June 27, 2002

True grit

Michael Newdow brought a lawsuit claiming the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional. Most people blinded by equating religious ferver with true patriotism would rightly claim that Mr. Newdow is undermining the American society. A more rational approach would reveal that the Constitution makes no mention of God. George Washington who was not a church-goer added "so help me God" to oath of office. Mr. Newdow is not asking for a change in the American spirit to accomodate his atheism. He is simply asking that the recently found (about 50 years ago) religious enthusiasm be rolled back out of the public square. His complaint is not against the use of "under God" in the pledge. He is against the forced use of the pledge in public schools. You are welcome to pray to any God in any manner you may wish but dont force his children to listen to it with his tax money. We can only pray the Supreme Court will have the courage to examine this issue for its truth. (aah pray. the touch of irony, my job here is done)

Posted at 10:06 PM

Ann Coulter

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war
-- Ann Coulter, formerly of the National Review

The first I've heard/seen of Ms Coulter was on hardball last night. She was on to promote her new book. To say "she made an ass of her self" would be insulting the ass. Her facial expressions ranged from those of a petulant 2-yr old smarting at being told she was wrong to a noticeably angered woman frustrated at her inability to hold her own. The segment ended with Ann squirming in her chair her face betraying the lightning, thunderstorms, skulls and bones any caricaturist would have loved to add to a cartoon. All the while she remained adamant that she was on to promote her book and must not be held to any meaningful intellectual debate.

Debates and verbal duels are usually fun and interesting. People use all the tools in their 'thought-box' to maneuver their opponents to traps of contradictions and failures of logic. Unfortunately more often than not interlocuters resort to use of argumentam ad misericondiams (appeal to pity) and other emotion traps to argue their case. Take current uproar over the use of "under God" in the pledge of allegiance. The folks against the ruling use one of two arguments.

a) The founding fathers are turning in their graves. This argument is fallacious because the "under God" phrase was added in the 1950's. Secondly the founding fathers wanted freedom from religious persecution for the citizens of the United States. Most importantly it doesnt matter what the founding fathers would think. This is a good example of how people use appeal to emotion to divert attention from their logic. The appeals court decision was based on use of coercion to promote religion. Their ruling explicitly stated how the logic was used to determine their decision. They didnt make their decision on whim or fancy.

b) Video clips of small children holding their hands on their chests. These pictures are supposed to show the jurists in bad light. Oh look, all this uproar over small children. While the initial court case was filed against coercion in the class room the bigger picture is much much larger. This ruling is about the imposition of "God" in American society. So using children as bargaining chips in this argument is sad and unfortunate.

What do I think? I think if the founding fathers had progressed past deism they would most likely have ended up atheists. It was taken for granted that God existed even if we couldn't agree on the religion we would use to communicate with God. However, today we are not in agreement if God exists. This would explain the reasoning behind dropping the use of God in the pledge. However, given that God is lodged into every nook and cranny of the American ethos its an up hill battle and one that in the long run shouldnt make any difference.

Posted at 11:13 AM

June 26, 2002

A Camille Paglia reader

If you are a neophyte in the world of Camille Paglia then this guide may be of use to you.

Sandor Ferenczi: Hungarian psychologist who corresponded with Freud.

apotropaion - something used to ward off fears.

Heracleitus: greek philosopher known for his once derided theory that everything is connected. He believed that fire was the origin of all things.

chthonian of relating to the underworld

Dionysian vs Apollonian. Two fundamental impulses. Apollonian representing all that is good and harmonious. Dionysian alluding to the passion, change and destruction.

touchstone: the intrinsic property of any thing.

The daemonism of chthonian nature is the west's dirty secret. Modern humanists made the "tragic sense of life" the touchstone of mature understanding. They defines man's mortality and the transience of time as literature's supreme subjects. In this I again see evasion and even sentimentality. The tragic sense of life is a partial response to experience. It is a reflex of the wests's resistance to and misapprehension of nature, compounded by the errors of liberalism, which in its Romantic nature philosophy has followed the Rousseauist Wordsworth rather than the daemonic Coleridge

A little background might help. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (18th century) was the originator of "Romantic" sensibilities. He argued for the estabilishment of feeling rather than reason as the basis of theology and politics. Rousseau said we should "go back to nature" implying the primeval human being was in harmony with nature. His Social Contract became the inspiration of the leaders of the French revolution with its emphasis on participatory democracy. I am unsure how his words inspired the head-chopping, guillotine-using free-for-all.

All I know of Coleridge was that he was a opium addicted poet. Maybe if he had been addicted to meth or speed he might have more cheerful poetry?

Aeschylus, a 5th century B.C. playwright wrote the trilogy Oresteia
mimesis: imitation.
Euripides was another playwright and a peer of Aeschylus.
agon: conflict especially between protagonists of a literary work

Camille Paglia argues that western literary works possess suspence and climax unlike eastern works which are just horizontal events tied together. She finds parallel between the climax (the plot of the story) and the male sexual climax and blames this focus on the climax the result of male obsession with sexual climax. I disagree. There are plenty of eastern works that have a story and a plot, (Ramayana, Mahabharata) and frankly without a climax a story will be inspid. so there.

Camille goes on to state that in the East: buddhism, chinese philosophy what have you, yin-yang includes male/female balance of power. The Indian goddess Kali is both a creator and destroyer. In the west the last society to worship a female God was Minoan Crete. She says the pre-dominant influence turned out to be the warrior culture of the mycenaean. Camille mentions the Virgin Mary at another point but fails to use her as an example of female worship in the Western Culture. The Catholic church places Mary in an exalted position. This is not mirrored by the Eastern Orthodox church.

Camille presents a highly readable harangue on women and their unfortunate position in society. She brings in the concept of vagina dentata (vagina with teeth) that renders man less than what he was before his encounter with the female. Another excerpt:

Male homosexuality maybe the most valorous of attempts to evade the femme fatale and to defeat nature. By turning away from the Medusan mother, whether in honor or detestation of her, the male homosexual is one of the great forgers of absolutist western identity. But of course nature has won, as she always does, by making disease the price of promiscous sex
This excerpt riles me more than some of the other things Camille has said. Why is this logic any different than that of narrow minded religious fanatics who claim that disease is God's punishment for homosexual and promiscous people. In anycase disease is the price for unsafe sex not for promiscous sex.

Camille also talks about Michelangelo's Pieta which shows the young virgin mary holding her martyr son Jesus Christ. Camille weaves a tale of Oedipus and chthonian nature of woman and man's Freudian lust for his mother into this tale. She says this picture depicts as Freud claimed the man's primary incestual relation with his mother. It displays the woman chthonian nature with her offspring. Particularly striking is that Mary is young in the sculpture.

Athena: daughter of Zeus. Virgin goddess of intelligent activity, reason, art and literature. Born as a result of a splitting headache Zeus had. She sprung out of his forehead full grown in a suit of armor.

Diana and Actaeon - by TitianArtemis (aka Diana): daughter of Zeus. Virgin goddess of chastity, virginity, hunt, moon, and the natural environment. Twin sister of Apollo. The story of Diana and Actaeonis as follows: One day Acataeon while separated from his hunting party chanced upon Diana and her pre-menarche nymphs. She converted him into a stag and he was subsequently killed by his own hunting dogs. This myth reveals the Greek fear of females who they feared possesed the ability to capture and destroy them

Apollo: Son of Zeus. God of music, light and truth. Apollo drove his chariot (the sun) across the sky.
diana at versailles - the huntress
couvade Ritual in some cultures where the father , after his child is born takes to bed rest as if he was in labor.

Aphrodite: patron of love and beauty. Her birth is chronicled by Hesiod when Uranus's mutilated genitals come crashing into a body of water and splash the foam.

Some interesting quotes from Camille:

Zeus too is hermaphrodite: he has the power of self-insemination and procreation or conception which in English as in Latin has the double meaning of pregnancy and comprehension. Egyption Khepera, the mastrubatory first mover, is shown coiled in a uroboros-like circle, feet touch head from which leaps a tiny human figure

scatology: interest in or treatment of obscene material in literature
the biologically oriented study of excretement.

tumescence: The state of being tumescent(swollen) i.e. readiness for sexual activity. (vascular congestion of sexual organs == blood fills 'em up)

transubstantiation: the miracle by which the elements of the eucharist (bread and wine) become the body and blood of jesus during the catholic mass.

omophagy: eating of raw flesh.

Camille's theory:

Dionysus is identification, Apollo objectification. Dionysus is the empathic, the sympathetic emotion transporting us into other people, other places, other times. Apollo is the hard, cold separatism of western personality and categorical thought. Dionysus is energy , ecstasy, hysteria, promiscuity , emotionalism - heedless indiscriminateness of idea or practice. Apollo is obsessivesness, voyeurism, idolatry, fascism - frigidity and aggression of world seeking cathexis. Here, there everywhere , it invests itself in the perishable things of flesh, silk, marble and metal, materializations of mony is impossible. Our brains are split, and brain is split from the body. The quarrel between Apollo and Dionysus is the quarrel between the higher cortex and the older limbic and reptilian brains. Art reflects on and resolves the eternal human dilemma of order versus energy. In the west, Apollo and Dionysis strive for victory. Apollo makes the boundary lines that are civilization but that leads to convention, constraint, oppression. Dionysus is energy unbound, mad, callous, destructive, wasteful. Apollo is law, history, tradition, the dignity and safety of custom and form. Dionysus is the new, exhilarating but rude, sweeping all away to begin again. Apollo is a tyrant, Dionysus a vandal. Every excess breeds its counteraction. So western culture swings from point to point on its complex cycle, pouring forth its lavish tributes of art, word and deed. We have littered the world with grandiose achievements. Our story is vast, lurid, and unending.

Hermes by Praxiteles
Knidian Aphrodite by Praxiteles
Palaestra: Greek gymnasium
Phaedro: Plato shows how contemporary Greek thought revered the aesthetically pleasing.

Francesco Petrarch met Laura in Avignon. Her beauty captivated him and the Italian scholar wrote several poems addressing her beauty.

Dante met Beatrice (who was 9 years old) and composed several poems on her.

apotheosis: raise to divine status | perfect example

Sappho was on born on the NE Aegean island of Lesbos. Sappho was well known for her vast work of poems some of which have survived to this day. Her poem to Aphrodite may be one reason she is identified with the lesbian movement. While it is not obvious what her sexuality was (most likely bisexual) it has become an issue long after her death.

Catallusalso wrote a bunch of poems

Iphis is another example of the sexual confusion. Iphis was born a woman and then changed into a man so she could marry another girl.

Misc - somewhat related
An Upstate New York mother has her own opinion on Camille Paglia's Male urination really is a kind of accomplishment, an arc of transcendence
A good article on the end of feminism, or atleast as we once knew it.
Contemporary Critical Theory

Posted at 11:41 PM | Comments (1)

The religious equity market

A conversation with a friend this afternoon meandered into the world of equity markets. He expressed dismay at the nadir being skirted by a certain company and stated the opinion that he didnt reserve any hope that the stock would rebound. I retorted "have faith". Hardly had the words escaped my lips that the implication of my words dawned upon my impressionable mind. I mused that my suggestion was almost religious sounding. He replied that when choosing the place to put his faith he would go with God over the stock market. I noted that while we knew the stock market existed the same could not be categorically be said about God.

A few hours later it dawns upon me that the stock market and religion are similar in more ways than one. The stock market requires investment of cash/money. The religious market requires investment of time, perseverence and above all belief. Why do we play the markets? The stock markets because we expect returns on our investment. Our returns are usually increase in stock value and profits from sales of stock. The religious markets guarantee us bounties in the after life. Every now and then snake oil salesmen roll into town and offer us newer religions into which to invest our souls. Yes, very much like the dot-coms that pronounced the old old economy subservient to the new new new economy (or some repetition of new thereof).

Then there are some of us that dont play in that market!

Posted at 03:21 PM

June 25, 2002

Do the Dishes

A sudden thought occured to me just now? Why did I find Zen so appealing? Why didnt it slip down the abyss of religions along with Wicca, New Paganism? Why didnt the aura of New Age taint it to an extent that I dismissed it as another escape created by man to escape the harsh glare of reality?

My first foray into Zen (and its kin buddhism and Taoism) came in 2000 when I read about Buddha. There was a parable that was supposed to enlighten the reader about Buddhism was: "Imagine a man struck by an arrow. The arrow has penetrated deeply and blood flows gushes out with no respite. The primary thought in this man's mind is not 'where did this arrow come from?' or 'What speed was it fired from the bow?'. The man's quest is for salve for his wound. In the same way you should deal with your life".

Yes the story above was rendered terribly in my re-telling but the essential take home message was attend to your suffering. Do not waste time inquiring the origin of your suffering. My scientific-inquiry-free-thinker mind smirked at the naivette of Buddha. Facing up to your problems I reasoned was not a strong point of Buddhism.

A year later I encountered Taoism. Its simplicity, Wu-wei (principle of go with the flow) made me re-think my initial reaction. Then it occurred to me that Taoism was not dictating avoiding your problem. It said, face up to it. Deal with it. Do not walk away from it. The arrow is our problem. Be it work, life, the grand scheme of things etc. Don't waste time looking for it's origin, or ignoring it. Keep in mind that you are welcome to look for the origin just dont do that instead of dealing with the arrow. Face it. Be one with it. Accept it. (not the arrow, but the situation). Accept the situation and deal with it.

Another theme in Zen is "doing the dishes". A lot of koans revolve around the therapeutic benefits of 'doing the dishes'. The central theme is "Dont do the dishes to get clean dishes. Do the dishes to do dishes". I'll attempt to tie this in with the arrow theme shortly. A lot of times in our lives we go through the motions to get through to the next stage. We undertake a lot of activities because we have to, but we dont acknowledge that we are undertaking these activities. Let me rephrase. We want clean dishes. Why do we want clean dishes?

1. we'll have to eat soon, and we dont have any clean dishes. New ones cost too much and we ran out of paper plates.
2. the dirty dishes are stacked to the ceiling and we are expecting guests over shortly.

Well, so we pull out the sponge, the dawn and attack the dishes. The music blaring, the TV on some station. Thoughts crowd our mind, dishes pass from left sink to right to stand via the scrubber (no, I am not including the dish washer). We've pretended we didnt do the dishes. We've fixated on the end result. Not on the action. We've spent 15 minutes of our life wishing we hadn't lived those minutes. We've probably wondered at the back of our minds: "wish I was rich enough to pay someone to do this" (or some permutation thereof). You've just spent 15 minutes of your life and wasted them. Thats the total net worth you've assigned to those minutes. Total disregard, contempt and indifference. This apathy is a result of your belief that it was done as a last resort.

Reflect back to things in your life that you perform in a similar manner. Paying Bills? yep. When's that due date? oh wait! where did that bill go? Arent' I supposed to pay something at this point in the month?

Add up those minutes and you find that a significant chunk of your life is spent without living in it. What does this mean? Well, remember the movies, when somebody is dying the theme invariably returns to: "live every moment of your life", "live life to the fullest". Well this is where your life goes. In moments like this. the dishes, the bills, the laundry. This is your life. GET USED TO IT. It doesnt change.

Consider this for a second. Take a step back and ask. Well what if you didnt have to do the laundry. Yes you can pay someone to pick up your laundry and do it and bring it back. You can hire a maid to put the clothes up. Same for the cleaning, and the dishes. Now what about food? Do you have to eat food? is it a waste of time? well, its fun sometimes, lets let that slide. What about sleeping, umm. Its nice to catch a few zzzs sometime. Thats kinda life living your life to the fullest too. Ok, so what about brushing your teeth? Can we skip that? can we have someone else do it? umm I s'pose but that would require you to open your mouth to someone and let them do it. What about taking showers. Settled the line is drawn. Somethings have to be done. No escaping it.

Now take a step back and add all the unnecessary things that you have to do in your life and take as pre-ordained the fact that these activities do in fact have to be performed. Now ask your self given that it is pre-determined that these activities have to be performed how would you rather go through these motions? Would you ignore them and be dragged to them kicking-and-screaming by a mile high pile of stinking dishes, clothes and garbage? Would you prefer to live your life hiding in the shadown of reality, the zone where things are bad but not terrible enough that you dont have to leave your comfort zone to encounter these necessary details of life. Would you like to skip paying the bills (and think about it only when you pay for dinner with your credit card). Do you enjoy the moment when you wonder if the credit card will be refused? Would you like to wait till December and furiously jot down your resolutions which will follow through full steam till the 15th of January?

Ok, we'll leave cliche land shortly. What does Zen tell you? Wake up! Wake up! Become mindful. Take a step back. First stand in front of the mirror and acknowledge your presence. Take a deep breath. Concentrate. Acknowledge your presence before the mirror. Acknowledge your life. ALL OF IT. Not just the fun parts, all of it warts and all. This is you. Now do the dishes. Wash them slowly. Watch the suds form. Feel the water over your hands. feel the dirt come of. Watch it wash down the drain. Acknowledge the dish. Put it away. Deal with your life. ALL OF IT. in the same way.

Take the bills. organize them. sort them. file them. collate them. and yeah, pay them. The things you've ignored. The realities you've locked away hoping they go away before they become full fleged emergencies. ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. Deal with your problems. EVERY ONE OF THEM.

Posted at 09:47 PM

a few quotes

A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular.
-Adlai Stevenson, statesman (1900-1965)
A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience.
-Doug Larson
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
-Greek proverb
All the world's a stage, And the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.
-William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist (1564-1616)
Men seek out retreats for themselves in the country, by the seaside, on the moutains... But all this is unphilosophical to the last degree... when thou canst at a moment's notice retire into thyself.
-Marcus Aelius Aurelius
Posted at 10:16 AM

June 24, 2002

Emerson on manners

The music than can deepest reach, And cure all ill, is cordial speech.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)
Posted at 12:30 PM

Spam Harvester

I noticed that an agent by the name "autoemailspider" had traversed my site. A search showed that most hits belonged to public web server logs that the spider had been through. I finally found the originating site. Looks like some Russian company that sells email harvesting software for spammers.

Posted at 09:15 AM

June 23, 2002

Moral Indignation

There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as "moral indignation," which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.

Erich Fromm
--Man For Himself

Posted at 10:07 AM

June 22, 2002

Structuralists vision

The day the world ends, no one will be there, just as no one was there when it began. This is a scandal. Such a scandal for the human race that it is indeed capable collectively, out of spite, of hastening the end of the world by all means just so it can enjoy the show.

Jean Baudrillard
--Cool Memories

Posted at 11:02 AM

June 21, 2002

Ontological proof for the existence of God

Credo ut intelligam (I believe so that I may understand) began St. Anselm's Proslogion. The basis for the ontological proof is that inorder to talk about God we must all (including atheists) have an understanding of what is referred to by the term God. He says lets conceive of the most omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent being. Then he says between two things, one that exists and one that doesnt, the one that exists is better. (For eg, whats better than the best ice cream flavor? one that actually exists). He then says since God is the greatest most positive thing (by definition) then the God that exists is better than the idea of the most positive thing.

An explanation of how this proof doesnt work is here. A suitable response might be credo quia absurdum est (I believe because its absurd)

Posted at 11:08 PM

June 20, 2002

Nature, adapt thyself

Millions of years ago spiders were great ground hunters. However, something interesting happened. Bugs evolved to escape their predators, and started to fly. Spiders and other predators were now faced with a dwindling source of chow. The spider population started waning. The spiders started evolving to where they gained the ability to spin a nearly invisible web to trap their prey.

Our knowledge how the spider builds its web is still incomplete. We do know that spiders build dragline silk support structures and then the capture spiral. Spider web is among the strongest materials known to man. However, gathering enough spider web to use is a tough proposition. Silk worms make nice well behaved, herbaceous inhabitants of farms. This is how silk is gathered. Spiders are territorial and aggressive.

Companies have found a way to insert the web producing gene of a spider into a goat in way such that it turns on in the mammary gland and produces silk in the milk. This silk is separated from the milk and subjected to the same spinning process as in the spider to produce the spider silk.

Read more at the New York Times.

Posted at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

Super Villains unite

Get your super villain supplies at villain supply [via metafilter]

Posted at 01:58 PM

June 19, 2002

Human Experimentation

At the end of World War II, nuremberg trial picturean International War Crimes Tribunal was set up to try the war criminals during the war. This tribunal was estabilished in the city of Nuremberg, the same city where Hitler announced his racial laws. One of the trials during the session of this tribunal was for the doctors who experimented on prisoners in the concentration camps. The outcome of the trial was the Nuremberg Code for Human Experimentation.

The salient points of the code are:

1. Voluntary consent is required for any experimentation.
2. Experiment must be to yield results that will result in the good of the society.
3. Animal experimentation must have already taken place.
4. Experiment must attempt to avoid all physcial mental suffering
5. Experiments should not be performed where there is a priori knowledge that death or disability will result (unless the experimenting physician is also a subject)
6. The degree of risk must never exceed the humanitarian importance of the results
7. Preparations must be made to prevent the possible disability or death of subject.
8. Experiment must only be conducted by people who have the scientific qualifications
9. The subject must possess the capability to bring the experiment to a close if the suffering is not bearable.
10. The scientist in charge must have control to terminate the experiment if there is any fear that death or disability might occur.

Posted at 02:56 PM

June 18, 2002

Why did Perseus kill Medusa

The king Acrisius had a daughter named Danae. The oracle of Apollo told Acrisius that Danae's son would kill him. perseus. note the winged feetHe locked her up in a tower and forbade her from every marrying anyone. One day Zeus showed up in the tower and made her pregnant. Perseus was born.

Acrisius locked Perseus and Danae in a box and cast her out to sea. The box ended up in the island of Seriphos where Polydectes was king. Polydectes wanted to marry Danae but was prevented by Perseus. Polydectes invited everyone to a fake wedding and chided Perseus for coming empty handed. Perseus responded by saying that he could bring any gift he wanted. Polydectes asked for the gorgon Medusa's head.

Perseus headed out to find Medusa. Medusa had the ability to turn anyone she saw into stone. So Perseus used a shield and cut Medusa's head. One the way back he flew by Atlas holding up the Earth. To save him from the burden he used Medusa to turn him into stone. He then saw Andromeda who was being sacrificed to a sea monster. He saved her and married her.

Finally, Perseus and Andromeda were killed by Dionysius and turned into constellations.

Learn more at the Greek Mythology site.

Posted at 01:26 PM

Michael Bakunin

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Michael Bakunin
--God and the State

Mikhail Bukanin was born in Tsarist Russia during the 19th century. He went on to become one of the leading anarchists. His works include Marxism, Freedom and the State and God and the State.

The idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, both in theory and practice.
-- God and the state.
Posted at 09:01 AM

June 17, 2002

Creationism is back?

Repackage the same old drivel and this time someone might buy it. Creationism is coming back under the argument of Intelligent Design. People have gotten as far as to convince politicians to allow Intelligent Design be taught as an alternative theory?

Scientific American is arming the populace with ammunition to ward of these intelligent designers. [via metafilter]

Here is a summary of the salient myths and their anitodes.

1. Evolution is an unproven theory not a law or fact.

Theories are a substantiated explanation of some phenomenon. Laws pertain to observable and determinable phenomenon. You can have a law about motion of objects. You cannot have a law about subatomic particles since you cannot exactly observe them. This is why it is called a theory of evolution, but evolution by itself is a proven fact.

2. Natural Selection is based on circular reasoning. Only the fit survive, and those who survive are the fittest.

In reality the discussion is more about adaptive fitness. Species that select the features that aid their survival are the victors.

3. If humans descended from monkeys, why are monkeys still around?

The evolution of a sub species makes no comment about the parent species and is independent of the parent species.

4. Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on Earth

Biochemists have a decent idea of the early chemical processes that resulted in the amino acids (basics of life).

Finally more resources to counter Creationism

Update: More info at physicstoday.org

Posted at 04:40 PM

Macrovision headaches

Macrovision is a company specializing in copy protection technology. I've encountered macrovision when I tried piping my DVD player through my VCR to my TV (because my TV didnt have an AV in). Macrovision leverages the fact that VCR's have AGC circuitry (Automatic Gain Control) which attempts to compensate for extra brightness. Macrovision includes extra signals in the non-viewable portion of the signal to cause the AGC to kick in and render the copy unviewable. For more information on this particular technology check out the FAQ

Posted at 10:06 AM

June 14, 2002

islamic resource

One of the better islamis resources is at USC

Posted at 05:55 PM

Random snippets without context

In passing captures snippets of conversations between people with no context. People have interesting conversations. [via metafilter]

Posted at 10:58 AM

Intelligent but not intellectual

Frank Wu bemoans the paucity of membership in the group of Asian American Intellengsia. [via aldaily]. His contention is that while Asian Americans thrive and sometimes in abundance in some fields they remain woefully under represented in the over-all fabric of the US.

Posted at 09:17 AM

June 12, 2002

Dept of Pre-crime

Drawing a page from this summer's sci-fi thriller Minority Report the US govt is attempting to curb crimes that are nascent thoughts in the would-be perpetrator's mind. Ashcroft raised panic levels across the world by announcing the arrest of 'dirty-bomber'. Only days later softer rhetoric revealed that the person they detained neither posessed the implements for carrying out the crime nor had he progressed beyond association with people of questionable character. (as a side George W. Bush received wide latitude for his association with Kenny boy of Enron fame).

In anycase Jose Padilla remains in the custody of the Pentagon hidden from the due process of law and constitutional protection. The Slate makes some scathing and accurate remarks. Yellow times explains the ex parte Quinn loophole which is permitting this administration to detain Padilla. All of this will eventually (thanks to the hardworking people at organizations like the ACLU) end up in front of the Supreme Court. Again this will be one of those future defining moments. The only hope we can have is that the justices will have the resolve and spine to tackle the issues with honesty. The sad news is that these same justices let legal wranglings dominate their decision on the 2000 election.

[update: The mainstream press seems to be joining the issue with this column from the NYTimes]

Posted at 11:33 PM

resentment worldwide unlimited

Sounds like resentment against the USofA stretches way past the tents in the deserts of middle east into the minds of the Koreans in the East.

The Washington Post has a column on the anti-american sentiment on display at the South Korea vs USA soccer match.

Posted at 10:13 AM

Existence before essence

Consciousness is a being, the nature of which is to be conscious of the nothingness of its being.

Jean-Paul Sartre
--Being and Nothingness

Posted at 09:12 AM

June 11, 2002

57 Jazz tracks

Gary Giddins of the village voice presents his list of 57 jazz tracks from 1945 - 2000

Posted at 10:55 AM

June 02, 2002

Flight simulator cheat sheet

Here are a couple of hints I'm using:

To take off.

- turn off the brakes (.)
- turn throttle on high (F4)
- at about 55 knots gently ease back (numpad 2)
- at about 85 knots ease back a bit more (numpad 2)

use trim often (keypad 5) to level the plane out.

turn at 20degree bank. about 25degrees before the turn is complete straighten out the plance.

Flaps are great for slowing down.

Posted at 11:43 AM

MS Flight Simulator

This weekend I battled my computer to set up Microsoft Flight Simulator. My machine, a PII 700Mhz with 256MB of RAM is a pretty decent computer. I have a NVidia Riva TNT card. However Flight Simulator would balk at using the hardware accelerator. It said that it was using safe mode and that if my opinion differed I could consult the Readme. The readme had a net useful value of -1.

Dell Support however insisted that they hadnt provided me with that Nvidia card and that I had to deal with it myself. Nvidia gave me drivers from Sept 2001 and said that they could care less what happened.

Usenet a constant source of relief mentioned the problem but didnt give me any direct insight. I finally stumbled on to guru3d which had the latest drivers. The tuners, explanations were a life saver. I now have flight simulator working in full screen mode with hardware acceleration enabled. The graphics are less impressive than the snapshots on the box (no surprise). I've learnt a lot about airplanes so far. I'm looking forward to using the Air Traffic Controller aspect of flying. Figure I need to learn to land first!

Posted at 11:40 AM | Comments (1)

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