Monday, July 29, 2019

A Deep Dive Into Racism


The Bellingham Museum of Civil Rights sets the stage for this scenario.

My usual banter about race is the annoying cleverism "a racist is anyone who believes in races". That doesn't get me very far on some dates (just kidding).

However in my two part lecture below, plus addendum, I go for some deeper history, and no, I don't mean the story of Noah again.


We've connected racism to some related concepts: eugenics (considered as pseudo-science); and labeling more generally. Edwin Black also wrote about the evolution of database technology in connection with denying people privileges.


My addendum gets into the specifics of the "bridge" we're using across the C.P. Snow chasm.


I wrote a companion Racism: A Study Guide, as a companion Medium story for these videos.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Back from the Future

I'm taking the view, here at OSCON, that I'm visiting from the future, looking for signs that we might be choosing a smart way forward, and not choosing a dystopian future.

The movie 12 Monkeys follows this plot line.  They sent a guy into the past to figure out what went wrong.  The premise of that movie is we already knew the future, and it was dark indeed.

Currently, I'm learning about how the mega-fires in California last year were a result of grid failures.

A frequency control algorithm running on the edge (at the end user end i.e. on the client), as well as on the server side (generator) is supposed to deal with the spikes.  In short, the plan is to escape vendor lock in and go open source with the IoT smart grid.  California is allocating a lot of money to this plan.

The old grids are incapable of dealing with reverse flow energy coming from the DERs, or distributed energy resources (wind, solar...).  The challenge with these energy sources, of course, is they're highly variable, like the price of bitcoin.  The original distribution networks were never engineered to accept a lot of power from such sources.

CalTech is supposed to save us with calculus.  Open OPF, the visualizer, is going to help vectorize (spread the news of) these innovations.  You'll be able to simulate how your community would not have burned up, had this IoT smart grid been in place.

Thinking back to SimCity, I'm thinking how children and dabbler amateurs will not have easy access to these fancy tools, designed to be used by universities and national labs.  Even though Open OPF is open source, I don't expect to get it running on my laptop. Something simpler, showing how, when phase and frequency get out of whack, or whatever it is, you get heat instead of usable power, would make more of a simple game.

Simple videogames, about real world subjects, are like documentary films, a genre.  I'd say a somewhat rare genre, compared to all the fiction games we get.  Simulations are needed at every turn, such as when playing blockchain games.  That's what Ganache is all about (a tool featured in my second tutorial on Monday).

I didn't get to ask my question, which would have been whether DERs give us more opportunities to disintegrate and create self monitoring smaller grids that don't even attempt microsecond load balancing on such a huge scale.

The macro grid still exists in this scenario, but not everyone is a customer.

I was thinking back to my crude drawings of Asylum City.  I joined the lunch table where open source and cities were the focus.  I talked about my interest in the "cities from scratch" idea.  Two from our table were from Mexico City, where earthquake tremors were recently felt (same in southern California).

None of the geeks at this table had ever heard of Sophia, although once I described it they knew the topic area was "uncanny valley".

Back to the session... No one talked about how peak loads might be offset by a more global grid.  That would allow more transmission across time zones.  Of course that's a World Game meme of longstanding.

The speaker managed to suggest that Germany might be doing something wrong in piping in natural gas from Russia, but it wasn't clear to me in what sense that might be a mistake.  Some bold mayor took his town off the mega-grid, which was fragile.  Back to my question about going with smaller more easily managed grids (town sized?) in some circumstances.

Of course storage technology figures in to all this.  I think we all have the vision of a wind farm and solar panels, coupled with batteries, providing energy autonomy to a region.  If the macro grid still needed to tap in to buy power, or vice versa, this could happen, maybe.

An electric car is a battery on wheels.  Do we have the storage capacity to power a small town for several hours?  Are the batteries managed at the household level, at the town level, or both?

Some of the people after the talk went up front to talk more about the big picture.

I met Sheri Dover of PDX Code Guild.  We haven't crossed paths since OSCON 2018.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Random Post to Social Media

If we want serious change, we might want to revisit how the most positive futurist the USA once offered, through world’s fairs for starters (Afghanistan, Montreal…), commemorated by the Buckyball at EPCOT (“Spaceship Earth”), and for whom buckminsterfullerene was named, got written off as a kook and/or crackpot and/or failure by those with far fewer accomplishments or fans. How many other philosophers had that many patents to their name?

Might it have something to do with his declaring “the USA we have known” to be “bankrupt and extinct” way back in the 1980s (Grunch of Giants, St. Martins Press), and getting a Medal of Freedom around the same time (from Ronald Reagan)? He cited income inequality and the ascendancy of corporate power, talking about corporate personhood before that became popular. Covert ops and dirty wars were already replacing the constitutional authorities. What we call “the deep state” today is but the tip of the Grunch iceberg.

Does it matter he came up with new pedagogy around polyhedrons accessible to any 6th grader (and above)? No public or private school that I’m aware of deigns to share his primitive volumes table. So was he wrong then? Or was he a source of too many inconvenient truths? How about his focus on the global electrical grid, long before “we” made that be a Chinese idea (and therefore scary)? Former president Johnson was so popular in Texas precisely because he helped extend the electrical grid to rural areas.

From my point of view, we’ve let the soulless corporations he wrote so eloquently about write him out of history, or portray him as quaintly retro (e.g. The House of Tomorrow). Why was using our highest technology to mass produce something yurt-like and affordable (not talking about domes now, see Henry Ford Museum) considered less interesting than what we got instead: so-called mobile homes?

Is it too late to build cities from scratch, such as Old Man River? Was “lack of funds” ever the real problem? Doesn’t the Earth plug into the Sun?

As someone who studied philosophy at Princeton under Walter Kaufmann, who warned us of times to come (we’re in them now), I think the choice to expunge and/or besmirch one of America’s all time greatest philosophers was a huge mistake. Not a mistake; a willful desire to nip something in the bud. And “we the people” march ahead blindly, not questioning the theft of our heritage.

His message that we don’t have to make politicians be the ones in charge (check “design science revolution” in Wikipedia) is one you’re never going to hear from those who channel our frustration through all the usual circuits. When will independent journalists finally decide it’s time to connect the dots?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cosmic Computer


In this video, I take up Bucky Fuller's notion of a "cosmic computer".  What did he mean by that, and might we find a contextualizing literature?

I'm following up on some recent videos.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Did Hard Brexit Just Happen?


The seizure of an Iranian oil tanker, bound for a non-EU country, seems enormously egregious to a lot of people, Europeans especially.  People remember when England and the USA formed alliances to relive colonial dreams of empire, pretty recently, and resent being abused as a consequence.

The warmongers in Britain may have miscalculated however, as there's no momentum for war with Iran, given the mainstream media no longer has a grip on the North American psychology.

A tiny oligarchy of dim bulbs may entertain the fantasy that owning media is their ticket to glory, but that's far from clear at this point.

What was NATO's role in all this?  The "coalition" since the invasion of Iraq under Bush 2 has been steadily shrinking.  Invading Iraq was seen as momentous and Europe had to be on board.  Attacking Iran is more the senile fantasy of nursing home candidates and their moneyed friends.  There's little patience, including in the armed forces, for dunderhead bosses.

Where does the White House come out in the wash?  Trump seems to agree with Tucker about the tapeworm infestation.  He played his usual role in the speech-making, but when there's no last minute save-the-day diplomacy opportunity, as in the case of the DPRK, he tends to lose interest.

Iran has chosen the safest course for itself:  denounce nuclear weaponry, but make clear there's no deal if the EU can't live up to its side.  The EU is calculating furiously, wondering if it needs to stay on the far right, with the warmongers.  The unilateral seizure of the supertanker may have tipped the scales.  The Brits are no longer welcome members.  They're too into reckless spazing out.

People question Trump's sanity and he's able to take the brunt, by staying outrageous.  Bolton's sanity is more tender.  They say he's heartless, but is he also mindless?  That does seem likely at the moment.  I've done some more commentary on Youtube.

I realize "hard Brexit" means something else to most people.  My angle is psychological.  The EU is now sufficiently alienated to be glad of Britain's leaving.  But where will Britain go?  The island won't budge.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Ongoing Debates




Sunday, July 07, 2019

Saturday, July 06, 2019

American History







Thursday, July 04, 2019

Monday, July 01, 2019

But It's Not on the SAT


When it comes to understanding American literature, such as how The Aquarian Conspiracy connects to The Whole Earth Catalog, and The Well, or how The Dome Handbook connects to ZomeTool, one needs to understand the Jitterbug Transformation.

Why?

Because Bucky's career is a switchboard and essential puzzle piece, and yes, his thinking was influential, even if not comprehended. 

People got the dome, and saw why buckminsterfullerene was an apt naming of the molecule.

Not that the Jitterbug is that obscure or hard to learn about.

Where would it be on the SAT?  Might it be more of a literature question?  ACT maybe?

The assumption, I suppose, is that any interesting high school level mathematics, especially geometry, has to be part of the math section of the SAT.

But then look at Synergetics.  Mostly prose.  The Omnidirectional Halo concept (in both Synergetics and No More Secondhand God) is more about heuristics, a way to think about thinking.

We need the "whole number volumes" (a meme) to understand the literature at least, and by extension the history. 

PATH (Philosophy, Anthropology e.g. art, Theater e.g. politics, History) has its own metaphysical tensegrities i.e. mental constructs that cohere, make sense.