Monday, October 30, 2006

Gratiutious post of someone else's comic

It's called tooncasting!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Modest Propsal for Spam.

Here's my idea for fighting spam emails. It is ultimately a banking regulation, not an internet protocol regulation. My hunch is that the credit card companies and the online payment services (PayPal, etc.) are as much a part of the crime culture here as are the hackers operating the spam houses themselves. The electronic transaction companies have got to be profiting from the business behind spam as are the vieaggra pushers themselves. Here's how it goes:

FBI agents would set up email addresses and go about a "normal" life of interacting in the internet using that email address. As this email address gets about, spammers would inevitably get ahold of the address and start sending spam solicitations to it.

Here's the trick. The agents would then be authorized to attempt to purchase items from the website using whatever electronic payment method that the spamming business offered. If the transaction goes through, then instead of a $X charge against the purchaser's account, there would instead be a $100 fine automatically charged against the account of the spammer. Any items actually delivered become state's evidence for any court cases that may arise. If it's just a URL, then the agent goes to the site and orders anything at will off the site.

Here's the net: a condition of doing business in the United States in the realm of any electronic payments is that you have to agree to cooperate with such a penalty system. In this scenario, spammers who take checks would be left alone.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

U.S. Iraq Troops Redeployed to New Orleans

Of course it never happened. This music video by U2 shows a fictitious footage of US airships "invading" New Orleans right after the floods from Hurricane Katrina. The troops dispense aid and airlift citizens out. The emotional response of this video is just overwhelming. It's funny how it gives me a pride in America and its military, even as the video rubs in our face the fact that this is not what really happened. Watch and weep.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dawkins & Harris: correct moral analysis but an unscholarly sociology & exegesis

I agree with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. In terms of their observation that many who wear their biblical literalism on their sleeves turn around and advocate some really ugly things. I heard Sam Harris on a podcast recently where he complained about "maniacs" who not only knew Karl Rove's phone number but also got weekly updates from him. He was of course talking about a certain set of evangelical Christians who have high ranking influence with the Republican leadership in Washington.

In a recent Boing Boing posting, Harris is quoted:
"It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver-lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen: the return of Christ."
The same article quotes Richard Dawkins' analysis of the same folks:
"The political ascendancy today values embryonic cells over adult people. It obsesses about gay marriage, ahead of genuinely important issues that actually make a difference to the world."
Now in this blog I've ranted as much at the Religious Right as these two guys have. I agree that much of the Right's agenda is a celebration of brutality and greed and exploitation, something that any decent-hearted person would rightly rise against.

But does a belief in an actual and literal Second Coming (there are many flavors of this belief) necessarily require a delight in nuclear holocausts? I don't think one necessarily flows from the other.

The problem is that these two dudes engage in as much sloppy scholarship as the Religious Right. Not only in ignoring that there are a variety of traditions in approaching to the constituitive texts in Christianity (sloppy scholarship in sociology) but also in claiming that the higher view, the more literal reading of these texts requires jumping on the brutality & exploitation bandwagon (sloppy scholarship in exegesis). My reading doesn't take me to where Dawkins & Harris go. And I cannot help but conclude I've read a whooole lot more of what they have of the constituitive texts themselves.

Maybe one could pick out a few verses out of context, but that only makes my point. My conviction is that the sum and total of the biblical record not only offers compassion in the Law's demands of restraint in how we deal with neighbor and enemy, but also offers compassion in terms of Christ's willing to suffer for our sins against neighbor. This total of the biblical record is something entirely different from the total of sermons preached by pastors who subscribed to the Christian Coalition in the 1980's. I may blog more about this if there is interest.

Let me close with a quote from C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity. Here Lewis is talking about the Law, and is trying to convince us of our own sense of sin. But notice the three words he uses to describe sin in this passage. Then ask yourself if these are words the Religious Right would use as synonyms for sin, and whether if a God is good if these items are "issues that actually make a difference to the world."
For the trouble is that part of you is really on [God's] side and agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hello. This is a test of the Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

Hope you like it.

I found out that this service had been released via Slashdot

The interesting thing about this is that at first, I uploaded an image at original size.
Then I published to this blog, and saw that it was unseemly big.
Then I went back to and re-sized it, and was able to re-publish back to the blog?

Cool, huh?

Here is a small image.

And here is a large one.

Monday, October 09, 2006

He walks and waves

Here is an animation in blender. I have been following the Blender Summer of Documentation tutorial on Character Animation.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Musings on advice for living in a high-tech world.

1) If you ever buy any portable electronic device that costs more than $100 or $100/ year in connection fees, SPLURGE ON A HIGH QUALITY CASE. Spending 10% of this price on a case is the best service plan there is. Maybe the rest of you know already that, but I have broken three things in the past few years, all in cases where a decent case would have saved them from damage.

2) My recent guess is that every aggravating thing that happens in computing-- from the recent detriments to Google Reader to SUSE's removal of wifi drivers to Yahoo! Music service's music selection algorithm-- all stem from lawyers. Lawyers who tell the business that something is not above board, urge that the business changes things, and then insist that everyone talk it up like it's an improvement. I say the road to hell is paved in talking up your company's reductions in service due to chicken lawyers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Now, with a shirt!

A continuation of my tinkering with my blender character.......

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

They were doing kung-fu fighting

They were fast as lightning.

The scariest kung-fu fighter EVER!

Alas, because it is so horriby creepy. But my blender rig is fully functional now! I wonder if there is a way to go back and edit it later, and still maintain symmetry.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Give me a Danish flag to burn

Hearing more about persecution in response to the Pope's remarks has made me want to blog about it again.

Suppose the Pope were to send all his snipers home, and, unarmed, were to enter a crowded public square in a country prone to the kinds of violent Islamist mobs you've seen on TV. He then says,
"Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.' Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, 'The righteous will live by faith.' The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, 'The man who does these things will live by them.' Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. ...

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
[Galatians 3:5-29]

The pope would then continue:
Now I have dedicated myself to the testimony that the promise to Abraham is properly understood as the gift of salvation offered as a free gift because of the suffering and death of the man Jesus Christ, who is also the second Person of the Trinity. All other works-based or law-based approaches to earning God's favor and salvation, including Islam, to the extent that they preach such merit-seeking by works of the law, are therfore inadequate. These other religious approaches to God may offer equally well a means for ordering a society as any other option, and I must distance myself from the mistaken and prejudicial generalizations offered against the practitioners of Islam, even by those holding this office before me. These other religions, however, will ultimately fail in the seeking of a salvation based by works.

You may jail me or beat me, but this is my witness. If you find yourself angry enough that you want to take my life, then, according to the Scriptures, you are my enemy. Therefore, acting in accord with these Scriptures, I ask you to speak to one of my associates afterwards and tell them of any hurts or needs you and your families may have so that they may pray for you and provide for your needs. I believe there are also many others across the world who share this faith. We seek to be your brothers in this gospel. "

I offer this commentary:

Now, where's a T-shirt I can get with that on it?

This gospel is not something defended by snipers, it does not involve broad-brush overstatements about the civility of whole peoples, it is not rooted in an apology for Western Civilization. It is foolishness to the World.

I also believe that if more Christians were able to take on such a brave, provocative, loving, and nonviolent witness to Muslims it would lead to more bloodshed of innocent Christians. More bloodshed in the short term, but longer-term peace and prosperity, and a thousandfold more converts from Islam, over the long term. Maybe even an improved national security stance for the United States of America. Can I live out such a witness? I don't know. I do know that I want to have no absolutely part in the knife-fight where some say, "We're all Danes now." Give me a white flag.

Does the bomb-throwing cartoons of Danish conservatives have anything to do with this Gospel? Not a thing. It harms our witness to it dearly. These provacateurs are merely the other side of the coin of the Islamofacist mobs.