Monday, July 24, 2017

Does Your School Have a Charter?


[first posted to Forum 206]

I just waded through a few Youtubes on the charter versus non-charter school debate.

There's a sloppiness to it all in that everyone starts by saying charter schools are public schools and then a sentence later it's back to "public versus charter". Silly right?

The mainstream discourse seems to have settled on "traditional versus charter schools" or "district versus charter schools".

What an amazingly narrow and ill-fitting vocabulary, is my thought.

https://youtu.be/vhubtPygTcA
Charter Schools Are Overrated, IntelligenceSquared Debates

was interesting, a hosted debate between two teams, an ongoing show that seems to think "IQ" is something real and therefore square-able.[1]

What many debaters miss, in my view, is the passion some have, in every generation, to create new schools, not just join existing schools. Any healthy society has its pioneers and reformists.

We should accept that as a built in feature of human nature, and so the debate should begin with that premise: that the public sector, however designed, needs to facilitate (not stifle) turnover at the institutional level, meaning public schools, charter or no charter, will continue to come and go.

Speaking of schools going, I think it's more than obvious we need to physically close a lot of schools that are simply beyond repair [2]. Trying to coast on clearly broken buildings, full of lead or whatever, is just lazy, the opposite of innovation, and proof we have little imagination.

I'm one who thinks a central government (of any nation), if there's one in the picture, should have the where with all to create its own flagship schools. These could be boarding schools for future diplomats, deliberately open to students from other countries. We might also see more experiments with same-sex schooling, for those wishing that option (choice). Let NASA do more than just summer camps, NSA too for that matter.

But then I'm one who thinks any government worth its salt should run a number of showcase institutions designed to provide work to a nation's citizens, including roadside lodging (motels), an airline, maybe a rental car company.[3]

What better way to stay in touch with the people than to run and manage some example enterprises.

Something other than war machines (and a few camp grounds), which is currently the main endeavor for which the weakest governments (e.g. the US) are allowed a sandbox (the war machine includes government labs such as Sandia and Los Alamos -- not much research on how to help with refugee camps -- just on how to create them in the first place i.e. by turning cities to rubble, per the 1900s, a century of barbarism).

Governments are permitted / coerced into serving as clients to a weapons-oriented private sector (Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin...). That's their major role (subsidizing the most sociopathic). Greece, broke, buys submarines from Siemens. [4]

How we tax and spend today is income redistribution, like they say, from the defenseless and over-taxed to oligarchs with off-shore investments (Russian or otherwise, what does it matter at that level?).

A truly American run boarding school might even teach some of the heritage I'm most interested in, namely this "geometry of lumps" I keep talking about (Karl Menger et al) wherein we experiment with axioms other than those inherited from ancient Greek metaphysics.

http://coffeeshopsnet.blogspot.com/2009/03/res-extensa.html

The way things are going, with Uncle Sam broke, and more a hired gun than anyone's idea of an emperor, I don't think it's a given that these dreams will pan out. We appear to have drifted into oligarchy and plutocracy with democracies fading. The politicians have the job of telling us something different i.e. they comfort us with their fairy tales.

Kirby

[1] (dig way back in the math-teach archives if you can figure out how, takes IQ, and you'll see we discussed the "g factor" for like forever that time).

[2] Beyond repair... or not (in some cases):
http://prospect.org/article/fixing-our-infrastructure-how-about-schools

[3]

Spain has a chain of state-run luxury hotels:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parador
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Government-owned_companies_of_the_United_States

[4]

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.801881
(similar to the scandal in Greece)

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/world/europe/so-many-bribes-a-greek-official-cant-recall-all.html

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Ban Treaty


Per Carol Urner's presentation to Wanderers at the Linus Pauling House, the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty has passed the General Assembly, by a wide margin, as expected.

The loser nations know the ban need not apply to them. Why? Because they have nuclear weapons and no one tells Nuke Head Nations what to do.

Nevertheless, we patriots who care about reputation have some cause for celebration this July 4th, and Tillamook butterscotch ice cream is being consumed in the Urner household.  The draft was actually adopted on the 7th, but we knew it was a done deal so were already waving the flag.

Good job Iran in helping to steer the process.  DC's mythology desperately requires Iran to be desperately seeking nuclear weapons.  Here's another nail in that narrative's coffin.  No one I know expects DC (not a US state) to ever reform its thinking. We expect it to remain a backwater.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Rajneeshpuram (movie review)

Rajneeshpuram was an attempt to found a new town in Oregon, in land zoned for farming.  Oregon has some strictly enforced land use laws.  That said township was so religious, and not Christian, didn't help.  Not that Rajneesh professed a religion exactly.  For years he wisely kept his mouth shut, went for a ride, then he gradually took control back, wresting more steering power to a point where Madam Sheila felt obliged to get away.

The folks of Antelope went to heroic lengths to not lose their cool, and played with Oregon State by the only rule book they could think to follow:  Oregon's.  That starting a Puram in the heart of Oregon by aggressive tactics ends up backfiring is hardly a surprise in retrospect.

I borrowed this OPB Oregon Experience episode from the Multnomah County Library system and today will return it, along with some books on CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and another on SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics, another front end Web technology).

A man who fascinates me even more than the Baghwan here, is/was Father Divine, the short African American king of His jungle, as a God in his own way.  Lavish feasts were provided by the disciples, the fans, and the gatherings were by many accounts convivial and of "melting pot" ethnicity (an all-kinds stew), and all back when MLK was still a young man.

My overlap with the Father Divine community was when I scored a job teaching high school at St. Dom's (Catholic), exactly what I'd been looking for, within walking distance. The circumstances of my hiring were tragic in that Sisters had died in a car crash.  My willingness to dive in under those circumstances was appreciated.

An old Father Divine hotel was just kitty corner and offered a good breakfast served by Sister Grace.  I studied the literature and grew intrigued.  Other faculty would join me from time to time, or go there on their own.  Why not?  Great place.

Maureen (Methodist) and I got to talking on the phone through some of this film, which I screened while folding laundry, pacing about.  But then I've been through the story before, in other media.  I never got to visit said Puram myself, even though I'd returned to Oregon in 1985, having left in the 1960s at the end of 2nd grade (my 3rd grade would be first forum in the Junior English School of Rome).

As someone with a long term interest in student exchange programs, organizing opportunities for faraway urban kids to experience some ranch living, I'm sensitive to locals not wanting to feel invaded.  Our placements will have advance training in sensitivity to community values.

In terms of setting up campuses, the ecovillages (picture boarding schools), I'm interested in what Props has to offer, thinking lower barriers to entry (to year around camping and village building) has everything to do with technology, from transportation networks to radio stations and runways (landing pads or whatever).

I'd like to see more train re-development, for the express purpose of bringing students in to their remote bases, which may not stay put for long in some cases.  Exploring ecosystems means leaving them as they were by default.  However, where railways are concerned, we're talking about a longer term commitment.  Railway work is maybe for college credit, trucking too. That's how it works in the Global U.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Catching Up

We've been over the mountain (Mt. Hood), my two daughters and I.  Alexia went earlier in her dad's late mom's Buick.  Sam, Tara's uncle, was in hospice, at Partners in Care in Bend, Oregon.

Last night, back in Portland, we visited Atlas Pizza, Tara and I, Patrick joining us.  Patrick has been contracted to dig down into command line Python minus any IDE.  A paying client likes it that way. He's using Wing's debugger in another class, a habit I'm likewise gradually acquiring.

I've completed a first Arduino course, a Coursera MOOC, and now I'm wading more deeply into that world of programmable circuits.  Tonight I'm teaching Python to adults, and next week to kids as well.  Mark me as firmly planted in tech.

However, American Literature (we might call it that) is on my mind, and I wonder about standards.  How much are able to build immune systems, as we might call them, if following a more German philosophy of bubbles, globes, foams.  To what extent will we stay prey, to "false news" in whatever guises?

Judy and I visited the funeral director while Alexia and Tara went on ahead. They ended up test driving a Ford Fiesta in Madras.  No memorial service has been scheduled yet; a way will open. This journey has been a part of it.  Remembering Sam is a new theme now, one I'll treasure.

Carol has done her share of road trips recently, both east and west, and flew the Blue House solo while we were gone.  Temperatures soared to record highs this weekend.  We're glad for the break in the heat wave, with overcast skies, now coasting in the seventies (Fahrenheit).

I've been showing Tara the latest PR around C6XTY, including my 4D logo in the mix, next to the link to Synchronofile.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Building Fractions

The code below shows a way of teaching operator overloading in Python.

Even though the standard library includes a Fraction type, it can't hurt to recreate it in a lesson, drawing on our knowledge of how fractions should behave.

Notice the embedded _gcd() method employs Euclid's Method to reduce fractions to lowest terms on initialization.  Since multiply and add operations, and their inverses, all end up creating new Q type instances (fractions), no attempt at reducing is made until then.

Hit the Run button to run the script.  Output appears at the bottom.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Circuit Rider

Uncle Lightfoot

Bill Lightfoot in 2010

At age 92, my uncle (dad's mom's sister's son) Bill Lightfoot has the baud rate to negotiate Amtrak on his own.  He escapes his comfy quarters in Seattle to be with his grand nephew.  He's eager for pictures of Jack, my dad.  They weren't much together after their chance meetup in Alaska, in the summer of 1947 I think it was.

Jack studied International Relations in DC, then went into regional planning under Dick Meier at the University of Chicago. After a strong on ramp performance, stateside, practicing planning in Portland, he went to nation-state scale, where you're looking at zoning and freeways, big picture infrastructure, less at individual housing or office complexes.  The latter is architecture and city planning, and more detailed.

I brought along some C6XTY as I'm timing myself to build a tetrahedron with four of them.  By "them" I mean soccer ball looking things, each assembled from six identical plastic parts, hence the name. The hexapent C60 is a meme, and a chemical (a carbon allotrope, a family of cages, then come the tubes and of course graphene, full circle, graphite, diamond and plain old soot -- carbon powder -- being the earlier discoveries).

Carol was also routing through downtown this same afternoon, and it worked to drop her at 10th and Taylor, park in a garage, observe some Flag Day childrens performance (a traveling troupe), then retrieve the car and head to Union Station, where the Coast Starlight has just arrived.  Bill and I headed over to Ringlers, where we enjoyed the usual great food and service (I'm a loyal customer). Thank you Bill, for making these forays.  I'll get you some more pictures, of dad.

This was the "short format" visit where we cut it pretty close.  The Coast Starlight is often late, getting here from California, but today was right on time.  I had Bill back at the station with only minutes to spare, whereas on another occasion we waited some hours.

On his previous visit he did "long format", coming a train earlier and leaving a train later.  That gave us time for Pittock Mansion, Kell's for lunch, visiting with Carol at Bagdad out my way, with time to spare getting back.  That was pretty exhausting though, for a ninety-two year old.  Did we get many pictures of Bill with his Aztecs (those were cars many considered rather funny looking, Bill loved 'em)?

Howard and Wilma came with Bill on one of these outings.  Bill and Barbara Hancock on another.  Amtrak:  keeping families together.  Bill wore his Northern Pacific hat.

Monday, June 12, 2017

OR Welcomes PR


Some will say it's a bit preemptive for a former territory, Oregon, to welcome Puerto Rico to the Union, as 51st state.

After some hundred years, I'm glad we have that sorted out.

Welcome.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Fundraising Dinner


Carol (mom) and I are about to drive across the river, against traffic (meaning with a faster trip time), for a dinner with Physicians for Social Responsibility.  As a veteran WILPFer, she's worked with the Oregon PSR rather closely, most especially on the Hiroshima - Nagasaki commemoration event, a time to pledge never again to indulge in nuclear war.

Since WW2, the planet has endured several nuclear catastrophes, beginning with so-called "testing", which irreparably harmed the ecosystem, followed by nuclear meltdowns. The meltdown in Chernobyl was such that brave and selfless human intervention was possible.

A tunnel was dug in record time to intercept the melting mass before it reached the water table.  In the case of Fukushima, human bravery is irrelevant and the Pacific Ocean is becoming increasingly contaminated, and by extension the planet.

The responsible jobs, going forward, have to do with cleanup and disaster mitigation. Humans floating around on military ships, threatening each other, saber rattling, is a lot of toy story nonsense wherein humans refuse to grow out of their kindergarten stage.

We'll have to leave them to play those war games, as they insist, and have the weapons to stop us from stopping them, but we don't have to treat them as mature adults.

I think a lot of the slowness to respond is about theater (the T in PATH).  People used to think Kings (a few Queens) had divine powers. Even when that illusion exploded, politicians managed to keep up an illusion of being in control.

That these people actually do any real work is becoming less apparent.  But then "work" in its physics meaning simply means "to expend energy" which we all do, of necessity, just to breath.  Any meaning beyond that tends to be tinged by moralizing, with Protestants (Christians known for their protesting attitude) among the first to chime in.

I need a haircut.  My gray hair is bushy and I'm wearing a maroon turtle neck with not such fancy pants. I'm in the ballpark of "frumpy academic" I suppose, though I'm closer to a Quaker crime boss (it's considered traitorous to laugh at politicians is it not?).  I've been posting to Forum 206 quite a bit. Does that make me a math teacher?

Sam Lanahan was by today with a truck load of C6XTY.  I'll be able to organize workflows for kids, having them construct soccer ball looking things from six curved pieces held together with eight screws. Then come the arms, suitable for interconnecting them in a lattice.

What's all this for?  Do you know what the isotropic vector matrix (IVM) is?  Octet truss?  CCP?  FCC (no not the government acronym).  Maybe we're just sharing some memes at first, basic STEM.

It'll be awhile longer before humanity grows up.  We're a work in progress.

Some of us don't think we need to learn about hard stuff, like science and math, as long as we have our politician parents to take care of us.  They'll protect us from the laws of physics, right?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wanderers 2017.5.30

A Peter Bechtold Briefing

I spent some of the morning listening to the Seymour Hersh telling of the Zero Dark Thirty story, based on actual events. Prying apart fiction from non-fiction is not always as easy as some pretend.  He provides missing puzzle pieces.

My sense of not needing to pry these apart at every turn, carried me into Peter Bechtold's talk, giving the history of Syria, the heartland of the Holy Land, as they called it in President Wilson's day.

Sure, Wilson sounds racist by today's standards but that doesn't make him a complete idiot. Peter sees Wilson relegated to the sidelines as French and British create their own narrative around what happened in the Middle East, subsequent to the end of the Ottoman Era.

The kinds of maps Peter showed of Syria, showing patchworks by micro-climate, language, religion (ethnicity) could be used with North America as well. However as Peter restated several times, these were static snapshots from an earlier time.  Much has transpired.

Given we're in Portland, how the District of Columbia sees the world remains influential.  Peter knows a lot of people and has great respect for many of them.  He's no fan of the New American Century PR or what the neocons have accomplished, using perhaps dated terminology.  Richard Perle and like that.

Dr. Bechtold volunteered that he had no inside information on events in Idlib, site of the chemical attack in early April, 2017.  The relevant international bodies have not confirmed the Assad government still has any chemical weapons, nor was there clear motivation to use them.  I share his skepticism.

Anyway, Wilson probably had the right idea, about providing peoples in the region with more apparatus for self determination.  The arbitrary boundaries and agreements made by English and French social engineers have not withstood the test of time.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Control Room


Coding with Kids

See the Pen Sine Wave Experiment by Kirby Urner (@pdx4d) on CodePen.