Monday, November 20, 2017

Work / Study in Global U

I continue to both work and study, in my Global University, my metaphor for home sweet home: Nuthouse Earth.

I'm upgrading the Python stuff to a next level, so that those liking my on-ramp, might continue the tour.

Youtube is a goldmine, unlike anything I enjoyed at Princeton (because we hadn't created the Internet yet, not really), so I dig in it avidly.

My beat takes me in a wandering cycle through a set of topics:  computer stuff, Bucky stuff, education politics, and more recently, climate change.

For those new to these blogs, which go back a couple decades, I haven't written a whole lot about climate change other than to remember the theories of Hamaker-Weaver.  So there's lots to catch up on around that.

Education politics includes looking at religious movements:  Falun Gong, Hizmet, Unification Church, Quakers...  a mixed bag to say the least.  All exert at least some form of political influence, either as targets for government attacks, and/or as lobbyists.  Quakers have FCNL.

I had no idea how close Henry Wallace got to being VP during FDR's fourth term.  What would have happened minus President Truman wanting to prove how tough he was?

René Guénon: newly a blip on my radar.  More BBC Palast on how the US is incapable of having free and fair elections.  We knew that.

What if the Hizmet STEM curriculum started to pick up on the Bucky stuff more?  In a memo this evening, to other faculty, I wrote (those not interested in math may tune out here):

The canonical conversion constant for cube -> tet volume conversion is sqrt(9/8) i.e. a cube of face diagonals 2R, edges sqrt(2)R, has volume 3, not sqrt(2)**3.

I.E. cube of edges R (1x1x1) is slightly bigger than unit tet of edges D (D=2R).  ~1.06066

Sphere volume is sqrt(2) pi r^3 by this conversion. 

R=radius of unit sphere of said volume. Quadrays go from center of 2R edged tet to corners.

So the tetrahedron made by connected 4 inter-tangent unit sphere is: 1
Octahedron from six such unit spheres: 4
Rhombic Dodecahedron (encasement for each sphere, voronoi cell): 6
Cuboctahedron (12 spheres packed around a nuclear one): 20

How the 5-fold symmetric shapes slot in to the above relates to Cuboctahedron --> Icosahedron by Jitterbug, and the Rhombic Triacontahedron made from said Icosa and its Platonic dual.  Volume 15 * sqrt(2).

Interesting that CO of volume 20 * sqrt(9/8), the aforementioned volume conversion constant = same RT volume (15 * sqrt(2)).

That's the "art school" CAD system some people wanna work with.  I don't blame 'em for finding it simple.  Tetrahedron, Octahedron and RT also explode into wedges / slivers, easy to reason about and assemble with.  Lots of fun ratios you can carry around in your head.

No harm converting back and forth.  XYZ is always there when you need it, spherical coordinates too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dumb Domiciles

The idea of lightweight high tech gear, much of it inheriting from aerospace, brings to mind the smattering of prototype bases wherein a small crew of science minded practice living on Mars.  Of course there's no way to quite simulate the true misery of that place, and the experience of learning new ropes here on Earth, in terms of lifestyle innovations, might actually provide a modicum of joy to the lucky participants.

Campers come in many breeds, from extreme to weekend station wagon types, lugging equipment to state parks.  Extremophiles tend towards Burning Man and Rainbow Gathering experiences, where they're up against the elements, other logistical challenges.  They're doing research.  Those pioneering new lifestyles are at work as much as at play.  Product placements go here.

However, the aerospace sector said "no" to the invitation, for the most part, seeing easier profits in what's tried and tested:  weaponry contracts.  Peanut gallery opinions regarding early attempts to cross-fertilize civilian lifestyles with higher tech, must have scared off investors.  So are they happy with their portfolios?

We're left with piles of tools suitable for mass murder (Ka-ching!), chasing columns of refugees on foot, streaming from war crime centers towards mythical better living standards we have not been working to provide.  Even non-refugees are astonished how we've given up the fight for a better life, right when we had so much technology going for us.

Against this backdrop of humans unable to perform, even in their own self interest, comes the haunting tale of machines poised to seize the day and catapult themselves into government.  If we all bow down and become properly obsequious in the face of AI's edicts, then maybe those hiding behind the curtain will finally get their ultimate alibi?  "The computer made me do it".

Having bet the store on Endless War, there's a new urgency to finding the new Game Theory that will tell us why the losing strategy has been the correct one all along.  Deus ex machina will come in the form of exoneration:  we had no choice.  "Forgive me, as I know not what I do."  This is not a new development.  As Hannah Arendt pointed out:  evil is banal and just follows orders.  The best excuse is "everyone was doing it".

The counter-movement to the fatalistic one may be within Geekdom, with its more positive "world domination" hubris.  Rescuing humans from malign neglect, preventable starvation for example, remains a winners' goal.  Those who code tend to be less cowed by the claims of those hoping to speak for the Singularity when the time comes. "No, the computer didn't make you do anything, us either".  Geekdom is cosmopolitan and takes Spaceship Earth itself as our Promised Land (Moon included).

We could pitch this as an ideological showdown between the Transcendentalists and the Transhumanists.  The latter are more enamored of AI whereas the former tend to be more awed by intelligence that's non-artificial.  You'll find technophiles in both camps, as well as extremophiles.

The theater for this showdown is the university campus, what it looks like.  Are we expecting gothic arches and ivy?  Or do we expect to experiment with some of the latest engineering solutions to the refugee crisis?  What sort of career am I training for anyway?  Do I plan to help with cleanup, or am I here to make a mess?

The houses haven't gotten much smarter in in light of where we could be. I'm thinking they're ridiculously stupid.

The resources people waste, in their pursuit of a good life, is testament to the weakness of our Global U curriculum.

What campuses seem interested in experimental prototypes of tomorrow?  What FinTech will they experiment with?  Recruiters won't be looking for just anybody.  I've you've sided with the losers, you may not have what it takes to engage in more holistic forms of scholarship.  Having a lot of money doesn't make you a skilled player.  Imposter Syndrome is sometimes acute for a reason.

Sunday, November 05, 2017


Before I forget, it occurs to me that neuroscience might turn its attention towards "scheduling" soon, as in prioritizing, as well as not giving too much credence to improbable story lines.  Humans are easily led astray in some circumstances, but not that easily, if you give them some time to think about it.

A lot of cultures give young people a chance to meditate.  We talk a lot about "the service" in many of the federated states in North America, while the various religions, even the mainstream ones, have no real expectation of having such barracks full of meditators as one might find in Thailand.

What comes closest is a liberal arts college, but is that a luxury investment or albatross of debt or what?  Joining a religious order for some years and getting discipline in a schoolish setting, is not normative.  We call that "joining a cult" where I come from.

A scheduler keeps a lot of pots bubbling and doesn't expect laws of physics to be circumvented. Planning is key.

We have the AI neural net recasting of linear algebra, with statistics now data science, with data now very big, so lets get them anticipating developments we might be able to stop or avoid.

This fatalism suggesting we all freeze in a panic and watch the ship sink is not necessarily the most useful.  Get your counsel from multiple sources, right?  White water rafting includes some steering, more in the Friendly sense of steer, meaning feedback loops can be non-obvious.

Giving young people a shot at seeing the world while pondering deeply about a future direction, is the mark of a generous economy that feels able to invest in its own future.  A sinking ship economy is more inclined towards slavery for all.  No one gets the time to think about anything.

Acting out scheduling challenges in a kind of theater setting could be informative, a genre of animation maybe. Think of a traditional classroom wherein numerous students each need attention and help with a specific problem and two teachers roam among them, lending such assistance as they find practical.  That's all about scheduling and accommodation and to some extent triage (an algorithm designed to maximize health care worker effectiveness).

Computer science with its many processes and threads (from the OS point of view), its many pipelines, parallel goings on, is about life in a big city.  Yes, things move insanely fast.  We always feel behind, and in the dark, to some degree.  As mortal beings, that's our lot.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Behavior Control

I appreciate how kids behave, on a different stratum from adults, a different frequency. I think carving out "childhood" as its own culture, versus going for "little adults" has beaucoup advantages, at the risk of annoying those tiny tyrants ready to wield power at a precious age.

Gags on Youtube or the like, little skits, in which we imitate kid behavior expertly, while transposing it to an adult world, might prove illuminating.  Like I had a kid on his back under desks messing with co-workers' power and Internet access.  Imagine some guy in a suit and tie doing that, jumping out of his cubicle and switching off the lights, just for starters.

We let little kids get away with a lot.  They're obviously unarmed, or so we presume.  The terms on which we meet are semi-voluntary, in my case often a day care setting, meaning parents need time to complete their day job assignments before resuming parenting duties during the evening and night hours, unless on night shift, and so on.  Older kids often walk home and no one says they can't enjoy domestic life sans parents bossing them around...

Anyway, no need to paint the entire sociological picture on a tiny postage stamp of a blog post.  I'm just thinking of video clip episodes of high didactic value and what those might look like.  I'm not in favor of people not reading.  Boosting the effectiveness of said clips is in no way to diss screenwriting skills.  We work together, we the graphical and lexical.  We're called your hemispheres.  Your brain, dummy.