Saturday, October 29, 2016

Surveying Pedagogy

Long time readers of my writings, such as any remain (of my writings, as well as of long time readers), may have come across my use of "andragogy" a lot, in contrast to "pedagogy".

In 2016, "andragogy" is a recognized word, in Wikipedia and so on, however spellcheckers generally won't have it, out of the box.

Andragogy means "the teaching of adults" whereas "pedagogy" is about teaching children.

Yes, "child" and "adult" ("peda" and "andra") are cultural categories and vary depending on how much childhood is even recognized, or how.

As Eugene Khutoryansky points out in one of his rants (Why Children Should Rebel):
Our current concept of childhood is a relatively recent invention. Throughout most cultures throughout most of human history, individuals today referred to as "children" had the right to marry, serve in the army, and even act as the head of state.
I bring up Eugene on purpose as really his work is what I'm surveying today, having just come across it this morning.  He has produced and published some interesting physics and mathematics teaching movies.  Check them out!

As I wrote to PhysLrnr-L, which I joined on invitation of Dr. Bob Fuller, whom I collaborated with on a First Person Physics project:
Is the surreality of Eugene's world extraneous?  A cat watches the action in the Quantum Mechanics video, while the Maxwell's Equations one is inhabited by two angels in a somewhat Gothic setting.

Given "Maxwell's Demon" is already in the literature, and that we've all heard of Schrodinger's Cat, I didn't see the imagery as entirely extraneous.  He's alluding to known memes.
In the mnemonic arts since Cicero and earlier, the idea of using exaggerated-because-more- memorable imagery has been encouraged.
I've got a slide show and maybe a recorded talk called Pythonic Andragogy out there somewhere (once as a Lightning Talk in Santa Clara, at a Pycon).

I taught Python, the computer language, to adults a lot.  But then weren't Saturday Academy students pretty adult-like in some cases?

Again, culture and ethnicity mean many parameters stay in play, as we investigate whether andragogy deserves a long term future.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bed Time Stories

The scruffy hacker story, wherein Fancy Bear sparks indignation across the board, owing to connected Wikileaks revelations, meets expectations.

Bernie is close to Commie himself right?  So sure it makes sense these idealistic "open sourcerers" would be seeking revenge over how he was treated by Hilarious Hillary.

Lots of geriatrics have fallen for that phishing trick and easily empathize with poor AOL users and so on.  The white hat script kiddies are happy to explain how it all works, to their puzzled parents.

The other story is about the Internet of Things and how a bunch of wayward appliances all rose up in unison to attack Twitter, Netflix and Spotify.

This wasn't phishing, but something new.  Actually denial of service using bots and zombie computers is not new at all, but we're to understand the scale and focus of the attack was record-setting.

The scruffy hackers, connected to the Russians by as much slathered innuendo as possible (no wait, one of the long gone founders of the KGB had his name mistakenly not removed!) have the tamer old fart tech.
Fancy Bear is Russia, or at least a branch of the Russian government, taking the gloves off,” said one official in the Department of Defense. “It’s unlike anything else we’ve seen, and so we are struggling with writing a new playbook to respond.” The official would speak only on condition of anonymity, as his office had been barred from discussing with the press the US response to Fancy Bear’s attacks. “If Fancy Bear were a kid in the playground, it would be the kid stealing all the juice out of your lunch box and then drinking it in front of you, daring you to let him get away with it.  [ Buzzfeed ]
In contrast, the masterminds behind the toys, the attacking "things," seem to be getting away with their nefarious antics scot-free, with almost no questions asked.  "Few leads" says The Guardian.

The Russians seem to be manageable Bernie supporters, geeks in their basements with too much time on their hands.  Their motives seem understandable.

The dot com attackers, on the other hand, seem to still have their off switch and an army not easily stopped.  The corporate muggles are admitting their laziness.  Yes, their "things" may be gamed.  Don't forget to change your toaster's password.
"Nothing survives floods of this nature, existing or theoretical, centralized or decentralized,” Kaminsky said. “It all falls over. The hard questions here are about preventing this sort of exposure in the first place, and about improving our ability to respond and remediate when we do get it wrong.” Prevention and remediation are the only options in the kind of attack that paralyzed Dyn, Kaminsky said. [The Guardian]
This second, apparently not-Russian cabal, flipped their switch on and off a couple times, while engineers scrambled to "mitigate" the effects, however there's little evidence of real defenses or any actual mitigation.  The attacks simply ceased, ready to begin again another day.

Supposedly Homeland Security was looking into it.  How about the FBI?  In terms of how big a vulnerability was exposed, the scruffy Wikileaks phishing scandal doesn't hold a candle.

Duping individuals is little league compared to bringing down a core name server.

The upshot is someone with an off switch for the Internet is newly enthroned as Voldemort, while the Russians get to play second fiddle as scruffy hacker idealists, more Snowden types, in league with Anonymous no doubt.

The implication in the case of Fancy Bear is youthful rebellion on display, whereas the other attack is both more ominous and more unconscious, more sleep-inducing, more forgettable.  The corporate persons seem more eager to play dead, or at least roll over.  The Russians seem less scary, less a giant to obey.

We're not really planning a lot of "who did it" stories in the latter case are we?  It's more a tale of grin and bear it. You're at the mercy of Voldemort, and don't forget it — now forget it, until we remind you.

Of course there's been some attempt to connect these two stories, I'm aware of that.  Wikileaks is getting its revenge for some stale state trying too hard to be a hero.  That connection is not widely alleged however, only whispered into the rumor mill (or maybe bull horned if from Alex Jones).

Another bed time story is "911 was an inside job" but there I'd have to say why tell it that way?  A cabal of desperate outsiders, feeling powerless, thought this might be a way to seize control, and nothing panned out how it was supposed to.  Whatever the point of the plot, it got lost.  So much for "insiders" right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wanderers 2016.10.26

Prepared to Vote

I brought my ballot along, and the Portland Mercury for some guidance on the more esoteric measures.  I was gonna vote in front of everyone, as a fun input to the conversation.  However I don't have the right blue or black ink pen.  By the end of today for sure.

We agree about Measure 97 (the paper editors and I), whereas Willamette Week came out against it.  Probably not enough information about where the money would go has come forward.

I understand suspicion about abuse.  I've urged these big companies that'd pay more in taxes, to get involved in public policy more explicitly, like Mentor Graphics does.  That doesn't necessarily mean creating more charter schools.  How does one create new public schools that are not charter schools, by the way?

When we started at Sunnyside Elementary, a bevy of parents had built a school within the school, and even had some hire-fire responsibilities vis-a-vis the teachers. This was a public school.  In Portland, anything is possible, might be a useful motto, even if the "laws of physics" still pertain.

For one thing, big companies (if I may address you as personhoods for a moment), tell us more about how we're to integrate math teaching with coding skills.  Just telling the high schools they need to hire an army of computer science teachers, leaving math immutable, is not gonna fly. Suggestions?

I'm not being sarcastic; I have my own very good ideas.  So if someone like me, a steep property tax payer, is able to offer strong answers, maybe a fancy pants CEO might do the same?  Not that I have anything against fancy pants.

Speaking of immutability, the MVC pattern (Model View Controller) has taken a turn, with React coders understanding the data flow as more unidirectional and circular.

The Components, represented in JavaScript, pass down info about state changes to their children on a need to know basis, whereas changes to state through the UI get tossed on the heap without trying to talk directly to other components.  They'll be updated soon enough.  Treat state as a giant global.

Conway's Law says all this micro-stuff (how we code) has maxi-consequences in the form of organizational structures.  We self-organize as we conceptualize, is another way of saying it.

Think of sitting in your cubicle and getting the usual memo traffic.  Suddenly, you have a great insight or idea.  Rather than passing it "up the chain" from manager to manager, just stick it in your Github account and let sifters and peer reviewers note the state changes.

React was tossed on the heap as open source by Facebook, in danger of dying from the complexity of its own code until this new paradigm got some legs.  React is typically used with JSX, a way of avoiding a templating language like Jinja2 and just sticking with mostly HTML inside of JavaScript functions.

WJ Bio

Last night I breezed through a bio of William James on my shelves (so many borrowed books I've not read!), learning of his huge disappointment over living in an imperialist bubble.  He was distraught over the US-Philippines war.

Politicians today register faux shocked surprise that the RP might be registering independence and siding with China more. The Philippines is not wanting to be proxy-maneuvered by Uncle Sam into some faux fight over fish, duh.

Quakers were semi-disgusted from the beginning, with the pell-mell eagerness of the human creature to make war, not love.  "Lets fight them Injuns" was the morons' battle cry.  And so it was. Quakers resisted stooping to that low an EQ (same as IQ in the Garden) and lost much of their clout.

Making war is far easier than building an initially fragile set of trusted relationships, later codified, then institutionalized, to make torch-passing easier.  The costs get postponed to a time when paying those costs get disconnected from root causes, and people therefore stay confused enough to be bullied into wanting yet more war.

James also found USers too high strung, too on edge.  This was well before Frenetic TV (a subtype of Hectic, a cousin of Hysterical).  What would he say today?  That USers are crazy?  Where's the news there?  USers hyperventilate excessively, reports the New York Times (can you see the headline?) — pretty much on cue.

I remember celebrating the 1999-2000 odometer flip-over in Lesotho and watching each culture celebrate as the world turned, on the BBC.  People were upbeat about it all, enjoying themselves, until we came to the US time zones, where people were crazed about Y2K.  "Are the fighters still flying?" "Check"  "Are the war ships still sailing?" "Check". William James had a point I think.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Where to Invade Next (movie review)

Rated R for Sex & Drugs

Michael Moore films follow the same pattern, well known in journalism, wherein we get to know the journalist as one of the players, an actor in front of the camera.

"Omniscient narrator" documentaries, if political in content, tend to sound phony, though many oldsters will still hear a Wild Kingdom interpretation of animal behavior without hearing a mockumentary.

There's much to say about how the ear is tuned.

So here's this bumbling guy, playing the "dumb American," stumbling around Europe and North Africa, getting a positive echo from the difference the USA makes, or made.  All those reforms Americans fought for paid off, in other countries.

Better benefits in Italy, school food in France, no drug wars or death penalty in Portugal, better prisons in Norway, better schools in Finland, more women's rights in Iceland and Tunisia, more affordable higher education in Slovenia.  The list goes on.

Everyone gets more paid vacation than average USers.  Moore doesn't even mention working for tips.

Now these relatively happy and enlightened people are hoping what they see on TV about Michael Moore's home country is not their worst nightmare coming true.

Michael Moore appears to come from some hell people wish to avoid, at this point.

How might we explain this grave turnaround in reputation, and will the USA recover?

The explanation offered has to do with a "race to the top" being harder to win than a "race to the bottom".

The recipe then, was to criminalize all drug pushing outside legal advertising, as a way to keep people down and out and/or hard at work within "chain gang" prison colonies, thereby providing prison labor to Victoria's Secret and many others. 

Operate some kind of Gulag in other words. Perpetuate slavery. Practice eugenics (war against the weak).

Whether Michael's country will bounce back or not is one of the major soap opera concerns of our time, and if Wagner were alive he'd likely have given us some great Hollywood soundtracks about it.

I'll settle for Weird Al. Like John Oliver, he's wondering if this really could be hell that we've entered, have actually been in for quite awhile maybe.

Carol has been especially eager to see this latest major box office Michael Moore flick.  She watched it from the big chair, wrapped in a quilt, eating popcorn.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Emerging Cyberia

On kind invitation from Patrick, I walked over to his household, by way of New Seasons where I stoked up on prepared foods: chicken, brussels sprouts, macaroni and rice.  Patrick picked the beer.

I enjoyed watching the debate, the 3rd twixt the two ruling parties, with an affectionate corgi (brand of dog) jumping all over me.  Spencer joined us, while Katie flittered in and out.  That was the purpose of my visit, to take in this program.

Another "first world concern" adding actionable items to my "to do" list today is the HTC phone from Verizon, which as of two days ago is actually losing charge while plugged into a charger.  Turning it off while charging just barely holds the line.

Scouring the Internet leaves the door wide open as to whether it's a software or hardware glitch (I suspect the battery is shot, not the charging port).  In any case, it's soon to be a brick, and I'm still paying for it, so time to pay a visit to my local Verizon storefront.

I suppose the biggest takeaway, for me, was not "nasty woman" (Trump's remark) but the role of "Russians" in the national dialog.  In other times, Georgia (the Black Sea bordering region) and Crimea were maybe more front and center, or Ukraine, but now it's all cyber and Wikileaks flavored, even while Aleppo is deemed to have "fallen" to its own Assad government.

Whereas Gary Johnson (the Libertarian candidate) may not have known Aleppo was a city in Mesopotamia, I'm guessing very few political insiders could name all seventeen USG intelligence agencies that Hillary could cite as sharing her concerns about spies helping the Kremlin.

More Americans probably know that Archer worked for ISIS and that the Kremlin rebranded the KGB as something else, just like the CIA underwent a facelift to become just one of seventeen services — can you name them?

Trump is all about "dealing with ISIS" first, a goal he believes he shares with Vlad Putin, but then not the way they're doing it now, by staging a big battle for Mosul, a city to be "taken back" by Iraq. Donald ridiculed the Democrats for letting go of Mosul in the first place.

He takes a position somewhat consistent with Make America Great Again in casting Democrats on the losing side of history. ISIS won't be there given all the advanced notice to move elsewhere.

That's where the Russians come in, as outplaying the Obama administration.  In a way, that's a constructive role, as it's somewhat like poker or chess, and we see the Dems are incompetent so why not give a smart business man a chance?

I'm not saying I'm personally buying this rhetoric or narrative, only that I believe I'm fairly characterizing the Republican candidate's position.  He likes it when we're fair.

I live in Portland, Oregon which I'd say was most definitely a Bernie town (as in Bernie Sanders). The sense among Cascadians is DC is well past its prime in its ability to cough up credible theater.

The screen writing has gotten even worse than mediocre, and really has more to do with misguided ventures already in the rear view mirror.  Republican president Eisenhower was right to warn us of big business inertia and its need for war as a business expense — could be a "cold" one.

Speaking of cyber-war, I don't think the Russians' role vis-a-vis the US, here in October in 2016, is all that destructive. We're getting more immediate and relevant insight into how the game of politics is played, e.g. the shoving aside of Bernie.

Plus companies and committees (e.g. the DNC) are learning that keeping secrets is a real challenge when they're also hot properties, and this has been true since the village over the hill discovered the secrets of the catapult.

Spies might be sent over to catch up on the latest tech, or defectors encouraged to come over and spill the beans. How do these human behavior patterns work themselves out in tcp/ip world and beyond?

Sophistication around encryption is definitely a big part of it.

Businesses engaged in cyber-security for a living are being galvanized by the "Russian threat" and that could be good for the bottom line, in a purely capitalist sense.  As many security experts have been warning us, the tools of war are becoming ever more invisible.

The front line is not in Aleppo or Mosul so much, nor in outer space, but in cyber-space or "Cyberia" as some have called it, and as the debate proves.

Followup:  'twaz indeed the battery, new HTC One device on the way.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wittgenstein Again

Welcome to Uru

[ from emails to Nathaniel Bobbitt ]

I haven't read Peter Hacker's book yet, but having studied Wittgenstein, I somewhat get where he's coming from.

In Wittgenstein's philo we're trained to see words gaining meaning through use, not through pointing to phenomena.  "Words do not point" might be the slogan. 

Ergo "understanding" "thinking" and "pain" connect to introspected "mental events" in only tenuous / tangential ways.

Not much temptation on my end to imagine "understanding" as a "brain process" in any direct one-to-one literal sense.

Saying "bacteria respond intelligently to stresses in the environment" is not metaphoric nor anthropomorphic usage, merely an extension of common everyday usage. 

Ergo an "intelligent response" requires no brains at all (bacteria don't have them).

The supposition that "desire" "empathy" "false belief" are "mental states" in the sense of signature brain configurations, is extremely alien to my way of thinking but doesn't mean it won't be useful in motivating pattern matching and ToM reasoning skills.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

High School Math Notebooks

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Fuller's Legacy

"Bucky stuff" on CBS Morning Show (2009)

This well-produced 2009 segment reminds us of the "Bucky stuff" focuses on the practical applications of Fuller's ideas, which is not a mistake in any way.

However, my "stridency" (one might call it) in my Tweets (can anything called a "tweet" be "strident"?) stems from the a priori coherence of the unit volume tetrahedron idea.

Even with no practical applications (which it has), there'd be (is) a mathematics here, an approach to spatial geometry, worth passing on.

The different models of 2nd and 3rd powering, how to map 2x2 and 2x2x2 to respective areas and volumes, are where to start.  My Youtube below sets the stage.  I continue with the story under the heading of so-called Martian Math — one of many ways to go.

At this point, I'd say some understanding of Synergetics (the name of Fuller's two-volume magnum opus) and its subsequent influence, as well as its influences (what fed into it), are required simply to understand recent intellectual history.  Is that kind of history important?  To many readers, it still is.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

More STEM Tweets

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

STEM for All Seasons

One might think Barbara Oakley, author of the linked article [1], would've hit on the strategy of reading in STEM subjects in Russian, unifying and consolidated her skills in that manner.  I used Russian pamphlets on the Calculus, in translation, when a calculus teacher at St. Dominic Academy.  I was a pretty good calculus teacher.

Her critique echoes Scott Gray's of Making Math, co-founder of Useractive which later morphed into O'Reilly School (of Technology).  One needs to learn by doing, meaning practice makes perfect, whereas just watching videos (Youtubes) leads to a more vicarious understanding.

"Conceptual understanding" may prove paper thin, too fragile, when stressed by the "real world".  At the school, we emphasized "hands on" intensely, to the exclusion of any video from the curriculum proper, though as mentors we were free to cite useful Youtubes for background viewing.

I'm glad to see the infamous Forum 206 at the Math Forum has come back to life.  That listserv is really a vehicle for the NCTM (a US-based entity) so I'm refraining from jumping back in — unless and until I have some official role with said entity.

The UK has something similar, founded by Caleb Gattegno.

[1] How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math (Nautilus Quarterly / Culture Psychology, September 15, 2016)