Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wanderers 2008.4.1

Last night's open session was well attended and highly animated.

I admit to stirring the pot, still pumped from all the fan mail I'm getting in the aftermath of my futuristic talk in Chicago.

I fell back on old habits and started trash-talking Abbott's Flatland again, a manifesto of the hypercross dogmatists, even though we have no such dogmatists in our midst, only competent engineers and mathematicians, intelligent laymen.

Aldona's book with the poem by James Clerk Maxwell may also have fanned the flames a bit. Here's an excerpt:
March on, symbolic host! with step sublime,
Up to the flaming bounds of Space and Time!
There pause, until by Dickenson depicted,
In two dimensions, we the form may trace
Of him whose soul, too large for vulgar space,
In n dimensions flourished unrestricted.

To the Committee of the Cayley Portrait Fund
Anyway, I'd intimated ahead of time I'd be open to presenting on my experiments with the I Ching and Unicode. Lynne showed up proclaiming the prospect of a formal presentation is why she came so long a distance, whereas Steve likes the unprogrammed format, specifically because there's no designated speaker.

I suggested as a compromise that we borrow from Python culture and open the floor to "lightning talks," emphasizing how all important is that five minute time limit. Or do Wanderers want to jigger with the formula? Maybe go for ten?

Actually one can say a lot in five minutes if one is well prepared, so that's what I'd suggest to Tacoma and Eugene.

So I got to do my lightning talk, mostly at the white board, saying more about Unicode than the I Ching. Seven, then eight bit American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) has been subsumed as Latin-1 within a context of 114,112 symbols, with room for future growth.

Even the I Ching's 64 hexagrams (themselves in a binary tree), have allotted slots in this codespace, though not every font will bother to include them as glyphs.

Whereas UTF-32 is a fixed-width 4-byte standard, UTF-8 and UTF-16 are both variable width, meaning they lead to more economical file sizes. All three schemes address the same codespace.

Python 3.x source files default to UTF-8.

Dick's lightning talk followed mine, and had to do with urban forestry solutions to the growing asthma problem among school children, especially those close to freeways. I thought his arguments were well reasoned and on target.

We could also drive on freeways less, and/or use different fuels.

I'm channeling my futurism in other directions now, back to my usual venues. Like on Synergeo today, regarding some supposedly authoritative web site: "Still not a space-filling MITE, nothing about the unit volume tet and how that rationalizes other polys -- after more than 30 years. If you need proof that we live in a corrupt, intellectually slovenly society, you've got it." (#39145)