Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ongoing Wanderers Conversations

Now that Yahoo! Groups is no longer archiving our Wanderers discussions, some of the same threads have meandered over to Facebook, where they gain a different audience.

Here's an example from recent weeks:

Kirby Urner Terry Bristol in this one I give the cosmologists the benefit of the doubt and accept a "heat death of the universe" scenario. Even so, after making that concession (for the sake of diplomacy if nothing else), there's still no justification in physics for the world "going downhill" in the near term. Using "heat death" scenarios to justify poor management is merely farcical, not tragic, and involves extrapolating a misbegotten Malthusianism, coupled with Social Darwinism. I bet Romer would agree.
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  • Terry Bristol The universe is NOT running down. The supposed low entropy beginning is 'impossible to explain – if all processes are entropy increasing. Suggest watching my summer talk in Russia: How the Elements came to be as they are, July 28th, 2019, Mendeleev 150, St. Petersburg

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  • Kirby Urner Only some processes are entropy increasing, not all, in everyday thermodynamics e.g. planet Earth considered as an open system could as easily be syntropic as entropic. To what extent is that difference up to responsible engineering? What difference do the humans make, if any?

    As to whether the universe is ultimately running down, even were we to concede that as a debating maneuver, I would still argue that this has nothing to do with the fate of our Earth for the next million years at least.
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Friday, December 06, 2019

Nobody for Education President

I'm not getting that anyone wants to be the "education president" this election year cycle.  That was a Bush Sr. thing, having come off serving as Reagan's veep.  He wanted to lead us towards the thousand dots of light.

I feel I've learned quite a bit about the veep position, thanks to revisiting Nixon's tenure under president Eisenhower.  That's where Nixon developed his friendship with the various bosses, including Howard Hughes if I'm not mistaken.

A lot of antipathy towards the Castro takeover of Cuba kept building momentum, to where JFK would get the ball.

Back to "education president": those of us in the open source movement (where I take "free software" to be a hard kernel) projected the new accessibility, thanks to lower price, of computing environments, would transform middle and high school mathematics teaching.

SQL would merge with vector graphics.  Polyhedrons would be stored in, and retrieved from, a database, as a routine class exercise.

None of that happened to the extent we expected, as computer science was expected to fend for itself in the harsh turf war jungle.

My idea to go with "lambda" (λ) versus "delta" (Δ) calculus, to stand for computer science versus the older calculus track (each a "calc" of a kind), hadn't yet gained much traction, maybe never would.

Case in point:  a Linux box such as FreeGeek was giving to volunteer recyclers, running Python... or lets say a Raspberry Pi... both already have a tiny SQL machine included, as a part of the "batteries included" Python Standard Library, in the form of sqlite3.

We've had a whole generation go by and maybe some elite prep schools reflecting the new realities. The world needs social engineering, long feared and/or satirized as a bugaboo, but how can we deny the engineering component of designing for a better society?

I'm not surprised the game in my region is keeping current with China | Asia as the trend setter.  True, the Pacific Rim has been like that for awhile.  Japanese culture has strong roots on my town of Portland (Oregon) as well.

Getting more "SQL tea" infusions going in the Silicon Forest is perhaps not the same uphill battle others might face, in less technophile-dominated areas.  We understand engineering has converged with the bureaucracy in the world of operating systems, networking, project management.  Government is not just for lawyers anymore (or perhaps what it means to "program" is changing).

I've not given up on the math-programming hybrid as you might discern from my Youtube channel.

However, I've been over on the PATH side more than STEM recently, working on our bridge over the C.P. Snow chasm (know the one?). Philosophy Anthropology Theater History.  Theater encompasses rhetoric and politics.  Anthropology encompasses architecture and art, and so of course appears likewise in STEAM.  A lot of you know of this wordplay.

Having a philosophy you're clear about, able to defend and explain, is often helpful when it comes to prioritizing STEM projects, either for oneself or others.  People may not share your priorities, but will nevertheless be glad to know what yours are.