Monday, March 31, 2014

Taxes Filed

Thanks to Holden Web for the magnificent steak dinner, probably my most opulent in 2014.  Finding an excuse to celebrate was not hard:  Nikki at H&R Block got me through taxes for 2013, with me owed by The Feds, but owing Oregon.  I promptly paid by check, sending via USPO, and feel squared away with the IRS for awhile.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Flask Workshop in Portland

I spent much of the day geeking out with peers at what was billed as intermediate Python level, a dive into a 3rd party micro-web-framework named Flask.  We had the good fortune to be taught by the new O'Reilly author, Miguel Grinberg, software engineer and film maker.  He'll be presenting this tutorial at Pycon later this month in Montreal and was eager for a dry run or dress rehearsal one might call it.  That was great for us, with Idealist sponsoring with catered tamales, a very generous number.  Urban Airship provided facilities in this building used by our wind energy sector (windmills).

When you feed an http request to a Flask framework, it routes to functions with URL bits available as arguments.  The functions usually prepare a response object that goes back to the client browser.  What happens in between (between the ears of the web service) is what we call the application, and Flask is merely a framework, like clay.  Miguel had shaped it into a password protected service that had login, cookies, database access, email, iconic "gravatars", the whole nine yards.  He really touched on a lot of deep features, not dumbing it down for us, yet keeping it moving.  The applause was sincere, and for Flask as well i.e. I think we appreciated its straightforward yet powerful design.

I'm not seeing web frameworks, even just those within the Python sphere, as being at each others' throats in some Wild Kingdom, narrated by some gringo, sponsored by whatever insurance company.  It's not a Darwinian circus.

We're talking more like models of airplane, with Django more heavy / commercial, geared stereotypically for newspaper sites (which covers many cases) and Flask more the ultralight, with many frameworks in between like web2py.

Jinja2 is a sophisticated templating engine.

The back end might be PostgreSQL with postGIS options enable.

So in calling Flask "ultra-light" I'm not suggesting it's under-powered (you sit it behind Apache probably), just simple enough to wrap a lot of power tools and get them working together in a manner that pleases at least some web developers.

You can even just use it locally on your own machine, why not?  Play on some, work on others.

By the way, lest events overtake me, allow me to put a stub link here (in my own blog), Wiki style, to a post I want to write about the most recent Thirsters gathering on East Broadway.  There's an idealist theme connecting them.

I was greatly encouraged to learn more about how anthropologists are conducting themselves these days, adding to my respect of that profession and its ethics.  We had some Reed faculty present, at least one, and Forest Service, not sure what other government agencies.

Our topic was relations with "first peoples" as we might call them, descendents of earlier waves of migrants, going back some 10K years.  There's no sense in which "the Indians were all wiped out" and live on only in museums and interpretive centers.  To think that way is to live in deep ignorance.  However, I do understand where someone living in present day (2014) Philadelphia might get that impression.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Divergent (movie review)

A charming and competent story of love and bravery in a delightfully apocalyptic Chicago, now more like a playground, a self parody, a gotham.

We're funneled into guilds based on aptitude but some of us can't be made to fit in.  Wandering beyond the perimeter appears not to be an option.  The sense of being penned in is palpable.

I'm already drawing a blank on the name of her guild, the Rowdies lets call 'em (boo hiss, I hear you), and they've got the place rigged with secret rope walks and other cool stuff.  Plus they're seriously into drugs.  One gets how Erudite might become power mad and get our heroes enslaved to do their dirty work against Abnegation.  Man, that rings a bell doesn't it.  Always war on the poor (because they're weak and helpless, and might be other nations so laws don't apply).  OK, that's infantile.

We didn't get to see much child rearing going on, like the heroes were all this semi-narrow age group.  I guess we saw some kids, did we?

Anyway, I think there is still room at front at The Bagdad for a platform based performance, of comedians or whatever, i.e. the new first run movie status doesn't physically block these other possibilities, I know nothing of license agreements.

I'd been looking for this Kate Winslet / Weird Al muppets video that must have been removed from YouTube, so her name was fresh in my mind.  She's the wicked witch of the west (not really).

You'd see why comprehensivists would appreciate this moving testament against "tracking" and "aptitude tests" (high stakes testing).  If Lego World was the mind of a younger lad with a control freak dad, this was the stressed out world of an over-tested adolescent geek wanting to hang with a tougher crowd.... was it Drapes?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wheels Turning

 I've been surfing more web pages on the Ukraine, Crimea, Russia and such.  Wikipedia breaks the paradigm of "encyclopedia" by having such up-to-the-minute reviews, with revisions in progress, narratives in the making.  I've done my share of Wikipedia contributing / editing.  Stressful sometimes.

Multnomah Meeting seems to be gearing up to form a study group or something, but really most of our regional savvy is in Bridge City, with fluent Russian speakers, at least one.  I've been reflecting on my Lithuanian experience and thinking of Facebook pages to visit.

Nationalism in the sense of ethnicity, and nationalism in the sense of nation-states, have a very uneasy co-existence, with the former organic and natural, the latter forced and awkward.  Our maps are nation-free (liberated from those dictates) at least in some of our classrooms.

I'll check for Gorby's opinions shortly, when I have some time.  Haircut next.  Our "NATO professor" needs to look more clean cut.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pi Day

Not wanting it to go by without mention even though blogging by cell from the airport is tedious.  I'm waiting for Tara to arrive and that's fun and interesting.  What about e Day?  I would it be an e Minute:  Feb 7, 1 hour 8th minute.  True, wrong base, but then so is 3.14.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

School-to-Prison Pipeline

This pipeline has become a focus of the AFSC (ACLU too).

Private for-profit companies are contracting with so-called "states" to provide in-school security personnel who fulfill functions formerly performed by vice principals and guidance counselors.

Instead of going to the principal's office, you might be sent to a law enforcement agent.  A bed in a for-profit prison has your name on it in short order.

"Undocumented humans" are also funneled to detention centers managed by these same companies.

The neo-fascist "state" of Arizona is an example a political jurisdiction that has gutted itself and outsourced state functions to corporate entities.

The question of whether we still have a "USA" is up for grabs at this point in time.

Washington, DC, never a state, has declared wars against a number of peoples around the world without the consent of the governed.

Medal of Freedom winner Buckminster Fuller wrote "The USA we have known is now bankrupt and extinct." (Grunch of Giants, St. Martins Press, 1983).  Do they read that in American History class?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

CS-enabled Algebra

We've enjoyed a rollicking debate on math-teach recently.  I reiterated a long-time position, that high school students deserved math credit for a discrete math sequence of topics we could provide, as an "excuse" to piggy-back the sharing of newer math notations used by various global subcultures, such as Intel and HP.

What do I mean by "newer math notations"? Simply: computer languages.

Many of them (by no means all) use "dot notation" a grammar of noun.verb() and noun.adjective (or call it property, or attribute).  The period or dot is important.  A.b means A has some feature named b, maybe its age or its level of enlightenment.

With dot notation, you've got behaviors responsive to arguments, and you've got persistent state, and no, that's not the only lingo out there, just one of 'em.  A CS-enabled algebra would be friendly to this ethnicity's lingo, among others (not exclusively).

I've suggested our economy in Cascadia, high technology intensive, could benefit from a school system that allowed for these alternative for-math-credit courses.  They'd be elective in the same sense trig and stats have been elective.  Yet three years of math credit is mandatory, in Oregon, for a high school diploma.  You have various ways of adding up to that.  The goal:  make discrete math courses count (some say "digital math" courses -- the labels are not that critical).

Cascadia, if you've not read Wikipedia, is the Pacific Northwest coastal area north and south of Seattle, some say all the way to the Bay Area, some draw a line at Arcata.  It's more a science fictional jurisdiction and one of the "nine nations of North America" popularized by urban legend and some key writers.  Northward, we could reach well into British Columbia, so-called.  These are thought experiments you may indulge in, as a way to review some geography if otherwise bored.  Good exercise. What other nations might you name?

This script was not my solo creation.  On the contrary, I was overlapping with high school computer science teachers anyway, joining the annual programming tournament at Willamette University through Free Geek.  When I presented at OS Bridge, the Software Association of Oregon was in the audience and it was from SAO that I learned of the concrete proposal to wedge in a discrete math course or sequence, geared for high schools.  Teachers from all over the state were encouraged to brainstorm about content of this for-math-credit offering.  We had a day long meeting in Sherwood, a neighborhood south of Portland out toward Wilsonville along I-5.

To sum up, I sometimes cast myself as an unregistered lobbyist, not often seen in Salem, yet definitely with an agenda.  My Oregon Curriculum Network has consistent / illustrative content.  Determining where I'm coming from is not that difficult, per the aforementioned math-teach thread.

If you want to join in the debate, I encourage finding regional colleagues, as the issues we raise tend to manifest in different ways by region.  Having solutions in one area does not automatically imply a translatable result.  There's no one-size-fits-all panacea.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Princeton Club of Oregon

:: global netnight on mentoring ::