New Hearing Aid Technology

I read a couple of articles about interesting new technology for hearing aids in EETimes this week.

The first is about the Epoq hearing aid line from Oticon, the article is here. The MP3 player and cell phone integration is nice and should drive sales. What most interested me though was how they accomplished the continuous real time wireless communication within the tiny 1 mW total power budget typical of hearing aids. They did it by creating a magnetic-coupling system that requires only 300 – 600 ยตW for Tx and 300 ยตW for Rx. With this tiny power consumption they can still get 120kbit/s for up to 2 meters.

The second article is about AMI Semiconductor’s new 24-bit DSP chip the Ezairo 5900. These new technologies should help increase the utility of hearing aids and encourage more of the people with hearing loss to use them.

Happy Earth Day

I had completely forgotten that today is Earth Day until I used Google and saw their holiday logo. Very clever, a melting iceberg version of the Google logo to remind us of the dangers of global climate change.

I’m surprised none of the blogs I regularly read has yet mentioned Earth Day. The weather is absolutely beautiful today so I’m going to spend some time outdoors enjoying nature.

If your weather sucks, keeping you indoors today, here are some Earth Day links to explore:
U.S. Government site
The Wilderness Society
Also, click the Google logo on their site to find more.

Some good articles for your weekend reading pleasure

A comment over at Greg Laden’s blog pointed me to this article by Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Perimeter of Ignorance. I haven’t read anything from him before today but, I have enjoyed seeing him on the PBS show, Nova Science Now. I also read another older article of his, Holy Wars and found it to be excellent. In this article he mentions, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom By Andrew Dickson White, which I located in Google books.

The latest news on Joost

I finally succeeded in getting Joost setup, they released a new beta and modified their servers. It is certainly a very pretty program but so far due to the beta nature of the system, I haven’t gotten to watch more than a few seconds of a program. I suspect the problem is adjusting their servers to handle the higher load from increased beta testers.

They have stopped accepting applications for the limited beta program but, they have promised that everyone who previously applied will get their invitation to join in the next weeks. They also appear to have stopped issuing invitation credits to current beta users (I get none). They expect to move to open beta testing for all people soon.

Once I get to watch some whole programs and play around with the features I’ll post a review.

Funny directions from Google Maps

[UPDATE Nov. 2010 – This no longer works, move along nothing to see here]
From a post on the PICList today check out these funny directions.

Go to Google Maps.
Click on “Get Directions”.
Enter Boston, USA and Cork, Ireland in the start and end address boxes.
Click the “Get Directions” button.

Now look at step 9 in the directions. ๐Ÿ™‚

After you stop laughing, look at the way Google Maps routes you through France and England before getting to Ireland. This seems to be a common problem with all the map direction software I’ve tried. You have to monkey around with the software to get a direct route. In Microsoft Streets & Trips I find myself frequently having to add additional stops to force a direct route.

Silly instruction sheet

Today I saw the silliest instruction sheet I’ve seen in a long time. The instructions where inside of a new travel mug I got. Most of the items in the instructions are OK, although mostly unnecessary for anyone with 1/4 of a brain. But, some very odd warning items jumped out at me.

In the how to use section:
2. Do not look directly into product when filling, keep at arms length.
4. Your product should not be overfilled.

They can’t be serious, does it have a tendency to explode or what? Should I put on safety glasses before I fill it up. ๐Ÿ˜‰ How else am I supposed to avoid over filling if I can’t look directly into the mug. Maybe they want me to use a mirror periscope while filling. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then in the caution section I see:
4. Keep out of reach of children.

Huh, don’t let children near a travel mug, are they going to get locked inside?

Here’s the whole instruction sheet:scan0001-1

Joost update

I wrote about Joost a couple of times back in January, see them here and here. Today I finally got invited to try out the Joost Beta, although it looks like they’ve made the beta public now.

The download and installation went fine but, when I try to run Joost I get this error message.

An error occurred!
Unable to connect with the network
Please visit for more information or email

Checking the Joost forums I see that many others are having the same problem. Oh well, I’ll try it again later, for now I’ll just watch cable and Instant Media .

Article the third

The title of this post may seem odd considering it’s my 2nd post for the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm and the topic is a piece of the 1st Amendment . However, every time I look up from my main PC monitor I see a reproduction of the Bill of Rights which says:

“Article the third…… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I just couldn’t resist using the original designation as the title of this post. The last post showed the long history of the concept of absolute freedom of religion and conscience as espoused by Roger Williams and others in the 17th century. While many people believe that the freedom of religion the founders of the USA meant was freedom to choose a form of Christianity this is clearly not true of Roger Williams and his followers. Their definition of freedom of religion clearly means total freedom including non-belief and is clearly seen in this part of Williams 1644 book The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution .

Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God’s Spirit, the Word of God.

So by the time of the founding of this country there is already a long history of citizens who are determined to avoid an American theocracy. At the start of the American Revolution the Virginia Convention of Delegates adopted George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights containing this clause on freedom of religion.

XVI That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

During the ratification process of the US Constitution the question of guaranteed freedom of religion was debated heavily. Many of the colonies were slow to ratify and beginning with New Hampshire they started adding freedom of religion clauses to their ratification documents as desired amendments.
New Hampshire June 21, 1788 – “Congress shall make no Laws touching Religion, or to infringe the rights of Conscience”.
Virginia June 26, 1788 – “That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others.”
New York July 26, 1788 – “That the People have an equal, natural and unalienable right, freely and peaceably to Exercise their Religion according to the dictates of Conscience, and that no Religious Sect or Society ought to be favored or established by Law in preference of others.”
North Carolina November 21, 1789 – same as Virginia.
Rhode Island May 29, 1790 – same as Virginia.

All my research over the past week has reinforced my beliefs in the meaning of the First Amendments’ religion clauses. There needs to be absolute freedom for all US citizens to believe in any religion they want or to not believe in any religion at all. Citizens must also tolerate the beliefs of all other citizens and the government should neither help nor hinder any particular beliefs. CFI has published an excellent position paper titled, “THE TRUE MEANING OF THE ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE“(PDF), which I highly recommend. It provides a good deal of information on the opinions of Jefferson and Madison which is why I didn’t write about those influential founding fathers.

For reference and further reading:
First Freedom First
Exploring First Amendment Law
Illinois First Amendment Center
The U.S. Constitution Online
Wikipedia – United States Constitution
Wikipedia – United States Bill of Rights

For a humorous look at the problems with theocracy and fundementalism, I highly recommend Moral Orel on Cartoon Networks’ Adult Swim .


Freedom of Religion

I decided to participate in this weekends blogswarm, the topic is the separation of church and state. This blogswarm was created by Blue Gal, the blogswarm web site is here .

From a very early age my Dad taught me about the absolute necessity of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. You see, my Dad was an American Baptist Minister and these are core principals(PDF) of that branch of Christianity. The foundation for this tradition is the life and teachings of Roger Williams (1603ย–1684).

Roger Williams developed a strict belief in the right of all persons to absolute freedom of conscience, especially with respect to religion. His views put him in opposition to the theocracy of England so, in 1630 he left for the New England colonies arriving at Boston in 1631. He quickly realized that the early New England settlers where simply creating a theocracy using their own brand of religion. Williams taught and preached on his philosophy of liberty of conscience bringing him into conflict with the authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. During this time he visited with the native peoples of the area frequently even learning their languages which won him the respect and friendship of many tribes. Unlike most people of the colony, Williams respected the American Indians’ right to freedom of religion and their ownership of the land. He felt strongly that land in the colony must be legally purchased from the native peoples and never just be taken from them.

In 1635 the General court of the Massachusetts brought charges against Roger Williams for teaching his philosophy of absolute liberty of conscience and freedom of religion. He never contested the charges against him but freely admitted his belief highlighted by this quote “No one should be bound to maintain a worship against his own consent”. In October 1635 the General court of the Massachusetts colony banished Roger Williams from Massachusetts for refusing to retract his statements apposing the religious laws of the court.

Williams left Massachusetts in 1636 and settled on land he purchased from the Indians on Narragansett bay. He along with a dozen or so followers established Providence Plantations now known as the city of Providence. A few years later, in 1639, John Clarke arrived on Rhode Island and founded the city of Newport also on the principles of absolute freedom of religion and conscience. Clarke and Williams traveled to England in 1652 to secure a charter from King Charles II. Clarke authored the Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations which was signed July 15, 1663 by the King. This established the first government in the Americas dedicated to the principals of freedom of religion and Rhode Island followed it as the basis for government until 1842.

By the time of the American Revolution, Williams and Clarke where long deceased. However their philosophy of religious freedom, tolerance and liberty of conscience was influential in the actions of the leaders of the revolution. The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was a model of religious liberty for all the colonies. The states adherence to these principals led to the founding of the first Jewish Synagogue in the colonies, Touro Synagogue established in 1763 in the city of Newport. These ideas of freedom and liberty where widely held by intellectuals at the time of the revolution and are embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;….

Although the belief in the absolute right of freedom of religion and conscience was common among many intellectuals of the era, it was not included in the Constitution of the United States. This was due to many citizens still desiring their own form of theocracy based on the teachings of their religious leaders. This brings me to the ratification of the Constitution and the absolutely essential Bill of Rights that I will write about in another post tomorrow.

For reference and further reading:

Memoir of Roger Williams, James D.Knowles, 1834
Roger Williams The Pioneer of Religious Liberty, Oscar S. Straus, 1894
An Historical Discourse on the Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island, John Callender, 1739
History of Rhode Island, Edward Peterson, 1853
Records Of The Colony Of Rhode Island And Providence Plantations In New England, John Russel Barltett, 1859

Web Sites and Articles:
The Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Wikipedia, History of Rhode Island
Roger Williams Champion of Liberty
Newport Notables Dr. John Clarke