Thursday, December 06, 2018

Intergenerational Cyberia


Traditional societies, such as commuter cultures in big cities, put children in the care of people other than parents, as the latter need to go foraging for berries, or pick fruit in the fields.

Professional caregivers, such as teachers, may pick up the slack, but then you have grandparents also.  Those who have become more frail and perhaps scattered, perhaps not, stay behind in the camps and share skills with the next generation to assume a parental role.

This pattern repeats in Cyberia, where retired people finally get the time to reflect on their lives, including the history they lived through.  Many boomers today are consuming hours of conspiracy theory documentaries, trying to make sense of what happened.  Who else has that kind of time?  The grandchildren, momentarily spared the need to earn a living, retired young people.

I'm not saying there's anything particularly wrong with this pattern in principle.  You want the wise elders, who've seen it all, who've raised kids, held a job, to pass on what they know to the younger ones.  Mom and dad need a break to get out there are forage, to commute, to spend time on freeways listening to radio.  A different caste of adults gets to work with the younger people.

Of course this pattern I'm sketching grossly oversimplifies.  Some folks in that middle generation, young parents for example, do work with little kids for a living.  A lot of job descriptions involve kids as a target audience, even if you don't interact with them personally on a daily basis.  Getting the toy stores properly stocked and decorated is kid-oriented work.

However, the fact remains, that many don't get the time to reflect on history much, even at the university, if lucky enough to attend.  Depending on one's area of focus, the demands on one's time may be such that no academic credit accrues in exchange for spending time studying the custody of the Zapruder film (to take the highlighted example).

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dietary Equivalents

You may suppose I'm proposing to talk about actual foods, but no, I'm being metaphoric again.

In the early days of eCommerce, per Supermarket Math, we had our LAMP stacks, with Linux at the foundation and a "P-language" at the top astride a database, although many just said P stood for PHP and were done with it.

Others said PHP, Perl and Python.  Then Ruby came along.  Then Node.

Now we have many more stacks these days.  Saying you're a "full stack engineer" leads to the logical next question: "of which stack or stacks are we speaking?"

By analogy, what might I swap out of curriculum XYZ to insert new topics, just as nutritious, maybe more so.

For example, we want to share Regular Expressions.  They were invented by a mathematician and they're used a lot in the real world.  They get used in bash, in vim, and in Django's URLs dispatcher.

We need to keep primes versus composite and really build on those more.  Euclid's Method for the GCD needs to appear in many languages.  Computer languages, that is.

The absence of most modulo arithmetic in the lower grades (we might still do something with "clocks") has more to do with anti-German sentiments in 1900s New England, than with its everyday relevance to cryptography and the blockchain.

Lots of Euclidean geometry moved in to push out anything Gaussian.

Some top down imposition of the "one size" that "fits all" is very likely going to fail, next to a system allowing schools to compete and distinguish themselves.  Biodiversity trumps monoculture over the long haul.

Those getting in to Martian Math early, will have that clearness of foresight as a bragging point, should the Digital Mathematics of the Silicon Forest, continue to prove itself a standard in some way.

My ideal Polytechnic features GST and Digital Mathematics in competition with more conventional fare, such as Economics and a less literary approach to core STEM.

Our bridge from PATH to STEAM keeps us anchored in our values,which we're not afraid to have.

We look at ethics / aesthetics quite a bit, comparing lifestyles.  That's what engineers do.

Occupy University I'm calling it, continuing my experience from OPDX days.

Friday, November 23, 2018

From the Pi


I'm physically in the living room, Mac Air on my lap, connected by VNC to the Raspberry Pi in the basement.

Getting this far has been a struggle, as my former password, AFAIK, had stopped working.  Had I forgotten resetting it?  But then why did passwd reset seem to work, yet not work.  Something about /etc/shadow?

Anyway, I followed instructions to change cmdline.txt on the Micro SD card, an hour-long project given my best card reader adaptor was not the one that ended up working.  Then came other issues, requiring a remount and so on.

Now, at last, I'm able to do what I used to do:  use VNC from a remote laptop to get the Raspberry Pi desktop.  Yay.

In celebration, I opened Blogger from the Pi and am writing this blog post virtually, from 192.168.1.5 behind the router, not from the Mac Air.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Secret Knowledge



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Time Flies

P1070365
:: Carol and Celeste ::

A cliche we've all heard is the older one gets, the faster time flies.  Then follows the standard explanation:  well duh, each year is proportionally less and less, of one's entire life.  We also learn from the patterns.  The seasons spin by, marked by holidays in succession.

We're coming up on Thanksgiving here in Oregon.  In earlier chapters, I've been in the HOV lane heading to north of Seattle, to be with family friends.  Other times I've been north to meet with actual relatives, dad's side of the family.

This year, however, given mom is not ambulatory (a recent turn of events), I'm likely to stay in Portland, which has its own charms.  We might do something fancy-electronic to hookup with the relatives.  We're also looking forward to a rendezvous with other friends.  That's what this season is about, when it's hardest to travel thanks to weather.

Gig Economy
:: teacher accessories ::

Sunday, November 04, 2018

More Movie Making


Youtube has a wealth of conspiracy theory videos, I think we all know that. Were I a big time think tank I might have a catalog with at least a hundred pointers (links) per entry.  As it is, as a low budget dude, I have Robert Anton Wilson's encyclopedia of conspiracies, I'm sure by this time dated.  It's pre 9-11.

Actually, Robert (Bob?) overlapped the emergence of the Web, and he looked for links when writing that book, and found my website talking about the Grunch, a Bucky Fuller invention, in terms of terms, one of his neologisms, his successor to LAWCAP (in turn his successor to FINCAP).  So yeah, my website at Teleport is there in print.  Look it up.  This book is not hard to find.

I think in terms of graph databases sometimes, having played with Python + Neo4j some years ago. I'm not the expert.  We've all seen the movie wherein the hero or anti-hero has a wall covered with pictures, with yarn or string going this way and that.  This is called "connecting the dots".  You'll see professionals doing it, but also people spinning out of control, losing their grip.  It's called thinking, as depicted in the semiotics of film.

The semiotics of film is actually where to find the tropes I want to talk about, the dots I want to connect, or not.  A graph is uninteresting if everything is connected to everything else.

I remember having a faxed transcript of testimony by Clair George, some CIA guy, and using one of those yellow highlighter pens.  I ended up highlighting just about all of it, which is goofy, because if everything stands out, then nothing does. I made the mistake of sharing it with The Oregonian, which was doing some articles on me at the time.

Which reminds me: I was amused by how Valerie Plame included so much redacted text in her book.  The joke book would be all redacted, with one or two prepositions (whole propositions?) peeking out.

A dot to connect is the Gambles' Thrive operation to a "zero point energy" discourse, which of course is a link to civilizations off-world.  The GST horizon of opportunity, which Fuller believed crossed a threshold in the 1970s, has to do with whether military operations are a sign of mental illness.

If species success is just around the corner, if we behave in a rational manner, and we behave irrationally instead, then in what sense is our language making any sense?  We've become nonsense creatures, which is interesting to contemplate.  Would the comic books seem any different.  Would superheros go away?  Why use the subjunctive, if we're there already?

Those pushing futurisms are in science fiction ville, making magazine covers for Popular Mechanics, about the anti-gravity machines and flying cars and so on.  Many of those futurisms do seem to promise higher living standards, or did in the 50s and 60s.  Those were decades of high optimism.  Then came Blade Runner and dystopian science fiction ala Grunch (Grunch of Giants is at once hopeful and dark, very 1980s).

So I've connected to Thrive from the study of exoplanets and their past and/or future interaction with Earthians.  I've made a "big deal" in a low key way out of how my brand of GST doesn't promise zero point energy, nor feature it as necessary to a higher living standard, a better world wherein outward war is obsolete.

On the other hand I explore the panic ensuing from the Orson Welles Halloween Hoax.  My Martian Math dives into that.  I played excerpts of the broadcast during the recent course at Reed College.  The kids understood this is was science fiction.  None were terrified.

Perhaps I'm a mover and shaker in that I've got a tractor hooked up to Synergetics (the Fuller version) and am pulling it from STEM towards PATH, making it a work in the humanities bridging to STEM, coming from the Philosophy side.

Once a bridge is established, the traffic is two way, so maybe it didn't matter which side initiated the bridge.  I'm talking about the C.P. Snow chasm of course.  I've written stories about that elsewhere, as did Dr. Fuller.

If you're not familiar with Martian Math or Synergetics, let me summarize in a nutshell.  A different way of modeling multiplication brings in more triangles and tetrahedrons than we're used to, which suggests a different approach to spatial geometry and relative volume valuation.


A different approach does not mean a replacement approach.  There's emphasis on a conversion constant, as if we're inventing another way to calibrate pressure or temperature.  Perhaps we're introducing a currency.

These polyhedrons inflate to a spherical version, with the spherical icosahedron especially stable, and associated with the geodesic sphere and dome.  Fuller was famous for his work in that area, but behind the scenes, this volumes re-evaluation was going on.

As a way of packaging what might come across as boring and dry, I have my science fiction ETs use the Bucky stuff, which turns my math course into a broader spectrum anthropology course.  We're also thinking about theater:  what would the movie look like?  Think of more than one.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fancy Bear

Fancy Bear

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Happy Halloween


Friday, October 26, 2018

Today's News

P1070013

Today was tightly timed.  This was a first run with Carol incapacitated to this degree, though with dress rehearsal the day before.

We had to run a short gauntlet at the clinic, all necessary, and then I needed to get to Bowling Class.  That's code.  Crack it later maybe.

The CBS News was about the horror show crime boss stuff that makes this Ghetto Planet, followed by a scary story about a dangerous place, where people die in the process of taking selfies.

Typhoon Yutu hit Northern Mariana Islands.  Get checked for breast cancer.  I get to have another colonoscopy soon.

I'm engaged with Quakers in some long range planning again, which process does not involve voting.  There's plenty of room within Quakerism for many experimental forms.

I may be experimenting with the mixed use skyscraper concept, perhaps in Asia somewhere.  Speaking of which, I see in Asian Reporter that the Pope is eyeing a visit to North Korea.

I've been sharing DPRK memes on Facebook as a part of the ongoing redesign, so this news was apropos.  I read it in the parking lot, as we had coffee, having arrived early for the appointment.

Griff sent me some homework.  I'll be getting an RT and RD in Rhino after all, looks like.  That's a CAD program I'm using.  I'm not the headwaters when it comes to the slick stuff going out through the schools, but I do contribute some mnemonics.

A lot of what I do is reorganize, repackage, value add.  That's what GST envisions the PWS as doing, an "edit / recombine" studio.  PWS = personal workspace.  Lots on Medium by me on that.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Greetings to Gulenists


In follow-up to some recent writings mentioning the Hizmet (service) movement, in connection with Quakers.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Circuit Riding

I'm sure I'm engaged in misprision in my use of the "circuit riding" meme, but lets picture me as this electron that takes a path through a circuit.  My wave-like qualities are less important in this context, but we know I broadcast information when called upon.  I'm on my way to a CPU or GPU someplace, we could surmise, in Google Brain.

In practice, Carol and I both vector about in Portland.  I still use a fossil fuel powered car.  If we're serious about care-taking Peak Oil, we'll acknowledge the fun we had with all that "starter fluid" in our attempts to boot something more sustainable.

I've been listening to an Israeli historian with a big Youtube following.  He speculates our sudden awakening was maybe more shocking and therefore absurd in some ways.  Are we too early to the party?  I don't know his views on ETs, but maybe 13 billion years is way too early for intelligent life and we're a blip on the screen many trillions of years before most planets get woke.

But then some humans are persuaded there's busy commerce with ETs already.  Speculations on the platform of a consensus reality (CR, cite Mindell, A.) are one thing, whereas once you're already left the realm of consensus (about what's so now, about the past), then speculation is closer to ranting in a House of Nonsense, such as we might have in Asylum District.

"Asylum District" does enjoy a somewhat fragile consensus among business owners, historians, those who appreciate the charming Dr. Hawthorne story.  He ran a first mental asylum for Oregonians, when this was a fledgling state, dreaming of infrastructure for itself.

The nearby Ladd's Addition had lots of room.  Housing in the area was still fairly sparse.

Salem, the future capital, replacing Oregon City from Hudson's Bay Company days, allowed Dr. Hawthorne to develop his facility while Oregon worked on a newer one, closer to home.  One day, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest would be filmed there.

I'm teaching 2D and 3D animation these days.  I'm not the expert.  I'm taking a "learning together" approach while I herd cats i.e. 2nd through 5th graders.  The topics are new, but not the work.

That's not all of what I do.  I also get sick sometimes, which is work in itself.  For those of you know know physics, work is whatever you do, whereas if you're a Protestant, it has something to do with "earning a living" even though we know there's no way to earn such a thing (it's a gift).

In talking about "what is work?", we've left consensus reality as far as I'm concerned.

I'll share more about my work in other blog posts.  Right now, it's time to enter said CPU or GPU as some wandering circuit riding electron.  Wish me luck.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Welcome to "Sesame Street"

Another Vintage Atom

As a way of embedding a cultural icon, influential on me among many, I've oft referred to a certain "concentric hierarchy" as "the Sesame Street of Synergetics".

I'm of course talking about a "stack" of concentrically arranged (one could say layered) topological frameworks, Eulerian networks.

You may think in terms of great circles and how we used to imagine electrons flying along geodesics, in those ancient movies about "the atom".  That's the kind of mental imagery we encourage, even if we're not literally talking about an atom.

The great circles remain, absent any specific frequency or special case interpretation.

However, the strobe light may reveal a shape at a "stand still" that's more what we might have grown up calling "Platonic".  When spinning around any pair of poles, we get a readout.

A lot of schools left those out (the Five Platonics), so if you don't know what a tetrahedron is, you're in good company.

After a few Sesame Street level videos, some time with puppets, some hands-on time exploring tactile senses (Gibbs-ish ala solid, liquid and gas), you'll be clear not only on what a tetrahedron is, but several other such hedrons (or hedra) as well.

You'll be ready for kindergarten in no time!

Not that your vocabulary needs to get that big right away.  Keep watching, stay tuned.

Recap:

Two tetrahedrons intersecting, give a cube, its dual the octahedron, their pairing a dodecahedron of diamond faces, space-filling (and not Platonic).

Said RD has volume 6 with respect to said cube (3) and tetrahedron (1), octahedron (4).

The dual of the RD, the VE (cuboctahedron), scales to bridge the twelve centers of closest packed unit-radius spheres to:

(A) their nearest neighbors and
(B) to a shared nucleus.

1, 12, 42, 92... a lot of you know this already.  The tetrahedron connects four of such spheres and serves as unit.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Python in the News

Atom, Spyder, Pandas and Numpy

I quizzed my class tonight:  "Why is Python in the news again?"

The hint:  someone famous, as in prize-worthy, is a fan thereof.

I talked about ISEPP (Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy) and the big name lecture series (Goodall, Leakey, Sagan...), suggesting someone of stature.

Answer (revealed after suitable time):  Paul Romer, just awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (shared).

He's a big promoter of the Jupyter Notebook ecosystem, of which Python is a big part (explains the "py").

Actually, the ties to ISEPP are closer in that Terry, the ringleader, is a Romer fan and cites him in his slides and videos.  That's probably why Wanderers were tracking from the get go.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Columbus Day

Hiya

I had a good meetup with the family physician, in their new facility.  So the theme was already medical, including pharmacy.  Then it turned out Carol had lost the med I'd just fetched for her on immediate notice, from a somewhat far away pharmacy.

Our local one is all out.  I got that done, but that was over 24 hours ago.  Since then, she's lost the whole vial.  Yikes.  We've looked high and low.  [Followup:  pills found, atop under-desk files, October 10].

She's on the horn now, with another pharmacy, hoping to get a another refill.  I'm not going to take away her starring role on the phone.  I'm a blogger.  She's got her own iPhone account.

I'm likely to be sent out to refill the refill.  I can overhear the conversation.

... OK, back from that errand.  This time we'll keep a backup of ten pills or so.

I took the camera, and was glad of an opportunity to zap a few in a Petco, as well as in the Glisan, Fred Meyer.  The pharmacy was busy, yet friendly and already had Carol's order in the queue.  That's what gave me the time for a photo shoot.  Around Halloween, that's special.

Dog Food

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Playa



I'm lifting this term Playa from its Burning Man context.  That's an annual EPCOT-like experience wherein teams experiment with prototypes for tomorrow.

However, we don't see big engineering firms representing at Burning Man.  Maybe some of their people join a crew, but you won't see pavilions from Boeing, Siemens or Google.  That's a bit worrisome.

Sure, humans learned how to build geodesic spheres and domes in the 1900s, but did they ever attempt a really big one after Montreal, way back in 1967?  Was any bigger?

We expect the sea levels to rise, and even if they don't, we might need to build whole cities from scratch for other reasons.  What about that OMR design?

Old Man River was like a super-sized stadium in design, with or without the mile wide dome.  That means terraced, like rice paddies, around the interior.  The circular city could be built in sections, using giant A-shaped sections.

Were these ideas practical?  One needs to experiment, and scale models don't always tell the whole story.  Engineers need to try stuff, not just to get the physics right, but to learn the workflows and building techniques.

We're leaving all that to Burning Man apparently.  Or research into large scale structures might be happening in places I don't know about.  Does Google Earth block them out?

Sunday, September 30, 2018

ML Again


I'm back to attending to Siraj, meaning I'm falling asleep, sometimes intentionally, while getting back into the namespace of Machine Learning, wherein I visit new-to-me nooks and crannies.

Siraj is one of my Youtube teachers, one of a cast of celebs that have come to frequent the privileged homes.  In recordings of live chat sessions, I see a lot of kids from Bangalore and elsewhere, chiming in.  They're learning about TPUs as a feature offered by the Google Mind.

This renewed focus on ML is apropos for other reasons.  The Philosophy of Mind debates go well with Indian food.  Dwaraka rocks.  We yakked about such marvels as The Turk in the Age of Napoleon.  AI was in some dimensions self booting and retains some of its carnival ambience.  Sophia and so on.

The idea of an AI Brothel in Texas came up, which I think distills the memes in a wicked brew that maybe Texans are able to handle.  Shades of Westworld.

Speaking of Westworld, as a test of Google's picture matching I slid the picture below from file manager to Google image search.  I'd snipped it from a Youtube of the opening credits. Google search recognized right away where it came from.


Carol (89) and Celeste (94) are both at the symphony, is the current hope.  Supporting evidence would be no evidence to the contrary.  I just dropped Carol off in the Nissan, just a block from the venue.  Celeste was arriving by rail.

Long before I worry about a Singularity, I'm going to be studying the anthropology of what people believe.

Siraj is suffering from no serious delusions about robots about to be real humans, yet already many humans have been branded as "bots".  The need for a term other than "subhuman" has been filled.  The "Russian Bot" T-shirt has been popular in some eCommerce circles.

Long before we say AI has closed the gap, we'll see ourselves in the mirror as highly advanced AI.  We're entitled to some vanity, as we admire ourselves as machines, cyborgs, not because anything has changed, but because we've closed a lot of gaps in the narrative.  We see ourselves as learning much the same way machines learn, by perpetually re-weighing what marbles we're given, by God's grace.

What's changed?  In part it's that our machine models now converge without becoming clones of one another, because of differing initial conditions and sometimes randomness in the algorithms themselves.  Two strong classifiers need not always classify the same way, and that matches our experience of intelligent humans disagreeing.  AI becomes more believable in proportion to its not always seeing eye to eye with itself.  Intelligence means nothing if not contentiousness.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Intermittent Service

I'm finding the Jupyter Notebook rendering service, much appreciated on Github, to be hit or miss.  I'll promote one of my repos, only to find a Sorry, Reload? situation.

Sometimes I might take it personally, given my state of mind.

Speaking of which, I just got through both seasons of Real Humans, a Swedish series (so that's the title in translation).  All this after Westworld (season one only).

So much exposure to the machine-human conundrum all at once should probably be factored in as a likely bias going forward a few posts at least. 

Talk about brainwashing, though in exactly what way is the unknown.  That's what comes out in the wash, as they say.

I'm paying attention to the CoC business rippling the pond in Linux World.  That may sound neither here nor there, but then lets remember Vulcan Spock in Star Trek and give "coldly logical" a place at the table.

The machine-human conundrum embraces the "cold rationality" we sometimes project on machine intelligence.  Empathy or "warmth" is what's lacking in mere "Hubots" (a word from the Swedish series).

What I'm saying is, I acknowledge Github gets on my nerves sometimes, as do other aspects of our Wild World Web.  In that sense (nerves), cell and silicon unite.  We've become that cyber-creature.  We're still subject to intermittent breakdown.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Graphene with Quadrays

Another Test

Continuing my meditation on "user-friendly", I tried to pump more life into Quadrays by using them to ray-trace graphene-like imagery.

Some thinkers project a coming Age of Carbon, given all the nano stuff we've learned since the discovery of buckminsterfullerene.  Graphene, surprisingly, is a relative latecomer.  We already knew "pencil lead" was really graphite that rubbed off in layers.  An individual sheet:  that wasn't so much the focus.  Diamond was another allotrope.

Then Bf came along (C60) and a sudden interest in soccer ball imagery, on which I later capitalized using hash tag HP4E ("hexapents for everyone").  Nanotubes would maybe turn out to be good for something.  Separating them into isomers was a technological challenge.  Then came graphene.

However, from another angle, we've been in an Age of Carbon for quite some time now, in that we understand polymer chemistry, oil refining, all manner of things carbon.  As a life form, we're all about hydrocarbons.

I chauffeured again today, driving my passenger to Portland Nursery.  On the way, we rescued an abandoned coffee maker, a Cuisinart model I've owned in the past.  The Coffeemaker went out the morning Melody (visiting guest) tried to use it.  So far, everything is looking promising.  I'll try making some real coffee in a minute.

Added to inventory:  two fire extinguishers, dry retardant, still under regulation pressure.

Pruned:  my tree in the margin.  The office doubles as a Portland looking house.

P1060882

Friday, September 14, 2018

Benefactor: the New Board Game

In this science fiction, every baby gets a million dollars at birth.  That's right, you're a millionaire out of the "box". But that must by funny money, right?  Some loser crypto?

The ideology is simple:  we're born helpless but with entitlements, to care from guardians at first.

Whether we're talking nuclear families or the UN Declaration of Human Rights is negotiable before game play.  Benefactor comes with a wide array of settable parameters (see: configuration file).  Accept the defaults to begin immediately, and then adjust with the wisdom of hindsight.

Regardless of what our rights are precisely, ensuring them takes funding, and giving
everyone the same million dollar account seems unarguably a good design.  One deals people in.

You can't expect a baby to hold down a full time job.

Provide the money up front and gradually build towards a right of passage wherein adult level access to Benefactor is conferred.

However, to have a game one needs a plot.  Many squander their million through lack of discipline, or encounter tragic misfortune through no fault of their own.

Without specific skills or a life plan, and with no other such secure source of income, some players, of necessity, turn to preying upon others, including by looking for flaws in the Benefactor scheme's overall security.

Could there be a way to get a second million?  Superstitions and rumors abound.   Players are not promised a world free of fake news, scams, hoaxes, pyramid schemes.

The corporate side of Benefactor is pretty huge, with vast enough inventories to make good on the claims of their sponsored parties, namely everyone, from birth.

Now imagine the computer game, based on the board game.

You'll want to do more homework regarding Benefactor.

The aforementioned ideology has roots in Egyptian metaphysics, especially in this "22nd Century" (ahead of its time) interpretation of Pharaoh Ikhnaton's religion: the Sun provides enough wattage to justify the million dollar per child fund.

Think of charging batteries.  Money measures a potential to pay for work.

You might think everyone would just kick back in this scenario. No one works, because hey, everyone is thinking "I'm one of the idle rich, I'll just sip martinis by the pool".  Nothing gets done.  Civilization breaks down.  Not only do the trains not run on time, they don't run at all.  What millionaire wants to play with trains?

A lot of them, as it turns out. Both simulations and real life experiment shows most people prefer to do meaningful work, committing their energy in ways that makes a difference, to others not just to themselves.

In fact, with Benefactor encouraging education and skills training, and with ubiquitous "authorized access only" obstacle courses, most players feel an urge to compete, achieve, excel.

Humans come with an innate athleticism that inspires them to set new records.

They play lots of "Glass Bead Games" and tackle real world challenges, such as space travel, for amusement.

In sum, many players still choose medical school while others train to become astronauts.

In general, many humans commit a lot of their initial million towards skills building and cognitive training.

Not all players want serious or heavy responsibilities, however, instead opting for more fun in the sun, at least in some chapters, especially as children.

Benefactor is non-judgemental.  The system was not put in place with the idea of "rewarding good behavior".  Other rewards systems run in parallel to Benefactor.  Benefactor is not the only game in town.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fear & Loathing in Florida


I was in high school in Florida at the start of the 1970s.

I'm not surprised it's among the most Jim Crow of the fifty states.

People retire there to live out their racist utopia fantasies, no longer playing out in Michigan, paying top dollar for the privilege.

The state government does its best to oblige.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Among Friends

Carol wanted to be sure she got to Peace and Social Concerns, which started its meeting in the main room, same as for Meeting for Worship, at noon.

Amazingly enough, we made it by 10 AM and so were in time for the hour-long silent worship, sometimes anything but silent.  This time, however, we had only the one short message towards the end, a meditation on change and metaphors for what changes the least.

During social hour, I was befriended by a woman raised Catholic, and still very connected to the Grotto, a destination for visitors on the religious site loop, lots of Asians.  She's meticulous about extending her range and mobility, in the face of arthritis.  We agreed to meet at Laurelhurst Park after an interim.

My goal was to obtain a DVD copy of Eyes Wide Shut, by Kubrick.  I've recently seen a documentary about his life and film making process, which intersected other research. They had Clockwork Orange, which I saw a long time ago, but the former was only in Blu-Ray. I decided to get Westworld instead, the whole of season 1 for $5.  I've already seen a lot of it, but wondered about filling in some holes.

Upon returning home, on foot, having left the car at the meetinghouse, I checked on the remnants of a Facebook thread.  We'd been going at it about Alex Jones and whether it was a good idea for tech giants to do the bidding of political institutions which were themselves tasked with similar responsibilities.  Mark Zuckerberg had come under a lot of scrutiny during the Russiagate scandal.  Would Facebook have to arbitrate in every country where it found users?  That seems to be the direction.

"What if NATO pressured the Zucc to deplatform DPRK?" I queried.  "Should he pull the plug on Gulen just because he's ordered to do so by some tyrant?  I'd not want him to bow to such pressures that easily."  Paraphrasing from memory. I also plugged the new Gregory Brothers tune.

Anyway, the profile owner got nervous, apparently, and censored the whole thread, over a hundred comments from an assortment of political backgrounds, thereby making my point that adults would be seeking other venues besides Facebook.  We can't always keep it PG-13.  I left a few emoji behind and resolved to jot down a few notes in my blog.

After all this catching up on-line, and a shower, I was somewhat late back to Laurelhurst, but my new friend was still there, having met some new people, Asians I'm thinking, in the off-leash area.  We walked together back to her car. I got her business card, someone psychic.  That's Portland!

When I got back to the meetinghouse, the Peace and Social Concerns Meeting was still going on, in the tying off loose ends part.  Carol, mom, suggested some more action around the Ban Treaty (the shortened name), now in ratification phase.  About ten nation-states are on board, more expected.  Like Nike, they're trying to figure out the right side to be on, given history.

After the rise of meeting, when people were milling about and going downstairs, I buttonholed Barry, suggesting his campaign to lodge some specific 911 book in our library collection was too much of a short cut.  Chandler has put the most time into that concern, and has worked through the committee.  Barry comes somewhat infrequently and I don't think has that much insight into our reading patterns, or how we want to showcase them.  Some churches may get by without any library at all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

No Beer Diet

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I probably have other blog entries with this exact same title, or at least theme, as I periodically swear off beer as a way of losing weight.  It usually works, but there's always that first time, when it doesn't. I need to give it some more weeks and months.

My lifestyle is too sedentary as my presence is not required in the hinterlands.  Sure, I write about Extreme Remote Livingry and all the gizmos this entails, but then I write about bizmos too.  The writer doesn't always get immediate entre into her or his subject matter, even when the genre is non-fiction, investment banking even.

Tonight I joined Wanderers for open discussion.  We discussed the Dominicans and the history of antisemitism in the Catholic Church, not that I'm any big authority.  I brought up the Gospel of Judas I'd been learning about, thanks to National Geographic.  I did grow up in Rome and work for Dominicans after Princeton, which is how the topic arose in the first place.  Then we turned to a discussion of the solar system, which lasted most the rest of my time there.

Were I to draw a histogram of what we talk about, boat engines would dwarf almost everything else, especially if more than one boat owner is present.  Astronomy is also a high bar.  We're not to be confused with Talking Liberally, another meetup I've posted about.  That was at Lucky Lab.  I've not been to that group in many years.  More recently, I've attended Thirsters, which is more likely to get into politics against a backdrop of political history.

We did talk about dynasties and which presidential last names had been repeated e.g. Adams, Roosevelt, Bush.  We almost had two Clintons.  That would have been a first:  a husband, then a wife.  I joked about a Chelsea-Ivanka co-queendom, wherein all Senators would be women, all Representatives men.  The possibilities seem endless once we've broken free of the Constitution. This conversation came after the main meeting had already concluded.  Not that we're plotting to suspend the Constitution. That part seems pretty well taken care of, starting well before 911.  Praise Allah for autopilot, right? Meaning I'm glad we know how to keep going through the motions, of keeping America great.

The No Beer Diet does not entail giving up alcohol, just the habit of swilling two or even three pints on more days than I don't, sampling new IPAs or sticking with old favorites.  The other drinks I imbibe instead don't add up to the same calories, by a long shot, is the theory.  So far, that theory has proved out in practice.

During the main meeting, when I was talking about teaching high school for the Dominicans, I brought up Father Divine, the short black shaman deity figure who organized multi-racial hotel living centered around banquets.  He always seemed to walk his talk.  By the time I showed up, interested in the breakfast menu, Father had moved on, but I believe Mother Divine was still active, as she was quite a bit younger.  The Fairmont Hotel was kitty corner to St. Dom's, and I'd go there with other faculty for breakfast sometimes.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Summer Rollercoaster

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As we sail through August, mostly hot, today raining at last, I'm mindful of the ups and downs.  Time on the farm with Brenda and company was definitely up.  She's building the workshop.  We discussed Julian's success at getting his sculptures moved around, keeping the studio ready for more.  What a cornucopia.  Linus Pauling House was a first beneficiary, with Alpha Helix.

I've blogged about Brenda's farm before.  We took the picturesque route on the way out, towards Damascus, coming back through Boring on Hwy 26.

Today was Hawthorne Street Fair.  I always get steamed when Saturday Market vendors think they can impose "photos by request" values on a public street and filed a complaint about the one booth with such signage.  No, it's not one of the rules.  Steamed, but not doing much about it, and heading back to my charging cell phone, knowing Carol would be fine.

However, Carol was not fine.  She came back knowing someone had stolen her money, credit cards and cell phone.  What a disaster.  I canceled the lunch with Glenn and started dialing, thinking I would kill the cell phone and credit card first.  Just as I was making my choice to suspend with or without billing, I saw a red sack and knew intuitively she had prepacked these items with the intent to stow, but hadn't stowed, i.e. she'd left the house without 'em.

I reupped for the lunch with Glenn.  We also watched a National Geographic documentary on the Gospel of Judas, really well done, with professional reenactments, like the genre demands.

Apparently though, the phone robot got the message I wanted to suspend, so now it's up to me to restore service.  I'm in the middle of that process.

I'm active on Facebook these days, and on Medium.  I have a toehold in some alternative tech.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

BlacKkKlansman (movie review)

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In a stroke of genius (the kind of stroke we like) I realized I could invite people seeing this 3 PM matinee at the Bagdad to adjourn to my place for discussion.  I put out an invitation through the Meeting listserv working on racial justice.  That worked.  We had some interesting conversation in my living room, which gave me a lot more perspective.

For example, as the movie opens, we're panning back, revealing a tragic vista:  war wounded as far as the eye (camera) can see, with some woman picking through them looking for her doctor.  I remarked how this scene seemed obviously phony in the sense of cinematographic, a no-brainer observation on my part, given film had not evolved to this degree by Civil War times, duh.

Lori explained this was a scene lifted directly from Gone with the Wind.  That set the stage for a number of film excerpt citations, most notably from The Birth of a Nation, the Mein Kampf of Yankee racist films, President Wilson among its fans.

I sensed Spike Lee, the director, was keeping it obvious and in our faces that this is / was a film, which achieves authenticity not by fooling us into thinking its some kind of documentary, but by framing a tale and making sure we understand its message, its morals.

There's a clear cut villain, with a veneer of respectability, sewn together from the remnants of a shattered way of life.  In the meantime, the heroic blacks are still struggling to gain a sense of identity, starting over with new names in some cases.

We hear a white cop sneeringly refer to Muhammad Ali for opting out of his more local heritage, and taking a more African-sounding name.  We hear blacks express ambivalence and outright hostility to the Vietnam war.  Why fight "for freedom" overseas when it's really the home front that needs heroes?

Our black protagonist has always wanted to be a police officer and indeed he has the personal skills to fit in, his parents having raised him in a disciplined, military-flavored home.  He'd been to college instead of Vietnam, but shows signs he'll be obedient.  He gets along with his peers and quickly earns their respect, although the token bad apple cop is not going to earn ours.

We're glad when the bad apple cop gets his comeuppance.

The audience gets a lot of what it wants in this movie, if predisposed to support the Union and its melting pot values.  However in watching Klansmen cheer and hoot at The Birth of a Nation, we're aware, again, that movies are in the business of programming, using our biases and emotions as their raw material.

In acknowledging its own role as a movie with a point of view, destined for the pile of what gets re-watched a lot on Netflix (a film for the ages) it gives itself permission to hit our buttons and make its points, what movies do.

The choreography, almost musical, comes to the foreground near the climax, as the camera switches back and forth between an all black and all white audience, each in the act of propagating their lore.

The blacks are in a teach in listening to Harry Bellafonte describe the horrors of lynching.

The whites are inducting their new members by means of religious ritual.

The Klan scoops a lot of memes from Christianity, including its stereotypical attitude towards Jews, who killed Jesus (himself a Jew, as one of our Quakers pointed out).  The film is almost as much about hating Jews as hating blacks, and the impact of this hate on its targets.

The phoniness of the opening scene is traded for actual footage from the now infamous Charlottesville episode, a murder scene, towards the end.

We're given to understand that racism, and how racism impacts the police force, did not somehow die in the 1900s.  Not that anyone in our audience suffered from that illusion.

We would love to grow beyond this karma, but seem to be stuck in a lot of vicious circles, to put it mildly.  Feuds have a way of not fizzling.  Some in our discussion group expected things to get worse, before they get better.

Interestingly, David Duke is still around to give us reaction shots and is popping up on Youtube with his own analysis.  I've done some poking around, and will of course be doing a lot more.  Data mining in Youtube is what I do for a living it sometimes seems.

Having viewed this film, I'm now better positioned to follow the debates that bring it up. I would encourage others to view it for the same reason, as shared heritage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Borg R Us


I was reading about demoralization in the workplace a lot of today, focusing specifically on Carrier and Amazon.  For contrast, the National Geographic documentary on Coca-Cola bottling plants showed presumably well-paid workers proud of their responsibilities.

The Carrier people know their furnaces are in demand, but don't sense the parent company values them as people.  Mexicans know what that's like.  Corporate personhoods don't always relate to flesh and blood humans that well.  Welcome to the matrix.

I got a free AWS T-shirt at OSCON this time, and wore that around N. Mississippi, playing the part of a techie moving into one of the new apartments and gentrifying the hell out of that part of town.  In fact, my personal experience trying to drive an AWS go-cart (metaphor) was a wipe-out.  Nonetheless, I do promote the infrastructure to my OST-RU buddies.  That's a science fiction template code school built on the model of a travel agency booking charter flights (classes).

In other words:  we are Borg.

I allude the that sense of complicity, of collusion, we all feel as Amazon Prime users.  I canceled mine but that doesn't count, as I piggy-back on family.  The physics books I got through the Amazon database recently was not shipped Prime, but it was definitely paid through Amazon.  Someone, somewhere, had to run around some giant warehouse at my behest, maybe needing a break, a vacation, a little job security.

What the AI people miss is the worker is not so much feeling apprehension about the coming AI revolution and the jobs that will steal, as they feel the robot takeover is already complete and their existential worth as human beings is null and void.  They feel like wage slaves. Meanwhile, we are Borg.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Changes

I've been using my Facebook profile rather publicly, giving the world more insights into my state of mind.  I may go back to using it that way down the road, but for now I'm removing Facebook from my blog links and closing the profile to the public.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Updates from PDX

Regarding news of the day, I'm happy to have joined Truckers without Borders on Facebook and am seeing lots of interesting posts.  I'm looking forward to a meetup with my "truckology" mentor in about a week.  By then I'll have started teaching a next class.

The Portland-Shiraz sister cities discussion has to do with more than just high tech and roses (also high tech) in my book, in that I'm eager to compare notes on pure geometry.  Mathematicians like to play sometimes.  We already have a large body of mathematical art collected.

The business was notified by the IRS that my documents have been received.  They're still mulling stuff over.  I'll be sending in some self-withheld self-employment taxes soon.  I need to keep enough to pay the local property tax, which is pretty steep in Asylum District.  I'm a homeowner there.

I'm still thinking about OSCON and what I learned.  Open Source is at the heart of a lot of the economy, doing closed source things.  That's not a new paradigm.  Everyone has screwdrivers and drills, but what they do with them may be shrouded in secrecy.  That being said, unless you show people what you're doing, they'll happily learn from someone else.  Invest in future friends.

Speaking of future friends, I understand that focusing on election outcomes can be a waste of time, when the politicians in question are pretty much stuck at the Common Core level.  Qualifications for political jobs are minimal, as we've seen.  DC is pretty vain, thinking social engineering has to be focused on them.  Just saying.

That being said, I'm following the local campaigns and do plan to exercise my voting rights.  In my region of Cascadia, we vote by mail.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Sermon

Rather than beat 'em, I join 'em, as who needs all that beating anyway.  I'm talking about the cadre that delivers sermons, as from a pulpit, which might as well be a lectern.

When it comes to dogma, anyone is capable of barking out some truth, unreflectively and by the book. But what's the point of suppressing free speech?  Let the spewers spew, while reserving your right to change channels.

In other words, rather than fulminate regarding how others seize the privilege (of sermonizing) I'll dutifully get in line to deliver my Lightning Talk when the occasion is appropriate.

My boilerplate sermon (oft preached) centers around God having real problems with his Creation, to where He has to take strict measures even before Genesis is over.

He bans Adam & Eve from Eden, or rather they're self disqualifying in some way.  Then he floods the place, saving precious little DNA:  just that of Noah and his family, along with the non-humans that they rescued.

So Noah's offspring were very deficient in the biodiversity department and highly susceptible to groupthink.  They succumbed to the flat Earth vision of an infinite plane (plain) and God Above, looking "down".  To reach God, then, they reasoned, build a tall tall tower.

Their hunger to connect with the deity was commendable, even endearing, but once again the humans were on the wrong track.  Blasting off into outer space atop a Saturn V or whatever, would need to come later, much later.  By then, the chief lesson would have been learned.

God had promised no more major cataclysms, though in later Plague Days some may have wondered if He'd changed his mind.

The intervention he'd need for this mono-culture was pretty brilliant:  just don't let them all get on the same page.  End the ability of humans to establish a single, totalitarian consensus reality (some singular Reich) once and for all.  Thwart imperialism.  Keep it chaotic, though not entirely without rhyme or reason.

Again, the lessons to be learned are geometric in nature:  the planet is not an infinite plane, but a ball, and God needs humans to realize this fact.

Some say our eating the apple was coming to know of the world's roundness and that wasn't really a  sin.  Rather, a self-serving intelligence community, a priest caste, wanted to keep such knowledge secret and conspired to make a religion out of keeping us ignorant.

Without buying into this particular heresy, we're still able to appreciate the intentional nature of our Diaspora.

As a chosen people (humanity, on this particular Eden planet) we were to understand our relationships to one another in terms of networks, not top-down pyramids.  Cybernetics and Deep Ecology would eventually seep into our thinking, countering the conditioned reflexes of those "infinite plane" landlubbers.

The Diaspora in the wake of the Tower of Babel incident meant removing our fixation on some singular Z axis, a common pecking order.

Civilization would be multi-polar, henceforth.

Hallelujah and Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tredding Water

I'm keeping my head above water at least, figuratively speaking.  Teaching Patrick's course is a good workout but strenuous in some sense.  I'm the Mr. Professor character, holding forth, but sometimes I experiment, take risks, and fall on my face in so doing.  I figure having students watch me flail a little, is truth in advertising, where learning to code is concerned.

In this case, what bit me in the butt was a missing commit after a bunch of SQL inserts, meaning none of the records were actually saved, appearances to the contrary.  My implementation of a context manager in Python, characteristically about connecting to and disconnecting from a database, failed to list out the expected dogs, because in fact, the dogs table was empty.  Live and learn.  I see what I need to do to fix the code.  However it'd be great to fix it in the master copy, as every session starts fresh from that source.

Lindsey Walker is my house guest again, but for only hours, not years, this time.  She's enroute from her academic lifestyle in Corvallis, Oregon, to another set of self disciplines in Kathmandu.  Religious studies.  Lots of ritual, Sanskrit, yoga, dance moves.  You'll find lots of entries about LW in my blogs.  We're heading out to the airport shortly.

Last night, we dropped in on Wanderers, where Barry was sharing about his southern hemisphere vacation.  However Carol (mom) was seeking to navigate her way to the pharmacy, pushing her walker, so Walker and I decided our higher calling was to supervise that process, after which we sought out Patrick, the original author behind the course I've been teaching, every day this week, from 7 AM until 1:45 PM.  We work on an East Coast timezone.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Aftermath

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Events that gather momentum, like some meditation retreats, like OSCON, don't then just dissipate to nothing immediately upon close.  People radiate back into their lives, sharing vibes they picked up.  Ripple effects.

I wandered Mt. Tabor with a friend, stumbling upon piano in the park. Ramona was there, and explained a little.  One of the improvisors was her student.  A duet.

We watched the sunset together and went our separate ways, me down the steep steps I'd come up, the recently upgraded flight from the lower to upper reservoirs.

Mt. Tabor's reservoirs are decorative and historic and make for cool lakes of Bull Run water, gravity fed to the city by some Uru technology, other-worldly, more Narnia than not.

As evidence of OSCON putting me in a trance, I rushed out to Best Buy for a bigger brighter monitor. I ripped through the TV stuff to get to my desktop where I watched documentaries about container shipping.  I'm studying the trucking end of that business.

You'll be asking yourself what Open Source Convention has to do with "truckology" or container shipping.  One answer is transportation is data intensive.  Truckers use apps and GPS.  Another answer is cloud architecture is all about "containers" these days, talking Docker and Kubernetes.

For those unsure of what I'm talking about:  after the PC revolution (personal computers), then Free Software (Revolution OS), came Cloud Computing, which we're still exploring.  One puts components together in new architectures.  Microsoft is happy to let you spin up an instance of Ubuntu on Azure.  That's the new world.

Missing from the picture was how to bring the cloud into the world of the work-study Global U student trucker, the coder behind the wheel.  Code schools were springing up all over.

One could move from driving to programming, without necessarily changing knowledge domains.  Keep thinking about trucking, just more from a back office angle.  Or go the other direction, from a pod to a cab.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

OSCON at Twenty

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OSCON is waxing nostalgic on its 20th.  Tim O'Reilly expressed his pleasure in being back in Portland, though maybe bringing some Texas weather.  For sure.

From humble beginnings in UNIX culture, free and open source culture took off and now (semi-secretly) powers the economy.  Heavy hitters come to OSCON seeking to recruit new devs.

At OMSI last night, some of the OS community expressed their sense of OSCON closing in around core devs and seeming less accessible in terms of providing a more Maker Faire style front end.

That's not a new development, as OS migrated to the cloud, where it gets configured into proprietary back ends, inherently closed, but with components contributed back to the community.  The cloud world is dominated by big name monopolies, sometimes abbreviated FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google).

Tim O'Reilly wondered from the stage whether the cloud companies were becoming too greedy around empowering themselves at the expense of others, versus catalyzing new synergies and surfing on network effects.

The question need not be posed in terms of morals, unless one sees ethics in engineering as a restatement of scientific principles.  "We're doing science" said Tim, which means experimenting to find what works.

Generosity (definition goes here) is a component of long term business strategy, and more than airy fairy investment in "good will" per the old school economics textbooks.

Morning Coffee

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Elementary School

Had Wittgenstein been in a position to avail himself of computer languages, as his student Alan Turing was starting to do, would he have found these sufficient to make his points regarding rule following in mathematics, or would he have taken the position that some formal logic, woven by not-computer-scientist philosophers, was essential fabric?  I'm thinking he'd have found our world of programming languages sufficient for his purposes.

In Synergetics we see non-executing notations referred to as "empty set" versus another category of math notation as "operational". His math is of the latter type and seems destined to run on computers, both in serial and in parallel processes and threads.  In the meantime, there's plenty of prose to munch on and run neurally, in search of tips and clues regarding generic heuristics.  "Think in terms of planets" might be among the mantras we come away with.  In other words:  mnemonics that employ connected graphs in biospheres will help you play World Game more effectively.  Peter Sloterdijk helped pave the way.

The challenge in elementary schools is to expand their horizons to needing to wrangle large numbers of numbers.  That doesn't necessarily mean the numbers themselves have to be large.  Imagine of herd of a billion numbers, all primes, plus negative one, and low order primes at that, no well established RSA number factors.  Those would be too large.  It's the billions and billions of numbers we need to work with.  Store them.  Process them.  Save them.  Return to them later.

Fortunately, none of these challenges are extremely new and without precedent.  Businesses have always needed to track inventories, large and small, and to measure capabilities.  The physics and chemistry world is keeping track of atoms and molecules, in terms of moles, in terms of various measures.  Even individual molecules may be tagged and made to fluoresce.  The mathematics of large quantities is ancient history.  We just need more of it in the early grades.  Supermarket Math to the rescue.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Nomenclature

Gregory Bateson, the systems theorist and anthropologist, recognized the emergence of Cybernetics as one of the major landmarks in human history.  However, "Cybernetics" per se (the word itself), like "Biosphere", has not enjoyed the wide currency many expected.

That doesn't mean Gregory Bateson was wrong, only that the precise language used is highly mercurial vs-a-vs the less fickle concepts themselves. Systems that auto-tune in the presence of an environment, in order to optimize various capabilities, don't have to be identified as "cybernetic" in order for them to get their work done.

General Systems Theory (GST) actually includes an appreciation for "word meaning trajectories" meaning we track the significance of words in semantic space, and not just according to their frequency (common versus esoteric).

The concepts to consider here:  biases, weights, precession.  The first two seem obvious and show up in linear algebra specifically.  The latter, precession, is borrowed from Synergetics, often lumped with Cybernetics (for good reason) and has to do with the curvilinear paths (the geodesics) formed in the presence of feedback loops, tensor fields, some of which may be self reinforcing (e.g. the "vortex" pattern).

Planets were originally conceived of as "wanderers" because from the standpoint of Earth, their orbits are not simply elliptical, as they are from the standpoint of a Galilean observer, looking from outside the solar system.  Picking the viewpoint from which bodies in motion have a simplest set of relationships is a non-trivial application of machine learning. At least metaphorically, the fixed point theorem applies: there's an identity function hiding in a forest, like a singular tree.

Machine learning is somewhat like fine tuning an ear to hear, inside a chamber with characteristic frequencies we hope to detect.  Train your ear while creating a track record, a history, of improvement, thanks to feedback loops.  Then correctly categorize new sounds, as evidence that you've practiced some generic skill and aren't helpless outside the training cocoon. In today's Tensorflow tutorial we distinguished training, validation and testing data.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Forks in the Road

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Regarding the Friday 13th indictment of Russian nationals, the talk of the town in this chapter (except for the World Cup, which is on at the moment, last day), we're seeing a fork in the road when it comes to the readership, itself a small percentage of those who care.

Reader A is seeing all the details sprinkled therein, with specific servers in Arizona and Illinois, unit numbers within the GRU, and of course specific names, and is impressed, ready to believe.  Knowing the indictment is unlikely to result in a trial, Reader A is willing to presume the story is true, skipping that step (a trial with evidence), and go from there.

Reader B is thinking of Colin Powell's detailed presentation regarding Iraqi WMDs ("aluminum tubes") and may in general have the view that a big part of spy stuff is crafting stories to look believable ("yellow cake").

The assassination of JFK comes to mind as well (I've been watching Jerry Kroth's latest).  Some people even don't believe the moon landings happened (I think they did).  They're skeptics by nature, especially around anything Cold War flavored.

These are not the only two camps of course.

For example, Reader C may think, like Reader A, that the story holds water, is probably true, but we should be thanking Russian intelligence for doing the job investigative journalists no longer do.

Reader D thinks more like Reader B, but also thinks the intelligence community is now global and this is its way of moving conflicts between major powers out of nuclear hot war space and into the cyber arena, which is for the better.

I haven't even mentioned Nine Eleven and probably should.  Once again, major events that have changed the face of history, do not always build much consensus.

People agree on the magnitude but not on the significance.  The many mutually conflicting stories cancel each other out to some degree.  For example, as a student of Col. Fletcher Prouty, I don't believe the Gary Powers U2 was "shot down".

Understanding these forks in the road helps with analysis as we move forward, as it becomes easier to understand people's thinking when we remember we don't share the same past.

As for me personally, I have some sympathy for Readers B and D, but want to keep an open mind.

The indictment suggests Guccifer 2.0 is a persona, not a person, and that part I'm thinking might be true, but then who invented him?  He seems to have implicated the GU rather overtly, with those Word templates.  If he was a Russian invention, he was not that smart.

Reader A and Reader B therefore have some overlap.  Reader A thinks the Russians have been caught red handed (retro pun intended) precisely because they were sloppy about the coverup.

Stories that Guccifer 2.0 was actually a disguise for Russians came out well before the indictment.  People doing searches will again reach different conclusions.  Reader A sees a consistent story shaping up.  Reader B sees collusion as a cabal seeds the media.

I'm probably sympathetic to Reader B because I don't think politicians in the UK did a convincing job of proving Russians poisoned the Skripals with fancy nerve agent.  Nor did I buy the following April, 2018 chemical weapons attack story in Syria.  The debunkers seemed more credible.

I do think people make stuff up to incite sentiments and also to increase that sense of being under surveillance.  I believe that's a big part of spy craft:  writing believable science fiction.

I think those in a prosecuting / investigative role have little choice but to press forward with their story.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  The goal should be to tie off loose ends.

For example, the "AMS panel" in Arizona maybe counters a line of reasoning raised by some retired NSA types suggesting the metadata was inconsistent with any transcontinental data transfer.  The indictment adds that the files were compressed.

These details go towards addressing the "leak versus hack" forking, providing more ammo to Reader A.

What I noticed in the forty eight hours following the release of the indictment was how hard it was to find any official Russian reaction.  This was not a focus of any of the news stories I could find, but for a paragraph here and there.   We'll likely be getting more along those lines in the next few days.

I'm more interested in the Russian counter-spin than on whatever CNN has to say.  I prefer RT to CNN, any day, thanks to the Americans who work for RT USA.

I'll go upstairs now and see if I can find the World Cup on Fox.  I'm in the Steve Holden Chair of Computer Science in my living room, which is propped up with a log in the back.

Carol, my 89 year old mom, is trying to get ready in time for Quaker meeting, however I don't see us getting there in time, even though my car is back from repairs at K&M near 50th and Division.  We'll likely make it for social hour.

Congratulations France.  I managed to catch just the last five minutes.  Someday I'm hoping to go back and watch a compilation of highlights, from all the games.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Headline News

Headline news in my subculture is Guido van Rossum (GvR) is stepping down as BDFL (Benevolent Dictator for Life) of the Python community.

In practice, Guido had final say over what PEPs were accepted (PEP = Python Enhancement Proposal), however he discovered winning approval for a recent PEP to be an exhausting process.

Stepping down after winning a grueling battle (assignment expressions are to appear in Python 3.8) is probably a good way to make an exit.  Guido deserves a vacation.  He's not disappearing from the scene.

An issue for most dictators is they have no exit strategy, or they appoint a heir to the throne.  Python's community will need to reinvent its own system of governance going forward.

Guido deserves praise, not only for his skills as a language designer, but as a community organizer.

Chris Angelico and Tim Peters were also behind this PEP.  I've read it through and see the logic of adding this new feature.  Like other Python semantics, it might be inelegantly abused by some.  That's no argument for not including it.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Remembering Lisa

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The meetinghouse was full on this occasion, with both Multnomah and Bridge City Friends, and a lot of Sisters, a Catholic order based in Mt. Angel (about fifty miles south of Portland) that allows lay participants, known as Oblates.  Lisa was one of those as well.

I only attended Bridge City a few times in the last year.  Great seeing so many familiar faces, and chatting with some of them.  Greetings Dave Fabik, Ron Braithwaite, Jane Ewert, Gail Sanford... Betsey Kenworthy (I'm mixing the meetings).  Janet Jump.

People remembered Lisa as especially real, authentic.  She made a big impression that way.  She was devoted to non-humans, took care of pets, including her own several.  She loved dogs and cats.  Her authenticity likely traced to her living with beings of so little guile.  Mischievous but not phony, these fellow travelers.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Cyber Tourism

Much as I'm in favor of actual tourism, there's much to be said for getting to know one's world from the comfort of some home base.  When physically touring, there's usually less possibility of integrating into some local lifestyle, like an anthropologist.  A cyber tour guide, on the other hand, may take you on some more intimate journey.

For example, my Twitter feed this morning was about following the adventures of an old lady needing new glasses and going to "America's Answer to Communism" for this purpose.  Those were vice president Richard Nixon's words, in a speech at the dedication.  The Cold War was about showcasing what competing socioeconomic systems might do for their participants.

Americans were going to wait less for a greater abundance of goods than ever, to the point of instant gratification in some cases.  Citizens of the USSR, their economy deeply wounded by two world wars, were lining up longer for fewer goods.  Then came Sputnik, the satellite.  Were they studying harder?  Was their mathematics better?  The space race was on.

The old lady was able to schedule her eye exam for an hour later.  Medicaid paid a lot of the $89.  The frames were $170.  The frames industry is a known scam with lots of history behind it.  Where systems compete is in their ability to provide stakeholders with basic care, including eyeglasses, some dental.  Veterans get less dental benefits than many suppose.  My American War buddy Glenn had to resort to a low cost cash only dentist, with inexpert help.

The Lloyd Center has apparently turned off all its public-facing electrical plugs.  I have a Mac Air from O'Reilly Media, where I used to work, that has to be plugged in, and no it's not a battery problem.  I've been able to plug in at Lloyd in the past, but not today.  I'm taking refuge in a nearby McMenamins (where Thirsters meet, more Peace Corps connections) with plugs and WiFi, while the old lady, my mom, gets her new lenses ground.

The Chinese Peace Corps plan to give free eyeglasses and dental care to Detroit's underserved, sounds a lot like science fiction.  Seeing is believing in that case.  I went to some meetings at Wayne State some years ago, about whether military welfare was the way to go.  The US military is a major experiment in military socialism.  Every time someone joins, they're saying civilian life in a democracy is too precarious.  In the military, one takes orders and shares property owned by the state.  Some health care is available.

Cyber tourists might even get inside some military or another, not as spies necessarily but as welcome witnesses to a friendly service.  Given today's telecommunications, there's no reason militaries can't lurk in on one another's high level meetings.  A "tour of duty" doesn't have to mean lots of time flying in some jet.

Portland, where the Lloyd Center is based, has a lot of eggs in Refugee Camp Science.  I'm not sure what OSU and University of Oregon offer, specifically, in terms of degree track preparation.  "EPCOT West" has been one of my media campaign operations, aimed at highlighting our focus on working with refugees.  MercyCorps has sent a speaker or two to Wanderers (Linus Pauling House) over the years.

What's it like trying to get an eye exam and eye glasses in a refugee camp?  That all depends on the camp.  Are we talking Palestine?  Cyber-tourism helps the Chinese Peace Corps figure out where they're most needed.  You don't have to leave Beijing to follow an old lady around in Portland, seeing whether she's able to score a pair of glasses.  How about in Detroit?

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Six-Hearted Sex

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Some of our heavyweights turned out for a science talk on octopus sex this morning, July 4th, as is our freedom.

The octopus favors deeper waters, say two hundred feet on average, or at least that's true of the species we're looking at.  They occupy all levels actually, including the shallows.  These creatures contain venom as a defense. Sometimes the little guys are the most deadly.

We use the term mantle to refer to the gut sack, connected to one side of the head. The octopus has multiple hearts, one associated with each gill funnel (mantle openings, or intake valves), and one more centrally located.  Two octopus ("octopi" is wrong) equals three plus three hearts, hence the title for this talk.

One exhaust port takes care of everything going out, including deoxygenated water. There's a mouth of course, lips around a beak right at the center of the radiating arms.

The arms are called hectocotles (with ligula at the ends) and one of gets involved in reproduction, when a male pulls a spermataphor from its own funnel and places it through a gill opening into an ovaduct.  Arms are not tentacles.  The octopus has no tentacles, technically.

Each spermataphor contains billions of sperm cells.

The oviducal gland nurtures the sperm for maybe six months or more. A given octopus may have been fertilized through both gills meaning both sperm incubators might be active.

Hariana Chilstrom is our presenter. She worked for many years with the Seattle Aquarium. She knows many of the creatures in her pictures by name.

In our discussion list she wrote:
Although there are thousands of invertebrates with crazy, sexy lives that live largely unnoticed by most people, octopus are animals that most folks recognize. But there’s a lot of misinformation about them, much of it involving anatomical inaccuracies that affect descriptions of the mating process. “Six-Hearted Sex,” is based on first hand observations, studies with a cephalopod expert for ten years, and research from primary sources.
Potential mates sniff each other out for a protracted period.  They're discriminating and in the wild have a choice of several partners.  They don't always get along.  Sometimes they run away from each other.  Sometimes cannibalism occurs.

If they do mate, the process may last for some hours (say four). Some researchers theorize the male ligula may even scoop out sperms injected by a previous male.  That's speculation however is a pattern seen elsewhere in Universe.

Placing the eggs in clusters and guarding them until they hatch (if all goes as planned).

Males tend to go crazy or lose their will to live or whatever in older age, becoming fish food in open waters, especially for sea lions in the Pudget Sound area.  The females tend to die in their caves.

The octopus has a reputation for being very intelligent.  They have big eyes and a large visual cortex. It's believed their vision is monochrome, but high resolution.  They've been known to blow bubbles and chase them, indicative of playfulness.

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Monday, July 02, 2018

Fifty Years of Sixty Minutes

Deke phoned me last night just as this program was coming through broadcast media. Although I have optical fiber with television signal, I use a digital antenna. My home sports a satellite dish, but it's not turned on.  Remember when you see vistas of Medieval cities sporting dishes, that only some of them are able to tune in.  Great to get a look back.

Yeah, Iraqis weren't lying, and were being ripped off leading up to the first Gulf War from the point of view of national sovereignty. But nations are more just for show in those regions of the world, there for the benefit of TV viewers.  If you're an historian of this period, don't neglect to dig deep.

The show stumbled a few times.  I've talked about that elsewhere.

An irony with active journalists like that is they wouldn't get to play at that level if they were major couch potatoes, and yet TV depends on couch potatoes for its budget.  At some point, couch potatoes start resenting their own lives in front of the TV and switch off, seeking adventure.

TV programmers, like computer programmers, have to walk a thin line, as if they make their worlds too engaging, they create a matrix people sense is hypnotic and seek defenses against.  Good people, the kind we want to buy our consumer items and take our drugs.  "Make TV good, but not too good" is the rule.  60 Minutes has been perilously too good at times.