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


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:


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?