How to be stupid in one easy lesson

See the facts, but instead of sitting with them and letting them speak, chase down a bunch of tangentially-related dead ends. Sometimes in debugging code, examining the wonky output is all that's needed to find the bug. If I had done that today I would have saved some time and aggravation. Tikz is a Latex add-on to make wonderful graphs and diagrams in documents. However, in order to make a sequence of diagrams to become frames for an animation, some extra programming is required. I…

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Some Favourite Movies

There are many movies I admire but have little wish to see again. For example, The Revenant was beautiful and powerful, but harrowing. And it's been many years since I last watched Schindler's List, though I admire the film greatly. However, there are some movies I keep returning to. Compiling a list of these, and stepping back, I can see some patterns. Almost none of them are set in the present. Almost all of them are visually engrossing, usually for a combination of scenery, period detail,…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 4

In my last post, I explained how I think the modern evolutionary picture of the universe cries out, at least to me, the existence of a mind behind it all. In this post, I want to suggest that the intelligibility of the universe is improbable enough that a reasonable response is to think that it was intended to be understood. Suppose I turn around one day in my kitchen and I see a mouse at the far end. I might like to get the mouse…

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"Seriously, how can you not be an atheist?" Part 3

Is there a personal intelligence behind all that we see? That's the focus of this post, my third. (The first is here; the second is here.) I think I agree with atheists in saying that the existence of the universe doesn't necessarily imply there's a creator behind it. Theists tend to like the watchmaker argument: if you found an old watch lying on the ground, picked it up and examined it carefully, seeing the marvelous intricacies of its mechanism, you would naturally ask, "Who made…

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Coaxing a nice PNG out of a PDF

Using ImageMagick, it's easy to convert a PDF to a PNG. However, if you need the resulting PNG to be large and crisp, an extra trick is needed. A PDF generally scales perfectly. That's because it's not like a photo, which gets blocky when magnified too much. It's more a like a set of instructions about lines to draw, fonts to use, etc., which can be used at any magnification. On a high-resolution monitor, my PDF's look terrific when displayed full screen.  Naturally, when I…

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Annihilation: what's really going on?

First, let's start with the movie's surprise ending. Lena is the sole survivor of the team that went into the shimmer, and she's getting grilled about what happened. We know there was all sorts of mixing and scrambling of DNA/body characteristics inside the shimmer, so she's not exactly the same Lena that went in. For example, she now has Anya's tattoo on forearm. But her phosphorus-grenade trick in the lighthouse resulted in the whole shimmer/alien presence being obliterated. No more scrambling. Even the alien-Kane is…

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