Saturday, June 27, 2009

Medical Privacy

A theme in this blog is the unscrolling white paper, like D.W. Jacobs used in his play about Bucky, reminiscent of Turing Machines as well, also electroencephalographs, electrocardiograms, all that good stuff -- lots of wiggly needles (polygraphs, whatever).

Except we're not so into those analog metaphors (continuous graphs), prefer lots of data points, more like alphanumeric stuff. Of course it's not either/or. You might even have cines (what heart doctors call the little movies they make, of your heart beating and stuff, perhaps with a dye for contrast). It's a lot like a blog actually, a time-stamped scroll that starts before you're born with some ultrasound, continues awhile after you die, giving cause of death information.

What Joe Public wants to know is what prying eyes are going over his records, looking for information to use against him, like to hike his premiums or other blackmail.

These are legitimate suspicions, not to be pooh poohed, and fortunately at the vanguard of medical science are our military services.

This is not fortunate in the sense that we wish for bloodshed (better to not fight like that), but in the sense that institutions professionally concerned with defense will thereby be somewhat savvy about encryption, and Joe Public's privacy is best assured if we make wise use of cryptographic tools to ensure that high standards of medical ethics are upheld.

Instruments might sign their outputs for authentication e.g. the hospital maintains a trusted ring of devices certified to spit back measures. Sometimes we'll want to trace back to that device by serial number, in case of a suspected calibration error, or more likely we're simply keeping cross-checks "because we can" i.e. for future research purposes.

Like if I'm doctor X in Cincinnati, seeing this patient recently arrived from Singapore, and they zap me a pass key to the "main lobby" of this patient's history, I might then request further types of authentication just to verify that this is indeed what it purports to be, i.e. the instrumentation checks come back affirmative, like a microscope saying "yeah, I looked at that once, and I really do exist in room 14A".

I'm not suggesting we're anywhere close to the above, just that doctors, like patients, needn't assume an all-or-nothing vista, when it comes to accessing medical records, either another's or one's own. On the other hand, summary certifications that you aren't infectious in various ways might save you the trouble of getting tested, for job situations where contaminants might be dangerous (space station?).

In other words, you'd have easy ways to assure those with a "need to know" that you're over eighteen, have adequate night vision etc. etc. -- just like a note from your doctor, signed and everything.

I'm thinking if we're successful in starting up some more ecovillages with quasi-autonomy, more like company towns (though often with more democratic structures) that we'll see these problems addressed in many a microcosm.

And yes, of course open standards bodies will grow up in between, with vendors touting their compatibility with those standards, same as it ever was. But word of mouth tourism will also be important.

You don't get away from anecdotal evidence that easily, especially where medical care is concerned. Some cruise ships do it better, and you can't always trust those commercials now can you? That's what travel agents are for, to steer you away from "sights unseen" (and better left that way) as well as towards a healing destination (some perfect spa perhaps).

The medical staff will simply be a part of the community, continuous with the Chief of Health and Fitness if there is one (no doubt with a bevy of coaches, as smart cultures invest in preventative measures way more aggressively than in any "mindless consumer" model, a kind of self-lobotomizing lifestyle, such as the one popular in 1900s middle America and centered around "junk food" and spoofed in the movie Supersize Me).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Avogadro's Number

Wikipedia's entry on the Mole, a measure of substance, complains that "the [misconception that the] mole is simply a counting aid, has even found its way into elementary chemistry textbooks". That's good cause for worry, as what gets into elementary works tends to have a long half life sometimes.

In any case, we do have Avogadro's Number as the number of carbon atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12, and yes that sounds stupid and arbitrary but at least 12 is easily divisible by a lot of factors, unlike 10 with just two factors.

Suppose you have a cuboctahedron of cee cells, those mythical rhombic dodecahedral casements built by "cees" instead of "bees". It's a "ghost ship" in that, like a grid of XYZ cubes, it has only ethereal existence as a "grid" i.e. doesn't disturb the waters with any eddies or ionization.

:: a cuboctahedron of cees, f = 3 ::

Say we're floating our inert assembly in an ideal gas of uniform density and want to fine tune our shape to contain one Mole of said substance i.e. an average of one molecule at the center of each cell. What would be the frequency of said cuboctahedron?

A brute force approach would be to simply accumulate a running total on our old friend, the number sequence 1, 12, 42, 92... The running total there is 1, 13, 55, 147... where frequency is 0, 1, 2, 3... etc. Let's "do the math":

:: doing the math in Python 3.1 ::

Usefully, we might now actually attach a real scale to the frequency 56,531,530, to compute any one of the edges of our 14 windowed, 12 cornered reference shape. That number times the interval between any two ball centers (gas molecules) in the CCP will give you an empirical volume.

It's not like the gas molecules are really "standing still" nor does our reference shape exert pressure. Think of the gas containment as relatively huge, walls unseen, and taking this "core sample" (like a biopsy) somewhere towards the middle, where conditions are settled and uniform (i.e. "rank and file" from a statistical standpoint).

The cuboctahedron has some advantages over the cube, e.g. equal circumferential and radial intervals, but if you prefer to work in cubes, just remember the 20:3 ratio.

:: radials == circumferentials ::

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pythonic Means Pithy?

Some of the etymologists among you may be by crying "foul", as "pith" and "python" stem from different roots. However, pith relates to the spinal cord and backbone, and snakes are all about backbone, plus Python's __rib__ syntax provides ways for Python to stay pithy. Not that far fetched. Note also that "pithy" doesn't mean "so dense as to be obfuscatory" i.e. "pythonic" doesn't mean "cryptic".

We're seeing Athena's snake as the very same one Apollo supposedly slew when taking Delphi from the Pythians. She's alive and well in another part of the world, informing prophetic music (Thomas Paine: to prophesy is to sing). In dialing back to a more ancient wisdom, we're getting to the more medical meanings, the entwined snakes of Aesculapius.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Killing Field

I feel sorry for Panetta who, like Tenet two before him, had to publicly embrace the uber-cowards running the attack drones in Pakistan, one of those "Nazi holdover" jobs that lost us hearts and minds around the world in Vietnam as well.

Not coincidentally, we've had Nixon on lately, on tape, spewing his racist neo-Nazi views about Jews ("suicidal", "death wish") and abortion (if the parents are "different races" they should have one).

How a nutcase like this ever got to be president (a snow job by Kissinger? Haig?) we'll always want to know. Should we blame Quakers? Don't we have any quality control in our little group?

Actually I don't blame Kissinger. Dick just seemed so much like other Americans, which is why he got elected, a sad comment on our demographics, but there ya go. Who said we were perfect?

They're asking the same questions about the CIA today (how it became Nazi), which is why I empathize with these clerks er directors. So many pathologies, so little time. Better screening in future is always the mantra.

Open source
has been beneficial, in adding more transparency. We've also had some better books, blogs, movies... other resources. Mass killing by remote control just isn't what spooks are about (they're more what you get when you do that stuff i.e. that haunting feeling that you'll be passed over for promotion, at least in this lifetime).

May the uber-cowards rot in hell for all eternity (God might forgive them but I never will -- but then I'm a throwaway mortal so who cares).

On another topic, we enjoyed a fine family reunion today, thanks to Bill Lightfoot. I'm glad the Talmadges are taking bold action in Bellingham. I hope to get there one day soon, enroute to the meeting in BC.

Monday, June 22, 2009


As I was mentioning to my OS Bridge group, if you're politically against something, talk about how expensive it is, whereas if you're for it, talk up the jobs it'll create.

For example, a serious commitment to pair teaching, even if only along a trailblazing digital math track in test zip code areas, would create lots of new opportunities, including for vets in some cases.

True, we'd probably import some of our talent from overseas, maybe from schools already doing it (FOSS culture is everywhere), given the local schools aren't that well focused (yet). However, the gap could narrow with time and with a certain amount of revamping i.e. curriculum overhaul, especially at the teacher training level.

So is doubling the need for math teachers a good thing or a bad thing?

If you're thinking how damn expensive it'll be, you probably don't like, and maybe don't understand, your mathematics, a big part of your American heritage (president Garfield had a cool visual proof for the Pythagorean Theorem involving trapezoids -- another geek president we should learn more about).

Some idiocrats are thinking: "if there's no money for promising civilian initiatives, then maybe pent up frustration will build us a head of steam and we can get on with some war", which is of course the "el cheapo" way to think i.e. it's easy-sleazy to imagine war profiteering scenarios, once a sufficient level of mayhem and mob psychology is dialed in with mass media complicity.

Stoking the flames of war is what fear-based politics is all about (aka the so-called "War on Terror"), as typified by the various millennial apocalyptic and/or neocon pathologies, usually tinged with religious lunacy ala that Opus Dei nutcase in Da Vinci Code (Ollie North is another example, although maybe it's autism in his case).

After a whole generation had grown sick of war in the 1940s, at least in the European theater, a vastly transformative futurism took hold of this nation's imagination, centered around the I-net or Interstate Freeway System, and the commuter-based lifestyles this system might support.

People would watch movie trailers about how these things called "on ramps" and "merging" would soon be in their future. World's Fairs were devoted to this topic, with those favoring urban rail considered killjoys by the grand visionaries. What happened next is the world of Cars.

We could scrape together a promising futurism even today, given how far our technologies have advanced since the 1940s. However, Americans have grown fat and docile, like Eloi, and herd together like lemmings in "fear clutches", many of them based on a tradition of protest (aka "protestant").

According to "protest" mentalities, somebody must be vilified and blamed, fingers must be pointed, and revenge against the wicked must be sought.

Although one may well drive big businesses with these motives, especially if trafficking in highly charged symbols, our geniuses Albert Einstein and Bucky Fuller have both suggested that longing, even more than vindictive small-mindedness, is a primary motivator of great human achievements.

Which brings us back to that Peace Dividend we keep expecting, now that a cynical, low-IQ response to everything is going out of style.

We're not in the mood to sucker for another big war right now, even if we're living like slumdogs.

We're ready for something better, right?

If that's true, then we shouldn't be shy about sketching bold visions of the future, the more the merrier, with an eye towards ramping up around some of the more attainable and desirable outcomes.

How's the global grid coming along?

The Department of Energy should give us those updates, not make the CIA's World Factbook do all the work. Why not make it a wiki?

Let's get those public service asses in gear shall we?

And let's insist on open sourcing digital assets whenever taxpayers are footing the bill. Give us stuff we can freely build with, like geodesic domes, like what's in those other expired patents (RSA etc.).

Friday, June 19, 2009


The "unconference" borrows from our "unprogrammed Friends" tradition, just as blogs imitate "journaling" -- engineers have been ripping off Quakers for hundreds of years (a joke, as we've always had many Q-engineers, check novel The Iron Bridge if you don't believe me).

The theory here is geeks are among the most agile at working together you'll ever meet, wired for connectivity from birth, light years ahead of diplomats and even some football players (NFL anyway), so just put us in a room (with wifi), give us donuts and free water (a luxury these days) and we'll hack the hell out of stuff, sprint, develop, dominate the world, and all for just $9.95!

In practice, we're not all "together Friends" and so bumble about a lot, looking for groups to join, tweets to twit about, not always the picture of self-organization.

For my part, I made a bee line to Gabrielle, hanging out with that Amazing Kreskin guy (Joshua Keroes), and informed her I hoped to infiltrate her group with a couple hand-picked elvyn chyx. "Not if they're reporters" she shot back. Me (feeling wounded): "no, of course not, but what if they're like bloggers on the side". She (still suspicious): "That might be OK". Anyway, she had places to go, people to see, so I peeled off at the point, zooming off to the Dragon Boat (more pictures!), thence to within earshot of a Server Sky meetup (hi Keith!).

Notes from the POSSE meeting with Howard:

Note to Portland Mayor Sam Adams re your RFP: we need a new Cubespace, a place where geek user groups are welcome, wifi is free, maybe a food court (indoor carts? dim sum?), definitely beer (nearby if not on the premises). Big free and open, but with secluded meeting areas, as secret sauces mix with open sources (like a cooking school -- have some of those, so lets copy their ideas). In Old Town? Near the Max?

Anyway, costs little to dream, loved Eric Sten's "render farm" idea too, maybe combine them somehow? East side? One idea is to work on civic systems as a group, not just on company stuff e.g. the Oregon Trail chapter of Red Cross is in serious need of a state of the art website. We could take that on maybe? What other NGOs perform vital civic services?

OS Garden is in the cloud but given the death of Jackalope Ubuntu (hardware at fault), I no longer have my local source version in an easily accessible format (SATA HD in carcass). I was consulting with Cronemeyer on how one backs out an image from the cloud, if the local copy goes away, or is that not a valid symmetry to be pursuing?

In any case, the MOTD will revert to "museum exhibit" for the time being, a souvenir. Not complaining. This was a conference worth remembering. I'm noticing this Toshiba doesn't have the right fonts, so my I Ching characters aren't materializing. Note to self: update these fonts.

I should grab some lunch (BV has wifi). Thanks to Dave Fabik for the T-shirt I'm wearing: I'm Blogging This.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Welcome to CodePlex

Sara Ford is a kick ass presenter. Microsoft chooses well, whom they wish to put forward as queen of open source, proof they've got the right DNA. They do have a serviceable server-side infrastructure (CodePlex), evolving by leaps and bounds, no question. But do they realize the value of what they've got (different question)?

Like from my angle, IronPython and some of these other agiles were supposed to give "monkey programmers" a new lease on life, give new meaning to Rapid Application Development (RAD), and yet the expert next to me said Visual Studio doesn't work with the DLR all that well, so these two flagships are delinking (ouch!).

"Monkey" is a technical term BTW, means "Mono" i.e. dot Net, the Microsoft Parrot, so "monkey developer" is not a put down, may actually pay quite well off and on, plus takes some real skills (IronPython is every bit as serious a coding language as CPython).

Given the loss of Visual Studio to the dinosaur past, my old fogey brain is going "OK so how might we repurpose the old VFP9 framework around IronPython or something like it?" i.e. isn't quick and easy drag and drop development Microsoft's trademark, what makes it the Disney of application development? It'd be a pity to lose that, after getting all the "right stuff" under one roof (finally).

Dunno if you'll prefer CodePlex, probably use if you're into vendor lock-in with Microsoft, a pleasant enough experience for many of us. It's specifically geared to work with their coworker suites, stuff the GNU/Linux people have likely never heard of. CodePlex itself is heavily tested on FireFox, Chrome and the others, so don't accuse these good folks in Redmond of overly favoring IE. They know what's out there and know customer satisfaction remains their number one objective. I expect Microsoft will keep reinventing itself successfully so long as they keep this in view.

Sara is ultra valuable, thanks again for sending her, glad we went with this talk.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday at Work

I'm ramping up for a conference, huddling with Wanderers on some of my slides, also looking forward to music this weekend, the sponsored walk for charity etc. (I have my iPod, but'd rather converse).

Here's an ASCII version of those slides (part of being a pioneer in open source is developing in the clear like this):
[0] title and opening credits
[1] the geography in question (like a videogame, like Uru by Cyan of Spokane)
[2] blasting a new track (Max tunnel metaphors)
[3] light at the end of the tunnel (sweet jobs in the Silicon Forest)
[4] on the ground (math wars R us)
[5] marketing strategies (private industry mulls 'em over)
[6] quick trip through some math topics in Python (yawn)
[7] recap of core strategies, "takeover" of PPS (willing recruits model, merit paid elite crew)
[8] FOSS in Culture (generic themes relevant to the conference)
[9] closing credits, 4D Solutions logo

Some more notes about the day job:

We can't anticipate every medical measure future doctors will want to record, but still might have a "best of both worlds" scenario in which instruments "recognize their own handwriting" after finding a signature (some industry standard), at which point the visualization routines kick in and you get something pretty to look at in some proprietary device with open source components.

However, the information harvesting MapReduce engines won't have trouble with these somewhat open ended stowages, will paw through looking for SQL-ready material. I'm not suggesting a lot of work for an "AI shop" here though -- people need to consciously instruct their harvesters what to look for, that "steering sense" of relevance (the root meaning of cybernetics) being too expensive to code properly, even if doable.

"Humans have affordable rates, lets use them instead!" (my standard rant, whenever they want oodles of noodles for some AI "wrong tree" that won't work in ways Sir Roger might explain to ya).

What's gonna help with my talk is this switch from analog to digital television recently, in terms of what's publicly broadcast (not everyone is tied in to proprietary TV channeling ala dish and/or cable).

Uncle Sam's plan is somewhat similar to mine, regarding math learning: let's upgrade, at least in Portland, making the necessary allowances for those other slower cities (not every town is a FOSS capital, let's admit it (but nor is Portland the only one e.g. Vilnius, Gothenberg... even Chicago)).

OK, time to deposit those checks. Sad watching CubeSpace close yesterday, had to switch my meeting to Lucky Lab.

I'm stalled on the Pythonic data structure (ISEPP tapes) but not for long probably. There's a retreat coming up, with lots of preparations under way. Sorry to miss ya this time Nirel, and yes Don I know, Father's Day is this coming weekend, not last weekend (must be that lunar calendar we're using in our household (wink to Glenn)).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Father's Day

Tara kindly offered to make me breakfast this morning (I took her up on it). This was a kind of role reversal, as she puttered in the kitchen while I watched cartoons (Duckman: Apocalypse Not, Season 3 DVD from Movie Madness).

Now I'm back to working the beat (on duty today) while she forges ahead with Six Feet Under.

I offered PSF a chunk of flextegrity for the OSCON Python booth as a model of "batteries included" (actually, more of a visualization than a model -- thinking MVC here).

Yesterday I backed up 5 DVDs worth of images (Portland Knowledge Lab stuff) plus uploaded Dawn's Journey, her trip to Glastonbury and related destinations.

I had a brief chat with a professor regarding the scene in Iran earlier today (she's also a gender and management consultant). She's understandably disappointed.

OK, it's time to ride Tinkerbell, unclog a few pipes. I'm wearing my Star Trek T-shirt (Alexia's actually -- original cast), which should help me blend in (lots of Trekkies in this town, if you ever need to go under cover for some reason -- maybe go for that pointy ears look, or copy Uhura's tattoo).

No wait, senior moment, this is my Beatles T-shirt, a present from the Lott family. Same advice: blend in to Portland's happening music scene, pretend you're an aging rock star, or maybe a blues guy of some kind. Leave the slide rule at home.

Back from my ride...

On cue (cuz I'm the dad), some kitchen sink parts failed, a long running battle, need a professional, but Uncle Sam has been kidnapped by scrooges who make him fight to pay ransom, so I make do with duct tape. These are serious problems though, if you live here. But then I've got it better than most Global U students, grossly under-served by an underpowered curriculum (not geeky enough, need more GST).

Rich kids in the West Hills get their anglophone live-in tutors from the Philippines, probably know Pythonic math already. Working class types, just making ends meet, learn rickety old Newtonian stuff and maybe next to nothing about polyhedra (no MITEs even).

I was talking with Lindsey at Angelo's awhile back, about ways to maybe fix that. She was looking at Free Geek and a return to personal tutoring, after some years in the corporate sector. I posted some more thoughts on that earlier today, before turning to those hospitals again. Giving up on PPS is not part of the plan though, as I was emailing to Patrick (on Jennifer 2, running Hardy Heron).

David, who does systems for Lewis & Clark, confirms a fried bus or mobo is to blame for Jackalope's downing (not a software issue). I've got the carcass in a bag.

Rose and Tara ended a fine Father's Day by cooking a take 'n bake pizza, while I wrote in Facebook about my role as freshman senator in a "fledgling dictatorship" i.e. Python Nation, and published a new web page on Arthur Seigel's Pygeo (a plan I'd mentioned to AR, one of our MVPs in said network).

Mom is enroute back from Pendle Hill, routing through Chicago.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Visual Proofs

We've been enjoying more raucous debate at the Math Forum about whether we have "visual proofs" in mathematics. This is a question for investigation, ala Wittgenstein into language games, not a knee-jerk response.

For example, suppose we wanted to prove a tetrahedron is simpler than a cube. The skeptic says "prove it!" and we go into some counting procedure, pairing edges with ordinal numbers and showing the cube has twice as many, ergo is over-built for the purposes of enclosing volume. QED.

However, the skeptic sees a lot of skulduggery in the above proof and will want to go back and "define terms" e.g. "simpler". It's not fair if he loses, is the basic premise.

I'm certainly in favor of using cartoons for the purposes of marshaling one's faculties, giving intuitive insights "in a flash" where that's doable. Satisfying mathematics includes gestalt switches of this kind. But that's not to say I'm against plodding (pedantic) proofs where necessary. Sometimes you get a poky pony to ride, been there done that.

On behalf of the skeptic: oft times those swoopy flashy proofs bleep over key points, aren't truly open source in that you can't do them at home, more like legerdemain (sleight of hand), and really not truly proofs in that sense (more like clever hoaxes, spoof proofs).

But remember: once arrived at, by whatever means, a clever visual proof may be just what the doctor ordered and "swoopy flashy" is not necessarily a criticism in this case.

By way of analogy, consider some of Ramanujan's astounding "generator expressions" (Pythonic namespace) -- the proof is in the pudding as they say (you've got your decimal type, check it out), but does that mean we always know where he got 'em in the first place? Not really. A proof can be like that too (out of a hat).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recruiting Commercial

USA diplomats are getting creamed overseas, with the argument "if you Americans had any brains, you'd be out of Iraq by now". Yes, that's hard to counter, especially after the Prime Minister's remark, that if we got to see those pictures that we all know are out there (on memory sticks a lot of 'em), then the fun in the sun would be over, and "the army we've got" would have to vector home to the bone yard pronto, no ifs ands or buts.

However, the thesis of Why We Fight (movie) is that brainwashed Americans are unintelligible, have come to a point in their civilization where they no longer talk sense of any kind. They talk about "the economy" a lot, as if their own militarism were on some other planet, long ago and far away. "Suffocatingly stupid" would be my rejoinder, "but we do have pockets..." and then I trail off, looking hopeful (nod nod, nudge nudge (Monty Python skit)).

But then we don't exactly come across as "deep pockets" over here. Uncle Sam is broke, but spends what few dimes he has left continuing to lose reputation overseas, through repeated acts of public self humiliation. I'm not blaming the White House. I've always looked at radio and TV pundits as the source of our problems (asking questions was OK, but once journalists started having opinions, it was time to crank up the stereo and look elsewhere for mind control).

Anyway, this is hardly the future I was prepared for in school, so it takes some getting used to. I've noticed youth feel the same way I do, amazed and agog at what "old people" are doing -- nothing sensible, that's for sure, unless you posit a death wish (which of course we do in Jungian psychology, so yeah it's called "denial").

If Americans really wanted more and better life extension services, we'd have those oncology cruise ships by now, like the Russians are building. But you can't have adequate health care and commit to an ideology of "kill at will" whenever you don't understand the action. "Having it both ways" (i.e. a healthy economy and a seriously diseased political climate, with no conservatism that's sane, no liberalism that's not spineless) is just too much the oxymoron.

Medical science requires a civilization to sustain itself and we just don't seem to have all the food groups around here, though I'm more hopeful about some zip code areas (nudge nudge, wink wink).

Note that I'm not blaming the war dead for this mess. I've been wailing on Bourbaki at the Math Forum again, haunted by that notion of "looking busy". Just remember: if you're studying geometry and they say nothing about tetrahedra, that's called "Rome burning", and what your teacher is doing we call "just fiddling around" (looking busy, not really working, not employed in any useful capacity, "checks for free" as Dire Straits put it (OK, it's "chicks for free" I knew that)).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wanderers 2009.6.10

Sheldon Renan

The plan was to show up on time, given we had a guest presenter, but when I saw Katie Couric was doing a short on the history of Donald Duck as a final news story, I had to linger and watch. I had no official duties at Pauling House, in terms of set up, arrived the same time Barry did to find a full house, our speaker still on the way.

Earlier in the day, I'd had one of those "you're breaking up" conversations with Alaska regarding state standards, charters and such. I took my usual position, that if your state isn't doing anything around V + F = E + 2, using that to anchor the concept of "dual (or reciprocal) polyhedra" then you live in "a loser state". It's an easy position for parents to understand, and a conservative one, as we have no business dropping polyhedra from geometry, a wisdom of the ages and basis for architecture and chemistry alike (we meet in the Linus Pauling House, so are especially aware that chemicals form polyvertexia or "molecules" as we call them).

The talk, on Netness, by Sheldon Renan, was mostly about connectivity (interoperability) and Moore's Law. This was one of those frustrating talks where you don't know what you're getting, if anything, until well after the fact. The guy has a track record, reminded me of Paul Laffoley a little, in his accounts of heroics. He talked about Xerox-Parc and Intel quite a bit, various geniuses he'd known. He also introduced us to an interestingly young entourage, a cyborg anthropologist and a typographer, who turned me on to Gentium (we also discussed Akbar font).

I spent most my time standing, plus had airport chauffeur duty looming (really early today) so left with a new Wanderer for some quick discussion outside, where we could raise our voices. After lots of chatter, Don dismissed people to The Bagdad and our crowd dispersed. Aldona liked the talk.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Polling Sources



Youtube and similar services have revolutionized "information harvesting" in that I'm able to get the actual raw recordings, don't have to read a bunch of writing all the time.

So like here I'm consulting British and French sources respectively, noting how the former is to the point, makes short work of this "singularity" business, whereas the French are more obtuse, more likely to leave coded messages, meaning I have to keep going over the material.

I appreciate the global reach of these services yet understand they're still in their infancy in so many dimensions.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Burma VJ (movie review)

Tonight's Event
This is a political art film more than a strict documentary and unlike Hearts and Minds, has a rather cluttered editorial track hitting on many levels, somewhat Nordic in flavor.

The film is mostly by and about journalists in awe of their own technology, and maybe too confidant that getting footage to CNN or BBC is an end in itself.

The foreign journalists have a lot of empathy, but mostly say vacuous things, sounding a lot like George Bush, who also has a speaking role in this film.

Getting better technology into the hands of the monks & nuns, rather than having them be filmed by the students, would probably make more sense.

They need the Internet, or at least multiple intranets, and ongoing freedom to pursue a scholarly life of the mind. From such study, good governance might arise, and better films, like The Cup.

Right now, you have a company town profiteering for northern neighbors, lots of thugs on payroll with families to feed, with so-called citizens an inconvenient overhead expense suffering from malign neglect, a grin and bear it, long drawn out, post Katrina scenario.

But that's a lot of the world for ya.

The company rules with stylized intimidation, sometimes brutal and lethal, its chief counter to nonviolent street theater ("the whole world is watching").

This is definitely an ugly situation ripe for overhaul, but are student journalists really the only natural born leaders? And so what if there's a pipeline in the picture.

I hate it how everyone nods knowingly at cocktail parties as soon as anyone says "pipeline", as if we were all oil tycoons on the Queen something or other, crossing the Atlantic over a hundred years ago and meaning to sound rich and worldly. Blech.

There's dear Aung San Suu Kyi of course, but superhero cults, like superpower politics, express an anemia, a deep deficiency, resulting in melodrama minus much in the way of true satisfaction.

She much deserves an expenses paid vacation, her own talk show if she wants one, time to share and be with whatever people she chooses.

I should mention the pipeline came up later in discussion, as this was one of those special occasions in Fox Tower when we got some Q&A after (I was glad to get in the six miles walking to and from).

The film itself is more like eXistenZ or Half Life 2 in constructing a surreal and oppressive reality, a fevered dream, a nightmare.

Monks need their own TV studios, and more festivals.

My two cents.

Hey, I should mention I was in Rangoon a long time ago, came in on some DC-3 in a rainstorm, really bumpy, plus I was emailing about Chang Mai today (where some scenes in this film were reenacted) in connection with PSF business, so small world.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Cooking Show

I'm volunteering more time on the Home Economics classes I'd like to see, in this case a cooking show for the school intranet, devoting plenty of focus to both energy and health issues i.e. energy comes in many forms and "more salt" isn't always what your batteries need.

How do I expect to compete with other text book publishers and their lip service people? In part by not competing with them, in not offering dead tree wood pulp as a primary distribution mechanism. I push hardcopy costs to the end user, keeping the server side in a version controlled environment, quickly patchable when errors are found. There's no waiting an eternity for the publisher to fix it in "the next edition" (if you're even that lucky).

Cardinality vs. Ordinality
is another important thread weaving through Supermarket Math. You have all those products, but "sorting by preference" or even "price", top-to-bottom, makes no sense. Whose preferences are we talking about when no one samples every product in the store, plus what would it mean to compare apples to oranges (actually, there it makes sense, in that people may have strong preferences (I like them both)). Once you get into a single universal sort of some set, you're in an ordinal situation. Rank in the military is often cited, but here again, we have several branches plus room at the top for many subspecies of civilian (in the USA model at least).

You might think your stereotypical geek wouldn't be thinking about health issues, as aren't geeks these overweight males who just sit and stare at screens all day, eat junk food with wild abandon, pay little attention to the physical plane (except maybe the one they're designing?). I'd say that's more the "nerd" stereotype whereas geeks tend to be lighter weight Japanese (Korean... Filipina) XXs, organizing in covens to get our Coffee Shops Network coded up by 2012. I have very few guys on that project, almost none here in North America (they don't allow Synergetics here, by fiat or edict I'm not sure, but just check any university catalog for confirmation (fortunately we have the Internet and skilled translators, so the work proceeds apace, albiet slowly)).

Note: last night's storm hit our Belmont US Bank branch pretty hard apparently, computers down inside, not just the ATMs. They've resorted to paper. This may mean I'm a little late on some monthly payments.

:: finalized version ::

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Taking Inventory

Table with Tapes

What happens to the video recordings of all those ISEPP talks? The main purpose of the recordings was to serve season subscribers who couldn't make it in person, however, there's also a significant historical legacy represented in these hours of recordings before live audiences at the Schnitzer (usually) in Portland, Oregon. Jane Goodall, Sir Roger Penrose, Carl Sagan, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Bob Ballard, Jill Tarter, Rebecca Goldstein, Lynn Margulis... lots on prehistory, dinosaurs, the future of the planet, Noah's Ark, religious perspectives.

However, this was mostly a shoestring operation with reasonably good equipment for the day. Recordings of slides on a screen, minus any live feed from a projector, was pretty much state of the art in our time, nor is the Schnitzer a TV studio. The "big theater" venue is a feature we're glad of.

One proposal is to establish a practice of watching in small groups, minimum two, so there's real conversation even during the replay, the privilege you have when watching a recording (to talk over the talker), along with pause and rewind. Take notes, circle high points, use definite time signatures if possible, and file somewhere, in a blog, Wiki... someplace searchable. Bound copies could reach the library.

The goal is to make taking inventory a fun and rewarding experience for those engaged in it, like having a front row seat with permission to talk, during one of the many great lectures we hosted in Portland, during our fun in the sun over those very productive and star studded ISEPP lecture seasons. These were named in honor of Linus Pauling which helps explain the willingness of some of our guests to join us on the far reaches of the Pacific Rim.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Big Day

Whereas I've been doomy gloomy about Jackalope, suspect thermal events, not the software in this case, Tara actually crossed a cool milestone: the braces came out, retainer for sleeping. Dr. Joe has been kind to us, and his talented staff.

Mom had a routine checkup, doing well at 79, though with new stuff to work on post her hospital workup, rather thorough (she had like two pounds of medical records to hand off).

My thanks to TC for checking in, another fine public worker for Oregon State, now back to being "pirate sector" (yar!).