Tag: software

Kirk Cameron, and stealing video from abcnews.com

Last weekend Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort debated some smug atheists over the existence of God. Kirk’s and Ray’s claim was, to paraphrase, that they could prove, 100%, scientifically, the existence of God, without invoking faith or the Bible. The atheists were to prove, not that God doesn’t exist, but that Kirk and Ray can’t prove otherwise. The debate took place on Saturday night and was taped to be streamed on abcnews.com the following Wednesday and Thursday, with select portions being televised on an episode of Nightline.

Here’s Slate on the subject:

First, I grew excited at this promise, then began to wonder why no theologian, philosopher, or sitcom star in recorded history had done it before—Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, Tina Yothers, whoever—and realized I was in for a letdown. Comfort’s cadences were not even those of a preacher but of an infomercial host, and the God Squad had but three arguments on behalf of the big guy: All things have makers; the human conscience is evidence of a higher moral power; if you read the Gospel, then Christ will be revealed to you. For reasons too stupid to type, this was not an airtight case, and the atheists made quick work of it in tones of juvenile sarcasm.

They also threw in the first mover argument, which technically differs from the watchmaker argument. The content of the debate is of almost no interest, of course, as it closely parallels countless conversations that have taken place before it. But its being presented by ABC is significant, even unprecedented by recent standards of network television. Which isn’t to say that religion and God are never mentioned on TV, but that when they are, they are dismissed as irreconcilable, deeply personal things that don’t invite inspection beyond that of the effects they have on people’s behavior. They are approached as moral and cultural issues — never as metaphysical ones. And the idea that a large-ish portion of the American public might see people earnestly discussing the nature of infinity and causality, even if ineptly, only hours after Ugly Betty, fascinated me, despite my confidence that none of it would be illuminating, and that it was a ratings stunt.

I didn’t see the “distilled” version on Nightline, and the YouTube videos were removed before I could watch or save them, but I hear they did a pretty bad job with the material. At the moment, the entire debate is still available at the story’s ABC page, but, knowing that they probably won’t last, and with a tendency toward obsessive archivism and a disdain for ABC’s intractable flash player, I collected them myself. Altogether they’re about 97 minutes. If you’re short on time and have to be choosy, watch the “Mocking Darwin” segment, which contains the most lolz, and a guided, pictorial tour of an understanding of evolution so profoundly misinformed that even Lamarck is rolling his eyes. And he’s dead. As I watch this debate, I keep expecting Kirk to break character. Then I think, Ray must have some dangerously compromising photos of him.

From the Columbia Journalism Review:

We could go on, but why? Nightline felt no responsibility to take the issue seriously enough to include, say, a scientist or a theologian in the debate, so other than pointing out the dumbing down of the national conversation, we’ll just leave it at saying that we expect more of Nightline, and the American people deserve better than being forced to endure half-baked publicity stunts dressed up as news.

Thrown in at the end are some recent discussions Bill O’Reilly has had with Kirk Cameron and Richard Dawkins, in which Bill presents his own fucked version of an anthropic argument, expressing amazement that we could have “lucked out” by having such a habitable planet land on us, and plenty more frustratingly nebulous reasoning for your teeth-gnashing pleasure.

The videos were recorded using a years-old tool that I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. CamStudio records the activity in a selected portion of your screen, and spits out an .avi. Its current version is from 2003, but, thanks to its open-sourceness, is still being developed. It gives you the option to use different recording codecs and to tweak their parameters, but the only way I was able to get results was with enormous files, approaching 1GB for 15 minutes of 320×240 video. Which is a pain in the ass, but it works.

Leave a Comment

MP3Toys

This will come as a shock to anybody who knows me, but I’ve all but stopped using foobar2000. A couple months ago on the indietorrents forums, somebody mentioned MP3Toys, and I’ve been using it almost exclusively since.

MP3ToysAs I mentioned in a previous post, all the chores I was made to do in foobar seemed to keep me from listening to music: I was working for my software, and not vice-versa. My collection of music felt cold and dead and fragile in the hands of foobar, and none of the features I had idealized in my mind were anywhere near fruition (true hotness, similarity-by-mood filters, etc.). I desperately wanted something to get me back in touch with my music, something that delivered music to me in a way that felt as natural as buying a CD and putting it in my stereo. I even considered switching to iTunes.

MP3Toys isn’t for every foobar user; I just got lucky enough that it emulates my ideal behavior in foobar. It’s a living, breathing program, and using it is a humanistic experience. It understands not just that you listen to music, but why you listen to music. Some of its intelligent features include:
Continue reading “MP3Toys”

4 Responses

Firefox “Phrase Not Found” Noise

Praise Jesus.

One of the handiest features in Firefox, and one that I use frequently and absent-mindedly, is the “find as you type” shortcut. Press forward slash, and Firefox will jump to the next text that matches what you type; press single-quote, and Firefox will jump to the next link text that matches what you type. So fast and invaluable.

Unfortunately, if the string you type turns up no results, Firefox alerts you with what sounds like “a hoarse dog barking.” Not just once, but for every subsequent character that confirms your search failure: a curse for fast typists.

This annoyance was not even solved by FlashMute [via], a tiny and amazing program that mutes all sounds originating from your browser, or just those from embedded flash objects.

After not trying very hard to find a solution via Google, I thought “what the hell” and went to about:config. Searched for “sound,” and voilà. “accessibility.typeaheadfind.enablesound”. Double-click once, restart Firefox, and no longer will you be plagued by the hoarse dog.

Leave a Comment

Intelligent browsing in foobar

Collecting my thoughts here…

foobarSo, ironically, music is becoming increasingly difficult for me to listen to. As though worrying about an extensive gauntlet of tagging procedures isn’t enough, I just have too much damn music. Browsing alphabetically through upwards of 500 artists is not the best way to go looking for something when you have no idea what you want to hear.

I’ve auditioned various methods of tweaking foobar to ‘deliver’ music to me more or less automatically, and I’m close to having something ideal. The playlist tree component allows for dynamic tree structures (which, unfortunately, can only be rebuilt manually or every time a new song begins); using the titleformatting language, I’ve generated five queries whose purpose it is to ‘coax’ certain albums to starker visibility from the featureless and indifferent music library, to greater or lesser success.

Continue reading “Intelligent browsing in foobar”

2 Responses

Firefox, video, MST3K

Joel

I still don’t get why Firefox is better and more popular than Mozilla ever was, but okay, I’ll play along. Especially given these enhancements:

  • Cookie Button: one of the best features of Mozilla that inexplicably didn’t make it to Firefox.
  • Flashblock: Only see Flash when you want to! This is a miracle.

Finally found a video player to be happy with: Media Player Classic. It’s also bundled with Real Alternative, which allows you to play Real format files without relying on the nightmarish RealOne player. This week I also discovered Net Transport, which does the best (i.e., quickest, easiest, and most free) job of saving streaming video I’ve seen so far. And finally, MST3K is still kicking: there’s this gigantic reference site, the still-existent info club, and a legally ambiguous ShoutCast video stream. Shhhhhhhh.

Leave a Comment