Thursday, June 21, 2018

Isle of the Dogs (movie review)

I got to see this with Alexia, my late wife's first daughter, nowadays living with her dad and in the process of a career change.  She rarely gets any days off.  I haven't seen her since our trip to visit her younger sister in December of last year.

Isle of the Dogs is a puppet-based animation.  I've watched at least one movie critic's Youtube and agree with his observation:  the timing and rhythm are notable and interesting.  When I found out the director was the same guy who did Budapest Hotel, I thought that made perfect sense.

Isle of the Dogs is billed as a comedy.  I'd call it dark comedy.  The movie critic said the Megacity of the future was dystopian, but it didn't seem all that terrible to me.  People were enjoying life and we saw some semblance of democracy, though it was mostly for show.  I didn't see any homeless or tent cities.

A dynasty of dog-haters was in control and used the office to push an agenda that would obliterate all dogs, first by exiling them to like a concentration camp, followed by plans for genocide.

The Science Party is against genocide and has already found a cure for what ails these dogs in the first place.  The dynasty suppresses this knowledge and continues feeding pubic terror of dogs.  One sees the cats have a subtle role in this program, though it's not spelled out.  The cats never say a word.

What's interesting is how languages are dealt with.  The dogs, such as Harvey Keitel, speak their English perfectly complete with accents and dialects, while the humans speak Japanese, without subtitles.  The little boy who goes to rescues Spots, his guardian, is unintelligible to the dogs.  However he and Spots are connected by short range Blue Tooth and do understand each other.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Chaotic Times

I'll wade into the swamp a little and talk about the recent meetups twixt top politicos in their respective nations, namely the G7 in Canada, and Singapore events.

The World Cup is going on now as well.  Rosalie tells me the USA team didn't make the cut, no not a boycott, just didn't qualify.  The sports bars around here are still crowded with soccer fans however.

In summary, that's my own picture of what's going on.  The picture of some superpower moralizing about bad guys and imposing sanctions is getting old, with systems needing to inter-gear and get on with keeping wheels turning.

There's no time to play these games.  India needs its oil from Iran.  South Korea is tired of war games against the northern half of the same peninsula.  The 1900s status quo all seems too silly.

However, to bolster the public perception that political leaders are indeed the leaders, and not the chaotic forces of general systems, there's an instinct to go along to get along.  The politicos need to ride the horse in the direction it's going, as that way they're seen to lead.

The Americans have elected someone allowed to be crazy and unpredictable, which is what the recipe calls for in chaotic times.

World events in the internet age do not bottleneck through customary "halls of power" and yet people in nice suits with lots of accessories need to strut their stuff anyway.  The public figureheads do a kind of dance, put on a show, that helps the rest of us answer a perennial question:  "what time is it, really?"  The politicos (professional scapegoats) help close the loop in various feedback cycles.

"Chaos" used to mean something bad, back in the days before we learned about dynamical systems.  Now we know that rigid rhythms mean rigor mortis.  The politicos show signs of life now and then, to keep from seeming too scripted, too programmed.  I get it.  Celebrities do the same.

We have lots of work to do, around refugees especially (I use the term broadly, to encompass the domestic unsheltered).  Eugene, Oregon is investing in tiny houses.  I don't know if Micheal Sunanda got one.  He and I have lost touch.

My plan to work with MercyCorps to showcase the latest and greatest in emergency housing, somewhere near PDX, a tourist attraction, may be showing signs of gaining traction.  EPCOT West we call it.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Fire Starters

A theme in these blogs lately, has been global IC work (IC = integrated circuits) aimed at keeping violence contained, even as weapons makers stoke the fires.  Keeping old resentments alive is Satan's chief occupation, we all know that.

However, the futurists of the 1900s did a pretty good job sketching out a world Beyond War, like on Star Trek.  Humanity still faces existential threats, like the Borg, but seems far less hell bent on self destruction.  All the shiny new technology has cheered the humans, past the point where they wanna "press the button".  They'd rather live to see the 24th Century and onward.

However, a lot of humans, some with means, are not persuaded that the End Times should be further postponed.  They've put a lot of eggs in their End Times baskets, and are now wanting to see all those efforts pay off.  Before it's too late.

I'm thinking it's getting to be too late, but the fire starters are still at it, getting more brazen and visible in proportion to their sense of panic.  Of course it's oxymoronic to be panicking because the world is not ending, but that's a corner the End Timers paint themselves into.

What feels like a loss of power to many a political leader, is actually the gradual abandonment of various circuits that have carried significant voltage until now.  Attempts to galvanize large populations with a war fighting spirit is what's proving increasingly unlikely to pan out.

I'm guessing the "world domination" meme used by Geekdom is worth inserting at this point.  The "new world order" (NWO) was expected to be political and to have something to do with banking. For certain Christians, we would also be meeting some Antichrist pseudo-hero, a false leader of sorts.

However, with the emergence of cloud services, crypto-currencies, and social media, we're facing a NWO of a different flavor, sponsored by FANG and Microsoft, Chinese giants, Russian research firms.  They code and promulgate coding.  Is this the Borg?  There's lots of engineering.  The culture is global, because the internet is global, and because world problems are world problems.  "Thinking globally" is not a "nice thing to do" (or is it evil?), it's just what makes sense.

The way I'd put it is:  desovereignization is already far advanced, something I believed in the 1990s, but it's not resulting in any great showdown or political climax, more just a lot of vacuous hyperbole.  The atmospherics are not one of End Times.  The sense is more business as usual and Tower of Babelish.  We're not all on the same page (so what else is new?).  We're acting out in different theaters, following different scripts.  We're OK with that.  Multiple namespaces co-exist.

Those who focused more on "context" than "content" had the right idea I think.  We're still struggling with deep misery, hellish conditions, but our impulse is not to give up and blow it all up.

Ushering in some nuclear apocalypse, perpetrated by the Nuke Nations against the others, is not that easy when the IC is quick to learn of any secret plans.  How were you planning to trick us again?  We learn from your mistakes.

Monday, June 04, 2018

An OCEAN of BS

Voodoo Economics

I'm making a pun in the title.  OCEAN is / was one of those personality test thingies.  Dime store psychology books (thinking of Lucy, the Doctor is In) traffic extensively in these "discover yourself" batteries of questions, so-called surveys.

Answer thirty questions, and voila, the Machine Learning model lets you know all kinds of stuff about your category.  Better than horoscopes!

I'm not saying personality profiling is sheer bunk, quite the opposite.  Over time, the analysts learn to recognize patterns.  Lets assume those surveyed are taking the test in good faith.

In some fairly convenient on-line venue, such as Facebook, between games of Farmville and that other one I actually played, one fills out some intriguing survey, an OCEAN test.  One's answers go out the back door to a paying Facebook customer.

What especially pissed people off is the customer also discovered who your Facebook friends were.  How embarrassing.  Now they'll target everyone I know.  Pretty soon, we'll all be talking about the Kardashians.

Those of you up on your political layer gossip already know I'm talking about Cambridge Analytica and its supposedly awesome powers to tip an election.

The Russians were flattered they got 2nd prize, but the UK was not about to take a back seat in the psyops department.  When push came to shove, they wanted the world to know of their prowess.

Getting the press accounts out there, the social media, is a big part of the game.  Consider Sophia, the AI bot who got to address the UN and make Saudis proud of their government.  Sophia would not have had nearly such a successful career without all that clever PR.  Yet she's nothing but an audio-animatronic puppet, nothing like the breakthrough Deep Mind game changer.

Supposing the UK or the Russians have such an established social science that they're able to engineer an election almost legally, but for loopholes that Facebook may have closed in retrospect, is supposing a lot, but Hollywood movies have paved the way, for movie-goers to have a hard time assessing the true state of the art.

In an age when even Cubans are able to target diplomats with frequencies beyond the range of human hearing, sewing seeds of suspicion right when the technocrats wanted to dial back to making "America" a bigger bully, who knows what is truly possible?  Time travel is just around the corner, and those in the know harness UFO-derived technologies to... fill in the blank.

Yes, I'm saying I consider the public very gullible, for buying that psychometrics has advanced so far so quickly.  Advertising works, I don't deny it, but then advertising, media campaigns, are more than just a few TV spots.  You need a narrative.

Start with the side show Internet Research Agency based in St. Petersburg, its Fancy Bear staffers barely able to speak English (like Guccifer, but unlike Guccifer 2.0), then cycle back to center ring and realize true English speakers, like Cambridge Analytica and CrowdStrike still dominate the world cyber-game.

Russians can't hold a candle to the truly tech-savvy, such as Dmitri Alperovitch (Crowdstrike CTO). How reassuring, right?  But wait, don't The Americans (deep cover spies in a fiction TV series) speak like perfect American?   Maybe we're not out of the woods yet!

On the positive side, we have evil Russians (connected to the cyber-caliphate and ISIS) maybe tilting Superman's election without firing a shot.

They promised us we'd be entering a world wherein cyber war and cyber weapons would be the new big thing.  As a Quaker, that sounded like a step away from doofus muggle outward weapons, so I haven't necessarily put up a lot of resistance.

Lets make the endless wars all cyber for a change, more like the computer games we grow up on.  Given the hell hole in which we started, that'd definitely be big progress!


Saturday, June 02, 2018

After Reading About Graphs...

From random guesses to feedback-informed weightings: we learn to crumble the cookie (so many readings!) back into correctly labeled movements (archetypal gestures).  The cookie uncrumbles.

The distance between "bullseye and arrow hit point" generalizes to all crumbs (crumbs in all dimensions) as does the computation to minimize this distance (e.g. "gradient descent"  -- one of the methods).  

The crumbs look more and more like the original cookie, as the weightings get shifted, epoch after epoch on screamingly fast chips. We need already judged and labeled originals so the feedback keeps happening.  Supervised learning continues.

From randomly guessing focus group committees (new enrollees) to finely refined teams with proved track records (weighted and ranked accordingly), do we mitigate this metaphysical distance, twixt our predictions and what is.  

I picture a whole skyscraper of committees, as floors of (levels of) "perceptron neural nodes" each signaling to the next floor above it and, and so on (deep neural net), with a broadcast tower atop the building (some KPOJ) sharing its newly synthesized view of the world (its brand of enlightenment programming, its model).

[ with thanks to Nathaniel Bobbit ]

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Captain's Log...

rhino

I am mindful that some products have taken in Python for internal scripting purposes, which I think is a good choice, as that leverages an existing fluency in many cases, and also leads those new to Python into something they may already know well:  CAD drawing and rendering.

My background is more raytracing and VRML, meaning I would usually build my scenes programmatically, but in a tight feedback loop with the renderings, a process of gradual approximation.  My subjects were usually pretty stark and austere, involving simple polyhedrons with a minimum of texture and shadowing.  I'd use anti-aliasing and might dial up reflectivity.  I'm proud of some of what I did, but more awed by what others have accomplished, with POV-Ray and other tools.

I remember Kenneth Snelson wondering if he would be able to move to Maya, after all those years mastering his SGI workstation.  I'm certainly no Maya user and am finding the Rhino learning curve fairly steep, even coming from a Python background.

There's a huge vocabulary (namespace) of directives, allowing me to build whatever scenery or artifacts I please, in principle.  In practice, I've cannibalized an old example, in vbscript, from Rhino 4, to make an icosahedron, and written other code in Python 3 (externally to Rhino 5 for OS X) to figure out the centers of a CCP (= IVM = FCC).

Today I at least figured out what object I could use in place of rectangles, which disappear upon rendering, too ghostly to merit texturing.  A planar surface is something else again.  It behaves almost the same way a rectangle does, but I had to rewrite and add code to accommodate the differences.  The obvious advantage is that it renders and allows materials to be applied to it.  That's progress, for me at least.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

We learn from Geoffrey West of Santa Fe Institute and others, that universities have greater staying power than businesses, thanks to a more robust institutional structure. That may not be the best way to look at it though. There's nothing necessarily shameful or unfortunate about a business having a short half-life.

 For bookkeeping purposes, one might form a company for the express purpose of making a Netflix movie or Youtube channel production. Once the body of work is complete and published, the company disbands, not with a sense of failure, but with a sense of completion. Those who worked in this company remain proud to have it on their resumes.

A university has more of a commitment to reinvent itself, in order to meet wave after wave of incoming generation, each already benefitting from the experiences of the previous one. A business need not adapt in precisely this manner.

The more apt analogy might be the nation-state, some of which have longer histories than others, some of which have changed character and boundaries rather drastically. Think of Austria. Think of Pakistan. Companies also beget child companies, or spin-offs.

In other words, although we maybe have some cause to feel pride when human institutions last a long time, lets not stigmatize the short-lived ones just because they're short lived. Even religions might be gems of sheer genius yet only last a generation or two. That they're so fleeting is not a mark of failure, necessarily. Sure, it may be, depending on the stated goals of the founders. In the case of 2 Dickinson Street, we have to recognize it's an old Victorian made of wood.

The institution of "nation-state" may not be "for the ages" either, and that wouldn't be a Great Tragedy necessarily.  "One planet, one people" does not necessarily mean some tyrannical One World Government pyramiding (bottle-necking) to a few people.  We don't need some singular cabal to boss us around.  I learned that at Princeton.

Complex systems have self-organizing potential.  Regional bodies and overlapping steering and oversight committees (to use some Quaker jargon) may be sufficient to keep the public in a willing mood, sufficiently participatory to keep a public sector alive and well.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dream State


"Dream State" is a bit of a pun, as I was dreaming (this is a write-up of a dream I was having about an hour ago), plus the theme of the dream was the dream-nature of States.

I was in this institutional building with a large training room, but U-shaped, so I couldn't see all the students. I assumed I was the instructor, as I was on my feet, everyone else sitting in front of a computer.  I'm reminded of when I taught WordPerfect in Salem.

One of the students started talking about Zionism and Judaism in a loud voice.  He was pretty coherent but weren't we here to learn Python? As the trainer, I felt obligated to politely interrupt and change the topic, but then another voice around the corner picked up on the same theme.

I looked around the U and another guy, tall and thin, was holding forth on the same topic and showed no signs of surrendering the floor.  I did a double take and realized I didn't know any of these students, so apparently I wasn't the instructor.  I must have arrived early.  My class would be later that afternoon.

For the rest of the dream, I followed the tall guy around the building, to a gift shop (or something), up and down some stairs.  I just wanted to apologize and explain my mistake, why I'd interrupted.  But he paid me no heed, wouldn't listen.  He kept going on about Judaism versus Zionism (he saw them as opposed).

Finally I woke up and realized the sound track for the dream was courtesy of Youtube, still on auto-play and going through videos.  I've been watching this genre of videos, even in a more conscious state, though some might aver we're always dreaming at some level.  No need to wax philosophical at the moment.

"As French are to France, as Italians are to Italy, so are Jewish people NOT the people of Israel" is the message.  This is an old debate (if one can call it that -- a clash of viewpoints) going back to the creating of Zionism in the 1900s.

What's new is a slob in Portland, half asleep (or fully asleep) can take in these viewpoints as video recordings.  I don't have to just read about them in obscure magazines or whatever.  When I want more, I get more.  That's called becoming informed and given my academic background, I get to pat myself on the back for doing homework.

OK, now it's back to prepping for Python class.  Or maybe I'll blog some more. Actually, what happened is I posted comments on Facebook.
This whole discussion relates to my summary view that we're in a "globalist versus nationalist" chapter. Nationalists such as Bannon have been very clear that globalism is their enemy. As a product of the Aquarian "think globally act locally" school of thought, a long time expat (now in Oregon) and alumnus of international schools, my mental DNA is more globalist. I see nation-states as past their pull date, keeping people penned in and pent up (which is the point -- keep 'em governed). Better engineering is desperately needed, however narrow political agendas based on "my nation against the world" keep us from wholistic thinking. It's not like I advocate some revolution to overthrow all governments, or to create one world government. Rather I see an evolutionary process at work whereby we at least psychologically free ourselves from the nationalists' political sphere and learn to collaborate with one another more successfully. I want to keep it hopeful of course. 
I think world religions, including humanism, as well as science, are inherently more supranational in their perspective and help us dampen the damaging effects of the rampant nationalism that seems the dominant paradigm of our day.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Harboring Activists



I retrieved my 89 year old mother from PDX last night.  She flew in from LAX on Alaska Airlines, her favorite as she tells everyone.

Carol is a long time activist.  She attended the centennial celebrations for Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and talks about the signing of the Kellog-Briand Pact is if it were yesterday.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Jane Addams are her biggest heroes, though I remember when Gandhi and St. Francis were the top two she'd talk about.

We all get to build a pantheon, an altar if you will.  Robert Thurman has Walter Cronkite in his, as I recall from a dharma talk he recorded in Bhutan.

I wondered aloud on Facebook if anyone with serious peace activist credentials wants to camp out down the hall from her.  But such sponsored positions are hard to come by and I haven't succeeded in joining the ranks of non-profits.

Blue House hosts a tiny business, mine, and I paid self-employment tax in 2017.  I have no employees and live on the edge.  Melody helped score some food from charitable sources.  She lives in an abandoned vehicle (in a beautiful forest).

I stayed up late composing my cover letter to Oregon State, documenting my eligibility for OHP, a health plan for the bottom bracket.  My taxable income on my Oregon return was under $10K.

Our Urner family has a long history of tax avoidance.  One way is by staying poor.  Another way is by not living inside any of the fifty states.  We're pacifist Quakers and dislike paying the war machine to do its dirty business.

Yesterday one of my most loyal detractors on Youtube decided to attack the Bucky stuff I'm known for touting.  That's Bucky Fuller, at one time a respected and recognized maverick architect and philosopher, definitely in my pantheon of Bodhisattvas.

I'm glad we had it out, to the tune of about 150 posts in some buried thread.  David Koski joined in, adding some colorful metaphors.

That all happened on Facebook, which I've continued using through all the hoopla about how it's to blame for helping the UK meddle in US elections.   So many cabals.

As someone with a global perspective, I think it's a given that social media will become a tool for political campaigns, many of which roil beneath the surface.  The whole world has a stake in what happens everywhere.

Creating hermetically sealed bubbles, impermeable to outside influences sounds anti-biological, though immune systems are not.

Speaking of cabals, you may read about mine in an old encyclopedia of conspiracies, so-called, by Robert Anton Wilson.  Look up Grunch in Everything is Under Control.

It points to my old website, long ago discontinued as Teleport was sold.  I have the newer Grunch.net domain name these days, set to renew in June.

Marshal McLuhan to Bucky:  "I have read your books and am ready to join your conspiracy."  Fuller argued that "to conspire" meant "to breath together" and didn't put a negative spin on the word, as many are reflexively wont to do.  Same here.  I always say:  "if you haven't joined at least two conspiracies, you haven't lived".  Something to that effect.

Yes, I put my period outside the quote marks sometimes, where most grammarians say I shouldn't.  An old Quaker named Thatcher wrote a manifesto on that topic, which I've misplaced, but I agreed with his reasoning.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Judgement Day

Judging from the non-starter screenwriting, some cabal wanted us to link a domestic case of poisoning to a war theater gas attack, and use this as some kind of excuse to start a major gamble, which this cabal was thinking might help get them ahead.  Desperate outsiders, these cabalists.

The police are getting better at working in concert, as are the militaries.  They know politicians have the dubious job of inciting violence, and that the people supposedly enthralled by political soap operas are chomping at the bit for social cues.  But that's not working, and insofar as "mainstream media" plays along, it becomes ever more phony-sounding.

We're wise to the fact that tiny minorities are trying to start something.  If not in Mesopotamia, then in Korea.  If not in Korea then somewhere else.  Jobs depend on keeping a war time economy in high gear.  Other jobs depend on having that war economy business make room for a next generation of weapons inspectors and cleanup gurus.

The intelligence community, such as there is one (pretty tenuous), is engaged in counter-intelligence against war-hungry cabalists.  They'd have you believe otherwise, as a way cabalists (members of a cabal) impress others with their power is to pretend overwhelming forces are on their side, including God if that's at all credible.

We don't need horrible violence to sustain a good life for the tiny few.  I know many still believe that's the case and get anxious when the horrible violence abates even a little.  If any religions feel like playing a role, it might be to disown the nukes.

If you're at all God fearing, don't coddle your ego with fantasies of owning and controlling weapons of mass destruction.  Grow beyond needing that junkyard.  Heal from being an outward weapons junkie.

Not that we want Armageddon to start at the hands of unbelievers either.  Our belief is God wills us not to make a mockery of Judgement Day, by staging it ourselves.  Or call it teleological pressure, some Fury of Being.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Quaker Affairs

Stetson + C6XTY

I might bring this up informally with Oversight Committee, like I did with my "Gun Club" Stetson.  "Is this OK?"

By "this" I mean my tendency to refer to nations in the past tense, as a matter of plain speaking, of telling the truth.  I know they're currently still fervently believed in by many people:  nationalism is a global religion, with many adherents.

However, as a New England Transcendentalist of sorts, influenced by Bucky Fuller, I've come to see supranational entities as running the show.  This nation-state stuff is shallow theater.  I don't usually say "deep state" for that reason.

I've already broken with the mainstream in declaring that I have no nuclear weapons and no plans to acquire them.  That sounds obvious but then people often say "we" meaning "we the citizens of a superpower who possess such and such".  As a Quaker, I don't want to use my "we" in that way and would rather conscientiously object.

Nuclear weapons, in my estimation, belong to a supranational Grunch of Giants that then tries to puppet the nation-states into maybe using them.  Think of a Punch and Judy show.

The point of consistency I want to establish is around my pledge of allegiance to the flag and to the country for which it stands.  Giving a once proud nation a decent burial, rather than ghoulishly trucking its corpse around, pretending Uncle Sam is still alive, seems an act of loyalty.

Not that I'm equipped to offer the official last rites.  July 4th could become a kind of commemoration.

What I'm protecting is the USA's reputation, in the wake of subsequent highly illegal acts, most recently a gratuitous bombing of random targets in Syria.

That military-mercenary campaign was undertaken as a high profile "presidential" act, in order to legitimize ongoing Grunch campaigns and symbolize the shocking and awesome power of some exceptional nation, God's gift some tell us.

I'm showing allegiance by saying "this isn't the USA at all, behaving like a monster, as the USA died awhile back, RIP".

No one really cares if some individual Friend wears a Gun Club Stetson and thinks of nation-states in the past tense (the better to use a Dymaxion Projection).

I just want to state for the record that I do not consider myself to be betraying the United States, the Union, in honoring it for its noble rhetoric and values, its bold spread across North America, its Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  Great stuff!

Even from the perspective of Mark Twain's day, one could predict the moral arc, under president McKinley, then Teddy Roosevelt.  The USA would eventually succumb to the temptation of becoming an oppressive empire, with colonies, on the model of the UK of old.

Imperialism was in the DNA, as Manifest Destiny, later bolstered by Social Darwinism (the flip side of Marxism).  By the time I was born, the US was already pretty far gone, given the progress of this illness.  The imperial presidency had become much more of a tyranny, insisting on more adventures in conquest versus actually governing an already ample-sized territory.

However, the particular story of the USA, with all its twists and turns, need not take on the entire burden of explaining one of the consequences of "future shock" (a term coined by Alvin Toffler) i.e. the evaporation of the nation-state political data layer.

The swift integration of planetary infrastructure, and the realistic need to "think globally" as a matter of doing competent engineering, made the shallow theater of nation-states increasingly less possible to believe in.

Many people certainly wanted to suspend their disbelief, and many still could.  For others, it became psychologically impossible to go along with all the make believe, perhaps as a result of religious training.

As an early adopter of the post nation-state mindset, I'm perhaps helping other Friends find a way forward, as the spirit moves them.

I'm not proclaiming a dystopian outcome either.  Spaceship Earth (the Global U) is what we make of it.  Thy Kingdom Come.

Design Science Tableau

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Philosophy of Mathematics

Bertrand Russell (source):
The limitation of the dimensions to three, though it is empirical, is not liable to the uncertainty and inaccuracy which usually belong, to empirical knowledge. For the alternatives which logic leaves to sense are discrete – if the dimensions are not three, they must be two or four, or some other integer – so that small errors are impossible. Hence the certainty of the axiom of three dimensions, though in part due to experience, is of quite a different order from that of (say) the law of gravitation. In the latter, a small inaccuracy might exist and remain undetected; in the former an error would have to be so large as to be utterly impossible to overlook. Hence the certainty of our whole axiom is almost as great as that of its a priori element.
 Compare with D'Arcy Thompson, writing to Whitehead:
Now suppose, on the other hand, that we were of so minute a size (or lived in a medium so dense) that gravity would have no sensible hold upon us; and suppose, owing to our minute size, that we were mainly under the influence of other, say molecular, forces. Then, to begin with, we should know nothing about a vertical, and care nothing about a right angle. And suppose, in the next place, that we lived in some sort of ‘close-packed’ or crystalline medium, say a tetrahedral one, we should never dream of three-dimensional space (unless perhaps after long mathematical investigation), but we should automatically refer everything to tetrahedral coordinates. In short, we should solemnly believe that we lived in a four-dimensional space.
So what about "space is 4D"?  That's a link to some Google slides.

Here's a segue to Synergetics, no ifs ands or buts about it.  Just in case you imagined philosophers had been denied access at some point.  Was the draw bridge raised?  No, the philosophers simply chose not to cross it, wary of what the consequences might be.

Might they become prisoners of the Ayatollah of the Tetrahedron then?

Of course choosing not to do something may prove just as consequential as doing it, whatever it was.  Sometimes the risk of inaction is the greater risk.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New World Order


We seem to be in a world a lot of people were praying for. Hallelujah.

Sorry, I'm into comedy tonight.  Super Deluxe is a pretty funny channel.


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

End of an Era

Lots of despair in the air.

We knew it was coming:  DC is unilaterally trashing its sacred, signed agreements, going back on its word, with no real evidence that others were acting in bad faith.  Nation-states depend on such agreements for their legitimacy.

We've already seen how "evidence" doesn't mean anything to this post constitutional military junta.  Attacking Syria on false pretenses with no congressional approval, let alone UN approval, was the name of the game, with full backing from the cheerleader media.

Similar to the "evidence" that Iraq had WMDs etc. etc.  Lots of lying.  Once the lies have become deep enough, there's no way to back out of them.  The phoniness of the discourse is readily apparent.  This isn't "good television".

Exactly what happens next is probably less important than what this lack of integrity forebodes more generally, regarding global perceptions of the old world order.  What will we put in the rear view mirror?  What died?  What got run over?

The End of Power was an interesting book.  Individual cities are starting to emerge as the logical unit, taking us back to olden times.  Geoffrey West talks about this in his book Scale. DC is one of those cities, but not nearly as important as it used to be, like when FDR was in office.  Nice museums though.

I had a good time teaching the 2nd and 3rd graders today, just five of them.  We explored the pen blocks in MIT Scratch, having sprites bounce around, leaving a trace, or not.  Scratch is satisfying.

The car seems a bit skittish on the road.  I had new tires put on the back before driving to the memorial service for Howard.  His brother Bill Lightfoot is likely to come down on the train for a visit this Friday.  He's in his 90s.  I'm turning 60 in a few days.

We have all the elements of a think tank around Linus Pauling House but no budget, except for coffee.  I've been pushing hard for the Bucky stuff, the concentric hierarchy of polyhedrons in particular.  But that's philosophy and philosophers have morphed into something else entirely, it now seems.

During my data science class we learned about placing pictures in Jupyter Notebooks and I had them choose from an album with some bus pictures.

One bus was of recent vintage and on its way to Pycon shortly, in Cleveland, Ohio.  The other was a picture of Further, the famous Ken Kesey bus that went back and forth across North America, in an earlier chapter.  It may be in a museum by now.

Speaking of life on the road, I'd like to get more funding for Truckers for Peace.  I'll keep hanging out a shingle.  Not that I'm a trucker or anything, just a Friend.


P1040900

Friday, May 04, 2018

Authentic Scarcity


I've continued my conversations with ISEPP about World Game, which I use in its original sense of working to make sense of the world and to strategize accordingly.  War Game is similar, with the overhead of trashing infrastructure, destroying muscle mass, deliberately making things worse and weaker, in order to improve matters.  Yes, that's counter-intuitive I fully realize.

Dr. Charles Hall is typical of a trending cast of professionals trained in the natural sciences willing to raise their voices against conventional economics.  He's an emeritus who doesn't need to worry about ruffling feathers.  Those still striving for tenure or simply wishing for a modicum of job security, maybe can't afford to be so outspoken.

"Biophysical Economics" means taking science seriously and thinking more realistically about energy budgets and the thermodynamics of it all.

My focus on the PWS (personal workspace) anticipates when the "daily commute" (a sloshing back and forth of a billion vehicles) will give way to people tightening their radius and watching more Netflix.  Families will have more together time.  Can that be all bad?  Telecommuting beats clogging the freeways.  Or look at how we bus kids to school when the best teachers are on Youtube, better viewed from one's PWS.

How many humans might we support via theme parks?  Or call them EPCOTs.  They want their driverless cars and HDTVs.  They want novelty, family life, fresh produce.  What if your greenhouse and your house were part of the same climate controlled structure?  Remember the argon gas and Tefzel pillows?  Has Silicon Valley improved on the Whole Earth Catalog?

Suppose you had a warehouse with a pile of Soylent delivered by dump truck every few months.  Just add water.  No it's not made from people.  It's not like eating in a French restaurant, but at least you won't starve.  They're basically paying you to stay healthy.  You cost more when you're sick.  Breathing takes work.  That's physics.

People work their whole lives to afford spacious homes and then leave them empty, to sit in offices and cubicles all day, playing the game of who's boss.  Don't tell me this isn't crazy, in light of the precious fossil fuels we're squandering for the privilege.  I'm not defending this species as rational.  Like any dumb animal, they're not likely to change their ways until they come up against an electric fence.

Some folks believe in morphogenetic fields, or lets just talk about the Zeitgeist, or Holy Ghost in Catholic spheres.  Princeton was full of talk about the noosphere when I was there in the 1970s.  We put some faith in our collective wisdom, and intuition.  New England Transcendentalism went that route, more Aquarian Conspiracy.  But putting faith in something doesn't keep Planet of the Apes from dominating the programming.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Artificial Scarcity

One of my Medium stories takes us back to the Napster era, during which a nearby Silicon Forest police precinct, tired of always being the bad guy, set up Linux labs in the projects.  Brilliant idea.  South Africa was doing the same for its kids.

The police were asked to come into the schools to scare kids silly about FBI anti-piracy campaigns, while meanwhile a new creative commons was offering digital assets for free, and its technology was secretly powering capitalism already.  Why not tell kids about that instead?  Why were the schools keeping mum instead of joining in the revolution?

The engineering mindset probably grew a lot in those days, as young coders were confronted with many ethical dilemmas, around whether freely sharing copiable assets with one's peer humans was really as evil as some people said it was.

It's one thing when transferring a good means depriving the donor of continued access to that good, but another when the donor continues to have access.

Legal culture is all about protecting IP and forbidding its use by others.  The engineers heard relief workers say humans were starving for culture (education) yet because of IP, the true capability of engineering, the miracle of the loaves & fishes, had to be attacked.

Anyway, the police were seeing what the engineers were seeing and wanted to show kids a positive way forward wherein they would get to use computers without having to pay tolls at every turn, just to leverage what humans before them had left them as heritage.

This was a debate we had to have openly in engineering culture.  There's a layer in the archives where that's what a big part of the buzz is about.  That debate is in large degree behind us now, as we move to open sourcing lots more than software.  Humans are still starved for culture.

Looking at humans as "muscle mass" is not meant to say we should all go back to plowing with no assistance from tractors, however piloted.  I'm just taking the positive associations of body building and helping us appreciate humans more than we appear to.  Much of the economy is a deliberate attempt to deny people economic success.

Layers of conditioned reflexing define our respective cultures.  The many programs out there, sitting on shelves, ready for broadcasting, provide grist for the mill, as we go back and explore the different eras.  The Alvin Toffler meme, about accelerating acceleration, means our debates go a lot faster now, what with the new infrastructure.  We don't wait for whole generations, to come to some resolutions.

Impatience around humans demanding power over others based on threats of annihilation is not a new phenomenon.  The humans in Robin Hood's time were not that impressed by the social order either.  We have come some distance in the last few decades, lets admit.  Engineering has grown up a lot.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Quadrays Again

Quadrays

A vector field has group properties in that every vector has an inverse vector, the sum of which gives the zero vector, the identity element of the set.  The XYZ basis vector (1,0,0) has inverse (-1,0,0) and their sum is (0,0,0).

Indeed, without the inverse operation, or multiplication by -1, the original three basis vectors, i, j, k, would be helpless to reach 7/8ths of space.  Remember i,j,k define the edges of what looks to be the corner of a cube, or perhaps 1/8th of an octahedron.

If you are not allowed to rotate or invert these vectors, only scale them in the direction they're already pointing, then vector addition is confined to the positive octant, 1/8th of the total space.

In the quadray coordinate system, the four basis vectors, as we call them, are sufficient to span space without recourse to negation.  The concept of "linear independence" is recast.

In XYZ, inverting a vector is not considered a separate operation from scaling it.  Growing or shrinking a vector in the direction it's already pointing is no different from making it point in the opposite direction.  However, vector reversal, synonymous with vector negation, might be considered a form of rotation, a different operation from positive scaling.

Quadray basis vectors may be inverted, but only positive scaling is required to map all points (to span the space).

For example, in canonical form, the inverse of (1,0,0,0) is (0,1,1,1), the sum of (0,1,0,0), (0,0,1,0) and (0,0,0,1).  These point oppositely, and the group property still pertains in that (1,0,0,0) + (0,1,1,1) = (1,1,1,1) which in canonical form is (0,0,0,0).

It's not that quadrays are devoid of inverse vectors, only that "inverting" is unnecessary to reach 7/8ths of space.  The four basis vectors define four quadrants.  Any point is in one of those quadrants, or in a plane bordering any two.  At most, three basis vectors need to be positively scaled to reach any point through addition. 

{0, a, b, c} -- where { } means "any permutation of" -- with a, b, c also greater or equal to zero, is the canonical address of any point.  For example {2, 1, 1, 0} form the twelve corners of the cuboctahedron.

If the i,j,k basis vectors of XYZ were supplemented with one additional vector pointing into the void opposite the first octant, the resulting apparatus would look a lot like quadrays, sometimes known as IVM coordinates.  Adjusting the central angles for symmetry, making them all the same, would complete the transformation.

What is the practical value of quadrays?  Clearly there's a one-to-one mapping from the canonical representation (unique to each point) to the corresponding XYZ vector.  As with spherical coordinates (r, alpha, theta), we have a redundant addressing notation.  How could this be useful?

At this juncture, I'm thinking "comparing and contrasting" helps highlight core concepts.  In setting "caltrop coordinates" next to "jack coordinates" (XYZ), we're setting the stage to talk turkey, to develop fluency with the concepts, such as "space spanning" and "inverting".  Quadrays contribute to student understanding of the shoptalk.

Since the concepts of vector addition and vector negation are essentially the same in both systems, we have as much to compare as to contrast.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wanderers 2018.4.25

P1050110

We adjourned to Linus Pauling House this morning with our various ongoing investigations. Dr. DiNucci had been doing anthropology, attending the public portion of an Intel board meeting, and listening to the works of a new and already famous composer in a nearby Christian church, of which I have pictures in my Photostream.  A really nice one.

Quakers have "meeting houses" in this neck of the woods, if of the Unprogrammed variety (as we call ourselves), with Quaker churches in other places.

We finally got around to one of our Yahoo list topics:  5G and its implications.  You'd think as software engineers we'd be talking smart house IoT, but our attenders were more from the chemistry side of things, cell biologists.  The effects of RF up and down the spectrum, on organisms up and down the scale, has been under study for some decades.

About two decades ago, much of the focus was on "cooking" and how very light cooking, lowest setting, could be OK for one's brain, gonads, DNA in general.  The concern was more therms than actual frequency, as the sophistication of cellular networks of the biological kind were only coming to be appreciated.

Work in sonar probably alerted some of the same scientists to the impact of high pitched beacons and so on, on the hearing of whales.  The nonhuman populations are not radio-silent lets put it that way. Ionized radiation, as well as not-ionized, has both health benefits and may be used as a weapon, perhaps of defense.

I might have started on the wrong foot in jumping to the Gateshead Conspiracy right away, a viral topic (trending).  The city council has acknowledged the network, but claims to know at exactly what operating frequencies it's being tested, in an effort to control lighting.  Smart meters use the same technology.  Back to the Internet of Things.

Steve was a platinum engineer and understands the curative powers of ionized platinum, in preventing cell division.  I don't know to what extent RF serves to catalyze these reactions.  Plain old AC current is what he talked about.  Think of gold plating.

This morning I wrote Conspiracy Theories Rock! to help some of these detectives keep their chins up. Science requires bravery as "coming up against established dogmas" is a perennial issue.  Keeping writings tucked away, yet world readable to those with the URL, is the job of a filer, clerk and curator. Archivists.  I know some of those.

Most of the morning meet-up was devoted to Glenn's Show & Tell.  He has quite a collection of Neolithic Tools.  I took some pictures.

Anyone want a free gazeebo?  I keep meaning to put that out on Freecycle.  It's for setting up in your backyard.  We used to have one from Costco, that gradually fell apart.  This one looks higher end and longer lasting, but was for an art project that took a different shape in the end.

Advertising free stuff in an old blog post is probably not the brightest move.  Check the date and time  of this posting, and presume I handed the thing off if it's more than a week later.  Or be in touch.  I'm requesting the recycler pick it up.  I had it strapped to the roof of my car at one point,  bringing it over from Vancouver, but that's not a trick I want to repeat.

Great hearing a bit about Barbara's adventures in Guyana. Jaguars, Anacondas and Vultures oh my!

Good having Jeff Godard, Dr. DiNucci present, with Glenn presenting on Neolithic Artifacts (Show & Tell items). I'm about to upload a few pix.

Bob! From faraway Washington!

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.  [ WhiteDwarf.org ]
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".