Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back Stage


I'm both juggling clients and hammering on my resume. I get comfortable in my ways then tap into a c.v. like this guy's -- when doing a search on Flextegrity through bingapi, a clever piece of Python, with matching bossapi -- what a gem. Sam knows him. I've not met him (yet).

Sometimes I sound kind of churchy, I realize that, almost pastoral. Like the other night I was looking at the above poster, understanding about the frat house connotations (college letters), yet wanting to give a lightning talk on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in well under five minutes. He postulated a God drawing us into the future, a new kind of gravity (or not). Omega was the symbol he branded with, a good choice given it's the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha being the first.

People are being kind to me. Sam responded positively to my Quakerly notions about philanthropic gaming. My casinos energize worthy causes, letting consumers channel a vendor payload, that good will piece of the profit, above and beyond shareholder reward. Patrick said my Python was zen like, which cheers me up with thoughts of sushi, other Japanese goods. That's my Pacific Rim heritage showing through. Outside, a blanket of snow.

Avatar is more under discussion. Combine that with Wall-e and you've got some great social commentary. Add Idiocracy and Over the Hedge, with a dash of Team America, and you're probably a Professor Noosphere already, with a diploma in Gaian affairs (don't forget to write your own movie reviews, why not). Then add American Pop and American Dad.

Of course not every film nut craves the strictly commercial route. Documentaries and talking heads are more the diet around here (mostly vegan as well), ever since we killed our television (or went asynchronous, as they say).

We killed the land line (POTS), though we're keeping a ghostly DSL going, would bump it up were the stars to align. I moved grunch.net as a consequence, also have wwwanderers.org to my name, but with no keys to the castle (locked out of the content). We'll repoint maybe, or recruit a buyer. I started a thread on the Wanderers list so we might share some groupthink about it.

As we're a fairly gray group, aging boomers and beyond, we'd likely be in torch passing mode on this one. That's an impetus behind these musical events in support of worthy causes. People are more likely to turn out if they know their donation is toward some greater good, with measurable and verifiable positive consequences presented in an organized manner.

Anyway, per whois, I'm the technical contact, registered through Godaddy. Get in touch if you have questions about wwwanderers.org (the website is frozen in time, scrolls some fun pictures if your browser is up to it).

The Internet gives musicians different ways to do outreach and take in. This Liberty Hall production will span quite a few hours, and so, like Burn Out, will have a word of mouth window. The real time aspects of social networking kick in when you have enough time to think and make some kind of plan. A lot of Portlanders have never heard of this place, not far from Way Post.

Speaking of local area musicians, I'm thinking about The Good Bye Party. The last time I saw Laura Cooper was at Hungry Tiger Too. Trailblazers were on TV in the other room. Even Pete Seeger mighta just had Joan Baez for a listener.

But Lindsey Walker Productions is doing open source music, so the venue becomes a recording studio, sometimes a good one, as the sound effects are not faked. That's the real ambient sound, coffee shop hubbub, candid banter and dialog. Even Quakers make noise.

Nick Consoletti wanted me to consider this article relating stress, metabolism and IQ. Buckminster Fuller goes by as a reader of W. J. Sidi's writings.

David Koski was stressing out about some apparently badly rendered amino acids, then stumbled upon zwitterions, a different way of doing the hydrogen... anyway, I'm struggling to keep up.

Sam is into amino acids as well, likes this spherical encoding of information. Maybe David will explain it to me?

I'll end with a listing of my speaking engagements, as I think they're worth sharing. Here I'm cutting and pasting from Microsoft Word into IDLE, just to be arty (and not always churchy).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Scholarly Christmas

Although our Xmas was subdued this year, skipped in some ways (in terms of doing much commercial stuff), Tara and I were happy to join with Quakers at Janet's for a generous feast.

Janet has the "Quaker guts" poster in a more recent edition, and in much better condition than mine, battle scared from Dan Stutesman's office (exAFSC).

Rachael, in college, spoke about ethnic identity as reflected in language, focusing on Italy and Japan. She discussed the mix of dialects, standard Italian, and English, changing patterns and roles. Japan's absorption of Chinese characters, but with different meanings, had nationalist elements.

MT and I discussed how post WWII propaganda, including Rocky and His Friends (a precursor to Rocky and Bullwinkle), seemed to deliberately confuse Russians with Nazis. Former allies (Russians) were to become enemies (Communists). Per Wikipedia:
Although Pottsylvania's chief spies are given ersatz Russian accents, Fearless Leader's accent seems more in keeping with the German stereotype. In fact, his sharply-angled features were taken directly from an anti-Nazi propaganda poster that had circulated during World War II.
Going into WWIII (see below) the OSS liked Ho Chi Minh (read Prouty or Our Ho for more info). Quiet American Gen. Ed Lansdale was more a Diem guy.

After we got home (bus 75) I stopped by the Lotts and learned more about Jimmy's maternal great grand dad, one Harvey J. Sconce. He was deemed "best farmer in Illinois" in some post-WWI milieu.

An official delegate to the agricultural conference in Rome, he provided detailed analysis in favor of exporting North America's food surplus on credit. He proposed using the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes for transport, to keep mid-western food sources competitive.

I then built a rare fire in the fireplace and Tara read out loud Roger Zelazny's Way Up High about a girl who befriends and rides a pterodactyl, gets lots of overview. This and Here There Be Dragons came as a boxed set, a gift from Laura Creighton in Gothenberg.

The night's video marathon began with Paragraph 175, an award winning documentary about the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the resulting campaign of terror against homosexuals (males in particular).

As Christians and German citizens, they were mostly spared the gas chambers, but about 2/3rds perished in the camps, as slave laborers, victims of atrocities, objects of medical experiments. A few still living tell their stories.

We also watched some Laughing Horse videos about Iran-Contra, the invasion and cover up of war crimes in Panama, the sanctions against Iraq pre occupation, other attacks on mostly defenseless civilians by overwhelming force, with weapons in need of field testing.

Ralph McGeehee (exCIA), John Stockwell (exCIA), Rear Admiral Eugene Carrol (Ret.), Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, other patriots, fight the deep mental illness we Jungians call the military-industrial complex. As a latter day boomer, I've had the good fortune to meet some of these people over the years.

Tara took in a lot of history. Most high schools won't show any of these films (or assign Grunch of Giants, over 25 years old, still timely). As a speech and debater though, she's supposed to be looking at economic sanctions as a tool of foreign policy. Is depriving people access to medical supplies a good way to go? For doctors without borders, this is never an option, ditto AFSC.

Speaking of exCIA, at our last lunch meeting on Flextegrity, Sam Lanahan seemed unaware this'd been Ed's career as well (another ex when I met him, as was his wife June). Sam didn't seem surprised though, was immersed in that subculture as a kid back in the day (I'm forgetting why at the moment).

The Edgar I'm referring to is of course the late E.J. Applewhite, collaborator with Fuller on Synergetics and author of Cosmic Fishing, Washington Itself and Paradise Mislaid.

So was Fuller a cold warrior? In Critical Path he writes of WWIII (world war three), as does John Stockton. Striving to keep this world war from going thermonuclear (as WWII did) is one meaning of keeping it cold. Colder is better in this scenario, as in not cold enough.

I'll be taking some Flextegrity to our private undercover party tomorrow, maybe get some reactions for the audio track (we're not doing much video yet, except that one time, though I do tend to share stills). We might have some kids again. I'll be taking my Fuller Projection as well.

Ed
took me to the Cosmos Club on DuPont Circle that time, showed me a framed acknowledgment of Paradise Mislaid on one of the walls, pointing out its proximity to a picture of Mark Twain, another one of my heroes, in part for his strong stance against imperialism in the Philippines (prefiguring Vietnam in some ways). Ed loved his country, was also Fuller's first teenage fan (Fuller called him Sonny).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Avatar (movie review)

U.S. Army versus Native Americans ("shock and awe") with allusions to Cameron's other films (Sigourney Weaver).

Teachings in empathy: the hero goes back and forth between the warring camps, drawn by the two sides of his nature. Both subcultures have their integrity, except the first one (the sky people) are coming from a dying world (one they killed), are in search of unobtainium.

Of interest was the national guard recruiting commercial in the front matter. Taking leadership roles, demonstrating mastery over technology, demonstrating courage, assisting people in need, these are values shared across the political spectrum.

Quality national guard logistics in America, assisting Americans in need, could be a good thing, unless we're talking about prisons, herding people into camps. Allowing them to get deployed overseas on the other hand, along with other strongest and bravest, might result in a story line more like the main feature's.

What does serving one's country really mean? That's actually a real question, not just for other people to think about.

Back to the main feature: the warrior protagonist soon surpasses his indigenous teachers in a few special skills (rides the red one), becomes a leader, wins (loses, wins again) the love of the chief's daughter. Shades of Tarzan, Pocahontas etc.

Congratulations to WETA of New Zealand (King Kong, Lord of the Rings) for creating a fantastic computer-generated 3D world.

My thanks to the Lott family for inviting Tara and myself to this 3D movie, buying us tickets.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Solstice Party

This is one of those grand finale type events with characters from all previous chapters making an appearance, taking a bow. I'm privileged to be among this crowd. Lew Frederick is a legislator now.

I descended upon this gray flock having departed Red & Black after Lindsey's set. A packed house of young people, me more the token boomer, tap tapping away without wifi, writing something for the Wittgenstein list.

Terry said I'm supposed to look over some tax thing. I'm no Dawn Wicca though, won't make head or tail. Where's the new API? We need new from-scratch versions of NGO, crafted for a computer age. Could ISEPP be a prototype. 4D?

Jon Bunce played a great gig, with Tina, orchestra quality. Don sang us a number too, strong and in tune. I'll remember this fondly. I don't have much expectation it'll happen again like this. We've had a great run.

Happy Solstice.

We do have a yule tree lit, plastic. Cooked lentils today. I'll let ya get back to it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hammering on Synergetics

--- In synergeo@yahoogroups.com, "John Brawley" wrote:

<<>>

> > It's an alliance with XYZ that we're forming,
> > I think that's what you'll find. There's no
> > either/or, and both together is going to
> > take us further than either alone. That's
> > Synergetics for ya!
>
> That'd be the best of all worlds. Good luck to ya'.
> Be sure to hide your roaches.
>

OK, funny response.

Let's make this easier and just work with a triangle.

Here's an equilateral triangle, call it empty.

A turtle at the lower left corner is going to climb along an edge, up towards the apex, call it climbing the mountain.

As the turtle moves up the mountain, a ray from said turtle to the opposite base vertex is drawn. The slope of this ray increases as the turtle climbs to the apex.

The area under the sloping ray is colored red.

Question: is the linear motion of the turtle paired with an areal change that reflects the phenomenon A x B? Answer: Yes.

By that I mean: the conventional picture of a line going across a square, showing a larger and larger rectangle (becoming a square), matches a sweeping motion causing the angle between two rays to widen, as the gap between their tips grows to complete an equiangular triangle. Either model is adequate for showing A x B, but the triangle does so with fewer edges.

Consider said equilateral triangle to be 100 x 100. If you crosshatch with 3 sets of parallel lines (multiplication by division), you get the right number of little triangles (10000).

As the turtle climbs the mountain, the right number of little triangles turn red (picture pixels). Maybe increase the resolution? Make it all smooth.

So this is a picture of T x B, where T is Turtle position up the mountain and B is Base. Say B = 100. Then if T is 43, we're saying the red triangle of 43 x 100 has just the right area, in triangular units. Could we vary B as well as T? Sure.

This whole thought experiment works again with the tetrahedron, add another turtle, so the important thing to realize is we have a model of A x B x C. They (the three edges) don't have to be the same length. The answers come out the same. The numbers don't change. It's the visualization that changes, leaving the numbers alone.

This is a freedom we choose to exercise without breaking any rules. The use of a square and cube is by convention. Triangles and tetrahedra have a lot going for 'em. "Teach the controversy"(threw that in just to irk ya). Once you're acculturated, then you have all these other whole number volumes to be excited about, as you visit our core sculpture (middle of the castle atrium, right this way folks, watch your step and watch out for treacherous qyoobists, insecure about others visiting here).

The idea of a conversion constant is somewhat by convention. One makes choices. Bucky is saying to the cube guy: what you call 2, I call 1. There's this unity-2 thing going on, where he deliberately does that. Your two radii are my 1 diameter, so my 1 x 1 x 1 = 1 model is a regular tetrahedron, but from your point of view, given these are radii, 2 long, it's like 2 x 2 x 2, except that you, being a Cartesian, fixate on three cube orthogonals and inter-multiply those, so sqrt(2) x sqrt(2) x sqrt(2) where we're seeing 3. His way of doing this gives us a modestly close-to-one constant. I'm not saying one couldn't conceive of it differently. There's a utilitarian aspect to his design.

[ Now you come along and choose a camp, but don't like the pronouns. "You sir, say I should want two, but I want a one, Coke better than Pepsi". So you're not playing a straight Cartesian the way Bucky would. What can we do about it? Nothing. What should we do about it? Just let the cameras roll. ]

Anyway, my point is squares and cubes really aren't as economical, when it comes to modeling A x B and A x B x C. Our civilization could have taken a different turn, and it's not too late to imagine the ETs enjoying this other way of thinking, even if we find it alien.

You can always think of A x B x C as red water in the regular tetrahedron, partially filling it (A, B and C are up to and including the entire edge of what begins as an empty "cup"). As you tilt the thing, the water line changes. The total volume stays the same. If you point it straight down, the water level will be even along all three edges so read off the 3rd root of your original product A x B x C. Like if you had 3 x 2 x 5 for 30 inside a 1000 volume total (10 every edge), and tilt it, you could have 3rd root of 30 at the bottom of your cup, a little more than 3 (a tick mark on 3 edges radiating from a common apex).

Why say "cube root" in the caption? All our angles are 60 degrees (Cheese Tetrahedron scenario).

1 x 3 x 10 would be another way to tilt it, different read-outs (1 x 3 footprint, fourth point at the apex -- same volume still).

Think of Synergetics as a standalone ride at the amusement park. It's from Mars, from the future, and there's no way you could live on it 24/7, especially if you're an old fart or boomer. You ride it, are amazed, and go back to what you were doing. Such is Synergetics, a place to visit. Now, some people, such as myself, have spent more time in that arena. But I'm not denying myself access to all the math I knew before, am still learning, will learn. I'm not steam rolling myself. I like my conventional math as much as the next guy, am a product of my century (the last one).

Synergetics is like hot sauce. Use sparingly. But use it, as it definitely has some of the right stuff. We could use a lot more of it in this day and age. We'll tell kids it's a different sandcastle. We'll show how internally consistent it is, give 'em a whirl wind tour. That's what the gypsies will do, or the Martians or whatever. Call it "being abducted" if you like, but it's not that melodramatic. You go back to whatever you were doing, but find yourself somehow thinking more like a Martian. Call it brainwashing, or call it getting your money's worth.

I always feel smarter in Windows (XYZ) when I work in Linux for awhile, like working out at the gym (IVM). Martian Math might contain our usual XYZ vectors, trig, some Coxeter type polytopes. We could talk about some different meanings of 4D. Philosophy for Children is not a bad idea. We have namespaces, even in math. It's not monolithic. We have different ethnicities. In this case, we're forming an alliance, between IVM and XYZ mathematicians, so that both will come out stronger, have more clout in the classroom, thanks to a more relevant curriculum.

Kirby

PS: thinking back
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltrop

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hanukkah 2009


:: hanukkah 2009 ::

We enjoyed friendly times, my two daughters and I, with Laurie and Terry and friends. We're planning to skip Xmas this year. Xmas is a commercial holiday and we're not doing much commerce these days.

I gave out Flextegrity pods as gifts, which were a big hit.

On Synergeo I've been ranting about the dictatorship's refusal to allow our ethnicity a place in the sun. Feels like Egypt in some ways. Teaching the math in the tables below is just not part of this culture.

That probably seems like a small thing, but for me, it's something of a show stopper. I at least get to rant about it, file my laments.

Great latkas as usual. Tara will see the doctor tomorrow. I was contacted by the driver who hit her last night. Oversight Committee was supportive. I'm something of a basket case, glad to have friends and life coaches.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another Mathematician's Lament

Hey, I can't make 'em teach this stuff, and it hurts that they don't or won't.

Feel free to learn from me, or any other such teachers as you may find along your way.

We are few and far between these days, like strangers in a strange land.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Synergeo 57035

Nutritious Mathematics

It's kind of fun house mirror that I'd name something an "NCLB Polyhedron" isn't it?

http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2006/10/nclb-polyhedron-memo.html

You may remember I held a contest for the handsomest rendering, and Ken Brown won (that's his rendition in the blog).

We might compare Fuller's quest with Mendeleev's in that he's looking at low integers, wanting to maximize their sense, their gain, vis-a-vis these volumes. In [book] 2 of Synergetics, he's just completing his quest for volume 5. You can tell from the war stories and diagrams that he's gone through a lot of shapes, looking at one then the other. What really sold him on the rhombic triacontahedron I think, was precisely this narrow-line difference between the T and the E. Whereas some might look at this as a "flaw line", for Bucky I'm pretty sure it was one of his favorite discoveries. Much of the 2nd volume is focusing on this material.

Newcomers to the field don't get the same sense of "two [books]" though, as for the web edition they were interleaved, as Fuller had intended.

These NCLB memes seemed like safe enough and fun innovations such as to possibly galvanize debate to positive ends in the blogosphere, newsgroups. Here's some writing worth wrastling with, worth tossing around. We'll see. So far, the science press is busy being anemic, not giving us air time. No one has a clue what a rhombic triacontahedron is, even though they put pictures of Zome kits everywhere, cuz they're politically correct. Am I just being too cynical?

You may say we shouldn't have to care what a rhombic triacontahedron is, but that's just a value judgment from a specific ethnicity. Those cultures that want to keep talking about that shape will have various ornaments around, this household no exception.

That being said, it's no fun to pay into the system, and yet not have one's favorite teachings or stories shared. Talk about stranger in a strange land syndrome. Actually it's not that bad, as Cleveland High School happily displayed the Fuller Projection in global studies, for many weeks straight. That really was an encouraging sign, even though nothing much was said about it. That same map has since visited with Circadia folks (Burning Man, Burn Out) and Laughing Horse Books & Videos (a collection, an archive, as well as a store). So Portland still has some sense of this heritage. When we held Ignite 7 at The Bagdad, and Phil said his name, several people cheered (plus I was received warmly).

Kirby

--
>>> from mars import math
http://www.wikieducator.org/Digital_Math

World Views
:: global studies class, Portland ::

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Growing Bone

While we're on the topic of economics, let's talk more about the "artificial person" known as the 501(c)(3) or whatever statute (template, boilerplate). The goal would not be to gradually massage an obsolete API, but to start fresh from scratch, do it in FOSS with a GUI, and put that on the map as a new way to do business. Just boot up and go (of course your people already need to know what they're doing, but this will make bookkeeping so much more a dream job).

I've written about this a lot in these blogs in connection with medical practices. Doctors don't necessarily like eyeballing finances in the form of dreary spreadsheets, but could get used to a more cockpit like instrument panel, or pick your skin (Chinese apothecary?). Think Uru.

In Model View Controller (MVC), we don't tightly couple, such that Visualizations (and/or sonifications etc.) might develop by leaps and bounds even where our Model (rule bundle) stays the same.

Some would sneer these were "merely cosmetic" changes (as if a "makeover" were always something to be snide about). However, if a Model then matures, has a growth spirt, then all this new work on Visualizations will have paid off even more handsomely.

Evolution in the Controller is likewise orthogonal in the sense that the implementation version (of Python for example) might simply speed up, both at runtime and design time (thanks to all the newly approved PEPs and/or improvements in the VMs).

What I'm suggesting, in layman's terms, is to craft new public-private APIs as open source software that will spread the new standards. This would be how to revamp the tax code for example. You don't tweak the existing forms, you define a new kind of enterprise with QA stamps of approval, and have it prototype (pilot) these new ways of filing, reporting, submitting revenues for collective investment (however those are packaged and funneled).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More on Geek TV

The Legion of Tech has successfully popularized what we in the Pycon subculture call the Lightning Talk, which isn't always as breathless-sounding as my recent demo of the genre. You can say quite a bit in five minutes, if properly prepared, and many are already sitting on such already polished talks even as we speak.

Also at Pycons, you have a mixing box right at the point of delivery. You could specify the meticulous details, as Lindsey (a musician) does for her sound set ups, per her Free Music Blog. Such explicit instructions, about whatever technical topic, might help your sister stations get their content on line sooner and more inexpensively, whether for free or for trade.

In the case of video, you'll want to pipe signal directly from the laptop, so the slides don't have to go through the camera lens except as a part of the backdrop. If the laptop is beefy enough to play smooth animations, then so much the better.

What you get in the can at the venue (studio) is pretty much what goes out, unless the presenter wants to take on post production. We're presuming a live audience context, perhaps at a place like Duke's Landing on SE Belmont where we've been doing some pilot studies.

The speaker's head and/or full profile may be inserted as a rectangle within the slide, with editing decisions made on the fly, making post-production less tedious. On the other hand, some clients bring forward already-produced five minute (or shorter) segments, designed specifically for free and open source sharing.

Those producing this show need to think in terms of a growing inventory of replayable assets (the Portland Knowledge Lab model, likewise Children's Television Workshop's).

What we're looking for are utilitarian talks mixed with more flights of fancy. The "alternative turn signal" talk at Ignite 7 was somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.

Think of practical advise to non-profits involved in direct service. It's up to you to compress everything a non-profit executive director would need to know about open source web frameworks, in five easy to digest minutes. Other talks could zoom in.

Then we'd want medical and health care talks, sometimes with frank content, such as how to prevent the spread of this or that, along with practical agricultural advice, around urban farming, trusted food sources, tested protein combinations (e.g. beans, squash and corn). Cooking tips will remain a popular feature (Ignite 7 had that one about road kill, plus sometimes hunters waste meat like crazy so maybe learn how to harvest that as well).

Some of my clients are turned off by TV as a "push medium" though i.e. don't want to have to sit through a broadcast (sequential access), want random access instead instead (as on Youtube). Of course it's not either/or, but this bias does suggest producing five minute segments that work either way i.e. that could be part of a telecast, per some Sesame Street episode, our could be shared standalone.

This focus on "practical" segments is consistent with the original purpose of community access television, so I'm thinking this is a winning formula, perhaps even here in Portland. Both CUE and AFSC produced for community access contemporaneously with my presence. Who wants to be on TV?

Speaking of which, I've kept the "ISEPP TV" meme alive in case we want to join forces, as a source of content (e.g. Neolithic Math) if not server facilities (I keep losing track of which servers live where, have my own 4D stuff to keep track of). We haven't had much followup on my QA proposal (to check the quality of what we've already got), but then those weren't collected with the five minute restriction in mind, so we're talking brief excerpts at best.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Hey, Teacher!

Cool executive class toyz, ready for front lines service in math teaching circles. Backed by this 1960s classic, who could go wrong? My thanks to Glenn Stockton for the gift of this book.

No, I'm not selling these to you directly, just suggesting you be on the lookout for what could become important tools in your trade.

Remember, AAB = Mite of volume 1/8th, T-volume same as A,B (1/24), the latter being for 5-fold analysis ala the hexapents (also depicted).

You don't have to start with these cellular components though. Any standard Renaissance approach to the Truncated Icosahedron and Stella Octangula should do fine (check Da Vinci?).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Portland Notes

Octet Truss
:: octet-truss, world trade center ::

As ISEPP board member, I sometimes learn more about Terry's business, such as when I help take inventory of the many valuable tapes. The gold mine in the basement (books, Allen Taylor mags) was to service the scientific cafe, in one scenario, switching a tenant within the same block maybe (there's already a working coffee shop).

I offered to Terry at ONAMI that I could talk to Jody about the real estate, just for bouncing off purposes (she knows that stuff), but maybe he's not looking for that kind of feedback. The New Seasons across the street and down the block a piece, has broken ground on new digs.

Then it was off to Laughing Horse where I sat opposite a dog in the antechamber, west of the desk, reading Lewis Lapham's Theater of War. I went straight to the index, per usual, always the skeptic that Bucky Fuller would be mentioned (but if this is recent USA history, at all serious-minded, then how could it bleep over Bucky?) and there he was, page 185 I think. Other parts of the book were good too. He's an interesting writer (editor of Harper's) and I'm highly tempted to buy the tome.

Anyway, the Collective likes what Lindsey and Julia are doing with the Sleeping Bag Fundraisers. We went to Andy & Bax later and counted out six bags (intermediate, military grade), having twice as much money as last time thanks to PayPal donations (yes, we keep names).

Taking Inventory

The deal maker wasn't on the premises though, plus the Red Door is closed until Monday (our target disbursement point, unless Laughing Horse chooses to take more control -- Lindsey used my phone to check with Julia on her thoughts).

The anti-WTO (aka Free Trade) demonstration was lively they tell me. I'll be interested to see the quality and tone of whatever journalistic coverage.

Although we missed the event itself, we took the company car, Glenn and Amber joining us, and crashed the After Party on SE Belmont. Actually, Lindsey was present by invitation, to give the wrap up performance. After playing around with the sound system, she chose to go unamped. This was a boomer set wanting to hear itself talk, with lots of movers and shakers in the labor movement. I thought we blended in well though, and I'm happy about the pictures.

PR

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Slavery Today

The "stop loss = slavery" campaign categorizes this "hidden draft" with other efforts at rebranding the slave trade as something else.

"Human trafficking" is not so much a euphemism as a way of alerting readers to true states of affairs in this world. So call me a logical positivist for working at telling the truth?

Wittgenstein was a Vienna Circle celebrity in his day and I'm on record as a Wittgenstein commentator since my Princeton days. We weren't trained to see him as a logical positivist though, not even during the Tractatus chapter -- that's considered the more uninformed view in my somewhat snobbish clique.

Quakers have a long history of fighting slavery via their underground railroad. When policymakers had exhausted their options in Vietnam, a lot of draftees went AWOL, effectively ending the draft.

This wasn't supposed to matter so much though, as the new Pentagon wasn't gonna need the big numbers like in the bad old dino days. New levels of precision and effectiveness had been attained. "Lean and mean" were the new watch words.

Fortunate is the nation that might afford to be choosy.

The current crop of pretenders doesn't have that luxury though. Certifiably ill people get returned to active duty. Those low on the totem pole have their stays extended to perform duties too expensive for the more elite mercenary troops.

Outsourcing the war to private industry to line a few pockets, while forcing Americans into servitude, is hardly a way to win hearts and minds overseas, nor domestically either.

People don't really envy Americans these days, given their obviously oppressed status. Helping Americans throw off their tyrant taskmasters is more the name of the game these days.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Freeman Dyson in Portland

Freeman Dyson came across as both relaxed and sagacious tonight. He shared a lot of history, making important points about how to make the world safer and stronger. I found it refreshing to hear such non-apocalyptic thinking for a change.

Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr. received quite a bit of appreciation for their accomplishments in this regard.

Nixon, persuaded by Kissinger who knew this guy from Harvard whose name I now forget, got biological weapons decommissioned and off the table.

Reagan and Gorbachev got very close to agreeing to eliminate nukes, even though their advisors misguidedly talked them out of it.

Bush Sr. cut the number of theater nukes dramatically by removing them from surface ships and from the army.

That one story people tell, about nukes having been effective in ending WWII, is really not how it went, according to Dyson's best guess based on a good look at the scholarship.

The emperor was following his venerated grandfather's response in 1895, to a Euro-Russian demand to quit China. Now the Russians were invading again and it was time to surrender. The nukings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not in themselves trigger any high level meetings.

Dyson thinks nukes are both morally indefensible and militarily nothing more than a headache, a liability, regardless of who has them or why.

The real challenge and focus should be dropping their numbers among the haves, who have tens of thousands of such beasts, not on Iran so much, or North Korea.

These latter foci are more sideshow distractions, ways of deliberately diverting attention from the real dangers, postponing any real reforms.

Having Kissinger, Nunn and others taking an anti-nuke position today (the current reality), could signal it's time to get it done.

This Portland audience seemed quite on board with that analysis. This Freeman guy makes plenty of sense to us.

The balance of his talk was about bio-tech, somewhat distinct from nano-tech. He thinks bio-tech might go the way of computing, in starting out expensive and restrictive, then becoming more accessible and ubiquitous. Disruptive maybe, but on balance an OK development?

I was glad to have my mother Carol with us tonight. At the dinner, she asked if it were true that pouring molasses on nukes was a fast way to decommission them. Freeman agreed there might be something to this way of thinking. Mom also enjoyed talking to Bruce Adams.

My thanks to Terry, Don, Glenn. Leslie, missed seeing you. Aldona, good talking. Good seeing Joe Arnold, hearing his question about quantum mechanics. Lots of chuckles about string theory, which might yet end up important someday.

Glenn and Carol
:: Glenn and Carol (click for Photostream) ::

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Music for Homeless


:: sleeping bag fundraiser 2 ::

A number of those drifting through here have been sleeping outside lately. Given the dropping temperatures, that can be hard, although Dorian with the tarp and down comforter claimed he was snug. There's no heat in this book store (we're saving on funds). A lot of us are scattered on the floor. I'm in an armchair, patched in to wifi.

Lindsey, going first, has just finished her set. The original plan was to set up her equipment early, then join with activists in front of the Federal Building downtown. However, upon removing the keyboard from the trunk, an E key got bent and stopped making a sound, necessitating about three hours of improvised surgery with a Phillips screwdriver. Fortunately, the problem was reparable. Lindsey was cool under pressure, dissecting and reassembling her instrument methodically.

We've now been plunged into darkness as our second musician, Joel (City Harvest Black), cranks up his weird sounds and visuals (he's got a 16mm projector and a shot out looking film). He reminds me of Gadgetto somewhat, also NegativLand.

Seth Martin, talkative, sleep deprived, recovering from an illness, is playing a banjo, rather well I'm thinking. He was in Palestine this summer, has a rap about the role of traditional music in oppressive times. Now he's on guitar. Folk songs, somewhat tongue in cheek, poking fun at head-in-the-sand cocooners. He credits an anarcho-primitivist Quaker for the song about the prophet Amos. Query: what is it you're for, never mind what you're against. Erin Eichenberger, newly with Muddy's, followed up with some sweet guitar originals.

Nahko is a good singer and guitar player, relaxed and mellow, likes using the Bose (Lindsey's sound system). He and Seth often share the stage.

Whatever money we raise at the door goes to buy sleeping bags for the homeless, like last time.

Lindsey and Julia, both members of the Collective, are handling the organizing and promotion. James did the poster again. No one is getting paid. We're having fun though, even though it's cold.

New Sleeping Bag Poster 11x17 Color

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Politicking

Obama's speech set off a storm of political dialog in this household. I'm a skeptic of the Euro mindset, don't think its Capitalist vs Socialist Godzilla Show is smart enough to keep pace with technology (nature sets the pace, while we humans struggle to stay not too retarded).

However, if we want a safety net, then I think "school" rather than "work" should be another default, "work/study" being life long. The lie we tell ourselves, that first we go to school and learn it all, and then we get a job, and know it all, is just that, a lie. We need to oscillate (perhaps chaotically) between work mode and study mode, from cradle to grave.

The one thing no Big Sister has the right to promise is an uninterrupted career with no plans to adapt or learn new tools. Rather, there's a way to get retrained, as a math teacher (even if you're already a math teacher), as a tool user of some kind (yes, art counts as tool use).

If all Capitalism has come to mean is neo-Malthusian jungle "tooth and claw" type rhetoric, an atavistic throwback, then I don't see much chance of attracting top talent. However, not every speculative investor type is at the mercy of those reflexes, so I'm not gonna pre-judge.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Galumphing Back

My company surplus went directly to the public sector, so I'm thinking my outward behavior is that of a non-profit. This stands to reason as my wife was a fund accountant and our orientation was always that of showing donors that their funds had been committed to intelligible uses. GST works the same way, treating the sun as our principal donor. LW is likewise talking 501(c)(3) for her business, or some approximation thereof.

I've been anchoring PKL (or Portland Knowledge Lab) ever since my visit to LKL (London's). Sponsors would get behind it, on the model of OSDL, ONAMI or one of those. These could be colleges and universities. Whether we keep running with that or not (I've been busy archiving under that label), there's a need to coordinate, not redundantly channel in a climate somewhat unforgiving of thoughtless waste (way too much of that already).

From Synergeo last night:
I think we've about reached the point where having nothing intelligent to say about Synergetics (beyond trash talkin' and easy dismissal, ala Most Beautiful Molecule) is more risky than sharing coherent views i.e. the ball is in the court of the hitherto mostly-silent, and continued silence could easily backfire. We also have a new generation growing up, less imbued with creaky old Cold Warrior reflexes.

At least in terms of contemporary American history this is pretty much true already i.e. if you try to write recent 1900s intellectual history without taking Fuller into account (i.e. if you simply leave him out of the index) then I think you're admitting to not doing sufficient homework (meritocracy at work). Of course I think it's also true of mathematics, chemistry and architecture as well i.e. "bleeping over bucky" has become too irresponsible to get away with anymore. Too many younger people have too much curiosity to get away with any "sweeping under the rug".
My title for this post is an allusion to Jabberwocky. My mood is one of humility and chagrin as I neglected to follow standard safety procedures and have likely added a permanent one inch scar 'neath my right eye (once it heals). Elise patched me up good with sani-strips in lieu of stitches. This accident occurred in my Castle in the Sky, a small apartment over a garage.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre Thanksgiving

It's that time a year again, and I truly am grateful, to have time with family and friends. This year is unusual in that mom has stayed long enough to reach this holiday in a Pacific Northwest setting. Since around 2001, her practice has been to be in warmer climes by now, to escape our dreaded winter.

CBS News was interesting: myth busting around this idea that TG is the busiest day when it comes to flying. Not true, never has been. Also: many in congress are corrupt and in the pocket of war profiteers (I think we knew that). Obama pardoned a turkey, condemned it to DisneyLand instead. We participate in the psychology of a nation, patch in, work to make it stronger and better (thinking of USA OS again, waxing nostalgic).

Having visited ONAMI today, I'm going to pound the table on math-teach some more: the line:area:volume exponents of 1, 2 and 3, are what make nano-substances take on new properties (more with less), are what made Fuller's "dome over Manhattan" not a "crackpot idea" but an "andragogical device" (more like one of Laffoley's gizmos -- we learn from them).

Our thread was on perimeter versus area, and how you may easily disrupt the relationship. However, if you keep all the angles the same (i.e. shape), insist on self-similarity, then scaling an object results in these important power relationships that need to be included in our gnu math curriculum (per those Wikipedia pages).

OK, go ahead and nod off now, more math than you needed right before some big meal eh?

Tara is cooking a double batch of Teresina-style lentils, which I always associate with Together Friends. Speaking of Quakers and their historic allegiances, this is a season wherein many North Americans celebrate indigenous pre-Europeans, pay respects to the many lineages (story lines, still informing) already snaking through North America long before DC annexed a bunch of states for world game playing purposes.

In some virtual reality, a nation (a mindset) gets to be responsible for the whole globe and judged accordingly, by God one might say, as there's no ET audience (that we know of). The Chinese have this virtual reality philosophy already encoded in some of their emperor talk. People have been doing cybernetics for a long time, just calling it different things, like feng shui or whatever (adapting to one's environment, assuming a modicum of control).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Increasing Military IQ

Here's a link to me weighing in on the topic of IQ again, along with Pam, a veteran of math-teach like I am. I've never met Pam, yet consider myself her fan (likewise of Lou Talman's), whereas I'm more a sparring partner for Haim.

Sean calls these "allegiances" and is happy to see them expressed on his Wittgenstein list, so long as we don't indulge in a lot of ad hominem. As a philosopher, he's more hip to the logical fallacies than most (mistakes in debating, errors in diplomacy) whereas the math teachers just seem to shoot from the hip, seem to have more of a Wild West attitude, though with the Asiatic influence, noted by Paul, we have the potential to regain our composure and behave more like Sean's House of Lords (long story).

Back to my analysis: I'm invoking some retro aesthetics, taking us back to a smarter golden age within the UMC, when orders from the Pentagon made more sense than they later would under Nixon.

The Cold War was in full swing and the thing to do against the USSR menace was to build these newfangled radomes as DEW Line protectors. Sure, H.S.M. Coxeter got angry when he found this exquisite "geometry of nature" already had a patent adhering, wasn't automatically open source. He was prescient in that way, obedient to his natural geek intuitions. Fuller's patent on the octet-truss was in some ways even more crazy-making (the IVM belongs to nature, not men).

Today they're even patenting naturally occurring gene sequences, or trying to. Why not patent the sky, charge royalties for seeing it? Our "legally-piggily" Idiocracy is pretty far gone, with the EU a bulwark against at least software patents (an abyss of pure craziness (a litigators' heaven, an engineers' hell)).

Given the Pentagon had already sourced radomes in this period, it made sense for all that KH-derived omni-triangulated global data, so central to Critical Path (Fuller's), to be made available to the world's school children via Google Earth and such services.

This was World Game in action, the start of a global Renaissance.

The "civilian-ization" of high technology is a trend we should circle and celebrate, along with its "ephemeralization" (doing more with less).

Those enlisting for military service, having served their terms, should expect civilian work making use of some of those same GIS/GPS skills.

Taking a next generation under one's wing, providing life skills for a place in the sun, is what it means to hand on a culture, and to receive one.

NASA News: Solar tsunamis are real.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Murder of Fred Hampton (movie review)

This might be viewed in sequence with several others reviewed in these blogs, hitting around the same time.

American Revolution 2, likewise a documentary, focuses on an alliance between recent immigrants to Chicago and Black Panthers. This film is more about an alliance between Black Panthers and journalists who know they can't afford, as papers of record, to be perceived as dupes. If the facts are clearly not as the police have stated them, then they have no choice but to keep asking questions.

Fred Hampton is a firebrand with an incendiary rhetoric. On the ground, his organization is working hard to win the loyalty of the people his party represents. Medical care and education are being provided.

The police seem somewhat taken aback that their story really has to hold water. The Black Panther rhetoric is so nakedly defiant that authorities assume an implicit social contract gives them carte blanch to commit mayhem.

Fred Hampton is murdered while in his bedroom with his pregnant wife, who survives to contribute an interview.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Transactions

I twittered this link to a chat about Dr. H. Kroto on the Wikieducator group, clearly a fan club.

A little earlier, I updated peers on math-thinking-l about whassup with the DM track, all that work done this summer.

Over on Wikipedia, I sassed the AFSC posting in the discussion area, finding parts of it "silly".

My daughter wanted some info on fractional exponents, so we did some algebra on that topic, deriving how A to the one half would be 2nd root of A.

In Python:


AFSC emailed this banner ad around, urging a moratorium on misguided military missions in Afghanistan, mostly of benefit to private mercenary groups and warlords, in some cases the same ones terrorizing American civilians, given the global game of weapons and drug trafficking (also human trafficking, stop loss, abductions).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wanderers 2009.11.18

Bill's Box
::fractals on bill's box ::

I dropped Carol at some rendezvous, for the sojourn in Salem. Then I posted to Math Forum. Then I hoofed it to Wanderers for an in depth look at the Mandelbrot Set, running Java. Bill Shepard is hosting.

David Tver is here, then maybe a first timer. I'm in and out of the meeting room, attending to 2nd world business. Glenn Stockton, Jim Buxton...

We could produce this fractals segment for any teacher with a projector. Having students take turns zooming in needn't be a mind-numbing activity provided some of the lore is woven in. This is the Argand Plane after all, integral within academe since oh, a long time ago. No excuse to be boring. We could do this at Cleveland, Grant... Winterhaven.

In my spoof skit of this session, we zoom in on the small happy village where Waldo lives in the woodwork, munching on fractal PB&J.

So John Gilbrough helped Bill write this fractal explorer (which ran great on my Ubuntu Starling I'm happy to say -- in no rush for Karmic Koala). That's the same guy who did the rotating polyhedra in stereo, via Java and GWT (Google Web Toolkit).

Four of us went to Pepino's afterward, immersed ourselves in Martian Math talk a little. I need to send out some links.

Thanks to Sean for this link to a BBC program on Wittgenstein and his philo.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Martian Math

:: honeycomb of Rites (a kind of Syte) ::
by Claudio Rocchini
GNU Free Documentation License

What might count originally as a turn-off -- the unfamiliarity of some given material -- might be made into a turn-on instead; "a feature not a bug" as we say in the industry.

By making it Martian (the mathematics we're providing), we get to underscore its alien-seeming attributes, such as its tetrahedral units of volume.

The nomenclature of Mites, Sytes and Kites, already developed, is handsomely documented with no serious ambiguities, so it's not a matter of redoing everything from scratch.

Nor has the marketing moniker "gnu math" been abandoned, at least not by me.

We've also tried a more Korean angle.

In bringing in the ET spin, I'm clearly feeding the science fiction writers' market.

Our competitors would likely have this space-age geometry, perhaps did in Contact already.

Or (alternatively, additionally) we could simply project a future human technology, suitable for Mars, already making waves in the early 21st century. Having geodesic structures on Mars would make plenty of sense, plus we already have that sphere packing landing.

So that'd be Martian Math in yet another sense (advanced human vs. ET).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Think Tank Techniques

:: private undercover party ::

We're setting up at Duke's for our private undercover party, discreetly advertised only through select channels. The producers each have their own ways of promoting clandestine events. DJ Troy is managing logistics, including lighting. I'm on projector, Walker on sound.

The framework is to support others showing up and wanting to take the floor, give us a presentation. A fully developed genre, say the autobiography, might be a theme for an evening, to be continued at a later date. Our event this time is more political, given our Laughing Horse Collective connection, although I argued for a stronger engineering approach on the way over, warming up for providing my piece of the gig.

Perhaps a missing ingredient, for adding down the road, is a community access television component. What community again? Well, we'd like to include Portland, given that's where we are, and given the already mature cable TV market.

On the other hand, mixing our various media feeds is probably not best accomplished in real time? Just having our videographers present will possibly supply sufficient grist for our mills, plus give us more control over what goes out over the wire.

In contrast with ISEPP lectures, more like its plans for salons, this format presumes a choppier format, with Lightning Talks of five minutes or less strongly emphasized in early promotions.

We're in a mid-sized venue pre-equipped for multi-media. Not every gathering will expect a DJ and live music, VHS tapes playing on random monitors, smoke machine, projected Internet content.

Lots of mix and match.

I'll also plan on showing some hypertoons, computed on the fly vs. pre-recorded.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Transcript (typos fixed)

Dick: Your new emotional restraint, I will appreciate it while it lasts.

I thought Quakers were about promoting peaceful alternatives to violence. Or is that wrong. Maybe Quakers are peaceful when it is convenient. I have no idea. Except I do know plenty of words are slung and thrown around at the meetings, not for happy reasons, or so I am informed by participants I know.

Kirby: When you've turned away from outward use of outward weapons, that doesn't preclude you from being a vicious attack dog Karl Rover. Quakers are not about being polite all the time.

They were always being offensive, heckling preachers, refusing to doff their hats, inciting the masses. They were imprisoned routinely.

Many got sick of that treatment and decided to create a relative utopia called Pennsylvania instead.

However, Quakers lost control of their state when the in-flooding immigrants, hot off the boat, wanted to use tax money to fight "Indians".

The Quakers had been enjoying peaceful relations with said native populations and wanted no war taxes levied. They were out-voted by a corrupt majority and Quakers have had relatively little influence on the internal affairs of Pennsylvania ever since.

The rising tide of stupidity that overwhelmed Pennsylvania then spread to the rest of the Lower48, now known as Dumbfuckistan to our inner circle (just kidding, there's no inner circle, if you've ever seen the "Quakers guts" poster -- a blog topic of late:

http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2009/11/local-activism.html

)

Dick: his kind of aggressive verbal behavior is perceived as strength in the Friends' circle, I suspect... Beats me.

Btw, you have been unusually tolerant of others at synergeo in the last 2 weeks.

Kirby: Probably not a lasting trend, likely I'll say something offensive here shortly.

Rybo: Ha, that is great Quaker history Kirby. Thx for that story.

[ source: Synergeo 56508, 56514 ]

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The End of Suburbia (movie review)

This film is somewhat paradoxical in that it sounds the death knell for a particular lifestyle made famous over the last seventy years or so by its practitioners, but without much mourning.

The city planners all decry urban sprawl as a disgraceful waste, have no special sentimentality towards low density single story strip malls consisting mostly of parking lots.

"If this was the American Dream, we're glad to be waking up" seems to be more of the message, even if the "awake state" (after taking the Red Pill with some OJ) proves sobering.

The film features a number of talking heads sounding the alarm at various levels, including Kenneth Deffeyes.

On the "scary talk" rating scale, you would think global warming talk ala Al Gore would be scarier than peak oil talk.

However I think the peak oil people are somewhat more effective at provoking a reality-based response, which is maybe not saying much given how the media response to date has consisted mostly of idle daydreaming about an impossible tomorrow (what we might call "bad philosophy" in some circles).

I watched this as a double feature with Over the Hedge, which likely colors my take.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Into the Fire (movie review)

This tightly edited documentary traces the beginnings of WWII to its dress rehearsal, the fascist bombardment of Spain by the Axis powers, Hitler and Mussolini puppeting Franco, who was in rebellion against the duly elected government in Madrid. The aerial bombardment of Guernica was memorialized by Pablo Picasso. Ernest Hemingway narrated a movie from the Loyalist perspective (those loyal to a democratic, parliamentarian Spain), showed it to the Roosevelts in their White House home.

As those reading their history remember, the USA was already sick of the whole WW1 experience and was not anxious to rejoin the European adventure. However the world was shrinking owing to the development of air transport, and those watching world events could see that failing to stop the invasion of Spain by the dictators would simply postpone the day of reckoning. Many Americans got into the fight early, and this film chronicles the dedication of those called to nursing, helping mostly men on the front lines. The horror of modern warfare was just becoming apparent through newsreels. That Americans weren't lining up to join in the madness is understandable, but the situation only got worse as Hitler and Mussolini were sensing their behavior was being reinforced, they had a free hand. The ostensibly democratic governments of the USA, France and Great Britain, weren't really doing anything to get in their way.

The Spanish first stand
against what would become a terrible enemy was echoed elsewhere in the world where newly literate classes were eager to manage their own affairs with less bullying from some power elite. Central governments were worried about communism. In the USA, the eugenics movement was strong. Plenty in the business class were backing fascism at first, not yet aware of the monsters in the making. Hitler was still writing Mein Kampf from prison, consuming racist pseudo-science from Cold Spring Harbor and places, well funded North American think tanks, as documented in War Against the Weak.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Not Following Detroit

[ typos fixed, hyperlinks-enhanced version of a math-teach posting @ Math Forum ]

On Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 7:18 AM,
Domenico Rosa wrote:

> Publisher enters new chapter in textbooks
> Houghton sells $40m high-tech teaching system
> By D.C. Denison, Globe Staff October 29, 2009
>

Whereas I agree that the mass published wood pulp textbook is no longer the most relevant distribution system for curriculum content, there's a lot of political pressure in Portland, and Oregon more generally, to "eat our own dog food" as an open source capital (Christian Science Monitor, 2005).

OSCON is returning next year (Open Source Conference) and we also have OS Bridge, all thanks to the Silicon Forest serving as a champion of FOSS (or FLOSS as some call it, L for Libre or Liberal, as in Liberal Arts).

This trend extends to empowering teachers to commit to Open Education standards, ala WikiEducator and so forth. Initiatives like Maria's Math 2.0 will likely play a greater role in future curriculum writing than any dinosaur mass publishers "back east" (we tend to be snobbish out here, see "the east" as about 10 years behind the times, with California only 3 years behind).

Math Labs may use mostly recycled hardware, hand-me-down machines from the corporate sector and government agencies, although some of the more well-endowed get grants for new equipment. Mostly the money needs to go for teacher training, as math teachers especially are expected to have IT-related skills (lest their "technology in the classroom" rhetoric sound empty and hollow -- just knowing how to use a scientific calculator is no excuse for numeric literacy, or "numeracy" any more).

So I'm anticipating a lot of skepticism regarding Detroit's adoption strategies. We'll expect to learn from Detroit's mistakes perhaps?

Kirby

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

:: halloween 2009 ::

Today has been productive. I got to mess around with several flavors of animal manure: chicken, horse and, inadvertently, dog (on my shoes).

This was in connection with urban gardening, an activity I still suck at, being a clueless newbie in so many dimensions. Live and learn.

I've been having some meaningful dialog on the Wittgenstein list, am glad of Sean's facility.

Tara had two friends over last night. They enjoyed cooking up a storm for breakfast this morning.

I was in the back office patched into a Math 2.0 WizIQ discussion, featuring chat, web cams, white board, the works. We joined from many time zones, with our anchor in the Middle East this time.

Our topic was WikiEducator and was most informative. I'm hoping to join a team that'll bring more spatial geometry to that wiki, including some of the more esoteric content my company is known for promulgating and producing.

Tonight, Halloween, Tara is off with her friends, working a different neighborhood. I joined the Bartons for a delightful dinner, then rushed over the Duke's. Trey is playing with his smoke machine.

We have a videographer this evening. Lindsey is delivering a tight and classic performance. She's in her element. I'm eating onion rings and drinking Double Dog Dare and patching in to the Internet. Duke, the English Mastiff, is the Grim Reaper tonight.

Mom isn't feeding the candy habits of young children tonight, has the lights off at home. Like me, she's patching in to the "2nd world", communicating with her spirit network. Boo!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thinking Outside of the Box

Posted to math-teach @ Math Forum, hyperlinks added.

> From U.S. Department of Education: See
> http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/10/10222009.html

When I read this, I get a picture of traditional classrooms filled with rows and columns, teacher up front, USA flag in the corner, chalk board... we've all seen the movie, maybe starred in it too.

It's not like all that is going away, but we have lots of other options for educating, including stitching together programs where kids do a lot more work on their home computers, watch more videos, take tests at testing centers, visit companies and government institutions for mini-courses for credit, hold internships and apprentice-ships etc.

Issuing a national student card or simply having local authorities do that, and then creating opportunities that register for credit, ala one's transcript, is the way to go, more like Facebook but specific to building one's academic portfolio, showing off community service work, time at a math lab learning some vector graphics or whatever.

It's not gonna be that organized overnight, but let's take advantage of what home schooling families have pioneered. It's not all about "seat time" in these few factory-looking buildings scattered around town. Keep using those, but use actual houses for foreign exchange program, film some of your cooking shows in actual kitchens (many homes have nice ones) and fund families accordingly. Let the parents get in on the act, as they need training as well, need food and shelter as a part of the deal (not just more debt in exchange for deferred gratification).

Insisting that the K-12 lifestyle simply stick in the same ruts that it's been in since the 1920s and before shows a lack of imagination. Likewise teachers should have more options, such as a national program more like TSA that keeps them moving around, pinch hitting on teams, if that's the lifestyle they choose. It's less about paying the big bucks than developing lifestyles with the perks all built in. Have teachers in caravans, dispatched to conferences and workshops, more like the traveling circus model. Coordinate local projects. It's a lot like development in the 3rd world, except there's not really a 3rd world any more, just the real one and the cyber one (first and second).

A lot of people reading this are gonna think I'm crazy to suggest any of this, but then think of the military, our vast socialized system of pooled assets, government funded and ostensibly about providing training and equipment (fun, travel and adventure as the recruiters used to advertise). Any country that is able to run that many young people through a government program on that scale, should be able to provide similar opportunities for civilians -- unless of course the plan is to keep civilians in squalor such that military service is their only realistic option, in service of imperial goals.

Just don't whine about how we have no resources to serve students with better opportunities on the one hand, while squandering billions to warehouse hundreds of thousands around the world, supplied with a vast inventory of high tech toys, including entire floating cities (aka aircraft carriers). I realize it's maybe not politically correct to link these two sectors, but to the rest of the world it seems obvious that the USA could do OK for itself, if it just stopped imagining itself as some kind of world conqueror on steroids. Even students see the logic in that position.

I think if it's just a matter of recruiting vast numbers of teachers to live like the boomers, supporting public schools as we know them, then it's not gonna work, that's pretty much a guarantee.

Too many kids are eager to get out of those hell holes, would never voluntarily go back to support them. Boomer-senior culture is not one to emulate, but to transcend, the sooner the better. All boomers know how to do is whine about their crappy health care system and invade foreign countries yes? Whatever they advise you to do, do something else, would be my advice (yes, I'm a boomer, so there's some irony here).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Machuca (movie review)

This could be viewed as a double feature with Motorcycle Diaries in that it focuses on many of the same themes, namely the rise of political movements around a consciousness of class, if not also race. Or watch it with Favela Rising, about a documentary set in Sao Paolo, or with The Lost City, about Castro's Cuba.

The core setting is a boy's school, St. Patrick's in Santiago, Chile in the late 1960s, and the respective home lives of two boys, one from the privileged elite, the other from a shantytown.

Thanks to the ascendancy of the Allende regime and a supportive Catholic priest headmaster, St. Patrick's is integrating, providing some scholarships to boys from the shantytowns.

In looking through the lens of young male (a slightly younger contemporary -- I was in Junior English School in Rome about that same time), the political drama becomes a background of sound bites, with adults parading in the streets in large numbers to demonstrate their various political positions. They jump up and down and bang on pots and pans, playing commies versus snobs.

Strife flares in a parent meeting at the school, where many of the moneyed blame the introduction of the economically disadvantaged for a rise in school violence and turn on the English-speaking priest. Other privileged parents are more liberal, though are not outright Marxists.

When the tide turns against Allende and the military seizes power on 9-11, 1973 (a coup), the disadvantaged are vengefully attacked, their ideology driven underground, and the Marxist sympathizing priests are muscled aside by the ruling Pinochet junta.

The little window we get into the St. Patrick's curriculum shows that frank discussion of events of the day and their historical context is not really what's up. Civics, debating skills... not a part of this picture. The real world of social interaction and starkly contrasting lifestyles is more what kids learn about after school and during recess.

The film is well acted by all concerned and provides a better doorway to history than dry texts alone. I might assign readings along the lines of Bucky Fuller's No Race, No Class to go with it, plus I'd encourage critical questioning regarding the efficacy of politico-military solutions.

One Laptop Per Child might be more of a step in the right direction, along with enlightened urban planning ala Mayor Jaime Lerner of Curtiba, Brazil. Engineering projects and the distribution of strategic artifacts (e.g. soap, shoes... eyeglasses), and better access to global data, are more the core focus in world game playing.