Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back on 2010

Car 4

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wanderers 2010.12.29

I came to the Linus Pauling Center all hot to trot about this new "weapons inspector" major. The feedback I've been getting ranges from "too narrow" to "too broad", as one would inspect in such academic discussions. The idea of hosting facilities in the Philippines is sparking interest among Japanese sources. Could a consortium of universities look at Okinawa too? MIT?

Glenn and Steve are hold forth on their gemology studies. Glenn is a hard worker and makes stuff. His turquoise may take about three hours to buff. Now they're talking about welding. Jeff and Bill have done this with electronics a lot. Jon Bunce is here as well, the musician. He's the coffee beans keeper, one of the few official roles we've designed into this institution (Wanderers).

We've had a suggestion from "off camera" (from someone not here, using the Internet) to watch a particular TED talk, dunno if we'll get to it. Glenn is back with some welded jewelry, other finery. We're moved to a discussion of taboos, inter-breeding, and hemophilia within the British royal family (Queen Victoria a carrier).

I'm more in the "too narrow" camp (re weapons inspector PhD). The environmental sciences department is seeing the need for sensors, lots of IP numbers, DNS coverage of hydrofracture sites, hundreds of thousands of "bubble villages" (the cleanup crews). Radio-toxins such as crews grapple with at Hanford need not be the sole focus of a given Global U student. Deploying sensors, taking readings, designing visualizations, is simply GIS in action and applies equally to theme park planning (like a roller coaster theme park, Six Flags near LA for example, a First Person Physics project, open to physics majors). When you transfer to the bubbles around Subic Bay, you may or may not have Johnston Atoll on your "to visit" list (maybe you just came from there?). Routing through the Manas Transit Center? You may or may not be in field dress.

What am I reading these days? Lots of stuff, but this one hardcover in particular is worth yakking about. I passed it around the table. The first chapter is about a group not unlike Heaven's Gate in some ways, of Hale-Bopp fame. "They got the wrong Applewhite" quipped Ed on the phone, me at Russ & Deb's for the PNW Synergetics Confab (with other confabs since). Here's the book: Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America by Alex Heard (W.W. Norton Company, 1999). The Unarians weren't into abducting themselves in quite that way.

We're immersed in dinosaur imagery here, literally. Craigmore Creations operates in many of the chambers throughout this Center, turning out quality graphic novels about science, mostly set in the geological (prehistorical) past. Although human observers may be present, which gets a plot line going, you need some pseudo-science to get them there (a time machine perhaps, like in Idiocracy). Per Dr. Fuller (recent meeting), Karplus invented Mr. O, a little observer character with one palm painted (to define left-right orientation), the Observer (or "first person") of any physical vista.

Bill found us this amazing video stream, very fractal. Sharing links is part of the "groupthink" (usually a "bad word", right up there with "hive mind"). For example, David Tver has a text sample in image format, in a language as yet unrecognized, discovered in a Genizah in Cairo. Pat was off to see her friend Kitty, age 98.

Jeff is showing me Pivotal Tracker, which we can use for our storyboard planning (he's already using it at work). I could invite faculty from New Mexico Tech to join me here vs. using Facebook or one of those. Bill: what's atan2? (used in the "3D Mandelbrot" he's studying). We found it on Wikipedia.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rock On Portland

Typos fixed, links added.

--- In Synergeo "coyote_starship" wrote:

> Another meme that makes the rounds is that "conspiracies are bad" i.e.
> you'd never want to throw a surprise party, or be in league with some
> friends and work to steer the company in a positive direction. No,
> those'd be collegial networks among peers, whereas a "conspiracy" is
> by definition nefarious. This FBI guy doesn't seem to have much
> immunity to the "conspiracies are bad" meme.

This is where I'd go back to the memeplex I was hammering on with an influential McLuhanite (newmedia) with Church of Bob connections. Synergetics Dictionary -> M -> Marshall McLuhan gives us a scene wherein Marshall shows up on Bucky's radar going "I've read your books, and I want to join your conspiracy". Said in a cheerful, affable style no doubt, with a tinge of mischief.

The word "conspiracy", meaning "to breathe with", also has that "piracy" meme embedded (there it is, right in the spelling -- aren't memes fun? not unlike numerology, a sub-branch of memetics). Pirates conspire. Or Pyrates.

Now here in Portland, we like Pirates, think they're cool, might dress and talk like pirates on some days. So we might like conspiracies too then? Let's say we do.

A radical bookstore like Laughing Horse is where people are likely to know a lot about the various conspiracy theories ("911 inside job" is a bevy of theories, not just one). They're like librarians, or at least the more experienced ones are. More like Giles or the female equivalent in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Portland as a city is quite well read, with some enormous famous bookstores (Powell's especially, but others too) and a really excellent library system (the on-line stuff works). So it stands to reason that Portland, even without a Library of Congress, is able to serve as a decent intelligence gathering headquarters.

Our analysts are nothing to sneeze at.


Geed Squad

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa's Elves (movie preview)

This one is about North Americans gleefully making bombs, designing new kinds of horrors, with many of them professing some kind of twisted "religulosity" to justify their livelihoods.

Disturbing. Reminders of Why We Fight.

Keeping most of it a cartoon is a cute touch, as an offset to the grim realities.

I can see where the Elves wouldn't want to tarnish their good image (Lord of the Rings was too kind), and their morale is Santa's concern.

Will it come out in 3D?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hanukkah 2010

We're getting closer to Judaism in making Hanukkah our December event after Thanksgiving.

We used to throw a big Solstice Party.

Dawn didn't proclaim herself Christian, though she was cleared as a Quaker, was a member of the Religious Society of Friends through Multnomah Meeting.

We enjoy schmoozing with those doing the tree thing in their living rooms, even if we don't do one ourselves. More ornaments should be polyhedrons. A virtual tree would do (on the LCD). The scene would keep changing. A reverie.

I'm somewhat predatory, though appropriately diplomatic when it comes to nuts, eggnog, other winter cheer. I got a ride in a Cadillac today, to the supermarket. Our kitchen was somewhat bare again. Last night I tried boiling vegetables, including some greens and marinated tofu. Not half bad. But I do like a box of Coca Krispies now and then, and lots of coffee.

The hanukkah gifts were generous. Soaps and chocolate, socks, stuff we really do use.

I grabbed an Advent Calendar out of the garage awhile back, a wooden one that Dawn hoped we'd use -- she was raised Catholic and recognized the power of rituals. I set it atop the upright piano, a gift from the Braithwaite family years ago.

This time of year, I tend to truck out my "Fourth King" myth, but I haven't thought of anything new to add. Maybe others will take it on (they weren't Christians either, those kings -- no one was back then).

Speaking of Christmas, Sam Lanahan his been like Santa Claus lately, mailing out his beautiful book to a long list of people (Dave Koski was pleased to find his, under a pile of snow on his doorstep, in the midst of a blizzard).

Sam is also giving away free samples of the prototype materials. Customers need only pay shipping.

FNB was also distributing some hanukkah "geld" (chocolate money) thanks to Satya. He offered the bag to me but we agreed it was for younger children than mine.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Office Work

As I was complaining to Patrick:
Today I'm regretting not taking you up on some summer time offer to pour trailer park slop on my upper deck, which needs a new sealant. I just went up and relaid the tarp, in the faint hope that'll help. The ceiling in my office, in the meantime, is cracking along seams (latex paint layer). The electrical tape solution was ugly and pointless (the glue melts when damp). This surgical tape solution, porous to let the blood through, might be just the ticket for now...
The bookkeeper's computer is rebooting at will. I took it outside for a dusting, but there may be deeper damage. It reboots even from within BIOS. Maybe a hard disk transplant into another skeleton computer would solve the problem. I'd have to dig one up somewhere. That's also the network printer controller...

My equipment is out of date, as is my domicile more generally (1905). In some experimental prototype community of tomorrow, a leading buckaneer wouldn't be some Wall-e in a junkyard, all intelligent life on vacation (Orlando?).

I'm glad mom is doing OK in average 70 degree weather (Whittier). Tara was gung ho to hit the debate circuit again this weekend, but her team (and coach) need their rest.

I'd gladly upgrade the Blue House to meet Global U codes (and help define them), but that'd require some planning and organization, both of which are in short supply in this day and age, at least where radical math teaching is concerned.

Walker took off after dark for a remote tool shop on the outskirts of town. Why do everything nocturnally? My senses reel.

The Dead Mathematicians Society (DMS) has been suggesting I give a talk. I just submitted a proposal.

My attempt to do multi-threaded COM was successful, but the code is quite "mickey mouse" as my scuba instructor Gill Gilleland was wont to say -- exMarine, professional recovery diver.

Mark Hammond himself dropped by on comp.lang.python on response to my query, wow.

I made some baby steps forward with OST as well.

Writing to Nirel:
As individuals we're brilliant. As teams working together, you'd think we could do more. Anyway, that's how it seems tonight -- thinking about teams.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Choosing a Flavor

The next generation of forms handling is XForms, another W3 standard.

I've been experimenting with ODK Build, which allows one to build phone-ready forms for the Android.

The "ice cream factory in Havana" might be one of the simulations, keying off Senator Leahy's remarks about getting a Ben & Jerry's in Cuba, in a manner consistent with zoning and city ordinances.

ODK Build

Ice Cream for Einstein

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Facebook Excerpts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Olive Branch

featured artist: Mario Marín

I held out an olive branch to the functional programmers today. They've been registering their distaste for what some have called the "object oriented paradigm" (OOP), saying it's not really a "paradigm".

That might be true. Or if it is a paradigm, it's a very old one, embedded in natural language. Animals have behaviors signified by verbs. Animals, signified by nouns, inherit characteristics (adjectives, properties) from their ancestors. What's new about that? Nothing.

What's proved a lasting innovation was the notation, and that notation is "dot notation" (DN).

So instead of writing "object oriented notation" in place of "object oriented paradigm", I merely substitute "dot notation", with the caveat that some OO languages don't actually use it (which is fine, diversity rocks).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Conversations about Bizmos

Friends and relatives know I've had this idea for a long time, of roving vehicles that aren't just recreational, get work done.

We already have lots of utility vehicles on the road, including some that provide health care.

This trip north have provided some more opportunities to discuss the idea. I just filed another brain dump to Synergeo on the topic.

I've got a lot of interesting science fiction going, way better than most IMO, in the sense of realizable. So much dilly-dallying goes on. Where's the beef?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yakking with Patrick

Sir Patrick was by yesterday evening, one of our resident geniuses (97214: the zip code of geniuses in the city that works).

Dr. Nick came in later, and we screened A Necessary Ruin against the classroom wall (same arrangement I'm using to teach Python).

We also talked about girl scout math, which LW is pioneering -- a kind of bridge between Supermarket Math and Neolithic Math per my Heuristics for Teachers. One needs to shop wisely, meaning a lot of homework goes into the BE phase (GST). One simulates, plays "what if" in one's head. Then you jump out of a helicopter or whatever (perhaps as a rescuer, perhaps as an occupier, perhaps as a company shill... many language games might apply).

I also shared this little cartoon that's good for learning Wittgenstein's philosophy. I used it in my last Python class as well, given the nominalist (name -> object) model it well illustrates, antithetical to pragmatic operationalism but in an edifying way.

Given Barton's connections to Hollywood, I'm always left thinking about documentaries when he leaves. There's a lot of retarded slowness in getting those S3 cartoons imported. We're coming up on another NFL that'll just show off how "left behind" is the Lower 48, or so I'm anticipating. The USA is now the basket case of the world, refusing to upgrade, putting future shock off onto everyone else. That's a theme of Idiocracy and deserves to be played up.

Blaming King Obama for not waving his magic wand fast enough might give rise to a Harry Potter for president movement. Lets watch for tell tale signs of that happening. Without proper civics training in the schools, USAers fall back on monarchy and the claptrap of the Ivory Tower and its royal societies. We're back to courtly models, socialites buzzing around a throne. The socialism of the celebrity class, bejeweled and tawdry, is just more Lord of the Flies.

I'm no Anglophobe ala LaRouche, but then I'm not into kowtowing to Hogwarts when it comes to ethics, faith and practice. That's one school among many. We've got better witches, and more "right stuff" free software, a better meme pool overall.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Walking with Nick

I joined Dr. Consoletti for a saunter to 17th and Hawthorne, site of the Barley Mill (a Grateful Dead capital) where we dined on tater tots, coffee and beer. This was a chance to catch up, reminisce, compare notes. Nick knows a lot, has been around the town a few times. I value his information, much of which is in the category of "news" i.e. I knew nothing about it. I'm far from omniscient, lets make that clear.

Now I'm back at the meetinghouse, juggling logistics. It's a crazy wet day and I forgot my bike lock again (Lindsey brought it). My flashlight is underpowered. I'm not appropriately equipped. Call out the National Guard right? When the absent minded professor decides he does wanna be president (thinking of Albert again), stand back everyone, maybe lend an umbrella.

I went back to my yak of the morning, which is that (a) an aphoristic style ala both Nietzsche and Norman O. Brown is apropos and (b) it's more up to self-professed humanities experts to grapple with Synergetics. Leaving it to physicists and mathematicians is quite the opposite of stepping up to the plate. You've got your philosophy of mathematics if you need to blend into the woodwork on occasion. Wittgenstein's stuff is almost custom made, for talking about cubing versus not-cubing, where 3rd powering is concerned.

That's something to look at between your readings of Emerson and Thoreau, maybe Logicomix. Don't push it off on those "engineers" you need to vilify. This is common heritage, a contribution to the vernacular, obtuse as it may seem.

We talked about Bonnie DeVarco, at Bioneers (way overpriced for depressing times, Nick thought), in the early days of BFI's founding. We share a number of names in common. You could call that a "namespace" if so inclined.

Yes, I heard about the Medal of Freedom. Sounds like there's more of a story there than most people know to tell. How might we encourage future curriculum writers to delve more deeply?

We also talked about the Coffee Shops Network, a way to get faster geometry to the public without needing a visa from the gulag. Sit sipping your espresso, and see some of those memes you might have encountered in prose. Maybe you've been a loyal reader of these blogs? If so, you'll probably know it when you see it.

I'm drenched and there's no one here (here's Justin). I should get to work, washing those pots and pans.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Visiting Speaker

Quaker Institution

Kathy Bergen has a long history working in that area of the planet commonly associated with stories in the Bible, Koran, Torah. She's been with AFSC and now helps out with other Quaker assets in the region. The prophetic or "book" religions, as some call them, each have many denominations or branches, all of which want floorspace in this intensively trafficked region. Lots of tourists coming through, along with pilgrims, airline pilots, people with hidden agendas, as well as open ones.

We learned about Ramallah and the water situation. There's running water only a few days a week. Makes me wonder what Philadelphia Inquirer was crowing about, saying that city was doing well, but then I didn't see the article (just heard it reported on). The nearby gated community suburbs are like these Neocon flats, where people live more like squanderous Portlanders in their opulent palaces (water 24/7), shopping at New Seasons and driving around in their Priuses, feeling proud to be so green.

Not that I'm against running water 24/7 mind you. I'd like that for Ramallah too, but do engineers have the competence? Getting "smart grids" to actually be smart, requires intelligent consumers, not mindless ones. Software can't do everything.

Waste and inefficiency is a problem all over. Introducing some realistic simulations as games one might enjoy playing, is a time-tested way to develop skills.

They say religion has something to do with all this, but I'm not sure what exactly (so many conflicting stories). Those "book people" never made a whole lot of sense to me, even though I'm one of 'em. Been there done that etc.

Jesus was definitely a great Bodhisattva, I think many Asians would agree. Let's see how much "Peace on Earth" rhetoric we get this time through Santa's tunnel, how much "Good Will to all Men" that's not hollow. Or has Christianity finally gone belly up? Maybe Quakers got out just in time? Jesus was Jewish, a great rabbi.

When I was in Ramallah in the 1970s, you could still be an Arabic-speaking local with family going way back, and get permission to use dynamite from the authorities. There's lots of rock in that area and building just about anything requires blasting and pneumatic drills. The attitude was relatively laid back. By most measures, the world IQ has been plummeting since the 1970s, at least in some subcultures.

The distopian hell hole this region has become for so many does not reflect well on the programming, a point Bishop Tutu was making at the University of Portland the other day. It's hard to be proudly a Christian, and besides, there are many preachings against vanity. Wasn't it Sir Francis Bacon who wrote: "life is a tale told by an idiot?" Idiocracy R Us right? They oughta do more on South Park.

Kathy showed lots of interesting slides and the event was well attended, at least by oldsters such as myself. Younger people tend to read more manga (comics) and are maybe not as infatuated with this part of the world, hard to say.

Geographic literacy is down across the board. You'd think with Google Earth and all... but then many schools aren't using that, because it's new, and schools don't do "new" -- too busy letting adults relive their childhoods, which keeps them kinda retro.

They say the second half of life is all about nostalgia for the first half. The future is something we back into inadvertently, as we make other plans.

Some schools are maybe not as like that, teach more "listening to Abba" (however translated), i.e. "attending to Spirit" (as some Quakers say). One might hope.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Carnival Bizmos

More petro-fueled truck-based than van-based, but we're open minded around here. My thanks to Ovo for referring me to PinkTentacle.

Thursday, November 04, 2010



:: GOSCON @ The Nines (PDX) ::

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Accounting for Time

I'm lurking on the ChiPy list, the Python group based in Chicago. They're talking about producing boss-friendly reports that account for time spent, hour by hour, or even more fine grained.

In trying to jump start a more literate mathematics, more informed by philosophy, I've been flitting about, conversing with characters. Asynchronous meetings. Who else is doing it, and does it need to be done?

What is mathematical literacy
What about the C.P. Snow chasm?
How do words mean?
Girl Scout Math

Hey, wonderful I'm able to write so much, which also entails reading. There's a sense of urgency though, which may be unfortunate given how back burner is Urner. I keep hoping for Project Renaissance to take off, or something similar.

I recommended Obama's Wars to Steve, suggesting clues to decode, such as WTF, some stuff about torture. He's off to new adventures, following a busy schedule. I hope to hold the fort for Holden Web's new Portland office.

Hillary came by today just as Lindsey was sorting her bike trailer full of organic vegetables, doing Get Out the Vote. I gave her my secret ballot to deposit on my behalf. Good timing.

I voted with Native Americans on the casino issue (no). I'd still like to see those new kinds of games though, where you build an on-line portfolio reflecting your commitments and values. The USG could develop and test some open source prototypes to seed the market, in collaboration with various non-governmental entities.

I wrote more about simulation and recruiting games on Halloween. Go fish?

Your friend in the Silicon Forest.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

BarCamp 4

:: barcamp 4 @ eliot center ::

I woke up with the sense of gentle tendrils pulling me downtown. I'd need to go on my bicycle, in the rain, to keep it a pure experience. I blundered about the house, scarcely believing I was going to an event I'd only just tuned in the night before. What better time though? Better than staying home and being sick.

The registrars and Eliot Center management were most gracious in allowing me to wheel the bicycle into an unused classroom. I'd forgotten my keys at the house, so couldn't lock it to a post. Bicycles do get stolen around here.

Not everyone is interested in stratifying by age, drawing attention to the obvious demographic pyramid, with a broad base of young geeks in their 20s and 30s, with a dwindling number towards the peak. Ward Cunningham wanted to explicitly address the span of generations and have us interact cross-generationally. We were "young" if we considered HTML a first language, "old" if we'd ever programmed an Apple 2e.

A lot of us were a lot older than that. When we got a show of hands as to who'd ever used punch cards, not only did several go up (including mine), but a gent in the corner actually produced one, passed it around for show & tell purposes. For the most part, Ward got us to sit facing one another in two groups, the so-called old and the so-called young. Some oldsters preferred to mingle with the more youthful however, but no one really cared.

Keith Lofstram's ServerSky talk has progressed since I first tuned it in at Wanderers (at the Pauling House). He imagines relieving Earthian power grids from needing to fuel data centers, by moving this capability into orbit. His brand of science fiction features solar panels thinner than paper and steerable by light pressure alone. He's pretty "out there" and BarCamp is the perfect place for such speculation. Just working through some numbers on power demands, energy sources, in big picture terms, is plenty edifying. The basic thermodynamics of the solar system come across as more intelligible if cast in terms of a long term story wherein humanity plays a role.

On my lunch break I headed over to the library and read some collected essays by Richard Stallman. If there's an elder statesman for Geek Nation, he'd be the guy. Without free software and a willingness to question the ethics of those who make helping one's neighbor illegal, we would have no assets to boast of.

After lunch, I sat in on a discussion of Haiku, a reincarnation of BeOS. Is it going anywhere. Having diverse operating systems represents a well spring of ideas and feeds those hungry to do original, ground-breaking work.

The workshop on Brain Meds was interesting, mostly a litany of warnings to just stay away from most modern "crazy meds", especially the anti-psychotics. However, the discussion was nuanced and delved into related medical topics such as sexual dysfunctions, insurance, generic versus brand name. The two girls leading the talk had medical diagnoses that were covered by insurance. One researches and writes for a blog on this very topic.

Free beer followed, courtesy of Widmer.

Did you know that generics can be plus or minus 20% the dosage of a name brand and that's OK with the FDA? The advice was to stick with a known manufacturer, once you found a right dosage, or you could be in for a nasty surprise when switched by insurance to a supposed equivalent.

I was glad to see geeks taking responsibility for sharing about such personal matters in a frank, no nonsense style. Most television and politicians are relatively gutless. There might have been some extra nervousness in the room as a result of taking on these topics, however Portland BarCamps are nothing if not experimental and cutting edge.

Igal's Train Porn was one of the most interesting. I'd been fascinated by trains as a kid. Dad and I had an HO scale train set when I was still in the single digits. I'd also had the good fortune to ride many a funicular and even a few cog railways in Europe. North America has fewer of these. I'd never seen that wild 1950s way people got to Timberline Lodge before the newer highway was built. A bus suspended from tension lines and using its on-board power to "fly" over the snow, ascending 2100 feet in 10 minutes.

Speaking of the Pauling House (where Wanderers meet), my science fiction about bringing it into the Unilever fold have so far proved unsuccessful, were never on Terry's radar to begin with I don't think. Besides, what would an Anglo-Dutch conglomerate want with such an asset? The company is already holding other property just a few blocks away, so why be redundant?

Which reminds me... one of the young geeks had a "Silicon Forest" tag on his BarCamp badge. He spoke knowledgeably of the history, shared the lore. He knew quite a bit about Doug Strain, but hadn't connected him to Linus Pauling. I filled in some of those details for him.

I also met another rad math teacher type, Tom Henderson, espousing Punk Mathematics. Perhaps we'll collaborate as time goes by (as the world turns). InshaAllah.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Art of Note

from Chapter 5, Flextegrity on-line

Genki Sudo - World Order のパフォーマンスユニット - 須藤元気

From my meeting with Ovo

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Listening to Women

Women do seem to have the role of suggesting the wiser course, with more thought for the future.

Sure, that's a generalization. I'm thinking of Belau (bet you weren't) and the Compact of Free Association. The women hoped the men would stand by their Nuclear Free Zone position (this was a small tropical island nation, expressing defiance and a fond hope for a nuclear free world).

Through several plebiscites, the men did, before they caved. Or at least that's one way of telling it. Roll the tape forward and Valerie Plame Wilson becomes the new voice of sanity, urging the men to reduce their nuclear arsenals to zero.

Not that much has changed, beyond the names and the places...

In that spirit, of listening to the women for a change, I was privileged to join my mother and a large crowd of well wishers to celebrate the life of Pat Hollingsworth. She'd stayed the course, fighting for women's rights and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

I was pleased that her family encouraged us to toast her memory with Jack Daniels. The Quaker Meeting had suggested alcohol would be inappropriate (not my policy) but we had too many people for that venue anyway. Hoffman Hall is much bigger.

Pat was a superb pottery maker (among other talents) and her estate was giving away numerous pieces. Mom selected a handsome mug.

Yvonne brought her dog and sang songs, taught us a game ("conkers") from her childhood. Another man made a stirring speech, about not giving up.

Afterwards, we visited the Wall of Fame, part of the Portland State University campus, whereon my mother's name is carved in stone next to Mary Bolton's, with Pat's just inches away.

The Womens International League for Peace and Freedom memorialized many of its star players here, although Barbara Drageaux chose to stay off the list for some reason.

When I got home, I learned of the death of Benoît Mandelbrot. I'd opened for him once, giving a talk on fractals on short notice. Cool dude.

An Achievement

Memorial Service

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Sunday, October 10, 2010

20/20 Hindsight (movie review)

We're watching a movie, 20/20 Hindsight: Censorship on the Frontline, an interview with a whistle blower, Richard Grove, who tried to go to Frontline etc. with this story about a software application, owned by Legato and then EMC, that contained a "back door," a way to defraud investors and circumvent the strictures of Oxley-Sarbanes.

The irony was the software in question was advertised as supporting Oxley-Sarbanes, the anti-corruption legislation. The software actually provided circumventions of the laws it claimed to support. Just delete the jar file: millions of emails go away.

The whistle blower brought his case to court. Everything he asserted was proved, according to Grove, but the judge ruled that the statute of limitations had run out.

I was reminded of the Doctrine of Discovery and its "statute of limitations" defense. If there were a problem with this "law" it should've been raised years ago. Likewise the idea of "corporate personhood" can't be overturned this late in the game (say the courts), as it wasn't overturned when it should have been, years ago.

Capitalizing on ignorance, using fear to manipulate, is not a new phenomenon of course.

Rhetoric and persuasive speech, even if full of fallacies, is the way to control behavior.

Getting paid to speak persuasively, using intimidation where needed, tends to short circuit the intellect, says Grove. Emotional content, feelings of insecurity, is the basis for making a sale, especially of gold and silver.

Putting your intellect back in the driver seat is an antidote to fear. The media might have been that intellect, but that hasn't been happening.

Grove is a fan of Tarpley, is hardly a cheerleader for the Obama or Bush teams. His project these days is to help people in thinking for themselves. He's gone back to the trivium / quadrivium for heuristics, in contrast to "outcomes based" education, which he regards as promoting subservience and dependence. He's also a 911 "inside jobber" (believes in a conspiracy to recycle the real estate).

The interview and Grove's subsequent career reminded me of this quote:

Never before in all history have the inequities and the momentums of unthinking money-power been more glaringly evident to so vastly large a number of now literate, competent, and constructively thinking all-around-the-world humans. There’s a soon-to-occur critical-mass moment when the intuition of the responsibly inspired majority of humanity, in contradistinction to the angered Luddites and avenging Robin Hoods, faced with comprehensive functional discontinuity of nationally contained techno-economic systems, will call for and accomplish a world-around reorientation of our planetary affairs.

R. Buckminster Fuller
“Can’t Fool Cosmic Computer”
Grunch of Giants (St. Martin’s Press, 1983), pg. 89

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Oh Superman...

So at 52, I'm not at the pinnacle of my athletic career. To live in the world of my dreams, I'll likely need to be reborn, perhaps as some Tarzania type (a female Tarzan). A traditional Jungian projection (anima... anime).

Fantasies aside, I picked up that Food Not Bombs box the wrong way, in that walk-in refrigerator, and sprained my lower back pretty good. At "college night" last night at Cleveland High, I hobbled around like I needed a cain, looking somewhat pathetic (because I didn't have one).

Before that misadventure, I'd tackled some plumbing upstairs in the 105 year old Blue House, placing a bucket beneath a sink full of corrosive toxins before unscrewing the curved piece of pipe ("the trap"). The pipe piece went plunk into the overflowing bucket and splashed some of the toxins in my eye. Coulda been worse, a lot worse. Why wasn't I wearing my glasses? Events conspire sometimes...

A lotta civilians would like a kind of boot camp experience, a way to get in shape, learn some skills, without other grownups being super mean and sending them off to kill or be killed. They'd like to be part of a solution in some way, welcomed as world game players. Movie stars work hard for such treatment, and such roles. In my Project Earthala communities, we have a lot of "off your duff" stuff to do, if you have a young body needing to stay trim, or an older one, likewise predisposed.

Wanna work on a railroad, even literally?

You may do so, for academic credit, while learning history and general systems. Might be in Russia someplace.

But you're not here as a prisoner.

The work / study people flit about. You'll meet some of them again... and again.

Our discussion this morning (while cleaning) was about so many office buildings zoned to where you can't legally sleep in them. The night time janitorial service doesn't want to be stumbling upon snoozing personnel. No, you'll need to drive 50 miles to get to a bed from your cube farm, or ride some bullet train. Those are the zoning rules.

Gazillions of people slosh in and out, because home is not suitable for working and work is not suitable for taking time off work.

Work is a place that you "go", as in "go go go" (all that fossil fuel, sluicing down the drain -- welcome to Planet of the Apes).

Anyway, the fantasy was of small firms, wandering bands, troupes, with banners (logos, coats of arms -- such as I just returned to Djangocon sponsors), coming into a city and setting up shop, perhaps only for six months. They have live-and-work style offices, more like lofts, more like studios.

Perhaps the job is to teach urban farming techniques, help set up another plantagon, get the software tuned, train some friends, get some training, share some music... and move on, to another city with floorspace.

You don't buy a cube farm in a sky tower and a hotel room by the airport.

Or maybe you work in a home, outfitted as a workplace.

The Blue House is all futuristic by then, lots of monitors (including on-board energy use), lots of two-way communicating, routing, both in real time and asynchronously (like today).

New toons are getting made, XRL (a kind of livingry) is being field tested. We're a management hub, like CUE used to be for "refugee resettlement" in some other war against terrorism, another chapter in fighting fear.

Should this be Reality TV? The Pauling House people talk a lot about streaming.

Given I'm embedded in this old school urban grid, I'm only somewhat able to walk my own Global U talk. I've done my best to conflate the commute, to have my studio and sleeping quarters be ship shape, not spread all across town. The torture taxi stays in the driveway a lot.

In doing Food Not Bombs today, I rode a bicycle to the Quaker meetinghouse, towing a trailer full of sustenance. Marian Rhys is here, helping Cera (Sara) and some new kids in town, part of a cross-continent cycling team.

Their plan is to ride both ways, to start back by looping south (as far as New Mexico? -- I haven't asked 'em).

Working in the kitchen, pealing potatoes, washing pots and pans, is somewhat close to my Ecovillage fantasy.

Sure, Lockheed-Martin has failed us, Boeing has let us down. EPCOT was a disappointment (sad for Disney). The "best toys" are uncool. The engineers built us a railroad we don't want or need (remember MX missiles?), at great expense in shared living standards. Welcome to our self-inflicted slums then, a sad memorial to Bombs Not Food. I hope our progeny have compassion and forgive us our many tresspasses against them.

This unpleasant reality doesn't keep us from dreaming some American dream however. The power of nightmares is only finite after all.

We may be a conquered people, slaves to an alien ideology, a kind of "complex" (as the Jungians say), but one day we may again breath free, having tossed off the sorrowful yoke of empire.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Philosophy of Education

More banter with RH (from math-teach) -- typos fixed:

> "And the reason is....?"
> In my opinion, arithmetic is essentially the literacy equivalent
> to reading. It has a functional use in everyone's life, like reading.

The ability to read is not just one skill. What if graphs are involved, statistics? The science you might want to tune in, to follow debates about genetically modified foods, requires some mathematical background perhaps.

It's not just what math Obama might need. You also want your Supreme Court and Congress to have a fairly strong grasp of the technical issues.

> Beyond arithmetic, the skills begin to become "nice to have"
> rather than "must have". I generally share the same
> thought with the others that subjects like algebra exercise
> and develop one's reasoning skills, even if there will be
> no practical use later. But this isn't a must have, it is
> a nice to have, unless you have decided that you will
> be an engineer or some other math related career
> and then for you personally, it is a must have.

You've generally been dismissive of "math appreciation" as not the real deal, just like "physics for philosphers" can't really amount to a hill of beans in your book.

Calendars and navigation, architecture, surveying, map making... each one of these topics comes with skills you might learn, surrounded by stories of other civilizations. To fully understand history, one needs to be able to follow the math and science (e.g. the role of cryptography in ww2).

If we dont' consider "math appreciation" as part of mathematics proper, then we should at least allow it to surface under the heading of literature.

Dr. Susan Haack, a contemporary philosopher, is quite explicit about this: in her view, a distopian society we do not want to have, consists of docile non-scientists who can't follow the debates and
leave all the decision-making to the supposedly most qualified, the credentialed experts.

You want informed voters.

You also want people not easily manipulated or hoodwinked.

I say "you" in a general sense, realizing that informed and intelligent voters is maybe *not* what some people want. They'd rather have a lot of docile broom pushers who just smile and nod when told what to do by the ruling class digerati.

> What would be the "nice to have" element of reading?
> Or maybe I should say literature? I would propose that
> creative writing is a "nice to have" but not a "must have".
> Reading and basic writing would be "must haves" in my opinion.

Any educated high schooler should be able to read and write about how the Internet works, yes or no?

Any educated high schooler should have read a lot of civics, know about the history of the world, including recent history.

E.g. books by Edwin Black are appropriate for an American History class, or at least lengthy excerpts, along with related documentaries.

There's a difference between knowing how to read, recognizing the words, and being literate, being given the time, encouragement, guidance and freedom to read widely in many subjects.

Does a society afford people that freedom, people of all ages?

Or does it simply give them rudimentary reading skills and then push them out the door after 6th grade, handing them a mop if they don't prove sufficiently compliant or worthy in the minds of corporate eugenicists?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Dreams in the 'Hood

Global Matrix Studios enjoyed some guests this morning, through an international school connection.

I wasn't especially talkative, more in the role of chauffeur, even though Jerome was doing the driving (he's good at cards I discovered, over coffee later).

I've been sketching a fantasy double deck office, converting the leaky deck above 4dsys (a router station) into a monitoring room, perhaps with a spiral staircase between them. It'd have to be part of some video stream and/or movie production, to make it worth the expense. Maybe Patrick has the connections.

The reality is I need to buy some more plastic from the hardware store.

Then came a quick haircut (someone new) and Food Not Bombs at the meetinghouse (and more wifi). Andy Cross came by and we went over some of what I'd learned at Djangocon (recently completed). I introduced him to the cooks. They bantered in Spanish.

I stayed late to clean up, again having the building to myself. Then the directory people showed up, intending to make phone calls, hearthkeeper among them (I hope I passed muster).

I packed up and returned to the Blue House (so-called -- there's also a Pink House).

Through the wifi, I was tracking the Python community's Diversity list, noting the link to an article by a Seattelite about bioinformatics, about including more of that topic at the high school level. This jibes with my curriculum writing as well.

That could be a focus of Pycon / Tehran I should think, as health care is ramping up in that youthful economy, with many future doctors, nurses, technicians. A Pycon / Chicago focusing on trucking might make sense, although here I'm thinking ESRI might want to get involved, as trucking has everything to do with GIS/GPS.

I was also in touch with Mosaic regarding the Business Intelligence position at PSU, which would relate to our work with Ktraks etc.

My thanks to Dr. Tag for dropping in for a family dinner last night, followed by a quick visit with 97214 geniuses (not at Pauling House this time). I had the PSF python (Naga) along (stuffed animal totem), plus two Django ponies.

I play the role of geek in this 'hood (namespace) and am somewhat expected to do geeky things of this nature. Fortunately, I'm not entirely alone in this regard, meaning I get to clown around with my peers when I'm lucky.

Glenn joined us at the new Chinese place on the corner of 39th and Hawthorne, in the Mason Building (Hawthorne Theater) across from Fred Meyer.

The tour included a look at Flextegrity models, though we didn't get to snap icosahedra together. This was not an actual workshop, more just a tour.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Inception (movie review)

The movie was about dreams and projections, keying off The Matrix theme.

My movie-going companion slept through most of it and was adamant that Hollywood's self-indulgence was precisely what was wrong with this once great culture. How could we bear to be insulted in this way? And at what opportunity cost? Why lavish such attention on fictional fantasies (waking dreams)?

I suppose I'm more in the mood for more serious-minded documentaries, especially about the recent past. More about the U2? Elections in Iraq?

We haven't had many Iraqi talking heads speaking their minds lately on any topic, other than the odd defector or refugee in past chapters, with sound bites used to galvanize and mobilize around somebody's war plans.

Lots of dead zones in the news, deliberate graveyards. Lets go back and talk about what was missed.

Also, getting more tetrahedra going, and not just on MTV, has been a priority in 97214, the zip code of geniuses.

I'd dispatch an away team tonight if I thought it'd improve the quality of our TV programming.

Anyway, back to the movie, of which this is supposedly a review, I enjoyed some of the special effects, especially at the cityscape level. My dad was a city planner and I was taught to appreciate cities for their character.

In the dream world of film, ideas get planted, that much is certainly true. Memes spread. Sometimes one needs to counter 'em.

I was back to the DoubleTree neighborhood, just two blocks away from the venue for Djangocon, reminiscing already.

This initiative to prototype various brands and types of voting machine (electronic and mechanical) in high school settings, complete with tabulating back ends, along with lessons about security flaws, scams, the sordid history of voting, sounds like it'll result in some dynamite civics.

Talking about dirty tricks, or just plain tricks, is not verboten, at least not among young adults needing to figure out what they're getting into with this democracy business. Lots more documentaries then. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

DjangoCon Day Three

The panel this morning was entirely on the topic of integrating NoSQL into Django. The term NoSQL seems to be one of those "universally despised but we'll say it anyway" kind of memes.

Given how our ponies are snuggly-friendly with relational database technology, there's a sense of outreach as well as girding for a possible future, in which NoSQL takes off a lot more than it has. Buzz words in this namespace today include: HBase, MongoDB, Riak, Voldemort, Neo4J, Cassandra, Hypertable, HyperGraphDB, Memcached, Tokyo Cabinet, Redis, CouchDB.

Alex Gaynor, soon to turn 20, spent a Google summer of code wrestling with the task of fitting Django's ORM API to a MongoDB back end. Some on the panel questioned the advisability of fitting a schemaless database into such a schema-based framework, but then Django is somewhat characterized by this API. What else would it mean, to add support for a NoSQL back end, if not keeping the API streamlined and powerful.

It's not a given that every back end key-value or document store is a good fit. In the case of MongoDB, there's enough of a one-to-one mapping to make the bridge or database adapter. Google's BigTable is likewise "close enough" to a SQL engine (though it isn't one) to support a somewhat Django-like API within it's Appengine framework.

One has other ways of using such NoSQL utilities as redis inside Django. Django is just Python after all, so if its a matter of simply importing another module and using it, you may do so directly, through whatever API Python natively provides. Use this alongside ORM connections to SQL engines. It's not either or (like, use the zodb module why not?). How is redis different from just using a memory cache like memecache? The API does a lot more.

On the whole, the panel was reassuring the PostgreSQL would always be enough of an "out of the box" solution to throw at so many of life's many challenges. Don't let the "rip tide of lies" (i.e. all the empty hype) around NoSQL pull you off balance. The Django community is experimenting, outside of core-dev.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Imaginary Landscapes

Malcolm Tredinnick is a master of GeoDjango, which talks the language of maps. He demonstrated an imaginary landscape he'd devised. The PNG provides texture, but the underlying TIFF, some 19 MB of data, provides the real details.

OpenLayers serves as a clearinghouse, knows where to go for what data to populate the different layers. Show all restaurants of a given type in a given zip code area.

PostGIS supports data selection based on bounding boxes, so when you zoom in or pan, it sends back the right objects.

You'll want to cache tiles, especially the background ones that don't change. Several open source projects do this, and support Python bindings.

Mapnik is another piece of the puzzle, a strong source of Earthling data.

Malcolm emphasized the importance of using a whole planet, even if your region is but a small island. The geometry engines all assume a latitude-longitude context.

Given my Geometry + Geography paradigm, I'm of course interested to what extent internal anatomy might be considered a GIS problem. Bodies are not planets, but they are geospatial.

What file formats accommodate both planets and livers? When one zooms in, on a city street, it's worthwhile to show infrastructure, such as under-street pipes, optical fibers.

One zooms in on a body the same way, showing what's inside. Indeed bodies walk on sidewalks.

Geography is all inclusive of special case "scenes" whereas geometry is generic (about shape in general -- what we call "pre-frequency" in Synergetics). Does x3D (VRML) support GIS?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Seeking Diversity

One of the threads on math-teach is back to racial profiling, sorting everyone into a few groups. This gets to seem like a mindless bureaucratic activity sometimes, so one looks for the check box for "mindless bureaucrat" on the forms, as that seems the most prevalent species.

What I learned from watching international conference organizing, is that some countries do not permit their governments to inquire about their "race" or even "ethnicity". There's no broad agreement that central government tabulators have a right to such data, especially in light of how many of these questions are based in corrupt science in the first place.

The concept of race did not survive modern genetics intact, and ethnicity is all about memes in any case, not genes. So much about Social Darwinism is bogus, and yet continues to haunt public debates, sometimes just beneath the surface, sometimes overtly.

The concept of "breed" (as in breeds of dog, horse) is a social institution and invention. Yes, it's possible to breed traits in and out. However no simple fractions or "racial substance" will be found, in either "mixed" or "pure" form. No "racial substance" was never found in any DNA, and yet the concept persists as a meme virus, as "something in the blood".

In any case, schools will (and do) practice a kind of alchemy, when it comes to seeking diversity. A public will want to second guess, might be looking for statistics. Demographics about ethnic makeup, social class (the kinds of statistics people were discussing on math-teach) remain in demand. What if the school doesn't keep them, doesn't know.

Perhaps the tally is on "first or native language". You wouldn't know how many "Asians" were in this tally. You might be able to piece this bit of information together to your own satisfaction from other records, but the school would not readily support this API and/or way of pigeon-holing people.

If it's a school into which one hopes to gain admittance, then you're hoping various traits you may have will not count against you. You think about your odds.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Roving Buses Again

Perhaps one of those slides in Dr. Beebe's Afghanistan talk got me thinking of literal BizMos again, those business mobiles that go to state fairs and such places, helping orient visitors to their various options. When showing up at a school, they're more likely to be representing universities, networks of school systems. Teachers get recruited too, not just students.

Another option is to use the bus as a testing center. These might be engaging games at various workstations, and the games are what's being judged, not the students. The students are guest players comprising a focus group and giving feedback. Why is this worthy of school time? Because the games are didactic in nature, reinforce school subjects. That's why teacher feedback is especially valuable.

I've filed these ideas at the Math Forum, a file cabinet where I've stuffed a lot of my best ideas. I'm into using the Internet filing system to share useful ideas, appreciate others doing that.

The Math Forum versions have a somewhat different spin, as I bring in the Coffee Shops Network idea of having the games fund worthy causes of the player's choosing, a way of disbursing profits made from the game.

Players may record their patterns of disbursement, which becomes a portfolio, a chronicle of their heroics. Of such stuff one's identity and reputation is comprised, so these games may be said to build character.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FOSS in Afghanistan

Dr, Maria Beebe

Tonight we are listening to Maria A. Beebe, PhD, talking about E-Learning in Afghanistan. She's with Afghan eQuality Alliances.

Afghanistan is of course made up of a large number of ethnic groups, prone to feuding. Negotiating peace amidst power struggles is naturally difficult. Anthropologist Dupree (1973) talks about alternating phases of fusion and fission when giving the history.

Islamic law supports womens' education, but of course ethnicities vary in their interpretations of this law. The Taliban, many of them orphans, may have an especially harsh approach because of their sense of abandonment.

Women have come into higher education. Women were encouraged to become engineers under the Russians. University learning was discouraged during subsequent years, under Mujahideen and Taliban.

Implementing E-learning has involved building computer centers and setting up standards. Pairing lecturers with US universities was a priority, with a focus on getting more engineers.

A masters program in public policy and administration was set up as well, so that policies might emerge with a sense of ownership, not simply imposed by the UN, World Bank, NATO or whatever.

Chisimba is being used for distance learning purposes. University of the Western Cape has provided some technical support.

This is a USG-funded project, with NATO providing the international bandwidth via satellite.

Some bandwidth comes from Iran, although a USG-funded program is not supposed to pay for that piece, given feuding between those states.

Women who tasted university-style education when still in their 20s during the Russian period, are among those most eager to see higher education making more inroads under Grunch.

The French would like to stop criminalizing drug production (lift Prohibition), as the world craves opiates, always has.

That's a more enlightened approach than the USG is able to muster of course, given its puritanical roots and sense of entitlement when it comes to world policing. The Drug Wars rage on.

This higher education program was not dependent on US military or private security contractors. On the contrary, US armored vehicles and personnel carrying weapons are actively discouraged from visiting the campuses, as this makes them targets for military actions by opposing groups, of which there are many.

Internet and campus neutrality are important policies where freedom from armed conflict is concerned. Armed conflict, an expression of ignorance, lack of intelligent planning and skills, is not conducive to studying (a vicious circle).

FOSS in Afghanistan

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tabor Walk

Sunset, Tabor

I was roused from my pile of mattresses by Glenn, late getting started this morning, so an opportunity to partially overlap on a walk. The New Seasons is really coming along. We visited Mt. Tabor.

Glenn has been checking with sources. Exodus gets tagged for having discovered the cone:cylinder 1:3 relationship, where they both share the same base and height. Then Archimedes got that a sphere in a cylinder occupies 2/3rds its volume. He wanted that on his grave stone, and according to stories this is how a Roman scholar later found it, in want of repair, and had the grave site restored. We should have more monuments to the guy and this discovery, why not? Plus math-geometry needs its tomb of the unknown, from which many a discovery has derived.

In recent discussions with David Koski, he's focused on the analogy twixt the cone, half-cylinder, sphere and full cylinder and the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron and rhombic dodecahedron, by focusing on the common ratios 1:3:4:6. In this case, the cone in question shares a base with a hemisphere 2/3rds the half-cylinder's volume (Glenn and I called this half-cylinder a "tuna can" with height = sphere radius, not diameter). If the cone is 1/3, the half-sphere is 2/3, and the sphere is then 4/3, a fraction familiar from (4/3)( pi )( r )( r )( r ). The "tuna can" itself is volume 3, if the cone is 1, hence the ratios 1:3:4:6.

For the first part of our walk, Glenn's sources and the Koski conversations were a jumble and I was confused. The cone Glenn's sources talked about was 1/3rd the double-cylinder (two tuna cans), so already half the volume of the cylinder-contained sphere. I'd only just awakened. Actually I'd been tossing and turning, but about other issues. The night before, I was up late watching a disturbing documentary.

Once atop Mt. Tabor, we met an intelligent Protestant (no, not an oxymoron) who wondered if we'd give him two minutes of our time, not to end with a request for money. He had a stop watch. I said "two minutes is not a long time, so sure" and he launched into a debate he'd been working on.

According to his "Wanderers presentation" there's a school of thought that says Jesus was a great teacher and all, but he couldn't have performed miracles, the counter to which is that early Christianity, with all its travails, would not have gotten going based around some "nice guy" or "decent human" action figure (plus the teachings were quite radical for their day).

Glenn responded with some perennial philosophy notions of avatars, descendants of deities, who periodically show up to save humans. I mentioned a polarity, with a spectrum in between: on the one hand, the "miracles never happen" group denies any supernatural phenomena as a matter of principle, while on the other hand you have a group that assumes miracles happen all the time, as a matter of course. At either extreme, Jesus would not prove an exception to the rule.

I enjoyed the "lightning talk" and mused how Portlanders could do "philosophy in the park" more often, just show up with the intent to have these debates and discussions, perhaps using these recognized templates (e.g. the two minute presentation). We wouldn't need to have official sponsors, though I could see where some brands might want to become associated with civilized intercourse of this nature. Beats television in some ways. Like, we got some real exercise (Mt. Tabor isn't very high, but every calorie counts).

Sphere is 2/3 Cylinder Cone is 1/3 Cylinder

Friday, August 20, 2010

Babies (movie review)

Babies is not narrated, uses music and environmental noises for sound track. This helps recreate a baby's world, not beset with lots of yammering. Adults play their roles, but not as generators of lots of talk balloons.

What's most striking about this film is that it focuses on healthy babies just having pleasant childhoods, no trauma, no strife.

The four families are all dignified and provide nurturing environments. The different civilian lifestyles, though diverse in their resource consumption patterns, do not seem in need of drastic overhaul.

There's no message about helping anyone out of their poverty, as these families do not seem "poor" and their worlds are not war-torn.

The film is also not trying to be comprehensive. One could see sequels featuring other ethnicities, but sticking to just four families.

I saw this at The Bagdad with the one baby I'm genetically responsible for, now a young woman embarked on a life adventure of her own.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Lurching Ahead

There's this guy in The Adamm's Family I think it was, Lurch, kind of the butler. When I did some volunteer logistics for the est people awhile back, I remember some kid, looked like a younger me, calling me Lurch. The grownups around him wanted him to shush, as I was obviously just another one of them. A room full of Lurches, what a concept.

Trains lurch when they start up again, and every car down the line gets this tug on the coupler, to get moving. Good seeing Leslie and others at Oversight yesterday. I ran by the Food & ~Bombs plan, got some preliminary nods. I've circulated the proposal on Facebook as well, where I do some of my Quaker business.

The math teachers are yakking about globalization again, with Robert Hansen sounding a traditionalist theme, in contrast to a recent Keith Devlin posting. I chime in along the way.

The Toshiba is having weird disk problems. After chkdsk I was able to xcopy the ktraks subdirectory (a VFP app PSU is using), but I'd not want this to be the source copy, as the external drive version might have remnants of file corruption? I wish I understood NTFS better, or ext3 for that matter.

I see F15s as bloated and wasteful (today's Wall Street Journal). You don't need to burn vats of fuel to get thrills in this world. A lot of carbon footprint for what? Save it for a rainy day? Ward off the desert? Terraforming is not just about doing stuff on Mars, obviously (the Rovers did make a difference though).

How many deep silo workers inheriting VFP applications will want to use Python as a ladder out, more into the open? That's a joke... Snakes and Ladders. I don't know the answer, but let me point out that xBase ended up as an interactive, C-extensible, dynamically typed language with user-defined classes. GUI integration was more ambitious (Python leaves that to 3rd party libraries). Some will go with Java, or Jython maybe?

Microsoft would rather not compete with its own products, seems to be the wisdom in Redmond, and rewriting Visual FoxPro (VFP) to make it 64-bit is beyond anyone's job description. That'd be like trying to rewrite MUMPS (the M language) -- or is somebody doing that?

Yes, I know about Ed Leaf and the Dabo project, have blogged about it before. We're not just talking about one ladder. PythonCard helped a lot of people learn GUI programming outside the VB sandbox. Lots of VFP in Prague they tell me (hi Kathy).

For a lot of developers, it's more about giving up the thick client model completely and making the web browser the stage where it all happens. Not everyone's there yet, nor needs to be. Web apps are thin clients. Are iPhone apps considered "thick" then?

People hard at work on their respective projects around here. The side yard is a low key stockpile of bamboo varieties, amidst the vegetable beds, providing raw materials to piece workers building bike trailers. On the storyboard, they're painted pink, but that might be more an in-house joke at the Blue House. I'm not the chief planner on this one, so don't expect details on Facebook (or Plaxo for that matter).

Barton, Portland Energy Strategies, is coming by. I was mentioning his interest in developing simulations with some other energy companies. Dr. Nick is vectoring this way. I recently uploaded some pix of his mom, the late Gill Faure, to some interested NGO (at Nick's request).

Monday, August 02, 2010

Welcome Home

I'm celebrating having my daughter back from Jamaica, where she'd been on a Quaker service trip, with other young Friends.

Lynn & Co. picked her up from Seatac, though I'd been planning to all week. This way, I got to cram for my Martian Math course up to the last minute.

I've launched the 4D thread on math-teach again, which won't be new to my readers on Synergeo. Thanks to Joe for jumping in, giving me someone to spar with.

I still think my idea for a fleet of bizmos, a lifestyle for roaming teachers with a control room for centralized dispatch, was a good one. Someone should make the movie someday.

I was somewhat dismayed that health care took precedence over ending the misguided wars, once USAers thought "change" was in the bag. That doesn't mean I'm against health care reform, given we're all in the business of dying (civilians too) and could use the services.

I was glad to see the physics curriculum tilting towards health care, and away from "how to build a better bomb" ala Countdown to Zero -- at least that was my take on the AAPT conference.

My first class went fairly well today, even though we sort of dove into the deep end. I appreciate these kids and their zest for learning.