Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tie Die Project

Aimée and Tara doing tie die
in our humble kitchen

Allusions to this event on edu-sig: [1][2]

Monday, May 29, 2006

Over the Hedge (movie review)

This enjoyable cartoon introduces children (reintroduces adults) to several important design patterns: an intelligent rascal with a hidden agenda seeks and recruits dupes; self-centered suburbia demands infinite security to the point of ordering illicit torture; the little people look up to giants, and play dead when necessary; food is a harsh motivator, even when you already have more than enough (because "enough is never enough"); several others.

Suburbia makes subtle allusions to The Sims it seems to me. Having the hedgehogs inadvertently conjure that THX logo, with all the sound this entails (potentially waking the sim upstairs, clerk of a homeowners' association), seemed an unusually brilliant stroke, and this film was full of such finishing touches. The buildup to the manic stupid squirrel becoming hyper-manic (an incredible and a hero) was exquisite (squirrel on steroids).

Obviously, I liked this movie. It'd double feature well with A Bug's Life, given they both have this framing thought of a hungry predator enforcing a deadline.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Battle Lost

In some of my recent polemics on the Math Forum, decrying the slowness of our curriculum to adapt to present needs, I tried to tie "pedantic" to the Latin peda, for foot.
That's why we call some pedagogues "pedantic" (from "peda" or "feet"). Many teachers want things to go very slooooowly, because their chief concern is to "fill time". They have hundreds of hours to cover geometry, and it's still never enough.
Haim took me to task. As etymologists well know, people often confuse Latin and Greek roots and the peda in pedant is really from the Greek peda meaning child, the same ped as in pedophile and relating to the Sanskrit for small.

I suggested these two peds might be related further back in time, in that pedestrian peasants were socioeconomically smaller than the equestrian bullies who towered over them. Children, like serfs, don't have as many rights and are sometimes preyed upon by adults.

Haim tore that argument to shreds, which Wayne thought was beautiful.

Anyway, I was at least able to preserve the connection between "pedantic" and "plodding." I don't think many pedants will begrudge me that.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Family Time

Dawn had a front row seat on Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, in the company of her dear cousin Pat and friend Lil. They lugged the 02 concentrator and some mini-tanks. Next will be Kennedy School. I've been playing shuttle driver, going to and from the airport: mom yesterday, Alexia just in. I'm hoping to show them Dawn's new knowledge lab maybe later today.

This morning, I open sourced an internal Fuller School memo to the The Math Forum, talking about how I'm busy prototyping this new way of teaching mathematics, using some OO language (like I'm using Python) plus linking in a namespace along the lines of my rbf.py, with polyhedra organized per the Synergetics concentric hierarchy, with the duo-tet and other nomenclature (e.g. Couplers, A & B modules) anchoring.

I'm hopeful that curriculum writers already making a commitment to computer technology, such as TSF now funds, will find much that is useful in this design. Maybe BFI could help some of the other foundations channel wisely. Not all are equally savvy about the design science potential, and as The Da Vinci Code proves (the media phenomenon), where there're snakes, there's snake oil.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Traveling Circus

A bizmo needn't show up solo. Like when they film a movie: stars need their bizmos or trailers, rock stars their buses. Then you need lights, cameras, other equipment. A director sometimes. There might even be tents involved, just like old times.

In "reality TV" mode, documenting the event for the archive and later editing is important, but is not the whole point (reality is not entirely "made for TV" much as some viewers might buy that it is).

No, we're getting other work done too, depending on the type of event: a dome raising, a health care happening, an educational presentation, juggling, magic tricks, any or all of the above -- or something completely different.

Or a bizmo might indeed show up solo, some master teacher aboard, probably scheduled long ahead of time, per some local (or remote) control room itinerary. Or is the event unscheduled? Like in some cartoon about the Wild West, the stranger rides into town and ties up at the saloon... Many plot lines diverge.

I'm somewhat surprised that reality TV hounds haven't already explored this genre in more depth. True, Dave Ulmer is more into uploading stills than movies, from his satellite equipped rig in the desert. Maybe he should take up juggling?

Or we could have a multi-decal jobber, including that new Python one. I'd be (already am) one more of the family, another happy camper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Kirby and Dawn
(photo by Dave Fabik)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Home Schooling

I find myself returning to the homeschooling and unschooling literature, since the Shuttleworth Summit, in part due to the influence of Paul Fernhout, an edu-sig poster. But I've always had an interest in this literature. Laurie Todd, a master teacher, is another influence.

You'll find mention of this demographic (home scholars) in at least two [1][2] of my postings today, both to the Math Forum. Plus Tara is simulating emergent civilization right behind me, having just installed Sig Meier's Civilization IV on TMU (meanwhile, I'm typing on brain-damaged KTU2).

I like the new Python logo by the way: very Azteco-Mayan or whatever.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Decoding USA Culture

Many of our contemporaries overseas won't get why the above cover art was historically resonant with so many USA-based grownups who were, as children, sophisticated connoisseurs of Mad Magazine e.g. of Don Martin's famous strips, or of Spy vs. Spy.

One esoteric cultural theory is that Alfred E. Neuman, slacker mascot of the smartie brats, grew up to become the cult figure Bob Dobbs, founder of a certain all-American church.

An even more esoteric theory: that Bob Dobbs bears a family resemblance to Bob Schieffer of CBS News. Perhaps this is only a coincidence.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Constant Gardener (movie review)

For me, having just consumed the book, having purchased it in London's Victoria Station, viewing the film version was a lot about marveling at plot conflations and additions. On the whole, I found the movie brighter and less subtle, compared to a darker, more intricate printed work. On the other hand, the film had its own semaphores and semiotic twists -- I'm not trying to dismiss films as intrinsically inferior to books.

For me, the novel was effective in sucking me in to some character's inner life (the opening sequence), seducing me into a reality according to that viewpoint, and then abruptly changing viewpoints, and looking back from behind a different pair of eyes (his wife's). I'm talking about Sandy, not Justin, but when we move to him (and more or less stay there), once again, the outlook so drastically changes. We get access to new secrets, and closer to the world of Friends.

The film version adds a lot of good imagery, and if you want to go back to the original plot, borrowing these wonderfully rendered characters and scenery, that's an option. Or, to put it another way, if you saw the movie first, and now wonder about reading the book, I'd say "go for it."

Friday, May 05, 2006

News Item

(painting by Pablo Picasso)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

BizMos in Baghdad

Rhino Runners
[ link to article ]

Spring 2006

(photo by Don Wardwell using my camera)

Tara and Lucy with Polyhedra
Bridge City Friends Meeting