Friday, May 25, 2007

New fractal zoom animation.

Video sent by pterandon

It's interesting. I uploaded to, and it was ready for sharing within about 2 minutes.

Two or three nights ago, I uploaded an animation to, and it's still not available.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Not enough US Muslims opposed to suicide bombing?

What would you say if a demographic group were polled and found to have a sizable minority (~1/3) within it who turned out to be in favor of uncivilized barbarity? Would you shudder at the thought of that group becoming a major player on the world stage? Would you say that the revelation should point out the crying need for evangelization of that group, not only evangelization to the Gospel of Jesus Christ but also secular education in basic human decency? Would you wonder what that group's religious leaders were doing, wonder what they really had to contribute to our value system?

A poll of US citizens in 2004 by The Program on International Policy Attitudes asked American citizens about their views on the use of torture in interrogations of suspects of terrorism. Seven percent were not in favor of granting the Red Cross access to detainees. Eleven percent were not opposed to "sexual humiliation". Nineteen percent were not opposed to holding a suspect's head under water. Twenty-five percent were not opposed to forcing detainees to go naked. Twenty-nine percent found too restrictive the idea that "governments should never use torture." Fifty-six percent were in favor of hooding, and the same number in favor of bombardment with loud noises.

A similar poll was conducted by PIPA which showed a large fraction of Americans in favor of hitting civilian targets in a military response to 9/11.

Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do.

Oh, by the way, there was also a poll showing a minority of Muslims not opposed to suicide bombing. Some called it a "hair-raising ideology within our borders." I'm frankly far more frightened by the guy whose hair doesn't raise at both these ideologies within our borders.

Conservatives and the Moral Law

Sometimes mainline denominations have their more conservative members bristle at the resolutions that are sometimes passed at national assemblies. These resolutions often have something to do with public morality-- how we treat the poor, how we go to war, how we pollute the earth. Sometimes there are political objections to the resolutions, sometimes there are theological ones. It's the theological ones that make reference to the primacy of the gospel, or to the new morality and transcending of the law that get me. Some have gone so far as to say that being a theologian of the cross is the reason they oppose the resolutions.

C.S. Lewis wrote:
"Some modern theologians have, quite rightly protested against an excessively moralistic interpretation of Christianity. The Holiness of God is something more and other than moral perfection: His claim upon us is something more and other than moral duty. I do not deny it, but this conception, like that of corporate guilt, is very easily used as an evasion of the real issue. God may be more than moral goodness: He is not less. the road to the promised land runs past Sinai. The moral law may exist to be transcended: but there is no transcending it for those who have not first admitted to its claims upon them, and then tried with all their strength to meet that claim, and fairly and squarely faced the fact of their failure."

That's the rub. Being a theologian of the cross, being one who lives under a new law, does not mean that we are to set up religious bodies which free us from exposure to moral indictments. Bonhoeffer said that costly grace is something that must be striven for again and again.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

That's gotta hurt!

San Diego Zoo

pterandon's San Diego Zoo photosetpterandon's San Diego Zoo photoset

See, They Told You So on Iraq

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania issued in March 2003 the statement, The Church asks for prayer that there be no war in Iraq.

"A war against Iraq will lead to great harm for humanity and God's creation, in Iraq and for the Arab world.

"War against Iraq can sharpen religious animosities between Muslims and Christians throughout the world. Therefore we call upon all who are in position to decide for or against war with Iraq, and upon the government of Iraq, that they do all within their power, that they pray for wisdom and boldness from God, and demonstrate sensitivity to the world at large, by averting war.

"No one will be ashamed if this war does not take place except Satan. His Excellency President George W. Bush of America, and His Excellency President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, will be victorious and heroes before God and before the world if they prevent this war from taking place.

He further said that the plans of the church will be adversely affected should war take place, and he explained that the time has now come for the church, through its dioceses and institutions, to place emphasis upon investment plans in order to reduce the load carried by members of the congregations who are already affected by increasing poverty.
Restating, "War against Iraq can sharpen religious animosities between Muslims and Christians throughout the world.".

Years later, guess what? Religious animosities between Muslims and Christians has sharpened throughout the world. From a Voice of the Martyrs press release:
"The bodies of seven Christian workers were recovered in Parang town where they were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists. VOM sources report that the Christian workers' bodies were found in the jungles of Jolo by soldiers, days after they were seized while heading to a government road project."
Who wouldda thunk?! ;) Now for anyone to hit anyone is a sin. I have a conviction that the Christian bible accurately describes the Creator and His plan for salvation. I disagree philosophically and spiritually with Islam in that it is a works-based religion. Martin Luther wrote in the Large Catechism of Muslims' relation to God: "They cannot be confident of his love and blessing, and therefore they remain in eternal wrath and damnation. [paragraph 66]"

So there are many reasons why a Christian might want to witness to those in the faith of Islam.

The purpose of this post however is to point out how bigotry against Muslims does not advance the Christian faith. Nor does blaming others for the fruit of our own sin. the headline of that press release I posted is "More Beheadings from 'Peaceful' Muslims". My responses to the use of such language in that title are severalfold:
  • Aren't there a number of times in human history, if not our foreign policy since 2003, where one could put scare quotes around the word peaceful in ' "peaceful" Christians' ?
  • Didn't some of those on the ground like these Tanzanian Lutherans, who look "Islamofacism" in the eye every day and are most likely to be its victims, warn us about how an unjust war could lead to strife against the Church?
  • If there were a reason to want to witness to Muslims, it is because they "cannot be sure of God's favor to them" and will not be able to achieve it on the basis of their own works. It is neither because this thing called Christianity is somehow a partisan ally in geopolitics, nor because our witness is motivated by a desire to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods and global interests. If so, let me off here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Conservatives are manifestation of Carnal Man.

You can probably picture the stereotypical 1960's hippie-- the kind of person caught up in experimentation with drugs and sex and seeking to overthrow everything. This kind of person is sort of a manifestation of pure carnality. Someone who rebels against just about everything related to "traditional" morality. It's the sort of person that church-folks have been trying to call to repentance for the hippie's own spiritual and physical well-being, and maybe even the good of society.

Before I go any further, I want to say that the stereotypical 1990's Angry White Male is every bit as much a manifestation of carnality. He hates being told how to drive his car or what kind of car to drive, likes his sexual-laden and politically incorrect jokes, likes to swear, hates actually paying for the services he gets from the government (wants tax cuts to create deficits), hates being told how to talk to minorities and women, how to interact with the poor, where he can smoke, how the rule of law might require restraint in dealing with the enemies of his country or neighborhood. This carnality, this hatred of restraint, is every bit as much opposed to the actual old church tradition as is the 60's hippie. My view is that this is part of the reason men aren't in church.

The problem is that somehow the latter got associated with the bible-believing Christian Church sometime in the latter half of the 20th century. Too often efforts to call this sort of carnality to repentance are alleged to stem from mere hatred of the conservative, or maybe hatred of self and God. I've been seeing this a lot in defense of President Bush over the past few years.

Now the premise that both the 60's hippie and the 90's Angry White Male are rebelling against common decency and the Lord's commandments doesn't say anything about which laws should be passed or how to vote (at least in general elections, once the primaries have picked candidates). But it does say something about the intractableness of politics.

Fractals with Fyre

I just discovered this program on a list of downloadable apps for KDE in ubuntu.

I do not really know what kind of math this represents-- maybe it's attractors-- but it's fun making images with it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An old rendering

... of a contest to re-create the tree after all have them have gone extinct. I called this the "International Tree Re-creation Contest," a farce on the Internet Raytracing Competition, to which I submitted the image circa 2000. This is one of my earliest uses of povray to make people with "blobs".

My invention idea: the two bag shredder.

Slashdot has a posting where someone says:
An anonymous reader writes "German researchers at the Frauenhofer Institute said Wednesday that they were launching an attempt to reassemble millions of shredded East German secret police files using complicated computerized algorithms. The files were shredded as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and it became clear that the East German regime was finished. Panicking officials of the Stasi secret police attempted to destroy the vast volumes of material they had kept on everyone from their own citizens to foreign leaders."
So apparently there are a few big bags of shredded paper that were kept and now someone is going to try to put it all back together.

My idea for a shredder is to insert in the output stream of shredded material a divider. The divider makes 2/3 of the stream go into one bag, 1/3 into another bag. Here's the trick: the bags are the same size. So you have to replace one twice as often as the other. Thus, they two halves of the shred stream get sent to the garbage at different times.

I have not yet seen a shredder on the market that does this. Somehow I end up feeling the shredder designer cannot be too serious about security if all the waste stream is neatly sent to the same repository.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Green ones, too!

Just for yucks, I tried another one, this time in green.

Comic-book-like textures in povray

Can you guess what i was trying to do here? The interesting thing is that I had to remove some of my code for texturing each individual part of the character so I could give it one uniform one.

With that in mind, you might be able to appreciate my mistake along the way:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Doublespeak on the surge on MSNBC

Last weekend, I spent some time watching MSNBC. Within the course of an hour, I heard:
  • An MSNBC military expert explain the recent violence by saying things were starting to get worse again after the initial success of January's surge.
  • A report that the Bush Administration was asking the American people to be patient in waiting until later in the year to judge the effectiveness of the surge.
So which is it-- a great demonstrated success in its first month or something we'll not be sure of until close to a year? I think the answer is we have talking heads putting spins to advance agendas. Imagine two separate "surge apologists" on different coasts independently dreaming up a spin that will placate the people. One dreams up the idea of saying it was a great initial success and the other says its success is too far away to judge.

Someone said that truth is the first thing to die in war.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

strip generator problems

I tried out the service, It allows one to make some cool comic using the positioning of clip art, like that below. This is supposed to be my online comic blog. Only problem is that the "blog" it set up for me is empty, even after trying several times to "publish" my first strip. It looks like the service either takes a while to update the "blog" or just isn't working. If I've violated their TOS by uploading a screen grab of my blog, well then the image below should vouch for the fact that I surely tried to publish: