Journal May 2005

31 May 2005

Wow, it's been over two weeks since my last journal entry. Suffice it to say that I've been pretty busy. I'm trying to work on this one project at work that keeps changing on me. There have been a lot of family events like Maureen's cousin's wedding (Anjelica and Gideon). And there's been a lot happening in the political world like the Downing Street Memo (which a member at Daily Kos says should be called The Downing Street Minutes), the forum on (conservative) media bias by Congressman John Conyers featuring some Air America hosts, the alleged (and verified) flushing of the Koran, which one (crazy) Baptist pastor advocates, and the compromise in the Senate that diffused the nuclear option at the price of 3 extreme judges being confirmed. Also, a judge rules against DeLay's PAC.

And, of course, I have yet to post new pictures and Linux progress. I'll get to it sooner or later.


12 May 2005

I added some Moby essays in the inspiring readings part of the main page. Eventually they'll be complete (all albums with essays) and accurate. My favorites are the ones in Everything Is Wrong about the state of the world and the Christian Right.

I'm concerned about the state of religion in the world, specifically here in the U.S. I'm concerned that the extreme Christian Right (whom Moby says is neither) wants to turn this country into a theocracy, which is dangerous and maybe even self-destructive for both country and religion. Randi Rhodes, who, being a liberal, naturally defends everyone's ability to practice their own religion (with limited government endorsement of a particular one), always poses the question "whose religion will they pick [if it becomes a theocracy]? Probably not Catholic, since they were against the war."

Conservatives seem to forget that liberals can be, and many times are, people of faith. Liberals are tolerant of other people's religions because we all have that (God-given!) right to believe what we believe. (What we do with that faith is another issue.) So of course, it disturbs me when progressive people of faith are suppressed or oppressed, such as the Jesuit forced off the Catholic magazine America. The other disturbing incident is the kicking-out of 9 members in a North Carolina church who disagree politically with the pastor [first article] [follow-up article]. Note that about 40 more church members also left in disgust, while the rest of the congregation applauded. It turns out that the pastor has decided to leave that church as well. Conservatives claim that they are fighting a "culture war" against ficticious agendas like the "homoliberal agenda." On the contrary, I think they are the ones who started this war on liberal ideas of tolerance and peace and unconditional love over hate of these oppressed groups.

Whatever your faith may be, I support it. But don't be so sure about the government allowing it if it becomes a theocracy, unless that government picks your particular "brand" (Randi Rhodes term) of religion. Hopefully it's not the twisted "Fristian" kind (another Randi term). Wow, that Randi Rhodes has a lot of good ideas. I won't always agree with her, but she makes a point and respects those with logical arguments to the contrary.

And that's why liberals must win this country back for all Americans and all people of faith, including real conservatives, 'cause we need both.


10 May 2005

Ben and Carl and I went to the Moby concert on 08 May, and I have yet to catch up on sleep. I added my quickie review and the set list on the concerts page. Moby was born Richard Melville Hall, direct descendenct of Herman Melville, hence his nickname, after Melville's Moby Dick, and he shows his creative genes in a different way. Still he's equally versed with the written word as he is with music. Just read his journal or the essays in his albums from Everything Is Wrong to 18. (Eventually I'll post them on my main page since they used to be on Moby's site, but not now.)


05 May 2005

I made some progress on testing Fedora Core 3 on my laptop. So far, so good. Currently, the up2date program doesn't work for me, but I can get by. I was able to get my missing programs (from my text-based install) loaded from the install DVD, like Grip (similar to CDex for Windows), and K3b. I haven't tested these on the laptop on FC3 yet, but they work fine on the server. I had to download the rest, like Wine (VM for Windows programs to run natively in Linux) and xine (media and DVD player). I did get Wine to install and run Firefox 1.0.3 for Windows along with Flash and Shockwave and play Jumble, using Shockwave! I got the latest xine and xine-lib from Fresh RPMs, which required aalib, libdvdcss, and libXvMCW). Once I got all the RPM dependencies fulfilled, xine ran perfectly for MPGs and played commercial DVDs! In KDE, FC3 also recognizes my USB flash drive (Sandisk cruzer mini), available from the file manager, Konqueror. The only things I have yet to get to work are hibernating (Software Suspend) and my wireless 3com 802.11b card. I have yet to test CD burning (which should work), accessing my digital camera, and syncing with a Palm, all of which are built into FC3, and maybe using Cisco VPN in Wine along with my work software to work from home on Linux.

Eventually I'll get Evelyn's Baptism pictures up, but at least I updated all of the mirror servers with the new style and directory structure.


01 May 2005

Hold on tight, this is a long one...about the HHGG movie!

Ben and Claire and I got to see the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie yesterday, and we all liked it. I thought it stayed pretty true to the book and paid appropriate homage to the original forms of the story. Of course to make the radio show/novel into a movie, they had to omit some things and add some others.

Like many computer nerds that got their start in the mid-80s, I first encountered Hitchhiker's as the text adventure on the PC. Like many of those same people, I had to figure out how to get anywhere once I made my way to the Heart of Gold spaceship (getting there is not that hard). So I got the hint book, and even then there was somthing important I missed to allow me to go on, so I thought the whole game had this paradoxical loop that couldn't be reached. I figured it out and finished it eventually. Bottom line: don't connect the drive's large plug until the missile attack, and the long, dangly bit is an object to dip into a drink. I'm sure that won't mean anything to anyone unless they've played the game.

As excited as I was to play this new game on this new machine, I came across a 90-min Simon & Schuster audio cassette tape of Hitchhiker's that (I found out later) was a single cohesive version of all the BBC radio shows that made up the forthcoming (at the time of broadcast) first novel. I like that they used the theme from the original BBC radio show when they show the Guide for the first time in the movie. The opening theme for the movie is a nice Python-eqsue song about the dolphins that leave Earth long before the Vogons come. Later I was able to find the corresponding audio tape for The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the collection of radio shows which later make up the second novel put into a single cohesive version.

I picked up the first book after hearing the first tape and noticed the ubiquitous "green guy" alien that graces the two covers of the audio tapes and all of the first Pocket Books versions of each of the five novels (actually the fifth book is from Ballantine Books) as well as the cover for the VHS collection of the TV shows (more about that later), and the box of the computer game. He's that green spherical alien with hands up to his ears (if he had them) and a face with nothing but a mouth sticking its tongue out. For the movie he is replaced with a new sleek "thumb" logo. The book ended pretty much the way movie also ended with the characters mentioning the Restaurant. The radio show tape for the first book ends with an explosion as far I remember (it's been a few years), but the tape for the second book begins explaining what really happened. It took me a while to get through the first book, given that I was still a lazy seventh-grader, but when I finished it, I really enjoyed it and had to continue. I eventually read all five books, at least three times over, and I appreciated the work Douglas Adams put into his creation, in scientific "accuracy" and philisophical wonder as well as in comedy. There's also a companion book called Don't Panic, which runs through a history of the story and the different incardnations of it, including radio, TV, novel, and theater.

In college I came across the VHS tape of the 6 TV shows that were produced in the early 80s. The production value wasn't that great, but it did feature many of the actors whose voices appeared on the radio shows. The notable exception is Trillian. Completely different from the radio version, I thought she really brought down the part, making hard to believe she was an astrophysicist. The producer/director of the TV miniseries, Alan Bell, wrote an explanation of that on the IMDb page for the TV show, clearing up some doubts that fans may have about the actress as well as some common inaccuracies. Otherwise enjoyable, but I haven't seen it since college, so I don't remember the rest that well. It is available on DVD, though.

I thought the movie was really well done. It had just the right balance of computer-generated graphics and puppetry (unlike Star Wars Episodes I and II (so far)).

I didn't realize until reading the cast on the IMDb page that Warwick Davis actually wore the Marvin costume (voiced by Alan Rickman, which I did know), and that Martin Freeman, who plays Arthur, was in Love Actually, which also has Bill Nighy who plays a perfect Slartibartfast. Also, Sam Rockwell, who does a good take on Zaphod (a little too W-like sometimes (at least like Will Ferrell's version)), and Alan Rickman are both in Galaxy Quest, another great satirical sci-fi space film. Mos Def plays a good Ford, true to the character, and Zooey Deschanel, from elf (speaking of Will Ferrell), plays Trillian as she should be played. Simon Jones, the original Arthur from the radio and TV shows, makes a cameo as the ghostly image on the recording at Magrathea. He looks startlingly like Douglas Adams in that scene, and that sort of affirms the theory that the main character Arthur is the one with whom Douglas Adams most identified.

And lastly, the Guide itself. Stephen Fry does the voice of the book, which serves as narration as well as explaining some of the characters and situations in the book. The animation is quite simple but well done, like a big-screen Flash animation with exactly the right humor as Douglas himself would have done it. It also make the book look feasible with today's technology.

Overall, the radio version is still my favorite, but only goes to the second book, and the fourth book is my favorite novel (party because it's a love story), but the fifth and final book ends the story appropriately (though I didn't think so at first). But I think Douglas Adams would have been proud of the movie version (the radio version is still my favorite, but only goes to the second book). He's listed as the executive producer, and he wrote part of the screenplay (that wasn't co-written by Karey Kirkpatrick). The late Douglas Adams was a wise, philisophical, and funny guy who left this world too soon.

I watched the movie with skepticism but an open mind, as I am a purist for the Hitchhiker's universe, but I enjoyed the movie greatly, as I think most fans would, even though some would be disappointed. It was a good treatment that stayed mostly true to the book and radio show and (to the dismay of some purists) makes the story (slightly) more accessible to the general population. This may be the movie that steals the spotlight from Episode III, as I thought Stargate did with Star Treak Generations, but time will tell (in less than a month). I'm looking forward to getting Hitchhiker's on DVD.


PS Also, Evelyn was baptized yesterday, after we watched the movie, and I'll discuss that and post pictures later this week.

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