Sunday, October 22, 2017

Catching Up

I claim to enjoy browsing a lot, since well before web browsers, but when do I get the time?  Well, today for example, I left my Stetson at Hop House and used that as an excuse to wander on to Common Ground, the coffee shop with the most magazines on upper Hawthorne.

I ordered a whole pot of coffee, to counteract the beers, and read up on Sleep Science, VP Pence, and former US president Hoover, not necessarily in that order.  This was all in the one issue of New Yorker, October 23, 2017.

At the Hop House, with Glenn, I picked up a pamphlet on Falun Dafa. I've been looking at this practice though a framework of comparisons with Hizmet. 

Both religious movements were at first embraced by their respective governments, Turk and Chinese, then demonized.  Turkey holds US citizens hostage hoping to extradite Gulen in exchange.

I was unaware that Hoover had been a mining engineer.  His determination to feed Belgium at the height of the blockade jibed with Human Smoke and his Quaker values.  He seemed happiest and/or most fulfilled when serving as some kind of chief of logistics. 

I'll need to cycle back through his bio again soon.

Mike Pence, per this New Yorker analysis, has always been interested in serving as a US president.  He's a heartbeat away at this moment, but at a time when said high office is waning in power?  The west coast has escaped Prohibition (the later chapter) and no longer supports the Drug Wars unless that means against McKesson etc.

I don't just browse print media however.  Last night I was half comatose letting Youtube keep picking the next one.  I'd surface from my somnolent state from time to time, curious what I'd been brainwashing myself with.  Louis Farrakhan?  Just his fans?  Back to dream land. 

I have a big screen facing me, while I recline on the futon couch.

I'm also active on my Kindle these days reading a Hoover Institution fellow's book from the 1990s, Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell

He seems respectful of Bayard Rustin, who had Freedom House connections.  Freedom House is quoted in that Falun Gong brochure, attesting to the reality of organ harvesting.  That calls to mind another Youtube.

I visited Indiana around the time Pence made himself more enemies in the alt-gender community.  I guess it's OK with him to do that.  He defines himself as rigidly parochial Christian, not a cosmopolitan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Social Contracts

A lot of journalists are reporting that, given the Equifax data breach, banks are now off the hook if they mistake you for me, and open an account for the wrong person.  Who can really tell these days right?

I say "nice try" but the rules have changed, given now we know what they told us was secret no longer is.  So issue new credentials?  Think of new ways to establish trust?  The bitcoin people do this all the time, and yet only get flak for it from the supposedly security-minded banks.

Now that we all know an identity is easy to forge, that currency, trafficked in by Equifax, has been thoroughly debased.  Don't believe lawyers who say banks are protected from complicity in fraud if they do not exercise due diligence.

What due diligence meant then, and what it means now, given the balls that've been dropped, is a whole new ball game.  Many conventional / routine transactions may no longer have that flavor.  It's not just "the masses" who've realized the credit game has turned some corner.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

October 13

jackbhutan

In the year 2000 on this day, on one of many trips to nearby Bloemfontein, my parents, in their Kia SUV, encountered a pickup coming the other way in their lane.

I flew to South Africa.  Mom had survived.

We remember Jack on this day.  I arranged for his memorial service in Maseru and was graciously hosted and helped by many who knew him.

My sister came after about a month and took over, helping Carol get back to the Pacific coast, where she lives today.

Dad had a pacemaker and low blood pressure, so chances are he wouldn't have made it to today. Women outlive their men for the most part.

Here's a link to an on-line bio.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize went to I-CAN this year, an organization with which my mom has worked, given the abolition of nuclear weapons is core to the WILPF agenda as well.

The award was well-timed to help focus international attention on the UN treaty to ban nuclear  weapons.

Organized crime rules the planet, often in the guise of religion.  However the rule of law has made some gains in certain pockets or niches.

The old USA was a champion of the rule of law, and democracy in many minds, until it got taken over by oligarchs and plutocrats.  Organized crime is in control again, hiding behind the veneer of legality, an increasingly thin disguise.

Absent much moral authority, the imposter government continues in a farcical manner, a scary clown.  People still interested in advancing democratic values have had to reorganize, to get out from under a failed nation-state system.

The icons and symbols, such as the Stars & Stripes, remain important.  Their meanings continue to shift, as global humanity seeks a new equilibrium.

The illegal war of aggression against Iraq, into which the American people were railroaded, pretty much broke what remained of a working democracy.  The descent into despotism has been ugly, to say the least.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Five Dimensions of Python

Understand that I'm using the term "dimension" loosely, perhaps to structure a TED Talk, or TEDx or something similar.

The Roman orator, Cicero a role model, learned to break it down into chunks.  If the chunks were too fine:  a host of problems.  Too big:  problems there too.

The goal of the accomplished orator was to get the chunk size "just right" for the intended audience.

The first dimension is like your utility belt, so close to home base you consider its content basic, and full of "built-ins" as these tools are called.

Here is your basic vocabulary for bootstrapping all the rest.  Any classic Python shell provides them natively.

In __builtins__ you get your "import" (for expanding the vocabulary) and your "open" (for streaming), your several workhorse types: list and range (sequences), some number types (int, float, bool), the string type (str, another sequence), the dictionary (dict) and the set (the not-sequences or mappings).

Functions such as "iter" "next" and "divmod" grace the builtins, with "property" a built-in class (used as a decorator when the time comes).  The large number of built-in exceptions are not "junk DNA" but rather the signalling system used to recover gracefully from inevitable glitches.

Before dimension one though, is dimension zero: the keywords. Forgive me for going out of sequence.  The builtins are actually somewhat easier to grasp, as objects, than these more ephemeral tokens of the Python grammar.  Words like "if" "else" and "lambda".

In any case, I propose we should number our dimensions from zero like Python does.

Dimension Zero are the keywords and related punctuation, such as colon, square brackets, quote marks (single and double, then triple of either).  Dimension Zero provides the original syntax you'll need to structure your programs, to tell a story of what happens among its several players (the objects).

Only three of the keywords are uppercase: True, False and None.  About 35 in all, for looping, branching, making functions and classes (callables).  No keyword is a callable.  In prehistoric Python, before the great leap, "print" was a keyword, yet today is a built-in function.

By dimension two, we're looking at "special names" (or call them __ribs__), provided by the language, meaning new ones get added from version to version, but they're not for the Python coder to create.

Like the keywords and builtins, we accept them as given.  They have that funny look:  __getitem__, __getattr__, __setitem__, __setattr__ ... __add__, __mul__ and __call__.  With these "puppet strings" we're able to control the behavior of our objects down to the syntactical level.

What should be the effect of using square brackets right up against my objects?  What should it do when "called" with curved parentheses?  How should two objects of my own devising interpret the addition or multiplication operator?

I'm empowered to devise alternative languages, or to approximate existing ones more closely. M1 @ M2 might result in matrix multiplication, while (f * g)(x) might be massaged to mean the same as f(g(x)).

Such sinewy flexibility, built right in to the language, could easily become a justification for the snake motif.  A snake is a subtype of dragon.  Perhaps Python has the connotation of "dragon language" in a more Chinese take on computer science.

Dimension three: the Standard Library.  Here, with "batteries included" we reach a frontier.  Any Python distribution is likely to come with all of the above, after which we reach dimension four.

Dimension four includes anything from simple one-module libraries, to frameworks and distributions.  One might further differentiate between these levels, however keeping it all zero to four has its advantages.

When I teach Python to others, I'll be specific about these dimensions and then begin spiraling in all five over time.

In a given lesson, we'll add a couple more keywords here, a special name there, a built-in, and then a module.

By "add" I mean "add to the student's knowledge base" i.e. to the student's awareness of a complete ecosystem, still evolving. Python is a moving target, but it's never too late to catch up.

Even core Python is evolving, both as a language specification and in terms of its implementations.

Python has been implemented in C, C#, Java (Jython) and in a more simplified version of itself (PyPy).  Python has likely been implemented in languages I don't know about.

Then we have Cython, a superset of Python with more compile time goodness.

We should expect people not that conversant with this variegated geography (territory) to get somewhat lost in it sometimes.

Partly why I offer these simplifying schematics and "dimension talk" is to tame the wilderness or wildness (entropy) and bring some order out of chaos.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Curriculum Segments


Above:  Discussing issues of scope, comparing and contrasting the block-based MIT Scratch with Python in Codesters.

Below:  giving a sense of where it goes after Codesters.


Then I continue demonstrating what object oriented programming looks like, comparing the Spyder and Codester IDEs.

This sequence continues in Control Room.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Business Meeting

I don't think P&SC has had enough time to address the Chelsea Manning affair at Harvard, in which somehow Morell got mixed up. We do have a minute asking Friends Everywhere to consider the newly minted UN treaty banning (criminalizing) nuke WMDs.  That'd be a step beyond banning bio and chemo, except for authorized doctor use in the war on cancer, other diseases.  Nuclear medicine is still OK.

I'm planning to bring Deviled Eggs to potluck, there being no prohibition against same, the name notwithstanding. We're considered Liberal Friends, meaning eggs "of the Devil" have not been banned, and indeed they usually go quickly, either alone or as an ingredient with potato salad, like Sonya does.

I once had a long conversation with Christine, not a big believer, thinking the kitchen conversation she'd recounted was with Sonya, not Sonja -- we have both.  Silly me for getting the whole scene wrong in my head.  We've all gotta watch that.  Constructing one's own reality (liberals believe in constructivism usually, per Piaget), is a weighty responsibility, as any weighty Friend worth her salt will attest.

I did my walking meditation up the mountain this morning, which sounds so dramatic. Mt. Tabor is the neighborhood hill, full of decorative lakes, a tribute to Portland's former glory when, like ancient Rome, it enjoyed an entirely gravity fed water system.  Engineers may be forgiven for not having the training and background to keep that up into the 21st century.  We switched over to pump-driven because that's what engineers today can understand.

The new sandals from Bi-Mart are on a maiden voyage this morning, as boats for my feet.  Time to visit Fred Meyer, a Kroger brand shopping center, for the requisite deli offering.

Carol is here with complete versions of the UN Nuke Weapons Ban Treaty, ready for distribution at Business Meeting after potluck.  Quakers know nation-states thrive in war mode, like a drug, and have no ability to go cold turkey where WMDs are concerned.  However, we've been able to orchestrate a gradually introduced safety and security program wherein we safeguard future generations from our radio-toxic stockpiles.

Containing fires in the heavy element sphere has not been our forte.  Chernobyl, Fukushima, Three Mile Island... how many others don't we know about?  The tick tick ticking of the time bomb nuclei, nano-hazards, have been released and the genii won't go back in the bottle.  Yes they occur naturally in some cases.  In other cases, you need a freak of nature, like hominid species of a self-destructive bent.  Then there's the depleted uranium issue.  Lots to study at OSU.

Multnomah Friends Meeting is based in Portland, Oregon.

Lastly, for today, a brought a free sample of C6XTY for the kid programs, letting them know there's more where that came from if there's interest.  I have exhibits I could bring in.  Friday was a gala event wherein we got the super bowl commercials in the can.  Just kidding.  This stuff is a tad esoteric for the NFL.  When it comes to soccer clubs on the other hand...

I'm literally in the meetinghouse on Stark Street as I write this.  This used to be Doug Strain's electronics factory (his company's) and Jantzen's before that (swimwear factory).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

FrackNation (movie review)

This documentary is a direct response to the award winning Gasland by Josh Fox.

I recommend viewing it.

did a lot of homework, starting with Kickstarter.

The director engages in a point by point refutation of the Josh Fox documentary.

I notice there's a Gasland 2 out by now.  I haven't seen it yet.

I'm all for public debate about public policy.

The MSM comes in for some severe criticism in this film as well, especially the NYT.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Task Management

Conway's Law says organizations reflect outwardly how they communicate inwardly, and that gets me thinking about task management both individually and at more collective levels.

How we write computer programs may have an impact on how we conceptualize about multi-tasking more generally. That's something I sometimes talk about with Dr. David DiNucci. He was at Wanderers this evening, which adjourned early on account of unhealthy air quality.

In the Python asynchronous model, a Task is like an egg working towards hatching, with an event loop scheduler checking each egg, almost round robin, until any one of them cracks.

The syntax expresses putting a wind-up toy into the mix, but how fast it unwinds depends on many environmental factors, such as the slowness, or speed, of the network.

Tick tick tick go the eggs, somewhat like time bombs but we want and expect them to go off eventually, and each one is enveloped in a waiting handler, less a callback function than a surrounding context, the enveloping Task.

However, Python's means of maximizing or optimizing a single thread is only the beginning.  Spawning threads and processes is likewise possible, using tools from the same asyncio library or other places.

A procrastinator will often beat himself or herself up for delaying an important task just thought of, however queuing up stuff to do later is likewise a signature activity of the self-organized.  Putting things off is not a dodge, but intelligent scheduling.

Let tasks come to you and don't feel compelled to jump up and immediately attend to them in the order dreamed. Acting immediately is what we call "impulsive" and many seemingly important tasks will appear "half baked" looking back.

Doing jobs in the same order you think of them may be a higher risk lifestyle than you need indulge in, is the mantra here.

Go ahead and stay in the lotus position, even if your jobs queue grows in the meantime. You'll need downtime to optimize.  Seeing how to kill many virtual birds, with no real birds harmed in the process, with one stone, will be your saving grace in many cases.

Yes, sometimes we need fast reflexes to take over.  Things do happen too fast for a lot of, or any, conscious consideration sometimes.  However don't treat your whole life like a twitch game.  Practice the art of creative delay i.e. scheduling.  Computers do it.  Multitasking is a science and an art.  Learn to both divide, and undivide, your attention.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Abducted!



stage.set_background("summer")

nyc_girl = codesters.Sprite("person10", -100, -100)
girl2 = codesters.Sprite("person7", 50, -100)

ufo = codesters.Sprite("ufo")
ufo.glide_to(100, 200)

nyc_girl.say("OMG! What's that???")
stage.wait(2)
girl2.say("I think it's a flying saucer!!!")
stage.wait(2)

nyc_girl.say("")
girl2.say("")

ufo.glide_to(-400, 200)

def click():
    x = stage.click_x()
    y = stage.click_y()
    ufo.glide_to(x, y)
    # add other actions...
    
stage.event_click(click)

def space_bar():
    nyc_girl.jump(1)
    # add other actions...
    
stage.event_key("space", space_bar)


def enter_key():
    nyc_girl.hide()
    # add other actions...
    
stage.event_key("enter", enter_key)

def up_key():
    girl2.jump(1)
  
    
stage.event_key("up", up_key)

def down_key():
    girl2.hide()
    # add other actions...
    
stage.event_key("down", down_key)

def a_key():
    # add other actions...
    stage.set_background("moon")
    ufo.glide_to(0,0)
    ufo.glide_to(0,100)
    girl2.show()
    nyc_girl.show()
    nyc_girl.glide_to(-100, -100)
    girl2.glide_to(50, -100)
    nyc_girl.say("OK, so now what?")
    
stage.event_key("n", a_key)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Amish Mafia

I'm not calling this a movie review because we're talking about a made-for-TV series, meaning we bypassed the old-timey big screen theater distribution networks (e.g. Miramax) and went straight to cable (which includes satellite and optical fiber).  Netflix tends to pick it up from there (just kidding, we have lots of subnets, very diverse).

In any case, I'm finding myself pleasantly entertained by this pseudo-documentary genre, many faces blurred to protect the innocent.  Amish maybe get some protection from English viewers, and we the English get to see our Mafia turf wars transposed into an innocent key, with buggy races not allowed in Levi's court. Merlin, an Ohio rival, another Mafia boss, muscles in.

I rented this first season alongside season two of Fear the Walking Dead, picking up at the coastline, now that our families have escaped the LA zone.

However it's not like I have oodles of hours to watch soap operas.  I'm doing full time work with a rush hour on both ends, ala the North American fossil-fueled nightmare (not complaining). Amish Mafia + Mennonite helps this old bones Quaker unwind a bit before midnight or whatever Zs time.

What stretches credibility is that a documentary film crew would get just this angle, with intimate relationship scenes on the Sarasota beach (no worries, everyone stays fully clothed). Why would Levi allow cameras?  Actually that makes plenty of sense: he covers his butt as Amish special operations, given he's never really alone with her. They're all using the film crew to tell their side of it.  We're the ET observers.

John the malcontent-in-trouble is hilarious, as is the Mennonite intense. I know these people, have met them many times.  The eternal vibe in this transposition is what makes it both Biblical and high comedy all in an anthropological bundle.

I love it when they speak Dutch, so Afrikaner in some ways, said the Englishman, right?  Actually the Afrikaners don't equate USAers with UKers, remembering some earlier conflict I suppose.  I've written on that topic more elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Skin Color

Struggle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Foam


Balls in Backyard

C6XTY

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Summer Camp Fun


Summer Camp is primarily focussed on MIT Scratch.

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

Snap in Arabic

Friday, August 04, 2017

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

International School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 31, 2017

Food Fight

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Investments

Ritzy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dawn and Family

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rocky Horror Picture Show (movie review)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Audience Participation

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Coursera Homework


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

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

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Retro Coding

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

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

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

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

For example: 

$ ./get_chem.py Au 

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

Server and Client 

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

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


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

looking up an element through localhost

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

Serving Data

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

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

On the Banks of the Tigris (movie review)


The Portland Blues Festival kicked off today and our Hawthorne bus 14 moved slowly across the bridge, stuck in traffic.

I was on my way to Rogue Hall to meet up with Dr. Tagrid Khuri of Portland State University.  Our plan: to see this award winning movie at the Clinton Street Theater (Tag was expecting outdoor live Arabic music, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but never mind).

The film is a work in ethnography, more specifically ethnomusicology. A lot of the folk music of Iraq traces to Iraqi Arab Jews, who knew?  They fled Iraq en masse, after some two thousand years by the Tigris, starting in the early 1950s, some looking for a new life in the newly established state of Israel.

The Ba'athists seemed keen on erasing cultural memory, but music and memes are more powerful than mere politics.  Enforced ignorance doesn't last.

The film is the result of a collaboration between a Muslim Iraqi refugee, Majid Shokor, living in Australia, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, and an Ashkenazi Jewish woman, Marsha Emerman, with experience making documentary films.

The project took about ten years to complete.  This was not a first screening by any means, but was a strategic one, with Emerman joining by Skype from Victoria, British Columbia, fielding questions.

The film succeeds in conveying the respect musicians have for their music, in ways that transcend ethnicity.

The opportunity to share memories, life stories, in a relatively safe environment, comforted by familiar tunes, brings out the best in people.  The film is uplifting, as well as informative.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Smith Rock

One of the great joys in getting married is the merging of families that occurs.  In Dawn's case, I lucked out big time, with her brother Sam and partner Judy, musically minded creators of a new scene in Sisters, Camp Sherman more specifically, in the Metolius watershed.  I also met Elise and then Les, that wonderful family. 

Dawn's extended family went to Indiana, Pennsylvania (a town).  We spread her ashes there in 2009, following a Chicago Pycon.  Tara and Alexia were with me then too.

Compared to our city rat lifestyle, as non-profit hub managers (CUE and so on), Sam & Judy were the rustic true pioneers, living off the grid as year round caretakers of the lovely Dahl Ranch, in a time when the surrounding forest was lush.  They hewed their own firewood, kept the swimming pool operational.

Later, Sam, a skilled indoor finish carpenter, built a house for the two of them.  Judy's mother joined them later.  She died in the same Partners in Care facility Sam did, same room.  That was on Gold Coach road, in a gorgeous patch of country.

Just an hour ago I headed over to Smith Rock for some memories.  The two sisters (Tara and Alexia) are exploring somewhere in the area.

Radio is important here, and music.  I'm listening to Psychedelic Protest on KPOV FM, a show sometimes hosted by the Smith's friend Steven.  Mad Dog is hosting today.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Decorating a Circle

When I teach about Python decorators, I often use the extended metaphor of "being abducted by a UFO".

In science fiction, the abductee is subtly or not so subtly transformed by the abduction experience. What's important is they come back as still themselves, which parallels decorated callables retaining their original names.

In the video below I'm using the @property decorator to show how a Circle type might update its inter-related attributes through setter method calls behind the scenes.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Wonder Woman (movie review)

A Visitor

I wasn't planning on seeing this today. I'd RSVPed on the Flying Circus meetup downtown. Then came a knock at the door and there was Lindsey Walker, whom I'd not seen since last year.

We had tea on Division at our usual spot where she showed me pictures of her new place, austere and functional, in Kathmandu. Turned out she was curious about Wonder Woman also.

Probably the Bible families won't be too bent out of shape as the somewhat Bollywood style Greek mythology reiterates the Paradise Lost theme of Lucifer, jealous of God's love for his homely creature, Man.

Aries (lets call him Mars) is a died-in-the-wool misanthropist, and what is War (a favorite form of theater) if not misanthropic?

Wonder Woman is on the side of good as we slide back in time to the World War One era.

Mars is having a field day and the job of these Amazon women is to defend humans, innately good, from his manipulating.  Or so the children are told.

As Wonder Woman grows wiser she realizes Mars is a pretty good prosecuting attorney and humans somewhat deserve the fate they choose for themselves, and indeed they're somewhat loathsome.

Lindsey and I agreed it was all on the corny side, but then we're talking about a comic book after all.  Serious-minded theologians are not a primary audience.

We're more into learning about puberty and putting our childhood toy stories to bed.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

From Forum 206

I haven't posted much about factoring quadratics, but would for one take a group theory approach if following the forking-off Lambda Calc track after Algebra, more vocational than Delta Calc (Calculus), in the sense of straight-to-job, minus college, for more trainees.

You've got the JS + HTML + CSS, what more could you need? Of course plenty, and many will head back to college or code school or whatever, but the meaning of "vocational" still pertains. You get some paid work as a front and back end developer, applying your high school degree, and afford college later, where you go into Physics, say.

Where I'd go with quadratics is full bore into History as I think it's a travesty how we try to tease apart maths from any cultural context. Enough with the "universal language" already, if that means Greek metaphysics about infinite planes "existing". That's philosophy, so any PhD will be able to defend these theses of plane geometry (Euclidean), but lets not pretend that they're not cultural, and that mathematics is not as multi-cultural as Manhattan.

The fierce "game show" competitions on the Italian peninsula, to factor polynomials in contest, complete with pro wrestler style champions and death bed secrets (algorithms) is all too much to pass up. Then we roll forward to Galois, who scribbles some final words on Galois Theory before defending his honor in some dark ages duel to the death. Bleep over all that? Not unless you're into "history avoidance" which math geeks are often guilty of, but not in my course, no way.

I like showing a Polynomial class in Python, complete with some Newton's Method type convergence algorithm for finding roots even when factoring is nigh impossible. I've got this in my archive somewhere. [0]

At least lets tell them about the limits to factoring. And don't wait until some bitter end to share the quadratic equation, making it some punch line after slogging through months of seeking roots by other means.

I'm into spending a lot more time with primes versus composites, Euclid's Method, because I'm heading to RSA (public key crypto), like they do in Mathematics for the Digital Age (Bob and I both like it, although I do class-oriented coding much earlier in the deck, see my Fraction [1]). RSA is a capstone "thing to get" in the aforementioned text, used at Phillips / Andover. I teach crypto too, had for years before I saw that book. [2]

Why Euclid's Method to get the GCD over factoring into primes? Because factoring fizzles long before EM. Then there's the extended version (EEM). Check Knuth. These are the algorithms they're gonna need. As a mammal to other mammals: don't let them write that off as "just computer science" in their snobby mathy way.

Kirby

[0] http://4dsolutions.net/ocn/python/

[1] https://repl.it/H7VF/12

[2] http://4dsolutions.net/ocn/crypto0.html

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Radar Blips

In case you're a long time reader of this blog, or a relative newcomer with a Sherlock Holmes bent, wanting to piece it all together like a Russian novel of interweaving scenarios, let me look at some loose ends.

The pristine wood hull motor boat that featured often in blog posts and pictures, especially in warmer weather, is still with us, but under repair.  A boat seeing as much use as that one, way above average, incurs wear and tear. The only real question is whether anyone around is skilled enough and has the time. Don and Barry have been on it.

Also speaking of Barry, his big project to keep himself in shape and amused was to convert a legacy motorcycle, a big one, into something two-wheeled yet enclosed.  The prototype has been test driven, however the loose end is I've not been present to photo-document anything.  It's front-heavy on steering and a next iteration is planned.

Former housemates have been meeting among themselves, crossing paths at different times. Jen has moved to California with Yarrow, growing up.  Melody drove down there and visited.  Maybe Lindsey got there later?  I'm not in her loop.

Speaking of Lindsey, a looped through her music on Facebook again, spiraling through some of her showtime posters.  She was a keyboardist / singer with a big love for her drum machine.  With me as chauffeur, she could pull off real gigs.  Archive.org has her at the Egyptian Room in Portland (long gone).

My two daughters are both working hard in their respective roles.  We've been sharing developments on email with Carol (mom) and my sister Julie.

Today we had some tense times downtown thanks to various rallies and counter-rallies.  We seem to be forgetting the past and dooming ourselves to its repetition but then history doesn't repeat, not really.  OK somewhat it does.

Patrick bounced down there on foot, busing back.  We're both yammering about Python this week, in a code school setting.  I'm studying his textbook, to which I contributed, plus we both learned from Steve Holden, author of an earlier curriculum we both used, when mentoring for O'Reilly School (since closed).

Speaking of Steve Holden, you'll find where he bounced out to the West Coast for meetups and business, but he's a citizen of the UK and has lived there for some time.  We see each other on Facebook and like that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dress Rehearsal

Relax into Knowing

Speaking of a dropping Portland IQ, lets focus on mine.

What does it say that I was fully cognizant up to some point, that I would not be needed in Lake Oswego today (because the course ended last week) but that I nevertheless dutifully drove to Laurelhurst, as if today were tomorrow.

I got all dressed up, in my collar shirt, smarty pants, and badge.  Fought traffic (was traffic). Finally figured it out.  The booby prize goes to me.

Hey, we all make mistakes.  Today was the day.  Actually it's already tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dropping IQ in Portland?

They say the creatives are leaving, force out by higher rents, as the narrow thinkers take over to pursue ever narrower lives.

But is that true?

One sign of a dropping collective IQ is the water system.  Portland had a variance exempting it from having to treat for a specific parasite, one that hadn't been a problem, until now.

The city decided to take its working reservoir system and replace it with an underground one, following instructions from The District, the lowest IQ zone in the nation.

The parasite has since been detected, the variance lost.

The Lloyd Center gutted itself of movie theaters at the Food Court level.  Concessions have left blank holes.  I guess the whole food court thing isn't making sense to people?

How can they shop until they drop?

Let's hope I'm wrong.

Carol spent the day at Lloyd Center, getting new glasses at Lenscrafters.  The moment she got home, without dropping them, the lens fell out.  Then she noticed the frame was cracked, who knows for how long.

We're driving back there now.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pycon: Looking Back


Pycon was very sciency this time, and I'm plenty glad about that. We're up to developing 3.7 around now, with a lot of emphasis on asynchronous capabilities.  That's event loop programming, not unlike event-driven GUI programming, indeed it's the same (to some degree).

Most the examples seem to focus on network probes, and how those might take forever.  An await state keeps something trying, working to fulfill some promise, complete some task, even while other coroutines get on with their business.

The paradigm of multi-threading is germane, it's just Python takes responsibility for expressing how the players should share, leaving the operating system to think in terms of a single process.

One of the keynotes was an astronomer, another a nuclear physicist engineer, studying the complete fuel cycle, from cradle to grave.  We flashed on pictures of space telescopes, like the Hubble, the Hubble itself (still operational in 2017), and considered how Python is a boon to the scientific community.

I got to meet with the SciPy / Cuba guy, Olemis Lang.  He's facing some of the same logistics encountered by Steve Holden, former PSF chairman and conference organizer (starting with Pycon itself). I'd be his sidekick through some of these events, taking in the business in a more backseat driver role.

Ed Leaf and I reminisced about FoxPro quite a bit, another coding language community that went through phases.  "Every language has its story" I remind my "Python radio" audience (really more like TV).

Jeff Elkner of edu-sig came through as well.  This was during booth and poster time.  CS is now well-established throughout the states, lets assume, at the level of standards (what Jeff has been helping with, in Virginia especially), but on-the-ground implementation is another story.  Urban versus rural: it makes a difference.

Bridging to the agricultural sector(s) is a big part of what open source is all about these days, because agriculture, bar none, is a science, from population genetics to pathology (we also compared notes with Sheri Dover, also a scientist by training, and code school insider), to business management.

If interested in the Cuba stuff specifically, remember python-cuba is an open archive, as is edu-sig. Some years ago, Pythonistas came to the realization the Cuba could be another Python hub, given proper care and nurturing by the various users already there.

Python use is skyrocketing thanks to a vibrant ecosystem and ways of making science journal articles come alive with Jupyter Notebook versions. Share the data, share the process, with your peers.

Mostly I served as sidekick to Dr. Charles Crosse, a physicist by training, adventurous and risk-taking by temperament, with experiences as far off the beaten trail in Guyana as it's possible to get (a world of river rapids, crocodiles, anacondas...).  He'd served in the Peace Corps in Kenya before that.

His infrastructure for governing access to elective cyberspace, based on fulfilling requirements (buying time), was completely working as a prototype.  He'd ported some puzzles from SugarLabs. Reading assignments complete with fill in the blank follow-up / recalls could be generated on the fly. We did one on Isaac Newton, as a test.

The gist:  a server in France provided "bird feeder" credits towards keeping the router open for other purposes. Developers, supported by consciously allocated subscriptions or purchases, build these life-giving games (we're talking about cyber-lives, time on the Internet, not miracle cures, not snake oil), whereby students net metered credits, the currency of "staying on-line through this particular router".

Of course it's easy to bypass a router, a Raspberry Pi in this case, but that's all family politics. Once a given router is accepted as a valid player, according to whatever rules, one has incentive to rack up higher scores.  I see plenty of applications to Coffee Shops Network, which features charitable giving games, a casino to benefit the deserving recipients of winners' winnings.

The job fair booth people have to answer whether their place of work allows remoting in from places like San Antonio.  Do they have telecommuters?  I was tied to the poster, complete with working Pi and slaved tablets (representing metered clients), so took my job booth pictures mostly during setup, when I was free to roam.  I fetched Charles a couple turkey sandwiches before they all disappeared.

My transition to post conference mode involved taking the Max downtown with Charles for a hand off to Luciano outside the Apple Store, after which I Maxed it back to maxi taxi and headed for the FredMeyer rooftop parking slots.  David Koski was there on Hawthorne at Fresh Pot, embedded in Powells, across from Bagdad.  He was touring in the area.  We walked backed to the car through Freddies, purchasing coffee and shaving cream.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

As the World Turns


Coming back to a certain soap opera, yes, I remember when the president elect said he was completely in support of Flynn talking to Russians. As incoming National Security dude, that was his role, and he was ramping up in a conscientious fashion, as a key player on the transition team.

Pizzagate got in the way, and Flynn came across as less than fully candid to the Veep, and Trump needed Pence, even more than Flynn, to stay on board. However Trump was forthcoming with the media, which he loathes as we know, that he didn't think Flynn's sin arose from his interaction with Russian counterparts.  That part was just a future National Security advisor doing his job.

Now Trump is accused of being like Flynn, doing what Flynn himself was accused of.  The difference: Trump is president.  He gets to exercise his own judgement, and that's precisely where everyone wants to rein him in.  As president, he gets a national security team to defend the office. Flynn didn't have the home court advantage.

As the plot continues to thicken, everyone needs to second guess this rich uncle who has stumbled into the White House, to everyone's surprise, and now gets to pull the levers of power.

Democracy means you get a lot of back seat drivers.

However now that we're an oligarchy (according to many studies), mirroring Russia's (kleptocratic), those busybody back seaters may be safely ignored, at least for longer.

So now, in that light, with such history now remembered, we're hearing from the ex FBI Director that Trump really hoped this was not going to be a witch burning of his friend Flynn.

This was right after the sacking.  Flynn had already paid a high price, and forfeited a job to which he had been much looking forward.  Had he sounded reassuring, even conciliatory on the phone?  We wanted more saber rattling?  And who are the "we" in this picture?

Everything had turned to ashes for the guy already, so why make it worse?

A president is allowed to express (confess?) his loyalty and hopeful feelings, as if to a confidant. Maybe Comey would be that?  Too early to know, in those days.  He didn't want to pursue Hillary any further either, despite the large number of jackals in his own camp, happy to do just that.

And now, lo these many months later, everyone is looking back at those episodes and thinking, aha, more proof of sneaky connivance, colluding or whatever.

The media hates Trump for all the insults he's heaped upon them.  He's not at all polite, like Obama was, except we call that being "politically correct" i.e. "civil" which to many ears sounds too insincere to pass muster.

Hence Trump's win in the Electoral College (maybe with a little help from voter roll purges, the FBI is still looking into that right?).

CNN especially has been the lap dog of monster GRUNCH, according to these anonymous sources. However we can't blame that on Ted Turner, an American oligarch, as he's a founder, not a daily operations guy by 2017.

Nor does it make sense to blame Time-Warner, a literally soulless corporation, even if metaphorically "a person" in anthropological literature (aka "voodoo economics").

The soap opera is one of aggrieved parties seeking vengeance, each hoping to do the neighbor in.

There's a certain awkwardness about fighting dinosaurs.  The ground trembles and it's all very dramatic.  That sells product, especially soap (politics feels so unclean sometimes).

The economy cranks ahead, one day at a time, as the world turns.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Coffee Shop Networking

Arduino Environment

The clouds really let loose while I sat looking out the window of Common Grounds, here on Hawthorne Boulevard, Asylum District, Portland, Oregon.

Lightning flashed, and the power went out, twice. Thanks to some electrical issue in my Mac Air — not the battery — a power out entails a reboot.

I was productive anyway though: I plowed through several lectures on Arduino programming, continuing with the MOOC I'm taking through Coursera; submitted an invoice for recent work; edited Wikipedia, adding how Python implements partial application of arguments to functions, resulting in new functions.

Fellow Wanderer Dr. DiNucci is here. I invited him to dinner at Szechuan Chef, I'm hoping with Alex. We're always looking for excuses for Szechuan cuisine, and miss Lucky Strike being so close by.

Alex confirms that was Yangsi Rinpoche I got to meet at Dwaraka briefly, back in April.  He's like the headmaster at Maitripa College, which I visited a week ago tomorrow.

What I need to get clearer on is how the Arduino IDE uses something like Processing to end up with C.  We tend to call Arduino programs "sketches", the same word Shiffman uses when teaching about vectors, acceleration and forces in his Coding Train videos.

I've been sharing my enthusiasm for the Shiffman syllabus on math-teach, and also on The Physics Learning Research List. He's one of several Youtube math teachers I consider talented. Eugene Khutoryansky is another.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Philosophizing


I'm likely offending some of the more idolatrous, with this Pastafarian sermon, one might call it, on Synergetics no less. Cinco de Mayo was a productive day for me, in terms of getting out three videos for the Synergetics 200 playlist (on Youtube).

In Western Civ at least, the sciences purposely developed a certain edginess with respect to religion, as a matter of asserting a human freedom to speculate.  Thinking outside the box may seem a threat to in-the-box thinkers, though more likely they'll take no notice.  I make reference to Descartes' apparent worries, that his discoveries outside the recognized canon of authorities might get him in trouble.

Dr. William Martin, whom I also mention in my talk, had just given a cogent lecture the night before, about how cell-based autonomous programmable life forms could have developed on the sea floor and in the crust.  He sees the chemistry as hardwired to move in that direction, given the right preconditions.

The black smoker type vents were maybe not as prototypical of the earliest RNA World apartment as the undersea vents later discovered and named Lost City by the community.

Sulfur, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen all play a serious role, with catalyzing metals helping organic reactions flow towards life forms.

On the other hand, scientists would likely find Fuller's U = MP too much the transcendentalist fantasy, regarding some aspect of being that's weightless, non-energetic.  We've been pretty strict of late about keeping "meta" away from "physical" -- although "metadata" has not been a problem.

Any talk of some "metaphysical" aspect of Universe sounds too ghostly to be a science, to postmodernist ears.  All the more reason to usher philosophy back into the picture.

In addition, Synergetics seems atavistic for its fascination with polyhedrons.  Didn't philosophy outgrow such toys long ago?  Many grownups seem to think so.  Polyhedrons feature at best in recreational mathematics, as hobbyist devices.

The basic process in Dr. Martin's view is for cells to break free of their towering infernos, or incubators more accurately, they'd need to incorporate the catalyzing metal function, which is to maintain voltage pressure across a membrane.

Protons (hydrogen ions) want in, driving the ATP generator, ATP Synthase.  Those ATP pathways may seem too complex to be that old, but are really no more elaborate than RNA itself.

Anyway, complexity arises more spontaneously than earlier mathematics seemed to permit.  Positive synergy is better understood.

Yes, these narratives are speculative theories, incomplete, and may be wrong, Dr. Martin was up front about that possibility.  We cobble together the most credible story we can, given what we have to work with, is the attitude.

What repels these scientists most are those closed, irrefutable dogmatic stories that harbor no self critical counter-intelligence to speak of.  Such stories seem too brain dead to be trusted really. 

It's the freedom to keep saying "we're not sure yet, lets not pretend we are" that scientists fight for, whereas such "not knowing" may leave others uncomfortable.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gadding About

DSCF5409

Portlandia loses a great Creative with the departure of Melody.  She shot away from my place, her last base and former residence, perhaps to wind up in India we don't know yet.  She wouldn't drive all that way.

My next expected house guest texted me from seat 20-D what his alternative arrangements were, which make sense  (loose ends to attend to -- he used to live in Beaverton), just as the cabin door closed on his flight to Costa Rica was it?

Anyway, Pycon-related. That's coming right up, and I'll get to most of it I expect.

Speaking of the Python.org "nation" (some people don't like me calling it that, something to think about before having a "dictator"?), edu-sig is ramping up again, in terms of activity.

I'm by far the most active poster, and I'm happy to have my few haunts, my bat caves.

Yes, generous individuals have saved us rekeying the Periodic Table data, by saving it for us, in JSON format, workable license (as in free).  I've already updated periodic_table.db on my Github and live Flask application, my forty hour Python course a top concern.

I also have SQLite tables named glossary.db and maybe polyhedrons.db.

I'm signed up to give another lecture next week, outside my virtual classroom. I think that will help me speed think my way through some material.  I often get a boost out of such performances.

Not that I think "speed thinking" is always the way to go.  Makes my blog posts less readable, some might insist.

Melody has a plan and is self sufficient in many admirable ways.

I know North Koreans are skeptical that USers are anything but brainwashed, given the craziness they buy into.

My working hypothesis is neural networks still outperform the machine learning ones in many critical-to-us dimensions.  I'm not against pushing work off onto machines though, where applicable.

On Facebook I'm looking at whether college as an institution combined with the loan industry is really viable.  We don't have enough GST going.  Still too much Econ, garden variety.

That's an analysis many don't share, but then I never claimed my blogs were anything other than esoteric.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Denial of Service

I'm assuming this "switch" means all my posts to this site to date will be lost, breaking many links. 

If and when that happens, I'll plan to stop my monthly contribution and never post again to the QuakerQuaker site (nor read it either).


From the webmaster:
It's time to move QuakerQuakerEverything's not quite ready, but it's time to move QuakerQuaker over to the new server. It will be powered by BuddyPress, a variation on WordPress blogging platform. It's still very much an experiment in progress, but that's fitting in with the history of QuakerQuaker. I've announced some of the changes on a blog post there:

Time to switch QuakerQuaker

When the switch happens that site will become QuakerQuaker.org and this will be temporarily Ning.com/quakerquaker until I close it down. Please send all feedback as comments on the new site. I'll be traveling on a family vacation soon and not as available on email. Having everything at one spot will help!

Also, as I say there, the Paypal account is currently about $30 short (and the vacation means I can't front any myself this month). You can use the PaypalMe account to help out. Thanks in advance.

—Martin for QuakerQuaker.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Factory Girl (movie review)


Andy Warhol fans and detractors already know this story. I was only glancingly familiar with most of his work until recently, when Portland Art Museum unveiled a major retrospective.  That helped me tune in more of his scene, though I didn't catch the name Edie Sedgwick until last night, when I finally saw the dramatization.

My thoughts flashed to Patty Hearst a few times, and her relationship with her own family. I'm not a know-it-all on these families, just we have a lot of windows and telling remarks in the public record, which facilitates discussion of celebrities.  Orson Welles comes to mind.

Edie was an heiress from a Santa Barbara ranch family, transplants from Boston, East Coasters on the Pacific. Hearst Castle is on the same coast.  When I think of Hearst, I often flash on Homer Davenport, his lead political cartoonist in some chapters, and native of Silverton, Oregon.  I have quite a bit about Homer in my blogs owing to my friendship with Gus Frederick, an expert on Homer's life and to some extent times.

Edie's big dream was to find herself in New York and to pioneer a freer way of being alive in a city big enough hearted to support such experiments.  She was by all accounts bold, but in falling victim to drug abuse, got derailed.  This was the story of a generation and has not ceased being the core plot of many scenarios.

Folks in my cohort have their own generational window in that I was old enough to have Warhol on my radar, but not adult enough to track the soap operas.  I uncover the history of my own time in my later years, having lived through it in my own day dreamy way, as some kid in Italy or whatever.

A lot of work went into making this a real telling. The filmmakers undertake their task seriously. I'm reminded of Mishima.  In being a dramatization, the script takes many liberties with the facts, many of which remain unknown. This movie is but one possible assembly of an intricate jigsaw puzzle.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Naga Returns

I'm eating my own dog food with the codepen.io, doing some of the most basic pens, based on Youtubes, some of which are quite good.  Making a green box slide back and forth with some button interaction, is all doable in this interesting environment.

My two students will get some overview about how it all fits together.  Here's what I have in Movement:

codepen

Yes, JavaScript (ES, JS), a moving target of a language. A front line. I'm impressed by the many troopers who march into Angular, React and all that. The tutorials look fun.  Yet I'm still busy boning up on Python.  JS is back burner for me, so not the front end developer in that sense.

"Eating my own dogfood" is a geek expression which, loosely translated, means walking one's talk. If I'm out there talking code schools, Silk Road or otherwise, I need to be putting in my hours, though not completely at the expense of exercise.  I did make it up Mt. Tabor today.  Rain was threatening, so I had my hat.  David DiNucci (computer scientist) happened to be walking in the same direction and joined us.

Melody was by today, in part to return Naga, the stuffed snake Steve Holden brought into circulation around the time toy animal mascots were seen as cool, a sign of not taking ourselves too seriously. Perl started it with the Camel, and then O'Reilly gave us the animal books.

Naga @ Home

Friday, April 07, 2017

Women as Kings


I've chosen this title precisely because it's a gender bender, as we normally translate "King" to mean "of the male gender" and so "women as Kings" is an oxymoron, a grammatical error?  Why so though? Kara Cooney was interested in precisely that question.  In ancient Egypt, a woman would occasionally become Pharaoh.  How and why?

The timing of the talk was ironic in that pyramid-hierarchies run by men were clearly wreaking havoc, cranking up military invasion plans long in the making, and triggered by magic trick (not good magic, evildoers at work).  Women are not really represented in world affairs and are expected to go along as cheerleaders and care-providers, but why so?

Kara's hypotheses are in the direction of raw biological facts of life. Bearing a child puts huge stress on a woman, and that's just the beginning of her caretaker role.  Men, unencumbered by pregnancy or nursing offspring, range far from the camp, in hunter-gatherer tribes, and fetch the hard to find, treasured meat protein.  They literally bring home the bacon, which serves as a currency, cementing inter-family relationships.

In societies were getting the valued protein is something both sexes engage in, such as by fishing in the American southwest, women are more likely to sit on councils of elders and weigh in on the big decisions.  Where all the whale meat comes from men, women have little leverage and are treated more like livestock.

Once we're into an agricultural society, women still do most of the clothes-making and janitorial work. They're expected to have even more kids per year than in hunter-gatherer societies. Again, biology is against their achieving leadership roles.  Men are more likely to survive, in not undergoing childbirth, though they may fall in war.  Life spans weren't as long across the board.

Now let's turn to Egypt and what made her special:  an ocean for a northern border, desert on three sides, and granite boulders in the upper Nile.  Large scale military invasions were pretty much out of the question, and the fertile river valley produced just about everything a civilization might need.  By dint of geography, Egypt was both abundant and well-protected.  In such a society, patterns could settle, through thirty dynasties, until she became more of an annex to Rome.

The main focus of Kara's talk was Hatshepsut. Dr. Cooney (UCLA) is an expert in Egyptian sarcophagi and knows her Egyptology really well. Her book, Women Who Would Be King, is on what allowed women to rise to the highest, most divine position in the land, beginning with explanations for why the occurrence was nevertheless uncommon, and still is to this day (not that we have pharaohs anymore).

Hatshepsut had a perfect pedigree, as a king's daughter who married a king.  When the king she was married to died, without leaving a son, succession switched to her nephew. She was permitted to act as regent as the nephew grew into adulthood, and even then, she served as co-king.

Some decades after she died and was given a king's tomb, the nephew went to some lengths to have her memory expunged.  Archeologists are still putting the story together, understanding how temporal powers, even more than acts of nature, tend to mess with the record.

Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and some other female pharaohs made her list.  She was respectful of all of them, but pointed out the pattern:  none of them ruled solo, all were apparently tolerated in order to provide a placeholder and smooth a transition to some new lineage.

Given the brute facts of biology, Kara thinks women are perceived as loyal within a narrower, smaller sphere, the family or tribe, whereas men get to be the power brokers in the greater games. The public is more suspicious, almost instinctively, of a woman's loyalties and motives.  Men get more benefit of the doubt.

The Q&A was lively, and at the dinner downstairs, Kara kept the conversation going well through the dinner hour.  People gathered from all tables and shared viewpoints late into the night.  That was evidence of Kara's power and leadership right there.  She's a powerful presenter, and charming as well, in being so forthright.

What I wonder, as a Quaker, is if women come into their own in power structures that have no obvious hierarchy, are less pyramidal and more networked.  I think of switchboard operators, a passing profession.

I'm glad Christine got her truck back.  She drove me home, telling me the story.  The truck had been stolen right out from under her.  Except for the smell, it was undamaged, even came with some extra tools.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Yakking About Synergetics


I'm deliberately not setting some super high bar, in terms of production values, keeping my focus on the story. People tolerate a crude stage and hand puppets if they have some respect for the content, and I don't even have hand puppets in these.

In terms of content, my work is easy: I'm presenting the work of an established genius. The respect factor is already high, the relevant work already published, its authors already highly decorated (Applewhite in his own way). We've got the Wikipedia entry. Britannica will need to catch up.

Random high schoolers, especially numberphiles, will stumble across these and a few will watch the whole series, Synergetics 101.  As of this writing, that's the only playlist I'm done with.

Having taught Python live, on-line quite a bit, I'm able to get these out in single takes, but not without complete do-overs. I've also caught some mistakes, which I rectify with annotations rather than overdub or rerecord. Mistakes happen.

As of March-April 2017, I'm pretty much the only Youtuber presenting straight Synergetics, although even here I'm sneaking in some results and discoveries that came after the publication of the two volumes, as the field has not been dormant since Fuller died in 1983.

Lets see if others realize this material is accessible, especially with colorful models and constructions, animations. Higher production values are well within range of teachers better endowed than myself, in many ways.