Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rapid Qualitative Inquiry

I attended a talk on Rapid Qualitative Inquiry this evening, by an expert on the topic, Dr. James Beebe.  His partner has presented to Wanderers on her work in Afghanistan.

I came to the talk fresh from exploring a new CSN siting possibility:  Bangalore.  The LCD reveries featuring the IVM would likely go over well with proper prep, given the receptivity of this city to trends in high technology and early adoption.

However, the local chief of GST (general systems theory, a discipline) is somewhat hostile to the Bucky stuff and is circling the wagons to protect his turf.  We engage in our public quarreling on math-teach.

Rapid Qualitative Inquiry replaces the solo researcher with a team and does not begin with questions, but with techniques for eliciting emic storytelling (emic means "insider" I learned).  One might call it "accelerated anthropology" and it comes from USAID wanting to make interventions in short order, without the luxury of months of study, let alone years.

James had been a student of Bob Textor, founder of this think tank and Bob, as an architect of the Peace Corps program, was faced with challenges around rapid deployment leading to interventions in that historic context.

The new CHR candidate did not work out I'm told.  I liked the old one just fine anyway and didn't see where the CEO was coming from in proposing turnover (perhaps this wasn't coming from the CEO in the first place?).

The ability to distinguish affective emotion from logic, in the heat of an argument, is an important skill.  The way to remain cool is to calmly accept differences in naming conventions, not to defensively rally around one's own namespace as the "one and only".

Different city-states use different axioms (maxims) to govern their internal affairs.

RQI is by definition a team exercise, not the job of a solo practitioner.  One can fake it as a solo investigator but we're talking about something more akin to police work (detective work) and that takes multiple perspectives and a willingness to keep those perspectives jockeying for attention (more like the White House in that regard).

Bohmian Dialog does not insist on a minimum threshold of participants for nothing.  When the number of points of view falls to too low a number, one loses the advantage of partially overlapping narrative accounts, and in RQI work, multiple narratives makes all the difference.

James stressed an important point:  to earn the trust of participants, one should never promise them the moon, nor even that the results they most ardently wish for will in fact be the eventual results.

Buy-in on objectives is important nevertheless.  For example, the CSN reveries on LCD screens tend to reinforce a lot of the "design science" memes launched by Fuller e.g. 1, 12, 42, 92... CCP (i.e. IVM lattice).

Would more exposure to such memes benefit the children of Bangalore as they grow into adulthood?  Only if the answer is yes would I consent to move forward.  So far I'm thinking "yes" is the answer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

Freaking About Phi

:: by numberphile ::

Loop Back

More Playing with Greek Mythos

Here's a series of billboards you might find interesting, from the Language Project of the 1980s:

Picture: Earth from space
Caption: Spaceship

Picture: Children playing on geodesic dome
Caption: Wildlife

Picture: Nautilus Shell
Caption: High Tech

Picture: Earth from space
Caption: Game Park

Then there's my Python billboard with just the Python logo (already well known) and the caption: Just Use It.

"Just Use It" alludes to Nike's "Just Do It".

Nike is a familiar / avatar of goddess Athena, as is the Python.

Leveraging Greek mythology is one of the things I do (in the tradition of Carl Jung et al), such as retelling the story of Apollo and the Python he supposedly slew... the Python escaped actually, and moved to Nashville, where a full scale Parthenon exists with a museum about the original Parthenon (temple to Athena) in the basement. (shows Athena with Nike and Python in Nashville Parthenon)

But I digress. Did you know of the connection between Athena and West Point? We're talking about the military again.

More context:  full posting @ math-teach

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Hunger (movie review)

You'll notice I'm posting this on Halloween, October 31st, as is appropriate given the subject matter:  the fictive vampire phenomenon, acted out by some talented personages: David Bowie, Susan Sarandon; Catherine Deneuve.

Somewhat like in the most recent Godzilla, we're finally in a scientific age when these mythical phenomena start getting real explanations.  Godzilla and friends feed off radioactivity and humans' discovery of this primordial "fire" has brought them to the surface.

With vampires, it's a blood thing, and transmitted through biting.  We actually look through the microscope and see that Susan's blood can't stand up to Catherine's, which has far greater immunological properties.

That's why Catherine's appearance belies her years, ditto Bowie's when the movie opens, somewhat "in the throwness of things" as Heidegger might have put it.

What a lot of vampires don't understand is their beauty is still fragile, even if longevity is assured, and they're likely to end up in an "out of sight out of mind" box in an attic or basement or nursing home someplace.

Exactly what causes aging to catch up with one suddenly is still not explained, but data points get added when the "queen" falls to her "death" (entrapment), and this seems to release her former concubines from their entrapped condition.  A new queen takes her place.  In this way turnover occurs, but slowly.

The vampire myth allows working out in narrative form what it's like for some mortals to have much longer lifespans than others through blood replacement therapy, extra vitamin C and so on.  The inequities seem obvious, as David Bowie has to relinquish his queen to go on without him, already plotting to snag her next lover (vampires get lonely too). 

If your sense of karmic inertia suggests life after Bardo, then your desire to pour money into prolonging a given organism's arc might seem less wise or necessary.

Horror films as a genre get to break taboos and cross lines.  Hitchcock's The Birds was one of the first commercial draws to show violence against children to the point of drawing blood.  Bowie's last victim is a brilliantly played fiesty young Beth Ehlers, only ten years my junior...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Season

Welcome to Nirel, CSN CTO, back in Greater Portland.

We're busy having a happy Halloween in Asylum District. 

Some fresh photos...

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Quakerism is proving a useful namespace in which to investigate various forms of ambivalence, attitudes which may contain nuggets of wisdom and insight if successfully cracked.

For example, the puritanical prohibition against gambling, thought retrograde, contains the healthy suspicion of psychological manipulation, expertly employed by hidden persuaders, aimed at misleading people far more than at bettering their lives, PR to the contrary.

In other words, in the late 1700s, the Quakers were masters of the art of intelligent risk-taking and were seeing their investments in steel, rail and mining, paying off handsomely in real terms.  In that sense, they were "gambling" and in any given case, a scenario might take a turn for the worse and investments would be lost.  But ain't that just a picture of "business in a nutshell"?

No one has a plan to remove risk from the picture, not even God apparently (or He'd have acted by now, right? -- like some deus ex machina).

So gambling is both an inevitability woven into the human condition, and is regarded as a temptation.  You have to do it, and it's a sin.  Where have we heard that before?

Given the Coffee Shops Network inherits from "casino" as one of its parent blueprint institutions, as well as from "video arcade" and "church bingo" (all mixins) we should look more deeply at this ambivalence around "gambling".

As Penn & Teller the stage magicians put it, following in the footsteps of Remarkable Randi, staged illusions are harmless as long as the audience is in on the secret that they're being hoodwinked.

That's not the same as telling the secrets behind the magic tricks.  It's just there's no premise to the show that you in the audience have been wrong about physics all these years, and the universe just doesn't operate by the principles you imagined.  Now watch these spoons bend as proof of your ignorance.

Very true: one may be wrong and off about principles, way off sometimes, but when people willfully deceive others into thinking wrongly, the word "malicious" has to come to mind.

Perhaps two enemies that deserve each other have been using deceptive techniques for a long time now, so the alternative, of truth telling, seems bizarre.  But again, to say "we're deceiving you" is not the same as saying how or even why.

Since Quakers prize honesty and have a history of risk taking, we can say the "intelligent gamble" is not discouraged, but how about selectively withholding information, as that's often away to backhandedly sabotage another's gamble.  What's allowed in a spirit of "friendly competition".  Do we all agree on the rules?  Manifestly we do not, though we share areas of overlap in that regard.

Quakers seem logically bound to see the open source movement as a way of leveling the playing field at least in terms of tools.  You won't have a winning hand simply because you deprive the other guy of even getting to hold any cards.  This "equality of opportunity" standard is part of most democratic rhetoric i.e. "in a democracy" one works to not institutionalize a lot of secrecy and "insiders only" information.  Democratic government is open government.

Another reason Quakerism is fruitful is it encompasses the non-profit business model, which other for-profits may use for tax write-off purposes.  A coffee shop, if non-profit, may have an easier time highlighting the "church bingo" aspect of its heritage, whereas the for-profit version might seem a little more "casino-like" in its operations.

But then in my part of the world, casino profits were oft used for charitable purposes, like supporting OMSI or returning over-cultivated lands to a more wild state, friendlier to salmon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Byzantine Delights

Another photographer and I enjoyed this year's Greek Festival here in Portland.  I was somewhat "on the clock" as CMO for this Coffee Shops Network, recounting my public appearance at Women's Bookstore where I "came out" as a avatar for the Cult of Athena.

Maybe that sounds impressive but there's always gotta be a cult back stage somewhere and I felt a need to be up front about it, not that we were signing a contract or anything, just a meeting with a candidate new CHR.

Plus it's not like it's a secret to blog readers here or anything, that Greek mythology is involved, just CSN is esoteric and behind the scenes so I have my work cut out for myself, in making the charitable enterprise more transparent to folks.

Friday, September 5, 2014

More Marketing...

From a followup email to someone I met at a conference (one typo fixed):

Thanks for getting back to me.  

We were at the same table is all, and I have your business card.  

Your ideas intrigued me as I've been brainstorming a funding network based on people playing games (like in an arcade / casino) but with the winnings going to player-picked causes / charities and updating a profile.  Some if not all the money to play and pay out rewards may come from the sponsors and vendors the shop deals with.  Buy a donut, win a game, send a dollar to the World Wild Life Fund from the donut company.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Koski: Visiting Artist Series (continued)

From math-teach @ Math Forum:

Re: should students watch this video series?: Dimensions (originally in French)
Posted: Aug 27, 2014 1:53 PM

On Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM, kirby urner wrote:

Of course my answer is "yes", and I was just again watching it over pizza, no beer (this was my lunch break). The series is Made in France but was translated / dubbed into Brit English. Portland Cable TV, bless its little heart, broadcast the whole series and one of my neighbors ordered the DVD, which is why I got to rewatch some of it today on break:

Today on break I'm watching this video by my friend D. Koski, with whom I've collaborated a lot over the years, including on an in-person pilgrimage / visit to Magnus Wenninger, a grand-daddy of polyhedrons in our age.
Dave's stuff is solidly three dimensional yet still comes off as somewhat alien given he has adopted the Fuller School's unit of mensuration, the tetrahedron, and here compares the volume of an enneacontahedron inscribed in a rhombic triacontahedron ("NCLB Polyhedron") in turn compared with a sphere.

But his sphere's volume is (sqrt 2)(pi) instead of (4/3)(pi) for radius = 1. That's owing to our different interpretation of L^3 i.e. 3rd powering is a tetrahedron for us, when represented geometrically. You'll remember I've talked about "our branch" in the tree of living mathematics.

Also: getting into David's stuff more deeply requires making room for yet another meaning of '4D'.

Let me explain...

The Dimensions TV show cited above (it aired on Portland Cable Television) is what I might call Coxeter.4D in flavor, where I use a proper name as a "namespace" and use "dot notation" to show '4D' "belongs to" that namespace (GSC take note).

However, in some of the movie's narrative, we seem to bleed over into Einstein.4D wherein "time is the fourth dimension" with x, y, z for three "spatial" dimensions.

Coxeter himself is at pains to distinguish between these two meanings of 4D in his Regular Polytopes i.e. "the tesseract" and "the time machine" are two different animals, much as science fiction writers might want to conflate them in the popular imagination as a way to drive their plots.

These are two of the great schools of thought that survived the early 1900s "shake out" re 4D as a meme. Linda Dalrymple Henderson has written a finebook on this topic.

David's stuff comes from a third school (which Dr. Henderson also traces), less well known, that associates '4D' with the "four directions" of the regular tetrahedron, i.e. four points and four faces, carving space into four quadrants instead of the eight octants of the XYZ / Cartesian apparatus.

Lets call that Fuller.4D.

So we have three meanings of 4D to stay aware of, each anchored in a different namespace:

polytope R^N geometry as in Regular Polytopes and n-dimensional sphere packing ala Conway

Minkowski space, Relativity, three spatial dimensions, one of time

four directional tetrahedron as volume unit and model of 3rd powering

More reading on this topic of namespaces in mathematics:

OK, back to work.



For further reading:
Has GST been applied effectively to promulgate Fuller's work?
Action plans to spread the word about Synergetics (retrospective) 
Various flavors of GST...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visual Harmonies

:: by synergetics explorer david koski ::

Multiplying is often a scaling operation such as when edges or volumes are doubled in size.  Given an unchanging shape, meaning central and surface angles are held fixed, a doubling in edge lengths results in a two to the second power or four folding in area, and a two to the third power or eight folding in volume.

Starting with a cuboctahedron of edges root-of-two i.e. ~1.414214 and multiplying all those edges by phi (φ) results in a phi-to-the-third-power increase in volume.  The cuboctahedron's 24 surface edges and 12 radials (24 if seen as doubled) will now be root-of-two times phi. φ = half of one plus root of five or approximately:

>>> (1 + sqrt(5))/2

Finally, halving the difference in radial increase between these two, results in a third cuboctahedron that "harmonizes" with the icosahedron of edge-length-two.  The harmony consists in having both intersecting edges and coincident facial areas.

This "geography" of differently scaled versions of these polyhedrons has been variously mapped, including by R. Buckminster Fuller in his "explorations in the geometry of thinking" (or "synergetics" for short).  A "highway" between "places" may be a transformation, such as the Jitterbug Transformation, or, as above, a simple resizing.

SuperRT:                21.2132034
VE    (edge 2):         20.0000000
Icosa (edge 2):         18.5122959
SmallGuy:               15.8606454
RD6:                     6.0000000
RT5+:                    5.0077580
RT5:                     5.0000000 

SmallGuy will seem an idiosyncratic name, but then maps often contain folk names.  "SuperRT" is a rhombic triacontahedron scaled up by phi from its original size of 120 E-modules, a shape well-defined in Synergetics.  Said SuperRT embeds our Icosa of edges two as its long diagonals.  This same Icosa intersects and shares facial area with SmallGuy.

In sum SmallGuy, in this map, is a cuboctahedron "half way between" (edge-wise) the rt2-edge cuboctahedron and the phi-times-rt2-edge or say (rt2)(phi)/2 is the scale factor.  Starting with the same SmallGuy volume and multiplying by the sFactor * sFactor gets us the Icosa of edges 2 in volume, whereas one more application of the sFactor gets us the Cuboctahedron of volume 20, edges 2 (at the start of our Jitterbug Transformation).

Using some rational approximations in the Python shell:

>>> 15.8606454 * 1.0803630269509035 * 1.0803630269509035

>>> 18.512295822967804 * 1.0803630269509035

That's SmallGuy * sFactor * sFactor = Icosahedron (a volume expression)
Icosahedron * sFactor = Cuboctahedron (same edge lengths as Icosahedron)

Note that we're using tetravolumes as our standard (same as Synergetics).  Four unit radius spheres closest pack to define a tetrahedron of edges 2R (1D) and volume one.  The Icosahedron of volume ~18.51 and cuboctahedron of volume 20 both have edges of this same length (2R).

Another "harmonizing" to map is the edge-crossing of the rhombic dodecahedron of volume six, Kepler's favorite space-filler and a "voronoi cell" for our unit radius spheres, and the volume 7.5 rhombic triacontahedron, inflated (scaled) by a factor of 1.5 from it's T-module beginnings.

The T- and E-modules have a "same shape" relationship with the E a tad larger in size (T-volume is 1/24).  The sFactor, used above, is the ratio of the S-module to the E-module or about 0.045084/0.041731.  More output from a Python program:

Amod volume = : 0.04166666666666668
Bmod volume = : 0.041666666666666595
Emod volume = : 0.04173131692777366
Tmod volume = : 0.04166666666666668
Smod volume = : 0.045084971874737034
sFactor (Svol/Evol) =    1.0803630269509035

Saturday, July 5, 2014

More Fun with Phi

 :: Fun on July 4th by David Koski ::

Mario Livio, aka "phi guy" in my blogs, helped me catalyze this Philosophy Shop (network) some years ago.

Appropriately, we're still going strong with the Phi Stuff.

 :: Early Insights ::

:: The E-module ::

Thursday, June 5, 2014

vZome @ Work

Some of us were privileged enough as children to have Zome Tool, a construction kit for exploring geometric relationships.  David Koski is like a polyhedralist of old, playing not so much with Archimedean honeycomb duals as with phi-scaled versions of what Bucky Fuller called the T, E and S modules or SET.

He uses a tool called vZome by Scott Vorthmann, a virtual version of Zome Tool.  You can see for yourself that it has an elegant GUI and the Zome hubs may be rendered in almost photographic detail if need be.  Scott's faithfulness to the physical kit is astounding and yet with vZome one may build with greater fluency and fluidity in some dimensions.

Don't worry if you hear something that sounds off, as David ad libs and maybe transposes a number or two.  The visuals more than make up for any soundtrack glitches.  Take your time.  Background reading about the SET modules will help, if this all seems too alien (as in remote / esoteric).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

GI Coffeeshops Tour 2014

:: GI Coffeeshops Tour / PDX ::

Their bizmo was traveling from San Diego, CA to Everett, WA with many stops in between, to share with the public about the reality and sorrows of empire.

The movie Sir! No Sir! was mentioned a few times, to help orient a general audience as to where these folks were coming from.

I was a muted presence in a packed meetinghouse, bringing copies of the Wray Harris Authority & Expectation DVD to the three coffeeshop owner-representatives, courtesy of Recruiter Watch.

The coffeeshops are / were Coffee Strong outside Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, WA, Under the Hood in Killeen, Texas, and the The Clearing Barrel coffee bar in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Worthy Projects

Two worthy projects came to my attention at Multnomah Meeting today.

Ann Hyde gave me a copy of When a Peace Tree Blooms, a telling the story from the Japanese side, of being atom bombed.  Yet good relations are restored with the perpetrators, a representative of whom brings a gift of seeds that grow into beautiful and fruitful trees with healing powers.

I'll pass this book to Carol and the Disarmament Day (August 6) Committee.  More libraries and gift stores than ours might be interested in this slender tome, the story by Hideko Tamura Snider, and illustrations by Mari Kishi.

All profits will be donated to charities supporting the children of Fukushima. ISBN: 978-0-9894858-0-7.

Even as Ann was sharing about this project, Lew Scholl was setting up the projector for our invited speaker, Dana Iglesias, MD MPH.

This young yet already experienced family practice doctor has done stints in Haiti, Peru and Nigeria, as well as in the US in some hardship areas.  Her parents hail from Panama.  She grew up in New York and started her medical training in North Carolina.

After testing the waters and searching her soul, Dana feels ready to commit fully to the Egbe Hospital Revitalization Project.  Her participation is being organized by SIM.  She needs to fund her own way, about $50K a year which covers travel.  The positive multiplier effects have huge potential.

Dana is especially focused on mothers giving birth and pediatric care, though she practices the full gamut of cradle-to-grave medicine.  She is skilled at several kinds of surgery, such as delivery by C-section.  However she feels she makes an even bigger long term difference when able to help influence public health through improved infrastructure and education.

As of this writing, she was just getting started on her website.

I adjourned to a Peace and Social Concerns Committee after Dana's presentation, in my capacity as AFSC Liaison.  We'd had our meeting of the Area Program Committee since the last meeting and I was to report back.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Didactic Visualizations / Animations

I'm glad I caught the Tomi Ungerer bio, Far Out is not Far Out Enough.  Like me, he's a pioneer in the edgy cartoons area and sees andragogy as distinct from, yet inter-mixed with, pedagogy.  We have ratings for a reason.

What caught people off guard is he was spanning G (General Audience) to MA (Mature Audience) with the same aesthetic, unifying the levels in some sense.

Was that interference in childhood innocence?  The Puritans thought so.

My agenda is a little different:  to impart technical content but to not eschew the animated form, even the demented or unrated.

Take these excellent lectures by Sapolsky at Standford for example, and imagine the animated reveries that could go with them, ala this movie on Chomsky, or these well-known RSA lectures.

Or I think of the more Bakshi / MAD style in the Morton Downy documentary.

Having a "movie track" for a lecture adds value.   Using animations is not "dumbing it down" even where higher and lower math, and quantum physics is concerned.

In our coffee shops, I don't necessarily want to monopolize the audio track, though an ear buds "airplane seat" setup might be used.  You get the reveries disconnected from the anchoring lectures and maybe spliced together by enthusiasts.

That's OK, as our coffee shop is more trafficking in a "meme soup" than in any particular subject or discipline.  We're providing ambiance, an atmosphere conducive to study and / or daydreaming, but we're not necessarily directly competing with the Apollonian Academy.   We're complementary.