Friday, September 26, 2014

Vectors...


I spent some of this morning reopening NARMIC files one might say, not that I actually made it to Swarthmore or anything. This is Opt Out season in Portland and plus AFSC is always studying militarism in one form or another.

"Ain't gonna study war no more" is maybe a fond hope on the part of that folk singer, but I don't see a way to follow suit at the moment, as steeped in war as the planetary humans still be (it's more about upgrading the quality i.e. making it more virtual, that AVP is about: Alternatives to Violence, lots of blog posts already...).

So in that mode, it's unsurprising I found myself watching this Google Talk by Andrew Bacevich regarding hyper-militarism in the USA.  Shades of Walter Kaufmann I'd say, in issuing these warnings, and of course Chalmers Johnson would be in this choir.  Hey, I'm obviously appreciative.

Then an unplanned nap hit me and the day went by.  That kind of time shifting happens when you're a world traveler and need to accommodate time zones, which sometimes one accommodates by ignoring, as in some cities the infrastructure is permanently active and in fairly high gear.  So just keep going in whatever time zone you're in and ignore the relative positions of planet and star.

Portland is getting to be a lot more that way.

But then of course the Internet is always that way too, as it's always "rush hour" in some subnet or other.  Topology replaces geography at some level.

OK, back to the lambda calculus (i.e. day job).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PPUG 2014.9.24 / Ongoing Threads

We're learning about how to use Django + Postgres to handle unstructured / schemaless data.  Clearly Postgres is an SQL engine, so this talk was about a kind of hybrid.  The searchable JSON field type is key, with binary JSON coming in version 9.4.  JSON is the de facto standard for web APIs.

I was in a somewhat grumpy mood on the bus, as I knew we'd be having pizza, courtesy of Energy Builders, or job-seeking sponsor of the evening, along with Urban Airship.  The Division bus 4 was running a bit behind schedule, not unusual during rush hour.  Contributing to my grumpiness was my ongoing thread with GS Chandy on math-teach.  The discussion is moderated and sometimes I'll spend a lot of time on a post only to see it vanish into oblivion, or at least not make it to the official archives.

With django-pgjson added, you can query JSON fields, impose orders and filters and so forth.  Basically you're doing the kind of thing SQL does but within JSON fields inside Postgres.  Don't imagine Postgres is necessarily slower than Mongo.  This seems like a cutting edge talk.

From my posting to GSC:
National governments generally use schools to instill nationalism, a form of patriotism.  This may mean familiarizing students with the roles and institutions available to them in civic government, or perhaps it means exerting peer pressure to enlist in a military service, provided that's a voluntary choice to begin with.  

In this model, schools are seen as extensions of recruiting offices by the military services.  That's another reason a Quaker family might homeschool in a given zip code:  the programming at the local public school comes across as too militaristic (e.g. mandatory ROTC for boys).

Lets start with a list of roles and then start looking at workflows.  

Roles + Workflows is how to analyze a Quaker meeting as well (where "Role" might be "on a committee" i.e. other objects need to be defined to give roles their sense -- but lets keep thinking in terms of theater and scripts).

"Role playing games" tend to be popular among young people yet how much time do we spend on the mathematics of "game theory" (closely related or perhaps a part of GST, as you know).
Also:
As you may know, in our geographic region, school has been used as a tool of cultural genocide in that native populations were forced to surrender their young to boarding schools / indoctrination centers the purpose of which was to expunge the region of local cultures and replace them with a uniform Anglo-Euro veneer. These boarding schools no longer exist as such, but their after-effects are still part of everyday experience in our region.

One purpose of these indoctrination camps or prisons was to make the "nuclear family" the only acceptable norm and to recast family relationships according to the "white man" model. The imposition of alien marriage customs was part and parcel of this genocidal program, as memorialized at the cultural museum on the Warm Springs reservation.

 A nation such as India will go into a region such as Ladakh and apply western concepts of "living standards" e.g. cash income per annum, to determine the indigenous lifestyle "poor" as in "under-developed". We're talking about a lifestyle that has evolved over millennia that includes a lot of hard manual labor, but then many adults with privileges and freedoms actively choose manual labor as a voluntary activity, so that in itself is not a sign of "poverty".

What are the criteria of "poverty" anyway? I'd say malnourishment is a sign of poverty and by that criterion the US population, in suffering from increasing obesity rates, is becoming increasingly impoverished over time. It's not really about money as in some economies that commodity is not so much needed. And yet the "dollars per annum per household" measure is still often quite mindlessly applied, as if money were the measure of all things.

 Some in my circle have been to Ladakh and we have actively discussed and been to events about whether "schooling" and "westernization" in general is helping improve living standards there, or whether it is actually having an overall negative impact in disrupting a 1000s-of-years old lifestyle by penning children into the "Free and Compulsory" new schools that India sees fit to provide.

Here's a blog post with Youtube on the topic.
I managed to get plenty of pizza and am glad to have salvaged at least some of my prose. We talked some about the ShellShock exploit / vulnerability.  This was during our "ask the audience" session wherein people poll the audience.  Who's using Python 3.x?  Who's using Flask?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bombs Away

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WDC is doing what it does best again:  bombing.  There's always a cloak of "coalition members" (e.g. CNN) to keep our socio-paths in DC from seeming too Unabomberish, but I think that's a transparent rain coat at this point (apologies to Mark Allyn).  We know the Pentagon to be a bastion of mental illness and there's not much anyone can do about it, other than "sit back and eat pizza" (as I used to put it, back when bombing Belgrade was the cruise missile fiesta du jour, under Clinton).

However we should also move further west in our analysis, closer to The Heartland as it's called e.g. Ohio and Michigan, where you have many immigrants from the Middle East with strong views and extended families.  Atrocities by self-proclaimed ISIS members (or branded as such by media) trigger demonstrations in Detroit, which in turn make "bombs away" an acceptable policy, a cathartic revenge killing, characteristic of Christians who haven't turned the other cheek since the crucifixion.  Why should they?  No one else does, except maybe Buddhists sometimes.

The phenomenon of immigrants with an ax to grind is a standard pattern.  Organized crime was about to capitalize in Havana when Castro spearheaded a revolution, and Florida has ever since supported ostracizing Cuba, a policy the rest of the world pretty much ignores.  Many Syrians in the US have their own axes to grind e.g. with the Assad regime.  Their lobbyists become a source of white papers, just as refugees from Saddam's government were milked for justifications for invading Iraq.  The war profiteers are eager to test the F-whatevers of course (F-22s in this case).

Around AFSC there's this fixed view that the military is for those too mentally incapacitated to survive in a civilian ecosystem.  The gangland-mercenary lifestyle becomes an end in itself and killing sprees get you merit badges on your resume and/or colorful threads on your uniform / costume.  There's an esprit de corps, a camaraderie, that develops around bombing, both suicidally and otherwise.  Terrorism begets fraternalism, with token women as brothers.  ISIS and the Pentagon have much in common in that way:  both provide career opportunities for fratricidal morons.

Of course not everyone in the military is a rank idiot.  Starting wars is easy whereas getting them to wind down takes expertise and diplomacy.  The idiots all say war becomes necessary when diplomacy fails, but then outward war is by definition a failure, so it's eventually back to diplomacy again, this time perhaps more in earnest by people ready to try living as a civilians again, perhaps desperate to do so having tasted the no-win dead end that is war.  So we'll recruit a military person from time to time, as a war-stopper.  Quakers attract a cohort of ex-military in every generation who believe as Smedley Butler did:  that war is a racket.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quick Insert


Before racing down to People's Climate March, I was thinking to review El Topo (Jodorowsky directing, and acting), however I'm under some time pressure.  September 21 is one of those circle your calendar type days.

I'm also cramming on Category Theory for notation buffs, though I might stay on the humanities side and say "analogy" or "metaphor" in place of "functor" given similarities in meaning.

Talked to Chandler at meeting, wanna figure out which "island in the Willamette" he was yakking about.

Mt. Tabor is looking good.

For further viewing:
Type Theory Foundations
Category Theory by Tom LaGatta

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Anthology Books

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:: Third Eye from porch of Anthology Books ::

Glenn and I enjoyed Stan'wiches today.  From our point of view it's El Dobre, the Polish place, but that name might have confused the public.  Either way, the food has been excellent and we loved the meatloaf pizza this afternoon.

We were watching them repaint Headlandia, which I gather Nomad Crossing owns, along with Vapelandia down the street.  Third Eye is adjacent and is somewhat the grandaddy on the block.  Linus Pauling House:  directly across.

I imagined the Pauling House fascia boards in a Bhutanese style.  The Newar temple, where Lindsey trained, is around the corner.

The economy is shifting gears here given hemp is making a comeback, industrially, for fabric, as well as the medicinal brands.

Adjacent to Linus Pauling House:  Anthology Books.  Quite a collection.  I bought a first person narrative about adventures in the Himalayas, for $6.

Glenn and I went in and talked with Gary.  We're all looking forward to the Equinox coming up, which we'll celebrate on Friday the 19th, a little early.

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

DjangoCon Talk


I'm in a talk being presented by a team from National Geographic.  Justin Quick, Ben Fonarov and Farhan Syed are the speakers.

Django is a part of their website ecosystem.  Their talk is based on their Django module activitysteams on Github, the open source repository.

An Activity Stream is like a series of comments, likes, or game actions on a target.

A semantics like "You favorited a photo" pertains, with an "actor / verb / target" grammar.

What's exciting to me is the Neo4j graph database being used by the Horizon service.

Horizon is their Node.js web socket service that takes snippets (like "likes") and stores them using Neo4j.

I've been thinking of a Quaker meeting management API based on activity streams, not realizing what wheels might not need reinventing.

"Make [actor] [position] vis-a-vis [committee] for [term]" would be the kind of semantics we need.  Example:  "Make Joe Shmoe clerk of Oversight for three years starting June, 2015."

Also:  "Show [actor] and [actor] are married under the care of [meeting] as of [date]." As I've pointed out on math-teach, said marriage might or might not be recognized by the state in which the meeting is situated (Quakers define marriage their own way, independently of their surroundings sometimes).

The team made the good point that browsers prefer interactivity to read-only web pages.  Given how I generally have comments turned off in these blogs, I'm going against the grain on that score.  These are on-line journals more than conventional blogs.

However, it's fairly easy to post a link to a blog post and frame it for comments elsewhere, such as on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quaker Village in a Box

Just add water... (smiley).

I'm mixing DemocracyLab memes with The Village (movie review) and coming up with this high tech "reality show" (reality, but shared in media) that comes with a software ecosystem and operating manuals, plus lots of DIY instructions for setting things up.

The community may not be autonomous or self sustaining in the larger sense, as we're all "solar surfers", but might still be somewhat remote and a place to restart in some ways, for some folks.

Yes, there's a bit of WestWorld in this vision (with Yul Brynner).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (movie review)

The plot here leverages the experience of every player of first person shooters:  you get so far into it, and then you die.  Reset, and again.  You play until you make it through, or give up (similar to our pedagogy at OST, in lieu of "grades").

Given there's no alternative "outside world" beyond the game (The Matrix is complete, a reality prison), Tom (named "Cage" with good reason) has his Ground Hog Day cut out for him.

Seeing Cruise and Murray and their co-stars (Emily Blunt as Rita, and Andie MacDowall also as Rita) as a double feature would be fun, as one gets two different worlds reflective of the kinds of acting each guy does.

Murry is quirky and whimsical whereas Cruise is darkly War of the Worlds and action oriented, highly kinetic.

Yet the similarities stand out too:  how to authenticate as a time traveler.  Blunt's Rita has "been there" and so has an added advantage vis-a-vis her looper partner.

Having Cruise go from shy and retreating to full on aggressive, with that same sense of partnership displayed by Peter Quill towards Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy), was a fun twist.

A needed ingredient is that sense of destiny aka fate that goes with heroism, a strong sense of making a big difference.  Once Cage develops confidence and survivability, along with his sense of destiny, he develops his heroic qualities within the loop, an eternal return.

The "mimics" which Cage and Rita get to fight have plenty of demonic power.  As a first person shooter, this game is definitely challenging.  Live, Die, Repeat is the other name they came up with for it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier (movie review)

One might imagine I felt drawn to Vivian as I share her obsession with "street photography" as they call it, though I more call it "National Geographic photography" when thinking about it to myself.

The controversy about her accent seems easily resolved:  you could call it "affected" as she went to France only later to discover her ancestral roots.  Adopting those roots and owning them was wise on many levels, including in the practical sense that upper middle class people still sucker to this day for that "European nanny" jazz (though these days the Philippines is the new Europe).  It pays to have a French accent when you're in the nanny business, and she had to learn hers late in life.

She had that kind of spy-like fly-on-the-wall existence that life behind a camera somewhat foments.  You get that distance, that "observer" mentality (to quote the est Training).  One is recording for posterity, spying as if for ETs, but really for the future, and it was just hugely fortuitous that John Maloof would acquire her property at auction to start, and do the requisite archeology.  He reminds people how fun it is to discover others, and that's just as viable a creative outlet as making a big show of oneself.  Reminds me of Trevor.

Indeed, he's being somewhat Vivianesque in playing the self effacing documentary maker.  People treat him with the respect of someone who's done some homework.  Vivian too, did a lot of homework, and came across as respect-worthy.  Her employers would have sensed that in wanting her to have parenting responsibilities vis-a-vis their own children.

Yes, developing film was messy, chemical, and a pain.  If you're a deeply private individual, as Vivian was, then piling up your negatives in good condition and putting them all in a time capsule, with some strategic letters, is not a bad strategy.   High risk, but at least doable.

Remember Bucky Fuller and his "chronofile":  to self document in that way added a dimension to his experiment "Guinea Pig B".

Vivian achieved her own kind of nirvana in morphing herself into one of the greatest street photographers in the age before we could just upload into the cloud.  Now I think she so resonates with people like me, the common garden variety camera buff, because we share the same fascination with street photography, and the technology to make it relatively painless.

Of course it helps that the pictures she took were really excellent.

As Linus Pauling said (paraphrase):  the secret to taking some really good pictures is to take a lot of them (as he said of "ideas").

This is a well-made documentary about an intriguing subject:  Mary Poppins meets Bridges of Madison County (OK, that's a stretch -- she doesn't meet anyone, but she does remind of Clint Eastwood).

Someone told me ahead of time she was "plain" and/or "homely" and if maybe that was why she had such a lonely life, the poor dear.  On the contrary, Vivian was photogenic and displayed a level of toughness that goes with the territory, if "street photography" is your game.

As for her supposed mental illness (yes, lots of paranoia, imagine today with Cyberia) and draconian child rearing techniques, lets remember this was spoiled upper middle class America and she was hired as a French nanny.

The role of the nanny was to be "bad cop" sometimes, giving parents a more "good cop" role, sparing them the need to use the rod (nanny was rod queen).

So sure, the little darlings had some PTSD under Mary Poppins, but who wouldn't under such a Scary Mary?  I'm sure Vivian could be intimidating when she needed to be but she didn't water board, lets be clear.  Hers was the wing of the OSS (or whatever spy service) that didn't torture, but maybe did stay out in the cold quite a bit.