Thursday, December 22, 2005

Awww, He Thinks He's People!

Elton John and partner 'tie the knot'

And according to the IMDB report, "The 'newlyweds' left Guildhall at 11:45am..."

Here we see one of the problems with only allowing civil unions, while leaving "marriage" exclusively heterosexual: The patronizing use of quote marks around words and phrases like "tie the knot". It conveys a sense of, "Awwww, look at the cute little gay people, pretending they're married! How precious!"

My preferred solution, by the way, is to remove the word "marriage" from the law books entirely. Those who oppose legalizing gay marriage have a valid point: "Marriage" is not just a civil institution, it is also a religious ceremony. The problem is, to the extent that they are correct about this, it means the government shouldn't be involving itself with marriage at all. So I say separate the parts out: Civil unions for everyone, gay or straight, for the legal/civil/secular reasons and benefits, and let the churches decide which relationships they will bless with the word "marriage". And, incidentally, I have no doubt that if this were the case, there would be churches willing to perform homosexual marriage ceremonies. United Church of Christ, for example.

Incidentally, although CNN couldn't manage to report on Elton and David's wedding without diminishing its status with quote marks, Fox News, those evil right-wing bastards, treated the union as real throughout their version of the story. One might almost accuse them of being fair and balanced...

Also, I'm heading up to Wisconsin for Christmas, so I probably won't be posting anything until I get back next week.

Friday, December 16, 2005


So, my sweetie bought me a Lite-On 5005x DVD-Recorder for my birthday. OK, it didn't exactly involve mind-reading on her part, since I basically sent her a link to the order page on and said, "Gee, one of these would be really nice...hint, hint". Still, check this out: It records on damn near anything - DVDs in all the writeable formats, and CD-R/RW, both VCD and audio CD format. That was actually the main thing I was looking for - I have some old audio tapes I'd like to transfer to CD, and it seemed logical that a DVD recorder ought to also be able to record audio CDs, although this is one of the only models I could find that actually claims to be able to do so.

But that's not even the coolest part. The coolest part is that after finding this and deciding it was the one I wanted, I did a little online research and discovered that there is a simple-to-apply firmware hack that enables an additional (3-hour) LP recording mode, turns it into a region-free DVD player, and disables the Macrovision copy protection. So, I now have the ability to watch DVDs with any region encoding, and copy prerecorded (and copy-protected) VHS tapes or DVDs to a new DVD.

At the moment, I'm unwinding after hooking it up. I need to unwind because, while hooking it up, I decided I needed to dismantle my entire home audio/theater setup and reconnect everything. The cords had simply become far too entangled. Plus, the glass shelves in my component rack had become loose and dangerous, so while I had everything out, I wanted to re-tighten the screws holding them in place. So adding this simple home theater component ended up being a 5-6 hour job. But, everything's hooked up and working again, Tivo was clever enough to reschedule recording the Daily Show/Colbert Report episodes it had been planning to record while everything was unplugged, and I applied the firmware hack and verified that I now have a region-free DVD player. Yes, Chameleon, this does mean I should finally be able to watch that Doctor Who DVD you sent me. I'll let you know how I like it.

For my next trick: I want to work around some of the limitations in the system. Tivo only has one S-Video output, which is currently running to the TV. I'd like to split that so I can run it to both the TV and the new DVD recorder (instead of the icky composite connection it currently has). Likewise, I actually still need to hook the old DVD player up such that I can record DVDs. But these things can wait for another day. For now, I'm well pleased.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I know all the cool kids are using those little ear buds with their MP3 players, but I hate those things: They're uncomfortable, and the sound sucks. So why hasn't someone come out with a decent pair of real headphones with an MP3 player built right into them, so you don't even need a wire running anywhere? Heck, build it into a pair of wireless headphones I can use with my home stereo, so I can use them to listen to CDs/DVDs at home without disturbing the neighbors, and then take them right out with me to work or the gym to listen to the MP3s I've loaded into them. Is there something like this that I've just never seen advertised, or should I start trying to figure out a way to make money with this idea?

Granted: With the player up on your head, you wouldn't be able to see a display screen to select songs. However, an inability to select songs doesn't seem to have kept people from buying those little teeny iPods that only play songs in random shuffle order. Or satellite radio service, either. Hey: I wonder if satellite radio recievers have gotten small enough that you could strap one of them on the other side of these hypothetical MP3 headphones... :-)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Art or porn?

Art or porn?
You scored 10 out of a possible 10
There are two explanations for how you've done so well. 1: You're a devotee of great cinematic art, and recognise key moments in film history when you see them. 2: You have a huge stash of vintage porn.

"Intelligent Design" Theory Is Satanic

1 Corinthians 1:22-23 (NIV):
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles

Feel free to follow that link and read the entire chapter, or examine some of the other translations.

To paraphrase this passage (and some of the context): Some people require evidence (signs) proving the message of Christ, others require logic ("wisdom", and remember that Greeks pretty much invented formal logic). But Paul is saying here that you cannot arrive at God through either signs or wisdom, evidence or logic, only through faith.

Now, in order for that to be true, it must be that God's existence cannot be proven through either evidence or logic. After all, if it could, then it would be possible to arrive at God through signs or wisdom. God's message would not be "foolish", as Paul calls it - it would be demonstrable fact. So the Bible itself tells us that God's existence must be taken on faith, that there cannot be either scientific (evidentiary) or logical proof.

Therefore, the "Intelligent Design" theory, to the extent that it is remotely scientific, must be anti-Christian (if it isn't scientific, of course, then it certainly has no place in a high school science class, does it?). The underlying basis of ID is that there are some things which are so "irreducibly complex" that they must have been designed by an intelligence, and could not have come into existence in any other way.

But if that were true, then irreducible complexity would constitute a "miraculous sign" that proves God's existence, which is precisely what Paul says cannot be. In fact, in order for what Paul says to be true, there has to be a complete, coherent scientific explanation for the existence of life that doesn't involve God. If there were no such explanation, then God's existence could be demonstrated through that "miraculous sign", and faith would be unnecessary.

Therefore, ID theory attempts to undermine the Bible; it is against God. Since, by definition, anyone who is against God is serving Satan, ID advocates are Satanists. QED.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Rape Is No Laughing Matter..."

"...unless you're raping a clown."

I really hate being put in the position of defending these people, but I have to admit: I'm beginning to be a little bit disturbed by the way we're treating sex offenders.

Various places have passed or are preparing to pass ordinances forbidding registered sex offenders from residing within 2500 feet of a school, park or child-care facility. Only some of these ordinances appear to be restricted to offenders who committed crimes against children, despite the fact that I'm not aware of any evidence that those whose victims were adults are likely to attack children as well.

Ohio wants to make them display pink license plates. If that will make our children safer, why not go one step further: Make them sew some sort of symbol on their clothes. After all, the license plates would only allow us to target identify the ones who are driving. Which do you think would be better: A big scarlet letter, or a pink triangle?

Part of the problem here is that not every jurisdiction distinguishes between, say, a man convicted of repeatedly buggering six-year-olds, and an 18-year-old convicted of having sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. In some places, both of those people are "registered sex offenders". Also, as I said, someone who raped an adult, while clearly evil, is not necessarily a particular threat to children. But people lately seem to be using the term "sex offender" as if it were synonymous with "child molester" (unfortunately, I can't find the article I read the other day where that was really obvious).

But the problem I have is even more fundamental than that: We're starting to act as if people who commit sex crimes, specifically, have no civil liberties. Whether some crimes are worse than others, or whether we're even defining "sex offense" too broadly, is beside the point. I'm not comfortable with the idea that there is an entire class of crimes, the commission of which means that the offender has forfeited all of his natural rights for the rest of his life. If we can do that to these people, however creepy and nasty they may be, how long before the government begins to treat, say, drug dealers the same way? How about "hate crimes"? Or DUI?

This was kind of the point of the Larry Flynt case: If freedom of speech is to mean anything, then it must especially protect unpopular speech, because that is precisely the speech most likely to be censored by the majority. Likewise, if civil liberties and natural rights are to mean anything, then they must especially protect the most unpopular and reviled people in all society, because they are precisely the people most likely to be abused by the majority.

Yes, it's fun to fantasize about punishing sex criminals by castrating them with piano wire, but back in the real world, you don't really want to live under a government that would actually do something that barbaric, do you?

Incidentally, I suppose one could say very much the same thing about terrorists and those accused of supporting them...

Now that's Christmas spirit!

Go to this page. Watch the video from one of the links they give.

I'm sending you to the page about it, rather than one of the other multitude of places online that has this video, because they also provide a description of how it was done (and verify that it's real – I've seen it posted other places where people argued back & forth over whether it was live video or just edited together from still photos).