Sunday, October 29, 2006

I studied this rock in some detail while I sat eating my lunch on a warm sunny Saturday. It was interesting, it drew my interest, even with the great views of Mount Rainier in front of me, as well as Mount Adams, Mount St Helens, Mount Hood in the far distance, and Glacier Peak.

I studied this rock in some detail while I sat eating my lunch on a warm sunny Saturday. It was interesting, it drew my interest, even with the great views of Mount Rainier in front of me, as well as Mount Adams, Mount St Helens, Mount Hood in the far distance, and Glacier Peak. I liked the cairn on top and the color.

Then I noticed it was covered with ladybugs, a surprising discovery on a late fall day. The more I looked, the more I found. I was surprised, you can see that it is cold up here at 6600 feet, notice the patch of snow on the right. (based on the heavy rain in Seattle the nextday, I am sure that this area is covered in snow.

Finally, it had an interesting variety of lichens.

So, finding an interesting rock is the reason why I like to get up early and go into the mountains.

i102806 058

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thoughts on "A Hand Up Doesn't Always Require a Handout" by Muhammad Yunus
(In Wall Street Journal 14 October 2006)

Microfinance, providing small loans to people in need, is clearly a better path than providing a handout. As Mr. Yunus suggests:

"... giving someone a hand up doesn't always require a handout. The most important thing is to help people get back to work while letting them hold on to their self-respect. Microloans can do just that."

I absolutely agree with this concept, it is a way for people to retain (or get back) their self-esteem while improving their lifestyle. If I ever get involved in establishing a foundation (which I would like to do someday), the concept that the Grameen bank espouses is one that makes sense to me.

One other excerpt:

"Microfinance is one of the biggest success stories of the developing world, and proponents like me believe it could be just as successful in helping the poor in wealthy countries such as the U.S. The basic philosophy behind microfinance is that the poor, although spurned by traditional banks because they can't provide collateral, are actually a great investment: No one works harder than someone who is striving to achieve life's basic necessities, particularly a woman with children to support. Sadly, it is also true that in catastrophic circumstances, very little of the cash so generously given ever gets all the way down to the very poor. There are too many "professionals" ahead of them in line, highly skilled at diverting funds into their own pockets. This is particularly regrettable because very poor people need only a little money to set up a business that can make a dramatic difference in the quality of their lives."

URL for this article:

and here is a link on info about the Grameen Bank

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Monday, October 09, 2006

This was one of my favorite paintings from when we visited the Huntington Library on 14 September 2006. Here is the explanation from the painting at Huntington Library, with some added hyperlinks

Mary Cassatt 1844-1926

Breakfast in Bed ca. 1894

Gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation

Mary Cassatt became one of the first American women to achieve international recognition as an artist. Born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, she spent most of her life in France. There she became part of a group of artists lnown as the Impressionists , who pioneered the technique of using small brush strokes of unmixed color to capture the effects of light. They also tooks elements of daily life as their subject, rather than historical or mythological scenes.

Beginning in the 1880s, Cassatt depicted the subject which absorbed her for the rest of her career: the mother and child. She often dealt with tension between a mother's focused attention on a chaild and a child's desire to explore the world. In Breakfast in Bed the mother gazes at the child wrapped in her arms, while the child gazes out in to the room. By focusing closely on the figures, Cassatt draws the viewer into the intimate scene.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Words I couldn't resist copying

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.—Pink Floyd


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Notes on Science in the twentieth century: a social-intellectual survey
Goldman, Steven L., 1941-
[sound recording]

Lecture 1. The evolution of 20th-Century science --
Lecture 2. Redefining reality --
Lecture 3. Quantum theory makes its appearance --
Lecture 4. The heroic "old" age of quantum theory --
Lecture 5. A newer theory-QED --
Lecture 6. QED meets fission and fusion --
Lecture 7. Learning by smashing --
Lecture 8. What good is QED? --
Lecture 9. The newest theory-quantum chromodynamics --
Lecture 10. Unifying nature --
Lecture 11. Chemists become designers --
Lecture 12. Mathematics and truth --
Lecture 13. Mathematics and reality --
Lecture 14. The universe expands --
Lecture 15. What is the universe? --
Lecture 16. How do we know what's out there? --
Lecture 17. From equilibrium to dynamism --
Lecture 18. Subterranean fury --
Lecture 19. Solar system citizen --
Lecture 20. Science organized, adopted, co-opted --
Lecture 21. Techno-science and globalization --
Lecture 22. The evolution of evolution --
Lecture 23. Human evolution --
Lecture 24. Genetics-from Mendel to molecules --
Lecture 25. Molecular biology --
Lecture 26. Molecular medicine --
Lecture 27. Culture-anthropology and archaeology --
Lecture 28. Culture-history --
Lecture 29. Culture-linguistics --
Lecture 30. Society-sociology --
Lecture 31. Society-political science --
Lecture 32. Society-economics --
Lecture 33. Mind-classical and behavioral psychology --
Lecture 34. Mind-cybernetics, AI, connectionism --
Lecture 35. Looking back --
Lecture 36. Looking around and looking ahead.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

My notes from A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram

2 October 2006

"Throughout the book my primary concern is with basic science and fundamental issues. But building on the foundations in the book there are a vast array of applications - both conceptual and practical - that can now be developed.

No doubt some will come quickly. But most will take decades to emerge. Yet in time I expect the ideas in this books will come to pervade not only science and technology but also many areas of general thinking." (p. xi)

I hope that I can come up with some small applications using this book.
Wolfram had many collaborators from many facets of science... a very complex list.
Would be worth examining the connections in this network sometime.

Chapter 1 The Foundations for A New Kind of Science
"I did what is in a sense one of the most elementary imaginable computer experiments: I took a sequnce of simple programs and then systematically ran them to see how they behaved. And what I found - to my great surprise - was that despite the simplicity of their rules, the behavior of the program was often far from simple. Indeed, even some of the very simplest programs that I looked at had behavior that was as complex as anything I had ever seen." (p. 2)

This reminds me of my own fascination on programming the rules for John Conway's Game of Life for the first time.

"... what secret is it that allows nature seemingly so effortlessly to produce so much to us that appears to us so complex." (p. 2)

" But how these componenets act together to produce even some of the most obvious features of the overall behavior we see has in the past remained an almost complete mystery." (p. 3)

The thought here is similar to what I have heard Leroy Hood talk about regarding systems biology.

"But on the basis if many discoveries I have been led to a still more sweeping conclusion, summarized in what I call the Principle of Computational Equivalence: that whenveer one sees behaviorthat is not obviously simple - in esssentially any system - it can be thought of as corresponding to a computation of equivalent sophistication." (p. 5)

"... for across a vast range of systems, from simple programs to brains to our whole universe, the principle implies that there is a basic equivalence that makes the same fundamental phenomena occur, and allows the same basic scientific ideas and methods to be used." (p. 6-7)

Chapter 2 Crucial Experiment

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Christopher Alexander Books
Originally uploaded by brewbooks.
Christopher Alexander has written (another) interesting series of books on architecture and design. I came across these in my fine local bookstore, Third Place Books of Lake Forest Park, Washington, USA. I could not help laying them out in an array.

I have just started Stephen Wolframs "A New Kind of Science". These books by Alexander seem a very good complement.

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