Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flash player for Indie Feed Electronica podcast

I have only heard one episode of this podcast, but it was pretty cool. I think it shows how wide the "electronica" genre is. I guess I often think of "gaming" type sounds, but am glad when it's this classy. This stuff is more downtempo.

Friday, May 30, 2008

World's Smallest Morality Quiz!


The Libertarians have a "World's Smallest Political Quiz." They use it as a teaching device to show that there are TWO AXES in political controversies-- you may be in favor of either Personal Freedom or Economic Freedom, or both, or neither. They think it's really important to show how a Republican might want to give you lots of Economic Liberty (say, low taxes) while a Democrat might want to give you lots of Personal Liberty (say, ending drug laws). The Libertarians want you to see them as proponents of your liberty in both the personal and economic realms. Hence, two axes: Economic Liberty and Personal Liberty.

I on the other hand, think that there is another axes that is important: Social Change. I think Republicans are statists who look to government to prevent social change, Democrats are statists who look to government to cause social change. Some Libertarians are seeking social change by non-governmental means; some Libertarians don't seek regulation but seem to be opposed to persuasion for buying fluorescent light bulbs and against smoking in front of children in public places. Hence, my quiz.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jason's (Interactive!) Fishcam

At last, I've found it!
An actual, working, live fishcam!

Check out Jason's Interactive Fischam! As proven true by my own web research, it is "the world's only working fishcam!"

It's even been released as a Google Gadget.

If you go to the website, you can see why it is "interactive". There are controls to move the camera, even to operate a little toy alligator's jaws! So far, I haven't caught any fish, though. :(

Here's the code I

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How to make a zombie in blender

This is more an animation of zombification than a zombie animation, per se. I wasn't intending originally to look for ways to make creepy things, I sort of stumbled upon it while trying out some other blender features.

Here is how to do it:
TOOLS: MakeHuman, Blender 2.46, Python 2.5.
CONCEPT: Do a cloth simulation of the "flesh" of a character, deflected against its "bones".

1) Make a character in Makehuman.
2) Export as COL.
3) In blender, Import a Collada 1.4 (*.dae) file. You should get a view of your figure in blender.
4) Shift-D to create a duplicate of your character.
5) G and X 25 to move the duplicate 25 units to the right.
6) Select the character you moved to the right. Tab to enter edit mode.
7) Go to the materials button, select the meshes associated with the bones texture.
8) G and X 25 to move the bones mesh 25 units to the right.
9) Go to the Left character. Tab to enter edit mode.
10) Go to the materials button, select the meshes associated with the bones texture.
11) G and X 25 to move the bones mesh 25 units to the right.
12) Now you're going to want to delete the meshes associated with the leftmost bones and the rightmost flesh. Do it by selecting, Tab to enter Edit Mode, then B to box select, X to delete vertices. Do that for each of leftmost bones and rightmost flesh.
13) Go to the bones. Set them as a physics cloth-- deflection only.
14) Go to the flesh. Set them up as a cloth-- choose silk. Consider turning down the gravity to -4 or -2 instead of -9.81.
15) Now select the bones. G and X -50 to make it lie in the same space as (actually underneath) the flesh.
16) Now select the flesh object.
17) Crtl B to bake it.
18) You will see zombification happen before your eyes!

Zombie! from pterandon on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Test of Word Cloud Gadget in google docs to display answers to a quiz

Hmmm. It appears that this might not be working. They say, "Paste the HTML code into any web page."

I looks like blogger might not be accepting some of the charts and tables that google docs can create!

A test of Google Forms embedded in a blog.

Monday, May 26, 2008

He Qi speech to ELCA Global Mission Event, Amherst, Mass

"As a christian artist, i like to use my talent to share a peaceful message to people around the world."

This visionary artist has inspired many folks with images of bible stories with bold use of color and emotion. In this talk he speaks of his influences on his art and about becoming a Christian in mainland China.

"In daytime, I paint Chairman Mao. At midnight, I paint the Madonna".

He also makes some interesting claims about how Vincent van Gogh was an American artist, not a European one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

arm-wrestling galaxies.

Here is an example of some pictures taken of galaxies in the 1960's.
I thought it was pretty cool how way back in 1966 they could have pictures which pretty clearly told the story of how these things interact with each other. But at the same time, it's "just" a photo. It's interesting how in our age of digital feedback to think of how scientists of old could have still made all kinds of precise measurements with a relatively blurry photo.

Taken from the ATLAS OF PECULIAR GALAXIES from the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories at the California Institute of Technology.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sacramento Traffic Cam: Hwy 50 at 51st

This is pretty cool. I was searching for fish tank webcams and found this instead. A live traffic feed from sunny California! I figured out how to do this based on advice here and here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary to Bloggers. (One blogger to Hillary supporters)

As Hillary Rodham Clinton decries the mainstream media for diminishing her chances of capturing the Democratic nomination, she is turning more to the Internet to make her increasingly urgent case.


The purpose of the conference call was to thank bloggers for their support, deliver her talking points and have those talking points conveyed to the blogosphere — and ultimately to the superdelegates who may control the outcome of the race.

“Your voices make a real difference, and your engagement in these incredibly significant ways helps to set the ground for what we are trying to say in the campaign,” she told them, adding that they can “influence the rest of the blogosphere and beyond.”
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, "As Primaries End, Clinton Appeals Directly to Blogs",May 20, 2008 New York Times

Here's a blog posting from me which I hope can make a real difference.

Hillary's candidacy represents something I cannot support, I won't vote for her for any reason, not even for Senate again. There is no point in "Democratic unity" with the policy positions she has taken. It would make more sense to hope for the alleged "maverick" John McCain to somehow be resuscitated. Two positions Hillary has taken that take her off the table:
  • "Obliterate Iran." In response to a hypothetical attack of Iran on Israel, Hillary said that she would "obliterate" the country. Seventy million people. That's like ten Holocausts. As Bob Scheer noted, this should be a "career ending" statement. I am appalled at the Democratic Party that it was not.
  • The Gas Tax ploy. When Bob Dole resorted to this kind of gimmick in 1988, it was the sign of someone who'd practice bad economics for a short-term pandering ploy. I think Hillary is similarly lacking in vision.

I hope this blog post can make a difference.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PFA Man versus "Goblin Dander"

This animation represents the greatest amount of work I have ever poured into a project, if it's not my greatest work. Yes, it could well use a soundtrack, but I made it under some time constraints and didn't have time to get help with music or sound.

This video explains what I do for a living in my day job of physical failure analysis in the semiconductor industry. Of course, all opinions expressed everywhere else in my blog are solely those of my own and in no way represent the position of my employer.

The animation is made with povray. Restated, all of the characters, the sets, etc., are made with povray-- there was no use of an external GUI modeler. Many have pointed out how inefficient it can be to use povray to do character animation. I however have often thought that one of the cool things about it is that you don't have to draw-- you could even be a quadriplegic typing with a pencil in your mouth-- and still produce something of this quality. It is all done with script, or text in povray's scene description language. If you can type the word "cylinder", you could make something like this with enough time. Povray is also FREE, free as in free beer.

The rendering for the entire movie was started with a single use of a "povray" text command on a Linux box-- all the scenes.

I have posted this movie using blogger's video upload service. If you think the quality of this 400x300 movie could be better presented with some other service, please leave a comment on this blog posting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mandelbrot print: Things are just starting to get interesting!

I just sold a print of this at zazzle. com. It is made with povray. I set up an image pattern of a mandelbrot set, and then put in an increasingly complex pigment_map{}. The background starts out monochrome, and ends up showing multiple gradients of color. I thought it was a cool effect, and was glad someone else finally showed some appreciation as well!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who Knew???

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
Created by OnePlusYou

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Expelled" exposed: eohippus as hyrax hoax??

The movie "Expelled" by Ben Stein has received a lot of publicity for its premise that scientists who show flaws in evolution face blacklisting. The movie cites several examples of scientists or lecturers who apparently faced career penalties for going against the trend. Here is my take on it.

First of all, I am an unabashed Old Earth Creationist. My views on evolution and creation have been highly influenced by Hugh Ross and the organization Reasons to Believe. They hold that Genesis is literal history, including the creation of Adam, but also come to a conclusion that the the text is not incompatible with the general view that the earth and universe are billions of years old. They make a big deal of how Christian writings are unique in citing a Creation Event for the Universe, aka the Big Bang. This view is articulated in Ross' book, Creation and Time.

Here is Reasons to Believe's response to the movie:
The theater release of EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed has generated much discussion about the interaction between scientific and Christian thought. The movie gives the impression that any deviation from naturalistic, Darwinian thought leads to censorship and removal from their occupations, especially in the academic environment. Many people have asked Reasons to Believe (RTB) to comment on the movie. Some have asked us to endorse or promote it, but we cannot.
RTB Scholars Expound on EXPELLED, the Movie.

Mind you, this comes from folks who go around denying neoDarwinism. They have received a lot of heat from Darwinists for doing so-- they've got as they say, "skin in the game" on this.

Ultimately, when Christians start talking and sharing, they can proclaim the Gospel, and/or they can start spreading propaganda which they posit as supporting the framework of the Gospel. I submit that the support for Ben Stein's movie is propaganda, which is ultimately unhelpful to the cause of the Gospel, especially because it is demonstrably false.

Did all those researchers and lecturers really get fired for pointing out flaws in evolution, or did they suffer for sloppy work? It's too easy to find evidence for the latter. The Christian obligation under the 8th Commandment to put the best construction on our neighbor's words probably also applies to that of enemies of the church. Here I'm talking about the employers of those folks. It may especially apply to those who didn't know their actions were going to be painted in the light of being an enemy of the church.

The web site, Expelled Exposed examines in detail the charges of mistreatment against of the folks profiled in the film. One such case is Caroline Crocker.

"She [Dr. Crocker] cited another experiment, involving researcher Bernard Kettlewell, who produced pictures of variously colored peppered moths on tree trunks to show that when the moths were not well camouflaged, they were more likely to be eaten by birds -- a process of natural selection that influenced the color of the moths. "This comes from your book -- it is not actually true," Crocker said. "The experiment was falsified. He glued his moths to the trees.""
cited in the Washington Post article, Eden and Evolution

Dr. Caroline Crocker apparently cited in her lectures the propaganda of the young-earth creationist movement, several of which are either untrue or disowned by the more responsible young earth think-tanks. For the pepper-moth experiment, moths were in fact glued to the trees for a photograph, but the data were in fact real. It appears that she only half-remembered the propaganda. Dr. Crocker also apparently cited that the extinct animal "eohippus" is in fact a "hyrax."

"Eohippus is same as modern-day hyrax."
I respond with these images I got from
Photo of eohippus model by mharrsch.

hyrax photo by ladigue_99

To sum up:

1) I pray that as folks consider the implications of a Creation Event for the universe, that their hearts might be softened to the rest of the content of the bible.

2) I pray that my son, when he goes to college, never hears a lecturer state the demonstrably false as fact. I sorely pray that he never hears a lecturer state the demonstrably false as reason to believe in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Border fence fiasco

"We in the church stand with the unborn and the undocumented, the poor and the vulnerable, the hungry and the homeless in defense of human rights and human life," Bishop Keeler said in his opening remarks to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is meeting here this week. "Our advocacy does not fit ideological or partisan categories, for our witness is not politically correct, but unfailingly consistent."
Bishops' Leader Warns Against 'Punitive' Welfare Cuts

'The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 19:34.

The Christian church has had a strong tradition of welcoming the stranger, specifically including the immigrant. Some Catholic leaders have gone so far as to tie this ethic to "the undocumented." Indeed, if one takes Matthew 25 seriously, one ought think that what we do to the stranger is what we to do Jesus. If you start invoking taxpayer resentment in response to those fleeing economic or political violence, I say, in light of Matthew 25, you are really "trying to keep Jesus out of the public schools."

In this context, the words of Chuck Norris, in a recent blog posting, should be a bit chilling to those who have supported the church's position on immigrant people.

Chuck Norris writes:

It is not a matter of if but when America will be attacked again from terrorists who despise our country and us.
(How is it that we can militarily overthrow a government like Iraq, yet we can't militarily keep illegalities from crossing our borders?)
Do people really believe ceasing a war in Iraq will quench our enemies' vindictive fire and revulsion to destroy our country?

If these solutions don't stop the tides of illegal flow in and out of our borders, a friend of mine has a Texas-tough alternative and answer to replace the government's virtual fence failure. In fact, he says, we don't need a security fence at all. All we need to do is to post signs and position manned trucks at key points, just like our government does at Area 51, the top secret military airfield in remote central Nevada, around which there are no fences or walls. There is never a breach or unwanted border crossing there, at least that we hear about! And why? Because the boundary sign reads and is never questioned, "Warning: Use of deadly force authorized."

I respond:

1) Those who flew the planes on 9/11 entered legally. To tie a fear of another 9/11 to the waves of people wanting to come mow our lawns is mere hatred.

2) Immediately getting out of Iraq will not fix the hatreds that were created by our unjust invasion of a country unrelated to 9/11. Staying indefinitely may make it worse.

3) As I read Chuck Norris' post, it looks like he's advocating the threatening of violence for unauthorized crossing of the border. How would such use of force fit into the Just War Criteria? Is not this mere hate? I pray for the conversion of Chuck, and of us all. God save us.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weeping over the heat death of the universe.

"Imagine the entire universe being reduced to a Bose–Einstein condensate."
-- Dr. Pamela Gay

I listened to this astronomy podcast, "The End of the Universe, Part 2". It told a depressing tale of the eventual heat death of the universe. First the earth will lose its oceans and atmosphere. The sun will turn into a dwarf star, then slowly cool. The universe outside our galaxy will even fade from view due to the expansion of the universe, Everything will cool and die, becoming a Bose–Einstein condensate within 100 trillion years from now.

What are the philosophical implications of such? One host on the show repeatedly spoke of how depressing this turn of events was. Indeed, there is zero hope for eternal life for our seed. Our descendants won't survive on earth for more than a few billion years, maybe half a billion. The rest of the universe just gets less and less hospitable. Even after a while, it may be impossible to even know about the universe outside our galaxy-- no photons will be coming from the outer galaxies. To the materialist or secular worldview, I guess that this could be a cause for despair.

Ironically, I've sometimes thought about how a Christian vision of God taking us away from all this, of making a new heavens and earth, somehow seemed premature or wasteful, or unnecessary. But after listening to that show, I thought, whoo-hoo! God has a plan by which the survival and purpose of humanity isn't limited to this decaying universe we see around us.

Here's an alternative link to an MP3 for Astronomy Cast episode 87.

Friday, May 16, 2008

There's clay on Mars!

This image, Clay Minerals in Nili Fossae, was taken on Mars! It is made available through a web page made by theHigh Imaging Resolution Experiment group at the University of Arizona.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How he got in.

Justification by faith demonstrated in a pretty cool 3D animation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coolest soundtrack: under the Antarctic Ice!

Here is some interesting material from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. They've put a microphone under the sea ice and you can listen to a live MP3 stream of the sounds!

To hear the stream, right click on this link and open it with your MP3 playing software:

I listened for about five minutes and heard some really cool stuff. Like static, grumbling ice, and faraway whales. Maybe that's not what it actually was, but it captured the imagination!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dinosaur Comics comes to Youtube!

I was delighted to see that this had made it to youtube! It's goofy and highly philosophical at the same time. In it, the dinosaur, after going on a stomping rampage, complains to his friend who has challenged his actions,
"Problem or Problems? My only problem has to do with you interrupting my stomping on things, crazy Utahraptor!"
There's a lot of philosophy in that, from the Noble Savage's rebuttal to pleas for an examined life, to a theology of the cross. Too often do we see our main problems as folks "interrupting our stomping on things"? Do the things we're stomping on feel the same way?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Clotheing a Makehuman character

Clothing a Makehuman character
Originally uploaded by pterandon.

This is one of the nicest things I've done in blender, that wasn't a wooden demonstration of a technique. Someone noted however that the skirt was a bit too short.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Funny Obama Star Wars vido

Squar-O game

I failed the first time I played it.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Here's a post from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on programs for victim- offender mediation. The mother of a murdered son said of the process, it was like "500 pounds taken off my shoulders."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Blender 2.46rc2: Cloth is here!

All my previous posts about "cloth" in blender were based on trying to use a soft body physics to come up with my own approach that worked. This new stuff in the upcoming release of blender ROCKS! I set up this scene with minimal effort in choosing parms. Blender now literally has settings for "leather", "denim", "rubber", "cotton", and "silk".

The version of blender that has this was as of today only available at

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bishop T.D. Jakes on Rev. Wright

I usually do not follow the writings of Christian speaker Bishop T. D. Jakes. I only know that when flipping through the channels on TV, I've occasionally seen him on TBN. This is the network that features Jan and Paul Crouch, a network that has "street cred" with a certain segment of the evangelical or Neopentecostal Christian community in the United States. I remember this network devoting significant air time to the Terry Schiavo case and in 2004 warning us of the dangers of allowing John Kerry to pick Supreme Court Justices.

So what would this preacher, an African American who's no "Ted Kennedy," have to say about the media attention to Rev. Wright?

Commentary: Negative press distracts churches from mission

The Potter's House, though largely African-American, is composed of 20 different nationalities and growing in diversity. It is designed much the same way Sen. Barack Obama has built his campaign: on a strong commitment to reconciliation, the admonition for unity and strong desire for the continuation of diversity instead of exclusion.

While I have not endorsed any candidate, who can ignore the hunger of Americans for change? No matter who your political choice may be, it is hard to remain ambivalent to the tone that Obama sounded, igniting a national response from people of all walks of life, crowding into stadiums openly weeping -- like they were in church -- at the very idea of a nation that reflects the best of our ideals; not the divisive ranting and bickering that may drive up ratings but threaten the cannibalization of our dreams and the demolition of our hopes.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Why conservatism in America is essentially a spiritual problem

"... inherently good people ..."
-- Sean Hannity, 05/06/08.

These words were spoken by Sean Hannity today as a rebuttal to something in Rev. Wright's complaints about America. That America was basically full of "inherently good people." Any Christian can see that if we were all inherently good people, that we wouldn't need a savior, there was no need for a cross.

Left behind, another cartoon

I found this at GodTube. I don't know exactly where it comes from, but it is highly reminiscent of the "Left Behind" phenomenon. I am not a fan of that series of books. I think the focus can be inherently selfish-- what do I gotta do to make sure I get in? Rather than being a focus on what Christ did for us. This preaching seems to present viewers with a primary problem of damnation, and then leave them in shock wondering what they need to go to solve it, the answer being their work of believing. After saying we're at risk of damnation for sin, too many of this type of preacher get upset when folks start criticizing the President. I think the better mode of preaching is to present viewers with the primary problem of sin, and then point to the cross as the ultimate solution.

I also don't think that the geo-politics of the books have anything at all to do with actual biblical Christianity. The Left Behind politics seem to be more about "What nominal Christians might do if they sought to establish a kingdom on earth and kill all their enemies with jet fighters."

That being said, this is one really cool cartoon. There will be gnashing of teeth on that day.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Google Maps get a NY City tourist lost!

How many of you non-NYC residents know where York Avenue is? Do you know every single instance of when a street in NYC is not a number? I sure don't, that's why I wanted to rely on an internet map product like the street view feature in Google Maps.

I searched for the Helmsley Medical Tower. Google Maps gave me a picture of it, and even showed me where it was relative to the numbered streets in the city. So I started to make my way to the place clearly indicated on the map, around 57th. When I got there, I was just going to walk around the block looking for a building whose appearance matched the image in the photo. Turns out the Helmsley Medical Tower is closer to 71st.

The problem is that Google Maps put that silly little person icon on the map, in a place which has NOTHING to do with the location of my destination. It's distracting, it led me to believe that this was where I was headed. Would you have made the same mistake?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Late Cretaceous Earth

I thought that the detail on these images of the prehistoric Earth was pretty cool and they triggered the imagination.
From Global Paleogeographic Views of Earth History - Late Precambrian to Recent by Ron Blakey at Northern Arizona University.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Lutheran Earth-Day Message

It's pointed out as being an interfaith message. Does the fact that it "had to" be an interfaith message enhance or detract from its credibility? If it's purely an interfaith message, I'd prefer he take his collar off while saying it. I wouldn't go to a Lutheran pastor to find a message if I wanted an interfaith one. If the message only finds credibility when condensed or excised to an interfaith content, I guess I"m not as interested in it.

Mythbusters: can you blow your eyes out by sneezing?

Not for the faint of heart.
(Just kidding, nothing happens!!)
See at:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Blender 2.45: Rigidity vs. E.Stiff

I was wondering what were the best softbody physics settings for making a bouncing ball in Blender 2.45. I was very surprised that there was a sweet spot in the middle here. I am wondering if the use of an icosphere--which has triangles-- made for a very different experience. I may do this again with an object made with quads. Sorry if this is boringly slow-- I'll fix that in another version, too.

The politics behind "Can Science Save the Banana?"

In this episode of the Scientific American podcast, a botanist talks about the science and history of bananas. One interesting political observation struck me during the talk. The guy was talking about how plant diseases have made growing bananas difficult. When a fungus infestation would break out in a plantation, the best approach was to just up and move to a new location. The author said, that this required lots of free land. He also said it required slave labor. Slave labor and free land. In order to get both of those, you had to buy a government. He said that's basically why in the 20th century they called some of these countries "banana republics."

Again, the idea of "free land and slave labor" for companies struck me. I remember doing a lot of reading about the political controversies in Latin America in the 1980's. Those who were "conservative" on the issues seemed to be on the side of the banana companies and the governments. That supporting the governments was ultimately a support of private property rights, "classical liberalism", "free markets", freedom, liberty, etc. Granted, you probably didn't want the rebels to actually take over, but the struggle against the plantations I feel was unfairly painted as being merely a campaign against freedom. "Slave labor and free land" don't sound like things Adam Smith was in favor of. I wonder, in contrast, to what extent if the plantations were not violating all sorts of principles of liberty, we wouldn't have had all those problems.