Monday, January 28, 2008

"Ignore anyone who is not on my Messenger List"

I've been getting Yahoo! Messenger spam regularly. The current version allows me to report the message as spam, and I did that on every one. Unfortunately that didn't seem to help. All of the spam similar in that it has URLs with garbage characters paired with URL characters, kind of like what happens if you view UTF-16 Unicode as ASCII. I've now reluctantly set Messenger to "Ignore anyone who is not on my Messenger List".

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why be so hard on Scientology and not those other religions?

Recently I've seen a lot of stores on Reddit about various ways Scientology sucks and about how Anonymous declared a war on Scientology. It seems like bashing Scientology is pretty popular, at least among a certain demographic.

Scientology bashing seems to make sense. They seem have some really weird and unreasonable beliefs which might not even make good science fiction. Also, the church seems to be very litigious. It seems they also seriously financially exploit their faithful followers. However, Scientology doesn't seem to be exceptionally crazy or bad compared to other religions.

For example consider Christianity. There are lots of weird and harmful things there. Even the core idea is weird. Why would God need to send his son to be sacrificed in order for sins to be forgiven? Then there are missionaries who try to help people but in the process convert them to Christianity. People complain about Scientology going after drug addicts and criminals, but going after indigenous cultures is even worse. Let's not forget that many Christian organizations go after drug addicts and criminals too. Many Christian organizations also fight against equal rights for homosexuals and abortion rights. Many are even against condoms even though overpopulation and sexually transmitted diseases are major problems.

For another example consider Islam. I know less about it so I can't criticize it in as much detail. It's pretty obvious that some sects are against women's rights, even to the point of condoning honour killing. Some condone violence, such as going after the "infidels". (I'm not saying that all violence is bad. Some cases, such as the Palestinian Intifada, it might be justified.) Some sects barbarically punish people, and in some cases even rape victims. Then there's the ridiculous reaction to what they perceive is blasphemy, such as with Salman Rushdie and the Muhammad cartoons.

So how come people are going after Scientology but not after other religions?

I guess one issue is that Scientology seems to be a unified organization while most other religions are fragmented into various sects. If you point out something bad and claim it is a property of the religion, people will tell you it's just those particular sects. Even if the problem (like for example the Christian attitudes on homosexuality) exists in most sects, people still claim it's not an overall problem with the religion. Yes, there have been attacks on the worst sects (such as the Taliban and Westboro Baptist Church). However, so much shit from various religions gets tolerated and even protected.

I wonder if Scientology gets attacked just because they're new and small. That seems unfair, like bullying. Also, Christianity got attacked early on and that might have actually helped them grow. I also wonder if Christianity is maybe protected by residual internalized Christianity that's even in those who have rejected it. After being brought up in an environment with lots of Christian stimuli, it may have of worked its way deep into many people, so that they can't really see it as a weird, foreign and harmful cult like Scientology.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I got a sincere apology from the local Cineplex Odeon theatre

I sent what I wrote here about bad image quality during Hansel and Gretel live in HD to the Metropolitan Opera and Cineplex. I just contacted them normally with that text, not telling them that I was posting on my blog. First, the Metropolitan Opera said they would forward the information to the theatre. Then Cineplex asked for my address and phone number. Finally, I got a very sincere apology from the local theatre, and two special event passes. I was very impressed with the apology. It wasn't some generic corporate letter; instead it seems to be from someone local who knew about the situation.

I'll definitely make use of the passes, and if the image quality is really improved, I'll probably go again after that too.

The belief-o-matic

I just took the Belief-O-Matic test at Beliefnet. It asks questions related to religious beliefs and gives you a list of religions ranked by how they agree with your answers. Here are my top ten matches:
1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (91%)
3. Theravada Buddhism (88%)
4. Neo-Pagan (85%)
5. Mahayana Buddhism (82%)
6. New Age (81%)
7. Secular Humanism (81%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (80%)
9. Taoism (68%)
10. Reform Judaism (67%)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hansel and Gretel live in HD

I just returned from Hansel and Gretel live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera. I watched it at Cineplex Odeon at Devonshire Mall in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The performance was quite good but the image quality was poor. Here is a list of image issues, roughly in order of decreasing importance.
  • The image was stretched horizontally, progressively more further away from the centre. The very centre might have been unstretched, but the left and right edges were stretched ridiculously.
  • The image only took up about three fifths of the screen vertically and horizontally
  • The image wasn't focused very well. In the centre, focus wasn't terrible but it wasn't good and I feel it reduced the effective resolution to the equivalent of standard definition TV. The left and right edges were severely out of focus. (I wonder if poor focus on the edges is related to the stretching mentioned earlier.)
  • There was trapezoidal distortion. The bottom of the screen was noticeably wider than the top.
  • Overall the image quality was unimpressive. I think the digital projector used is the same as what's used for commercials and trivia before movies. It's okay for that, but not for what I actually paid to see.
I didn't think image quality was bad last year at SilverCity also in Windsor. I also felt that the overall experience was worse compared to last year. There was no cart with popcorn, no employee speaking a bit before the performance, and the programs handed out were low quality photocopies. However, the price was higher. I don't think I'll be going again this year.