Sunday, August 30, 2009

Memory Lane

We had a meeting of Oversight Committee tonight at the meeting house. When AFSC came up, I tripped down memory lane, waving at the double doors to where the Portland Office used to be in the early 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement.

Silicon Forest
had a hand in these doings, plus Ava and Linus were feeding WILPF with some of the scandalous details regarding Americans being poisoned. Or maybe they weren't the source -- I'm not the historian here.

Later in the meeting, I reminisced about the Salvador Dali painting (a print of course), down in the library adjoining the meeting room. Upstairs was the more attic like area where we engaged in brainwashing the young (e.g. me) in First Day school.

I was yakking with Steve about this First Day, Second Day... convention, imposed by a puritanical (fanatical) wing of our sect, paranoid about saying Moon Day (Monday) or anything so pagan or even wiccan sounding (shudder). Of course we make fun of that now, in part by continuing to use the old locutions in passing.

I'm glad we're doing a body mapping type class led by Susan, one of our skilled. She uses this technique to support musicians, but not everyone who benefits must be a musician. Quakers need to "get off it" with music more (not that we don't have some good ones).

Bare Bones

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Entre Vous
"Internationalization" -- sometimes abbreviated "I18n" (quirky) -- means different things in different contexts, ranging from "globalization" to "lowering tariffs". Psychologically, it may involve defending against xenophobia, ethnocentrism, parochialism.

One man's "defending" is another man's "offending" though, in that ingrown communities with a unique way of life may resist absorption by some "resistance is futile" mob. For example the pluralist Mormons tried to shelter their form of life in a compound.

The USA promises freedom to practice one's chosen religion, if not infringing on the rights of others to do the same. This promise means little if it simply means everyone is expected to embrace standard brands of voodoo economics, consumerism, and/or nuclear family madness.

A smart cosmopolitan center knows where to stop with the annexation drive i.e. if those wishing the freedoms of urbane existence have those luxuries, then any striving towards monoculture at the expense of diversity should be itself regarded as a form of xenophobia, i.e. it's not just those "primitives" or "backward tribes" who have a problem with future shock.

In so-called Cyberia people are working 24/7 to keep the many written languages from ending up on the ash heap of history simply because engineers were neglectful around helping them make the transition. On the contrary, rescuing dying languages, with the aid of the Internet, would be more in line with what designing engineers are dreaming about doing, plus inventing some new ones.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Domestic Weirdness

I've been raggin' on Democrats for getting all naval gazey once in power, still planning to steer towards the rocks by just forgetting about the troops until 2011, getting all self absorbed with health care and tent cities.

Of course that's not going to work: we can't have a real recovery while still spilling oil without mercy -- not what our sponsors (including we the people) wanna pay for.

That being said, I'm still somewhat selfishly self absorbed in mundane domestic weirdness...

There's been playing tag with Tag, meaning we've had these little address snafus with literarily significant side effects:
  • In her case, 800 became 8000 and she detoured to a mosque out on SE Burnside somewhere.

  • In my case, I missed a 'nw' in her text message and went to 'ne', ending up in front of some head shop kind of place, more for yogis though.
We straightened both of these out, but not without appreciating the irony.

Another homey snafu was the dishwasher, Kitchenaid model KUDP01xxx. The clean light just flashed, with official manuals saying something about heater circuit, call service. However, I knew it might be a reset issue, did what a lotta folks do: killed the power at the fuse box. Not a fix.

However, I often give the same advice that applies to me as well: if you're in a particular hell, go Google and maybe you'll find others in a similar hell, and maybe there will be a solution (works for some computer problems, but why stop with those?).

Sure enough, some dweeb with a $115 repair bill coughed up a secret code, like hit these two buttons within three seconds, shut door, hit cancel. Voila, problem fixed? Or I think so... (we're doing a test cycle as I blog).

Does all this mean I'm not thinking about my "starvation == torture" campaign for the Quakers? Of course not. I did some work on that today, in addition to visiting a Turkish import shop, a Himalayan shop, Blue Moon on 21st and NW Glisan, and Cafe Umbria on 12th and Everett, enjoying the company of some interesting world game players.

Tom is out of his rehab center. I haven't heard any news from Wayne lately, but then I'm stuck on my high desert school projects anyway, as is Anna with TECC.

I'd chalk up school reform with health reform, bottle necked behind no one wanting to bring home the troops. How does Uncle Sam expect to keep borrowing money if he can't articulate his core policies? Whassup in Iraq, besides stupid violence that is?

The election was fought and won, but Iraqis, like USAers, encounter mostly manipulated puppets set to go off with hysterical conniption fits if their puppet policies are not followed. It's something of a mystery where all the string-puller Dr. Evils are lurking.

Could it have something to do with needing those contracts to keep paying the bills?

At least the popular vote provides a clear historical record of the where people were coming from. Maybe Aqua Teens will solve the Dr. Evil conundrum?

So it looks like the dishwasher problem is not resolved, dang it. It gets about as far into its cycles as last time, then dies. Maybe the water isn't hot enough? Heating element damaged?

I forgot to mention the melted calculator I found near the heating element, one of mom's. We're pretty militant against calculators in this family, as they're a bottle neck to serious education reform, but that doesn't mean I'd condemn them to waterboarding. No, this was inadvertent.

Mom says she can't figure out how it got in there, nor is it certain this half-melted doodad is what messed up the appliance. I'll try calling for service tomorrow maybe. In the meantime, it's back to dishes by hand.

The whole kitchen could use a remodel, keeping the stainless steel counters. That'd be creating jobs, doing our part for the economy.

But as reality TV, it wouldn't stand on its own (yawn). We're already maxed out on "this old house" kinds of shows.

Project Earthala
would be more the product placement bonanza, a kind of international school run by Quakers and such, prototyping tomorrow's better lifestyles today. We'd attract a young audience (plus oldsters), eager to try out for new parts.

I need to get with other producers on this and stop worrying about my kitchen eh?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Perfect Blue (movie review)

This animation dovetailed with some of the thinking I've been doing regarding points of view, i.e first, second and third person viewpoints.

We have a tradition in western civ (eastern too) of allowing a movie camera to play the role of omniscient observer, akin to the novelist's voice in most fiction, able to boldly go where no mortal embodied human could go.

Even where non-fiction is concerned, whenever "the whole story" gets told, it's usually such that no one individual could be said to have witnessed the whole business -- which is why "assembling the puzzle pieces" (in a puzzle palace) is so the right metaphor. We use the 3rd person to tell stories from a point of view to which storytellers lay claim, but not as eyewitnesses. All of history is like this, which in some ways makes it suspect, inauthentic, always open to re-tellings (happens every day).

Stories that hold water allow for cross-checking, omni- triangulation. Stories that leak like a sieve consist almost entirely of loose ends.

To remind yourself of how easily we take the "omniscient camera" for granted, imagine an intimate kissing scene wherein a protagonist suddenly points to the audience and says "what's that camera doing here?" -- in Blair Witch Project maybe, but that's not the usual convention.

Per the "spectator viewpoint", inherited from theater going back to the very beginning of thespianism, the audience is not "in the play" yet is a witness to a re-enactment (a drama). Such an audience may be privy to secrets none of the players gets to know. No wonder we like theater and TV so much: we get the surrender the burden of just being a lowly first person, stuck in a body, having no clue (or precious few).

In this film, ownership of the paranoid stalking fantasy is problematic in that it's somewhat unclear whose nightmare belongs to whom. The stalker creep and the protagonist heroine are both in communication with the same "good girl" ghost, who stays the course as an innocent pop star in a somewhat superficial child-like world, versus a more mature adult actress with merely one line as an extra, but with offers of more exposure if only she'll consent to exploring a dark side, becoming a rape victim for the cameras, a porn star.

Everyone having the nightmare is torn by the same "loss of innocence" dichotomy, so it's a coming of age story.

In terms of a whodunit, there's a tentative resolution in the denouement, however the climax, a dizzying vertigo of waking up, realizing it's a dream, just a movie, just a mirage, just a dream again, casts existential doubt on any "outcome". The wall between illusion and reality is deliberately eroded in the editing (self consciously, as a theme), somewhat undermining any literal solution to the puzzle, and yet we get there in the end (just barely though).

What interested me a lot were the urban landscapes, the zoom outs from a modern Japan. Like Crumb, these artists make no effort to artificially prettify. The clutter, crass commercialism, ala cinéma vérité, is front and center. Our star is a hard working single girl in a big lonely city, with the Internet just making it seem even bigger and lonelier (her stalker writes her blog).

This "stark reality" motif is fairly standard in horror movies (this one is gruesome enough to qualify, though a cartoon), as we're more likely to appreciate the disintegration of a psyche, the incursion of the extraordinary (the surreal), against the backdrop of the everyday, the mundane.

Charles Dickens used a similar technique in A Christmas Carol, other works.

The sentimentality of a "sugarized" G or PG vista, more expected of childrens cartoons and happy talk TV drug commercials for anti-depressants (usually featuring comfortably middle class boomers with coverage) suggests is a different kind of surreality, a lack of authenticity, an artificial veneer.

Sometimes people start wars (or return to 'em) because they get tired of such surreal PG shallowness. Some artists make it their business to provide more constructive (as in satisfying) forms of sublimation, a better alchemy. "Spin doctors" may provide this as well. TV shows like Lost come to mind, or Six Feet Under.

However, most so-called "reality TV" so far fails to fit the bill, is too tawdry and cheap and therefore unlikely to transmit any real "people skills" at the end of the day. Couch potatoes addicted to such fluff grow up to be revengeful nerds, stay larval, never learn to play World Game with much coordination. Yet they call themselves "programmers"?

We have a viral health epidemic of "unreality TV" programming, with drug commercials paving the way. Note that I'm not "against drugs" (on the contrary), am no Quaker teetotaler. It's the TV commercials I find ridiculous, patronizing, nakedly exploitative, in combination with the hypocrisy of keeping naturally occurring, potentially inexpensive ones unaffordable (i.e. "out of bounds").

No wonder people feel depressed, get suicidal: they're surrounded by fraudulence and low integrity predators, various brands of "killer capitalism" that even hard core capitalists can't stomach (our hero Fuller called it Obnoxico, and fought it all his life).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Holding Pattern

Well, lots of interesting ideas in these blogs I'm thinking, but boomers wanna talk about health care a lot more.

They warned us about "the graying of America" and this is what that looks like. Younger folk elected the current USA administration in hopes of real change (ending the war in Iraq for starters), but it's an aging population that's dictating the agenda right now, and that means lots of talk about hospitals and end of life care.

Not that we don't need reform in this area, obviously we do, and it affects all generations, not just the aging boomers.

But what about the future? Any interest in that? I'm in a holding pattern as my areas of focus aren't generating much debate. My issues are admittedly esoteric, have to do with... well, if you've bounced around in these blogs, you already know the score.

Yakking with Koski on the phone this evening reminded me of Teilhard de Chardin's philosophy. David was talking about how "the future" should be a religion, how it's a cultural mirror ("even George Jetson had a boss he didn't like, went to work every morning"). Kill the future and you've killed the present (rendered it meaningless). So true.

In Teilhard's view, we could project God as the future, such that drawing closer to God would involve the birth of our "next self" (this connects to my little homily below, about shedding old snake skin, practicing jihad per what Jesus was teaching).

I think boomers still have the potential to pull out of their self-absorbed state and think more "big picture". We need to honor our heritage, including our Native American heritage, and think about the future of Planet Earth, not just about personal mortality.

Given all the pressure to "get on with it" in my corner, I experience some frustration so have been venting a lot on Synergeo lately, letting off steam. I'm like a train on a siding someplace, waiting for some other train to go by.

John Brawley was asking why I don't try my hand at fixing the Wikipedia page on Synergetics but I'm more inclined to pass the torch at this juncture. Here's what I wrote (excerpts from a couple different postings, skipping some of the more colorful technoinvective):
I put some hours in the notes, the discussion, easily accessed, giving how I'd develop it, but I didn't start that page and have no agreement with the original author to assume ownership, plus there's that link to Synergetics Coordinates, an orphan page in that no one claims it or seems to know what it's about, least of all Cliff, though it seemed to start out with his name all over it.

It's just a disaster.

What I'm thinking is people at Stanford, instead of swilling in gossip and taking cheap shots, should write something coherent and intelligent, prove they're a school worth attending...

...Sure I could dive in and take over that page, but a big part of me doesn't want to lift a finger, rather use this as evidence that "leaving everything to Kirby" just means Kirby digs [a] deeper and deeper grave for everyone doing that....

I'm waiting for the gulag professoriate to step up to the plate. There's a vast army out there of people calling themselves "philosophy teachers" and pulling down a paycheck, charging tuition. At places like Stanford.

Anyway, with Wikipedia that crummy, more people who really want to learn the stuff come to my website ( or visit Trevor's, learn the real deal.
I'm picking on Stanford because that's the home of the Fuller archive. Some of us were supposing Synergetics might get some more explicit attention, but for the most part we're getting a lot of dime store psychoanalysis of Fuller, not much focus on his Mite or the concentric hierarchy -- all very teachable, but apparently of little interest outside of my hypothetical Coffee Shops Network (newfangled philosophy talk, dressed up in business clothing).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Journaling

I'll be presenting the Oversight Report in Meeting for Business this morning, going over new memberships, transfers, some death minutes. A Quaker enterprise keeps a "ship's log" in the form of minutes coming in from many watch points. Oversight, as is clear from the name, provides some overview perspective, like "from the bridge".

In the meantime, I'm journaling in my Quaker journals, these days known as "blogs" (web logs). I've been trying my hand at Biblical exegesis lately, thinking about how when Jesus said "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" that connotes either a triangle or tetrahedron.

Also, "Is the Pope Catholic?" is often proffered as a somewhat nonsensical question because the answer is "by definition" rather than empirical (one wouldn't run a blood test). However, the question "was Jesus a Christian?" is far less nonsensical, with "no" probably the most meaningful answer (he was Jewish, duh).

Finally, on the Wittgenstein list, I offer an interpretation of what he meant about bringing us a sword of compassion (inward weapon) and seeming to preach hatred of one's own family, a perennially troublesome passage, used to this day as ammo by those wanting to cast the guy as a crackpot. Here's a quote from that list:
This'd be my interpretation of Jesus's teaching to hate your own mother (Matthew 10:34-37): if you wanna grow in the Light (Quaker talk), then experience your projections (world) as suffocating, come to hate them, your projections around mom a great place to gain traction (doesn't mean you treat her shabbily -- this is your inward jihad, not hers (she's got her own cross to bear [e.g. she has you to put up with (ed.)])).

You need to hate yourself to save yourself, but "yourself" and "your world" are misconceived as two different animals at the bottom of the ladder [TLP allusion (ed.)] -- so hate the world on purpose and see what that gets ya (to a new world?).
However, mostly when I focus on the Bible I go back to the old testament stories about the Garden of Eden and Tower of Babel. These have become somewhat interwoven in my thinking as in both cases the problem was humans trying too hard to rise above their station and experiencing the consequences.

At least in the Tower case, the sin was hubris. In the Eden case, you have a way of blaming women for Man's problems which bespeaks of an immature patriarchy at the helm. One might look to Tetrascroll as a counter myth, taking the Genesis-embedded "talking snake" to represent a yet older wisdom tradition predating anything Middle Eastern and using the dragon for branding. Of course this borders on heresy and takes some geeks out of the Christian namespace all together, though perhaps closer to Jesus.

Speaking of triangles, I was explaining to a busy MVP about my triangle: Wittgenstein's writings, especially the later stuff, connecting to Fuller's Synergetics, connecting to Pythonic mathematics and the concept of namespaces per Zen of Python (import this). My Synergetics Dictionary, a gift from CIA's E.J. Applewhite (Operation Mockingbird etc.), is a compilation of "use cases" giving traction to our "meaning as use" operationalism in Wittgenstein's neighboring philosophy talk.

How could a namespace as remote as Synergetics generate so many cool inventions and innovations? The waxing and waning of the world is what Wittgenstein associated with "judgment day", an eternal novent outside of time, not some dramatic climax (or "cosmic wimp out" as the case may be) to the historical soap opera at "the end of time" (i.e. it has nothing to do with apocalyptic Hollywood-style disaster flicks).

Fuller, in committing to serve omni-humanity, enjoyed a lot of bandwidth as a result (cite I Seem to Be a Verb). If you get really selfish and hunker down, a lot of that bandwidth goes away. Even a non-specialist will see how "God's will" might feature in this model, aka tao in Confucianism.

My chauffeuring work has me driving a Chevy Malibu these days. Sometimes that includes transporting musical instruments, not just people. I'm not allowed to drive pets or other non-humans however (sorry Sarah) as this car belongs to a company fleet and comes with stipulations, not unlike a bizmo in that respect.


One of the more interesting questions to arise at Meeting for Business arose from a Property Committee report regarding the hearthkeeper position. Lots of groups want to rent space in our building for meetings, sometimes espousing wacky conspiracy theories focusing hatred in perculiar ways. There's a chance Quakers could be misperceived as endorsing these theories, simply for having rented the space.

Certainly we're not required to accept money from just any group that comes knocking and have the right to completely disavow any affiliation with inimical groups that sneak in under the radar to preach their nefarious and twisted dogmas from within our inner sanctum. Mistakes happen. Live and learn.

That being said, we're not hell bent on always feeling "comfortable" with what every group says, e.g. don't want to turn away all future teachers who might be challenging us in our complacency with subversive teachings. John Woolman was a subversive after all, as was James Nayler. As liberal Friends, we have a soft spot for heretics.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wanderers 2009.8.12

Keeping Simple

I'm writing this well after the fact, having joined Wanderers around 8 AM, finishing with lunch at a Thai food restaurant (I had Thai coffee only, not feeling flush enough to fork out -- plus why feed the fatty?).

Today was especially interesting because we had full fledged navigation charts spread out on the table. A number of us, me not included, are planning a sail boating adventure from Seattle to Astoria, taking about four days at sea. Barry, Jeff, Sam, Glenn, Don... lots of maritime knowledge between them, including about the specifics of the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

David Feinstein joined us later and earnestly suggested I don't forget spreadsheets as a part of this digital math track. Sure, a coding language like Python could be in the mix, but not at the expense of dropping out spreadsheets. I readily agreed (David gives me excellent advice, is one of those "smartest guy I know" types, Glenn too, though they've developed their respective intellects in different dimensions).

There's some spreadsheet program out of the UK coded in IronPython and using Python as the language for coding what goes on in the cells. That might be an ideal product to train on sometimes, even if one ends up using Excel on the job.

We had a really cool XX with us as well, new to our group, into teaching permaculture at her local grange, transitioning from landscaping to full scale farming. I reminded her to videotape her classes, which she appreciated, wrote it down.

Hey, congratulations Kym, on that Better Homes and Gardens article. You made it (anonymously) into some esoteric Wittgenstein-related post, as did the phone call from Steve Holden, PSF chairman. All in all, today was a really great day, not least because mom's knee is improving (the sudden change in barometric pressure affected her joints, I'm pretty sure).

I spent some time with TC again, at the rehab center, watching Keith Olbermann, then CBS News. Keith was scratching the surface regarding US-based suppliers of roadside bomb parts in Iraq, defending GE in the process. The town meetings about health care are on the surreal side. USAers are indulging in full throttle melodrama, giving in to apocalyptic paranoias. That's Protestants for ya.

Congrats to all those Medal of Freedom folks, including Archbishop Tutu, Sidney Poitier, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kennedy, other luminaries. This seemed quite the bumper crop of change agents, I agree with our president.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

AI Bots

I've been posting to the Wittrs list about my proposal for ending starvation by upgrading the status of "garbage patch kids" to that of full time work/study students or, in some cases faculty. Given the BS people get away with around AI, I think the bar is already plenty low, such that no human being should fall below "student" in status, and as such should feel entitled to food, water, clothing and shelter per United Nations declarations, as well as to skills-building curriculum materials e.g. OpenCourseWare from MIT, classrooms of the future.
I'm back [to] my kids in the garbage heap (literally), not getting paid to do philosophy, whereas others are rewarded for playing in garbage. I'm not saying to not reward any of them, I'm saying we should reward all of them, and indeed, it's a measure of our curriculum's worthiness (in some non-relative sense, given we have only the one world) that we should rise to the occasion and do so ("if you're not about ending starvation, how are you really a philosopher -- just asking?" might be my query for a post linguistic turn medical ethicist). [ source, Aug 7, 11:40 pm ]
Of course some of this comes across as bitter satire as I'm seeing academia as a real bottle-neck these days. The onus is placed on politicians to save our bacon, whereas of course their abilities have been severely curtailed by their lack of technical skills, the fact that our high schools have been left some thirty to fifty years behind, thanks to ETS and its sick joker "partners in crime" (various brands of hyper-specialist unable to connect the dots outside their own narrow disciplines).

Few respond to this satire though -- it goes over their heads. Academic philosophers have done as poor a job around Wittgenstein as they've done around Bucky Fuller, meaning we have a stronger hand in the private sector. The emerging alliance between high schools and private industry, cutting out high tuition middle-men (a righteous and dogmatic church) should not mean poverty for our faculty however. Getting Food Services and Building Services up to speed is a high priority goal. We need all the talent we can get, and then some.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Education Planning

School Sculpture
Twas my privilege to join some of the best and most innovative teachers in Oregon yesterday, to figure out if we were putting more discrete math into computer science, or more computer science into discrete math. Either way, by 2010 we'd like core curriculum credits given to digital math students in exchange for seat time and/or recognized achievement against standard benchmarks. We're looking at pilots, more than across-the-board adoption, given the small number of qualified teachers, skeptical administrators and so on.

We're going off existing state standards from Oregon State for discrete math (high school level). We have electronic media and distribution, eager grad students, so it's highly realistic to not wait for the big east coast textbook, trucked across North America, aimed at saving us from ourselves. Don't want it, don't need it. We've got CS Unplugged from New Zealand. We've got NSF funding for modules. What more could we need? More computers, for sure. Every high school needs some terabytes, for saving school plays, athletic events, speech and debate events, the school paper.

In Oregon you need three years of math by law, which is traditionally Algebra 1, Geometry, some 3rd thing, but then many urban kids are getting those first two by middle school (there's a disparity with rural areas, which I'm hoping the XRL academies might address, also the various brands of bizmotica). A third year might be something more digital perhaps? I took my standard line that calculators might be displaced at any level around any topic, including analog math topics such as convergence to a limit (the Litvins text is pregnant with examples, Python generators apropos).

This was a six hour meeting with a break for lunch. A high point was T. Smith over sandwiches, talking about a tour group he'd hosted the day before, consisting of Chinese teachers, including university level, checking out this Sherwood school district, seeing all the bells and whistles (they already have clickers and, like in Beaverton, the teachers at least, have access to Youtube, are free to project 'em). Anyway, it turns out Smith's son is fluent in Mandarin and lives in Shanghai and was able to introduce his dad live over Skype, to these Chinese tourists. That somewhat blew them away -- a good kind of shock 'n awe (more civilian -- as in civilized) we're all experiencing these days, not just the Chinese (or call it "globalization" as in "forming a Global U").

Regarding theses state standards, my contention is once you revisit art history with a large format screen, you're gonna want ray tracing experience, and hard fun with polyhedra will give you the right scaffolding for understanding about vectors, translation, scaling, rotation, the methods for doing those (my POV-Ray and VPython segments). The standards are silent on polyhedra except polyhedra are graphs and graph theory is present. I wouldn't call it a "loophole" but will cop to bending the rules a bit, to squeeze them in (like V + F = E + 2 is germane to graph theory, who doesn't think so?).

Lindsey ran her mouth (as she puts it) both ways in the car, sharing practical bookkeeping regarding the rock star business she's in, a textbook example of "computational math" i.e. highly logical and to-the-bone relevant in terms of proteins versus money to pay the mortgage. She also contributed in highly valuable ways to the meeting, as I expected she would (she's on my "top five" list of smart cookies, right up there with Jody and Suz (yes, I know some smart guys too)). For example, she pointed out that a serious self schooler might land a job directly with private industry minus the liability of indentured servitude to a college or university. Having strong technology teachers in high school can make a huge difference (she'd had one, took his course several times, advancing in skills and understanding, starting with the Mandelbrot Set).

After the gig in Sherwood, we drove the keyboard and stand, cords, to what might be Lindsey's last open mic for awhile at the women's bookstore In Other Words, which used to be close to The Bagdad, is now on NE Killingsworth.

Grace ran it as a healing ceremony complete with sacred space rituals of the kind Dawn was so good at (Grace is good too). Each person there (all XXs except me) got to do some testifying and signifying.

I made a plug for "my" Cult of Athena (apropos given the audience), introducing myself as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Coffee Shops Network and greater geekdom, yakking about the temple in Nashville 'n stuff ("FOSS covens... FOSS witches").

We all shared water fresh from Mt. Shasta, just collected there yesterday. I found this all very Portland (in a good way) plus I had the Toshiba Satellite and was rattling the keys for the Wittgenstein discussion list, getting some words in edgewise there too.

That was all yesterday. Today, Dr. Nick is around, doing laundry and sorting stuff, comparing notes about this and that. He tracks a lot of the same players I do.

Related post to math-teach (Math Forum).

Thursday, August 06, 2009


[ censored -- another, related video substituted ]

I was the grumpy guy this evening, having a hard time keeping my misanthropy in check.

read a superb poem he'd written, the dancing and music were good, plus we had some OK speeches, so what was my problem?

I'm not a big believer in "powerful men" I suppose, as if we had any, we wouldn't still be dinking around with this stuff, trying to ban these godawful WMDs. What's the point of letters and petitions? There's nobody out there, besides wimpy politicians on soap boxes, echoing back what we wanna hear, might as well talk to a mirror. I feel trapped in The Matrix without a phone, and no "red pill" either.

Truly powerful men would've moved on by now, would have more interesting problems to deal with besides trying to prevent "pushing the button" and committing mass murder. We're just a buncha losers mousing around in Facebook.

Hey, I do it too, have my pet Facebook causes. I joined "people against using dogs as live shark bait" and if my CSN idea kicks in, I'll be able to send 'em real money, as a consequence of some furious game playing brought to me by Jack Daniels or Red Bull or whatever.

I should breath into a paper bag, take a Xanax or something (no, I've not tried one).

How about powerful women, do we have any of those? Given the men have struck out, one would hope that we did.

Actually, I think we have powerful individuals of both genders, but they're far outnumbered by the power hungry. A lot of these latter need nuclear weapons for an ego boost, helps 'em feel "in control" like with Viagra (I've not tried that yet either).

Here's a recent dialog I was having about the above 1957 Disney Youtubes, made over a decade after August 6 and August 9:
Me: Ironic about "seeing no downside to atomic energy" given what was already in the rear view mirror at the time, i.e. the script here is already highly sugar coated, what Disney is good at.

Him: You have to understand that when this was made, nuclear reactor meltdowns were the stuff of science fiction and the dangers of atomic bombs (other than the destructive power of the explosion) were virtually unknown.

Me: Check the date re "dangers of atomic bombs... were virtually unknown" -- two cities already vaporized, effects of fallout evident. That's what's so amazing -- these were made later ("virtually unknown" thanks to willful forgetfulness?).

Him: The effects of fallout were not evident. Yes, two cities got destroyed (not vaporized... the two first atomic bombs were firecrackers compared those we have today) and people got burned and died but the thorough effects of radiation were not known. Hell, the very EFFECTS of a nuclear detonation weren't known until the first one went off. Many scientists believed that it would ignite the entire atmosphere.

Me: Yes most people were indeed still ignorant of radiation effects this many years later, thanks to all the effective dumbing-down PR, agreed.
Am I against civilian nuclear power? What do I care what I think, I'm not the one to ask. I do think it makes sense to stop blurring the two. You can have the power without the weapons.

Now that Iran has come this far with those facilities, they should just turn those suckers on already, start feeding the grid, send power to Baghdad etc.. Or maybe they've done that already?

The global data we're getting is so piss poor, so degraded, we'd likely not know.

Is Gitmo empty yet
? Would they even tell us?

Who cares about informing the public. TV is all fiction, all fake. I don't believe most of what anyone says about nukes. I don't recognize any real authorities on my tube, just pundits and their short half-life belief systems, espousing whatever the "insider du jour" is supposed to espouse (snicker).


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Relationless DBs

In CBS Tower

How many geeks does it take to screw in a light bulb? Quite a few, so far no dice. Igal is manfully wrestling with the ceiling mounted projector, one of the building crew helping out. This is KOIN tower, aka CBS building, and I'm jacked in over the Wifi. I'd say we're about 15-20 in number, all XY, mostly under 50 i.e. I'd be the designated geezer in the room.

Maybe a different computer will work? We've seemingly exhausted the notion of the projector having problems... heh, four more walked in (including an XX), we're a packed house.

While we wait for technical difficulties to resolve... yet more coming in... these are maybe Ruby people mostly? I'm not seeing many guys I know (lining the side wall now, light bulb not lighting -- the projector is on, but blue screen of death).

Yeah, all Ruby people. I'm here cuzza the non-relational DB angle, Python conversant with, but Tokyo Cabinet is really looking at Ruby clients. That's on the list. Woah, another few. I'm not even the only geezer anymore, woo hoo. Light bulb on! Except flickery (rastery actually) but we'll live. OK, I'll shut up now, the entertainment has begun... (email from Kyle, cool).

SAOpdx social networking event on screen, igal flipping through a number of opportunities (Congressman Blumenauer..., UX Book Club, Bear 'n Blog (camping), Portland Ten Startup Workout (businessy topics), Javascript Admirers group (Jesse's, a group I'm familiar with (missed HTML5 dammit))).

I'd say I had the longest hair but for pony-tail over there, but I got a haircut last week, so am blending in with my gray. We're mostly practical summer cuts, the younger XX's shorter than mine. Saw Joan Rivers on CBS Morning Show some, yakking about "rich people" (someone being buried in a Gucci body bag).

Brian is soft spoken, doing a classic slide show on Rubinius, a new VM eh? MRI C, MRI Ruby RBX, RBX Jit, RBX Jit Inline... losing me guy. "The world is written in C" -- yeah, sorta true. MRI is competition I gather, as is Microsoft's IronRuby (compiles to CLR, like IronPython -- is IronScheme still happening?).

Lots of Ruby in Rubinius, mixed with optimized machine code (from C). Engine Yard is the company here. Lets do a timeline with proportionally spaced dots, but no dates, quirky. We need to mic this guy. LLVM JIT #a3526242 was a milestone. Kinda the same idea as Python of course: source code compiles to what looks like assembler (machine code), lotsa splat. Will Unladen Swallow eat this thing? I couldn't tell ya.

Why I'm here is I have this idea of document databases, not ACID compliant, but not needing to be, filling with medical record information, a lot like on Facebook, but instead of "friends" you have medical devices and testing equipment adding data to your transcript, technicians annotating, doctors prescribing, stuff that'd normally bulge a mortal's virtual suitcase of MR events and procedures.

Trying to shoehorn all this into SQL engines is somewhat perverse? Instead, send SQL engines through to harvest from MRs (more like long roles of butcher paper), give them read-only or read/write access perhaps.

An MRI (machine) could contain such an engine, just like those old Quintons I used to work with in CVL, or the FoxPro stuff I did to back CVOR perfusionists with their on-screen data collecting. Sometimes (maybe only once) they'd phone me in during an open heart operation, complaining about the font (secret plan: see if Kirby turns green behind his mask (also hair net and shoe covers)). Dr. Furnary and I were hacking on CORIS, Andy Bennett its godfather (back in the CORE days -- outcomes research).

OK, some geek is interrogating Brian about the business model behind Engine Yard in particular, a hosting company? What justifies this apparently out-sized support of a VM project, kinda like building a pyramid in your living room (kinda Close Encounters) -- my analogy. Seems having a robust VM behind a Ruby application hosting service is a real engineering dream. Google App Engine comes to mind, as a yet bigger investment. Mine is stuck in limbo cuz my source code is trapped in the Jackalope carcass, rotting away in my living room, awaiting emergency services.

Portland is a hotbed of Ruby activity says MagLev guy. MagLev is a hacked optimized Smalltalk VM, sort of. Cool logo. Here's a real Maglev website. MRI is competition again. What's Gemstone again? A company. MRI parses really fast.

Igal is up now, doing good overview, setting up the namespace for us. Lotus Notes is a document-oriented DB. Medical records in Lotus Notes? That's a first approximation maybe (I never used it). AskSam is one I remember. He says "Zah deb" for ZODB, wow. I've always said "zee oh dee bee".

Non-relational (a Papst, someone just gave me a Pabst! -- no beer diet on hold, had a few Buds in high desert, yakking with rancher types) databases improve speed, flexibility, reliability, scalability. Eliminate table schemas, constraints, transactions, locks. Heresy! Call the cops! There's something brittle / fragile about SQL engines, the way igal talks. We're feeling scared about them now, they could all break tomorrow. Google uses BigTable with "eventual consistency" (the not ACID part). You need more asynchrony in such global, distributed systems in the cloud. Airline reservations, banking, ticketing... still SQL why not? Is what I'm thinking.

This is a lot what XML was supposed to be doing? Actually these aren't mutually exclusive tools. Igal knows cool lore about Flickr, LinkedIn... he's done some homework I'm thinking. These DBs tend to have master-slave relationships, or hub-satellites if you dislike the mock classism.

Geeking out with a Pabst, does it get any better? The screen isn't even rastering anymore. Emails to/from Chris Brooks, gotta order from Quiznos, forwarded to Ms. Walker (who also likes Pabst... is a geek).

Check out MongoDB for a good example of this kind of stuff. In a future Portland math class, we might spend some time hacking on these. Smart cookies will figure the math segues to/from what's in the school's standards (schools compete, not states, not nations, the way I'm thinking). Tokyo Cabinet + Tyrant ( Magnitudes faster than CouchDB on lookups but crazy slow with queries (filters). Let's look at the Rufus library... (so many libraries...).

Philosophy would have no problem making bridges, so if the math experts fall on their faces, just tell 'em it's "a language game" (like chess). Problem here is: we don't teach philosophy to children (for some silly reason).

Tokyo Cabinet is a descendant from BerkeleyDB in some ways. "It's become very fashionable to create these..." Then we have "graph databases". Some guy in the audience: sounds like he's talking about polyhedra of course: vertices, edges... CouchDB is pretty sophisticated, though "very, very, very slow" says the slide ("was I doing something ridiculously wrong?") -- relative to Tokyo Cabinet no doubt, but it has ACID, versioned documents... lots more overhead because of the features (get those in place, maybe speed it up later?).

Random thought from high desert: now that GM is so much a slave to the taxpayers (corporations are subhuman, so we're OK talking this way), why not have GM do a lot of the drivers' ed in high schools, make that a mission of dealers somehow? They've cut out driving instruction in our schools, as well as home economics (also most music, art...), given the constricted mindset doing the controlling, intent upon "world domination" in an intellectually lazy, idiocratic sense (too many Pointy Hairs, not enough Coneheads).

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Buried Treasure!

bucky combo - quick pass from michelle on Vimeo.

This is a slower moving game based on the National Treasure concept of hidden and/or secret knowledge, embedded by a higher civilization (e.g. 1776's). We focus on the Forbidden Math theme, as a goal here is to learn some real math skills.

So, for example, we take you to this underground middle school where 6th graders contravene the authoritative textbooks and furtively mass produced left and right handed A mods, engage in cellular automata studies.

The thought police bash through the door, screaming "ETS!" (forbidden math is not on their stupid SAT and/or ACT, and they're insanely pissed off about that). Too late though, the kids were tipped off in advance by a friendly insider (a mole -- looks like a real mole, might be the Disney influence, or Wind in the Willows).

The underground schools interconnect by a maze of tunnels. We also study about B mods, which complement the A mods in having volume 1/24, with two As (a left and a right) and one B (either left or a right) comprising a MITE or tetrahedral space-filler (check Wolfram).