Thursday, March 29, 2018

No Macroscope?

Globe & Map

We have the telescope and microscope, have for decades (though both keep morphing), yet no "macroscope" is a household word.  Why?  What's a "macroscope" anyway?

Google Earth has come about as close as anyone to declassifying a Big Earth animated globe thingy, but not in real time, as people aren't ready for "everyone seeing everything" through satellites.

Some of us want to guard against poachers.

That was my big push with drones, and not as shooters.  Inform the authorities and set up whatever road blocks or check stations. If there's a way to save more animals, consider the options.  I digress.

I never supported their use in warfare, though of course war is not about "fair" and no one asked my permission, one way or the other. I never called for their use against Julian either, even in jest.

Buckminster Fuller suggested "geoscope" for the same thing, and got close in 1967, when the original US State Department proposal was for an unfolding geoscope that formed a Dymaxion Projection (same Gaussian as a Snyder pretty much but in a unique arrangement ideally suited to keeping contiguous landmasses contiguous).

Those adjoined only by oceans get spread apart.

The Expo people decided that might be too cerebral and why not go with a giant geodesic dome instead, a smaller version memorialized at EPCOT in Orlando, decades latter?

Montreal 67 was the Taj Mahal of geodesic structures.  No nation has had more self respect than Canada, when it comes to hosting such a bold architecture.  Makes sense:  Donald Coxeter.

Later blueprints anchored a Geoscope in East River opposite the UN building, a convenience for those inside, and a tourist attraction.  The tensegrity moorings would have competed for attention with the tensegrity radio tower atop New York's newest trade center, had either project been completed.

Kenneth Snelson of Needle Tower fame (Washington DC) and many other tensegrity structures, had been approached about providing one as a finishing touch to the new skyscraper.

Actually, macroscopes do exist, for precisely the purpose intended, the display of global data.  They just don't enjoy the courtesy of an instrument name, such as "telescope" and "microscope" enjoy.  We're to get by with "globe" or "planetary data display" or some generic.

That's as of 2018 BCE in my specific locale (OR 97214), where I monitor only a subsample of how the world population speaks (by "world population" I mean to include those in low orbit aboard staffed machines).

Glenn Stockton of Global Matrix fame keeps tabs on such literature and is well aware of the many authors and authorities involved in macroscope development.  Again, Google Earth is representative of the state of the art.

But in what ways has this asset been incorporated into the elementary, middle and high school grades?  The vector towards becoming a "household word" is through percolation within a curriculum.  Who looks at Earth?

More schools may be screening macroscopes soon.  The LCDs might not be interactive, but are instead preprogrammed to hop around, like a programmed Planetarium projector might do.

These are related devices (Planetariums and Macroscopes), as Christian Science Mapparium (Boston, MA) clearly demonstrates.  Observers stand inside the planet in question, with global data appearing as stained glass. Might pixels be referred to as "stained" when containing RGB "dyes"?

Look for macroscopes in Dubai?

The Lower48 keeps telling itself it's the richest "nation" on Earth -- which is touching -- and we want these folks to succeed.  But lets be honest:  their budget for education is far outclassed by those working harder for their children.  End Timers have reason to be lazy, in proportion to the certainty with which they cling to those beliefs.

I'm not claiming all North Americans are End Timers, let alone all in Lower48.  But those who are ready to see it all come to a full stop probably won't see the need for planners or futurists.  What's the point, right?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Drama Queens

Yes, this one is hilarious. It hits so many movie-maker cliches right on the nose, the chords of melodrama.

I think a lot of the Boomer generation thinks the world suddenly got a lot more tabloid at some point, as if the supermarket checkout lane world just took over one day and won't ever let go.

The above trailer captures that sense of claustrophobia, wherein a mundane nuisance becomes an existential threat of gun blaster proportions.  Such a psyche tends to feed on itself.  From merely dramatic, we move to melodramatic, then off the scale (the so-called deep end) to surreal. 

However surreal could be fun with a Dali throwing the party, so I'm not saying all our reality TV shows must be nightmarish, even if surreal sometimes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Paradigm Shift

Library Book

This is the one to read after Cryptonomicon, which is historical science fiction. This newer one, The Theory that Would Not Die, is availing itself of a lot of the same information.  As author Sharon Bertsch McGrayne points out:  a lot of this wartime business didn't start to trickle out until the 1970s.  The people who participated were forbidden to share their experience, for "national security" reasons.

The premise of the recent movie Churchill, was that Winston had huge doubts about the wisdom of D-Day, and took comfort in the idea that the weather might be on his side.  He tried his best to talk Eisenhower out of it.

According to this recent history of Data Science, Eisenhower possibly had access to deeper secrets from the UK's own Bletchley Park than Churchill did, and knew, from intercepted and decrypted communications, that Hitler saw a Normandy landing as a likely bluff, and wanted his generals to gird for the "real thing" should it happen.

That told Eisenhower his deception was working.

I knew a guy who'd served under General Patton in the UK, where the goal was to appear to be amassing a large army, such that aerial surveillance would be fooled.  The Germans would think those were tanks, but they were closer to inflated balloons.  The Churchill movie doesn't talk about all this.

I remember when this older guy I knew, a WW2 veteran, finally felt free to share his experience:  the New York Times had published a story on the fake army just that morning or thereabouts. This was way back in the 1980s.

Alan Turing, on the other hand, was never allowed to talk about his critical role saving Britain.  Churchill was very keen to have all evidence destroyed.  Exactly why again?

Why do politicians have the power to order mass destruction of anything, anywhere?  Because we authorize them to do so?  So we can scapegoat them later when things don't go as planned?  Yeah, something like that.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Studying Wars

Enough still unprocessed warring has gone on to last lifetimes.

The violence voyeur is always seeking some new spectacle.  A younger generation comes along and asks itself "how would I behave in wartime?"  Some seek glory.

Maybe we don't need you to find that out?  How would you behave if war were not a goal?

Politicians continually need assurance they'll be able to whip up war fever, and float a lot of trial balloons in that regard, just to see where they stand with the minions.

The minions, for their part, get bamboozled into one war after another, because they don't get the time or space to really study.  They repeat the same mistakes, having too little time to learn from mistakes already made.

"Stop the world I want to get off" is the cliche complaint people ridicule, knowing there's no stopping.  However, without reflection, life stays shallow and superficial.  What would it be like to let generations really learn their own past?

We have enough raw material to last many lifetimes.  Do we really need to create more gratuitous karma for ourselves?

Slow down and learn about what has already happened.  Wouldn't that be a huge luxury?  You could still tour, enjoy those cruise ships, explore museums.

We didn't need you to start new wars.  Maybe you did anyway.  You might have thought elective wars would get you elected? Is that what your donors told you?  Were they paying you to get a war on?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


We use these short little acronym in government (Cyberia) all the time.  ML = Machine Learning.  DL = Deep Learning.  If you don't know what these mean, you're likely a left-behind politician with too little time for engineering to really govern (steer).

As a newbie in the circle of ML / DL teachers, I'm very humble.  I sit at the feet of favorite teachers and sponge it up, tasking my own neural net to re-weight and re-bias as necessary.  Get to the bottom of all these meanings.  Investigate.  Don't assume, coming in, that your namespace is well-tempered (well-tuned).

My approach is two-track.  First, I've somewhat abandoned doing everything in Sphinx, not because I have any issues with Sphinx, but because of my own weaknesses and shortcomings with regard to Github.  There's a final step wherein documentation might "go live" in world-readable (open source) space, but I'm not taking it.  Second, I'm staying with Python.

Track One:  manual skills, like when gardening, you need to know how to use a spade, trowel, shovel, bucket, weed whacker and so on. 

Track Two:  conceptual grasp.  The latter comes slowly or at least at its own rate, less under conscious control, whereas practicing with matplotlib, numpy, pandas and scikit-learn APIs is eminently doable of one's own volition.

My focus is on polishing Track One manual skills and remaining patient with the "slow dawning" that is the gradual emergence (surfacing) of any knowledge domain.  I can't rush Track Two whereas if I burn the candle at both ends, I can practice the way athletes practice:  you keep at it.

Keeping these tracks separate has one big advantage:  I don't have to apologize for taking the ten thousand foot view and going for broke on Track Two, all out of proportion to what my manual skills yet allow.  I'm barely able to dig a trench yet am already studying the intricacies of orchid raising, or beekeeping (not usually considered part of gardening, but then really everything is).

My humility does not translate into refraining from actually studying the magic.  I just have to admit I haven't practiced enough, nor re-tuned my model enough, to fully minimize the error function (cost function).  I'm still getting to the bottom of ML DL (gradient descent).

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

World Game Continues

Wanderers, who meet frequently at the Linus Pauling House on Hawthorne, tend to be familiar with the World Game idea, and a couple of us at least, have actually played it.  Francher showed up at the ones led by Buckminster Fuller himself.  I played it in Eugene, and in San Diego, when Tara was just taking her first steps.

We're reading about the passing of Jay Baldwin and 85, an American hero and lover of cars, who escaped New Jersey and headed for California along the open road.  He love of cars it would steered him towards Fuller, who developed a three wheeled Dymaxion Car at a critical juncture.  Then came the Dymaxion House.  These were props we could use on the World Stage (where World Game is actually played).

I'm beginning a new course on data science tonight and want my students to get in touch with their internal data scientist.  I think some of us get turned off statistics for the same reason we don't really like economics:  the topics are too dismal, to fatalistic and deterministic.  "I'm not a statistic" the ego cries, fitting the model.  I know I've eschewed thinking like a data scientist most of my life.  I'll confess that, and discuss techniques for overcoming such limitations.

World Game connects to Club of Rome in that humanity was newly becoming aware of its ability to model reality based on big data, or any data at all.  Computers could churn through the number crunching, according to whatever algorithms.  Humans would be free to focus on the algorithms.  We could turn our mathematical understanding into a better tool for forecasting.  These were seeming like superpowers.

I wrote on the Club of Rome in eighth grade, for Mr. Craden's sociology class.  We had sociology at the Overseas School of Rome.  Dad subscribed to The Futurist, was an urban planner in charge of drawing up fifty year plans for the government of Libya.  I took for grated that humans were meant to "think big".  That was part of our role.  During a crisis period in Jersey City, I came to doubt that such thinking mattered, as it never seemed to gain traction.  History did its own thing, never mind how we planned it.  I've come to a later synthesis, still being fine-tuned.

World Game is all about anticipating, forecasting from data.  Even for that reason alone I should be grateful for this opportunity to retrain and change the relative weights in my neural nets, feeding more power and influence to my internal data scientist.  The free open source tools I'm learning to use help me play World Game more effectively.  The very process of learning to use them helps me project what the personal workspace (PWS) of tomorrow will be like.  The PWS is a core concept within GST.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Big Sur (movie review)


Glenn rented this one from Multnomah Public Library. He'd read some Kerouac novels and grew up in the same generation, more or less. Jack was a pack leader, of the Beat Generation, but feels ambivalent in his role.

Glenn recognized City Lights Books as iconic and said the real one was bigger than the one in the movie.  He pulled out a book he'd procured there.

Mostly it's a movie about alcohol and its potentially devastating impact on many lives, extending well beyond the drinker's. The movie is also about truth-telling and keeping it real.  The characters care about one another, they're just not sure how to express it.

Here's poor old Jack in what we might call a utopia, a cozy cabin at Big Sur, friendly supporters, and with a dream girl and her beautiful son. She's eager to be his life-long companion, and yet he's suicidal and in hell.

Viewer jealousy may be forgiven, but must Jack really suffer that much?  What were his sins that he cannot enjoy his own fame and fortune?

These beatniks were too undisciplined, drinking while driving, forgetting to make plans.

I understand they needed to escape an overly constraining, fiercely racist environment, and that the psychological cost of alienation was an occupational hazard.  Wavey Gravy, another beat poet, did a better job transitioning.

The youthful rebellion gathered momentum, and by the hippie days was more self-defining. Or was it? Jack Kerouac transitions to Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead.

The hippie era was somewhat less blighted by alcohol perhaps, in that the hip cool thing was to explore psychedelics, which have different side effects. This movie doesn't need to tackle the subject of entheogens.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

From Facebook

As an Oregon voter and taxpayer, I'd like to know more about these new security protections Oregonians have a right to know more about. Anyone into cybersecurity knows its about adhering to open standards using source code anyone can check.

That's how NIST designs stuff, around Elliptic Curve and AES. Oregon has Vote-By-Mail so I'm curious what people see as vulnerable to Russian attack.

I know my curiosity will be met by a cloak of secrecy if the plan is actually to further heist the system by making it opaque (less transparent). That'd be hard to do given the stated objectives and follow-up audits we'll be demanding.

Americans (in the US sense) have long distrusted the voting machine infrastructure, dating back several elections. I haven't seen many claims that this sense of distrust traces to Russian propaganda.

Rather, it seems well-founded and based on actual cases of tampering that have come to light, most notably purges of voter rolls using deliberately sloppy techniques designed to spread collateral damage among specific demographics.

Those who studied the black box voting machines found much to criticize.

So where is NIST in this picture?

Does the US commit any funds towards researching and developing the infrastructure of democracy?

If MAGA means anything at all, it would have to mean looking to the US for role model, trusted technology around voting, combined with best practices.

The US is very far from that now, with most judging bodies saying US elections no longer pass the sniff test. There may be moves afoot to hold the Russians accountable for Stinky Politics Nation (SPN), but that could easily backfire. Blaming all one's problems on a convenient enemy has a way of not working out.