Saturday, September 30, 2006

Our Columbia River

"a favorite toy"

"a rich person's boat"

"she who watches"
(per NavAm lore)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This Land is Your Land (movie review)

Mom and I joined other Portland politicos in packing The Bagdad for this radio-advertised screencast about Corporate Personhood and related notions. Most seats were taken, right down to the front row. Radio talk show personality Thom Hartmann, and Lori Cheatle, the film's coproducer were present to host the event.

You could tell people felt they were onto something, yet the issues dealt with are anything but simple, meaning it's a film that makes you think (all the more reason to show it somewhere kwel like The Bagdad -- I got my Hammerhead ™ during the Q&A).

Yes, Nike discovered something about power signs, their catalyzing role in rolling out lifestyles. But it's not like others hadn't already put a spin on Nike. Grabbing that ball from the sky: a bold move.

And certainly Starbucks is going to get creamed in any fight over the right to blend Christmas, if playing the pro Russian Orthodox. Father Tryphon barely had to add sugar.

And yes, big empty factories are an eyesore, and Harlem looks kinda stupid with too much plastic eye candy. She's sensitive to her own looks, and with that, I empathize.

Kulture is too important to just waste, and yes, brand loyalty goes way deeper than skin sometimes.

Nature's own balance works through this picture, and she's pretty unforgiving at times -- we want to be right by her, really, and she really hates to hurt humans, is my feeling about her. But couldn't they share more responsibly and not overmine that myth of "rich people" running everything?

Humans like mini-me here just aren't totally in control OK? and no I'm not talking about "my bosses the ETs" (sheesh). I'm talking about Cybernetics 101. There's the Sun and the Moon and all that other stuff OK? So let's back off about "the rich people" 24 / 7 / 365, and give some just and due credit where credit is due: to Nature, who needs us to stay smart.

Like, let's not go blaming Donald "you're fired" Trump for everything, nor any other poor slob, just because life sucks and the times are real bad. Even so, it's still a costume party, and behind the masks... are more masks (the running joke of such a festival).

The V for Vendetta guy rips off his mask: "yes, 'twas I the Nasonex Bee™."

In a lot of ways, the fast cut editing and interleaving with American icons, like Jim Hightower and Granny D, was a way of comforting us, as the vista is always changing, sometimes at a fast clip, and that's sometimes unsettling, yes.

The rest of the world is feeling it too. Don't think any tucked away urbia is somehow immune from the butterfly effects of globalization. That's just your ecosystem at work. So remember to pace yourself.

Our local Powell's Books has a Dalai Lama paper doll book (plus remember Think Different). Real American Eagles do soar in the Grand Canyon. We're all involved in branding these days.

And there's a lot at stake, yes, however I don't think that UCLA brain professor has read enough Wittgenstein. The power of Pepsi is not just that it registers higher in the right brain, but that it links to dear Michael Jackson in Thriller, a wonderfully bold production.

Great art is not always for the feeble minded or weak at heart, might be the moral of this film. And Uncle Sam is a player, most definitely. That whole tea party thing? A branding issue.

So don't count on Uncle Sam to make life easy for "idle rich" on the block, yet many rich are hard working, at least somewhat smart with their power -- including many of the liberals in this film, most of 'em quite rich by today's standards.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fall Retreat

Cheryl Pauling, Linus's granddaughter, came by the Pauling House today. Don (Terry's Igor) showed her around (I don't think she'd been here before -- I'm pretty sure Linus started getting into chemistry in the basement).

We're in the middle of the 2006 Fall Wanderers Retreat. Terry is holding forth per usual, defending Intelligent Design as he means it (a namespace): Engineering is a bullheaded god, Science overhyped and namby pamby. I keep firing my disruptor (not an outward weapon), only because I've heard it all so many times, so please beam me up Scotty (an engineer).

Didn't happen. Jon on guitar is a real pleasure. Don has a good singing voice to go along. OK, so good thing Scotty didn't hear me.

This morning, before all these people showed up (we're packed), I was rehearsing wordlessly pointing to butcher paper (like a flight attendant) while Tom Lehrer sang New Math on my iPod, amplified through my Altec Lansing inMotion portable speakers.

Tom sings through 342 - 173 (a subtraction problem) twice , in bases 10 and 8. His 1960s audience is cracking up, but he knows it their way too. As an MIT math prof, he's lived through more than a few changes in fashion.

Then I joined Dawn and Tara for an adventure: Portland's first Pirate Festival, a big success by the look and feel of it (lots of harmless gunpowder games, good music & food).

I'm using Don's Safari on an iSomething to post this, meaning I'm missing my customary wysiwyg text editing controls. I'll add some links, other formatting, when I'm back at my workstation.

From my workstation: I did get to play the Lehrer tune (plus Allan Sherman's You Went the Wrong Way, Old King Louie for an encore). I explained after the Lehrer piece that our emergent Gnu Math training is likewise evolutionary, though with different emphases.

Regretfully, we didn't manage to bring Sarah-the-dog down to the Lucky Lab for Dogtoberfest. There's only so much one can get done in one day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Today's World

"conference room office"

"on break"

"vrml mite by dharmraj"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Re: Nomenclature Threads on Synergeo

Usually my policy is to ignore 'em, as I regard Synergetics as a pretty complete phrase book, and don't require further definitions, especially those slanted for economic purposes. So I reserve the right to skip any "priority" discussions e.g. I care not who "invented the randome" as all of the really good ones are naturally occuring.

A huge problem with journalism these days is it fails to think in terms of geodesic spheres, instead of domes, ala the Cloud Nines or maybe space-based, ball-shaped Hyatt Regencies. So they miss all the good math, since a "chopped ball" lacks certain systemics, is anchored basically by dirt, in the sense that the flooring is part of its structural integrity (or lack thereof).

Many models of Fly's Eye go ahead and complete the full structure, and poke the legs through. There's some logic in doing it that way, in terms of added structural stability.

This lack within lexical journalism could be addressed at any moment by some relevant television, but people'd be creeped out being force fed synergetics on the evening news, however healthy such a diet might be on HDTV (and I'm not pushing for that outcome).

The PBS formats, for educational broadcasting, will help us reach all those journalist adult teletubbies, half of 'em flat on their backs in the dark, swilling pale fluids, and repeating to themselves slowly: "there... is... no... Matrix." Yeah, right.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Little Zen Poem

The dog barked at the squirrel,
chasing it up a backyard fence.

A man came out red faced, glaring and angry,
that Nature had dared to play with itself.

I'm glad he wasn't me.
(edited in both Firefox and IE)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CrossCultural Workouts

It'd make more sense to park a generator next to a gym, wire HVAC, and do multiuser video games on flatscreens with Iraqi troops, USAers together, mixing it up on screen.

But only after a lot of basic reflex learning curves.

It's no fun to frag people with only teenager level skills. You want adult level gaming sometimes, especially when training future officers.

Once we have a level playing field, in terms of basic skills, we'll recruit lots of hybrid teams: Americans and Iraqis against other Americans and Iraqis. Hey, it's already like this.

That whole Sunni-Shi'ite thing: I think Americans should back away from that slowly. You don't want to get into this episode of Alien World where the alien needs surgery and you're just a human doctor -- or vice versa.

There is no "military solution" in that namespace, so let's not even pretend that we're looking for one. That's up to the Imams to spin and control. Pumping in outward weapons just amplifies and feeds the craziness level, makes their jobs harder yet.

One thing I'm not doubting: all these people have courage. The Iraqis and Americans are sincere about wanting things to work out, Iranians, Syrians, Jordanians, Israelis... you've got real commitment and dedication, a willingness to serve the greater good.

Where I would focus is on artifacts, which is what Saddam's Castles were and are (a branded franchise).

Mosques will always exist, not just in Baghdad, but in Arizona. So will Synagogues. No great world religion is going away any time soon.

There's also no "setting everything back" to this point where other traditions were just in oblivion, off the radar someplace, never in our own backyard.

We're all in each others' backyards by now. That's just where our clever inventiveness as humans has gotten us. We should be celebrating. Yay, we're a planet. Yay, we could still make this work.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lunch on Hawthorne

I met Glenn at Portland Ale House this afternoon, for a pint or two and, for me, the blue plate special, which included an interesting carrot & coconut soup (I'd get it again).

I spoke a lot about Kiyoshi, Fuller's adjuvant on some difficult books, but also a gourmet who helped Philly upgrade its self image, as a place to write home about when it comes to food. He and I ate at The Fork that time.

I showed Glenn a couple notebook sketches of Snakes with __rib__ syntax, a way of helping students remember how we override special methods in Python. D'ya want the plus sign (+) to do something custom? Just write code for __add__ (pronounced "under under add"), likewise for __mul__ if you want to script the multiplication operator (*).

And how 'bout when you make an object "eat" something through its "mouth" i.e. the object is already initialized ("born"), and now you're feeding arguments to a pair of curved parentheses (like lips) and you want some customized behavior: well, that'd be your __call__ special method.

They look kinda like __ribs__ no? -- especially when stacked up and indented, as one must in Python, where indentation is significant -- no "curly braces" for scope, like in Perl, Java, or C#.

overriding special methods
Python 2.5
(click to enlarge)
Here, I'll upload a scan from said notebook:

"Python's __rib__ syntax"
(Kirby's sketch)

Plus I've written about this before.

Glenn knows contracting pretty well, as both acting janitor for the Pauling Complex and senior fellow for ISEPP (he's built an entire home from scratch). Glenn went to Antioch, before becoming a cryptanalyst with the NSA among other things.

Over on edu-sig, I've been horrifying some posters with my radical notion that we oughtn't "script" our first programs, so much as code up some namespaces "like boxes of chocolates" and then just reach in and use the contents at runtime, with no main method in control.

You be the glue: treat the namespace as a library, a utility belt, that neither actively cues nor prompts you, but does spell out its own contents in some detail (well designed .py files should be pretty much self-documenting).

Meanwhile, over on math-teach, I've been diving head first into Supermarket Mathematics with the gnu math teachers (a cyberspace krew), using a new "musings" format, more soft focus than "memos."

I blend a kind of database management perspective (drawing from personal experience), with a more general discussion of the difference between Cardinality and Ordinality. I got some ideas about this from Midhat Gazale's book Number, and here I'm expounding on it more, contrasting the job of these UPC codes (just tell stuff apart) versus the role of Money, which has this strong Ordinality bias (positive money is better).

And finally, on Synergeo, I've been doing my best to explain my "4D/4D++" meme to Planet Tverse (John Brawley), while meanwhile squabbling with Rybo the Robot (my nickname for a guy who calls John "Zachary Smith" -- an allusion to Lost in Space, a 1960s TV show -- and calls me "King Kirb"). Yes, it's an odd namespace we've got going.

Synergeo is a good venue in which to test the relevance of YouTube and/or Google Video content, interspersing my Synergetics teachings with relevant audio-video objects, playable via URL.

Some fun anthropology:

In further researching this Synergeo namespace of twilight zone quasi-irrelevance, I watched this long excerpt of a Lost in Space episode culminating in Will's confronting this Yeti or King Kong or whatever (a Cyclops actually, if you want to get Hellenistic about it), after his male tribal elders had already provoked it unnecessarily (they threw some fire at it, pretty stupid).

So then headstrong Will drops the Monster with a ray gun. That was considered a good way to handle things back in the day, before Star Trek came along with the Prime Directive, which said Away Teams really oughtn't go around shooting the locals that way. We're here to boldly go, not stupidly attack.

The security moms back in the cave are remarkably blasé about the whole incident, are tied to their laundry baskets, see the World of Men through a telescope only, meaning Will must reach escape velocity to join his peers, and prove himself manly against the Giant.

greedy snake swallows
pregnant sheep,
pays a price

Saturday, September 09, 2006


two Rons

"camp out at Lost Lake"
(photo by Pat Shields)


micheal sunanda

Thursday, September 07, 2006


So you'll find me apologizing to my gnu math teachers over on Math Forum for our slowness in getting them a usable stash of mathcasts suitable for gnu math teaching. Like, the following query still only pulls up my briefing to Wanderers re the high tech housing we're trying to recast in higher rez these days: (7050 results Jan 2012). [Update: Google Video was discontinued].

Not much selection in other words. Not my doing (I'm not trying to be the one and only producing in this genre -- I seek no monopolists' powers, more relish the prospect of competing).

You'd think polyhedra'd be a hot topic for would-be TV producers, if gearing up to showcase their Renaissance savvy. But then, B2B is still pretty weak; CEOs sometimes got behind the big desk without knowing about our Platonic Five, the Archimedeans, A&B mods, other purged and indexed topics, held back by the controlling Inquisition (aka math content police).

Now, when it counts, their handicap is more evident, right when a better quality education could have helped with the bottom line. Lots of opportunities for explosive growth as a mathcaster these days, lots of room for green field development. That scares some away, I realize.

As John Saxon discovered, upon retiring from a distinguished military career, special interests in this country associate anything "pentagonal" (as in hexapents) with Elvyn Lore, other Lord of the Rings anti-Christian storytelling. Not that ol' JRR ever imagined himself the AntiChrist, but for some people, that's just what one is, if making money off bestsellers that aren't about what's literally in the Bible. C.S. Lewis: same problem (lots of obvious, out-of-the-closet pagans are goodies in Narnia -- how could Aslan allow it?).

In Saxon's case, t'were his story problems that left parents disgruntled. They didn't want Little Johnny absorbing all these fairy stories involving species unknown in the Middle East, and which lead to uncomfortable questionings of authority. Disney: another threat (just look at Fantasia -- too scantily clad, plus a nasty promo from some diabolical corporate sponsor towards the end).

So it's not just lack of CEO sophistication that's road-blocking our advance. It's fear of capitalizing on Arlington's most famous architecture, making an asset out of something so blantantly phi-based. The left fears sacred geometry (too over-the-hill hippie, too unsophisticated), and the right fears some sort of feminazi Blair Witch conspiracy (anything with pentacles and tentacles is a candidate under-the-bed boogeyperson for them).

A solution? We need to bypass "white man superstition" and capitalize in less backward nations, at least to start. In Canada for example, or maybe Alaska.

Let the Christian Taliban have their "Afghanistan" in whatever necks of the woods. This isn't about wresting totalitarian control from the mom and pop church-loving. It's about going only where we're welcome.

When it comes to cyberspace, that's somewhat harder to police from our end, but we trust parental control blocker software to keep the more sensitive households secure against our semi-subversive (yet all American) style of thinking.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Another Kinetic Saturday

Lots of crazy pool happening today: Portland Knowledge Lab is slated for an upgrade, so Tara gets the hand-me-down, which is already way better than any of our desktops @ home (some HP multimedia jobber, gets it done); jet traveling family members; likely BBQ; coffee with Derek; laundry to do, other chores (some of them manly).

Summer is turning to Fall and these last high-80s sunny days should be appreciated. I'm not really looking forward to firing up the basement furnace and burning a ton of fuel oil to keep this place warm (a large tank sits under the driveway, semi-full of the Montag brand). Maybe we'll come up with an escape route (what airlines allow O2 I wonder?).

Last night: the initial Invasion DVD, plus I taped and watched Danny (as we tend to call him in this household). Quite the pile of televisions, not to mention a stellar career. Bob too was fantastic in that role, with that style.

I'm drawn to the Jack Daniels tasters for an analogy (they've had about the same number so far). It must be really tough to just "sip" and not drown, given all those stories coming at ya, 24/7 365/365. CBS has quite the control room, as well it should, being one of the oldest in the business.

I'll add as a footnote that our reception ain't the best on local affiliate KOIN 6, because we get a ghostly broadcast signal (I think through the sensitive tuner) just a few seconds ahead of the Comcast cable feed, meaning we're always looking at "the near future" as a faint overlay.

I know that sounds as metaphorical as all get out (clairvoyance?), but I'm speaking quite phenomenologically here, have it on tape. However this glitch in no way interferes with my ability to appreciate the content, in my judgment. Just don't consider me an archivist of record for this stuff, given its not-industrial-grade quality.

Yep, lots of anchor action at CBS these days. When they do the look back for Couric, they shouldn't bleep over her stint as a fish (also played by Nicole Balick in the VG version).

I'm glad to see FEMA is taking itself more seriously these days, post Katrina -- and it's not just hurricanes we try to plan around, out here in the Pacific Northwest (not just forest fires either).

detail: school mural