time I stopped in at Common Grounds for coffee and magazines.  Dwell is for the one percent, jealous to have homes in magazines, where they might be depicted drinking coffee and reading Dwell.

TIME is still trying hard to be the voice of sobriety, these many wars later, the truly "presidential" American voice, in contrast to new waves (generations) of media that more openly advertise spin doctoring. 

Of course we see TIME as propaganda, but that's not a bad word, just old fashioned Latin.

A second after explaining what truth really is, these journalists get all know-it-all about True Korea and what "we" should do with "our" nuclear weapons or whatever.

Leave it to the Voice of Discorporate Authority (the man behind the curtain, some emperor with no cloths) to give us a good read about what's so in the world.

We can trust TIME to sound worldly, also pop and hip, not unlike the BBC in so many dimensions, with lots of advertising. Not the tea leaves I look at usually, but sometimes I'll wedge it in.

Oh yeah, what really hit me as ironic was all the hype for trailer park living, for those at the other end of the spectrum from Dwell readers, in some socio-economic sense. These are the "undersavers" we're told (no spin there, right?).

Never mind that architecture ("exterior design") has again failed us again, that we're falling back on solutions from the 1950s for the boomer retirees. How imaginative, right?  Your American Dream come true, Mr. and Mrs. Rinkydink.

And to think, some were thinking the Year 2000 would be like The Jetsons with jet packs and all the rest of it. At least we get to talk with our search engines and other so-called "smart" devices.  The Dwell people get to talk to Amazon.

The article on Camille Paglia and her free speech position, wanting universities to butt out of speech policing, was interesting. I can see why that'd spread.

I think generations sometimes talk past one another, like when a father continues to talk to a little girl long after a woman has taken her place.

The new kids on the block grew up watching Breaking Bad (a soap opera) and aren't about to let geezer-boomers tell them "how it really is" because what do they know really?  Just go back and read the older issues.  How well did they serve us then?  I suppose your answer might have something to do with whether you read Dwell or not.

Recycling a Vision

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Unicode Anyone?

My opening gambit on Forum 206, about the place of Unicode in any public curriculum worthy of Americans, went pretty much unanswered. Bottle-necking to so few media companies means a backlog of unresolved issues, some of which might be disruptive and hard to manage.

Likewise my invitation to elaborate on fractions, in terms of shards, or splinters, volumetric shapes, seemed to just dead end.  Welcome to zombie-ville right?  Corporate persons Я us.  I suppose these conversations are just happening in other venues, where people have relevant responsibilities. No one said we had to choose Forum 206.  I agree, totally.

The shards I'm going on about with non-members of the inner circle: Mite, Syte, Kite.  Aristotle would know what I'm talking about.

In order to appreciate Western history, one needs to follow the history of computation, certainly back to India and China, but not neglecting the stopover in Persia, where the House of Wisdom ( بيت الحكمة‎‎; ) applied some spit and polish (an idiom).

"Algorithms" taught in Portland every day trace right back through Liber Abaci, by Fibonacci of Pisa, to al-Khwārizmī who lived in 9th Century Persia (Roman calendar). As we train up a next generation to get along (to be "presidential"), our public school curriculum is making sure we remember these threads.  Europe grew into its Renaissance thanks to open source computation.

Thanks to Unicode, I'm able to quote sources in the original next to whatever translations. Did I want Persian or some Cyrillic stuff in the same blog post?  Google has provided the Blogger service, meaning Unicode at our fingertips.  Just ASCII wouldn't do the job and the various workarounds were incompatible.

Yes, Unicode has some issues and I understand if there's some impatience with this iteration of an obviously needed encoding. I haven't made it my role to play a strident advocate of engineeringly imperfect artifacts, but nor must I become their scornful detractor. On the contrary, we make do with what we have, somewhat by definition. Complaining we're but backwardly human is not likely to change anything overnight, even if prayer is powerful.

I'm glad one of my colleagues mentioned SVG again recently. I've been presenting a model of how one matures as a coder, starting with lots of games, which we call namespaces. Then comes the risk taking of undertaking projects, however small. One of my students today got a lightning bolt spinning in MIT Scratch, and felt rewarded, as I did, seeing him learn.  Scalable Vector Graphics belong in the mix with HTML + CSS + JavaScript.  Sheri was showing me some SVG at the PDX Code Guild site, another reminder.

Lindsey Walker, long-time sojourner, came to Portland with strong SVG skills already. She was one of those girl geeks with a surplus of bandwidth for geeky projects, and managed to work her way into a high technology company, where she was recognized by management. I spent many hours in VRML myself, always attracted to Renaissance perspective renderings of 3D to 2D (you likely know this namespace, if reading this far).

You may be wondering where the Youtubes might be, showing A & B modules being 3D printed, assembled into MITEs, Bites, Rites, Lites (the three Sytes).  I'm wondering too, but then remember, welcome to zombie-ville, right?  Corporate persons Я us.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


The morphing of #PizzaGate into #WeinerGate, or visa versa, depending on the observer's coordinate system, was seen as an ongoing #RussiaGate from a more IC-based viewpoint, i.e. the ODNI fingered RT (formerly Russia Today) for being the Kremlin's Al Jazeera and perhaps fanning the Breitbart flames (the late Andrew Breitbart helped Weiner's weiner go viral).

Bannon, formerly with Cambridge Analytica, may have had this endgame in mind, with the White House citing GCHQ as a possible source of intercepts, used to oust Flynn as revenge for Comet Pizza and Podesta stories (traced to Wikileaks in some cases).

We're used to that anti-pattern, of believing British Intelligence and then paying a price. First came the infamous "sixteen words" about Saddam Hussein, used by Colin Powell types in business plotting. By the time we learned the truth, it was too late, Congress had caved (a lot of 'em were in on it).

The phony justifications for the attack on Saddam's palaces were enough to ignite CNN's countdown to "shock and awe" programming. Those should have been tourist attractions by now, like Mad King Ludwig's (of Bavaria -- see Royal Babylon by Karl Shaw, on my Kindle).

The CIA has hated getting flogged for that disaster, but is reluctant to admit it knew ahead of time that Nine Eleven was coming (cite Susan Lindauer and others), as that just feeds the conspiracy theorists. Tenet sat behind Powell, symbolically bolstering the war planning, however stovepiped by neocons.

Pointing to those who quit the agency in disgust (Lindsey Moran) maybe doesn't help either as Manifest Destiny must never be questioned (see below). A convergence of interests helped bruised egos find one another in the aftermath of Trump's victory, and sing kumbaya together, at least briefly.

However, in casting the GCHQ as idly boastful, claiming to have superpowers equal to the NSA's, the White House is deflecting criticism from Russian operatives onto MI6. The damning dossier, to which many hopes are still pinned, has been all but disavowed by its leaker-compiler, and now the intercept story is falling apart, as another case of the White House misplacing its trust.

Who wins from wandering through this wilderness of mirrors?

We're gaining in financial literacy at least (Rachael Maddow is a good teacher, able to sustain a note of outrage), in finding the oligarchies all invest in one another. Popping open a Pabst probably adds to the bottom line of some fertilizer king somewhere, only three degrees of separation from Darth Vlad, and maybe fewer.

Trump towers around the world play host to many businesses and yes, Russia has lots of cash to spread around, gas and oil money, though not as much as the UK maybe, given British Petroleum and British Aerospace are integral within NATO's Pentagon and therefore flush, as that's what Uncle Sam's paying customers mostly sponsor: world policing by Team America, the hired gun, the campus heavy.

NATO wants to keep it up with the weapons testing in several theaters, having acquired a strong taste for blood as well as oil, including in Europe itself thanks to president Bill Clinton's angry bombings in the Balkans, of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade etc., the CIA at its peak?

As long as the White House obeys NATO and the Iron Mountain's edicts more generally, creating jobs jobs jobs for the million dollar camo people, the CIA is unlikely to get much more direct revenge, as it eats from that same trough, another piggish beneficiary of Manifest Destiny exceptionalism (what keeps Washington DC in the money).

Guantanamo Bay (the base, not the torture chambers) is still safe from the Cubans, still in service for R&R (so much closer than Okinawa!). NATO is all about its many bases, some of them titularly still "US" (never mind Uncle Sam has no money, there's cheap credit available).

A truce of sorts may have been attained therefore, with the IC going back to business as usual, hoping the White House was never serious about a lot of that stuff, about how the CIA uses Nazi tactics or whatever. CBS was really offended by that, as George Tenet told Scott Pelley directly they didn't use torture.

Hurt feelings still run deep, as Brennan and Panetta made clear, invoking their privilege to speak for the anonymous dead in the Wall of Stars. The new president has a severe case of ODD ("oppositional defiance disorder") that much is clear.

However pathological presidents are nothing new (cite Richard Nixon); goes with the territory.  Once the psychological profile is more fully grasped, they're easier to manage. Pharmacological prescriptions are not out of the ordinary (cite JFK).

As long as the American people remain dupable (very doable) it's business as usual perhaps. Lets see how the Dems respond. Oligarchs from John Kerry to John McCain bear watching closely.

My guess is the drum beat for impeachment, for better integrating Russia into the plutocracy (a form of treason?), will likely stay back burner as long as Scotland keeps accepting those Trident submarine bases and NATO keeps Russia from joining the EU (a lost cause with the UK gone?).

Of course both Russia and the EU would change in character were Russia to think more seriously about joining, but that's the point: more customs-free borders, with substance control handled in other ways.  We don't want to inspect every Tom, Dick or Harry who happens to drive a long-haul truck, given RFID and all that.

Joining the EU would not preclude Russia's continuing with other alliances, including with Iran and Asian players, also BRIC or whatever.  What's the downside?  We shall see.  NATO probably has some objections, and the UK is still part of NATO (including Scotland).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In Service

I lucked out finding parking at the school today. I'm a circuit rider, and sometimes traffic is unpredictable, at least by me.  I'll need to make an earlier start next week.  As it was, I got there by 2:30 PM on the dot, calling Darwin to assure him I'd hit my mark.

I'm impressed by all these boys getting along. They're developing culture around MIT Scratch. My own little offering is admittedly silly.  I like how the captions are so lame, in terms of timing, whereas this is a computer program, so should be perfect.

Getting a Quaker to concede to safe firearm training as a public school elective might've seemed quite the arm twisting feat. Safe driving courses: same category.  I didn't make the meeting in Salem. I'd go down there weekly when I consulted for Associated Oregon Industries however those days are long over. I make do with Facebook.

Is that K-16 public school? I know a lot of people agitating for that. Lots of boarding options. We'd have outdoor opportunities, but city folk don't always cotton to the ways of country folk, so orientation is essential, as for Peace Corps. Social engineers needed, and that includes politicians as a subspecies.

What do second graders know? I'm not the expert. I'd probably be more effective thinking through with teachers how they'd like to innovate. We had these discussions in Kensington (Greater London) in 2006, care of Shuttleworth Foundation but with the RSA in view, not the USA.  How would Learning to Code mix with math learning. In the USA they had an answer right away, without needing to think about it.

Their plan here is to teach a lot of topics several times in several ways, as we do now. Consider plotting points in the XY plane, then adding the Z axis. That's taught without vectors, the first time, then again with, though without mentioning vector graphics versus bitmap.  Now we'll probably want yet another pass, with Computer Science providing the objects (vectors are objects).  Is that an optimized approach?  Who knows and who cares.

I've agitated for the rights of math teachers to think outside of their box and get paid to do so. They want better jobs, less hectic, more creative, more respected.  Having responsibility for innovation would add all that, or could, but for now math teachers are told to stay in their box and let computer science nail them into their coffins.  Math teachers tend to not suffer from Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and are getting boxed in.

With Computer Science come ray tracers and the ability to sculpt in computed light. Geometry beacons, with its hard science of set ratios.  There's grist for rationality as well as irrationality in that 3D printable domain.  The NCLB Polyhedron is there: the RT.  Whether we hearken back to NCLB or not, at least there's Phi (I say "fie", some say "fee").

Speaking of Phi, I'm not sure where Princeton Philosophy stands on whether I'm right in my claim that our Medal of Freedom winner grandnephew of Margaret Fuller should get in more air time in K-16.  I'm seeing where all the kids research famous people for their poster presentations, such as Helen Keller and John Glenn.

I'm aware that philosophy in general has rendered its decision, with Peter Sloterdjik providing enough of a context in the Bubbles, Globes and Foams trilogy to keep some of this heritage rolling forward, even if not in the US. Lets not confuse the US with North America the territory however. Silicon Forest remains a pioneer. Not everyone has to play the role of blood clot in this scenario.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nuts and Bolts

I figure I'm "working for the government" simply in doing my civic duty and investigating my own country. The FBI might as well pay me to study up on the heroin epidemic, shades of Mena in where the drugs might be coming from i.e. from aircraft involved in drug wars.

However that's not my main focus.

Contextualizing my analysis in light of the "Amy cartoon" (she does the storytelling), I have to think of how news networks sop up advertising dollars from the major drug companies, the ones lucky enough to own FDA-approved inventory, meaning insurance will reward the privileged who happen to have whatever conditions they get prescribed for. The DEA will not interfere.

The painkiller industry stoked a major epidemic in North America, especially with the advertising around Oxy. Yes, deflecting blame onto Percocet and Vicodin is often done, but it's about more than if you're an opiate, it's about what media campaigns you succeed at.  The Oxy team had some pro spin doctors.

The FBI went after the "bad apple" physicians but has no mandate to pursue systemic change, as that would be the business of Congress, the rule-making body. How might the FDA admit wrong-doing in allowing Oxy's claims to be especially non-addictive, to go unchallenged?  There's no way, right?  Law enforcement has little leverage with what's by definition legal.

The medical community as a whole got wise to the truth about Oxy, but the damage was done. Cutting off the supply means pushing former patients into desperation. Heroin is the next thing.

We learned about Oxy with Rush Limbaugh, a high profile user. Billboards have gone up everywhere. The issue came up in the presidential campaign. Yet now here we are, debating health care, and we're not really saying if addiction to medication will receive any concerted government attention. Public health and the government's health care bill exist on different planes of discussion.

On Facebook I started up a group of citizens united behind the idea that our heroin epidemic is an emergency and FEMA should step in.

Those "camps" might sound last resort, but hitting bottom on heroin can get that way. These will be a way out.

Also, it's an emergency if your name was purged from the voter roles by intentionally sloppy SQL, so FEMA should have a phone number for inquiries about that too.

Science fiction I realize, that FEMA would take either emergency seriously, but I thought a 3rd party (neither Dems nor Pubs) might use this as a plank in its platform, with the slogan "FEMA loves you". Yes, eerie.

However what's also eerie is how, now that we're down to something like six major media companies, there's no room to focus on the real sufferings of real voters (or would be voters). Air time is what you pay for, you being the advertising sponsor, not the viewer consumer.  You need to push a lot of painkillers to those in pain. Our stories will help you do that.

The supposedly logical response is to deprive local farmers of their privilege to grow their own opium poppies. Demand-side health programs, compassionate treatment, is actually addressing the issue (addiction), whereas supply-side shut-off and interdiction is the better way to get cut in, as another dealer.  The moralizers, who would criminalize and not treat, end up fueling the whole game.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

WQM Mens Group 2017

I've been a stalwart of this Men's Group for many years now, although I was not present at its inception.

When I moved back to Portland and sought friendship, twas the regional Gathering of Western Young Friends to which I felt attracted. Such beautiful people (Pan, Kate...). I still think so.

However by now, in my late fifties, versus late twenties, I've shifted gears, and it's with these old farts and geezers, half of us dead, that I hang out with at Big Bear Camp, once a year.

This weekend, for me, was a lot about being a tourist in my home state of Oregon. As a person born in Chicago, with memories mostly starting here, but away overseas from 3rd grade until well after college (overseas includes New Jersey, Cairo, Rome, Manila and more, not necessarily in that order), I'm not nearly as familiar with the territory as some of these other Quaker men.

Their knowledge of history, geography, ethno-botany, far exceeds mine. Wesley's lunch, a detailed introduction to local foods, from olive oil to salmon to hazelnut and stinging nettle pesto, was a total eye opener.

Much of the time, I had my head in a book, a peek into the Castaneda family by the widow.  She's no slouch as a writer and as "something else" (between outright lie and factual truth) I'd circle "encryption" (in itself a full spectrum). A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda, by Margaret Runyan Castaneda (Millenia Press, Victoria BC, 1997).

One wishes to tell a story, but not lay it all bare, as it's not a confession or admission of anything.  Do we always assume the anonymous reader is entitled to unearned access?  From innocence, one may play with the truth in order to share a deeper truth.  Is that true?  People do encrypt, as well as obfuscate and confabulate.

I'd set a goal ahead of time to out myself more explicitly this time, rogue that I am, as practicing Subgenius and Pastafarian, as well as Quaker.

In closing worship, I expressed gratitude for being a spaghetti strand (scenario) in partially overlapping scenario Universe (spaghetti ball).  "Ra-men" quipped one of the elders.

Somewhere around Munroe, Joe and I, not driving, reconnected to the grid. Within minutes, I was babbling in the back seat regarding the issues some were having on Forum 206 with Gulen schools, charter schools run by a Sufi sect, even more controversial in Turkey.

Joe started  telling us everything we needed to know about zirconium.

Our driver was amazed at how Cyberia makes easy the asking of all questions, like some Delphic oracle. Just ask Her.

One of my other readings this weekend was The Gift: Poems by Hafiz The Great Sufi Master, translations by Daniel Ladinsky (Penguin Compass, 1999).

We're not all as old as I'm making out, with some definitely younger, and others bordering on ageless. Check our outreach listserv for more insights into our subculture.  Maybe you'd like to join us some year? Watch for the flyer.

March 12 or close thereto is when we meet, the week before St. Patrick's Day, at the very beginning of Spring in these parts (snow fell in the area as recently as a week ago).

As always, we devoted considerable time to reminiscing, and thinking of men who couldn't make it this year. We also focused our attention on people undergoing procedures. Marty in particular was on our minds. He'd just blogged what it was like undergoing brain surgery.

Our group includes both war veterans and conscientious objectors, and descendants thereof. We talked and thought about war a lot, and how best to forestall outward, in favor of inward, struggles.  What good news might we share? These are perennial Quaker queries.

I yakked about my "Truckistan Project" a form of science fiction I'm nurturing to move in the direction of reality. Some call this process "investment banking" I pointed out.  Truckers of the world exchange routes, for academic credit (the program is about more than hauling loads).

Wes went to seminary school in Boston, was a Quaker pastor, lived in Hawaii for many years. He seems the quintessential indigenous Oregonian to me. He knew the mussels were plentiful thanks to the starfish die off, but maybe the latter were coming back?  As it is, we enjoyed the mussels he'd hand picked, his allotted portion.

His folks were of the Gurneyite persuasion, whereas many of us North Pacific Yearly Meeting types would brand ourselves refugees from that branch. The Bean family escaped Iowa Yearly Meeting to found College Park Association in California.  Our Willamette Quakers grew from Beanite roots in many ways.

Another topic of discussion were some of the controversies engaging the attention of other branches of Friends. Northwest Yearly Meeting is different from ours. That doesn't mean we don't track or care about their internal debates.

I'm not the expert though.  In gatherings such as this I'm more taking mental notes as the observing ethnographer.  Many elders have a stronger grasp of specific narratives. I chime in with jigsaw puzzle pieces, hoping to find out where they go.

I had the little yurt to myself. Having soaked my socks through, I decided to dry them on the wood stove, a stupid mistake, as they charred and set off the smoke alarm. I confessed to camp management that some "sock juice" remained on the burner. Hal assured me he could burn it off.

Hal really enjoyed getting my multi-national life story this time and by the end was telling Tonia we were a CIA family. I appreciate where he was coming from on that, however as good Quakers, we never aspired to proselytize for the USG in that way.  Dad was freelance, a planner, mom an activist. My parents did get to meet the Applewhites that time.

I don't think I left anything behind this year.

Once back in Portland, I was eager to lookup Glenn and have a beer, our WQM Men's Group being alcohol free by tradition. He'd scored more Good Will finds (where he scours for books).

A proto-Phoenician civilization connected South America to Crete.  You had to know the wind currents.  Many did (relatively few, but enough to crew whatever ships).

I could picture Bucky Fuller reading this stuff in the 1960s, when it first came out, and weaving it into Critical Path, his unique mytho-poetic (encrypted?) version of world history (in some sections).

Bucky was as much an exile as Castaneda in some ways, a pariah, somewhat given a bad name by psychedelic culture. I write more about that elsewhere.

:: video by Joe Snyder ::

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Wading Around

Some dike in the nether-sphere burst someplace, and now we're all knee deep in something, not sure what it is.

Yeah that was some interview with former CIA chief Leon Panetta on CBS, saying maybe Trump was crazy for thinking the CIA was against him and maybe he should step down?

Or maybe "crazy while in office" is OK. Worked with Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria to a certain extent.  I see some parallels, who wouldn't?

Would Panetta be acting interim president while the CIA decided who to really run? I'll probably hear all about that on Alex Jones.

However I'm leery of this sea of tabloid, of polluted press.  Do I want to swill around in it?  Last night in an extended Wanderers session, we talked for almost an hour about cow manure, what it's like to fall in it head first.  Was that an omen of something?

I understand the confusion. Who really said anything about a wiretap? OK, the NYT did, but never that Obama authorized it.
The White House forwarded The New York Times several articles about investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia that include the word “wiretapping.” None contend, as Mr. Trump did, that Mr. Obama personally ordered the surveillance of Trump Tower phones.
 Trump: "Oh, so it was unauthorized by any president?" Pause. CIA: "We think you're crazy."

No one said anything about a wiretap for sure right? Like anyone high up enough in CIA with enough clearances could call the Russian ambassador and ask directly if Flynn said anything interesting.  Who said anything about "intercepting"? Heck, I'll call Putin himself if I feel like it (I don't think he'd take my call though as I'm a nobody).
OK, maybe that word was used ("intercept").  Former congressman Kucinich was warning about the high Banana Republic quotient, when you get intelligence chiefs and the president duking it out on Oprah.

However it wasn't like that exactly.  Panetta got to have his say, ratcheting it up from where Michael Morell had taken it earlier, on the same network.

More likely Flynn himself remembered more details, when under the bright lights. Then what he confessed got leaked?  For what crime again?  Lying to the Vice Principal?

Taking his job too seriously I think it was.  He was trying to reach for the munchies before the party had really started yet.

I'm not saying the CIA and FBI don't have reasons for going after the White House.  They've been public and aggressive about it, or at least some high profile talking heads have played a role.  Go seek and ye shall find.

As a simple corollary, the president would have every right to be paranoid, and in need of some assurances he could trust his own bureaucracy.  No way, according to Panetta.  This feud is not resolving any time soon.

Wanderers is a sort of Ouija board style of conversation, a co-creation of those present. Group dynamics may be studied in this way, ala David Bohm in his later work.  Dr. Nick Consoletti, speaking of peripatetics, did his thesis in that area.

Monday, March 06, 2017

STEM for Philosophers

Friday, March 03, 2017

Thermodynamically Speaking

Alternative Paradigms

We got a deeply insider look at recent history last night, though fair warning by "recent" I mean towards the start of the Industrial Age in Europe. Steam power was coming on-line, changing everything, and reasoning about steam, a precursor to reasoning about electricity, was something on many a gifted mind, Sadi Carnot being one of them.

Here's what most people don't know: that Carnot's dad, Lazare, was a thermodynamicist as well, and a damn good one. I think of Kenneth Iverson and his son Eric, computer language architects, as a similar duo. Sadi, who only lived into his mid-30s, perishing we're not sure how, was in many ways advancing his father's work.

Our tour guide for the evening is by day a practicing professor of the history of science in beautiful France and boasts a brilliantly multi-national resume.  He is founder and first former head of the Research Centre for the Theory and History of Science, University of West Bohemia, in Pizen, Czech Republic.

He's been a collaborator with the late Dr. Gillespie at Princeton. Raffaele Pisano was eager that we know of their work together, and I understand why. I'm planning to bone up on Gillespie's corpus in hopes of bolstering my own grasp of science history. I attended Princeton myself. We were definitely reading Thomas Kuhn.  I worked under Dr. Rorty's supervision on the philosophy thesis on Wittgenstein, a product of my time.

Dr. Pisano is Italian by birth and heritage, lectures in French, and has enough command of English to hold forth in Portland and not lose me in that sense (I'm fine with European English).  What I learned from the talk will take awhile to put together though. I'm still working on these puzzles.  It'd be hard to say I've gotten to the bottom of anything, but I do like digging down.

We learned that the Carnot lineage really has a different look and feel from the Newtonian one, which was more ancient Greek in its callback to Axioms (Newton's Laws had that sheen).  Carnot was more into Hypotheses and deliberately eschewed much special mathematical notation in his actual treatise.

We were seeing slides of actual papers, hand-written, stuff the various archives still have on file.  Raffaele knows his way around these hard-to-access places and we sincerely respect him for that (Terry was especially effusive, knowing what it takes).

Carnot's logic made heavy use of the double negative, and much of Dr. Pisano's talk was aimed at categorizing types of logic such that Carnot's might be recognized as a brilliant specimen of one such type. This is where some in the audience probably felt out of their depth.

Given our Buddhist Ghetto in Southeast and familiarity with Nagarjuna for example, we're somewhat aware that the law of the excluded middle, and a lot of other such rule systems, may be specific to a namespace, form of life, and/or subculture.

We don't count on everyone agreeing on just "the one" system at this point in our history. Portland is cosmopolitan among its digerati and literati. ISEPP talks bring our Silicon Forest intelligentsia together, and I assure you, we're out there.  Terry has provided years of entertainment unlike anything even on Youtube.

These post Renaissance thinkers, still heavily into Archimedes and Aristotle, were newly discovering instrumentation for measuring specific physical phenomena.  How does mass differ from weight?  Deep discussion.  What is pressure?  Density?  Thermodynamics is/was especially slippery. How to relate measurements to concepts in language did not materialize overnight.

What we today call the Carnot Cycle and present with clever diagrams, volume versus pressure, was not how he was thinking about it originally. He was picturing an actual cylinder, anticipating our V8 internal combustion engines of down the road (the cycling model is a little different but at least we knew how to think about combustion cycles by then -- thanks to Carnot).  Carnot was not talking about Entropy, that concept came later.

The Carnot Cycle involves steam pushing a piston to squeeze a gas, in ways that may preserve temperature but change pressure, or vice versa.  You go around in a square phase space, alternately isothermal and adiabatic, ratcheting a machine through some work cycle, while contributing to pollution with a more highly entropic off-gas (less work-ready).

Given the solar fusion reaction we've found in the Sun (closer to Einstein, long after Newton), and picturing Motherboard Earth as a solar powered Carnot Cycle, we see how photosynthesis produces the base material for what we call "the biosphere" around our planet (per Lynn Margulis). 

How photosynthesis got started has been a topic of other ISEPP lectures, with some postulating geothermal vents underwater as providing all the necessary ingredients for mathematical operations (copying and self-propagation).  Replicating photosynthesis using some deliberately designed nano-process has been another ONAMI type goal, not sure we're there yet.

I've been probing the physics teaching community on whether any generalizations might be offered at the whole planet level, regarding Entropy.  We typically introduce Gravity with whole planets the main topic.

If Entropy has whole planet application, where in the curriculum would it be a good time to mention that?  However, thermodynamics somewhat suffered the same fate as evolutionary genetics: it got side-tracked into popular phony theories with limited staying power (Social Darwinism, Eugenics).

Textbook publishers are not eager to wade in to hot waters, lest they get it all wrong.  Economics is the sandbox in which to try out some of those memes.  The more slowly adapting wait to see what happens there.

In other words, thermodynamics is still something of a mine field when it comes to ideology / theology. You'll get a Teilhard de Chardin thing going, and then where's the math at that point?  Omega alone does not constitute much of a namespace.

We're back to game theory and cybernetics, which I'm not saying is terrible, just I don't wonder that we're slow to work our way through this part of physics.  We get confused.

Dr. Pisano was at ease throughout the evening I thought, and our group is happy to take in these kinds of esoteric diversions, think and talk about them later.

I'm sorry I missed the good doctor's appearance at Linus Pauling House on Hawthorne.  I was expecting to be there but was waylaid by urgent business and then thought coming late would be rude.

I was glad at least to hear the talk.  Much to ponder. I fell asleep later (thanks to Dr. DiNucci for the ride home) listening to Youtubes on autoplay, explaining the Carnot Cycle over and over.

The dinner was great and Terry even let us take some, not to waste any.  I just took one meal's worth, as if I'd had seconds at the time (allowed).

The chocolate dessert was uber-dense (I didn't take a second one of those).  I ate all mine, but then I'm only doing Soylent as my regular intake, so these deviations don't wreak havoc. I'm also allowed to drink wine in moderation. Our caterer had a fine one.

I don't have any wine bottle collection, not one of my hobbies.

I keep an empty Bhutan Mist (whiskey, made by troops) for conversation.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (movie review)

Greg Palast strikes again with an in-depth look at what happens when high powered database tools, such as SQL (Structured Query Language), fall into the hands of politicians.

As an SQL user myself and someone with experience with joining tables, I feel a bit like an architect or engineer after my discipline gets accused of not knowing how to build high rises.  Of course we know that outer joins on first name, last name, skipping middle name or including it, are not going to mean anything regarding double voting across state lines.

Apparently a bunch of Mickey Mouse astroturf organizations have been pandering to the spoiled gliterati with a kind of pseudo data science snake oil, as an answer to their prayers.  The sucker rich have willingly coughed up millions, at fundraisers and so on, to underwrite a dream-come-true gold plated voter suppression scam called CrossCheck.

The overall design is nothing new but requires serious computer power to do its work. The scam also depends on willing minions in charge of voter laws, and a spineless Supreme Court (which we've enjoyed for quite some time, witness Citizens United), working in cahoots with pretend data scientists to break the (former) law of the land.

Because the fronts look so corporate, no one suspects organized crime, except the very few paying close attention.  Corporate media look the other way as their job is to manufacture consent according to sponsor preferences.

If you're watching closely, the sleight of hand is not even that clever and mostly depends on journalists not behaving like Greg Palast, calling out the Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, and Paul Singer, whom he dubs "the vulture" (clearly a leading villain in this film).

Rumors about "double voting" on a massive scale get pushed out through social media, getting voters to pass strict photo ID laws tailor made for racial profiling and discrimination.

Require DMV ID (Department of Motor Vehicles) and then close the DMVs in red-lined neighborhoods. These tricks are not new.

Unfortunately, these uber-rich people schemes came at a time when the USA was already fragile. This time the Tea Party plus Trump Train wrecking ball combo may have succeeded in shredding the final veil.

We're living in some "USSA" now, new territory and one in which Washington DC enjoys a precarious claim to legitimacy, what with the vultures closing in from every side.

Uncle Sam is broke, and all sold out to the highest bidder.  The Pentagon now brokers mercenaries for hire. But is that new?  "War is a racket" said Smedley (read on).

I'm not saying the USA couldn't reboot itself somehow -- at Project VOTE! we tried to include the disenfranchised (I worked for Americans for Civic Participation the year Jesse Jackson ran for president), after the ERA had gone down to defeat (as est grads, a sort of cult, we'd been warned in our Graduate Review that the ERA's failure in the 1980s was the beginning of the end).

We'd need to finally face the truth about national elections: that we've never yet had a free and fair one (those without women, or black people won't count), but still might like to someday, per some MLK inspired dream future.

We might like to live in a democracy one day.

Politicians have been unable to deliver one for quite awhile now, however.

We still enjoy the museums.

Palast has more punch than Michael Moore in some ways, but we need not view one as working at the expense of the other.  They bring a complementary (stereoscopic) view of what some call class warfare.  Add Yes Men for higher satire.

Palast is more a technologist in digging in to the flim-flam shenanigans, the abuse of modern day Hollerith machines.

Like Moore, he's looking at the heartland, and America's heart, which the billionaires have finally broken.

As a logistics guy for Occupy, I remember all the signs about Smedley "Fighting Quaker" Butler, a folk hero of the Hooverville generation.  WWI vets were being screwed out of their pensions and president Hoover sent in MacArthur to break them up.  Butler thought MacArthur was an incredible jerk.

FDR and Eleanor stood up for the working stiffs after that, and corporate America, calling it socialism, hatched a Business Plot to do him in, which Smedley then exposed.

Congress was uncomfortable about it, as indeed buying congresspeople is not hard to do.  The Business Plot was real enough, but this wasn't the age of television, and people forgot about the possibility of a coup -- until the JFK assassination some years later.

Said Business Plot may have been frustrated temporarily, but as we read in Critical Path, the long, slow cannibalization of the USA by lawyer-capitalism continued in earnest post WW2.

The military-industrial meme-plex took over and slowly but surely sucked the remaining life from the USA, leaving this pale shadowy USSA, the soulless monster the Beltway Bandits built.

Now their puppet-zombie stumbles around on the world stage, bombing inanely and polluting self destructively, the proverbial chicken with no head.  No one believes this creature has much in common with anything the Founding Fathers had a hand in.  There's simply no disbelief left to suspend.

Where we go from here is unclear.

We've seen the USSR break up without horrendous turmoil.  The nation-state system itself appears to have dissolved throughout the Middle East.  The demise of the USA leaves a power vacuum for sure.

Is that a bad thing? Perhaps humanity is entering a new phase of its history.  Time will tell.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Remembering Magnus

Magnus Wenninger was 91 when I first met him, still doing stairs plenty, very spry.  He gladly gave David Koski and I the tour of his beloved campus, sharing about his life and world.  He was a priest, or monk as he sometimes called himself, always humble.

DK got to go back to that campus for the recent memorial service, following the rituals of his Catholic sect. David went with Tom Ruen, who had worked on the Wikipedia entry for Magnus, having been a fan for many years.

Father Wenninger made paper polyhedrons, designed other geometric objects (such as sculptures) and is often cited in the literature for has basic "how to" publications.

David called me earlier today to share how impressed he was by the service, by the caliber of the campus and the teachers who work there.

A bunch of us have been celebrating Magnus on Facebook, which has niches for geometry buffs for sure.  David and I are both in the "tetravolumes" camp, meaning we've been influenced by a specific branch of 1900s thought.

Tracing ethnicity through the spread of memes, more than through the spread of genes, is fairly commonplace in anthropology.  Getting the "meme" meme anchored in the first place, as a placeholder in cybernetics (super to memetics) didn't happen overnight.

David and I will say "IVM" and "super RT" (for a Rhombic Triacontahedron of a specific relative size) in ordinary conversation, much as when doctors engage in shoptalk relating to some pathology and/or anatomy.  Magnus was an initiate in such a partially overlapping namespace.

I'll continue to learn about Magnus Wenninger as his life gets reflected in the lives of others, and back to me, as we continue moving forward in time.

Much more becomes known in retrospect, whereas "right now" is always the eternal mystery.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pop-up Pyramid

Popup Pyramid

There's still some ambiguity, one could say by design, in what Pyramid means, even just as a shape, never mind as an artifact.

The artifact provides the default meaning: square base, for five facets in all (base + four sides).

However in mathematics texts we learn of the n-sided pyramid, meaning a triangular base as a lower limit, and no upper limit on how many uniform sides, to approach a perfect circle, a cone.

We have a special name for the hexahedron of all equal angles and edge lengths: the cube.  We might say "simplex" for tetrahedron if we want to sound savvy, but that still might not mean regular.  "Regular tetrahedron" takes a long time to say and write.

One of our andra- / peda- gogical devices is the book with triangular covers, open flat, with a single triangular page flapping back and forth, a stiff flap, its tip arcing through 180 degrees (or pi radians) to define complementary tetrahedra.

David Koski and I put some of the math in the cloud as open source, in the liberal tradition of academic sharing. The only unusual aspect of this exhibit is the option to measure in regular tetrahedron units, when tabulating volumes.  Also, Quadrays get used in the unit tests.

Today I was working with an elementary school math teacher / tutor on the Pythagorean Theorem and its ramifications, which dovetailed nicely with my work with the @property decorator in Python.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Three Bucky Tapes

Note: the low viewer numbers bolster my debate club argument that the US has no public schools anymore (or we'd see more evidence of serious homework).

The Business Plot (cite Smedley Butler) succeeded awhile back. We'll see how that goes.

If we get a working USA OS someday, maybe we could start some genuine public schools as a pilot.

How about more boarding schools, more overseas travel opportunities, and more same sex options, which is traditional in schooling.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Darwin's Birthday

White House

My Facebook study circle was about Racism again, where it came from, where it's going. That BBC documentary sure was powerful. The timing was perfect, seeing how Darwin's speculative science soon became an "ism" as in Darwinism, and in the rear view mirror we see Social Darwinism as a fork, disowned by current science. Or call it Eugenics for old times sake.

I got Lew Scholl involved in the conversation. Some of my comments:
I'd say we have a history of using physiological cues to guess about a person's ethnicity a lot, and ethnicity is in turn influenced by what the physiological cues are. The genetic (hardware) stuff is becoming less and less reliable as a guide to what ethnicity (software) is "running" a person (habits of thought and ethnicity go together). If I see a white skinned person I think "might believe in / think about races" but I can't be sure. Once I learn they're from the US, then almost certainly they think in terms of races quite a bit.

In the US they're always shoving check boxes in your face and asking you to check which one identifies your race. When I see those check boxes, I know I'm home in my racist homeland.

Same pretty much no matter what your skin color: if you grew up watching US TV and reading US media, you're programmed a certain way, with race a big part of that. What I think of as "US bots" are stereotypically racist, as in always inquiring as to what race she might be, and is that a mixed race child and so on, all core to their homeland soap operas.  
I've been talking with a Process Institute guy about my Global U exchange truck driver program. We don't have to worry about the visa situation yet as we're still working in tandem with Hyperloop planners / testers to understand what the traffic flows might be.  I'm not a transportation engineer but did work with a master, albeit briefly, Jim Hauer. We both used Visual FoxPro to cut our teeth.

I trouble-shot a Windows 10 not working with HP 5510 all-in-one today, for a neighbor. Speaking of which, the little white bungalow house next to ours, slated for demolition, has won a reprieve and today was repainted (street facing side). The for sale sign is up already, people visiting. We're in a real estate bubble in my area code (97214).

The US went out on a limb putting so much stock in anti-communism, when history shows ideologies have a relatively short half life. With Russia re-grounding as Eastern Orthodox, a lot of calories have gone out of the NATO thing. With Trump's feinting to cut it off (the Treasury just passes through borrowings at this point, servicing customers, so Uncle Sam is hardly in a position to be profligate), we learned more about the fracture lines in this somewhat fragile alliance.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Trucking Again


The good folks on QuakerQuaker (Q2) are maybe wondering if I imagine funding my partners' truck fleets from that Quaker Sharia bank headquartered in Istanbul. My answer: why not? We have Halal-compliant banking in Whittier, a Quaker town (historically: the poet John Greenleaf Whittier was a Quaker). This idea that a car might be financed in only one way is gringo-jingoistic. You might get a steep discount for buying it in bitcoin, in some schemes.

The "truck fleets" are Global U fleets, even if sporting the logos of private companies. From a curriculum design viewpoint, you're giving resume and transcript credits where due, to all your work-study students, all several billion of them.

Motion Studies

Not any one database does all the work, I grant you that, and many schools are not even trying.  But my sense is if you get from Istanbul to Kabul by truck, as one of the drivers (apprentice at first), with stops along the way to immerse yourself in various cultures and languages, you're likely deserving of a Bachelors at least, possibly a PhD. We just need to design the programs, as the trucking is already there ("work with the grain" is our mantra).

By working backwards from an open borders civilian economy, with lots of interstate-style freeways, lots of truck stops, we hope to show the way forward to an enticing-enough future to keep so many Americans out of the mercenary militias and dependent on Iron Mountain for their daily bread. The US is a chief exporter of economic refugees in the form of "million dollar men".

More capitalists, fewer economic refugees, with recognized CO status (thanks to membership in Quaker and/or Sufi sects) is not a prerequisite for having a more prosperous global economy, but might catalyze its happening faster. The Iron Mountain is dragging us down and holding us back, with the basic Bucky stuff only taught in the highest ranks, if at all.

To espouse principled objections to use of outward violence, let alone nuke weapons, is hardly a mark of a kook. Quakers have held this position for almost four hundred years. On the contrary, those cults who insist on acting out as a matter of right and/or entitlement, seem among the least stable, mentally. Their grasp on power appears problematic at best.

That Quaker Sharia bank in Istanbul was science fiction last I checked, but then science fiction differs from speculation and investment banking in degree, not in kind. That's if your science fiction is able to except a boost of science without breaking. In Martian Math, we talk about the S-to-F ratio (Science / Fiction).

Trucking Families

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Class Notes

Relative Volumes with Beans

Art students come to school eager to draw, paint and sculpt nudes, with rented subjects, friends, or each other, so my class is a relatively boring affair by many accounts, with all its skeletal outlines of duals and what-not. But lets remember it's not either / or and we wouldn't have flesh without bones to hang it on.

The bones of which I'm speaking are the metaphysical rods of the IVM and XYZ, two space-filling scaffoldings we'd like to relate smoothly. To that end, we isolate the quintessential cube of Cartesian science and cast it next to the IVM's home base tetrahedron, the edge-lengths of which likewise define the octahedron voids in this matrix.

I'll abbreviate making that bridge as I've done extended presentations on just that topic in other venues, and go straight to the dual of said home base tetrahedron. I color code the two intersecting tetrahedrons black and orange, which goes with Princeton, tigers, Halloween, OSU and no doubt many other worthy themes.

Stella Octangula

One needs to start somewhere with the coloring, or not. I've gone with green for cube, red for octahedron, and blue for rhombic dodecahedron, of volumes 3, 4 and 6 respectively. Yellow for the cuboctahedron (20). Then in my accompanying text and symbolic formulae, I'm able to use matching coloration for the font.

The aforementioned four-fold crystalline shapes then need to work in some other prime numbers, most notably more 5, which we accomplish visually with a Jitterbug Transformation (JT). The cuboctahedral and icosahedral number sequences are the same, thanks to the ball-count-preserving JT, possible with any hollow layer.

The minimalist JT provides a back-bone transformation for the canonical suite, out to the two-frequency Cube of volume 24. Once "frequency" is established we're ready for the space-time realm, a place of energy vectors (inertial flows). Pre-frequency is more Platonic.

Art students don't need the whole of Physics, with its energy conservation, spelled out there and then. More of that comes in film school, wherein a "lights, camera, action frame" pd (in Planck units, a momentum for a distance) goes by in a time (pd/t = E = energy buckets), at a frame rate (E/t = power).

Get them to electric light and paint pigments, RGB, CYMK, and you're well on your way to that art degree. Maxwell's Equations might be in some optional reading section?

In making these notes, I'm not saying we shouldn't do Physics when introducing the concentric hierarchy. Probably the classic set of opening moves is through icosahedral symmetry to the micro-architecture of the viral capsomeres, then on to buckyballs, nanotubes and graphene (diamond, graphite...).

The sequence 1, 12, 42, 92... gets in early, with the thought that "shape" reflects the prime number composition of the first term (2PN**2 + 2), whereas the second term (+2) suggests polar pairing, axial spin. The first term diverges as a 2nd power, showing surface growth, which integrates (accumulates) as a 3rd power volume count  (1, 13, 55, 147...).

They're all expected to know XYZ, sometimes known as Fermatian coordinates as well. Next to those, the Chakovian coordinate system (Wikipedia: Quadray coordinates) makes a brief appearance, so obscure, so esoteric, so underground.

Artists, including comic book artists, lap this stuff up, so they might sometimes impress their math major friends with something somewhat surprising. Artists like to jump into the limelight and perform feats. Many architects are likewise into show business.

New Fountain Downtown

Thursday, February 02, 2017


Servo Mechanisms

Per my recent post to the edu-sig archive, part of the mailman empire, I'm enjoying the company of Holden Web this week, a UK based company, the principal of which is part of Python's "deep government" (not that it has one, more in a Monty Python sense). Actually Steve isn't self branding as Holden Web these days, but was when we met. On his resume at least.

Back in the day, Steve helped get Pycon off the ground, now trademarked and a global currency. The Python Software Foundation had the benefit of his input, and chairmanship, for some years. These days he's emeritus, and still a huge fan of the language.

Apropos of Steve's "weightiness" as Quakers might say, he'll be the guest on my closed circuit Python TV show this evening, produced out of California with studios in Portland. He's got a hardware device to show off, a Python API to variable speed propellers. With some luck, we'll get a camera on his apparatus for the group tonight.

Earlier this week (yesterday), I took an OLPC XO to a fifth grade classroom and gave students an opportunity to try connecting it to the school's Wifi. The GUI is way graphical, and dubbed Sugar, coded in Python atop Linux is my understanding.

I was not directly involved with Sugar Labs, however I do continue the Turtle Graphics tradition, as shown in one of my blog-embedded Codester applications (fingers crossed those servers stay in business). I received both XOs from Juliet and Jerome and featured them prominently in my Photostream.  Here's a link to one of my favorites (I still give money to this organization).

Steve and I led a Python for Teachers workshop in Chicago one year. I came at my subject from a background in philosophy, not straight computer science, and put a somewhat different spin on things as you might learn from the Youtubes.

My other guest hail from St. Louis and have hosted me during two year-apart trips to the Missouri, Illinois, Indiana heartland. I sometimes share pictures of their two greyhound dogs on Facebook. I'll leave it as a "crossword puzzle" to obtain identities, if not already in the know.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Safe Zones

We'd all like safe zones in which to study and reflect. Getting interrupted all the time by someone else's agenda is the opposite of freedom.  Humans are designed to serve though, so if your heart is in it, dealing with myriad interruptions may be one's chosen path, God's work as it were, in which case you're to expect more joy.

My mode of study of late, when not working or sleeping, is to scour Youtube and watch mostly longer format talks and lectures. People develop habits around reading, playing games, watching movies, habits that may reshape with time, sometimes simply as a function of what's available.

Growing up poor (not really), without the Internet (not invented yet), I didn't have the luxury of sifting through millions of talking heads expressing views on many subjects, nor of contributing to this growing database of video clips. Later in life, I'd fantasize more concretely about such a system, and still later these dreams would come true.

Nowadays I chronicle the Youtubes I'm watching on my Facebook timeline, with my own comments, inviting more. For example, an issue of our day in some media is the question of whether Russia has grown influential enough to tip the US presidential election, the outcome of which surprised a lot of analysts.

I'm fine with the ODNI report mentioning RT in a few places, echoing what the intelligence community itself watches for signs of the times (for money even, as a part of one's job description). I recall Defense Secretary Rumsfeld pointing to Al Jazeera as a concern. The movie Control Room came out soon after, somewhat inspiring my own blog by that name.

I watch RT as well. Sure Peter Lavelle seems to spearhead one way of thinking (his guests often agree with one another), while Thom Hartmann spearheads another.  Ron Paul jumps on for interviews. Jesse Ventura has his own show.  Recalling Jon Stewart's criticisms of CNN, I'd say Time-Warner has been eclipsed in a lot of ways, in not having as much interesting programming.  Most [Russian] hackers would never use AOL.

That Generation Y is able to start from here, watching peers (roughly same age) contribute videos, has contributed to an exultant mood. Not only is it highly possible to find like-minded, but it's even somehow possible to make a living as a Youtube producer, or at least that's the new dream. A lot of this trashing of the "legacy media" is not based in deep ideology so much as in how more participatory the new media seem. Anyone can become a #PizzaGate scholar.

I have my own relatively small stash of Youtubes, but don't have the high production value animations I lust after (yet). Disney might have the resources, but does it have the interest now that Epcot no longer means Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and Spaceship Earth is not milked for its true meme-plex potential either? Walt was more the visionary than his successors.

I've turned to RT as well then, tweeting how we need to see a JT on RT.  Of course that's super obscure as practically no one in 2017 knows what "Jitterbug Transformation" means. Even though the International Mathematical Union has woven it into their banter, nowhere in the long slog of K-16 is the JT likely to come up.  Sure, it helps conceptually unify the concentric hierarchy but no one knows what that is either.  Ignorance of STEM is rather high in the media.

Naturally I'm not suggesting the JT appear exclusively on RT, it's already too late for that. It's just that from a hearts and minds perspective, if you don't traffic in positive futurism, then your ideology has a short half life.  RT seems more likely to share some substantive Synergetics, whereas numberphiles in the UK have been ignoring the opportunity -- why the BBC sometimes seems like "legacy media" to me as well.