Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cool New Project Using iMovie '09

More symptoms of my genealogy obsessive/compulsive behavior to report: one of my uncles sent me a couple of video tapes of family reunions from 1990 and 2003 and I had them transferred to DVD last week. Now I'm starting to learn iMovie '09 and am having a great time doing it. This will take some effort to get good at it, although iMovie lets you produce decent video right away. Two reasons: first, there are a gazillion options to choose from at all stages of the work flow (e.g., using Handbrake to import the DVD to any of several video file formats), and second, it takes a while to process video on an iMac. My first 4-minute, 14-second clip looks like it will take several hours to convert to a QuickTime file. The screen scrape at the top of this post shows a current prediction of eight hours (!!!) but hopefully that'll drop more quickly than real time when I stop doing other stuff on the computer at the same time.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Bishop" Apologizes for Holocaust Denial

I don't understand. Zenit reports that "Bishop Richard Williamson, formerly excommunicated member of the Society of St. Pius X, apologized today for statements in which he denied the extent of the [1933-1945 Jewish] holocaust." Of course the holocaust is a fact, but what can this sentence possibly mean?

"Bishop" Williamson is no bishop and he's barely a Catholic. He was "ordained" a "bishop" in 1988 by one Marcel Lefebvre, a man portraying himself as a Catholic archbishop, who was in reality a former archibishop who had separated himself from the Catholic Church: in 1988 during the papacy of Pope John Paul the Great, after a very extended period of rancorous rebellion against the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, Mr. Marcel Lefebvre automatically excommunicated himself as a consequence of this very "ordination" of Mr. Williamson and three other members of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X ("SSPX").

For some unknown reason the Vatican lifted the excommunication of the six private citizens of France (natch) involved in the 1988 "consecrations" last month. This means that the remaining five men (Mr. Lefebvre died in 1991) are now, barely, members of the Roman Catholic Church. But under no circumstances are any "bishops" that were "consecrated" by Mr. Lefebvre actually bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. Well, I guess they are about as much "bishops" as the emotionally troubled women who announce that they have ordained each other as "priests" from time to time.

I do not know what led Pope Benedict XVI to regularize relations between the Holy See and SSPX to some extent. And maybe he regularized relations to the full extent, whatever that might mean. For example, are Catholics REALLY expected to consider these men bishops??? As far as I am concerned, they are simply private citizens who are no longer excommunicated owing to the mercy of their betters in Rome. True Catholics are loyal to the Pope and to the Magisterium and Mr. Richard Williamson, while now apparently a Catholic again, is still a nut job and should attend Mass as often as possible and keep his fool mouth shut (if he ever wants to be taken seriously by anybody, that is).

[Edit: See update by me in the comments section.]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama's America is "A Nation of Cowards"

It just keeps getting funnier. Now Obama's Attorney General is calling us a "Nation of Cowards" because "the level of social interaction among people of different races is bleak and that it in many ways does not differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago." So says the first black Attorney General, appointed by the first black President. As annoying as the Examiner is (they keep throwing their free papers on my lawn, even after I asked them nicely to stop), they got off a pretty good line in response yesterday:
"This is the same Holder who kowtowed to Bill Clinton to help secure Clinton’s pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. And the same Holder who prostrated himself to Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions by helping arrange pardons for 16 Puerto Rican terrorists."
Heh! But seriously folks, is a race baiter at Justice qualitatively any different from a tax cheat at Treasury?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Abort Obama, Not the Unborn"

Un-f***ing-believable. In Obama's America, if you dare to question Groupthink(TM), you will be investigated. And if Big Brother says you're guilty, then by God YOU ARE GUILTY!!! And if he says you're not... well, we'll still be keeping an eye on you.

Here's what some others who obviously haven't gotten with the program either think...(link)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Gigantic Obama Spending Frenzy

The Obama socialist spending machine gathers steam. Is there no limit to what the Democrats will spend to try to redeem insane lending practices involving people who had no business getting home loans in the first place? Can a person go bankrupt or can a business fail anymore in America? Are we just going to keep accumulating economic sludge under our fenders until the entire capitalist machine simply doesn't roll anymore? Far be it from me to give anyone an opportunity to label justifiable outrage at what is going on as Ayn Rand Objectivism, because that route is heartless, artless, and a faux economic "philosophy". But it is not crazy to wonder what is going to happen when the grownups who actually CREATE wealth in this country -- through moderate living, responsibility, and tenacity -- say, "What am I busting my ass for?"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Whither America?

This is very depressing to me. I gotta go buy a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and watch cartoons. For like the next eight years.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Home Edition of Mathematica Available

I've written before about my fascination with Mathematica but it has always been way too expensive to have a copy. In its very early days, it was included free with every NeXT computer sold, and it was only a few hundred bucks to buy it otherwise. Consequently, there are quite a few references in Wolfram materials about how "hobbyists" were among the million or so users. Alas, it has been priced at about $3000 for as long as I can remember, which puts it well out of the range of hobbyists. Now, however, Wolfram is selling a full version of Mathematica 7.0.1 as a download from their web site for a price that is considerably better. Due to a licensing agreement at my work, it is possible for employees to get a "home copy" of Mathematica for free but my experience with this has been somewhat problematic: the license was always expiring and it would be weeks before it would be reinstated and the available version was always one (or two!) generations behind the current version. So I went ahead and bought a copy at the reduced price , thereby joining the storied ranks of the hobbyists, or "amateurs" (to be understood, also, in the sense in which Peter Kreeft uses this word in one of his books: "lover"). A contributor to one of the political blogs I regularly read is named John Derbyshire, who has written a couple of books about math. I like his books, but look askance at his politics sometimes. Nevertheless, I like what he said in his 2003 book, Prime Obsession,
"I should perhaps say, for the benefit of any reader so fired up by my exposition as to be on the point of running out and buying a math software package, that very strong opinions are held about the relative merits of the different packages, along the lines of the evergreen PC/Macintosh debate, with Stephen Wolfram, who created Mathematica, playing the part of Bill Gates. As a mere journalist, I consider myself hors de combat in this war. I am certainly not propagandizing on behalf of Mathematica. It was the first math software package that came to my attention, and it is the only one I have ever used."