Sunday, June 24, 2007

Michael Moore: Socialist or Libertarian?

If someone goes railing on about how the terms of contracts are being violated, are they a socialist or a libertarian? I was surprised to see in an interview with Michael Moore about his new movie, "Sicko!", that he was not talking so much about lazy unemployed people as working Joes who thought they were covered. They and/or their employer paid for a service and did not get it. The sanctity of the contract was violated. Who's supposed to defend the contract?

Eh, maybe Moore is a socialist.

But those who are vehemently anti-Moore are not libertarians. To support the status quo is to support a subsidy where you can get away with violating contracts simply by being economically powerful. That is another and more vile kind of socialism.

AT&T: A case history.

  • I remember a decade or so ago that a bunch of activists were upset with AT&T. AT&T was taking on some contracts with the department of defense that had to do with nuclear war. AT&T by these activist's claim was aiding the logistics of a hypothetical offensive nuclear war.
  • "Allen & Two Temps" was the humorous description of what was going to be left after its pattern of massive layoffs.
  • I heard Allen then CEO on C-SPAN one time. He was trying to get the American people upset about a "tax", one he urged repealing. The "tax" however was the requirement that telecommunications companies service the entire U.S. with phone or long distance service. How cynical! Yeah, there might be a cost associated with this government mandate, but it's one that comes with a subsidy-- the subsidy of access to the whole country, regardless of every homeowner's wishes that cables or signals cross.
  • Wiretapping!
  • And now, perhaps the worst case of all. AT&T, through sheer chutzpah and greed, was threatening NASCAR's relationship with the sponsor of its NEXTEL cup series, Nextel. See NASCAR news story here. . And a link to a podcast in MP3 where a commentator spouts off on AT&T is here.
Add them all up, what do you have?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Podcast Recommendations

The following is my list of podcast subscriptions. I hardly watch television, newspaper, or radio any more, but consider myself well-informed and entertained. That I am able to connect to all this stuff is one of the marvels of the Internet Age. Ideally, someday one could get this material without all the mechanical steps involved in podcast downloads. Sort of satellite radio meets Tivo meets brain implants.

The lists is in order of most to least favorite.

Luther Seminary Daily Chapel
This is the most spiritually edifying audio experience I have. It features a daily 15 minute sermon the the students, staff, and esteemed visitors to the chapel at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. If you've ever dissed or wondered about Christianity, your experience is not complete, your critique is not honestly completed until you have understood exactly what is meant by a Theology of the Cross as exemplified by most of these sermons.
Two problems however:
  • They stopped producing for the summer.
  • Sometimes the MP3 of the sermons are preceded by ten minutes of badly-recorded organ music or coughing echoing across a large sanctuary.

Mark Kermode's Film Reviews
An opinionated Brit dissing movies he doesn't like. I agree with his value system and taste in film.

Prairie Home Companion
This guy sounds just like my Dad and reminds me of what his childhood must have been like. This podcast is the portion of the show which is "The News from Lake Woebegone", which is the funny monologue by Garrison Keillor. None of that country music from Wyoming.

Fresh Air
This is the most informative in-depth news show. Talking a lot about Iraq lately.

Left, Right and Center
A very incisive discussion of politics "without the screaming talking heads of so much political discourse these days." You get to hear differing views from ideologues across the political spectrum, to see how they think.

Martini Shots
This is a fairly cool audio diary of a writer in TV show business. I think he used to be a writer on Cheers and now talks about the process of pitching new shows to the industry.

Linux Questions
Jeremy's gentle voice tells you about the current state of the linux industry. Even though he seems to be reading business headlines, you end up getting a lot of technical info by the time the show is done.

Astronomy Cast
Informative dialogue about astronomy. Not just a reading off of headlines but an attempt to explain how they know what they know. Okay, and yes, we love the sound of Dr. Pamela Gay's voice.

Cult Movies Podcast
Two to four nerds talking about all the terrible movies playing now and reminiscing about all the great ones from just before you were born.

Living Water Christian Church
The only other sermon podcast I'm listening to. Usually edifying except that this month she's talking a bit too much about her denomination.

Weekend America
An often fun but very long (2 h IIRC) news show. I guess it's meant to be listened to while packing for a trip to the beach on a Saturday morning, then you turn it off. I often have to.

Dave's Lounge
Cool downtempo music. The gent talks a bit too much about himself.

Tech Nation with Moira Gunn
Sometimes fun and informative interviews with folks of science. A recent one interviewed an expert on North Korea's nuclear program, but was entirely about his experience on The Daily Show. All of the ads for on ITC podcasts are quite annoying. Thanks for sponsoring, guys, but could we be less annoying with it?

This American Life
I have doubts that this link still works. Cool show. Some stories are boring, some are creepy enough to make me hit "next" on the ipod altogether. Some make me LOL and capture my imagination for weeks.

A podcast by the editors of Discussion of cool things in popular culture plus analysis of news from the realm of electronic privacy and copyright. Sometimes they're a little too New Agey. They diss Christianity from an atheist materialistic perspective and then confess a belief in unicorns.

Bill Moyers
I just stopped this one. Yes, Bill Moyers hates the religious right, and any person who cares about the faith revealed in the bible ought to be on guard against it. But Bill's response in the three or four episodes I listened to was to interview agnostics who were dissing all of biblical Christianity. That's my take on Bill's podcast.

Truth Dig
Just started this one. Heard a grand epic poem by Gore Vidal on the empire.

Just Vocabulary
It's just vocabulary

Sunday, June 10, 2007

American Ballet Theatre

Yesterday, I saw a production put on my American Ballet Theatre at the Met. My response to it shows either how much of a lowbrow redneck I am or how I ought to become a choreographer myself. I had a great appreciation for the music-- its rhythm and thematic development. The movement of the dancers however too often had nothing to do with the rhythm and theme of the music at that time. I'm sure the twirls and leaps were flawlessly executed and perhaps it took years of study for someone to even be able to design such a dance. But it's as if you can achieve greatness without being good.

I'd be sitting there enjoying the music, tempted to move my hands along to it as if I were the conductor. I imagined moving my whole body to it out on that floor after a few glasses of wine. But then I'd see the dancers violently thrashing out a complex piece that ignored the changes in theme that the music was undertaking.

One of my favorite dance tunes is Everybody Dance Now by C.C. Music Factory. The last time I danced to it with my wife, years ago, I was moving so fast that she worried I was going to give myself a heart attack. But then there are slow parts to the song where it really slows down-- there's just a few drum beats and no BAH BAH BAHBAH BAH of the synthesizer. Looking around the dance floor at this part of the song, I always wonder why some folks didn't slow down at that point in the song too-- they keep up the frenetic pace of movement which has nothing to do with the song. It's as if these people went on to become ballet choreographers.

Cowardice in foreign policy.

On a podcast, I recently heard this statement:
"Sometimes you have to work with someone who is dirty in order to fight someone who is evil."
This is a fair enough moral explanation of a certain set of events, from Noriega to Bin Laden to Samoza to the contras to Castro to Saddam.

Here's my rebuttal philosophy:
"It is cowardice to empower one evil guy in his evilness because he's willing to fight in your stead another evil guy that you're too chicken to fight yourself."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A spiral tour of the parameter space of the Julia fractal

This time I am exploring the fractal space via an expanding spiral. Much more entertaining.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Julia Fractal animation

Here's a fractal animation I made. It is done with povray. I'm exploring the Julia parameter space between <-1,-1> and <1,1> using a sinusoidal path that attempts to cover most of this space. It's largely boring except for a few sweet spots.