How teachings of the old testament affect daily life

On her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.
When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus Dept. of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

Dutch Ministry Proposes Powers for Police to Hack into Computers

Dutch Ministry Proposes Powers for Police to Hack into Computers, Install Spyware, Destroy Data

Dutch Ministry Proposes Powers for Police to Hack into Computers, Install Spyware, Destroy Data
The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security has proposed some rather over the line measures and wants to extend such powers to the police that would allow them to break into computers and mobile phones in any part of the world.

According to the proposal [PDF] (in Dutch), dated October 15, the ministry has asked for powers that would allow police to not only break into computers but, would also allow them to install spyware, search for data in those computers and destroy data.

As explained by the digital rights group ‘Bits of Freedom’, which obtained the copy of the proposal, if the Dutch police gets such powers the security of computer users would be lessened and that there will be a “perverse incentive to keep information security weak.”

Another take is that millions of computers would be less secured as Government might not push companies to publish vulnerabilities on one hand and won’t encourage public to patch their systems on time on the other because it might want to exploit those vulnerabilities for its own purpose.

As much as this law is bad for the people, it is more so for the Dutch government as “other governments would be very interested in using such a power against Dutch interests.”

(Original article at ParityNews.com)

Avatar and its computer-array

I am an avid Avatar fan. Not the Last Airbender, but the epic film by James Cameron. My involvement on the Learn Na’vi forum, learning and teaching the language, as well as owning several copies of the film on DVD and Bluray should attest to that.

I also love technology that is put to use in a good way.

The combination of that goes into Avatar’s background. The link takes you to an article about the computing power used to render the film. It’s impressive.

Thirty four racks comprise the computing core, made of 32 machines each with 40,000 processors and 104 terabytes of memory. Weta systems administrator Paul Gunn said that heat exchange for their servers had to be enclosed. The “industry standard of raised floors and forced-air cooling could not keep up with the constant heat coming off the machines,” said Gunn. “We need to stack the gear closely to get the bandwidth we need and, because the data flows are so great, the storage has to be local.” The solutions was the use of water-cooled racks from Rittal.

Gunn also noted that tens of thousands of dollars were saved by fine tuning the temperature by a degree.  Weta won an energy excellence award recently for building a smaller footprint that came with a 40 percent lower cooling cost for a data center of its type.

For the last month or more of production those 40,000 processors were handling 7 or 8 gigabytes of data per second, running 24 hours a day. A final copy of Avatar equated to 17.28 gigabytes per minute of storage. For a 166 minute movie the rendering coordination was intense.

Why do people pirate?

Article found on Gizmodo.

This Is Why People Pirate

Do you know why people hate movie studios? Why, increasingly, they’re driven to download content illegally, even though they’re perfectly willing to pay for it? Because of crap like this:

LOS ANGELES, CA. (August 14, 2012) -– The world of Pandora has never looked better as over 33 million AVATAR Facebook fans were the first to learn of the upcoming release of the AVATAR Blu-ray 3D Collector’s Edition, debuting globally beginning October 15, releasing in North America October 16, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. A home entertainment experience like no other, for the first time ever, fans will be able to welcome James Cameron’s global box office sensation into their homes in stunning 3D high-definition.

December 10, 2009. Avatar is released in theaters and goes on to become the highest grossing movie ever. Adjusted for inflation, it’s number two all time. On April 22, 2010, it is released on DVD. It’s now August 14, 2012. In what world does it make sense for the movie that basically defibrillated the entire notion of 3D movies to take three damn years to make a wide release on 3D Blu-ray? Ours, apparently.

Here’s how we got here: Panasonic got in bed with Avatar early on, promoting the film with103 trucks with giant 3D TVs on them. That was kind of cool, actually. But then, it turned out you could only buy the 3D Blu-ray with a Panasonic 3D TV. Which turned out to cost, all things considered, about 300 damn dollars for a $30 Blu-ray, no matter how you spun it. Totally dumb, totally anti-consumer.

So what did we do? What were we basically invited to do? We pirated.

As of October of last year, Avatar was the most pirated movie ever. 21 million downloads and counting. Sure, a lot of those were shaky cams, but how many were 1080p downloads and oh-hell-good-enough DVD rips were included in that? Probably a lot.

And the most infuriating part? It’s not like Panasonic got anything out of it anyway. In justJanuary to March of this year, it lost more than $5 billion—much of that in TVs. Is any significant portion of that due directly to its screwing with people who just wanted to buy and watch Avatar on their damn-expensive 3D TV? No, of course not. But it’s also clear that no one is ever going to buy a Panasonic 3D TV just because it has an exclusive on Avatar.

This is less an indictment of Panasonic or FOX’s business acumen—which, you know, speaks for itself—than an illustration of exactly how little consideration is given to us, the paying customers.

All of this matters. Especially right now. Demonoid just went down for the count. The RIAA and MPAA want the US to stomp on the Pirate Bay the same way. And we’re just a few months removed from the Supreme Court declining to hear an appeal for a $675,000 fine levied against Joel Tenenbaum for, as a teen, downloading a few dozen songs. The subtext is clear. It’s not even subtext—it’s super-text. We are the assholes. It’s our fault that movies are bad and the music industry can’t figure out how to monetize itself. And the copyright gestapo is coming for us. That’s the message, the threat, looming over every idiotic decision that pushes us closer to BitTorrent.

It’s not a new song. Big content has been struggling for years to figure out how to stop shooting itself in the feet and legs and genitals and torso on digital content. It’s Apple taking years to drop its draconian DRM from iTunes sales. Or it’s Amazon—the biggest bookseller in the world—locking down its own ebooks, even though they often cost exponentially more than simply buying a paperback. Or even Adele, lovely Adele, not having 21 on Spotify because her people didn’t want free customers to be able to listen to her. And it’s certainly HBO tying its brilliant HBO Go streaming to an archaic cable subscription. Buying things, or getting them legally, is still a giant pain in the ass. Insanely, counterintuitively, infuriatingly, it’s even worse for especially popular content, like Avatar or 21.

So what’s the other side of this? People want to pay for things. Spotify’s paying subscription base has grown 50 percent over the past six months. Apple is making billions from content sales. Even Netflix is on the comeback trail, after pantsing itself with last year’s Qwikster debacle. Make it easy, make it good, and people will pay.

Until then? Enjoy your three-year-old Blu-ray. Or just pirate it.

One of the comments:

What bothers me is paying extra for things that I want because they’re inextricably bundled with crap that I don’t want. For instance, the Avengers comes out on video next month. I have a Blu-Ray player and an iPad, and ideally, I’d like to just buy a Blu-Ray that comes bundled with a digital copy, but frankly, just the Blu-Ray disc would be fine.

But I can’t buy that. I have to buy the Blu-Ray bundled with the DVD I don’t need (with no digital copy). If I actually want to get that digital copy, I have to buy the four-disc combo that comes with the Blu-Ray disc, a Blu-Ray 3D disc, a DVD, a digital copy and the soundtrack to the damned movie. What the actual f***?

Moreover, if I chose to buy the Blu-Ray and the digital copy separately, it would cost me about $50 total just to be able to watch the same movie across multiple platforms.

Crap like that is why people pirate.

Belo Monte dam construction halted by Brazilian court

‘A Great Victory’: Controversial Brazilian Dam Construction Halted

Brazilian Federal court finds Belo Monte hydro-electric dam licenses invalid, indigenous peoples were not consulted

A victory came to activists in Brazil on Tuesday when a federal judge halted construction on the controversial Belo Monte dam in the Amazon, saying that the indigenous peoples had not been consulted.

The impacts of the dam, which would have been the third largest hydro-electric dam in the world, had long been slammed by indigenous groups and environmental activists who said that it would have displaced thousands and wreaked havoc upon the ecosystem while contributing to greenhouse gases.

When the Brazilian Congress gave approval for the dam in 2005, there were no consultations with the indigenous peoples about the environmental impacts, a fact that Judge Souza Prudente found in violation of the Brazilian Constitution.

“A study on the environmental impact of the project was required before, not after, work on the dam started. The legislation is flawed,” Judge Souza Prudente told O Globo newspaper.

“The Brazilian Congress must take into account the decisions taken by the indigenous communities. Legislators can only give the go-ahead if the indigenous communities agree with the project,” he said.

Souza Prudente remarked at a press conference that “only in a dictatorial regime does a government approve a project before holding consultations.”

Indigenous groups lauded the court ruling. “It’s a historic decision for the country and for the native communities,” said Antonia Melo, coordinator of the Xingu Vivo indigenous movement.

“It’s a great victory which shows that Belo Monte is not a done deal. We are very happy and satisfied.”

Zachary Hurwitz of International Rivers writes that “the decision supports the arguments that the affected tribes have been making over the lifetime of Belo Monte: tribes will face downstream livelihood impacts as a result of a reduction in the flow of the Xingu River on the 100-km stretch known as the Volta Grande or ‘Big Bend,’ and were never properly consulted, much less gave their consent.”

Hurwitz adds that the economic rationale dam proponents pushed is fundamentally flawed. “Economic rationale for the dam is based on a projected economic growth of 5% or more a year, but over the past few quarters, GDP has been lucky to grow at even a measly rate. As far as Belo Monte’s importance to Brazil’s economic race, this is really a case of the horse following the wagon.”

“And, as illustrated by this historic court decision, the wagon has been trampling on indigenous people and their rights, along the way,” writes Hurwitz.
SOURCE – via White Wolf.

A crystal pyramid in the Bermuda Triangle?

Is it real?

Suddenly this thing pops up all over the internet. A crystal pyramid, that reportedly has appeared or been discovered on a deep sea investigation about 2000 metres under the surface of the ocean in the area of the Bermuda Triangle. The person who discovered it is named “oceanographer Dr. Verlag Meyer”. I did a search online for this person, and found nothing, except the reference to this alleged crystal pyramid. Not very surprising, since ‘verlag’ is not exactly a name, but the German word for ‘publisher’ (German Wikipedia, scroll down and see where the English link points to if you are curious. Hint: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishing)

Meyer Verlag, by the way, is an existing publishing company in Germany (the town of Aachen to be exact). Perhaps they are grateful for the free advertising, I have not asked them. Perhaps they are not even aware of it, as they are publishers for sports of all kinds.

Still, even if this pyramid does not exist (or does not have more profound scientific proof)… Think of it. A large structure somewhere hidden under water or sand, that can trigger all kinds of strange phenomena as those reported from the Bermuda Triangle. Because, despite all the info about the pyramid, that is what this all boils down to: something that causes all these things. I am not making statements of truth or lie, but the idea itself is really intriguing.

If you want to learn more about the pyramid (mostly from believers), visit one or more of the following websites:

Status update:

It is a strange piece of software. I don’t like it but I need it for some stuff at work. After it was automatically upgraded to 9.0 I spent ages trying to find how it will automatically load Citrix “.ica” files. Never found it.

Since a few days it automatically loads .ica files without me telling it to do so? This takes user-friendly to new heights. Uhm – make that lows?