Saturday, October 22, 2016

Where to Invade Next (movie review)

Rated R for Sex & Drugs

Michael Moore films follow the same pattern, well known in journalism, wherein we get to know the journalist as one of the players, an actor in front of the camera.

"Omniscient narrator" documentaries, if political in content, tend to sound phony, though many oldsters will still hear a Wild Kingdom interpretation of animal behavior without hearing a mockumentary.

There's much to say about how the ear is tuned.

So here's this bumbling guy, playing the "dumb American," stumbling around Europe and North Africa, getting a positive echo from the difference the USA makes, or made.  All those reforms Americans fought for paid off, in other countries.

Better benefits in Italy, school food in France, no drug wars or death penalty in Portugal, better prisons in Norway, better schools in Finland, more women's rights in Iceland and Tunisia, more affordable higher education in Slovenia.  The list goes on.

Everyone gets more paid vacation than average USers.  Moore doesn't even mention working for tips.

Now these relatively happy and enlightened people are hoping what they see on TV about Michael Moore's home country is not their worst nightmare coming true.

Michael Moore appears to come from some hell people wish to avoid, at this point.

How might we explain this grave turnaround in reputation, and will the USA recover?

The explanation offered has to do with a "race to the top" being harder to win than a "race to the bottom".

The recipe then, was to criminalize all drug pushing outside legal advertising, as a way to keep people down and out and/or hard at work within "chain gang" prison colonies, thereby providing prison labor to Victoria's Secret and many others. 

Operate some kind of Gulag in other words. Perpetuate slavery. Practice eugenics (war against the weak).

Whether Michael's country will bounce back or not is one of the major soap opera concerns of our time, and if Wagner were alive he'd likely have given us some great Hollywood soundtracks about it.

I'll settle for Weird Al. Like John Oliver, he's wondering if this really could be hell that we've entered, have actually been in for quite awhile maybe.

Carol has been especially eager to see this.  She watched it from the big chair, wrapped in a quilt, eating popcorn.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Emerging Cyberia

On kind invitation from Patrick, I walked over to his household, by way of New Seasons where I stoked up on prepared foods: chicken, brussels sprouts, macaroni and rice.  Patrick picked the beer.

I enjoyed watching the debate, the 3rd twixt the two ruling parties, with an affectionate corgi (brand of dog) jumping all over me.  Spencer joined us, while Katie flittered in and out.  That was the purpose of my visit, to take in this program.

Another "first world concern" adding actionable items to my "to do" list today is the HTC phone from Verizon, which as of two days ago is actually losing charge while plugged into a charger.  Turning it off while charging just barely holds the line.

Scouring the Internet leaves the door wide open as to whether it's a software or hardware glitch (I suspect the battery is shot, not the charging port).  In any case, it's soon to be a brick, and I'm still paying for it, so time to pay a visit to my local Verizon storefront.

I suppose the biggest takeaway, for me, was not "nasty woman" (Trump's remark) but the role of "Russians" in the national dialog.  In other times, Georgia (the Black Sea bordering region) and Crimea were maybe more front and center, or Ukraine, but now it's all cyber and Wikileaks flavored, even while Aleppo is deemed to have "fallen" to its own Assad government.

Whereas Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) may not have known Aleppo was a city in Mesopotamia, I'm guessing very few political insiders could name all seventeen USG intelligence agencies that Hillary could cite as sharing her concerns about spies helping the Kremlin.

More Americans probably know that Archer worked for ISIS and that the Kremlin rebranded the KGB as something else, just like the CIA underwent a facelift to become just one of seventeen services -- can you name them?

Trump is all about "dealing with ISIS" first, a goal he believes he shares with Vlad Putin, but then not the way they're doing it now, by staging a big battle for Mosul, a city to be "taken back" by Iraq. Donald ridiculed the Democrats for letting go of Mosul in the first place.

He takes a position somewhat consistent with Make America Great Again in casting Democrats on the losing side of history. ISIS won't be there given all the advanced notice to move elsewhere.

That's where the Russians come in, as outplaying the Obama administration.  In a way, that's a constructive role, as it's somewhat like poker or chess, and we see the Dems are incompetent so why not give a smart business man a chance?

I'm not saying I'm personally buying this rhetoric or narrative, only that I believe I'm fairly characterizing the Republican candidate's position.  He likes it when we're fair.

I live in Portland, Oregon which I'd say was most definitely a Bernie town (as in Bernie Sanders). The sense among Cascadians is DC is well past its prime in its ability to cough up credible theater.

The screen writing has gotten even worse than mediocre, and really has more to do with misguided ventures already in the rear view mirror.  Republican president Eisenhower was right to warn us of big business inertia and its need for war as a business expense -- could be a "cold" one.

Speaking of cyber-war, I don't think the Russians' role vis-a-vis the US, here in October in 2016, is all that destructive. We're getting more immediate and relevant insight into how the game of politics is played, e.g. the shoving aside of Bernie.

Plus companies and committees (e.g. the DNC) are learning that keeping secrets is a real challenge when they're also hot properties, and this has been true since the village over the hill discovered the secrets of the catapult.

Spies might be sent over to catch up on the latest tech, or defectors encouraged to come over and spill the beans. How do these human behavior patterns work themselves out in tcp/ip world and beyond?

Sophistication around encryption is definitely a big part of it.

Businesses engaged in cyber-security for a living are being galvanized by the "Russian threat" and that could be good for the bottom line, in a purely capitalist sense.  As many security experts have been warning us, the tools of war are becoming ever more invisible.

The front line is not in Aleppo or Mosul so much, nor in outer space, but in cyber-space or "Cyberia" as some have called it, and as the debate proves.

Followup:  'twaz indeed the battery, new HTC One device on the way.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wittgenstein Again

Welcome to Uru

[ from emails to Nathaniel Bobbitt ]

I haven't read Peter Hacker's book yet, but having studied Wittgenstein, I somewhat get where he's coming from.

In Wittgenstein's philo we're trained to see words gaining meaning through use, not through pointing to phenomena.  "Words do not point" might be the slogan. 

Ergo "understanding" "thinking" and "pain" connect to introspected "mental events" in only tenuous / tangential ways.

Not much temptation on my end to imagine "understanding" as a "brain process" in any direct one-to-one literal sense.

Saying "bacteria respond intelligently to stresses in the environment" is not metaphoric nor anthropomorphic usage, merely an extension of common everyday usage. 

Ergo an "intelligent response" requires no brains at all (bacteria don't have them).

The supposition that "desire" "empathy" "false belief" are "mental states" in the sense of signature brain configurations, is extremely alien to my way of thinking but doesn't mean it won't be useful in motivating pattern matching and ToM reasoning skills.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

High School Math Notebooks

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Fuller's Legacy

"Bucky stuff" on CBS Morning Show (2009)

This well-produced 2009 segment reminds us of the "Bucky stuff" focuses on the practical applications of Fuller's ideas, which is not a mistake in any way.

However, my "stridency" (one might call it) in my Tweets (can anything called a "tweet" be "strident"?) stems from the a priori coherence of the unit volume tetrahedron idea.

Even with no practical applications (which it has), there'd be (is) a mathematics here, an approach to spatial geometry, worth passing on.

The different models of 2nd and 3rd powering, how to map 2x2 and 2x2x2 to respective areas and volumes, are where to start.  My Youtube below sets the stage.  I continue with the story under the heading of so-called Martian Math -- one of many ways to go.

At this point, I'd say some understanding of Synergetics (the name of Fuller's two-volume magnum opus) and its subsequent influence, as well as its influences (what fed into it), are required simply to understand recent intellectual history.  Is that kind of history important?  To many readers, it still is.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

More STEM Tweets

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

STEM for All Seasons

One might think Barbara Oakley, author of the linked article [1], would've hit on the strategy of reading in STEM subjects in Russian, unifying and consolidated her skills in that manner.  I used Russian pamphlets on the Calculus, in translation, when a calculus teacher at St. Dominic Academy.  I was a pretty good calculus teacher.

Her critique echoes Scott Gray's of Making Math, co-founder of Useractive which later morphed into O'Reilly School (of Technology).  One needs to learn by doing, meaning practice makes perfect, whereas just watching videos (Youtubes) leads to a more vicarious understanding.

"Conceptual understanding" may prove paper thin, too fragile, when stressed by the "real world".  At the school, we emphasized "hands on" intensely, to the exclusion of any video from the curriculum proper, though as mentors we were free to cite useful Youtubes for background viewing.

I'm glad to see the infamous Forum 206 at the Math Forum has come back to life.  That listserv is really a vehicle for the NCTM (a US-based entity) so I'm refraining from jumping back in -- unless and until I have some official role with said entity.

The UK has something similar, founded by Caleb Gattegno.

[1] How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math (Nautilus Quarterly / Culture Psychology, September 15, 2016)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Late Night Show

I thought Stephen Colbert took some risks last night, jumping up and down, getting the energy going, then letting that slinky soap opera star, Judith Light, yak about est (Amazon too) rather openly, with Stephen saying he wanted to join a cult.

They agreed CBS is a cult already, plus est now lets you go to the bathroom (they did then too but no need to get technical [1]).  Anyway it's not called est anymore.

They both talked about getting naked for the theater, not always the hardest thing.

The joke around here is "What's more believable:  60 Minutes about est, or Frontline on 911?" Har har.  TV is just right for "true believer" personalities, right?  Talk about cult-like.

Beekeeper Morgan Freeman, the first guest, is a producer director for the new Madam Secretary show, which draws inspiration from three recent figures of empire: Albright, Rice and Clinton.

However it's a science fictional show (not a documentary) and won't lead Americans astray into understanding too much about actual foreign policy.  For that you'd need Covert Affairs, or maybe Buffy.

[1] your agreement was to sit in the back row if you were one of those "bathroom at will" people, otherwise wait for the breaks like a normal person OK?  Don't go "excuse me excuse me" climbing over knees, while someone is sharing their heart out.

Sunnyside School Mural

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tesla Coil Show!

"Much of the 'general public' is involved in at least stratagems, to sell soap, real estate, used cars, health insurance... you name it. Some of the stuff you need, some you don't, and some you really don't (but they manage to sell it anyway). I wouldn't undersell the general public as all that unsophisticated. They feign contempt, but then they do it for a living."
That was me on QuakerQuaker.

Quarterworld has been on my radar, but I've been slow in going there.  Once I'd settled in for a long stay, I discovered entombed Facebook messages going back to 2010, under "Filtered".  I included some apologies.  One guy said he was really into Quadray Coordinates.  I sent him a link to my most recent mention of same, earlier that very day.

The marquee said something like Tesla Show, 4 - 9, meaning at 4, and then another show, at 9 PM.  However given my propensity for misreading stuff, I was picturing some five hour display of a Tesla's powers.  "What could that even mean?" I joked in an email.  I'd read the marquee wrong.  Each show lasts about 15 minutes, with lightning bolts synchronized to music.

I'm at the code school this Monday night, per usual, opting not to glue myself to what most USers are watching:  the Hilladon talking to itself, like Sesame Street, but a lot scarier.

Tesla Beer

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


 san diego zoo

People are funny about security sometimes.

They claim to want "end to end encryption" to protect their privacy in coffee shops.  The technology is indeed ingenious.

But then they shout into their cell phones at the tops of their lungs on the bus, or have intimate conversations we all overhear, unless using ear buds.

Sometimes the "stage whispers" are almost deafening.  But then sometimes an audience isn't used to hearing them.

People clamor for privacy, then publish selfies in the shower.  How are we able to have it all ways?

Do we get to have the cake, eat it, sell it, and do other unmentionable things with it, all at the same time?  Wow, right?

Look for the HTTPS icon in your browser's address spot, if security is a real concern.

A lot of web content is like rock formations in the desert.  Do you really need encryption to look at that gila monster?  Don't freak out if TLS is not engaged.  You're not always in ATM mode, right?

pellegrino + turkish coffee @ marino's on division