Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Salmon People

Glenn say this performance live-on-stage here in Portland, and was impressed.  He saved the programme, so I snapped some shots of it (below). 

I was glad to find some excerpts on-line.

The performer, Peter Donaldson, is the son of Oregon State's official fish biologist, if I have my facts straight, and became a fish biologist himself, among other things.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Learning Curve

Hawthorne Bridge

I was fortunate to meet up with a strong mentor at the code school yesterday evening, who clued me in to both and, both valuable and well-crafted websites.

CodePen shows three coding panels side by side:  HTML, CSS and JS (JavaScript), with the resulting web page beneath.  A developer is welcome to reuse the code, and also to change the code and see the difference that makes immediately.

ToDoMVC demonstrates the front end solutions from which developers might choose, such as Angular, React... Vue, and implements the same task manager (to do list builder) in each one.

As my teacher explained, the trend is to turn the browser itself into more of a development platform with all the moving parts needed inside to write serious applications.

In the early days, a browser would more passively splat out the rendered page then just sit there.  With AJAX the pages became dynamic but the development experience was still somewhat clunky.  Turning the browser into more of a developers' platform is where we're heading today.

I purposely did not bring a computer of my own to the school, as I wanted to immerse myself in others' projects.  Greg and Margaux showed up, which I appreciated, especially in light of Greg's falling down a mountain about two weeks ago (long story).

Then I meandered down to the River Place marina where Don has his boat moored for Blues Festival season.  I snapped the above picture as I was leaving to walk home.

I'll be studying the above websites in earnest.  Just knowing they exist is already a big help. is another one I've come to value.

Also on the code school front, my new Raspberry Pi kit came in the mail, from Amazon.  My plan is to install the Pi3D library and start working through some of the examples in Peter Farrell's Hacking Math Class.

Peter, Jorge, the Litvins, and a very few others, are up to writing new high school math curricula that make use of current technologies.  Most math teachers are slogging ahead using scientific calculators, which to me seems retro and alien, inappropriate preparation for a life in my tribe.  I wrote about my sensibilities (yet again) on edu-sig last night.

Next week I'll start a next gig teaching IT workers in California, from my base in PDX.

Hardware Math

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Finding Dory (movie review)

This is a film geared primarily for little kids, definitely deserving of well crafted on-ramps that bring them up to speed in an artfully thought-out manner (Disney's specialty).  Imagine this is just your third or fourth film ever.

Even before we get to the story, lets remember that film is about managing our sense of time and space, giving us premonitions as well as flashbacks, memory shots, plus an omniscient camera (usually).  A kind of language, made from conventions (axioms) goes with watching and making film.  Ghostly images superimposed may represent a character's imagination.  We imagine a fish imagining other fish, and show what that looks like.

Disney is great at portraying the minimum nuclear family of three or more nucleons, a single parent family more of an isotope.  Marlin & Son are single parent whereas Dory's starts out nuclear but she's at least one marble short and becomes separated from the family nest at a young age.  Flash forward, to where she's dorking around clueless, and starts to come in to her next phase.

I thought of Glenn's story, heard a couple of times, when it came to the octopus, or septapus, another main character.  Glenn knows this species has a well earned reputation for being wily and sneaking around between tanks.  He knows of a real aquarium where a real octopus expressed such behaviors. I bet other marine biologists will attest to their wiliness.

On the subject of memory again, movie-makers of any caliber understand they are implanting what will likely be long term memories in the collective memory field.  Young children just starting on Global U work / study careers learn of a Maritime Institute (a kind of Monster U), including what it's like behind the scenes (back stage as it were), and of someone named Sigourney Weaver, a repeating loudspeaker voice (like in North Korea).

Those who know their film history know this is a seed for later.  Someday little Dory here, watching the film, will have a thought balloon pop up reminding her to "find her family" meaning her cinematic roots, first planted in the womb of a dark theater.  She'll get to see Aliens and Wall-e.

Dory goes through experiences children want and need to relate to, understanding that others get it, like about what it's like to be lost, to feel it's hopeless, to have access to intuition (which Dory has, despite her missing marbles).  Dory experiences both the love and concern of her guardians and strives to work with them in overcoming what they perceive might be weak spots.  She's attentive, just her attention wanders.

I suppose my followup reading such as I'm led further, will be to read more clinical discussion of childhood conditions and their symptoms, as if I were training to become a pediatrician.  For every adult I encounter, my meditation will be along the lines of "so what must this gal or guy have been like as a five year old?"  Maybe I'll put out my hand with a smile and ask:  "so what Room are you from?"

Contrary to recent practice, sitting in the balcony with pizza and a pint, I sat rather close to the screen in the orchestra with neither food nor drink.  Many of my fellow audience members were indeed very young.

One girl a couple rows behind me loudly whispered questions to her dad at a critical juncture, when Dory was crossing another karmic threshold.  I was grateful for that as I go to theater to hear the feedback sometimes (although the etiquette in Portland is to silence both your cellphone and your mouth -- OK to rustle popcorn bags -- in the more adult-oriented movies; the trained guardian did not whisper back in an equally loud voice).

Dory has an amazing ability to enroll others in the possibility of her finding her family.  Not all others, just a few critical ones, forming a team.  She has her adopted family (Nemo with single parent), and she recruits the septapus, who sees ways to mutually benefit.

Once a critical mass of team players is reached, and a level of commitment established, the team members willingly compensate for one another's weaknesses, while leveraging one another's strengths.  Synergy occurs and before ya know it, big things start happening.

Rest assured, your kid doesn't need to be a five year old to appreciate this film.  The teenagers will not be pulled in by sex and violence so much as by the mouthwatering detail squandered on every scene, down to partially erased whiteboards in the basement, where they load the Cleveland-bound rig.

Gamers don't see that level of detail in real time gaming even with GPUs.  You still need a render farm to get Shrek-levels of resolution (right, not only Disney / Pixar is doing it, and diversity is what we want -- more innovation and experimentation in a competitive environment).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Learning a Living

The above RSA animation makes some good points about our obsolete system of education.

I'm seeing that in Portland, my home town, where refugee families show up all needing to learn the same things, but depending on age, family members get split up.

Junior has to take TriMet to school to learn Common Core Math in an overcrowded room, whereas Mom & Dad, eager to learn more English, perhaps by reviewing Calculus, might study for their GEDs at home.

You have to be over 18 to get a GED scholarship, so junior is out of luck.  How is that "equal access"?  The family is split apart.  Why can't junior stay home and log in to the same courses the older siblings are taking?  They could study together and help one another as family members are wont to do in some cultures.

Why does Oregon subsidize the practice of college professors teaching what by rights are high school level courses?  Don't we expect college professors to teach at the college level?  If a teacher is trained to teach high school, why must that teacher compete with college professors for students needing high school level content?

The school districts would be better able to keep up if allowed to offer online secondary school level courses to adults as well as to those under 18.  This would result in many curriculum improvements as adult students have a better sense of what's really relevant in the real world.

The question of whether high schools or colleges teach specific content should have more to do with the content than the age of the students, especially in the Internet age.  Why should a 21 year old not be allowed to take the same math course as a 17 year old online?  "Because that's how we've done it in the past" is simply not a good answer.

I'd like to teach CS-friendly math to adults and kids alike online, like I've done for adults in California and for kids through Saturday Academy and Saint Dominic.  Portland Public Schools need to offer CS-friendly math to anyone ready to tackle the subject.  I'd do classroom work with the teachers if they want to know more about what "CS-friendly" means. I can't do all this public school teaching by myself.

When it comes to exams, lets follow the Nexus Academy model used in Michigan:  proctored study halls and testing centers will authenticate a student's identity.  But if you're just studying and preparing for tests, you're not required to spend your time in a proctored setting.

If you have guardians and a place to study at home, why bus across town just to sit in a crowded room listening to a teacher who might not know your name.  You can get the same content on Youtube with a lot less duress and pain.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Love is a Verb (movie review)

The term "secularist" has different meanings to different people.  I use it more in the sense of liberal towards cults, religions, tribes, and providing enough infrastructure and security to allow each some fun in the sun.  Let them practice freely, and they will not turn virulent in self-defense.

Religions themselves will have this liberal streak in some cases, notably the Sufis and the Quakers, whereas a "secular military" may be fascist control freaks, more like the Inquisition under the Roman Catholics.

Liberal Islam ala Muhammed Ali, combined with more homegrown movements within the US need not be terroristic in any way, but given the attitudes of some "secularists", the pressure is on to make them more threatening, so they'll fit the bill and play the game.

Radicalization of liberals is the agenda of many secularists, as once a group has been radicalized, it's OK to target them and possibly wipe them out (that rarely works), with public approval (but the public is fickle).

The Gulen phenomenon is neither a political party nor an organized movement, so much as an ideology based in values.  Follower's of Gulen's teachings are often inspired to serve selflessly, in some of the most forlorn places, where hope is war-torn and/or disease-ridden (these go together).

Given it's not controlled by the secularists, it's perceived as a threat, and you get the Turkish equivalent of Mubarak types in Egypt, cracking down on anything too Islamic, like the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Turkey the pattern was set by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in Iran by the Shah.  Military secularism, a kind of Fascism, has been a favorite blend in DC, understood and supported by many in the Pentagon who recognize their brothers in arms.

Friday, June 17, 2016

CodeCastle Exhibit Space


I joined Patrick today on another expedition to an electronics store.  Last time, we went to Fry's in Wilsonville, a Kroger property.  Today we visited SurplusGizmos.

When I was but a young lad here in Portland, before moving to Italy, I was most taken with OMSI and made it a centerpiece in my "religion".  I loved the interactivity of the exhibits.

One exhibit made me feel especially special:  I could hear frequencies up into the higher reaches, like Lassie (a dog on TV) whereas the adults around me said the tone of rising pitch had faded out for them.

OMSI has since shifted its location from near the Oregon Zoo to the east bank of the Willamette River, opposite the cable car station serving OHSU (our health sciences university).  The west bank has been completely redone, a new bridge added (Tillikum Crossing).

My fascination with interactive exhibits has not waned, and in exploring the stepping motors, small voltage pumps, hackable GPS devices and so on, I found myself wishing for exhibits that showed these machines actually doing something.  What better way to demonstrate the utility of some device?

Toy stores know the score, when it comes to model trains at least.  What gets the kids drooling is a fully developed layout with all the bells and whistles so to speak.

The electronics store did have some stuff switched on and running, however my imagination was in overdrive.

Since the ghost church has yet to become something mundane and unexciting, like more condos, I've taken the liberty of using Twitter to tweet it up as almost like another OMSI in some ways, themed around software meeting hardware and needing to control it (what software does) while passing the torch of knowledge and mastery to coming generations.

When you're down to talking to chips over pins, looking at instruction sets, thinking about hexcodes, you're in the realm of the Silicon Forest, in terms of its expertise.  Many companies came to settle here and make hardware and software, including the testing and measuring devices essential to creating these products.

However, the silos have gotten extremely deep to where worries about protecting intellectual property have pushed many to paranoia.  Open hardware and software is the reality check in some ways as it provides a set of benchmarks, serves as a barometer for the shared public space.

Judging from what's open and "already out there", the investors speculate regarding what they might invest in that's more proprietary.

I've been thinking the #CodeCastle, as I call it, could stay a nonprofit and not become too exclusively the tool of any one company and its technology stack.

That being said, companies would be eager to showcase their products in a workspace / playstation setting, in the form of interactive teaching exhibits that inspire corollary workbench activities.

In my dreams, we use the CodeCastle as a space to actually build some exhibits, out of both hardware and software.  Some exhibits go on the road.

I'm always looking for the colored fluids and volumes demo, which might use various actuators and pumps, controlled by the operator.  Drain the rhombic dodecahedron into six tetrahedrons.  Or into one octahedron and two tetrahedrons.  Two cubes.  We could have a 24-volumed Cube get the balls rolling (the "fluid" might be little balls in some editions).

We'll have exhibits about the cloud, showing how playstations may be provisioned from containerized microservices on a VM.  Going in, many will not know what that means.  They'll come away with new insights and a broader knowledge base.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Legal in Oregon

Legal in Oregon

I threw together another Jupyter Notebook today, really more an advertisement for Oregon's liberal economy, which allows putting a New England Transcendentalist spin on spatial geometry.

I actually store twenty-six points using a non-XYZ coordinate system.  Comparing and contrasting between similar-but-different systems is how we gain insights and competence in their use.

Do other states require a special license or credential to share this material?  Maybe check with your state's Board of Education for more information?

The whole number volumes help streamline the spatial geometry and accelerate comprehension of STEM subjects (PATH too).

What I recommend to math teachers is telling the story of The Tesseract, the Time Machine and the Tetrahedron, three 20th Century lineages in which the "4D" meme has meaning.  Confusing these three may lead to larger confusions later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Where's the Origin?

Students using Quadray Coordinates to better grasp XYZ (comparing and contrasting is an old technique), may wonder where best to locate (0,0,0,0) relative to an IVM ball packing.

Given we're planning to use the 12 combinations of {2, 1, 1, 0} as the centers of IVM spheres, 12 around the nuclear ball at (0, 0, 0, 0), we know we want the origin in a ball center.  If that's the case, how do we orient the four basis vectors (each one free to grow and shrink independently of the others, with these four sufficient to span our vector space or "room" through addition)?

Remember how the rhombic dodecahedron (volume 6) shrink-wraps every ball (voronoi cell concept)?  Its corners occur smack in the voids between spheres, where IVM ball centers are not.  We find two types of void however, and not in equal number.

The rhombic dodecahedron is a combination of two Platonics, duals of one another, the cube and octahedron.  The octahedron termini define a complementary IVM i.e. balls inflated in these voids will grow to another IVM should the current balls shrink correspondingly to give them room.  The cube termini reduce to two cases:  two tetrahedrons.  Each of these is likewise an IVM waiting to happen, for a total of Four IVMs, a main focus of Russell Chu's visualizations.

The rhombic dodecahedron's long diagonals define the octahedron of the paired IVM, while the short diagonals define the cube connecting the two remaining alternative IVMs.

Remember the negative basis rays of any Quadray Tetrahedron are its dual complement, at the center of our cube, and therefore our rhombic dodecahedron which embraces an IVM ball.  That's how to picture your origin then.  Imagine two Quadray Tetrahedrons making the Stella Octangula with its tips reaching to the voids of alternate IVMs.  The octahedral voids are further away, at the dual octahedron's tips, at six locations (that's six in addition to this four-and-four of the Quadray star, for the 14 corners of the rhombic dodecahedron, dual of the cuboctahedron).

Now linear combinations of {2, 1, 1, 0} i.e. vector additions of however many such vectors, grabbing any of the 12 at random, with as many iterations as we like, keeps us to the IVM ball centers of a single IVM.  What's maybe strange here is the length of those basis vectors, which use for unit some length we mostly don't need as such.  R=1 or R=0.5 vis-a-vis the IVM balls will suit our needs more often.  The basis vectors simply delimit the four quadrants of the home base tetrahedron, each rated at one fourth of unit volume.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Jupyter Notebook with Embedded 3D Canvas

Although the three.js API is pretty daunting, I made significant headway today after finding I could use conda to include it in a Jupyter Notebook setting.  Thank you Anaconda.

I worked on two of my Python modules today: and, with the latter now importing the former for testing purposes.

In hopes of helping more teachers get up to speed with this new content, I added a Getting Started link to my Scholarship tab at  Here's where it goes.

Anaconda Navigator