Monday, March 31, 2008

Pipe Dreams

Hmm... A photographic study of a drainpipe: esoteric or a sign of acute boredom?

Click to enlarge.

Dick to the Dawk to the PhD.!

This is the funniest, coolest thing I've seen in a while. Watch it! Share it!

[H/T: Brendan]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Spring"

Time once again for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge. This week, Glenn has (not so randomly, I suspect) chosen the theme of "spring." I imagine we'll be seeing lots of flowers and such in this batch of posts. My post is no exception.

[Hmm... looks like I jumped the gun a bit!]

Click images to enlarge them.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

1, 2, 3 Buoys

Click to enlarge.

The subject of "buoys" has reminded me of this sick little tune from the 70's, "Timothy" by The Buoys:
Trapped in a mine that had caved in
And everyone knows the only ones left
Were Joe and me and Tim
When they broke through to pull us free
The only ones left to tell the tale
Were Joe and me

Timothy, Timothy, where on earth did you go?
Timothy, Timothy, God why don't I know?

The Buoys-Timothy


I came across this piece of silliness this morning, entitled Is Atheism Only a Bundle of Sentiments? Some highlights:

--Atheism is more "a bundle of sentiments than a coherent doctrine."
Here we have a nice bit of dopey vagueness. By "sentiment" does the author mean "view" or "opinion"? If so, then he's simply stating the obvious: atheism is not, in fact, a "doctrine." Christianity and other religions are doctrines (from the Latin, doctrina, "teaching, learning") which require indoctrination. Religion is a learned set of beliefs and behaviors; atheism is the "default" setting of all humans. Calling atheism a doctrine is simply a childish bit of "projection" on the part of theists.

--Atheism "requires more faith than Christianity."
Nonsense. Atheism is, in large part, the complete lack of faith in a particular doctrine ("God exists"). It would be truer to say that atheism requires more reason than Christianity. Being an atheist requires no special effort or act of will on my part. Devout theists, however, seemingly have to keep reminding themselves that they believe in God.

--Atheists "are often very angry at the God they claim does not exist."
Logically, an atheist can't be angry at a God he doesn't believe in. This statement does, though, represent a certain type of individual--someone who is having a "crisis of faith," or even perhaps someone who is in transition. I have no doubt that people like this exist (I'm reminded of certain characters in Dostoevsky), but they are not atheists (not yet, anyway).

--"Back in my days as an atheist, [...] I rejected Christianity largely because it would not have allowed me to continue getting drunk and high every night while splitting time between four girlfriends."
Wow. Where to begin with this steaming little pile of shit? First of all, notice how the author tries to deceive with his choice of words--he didn't reject God, he rejected Christianity. Nope, not an atheist. Notice also how he equates "immoral" behavior with atheism, as if there have never been any "evil" believers or "saintly" atheists. (I suppose he was also a communist during this atheistic interlude.) In fact, I would argue that this sounds more like "Satanism" than atheism: a conscious rejection of Christian morality in favor of a hedonistic, egoistic lifestyle. Whatever. The fact that his morality (even at that point in his life) ultimately derives from Christian doctrine shows clearly that he was not an "atheist." Besides, does he seriously expect us to believe that there are no Christians who get high and fuck around and that everyone who gets high and fucks around is an atheist?

I'd say this guy was bullshitting us, or call him a liar, but that would make him out to be somewhat un-Christian. Let's just chalk it up to stupidity...

[Update: I forgot to add a link in the text to Satanism. That's been fixed.]

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Juxtapose"

For Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge this week, Dave has randomly selected the word "juxtapose" (to place close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast).

I hadn't really given much thought to what I was going to do with this one, but last night as I was looking over a bunch of disappointingly crappy photos I'd taken at the beach in the afternoon it came to me: why not take a few of these pics and see if I can improve them, or at least make them a bit more interesting, and then juxtapose the "raw" images with the "finished" ones?

A couple of things before getting to the pics. Firstly, I'm not a professional photographer (and there's a very good chance that many who see this aren't either). The biggest problem I have with my shots these days are usually related in some way to lighting. There's a lot of freely available software out there that can help people fix problems with their pics. I use something called GIMPshop (it's like a freeware version of Adobe Photoshop). I'd put myself somewhere between novice and intermediate at using this stuff; this software has a lot of features and functions, so it takes a bit of time, patience, and practice to start getting the hang of it--don't give up! I first started with basic things like rotating pics (to "straighten" them out) and cropping (useful for getting rid of peripheral stuff and/or centering the subject, etc.). I think generally the most serious lighting problems on typical shots can be fixed by tweaking the brightness and contrast (duh!), but you can also do a lot with "curves." The only other function I use (I'm still trying to figure out all the other ones!) is color balance. Get the hang of this one and you're on your way!

As I said, I'm no pro (far from it!), but believe me, it is possible to save a lot of pics that you might have thought were shit. Whether or not I've "saved" the pics below I'll leave up to you to decide. Hell, maybe you like the "before" shots better!

Please click shots to enlarge them.

Before 1

After 1

Before 2

After 2

Before 3

After 3

Before 4

After 4

The Sty in Socrates' Eye

We've heard this kind of crap before, but recent "research" claims that "people who believe in God are happier than agnostics or atheists." It seems that religious people are "better able to cope with disappointments such as unemployment or divorce than non-believers." And that's not all! These people "become even happier the more they pray and go to church"!

On the flip side, however, it seems also that these happy-go-lucky folk tended to be both more socially conservative and "less likely to look for a new job if they were out of work."

Now, if that doesn't paint a clear enough image your mind, consider the following, from "A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder":
It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains--that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant.[*]
RP Bentall
Department of Clinical Psychology, Liverpool University.

Clearly all that remains is a bit of empirical research to sort out "chickens" from "eggs," that sort of thing, followed by a general culling of happy fools from positions of power. Then maybe the rest of us can get some fucking work done.

[*] If anyone knows whether this went beyond the stage of "proposal," please let me know!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Scoop

Every doubt I've ever had about American mainstream media has been confirmed. This is an actual headline from an actual American TV network's website:
Hillary At White House on 'Stained Blue Dress' Day

Way to fucking go, guys. Wow. You really got to the bottom of things this time, didn't you?
Fucking assholes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2001: Clarke and Kubrick

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

Arthur C. Clarke died today, and I was reminded of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Clarke wrote the novel, which was based on an earlier story of his, The Sentinel; both Clarke and Stanley Kubrick are credited for the screenplay of Kubrick's movie. Clarke, perhaps feeling like most of us, has said that he wasn't quite sure what Kubrick was up to in the movie's ending. I have a very clear memory of sitting in a movie theater and watching 2001 when I was 11 or 12 years old. I had thought that I was going to see a "science fiction" movie (you know, space ships, adventure, and stuff). I understand now that the movie I watched then was, indeed, a science fiction movie. At the time, though, it was all I could do simply to sit and be bombarded by the stunning images on the screen which, by the movie's end, left me feeling a bit shell-shocked. I don't mean this in a negative way at all. No. I had no idea what this movie was about and I couldn't give a coherent account of it's plot. I knew, though, that it was good. I'm still not sure I understand the movie, and I'm certainly not going to try to explain it here and now (although if you've got some time to kill, there's no shortage of attempts at explaining 2001; some are interesting, some are a bit silly). I'd recommend reading Clarke's novel to anyone who likes the movie but doesn't quite get what Kubrick is trying to express. Both the novel and the movie are concerned with themes of human evolution (with humanity being one step in a process), the dangers of technology, and the details of traveling in space. Clarke explains what Kubrick shows.

I Want a Raise!

Nothing like a vanity boost while browsing the web. I should show this to my wife the next time I bring up the topic of buying a drum kit...

bedroom toys

And yes, that's a comma (not a decimal point!).

[H/T: Glenn]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pier-type Thing

Click to enlarge.

What's the Opposite of "Squalor"?

If anyone was alarmed by the horrid appearance of my office (and, by extension, me!) a couple of posts ago, the picture below should calm your fears:

I've been busy!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Working Overtime

I've been a bit busy lately. Having fun...

XTC-Senses Working Overtime

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Squalor"

The theme this week for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge this week is "squalor." Unfortunately I haven't had time this week to go out and take a picture of some place in a condition of squalor, so today I've been sitting here at work racking my brain and hoping for inspiration. If only there were someplace nearby that at least had the appearance of being squalid...

I gazed at my work area...

I looked again...

Some detail began to emerge. Was this a cry for help?

Friday, March 14, 2008

On Orthodoxy

Another nice quote from 1984 (Chapter 5):
"[...] Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

Personally, I quite like thinking...

Cracked Wall

Click to enlarge.


Anytime I read about politics or religion these days, I'm reminded of this passage in Orwell's 1984 (Chapter 5):
'There is a word in Newspeak,' said Syme, 'I don't know whether you know it: duckspeak, to quack like a duck. It is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied to someone you agree with, it is praise.'

Drive My Car with the Devil

Hilariously brilliant, The Beatles featuring David Lee Roth:

[H/T: Sivacracy]

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Vending Machines, No. 27

Click to enlarge.

Unrelated Segments

This morning I asked my 5-year-old what she wanted to do today. She told me that she wanted to go to the park. When I explained that we couldn't go to the park because it was raining she paused for a moment to think about it, shrugged, and calmly said "fuck it." My wife, naturally enough, was not amused. As I sputtered plausible denials from behind a mask of fatherly concern, I reflected on my daughter's quite impressive sense of timing (awkward for me though it was) and her natural-sounding pronunciation and intonation. I guess it's just the "teacher" in me.


I think I've found the "perfect" death metal tune. Whether or not it's actually "good" remains an open question. It really gets going at about the 43 second mark. Bonus points if you can pick out a single word in any known language from the "vocals.".


I stumbled across this oddity in my music archives the other day, from a movie trailer (or possibly a radio ad) for Another Day, Another man (1966): "Possessed with sex, they know no shame!" I'd pay just to hear the music for this one!
Another Day, Another Man

And check out the poster (click to enlarge)! They just don't make 'em like this any more.


Click to enlarge.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Bamboozle"

For Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge this week, Dave has (randomly?) selected the word "bamboozle."

Unfortunately I've been much too busy this week putting the finishing touches on a business deal that I'm confident will make me independently wealthy for the rest of my life and allow me to retire within the next few months! I can't spell out the details just yet, but I'll let the pic below serve as a hint:

Wish me luck!