Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wanderers 2018.1.31

This morning was Open Forum, meaning we practice what we preach:  wandering from topic to topic, changing the subject rather frequently.  That doesn't mean many topics are taboo, to be explicitly avoided.  On the contrary, we talked a lot about the SOTU (State of the Union) and the US president's speech, which I didn't catch live, but am aware of.

I have some typical talking points in this chapter.  I'm a globalist, ergo skeptical that nationalism is here for the long haul. However, as the premier local (to Planet Earth) religion, I get why politicians milk it for all it's worth.

"Nation-states are for children" I say, almost with a sneer, but then immediately back off, admitting only a few of us elite need to see it that way ("children are minding the store" shouts the est Trainer), whereas whole-hearted belief in one's "nation" is just fine for the hoi polloi.  What can I say?  We're all programmed (me as much as the next guy).

Barbara was there, though heading off to Guyana.  David Tver and I bantered about Noam Chomsky, agreeing we're not disciples when it comes to his theories about language, me more out of ignorance than having made a concerted study.

I was a philosophy of language guy, who came up against transcendentalists working to make "gravity" rhyme more with "negentropy" ("syntropy") which really looks like a long shot.  So many namespaces need the gravitas that gravity brings to the equations, or table.  There might be a niche market for such discussion, but maybe only in retreat settings where people aren't defending a turf or academic department.

I'm talking about Synergetics of course, wherein Fuller posits "precession" as his escape pod from the Newtonian vortex, wherein gravity is the one-on-one two body phenomenon of "falling in" based on escalating force (as proximity, or closeness, increases).  Precession is meant to explain a lot more of the spinning, reactions not at 180 degrees to equal opposite actions.

The reactions are not equal, yet energy conservation is real, meaning resultants, sometimes unexpected i.e. precessional.  "That's a clever web" I remember thinking, "but will it withstand the test of time?".

Next time we meet on a Wednesday, I plan to field test my new slide show about the concept of "dimension" in Synergetics.  Wanderers is open to people guinea pigging themselves, especially when preparing presentations.  Some aspects of Synergetics are likely to live on through the 21st Century, or so I'm surmising.  Time will tell.

Given my background in Wittgenstein, I have a well-developed sense of the flexibility of language. If words anchored to reality more by "spot welding" as naming theory suggests (both Platonism and nominalism tend to share this same theory), then we might be less upgradable as operating systems.

In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein was at pains to show that words don't gain their significance by "pointing" to objects, although metaphorically speaking that's one of the easiest (and most misleading) models to comprehend.

I also made the point that, thanks to Prohibition and its subsequent repeal, which made many citizens and syndicates into experienced outlaws, we also have a nation of scofflaws to an extent some prudish nationalists have trouble grasping.

Americans tolerate government precisely because, until recently, it didn't have the big data surveillance powers it now could have, if properly organized, more like an organized religion.  IBM helped the Nazis with its Hollerith machines.

Americans say "Americans are ungovernable" with a sense of pride, and that's a part of their nationalism, their ethos, which presents something of a problem for the mostly literally nationalist, the authoritarians.

Many dream of vengefully bringing the renegades to heel and punishing the defiant. They want to see demonstrations of state power, even as they may still give lip service to more libertarian sounding values.  Even anarchists get this way sometimes.  The "hive mind" syndrome is no respecter of ideologies.

Finally, I mentioned thinking it perfectly legal (in the sense of legitimate) for these nation-states to exert influence on one another through social media.

The idea of Russians buying ads on Facebook doesn't bother me even a little.  The British do it too, which bothers me a little more.  I don't trust British suspicion of the Russians usually, as it relates back to their inheriting Roman Imperialism, a meme virus.  Americans were infected with that too, and tend to crow about it as a chief asset.  Just look at DC's architecture.

Anyway, the idea that nations seek to influence election outcomes does not disturb me.  It's a tiny planet and we all have a stake in the various outcomes.  The sooner we acknowledge what goes on, and stop trying to deal with it by criminalizing it, the better.

A lot of Americans have an inferiority complex when it comes to propaganda, thinking probably others do it better, because they're so truthful and innocent.  It's those other people who get deceitful and "manipulate the masses".  That's a complex to outgrow I'm thinking.

Friday, January 26, 2018


I'm practicing multi-tasking as we speak (as I write), and indeed the whole topic of "multi-tasking" has been much on my mind, apropos of this presentation by a British Sikh, Sukhi Wahiwala. What people have learned from near death is a genre on Youtube that I've been data mining lately, I wonder why.

Sukhi's focusing technique reminds me of Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics, a course I took in the Philippines and have continued to acknowledge, especially on math-teach (now closed to new postings, as of the end of 2017). The practice of closing the book you're reading, getting out a piece of paper, and actually doing a "recall", or "mind map" if you will (more boxes and arrows maybe), some kind of "diagram" is pretty helpful.  You do some intentional dot connecting before turning your attention to something else.

In Python World, we're much obsessed with age old scheduling challenges characteristic of the Operating System itself.  "What does an OS really do?" people wonder.  It multi-tasks. In practice that means matching hardware resources to work waiting to be done (queued), efficiently (optimally)... or so we hope.  Writing schedulers in software is not easy and I'm not the expert.  I admire from afar.  But then we each have our own multi-threaded lives to contend with, and that supreme Bottle Neck in Chief we picture inside our own heads (the homunculus).

We may get the impression in early training that time management skills get mastered early on, as a prelude to becoming an adult.  As an adult in a later chapter (turning 60 this year), I'd say we're always spiraling through the perennial challenges of even breathing properly.  A lot of Hinduism seems caught up with breath.  Yoga etc.  Why not?  Food too.  In English we have a fair (unfair?) amount of semantic distance between "food" and "medicine", but not so much between "cooking" and "chemistry".  The pharmacist used to be a chemist (Linus Pauling's dad). A cook's kitchen may look a lot like a chem lab, which it literally is.  Alchemist's too.

A theme in these blogs is revisiting how we teach "home economics" e.g. cooking, in early schooling.  Or do we?

Anyway, thanks for the phone call Dr. Tag, and now I must go catch that bus.  I'm heading downtown to the Process Work Institute to register late for a course, which will cost me two more beers.  The course itself is like twenty five beers.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ET Math

4 x 8 = 32

Copied from Facebook:

The way I sometimes teach it is we go over A x B the usual way, with A and B perpendicular, and then of course we don't just draw a line from A-tip to B-tip (common origin), we double that triangle to make a full rectangle, filled with squares. That's our civilizational orthodoxy.

Imagine not doing that final doubling and defining A x B as simply "closing the lid" on that right triangle. A x B is always a right triangle (the same area might be any shape, but that's the canonical representation).

Next, we take the extra step of making the angle 60 degrees instead of 90 (yes, it's somewhat arbitrary but 60 has attractive features our ETs may have felt drawn to). We simply draw A and B as vectors at 60 degrees with a common origin, and define A x B as "closing the lid". This is what you see above.

What I'm not showing here is the next step, adding C, another vector, such that A x B x C is three arrows from the corner of a regular tetrahedron. Again, we simply "close the lid" such that volume A x B x C is the tetrahedron with "lid" ABC (origin O). 

We spend some time dwelling on the logical consistency of this logical beginning, before coming back full circle to our Earthian cube. A,B, C must be mutually perpendicular and the right tetrahedron formed by "closing the lid" is only 1/6th of the full hexahedron's volume -- a different approach. Earthians are very right-angle minded.

How will these civilizations get along? Stay tuned. The ETs have a unit volume tetrahedron (1 x 1 x 1 = 1) and use that to anchor volumes of other polyhedrons. A cube, with thrice the volume, when edges = face diagonals, has volume 3 (consistently). Octahedron has volume 4 (same edge lengths). Nice whole numbers. Earthians agree on the ratios, just don't share the same model of 3rd powering (hexahedral versus tetrahedral).

ET means "extraterrestrial" i.e. I'm couching this analysis (aka lesson plan) in the science fiction form. An "outer space" civilization has a different way of modeling 3rd powering based on the regular tetrahedron instead of a cube. We appreciate the logic of their civilization, but don't abandon our own. That's like the TV Guide version. A goal of this lesson is to help students get philosophical and think about foundational questions i.e. what's conventional and what are examples of different flavors of math, thanks to different conventions.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Reading Rainbow

I'm two weeks out, plus one day, from my own bout of high tech treatment. Nothing cyborgian was implanted, if you're not counting ideas, which may be mini-machines in their own right, with lots of moving parts.  Ideas are variagated.

Thanks to Rosalie, a woman I helped welcome to Meeting, I now have a copy of the Dahlstrom memoir. When Rosalie caught up with him, he was serving as a distinguished member of the Portland State faculty, in the English Department. From this vantage of greater age, and high fluency, he wrote his memoir [1] in the form of a brief window on life, a period of one year serving as a private first class in World War One.

From the standpoint of an academe, he's able to put into words the experience of being a disposable machine or robot, in service of a state, led by officers of vastly higher privilege, and how these class differences rubbed democracy's children (small "d") the wrong way.

The high tech treatment was mostly diagnostic in nature, in a hospital already swamped with new year turmoil, as people tend to put treatment off until after the holidays.  Plus an especially virulent flu season was in full swing as we're seeing in the rear view mirror, as we piece it together.

My condition was statistically predicable in my age class (almost 60, a late fifties baby, slightly post hippie post baby boomer, in terms of US demographics), but without precipitating events, often fatal, where's the incentive to find the root cause?  Of what exactly?  Shortness of breath in my case. So am I just out of shape? I was still climbing mountains (OK, hills).

One of my gigs involves using Codesters, a cloud service that comes with sprites, stage backgrounds and so on, to create games with middle and high schoolers.  I'm thinking about how that same technology serves to make fun grid patterns of both a square-rectangular and triangular pattern.  I'm about to dive in to creating a few examples, expect screen shots soon.

Ellen Thomas phoned today, while I was having a lunch beer with the CRO.  This was between the two conference games (NFL).  The Vikings are playing now, as I write this. I'm watching with Spanish speaking narrators.

Ellen lived on the sidewalk in front of the White House for some years.  I reassured her mom was OK.

Last night I saw Alan Potkin, whom you'll meet elsewhere in these blogs. He has an abiding interest in the aesthetics / ethics associated with large scale engineering projects.

Sometime the left brainers don't want to think in terms of ecosystems and reject a systems approach in favor of pure kilo-wattage, neglecting the energy it would take to restore some of what would be lost.

If you start with a dumbed down model, you'll do unnecessary damage in the eyes of ancestors to come.

Rosalie actually typed the Dahlstrom manuscript and turned it into a book, somewhat as Applewhite catalyzed the Bucky Fuller creation, Synergetics (in two volumes).

Having a critical person between an original font of primary content, and those into publishing, is sometimes essential.  Kiyoshi Kuromiya played a similar role with Bucky, with regard to other books, especially Critical Path and Grunch of Giants.

 [1] Dahlstrom footnote.  Book cover up top.

4 x 3 = 12

Monday, January 15, 2018

C6XTY Meetup


Today was a holiday, MLK Day (memory).  Sam Lanahan, inventor of C6XTY, came by the house, upon learning of my new health and exercise commitments.  He brought me a really high quality industrial strength juicer.  Perfecto!

If you look closely (perhaps by clicking on the picture, then magnifying at the source), you'll see I'm using Spanish as my Facebook language.

That doesn't mean what people post changes to Spanish, only text coming from the Facebook API.

Yes, that's a slightly quirky use of "API" as GUIs (graphical user interfaces, such as Windows) have their own name.

We don't consider the surface of a printed page an "API" either, for somewhat the same reason.

 The verb "to read" applies, as in "read a face" and yet "API" has more of a lexical connotation. A car dashboard is an "API" except that it's more like a GUI.

I'm sure I'm blathering about these matters because I've spent much of the day immersed in the Tkinter API, a guidebook for programmers wanting to make GUIs. I did some similar work in Codesters, designing as Stars & Stripes for practice.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Working with AFSC

My history with AFSC (American Friends Service Committee) starts at the Multnomah Meeting meetinghouse in the early 1960s, in a building formerly owned by an electronics firm run by pacifists.

Doug Strain, though not a Quaker, had been a conscientious objector during WW2.  One of his principal clients, at least in the early days, was Hewlett-Packard.

When Doug's company outgrew its Stark Street digs, it was given over to Friends, with the understanding that AFSC, always supportive of conscientious objectors, would keep its offices there as long as needed.

"Friends Meeting House"
from company archives
courtesy of Wanderer Doug Strain

This was around the time I was born (1958) and our family moved to Portland, transferring membership from 57th Street Meeting in Chicago to this newly forming Stark Street meeting.

I've always associated AFSC's work with lots of paper, lots of typing and publishing. Activism is a cerebral thing I discovered, more about thinking and communicating than marching in the streets.  We did a lot of that too though, but with different organizations.

Women's Strike for Peace and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) took up a lot of mom's efforts.  She wanted a better and safer world for her family.  Trace amounts of radioactive materials were showing up in the food supply.  Linus Pauling was warning people of the dangers of a nuclear weapons economy.  His wife, Ava Helen, was likewise in WILPF, though she and mom didn't know each other.

In the summer of 1972, after some years in Rome, Italy, my parents agreed to help run an AFSC camp in Ramallah, at that time a much smaller town than today, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The plan was to help build a swimming pool with local Palestinians, in cahoots with students from the American University in Beirut, followed by some time on a kibbutz where we would learn from Israeli experts.

The project came off pretty much as planned though we were far from finishing that swimming pool, which had to be blasted from solid rock.

Fast forward to the mid 1980s and I'm back in Portland after finishing high school in the Philippines (I started at Southeast High in Bradenton, Florida), attending Princeton (Class of 1980) and serving as a high school teacher in Jersey City for two years, among other jobs.

As a young adult, I worked with Paulette Wittwer on the plight of Palau, and Pacific Islanders more generally. The nuclear weapons economy was hurting them too.  Palauans had tried to declare themselves a nuclear free zone, but Washington, DC was in no mood to accept defiance from a protectorate and insisted they keep voting until they get it right and allow nukes, at least in principle.

Palau has since achieved independence and membership in the UN.

Our AFSC office, now on East Burnside, published Asia-Pacific Issues News.  We looked at issues around refugee resettlement, the dangers of nuclear energy (in Japan especially), and the negative effects of a nuke weapons economy.  I eventually became the editor of this newsletter, which no longer publishes and is hard to find in any archives.

:: APIN: archive copies ::

After that, I served AFSC as a volunteer program clerk for several years. We had a youth leadership program aimed at improving communications between Asian and Hispanic (Latin American) high schoolers, and providing opportunities to travel, organize conferences, and produce media.

I participated in staff searches and some of the program activities.  I'd become an advocate for youth-focused programming centered around helping high schoolers develop media skills.  Voz Juvenile was on local community television.  United Voices was our literary magazine.

In a next chapter, I served as a member of the AFSC corporation on behalf of North Pacific Yearly Meeting (NPYM) which paid for my trips to Philadelphia for annual meetings.  In order to ground itself as a Quaker organization, AFSC has an elaborate way of interfacing with various Yearly Meetings.  My accounts of these Philadelphia meetups appear in these online journals (blogs).

Finally, I served on an Area Program Committee in support of staff and program.  However, AFSC was feeling financial pressures and decided to downsize in Portland, moving from East Burnside and ending its work with youth.  As of 2018, I'm not doing anything with AFSC directly.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Health Plan

Keep Health Care Alive

Ever since the O'Reilly School closed, I've been adrift in the nation's health system, electing to go with COBRA at first, which took a lot of my severance, and then applying for Oregon Health Plan.  I've been reluctant to seek health care fearing the hassle of changing providers and learning the new maze.

Last night, however, my friends insisted I visit a walk-in clinic as my shortness of breath was acute and I ended up at OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University), where my care was efficient, professional, and compassionate.

I'm home now, with a diagnosis of lung clots.  The prognosis is still hopeful, though only time will tell.  I'll be picking up my exercise program right where I left off.

I'm glad Oregon state has been taking the business of care of its indigents, such as myself, seriously. Many of my friends enjoy the same benefits.

It's not that I don't work; I'm just not "raking it in" given my career as a freelance teacher-programmer.  Most medical insurance policies for someone in my position are outside of my price range.

My thanks to all the staff who saw to it that I got the best care available.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's Day 2018

After collecting a party at the airport, I got home in time to watch the Internet go down, to my place I mean.

Right in the middle of some random Youtube about Bitcoin maybe collapsing, or otherwise keeping people nervous.

So how did that one go?  I never found out.

The modem light starting blinking red, then green, then red... all the support pages said this'd be temporary and it'd make up its mind.  Red.  Or green.  It never did.

So I left town.

By next morning I was watching rock climbers tackle Smith Rock.  This is where I'm looking to start one of the XRL-based futuristic livingry camps or colleges.  Terrebonne area.

I did some backup photo shots of my brother in law's poetry before packing it in and driving back to Portland.  I use a Lumix from Sam Lanahan these days.  The Fujifilm started becoming unreliable.