Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More refinement to comic panel format

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Test of comics frame implementation in povray

This may not be that interesting to a lot of people, but this was set up as a single-pass render in povray. Using the camera_view pigment in Megapov, I can now do a single-pass render of a whole four-panel comic. More to come.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blizzard missed me.

I live in one of the green triangles in the top right quarter of the image. We only got a light dusting of snow.

This image from the NASA Earth Observatory, which I notice in this Universe Today posting.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Who is he that struck thee?", unladen swallows, and global climate change

And they blindfolded him, and asked him, saying, 'Prophesy: who is he that struck thee?' Luke 22:64

Jesus, the Son of God and one who confessed to being "one" with the creator of the universe, was mocked. His tormentors expected him to be able to relate information about the physical world around him, to use his omniscience to say what had just happened while blindfolded. The text does not say that Jesus bothered to answer such a question.

Similarly, imagine some philosophical bullies trying to taunt one of the great Christians in history, say Mother Teresa or Saint Francis. Can you imagine a bully demanding that St. Francis answer a question about the science of the moon-- to have an up-to-date understanding of what his contemporaries new about astronomy? Such an expectation would be absurd. Or more recent bullies might ask Mother Teresa something about the atom. But I doubt ever her harshest critics would expect her to have supernaturally obtained information about the physical sciences around her. No one is that mean. These great Christians knew their place, and few of their critics demanded something completely out of their job description.

But what if Mother Teresa did make it a point to say something utterly stupid about nuclear science-- and then tied it to an eternal spiritual truth? How would most people react to the spiritual truth on this basis? I'm guessing that most people would respect the preacher with few scientific opinions but doubt the one who has strong opinions and is horribly wrong about them. You might take everything the latter preacher says with a grain of salt. You might wonder how much of what they say, they really believe, or are they just reciting propaganda?

Consider the science behind global climate change. Here are three cases:
  • Jerry Falwell gave a sermon where he called concern about climate change to be a trick of the devil. In it, he distinguished between fake and "evangelical scientists." He also told us we really had to pay attention to the findings of one paper in Nature. Interestingly, if you look at other articles by that author or in that season of Nature, you'd find tons of evidence for catastrophic anthropogenic warming. Was the scientist only "evangelical" when he said something that could be taken out of context?
  • A pastor I know put on his facebook page a Michelle Malkin article saying that scientists were covering up evidence that the earth has been cooling! The pastor then went on to defend the article!
  • Another pastor put these three items on his blog: i) a widget that updated folks on regional flooding concerns, ii) a FoxNews widget, and iii) a sarcastic comment that a Lutheran body had made a statement about global climate change. The ironies of these three items being together is just astounding!
Don't get me wrong. I believe that folks should become evangelical, bible-believing, tradition-honoring Christians. I just think that when we tie garbage to the gospel, people will mistrust all of Christianity as kooks or idiots.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christianity makes little sense w/o fall or cross (note this, Darwinians)

First of all, I'm not sure that there is necessarily required a conflict between all flavors of Darwinism and all flavors of biblical Christianity. Even though I consider myself an Old Earth Creationist. But there are some Darwinians, such as Richard Dawkins, who take the implications of Darwinism as a disproof of Christianity.

But I just heard a podcasted lecture from the Royal Society about how poets in Darwin's age responded to Darwin. The narrator offered as a given that natural selection showed that whatever creator exists, it could not be both good and all-powerful. I have a few responses:

i) This is exactly the argument I've heard from some Young Earth Creationists, who never seem to tire in finding objections to biblical faith for the scientifically literate. If animals suffered before the advent of Adam, the YEC's say, therefore the bible has to be wrong about everything, including salvation. Because a good God wouldn't allow animals to suffer the way they appear to have since before humans arrived. In this view, the YEC's become the most extreme animal rights activists-- probably more than PETA-- but just this one issue this one time. Even PETA believes in the right of natural carnivores to eat their prey. Faced with such animal suffering, Old Earth Creationists would have few other recourses than to point to the specialness of humans in God's creation.

ii) The historian gave a critique of Christianity without any mention of the Fall or the cross or resurrection. I, too, will agree that Christianity is completely philosophically absurd without a cross. It's like a bus without wheels.


P112409PS-1649, originally uploaded by The White House.

The White House has released many photographs of President Obama under a very liberal license. I had heard that the creator of the iconic Obama posters used during the election got in trouble with the Associated Press for allegedly using an AP photo. If only the artist were to have had available a site like this.

Even though one link on the page says that there is a liberal license on the page, another statement on the page says the photos are not to be used for any derivative purposes. A case of battling forms.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Nuther red-cyan anaglyph

Made with Megapov.

Monday, November 30, 2009

CRU Controversy: Look at the data yourself!

Through a link at slashdot, I found RealClimate's posting of a bunch of raw data related to climate. Feel free to study it yourself!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Offering of Letters video stream.

I'm going to make a presentation at my church tomorrow about Bread for the World's Offering of Letters. This time I thought it would be cool to show a bunch of Youtube videos on the topic. I've got everything from the dry words of BFW President David Beckmann to lectures by Bono to scripture readings to funny animations. Hope it flies.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dems on health care: is there something in the water?

Over the past weekend, there were two monumental votes in the House of Representatives related to health care. One is known as the Stupak amendment (HR884), which provided restrictions on federal funding of abortions, restrictions which are tighter than current U.S. policy. The other is the Health Care Omnibus (HR887), which provided for federal funding of health care. Basically all the Republicans took the knee-jerk conservative positions on both bills. I am fascinated by the variety of opinions found among Democrats on the bill. The overwhelming majority of Dems voted pro-choice and pro-health care. That they would is not that interesting. It is interesting that about 75 broke with party ranks in various ways. Sixteen voted pro-choice but against health care; forty-one voted pro-life but for health care; twenty-three sided with the Republicans (restrict abortion funding but against the bill anyway).

I will call the three positions "Wall Street Libertines" (pro-choice, pro-business), "Rust Belt Catholics" (pro-life, pro-people), and members of the "Bible Belt / Old South".

I find it very interesting that the three groups are geographically segregated. The pro-choice, anti-health people tend to live along shoreline states. The pro-life, pro-health people seem to be clustered around Ohio and those Appalachian states that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2008 Democratic primaries. The pro-life, anti-health people seem to be concentrated in the Slave States during the Civil War. Of course there are exceptions, and my labels might not apply to everyone: I'm sure not all the "Rust Belt Catholics" are in deed Roman Catholics. But why are they segregated?

A friend of mine once claimed that all religionists merely pick up and parrot the religious views of their family and those around them. I ask, how did we get segregated? Is there something in the water? Does the inevitable regionalization of blue collar jobs affect things? Is there something about your blue collar parishioners being coal miners, fishermen, or agricultural hands that makes a pastor preach differently? Do the rich people affect the area: do seaside hotel owners, coal executives, and tobacco kingpins each contribute to vastly different charities & civic groups?



Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Right Abandons the Unborn, VI

According to this dailykos article, the health insurance plan of the Republican National Committee covers elective abortions.

According to this Time magazine article, the health insurance plan of Focus on the family covers elective abortions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carl Sagan

I was just thinking recently about Carl Sagan's poetic vision of his observation about Earth as the Pale Blue Dot. Then today I found this youtube clip on the Universe Today website:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Health care bill: a good compromise

There's a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin says, "A good compromise leaves everyone half-mad." On the recent health care legislation passed over the weekend, I'm guessing everyone is half-mad, except for pro-life liberals like me. We're estatic!

If I have read the news correctly, Democrats passed a health care bill which does not allow for federal funding of abortions.

Maybe God *does* in fact work through the compromises required by a two-party system.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Everything I needed to know about screenwriting, I learned from "The Office."

Here are my observations:

1) Create some characters.

2) Make some of them despicable.

3) Make the despicable qualities of the unsympathetic characters create problems for the sympathetic characters. Make the audience wish for the defeat and banishment of the unsympathetic characters.

4) Let the despicable quality turn into a vulnerability, and have the the unsympathetic characters suffer for it. Make the audience feel sorry for them.

5) Have the unsympathetic characters also demonstrate some amazing skills which are entertaining or useful.

6) Stockpile Emmy nominations.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

5K Walk/Race

I ran (walked) in a 5K race put on by my employers' "Well-being" group. I had my Android phone running CardioTrainer with its GPS service during the race. I then went to CardioTrainer's website and downloaded a kml version of the coordinates. At every second of the race, it had recorded the GPS coordinates.

I used my own understanding of geometry and the radius of the earth to come up with a formula for instantaneous position, and then instantaneous MPH. I later realized a mistake in the algorithm, but I don't think it would affect the overall calculation by much.

Anyway, I kept up 4.5 MPH for most of the race, and then had a few spurts close to 7 MPH at the end. All this on a knee which was operated upon in April, and was occasionally giving me pain during climbing stairways.

Friday, October 30, 2009

God's injustice, or ours?

Pastor Ken Klaus' Oct 29 Devotion was entitled "Maybe, Maybe Not."

In it, he spoke of how the story of Anne Frank deeply touched his heart. He spoke of how he saw a dramatic production of her diary where Anne is portrayed watching a wedding. Pastor Klaus says this image deeply tore at his heart, because he knew how her story ends. Then Pastor Klaus immediately launches into a religious lesson.

Good, he should do so, I say. If our religion isn't influenced by or has an answer to the worst horrors around it, how can it be either useful or from the divine? I myself was thinking, yes, I remember hearing about Corrie Ten Boom's sister was bald, naked, miserable, and lice-covered in an concentration camp. How can we think that anyone deserves such treatment, even today? (We do have our own concentration camps. Even liberal TV personalities joke about how something awful-sounding ought to be played to Guantanamo captives; Alabama prison officials are dreaming up new ways to torture inmates. )

The problem is that Pastor Klaus spoke of the injustice of God and not the injustice of people. He said that the holocaust that awaits unbelievers in hell is far worse than the holocaust of the Nazis. Again, he speaks of the injustice of God and not the injustice of people. This is the conservative heresy.

On the contrary, I say people are unjust and God is just. Suppose:
A nut on the street were to tell you a giant space dragon is angry at you, YES YOU, in that you are complacent with the torture and sexual humiliation of detainees at Guantanamo, but that he sent his only baby dragon to earth, and it too was tortured & killed at Guantanamo, and if only you believed in the dragon, he'd forgive you.
This is entirely different from what we have seen from Pastor Klaus:
There's a space dragon that has prepared a living hell for all the inhabitants of earth and the only way to survive is to pay tribute to its baby dragon.

I imagine you'd have an entirely different reaction to our two hypothetical nuts. Heaven and the promise of salvation are for people who are in hell because of their sins. For those who know they are living decent lives, you're not going to get very far with such a brick to the head. Carlton Pearson, a former evangelical preacher featured in a "This American Life" episode, said he used to turn to the person sitting next to him on airplanes and say, "You're going to hell." This is essentially what Pastor Klaus has done.

The order for Confession of Sins found in the red hymnal of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod says,
I confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee and justly deserved Thy temporal and eternal punishment.
This is a basis of witnessing.

As I've said before, in certain evangelical circles, Damnation is the primary problem and the Act of Believing is the primary solution. In a Theology of the Cross, Sin is the primary problem and the Cross is the primary solution.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

High Fives

High Fives, originally uploaded by rofreg.

Did you know this was what the true meaning of those traffic signals?

Originally seen at the blog of Jason Eppink.

Demoscene: Orion's $21

This is an incredibly imaginative and captivating animation from demoscene. It kind of makes fun of the materialism of shopping channels or perhaps indulges in it. I ran across this years ago, and was just delighted to find it at youtube. I'd pay big bucks for more music made by the people who made this. It's ultra cool.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

xkcd comic

This xkcd comic was pretty inspiring:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cute and Cuddly, Boys

bay 055, originally uploaded by pterandon.

The penguins at the Central Park Zoo were very active. I'd never seen these birds this active and personable. It was eventually apparent that they thought we might have had fish.

Friday, October 09, 2009

11SecondClub Draft

I'm working on a new animation for the 11SecondClub October 2009 round. I usually like to work on the lip syncing first. I still have a little bit of work to do on this yet.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Hudson River Walkway

Hudson River Walkway, originally uploaded by pterandon.

Photo taken with a Google Android T-Mobile cell phone.

From the new walkway over the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Racism" and the paucity of spiritual language to describe mean-ness

There's a lot of buzz these days about racism and the off-the-wall protests against President Obama. At these rallies we see signs that are outright mean, to the point of calling for the President's assassination. In this culture, there's also a disconnectedness from reality-- from "death panels" to the false controversy about whether he is a citizen. This crowd has been called "birthers" because they doubt Obama had a U.S. birth.

Now the talking heads, religious and secular, are talking about the issue of racism in these rallies. Are the birthers inherently racist, or is race merely a factor among some of them, the talking heads ask. I think that this is ultimately a flawed approach, because I am sure that all the birthers can point to a black politician they admire, or a personal friend who is black and shares much of their culture and political aspirations. We have this litmus test that if you don't hate EVERY black man, then we call off the karma police and leave you alone. That is the problem.

Take South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson. Before he shouted "You lie!" at the president, he was involved in the following:
  • Fomenting resentment at illegal aliens,
  • Defending the flying of the Confederate Flag over the state capitol,
  • Not only supporting the invasion of Iraq, but also getting really upset, to the point of questioning a man's patriotism, when someone pointed out we'd sold weapons to Saddam Hussein.
Now ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing wrong with being a Republican in order to advance a libertarian point of view, but what Joe Wilson does are simply things that good people do not DO.

Everyone knows what liberals do when they are evil-- they do drugs, spread venereal disease through promiscuity, then have an abortion as birth control. (Republicans might do these things, too, but these things are understood by the public to be the immoral "extremes", the fruit, of liberalism.) At the rallies against President Obama, and in the work of Joe Wilson, we are seeing the evil extremes of conservatism. We need better language to describe this than the word which means hatred of every person with a different skin color. We need to go back to the old social statements of the church.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A political "sanity check" from Spiro Agnew's assessment of the anti-Vietnam-War left

These words are from a speech by then Vice President Spiro Agnew about the anti-Vietnam War protesters. It was used as a backdrop for a song by electronica musician Professor Kliq.

This speech could be an anthem of the political right at the time. I find it a bit comforting to listen to it (at least in the form of the song) even though I've taken liberal positions on wars from Nicaragua to Iraq. I think Agnew was ultimately on the wrong side of history; I am on the side of church movements that opposed his wars. What is comforting is that it is so well-thought out. This speech might be the result of taking one of your nuttier political adversaries after the their mother, pastor, and university professors forced them to boil down their position to one based on reason and reality. There's comfort in remembering that there could be sane reasons driving the political disagreements around us. There's also comfort in looking at yourself in an uncloudy mirror, to see where you need to shape up.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christians and worldwide cooperation.

In another forum, someone asked why Christians were so afraid of movements for international cooperation. This was my reply:

Three theological movements: Dispensationalism, Theology of Glory, and Antinomianism. Plus idolatry of the state and confusing the United States with the New Israel.

Some might not be threatened by worldwide humanitarian cooperation if your Theology were one of the Cross, where the devotion of living an examined life (including examining one's contribution to social woes) reminds one of one's need for the saving grace of Jesus. Here, sin and death and suffering are the primary problem, and the cross is the primary solution.

On the other hand, if you're practicing a Theology of Glory, damnation is the primary problem, and choosing to accept Jesus is the primary solution. Sin is reduced to a few nominal and childish vices (gay relations, drunkenness, impatience with spouse). Evangelization becomes more about mocking those who've picked the wrong spiritual "football team", quite different from the witness-and-social-reform movements of 19th century evangelists. If your focus were on getting the best seat on the bus/ fighter-jet in the End Times, as is the focus in many popular forms of Dispensationalism, you'll skip over the old testament lessons that show God's concern for the poor, and look instead in these passages for ways to come out ahead-- how you can find the be the first to find "the signs". The entire focus eventually becomes Antinomian, where any mention of the law, especially social sins, is somewhere between ignored and decried. In these theologies are also a confusion of the Church, the New Israel, with the United States. It's mere idolatry.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Reao Island

In the age of the internet, you can read books online and benefit from Google Maps at the same time. Some books assume so much understanding of geography, an understanding that would have been very difficult for readers of but a half generation ago. Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one such book where a detailed knowledge of geography can help understand the story. I was particularly fascinated by this passage about some circular shaped islands. Below is an extended excerpt and a Google Map of the region.

Sailors' luck led the Nautilus straight to Reao Island, one of the most unusual in this group, which was discovered in 1822 by Captain Bell aboard the Minerva. So I was able to study the madreporic process that has created the islands in this ocean.

Madrepores, which one must guard against confusing with precious coral, clothe their tissue in a limestone crust, and their variations in structure have led my famous mentor Professor Milne–Edwards to classify them into five divisions. The tiny microscopic animals that secrete this polypary live by the billions in the depths of their cells. Their limestone deposits build up into rocks, reefs, islets, islands. In some places, they form atolls, a circular ring surrounding a lagoon or small inner lake that gaps place in contact with the sea. Elsewhere, they take the shape of barrier reefs, such as those that exist along the coasts of New Caledonia and several of the Tuamotu Islands. In still other localities, such as RĂ©union Island and the island of Mauritius, they build fringing reefs, high, straight walls next to which the ocean's depth is considerable.

While cruising along only a few cable lengths from the underpinning of Reao Island, I marveled at the gigantic piece of work accomplished by these microscopic laborers. These walls were the express achievements of madrepores known by the names fire coral, finger coral, star coral, and stony coral. These polyps grow exclusively in the agitated strata at the surface of the sea, and so it's in the upper reaches that they begin these substructures, which sink little by little together with the secreted rubble binding them. This, at least, is the theory of Mr. Charles Darwin, who thus explains the formation of atolls—a theory superior, in my view, to the one that says these madreporic edifices sit on the summits of mountains or volcanoes submerged a few feet below sea level.

I could observe these strange walls quite closely: our sounding lines indicated that they dropped perpendicularly for more than 300 meters, and our electric beams made the bright limestone positively sparkle.

In reply to a question Conseil asked me about the growth rate of these colossal barriers, I thoroughly amazed him by saying that scientists put it at an eighth of an inch per biennium.

"Therefore," he said to me, "to build these walls, it took . . . ?"

"192,000 years, my gallant Conseil, which significantly extends the biblical Days of Creation. What's more, the formation of coal—in other words, the petrification of forests swallowed by floods—and the cooling of basaltic rocks likewise call for a much longer period of time. I might add that those 'days' in the Bible must represent whole epochs and not literally the lapse of time between two sunrises, because according to the Bible itself, the sun doesn't date from the first day of Creation."

When the Nautilus returned to the surface of the ocean, I could take in Reao Island over its whole flat, wooded expanse. Obviously its madreporic rocks had been made fertile by tornadoes and thunderstorms. One day, carried off by a hurricane from neighboring shores, some seed fell onto these limestone beds, mixing with decomposed particles of fish and marine plants to form vegetable humus. Propelled by the waves, a coconut arrived on this new coast. Its germ took root. Its tree grew tall, catching steam off the water. A brook was born. Little by little, vegetation spread. Tiny animals—worms, insects—rode ashore on tree trunks snatched from islands to windward. Turtles came to lay their eggs. Birds nested in the young trees. In this way animal life developed, and drawn by the greenery and fertile soil, man appeared. And that's how these islands were formed, the immense achievement of microscopic animals.

View Larger Map

Monday, June 29, 2009

Christian comedy only the Devil could laugh at.

Through Itunes, I found a podcast in the category of "Christian comedy." I listened to the first episode I downloaded. The speaker had attended the funeral of an atheist. He pointed to the irony that some Christian songs were played at the non-believing man's funeral. He also pointed out how the selection of songs played at one's funeral has no bearing on one's salvation. Fair enough.

The problem was that it wasn't just ironic, but a source of great offense by the comedian. He even said, "Now don't go do that." I on the other hand can think of three reasons to praise God that songs with evangelistic content would be played at a funeral:
  • The living persons in the room will hear the gospel
  • The deceased may have arranged for it secretly because he was, all along, a believer.
  • The deceased may have arranged for it secretly because he had a late-in-life conversion experience unknown to the comedian.
I might add that I've been to too many funerals in my life, and I don't think I've ever heard pop evangelical songs being played.

But the comedian didn't let it stop there. As part of the "comedy", he rewrote the song that was playing, "I Can Only Imagine". Instead of having some religious meaning the song was now about how boring it was to be a corpse pushing up daisies.

Martin Luther spoke of how there was a conflict in the church between two theologies, a Theology of Glory and a Theology of the Cross. I think that too much of what the TV preachers like Jerry Falwell were about was Theology of Glory. A Theology of the Cross might involve a focus on your sins and Christ's work. Too much of the preaching in a Theology of Glory is about either mocking folks who've chosen the wrong spiritual "football" team, or positing criticisms of the actions of your team as the cross you have to bear. Other folks could call these criticisms "calls to repentance."

Let's imagine the open-minded non-believer, and use male pronouns out of laziness. Last week, he heard the same group of Christians mock the idea that there was anything to repent of in how society treats the poor and planet-- there was only government regulation to fear. This week, he hears this song mocking atheists. What can be had but hardened hearts? The philosophical base starts out with the idea that the elect are to be protected from criticism. Hopefully, non-believers (and believers) reject this.

What would actual evangelistic Christian comedy sound like? Here's my take, and it starts out with C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity
For the trouble is that part of you is on his side and agrees with his disapproval of human greed and trickery and exploitation. You may want him to make an exception in your own case, but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behavior he cannot be good.

Is there a way that Jerry Seinfeld could read this chapter, maybe throw in some modern observations from NY City life, and have us all chuckling and tingling with fear and joy at the same time?

You see, the problem is that too many modern evangelicals have taken "greed and trickery and exploitation" off the radar screen of sin. That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Health care debate

Here's a debate between Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

Jim is kneejerk liberal. Even though I probably agree with him 80% of the time, I often find him unconvincing. But even more disappointing is the response from the one allegedly picking up the mantle of evangelicalism and biblical conservatism. The only thing that Perkins brings to the table is a fear of government takeover. I think it's an unfortunate use of language, and could just as easily be applied to all the baby-step approaches to providing health care that Perkins was in favor of.

Is this the mantle of the 19th century, bible-believing evangelicals, the ones who were as much social reformers as evangelists?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Animated textures and spaceship construction.

Just goofing around.

The spaceships are made in povray. I got some interesting effects without calling any threshold in the blob.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Truth Project

I had set up a "Truth 'versus' Love Project" about five years ago to decry the fact that so many Christians tell us we have to choose between theological orthodoxy and compassion, that a theology of the cross and a bleeding heart are incompatible.

Some conservative evangelicals have now set up The Truth Project to decry the fact that only nine percent of Christians have a biblical worldview. Interestingly, this statistic comes from a Barna Group Study, A Biblical Worldview has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life". It says that a half percent of Catholics hold to this view while still only 13% of evangelicals do. The article makes a fascinating read. The Barna Group study defines a biblical worldview:

For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.

Hey, I got no problem with that! Interestingly the article goes on to mention a very strong correlation between the biblical worldview and positions on some touchstone conservative issues like abortion and gambling. (And as they are stated in the poll, I have no problem with either).

I've been very bothered by reports that evangelicals are more likely than the average American to oppose the moral positions of the human rights and humanitarian groups. Things like torture-- evangelicals are more in favor of it. They supported the war. Ronald Sider even wrote a whole book about this-- entitled Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. Sider pointed out how evangelicals did everything from getting divorced more often to being less likely to give to effective AIDS relief programs. This blog is full of "let me off the bus" stories about how the evangelical movement as a whole is not nice (but at the same time that you should be an evangelical).

Here's where it gets really interesting. I would LOVE to see the Barna group ask some more questions, like on torture. Who are these evangelicals that are more likely to support torture-- are they also the 8% of Baptists who have a biblical worldview? My earnest prayer, and sociological hunch, is that they are not. I bet that the small fraction who believe in the bible to Barna's degree are not the Sean Hannity and Glen Beck fans. That's because I think those pundits tap in to a nationalistic spirit that is very carnal and antinomian. I always wondered with The New York Post, with staunchly conservative political coverage, always had to have a bikini shot somewhere within the first three pages.

Barna, please do another poll. I'd love to meet and organize with Christians with a biblical worldview who are also nice people.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What an extremist, reverse-racist judge will mean to America

Seen at dailykos.com, from the SCOTUS blog:
"Other than Ricci, Judge Sotomayor has decided 96 race-related cases while on the court of appeals.

Of the 96 cases, Judge Sotomayor and the panel rejected the claim of discrimination roughly 78 times and agreed with the claim of discrimination 10 times; the remaining 8 involved other kinds of claims or dispositions. Of the 10 cases favoring claims of discrimination, 9 were unanimous. (Many, by the way, were procedural victories rather than judgments that discrimination had occurred.) Of those 9, in 7, the unanimous panel included at least one Republican-appointed judge. In the one divided panel opinion, the dissent’s point dealt only with the technical question of whether the criminal defendant in that case had forfeited his challenge to the jury selection in his case. So Judge Sotomayor rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1. (emphasis added)

Oh wait, um.....WS

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pixar's work finally slides into the Uncanny Valley

There's a hypothesis in animation called "The Uncanny Valley".. It states that something featuring live characters becomes more realistic, it for a while becomes more enjoyable. Then it suffers from something called The Uncanny Valley, where becoming more realistic makes it more creepy.

Pixar's work was always the coolest to me because I thought it successfully stood atop the "stylized" peak right before the Uncanny Valley.

*micro spoiler alert*

There are dog crowd scenes in the new movie, Up. They have one main character dog who is very stylized in construction (and featured in the TV commercials). But there is a plot conflict between this dog and a crowd of other dogs, many of which are much more photo-realistically constructed.

When there's one photo-realistic dog on the screen, emoting, it seems pretty cool. But there are scenes when they show a dozen, and because they are photorealistic, they look like zombies. I think there are both creepily over-acting dogs and creepily wooden dogs in a few scenes in the movie.

I've always bristled in animation when critics demand photorealism. I think that these critics don't understand the Uncanny Valley hypothesis.

Pixar UP Full Length Movie Trailer - HD High Quality - The best bloopers are here

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Space Drama!

Here's a video from a young man who's just like me, in that he's making movies for the web and wondering if there's a business model in it. Only he's half my age, doing video, per se, and has talent. I found his blog very interesting.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Draft of IRTC pre-round entry

Draft of IRTC pre-round entry, originally uploaded by pterandon.

This isn't quite finished-- notably the hands of my main character are undergoing a major revamping. I was almost about to post this to the IRTC web page as it is.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Conservatives' one-sided citation of tradition makes tradition look bad.

On this Memorial Day, when we honor those who have sacrificed for our country, I've already seen on the internet two conservative Christians cite classic texts from church tradition to diss pacifism. As if the only lesson we get from the church historic, from church tradition, is that you shouldn't be a pacifist. I'll take the risk of offending my pacifist brethren by saying that I don't think there's a whole lot in the tradition of the church to support a pacifistic view.

At the same time, I think it's a bit tragic to take some of these classic texts and only quote one side of it. Not only have we received some very good reasons not to be pacifist, we've also learned why warmongering is bad. Sometimes the two lessons come in the same epistle or tract. To only quote one message is to reduce the witness of the church to propaganda. The saint who comes out to silence Caesar's critics, but doesn't challenge Caesar is something of a court prophet. All mouths are to be silenced, for all have disobeyed.

I've often seen conservatives quote Martin Luther's "Whether Soldiers, Too, Can be Saved." But they only quote the parts that attack pacifism. Here is one of them. (I'll also admit that this document from Luther helped me see the problems with pacifism):

The complete text of "Whether Soldiers" can be found if one searches the Table of Contents of this document at Google Books.

"As proof, I quote John the Baptist, who, except for Christ, was the greatest teacher and preacher of all. When soldiers came to him and asked what they should do, he did not condemn their office or advise them to stop doing their work; rather, according to Luke 3 [:14], he approved it by saying, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." Thus he praised the military profession, but at the same time he forbade its abuse. Now the abuse does not affect the office. When Christ stood before Pilate he admitted that war was not wrong when he said, "If my kingship were of this world, then my servants would fight that I might not be handed over to the Jews" [John 18:36]. Here, too, belong all the stories of war in the Old Testament, the stories of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, Samuel, David, and all the kings of Israel. If the waging of war and the military profession were in themselves wrong and displeasing to God, we should have to condemn Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, add all the rest of the holy fathers, kings, and princes, who served God as soldiers and are highly praised in Scripture because of this service, as all of us who have read even a little in Holy Scripture know well, and there is no need to offer further proof of it here. Perhaps someone will now say that the holy fathers were in a different position because God had set them apart from the other nations by choosing them as his people, and had commanded them to fight, and that their example is therefore not relevant for a Christian under the New Testament because they had God's command and fought in obedience to God, while we have no command to fight, but rather to suffer,endure, and renounce everything. This objection is answered clearly enough by St. Peter and St. Paul, who both command obedience to worldly ordinances and to the commandments of worldly rulers even under the New Testament [Rom. 13:1–4; I Pet. 2:13–14]. And we have already pointed out that St. John the Baptist instructed soldiers as a Christian tteacher and in a Christian manner and permitted them to remain soldiers, enjoining them only not to use their position to abuse people or to treat them unjustly, and to be satisfied with their wages. Therefore even under the New Testament the sword is established by God's word and commandment, and those who use it properly and fight obediently serve God and are obedient to his word.

At the same time, there are also some pretty resounding denunciations of rushing to war:

At the very outset I want to say that whoever starts a war is in the wrong. And it is only right and proper that he who first draws his sword is defeated, or even punished, in the end.

Wait until the situation compels you to fight when you have no desire to do so. You will still have more than enough wars to fight and will be able to say with heartfelt sincerity, "How I would like to have peace. If only my neighbors wanted it too!" Then you can defend yourself with a good conscience, for God's word says, "He scatters the peoples who delight in war." Look at the real soldiers, those who have played the game of war. They are not quick to draw their sword, they are not contentious; they have no desire to fight.

Let this be, then, the first thing to be said in this matter: No war is just, even if it is a war between equals, unless one has such a good reason for fighting and such a good conscience that he can say, "My neighbor compels and forces me to fight, though I would rather avoid it." In that case, it can be called not only war, but lawful self-defense, for we must distinguish between wars that someone begins because that is what he wants to do and does before anyone else attacks him, and those wars that are provoked when an attack is made by someone else. The first kind can be called wars of desire; the second, wars of necessity. The first kind are of the devil; God does not give good fortune to the man who wages that kind of war. The second kind are human disasters; God help in them!

Our conclusion on this point, then, is that war against equals should be waged only when it is forced upon us and then it should be fought in the fear of God. Such a war is forced upon us when an enemy or neighbor attacks and starts the war, and refuses to cooperate in settling the matter according to law or through arbitration and common agreement, or when one overlooks and puts up with the enemy's evil words and tricks, but he still insists on having his own way. I am assuming throughout that I am preaching to those who want to do what is right in God's sight. Those who will neither offer nor consent to do what is right do not concern me. Fearing God means that we do not rely on the justness of our cause, but that we are careful, diligent, and cautious, even in the very smallest details, in so small a thing as a whistle.

On this Memorial Day, let us honor and remember those who served, even those who died in wars we may regret undertaking.

Roadside stand near Birmingham, Alabama (LOC)

This beautiful image is from the Library of Congress' Walker Evans collection at Flickr. Taken in 1936.

It is interesting that one could apparently make a living selling fish caught from rivers. Just one potential setting to remember for my time machine, when I get one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Outrageous quote of the day

"Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice."
Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf.
I just saw this quote at the blog of Rev. Matthew Harrison, Executive Director of LC-MS World Relief and Human Care. (He of course was painting it as an ugly thought.)

I guess this is the exact opposite of my worldview, and how convenient for it to be expressed by Hitler. I would say that courage is being humanitarian even when it seems to go against your interests-- your long-term interests are almost always served by being humanitarian when mocked by those who wear their courage on their sleeve. Hitler's view here is exactly what is wrong with "conservative" nationalism.

The other day, I was listening to a story featured on NPR Story of the Day podcast. It featured an interview with- more a lengthy editorial by-- a psychologist who had been involved first in training U.S. military personnel to resist torture. Some of these psychologists then went on to perform "enhanced interrogation" techniques. Two things particularly bothered me about the psychologist's remarks:
  • He summed up the whole interrogation program with the example of bugs. If you know someone is afraid of bugs, lock him up with a bug. That doesn't sound so bad does it? The problem is that this one tactic is probably the least offensive of the techniques used, which ranged from breaking bones to sexual humiliation to waterboarding. To poo-poo concerns about the whole program by bringing up one of the least offensive measures is an exercise in propaganda. I find it interesting that Tony Blankley, in a recent Left, Right and Center program, also engaged in similar mocking of the concerns about torture as being about "putting a bug on someone's shoulder."

  • The psychologist said, "I was not there to be concerned about the mental health needs of javascript:void(0)terrorists. I was there to gather information to protect the country I love." [quote from my memory]. I wonder how many other people find that the problem with this psychologist's remarks is that they sound too much like Hitler's view of humanitarianism.

ADDENDUM: The American Psychological Association has a statement against torture. The statment lists many proscribed acts in this statement against torture, which of course includes "exploitation of fears". If the Association has a "zero tolerance" of these acts, I wonder if there are any penalties for going on the radio to defend passionately placing a bug on someone's shoulder? Given the above, I'm also convinced that the reporter in no way did her homework. I found that statement in 15 seconds of googling.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Excellent album for driving in car on sunny afternoon

This album by Jamendo's Professor Kliq is Creative Commons licensed. If you use it in derivative works or distribute it, you merely have to give credit to the artist and provide the same license to the subsequent works. You may of course download for personal use as well.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who will remain standing in day of Judgment?

I originally sat down at my computer to vent with outrage at how the Religious Right was misusing Scripture to rationalize the aims of the Right in certain geopolitical military exploits. I had just read the dailykos article, Outrage Over the Publication of Rumsfeld's Christian War, which discusses this GQ article. Apparently someone has found some material where former US Defense Secretary had prepared scripture quotes to pep up the morale of troops fighting in Iraq. One of the passages was Isaiah 5:28:
28 Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses' hoofs seem like flint,
their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
I wanted to learn more about the passage, because out of context I wasn't sure whether it were in fact a passage describing bad people or the actions of God's agents. Wouldn't it be like the Religious Right, I presumed, to misuse a passage by describing America's troops with biblical language meant to describe God's enemies? Anyway, while googling up the passage, I ran across the Skeptic's Annotated Bible. They had this to say in their commentary on Isaiah 5:28.
God will kill those who despise his word and fail to follow his laws. Their carcasses will be "torn in the midst of the streets."
This actually bothered me more than Rumsfeld. The writers of this commentary were trying to point out how stupid and mean and silly it was to follow a text where it is said that God will slay those who do not follow his laws. I believe this is based on a (very flawed) view of God's law as (what Luther described as) "nominal and childish sins." In this view, the laws are all about spoiling our fun, completing boring ceremonies, following the secret handshakes of the club: the law has nothing to do with man's inhumanity to man.

C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, in Mere Christianity once summarized the reasons for God's wrath as "greed and trickery and exploitation." What if God's law had the smallest iota of relevance to greed and trickery and exploitation? Why, there might be at least some kind of justice to the idea of an angry God, if He were also mad at those A.I.G.? What about all those other people who exploit the poor? What about you! What about me?! Indeed, according to Luther's Explanation to the Ten Commandments:
The Seventh Commandment.

Thou shalt not steal.

After your person and spouse temporal property comes next. That also God wishes to have protected, and He has commanded that no one shall subtract from, or curtail, his neighbor's possessions. For to steal is nothing else than to get possession of another's property wrongfully, which briefly comprehends all kinds of advantage in all sorts of trade to the disadvantage of our neighbor. Now, this is indeed quite a wide-spread and common vice, but so little regarded and observed that it exceeds all measure, so that if all who are thieves, and yet do not wish to be called such, were to be hanged on gallows the world would soon be devastated and there would be a lack both of executioners and gallows.
Who could remain standing? That is the proper understanding of God's law and wrath. It is not a reason for mocking the idea of accountability to a higher power; it is surely NOT a reason to go punching those who have committed slightly fewer sins than yourself.

Too often I feel that fundies & atheists agree on more than they disagree. Maybe the Religious Right and the less-well-read "skeptics" of Christianity would agree that sin is merely a list of a few nominal and childish vices. In that view, for God to have "wrath" over it is is both mean and stupid. But if however His law were more about lifting up the sheet and showing all the bloody ways we've exploited, harmed, and killed each other, then perhaps God's law is a reason to shudder. And seek the shelter that can only be provided by the cross.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Procedurally generated landscape -- land and sea

Here's yet another procedurally generated landscape. It shows some densely packed islands by the sea that starts out in complete chaos, but eventually establishes a more stable form, but never stops "bubbling".

This is also one of the first times I've tried blip.tv's embeddable player.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Electrons on parade

I originally found this post at boingboing.net. It's a cool video explaining electronics from the 1950's.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Martin Luther's "Concerning Councils"

"My friends, the Antinomians preach exceedingly well-- and I cannot but believe that they do so with great earnestness-- concerning the mercy of Christ, forgiveness of sin, and other contents of the article of redemption. But they flee from this inference as from the devil, that they must tell people about the Third Article, of sanctification, that is, of the new life in Christ. For they hold that we must not terrify people and make them sorrowful, but must always preach to them the comfort of grace of Christ and the forgiveness of sin. They tell us to avoid, for God's sake, such statements as these: 'Listen you want to be a Christian while you are an adulterer, a fornicator, a swill-belly, full of pride, avarice, usurious practices, envy, revenge, malice, etc., and mean to continue in these sins?' On the contrary, they tell us that this is the proper way to speak: 'Listen, you are an adulterer, fornicator, miser, or addicted to some other sin. Now if you will only believe, you are saved and need not dread the Law, for Christ has fulfilled all.' Tell me, prithee, does not this amount to conceding the premise and denying the conclusion? Verily, it amounts to this, that Christ is taken away and made worthless in the same breath with which He is most highly extolled."

--Martin Luther, Concerning Councils, as quoted in Walther's Law and Gospel.

Everyone's got something they are Antinomian about.

If you'll notice above, I have highlighted and colored various sins in the above lists that caught my eye. Christianity seems to be divided into camps where one is against the red sins: adultery, fornication, chemical revelry, on one hand and the blue sins: miserliness, avarice, usurious practices on the other. It's hard to find someone whose witness to Christ has a balanced approach to all of these sins. On one hand, I've met some conservatives on the internet or listened to sermons of LC-MS pastors who seem to have a wonderful grasp of confessional Lutheran doctrine when the sins are red ones. But mention the blue items as something for which we are all worthy of reproof, and they start calling you a heterodox liberal-Protestant, say that you will "offend the Christ in them," etc.. On the other hand, I've seen some other Christians engage in a tireless campaign against the violations of human decency found in those blue sins. But they seem to bend over backwards to find any basis for their campaign as long as the source is something other than confessional Lutheranism and the sin-death-cross-repentance story in scripture.

I call this controversy in Christianity the Humanitarian Question.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to make one-pass 3D anaglyphs in povray

This requires the Megapov patch of povray

1. Give all your objects a pigment which is of the form rgb < n , n , n > , where n is between zero and one. In other words, black and white.
2. Make up two camera_view pigment patterns in povray, which are identical in every respect, including the look_at vector, except that the locations of the camera are separated by a few pov-units.
3. Make up three subsequent pigments:
i) one that makes use of your left pigment and goes from black to 3*red
pigment{function{left_camera_pigment (x,y,z).red} colour_map {[0 rgb 0][1 rgb <3,0,0>]}}
ii) one that makes use of your right pigment and goes from black to 3*green
iii) one that makes use of your right pigment and goes from black to 3*blue.
4. Set up an average pigment which combines the three with equal strength.
5. Set up a box that fills the camera (see my earlier povray posts) and has the pigment in #4 as its texture.

Now, when you render, you will be automatically creating red-cyan 3D anaglyphs in povray.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fundies & secularists agree on one thing.

A recent episode of "This American Life" featured an interview with a southern judge. The judge had come up with a creative sentencing program for shoplifters. He sentenced them to carry a sign in front of the store saying that they had shoplifted. For the record, I'm neutral or slightly in favor of this sentencing program. I think the program was a well-balanced piece, and was ultimately sympathetic to the judge. But one part of the segment stuck in my craw.

The interviewer thought the sentencing program were a bit extreme and uncompassionate. The interviewer asked if it weren't a bit "biblical", and the judge agreed. What bothered me was that both the (apparent) nonbeliever and the (apparent) fundamentalist agreed on a definition of "biblical" that tied it to a brutish way of dealing with your neighbor.

This is another version of the Humanitarian Question. Nonbelievers use the brutality of Christianity as a reason not to believe. Fundamentalists use the brutality of Christianity as a reason to be brutal. I say let me off of both of these buses, because they are both wrong.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Anselm! Anselm!

I remember being in discussion with some folks a few years ago whose views I thought were a bit towards the Liberal-Protestant side of the spectrum. (BTW, there ain't nothing wrong with being either a liberal or a Protestant, but being a liberal-Prostestant. Liberal-Protestantism can be defined as "Scholars who incline strongly to a non-dogmatic reconstruction of the Christian faith, usually concentrating on its ethical and humanitarian aspects.")

Anyway, they had a really strong beef with Saint Anselm's view of the atonement. I never really understood what it was about.

I just ran across An open letter to the Bishop-elect of Northern Michigan, by a self-described scholar of Medieval Christianity. The article makes rebuts none other than the Bishop-elect of Northern Michigan, Kevin G. Thew Forrester. Forrester had written a piece called Approaching the Heart of Faith, where he quotes someone who said that Anselm's theory of the Atonement gave support to the Crusades.

The Open Letter makes a very good case for how Anselm's theory of the Atonement is in no way to blame. If there is a focus on the shedding of blood, it's explicitly at the same time, a focus on the one-time sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. It does not call us to go and shed the blood of whomever is unlovely around us. If someone is going to be a fool and a cretin, they'll find a way to do it, with or without the backing of the traditional doctrines of the church.

Once again, I believe that what we are faced with is another version of the Humanitarian Question. Do we have to choose between theological orthodoxy and compassion? Do we have to give up an iota of Pauline or Johannine scriptural doctrine, of the writings of Augustine or the Book of Concord, lest we become some kind of uncaring brute? Does all talk of social injustices have to be seen as a distraction from the business of the church? I say there is no need to turn our backs on either Truth or Love.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Inside joke for povray enthusiasts

threed14de07, originally uploaded by pterandon.

This red-cyan anaglyph was made in povray. It makes a little inside joke for those familiar with how blobs work. All four characters are essentially the same "blob" construction, they vary only in the threshold. So when I put the same negative strength cylinder cutting them like a bullet hole, it has much more effect on the skinny one, the one with the higher threshold.

I guess some jokes are made even worse by explaining them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Voodoo scientists attack all religion.

The April 2009 podcast of IEEE Spectrum Radio featured a segment entitled, "Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science". It featured a lengthy interview with Robert L. Park, a writer that was bothered by the harm that superstitious belief places on society. The problem was that in an attempt to debunk bad science, IEEE devoted itself to an unscientific, philosophical rant against all belief.

Among Park's repeated complaints was that "90% believe." He was bothered that 90% of Americans express belief in some kind of God. He said that this was "disproven", but the main evidence was in reference to creation. Surely, most of what "Young Earth Creationism" is about can easily be disproven. Yet there are at least three ways that Christians approach the concept of "God created the heavens and the earth." One is the stereotypical Young Earth Creationism. But there are other varieties. Some folks believe in a Young Earth but one with Appearance of Age. Others are Old Earth Creationists. Still others, like John Paull II, could be described as Theistic Evolutionists. So many flavors, so many nuances. Have all of these been disproven? Some are actually un-disprov-able! Failure to fully investigate the sociological nuances of his subject makes this piece by Spectrum Radio merely bad philosophy.

He did make a reference to prayer. I think he was critiquing a Gospel of Prosperity moreso than the traditional view of Christianity. This underscores my hunch that to many nontheists, the gospel of prosperity, theology of glory is held the correct view of Christian faith and the bible. Rubbish.

He decried the necessity to "compartmentalize" one's belief, between science and religion. I'm wondering if scientists themselves ever do this. Isn't it said that quantum mechanics and gravity are incompatible? How about particle and wave nature of photon & electron? Scientists have to compartmentalize beliefs all the time. I don't insist that the wave nature of photons explains every phenomenon that I run across.

Hey IEEE, why don't you provide some balance here? You made a philosophical rant with little science followed by an altar call to nontheism. How about you invite an Old Earth Creationist to give a little rant (with some scientific tidbits added) and follow up with an altar call to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pollster.com ad on party affiliation

I don't have much to say about this poll. I just thought it was cool that I have a blog where I can make use of embed tags!

Baby sea turtles victimized by plastic debris.

Let's be careful out there with plastic litter.
Found these at the The Sea Turtle Restoration Project

Friday, May 08, 2009

procedurally generated cities

Here are some instructions on how to make a procedurally generated city in povray.

1) There are mathematical functions which vary between 0 at 1 in space.   They are smooth, in that any two points close together are likely to be similar, but random, in that any two points far apart are unlikely to be similar.  Here is a black and white representation of one such "noise function".  There are millions of ways to make the noise-- you can have ones where the gradations are steeper or more jagged or more linear or whatever.

2) One can take this noise function into some 3D programs (here, povray) and view the isosurface-- where every point of dark and light responds to some degree of elevation:

3) One can even "terrace" the isosurface.  I set up a step function here were every value below a certain threshold is a constant value, whereas the surface varies proportionally to the value above that limit.

4) And then texture it to make it look like a landscape. 
I made the flat area like a sea, gave the "shorelines" a sandy texture, and put green mountains at the highest values.

5) Why not make some cities! Take the same isofunction and terrace it a bit differently:

6) Then texture it like a city, with pools, stone terraces, blue windows, and rooftop gardens. This is what I think is quite cool.
It is an interesting exercise, in that it allows one to design a living space that completely conforms to the geometry of the landscape without knowing the landscape beforehand.   Couldn't you imagine some loony millionaires or students at progressive college campus wanting to live like this?


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fox News lying through cropping.


3D Anaglyphs in povray, the way they're supposed to look!

What is a blog but a serial diary of your progress towards a goal? ;-)

3d4 from pterandon on Vimeo.

I had been wondering why the blue component of my attempts at anaglyphs in povray never looked right. I did some more reading on anaglyphs and saw that they are often red-CYAN, not red-BLUE. So with a little programming tweaking, I was able to set it up to be a red-cyan anaglyph. And I think they look great!

Once again, for the best effect, follow through the link to Vimeo to see it full screen.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Improved red-blue 3d anaglyph, one-pass rendering in povray

3d3 from pterandon on Vimeo.

Here is an improved version of the output from my algorithm for making anaglyphs in povray. It is done as a one-pass render, no post-processing required.

[Edit: Note that this still from the timeframe in which I was making red-blue anaglyphs instead of red-cyan. I'm leaving this in the historical record, because perhaps some day someone will want to know what a red-blue anaglyph looks like! ]

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Early, faulty versions of a one-pass 3D anaglyphs in povray

Here's my psuedocode for how one can make 3D anaglyphs in povray. Get your red/green glasses and go to the Vimeo site to see it fullscreen! As is the case for most great coding efforts in povray, I couldn't have done it without a pointer from Mike Williams. It requires the Megapov patch of povray.

[Edit: I now realize that these have a mistake in how they are generated. These next few postings are literally red-blue anaglyphs, but most folks have red-cyan glasses. Check later entries of the blog for further improvements.]

3d2 from pterandon on Vimeo.

Monday, May 04, 2009

1 Mei demonstratie in Amsterdam / Demonstration on the first of May held in Amsterdam

1 Mei demonstratie in Amsterdam / Demonstration on the first of May held in Amsterdam
Originally uploaded by Nationaal Archief.

Here's a photo that showed up in the rotation on the Flickr Commons front page. It appears to be a march of some sort of Danish Communist Party. A bunch of comfortable-looking, long-haired youth are marching with hammer and sickle flags.

This photo struck me as being especially tragic. Not that I have sympathy for the communists, but because no one does. Most people would think it an evil thing to have participated in a commie rally in the 1970's. I think that even those with an extremely large, bleeding heart would find it something stupid. My ultimate reaction when seeing this was, "Why couldn't they have expended effort on something that could have lasted?"

Suppose they had a conviction that the poor masses of the earth were mistreated. Perhaps if instead they had spent their youth working in the church for John-Newton-style conversions, doing direct charity, educating workers, or even organizing nonviolent admonition of oppressors-- then history might look back on you and smile. Even if you got the same group among your elder contemporaries upset. But expend your efforts on an extreme political party, and history's reaction will range from hatred to extreme pity.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I am winner!

I am the winner of the January 2009 Round of the TC-RTC Animations competition. You can see all the remaining entries that I beat out by clicking on those links. Oh, um, but wait, I was the only entry :"-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hansen's faulty 1988 predictions of global warming.

Once again, I was in an online discussion with some conservatives who were upset about their denomination getting involved in the issue of global warming. They pointed out how it had been shown that the models for global warming are faulty. The 1988 models from James Hansen's Senate testimony were unable to predict the warming that occurred, so we really cannot trust the models today. We really cannot re-order our economic life around predictions that have shown themselves to be faulty.

The problem is that this is all based on a lie. I don't know who started it. Many people may have repeated verbatim information that they got second-hand or third-hand because they trusted the philosophical worldview of the people who were pushing the propaganda. What is the lie?

Here is an example. The example cited to me was the written testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee of John Christy on 25 February 2009. In this public document is a graph comparing James Hansen's 1988 predictions against the actual data. Here's a plot:

Note how the plot purports to be from James Hansen in 1988. Note how there are curves for a Scenario A and Scenario B. They are practically on top of each other.

Look at Hansen's actual 1988 data:

See how the portion of the curve from 1990 to 2010 shows a significant variation between Scenario A and Scenario B. Isn't that special? So, the global warming skeptics are running around telling us that the models in the past were completely unreliable, but then make false claims about what the old models were.

So how does the 1988 curve stack up against the actual data? Here's a plot:
(I hope it does not count as bandwidth stealing if I tell you the above figure comes from the Real Climate blog's article, Hansen’s 1988 projections. The Scenario B lines up pretty well.

John Christy's report says,
"We utilize energy from carbon, not because we are bad people, but because it is the affordable foundation on which the profound improvements in our standard of living have been achieved – our progress in health and welfare."

The problem here is with a view of original sin. If we cannot see the possibility that sin creeps into any aspect of our lives, even our energy use, then we've fallen into Antinomianism. The 1960's showed us the societal impacts of sexual libertinism; as we climb up the curves in Hansen's 1988 plots, we'll see the societal impacts of economic libertinism.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Overheard on the soccer field.

"Floyd Patterson may not have been one of boxing's greatest heavyweights. He may have been one of its greatest gentlemen."

I just heard this on the ESPN Classic network program, "Who's Number 1?" That comment is a backdrop to the story I'm about to tell. On the soccer field for a league for 3rd graders, I overheard an exchange between a man and a woman, whom I believe were parents of different children on the same team. I didn't hear what the woman said. But the man replied,
"There is no polite in soccer. In fact, there's no sport where you're supposed to be polite."

If I understand the mentality, it is a very tragic and pitiful one, especially if it motivates how you lead elementary age children in sports programs. I believe it means that in sports, in the real world, you're either "impolite" or you're a sissy. How sad. I immediately thought of the difference between "passive," "aggressive," and "assertive," and wondered what "sportsmanship" meant if you didn't have to be worried about being polite. I later thought about the concept of "honor" and "chivalry" in warfare, where apparently you were able to be very "polite" to persons you were trying to kill. Then when I was flipping channels, I heard the quote above touting gentlemanliness in boxing, of all sports.

The attitude of the man stands in contrast to the reputation and life work of Floyd Patterson. It's more like that of Mike Tyson.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mechsim patch in povray

The program povray has a patch called MegaPov. It adds some pretty cool features to povray's basic abilities. One of them is the mechsim patch.

I dusted off an old project where I made some giant, rubbery blocks fall on the head of our hero, an object constructed out of povray blobs. It makes for a faily entertaining if not realistic show:

Mind you that the path expects objects to be made in a certain way, an iso, and a blob is not one of them. The fact that it works at all with blobs is pretty cool. But the limitation proves fatal for realism if you try to press it too far.

Here's an attempt to have M.I.M.E. Man punch the blocks out of his way. His arms get caught on the vertices of the falling blocks. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. But perhaps viewers can try out the patch and do some pretty interesting things with more simple geometries. Or if you know a way to code the SDL for the patch to work better, please drop me a note or comment in the blog. thanks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Exoplanet transit of the star Sirius

Here is a project I did in povray. It makes use of media and a simple disc to simulate the sun. The planets look like they are lit by the sun, but simply have a gradient texture to simulate the color patterns you'd get on a planet.

BTW, this is just an artistic simulation, not the real thing, in case you were wondering. :)