Random Webness

John Piper on the “Prosperity Gospel”

I was directed to this item over on Rick Harrington’s BLOG by Erik DiVietro.

The “health and wealth” movement is an affront to Christianity, but one that (in various degrees) has pervaded our Christian culture. We all tend to assume, unless we actively fight it, that the wealthy (especially wealthy believers) have some special blessing from God.

But televangelists and false preachers have spread the message of “God wants everyone rich,” around the world, to the detriment of Christ’s cause. Piper really nails my opinion of this false gospel.

NaNi the Brain Surgeon

Last week we were visiting the McGrath family, and they (as usual) offered the kids some food. NaNi was eating a bread roll, and said, “Dad, we can cut open your head, and put this inside, and glue it back together, and you’ll act all crazy. Then when you’re done acting crazy, we can cut your head open again, and put your regular brain back in, and glue it back together again.”

A week before that, she said, “Dad, I can’t take my head off, because my blood is sticky—just like glue—and it holds it on.”

What a kid.

Oh, she also is crazy about dresses. Two weeks ago she slyly pronounced, “Dad, if you buy me a twirley Cinderella dress, I am soooo letting you take me to the ball.”

Amazing Dental Technology

This morning I reported to my dentist at 8:00 a.m. to have a crown done. They use a CEREC system, and I was amazed by the technology.

They shot me up with Novocaine, got rid of the old filling and ground down the disintegrating part of the molar. Then they use an IR imager to get a 3D image of the tooth that remains, and match—in beautifully animated 3D—the crown that will be milled to the base that remains, using the tooth outline against a database of about 500 3D teeth to get one that looks natural. (See the video above. It’s jaw-dropping.)

The dentist then can adjust this using a mouse and 3D view. They pick a tint that matches the rest of your teeth, throw a block of dental material in a tiny, computerized milling machine, and in 11 to 22 minutes, the crown is done.

This gets molecularly bonded (rather than just cemented) to the original tooth surface, and voila—essentially a new tooth, in less time than it takes the Novocaine to wear off.

I was out and on my way again at 9:20.

Shiver Me Timbers! Talk Like a Pirate Day Is Here Again!

‘Twas A grand, glorious day when I awoke. “Wench!” demanded I, “Where be me mornin’ grog?”

But then I learned a right powerful lesson: Be not calling a fair lass a “wench,” if’n she be stronger than thee. Painfully quick the lesson was, and quickly painful.

I woke me offspring up this mornin’ by yellin’, “Avast, ye good for nothing lazy swabs! Get out of those bunks ‘fore I have ye keelhauled!”

Arrrrrrr!

We had a great time talking like pirates on the way to school, and David tried to convince me that, as it was a holiday, he had the day off. I changed the words to our usual Geek song fare, “Can’t you see I’m white and piratey?” and “That Be the Power of Love.”

See last year’s post here.

Reuters covered it with this article.

Game Camp USA – “Isaacing”

Isaac and David spent two weeks this year at Game Camp Nation, which has been operated for a number of years by our friends Phil Luchon and Steve Deyesso and their staff, originally under the name of “Camp Turing.”

David and Isaac were among the first students to test a new curriculum designed for younger students. They developed games using the GameMaker software, which allows sprite-based games to be created using a relatively simple properties-panel-driven model. (Game Maker also features its own scripting language, and the ability to do more advanced things, even as much as a 3D FPS game.) Game Camp also offers courses in game programming using C++ (which will probably be switched to Java next year), and 3D modeling and animation using AutoDesk’s Maya.

Each student gets his own computer to work and play on all day. Attendees also have some non-computer time to play board games and enjoy meals. Still, this was more of a “Geek Heaven” kind of place than one might be expecting in a summer camp. (I wonder if any of the children noticed that the conference room the hotel gave them didn’t have any windows.)


Isaac and David Outside the Conference Center used by Game Camp USA for their Waltham, Ma., sessions.

Both weasels enjoyed camp immensely, and readily learned to create and debug games. They were up before I was every morning, and I let them stay late almost every night to participate in the network gaming tournaments that the camp runs at the end of the day. David got so tired one day that he fell asleep in the car in the morning, and then on the couch in seconds when we got home, sleeping there nearly 12 hours through the night.


Isaac and David with Game Camp USA staff members Chris, Steve, and Joy.

We Have a Weiner Winner!

The game tournament is open to all camp attendees, whether they stay overnight or not. To keep things balanced among different types of games, they played FPS games (Halo and Call of Duty), RTS games (StarCraft and Command & Conquer 3), and Motocross Madness 2. Scores were kept all week, and the winner each week got a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy.

Of course that meant that Isaac and David were staying until 8:30 every night, but I figured it was worth the effort for two weeks.

Isaac came in first the first week, despite my dragging him out early one night. During the second week, he was leading by 100% of the second-place person’s score. Steve decided that dominating by that much for two weeks in a row would be called “Isaacing.”


Isaac with the huge Lego set he purchased, #7662 Trade Federation MTT