Thursday, October 10, 2019


I've gone on and off beer a few times, however not on moral grounds, so much as for health reasons (for going on, not just off). When I go off beer, I up other alcohol beverages, keeping it constant, more or less.

This is not health advice, and I'm no medical doctor.  Call me a witch doctor if you like, but to me that just means I'm not hanging out a shingle, as one who wants to be persecuted for practicing voodoo or whatever shamanistic science (oxymoron alert!).

I'm just another Quaker who likes beer, and who takes pride in Quaker breweries, if the beer is any good.

Anyway, I was at one of my regular watering holes with a friend I'd not seen in a long time, on her way back to an important career, which had sent her here for a conference.  I introduced myself casually to one of the bar customers, and started yakking with the bartender.  My friend took up with the stranger and they talked on and on and on.

Well of course it turned out later that my friend had mistaken my casual introduction to a stranger, for a nod to a well-known friend.  She thought in sharing her life with this guy, she was likewise filling me in, as he and I would be talking later.  I doubt I'll ever see him again.

Another time on the same visit, my friend got my mother talking about her childhood and sharing stories I hardly ever, if ever, have heard.  Not pleasant stories (about how her older brother was killed when he roamed out in a new neighborhood to explore a construction site) but also not often heard.  However my friend assumed mom frequently told this story, and that I'd heard it many times before.

I think that's what old friendships, renewed much later in time, sometimes engender:  new forms of misunderstanding that aren't necessarily damaging, more like instructive. 

I mean, you're free to put a negative spin on just about anything uncomfortable, but if you're able to afford a positive spin, you'll be propelled into new fun adventures.

Or such is the PR.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Studying Ancient Lore

Those already inner circle to "the gossip" know Python, the computer language, got its name from Monty Python, the famous Anglophone comedy troupe. Where did the latter get its name? Ah, well now, feel free to dive down that rabbit hole.

In the meantime, we have the ancient Greeks in the background, with their hallucinogenic (?) rotting snake carcass, if we're to believe the myth, not that myths are designed to be believed (not by Protestants anyway, after what all they've done to that word).

I'm referring to the famous myth of Apollo, who displayed adult masculine qualities quite early in his youth, one of his first feats being the heroic protection of his mother, Leto, and Zeus's ex.  Apollo slew the great Python that the new Mrs. Zeus (Hera) had sicced on Leto, Zeus being his dad.

True also, is Athena enjoyed cult status among the Delphians and her lineage potentially traces back to sybils (female seers) well before the Pythian ones were installed to serve Apollo.  Vapors rising from the rotting Python under Mt. Parnassus is what supposedly gave them powers.

We might use Athena's story as a portal back to a more Amazonian root, wherein women were known to handle snakes (symbolic of their healing power).  Yes, we're somewhat talking about Wonder Woman here, invented later, but with the same Greek pantheon for a backdrop.

Spreading such lore in North America, today, is more the business of the comic book and blockbuster entertainment business, than it is of any practicing cult.  A Python programmer is more likely to absorb memes such as these through pop culture than through anything like formal scholarship.  The latter is about studying myths as these were cast in ancient times.  Contemporary broadcasting is something else entirely.

Apollo is conventionally cast as the archetypally rational, but at what cost?  Some young anglophone gents I was listening to on Youtube, suggested Europe had struck a Faustian bargain to obtain a rationalist enlightenment, at the cost of its soul (Philemon).  Goethe, Nietzsche and others were hoping to revitalize the moral fiber (which translates into morale in many ways), but the collective madness of world wars proved overwhelming.

Contrasting the Apollonian with the Dionysian has become cliche. Indeed, Apollo took off at the end of autumn, allowing the Dionysians to see Delphi through the winter.  Apollo would return in the spring.  The arrangement, from this distance (21st Century) seems symbiotic.  Athena, going back to the original Gaen wisdom, is in her furious form more a Medusa herself.

I'd be off base to suggest I'm alone in my willingness to connect Python, the computer language, to the mythological lore.  From the early days, Medusa was a way to deal with the tangle of asynchronous programming, which reinvented itself as Twisted, and then in the Standard Library, as asyncio.

What Apollonians might call "rot" (as in "rots the brain") is to others the sweet vapor of insight, conferring oracular or ocular powers (points of view) upon the Muse inspired programmer.  Athena is the goddess of crafts, including military (e.g. arts, including martial).  She helps with the process of individuation, within the minds of her PyLadies (Pythians).

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Looking Back on Coding

Coding interactively is a rather different experience than coding "off line" (as it were), then running source through a compiler, then testing the results.  I learned to appreciate that difference early, as I had FORTRAN and PL/1 in my face even as I was using APL (Kenneth Iverson's) from the terminal.

Given how enamored I was with using an interactive shell, more like Logo's, it stands to reason I would follow the dBase "dot prompt" in the direction of FoxPro, and then Visual FoxPro (VFP), which the language eventually became under Microsoft's dominion.

However, those more well-versed and well-rounded, know it's not either/or, given Python itself is written in C, and extended in C++ and all that.  The joy of running C code interactively is what Python is all about, one could say.  Furthermore, it's somewhat inaccurate to say interactive languages don't feature a compilation step.  We have the bytecode layer, and a virtual machine (such as Java's) to think about.

Be that as it may, I stayed with the more interactive environment, which has more recently evolved into the Notebook environment.  Steve Holden was nudging me to look at those early on, and I did, but just a little.  I've subsequently come to better appreciate their significance, along the lines of that article in Atlantic Monthly.

In addition to an interactive chat-like "dot prompt" or "prompted" environment (now sported by JavaScript thanks to Node, right?), another feature that makes language learning so much easier (in my experience) is something concrete and visual, in your face, to code against.  I'm talking about everything from physical robots to virtual on-screen turtles.  Just having something there in the sandbox to play with, that's palpable, is a big aid to comprehension.

Eventually, we come to see a lot of what we're controlling "inside our heads" (goes the expression) and so may be less dependent on training wheel visuals.  If you're into rendering colorful geometries on screen, or fractals or what not, then "leaving the visualizations behind" is not a goal, let alone much of an option.  Under visualization comes plotting (making plots, charts), so it's not like having colorful, shapely output is that esoteric a fascination.

I think a lot of us will agree that a sea-change occurred with the evolution of the web browser atop the internet, given tcp/ip works inhouse as much as publicly.  Why not make the user GUI an HTML defined experience?  Indeed, that would become the norm, even though the web browser itself is what we'd call a "thick" application.  Given how it spreads to look through almost every API out there, we could call it "thin" (a lot for a little, more with less).

However, a subsequent revolution after that, was the evolution of the smartphone-based app.  The general purpose browser is still there, but the special purpose client-side application is again a driving thing.  I didn't jump into the app business.  I'm not that fascinated by tiny screens.  I stayed with Python, especially teaching it, while gradually moving more into video-casting as a medium.  Given my focus on geometry, it makes sense that I'd gravitate to a "show and tell rectangle" more like a movie theater's.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

On Turing, Coding, and Gender

Thanks to greater STEAM-PATH integration, intersecting on A (for Anthropology), I'm able to segue to and from Engineering and issues around gender, pronouns and stereotyping.

In the School of Tomorrow, you're chugging along in cryptography when, boom, you're looking at white supremacist propaganda or some other flavor Social Darwinism.  We don't shy away from social issues, just because we're focusing on maths.  Who has that luxury?

That being said, when we do buckle down and focus on code, it's against the backdrop of a more relaxed philosophy, meaning we know we're free to think globally, even while coding locally.

The Python community has had to wrestle with Codes of Conduct already, so it's not like we're new at this game.  You may be able to find some public archives wherein we've done some of our processing (search on Python Software Foundation).

Friday, August 30, 2019

Recruiting and Orientation (Back to School series)

Nothing too fancy here.  Some homegrown Oregonian response to the real Fuller challenge:  how to get this newer stuff integrated.  I show by example.

For those just joining us, we've been recently investigating an extension of the Wayne Roberts' "etu" idea (equilateral triangular units) to the "etu" of Bucky Fuller's Synergetics ("equilateral tetrahedral units"), a core concept in so-called Martian Math.

I'm somewhat bumbling along in this one (below), reiterating how three edges a, b, c multiplied, give abc the volume  by "closing the lid" in a tetrahedral model of multiplication.

 What are the practical applications? A better understanding of American literature you say?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

More Film Analysis

Analyzing old films like this is a common pass time on Youtube.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Wanderers Happening

:: Hawthorne Street Fair ::

I'm calling what's happening tonight a "Wanderers Happening" while being deliberately vague on what that means. We've never gone with a membership roster.  Dues were for the coffee fund.

You'll have seen the drift into video as my medium of choice a lot of the time.  I appreciate the bandwidth and the different blend of skills.  We learn by doing.  Since I'm doing stuff like teaching online anyway...  staying in practice.

The venue is not Linus Pauling House nor anywhere in Asylum District, and no, not at the gallery either, although that seems to be coming along.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wiring in Heidegger

As a matter of historical fact, I was one of those students in Walter Kaufmann's philosophy classes not long after Martin Heidegger died, in 1976, the year of my high school graduation.

Kaufmann has been identified as a "forgotten philosopher" (not by me anyway) by Wes Cecil on Youtube, whom I also follow.  Not to be confused with Stuart Kaufman of Santa Fe Institute, Walter was a native German who immigrated to the United States and joined its military to fight the Nazi party, which Heidegger had by then joined.

One of Walter's chief missions in life as a translator was to bring to German writings a fresher more contemporary English.  He tackled translating Frederick Nietzsche's writings and devoted himself to disentangling this corpus from what the Nazis later did with it.  He was fighting the Nazis even then.

He tackled translating a lot of other German writers as well, including Goethe.

I finished my BA degree in 1980 having written a thesis on Wittgenstein's stuff, with Rorty an adviser. Victor Preller was my main Wittgenstein teacher.

C.J. Fearnley asks the question, as to what criteria to apply when mining in philosophy. 
My question was: can I read, study, embrace, and even love the ideas of someone with such connections to Nazism? It is a difficult question, reasonable people may disagree.
Does it matter if some parts of a philosophy stink?  Maybe not.  We mine stinky, sometimes toxic stuff for real in the Earth, and then send it through supply chains to manifest in our own personal lifestyles as finished goods, theater props from prop inventory.

Lets "get off it" with Heidegger why not?  We talk about the "stink of Zen" a lot, yet respect it.

I'd tackled some Heidegger, despite Kaufmann's warnings (fruit never far from the tree etc.), but without serious tutelage.  I had a full docket as it was.  I wasn't looking into Buckminster Fuller much yet, either.  I just never got around to reading much Heidegger, nor listening to much Wagner, either.

My trajectory through philosophy took me into the Wittgenstein corpus, which I'll liken to a "particle accelerator" wherein words themselves develop "meaning trajectories" in semantic space.  Plus new ones (new words) pop up all the time, already deliberately self-entangled, such as Tylenol (medical space) and Corolla (motor vehicle space).

Weird right?  That I'm mentioning commercial brands?

My online philosophy mentions Pepsi a lot, investigating its "meaning" (just a dark colored carbonated liquid? -- I think not).  I'm influenced by advertising (especially Italian flavored) and mass media.  That means I see how action through language changes our coordination (think of dance numbers) and sense of timing (comic sense), over time.  Programming matters.

What impressed me as I emerged in the World Trade Center lobby, from the PATH train, that time, was how big business is metaphysical in flavor.  The displays were thick with diagrams of processes and workflows, as people strove to come to grips with the tenuous.  Business people don't call what they do philosophy or metaphysics, as marketing tells them not to.

Now that 21st Century philosopher Peter Sloterdijk embraces Fuller to some extent, if not the specific skeletal structure of Synergetics quite yet (the "concentric hierarchy"), and given he's considered a "next Heidegger" among some German language thinkers, I'll accommodate the fact that, even though I fly the Kaufmann flag (I like to think), in terms of combating creeping fascism (neo-Romanism?), Martin is by now a part of the team, a consultant, when it comes to "technology" and its meaning (and its dangers), going forward.

We'll be linking up with AI here somewhere, I'm sure.

Where Heidegger has also popped up on my radar, is back when I was tracking Hermenet (a company) and Fernando Flores, its founder.  Flores was partnering with Werner Erhard around various projects, per The est Graduate Review.

I could see where a Cult of Hermes might fit in, even as I've worked on my Cult of Athena programming (a kind of Narnia for me?) over the years. I was still in Jersey City at that time, having my fantasies about re-purposing The Stanley. I was into Synergetics by then, and in communication with Bucky.

A serious student of Fernando's,  Lorena Barba, recently delivered a keynote at a Pycon here in Portland, which closed some circuits for me in that direction as well.

Looking for Part Two of the above video?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Remembering CubeSpace

I was reminiscing about Cubespace recently, with a Golang startup guy, at one time located at the top of a US Bank building, but probably not the one you're thinking of, if you're thinking of one.  East side.  On Grand.

The point of Cubespace was cross-fertilization, which in horticulture is an important topic, as in gardening, but when it comes to tending a fragile open source ecology... we don't have much practice thinking in those terms.

I'll sidebar here to mention Sheri Dover popped up at OSCON, fond memories of our OMSI-side party the year before.  She knows horticulture and went to OSU for the purpose of studying it. Cross-fertilization would not be lost on her as an accelerator cornerstone.

The Ruby and Python meetups would be far enough apart to not mutually interfere with presentations, yet might be going on in parallel.  Universities foster synergy the same way, which is why maybe in a parallel universe a University of Portland might have made a Cubespace its priority.

We get the reality we get.

Today I imagine we would have Clojure and Golang groups adding to the mix, with more opportunities for all of us to lurk in on meetings.  I pick up Java going to Java meetups and just taking in whatever they say and do.  I'm not a missionary here to secretly convert anyone.  I'm brushing up on Java.

Perhaps a Language Palace will again materialize out of the mists.  Portland hasn't surrendered its forgotten crown of Open Source capital, bequeathed by Christian Science Monitor some decades ago.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Boosting Visibility

The Youtube channel has been wending its way through the details of C6XTY, as a way of familiarizing viewers, without needing to own the material (plastic in this case), with a space frame known to NASA space station designers as the octet truss.  Bell (the telephone guy) used it to make what he called "kites" (also towers).

A reason for those bends in the story line is Sam's decision to open a popup gallery in downtown Portland, just east of the North Park Blocks, between the US Customs House building, and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.  The Youtubes could mix in with other screen projections, as standalone movies (media files).  We won't need to stream over the network, in other words.  Visitors will have their own cell phones (if they so choose).

Tonight I found myself commenting on Willamette Week whereas not so long ago my commentary turned to Joe Rogan, Abby Martin the guest, with Oliver Stone and "Man X" among the topics.

Although I'm an older "pensive cowboy" type, reminiscent of some more high desert stereotype (an Oregonian from Redmond maybe?), I'm able to keep up with a lot of the big city banter, such as we find in Willamette Week regarding the latest developments on the punk scene.

I'm media-savvy enough to maybe have something new to say.  I get to be trendy, from time to time.

I'm touching the bases in the Youtube arena, shall we say.  I'm not going for megachurch status, in terms of viewership, however I do want to have my ducks sufficiently in a row to stay intelligible.  For that reason, more recent Youtubes, when not focused on the CCP, have been documenting 4D Solutions (the DBA) and the Oregon Curriculum Network (OCN), sculpting them to have clear definitions.

Working with the Lattice

The chronological sequence is more place-based, in that we saunter down SE Division apiece, establishing a role for a school in a neighborhood: both teach the history (of the place), and share it with students (including with people from far away, tourists).

In the blogged excerpt here, I'm skipping directly from "latticeWorks 1" to what might be considered its sequel. Making C6XTY is the focus in both, as a way into understanding our School of Tomorrow lattice (a major station stop).

Then I'm rounding it out with a followup on what I was thinking with regard to OMSI and the "whole number volumes" meme.