Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Blockchain Adventures

Thanks to a Pycon here in Portland, I got hooked up with some Bitcoin enthusiasts and before you know it had a bitcoin wallet with myceleum, a way to send me beer money.  I like beer and peanuts and Lucky Lab and maybe I want to buy my guests some of the same.

However, that Android suffered from a failed battery, my bitcoin public key was hard to find, and people aren't really using it for beer money these days.  They're holding onto it as a speculative asset.

Once the Android was replaced, I didn't bother recovering the empty wallet and removed all traces of the QR-code in question.  A different approach might be required.  There's always the Visa cards.

As most Fintech readers know, Bitcoin is an instance of the blockchain in action, but with the servers entering the fray competitively and not simply acting as a single centralized database, which is what the blockchain boils down to if you take away the public access.

With Bitcoin, an academic institution is free to wade in and audit all transactions, anonymously to a great extent, and never compete as a blockchain solver, or "Bitcoin miner" as they're called.  You can study the interplay of transactions as anyone might, as a passive observer and/or data scientist.

For those new to Bitcoin:  transactions pile up in the various servers, but the one that gets to put its name on the block is the one winning a roughly 10 minute competition to crack a code, per a known algorithm.  Throw more computer power at the problem, and you gain control of the books, but not in such a way that lets you change them.  You just get rewarded with more bitcoin, for being the most powerful miner.

Companies may set up blockchains inhouse, but what that really means in practice is anybody's guess. The crypto-currencies are out there trying to prove a concept, which is that these open source systems for storing and transferring value, have a bright future.  We're still in boot phase.

Friday, December 22, 2017

21st Century Adventures

We took I-285 to the Atlanta airport, a mega-hub, rather early, in case of traffic or other snafus.  Less than a week ago, this airport suffered a major power failure. We'd squeaked through a couple days ahead.  "We" in this case is myself and stepdaughter Alexia (age 38).  We were here to visit with my younger daughter (age 23) and her partner.

The Dollar rental car, a Toyota sedan, rode smoothly, had a backup camera (for backing up) and good radio.  I listened to NPR a lot of the time, to and from Birmingham.  Robert Siegal (age 70) was interviewed by Terry Gross (age 66) on Fresh Air, about his impending retirement and long career in public radio.  Much broadcast discussion of a recently passed US tax bill and haps at the UN.

We all saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi together.  Characters from the first installment are old by now.  Luke Skywalker is a craggy old guy.  I was just starting college when the first Star Wars came out.  Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, died earlier this year.

I'm reflecting on how futuristic the future is, versus taking it for granted.  Watching Westworld on the HDTV contributed to my sense of the recent past, as did my visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  Ordinary people get to stage family reunions even when thousands of miles intervene.

Amtrak went off the rails near Olympia while we were gone, in a first attempt to run at higher speeds along a newly enhanced route.

We relied heavily on GPS.  I used the web to book all the reservations.  Our boarding passes came up on my Android.  We got TSA pre check, meaning less time waiting for Homeland Security to clear us for boarding.

I phoned my mom (age 88) from Birmingham.  Their WiFi is terrible.  Sounds like their provider, Frontier, is overwhelmed and under-endowed.  "They" being mom and my sister (age 56) in Whittier.

Wanderers are hosting a Solstice Party at Linus Pauling House tonight, in zip code area 97214.  I don't expect to quite make it, but I'll be close.  That's a miracle in itself.

Friday, December 15, 2017

From BestThinking

BestThinking is shuttering at the end of the year.  We've been invited to recover our postings and share them elsewhere, such as I'm doing here.

Thinking Out Loud
Posted in Technology / Programming / Python

Mining the 20th Century: 

Wittgenstein Meets Buckminster Fuller

Mar. 31, 2016 12:17 pm
Keywords: synergetics, applewhite, anthropology, wittgenstein
Classic Geodesic Dome

A goldmine of useful memes, textbook examples, blueprints for thinking, missed by most philosophers, is in the intersection of mathematics and anthropology. We tend to call this area "ethno-mathematics" by which we mean studying archaic practices from the past, such as Sumerian astronomy or Viking navigation techniques.

We don't look at contemporary coding subcultures (such as Python's) nor at "alternative mathematics" through the lens of anthropology because of the blinders we impose on that discipline, and because of the religious flavor of some mathematics.

Enter Wittgenstein, who studied and commented upon Frazer's Golden Bough, a first hat in the ring of this emerging discipline, anthropology. Wittgenstein's later philosophy may be seen as anthropology turning on its own culture, the one giving us anthropologists, to become more an investigation into the use of language and thereby more of a philosophical enterprise. Wittgenstein blends two flavors: ordinary language philosophy (which he helped found) and anthropology.

Fast forward to the end of the 1900s, and we get to the publication of another strange work of genius, Synergetics in two volumes, by R. Buckminster Fuller in collaboration with E.J. Applewhite. The latter wrote a separate tome, Cosmic Fishing, about shepherding this exotic text through Macmillan, in addition to recounting the collaboration process itself (Fuller narrated, providing prose, figures and tables, while Applewhite organized and typed). Another four volume tome called the Synergetics Dictionary was produced from Applewhite's documenting process. Both Synergetics and Synergetics Dictionary are available on-line.

How these connect, Wittgenstein's philosophical investigations, and Synergetics, is through the foundations of mathematics, an area much remarked upon by both. Specifically, Fuller develops an alternative geometrical model of 2nd and 3rd powering such that "squaring" and "cubing" would not be the appropriate verbs. We could say "triangling" and "tetrahedroning" instead. We don't of course -- speak that way -- but the fact remains that our mental pictures of 2 x 2, or 4 x 4 x 4, so ingrained, could be altered in a logic-preserving manner. We would enter the wonderland of a new and different culture, a so-called "different paradigm".

As an undergrad at Princeton, I wrote a thesis on Wittgenstein's later philosophy. I later became friends with Applewhite and started sharing my writings on this new doorway twixt Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics (one of Wittgenstein's) and "explorations in the geometry of thinking" (the subtitle of Synergetics). He really liked the direction I was taking. I wish we could have collaborated more before he passed on.

My wife was diagnosed with a most virulent type of breast cancer (IBC) the day before Ed (short for Edgar) and I were to have dinner in DC. We had met several times before, at his place, at fancy restaurants, also in Portland where his wife June joined us. This meetup looked especially propitious. We had just finished a Fuller Symposium, Applewhite a speaker and now a Pycon was starting (a Python conference, a computer language) on the same GWU campus.

The phone call came through from my poor distraught wife who had just been given a death sentence by her oncologist. She had gone from zero to stage three overnight, with chemo to start immediately. I needed to drop everything and hurry home. Ed and I continued with phone conversations and emails but never got to meet again after that. Ed died on Valentine's Day in 2005. Dawn, my wife, died on St. Patrick's Day in 2007.

What's true about working in a goldmine is the payoff is premised on gold having value, as currency, as a precious metal. Without a culture around me that values these men of genius in the 1900s, and makes use of their ideas, I have only a private language to get lost in, and that's no fun. So of course I'm motivated to push these ideas into the public domain, via Youtubes or whatever media. If you follow the bread crumbs, you'll find me connecting these dots in several venues, including those frequented by Python programmers and mathematicians. In Portland, you'll find me at the boyhood home of Linus Pauling, one of Oregon's top celebs, the two-time Nobel prize winning activist chemist. A group of us, fans and friends, meet every week.

I also engage in talk of STEM and STEAM, the former being the much-hyped science-technology matrix, with the "A" then added to give the humanities more of a foothold, and typically meant to mean "Art". However I say "A is for Anthropology" and bring it back to my pet projects.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Revised Position

Regarding an improved curriculum design, with the goal of phasing in "programming", I'd bought into the common wisdom that "somewhere around algebra" or even "after algebra" was where programming first started making sense.

I'm not sure why that coupling existed in terms of suggesting programming and algebra be contemporaneous, or that "the math" must always come first.  On the contrary, kids from a very young age have an application for a coordinate system, springing from the same original source as it did in the first place: artists needing to put colors on canvas.

The algebra teacher should be forwardly thinking in terms of students already having some coding background, and building on that.  The formal introduction of "function" in its native namespace, with surjective, bijective and so forth, might then build on already familiar semantics, even coming from purely block-based languages such as MIT Scratch.  It has "define" blocks for organizing other code blocks into shared routines.

So no, I don't think waiting until after algebra makes any sense, and that's a good thing, as the status quo in my neck of the woods is quite the opposite:  kids are diving into coding long before they encounter a traditional subject called "algebra". I'm glad I don't have to fight the status quo on every front, as that gets exhausting.

The main barriers to lexical programming have to do with keyboard abilities.  Yes, we have ways to employ voice recognition and coding is not necessarily about speed, as it's not done to a metronome (not counting the company clock).  Still, faster typing means being able to keep up with one's thoughts, with "thinking in code" more fluent when not held back by slow fingers.

We have all kinds of thoughts about algebra, in terms of "rules of equality" and "finding unknowns" and we'll get to that.  However programming a computer is more like scripting a play, a stage, a theater, or a television.  It's about providing content in a structured manner, at a sustainable rate.  We like things to happen quickly where purely rote processing is concerned.  We should let kids enjoy the speed of their CPUs and GPUs long before we insist that they study these gizmos algebraically.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Meteor Man

Astronomer Doug McCarty and Dick Pugh

Dick Pugh graced Wanderers with the latest version of his meteor talk this morning.  He has polished this presentation over the years, however there are always new developments to roll into it.

Besides, good stories are worth hearing multiple times, like a favorite record album.  Remember record albums?  Dick is a world authority and former high school teacher.  His talks are engaging.

He's still an avid collector and is savvy regarding the going rates for fragments from specific debris fields.  Part of the fun of his talk is how it's peppered with mentions of obscure treasures, such as a junky old car, now worth oh so much more, now that a meteor has totalled it.

Dick gets several calls a week, average one or two a day, from people hoping what they've found is somehow valuable.  More often than not, they have a piece of Oregon basalt, a ubiquitous material that makes Oregon an especially difficult hunting ground.  The quarry (prey) and the background look so much the same.

Finding meteor fragments is so much easier in a sandy desert or in some arctic setting, where a large chunk of iron, or stone, sticks out and calls attention to itself.

Meteors come from asteroids, but also from Earth's moon and the planet Mars.  High impact events fling fragments from those bodies into space, some of which fall into Earth's gravity well.

Don and I huddled over our computers after the talk, trying to get wanderers-announce working as a Yahoo! group.  We already have wwwanderers (with three ws), which caters to those wishing to yak about issues of the day.  Of late, few are yakking.

Contrary to popular belief, meteorites are not hot to the touch, even if they were fireballs upon entering the atmosphere.  They've been coasting near absolute zero for eons and a short encounter with the Earth's atmosphere is not going to undo some billions of years of running cold.

Meteor Fragments

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Coco (movie review)

Informants, e.g. Deke, tell me this film is getting high marks from critics, though I've not read a single review.  Melody was also drawn to this film based on previews, which made it seem promising. I was not disappointed.

I'm feeling rather neuro-skeletal myself these days.  Nathaniel Bobbit and I have been talking about a Blender rigging of the skeleton by email.  Mainly it's my left knee that's demanding my attention.  I forced myself up Mt. Tabor this morning, as a diagnostic.  Yikes.  Not again tomorrow.  Where's that microwavable bean bag?  Ibuprophen, do your magic.

The idea of a family altar with ancestors depicted, took me back to the writings of Fletcher Prouty regarding Vietnam, and the hype about how Catholics were being forced south, long story. How true was that, versus how much fake news?  Lansdale was a storyteller, in the midst of wars.  Preying on Catholic fears of non-deists (e.g. "Communists") was big in those days.

Mexico is fine with the concept of an afterlife, and Disney is not afraid to embellish on the metaphysics, as Disney is no stranger to either death or mythologies, these being eternal themes.  I'm happy to have animation delve into various cultures, with expert care.  I still need to see the Polynesian scenario, my bad.

I'm not going to recount the plot.  I'm only going to underline my admiration for a cartoon World of the Dead.  Not heaven, in the sense of angels playing harps on clouds.  Far less stupid.  And there's death in that world too, that comes from being forgotten, or "garbage collected" as we say in the Python world.

Good job Pixar. I'm fine with the lack of priests and churches.  We don't need their mediation to remember the ancestors, or to explain how it all works after death (Purgatory etc.).

Speaking of Purgatory, coming down from Mt. Tabor I stopped in at Common Grounds to nurse my knee and read Harper's December issue. The journalist doing the profile of what it's like to work in refineries in the Emirates seemed a bit of a clod, but really dedicated.  I'll look for the book.  Good job on countering the myth on Middle America (another article), but it's hard to fight ingrained tropes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Post Thanksgiving 2017

I managed to crank out the above Youtube last Sunday, having returned from points north, via Amtrak. I manage to sputter through a Concentric Hierarchy presentation, hoping to connect the RD of volume 6 to the CCP, if that makes any sense (watch the video?).  Getting a train in there was a plus, as Synergetics has it's "great circle train tracks" converging to what we might think of as "Grand Central stations".

Connecting to this content, which I consider American heritage, is my recent writing on Medium, wondering aloud of a charter school network might want to escape the scourge of modern standardized testing, by covering STEAM content not currently tested.  A curriculum might risk anticipating what will be critical tomorrow, versus today.  We call this "looking ahead" (not an original concept).

Along those lines, I've been urging on math-teach (from which I've resigned, given signs of its immanent demise) that we do more with cryptography at the high school level, which includes making use of such tools as pycrypto, though not to the exclusion of studying the bare bones mathematics.  My Supermarket Math component (one of four) is all about eCommerce, which entails HTTPS, which entails RSA.  Some high end high school curricula go there, e.g. Phillips Academy's.  I expect Stuy's does as well.

Edgar Allan Poe fits in here, as a novelist and storyteller who understood the value of encrypted messages as plot drivers.  Didn't I see a whole book on that?  An article?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wanderers 2017.11.22

Pugh re Madog

I got to this one a little late, having worked night shift to 10:30 PM, and then diving into boning up on data analysis, something I share about.  The meetup starts at 9 AM.  I was there by like 9:15 or so.

Dick Pugh, last name Welsh, was sharing about a long-lived rumor, regarding "Welsh Indians" pre Columbus.

Quoting from our Yahoo list:
"Welsh Come to America in the year 1170, Long Before Columbus, and Become the Mandan indians, Who spoke Welsh"
9:00 AM, Wednesday morning, November 22, at The Pauling House, 3945 SE Hawthorne.

Hope to see you there!

Apparently one Maddog might have made it from Wales circa 1100 AD and helped establish a new tribe with Welsh customs and artifacts.  Given I came late, I'm not sure by what route.

Mainstream news poo poohs this hypothesis, Dick was quick to admit.  However he wanted to be sure we had a chance to check the evidence.

In general, our understanding of when the Americas entered into trans-oceanic lore, has been getting updated.  The idea of Vikings along the Great Lakes doesn't sound as absurd as it used to.

This rumor, of "Welsh Indians" goes back at least to the time of Thomas Jefferson and the US versus UK boardroom brawl ("American Revolution").

Jefferson asked Lewis and Clark, the great explorers who mapped their way to the Pacific and back, to keep a lookout for any signs of such a tribe.

Dick gave a great presentation and all present felt well informed.  I won't try to do his presentation justice in terms of relaying all its content.  You had to be there.

A later governor had this removed

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Friendly Convergence

Memorial for Wes

A van of us guys from the Men's Group, organized by Joe Snyder and borrowing the Reedwood van (thank you Friends!), got to Mapleton, Oregon and back in one day.  That's the freeway age for ya.  With time to spare I might add.

Wes had all kinds of ties to Oregon Friends that I'm only just learning about.  Our Stark Street meeting traces back to College Park Association in California, and Iowan Friends striking out on their own upon being disowned by their brethren.  So be it.  The brand "Religious Society of Friends" would not be surrendered.

On the other hand, Gurneyites moved west also, and their trajectory takes other forms, namely Northwest Yearly Meeting, distinct from the more Hicksite flavored North Pacific Yearly Meeting, of which Multnomah Meeting on Stark Street is a member.

Wes Voth traces his schooling back to Newberg, Oregon.  These are more the Hooverite Friends associated with George Fox University (GFU).  There's overlap with Liberal Friends on many fronts, but if you're a scholar of the Quaker lineage, you know we're prone to forking, and don't always think that's a bad thing.

Politics aside, Wes Voth was a naturalist and his thinking was deeply informed by the natural patterns of his watershed.  It may be a cliche to think of watersheds as the lungs of the planet.  They are integral to the way fish live their lives, and thereby serve at the basis of many a food chain.

Pacific ocean salmon start and end their lives in these rivers and rivulets, adding their carcasses to the inland soil, fertilizing rainforests.  Ecosystems don't run on fumes, much as fumes matter.

Wes knew all these basics like the back of his hand, and then could go on about the smaller details, in ways a city rat like me can only marvel at, and I did.  At our last meetup at Great Bear Camp for example.  I sat at his feet, slurping up the lore of the land.

The memorial service was held at the Lions Club which shares digs with the Mapleton Public Library, what used to be a public school.  The meeting hall, which doubles as a theater and gymnasium, was packed with just about everyone in Mapleton, not a big town.  Out of towners rounded out the crowd.

We all respected Wes a lot for his honesty and respectful ways.  He served as a postal carrier in this later chapter, and had maybe just recently retired?  We felt his departure was all too soon.

This was Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as some call it.  Among the songs we sang, was one of Wes's favorites (mine too, for its check on nationalism): This is My Song with lyrics by by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness, to the score of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.  It's in our Quaker hymnal.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Life, Liberty and...

My study groups have been cycling back to Student Debt, which becomes a noose, and the Overdose Epidemic, which becomes a way out, or at least a temporary escape.  Any dose is an overdose where most of these drugs are concerned.

The law abiding become despairing when they recognize that organized crime rules the roost.  This article in Rolling Stone keeps pointing to people in high places, high office, as the ones at the top of some Ponzi scheme.  The state becomes a prison state.

Recently we learned more from the DEA about its losing battle against Big Pharma.  Organized crime has eaten through the medical establishment.  Drug pushing is the backbone of a new economy, breaking the backs of many old ones.  No, we're not talking about glossy mags in marijuana country.  We're talking about fentanyl and worse.

Clearly the student loan crisis and the overdose epidemic go together.  In closing off all promising avenues to a brighter future, one reaps the harvest of hopelessness.

The positive futurism I latched onto in my young adulthood was not a popular brand within academia and those paying high interest for borrowing against their futures were for the most part not schooled in any of it.  Nevermind about the Medal of Freedom.
R. Buckminster Fuller: 
A true Renaissance Man, and one of the greatest minds of our times, Richard Buckminster Fuller's contributions as a geometrician, educator, and architect-designer are benchmarks of accomplishment in their fields. Among his most notable inventions and discoveries are synergetic geometry, geodesic structures and tensegrity structures. Mr. Fuller reminds us all that America is a land of pioneers, haven for innovative thinking and the free expression of ideas.
At issue was the USA itself and whether it had strayed too far from its founding documents to be considered a constitutional democracy anymore.  Had it been hijacked by oligarchs and plutocrats who could now use it to press their own agenda?  Princeton was inclined to see it this way.

Roll forward, and we see the wasteland this land has become.  The morgues fill with its victims.  The criminals get appointed to higher office.  Is there any longer a debate?

Welcome to the Global U, an energy consumer and an intelligent responder, to some degree.  We're plugged into the sun, as so many 120 watt bulbs, thinking of ways to survive, one day to the next.

Our institutions are supposed to leverage our numbers, our individual talents, into orchestrated and constructive responses to our circumstances.  Which ones do this?

The criminalization of nuclear weapons per the UN Ban Treaty, developed by the General Assembly, has at least helped us see how the "rule of law" was a fragile sphere.

Criminal syndicates control human affairs.  The electronic communication networks were our organized response, an attempt to gain traction.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Playing with Blocks

Back in the early to mid 1990s, I would make trips to California in connection with my work with Synergetics. I went to the GENI organized Centennial in 1995, when Tara was just learning to walk.  Before that, I'd been to a Pergamon Press sponsored conference on Buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara. Another time, we had a confab in which "modules" were thematic.  David Koski was curious about what Yasushi Kajikawa and Einar Thorstein were up to, in their respective modularization games.

Much more recently, within the last year, Koski's block-themed play has turned towards a dissection of the E-module, the one published about in Synergetics.  I've called it the Beanstalk Series as that story, of Jack and the magic beanstalk (grown from magic beans) provides etymological roots for the Fe ("fee"), Fi ("fie"), Fo ("Foe") and Fum modules.  Of course there's a tie-in with Grunch of Giants (one of Fuller's last books).

The wrinkle Koski introduces, with all of these shapes, is that of "phi scaling", meaning notching up all straight-line inter-distances by phi, not quite doubling at 1.618.  When linear distances amplify by that factor, volume goes up as a 3rd power of same, giving us a vocabulary of ...E6, E3, E, e3, e6... modules, where the lowercase 'e' signals "phi down" and uppercase "phi up".

Spatial geometry is not getting its just deserts as a curriculum topic these days, especially in kindergarten, because that would mean telling the truth about more things, and truth is not always convenient.  Using a calibrated bucket of liquid to show displacement is also potentially messy when done for real.  The schools that make instructional video making their specialty will have a head start.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Officers' Club

I spent this beautiful Fall Saturday in a cushy chair, missing the great outdoors.

An indoor lifestyle left one a lighter skin shade, no matter the baseline, and that could mean different things, one being perhaps one was more of a managerial bent, suited to keeping track of stuff, more into the big picture.

Such folks need offices, become officers, then become pale, and pant more for breath pretty soon.  Chances are, they're not getting enough exercise, plus who knows what they inhale for entertainment.

In the "grass is always greener" tradition, husky, hard working blue collar types, perhaps more reddened around the neckline, would imagine the coddled life of someone floating in a think tank, hardly needing to move a finger, let alone grunt under the strain in this merciless heat or cold.

The paler skinned knowledge worker types are kept alive for what passes between their ears, and communicate by moving fingers ("hardly" meaning wiggling them over a keyboard).

So yeah, that was my blood thickening day, attacking the intricacies of regular expressions as used by Django to parse those incoming URLs.  Do you ever say "earl" for URL, or always "You Are El"?

I also played with Pillow, which sounds so comfy and nice.  Read in a picture file and study the Image module API.  Make the colorful koala bear turn gray, as in grayscaled.

The idea is to work up enough of a head of steam to drive a tour bus through this same terrain, keeping up my end of the bargain as someone who knows a thing or two about the ins and outs.  I'm the trusted local, the native.

Django, if you've gotten this far, is a flagship website development framework Made in Kansas.  I've got this little teaching website buried on Cloud9 that basically implements a lookup service against some read-only databases.  The design roughly parallels what I've done in Flask at my Pythonanywhere site.

With these basics now in place, I need to pour some glue into it, some adhesive language designed to keep it all stuck together.

My students will come away thinking more like officers than ever.

However I'll challenge them to get out there and do some heavy lifting in a more physical sense, even if that just means hauling their own bodies up some nearby mountain or whatever.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bucky for Dummies

The above title may already exist out there, but I don't recall reading it.  What I refer to in this context is my willingness to "stay dumb" regarding generalizations I don't know about.

For example, claims about "zero point energy" swirl in close connection with some friends of Fuller, however I'm not banking on these proving true.  I'm not banking on UFOs being other than unidentified.

Fuller took our technology of the 1970s as already marking a turning point.  Doing more with less, we'd be able to keep 8-10 billion 200 watt bulbs blazing i.e. provide metabolic circuitry sufficient to avoid unnecessary death by starvation.  Absent that, we remain on Ghetto Planet.  But it could be our Promised Land.

He could have been wrong, however he was pretty adamant that his claim was not premised on hitherto unknown science.  Yes, humanity would continue to make discoveries and develop its shared metaphysical capital (know-how), but the whole point was we had reached a point of technological sufficiency.  What held us back were conditioned reflexes, habits of thought and action.   Religion had a lot to do with that.

Synergetics has "mind" and "brain" doing different jobs.  Both are tools, words with uses.  Why waste two important words by having them be synonyms?  Have a brain that continually upgrades in light of new revelations, intuitions.  Have mind be the source of those.  This way we allow for a collective unconscious, a higher consciousness, a zeitgeist, a Holy Spirit.  Humans conventionally make this distinction even so, with or without Synergetics.

The brain is the province of reflexes and unless receptive and open to intuitions, it tends to freeze into habits of thought.  Intuition is by divine grace if you want to sound religious about it, but you're not required to.  Comprehension of principles is at the meta level with regard to special cases.  Connecting the dots helps us appreciate the general patterns and improves our powers of anticipation, as any future-oriented strategist seeks to do.

The "zero point energy" people want to point to UFOs as having tapped energy sources we'll need.  As evidence of UFOs they point to crop circles or other unexplained phenomena.  You'll find that school of thought explaining the events of 9-11 in terms of hitherto unexplained science.

I'm suggesting no one embracing the claim of "enough for everyone" through "more with less" is compelled to couple this claim with any overhaul of existing physics.  Some do, but I don't.  I admit to a Twilight Zone of tantalizingly relevant data, adjacent to my sphere of relevance.  I'm always looking for how to fit in new puzzle pieces.  However per Bucky for Dummies, I don't see a need to jump the gun.  I'll stay a skeptic regarding many outlandish proposals.  Or call it risk management.  I'm allowed to guess wrong.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Christmas Shopping

I haven't seen Geiger counters at Costco yet, but getting information about your environment to your cell phone, via Bluetooth or as a service (through the carrier itself e.g. Verizon), is likely to be trending according to sources.  Live near Fukushima?  Then you know what I'm talking about.

Sensors can be discrete, no need for any loud tick tick tick as you wave your magic wand, or whatever you use to pick up Cesium-137.  We had a Geiger counter in high school.  We even visited the local research reactor at University of the Philippines.  I imagine Reed's is similar.

However, when it comes to USB and/or Bluetooth peripherals, I think other diagnostic tools will be a hit as well.  Parents empowered to do their own chem lab testing, at the local Maker place, will share their data freely, as a service to other parents.  If the government wants to stay involved, they're welcome, but no one should have to count on an EPA or a DEQ in today's political atmosphere.

How about blood tests?  The diabetes industry already has its own apps.  The smartphone display adds a dimension, and helps people monitor the various levels.  I imagine the medical community will pump a lot of these apps out there for free, given they're more oath-driven than CEOs for the most part.  Bypassing CEOs in this economy is pretty standard.  Anyone that overpaid is by definition out of touch (not that all CEOs are overpaid).

When I say "Christmas shopping" I don't presume to be speaking about some religion.  Christmas is a secular holiday, in addition to having significance to some (not all) Christians.  The "peace on Earth" theme is non-sectarian and this year will have an abolitionist flavor, thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize going to an abolitionist movement.

Speaking of the Nobel Peace Prize, Linus Pauling got his for helping to break the ice around letting physicians speak freely about the public health effects of radio-toxins.  The Atomic Age, so-called, was getting Madison Avenue treatment as squeaky clean and sacrosanct.  Bursting that bubble helped forestall cavalier atmospheric testing, on real human subjects in the Pacific islands, and on all of us, as our climate was semi-permanently altered.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rainbow Gathering

And now for something completely different, as Monty Python would say, as they did some crazy segue.  Rainbow Gathering.  No, I've never been.  However, my long association with the two generations behind me (younger than) through Food Not Bombs brought me into many of the same circles.  They'd go.  I'd hear about it.

I've always been a browser, since before "web browsers" were a thing.  I dreamed of hypertext before the web was born.  So now, approaching 60, my idea of a good time is plowing through Youtubes about this and that, sometimes making one of my own, but mostly watching, er browsing.

Two themes tonight:
  • the 60 Minutes episode on the opioid epidemic (adding "opioid" to spellchecker), the one with the DEA whistle blower, focusing attention on big pharma as big drug pusher;
  • and Rainbow Gathering.
I don't premeditate, usually, about what I'm gonna browse about though I keep coming back to core topics.  A Dom Rosa post at Math Forum got me watching 60 Minutes.

Oh, and I listened to quite a bit of Bucky Fuller, like the interview below.  You might think I do that a lot given my interests, but I don't, probably because I feel pretty expert on that already (the Bucky stuff) and am more focused on filling holes (in my knowledge).

I'm doing laundry.  Today was First Day (Sunday) and I brought a car load of C6XTY stuff to share with kids.  Me, Ron and Carl were the adults.

Then Glenn and I had lunch at Hop House after which we decided to check out the newly installed wooden bar at Back Stage, McMenemins, literally back stage behind the main screen at The Bagdad.  An old Portland landmark, the Lotus Room, is closed and gone, however McMenamins rescued the bar itself, a sight to behold, and we enjoyed it, chatting with the bartenders while watching drag racing and soccer.

Tying things together more, in retrospect, Bucky Fuller was very respectful of the hippie "rebellion" from which such institutions as Rainbow Gathering derive. He was pretty in touch with the Zeitgeist himself, a fancy German word for the Holy Ghost if we're translating from Catholic.

The focus on artifacts and inventions, in the above video for example, is what his Design Science Revolution was all about, although in his case the initiative was to involve the aerospace industry in providing shelter solutions.

I was slightly post Boomer I think it safe to say, and my line is I didn't really get to know any true hippies until returning to Oregon post college and meeting Bead and Denise at the Gathering of Western Young Friends at Camp Myrtlewood, very Rainbow-like both in spirit and design, with a big focus on cooking (not assembled outdoors though, in a well-equipped camp kitchen).

My middle and high school years had been mostly in Italy and the Philippines.  At Princeton I lived with what I might call 2nd generation hippies (and Kirk) but that's a bit of a stretch given this was Princeton after all.  We hadn't dropped out.  We were definitely against Apartheid.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Terminology and Scope

More Concentric Hierarchy

Scope relates to terminology. In computer programming, we're always looking to prevent "name collisions" which is like when everyone uses the term "vector" but defines it in different ways, ditto "quaternion" or "duckrabbit".  The Java language took your Internet domain and flipped it around, drilling down to some unique path, at the end of which your "vector" might append -- just yours.  Like I might have net.4dsolutions.quadrays.vector -- in Clojure.

Koski and I were yakking on Verizon tonight, mostly about terminology. I think it's fine to divide the RT's E-mod into "Fe Fi Fo Fum", reminiscent of the Jack and the Beanstalk story sure, but also of "Do Re Me Fa".

Let me unpack that a bit.  RT = Rhombic Triacontahedron (raise your hand if you thought Russia Today) and in having 30 rhombic (diamond) faces, each criss-crossed by face diagonals, it begets 120 of what we call E-mods in Synergetics, though the latter term relates to an RT of specific radius: same as that of a unit sphere.

The RT arises from combining two Platonics, dual to one another, the Icosahedron and Pentagonal Dodecahedron. Their edges provide the criss-crossing long and short diagonals respectively, of the 30 diamond faces.

The Icosahedron, when spun, around opposite vertexes, edge middles, face centers, generates a network of 31 great circles likewise consisting of 120 LCD (lowest common denominator) triangles, which may be superimposed on the RT, effectively slicing each E-mod into four sub-modules.  These are what David is naming the Fe, Fi, Fo and Fum (alternatively: Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum).

The Fi-mod, for example, has the volume of the containing E-mod with edges scaled down by precisely 1/Phi (0.618...), meaning its volume, a 3rd power of edge-length, has (1/Phi)(1/Phi)(1/Phi) the E-mod's volume. E weighs in as a tad greater than 1/24th (of the uni-volumed tetrahedron).

What we were discussing tonight is how one of the radii of the Fi is the S-factor, 1.08..., defined originally as the volumetric ratio between the S- and E-mods, or equivalently the ratio twixt the volume 20 cuboctahedron and its partner in Jitterbug, the volume ~18.51 Icosahedron.

Cubocta / Icosa == S / E == S-factor (S).

One of the Fi-mods radii is S.

We need to distinguish S from S3, the latter being the volumes ratio of the cube of edges R (= unit sphere radius) to the tetrahedron of edges D (D = 2R).  The former is a bit bigger by 1.06... or so.  S3 serves as our conversion constant between two systems of mensuration, the XYZ and IVM.

XYZ is the grid of cubes we're all used to from our math classes.  IVM, or "isotropic vector matrix" is the scaffolding (grid) defined by spheres in closest packing, consisting of tetrahedrons and octahedrons of volume ratio 1:4.  How we juxtapose these two is by convention and intelligent design.

Another math fact: the cuboctahedron of volume 20 times S3 gives the volume of the so-called "SuperRT" the RT formed from said ~18.51 volume Icosahedron and its dual.  The SuperRT derives from the aforementioned unit radius RT (of 120 E-mods) by scaling all edges up by phi (not fi) i.e. 1.618..., increasing volume by a factor of Phi to the 3rd power.

Such is the terminological world in which Koski and I swim around.  It'd be completely a private language were it not for it's tightly syncing with what's long been published and out there i.e. Synergetics itself, by the genius R. Buckminster Fuller.

The so-called E-mod is a part of a family, which includes the A-, B-, T-, E- and S-modules.  These are core to the Synergetics "concentric hierarchy", built around a duo-tet cube of volume 3. A-mods alone build the unit volume tetrahedron, whereas As and Bs build the octahedron of volume 4. Both A- and B-mod, like the T-mod, have volume 1/24.  They all have handedness (left and right versions).

For more information, about the S-module especially, my Coffee Shops Network blog.

E mod (right tetrahedron) with submodules: Fum, Fo, Fi, Fe going left to right.
E mod (right tetrahedron) with submodules: Fum, Fo, Fi, Fe going left to right

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Thinking About Scope

Show & Tell

Thinking About Scope

For further reading:
Names Have Scope in CS (Math Forum)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Number Sequences

:: screen shot ::

Given I'm spending time with 5th and 6th graders as their Python teacher, I've been looking at Oregon's version of Common Core, and, sure enough, that's an age where students learn the difference between prime and composite numbers.

The so-called Natural Numbers, or Whole including zero, form a comforting world of integer types and operations, especially number sequences, like at OEIS (On-line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences).

What I'd recommend to teachers are the two books Gnomon, by Midhat Gazale, and The Book of Numbers, by Conway and Guy as a way of motivating course prep around number sequences.

In addition to prime and composite, we have such as the triangular numbers, square numbers and then, off the plane (moving into space), tetrahedral and half-octahedral numbers.

Here's our transition to sphere packing and space-filling, analogous to tiling on a plane (tessellation -- already a favorite elementary school topic).  1, 12, 42, 92...

Back to primes, I'm also seeing 6th grade as a time when we pick up more keyboard skills.  Coding with Kids has them moving from block-based programming (sliding puzzle pieces around) to more lexical languages, such as Python.

To that end, I wrote yet another Sieve of Eratosthenes.  Such programs are an old standby in computer science, meaning I'm being very correct and conservative in my approach.

My agenda is to promote C-STEM or C-STEAM in a way that doesn't lose sight of Synergetics.

Good meetup with a NW Process Institute guy today over lunch.  I was hoping to catch Arnold Mindell in action on Friday but ended up working a new teaching assignment instead.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Flag Waving

With Flag

Another Quaker queried, on one of the Facebook threads, about what the Quaker read was on the pledge of allegiance. For background, Quakers have issues with taking any kind of oath to begin with, as there begins a double standard (under oath and not) and "forked tongue" as a native language.

My answer was esoteric. As a child I learned the pledge as a classroom ritual and have said it many times. A pledge is a pledge unless somewhere retracted right? So insofar as I'm obliged to accept the burden of childhood promises, I'm pledged to the Republic for which it stands, Banana or otherwise.

Nowhere in the fine print does it say we can't do due diligence and unearth the distant past of said flag. Yes the USA took it over, modified by stars in varying patterns, signifying states of the Union (more on that shortly).  Took it over from whom?  That's not a verboten topic for exploration.

As a matter of logic, the flag's standing for a certain Republic does not preclude it having many other meanings, including those resonating with a certain past. A Republic has a prehistory. The pledge might keep going back, in that case, to even before the Republic and its symbol.

Some states tried to secede and flew a new flag, abandoning the more Yankee-flavored East India Tea motif.  Their attempt at secession occasioned a great Civil War, during which time, a pledge of allegiance to that specific symbol could be considered traitorous to a warring side.

Forcing a Yankee ethic on the loser states, newly suffering other losses of specific icons, is what the Trump Tower edicts appear like to some in the NFL.  He's making the Confederate States pay homage, now that he has defended their right to be defiant, in an almost ACLU type position.

I saluted the flag in Portland, where dad was in some pitched battle over how to route the future freeway. He was not a fan of its hugging the shoreline, obliterating the riverfront.

He was a city planner back then, with a hankering to work overseas, the focus of his PhD thesis.  He'd been trained at Johns Hopkins for international work, so why not?  Let the locals have their freeway battles.  He'd be in a small plane over the Sahara (not flying it, part of the overview crew), not looking back.  Lots of oases.

He was a consultant, not telling anyone how it had to be (not bossy), just applying what he'd learned, at University of Chicago and elsewhere, as the state of the art insofar as the US practiced it (city and regional planning).

This explains my transplant to Rome, Italy at a young age, to resume my academics at the Junior English School of Rome, and later the Overseas School of Rome (OSR).  I came to more appreciate my identity as a USA citizen according to some macro-melodrama one could scarcely understand.  We'd have to learn about Rome first, and Greece before that.  "It's a long story" the adults said, rolling their eyes sometimes.

Fast forward and I'm almost sixty and still couldn't tell you exactly what's up with all this flag business.  Symbols play a deep role in human consciousness, is what the anthropologists are telling us, historians too.

I'm hypothesizing that recent Civil War tremors (aftershocks) have newly awakened us to the fragility of the Union.

The spectacle of Puerto Rico needing rescue, as part of a big triple whammy (Harvey, Irma, Maria), just adds to our sense of disorientation, if not outright disunion.

There's a need to bond over something.  As far as secular symbols go, Old Glory still carries weight. I'm not gonna walk on stage and tell people how their symbols don't matter.  Of course they matter.

However I've always been taught graceful ways to stand aside on oath taking, using "affirm" or other language.  As a Quaker, I enjoy the practical consequences of walking an ethnic talk.

To me, that's the glue of the Americas: an understanding of our melting pot role, an acceptance of varying ethnic practices, yet getting the job done anyway.

People were already here; people came here from everywhere.  The flag belongs to Chief Crazy Horse as much as to General Custer.

With a history like that, one shouldn't be apologetic if "allegiance" means something nuanced.  Ben Franklin would understand.

Betsy Ross got in trouble with some Quakers, many of them still loyal to their King, in Revolutionary War times.  Free Quakers broke off from the mainstream, in taking a pledge of allegiance.

Later, Quakers as a sect forbade the practice of slavery among its members, well before the USG deemed slave-holding illegal. We're in a similar position today with our support for the UN treaty banning nuclear weaponry.  We also remember the Kellog-Briand Pact.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall Equinox Celebration

Equinox Party

The Friday following the CERM Academy presentation, we gathered for potluck.  Greg & family were of course invited and may make it another time.

We've been doing these Equinox and Solstice celebrations pretty much since being granted access to the Linus Pauling House as a part of the Silicon Forest sponsored ISEPP project, which included restoration and preservation of this historic home.

Linus studied chemistry in the basement and came to intellectual maturity during that exciting time  when organic chemistry was first getting its head around macro molecules, DNA included. He won two Nobel Prizes, one for Chemistry, one for Peace.

Our discussion turned to off-color acronyms, such as engineers use to remember the color coding of resistors. That took us to the politically incorrect (at first blush) mnemonic phrase I learned at Junior English School (Appian Way, Rome) for spelling "arithmetic": A Red Indian Thought He Might Eat Tobacco in Church.

Bob McGown and I realized somewhere around the time I trucked out Pascal's Triangle, that this Red Indian must be that very Chief SohCahToa to whom we who our memorization of the specific names of functions in Trigonometry.  He lives in a tetrahedron tepee. It all came together.

My spin is of course smoking tobacco would be the natural thing in a church, seeing as it was treated as a medicine and religious substance.  We have lots of "tobacco churches" in America, and that's just for starters.

C6XTY, often dubbed a "molecule" by neighbors, especially when assembled, is indeed named in part for C60, the carbon molecule.  The 6 also refers to its six identical parts, locked together with eight screws to give the 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons of the Fullerene macro molecule.

Alpha Helix by Julian voss Andreae, the red helical sculpture outside, commissioned by ISEPP's Doug Strain and its president, Terry Bristol, shows a much simpler molecule than DNA, but one that inspired chemists with portents of what folding could do. Linus Pauling had worked out its structure.

We collectively learned molecules could do origami like nobody's business.  Shape matters, a lot. There's a jigsaw puzzle aspect to chemistry, with lots to visualize.  Chemistry is a lot like a block-based language (thinking of MIT Scratch and its kin).

In attendance: David DiNucci, Barbara Stross, Dick Pugh... I could go on, but not everybody likes their name mentioned.  Brenda Wyse showed up, nice for me as she always showers me with affection (an English idiom).  No Nirel though.

We talked a lot about Brenda's ambitions to get a rather muscular tractor.  She'd done a lot of homework and got into details.  I enjoy tractor talk, even if I'm not good at it.  She has a large farm, that her dad worked on, showing her the ropes.  We've had celebrations there to.

"Tractatus" for "work" connotes "tract of land" and "roe to hoe".  One of my favorite Latin roots.

Mom and I drove the maxi taxi, parking a block behind, and coming across Satya at the temple.  Some equinox-related ceremony was happening there too.

Satya is one of our local holy men who bounces around between the outdoors athletic youth culture (Rainbow Gathering etc.) and elder spaces (Food Not Bombs is for all ages).

I met him through Lindsey, political refugee (not unlike Dawn in that respect) and former house guest, sometime Wanderer.  She's in Kathmandu these days, immersed in some of the cultural traditions this temple traffics in, part of a Religious Studies major through OSU.

Bob McGown brought his dog, which I appreciated and Facebooked about. Wanderers for me is about celebrating non-humans in addition to humans. I've always considered the dogs among us as symbolic of this respectfulness.

However the dog's specific name will be left out of this account in order to keep the confusion level down.  Having a pet python named Barry is bad enough, given Barry Redd the former Peace Corps volunteer machinist banker.  Barry helped a lot with the Sam Lanahan C6XTY Gala Event, another major subject of our conversation.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Life During VUCA Time

:: greg | CERM Academy ::

VUCA, an abbreviation for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, is meant to characterize the times we live in.  We can't just go by established patterns.  Alvin Toffler anticipated a somewhat shocking future, and this is it.

Greg and Vic, with their daughter Margaux, packed the Pauling House for what was a first for this audience: a talk on life during VUCA times with perspectives from the Hutchins family.

Greg talked about the challenge to continually reinvent himself given accelerated change in engineering.

Vic is in the midst of changing careers in mid life, turning herself, along with Margaux, into a computer programmer.

Margaux, age 18, has researched the return on investment for college and doesn't see how it pays off. A lot of people she knows find only low income jobs yet are already saddled with debt.

She has been homeschooling and volunteering on numerous projects, gaining life experience by leaps and bounds.  She and her mom just got back from Burning Man, a first time for both of them.

The premise of the talk, well established using slides, was that the challenges faced by each family member were highly representative of mega-trends in the workplace.  Their predicaments are our predicaments.

We're moving to a gig economy.  Artificial Intelligence is promising to automate many jobs that humans are currently paid to perform.  The nation (USA) is swimming in debt, yet only mega-spending on infrastructure is likely to keep it alive politically.

Greg has written and led workshops on Risk Based Thinking [tm] for quite some time, and through his CERM Academy counsels businesses on ways to manage risk in times of upheaval.

Learning to connect the dots and think outside the box may sound cliche, but only because such skills remain vitally important.

How we respond and adapt organizationally is at least as important as how we respond as individuals.

The talk was perfect for Wanderers and sparked conversation and debate.  Some of us are already retired whereas others are just starting their careers.  We come from many walks of life.  I didn't recognize quite a few.

Steve Crouch brought donuts.  Chips and salsa, along with soft drinks, were also served.  Deke recorded the whole presentation on his iPhone.  The projector misbehaved at first, so Vic and Margaux dashed home to get another one, but then it ended up getting the job done.

Deke (Derek)
:: derek @ LPH ::

Monday, September 18, 2017

It (movie review)

It took me a few weeks to realize this movie It at The Bagdad, my neighborhood movie theater, was the same movie as this box office record-setter I'd been reading about, featuring some scary clown.

For context, I was joking about Trump fitting the "scary clown" archetype before going, and then after coming back from the movie I dove into the Steve Bannon interviews, with Charlie Rose. 

So Trump is a student of Jung's I found out.  So the scary clown knows what he's doing?  Scary.

The film is a kind of Goonies meets Stand By Me meets Carrie, and some other horror films you may have heard of. 

The directing is confidant, way more than competent, and is self aware of its genre, which filmmakers in this area generally need to be.  It's a world of symbols and motifs, of nightmares and minor keys.

As we learned from Vienna Circle, a good way of tackling taboo subjects and sending messages along to the tormented, is to employ the code language of Gothic horror. 

What children most fear, including their own fantasies of vengefully murdering others, get explicit treatment amidst manifestations of disgust and outrage over mistreatment.

In childhood, the local bullies may be of primary concern.  Intelligence learns to zoom out and appreciate the bigger picture.  A 27-year-long time cycle haunts this town.  The evil is at the archetypal level, less than in the individual incarnations.

The stereotype personalities in the making band together as blended hero, to fight their collective projection of pure Evil, whom they eventually find, and corner.  They fight for each other.

The hellmouth they find is worthy of another Buffy and crew.  I respect the cinematographic effects.

There's always a library, full of those musty books, telling texts that at least hint at the sulfuric sepulchral creatures that haunt the netherworld. 

Childhood means taking up the perennial battles against our own deepest fears. 

Horror flicks like this one help us focus and deal with whatever traumas.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Eye Glasses

Glenn and I moved some plants out of the expected rains, an October harvest, prior to which I shop vac-ed a bit, spewing fine what powder out the rear while barely getting enough pressure to lift a few rat turds.

I also swept a bunch in the basement, wherein the dust is harder to see but nevertheless a suspect.  New hot water heater going in, the last one lasting from a manufacture date in 1992, and installed before we moved in to what these days we call the Blue House.

I'm blaming the fine dust for the more milky vision, but according to WebMD and other sources, I'm overdue for another eye exam.  I rolled over on my main frames the other night, falling asleep to quantum mechanics (Bell's Theorem experiments again), and woke up to another logistical challenge.

Of course it doesn't help that the city's air is full of particulate matter, the detritus of incinerated forest out the Gorge. I-84 has been closed for some time.  The fire is less than half contained.

Lloyd Center Lenscrafters didn't carry spare parts, only sparkling new frames, but I was directed to a place I'd seen driving by on numerous car trips, may have even patronized in chapters past:  a frames fixer on SE Powell and Foster.

The guy was quick with the frames.  All they needed was new bows.  This milky vision symptom came later and seems fleeting hence the shop vac dust theory.  However I'm reminded by the Internet that I've got the problems of an almost sixty year old male.

I switched my healthcare plan awhile back and haven't visited my primary provider since the switch. However we're talking eye doctor here, not family care.

I'll be relying on pretty good vision in the coming weeks given all the driving and coding I have scheduled.  Vacation time is coming to an end.

No I don't have a bizmo yet (beyond the body itself), although my friend Tim Hitchcock does. He brought it to Sam Lanahan's gala gathering on Friday.  More about that gathering in another post.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Grampa Carl
:: grampa carl ::

Jack Urner
:: Jack Urner (my dad) ::

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Vacation Time

Half Octahedron

I was grateful for some downtime after the 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM gig, including commute, with some even longer hours ahead.  I'm just staying at home ("home me o stays is") and marveling at the strange colors.  Oregon's forests are burning, British Columbia's too.  The moon, almost full, is blood orange (deeper red than just copper). The atmosphere is full of ash.

Hurricane Harvey has already struck as of this writing, lots of collateral damage.  Irma is still swirling in the Atlantic, its future uncertain. Computer models see about two weeks ahead max. That's less a deficiency in computing than a feature of everyday math.  Climate modeling and weather modeling are two different things.  The former need not be detailed about day-to-day weather phenomena whereas in weather modeling, that's the whole point.

The downtime has not been idle time. I have more freedom to dwell on my own projects, which these days includes drilling into Jupyter Notebooks more, and sharing them on Github.  I'm recycling some of my homework from the 1990s wherein I dove into cryptography some.

The whole RSA thing (public key crypto) was fascinating. These days we hear more about the blockchain, with crypto-currencies bopping up and down like publicly traded stocks, investments in some Global Data Corporation (GCD) of the science fiction future (but with value today).

RSA is in every web browser so is for sure not off limits to journalism, given Mozilla is free open source, plus the patents have expired.

When you use your Visa card number via HTTPS (little lock next to URL), you're in TLS mode, meaning your browser and some distant server have shaken hands (shorthand for "opened an encrypted channel") that makes it difficult for 3rd parties to crack in, stealing info.  People are meant to have secrets in current economic models, if prosperity is a goal.

What I'm attempting is an on-ramp into Python the computer language, where I explain a little Group and Number Theory along the way, somewhat mirroring an established academic approach you will find in some progressive high schools and colleges.

RSA is completely open, as an algorithm.  What makes it cryptographically secure are current facts about the state of the art, in mathematics and computing power.

Bitcoin and blockchain technology leverage similar facts.

A bitcoin miner, a dedicated computer, has the job of brute forcing through a math problem that should take about ten minutes.

The miner that gets there first broadcasts to all the others, and in the case of a tie, there's a way of breaking it.

The miner's version of the blockchain thereby "wins the day" (actually just the block) and the block detailing what just happened (a set of transactions) around the world, in the last twenty or thirty minutes or so, is accepted by all the others as "the truth" and on we go, block by block.

Lots of blockchains are up an running, many of them experimental given this is all recent technology.

Glenn and Joanne Baker came through for dinner with Carol and I at Bread & Ink.  They were on vacation too, exploring Ashland (pun intended) after catching the eclipse.  I was at work during the eclipse, but allowed to go outside to get the 99.4% experience (not totality).

They were able to see Crater Lake, but on some days I gather the smog has been filling the crater, hiding the lake from the rim.

Oregon is burning, as I said at the top.

We had heavy rainfall all winter and a lush spring, then the water shut off (no rain) and lush vegetation turned to tinder.  The flick of a cigarette will set off a major forest fire.  Some jerk was doing fireworks near Eagle Creak.  There's no telling how careless some will be.

Glenn Stockton (different Glenn) has been assiduously working on the back patio and backyard, on those C6XTY sculptures. I've had an art teacher visit.  I should encourage Julian to swing by.

Most of these sculptures are on their way to a photo shoot, and some won't come back.

I'm reminded of Bonnie Tinker's Love Makes a Family float, a tall-tiny house on a wagon, that used to sit out there too.

Our Quaker Meeting was supportive of liberal values, with member Dawn Wicca providing safe haven for said float (I believe I'd become a non-member by then, without changing in my love of beer).

Vacation time is a chance to run errands and catch up on stuff.

I rolled over on my glasses (talk about careless) and wonder if Lenscrafters at Lloyd Center will be up for fixing them.

Carol (88, hard of hearing) needs to replace a charge card she canceled, then thought she'd lost, then found again.  Lloyd and OnPoint are not far apart.

Glenn Baker and Kirby Urner

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Being Bad

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rush Hour

I do my best to avoid being part of the problem, withdrawing my car from congestion, taking more time at the watering holes. I don't always succeed.  Yesterday I was hoping to make a 6 PM meetup back in my neighborhood.

So I snapped on the car radio, like many commuting North Americans, and tuned into NPR for some stories about how the CIA is still looking for a mission in Afghanistan, and to succeed will need some level of military engagement.  Pakistan is likewise in the cross-hairs.  Oh, and Egypt.  Syria is pretty much out of the news, as is Gaza.

All this traces back to the 911 debacle, around which so many questions still swirl, and used as a major excuse to mislead.  Iraq had made huge concessions in hopes of avoiding an invasion, but the PR people knew they'd need a scapegoat if anything really bad happened. Invading Iraq would move from back burner to front, because Afghanistan didn't have anything like Saddam's palaces. Libya got the same treatment, even after concessions.  Europe got the refugees.

We also heard about The Wall again.  A nation of immigrants can't bring itself to really self-govern. Reaching for too much territory too quickly, was that it?  Psychologically, the Civil and Spanish-American wars are still driving so much of the "policy" albeit unconsciously.

I did manage to meet up with Derek (Deke the Geek, big on Twitter) and Trevor (one of the top Bucky Fuller archivists, world class), at the intersection of Hawthorne and SE 37th, in front of Starbucks, totally unplanned, but missed meeting with the folks I'd actually scheduled to meet with, on their way to Burning Man this weekend.

Today I'm staying out of the melee, having some happy hour beers and salad while I wait for rush hour commuters to get home.  I won't be listening to any news programs.  Bankrupt policies are of fading interest.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Matrix

Spherical Cube with Six Pairs of Connectors

Given C6XTY, Sam Lanahan's invention, consists of six identical base units, fitting flush, edge to edge, tongue in groove, to build a soccer ball, I'm realizing a spherical cube, a hexahedron is part of its core nature.

This intrinsic "qyoobosity" relates to the mutually orthogonal placement of three phi-rectangles X, Y, Z within the icosahedron, which served as the compression unit in previous iterations of Flextegrity.

With C6XTY, this icosahedron is replaced with a soccer ball, or hexapent, with which it has many properties in common.

The connector pieces, in this case ABS plastic or polypropylene, grab the spherical cube by its six faces, locking into them with form-fitting hexagons and special screws.  The base locks, each keeping three faces together, appear at the eight corners of our spherical cube.

A C6XTY "soccer ball" fully embedded in the matrix, is at the center of an XYZ economy and IVM economy at the same time.

By "IVM economy" I mean the ball centers are at the centers of a CCP (cubic close packing) or FCC (face centered cubic) lattice.  IVM = isotropic vector matrix, what R. Buckminster Fuller named this well-known lattice.

Yet the tension arms run in a mutually perpendicular fashion throughout, not between centers as in Bell's "kite" designs, but in the space in between.

Half Octahedron


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Another Haystack Needle

[ originally posted to math-teach @ Math Forum ]

True enough I'm the token "Fuller disciple" here on math-teach.

Given recent history, it's not surprising to find one of his "cult members" here. I use scare quotes cuz Fuller did his level best to avoid "cult leader" status, though he attracted his share of devotees, collaborators, co-conspirators (Marshall McLuhan, Arnold Toynbee, Hugh Kenner...).

I'm not apologetic for keeping his "concentric hierarchy" alive though, his Kepleresque embedding of polyhedrons one inside the other (Russian Dolls), with the tetrahedron his volumetric unit. A & B modules. T & E, S modules. Cubocta:Icosa :: S:E. Lots of low-hanging fruit in this area, as David Koski will attest.

Sharing such content in K-14 is not that off the wall given how super-accessible it is, visually as well as mathematically. I'm used to other teachers sounding defensive, giving lip service to how math is a big tent... but maybe not that big. I'm also a speaker at art schools and maker spaces (more 3D printing ahead).

If Fuller's writing were incomprehensible, I doubt Nature would have singled out Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth as one of the more influential tomes of the 1970s.[1]

His writing is difficult, but so is Heidegger's. My background as a philosophy reader (Wittgenstein etc.) leads me to plow into esoterica such as Synergetics. Applewhite liked how I brought Wittgenstein's "meaning through use" dogma into juxtaposition with Fuller's alt-meanings. The Synergetics vocab was deliberately remote (see Synergetics 250.30).

When I share the whole number volumes table with kids, I'm quick to remind them they won't find any of this in the textbooks. That tends to add to their curiosity.

Remember, the Jitterbug Transformation is alluded to in the logo of the IMU (International Mathematical Union), and the old NCTM logo was an octet-truss. The memes are still out there, albeit in a somewhat X-Files blend.[2]


[1] 26 November, 2015 pg.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Didactic Cartoons

For further reading:
Lesson Plan (alternative models of multiplying to get area) -- Math Forum, August 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Data Stores

Wanna do CRUD against a Google sheet using Python? Sounds dirty? Create, Retrieve, Update and Delete are the core actions one takes against a recording medium, with the devil, as always, in the details. Do we use SQL (Structured Query Language)? Maybe so.

In the above video, however, we're putting a resource in the cloud, a tabular data set, and letting a single user consult it, or mess it up, using Python. When a dataset is read-only, or, as we often say, immutable, the chances for panic attack are a lot less. But what if disparate users write and read at the same time? Are transactions atomic? That's where we talk about ACID, in addition to CRUD.

Precisely because spreadsheets are such a useful tool, and easily comprehended, there's a temptation to go overboard and overuse them. The key skill, then, is to recognize when a spreadsheet might be sufficient, and when it's potentially a dangerous shortcut, a decision that might come back to haunt one down the road.

Python has long participated in the office automation environment within Windows.

The win32all extension gave Python the power to talk to the Microsoft Office suite and even to define COM objects, later renamed to ActiveX.

Indeed, the wish to have ActiveX objects collaborate yet have different source code language origins, was a primary motivator of .NET (dot net), as was the wish to give C# (C sharp) a playing field it could dominate happily.

Monday, August 14, 2017

China Town

SE Facility

As one of my summer campers put it today:  we could call this China Town but that was in Old Town, so maybe Asia Town is better?

Portland, the city, did a number of things to push much of China Town out of Old Town, including adding some sculptures with negative Feng Shui.  I'm sure the higher rents didn't help.

In any case, the growing edge of Portland's Asian community is outward from SE 82nd, a state highway under the control of ODOT, as Friend and Wanderer Lew Scholl has oft reminded me.

I'm working in an Asian mall on SE 87th, as a part of the Learning to Code movement.  Coding with Kids is a lot like Kumon, in terms of supplementing where parents perceive the school system may be weak.

Mall Signs

As a matter of fact though, Portland Public Schools have a lot of affinity for MIT Scratch and for all I know are also using and other such cloud-based sandboxes.

Daniel Shiffman (Coding Train) provides many exemplary Youtubes helping kids overcome the digital divide.  Although we don't teach P5.js or Processing at Coding with Kids, we're on the same train.

Like most teachers, I like to decorate my classroom and so brought along a few items from the Oregon Curriculum Network inventory.  The cube especially, the least stable, of the set, is looking the most battle-scarred (see below). These are volumes 1 (tetrahedron), 3 (cube), 4 (octahedron), 6 (rhombic dodecahedron) as anyone math-literate will likely recognize.

Some campers, when not huddled over their Chromebooks, take a break disassembling and reassembling some C6XTY

Today I stopped at K&M Auto Service on the way home to see if they'd have time to fix my driver's side power window on the Nissan.  They said they'll take a look later this week.  I also need my passenger side mirror replaced.

Concentric Hierarchy + Chromebook