Tuesday, January 27, 2009
And sometimes in photography you just get lucky. I had a visitor a couple of weekends ago...
Yeah, correct me if I'm wrong on this one too and this isn't a hawk. I'm bird-stupid.
And sometimes in photography you just get lucky. I had a visitor a couple of weekends ago...
Yeah, correct me if I'm wrong on this one too and this isn't a hawk. I'm bird-stupid.
You may have wondered lately when I'm going to post something other than pictures and links. Well, I have a couple of posts in my head, but I haven't had time to get them to the computer yet. I thought I'd have time this weekend, but then the weekend was gone before I knew it.
My time on the blog is probably going to be meager over the next couple of months. I started a photography class a couple of weeks ago that meets six hours a week for the spring semester and then I start a certification class for work in mid-February that meets seven hours a week for five weeks. I haven't had this much school in over a decade and contemplating my weekends taken up with homework assignments scares me a bit.
I've also started working with the Youth Friends program and am mentoring a fourteen year old girl at a local junior high school. She's cute and completely undecided about her future. I'm shaking in my boots afraid that I'll lead her to drugs and a life of crime. Okay, probably not. I'm more afraid of how uncool I am as an adult and that she'll be bored.
Work has been crazy again too, but this week looks a little better so far and so I just might be able to think about something else in the evenings.
But other than that it's been just the normal sense that too much stuff is happening in my life. I'm busy and despite my friends all telling me it's a good thing, I've always shied away from too many commitments. Except over the holidays somehow little by little I threw myself into getting everything I plan to accomplish this year done before May.
So my natural instinct is to hide out playing video games, where there's a false sense of getting stuff done, although in actuality it's a complete waste of time.
Anyway, that's the long explanation. There are more substantive posts coming soon.
Suspension Bridge Solargraph (I'd love to do this! - Ed)
Study: violence in games not that compelling for most gamers
The authors performed six studies in total, but they were in broad agreement, so we'll only discuss the more compelling ones here. For the experimental portion, these involved playing an essentially identical game with different degrees of violent content. One group of participants was randomly assigned to play the game House of the Dead 3 on the different extremes of its gore settings, while a second was split between those who played the normal version of Half-Life 2, and a those who played a modified version that turned the adventure into an elaborate game of tag.
In both cases, the primary influences on enjoyment were the sense of competence and satisfaction, along with the immersive nature of the game. Generally, females rated immersion as more important, while males went for competence (and consistently rated their own expertise very highly).
Impressions: Dawn of War II beta video walkthrough
When Being Right Doesn’t Matter
“Can’t we just shorten that first sentence?” asks the radical libertarian. “A drinking age is an embarrassment to a supposedly liberty-loving nation. Parents must take responsibility for their children here as in every other area of life. Perhaps the law should recognize this. Probably communal moral suasion would work even better. Yet either way, saying that ‘all drinking is bad until you’re 21, when everything magically turns OK’ is obviously just a silly taboo.” The radical libertarian harrumphs in a self-satisfied way. He’s good it; he’s practiced it often. He’s also completely right, which happens to be beside the point.
Woman Says Anti-Abortion Nurse Removed IUD Without Permission, Then Lectured Her
A clinic nurse first removed her intrauterine birth-control device without permission, says the patient in a federal action, then told her that "having the IUD come out was a good thing," because "I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don't know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them."
A Lenticular Cloud Over New Zealand
Female Pastors = Porn
Most churches rely on women to crank the engines. Many church programs would cease if women didn’t run them. Here’s what baffles me: why do women continue serving congregations and denominations in which the (almost invariably male) leaders believe (or behave like they believe) they are second-class citizens? How long will they continue doing so? Many churches bemoan the fact that most of their men enter the front door as children and exit the back door as teens or young adults. In this age of deepening awareness of gender equality issues, if church leaders don’t examine the roles of women in their institutions (and in their theology), they may arrive one day, turn on the lights, and discover that the women have followed the men out the back door.
The Universe’s Pixels and Holographic Reality?
Scientists may have actually detected the grain or pixels of the universe. This may mean that our reality, everything we see and do, our entire universe in fact, is like a 3-dimensional holographic image of sorts projected from somewhere else. Talk about a one-two punch.
Diamond orgasms are a girl’s best friend
The latest misogynist stereotype confirmed*** by evo psych wanks is the belief that women are shallow gold diggers that don’t really know what love is. “Women are born whores,” is quite possibly the favorite sacred belief of evolutionary psychology.
Scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner’s bank balance.
They found that the wealthier a man is, the more frequently his partner has orgasms.
“Women’s orgasm frequency increases with the income of their partner,” said Dr Thomas Pollet, the Newcastle University psychologist behind the research. (Bullshit - Ed)
A couple of weeks ago the weather was warm and I decided to head out to take some pictures during lunch. Most of these were taken with my new zoom lens on auto or shutter priority, but they turned out pretty well. One thing about shutter priority is that it shifts the light to blue, so I did a lot of color correction on these photos to bring back in the warmth of the day.
It was just warm enough after a cold freeze for the lake to have a sheet of water on top of the ice. The ducks* look like they're walking on water and the lake had a great reflective quality to it.
*As my good friend encephalophone pointed out, they're not ducks, they're Canadian Geese. Sorry, geese!
Unusual Light Pillars Over Latvia
In the Shadow of Saturn
Largest Moon of 2009 Over the Alps
U.S. mortgage meltdown linked to 2005 bankruptcy law
Before Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, households could erase their unsecured debts by filing for Chapter 7 liquidation. That freed up income that distressed homeowners could use to make mortgage payments.
The new law, however, forced better-off households seeking bankruptcy protection to file under Chapter 13. That chapter requires homeowners to continue paying their unsecured lenders.
In other words, say the Fed researchers, cash-strapped homeowners who might have saved their homes by filing Chapter 7 are now much more likely to face foreclosure.
Dawn of War II beta coming January 21
The release date for Dawn of War II, the sequel to the excellent Warhammer-themed RTS developed by Relic, is slowly approaching, with the game expected to hit store shelves in late February. Relic has announced that excited players will soon have a chance to test-drive the game prior to the release with the official beta.
A new year brings with it more bad video game legislation
Meanwhile, over in New York, Wright's bill seems to be banking on the concept that video games that contain profanity or racism can adversely affect youngsters. The goal of the law is to, "[prohibit] the sale to minors of certain rated video games containing a rating that reflects content of various degrees of profanity, racist stereotypes or derogatory language, and/or actions toward a specific group of persons."
Atheism and the Pledge
Saying “under Allah” would seem to imply that a certain view of God, the Muslim one, was more right, and that all others were less right. This American Christians could never tolerate. And so on and so forth. Once you start thinking in collectivist terms, there’s no end to the petty exclusion games you can play. That’s why it’s better not to have a pledge at all.
The words “under God” also have a history to them. They were added during the McCarthy era in part to indicate that atheists are not true Americans. What’s humdrum compulsory unity to everyone else is actually your declaration that I, Jason Kuznicki, am not a proper citizen. That’s what you’re really saying, every time you take the Pledge.
Afghan Girls, Scarred by Acid, Defy Terror, Embracing School
“My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” said Shamsia, 17, in a moment after class. Shamsia’s mother, like nearly all of the adult women in the area, is unable to read or write. “The people who did this to me don’t want women to be educated. They want us to be stupid things.”
In the five years since the Mirwais School for Girls was built here by the Japanese government, it appears to have set off something of a social revolution. Even as the Taliban tighten their noose around Kandahar, the girls flock to the school each morning. Many of them walk more than two miles from their mud-brick houses up in the hills.
Is justice a lie? Are we lying to ourselves when we think that there exists a true notion of justice? Mercy, charity, morality -- are these lies? If so, then they are lies which make all our lives better and happier and more worthwhile, and my commitment to the truth must be hampered by my love and respect for such notions. But perhaps they are not lies. Perhaps we can say that morality and charity and justice exist because we believe in them. They are ideas, and ideas exist only in the human mind as a matter of course.
Of Myths and Mailmen
Reading The Postman gave me a new appreciation for the potential benefits of myths. Given my history with religious mythologies, I’ve been very suspicious of myths since my enlightenment and have been leery of considering the possibility that humanist myths may serve useful purposes. My shifting thoughts about this issue are nascent and require much more development, but I think I’m ready to start thinking about the matter now.
NL: The Postman
Still, the ideas that Brin is exploring are still valid. The short-term predictions didn't come true and the militias aren't quite the force they used to be pre-Waco, but the ambiance of this shattered world is authentic. Feudal serfdom, male dominance, warring bandit chiefs - all the enemies of Civilization - they could certainly emerge. (Once, decades ago, I read a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel, which one I can't recall, that had a line in it I'll paraphrase: When survival came to sharing, the British queued up - and survived.) So the question Brin is asking here is: What is it in America that supports Civilization, and what fights it - and how can we best harness the former to defeat the latter?
Given that all it would take to trigger an (entirely non-biblical) Armageddon is one fundaloony with their finger on a big red button (and the “Palin 2012” stickers, whilst ironic, are also pretty scary), it might behove us to give some thought to the possibility of post-holocaust survival. Step up, David Brin’s The Postman, which places its hero in the middle of an apocalyptic America where technology is all but dead and the population have been reduced to medieval squalor. What useful lessons can we glean from Gordon’s experience in this blasted landscape?
On the Morality of: Patriotism
The existence of countries aids moral progress in another way: it makes it possible to advance one step at a time. At this point in human history, if we were to try to unite the human race under one banner, the sure result would be either crippling stagnation or brutal autocracy. No other kind of government would be able to accommodate (or, in the case of autocracy, to trample over) the impossibly broad and complex range of desires and concerns among different groups of people. Having separate countries allows some issues to be tabled so that we can focus on the rest. (For an example of what happens when you try to take everyone's wants into account at once, consider the United Nations, which is well-intentioned but mired in diplomatic gridlock on virtually every issue of importance.) As well, it limits the power of despots and demagogues, however successful they may be at home, by creating boundaries beyond which they hold no sway.
Born of Amalek
I understand a siege upon their old enemy. We killed them often to preserve our place in this land. But I am wise enough to know–since this time they even kill our animals–that this is no war for land or resource. They kill from hate. They break every potshard, shaped with the loving hands of mothers and wives and inscribed with the thoughtful knife of the archivist. A swift motion breaks each pot, and the memories are gone. Our mark upon this land will be severed forever.
The Insecurity of Religious Faith
One would think that if their particular Faith was supportable by commonsense evidence, they would not need daily or weekly meetings to reinforce that Faith. They wouldn’t need a pastor, minister or priest, nor a religious hierarchy setting up rules and commandments designed to keep them in line. The existence of their god(s), and the Faith they placed in them, would be obvious. If their god(s) existed, there would be hard evidence of that fact. They wouldn’t need to be herded as if flocks of sheep, to use a Christian metaphor. Certainly, I have no need to attend weekly meetings of the Sun church to maintain my belief that it will rise tomorrow. The evidence all around me is there for the picking.
Now you might be saying, "But these are designed enzymes, created by a couple of intelligent scientists!" Not quite. They started with a very rough sequence, one that inefficiently catalyzed an A + B → E sort of reaction, but that not only worked slowly, but also produced faulty products that eventually killed the reaction after a few cycles. Then they tweaked it to form a minus-strand enzyme, and then they subjected both the plus and minus strand forms to — natural selection! They made copies with mutagenic PCR (so they had a range of random variants), ran it through several cycles of in vitro selection for more efficient forms, and ended up with two RNA enzymes that were good at building copies of each other.
The moon is actually about 27% of full, but it was the first moon of the new year.
My remote wasn't working, but I set the camera up on a tripod and used the timer and that combo worked perfectly. I've never been able to get detail of the moon during night before.
I've been capturing a couple of moon pictures during the month and hope to publish a set in February. It's a lot more challenging capturing the moon than the sun. On cloudy nights there's little hope of catching a glimpse and in the cold air, I'm not willing to wait around. I also have trouble remembering to get outside in the middle of the evening. I can't always capture a good picture during my daily commute.
visited 39 states (78%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or try another Douwe Osinga project
When I lived in Boston I was an exit away from Portland, Maine several times, but I never made it into the state. I should have taken a drive up the coast, but I never made the trip.
Update: Added Utah. I forgot completely that I spent a couple days in beautiful Park City.
First issue of Dead Space comic online
Newsarama and Image Comics are teaming up again for their annual tradition of presenting select #1 Image issues for users to read, and one of the free comics this year is the introduction to the Dead Space miniseries.
The series itself serves as a prequel to the game, detailing what happened to the colony before the Ishimura was overrun by the Necromorph menace. Also, unlike the other prequel to the game, Dead Space: Downfall, the comics are excellent and feature an eerie and well-paced story, as well as the excellent art of Ben Templesmith, the artist behind comics like Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse and 30 Days of Night.
Feds note gaming DRM woes: FTC to hold town hall meeting
The official page describes the meeting and its aim. "Digital rights management (DRM) refers to technologies typically used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to attempt to control how consumers access and use media and entertainment content," the FTC explains. "Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations."
Is Having Sex with a Robot Hooker Cheating? Revisited
A few months ago, we posed what will surely turn out to be one of the most important philosophical questions of the future -- Is having sex with a robot hooker cheating? In an effort to continue this important dialogue, Asylum, the journalistic hub of future events, has decided to revisit the topic so that when the day of robot hookers arrives, we'll be prepared to tell them "Yes, please!" or "No, ma'am" without guilt or pangs of remorse.
Woman suspected of witchcraft burned alive
Early Tuesday, a group of people dragged the woman, believed to be in her late teens to early 20s, to a dumping ground outside the city of Mount Hagen. They stripped her naked, bound her hands and legs, stuffed a cloth in her mouth, tied her to a log and set her on fire, Kauba said.
"When the people living nearby went to the dump site to investigate what caused the fire, they found a human being burning in the flames," he said. "It was ugly."
The country's Post-Courier newspaper reported Thursday that more than 50 people were killed in two Highlands provinces last year for allegedly practicing sorcery.
In a well-publicized case last year, a pregnant woman gave birth to a baby girl while struggling to free herself from a tree. Villagers had dragged the woman from her house and hung her from the tree, accusing her of sorcery after her neighbor suddenly died.
She and the baby survived, according to media reports.
I receive a lot of spam. Gmail filters it out pretty well, but I have this OCD problem with seeing that I have unread messages, even if they are in the spam folder. I clear out my spam folder almost daily, just to get rid of that annoying nagging feeling.
I've noticed that most spam is geared towards men. Maybe it's just that most spam is geared towards sex and most sex is geared towards men. But anyway, here's a small sampling.
More inches and more force - Your gf is liable to go out of her skull when she sees your new huge wand!
SPECIAL Pharmacy Discount! 10Viagra+10Cializ=$69.99, You pay & we ship, No questions asked
Anxiety, depression and low self-esteem have no chance against a big penis and rockhard erections that last much longer than before.
We have you been, honey?
blaming for LOW salary/wages? with our Dip1oma/Degree/MasteerMBA, You will get good offer
Swiss Branded Watches from $206, save you $5000-15000+ for any brands, No.1 Swiss QualityRep1ica
Lose weight with this miracle supplement
I have compiled the Sun series sets from this year by taking my favorite picture from each week and creating this set. There are actually 53 pictures in the set because the first and last weeks overlap.
The better pictures are towards the middle and the end, but I hope you enjoy the entire set. The slideshow is best viewed from the Original Source link.
I really enjoyed taking the series, but I've stopped my daily photos for now. I have a few new series planned for this year and maybe my photography class will take me into new territory.
Last year I came up with a list of ten books to read next and kept adding to it as I finished books. I'm not so ambitious this year, but here are the books that I'd like to read by the end of the year next year. Other books may come into the mix as they're published (mostly as I can't resist), but I want to read these as well. There are 18 books on the list. It's a lot to read in 12 months.
The Universe edited by Byron Preiss
Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel - Amy Hempel
The Dying of the Light - George R. R. Martin
All Tomorrow's Parties - William Gibson
Guardian - Joe Haldeman
The Algebraist - Iain M. Banks
The Difficult Saint - Sharan Newman
To Wear the White Cloak - Sharan Newman
Descent of Angels - Mitchel Scanlon
Misquoting Jesus - Bart Ehrman
Scott Kelby's Digital Photography - Scott Kelby
Freedom Evolves - Daniel C. Dennet
Breaking the Spell - Daniel C. Dennet
Why I Became an Atheist - John W. Loftus
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) - Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson
The Universe edited by Byron Preiss
The Stuff of Thought - Steven Pinker
The Moral Animal - Robert Wright
Sony's Home juggles free speech, hate speech
Sony's Home has had a rocky start. Server issues, lack of compelling content, and a somewhat hostile environment have all added up to make the online service more of a PR problem than Sony likely expected. The latest issue? Sony has banned words such as "gay," "bi-sexual," and "Jew" from the service. If you've played a game online... well, ever... you know why such words would go on the black list. But supporters of gay rights, or gamers who practice the Jewish faith, have taken issue with these words becoming negative labels.
Downloading your games? Get ready for extra fees
But why, exactly, would something like the Extended Download Service even be in existence? Keeping records of who buys what and when they bought it seems like standard business practice and would appear to be one major advantage to buying digitally. Allowing customers to access these records and re-download what they've already paid for seems like a no-brainer; charging people for that option just seems slimy. Unfortunately, phone calls to Digital River resulted in a thirty minute perma-hold when waiting to talk to customer service, and repeated disconnects when attempting to get in touch with someone in the PR department.
Rights, liberty and community.
Where libertarianism is weakest is that many libertarians, advocates of the pure voluntary community, can only address issues if they arise within the utopia which does not exist. Individuals who tend in this utopian direction are incapable of explaining any process by which their utopia may be achieved. Since issues are intertwined they will tend to tell you that to deal with one distortion caused by the political process you must address all the other problems simultaneously. We see this from utopian libertarians in regards to the marriage equality issue.
They will argue equal marriage rights should not be given same-sex couples because the state should not be involved in marriage at all. When you point out the dozens of other issues of state involvement which directly tied to marriage they then tell you how all those issues have to simultaneously solved as well. For instance, they will argue that the involuntary state should not be involved in marriage so gays should not have equal marriage rights. If you bring up the problem of allowing spouses for of Americans to immigrate they will tell you they don’t want immigration laws either. So now, before justice can be done for gay couples in these circumstances you must abolish both state marriage for everyone as well as immigration laws. Unfair tax laws that penalize gay couples are another example. While marriage rights would solve both problems for such couples the utopians suggest waiting until all these laws can be reformed first. The absurdity is that neither marriage, immigration laws or taxes are likely to be abolished in our lifetime so the utopians are suggesting gay couples just deal with the injustices inflicted on them until they die. Then they will be shocked when they find gay people uninterested in this “solution”.
Partisan at any Price
So the best one can say about Jack Kelly’s analysis is that he’s somewhat confused about economic history. A less charitable interpretation would be that he’s more interested in partisanship than in truthfulness. I suppose writing very partisan attacks guarantees one a devoted readership, but it bothers me greatly. Whichever side it comes from, by repeatedly demeaning and demonizing their opponents, these folks diminish the quality of democratic debate in this country. Their is a fine line between the person who says “All Democrats (Republicans) are idiots” and the person who decides that they ought to be denied political power by any means necessary. That is to say, anyone who so carelessly ignores the empirical evidence in order to cast aspersions on his opponents has–by so doing–demonstrated his contempt for democracy.
As time went on and my schedule became more hectic some of the thoughts I had tossed into the back of my head began to surface. These thoughts contained doubts about what I was doing. Some were doubts about what I was teaching. In most cases I cast these thoughts aside. Christianity had taught me that thoughts like these were either a part of my own sinful nature or an attack from the devil, God's ancient enemy. How could I even trust my own thoughts? After all, the Bible was clear that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (according to Jeremiah 17:9). It became even more imperative to pray and to give myself to Christ ... to die to self and to live unto God.
But my prayers seemed to go unheeded. In fact, I began to notice things that really caught my attention. My wife is an extremely religious woman. She believes the Bible to be literally true and would spend the first hour of her day reading the Scriptures. The next hour was devoted to prayer. A large portion of our prayer was for our children. Over the years we saw quite a rebellious spirit arise in each of our kids. We had desired that they would become godly offspring, willing to sacrifice their own lives for the cause of Christ. As they rebelled and seemed dead set on pursuing their own ways, we pleaded with them, we educated them in the ways of Christ, we chastened them when necessary and, above all things, we prayed for them. However, it seemed that prayer was not effective. No matter how many hours my godly wife prayed, no matter how many times either of us hit our knees, our children did not change. We began to doubt their salvation. I began to doubt God.
The Joys of Deconversion - Part One
As a Christian, I had two sources of information: Reality, and the “Truth” as proscribed by my faith. I doubt I need to say it, but these two sources were often in conflict with one another. The exercise of juggling reality with faith was an enormous burden. I spent a great deal of time, effort and brain power trying to twist one or the other into pretzel-shapes in order for them to somehow work together in the same universe. If the facts did not conform to my faith, then I would attack the facts as somehow “incorrect” or “deceitful.” If the facts were incontrovertible and in direct contradiction to my faith, then I would consider how possibly my faith was misunderstood, and revisit the Biblical passages, sometimes delving directly into the original Hebrew or Greek definitions to somehow come up with that little pinion that allowed my submarine engine to function in a ’56 T-Bird. It was pure sophistry, but I persisted. Ironically, I kept insisting that secular thinkers “just didn’t get it.”
12 Elegant Examples of Evolution
Archaeopteryx, found in 1861, was long thought to be the first bird. Then it was recognized as something closer to a dinosaur with feathers — but still unique for that. In the 1980's, however, paleontologists digging in deposits more than 65 million years old in northern China found feathered dinosaurs which very definitely did not fly. Some dinosaurs, it appeared, may have looked far different from our traditional conception — and feathers may first have served an insulating or aesthetic, rather than aerodynamic, purpose.
December wasn't very productive for me. I am almost finished with Misquoting Jesus, which I found to be pretty interesting. It certainly conflicts with all of the misinformation I was fed when I was younger. This may be a book I "leave" at my parent's house one day.
I'm looking forward to starting on a couple of the books I received for Christmas, but I may need all of January for The Universe.
Read in December
The Wave in the Mind - Ursula K LeGuin
The Universe - Byron Preiss (Editor)
Misquoting Jesus - Bart D. Ehrman
Coming Up Next
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
2008 was a good year for me. There were some low points, even recently, but right now all I can remember is the good from the year.
2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. The goal is to get people to look up at the sky, observe, learn, and rediscover the wonder of our place in the universe.
I feel like my year of sky photos helped me rediscover the beauty I was overlooking each day. I won't be continuing the series, but I hope to spend more time on focused photo shoots and now that I have a telephoto lens I hope to get some awesome pictures of the moon and stars.
But for today enjoy the video that Till Credner put together. It makes me want to buy an HD video camera and start setting up nightime shots.