Thursday, November 30, 2006

Today's Highlights

Re getting more mathcasts on Youtube and elsewhere:
I, on the other hand, have direct and immediate needs, given my sub- and/or counter-culture doesn't get much of a footprint in K12, thanks to a closed minded math teaching ethnicity.

I need vidclips communicating the angle/frequency distinction (4D vs 4D++), A & B mods assembling polyhedra with specific ratios, vector arithmetic, Couplers, Fuller Map unfoldings, global data within hexapent overlays, octahedron-tetrahedron space fills as used in architecture and crystallography, geodesic spheres (and domes), sphere packing arrangements, figurate and polyhedral numbers, concentric hierarchy of polys, T & E mods, Euler's Law for Polyhedra, Descartes' Deficit and so on. The stuff of basic numeracy in other words. [1]
Re vouchers (i.e. using taxes to support private sectarian religious schools):
Where I see vouchers I'd hope to also see a massive tax revolt, as patriotic Americans protested the misuse of the state's power to tax on behalf of religious and other private sectarian institutions. Paying taxes to such a regime would go against everything in our founding documents. Such a regime would be treasonous by definition and should not be permitted to use any of the signs and seals of the United States of America. [2]
Then there's this gem from Al Jazeera:
For his part, al-Maliki denied that Iran had any influence over Iraq or any part of the embattled capital Baghdad.

He also said Iraq will never allow any foreign control of his war-wracked country. "We have repeatedly said, and we reaffirm once more, that we will never allow anyone to control any part of Iraq," al-Maliki said, when asked about alleged Iranian interference in Iraq.

"There are [foreign] interferences but any talk about [foreign] control is exaggerated."
I'm sure intelligent readers won't miss the irony in having this be about Iran, given which country is currently rolling tanks through the streets of Baghdad.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Seattle Center, Early 21st Century

We had lunch in the Seattle Center's Center House, according to local mythology the original indoor food court, then copied to all the big malls (Seattle's Northgate serving as a "big mall" prototype, as did Portland's Lloyd Center).

Dawn had a berry smoothie, which Tara and I shared, along with our pizza slices and bread sticks.

The Koreans held center stage, providing dances to music, with lots of young Seattleites in on the act.

Nearer the entrance: a large scale model railroad set in some idyllic Norman Rockwell style urbia, closer to the Horseless Carriage Era (which we're still very much in, but no one calls 'em that anymore).

I keep thinking the Bubbleator started its career in this building, but it's the other way around: it moved to Center House after KeyArena was remodeled into a sports stadium.

I just ran a fact check on the Bubbleator's story over the web, a 21st Century asset hard to foresee as recently as 1962 (when the Seattle World's Fair opened, myself a visitor at age 4), although Vannevar Bush aimed pretty well in his 1945 MEMEX prophecy, As We May Think.

Anyway, we rode an ordinary elevator to find free eating tables on the 2nd floor, one up from the crowded Food Circus. Families were pushing giant chess pieces in the alcove next to ours, while strange-talkin' vets with laptops availed themselves of free wireless.

We chose Center House after discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls were booked until evening, and figuring we didn't have time for the whole science museum. Some Food Circus food, and a quick tour of the Space Needle satisfied our craving for some Seattle high culture, having already seen Bodies on the trip north, plus we'd stopped at Math n' Stuff earlier that morning.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Learning the Ropes

I'm in the role of city slicker, learning about life on the farm. Today was Electric Fences 101.

The fibers are mostly nonconductive, but with a few strands of metal woven in, as a part of the spiralling.

A strongly biased circuit gets shorted to ground by extraneous foliage, triggering arcs across gaps, as electrons rush to fill the void. Such shorts waste calories, plus add annoying ticks to the TV.

The horses, stubborn pony or whatever, will presumably wise up after testing their freedoms (perhaps a simple sniff communicates the presence of high voltage), but foliage doesn't revector itself so easily in response to the threat of shocks, isn't really the intended target of this fencing.

So after √Člise stretched some new line, Les went around with the pruning shears, redefining the intended circuit.

Many farm engineers cut away all foliage to at least four feet on either side, but here they allow fencing to plunge through some smallish thickets, in keeping with the "less manicured" look, closer to wilderness perhaps, but still quite usable by the so-called civilized.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ritual Meal Prep

stokin' the smoker
wrappin' in foil

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Flushed Away (movie review)

Being an Oregonian, I especially loved the slugs (our state bird ya know).

The animation technique pays homage to claymation ala Wallace and Gromit.

London sets the stage for exaggerated class differences, with the Kensington Rat (Tony Blair type) finding his familial roots in the sewer (sexy girl rat).

As Dawn commented, you need to be up on your movie allusions to fully track some of the humor.

For example, the "daddy, I want a pony" meme is something of a joke around our house, ever since the Willy Wonka makeover (Johnny Depp & Co.). That meme pops up here with a vengeance at one point, as we satirize the villain, a Toad of Toad Hall type, and his spawn.

The behind-the-scenes puppet master toad is stereotypically driven by some crackpot scheme for world domination, which all too predictably includes "ethnic cleansing" in some dimension (i.e. let's get rid of the sewer rats).

Everyone wants to deprive the UK of its native street smarts it seems, including the French (the mime frog was a nice touch).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ethnic Diversity

:: recruiting in Jersey City ::

:: recruiting in Portland ::

Friday, November 17, 2006

About Secularism

I believe there's been some confusion about the Great Seal and its significance. Some people think "seclorum" means "secular" as in "new secular order", which is wrong. "Seclorum" means "of the ages" or thereabouts.

A theologian might say "that's what I meant: temporal, i.e. fallen from God's grace" presuming God has a hate feeling for Time or vice versa. But in my judgment that's wrong too.

I see it more as a Tower of Babel relationship: as you get higher in your Pyramid, you get greater overview, sure, but you're also more alone in your angle on things. As we Quakers say, communing with God is not about getting everyone else to think the way you do. You individualize or individuate as the Jungians put it. Don't expect to sound just like everyone else when you do this.

So my translation of "secular" is more like "friendly to individuals" which might mean "characters" i.e. these one-of-a-kind, unique specimens. By definition, we're not all on the same page.

But that hatred of "different" is refreshingly absent, and that's what I'm getting at. The Great Seal is a promise, of acceptance, of many religions, many creeds and philosophies, many ethnicities. The Statue of Liberty is in keeping with this message.

You the Individual have this special privilege of ascending this Pyramid to achieve greater overview. We enshrine that viewpoint as a Presidency, in our temporal model of intelligent government.

But it's really each of us with this power to internalize a virtual president, as long as we don't expect to become tyrants at the top (as if that'd make any sense to anyone).

:: the great seal ::

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Synergeo 30549

L11383.wrl by Jim Lehman
viewed with Cortona VRML viewer by Parallel Graphics
in Mozilla FireFox on Windows XP
(click for larger view)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Borat (movie review)

Borat is something like Candid Camera meets All in the Family on steroids, with bigotry, other shocking attitudes and behaviors, on parade at every turn, amidst a lot of inspired clowning.

The question is: how candid is this camera, which can't be hidden, given the angles, but still pretends it isn't there?

The film pokes fun at this news reel and documentary motif, by making Borat's traveling companion a camera shy TV producer. When the two have a falling out and the producer absconds with the bear (a long story), Borat is "all alone" (but how can that be?).

The camera is strongly an omniobjective third person, and yet Borat talks to it, confides to it.

The candidness of those playing themselves in this film is what makes it so comical, so if The Making of Borat on the DVD discloses lots or rehearsing and/or retakes, that'll detract from the sense of spontaneity and improv, by turning "real people" into comic actors (like Borat himself, a top ranking professional clown).

Our sense of it, in the audience, is that the Borat plus cameraman combo, with lurking producer, must come across as believable to these North Americans, who see themselves as if on TV anyway, from having watched it so much. So their unselfconscious on-camera behavior does come across as completely candid, especially on that TV studio set, where the talent is quite used to living on screen.

In disrupting the weather report, Borat exposes the invisible rules by breaking them. The weather guy finds this irrepressibly funny, in keeping with the overall tone and technique of this film.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Back to the Silicon Forest

:: bud's house ::
I'm high tailing it back to the stormy Pacific Northwest, having chauffered family to/from Bud's southeast of Orlando, leaving Dawn, Tara and Alexia to enjoy a couple more days of fun in the sun. I have a class to teach tomorrow morning, part four of a five part Pythonic Mathematics for Saturday Academy, so no Shamu for me this trip. S'OK.

Bud, aka Arthur Dix, contracted polio while in the military, made captain in the Civil Air Patrol in the 1940s, then made a career with Eastern Airlines in operations. Bud married Dawn's mom Glenys after she divorced Don and moved with her kids, Dawn and Sam, to Satellite Beach. Carla, the youngest, stayed with her dad.

They started building a new house together, which was left partially unfinished after Glenys died unexpectedly from what should have been a routine hospital procedure. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of her death.

Bud has two loving daughters by a previous marriage who live nearby and help him with the complications of old age. We all gathered for take out pizza last night.

My thanks to Continental Airlines, Alamo, UPS and Providence Home Services for helping to make this trip possible.

:: impala ::

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More Election Day News

Bad news was the blaze in Orlando, killing two pythons and a gator. I've got Orlando in my headlights these days, of course hoping for zero road kill (sometimes weird stuff tries to cross the road in the dark around there).

Some New York Times editorial, Russian Maneuvers, American Incoherence by one John Vinocur, suggests Russia is the baddie again, trying to be soft on Iranian vaporware plus doing evil things around energy:
Senator John McCain, a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2008, wanted America to boycott last summer's G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg because it legitimized Russia's course away from democracy and its threats to halt energy supplies to countries like Ukraine.
Politicians need ways to strike manly poses I suppose, and I'm betting the Russians'll put up with it -- it's not like they're new to such fun and games.

I bought some new shoes, laceless, checked off a few other "to doozies" (sounds like what Simpsons' Flanders might do).

Although I'd planned to move Portland Knowledge Lab, unless liberated from pay wifi by now, I didn't have time to do more than speak with management about the issue -- and pay another month. I've got too much on my plate to undertake the hassle of relocating just now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Monster House (movie review)

Starting with a falling leaf is a tribute to other films (Forrest Gump certainly, and I think A Bug's Life as well), plus establishes a bench mark, giving the flavor of the animation to come, in this case very competent.

The little girl on the tricycle establishes the humor level (quite high), and the preoccupied parents, plus baby sitter with boy friend, establishes our young hero's level of alienation from, and oppression by, his elders (also quite significant).

The plot is about an intergenerational bridge developing between someone just starting to connect with the opposite sex, and a more "been there done that" late in life guy haunted by past decisions. The older man is not entirely dead to this life, is just living a nightmare, brought about by his own sense of dedication to a lost cause.

The oldster, we discover, was trying to save a damsel in distress, but she was just too scarred by the teasing and cruelty of her own circus scenario, and she lashes out to her own detriment, resulting in her downfall and trapped "house wife" existence.

The old man is weighed down by the burden of his failed rescue attempt, and eyes all children with hatred and suspicion as the cause of his suffering, finding out only towards the end that they're actually a liberating influence.

Chowder is the brilliant Stand By Me dufus and sidekick who likewise overcomes obstacles, displays courage and loyalty, plus improved motor coordination, and therefore likewise matures through the arc of this film (albiet along a more comical trajectory).

And yet our ghost busting threesome are still children in the end, as are on some level the cops who came after them (but who were insufficiently believing in the reality of the dark side).

Having a girl on the team, likewise brilliantly played as stereotypically more adult-like than her peers, proves highly motivational to both boys. That crack about the uvula was hysterical.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Domestic Scenes

Tara spends a lot of time plotting to score an Aibo (discontinued collectors' item by Sony), has money saved and keeps watching the boards.

She bristles if challenged her robopet fixation entails turning away from biopets (Sarah-the-dog looking soulful), pointing out it's an AND not an OR proposition, plus they're really quite different types of object under the hood.

She's struggling with self-images about being spoiled ("Daddy, I want a pony" syndrome in Willy Wonka), knowing how many kids wake up to a day of scrounging through garbage, looking for a next meal.

But we both know appropriate and intelligent use of high tech, including robotic, might help mitigate these breakdowns in our Global U.

Dawn's physical issue today was hand pain and numbness stemming from her life extension regimen. We're gonna play around with an over the counter Costco solution, see if that works.

More metaphysically, she's whipping through novels at a mile a minute. This last one was about some future female DL (Dalai Lama) imprisoned in some tower, but this Shrekie like guy masters the art of mind-body exchange and saves her (I forget what happens to him at this point, plus I'm no doubt garbling it -- some nutty professor of Tibetan Studies came up with this one).

Did I mention liking The Iron Bridge, also science fiction? There're some Quakers in that one.

Alexia reports that Motorola Razrs, stylish for sure, suffer among the highest rates of heads breaking off, other annoyances (she's co-managing in a tech support bunker for a variety of cell model customers). Maybe these problems 've been fixed, I dunno (I've got a Motorola, true, but couldn't justify shelling out for such Tom Cruisey glamour (it'd be kinda unQuakerly, what with our simplicity testimony 'n all (on the other hand, if there were indispensible features...))).

I need a haircut myself. I look too much like Jack Nicholson in Anger Management (that look works for him, but I shouldn't be a copycat). Or maybe I'm that Back to the Future guy (no, not the handsome one, the mad hatter).

Tara is also ploughing through y'r standard elementary school Western Civ sequence, which lionizes the Greeks for their mental achievements, after which it's pretty much downhill until we get to Machine World and modern man.

Not much about Phoenicians, per usual, an ocean-based Kingdom (these tend to escape focus in landlubber accounts). Yes, the big-I Imperialists wasted Carthage, have been at it ever since pretty much (Bucky's "horse-mounted bullies" in Critical Path).

Carol is pin-balling around the US, soon to Geneva, having taught a mini-course at Earlham in Indiana (a Quaker hangout) and attended an executive board meeting of AFSC in Philly (she just called me from there). We'll be shipping some of her worldly goods back to the LA area as a part of her annual winged migration to/from sunnier climes.

Today is Saturday, so I'm putting on my school teacher hat. Last night I published another piece of curriculum writing about the kind of math teaching I'm into c/o math-teach @ Math Forum. I'm more in a reality TV mode than Numb3rs, which I explained to Tara is highly fictionalized (which is true of most cop shows).