Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Measure 97 Again

Sunday, October 16, 2016

CompSci + NeuroSci

Retired Mascot

[ originally an email to Nathaniel Bobbitt, Oct 15, 2016 ]

I wonder how annoying it'll be to neuro-science types to hear me teaching compsci and saying such things as "the browser's brain is full of JavaScript whereas the server is thinking in Python."

Of course web browsers don't have "brains" and many philosophically-minded would take issue with servers doing any real "thinking" let alone in Python.

I'm not worried about it though. Language is nothing if not malleable and I'm purposeful in having students empathize with their machines as if these latter were sentient beings.


Not to encourage superstition but to bring an already richly associational matrix of key terms, a well developed namespace, into a relatively alien territory (that of machine learning -- and they need to be taught, by us).

Knowledge has always expanded thusly, i.e. empathy has always played a big role, at least for some people.

The Python language actually uses the word 'self' although it's not a keyword, more a placeholder with a conventional spelling, ditto "God" (not in Python) and like that -- kind of like how "Zero" doesn't really have to be "0" but we do need that placeholder.

When I define a type of thing, such as Airport:

class Airport:
    def __init__(self, three_letter_code):  # birth!
        self.code = three_letter_code
    def __repr__(self):
        return "Airport('{}')".format(self.code)

Interactively then: 

In [148]: portland_or = Airport("PDX")
In [149]: portland_or
Out[149]: Airport('PDX')

I then spawn many "selves" of same, e.g.

portland_or = Airport("PDX")
newark_nj = Airport("EWR")

and so on, elaborating into a full program.

A standard practice in compsci, when passing the "object oriented" torch, is to talk about "is a" and "has a" relationships e.g. a car "is a" motorized vehicle, and "has" seats for people (maybe the driverless ones don't).

I've long encouraged a parallel "am a" and "have a" grammar, such that the programmer thinks "I am an Airport, now what do I have?" "I have concourses, and luggage carousels". "OK so now I'm a concourse, what do I have?" and so on.

Changing the subject for a sec, a question I was gonna ask you at Atlas (or Bagdad or...) has to do with "autistic spectrum" -- how people talk, yes? But doesn't a "spectrum" connote basically two directions: left vs right, up vs down, in vs out (any of those)?

Probably some author has already suggested a multi-axis (i.e. higher dimensional -- more than one) "phase space" for placing autistic profiles in a taxonomic or diagnostic matrix. "Beware of spectra when phase spaces are better" might be the moral here -- degrees of freedom and all that.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Science Fiction

Cascadia Masthead
by Zapato Produtions Intradimensional

In this telling, the US is more interested in emulating the EU than the other way around.

Each of the USA states would like to develop its own foreign policy in large degree, with the understanding that other states in the federation have automatic special standing, and share the same currency.

Once within the federation, US citizens are free to move about as usual, without harassment by border patrols.  N8V sovereignties are more likely to prosecute trespassers, especially polluters and treaty violators.

US states and territories probably don't send ambassadors to all the others.  Texas and California might, given their size.  Puerto Rico will likely exchange ambassadors with Cuba.

Oregon still proxies through DC quite a bit, not bothering with ambassadors to non-US states in every instance.  DC still has important switch boarding functions, as does the UN.

Cascadian states have a natural alliance with western Canada some other states may not enjoy.

DC still spins its wheels and attracts tourists.  The notion of "federal laws" still exists.

However, Oregonians already enjoy freedoms considered criminal by the so-called Feds, whereas for their part, the Feds engage in prurient and criminal adventures overseas most Oregonians are eager to disavow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Another Honorary Wanderer?

Remote camera photo of OR7 captured on May 3, 2014, in eastern Jackson County on USFS land. 
Courtesy of USFWS

In addition to proposing Keiko as an honorary Wanderer, I'm thinking about this wolf. The ape authorities are thinking about killing him.  We allow animals to join us in death, as well as in life.

We've had numerous dogs in our midst (some now dead), welcome at the table. Yes, mostly we're comprised of [not naked] apes, par for the course in our zip code.

My reference to Ecuador in the above tweet has to do with that country encoding some rights for non-humans into law, one of the first groups of sapiens to do so.

Yes, it's true, some apes pride themselves on being "sapiens" and have invented a whole taxonomy to celebrate their supposedly exceptional superiority.

Never mind they murder one another in droves and are the laughing stock of the galaxy -- just kidding, the galaxy has more important things to think about.

However if we're allowed to call North Americans "Indians" (even in 2016!) as in "Indian reservation" then I think the "Planet of the Apes" moniker applies just as well, as a colloquialism.

"Welcome to the planet of the apes!" I'd say to the ET tourists.  The "sapien" stuff is just their vanity talking.

I'm referring to all the branches of hominid species, most of them already killed off by now. The sapiens were apparently the most vicious.

Call them "mankind" if you like, or "humans". That's the more formal term (not "vicious monkey" or simia vitiosus in Latin).

When in Rome...

Thursday, October 06, 2016

A Tipping Point

Patrick did a good job pulling together new Python teaching materials.  These are for a class he's running, completely separately from mine, though also on-line in real time.  His company wants to hand out something thick, made of paper.  Mine doesn't go there, presently.

We're both tracking the hurricane in Florida, among many catastrophes in the making.  The human-made catastrophes are even more lethal sometimes.  The wreckage around the Mediterranean, on into Mesopotamia, or "Arabia" as a former US senator from Oregon calls it, is so much worse.

I saw on Twitter about that giant Putin flag hanging off a bridge in New York City.  So how sympathetic was Kerry towards Russia keeping a base in the Mediterranean, regardless of what nations we see?

I haven't seen any nations in a long time, on the maps I'm using, but that's because I was trained in the World Game, a specialized form of modeling only a few got to study.  We look at geography, geology, ecosystems, but not the political layer as much, though we have that overlay.

NATO has a bazillion bases all over the place, we've all seen those maps, so begrudging Russia having a few outside its nominal borders, whether or not that includes Crimea, should not be that controversial.

Surely the US isn't so psychologically insecure that it can't abide even a single Russian base anywhere outside Russia.  Organizing inter-visitation might be the next confidence building measure.

I don't think "bases" in the obsolete sense are needed at all, but the infrastructure is useful, for disaster relief and human relocation.

Calling for the complete evacuation of Aleppo, as I've been doing, sounds more realistic when one has bases for the refugees to flee to.  They'd've been out long ago, like Floridians from their east coast.

However I'm just another Tweeter, these days without even a gym membership, so my views hardly register, whereas Kerry gets to set the tone.

I know a lot of people say it's about pipelines, gold, other treasure.  We all have our ways of sounding worldly, knowing.

So-called "rich people" (often among the most ignorant) like to ape one another, competing to sound "more insider".

Social media have amplified and expanded that workflow, to where now pretty much everyone gets to sound like a rich ape.  That's a shift, even a tipping point.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Go By Train


Uncle Bill, the mining engineer turned naval historian, in his 90s now, is heading this way by Amtrak for a lunch at Ringler's or other brew pub near Union Station, before heading home two hours later.

This will be his fourth such visit with me, however he's come down independently to visit with other relatives.  He used to drive his Aztec but voluntarily quit driving after a passing mini-stroke (TIA).

Carol had hoped to join us this time, but decided getting her INR checkup (like Hillary gets) with her favorite checker would be tough to reschedule.  So I'll get her there early and she can while away the time reading her recently-acquired book by Hendrik W. van der Merwe, regarding his work to end Apartheid in South Africa, a story more USers could learn from.

South African Friends were more than a little miffed when the US-based AFSC showed up in force and presumed to advise them on how to best deal with ending Apartheid and self governance in its aftermath, given the RSA was actually overcoming racist thinking, whereas USers were still singing "we shall overcome" in some future tense.

That's a song for young people in my book.  If you haven't overcome by 58, it ain't gonna happen, is my attitude, whatever "overcoming" means to one.  YMMV.

RSA means Republic of South Africa in the above paragraph, not Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, a public key crypto system similar to Diffie-Hellman.

I recommend the movie Chappie to better appreciate the difference Ubuntu makes.  AFSC still uses Windows.  If you don't use the bash shell, you're not a real activist, is my rule of thumb (Carol an exception).

USers like to be bossy, believing themselves enlightened or ahead of the curve. Didn't Michael Moore help lay that notion to rest in his latest movie, which mom and I both want to see (I've seen the previews)? 

USers are among the more backward, culturally, adding them all up and dividing, to get an average. They have "diversity issues" in the sense of insufficient schooling in dealing with it intelligently.  Remember the people who came here were those with the most trouble fitting in (like the Quakers).

I'm teaching class tonight, really more like hosting a talk radio show, with me doing most the talking.  My listeners text message, and see each others texts.  I work their questions into my discourse.  I'm doing a highly technical talk on Python, the computer language, which I get to teach in forty hours.

Last night I was at the code school again, "the guild" as we call it, catching up with my peers and ignoring DC politics.  Oregonians live on the Pacific Rim and tend to not always share East Coast perspectives.  I brought along my XO-1 for show and tell.

Carol has a speaking engagement elsewhere tonight, which I won't make.  She's in demand as a speaker, and this year she took it on the road, riding shot gun with Ellen Thomas in rented vans, from LA to Seattle, and from Boston to Cape Code and Boston.  Most 87-year-olds wouldn't have the stamina.

Then she joined me for her granddaughter's graduation, in Richmond, Indiana, flying to Dayton from Reagan International, before packing her stuff to base herself here.  Like the Pope, she has winter and summer residences.

XO-1 at Code School 
Charles Cossé with OLPC XO

Friday, September 30, 2016

Whispering Campaign

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wanderers 2016.9.28

Pretty funny: some of our Wanderers have never seen the opening premise of the Portlandia TV comedy show.

I screened the above for their benefit, along with a short excerpt from my Nepris interview (like a TED talk).

When Bernie packed Moda Center (I missed that one), a bird landed on his microphone.  Unless you know the phrase "Put a Bird On It", you've missed something.

I drew a silly picture of the two-headed "Hilladon" (prehistoric) on the whiteboard and posted it to Facebook with my cellphone.


Jurassic Park

Tuesday, September 27, 2016



I can't make a ton of money without being a hypocrite. However I can commit the back office, the Centurylink / Prism room, to serving nonprofits, as a nonprofit that pays its share of expenses, especially telecomm.  That I make a meager income is tolerated, actually welcomed, as that keeps it simple.

As a trainer, I pop up, all paid for, and deliver the Python3 or whatever.  Python3 is more an ecosystem than just the one language, what with JavaScript, SQL, noSQL and all the rest of it.  Not that everyone is into web dev.  We've got Jupyter Notebooks, we've got SciPy.

I'm a big believer in institutional wealth.  I feel pampered on a big Boeing, or an Airbus, without owning stock in the company, let alone a slice of the jet.  Sailors on big Navy ships are proud of what they pilot, but it's not like any might claim title in the purely landlordist sense, not even an Admiral.  That's why I go with "military socialism" as an apropos model, of what the "bases economy" (a kind of "centers network") portends.

That's how I got my trips to Lithuania and Gothenberg:  they were paid for by sponsors, not as income to me but as an expense of doing business on their part.  My flying on an airplane somewhere is not necessarily "income" any more than shipping a book.  I'm an office supply.  Don't even send me the transaction, as it doesn't have to go through my bookkeeping at all.  Or send me some record if you like, it's not like I don't like to scrap book.

I'm happy here in Portland for the time being however, though close family stay high on my list and I'm not bed-bound or anything.  I have a current passport.  This is "back to school" season and I'm on the hook to deliver, lets put it that way.  Carol is here.  I'm her driver.  Lots of good reasons to stay put in this chapter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Russian Novel (interlude)

Excerpts from QuakerQuaker set to Game World tableaus from QuarterWorld...

I was hoping that hearing the truth of these people's words, despite their theological convictions/or-lack-of -- would serve to alert those Friends still watching this site to how sadly captive their minds have become to corporate (and governmental) manipulations & outright distortions of what's going on, how the system functions, why and how the best of us are striving desperately (seeing no hope of significant mitigation within that system) to replace its dysfunctions with social arrangements more sane and humane.
Suburbia Land

Translation: you're trying to reach the walking dead, affluenza victims mostly, suburbia-land or whatever. Hah, I gave up talking to them ages ago. Triage man. Oh well... back to work. They're making a video of my 15 minutes (actually 30) in Texas (Austin), which I'll post to QQ when I get a link (but not on one of your threads as "self promotion" is a big no-no for the bored guy). 
Cirqus Voltaire

Kirby, you should be talking to Prince Andrei, the character quoting Voltaire in your War & Peace excerpt. He was the one bored with Goethe (& poetry in general). I myself merely find some exchanges more rewarding than others...
<< snip >>
I don't see any 'overhaul' going on, certainly not down where the rubber meets the no-account people it runs over.

By "overhaul" I didn't mean to imply "for the better". That remains to be seen. Could be that given smartphones and driverless cars, humans will only need very small brains in much tinier heads, and Zika is on the job. Planet of the Apes is not a pretty place. I wasn't promising any rose gardens or anything.