Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trekking Onward in Weirder Portland

Philosophy of Mathematics

In light of the many math-related posts below, you'd think I'd be working full time on those video clips, looking over the shoulders of skilled professionals of various stripes and spots, a zoo of "cool cats" in beatnik terms (a bi-gender appellation, and not one of opprobrium).

However, the MITE fights rage on, with the ortho-scheme of the cube considered a primitive but for its handedness, which puts it more in the category of an A, B or T module. Maybe talk to Frank Zubek about it?

The Hall Tetrahedron reduces to Q, the Schlafli shape. How does "handedness" relate to "congruence" in these cases?

Either way, the MITE is original for its own left / right dissection, which has non-overt characteristics: talking about those A & B modules again.

Isn't it interesting to find a thirding of so basic a nature? I'm on record suggesting Synergetics is non-trinitarian (thinking of unity-2), however the Mite is somewhat evidence to the contrary.

Stories and Exercises

In another window, I'm connecting with Python's tempfile module, useful for setting up test fixtures in unittest.

My questions are again regarding the technical skills versus lore axes, their relative mix in curriculum writing. What's the right mix of stories and exercises? One needs those stories to give the exercises meaning, whereas the latter give substance to the stories.

Designing Applications

Regarding software development, like at PSU and places, it's not bad workflow to imagine some "pie in the sky" version of in-house software, as a way of projecting the "what's so" of current best practices. Envisioned software, aka vapor-ware, serves a real management purpose, as it helps people mentally codify what they're doing, even if the application is never committed to silicon.

However, it might be implemented in some cases i.e. inheriting an office already steeped in ideas of some dream application, if guided by realism in some crucial respects, is what application developers much appreciate.

A lot of the hard part is already done at that point. The workers have developed the details, and, being closest to the job, are likely among the best qualified to have done so, so a win.

But then how much did the teams learn in high school about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, SQL, ORM, MVC, XML, DOM. Getting this computer science stuff into more common use is a challenge.

I'm eying making an end run through the humanities, not waiting for math teachers to catch up. The DOM (Document Object Model) is the kind of structure we encounter in Rhetoric, and XML is but Punctuation of a new kind (per Gene Fowler of Waking the Poet fame -- rolled his own XML editor in Delphi).

I tend to blend the computer science stuff with the spatial geometry stuff. I have a lexical-graphical bridge through Geography one might say, a sometimes fantastic domain (like a Wonderland, or Narnia... an Uru) which maps data in theater (as in Globe Theater).

The Geoscope

Google Earth is a good example, though here with a realistic vista: a virtual Geoscope, ready for overlays of whatever data layers. Then check Google Mars and Google Moon (both available in 2010).

ESRI provides a lot of capability to professional cartographers and geo-scientists. I've seen some of those tools in action.

Whereas high schools can't be expected to always afford the latest high end equipment, in demand by career professionals, the open source commons has already provided some strong capabilities adequate at least wrangle the concepts.

The GIS features in PostgreSQL, coupled with GeoDjango's ORM, are more examples of a tool sets able to supply maps to end users. Exercises involving geo-caching, including in metropolitan areas, also wilderness, will perhaps take advantage of these tools.

Is this a school server? Then perhaps the local environment is already modeled in some detail (say the Mt. Tabor area in Weirder Portland). Students gain a feel for that overview perspective.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Math Reform

Xref (May 2010):

The Elements of Algebra -- Groves responding to Urner
The Deprecation of Algebra -- Urner responding to Niederberger
The Elements of Algebra -- Urner responding to Bishop
The Elements of Algebra -- Urner responding to Groves
Re: The complexity of multiplication -- Urner responding to Hansen
Complex numbers: how early? (Urner)
Popping in re mathematics foundations (Urner) -- Wittgenstein list [Wittrs]
Four Axes for Reformers (Urner) -- with 2nd edition to Synergeo
Posting up a Storm (Urner) -- thread on mathfuture
Re: the complexity of multiplication -- Urner responding to Niederberger
Topic: The complexity of multiplication (with correction) -- Urner responding to Niederberger
Re: What math is, or was! -- Urner responding to Haim (pseudonym)
Re: What math is, or was! -- Urner responding to Haim again
Re: Challenge to Haim -- Urner responds
Re: What math is, or was! -- Urner responding to GS Chandy
Space-filling Tessellations -- Urner responding to Ihor
Rhombic Triacontahedra etc. (Synergetics list) -- Urner
[Edu-sig] Factory functions: synthesizing top-level names -- Urner / Python Nation
[Synergeo ] Re: RadMath Update -- Urner responding to Fischbeck
Re: Different Classes of Geometries -- Urner responds to Tim

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cold War Operations

Last night we screened a bunch of videos. I came in late from my meeting with Patrick.

I saw one on UFOs / Area 51 (the usual aggrandizement of the Air Force, which gets to network with aliens pre American Dad), and another on the Federal Reserve. In between we screened The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Truth Shall Set You Free, apparently recorded off The History Channel.

I'd seen this very same JFK video years ago, having rented it from Movie Madness. I thought it was one of the more cogent in this genre. There's an interview with the special forces guy, the guy who studies gray scale photography, the retired FBI guy... Lee Harvey Oswald's wife Marina.

Coincidentally, I was revisiting the Prouty web site at the time, maybe tracking down some UFO reference. Or was it the U2? Yeah, I was revisiting the U2 again.

Watching conspiratorial videos while having a searchable Internet handy is a different kind of experience.

Allen Dulles wanted to bully the Russians with the U2 right up to the summit with Eisenhower, even though the USA prez had requested a halt to those overflights.

Prouty is consistently adamant that Gary Powers was not "shot down" and even suggests that the plane, previously damaged, had belly-landed (again) safely, with a payload of non-regulation incriminating evidence. Allen Dulles agreed the U2 could not have survived a direct hit (was he talking to Prouty?).

Certainly Gary himself survived, although the Eisenhower administration didn't know this at first, and so was caught red handed telling a number of bald face lies. These embarrassing developments derailed the summit, with Khrushchev coming across as anything but compliant following this (24th?) flagrant violation of Soviet airspace. This U2 incident had perhaps sabotaged early plans to "win" the Cold War. Theories abound, questions remain.

What's poignant about this 1995 JFK movie is how the interviewees feel they're finally going public with some deep secrets, perhaps at some peril to themselves -- but does anyone really notice or care anymore? Here we are in 2010, with a gaping hole in the history, a seemingly indecipherable knot it's perhaps easier to just walk away from.

People are used to the idea of an official story of what happened, surrounded by a plethora of wacko theories. End of story. There's a three story geodesic ball to look out through (Reunion Tower, rotating restaurant), if you want to study Dealey Plaza as a casual tourist.

I fall into the tourist category myself, as I don't boast any special credentials as a student of this event. Thom Hartmann, interviewed for this film, is way ahead of me. I was but a few years old, living in Portland, when this event occurred. I've studied the Prouty materials in some depth though, in part because of my interest in Asia (I grew up in the Philippines for most of my high school years).

Indications at Col. Fletcher Prouty's web site are that neither President Lyndon Johnson (part of the motorcade) nor Bobby Kennedy saw the assassination as the deranged actions of a crazy loner. Prouty never implicated Johnson in the assassination in any way, which I gather a subsequent episode of this documentary film series eventually did (I've not seen that episode).

Subsequent to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, attempts against Castro's life were ongoing out of the Attorney General's office, despite an agreement with Khrushchev to stop acting like the Mafia.

Diem, a fellow Catholic, was still alive at this time. JFK wanted to get all USA personnel out of Vietnam by 1965, which might've sounded like an admission of defeat unless some other shoe was to drop. Ed Lansdale, the original quiet American, wanted to return there, though not in the capacity of assassin (McNamara, then defense secretary, considered him willfully insubordinate in that respect, per A.J. Langguth's book Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975).

Given these behind-the-scenes machinations, blowback of some kind was anticipated, though perhaps not at this high of a level, and contingency plans had already been drawn up to prevent the spread of panic, in the event of retaliation.

The cover-up described in the film has to do with the size and nature of the wound, and of course where the bullets might have come from (the under street drainage system provides a new angle). Someone else who saw the original autopsy photos confirms the gaping hole etc. These images were then doctored to match the official story (analysis from the gray scale guy). Divulging this information at the time was strictly verboten (special forces guy).

That Prouty was at the South Pole during the assassination suggests he could be the innocent insider (the tour guide) who would gradually help us understand what had really happened. He points to his friend Ed Lansdale, with a corroborating second opinion, as presumably present on the scene. He writes to Jim Garrison, appears with Oliver Stone, and tries to make himself understood as the real "Man X" -- played by Donald Sutherland in the Oliver Stone film JFK, with Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison.

Prouty fingers Social Darwinism (aka Malthusianism) as driving the "make-war" policies of the post WW2 military-industrial complex. He quotes Bucky Fuller in this regard (in JFK). This was also the Nazi ideology (eugenics), which not surprisingly had (has) many adherents among the moneyed, per War Against the Weak by Edwin Black.

These "not enough to go around" philosophies are self-fulfilling prophecies in that way, as squandering resources on killingry is a sure fire way to assure that there isn't enough livingry. GST takes a look at this trade-off, known to classical economists as "guns versus butter."

Followup: Trevor reminded me that he has some archived correspondence with Lee Oswald's ex-Marine friend Kerry Thornley, hauled before the Warren Commission because of their earlier association in the military. This encounter left lasting scars, as Kerry concluded he was "the next patsy in line" if the LHO story fell through. Trevor, fine with believing the lone gunman theory, hosts Kerry's The Dreadlock Recollections online. Trevor also showed me a copy of Drawing Down the Moon at Powell's, wherein Thornley gets credit for The Discordia papers, prototypical of Subgenius writings in some dimensions.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Surplus (movie review)


Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers, chronicles the descent into irrationality occasioned by the industrial revolution.

Unable to tear away from "earning a living" models, humans endlessly churned out more and more of what they already had too much of, while neglecting their own basic needs.

Future shock apparently involved acknowledging our need to radically improve our cognitive approach to "the economy". Was it really all about shopping until we dropped? Could there have been other answers?

Questioning materialism used to be the quaintly anachronistic job of various once-a-week religions and had a "tsk tsk" neo-Victorian and/or Puritanical flavor. As that questioning has become more urgently existential, much of the religious response has converged with philosophical and scientific investigations.

Instead of the fires of hell, we have global warming to contemplate and/or thermonuclear war followed by nuclear winter. A sense of human culpability keeps us in the game as having agency. We seem to have a steering function, even engineers think so. This keeps a flavor of "testing" in our Global U (Spaceship Earth).

We Can Fix This is exemplary of a more hopeful, less purely destructive, response (a road show, coming soon to The Bagdad). The Coffee Shops Network idea was likewise an attempt to harness our best impulses to support the front lines.

The film uses mockumentary techniques similar to those of Emergency Broadcasting Network in Electronic Behavior Control System for example. Multiple talking head shots, mostly of media personalities and authority figures, get spliced together to mouth some of the film's biting commentary.

One of the longest takes, and most eerie, is in a sex doll factory. These are among the best money can by. We get the grand tour, and learn how body type, head, skin color etc., might be mixed and matched per patient tastes (one could view these as medical devices, akin to prosthetics, and therefore covered by insurance). Shades of AI. Factory and cubicle workers doing calisthenics in unison, inter-spliced with the sex dolls, provide an Orwellian commentary on the dehumanizing effects of the matrix.

George Bush insisting we fight terror by shopping (our "way of life" after all), and Steve Balmer whooping it up for Microsoft, come across as twin icons of some kind of hypertrophic global materialism.

Both are reflective more than instigative, doing their jobs as jester archetypes, properly suited for the masquerade. Anonymous spectators take comfort from the hype, as they do from televangelists, shock jocks, other colorful clowns.

"Know your audience" is the dictum for commercial advertisers, as well as for filmmakers.

One might easily come to see rampant materialism as "the matrix" which traps us in unfulfilling and dehumanizing scenarios. Experiencing said "matrix" as imprisoning is a first step toward liberation in that case, and is an awareness this film seeks to foment.

In the foreground and haunting the sound track: our token "terrorist" who wants to fight back without being too tame about it. Smashing a few windows is civil disobedience in his book, not violence against persons.

Violence against persons, on the other hand, is what matrix shoppers tend to consider a "divine right" in contrast (including by proxy, against strangers in distant lands). Their sense of security and right to over-consume go hand in hand.

This film was released in 2003 and is a part of the Laughing Horse collection. Thanks to recent reorganization, these films are getting more opportunities to circulate beyond just those few radical households that know about them.

Private parties, teach-ins, networking salons etc., with music, presentations, and projected films, are not in violation of copyright, even where covers get played. Fair use rights pertain.

Movie Madness on SE Belmont may have some hard to find videos (and it does), but some of those at Laughing Horse (10th & SE Burnside) are next to impossible to obtain.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Surveying History

Webster Tarpley was being sharply critical of Freedom House on Russia Today (RT), making fun of the Bush Institute's workshop on cyber-freedoms. This led me into reading up on Freedom House, which took me (again) to Bayard Rustin, a gay activist Quaker and former chairman of said NGO.

Tarpley wrote George Bush: the Unauthorized Biography (about Bush Sr.) a book our resident Lyndon LaRouche afficionado Brian Hutchings used to cite often on Geodesic and Synergetics-L, the latter being the precursor the Synergeo. Tarpley has his share of detractors, such as among Noam Chomsky admirers.

I ended up reading the Tarpley bio of Bush Sr. a long time ago. The section on Leo Cherne is especially apropos per Tarpley's remarks on the RT Youtube.

The Tarpley investigation of Nazi connections was more tempered and balanced in Kitty Kelly's book I thought. Per War Against the Weak, the USA's aristocratic intelligentsia was pretty much across the board into Social Darwinism and eugenics in those days, feeding a Hitleresque mindset.

Now I'm curious whether Kiyoshi Kuromiya, a gay activist associated with the MLK campaign, might have known and/or worked with Bayard Rustin.

I've been reading the Speak Truth to Power document again, which agonizes about the erosion of freedoms in America thanks to its new post-WWII wartime economy. The Cold War proved somewhat devastating to personal freedoms, much as the War on Terror has. Freedom House was a staunch foe of McCarthyism I notice.

James Woolsey, of Who Killed the Electric Car? fame, is also a past chairman of the Freedom House board of trustees, a fact Tarpley also mentions on Russia Today.

Here's mention of Kiyoshi, from Smash the Church, Smash the State, edited by Tommi Avicolli Mecca:
At antiwar protests, gay men used campy new tactics to fend off cops and defuse tensions. As Kiyoshi Kuromiya relates in City of Sisterly and Brotherly Love (Marc Stein, Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), “We’d go up to a line of cops with tear gas grenades and horses and clubs. And link arms and do a can-can. Really threw them off guard.”