Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Algorithm

compute a tetrahedron's tetravolume given its six edge lengths

I'm pretty sure the first time I saw Gerald's algorithm it was already expressed in source code, Java no doubt. I've also implemented it in Clojure just for fun and suggest on my Youtube channel that students use whatever language currently interests them, i.e. use it as a Rosetta Stone entry.

The constant e.g. 288 or 144 (a 2nd root thereof) was already absent from Gerald's version, and returning in tetravolumes was already the goal. I don't claim that wrinkle came in with the Python.

Given Python's "duck typing" it's easy enough to use the same source code to use arbitrary precision inputs (way beyond floating points in precision) and to use such as the plane nets for A, B, T, E, S modules in Synergetics to get these volumes and to interconvert their expression with Koski's versions, involving Phi (Fuller avoided using both Phi and Pi in his invented language of Synergetics, whereas adding Phi back in simplifies a lot of the dimensions).

I've also been frequenting a certain Wayne Roberts Principles of Nature website wherein he proves how the area of what he calls a "eutrigon" (one or three angles set to 60 degrees) is A x B where A, B are the lengths including the 60 degree angle, and C is the opposite edge connecting A to B. Multiplication is a matter of specifying the two sides and "closing the lid" (adding C). Lengths 4, 3 would give area of 12 etc.

area in ETUs

Using the same volume formula and treating the unit tetrahedron as analogous to Wayne's "ETU" (equilateral triangular unit), I show the model is entirely analogous i.e. lengths A, B, C from a common corner (picture XYZ corner as analog) give A x B x C as the corresponding volume, once again with a "closing the lid" operation, this time on a tetrahedron vs. a triangle.

2 x 2 x 5 = 20

Given the fixed angle of the ABC corner (that of a regular tet), the remaining three lengths are already determined and easy to obtain, for the purpose of feeding into the 6-edge-eating formula above.

I personally don't need a whole worked out math textbook with proofs + index in order to encourage developing coding skills while imagining a reference "sculpture" namely the concentric hierarchy from Synergetics. Your typical arts and design academy, where fluency with computers is baked into the curriculum, would have reasons to include this segment.

concentric hierarchy

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Friday, March 12, 2021

Domestic Logistics

P1140294

Tuesday this week was a mini day of reckoning.  Would the new appliance show up as the email promised, and work?  This may be the biggest appliance I've bought on the web, sight unseen (but for pictures).

How about the furnace? Letting an oil furnace run out of fuel (my bad) puts air or worse in the line, making a restart difficult sometimes. 

One ends up phoning a technician. The technician usually does a hard sell on rebuilding the whole furnace. Should I convert the house to gas?  Not an option at the moment.

The new Samsung dishwasher appears up to the task. The guys who put it in clearly have their choreography down. Efficient.

The furnace wouldn't come on at first.  The fuel line from under the driveway is quite long. I kept at it, pressing the red button at long intervals, and finally, ignition.  The line was cleared.

I'm back to keeping the household running smoothly, for a 62 and almost 92 year old, during a pandemic. Many thanks to my friends who help out in so many ways.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Sociological Remarks


As the son of a city planner, I have to enjoy the dissonant zoning. Little Free Libraries are the epitome of middle class, whereas the Adult Bookstore is commercial strip mall zoning. 

Juxtaposing these two zonings sets off dissonant notes. 

Then of course the whole idea of "adult content" conflicts with tea-cuppy Victorian values, which provide the roots for what we consider anglophone middle class (piano, trivial pursuits, stable of "horses" i.e. Prius and Tesla).

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Of Bioneers and St. Thomas Aquinas

Continuing with the appliance theme, the bionics, I got my yearly diagnostic at the hospital the other day. There's one number in particular, a physical dimension (width) we're keeping an eye on. No change. That's good.

I guess I like the term "bioneer" OK. Better than "bionista". I echo Guido's dislike of "pythoneer", much preferring "pythonista". So does that make me inconsistent?  Not really.  We want to keep the "engineer" meme.  "One who deals with engines".  Intellect:  that which busies itself with thoughts, while remaining its own thing.

I was lurking on Srikant's seminar room again today (52 Living Ideas).  The est Seminars sometimes endeavored to such collegiate levels, but in opening one's doors to the masses, you're not necessarily soliciting the most high brow of conversations.  This one was about "Faculty Psychology" or "the Psychology of Faculties" and, in particular, the cogitative (no, not cognitive) sense, per St. Thomas Aquinas. 

"Bioneer" for me is a slightly tongue in cheek swap-in for "farmer" where today's farmer is not some left-in-the-dark peasant, but a very globally aware technologist, at the intersection of a great many industries, from entomology, to chemistry, to climate science, to marketing, to cybernetics and synergetics.  Farmers make use of their cogitative sense at a high level.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Appliance Connection

I've been grateful the appliances have kept working. After the personal bionics, the avatar, and those around us, we want our machines to work, especially the life sustaining ones, like the furnace, air conditioner, for many a car. I running a two person household yet managing my Oregon Curriculum Network on top of that, pumping memes to the world.  That's thanks to appliances.

So yeah, the clothes washer went out.  My ex Sandia Labs friend, with the can do attitude, was all ready to buy some parts and dive in.  Bill Shepherd rescued my DVD player by soldering a new capacitor to the circuit board, per online advice.  Perhaps $60 in parts and some hours, would make the Kenmore good as new.

Calling around for a repair person wasn't getting me anywhere.  The web machine is still directing calls, but these go to a black hole. The economy is still in suspension.  The economy would prefer I buy a new washing machine.  That's what the stimulus check, if there is one, could be for.

My Sandia friend was also ready to solve the BP crisis, when British Petroleum (aka the Pentagon) trashed the Gulf of Mexico. Patrick had his aquarium tank fired up and started prototyping these giant sucking contraptions (giant at scale), designed for ordinary fishing boats to use.  Mobilize the fleet.

He's taken on other challenges: the python invasion in the Everglades; the need for easy verification of vaccinated status.

My sense of the problem with the washer is there's no diagnosis by telepathy. One has to take it apart to see what's wrong.  I've had it for more than five years probably, and it's not under any kind of extended protection plan.

Buying a new appliance, and protection plan, in this day and age, is a statement of confidence about our civilization, and even about so-called "capitalism" (a word I use for something else, but never mind). I'm expecting Home Depot to be around for another five years, and maybe even expand to other countries.

We need to get back to tourism, and not tourism in camo.  In exporting its youth in military uniform, instead of as civilians, the Americans wasted a few generations.  People are entitled to UBI as compensation for all this abuse maybe.  Monkey rule of humanity has been a bummer.





Thursday, February 18, 2021

Of EQ and IQ

From the Polymaths & Polymathy group on Facebook:

Even if it's true that IQ is measurable and EQ is not, meaning you can't walk around with a numeric bell curve score for your EQ, that doesn't mean we don't each have a sense of gaining and losing EQ points over a lifetime.

You can suddenly have insights and understand yourself and others a lot better. Part of that just takes growing to adulthood. You gain empathy for people raising kids, by raising kids, and so on.

I think the game in both cases is to guard against losing points, which means exercise and train to stay at full potential (for you).

I believe EQ is trained by novels, movies, soaps, TV series (not all of them, just the ones that do). Also travel. Having friendships and community. EQ is developed and cultivated.

Even if we think IQ is somewhat fixed (everyone has a maximum they can't go beyond, similar to physical height and/or maximum strength), there's the question of whether we value it or not and/or have opportunities to "work out" in order to live up to our full potential.

Sometimes we're not rewarded for physical strength. Likewise, you my be stuck in a routine, not of your own making if you're not free, that has no use for your stellar IQ. Picture an Elon Musk type wasting away on a marijuana charge in Texas. Times a million around the world.

Humans deliberately sabotage their own smarts, to conform to social norms. Women have been especially so encouraged.

I'd say a polymath is someone who (a) values both IQ and EQ and (b) strives to "stay in shape" which means "round" (as in well-rounded). Life by its very nature is multi-topic, multi-subject, so the very process of staying in shape is going to take care of the poly part.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Playing World Game


How does one play it, this World Game thing I've been talking about? Even the subtitle of my Grain of Sand blog is Kirby Plays World Game.

Well, I'd say Natasha here in this Youtube is a player, in that she's sharing about growing up in her hometown. I just came across her channel recently, starting with the one where she takes us on a tour of her dorm block in her language school.  She's on a seventh floor sharing the space with her sister, likewise a language student.

Natasha had elected to learn Japanese, however owing to a teacher shortage, she was assigned Chinese instead, and English.  Her English is already quite good, which helps her join the world of traveling Youtube bloggers, the new citizen diplomats.

That sounds like a more exalted title -- "citizen diplomat" -- but its in some ways redundant.  As a player, you'll likely speak up for, most identify with, a subset of the total team.  This will help others communicate with you, through a somewhat standardized API.  You identify with some country, nation, camp, tribe or company and thereby serve as a representative or ambassador therefrom.  Perhaps your nation is one of the diaspora nations, not on any UN-approved map at this time?

Speaking of maps, Fuller's Dymaxion Projection was generally devoid of political data, sticking nominally to temperature (global average). The map was positioned in this way partly because of its role in the space of citizen diplomacy.  

Were Bucky to have published a veridical political map, he would have had to copy an authority, such as the United Nations, or maybe would have planted his own flag in some way, by drawing different borders. Either way, he would have taken a position on many political issues, simply by showing borders.

Rather than get involved in such border disputes, Bucky made it so that any nationalism worth its salt is concerned with the welfare of the entire game board.  He would supply and artifact, neutrally devoid of political data, and leave it to the individual players how they wanted to value-add.

Parochial adherence to some specific jurisdiction could be seen as negligent. Looking out for the welfare of a people, was tantamount to taking the welfare of all of the peoples into account.  We're a single unified ecosystem, a planet, with or without competently designed systems on the humans' part.  And that's where World Game comes in, and playing with competence.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

From My Outbox

We could artificially create human "breeds" with pedigrees, and a lot of this goes on with inbreeding and nobility.  If we really wanted to play the game of "purebreds" versus "mongrels" in the human sphere, we could.  But for the most part, we don't want to.

When it comes to typifying humans by genetic makeup, there're so many ways to slice and dice.  Why aren't dwarves a race, or albinos?  We say "genetic anomaly" or whatever, but any genetic characteristic might be lumped into a breed or "race" by convention, should we wish it.

We could easily have "races of human" based on blood type only.  This would satisfy no one of course, because the whole point of racism is to have distinguishable outward characteristics that allow one to be classified.  Like if you speak Italian as a first language, you're obviously of the Italian race and so on. :-D

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Learning to Work Remotely: An End in Itself

USDLA 2015

Back when O'Reilly paid our way to professional development experiences, I got to hang out with the  distance learning crowd (USDLA) in St. Louis.  Or maybe I should say "distance teaching" as I was learning from the teaching end of the business.

All of that was pre pandemic of course, at the time of the big earthquake in Nepal. I remember Leela (then Lindsey) calling me in my Hilton hotel room from Kathmandu, to say she was OK.  Hilton had taken over a goodly portion of the old Union Station in downtown STL, the site of our conference.

In those days, Michigan was giving some kids opportunities to take a distance learning class as an experience in itself.  A special school had set up facilities in several metro areas, whereby the kids would be in a learning facilities, complete with snacks and exercise equipment -- but their teachers were far away.  

They could practice their Zoom skills, or the old timey equivalent.  They could get ready for remote work.

Part of schooling today, is around developing the skills needed to work remotely.  Developing those abilities is an end in itself as well as a means to an end.  

Some teachers specialize in teaching remotely just as some specialize in teaching gym or home economics.  But then remote teaching works best for some subject matter, such as maybe history and computer science.  YMMV.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Contra Opinionism

I was grousing the other day about what Individualism (individuation) is not, actually reiterating a pet peeve of mine, first consciously formulated around high school.  

Now these were good schools mind you, as the parents were already at the top of their games usually, living a high life of some kind. 

What they all said they wanted you to learn was "critical thinking" which means how to think critically, but what does that in fact mean, let us pause.

What "critical thinking" doesn't mean, yet what comes across as a poor substitute, is being strongly opinionated on a wide variety of topics. This gets confused with "building character" i.e. someone with character is known to kvetch and moan, or praise and promote, about a very long list of notions.

What seemed to be happening is my classmates and I were being encouraged to express strong opinions about matters we'd barely considered.  The way to acknowledge learning about something, was to pass judgement thereon.  "Knowing about" meant "having formed opinions about".  Therefore, strong opinions could be taken as knowing.

I suppose a "knowing person" is what the schools coach us to become.  But how much of being "knowing" is pure affectation?  

What I came to was a disparaging opinion of "know it alls".  A "know it all" isn't just good at regurgitation information, which can be an impressive skill, but someone who invariably accompanies that information with some kind of judgement or spin.

Obviously I'm being opinionated and judgemental right here, so am I not hypocritical?  I may well be hypocritical on occasion but I don't see any logical contradiction in questioning an ethic, and an esthetic, which is itself about "being critical".

A reason distopians might give for the ultimate untenability of utopian communities with libertarian and democratic ideals, is that once you have a bunch of know-it-alls in the room, collaboration quickly becomes impossible.  The principals become too interested in jamming one another's plans.

However, if a primary reflex of most of the denizens is "not necessarily my business" or "I'm not prepared to venture an opinion" we could have a lot smoother functioning.  People are happy to stay on the sidelines and not feel aggrieved at every turn, because their opinion was not sought.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Race Versus Ethnicity

Nazism cobbled together social darwinism, eugenics, folk beliefs from the Bible about "sons of Noah", and the emerging science of genetics (no DNA known), to further the white man pseudo-science of "races".

I say "white man" to capture an ethnicity, not a race. Anglo-Euros with empires and slavery to justify, and control over the curriculum namespaces.

There's no "race gene" that divides 1/2, 1/4, 1/8... such that "by blood, I'm 1/32nd Black" -- that's utter nonsense, dumbed down to fit the arithmetic of an elementary school teacher. To this day, Anglo-Euros strut about talking about "race" as if it meant something, failing to see "ethnicity" as what they're really talking about. They don't get a decent semantics in school, and flounder and drown (figuratively) in their own poorly designed concepts. A racist is someone who believes in races.

A big diff between "race" and "ethnicity" is the former is imposed on you by authorities, who may insist you go by "mixed" whether or not you believe in their faux taxonomy. They won't let you "pass" as white if you're 1/32nd "black" or whatever ethnic nazi apartheid garbage they go by.

"Ethnicity" on the other hand is something I have more control over, even more than over gender it would seem to me (I can't change my XY to the XX of the stronger sex). I may be born into one ethnicity, yet die in another. Indeed, I'm able to tell people (versus be told) what my ethnicity is, and the vocabulary there is always changing.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Unsubstantiated Innuendo

Remember, there was already a SARS outbreak before this, traced by virologists, including the Wuhan Lab, to bat colonies. Bat-derived coronaviruses is today and was before a focus of the Wahan virologists, of course. We were warned years ago that another SARS-like outbreak was very possible. 

As Nassim Taleb puts it, this was no "black swan" event -- twaz foreseen and foreseeable.

So yes, Wuhan was studying coronaviruses, we knew that from the beginning. That's their job. They had joint projects with NSF funded scientists which Trump made a big show of cutting, in a moronic display of awkwardness.

So if there was a release of coronavirus by a contagious human, contaminated in the lab, that is not proof of weaponization or gain of function research.

Looking over the credentials of the WHO adviser, I am not impressed. Tell me exactly what look like genetic alterations to a naturally occuring bat-borne virus. 

Let it cross your mind that humans don't yet know enough about viruses to purposely modify their lethality, let alone synthesize them from scratch.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Buzz

I'm hearing they just wanted "a few more days" to get to the bottom of these allegations, a rerun of Pizzagate in 2016 in a lot of ways. 

Giuliani and Sydney Powell were always making it seem like the big revelation was coming tomorrow. 

Just like 2016: stay tuned, and we'll have proof Hillary is Spawn of Satan. 

This kind of short term myopic "tomorrow is the apocalypse" science fiction, is worth mocking I think.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

More Remarks on Race, Revised & Extended

Downtown Portland from Mt. Tabor

The white African pictured above [Facebook] is of course Yolandi Visser. My parents moved to Lesotho sometime after Bhutan (from one mountain kingdom to another), which is surrounded by RSA (Republic of South Africa). 

Over the years, through many adventures, I've come to feel at home in that part of Africa. The idea of "white Africans" is nothing jarring or new. White refers to skin color yes, not race really. 

There's no "race" gene and conflating the world to "white brown yellow red black" is just comic book cartoonery. Fits on a brochure. Keep it simple, and stupid (KISS of death).


Tiffany doesn't identify as 3rd culture because she associates that with international schools, which she didn't go to. Fair enough. 

Her dad tells the story of how, when Tiffany was growing up in Japan, she'd talk about skin color very literally, as in RGB values. A person might be light pink, or tan, or... given her own dark skin, she'd of course know the difference. But it wasn't about race, yet. Then, after some time back in the states, Tiffany came home and talked about a "black" person, where you could tell the meaning had shifted, and literal color was no longer the meaning. That day was sweetly sad, a loss of innocence. 

The racist meme virus had claimed another victim in a way.

If hair, eye and/or skin color were a reliable indicator of ethnicity and personality then I could see where racism could keep a toehold. "White skin means you think as I do" -- that could work in some isolated setting, but fewer and fewer settings are that isolated.

The problem is, as Somalis repatriate in Tennessee, for example, you get ethnic tensions and rebalancings that belie the simplicity of "skin color" as the key parameter. People want to hate each other first, and look for distinguishing physical characteristics second.

In the language of the data scientist, skin color, eye shape, body type etc. have become less and less principal components in our model of the human persona.

Like, I am often seeking out ethnicity when I meet a person (say it's a date), which means everything from what magazines do they read (do they read), what profession and so on.

If, like an idiot, I conclude from skin color that I'm free to talk down or be rude somehow, as if I'm superior, then I stereotype myself more and more as a typical jerk. My reflexes are seeming more and more awkward as I'm surprised again and again by how sad and clownish I've become. Racism leads to awkward embarrassment, which is what is ultimately going to extinguish it, more than ratiocination, I'd hazard.

Case in point, my family, Quaker, once stayed at the home of then deputy defense minister of the RSA, formerly with African National Congress and now married into the Routledge family and a Friend.

That RSA would appoint a pacifist to the defense ministry was creative. On trips to weapons bazaars, where they'd wanna sell you every type of fighter jet this and bazooka that, the booth people would inevitably swarm around the little guy, assuming Nozizwe was the personal assistant. Imagine their surprise. 😀

Per my angle, "race" is hokum and a racist is someone who believes in races. That's OK though. Nationalists believe in nations, likewise social constructs and not unrelated. I don't expect either racists or nationalists to die out anytime soon, even if my own ethnicity takes neither too seriously.

My mission is to not force "true beliefs" on people, let them believe whatever crap they like and feed them anyway, don't hold their bodies hostage to meme viruses. Give everyone a fun life if possible. Waste less and we'll get there.

I do like "ethnicity" (over "race") for being plastic. Steve Martin raised black in the south in The Jerk comes to mind.

Given my high school in the Philippines and subsequent immersion in Asian cultures, plus my own studies and who knows what else, I have no worries identifying as Asian if people ask. Of course I know it's not my ethnicity they usually care about. The little check boxes are about my "race". I dutifully check "white" and inwardly sneer at my stupid ancestors and their superstitions.

Thinking of myself as Asian puts some distance between me and these other domestics around me, the ones who never left and don't share my 3rd culture expat upbringing. Feels right (to put some distance).

As to gender, I get from theater that we are able to play characters in movies, and it might get to where your "home character" is like a female even if your body is XY. A whole city, like Portland, might agree to go with that convention, that regardless of your body's XX or XY, you have a right to define a home base character of any gender.

But that's like a fleeting and fragile overlay in a subculture, like Vienna being sensitive to a special music. Outsiders are just gonna see it as weird, take offense, and think Portland is trying to export its idea of "life as theater" to the world (whereas in fact Portland is inward-turned and sometimes forgets there's "a world" out there).