Friday, April 27, 2007

"Bad Hijab"

Unbeknown to me, at the beginning of every summer in the 'Republic' of Iran the (actual) fashion police make their rounds of the main streets and shopping centers, warning people about the consequences of not following the 'Hijab', the Islamic dress code. According to Islamic [or Iranian?] law, a woman who does not cover her hair and body in public can be fined or imprisoned for up to two months.

I guess this type of thing has happened every year since the Iranian revolution of 1979, but in recent years the enforcement of the dress code has been relatively lax. Not so this year. According to a BBC report, "Thousands of Iranian women have been cautioned over their poor Islamic dress this week and several hundred arrested in the capital Tehran in the most fierce crackdown on what's known as "bad hijab" for more than a decade." In a slightly bizzar twist, the story goes on to say that "One shopkeeper selling evening dresses told us the moral police had ordered him to saw off the breasts of his mannequins because they were too revealing."

In my humble opinion, that's a little bit, well, wrong, for lack of a better word. If Iran wants to be treated by the rest of the world like a "First World" country and not be on the human rights watch lists, then maybe a good place to start is by giving their citizens a little more freedom and liberty to make their own decisions and not constantly live in fear of their government. But that probably won't happen, because freedom and liberty lead to democracy, and that's not about to be allowed to happen.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Greed is still better than 'green'

The first few paragraphs of this MSN Money story by Jon Markman are seriously high quality. Definitely worth clicking over there for a quick read.

The rest of the article gets into good investments for an electricity dependent world, such as the one that we live in. It's also an interesting read, but it's a little more nerdy. And by that I mean investor / day trader nerdy. But still good.

Friday, April 20, 2007

TC vs. JC

Scientology is pretty mysterious and scary (just check out the Operation Clambake site where he is 'exposing' scientology), but on the more humorous note, remember when some British tabloid said (lied) that the head of the 'church' compared Tom Cruise to Jesus Christ? Well, it was the Sun magazine, and it did, so there.

But we all know how that comparison really would go. Jesus would win hands down. I mean, Tom Cruise is a plenty good actor, even if he does always play the same character, but he did invent the color pink. (Chuck Norris invented the rest.) Jesus, on the other hand, gave his live to save humanity. And for further proof, we now go to (P)MSNBC correspondent, Jim Olbermann:

Jesus wins! ;)

Friday, April 13, 2007

I don't get Toothpaste

I don't think I'm sophisticated enough to get this dude's stuff.
toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com
But it is kinda funny.

Friday, April 06, 2007

"Amazing Variety of Imperfectness"

Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways.
- Samuel McChord Crothers
I thought that this was especially appropriate timing, considering the weekend of swing dance performances coming up. Specifically the one tonight that I am going to try not to screw up too badly.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

My Maps by Google

Google has recently introduced a new feature with it's already powerful and popular Google Maps service called My Maps. It's pretty sweet. Just go to maps.google.com and click on "My Maps" in the upper left-ish part of the screen to give it a try. You can add a location anywhere, add your own descriptions, draw lines and shapes, and still get directions. Plus, you can make your map public and link to it like I've done below, or you can keep it private.

Map for the 4th Annual Colorado Intercollegiate Swing Battle.

Why is Easter always on a different day?

Easter is this weekend! Which is cool, but a little inconvenient because of this huge swing dance event that is also taking place this weekend... but that’s another story.

But why did Easter and the Swing Battle fall on the same weekend this year, when they did not last year, and will not next year? (Easter Sunday is the 8th of April this year. Last year it was the 16th of April. Next year it will be the 23rd of March.)

Those dates seem pretty random to me, but apparently, there is a method to that madness. A very, very, old method. That has been updated. In 1582. And 1923.

The date of Easter varies every year within a specific part of the Gregorian calendar (the one the Western world uses). The current ecclesiastical rules that determine what day Easter falls on date back to 325 AD at the First Council of Nicaea arranged by the Roman Emperor Constantine. The council decided that Easter should always be on a Sunday and that it should be the same Sunday throughout the world. To accomplish this, and to ensure that the date of Easter could be determined for any year in the future, they assembled a series of special tables to plot the date. These tables were revise for the next few centuries, but the whole world never really became standardized.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII undertook a complete reconstruction of the Julian calendar and produced new Easter tables. This helped fix some of the problems, including Leap Years. By the 1700s these new calendars had been adopted by most of Western Europe, and basically became the world standard, and the date of Easter was finally determined.

Kinda.

The general rule of determining Easter’s date, that ‘Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox’, is not quite exact because of the differences between the actual lunar cycles and the ecclesiastical (church) calendar.

The rules for the church calendar are:

  • Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox;
  • This particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and
  • The vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.

All these caveats can mean that when Easter should be according to the lunar calendar are sometimes overridden by when the church calendar says that it should be.

To really figure it out exactly, you’ve gotta follow the crazy formula below:

The formula uses the year, y, to give the month, m, and day, d, of Easter. The symbol * means multiply.

(Please note the following: This is an integer calculation. All variables are integers and all remainders from division are dropped. For example, 7 divided by 3 is equal to 2 in integer arithmetic.)

c = y / 100

n = y - 19 * ( y / 19 )

k = ( c - 17 ) / 25

i = c - c / 4 - ( c - k ) / 3 + 19 * n + 15

i = i - 30 * ( i / 30 )

i = i - ( i / 28 ) * ( 1 - ( i / 28 ) * ( 29 / ( i + 1 ) ) * ( ( 21 - n ) / 11 ) )

j = y + y / 4 + i + 2 - c + c / 4

j = j - 7 * ( j / 7 )

l = i - j

m = 3 + ( l + 40 ) / 44

d = l + 28 - 31 * ( m / 4 )

For example, using the year 2010:
y=2010,
c=2010/100=20,
n=2010 - 19 x (2010/19) = 2010 - 19 x (105) = 15, [see note above regarding integer calculations]
Therefore, in 2010, Easter is on April 4.


That is WAY too much work for me. I think I’ll just keep looking on the calendar. At least the swing battle is always on the first full weekend of April. I think.

(Thanks to the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department web page for this information and very tough to follow equation.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nerd

nerd also nurd (nûrd)n. Slang.
  1. A foolish, inept, or unattractive person.
  2. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

[Perhaps after Nerd, a character in If I Ran the Zoo, by Theodor Seuss Geisel.]

Dr Seuss invented the term 'nerd!' How awesome is that?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Alternative Energy Sources — A Quick Look

Here is a really good (and only slightly outdated) overview of many of the mainstream alternative energy sources being researched today, complete with both pros and cons, written from an engineer's perspective.