Thursday, August 31, 2006
I've owned and enjoyed the first Animusic DVD for a couple of years now, so yesterday I picked up Animusic 2 as an impulse buy at Fry's, and I'm glad I did.
Animusic 2 is very cool. Highly recommended. My favorite tracks are Starship Groove (see the YouTube embed below) and Pogo Sticks, followed closely by Cathedral Pictures (Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition).
Here's a good article: Inside Animusic's Astonishing Computer Music Videos
The YouTube embed below only gives an idea of Animusic. It is a not-quite complete promotional clip of Starship Groove. Check out the samples at the Animusic site for a better idea of the quality of this thing, and then imagine it on the larger screen. (Our TV is just an old 27 inch cheapie, so I can only imagine the experience with a nice, modern big-screen.)
I won't wait so long to buy Animusic 3 whenever it's released.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Controversial UT professor warns of Earth's end:
He says he tries to reduce his imprint on the Earth, but not as much as some of his friends, who've replaced their cars with bikes. In the end, Pianka said, it doesn't really matter.Good article.
C. Herb Ward, who teaches in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at Rice University, said there is widespread agreement in the scientific community that humans have placed great stress on the natural environment.Who am I to argue with any professor, but no, they are no more value judgements than for one to observe that the car will be better off with regular maintenance, and that without regular maintenance it is the owner's fault when the car deteriorates.
"Man hasn't helped the ecology," he said. "I think most ecologists would say the world is overpopulated."
But the conclusions one draws from that assessment — whether and how to reduce population growth, who's to blame for the current state of affairs — are value judgments, Ward said.
Too bad the HTML page title sucks. Pianka doesn't say anything about the Earth's end. In fact, he talks about it going on to an improved state once humanity's numbers have been reduced by its walk over the cliff.
"I think we're going to be cavemen again because we're too stupid to head it off," he said.Well, my own sense doesn't have us going back quite that far, but as he says, it doesn't really matter.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Nasrallah sorry for scale of war
"We did not think that there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war of this scale and magnitude," Sheikh Nasrallah said.So, the war was because Hezbollah got the calculus wrong? This reinforces the notion that proportionality in war is a mistake.
"Now you ask me if this was 11 July and there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war like the one that has taken place, would you go ahead with the kidnapping?
"I would say no, definitely not, for humanitarian, moral, social, security, military and political reasons.
"Neither I, Hezbollah, prisoners in Israeli jails and nor the families of the prisoners would accept it."
John Perry Barlow's "Sympathy for The Devil" comes to mind. Barlow was trying to come up with some explanation for what he observed, not endorsing it. Who knows, now maybe he'd endorse it.
When someone uses the term "femi-nazi" to refer to women of a political persuasion different from their own, it immediately tells me that I am probably not the slightest bit interested in that person's opinions on anything.
The sort of conservatism characterized by the use of "femi-nazi" is a controlling conservatism whose adherents seem usually to proclaim the grip of myth, who project excessive self-assurance and contempt for contrary worldviews.
I don't like that shit, dittohead.
Mainstreaming Irresponsibility: The "Plan B" Pill by Steve Bowers
"Planned Parenthood" is liberal-speak for abortion mill, ...No, it's not. Less than 10% of Planned Parenthood clients receive abortions. Planned Parenthood does not shy away from referring clients to adoption agencies. Planned Parenthood prevents abortions by providing contraception information and services.
At least this guy didn't use the detestable term, "abortion business".
A couple of questions for Gandy and the other members of the anti-responsibility, free love crowd: How is taking massive doses of a drug designed to prevent and abort pregnancy healthy for your reproductive system?What's that got to do with anything? The reason to take Plan B is to prevent pregnancy (a dangerous condition in itself). Plan B is not a vitamin pill.
If she can get past that one perhaps she can answer this one: Why do folks like Gandy think that it is perfectly okay for 13-year-olds to be having sex and taking pills designed to prevent the natural consequences of sex without the knowledge or consent of their parents?Who thinks it's OK for 13-year-olds to be having sex? That's a canard. As for knowledge and consent of parents, it's unfortunate that not all parents conform to the ideal which might have avoided things getting to this point in the first place, and sometimes a parent is simply not around when needed. Sometimes, too, unfortunately, a parent's influence is precisely the last thing a minor needs.
Finally, how is taking a pill AFTER having sex to prevent the natural consequence of sex "contraception" and not just a total lack of personal responsiblity for your actions? Forget about actually having to THINK about what you are doing BEFORE you do it.Well, because prevention of pregnancy is contraception by definition. As for the lack of responsibility that he seems to think is the only reason one might need Plan B, hey, people are people. We don't always act responsibly. Get over it and try to reduce harm.
Just take a pill that screws with your reproductive cycle AFTER irresponsible sex and everything's cool.That is a worrisome point. Molly dealt with it pretty well, I thought, in her post, "Too little, too soon". I agree with Molly that the answer is not in taking Plan B off the shelves. The answer lies in education, which, if parents were always as competent as this author seems to assume, might not be as much of an issue.
And this is what it's ultimately all about: Free sex for all "women" without consequences. If it happens to result in the death of a potential human being that's okay. "Plan B" is just another part of the abortionists holy sacrament that the FDA, with the full knowledge and support of the Bush Administration, just whole-heartedly endorsed."Abortionist's holy sacrament"?
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Gangster No. 1 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last night, as I flipped through the channels before heading to bed, I landed on IFC at the beginning of this British gangster flick and was hooked.
This is one hell of a movie. Looking at reviews this morning I see I am not the only one to have thought of A Clockwork Orange and Sexy Beast as I watched it. I also thought of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake, but there was nothing funny about this flick.
There was a lot to admire about this movie, particularly the performance by Paul Bettany. Hell, all of the performances were great, but Bettany's portrayal of an absolutely intimidating psycho was something else entirely.
The Brits make some pretty good movies.
Friday, August 25, 2006
California Hemp Bill Passes Final Senate and Assembly Votes; AB 1147 Heads to Governor's Desk for Signature - Yahoo! News
There are already half a dozen or more states with similar laws, yet there is no domestic hemp production because of the federal War on Some Drugs. Part of me wants Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign this bill into law, irrespective of the supremacy of the federal Controlled Substances Act, even if only to spit in the fed's eye. He told them to piss off with respect to stem cells and he should do the same with respect to industrial hemp.
What really needs to happen is the repeal of prohibition. I wonder whether passage of the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act might somehow delay that day.
Were I Californian this would be a letter to the Governor asking for his signature on the bill.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
On Tuesday, Anousheh Ansari was confirmed as the replacement for Japanese businessman Daisuke Enomoto as a fare-paying passenger onboard the next Russian rocket mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Lift-off for the Soyuz capsule that will carry Mrs Ansari and two members of the next ISS crew is scheduled for 14 September from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
In her quest to fly in space, Mrs Ansari, co-founder of Texas-based Telecom Technologies, helped seed the development of a private spaceflight industry by donating $10m for the X-Prize competition, which was awarded in 2004 for the first pair of suborbital manned flights.
Too bad for Mr. Enomoto, but if he gets to go later he'll probably get to take the new 90-minute spacewalk option.
The old silver lining? I hope so. May whatever ails him resolve itself soon.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Ironwolf links to a BBC series I'd missed, and includes links to the Google videos. If you prefer, you can download a DVD image (or the individual pieces) from Archive.org.
The comment I left Ironwolf is
Good tip. Thanks. I downloaded the DVD image from archive.org, burned it and watched it earlier today. BBC is one of my top news sources but somehow I missed it.Good series. Check it out.
I can’t quarrel with the series too much (not that I’m particularly well qualified to do so anyway). It’s consistent with what I think has gone on and is going on, though I do think they’re a little cavalier toward the end. I gather they updated the series after the London bombings, but the update wasn’t on the DVD image.
That the islamists seem driven by myth while the neocons are just pragmatic about it would lead me to side with (if I had to choose and while holding my nose) the latter. Unfortunately, I don’t have much hope for a return to the days the producers point out were led by people chosen for their vision rather than their nightmare.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Drug warriors claim successes like price spikes, cultivators on the run, that guerrillas and paramilitaries running the trade are weaker and Colombia is more stable.
Yet recent data show the following results:While McDonald's, NBC and the DEA propagandize in Chicago,
- As much coca is cultivated today in Colombia as was grown at the start of the large-scale aerial fumigation effort in 2000, according to State Department figures.
- Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, the leading sources of coca and cocaine, produce more than enough cocaine to satisfy world demand, and possibly as much as in the mid-1990's, the United Nations says.
- In the United States, the government's tracking over the past quarter century shows that the price of cocaine has tumbled and that purity remains high, signs that the drug is as available as ever.
Even the most optimistic [drug policy analysts] see the drug war as just about holding the line.The UN seem to be even bigger bullshitters than the US:
But by any estimate, the amount of cocaine produced vastly exceeds demand, so much so that even headline-grabbing seizures do not cut deeply enough into the supply to affect price or availability. That has been the case for years.
Not all the news is bad. The latest United Nations estimates, released in June, show a 28 percent decline in the coca crop for the three Andean countries since Plan Colombia began.But
State Department figures are far gloomier than those of the United Nations, a disparity attributed to different satellite measurements and a broader survey done last year by the United States that covered 81 percent more area in Colombia and found still more coca.The stupidest goddamn thing is how they credit fumigation with reducing violence by beefing up security in many towns. Gee, I wonder what would have happened if they'd beefed up security in many towns without fumigating?
After swift declines in the late 1990's, the figures show, coca plantings in Peru and Bolivia are actually on the rise. Total acreage in the Andes is now higher than in 2000, and covers as much ground as it did in 1997, the equivalent of half of Delaware.
The United Nations sees the data as distressing, illustrating the need to add a state presence in lawless coca-growing regions while providing lasting alternatives to poor farmers, something Plan Colombia devotes far less money to.What kind of alternative are they going to provide the poor farmers? This makes me want to scream. There is no better alternative from the farmer's point of view, and the only reason this is so is prohibition.
As things are, we're accomplishing nothing except to piss off the people. Stupid stupid stupid.
I am a conscientious objector in the War on Some Drugs.
Friday, August 18, 2006
I tend to think that proportionality in war is a mistake. I have some sympathy for the point of view expressed in On the Virtues of Killing Children about the unnatural wisdom of hardened hearts.
Proportionality in war increases the odds of war, or so it seems to me.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Husband Takes Schiavo Fight Back to Politicians - New York Times
It's a shame that the authors of this otherwise good article still associate Terri Schiavo's death with the removal of the feeding tube. They write
Hence the creation last winter of TerriPAC, a federal political action committee aimed against politicians who tried to stop Ms. Schiavo's death, and the debut of Mr. Schiavo, a newly remarried, self-described normal guy, as a political weapon in this year's midterm elections.Emphasis mine.
The phrase "stop Ms. Schiavo's death" is incorrect. The thing that defines a living person is the person's brain activity. Terri Schiavo was long since dead. Only her body lingered. Writers should chose words that reflect this fact. I'd suggest something like "... against politicians who tried extreme measures to override state court outcomes, ...".
Ms. Schiavo's parents, who adamantly opposed her death and rejected Mr. Schiavo's claim that she would have wished it, had pleaded with Congress and President Bush to intervene.They weren't opposing her death. She was already dead.
Michael Schiavo is starting a political action committee, TerriPAC. Online donations are easy.
The Schindlers and their surviving children, Bobby and Suzanne, are raising money through the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation Center for Health Care Ethics, a nonprofit group whose stated goal is to protect "the rights of disabled, elderly and vulnerable citizens against care rationing, euthanasia and medical killing."Against health care rationing, eh? Might as well stand against the tide. One way or another, health care is rationed. What these people are against, I think, is rational health care rationing.
Euthanasia AND medical killing? I suppose they're also against suicide AND self-annihilation.
Again, they might as well stand against the tide. One way or another, euthanasia will occur, and its use will increase. It'll just remain hidden if the Schindler's foundation has its way.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Lord Phillips of Sudbury described RIPA as a 'hair-raising' piece of legislation and expressed reservations about the effect the powers being given to police would have.OK, so I'll turn over the key to my encrypted files, but not to the hidden archive contained in the archive. Open source: TrueCrypt
'You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy by undermining them,' he said. 'That's the road to hell.'
Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:
1) Hidden volume (steganography – more information may be found here).
2) No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data).
Saturday, August 12, 2006
"There is also a slide show of photos of people whose deaths are linked to drugs in some way.What?
Among them is Jay Balchunas, a Wisconsin Department of Justice investigator who was killed in 2004 in a gas station robbery while on his way to a drug investigation."
If he'd died of an aneurism on his way to a drug investigation it would be equally relevant. I'm sorry the guy died, but come on, what bullshit. Par for the theme I suppose.
"Whoever has meandered about between the gigantic stone labia and climbed the 10 meter (33 feet) marble phallus probably feels a little less repressed afterwards."Hmmm... OK.
When I first took an interest in surgery (I'm not a surgeon - I just watch them on TV) I had to force myself to watch for the first 15 minutes or so. After that I was largely desensitized, which doesn't mean I enjoyed it any more, just that it became easier to do.
Too bad so many societies seem to screw up people's heads with respect to sex. Maybe I shouldn't, but I feel sorry for young people in this land of the free. If a girl's not "hot" or a guy isn't studly they lose out, while the pressure to be that way leads to serious health or behavioral problems for some.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
That sort of thing (hired PR guns posing) is to be expected, I suppose.
I'm still looking for some explanation of the omission by CNN of the final sentence supposedly appearing in the email from the Canadian UN peacekeeper killed in Lebanon. What's up with that? as they say. I described what I'm referring to starting in the fourth paragraph of this comment a few days ago. I've seen nothing from CNN on the matter, and all I've found so far is noise involving Salon, Kos, Huffington and a few others.
I tend to think the side that says Hezbollah operates from among civilians and UN peacekeepers is probably right, if only for the simple reason that Hezbollah would be swatted like flies by the IDF if they didn't, and because doing so causes Israel heavy PR losses when they kill people exposed by Hezbollah's presence among them. I suppose that's why they call it asymmetric warfare.
A month ago I unenrolled from the Republican Party. I want to tell you why.
It's because the Republicans he joined when he found the other party to be a "moral orgy" turned out to be a big tent that doesn't reflect Jesus' commands. Mike is a social conservative who wants to ram his morals down other people's throats.
Look. Christians either condemn sex outside of marriage, and work for laws that do the same, or we stop pretending on Sunday mornings. Christianity is either good for every part of our lives, or it isn't real.Hmmm...
"..., and work for laws that do the same, ..."
Work for laws...
"Christianity is either good for every part of our lives, ...
Everyone who thinks like Mike should leave the Republican party. If the Republicans became a little more like Goldwater then maybe I'd join them. In the meantime, the unnatural alliance of libertarians and fundies turns me off.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Public funding for energy research across the world has halved in real terms since 1980, and in the UK it is now one-tenth of what it used to be.There could be a lot lurking in that statement, but if even remotely correct (and I'm sure it is) it's enough to drive one nuts in the face of regular expenditures for wars of various sorts. The War on Some Drugs is particularly galling. I wonder what might have been accomplished on the energy front with some significant fraction of the US$60,000,000,000 (or thereabouts) wasted annually in the War on Some Drugs by the United States.
"None of the kinds of energy that we can produce now routinely are going to really be sustainable in the long run at the scale we need."If anyone doubts the truth of that statement maybe they should try to critique a presentation given by the departed Nobelist Dr. Richard Smalley. Here it is, near the top of Smalley's Rice University page.
The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2030 global energy demand will increase by 50%.I hope the IEA's prediction comes true because, if it does, it'll mean that humanity is still muddling along and that my son's generation will have had a chance to approach middle age. I hate to write this, but as I squint at political, religious, environmental, demographic and other trends, I simply can't muster more than 50/50 odds for the IEA's prediction.
What a bummer man.