science & god

from today’s new york times: the seemingly unexpected question of whether one can be a good scientist and believe in god, asked by a student at a recent conference at NY’s city college, draw a quick and rather strong response:

Reaction from one of the panelists, all Nobel laureates, was quick and sharp. “No!” declared Herbert A. Hauptman, who shared the chemistry prize in 1985 for his work on the structure of crystals.

Belief in the supernatural, especially belief in God, is not only incompatible with good science, Dr. Hauptman declared, “this kind of belief is damaging to the well-being of the human race.” (NYT)

pretty strong words. where does that leave me? well, according to hauptman i’m not a good scientist and, to top it off, am damaging the human race.

hmm.

actually, i’m surprised that a scientist can forget his scientific training to such an extent that he forgets the difference between theory and fact: evolution is still a theory, admittedly one that helps to explain quite a lot quite well (and, as theories go, is, thus, a pretty good theory) — as is the idea of a big bang. but, all this is pretty much beside the point. the point is that we can (and do all the time) chase down the alley of one theory or the other and keep on asking “why?” — finding an answer to these recursive descents is what keeps us, as man-kind, plodding on. belief in god would only be damaging if we take god as a stopgap, as a last resort to our unsolved questions: god as the answer to our unsolved or unsolvable questions. personally, i prefer to believe in god as the creator of the universe who through his son jesus christ takes an interest in our personal lives — god not as a boundary god, god not as a stopgap god, but rather god in the midst of our lives, as bonhoeffer writes in ethik and in gemeinsames leben. that i find more interesting and challenging than fighting over the first view seconds of the universe or whether it really was word for word as it’s written in genesis

— sorry, got to answer the door: a representative for a bunch of monkeys wants to discuss publishing something resembling the collected works of shakespeare…

getting even…after 2000 years :-)

lol…just reading today’s observer: Rabbit army brings ruin to Hadrian’s Wall — it seems that 2000 years after being introduced to the british isles by roman soldiers who did not want to miss their well-done rabbits, those little buggers finally are getting even:

“rabbits have started to achieve what the Picts never could: the destruction of the empire’s most northernmost defences.” (observer)

hadrian’s wall seems threatened…glastonbury’s tor is being eroded…perthshire’s gask ridge is under siege!

given that at least hadrian’s wall is a UNESCO world heritage site, isn’t the attack by the rabbit armies then a violation of some UN rule or another? armies of rabbits? masses of weapons of destruction! clearly something for the poodle and the monkey to take up action on…and while they are at it: the downs on the isle of wight are under attack as well!

turning .mp3 into .m4b

listening to audiobooks and radio plays on the iPod is quite nice. instead of buying the audiobooks or radio plays in audiobook format, i buy CDs and convert them to MP3s. the only problem with that is that the iPod does not keep a bookmark for the invidual MP3s, so it’s a bit annoying to have to remember where i stopped listening. the iPod can remember bookmarks with the M4B AAC format. so, the task was to convert .mp3 to .m4b.

after quite a bit of experimenting around the following perl script will do the trick (you need madplay and faac, under gentoo that’s just an “emerge madplay faac” away):

#!/usr/bin/perl
use strict;
use Getopt::Long;
# — constants
my $MADPLAY = q(/usr/bin/madplay);
my $FAAC = q(/usr/bin/faac);
my $m4b = undef;
my $artist = undef;
my $album = undef;
my $title = undef;
my $year = undef;
my $genre = undef;
GetOptions(“–m4b=s” => \$m4b,
“–artist=s” => \$artist,
“–genre=s” => \$genre,
“–album=s” => \$album,
“–year=s” => \$year,
“–title=s” => \$title);
my $m4bopts = “”;
$artist && { $m4bopts .= ” –artist \”$artist\”” };
$album && { $m4bopts .= ” –album \”$album\”” };
$title && { $m4bopts .= ” –title \”$title\”” };
$genre && { $m4bopts .= ” –genre \”$genre\”” };
$year && { $m4bopts .= ” –year \”$year \”” };
my $mp3s = join ‘ ‘, map { “\”$_\”” } @ARGV;
printf qq($MADPLAY -o wav:- $mp3s | $FAAC -w -o $m4b $m4bopts -\n);
system qq($MADPLAY -o wav:- $mp3s | $FAAC -w -o $m4b $m4bopts -);
exit 0;

have fun.