Mark Regnerus' Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers. - By Hanna Rosin - Slate Magazine

Mark Regnerus' Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers. - By Hanna Rosin - Slate Magazine: "Evangelical teens today are much less sheltered than their parents were; they watch the same TV and listen to the same music as everyone else, which causes a "cultural collision," according to Regnerus. "Be in the world, but not of it," is the standard Christian formula for how to engage with mainstream culture. But in a world hypersaturated with information, this is difficult for tech-savvy teenagers to pull off. There are no specific instructions in the Bible on how to avoid a Beyoncé video or Scarlett Johansson's lips calling to you from YouTube, not to mention the ubiquitous porn sites. For evangelicals, sex is a "symbolic boundary" marking a good Christian from a bad one, but in reality, the kids are always "sneaking across enemy lines," Regnerus argues."


It's about time ...

Education: Getting Your Freak On Just Got Harder (Seattle Weekly)

I was wondering when teens would do a proper job of inventing behavior that would be repugnant to their parents.

They've finally done it!

I know there was the tongue splitting thing ... but let's face it, hardly anyone did it.

But now there is "freak dancing" which basically simulates sex while dancing. (See picture near top of linked article.)

Now we're getting somewhere. And apparently everyone is doing it!

So many kids are doing it, and getting kicked out of school dances, that there is no one left at the dance when it is supposed to end!

Thank God we homeschool our children and they aren't exposed to this stuff. (You don't suppose they read my blog, do you? [Actually, they don't. Not interested.])

[I re-read this and it sounds like I'm a prude which I'm not. Heh. It's not so much that I'm against grind dancing as I am pro childhood. Childhood is a precious thing and kids are pushed out of it too quickly. That's one of the premises of unschooling - let your kids play! They'll learn to explore and have fun and it turns out (in general) they'll actually retain the information they do learn. Imagine that.]

Mozilla Firefox - Smart Keywords

Mozilla Firefox - Smart Keywords

These are so useful and I always forget how to set them up. The built-in help in Firefox is useless in this regard.


Why I still don't have Hi-Def

What's the Matter with HDMI? — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News

I don't have hi-def because it's easy to buy a hi-def TV but to really enjoy TV these days requires an entire ecosystem of support. In the early days of DVD it was necessary to tell your tuner/amp what kind of audio signal it was receiving and if you screwed up you got a blast of noise that would hurt your ears.

Today, you can buy a decent up-converting tuner/amp for $450.00, with a modest number of HDMI inputs (two or three). In the long run, this is no where near enough inputs. And since there's potentially copy protection to deal with, the entire food chain from your hi-def source to your TV needs to obey some obscure and poorly implemented rules in order to reliably produce a picture you can enjoy.

The whole "standardization" situation right now is a cluster fuck - you know that's true when HDMI cables have version numbers.

If I was a single guy with one TV and an Xbox 360 or PS3 and some other Hi-Def source (cable box or even over-the-air antennae) then it would be easy to buy the right equipment and it would work tolerably. But if you want the same flexibility you have now with standard-def then I think waiting a couple of more years until things settle out is a good idea.

Certainly waiting until now has been a good idea, as most hi-def TVs weren't "Full hi-def" (1080p) and didn't have anywhere enough pixels to even display a reasonable "hi-def" picture.

So I'm waiting a couple of more years. Eventually the S3 TiVo (with more disk space) will be cheap, and oversampling LCD hi-def TVs will be cheap, and the cables will work, and the tuners will work, DVD burners of some type will exist and be cheap, and so on. Then I'll consider upgrading the whole house. Until then, I'm enjoying the fact that standard-def keeps looking better and better as a result of the overall video pipelines converting to hi-def and then downsampling for standard-def.

(Update 2007-11-24: I have Hi-Def now, a year ahead of schedule. It's 1080p, it looks great, and even standard def looks pretty good. And supposedly the fluorescent lights that power the backlight won't get dim for 22 years. At least, that's the hope.)


GameSpot - Roads to Victory

Game Rankings - Roads to Victory:
There are a few other issues that keep the combat from being fun for more than a few levels. Although the controls are pretty good, they're still not on par with those on a console or PC. To compensate for this, enemy artificial intelligence is quite poor. Sometimes you'll be just a few feet away from soldiers, but they won't have been "activated," and they'll stand next to you, staring off into space. Even when you shoot them, they'll stand out in the open and take fire. The poor AI, combined with frequent respawning of soldiers, makes it feel as if you're playing some sort of WWII-themed shooting gallery at times. Enemy AI might be poor, but that doesn't mean you won't die. Getting blown away by unseen fire is commonplace thanks to enemies that shoot at you from offscreen and kill you before you're able to turn and locate them. While the levels typically take about 15 minutes to beat (if you don't die), there are no midlevel save points, and the game saves your progress only at the end of the level. This would be a mere inconvenience if it weren't for the fact that you must replay entire levels when the game crashes. We experienced several freezing-and-crashing issues, particularly later in the game. Roads to Victory's multiplayer is also a letdown. Up to six players can play deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill, and a few other modes via an ad hoc connection, but there's no online play to speak of, and there's no game sharing either.

Go Michael!

(Maybe it's time for David to optimize things again.)


What happened when I followed The Secret's advice for two months. - By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine

What happened when I followed The Secret's advice for two months. - By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine:

So, I vowed to follow Byrne's simple rules for abundance and see what happened. The book encourages one to start big: "It is as easy to manifest one dollar as it is to manifest one million dollars." But I thought starting with the million-dollar manifestation was like saying, "I love you" on a first date; I didn't want to scare the universe into not taking my calls. I came up with three things I thought the universe would find reasonable: a kitchen floor, unclogged sinuses, and a new desk.

At this point I should add that The Secret is not only drivel—it's pernicious drivel. The obvious question that arises from its claim that it's easy to get what you want, is: Why do so many people get what they don't want? As Byrne writes, "Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity's ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness." Yes, according to The Secret, people don't just randomly end up being massacred, for example. They are in the wrong place because of their own lousy thinking. Cancer patients have long been victims of this school of belief. But The Secret takes it to a new and more repulsive level with its advice not just to blame people for their illness, but to shun them, lest you start being infected by their bummer thoughts, too.

The Secret is Christian Science all over again.

Why do so many people get what they don't want? As Byrne writes, "Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity's ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness." Yes, according to The Secret, people don't just randomly end up being massacred, for example.

I was raised a Christian Scientist, until I was 20, so this is familiar territory. I had horrible acne in High School. After praying over it for 2 years, it finally went away. Although I suspect it had less to do with praying and more to do with washing my face once a day with clean non-soapy water. I had Chicken Pox when I was about six; it went away after three weeks of praying.

To be sure, our thoughts affect us a great deal. The brain is the biggest gland in the body. My one healing in Christian Science was when I was stung by a bee and my hand was swelling up. My Dad came in and said, "That's not necessary!" He said it with such authority and I was so afraid of him that the swelling went away. But that's actually just hypnotism and suggestion and/or perhaps activating some glandular part of your brain.

Also, to be sure, when a person with great personal power like Steve Jobs says, "I'm going to dominate the digital media world," it comes true. Now Jobs is saying, "I'm going to get rid of our lame copy protection system and sell unprotected MP3s!" and it might come true. But if Joe Blow says that, not much is going to happen.

I think the problem with Christian Science and books like The Secret are that they overstate the case. Positive thinking is good. Focusing on what you want is good - shit, even figuring out what you want is good. But deciding the universe is at your beck and call is bad. Even Gates, one of the most powerful people on the planet, chooses his battles. His company dominates in a couple of areas and as far as the big money goes, that's where Microsoft focuses. Everything else is a dalliance, and the chief owner knows it. Now Gates is focusing on certain medical issues world-wide. He's not just throwing his money anywhere. Likewise with Oprah - she's focusing her charitable work in places she cares about. Then you have Al Gore standing up for global warming but since he's not quite focused and has errors in his presentation he might end up doing more harm than good in the long run.

"As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," (Proverbs 23:7) I believe the author was talking about character, not control of the universe.

(BTW, I recommend, Christian Science, by Mark Twain.)