Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Renewing Old Ties

Laura Martin phoned last night. Her mother's memorial service last year helped me reconnect with Tom Connolly and Alice Prideaux, for which I'm grateful.

Laura was trying to track down Ross Mackinney, son of the late Anne Friend, and treasured member of our Gathering of Western Young Friends back in the day. I promised I'd search the web (Laura, in Port Townsend, has no computer). So far, I've managed to find this engaging bio of the guy:

Ross Mackinney: Ross has been juggling, telling stories, and studying folklore since his youth. He began performing profesionally in 1979 and received a BA in "Communication of Oral Tradition" from San Francisco State University in 1985. He studied Celtic Folklore at UC Berkeley, and in Whales, where he found opportunities to perform at local festivals and for the BBC television and radio. Back in the States, he joined the Missoula Children's Theatre and spent two seasons bringing a one-week theater workshop to children ages 5-15. The tours stretched from Alberta to Arizona, reaching 41 communities and putting over 2,000 children on stage. Since 1988, Ross has taught juggling, drama, and speech to students of all ages in addition to his performing career. He currently holds a masters degree in Speech and Communication. [source]

I feel blessed to have partially overlapped such individuals. The Men's Group, Wanderers, BCFM, have all fed my soul. And let's not forget Camp Myrtlewood itself, John and Margaret, the Snyders.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bizmo Diaries (the movie)

Liner notes: Personal videoblog genre, complete with head shots, allusions to pets and personal devices.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wanderers 2007.1.23

Our Linus Pauling House was blessed with a visit from a prominent civic minded lawyer in our Portland Community, an Islamic man of Indonesian heritage, with some Dutch mixed in (they practiced apartheid on him), plus he's Latino.

He's kinda like my first son-in-law, also Indonesian. He and Alexia were stars of Rocky Horror Picture Show (where the audience acts out in unison with that strange movie -- shows at Clinton Street Theater to this day).

Given her husband's military commitments, Alexia moved to Fort Campbell, but then marriage took its toll, and he was shipped out to Korea, no spouses allowed. They divorced and much later she married a musician, also with an Asian background, like me.

Anyway, Ronault Latang Sajang Catalan is suspicious of any culture that would stage Bodies, the roaming exhibit(s) -- like that one in Miami sure looked fancy compared to London/Seattle's. This must be more of that same culture that dug tunnels through a graveyard for the new light rail awhile back.

A clash of cultures.

Engineers who don't believe in ghosts are the problem, I agree. "Walking cadavers" is how we think of them (just kidding -- they're taxpayers, just like everyone else).

Seriously though, I didn't know OMSI was on the list for Bodies, so I'm pleased to get some advance warning. We might need to have a few more group therapy sessions before that happens.

The house was packed tonight: Nirel, Joe the psychiatrist, Barry the Banker, Jon the musician, Brian the ecologist, Allen Taylor... plus this new guy into Electric Universe (their publisher), who was talking quite boldly for a newcomer. I'm glad we're not intimidating to strangers. Democratic R Us.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Wild Blue Yonder (movie review)

A cynical reading of this film is now that Werner Herzog is a demi-god, anything written and directed by him by definition gets shelf space at Hollywood Video, and rave reviews, at least from any knowing critic of the cinema (and don't all critics aspire to sound knowing?). "Like the Clooney vehicle remake of Solaris" I hear them crow.

A kinder reading is this boy from Bavaria gets to fulfill a lifelong dream of his boyhood and rub shoulders with astronauts (I love it where he calls them "overqualified" on the commentary track -- as if humans had any more "out there" job to offer).

A still kinder reading is that Herzog gently spoofs a bunch of art movie conventions (everyone expects a Nowhere America by now, some Bleep-like talking heads) going into a rare collection of documentary footage that most of us just wouldn't see otherwise, and that his cheap trix help knock us into a headspace where we sort of look, with fresh eyes, and realize we are in an episode of Alien World, and good alien worlds are very hard to find.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Some Night Shots

:: rare toy, PKL collection ::

:: neighborhood billboard ::

:: same billboard by day ::

Friday, January 19, 2007

CP4E versus OLPC

Although I use the word "versus" here, I'm not implying Computer Programming for Everybody and One Laptop per Child are enemies. In fact, many promising low cost laptop models make intensive use of Python, among other languages, which'll help serve our goals in CP4E (Python is easy and fun to teach).

However, there's a real difference, in that E means Everyone, and C means Child. At the Math Forum, I shadow NCLB with NALB as well. Adults matter too, and in family mode, guardians and children tend to learn together. The curriculum writing needs to have stuff for moms and dads in it too, as do the blockbuster movie theater cartoons, starring major talents.

Adults have very real world concerns about food and shelter, and our CP4E DynaDome concept encompasses those and provides a home schooling solution. Junior gets the DynaBook (A. Kay), but maybe as a part of the home and garden's infrastructure (B. Fuller), per this Wanderers presentation (by me 'n Jay) on Google Video (~3 mins).

Synergeo #32063:
Convergence of the CP4E and OLPC campaigns is an
important development for the Fuller School, as the
former serves our need to pass on Synergetics, while
the latter easily synchs with our dwelling machine
agenda (home and garden family campus), wherein
the Dynabook is a feature.

More in my blog: [link to this post]

There's a ton of background literature coming from
three different directions here, to form a confluence.
I think the down stream mix will be full of healthful,
integrative concepts.

I missed Fritjof Capra's ISEPP lecture last night. Glenn filled me in over coffee at Peet's.

My name is in the Oregonian today, in that story about MetroFi continuing to expand, with me in the shadows, counting holes. The front page revisits the Kim Family tragedy.

today's Oregonian, page B2
(click for larger view)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I'm not one of those people who thinks a lot about supplements, though I take some (some niacin and such), have mentioned doing so in this blog.

Perhaps in an ideal democracy, we're all these super well educated Incredibles, and trust ourselves to help ourselves to whatever medications, because we're all physician-philosophers and take our mandate to treat ourselves ("heal thyself!") both seriously and liberally.

In practice, however, we do what we so often do, which is protect the "power tools" behind a counter, and let lay people (people of average skill) play with some lesser caliber fare, though still potent I would hazard, if you know what you're doing (or don't).

And not even lesser caliber necessarily, but perhaps simply Chinese. There's simply no way to authoritatively audit every aspect of millenia of practices, other than slowly but surely, empirically, with eyes wide open. The medical journals are filling with such studies as we speak. Here in Portland, many Eastern therapies win respect, for conditions like lower back pain for example.

For this reason, we don't push political powers to regulate well past the capacity of science to hand down decisions, as if you could simply turn up the speed of the reviewing line, and run every food supplement, Chinese herb, folk remedy, quack theory, past the eyeballs of some easy breezy know-it-all refs.

That being said, the scare stories, warnings, buyers beware stories, have every right to circulate as well. Just because there's no central committee that plans to censor and/or second guess every decision, doesn't mean those poorly served by a drug or therapy, maybe destroyed by it, should have to shut up and keep quiet. Defenders may also reply to attacks and so on -- we hope with plenty of empirical data on both sides.

Bad press is no more regulated than good press, nor less exempt from empirical testing (circulating unfounded negative stories, as a part of some vendetta perhaps, is always considered bad science no matter who does it).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Synergetics for Wanderers

Remember, we might flip this over, to get the B on the other side, As still in balance.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth (movie review)

I hadn't found a convenient time slot for this, but finely got one, though the phones started ringing towards the end.

The scientific data was well animated, per the Bleep movies, although I was disappointed he used an "iconic" Mercator Projection (iconic of what? -- of all that "old thinking" I'd hazard).

Why not show a Fuller Projection, at least once? Too much of a hot potato maybe, although in other respects this movie seemed to take pages from World Game events, even from Werner Erhard events.

But front and center in this film is Al Gore the persona, a brooding Angel type, looking pensively out of windows, building up a world picture, combined with a kind of Mr. Rogers character, showing us around his planetary neighborhood (with friends everywhere, lucky guy).

Apparently the Gore camp learned at least one lesson from the Bush Jr. camp: have studio audiences looking attentive and mesmerized, laughing with and not at. Keep any inconvenient hecklers out of frame, and don't let them stare distractedly into laptops, doing email, like happens during keynotes at OSCONs and/or Pycons (often much higher bandwidth, though usually minus the fancy stage props, like that power lifter Al uses, in place of a laser pointer).

I know a lot of my friends like this film, because they don't want to be blindsided by large scale suffering (me either). Tara said it seemed somewhat disrespectful to people actually interested in the science, meaning she (like me) found the Gore persona a bit too obtrusive. I'd have preferred a Bill Nye the Science Guy episode with the same budget.

Anyway, I hope Congress starts thinking more deeply about OMR type projects, other "just add water" insta-cities from nowhere, just in case some mega pull back from the shorelines becomes necessary (ominous omens abound).

The prospect of another ice age, with a CO2 spike as harbinger, shouldn't be dismissed completely either, judging from Gore's data. Is the old Hamaker- Weaver thesis completely dead? No need for glacier dust then? Sorry, not really my field.

More experience with Fly's Eyes might help as well, to get our populations more nimble, less anchored to grids, with many of said grids broken and/or bursting at the seams to begin with.

So, my thanks to Al Gore for helping us connect the dots (albeit... rather... slowly...). We're way ahead of ya guy -- which doesn't mean you're off target in showing some concern.

Thanks for the cool slide shows, thanks for the memories.

PS: I can't figure out how to import a music CD in order to transfer its contents to Dawn's iPod at the moment. I bet Tara knows how. I find iTunes somewhat difficult to use -- showing my age perhaps. (Answer: Tara popped the CD out, then back in, which got the ball rolling).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Another Day in The Matrix

"a global matrix guy"
(photo by Dawn Wicca)

A way opened, through a valley of temptation, or a promised land, depending on spin, through the mazeways of Costco.

I feel we chose judiciously and virtuously, Dawn and I: some clothing (I replaced the leather jacket, for that "global matrix guy" look), some cheese (Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp, Emmentaler Swiss), a corduroy jacket for Tara, essentials for Dawn, a box of California Clementines. No KTU3 jumped out at me, which was fine.

Carla's annual box of treats, including a picture of a now all grown up Stevie, arrived in the mail yesterday, Carla being Dawn's sister, the youngest of three, Sam being the eldest.

After the split with Don, Glenys took Sam and Dawn to live with Bud, while Carla remained with her dad. Don and I got along pretty well (never a hard word, that I can recall), but he'd mellowed with age by the time we overlapped.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Gnu Math Proof

To prove:

cubocta(f) == 10*f*f + 2 for f>0, or 1 if f==0.

We will derive Fuller's formula from first geometric principles, knowing that (f+1)**2 balls in 6 square faces plus (f+1)*(f+2)//2 balls in 8 triangular faces, minus derived amounts for doubly counted edge-only balls, quadruply counted vertex balls, should simplify to our reliable result.


Six Square Faces:
6*(f+1)**2 == 6*(f**2 + 2*f + 1) == 6*f**2 + 12*f + 6

Eight Triangular Faces:
8*(f+1)*(f+2)//2 == 4*f**2 + 12*f + 8

Summing these two: 10*f**2 + 24*f + 14

Subtract 1x Edge (but not Vertex) balls:
10*f**2 + 24*f + 14 - 24*(f-1) == 10*f**2 + 38

Subtract 3x Vertex balls:
10*f**2 + 38 - 36 == 10*f**2 + 2.


The geometer H.S.M. Coxeter stated this proof'd be within range of high schoolers, if not sooner, and I think he's obviously right about that.

We care about this sequence because it models a growing CCP packing, a kind of holodeck we use for a lot of visualizations in science and engineering. It also naturally occurs (we know this empirically).

1, 12, 42, 92, 162...
Notationally, it's possible to wire up the growing and/or shrinking cuboctahedron (variable frequency) to a volume number of 20*f**3 i.e. 20 where f==1.

There's not much proof needed to show the efficacy of this aesthetic design, which I use in my P4E and HP4E curriculum writings quite consistently.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Who Killed the Electric Car? (movie review)

Warning, may cause a mild case of misanthropy. Most the science is bleeped out (no cartoons about ions charging around). ExDCI Woolsey shows up at the end, Evangelicals in tow, for an upbeat finish.

There's something cruel about making a gas-powered motor vehicle company eat itself alive. Make a different company with different management push the EVs. Face facts: companies can't both fight to survive, pay pensions, and take poison at the same time. Don't expect them to be so schizophrenic. Have mercy.

Do lawmakers and avid consumers really want to poke their fingers into a lot of fast turning machinery? Do we really know what'd happen if GM were forced to commit suicide? The EV1 was its worst nightmare, the near runaway success of a competing way of life, likely better, and crushing it was the only sane way to go -- if you're GM. Toyota got the jitters too. They saw the future. Who can blame 'em? Who wants to dig their own grave? OK, OK, maybe some people enjoy it.

Like, how about GE versus GM, or some respected name that just wants out of old fashioned internal combustion? Rolls Royce? That might make sense. Engineers don't need to care about brand, if their pensions move with them, along with good working conditions. They'll line up based on what kinds of projects they're good at, what technology makes sense, attracts funding.

The same problem those lawmakers are trying to solve, by "forcing car companies," should maybe be left to rebranding consultants? Little think tanks that specialize? California is good at that stuff. Oregon too.

Keep in mind that many receding technologies achieve their golden age well after we see the writing on the wall. Steam engines, for example, arguably reached their pinnacle when already eclipsed by the diesels.

Dwindling numbers of die-hard gas powered vehicle enthusiasts might still have their fun in the sun for a long time to come -- even more fun than they're having today in their junky guzzlers.

I thought the funniest segment was the old black and white newsreel about big oil in Iraq. The narrator uses that spoiled richie rich voice so common back then, very upper deck Titanic.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

More Changes

So it's Epiphany today, a day for gift giving on the Christian calendar, if you're into linking the gifts to the Three Kings', when they politely showed up some days after Christmas itself, following their lucky star (as Wise Men of the Orient, they knew to wait for the post holiday sales).

Friend AimeƩ came by and helped pack stuff for Alexia and John, for Sam and Judy. I trotted them up (hoofed it) to the UPS Store on Hawthorne and sent these packages on their merry way, via UPS Ground.

Another gift: a speckled oranda with an entourage of three neon tetras, joined the team in our fish tank, courtesy of Tropical Fish Hut (the oranda) and the competition (the neons), another fish and reptile store just a few blocks closer to downtown, other side of Division. AimeƩ's Martin came along for the ride, in one of those special car seats like Tara used to have.

Another gift: we filled out Tara's Full Moon series, manga comix she started reading in Santa Fe. We found them today at Excalibur near Grand Central Bakery.

We also said good bye to our tree, Dawn having wrapped all the ornaments and lights. She was a great tree, a Noble Pine.

We celebrated at Than Thao, with talk of enlightenment and the benefits of reading, versus just watching television. If you don't exercise your brain, who will?

Maureen came by, chatting up son Patrick Long's website.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Public Schools Overseas?

Tara with Python
Socorro, New Mexico

photo by Richard Sonnenfeld

Expats from whatever nation face the quandary of needing to prepare their kids for success in the home country, while meanwhile availing of this opportunity to absorb native memes, native culture.

So, for example, here in Oregon you'll find a lot of Japanese students cramming to pass those exams they'll face back home, while meanwhile trying to learn English and Americanize to some useful degree (many future career paths are open to such "dual core" students).

My wife and I were just having lunch at K2, an excellent Pakistani type restaurant near the Pauling House and I shared this fantasy of opening a USA public boarding school in Thimphu or Bumthang or some such place.

Partly, it'd be for American kids, not even necessarily from expat families, and partly it'd be for a subculture within Bhutanese society that wanted to Americanize to some degree. But instead of enrolling in some distant Columbia School of Journalism, as did one of the Kuensel editors (cool guy!), they could start right at home, seeing if this seemed a promising way to go or not.

Other nations could likewise have their public schools, like the Swiss, already a presence, with a bakery and everything.

Given recent history, however, with Bhutan wanting to steer clear of arrogant superpowers, it's more likely that Canada would get there first. Already, WUSC volunteers have the benefit of Bhutanese sojourns, while the Peace Corps has far less of a presence, if any.

At least, that was the status quo when my parents were there, and I never criticized it. I think Bhutan was wise to take a wait and see attitude vis-a-vis those USAers.

That being said, I think high integrity USA type schools overseas, offering free choices to both locals and USAers alike, is a good idea in principle. We already have them for embassy kids, other expats, but here I'm proposing going a step further, and opening up these academies to stateside families, perhaps as a boarding experience, and on the public dime, because it's in our long term national interest to do so.

Or is the goal to keep making enemies hand over fist? Definitely the USA has been good at that lately, what with these ugly and irresponsible "Warlords R Us" magazine covers.