Saturday, November 28, 2015

Athena's Sail Makers

A subculture that saw a lot of importance in triangles might have two well known means to multiply. Imagine saying "three by two" and meaning not a ninety degree rectangle with opposite edges three and two, but a sixty degree triangle with edges three and two, the third side closing off said area, of six triangular units.

Either way, with ninety or sixty degrees, we have a model.  Both operations may be quite familiar within a culture, the triangular way having more to do with textiles and sail making, or weaving covers for domes.

What models of multiplication have we now?  Remember how complex numbers do it, on the Argand Plane.  Their real and imaginary parts project to XY, giving length, and these quantities multiply to give another length, and yet it's their angles (say alpha and theta) that add.

So we already have multiple models for multiplication.  Adding our sixty degree based operation just reinforces the same freedom:  to have "multiplication" mean various recipes.  Matrices "multiply".  So do we.

I like associating the sixty degree based model with matters maritime, as sailing the high seas has always involved triangles, as well as economizing ("more with less").  The maritime tradition takes off into aerospace in later decades, incorporating NASA's Apollo Project with its mythical associations, of rationality, lucidity, intelligence and so on.  People spontaneously accept geodesic domes as normal, when NASA does them.

The advantage of our triangular picture of two by three, if you don't know, is that two by three by three (nine by two) becomes an eighteen-volume tetrahedron, two thirds of the three by three by three tetrahedron of volume twenty seven, all facets equiangular.

A third number joining the multiplication takes us from surface to volume, just as in the rectilinear case, but by this route we come to a unit volume that's tetrahedral instead of a cube.  Our subculture works with that too.  They don't suffer from either / or thinking the way a dogmatist might.

Might we / they want such a unit volume tetrahedron for some reason?  In Synergetics, we certainly do, and that's why we boot up with a triangle in the first place:  as a first step towards a rational and/or whole number volumes "concentric hierarchy" of nested concentric polyhedrons.  One twenty fourth will prove another important rational number, the volume of A, B and T modules for starters.

Not that in adding all these whole numbers we thereby banish incommensurability (irrationality) or the surds.  We still have convergent series and the algebra of Phi is as strong as ever.

You know the drill (maybe): the Icosahedron of edges PV (prime vector) which is two PVR (two times unit ball radius) has a volume of 5 Φ√2. The unit volume sphere still has Pi in it too (easily memorable):  π √2.

Philosophically speaking, we may not want to suggest that "nature is using Pi" (to how many digits?) even if Greek letters provide a convenient notation.  Numbers are approximations of realities, not the other way around.

Sails and sailing might be associated with a female goddess religion.  The conspiracy literature has already done a lot of work for us, in gathering the similarities between the Eve and Athena myths.

Athena is a goddess of war, like Mars in some ways, but preferring strategy to brute force, and wisdom to hormonal imbalance.  Her victories tend to be "at sea" i.e. over the horizon from visible land, meaning invisible to the landlubbers.

The ocean, these days, has become cyber-space (a space of steering, triangulation, and whole systems thinking).  We could say that Athena wins with better music, if at all possible.  She prefers to solve with psychology.  Military leaders came to Delphi for the advice, however enigmatic, not outward weapons.

Telling the story of this subculture, this ethnicity, should not pose too great a threat to existing STEM courses, given Anthropology is well able to merge narratives.  Let STEM become STEAM for the purposes of enlivening our sense of history.

Deliberately forgetting our metaphysical heritage would be the greater danger.  We should aim to remember, and in a context that's more than a jumble of semi-meaningless and unmemorable factoids.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cider House


One might logically surmise I'd been here before, a new establishment just blocks from my house.  But other times I've tried, I've found it really crowded, as in no seating.  At least they're doing a good business.  Given my no beer diet, this was an appropriate place to meet up with Trevor.

Trevor's experience doing archive work began in earnest with his tackling the writings of one George Walford and his peers regarding their newly invented subject of Systematic Ideology.  When I first met Trevor, decades back, he was already steeped in that project.

He has continued to grow in that role, more recently sifting and compacting the Buckminster Fuller Virtual Institute collection by Joe Moore.  Next to Applewhite, Joe was one of the key archivists of Fuller-related "collateral" as Ed referred to such materials.  Ed had worked with Bonnie on other aspects of the same challenge.  Joe chose Trevor as an heir for his collection.

This time, when we met at Cider House, Trevor had taken on at least two more projects, one for the City of Portland, involving a special collection within the library, with some very rare and great books (even an ancient stone tablet) and another involving papers donated to an academic institution by a famous columnist alum.  He'd flown back east in connection with the latter project.  He loves his new Apple watch.

I kept it to one dry cider < 7% alcohol as my Internet radio show was soon to begin.  That's not really what it is, it's a class that I'm teaching by sharing audio and my screen, in real time.   Tonight we looked at Python generators, using triangular, tetrahedral and icosahedral numbers, Pascal's Triangle, then Fibonacci numbers for a lab.  The time went by quickly.  I somewhat lost track of it.

One of Trevor's older websites had become so popular that it fit Google's profile of a spam site.  How could one person be that prolific?  Rather than fight the shunning that occurred, being listed as a spam site, he took that as a cue to drastically reshape the content.  That's life on the Web:  rolling with the punches and morphing if need be.

I meant to work in Lucy today, in my talk on classes having ancestor classes.

STEM Class 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Steve Jobs The Lost Interview (movie review)

Let me immediately disentangle this interview from the docudrama running in theaters now, which features a Steve Jobs character, interpreted by an actor.  I haven't seen that one yet, but expect to at some point.

No, I was milling about at Quakers, chauffeuring mom (packing for Whittier), and ducked into Movie Madness, per longstanding habit.  I've been looking for Going Clear by Alex Gibney, which I'll watch and review next.  Gibney has done a documentary on Jobs also, which I hope to see soon.

Jobs is still with NeXT in this interview, having suffered the painful break with Apple.  He's anticipating Apple's demise, with the next big thing clearly not happening there.  Apple would bring him back as their chief after this interview, as interviewer Paul Sen reminds us.  The rest is history (I'm writing this on a Mac Air, great machine).

Jobs is very succinct in his telling.  He fell in love with computers early, giving a story not unlike Neal Stephenson's in In the Beginning..., then talks about the Three Things they showed him during his now legendary visit to Xerox-Parc, the Seat of Genius in this story.

He only saw and understood the first of the three things, at first:  the GUI.  Anyone seeing a graphical user interface for the first time knew that would be the future.  The Terminal would become one of the windows.

The two other things they showed him, which he didn't get at first:  object oriented programming, and networking.  He would grow into those visions later.  NeXT was all about developing and extending the former.  He's quite right about what we should expect from the Web, a decade ago.  A lot of us were.

He certainly seemed to me to have his ego under control or is that calling the kettle black?  He's quite happy to stand up for high quality and does the hip-hop thing of dissing his rivals, upholding his side in a rivalrous tale.  That's par for the course and translates to athletics.  But hey, this is just the one interview -- lots of jabber about Jobs in the background in November, 2015.

Windows was maybe more plebian, but somewhat paved the way for Free and Open Source by prepping a generation to be unafraid of hardware guts in open cases.

Macs were intentionally a lot harder to break into and mess with.  The IBM side of the business, with its PC clones, did a lot to make Linux happen, and Linux is still happening.  IBM was happy to provide source code as well (the case of SCO).

I sometimes forget I'm not using Linux when in my Terminal window on the Mac Air.  How did it go again? Was Darwin a port of FreeBSD?  Time to check Wikipedia.  I think of Windows versus POSIX as backward versus forward slash cultures (\ versus / e.g. C:\ vs. /bin).  We call that os.sep (separator) in Python and let the host operating system supply the value.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wanderers 2015.11.11

I made it to Wanderers this morning.  This group has met in the Linus Pauling House for many years, settling on a Tuesday night, Wednesday morning weekly format, often just a wandering conversation, whoever's there spinning it one way or another.

I remember as a little kid looking up at "grownups" (much taller) and listening to them talk.  I noticed this form called "conversation" could twist and turn quite a bit, depending on whom were the talkers. Other times there'd be "an agenda" and the talk might be less free form.

Carol took off on the bus for Pioneer Place, where Veterans for Peace were holding their annual vigil for Armistice Day, a name that recalls the war is against outward war; we haven't given up by accepting Endless War as our "evermore" end fate (to quote the raven).  The goal all along has been to get beyond outward war, even if we still fight about stuff.

A few people really groove on outward war though.  The simulations have been getting better and better.  Perhaps with the next version the few holdouts will give in and go out and buy a console.

Today the conversation wandered through the geography of Oregon, where some of us (not me) were well traveled.  Yes, I've seen the Canyonville Museum, been to Fossil, but these were once in a lifetime experiences for me, whereas for many long time Oregonians, this is all more of a familiar stomping ground.  I'm lucky if I make it either to the coast or over the mountain to the high desert, like to Mount Scott in Terrabonne.

OSCON is earlier this year.  I don't know if I'll make it to Austin, but I'm checked in as a proposals reader again.  Open Source is not to be taken for granted, oxymoronic though that sounds (doesn't Open Source mean Free -- so why not take it for granted?).

Free as in freedom (vs. "free" as in beer) requires protection, and I understand Veterans who say freedom is worth fighting to preserve, even when that means engaging in outward wars.  I'm not the backseat general who sees how it all could have all worked out better with me calling all the shots.  I keep calling shots though, some of them.  I have a front row seat on some "operations" (doctors call them that too).

The local news tonight talked about the Blob, which may be starting to dissipate.  We haven't been hearing much about the Blob on televised media, or at least I haven't, so I'm glad to see more of that information getting out, KOIN the one breaking the news.  Charlie Rose anchored the CBS News that followed.  I left the radio on downstairs, along with the space heater, for the dog, and retreated up to my direct broadcast TV.  I also pay for some of the same stations through CenturyLink.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Winning Ways

Friday, November 06, 2015

Spectre (movie review)


I started watching Bond movies in middle school at the Teatro Archimede (no longer in business) in a high density suburb of downtown Rome, near Piazza Euclide (red balloon on image), our family apartment being near Piazza Ungeria, Viale Parioli Twenty-Five (closer to right edge, across from that roof-top swimming pool).

You may imagine I was nostalgic for Rome, a great city for a car chase.  Bond stuck behind that Cinque Cento... hilarious.

I think we were all afraid the cars would blast into St. Peter's basilica itself, which would have been in poor taste most likely, and the franchise wisely steered clear, though does allude to the priesthood in passing.

I remember taking my daughter to her first Bond film in Santa Fe.  Dawn was on oxygen and Apria helped us orchestrate some high tech logistics.  Santa Fe under snow is something else.  This new Bond guy was just getting going with Casino Royale.

I had a lurking suspicion I might have missed one and I did, Quantum of Solace, but this episode maintains continuity with the last, not breaking the storyline, and keeping with Daniel Craig.

A lot of the "intelligence lore" is converging to the same plot lines anyway:  automation is putting even these pros out of business.  They plan to phase out all the "double ohs" with their too human judgements.  Computers are taking over, along with minions and drones.

Lets cut to the BBC radio interview (replayed in the US) of two disguised-voice MI6 types, having more fun around this movie, assuring the public that the real spies of the British intelligence apparatus are quite the opposite of Bond in so many ways, but especially in brashness.  Whatever happened to self-effacing?  Bond keeps making a spectacular spectacle of himself (luckily for movie-goers).

However, this "we're just goody-two-shoes government servants" line plays into the poking and prodding these spy thrillers get away with.  The Marvel Comic style projection, with moments for uncomplicated self reflection by almost robotic characters (that's a compliment) is a good fit for the big screen and its hoodwinks and hi-jinx.  The more serious-minded derive their thrills in other ways, through John le Carré (a pen name) perhaps.  Different strokes for different folks.  Some read Tom Clancy (not me).

The suggestion that all this trashing of real estate and pouring through expensive merchandise, in addition to loss of life, has to do with sibling rivalry, family feuding, is a great statement on history.  I'm reminded of another spy novel of sorts, The Jew of Linz, which makes all of WWII a closet brawl between two school boys (young Adolf and Ludwig, Hitler vs. Wittgenstein) who presumably couldn't stand each other (the record is open to interpretation) -- and the rest is history as they say.  Makes a good story, as many spy stories do.

Our Portland audience at Cine Magic Theater was entertained, with a burst of laughter when the violence turns to sex per an abrupt and well worn formula.  That's the Bond brand, meant as light fare with some gorgeous photography and lots of beautiful people.

Back to movie magic, the seemingly seamless blending of reality and imagination is pushed to the state of the art in Bond films.  The London landscape is as plastic as Narnia's, it sometimes seems.

Viale Parioli, 25
:: former family digs, top floor right, with terraces ::

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Computer Lore

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Black Panthers: Vanguard... (movie review)

I finally got to this, having naively shown up on opening night thinking I could just waltz in and buy a ticket.  That was a gala event, for which I had not planned in advance.  No matter, Hollywood Theater, a nonprofit with members, let this important new documentary run for quite a few days.

I found it helpful to tightly focus on the Panthers through this period, but was always aware, since I was alive through some of this, of how much else was going on in parallel.  How Black Panthers related to Black Muslims and Malcolm X is discussed even less than their relationship with Black Christians and Martin Luther King.  The Panthers were more secular, less likely to invoke God in their speeches.  They simply wanted higher living standards and freedom from oppression.

With mass movements like this, mob psychologies, the so-called leaders act as tone and trend setters, but then the real inertia comes from the rank and file, people looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Not much vetting goes on sometimes as players are thrown together by circumstance.

This out-of-control snowballing effect was evident in the case of the Panthers but also in the case of law enforcement.  J. Edgar Hoover helped set the tone with Cointelpro, but it was up to individual police departments to "get creative".  Effectively micromanaging from the top, with this much going on concurrently, is somewhat impossible.  Would be public figures ride the wave, and use the media to help them do so, as another category of celebrity.

The former Panthers, police, journalists and historians, interviewed for this film have the benefit of a lot of hindsight.  If people had only had the luxury of being this reflective at the time... if only. Quakers intersperse a lot of silence for a purpose.  People need that time to reflect and to hear one another's voices in a safe environment.  They also need ways to debate and challenge one another without resorting to physical violence.  William F. Buckley, to his credit, worked at providing such a forum, an alternative to violence.

Speaking of Buckley, the segment on the park in Chicago segues smoothly to the famous Buckley-Vidal altercation.  Eldridge Cleaver delivered the speech in that park, and had left the scene before violence erupted, however he was charged with inciting said violence.  He decided he'd be better off in Algeria, where he started an international chapter of the Black Panther movement.

The commitment to Free Huey (Newton) from prison was a big part of Panther psychology and when he was finally let free, he was an icon.  However all that prison time had shaped him in ways that distanced him from his fans.  The party tried to consolidate around Bobby Seale, who ran for mayor of Oakland, and when that didn't work, things fell apart.  Huey had become abusive and tyrannical.

One could say the Panthers lost in their bid for a revolution, however big wheels turn slowly.  Nixon, the law and order president, turned out to be a crook (in addition to the usual war criminal, what most warlords are) and to this day the right to openly carry guns on public property (not private necessarily) owes a lot to the Black Panthers.

Their work in Chicago to build bridges with poor whites, so-called hillbillies from Appalachia, has paid off in some dimensions.  And backwater Oregon, where being black is no longer illegal, now has peaceful ties with Hanoi.  Today we have the Internet, and infiltration was always a two way street.

Watching this documentary in tandem with a few others, such as Neverland, the one about Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army, would help open more windows on a complex timeline.  Historians are still putting together these vistas.  The US Versus John Lennon would be another good one to watch in close proximity.  No one documentary gets the whole picture of course.  History is non-simultaneously conceptual, meaning there's no single snapshot synopsis (obviously).

Today was much higher in pain and stress than anyone had planned, mostly for Carol, my mom (age 86).  She managed to gouge her leg quite deeply getting out of the car, fortunately at a hospital.  What was supposed to be a routine thirty minute checkup turned into a visit to the ER for sutures and a tetanus shot (as well as for the blood test she'd originally come in for).  I'm required to report this event to my car insurance company or risk Medicare not covering any of the costs, according to the hospital.  Mom is OK.  We're still planning that trip to Corvallis tomorrow.  Followup from Corvallis:  Farmers says they'll cover it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Religious Teachings

The talking animals in this namespace ("Noah's Park") seem remarkably incurious as to the origin of a buried treasure that comes to light.

The hypothesis it was placed there deliberately to inspire future experiments is one definitely worth exploring, but what else might it mean?  Is it a relic of a past civilization?

That the wings could have metaphorical significance is not proposed, nor does anyone care to speculate as to how this statue actually did come to be in the pond.  Is it some kind of trick, like a faux fossil in the mud?

Clearly none of the animals present have the skills to manufacture such trophies.  If this really is the complete namespace, then divine origins are as good an explanation as any.  We may accept "God-given" as axiomatic. Honk is right to seek its meaning.

At least the mysophobic camel takes this sign from God seriously, as some form of communication, and attempts to do God's will, by trial and error.  As the dutiful empiricist, seeking his true niche (a cleaner place) he does his homework, practices science.

Yes, Honk the camel is the most faithful, the most loyal to God in the face of skeptics who have never felt the tug of the divine.  Honk is perhaps the Moor, the Arab alchemist, the Kabbalah scholar who seeks to know God's secrets first hand.

The authority figure or imam, a frog-faced individual named Ponder, does not dispute the sign's divine origin, nor really offer much of an alternative interpretation.  Yet he tut tuts the camel's empiricism, smug in his all-knowing attitude.

The frog recommends the camel keep the statue once the wings have symbolically broken off (a reminder of the dead-end nature of ego pride), but then seems uncertain as to whether he, a mere frog, has comprehended God's will himself.  Any show of humility is more than welcome at this point.

Children exposed to this material will have an easier time ignoring loose ends, such as "what did the sign from God really signify?"  Did it foretell that birds, another species, would one day collaborate to form an airline, creating friendly skies for this camel?   This would seem far fetched but in retrospect apparently it did.

A hidden teaching was in due course revealed:  go ahead and give up on dreams of greater powers obtained through your own efforts and loyalty to God, and instead let your friends help you compensate for your obvious weaknesses.

Your approach to God will be indirect, mediated by others (the birds) whom God made to ply the sky.  Be satisfied with your base nature (as a camel).  Don't aspire to be in some way above your station or "beyond your light" (as Quakers might put it).

Depend on your community to prop you up, in exchange for learning your lesson and in future adopting their same incurious / unquestioning attitude, and lack of aspiration.  Learn to restate the obvious ("camels don't fly") over and over, as a kind of mantra, while avoiding all manner of speculative experimentation as empty vanity.  Be a dolt.