Sunday, May 31, 2009

Knowing (movie review)

This is a mash-up of several summer movie genres, an exercise in making them all fit fairly seamlessly.

Nicolas Cage is our beautiful mind guy, at MIT, teaching a confusing blend of philosophy in which strict determinism is the comforting faith, whereas "shit happens" is godless and depressing, though open to miracles.

That's not how it's supposed to work. Strict determinism is supposed to flip you into a despair cycle over your lack of free will. "Random acts" means you might pursue happiness.

But "MIT guy" is out to lunch on these threads -- or needs to be, in prep for mental breakdown, or so it first seems...

The whispery gothic of a New England ghost story is deftly inserted into a Stepford Wives 1950s, with eerily well-behaved kids living in some Norman Rockwell tableau (a favorite of the horror genre).

The Close Encounters people might as well be the same ones from AI? They look more like Spike though.

The ending is pure Genesis, but don't let me spoil it for ya (look for symbols).

And smack in the middle, there's Lost and that helpless feeling of just going by the numbers, not really helping the situation. Even after the plane crash, the train wreck is yet more spectacular.

So yeah, a real tour de force, and actually pretty seamless as plots go.

I'd say the title, Knowing, is self referential, means "we know movies" (and no lie, we do).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Please Explain...

Cursory readers get a lot of question marks going off as they read the computer stuff these days, as the technical writing has only gotten more technical, but that doesn't always mean less comprehensible.

Engineering is about making sense.

When you work on a web page, staging for purchase, that's private information until you hit a submit button, or should be. Then a little suitcase gets stuffed full of data and sent through a portal, watch Warriors of the Net if confused about how our truck fleet does business (a packet delivery service).

What goes with that suitcase, like an airline baggage tag, is a URL. In a modern framework, that might be filtered, like through charcoal (no, I'm not drinking Jack Daniels at the moment), to a "view builder" (like in Django), which will fish in the database per instructions, then prepare the fish (perhaps smoking it), for sending back down the pipe, an HttpResponse object, another suitcase.

Yes, these are all metaphors. We're talking bits and bytes, as usual, but something more colorful is more likely to stick, n'est pas?

"Preparing the fish" (or "dressing it") is what templating is all about (using a template language, lots of boilerplate HTML, CSS, scripting). You should imagine yourself sharing this service with random anonymous others, all hoping for a responsive web service.

A web framework is a lot like short order cook, taking tickets on a big wheel, a public display of our queue (customers like the transparency, though once on the other side of the counter, it gets more parallel with the orders, plus who knows which staff are out sick or whatever -- thank you for your patience).

No, I haven't talked about SQL yet, nor MapReduce. That's all about the "go fishing" instructions, which may get processed through an ORM.

An ORM is an Object Relational Mapper, takes the scattered data from "the bone yard" (related tables) and reconstitutes a real case history, a once living and breathing human being, leaving valuable clinical data to medical researchers. An ORM is also a two-way street in mapping new patient data back to these registries.

That's one application of Postgres or Oracle or DB2 or any other reliable SQL engine you may have heard about and/or used.

These engines
may not be considered especially sexy or glamorous to work on perhaps, but they're still important work horses of our way of life, on so many levels.

We should teach more about the SQL ecosystem in the high schools, with the MVC math that goes with it (also group theory, along with the J notion of "rank" or "dimension" -- a bridge to polytopes down the road).

I've got this "how it works" explanation storyboarded with more Monty Python like visuals (castle, knights) in other chapters, with less focus on the suitcases and/or TCP/IP.

Also, I so far haven't explained how your hit against some server might unleash quite the JavaScript controller (like a puppet master, dominates the DOM), ready to take over client-side, we hope in a nice way.

If you've ever fought tooth and nail with your browser, and lost, chances are you were up against malware. More dangerous yet is to download actual executables masquerading as "just in time" helpers, after delivering bad news (e.g. "you've been infected, download this now!").

Spam and scam artists know their psychology, so take care, study up on file permissions, learn how to scan for open ports and so forth. We touched on some of this with HPD (a class we taught), hoping the schools would take notice.

Is it that too few CTOs have a mandate to share their knowledge?

As town-gown relations improve, so too will our level of security against all of these malicious cyber-threats. The Internet is a fun place to play, but you need some real training. Join us on the new digital math track maybe, in overlap with gym.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flash Back

Stanley Theater
(click through to Flickr photostream)

Some Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door this afternoon, just like in a movie. Yet these were not stereotypical, whatever that looks like. The mom was a striking young blond woman, hair pulled back, in a bright ankle length dress. She had her beautiful daughter along, about twelve maybe, going door to door.

They were basically spreading good cheer, not asking for money or anything, just being upbeat, countering doom and gloom, said we could come to their church if we wanted. I said we might, often took our Quaker students on field trips to learn about other practices and faiths.

We yakked about the Brooklyn HQS and I then I shared my Jersey City story: when a penniless college grad, still somewhat wild, I'd gone after the Stanley Theater as a redevelopable property, thinking IMAX for NYU kids, assigned to watch these curriculum movies and coming over on the PATH, checking out the wild map on the back of Loew's, other crazy "theme park" talk.

I even had a frame of IMAX film from the company (showing the space shuttle I think it was), because maybe I'd called Gedfrey Reggio about getting Koyaanisqatsi in that format, memory dims.

The mom liked that we shared a lot of partially overlapping lore. She knew about The Stanley, which the Jehovah's Witnesses had secured -- a good thing, as it needed restoration, not demolition.

Woody Allen drew attention to the same theater by filming some of his Zelig using it, Glenn Baker (then a house mate) shot this picture of the guy:

Woody Allen Directing

I forgot to mention that James Hollis quoted Woody Allen a couple times in his lecture, as Walter Kaufmann used to too. Nancy kindly shared her notes from that FCJ evening including this Horace Walpole quote: "Life is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think" -- something to think about anyway.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Silicon Forest: Origins

A Chronology
(click through to Flickr photostream)

reminds me of Portland Knowledge Lab in the sense that the aggregate of skills and talents in this building could probably launch a whole new economy, but how does one leverage such intangibles? Barcamps don't happen that frequently.

The coworking movement is still new with people on their own to figure out what self organizing means, although you can bet your bottom banana that manager types have little workshops lined up, and yes, these'll be really useful, some of 'em, when it comes to lifelong "learning a living".

In looking for lost stuff, I found The Silicon Forest: High Tech in the Portland Area 1945 - 1986 by Gordon B. Dodds and Craig E. Wollner (1990, Oregon Historical Society). You can bet I'll be quoting from it on the Wanderers list, helping us better appreciate our unique situation on Hawthorne Boulevard, the birthplace of said forest:
Oregon's original "Silicon Forest" was on Portland's Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, in Douglas Strain's company that eventually became Electro Scientific Industries and in Jack Murdock and Howard Vollum's appliance store that later became Tektronix. [pg. 10]
Linus Pauling, Doug's teacher at Cal Tech, isn't listed in the index though, even though he fell in love with chemistry in the very house we meet in, as "wanderers by choice" (not anchored in the "settled disciplines" -- more like gypsies I guess).

I don't remember if this book mentions the ESI building on Stark Street, to which the company had to retreat after that disastrous fire on Macadam, other companies chipping in. The Quakers got it later.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pair Teaching

If you've been tuning in the buzz in gnu math circles, you know we're into something called extreme programming (XP), which overlaps with TDD (test driven development), some of R0ml's modeling.

One hallmark of XP is "pair programming" where you don't code as a solo activity. This practice is typically carried out in corporate settings, under the supervision of managers schooled in these techniques. How often one switches partners and what the various workstations get tasked with doing, is part of the "secret sauce" one needn't share with the world in any detail, yet may package for training purposes, or for TV documentaries.

The pair programming practice has maybe morphed somewhat given the DVCS-based approach: let everyone watch the whole show, including test off-shoots, then use social networking tools to agree on and tag release versions, to resolve merge and branch issues, to harness the synergies. It's obviously not either/or.

How this business world milieu influenced the curriculum was in helping to spread this practice of "pair teaching". Having math and history teachers work as a team, as co-workers, sharing the floor, modeling peer-to-peer behaviors, was considered unusual at the time of this writing. The prevailing template was "one teacher, many children", not our contemporary "minimum two" standard.

Friday, May 22, 2009

USB to Kill CubeSpace?

Much as PPS is wanting to discontinue LEP High, which put Portland on the map as a city where big dreams come true, so is US Bank wanting to destroy its own reputation for thinking outside the box, which it briefly had when investing in Cubespace, a place for Portland's most computer savvy to be productive. No, this is not a joke.

Rumors that PDC might take over the contract are probably wrong, but it's not too late to contact bank shareholders and suggest they start quizzing management on the thinking here. Does it originate in Portland or is Colorado calling the shots? Given it's a real estate issue, we might even interest The Oregonian, as that's the only topic it seems to care about these days (local property values).

I'm thinking Portland has an interesting ability to nip itself in the bud, economically speaking, probably comes from working with roses so much. You won't get much out of City Hall when it comes to "shovel ready", as they're too busy whooping it up in some daytime soap, as if anyone really cared about that stuff beyond an outraged minority fed by a sensationalist media.

In terms of geek hangouts, we have other options, use Twitter, Calagator, other tools to stay organized. So it's not like the end of the world, just another bank going down in flames in terms of reputation for foresight, happens every day. Remember Ben Franklin? I used to work there. Now it's a government office building.


Spoofing Again

This is one I think back on sometimes, as an aging philosophy teacher looking for "private language" examples. This captures the essence, no?

Like I'd gladly show Nell starring Jodie Foster another thousand times, but the advantage of this one is:

(a) it's short and...

(b) it has the appearance of a dialog, which is closer to what Wittgenstein was getting at in Philosophical Investigations: a dialectic, a conversation with himself (the slower guy in scare quotes, usually).

:: silver shoe not regulation either ::

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wanderers 2009.5.20

Patrick is yakking about a 2000-layer GIS system he knows about, good for monitoring air space in real time. Q&A ensues.

I just gave a lightning talk on 2nd / 3rd powering per what I'm importing from the Philippines, via user groups, math circles. Given the Philippines is Anglophone, 3rd largest, exports math teachers, we're thinking this gnu mix will work well to spread FOSS tools, Django, Rails... bring down the costs associated with medical science, free North Americans from the more cynically parasitic. This won't be the first time we've benefited from our special relationship with that archipelago of talented sea peoples.

There's a lot of buzz around this "missing link", science turning a new page as far as ponying up for media parties. NASA is pretty good at media, although the Russians got a lot of bang for the buck just by hosting visionaries, making orbiting in zero-G a great sport (more democratic, less state controlling).

Either way, the space program has always understood about media, theme parks, museums -- keep the public in the loop (pretty simple strategy, works wonders, take a page from Madison Avenue why not?).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Haps

:: from pdf flipbook by ron resch ::

LH, a phys ed chief, back from NIH gig in DC, met up with some top regional talent re shunting CRRs back to HQS for GIS services etc. Mapping diabetes two correlated with fast food establishment density will prove revealing I bet, in service of medical science. Thx for update re Tacoma, Women's Rights museum, buying lunch for chauffeur.

Left her Fast Food Nation for review.

RR sent half gig easter egg PDF flipbook, while my one free sample got turned into some glorious Python by GL, our Viennese turtle keeper. Ron is an effing genius I'm thinking. Glenn and I hope to support PPS with first dibs and sneak peeks on a lotta stuff, ISEPP willing (he's an ISEPP senior fellow, also CSN CSO).

CHR did a 3-day training in inter-cultural competence, can never have too much of that I agree. Sent her CCs of my Sociality writings for analysis (or not).

Fine Grind kicked off a new art show, continuing proud traditions. Our CFO picked the right team. Andrew's gear statues (which Tara adores) front and center, Andrew himself off to Spain for a spell (looking forward to travelogue).

Eating ice cream today, celebrating making it to 51 (lots of up hill). Been shooting around my 14 mile loop on Tinkerbell some, aiming for 52. Looking forward.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bait and Switch

So, it looks like the lobbies have finally succeeded in getting USA TV watchers to stop babbling about Osama Bin Laden, and start fixating on Swat Valley instead -- with more valleys where that one came from.

The enemy is now the Taliban, whom were not the masterminds behind the WTC Pentagon 911 attack, let's remember (invaded Iraq because why again?). No, these were rather the heroes against Soviet expansionism, then called majahadeen and/or freedom fighters, their fundamentalism overlooked as not a key issue in that election campaign (don't they have a right to religious freedom? -- the USSR is totalitarian and says no, so we must fight them).

Their fanaticism is the core issue now though i.e. they're not supposed to hate the USA on penalty of death, and the Swat Valley looks like some giant Mormon compound, full of abused orphans in need of rescuing by remotely controlled drones (from some bunker in Texas?).

That's a long way from seeking "the bearded one" in some concrete bunker (like Saddam had), a rather exhausting enterprise plus never a big employer, unlikely to pay many bills. The Brits took one look at playing "man hunt" in that terrain and got out, long ago.

But speakers of Washington DC's brand of legalese (a dialect of punditry) are getting imaginative again, threatening to bomb this or that population "into the Stone Age" because hey, these people might be some kind of threat maybe.

There's more than a little hypocrisy in this position, but if you put on your Manifest Destiny helmet (to go with the mirror sunglasses), then all that nasty "thinking about it" magically goes away. No inconvenient truths need apply.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back on the Beat

:: museum gift shop toy: instructional booklet ::

I'm doing the usual math teacher beat today, checking in with my sources, one could say "my informants" but that usually means "tattle tales" and I'm not into accusing my peers on the street of such petty crimes. Anyway, I usually don't get to know that much of the picture, at least not from their angle.

I also distribute info (a two way trade), some say "on the sly" but I feel we're pretty up front about it (i.e. open source), we who teach "the Gnu Math" (as some call it, me included).

Today, it's all about this game of "BAT and Ball", an easy mnemonic, reminding of an all-American pass time. In this lesson plan activity, we equate the B, A and T modules (widgets, sliver shapes) in terms of volume, and relate them to our CCP ball of unit radius, a high frequency system (lets say "porous"), maybe spinning (to even out the bumpy bits). Or lets picture a bowling ball, again all-American.

The B & A
build a rhombic dodecahedron (RD) of volume 6 while the T builds a rhombic triacontahedron (RT) of volume 5. We're using tetra-volumes of course, our right as an ethnicity (as buckaneers or whatever). Each RD contains one unit radius ball, tangent to 12 others at the diamond-face centered K-points (kissing points).

What I've been yakking about in review, is our phi/sqrt(2) radius for this other larger rhombic triacontahedron of K-mods (in this namespace), the one that edge-wise criss-crosses the aforementioned volume 6 RD, although not as its dual ("coworker" maybe).

Volume 5 RT
height h of T-module, 1/120th of volume 5 RT
(in tetravolumes)

Its 7.5 volume may be reduced to 5 by a scale factor of course, its radius shrinking by a 3rd root of 2/3 to meet up with the T-module's and an overall volume of 120 * 1/24.

In the meantime, two As (a left and a right) and a B (a left or a right), define our minimum space filler as depicted on page 71 of Regular Polytopes, dubbed "a MITE" in some circus geek gypsy talk but otherwise known as a trirectangular tetrahedron of specific dimensions.

MITE with two Whacks
:: a MITE and two Whacks, on page 71 ::

Given 3 * (1/24) = 1/8, and given our MITEs fill space with no gaps, we have the basis for some excellent gift shop offerings, educational toys, some of which I already have in my collection, for classroom sharing, and/or recording in studio.

Yes, I'm tracking NASA's Atlantis, on an 11 day service call to Hubble, just about 4 hours into it at the moment.

:: roadshow materials, battle scarred ::

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Great Buck Howard (movie review)

This is an amazingly good movie, just what the doctor ordered given I'm swimming deep in the blues, thank you world and Friendly Care committee clerk (a death and dying professor, good with basket cases, this one about to turn 51). This was my first time at Living Room Theaters.

John Malkovitch plays everyone's projection of the washed up extra, whom we all feel we've seen a million times (on The Tonight Show probably). His career is always just about over (or is over already) as he goes pay check to pay check, which he has to obtain through some Friendly discernment process the audience isn't clear about, but enjoys watching nonetheless.

The young Hanks plays against his father. He's following his heart's desires in being Buck's sidekick, instead of finishing law school (I'd say Blunt is proof he's on the right track), telling people he's "a writer", which hit home for me as that's what I was telling Keiko about myself the other day too (like Russ, she's from Brazil, speaks Japanese (Russ more Chinese)) -- probably thinking of my Connecting the Dots paper for Vilnius.

Yet this Hanks guy is in a successful movie with his famous dad, me watching, and I'm not even booked on Letterman yet (I'd have no idea what to say, something funny we'd hope). So yeah, I'm jealous, even being a mentalist looks pretty good (yummy cash), I should get one of those ear mics.

When cruel Las Vegas cuts out the corny parts, the act goes to hell. Buck is happiest in Bakersfield, where he can sing about love on his upright piano. I felt good about that because lots of Urners live in Bakersfeld (just check the listings), bet those were some of my relatives in the audience.

There's irony in our back stage talents wanting to know if the Great Buck is really gay, with the answer being "we don't know, he's never with anybody". He does embrace George Takei though (played by himself), but then who wouldn't (everybody loves Sulu, me included).

The punch line of this film is The Great Buck Howard is based on the The Amazing Kreskin, whom I used to watch on TV as well, and we still don't really know how he did it either. Another tough act to follow.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Yakking Trekkies

...or locking horns or whatever [is Cliff a trekkie?], excerpt from Synergeo, fixed a typo, hyperlinks added:

Re: operational math

--- In, Clifford Nelson wrote:
> Cubical volume times Sqrt[72] is the
> tetra-volume when the edge length
> of the tetrahedrons is one. When
> the edge length of the tetrahedrons
> is two the volume of the tetrahedron
> is eight times more, so you multiply
> cubical-volume by Sqrt[72]/8 =
> Sqrt[9/8] = 3/(2*Sqrt[2]).
> Cliff Nelson

In hammering together an XYZ <-> IVM bridge for two-way travel, Fuller began where he often began, with 4 CCP balls (IVM "spheres") in inter-tangency, forming the 6-edged simplex of edges 2 PVR i.e. twice the prime vector radius.

This is home base or unit volume in Synergetics, so then the next question is how to relate it back to XYZ training you might have gotten in high school. Given Cartesians love to fill space with cubes and fixate on rectilinear as "normal", we should just do the usual and intersect our home base tetrahedron with its own dual, thereby supplying the 8 points to hang a cube frame.

The geometry to prove this cube has volume 3, given the opening tetrahedron had volume 1, is really easy, is sometimes done as an animation (per Synergetics Folio and/or color posters in Synergetics2).

So here's the Cartesian, staring at this sculpture, four tuned in balls, two tetrahedra, a cube. Given he knows the balls are unit radius (that's a given), it occurs to him that the cube's face diagonals are all edge length two (given they interconnect the centers of adjacent IVM spheres). This is one sphere diameter or one interval (0 Frequency), but it's also unity-2, so go with the 2 why not? Using Pythagorean Theorem, that gives edges of sqrt(2) and that to the 3rd power would be the sought-for volume, ergo sqrt(2)**3. So, if my toMAHto is 3 and your toMAYto is sqrt(2)**3 (or vice versa), then now we have the basis for
converting any polyhedron at all. Your volume will be a little smaller. Fuller liked 'em kinda close (easy on the memory -- "we rule, but only by a tad").

Where this sqrt(72) comes from in the original two volumes I have no idea, but I'm guessing this is something from your Synergetics Coordinates contraption, which lives elsewhere in the literature (e.g. on MathWorld and Wikipedia, though that Wikipedia page needs a champion -- you were rather critical of it in this archive, no one else seems to know what it means).


Colorful Cover
new from Hop David

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


:: lindsey ::

Lindsey, Patrick and I were yakking at Angelo's about this and that geeky topic, Patrick being generous with the beers.

Lindsey, a fresh face in Portland, shared her perception that FOSS (free and open source software) has meant "unsupported" in much of corporate America, or, as I'd sketch it: somebody's brother in law writes a custom application and then vanishes, what next?

Because the tools were free, the barrier to entry was low, but now company X is left holding the bag. This happens in the nonprofit sector all the time.

That's not really a FOSS issue though, as we had the same phenomenon when the tools were not free. The client either paid for the tools, or more likely the developer paid for a development environment, like Visual Studio, and the client had some runtime abilities, maybe with no source code whatsoever. If the brother in law vanished in this case, the situation would be more dire still.

If it's an important application with a long life span, you'll want continuity in personnel, even if individuals pass the baton and move on, meaning you'll want a bevy of developers (people tasked with developing), version control, and well documented source code. A company isn't expecting too much in wanting this for itself.

However, I was also schooled to promote self sufficiency and independence in the nonprofit sector, so the best solution of all involved training up geeks in-house, getting the application supported internally.

Sometimes you just need to outsource the initial design and first iteration, accomplished in tandem with developers, but then tweaking, enhancements, or even coding a whole derivative application (i.e. rather similar to the first one), becomes part of the job description of in-house personnel ("in-house" might include working off site on occasion).

For example, so-called "end users" liked Microsoft Access because they could add fields to the database and tweak the screens to show them. You didn't need to rely on some remote authority to make these little changes. Microsoft Access allowed for more autonomy (which sometimes meant a big mess, live and learn).

However, Access doesn't scale well as a multi-user application on the server. Microsoft would prefer you use SQL Server for that, with Access a client maybe, although these days a preferred client is the web browser itself. But once the application is on the server, what happens to all that autonomy? Aren't you at the very least now at the mercy of the IT department?

These are workflow issues, less than software issues. It's true there's no FOSS tool quite like Access, or at least Rekall and the database features in OpenOffice don't seem quite the same thing. But when it comes to server side applications serving out through an intranet (i.e. not "world facing"), FOSS shines.

What doesn't shine in many cases is the ability of in-house personnel to control their own destiny, with software tools of any kind, open or closed. From their point of view, it might just as well all be closed, because "source code" is just gobbledygook.

Per Guido's CP4E (Computer Programming for Everybody), a core goal is to demystify the code base to where company X is empowered to maintain more of its own applications, because the source is all there, along with the documentation and people who know how to tweak it.

If cube farmer Y is one of the five people tasked with database schemas (say some relational system in Postgres), and finds a job with a different company, then she trains her replacement and moves on. The company still has five people trained in that area.

Of course not every small business is big enough to put five people on anything. Nevertheless, if the developers demystify as they go, supply training and source code, plus serve as professional hand-holders if there's a serious overhaul in the cards, not just small fixes, then the resulting in-house culture will enjoy more autonomy and self-sufficiency.

If a field needs to be added, a template changed, even a sole proprietor might make those changes, between manning a cash register and baking scones in the back.

Bringing out your inner geek, training her, feeding her, could be a goal of some of your educational experiences. Offer to become your employer's point person in working with developers and suggest to your CTO or other manager that in-house autonomy, which requires access to source code, is a cost saving measure in many cases.

Of course many developers are snickering in their sleeves around now because they know their gnarly C++ or Java application is just way too complicated for any end user to enhance or debug.

Their job security depends on their being professional coders and their giant closed source application is for authorized personnel only, and that means clients will need a support contract and will just need to get in line for service. If the client ventures to make changes, that voids the support contract.

On the other hand, many clients don't realize how a simpler solution might actually fit the bill, how sometimes you just need a different tool set or a different set of developers more willing to empower client companies.

So if you're a company, shop around. Don't just assume you need to outsource indefinitely and think twice before investing heavily in source code you'll never get to see or modify, especially if you're Uncle Sam. If the public is funding your project, FOSS is the way to go, if you're serious about leveraging the net benefits (i.e. really serving said public).

Given my "empower the client" philosophy, you might see why I come off as such a fiend around overhauling math teaching. We need students to eyeball more source code, write more of it themselves. As a nation, we shouldn't be outsourcing everything. I see this as an opportunity to get real, pass on a lot of skills people actually need. Plus I don't skimp on the actual mathematics.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Scoop and Syndicate

:: from coffee shops network, may 2009 ::

The word "scoop" has mixed connotations, usually good in the news business as it means "an exclusive", plus Ben and Jerry's serves "scoops". But then there's "pooper scooper" and so "scoop" in a more negative sense, as in nasty tabloids, obnoxious hissy fits.

Above, I'm scooping with Picassa and syndicating through Google. It only took a few seconds. Blogs all over the world have little embedded LCDs, channeling Bucky geometry, potentially speaking. We were checking billboard prices, thinking about Iceland maybe (for algebra, not just geometry). Yes, they cost a lot (side of a bus, airport concourse... taxi teepee).

In any case, the idea of a "one man newsroom", so ridiculous to contemplate much above the level of "pamphleteer" until recently (or some nun with a mimeograph machine, trying to get us to care about homeless), is by now the reality, with lots of "one man show" blogonauts having followings (circulations) that rival small rags, certainly compete with major columnists.

You don't need your Time or your Newsweek to be a George Will anymore.

The same is coming for television if it's not already here, and who can deny this is that "democratization within the media" we've long espoused in the name of equity, at least at the lip service level.

Who woulda thunk it that tireless engineers took our requests seriously, and now we've got what we wished for.

Plus the great thing about the Internet is it's more a pull than a push, so you can't so easily blow a gasket when you see the wrong stuff. There's an implied "you asked for it" in the very concept of httpRequest. Of course if it's assigned reading or homework, maybe you'll need to drop the class? Talk to your professor?

This is not to excuse abusive Javascripts however, or scam sites that prey on the defenseless in ways that excite our justice system to action, so yeah, the FBI loves to play cybersleuth, has better tools than most noobs.

Sites get shut down every day, especially if making false health claims that're dangerous to believe. Interpol looks for that too, as the international trade in placebos or worse is a booming business. So if you're claiming science is on your side, better have some ducks in a row when your peers come a-knocking.

Speaking of which, that opening episode of Mad Men is hilarious: "We can't claim cigarettes are good for you anymore, we've hit a dead end"; "How about telling people they have a death wish so live it up?" (psychology still new kid on the block); so better: "lets just tell 'em some nonsense that makes 'em feel better and they'll buy". And the rest is history.

Anyway, I'm bullish about editing and filtering (e.g. mathcasts) as I think that's where the action is, especially in curriculum writing (one of my specialties -- I do a kick ass kind of math movie, sometimes just storyboards).

There's no shortage of content; people are being generous, and the infrastructure is just getting more and more reliable. Derek has the latest Ubuntu Studio (based on Jackalope), phoned me from Fine Grind to let me know.

We have any number of Pentiums to reconfigure (even some Duo Core), should we choose to go that route. I haven't talked to Free Geek lately. Toaster farms: every school needs an Intranet, for storing school plays (MPEGs).

Yes, that trusty school intranet: a growing repository of place-based information, GIS resources, student blogs, archived threads. This is what those "gnu math teachers" will help you set up and administer (could be your same teachers, on a learning curve with the rest of us).

Just because you acquire some sysop skills in high school doesn't mean you're committing to a nerdy existence in some windowless cubicle. Even small villages in France with plenty of fresh air could use a sysop or two, plus you'll have other day jobs as well (thinking of the new face of IB).

Friday, May 01, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (movie review)

The Architect by deus

Without rehashing plot details, let me just point out the perennial nature of this story line, of children with secret gifts, getting sucked in to government experiments, with clueless generals at the top.

Yes, it's a Marvel comic. What did you expect?

You get a similar plot in The Incredibles though, and in Harry Potter, with muggles versus the outcasts, the geeks like Hermione or whatever.

Yes, it's an old story.

So then I get home from the movie at Pioneer Place, and Dr. Nick reminds me of The Architect by a group called deus. Why not revisit and work that in?

I call this the "slow superman" telling of Bucky's story, in that he goes into some privacy booth, then comes out with a plan (a solution), but it takes him like a whole year to get changed.

Lots can change in a year.

The X-Men saga is a long one and this is a prequel. I saw another part on an airplane that time.

And hey, I'm not saying kids aren't secretly gifted or that government programs don't secretly exist. Geeks like this genre for a reason, way more than Revenge of the Nerds say.

How I explained it to Kirk Petersen (old Princeton friend) on Facebook: Weird Al makes fun of nerds, but is a geek.