Sunday, March 17, 2019

More of My Story

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Road Scholar

John Driscoll:
Nice history around Nick! A sad tale in a lot of ways. I remember one time I was trying to help find Nick a place to crash and I felt like I couldn't let him stay at my place because my landlord in Bolinas CA was pretty concerned with strangers coming around being in Bolinas so Nick ended up asking me just to drop him off basically along the side of the road headed to Petaluma. It was bitter cold that night and in retrospect I can't believe I left him to sleep under the stars on such a night but I did. Sorry Nick. It was nice of you to give him a crash pad when he was in Portland. However, Nick was incredibly strong. He used to hitchhike around with an enormous number of heavy bags (probably full of books) and his dulcimer which I never heard him play. The world knocked him around but he was a tough dude. Definitely not the lifestyle for your run of the mill road scholar.

Bob Quinn:
I picked Nick up hitchhiking the day before Thanksgiving 1988. Candy invited him to come for Thanksgiving dinner. He came by the next day and was a fixture in our lives until the day he died. I still remember driving home on Naito in Portland and fielding the call for theHillsboro police informing me Nick had died. In August under a blue moon rising over the hill in Pacific City I put his ashes in the ocean. The wind kicked up and I ended up inhaling a good bit of his remains. Blessings on him.
Click here, for a continuation of Nick's story.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Systems Science

Glenn and I hopped a bus 14 to join Portland State faculty and students at a brown bag lunch event.  We call it that, but no one was eating that I can recall.  We sandwiched into the Harder House meeting room, pretty much every seat taken, John Driscoll standing and delivering his presentation.

John took full advantage of his time, launching early into preliminary material about Hausdorff Dimension as computed with a "box counting" algorithm.

Applied to facades, or floor plans, generic grids, one may compute its fractional dimension d, or, conversely, create such vistas with d as input.

What would it mean to extrapolate random buildings within a fractal space, determined by a few hyperparameters?  John is exploring this question.  Could such a font of detailed fractal structures provide a kind of clay, which an architect could then sculpt?  Iteratively?

Given my obsession with spherical planet simulations, my imaginary invisible landscape was of city-like planets.

What if Roman Civilization were to be spread, by algorithmic generators, to create realistic vistas of cities never built?  Where would the aqueducts go?  Portland has some, from Bull Run.  The terminal reservoirs were Roman-Victorian in flavor.  I haunt the ones on Mt. Tabor.

Now try another civilization.  Add or subtract a technology.  The models would seem crude perhaps, yet educational.  Start with a river valley.  Now picture it urbanized.  Let the computer do the work, under the supervision of those with a strong sense of Feng Shui.

I'm always in classrooms where the students want to enter into a multi-user domain together, while they're all in the same room.  The game development platforms we use don't allow for this, but the competing commercial platforms do.

My math teacher brain, in the meantime, is thinking "why not harness this desire to socialize through game playing (remember bridge? remember card games?) and let us play something closer to SimEarth?".

That was a real game by the way, in addition to SimCity.  In SimCity, we got to think about power plants, grids, city taxes, city services, property values and so on.  What would a Henry George version of SimCity be like I wonder?

John has a kind of Machine Learning dynamic going, wherein software tools generate building after building, or block after block, with humans, perhaps licensed architects, registering aesthetic preferences.  "I like this one better than that".

In this way, human judgement and algorithm-developed architectures each play to their own strengths.  Algorithms generate a cornucopia of possibilities.  Human judges cull the field, leaving only a few noteworthy finalists.

Machine Learning algorithms know how to reshape themselves based on feedback, in the form of some error function to be minimized.

The idea that architects and movie directors could interact with fractal generator city simulators sounds completely realistic if we're talking about the movie industry.

You want to fly around on such planets, but not necessarily build them, nor even draw them by hand.  They provide context.  They provide game boards.

John and a long time colleague joined us afterward for lunch at Rogue Hall (Ione Building), part of Rogue Nation (the brewery).

I took many pictures and was looking forward to folding them into a next Youtube (I've been doing them daily), only to find out my SD card was acting up.  The computer wouldn't read it, nor would the camera after that.  Unusual.

I ended up reformatting, losing all the pictures.  Fortunately, John's colleague got it all on video.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Ammo for Philo

"Ammo for Philo" sounds like a contradiction, as "Philo" means love and is short also for "Philosophy" or "love of knowledge".  The "sophy" comes from "sophia" as does "sofa" (I made up "sofa" but I'm thinking of a kind of love seat where two are engaged.

The loner philosopher, perhaps a hermit, is stereotypically (and archetypically) not completely alone, but in a relationship with an otherness we might call Sophia.

They named an robotic doll "Sophia" recently, and made her famous.  The of course there's the movie Her.

However, I'm eager to get away from all male or all white when we talk philosophy, though I want to stay inclusive of same.  For starters, Grunch of Giants (important in my syllabus) is dedicated to three women: 
  • Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy;
  • Margaret Fuller, a Transcendentalist and contemporary of Thoreau (and Poe); and
  • Barbara Marx Hubbard, for whom my dad volunteer, briefly, when she ran for the Office of the Vice President (US).
Speaking of cliches and stereotypes, there's been this common wisdom that the US vice presidency is a mostly ceremonial position, right up there with First Lady.  Would people say First Dude in the case of a married-to-a-man president?

Not that First Guy or Gal is a fluff job either, but it's not constitutionally defined am I right?  A president is not required to have a spouse.

Anyway, in the case of the Veep having a nothing job, that was pure deception:  it's a covert operations gig, most typically.  Dick Cheney was not the first to stove pipe or traffic in state secrets.

Hubbard was pretty brave in running for that office directly, hoping a wannabe prez would pick her (I think she was hoping for John Glenn as a running mate, based on their mutual love the the space program).

My Oregon Curriculum Network is just a storefront, not even a nonprofit.  It's what I do as a business, with any time/energy I have left over, and then some.  I get no tax breaks for it, as I never tried to make it a standalone nonprofit.  I pay it (in the sense of fund it), not the other way around.

The OCN has been pumping out these videos, and in the philosophy department the theme is the foundations of mathematics, in connection with what a certain dead poet society considered a breakthrough, a gear shift, and game changer.

Professional mathematicians were cool to the whole idea and the society went underground, there to be discovered by the Religious Society of Friends, in the person of yours truly.

The RSoF already looked at Kenneth Boulding and Rufus Jones as heroes (more white guys).  The former was a pioneer of General Systems Theory while the later helped get American Friends Service Committee off the ground.

Rufus Jones was connected to Haverford, a college founded by Quakers in Pennsylvania (Penn himself being Quaker, and the state named after him at one time envisaged as a kind of Quaker utopia).

Anyway, OCN also brainstormed CSN (Coffee Shops Network), another "faux business" in the sense that it couches its philanthropic model in the form of a science fictional network of coffee shops.

Would I like this network to exist for real?  Of course.

The CSN is a puzzle piece that helps fund some of the other puzzle pieces.

So what's the "ammo" I'm talking about?

My hopes for philosophy have to do with its relevance.  In a world where religion proves divisive, might philosophy provide bridges?  We don't have to agree about what or whom is divine before coming to grips with the prospects for humanity (one of Bucky's favorite topics).

We have colorful polyhedrons, high definition screens, and a wealth of worthy themes.

Synergetics Hypertoons may not be a reality in your zip code just yet, but that can't stop you from sharing in the dream, regardless of gender or genetic profile.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Dymaxion Videos

Friday, March 01, 2019

Hello Blogosphere

Does anyone still call it that, the "blogosphere" I mean?  Wikipedia has an entry.  We wouldn't call the term "dated" yet would we?  The notion of "blog" itself is pretty recent, and bloggers still abound.

Anyway, I like how the term has "spheric" in it, which describes "a land without borders" as in "never coming to the edge".  A world that abruptly ended, at some cliff or river, would be not a sphere in that sense.  A sphere lets you stumble every which way, and still be on it.

Speaking of stumbling around the planet, I read and watched about the summit meeting in Hanoi, twixt the DC civilian team and DPRK.  I was happy enough with some side results to not be especially disappointed with a holding status quo.  Part of how nation-states establish their longevity is by moving at a glacial pace.  Be the hour hand.  Live forever.

Deeper things are going on in Korea that outsiders will appreciate, is what I'm thinking.  What Americans think and do about Korea is not what matters, or at least that's how it should be.  Americans should feel so relieved when the weight of the world is finally off their shoulders.

Is it because Plymouth Rock was all about Puritans, or for other reasons, that Americans are so prudish?  We burn through presidents on the basis of their peccadilloes quite a lot in seems to me.  The home folks want morality plays, another term for soap opera.

Congress is seeing new potential there, in hold highly televised hearings.  Are we finally getting somewhere, in terms of stirring voters out of their apathy?  The Kavanaugh hearings were like a pilot.

I understand:  the heroic partisans aren't really that offended by what's outwardly touted as the sin, but the less superficial reasons can't be prosecuted.  We keep it shallow on purpose and so on.  Didn't people vote for a playboy, a Hugh Hefner type?  That was a way to reassert a kind of male dominant prowess no?  Hawkish Hillary wasn't that different in some ways.

Forgive me if I get bored.  I'm just thinking we could have a lot funner planet with different screenwriting.  I didn't really like soap operas either.

They say it's not really about sex outside of marriage (with Clinton either, or with Kennedys), but the lying.  I've grown up with presidents lying all my life.  It's what they do.  So?  Goes with the territory.

Prohibition is and was interesting.  When government aims to be "secular" that's a way of saying the different ethnicities can regulate "what's moral" to some degree, that's not our business.  If your religion says it's OK to drink alcohol, then go for it -- as long as you're not a legal minor.

But this hands off attitude only goes so far, as we've seen, and the boundaries keep changing.

Secularism includes the idea of rules, and therefore of breaking them.  But does one follow rules to be "good"?  Does one play chess for the halo?

Marriage is a secular institution as well as a religious one.

Speaking of which (screenwriting), Patrick was full of great ideas today, regarding how Truckers for Peace (an academic program) might model itself after massage therapists who do the same thing (swap jobs and places to stay).

Which reminds me, I thought a genius piece of the Standard est Training was the "needs a ride or place to stay" segment.

Uh oh, I'm likely to veer into Scientology next.  Talk about segues.

Right when the Academy Awards were on, it turned out later, I was back in the old feud between the British BBC guy and the various factions of this powerful church, catching up on the movies (genre: documentary, expose).

You've gotta admit, it's a pretty gripping drama with all the elements, including families split down the middle, at the highest levels.

When will someone run for US president with Scientologist on their resume?

My rude and crude Youtubes (I'm proud of some of them) keep me cycling through the Virus Meme, somewhat by design.  I'll do another Medium story on that maybe.

I've been contributing more Youtubes (U2oobs) to the meme pool.  I mentioned some recent ones on edu-sig.  I collect them here and there in my blogs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Staying Put

As it turns out, the weather was pretty normal, after the morning flurries.  But we didn't know that would happen waking up.  I woke up early, to an email from the auto mechanic very conveniently allowing me to reschedule.  Sure, why not?

I was up early because of time zones again.  Not the first time.  We in the on-line economy, when doing synchronous meetings, need to adjust for the global economy staying awake, somewhere, 24/7.  This was a follow-up appointment, having established the only remaining glitches were client-side.  This morning's meetup went off without a hitch.

However, with snow coming down, the street already white, I wasn't about to rush out to have my door lock inspected.  My car is a junker (meant affectionately, and not out of disrespect to a still strong engine) and shows wear and tear everywhere.  Remember Columbo with Peter Falk?  I think my car is nicer than his at least.

I'll be getting back around to that soon though.  To postpone owing to snow is not to neglect, at least not in Portland.  We're allowed to take snow days.  The district schools were all closed.

I had an assignment in a district school yesterday.  There's a lot bureaucratic going on, in addition to all the Python learning.  I sent a note to the parents, reminding them of what we're doing around Codesters, an adaptation of the Python language that runs well in the browser.  These are middle schoolers and I'm not expecting them to have the same wishes around how to spend time.

Deke told me yesterday was Personal Chef Day, and that I am for my mom.  She does a pretty routine diet, thanks to the "food is medicine" mantra, and her pills interact with all the rest of it.  That makes the work easier.  She's able to fend for herself to a point, if need be.  And she'll want you to know:  she's not the only one known to leave a burner on.

Have I talked about Tulsi Gabbard yet?  The candidate for US president.  I remember:  I started a draft on Medium, but don't regard it as pithy and probably won't publish it.

In general I think like an Atlantic Monthly of some months ago, that the job of POTUS has become too undoable, in terms of demands and responsibilities.  As a consequence, I'm finding myself not wishing that office on anyone, as too cruel and unusual.  Tulsi deserves better.

An emperor-president is too oxymoronic a notion, we've been finding that out more and more over time.  The screenwriting just isn't believable.  The illusions have worn too thin.

Political bubbles have popped before.  I'm not scapegoating here.  No one president has brought about this state of affairs and indeed many of fought it, in ways we don't (and probably won't ever) know about.

Speaking of the job of POTUS, the scandal lights were flashing big time today as the public learned more about the personal wheelings and dealings of their chief executive, from his former lawyer.

The broad outlines of the story have been public for months.  However, the full circus potential of the scandal had not been exploited, in the manner of the Kavanaugh hearings, until this morning.  I was blissfully oblivious, until my daily briefing from one of my TV hound friends.  I did some catching up later, having decided to stay put.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Journal Entry on Racism

Copied over from Facebook.
Activity log: 
Feb 24, 2019, 11:43 AM
(commenting in an already long thread)

We can celebrate the expressiveness and adaptability of the human genome without buying in to the specific taxonomy of races invented mostly by white supremacist social Darwinists with an agenda to justify imperialism and/or slavery.

The racists use animal husbandry for their concepts, wanting to identify humans as either "pure specimens" of this or that breed (race), or "mongrels" (hybrids, mixed race). We could go much further in this direction if we wanted, with "Best in Show" specimens of whatever pure breeds the authorities decided to enshrine, perhaps inventing new races as time goes on.

In the meantime, racists forge ahead without any universally agreed upon taxonomy. It all keeps changing, and "race" gets hopelessly confused with "ethnicity" which is different. It's not that I don't see genetic differences (and/or ethnic ones), I just have little respect for the pseudo-anthropology that pretends to see a clear and clean taxonomy. A lot of academic white guys with snobby attitudes want to tell me, another white guy, what the races are. Are there five or seven? What are they again?

Their answers always sound stupid to me, from pretentiously pseudo-educated college and university types with a cave man's understanding of the world. I can't credit racists with any kind of intellectual integrity. They're a morally bankrupt camp and yes a lot of them have white skin and academic degrees. I consider racists inferior, intellectually, in so many ways. To believe in races is an ethnic trait. Not everyone suffers from that specific meme virus.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Staggerers Party

The term "staggerers" jokingly derives from "wanderers", what we call ourselves, I think mostly for the wandering nature of our group meetups.  The conversation flits from topic to topic.

I'm not claiming we're unique like that.  When adults gather at dinner or cocktail parties, you note similar stream of consciousness chit chat.  We practice democracy in having inclusive conversations that give people frequent opportunities to change the subject if they wish to.

In other modes, we keep things more organized, even ritualized if in the realm of religion, legal rites.

Secular institutions are not without ritual.  But I wander.

"To stagger" in this context means to walk in a halting fashion, not gracefully.  However we're speaking metaphorically and just poking fun at ourselves.  I don't expect it's a term that will catch on.

I'm reminded of "Quakers" as by some accounts the term had the spin of a insult.  Without a time machine, it's no simple matter to recreate the psyche of a 1700s England.

Our youngest participant had suffered the most dire healthcare chapter lately, in terms of acuity. I remember my bout with appendicitis just out of college, staying with friends.

We gathered at my place, Carol gamely lurking in on the conversation, in the living room, where pizza was had.  We also have an upstairs.

You can see the place through my Oregon Curriculum Network website, where I use a Google Street View of it.  I think of myself as a for-profit business that funds a nonprofit, which is my work to uplift education practices in Oregon.  I'm far from being expert in all such practices.  I'm here to learn.

Speaking of learning, Don helped me tune in the Sallie Tisdale corpus.  I bought her book on female Buddhist personages, for Kindle.  That was but a couple hours ago and I haven't studied it yet.

David had a pinkish shirt with the NASA logo.  He used to work there.  I've got other blog posts about Dr. DiNucci.  Wanderers meet in the old Linus Pauling House in Asylum District.  I've been writing up many of the meetups in these blogs for over a decade by now.

Like what happens in many parties, gatherings, meetups, of an informal nature, if there's internet, speakers and screen, there's the possibility of dialing up (selecting) various video clips. 

The diner juke box is/was similar.  People take turns picking music. 

That's behavior that also traces to salons and parlors, developed as somewhat playful spaces by our Victorian ancestors.

Bob works as a nurse, these days on a night shift schedule.  He goes pretty far back in this blog, to an Esozone.  Don, a frequent visitor of Doug Strain, met Bob in his role as staff.  Bob is a jolly good fellow.

My curriculum was web based, not textbook based, and not behind paywalls.  As of this writing, a lot of my pioneering, such as my Numeracy Series, is still there.  However by the time you read this, a lot of that stuff may have gone off-line.  I haven't gotten to a place with Oregon where I think my domains will be long term relevant going forward.  Cyber-tourism is still in its infancy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Welcome, to Planet of the Apes

try it on x2 speed?

Per a recent blog post, one of the Fuller Schoolers sent me a link to the Gutenberg Press version of an H.G. Wells piece.  Wells was attending a conference in Washington, D.C. in 1918, a gala affair with opening speeches by President Harding, aimed at heading off any more world wars.

WW1 (as no one called it yet) had just ended.  Everyone was saying, how do we stop that from ever happening again?  Civilization was having a hard time recovering.  Wells wondered if the illness was terminal.

Our man on the scene, as if sent by time machine, does his best to raise the awareness level, as we might say today, and without any use of psychedelics (Doors to Perception, by Aldous Huxley, came decades later).

He's skeptical that even he, a well-anchored man, will be able to muster the necessary sobriety of spirit to help regain an even keel.  He notices he's too giddy, one might say hysterical.  He's like a doctor walking among patients in a psychiatric ward, except we've lost track of which are which. 

Russia has just saved France's butt against the Germans, and is now not invited to the table, because of those mean Bolsheviks.  Yes they were mean, as were the Zionists (Wells doesn't mention those).   Germany was to repay everyone.

The lessons learned were in meanness, and vengefulnes, for the most part.  Kids realize it's cruelty that counts, which becomes like their rite of passage to the despair of adulthood.  We won't get bullied again.  Next time, it's our turn to be the bully.

And what about Japan, with its population pressures?  Could it really afford to give up its designs on China, and would it, if no one else did?  H.G. Wells was thinking out loud (not unlike Bucky -- the two did meet, in another chapter).

We've already been through many generations of European imperialism and colonialism by this time, one could say back through Rome.  Like Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie, Wells is far from infatuated with imperialism.

In bringing up all these questions as a journalist, Wells was hoping to inspire deeper thought and more appropriate action on the part of his fellow planetarians.  He was doing the world a service, in sketching himself, the paradigm Englishman, in contrast to these impetuous Americans, and easy-to-get-along-with Chinese.

He's taking risks, as well as helping to define his own character.

I'm not through the whole work yet.  I saw the name "Briand" popping up here and there, and started wondering about "Kellog" as in "Kellog-Briand Pact".

Would that Treaty be the outcome of this Washington based process work?

Not immediately, for sure.

That Treaty wasn't signed until 1928, and proved unenforceable against the warmongers (see embedded Youtube).

When you get right down to it, the people who specialize in implements of torture and coercion, get to have their way quite a bit.

We all live daily under the threat of nuclear annihilation, and will tend to obey that within ourselves that would put off that terrible conflagration.

Naturally there's push back against the warmongers, many of whom have already invested in reinforced bunkers.  The warmongers crave some proof they were right to be prepared, and stoke the self-fulfilling prophecy machine (the same siren songs, over and over).

As Wonder Woman would learn in Humans 101, a demonic force is hiding behind humanity, a Lucifer (they used a different name), determined to make this place a living Hell.

Humanity sorely needs true defenders, and some pray for help from ETs.  I understand why a deus ex machina might have some appeal around now.  We have this sense of needing rescuing.

Where's a mother ship when you need one?  Beam me up Scotty.

In the words of one of my favorite Martians:
In his preface to the 1941 edition of The War in the Air, Wells had stated that his epitaph should be: 
"I told you so. You damned fools".

-- Wikipedia