Python Liberation Front
New Front Page for AwareTek, Software You Can Use for Fun, Decision Analysis, and Spiritual Questing
If you have trouble discerning the common thread and theme, well, wait a while and keep returning to the main AwareTek front page, becuase it is highly likly to change drastically and often and to evolve disruptively ;-)))
As far as the self-written scripts, they may be pretty simple but keep in mind I am working on much more complex and interesting ones, but in my limited spare time it is taking a long time to bring them to final fruition ;-)))
Real Soon Now...
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Pardon me while I Focus...
One issue I have always faced is that I perhaps tend to scatter my efforts over too many areas and too many projects. In the tradition of a life long effort to focus better, I am now going to focus this web site on four (4) areas or topics:
1. It must be obvious from this Blog that I have an interest in creative writing (primarily essays, articles and poetry) about philosophy and religion. I don't see myself ever giving this up. I define these subjects broadly, but mostly I tend to be interested in the future of religion and philosophy, and how these affect the future of the human race, our cultures , technology, planet and universe. This broadly defined topic area is probably my primary area of interest.
I am far from being a true Python programmer. While an experienced programmer can learn the core Python language in a day or two, I have taken three plus years to "learn" the core Python language in my "spare" time. Still, to me, it is no mean feat that I now have internalized the core language pretty well, and I have dabbled enough with a few libraries to get the gist of how they work. I can't see myself giving up this tool as long as the Lord allows me to use it.
This is an area I am working on in the background. I finally have pyGoogle working properly and will someday (soon I hope) have my former web-scraper script askMerlin converted to using the Google API, so that it doesn't constantly break. Then I will put a really improved version of this script online here using a cgi script. This will be a fun program, trust me. It will basically answer any question you ask, by searching the web and using a few simple algorithms. The command line version was fun, but it kept breaking. I have ideas to improve the algorithms to make it better, and to use the Google API's to keep it from breaking, and as a CGI script it will be acessible online. Real Soon Now... really ;-)))
I also will continue to play around with Firedrop2. I am curious if any one else is using FireDrop and how you are doing? Any other Firedrop Blogs out there? At this point, I must give a plug for the creator of FireDrop's own personal blog, Hans Nowak's Efectos Especiales it is well worthwhile.
3. I am going to put up a page or section covering my professional specialty, frequency control devices using quartz crystal oscillators. I started out almost 30 years ago as an engineer in this field, with my academic background in physics and math, and have now spent almost 30 somewhat successful years in the business side of this field. These devices are used in every computer, electronic communication device or network, and many other applications. I have seen alot in my career, including the dot com craze that drove demand for our components and subsystems sky high, to the subsequent bust; both of which far exceeded anything in the previous 20 years of my experience. Someday, after I "retire" from this field, if I ever do, I may have a Great American Novel in me about it.
4. My family. Pictures to come. There may be a novel here also someday ;-)))
Seriously, these 4 areas are what I feel a need to focus on. The only thing that may seem to tie them all together may be this web site.
So be it.
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More Images of China...it's tiring, but friendly, to climb the Great Wall
more to come real soon now... ;-))))
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Images of China...the Great Wall
more to come real soon now... ;-))))
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In addition to movies, photos, artblog posts, commentary etc. I am planning some new features on Python and other scripting language subjects. In the meantime, I want to point out that there is a voluminous amount of material I have posted on this site over the last six months, and now would be a great time to explore the volumes ;-))) Some of the best stuff may be tucked away in nooks and crannies.
And, I will try to stay in touch a little while in China by posting to the discussion board. All in all, I have a lot planned for this site; the trip isn't all that long, and before the Fourth of July I hope to see some fireworks here on AwareTek.
I am aware that the discussion forum is not user friendly and it irks me and I will fix it. In the meantime, I think you can enter a post under any name (including anonymous) and just leave the "password" field blank, and it should accept your post *without* the tiresome need to "register". At least that works when I try it, and I apologize for the request of "registration" which I am not interested in, it is just a "feature" of the darn forum software I am using that I haven't yet figured out how to turn off. As I said, technical difficulties, welcome to our world.
If you haven't yet, please explore the Cave below. I'll "see" you all soon, wish me luck in China, and in my rapidly changing life at work and away from cyberspace. My wife bought me a copy of "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" for Father's Day, and so maybe I'll read it on the plane and then finally get around to reading "the Agony and the Ecstasy". I have oft heard it said that artists and scientists often create their greatest works during their most stress filled periods when they have the most obstacles to overcome. Think of Beethoven and the Ninth Symphony when he was completely deaf and suffering from severe nervous system dysfunction probably caused by mercury and lead poisoning. Well, none of us are Beethoven or Michelangelo but if stress causes us to do good things, then watch out world, here we come! ;-)))
I pray that all is well with you and yours.
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and leave us a message ;-))) and if it dysfunctions even worse than I expect, well, welcome to Technical Difficulties...
Then I tried Python, and quickly fell in love. The syntax for the core language was soon committed to memory. I could read anyone's code and understand. I could just sit and write code. I truly learned object oriented programming. Without Python, I would probably not be interested in programming today. With Python, it has become an important hobby for me.
Ruby: Ruby is a programmer's programming language, and has spawned a community of disciples who, if it were possible, could be said to love their language even more than the Pythonistas do. Ruby is newer than Python, and does not have as large a community nor as large a library and tool set, but it is a very powerful and beautiful language. Object oriented to its core, Ruby includes all the advanced features loved by programming language researchers. After grokking Python, I read Programming Ruby, the Pragmatic Programmer's Guide, by David Thomas and Andrew Hunt (affectionately known in the community as the Pickaxe book) and it made object oriented programming seem more intuitive than procedural programming. I can not recommend that book enough, even for those who don't use Ruby. This language is not going to go away, and it is the language of choice for a lot of tremendous programmers.
Perl: Without Perl, the other languages in this list would not exist, at least not in their current forms. Perl is the father of them all, and is still the most used of them all. Perl pioneered the genre, and is at its best in text processing chores of all types. Perl is still the language of choice for CGI scripts and is the language most ubiquitously supported for CGI applications on servers of all types. In fact, the existing library of Perl scripts for CGI is so large that there is a good chance you can find the script you want and use it, even if you don't write Perl. Perl is loved for its expressiveness and terseness, and for its unique founder, Larry Wall. Perl 6 is under development and is planned to utilize a revolutionary new virtual machine called Parrot. Parrot's lead developer, Dan Sugalski, ambitiously plans to support Python, Ruby and other languages as well as Perl, and hopes to make Python, Ruby, and Perl code execute faster on Parrot than in their own native environment.
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Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter, a Book Review
"Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter", by Thomas Cahill, Doubleday 2003, 304 pages.
A timely book, "Sailing" is a gentle and easily readable re-introduction to Greek civilization and culture, with numerous parallels and lessons drawn to our own times by the astute author. Cahill has a real knack for this sort of thing, as he has amply demonstrated in three previous volumes in his "Hinges of History" series. I was introduced to his work in his first volume in the series, "How the Irish Saved Civilization"; and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Cahill aims to give us a well rounded glimpse into the way the ancient Greeks lived, saw the world, and in fact into the whole of Greek experience. He does this in an idiosyncratic way that will please neither academics nor purists, but which does allow one to taste and smell the Greeks' cultural milieu, and not just to cogitate about it. But cogitate you will, as Cahill gives enough food for thought as post modern man is likely to be able to bear.
According to Cahill, the Greeks' invention of the alphabet (or refinement of the Phoenician alphabet) into a potent intellectual tool was the beginning and the heart of their cultural expansion. Perhaps, in our own time, the arrival of computer technology and the web carries a similar promise, if only we can tease as much innovation from the web as the Greeks did from the alphabet.
But it is hard to consign the Greeks' invention of democracy (a Greek word meaning "rule of the people") to second place, even to so fine a contender as the alphabet itself. For the Greek city-state of Athens truly did refine direct democracy and their achievement can be seen as the bedrock and foundation of Western Europe's later development of democracy, and especially of the American experiment in indirect and representational democracy.
Yet of equally revolutionary significance is the Greek invention of total warfare, with highly organized militaries made up of hoplite soldiers and shrewd, calculating generals. This Greek way of warfare has been the foundation of the Western way of war ever since, right down to and including our current American military dominance of the planet. Cahill cites extensively from the brilliant and influential military historian Victor Davis Hanson and his book "The Autumn of War" to the effect that the western way of total warfare has dominated the planet ever since; and it appears that Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Chaney are well versed in Mr. Hanson's theories, not to mention Greek hubris.
The lessons for the USA in its war on terrorism alone are compelling, if not down right chilling. Central to the cultural echoes provided is a speech from Pericles, ruler of Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, a mighty struggle that lasted for 30 years, beginning with Athens at the height of its imperial, cultural and financial powers, and ending with Athens defeated and subjected to domination by Sparta and her allies, never again to regain the zenith of her glory and might.
At an annual ceremony honoring and burying the bones of her young war dead after the first year of the 30 years war, Pericles orated about the Greek forefathers, and he sounds a lot like a contemporary American politician:
"...generation after generation in unchanging and unbroken succession, they have, by their hard work and courage, handed down to us a free country... "
This comes from what is by far the longest of the many quotes Cahill intersperses in his book, and it sounds ever so much like George W. Bush. I admire the way the author intersperses these quotes without ever boring the reader. The quotes from such luminaries as Homer, Socrates, Plato and others are absolutely integral to the book and greatly enhance its character. If Pericles' speech above reminds us of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, so it must also remind us somewhat of our current President's oratory about the War on Terror.
The book is organized around chapters that bring together material in an organic way, not an academic way; with titles like: "The Warrior: How to Fight", "The Wanderer: How to Feel", "The Poet: How to Party", "The Politician and the Playwright: How to Rule", "The Philosopher: How to Think", "The Artist: How to See", and "The Way They Went: Greco-Roman World meets Judeo-Christian".
All in all, this is a quick read, a delightful and thought provoking exercise, and a worthwhile adventure. I highly recommend it. Be forewarned though, you may find yourself wanting to go on and read the other volumes in the series, including "How the Irish Saved Civilization", "The Gifts of the Jews", "The Desire of the Everlasting Hills" (about early Christianity), and the three forthcoming volumes, the next of which is promised to be about how the Romans became Italians. By the time all three future volumes are published, this promises to be a very accessible investigation into the making of the modern world and the impact of its cultural innovations on the sensibilities of the West.
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By the way, you do *not* need to have a password to leave a message on the board, I know it asks you for one, (I can't make it stop that ;-))), but just skip that, but do enter a user name or pseudonym and leave password blank, that's as simple as I can seem to make it.
So, to summarize, please say "hello" publicly on the discussion board, privately by email, or request that a post or email be broadcast on this blog right in this space; but by all means do shout "hello" somehow...
Hello out there in radio land, now back to our regularly scheduled broadcasting....
An Open Forum, please say hello, Commentary, Discussion, Open Mike; Things Fall Apart, Entropy; End Times' Blues
Or leave me an email at email@example.com.
Things have gotten to the point where stuff breaks on this website about at the same rate that I can fix it or add new stuff. Maybe that's a sign from above, I don't know? I hope not. But having slowly built up this little web site for some years now I wonder if I should keep on going or go in a different direction. I sure am busy at work and traveling...
It would be nice to hear from anyone who stops by. I wonder what you are thinking about. If you don't have a blog yet, or a web site, I'm willing to let you use this one ;-))). You'll have a ready made viewership, if not readership (see below).
Well, you can't do much worse than my stuff. I began writing this poem in 1971 at Depauw University in Greencastle Indiana. I came back to it a couple of years ago, and now I keep tweaking it, but its never quite right. In 1971, the world seemed to teeter on the edge of nuclear war. In a textbook of some kind, I saw a post modern picture of a painting of a stylized Pope on a throne with the most horrified face, I'll never forget it; the skeleton stood out, the hands clasped the ends of the throne arms, and the face screamed; now I can't find it, even using Google. Does anyone have any idea what painting I saw a picture of thirty some years ago? Some times I think we all feel a little like the Pope on that throne....
The poem seems strangely relevant again, with the Western World, or at least the new Rome, at war with a billion Muslims; just watch the news and you'll know what I mean. Here it is:
End Times Madness...
When quakes shall root out foundings to the core,
How small a loss it were to lose a race
But what a pity should we lose our hope!
Before the solemn eyes of ag'ed Pope
...with apologies to the unknown artist of the Pope picture, to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan, W.B. Yates' The Second Coming, MacBeth's soliloquy, an anonymous early English poet's creation of Sir Spens and a whole race of men and women who have faced the horror daily, of annihilation psychic or physical, or both. I read the news today, oh boy...
This medium, the web, is a lot like a sandy beach where nymphs write their songs with fingers in the sand; nothing on the web lasts for very long. Well I don't know if this web site will lasts much longer, or should last much longer, but its officially open to (controlled) graffiti for now. Maybe it should become a Wiki???
But, in one last piece of my own doggerel, borrowed from memories of a poem I also wrote in college so many years ago, to a young lady,
A moment's quietly turned masterpiece
or something like that...
Early on, I was infatuated with young ladies. Now, I am infatuated with writing songs in the sand. I wonder if anyone will notice them? Maybe some one will write a reply? I think I'll check back here in few days and look...
link to :
Link Dicsussion on Ars Technica link
For some reason, it was moved from the Battelfield to the Soap Box; anyway, it is a good discussion with many thoughtful participants.
The link in the post below will no longer work.
Follow Up Discussion to the essay below titled "Artificial Intelligence has a long, long way to go to catch up with Natural Intelligence..."
Link Cosmic Discussion on Ars Technica link
My pseudonym on Ars Technica is Ursus Maximus.
There are many intellgent posts from folks conversant with biology, DNA, cellular biology, neural networks, AI, brain science, and other intiguing subjects...
It is elaborate and from many different people with diverse points of view, some quite knowledgable. If the link above ceases to operate, go to Ars Technica, at Ars Technica then click on "Ars OpenForum" on the left hand side of the page, and then on "Battlefield" half way down the page under "Operating Systems" and then look for the thread beginning with the words "Digital Computers"...
You can also contribute to this discusion yourself.
SCO and Intellectual Property Law
The SCO case illustrates how our system allows a company to make overly broad claims that tie up progress and hinder innovation, and wind up harming our economic and technological progress. Ultimately, no matter how absurd the claim, the outcome can not be predicted in advance, because it all depends on interpretation, and no one can predict how the courts and judges will interpret the case.
It is unlikely that east Asian countries will accept this kind of system. More likely, they will create a new kind of intellectual property control system, more suited to the information age, which will help them to become the new center of economic dynamism.
Thoughts on Mel Gibson's " The Passion of Christ " Immediately After Seeing the Film...
Before I went to see the movie, having seen so much publicity, I had some thoughts about what I expected.
I was almost afraid to see the movie, because of the violence. I suspected that the charges of anti-semitism were over-played. I did not expect the film to be anti-semitic. I had wondered whether the film would emphasize personal, altruistic, genuine faith, or else dogmatic, stultified religion. I wondered how people of different backgrounds would react to the movie.
I considered that the crucifixion story still resonates, for many people, after all these years, in a way, that, for instance, the Greek myths do not.
Immediately after seeing the film (it is just past midnight and I have just arrived home from the theater as I write), my reactions are different than what I expected.
I do not doubt Mel Gibson's good intentions, nor do I doubt that the film will inspire some good in various people. Many in the audience were visibly moved and crying. I don't doubt the film's power to inspire and motivate. However, I do not find the film to be completely good.
For one thing, the film includes a lot of stuff that is not Biblical. Having grown up reading the Bible, I know pretty much what is in the Gospels. The movie elongates and multiplies the scenes where the Jewish Sanhedrin deliberate Jesus' fate, and shows scene after scene of the Jewish leaders practically forcing Pilate, against his will, to finally order Jesus' crucifixion. This includes putting words into people's mouths that are found nowhere in the Bible. Perhaps these words and scenes are found in the history of European passion plays, or else maybe Mr. Gibson read them in extra-Biblical works, I don't know. But why include them, and why dwell so excessively on this topic?
The portrait of Pilate painted in the film is simply unbelievable. He is an extra sensitive man, and his wife is a secret follower of Jesus who actually takes towels to give to Mary and Mary Magdalene while Jesus is being scourged; the two Marys then use these towels to wipe up Jesus blood spilled during the scourging. Pilate even expresses exasperation at Jesus too harsh scourging! It seems to me that, on subject matter of this serious nature, one should not take liberties with the known accounts. And if one does take liberties, why do so many of the liberties need to paint a picture of Jewish villainy?
The film is violent, that's for sure. I feel sorry for the lady in Kansas who died during a matinee peformance yesterday. I was careful. I diverted my gaze occasionally, and I even closed my eyes a few times during the scourging and crucifixion scenes. I feel I did see the whole movie; some bloody scenes were dwelled on for long periods of time. I did not gorge myself in the gore, as I did not want to overdose on it. Certainly, one should be prepared emotionally before seeing this film; children should not see it.
Sometimes, being too explicit tends to cheapen a good thing. Perhaps we would all be better off to read the Gospels rather than seeing this movie. Too much spectacle of this kind may ultimately lead to the mythologizing of the crucifixion story. The material is too important and too sensitive to allow someone else to interpret it for you; you need to read the authoritative accounts for yourself.
You'll have to decide for yourself whether to see this movie or not. If you do see it, just be prepared emotionally, and keep your wits about you. James Caraviel is an actor, not God.
Back from India (and China)...
Meanwhile, I will comment that India (this was my first trip to India) is still much poorer and lacking infrastructure compared to China. I was in New Delhi and also took a side trip to Agra, a five hour drive, to see the Taj Mahal. The Taj exceeded my expectations in every way, it is a gleaming white marble building in the middle of an aesthetically symmetric group of buildings, gardens and pools and the Taj itself is full of exquisite inlaid marble designs.
I have been visiting China for over 10 years and while the Chinese coastal cities and select inland cites are very modern and up to date, in some ways more so than the USA, New Delhi is still chaotic and backwards by comparison. My company has a sales office in the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, a building taller than the World Trade Centers; right next door, there are imminent plans to build a taller building, probably to be the tallest building in the world. Shanghai reminds me of New York City only newer, more modern and more hectic.
By the way, I keep my eyes open for Open Source software whenever I am in Asia (I travel often to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan) and I do see a definite increase in its use and publicity lately.
More to come real soon now….
I am certainly open to any questions about setting up and using Firedrop, for instance. Or, if anyone wants to take me to task for something I've written, that's fine too ;-))).
Maybe someone would like to share a personal poem, or short work of fiction or non-fiction, or philosophy.
Anything at all really. I have tried various kinds of discussion forums and comments sections, and so this may not be the last. If it doesn't get used, so be it.
Mozart and 21 Grams
21 Grams is a movie worth seeing if you like psychology and philosophy.
I am easily bored. During my 51 yeas on earth, I have never listened to any one album of music for very many consecutive repetitions. But for the last six months, I have noticed a new phenomenon. I have listened to a CD of Mozart's Requiem virtually continuously, interrupted by news radio and an occasional rock music station, but not by any other CD.
I can't say why I like this music so much. In the field of classical music, my favorite was usually Bach, and I certainly also like Beethoven's' Ninth and a collection of other stuff. I can say that I like Bach because of his mathematical precision, his contrapuntal harmony, his syncopated creativity, and the seminal and foundational pioneering nature of his work. But as for Mozart, it is a certain je ne sais quoi...
But to listen for six months, why I am certain I have listened to the Requiem over 100 times and probably 200 times, as I do a lot of driving from Connecticut where I live to New Hampshire where I now work most of the time.
The music relaxes me and excites me at the same time. It keeps me awake on long drives.
It is the last work of Mozart, who died while composing it, leaving it unfinished. His wife had friends finish it. All I can say is, it is worth listening to. If I had to take only one CD to the proverbial island....
Old AwareTek (as in Ancient)
It may be a source of passing amusement. Of the most interest, perhaps, are old user-submitted works of art, fiction and poetry that folks submitted and allowed me to post in the early days of the web's popularity. Some of these are found under "Notes from the Underground" and then under "Poetry and Prose".
The old website can be found at oldAwaretek
One Dylan link to get you started might be BobDylan
My own poetry has been influenced by Dylan, along with English translations of old Chinese poetry, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare's sonnets, and the King James translation of the Bible. I certainly do not mean this in any high brow way, nor am I an expert in any of this, nevertheless it is true that I have been moved and influenced by all of the above.
A bit about the sections on this web site:
Python: The Python Learning Foundation is a resource for those learning Python, and includes links to more than 75 online Tutorials, more than 25 Book Reviews written by myself, output from a web spider finding articles about Python that is updated daily, and much more.
Baha'i: "Why I am a Baha'i" is an online book written by myself, about my search for a religion that is in accord with science, logic, and reason. The Baha'i Faith teaches that all the Prophets and Founders of the major religions come from the same source and teach the same basic, underlying truth, which is updated periodically to the benefit of the times in which the Prophet appears.
Poetry: Emotionally Yours is a selection of poems written by me over a 35 year period. Whew.
Blog: Merlin's Musings are my personal blog.
Tech News: Awaretek Tech News is updated every 15 minutes by a web spider.
Philosophy: Farnham's Freehold is a series of essays about my philosophy of liberty focusing on open source software, economics, business, and government.
TopicsI intend to write about some of the technology that I use to run this site, which includes Python, Linux, Mac OS X, Firedrop2, and open source software in general, as well the philosophy behind this software. I will also be writing about the philosophy of technology, science, economics, business and religion.