Thursday, September 21, 2017

Life During VUCA Time

:: greg | CERM Academy ::

VUCA, an abbreviation for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, is meant to characterize the times we live in.  We can't just go by established patterns.  Alvin Toffler anticipated a somewhat shocking future, and this is it.

Greg and Vic, with their daughter Margaux, packed the Pauling House for what was a first for this audience: a talk on life during VUCA times with perspectives from the Hutchins family.

Greg talked about the challenge to continually reinvent himself given accelerated change in engineering.

Vic is in the midst of changing careers in mid life, turning herself, along with Margaux, into a computer programmer.

Margaux, age 18, has researched the return on investment for college and doesn't see how it pays off. A lot of people she knows find only low income jobs yet are already saddled with debt.

She has been homeschooling and volunteering on numerous projects, gaining life experience by leaps and bounds.  She and her mom just got back from Burning Man, a first time for both of them.

The premise of the talk, well established using slides, was that the challenges faced by each family member were highly representative of mega-trends in the workplace.  Their predicaments are our predicaments.

We're moving to a gig economy.  Artificial Intelligence is promising to automate many jobs that humans are currently paid to perform.  The nation (USA) is swimming in debt, yet only mega-spending on infrastructure is likely to keep it alive politically.

Greg has written and led workshops on Risk Based Thinking [tm] for quite some time, and through his CERM Academy counsels businesses on ways to manage risk in times of upheaval.

Learning to connect the dots and think outside the box may sound cliche, but only because such skills remain vitally important.

How we respond and adapt organizationally is at least as important as how we respond as individuals.

The talk was perfect for Wanderers and sparked conversation and debate.  Some of us are already retired whereas others are just starting their careers.  We come from many walks of life.  I didn't recognize quite a few.

Steve Crouch brought donuts.  Chips and salsa, along with soft drinks, were also served.  Deke recorded the whole presentation on his iPhone.  The projector misbehaved at first, so Vic and Margaux dashed home to get another one, but then it ended up getting the job done.

Deke (Derek)
:: derek @ LPH ::

Monday, September 18, 2017

It (movie review)

It took me a few weeks to realize this movie It at The Bagdad, my neighborhood movie theater, was the same movie as this box office record-setter I'd been reading about, featuring some scary clown.

For context, I was joking about Trump fitting the "scary clown" archetype before going, and then after coming back from the movie I dove into the Steve Bannon interviews, with Charlie Rose. 

So Trump is a student of Jung's I found out.  So the scary clown knows what he's doing?  Scary.

The film is a kind of Goonies meets Stand By Me meets Carrie, and some other horror films you may have heard of. 

The directing is confidant, way more than competent, and is self aware of its genre, which filmmakers in this area generally need to be.  It's a world of symbols and motifs, of nightmares and minor keys.

As we learned from Vienna Circle, a good way of tackling taboo subjects and sending messages along to the tormented, is to employ the code language of Gothic horror. 

What children most fear, including their own fantasies of vengefully murdering others, get explicit treatment amidst manifestations of disgust and outrage over mistreatment.

In childhood, the local bullies may be of primary concern.  Intelligence learns to zoom out and appreciate the bigger picture.  A 27-year-long time cycle haunts this town.  The evil is at the archetypal level, less than in the individual incarnations.

The stereotype personalities in the making band together as blended hero, to fight their collective projection of pure Evil, whom they eventually find, and corner.  They fight for each other.

The hellmouth they find is worthy of another Buffy and crew.  I respect the cinematographic effects.

There's always a library, full of those musty books, telling texts that at least hint at the sulfuric sepulchral creatures that haunt the netherworld. 

Childhood means taking up the perennial battles against our own deepest fears. 

Horror flicks like this one help us focus and deal with whatever traumas.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Eye Glasses

Glenn and I moved some plants out of the expected rains, an October harvest, prior to which I shop vac-ed a bit, spewing fine what powder out the rear while barely getting enough pressure to lift a few rat turds.

I also swept a bunch in the basement, wherein the dust is harder to see but nevertheless a suspect.  New hot water heater going in, the last one lasting from a manufacture date in 1992, and installed before we moved in to what these days we call the Blue House.

I'm blaming the fine dust for the more milky vision, but according to WebMD and other sources, I'm overdue for another eye exam.  I rolled over on my main frames the other night, falling asleep to quantum mechanics (Bell's Theorem experiments again), and woke up to another logistical challenge.

Of course it doesn't help that the city's air is full of particulate matter, the detritus of incinerated forest out the Gorge. I-84 has been closed for some time.  The fire is less than half contained.

Lloyd Center Lenscrafters didn't carry spare parts, only sparkling new frames, but I was directed to a place I'd seen driving by on numerous car trips, may have even patronized in chapters past:  a frames fixer on SE Powell and Foster.

The guy was quick with the frames.  All they needed was new bows.  This milky vision symptom came later and seems fleeting hence the shop vac dust theory.  However I'm reminded by the Internet that I've got the problems of an almost sixty year old male.

I switched my healthcare plan awhile back and haven't visited my primary provider since the switch. However we're talking eye doctor here, not family care.

I'll be relying on pretty good vision in the coming weeks given all the driving and coding I have scheduled.  Vacation time is coming to an end.

No I don't have a bizmo yet (beyond the body itself), although my friend Tim Hitchcock does. He brought it to Sam Lanahan's gala gathering on Friday.  More about that gathering in another post.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Grampa Carl
:: grampa carl ::

Jack Urner
:: Jack Urner (my dad) ::

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Vacation Time

Half Octahedron

I was grateful for some downtime after the 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM gig, including commute, with some even longer hours ahead.  I'm just staying at home ("home me o stays is") and marveling at the strange colors.  Oregon's forests are burning, British Columbia's too.  The moon, almost full, is blood orange (deeper red than just copper). The atmosphere is full of ash.

Hurricane Harvey has already struck as of this writing, lots of collateral damage.  Irma is still swirling in the Atlantic, its future uncertain. Computer models see about two weeks ahead max. That's less a deficiency in computing than a feature of everyday math.  Climate modeling and weather modeling are two different things.  The former need not be detailed about day-to-day weather phenomena whereas in weather modeling, that's the whole point.

The downtime has not been idle time. I have more freedom to dwell on my own projects, which these days includes drilling into Jupyter Notebooks more, and sharing them on Github.  I'm recycling some of my homework from the 1990s wherein I dove into cryptography some.

The whole RSA thing (public key crypto) was fascinating. These days we hear more about the blockchain, with crypto-currencies bopping up and down like publicly traded stocks, investments in some Global Data Corporation (GCD) of the science fiction future (but with value today).

RSA is in every web browser so is for sure not off limits to journalism, given Mozilla is free open source, plus the patents have expired.

When you use your Visa card number via HTTPS (little lock next to URL), you're in TLS mode, meaning your browser and some distant server have shaken hands (shorthand for "opened an encrypted channel") that makes it difficult for 3rd parties to crack in, stealing info.  People are meant to have secrets in current economic models, if prosperity is a goal.

What I'm attempting is an on-ramp into Python the computer language, where I explain a little Group and Number Theory along the way, somewhat mirroring an established academic approach you will find in some progressive high schools and colleges.

RSA is completely open, as an algorithm.  What makes it cryptographically secure are current facts about the state of the art, in mathematics and computing power.

Bitcoin and blockchain technology leverage similar facts.

A bitcoin miner, a dedicated computer, has the job of brute forcing through a math problem that should take about ten minutes.

The miner that gets there first broadcasts to all the others, and in the case of a tie, there's a way of breaking it.

The miner's version of the blockchain thereby "wins the day" (actually just the block) and the block detailing what just happened (a set of transactions) around the world, in the last twenty or thirty minutes or so, is accepted by all the others as "the truth" and on we go, block by block.

Lots of blockchains are up an running, many of them experimental given this is all recent technology.

Glenn and Joanne Baker came through for dinner with Carol and I at Bread & Ink.  They were on vacation too, exploring Ashland (pun intended) after catching the eclipse.  I was at work during the eclipse, but allowed to go outside to get the 99.4% experience (not totality).

They were able to see Crater Lake, but on some days I gather the smog has been filling the crater, hiding the lake from the rim.

Oregon is burning, as I said at the top.

We had heavy rainfall all winter and a lush spring, then the water shut off (no rain) and lush vegetation turned to tinder.  The flick of a cigarette will set off a major forest fire.  Some jerk was doing fireworks near Eagle Creak.  There's no telling how careless some will be.

Glenn Stockton (different Glenn) has been assiduously working on the back patio and backyard, on those C6XTY sculptures. I've had an art teacher visit.  I should encourage Julian to swing by.

Most of these sculptures are on their way to a photo shoot, and some won't come back.

I'm reminded of Bonnie Tinker's Love Makes a Family float, a tall-tiny house on a wagon, that used to sit out there too.

Our Quaker Meeting was supportive of liberal values, with member Dawn Wicca providing safe haven for said float (I believe I'd become a non-member by then, without changing in my love of beer).

Vacation time is a chance to run errands and catch up on stuff.

I rolled over on my glasses (talk about careless) and wonder if Lenscrafters at Lloyd Center will be up for fixing them.

Carol (88, hard of hearing) needs to replace a charge card she canceled, then thought she'd lost, then found again.  Lloyd and OnPoint are not far apart.

Glenn Baker and Kirby Urner

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Being Bad

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rush Hour

I do my best to avoid being part of the problem, withdrawing my car from congestion, taking more time at the watering holes. I don't always succeed.  Yesterday I was hoping to make a 6 PM meetup back in my neighborhood.

So I snapped on the car radio, like many commuting North Americans, and tuned into NPR for some stories about how the CIA is still looking for a mission in Afghanistan, and to succeed will need some level of military engagement.  Pakistan is likewise in the cross-hairs.  Oh, and Egypt.  Syria is pretty much out of the news, as is Gaza.

All this traces back to the 911 debacle, around which so many questions still swirl, and used as a major excuse to mislead.  Iraq had made huge concessions in hopes of avoiding an invasion, but the PR people knew they'd need a scapegoat if anything really bad happened. Invading Iraq would move from back burner to front, because Afghanistan didn't have anything like Saddam's palaces. Libya got the same treatment, even after concessions.  Europe got the refugees.

We also heard about The Wall again.  A nation of immigrants can't bring itself to really self-govern. Reaching for too much territory too quickly, was that it?  Psychologically, the Civil and Spanish-American wars are still driving so much of the "policy" albeit unconsciously.

I did manage to meet up with Derek (Deke the Geek, big on Twitter) and Trevor (one of the top Bucky Fuller archivists, world class), at the intersection of Hawthorne and SE 37th, in front of Starbucks, totally unplanned, but missed meeting with the folks I'd actually scheduled to meet with, on their way to Burning Man this weekend.

Today I'm staying out of the melee, having some happy hour beers and salad while I wait for rush hour commuters to get home.  I won't be listening to any news programs.  Bankrupt policies are of fading interest.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Matrix

Spherical Cube with Six Pairs of Connectors

Given C6XTY, Sam Lanahan's invention, consists of six identical base units, fitting flush, edge to edge, tongue in groove, to build a soccer ball, I'm realizing a spherical cube, a hexahedron is part of its core nature.

This intrinsic "qyoobosity" relates to the mutually orthogonal placement of three phi-rectangles X, Y, Z within the icosahedron, which served as the compression unit in previous iterations of Flextegrity.

With C6XTY, this icosahedron is replaced with a soccer ball, or hexapent, with which it has many properties in common.

The connector pieces, in this case ABS plastic or polypropylene, grab the spherical cube by its six faces, locking into them with form-fitting hexagons and special screws.  The base locks, each keeping three faces together, appear at the eight corners of our spherical cube.

A C6XTY "soccer ball" fully embedded in the matrix, is at the center of an XYZ economy and IVM economy at the same time.

By "IVM economy" I mean the ball centers are at the centers of a CCP (cubic close packing) or FCC (face centered cubic) lattice.  IVM = isotropic vector matrix, what R. Buckminster Fuller named this well-known lattice.

Yet the tension arms run in a mutually perpendicular fashion throughout, not between centers as in Bell's "kite" designs, but in the space in between.

Half Octahedron


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Another Haystack Needle

[ originally posted to math-teach @ Math Forum ]

True enough I'm the token "Fuller disciple" here on math-teach.

Given recent history, it's not surprising to find one of his "cult members" here. I use scare quotes cuz Fuller did his level best to avoid "cult leader" status, though he attracted his share of devotees, collaborators, co-conspirators (Marshall McLuhan, Arnold Toynbee, Hugh Kenner...).

I'm not apologetic for keeping his "concentric hierarchy" alive though, his Kepleresque embedding of polyhedrons one inside the other (Russian Dolls), with the tetrahedron his volumetric unit. A & B modules. T & E, S modules. Cubocta:Icosa :: S:E. Lots of low-hanging fruit in this area, as David Koski will attest.

Sharing such content in K-14 is not that off the wall given how super-accessible it is, visually as well as mathematically. I'm used to other teachers sounding defensive, giving lip service to how math is a big tent... but maybe not that big. I'm also a speaker at art schools and maker spaces (more 3D printing ahead).

If Fuller's writing were incomprehensible, I doubt Nature would have singled out Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth as one of the more influential tomes of the 1970s.[1]

His writing is difficult, but so is Heidegger's. My background as a philosophy reader (Wittgenstein etc.) leads me to plow into esoterica such as Synergetics. Applewhite liked how I brought Wittgenstein's "meaning through use" dogma into juxtaposition with Fuller's alt-meanings. The Synergetics vocab was deliberately remote (see Synergetics 250.30).

When I share the whole number volumes table with kids, I'm quick to remind them they won't find any of this in the textbooks. That tends to add to their curiosity.

Remember, the Jitterbug Transformation is alluded to in the logo of the IMU (International Mathematical Union), and the old NCTM logo was an octet-truss. The memes are still out there, albeit in a somewhat X-Files blend.[2]


[1] 26 November, 2015 pg.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Didactic Cartoons

For further reading:
Lesson Plan (alternative models of multiplying to get area) -- Math Forum, August 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Data Stores

Wanna do CRUD against a Google sheet using Python? Sounds dirty? Create, Retrieve, Update and Delete are the core actions one takes against a recording medium, with the devil, as always, in the details. Do we use SQL (Structured Query Language)? Maybe so.

In the above video, however, we're putting a resource in the cloud, a tabular data set, and letting a single user consult it, or mess it up, using Python. When a dataset is read-only, or, as we often say, immutable, the chances for panic attack are a lot less. But what if disparate users write and read at the same time? Are transactions atomic? That's where we talk about ACID, in addition to CRUD.

Precisely because spreadsheets are such a useful tool, and easily comprehended, there's a temptation to go overboard and overuse them. The key skill, then, is to recognize when a spreadsheet might be sufficient, and when it's potentially a dangerous shortcut, a decision that might come back to haunt one down the road.

Python has long participated in the office automation environment within Windows.

The win32all extension gave Python the power to talk to the Microsoft Office suite and even to define COM objects, later renamed to ActiveX.

Indeed, the wish to have ActiveX objects collaborate yet have different source code language origins, was a primary motivator of .NET (dot net), as was the wish to give C# (C sharp) a playing field it could dominate happily.

Monday, August 14, 2017

China Town

SE Facility

As one of my summer campers put it today:  we could call this China Town but that was in Old Town, so maybe Asia Town is better?

Portland, the city, did a number of things to push much of China Town out of Old Town, including adding some sculptures with negative Feng Shui.  I'm sure the higher rents didn't help.

In any case, the growing edge of Portland's Asian community is outward from SE 82nd, a state highway under the control of ODOT, as Friend and Wanderer Lew Scholl has oft reminded me.

I'm working in an Asian mall on SE 87th, as a part of the Learning to Code movement.  Coding with Kids is a lot like Kumon, in terms of supplementing where parents perceive the school system may be weak.

Mall Signs

As a matter of fact though, Portland Public Schools have a lot of affinity for MIT Scratch and for all I know are also using and other such cloud-based sandboxes.

Daniel Shiffman (Coding Train) provides many exemplary Youtubes helping kids overcome the digital divide.  Although we don't teach P5.js or Processing at Coding with Kids, we're on the same train.

Like most teachers, I like to decorate my classroom and so brought along a few items from the Oregon Curriculum Network inventory.  The cube especially, the least stable, of the set, is looking the most battle-scarred (see below). These are volumes 1 (tetrahedron), 3 (cube), 4 (octahedron), 6 (rhombic dodecahedron) as anyone math-literate will likely recognize.

Some campers, when not huddled over their Chromebooks, take a break disassembling and reassembling some C6XTY

Today I stopped at K&M Auto Service on the way home to see if they'd have time to fix my driver's side power window on the Nissan.  They said they'll take a look later this week.  I also need my passenger side mirror replaced.

Concentric Hierarchy + Chromebook

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


The term "consciousness" is a crown jewel in many a diadem.  We should begin our investigation by acknowledging the widely diverging rule sets that apply.  In some language games, an awake, tracking human being is by definition "conscious", as opposed to asleep or maybe dead.  In other language games, the awake human is certainly "dreaming" (as in daydreaming) but the words "conscious" and "aware" are reserved for only some dream states.  People spend a lifetime hoping to attain "wakefulness" or "enlightenment" or one of those.

For example, the Russian mystics take the more reserved tack, with their default being what we might label "robotic consciousness", an oxymoron from many points of view.  The discourse comes across as a challenge, more as religions aim to encode.  However lets remember philosophy since Plato at least has posited "self awareness" in contrast to a life unexamined.  "Consciousness" is very commonly presented as a ladder, with "higher" and "lower" states.

When physicists wade in to this morass, minus a lot of anthropological training (in some cases), their tendency is to conflate all meanings of "consciousness" on the assumption that words mean by pointing (not the later Wittgenstein view), with "consciousness" an objective state we know from private individual experience, not from getting programmed in English or any robotic language in particular.  We know "consciousness" as "the world" in the Tractatus sense (that's a philosophical work, Vienna Circle).  We begin with Descartes, with his cogito (it thought, therefore it was).

My recommendation is we not attempt to converge to any singular meaning.  "Consciousness" has a different role in different games.  I'm partial to the Russian mystic usage because I enjoy the gradient religions set for us.  Mere daydreaming is not enough.  Night dreaming also contributes to a consciousness. I get that from reading other Vienna Circle writers, as well as from the dreams themselves.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Expanding Access

A lot of us measure freedom to access the Internet as a leading indicator, yet factors inhibiting such access differ a lot in character.

The sheer physical challenges in terms of location and equipment, are easier to reason about than Nanny State policies, which try to keep populations innocent (virgin) in some desired way.

Those of us who've grown up in the conference organizing business, which I did somewhat vicariously under the tutelage of Steve Holden and crew, understand the expectations of conference goers, which often includes unfettered Internet access.  That means convenient access to all the sites and sounds one might be used to from browsing at home.

In 2017, this expectation is often frustrated, both for physical reasons, and for metaphysical reasons. The Nanny States keep a list of problematic IP numbers based on nation of origin, and routinely surveil and/or block access from such addresses.  Lets remember the origins of the Internet in ARPA, later DARPA.

Remember also, though, the NIMBY syndrome ("not invented in my backyard"). Some subcultures may wish to reinvent the wheel rather than adopt the wheels of others.

How much one:

(a) needs to feel in control and
(b) needs others to perceive one as controlling

feeds the calculation.

Those operating within a contextualizing religion or wisdom tradition that allows surrendering control, even as a means to regaining it, may have an edge.

Master IPv6 and recreate it with your own features if you must.  But why throw out the whole transport protocol, which is working so well?

I think most of us take for granted that Cuba will see fit to adopt the same RFPs and other standards (http, ftp, smtp), that have provided a backbone for globalization thus far.

The true opposite of globalization, in the sense of organic counter-trend, is localization, not nationalism.  That nation-state system was already a game of the globalizers, known as the Great Game or later World Game.

By the time one gets to the level of nations, it's already too late, as the formal infrastructure of diplomatic relations is already in place.  True locales actually provide refuge from anonymous globalism.  Ordinary people (true characters, some of them) get to play.

What corresponds to the global versus local tension in everyday memetics? Branding and advertising.

In B2C we focus on locale, customization, meeting the customer where she or he lives.

In B2B, we tend to focus on longer-term stability, in which case a satisfying accommodation of the global ecosystem is what to look for in a company or organization.

The "standard model" is therefore one of Big Company back ends (server side) and Small Company front ends (neighborhood grocery store).

This doubling of identity is accomplished through branding and parentage.  The local store is quietly owned by some more global conglomerate.  Getting the mix just right is the job of your marketing alchemist.

In the case of Cuba we've had Proctor & Gamble versus Unilever.

The Ben & Jerry's factory on Cuba fantasy more belongs to the latter, of which it is a subsidiary, Vermont factory notwithstanding.

The EU has discovered it has the freedom to define trade relationships independently of either the US or the UK, which often stick together where BDS is concerned (state sanctions etc.).

The EU is free to amp up Cuban Wifi, for example, whereas Microsoft and any company based in Delaware, may feel obligated to consider itself within the US nanny state jurisdiction.  That's called giving the competition an edge.

We've seen more expressions of EU independence recently, when BDS against Russia, unilaterally imposed by the US Congress, nudged NATO towards looking more and more like its own brain children, Aleppo and Mosul.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Revisiting Lambda Calc

My video talks about "lambda calculus" in contrast to "delta calculus", the latter being more well-known as Calculus with a capital C, i.e. the calculus of Newton, Leibniz et al.

The Python language has what we call "little lambda" meaning one expression, for example:

>>> result = map(lambda x: x * x, range(30))
>>> result

>>> list(result)
[0, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, 100, 121, 144, 169, 196, 225, 256, 289, 324, 361, 400, 441, 484, 529, 576, 625, 676, 729, 784, 841]

Treating functions as "top level citizens" is more what lambda calc is all about.

Pass functions to other functions to return functions.

Do this in math class (or call it CS if you insist).

Monday, July 31, 2017

More Manicuring


The last remains of the old phone pole have been hauled away.  Today, starting 8 AM, the job is to completely remove a large street-side tree another house down.  The city approves, but I'm not sure if they're paying for it.  My impression is it interferes with the sewer line, so maybe so.

I think I've been fairly successful on math-teach, making my case that the K-12 math curriculum needs to adapt.  On the ground what that looks like is an infusion of CS (computer science) as a separate discipline, so that math texts might continue as they were.  The Learning to Code movement has been effective.

My campaign to make more room for tetra-volumes at least in sidebar, as a teaser, is a decades-long endeavor which has an unclear outcome, so the powers that be seem as yet unwilling to invest.  Too many unknowns?  We have to recognize the standard pattern:  early adopters, bandwagon, laggards (one may use other terms).  I focus on "international schools" (such as I attended) as where this history and literature is more likely to make inroads.

The nationalism versus globalism debate is less a debate than a continuation of East meets West.  People still think in terms of "western civilization" and historically speaking that's useful.  However, going forward, I don't think so.  I argued on QuakerQuaker about this, suggesting "western civilization" is an obsolete term in many contemporary contexts.

Giving the Russians such an important role in determining the political landscape of what used to be considered "US domestic politics", even writing it into law, is something of a breakthrough.  The superpowers are merging, in terms of synergizing oligarchies.  That's not what the nationalists have in mind, but precession was never about straight lining from A to B.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Disconnect


What are the chances?  A phone and electrical pole utility truck pulls up across the street and starts transferring what remains attached to pole A, the old one, to pole B, the new one.

We have some tree branches and stuff, touching the wires.  Couldn't the guy have just shaken it loose then?  My CenturyLink optical fiber connection stopped working.  My wire goes right to that space.

I went out and talked with the crew, but they said no, they'd not done anything to mess with my connection, call CenturyLink.  Which I did.  A technician should be coming in the morning.

That's good, as I have another class to teach on-line come evening.  But if it's not a ladder truck, just a van, a repair may be out of reach.  The CenturyLink trouble shooter on the phone didn't think it was the a pole problem either.

What are the chances?

I think it's a mistake, by the way, to make "cyberspace" be just the Internet.  The telecommunications revolution started with radio (before that telegraph), and then television.  I get my Prism TV through the Internet, even though I don't watch it, stick to broadcast.  I have a digital antenna.

The Internet wraps all that up, and then some, along with the telephone, also revolutionary. 

That's all cyberspace.  Segregating the Internet from voice, phone, radio and TV, saying cyberspace is only the former, not the latter, is really dull-witted.

Like I say on math-teach, it appears that English is broken, and those who think in it have a hard time having coherent thoughts.

I'm using my Verizon phone as a hotspot at the moment, which explains how I'm able to blog sans my expensive / fancy optical fiber connection.

Followup:  the CenturyLink tech confirmed my suspicion: they'd touched the wire.  Photons don't like sharp corners; there's a reason for those hoops.  Think of a garden hose with a cinch in it (a pinch); the water stops flowing.  He unpinched it, by climbing a ladder, and service was restored.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer Camp

Coding with Kids: Web Development

I've been busy with summer camp lately.  That conjures images of the great outdoors, hiking and pitching tents, campfires. Not in this case.  The kids and I were in a back room in a tiny strip mall, struggling for bandwidth, learning to use MIT Scratch.  In a next iteration, I took over for the Center Manager and had all three rooms to myself (counting the foyer) so we spread out.  I pressed both HDTVs into service.  This camp was about Web Development; we used as our workout service.  However I had an Arduino set up on the side, as a kind of "coming attraction".

Speaking of coming attractions, the new Planet of the Apes movie has opened at the Bagdad.  I've been following that franchise since the beginning, with Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowell. Here in 2017, the flavor has changed quite a bit, but I've continued to enjoy the science fiction.  I think of how Bucky Fuller claimed we were devolving into a Planet of the Apes thanks to overspecialization.

Throughout these weeks of summer camp, I've been holding up my end of the debate on math-teach. I'm also posting to QuakerQuaker (Q2) but I'm less confidant that archive will withstand the test of time, given the site owners have talked about dumping the existing framework for something else, losing all our writings in the process.

David Koski has branched out into spherical trig lately, looking at the 120 and 48 LCD triangles in Synergetics.  I've been endeavoring to follow from a distance.

Lastly, I'm keeping up with my one Coursera course, Interfacing with the Arduino, that I'm taking for credit.  I'm in the process of auditing a few others, mainly to bolster my HTML + CSS + JS skills.  I was unaware until yesterday, for example, that the CSS grid feature has become available, since earlier this year.  That's going to come in handy and feature in future versions of Web Development, either as a camp or after school.

Arduino Work Station

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Headline News

:: 2007 ::

Glenn was by this morning to report success on what seemed to some of us a long shot: getting Don's boat back in the water in time for this year's Blues Fest.  For those just joining us, Don's boat goes way back in these blogs.

Without going into too much detail, Don having his boat there is a tradition, but with so much use over the years, way more than average, this 1927 Chris-Craft was overdue for deep maintenance, as in rebuilding the hull.

They got it done.

Barry and Don have been on it for months, Barry having completed a first prototype of his enclosed two wheeler (motorcycle with full body fuselage with ways to stabilize at rest).  Glenn pitched in four twelve hour days in the final push.

I tweeted Chance, the lonesome cowboy we met north of Redmond.  We bought him some biscuits and gravy at a roadside place in the sun. @Artpotheosis.  Judy is taking care of estate matters.  The family has once more dispersed with respect to the physical plane (more a sphere by today's reckoning).

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Politicians Meet AI

A few of us independently minded were somewhat tongue in cheek on board with Singularity for President. My twitter feeds (@thekirbster, @4DsolutionsPDX) will show some evidence of my supporting that campaign.  More than a serious religion, this meme was a dig at the relevance of the usual suspects, pointing instead to a kind of black hole in Cyberia.

Uber and Lyft drivers are these days told to love their jobs while they can, as the big bad driverless car is just around the corner. Behind these autonomous vehicles lurk another set of memes, stitched together in a kind of marketing hype science fiction, whereby a form of "artificial intelligence" (AI) might threaten just about any job (as in "livelihood").

I'm not about to discount the power of our learning to co-habitate with our machines.  We needed some serious steam pressure to activate the industrial age, leading to dirty coal fired furnaces and soot everywhere. We gradually got it down to just greenhouse gases, saving the ozone layer (fingers crossed) but now we're starting to literally cook.

The hope is we might do a lot less polluting commuting and enjoy our electronics a lot more, thereby giving the planet a chance to cool.  We're proving we can sustain some pretty serious viewing habits, when it comes to staring at screens.  I'm not saying we've properly balanced that sedentary lifestyle with the outdoorsy more camp-like experience we'll need to stay competent outside of densely urban areas.  Simply walking over rough terrain takes talent.

However getting to these lifestyle places requires something other than the passing and enforcement of laws.  People think in terms of "making rules" when a more useful shoptalk would involve "playing games" (which have rules).  Game playing is where social media come in, and with the design and evolution of social media, comes what we might call "social engineers" except that sounds ominous.

Americans have frightened themselves with the word "social" and therefore even "sociality" and "sociology" have a scary ring.  Combine "social" with "engineering" and you get "Russian hacker" or worse, but then we think of Facebook and Google and remember Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

We've had our revenge of the nerds, or geeks inheriting the earth (Bible off by a letter or two) -- world domination they called it.  Now we're back in the realm of politics and at a higher level than many attain.  A picture emerges of politicians up and down a ladder, along with PR people, marketers, all social engineers of various stripes. Some learn to code.

The new blend of technology with socially-savvy meme-makers, puts the lawyer shoptalks in a new context. Engineering has come into its own more and we have the "code is law" meme.

What better way to write games than in software?  What better way to self govern than with the assistance of free open source?  With respect to traditional politicking, AI represents this new face, or interface, this API.  Welcome then, to this world of AI.

So yeah, you might be out of a job as well, mister would-be ruler, given we're using these Ouija Boards (these social media) more and more.  Accelerating acceleration, Toffler called it.  We need our self-governing tools simply to keep up.  The center of gravity has shifted to social media, radio and television included.  Politicians have become actors in a new kind of theater.  We're seeing that all the time now, on Singularity TV.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Family Reunions

Pat Kenworthy, my late wife's cousin, has let us know about the passing away of her mother, Dawn's Aunt Betty, at the age of ninety two.

Around the same time, I learned of my brother-in-law Sam's grave illness, sparking a family reunion over here. I'll be driving over the mountain once Tara arrives. Sam is in hospice.

I've been reading Arnold Mindell (The Shaman's Body: A New Shamanism for Transforming Health, Relationships, and the Community Paperback, November 30, 1993).  He's still a Carlos Castaneda fan whereas many grew disillusioned with his undermining of the literal truth about the spirit world, through his anthropology books, about his relationship with his own sense of wisdom (Don Juan).

Thanks to Bob Bornemann of Esozone for turning me cluing me re the above lecture, worth watching if you're doing Jungian studies, a long time theme in these blogs.  Thanks to Alex as well.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Composing Functions

The code below shows a way of teaching operator overloading in Python, and about lambda.

Function type objects do not ordinarily multiply, leaving it up to the developer to ascribe meaning to said operation.  We might use it for "compose" such that (F * G)(x) == F(G(x)).

The __call__ method invokes the original function, while Compose wraps the function inside the type that knows how to multiply and therefore power.

At the end, decorator syntax is introduced.  I explain decorator syntax in more detail in this Youtube.

Hit Run for the demo, output appears below.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wanderers 2017.06.13

WILPF on UN Nuke Ban

That's June 13, a Tuesday night. Carol of WILPF (my mom) updated us on the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, slowly making its way to passing, by enough of a majority to warrant the ratification phase, wherein each nation takes a copy home to debate about.

But will they debate? Some pundits only mock the UN as some globalist nonsense they never agreed to, and they're right, they had no direct exercise of veto power.  People made this stuff up.  The UN framework.  They didn't ask us about ketchup either.  So many of them, only one of me.

The New York Times has given it some serious press.  It fits, it's news.  I operated the laptop (the olde Air) while Carol talked, mostly flashing up Wikipedia pages on the various treaties we went over: non-proliferation; comprehensive test ban; arms trade; and now this new one, with most nations supportive.

The discussion was lively, with our currently youngest attending member reassuring us there'd be other ways humans could commit mass suicide even without their beloved atom bombs.  As anyone who watched Wonder Woman recently well remembers, we have our gases and simple diseases.  "We" being collective humanity, some of whom we can't completely explain.

I helped field questions as Carol is hard of hearing, and I could repeat from up close.  She had a lot of information about the history leading up to this point.  She has a lot of perspective.  I invited her to bring up the Kellog-Briand pact, but by that time we were pretty think tanked.

My day was somewhat complicated in that I'm immersed in preparing a next lecture series, printed textbook, while plowing through a Coursera Mooc.  Dr. Harris I think it is does an excellent job guiding us through his Internet of Things world.  I'm talking to my Arduino.

At the same time, I'm bouncing down to the viewing room monitor and immersing myself in Gettysburg, a dramatic reenactment of a deciding battle in the US Civil War, a defining chapter in the region's history.  The topic is more than I want to dive into in the context of talking about Carol's presentation.

The conversation twisted and turned.  As projector operator, I could jump to my Photostream with recent pictures of a Little Red Riding Hood looking character, our friend and former house guest Lindsey Walker of Nepal, Oregon, Georgia, Florida (reverse chrono).  On her way to Corvallis.

Don reported on Steve Mastin's health and promised to post where we might visit him, given the weeks of recuperation he'll need following a medical intervention.  I think I know the place.  Not where Tom Connolly was, but a similar facility.

Gettysburg came to me from Glenn Stockton as a two-sided DVD and as of this writing I'm still on the Last Day. I've listened to a long commentary track full of illuminating insights from several perspectives (historian, director, cinematographer).

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lo and Behold (movie review)

This documentary by Werner Herzog examines the birth and evolution of the Internet from several angles.

The very first ARPA net Internet box, today enshrined as a museum piece at UCLA, was designed to be robust, yet its first communication on October 29, 1969, with Stanford, glitched on the letter G.  The first string being sent, character by character, was "LOG" but only got as far as "LO," giving us the Lo in Lo and Behold.

We've become highly dependent on our digital telecommunications networks, out to satellites. However these networks are poorly shielded against electromagnetic storms caused by either the Sun or by humans themselves, a frequently suicidal species (homicidal against itself).  Our way of life is always at risk.

Herzog also takes up serious downsides that have come with Internet technology:  addiction, new forms of illness, new threats.

Werner is a highly respected movie maker and parleys his reputation for access to some of the core gurus of our Internet age.  Great talking heads.

"Have the monks stopped praying?  They all seem to be tweeting."

Are tweets the new prayers?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Media Sphere

Morning in America

I'm joining much of the North American polity this morning, though most need to work, in viewing Congress deliberate, in the presence of private citizen Comey, formerly FBI Director, regarding what's up with the Russia investigation, which no one has any doubts about being real (and serious).

To that end, on the advice of various parties, I made myself a Bloody Mary (aka Headless Chicken), which in these parts is an accepted breakfast drink, even if alcoholic.  You'll find some good ones at Beaches, at PDX International, starting around 6 AM (I was sipping by about then too, and making a cheese, spinach omelette).

Per ritual, we're supposed to use Russian vodka, for irony, but I didn't have any handy and went for the Swedish brand, Svedka, I found in my downstairs closet awhile back.  Never opened.  I bought the tomato cocktail mix at the OLCC store on Hawthorne & SE 47th (Asylum District), McIlyenny Co Tobasco brand. Also by ritual we're supposed to chuckle "covfefe" or maybe use that as a toast.

For the last three days, I've been huddled in a cross-country (multi-timezone) session on Python3, what is it and how does it work.  Although European in origin, we don't say it's Russian in particular, given Guido is Dutch.  Yes, Python is popular among Russian hackers. My days in Moscow were pre Python. I'd like to get back now that we have this computer language in common.

I have an Ornery class on (ignore modal window -- or sign up for a free scratch space) where I show how the puppet strings are connected, square brackets to __getitem__, curved parentheses to __call__, etc. I use my Permutation class for the same purpose: to show off Python's __ribs__ (the "stack of special names" grammar).

That immersive process, run in East Coast time, is over now, and I'm at liberty to join the Media Sphere this morning for some live, if tightly scripted, events.

OK, lets get back to the session.  I've heard all the opening Q&A, but there's still stuff to get.

Oh yeah, I'm watching through CBS News through digital broadcast. I also have the app.

Wearing my anthropology hat, I think a lot of these stormy seas have to do with ethnic clashes betwixt a highly oiled business machine mindset, and that of a government built around more transparency, even open source principles.  But then tightly controlled, private enterprises gobble up open source, and even contribute back.  Meaning I'm seeing a lot of complex merging here, the formation of new alloys (hybrid cultures).

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Learning to Code

I'm back to code school teaching Monday morning. This next one is immersive, for adults, but not a boot camp.

In code school lingo, boot camp is about putting in full days at the school, assuming brick and mortar, not virtual. PDX Code Guild hosts those.  These run for several weeks, say twelve to sixteen.

However, many courses of study, from MOOCs (massive open online courses) to community college, are less intensive than boot camp, yet still immersive.

These code school boot camps don't seriously involve boots, unless someone happens to wear them. I suppose there's a pun in there somewhere, regarding self-booting computers, but that'd seem lame.

Teaching a computer language is not unlike teaching a human language, including music.  We sing a music called "ordinary speech" and don't call it singing.  Then we have other forms of singing, notated using musical notation in some cases, not that there's just one such notation.

Likewise computer languages notate what the computer will do, the programmer being less a player (the computer plays itself) than a composer.  To program is to compose.  Sometimes the movies get it wrong and show some hacker typing lines of code at almost superhuman speed.

On the contrary, programming tends to be a halting activity, with frequent breaks to pace, draw on a white board, consult documentation, doodle, sketch.  And right, there are many flavors of programming.

Python, one of these computer languages, has a grammar and vocabulary, like J does, another language I've studied (J is a close relative of APL's).  Python inherits from ABC, with an emphasis on the C (inside joke, in the sense of CPython, not to be confused with Cython, nor Jython).

We grow in our awareness of Python through (0) its keywords and the grammatical structures they form (1) its special names, sometimes known as magic names (2) its core builtins, standard library and 3rd party modules (namespaces).

Namespaces build out the vocabulary, but in your core Python, you get the full grammar, a way of fitting puzzle pieces together.  Then it's just a matter of adding pieces, while continuing to use the same grammar.

Because of this difference between grammar and vocabulary, also real in human languages, it's possible to talk about mastering basic Python in three days of immersive hands on study.  That's not a lie.

People thinking one could never learn to play a musical instrument that quickly are correct: developing those reflexes takes a lot longer.  Music is played against time, at a fixed rate, and that's more like dance.

Programming is slow, with lots of "thinking about" and pausing, so it's the analogy that was maybe misleading.  You don't have to memorize all that much either, to master the grammar.

A vocabulary is like a shop talk.  Think how long it takes to develop familiarity with a tool set, such as for maintaining and repairing bicycles.  The heart surgeon has a tool set.  These are shop talks.  In learning Python, we're not learning to be bicycle mechanics or surgeons.

A computer language may have magic in it somehow, but that doesn't put it outside the natural limitations we're used to among human beings.  Step one in becoming a programmer is maybe setting aside certain stereotypes and misconceptions that only make the prospect seem more daunting than it is.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I woke up concerned about how to cross STEM with PATH, the meaning of each letter.  If STEM sprouts an A, turning to STEAM, should PATH cross on the A instead?  I always say "A is for Anthropology" knowing the Art folk may object. But what if we have a second T and make that mean Theater, as in screenplays for television.

There's an almost conscious effort to pry "programming" (as in television) and "programming" (in code) apart. We're too close to "brainwashing" though that's what it is, and really, what's so bad about mental hygiene. Why not turn it over to professionals, right?

Anyway, having watched the only two seasons of the critically acclaimed Dollhouse, I used non-AI sources to suggest additional TV series, netting Chuck, Veronica Mars, and I Zombie.  I'm sampling the first two.  The Movie Madness computer claimed to have all three, however Chuck was filed before Chicago PD under Millennial TV Heritage.

Back to Theater and multi-tasking, and the need for retakes.  Live theater requires rehearsing the whole thing a number of times, unless it's improv. I'm not the expert.

Computer programming is similar in that once you get a working copy in the can, you can put the code into production and watch it do its job.  Recorded media are reassuringly deterministic, even if the circumstances in which they're played may not be.



Theater includes a lot of business management, workflow analysis, operations research and the like. We might introduce the idea of fictional versus nonfictional theater.

The two sets overlap on "A" because we're somewhat anthropocentric by nature, and need to keep the impact of our work, on our quality of life, front and center.  What are the opportunity costs that come with dumbing ourselves down?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Use It or Lose It

(Use | Lose)(it: any) 

Yes, that's a cryptic title, too cryptic in fact, for Blogger to wanna let me do it.  Use It or Lose It, where "it" my be anything, as in "any type of object". I'm not using the syntax of any real language that I'm aware of, although | ("pipe symbol" -- named for Bob's) has routinely meant "or" in many authoritative postings.

The "it" of this afternoon is getting on the Internet from some public mall with lots of sign-in opportunities, including a few without passwords.  Is this the official Lloyd Center hot spot? At Pycon we had FBI-Surveillance-van as a hot spot option (though I think with some auth).

At first, given the request for a texted code, I inadvertently got the smartphone on the network instead, so then tried to forward the laptop through a Bluetooth connection, no dice.  You might say "why trust public wifi?" but then I know about https and so feel that I know the answer.  Lets see if this posts...

I don't think the title is what's bad. Something lower level. I changed it anyway. A physical spider has been crawling my screen, a small green one. I let it alone. Even saving doesn't work. I think I'll jump to another network.  It worked when I came back.

On Facebook this morning, I relayed the fake news that the Committee on Taxonomy and Terminology has officially revoked our "sapien" status, as in "homo sapien". After further study, we are deemed to be "homo machinus" instead.  Hey, they demoted Pluto, happens to the best of us sometimes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Philosophy of Science


Terry Bristol treated us to a lecture on intellectual history, using a big picture "macroscopic" approach. I brought my mom to this last Linus Pauling lecture of the season, and maybe for good, we don't know. Terry has a busy schedule.

My work takes me to Pycon, starting up this same Thursday, although I'm writing this from the following Monday's perspective.

The mind-meld (the seque, the synapse), twixt Pycon and ISEPP, was pretty smooth, in that software engineering blends with all kinds of engineering, just as computer science blends well with all science.

Terry maintains a somewhat insider "science versus engineering" thread, using these as two poles around which to organize different paradigms.  From outside his philosophical namespace, such a distinction might seem nonsensical at first, but that's how it is with namespaces: they may take awhile to penetrate (decipher).

I was please to see Terry's bringing in Vienna Circle thinking, even with his Karl Popper background. Popper disciples tend to be rather suspicious of Wittgenstein, but Terry is living proof it's possible to leap that fence.

Mom is somewhat hard of hearing and bleary of sight, needing new glasses, but in the darkened church was able to puzzle through the quotes pretty well.

I extol the ISEPP lectures, happening since the 1990s, in my Tying Off Loose Ends video presentation below (embedded Youtube).

LW in a Church

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pycon Begins

Walking in, I spied Guido immediately, which makes it official, then I registered, no lines, the Oregon Convention Center seemingly almost empty but for the geeks around tables.  Looks are deceiving however: they're all in tutorial sessions, with lunch about to start.

I'm taking a low key approach this year, haunting the periphery more, checking out open spaces, or such is the plan.  In years past, I've been ravenous to not miss a thing.  Designing one's own experience is an art.

I grabbed a Max at the Hollywood stop, leaving a car.  I have a gig co-teaching at Laurelhurst PPS back near where I parked it.  Then tonight, rather than attend the Intel sponsored soiree, I'm heading into town for an ISEPP lecture, Terry Bristol presenting, Carol Urner (MVP, mom) joining me.  This is the final lecture of the season and will there be another one?

In my May 5 lecture above (embedded Youtube), I exult about the ISEPP Linus Pauling Memorial Lecture Series and all the great minds it has brought to Portland.

Tomorrow the conference starts in earnest with the opening keynote and lots of talks.  I'm in one of the tutorial rooms as I write this; Applied Modern Cryptography in Python begins at 1:20 PM.  Maybe I can sit in for forty minutes to an hour, before grabbing a Max back to Hollywood.

A threesome next to me is yakking about the concept of "duality" as relating to topology and polyhedrons. I must be in the right place, huh.

At lunch I met a chief of Visual Studio documentation. Microsoft is making Python a top-level citizen in the VS ecosystem, meaning a direct install option.  That's CPython, not IronPython or Python .NET as some call it.  The consensus seems to be:  we use Python for machine learning and data analysis. Windows has also made it easy to install a bash shell.

A reason Python might be considered a "glue language" is it's bringing all the platforms together. One ring to rule them all...

Neil Raja, whom I know from Flying Circus, was haunting the hallway track. We ended up at an Anaconda workshop together, about dask, an open source project enabling the use of pandas (a set of data structures) across multiple gigabytes relatively painlessly.

David Koski is flying in Sunday afternoon. I'll be transitioning between Python world and Synergetics world.  Glue language.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Changing Channels

I accepting an assignment in Sellwood, given Monday evenings have cleared and I'm not anxious about traffic. Sellwood is on my side of the river anyway, and it's the bridges that are bottlenecks, especially with the Morrison still closed.  I'd never been to this picturesque little neighborhood school. We did a lesson on functions.

The debate on functions on Math Forum has been a little bit interesting but I just don't find much contemporary thinking going on, meaning I need to change channels.  I'm stagnating on math-teach.  Maybe switching back to math-future would be good for me.

Pycon is coming right up.  I'm also expecting a quick visit from my partner in arms David Koski, who is celebrating Finland turning 100 years old this year, same as AFSC.  David and I received that Synergetics Explorer Award back in the 1990s.  I've been living off the lump sum ever since (just kidding).

The new playlists on Synergetics I put out have been percolating through social media.  Osmosis is our friend. I notified many of the key players by Twitter, more to document my having done my part, regardless of how the network responds.  I'm upholding my end of the bargain at least.

In the last few hours I've taken a brief vacation from nonfiction to advance through Season One of Dollhouse, which came out quite awhile ago by now.  We're Joss Whedon fans in this family, when it comes to fictional storytelling. However that doesn't mean I'm always able to stay up to date.

Friday, May 12, 2017



Glenn clued me about this performance.

I was some concerned I'd not be able to fight may way back to my zip code in time (Asylum District), given rush hour traffic and my plan to wait it out.

After McKay Elementary (my assignment) I popped in to Shiraz Grill for some gyro, then migrated to McMenamins on Scholl's Ferry for pint number two, followed by black coffee. I got back to the hood right on time. The Facebook timeline has more of the details.

Bardoville was in a small church-like building (ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX) buried in the Foster neighborhood, one of Portland's last traditional holdouts, still funky and unspoiled by the upscale franchises, unless you count Roundtable (I don't).

The wraiths writhed in the foreground, in black leotards, going through all the emotional states, while a priest with a blow dryer (religious prop) did his best to officiate.

An author, with his proverbial desktop and typewriter, bottles of beer and wine, broke in with his stream of consciousness, about this twilight zone between lives, pregnant with meaninglessness.

I think Bardoville might be a better name than Portlandia. It sounds less Utopian, and besides, there's more to Oblivion than meets the eye.

That's the whole point in a way: for something to constellate, you need a galactic soup like the Milky Way.

I wasn't clear if this troupe had come down from Seattle, or originated there awhile back. Glenn remembered them from Esozone in some way.

Quoting from the Southeast Examiner:
Alli, a professional astrologer, has authored many wild mind books on experimental theatre, astrology, and Timothy Leary’s 8-circuit model of consciousness.

Of the production he says: “The idea for Bardoville came about while pondering the current sociopolitical landscape and watching the world as I knew it collapsing behind me with the new world not yet in sight. This harrowing awareness reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist term bardo which refers to the 49-day intermediary stage between human incarnations. As a culture, I think we are currently passing through a major bardo, an epic state between states, where the future remains unknown, yet also open to the potentials of creation.
We adjouned to O'Malley's, a neighborhood tavern, and watched the pizza guy make pizza in a most authentic fashion, sipping IPAs from Silver Moon.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Buddhist Ghetto

Meditation Room

I consider myself lucky, fortunate, to live in what some call a "Buddhist ghetto". I learned that moniker from an Episcopalian at St. David of Wales. The phrase was not used with any malice or disrespect.  The parishioner (congregant?) was more demonstrating a kind of knowing awareness of neighborhood demographics.

My contact at Maitripa College was leading a guided meditation this morning and invited me to attend. I was happy to do so, not having set foot in this institution before.  We talked a little about Buddhism afterwards.  Serious scholars don't buy that "Hinayana" as opposed to "Mahayana" is a useful term.  I think the word "Protestant" sounds similarly condescending, as if "in order to protest" were this movement's defining feature (at one time maybe, but to be branded that way seems diminishing).

In any case Maitripa inherits mostly from Tantric sources, which goes by Vajrayana as well.  Having lived in Bhutan for some months over multiple intervals, I know more than average about the history. Bhutan is more "red hat" territory whereas the Gelug branch is more informally known as "yellow hat".  The Bhutanese Drukpa sect is considered a subset of Kagyu.

After my visit to the college, I stopped by the nearby Burgerville (Asylum District) for a seasonal strawberry milkshake (I don't drink milk often), then headed back to Harrison Street on my bicycle. Most of the rest of the day was spent studying programming, which is what I do for a living as well as for a hobby, a lot of the time.  I teach programming, even as I learn it.  In this case, I watched another David Beazley Youtube, from way back in 2013, when Python 3.3 was still the newest.

Mahayana Buddhism, if we wanna call it that, came up with the Bodhisattva concept, or so I was told. A Bodhisattva is a compassionate being committed to being more a part of the solution than a part of the problem.  The translation to "saint" and/or "savior" is somewhat inexact, given all the spins involved.  There's no guarantee any specific translation will work.  If we know how to get the eigenvectors and/or singular value matrix for some great translation, that'd be welcome, but in the meantime it's up to each scholar to evolve a private understanding, with public auditing.

Quakers tried to dispense with titles for the most part, opting for "roles" in relation to given projects or meetings, but occupied in rotation, not for life.  We each get a persona, a character to work on, an individual soul, as distinct from the body.  The idea that a soul is singular, or even exists in the first place, might be questioned, however in common language, we acknowledge "individuals".  Through individuality shines a guiding light, or inner light, according to Quakerism, which might translate as Void or Buddha depending on one's brand of Buddhism.

I like to use "void" in the sense of C or None in Python, given my programming habits.  Existence has no final "return value" in this picture, which I'd contrast with a more judgemental one, wherein someone's opinion ultimately decides on some Judgement Day, what the return value is.

For sure the Buddhist deities, such as we see them depicted, may come with an attitude.  They're not necessarily neutral in the face of suffering or evil.  Perhaps they're causes of same?  From a human perspective, we might think so I'd suppose.  Some forces seem unfriendly.

Deities in the Joseph Campbell and psychoanalytic traditions get to be eternal embodiments of various qualities, inheriting from the Greek and Roman pantheon.  Monotheism eventually eclipsed these polytheistic religions with the rise of the Jewish and Christian faiths, while preserving a sense of hierarchy and of lesser beings (angels, demons, human mortals and so on).

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Code School Business

I introduced Wanderers to my topic with the write-up below.

During the presentation itself, I screened various learning tools I've seen used around Greater Portland, in connection with my code school work.

The slides merge coding with design work, as tool-making and tool-using is highly multidisciplinary.

What Does the Future Bode, in Terms of Learning to Code?

 The "code school" business is still shaping up in a rough and tumble world, full of uncertainties.

O'Reilly Media finally threw in the towel, closing its fledgling School of Technology. So then what happened to Wanderer Kirby Urner, one of the school's full time Python mentors (souvenir biz cards will be available)?

He's branched out into mentoring much younger folk, in addition to sometimes hosting a night gig for professional adults, off and on (a forty hour ordeal). He did a Python for Wanderers a few years ago, Allen Taylor attending.

Coding with Kids is the new company, based in Redmond, so you might be thinking Windows, but we use Chromebooks on resources in the cloud, what Kirby plans to project. After school, in schools (both public and private).

Given Kirby's unique perspective from the front lines, along with years spent developing curriculum for his Oregon Curriculum Network [1], we should get some interesting discussion going, starting with a 20 minute show and tell (projected) featuring some of the latest tools now in use in education. 

Presenter's bio:

Kirby is a former full time math teach (St. Dom's in Jersey City), text book editor, political activist etc., an early childhood denizen of Portland with an upbringing overseas (Rome, Manila) and a degree from Princeton (philosophy a focus).

He returned to Portland in his later twenties to met his late wife Dawn Wicca and raise a family. (ISEPP was one of Dawn's bookkeeping clients back in the 1990s). Kirby specialized in writing programs for nonprofits and for medical research.

 Full resume:

Want to optionally do some homework ahead of time? Read these to bone up on the presenter's views:

On Medium:

Ongoing Debate @ Math Forum:

[1] Oregon Curriculum Network

Friday, April 28, 2017

Portland Design Week 2017

Deke with C6XTY

Continuing the theme of HP4E, Hexapents for Everyone, today was the long-awaited debut of C6XTY as a camera-ready product.

Glenn and Deke came over to my place for the occasion, with Sam Lanahan, the inventor, bringing inventory fresh off the ship from China, more on the way.  You'll be learning more about this invention in future blog posts.

Good catching up with Trevor Blake this week.  He knows my HP4E campaign from the "design science" angle as well.

Likewise in the spirit of Design Week, I was able to get the Raspberry Pi talking to the Arduino Uno, by downloading and decompressing a nightly build of the Processing development environment.

As mentioned earlier, I'm plowing through a MOOC on Coursera, about the Internet of Things (IoT).

Design Week

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