Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Brick Testament...

The Brick Testament...
Originally uploaded by Backroom Vern.
Whoa. One of the goals of this blog is to explore the interaction of Christian faith and media art forms. Well there you go, here's one. It's so surreal to see a crucifiction made out of these toys. Sometimes it's hard to tell if one man's unusual cultural expression of the gospel is another man's blasphemy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Left spouts off on two things the Bible supposedly is responsible for.

Brace yourselves. I just saw a testimony of what The Left actually thinks of the Bible, and it's straight from an editorial signed by "THE EDITORS" of The Nation. It was in a eulogy to William Sloane Coffin, Jr., in the May 8, 2006 edition of the rag. Coffin was involved in many causes, from opposition to Vietnam to the nuclear freeze movement to civil rights.

The eulogy ends with a discussion of who might replace Rev. Coffin in the peace movement:

Bill Coffin is, of course, irreplaceable, but he left some advice to successors. Writing in The Nation, he spoke of the "two great biblical mandates: to pursue justice and to seek peace."

Now when it comes to issues where The Left disagrees with the Religious Right, we're supposed to believe that The Left first and foremost hates God and the Bible, and then therefore attacks those who seek to follow His will. I remember an adult Sunday School teacher flatly informing me, "The media hates God."

But now we here have a testimony from The Left that the Bible's main commands are love and decency and compassion. I just don't get it.

Aside from that, from my Lutheran background, there are at least three flavors of Christians:
  • liberal Protestants, who have stripped Christianity of all its spiritual and eternal content and turned it into something about temporal ethics,
  • Theologians of Glory, who have turned the Gospel into another law requiring striving after salvation, rather than God's unconditional gift,
  • and Theologians of the Cross, who at least get the idea of grace correct.
Now I don't know a whole lot about Coffin's theology. I honestly fear he's more liberal Protestant or maybe Glory than Cross, and if so I won't count myself as a disciple the way I might for Bonhoeffer or Romero. But I now want to read more of his stuff.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Test post for animated gif, (sorry, AGAIN).

Ha. So one is no longer able to upload animated gifs to google's blogger service.

But one CAN upload animated gif's to google's googlepages service and then link to the images from blogger.

Or so it seems.

Will have to test on another PC to make sure I've interpreted what I just did correctly.

Cleaning Trout

Friday, April 21, 2006

And then I tried....

edubuntu-6.06-beta-live-i386. It did the wireless thingy so well I was able to post this.

A few hours ago, I posted about how I was unable to get a live CD to work well with this klunky PC I have. Now I've found two.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Playing with spheres...

... while testing povray in Mediainlinux, my new favorite live linux CD.

Povray source code here:
//#include ""
global_settings{max_trace_level 20}
#declare n=0;
#declare a=0.20+n*0.10;
sphere{z*2,0.75+0.015*n pigment{bozo
[a rgbft 1]
[a rgb 0.8]}
scale 0.06} finish{ambient .10} }
#declare n=n+1;
light_source{<0,1000,-340> color rgb 0.55}
light_source{<1000,-50,-340> color red .05}
light_source{<-2100,-150,-100> color blue .05}

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The sufficiency of "The Passion"

I was watching a version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on tape. It was a very cutesy-fied, cartoon version of the story ("Not that there's anything wrong with that!"). My five-year-old son was in and out of the room, mainly protesting that Thomas the Tank Engine wasn't being played on the tube. He eventually started paying attention to the story.

When the story got to the point where Aslan the Lion is executed on the Stone Table, my son became distressed. "How can you stand to watch this, Daddy???" he protested. Even in a fairy-tale analogy, with cute cartoons, the Passion of Our Lord still is maddeningly disturbing.

Somewhere over the past year or so, I've picked up a DVD version of Mel Gibson's drama, The Passion. I haven't yet cracked the plastic on the box. I've heard all sorts of reaction to Mel's work. The strongest reason against rushing to watch the tape is the sufficiency of the horrors of the Narnian fairy tale.

"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" John 6:54-65

Sunday, April 09, 2006

new character

new character
Originally uploaded by pterandon.
Whoa, I'm so impressed with the singlemindedness expression on this character. I was thinking of making it the new bad guy. But The good guys I was making (see right) are so baby-faced as to just melt and lose all conflicts. Tough decision.

Search-Engine-Style Justice

ITEM: A year or so ago, my wife had dediced to get a Yahoo! email account. After telling all her friends about her new account, it abruptly got deleted by the company. The error messages she got when she tried to log in suggested that she may have fallen into a group of guilty parties who included those doing illegal things, racially offensive stuff, or spamming. We went through the automated process of trying to appeal but got no acknowledgement of the appeal. I'm guessing that, even though we weren't spammers, we did something that spammers often do, maybe in the kind of email address we used as backup for the service. We'll really never know. Some kid at Yahoo! wrote the algorithm, a few accounts got deleted, and he or she got pats on the back for it.

ITEM: I have another blog where I have been posting links to other folk's ocean shoreline photography at It's perfectly legal, as per the rules of flickr and blogger. But some kid at blogger came up with an algorithm to catch "spam-bloggers," i.e., folks who were filling up the blogspace with unedifying advertisements in the form of blogs. My blog got caught up in the dragnet. I was posting lots of really neat pictures of shorelines, with simple if not vapid comments about each one. Check out the site yourself if you want. Apparently, I was doing something similar to what spam-bloggers do. Off went my head. It took over a week and two emails to get it resolved.

I wasn't too bothered until I saw blogger's blog getting a little too triumphant over their action. They mention how they are taking actions to prevent further false positives.

It gives me some pause to think about how the Big Two internet companies are so willing to implement a "shoot first, answer emails a week later" policy to catch bad guys. As we commit more and more of our daily life to the internet, is this becoming increasingly dangerous? Our medical plan is sending us email acknowledgements of prescriptions filled by mail order. What if the request were to be made by email, and we lost our account because we were caught up in the dragnet of some kid's presumptuous data mining at gmail or Yahoo! mail??

This whole experience gives me renewed appreciation for the victims of racial profiling. (Not that as a white male, I haven't experienced mutiple cases of being judged on the basis of my physical appearance, at least twice with threats of physical violence on account of the judging.) Your car gets stopped, your email account gets deleted, your hospital gets shut down, your city gets bombed, your father ends up in Abu Ghraib, all because someone did some bad guy did or looked or was standing somewhere similar to what you were doing.

He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
Genesis 18:31

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Yet another

Don't mind us, just passin' thru....

'nuther GIF animation test.

A month or so ago, I was able to upload a GIF animation with no prob. Recently, I tried it again and blogger insisted on converting it to a jpg. Let's see what happens with this one.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Shameless Commercial Plug, my life's artistic work

This is a collage of 1600 pieces of work I've done in povray. It is literally everything with a filename starting with the letters "a" through "s", made with the past six years, and is still povray 3.5-syntax-compatible.

Larger image avaible at zazzle.

Stupidest thing I ever did to a computer-- Don't try this at home!

This morning I wanted to see how a series of renderings was progressing. I'm trying to render a few thousand povray scene files that I had written over the years. It's probably going to take some 48 hours to complete.

I was walking to the computer room, taking off a sweater. I could hear the static electricity as I took it off. I thought to myself, "Hmmm. I've got a huge buildup of static electricity, and I had better not go operate the computer until I have had a chance to discharge it." As I'm walking along, the backside of the PC, its metal case comes into view. I thought, "Hmm, I know the frame is usually grounded, so I'll discharge it by touching the frame." I have to walk around the table to get to the chair and the keyboard. By the time I look at the monitor, GRUB is loading.

It must have been that the discharge to the frame immediately rebooted the computer. Fortunately, I haven't lost any files, but interrupting this huge render will be an accounting headache to move files around so that I don't have to start over from the beginning.

Don't try this at home.

Monday, April 03, 2006

To act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ

A quote:
"Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women every year than the next five causes of death combined, according to the American Heart Association."

Source: "Women of the ELCA Board Endorses HEART Legislation, Accepts MIF Challenge" ELCA NEWS SERVICE

Consider this hypotethical response. There's a crowded restaurant in a state that hasn't banned public smoking. Members of a club or association in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America go through the restaurant. They see a man chain-smoking in front of his non-smoking, coughing wife. They hand him a tract. The tract says something which indicts his behavior as being part of that stuff that C.S. Lewis wrote about,
"You may want Him [God] to make an exception in your own case, to let you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behaviour, then He cannot be good. On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. That is the terrible fix we are in."

Source: C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Then the tract offers a solution to this "terrible fix": the Cross. The tract advocates neither a 12-step program for smokers nor an interfaith press conference to call for legislation. The approach would be completely absent of cynicism for these things, even as it would not have these as the focus-- it wouldn't mention them.

Such a path for social action could lead to some controversy. Neocons would accuse your troupe of "playing the Bible card." Neocons would accuse you of "junk science" because you pointed to something evident from reading the headlines of the medical literature, and for your flouting the scholarly-sounding obfuscation of all the libertarian think tanks out there. Liberal Christians and your interfaith partners would scold you for pointing nonbelievers to the Cross. Such a path may engender harsh words from those you witness to; it may engender beatings, mad riots, imprisonments, shipwrecks, floggings, etc.

Given that there are other causes to women's heart disease, I suppose you could wander the same restaurant and lecture obese people on eating fatty food, but I find it harder to have as much outrage at victimless crimes.

This "women's organization is rooted in the women's missionary societies of the 19th century", according to the ELCA News Service press release. In this light, consider that their response to this problem above is:
ITASCA, Ill. (ELCA) -- Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women every year than the next five causes of death combined, according to the American Heart Association.

Though more women than men die of the disease, most cardiovascular studies are conducted on men.

Because of such facts, Women of the ELCA's executive board, at its March 23-26 meeting near Chicago, voted unanimously to endorse new federal legislation aimed at fighting heart disease in women. It also authorized Women of the ELCA to write the bill's backers and request co-sponsorship.

"By endorsing the Heart Disease Education, Analysis and Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act and becoming a co- sponsor of this bipartisan legislation, the executive board is taking the women's health initiative into a new arena," said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director, Women of the ELCA.

Rallying around the HEART for Women Act is a way to highlight the Women of the ELCA's new health initiative, Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls, Bushkofsky said.

"Staff looks forward to developing a plan to support this groundbreaking legislation throughout the U.S.," she said. "This is a living and breathing example of mobilizing women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ."

I find this vapid and fatuous. I am strongly in favor of the church getting involved in social issues, yea, even coming down on the liberal side of them, because I believe that the liberal side more often ultimately boils down to calling folks to repentance of greed, trickery, exploitation, and brutality. And the conservative side starts off by advocating the "self-correcting" actions of the "invisible hand" over those of the state-- not too bad a thing-- but too often end up poo-pooing and mockery of these problems that cause blood to flow from the cross.

I just believe that the church has a higher calling here than to ask for a few extra dollars to be tacked onto the deficit for benevolent purposes.

Huge GIF animation

This GIF image represents the creative process for turning "The Man from M.I.M.E." into "Lunchina". I started with one character created with blobs in povray and turned it into another. The system I have developed in povray is pretty slick for doing a few things, but character generation from scratch is pretty hard.

okaaaaay, this is not an animated GIF, but a jpg. Will fix.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

What mysterious things are these guys up to?

Cannot tell yet. Image too small.

A friend in my local LUG showed me how to do some massive batch renders with povray in linux.

Over the years, I had collected more than 5000 povray scene files. Most of them are steps in the iterative improvements in a project. Everytime I'd make a major fix to the development of a topic, I would stop and save it with a new scene filename. Over the years, going back to these files has been a gold mine of ideas. Sometimes the half-ineptly constructed characters were of great value in coming up with new ones.

Anyway, I'm currently attempting a batch render of some 5200 files (perhaps half are support "includes" for the others). But the cool thing with this linux set up is that I'm doing a bash session, so I don't need to decipher each file before I render it-- just attempt to render every frigging thing in the directory. Once I'm finished, I'll go back and collect the best ones, the ones I had forgotten I'd ever attempted.

More adventures to come.