Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Skin Color

When I was little, I'd hear my maternal grandmother sometimes refer to "colored people" which to her ears was not a slur.  America, in those days, consisted of "whites" and "coloreds".

However my generation was already being schooled that "colored people" was not acceptable.  "Skin colored" in a box of crayons was also biased, obviously, because off-pink (not white really) is only the color of a sampling.  Lots of skin colors out there.  That much, at least, is clear.

What's not clear is whether "white" is really not a color, given few people are actually that.  Off-white is a paint color, a whole variety of them.  Singling out "white" as a one non-color seems a similar form of discrimination.

If "people of color" (POC) is OK to say, is it OK if off-whites and even true albinos, be considered people of color as well?  That would seem the more uniform basket we're looking for, where any skin tone has its associated RGB value.

A problem though, is we use appearances for a kind of code, as in dress code, but also as in "code of veiled meanings".  Choice of font might be part of a code, or a flag, or other symbol.

Perhaps the better word is "brand" as in "look and feel".

Like when we go to high school or later college, we might have these various stereotypes, these templates, that people follow, more or less consciously.  Out of such raw material, identities get carved and tested, torn down and recast.

Is obsession with nuanced codes the way we operate as egos?

A lot of meanings can't or won't survive a bright light, but as implication and innuendo, they have a shadowy persistence.

The need to have or be a "personality" might have a lot to do with our color coding.  We get to play roles then, even pick up the mantle of this or that group and become as though mouthpieces of historical lineages, simply on the basis of a few genes in charge of skin, melanin content etc. 

As we grow older, and closer to death, some of us become the disembodied voices of these imagined "races" or "ethnic groups".  We might get our DNA tested, and build an identity based on what Ancestry.com has to say.

Lots of theories and superstitions, or call them "day dreams" help the ego glue it all together.  Everyone needs to be somebody, right?  Why not start with skin color, daft as that may sound?

Might there be a way to champion humans, or even more than that, humanity itself?

We have this word humane, and use it with respect to other animals.  In what ways might we train to be humane?  Would we need to identify as a person of any specific color to be humane?

Perhaps these code languages, not of our own choosing, nor making, could be left by the roadside?  I'm tempted to disrupt them.  I frequently question the reality of "races" and the relevance of DNA to one's mental makeup.  The power of stereotypes, templates, role models is real though.  I admit there's theater.

I suppose if your daydream is working well for you, adding insights and happiness, productivity, then it might be worth keeping.  I've been inventive regarding my own persona, crafting some specific guy.  Realizing one's ability to be inventive is perhaps the most one might hope for.  Doesn't "human" mean "made from clay"?  I read that somewhere.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Foam


Balls in Backyard

C6XTY

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Summer Camp Fun


Summer Camp is primarily focussed on MIT Scratch.

The "block language" projects have continued to evolve though. Today we took a look at Blockly and Berkeley Snap.

Snap in Arabic

Friday, August 04, 2017

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

International School

I'm hardly The Martian (Matt Damon) in the degree of XRL (extreme remote livingry) I'm using. For one thing, I'm still on Planet Earth.  For another, I'm not far from Hwy 97, running north-south through Central Oregon.

I've envisioned my international school headquarters somewhere in this area, thanks to Barbara and Ed Janoe, some Friends living right along Crooked River canyon.  Here was the dramatic landscape my school needed, along with the horses, alpacas, and obsidian flows.  Smith Rock is a world class rock climbers' destination.  We could also teach bungee jumping.

Lew Frederick, Oregon State senator, was by the Linus Pauling House recently, on Hawthorne.  I shared with him my fear that Rajneesh Puram might have poisoned the well (pun intended -- the group used to poison people) in terms of Oregonians accepting an international cast with a footprint in this rural paradise, outside Portland.  Xenophobia is sometimes born not of ignorance, but of real contact with an aggressor.

Another vision I shared with Lew, spelled out more in these blogs, is the whole concept of off the grid camps, harvesting their own energy and food, ala New Alchemy Institute and Whole Earth Catalog.

We've come a long way since the 1960s, tech-wise if not in political maturity, and engineering firms need venues to showcase that inspire the public imagination, if seeking markets for their civilian lines.  They have war theater to showcase killingry and do so routinely.

"EPCOT West" (a meme) was born out of Dignity Village, near PDX International.  Do you want to experience XRL for real?  Instead of another make-shift shanty town, Portland would show off the new products and offer tours.   

MercyCorps has headquarters here.  Refugee camps around the world are looking to the Pacific Northwest to innovate.  The international school students will feed into our deployment crews, having trained with the equipment and taken in the bigger picture, of a world that works for everyone.

I didn't come out here in a recruiting van, or bizmo.  The art car made it over the mountain.  I've got my gear.  At the moment, I've got WiFi.

Another Friend, AimeĆ© Ford Conner, helped me come up with a name for this project:  Project Earthala.  That could also be the name of an eco-village established by the project, and featuring the latest in XRL.

I'm looking ahead to a kind of international tourism that doubles as a kind of work-study.   However tourism has been taken over by military touring in large degree, in tandem with the rise of idiocracy, and that's tainting many brands, and frustrating the civilian markets.  We continue to experience high levels of squalor on Ghetto Planet.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Food Fight

Mobsters accusing mobsters of harboring a criminal element is a sight to behold.  We're supposed to find a deep moral difference between "Russian 1%" and the others, whereas Occupy looked much the same in Moscow (a confrontation).

A criminal sphere embraces a more game-like lawful world, sometimes with crushing effectiveness, other times more divided and self recriminatory.  The latter phase is what we're in.  The mobsters are all outing each other as the onlookers grow more financially literate by the week.

Trampled underfoot is an old world order, somewhat forgotten, wherein the cyber-sphere seemed less tabloid. The action needed to be dumbed down a lot as we democratized more.  I sound elitist for saying that, but it's more esoterica that I'm into.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Investments

Ritzy

I've been chatting with investment fund types about what Quakers will or won't invest in.  Given a push towards improving infrastructure, ala China, there are moves afoot to contract with companies that build infrastructure.

The lunch meetup today, at a Chinese place, connected me back to the Hunger Project and Lynne Twist.  I'm listening to her CDs: Unleashing the Soul of Money.

She's a Bucky Fuller fan, like I am.  Bucky made a big difference throughout the est network.

Has she read Graeber's Debt: the First 5000 Years I wonder? She tells the myth that money was invented to rescue us from a "barter economy", a thesis this debt book questions.

Quoting a review by Charles Eisenstein:
Graeber ably and thoroughly debunks the commodity theory of money that holds sway in neo-classical economics, which says that money originated from early barter economies. This, as Graeber points out, is an imaginary history with no historical or anthropological evidence. Instead, it projects our own market-conditioned behavior onto primitive people, assuming that they, like we, were calculating maximizers of their own self-interest. A universe of competing, separate selves, interacting according to impersonal economic “forces”, is the economic analog of the Newtonian physics that was so spectacularly successfully up until the 20th century. It is obsolete today, as quantum mechanics reveals the dubiousness of the subject-object distinction.  
Do Quakers invest in Hollywood?  The military-infotainment complex depends a lot on turning theater into theater, i.e. the military saga into the blockbuster epic, or computer game.  Many Quakers do invest in Hollywood.  Whittier is close by.

Anyway, lots to think about.  I added this comment to QuakerQuaker this morning, copied here:
Comment by Kirby Urner 4 hours ago

One reason Quakers are no longer strong in business, compared to late 1700s (a time of peak influence in the private sector), is it's hard to work in the US without being a part of its military-infotainment complex.

Developing sprawling businesses that pointedly do not invest or contract with sociopathic institutions would be a huge challenge.  Meetings themselves, though businesses (if you believe the shoptalk), are not public enough to make a difference.  Schools, hotel chains, hospitals... if only.
Speaking of fundraising, Multnomah Meeting was successful in getting enough donations and pledges to install the new temperature control system. Thanks to our ad hoc committee for getting that organized.

A 1980s family picture, Dawn's side: Sam (Dawn's brother), Glenys (mom), Carla (sister), Dawn. This was taken before Dawn and I met, she the new bookkeeper at Center for Urban Education, me just back from Bhutan.

Dawn and Family

I driving over the mountains to Sam's memorial service next week. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rocky Horror Picture Show (movie review)


I've seen very little mention of the geodesic dome, featured as a part of the spooky castle above.  Much could be made of this link to another counter-cultural icon, from a domain of sexual mores breaking out of their bounding box, thanks to ETs.

The point was to visit Clinton Street Theater where teens, mas o meno, have been doing the audience participatory version of this cult film for some twenty odd years, starting midnight on Saturdays.  The torch gets passed, one generation to the next.

Getting picked as a cast member means knowing the right people, in addition to exhibiting some talent to entertain. Participating in a RHPS is something of a rite of passage.

I went with a professor of gender studies and international development who'd never seen the film, turned off by the word "horror", a genre she doesn't enjoy.  The raucousness of the audience overwhelmed the soundtrack and she came away with a garbled version of the plot, but that's easily rectifiable with later study.

I like pointing out that Tim Curry has a later role in the movie Kinsey, where I plays an ironically prudish professor. One of the best ways to study a culture is by delving in to its sex ed, but then don't make the mistake of thinking education == academia.  All media have an educational role.

My first induction into this cult came way back in my Princeton years, in the late 1970s, much closer to the time when this film, originally a stage play in England, where that castle is, first came out.

Audience Participation

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Coursera Homework


The on-line course I'm taking asked us to build a circuit of two push button switches, both of which need to be pressed for the LED to come on. The Arduino motherboard is used only to power the breadboard, very not fancy.

Note that a yellow LED on the motherboard itself, distinct from the always-on power light (green), is flashing intermittently. This would have to do with some earlier-loaded blinking light program, unrelated to the current project. The Arduino does retain the last loaded program, even when powered down.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Retro Coding

:: talks about CGI in the client / server context ::

Retro Coding is where one deliberately dials back to an earlier point in time and uses tools at that time considered cutting edge, but since abandoned.

A case in point:  "Common Gateway Interface" or "CGI" programming. "Computer-generated Imagery" is the more common decoding; a name collision (just get clear on the namespace, for less cognitive dissonance).

In Python, we import the cgi module primarily for access to FieldStorage, an object that plays the role of sys.argv in some ways, the latter being a list object intermediary between "__main__" (the running namespace) and the shell command used to start a script.

For example: 

$ ./get_chem.py Au 

passes Au as a string string element to the running get_chem.py, which finds it in sys.argv[1].  'get_chem.py' itself, the name of the running script, is what's in sys.argv[0].
 
Here's an example lookup operating, running the above lookup about gold ("Au"):

Server and Client 

That's Python's standard library CGI server in the background, plain vanilla.  The going rate is not included. This pared down database lists he abbreviation and longer name, number of protons, and atomic mass.  The long integer and KTU track when a user last touched the record, me in this case.

>>> num
1493462392
>>> datetime.datetime.fromtimestamp(num)
datetime.datetime(2017, 4, 29, 3, 39, 52)


The invocation in the foreground triggers a little script to send an HTTP request to said server, with a chemical element symbol (e.g. Au for Gold), which, if all goes well, returns a JSON string which the little script converts, to a list. Print to console. We're done:

looking up an element through localhost

Taking a look at that script, we see the Python DBI in action. That could have been Oracle we were talking to, like in the good old days (mythological allusion).

Serving Data

I've changed the shebang line to /usr/bin/env python, which is fine if you're running Python3 or greater, and shared the two scripts via Github, for educational use.  Thanks to WorkingIt!

The database table, periodic_table.db, is likewise available.  I'm continuing to evolve this little project, adding AJAX to the mix.