Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Insanity: A mob angered by an al-Qaida-linked suicide bombing in a Shiite mosque set a KFC restaurant on fire in overnight rioting, killing six employees and bringing the day's overall death toll to 12, police said Tuesday. What does KFC or its employees have to do with the mosque bombing?
Tragic Irony: A teenager's killing rampage in Ohio perplexed school officials, who said he seemed to have been in good spirits. His name? Scott Moody.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Gnosticism implies that Christian history is an imprisoning antiqueish (sic), structure, unnecessary, and that Jesus is not God, nor, certainly, a Savior. Gnostics were an elitist sect who believed in arcane knowledge to save souls their own, human way. They wanted some apocryphal ("hidden") gospels to be part of the Bible, which is Brown's agenda, saying these unreliable, sometimes unrational (sic) accounts are necessary for holiness....Mormons in the last century similarly said there was an alternative revelation--to Joseph Smith in New York, which alleged that so-called "lost Israelite tribes" continued via native American Indians to present-day Mormon lineages. And, Jesus wasn't divine or eternal. Thus, Mormons are not Christians. [emphasis added]From what I understand about gnosticism, the first part of what he said was true. But it's like he couldn't resist the temptation to use it as a jab at "Mormons." To be nitpicky:
- "similarly" implies that the message of the Mormons was somehow akin to the gnostic gospels, or to the message of The Da Vinci Code, depending on what you attach it to. Not true.
- "alternative revelation" again implies that Joseph Smith's revelations were an alternative to Christianity or the belief that Christ is our God and Savior. Contrariwise, Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon totally testify of Jesus Christ's divinity and eternal nature.
- "continued via native American Indians to present-day Mormon lineages" -- Is he saying that Mormons are claiming to be descendants of Nephites? He's totally off the mark.
- "And, Jesus wasn't divine or eternal" -- See point 2. The entire LDS faith is centered around Jesus Christ, and the belief that He is our God. In fact, the official name of the LDS Church is: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Unlike Father Jack's "Catholic Church," we actually take on the name of Jesus Christ, like He told us to! Yet, I've noticed that many non-LDS people prefer to call us "Mormons" so they don't have to deal with this truth.
Real scholars aren't immune to this syndrome, either. Carl E. Olson and Sandra Miesel wrote The Da Vinci Hoax in order to use a scholarly and fact-filled approach to debunking the claims of The Da Vinci Code. Yes, the mistaken claims of The Da Vinci Code are so numerous that people have written fairly sizeable books about them. I finished reading The Da Vinci Hoax this morning, and I found it for the most part very informative. It was nice that on most of their points they provided sources that you could follow to verify what they were saying. They also told you (when possible) where Dan Brown (the DVC's author) got his ideas, revealing that most of the information came from a selective interpretation of already-flawed information from two different books. But I digress.
Despite the generally truthful and factual nature of the book, the authors couldn't help using it to make a jab at the LDS faith. After describing the general gist of Gnosticism, page 70 states:
The appeal of secret knowledge and the promise of elite techniques for harnessing the spiritual realm make gnosticism appealing to a diverse range of cultures and peoples, from second-century Valentinians to the medieval Cathars of France to the nineteenth-century followers of Joseph Smith and modern-day New Agers.So they're saying that the reason people join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to gain some kind of "secret knowledge" and "elite techniques," and they imply (but stop just short of actually stating) that we have some kind of mystical, non-Christian view of the world, and that we use the gnostic gospels or something. Of course, they offer no reference source for this allegation. Then, in the very next sentence, they launch into a paragraph about the Heavens Gate cult. Frankly, I find the association insulting.
I guess I just wish that people would get their facts straight before acting like what they say is "Gospel Truth."
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Friday, May 27, 2005
So I buckled down and wrote this little application to do it automatically. It's pretty self-explanatory. Just download both files into the same folder (any folder will do) and run M4AtoM4B.exe.
By downloading and/or running this application, you agree not to use it for evil purposes, and you won't allow anybody else to get their grubby paws on it except by having them go through this website first. While I see no reason why it should hurt your computer in any way, I can make no guarantees as to the safety of your files, folders, programs, hardware, life, liberty, or property if you use this program. Good luck.
So, without further ado, the files:
- Interop.iTunesLib.dll (necessary library for interfacing with iTunes)
- M4AtoM4B.exe (the file to run)
Another handy feature, by the way, is that the "Clean" button will search and remove dead tracks from your iTunes Library. So if you've moved stuff around manually and now you have a bunch of dead links, you can use this tool to automatically clean house.
If you have suggestions for improvement, stick a comment to this blog entry. I'll get to it when I can.
The program was written in C# using Visual Studio .NET 2003. If you're on an older computer, you might need to head over to the Windows Update site and get the .NET runtime.
Update: Many people have asked about the possibility of merging their audio book files into one file. Dagon Design has an article about Turning MP3 Audiobooks into iPod Audiobooks which gives a good overview of the whole process, including a link to an MP3 Merger tool that can be used to merge your MP3 files into a single file. Thanks to an anonymous commenter for this tip-off.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I have just signed the National Petition to Congress urging them to enact the Support Our Scouts Act of 2005. This legislation has been drafted by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and has been endorsed by the Boy Scouts of America.
There has never been a time when Scouting has been more important to our young men and to our nation than it is now. Yet, there has never been a time when Scouting has been under greater attack than now.
This bill will ensure that the federal government will continue to support Scouting and that the Scouts will be treated fairly and equally with all other youth groups. More background information is posted, along with the National Petition, is posted on the Scouting Legal Defense Fund's Web site. (http://ctserver.ath.cx/sldf/petition.html)
The homosexual activists and others who are attacking Scouting are organizing to defeat this bill, so it is essential that all of us willing to defend Scouting let Congress know that we support it.
I hope you will visit this site and sign this National Petition. It takes just a moment.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Just to put a bit more context to this cover - if it's dated Feb 2 as Riding Sun states, then it was on the newstands as the Iraqis risked their lives to vote.And apparently the cover wasn't the only difference. The story titled "Dream on, America" in the International Edition ("America, the dream country, is rotting away" in the Japanese edition) was never printed in the U.S. edition. Now, I can understand choosing not to print a story with only localized interest. For instance, I doubt the Europeans care that much about Terri Schiavo, or in this case, the Oscars. But I would think that if America is rotting away, that might be an important story for Americans to hear about. Another commentor on the same blog compared it to "when Arafat used to say one thing in English--a kinder, gentler Arafat--and another in Arabic."
On the brighter side, here's an article about how America's presence in the Middle East has been a catalyst for changes for the better. This is the first time I've heard this particular viewpoint, so I'm not going to take it at face value. But I'd like to consider it, just because it seems like an informed opinion.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Oh, and then we managed to enrage the Muslim world by not preventing a British newspaper from obtaining and printing photos of Saddam Hussein standing in his underpants, folding his pants. Gee, poor ousted dictator. Be sure you don't mention that he ordered his own citizens raped, tortured and killed. Hush: That might cause some people not to show him the kind of respect that he deserves.
A funny side note: as Riding Sun points out, there was a very interesting difference between Newsweek's covers in early February of this year. The American one was all about the Oscars, whereas the Japanese one features an American flag in the trashcan. Pretty ironic, considering they are now criticizing the U.S. for the alleged disrespect of an important symbol. The Force of Human Freedom printed a translation of the table of contents.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Slate has an interesting piece describing an economist's essay that explains in quantifiable terms why people choose to follow faiths that have strict rules of obedience and such. A couple of excerpts:
Iannaccone starts by asking why people join strict churches, given that doing so exacts such a high price. Eccentric customs invite ridicule and persecution; membership in a marginal church may limit chances for social and economic advancement; rules of observance bar access to apparently innocent pleasures; the entire undertaking squanders time that could have been spent amusing or improving oneself.
What does the pious person get in return for all of his or her time and effort? A church full of passionate members; a community of people deeply involved in one another's lives and more willing than most to come to one another's aid; a peer group of knowledgeable souls who speak the same language (or languages), are moved by the same texts, and cherish the same dreams.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Now I'm back home, and I'm going to continue cleaning up my room while Liz fills out job applications. Fun stuff.
Saith the Post-Donation and Call-Back Instructions:
A rainbow of color may occur for about 10 days
Friday, May 13, 2005
Is a school principal allowed to tell students they can't have Bible study during recess?
Or how about this one:
Wesley's teacher had invited Busch to her classroom at Culbertson Elementary School on Oct. 18 as part of "Me Week," in which the class would learn more about a featured student...And here's a sad story:
One of the activities involves the student's parent reading aloud from a favorite book in class. Busch said her son's favorite book is the Bible.
But before the teacher would let Busch continue, she said she would have to get permission from Principal Thomas Cook. After a meeting in the hall, Cook informed Busch she couldn't read the Bible in class...
Newsweek magazine said in its May 9 edition that investigators probing abuses at the U.S. military prison in Cuba found that interrogators "had placed Korans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet."That is despicable behavior. Utterly inexcusable. That needs to be investigated. If it's really happening, it needs to be stopped, and somebody in charge needs to be removed from their position for allowing (or encouraging, as the case may be) that sort of behavior. But killing people is really the wrong way to go about it. If God (Allah, whatever) had the option of seeing one human being kill another and seeing one human being flush a holy book down the toilet, where do you think His priorities would be? I don't know what the Koran teaches, but the Bible says our bodies are temples. Do you destroy one of God's temples in retribution for the destruction of scriptures?
Monday, May 09, 2005
It was also interesting to be going so far out of my way to save a little money. I mean, it's not that I was wasting time; I was able to read through some important files while I was on the bus and waiting for the bus. But for the past couple of years, my time was worth so much more than my money that I would hardly hesitate to just drive to the local stylist and have my hair done for $15 or $20 (plus tip). Now, suddenly, time spent on a bus is no longer time spent away from schoolwork or away from a paying job. Since I'm saving my money for a mission and I no longer have a reliable source of income, my priorities have changed. Rather than waste money on gas and car maintenance, I would rather use the free bus pass that I have left over from when I was a student. And I'm willing to go halfway across town just to get the cheapest haircut. It's really a different way of thinking... and I'm glad to see that it isn't a difficult transition for me. I see so many people that get used to a particular lifestyle and just can't seem to adopt a different mentality when they find that their situation has changed.
On a similar note, I'd like to mention something interesting I noticed on Mothers Day. I spent the evening with Liz's family, and I got to see Liz's mom opening her Mothers Day gifts. It was incredible to see her open each gift--some oven mits, a box of wheat crackers, some cottage cheese--and just see her eyes light up and see that she was genuinely thankful for each and every one of those gifts. I thought that was really neat. It's so different from what I grew up with, and in some ways I hope my own family can be more like that when the time comes.
And while I'm on the subject of money, I might mention that my step-grandma has decided to hire me to give her computer lessons. I think that'll be pretty fun, and it certainly won't hurt to be making a little extra money. Who knows, maybe I can even afford to keep my cable Internet access. That's one thing I think I'll have a really difficult time doing without.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
First of all, if you download and install Mozilla Firefox (which is a much better browser than Internet Explorer), you will be able to glance at my blog entries from your bookmarks to see if there's anything new, like this:
To do this, visit my blog in Firefox, and then follow the directions for Adding Live Bookmarks here.
Thunderbird will even let you download my blog entries along with your email, and read them at your leisure, like this:
This is slightly more complicated, but if you follow the directions under "Creating an RSS News and Blogs Account" here, you should be ok. When you are asked for feed's location, type:
Well, I'm pretty much graduated now. I got my little diploma cover and everything. Of course, it'll be a couple of months before they actually send me a diploma, but I'm pretty sure I covered all my bases as far as getting my requirements out of the way. Wouldn't it be terrible to find out a couple of months after commencement and graduation that you didn't graduate after all?
I decided not to go to commencement (the entire University), and instead went to the Convocation for the College of Engineering. Even so, it took soooo long. I felt sorry for my family, having to sit through all of that just to see me get a diploma case. And then it occurred to me that they were the reason I was there, and not the other way around. So I felt sorry for me instead. ;-)
Now, to enjoy my free time!
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Some of us are probably going to polish the it up and look into the possibility of selling it. We all agreed (in writing) that each team member gets 10% of net profits as royalties if that happens. It probably won't make a whole ton of money, but it could be nice to have a little money coming into my account while I'm serving a mission.
After demoing the project and signing the royalty agreement, I finally went home and crashed--or, was about to. Once my cell phone started charging, it realized that I had about 5 voice mails, so I figured I'd better check them. After I'd listened to the first one, I got an incoming call from my Dad, who said my Aunt Loralee had called my stepmom to say that nobody had seen me since Sunday (which is silly, because Mom saw me Monday and probably even Tuesday morning). I guess Mom never checked her email, and lost Liz's phone number so she couldn't ask Liz if she knew where I was, and so when Loralee called her to convince her to go to a Xango meeting, she said that the first priority for her when she gets home is to find out where James is. Loralee asked, and Mom explained that she hadn't seen me for "a couple of days" (this was Wednesday afternoon), and so Loralee took it on herself to try to track me down through my dad's family. Sheesh. Well, needless to say, when I got off the phone with my dad I found that the remaining voice mails were all Mom trying to figure out where I was, except for the last one, which was Loralee doing the same. Once I got all of that straightened out, I was able to get to bed and I slept until 7:00 this morning.
After finishing my last day at work (!) today I went to school to pick up my "regalia" (cap & gown). As I was about to leave, I noticed a car had poked itself into my bumper. I guess somebody'd forgotten to put their parking brake on. Luckily, they got back in time to pull their car back out, after which the bumper assumed its original shape and we all went home happy.
One of the other team's leaders in my Senior Project class emailed the Professor because his team is unhappy about the grade they got, and he accidentally copied the email to the whole class. That made me nervous until I got a chance to check my own grade--It's an "A"!!!! I am so happy! I'm pretty positive that the rest of my grades will be A's, too, since my demo Wednesday went so well and my only other class was the Industry Forum (easy "A"). Talk about ending school on a good note! I think I'm gonna go dancing tonight.