Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quaker Business

Today marked Tara's first experience on an adult Quaker committee, Multnomah's Peace and Social Concerns. I dropped her off at the meetinghouse so I could buzz over the bridge to catch the tail end of the Bridge City business meeting.

At our meeting in North Portland this evening, an informal event, we took a trip down memory lane, comparing notes from the Clinton years:
  1. then CIA Director John Deutsch flying to some high school in LA to disavow any agency drug trafficking in crack cocaine;
  2. killing the guard while destroying the veterinary supply plant in Sudan with a cruise missile;
  3. bombing the European city of Belgrade, starting with the Chinese embassy.
Those too were sick and twisted years. Most of us at the meeting had lived in Washington DC, some of us (not me) had been born there.

I had my OLPC XO along for the ride and acted like ol' Captain Grunch on the back of some cereal box, yakking up plans for world domination, purveying a more hopeful brand of futurism (e.g. children with laptops, with or without the crank units).

Then it was off to the gym to catch Joe Biden on Larry King, yakking about getting back on track in the eyes of world leaders. The derailment happened a lot longer than eight years ago.

On Fox, our American Dad was going ape over his son's getting a little too deeply into "commie stuff", the kind of kitsch you might buy at Missing Link on Hawthorne (formerly on Belmont).

So will this geoegraphy-by-dodecacam idea from Google spark renewed interest in "duals" as a topic in the better Quaker schools? The dodecahedron's dual is the icosahedron, the basis for viruses (1, 12, 42, 92...). That's the tack I took at the Math Forum today, as I'm always trying to get back to our primitive sequence of polyhedra, a kind of gem collection at the core of our philosophical system.

Why that's important is a lot of our best futuristic planning and heritage attaches thereto, through the writings of American Transcendentalist R. Buckminster Fuller: lots of telegenic topics, Medal of Freedom, dome-building Marines.

However, with zero corroboration from elementary and/or high school text books (not because the math is wrong) this remains quasi-verbotten and/or subversive and/or completely ignored material. Too many wholesome whole numbers, too much organic goodness, too much hope.

OK, I admit to having a Fuller Projection at Cleveland in the global studies classroom (and at Multnomah Meeting for children's program), and yes the geometry teacher knows V + F = E + 2, but that's just a drop in the bucket. ETS hasn't given a green light yet. Its standardized tests expect no knowledge of A & B modules, or MITEs.

There has gotta be some really strong philosophy keeping the Bucky stuff at bay, or we'd be a lot further along by now with the smarter, greener houses, the better health care.

Apparently our nation's curriculum writers are awaiting Princeton's next move, as that's where all the top notch philosophy happens in this country. Or is it the Woodrow Wilson School we need to be watching?

Welcome back to Wanderer Allen Taylor, recently returned from wandering in Costa Rica. Terry, ISEPP CEO, is still out and about someplace. Dave Ulmer is still in his bizmo, last I checked (Dave invented geocaching awhile back, I think I mentioned).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Product Placement

I stopped in at Mulligan's in route to Dollar Scholar for some Hanukkah doodads (part of our annual neighborly gift exchange -- amidst latkas (or latkes)), a chance to compare notes with a CIO type. We're in parallel universes in a lot of ways, up against obstacles, casting about for opportunities.

In my preferred future, Columbia Gorge hydropower charges the batteries of these cool ATVs, some in reality shows, computer camps with a purpose (and lotsa props). Recruits from around the world, eager for GIS skills, for logistics training, coding skills, rub shoulders with Pacific Northwest faculty, making us more cosmopolitan than ever. Could be good. So, who wants to sponsor and what's XRL and why don't I speak plain English for a change? That would be a change.

Speaking of which, apparently the Lewis & Clark Party came pretty close to armed combat with some Originals over the dog episode. Their Newfoundland, named Seaman (not Scannon) apparently got itself kidnapped. Happy ending though right? We should have more cartoons, more manga, more anime. This is a good story, worth retelling with different spins, and not just the dog part. Tell us about all the fish grandpa, before the great dams. Sea lions... Tell us more about those peoples, like from Warm Springs, where they came from, how they lived.

Happy Hannukkah
!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More Newsgroup Traffic

Chris Fearnley of SNEC writes:
Like everyone else, I've been thinking through the most recent examples of GRUNCH (GRoss UNiverse Cash Heist)[1] and the partial collapse of our money-focused instead of "real wealth"[2] focused economic system. I've been thinking about some of the ideas Bucky gave us to be effective at times like this (all quotes are Bucky's):
  • "There is no energy crisis, food crisis or environmental crisis. There is only a crisis of ignorance." What facts are most in need of broader disclosure? How best can we disclose these critical facts?
  • "The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done."
  • What "local-Universe problem-solving" do you see to do "in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative Universe"?
  • "Emergence through emergency": now might be a propitious time to polish and present options for how to contribute to Humanity's real wealth assets to improve its cosmic accounting balance sheet.
This global crisis may just need the kind of bold, creative, omni-responsible problem-solving and initiative-taking that Bucky's Synergetics inspires us to adopt! I look forward to hearing about the initiatives and solutions you all are pursuing in support of our "eternally regenerative Universe". All hands on deck!
He then gives some links, like to Ron Resch's art, to a magazine called Hyperseeing where Dmitri Kozlov got an article published, and to an upcoming workshop on cellular automata, in connection with which Dr. J.F. (Jim) Nystrom, is looking for papers on the applicability of Synergetics.

Hal Hildebrand of Smalltalk fame used to chat with me about this topic (Synergetics and CA). This was before Wolfram's A New Kind of Science and its trans-human model of what we mean by intelligence (e.g. whales as Grunch CEOs).

This just in from Linda Richards:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Checking Global Data

The Google Maps service is nothing if not impressive, gives a whole new meaning to public planning with help from shared geographic information systems (GIS), a mission at Ecotrust as well.

However "unverified listings" such as shown above, returned upon searching for "Dignity Village, Portland, Oregon" are sometimes unintentionally ironic: it comes under Retirement and Life Care Communities, Assisted Living Services and Facilities.

The site is actually just over to the right (click picture for larger view).

OK, back to Facebook, adding a link to Immersive Media (thinking ahead to possible projects requiring "situational awareness").

:: me in a tree house
(photo by Cary Kittner) ::

Monday, December 22, 2008

More About Christmas


:: solstice party, December 20, 2008 ::

The Manger Scene encourages reflection on several themes: the importance of non-humans in the life of the Spirit; the class equivalence of Magi and Shepherds, when it comes to seeing the Light amidst darkness; Mary as a mother, experiencing joy amidst economic hardship and the real challenges and sufferings of child birth.

I've dwelt on these first two already. Mary's centrality, in birth and in death, is more a theme at the Grotto, an important destination for those into spiritual travel, as my wife Dawn was so into. We've frequented the Grotto as a family for many years, or I go there on sacred occasions with my friends and relations.

Back to my first theme (non-humans): I'm grateful for Sarah Angel today, as she's truly enjoying the snow, wanting to play, even chased her own tail for awhile, just for old time's sake.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Party @ LPH

Gus is showing Penny Boston's Ted Talk about life on Mars, about ETs more generally, me having projected some Russell Towle vids (mathcasts) which Wanderers appreciated.

Penny is the keynote speaker at the Contact conference next year (silver anniversary), Gus also a speaker, Larry Niven, Carlo Sequin, Seth Shostak... Kim Stanley Robinson (RGB Mars).

Gus
and Penny make a good couple I think, both Mars freaks, into hopper bots 'n stuff.

Gus
is here with Don and Glenn. Small gathering. Glenn and I went shopping for minerals this afternoon, a neighborhood event.

Cities at Night
was another hit, although I'm not sure in what sense cities are "caught" in that triangle he mentions.

Tara is baking Fate Cakes at Laurie's, a family tradition. Elizabeth took Tara shopping for some new clothes. We're all thinking of Dawn.

Her Turning the Wheel business keeps on turning.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Humble Beginnings

Under the old rules of the game, a lucky winner in the shareholders' sweepstakes might endow a foundation and have philanthropic activities carried out in his or her memory and name. Fred Meyer comes to mind, a local grocer who earned a fortune, endowed a foundation.

In the meantime, most scrabble to get by, manage a few acts of charity, maybe have good enough accounting to take the tax deduction. However taxes, like tolls, supposedly feed the public good (sometimes we're skeptical), and you have to pay them, so that those valving these funds on your behalf (you elected them maybe?) might do your bidding, in terms of funding worthy programs.

Given the point of sale already features a sales tax in many states (not Oregon), and that vendors have their good will building campaigns (in addition to advertising) it's not a big leap to give customers an opportunity to practice philanthropy and have this go on their record (anonymous donations still an option). Instead of invisible others channeling funds on your behalf, you make your own decisions, more like a stock buyer, investment banker.

In the world of foundations, boards sometimes look for those tiny, esoteric operations that will earn them a reputation as intelligent social networkers, good at leveraging. Just as NGOs boast of their funders, so do funders tout their more signature success stories (a two way street in other words).

A philosophical (contemplative) ambience, well provided with study materials, is conducive to creative philanthropy, gives customers an opportunity to really think about what programs they want to help sponsor. There's lots of software in this picture, much of it open source.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Water Cooler Buzz

OK, so it wasn't a water cooler exactly, adult beverages involved, but the story begins with my wondering why cereal boxes haven't been rushed into service to explain about OLPC around the breakfast table.

Kids would be excited about getting one (a laptop, whatever model), not right in the box necessarily, mixed in with the Trix, but eventually, through school maybe, as tools for democratic participation, a way of working for Uncle Sam.

What does the cereal box say?

That got me on a rant about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS -- yummy in Cocoa Krispies), which has an ad campaign going, big bucks for TV, wherein this girl offers this guy a Popsicle, and he balks, worried about HFCS. Is he thinking about diabetes, about morbid obesity? The ad doesn't say.

Some of these differences are cultural. Like when growing up in the Philippines, we'd see MSG commercials from Ajinomoto with kids just pouring the stuff on chicken legs, like some kind of salt. In North America on the other hand, MSG ranks with DDT in some circles (another three-letter devil at first welcomed with open arms).

If you look at the ingredients for ketchup, you might see HFCS as an ingredient, right ahead of regular corn syrup. They say a bottle of Heinz Ketchup contains more sugar than a bottle of Coca Cola, but then no one downs a bottle of ketchup in one sitting (or most people don't).

Ketchup and fries: that's the fast food emporium's signature "diet" -- a great way to super size (want a shake with that?).

One of our number mentioned Twinkies' woes, perhaps unrelated. Twinkies and Wonder Bread have a long history together, from Continental Bakeries, through IT&T, Ralston Purina, and now IBC.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Voluntary Associations

USA secondary schools tend to inculcate a sense of rank and privilege among football players, but without setting up payroll and rewarding in monetary terms. The rewards come as perks, with the promise of payment later, if the player makes the cut and becomes a star athlete, a route open only to a lucky few.

Likewise, the business world or "private sector" as some call it, is able to cut across pay scales using voluntary formations recruited from many walks of life within a company. These might be actual sports teams, or community service squads. Perhaps a small group of health professionals joins an "away team" to provide much needed services in trying circumstances.

People who might not come face to face in the everyday workflow, now become pair programmers in some silly exercise (silly in the sense of transient, not in terms of intent), thanks to the workshop context, possibly run by outsiders. Disrupting entrenched patterns of bureaucratic communication may be the life-saving tactic in many a dying business. Relationships formed in a workshop may persist to positive effect. New possibilities arise as a result.

All too often, the infighting and feuding that led to these unproductive relationships have mostly faded from corporate memory, and yet still the CFO and CSO hardly ever sit at the same table (for example), to the detriment of all concerned. Volunteer opportunities may counter such semi-paralysis, break the ice, restore fluidity to the workplace.

This Centers Network I sometimes write about, was an example of such a voluntary association that cut across obstructive fences at a citywide level. As a Logistics Supervisor for seminars and trainings, I got to interface with hotel managements, soap opera stars, even the wife of a big city mayor (one of the seminar leaders). In my walk of life as a math teacher in New Jersey, I'd not have had these networking opportunities, with individuals of talent and with a desire to serve.

Thanks to my volunteer hours with the New York Area Center, I met this guy Harry (pseudonym) who distrusted his business partner, was co-owner of some bar. Whereas a lot of us might think owning a bar in Greenwich Village might be some dream come true, the bees knees, Harry just wanted a settled family life like he saw in Sears-Roebuck catalogs. Last I knew, he'd joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints in hopes of fulfilling his dream.

There's this somewhat ridiculous misperception that to be involved in volunteer work is by definition to be taking time away from one's legitimate (i.e. directly compensated) professional responsibilities. Even basic R&R is a part of self-pacing however, which is why taking paid holidays may be a job requirement (i.e. not so voluntary). But here I'm talking about work, sometimes quite difficult and challenging, outside the usual routines.

You'll find this bias in movies like Mary Poppins, where the banker dad is obviously too puffed up with self-importance to take his own personal or spiritual growth seriously, let alone directly raising his children (the Victorian model was to interpose a trained professional, a nanny, invariably of the female persuasion and optimally French speaking).

In some business subcultures, "volunteer work" was associated with "charities", and was therefore viewed as something the women should look after, as somehow less important, more marginal, whereas the males, the "real bosses" (aka soulless monsters) would have only their selfish money-making as a professional focus, never mind about Ubuntu (Sangha).

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I'm guessing my readers are likely familiar with these somewhat knee-jerk habits of thought, characteristic of an antediluvian way of thinking. I'm glad we're no longer of that mindset, at least not among most Wanderers and/or Quakers I work with (both good examples of voluntary associations). We know we're not just spinning our wheels when we go "off the clock" as it were, to more freely associate, engage on committees, take field trips or whatever.

Let's remember that community service used to be a major point of those "artificial persons" before those clever lawyers railroaded their "corporate personhood" philosophy down our throats, on the back of the 14th Amendment.

Not surprisingly, a next generation, better informed about past mistakes, equipped with more hindsight, is brainstorming new business models that mix in these democratizing, self-steering components right from the get go, thereby creating a new crop of "agile" companies, more nimble, less crash-prone, less trapped in self-defeating design patterns.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Spider Lilies (movie review)

This chic flick is also interesting anthropology out of Taiwan, rated NR (for Not Rated), but in Portland terms I'd say PG13, despite the eroticams and suggestive language.

For non-Chinese, this movie helps remove any prejudice about Chinese in the context of Internet chat rooms. Westerners tend to project the nightmare hunt and peck experience it'd be for them, to say anything quickly like LOL, whereas native users just rattle the stuff out, hardly thinking about it. Words like 'silence' and 'sorry' stay in Latin-1 sometimes, a testament to cross-cultural influences.

The studious older girl grew up in Japan, so you'll maybe hear how her accent is different. Jade (with green hair, though we in the audience know that that's fake) is the extrovert, wanting to recapture the innocent love these two experienced as consenting pre-adults, and before the proverbial sushi hit the fan and all hell broke loose. In the confusion, they both wonder if self-indulgence is to blame (especially the introvert), which they try to sort out as the film unwinds.

The males in this film are mostly damaged goods and/or pieces of work. The two "good guys" suffer from speech impediments, whereas the others are just downright mean and/or manipulative. Taiwan is apparently no utopia either.

As young women, both are making their way in the world, working hard, staying strong, and supporting dependents. As consenting adults, less confused, they'll make a great pair, but this film isn't focused on the happy ending.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grinch Glitch

Santa & Co. was hoping Google would streamline the wealth redistribution system this year, by setting up this machine in the Grotto, where orders and demands might be processed, after sorting them by naughty and nice (standard protocol).

However, Python Nation's benevolent dictator Guido Van Rossum apparently submitted something completely "off the scale" on the naughtiness meter, and broke the machine.

There's a headline announcing a search for the guy, perhaps to demand an apology. Here's the news bulletin on Channel 6:

Of course this may have something to do with a finalized Python 3.0 coming out. Up to the last minute, some skeptics didn't believe he'd really go through with it and release a truly backwardly incompatible Python (wasn't "plays well with others" one of the mottoes?).

In that case, I think journalists are making a mountain out of a molehill, probably misinterpreting the action (not the first time) as of course PY3K was long in the planning, Y2K a model, and no one close to the action is actually that panicked about it.

Maybe someone should tell Santa?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Car Czar

Now there's a fun concept. You can see Detroit already starting to relish the prospect of some poor slob bureaucrat they can kick around, now that they're getting this bridge loan to a next administration, which will cave to further demands. When you own such a huge chunk of the family wage jobs market, it's easy to exert leverage.

A fun response would be to reassure the American auto workers that the Car Czar will indeed be an office in the Kremlin, and that our goal is to ensure their well being, get these crappy "CEOs" off their backs (glorified lobbyists, whiners, entitlement freaks) and provide a safety net. Whether we can rescue ugly models of car no one cares about is another matter. Probably not.

The capitulation of capitalism to some new world order, is that what we're seeing? In that case, let's dust off our science fiction writing skills and start brainstorming what's next. What shall we do with reality television, now that it's a genre? How will Alaska figure into it? Are we building a bridge to nowhere or not, I forget? And what about that energy grid? At least let's find out what's going on with superconductivity -- lot's of good journalism on that already.

As BizMo Czar, I'd like to meet with the Car Czar and compare notes. I want a lot of recyclable parts in my fleets, have them be green in the sense of enviro-friendly, downright tree huggy, in comparison to Detroit's little monsters.

In the meantime, I've been brainstorming with friends about my upcoming Chicago talk, plus some fun skits / cartoons in the tradition of Monty Python (Python's namesake). There's this "guards at the gate" motif we might go with, to help explain what goes on when we pass variables to functions or methods in computer algebra, a kind of "entrance interview".

From an email with collaborators:
Guard: Hello then, you an Integer?
Unknown: No, I'm a Duck.
Guard: A Duck!?
Unknown: Also a Snake.
Guard: A wot?
Unknown: I'm in Python, everything is a snake in Python.
Guard: Want some coffee mate? I think you must've been drinkin' a bit eh?
Unknown (to the Python-aware audience): See what I mean?
What the geek audience realizes is this must be a Java guard (note his obsession with coffee), ergo he's somewhat unfamiliar with the concept of duck typing, hence his obvious confusion.

Kids will do these on YouTube, share with their peers, another way of spreading computer savvy without bothering those poor overworked math teachers, already weighed down by their parabolas, other heavy responsibilities.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Some YouTube R&R

I'm working fiendishly on too many projects, risk burn out. What keeps me going sometimes is a good laugh, and I don't find just anything funny.

For example, sitcoms with laugh tracks tend to rub me the wrong way, as do aircraft carriers for some reason, although I understand they must have sex appeal in some circles, plus I'm a little jealous of Harry, who got to go on one.

However, Ricky Gervais on HBO was pretty hilarious the other night, and I was able to dig up this shorter version of his sketch about Humpty Dumpty, the nursery rhyme of "nighty night book" fame. I especially like the King's horses part, more drawn out on the version I saw.


Also, this revised Mary Poppins trailer, making it out to be some kind of horror flick, more gothic, more Stephen King, puts a big smile on my face. Aimee liked it too.

I've shared both on Facebook with my Quakers and others. I'm finding that to be a lively place, a good break from my heavy duty job responsibilities, which have me staring into vast vats of bubbling source code, some of it quite putrid (not saying that's bad, just it's a dirty job some days, like on Discovery Channel).


They're podcasting from Fine Grind today, just got a bulletin / reminder, gotta go soon. Feeling more refreshed.

Cleaning gutters again tomorrow, not with Matt this time though.

Yes, Michael, I want to be at your birthday party, will send email confirmation.

I hope Tara's enjoying her first debate team experience, somewhere in Clackamas County.

Hey, good news, State of Oregon paid me back $60 after I paid that traffic ticket, no contest. I should go cash it, need the dough, or maybe Congress will give me that bridge loan (joke).

My friend D.W. said he might be making it back up here. I'm in line to see his Bucky play again, get something different every time I go.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Presidential Tapes

I've been interested in the taped conversations we've been hearing lately, from past Vietnam War era administrations under Johnson and Nixon.

President Johnson seemed to have a better appreciation of his situation, in saying he'd need to be stripped of his war powers, maybe kicked out of office, before he capitulated to anti-war sentiments.

Like a typical Texan, he put troops in harms way (intentionally), then considers it his patriotic duty to protect said troops from harm come hell or high water -- a kind of begging the question as to why the troops needed to be there in the first place, especially in light of the low value North Americans tend to put on the lives of other "far away" peoples (cite General Westmoreland in Hearts and Minds, dismissing Asian attitudes towards death as "not like ours").

Buddhist students get schooled in the arts of debate, much as American children are in our better high schools. They're prepared to defend themselves in ideological and psychological games of poker. But then the Texans are always losing (because stupid?) and pulling out a gun, refusing to play fair. The rest of the nation pays dearly.

I'm glad Texas is out of power these days, don't think it should have been allowed in the Union, big mistake, look at Enron (shades of GM?).

Go Britney
! Our music millenium is off to a great start.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Teacher Resources

Elite academies involved in internationalization experiments around the XO, Pango or whatever, might enjoy Python 3.x's liberal top level identifiers policy.

Don't let the uniform Latin-1 appearance of the Standard Library scare you off.

Looking to give your students some R&R? They'll enjoy learning vector field concepts even during recess with Auditorium, not that snow fields and ice rinks can't teach the same things (remember: First Person Physics).

I showed up at Lincoln High today, met with some of the talent, brought home some paper work. I saw Saturday Academy posters, a Linux lab, lots of good quotes in the hallways, ads for a winter coat drive, notes about Oregon's hunger problem.

Having spent more hours in Cleveland and Grant, I found this visit a real eye-opener.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Minister of Education

[ reposting from Synergeo #45758, hyperlinks added ]

So as a former Minister of Education with portfolio, rotating position (might do it again), within, as ya'll know, our benign dictatorship called Python Nation, I've been marketing my rbf.py to gnu math teachers as a way to rationalize IB level vector studies around our eternal war of incommensurability aka the concentric hierarchy and its unifying dynamisms (jitterbug etc.).

rbf.py has gone through several incarnations, but the common feature is to can the core polys, lately in the form of a MySQL database, with students needing both LAMP and MVC in some approximate form (might be Ruby on Rails), in addition to computer graphics (i.e. 4D++ stuff, Eulerian topics like V+F = E+2, part of any state standard worth beans, duh).

AFAIK, my next major gig will be in Chicago where I'm doing a parallel processing demo, in the sense of two tutors running on independent threads, Steve Holden being the other clown in the room, plus we have a plant maybe, a professional mathematician with lots of background in Bucky.

Anyway, it's not like I'm planning the whole show around just the VPython piece. Mostly I'm demoing the Portland prototype curriculum of tomorrow, which takes for granted these various 20th century breakthroughs, not just Fuller's. We do RSA in the context of a few simple theorems, simple to understand and use if not prove (Fermat's Little (not Last), Euler's for Totients). The point here is not to turn junior into a cryptographer necessarily, though knowing some helps, but to open doors in group theory, number theory. Can't tackle quantum physics without that notion of small groups, permitted operations amidst conservation laws. I'm sure that's what Bucky was talking about, in terms of his spun systems being likewise permutations with lots of suggestive angles.

Also on tap: some Fractals with PIL for after the break, drawing against my signature 4D Solutions collection.

In Synergetics news, Koski is barreling ahead with those Baer Cell studies, bringing the enneacontahedron into better focus as the last in a sequence of convex blobs, each dissectable into Baers in very definite ways. Those of us who prefer definite / finite in place of open ended and infinite, are having a field day. More in my blogs.

Kirby

PS: here's the write-up for my Saturday Academy course in the spring. If you live in a city with nothing like SA:, maybe study the website and get some friends together. Students really flock to this kind of programming, know it's very good for their futures.

Computer Animation Programming

Supercharge your programming skills as
you learn the software Star Wars
animators, Google engineers, and
game designers use to make their
projects a success!

You will develop your Python skills
using simple vector-based geometry
in an object-oriented approach.
You'll get hands-on experience with
POV-Ray, a full-featured ray tracer
that can create stunning photo-
realistic computer-generated images
and animations and experiment
in VPython, a real-time game-like
environment.

Other topics include data structures,
classes and objects, control statements,
and reading and writing files.

Coyote Moon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Enneacontahedron


Enneacontahedron
Originally uploaded by thekirbster.
Dave Koski is juggling those Baer cells again, getting cool enneacontahedron dissections. You'll find related reading at George Hart's web sites, also mine, Russell Towle's.

The five Baer cells, all zonohedra constructible with Zome, amalgamate sequentially as convex polyhedra, out to the enneacontahedron.

Dave is noticing the surface : total facet ratios apparently traverse the sequence 1:1, 1:2... 1:8, e.g. the five ways to build a hexahedron involve solo Baer cells, so 1:1, whereas dodecahedra might be assembled seven ways, always from 4 cells (4*6 = 24 facets, 12 on the surface, 12:24 = 1:2 and so on).

Additionally, eight icosahedra, seven rhombic triacontahedra, five with 42 faces, 2 with 56 faces, one with 72 faces, and a final enneacontahedron of 90 faces (the proverbial partridge in a pear tree), all fit into this simple, rational rubric.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Ducky in Old Town

Pirate Lore
:: Dave's reading material ::

Pirate Tryals
:: excerpt ::

Friendly Staff
:: friendly crew ::

iPhone shots by DF

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Geeking Out

Trevor Blake is updating one of his articles, on how to build a 5/8ths geodesic dome out of 105 paper triangles, using just three distinct edge lengths and two kinds of triangles, a P type and an H type.

The Domebuilder's Handbook by John Prenis (1973) was influential, specifically the information on page 94 for building a 3-frequency icosahedrally based alternate, although we may differ in nomenclature, as I go with Classes I, II and III (what I learned down on the farm, as we say).

Anyway, I started with an rbf.Icosa object and scaled it by 1/radius for a radius of 1, meaning each of its E = 30 edges is slightly longer than 1. (V = 12, F = 20).

For center C, I added three vectors from the same triangle (X1, U1, Q1), and divided by 3, the resultant vector being said mid-point, at the intersection of perpendicular bisectors through each edge and opposite angle.

For other points I used scale factors of 1/3 along these same edges, did some vector subtraction and addition. These points then needed to be pushed out to touch the unit radius sphere, again by using radius reciprocals.

The resulting vectors were sufficient to check edge lengths and angles in the handbook. I'll do the open source thing and link to some code (my inhouse rbf.py is a little different, sorry).

We did all this in Fine Grind, me using my Ubuntu Dell and Trevor occasionally snapping photos and wifiing them to me. Later, I posted more about our process to the Math Forum, with a link back to this post for more details, in case other design teams want to practice their paces.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teaching Tools

plastic, for piano students

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yakking about TV

From Synergeo this morning, me replying to Alan.

Re: Scan Man on NUMB3RS

> Did you happen to catch that Scan Man episode
> on NUMB3RS?
> http://www.cbs.com/primetime/numb3rs/recaps/505/
> By the way, the fictitious name Union Parcel Express
> (UPE) was inspired by United Parcel Service (UPS).

I tend to avoid that show as it pisses me off too much, what with that Olympian know-it-all, giving every nerd false impressions of what it might be possible to be, and then some, feeding unrealistic ideas of the future. Of course it's great to know a lot of math and apply it, but how many guys like the guy in that show do you really think live outside some screenwriters' fertile imagination. At least with 'Buffy', you know it's fiction.

My cousin Mary was in ER @ Chicago General when the writers for that show came by with the intent to maybe stay awhile, get in the mood, take some of that back to their writing. The docs were thrilled, ordered lots of pizza. The writers stayed for a rather short time, lost their appetites, didn't return the next day. 'ER' the TV show is fiction as well.

People spoon feed themselves these worlds that don't exist, then can't understand why reality is not just like what they see on their televisions. Duh.

Hey, I'm not saying the average adult doesn't know the difference between reality and make-believe, but I think some of the more vulnerable, with a tenuous hold on "what's so" to begin with, are done a disservice by being placed in front of the TV and told to amuse themselves in that way.

OK, so maybe the History Channel and Discovery Channel have merit (love 'Myth Busters'), but so many kids get hooked on these highly fictional doctor, lawyer, and cop shows (NUMB3RS is basically one of the latter, a cop show, the odd-ball genius and/or psychic a standard role in that genre) that purport to be about the world in which we live (have that docu-drama and/or contemporary realism flair), whereas they're no more about the "real" FBI (or CIA or whatever) than 'X-Files' or 'American Dad' (both shows I like).

Kirby

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Town Meeting

So this proved to be an interesting meeting, though perhaps a bit rarefied for teenagers, unless a budding Italian Renaissance intellectual type, which some are. Tara sat it out on the sidelines, after we saw Lionel Wolberger (of Synergeo) off on a safe journey home (he was visiting Portland on business).

Trevor and I, classified as full-blown Fuller freaks in some circles, kept our traps shut, as we've both heard ourselves speak, including in front of rapt audiences. I did manage to snap Trevor's picture on stage though, in a day of close-violations with my camera (I got stopped by a Powell's security officer shooting a book cover, which book I later bought (but hadn't yet -- had other lawyerly opinions about owning the rights to my own visual field, which I wisely abbreviated)). Lionel stocked up on comix (manga, etc.).

Back to the town meeting: very earnest and bona fide attempts to connect everyday Portland-minded themes with Fuller's rather esoteric namespace, as handsomely captured in this D.W. Jacob's screenplay (thinking televison), as performed by Doug Tompos. If Spano ever did a recording, I'd like to see that sometime, plus Ron's again. In the meantime, I've learned a lot about "Bucky puppets" from Trevor (he's learning the story through his Synchronofile), Westinghouse a sponsor (all way before my time mind you).

The panelists were pretty much in agreement that Bucky's focus on technology was at the expense of ignoring human nature, and therefore too narrow. Some guy in the back mentioned "artifacts" as sounding more anthropological (me noting the name of the fashion store across the street). There was some agreement, developed through improv, on the word "signals," as in free markets sending and receiving, through price information, weighted with whatever externalities.

Portlanders are intelligent, literate people in settings like this, conduct themselves appropriately and with self-mastery. I enjoyed the vibe and would gladly attend future such meetings, with the same panelists, rotating, whatever. I'd probably drink more coffee first though, as I was experiencing the consequences of arising early that morning, having had a full day, shades of Vilnius.

Good job Tim DuRoche of PCS for setting this up, an unexpected surprise, impactful, and a great bridge between theater world and the rest of it, in alignment with the building's stated function and purpose. Lots of professionalism in Portland. I consider us blessed.

Had I opened my mouth, I'd have said something about wanting detailed exhibits @ OMSI about how the different water systems interplay, like Bull Run's and Nehalem's. Let's not just talk about resources in the abstract. Those LCDs (like the ones in the theater) need to be data rich, not data poor, pumping out relevant global data 24/7, about infrastructure, about glitches (not just traffic snarls)).

That's the classism I care about (access to relevant info), consider us all relatively impoverished outsiders, compared to what it could and should be like, were World Game taken more seriously (spoken like a true, die-hard buckaneer, I realize).

What especially intrigued me about this discussion is no one really took issue with Fuller's premise that we have, at least in principle, the wherewithal to enable peoples' enjoyment of higher living standards, by continuing to do more with less.

Deficiencies in human nature were seen as putting a brake on that happening, with better education our best means for addressing these shortcomings. This view marks a shift in outlook perhaps, as not so long ago people were more doubtful that we had the requisite know-how and resources even in principle.

Why don't we teach kids how to cook anymore? High schools gave up on Home Economics almost two generations ago. Although Tara didn't attend this meeting, she agreed this question was important, cooked a meal the very next day, following a recipe.

From separate occasions: Interviews w/ Allegra Fuller Snyder & D.W. Jacobs (Portland Center Stage):







Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fall Market

Visage

Skull Candle

Mohava Marie Niemi

Enduring

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Smiley Guy

Hey, It's OK
photo by Jody Francis
owner, Fine Grind
(framed face by FSphotographers)

The story on the martian character tie comes from my International School days, when a local high powered exec decided he'd like a photo op, of him supporting some Model UN, good news in the papers.

Non-obvious in this picture: my NATO surplus winter trousers, part of my Santa Fe look.

So we're sitting around the library, a bunch of us cliquey high schoolers yakking up a storm, brainstorming whom to send from each country (he's requested a multi-national cast), when Josh Hoyt -- his dad this cool cultural attache with the embassy -- says "let's send Kirby, he's from Mars" (laughter). That seemed to stick, and he (I) was "the Martian" from then on.

But there's more to this story.

Once we bussed to the venue, a big auditorium with a UN-like vibe, they sat us down for a photo op, me behind the USA flag with my team (Stuart Min?), incognito in my true role as ET.

We went around by the script, making pretty speeches, until we got to me.

"Hey" said I, "we're all friends back in high school, not divided, not conquered, by this nation-state concept, let's unite without the flags!" (paraphrasing).

Instead of banging my shoe, I laid the flag to one side, suggesting others do the same, which they did, quite willingly I might add -- a victory for school spirit!

But there's more, getting hazy at this point, my moment of glory having passed...

We must have gone ahead with that photo op right? I mean, this high powered exec wasn't about to get gypped (railroaded) out of his positive press coverage by the likes of "lonesome cowboy" here, the show must go on.

Still, I thought we had a some real fun in the sun that day.

vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wild America

Wild Beauty
a Portland youth
photo by K. Urner

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Will Hunting

No, not the movie, talking about brands seeking loyal customers, say in the coffee shop business.

The name of the game is "steering through consumption", giving customers the privilege of voting with dollars, meaning we've earmarked some of the goodies with cause-related info, tagged 'em with tokens somehow (probably in software).

Say when you buy a chocolate bar from some (Quaker?) company, an LCD shows positive changes vis-a-vis the advertised beneficiaries, the retailer remitting sales info in exchange for a discount (a mutually beneficial trade). Buy this scone, help a kid in Zimbabwe; Newman's Own (brand) pioneering in this regard.

Such microtransactions do add up, but are counterproductive to track manually, too much nickle and diming, which is where open source software enters the picture. A back office profile will store the fund accounting tables in SQL engines, such that beneficiaries have a way of checking their balances, perhaps through a bank.

Shops will differentiate within zip code according to customer demographics, i.e. in some necks of the woods, a beef jerky purchase might net a few dimes to the NRA. That doesn't sound much like Portland though, a test market for these concepts, as well as LA?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cosmic Tourist

Il Purgatorio
Paul Loffoley's 1975 rendition of Purgatory per Dante's Divine Comedy.

"But do they allow iPods?"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Geek Esoterica


with thanks to Aimeé

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Diplomacy R Us

After an enjoyable session with Patrick @ Angelo's on Hawthorne, I meandered back on Lincoln, crossing 39th by Fine Grind, to continue telecommunications with Ian.

Earlier, walking Sarah with Glenn, I noticed Madeline Albright's name on the Bagdad marquee and resolved to attend. For those who don't know everything, she was Secretary of State pre Colin Powell who was pre Condaleeza Rice.

Well, what I didn't know was this event had been sold out for two weeks, at $25 or so per ticket. That explains the well-dressed crowd, probably Methodists from like Lake Oswego, some of them, liberal in that well-to-do sense.

The talent hadn't arrived yet as I wandered back to the ranch, somewhat disappointed. I'd read some of Madeline's thinking in an airline mag, good analogies with billiards, proves she knows at least something about world game playing. Both Glenn and Patrick had good things to say about her.

The police, with bicycles, were awaiting the motorcade or SUV or whatever, making sure theater goers obeyed, as in "too bad if that seemed like a lucky parking spot, you're facing the wrong way lady."

Hey, there's an Airship Ventures zeppelin on CBS News just now (Trevor would like that)!

It's seventy years later and these still look like a promising technology.

Maybe we'll deliver some 4D Towers with 'em, just for grins.

G'night Katie (I'm a Facebook fan).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bureaucratic Delays

Yesterday's news:
Despite his stated desire to close the American prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, President Bush has decided not to do so, and never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials. ( Steven Lee Myers, NYT, 20 October 2008)
Of course one always has the option to disbelieve such senior administrators, known throughout the world for their ability to misinform.

However, I'd be the first to admit to some radical thinking coming out of the Pentagon, too scary for workaday civil service types to wanna have to deal with.
But Mr. Bush adopted the view of his most hawkish advisers that closing Guant√°namo would involve too many legal and political risks to be acceptable, now or any time soon, the officials said.
The down side of being president is everyone gets to speak for you, once named to the team.

People come out of the woodwork, "serving the president", sometimes with the most amazingly twisted views (thinking of G. Gordon Liddy, other yes men).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Opening Night

Given my apparent gluttony for BBQ, in this namespace a colloquialism for all things buckaneer, I was more than pleased to get D. W. Jacobs' expansive welcome to his show on opening night, this on top of having had breakfast with Allegra the very same morning. What an action packed day this has been!

My only comment as play critic this evening was that I noticed the projected labyrinth when Bucky's dad dies. I noticed it last time too.

I was also grateful for the opportunity to sample the energetic Darla Cash, resident of the big island in Hawaii (check the program, she's strongly into set design). She and I drove around downtown looking for the right bank, exchanging esoterica, so she could cash a certain check to buy celebratory chocolates.

I was able to bring Trevor and Glenn, in addition to Tara and Carol. Having given Allegra copies of Trevor's books this morning, I was happy to see them actually meet and start talking.

My special thank you to Doug Tompos, the star, for really putting so much of himself into this challenging role. Having such an intelligent multi-media approach really helps, but at the end of the day those are just props, literally.

I'm glad you could join us for dinner at The Bagdad that time, my daughter is appreciative of you're being in that episode of Angel, makes her dad seem cooler that we'd travel in overlapping social circles.

I heard many appreciative comments from others in the audience, but will let the Portland based press share for awhile (I've had my turn).

I'll be back in to watch again though, looking forward.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PPUG 2008.10.14


I'm here at CubeSpace learning about the newest Pythons. Jason has a green console for 2.6 and a scarier red one for 3.0, the backwardly incompatible one (scream!). Right now, we're getting a demo of the new fractions module, way cool.

Jason kicked off the evening with attrgetter, one of his favorite microfeatures. He's right, it's nifty and cute.

My lightning talk
was sponsored by Fine Grind Productions, a new mathcasting brand I'm marketing, in association with a neighborhood coffee shop looking into the open source subculture as a possible source of future bookkeeping tools, ala my Wild West high definition visualization libraries.

Sometime in the future, when you buy that Cup o' Jo, you'll see where your pennies go, some percent to Mercy Corps, some percent to AFSC or whatever (depends on the shop).

I'm spoofing the apocalyptic mindset, ala Y2K, suggesting we write a PEP for a new snake dance called The Writhe. I suppose this is one of those "you had to be there" jokes. My audience seemed receptive. Watch YouTube for examples.

Now we're looking at a talk about multiprocessing (import Process), thanks to Adam.

Google's Blogger is down at the moment, inconvenient but I'll live. I hope Jody isn't bored out of her mind (I'm sure she is, I didn't mention it was OK to use a laptop while others are presenting -- considered rude in other subcultures but not in geekdom).

She'd never seen CubeSpace before, so maybe this was worth her time, hope so.

I should have used this blog entry in my slides, instead of the one I did, as the I Ching module I wrote works in earlier Pythons (talking about Unicode).

The open source coffee shop project has merit, maybe we'll take it somewhere. Glitzy LCDs are a part of the plan, though they could be subtle, low key, depending on existing theme and decor.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Attending Esozone

I'll be getting back to more writing about these talks, didn't make it to all of them, having a lot on my plate. However I wanted to register my gratitude to both Paul Laffoley and the Angel Tech guy, for feeding me lots of intelligible and useful information about many topics of mutual interest. You guys rock.

D.W. Jacobs invited me to the rehearsal tonight, and I'm grateful for that. Sorry to be missing Allegra this time. We're moving right along here in Portland, looking to have a say in the future, along with sister cities around the globe, other networks.

I was just repeating to mom, Paul's story about Lovecraft, seeking out this painter and following him back to his digs, the velvet curtained tableau he made to memorialize this story. And of course we got the Gaudi tower at ground zero NYC, reminiscent of Fuller's Geoscope in the East River, near the UN, in the sense that even just the idea has healing potential.

I finished my evening back at Mother Ship (what I'm somewhat jokingly calling our UFO on Stark Street), joining teens in viewing a DVD using mom's Vaio laptop hooked up to the Meeting's projector, Andy's speakers.

I was glad Glenn Stockton could join me for the Laffoley talk. Having another witness helps me sound like less of a liar when I tell the truth about this guy, a great artist.

Thank you DemocracyLab for mailing the requested merchandise, I will be gladly paying that invoice shortly.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Studious Nation

Some of you following these blogs will recognize this blend of coffee shops and philosophy, not my invention, more like from Paris, post WWI, a matrix for existentialism, experiments in modern art, other pioneering. France became like a Mecca for a lost generation, or something like that.

Nowadays, we're looking at lots of job changing, career switching, people eager for new training, to get with some new program, perhaps with overseas dimensions, definitely socially responsible in many cases. But sometimes the skills needed are pretty high, like doctor level, other manager types, with a need for internships, apprenticeships, guild certifications of various kinds.

Portland is known for its many world class cooking schools, with chefs in the making building strong resumes based on real experience. As a result, we have many good restaurants in this town, more than many other cities of a similar size. You can't learn to be a great chef just by watching Julia Child on Youtube, although that's certainly a fun component. You need hands on experience, likewise with other jobs. It's not all about staring at your laptop, a kind of navel gazing in some circles.

That being said, there are many walks of life in which intensive reading, like book learning, goes with the territory. In those cases, coffee shops with free wifi come in handy, especially if there're other food options.

Coffee shop managers have their own relevant skill set, which includes finding a right balance between customer turnover and/or outlay for offerings, versus getting those steady students who maybe get lost in Safari (an O'Reilly campus), yet help bring the right buzz and conversation into focus, plus you need wall art, LCD ads, maybe a full bar if doing like Nirel's gig ala Schroedinger's Cat.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pythonic Math


:: britney ::

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Map Quest

:: map store ::
Pursuant to my curriculum writing agenda, I took off on foot in search of a Fuller Projection this morning, passing Bagdad Theater, an art car, religious and eating establishments, e.g. Burgerville.

I found both a tubular and framed version at Pittmon Map and Travel Store, next to Lucky Lab.

I walked home, grabbed Razz, and went back for the framed copy, stopping by Lucky Lab for lunch, and the vet's for some specialized cat food.

While walking home, I was stopped by a Mercy Corps person with a clipboard and I started gabbing about this map, how it's so hard to find in some USA cities.

"They just won't tell you about this map in school," I mentioned, "very Stalinist." "I feel sorry for all the oppressed people here" I continued. She gave me a funny look.

Yep, you meet all kinds of weird clowns on Hawthorne.

This Flickr scenario tells the story in pictures.

:: art car ::

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wanderers 2008.9.30

The Four Horses of the Apocalypse
by Sharlene Lindskog-Osorio


Duane Ray is presenting about Creationism versus Intelligent Design versus Science, projecting slides he's put a lot of work into.

Duane started his talk by claiming the Quaker's George Fox College is "a creationist college" although not militantly so.

He's not talking about cults per se (he gave some examples of what he's not talking about, including some disturbing pictures), but more about mainline American religious people who consider the Bible a literal account of creation.

Bishop James Ussher
(1581 - 1656) gets a lot of credit for fixing the start of Planet Earth at October 23, 4004 BCE (a Saturday evening). Dr. Henry Morris (1918 - 2006) is also an influential thinker. Ken Ham from Australia is another articulate spokesman for creationism. Tim LaHaye (Revelation Unveiled) and Jerry B. Jenkins (Left Behind stories) are likewise contemporary popularizers of these born again views.

Bucky dome! (one of the slides -- about 620K year old ice cores).

Duane started down the "born again" path at age 15, then swerved into science (the way he sees it). He still has a lot of respect for the vibrancy and slick PR used by many creationists, which he considers effective, even though he isn't buying any of it, studies their materials to better his own counter-intelligence.

Duane took us through a complicated end times scenario, re the antichrist, horsemen of the apocalypse, seven trumpets, seven bowls, the thousand year reign of Christ etc. Creationism is in a lot of ways about ethics, using the raw material of empirical field data as grist for its mill, giving a cosmological basis for decrying homosexuality, other Wild West lawlessness.

Duane's discussion of how evolution operates was not specifically about humans and their intelligent / cultural methods for adapting quickly. That isn't the focus of Darwinism to begin with. Genes are not memes.

I'm not sure what Duane would say about Stuart Kauffman's rap, which sounds somewhat like Terry's.

I didn't say much during Duane's talk, other than to stick up for the rights of those picturesque old time Mormons and ethnic diversity. Other Wanderers helped Duane fix a couple typos in his slides.

Good seeing Dick Pugh again.

:: apocalypse now ::
(aftermath, Hurricane Ike)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quaker Curriculum

Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks
I joined Children's Program 101 at Multnomah this afternoon, run by the head teachers, to learn about the yearly cycle. I introduced myself as "a spy from Bridge City" but of course a lot of folks knew me already and welcomed me as one of their own.

Given October marks a transition from a focus on Quaker testimonies to adjacent traditions in November, I suggested emphasizing Halloween as one of those bridge holidays connecting us to partially overlapping calendars (the Celtic cycle was already mentioned on the handout).

A field trip the The Gold Door off Hawthorne (near Oasis) might be in order? Tibet Spirit would be another good one, and of course The Dollar Scholar across the street (thinking of stocking stuffers).

Friends also seemed receptive to the idea of a field trip to The Grotto closer to Christmas, using the manger scene and Peaceable Kingdom as our bridge to the animal world (the Festival of Lights includes a petting corral). I also mentioned a certain python I knew, that could maybe visit the classroom sometime -- or we could visit the Rose City Reptiles on Division maybe?

I also received permission to replace one of three world projections already on display in one of the classrooms, with a more apolitical Fuller Projection.

I spent most of social hour talking AFSC liaison business with Multnomah's next prospective for that role, plus again met up with the young Pennsylvania crew newly moved to our neighborhood, hyping the nearby Barley Mill as a good place to have beers.

Good seeing Pan's Zoe again, now a student at Lewis & Clark.