Bloggable Mass The Second
It's probably a good thing that you don't see what goes on behind the scenes at Casa Del Girtby. Instead of fully-formed posts (or what passes for such on this site) instead I have lately just been producing mostly unrelated snippets. They don't deserve a post in their own right, but if I give each of them a bullet point, together perhaps they could form a bloggable mass. Again.
In topical news, did anyone else think that the response from Sen. Barack Obama to John Howard's outrageous insult was a little, well, lame? Obama basically said "well maybe he should commit 20,000 more troops". That would bring Australia's commitment up to something like 21,400 which is, apparently, above the magic figure which would make Howard's trash-talk legitimate. Why 20,000? Why not 200,000? Why not 20? Surely Howard was out of line no matter how many troops we had in Iraq. For someone as legendarily lucid and articulate as Obama, this was a most disappointing retort.
Because I am, apparently, a glutton for atheistic writings, lately I've been dabbling in some of the works of Bertrand Russell. Russell was a truly great man with a huge intellect and the ability to express with clarity and reason his views. Although others such as Dawkins have taken over the mantle somewhat, Russell still needs to be heard and read as much as ever. Have a read of some of the material online (courtesy of wikipedia, above). Then try your hand at following along as Mark Dominus explains Russell and Whitehead's proof that 1 + 1 = 2. Brain-bending stuff.
Also on atheism, it occurred to me the other day that the mental effort required to move from a state of belief to unbelief must be quite significant. Once you believe in something, it is very difficult to unbelieve it. The effort required is far greater than that required to become a believer in the first place. This realisation has caused me to ask myself: what would it take for me to become religious? The answer is quite a lot of mental contortions. This is a useful measure of the effort that I am expecting of religious people in renouncing their faith. In other words, I would find it extremely difficult to become religious, and should expect the same degree of difficulty for religious people to become atheists. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for such exemplary tolerance.
In techy news I have been reading a lot about video compression lately. Specifically MPEG 4 and H.264. This is a fascinating subject, and Richardson's book is an excellent introduction. I'm impressed by the extremely clever compression techniques employed by H.264 and the fact that it is relatively patent-free (in Baseline Profile anyway). For this reason I would probably suggest that H.264 Baseline be the video codec of choice for archival purposes, although I need to read more. I'm starting to question the conventional wisdom that H.264 requires significant CPU resources for playback, given that the Apple TV can do 1280x720 H.264 at 24fps with nothing more than a 1 GHz Pentium M. Hey, even my 5.5G Video iPod will do 640x480 H.264 at 30fps.
That's it for now, enjoy your week.