Sunday, February 25, 2024

Americana


From hanging out around the US Embassy in the Philippines, I developed an appreciation for how the State Department shares American culture overseas, at many levels. This enterprise involves scouting for quintessential Americana and packaging it for distribution in other cultures.

Along these lines, the international schools, rebranding from American, with some reverting, have a role in showcasing the latest curricula. Even if your kid is not American (your family is from Greece or Singapore) you might still admire the quality of an international school education, and so seek out this opportunity.

Buckminster Fuller has at times been a poster child for what's positive and promising about the USA. That his thinking is making a comeback, this time with more geometry savvy (beyond the domes and spheres) is going to help with America's reputation. "No, we're not all neocons" is the message, i.e. we don't all think like knuckle-draggers from some cartoon Stone Age. We're not the Flintstones.

Of course the sad truth is a lot of bedrock Americans are Flintstone types and march to the tune of the propaganda drummers. They're hooked on cable TV and the drugs pushed thereon. They've been programmed, more or less in the Quaker sense (where we value "unprogrammed" as an option). Putting a best foot forward need not mean covering up the truth, that we have other feet.

Of course everyone comes with programming. The question is whether one is still capable of auto-updating. The curriculum itself is a good example. Looking back from 2024, it should by now at least include Occupy and talk about BS jobs ala Dr. David Graeber

Or it might still be stone age. 

International school parents form a valuable test audience and focus group, given their above-average cultural sophistication.

Ironically, given what here sounds like anti-caveman talk, anti-Flintstone PR, we have these wedge-like objects (cite BEAST) that might be called "arrowheads" i.e. they have a sharpness to them, these A&B, T&E, S particles, ephemeral spatial partitions we practice our fractions with. 24As make a Tetra(D) and so on. 

The primitivity of the concepts (partitions in space) has a neolithic flavor and is suitable for initial uptake via elementary school, with further elaboration in higher grade levels. Bring on the surds!

However, we cannot always depend on a preoccupied, militarily-obsessed USG to take full advantage of its soft PR talents. Here, in this connection, Hollywood has been known to pick up the slack i.e. distribution networks in the private sector have their own ways of marketing curriculum content, if only tangentially in the form of commercials and product placements. 

If Zometool is taking off in China, this may have less to do with the American schools (for embassy brats, like I was to some extent), and more to do with the Chinese equivalent of QVC, the televised home shopping show. 

The Fuller stuff is potentially faddish periodically and independently of what the education schools are currently teaching (or more likely not teaching, if dinosaurs).

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Village Tweeter

Steering Committee

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Network Nations

Untitled

I took my usual virtual nations talk to Thirsters, and felt cued when Barbara brought up Tibet in connection with the forcible displacement of some of its people, the administrative institutions most of all, as these were seen to be in conflict with those of mainstream metropolitan China. 

Not all Tibetans were pushed out, not by a long shot, and Lhasa remains ethnically very Tibetan to this day. Yet Tibet itself is a Diaspora Nation, with headquarters in nearby India in Dharamshala.

I said diaspora nations were more futuristic in not insisting on seeing themselves projected on some world map as a large contiguous body of territory. A nation might be more like a powder, a spice, than a cut of meat, with campus facilities dotting the globe. Supranational corporations, religious sects, and some universities, already follow this discontinuous discrete design.

So what about a New Palestine, with facilities and subdivisions all over, including in Mesopotamia? What should be its policy towards the various religions?

My vision of New Palestine mirrors the old Palestine: Jews and Muslims living peacefully together, along with Christians and people who practice other religions. The Parliament of World Religions would hail New Palestine for sharing its ideals.

Jewish heritage individuals, as well as Christians, will be able to apply for citizenship and a passport and participate in the design of the state itself, side by side with the other social engineers. New Palestine will therefore not leave itself open to the charge of being just another "ethno-state" versus an "unum-state" as in "e pluribus unum". Islamic Studies will not be neglected, nor will use of Arabic or Farsi be in any way discouraged.

The Dalai Lama was offering similar visions from his headquarters in Dharamshala with respect to his host nation India. Why not pool the very best from every religious lineage, in a national curriculum that does not itself profess to be any particular religion. Wise advice.

One might call that "secular" but not in the sense of clamping down on the whole idea of religious lineages. What's secular are the dynamisms that frustrate any particular and singular ethnicity from seizing the reigns of power. 

New Palestine could be synonymous with a university. New Palestine University (NPU) has a ring to it, but if it allows for citizenship and issues passports, then it's clearly more than a typical U of today. It might have to stick with a conventional UN bureaucracy under the hood, but remember the UN itself issues recognized passports. 

Why not give every Palestinian a chance to self document and get a UN passport out of the deal, as well as expedited access to NPU facilities?  This kind of intake is of course difficult to carry out under conditions of siege and bombardment.

Nations that self aggrandize by engulfing territory owe a lot to the Doctrine of Discovery in some cases, and that rug has been pulled to some extent, as the Vatican repudiates it. 

The upshot may not be that "jigsaw puzzle piece nations", as I call them, get overthrown or trampled upon, so much as they dissolve to become more like diasporas themselves, meaning more dispersed, distributed, non-contiguous, and more inspiring of member loyalty because less dense and less slow.

We may soon become a world of network nations, amidst networks of other kinds. In the minds of some, we're there already.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

NFL Day

PWS 3745

The more correct name for today is Super Bowl Sunday. The big teams, having duked it out all season, have winnowed it down to two. 

Derek is coming over, a University of Oregon grad with a lot of knowledge about athletics and football. He's a former track star, long distance runner, now a veteran of the food business (from many angles). He has a lot of cool possessions, including flat screen TVs, and let me borrow one, a more contemporary alternative to my yesteryear's Sony Trinitron CRT (still hooked up to VHS).

Although I'm a typical first worlder in having screens all around the house, I'm not connected to a cable TV service e.g. via Comcast, but only to internet via CenturyLink (formerly Qwest, following US West ). 

But what does "internet and not cable" really mean in this day and age, in terms of contet? Internet means streaming and streaming means a lot of the same cable TV content simply piped in by a different infrastructure: optical fiber bearing tcp/ip packets versus whatever cable uses.

Dave, on the other hand, will be at a swanky No NFL party, in other words an alternative happy social event (one day after Chinese New Years) that caters to people with no patience for stupid Super Bowl stuff. 

That's a whole other demographic in need of snacks and beverages, carbohydrates, cigs, sugar and alcohol. Both the NFLers and anti-NFLers are equally likely to be helping the snack food empire remain in ascendency with their antics.

And then Overeaters Anonymous is ready when you are, to help you deprogram and re-brainwash.

One might think the pro NFL American football watching crowd would in general be in better shape, but that's not so obvious when one looks at the data. The stereotypical former football star dad, all beefed up in college to be mean on the team, never learned how to scale back, once back in the bleachers. 

Let's see if Ozyempic does a commercial. Not yet right? Although there's a lobby to get the government paying more for anti-obesity drugs, slimming down with that one is still too off-label a use right? You can't yet push psychedelics either, just mood altering substances and of course your own mesmerizing programming.

OK, gotta go, Derek is here and it's National Anthem time.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Remembering Nord Stream

I'm subscribed to the Seymour Hersh substack feed, so I'm reminded we've come to an anniversary of sorts regarding the attack on infrastructure known as Nord Stream, a set of pressurized gas tubes designed to feed the economies of Europe, especially Germany's. Hersh's first report appeared a year ago tomorrow.

Hersh believes Norway was involved, based on his sources. One wonders how many Norwegians believe that hypothesis, which, if true, takes away from the value of the Nobel Peace Prize. Why would Norway, an historic US ally, attack the United States? 

But then why would Biden or Sullivan or anyone with any loyalty to the Stars and Stripes commit this kind of treason? The outcome of the NS sabotage has been to make the USA look weak and untrustworthy in the extreme, like it's covering for somebody hellbent on destroying any international rules based order.

I know my USA would never have been so reckless or off the charts dumb to have undertaken such an action and quickly said so

I realize I'm a nobody and no one cares about my USA (RIP Uncle Sam) but I thought at least one loyalist, one patriot, should step forward and declare in no uncertain terms that the USA would never undertake the covert industrial sabotage of a Russo-European energy project costing billions. 

Such acts of war are done overtly, by definition, if true states are involved. Slinking around, trying to stay undercover, is not the MO of a true state. A true state is proud of its great decisions and defends them publicly, even when these decisions turn out to be misguided. 

My USA is working to barf up the perps and expose them for what they are.

Only a pseudo-USA, one propped up and used as a PR shield by unethical gas monkeys and other retards, could be behind all this coverup nonsense.

But then the trope of a "pseudo-USA" is hardly a new one, the real USA having been declared "bankrupt and extinct" on constitutional grounds by its foremost prognosticator and OSS affiliate, way back in the Reagan-Casey era. 

Public schools have been too chicken to share this chapter with student debaters, along with anything resembling RBF's geometry, a valuable piece of Americana: proof positive that a fake US has totalitarian control over public schooling. Teachers are leaving. Students seem out of control.

That's why we have our underground, our School of Tomorrow, to give students more meaningful homework. USA OS is chugging along in the background.

Do I believe Seymour Hersh? 

I'm in no position to double check him or his sources. I'd like the Nobel Peace Prize to still mean something. I'm hoping he's wrong and that Norway sticks to its guns in saying that this act of sabotage was an act of cowardice and depravity (which it clearly was).

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Convergent Trajectories

CJ on Screen
:: CJ Bridging Portland and Philadelphia ::

In the Euclidean belief system, it's not a problem to assert that two parallel trajectories might stay that way forever. What's to stop them? A Newtonian force? In the Platonic realm, as colonized by these true believers, these metaphysical lines have no mass or energy and will not be affected by the quanta of quantum mechanics. No "forces" to worry about in other words.

So do we still have the freedom to change channels and jump outside the jurisdiction of these Euclidean axiomatic truths? Sure we do. Non-Euclidean geometries abound, and where they beg to differ is likely right here, among other places, at this Fifth Postulate about parallelism (the dogma).

I'm going to switch topics, now that I've introduced non-Euclidean geometries. Let's talk about SNEC, the Synergetics Collaborative, a 501(c)(3) and another somewhat parallel "think tank" centered more on the Pacific coast, where BFI was headquartered at the time. Russ Chu convened a summit in WDC, where he'd moved from Seattle, with his family. Lots of us converged: Bob Gray, Ed Applewhite, Joe Clinton... That's when we booted the colab for real.

I'm thinking specifically of all the time we devoted to the question: should the BFI move to Smalltalk for its internal programming needs? Russ Chu purchased a motherboard to help make that happen. A guy named Hal was the chief promoter, not just of Smalltalk, but of object-oriented languages more generally. Bonnie Goldstein (BFI archivist) and Robert Orenstein were on the team (Robert favored a computer language named Dylan at the time). That's where I first met David Koski, then a denizen of Santa Monica, also J. Baldwin and Yasushi Kajikawa.

The west coast version of SNEC did not have a name per se and did not solidify as a specific nonprofit. Sam Lanahan hosted an event in Portland, at the Laurelwood Brewpub on Sandy, that included a lot of us, including Glenn Stockton (Global Matrix) and Trevor Blake (archivist, Synchronofile). 

Sam would later, in 2019, co-produce Lattice Gallery, a popup in the art district behind the art school along West Broadway near the Pendleton building (Kenneth Snelson was from Pendleton). The gallery featured several versions of flextegrity, a term that both connects it with and distinguishes it from tensegrity (per Snelson's sculptures). I'd been Snelson's first webmaster by this time, as well as house guest and personal friend.

Once Zoom happened in a big way, with the concept of meetups more formalized thereby, it became easier to organize at the meetup level, which is where 52 Living Ideas came in, already anchored around CJ, a founder of SNEC. CJ helped run the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society, which overlapped with Shrikant's New York based channel, in terms of geography and membership.

Before these events in Portland, we held a summit at the Kasman-Chu residence in Seattle, Russell Chu having overlapped with David Koski in those BFI-in-LA days. Now he had moved to Seattle, closer to me in Portland. He had married Deb Kasman and they had two kids. 

Several of us converged for this event, including Ed Applewhite by phone, a liason with SNEC one might say given he was calling from Georgetown. Others attending in person: myself, Alan Ferguson, Karl Erickson, Gerald de Jong, John Braley. This same network had a life online and included faraway figures such as Peter Addersley in Australia.

This summit happened around the same time a different Applewhite was in the news over some cultic ritual suicide relating to the Hale-Bopp comet. Heaven's Gate they called it.

Another "think tank" I'll now introduce (again) to the scene is Wanderers, associated with the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy (ISEPP) here in Portland, and run by one Terry Bristol (with Dawn Wicca and Associates in an auditing / bookkeeping role back then, Dawn Wicca being my wife and running the other half of our business). 

ISEPP helped get me a better rate at the First International Conference on Buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara, organized by Elsevier, where I met Harold Kroto. I rented a convertible and drove there in the company of on-the-road networking pro Nick Consoletti, an expert on both Bucky and Linus Pauling.

I started having Wanderers (a subset thereof) listen in on CJ's meetups based in Philadelphia, connecting through by backyard WiFi. I was also a member of TrimTab Book Club by this time (closely tied to BFI), as well as Field Structure Institute (FSI) so more overlapping there.

Tying this blog post together: once we allow trajectories to diverge from remaining parallel, we may find them criss-crossing all over the place, like so many intersecting great circles.

Not only do the think tanks co-orbit, but so do individuals and families. The Applewhites and Lanahans inter-wove in the District, leading to Sam's getting to be Bucky's sidekick on a trip to Manila, at the invitation of the Marcos family, and at around the same time I was in high school there (but we didn't know of each other yet). Later, the Applewhites visited the Wicca-Urners here in Oregon.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Gathering for Carol

Gathering for Carol (G4C)

Our Gathering for Carol at the Stark Street meetinghouse, was expertly produced by Multnomah Friends. Some attended over closed circuit TV, including from Whittier. Carol Urner was a lifetime activist who believed in collaboration over angry confrontation. Many of her citations and awards were from US officialdom. Her last paying job was with a US embassy (the one in Maseru).

Jack and Carol (dad and mom) were idealistic Quakers with a strategy: Jack would take the high level technical job, as a planner, and Carol would work with the poorest of the poor, usually considered a subversive activity. The two would complement one another. The strategy proved pretty effective in retrospect.

We'll have more G4Cs, and had some while she was still with us in person. Her network was and is global, her friends and followers many. My thanks to everyone who participated in this one.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Teacher to Teacher (T2T)

P1360053

I noticed yesterday (First Day) that Multnomah Friends, the Adult Religious Education Committee in particular, has instituted a new practice of pairing any visiting minister, with a local anchor, a peer.

In the example I witnessed, a visiting minister from another group came by to express a leading, one might say to do some market research, some field testing. Quakers encounter "leadings" as in promptings from God (superuser, root) and feel a need to respond in some way.

The visiting minister, let's call him Bob, has a background in journalism and knows the power of words. The exercise he proposed was to have participants randomly pick a card, but not turn it over to see the word printed on the face until cued to do so.  There's more to it than that of course.

In cahoots with Bob, one might put it, was our local minister, a Friend already embedded within our Multnomah Meeting and familiar with its ways. Lets call her Alice.

What if Bob were way out there, in terms of expectations? The concept of "outside minister" might extend to become ecumenical to the point where our visitor is quite exotic in the context of Stark Street. The anchoring minister, Alice, might then play an active role in achieving some equilibrium, to the point of pushing back (figuratively under normal circumstances).

Think of an invited teacher, such as myself, prattling on about triangular and tetrahedral numbers to a math class. Their regular classroom teacher would most likely be the Alice. 

Alice knows her students and provides me with guidance and direction, both beforehand, during, and perhaps in postmortem, regarding how I'm likely to get a best reception, given we're all hoping for good value, and what modifications I might make before next time (hypothetically).

In this particular case, our Alice was not required to intervene so much as dovetail with the flow, because our visiting minister was an old hand in our midst, a former clerk of the meeting. He heads up a satellite worship group these days, but could hardly be considered exotic.

Speaking of Stark Street, I remember one night standing in the middle of it, next to this same Bob (then clerk) and gazing up into a darkened tree next to the meetinghouse. A would be mayor of Portland had climbed it in protest. The police and fire departments had their equipment on the scene and were trying to talk him down.

The card game consisted of 30 "Quaker words" (such as truth, light, silence, integrity...) such that (30)(31)/2 = 496 pairings were possible (a triangular number). The impromptu interest groups would pair randomly chosen words to extract new meaning, a "gift" one might put it, to share with the whole group later. The name of this exercise: Between Words [as I'm reminded by a postmortem email from Bob].

Neither Bob nor Alice participated in the exercise; they were "overseers" (a term present day Quakers tend to shy away from). The market research angle was to offer Bob some feedback on how to maybe fine tune the exercise. Example feedback: many card games let us put a card back in exchange for a different one; might we incorporate such a step?

Given Bob and Alice, you might be asking about Eve, the theoretical 3rd party in any communication, and potentially able to disruptively penetrate a private channel between Bob and Alice. Here I might say that Bob and Alice have a common investment in keeping their channel secure and protected from disrupting factors, such as environmental noise.

The Biblically minded may find it distasteful that cryptography makes Eve be the bad guy again, as if she hadn't already suffered enough since the talking snake chapter. Think of Eve as a pun on "eavesdropper" and lets give her the power to listen in and not be disruptive at all i.e. she too is supportive of Bob and Alice, who may not realize she's even there.

Another innovation of the Adult Religious Education Committee, as a preamble to the exercise, was to talk about the importance of language, including language preservation, especially native languages such as that of the Multnomah people, for whom the meeting was named. This theme resonated with what I'd been learning through the Tulalip Cultural Center during my recent north circuit car trip.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Curriculum Norms

USPO

If you're at all aware of the syllabus we're using here (School of Tomorrow), then you know we're interested in electrical grids and power plants, as well as in off grid village communities that supply their own power locally. This focus inherits from a "lense adjustment" some call World Game, wherein we're "brainwashed" (deprogrammed) to see the whole earth as a single campus, versus a set of fenced in areas in some grave battle for world domination.

Consequent to said viewpoint is our awareness of an emerging set of local networks increasingly interconnected by high voltage lines (HVDC). We don't stop at pipelines, or shipping lanes, when it comes to studying energy networks. We look at grids. Even when discouraged from doing so by misinformation campaigns.

Where do we find teenagers getting schooling similar to ours? Sometimes through the Speech and Debate subculture. Past teams have taken up whether the GENI agenda makes sense: eventually hooking the east and west hemispheres in a power sharing scheme, a global grid. We already know of some Chinese companies expressing an interest in this idea, given engineering projects they've already taken on. The plans have been in circulation for decades by this time.

However, the better way to pass the torch on these topics to a next generation is through the internet more generally. We start in middle school with the Fuller Projection and the controversies surrounding projections in general, a politically charged topic. We start in STEM with ball packing exercises and the short computer programs that serve as sequence generators. Whole earth visualization starts with a Jupyter environment in many cases, has we're pulling in data sets, and displaying them geographically.

By high school, we're used to the idea that RBF was one of the great American pragmatists, also a realist. I'm not saying that's a high school you remember, or have in your neighborhood. The normative standards I'm promulgating, as a principal, probably seem exclusionary if you're in a corporate run state school in North America. You may think my international school focus is elitist and inappropriate per the standards of your community. That wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Grid Tech

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Tetrahedron Year

The Attic: Main Building
:: visiting The Attic ::

The current year, 2024, is a Tetrahedron Year.  We won't be having another one until 2300. 

By "tetrahedron year" I mean any year with a tetrahedral number. These latter go: 1, 4, 10... 2024 (I skipped a few). Tetrahedral numbers get spaced further and further apart, as what separates them are consecutive triangular numbers: 3, 6, 10, 15... A tetrahedron of 22 layers is what we're talking about.


Ed Pegg posting to Mathematical Tiling and Tessellation on Facebook

I was thinking, going in, that I had a head full of novel ideas they'd not heard of at The Attic. On the contrary, the faculty is well versed in the latest trends e.g. they're already using Jupyter Notebooks. Have they tuned in the concentric hierarchy and all its whole number volumes yet I wonder?

Master Volumes Table

This was a quick visit while Sydney waited in the car. I was glad to finally see the place, having heard about it for so long. I was reminded of Sunshine Elite Education in Bethany Village, likewise ahead of the curve.

Here's the curriculum I put together (a Github repo) during my teaching time at SEE. I make use of Jupyter Notebooks, sometimes with sympy, just like The Attic does. 

I've taught Python in other ways too (e.g. for Coding with Kids). I'm not recommending a diet of Notebooks only, when working towards mastering Python.

Which reminds me, this just in from Terry Bristol:

I've used VPython a lot over the years!  I learned about it through Arthur Siegal at first, and then through AAPT. "3D programming for ordinary mortals" is their slogan. That's me!