Friday, November 30, 2007

Religious tests for office?

Should a Mormon be elected President?

I am a Lutheran. Lutherans disagree with Mormons on the doctrine of "homousia", or the question of whether Christ and the Father are One. For this reason I"m not a Mormon, and do not consider them to be Christian. This doesn't mean that I cannot be friends with a Mormon, would doubt in the least that they'd make a good neighbor, or this doctrine alone would invalidate the moral legitimacy of a Mormon Presidential bid.

Should a Mormon be elected President?

I find Romney to be a dangerously immoral man. My earlier suspicions are only confirmed by this exchange between Romney and McCain in the recent Republican debate. McCain repudiates Romney's position on the form of torture known as waterboarding, saying Romney's position is dangerous to America's ideals and security.

Question: are Romney's political views here shaped by his "conservative" religiosity?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why the MP3 Must Not Die

The band Ugress has made available some really cool tracks for free on the web. They are living out the business model of being nice to your customers instead of suing their grandmothers. They had an interesting perspective on the conflict between mp3 and other audio formats. Among linux-types, you often hear a lot of dissing of the mp3 format in favor of ogg. Here's their perspective, shown in
Rant: On mp3 and other audio formats
"One can not DRM-ifize mpeg layer 3. Mp3 is a holy format that must never, ever die or be left behind. The alternatives will kill music. Mp3 is what keeps digital music alive, it is the current lifeblood of music and it was the spark that ignited the revolution. Because it is all-encompassing, it works everywhere, any product that wants to survive MUST support the mp3 format.
Ogg, Flac, whatever, yes they are brilliant and good and perfect and better options technically than mp3. But they do not have the sheer massive force of mp3, they do not carry any weight on their own. Being better is not necessarily good enough in today's world. (I KNOW.)"

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Paternal Grandparents

Over Thanksgiving vacation, I ran across a scan of this photo on a family computer. I wanted to post it because it has one of the few pictures I have of my paternal grandmother. Didn't know her really at all. This picture probably shows "what she looked like" better than any other I have seen. It's always fun to look for resemblances of ancestors in your families.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

gtkpod: How to use an Ipod with Ubuntu linux

I have an Apple Ipod Nano. I regularly use it to play podcasts I have downloaded using the linux application podracer on my Feisty Fawn Kubuntu Linux box. I do not have to use Itunes in order to maintain a playable list of MP3's on the Ipod. Here are some tips on how I go about it, assuming that I've already used podracer to create a directory of MP3's that I want to put on the IPod. Of course with anything you find on the internet, use this advice at your own risk.

First, make sure that your ipod is mounted as a device on your system. With Kubuntu, it autodetects my device when I plug it in. On this dialog box I'd click OK to mount the ipod.

In Kubuntu, clicking OK automatically brings up this Konqueror session, which provides reassurance that the device is mounted and tells you the name that linux is calling your ipod. Here it's "gregjohn"

Next I run gtkpod. Notice that when it first runs, it has the name of my ipod "gregjohn" on the list of devices. Notice the symbol in front of the ipod, however. This means it's not connected or recognized by gtkpod YET. The name is there because I used it with this box once before and it remembers its name for that reason.

Click on "Load Ipods". Now, there is a more reassuring- looking icon in front of my "gregjohn" device.

Each time I use gtkpod, I clean out the old files on it. (You don't necessarily have to.) I do it with the "Remove files" utility.

Next, I click on the Add Directories button (+ Dirs) and it brings me to a dialog where I choose the directory whose contents I want to add to the device:

If you have "rm" based podcasts, they won't play on (at least my) Ipod. You may also get error messages associated with some of your MP3 files. I tend to ignore the errors on my MP3. I believe I've had playable files even though gtkpod warned me they had "zero play length".

Review your list, make any changes (I deleted one particularly annoying podcast I had forgotten to remove from my podracer subscription list). Hit Save Changes, and wait ...

... and wait ...

... and wait ...

.. and wait some more! This is an important point. If you have a lot of files to write, gtkpod may say "Writing Database ..." for a very long time. A few times when I saw it sitting there for over a minute, I assumed that the system had locked up, so I rebooted. DON'T DO THAT. You may then end up messing up your ipod to the point of needing to find a Windows box to reinstall its operating system.

Now, when that "Writing Database ..." message goes away, you are free to unmount your ipod.

I believe that gtkpod may give one a menu option to eject the ipod. I like the reassurance I get from using Konqueror to "Safely Remove" the ipod. It sounds to much nicer.

Happy podding!

Human fails Turing test.

Here's a fascinating podcast from Scientific American. A college educated computer researcher was engaged in a long distance relationship with a Russian woman. He later found out his girlfriend was a bot!

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Magnet Sunrise

A Mandelbrot fractal made in povray.

Source code in povray Scene Description Language is here:

box{ < -50 , -50 , 5 > , <>
mandel 32766
#declare n=0; #while (n <> ]
#declare n=n+1; #end
[ 1 rgb 0] }
translate <0.163779887,0.89496106>
scale 400000000
finish{ambient rgb 1}


Saturday, November 17, 2007

This shirt is selling like hotcakes at!

Two in one week! But I cannot figure out exactly why......

The Right Abandons the Unborn, III and IV

ITEM: Pat Robertson endorses Giuliani

From Pat Robertson Explains Support for Pro-Abortion Candidate Rudy Giuliani"
"And I think Rudy Giuliani has assured the American people that he's going to appoint justices in the likeness of Scalia and John Roberts, et cetera," Robertson explained. "And he has assured people that, he assured me and others, and I believe him."

However, Giuliani has said that the judges he appoints could rule either way on the question of reversing the Roe v. Wade ruling that allowed unlimited abortions.

ITEM: National Right to Life endorses Thompson

From Right-to-Lifers Endorse Thompson -- Cynically, in a The Nation blog:

While Thompson may have had lobbying ties to Planned Parenthood, which advocates for abortion rights and in some regions actually provides access to the procedure, the former senator from Tennessee is a 100 percenter when it comes to serving the interests of major corporations. And that's what concerns National Right to Life these days. The group is part of a Washington-based alliance to advance corporate interests by using social-issue appeals to convince working-class voters to oppose their economic interests.

What is my take on this? You SHOULD seek protection of the unborn because it is a LIBERAL cause. It should be no surprise that those who oppose "paternalism," the "nanny state" and support "freedom" when the issue is a simple one like belching out more toxic pollution than you need to would turn around and be "laissez faire" when it comes to taking unborn life.

Friday, November 09, 2007

IQ Test

I took the test at I got 121.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Business leader on solar power.

"America is behind the world in solar energy adoption, and that's not acceptable."

Mike Splinter-President and CEO, Applied Materials, from a Commonwealth Club talk hosted at odeo

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Provocative political quote of the day

"Giuliani's conversion is absurd. This guy's now going to be a values guy? He's had the wildest personal life. The only way it'll work is that I guess he's a Catholic but he has to abandon that and suddenly discover God and become born again in a different way?

It's so cynical. It really shows that they've been using the Religious Right of their party. They really don't believe in this stuff, they've been using them to bamboozle poor whites into abandoning their class interest and vote for greedy capitalists.
Robert Scheer, on the 10/26/07 edition of the "Left, Right, and Center" podcast produced by KCRW.

Friday, November 02, 2007

'Yes' but not 'no' from an extruded mesh character

A further improvement.
Alas, I have realized that I cannot make a part of the body undergo a rotation along the axis of extrusion. So it can nod its head but not shake it.

This turns out to be the first major limitation in my approach to make characters with extrusion a mesh2 along a spline rather than with blobs in povray. I can think of ways to fix it, but it may ruin the portability to other users. It's already quite an unwieldy way of constructing characters.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Recent Earthquakes in the Northeast-- Who Knew??

This is a map of recent earthquakes in the Northeast as provided by the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network.

The way I set up this blog posting, I may be guilty of "bandwidth stealing." But I hope the two links back to the original source I just provided make up for the sin.

All I can say is, "WHO KNEW??"