Debunking gurus, and such

Over at Guruphiliac, they make a entertaining site of sorts, in which they write up their thoughts on various gurus, holders of divine knowledge, and peddlers of whatever. In their own words:

While we understand that gurus are held sacred by many, they are also public figures deserving of scrutiny. Our primary aim is to inject a little humor into what can be an excessively self-righteous enterprise, and to illustrate the primary truth that no matter how divine their devotees believe them to be, gurus poop on the same pot we do.

What does this really amount to? Well, here’s a snippet from one of their posts.

The fundies of Smith Center, Kansas are still whining to whoever will listen about the TMâ„¢ hordes who are about to invade their town. Their main beef is with the Madharishi’s claim that TMâ„¢ is a science, not a religion. Not to worry… only TMâ„¢ folks actually believe such nonsense, anyway.

So yeah – they pick at the claims of “higher-calling”/”higher-plain” types or point out where others are having to deal with these types. The site makes me think of possibly my favorite debunker of all – James Randi. They don’t come across the same way and Randi, but they seem to have a similar goal/chosen mission (but Randi debunks more than just gurus). Another post with a bit more of the attitude I love to see in other peoples’ writings.

Ron Roth was just another average New Ageâ„¢ spiritual teacher until he met up with the Bhagavan Kalki. Flattered to within an inch of his life with a fusillade designed to inflate his spiritual ego, Roth has now proclaimed himself to be an “avatar of divine love” with the backing of those crooks at Oneness University. Change that to an avatard of psychotic grandiosity and you have a pretty good picture of where we feel Ron is coming from.

Heheheh – Avatard. I like that (random off-topic wanderings ahead). I may have to use that for one of my alts in City of Heroes.

The wisdom of children

Recently, Bill of DubiousQuality fame(?) posted the following tale of Eli 4.10 (his 4 yr 10 month old son):

His favorite book right now is Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets. The first time I read it to him, he laughed so hard that he almost fell off the bed.

So you think that he’s just a goofy little kid, which he is, but then something happens that you just can’t believe. Gloria was reading him The Skull Alphabet Book, which is an A-Z book where there’s the skull of a mammal for each letter of the alphabet, and you have to identify the animal from the picture and the description.

Here’s the description for “I”:
I is for…This fast and graceful African animal has eye sockets on eacah side of its skull. It has monocular vision. Each eye sees something different.

The first time Gloria read that page and saw the skull, she said “I think that’s an Ibex.”

Eli said “Mommy! That’s not an Ibex–the horns are pointing in the wrong direction. That’s an Impala!”

He was right.

Sometimes, I find similar situations with my children.  My 3.25 and 6.75 year old children surprise me with what they know.  For example, after my mother-in-law dropped me and my wife off at the airport for our vacation 1.5 weeks ago, she thought she got lost leaving the airport because of the changes to the roadways since the last time she drove there (about 15 years ago).  She said both of my kids told her she was on the right road and to just keep going.  About 2 minutes later, she came out somewhere so she knew where was and found out the kids were right.   Given their lack of drivers’ licenses, she was a bit surprised they knew better than she what the right way was.

[tags]Dubious Quality, Kids, Wisdom in youth[/tags]

Coming soon: AMD price cuts

Price cuts are a given in our industry.  You buy something, the seller ships it, you receive it, and you get online only to find it cheaper somewhere else.  This just seems to be the status quo for computing.  The price cuts in question, detailed at Daily Tech, are of a more substantial then normal nature, and apparently in direct response to the release of Intel’s Core 2 Duo Conroe processor.  So here’s the dirt – Intel officially releases the Core 2 Duo Conroe processer on July 23rd.  On, or about, July 24th, AMD will drop prices for Athlon 64 and Sempron processors:

  • AMD Athlon 64 price cuts will receive price cut up to 30%
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 will receive price cuts up to 50%
  • AMD Sempron processors will receive price cuts up to 15%

That’s a lotta extra power available on the 24th.  I’ve been holding off buying an X2 3800+ since the processer has been hovering around the $300 mark for a while.  If Daily Tech’s source is accurate, this should drop to around $160.  In fact, apparently the X2 4600+ will drop to around the $300 mark, which suddenly makes that a viable consideration for my next processor upgrade.

Those of you looking for the big dog A64 FX processors aren’t getting any love here, as they will maintain current prices.  But all the rest of us look to be getting some really good options opening up soon.

[tags]AMD, Price cuts, CPU pricing, Athlon[/tags]

Snake rescuer’s blog

(via boingboing)
Visit the snake rescue blog to see some really cool photos of, well, rescued snakes. I’m not a snake keeper/collector/lover by any means, but I don’t find them repulsive or scary like most folks do (but I do have enough respect for the danger to know to keep my distance). To a lot of folks, this site will probably not be interesting at all. To me, however, it’s a fascinating read, especially with all the photos on the site.

Prairie_Rattler.jpg06/05/2004 @ 06:13:26 PM MDT
I found this prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) while 4-wheeling in the Caha del Rio section of the Santa Fe National Forest on the east side of the Rio Grande. It was very determined to not be picked up, struggling so much that I decided then and there that rattlesnakes don’t need to be handled unless absolutely necessary.

[tags]Snake rescue, Snakes, Bloggers[/tags]

Jeans designed for “conceal carry” use

(via BoingBoing)

toters.gifI know some folks who might like a few pairs of these. Of course, I have no idea if these are any good, but the company does make a write-up done well enough to have me curious. Since I don’t carry, I don’t really need these myself, but I’m sure someone who sees this story can post a comment about the jeans and let the world (in as much as people who read my ramblings constitute the world) know whether these are any good.

TOTERS ™ were conceived and created by veteran holster and knife designer Blackie Collins as an innovative alternative to the various – albeit limited – options one has to choose from when looking to purchase concealed carry clothing. The concept is simple: Create an extremely comfortable and durable item of clothing that effectively provides a means for concealed carry, but does so without any of the extreme bulkiness or expense that is often associated with other concealed carry garments.

Aside from the long run-on sentence there, that sounds like a good concept. The company also offers concealed carry vests, in case jeans aren’t an option.
[tags]Concealed carry, gun control?[/tags]

Buffett to give away most of his fortune

(via CNN Money)
That would be Warren Buffett, and not Jimmy Buffett (who, by the way, was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi – the same place where that squirrel went berserk – but back to the story).

FORTUNE EXCLUSIVE: The world’s second richest man – who’s now worth $44 billion – tells editor-at-large Carol Loomis he will start giving away 85% of his wealth in July – most of it to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Notice that this will still leave him with somewhere around $4 billion after all is said and done. I just thought I’d point that out for folks who aren’t as cynical as I am. Actually, though, I think this is a great thing Buffett is doing, and don’t want to belittle the upside. I know that $4 billion doesn’t buy what it used to, but I think Warren will still be able to live quite comfortably after giving so much away to help others. And remember that the man is an investing genius – he’ll still grow his wealth after this, and have figuratively tons of money to leave for more good works when he dies.

Buffett has pledged to gradually give 85% of his Berkshire stock to five foundations. A dominant five-sixths of the shares will go to the world’s largest philanthropic organization, the $30 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose principals are close friends of Buffett’s (a connection that began in 1991, when a mutual friend introduced Buffett and Bill Gates).

For all the bad things I say about Microsoft and Bill Gates, this foundation is truly a great work, and with Buffett’s extra donations, even more good can be done.

[tags]Warren Buffett[/tags]

Top 20 game innovations we take for granted

(via Joystiq)
1UP has it’s list of important gameplay innovations up.  These are things we take for granted now in gaming but that seemed revolutionary when first introduced.  I won’t steal 1UP’s thunder by listing them all now, but here are a few.

  • Life Bar / Hit Points
  • Power Ups
  • Combos
  • Cooperative Play

I particularly remember the first time I played co-op in Descent.  Man, that was awesome.  For me, that combined the co-op play and the online feature, which was most unusual at the time.  I remember playing Descent co-op with 2 friends over a 28K modem connection.  We didn’t even think of trying to use voice chat at the same time – the available bandwidth at the time wouldn’t have supported it.

[tags]1UP, Gameplay innovations, gaming innovations, Descent is the greatest game ever[/tags]

Good Irish music

If you happen to have a chance to travel to Dublin, try to find where The Naked Fiddler (Brendan P Lynch) and his friends are playing.  My wife and I saw him at a pub in Dublin Friday night, playing with Joe Brennan and Paul O’Sullivan and again found where he was playing on Saturday night.  These two nights are easily the most memorable of many great things we saw and did on this trip.

[tags]Naked Fiddler, Brendan P Lynch, Irish music, Ireland[/tags]

Thus endeth a long day


I have just returned from a vacation in Ireland. And if I can get everyone to leave me the hell alone, I’ll be going to bed after posting. I was up at 1:00 AM Memphis time, and it is now 10:17 PM Memphis time. I have not had any sleep today, and have spent over 18 hours getting from Ireland back home. When I have some time, I’ll select a few more images like this one to post, and I’ll write up a bit on the vacation – it was fantastic, so I’ll try to say more about why it was. It will take a few days to really get posting here going again, as I have a lot of techie-world crud to go over and catch up on.

I’ve also had some thoughts on how to better handle future absences so long periods without posts don’t happen again. I only had a little time to get the site as ready as I’d like this time. Not that I didn’t know enough in advance to get posts ready, but that I didn’t really know how to auto-post in advance, so just played around and figured it out just before leaving. But that shouldn’t be a problem again, if I can get myself into better practices on posting.

[tags]Ireland, My Vacation[/tags]

Photos of modern ruins

I subscribe to “American Heritage of Invention and Technology” magazine. I just received a new issue, and saw an article in it about some sights online with photographs of old ruins and abandoned industrial installations. Listed in the article are Modern Ruins Photographic Essays and I have no idea why these are so interesting, but they seem compelling enough for me to post about them. There are so many good photos, that picking any to show as samples is tough. Note that both sites make the photos available for sale as well as being available for viewing online.



This second photo is Manhattan Seen Through the Windows of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital Ruin.

I found it a bit depressing to think about.

[tags]Abandoned places[/tags]

Is it a game… or is it real?

200px-War_Games_Cover.jpgSince the War Games launch code was mentioned in a recent post here, I thought I’d post to the very nice entry at Wikipedia for War Games. This was the first DVD I ever bought – even before I had a DVD player. I’m just a big loser geek like that. I remember talking about the movie in 1993 with a guy where I worked. I had just watched it again on TV, and mentioned how outdated it then looked. He reminded me how outdated it looked when it originally aired. I had to agree, but it was still such a great movie (for geeky values of great). And quite successful.

The movie was a hit, costing US$12 million, but grossing over $74 million after five months in the United States. The NORAD set was the most expensive single movie set ever built up to that time, at the staggering cost of $1 million.

I can still remember one of my favorite lines from the movie, but never realized it wasn’t originally in the script:

“I’d piss on a sparkplug if I thought it would do any good.”– Gen. Jack Beringer, ad-libbed by Barry Corbin

On the Wikipedia page is a list of all the launch scenarios tried by Joshua/WOPR. I also liked reading the trivia from the movie.

  • The writers and director had an interest in working with Professor Stephen Hawking to develop the Falken character into a physicist as well as a computer scientist/game theorist. Hawking responded to their request by noting that he was happy to assist with the inclusion of some of his theories on cosmology in the movie, but he would decline if the intent was to exploit his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Since the writers and director could not in good conscience say that Hawking’s disability wasn’t of interest to them, they ultimately decided to write Falken as a dabbler in paleontology instead. They kept the name “Stephen” as an homage.
  • This movie carried the first cinematic reference to firewalls.
  • In the computer game Uplink, one machine that can be hacked into is labeled “Protovision Game Server.” Using the password “joshua” on this machine will recreate the list of games available on the WOPR computer, including a playable Global Thermonuclear War. (Cool game, BTW – buy and play Uplink)
  • A shell script, /usr/games/wargames, is included with BSD systems. When run, it will ask the user if they want to play a game. If a game is selected, the script will then run the game, or, if an invalid selection is made, it will state: “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” The script was also run when a user logged in as falcon, followed by an immediate logout.

[tags]War Games, Shall we play a game?, Joshua, WOPR, Movie Miscellany[/tags]