Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Well, my images have got to sell now!

Zazzle has changed how they display the T-shirts that you might have for sale. They now use some computer graphics to put your image on a hypothetical model.

My images have got to sell now!

And isn't this guy's pose just perfect for this "Nerdy Super Hero" T-Shirt?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Because sometimes you just feel a need to run up the score against the computer.

A screen grab from playing the linux game Tenes Empanadas Graciela, which is an emulation of the classic game, Risk.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Teremoto: Take it or Leave it

This is an album by a Christian singer. Acoustic guitar and vocals that make me think of a very relaxed Elvis Costello. Just posting this because i) it's Christian and ii) it's from the web site Jamendo and is released under a Creative Commons license. Even if you aren't into Christian (there are actually very few albums with this tag at Jamendo) or don't like this artist, it's worth checking out Jamendo. Listen & download for free, pay artists as you please.

Another scandal of the evangelical conscience

The following is from a CBS NEWS POLL: "White Evangelicals, the Issues and the 2008 Election" October 12-16, 2007.

My response is that I believe that these answers represent a scandal in the evangelical conscience. I do not believe that the moral problems shown in the answers evangelicals have to these answers do not say anything about whether you should be an evangelical-- one who believes in a literal or authoritative word revealed in scripture, and seeks a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior. In this regard, there's nothing wrong with being an evangelical; but these poll results point to something wrong with being an evangelical.

Quotes from the poll below this line:


White Evangelicals
All Americans
Right thing 62%
Stayed out

Evangelicals have consistently been strong backers of U.S. military action in Iraq.


Right thing
Stayed out

In addition, white evangelicals think the U.S. troop surge in Iraq is working. 54% say the surge is making things better, compared to 33% of Americans nationwide who say this.


In the long run, do you think the people who are immigrating to the United States today will make American society better, will make American society worse, or do you think today's immigrants won't affect American society one way or the other?

White Evangelicals
Won't affect society

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So how many meshes did it take to make Mr. Incredible ?

Here is the latest state of development in my efforts to make mesh-based animatable characters in povray. Features:
  • 19 kb of files (HDD storage space) to make everything you see here.
  • Each leg is "one" mesh.
  • I can define a spline in povray. The leg is then extruded along the path. Simply animate the path (change a few variables in it), then the whole structure is animated.
  • uv-mapped coordinates in the mesh-- I can apply a texture and have it "stick" and "bend" with the movement of the underlying structure.

This last point is why I think this is such an advancement over my earlier creations. I was using blobs.

gmesh 49 animation

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Is it possible to run a business without being a total sleaze?

Yesterday, I went shopping for a piece of equipment that costs about a grand. After inspecting the models available from a major department store, I went to a small business that specialized in the equipment. I asked the owner if they sold any items from a well-known brand. He told me there were quality problems with that well-known brand. He went on to tell me:
  • that the major department store I just happened to have been to was selling that brand, but they marked it up SIX HUNDRED TO SEVEN HUNDRED percent;
  • that the models he sold were of such quality that it was difficult for him to achieve a ten percent markup;
  • that all his models were on sale, he just hadn't printed out any of the sale prices.
In my mind, these facts don't add up. The guy way making up lies to me to pressure me into a sale. When the implausibility of all these things being true dawned on me, I got a bit ticked, and resolved to buy off the internet if his brand were any good.

Then I started wondering: is it possible to run a small business without being a total sleaze? My question is purely an economic one: is this type of sales pitch in the long run, economically favored-- will you eventually make more quick sales from idiots than you will lose business from the intelligent and easily offended? Studying the question would make an interesting master's thesis in economics. Say you were to set up two stores at the opposite ends of a town. In one, sell the products at a clearly displayed, no-haggle price, albeit change the price bimonthly to cope with demand & supply. In the other store, adopt our friend's habits: post MSRP stickers on everything, say there's some secret sale price, invite aggressive haggling, and have a schtick that offends the intelligent or flighty out of your store in the first 30 seconds. Then after six months, switch tactics. Which is necessarily better for business?

Thinking about the psychology of the thing, I can easily imagine a business owner or regional manager fearing for their economic life and deciding that the only way to survive is to get aggressive in this manner. I think it's human nature to want to set aside a principle in order to survive-- I think this is why 38% of us openly favor torture in the war on terror.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Preaching law to the regenerate

Should the law be preached to the regenerate? In an online forum, I was debating this question as within the context of Lutheran theology. Here are a series of my thoughts on the topic, making reference to notable Christians' writing.

1) "No Law preaching to the regenerate" is not a doctrine to which Martin Luther actually subscribed.

Even though Martin Luther once advocated against law preaching, he later repudiated this as a doctrine and stated that his life's work was full of counter-examples where he had applied the law:
" But admit I had taught or said, that the Law should not be preached in the Church (although the contrary be evident in all my writings, and in the constant practice of my Catechising from the beginning) why should men so stiffly adhere to me, and not rather oppose me, who having ever taught otherwise, were now revolted from myself (even as I dealt with the Pope's Doctrine?)"
Martin Luther, A Treatise against Antinomians written in an Epistolary way

"[Luther] was misunderstood by many, who concluded that to preach like Luther, they must preach faith, justification, and righteousness without the deeds of the Law every Sunday. The practice of theirs Luther denounced as a greater error than the error of the papists. By preaching faith only and saying nothing about repentance, the preacher leads his hearers to that awful condition where they imagine they are in no need of repentance, and finally they get so that they are past help."
C.F.W. Walther, "The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel"

Even though Luther's "How Christians Should Regard Moses" says:
"The law of Moses binds only the Jews and not the Gentiles. Here the law of Moses has its place. It is no longer binding on us because it was given only to the people of Israel.
... but it also says:
"Thus we read Moses not because he applies to us, that we must obey him, but because he agrees with the natural law and is conceived better than the Gentiles would ever have been able to do. Thus the Ten Commandments are a mirror of our life, in which we can see wherein we are lacking, etc. "
Martin Luther, How Christians Should Regard Moses"

2) The willful, "secure", indulging in sins has spiritual consequences.
Lutheran theologians have held that there are two ways the relationship with God can be destroyed-- one is seeking merits on the basis of your works, the other is outright indulgence in sin.
"This means there are two ways we can miss the mark of righteousness before God, two ways the relationship can be destroyed. One is more or less obvious: outright sinfulness, unrighteousness, lawlessness, self-indulgence, what the Bible would call "worldliness" or perhaps in more modern dress, carelessness or heedlessness. In other words, we can just say to God, "No thanks, I don't want it, I'll just take my own chances. [The other way of missing the mark is to seek merit with God on the basis of your own works]."
Gerhard O. Forde, "On Being a Theologian of the Cross," p. 26

"There were many hypocrites among the Galatians, as there are also among us, who pretend to be Christians and talk much about the Spirit, but they walk not according to the Spirit; rather according to the flesh. Paul is out to show them that they are not as holy as they like to have others think they are.
Verse 21. Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in the past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is a hard saying, but very necessary for those false Christians and hypocrites who speak much about the Gospel, about faith, and the Spirit, yet live after the flesh. But this hard sentence is directed chiefly at the heretics who are large with their own self-importance, that they may be frightened into taking up the fight of the Spirit against the flesh.
Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 5.

"Likewise the faith of which we speak ... cannot exist in those who live according to the flesh who are delighted by their own lusts and obey them."
Defense of the Augsburg Confession, Article III

3) There's something about "again and again" in Lutheranism.

"Likewise the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, i.e., it is conceived in the terrors of conscience, which feels the wrath of God against our sins, and seeks the remission of sins, and to be freed from sin. And in such terrors and other afflictions this faith ought to grow and be strengthened. "
Defense of the Augsburg Confession, Article III

"[Cheap grace says,] Let the Christian rest content in his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world. ... That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
Cost of Discipleship

4) Law preaching is a part of preaching of the Gospel, and teaching of Christ's work.

But how come we to know what sin is, if there be no Law, nor conscience?8 And where shall we learn what Christ is, and what he hath done for us? if we could not know, what the Law is, which he hath fulfilled, or what sin is, for which he hath satisfied?
Martin Luther, A Treatise against Antinomians written in an Epistolary way

The gospel is the truth of God in Christ Jesus by his Spirit.
The Spirit tells us the truth-- you are a sinner. That is the reality.
You have not only sinned, but you ARE a sinner. This is the Gospel's bite.

When I was first teaching and starting to travel in the church, I would go to visit congregations and I would run into people whose pastors I knew (they were my former students). And they would say things to me like this, "Grace, grace, grace, I'm so sick of grace I could puke. If I hear one more thing about the love of God, I'm just going to get up and leave."
You know my initial suspicion was that they were legalists. But I knew better. These things were being said to me by faithful believers. I knew the students who had become their pastors. I could not figure out for the life of me figure out what in the world was going on. So I asked the students to send me copies of their sermons. I read them. I found out what was going on. They were skipping this intensification. They were declaring the Gospel as a kind of universal acceptance without confirming the reality of people's sins. It was like gagging on sugar. It was so sweet. It had no bite whatsoever. It's critically important to recognize this point right here. Here is where repentance yields its right of way to faith. This intensification by the gospel, this underscoring-- the Spirit making of the Law a teacher-- makes the difference between the faithful witness of the gospel and Gospel reductionism, that reduces everything to grace and cannot for that reason speak of the law. Both must be set out together. If one is neglected, if gospel is neglected or law is neglected, we go awry.
James Nestingen, Australian Lutheran College on Wednesday 15 August 2007.

Mesh2 improvements

Here's the latest state of my mesh2 macro.
I think I've got a pretty slick system for making it all move.
I was intending those things between the arms to be stationary pectoral muscles, not animated breasts!
Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just a test of photoblogging with flickr.

Originally uploaded by pterandon.

Wondering what size it was. This is from the aquarium at the Mall of the Americas.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

They still consider it fanaticism: Walther on seeking self-interest.

From The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, C.F.W. Walther, p. 386:

"If some one were to arise in a congregation of such people and declare with greaty joy that he is loving God above all things and that God is his all, that He is everything to him, he would be regarded as speaking out of his mind. Such people have not the least inkling that it is possible to love God above all things. The Second Table of the Law receives no better treatment from them than the First. Little it is that a member of a so-called "free" congregation know of the Second Table, spite of the zealous preaching of virtue and piety by his minister. When he returns from church, he proceeds to cheat people in enormous fashion and calls that 'business' He may be merged in sin and shame and pass for an honorable man. On occasion he may show himself liberal and give a hundred dollars to-day, but cheat people out of a thousand to-morrow. His maxim is: Charity begins at home. When he is reproved for not conducting his business in the interest of his fellow-men, but for the purpose of making a lot of money, he considers that fanaticism. You see, by means of the Law we cannot raise anything better than miserable hypocrites.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Animated GIF from povray rendering.

Showing off my new sweep mesh macro for povray.

It borrows from Mike William's (which was itself based on an idea of mine). This one is an improvement in that it allows one to choose multiple different splines as cross sections along the length. It also automatically closes at the beginning and the end.

The macro to construct the mesh is here.
That scene file doesn't involve this walking movement, which is from my earlier work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bono on torture

"Although today, today I read in The Economist an article reporting that over 38 percent of Americans support some kind of torture in exceptional circumstances. My country – NO! Your country – tell me no. (Crowd answers back “no”) Thank you."