Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mathcasting About Phi

The Pentagon
Google Earth

In support of the president's NCLB initiative, I cooked up what I call the "NCLB Polynomial" over on the Math Forum. I didn't invent the polynomial itself (it's very old), but came up with the name because children should be learning about it, if wanting to keep up with their studies at all (NCLB = No Child Left Behind).

Its positive geometric solution, phi (pronounced fie or fee), is the ratio of a regular pentagon's diagonal to its edge.

A symbol dance might start with a Golden Mean derivation, with a voice saying "the smaller is to the larger as the larger is to the whole" as on screen we see: smaller:larger = larger:whole, where whole = smaller + larger.

Since it's a ratio we want, it's OK to arbitrarily set the smaller segment to 1, such that 1/L = L/(1 + L) -- L for larger. Multiplying both sides by (1+L), then L, gives (1+L) = L*L or (L*L - L - 1) = 0 (the NCLB Polynomial). The positive solution is (1 + sqrt(5))/2, which is phi.

useful trig info
ray tracing by K. Urner

Over on edu-sig (a special interest group in the Python community), we've been looking at a Python generator for 1/phi (phi's reciprocal), using Fibonacci Numbers. A generator yields an interim value in response to a next() method, while remembering its internal variables between calls.

Fibonacci Generator
Python 2.5 on Windows XP

I'm not saying we need to pack all this information into just one mathcast. The strategy is to grow a large archive of clips, so teachers can embed them within their own presentations as they see fit.

Given Fibonacci (1170-1250) depended on Iraqi intelligence for his Liber Abacci, it'd make sense to use Baghdad as a backdrop for some of these clips. Of course many of our most talented and effective math teachers are Iraqi.

Getting off the XY plane, we get to the pentagonal dodecahedron (12 pentagonal faces, 20 vertices) and its dual, the icosahedron (20 triangular faces, 12 vertices -- and buildable from three phi rectangles).

In Synergetics, we jitterbug between the icosahedron and cuboctahedron, showing both have the same number of balls in their outer shells (1, 12, 42, 92, 162...). This connects us to the geodesic spheres and domes, crystallography, virology and hexapent chemistry (see below).

Related reading:
More About Geek TV (January, 2006)
Math Wars (continued) (March, 2006)
Brute force solutions (for phi, on edu-sig)
Ayatollah of the Tetrahedron (February, 2005)

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Chalmers, Göteborg
site of Europython '05 and Nanotubes '05

HP4E is a play on CP4E, Guido's DARPA-funded Computer Programming for Everybody initiative (with work, we could perhaps tie these back to HCE in Finnegans Wake, but that's for some other thread). HP = HexaPent in this namespace.

It's not really work to popularize the soccerball, already high on the recognition scale. Movies like The Cup well-document its cross-cultural appeal. But once we divide the field into soccerballs (a family) and buckyballs (another family), the game gets more technical. Here are the rules:
  • Soccerball: looking over the fence from a pentagon, every neighboring lot is hexagonal; looking over the fence from a hexagon, faces alternate between pentagonal and hexagonal.
  • Buckyball: all hexagons plus 12 pentagons, such that three lots (i.e. three fenced-in areas) come together at every fence post (i.e. vertex).
I got this taxonomy from Dieter Kotschick's article, The Topology and Combinatorics of Soccer Balls, in American Scientist, Volume 94 (pg. 350) -- except I'm making "soccerball" into one word, to go with "buckyball". Dieter credits a German high school math contest for the soccerball definition, although it added a rule that the facets be regular polygons (now a topologist, Dieter doesn't need to follow that one).

The buckyball stipulation (three edges must meet at each vertex) is lifted from carbon chemistry, and is characteristic of the fullerenes, i.e. the spherical hexapent carbon cages, first discovered in the 1980s and posthumously named (Fuller died on July 1, 1983).

Appropriately, three scientists shared the Nobel Prize for buckminsterfullerene's discovery: Kroto, Smalley and Curl Junior. C60, the fullerene with 60 carbon atoms, is topologically the same as the soccerball, i.e. the two above-defined sets intersect on this already-famous member. Kotschick says this is the only element common to the two sets (i.e. is their intersection).

But carbon-based chicken wire needn't be spherical. Consider the nanotubes, capped and uncapped ("buckytubes" some call 'em). Such nanotechnology is a hotly topical area for scientific research these days. When I went to Chalmers @ Gothenburg, Sweden for EuroPython in 2005, the nanotubes conference seemed to dwarf ours in size. Our populations mingled. Lots of scientists use Python, if they do any programming.

Here in Portland, we're gearing up to work on global matrix displays, meaning hexapent fly's eyes colored with global data. Whether or not these unfold into a Fuller Projection depends on the application e.g. it's protected from spoilage by war gamers preoccupied with political border disputes. The hand-held units might just show one hexagon at a time e.g. the one you're in now. Glenn also talks about logic gates and quantum computing a lot, but more with his PSU colleagues than with the Wanderers (two sets, partially overlapping).

My focus these days is the open source community and a "gnu math" curriculum, meaning in part that I want to keep the public up to date and informed about all this interesting scientific research.

Even positive developments meet with resistence, if people don't feel a democratic process has been followed, with lots of debates and town hall meetings. "Imposing from above" is not a popular style of government, and when it comes to HP4E (or CP4E for that matter), I'd like to avoid repeating some past mistakes (we learned a lot from the New Math debacle).

That being said, there're always hold-outs unwilling for change to happen, even if those changes mean higher living standards for a majority of folks. They like the advantages the status quo gives them, and believe in some foreordained right to command more than their fair share (perhaps on the basis of some religion?).

I'm not really interested in pandering to this crowd either.

The democratic process is not synonymous with the tyranny of some minority. If they don't like our global matrix hexapents or Fly's Eye dwelling machines, they shouldn't be forced to use 'em. But nor should the rest of us be denied our preferred brands of mathematics and/or science fiction on television.

Europython conferees wandering
through a nanotubes poster session

Chalmers, 2005

photos by K. Urner

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Name Collisions

My take is the remoteness of the Synergetics vocabulary made some people nervous enough to credit Bucky with inventions he never conceived of -- although the more popular story is that he stole people's inventions (as in "pirated" them) without giving them their due.

I'm thinking of Clifford Nelson in particular. He invented some elaborate analytical apparatus involving the four planes of the tetrahedron and claimed to have found it in Bucky's corpus. But when I comb through Synergetics, I find no such Rube Goldberg contraption.

True, friends and I collaborated on Quadrays, which one might likewise liken to "4D" in some buckaneer manner (like, we've got a tetrahedron here too), but we never claimed to have found this apparatus actually lurking between the lines of Synergetics itself.

New stuff arises. Elastic Interval Geometry for example: it's not "just tensegrity". Life goes on. Snelson's model of the atom isn't "just tensegrity" either.

Had Bucky lived longer, he'd have enjoyed the collateral with us. Who knows, we might've had those ecovillages by now -- goofy parallel Universe talk, I realize, otherwise known as the subjunctive tense.

OK, now let's listen to Bucky spin it:
For example, quantum mechanics came many years after I did to employ the term spin. The physicists assured me that their use of the word did not involve any phenomena that truly spun. Spin was only a convenient word for accounting certain unique energy behaviors and investments. My use of the term was to describe a direct observation of an experimentally demonstrable, inherent spinnability and unique magnitudes of rotation of an actually spinning phenomenon whose next fractional rotations were induced by the always co-occurring, generalized, a priori, environmental conditions within which the spinnable phenomenon occurred. This was a case in which I assumed that I held a better claim to the scientific term spin. In recent years, spin is beginning to be recognized by the physicists themselves as also inadvertently identifying a conceptually spinnable phenomenon -- in fact, the same fundamental phenomenon I had identified much earlier when I first chose to use the word spin to describe that which was experimentally disclosed as being inherently spinnable. There appears to be an increasing convergence of scientific explorations in general, and of epistemology and semantics in particular, with my own evolutionary development. (250.31)
I think you'll admit, you don't hear spinning like that every day.

Related reading:
Psychology of Synergetics (January, 2000)
Synergeo #28469 (August, 2006)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Adventures in ToonTown

event log screen capture

We've set up a new workstation in the living room, using Toshiba + wireless peripherals, which is where I'm posting from, via http, to my blog. KTU2 is unusable for the moment -- a thread running through this tale...

We received an electric service interruption notice by USPO some days ago, a postcard, but I'd forgotten all about it.

Anyway, the battery backup kicked in, saving work on computers in the back office (but not Tara's Sims 2), Dawn switched to a tank for 02 (the oxygenator requires AC), and all was well.

Until the power came back on, just minutes later. Then, my troll of a computer decided to power down with short-to-no notice.

Lucky for Rybo. I was busy throwing chapter and verse at him, cutting and pasting from Synergetics on-line like some High Gothic Cleric, jealously guarding my Unorthodoxy (aka Synergetics.4D -- cite 527.712). I sometimes get into this mode contra the HyperCross Dogmatists, a competing school of thought (though containing many friends and relations, as well as bitter foes).

So lucky for Rybo the troll computer had a brain seizure and kicked over, per power outage, before I could hit the Send button. The irony is KTU2 got through the outage OK, on battery, and only died when the power returned. Fie, I say, fie.

Speaking of 4D, we were treated to a presentation by Nathaniel Bobbit from Eugene at the Pauling House last night. Here, I'll cut and paste his blurb from

:: Tuesday ::
August 22 :: 7 pm

: : Nathaniel Bobbit : :
will present on why a new number system

Nathaniel Bobbitt’s groundbreaking work in lowering the acoustics of a flute by two octaves in 1993 resulted in an investigative method for modeling and notating nonlinear behaviors. Nathaniel Bobbitt continues research in direct models of higher dimensional spaces in his technology transfer center NABSLAB ::

Very eclectic this guy, and talented to boot. I encouraged him to go ahead and capture the Texas K-12 curriculum standards in one of his 4D fractals, so I could see what he's talking about. Or maybe we could make a science fiction short, in which his ideas went mainstream -- like I try to do around me, including on reality TV sometimes.

Once powered down, the Belkin battery stayed dead -- no blinkin lights. I unplugged it from the dusty maze of wires (AC, USB, phone) and hauled it to the kitchen. Just needed to hold down the little green button longer I guess -- still doesn't explain its going out in the first place (we probably sucked the battery dry in just those few minutes -- but so what, AC was back on so why didn't that register?).

So now he's reinstalled in his corner (Belkin battery with Bulldog for brains), but rebooting my troll computer (KTU2) takes like an hour, plus then I have to manually turn on various services (Control Panal | Administrative Tools), like Windows Audio and the Print Spooler.

Haven't gotten to it yet. Needed to clean a neighbor's C: drive (even though D: is like 99% free, every Windows game in the universe has this native C: fixation). Showed Harmony some stuff.

Whoah! was just about to Publish, when Toshiba here went into sudden hibernation. Unbeknownst to me, she'd been unplugged. Fortunately, hibernation actually works on this model, and no work was lost. Publishing now...

Appending from Synergeo #28435 (Rybo quoted in red):

> The metaphysical mathematics of XYZ 90 degree
> coordination are inherently associated to
> metaphysical mathematics of A, B, C, D 60 degree
> planes of a tetrahedron.

I'll meet you half way: IVM.4d == XYZ.3d

i.e. what we mean by Synergetics.4D is *close* to what others mean by HighSchoolMath.3D.

Then we go "4D++" to mean "instances of prefrequency concepts" while the 3D people say things like "reality is not 'just more dimensions'!" or something (except then they talk about kilowatts as dimensional, so go figure).

More re 4D++ ( = synergetics computer language):

:: young Nat, NYC ::

Monday, August 21, 2006

Phenomenal Photos

disturbing bizmo on Belmont

fission or fusion?
artist unknown

photos by Kirby Urner with thanks to Trevor Blake

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mathcast Storyboard

Structure: split pane, left/right, two realms of action, synchronized.

Format: I'd recommend targetting HDTV's 16:9 format.

Left pane: Victorian in the movies look, pulling some leather- bound volume, perhaps fiction, off the shelf (looks like some library in Borges, or maybe @ Sunnydale High, Giles standing by).

Right pane: more futuristic graphical instrumentation, showing exploded DocBook XML in an illuminated tree diagram (more like some Klingon control panel).

Action: actor on left thumbs through book, her or his focus (sometimes 1st person) flitting to pictures, across pages; while meanwhile the illumating cursor jumps around in the scrolling XML tree to the corresponding nodes.

Audio: paper shuffle, muffled reader noises (sotto voce perhaps) mixed with electronic bling.

The point of this action: record that the parts of a book may be represented in a tree structure, and encoded in human-readable, machine-parsable XML.

Curriculum objective: gradually increase a student's comfort level with XML, with previews of and forays into such markups as SVG, XHTML, MathML, DocBook, X3D plus roll-your-own XMLs (and/or SGMLs if you must).

Obviously such a storyboard could be implemented in lots of different ways, even given these stylistic stipulations (sort of "Victorian meets Vulcan"). That's OK. A storyboard is like a class template, capable of spawning any number of special case instances.

Experiment with switched panes, top/bottom etc. Keep in mind that future includers may be looking for convenient splice points inside your segment.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Master Gamer

Les with Flextegrity model

Thursday, August 17, 2006

BizMo Shopping

Showroom @ Fred's RV, near Sandy, Oregon
We drove out to Fred's on the Mt. Hood side of Sandy, Oregon, to check out the Class Bs (van body) and a few Class Cs (6 wheels), like Pleasure-Way and Kodiak. Steve steered us through the show room and to a few more in inventory. On the way out, Tara glommed on to a Tioga Montara, in-service, not for sale (she's always liked that over-the-cab feature).

Mentally, I was trying to connect to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice or whatever, seeing it on a screen in the mind's eye, wireless keyboard on some surface, and surrounded by more nautical decor (I'm put off by "grandma's kitchen kitsch" (grandma'd've liked more nautical too)). I was reminded of the time we toured Orlando timeshares and then asked about wifi. They seemed so shocked we'd be into it. Plus where would we put Dawn's oxygenator, which could run off the AC? We could envision solutions.

Anyway, I didn't bother Steve with any of these fantasies (except some talk about the oxygenator). I'm clearly a special case, and he doesn't need to know about all my language game puzzles. Still, you'd think there'd be more of a market for wireless offices on wheels already. But then, I think that about eco-villages too, and I don't see many of those out there, either (at least not on the channels Comcast lets me see).

The trip was tiring for Dawn, plus the $69-85K price tag seemed out of reach, for a life style we don't really have. I'm too young to retire, average middle class. Teaching philo/math on the road might be an honest living, but as for just making oil companies rich... I'd have to sell all my stock in BP (if I had any).

So it's back to the drawing board in a way. Tara found a 1995 Tioga and gmailed a link. Dawn is thinking maybe a Eurovan, something more volksy. She just wants some place to lie down if we drive any long distances. I'm the one with the big idea of doing teacher training in these roadshow circus environments, whole caravans of us sometimes. I'd like to get lost in a crowd of bizmos, all doing basically the same kind of thing, assisting affiliates, and maybe recruiting some new ones.

Tara liked the Tioga

Monday, August 14, 2006

Scripting a Road Show

As my wife edges into retirement, I continue nurturing the Bizmo idea. We plan to visit an RV seller this week, at least to window shop. For me, it's not just "recreational" (which is why it's a Biz-Mobile, recruiting new talent for our Silicon Forest and related ecosystems).

This idea for a road show first appeared on the Wanderers list, and on a list for community college teachers (community colleges are prime targets for this stuff).

Follow-up reading: But what about pre-calculus? (Math Forum posting); Re: The 3 R's revisited (ditto).

Gnu Math on the Road

Talking Points:

  1. GNU's not Unix: history of operating systems based on history of computing, tracing to Leibniz, through The Turk (beat Napoleon in chess), Ada & Babbage, Turing, von Neumann. Plus the idea of recursion (the acronym invokes itself).

  2. GNU vs. Linux: Linux was built on the premise of GNU. Stallman is the philosopher, Torvalds the engineer (per Revolution OS -- sometimes I screen excerpts). Both Unix and Linux (cite POSIX) were built around the premise of the Internet. Explain TCP/IP.[1]

  3. Linux vs. Windows: This is starting to get boring as the number of OSes is potentially endless, and we still haven't gotten to Apple's, though OS X is POSIX under the hood (and a lot FreeBSD, also not yet mentioned, but still quite important, to Windows too). We really need to be getting on with the story though. For homework: In the beginning was the command line by Neal Stephenson.
Now, on to the mathematics:

First Principle: It's not just about numbers. Cardinality involves labeling or pairing, then using the symbols in a system of accounting that mirrors what's going on in the field. Goats and sheep figure prominently in the cartoons. Note that we needn't order the goats (Ordinality; use of greater than, less than) in order to prove we have the same number of tokens as goats, i.e. none are missing (or some are (or maybe we have extra tokens?)).

Second principle: symmetry is important yet often broken. So we start getting "mirrors" right away: left versus right, positive versus negative, and yet the mirror image world isn't indistinguishably so. Asymmetries exist. Good example: ++ = +, but -- = + as well. Physics tells us our universe exists because of various symmetries that were broken. We might throw in a Through the Looking Glass motif, or even talk about Narnia.

Then we get into a little group theory using Vegetables in place of numbers. Vegetable Soup has a neutral element, inverses, closure, associativity and, in this case, also commutativity.

We disclose, after awhile, that our vegetable soup is built on the totatives of some modulus, and so need to quickly review concepts of prime vs. composite, relatively prime, totative, and totient. None of these are hard to present or get.

Then we do it in Python (lots of handwaving) while alluding to RSA. OK if it goes over their heads in this middle part (the throwaway segment of any lecture). This was just previewing anyway. We've got oodles of Python in moodles.

And that's about it. Students get back to their daily routine and the gnu math teacher is off down the road, on to the next assignment (control room dispatcher model).

Mostly, we just show a lot of cartoons and movie excerpts (as students are getting settled, during the talk). The promise of sticking with it (the recruiter's pitch), is that you'll be developing mission-critical computer skills, especially vis-a-vis this discipline of mathcasting, as clearly the people from our studios (our faculty) are deeply involved in the making of this stuff, not just in its superficial showcasing.

Some of the cartoons may be hypertoons (my invention), which I discuss in more detail elsewhere, e.g. @ myspace/4dstudios (see 4D Studios history blog).


[1] If there's time, I like to show Warriors of the Net, a cartoon about TCP/IP. But there isn't always time. Gnu math teachers with multi-day gigs tend to follow behind the recruiters, to those schools choosing an alliance and subscribing to a program. Recruiters haven't the luxury to dive into content as deeply (or at least not as slowly).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Burning Calories

On the food packages in Southern Africa, the energy contents are given in joules, not calories -- actually kilo- in both cases.

As such (food packages), the energy is traveling along vectors, from supermarket shelves through consumers (yes, they do have supermarkets in Africa -- I'm thinking of Maseru's in particular), and back to the ground.

The rate at which the food is consumed, calories burned, relates to power, i.e. energy per time interval (P = E/t). Energy itself may be expressed as action per time interval (E = hf), where action is always-angular momentum for a distance (mvd; f = frequency = 1/t, h = Planck's Constant).

Energy relates to events, which spend energy. The sun, our local big spender, lavishes energy throughout our solar system. Our planetary ecosystem "surfs the solar gradient," absorbing on some frequencies, and reflecting back what it doesn't use.

I've been learning through Wanderers about Tesla Motors and its new electric roadster, which accelerates quickly (lots of power). Where will the energy come from, to charge its batteries?

Initially, there won't be enough "Teslamobiles" in circulation to challenge grid capacity, but the state of the grid is something to always consider, starting in elementary school.

This morning, I'm up early to check my tires, plus otherwise get pumped for Bridge Pedal, an annual energy event in our town, catering especially to cyclists.

All 10 bridges are closed to cars, or at least some lanes or decks are reserved for cyclists and peds only, for a few hours. A couple of our bridges, Marquam and Fremont, have two decks for cars 'n trucks, one atop the other (The Steel has a lower deck just for trains and peds, with light rail and cars crossing up top).

I'll be burning a fair number of joules in a hurry this morning (I'm supposed to start around 7 AM), a measure of this 1958 body's power output abilities. I'll be on TinkerBell of course, a somewhat chunky hybrid (part mountain, part touring) that fits my large frame and somewhat prominent belly.

I'll finish this post later, and chronicle how it all went.


OK, not the energy events I'd planned. Time for a confession: TinkerBell and I have a somewhat unprofessional relationship. Yes, I can change her tubes, but only clumsily. So when the rear valve decided "no longer my problem to hold back the air" (OO: I am a valve, what do I say?), I stuck in a new tube, but then overinflated it at the 76, and then POW! I literally blew it.

I don't regret the donation to charity (Bridge Pedal is not a free event), but I'm sorry about the missed workout. The new iPod should help with that (podcasts on the treadmill). Shapewise, I'm lagging the president, look more like the veep (which probably explains the antipathy).

Maybe next year then, Insha'Allah.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Linus Pauling House

photo from website

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wanderers 2006.8.8

photo by Rick Grote

Allen G. Taylor is presenting Navigating by the Stars: How the Polynesians traveled to Hawai'i, an informal talk he's rehearsing for presentation aboard a cruise ship in the near future.

Simulating cruise ship behavior (per Allen's suggestion), I rudely interrupted to raise the topic of beverages. I now have some wine at my elbow and have returned to my corner, quiet for now.

Before Allen showed up, Rick and I were going to show slides of Rick's bicycle trip, and my Game of Life "cartoon". However, synching was a problem (only half my screen visible) so when Allen showed up, I stopped trying to work it. Maybe later.

Allen is positing Polynesians starting in the New Guinea area, radiating toward Tahiti, then settling Hawai'i in like the last 1K years. Perhaps a lost vessel followed the light and ash of an active volcano, once close enough to see them?

Hawai'i is still under construction: new islands expected, as the volcanic chain progresses.

Stars (their rising and setting positions), wave angle and frequency, cloud formations, bird sightings, all fed into the Polynesians' executive level decision-making process. The Etak System used a 3rd island to help point the way between origin and destination islands.

Related paper: Daiber, A. J. (1986). Significance of constellations in Carolinian navigation. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 95(3), 317-378. (PDF version).

Related memo: Urner, K. (2006). Some relevant ethnomathematics. Math-teach @ Math Forum.

polynesians on steroids
(photo by k. urner)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hiroshima Day

Portlanders traditionally gather on August 6th (mas o men0) to renew their commitment to fight against those who'd bring nuclear weapons into reality. Whether used or not, it's the intent behind them that exudes low living standards and foments mental squalor.

Soulless zombie wombat corporations (only fictitiously human) feed on those still living, sapping their strength and intelligence, perpetuating obsolete and irrelevant reflex-conditioning (jerky puppets, "Pinocchio syndrome").

I was doing BBQ this evening, on Kim & Jimmy's new rig (I helped them assemble it), but first drove Carol (Mom) to the event, at Waterfront Park, and got a full report afterwards (from Maureen as well).

Apparently Bucky Fuller's idea of "final exam time" was used to frame the main speaker's speech (Maureen: "he's a medical doctor"). Several hundred people turned out. The City forgot to turn off its sprinkler system, which came on towards the end of the event, but spirits were not dampened thereby, thanks to taiko drummers and company.

I've been on the phone with brother Sam this morning. Apparently Bud is willing to help back our bizmo concept from his HQS in Florida. Also, friend Kathleen sent this helpful picture. We're definitely cookin' with gas.

Also in celebration of our livingry-based global culture, I bought a used 60 gig iPod complete with iDog and extra speakers on eBay (shipper in Indiana). August 6 is a time to think ahead to a promising future, as well as to celebrate our escape from the wrong thinking of the past.

We also watched the pilot of The 4400 (on loan from Elizabeth) and some Popeye cartoons from the mid 1950s, including Parlez Vous Woo (speaking of wrong thinking see pg. 111 of Todd Schorr's Dreamland, Last Gasp Press, ISBN 0-86719-589-4).

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Before our detractors get ahold of it, and say it sneeringly, lets add a Mickey Mouse Club spin and be happy for our growing ranks of Buckaneers and Buckaneer wannabes.

"Good morning boyz & girlz, and now let's see what new toyz we might share with you today" (yes, I know you're sick and tired of killer rockets, bombs in cars, but take heart: this is a livingry show).

"Buckaneer" is an alternative to "Fullerite," "Buckyophile," "Fuller devotee" and/or "disciple" (said with curled lip). Kiyoshi came back with "Adjuvant," which surprised people (hey, the guy was a genius, what can I say?).

The good thing about "Buckaneer" is it has the right light-hearted piratical flavor, complete with the informality you'd expect among swashbucklers of either sex (although he liked to be called Captain, even Admiral, I don't deny it).

It also rhymes with "engineer" (a design science connotation) and "bioneer" (a bridge to the biological sciences)).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Python Pedagogy

From today's edu-sig, typo fixed:

I don't know if I'm the first to think of this, but there's some obvious imagery to employ when teaching about the built-in overloadable Python methods, as a bridge to classes in general: they look like ribs.

Think of a Snake:

class Snake:

But the connotations run deeper. The ribs join to a backbone, which is where a lot of low level reflexes get wired, which is what built-in methods do (react as callables). So we're really building up this class/creature metaphor at the "ascii art" level, as well as conceptually: a strong mnemonic, a cornucopia of relevant associations.

Finally, there's a move characteristic of the Bucky-informed brands: we associate ribs with eaves (pun), the idea of a ceiling: on a boat flipped over. Boats are the original hulls (of sea peoples anyway), but brought up on land, and flipped over, they become houses.[1]

You may recall "the home" (as a paradigm class) is a another core feature of my emerging Pythonic pedagogy -- except we'll be branching out into DwellingMachines(maybe as a subclass of a common ancestor).[2]


[1] R. Buckminster Fuller, Tetrascroll: A Cosmic Fairy Tale

[2] """
I think using the home as a paradigm class is propitious, as there's lots of implied complexity, especially once HVAC and AC/DC become a focus (lots of APIs). You have the media room, the pantry, the scullery -- the whole pattern language of places. The Sims gives us visuals. OO gives us implementations.

[Edu-sig] More OO chatter from the Edubuntu box kirby urner kirby.urner at Mon May 29 22:32:00 CEST 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blaming Castro

I wonder if anyone else'll pick up on this remark by CBS News National Correspondent Byron Pitts last night: "and by shipping Russian missiles to Cuba in 1962, Castro took the world closer to nuclear war than it's ever been."

So it's not a nuclear war if only other countries get it in the neck? This close to the anniversary of the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think we should cop to the fact that WWII went nuclear.

I'm not surprised Israeli military spokesmen keep sounding these little brother notes, trying to act so shockingly and awesomely brutal, just like their big brother king of the kill.

It's human nature to seek the admiration of role models.

Later that same night, I caught part of 48 Hours (which I don't usually): was Marilyn Monroe murdered because of her intimate and politically sensitive relationships with the Kennedy brothers?

That would seem far-fetched. I don't believe it. Neither did the principal journalist.

"Murder Inc." had much more on its mind than maid Marilyn back then (Fidel Castro for example -- and Diem). The Kennedys could be protected in other, more benign ways (until it became their turn -- and here I do believe in a cover up, per Prouty).