Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wanderers 2008.1.30

David and I met for lunch over Thai food, with me getting an update on his company's decision process and visualization tools.

Consider a science fair. One may be hard pressed to find even a single judge who has compared a given pair of projects (A,B), given the comparison matrix increases as a 2nd power of the number of projects. Flooding the scene with judges means too little overview on the part of each judge and/or contestants overtaxed with too many interviews.

However, even with a sane number of judges, chances are very good of finding multiple cases wherein two judges have a 3rd project in common, i.e. the pairs (A,X) and (B,X) both occur for multiple Xs. The differences (A-X)-(B-X) give a sense of (A-B), the comparison we wanted to make. Collating all such instances may net significant new information, which David's latest prototype is good at extracting.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More Quaker Politics

I realized in my meeting with Gordon today, at Jim and Patty's for coffee and tea, that I don't need to disturb the peace among Quakers just because I think I'm some kind of futurist (and hey, so does The Oregonian -- with two articles in back issues, featuring me predicting "hypertext kiosks" in one, more global grid action in the other).

There's a whole spectrum to accommodate and if the goal is to be free of encumbering and unnecessary bling, then there should be a flavor of Quakerism that fits.

In a kind of Sims 2 cartoon, I think of our own Kathy Hyzy in the MMM library, talking about diversity among Friends. We treasure diversity, even as a relatively small liberal group, which makes us all that much more impressive. My Quakers on YouTube distillation, which I shared with Gordon by iPod, gives some sense of our multifaceted shape.

On the other hand, I think the AFSC, the action arm of Friends, should be more willing to embrace the future, in the name of staying effective, using the available tools. Lots of non-Qs in AFSC, by design, so making AFSC higher tech does not necessarily imply Qs are all on the same page, with regard to technology (lots of diversity, lots of experimental approaches -- our F&P not set in stone, even within just NPYM).

My thanks to Gordon, another geek, and others I've been in dialog with recently, for helping me get more clarity on my potential role. Also, having met with AFSC a few times recently, I'm not too worried. Staff was teaching me stuff about Facebook I didn't know, not vice versa. Where AFSC is concerned, I'm on the receiving end of a lot of good teachings and I kind of like it that way (humbling). Keep up the good work ya'll.

Speaking of The Oregonian: Opus quite funny today (high tech a concern), Dilbert too.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

PowWow @ Peet's

Today was a lot about [feeding Naga] the Tetrakaidecahedron.

Now you may rightly raise your eyebrows, a lot of you, as you're thinking which one?

Do I mean Kelvin's Cell? Or are we talking the one that BCCs with the squashed dodecahedron?

Heck, even the cuboctahedron is a tetrakaideca, given the latter simply means 14 (perhaps your age even now?). Funny bumper sticker: Heck is for people who don't believe in Gosh (OK, only kinda funny).

See Synergeo 37796-97 for more on this tetrakaideca business (or go Google?).

My thanks to Glenn Stockton for bringing a copy of The Parsimonious Universe to the table -- reminds me of my Hargittai volume snapshot, also @ Peet's (Nick also present today, so some talk of Stallings).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Greek Polytheism

I think a better way to teach Greek mythology to today's high schoolers might be to use the analogy of a mixing board and/or a multi-track editing system.

Each god or goddess gets a track, and it's a matter of compensating, perhaps overcompensating, swinging the pendulum back, continuing to accommodate what Neoplatonists later called the Holy Spirit, or just Spirit if you didn't see the need for a qualifier.

Many philosophers like to say Zeitgeist instead, given their Germanic heritage and/or distrust of people who say "holy" for a living (an old "stones & glass houses" story, still plagues Old Europe).

Then you had these cults around each deity, basically ad agencies, PR firms, think tanks. On the ground, there'd be a war, like with the Trojans or something, Persians whatever.

Outward wars tend to be sick and twisted by definition according to my own Quaker F&P, so what's called for is therapy, and physicians with a sense of social responsibility.

You figure out what remix will maybe help restore peace and prosperity and lead to happier, more liberating pursuits and co-venturing.

In a modern context, for me, that'd mean more Athena and less idiocy, like I've been in this cult of Athena for some time now, duh. We have a longstanding alliance with the cult of Apollo, lots of other details I could go into, but why let the competition in on our secrets right?

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Toyz

my kit
A gnu math teaching suggestion:
After pouring out your cube into three tetrahedra, and before losing focus on your cube, quick switch to another cube model and demonstrate our 24-MITE dissection (perhaps with CubeIt! or maybe with something homemade) i.e. nail it right there, before proceeding to your octahedron or other basic shape.
Sounds like a (lesson) plan.

And don't forget the Coupler while you're at it? Lots of ways to go, per hypertoons.

Anyway, let's keep those suggestions flowing. I'll be incorporating some of them, but hey, don't wait for me to hog all the fun.

my studio
(click for larger view)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friends of Jung

I joined a throng of strangers, plus a Wanderer friend, to find out what J. Pittman McGehee had to say on the subject of love.

I'd always been curious about Oregon Friends of Jung, having grown up a Freudian of sorts, a focus in 8th grade (his Interpretation of Dreams in the school library), then Chaim Potok's The Chosen was fun, Woody Allen movies, later shifting gears though.

Anyway, I thought this guy did significant work, wielding those three Greek roots eros, philia and agape, mixed with more modern taxonomy ala DSM-IV and with more than a dash of mainline Protestant or Christian or whatever that was (big cross behind him, in a Methodist church -- no way to escape it and besides he embraces his religious credentials).

His value system grated against mine somewhat, but hey, it's not like he's my father or anything.

Although he had a structure to his talk, you could tell he was exploring, learning, discovering more about himself. Bottom line: compassion for self (among others) is critically important.

I'd gladly attend some of these other lectures I see scheduled, though not at the expense of missing my own workouts (it's one thing to watch other people work out -- I don't allow myself to just play a spectator role).

And speaking of workouts...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Show & Tell

I produced this "metoob" mostly as a test of some new equipment, in particular the QuickCam Pro 9000 by Logitech, with Carl Zeiss optics. I'm feeling OK about the investment.

That's CubeIt! from the Huntar Company, mine from Math 'n Stuff, and Barrel Tower by Kenneth Snelson. Ed (E.J. Applewhite) was also my friend.

I rolled over my regular glasses in my sleep last night, snapped a temple (since fixed), hence the sunglasses. I make no excuse for the hat (I've tagged this with "Quakers" among other labels).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Polymorphic XP

"Polymorphic" is a fancy way of referring the the multi-valence of words, including some acronyms and abbreviations. XP in Windows XP is maybe not the same XP as in eXtreme Programming. Or is it? Maybe we'll never know for sure.

In any case, eXtreme Programming (XP) refers to an evolving discipline (new discoveries every day) aimed at increasing programmer productivity. The Hollywood stereotype of free caffeine-stoked beverages in a cooler, offices conducive to overtime, aren't necessarily up to date regarding the latest practices around pair programming or multitasking.

My XRL is a cross between XP and URL, with a hint of eXtreme roller coasters, like Matt and I patronized that time at Six Flags, about 40 miles north of LA on I-5 (drove by it again just the other day, quite a sight even from the freeway).

XRL might also get decoded as "eXtremely Remote Location" instead of "L for Livingry" (in the sense of "gear," and set opposite "killingry" in Bucky Fuller's lexicon).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Recruiting for XRLs

An XRL is an eXtremely Remote Livingry situation, perhaps in some windswept high desert, complete with electric ATVs and training in the safe handling of rattle snakes (Glenn knows a lot about such things).

Those tracking my Winterhaven chapter recall my big push around Celestia and Stellarium, also features in some of my Saturday Academy classes.

These OMSI-like astrolabe and planetarium type tools help orient campers (e.g. BarCampers) vis-a-vis their local galactic space-time situation, which all seems more sensible when not trapped under a big city's light pollution dome. "Are city folk more self-absorbed because they can't see the stars at night?" some ask.

In any case, XRLs often feature HDTV and plenty of bandwidth. Hooking a laptop to the dome's AV system shouldn't be problematic.

Given the setting, it's more your Bob McGown and Allen Taylor types we need to "abduct," as you need that "forest ranger" or "tour guide" tier, able to interpret what's on screen, in terms of what's outside, and vice versa.

Amateur astronomers have an edge, in other words, when it comes to filling some of those key staff positions -- even better if your astronomy skills dovetail with your navigation skills in some way. Plus it helps to know what to eat or not eat, other kinds of awareness, in terms of a given terrain, ala Cascadia Wild.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Launching the Mother Ship

Tonight Multnomah Friends celebrated a job well done in their newly remodeled facility.

Janet and I reminisced about the old lighting fixtures (as kids, we had plenty of time to stare at the ceiling).

Shortly after I got there, archivist Carl Abbott gave a quick synopsis of the building's history, including the Doug Strain chapter, which ended around 1963 on the stipulation that the AFSC have offices in the new Meetinghouse as long as it wished.

Fittingly, Marco was present, kids in tow, from the local office.

Lots of appreciation was expressed for the architect, by all accounts a very talented woman, and for the site supervisor, who learned a lot on the job, and for the couple who acquired the "house next door" allowing Friends to walk their talk by recycling, rather than wasting, an entire residence, by moving it some ten blocks away.

Excerpted below, an invitation from me to Wanderers, in recognition of the historic overlap in our respective trajectories.
Yo Wanderers!

There's already been some cross-fertilization twixt Ws (Wanderers) and Qs (Quakers) thanks to many historical and contemporary exigencies.

In case any of you are curious to see the inside of the newly remodeled Stark Street facility, which used to belong to Doug Strain's company before the zoning rules changed, there's an open house this evening from 5pm to 9:30pm, a potluck.
Nancy Ankorn and Don Wardwell joined me in their wandering capacity. Mark Allen sat with us and shared about his adventures in clothes-making and, more recently, welding.

weekly announcement bulletin
Jan 6, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pythonic Algebra

The above screen snippet shows two algebraic functions, everyday inhabitants of classroom textbooks, getting wrapped by some Pythonic OO thing such that we're subsequently able to compose these functions using the multiplication operator, at no extra cost to administrators (Python is free).

That's how group theorists want us to think of functions, or permutations, as elements you might chain together by means of a binary operation variously called composition or multiplication.

f(g(x)) and g(f(x)) are respective synonyms for (f*g)(x) and (g*f)(x).

Does commutativity pertain? That depends on the group, if it is a group. Maybe it's a ring too.

Welcome to high school algebra.

The wrapping Function class, shown below, overloads both __mul__ and __call__. We don't just want to compose them, we want to pass them arguments (food) and have them do work (expend energy).

click for larger view

Related thread on math-thinking-l.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Family Album

:: glenn stockton, cousin alice ::

:: himalayan xmas ::

:: xmas in so-cal ::

:: bumper stickers ::

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Other News Blips

News of Iranian swift boats feinting attacks against imperial armor in the Straits of Hormuz, has percolated to the surface just in time to promote Spartans in Darkness, a new history of the NSA based on recently declassified signals intelligence. Parallels with the Gulf of Tonkin hoax may be overdrawn however (history doesn't actually repeat, according to Heraclitus).

The CIA story seems to have fizzled, with some so-called experts saying the CIA should sit at the feet of the Brits and Israelis when it comes to learning how to torture people and lie about it -- all pretty Banana Republic if you ask me (hey, just ask Sayid).

I agree with Katherine Heigl: "leave her alone" (re Britney). How about we focus on Kenya instead? Or Sri Lanka.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Silicon Forest News

:: an XO atop my Ubuntu Dell laptop ::
We made it back from LA just in time, as winter storms closed around us in the following days. We're hunkering down, telecommuting between power flickers, UPSs often called upon.

I was somewhat amused that when Intel announced it was peeling off from the OLPC project, it was my phone that started ringing (I'm sure others' did too). I'm not all that surprised though, as OLPC has figured in my writings and slide presentations for some time now, plus I even quit an important Fuller Schooler committee to make time for this work (staying friends with the chairman though, plus now I'm back on committee, as the OLPC work is mostly done).

Somewhere between "Quaker animism" (me) and "Pierce's existentialism" (Terry), I inserted a reassuring write-up for Wanderers (#1954). The campaign to get an Intel Inside logo pasted on some flavors of XO was more of a marketing gimmick than anything, to draw attention to some smokin' new chips we're all looking forward to (yum, new Intel chips).

But the default AMD chip is working just fine from the point of view of our clients. Plus Intel has every freedom to inject its own offerings in the market (Classmates or whatever). The XO is highly specialized, customized for a niche demographic, which leaves the field wide open to other $100 laptops (closer to $200 as of this posting).

From my vantage point in Python Nation, the XO is a robust little platform stuffed with goodies: lots of literature, lots of programs, lots of pointers back to MIT and its infamous OpenCourseWare, and back to Hollywood, where G1G1 helped with many a fun party.

"What's important to sales is sales people who really believe in what they're selling" goes the old maxim, and there's lots to like in this picture.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Data Display Tool

That's a rough estimate of my mileages using a new API from Google, thanks to Guido for the heads up. This'll be a good way to teach about paramater passing via URL.