Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I see refugees from Chef World (aka "the kitchen") trying their hand at coding, and thinking they're making a big leap. Yes, they are, in a way, but in other ways a short order cook is a study in workflows, and an algorithm is a semi-numerical recipe.

The key to cooperative concurrency is the wisely chosen yield keyword in Python, which is two way, and a way of handing back control to the caller, voluntarily we might say, before all business is completed.  Queue up a number of such yielding tasks, as promising to deliver in the future, and roll through them, round robin or when the timer dings (ready!) and you've got yourself an event loop.

In a seeming change of subject, I had the C6XTY "buckyball" made of six units, screwed together with eight disks, as a "booth magnet" conversation piece.

Even after understanding our proposal, for a smart router that keeps students on task, schools approved by model families, a Pythonista maybe wanted to linger, chat on other topics.  Hexapents for everyone (HP4E) meets CP4E (Guido himself sauntered by, but chose neither to engage nor inhibit, per Pycon's code).

The connection is this concept of "payload" or "something valuable inside".  When a Python generator returns, raising a StopIteration, a payload might go inside at that point.  Likewise a Future, or class of Task, this this "cooking" or "baking" internal state, which the event loop keeps checking, not blocking for more than a moment if the task is clearly undone.

Once an egg "hatches" and releases the payload, then other design patterns kick in.  Cooked meals get delivered to tables. A waiter / waitress is optimizing in many ways too.

The chef or chefs may be amazing in their seeming ability to multi-task, but lets not forget:  the whole restaurant is made from coroutines.

Nor is such an ecosystem incompatible with the pre-emptive multitasking going on at a deeper level.  The OS knows the CPU is a resource to share.

There's nothing wrong with running "blocking code" or "being a CPU hog" when you've been scheduled for useful work, and when the OS retains the channel changer (the "remote").

That's how CERN and Hubble both work, with a jobs queue.  It's up to the researchers to manage a workflow once their fun in the sun comes around.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Haim's Challenge

In chapters passed, I tried to dispute Haim's Challenge, which he re-introduced on math-teach again recently:
Thank you for the opportunity to re-introduce "Haim's Challenge",
"There are no important open questions in math pedagogy."

(The Challenge is to prove the premise wrong by pointing to even one long-term, ongoing examination of open questions in math pedagogy, by any group of people, anywhere. The context is K-12 mathematics.)
I'd bring up A&B modules, T&E modules, clearly referencing Synergetics for its pedagogical implications.  Of course the K-12 curriculum should be adjusted, here and there!
Of course I do not discuss math pedagogy, for the simple reason that there is nothing to discuss. Or, so I believe.

I believe:
(1) We know everything there is to know about school mathematics (i.e., K-12 math), and
(2) We know everything there is to know about how to teach it.

So, the only really important question is why don't the schools do what we know they should do to most effectively teach math to the most students?

The answer can only be found by exploring the politics of education, not the mechanics of long division or anything like that. We know the mechanics of long division. What is less clear is why the schools don't teach it well, if at all.
I realize now that actions speak louder than words, and Haim well explains many phenomena I observe in the ambient culture.

Whether I agree with Haim's challenge (more like a claim) or not is immaterial.  My sphere of influence is definitely limited.

People treat mathematics as a static aspect of their environment.

Hell would freeze over before "tetravolumes" would rise to the level of attracting the attention of grade school math teachers, let alone prove share-worthy, with coming generations.

I get it.  That's certainly not a decision I'm comfortable with, which accounts for my somewhat non-mainstream ethnicity.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

On Projection

In dime store psychology books for the dummy dumbfuckistanis, you'll learn that "projection" is something you shouldn't do, like picking your nose in public.

With a little training and vigilance, one grows out of this immature practice, and then just sees others doing it, so blind to their own failings.

More upscale psychology, closer to worth the money, will tell you "projection" is all you've got (in the more Plato's Cave sense) and so the game is one of "fine tuning" (presuming you're even grossly in the right ballpark).

If you make projection be your friend, and then spend the time, do the homework, to learn it as a skill, an intentional art, you might wind up with something more like a crystal ball in your own estimation.

Why we diss projection is it leads us astray. We believe our beliefs and that's rarely a good idea.  Were projection to be trusted, like corrected vision, then that'd be a new chapter.

I do like Maurice Nicoll, the intrepid Scotsman, on this topic.  He warns us to not identify with every thought or feeling posing as "one's own".

Many never even get to that first rung of the ladder: of realizing they have a choice, in terms of what inner voices to identify with.

How fast they climb from there, is anyone's guess.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Public Policy: Finding Farm Workers

Although Glenn grew up in a union family, amidst other union families, he came to see the downside of unions as well.  I learned more of his story this afternoon.

His decision to quit the electricians union in Phoenix is what ultimately led to his joining the Navy and enrolling in the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.

The theme of our discussion: the looming agricultural crisis as states scramble to find farm workers.

The clamp down on itinerant field workers is endangering vast resources, from vineyards to asparagus patches.  Picture acres and acres of rotting onions, potatoes, you name it.

Might states start up their own Guest Worker programs independently of the Feds?  What unions might get involved, if any?

Could we use smartphone apps to help workers find opportunities?  The same apps might help farm managers find help.

Given we live near Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, the newer name for SE 39th, it makes some sense we'd be wondering about United Farm Workers and so on.  What's the history at least?

Glenn dove into Wikipedia as a start.

The Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy provided the impetus, and meeting place, for Wanderers in the first place.

That some of us would be focused on the impending farm worker shortage certainly stands to reason.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Screen Time


We spend a lot of time with our screens don't we?  Internet or TV, consuming and/or creating.  Our level of media output has been rising exponentially I'd hazard, along with our ability to store it all.

Will the collective nervous system get too nervous?  We balance on a tightrope, afraid of falling, with so many clamoring for the more violent alternatives.  They want to see it in their lifetimes, whatever it is.

During our meetup tonight, over the wire, like a closed circuit TV show with chat window, I explained more about my own workflows, rendering out graphics that start out with Python code. A lot of my friends will use C and/or C++.

I wasn't a software engineer so much as a philosopher by training, and as a consequence I was on the lookout for patterns we could affordably capture with technology of that day, including data from heart procedures, feeding the medical research.  Statistics matter.

Shifting gears, I've been archiving "Gnome" Chomsky Youtubes to my Facebook profile.  Not a lot of them all at once, just a few. [1][2][3]
Not news: Gnome doesn't think 43 was in the loop on Nine Eleven. Not something I've ever claimed either and in fact I don't think continuing to read the Goat Book was a bad reaction. Stay calm, don't rush around like an idiot, which is what they seem good at in DC, lots of pin-balling betwixt one office and another in some panic. Caveat: this was awhile ago; I have no idea what Gnome's saying today exactly.
I was working through Pan's Labyrinth, on DVD, while taking a break from teacher prep.  That's a dark tale that got me catching up on the Spanish Civil War again.  One thing led to another and it was the Chechen Wars that got my attention.  We didn't start the fire, but nor have we succeeded in putting it out.

A theme in these blogs is the Bucky stuff could make a difference, but probably in back office philosophy and management at this point, the more outward forms coming from more recent generations, sometimes motivated by the American enlightenment, if we want to call it that.

Imperialism long ago alienated Samuel Clemens and William James.  These repeated wars against Asians were avoidable it seems, but for that sense of manifest destiny that drives many ethnicities.  Everyone seems to consider themselves chosen.

On a micro speck of a planet, ethnic differences seem somewhat trivial, to say the least. But upon zooming in, that tale told by an idiot gets taller and taller, becoming a giant soap opera at the other extreme. People need to be heroes. The vanity of the Captain in Pan's Labyrinth only makes him seem more of a monster.

The animations in that movie are pretty good, the faun, the fairies. I've not been able to directly produce anything of that quality. I was reminded of eXistenZ.

Synergetics could be an influence in some future animations.  I laid some groundwork with the "hypertoons" concept.  Check my Synergetics 101 playlist in my Youtube channel maybe?  They link to each other, gradually building up a memeplex worth sharing.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Portland's Earth Day celebrations combined with a national March for Science. "You know it's severe when even nerds appear" was one of the signs. These were not your usual assortment of activists. Some came in lab coats.  "Dieticians against Twinkies" read another sign.

The organizers had rented a fairly high powered sound stage and were able to project speeches to the gathering thousands, after which followed a march, permitted, peaceful. One black-block-looking guy seemed out of place, furtively glancing about from behind his mask for at least one other anarchists in his tribe.  Police kept a low profile, with no riot cops in gear that we could see.

Glenn and I took the bus downtown and joined in the march but also stood on the sidelines, the better to take pictures and enjoy the exotic assortment of science advocates.

We adjourned to the Yard House where we were soon joined by Dr. DiNucci, an expert in parallelism and operations research.  He'd been marching with the Humanists' banner.

I saw several people I know in the crowd today, including a few Quakers.

The perception among many is that politicians, a lower ranking form of social engineer, may have lost their grasp on reality, in an effort to govern through make-believe.  Their policies seem increasingly irrational to the point of crazy.

Washington DC, a distant city, run more by lawyers than engineers, seems to have dwindling relevance around the Pacific Rim.  All those bellicose threats against our way of life add up to a big turn off.

Those avidly seeking greater political power inadvertently advertise their sense of not having much.  The End of Power comes to mind, a book in the Blue House collection.

Rising Literacy

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

Some weeks ago, Multnomah Friends considered moving the traditional third Sunday business meeting off of Easter in favor of doing business another day.  Why?  The consensus was to barrel on ahead.  Business on Easter might be especially propitious even?

As the cookie crumbled, I got an opportunity to chauffeur an MVP out to PDX.  He's off to a world meetup, not in Zurich this time.

Then I met my Shanghai friend at the Bagdad.  He's much more serious about containing NK than I am, a diffuser and disperser of nation-states (in my own thinking).

Chinese, Japanese and SKers are closer to the situation than I am.  A lot of political capital gets spent on making Americans care enough to watch the old M.A.S.H. episodes.

Cleveland High School was more a business school in the early days, grooming people to have basic office skills, both interpersonal and technical.  Typing at some number of words per minute, error free, was a technical skill.

Then typing became word processing which became desktop publishing. With the invention of the Web came HTML + CSS + JS.  That's the business school triad of today, throwing in SVG, SQL and Regular Expressions (regexes) for a skill set even more rounded.

I'm working along that "pipeline" (K-12) much of my week, grappling with older students (adults) some evenings.  Pedagogue by day, andragogue by night.

HTML = hypertext markup language, the paradigm markup language and direct relative of XML. These tags define a document's "object model" meaning the DOM, or Document Object Model.

CSS = Cascading Style Sheets, more and more capable, used for styling and describing the look of things, to the point of providing transitions and animations.

SVG = Scalar Vector Graphics.  Similar to Postscript in providing "zoom-able" characteristics.

SQL = Structured Query Language, used to store, update and filter-select records from sets of interlocking tables called Relational Database Systems.

JS = Javascript, an emerging computer language, not at all the same language as Java, and customized to work with the DOM and Shadow DOM.  Lookup React and Angular for examples of frameworks in this language.  Also Babel, which allows future features today.

I think of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock.  The typewriter seemed like a big advance in its time.  I remember shopping with mom for an Olivetti in Rome, one of the newer electric kind.  Those machines already felt futuristic to the folks living that dream, however they gave one less control over presentation, with the disadvantage of storing as hardcopy, in devices still known as "file cabinets".

The future is here in terms of instant real time communications with friends and family, in addition to asynchronous.  Fun.

Why NK would wanna to join the loser states I'm not sure.  Having nuke weapons is a sign of mental illness and moral decadence in today's world.  Why NK'd wanna join the club of nukehead nations is anyone's guess. Time warp?  Throwback?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Worldly Affairs

Derek (aka "Deke the Geek") received a welcome donation of fresh Chinese food, thanks to restaurateur neighbors, and called me at the right time to share some.  I was in a funk, having Youtube issues, however by the time we'd finished, those issues had resolved.

Today I start two new gigs, a third this Wednesday, plus there's the MOOC, also starting, so I have a full plate to say the least.  However, unless I pace myself, I'm sure to burn out, so let's see how smoothly I'm able to time-share.  Yes, multi-tasking may be an illusion, but task-switching is not, and may be more or less "interrupt driven".

The MOOC is on IoT ("Internet of Things") and promises to get me into Arduino country, so I hope I'm up to it. My skills are only so-so in so many areas.  I wouldn't take myself skiing for example. Let's hope I'm not a total clod on the bicycle again, like that time with Suzanne (I wiped out twice).

So far so good, with the Cannondale from Sam (the two previous bikes were stolen, Tinkerbell from my own backyard, and the one Lindsey worked on from Jay when on Food Not Bombs duty. I'm not keeping up any gym memberships.

SourceTree by Atlassian, the makers of JIRA, may be my solution when it comes to Git. My coding career reached its peak, in the medical research area, before Github was even a gleam in some Youtuber's reflecting glasses. I'm wanting to branch my Python5 repo but am unclear on the sequence.

Patrick is in the batters' box as opening hitter on my evening gig, in case traffic delays me today. I'm dreading the drive from Beaverton back to Blue House, given bridge repairs. In theory I have plenty of time, but that's only theory.

The opportunity to learn new skills is welcome and I'm grateful, and our theme in Meeting on Sunday, yesterday, amidst many concerns. My work is to orchestrate my learning experience in such a way as to not overtax my limited capabilities.  Stress is a positive in a gymnasium sense, because it's well-managed. Stress in the wild, i.e. life during wartime, takes its toll on us all.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Bad Theater


Unabomber City, built by Beltway Bandits, is at it again with the unilateral reprisals, for a crime no one had time to investigate (by design), shades of 2013.

No one believes the ranting and raving anymore. Clearly this plan was up some sleeve, funded by petrodollars. Some triggering event would be needed.

The charade at the UN was the thinnest yet.  The UK and US role players read from their same script, per usual.  The diplomatic gestures were pro forma. The attack was already getting a green light from somewhere.

I don't think anyone serious will be talking about North Korea, really a non-issue in comparison.

No one wants to hear how the Unabomber "feels threatened" as it suffers yet another psychotic breakdown.

Trump's base appears to be fracking over his sudden course reversal, which he wants us to see as evidence of "flexibility".  Is that it, or did some straw just break the back of some camel?

Unabomber City is feeling desperate and weak, its grip on power slipping away.  Will this rerun of the attack on Iraq help rally the people?  I doubt it.  But then many livelihoods depend on keeping these wars going.

Addressing domestic issues just looks too scary I guess, especially to the chicken hawks.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Projects and Complications

The Portland Peace Program is ramping up around developments in Syria. Youtube is predictably skeptical that 2017 is super different from 2013. They showed Trump the DC version and he's rightly pissed. Hollywood is maybe not finished with its version. I know DC has dismissed Russia's take, of an exploded Jihadist munitions factory, but then here in Portland we routinely dismiss DC.  So it's complicated.

When at Princeton, I had Firestone library and world newspapers coming in every day, but hardly in real time. My access to information has improved considerably since the 1970s, as I hoped it would. As the idea of hypertext gained traction, thanks to Ted Nelson and his Computer Lib / Dream Machines (hearkening back to the MEMEX, which Ted knew about), and as CERN put real muscle behind the dream, the shape of things to come became clear.

In GM's heyday, they were introducing the Freeways of Tomorrow at World Expos. The age of the motor car, internal combustion, of abundant oil, was upon us.  In my generation, the "information superhighway" was the dream, freeways (the "I-system") now taken for granted.  Actually, with more roads than we can really afford to repave, "taken for granted" is by now an overstatement; those days are gone too.

On Facebook, I'm looking at China's plans for the Silk Road, an ancient set of overland routes connecting the Far East to points west, on into Europe.  Istanbul has been a gateway city in that regard.  I'm glad to see the Trucker Exchange Program taking shape.  The Chinese Peace Corps (akin to Capitalism's Invisible Army in serving to tell a story) is getting the job done.