Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Limiting Ball

:: Times Square New Years ball ::

I was mentioning to David Feinstein yesterday about misplacing my new global matrix jacket, a gift from Glenn, and then launched into a short monolog re the hexapent, over some excellent Thai food, on SW 2nd near Burnside in downtown Portland (Donzo was there too).

Mathcast: as the number of triangles defining the 12 pentagons, the rest hexagons, of the hexapent tiling, increases indefinitely, the positive epsilon difference twixt the degrees around each vertex (a local apex), and 360 degrees (perfect flatness), gets ever smaller. And yet these small differences, whatever they may be, add up as "taxes" to a constant 720 degree "budget" no matter how many or how few.

René Descartes knew about the 720 degrees. Bucky's contribution, I passed on to David, was more in terms of a cartoon: he made that 720 be a tetrahedron. In flying away from a flat surface, it subtracts exactly the right number of degrees for a convexity to form in its wake, say another tetrahedron, perhaps the first one's mirror image.

Tara, Brenna and I had lunch in the Providence cafeteria, Dawn joining us later for tea.

Before that, I had a heart to heart with Nirel over the phone, about her coffee shop scenario. Turns out we've had a lot of the same ideas, including around synergizing with television. Nirel'd be like that Greenwich Village character, the skilled behind the scenes match maker who introduced Bucky Fuller to Isamu Noguchi, changing the course of history thereby, and for the better.

Tonight we'll be sharing our New Mexico slides (projected off the Toshiba, through the Optoma) with Chuck and Mary Bolton, friends of our family since before I was born. We may swing by Rose's place on the way, so Tara might pick up some homework papers for Winterhaven she's missing.

:: Mary and Charles Bolton, Tara, Dawn ::

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wanderers 2006.12.27

Tonight was a small informal session, and I only showed up for part of it, in the middle somewhere. We talked Internet over optical fiber, the loss in data richness over the last leg of the trip (metal cable), and our own inhouse router woes, there being quite a maze of 'em. Glenn's son swung into it with gusto, thought maybe he could help sort it out. Terry is off writing at the beach we're thinking.

One thing we wanted to see on the Internet were these stereograms made from paintings by old masters (link).

Still later, I drove Carol (mom) and Julie (sis) back to their hotel, our pad not having sufficient floorspace, given all the offices.

I'm still reflecting on the apparent ability of Mayan civilizations to manage paradigm transitions in a self aware, non-catastrophic mode. At least, that seemed to be what was behind the intentional "decomissionings" of old HQS, with the new ones going in above. The old became the new basement, atop yet deeper basements, of world ball games gone by.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Void

Synergeo 31185:

> I don't really know why I still try to convey this core concept
> to others; they almost never get it, nor get any better at
> getting near it.
> Peace
> JB
> jb@...
> Web:

From a slow laptop in Albuquerque (downloading IE7 in the background):

Buddhist literature may identify Void with Universe as well, but more in Fuller's sense, as "not a thing" but as a whole that we're only able to partially consider (as this or that).

Universe, in being non-simultaneously considerable, is not a point-to-able -- the pointer is included. You don't get outside of Universe in order to point to it, even by imagining a big bang (whatever you imagine is also included as more special case content).

How everything could just as well be nothing is what the concept of Void tends to encompass. We're as helpless to capture either in a thought or word (which doesn't stop the thoughts or words from occuring).

In Synergetics, Universe is "eternally aconceptual" meaning that whatever you're thinking of as Universe, ain't Universe (but is contained therein -- except the word "contained" implies some kind of "thing" with an inside and outside, a "concept" in other words, which ain't "it" either (there's no "it")).

The Void concept (yes, it has a life as a concept -- gets enmeshed with the rest of the machinery), hyperlinks to the "no self nature" concept, meaning no one thing or consideration has permanent or pure existence independently of the whole (Void, Universe, Nothing, Everything).

The cogito or ego, a belief in self nature, is an example of something we'd maybe like to hold on to in a static image or thought, as a kind of "thing" (like a stone). But "it" depends on, has meaning in the context of, an ever-changing environment.

"Me" and "not me" are codefinitional. Me + Environment = Universe. 0 = 0.


Thursday, December 21, 2006


photos by K. Urner

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I continue brainstorming about remote technovillages wherein we'd showcase tomorrow's lifestyles today, including through reality television. One model is Oregon's Breitenbush, where a year round community provides the staffing for the visitor facilities -- all very laid back and rustic.

Lots of public school teachers'd come through on the public dime, as a part of their inservice training. They'd go home full of new ideas, about Pythonic mathematics and such.

Culturally speaking, it's difficult to win budget for such USA OS facilities, as anything so kwel and cutting edge gets appropriated as lures by the military's recruiters. Civilians aren't supposed to get out in front when it comes to high tech toyz, especially given the brokeback army and overstressed marines, with two whole foreign countries to keep safe from competing fundamentalisms (or whatever the mission, I've lost track, but anyway it's ongoing job security for a lot of career Iron Mountain types, helps 'em stay outta trouble).

Of course the compromise is to make these showcase remote techie towns paramilitary. Marines could train on their new biodiesel dirt bikes, preparing to protect the desert medevac communities we'd like to rapidly deploy to Darfur and such places, to get civilians out of their death camps and into something more comfortable.

If the USA were to source disaster relief in high gear, as it started doing during the South Asian Tsunami, that'd improve national security, as enemies wouldn't have such an easy time pointing to an out of control blundering idiot, mindlessly spazzing out around the globe, destroying civilian infrastructure, scaring everyone witless. Nobody loves Moron Nation, the puppet of a dying LAWCAP (what our gentle genius Medal of Freedom winner called the loser paradigm).

New Mexico would be a good state in which to get going with these experimental prototype communities of tomorrow. I would have said Florida, given Walt Disney already had the right idea (EPCOT). But LAWCAP's top management took over The Mouse and pretty much destroyed Disney's dream, turned it into another dreary moneymaking enterprise.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Competing Solutions

:: san miguel, socorro ::
I'm laptopping from Socorro, New Mexico, using a line of site antenna to New Mexico Tech, with an authorized static IP. I've been comparing notes with local faculty on various topics. For example: the right handed XYZ coordinate system is far more standard than the left handed one used in POV-Ray -- but we already knew that, didn't we?

So how should we improve students' education in America, make it "world class" as we say? My thinking has evolved in the direction of improving the average teacher's job description, less directly in terms of money, and more in terms of what opportunities for further education it provides.

Teachers need to role model the paradigm life long learner to their students. Inservice training, long a feature of the job, needs to become a relatively larger slice of the pie, in terms of the time and energy devoted thereto. A larger cast of players needs to take responsibility for giving teachers better overview, a better grasp of what goes on in various walks of life.

In this way, my own geek culture will get more of a footprint in K-12. More teachers will become aware of such innovative solutions as Pythonic mathematics.

Won't this approach lead to increasing rates of teacher loss to private industry and/or public service, as teachers learn programming say, on the public dime? Yes. We need to build that in to the model. Young, energetic grads, closer to grade schoolers in age and presumably culture, get into teaching as a way to continue their own educations. Perhaps only a minority stick with it as a life-long career.

Why should that be a problem?

According to this model, the job is more attractive up front, including as a stepping stone to other careers, so recruiting new teachers is suddenly that much easier. The military uses elements of this approach, with the draw of "the best toys." Civilians like toys too. A summer camp for teachers might feature newfangled shelter solutions, permaculture, hands-on access to tomorrow's high tech brands.

Master teachers that stick with it for the long haul become mentors for the relative newbies, perhaps roving the country in bizmos, helping to establish the new schema, based on what's already found to work in other regions of the country.

Relevant essays:
Re: Reality Check @ Math Forum
Re: What Is 21st Century Mathematics? @ Math Forum (Dec 19, summary, autobio)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tough Choices

Another USA "education in crisis" report has bubbled up and grabbed some headlines. Some New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce has a pseudo-plan to make it all better.

Like other such reports, it dances around, defining terms, suggesting a party line, without ever diving into hard core content in any way -- except in terms of money.

Such science fiction is so typical of Americans: if we just pay high enough salaries, we'll get the most competent people, and our problems will simply fix themselves under the management of these highly paid superheros -- just give us another fifteen years, you'll see.

This is how CEOs like to self-mythologize, in terms of high "personal net worth," and their self-centered myopic ethos has rubbed off, spread into academia, with similarly corrupting consequences.

LAWCAP chewed through the USA's military's backbone long ago, leaving it mostly paralyzed and defenseless, easy prey for high personal net worth seeking politicians and their CEO backed lobbyist friends, all looking for more ways to deplete inventory, generate reorders, no matter the cost in human suffering.

Related reading:
Re: Report Urges Drastic Change, Higher Salaries @ Math Forum
Re: PUFM - Missing the Point @ Math Forum
Re: Fwd: What Is 21st Century Mathematics? @ Math Forum (Dec 19)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Shop Talk

We joined in the Xmas frenzy a bit today, sweeping through both a Valde*mart and a We Be Toys (names changed to protect the innocent), ending up in an upscale toy shop, Wakey's, in downtown Portland near the Multnomah County Library.

On another front, we chickened out of a "Class C" camper van opportunity, once the subject of antifreeze came up. It'd cost extra to thaw the unit, plus we'd need to commit to supplying an AC umbilical cord solution come evenings, with temperatures averaging in the low teens, well below freezing (Fahrenheit, sorry) -- otherwise her sink 'n can would freeze right up again.

Using keyboard and mouse, I morphed the camper into an SUV and felt relieved for having done so. Lining up campus housing isn't a problem. The bigger vehicle will help us lug around the O2 concentrator, useful at high altitudes.

[ When more gnu math teachers take to the road in real bizmos someday, the problem of "mooring" will have more routine solutions depending on which economic sector is being served, e.g. a brand X certified pro might snuggle up to an appropriate campus building and jack in, whereas other brands of roving road warrior might prefer the sweet seclusion of less urban sites, less smack in the middle of some academential funny farm.]

Uncle Bill swung through again in his red Aztek, bearing pie and an invitation to lunch up on Hawthorne (Bridgeport's Portland Ale House was our selection). He's done about all he might humanly do to promote his well crafted history of pre-WWI submarine building in the Pacific Northwest. He's taking some time off to just enjoy life, is looking forward to Colorado.

We're bummed about missing Laurie's and Terry's Hannukah party again this year, but still plan to celebrate. Plus there's another party I'm not mentioning, a surprise -- but we're missing that too. Turning down invitations is a part of life. Ed had to do it all the time, especially as he got older.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Milestones (to be continued)

:: branch office implosion ::

:: momento of mom's ::

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Scientific American did a cover story in December, 2003 questioning the dogma of races, zooming in to the genomic level, and finding genetic correlations among subpopulations, regionally mappable dispersions of this or that risk factor and so on, suggesting the "race" concept wasn't entirely empty.

Coming at it from another angle, the obvious superficial feature groups men hoped to capture with the Twelve Races idea (or was it Seven?), don't have any inherent genomic integrity, in the same sense that only twelve orders of a 52 card deck might be considered "the pure ones" -- except, of course, in some humanly contrived game of relatively fleeting historical interest.

Nature, however, escapes such easy schemata and gives us an exponential library of genomic possibilities, each specific human a checkout example from said digital library. Presuming humans persist with this base template, a lot like King Kong's, the flexibility of our design will continue to undergo testing by the terrestrial and extra-terrestrial environments, with many new readings constituting a response.

There is no seven reading "core syllabus" from which all the others deductively derive, not really adding anything new. This was the snobbery of the "racial purity" buffs: they wanted to typify the archetypes while branding competing readings as "mongrel" i.e. tainted by degenerative impurities, ala Dr. Strangelove. They feared a level playing field, needed this artifical bias twixt "pure" and "impure" to handicap the competition.

So yes, by all means lets correlate genes and risk factors, genes and other genes, following wherever the statistics lead us. It's an empirical science and we have much to learn. Making good on the promise of personalized medicine, wherein we craft unique treatments, depends on our getting on with these detailed genomic studies.

The science fiction layer was this "just a few pure shuffles" myth, which, even if nationally geographically based, isn't a good roadmap to the future, where inbreeding will likely reflect other proclivities, such as the desire to live with and raise other skiers, other specialized Olympians in one sport or another (to take one example of humans forming voluntary affiliate subgroupings).

Lifestyle and ethnicity go together, with genomics along for the ride, a prehistoric substrate, still very relevant to medical science, but not especially useful to the various racisms, not really leverage or ammo for would-be Ozymandius type dictators over future breeding patterns.

We don't really know what all the interattractive ethnicities will be, have lost track already, there being even today so many from which to choose.

Related reading:
Re public education @ Math Forum (December 2006)
Re teaching advise sought... @ Math Forum (December 2006)
No Race, No Class @

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Coffee Shop Talk

Wanderers was open agenda this morning, and we were blessed with a world traveling couple, friends of Milt's, freelancers attracted by Portland's cosmopolitan kulture, and with a lot of combined and individual experience in organizational development.

Our conversation veered through the Khyber Pass, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, to Ken Wilber, to Lesotho, to South Africa (protea in particular), to Cape Town, where it turned out we'd overlapped as attenders at the 1999 Parliament of World Religions, our family as Quaker delegates, and guests of the Deputy Minister of Defense at the time, Nozizwe Madlala- Routledge, also Quaker.

When the discussion turned to coffee shops, given Nirel's project, we learned about The Great Good Place, a book helping to define the role such institutions might play in our culture, or already do in some cases. The Communknitty in San Jose also typifies this pattern language, which doesn't have to center around coffee.

Dawn filtered the newspaper for me this morning, before getting her toes done with Aimée, pointed me to a Math Wars report on B2, and to an email address on C1 for reporting "early user impressions" of the new Metro-Fi service. I'll forward a link to my recent report on that subject.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A New Beginning

:: closing PKL ::
Many thanks to Patrick for the use of his truck, and to Derek, for lending a hand. Today the Portland Knowledge Lab vacated its first home, an ActivSpace incubator on 8th & SE Main.

:: reopening PKL ::
Now I'm sitting in the above depicted chair (foreground), using wireless from the Toshiba Satellite laptop.

The wall design was made for Dawn by her friends: some 10K cranes glued to a repainted crafts table she'd used for Turning the Wheel, a small business for teaching rituals around the eight Celtic high holy days: Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltaine, Summer Solstice, Lughnassad, and the Fall Equinox.

In front of me: a cuboctahedron atop an icosahedron, symbolizing the ascendency of Mind over Brain (a theme in Synergetics, an important philosophical work on our syllabus).

:: advent ::
Bridge City Friends have been celebrating Advent for some years now. We've been less active in the life of our Meeting of late, but are continuing the tradition, which includes reading aloud, lighting a candle, and opening these little doors in an Advent Calendar in the days before Christmas.