April 2008

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Being a professor

Jobs listings in Hyderabad
Photo courtesy of nimboo

At this moment, I am enjoying being a professor. When people ask me what it is like to be a professor I find it hard to answer. Sometimes I say it's like being a Senator, because it is very political and your job is evaluated based on how a group of peers think you are doing. Sometimes I say it's like being an entrepreneur because you spend a lot of time selling ideas, raising money and training people on a vision. Today it's like being a writer. My desk is covered with manuscripts and writing guides and empty coffee mugs. On the whole, I like doing all these things.

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Sweet! When is your first film coming out?

Posted by: Nate at May 2, 2008 3:37 AM

Umm... I suppose after the documentary makers finish with post-production. Which also means that they will have to start post-production, and filming, and actually existing also.

Posted by: DJP3 at May 2, 2008 12:07 PM

iPhone RingTones for Free

Photo courtesy of

In typical fashion I got distracted this morning by ringtones on the iPhone. The iTunes music store will happily sell you a ringtone for your iPhone for $2.00. $1.00 for a song and then $1.00 for a ringtone based on it. I'm cheap and started looking on the web for all the ways to get a ringtone for free. There are a lot of programs that you can buy that will let you put all the ringtones that you want on your phone for just the cost of the software. I say, "Not good enough!"

With minimal hacking I discovered that GarageBand will let you export a ringtone to your iPhone. So it's as easy as importing an MP3 into GarageBand, trimming it to the part you want and hitting export to RingTone.

So now I have "3 is a magic number" by Blind Melon on my phone! (Yea it is)

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Thanks for sharing today. :-)

Posted by: Sam Kaufman at April 30, 2008 11:44 PM

Great coffee

I make the coffee at my office, but at home the CHO uses Roba! This commercial is so bizarre. It must have been weird to be alive in 1950.

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Girl Geeks

Pink iPod
Photo courtesy of crashmattb

From a talk I attended yesterday.
Q. How do marketers make technology more appealing to women?

A. "Shrink it and pink it!"

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Unrighteous Republicans, Lazy Democrats


I was talking with some friends this week. Since we are in Orange County and since conversation here always goes toward real estate (plus we were in a new house) we started talking about the real estate crash. Locally many people have lost their jobs because of the crash and, although this group is strongly opinionated anyway, there were strong opinions about the appropriateness around any sort of government bail-out of the people involved.

It also turns out that these men are also attempting to follow Christ in their lives. Eventually our conversation shifted to the moral culpability of the real estate crash. This reminded me about the distinction between rich and poor vs. righteous and unrighteous.

A lot of time when Christians talk about rich and poor they confuse that discussion with a discussion of righteous and unrighteous. Usually the way it works is that someone decides that they are either rich or poor and then equates being righteous with the position they are in. So the rich business man talks about the poor as being lazy, stupid and reaping the natural rewards of sinning. While the "poor" service employee talks about the rich as oppressive nickel and dimers who are sinning by oppressing them. They will often point to Jesus as being poor and therefore poverty must be a sign of righteousness and wealth a sign of moral bankruptcy.

But the Bible doesn't equate those two pairs. It acknowledges all four combinations: The rich righteous, the rich unrighteous, the poor righteous, the poor unrighteous.

  • The rich righteous: These people are wise investors, insightful, hard working, often generous, whom God has chosen to bless financially so that they can be a blessing to others. Example:
    • Proverbs 31 Woman:
      • 31:17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
      • 31:18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
    • Centurion from Acts 10:
      • 10:1At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
      • 10:2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
      • 10:3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!"
      • 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
      • 10:5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
  • The rich unrighteous: These people are rich because they extort and oppress people for the sake of a profit. Example:
    • The oppressors in Nehemiah 5
      • 10:9 So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?
      • 10:10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop!
      • 10:11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them—the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil."
  • The poor unrighteous: These are people who are poor because they are lazy, make bad decision upon bad decision, foolish, run with other fools.Example:
    • The sluggard in Proverbs 6
      • 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
      • 6:7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
      • 6:8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
      • 6:9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?
      • 6:10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-
      • 6:11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
  • The poor righteous: People who are humble, called to do things which entail poverty, work hard, are not lazy, who God chooses to bless in other ways then finances. Sometimes these are people who are called to suffering because they are able to give God glory through the process. Example:
    • Jesus
      • Matthew 8:20 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
    • Paul
      • 1 Corinthian 4:11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

So I think the point is reflective. Where do you think you fall? Are you rich because you are an oppressor or because you are blessed? Are you poor because it is your calling or because you are lazy?

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The Olympics is a Religion


Now, I'm no religious scholar, secular or otherwise, but I have a working definition for "religion" that I use which includes three components. Religion..

  1. makes claims about meta-physical truths. (e.g., What is my purpose? What is the goal of humanity?)
  2. has symbols which support those claims. (e.g., cross, crescent, pentagram)
  3. has symbolic ceremonies which also support those claims (e.g,. communion, ritualized prayer)

Religion differs from philosophy because philosophy largely ignores the second two points.

Given my working definition, the olympic "movement" is totally a religion. It is a religion of humanism. Hope in the power of man to be unified

On the left is a link to the lighting of the torch. It is so explicitly pagan in its references to ancient Greek religion that it's troubling to me. Below are the lyrics to the song they are singing. As a Christian I find these philosophies, symbols and ceremonies run counter to what I believe to be true. They are worthy goals which the Olympics will never achieve.

"Flame is the light like a star in the sky.
It will return forever strong and light the way for you and I.
We wish upon the stars, that dreams will take us far.
Hope and peace in the world we all belong.
Love love love we will share together.
Love love love we are one.
One world one dream.
Let us share our hearts together all as one.
In a place where we join in the harmony.
One world one dream.
Let us celebrate the powers of our heroes.
Who will rise with strength and pride.
Love love love we will share together.
Love love love we are one.
Time and time again they flexed their power, spirit and glory.
Win or lose they stood together high.
Hearts and souls unite together.
Bring the worlds to love each other.
Reach reach for the sky.
One world one dream.
Let us share our hearts together all as one.
In a place where we join in harmony.
One world one dream.
Let us celebrate the powers of our heroes.
Who will rise with strength and pride.
Light the passion share the dream all as one

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TurboTax Feedback


TurboTax should never be allowed to show a figure like this one. It's enough to cause people to have a heart attack. I know I'm not done entering information, but come on!

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Two signs the economy is tanking

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of CorinthianGulf

I submit the following two signs that the economy is tanking.

  1. The bus that I have been taking for two years now is suddenly packed with people for no apparent reason. It used to be that if I got on the 7:10 Route 79 I could sit down, spread out and use my laptop. Now there are mornings when it is standing room only. Same thing on the way home. I attribute this to people having less money to afford gas and parking.
  2. In the same vein, four new signs showed up on the path on the way into campus this morning, all of them warning students that if you park in the shopping center next to campus and go to class, your car will be towed at your expense. Again, price sensitive students are no longer footing the bill for a parking pass and are trying to get away with parking nearby instead.

I might feel differently about these things if it was the start of the school year, but it's the second week of spring quarter. No big changes to anything that I can otherwise identify.

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Well that's odd. Yesterday night, Trader Joe's and Peet's in University Center were far, far more packed than usual, and the ARC was overrun. All three places had at least quadruple the number of normal occupants.

Flash mob doubled the population of Irvine?

How long has your bus been super-packed?

As for point two: I've been told that the parking passes aren't going up in price, but are getting more restrictive. Fewer places you can park as a computer science student, for instance.

Posted by: Sam Kaufman at April 16, 2008 8:22 AM

I would say the bus has picked up over the last 3 weeks. Slowly though, not all of a sudden.

Posted by: DJP3 at April 16, 2008 9:50 AM

I predict white wall bike tires are the next cool thing

bike tires
Photo courtesy of Photochiel

I predict white wall bike tires are going to be cool very soon.

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Posted by: Nate at April 16, 2008 4:15 AM

Look data from the Iraq war!


Finally, there is something besides rhetoric published about the Iraq war. The graph on the left comes from the BBC. (Because British people are smarter) This graph shows that the surge was actually quite modest and that there was a drastic drop in military deaths during the time the surge was going on.

While correlation is not causality - meaning that it is not shown at all from this graph that the surge was responsible for the drop in deaths (although that is clearly implied.) It is nice to see some hard data to actually reason about.

The reason why the surge might not have anything to do with the drop in deaths is because a cease fire from one of the militia armies (I am not an expert) has widely been attributed as being behind the drop in violence rather than the surge

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Actually I think the Brookings Institute is an American outfit, not British. But at least the BBC published it.

Posted by: Nate at April 14, 2008 4:33 AM

CostCo Membership

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of Greg McElhatton

Super secret thing: After your CostCo membership expires you can still buy things from CostCo online. There will be no tasty chicken rolls available to you, but cheap digital cameras are.

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Pick it up and Party in my Tummy

FirefoxScreenSnapz001.jpg FirefoxScreenSnapz002.jpg

Two videos that have been getting a lot of play in my household recently. Pick it Up! and Party in my Tummy!

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Cool Runnings anyone?

The second one sort of frightened me.

Posted by: Nate at April 9, 2008 4:27 AM


Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of TheMacGirl*

I just finished submitting a paper. The following pertains:

O bed!
O bed!
delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
- Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg--Her Dream

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Posted by: Sam Kaufman at April 7, 2008 5:03 PM

Shout Out for Spaces


Mac Leopard comes with a virtual desktop technology called Spaces. It allows you to have multiple desktops that you can transition through to gain more window space and possibly visually isolate different activities from one another.

I have used virtual desktop software before and always ended up stopping for one reason or another, but Spaces is beautiful. All of the finer details of the way the program works make it a really great tool. Here's a nice YouTube video of it in action.

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