Friday, January 20, 2017

Bible Stories

[ originally a comment on QuakerQuaker, fixed typo ]

Thank you Paul.

The story of Noah feeds into the Tower of Babel story, as the uniformity / conformity of thought enjoyed by the Great Flood survivors was a consequence of their starting over with a blank slate so to speak. Noah and Mrs. Noah were the new Adam & Eve.

What humans did not understand owing to their lack of diversity in thought, was that their Promised Land is a ball, a sphere, a planet. A lot of them still have some trouble with that concept in 2017. It's not a closed system in any thermodynamic sense. A star (the campus fusion furnace) feeds us energy for free, the basis for ongoing cell division and our daily bread.

Noah's descendants were at first under the misapprehension that they lived on some horizontal XY plane to infinity, with "God above" in the perpendicular Z direction. What better way to reach God and make a name for themselves as a superpower than through the construction of some humongous skyscraper?

This seemed like normal thinking to them, so great was their confusion already (Babel and babble connect in Hebrew as well [1]).

God knew that a single culture with a single-minded approach would think nothing impossible or unrealistic about their foolish skyscraper plan. No "new Noah" would arise to prophesy this was madness, because they all thought the same way. Besides, had God resorted to another flood (having promised not to do so) He'd be facing this same predicament in a few generations.

God understood that diversity in thought patterns would guarantee that people spread out and around, and come to terms with their being on a spherical spaceship (an Ark, likewise once our Eden).

In his mercy He gave us the humanity we have today: diverse, spread around, and not organized under one uni-polar pyramid hierarchy. No superpowers here folks, just a lot of feedback mechanisms connecting hominids by means of various networks, religious, political, economic. Don't think of your skyscrapers as containing some single-minded illuminati caste that all speaks the same language.  There is no "global civilization" that traces back to some singular inner circle, much as some cabals would love you to think so.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I've been chronicling a lot of my homework topics in my Facebook scroll.  Potorando (Portland, PDX) has been under a blanket of snow for the last week, which has been stressful in some ways but also a welcome vacation from daily toil to catch up on world events. There's so much to catch up on.

I study dance and music more than you might expect, in addition to movies.  Some "AI films" I've been listing: Ex Machina, Her, Chappie, and of course Artificial Intelligence itself (Spielberg, Kubrick). In connection with Chappie, I segue to Die Antwoord.

Another thread cites Tame Impala for its retro-psychedelic Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (very Yellow Submarine).

I'm accepting there's no point assuming some uni-polar world wherein the USA has the luxury of infinite time to process future shock, while this rest of the world has to rocket through the experience.

No inner circle controls spacetime to that level if human, and if not, then which science fiction have we switched to?  No, future shock is not shielded against by lead or glass, let alone legislation.

Anyway, back to my studies: I'm ironically not the bold futurist of the Hyperloop experiment, and instead suggest more Eisenhower-style freeways, twixt Iran and the Stans, over to Istanbul and so on, more of an EU like arrangement or like what Africa is aiming for.  You don't have to show your papers just because you're moving from state to state.  That's an experience of interstate travel people really appreciate about the USA and want to emulate.  I don't blame them.

So whereas Youtubes are showing these sprawling Hyperloop networks, I'm talking about trucking lanes. The trucks might not even be autonomous. So backwoods Oregon, right?  So not Silicon Valley.  However the Hyperloop vision takes somewhat for granted what we learn at airports:  the countries you fly over don't need to bother you with paperwork.

Lets remember El Camino though, I know that sounds somewhat out of the blue, and that has not been a recent Facebook topic.  I'm just thinking about how trucking is in other ways thoroughly regulated, with weigh stations and rules about getting enough sleep.  Drivers do worry about sharing the road with other judgement-impaired drivers.  We all do.

El Camino is for pedestrians, however they'll show paperwork when staying at various hotels along the way.  Use of a credit card also marks a trajectory.  I'm not saying the traffic along these roads will be unmonitored.  On the contrary, it's so monitored that stopping at boarder crossings is almost a moot point.  Information technology is what's rendering those obsolete, not some sudden outbreak of trust between nations.

Also, I'm quite accepting of the ODNI's observation that RT is influential.  I've watched enough of these old Yuri Bezmenov tapes on Youtube to agree on his major point:  a huge percentage of what spies do has little to do with picking locks, tapping phones, or sneaking around in illegal ways.  So much of what we call "intelligence work" is what Yuri calls "active measures" and that includes spreading everyday propaganda or PR (PЯ).

But what's propaganda then?  Lets just agree, for the sake of discussion, that it's an important factor, and accept that the Kremlin was likely more afraid of Hillary's harshness than of Donald's trademark blend of buffoonery. That's not even scandalous if so. We all have our preferences and, if we're powerful nation states, we have our spies to carry out their active measures, often fully legal.

Hey great if hyperloop technology works, as it's not either / or with trucking. Cargo travels at different rates. A "fifth mode" of transportation implies four others, not going anywhere. Of course I do pay attention to skeptics who say controlling the seals will be difficult but we learn from experiment more than from arguing sometimes. I'm happy to see bold experiments with new civilian technologies. More giant domes might be nice.

I connected the Manning case to Leonard Peltier's. I got to be at an event with the latter's son in 2016, another Oregonian. The media were mostly linking to Snowden and Assange, more recent cases, higher profile in recent times (and admittedly more directly connected story-wise, given how Manning went to Wikileaks directly, helping it become what it is today).

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Elusive Dude

This story of Howard Hughes appears to check out on every level. The things I'm still learning...

Just this First Day at Quaker meeting, when checking out the rack of books on sale for fund-raising, I stumbled upon Kafka's first novel Amerika, published posthumously, who knew? Not me.

It's not a like a fancy Princeton education back in the day made me a know-it-all. On the contrary, my time in Firestone Library reinforced my appreciation for the power of browsing freely (it's open stack, at least to students).

The advent of the web browser, after I'd left (Class of 1980) further amplified our global reach, ala the vision of MEMEX shared by Dr. Vannevar Bush, in a famous article, in Atlantic Monthly.

I've been describing "different species of capitalist" on Facebook, ranging from "bling capitalist" (more Las Vegas, more showy, ties to organized crime) to the reclusive relatively low profile type.

Howard Hughes played it both ways: high profile in his youth, then tapering off to ever-lower profile, keeping his cards especially close to his vest when the public was supposed to think him dead.

Warren Buffet (Oracle of Omaha) is more middle of the road. My taxonomy is not fully fleshed out yet.

US Presidents may come from the rough and tumble organized crime side of the business (e.g. the Kennedy brothers), wherein "bling" is big. Thanks to Prohibition, huge sectors of the economy had become criminalized. Amerika was a nation of scoff-laws and sinners.

No one knows the inner psyche of Americans better than the Mafia, the industry in charge of catering to forbidden desires. No wonder Nixon got in.

The Silicon Forest capitalist, in contrast to the "bling" school, has a more egalitarian dress code, with net worth inversely correlated to the presence of a neck-tie.

The management structure is also "flatter" or "thinner" in many ways (fewer levels or ranks), more Pacific Rim, more Japanese, with less towering of software and hardware engineers over one another.

Grounded in the sciences, engineering is more about shared humility before nature. The ability to intimidate is hardly the point, when dealing with cosmic forces and exceptionless principles (Van Allen Belts and so on).

The Quaker capitalists of the roaring 1790s were less tycoon-tyrants or "rubber Barons" (as in Fitzcarraldo) than experimentalists in management theory. The ideal of a workers' paradise loomed large in these early days of automation (freedom from dirty jobs).

This ideal proved threatening to satirists with an investment in the status quo. George Bernard Shaw took on Cadbury. Having well-treated workers made everyone else look bad. Demonizing any such ideology as necessarily "anti-capitalist" (i.e. "socialist" or "communist") would be a future innovation.

The exploiter class needed to keep the standards low and therefore frustrate any lofty Quaker visions. "Go to Pennsylvania if you want to try out those zany experiments" was the word from on high, from the would-be competition.

William Penn's forestland ("Sylvania") would be our Quaker utopia.  Didn't happen.  Indian Wars came instead.

Neither health care nor education was a part of the deal in Oliver Twist's merry England. The public laws more about the ones on top, staying on top, than anything more broadly constructive for the common people.

That status quo explains the American Revolution in large degree.  Idealism doesn't like to be frustrated at every turn, needs creative outlets.

Even if no generation seems to "finally arrive" in the Promised Land, there may still be a sense of direction, a sense of continuing to escape tyranny.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Upcoming Commitments

I've got two Princeton alum interviews in my inbox, and a Welcoming Committee with the Quakers.

In the first case, Princeton has a time-honored tradition of matching up each applicant with an alum, for some meetup time. I see it as an opportunity to hear from someone who actually went there what it was like, and a first thing I might say is way different for different people.

In the second case, Quakers have a tradition of recording membership which, once gained, should not have to be regained over and over as one transfers between meetings.  So there's a hand-off process, involving some record-keeping and actual face time.

Speaking of Princeton, I'm observing on Facebook that people will start talking engineering and science when arguing pet theories about what did or didn't happen.  It's one thing to dismiss others' belief systems as "crazy", another to get good exercise stating what one believes to be recognizably science.  There's skill-building involved, not redundant with doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku. So does Princeton teach science this way, is the question.

What I'm suggesting is that a bright kid, fresh from high school, may have seen over 1000 hours of Youtubes on such disputed whodunits as 9-11. Where at Princeton is the course where adult discourse in this area is role modeled? Shall we expect panel discussions? Might we study the history of deceptions in general, back through the phony military build-up under Paton (the US general), concealing the ramp-up to Normandy? Lets not always pick the same examples, and if you do Gulf of Tonkin make sure you connect to The Doors (quiz question: what's the connection?).

Remember all the 9-11 stories involve deception, as hijacking is certainly that, not to mention dive-bombing the airplanes into stuff, outfoxing defenses. How do we have substantive discussion of what's raised in all those Youtubes, now that we're paying for the privilege?

For all I know, Princeton has been offering such courses for years. I'm somewhat out of date. I advise prospective students to check out a course catalog, regardless of their interests. This is the time to comparison shop. Many schools will be excellent but for different reasons, so it's up to each applicant to decide which reasons are the best reasons.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Alt Worlds

Thanks to Wanderer Bob Mcgown for cluing me about the above BBC special, which I watched start to finish across several Youtubes.  I'm pretty much snowed in; a day for studying.

The son of a quantum physicist tracks down what the story was. What was his dad really up to. They hardly talked while he was alive.

I tend to not think of "particles in transit" along specific trajectories, but of pressure building with a probability wave to "be seen" (materialize) collapsing in a discrete place.

The recipient [atoms] "see" (we could say "sense") the source through the double slit; a game of  quantum physics bingo determines which target actually gets to "tune in" the photon or whatever.

Putting detectors in harm's way means the collapse happens in the detector.  The receptive space (sensing surface) has changed its shape. In "transmission" it's a probability wave of finite speed, until detected.

However, talking like that may not make any difference to the mathematics. English offers a variety of grammars, complete with mental images, to fit the data.

I especially enjoyed the visit to Princeton University, with scenes of the "Dinky" (the suburban train from the campus out to Princeton Junction) and inside various halls and arches, part of my personal memory bank as well.

I've also been reading "Roger Rabbit's" thesis regarding cosmic gamma-ray bursts and one possible interpretation. It's making waves amongst some of my Facebook friends (the author, Charles Fleischer, did the voice for Roger Rabbit).

Monday, January 09, 2017

Sharing the Gospel

:: stories of Finland ::

Given news stories need to be brief on prime time TV, we have to expect homework through other channels, say History Channel or, more likely, Youtube. No that isn't me in the video.

Case in point:  Portland Public Schools pays close attention to Finland's public education system for good reasons.

We get it WDC doesn't care about the same things we do, different priorities and ventures.

They're into financial values over there, vouchers, paying off balances due. That's an important aspect of doing God's work, certainly. Thinking purely in terms of money has its limits though.

I'm in touch with public school teachers quite a bit, thanks to the Measure 97 campaign, which didn't succeed in passing.

We did get #CodeCastle to off the ground to some degree.  I've turned more towards MIT Scratch for my memes.

True, we have no budget for that microwave tower, replacing or in addition to the cross, facing @OMSI.  That's fine.  Plan B is in effect instead.  Teacher trainings in the Roost?  Not happening, to my knowledge.  We had to shelve our Plan A.

Those caring about Washington DC and its new Orange Party rules (corporate media still using the color Red for some reason, misunderstanding GOP did not survive Election Day #singularity), will obviously seem more up to date than little moi.

Given my job description, I can't afford to get sucked in to domestic / nationalist politics at every turn.  I'll check back in a few years on that #WallwithMexico campaign, how that all went.

Just kidding, that's a fun one.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Get Baked Portland!

Get Baked PDX

People my age start checking for signs. I remember when Mary Bolton was so disheartened when signing her check Mary Butter at the checkout lane, when buying some.  Hey, we all make mistakes.

Still, I was worried when Deke the Geek kept telling me about this Bizmo in the middle of our local supermarket, and I kept going there, in a trance no doubt, and not seeing it.

So today I made a special point of looking it up.  Franz was important in my childhood, before I left for Italy.  Our Markham elementary school, it had to have been, did a field trip.  A real bread factory.  Impressive.

I've always enjoyed seeing things being made.  Kim Jong Un must really enjoy all those tours he gets, of factories, as a part of his job.

I went on some tours of Chinese factories in the 1970s, during the Four Modernizations.  We were looked up to, as a tour group, as a possible source of ideas.  Mostly high school teachers, from the bases, with me and Glenn Baker tagging along as diplomatic corps (expat brats).

I bought a loaf on the spot, in recognition of the company's acumen as much as anything.  Of course it's a hippie bus.  No reason to go overboard and go all Vortex.  Grateful Dead bread sells itself.

Meanwhile, back at Starbucks, Deke the Geek was catching up on Adweek. We did a mini-photo-shoot right there and then.

Age of Aquarius

Bakery Bus

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

On the Move

If you dig back into the early days of freeways and Detroit, and the future-world of the 1960s, Disneyland brand new, you'll find "traveling circus" caravans converging to schools, putting on corporately sponsored "futurama" shows. Am I right?; I remember looking into it.

Anyway, that's where the "bizmos" sometimes fit. I wasn't originally thinking food pods and food courts, which is where Portland and some other cities went with the idea. I'm not saying the food cart people read my blog or anything, just it makes sense for a van-sized vehicle to self contain some types of businesses. I thought that too.

When the vans or bizmos arrive at a school, they have some show or experience to create, lets call it a science fair and a kind of job fair. Students feel like they're being recruited, but usually with no way to make specific commitments, as these events are more informational than missionary.  If you want to follow-up you'll be able to but the bizmos produce a standalone event.  Something like that.

In one incarnation, these "GNU mobiles" would mostly be sharing the essentials of the POSIX world, already an esoteric place, where the typewriter starts talking back to your commands.  An operating systems keeps a computer engaged with tasks, sometimes running in the background. I could as well imagine an Hour of Code van set to share Scratch or one of those block-based languages.

Today I signed up as a co-speaker on two Pycon 2017 proposals. That's the local North American one (so far, in radius), a "mother ship" in some ways, as the PSF showcases it as a model.  Other Pycons use the trademarked name to certify a level or standard, not a new idea in business models, one with a proven track record.  Finally, many Python (the computer language) related events may not use the "Pycon" trademark at all. PyOhio comes to mind.

The talks I signed up to co-speak about have to do with a scheme Charles Cros wants to share publicly, having developed a working demo and used it with his own family. A use case would be a parent wanting kids at home to earn their play time on the web by winning at games deemed in advance to be suitably educational.  Games may involve extensive readings, in other words I'm not always suggesting the stereotype "twitch game" associated with pinball and other arcade games.

Speaking of Python, what's going through my head these days was inspired by Trey Hunner's recent delving into the iterable : iterator distinction.  The former category of object, if run through iter( ), will trigger an inner __iter__ that comes back with a new object containing __next__, thereby completing the iterator protocol.  For example, an ordinary list object is an iterable with no __next__.  Run it through iter( ) and a __next__ appears in the new butterfly-from-caterpillar iterator object.

The plot deepens however, in that even __iter__ is not required, so long as a __getitem__ is present. The latter handles square-bracket indexing as in object[0], object[1], object[2]... The idea of "advancing an integer" from zero outward, is intrinsic to our notion of iteration. So if your class (type of object) at least implements __getitem__, then iter( ) will know enough to pull an iterator rabbit out of an iterable hat.

Here's the script. Iterable is a generic type with a way to set a starting value through __init__ (at birth), and then reflect the ever increasing value of n, as next( ) drives some internal __next__ to keep driving __getitem__. I'm not talking about code we anywhere write, as Python programmers. We simply count on next( ) to feed successive integers, starting from zero, to __getitem__, to "do the right thing" behind our __next__ calls.

Safe to say, your own __getitem__ may not be quite as simple as this one.


The output, showing "before" and "after" tests, with iter(it) run in the middle, returning a new object in which __next__ is indeed a part of the API (the "bag of tricks" associated with a class of object).


As Trey well explains, we don't necessarily use next( ) to drive the action. The for loop construct is precisely "that which uses an iterator" to iterate through some body (block or suite) of code.

When we get to the end of the rope and push passed the last in the series, should one ever be reached, a StopIteration is raised, which the for construct handles in stride as a simple signal to stop, with a possible run through an else clause if present.

The iterator later hatched into a full-fledged co-routine by way of the function generator concept. The keyword yield gives another way to provide a __next__, short of feeding anything through iter( ). A generator begins life as an iterator right out of the gate.  We will pick up on their story in a future blog post.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

More PЯ

Praise Bob!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wanderers 2017.12.27

Don organized this Tuesday's meetup around sharing a short movie about the power of advertising.  The writer-producer says what distinguishes capitalism is its huge output, with the log-jam (potentially) in not giving players enough incentive to consume it all.

The analysis casts the players in their archetypal role as mindless, once the brainwashing is complete, and still unsatisfied, because one never really has enough of what one doesn't really need.  "Enough is never enough" as they say, in Over the Hedge, a cartoon parody of suburban living.

A shortcoming in the analysis is how lack of means puts severe brakes on consumption, such that advertising works against itself in portraying an unattainable never-land as its mythical backdrop, but then promulgates "starvation wages" as what all these consumerists deserve.  The left hand fights with the right and capitalism becomes semi-paralyzed.

The question "what makes us happy?" and the false answer "more stuff" avoids another question: "what is work?"  Work from whence happiness derives, versus some mindless "pursuit" of end-of-the-rainbow type happiness, would seem a more secure footing with which to gain traction.  What does advertising tell us about that?

Advertising tells us that doing advertising, or PЯ as I like to call it (rolling in propaganda), is powerful and effective and well worth paying top dollar for.  This DVD said much the same, attributing all kinds of power to advertising even while skirting the question "is it effective?" -- the assumption already being, that it is.

I've been recalling the Hunger Project and the level of cynicism that quickly grew up around it, as a purpose of that project was to bring to bear the full power of advertising to unleash our outrage about low living standards on the richest planet in the solar system (by far).

We're like a superpower compared to Mars, so why do we let Earthlings die in droves from easily preventable causes?  The humans rose up against the prospect of full-scale brainwashing PЯ campaigns for anything other than their customary purposes.  The Hunger Project as envisioned by est Trainers, was strangled in its cradle by righteous critics.

However, now that we've had some decades to even more fully appreciate the power of memes and memeplexes, with memetics a mature science (with a little help from anthropology), we might be ready to try again at outgrowing our old ideas about "what is work" and look for something more satisfying than bombing ourselves back to the stone age, as we seem to still consider a likely prospect.

If you're part of the problem are you really working?  I'd say a lot of money is spent forcing people to do "negative work" in exchange for compliance.  "Compensation" we call it, and with good reason.  I take issue with this idea of "net worth" and side with GST against the most laggardly forms of Economics, which confuse wealth with money far too carelessly.

We used my Mac Air with a borrowed DVD player, connected by USB.  The technology performed well. I didn't contribute much to the discussion as I think about advertising all the time and didn't want to get myself started.  I'm not at Wanderers to hear myself think.  I get that pretty much wherever I go.