Sunday, February 26, 2006

From the Air

Meliptus on the Columbia, from the window of an Alaska Airlines jet.
Guest passenger: Tsuyoshi Nago.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Back in Portland

I had lunch with Dave at the Bagdad yesterday. I brought the laptop (Toshiba) and we watched a few minutes of Ryan while waiting for our calzones. Ryan is an animated short, an interview with Ryan Larkin, an influential cartoonist who now begs for coins.

I also have Michael Kessler's promo to watch, a DVD. He's looking for investors on his Common Sense II project. He's got an uphill battle with his "eracism" meme, as that's already used in New Orleans to mean "erase racism" (another of Fuller's goals). For Michael, it means "loyalty to the earth" (sure, these ideas relate).

Also, the "one world nation" idea seems too contrived. As an operational metaphor, I prefer our "giant university" meme -- a way of looking that works even today, even if our Food Services is somewhat broken (too many starving students).

That being said, colorful characters like Kessler are what make our global university vibrant and fun. His example is encouraging, inspiring (Larkin's too). More power to him.


Well, I had the volume settings up high from our family viewing of two episodes of Firefly last night, so when I popped in Michael's DVD, the explosion of sound woke Tara and Dawn outstairs. Tara came instairs to watch it with me and we agreed it was pretty well done. Michael is a talented musician. His title is an allusion to Tom Paine's.

Speaking of instairs / outstairs, I also ordered CDs of Gene Fowler reading his own poems. Gene and I have had quite a lot of correspondence over the years. I'm looking forward to listening to these.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Signs of the Times

photos by K. Urner, Whittier, CA

California State Standards

"wall scrawl"
(Ms. Brunel's theater room, Whittier High School)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sixth Grade Geometry

Regular Tetrahedron of 24 A modules
constructed by 6th graders @ Winterhaven PPS

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day 2006


I'll be using the same home-brewed Pygame-based presentation manager code I wrote for OSCON 2005 to drive my presentation to Winterhaven's sixth graders on Thursday morning (soon after I teach my Python class). We've booked the auditorium -- this'll be a good test of my projector's luminosity.

I'll be taking them through Polyhedra 101: some classification schemes (e.g. Platonic and Archimedean), and a nesting scheme (which implies some relative sizing or scaling).

Of course I'm focusing on Fuller's nesting scheme, because he's the positive futurist and great American writer they need to learn about. Plus his way of doing polyhedra is pretty memorable and compact, so we'd likely cover it even if he weren't a Medal of Freedom winner.

Other MoF winners include: thespians Carol Burnnet, Bill Cosby and Andy Griffith, boxer Muhammed Ali, spy chief George Tenet, Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, TV show hosts Fred Rogers and Julia Child, management guru Peter Drucker, First Lady Nancy Reagan, soldiers Colin Powell, Tommy Franks, Wesley Clark and William Crowe, Pope John Paul II, and Gordon Moore of Moore's Law fame -- quite the mixed bag (wouldn't you say?) and that's only a small sampling of the list.

The CCP lattice sets the stage. Around each CCP sphere: a space-filling rhombic dodecahedron. Its long diagonals: an octahedron. Its short diagonals: a cube. Inscribed within the cube: two tetrahedra as alternate sets of face diagonals. Relative volumes: 6 : 4 : 3 : 1.

nesting scheme

Twelve CCP spheres around the nuclear sphere define the cuboctahedron, of relative volume 20. Packing outward in successive layers, we get 12, 42, 92, 162... spheres, always in a cuboctahedral conformation.


My intent is to get down to the A and B module dissections; all of the aforementioned polys may be assembled from these two tetrahedral slivers, each of relative volume 1/24. As a hands-on activity, students will fold left and right handed A modules from the plane nets I'll hand out, then assemble regular tetrahedra therefrom.

We bridge to five-fold rotationally symmetric territory by crossing the "Jitterbug Bridge" -- a visual transformation taking the cuboctahedron into an icosahedron, which, along with its dual, the pentagonal dodecahedron, complete the Platonics.

This is stuff every elementary schooler should get briefed on -- or their American heritage is being denied them [visual: waving flag; sound track: patriotic fife and drum].

Today (Valentine's Day, 2006) even some top lawyers in Washington DC are ignorant of these basic math facts, which really hurts their credibility and effectiveness as potential USA OS operatives in my book, as this means they have a poor grasp of their own American History.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Articulated Bus

"some outdoor art"
(photo by K. Urner)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Islamic Cartoons?

I totally get that idolatry often leads to problems, and a smart code might exclude depictions of X because all too often, that's led to ineradicable bugs.

However, in mythological space, it's difficult to erase all hint of The Prophet (whomever that may be) from some heroic fable or epic. The White Monkey (Ramayana) is bound to resemble this or that celebrity of the day.

Someone will take offense. Someone will say it's really a subtle dig at some high holiness. Followers get riled, stones get thrown, and we're off: religion at work, trashing your world.

Do any within Islam have authority to debate the consequences of never allowing feature length cartoons that tell the story, of a man, of his life? Mainstream Christianity is overflowing with depictions, but gives the Islamic saints scant treatment.

Non-Islamic theologians read Islamic literature, and necessarily bring their imaginations to bear. It's just about impossible to read about any historical figure, without conjuring some kind of image.

So why not a cartoon?

I'm not talking about disrespectful. I'm talking about the work of religious teachers, aiming at propagating Islam for generations to come. Have they forever denied themselves this tool of animation? Maybe. I'm not qualified to say, one way or the other.

Related reading:
Muhammad on museum walls by Christopher Reynolds, LA Times, Feb 17, 2006, page E1

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Zen Story

Once upon a time, a famous zen master was enjoying yet another day of full enlightenment (nirvana) which included: baking chocolate chip cookies, oiling robots, and buying AA batteries at the local convenience store.

However, he'd forgotten to feed the dog that morning. His meditation remained unsettled, as on many other days (yet every day was different); a kind of rippling in the pond.

When he finally remembered his oversight, he wrote "suffering is an unfed dog" but in a fancy kind of calligraphy, such as would fetch a small sum at the local gift shop (tourists love this stuff).

Proceeds from the gift shop helped pay for dog food, as well as food for the monks.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mourning a Loss

From The Oregonian, February 4, 2006
(click for larger view)

Dawn and I were dismayed to learn of Sara Cogan's untimely death last Tuesday. Sara is a long time bookkeeping client and friend of Dawn's.

Through Sara's international student exchange program, we were lucky to host a charming teenager from Japan as our guest for some weeks, Ayano.

We will miss Sara and extend our fond best wishes to her family.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Atlanta in March?

I just got off the phone with a very interesting guy behind this G4G7 event (Gathering for Gardner). We talked for about 20 minutes.

This sounds like a stellar event (Conway, Penrose ... Knuth), but so far I haven't cobbled together a travel/hotel budget for any event like that. My work in education is largely uncompensated. I get minimal perks.

However, given I'm to be with family in Nashville the following weekend, I might be able to swing something. If not, I'm aiming for G4G9, by which time I may well have a bigger budget (some wheels turn very slowly within the Fuller School -- in part because they're very big (lots of inertia)).