Sunday, December 14, 2008

My publicons!

Here's an exercise in complete narcissism. The website publicons.de allows one to generate little icons for inclusion on web sites that show all your personal likes, from cell phone brand (mine not on the list) to German political party (um, I'm an American). Cool nonetheless.

POWERED BY PUBLICONS.DE

POWERED BY PUBLICONS.DE


POWERED BY PUBLICONS.DE

POWERED BY PUBLICONS.DE

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The sociopathic propensities of Christians

Here's a list:
  • They don't really seek after God.
  • They don't do good.
  • They use their tongues for deceit, their throat is an open grave, the poison of asps is under their lips.
  • Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness
  • Their feet are swift to shed blood.
  • Destruction and misery are in their ways.
  • They don't know the way of peace.
  • Ultimately, there is no fear of God before their eyes.
A bit surprising, isn't it? Doesn't this list sound like an attempt by hard-headed atheists to slander an entire religion? Problem is, this list comes from the bible, from Romans 3. It's actually a list of the propensities of all people. The passage repeatedly says there is no one who does good, and I would guess that this "no one" includes saved Christians. Problems between Christians and the world can erupt when one side or the other forgets that we're still human.

Martin Luther had a friend, Spalatin, who became disconsolate that he had given some really poor moral advice, so poor that he became distraught over his sin. Luther rebutted:
"Had you fully realized the awful corruption of your heart in its relation to God, you would not be so inconsolable; for you would say to yourself: Alas! the fountain is so polluted; that is why such filth has to flow from it.
'Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ seem paltry and trifling to us, as thought He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in grand total."
quoted in C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between law and Gospel, Concordia Publishing House, St.Loius Mo, 1986, p.97

Christians can too often elevate political positions on "nominal and childish sins" to conditions for saving faith. Nonbelievers can too often point to the doctrine of sin itself as something that makes Christianity to be archaic or dangerous. I on the other hand agree with Chesterton that "Original sin is the only Christian dogma that can be proven by reading the morning paper." Come and join our company of real, hard boiled sinners.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Octofoil knot



Here's an image based on code from the French blender python tutorial which involved the Trefoil knot.
And I used a material from the Blender Materials Repository.

Only difference here is that I tweaked the formula. I think I've got an octo-foil instead of a trefoil. What's cool about it is that it's done entirely with Python code.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More space rocks!


Here's more tinkering with procedurally generated objects in Python.

Here's the key part of the code:

for i in range(0, n, 1):
    for j in range(0, n, 1):
        x = sin(j*pi*2/(n-1))*cos(-pi/2+i*pi/(n-1))*(radius+2*random())
        y = cos(j*pi*2/(n-1))*cos(-pi/2+i*pi/(n-1))* (radius+2*random())
        z = sin(-pi/2+i*pi/(n-1))*(radius+.0*random())
        v=NMesh.Vert( x , y , z )
        me.verts.append(v)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thoughts on gay marriage (from the middle of the road)

I guess I'm undecided about gay marriage. From some of the other political or theological positions I've taken, there might be a logical progression towards a strong opinion one way or another, but I'm at a loss for one. One of the problems I have is when conservatives talk about "saving marriage" or other societal detriments that may come about if gays were allowed to marry. Let's look at the list of things that homosexual persons might do or want to do:
  1. Serve as pastors
  2. Hold marriage certificates
  3. Engage in consensual acts of sex
  4. Cohabitate, in the sense of buying houses together as a couple
  5. Adopt and/or raise their own biological children
  6. Go on dates in public places (restaurants, movies, etc.)


Personally, I have held that the bible frowns upon 3. As such, I have supported church movements that have called those serving as pastors to refrain from engaging in same-sex acts, but not to bar all of those who are self-aware as having homosexual orientation. Some might call me a bigot for that.

On the other hand, if there were truly a destruction of western civilization, a destruction of the very institution of marriage, an undue influence on our youth from gay marriage, then I insist that 3, 4, 5, and 6 all do exactly the same thing. If gays getting marriage certificates is the undoing of civilization, then gays holding hands in movie theatres, and living together does very much the same thing. In fact, I'm purely convinced it does this MORE than having a certificate. No one really knows if my wife and I have a marriage certificate in a drawer somewhere, but we act out in the community as a non-celibate, paired-up, home-sharing couple. We broadcast that far and wide; if we weren't actually married, many of our associates wouldn't know the difference.

And that is where I'm entirely tired and fed up with conservative rhetoric about gay marriage. I just heard a sermon podcast where one opined about the election, "I guess marriage is safe for now." No, it is not. If it were at risk, it would be at risk due to gays holding hands in movie theatres and being allowed to keep the children they have, from the failure to criminalize many sexual acts.

My thoughts are that much of the conservative rhetoric on the topic are in fact borne of bigotry. It's an unfair rap to blame the 50% divorce rate on gays-- it happened before they were ever allowed to marry.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Procedural generation of objects in blender with python


Hey, look, I made a moon rock. Quite boring, but I hadn't posted anything in a while art-wise, and I wanted to show my progress with creation of procedural objects in blender using python scripts. I may share more details of the code later, but I owe it all to a tutorial by some French guy. And I also got some helpful pointers on debugging the code at blenderartists forum. But the main contribution I've made to the code base here is to make it seamless-- I figured out how to make the (j-1)th vertex coincide exactly with the 0th one.

More later.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Converting Flash to MPEG with ffmpeg

I was playing around with converting files between different formats. I downloaded some creative-commons licensed videos off of youtube and then was trying to convert to MPEG video or MP3 audio formats. As is often the case, I found both good and bad advice on the internet. As a note to self, and perhaps of help to others, here are the things that worked for me:

CONVERTING FLASH VIDEO (flv) to MPEG (mpg)

ffmpeg -i my_file.flv -acodec copy -b 500 -s 640x480 my_file.mpg

This advice came from from here. The bad advice suggested using an -ab and -ar 22050; that give me an animation with no sound.

CONVERTING FLASH VIDEO (flv) to MP3 (mp3).

ffmpeg -i my_file.flv -ab 128 -ar 44100 my_file.mp3
This advice came from here.

BATCH OPERATIONS WITH BASH

for k in *.flv; do ffmpeg -i $k -ab 128 -ar 44100 "${k%.flv}.mp3"; done

This advice came from the #bash channel on irc. Basically what this does is process a bunch of files which end in flv. It converts it to mp3's. Note the syntax with brackets at the end. This allows me to keep the filenames constant from flv file to mp3 file, in that foo_bar.flv becomes foo_bar.mp3.

Hope this helps someone else out there.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cretaceous shoreline as political destiny

The blog "Strange Maps" has a fascinating discussion about the link between geological history and voting preferences in the South in the 2008 Presidential election.

Those counties which lie just inside what would have been the shoreline of the North American continent during the Cretaceous period voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

Why? According to a comment by "Neal", the areas which were once prairieland during the Cretaceous. These areas ended up over time with a soil that was just right for growing cotton. American plantations sprang up in these places, today those areas remain populated by African American descendants of the slaves who worked on the plantations. And African Americans voted predominantly for Obama, while their southern white neighbors went for McCain. Fascinating stuff.

More discussion at strange maps, virgorous north





Cretaceous map by Dr. Ron Blakey
Cotton map by Strange maps blog
Electoral county map by Mark Newman

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to render multiple povray files in linux bash commands.

bash
for i in fracpos04*.pov; do povray $i +fn +w1280 +h960 +kff225 +a0.3; done

The above commands are what I used in linux to render a whole bunch of povray files. I had a stack of POV-Ray scene description files that were all of the form fracpos04*.pov. When I ran this command in bash, linux will look at all the files in a directory. For those which are of the form fracpos04*.pov, linux will run the command povray [filename] with switches that call for PNG output file type, a width of 1280, a height of 960, an animation with 225 frames, with anti-alias setting of 0.3.

This blog post is just kind of a gratituituos sticky reminder to myself, in case I forget how to do it again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Then he blessed him there.

"Then he blessed him there." Genesis 32:29b.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 56.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

For me this happened to be the bible.
(Uh, I later saw that even closer to me, buried under a pile of mail, was ConsumerReports Buying Guide 2009, and that book's page 56 was about toilets:

"Check your water pressure."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

GM: sometimes green position is the libertarian one

There's a story in the NY Times entitled, GM Says U.S. Cash is its Best Hope. General Motors is looking for a government bailout.

Among the arguments against buying and making SUV's are that they are dangerous to everyone but the driver; they use up far more gas than they ought to; using more gas increases our dependence on foreign oil and is going to turn northern Canada into a giant lake. There are humanitarian interests on a global scale at stake here. There are national security interests at stake here. But GM sought to line its pockets at the expense of these interests. Problem is that the market does in fact include those who are complaining about your products. It most surely includes those who are affected by the externalities that your product generates.

The LA Times blog article, Average mpg by car company, has some interesting news about the connection between fleet MPG and economic performance:
Now, back to those car sales figures. GM's sales declined 18%, Ford's fell 28% and Chrysler's dropped 36%. Toyota was off 21%, and Honda saw a 1.1% increase. Here's the average fleet mpg of cars by those manufacturers in 2007. And, not surprisingly, there's a correlation -- the manufacturers whose vehicles get the worse fuel economy also got hit the hardest sales-wise.

2007 model year statistics

Domestic passenger
Daimler-Chrysler: 28.6 mpg (-36% overall sales)
Ford: 29 mpg (-28% overall sales)
General Motors: 29.9 mpg (-18% overall sales)
Toyota: 31.6 mpg (-21% overall sales)
Honda: 33.5 mpg (+1.1% overall sales)

Imported passenger
Daimler-Chrysler: 24.7 mpg (-36% overall sales)
Ford: 29.9 mpg (-28% overall sales)
General Motors: 31.9 mpg (-18% overall sales)
Toyota: 38.5 mpg (-21% overall sales)
Honda: 39.6 mpg (+1.1% overall sales)

Light trucks
Ford: 22.2 mpg (-28% overall sales)
Daimler-Chrysler: 22.6 mpg (-36% overall sales)
General Motors: 22.6 mpg (-18% overall sales)
Toyota: 23.9 mpg (-21% overall sales)
Honda: 25 mpg (+1.1% overall sales)


The above statistics cause me to have no desire to bail out the American manufacturers. Wait a minute, Honda and Toyota have plants in the US-- I should say to bail out the gas-guzzler manufactuers.

The issue also points out my beef with the recent Republican party. It is no longer the party of limited government, but it still is the party of opposition to social change. Environmental activists had been demanding government regulation to force US manufacturers to comply with demands about fuel economy. The Republicans, standing on a principle of economic liberty, refused. My fear is that a significant fraction of Republicans will join the chorus in calling for taxpayer-funded bailouts. And in so doing, they will once again demonstrate a significant shift in the overall philosophy of the party. The Republicans will have gone from a party that opposes regulations that force social change to one that uses government regulation and subsidy to oppose social change. Thus, they make the great leap from libertarian to mere evil.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Where they failed.

Kay Buchanan on MSNBC said that Republicans need to come together to discover where we failed.

Here's a short list:
1.) Limbaugh
2.) Hannity
3.) Dobson
4.) Giuliani
5.) Leibermann

Note that I didn't say Republican principles of fiscal responsibility, rule of law, and protection of the sanctity of life failed.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

McCain vs. Obama dance-off

Freakadelic.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Before you vote-- one honest argument for McCain

Here's one refreshingly honest list of reasons to vote FOR McCain, by Charles Krauthammer. In a spirit of fair play, I'd encourage folks to consider the arguments before voting.

McCain for President

I find it refreshing because it's not based on innuendo (Ayers), fantasy in science (Drill, Baby, Drill), fantasy in economics (tax cuts), or hatred (mockery of reading Al Qaeda their rights). I disagree with the assessments he offers in the article, but I'd say that conservatives would do well to hire Krauthammer to advise future campaigns.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All kinds of wrong about "spreading the message of Jesus Christ"

North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes has gotten some heat in the liberal press for remarks he said in 2006 about our policy in Iraq. The comments are quoted quoted here and here.
"Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior."


Now don't get me wrong. I believe it is the will of the Creator of the Universe that everyone know Jesus as Lord and Savior: the Bible tells me so. I also believe that a world where all seek to live by the code of the bible will be one where all seek selfless service of the poor. "Where all obey you, no one will hunger," saith the old hymn.

To this extent, I am probably in sharp disagreement with every liberal who started wailing at the religious content of Rep. Hayes' speech.

On the other hand, I would say that what the neoconservatives are pushing is neither good for stability nor in accord with the Word of God. What neoconservatives are pushing is not even in tune with the Republicanism of GWH Bush, probably not of Reagan, and definitely not of the Nixon-Eisenhower years. Torture, runaway deficits, spying, greed.

As far as the peace of Christ, I was reminded of these two statements about the effect of the invasion of Iraq on Christians living there:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania issued this statement in 2003
"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."


L.A. Times editorial, A Christian exodus:
"In opposing the invasion of Iraq, the late Pope John Paul II was motivated primarily by a concern about the carnage on all sides that a war would produce; but he also had reason to worry about the fate of Iraqi Christians once Saddam Hussein was deposed. Despite his crimes, Hussein offered protection for Christians against militant Muslims."

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm a P2P file-sharer, too.

The internet connection in my house kept dropping last night.

I noticed that it was dropping during those times I was using the BitTorrent client KTorrent on my kubuntu linux box. When I stopped using KTorrent, the connection stopped dropping. It may be a mere coincidence, perhaps my wireless router is busted, or not.

There are stories about internet service providers engaging in dirty tricks to interrupt the use of BitTorrent. There are also stories where it is presumed or falsely accused that all use of BitTorrent is for the sharing of files in violation of copyright. Some companies with outdated business models (RIAA, MicroSoft) may also have a vested interest in thwarting legal alternatives to their product (creative-commons-licensed music; linux) which are distributed across Torrents. As a way of saying Ich bin ein Berliner, I thought I'd share an example of one person's legal use of Torrents.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Biblical Zionism versus American evangelicals' Zionism

The promise of God that the descendants of Abraham will possess the land forever is an intriguing one, as it has implications in modern foreign policy. It might not make sense to be on the side of opposing something God has decreed as eternal, aside from any humanitarian or ethical considerations. I've always wondered exactly what the promise means. Early on, there's indications that his descendants would be as numerous as the starts, later on, it's said that they already are. I would guess that the later articulations of the promise in scripture should carry some weight. Here's one from Ezekiel 33:
13 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. 14 You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance.

15 "This is to be the boundary of the land:
"On the north side it will run from the Great Sea by the Hethlon road past Lebo [f] Hamath to Zedad, 16 Berothah [g] and Sibraim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer Hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran. 17 The boundary will extend from the sea to Hazar Enan, [h] along the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This will be the north boundary.
..
21 "You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign LORD.
God's promise is for the Israelites and for the aliens who have settled among you. This sounds like a one-state option for Israel. The Word of God says that the aliens residing among the Israelites are to be considered as native-born Israelites.

Too often, the response of American evangelicals to be whole-hearted support for an Ariel Sharon vision of Israel, where brutality is to be a tool in suppressing the aliens who reside among the Israelites, a vision of a two-state option, which is supported in order to keep a democratic majority for Israelites in one section, a vision where there are such things as "Jewish-only" roads. This whole set-up, in my humble opinion, is not in tune with the promise that God laid out in Ezekiel 33.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

McCain getting testy

Posted here, without vetting, after seeing a description on a The Nation blog article.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How to set up wireless in Hardy Heron ubuntu

In this post I shall tell you how I got wifi to work on an Aptiva desktop with an Atheros wireless card on a brand-new installation of Hardy Heron 8.04 Ubuntu Linux. But first, I am compelled to recap all of the bad and failed advice I found on the web:
  1. Just use Network Manager, and you're all set.
    I found this to be a most annoying experience. Network manager seemed to keep forgetting my ESSID and key after I had typed it in. I'd do the network start thing, or reboot the computer, and still no wifi. Frankly, Network Manager didn't work on ubuntu version 7.04, either.
  2. Try Network Manager, and if that doesn't work, try this advice regarding the Windows driver ...
    This is horrible advice. It has folks going to try something hard (like locating the CD's with your Windows drivers) and unnecessary (Network Manager is broken, you should use other means).
  3. Go download this program ...
    Helllloooo! We're talking about a way to connect to the internet! How is someone supposed to download anything?!
  4. Edit your interfaces file by typing sudo gedit /etc/networking/interfaces
    This was obviously typed by an experienced user of ubuntu. Someone so experienced that he forgot that Hardy Heron (the kubuntu version at least) does not "come with" the gedit application. This won't work for a new install.
It seems that anyone can give advice on the internet, (uh, including me!)

So here's my advice. First of all you will want to edit the file /etc/networking/interfaces as root or as superuser. In Hardy Heron, this can be done by right-clicking on the file, as shown in this screen grab below. You can click on the image to see it full size.


Now, edit the file to look like this. Note that the double-spacing is not required (or helpful). I needed to insert double spaces in order to get the file to look properly in my browser:

auto lo

iface lo inet loopback

address 127.0.0.1

netmask 255.0.0.0

auto ath0

iface ath0 inet dhcp

wireless-essid [insert your wireless essid]

wireless-key [insert your wireless key]

Then, open a Konsole or command window, and type:
sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart

And now you should be all set.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More free tracks for animators

I explored the Jamendo music site and found a whole bunch of goodies that I think would be of use to animators. As I said in the last post, I am of the opinion that the Creative Commons license of cc-by is the best one for those looking for music to make derivative works out of to consider. You're required to provide Attribution to the artist, but are free to make derivative works, and yeah, right may make "commercial use" out of the music.

Jamendo has a site of music broken down by various licenses, but I found special interest in the grouping of cc-by albums.

I made up some playlists on the Jamendo site to enable the browsing of the most liberally-licensed tracks as a function of tag.

Two such players are embedded in this post (unfortunately, they don't allow random shuffle play).

But here are some URL's you can paste into your MP3 player to get a random play:



Enjoy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A source of free music for derivative works in animations

There's a lot of times when I wanted to start an animation project, and I spent most of my time looking for music for a soundtrack. RIAA-produced music is a no-no-- you or youtube will get sued. Creative Commons licenses which are -nd- "no derivatives" are a no-no-- if you're making it a soundtrack to one of your works. Creative Commons licenses which are -nc- "non-commercial" are also a no-no, because while I'm an amateur, I've got a blog with ads! The remainder for us animators is the realm which is -by- or -by-sa-. It's refreshing to find quality music that is literally being given away for free. I found BrunoXe's work on the music site jamendo.com. Here's a player for one of his albums.
(Okay, and yes, I did Paypal the guy five bucks, you satisfied?)

  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mancandy starts to learn to dance

The only improvement in technique that this one represents is that I just figured out that the "Paste Flipped Pose" is located in the "Pose" menu when in Pose Mode. The music is BrunoXe's "Mandrake."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sarah Palin's church

Here's a video I found on the web about Sarah Palin's church. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about the material, but I thought I'd pass it along. I confess that there are gifts of the Spirit that could be practiced today; I have not yet seen a faith community I'd want to join that was stating their expression of such. I'm not sure if the organizers of this material are scoffing at all of the gifts of the Spirit, or just the sociologically ill ones that are also opposed to a Theology of the Cross. I hold that much of that atheists gripe about in the church is stuff that isn't even required of scripture and is spiritual practices that the Church Fathers warned us about anyway.

The article does make this valid point:
If Sarah Palin may hold apocalyptic end-time beliefs or believes that she has a divine mandate to initiate an end-time conflict, American voters have the right to know about the doctrines taught in Palin's Alaska churches.


Sarah Palin's Churches and The Third Wave from Bruce Wilson on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Forgive me folks, these'll get better soon.

Thoroughly testing out the ability to make dance animation in blender. I had to try it out with a standard music file converted from MP3 to WAV using Audacity. The soundtrack is BrunoXe's "Mandrake" from jamendo.com

A lame test of the concept of being able to do dancing in blender from pterandon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scared of crickets

I know that this is quite lame as far as character animation goes, but I'm just celebrating that I figured out how to get sound in a blender animation "automatically" with the ffmpeg settings. Improvements to follow.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finally, sound with animation on blender

I'll post a tutorial shortly, but here's an otherwise boring animation that was created on the fly as an MPEG-I with sound by blender. The key detail was to use the Video Sequencer to attach the WAV file. The audio is from this Freesound clip.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Procedurally generated landscape



Here's a landscape I made with povray. I first defined some pigments based on the cells and bozo patterns. Then I defined a new pigment which is the average of those two. Then I made a heightfield based on this function.

I always think it's neat to make living spaces for humans by procedural means in 3D. I've got a friend who's a professor of architecture, who so far hasn't responded to my suggestion to write a paper on this.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seinfeld's Microsoft ad



You know, at first, I thought, "Et tu, Jerry?" How could Seinfeld sell out to the devil? But then after hearing the ad, I see it really doesn't puff up the horribly deficient current product, it just makes us hope for the future from the company. All in all, it's harmless. Maybe it's Jerry's joke back on M$.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The all "blank"-edness of God

I was in a discussion with some Christian friends and we got to talking about the sovereignty, all-powerfulness, justice, honesty, all-goodness, and all-knowingness of God. In this case it was in relations to the story of the healing of Hezekiah in Chronicles and Isaiah. God tells Hezekiah that he's going to die; Hezekiah weeps and prays for health; God tells him he can live another fifteen years. The interesting thing is that some of us were coming to the card game as it were ready to play different trump cards as an answer to the problem. If you rely on "all-knowingness", played as a trump card, you're forced to say God knew Hezekiah was going to live another fifteen years and just said this to Hezekiah to teach him some kind of lesson. He seems a bit less merciful or honest here.

Similarly, take the story in Exodus of God being so angry with Israel that he wanted to wipe them out and start over a new covenant with Moses and his seed. Moses prays and then "the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened." The Lord relented in response to a prayer for mercy-- some translations have used the word repent! I had always viewed this story as a demonstration of the ultimate mercy of God, of the ulimate power of prayer, that you could change the mind of God. Now, put on your all-knowingness hat and play that trump card. God knew that he was going to relent so he just said these words to express his anger. Moses' plea didn't have any effect? Perish the thought!

I think that if you're going to evoke a superlative property of God, I think that all-knowingness is a low-number trump, maybe like a four of the trump suit. God's mercy is the ace of the trump suit. Amen.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Leftists say the surge worked??

Here's an interesting report from the website Truthdig, an interview with Iraqi journalist Huda Ahmed entitled Iraq from the Inside.

On one hand, there is a suggestion that the surge worked from a source you wouldn't have expected, this podcast:
"The surge couldn't have succeeded if they didn't realize that they should have worked together with those awakening groups, the Sunni tribes... If there was no cooperation from both sides, it never would have succeeded. ... In 2008, there is a big improvement in security."

But of course, there is also this:
"But under what cost? If things were not misconducted, after the war, none of this would have happened. None of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would have died, including women, children, young men, old men, you wouldn't see these refugees displaced inside and outside Iraq.
...
We didn't see [respect] when the coalition forces came to Iraq in 2003. We thought they would have a huge respect for Iraqis. And we found that they did not in the way they treated the Iraqi detainees, especially Abu Ghraib. All the Iraqis were shocked. They could have expected anything except that. And also the American contractors. You have thousands of them in Iraq, doing whatever they like, killing, raping, stealing, and they are not prosecuted by any law, the Iraqi law or the American law. They have immunity. ... I don't know what you saved in Iraq. You didn't save the lives of the Iraqis, you didn't save Iraqi history. you didn't save the Iraqi heritage, you didn't save the Iraqi rights. I don't know what model of democracy and liberation did you bring to the Iraqi minds. All we learned from you is violence. That's all we learned from you. We learned the arrogance you came and received the Iraqis with. Dehumanizing them. If you were coming to bring democracy, why would you dehumanize the people? You dehumanize the enemy in war, but not the people you expect to be your friends. ... "



Pope John Paul II's World Day of Peace 1987 stated:
All States have responsibility for world peace and this peace cannot be ensured until a security based on arms is gradually replaced with a security based on the solidarity of the human family.


It is clear that the moral philosophies guiding the manner in which Iraq has been occupied are not based on the solidarity of the human family.

Monday, September 08, 2008

LOL cats

cat
more animals

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wordle speech counts: Obama vs. McCain




As an exercise for fun, I won't tell you which is which right away.

Obama says promise, followed by keep, work, time, new, make, can, change. He appears to mention his opponent's name a frequent number of times.

McCain says country far above anything else. Naturally, Americans is up there, too. Fight, government, world and work, going and children are up there. Obama makes an appearance if you look hard enough.

I don't think I can edify this interesting comparison by saying anything more.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Incisive statistical comment of the day

1/3 of Americans can correctly cite Jesus as the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount.
-- source: "Grace Matters" podcast

"Only 29 percent said he had picked her to run in the November 4 elections because he believed she was qualified to be vice president."
-- source: Emily's list poll quoted in dailkos.


I pray that these are not the same 1/3 of Americans in each case.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Browser & OS choice reveals intelligence?

A recent post at boingboing.net drew my attention to a table composed by the IQ League. It showed the average IQ score in its online test as a function of age, gender, and browser/ OS combination.

Highlights are below:

1. AppleMAC-Safari on UNIX 105.26
3. Firefox on UNIX 102.12
14. Firefox on MacPPC 101.15
17. IE on MacPPC 100.02
22. Firefox on WinXP 99.49
36. IE on WinXP 94.86
41. IE on Win98 93.50


Consistently, users of UNIX 'puters rate higher than Apple, and Apple higher than WinXP. Firefox users rated higher than IE. (And some bloke figured out how to get an Apple browser on a UNIX box-- she or he must be the smartest in the world!) I would like to see how Vista scores would enter into the mix.

Mark Fruenfelder wrote in the boingboing post: "No, I don't take this seriously." One comment-writer on the boingboing thread said you'd have to be a moron to believe the association.

I do. I've met a couple of folks who were maddeningly struggling with Vista. I was thinking, what sources of information did they evaluate before going to upgrade? Did they ever visit one of the web sites that talked about the assessment of Vista as the Longest Suicide Note in History? Did the folks further down these lists take time to learn about the benefits of the systems higher up the list? Or did they go to the local computer store and trust that the salesman was looking out for their best interests? Or worse, did they hear rumblings of of the complaints, and implicitly distrust "activists", "intelligentsia", "whiners", "paternalism"?

Am I just being cruel? No, I think that the way you relate to informed communities says a lot about your intelligence. You don't have to-- you shouldn't-- trust these communities blindly: I'm criticizing an implicitly distrust, an assumption that they must be wrong. For at least one of my Vista-upgrading friends, his OS choice is a reason I wouldn't trust the way he evaluates various sources of information to make decisions in other realms of life, such as political affiliation.

DISCLAIMER: This was written on a WinXP box with Firefox.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What detail is missing from this narrative?

"A handsome captain came up and introduced himself.
...
It was love at first sight."


(Answer: a married, handsome captain.)

Pray for rain




Anyone seen any rain on the news lately?

The political action group of Focus on the Family, Citizen Link put out this video with a man standing in front of Invesco field shortly before Obama's speech, and asked for rain just before his speech?
"Would it be wrong to ask people to pray for rain, okay, not just rain but a bunch of rain? ...
[I'm asking because] I'm still pro-life, and still in favor of marriage between one man and one woman. ...
would it be wrong to pray for rain ...
If we see rain of biblical proportions, we will see it and say it is good".


Focus on the Family has become a narrow, overtly partisan organization, reducing the witness of Christians in the political square to hatred. No, I'm not calling a resistance to gay marriage hate (I have stood on record opposing changes to the ELCA Lutheran's policy against non-celibate gay pastors.) I'm saying they reduce our witness, the calling of all sorts of sinners to repentance, to hate. Are you supposed to wish for the worst things for your enemies, even if Obama were an enemy of the church?

What if God answered the prayer of all these haters, and brought a hurricane to the doorstep of the RNC?

Indeed, if you look at the political landscape today, the number of things that this season of Republicans represent goes against as many of the moral positions held by John Paul II as does the Democrats. Indeed, pro-life voices are getting more air time in the Democratic party even as the conservative pundits are attacking pro-life, anti-Iraq war Dems (Murtha) and praising pro-choice, pro-Iraq war ex-Dems (Lieberman). The election is not "about" abortion as much as it is about torture and tax cuts for the rich.

On a recent edition of the political talk show The McLaughlin Group, a liberal offered hopes that pastor Rick Warren represented the future of evangelicalism. That is because Warren has gone, in my words, "soft on hate". He's been talking about global warming, poverty reduction, and AIDS as moral crises for the church to be involved with. A conservative on the program rebutted with, "How is this going to help the Democrats?" and I don't believe he got an answer from the liberals present. My answer is, I don't care if it's good for the Democrats-- fie on a party which is 100% anti-Warren. Warren is good for the planet, good for humanity, good for the church, good for the spread of the evangel.
Secular liberals mock us when we are filled with hate.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More wordle clouds comparing various sermons

What makes a good sermon? What do the sermons sound like in a church that you'd never darken the doorway of? Are they indistinguishable from the sermons you hear every week? Does anyone advocate drowning of kittens? Are they all essentially relating the gospel, just with different personal testimony or perhaps political slants, or are some offering a secular message? Is there anything fundamentally different about the sermons of say,
i) San Francisco Bay Area Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations who have signed on to a homosexual-welcoming agreement called "Reconciled in Christ" ?
ii) Martin Luther,
iii) conservative Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod preachers, and
iv) Jerry Falwell in his last two years.


I made wordle clouds of about ten sermons from each of the above and from the winning entries in the sermon-writing contest for ELCA seminarians that I myself had run, The Truth 'versus' Love Project. If you want to know my feelings about these various groups, my view is that Christianity needs some balanced mix of modern-day bleeding heart and eternal unchanging truths of the scriptures. I think that these groups go from bleeding heart at the expense of eternal truth, to a good balance, to eternal truth at the neglect of a bleeding heart, to eternal truth posited as in opposition to a bleeding heart.

And here they are:
1) Sermons of Five Bay- Area ELCA RIC Congregations. We see God, Life, Jesus. Cross, grace. Foriveness and saints are there. I don't see sin or law. Good and think are there. I'm guessing that the approach of these congregations is more about equipping saints for ministry, rather than calling to repentance of specific sins. I'd like to see what a "gay-friendly" and "law and gospel" sermon would look like.

2) In the Truth versus Love sermons, God, Jesus, and Christ are prominent. Law, poor, and people are next. Sheep, mercy, good, sin, Pharisees, and need are there. Righteousness, heaven, gospel, eternal, and resurrection also make an appearance. Million is there perhaps part of some statistic. I blogged earlier that this entire list gave me a warm feeling when I saw it. I do want to make a poster out of it.

3) In the sermons of Martin Luther, the words Christ, God, and must pop out. Must, from the best expositor of free grace the church has seen?! Good, works, gospel, faith, scriptures and Paul are there next. It being Luther, Jews and the pope have to make an appearance. Perhaps this is the only part I could do without. It's interesting that Jesus doesn't make an appearance, perhaps a part of personal preference in how to address the Lord.

4) In the sermons of LC-MS Pastors, we again see Jesus, Christ, life, and God prominently. Love, disciples, and church are next. Father is there unlike the other sermons, likely a reference to the Trinity in a closing blessing. Gospel, cross, confession; believe, grace, resurrection, and righteousness are there. Sometimes I wonder, "Forgiveness from what?"

5) Finally we come to ten randomly chosen sermons of Jerry Falwell. God is on top. Next come Jesus, Christ, Israel, heart, and ye, shall, know. Children jumps out here in a way not seen in any other group. Heaven, forgive, believe, works, and truth round out the list. I see Einstein, and am tempted to speculate this is part of a self-deprecating joke about his own intelligence.

I guess there's a danger in all of this, judging our brothers and sisters in the words they've prepared to explicate the Gospel. But in some sense every Sunday we do judge one church as being worthy of driving to over all the others. Do we know why we do this? Are we blindly choosing the religious tradition of our parents, as so many non-theists have accused? Of all the things that make congregations different from each other-- are these differences a part of our core convictions in the faith, or just what we ended up with? Is any one wrong? I started this exercise asking myself these questions, and am, so far in my study, only convinced that the different churches are in fact different. And only some of the differences were predictable.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another look at Mandelbrot space exploration

This one involves the "Magnet 1" setting in povray. Perhaps I should set some of these to music.

video

Monday, September 01, 2008

Wordle views of my blogs

Please find enclosed four word clouds from wordle. This service gives you an artistic view of the words used on a particular web site, with the most frequent words printed largest.

This is a view of three months' words from this blog. I guess I talked a lot about blender.


This is a view of the most recent RSS feed from this blog-- maybe ten posts. I was actually a bit ashamed here, because it looked like I was talking more about Hillary than anything else.


Here is a view of the words used in a sermon writing contest I put on, The Truth "versus" Love Project". I would have to say these are my favorite words. I was honored that the way the words were arranged by the algorithm showed Christ holding up the whole assembly.


Here's the same sermon site as above, with the words set a bit more artistically. This one might make a cool poster.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another stab at a Mandelbrot fractal walk

Here's another stab at using povray to walk through fractal space in the Mandelbrot fractal set.. I reduced the number of images and the range of high and low magnifications. This one looks much better, even if it were garbled by youtube.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hey Dems: why use bleeding-edge formats from Microsoft?


I went to see the SCHEDULE of speakers at the Democratic National Convention. This information could be related in plain text. What do I get? A notice that I have to download and install a brand new proprietary format from Microsoft. I'm left out of the Big Tent.

Linear exploration of Mandelbrot fractal space.

This is an animation representing an exploration of the Mandelbrot fractal set in a different fashion that usual. Here, I'm moving across the coordinate space, and showing the same field of view at multiple magnifications at the same time.

This animation I believe taught me more about the fractal set than any other one I've worked on.

I've actually posted versions of the same animation posted at both youtube and vimeo. I'm trying to figure out if one service does a better job than the other with image quality.




Exploration of fractal space in Mandelbrot set from pterandon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Liberal media vs. God, III: Accepting Christ undoes hate

Here's a remarkable testimony that was part of NPR's This I Believe series. It is remarkable because it is an inspiring story from the woman who was the naked, screaming girl in that iconic picture of a napalm victim from the Vietnam War. She spent some time fostering hatred in her heart but eventually found a way to faith in Christ and love. I think this is remarkable also because it's on NPR, and you know, the media is liberal and liberals hate God, right?

Several days after, I realized that I was in the hospital, where I spent 14 months and had 17 operations.

It was a very difficult time for me when I went home from the hospital. Our house was destroyed; we lost everything and we just survived day by day.

Although I suffered from pain, itching and headaches all the time, the long hospital stay made me dream to become a doctor. But my studies were cut short by the local government. They wanted me as a symbol of the state. I could not go to school anymore.

The anger inside me was like a hatred as high as a mountain. I hated my life. I hated all people who were normal because I was not normal. I really wanted to die many times.

I spent my daytime in the library to read a lot of religious books to find a purpose for my life. One of the books that I read was the Holy Bible.

In Christmas 1982, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. It was an amazing turning point in my life. God helped me to learn to forgive — the most difficult of all lessons. It didn't happen in a day and it wasn't easy. But I finally got it.

Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed.

Napalm is very powerful but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope and forgiveness.

If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hillary's convention speech-- highs and lows

As an Obama supporter, I had grown to dislike Hillary during the campaign. Tonight, however, Hillary gave a rousing speech. It was a great unifying speech-- are you in it for me, or for the Marine stuck in Iraq, for the children with no health care, etc? I thought to myself, all hard feelings are over, the work to build up the party goes forward, etc.

Then CNN found an African-American woman on the convention floor and asked her what she thought of the speech. She started off by saying that it was surely a Presidential caliber speech. She said it was a tragedy for Hillary to have been held back because she is a woman. Then when asked about her voting, she said, "Would you put a new Harvard graduate as CEO?" She was reluctant to vote for Obama. It kind of put a sharp chill on the warm feelings that Hillary had just generated.

Then I guess I went back to square one with Hillary. I felt she stayed in the campaign longer to a destructive extent for her personal ambition. Somehow, I'm wondering during what part of the campaign this woman formed her opinion of Obama-- was it during this latter portion?

I went back to thinking of Clinton as someone with selfish personal ambition.

MSNBC, PBS Convention coverage

On these two networks, I saw groups of talking heads blathering about how there wasn't any attacks on McCain. I remembered Lessig's plea for the networks to actually cover the convention. Then I switched to CNN and immediately heard Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer give a real zinger. He said that we wouldn't have enough oil to get out of this crisis if we drilled in all the backyards that John McCain doesn't even know he has! It's perhaps not a vote-switching argument for independents, but the blathering idiots on the other networks weren't even covering the speech!

Thank you CNN!

International Olympic Committee yanks protest of Tibet

According to a slashdot article, the IOC asked youtube to take down a video that protested China's actions in Tibet. The tacky thing about the complaint is that the IOC complained about use of the olympic logo in the protest. (We're not convinced, IOC!) Youtube caved. Apparently vimeo has not yet done so. Here's the clip.


NYC Chinese Consulate Projection Action 08.07.08 from Students for a Free Tibet on Vimeo.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Using povray to select interesting portions of Mandelbrot fractal space

I was looking for interesting regions of the Mandelbrot fractal set. I developed an algorithm in povray to visit random points, and then determine if they were interesting or not. Basically, I was looking for a color difference in the highest magnification-- such that the difference of the lengths of the color vector were at least a certain distance. In the code below, I had previously defined a pigment "thefracpig".


#declare ready=0;

#while(ready<9999)
#declare lokey= <-0.540,-0.5435,0> +.25*<0.5-rand(ppp),0.5-rand(ppp),0>;


#declare pigoo=eval_pigment(thefracpig,lokey);

#declare pigoo2=eval_pigment(thefracpig,lokey+1e-11*<1,1,0>);

#declare yow=vlength(
);

#declare yow2=vlength(
);

#if (abs(yow-yow2)>0.3)


#declare ready=ready+10000;


#end


#declare ready=ready+1;


#end



What was interesting here is that I learned, if my limited sampling has any value, something about the geography of the Mandelbrot fractal space. I was hoping I'd find all kinds of little Mandelbrot nurseries-- the kinds of places where the characteristic "overlapping spheres" were being birthed. This is the kinds of places that in my experience makes the kind of art that folks like to see posters made out of. Instead I found lots of places where the set is changing extremely rapidly. In these places of rapid change, it may be impossible to apply a color pattern to it that will have any aesthetic value. The first image below is an example of what I'm talking about.

Now, on to develop an algorithm where I can find "Mandelbrot nurseries"!




Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saddleback: Conservatives' beef with Christianity

A reading from Jeremiah 26:
The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the LORD. 8 But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, "You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the LORD's name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?" And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.

10 When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD's house. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, "This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!"

12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. 13 Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. 15 Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing."


In the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the national priests had a metric for authentic words from the Lord. If the words were for the city, they were okay. If the words called the people of the city to repentance, they were naturally against the national religion and its speaker worthy of death. Do we have a similar metric today among practitioners of national religion?

The "Lutheran Zephyr" blog has this remarkable analysis of the recent debate between McCain and Obama at Saddleback, the church of Rick Warren. He quotes from the CNN transcript of the event.

Here's McCain's answer to the question of evil:
WARREN: How about the issue of evil. I asked this of your rival, in the previous debate. Does evil exist and, if so, should [we] ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it or defeat it?

MCCAIN: Defeat it. A couple of points. One, if I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that. And I know how to do that. I will get that done. (APPLAUSE). No one, no one should be allowed to take thousands of American -- innocent American lives.

Of course, evil must be defeated. My friends, we are facing the transcended challenge of the 21st century -- radical Islamic extremism.

Not long ago in Baghdad, al Qaeda took two young women who were mentally disabled, and put suicide vests on them, sent them into a marketplace and, by remote control, detonated those suicide vests. If that isn't evil, you have to tell me what is. And we're going to defeat this evil. And the central battleground according to David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden is the battle, is Baghdad, Mosul, Basra and Iraq and we are winning and succeeding and our troops will come home with honor and with victory and not in defeat. And that's what's happening.

And we have -- and we face this threat throughout the world. It's not just in Iraq. It's not just in Afghanistan. Our intelligence people tell us al Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America. My friends, we must face this challenge. We can face this challenge. And we must totally defeat it, and we're in a long struggle. But when I'm around, the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform, I have no doubt, none.


Here's Obama's response:
WARREN: OK, we've got one last time -- I've got a bunch more, but let me ask you one about evil. Does evil exist? And if it does, do we ignore it? Do we negotiate with it? Do we contain it? Do we defeat it?

OBAMA: Evil does exist. I mean, I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children. I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely, and one of the things that I strongly believe is that, now, we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God's task, but we can be soldiers in that process, and we can confront it when we see it.

Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for to us have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, because a lot of evil's been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.

WARREN: In the name of good.
OBAMA: In the name of good, and I think, you know, one thing that's very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think that our intentions are good, doesn't always mean that we're going to be doing good.

WARREN: OK. All right.



Before I get started in my commentary on these responses, let me affirm that I support the churches faithfully following documents like evangelicals' The Lausanne Covenant and the Lutherans' Book of Concord. If persons in such churches have something to teach me, even about public policy, I'm all ears. What gets under my skin, however, is when folks settle for a nominal subscription to the documents but are ultimately about affluence and personal peace. (Two things that Francis Schaeffer, evangelical theologian, excoriated Christians for in his writings.)

One thing that Obama will probably not do is leave folks alone in their affluence and personal peace.

If you know anything about Christian doctrine, there's a marked difference in the theologies of these two men as expressed in the above quotes. Obama sees evil as something in all of us. McCain readily identifies evil with the enemy of the nation-state and dresses his military campaign against them in theological rhetoric that should make believers shudder.

It's sad that so few did.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The kind of pranks that mimes must play.

Today, I was just imagining what kind of pranks you could play on friends if you were a really good mime. I guess that mimes learn how to create the illusion of mass. They could take a small empty box, and carry it out in public like it's really heavy. Then if they were to throw it at someone, I'm imagining it could give their friends a real start.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A look at the junk mail going to "heydude@mailinator.com"

Mailinator is a web site that offers you free "inbox" email. Make up any userid at all-- "heydude" or "frompresidentbushtogreg" -- and you can go to mailinator to look for mail that has been sent to them. So if you've got an acquaintance that you fear may be a flake or a scammer-- you can make up an address on the spot without having to give out your real address.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Musings about the Netflix Prize

The Netflix Prize is a contest by the movie distribution company Netflix. The goal is to come up with the best algorithm for predicting a user's future preferences in movies based on the ratings he or she has given to previously viewed movies. I have a really good idea for this but am too lazy and busy to invest the time in trying it out. So I'm posting it here.

First of all, I would state what I imagine is a typical and very poor movie rating system. If one rates a handful of movies, the algorithm decides which genre is your favorite. Then it suggests to you the most popular movies from your favorite genres. Lame lame lame LAME!

My idea involves concentrating on what I believe are the most important ratings for determining a user's actual heart in movies. These ratings are when a user has very different likes for different movies in a trilogy or a series that are nominally the same. Suppose someone loved Star Wars Episode Three (5 stars) but hated Star Wars Episode Two (1 star). For the lame algorithm described previously, it would merely average 1 and 5 stars to get 3 stars for the user's general preference for the science fiction genre. I say that the few places where one really sees how a user feels about film are shown when they have unexpectedly different ratings for nominally similar films. Supppose you love Dr. No but hate From Russia With Love, suppose you love the Joel episodes of Mystery Science Theatre but hate the Mike and Mrs. Forrester ones. That says everything about your tastes. My algorithm would ignore most of the ratings except these differentiating ones from series, and go seek out other users who had done the same. Then my algo would serve the user with films which were 5-star rated from these similar users.

That I believe is a winning algorithm.

Friday, July 25, 2008

If you wear that red dress...


... um, it's not what you think. I was just starting to experiment with vertex pinning in the making of clothes for makehuman characters. I started out with this, and, um, it turns out that it's a dress! Maybe I can cut the cloth between the legs to make pant legs and then re-bake. This looked interesting so I thought I'd share.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A tutorial on making pinned cloth in blender 2.46.

This tutorial shows how to simulate a curtain blowing in the wind using blender 2.46. I saw some conflicting advice in a forum, so I had to figure out what were the essential steps. If it's not entirely visible here, consider going to the Youtube page for that anim and watching it full screen.

Here are the steps:

1. Create a mesh that is a grid-- use a high number of vertex counts-- I used 32 for each of x and y here.
2. (Not shown) Under the mesh editing tab, Set Smooth. (I forgot to do it in this anim).
3. Go into Edit Mode (Tab), and select the row of vertices you want to serve as the "curtain rod". Here I did it with B B select, and have somewhat sloppy results. You could switch to Top View and select one column more precisely with a B select.
4. In the Mesh Editing tab, Click on New under the Vertex Groups area. Type in a name for your new Vertex Group. Here, I called it "pinned".
5. Hit the Assign button to assign your selected vertices to the new Vertex Group.
6. Unselect all the vertices by hitting A A.
7. Go to the Object Editing area, make sure you're under the particle editing button, and hit Cloth. It automatically comes up with the settings that simulate Cotton.
8. Just underneath here you'll find the button for Pinning of Cloth. Hit it and if you're lucky, the Vertex Group "pinned" will already be selected.
9. To make it interesting, I added an Empty. This will be the vehicle where we describe how the wind will act on the object.
10. The wind will be coming out of the "Z" axis on the empty. I rotated the Empty until its z was pointing at my curtain at an oblique angle.
11. Under the Empty's physics tabs, I set up a Field of Wind. I set a Strength of the Field to be a number between 1 and 10.
12. I selected the curtain again with a right click on it.
13. I hit Ctrl-B to Bake the curtain. I chose the selection of "Bake Selected."
14. You will now see the mesh react to the three (or more) forces you've placed on it: gravity, pinned vertices, and wind. It will compute a Bake for the number of frames prescribed in the "Collision" tab.
15. There you go!

This version has at least two things which make it ugly: I forgot to "Set Smooth", and the region of pinned vertices is quite sloppily chosen. For a slightly less ugly version, see my previous post on the matter.

Enjoy.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The answer my friend ... (Blender cloth test).

Here's a test of cloth in blender. I used both pinning and wind together to simulate a window curtain.


Flag16 from pterandon on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We are evil we are sound engineers

Here's a rip-roaring cool techno album I found at Magnatune. The groups' name is Processor. Wild stuff to keep your heart beating as you plod through a boring day in the office.


Are you for real by Processor