Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chronicling (Captain's Log...)

Yep, that was the drive today, Google already knows.  How?

My Android, coupled with my Gmail account, is allowed to tell Google its cell tower.  The tracing is therefore hand-off to hand-off, more like bee lines than a GPS trail would leave.

Do you have an Android and use the GPS services with authorization to talk to Google Maps?

Check /locationhistory to see if there's data.  Thx to LV.

:: spying on self ::

Cousin Mary's is a place where I often learn things from books I'd maybe not have encountered otherwise.  A treasure trove.

Here were two that I browsed on this latest visit:

:: table top reading ::

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Connecting Dots

A couple news stories that need connecting:

  1. In India, inequities in how people in India get treated as members of diplomatic corps overseas, versus privileges granted foreign visiting ambassadorial staffs, have come under scrutiny.  The issue of "diplomatic immunity" more generally is being raised, to which is connected the culpability of military and/or mercenary units, their liability for damages.  To what extent will the nation-state shielding of yesteryear protect them from scrutiny today?
  2. The other story focused on Qatar and was about indentured servant employes who came as migrant workers at the mercy of some construction company (we're looking ahead to some Olympics).  One question is at what points in the agreement if any, during orientation, may a servant raise an exception and bail?  Another question would be to what extent new families are allowed to form under the watch of these companies.  Pretty soon we're talking Pharaoh and the prison / slave class Hebrews.
I suppose what connects these stories is the common backdrop of human rights, and should the rights of humans pass a lot of symmetry tests we might call "fairness criteria"?  To what level do we tolerate curtailment of freedom and allow instead "compensation" in the form of clams, silver dollars, or other desirabilia.

Schools come under scrutiny, as well as sometimes work to call others to account.  Their faculties may or may not assess the worth of other schools -- many do, just as companies do -- and publish their findings.  We're in an era when a great amount of shared information is having an equalizing effect, in the sense of erasing caste differences.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pi Lab


The owner of The Open Bastion is outside the US jurisdiction at this time, in the UK, but his trusted co-workers had plenty to do, thanks to the generosity of both Holdenweb and the Wolfram Corporation, in particular the latter's decision to port the wolfram-engine and mathematica to the Raspberry Pi, a cigarette case sized computer that costs even less than the XO (One Laptop per Child) but, to be fair, comes minus peripherals, meaning keyboard, mouse and monitor.  It's ready for all them though.

Steve was lavish in terms of banking on these gizmos and outfitted four workstations complete with LCDs for the HDMI output, said mouse and keyboard, plenty of SD cards, network cables to the router.  Trevor, the Pi Chief, let us in with his key.  He'd been busy assembling quite a number of images (operating system + filesystem) using NOOB.  This boot loader gets in front of the boot process and offers a choice of images.  Tara and I started trying them out while Trevor showcased a latest favorite, which looked a lot like a hotel guest room TV, offering a menu of options.  More TV than computer -- a change in flavor.

For our purposes though, on the wolfram-engine project, the wheezy image proved sufficient, and after I finally remembered to plug in the network cable, sudo apt-get install... worked like a charm for both products (mathematica included).

I've heard rumors about the GPU being locked up on the Pi board i.e. maybe it's not being fully utilized, but I don't have that story.  Mathematica runs, but if you burden it with lots of graphics, you'll find it runs slowly.  But remember:  what it's doing are things no scientific calculator is offering at this price point.  Unless you count all the peripherals, but those tend to be needed anyway.  People need a big screen, even students.  I'm just wondering what advantages the UK will reap if it really goes in this direction.  I doubt the US will attempt it, except in pockets as always.  Each zip code is its own microcosm, like a fractal.  Those that march to the same drummer tend to lose out.

Patrick joined the fun mid-process.  He's been practicing with Amazon instances in the cloud, a different department one might say, plus he's working the same queue as I am re Python / OST.  Having a Pi Lab so close to my office is a big help in my work, as I'm able to appreciate more of the STEM education conversation, and not only in the US and UK, but in other parts of the world looking into the same crystal ball and trying to discern their cyber-futures.

We had a great solstice potluck at Wanderers this evening @ Linus Pauling House.  Lots of exotic characters (I'm happy to be counted among them), with Tara joining too, but feeling a need to supervise the pet situation, with a poodle joining the Blue House cast.  The basement crew is in "away team" mode.



For further reading on MathFuture:  Traditional HS math vs CS

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twelve Years of Slavery (movie review)

I arrived at the movie theater directly from a comfortable winter Norman Rockwell family scene, with tree decorating and a crackling fire.  Definitely "the North".

Other critics aren't saying this so let me be original:  the two guys who entice our hero to Washington, DC are a lot like the two tempters in Pinocchio.  And Pinocchio is in turn related to the Biblical story of Jonah in some ways.  Certainly this guy loses everything, enters a living nightmare in the belly of "the South".

The film fit well into my own studies, of pro-slavery Christianity and divisions among Quakers, stereotypically working the Underground Railroad, but in actuality on the fence as established Meetings and not wanting to be seen as contravening (subverting the authority of) said Washington, DC, the nation's "capital" (cite Hunger Games).

The former overseer, down on his luck and paying off his debt by selling himself into servitude, is an interesting character, not just because he betrays our hero.  He's the guy Quakers are afraid will scare away black people.  Friends of my persuasion have an Oversight Committee and there's a stir amongst us to abolish said committee in favor of some more pastoral-sounding, less hard-edged committee.  That way none of us have to wear the label of overseer, which, after a movie like this, would seem at best an embarrassment and at worst an admission of a serious crime against humanity.

I'm against our brand of Quakers losing its edginess and instead recommend continuing to hack away at those ropes that bind us to the so-called "mother ship" of Christianity.  If it's a game of distancing from a specific terminology, then let's speak of Christians without so much of that "we" flavor.  Those Christians sure knew how to throw a dance party, we could say of the slaver couple, a not so happily married twosome.

At the New Thought Interfaith Panel, my mom, representing Quakers, got her own slot, along with Baha'i, Hindu, Scientologist and Essene (Islam, Jewish, Atheist etc.).  That seemed a positive step.

We may still embrace the Bible and of course Jesus himself, our friend and rabbi forever, without pledging allegiance to that twisted snake basket of belief systems unified by Emperor Constantine to consolidate control over his empire. Quakers already do not recite the Nicene Creed, a sure sign of heresy.  Why not officially leave the fold, at least among certain Meetings.

Christianity is deeply flawed and perhaps unsalvageable, as we see in this movie.  Or maybe it will heal from its horrible past.  Either way, Quakers need not tie their karma (fate) so tightly to this albatross.  We have a direct relationship with our principals and need not identify with these mostly priestly outward forms of the church-going, even if we affiliate and coalition with. 

I'd rather distance Quakerism from Christianity as a whole than hack away at our own internals and gut ourselves of Oversight.  We need not be ashamed of having overseers or admit cosmic guilt for attempting to practice responsible self super-vision.  It's all about how we spin it (overseeing).

Back to the film, I enjoyed Brad Pitt's part.  He's the modern voice in the film, speaking the mind of the audience which has been witnessing all this in horror.  "You must not be from around these parts" says our hero (in paraphrase).  "You're right, I'm from Canada" says Brad.  I almost laughed out loud, because Canada is even still sounding and acting smarter than Washington, DC ever could or did.  What a zoo, that city of pseudo-roman and modern architectures.

The bad guy slaver and the director have worked together before I've learned.

I respect the bad people in this movie for really doing a good job of acting.  They condemn one another in Biblical terms in ways that sound authentic, which is why I would never give up on the Bible as a source of soap operas, meta-stories, polemics and invective.

The Bible, a great storybook, is not the enemy.  Christianity, on the other hand, may deserve to be treated that way from time to time (with tough love). 

Look at Christians today and their two-faced support of nuclear weapons only for themselves and their friends.  Sound familiar?  How many Christians actually support abolishing nuclear weapons?  We should run more polls.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Out of the Furnace (movie review)

This was a case where I was at a cineplex in a time slot, quickly scanning summaries to find something starting within 15-30 minutes.  That narrowed my options considerably.  I went with Out of the Furnace because of the big names, like Christian Bale and Willem DaFoe (I consider myself a fan of both).

Christian plays the antithesis of the American Psycho guy.  He cares little for appearance (except he's handsome) and is not proud or loud.  He's pretty much your Bruce Springsteen all American, somewhere close to New Jersey.  But by now that's so retro / ethnic is to make it like National Geographic and Bridges of Madison County.

It's not that kind of love story (Bridges...) though, it's grim and violent.  There's the more twisted younger brother, the one who ends up in Iraq, tour after tour and gets more and more bent out of shape.  He's explosive and that sets it off in others.  The world is too dangerous for the likes of young Rodney, who has already paid too high a price.

Given I'm an older man now, I practiced projecting on the old guy side kick as my avatar in the ring.  You know how when you go to movies you pick a person...  I shouldn't say that as if novels weren't offering the same thing.  Any fiction.  Any history as a subset of fiction.  Fact is the fiction most agreed upon?  I ramble.

The bad guy in this movie has aroused our ire right from the opening scene, where he behaves like an out of control bully.  One wishes for Bruce Lee to jump out of the big screen and deal with him right then and there, but this is not a martial arts film.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Object Oriented Thinking

I was hanging with Deke (@dekebridges of Twitterverse) the other day.  You don't get 50K followers or whatever it is by being a bot.  Deke is a Penrosian Node in a non-computable space, a neural net given over to meme filtering, amplification, and propagation.  He's an instrument of the Zeitgeist.

I'll call him Lawn Mower Man for short (just kidding, insider allusion).

The thing about Deke is he likes Wendy's and one in particular.  He's brand loyal, to this instance (the special case), and to the class or template, the species.  This is Python talk, the computer language, just like Java jive at this level (Smalltalk, C# or whatever).

There's the pie-in-the-sky Platonic Wendy's in a Platonic strip mall (which need have nothing to do with stripping or strip bars, no need for see-no-evil monkeys to avert their eyes), and then there's the actual brick and mortar on-the-ground site-specific Wendy's, which typifies the ideal in an actual instance.

It's a Wendy's with a self, to continue the Python talk.  And it's not just a mindless affiliation in Deke's case.  He sincerely likes the chili f'rinstance.

Anyway, as we were driving around he suggested we might stop at Wendy's.  I said "I'm a Taoist, I don't fight the Way, when with Deke, go to Wendy's" and we did.

Deke just called.  Gotta go.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ISEPP Kick Off: 2013-2014

Terry picked a great speaker to kick off the lecture season this year.   Eric Drexler is a clear thinker who really helped get the ball rolling on nanotechnology.  Skip Rung, ONAMI director, gave the intro for obvious reasons.

Drexler was very aware and conscious of this being a Linus Pauling Memorial Lecture.  Not all of our speakers take that so much to heart, and they're not required to, but it so happens that "nanotechnology" was greatly aided and abetted as a field by the work of Linus Pauling.  Eric tried to convey how some people become so important and pervasive in their influence that you don't directly name them anymore.  Speaking of which, I think he managed to not say "fullerene" the whole lecture, though nano-tubes and graphene were key themes.  We don't have to cite Newton every time we use the word Gravity either.

What happened to nanotechnology is that the term became highly politicized, such that Eric has to do extra work up front to carve out the space that most interests him:  the space of building very tiny nano machines, like with gears.  These would work together in nano-factories to produce nano objects by the billions.  This kind of thing already happens in the electronics industry.

We're already surrounded by nano-devices and maybe don't call them that.

The future is bright, in terms of "more with less" continuing to mean something.  It twas a "Dymaxion Evening" with "dymaxion" being Fuller's coin for the "more with less" concept.

Eric's chart about exploratory engineering reminded me a lot about my GST "limits of language" poster.  He colors in a "forbidden zone" where realistic science fiction cannot tread, more the realm of fantasy.

However even within the "allowed zone" one might boost living standards to a point where the "war no more" people had a winning hand.

DSCN5360

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Silent Running


The above screencast, by David Koski, was meant to have sound.

He narrated over the phone what was going on.

I thought I could keep it in my head, but the zig-zag pattern of three tetrahedrons in the frustum is frustrating to memorize.

Start with ye regular old tetrahedron then move a face outward from its opposite vertex to make the edges phi (1.618...) times what they were.

The three zig zag tetrahedrons inside are now 1/phi, 1, phi in ratio, where 1 = the volume of the original tetrahedron.

You may generalize this result to non-regular tetrahedrons.

Related reading:
Constructing the Desert Tetrahedron (Dec, 2013)
Multiplying Desert Tetrahedron by PHI (Dec, 2013)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Before / After

DSCN5289

DSCN5290

:: before ::

DSCN5296

:: after ::

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pacific Islanders Meet

For those unfamiliar with history, after Washington, DC imposed its post WW2 victory and Pax Americana in the so-called American Lake (the Pacific), it proceeded to betray a lot of peoples, starting with
  • the Vietnamese whom it sold out to its former colonizers after getting Ho's help against the Japanese
  • then the Filipinos, whom it liberated only to reimpose a heavy hand (having enslaved the Filipinos in an earlier chapter) and then of course
  • the Pacific Islanders, who saw their homelands turned into a nuclear testing range, with entire islands obliterated and/or rendered uninhabitable, while generations were subjected to previously unknown levels of long term low level radiation, the effects of which are still making themselves known.
This evening, a group of Marshall Islanders got together in Portland to reminisce and celebrate small victories.  DC had taken away their eight year driver's license, treating them as "undocumented" on their own islands.  They got that overturned.  Now they'd like their medicare back.

Their major atoll, Kwajalein, was taken over by a culture-crushing, despotic military, the same one that destroyed, and/or pushed to the edge of extinction, so many native American cultures.  DC has been lying ever since, about the true magnitude of its ecocide in the Pacific.

Getting that City of Morons off the backs of free peoples in the Pacific is a worthy goal, but is difficult given DC, like Rome before it, counters open defiance with brutal aggression. 

More effective:  laugh at DC behind its back and work around it.

Private corporations may be effective as DC understands and obeys those with means.  Money talks to politicians even when few others can make sense of what money is saying.

To paraphrase Wittgenstein, "if money could talk we would not understand it" -- unless privy to one of the code languages the monied use amongst themselves.

Carol was too busy packing for her semi-annual migration to make this event, but I had Giff Johnson sign a copy of his book for her.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Winter Repairs

I'd already planned to leave the Nissan in the shop when I went to California.  They told me last time, something about needing valve cover replacements or something.  Well, I waited a little too long I guess because those lights on the dash meant what they said:  I was eating through the battery; mom and I pulled up the driveway from Old Wives Tales, after the AFSC meeting, with zero Joules to spare.  Trying to restart confirmed:  battery dead.

Fortunately, I'm up to date with AAA and my annual dues covered the tow to Gladstone, near Oregon City.  That was Thursday morning.  This Monday, all was repaired, including the new alternator.  The spray or leakage from the decayed valve covers is what had damaged the alternator over time.  Front and back brakes were down to 10%.  Other repairs needed.  The grand total was over $1800 2013 US dollars, paid against a standing loan (the credit card).  Why I put it on the non-mileage VISA I'll never know.  My right and left brain don't always talk I guess.

I've been concerned about the python, with which I share an office.  The dog comes by quite often as well.  During office hours, I'm more with non-humans than not, but the snake has been very balled up in his box, his shack within the larger aquarium.  Tonight, he came out.  I'd sneaked him a test mouse earlier, picking one up on the way back from Gladstone.  He passed the test.  I should give him another one before leaving for California.  Must dry clean the jacket.  Works out.  Mouse store and dry cleaner are adjacent and within walking distance.

Lindsey professes to despise the Blue House Party Mix, though I think both videos were new to her.  Dumb uninteresting beats, is her take, as a musician.  I guess that makes me easy to please, although I do like her more off beat experimental stuff sometimes.  We didn't get to that "all video-game sounds" version of Gangnam Style, just as well.  114/94/SAT was my work today, a shorthand I've developed, chicken scratches.  Patrick would know what I meant.  He chauffeured me past Cleveland High School, Tara's old haunt, and Oak's Bottom, Dawn's and mine, in route to Gladstone.  We at first missed the Nissan repair place because I'd misremembered the Nissan layout.  No biggie.  We drove home separately, reunited at The Open Bastion.

What Marx called product fetishism is real enough, as is consumerism as a lifestyle.  Shopping.  Some like to eBay all day.  Trading is turnover and variety is the spice of life.  I expect to receive a ton of philosophy books tomorrow.  Blue House is like grand central these days, with lots of comings and goings.  On the other hand, the power of having the right tools for the job should not be trivialized with dime store psychology.  Honing in on artifacts, such as cameras, even jewelry (some ornaments are also instruments in some science), is not anti-Marxist per se, but nor is it about being intimidated by Marxist labels.  The Blue House Party Mix obviously celebrates new / vogue technology and the accompanying razzmatazz (bling).  That seems superficial, if tools can't be deep.

Alan Watts used to point out that shopper-consumers were often the antithesis of Materialists.  They were in pursuit of a concept of a concept of happiness (pointers to pointers) and the mundane reality of materials was actually no longer capable of inducing thrills.  The idea of being at a certain restaurant was more important than the food forgettably consumed.  American Psycho comes to mind, for alluding to such a lifestyle.

Then lets look at Debt:  The First 5000 Years, and review the meaning there given "communism".   You may be sure the professoriate is "going here" i.e. today's colleges are already abuzz with some new thinking (not a new phenomenon right?).  The meanings of words do not hold fixed spontaneously and in fact it takes work and review to uphold a meaning.  Stories pegged to seasonal changes, star patterns and so on, have a longer half life than some.  Political stories, sustained by journalism, can sometimes just fizzle.  You reach a kind of terminus and there seems nowhere next to go, like a StopIteration exception in Python.  The generator is exhausted.  The bandwidth is a scarce resource I suppose you could say, not asynchronously so much as when everyone has their tightly scripted part.  Some of the fancier stuff can't be done without bandwidth.  Banks fail for this reason, people simply lose interest, to recycle an old pun.

The story is one of Mind continuing to pull the rug from under merely copied or habitual behaviors.  A given Brain might be happy doing the same thing every day, but the humans' gift is to receive grace, no need to argue if it's divine.  Of course it is, if by this means we shed the old reflexes and habits in favor of and in service of, some actual will, a chooser / decider, some executive function.  That means there might be somebody home, albeit non-computable / unpredictable, and therefore a plan of action, and not just action.  We need both.  "Computable" is in contrast to.

Thoughts that hold water need not always hold water.  The Holy Spirit keeps moving, as some religious might put it, meaning the forms continue to reform.  Morphing happens.  The beats change and draw us onward.  And let us remember that in morphing may be healing; not all change is injurious.  Letting go of conversations that displace more worthy conversations:  a spontaneous / emergent process.

Enough metaphysics for one evening's blog post I'd say.  My focus needs to turn towards the morrow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quakers in Business

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:: mongo DB ::

Quakers started out as a highly persecuted minority but, once they had passed various integrity tests, they became a valuable asset to England's business community.  Their reputation for honesty and plain speech made them the logical ones to have talks with the "Indians" (English had Indians on both sides) and then, once trust was established, violate it, an old pattern.

Quakers began to feel used in this arrangement, as good will builders, only to see their investments go up in smoke.  They had their turn to run a utopia in Pennsylvania but that soon gave ways to Indian Wars, Ethnic Cleansing, Forced Migrations and so on and on, not fun at all.  They'd seen slavery up close in Barbados, and unlike King George III or was it IV, did not see much future in it.  Philadelphia was to be a bastion of freedom.  DC got the swamp.

Fast forward and you have a global network of Friends, not unlike other denominations and sects for their networks, with little campuses here and there.  It's corporation-like. Quakers helped pioneer a lot of the business practices we take for granted today and you'll find them still practiced in Quaker business meetings today.  Agendas go out ahead of time, minutes are taken and taken up at next meeting, where amendments may be made.  There's a constant effort towards leaving a clear written record of every meeting.

How do such practices carry into the future?  To some extent the written word forms a happy medium, in that we're able to have our Skype sessions and hang out on Google, but not bother with a recording, as minute-taking is still the succinct brief we will take with us, along with augmented memories for ourselves.

Practices need not change all that much, in other words.  The need to have every meeting video recorded and archived is not usually felt to be pressing.  On the other hand, living simply does have its advantages when everyone is potentially carrying a recording device and all phone conversations are retrievable.  If you have too many non-matching stories or "sets of books" then the pressure to implode is somewhat exponential in the digital age.

My expectation is that people will keep the Quaker ways alive in a sandbox or virtual space (called "religion"), there to continue fine tuning a kind of utopian business community that self administers and self heals.

Skills acquired practicing Quakerism will inform one's own private businesses thereby.  For example today I plan to reach meeting in time to transact business around coffee.  We have a supplier in Central America, as have we Friends.  The global network keeps talking to itself, including to its Beanites (that's a pun on our propensity to consume coffee, and the name of a founding family in our branches).

Speaking of Quakers and caffeine, on learning of "Mormon Tea" I was suggesting the Mormon authorities approach such a brand and allow its merchandizing.  Typical of a Quaker to think in that way.  Have little teabags and everything, some semi-fictive Santa Claus background (not my place to make it up).

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Strange Case of Señor Computer (movie review)

Lindsey built this up as the ultimate gift movie experience, a way of paying me back for all the duds we'd hit, not surprisingly, as she and I have watched hundreds of movies together (rough estimate) a lot of them from Dominic's collection at Laughing Horse.  Most of his are pretty good though -- Laughing Horse is a treasure.

Anyway, this movie is camouflauged as a badly directed amateur effort, which gets peoples minds off the budget and special effects.  It's uniformly ridiculous, like Team America, World Police (a relatively high budget film by South Park).

The star is this like white and nerdy mad professor guy (but younger) who just wants a girlfriend but all he has for company is this whacked out robot struggling for consciousness, and having a hard time of it.  The robot narrates the movie, in a synthesized voice, which makes no laugh track necessary.  I was cracking up the whole time.

I don't get to see much of Lindsey which is probably why we were both looking forward to some time alone.  She's off at City Hall all day, fighting to lift the camping ban or working Food Not Bombs in multiple shifts around town, including R2D2.  She gives the goodie two shoes churches a run for their money, in terms of siding with the poor, not a half bad performance, even by Portland standards which are pretty high.

However, her militancy against automobiles and refusal to ride in one has side tracked her music career as far as live night club appearances go (we did the downtown and east side circuit).  I used to be her roadie / chauffeur when she was new in town, but she gave up on those ethics and just gave me her vehicle in exchange for no rent in a basement (in far better use, by a quasi full time activist musician than for storage (that's what the garage is for)).  She tells her mom she lives with an old school teacher, and guess what, that's true (I'm 55 and I work for a school).

Blue House wins with such interesting talented people playing World Game (speaking of which, Jen just left this morning, having camped out both in the backyard and in our living room as the days grew shorter and colder).  She's off on the next big chapter in her life.  Here's a picture of her early this morning, with all her worldly goods.  I wish her well and expect to see her again in a future chapter.

We we're still working on boundaries though, Lindsey and I (cell phone use and like that -- she won't own one but then I can't play social secretary so she mostly works through her girlfriend Melody for telecomm).  We've had hardly any chance to catch up at all lately, as I'm really feeling it at work.  Aside from the blow-up about maybe closing the pavilion at Colonel Summers Park (no plans to do that now), I have had my head in other spaces, as this blog will attest.  She and I don't overlap nearly as much as we used to.

Back to the movie:  our hero is a mess, suicide prone, and relationships only take a greater toll than they're worth, diminishing him, not feeding him.  The robot is no help at all in this situation as the scientist's doppelganger i.e. he's pretty much going through the same thing, having a relationship over the phone, using his "father's" credit cards, and spending a lot of time introverted and morose, an emo kid for sure.

Your enjoyment of this film will be proportional to your taste for underground comix (e.g Crumb) and other films of the same ilk.  It reminded me somewhat of Doing Easy.  Very William Burroughs.  Lindsey and I share that same wicked sense of humor to some degree (as does Christine).

After the movie I invited Linsdey to sit in the co-pilot chair in my office and watch zombies storm Jerusalem again, in WWZ.  I like to share that clip with people.  Now that's high budget, comparatively.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Differential Equations

Hexagonal Awareness

:: hexagonal awareness 
by Glenn Stockton ::


I wrote to Tara about "interlocking deltas" today, something that's been occupying some attention on my walks, or call them "walking meditations" (Quakers have that too, or call it "worship walking").

"Delta" is a Greek letter, a little triangle, and signifies change, perhaps the smallest change possible.  The idea that "change" is discrete, comes in quanta (all or nothing bits, yes or no at some level), is similar to the notion that "substance" is discrete i.e. "atoms", with "atoms" boiling down (reducing to) "energy events" by most accounts.

People argue about whether "matter is energy" (Kenneth Boulding and I did some of that) perhaps imagining they're holding "is" constant (there are three words at work here, not just two, plus is it an empirical question or a matter of a priori stipulation?).

When you plod along linearly, you accumulate distance, lest on a treadmill at the gym, in which case "distance" is measured for you (and displayed).  Accumulation shows as a slanted line, and accumulating accumulation, as in adding consecutive numbers, becomes a triangle, or area.  So a first power becomes a second, and a second power change becomes a third.  That's "integration" (accumulation) where as "differentiation" is going the other way (back down to plodding).

On today's ascent of Tabor I met up with Glenn, not by prearrangement but nor entirely by surprise.  He'd found some new puzzle pieces, regarding planetary geology.

Plate tectonics used to be laughed at, but now there's this other theory, that the interlocking plates, without changing relative position, also slide around as a whole, like an outer crust would be free to rotate.

By how much?

I didn't manage to pin that down but lets just say that polar ice weighs a lot and the physics of precession might just make for a kind of axial realignment to compensate, during periods of heavy glaciation.  This would again be independent of the relatively ellipsoidal orbits at a maximum -- or is it, entirely?

I don't claim to know.

DSCN4700

Because of oscillations of the axis and where the ice buildup happens most, parts of Antarctica have been sometimes uncovered.  The idea that human civilization might have flourished there between ice ages has its supporters, among them a Canadian couple.  Glenn had their book.

I snapped a few pictures and then moved on, this being a Monday and all.  It may not look like I work eight hour days (or more) but I do.  Getting it all in takes some packing.

The Bagdad is closed now, as I was saying it would be soon, for the remodel.

Jen has joined our household again as she did for some months last year, using Carol's room.  Carol is still here so she's got the livingroom.  Lindsey's music studio is still in the basement though she's not around right now.  I've got the upstairs split between bedroom and office, while the real office still waits for insulation (my job) and dry wall (contracted).

I share the office with a python, very active at the moment.  I should take him out... nah, he's pretty shy, some other time maybe.  The office opens out on a deck, newly redone with a fantastic fence and durable "rubber" cover.  No leaking downstairs anymore.  I paid for all this by grading mountains of student work.  I'm paid as a gatekeeper, per the Project Renaissance model.

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I noticed Lyrik has turned over again, used to be Fine Grind (under Jody), before that Wired.  Keiko, our Brazilian of Japanese heritage worked with Joe on the Lyrik enterprise (half coffee shop, half art gallery).  I didn't make it to the restaurant, with its steam punk menu, and now it's gone, an opportunity not taken.  Accelerating acceleration and all that.  Differential equations again.

I remember when visiting Holden in DC, his then wife was talking about a pay delta.  She was talking about a security guard and his family, her business being property management of premium DC real estate.  Anyway, I appreciated that use of "delta" too.  So many little triangles out there, signifying miniscule differences.  But they add up they do.  It's amazing how a little leak can fill a bathtub full of water.  Been there done that.

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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Carol Addresses Thirsters

DSCN4596
Carol visits Thirsters @ McMenamins

This fairly low key weekly conversation group has recently switched digs, moving from the McMenamins on Savier in NW to the McMenamins on Broadway in NE.

Carol regaled them with stories about her work for civil / human rights and Constitutional democracy in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Egypt and Lesotho.  She talked a lot about the Transformation Resource Center (TRC) as being one of her very favorite NGOs.  She never mentioned PAFID by name, the NGO she helped resurrect in the martial law Philippines to counter the land-grabbing polices of Colonel Elizalde and his cronies.  Yes, this was in the Marcos period.

Why did the US back Savimbi in Namibia again?  She has always freely questioned so-called "US foreign policy".  The succession of presidents made a difference.  Under Carter, her work was more celebrated and acknowledged.  EB asked her why she got "kicked out" of the US Embassy in Maseru.  Again:  a change in personnel, and anyway rotation is the norm in embassies, where few last as long as five years (as she had).

Carol and TRC had a lot of input during the hammering out of the Lesotho constitution in the aftermath of the insurrection by those voted out.  These people started burning down the whole country and surrounding nations had to intercede militarily, which they did without a bloodbath, though killing occurred.  Hammering out an agreement after that took about three years.

She played up the role of Quaker conflict resolvers, indigenous South Africans, in the ending of Apartheid.  My parents had great admiration and respect for the RSA (Republic of South Africa).

She talked about meeting dad and their collaboration as expats.  He was more the technocrat social engineer (sounds evil -- regional and education planning mostly), while she would work as a volunteer, more like Descartes, by which I mean she had more leverage when not subservient to a boss.  She could follow her intuitions more and whereas mom is often mixed up about matters of fact (in my opinion) she is capable of good judgement ("discernment" the Quakers call it).  One of the Thirsters made some insightful remarks along those lines.

I talked to Doug a lot, Peace Corps vet from Liberia in the 1970s, left before the Civil War.  He'd been back in DC for President Carter's inauguration.  I chose that day to see the Tutunkamn Exhibit -- while the new prez and his wife were strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue in a parade.  Looking at ancient Egyptian stuff at the same time was not disrespectful, but an acknowledgment of our bonds to civilizations past (and maybe consult de Chardin about our bonds to the future).

Thirsters obviously enjoyed this presentation.  Carol has good command of her subject.

I was fairly social with people but also brought along The Rajneesh Chronicles.  I'm about half way through maybe?  Anyone like me who fantasizes about eco-villages in rural Oregon should study this anthropology, or call it "true crime" (how the book tends to get filed at bookstores -- and not without reason mind you).

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Some Quaker Overview


Ever since Walter Kaufmann translated Nietzsche's "Übermensch" to "Overman" instead of "Superman", there's been discomfort among Quaker Overseers, who are caught in the hard place of remaining vigilant against undermining / subverting influences (cosmetics, music...) that might distract Friends from expectant waiting on the spirit.

Quakers don't believe in titles or, more accurately, different ranks or classes of human. Fox was popular among infantry and officers for his direct egalitarian manner and plainspokenness, direct speech, an asset in war time. Quakers wouldn't treat some as uber-entitled and others as trash, which got them in trouble (an understatement).

However, Kaufmann's whole schtick (or a big part of it) was to put distance between "Übermensch" and any stupid Nazi ideas of Arayan supremacy, the ultimate classism or sense of entitlement.

Friends tried hard to put the brakes on WW2 (see Human Smoke) by seeing Germans as humans too (like Americans, far from perfect); they resisted imposition of the food blockade, the siege Churchill had mounted and needed FDR to support, and they pushed to open borders to fleeing / desperate refugees from Nazi oppression, Jews chief among them.

DC Comics might have had the better translation after all, in that ordinary powers we have, as humans further along the timeline, are "super" compared to what they were until recently. We fly places. We Google stuff. We see the Earth from space.

Compared to humans just a short time ago, in terms of environmental impact at the terraforming level, for better or for worse (or neither or both), we're now "super" or "uber" or "on steroids" if you will ("over the top", "hyper", "amped up").

Nietzsche was right: humanity was about to go into overdrive and into orbit and now we have "overview" (Über-view) from space. We see the fragility of our situation. That's what our new superpowers (powers of oversight) help us realize: that we're uber-vulnerable, as a ball-shaped ecosystem in the middle of nowhere.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Polyhedrons at Play




These two videos stem from conversations between David Koski and myself.  There's a lot more to it, so let me not try to reveal all here.  Visual Python is a fine platform for outputting 3D animations as a result of running Python code.  They're interactive animations, meaning even as they play, you can change the viewing angle and distance.  Computer games may provide even more fluidity of motion but at least we've moved a step in that direction.

In the 2nd video I tell the listeners they might not agree with my volume figure and suggest they try with red edges = 2.  In XYZ, they should get a volume of 1, modeled likewise by a cube with edges half the reds, i.e. 1 x 1 x 1.  The shape is a reflected 1/6th corner of a rectangular brick where the brick is volume √3 x √3 x 1, so two of those is 2 x 1/6 of 3 = 1.

In Synergetics, the "prime vector" (PV) against which the others are scaled, is typically twice that of the unit-radius sphere's (540.14) four of which pack to create the regular tetrahedron of edges 2R, or D (Diameter = 2 x Radius).

That's the 2nd tetrahedron I pause at, with all edges D, and is the Synergetics unit of volume.  The geometric model of multiplication is different, even in Flatland, so 3rd powering is not cube-shaped at the end of the day.  I use the brand 'Martian Math' to share it sometimes, in contrast to 'Earthling Math' which is the XYZ stuff we both know.

Sometimes another edge, usually R, or even an edge of the T module, is so important to the discussion you consider it the prime vector instead (think of "__main__" in Python). Synergetics names (tools) tend to adapt to the namespace (problem area) you're working in (a kind of pneumatic flexibility built in to the language).

So the XYZ unit and IVM unit are both in the same animation, but with our volume numbers staying with IVM i.e. with "tetravolumes".  This would be a door to a "concentric hierarchy" of volumes, a somewhat familiar assortment of nested polys, but with more whole number volumes then you get from the XYZ namespace.

Making the cube your unit came at a cost and Synergetics helps us investigate the consequences by giving us workarounds.  Art courses (including in Cyberia) focusing on the concentric hierarchy have been a source of ideas for more straitlaced (as in straitjacketed) where experimental geometry is less well established.

What's this "IVM"?  Same as "octet truss" in architecture, on which for awhile Fuller held a patent (even though Alexander Graham Bell did the same constructions).

Here's the source code for the above videos.  Sorry about the word-wrapping, in the comments too.  You'll need to fix that on your end, a good way to start familiarizing yourself with the code.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Poly Families

You'll find the Xtian Right looking askance at gay marriage, and saying, "now that they've won their gay rights battle, the Xtian Left will be bringing back polygamy" (the idea being the Left is the source of all corruption, as backed by villainous atheist communists etc.).

You'll find more mixed feelings here as polygamy is a norm in the Bible and some Xtian sects have already practiced it, in its patriarchal mode at least, where one guy is responsible for a herd of women (he husbands them).

There's nostalgia for "Biblical marriage" and some Righties are torn, feeling it's actually their side that should now push "one guy, many women" as a form of revenge.  "If gays can get married then I should be able to marry both Connie and Cheryl" goes the reasoning.

Many Mormons are still resentful that a nation touting itself as a "land of the free, home of the brave" is still too religiously bigoted and cowardly, still too controlled by mainstream Xtians, to allow Mormonism its full spectrum of expression (like the Saudi version of Islam, which still disallows women their Quranic right to rule as equals).  Some still get away with it (Biblical marriage), but are subject to continual harassment, sexual and otherwise.

Buddhist subcultures that still practice polygamy are sometimes apologetic and think they have something to "get over" while being ashamed, like cannibalism.  Again, not the first time a traditional culture has "miss-underestimated" (to quote a president) their immanent "sexiness" as lifestyle role models.  Just when they're about to be "in" (in vogue, fashionable), they're trying to go "out" (as in "off the world stage").

In these Buddhist marriages, you don't necessarily have a head of household in one specific male or female figure.  Imagine the self help bookshelves on family dynamics wherein multiple partners work to get along and thrive as a family unit.  Sounds like a law firm.

Indeed I have long advocated that those seeking "nontraditional" partnerships of more than two, define themselves in business law and forsake "dom rel" (domestic relations), an area of the law wherein the concept of multiple partners is still shriveled and immature -- thanks a lot to Xtian influence (a "dumbing down" religion in many of its non-gnostic branches).

What the Right Wingers apparently haven't done yet is put 2 and 2 together and realized that "gay marriage + polygamy = same sex triples and quadruples" etc.  That hadn't occurred to them.  "Three gay guys walk into a bar, a family...".

But aren't we just talking about rock bands now?  Any combination of boy-girl gloms together and has succulent family time together, what's the problem?  Well, as you know, divorce is a problem, dividing up profits and property when a partnership separates.  Sometimes the whole group disperses.  More commonly, a new person joins and a veteran moves away.  There's turnover.

In industrial post-modern societies, each individual has the wherewithal, in theory, to take care of her or himself.  In reality, we're still quite a ways from fulfilling this prophecy, but the point is you might come into a relationship with a lot of stuff marked as yours, and not transfer it to the group.  People keep track of their stuff and keep their own credit ratings.

Selling things is also easier these days, on eBay and Craig's List and so on.   You don't need the group for personal survival.  There's no "dowry".  Households are simply less complicated in this future, as the individual humans are themselves more self contained and secure as economic units, as worker-scholars in the Global U.

So we may be getting to a point where those with enough social skills will be able to negotiate their arrangements without much expert assistance, except from bookshelves and websites.  unmarried.org is a good one to visit.  Many templates abound.  As for the rituals, marriage ceremonies have often been inventive.  The choice to call it "a marriage" will be up to the group.  If a couple from a larger family of five travels together, they may call themselves "married" without going into more detail.

Keeping it simple is a good idea.  The less complicated your relationship to property, the better, when it comes to keeping one's affairs in order.   That doesn't mean you can't own stuff.   You just need to run your life more like a business maybe.  Quakers might help with that.  Our "love makes a family" testimony is strongly rooted and our reputation for conducting our business with clearness is not without cause.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Versioning Membership (Faith and Practice)

Membership in a Meeting is ideally non-coercive, like a marriage, and is designed to form a public bond between an individual and a Quaker Meeting, such that the individual is publicly encouraged to say "I am a member of such-and-such a Meeting". 

This declaration signals to the wider world that people calling themselves members of the Religious Society of Friends are still among us, at work in the world, and feel led to publicly identify as such.  To proclaim one's membership in the Religious Society is a way of establishing one's identity in terms of one's ethics and practices.

Other Friends choose to advertise their affiliation with the Religious Society without obtaining or retaining formal membership in a particular Meeting.  If questioned about membership, such a Friend may say "I attend such-and-such a Meeting" and Quakers know that some of their attenders are "weighty" (influential) Friends, just as some of their members are.  Many Meetings treat members and attenders on an equal footing in regards to service on Committees, except for reasons the state may require in the corporation bylaws.

Those opting out of formal membership may include:

(a) those in transit, not ready to settle down and participate in the life of a specific Meeting

(b) those who grew up in Quaker families and felt accepted into Quakerism without needing to go through a Clearness process (some of whom later transfer their membership i.e. their Meeting acknowledges "birthright Friends" and a Meeting that doesn't accepts the transfer),

(c) on doctrinal grounds, that "membership" is "club language" whereas Friends of Jesus (John 15:15) can't be a "membership club" and

(d) those who feel their beliefs and practices, while maybe consistent with Friends somewhere, would place too much strain on a nearby Meeting e.g. they're a gay couple near Meetings which still do not recognize gay marriage i.e. the application for membership would be too upsetting.

Another example: the Langley Meeting in Virginia went through a prolonged process after someone with the CIA asked for membership.  My recollection is the request was declined, and so the officer continued with attender status.  "Why put them through all that in the first place?" a (d) person might think, "I can still be on Oversight."

Whether or not a Friend has obtained membership in a Meeting by the recognized Clearness process, overseen by overseers (the members of the Oversight Committee), a Friend is always open to being tested and queried by others about Quaker testimony and ministry.

Friends continually test one another, regarding integrity and clearness of purpose.  In joining with Friends, both members and attenders are signifying their openness to having their leadings investigated and sometimes challenged by peers.  Friends who keep journals on-line i.e. world-readable, are especially open, at least in principle, to peer review.

Grounds for dismissal from membership include taking membership in another church with incompatible beliefs (e.g. it participates in warmongering), and breaking important rules, such as refusing to stop talking multiple times in the same Meeting for Worship nor accepting feedback (eldering) when such transgressions are pointed out.

Friends may also freely lay down a membership in one Meeting and take it up in another, a process called transferring membership and described in other sections.  Sometimes Friends just drift off and are not heard from.  The Meeting has a process for contacting such individuals in writing and then proceeding with an amicable separation wherein both parties agree that a relationship with a particular Meeting is over for now, and there is no likely prospect of transfer.  To resign from membership does not preclude rejoining at a later date.

Historically, entire Meetings have disowned one another owing to various irreconcilable differences.  The many branches created through schism and divorce are sometimes diagrammed in a "Quaker guts" poster.

Quakers disowned any slaveowners in their midst rather early in US history, following the lead of London and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings.  Their resulting unpopularity in the south led them to migrate westward across North America as a part of the general drift of migrants of European heritage.  Earlham College in Indiana was one of the schools founded by Quaker refugees in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Westward migration was sometimes a way of escaping further persecution and establishing a fresh set of Meetings in the wake of a schism.  The North Pacific Yearly Meeting, for example, traces its history to a couple named Bean who fled Iowa Yearly Meeting, which had disowned them, to California, where they founded the College Park Association.  In retrospect, this branch of the Religious Society is recognized as important to Liberal Friends more generally.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

InterFaith Meetup


Hey, great reconnecting with Harold Long at this New Thought church. He hung out with me 'n Ed Applewhite that time.  Ed was always gaga for architecture and Long was / is Frank Lloyd Wright trained (as in personally) and an expert in religious architecture in particular.  He and Ed had lots to talk about, though I don't mean to peg Ed as "religious" in that statement.  Ed loved being a skeptic about such things.

Harold is Maureen's ex, for those who follow my Russian novel (these blogs are full of comings and goings of the interesting people in my life).  Applewhite was a close friend and associate of Bucky Fuller's, another architect you may have heard of, along with TC Howard (Seattle Expo Bubblator, Metallurgist Dome, many others).  Fuller and Sadao, their shop, was near to Noguchi's place in Long Island City, just across from Manhattan.  Apologies for the deluge of trivia.

Anyway, Lynne Taylor, a Wanderer, had organized an ambitious program, like a mini Parliament of World Religions but much shorter, just a half day.  Packed with content.  I have reams of thoughts.  I spent lots of time in the gift shop.

Carol, my mother, was representing Quakers.  She did a good job, making an abstruse historical allusion to Peter Waldo, one of the early heretics.  I could hear people thinking "Who's Waldo?".  The slide above and behind us (every religion had one) was of the Columbia Gorge I'm pretty sure, but mom wondered if it was Pendle Hill.  She talked about her deafness and loss of short term memory. She won the audience completely, good job mom.  I was in the pews snapping pictures.

Then we adjourned to a downstairs panel discussion, after more snacks.  The event was gracefully tiered such that people could leave, but diehards could go for more, even ask hard questions.  As the chauffeur, I was of course on the hook for the whole thing, though did manage to spend a good thirty minutes arguing vociferously with another director type (think Wanderers) in the privacy of a large empty lot.

Then it was back to fun and games.  We got to chant, sing, pray.  Many religions, Sikh, Navajo, Roman Catholic, Atheist, Scientologist, Essene, Baha'i, Jewish, Islam, Pagan, Hindu, and Quaker all up to bat. All comported themselves well.  The Scientology lady was into demurely celebrating her brand's being in the august company of world religions, already, and she shared a tasteful video (see below).

The Islamic woman was forceful during the panel discussion afterwards.  She was just back from Pakistan.  She's a business person, her own boss, and draws a line between Islam and the cultures in which it has so far been adopted.  She is very optimistic about North American brands of Islam because women start out with close to a full deck here, in contrast to other places.  Islam has a head start. Rarely has it been practiced in so pure a form.  She's on the highest committees in her congregation (sorry for mangling the terms).  There's nothing in pure Islam that dictates a Taliban interpretation of Islam, wherein women have few responsibilities.

The Atheist, who reminded me of Duane Ray, referred to himself as a secularist.  As I was explaining to the director on the cell phone, to me "secularist" means "believes in an equal opportunity to go to jail, no particular religious caste excepted" (dividing "church" from "state" one might call it).  I think of the late Reverend Moon (Unification Church) doing time for tax evasion.  She may have had a different meaning.  The Atheist quoted Carl Sagan from the pulpit, and cited Richard Dawkins as another hero, which I found almost too stereotypical, as if South Park Studios had had a hand in this script (I admire Carl by the way).

David Tver was sitting next to me and asked for a definition of an Atheist.  "Are Buddhists atheists?" I asked myself.  My advice to Atheists is this:  it's dangerous to define yourself by what you're anti. My dad was an atheist one could say, but "Quaker" was a more positive identity, as it came complete with role model pacifists (like Bayard Rustin) and a kind of "democracy in a box" (our way of doing business).  What do Atheists so far have, in terms of community?  Walden Two?  Just a question.  No need to get defensive.

Actually the Humanists have a community, and a thriving one around Portland, so I think that's an answer right there.  The goal, in any practice, is to prevent arrested development, be that "psychological" or whatever.  Some atheists accept a "psyche" or "ego" (normal me) but not a "soul" (paranormal me, a non-existent ghost) -- nomenclature matters.  An atheist might still embrace some form of depth psychology (e.g. Tantric Buddhism) to fight / counter / rebalance the various projected abnormal psychologies (some of them mob psychologies, collective).  Aberrations stalk us all and you don't need to believe in ghosts to feel haunted by memories, as in PTSD.

I'm the one at a disadvantage, I should just admit, in that I'm somewhat misanthropic and so outnumbered.  As a little kid, I tended to favor non-humans over humans in some dialectic, like I more empathized with dogs and horses, or whatever.

In religion, such "animism" (I call it Quaker animism) maps to an esoteric form of gnosticism wherein you identify with the sneering angels, who think humanity was a mistake and are jealous of God's love for them.  You probably haven't heard of us if a mainstream Christian, but the angel fanatics are familiar with the literature, of angels as the humans' competitors ("so how do you explain Guardian Angels?"... obviously there was some kind of war, and the so-called "good angels" sided with Yahweh, obviously).

Anyway, I wasn't doing the talking and got us home safely.  I uploaded a bunch of pictures (from the event, see above) then went over to Glenn's.  His brand of Neolithic Math re-galvanizes my vision of "fat farms" in the high desert, places to come to to shed metaphysical fat as well as adipose predisposing you to diabetes.  That doesn't have to mean vegan but for some it should.  You oughta try it religiously at some point in your life at least.  Experiment, don't get stuck in a rut and become a lifestyle bigot.  Your religion, Atheist or otherwise, is not your license to be a jerk.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Highlight from OSCON XV

Quoting my own review on Google+:

One of the more interesting keynotes at OSCON, starting with the cut of his suit, and right through Obama appearing on video asking "what the heck is an API".  Just right for OSCON, made our geeks happy and proud.  Good job White House.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Occupy Vigil: Episode 1



My blurb on Facebook:
An hour and ten minutes of really excellent, high definition footage. Homeless camping out in downtown Portland. Articulate, interesting, colorful interviews.
Congratulations to Jordan (neighbor) and Lindsey (housemate) for distilling this excellent update and sequel to Occupy Portland. Episode 1. A salute to Adam and Melody as well.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Big Data

I'm all for swapping stories about which family had what, whether slaves were involved, midnight brewing, 'til the cows come home, on into the wee hours.  Having big data crunched together and visualized helps historians structure a layer, a layout, in the multi-layered timeline we're always building.  There's way too much to ever capture so we need to be smart about what we keep and just can't.  Yes, I'm guilty of speaking quite generally.

I guess I'm saying I'm not uncomfortable with family histories being out there.  I'm reading Royal Babylon at the moment (downloaded to Kindle), on advice from a friend, and I'm sure that's coloring my journaling.  I like demented cartoons too, what can I say.

Regarding Quakers for example, and the arguments around slavery leading up to and through the US's Civil War [tm] -- a terrible battle of wills, and fought against a Biblical backdrop, in terms of painting a long term destiny for one's self (those tended to be their images -- nothing radioactive yet) -- I'm fine with revisiting those.  Keep going over the texts, playing the old records, yes.  But they won't sound the same, as your own tastes continue changing.

The intersection of Friends and Native Americans post the Civil War is on my plate as a focus and I'm not even a paid historian or anything.  I just find myself wading in these waters and need to know more of the landscape.  It's not that I came to the planet pre-loaded with encyclopedic knowledge.

Getting a different version of history than the one you're getting.  That's always useful.  Patronizing people say it's not good for you, drives you crazy, too confusing.  I say better to get used to that: multiple tellings.  It's neither a crime nor a problem to be solved.

I said at my workshop I don't think we do nearly enough with timelines on the Internet.  We could be doing a lot more towards integrating chronologies.  Then you realize what you're up against:  people aren't necessarily ready for such and such to be known.   Crunching data too hard is like hiring too many Colombo's, detectives actually good at their jobs.  It's not like you're even looking for trouble, it just comes when you squeeze the sponge.

Nevertheless, historians have a job, which is to tell us a story that really helps us make sense of what happened in a way that serves going forward.  That sounds like a tall order, but I'm just trying to establish a rank.

Great storytelling reminds you of the generalized pattern integrities -- to lapse into Bucky-sounding. Historians, like investigative journalists, need to dig, and not believe the first version of events somebody feeds them.  Keep looking, keep digging.  Be skeptical.  I'm OK with that ethic.  I appreciate detectives and crime solving, or even just plot discovering (stories need not be of criminals to be interesting).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Haunting / A Planting


OPDX HQS
:: a spooky hqs :: 

I've been continuing Occupy Portland (OPDX) in a metaphysical way, by occupying Washington High School much the way Joyce occupied Dublin, with his imagination, in Finnegans Wake.  The goals were educational and in reality a movie and band celebrating our hero Buckminster Fuller did get staged in these digs, much to my delight.

OPDX had a headquarters, an abandoned, boarded up building, where Linus Pauling had gone to school, or so I'm told.  He was living on Hawthorne at the time, with his mom.  This was before his brilliant career at OSU, then Caltech.  Which is where Doug Strain got to know him.

However, as a visiting neighbor from Richmond (I didn't sign the clip board which went around the inner table), I learned Craig Kelly is completing his plans to buy it from the District and is moving ahead with commercial development.

St. Francis has sold its stake in the park for condos.  Portland is continuing with infill, the purpose of having an urban growth boundary, like a belt.  Suck it in, suck it in.  A lot of single story buildings are being replaced with three and four story, adding density.  The big controversy is should they provide their own parking.  The architects have already decided that the future Portlander is able to afford not owning a car, a luxury, as you can still rent them or share them, with such blueprints as Car 2 Go's.

So the "haunted castle" Halloween look of our HQS is soon to get a face lift.  You can imagine the bats leaving.  Kind of a Night on Bald Mountain sequence (allusion to Fantasia).  However, this is not a giving up so much as a seed planted.  The resulting work / shops will show our influence.  OPDX broke some new ground in the annals of education.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

PPUG 2013.9.10

One could stay I'm still on the job, what with Python on the big screen in front of me.  Sam phoned, "a poster child for the 'underwater' economy".  He and Judy designed and built that dream home but it's not agricultural land and carpentry does not mix with arthritis.  People do not have the usual means and fantasize about Agenda 21, wishing something even better would happen.

My idea for high desert secluded schools, boarding schools, but with plenty of bandwidth, has been baking in these blogs for a long time.  Search on Project Earthala.  But that's in Alternative Universe (Other Tomorrow) wherein we're doing science fiction things, not that we aren't now.  You know what I mean.  Sam and Judy would be faculty, manage the radio station (students need experience as broadcasters).

I really enjoyed my tour of WEFT in Champaign, a cultural headquarters.  I can listen on-line through i-Tunes like the boss does (one of 'em).  Actually a couple of our mentors host radio shows, I think I've mentioned over the years.

What has any of this to do with Python User Group meetup of September 10, 2013?  Not much so far.  I'm enjoying the air conditioning in what used to be the Meier & Frank warehouse building, where they had the sales.  Now it's about wind power and Urban Airship.  I sure saw a lot of wind power fans ("windmills") across the prairies of Illinois.  Not everywhere, but in patches.  Perhaps there's a zoning map I could call up in ArcGIS or Google Earth or something.

Maureen phoned about some amazing film at the Hollywood tonight, Walking the Camino.  She'd sold me on going (by myself) but the whole time I was thinking it was Monday.  I've been thinking that all day.  No, doh!  It's a Tuesday, Python User Group, and/or Wanderers.  Not a movie night.  But I've got it blogged.  I'll be back.

As a Subgenius I'm supposed to be good at cutting myself slack, but what does that look like really?  If you talk yourself into thinking your work is what you might do in your spare time, then it can look like slack, but are you fooled?  Some of the selves, some of the time.  OK, I'll shut up now:  Python's starting.

Squawkathon, that looks interesting.  Software nerds collaborating with sea birds to help them stay alive.  Lots get caught in big nets.  Hard to believe the deadline for Pycon talks (2014) is this Sunday.  I should go more backwater, to the high desert schools, giving pep talks to the most committed.  Would there be an AFSC angle?  Quakers have a history of founding schools.  I'll let them database me as "Dr." through Earlham.  I'm getting lots of snailmail for Applewhites Visit Oregon from Comcast and such, don't ask me how that happened (they did visit Oregon).

Miguel Grinberg's presentation on Flask was stellar.  Very intelligible and cruft free, like Flask itself.  Students come in with their Immersive backpacks and upload the hike recordings to school servers.  A simple Flask application, student / faculty maintained, serves out the files.  Design Science.  More with less.  Read Miguel's tutorial -- many nods.  He's a great teacher.  He made a joke about his accent, which I found charming.

Steve was passing out though, still recovering from Chicago.  We trundled off for food and beverage before the Selenium talk.  This was a taxi night.  Parking is rough and who wants to be driving around then, if not professionally.  Sometimes the chauffeur gets driven, just as someone else cuts (and styles) the barber's hair. 

Michelle did the lion's share of the work on this one, as usual.  Steve and I did our part by wandering around the meetup room looking for how to shut off the ambient music, over which our speakers would have been talking.  Steve found the control panel.  This is a fine meeting room by the way.  Other groups use it too, which is why the upcoming hackathon will be somewhere else, perhaps in close quarters with the Ruby people.  At work we're talking about cross-training more.  The term "full stack engineer" is like new code for "Renaissance person".

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Failures in Logic

Assuming someone needs to be punished for A, it does not follow either that B should be the punishment nor that C should be the one doing the punishing.   C is not determined by B, nor B by A.

Should the punishment be military?  Should atrocities and war crimes be committed?  Those are questions about B.

Should Washington, D.C., hardly a moral high ground city, be the city to orchestrate said punishment? Hasn't that city done enough damage for several centuries?  Those are C questions.

People agonize on TV about the credibility of the US president.  He rattled his saber so now we have to back him up or what will the Russians think?

After Nixon they still do this.

It's a father-knows-best about how to impress knee-jerk psychology.  The North Koreans will think we have egg on our faces if we don't fire some cruise missiles into a crisis situation, taking a gamble that this gesture will send the right message and bring healing to the region.

Imagine Son of Uncle Sam in a hospital gown, somehow free from his quarters, walking into a hospital room down the hall where the patient is in a state of civil war schizophrenia, stuffing out cigarette butts in his arm, suicidal. "Let me help you with that" says Son of Sam... blam, blam, blam (he shoots to maim, not kill, and believes he's a highly skilled staff doctor).

Yes, the nut house from hell.  Welcome to Planet Earth folks.  Hollywood could not make this up, and make it seem this real.  Only truly out of control actors could come up with this shit.  And don't ask to see the director.  This is all improv honey, and the director has left the building.

How about compensation for victims' families?  How about reparations to the City of Fallujah (invaded why again?).

Sorry, but there's no gravitas left in those offices.  Insofar as the Oval Office means anything, it's just the scene of an ongoing struggle by the will of a people, to gain control of its own limbs.  Self government was off to a jerky start from the beginning.  Not pretty.  Not that jerky courts were any better.

"Self control":  that's tough to exercise as a nation, nations being basket case should-be-hospitalized creatures at most levels, with pomp and circumstance their way of coping (compensating).  

The US has been mentally unbalanced since Eisenhower, with a seriously impairing "military industrial complex". No one really knows how to cure such things.  Original Sin may play a role, as the angels jeer, at Man the perpetual fuck up.  God made a goof there, that's for sure.  Lucifer said so out loud and paid a high price, but a lot more were thinking it.

Mostly, nations project negative qualities on one another as a way of helping their own feel good about themselves.  Amnesia and self-lobotomy come with the territory.  It's not a physical operation, but a metaphysical one.

You probably do need to watch lots of television though, in specific genres, to stay infected for long. That's what Ernest Mann (below) concluded, one of the first to kill his television.  Speaking of which, now would be the time to really look at Fallujah more deeply, the white phosphorus, the children killed.  We'll find that at sports bars right?

The president is fond of saying "against children" as if chemical weapons were OK against the older children aka adults (like in Friends or in the Mary Tyler Moore Show).

He's actually moving the goal posts in the wrong direction with such rhetoric, caught trying to make more room for chemical attacks against "terrorists" (another step back from civilization, a scary light to these yet man-apes of 2013, their humanity as yet emergent, tenuous).

He's allowing his speech-writers to blunt whatever message about chemical weapons was supposed to be sent by those deaf-mute collateral damage causing cruise missiles.

I was reading Ernest Mann's stuff on the way back from Chicago, using my approved-for-inflight-use Kindle.

I used the seat pocket headset rather than scrounge my own and mostly listened to air traffic control talk on channel nine.  Female voices are creeping up the charts there too, I was happy to hear, both in the control room and in the cockpit.

Ernest Mann was this Minneapolis-based maverick, and was one of the first to vector a new ethics of "freedom" (living freely) well beyond "work ethic" Protestantism.  He believed in the principle of not accepting money for one's work, while yet doing good works.  He found a way to retire early by 1900s standards:  in his forties.

Then he wrote and published about what it was like, a kind of latter day Thoreau, classifiable as a transcendentalist perhaps, or at least someone with a view that history involves many behind-the-scenes players, call 'em the Illuminati or Great Pirates or whatever (ETs...).

A monarchist news guy from Yahoo! was saying on NPR or CNN the other day that even if the Congress went against the president's first impulse, and voted down B and C, he could still defy Congress.

A lot of narrativists (journalists) are monarchists, given how they talk about president Obama.  They have no clear sense of the difference between a chief presiding officer and a monarch.  And yet they presume to tell us our story, have serious jobs in the media.

The US media have little notion of a "UN Security Council" apparently.  That's where other countries have a say and since when did they really matter?  The idea is Obama is Superman and he should rain down righteous wrath upon the Assyrians just like he does in the Bible as the God of Israel.

That's your average American mind for ya, eggs scrambled for breakfast, lots of bacon.  "Joe Six Pack" they call him.  A guy with a bulging gut, ready to judge you between beers.  War is just HDTV entertainment for this guy.  Why not "let 'em have it!"?  They gassed children after all, can't ask for a better excuse.

"Yeah, we might hit a few hospitals and schools 'n such but collateral damage is a lot less these days than it used to be, what with smart bombs 'n all."  We all know him from campgrounds.

What did they say about how the world would end?  Not with a bang but a burp?

Lets galvanize the world to rid itself of chemical weapons by all means.

Not in a hasty stupid way that might endanger the environment, but in a planned and well-managed theatrical production.

Lets all kick back and watch some well made documentaries on these HDTVs of ours, about the history of chemical weapons, dirty bombs, biological weapons.  Nixon does get some credit for getting bioweapons off the table at least.

Tell us about Johnston Atoll and Hermiston please.  Lets talk about DU and a radiotoxic environment. Chemical warfare against people is one thing, but there's chemical warfare against other species, with lots of blowback effects.

We should transition to civilian topics as we help break the mood.  Lots to discuss, many tradeoffs.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Second City

Chicago / Djangocon / 2013

If you don't know your Chicago history, you may wonder at this name, but of course it refers to the great fire that burned down a lot of the city.  No one knows how the fire started, though a journalist for the Chicago Tribune did invent an urban legend about some Irish woman and her cow.  Blaming the Irish was the fashion those days.

Our architecture boat lady had it nicely broken down for us:  modern / international style buildings are the somewhat unimaginative rectilinear prisms that look like ice cubes, whereas post-modern buildings tend to be one-offs that reference their environment i.e. play off what's already there.  International style buildings fit in anywhere, as "standard skyscrapers".  Then were the older styles, such as Gothic and of course Art Deco.

The Hyatt seems somewhat postmodern in referencing the Art Deco buildings around it, but only vaguely.  As master of ceremonies, Steve is expected to host small gatherings.  Companies come to these conferences to have intimate talks that might lead to collaboration.  The Presidential Suite is an appropriate venue.  One takes this suite for the purpose of entertaining guests, not holing up in seclusion with one's computer.  Fortunately, Steve is a gregarious guy, or he wouldn't be in the conference producing business.

The NBC Building definitely looks Art Deco but was built long enough after that era to be categorized as post modern.  It alludes to Art Deco, and to Radio City Music Hall, in New York, in particular.

I took a workshop slot that had suffered a cancelation and filled the void with my usual brand of "crazy talk" (somewhat non-linear) featuring Tractor Art (an allusion to Turtle Art), Andragogy and Synergetics, with a somewhat tour guide approach.  You could say the architecture boat was an inspiration.  I had my pictures from that tour, from the previous night, fading in and out on screen as people awaited the talk.  I encouraged them all to join the conferences architecture boat tour on Thursday.  Patrick will have left by then and I'm now vectoring away from Chicago, so for Patrick and I, Sunday night was the best time for a boat tour.

Tall buildings are a way Egos communicate, but then there's a lot of discussion these days about what or who has an Ego.  The idea that a corporation is an Ego, or has one, is popular in some circles, whereas others are skeptical that something so institutional as a corporation could have an interior life, affections, emotions.

Or is it that human beings become the vehicle for Corporate Personhood?  The mystique of tall heavy buildings is that they outlast little humans, so if your identity manages to glom on to a tall building, then you're closer to immortality.  These identifications bring comfort to those with no other religion to fall back on.

During the workshop, a couple attendees worked on improving the installation options for Visual Python (which now includes wxPython) on Linux.  I was talking about what a great project that was, and they were giving me feedback:  if you want to be popular (1) installation needs to be easy and (2) the web site should not look ancient (even frequently updated web sites can look ancient).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Reading Dynamics

Some classrooms tell you not to doodle.  That may be damaging as right brains think in doodles (a shorthand more than insider neuroscience).  As a privileged teen in the Philippines, I was afforded the opportunity to take an Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics workshop.  We were encouraged to "doodle" by which I mean, to "organize a structured recall".  Chances are, in a lecture, you'll fall behind if you try to write stuff verbatim.  Take a tape recorder?  Serial access is slow.  Rather:  draw semantic networks, connect nodes with edges.  Doodle in other words.

The mathematics teacher on Youtube who has done the most for doodling lately is Vi Hart.  She mocks a situation all too familiar, a boring background math class with a foreground active mind, one that doodles, muses, connects the dots.  At Evelyn Wood, we just called it a "recall" for short.  After any reading, close the book, close your eyes, then "do a recall".  These and other techniques I learned were well worth my parents' money.  Princeton was a lot easier to keep up with.

An aspect of doodling is "drawing monsters".  Per Monsters University, I'm not saying monsters can't be endearing.  It's just that most of us can't draw very well without really committing to learning, but simple stick figure drawings, or silly-looking stuff, may work out anyway, if you just need comics or cartoons.

I'm not saying political cartoonists are necessarily bad drawers, or pro cartoonists of any type.  I'm saying the criteria are such that South Park cartoons are considered effective and appropriate because they to some extent imitate kid drawings and this cartoon features kids.  The Beavis and Butthead flavor of edgy cartoons also owes a lot to Mike Judge. Mad Magazine is not far in the background, with demented cartoons (ala Ren & Stimpy) in the foreground.

Political cartoons tend to feature "caricatures" which are exaggerated / monstrous renderings designed to communicate more ephemeral attributes of a character's role.  These memorable exaggerations get taken up by Francis Yates in her masterful The Art of Memory.  Especially in a pre-literate era with no television, large canvases with stunning action are the way to go.  Hieronymus Bosch makes an impression.  The Mandala is likewise designed to be remembered and carried about in your head.  The image is more like a map or a model.  It's there to remind you of the "karmic wheel or wheels".

All of which art history should serve as a warning to classroom teachers that instructions to "close your doodle books" during a history or literature or math session may be about as counter-productive as it gets.  One may call it "day dreaming" but that's sometimes just projecting, a fear of not being attended to resulting in a standard classroom practice that actually causes brain damage (or call it "damage to the learning process" -- sounds a lot softer).  You want day dreaming or reverie sometimes.  Knowledge "seeps in", requires "osmosis".

At my upcoming workshop, Leveraging Python, I'm going to recommend having doodle books handy; I hope to have some piled up for quick access.  They may use their laptops too of course, this being a geek conference where laptops may be open at all times.  But I want to transmit some of that Evelyn Wood goodness, even if these are adults.  I'm not one of those teachers who thinks it's too late if you're an old dog of some kind.  Lets see what kind.  Old dogs come in many varieties.

In freeing more engineers to think in a right brained sense, maybe we'll reap some benefits, such as better visualizations, stronger metaphors, more efficient learning techniques.  Cyberia (cyberspace) is cram-packed with various "creatures".  We acknowledge "viruses" but then what should we call software running normally?  "Daemons, processes..." we have a few words, a few images.  But the cartoons are still gruel-thin at the moment.  What Cyberia needs are more doodlers.