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.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Change History

From Synergeo, hyperlinks added:

--- In synergeo@yahoogroups.com, "coyote_starship" wrote:

I've decided to excise my comments from the current discussion pages re Synergetics and Synergetics Coordinates. They'll still be in the change history plus I've archived them here. Both articles still link to resources I've authored under external links.

Having my name in the discussions might imply that I'm somehow actively involved in maintaining these pages whereas I'm more interested in distancing myself from them.

I have my own pages on the web for which I'm responsible (they're somewhat in disrepair, lots of broken links, but at least they're mine and not so much a product of group think or another author).

I'd be happy to see some good synopsis of Synergetics (Fuller's) in Wikipedia. However the time has come to pass the torch to a next generation of scholars and not hog the limelight. Let's see if any competent Fuller commentators come out of the woodwork.

Given academia has dropped the ball, it could be that we'll be skipping another generation or two. It's pretty easy to explain the concentric hierarchy of polyhedra with its tetravolumes, mites, sytes and kites. It's harder to explain the philosophy. I've proposed American Transcendentalism as a category or pigeon hole, somewhat influenced by Applewhite and his linking of Synergetics to Poe's Eureka.

Kirby

--- End forwarded message ---

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gender Bender


:: claire-a-palooza @ laughing horse books ::

Lindsey organized this interesting event at Laughing Horse Books, with James inviting some of his friends as well. We had a good turn out. The movie documentary, Will: In Quotes, is boldly raw and would probably earn a TV-MA rating, even though visually it shows nothing more revealing than the occasional male torso, undergoing surgery in one scene (for breast implants).

The movie opens with Will frequenting karaoke bars in Boise, Idaho. He considers himself emotionally stunted or under-developed, albeit a decent singer. His strict religious upbringing in a polygamist Mormon household meant he wasn't allowed access to pop culture and now he's making up for lost time, seeking true love and a real family.

Even as a youngster, he'd picked up glimmers of a "trans-gendered" type of person and concluded that his enduring sense of alienation might be an indication that he belonged in this category. Whereas most who entertain such fantasies wouldn't act on them, he figured while he was still young with no children or life partner, this was his time to explore. He begins chemically altering his body, his dress, and finally flies to Thailand for the operation, taking his own video camera, which he gives to a nurse when it's time to go under. By this time she's Claire.

What made this experience especially dramatic and instructive for the audience was the star of this film had agreed to show up in person to answer questions. He's transitioning back to a male identity, is James now, having gone as far down the road being Claire as he wanted to go. He's somewhat embarrassed by the film and what people say to the film maker behind his back, so wanted to get a text message when it was over. This added to the theatrical nature of the event, plus the fact that he showed up in sunglasses with a scarf around his head, somewhat reminiscent of Michael Jackson. As the Q&A ensued, he shed the scarf, and by the end of the evening was minus the shades as well.

What impresses me about James, more than his personal journey, is his brutal honesty. He has no skeletons to hide, is out of the closet with his thoughts and feelings to a point most people would never allow. This is a somewhat constant aspect of his character, through all his transitions. One tends to inwardly cringe at some of his self-revelations, thinking "I would die before I revealed myself to the world with that level of unvarnished candor" and indeed that's what most of us will do. It's so much easier to talk about others than oneself.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Naked City

Manikins
before

Naked City
is a local clothing store next to The Bagdad, is also adjacent to a space formerly occupied by In Other Words, a feminist bookstore, since moved to a new location.

The fact that the window display features a male torso in a bloodied tux standing over a hacked up female per some Gothic horror movie motif (a Halloween theme) seemed radically insensitive to Julia & Lindsey. Was he the perpetrator? Was she his victim? Is this c/overt misogyny then? Why would you want customers musing along these lines?

They authored a letter of complaint in our company office and presented it. The counter clerk said he'd pass it back to the owner (a woman, if that's relevant).

Follow-up: the store's response was to add a hacked up male mannequin to the pile, sending more of an "equal opportunity" message.

After Complaint
after

Related posts
:
Regarding Objectifying
Resident Evil
AVP 2

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apocalypse Africa (movie review)

This film aims to give some of the back story regarding coups in Africa, starting at the beginning of the so-called post colonial period.

The core thesis is that the German policy of selling weapons to both sides in a conflict, so that feuding peoples would murder each other, has continued, thanks to racist thinking at the highest levels. In the foreground: disturbing, violent, horrific imagery, talking heads.

The audio track gives us more vintage Nixon. The security council guy reminds us that Dick was a small town bigot surrounded by yes men (you have to kowtow to the president, if you wanna stay in the game, not say "no" like Gen. Ed Lansdale did when asked by JFK to murder Diem, provoking a hissy fit from Secretary McNamara -- this isn't in the movie, A.J. Langguth is my source).

Nixon's mindset was reflective of middle class America's mindset at the time, informed by Tarzan movies and what not.

Docile Americans, gullible to the core, tend to believe whatever their "leaders" tell them, says the movie. Ergo Vietnam, Iraq, many other disasters. Without a vigilant and educated people, you get a lot of bad ideas put into action.

The film remains murky on many of the details, including some of its sources. Why exactly was Patrice Lumbaba killed again? They scrounge up some CIA guy from twenty years ago, but he doesn't wanna talk about it.

Regarding Liberia, we know Firestone wanted its rubber for cheap, so they could make those crummy tires for the Ford Explorers, but that's about all we know (I exaggerate -- we know plenty more).

Haile Selassie comes off as a principal anti-racist in the movie. He goes down in history for this, per the Lucy Exhibit as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Lyrik

I felt fortunate to get some face time with dear Nirel, part of a voluntary association I've branded as Coffee Shops Network (CSN).

She serves as CTO no less, consequent to her life-long dream (by this time) of carving out the salonstress role, in a next generation establishment reflective of her values and views.

I've worked in whole hearted support of that dream, given my strategy to pump healing philosophies out to a network, preferably in a mix with entertainment and even some level of game playing.

Nirel herself plays a great world game, with grace and integrity. I am blessed with such co-workers.

Fine Grind has pretty much completed its morph into Lyrik, an exercise in rebranding. Joe has done a fantastic job with the signage. Keiko is letting me sample the new winter drink: vinho quente (hot wine with fruit), a Brazilian favorite.

The previous owner of this establishment, Jody Ahn (aka Jody Francis), doubles as CFO for our network. She has morphed again as well. I feel surrounded by ninjas (a kind of mutant turtle?), which helps heal my latent misanthropy.

Next task: lurk in on the following cyber-event, before catching CBS Evening News with Katie, Lara et al.
Caroline Meeks founded Solution Grove, which specializes in open source solutions for learning communities and has created sites for groups at MIT, Harvard, MGH and Boston Museum of Science. Caroline is actively involved in two open-source communities, dotLRN, which she co-founded in 2001, and Sugar (sugarlabs.org) which was developed as part of the OLPC project. This year she is piloting "Sugar on a Stick" in a Boston public elementary school. Caroline is a candidate for an MEd in 2010 from the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Technology, Innovation and Education Program, and is a graduate of MIT.

Web Sites:
http://www.solutiongrove.com
http://www.sugaronastick.com
http://www.shovelreadyed.com
This requires running EluminateLive! 9.5 with headphones. I trust my Starling-1 will be up for the job.

Hey, I've been reading into Roz's book and really enjoying it. She really knows how to tell her story, generously lets us in to be there with her, albeit asynchronously.

:: math 2.0 webinar ::

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roz Savage

Book Signing
At age 30-something some ten years ago, Roz woke up from her cube job in consulting and management, realizing she wasn't going to be happy going further down this road, now that she had everything she'd believed she'd wanted: a secure job, marriage, red sports car. She wrote two obituaries for herself as an exercise, one in which she had a life of adventure, a shared voyage of self discovery, of self testing, and another in which she'd clung to her drab existence, afraid to try for more than the narrow goals set by the twin ideologies of materialism and consumerism.

The call of the wild eventually won her allegiance and she realized one morning, like a light going on, that rowing across the Atlantic might be her thing (she eventually did that, is next facing part three of her Pacific row, having completed two legs). What gave her some inspiration was a married couple had tried, and whereas the big strapping guy had wigged out (intense agoraphobia and claustrophobia, a double whammy), the plucky misses had completed the row by herself. Roz saw herself as petite, not an athlete, not a superhero, not incredibly brave. What she had was drive and a hunger to live her life fully. She needed a project, one that wouldn't hurt the Earth, would on the contrary help with its healing (the Hopi were an inspiration here).

I've tended to see Roz as the paradigm action figure in a series of storyboards involving energy accounting, a way to teach math where we convert joules and calories into work, measured in miles rowed, other output. These simple physical equations about humans working were and are the focus of my First Person Physics meme, what Dr. Bob Fuller picked up on and intelligently steered towards the NSF. We got a lot done, with Roz easy to point to as a source of inspiration. Having listened to her stories tonight, I am as persuaded as ever that here's a great way to teach math in a way that will speak to many people. Her Earth-friendly environmental message plants many good seeds. Lindsey Walker showed up in Portland from Savannah with a similar math-teaching paradigm around bicycle riding and towing (instead of rowing).

I was joined by one other Wanderer I recognized (Jay, likewise a fan), next ahead of me in line. When she signed my copy of her book, I brought up the shared memory of our Thanksgiving soiree two years ago. She had just attempted her first leg of the Pacific back then, had capsized in a storm, was still recovering, including financially as the rescue of her craft had proved expensive. Twas my privilege to join this appreciative audience in my own zip code area (97214), at Powell's on Hawthorne. Thank you Roz Savage. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wanderers 2009.10.7


Wanderers used a lot of the morning to appreciate Banksy's art and web site (two specimens above -- a scholar's excerpt).

We also drove through optical illusion country, looked at some political T-shirts at The Onion, a collection of funny grave stones. Jim Buxton brought has chantrelles today, an annual ritual. Mom will be pleased.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Odds 'n Ends


:: LW @ Angelo's (10/3) ::


We got the dishwasher fixed yesterday morning, thanks to expert tech support from Applicance World Services on SE Flavel. We're really happy to have that working again.

Replacing the motor was less wasteful given the rest of it is still in good shape, $170 for the part (Kitchenaid lists this company on its website).

Business meetings around 4D Studios are all about microphones and how to split, edit, recombine the audio tracks (plus I've toyed with the video feature on my cigarette pack sized Olympus Stylus). I suggested roping in the CTO but LW thought that might be overkill given we're still ramping up on Qbase. TC might be holding a puzzle piece?

CFO and I had a small repast on Hawthorne the other day, comparing notes. She's out of town quite a bit, in cities I've never seen except in movies or on TV.

I've noticed diversity-sig starting to come on-line and signaled other PSF members to consider joining, although with open archives, you needn't join to lurk.

This new Python group came on radar after alpha and beta versions of a PSF diversity statement had already surfaced, following Guido's request that we have one.

No, I've not seen the new Michael Moore film yet.

I've been studying the MMM slate some more, some prompted by our need for a clerk on QMP (looking to next year already) plus also wanting to sort out the liaison picture i.e. who's on first w/r to AFSC, FCNL, FWCC or whatever?

I've got the BCFM and NPYM positions with AFSC, but nothing going with MMM on that score. Yes, an alphabet soup -- yet another namespace shared by Friends (RSoF). If you poke around in these blogs or otherwise cross-reference, you'll find all these easy enough to decode.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Econovergence


:: econovergence (day two) ::

Given the title of this event, you'd expect to find some economists in the line-up, and indeed we have a couple of those leading our teach-in, here on the third floor of First Unitarian Church. Mom is the next speaker in this room.

The economist we just heard, Tom Palley (EDOS), thinks the USG wasn't aggressive enough in the face of the implosion and that we'll be suffering some more shock waves. As a GST guy (general systems theory) I compete with some schools of thought, ally with others. The sun is what energizes the earth, not money -- let's at least be clear about that.

The other economist, Helen Scharber (PERI), persuaded us the renewable energy investments create more interesting work opportunities than just dumping funds into oil and gas. That seems likely.

The Chinese system is helping to keep the USA's afloat. That probably means we should be listening to Chinese economists a lot more?

Lindsey asked about what political climate would be required to motivate the kinds of policies our panel was advising. If there's another down turn, that's certainly not a guarantee of a more healthy political climate (on the contrary...). She also questioned the rather nationalistic analysis in terms of this or that government's policies -- spoken like a true Global U student eh?

Tag and I found each other at the Free Food exhibit, sponsored by Urban Gleaners, while Lindsey tanked up on vegetables. Tag knows a lot of people here, given lots of overlap with PSU and the student / activist community.

Leslie Hickcox phoned me with her congratulations on Day One of Quarterly, of which she managed to catch a part, in addition to making the Costco run more productive and enjoyable.

Speaking of congratulations, Don Wardwell has his boat back in the water. He and Barry have been working hard on hull restoration. He phoned from Island Cafe today, first time in awhile.

Mom's WILPF group began with a Raging Grannies number. Then she took us down memory lane, reminding us of Portland's resistance to the Pentagon's pet civil defense program (bomb shelters, duck & cover, other Atomic Cafe style nuclear madness). The article in question: Portland -- the City that Chose Sanity instead of Fear by Carol Urner, Fellowship of Reconciliation magazine, January, 1965, page 11.

Portland is now remembered for being a small bubble of sanity in an intellectually lazy Lower48 (not that different from now in some ways). She also mentioned Doug Strain and that Tektronix guy, and Senator Mark O. Hatfield (R), who helped keep Oregon from buying into the military-industrial complex.

This workshop may touch on how some of that self-discipline may be slipping. There's the new army trucks contract (Daimler), the drones by Boeing (cowardly killer or spy?). No mention of Evergreen though.

Barbara is going over the USG budget. 66.3% of the spending is towards mandatory items (vs. discretionary, the various entitlements and interest on the national debt).

The DoD budget runs around $533.7B, with $23.4B for DoE. $130B goes to discretionary occupations, sorry sad imperial crap, a lot of it highly questionable not to mention dishonorable. $9.66B for intelligence (so-called). Lots more numbers going by -- back to entitlements again (veterans, interest etc.).

We have brown envelopes to open with faux defense contracts enclosed. These states could've had a lot more health care and education if not blowing money on ill-advised, loser escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan. We get to affix these contracts to maps of Oregon and Washington at the front of the room.

Someone just handed me a leaflet about the Ralph Nader talk tomorrow. Portland is certainly a happening place this weekend.