Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I woke up concerned about how to cross STEM with PATH, the meaning of each letter.  If STEM sprouts an A, turning to STEAM, should PATH cross on the A instead?  I always say "A is for Anthropology" knowing the Art folk may object. But what if we have a second T and make that mean Theater, as in screenplays for television.

There's an almost conscious effort to pry "programming" (as in television) and "programming" (in code) apart. We're too close to "brainwashing" though that's what it is, and really, what's so bad about mental hygiene. Why not turn it over to professionals, right?

Anyway, having watched the only two seasons of the critically acclaimed Dollhouse, I used non-AI sources to suggest additional TV series, netting Chuck, Veronica Mars, and I Zombie.  I'm sampling the first two.  The Movie Madness computer claimed to have all three, however Chuck was filed before Chicago PD under Millennial TV Heritage.

Back to Theater and multi-tasking, and the need for retakes.  Live theater requires rehearsing the whole thing a number of times, unless it's improv. I'm not the expert.

Computer programming is similar in that once you get a working copy in the can, you can put the code into production and watch it do its job.  Recorded media are reassuringly deterministic, even if the circumstances in which they're played may not be.



Theater includes a lot of business management, workflow analysis, operations research and the like. We might introduce the idea of fictional versus nonfictional theater.

The two sets overlap on "A" because we're somewhat anthropocentric by nature, and need to keep the impact of our work, on our quality of life, front and center.  What are the opportunity costs that come with dumbing ourselves down?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Use It or Lose It

(Use | Lose)(it: any) 

Yes, that's a cryptic title, too cryptic in fact, for Blogger to wanna let me do it.  Use It or Lose It, where "it" my be anything, as in "any type of object". I'm not using the syntax of any real language that I'm aware of, although | ("pipe symbol" -- named for Bob's) has routinely meant "or" in many authoritative postings.

The "it" of this afternoon is getting on the Internet from some public mall with lots of sign-in opportunities, including a few without passwords.  Is this the official Lloyd Center hot spot? At Pycon we had FBI-Surveillance-van as a hot spot option (though I think with some auth).

At first, given the request for a texted code, I inadvertently got the smartphone on the network instead, so then tried to forward the laptop through a Bluetooth connection, no dice.  You might say "why trust public wifi?" but then I know about https and so feel that I know the answer.  Lets see if this posts...

I don't think the title is what's bad. Something lower level. I changed it anyway. A physical spider has been crawling my screen, a small green one. I let it alone. Even saving doesn't work. I think I'll jump to another network.  It worked when I came back.

On Facebook this morning, I relayed the fake news that the Committee on Taxonomy and Terminology has officially revoked our "sapien" status, as in "homo sapien". After further study, we are deemed to be "homo machinus" instead.  Hey, they demoted Pluto, happens to the best of us sometimes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Philosophy of Science


Terry Bristol treated us to a lecture on intellectual history, using a big picture "macroscopic" approach. I brought my mom to this last Linus Pauling lecture of the season, and maybe for good, we don't know. Terry has a busy schedule.

My work takes me to Pycon, starting up this same Thursday, although I'm writing this from the following Monday's perspective.

The mind-meld (the seque, the synapse), twixt Pycon and ISEPP, was pretty smooth, in that software engineering blends with all kinds of engineering, just as computer science blends well with all science.

Terry maintains a somewhat insider "science versus engineering" thread, using these as two poles around which to organize different paradigms.  From outside his philosophical namespace, such a distinction might seem nonsensical at first, but that's how it is with namespaces: they may take awhile to penetrate (decipher).

I was please to see Terry's bringing in Vienna Circle thinking, even with his Karl Popper background. Popper disciples tend to be rather suspicious of Wittgenstein, but Terry is living proof it's possible to leap that fence.

Mom is somewhat hard of hearing and bleary of sight, needing new glasses, but in the darkened church was able to puzzle through the quotes pretty well.

I extol the ISEPP lectures, happening since the 1990s, in my Tying Off Loose Ends video presentation below (embedded Youtube).

LW in a Church

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pycon Begins

Walking in, I spied Guido immediately, which makes it official, then I registered, no lines, the Oregon Convention Center seemingly almost empty but for the geeks around tables.  Looks are deceiving however: they're all in tutorial sessions, with lunch about to start.

I'm taking a low key approach this year, haunting the periphery more, checking out open spaces, or such is the plan.  In years past, I've been ravenous to not miss a thing.  Designing one's own experience is an art.

I grabbed a Max at the Hollywood stop, leaving a car.  I have a gig co-teaching at Laurelhurst PPS back near where I parked it.  Then tonight, rather than attend the Intel sponsored soiree, I'm heading into town for an ISEPP lecture, Terry Bristol presenting, Carol Urner (MVP, mom) joining me.  This is the final lecture of the season and will there be another one?

In my May 5 lecture above (embedded Youtube), I exult about the ISEPP Linus Pauling Memorial Lecture Series and all the great minds it has brought to Portland.

Tomorrow the conference starts in earnest with the opening keynote and lots of talks.  I'm in one of the tutorial rooms as I write this; Applied Modern Cryptography in Python begins at 1:20 PM.  Maybe I can sit in for forty minutes to an hour, before grabbing a Max back to Hollywood.

A threesome next to me is yakking about the concept of "duality" as relating to topology and polyhedrons. I must be in the right place, huh.

At lunch I met a chief of Visual Studio documentation. Microsoft is making Python a top-level citizen in the VS ecosystem, meaning a direct install option.  That's CPython, not IronPython or Python .NET as some call it.  The consensus seems to be:  we use Python for machine learning and data analysis. Windows has also made it easy to install a bash shell.

A reason Python might be considered a "glue language" is it's bringing all the platforms together. One ring to rule them all...

Neil Raja, whom I know from Flying Circus, was haunting the hallway track. We ended up at an Anaconda workshop together, about dask, an open source project enabling the use of pandas (a set of data structures) across multiple gigabytes relatively painlessly.

David Koski is flying in Sunday afternoon. I'll be transitioning between Python world and Synergetics world.  Glue language.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Changing Channels

I accepting an assignment in Sellwood, given Monday evenings have cleared and I'm not anxious about traffic. Sellwood is on my side of the river anyway, and it's the bridges that are bottlenecks, especially with the Morrison still closed.  I'd never been to this picturesque little neighborhood school. We did a lesson on functions.

The debate on functions on Math Forum has been a little bit interesting but I just don't find much contemporary thinking going on, meaning I need to change channels.  I'm stagnating on math-teach.  Maybe switching back to math-future would be good for me.

Pycon is coming right up.  I'm also expecting a quick visit from my partner in arms David Koski, who is celebrating Finland turning 100 years old this year, same as AFSC.  David and I received that Synergetics Explorer Award back in the 1990s.  I've been living off the lump sum ever since (just kidding).

The new playlists on Synergetics I put out have been percolating through social media.  Osmosis is our friend. I notified many of the key players by Twitter, more to document my having done my part, regardless of how the network responds.  I'm upholding my end of the bargain at least.

In the last few hours I've taken a brief vacation from nonfiction to advance through Season One of Dollhouse, which came out quite awhile ago by now.  We're Joss Whedon fans in this family, when it comes to fictional storytelling. However that doesn't mean I'm always able to stay up to date.

Friday, May 12, 2017



Glenn clued me about this performance.

I was some concerned I'd not be able to fight may way back to my zip code in time (Asylum District), given rush hour traffic and my plan to wait it out.

After McKay Elementary (my assignment) I popped in to Shiraz Grill for some gyro, then migrated to McMenamins on Scholl's Ferry for pint number two, followed by black coffee. I got back to the hood right on time. The Facebook timeline has more of the details.

Bardoville was in a small church-like building (ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX) buried in the Foster neighborhood, one of Portland's last traditional holdouts, still funky and unspoiled by the upscale franchises, unless you count Roundtable (I don't).

The wraiths writhed in the foreground, in black leotards, going through all the emotional states, while a priest with a blow dryer (religious prop) did his best to officiate.

An author, with his proverbial desktop and typewriter, bottles of beer and wine, broke in with his stream of consciousness, about this twilight zone between lives, pregnant with meaninglessness.

I think Bardoville might be a better name than Portlandia. It sounds less Utopian, and besides, there's more to Oblivion than meets the eye.

That's the whole point in a way: for something to constellate, you need a galactic soup like the Milky Way.

I wasn't clear if this troupe had come down from Seattle, or originated there awhile back. Glenn remembered them from Esozone in some way.

Quoting from the Southeast Examiner:
Alli, a professional astrologer, has authored many wild mind books on experimental theatre, astrology, and Timothy Leary’s 8-circuit model of consciousness.

Of the production he says: “The idea for Bardoville came about while pondering the current sociopolitical landscape and watching the world as I knew it collapsing behind me with the new world not yet in sight. This harrowing awareness reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist term bardo which refers to the 49-day intermediary stage between human incarnations. As a culture, I think we are currently passing through a major bardo, an epic state between states, where the future remains unknown, yet also open to the potentials of creation.
We adjouned to O'Malley's, a neighborhood tavern, and watched the pizza guy make pizza in a most authentic fashion, sipping IPAs from Silver Moon.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Buddhist Ghetto

Meditation Room

I consider myself lucky, fortunate, to live in what some call a "Buddhist ghetto". I learned that moniker from an Episcopalian at St. David of Wales. The phrase was not used with any malice or disrespect.  The parishioner (congregant?) was more demonstrating a kind of knowing awareness of neighborhood demographics.

My contact at Maitripa College was leading a guided meditation this morning and invited me to attend. I was happy to do so, not having set foot in this institution before.  We talked a little about Buddhism afterwards.  Serious scholars don't buy that "Hinayana" as opposed to "Mahayana" is a useful term.  I think the word "Protestant" sounds similarly condescending, as if "in order to protest" were this movement's defining feature (at one time maybe, but to be branded that way seems diminishing).

In any case Maitripa inherits mostly from Tantric sources, which goes by Vajrayana as well.  Having lived in Bhutan for some months over multiple intervals, I know more than average about the history. Bhutan is more "red hat" territory whereas the Gelug branch is more informally known as "yellow hat".  The Bhutanese Drukpa sect is considered a subset of Kagyu.

After my visit to the college, I stopped by the nearby Burgerville (Asylum District) for a seasonal strawberry milkshake (I don't drink milk often), then headed back to Harrison Street on my bicycle. Most of the rest of the day was spent studying programming, which is what I do for a living as well as for a hobby, a lot of the time.  I teach programming, even as I learn it.  In this case, I watched another David Beazley Youtube, from way back in 2013, when Python 3.3 was still the newest.

Mahayana Buddhism, if we wanna call it that, came up with the Bodhisattva concept, or so I was told. A Bodhisattva is a compassionate being committed to being more a part of the solution than a part of the problem.  The translation to "saint" and/or "savior" is somewhat inexact, given all the spins involved.  There's no guarantee any specific translation will work.  If we know how to get the eigenvectors and/or singular value matrix for some great translation, that'd be welcome, but in the meantime it's up to each scholar to evolve a private understanding, with public auditing.

Quakers tried to dispense with titles for the most part, opting for "roles" in relation to given projects or meetings, but occupied in rotation, not for life.  We each get a persona, a character to work on, an individual soul, as distinct from the body.  The idea that a soul is singular, or even exists in the first place, might be questioned, however in common language, we acknowledge "individuals".  Through individuality shines a guiding light, or inner light, according to Quakerism, which might translate as Void or Buddha depending on one's brand of Buddhism.

I like to use "void" in the sense of C or None in Python, given my programming habits.  Existence has no final "return value" in this picture, which I'd contrast with a more judgemental one, wherein someone's opinion ultimately decides on some Judgement Day, what the return value is.

For sure the Buddhist deities, such as we see them depicted, may come with an attitude.  They're not necessarily neutral in the face of suffering or evil.  Perhaps they're causes of same?  From a human perspective, we might think so I'd suppose.  Some forces seem unfriendly.

Deities in the Joseph Campbell and psychoanalytic traditions get to be eternal embodiments of various qualities, inheriting from the Greek and Roman pantheon.  Monotheism eventually eclipsed these polytheistic religions with the rise of the Jewish and Christian faiths, while preserving a sense of hierarchy and of lesser beings (angels, demons, human mortals and so on).

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Code School Business

I introduced Wanderers to my topic with the write-up below.

During the presentation itself, I screened various learning tools I've seen used around Greater Portland, in connection with my code school work.

The slides merge coding with design work, as tool-making and tool-using is highly multidisciplinary.

What Does the Future Bode, in Terms of Learning to Code?

 The "code school" business is still shaping up in a rough and tumble world, full of uncertainties.

O'Reilly Media finally threw in the towel, closing its fledgling School of Technology. So then what happened to Wanderer Kirby Urner, one of the school's full time Python mentors (souvenir biz cards will be available)?

He's branched out into mentoring much younger folk, in addition to sometimes hosting a night gig for professional adults, off and on (a forty hour ordeal). He did a Python for Wanderers a few years ago, Allen Taylor attending.

Coding with Kids is the new company, based in Redmond, so you might be thinking Windows, but we use Chromebooks on resources in the cloud, what Kirby plans to project. After school, in schools (both public and private).

Given Kirby's unique perspective from the front lines, along with years spent developing curriculum for his Oregon Curriculum Network [1], we should get some interesting discussion going, starting with a 20 minute show and tell (projected) featuring some of the latest tools now in use in education. 

Presenter's bio:

Kirby is a former full time math teach (St. Dom's in Jersey City), text book editor, political activist etc., an early childhood denizen of Portland with an upbringing overseas (Rome, Manila) and a degree from Princeton (philosophy a focus).

He returned to Portland in his later twenties to met his late wife Dawn Wicca and raise a family. (ISEPP was one of Dawn's bookkeeping clients back in the 1990s). Kirby specialized in writing programs for nonprofits and for medical research.

 Full resume: http://grunch.net/kirby-urner

Want to optionally do some homework ahead of time? Read these to bone up on the presenter's views:

On Medium:

https://medium.com/@kirbyurner/is-code-school-the-new-high-school-30a8874170b https://medium.com/@kirbyurner/the-plight-of-high-school-math-teachers-c0faf0a6efe6

Ongoing Debate @ Math Forum:


[1] Oregon Curriculum Network