Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dropped at Drexel

The following content failed to make it to the web archives.  I'm unsure if Joe got my reply, but I think so, given I got his to me.  This exchange was with respect to something that was published, one of my many renderings of a so-called "paradox".

Joe Niederberger via mathforum.org
Sep 20 (5 days ago)
to math-teach

>We have an algorithm for omni-triangulating a sphere with more and more triangles. Even if we toss out the paradox at the end, here's some educational meat, some substance (to go over this topic).
Can you provide a link to a picture of this?
Joe N

kirby urner kirby.urner@gmail.com
Sep 21 (4 days ago)
to math-teach

Sure, these geodesic spheres on the left show the number of triangles increasing as a function of "frequency" (the number of intervals along each edge.
Here's some free software for the school children:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Earthlings (movie review)

I include this partly in contrast to Samsara (below).

Whereas Samsara is beautifully filmed and provides no commentary, Earthlings is about the slaughter of non-humans by humans in ways we would consider cruel and inhumane (including in so-called "kosher" facilities).  The narrator provides a point of view.

The film looks at animals as pets, sources of food and clothing, entertainment, scientific knowledge.

Earthlings feeds a sense of misanthropy (hatred of humans).

Mark Twain:  of all of God's creatures, Man is the most detestable.  Yes, that's obvious.  Many angels think so too.

Misanthropy is probably too simplistic a response though.

In a reincarnation system, we might suppose humans return as the animals they kill.  That would be called "poetic justice" by many.  However, the sum total is just a lot of meaningless suffering, however it goes down.

Hatred of existence itself is another meditation one might practice, perhaps as a stage along some path.  Life is an ongoing holocaust, 24/7/365.  Are you part of the problem (adding to the net total suffering) or part of the solution (decreasing to the net total suffering)?

If you suffer a lot yourself, that doesn't necessarily help matters, but perhaps you can't help it.  We're just little humans and Universe is really big.  Victimhood seems a natural condition and humans have often cast themselves in this way, against a greater cosmic backdrop.

LCDs in schools of philosophy might be more likely to screen such content than religious schools, although in some cultures that distinction is not made.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Samsara (movie review)

Samsara is the right title for this film and it is worthy of its ancestors, Baraka being the immediate parent.

In some ways a guided meditation, a mood inducer, but without direct preaching.  One might say "a God's eye view", but a God with a penchant for close-ups.

Some viewers will see the movie being more judgmental than others will.

The factories and places of worship were willing to share their interiors.

This is not a trivial hand-held tourist camera, one gets permission and talks to those whom one wishes to film.

The direct stares into the camera do not bespeak shame, regardless of surroundings or occupation.

We move from temples, to cities, to factories, to supermarkets, to a prison, to a casket store, to a funeral.  We look at the desert, a lush waterfall, glaciers.

We stare back at our own image, as viewers, at our life and our death.

I could see the very temples depicted showing this very film on their newly installed hi-def LCDs.

The film has several themes.

One them is the exquisite precision of nature, its repetitiveness.  Humans fit right in, and synchronize precisely, so much a part of the mechanism.

Are we but mechanical dolls in a vast machine?  The movie hints at this question but then metaphors fail as nature has no real counterpart.

The Buddha's gaze frames Samsara in some ways, his eyes etched with red to show not ferocity so much as compassion, though these are not unrelated.

I'd been hungering for views of Mecca, I later told Melody and Kelly who was visiting, fresh from working gate crew at Burning Man.  I'd watched a few Youtubes.  This movie really fed me, with clear moving images.

In general, I was grateful for all the updates.  I used to get around more, but now I mostly stay in Portland.  Seeing these views of Planet Earth, carefully crafted, state of the art, is a privilege.  Glenn's Easy Like Water was a joy in that way too.

Humans have been at this game for quite a long time and seem eminetely capable and adaptable.

I'm all for more movies in this genre.  I've always circled them as "required viewing" (in the sense of a syllabus, course material) for General Systems Theory savvy.

You get a better more realistic handle on our institutions when you get to meditate in this way, with mood and music.

Those dolls can sure dance, in all they do.  Talk about intricate choreography. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Zenith (movie review)

This is an atmosphere film reflective of the times.  The theme of the film is how an authoritative voice seems controlling, especially when it comes from some hidden source, such that the true powers of the speaker remain concealed.  The vision of a murky "they" is formed yet to speak of "them" is to invite the view that one is paranoid -- a plot by "them" to make them think I'm crazy.  And so on.  That's the ballpark anyway.

The protagonist is gradually assembling a puzzle, in which his father figures as a similar lonely crusader.  The assemblage takes the form of videotapes.

This film revels in the cliches that film itself has richly textured.  Abandoned urban vistas.  The list of names, some already dead.  Obsession with one's own story, filming oneself.  The transformation of the dad, from priest to haunted unabomber-like figure, a lone hero against the machine, is striking, and as the "Making Of" feature makes clear (DVD version) was filmed in reverse, i.e. the dad gets more clean cut as we go back in time.  Shades of Memento.

I think a Wittgenstein reader might get something from this film as it turns reciting the dictionary meanings of thought-provoking words into a subversive activity (shades of Fahrenheit 451).  The mainstream is barely shown, as we're confined to an underworld, but what we're given to understand is the majority is in a state of perpetual oblivion, a kind of state-crafted happiness, imposed by the success of medical science.

This was the semi-somnambulistic state we've been promised.  The fact that these words barely survive as recited definitions reminds us to think about meaning through use.  Use 'em or lose 'em.

Zenith is reminiscent of Zion in The Matrix in some ways, less a place than a direction, but in this case sinister rather than a last refuge.  To ask about Zenith is merely to mark oneself as another ranting 2012er, another prophet, medically treatable, in an age when speaking in tongues seems about the best anyone can muster.  The rest is pure banality.

Under the torpor and sex are the sordid secrets and sadnesses, the sins, the broken taboos, for which we no longer have the words, a sin in itself.  The saints are not dragon slayers.  They're paupers and mentally ill who still speak truth in their innocence.  The down and outers have a special ability to see Satan, always a peripheral figure, beyond idols and avatars.  As I was saying, the currency is cliches, but exquisitely wrought and therefore able to forge lightning bolts in the unconscious.

The director is eloquent in the "Making of":  his purpose is to contribute the kind of movie we can all read into, such that when we discuss it later, over pizza, we don't just have pat and shallow opinions.  He wants to wake us from our Matrix a little, in the spirit of film-making (and theater) as a vehicle for heightening self awareness, expanding consciousness.  Exploring the unconscious with steadicams:  a way to go.  Shades of Chernobyl.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Natural Disaster

I enjoyed yakking with David Koski the whole way from PDX concourse to Max, to 75, to my neighborhood.  We're used to talking about rhombic triacontahedra and stuff, probably to the amusement of some fellow Max travelers.  We talked about namespaces and how Coxeter.Q and Koski.Q needn't be the same object, as any Python programmer could tell you.

Alas, my levity balloon, say T modules (pointy wedges, 120 of them tiling a sphere-like shape of 30 faces), was just on the cusp of a high Entropy state, and E modules (E for Entropy, though in Synergetics for Einstein) were in the wings.  Hard drive crash!  The HP Pavilion's.  I thought it might be mainly software corruption but a BIOS test indicates it's a hardware issue, Failure, can't read, status 7 (whatever that means).  KTU3 is no more, for all intents and purposes.

Yes, I backed up a lot of pictures, but using Adobe Elements, and will I ever find that again to restore?  Evacuating the household, moving 90% of the stuff to the school (what school?), would help us prep this place for an overdue remodel / overhaul.  The neighborhood deserves to see its properties maintained.  So where'd I get the fat salary all of a sudden?  There's those "inquiring minds" again.  However I think these fantasies are mostly just an attempt to escape the loss.

What does occur to me though is some cults (we could call them) might specialize in a kind of transparency, in that students and faculty would be expected to scan in, otherwise upload, all kinds of personal data, such that on-line identities (real ones) became a basis for weaving stories, incorporating a gradually increasing radius, to make the scope of world history feel inclusive.

By comparing notes, life stories, researching backgrounds, genealogical records etc., we could piece together a customized view of the past / present, hinging greatly upon just exactly who showed up to attend.  One could call this "place based education" and some do, though I may be taking it further, making it more like another kind of "reality TV" in some cases.

All this dovetails with the "school server / school spirit" meme (every schools needs a rack space for filing recordings and contributions), which in turn is close to what seniors might like for themselves.  Engineers don't want to "retire", they want to putter on their own projects for a change, and preferably in an environment that encourages and rewards both innovation and collaboration.

Students will be encouraged to bring show and tell stuff and share their lives.  They may choose to donate much of that stuff as rummage after awhile, but unlike the "classic cult" the stress is not on leaving one's previous life behind, but on using it as a springboard for getting to know the world in a new way, in cahoots with peers.  It's like a detective story, where you keep yourself in the plot, are not the "know it all" observer with magical powers to narrate omnisciently (usually an inauthentic voice, used by historians a lot, and spoofed in Idiocracy).

Getting serious rack space with RAID and Hadoop-like failover etc. makes more sense when you're not just a solo individual trying to "do it all".  The idea of a "nursing home" needs to be replaced for engineers, with something more kibbutzy, and which includes rack space (not meant in the Spanish Inquisition sense, talking about shared storage).  People who always put off organizing their memories until old age will get to mix with younger folk doing the same thing (organizing their memories, putting in order the facts of experience).  A school's organizational memory need not be entirely public, but on the other hand a school is by definition that which draws on shared experience to produce original value-adding programming (i.e. curriculum, intelligence).

Saturday, September 01, 2012

More Assembling

I learned from Google Plus that Tom Higgins is playing with Raspberry Pis now as well.  What curriculum writing has been done around these gizmos?  All the ingredients for STEM would appear to be present.

Building a Component


Raspberry Pi in Case