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.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Digital Scanning


Gus's workshop in Silverton this Saturday, on digital scanning, got me thinking more about the Business Mobile ("biz-mo"), and what might be its business. We already own a cultural stereotype, of nondescript vans used for spying and monitoring. Why not mark them?  To chronicle and curate, to survey, is hardly in and of itself evil.  On the contrary, that's what National Geographic does. We get great pictures, intelligent writing.

Gus showed us how objects of some thickness, thicker than paper or film, might to effectively scanned. He brought his Mao watch. When it worked, the Chinese leader waved his hand, against a colorful backdrop. The watch scanned at 4800 dpi no problem, with adequate depth of field. Applying some adjustment layers in Photoshop, leaving the original untouched, reduced some of the glints, where red, green and blue had separated on a shiny surface.

My bizmo could have a scanner. Pulling into a place, say near Fossil, Oregon, or somewhere in Utah, means getting ready to curate and chronicle. Why? That depends on the business. This isn't the FBI looking for criminals, yet representatives in any form of representative government need to study and investigate their own districts, any Chinese emperor could tell you that.  Perhaps the bizmo is connected to someone in Congress, and it says so right on the vehicle.  That doesn't mean that someone is piloting the vehicle.  FEMA needs bizmos to coordinate and communicate, no doubt has them.

Gus talked about the invention of scanning devices, which grew up alongside photography. Until recently "to scan" meant something we did with poetry, an a par with "to parse". Some of the earliest scanners placed their target document on a drum, a cylinder, still a favored design.  Digitizing fragile documents, as a way of preserving them, is an integral part of preservation and scholarship these days. The technology has only gotten better.

A high point of Gus's workshop was when he unveiled a Homer Davenport original, purchased on eBay. The paper was way to big for his flatbed scanner, so his solution was to protect the original with clear plastic and then use a hand scanner to digitize in swaths.  Satellites in orbit around planets or moons used exactly the same technique, gradually building a complete picture of the target surface through stitching algorithms.

When it comes to stitching though, lets not neglect the skills of a human operator.  Gus adjusted the swaths expertly, applying minute adjustments, such as rotation, as necessary. The result was a very high resolution digitization of the original.  Sometimes bringing the equipment to the site, be it contemporary or archeological, is the most practical approach to intelligence gathering.  Hand scanners can be a lot less hard on books, then pressing them on the flatbeds when at the library.