Monthly Archives: May 2009

DVDs suck. All the time. In all ways.

I swear, you are all a bunch of pod people, you consumers. You take whatever crap is dished out, and pay extra for it. When the DVD was produced to replace the tape (VHS) there was a significant down grade in performance in every single way but one. These downgrades were entirely unnecessary. The downgrades were implemented for two closely related purposes: Marketing and marketing.

You know what I’m talking about. You can’t pop a DVD into a player and fast forward to a spot and watch the movie. You can’t even watch the movie, in many cases, until you’ve watched ads. You can’t que a DVD for later watching so that you can avoid the ads.

As an educator, this has meant that I’ve been unable to use DVDs in the classroom AT ALL!!! Well, if I were to pirate sections of a DVD and put them on my own DVD without ads and complex titles and menus, then maybe but of course, that would be illegal!!!

What brings up this rant? Well, I just bumped into a story about how the Astronauts on Atlantis were unable to watch some movies they had brought with them because they couldn’t get the DVD’s to work. They did not have the right codex or something. What is a codes you ask? A piece of software that someone is paying for that is designed to disable DVD functionality and make it hard to use the technology.

The falcon eats tonight …

My car was parked a block away owing to the plethora of construction equipment and dumpsters around the house. On my way over, I was looking at the storm clouds coming in and wondering what kind of weather we would have tonight, when I noticed the crows going nuts across the street. It sounded to me like they were mobbing something, and my first thought in these situations is “Great Horned Owl.” So I stood in the gathering breeze and watched in the direction of the crows to figure out what was going on.

Suddenly I spied rapid alate movement among the mid size trees and shrubbery of the vacant suburban lot across the way, but I could see that this was neither raptor nor crow. Then, a few more movements, and I discerned that I was observing a small flock of pigeons moving in perfect unison back and forth among the vegetation in two or three residential yards and the vacant lot. A strong burst of wind slapped me on the back and made me look up, and that is when I saw it.

Continue reading The falcon eats tonight …

The Asus/Windows Maneno: Was it a hoax?

The dust-up regarding Asus corp and Windows, recently discussed here, is definitely a (well-enough executed) hoax, acording to JH at Linux in Exile:

I got burned this week; I actually believed the hoax that ASUS and Microsoft teamed up, and that an page was linking to a It’s Better With Windows site.

But looking at it again, I’m convinced it’s a hoax. And you should be, too. Here are a few obvious telltales:

See JH’s full explanation here.

Bart Ehrman: God’s Problem. Athests Talk #0072, Sunday May 31, 2009

Bart Ehrman is a scholar of The Bible and has published popular works at a rapid clip on the subjects of theodicy and the literary history of the books some refer to as “Scripture.” He was an evangelical who believed that The Episcopalian Church in which he was raised was too tame on the teachings of Jesus’ Word of Salvation. Dedicating himself to the study of the original Greek versions of the Gospels and New Testaments in order to better understand the word of God, he made the discovery that (Whoops!) the Bible couldn’t be an inerrant instruaction manual. There were too many inconsistencies, too many obvious copying errors in the translastions and too many differences in the theologies contained within the books we call the New Testament for it to be a coherent work of God. He has since become agnostic, strongly convinced that even if there be a Creator it is certainly not the one painted by our Christian religions.

Scott Lohman and Grant Steves bring their intellectual prowess to bear in discussing the books of Bart Ehrman for this program. Grant and Scott are both impressed by Ehrman’s writing, and they are entertaining thinkers and speakers on the subjecs of literature and theology. This is sure to be a fun show as they discuss Ehrman’s books.

Listen to AM 950 KTNF on Sunday at 9AM Central to hear Atheists Talk produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call the studio at 952-946-6205 or email us at

Where did God go?

The Source is a novel by James A. Michener. It is actually a fun novel to read if you have any interest in the history of the middle east.

One of the themes in the novel is the relationship between god and humans. In the earlier part of the history described in this book, god has an intimate relationship with humans, and often manifests as a burning bush in order to speak with specific humans that god might be interested in. But over time the humans get less interesting and god gets into other things, and the whole burning bush thing becomes less and less frequent and eventually, there are no more burning bushes and there is no other contact with god. What is left behind is a belief in god but god is pretty much out of the picture.

Now, we have a new documentary on line that re-explains this model for the god-human interaction thing in modern philosophical terms. Grrrrrrrl Scccccienist has it posted on her blog, here. Please go have a look. You will love it.

Go look at that, then come back and watch this other very insightful video:
Continue reading Where did God go?

Don’t be such a scientist

Randy Olson is a film maker and marine biologist who has focused in recent years on the critique of science communication. You may know him from his documentary work on the sexual practices of barnacles, the evolution-creation debate, or global warming.

Randy is coming out with a new book, Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style. It will be available sometimes in August.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

“Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style” has been 30 years in the making. It draws on Randy Olson’s 15 years as a scientist (Ph.D. Harvard University, tenured professor at University of New Hampshire), followed by 15 years of making films (In 1994 he resigned from his marine biology professorship in, moved to Hollywood, entered film school, and took acting classes). The book opens with the pivotal moment in his journey — his first night of acting class when his psychotic acting teacher screamed her lungs out at him for being, “too cerebral.” Thus began his journey of realization that came full circle when he returned to working with scientists and science communicators, and began to concede his acting teacher wasn’t as crazy as he originally thought.

In this short book he draws together what he’s learned about communicating science to the general public, and offers up his observations in the form of four main chapters which he calls, “The Admonitions.” They are:

  1. Don’t Be So Cerebral
  2. Don’t Be So Literal Minded
  3. Don’t Be Such a Poor Storyteller
  4. Don’t Be So Unlikeable

In an effort to practice what he preaches, Olson infuses the book with plenty of humor, storytelling, and even a little bit of emotion.

My review copy is on the way, and I’m looking forward to reading it and letting you know more!

Learning the bash shell, continued

This is a repost of a review that is timely, given this week’s focus on setting up your Linux server and changing all your computers over to Linux and so on.

i-30a1e0366512a8ac50ae2cf969f02d73-learning_bash_shell.jpgI started this discussion a while back, and now it is time to continue it.

The Bourne Again Shell, bash, is the default command-line shell in Ubuntu and many *nix (Unix, Linux, etc.) systems. You can think of the shell as the most direct way to get into your operating system, and you can think of shell scripts (‘programs’ in essence) as macros that can automate computerized tasks.
Continue reading Learning the bash shell, continued

Are Japanese Scientists Making Frankenmonkeys?

From the BBC:

Genetically modified primates that glow green and pass the trait on to their offspring could aid the fight against human disease.

They will also be easier to find when they escape.

Though primates that make a glowing protein have been created before, these are the first to keep the change in their bloodlines.

Future modifications could lead to treatments for a range of diseases.

The “transgenic” marmosets, created by a Japanese team, have been described in the journal Nature.

This means the every generation, scientists can change the monkey more and more until they get …. potentially extreme results.

Do the Japanese scientists not watch their own movies????

Wow, what a trip. That is honestly the first time I’ve seen that since it first came out. I’m going to have to rent the DVD….

Danny Hauser’s Web Site Is Back Up (I think)

Danny Hauser, 13 year old shaman with cancer, recently returned from foray from the courts with his mother, now in treatment, had a web site dedicated to raising money for his ‘treatment’ (seemingly for the CAM part of his treatment … he is otherwise covered by insurance). That site was taken down early today or late yesterday, with the comment from the Hauser’s lawyer that it would stay down until certain “ramifications” were explored.

So, I was poking around this afternoon looking for ramifications and stuff, and instead found that the site is back up.

Since the last site disappeared without a trace, I made a copy of this one as soon as I found it.

Among other things, the site says:

Continue reading Danny Hauser’s Web Site Is Back Up (I think)

Diversified Linux Resources

Following on this earlier post, here are links to on line resources that would aid in building, configuring, and using a Linux based computer.


Systems and related information:

Shell Scripting:

Advanced concepts:

New Chinese Winged Kitty Cat

Winged kitty cats are not unheard of in China, but a new alate feline is always news.

The winged cats can not fly, of course, or you would have heard about them before. They would be like these flying killer sharks.

Scientists have narrowed down the explanation for the growth of these wings as environmental, or genetic, or developmental.

…scientists believe the appendages developed due to grooming habits, a genetic defect or a hereditary skin condition.

…. keep us posted on that, scientists.

Source is MSNBC, hat tip to Rebecca Skloot.

Asus PC Eee PC paid off by Microsoft to Screw Linux …

… or so it would seem…. UPDATE: Or, this could be a fake. See comments.

The Asus PC Eee PC was designed specifically to run LInux. The idea is in part to make a very inexpensive globally (more or less) accessable open source system so all the poor children around the world who happen to have a hundred bucks could have a PC just like you do.

Now, Microsoft and Asus have teamed up to produce an ad campaing providing what amounts to a series of lies about the hardware/software combo, claiming that “Windows is Better” on this PC (better than Linux, that is).

Is it Ethical? No doubt. What passes for ethics in our society is often absurd. Is it Really Ethical, like if there were a god would you go to hell for this? No, of course it is not Really Ethical. You would definitely go to hell.

You can go here to read about it, and there you will find the dumb-ass movie they made, and links to the original butt-ugly site they produced.