Monday, December 31, 2007

Beefs (Faith & Practice)

So Quakers typically have this Joys and Concerns segment at the close of M4B wherein the bolder chronicle their thinking out loud in the minutes. I'm proposing we add, if only as a subtype of Concern: Beefs.

A "beef" would be close to a complaint, but not conveyed in a whiny tone, as if powers that be were responsible, but rather with a subtext of "and I will fix this" (i.e. I'm one of the powers that be).

So for example, I have this beef with capitalist coffee shop flatscreens that show all green freeway conditions, what a relief, but then with the next slide you realize this was just a pretty still life advertisement for some tantalizingly off screen subscribers- only service.

In reality so-called "big money" is apparently too cheap to share this information with an anonymous coffee shop public, commuters depending on such information, whereas in some socialist paradise some nebulous Bureau of Public Roads would be better looking out for the welfare of people, giving us the real deal, and winning brand loyalty on the side.

Per our standard Faith & Practice, you needn't go through the M4B recording clerk to register your Joys and Concerns, as in M4W you're free to offer them silently. Here again, beefs might enter the picture, somewhat in the tradition of New Years resolutions, i.e. "I will be more part of the solution than part of the problem on this one."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hollywood USA

Friday, December 28, 2007

AVP 2 (movie review)

Like I'm working my way down the marquee here, and could've just as well skipped this ho hummer of a horror flick were I not so into walking my talk.

But having linked Alien Versus Predator, perversely some say, to the Quakers' Alternatives to Violence Program (same initials), I felt somewhat obliged to check it out.

To find a film like this cathartic, you need to accept the premise that humans are not in control, and so what becomes of them is not really your doing (the purpose of hell in some authorized fantasies).

Then build up a vengeful grudge against this or that character, and enjoy seeing him getting his just deserts, and then some. Sometimes the punishment is just for being too stupid (like for going into a darkened cave in a horror film context, I mean come on).

One might empathize with the "wrong people" sometimes, like in this case I was rooting more for Jesse than for pizza boy Ricky and his ex-conner bro. I found her "hire and fire" talk boldly feminine, plus she just wanted a little more honesty in her life (can't say I blame her).

But I've experienced enough of this culture to know she was being set up as a target, so no big surprise there. We all saw it coming.

To the Quakers I'd say: notice how these people resort so easily and unthinkingly to violence in their everyday lives, thereby unleashing these more powerful unconscious forces with strong independent momenta.

In AVP trainings, we recognize these unconscious powers, but learn to channel them more intelligently, to actually get some real work done for a change.

The Predator seems to be the only one actually enjoying himself in this flick or at least I presume he hunts for the sheer fun of it. Nothing else would seem to explain his apparent eagerness for more combat.

I found myself not caring much though, about motives, about winners and losers. The government seemed to have the right attitude: let's just wipe the slate clean.

The surviving cast members seemed overly confident at the end of the day, given the highly reproductive nature of these aliens. AVP 3 looks all but inevitable.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing Day 2007

The family hosting the Boxing Day party had a suitably English Manor type home, complete with vaulted ceiling, roaring fireplace, a Narnia-style wardrobe. I ate too many of those little cream puffs, meaning more time in the gym.

The English professor and his wife had absorbed a lot of style tips while on sabbatical along the British coast lo those many years back. The unicorns were an especially nice touch. To this day they attend our Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon every year.

I also chatted with an elder who knows roses, was a CO near Bend (later the mid-west) back in the day (WWII -- Doug Strain's generation). He spoke in worshipful tones of Crater Lake (he'd sought property near there), Mount Hood (gorgeous)... Sacajawea (he liked that the Ken Burns documentary had given her a lot of focus, didn't know about the coin).

For formal wear, I wore my Homer Simpson in a tux (holding a remote) T-shirt, a Christmas gift from Alexia and John.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Xmas 2007

:: she likes bananas ::
We celebrated Christmas Eve at First Friends of Whittier, Tara and I alone in the rearmost row, me gawking at the organ (very trendy in its day, still handsome). The service ended with candlelight (if we'd all flicked our lighters, it'd have been more Woodstocky, but hey, I'm post-boomer, not all that nostalgic for what I wasn't around to experience (I like seeing the DVDs though)).

Christmas morning: Alexia joined us vicariously, via primitive avatar technology courtesy of Google. Luna the dog dawned a ridiculous outfit (OK, we dawned it for her). Gifts were exchanged, including some I'd strategically given to mom, looking forward to perusing: Karen Armstrong's Bible bio, Plame Wilson's autobio, a popular Irshad Manji tome. Gifts to Tara included Lost season 3, to Julie, a philosophy for children book on the Hindu dieties.

In the background, I shared another anecdote from my young adulthood with Jon, a collector of heroic stories of one kind or another (really it's about mom and dad, mostly mom, but I sneak in as the storyteller here and there).

I plan to add an iguana's picture to this post, one our family is helping to take care of, while its owners are away. You might think a lizard is indecorous for a Christmas post, but I say the Animal Kingdom is welcome at the table of Christ, a primary teaching of that famous Manger Scene aesthetic, so "in your face" this time of year (I'm not complaining -- I think Christmas is lovely and certainly holy, Santa Claus and all the rest of it).

Good presents from VIP Koski: crisp, professional geometry posts. The Fuller School is in good shape.

:: luna ::

Monday, December 24, 2007

Router Traffic

So we made it. I-5 to Hwy 42 near Roseburg to Myrtle Point (sleep) to Hwy 101 at Bandon, Cape Blanco, Gold Beach, Arcata (sleep), Ukiah, Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco at sunset, sticking to 101 through Silicon Valley then Hwy 156 and Rt. 1 to Monterey (sleep), followed by ocean cliffs and ranch lands to Santa Barbara (beach walk and shopping), on into LA through the Santa Monicas as the full moon rose, then I-10, I-605, Whittier (sleep). Trip meter: 1256 (miles), but I was already south of Wilsonville when I remembered to set it.

A frustration associated with such trips is that sense of missed opportunities, roads not taken, vista points not viewed. One can't do it all, is the problem faced by the feaster, there's just too much. The trick is to realize this is a blessing, plus there's always the hope of going through again, or touching down by private jet or whatever.

Looking forward to 2008.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wanderers 2007.12.19

"Wow, we have exotic fauna today" was my remark coming in, later than usual, as Razz needed an oil change. Barbara Stross joined us, just back from two months in Panama and Cuba, along with Dick Pugh the meteor man, and Nick Consoletti. The conversation, about Vitamin C (very appropriate for the Pauling House) sounded highly informed -- mostly stuff I don't know much about.

My meditation this morning: losing one's temper, prompted in part by Katie's interviews of the presidential candidates on CBS News. Whereas they had to answer off the cuff, I've had a longer time to formulate an answer.

Ideally, I like to vent and fulminate with friends, usually by taking a strong point of view, not targeting anyone present, but putting a lot of emotion behind it. Then come sparring partners, open to heated debate. Finally, censors and handlers know to edit or block my remarks, given their vantage points in the field.

But "ideally" implies "controlled, intentional" whereas "losing one's temper" or simply "losing it" implies "out of control." What I most need to avoid is heating up among strangers, especially in mixed, multi-ethnic situations, as people will likely conclude I'm just another bossy white guy taking his privileges for granted.

I've done a lot of polemics on-line, but my mood isn't necessarily angry, when I write such stuff.

I remember going to Seoul, getting picked up at the airport by Kijoon and a friend. After awhile in the car, Kijoon's friend remarked I was very quiet, for an American. I probably get that from my dad.

I read the above aloud to the assembled Wanderers, prompting further banter and discussion, about The Quiet American, about Canadians.

Bill introduced us to Cliff Pickover's Reality Carnival which looks interesting. Another Wanderer pointed me to NASA's investments in open source avionics.

Lunch with the Boltons at The Bagdad.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Language Games

Related links: [1][2][3]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Tale of Two Parties

jon bunce with globe
Our Wanderers gathering was special tonight in that we convened at Doug Strain's place to celebrate his turning 88 recently.

As we went around the circle introducing ourselves, we each talked about our connection to Doug. In my case, I mentioned being a Quaker and knowing that our Stark Street Meetinghouse had come to us from Doug's company Electro-Measurements Inc., which had in turn purchased the building from the Jantzen swimsuit company.

Others of us had connections to Doug through the Strain Science Center at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

Doug's favorite teacher at Caltech was Linus Pauling and Doug later endowed a chair at OSU in Pauling's name.

He was the major sponsor of ISEPP's project to rescue Pauling's boyhood home from oblivion and make it a rentable property, Cascadia Wild being one of the tenants (I was glad Marion could join us).

Great seeing Joe Cronin again.

bob mcgown with paper cubes
My second party tonight was at Cubespace, where many luminaries from Portland's sprawling open source community gathered for board games, beer and pizza (the 'za was gone by the time I arrived -- which I'm glad about, as I'd already overspent on calories for the evening (oops, spoke too soon, Kim & Jimmy just brought me a milk shake, yum)).

fun and games at Cubespace

Firefox bling

Monday, December 10, 2007


Business-eze: a worldly talk, associated with some shop or business, often indecipherable to the casual listener.

Example: a 1065 nets 1099s from multiple clients, then processes the income to partners in the form of K-1s, which attach to the 1040 as proof of where that income came from.

Example: an ODBC pipe communicates SQL to an Oracle engine (or other brand) allowing front end clients, such as Microsoft Access, to request rows and columns (whether they get them or not is another story).

When people go to business school, they learn a lot of these jargons, or namespaces as computer scientists sometimes call them.

Once you learn a few, you start to see patterns.

Combined with the wisdom of hindsight, these patterns inform a next generation and so on, i.e. we're aware of learning curves, both within (intra) and between (inter) generations of businessese speaker.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Seasons Meetings

Olympus 720 SW + Adobe Elements "smudge stick" filter
Lunch with David is always a privilege and a pleasure.

Today I learned about how some inventive linear algebra abracadabra of his own devising enables delivering better fitting pants over the Internet, without asking for more measurements. Large matrices are involved, eigenvectors.

I spent the balance of my day working for clients, then I got to ride on Meliptus and take a few pictures.

Tara had a babysitting job.

The weekend looks packed. I'll likely go back to posting fewer times per week in my blogs for the rest of December.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Quaker literature emphasizes one's mental posture in Meeting for Worship (M4W) as one of "expectant waiting."

In theological terms, this corresponds to awaiting God's grace, meaning the subjective experience is of receiving a gift.

Our freedom and ability to receive gifts for which no human being, not even oneself, might take credit (in the sense of now owing a debt to said being), is a way new wealth often enters the world.

On the other hand, there's no shame in giving others credit, either, i.e. God's mysterious ways often involve our fellow beings. We're to enjoy one another's company aboard Spaceship Earth (more an enjoinder than a command, per our treasured freedom to fail).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Music Scene

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

KTU3 'n Stuff

KTU3 relieved KTU2 of onerous duty, giving the latter some much deserved basement R&R (still plugged in, Internet aware).

I messed up KTU2's innards by downloading some dastardly malicious software, over firewall objections, such that OS reinstalls were to no avail (and a down to the metal reformat was just not worth the hassle).

I kept myself in the penalty box for like a year, I guess punishing myself for my own stupidity? Anyway, KTU2 remained quasi- usable, if I babied her a lot, especially on boot-up (I had to manually start many services).

KTU3, I've come to realize, has its own downsides, but more about those later (plus some have been addressed).

I just got off the phone with an environmentalist calling from 11th & Hawthorne, explaining how she now competes with my electric car savings account for "save the environment" money. As a 25 year old mother of a 4 year old, expecting another, she's still not a car owner, but heading that way. She was quite pleasant towards my electric car fantasy, so I ended up donating $35 on the DWA business Visa, keeping the difference for my electric car savings account. I'm thinking I'll test drive it some before Tara is old enough to make it her own.

Given I'm pushing geezer status (at least in the Snyder namespace) I also claimed to be one of those rare birds who liked it better when OSPIRG and Environment Oregon were more clearly in the Nader camp. I explained how Nader was a fellow alum (Class of '55) and honored speaker at my 25th (Class of '80) and had she heard of Patti Smith? Like I said: geezer.

Razz stays in the picture, but the driver gets to try different cars.

Looking forward to Jimmy Lott's gig tonight.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Reality Check

by Russell Towle, recommended by Koski

Dave Koski phoned recently. Whereas he's up on his Steve Baer style 120 cell decomposition of the Enneacontahedron, he's more tentative about his earlier belief in an off center rhombic dodecahedron somewhere in the mix.

Last we talked, he was still looking to reconfirm, using a combination of ZomeTool and vZome. I appreciate his commitment to an empirical approach.

And that got me thinking: getting a different angle is very essential sometimes. I'm talking about balancing, offsetting viewpoints, of which some are more generic, others more like prescription eyeglasses, designed to compensate for very specific aberrations.

Business partners, close friends, spouses, siblings, parents, colleagues, relatives are usually better positioned to offer the more customized feedback, meaning they have an individualized way of helping you see better -- each one of them makes a personalized contribution.

On the other hand, the more generic overview providers are also most welcome. It's not necessary for someone to know you, to help you. Don't always dismiss the value of help from perfect strangers -- sometimes that's really the best kind.

And sometimes you'll provide your own reality checks -- or call it the process of maturation. You revisit the same situations from new viewpoints over time, gain new insights. But if you're open to learning from others, that really can save you some time.

Followup: this just in from Dave, showing the off-center rhombic dodecahedron:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Talk of the Nation

OLPC's Negroponte was on NPR this afternoon, on Talk of the Nation. Some Wall Street Journal reporter was using the word "derailed" and Nicholas was more like "on track."

Lynn Neary wondered why the pissing match, let's just come out with the best laptop possible, for the lowest price possible.

Lynn's question was a good one, and I think the XO, which none mentioned by name, even when extolling its features, provides a clear answer: it's very much not for everyone, by design.

"One size fits all" is simply not a good approach. That's why we look forward to Intel's next entries, other brands. Monoculture means "all eggs in one basket" -- not a smart business model when innovation is critical.

The current XO is all about a minimalist new Python GUI (Sugar) atop Red Hat Linux with a Smalltalk (Squeak) image for eToys and maybe Croquet type stuff (i.e. immersive communications with a peer group, what you need right after you get an avatar).

That's a pretty specific architecture, very alien to most cube farmers, plus it's very geared for children, is deliberately not so adult friendly (like the keys are too small, plus it's Shrek- colored).

So yes, the XO is very niche market, a bold experiment, not too shabby a debut (a great flagship).

We're only 300K units into it, and already we're learning a ton about what it takes to sustain critical mass around such projects.

Judging by the success of the XO, I'm seeing Python 3.x as well positioned to get some heavy duty, real world Unicode workouts. Such trials by fire are just what it takes to anneal a language, make it robust enough to withstand the tests of time. So kudos to Guido for strategic positioning.

The rest of the interview got somewhat bogged down in yesteryear's business headlines, all about Linux versus Windows. That's not really front page news any more. Wall Street needs to figure out a new spin or new angle. That "dot commie" thing gets stale after awhile.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fixing the G

earlier photo by K. Urner
I took a picture of the electric utility truck, hoisting a man in a bucket to fix the G on the vertical Bagdad sign. Finally they got around to it. But I forgot to actually save the picture, and besides this was just with my cell phone. So just use your imagination.

Glenn and I were across the street having coffee, me pumping the guy for Wild West imagery. The Chinese apothecary will be important.

The partnership (say Smiley Dog Ranch) gets to explore itself as a virtual reality, like a miniature WestWorld -- or choose a different motif, and define your own mappings. The point is to show assets, liabilities, net worth.

Thinking globally (me in October of 1996):
Combined with this picture of our ‘Earth-appliance’ plugged into a ‘solar wall socket’, comes a ‘global balance sheet’ of assets minus liabilities, and resulting net worth. GST builds human intelligence into the model on the assets side, with the definition of intelligence as ‘energy channeling programming.’ Just as software processed through the CPU channels electrons in their to-and-fro trajectories enroute to the ground (motherboards being fancy detours between the wall socket source -- AC converted internally to DC -- and the ground), so human intelligence exercises energy-channeling control over whatever energy units, be these currency units or other assets (props).
Given Glenn's strong Southwest background, tanking up on good imagery wasn't hard. He also talked some about the politics of optical fiber around Portland -- what we'll need to use more of, if the projected toon-like "business worlds" keep getting more Uru-like.

Once back at the office, I dove head first into more mundane forms of telecommuting, wherein the eye candy is a lot less flashy.

People who don't need a lot of frills, like a spare or austere interface, have something in common with those Morlock command liners in Neal Stephenson's In the Beginning...

I'm somewhere in between these extremes: comfortable with stark simplicity in some of my native spaces, but needing more guidance and imagery when exploring less familiar terrain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Birds of Prey

I enjoyed observing a few species of these in Sakgit Valley over the weekend, thanks to Elise.

Plus there's the inescapable Klingon meaning, if you're steeped in the same science fiction I am.

Anyway, in a couple of places recently, I've decloaked to put on a fun show, like here on a physics list (meet an assertive philosophy department), and here on math-teach (where women rule!).

OK, mouse time for Naga -- I can't justify just spinning around on my butt all day, fun though that may be sometimes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Campaign Trail

I'm listening to Russ Mitchell and Michelle Miller tell us about Black Friday on CBS News, catching up on some segments I've missed. No "one particular toy" this year. What about eMachines? Speculative small e-tailers, highly enterprising, merchandising over the web -- not a new pattern right?

So I've been running this campaign since the late 1990s, calling it the Great Math Makeover. I like the allusions to cosmetics, makeover TV shows, which leads to angry shouting about superficialness (standard to sling that at changes in math teaching, of any variety). Then I counter "this is not just skin deep," and so on. Fun. Catchy marketing.

So the big line in the sand these days is our group theory in high school plank. We're definitely up against the pre-calculus team and their TI palms. Our goal is to make RSA (aka PGP) transparently easy to comprehend, which requires Euclid's Algorithm, Euler's Theorem (the one that encompasses Fermat's Little (not Last)), an understanding of totients, primes versus composites. A fertile bed exists already: so-called "clock arithmetic" and books like In Code.

But our 21st century curriculum isn't content with just calculators. We insist on teaching programming in some general purpose scripting language like Perl. We're imparting sysop skills not just "factor this polynomial" skills. That makes sense in the Silicon Forest. We've already trounced our opponents in this neck of the woods. But other "belts" in the USA (e.g. rust) might not share our economic system exactly, just like not every country is a rain forest (many in Latin America are -- check out those Andes).

"Sysop" doesn't mean "basement existence" nor does it necessarily mean "male" -- this thing where "math is for guys (as in exclusively)" isn't surviving our migration to cyberspace-based curricula.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We made our annual pilgrimage northward yesterday, to Stillaguamish country. Les had six turkeys going, in a vertical smoker I started calling a "gospador," because it has the same rusted pipe look and is likewise surreal and gorgeous in its own way.

Of course I'm alluding to Gospadors Monument Park on I-5, where Gayle and I (and Wanderer Sarah), took some time to pay our respects. I'll upload a couple pictures when I reconnect with my card reader.

Sarah is happy to be reunited with Bohdi, another four-legged. Elise and the girls made polenta from scratch, grinding the corn in this metal appliance affixed to the kitchen cutting board. Everything seems state of the art around here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Linus Pauling in the News

Sunday Oregonian, Nov 18, 2007
The house I frequent in connection with Wanderers, a group started up by Terry's ISEPP as a kind of informal think tank (we have a coffee fund and that's about it), was Linus Pauling's boyhood home.

He got started on chemistry in the basement I believe (I imagine a kind of wax museum diorama, with tourists traipsing down to see the boy wonder in frozen action -- or how about some audioanimatronics?).

A lot of us think Oregon does too little to celebrate its native sons and daughters. Kenneth Snelson, originally form Pendleton, is another local boy who made the big time as the tensegrity sculptor, plus he has other claims to fame (including some thoughts about chemistry).

The above article might explain why Pauling isn't more celebrated. He dared to question authority, and that's a no-no the way many people think (authoritarians especially). But then, that's another hallmark of our state. We question a lot. It's that pioneering, trailblazing spirit.

Questioning authority also means questioning your own beliefs and models of reality. If you don't do that sufficiently, in a somewhat unforgiving natural environment (Planet Earth for example), you may pay a high price (and as a species, we pay dearly and daily for what we choose to believe).

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Networking

Gayle prepares the "baklava cake"

Arthur Dye and I continued our discussions of AFSC history over Afghani cuisine on Hawthorne, plus I learned about the history of St. Augustine, Florida, where Arthur's family once owned a hotel.

Some of the most die-hard Native Americans were penned in a fort there, during the period of forced resettlement.

This was after seeing mom off at PDX, as she begins her six month sojourn in a warmer clime.

Anne Hyde commented on mom's excellent writings at the birthday party this evening, for Larry and Tom, turning sixty. I filled her in about mom's unpublished novels, especially her historical fiction around the life of Jacopa Frangipane.

Elise and family are just showing up at the front door, gotta go...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

About Branding

I was checking out some diagrams by William Irwin Thompson the other day e.g. a triangle and inverted triangle labeled Cosmos and Chaos respectively (Pacific Shift, Sierra Club Books, 1985 -- Appendix).

If that makes sense, then Fuller's "entropy = one negative tetrahedron" shouldn't be so hard to fathom, yet Arthur Loeb pokes fun at that in his introduction to Synergetics, as symptomatic of the work's supposed incomprehensibility.

Just turn those Thompson triangles into tetrahedra, duh, and you've got a handle on it (now adding "tetrahedra" to the computer's spellchecker dictionary -- again duh (nor was spellchecker itself a word, double duh)). Then read the Omnidirectional Halo essay again? Too hard for Princeton Philosophy, even in 2007? No way!

A lot of brilliant writers who might have done much to weave Bucky's brand with their own -- in the wake of Hugh Kenner's brilliant beginning (The Pound Era), and Applewhite's best shots (Cosmic Fishing, Chemical Intelligencer not to mention Synergetics itself (a collaboration)) -- chose to not do that, at least not effectively. Robert Anton Wilson helped a lot.

Anyway, that left the field wide open for a guy like me to capitalize on this crying need for strong branding, so I suppose I shouldn't complain too much.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Big Science

I crossed paths with Bucky Fuller at Hunter College, NYC. Did anyone save the video? This was in addition to that paper on general systems theory, written in Cairo, or soon after my return -- he thought it was excellent.

Prior to that, I was hanging out with my grandmother Reilley in Apple Valley, North Carolina, being "owly" as she put it (Harry Potter on steroids?).

The build-up to our meeting was suspenseful.

Laurie Anderson's album, Big Science, was especially important to me then, e.g. From the Air: "this is the time, and this is the record, of the time."

Today I'd probably say: listen to that album, if you want to decode me. Or listen to it anyway: good music, good art.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dust Numbers

I spent much of this morning browsing in The Cornell Library of Mathematics Monographs, following cues from Dr. Renfro on the Math Forum, one of our more scholarly filers. I found myself reading The Hindu-Arabic Numerals (1911) by Smith and Karpinski, wondering to what extent I might find corroboration for Bucky Fuller's curious telling in his Everything I Know, of the introduction of ciphers to Europe at the end of the dark ages:
I'm quite certain that the Arabic numerals represented a symbol for the content of the columns; and when they moved over and left an empty column, they had to have the cipher, so the Arabic numerals had the cipher. [1]
Our authors above do a fine job of describing how a mercantile class would have had calculating proficiency far in advance of what school men would have needed, but with only the latter having the time, training (and inclination) to write scholarly treatises. So the formal teaching of algorithms within the curriculum lagged practical applications by some centuries (a well known pattern, especially before the printing press). Bagdad (spelled with no h) was indeed a cultural center for both the formal and informal teaching of such technologies.

However, despite a lengthy discussion of numerals inheriting from sand-drawn abacus characters (so-called gobar numbers), the need for an actual symbol to mark an empty abacus column, versus simply a blank space, gets bleeped over, which seems to me a blind spot, as Fuller's hypothesis is highly credible.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More Upgrades

I'm looking out over wet pavement from a Portland coffee shop, somewhat nervous about the upgrade process going on in the background, taking me to Ubuntu 7.10, the next version. 1127 files are being downloaded at about 124 kb/s. Yes, I'm being a bandwidth hog, but there's only one other laptop sharing the connection, so I think we're OK.

In addition to being on the receiving end of some upgrades, I'm also a source of same. Metaphorically speaking, we feed one another, but I won't say "to each according to his needs" or some such sugary slogan, because manifestly we go hungry sometimes, no sense denying the reality of suffering sentient beings.

Buddhism has a special image of the "hungry ghost": a being with a big appetite, but a pencil thin neck (like dial-up instead of DSL). Per usual, Google comes through with an image (above). Google feeds me, thank you Google, thank you Internet... thank you coffee shop, thank you Ubuntu, thank you PBS and Tibet House.

I'm still hungry though. Shall we call it a healthy appetite for life? Nothing wrong with that is there? We certainly could use some more upgrades around here (thinking of Planet Earth now, not just selfish me).

Feeding one another is both a priority and a necessity. Rampant poverty, starvation makes us all poorer, if only by lowering our self esteem as a species. The resulting misanthropy has us thinking "too many people" is the problem, but I've long assumed "too little intelligence" (i.e. ignorance) is the deeper ill.

Bringing electricity and mutually informative telecommun- ications to the "too many" (ourselves) is what will help make our numbers "just right." Our ability to share upgrades won't bottleneck so badly, as the generous among us share their art and their science, fueling our Be Do Have projects completion cycle.

OK, the upgrade to Gutsy Gibbon (Ubuntu 7.10) is complete. Yay.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

World Game Museum

As I mentioned on Synergeo a few times (a Yahoo! eGroup I used to be a member of), I've been collaborating with colleagues on what we now call the World Game museum.

Of course the Fuller Projection will be a big part of it, probably the centerpiece, maybe as a fold-out Geoscope the way he envisioned for the USIA a long time ago, before Expo '67 (see page 469 of Your Private Sky, edited by Krausse & Lichtenstein, Lars Müller Publishers).

In at least some of the rooms, we'll display once popular K-16 mathematics text books, exhibiting how the ultra-basic elements of synergetic geometry were suppressed by the corrupt, no-integrity scholastics, other idiocrats, of that very dark age. No concentric hierarchy, no A&B modules.

Our model will be some of those postmortem museums I've seen in Germany and places, depicting loser propaganda once popular in Old Europe.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pythonic Biology

from Connecting the Dots (Vilnius, Lithuania)
Included in my teaching gigs these days is a DNA, cell, creature progression, not a perfect analogy, but close enough. Here's a link to my hand-drawn handout (feel free to reuse).

At the DNA level we have primitive data structures, storehouses for information. Tuples, strings, lists, and dictionaries comprise the basic building block molecules of just about any running program.

Meshed with control structures, and provided with an ingestion port (a mouth) these stores get incorporated within functional cells. I say "functional" for a reason, as I'm talking about Python's functions here, top-level citizens in our Pythonic domain. Functions may actually eat other functions; mathematicians call this "composition" as in f(g(g(h(f(g(f(x))))))).

Finally, at the creature level, we encounter our primitive Snake, a class with a backbone, with __ribs__ like __init__. In a class definition, cells become organized into methods. We might switch to talking about internal organs at this point (again, the analogy is imprecise).

A class is a blueprint or template, it pays to remember, less so an actual object, or is an object of a different kind. At birth (initialization), a new self gets created, as in snake = Snake("Naga").

And teachers, remember to mention that "self" is not a keyword so much as a placeholder -- a different unicode string might replace it in some quirky program outside the Standard Library.

Related reading: Python in the Mathematics Curriculum (March 2004).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Meeting for Business

Tara and I biked over to the Stark Street Meetinghouse today, headquarters for Multnomah Friends, to participate in the putting of final touches on this newly remodeled facility. I walked around with my Olympus 720, chattering with old friends, new acquaintances, letting myself savor the experience of future shock.

Mark (FreeGeek, Intel) and I had an especially interesting conversation, about the history of this Society. In thumbnail: after a period of intense persecution, Quakers become "power ins" in the business world, owing to their integrity and simplicity testimonies especially. People wanted to do business with straight shooters who didn't lie or cheat. What a concept! Mark reported FreeGeek is doing quite well these days.

However, after a lot of forks and schisms, it's not clear what happened to all that business acumen. I told Mark that I'd like to galvanize my brand of Quaker, not into proselytizing or evangelizing, into running more banks and businesses again, especially here in the Silicon Forest. Like someday we might establish some of our low key trademarked worship venues in downtown skyscrapers, with muted flatscreens showing off our colorful heritage.

As 4D Solutions CEO or whatever, I'd blend in some Islamic motifs, as I'm seeing lots of positive synergies these days, between Jihad and our Lamb's War; both are replete with alternatives to violence i.e. business strategies consistent with Quakers' peace testimony.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wanderers 2007.10.30

This was the most well attended presentation in recent memory, with listeners overflowing into the alcove and foyer.

Dr George Weissmann discussed his views on quantum theory. His focus: the discontinuity of dharmas (his phrase), the discrete nature of experience, a sequence of distinctions, discriminative moments, events, vertexes, observations.

Particles have properties, including that of being particulate, only when measured (detected, tuned in, reified in special case). In pure principle, these "particles" are more "tendencies" (probabilities, likelihoods, proclivities, incipient views).

I was reminded of passages in Bucky's Synergetics (e.g. 1072.30), also in Franklin Merrill-Wolf's Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object.

Quantum theory is weird, very entangled with philosophical and psychological namespaces.

Dr. Weissmann is Julian's father in law.

The Princess Bride (movie review)

This light hearted tale, in the same genre as Stardust and Shrek, features Andre the Giant, my main motivation for ordering it from Netflix.

The focus is storytelling, not big budget special effects.

The plot is framed as a bed time story, with actor Peter Falk (one of my all time favorites: Wings of Desire... Columbo) reading to his grandson.

Now I need to get this returned, as mom wants to see Who Killed the Electric Car? before she departs for California.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Circus Bus

shared with permission from Cirkus Pandemonium

photos by K. Urner

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima (movie review)

This film is more of an intimate stage play than Flags of Our Fathers, its companion film, although both are psychologically focussed on loyalty, courage, dread and betrayal.

The island serves perfectly as a stage, as all concerned appreciate its ironic and surreal movie set quality. The battle to extract meaning from all this carnage, though invisible, is certainly intense.

Some of the most horrific vignettes, cast as flashbacks, take place in civilian Japan.

The peer pressure on women to sacrifice their love lives and families, because other women have, is exquisitely framed in that scene where the local draft board comes to the front door, serving notice to our foot soldier protagonist -- who never learns to shoot, but admires high command.

The arrogant cruelty (deep immaturity) of an elite special force, and one man's wish to stay human, and consequent expulsion to Iwo Jima as punishment, also makes a lasting impression, and in my library connects to Ralph McGehee's Deadly Deceits, another story of redemption.

The flashback to California is likewise poignant, as we lurk in on a dinner conversation between our Japanese commander and some admiring socialites. The real possibility of war is intimately contemplated, thanks to some party chick who really cuts to the chase.

The symbolism here is the pearl handled Colt pistol, a gift from the Americans to our Japanese general, and a sign that both sides are in some deeper sense the same side (fellow humans), someday destined to become friends.

Of course in retrospect, we all wish we could have skipped to the happy ending, avoiding the nuclear holocaust still to come.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Amusing Women

from the blogosphere

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Something to remember is your phone company may not have the time to alert you about better deals or upgrades.

As an early adopter of DSL, I got what by today's standards is a slow connection, then noticed my latecomer neighbors were surfing along at higher speeds.

Should I have been coddled?

We can argue the ethics of leaving me in the dark until the sun goes down.

Anyway, safe to say, once my suspicions were aroused I quickly phoned Qwest to find out what was what and, sure enough, I could be enjoying twice the speed for a little less per month -- a no-brainer once I'd learned of my option (this was quite awhile ago by now).

Many North Americans share this value: a commitment to individual initiative: don't just sit back and expect some big sis phone company to take care of you. Do your homework, take action. Maybe that's no one else's job but your own?

Want an electronic bill instead of paper but don't know how to use the web? Too bad then. Guess your schools let you down (not our problem).

"Land of the free, home of the brave and all that, what?" (some Monty Python type voice).

Speaking of upgrades, I was overdue for a new cell phone, one with a decent keyboard so I can keep up with Tara's verbose text messages. Mouse clicked for it yesterday, FedEx delivered it today. Mom lost her old one in Seattle so will inherit the Motorola (donating working cell phones to a women's shelter is another good idea).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Letter to Terry (Wanderers Business)

Republished from the wwwanderers archives -- same date as today...

For the record, my main problem with doing a lot of global warming in this archive is it's also happening on so many other lists and I'm always focusing on branding. We might lose our identity if we get lost in local (North American) politics. Morons R Us in that case.

To Terry's credit, he links it in to a big world view type discussion, lots of Kuhn, lots of Carnot. But I don't see those names and/or readings sparking many citations to the literature. A lot of us here are not as scholarly as Terry.

I am though, coming from a way cool school (not like Cal Tech, but still proud), and from philosophy in particular. I like meeting Terry where he's at, as best as I'm able. But doing so at the cost of talking global warming is risky, for the reasons cited above.

Terry, might we shift your entire set of concerns to a different arena? Artificial Intelligence (AI) versus the Roger Penrose model of ratiocination? I know we're both Neo-Platonists of some variety.

In any case, I personally plan to ride out the upcoming electoral storms on a more esoteric plane than global warming, pro or con. I only listen to Dutch engineers on the subject of global warming (no one else has as much standing in my global model).

Whoopi Goldberg for president!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Across the Universe (movie review)

This tableau of clichés, an homage to Jahiliyyah (vacuous liberalism), had me squirming pretty bad, fumbling for that cell phone thinking to play Luxor.

Like, if we're taking histories, give me Kinsey any day.

The King Kong in me wanted to grab a small plane and jab it into my forehead.

That being said, there were funny parts. I liked the American Pop guy at the bottom of the escalator, and the out of control sufi priest in the hospital.

The blue heads were funny, kinda like blue meanies on a diet.

The military geeks were clearly a different species, more like those chocolate factory dwarfs Johnny Depp hangs out with, only bigger.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pet Stories

:: tara with moon kitty ::
Sarah gets a fair amount of airplay in my blogs, for a dog anyway, what with her being an honorary Wanderer 'n all, like Shomar (and Keiko). Moon Kitty is much lower profile. Plus the fish stay in soft focus. Naga is getting bigger, enjoying her calm world (some kind of punctuated equilibrium).

Moon Kitty is a jet black feline, very much an indoor cat. She'd get in trouble when we let her stray. Some cats just don't handle themselves well, in the wilds of Richmond / Sunnyside.

Alexia had Moon Kitty, along with BunBun, the vicious rabbit, before leaving for sunnier climes. Now she has one of those mutant sphinxoid cuties with auto-immune disorders. They're more circus geek kitties, not mainstream, but Alexia is experienced with cats in general, so has developed a good working relationship with her sphynx.

What triggers all this? I was just cleaning the cat box, a product of American pragmatism. An electric poop scraper periodically (at random?) sweeps the base clean. Moon Kitty just has to jump out of the way in case of a scheduling conflict. Works pretty well, provided one occasionally resupplies plastic waste receptacles.

:: alexia with bunbun ::

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

PPUG @ CubeSpace
Sitting right at the same table, Matt McCredie emailed these three cool Python modules from his hard drive to mine: (classic screen saver), (mouse rolls and drags 'em) and (rotating squares), all showcasing Python's ability to talk to Tk.

I'll be sure to mention on 'em on edu-sig, Dr. Zelle's hangout. He's a Python/Tk graphics guru of sorts, author of a top selling teaching book, other resources (like -- easier than Tkinter).

Jeff Schwaber ran the meeting, per his experimental formatting suggestions, then flogged us through his brainchild, pretty effectively I'd say (more background in the archives). He told us our table should read and write code and discuss the Standard Library, which we dutifully did (e.g. we looked at Matt's shlex-based RPN calculator).

I stayed in the back, close to a power outlet, running Ubuntu on Dell, blogging in real time.

Jeff: "eXtreme Programming (XP) is an agile methodology..."

Our Beginners group was ironically probably the most advanced. Tom, new in Portland from Pittsburgh by way of Tuscon, is focusing on making GUIs more accessible, e.g. to vision impaired Python coders.

Accessibility remains a gaping hole in many open source projects (maybe Wayne could branch out in this area?). Microsoft has been pioneering in this regard, setting a bar for others to reach and perhaps eventually surpass (but how long will it take?).

Dwight had some good PyQt-based eye candy to share, competing with Tk's for attention.

Although we talked wxPython, none of us showcased it directly.

I was glad to see Tim Bauman in attendance at another table (he's no beginner, but then neither am I).

Other tables: ReportLab, Web Frameworks, Mercurial.

Jason talked about O'Reilly needing reviewers, and about a sample book he'd left at home (title again?).

CubeSpace was hopping tonight. Lots of meetings in parallel.

This business model is definitely a success. Alexia was thinking it'd fly in Clarksville and/or Nashville. The concept could be franchised and/or rebranded.

Maybe I'll ask at the front desk if they get inquiries from other cities (like Gresham, Lake Oswego?). No time for carousing tonight. Lots on my plate back at the office.

Relevant follow-up on edu-sig: Curriculum Fine Tuning (Fri Oct 12 21:13:57 CEST 2007)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Head Hunters

This somewhat gruesome metaphor, by Hollywood applied to stereotypical brands of savage, also applies to "executive dating services" seeking to capitalize (get paid) by matching best of breed candidates with customized dream teams.

Many high caliber performers languish for never having their heads sufficiently hunted and examined, like this women's clothing store manager, who loves writing C# for .NET way more than he cares about upcoming Fall fashions -- not a good match.

He could move the whole family to India to become a retail app coder, with better living standards, better schooling, for all concerned. But New Jersey seems safer, and besides, without an intermediary to see the possibilities, how is he even to guess at these missed opportunities?

Head hunters are increasingly turning to social networking software, other cyberspace-based technologies, to fine tune their matchmaking. Orkut, LinkedIn, MySpace and so on are a good place to start.

Like dating services, head hunters thrive on repeat business, meaning building a loyal base of satisfied customers is critical. Knowing your niche demographic is likewise vital therefore. Make too many mismatches, and your competition will grab all your business!

Perhaps there's only one person in the whole world most qualified for a specific opening, some barber in Seville. Which head hunter will find him first? It's a game, and a fun one, if you like this sort of thing. I'll risk saying women play it better than men (yes a stereotype), but without claiming their edge is genetic, although it may well be.

My own 4D Solutions is not primarily a head hunting service, but I recognize the value of making good matches, helping people become happy campers in jobs they adore.

So in the course of my generic business day, at the office or on the road, I may well make a referral or two.

And like everyone else here, I'm on a learning curve of sorts, with much further to go in my training. Maybe my "could be a heart surgeon" seems more like a "circus clown" to some of my hospital friends (not that these categories are mutually exclusive of course).

I don't always "make plenty of sense" -- just sometimes.


Thinking more about Terry's project, along with our Wanderers reading Into the Cool, I'm reminded that we're free to create centers of syntropy on planet Earth, given it's an open, sun-powered system.

Not every center is going to hell, at least not all at the same time. We had this same philosophy at Centers Network, come to think of it, wherein a maverick Area Center might turn around and head off in some seemingly entropic direction -- which in higher risk, experimental or prototyping situations, may in retrospect prove a smartly competitive move.

In a human centers environment (HCE) modeled as lots of personal workspaces (PWSs) -- perhaps as a cube space using shared back office server farms -- we tend to focus on "the team" as a management unit.

The size of teams varies, depending on the challenge, the rules, the walk of life (just like in sports).

We introduce Wittgenstein here, especially his "language games" invention (relates to namespaces).

We also look at emerging disciplines like XP (eXtreme Programming), and what they teach us about optimizing the syntropic maturation processes whereby new goods and services become real and ready for prime time.

Plus in some careers / scenarios, lots of solo work is both required and expected. Bucky Fuller's "Guinea Pig B" experiments were sometimes of this variety, plus were meticulously documented to help him learn by trial and error.

General Systems Theory (GST) provides lots of drag and drop palettes to help you get some overview vis-a-vis whatever vista. The palette styles you choose will tend to reflect your own ethnicity and that's perfectly OK, is a practice we tend to encourage in fact, especially when consulting about branding.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Teacher Trix

So I went to this 2.5 hour training session last night at PSU, for both current and wannabe Saturday Academy instructors.

Our trainers were mostly from the public sector and wanted to coach us regarding various pedagogical ploys they'd mastered, perhaps invented, perhaps adapted from some other educator / guru.

One lady had a "talking chair" where kids got to sit if they broke the silence with uncalled for chatter, got the idea from somewhere. Another teacher had an invariably affirmative response even for completely bogus answers, a feature some rascals might enjoy exploiting in darkly comical ways.

It seemed to me that many of these teachers still harbored that myth of an "undivided attention" i.e. had what Fuller branded a "never mind what you think, we're trying to teach you" attitude.

In contrast, we geeks relish the freedom to multi-task, and I tell my students to go ahead and divide their attention in ways they feel optimizes their productivity, maximizes the value they get from my class.

If that means checking email while the presenter is talking, no problem. Adult geeks do that all the time, and it's not considered disrespectful. Quoting from an earlier blog post:
Highly technical talks may be sampled on many levels. I appreciate the freedom to not give my undivided attention to the C# code being discussed on the big screen right now, even though it's really cool.
On the other hand, the presentation may be riveting and/or have cost you time/energy to attend, whereas you can check your email from just about any mom & pop coffee shop in this our fair town.

So my advice is: don't squander the opportunity.

Also, the freedom to multi-task doesn't mean you don't also have the freedom to concentrate your entire being on a single point (belly button?) if you want to and/or still have that childhood ability (some lose it early, with some using medications to address their deficit).

It's just that we don't expect our students to have to always wear that "look and act attentive while thinking of something else" mask, as if completely ignoring their own thought process, denying they even have one.

That's an unwanted holdover behavior from Old Europe or something, detracts from developing one's true potentials (which was maybe the point?).

Shades of Pink Floyd.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Wanderers 2007.10.2

Barbara Stross shared about her life on an island in Panama, with pictures.

She has a beautiful setup, though security is a problem (she gets burglarized when she's gone).

She has an ATV for getting to and from town.

The cisterns fill in like half an hour during the heavy rain storms.

The sunsets are beautiful, complete with lightning. The community is cosmopolitan.

Howler monkeys. Bats. Colorful spiders.

Unfortunately, Barbara's ecosystem is coming under severe strain thanks to unscrupulous developers and consumerist suburbanites expecting "all the amenities" and then some (blech).

Barbara was a school teacher in Portland for many years, at Cleveland (a contemporary of Dick Pugh) and at Metropolitan Learning Center.

Lew Frederick operated Don's PowerBook. Eve Menger joined us as well, and Brian Sharp. Derek. Barry. About thirteen of us in all.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wanderers Retreat

:: detail from music & the brain by Lynne Taylor ::
The theme is apparently telecommunications, or at least that's how it's being for me. Plus other themes, such as chemistry and forensics. One of our visitors is expert at neutron activation, helps police determine where crime scene fragments and shards might have come from. Archaeologists have an overlapping skill set.

I wheeled the giant ergonomic workstation (a monster) behind Terry's desk so we could have an intimate "projection booth" with room for several onlookers, with the intent to not disrupt proceedings in the dining room. We used Terry's computer projector connected to my Ubuntu Dell laptop, also Terry's Apple speakers. The results were quite pleasing: sharp picture, good sound, and a lot of human knowledge at our fingertips, including "youtubes," of which I streamed several.

Greg Kramer was by, and Gloria, who I enjoyed meeting up with during our last retreat was well. Barbara and I talked local politics quite a bit. Jon played wonderfully while Don sang some old hits. Jon needs a well appointed music lab with a fat pipe to the Internet in my view. He wouldn't squander, dymaxion kind of fellow that he is.

This morning involved trips to the airport, getting Tara to a friend's, and serving on a Quaker committee relating to our upcoming Willamette Quarterly Meeting.

Later I hosted a college football brunch (University of Oregon versus University of California), then Trevor took me on a field trip by bicycle to a new electric car dealership on 20th and Sandy. And the winner is... CalBears, thanks to a touchback at 16 seconds.

Evening brought welcome new faces: Buzz and his darling daughter, Elliot Zais, Lynne Taylor, Gus Frederick, a walk-in stranger with many overlapping views... Terry. After the crowds thinned a bit, we projected the full length film Idiocracy, a Hollywood Video purchase.

Terry and I then had a long talk regarding the new intelligent design website, an umbrella forum for a lot of American pragmatist writings Terry's been collecting -- plus he's got some of his own, with lotsa links to ancient Greek philo. We'll likely spice up the mix with a dash of American transcendentalism to boot (I shared about my new "Synergetics as Neoplatonism" meme).

Looking forward.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Back to School Night

I showed up in the auditorium with an OSCON bag full of math toys tonight: flippy ball, MITEs cube, hexapent... eyeglasses, iPod.

But the spotlight wasn't on me, so hardly anyone noticed (OK, one teacher did).

No, tonight was about the curriculum, with each teacher giving an overview: biology, social studies, algebra, writing, mathematics.

I was especially impressed by the writing teacher: very well spoken and poised.

I signed up for a parent, teacher, student conference and then Tara and I left. Gym time for me, while Tara tuned in the season premier of Gray's Anatomy (lots of close ups on facial expressions). Rose was by this afternoon.

Cousin Mary, a real ER doc, likes to talk about when the ER crew came to her Chicago hospital for a dose of reality. By all indications, the dose was pretty light -- enough for ambiance at least.

The hospital: a time-honored background for soap operas. And I'm a star in my very own, with some board meeting in the morning (yep, in a hospital).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Busy Monday

Today included a lot meetings, interesting and full of surprises.

But first, I started my day by watching a lecture by Randy Pausch (Carnegie Mellon... Alice) recommended by Guido, and by helping Tara figure out how to add wings to her cats in Sims 2.


Glenn and I were on Wanderers' business at Peet's, focusing on web tech in particular, cascading style sheets, managing interns. Then we walked over to Powell's on Hawthorne so I could by all the remaining Good Magazine copies (the issue with a guide to Bucky starting on page 89), including one copy for Glenn.

At Esan (great Thai food downtown), I mainly listened as others surfed in the flextegrity namespace over yellow curry. Staff very kindly let us gab past closing.

Then a meeting with Adam Reid of LÊP High, Portland's most innovative public charter high school, newly ensconced in new digs on East Burnside, and running Ubuntu.

Diane and I (both on a Quaker planning committee) shared slides at Fine Grind (cute pandas!).

Then a quick trip up (and down) Mt. Tabor on Tink (part of the daily discipline).

Then Wanderer Greg Kramer is reading at Powell's on Hawthorne, which brings me up to date.

Time to go back and catch some more of Greg's gig.


Back to Fine Grind for meeting with Don, who'd been in the front row listening to Greg, and afterwards chatting with Portland musician Lisa Mann.

Mom helped me get the garbage out for the usual Tuesday pickup.

Time to read up on the Centralia Massacre, plus I have one copy of Good Magazine remaining.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Brave One (movie review)

This beautifully and intensely acted film noir kept my attention from start to finish.

During the movie, I wondered if the dog would be a loose end, was gonna quip "what happened to the dog?" if so.

But a movie this taut hardly has any loose ends; I should have known better (though I do think a radio show host that talented wouldn't have been so left alone by the press in the aftermath).

Pat phoned Dave's cell at American Dream pizza afterward, and I motioned for the phone. She's in our meeting and could double for Jodie in some scenes in this movie.

Packing for BarCamp.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Grotto

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wanderers 2007.9.18

Tonight Allen Taylor is leading an informed discussion of Oregon State ballot measures 49 and 50. The former has to do with land use, the latter with health care for children.

I'm sitting at Terry's desk, filing about One Laptop per Child (OLPC) and Programming for Everybody (P4E), two of my pet topics. I also posted to the Math Forum regarding Michael's questions about how to teach Algebra (not past the censor yet [but here's a related one]).

However, I did wade into the discussion long enough to register my amazement at the whiteman's stupidly oxymoronic contriving to piggy back health care atop a lethal nicotine delivery mechanism (i.e. a cigarette tax). Ceremonial / ritual use of tobacco ain't the same thing as getting rich off the commercial sale of "death tubes."

I also glowingly praised the NavAm casinos for their willingness to fund community and ecosystemic improvements with their profits. Invite the public into an entertaining environment, and let them learn from the many math-based language games available.

Yes the odds are against you, but there's always a cost for having a good time. And who knows, maybe you'll get lucky. Besides, was paying your taxes for maybe less in the way of communal benefits any more fun? Whiteman spends a lot of taxes on other kinds of death tube too (cruise missiles and so on). Which is good for whom again?

I brought in the Tux Droid to show Allen, given his wife's longstanding interest in anything penguin. The droid is controlled by Python programs, authored on my laptop and sent to it via the fish-shaped USB wifi device.

Allen is campaigning for elective office as House Representative for "area 51" (a pun).

David Feinstein let me pet and sweet talk Shomar, a 180 pound English Mastiff, through the window of his customized dog-friendly Miata, always a thrill.