Friday, September 30, 2005

Another Day in the Rainforest

Jim Buxton gifted our group with some of the best chanterelles ever, and for two days in a row we've been having them on the side next to mushroom & Tillamook cheese omelets. My FitDay food log is having a cow about it, but hey, I'm still under my daily calorie budget, steadily shedding pounds (a British imperial unit).

Quarterly Meeting starts today @ Sky Camp. Given the dismal weather, this'll be largely an indoor affair, more about fellowship and less about banana slugs. I'm packing a tent and may cocoon with a Buffy DVD vs. Stellarium.

I wrote a cool essay on the Urner/Wittgenstein relationship today @ Math Forum.

Great job Nirel! -- she's our new Wanderers Web Wrangler. Whomever holds the Portfolio of Scheduling should report directly to her (we're thinking to rotate the job of booking presentations, so we each get a chance to share some of our favorite people, like I did with Ron i.e. as we've already been doing from the get go).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Public Licensing

Obviously a lot of the thinking that's gone on around how to keep software designs public, per the intent of its authors, is starting to inform licensing more generally. Some types of inventor have always wanted their work to benefit humankind. Toys, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing processes -- I expect to see more and more open source licensing protecting these assets from overexploitation by a greedy and undeserving few.

The corporation, having sneakily insinuated itself into our codes as a pseudo-human (see Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann), has tended to suppress our very human desire to benefit one another. However, the power of this particular institution, in its LAWCAP form at least, is on the wane, in part because much of its core infrastructure is in the hands of philanthropic engineers with an appreciation for general systems theory (i.e. of what it will take for us to succeed macroeconomically).

What does nature herself provide, in terms of common heritage? Should we consider DNA sequences found in nature to be under some kind of BSD type license, or is she more GPL? Such questions will frame the ethical debates of tomorrow, thanks to people like Richard Stallman, one of the great moral philosophers of our day. Unbridled human selfishness, on the other hand, will be seen in retrospect for what it was: a pathology and design flaw that nearly got us wiped out as a species.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

More World Game Data

Page A10 of today's Oregonian talks about the rally in Washington, DC on Saturday, next to an ad for Terry's lecture series. My friend Matt was at the rally along with others in his family. He flew all the way from PDX just to be there. I'm looking forward to hearing his personal account.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

GST Revisited

Last night I decided to alter this ancient graphic at my Synergetics on the Web, by sliding a copy of the Pentagon to the lower right (if looking from this side). And I added the paragraph: "The Pentagon is shown in both directions because some in the military have largely freed themselves from LAWCAP's obsolete reflex conditioning and have a more GST-informed outlook."

I think it's important that we acknowledge the progress we've made to date.

And speaking of progress, kudos to Blogger for making picture uploads a snap through the standard interface.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Talk Like a Pirate

Jolly Roger

September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day -- another excuse to get in touch with this part of our heritage. According to the algorithm in today's Living section in The Oregonian, my pirate name could be: Squinty Rumpot Broadside (I think I'll pass).

Related Post: Adventures in Radio Land (Part 2), 10 Feb of this year.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Build It Green

Today we joined other Portlanders on a self-organizing tour of G/Rated homes, featuring various intelligent, energy efficient designs. We visited the tiny one-person house on wheels (visiting from Olympia), the sunlight and rain harvesting "net-zero" Victorian, and the little clay studio with a living roof.

We also left voicemail expressing some interest in a refurbished '84 Ford Econoline camper, a possible bizmo, though hardly G/Rated. The Victorians had a pickup they run on B100 (vegetable oil recycled from restaurants).

We had coffee in one of Dawn's former work places on Foster (she quit shortly after the bomb incident -- the site used to be an abortion clinic, Dawn their bookkeeper). Then we went to a nearby Vietnamese bakery to buy moon cakes.

Across my desk: Bruce LeBel's temporary shelters proposal to Oxfam (forwarded by Dick Fischbeck); a poorly sourced story about US soldiers raping Iraqi infants in Tellaffar; email from Nancy, a would-be Wanderer (I invited her to the 9/20 meeting); a request for a CV update from Nick (changes made); a heads up from Gerald de Jong about N J Wildberger's innovations in trigonometry; other stuff.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Powell's on Hawthorne

Tricycle Magazine cover
Vol. XV No. 1 Fall, 2005

I snagged a copy of this issue of Tricycle at Powell's this morning, along with Make: (vol. 03) and a copy of The Onion (a satirical newspaper). Coffee with Derek.

Before going out, I worked on some new reports for one of my clients (a coding project, Visual FoxPro). Later today, I finished a first edition of a new web page, in preparation for a course I'm slated to teach.

This afternoon, I watched some Smallville with the family on a borrowed Braithwaite DVD (though not the episode mentioned in the aforementioned web page).

Yesterday was our biweekly Wednesday morning Wanderers meeting. KOREducators Adam Reid and Reese Lord went over their hopes and dreams regarding a new charter school they'd like to start under the umbrella of Portland Public Schools.

Charter schools are public schools, but follow a slightly different rule book, allowing them to experiment with different types of teacher (only 50% must be state certified).

Joyce Cresswell of Saturday Academy joined us as well. Her institution likewise gives students access to teachers from a variety of backgrounds.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Summer Memories (2005)

Geometry Toys

Part of the Quimby-Kittner collection in upstate New York. I took this photo during my stay in the tree house this summer, enroute to my 25th Princeton reunion (Class of 1980). For more summer memories, check BizMo Diaries, September 2005.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Red Eye (movie review)

A salute to lonely pro service workers who take their jobs seriously and fight back when cornered. Modern commercial flight is faithfully rendered (especially coach), but the off shore Russians seem implausibly employed.

The screenwriters provide no backstory about the kingpin with the private jet, who holes up in Miami with his henchmen -- into money laundering perhaps (that'd explain the high caliber enemies).

Saw it with Dave Fabik in the Regal @ Lloyd Center (VP Nixon: "America's answer to communism") . We previewed the new Jodie Foster movie, also airplane-based. She's effective in those suspenseful paranoid films -- I'm looking forward to it (perhaps as inflight entertainment).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wanderers 2005.9.7

Doug Strain kicked off our evening series, alternating Tuesdays. We had the camcorder going, fingers crossed the lapel mike was doing its job (audio is critical for hearing Doug's many excellent stories).

We learned more about how Doug got transitioned from war time nutrition experiments to fighting fires started by Japanese fire balloons.

In the experiments, Doug and other conscientious objector friends were fed various diets to see what'd keep them alive in shivering cold conditions (they spent 8 hrs a day in especially refrigerated rooms -- like on some reality TV show). The high protein diet proved the best, which was disappointing to the experimenters, as it was also the most expensive.

Doug's talents were better used working with the U.S. Forestry radio lab. Maybe 5000 fire balloons were set adrift over the Pacific, timed to crash and burn stateside. Fortunately, the best wind patterns coincided with the wettest forest conditions, so although the fire fighters were kept on their toes, actual fire damage was not that great. Perhaps four lives were lost.

I quizzed Doug most intently on ESI's relationship to its neighbors on the Stark Street property, which was subsequently gifted to Quakers and the AFSC, after the city zoned that neighorhood out of bounds to even light industry (Jantzen had constructed the factory originally, installed lead lined die vats upstairs). Turns out ESI didn't get along with its neighbors that well either. Some long-running karma just goes with that territory I guess.

After ESI moved, over to the Macadam area, the new place burned to the ground the night of some firemen's ball (no one to answer the distress call -- probably couldn't have saved it anyway, given the high temperatures involved). Fortunately, the insurance came through. And later, State Farm (also insurance) helped grow the Silicon Forest with a lot of investments, as did Hewlett-Packard. HP loved Doug's ability to measure resistence in micro-ohms -- about 350 micro-ohms for a house key -- and added Doug's inventions to its product line.

Doug started the meeting with what he called good news: British Petroleum's outlook on remaining proven reserves (40 years worth?), then shared about some promising new city power R&D that Westinghouse is helping fund at Oregon State. Four of these vault-contained helium cooled convection units could sustain Portland. Yeah, we're talking nuclear fission again (means toxic byproducts), but minus any weaponization pathway. Iran might do something similar. Our two Davids discussed the average 24 kW-h per diem energy requirements of the average USAer (takes about a kW to power "the good life"™ they say).

Rick Grote brought a box of golf balls, inviting us to help ourselves. I took seven (six around one). Great seeing Allen Taylor, Dick Pugh, Julian, Steve.

Jim, Don, Barry and I, joined by Derek, celebrated afterwards with beers at the Bagdad. This was after Jim drove Doug home but forgot his thermos bottle, and so came back for it. I'm borrowing Jim's copy of The Astronomical Companion, which I'm cross-checking against Celestia, thanks to Trevor.


I almost forgot to relate Doug's much earlier interesting story about his participation on some panel proposing the switch to cesium-based atomic clock time, and how the Navy was all bellyachy that only astronomical cycles mattered, nothing so measly as an atom should give us the time of day.

Congress got caught up in the soap opera. So the cesium clock people just set it up in Colorado. It's not like they wanted to take anything away from the Navy, just add this new layer. And to this day, atomic clocks take the cake for enabling us to synchronize within tiny slivers of a second -- a kind of synching needed for GPS for example (so ironically, the Navy is now as interested in cesium time as everyone else).

Moral of the story: if you want to get anything done, don't get it bottled up in Congress. Which is too bad really, Doug went on. If only those lawyers understood the science even a little bit better, the whole enterprise might run more smoothly (which is where I think USA OS comes in). The job of educating powerful politicians is enormous, but with modern media, I think it's doable.