Saturday, April 21, 2018

Homework Requirements

I've been getting some push back regarding my contention that everyone in the intelligence community knows about Applewhite's retirement project to boost positive futurism, by teaming up with one of the best known, and most quirky, of futurists, Bucky Fuller.  His geodesic dome appeared in Kabul, Afghanistan and Khrushchev quickly recognized its utility going forward.

The domes also featured along the DEW line, which is how Fuller and the University of Toronto first connected, through their mathematics department.  That collaboration continued.

The CIA features throughout Fuller's later writings especially, at least attracting the eyeballs of the Russian services.  Whether DC political hacks, with pretensions to membership in the intelligence community, have actually done their homework is another question.

The shift in the center of gravity away from DC might have something to do with their missing the boat?  That trend started under Reagan-Casey.

Basically, if you don't know your American history well enough to understand about Fuller's contribution, you don't have enough perspective to serve in the CIA at any level.  That's how I'd translate my thesis into plain English.

A lot of diplomats and cultural attaches display Fuller tomes on their shelves, signalling to foreign counterparts that they're not dolts.  New England Transcendentalism is alive and well in diplomatic circles.

The symbols and signs used to exchange intelligence (SIGINT) make it fairly easy to identify the real deal versus wannabe IC types.  I've already indicated to RT what Americans such as myself are looking for, in terms of a pattern language or code.  You can dig that up in Medium if you like.

I feel these litmus tests are necessary given neocons have invaded DC and plunged it into disrepute.

The Russians have been friendly enough.  The intelligence community is of course global and gets along with itself better than in the old days, despite lies from corporate media.

Corporate persons (as in "corporate personhood") are not known for their smarts.  If "making money" is your only goal, then you stop making sense eventually, witness CNN.

I'm busy recruiting for the IC of tomorrow.  The Applewhites visited me in Oregon that time, helping to pass the torch to my generation.  Now a next generation is rising through the ranks.

Anyone reading my blogs and journals knows what that looks like.  Helping weed out the fraudulent wannabes is getting easier, as the reading public gradually wises up.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Banana Republic

Except for a very few brave hearts in the US Congress, the lawmakers caved, conceding their irrelevance to TV screenwriting.

The Reality TV people know how to take scripts through production and onto the world stage, without the slow unworkable process of churning out gigantic laws no one reads.

Gigantic laws are OK for budgets maybe, such as the latest wish list (please buy our bonds!), but when it comes to fast action, we don't want to think that hard.

The question is whether the military coup is complete.  Threats were issued, that more unauthorized actions might be necessary, to silence Congress once and for all.

Earlier presidents had expressed an interest in closing Gitmo.  The latest president, determined to appear strong, went along with the torture camp.  He also gave his mercenaries almost twice what they asked for. In exchange:  the right to dictate wars at will.

Of course "animal Assad" was literally true, not insulting.  Animals are cool, unless you're a yahoo (chuckle).  The missiles would be "smart" (i.e. dumb).  Indeed they were.  They helped cover up the Syrian chemical weapons program, or lack thereof, by destroying evidence.  Classic.

With Congress out of the picture (in terms of even rubber stamping attacks on nations), we've moved to a faster paced world.  Lawless warlords and nuclear weapons don't mix, so we'll need to get rid of lawless warlords, given the nukes will take a longer time to get rid of.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cowardly Congress

I've been enjoying the spectacle of the DC senators lashing out against Facebook.  Cambridge Analytica, which grew out of the UK psyops establishment, is exactly the kind of operation these senators sought to demonize and use to justify sanctions -- against Russians.

When it turns out the UK was being far more effective, something we already knew, there's no talk of sanctions.  On the contrary, it's now Zuckerberg's fault.  The UK, which burned the White House and helped with the assassination of Lincoln, is our friend.

The shrill rhetoric of these politicians, especially that joker-clown Lindsey Graham, the new Jesse Helms, is pretty disgusting.  I'm happy to heap scorn on their whole way of thinking.  Shoot first, ask questions later, and pretend that's somehow called leadership.

Speaking of disgusting, check out this horrible crap from the RAND corporation, by one of its shills.  More rushing to judgement.

The Winter Olympics was pretty scary to hawks in the US, as the two Koreas started acting more in unison.  The World Cup might be similarly disastrous.  The Pentagon jobs program, of supplying mercenaries to vultures feeding off the US corpse they failed to protect and defend, might be further jeopardized.

Speaking of the two Koreas, president Trump announced his interest in a meet up sometime in May.  With all these diversions, is that still on track?  I don't hear "journalists" asking that question.  Lets get on with that meet up.  Trump needs to meet with Putin again too, and he knows it.

I was encouraged when Trump called Assad an "animal" which is literally true.  I like animals, it's just humans I sometimes can't stand.  Such craven beasts.  Religion hasn't helped much.  They're bloodthirsty creeps and now can't wait for a next big fight, which somehow is supposed to solve something.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Rush to Judgement

What's become clear is the role of politicians in major media is to accelerate what look to be retaliatory measures against evildoers, but in a conditioned reflex kind of way.

Doing the Sherlock Holmes thing, where you investigate deeply, is a civilian police kind of response. One gets detectives on the case.  That's not the way to get wars started.  People need to be in an obedient mood, willing to have their judgements pre-digested.  Investigations are inconvenient, to say the least.

Rush to Judgement theater looks very scripted and the onlooker extras, the people in the stands, are just expected to cheer or boo.  They're not given time to really study the issues or evidence, or form an opinion.  Conversation and comparing notes is not important.

Ever since Hunger Games and other literacy campaigns, the spectators have become familiar with the fact that war depends on deception, as well as surprise.

A significant minority no longer thinks exactly as they're programmed to think.  When the media overplays its hand, they create another wave of thinkers who don't believe in immediate responses ala Pavlov.

I think the programmer war planners consider themselves very clever and put a lot of faith in their own ability to manipulate public opinion.  I'm not sure this hubris is justified, what with the credibility of warmongers already so exhausted, so stretched to the breaking point.

Their threats start to sound shrill and hysterical, as if they themselves don't believe them.

Anyone who thinks a massive bombing campaign is somehow the right response to any crime whatsoever is suffering from terminal ignorance.  But then we pay taxes to cover the paychecks of such people.  They get what amounts to welfare to hold their desk jobs.  Will they actually learn on the job and become less pathetic?  That's doubtful.

I'm going ahead with my Trucker Exchange Program as these devastated cities in the Middle East, if they're to recover at all, will do so thanks to lots of trucking.  I don't need to leave my post to spell out the concepts and widen the circle of readers.  Did I mention academic credit will be involved?

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Accelerating Acceleration

If you go back a ways, as I do, in terms of being aware of Future Shock by Alvin Toffler (he wrote other books too), then you recognize "accelerating acceleration" as one of his memes.

Physics folks like the notion, of speeding up the rate at which we're speeding up.  Just plain old speeding up (acceleration) is what we call "forcing" in that we may feel "compelled".  So when the force becomes more forceful, we may feel that even more.  There's a certain gravity to the situation.

However "force" outside of physics has many negative connotations.  One breaks sensitive and expensive equipment by forcing. What's most valuable is often most fragile, which brings me to a bridge to the Bucky stuff (as I'm wont to call it):  ephemeralization.

In one of my Medium essays, I link Fuller's "ephemeralization" to Toynbee's "etherealization", the latter being a famous historian. However I think it's time we connect both of those to Ray Kurzweil and his Law of Accelerating Returns.

First of all, lets simplify and admit that "accelerating acceleration" is still acceleration, no matter how you cut it.

Kurzweil, like Fuller, has lots of honorary doctorates, and more to the point, he has a narrative that's upbeat, relatively, and willing to take in some promising trends.  He sounds "less myopic than average" by Fuller's criteria, in that Fuller, like Kurzweil, found a lot of pessimism to be based in fake news.

Kurzweil quotes or at least cites Pinker in the above interview.  Another positive futurist, we might say.

Comprehensivists with both a big picture view, and a hopeful one, tend to stand out, as few manage to stay sources of believable good news.  People get cynical about all the "forcing" going on.

Lets review what "ephemeralization" means.  In Fuller's accounting, there's a metaphysical aspect to stuff in that we get better at doing stuff in accordance to our more fully developed intuitions about the whole show.  Putting these intuitions into words is far from easy, and is what science is all about in its perennial search for "laws" or in Buckyspeak: "generalized principles".

U = MP was the Synergetics equation, where P is for all things physical.  There's a way you can aspect shift back and forth, Necker Cube like, where it's all physical or all a dream, but we don't have to go there to understand how "more with less" is a consequence of deeper understanding.

So... Kurzweil, Toynbee, Toffler and Fuller are all pretty much saying the same thing.  Many of the exponential curves are in our favor, and speeding up may be a beneficial phenomenon.  In and of itself, acceleration might be good or evil, or the more usual mixture.

Remember that in physics, even slowing down, slamming on the brakes, is acceleration.  They may say "sudden deceleration" when being kind to laymen though.  Coming to a dead standstill, in terms of change rate, would be as shocking as Future Shock is being.

Now that I've described this tight inner circle, of thinkers on the same page, I want to point out a few differences. Fuller did not suppose that major breakthroughs in AI were critical.  He talks a lot about energy grids, which are supposedly getting smarter.  But he's not expecting humans to succeed in creating their machine learning peers.

What I told my class tonight was to be on the lookout for scams and hoaxes.  I invoke the same spirit of skepticism people use against belief in witchcraft, to question illusions.  Getting someone to believe they conversation they're having is with a machine that's almost human is easy, with a properly trained human.

The Turing Test is not supposed to be conducted in suspect circumstances, but that's just it.  Suspect circumstances are precisely those which get you to let your guard down.  AI has always had a carnival side-show-like flavor, like illusionists do, as sensationalists more generally.  Showing hitherto thought-to-be physical laws being violated can be crazy-making, as was Sophia, the Talking Robot.

I told my students once again about The Turk.  That's the irony around AI:  it was booted with a hoax.  As Ada was the first computer programmer, The Turk was the first to pass the Turing Test (yes, I'm being anachronistic), in the same way humans pass it every day, but impersonating a robot (like Sophia).

Kurzweil sees Machine Learning (which I've been teaching) as a force for good.  We're leveling the playing field with free and open source stuff.  So did Fuller's "design science revolution" actually come about with the invention of Linux and all the rest of it?  Ray thinks Open Source plays a big role in driving us forward towards his Singularity.  His Singularity, or Big Crunch is not meant to be a bad thing.

Anyway, I think a lot of people have a warped sense of where the technology is at this moment.  I'm far from all-knowing, but I recognize most melodrama on TV is science fiction, and more fiction than science a lot of the time.  Watching law enforcement shows, you'd think the authorities had truly awesome surveillance powers, but do they really?

Hollywood and fiction writers more generally have a stake in driving the plot at a somewhat thrilling pace, and getting people to suspend disbelief around technology is often the cheapest and easiest way to get a thrill.

In other words, I do think we need to stay vigilant with regard to bogus claims, especially around anyone's claims to have established a "strong AI" machine that passes the Turing Test.

What I do think is within reach are new forms of banter in which we talk to our devices about news, weather and sports in a sort of superficial, non-linear way, punctuated with jokes and new tangents.  Machine Learning will give us that.  We may lower the bar for the Turing Test accordingly, as the people we meet learn to dumb it down.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One (movie review)

I'd been looking forward to this, however reality was not supportive of my taking time out.  I did anyway, in addition to getting new rear tires for the long drive, a hair cut, and my taxes done by H & R Block.

The fact that I'm self employed and work hard for the public good (Global U, Trucker Exchange, Coffee Shops Network, better thinking in schools) means I'm someone the government would like to take out, financially if not in other ways.

I understand why Descartes tried to avoid the Inquisition.

Or so it feels.  What did I get for my money as a taxpayer?

In 1967 the State Department was at least close to authorizing a Macroscope pavilion.  Since then, the USG has been hijacked by Wall Street.

The Business Plot, warned against by Smedley Butler, then Eisenhower, finally succeeded. Miltary personnel, sworn to uphold the Constitution, have been reduced to mercenaries, whom I'm supposed to help pay for as they shill for business interests owned by shareholders around the world.

Speaking of sieges, which Descartes liked to study (he'd tour Europe, visiting them), a lot of people in Gaza were marching today, in protest of their ongoing imprisonment.  USSA media, very controlled by a six-headed corporate person and its loyalists, hasn't been very focused on that conflict.   We're fed a steady diet of vapid propaganda.

Media moguls can't resist exercising their power to self marginalize.  They go down with their ships.

With all that going on outside, in the so-called real world, why am I hunkered down towards the front of the Bagdad taking in a Spielberg movie?  Why am I so self indulgent? Duh, because I'm escaping, I guess.  Unfortunately, my mind wandered, especially during the big battles.

Does that dystopian future shown in the film makes me happier with my lot?  That's a purpose of theater, of tragedy especially.

The dark future portrayed in this film is about a species that has given up on itself and retreated into its collective unconscious.  They've substituted cyberspace for reality.  How different is that from our world today, right?  Media World is is continuous with Cyberia.

Coincidentally, I saw this movie as a double feature with The Man in the Machine, about Steve Jobs.  Glenn had me over for lunch and had this DVD from the library.

I'll review that documentary separately, but note the allusions to his demi-god status in Ready Player One.

Don't they know there's an off switch on those haptic suits?  I guess there isn't in most cases, which is why they cost so much.

In a way this world, dominated by Oasis and electronic toys, is another step towards civilization, as the only ones brandishing real guns are the obvious losers.  That point of view I understand.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fifteen Years

Margo Guryan/"16 Words"

Some channels are remembering this is a fifteenth anniversary, to the month, from when a massive PR campaign drove Americans to take out their frustrations against an enemy they'd been presented with.

The challenge was to shape the fury unleashed by 911, and turn it into something positive.  Fury and frustration.

Two of the documentaries I watched followed much the same story line, revisiting the build-up, from yellow cake from Niger to aluminum tubes from all over.  Elements within the British, German and Italian spy services, along with Iraqi expats, colluded with a DC cabal on pushing the war agenda forward.

I'd been following these stories at the time, as someone who'd always dreamed of such as Internet newsgroups and search engines.  I was like a duck to water, an early geek, weighing in as someone with a dog in the fight.

Biological weapons labs, the story sources... indeed, the two documentaries were so close on these facts that they probably came from agreeing authors.

One contained former ambassador Joe Wilson as a talking head, whereas the other featured Valerie Plame.  In both films, the reflective intelligence professionals are chagrined by how insistent the war hawks had become, about sticking with discredited stories.  But hadn't they promised a dramatic response, in retaliation for 911?

Before those two documentaries, I was looking at long documentaries about developments in Iraq, produced by Al Jazeera and Real Stories.  One of these also featured interviews.  Then we had another episode of CrossTalk on RT.  I notice Twitter is consistent in labeling VOA as at least in part funded by a government, not unlike these other networks.

What's been difficult to regain since 911 is much sense of a consensus reality.  Peter Sloterdijk writes eloquently (I read translations, also flowing) about our shared bubble going away, giving way to a more foam-like environment.

People shoulder more of the overhead of having whatever beliefs, not necessarily mirrored by geographic neighbors.  The internet has contributed to making such "foams" sustainable (in some cases), as "virtual nations" in their own right.

Don't expect any one institution or belief system to dominate the vista.  Expect many.  We learned of this more fragmented multi-channel reality from television, and enjoy the power a remote gives us, to select among offerings.

We have lots of reflection and reviewing to do.  I'm not telling anyone to turn away and forget the past.  On the contrary, lets let ourselves dive into a deeper examination of what's been happening, under a microscope, with help from a macroscope.

Lets get off the treadmill long enough to think back and take stock.  Why wait until you retire to ask what it all means, right?

That's what Fifteen Years is all about, reflecting, though I notice many channels can't afford the time. "Reflect about what?" They wouldn't know where to begin.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Crow Town

Crow Town

I may be at odds with some official narrative when I put my own spin on this sculpture, which I took pix of today in route to March for our Lives, a nationally syndicated shot across the bow of the NRA.

To me, this looks like a crow atop a plump-looking pigeon.  The pigeon sits atop a stack of books, which sit on pillows, which sit on a crate.  Except the pillows are likely sacks of grain.

The crate symbolizes Stump Town's beginnings in the forest economy, partaking of the lumber mill know how needed to build all these stately wooden homes.  Like RVs with hookups that can't move (no wheels), made of wood.  Very heavy.  Heated with forced hot air, using natural gas, refined oil, or electricity in some cases.

Then Portland became a port, albeit an inland one, but then then the Columbia is a pretty big waterway. Portland maybe doesn't get the mega-ships Seattle does, but there's enough commerce to support a class of literati and digerati.  That's the bookish layer, what makes us scholarly.

But then whereas if this were Italy we'd likely be a city of pigeons, more like Florence or Venice, we're in fact more a city of crows.  The crow is the top bird species in this chapter.  Crows are closer to ravens, more Poe like.  For that reason maybe Portland is more Gothic and northern than Mediterranean?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Founder (movie review)

I like having this review in sequence with Suburbicon (below) as both are set in the 1950s and roll forward towards our time.  The Founder is about Ray Kroc and the story behind the McDonald's franchise.

Deke came over to watch it with me.  I picked it up from Glenn at lunch over at his apartment.  This copy is from Multnomah County Library.  I'll return it tomorrow.

In the Quaker circles I frequent, we inherit from way back the idea of a utopian business, like a company town that really provides.  I think religious orders that make chocolate or beer, may seem idyllic in the same way, at least from a distance. There's no need to grow bigger.

Ray starts with his country club friends, getting retirees to park their savings in his new restaurants.  Then he hires mom and pop couples who get the vision and stick to the script.  However as the franchiser he's not meeting expenses nor has he the leverage he needs.

The McDonald brothers who started the whole show in San Bernardino had tried franchising but didn't see a way to maintain quality.  The solution, according to the movie, came not from Croc but the future CEO:  make sure you own the land, meaning you can yank the lease if a franchise fails to conform.

I think the "welcome McDonalds" scene set in Minnesota tells the real story.  Americans were extremely eager to have this restaurant chain spread.  Kroc was right to see it as more than just a drive in (they movie doesn't mention the drive through window innovation).  He wanted to create a "religion".  He invented branding in many ways.

Deke stayed to watch the panel discussion as a bonus feature.  The actors, producers, and director, as well as McDonald brother grandsons, get to weigh in and share their personal perspective on the making of this 2016 film.

Micheal Keaton, who plays Croc, explains his understanding of the American Dream as something much more modest and attainable than what has become the caricature:  making a huge fortune and joining the tiny inner circle of mega-rich and famous.  Making that a goal may more likely be a source of nightmares.

I'd like to see the spread of "company town" campuses, somewhere between universities and Martian bases (on Earth), in terms of product placing and high technology.  Would these towns feature assembly line style kitchens?  Maybe so, though not exclusively.  I recognize the need for efficiency and appreciate the role of automation.

This movie takes a "tip of the iceberg" look at the more current McDonalds, mostly in the Bonus panel discussion on the DVD.  Ronald McDonald, the trademarked clown, is nowhere mentioned, nor the children's hospital.  The meat doesn't look frozen.  The new shake machines get zero focus.

In other words, there's room here for many more movies, whether they're ever made is another question.  We could make movies forever on the material already stockpiled, yet new generations are anxious to "make history".

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Suburbicon (movie review)

Rather than watch the Academy Awards of 2018, I'm watching and reviewing movies, so don't call me disloyal to the industry.

I don't remember Suburbicon showing up on marquees in nearby zip codes, including mine.  However I found it on the New Releases shelf and Movie Madness and thought it looked interesting.

The film is set in the stereotypical post-WW2 burbs, the new utopian paradise where white people fled to be with their own kind.  A black family moves in and at the same time, a crime occurs next door.  The neighborhood is already going downhill. 

The neighbors, jerks that they be, start trash talking, building fences and otherwise wrecking the neighborhood, in an effort to reject this shared heritage as Americans.

Against this background, of whites being jerks, the crime next door turns out to be the tip of some soap opera melodrama that only gets worse, turning wickedly ugly (more than daytime TV would usually show) and heightening the contrast, between a wholesome black family, and these ugly suburban Americans.

I'd say the genre is dark comedy and satire, a send-up of a certain demographic. 

Thanks to talk shows on daytime TV, audiences are a lot more savvy today (I'm thinking of Oprah and Donahue, the mom and dad of a specific boob tube generation).  True, Americans are still herded around by cowboys, taught to fear Russians on cue, but maybe not as much as in the 1950s and 1960s?

The protagonist is the young son (of Matt Damon's character), who befriends the black boy next door, only to be told later by his dad to cut off the relationship, by a king of the hill master of depravity.  Oh, and by the way we're sending you away to a military academy for your own good.

In the last scene, we see the relationship restored (with the black kid, not the dad).

It'll be hard to blame any more crimes, or nasty social trends, on these wholesome newcomers in particular, but as we know, those into shame and blame don't usually see their blame as unbecoming.  The suburbs still come across as somewhat ugly, when it comes to attitudes.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Rising Living Standards

I'm talking selfishly about mine (my living standards) during some of this post.  Earlier though, at Wanderers, Linus Pauling House on Hawthorne, I spoke with a former World Game player about Ho-ping ("Hoping"), a book by Medard Gabel regarding feeding the world's refugees (a term that's all embracing for tonight's purposes).

My lifestyle has been abetted by Youtube and other services, such that I'm able to engage in scholarship to a degree even Princeton could not provide in the film strips dimension.  Firestone and other libraries, had way more books.  I spent time in the Math Library as well.  But Youtube is a brilliant collection, getting better every day.

I'm wondering why anyone would waste time in a high school library if they could stay home and take advantage of the comforts of a home with internet access, a maker space... many privileged kids seem eager to herd into schools when the best resources sit unused.  That's a lot of driving, a lot of gas.

Anyway, I won't angst about it.  Schools are important for a lot of reasons and a healthy combination of homework and schoolwork is what we're all after, where work is a kind of schooling, where we continue learning, lifelong.

Ed Lansdale and Averell Harriman were two of the interview subjects I was spending time with recently.  General Lansdale, like me, lived in the Philippines during a difficult transition (I was there under martial law).  He had two tours of duty in Vietnam, at a time when imperialists like Winston Churchill were eager to return to the status quo ante.  The US did not yet think of itself as a colonial power, but was learning to move in that direction under the tutelage of former imperialists.

Averill Harriman likewise had responsibilities in Indochina, and the Youtube I watched focused on his views following World War Two.  He wasn't eager to see his government assume imperial responsibilities. Lansdale didn't lean that way either.

The Wanderers guy and I talked about the Fuller Centennial in San Diego, organized by GENI.  We don't hear a lot about GENI these days, the Global Energy Network lobby.  This set of engineers wants to continue with the global electrification program, and not just in the sense of One Belt One Road.  These blogs talk about it some:  the Bridge to Nowhere project, all about rural electrification along the shores of the arctic rim.  Alaska would be investing in HVDC by now had GENI not been derailed by neo-somethings.  Well, maybe not, who knows.  I'm not the electrical engineer in this picture.

World Game was a way of reframing the global predicament in such a way as to reward syntropic strategies over entropic ones.  The thermodynamics of thermonuclear war are such that game theorists with a more evolved understanding moved towards deescalating while fomenting global business, a competitive game with collaborative elements.

However the left behind nationalists did not necessarily see where this logic was taking us and reacted by demanding elective wars.  Which they got.  The reframing was not 100% effective in other words.  We may debate whether it was effective enough.

Just a few minutes ago, I was sucking stock market stats through a free API, the better to plot them using open source tools.  If you've managed to hop on board the bandwagon, you have the ability to harness machine learning to your own ends, which may be quite benign.  I've used the LinkedIn platform to cue venture capitalists to their opportunities, when it comes to making philanthropic giving into an arcade style sport.  We already have Video Poker and such attractions.  Gambling is legal if the beneficiary is a sovereign state.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

GST Meetup

I've been having breakfasts with Terry Bristol, president of ISEPP, regarding his Engineering Philosophy meme, by which he means a brand of pragmatism customized to give engineers (social and otherwise) a context wherein a notion of moral responsibility is not at all an oxymoron.  Engineers are moral agents.

What Terry is up against is fatalism, though it's called other things: an ideology of zero culpability (impunity) because the outcome is foreordained.  Some brands of Protestantism embrace fatalism, which becomes an excuse, basically, for sitting on one's hands and doing nothing, in the face of suffering, because the outcome is predetermined.

Determinism and fatalism go together, I think that much is clear, but then we think of "fatalism" more as a superstition, whereas, until recently at least, the determinist, like the materialist, was considered the most no-nonsense type of thinker in the room.  Indeterminism was considered too romantic and/or Pollyanna.

A kind of popularism kicks in here, wherein fatalism combines forces with Malthusianism and thermodynamics to where, since entropy always increases (2nd law), the world is ipso facto going to hell, and the best we might wish for is (A) a Second Coming and an end to life as we know it and/or (B) a better hell for us than for them, where "them" is the competition (the Eastern Orthodox?).

Those who see hell as the final outcome regardless, are not averse to accelerating in that direction, which is where WMDs etc. come into the picture.  Humans will spontaneously use massively destructive weapons against themselves given they're eager to accelerate towards one preferred hell over another.  Bombing is seen as a form of steering.

Resistance to fatalism comes in many forms, but comes most effectively from engineers (social and otherwise) in a position to offer alternative chemical and/or nuclear reactions that locally lower entropy for humans aboard Spaceship Earth.  Lowering local entropy is not against thermodynamics as local open systems are free to import heat from their surroundings.

Gibbs and Helmholtz both give us notions of "free energy" meaning energy available to spontaneous chemical reactions.  Spontaneously decreasing entropy happens, for example, when we charge a battery with solar panels and/or windmills.  The increasing entropy is happening in the sun (the energy source), which is running downhill towards its future fate.  We still have room for a deterministic future for the local star, and for Earth (heat death).
Since the Sun is not very massive by stellar standards, it will never get hot enough in the center to produce nuclei much heavier than carbon and oxygen. These elements will collect in the center of the star, which will then shed most of its red giant envelope -- creating a planetary nebula -- and emerge as a hot white dwarf star.  [ ]
The difference between syntropists and entropists has to do with their different understandings of what science allows.  The fatalists see themselves blamelessly steering towards a preferred hell in a zero sum game, whereas the syntropists are more interested in backing away from hell and focusing on win-win solutions (Terry is in this camp).  Both have their own brands of mathematics, used to recruit new followers.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Black Panther (movie review)

Deke and I thought winter had missed its last window and no snow was in the offing.  Man were we wrong.  So far we've enjoyed two days of white fluff, today more dramatic than yesterday, and they say more is coming.

Given the whole city shuts down when any snow happens (Portland wimps out, doesn't have the cold muscles Minnesota does), I thought maybe Bagdad's matinee showings of Black Panther might be somewhat lightly attended.  Wrong again.  The place was packed.  Deke and I picked interesting seats, balcony throughway, plenty of leg room, not cushy.

Wonder Woman and Black Panther have much in common.  Both are from hidden worlds, relatively peaceful, yet highly disciplined, and metaphysically advanced.  The Wakanda culture has control of psychedelics, in addition to a huge supply of Unobtainium, called Vibranium, which they've obtained in abundance (in metaphor, a wise spirit, rare on earth).

In both cases, a nasty degraded outer world, ours, crashes into their utopian sphere, and in both cases a spy features, as one who makes it through to the hidden Valhalla.

In Black Panther, it's the CIA white guy, someone already in on the secret, but only partly. An Australian counterpart perks his interest in finding out more of the backstory.  He gets his wish by putting himself in harm's way for a Wakandan, and thereby comes within their sphere.

Both the Amazonians and the Wakandans have to grapple with the nasty business of trying to help a nasty world.  The Amazonians see this as a mission whereas Wakanda has tried hard to stay out of it.  I'm left wondering how much the average Wakandan ever learns about Korea.  I suspect the fact of an outer world is kept a secret among the ruling caste. On the other hand, its military seems ready to fly around the planet... Compassion for common humanity is what leads the rebels to willingly share their Vibranium.

Now that Marvel has planted so much imagery, one might hope for more backstory.  I'm not sure why the Oakland guy ordered destroying the psychedelics, a sign of less control.  If it were easy enough to get growing again, why the melodrama.  If that was really the last, only crop, then are they out?  No one seemed all that worried about it.  Lots of loose ends.

If you want to see all the movie snippets possible make sure you stay until the very end.  I'm talking about well after the speech at the UN, where we get a glimpse of some whole new character, another outsider, making his debut.  Like I said, the film raises way more questions than it answers.

Given the South African vibe, I can understand where Marvel might be coming from with Wakanda, aka Ubuntu and high technology. The promise of positive futurism in Africa is still there, even with the AIDS epidemic (about which many movies are still being made).  Cities that are fun to live in and aren't violence prone, like Oakland, will benefit from a true valuing of what the geek economy is bringing into the equations.  I'm not saying Ubuntu is a weapon.  On the contrary, the King of Wakanda was not promising to share weapons at the UN, just advanced civilian stuff (like Ubuntu).

The idea of superheros and superhumans hearkens back to Gnostic tales of the angels, some of which made it into the Bible.  Satan's people were lightyears ahead of humans, like ETs with advanced civilizations.  Through their eyes, one sees through the eyes of a misanthrope sometimes, and this paradoxically aids human intelligence.  We come to appreciate our weaknesses, to marvel at ourselves as uber-weak.  This helps us grow.  Comic books have always helped people appreciate religious teachings, even if the pantheon is often pagan in the sense of "some unbelievable system".

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What is "Work" in GST?

I was blessed with a visit from Sam Lanahan today.  He was fresh from a concrete convention, which had worn him out.

Turns out Flextegrity has applications as a replacement for rebar.  Asian markets may understand it best, given they're in surge mode while a wartime economy (what the US enjoys) of necessity involves throttling back (applying the brakes, in other words). By Flextegrity I mean to include C6XTY. See the newest version of Sam's book.

Mostly I'm cramming on statistics, going back to high school days and relearning about how sample variance and population variance each need their own formula.  I'm moving into linear equations territory (y = wx + b and back propagation by means of gradient descent i.e. multi-variable calculus and machine learning) not because I expect to become a data scientist, but because I'm a Python instructor.  Like a piano teacher, these are the pieces I'm expected to play and relay.

Remember, statistical (stochastic) algorithms were developed in the social sciences and ported over to thermodynamics.  If "entropy" still has the flavor of "political chaos" there may be reasons why.  Sometimes "entropy" is a positive, as in cryptography, as true randomness proves problematic in a deterministic universe.  A legitimate source of chaos proves a godsend.  By God's grace alone are we liberated from our own robot-hood.  Automaticity rules, a sin which can and will be used against us.

The many jargons (shop talks) bleed in both directions across their bordering membrane barriers, I can hear Peter Sloterdijk intoning, in native German.

For example: energy the way the physicists mean it, as work, has to mean something in terms of economics (having a job, or jobs) as well.  Take the Latin word "tractatus", a root for "traction" "tractor" and even "tract" as in "opera" or "opus" i.e. a dramatic "work" (Gilbert & Sullivan).

People work hard to star in soap operas (an expression of their wish to remain clean?).  The meaning of "work" is not a constant, in that "joules and calories" vie with "dollars and yen" to express work's value.  "To keep up this rate of energy expenditure (horse power), I'll need to be fed" -- that's just physics.  Capitalism fantasizes not being responsible for human welfare thanks to robots.  But what can robots really do?  That's an ongoing exploration.

As general systems theory (GST) authors (Kenneth Boulding etc.) would sometimes talk about:  current and currency have much in common, in terms of the cyber metaphors applied.  Both dollars and electrons "flow" and without a steady flow of dollars (US, Canadian...), or other denomination, the "machinery" grinds to a standstill.  Cash liquidity is like oil:  grease the wheels.  We have our ways of repaying favors.

A big problem (challenge) around World Game is ivory tower types devise the ground rules and spin out these board games, theoretically playable. However, given still emerging facts about human psychology, animal psychology, physics, other sciences, it turns out these games aren't always that playable as envisioned.   The ivory tower, full of know-it-alls, turns out to be not so all-knowing after all, an old story.

In practice, the rules need to be tweaked, if not overhauled, and pretty soon we're in some unknown territory where in people draw upon their own moral compasses regarding what's ethical.  They're disobedient.

This state of affairs is associated with higher entropy and "corruption".

People are not following the edicts properly.  They're in violation.  A scandal.  History then turns into a procession of scandals, as the game architects continue to spin out one unplayable game after another.

Friday, February 09, 2018


MAGA zines

MAGA = Make America Great Again.  I've always admired how this admission of un-greatness became a patriotic slogan.  Quite a spin.

A question is, how would a globalist such as myself seek to rekindle nationalist pride in these United States of America?  Why not take it on as a challenge, even if only as a hypothetical?

I'd go back to the 1980s and focus on the great American Buckminster Fuller's prescient take on corporate personhood in Grunch of Giants. As a futurist, he was pretty good at anticipating memes.  He also proclaimed the innocence of the American people while consigning an obsolete version of the USG to the ash heap of history.

Skeptics will point to Fuller's big mistake: he anticipated a "design science revolution" that would rescue us from immanent catastrophe and put the world on a better track, one involving engineering over politics, General Systems Theory (GST) over LAWCAP (i.e. lawyer-capitalist) economics.

I'd counter that the design science revolution indeed occurred, and is continuing, but was branded as the Open Source Revolution, with Portland, Oregon a capital.  OSCON (O'Reilly's Open Source Convention) is coming back this year, after twice trying to get away from the Oregon vortex.

A lot of journalists maybe think said open source revolution was a bust, judging from how the Dot Com Bubble left so many investors in the lurch.  A few made out like bandits, but the narrative, about Linux and free software dominating the world, seemed to have fizzled.  The documentary Revolution OS provides good background.

I'd disagree with this analysis.  So-called capitalism runs atop these design science layers, even if LAWCAP's bookkeeping fails to properly value their worth.  Where would we be without Python or NodeJS?  That's a rhetorical question.

The new USA operating system (USG prototype) that's emerging in our midst already contains a hard reset in the 1980s and hasn't been on board with the Grunch in more recent pre-emptive, unilateral invasions and naked attacks.  Imperialism is for the birds.

The transparently mercenary activities of those abandoning the US Constitution is making history for sure.

I'm not claiming this story-line is going to be popular or well-known. That was more of an exercise in consistency.

The new USA is not at war with Iran and seeks nuclear disarmament.  Let the LAWCAP puppets say otherwise.  Their credibility is already shot in my book.

They lied about Vietnam.  They lied about Iraq and Afghanistan.


Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Post (movie review)

I waited until Superbowl Sunday (LII i.e. 52) to think back on this movie. My main takeaway was "well crafted" in terms of summarizing the issues and relationships and adding to CR (consensus reality) in the form of a Spielberg movie, with big name stars.

The release of the Pentagon Papers, as they came to be called, is important to tackle and retell.  I'm glad to see the movie industry rising to the occasion.

McNamara tells Graham, the publisher, that the Pentagon Papers are not for the present, but for posterity. We're explaining in retrospect how the American War came to be lost by its losers.  Those living in the Nixon Era should keep fighting to win, as that was their patriotic duty at the time.  McNamara wanted to keep his top secrets for the present.

Confusing, to have time machines bumping into each other like this.  Are we allowed to seize the day?  Lots of young people were dying, or evading the draft, or being held as political prisoners.  The hypocrisy of fighting for something called "freedom" overseas made for plenty of cognitive dissonance.

How does one consciously choose to "live in the past".  It's something one does out of habit.  When awareness expands, there's no going back by simply willing it.  The cognoscenti in the District of Columbia now knew too much to just sit on it.  They had a role in the immediate present.  Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, has to break with McNamara and do her job.

The women have to explain to the men that they're not just taking orders or accepting the status quo they've been handed.  A sense of women pursuing their trajectories, building on past gains, pervades the storytelling.

In our day and age, we have another president embroiled in melodrama around secrets. Should they be published and what do they mean?

Humans have been becoming increasingly skeptical that they're but extras in power games engaged in by various insider cabals. Transparency in the courts, and in government, was a way of countering the willful opacity of oligarchs. 

Democracy was to be our leap forward.  People remember that and bring it up a lot during these important years, in this script at least.  The Cold War was being fought in the same vein, with the USA an ethical champion.  The other side, the enemy, might be deceptive and manipulative, but "our side" was definitely about serving the people. FDR helped inspire such sentiments.

Daniel Ellsberg and company decided their higher duty was to shed light on the hidden "secondary process" rather than remain complicit in a cover up.  This movie clearly shows his motivations, and underlines how widely they were shared.  Nixon's cabal was beginning to unravel.

Dr. Tag, my Palestinian friend, invited me to take in this film with her.  She accomplished the impossible: finding a parking space near the theater, that time of night.  I'd more or less given up and was thinking about how we might reschedule for another day. 

Then we went to Henry's Tavern, the Weinhard brewery's flagship establishment, to discuss the film and its present context.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Number Stuff

Wow, or "wuf" ("woof"?) as Arnie would say (that's Dr. Arnold Mindell, PWI PDX) regarding the fast turnaround between David's and my experience, between asking a question and David's finding just the right Youtube, only recently published (like two days ago).

The question was this: we know regarding Phi, the Golden Ratio of 1.1618..., that its reciprocal is equal to itself minus 1. So: for what other numbers is it the case that |1/N - N| == {1, 2, 3...} i.e. some integer.

Did I get that right?  Yeah that seems so: check 3.16 above.

David had stumbled on √10±3.  Switch to Python:

>>> from math import sqrt
>>> N = sqrt(10) + 3
>>> N
>>> 1/N
>>> N-6

You'll see some floating point inaccuracies here, but the idea is clear.  Looking at the other number:

>>> N = sqrt(10) - 3
>>> N
>>> 1/N

Again, the absolute distance on some number line, between N and its reciprocal 1/N, is precisely 6.  We're calling these the Metallic Ratios, punning of Golden.  

Each sigma (Metallic Number) is equal to the negative of its own reciprocal. That's true if we go with 3±√10, as -(3-√10) = √10 - 3.

>>> from decimal import Decimal
>>> Decimal(10).sqrt() + Decimal('3')
>>> N = Decimal(10).sqrt() + Decimal('3')
>>> N
>>> 1/N
>>> 1/N - N

Here I'm showing off the option to use a standard library decimal type instead.  There's a gmpy2 out there as well, that will perform similarly, in terms of extending the realm of precision using base 10 representations.

How many decimal points you need is something you can specify, the default being 28, quite a bit more precision than faster floating point provides.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Buddhist Heritage

3 generations of isotropic icosa space fillling array

I posted another essay to Medium, a sprawling network of interlinking self-published writings, with an easy interface.  I've posted quite a few "stories" over the last several months.

Hey, just got a call from a Friend in the Meeting, wondering how I was doing.  Thanks guy!

My essay plays up the Buddhist heritage in my neighborhood as a prelude to discussing Bucky Fuller's critique of the "three dimensions," the holy trinity of elementary school math.  "Co-dependent origination" suggests neither height, width, nor even depth come to the table alone, independently. They need each other too much to ever come apart, even conceptually.

This ain't the first time I've practiced tilting at the "3D windmill" and indeed I've squandered many hours investigating "dimension talk" under different lighting.  This was the first time I fashioned a link to a core Buddhist concept perhaps.  I'm wondering what the consequences will be.

I told the Meeting guy that I'd dutifully appeared for a follow-up doc appointment today, only to discover I was a week early.  There's nothing especially urgent about my medical condition at this point, so I'm content to wait.  "Expectant waiting" Quakers say, as they sit in stillness, waiting for the future to be revealed.  We know it will be.

Last night I taught my Python class for four hours, then stayed up reading more Dahlstrom (English professor, WW1 memoirs) and Sloterdijk (German philosopher).  Today I teach another Python class, only for an hour, to some eager middle schoolers.  I need to drive to that one.

Weeks ago, I'd notice huffing and puffing a lot more, walking from my parked car, up the hill to the public school.  Shortness of breath had become an issue.  I was monitoring, but not making the requisite appointments for a professional diagnosis.

Delay is want landed me in the ER. The upside of that strategy is I got a lot of state of the art treatment in one fell swoop.  At this point, shortness of breath is not an issue.  I even ran a few blocks, not a problem, trying not to be late to my non-existent appointment.

Today I spent a lot of time listening to Marshall McLuhan related tapes, or watching videos of the man.  He talked a lot about television and its impact, in an age before the Internet, which latter is a synergy of TV and telephone.  Telephone is point-to-point whereas TV was at first broadcast.  Nowadays we "dial in" to get our media "on demand".

Co-dependent origination is a broad concept, saying basically nothing has "self nature" in terms of existing wholly self-sufficiently, independently of all else.

Our accepted orthodoxy in mathematics is that height, width and depth are independent dimensions that may be conceived of in isolation.  No one seriously questions this dogma, including me, as I recognize the utility of XYZ.  That doesn't mean we're prevented from conceiving alternatives.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What is Socialism?

Socialist Symbol

The short answer is: I have no idea. My fancy Princeton education only served to sensitize my ear to the "meaning as use" paradigm, meaning I need to study a given language game rather extensively before I have a sense of its meanings, should I ever develop an ear for said language.

Any randomly chosen pair of people, asked to talk about "socialism" will likely talk past one another, and neither may realize it.

Consider a sibling question: what is capitalism? I have a wildly divergent meaning up my sleeve, a use in contrast with nationalism.  Nationalists see the world in terms of various nations, vying for world domination.  Capitalists see capitals instead, city-states, like Tokyo and Madrid.  Capitalism is the world game of world capitals, some of them sister cities.  No one but me has that meaning for that word.

I'll define socialism like this:  I work for the public half the year, and for myself the other half.  People talk that way about taxes:  given the government took X% of my total gross, I worked for the government Y% of the fiscal year.  Fine, let's say it that way.

What makes this system "progressive" is that we all chip in for the common good only 50% of the time.  Whether you're a neurosurgeon or bartender or stand-up comic, you get half your life to do whatever you like whereas the rest of the time you're engaged in community service.

Now I'll get theological on ya and suggest that God is a socialist.  Ideally, you're acting in accordance with God's will half the time, whereas the other half you're given over to tempting alternatives, working in ways that might prove purely selfish, but from your point of view were worth a try.

Working for God feels a tad totalitarian, a little bit Big Brotherish. Subduing your own will to serve the all-powerful is like that.  Exercising your own ego feels rebellious in contrast.  You're going out on some limb, by choice.  Half the time.

Standard theology says God has forgiven us our Free Will in that without it, we couldn't choose to obey, so our coupling our will to God's would be an empty gesture. Thanks to our ability to stray from God's path, we partake of the divinity of Angels.

This must be a kind of Religious Socialism, not necessarily Christian but neither anti-Christian either.  That's fortuitous as one way people like to attack socialism is by calling it godless, meaning they consider it to have no ethical compass.  Somehow capitalism is supposed to have one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Network Theories

Jeff Presents

Sorry for the dry title folks.  I tire of the journalistic headline, today known as click bait. Lets keep it low key, yet warm to the topic, as network theories (lots of math) are both interesting in themselves, and have real world applications.

Jeff Goddard shared with Wanderers about his work for LittleBird, at one time a free-standing company, but with a tool that makes sense more as one in a suite, if you're a big company seeking to maximize the potential of social media.

The Twitter API has many powerful and unique attributes and is a great place to start.  We might think of LittleBird as living at the headwaters.

Suppose I want to find the top most influential people around the topic of Climate Change.  Jeff ran that search for us, also Beer, Python, and a few others.  Terry Bristol, author of Give Space My Love, wondered how these search tools might help with book sales.  Jeff had some suggestions.

@DekeBridges was there, asking good questions.  He's also the man behind @LeadersBest.  Deke is our most influential Wanderer by far, from the standpoint of Twitterverse.

So what is LittleBird? Jeff has poured in the hours, using Clojure and ClojureScript, to implement those network theories, or shall we say algorithms, to query Twitter through its API in high volume (more than a single developer account would afford, times ten thousand).

The information one obtains through the API is the same info tweeters agree to share by virtue of establishing a Twitter account.  

It's not like those using this "back door" have any special access to otherwise hidden data.  Rather, they have the ability to aggregate the data more successively (at higher volume), as a "front door" individual user, using human eyeballs, is like a 300 baud modem compared to a T1, relatively speaking, and using tech terms most will have forgotten by now.

LittleBird was acquired by Sprinklr, adding to the tools brought to bear on behalf of clients seeking to manage their cyber-presence and/or media campaigns through this company. 

We did a test run using "Python" as our topic and, sure enough, the tweeters percolating to the top were mostly people I recognized.  I showed up as influential regarding Python when we ran @thekirbster individually, but that doesn't mean I'd make it to the top thousand. 


Sunday, January 07, 2018

Jane (movie review)

Jane is showing only on weekends at 4:10 at this neighborhood theater.  Several families with young girls were in the line ahead of us.  The theater serves alcohol after 5:30, so there's not much of a window for a kid-friendly movie.

I say "kid friendly" but then it's a classic nature film in many ways, following the career of Jane Goodall, piecing together footage lovingly taken by her former husband and co-worker, one of the great nature photographers.  That means lots of death and sickness, as well as birth and cute creatures.

The best way to show how humans and other animals have much in common is to intertwine their stories.  Jane learns about motherhood from observing the chimps, then becomes a mother herself. We watch her boy grow through the same lens.

Jane herself anchors the narrative with her retrospective accounts, responding to an off-camera interviewer.  We also spend time in the Serengeti, away from the chimps in Tanzania.

A sense of destiny pervades, in that Jane always dreamed of working with animals in the heart of Africa, and never let go of this driving fantasy.  Her dreams literally came true.  The animals needed her as their advocate among the humans.  She devoted herself to public speaking on their behalf.

Music by Philip Glass and an ongoing montage of exotic insects reminds us of our alien planet and our special responsibility, as aware humans, for the creatures it harbors.

Jane came to Portland a couple times, as a part of the ISEPP lectures.  She's made a difference in many lives, mine included.