Monday, January 31, 2011

Fairy Doors & Wanderlust

 "It's sad that you never hear anyone say they are dyeing to explore their own town..."

I have gone on a couple exciting far aways journeys in my life. Occasionally I wrestle with the nagging yearning to travel to new and far away places, but the times in my life when I have been most content is when I am able to notice all of the variety and beauty in life that is right here around me. 

This video is a great reminder of that.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Green Truck in Tree of Life

 This truck was restored by my uncle before it was used in the film.


My uncle has spent his life locating and restoring classic and antique cars for people all over the country.

The green truck used in Tree of Life is a 1954 1 Ton 5 Window Chevrolet Grain Truck that he found in South Dakota with ~50,000 miles on it.


If your interested, he currently has a number matching split bumper 1971 RS Z28 Chevrolet Camaro:


You can contact him at richard_knepprath@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Future According to Google

 They sure know how to make it sound scary.
"...supercomputer powers can give us "senses" we didn't know were possible. "Think of it as augmented humanity" he suggested."

Schmidt, being one of the most influential people in one of the most influential tech companies, sure knows how to freak people out about the future technology.

He's making a habit out of it. I posted this quote a few months ago:

“We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”
Seriously Scmidt, even if it's true, you don't have to sound like a creeper when you say it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

People Who Inspire Me

 After participating in NaNoWriMo I became self-aware of the need to identify creative wells that I can draw from.

I wanted to share a few of these that stimulate different senses for me. I would broadly categorize these as visual, musical, literary, and intellectual. Though you can see how each easily splashes over into other categories.

Please share who (or what) function as your "creative wells". Any that engage different sense then what I have listed?
 
Here are four individuals who inspire me, in no particular order:

Dieter Ram (visual) - I am drawn by the thoughtful and funactional simplicity in his design. Sure fire way to light me up is to read over his 10 rules of design, allow my eyes to wander on his designs, and just reflect on the objects in my environment.

Trent Reznor (musical) - More then any other music, his music transports me to another place. I understand his music isn't for everyone, but if you want to give it a shot, I encourage you to download his free instrumental album Ghosts (especially if you enjoyed the soundtrack to The Social Network). Brilliant work of audible art that I have regularly listened to since it was released 3 years ago.

Dostoevsky (literary) - When I read Crime and Punishment my senior year in high school it ignited something inside of me. But so much more then just a passion for literature, it sparked a burning desire to learn, understand, and explore the human experience. Dostoevsky, more then any other author I have read, evokes such raw and vivid human experiences. And it's so much more then reading, it's analysing and studying, piecing together the puzzle pieces of meaning and truth in life.

Radio Lab (intellectual) - This is technically (at least) two people who inspire me. Radio Lab is easily my favorite show on NPR. Each episode is rich in ideas, full of aural textures, and exposes you to different perspective on the whole human experience. I posted about the episode titled Limits. My preferred listening method is the podcast through iTunes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

People Who Changed the Way The World Works

 Inspiring video honoring IBMers over the last 100 years:


Love the soundtrack.

While I'm on the topic of inspiring stories, the story of the Glif going from idea to market in 5 months is up there with the best of them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Link-o-Rama 1/20/11

 Links on why I'm "hopefully uneasy" about how technology is shaping our world.
I haven't done a Link-o-Rama since 2009, but I might have to resurrect the habit for 2011. Otherwise, my sanity is undermined by way of overwhelming my browser with tabs.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Tree of Life - Nature Vs. Grace

 The trailer is a work of art; the movie has a tough act to follow:


"There are two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you will follow."
The opening lines reminded me of an excerpt from How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer.

In the second chapter he is unpacking the beginning of the Renaissance. An emphasis began to be placed on nature, the particulars of life, beginning with man alone. The problem created by beginning with man alone to define himself and the individual things around him, instead of an absolute defining them, is how to find ultimate and adequate meaning for anything.

Schaeffer breaks it down into the Nature versus Grace problem.
Nature, the lower: the created; earth and earthly things; the visible and what happens normally in the cause-and-effect universe; what man as man does on the earth; diversity, or individual things, the particulars, or the individual acts of man. 
Grace, the higher: God the Creator; heaven and heavenly things; the unseen and its influence on the earth; unity, or universals or absolutes which give existence and morals meaning.

----
UPDATE January 6th 2012: I stumbled across and excellent quote from Irenaeus that captures the meaning of the film. 
----
UPDATE June 24th: After much anticipation I have seen the movie and written a reflection.
----
UPDATE January 28th: The green truck seen in the trailer was restored by my uncle!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You've Read Faust, Haven't You?

 A couple months ago I began the joyous task of reading through the complete works of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock often flexes his knowledge of literature by quoting other works, but one case in particular struck me.

He twice quotes Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in The Sign of Four. Referring to Goethe's Faust ("We are accustomed to seeing man despise what he does not understand"), Holmes says, "Goethe is always pithy." Later, Holmes again quotes Goethe, "Nature alas, made only one being of you although there was material for a good man and a rogue."

Until the Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the late 19th century quoted it, I was oblivious to Faust, which the German playwright Goethe wrote in 1806.

Less then a week later I found myself reading another Scotsman, though of a different variety.  George MacDonald was an author, poet, and minister from the first half of the 19th century. Also known as the "father of fantasy", I was reading his work Phantastes.

MacDonald introduces Chapter VIII by quoting Mephistopheles in Faust; "I am a part of the part, which at first was the whole".

My curiosity was peaked by these two brilliant Scotsman from opposite ends of the19th century writing in very different genres who both quoted Faust. I quickly ordered a Norton Critical Edition of Goethe's Faust from Powells.

In the meantime I got sucked into the new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and attempted assassin of Hitler. As you can imagine, Faust works it's way into the life of this young man growing up in early 20th century Germany.

It is a thrill to be reading this profound work, knowing the same words have penetrated the mind and spirit of so many great individuals around the globe over the last 2 centuries.

The other night Elena was reading A Gentle Creature, a short story by Dostoevsky (For those keeping record, a Russian novelist from the mid 19th century). In it my good friend Fyodor puts it as well as anyone can:
 "You've read Faust, haven't you?... You out to read it."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Human Digitalism

 Earlier I explained what attracts me to Apple (their goal to be at the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts). In conclusion, I made the statement that "Until another company starts taking a holistic approach to designing their technology, you can be sure to see a Mac on my desk and an iPod in my pocket."

In follow-up, Samsung caught my attention with their 2011 CES Keynote presentation.

B.K. Yoon, president of Samsung, cast a vision for his company, that "The next step of digital technology is for the human spirit to be at the center."

He expounded on this with the four guiding principles to "Human Digitalism":

  1. Access: Communicate freely and share experiences through networked products
  2. Align: Experience comfort through natural multi-sensory design and the user experience
  3. Amaze: Create a new dimension of enjoyment through completely immersive viewing experiences
  4. Act: Fulfill our duty as responsible citizens to keep our planet healthy

I'm not fully on board with the 4 principles, nor am I particularly inspired by their vision for the future. And don't expect to see me with a Galaxy or Tab anytime soon. But they are attempting noble task of turning the whip on technology (instead of the user), and for that they have my attention.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

70's "Christian" Anti-Communist Video

 I truly hope this kind of distortion and perversion of Christian theology only existed on the fringe in the 70's. My heart breaks for the young people who were afflicted by this kind of poison.

A quick synopsis:
"If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, which is based on the teachings of the fire-and-brimstone Reverend Estus Pirkle, depicts a United States under the thrall of Communist overlords. This is no flight of fancy, mind you. The film claims that if miniskirts, rock-and-roll, premarital sex, and other forms of secular fun are not replaced by nationwide piousness, the United States will be taken over by a Red fifth column by 1973. Once the Commies are in power, they'll brainwash us with uncreative chants and uncomfortable benches." (from io9)
I'm surprised it didn't occur to anyone working on this project that they were using the exact same strategies that they accuse communists of using to convince people to abandon Christianity (scare tactics, threats, and repetition all to control people). Nothing like fighting fire with fire. Not to mention the absence of the Gospel.

Far from the Gospel, this video reeks of American propaganda thinly veiled with a fire and brimstone appeal to Christian values. This video doesn't agitate me so much as I expected it would. Maybe because I can rest peacefully tonight with the reminder that the Church has largely let go of the idea that America is some how analogous to Israel in the Old Testament (See 3:25 in the video).

Movie begins at 1:30, I know you don't want to miss "Jesus can't give you candy, but Fidel Castro can" at 19:00, and little boys head rolls at the hands of a communist at 45:00. You can't even imagine everything that's in-between.

Your stomach will twist, sometimes because of the gruesome imagery, but mostly because of the horrendous theology and perverted scare tactics employed. Brace yourself, this is my last warning:



Was this stuff really showed in churches?

I have a hunch that Westboro Baptist Church is what you get when people watched those videos in the 70's and took them seriously. But the challenge is to understand their intentions and not judge them based solely on the outcome.


My understanding is that Westboro closely resembles the preacher in this video. They have the best of intentions, to convict of our sin and reveal God's will. They would see you and I as being "luke warm", because we stand idly by while our nation indulges in sin left and right.

Now it's on to untying the theological perversions that motivate their intentions.

Coffee Brewing Methods

 Enough variations to caffeinate a lifetime. Filing this one away for future reference.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Hardcopy or Softcopy?

The definition of these words have lost rigidity in my mind. What used to spark an instinctual recognition now elicits a foggy moment in delay.

It seems we are approaching a crossing point where what is traditionally the "softcopy" has become much "harder", in that it is more durable, even immortal. While the "hardcopy" is increasingly "soft" in its mortality.

My delay in recognition is the process of translation the definition that I believe to be true (that a digital file is more durable then a paper file) into the intended definition based on traditional syntax of a historical period (where a paper file was a reliable backup to a digital file).

I don't think those terms will have the same meaning to the next generation. Or if they do retain the same definition, it will be perplexing why when one stops to think about the logic.

Of course, you don't have to agree with me, because all of this depends on the logic you use to make sense of the words in the first place.

Etymology in action. I'm feeling quite nostalgic for my linguistics class at PSU. It gave vibrancy and texture to language like I never imagined possible.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

55 SciFi/Fantasy Movies of 2011

My favorites off the list:
  • ‎"Mars Needs Moms" and "Paul"* round out my comedies. I'll never have enough of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost duo (It also has Seth Rogen, from SNL Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader and from Arrested Development Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor!)
  • "Tree of Life"* for some good old philosophical stimulation. 
  • "Cowboys and Aliens" and "Battle LA" for my action and aliens fix. I'll wager the former will actually be a better movie, the latter just looks fun. And I've been a huge Daniel Craig fan since Casino Royale. 
  • "Now"* Has all the necessary elements for my favorite kind of story. 
  • "Sherlock Holmes 2" because the first one was a blast and I'm just about finished reading the entire collection of stories. Will be craving some more Sherlock by next November.

*Movies I'm likely to actually watch in theaters.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

My Personal Favorite Blog Posts

 From the top 50 most trafficked posts of all time:
This wraps up my reflection series on blogging. I previously shared a list of the top 10 most trafficked posts of the decade/all time/life of the blog and a list of the new posts in 2010 that are challenging the top spots.

Blogging has been a very fulfilling endeavor. I'm anticipating the next decade to be even more so!