Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  Getting ideas for Biblical Studies Podcasts
I've now prepared about fifteen 5 Minute Bible podcasts and have begun to get a feel for the medium and its strengths and weaknesses, also I am discovering (slowly) the ways I have to change my thinking patterns to adapt to this format and medium. I've just posted one that came from teaching the Hebrew group: "Biblical Narrative: Fraught with Background: Genesis 24". Most of the 'casts so far have developed out of things we have done in class. Which leaves me with a problem over the next few weeks. My last classes this semester are on Thursday - then that source of ideas will dry up till July. So, if anyone has any suggestions for 'casts or for getting ideas for such short focused slots about the Bible do let me know!

I must also find a better way of indexing them so that I can be more likely to remember or find them when one would be useful for students... So for example if you have a small topic that you think your students could do with a short different voice (in more ways than one ;-) explaining add it to my wish list and who knows you could have a new targeted resource!

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Monday, May 28, 2007
  Bible References in Blog Posts
There's an interesting, and potentially extremely useful (if for most Biblical Scholars a tad technical) discussion in the last few days which could make citing the Bible in blogs very much easier and better. Basically the problem is that currently if you (or I) cite a Bible reference in our blogs either:
  1. nothing happens, and the user has to manually look up the reference for themselves
  2. you (since I do not yet) subscribe to a clever plugin that converts you reference into a link to an online Bible that the plugin writer fancies (often the ESV) which the reader is stuck with even if they hate the XYV and would prefer the original Aramaic (it was that part of Daniel you cited wasn't it?)
Sean (Blogos) Annotating Scripture References in Blog Posts: a Modest Proposal is a neat simple "microformat" approach. Now at this point some of you are pricking your ears up at the trendiness of microformats (though most of you read Sean and already) but the rest are looking glazey eyed and yawning ;-) Actually microformats are really seriously good for you! They are: ""simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development." Do not yawn, there in the back, what that means is:
  • they are "simple" so even dumboes like you and I can use them, they are not just for technogods
  • they are "conventions" so we can choose whether to use them or not, but if we do good things happen, like when we follow the conventions of the form of literature we are writing
  • they "embed semantics" - that means that they "know" what you mean, and other services can understand that your reference to Amos 5:13 is just that, a reference to a Bible verse or passage
  • this enables "decentralised development" - which means that today, tomorrow or in two years time, Jo or Joe can write a cool tool which sings the Bible in properly cantored Hebrew, or presents a PDF of the beautifully illuminated page from the Book of Kells, or whatever... and you can use it, or your user can use it - even if you have never heard of the tool.
Now, is that cool or what!?

Here are the three posts so far that discuss the proposal. Do take a look. Forget yawning at the techno-speak, but think about how this will work from a user's point of view. And encourage this development, so it does go on to become a convention. Because that is what is needed for it to work.

Sean's "modest proposal":
and suggests some neater simplifications:
Sean responds and agrees:
WARNING: the post above was written by a technical ignoramus, but it will be corrected and updated as soon as anyone with greater knowledge explains the need!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007
  Job reading
Bob had problems with the free site that the files were stored on (see post below "Performing Job") so, I have uploaded them here:Please do listen and comment on which you would prefer for a "dramatised" reading of Job (by dramatised I mean simply with each speaking character in the poetry read by a different person, and the prose read by a "narrator". Things to consider are poetic quality, comprehensibility and so on... please listen rather than read the text as I suspect hearing works differently from seeing, and that archaic English works better when heard!?

BTW since the project is on Librivox we have to use a translation that will allow us to put the result in the public domain.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
  Performing Job
I'm trying to get a (virtual) group together to perform Job at Librivox. The idea is that several of us will each record a "part", Job, his friends, God, narrator, Eliphaz. Then we'll put it together. For Librivox the result has to be Public Domain, so we need to use an appropriate translation. The candidates (out of copyright or copyright free) seem to be KJV, ASV, WEB another Tim (Tim1983) has read ch.19 in each of these, as a trial. If the idea of an audio reading of Job in different voices interests you (whether you might consider taking part or not) would you pop over to the forum and download and listen to the three, they are under 3MB each, and comment on which you think might be our best choice.


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Saturday, May 19, 2007
  Biblical Studies and its "market"
The students in BSTHEO316 "Biblical Texts in Context" that I am teaching with Prof Wainwright are asked to keep a reading blog, and to comment on each others'. One of the students, Ryan Pellett (who gave me permission to quote him here) wrote this as part of his reply to a post about:

Sugirtharajah, R.S. "Scripture, Scholarship, Empire: Putting the Discipline in Its Place." Expository Times 117, no. 1 (2005): 2-11.
It seems to me and this is just a generalisation that theologians have some amazing insights into the Bible their work is so wordy and unreadable or widely unavailable that it’s only read by other academics. Its also seems that half the time of a theologian is spent taking small and not so small pot shots at other theologians.

Before I started this course I had never heard of any of the people we now study, and I would say it would be the same for most of you in the class. Unless you actively seek to know more, as we have done by studying theology, you never come across all this insightful work which brings me to my point.

What is the goal of a theology and theologians?

Is it to win the battle of popularity and bragging rights by publishing more books, however unreadable by the average person, and proving more of your pears ideas wrong then they can prove of yours?

Or is it to disseminate their insights to the church community as a whole so that we can benefit from their work. I know which one it should be but since I have never seen or heard of them in the 20 years I have spent at various churches I would have to say it’s the former which is a shame.

Is theological dissemination going to be left to people like us who take what we learn from the masters and spread it ourselves to those in our churches?
A large part of the problem, Ryan, is that the academic systems in which we operate either do not give us credit for writing "popular" works, or only give us small credit. So, the recent "Performance Based Research Funding" exercise in NZ which grades lecturers seems to give more credit for the more esoteric publications, and little or no credit for writing aimed at ordinary readers. Such writing does not count as research, but there is no other grading system in which such work does gain brownie points!

As a result of the way these systems discourage "popularisation", good biblical studies scholarship is seldom communicated in places that non-specialists read. Except by a few scholars, some of whom deliberately write books that will communicate to non-specialists. These scholars usually do not have stellar careers - they are most often employed by church-based theological colleges (seminaries), and so tend to be more conservative.

However, the way in which generations of pastors have failed to communicate much of what they studied has also led to a huge gulf between (almost) any sort of academically rigorous biblical studies and the way the Bible is read and used in church.

In Conservative churches, where the Bible is still regarded as the (or a very important) authority, the way in which scholars cite Bible passages to support points they are making has been understood as prooftexting. Most people in churches who seek to follow "the Bible's teaching" believe that one or two Bible verses can be read alone and mean something! Then add the approach to Scripture (largely driven by 20th century American Christian fundamentalists) that sees it as all of a piece, dictated word for word by God, and something like a makers manual for a car. By now you have effectively killed the Bible and turned it merely into a convenient cudgel to be used for beating your opponents to pulp.

In "Liberal" churches the situation is, if anything, worse. The Bible is seen as a merely human book, that it ceases to hold much authority at all, and is at best a source of some carefully selected or Bowdlerised stories to tell to Sunday School children (of whom there are very few left to listen). The resulting Politically Correct censored Bible has little of value to say, for its message is merely be good people and be nice to each other!

Now, after my moan, the good news! Thanks to the Internet it is easier today to get hold of good, stimulating, intelligent material about the Bible than ever before. There are dozens, perhaps now hundreds, of blogs written by biblical scholars. Many of them, like those listed in the side bar of this blog, and those they list in turn, present a good level of scholarship in ways that are easy to read. Soon there will be a wave of bibliopodcasts (or whatever we come to call audio files presented by biblical scholars). For now there are few, and most are not regular bite sized chunks, but solid meaty lectures. However do try guiding people to hear Amy Jill Levine of Vanderbilt Divinity School talking about Jesus and Women. Then they'll be begging you for tickets to her Auckland lecture!

And if that's too long for them, send them to hear my latest experiment 5 Minute Bible podcasts. They attempt to break complex ideas about studying the Bible seriously into short "bites".

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Friday, May 18, 2007
  Why be "Baptist"?
Rhett (of the Rhetspect) has a post (Feeling Strangely Warmed) in which he comments:
People, I think usually just end up in denominations, and then often work backwards and try to justify (to themselves as much as anyone else) why they belong there.

Baptists, endearingly, seem to be quite honest about this. There is no major over-arching vision statement or document of beliefs. On most theological issues they give a pretty wide berth. As I have said before, it's a great ecumenical approach.

Having said that, I find the whole congregational governance thing a bit hard to stomach. It's just a bit reactionary for my tastes. But perhaps that's because I was once involved in a Baptist church where we voted on everything down to the copy machine budget.
So first, as a Baptist (not quite, but nearly, life-long) I'll be - I hope - endearingly honest about this, I am (still) a Baptist precisely because of the congregational and Christ-centeredness of Baptist life. The picture of "voting on everything" simply misunderstands. In an ideal church meeting (which does not exist, see Genesis 3) we would vote on nothing. The Church (the local gathered community of Jesus followers) would pray, discuss, argue, debate, and finally recognise, which way the Spirit is blowing and follow.

In the real world, we often often end up voting. That's because of contagious heteropraxis [If you don't understand see Rhett's Feeling Strangely Warned and substitute "praxis" (doing) for "doxy" believing.] what I mean is that we hear of congregations voting, and our society votes, we're democratic, so the church copies the world. When we do, we think of Church as "democratic" what a heresy! We should be pneumocratic, governed by the Spirit of Christ. And that's why Baptists should be Bible centered, because we know the mind of Christ through the Scriptures that witness to him.

So, Rhett (and anyone else ;-) if that's "reactionary" then I'm an old reactionary - boots and all!


  Teaching the Universal Soldier
Scot McKnight has a couple of posts answering someone who asked him Why leave seminary for college? The first of which got me thinking.

[Now the context is different, the two places I've been teaching for the last few years are both at the same academic level, in NZ - as in the UK and Australia - we don't commonly use a graduate degree like an MDiv for clergy-training, but one is a Theological College: faith-based and essentially ministry-focused, the other is a secular University, with a much wider range of students. Different, with different joys and challenges, but I have loved both.]

One paragraph in his comments "fitted" my experience and feelings better than the others:
4. Faith teaching: My seminary students asked mostly exegetical and interpretive questions — my college students wonder if Christianity is true, why it doesn’t seem to make more of an impact, why their life is so thin and shallow and not joyous and fulfilling. They ask bigger questions in class than I was accustomed to in seminary — did the resurrection happen? Which texts in the NT show that Jesus was God? How can a God of love take out a whole city in Joshua? Not that my seminary students didn’t ask these questions, but that my college students seem to live with these questions more existentially.
The difference is not so strongly marked for me, but since the University students come from a much wider range of backgrounds:
  • denomination: Carey students are either Baptist, or members of an Evangelical denomination or from the Evangelical wing of the Anglican or Presbyterian Churches - the University students are from anywhere or nowhere in terms of church, I've sometimes had Donovan's "Universal Soldier" in the class: (s)he's a Catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain, A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew - actually I wasn't aware of the Jain... but maybe!
  • race: most Carey students are of predominantly European descent, that is true of the majority (though only just) of University students too but only just, at Carey most of the non-Europeans are Asian, at the University they are Māori, Polynesian.
  • destination: most Carey students envisage some form of professional Christian ministry at the end of their study, many University students do too, but many do not.
Like in Scott's classes this variety makes for wider and more interesting questions. White, Evangelical, Ministry students are afraid that any interpretation of the Bible which looks beyond the meaning of this passage (and preferably this verse) may risk being unsound or liberal. The Universal Soldier student is more concerned to wrestle with the text, and with life, and with God, trying to somehow bring the three together. And that is exciting for the teacher.

I love teaching both groups. (Cf. Scott's point 2.) I admire the ministry students' commitment passion and faith, but I fear their narrowness and legalism. I admire the University students' openness, but I wish some of them could "catch" the deep and life-changing faith that is the Carey students' motive.

In drawing this caricature I have maligned many students in both groups - I don't intend that, what I was trying to do was not capture the wild and wonderful richness of any class in a neat descriptive phrase (you can't thank God) but to summarise why over the years I've valued the joint Carey/University teaching, and why I'll miss the School of Theology when I Carey leave it at the end of the year (as Carey's participation ends).

[If this sounds grumpy, or offends you, please excuse me - I've been off today with stomach cramps and headache and mild fever, maybe I'm not quite myself!]

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007
  Big Bibles: a response to Lingamish
In a recent article Lingamish claims that Big Bibles are used to "whack" people. In the spirit of scholarly debate I offer this response from the well known open scholarship repository U-Bend:

PS: I am still waiting for all the visitors to come flocking looking for Contrarians ;-)

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Monday, May 14, 2007
  Thin King Blog!
Well, there's this meme, started by some guy at and thanks to Tyler I got tagged.Apparently because I'm contrarian, so of course I'm making the start of this acceptance speech as contrarian as possible. I even linked to Tyler's post with the word contrarian in the link text, do you think this will get me hits from all those millions searching Google for a contrarian blog? Even though there is already a blog with the name: The Contrarian!

But in the end I'm so conventional, and here's my list of five of the blogs that make me think (for some of the others see the sidebar lists!):
And that about wraps it up... I've got in the required link to The Thin King, I've (in a contrarian way) thanked Tyler - more seriously to be given this meme by Tyler is a great honour, because his blog is among the consistently best Biblical Studies focused blogs around. Now, I'll just retire to the after function party ;-)

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Sunday, May 13, 2007
  Sophie: have I seen the future or the past?
There's a story that American journalist Lincoln Steffens visited the USSR and returned, claiming "I've been over into the future and it works!" I have recently begun playing with the Institute for the Future of the Book's alpha release of Sophie, and I have some of the mixed feelings that the Steffens quote elicits today.

Sophie is brilliant, an easy to use editor for complex interactive multimedia. As such it is already superb (though as a pre-release alpha somewhat flaky still), and the plans and dreams of the IFBook people make its future sound even better. If such a tool had existed a few years ago the Amos commentary would have been created using it, and would have emerged very differently from its actual HTML incarnation. Sophie permits rich and varied interactions with multimedia, and will permit comments - creating a community around the media "text". This mix of media with community is evidently the (or at least one) future, and it works! (Or is beginning to work - very well.)

To get a good idea of the possibilities download Mozart's Dissonant Quartet the video with text-over shows some of the possibilities in a timeline based presentation. If you do try it do read the instructions on the page linked above, they will save you (or would have saved me) quite a bit of trying to work out how Sophie works as a reader.

However, to someone used to the free-flowing, largely system independent, world of HTML - and even more so of its more structured and meaningful descendants inhabiting the world of XML - I am frustrated by a system that defines a "page size" (usually a fraction of my screen to accommodate older smaller screens - but pity the user whose screen is too small!) and pages that MUST be turned.

Still, the only demo book I have tried so far Mozart's Dissonant Quartet with its beautiful soundtracks. Here too the ways in which Sophie is "not HTML" can be frustrating, as I said above, till I RTFMed I found the demo far from intuitive to navigate - more of a text adventure with a superb soundtrack than a multimedia experience. Sophie also has a very Macish feel to her, right clicking achieves precisely nothing, though the
interface has Mac's good looks, there are times when Windows comforting convenience is useful! Perhaps when Sophie has her dedicated Reader this will become less of a puzzle. I suspect though it will help if (when IF Book release the "real thing" into the wild) Sophie comes with a firm set of recommended conventions.

Conclusion so far: just one hour in...

Will the limitations of restrictive screen display sizes (so beloved of the graphical designers) be overcome and will the user interface become more intuitive? If so Sophie will make a brilliant environment to produce multimedia instructional materials that can become truly the hub of an interactive communal learning experience... Or is this "future" too restrictive in its polices?

Already - if I was teaching my Bible in an Electronic context course (or in a school) - I can see how students could easily and quickly produce interactive multimedia so easily... I imaging that even some of my IT challenged colleagues could learn to use and love Sophie. And a design that achieves that shows deep wisdom!

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Saturday, May 12, 2007
  Most interesting presentation of a minor prophet
Graham Doel has posted his Sunday Evenings Choices (ideas for upcoming Sunday evening service discussion series). His topics for Malachi strike me as the most interesting presentation of that minor prophet that I've seen!

How can I be sure?

Malachi and a mirror

Imagine you are your favourite action hero. Not sure what is round the corner she edges towards the corner of the corridor she clutches the butt of her pistol, ready herself and pounces round the corner ready to blast the living daylights out of anything that exists. Not being sure of something changes the way we act. During a time of major change in the way people lived their lives Malachi looks on and can see them asking how can I be sure?

This five week series will give us the opportunity to hold Malachi up like a mirror. As we ask our Questions Malachi reflects them back through 2500 years of history:

  1. Can I be sure if God exists he loves me? Aren’t all vicars are pedophiles?
  2. Why do the good die young and evil people last forever?
  3. Jesus was a good bloke, do I have to believe he was God’s messenger or son?
  4. Does any good come out of giving your life to God?
  5. I enjoyed watching “War of the Worlds” but I don’t believe it. Why should I believe in Christian Apocalypse?
Now, why didn't I choose the post-exilic prophets for a major focus!

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  Circus Circus
This week's café has its own website, and a strong "theme". Though where we were seated , in the window to catch the sun (it is busy, so we were lucky people left the table as we came in). It's a busy and well organised place in Mt Eden "village". Service was quick and efficient. However, our ratings are lower than for most of the others we have tried, and the prices were on the higher side.

Coffee: OK My long black had a good flavour and came straight with no choice of water to add or refrain from adding. Some was dribbled down the side of the cup, probably from the speed with which the barrista was operating, he was churning out the coffees like a factory or a circus act ;-) Barbara's moccachino was reported "OK, but not as good as several of the others". Its presentation was careless, with the milk simply slopped in and the less than aesthetic effect covered with powdered chocolate used as a disguise. More care less speed... is my recommended motto!

Food: Dull By chance we both chose the Kumara and Riccotta Fritters with Avocado Salsa. These were solid and worthy, like 70s "vegetarian" options. The dish lacked any spark or excitement. The riccotta was so blended with the kumara it was indistinguishable as a flavour and the blandness of the avocado did not provide a contrast with the solidity of the kumara. The side salad baby spinach leaves and a few snow pea sprouts as decoration was unimaginative and needed a stronger dressing (there was none on the table to add).

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  Bible course "syllabi"
I notice that Heather McKay (as an ex-secondary teacher!) is helping organise a collection of course "syllabi" (I assume this is what we call "course outlines") on the SBL Site. If you teach Bible and might consider this go to the appeal for courses and get weaving! This will be a useful resource for all of us, especially for anyone who is stuck (as I was this semester) teaching a whole bunch of new courses thanks to curriculum reviews!


Friday, May 11, 2007
  Nominations for May's Biblical Studies Carnival
I've been somehow too busy to write responses to most of the good posts I've bookmarked so far this month, so, for students who might miss out, and as my first round of nominations for May's Biblical Studies Carnival I'll not especially these posts that I wanted to respond to, but haven't :(

John at Ancient Hebrew Poetry mused on questions of Canon, Inspiration, and Authority in probably the most thought-provoking biblical post this month. His superb Electronic Dictionaries of Biblical Hebrew series was mainly last month... but I'm still hoping to respond to that... one day!

Of course there was the Class Attendance debate, since in the Tyndale Carey Graduate School I'm living at the intersection of two systems:
  • one that says if students don't attend that's their loss - and potentially failure
  • the other says less than 80% on the register (yes people they take a register!) and you cannot pass the course
I'd love to write an opinionated response to Tyler, Jim (who deserves an opinionated response), and the rest of you. Frankly and briefly, since B is awake and needs coffee - any student who voluntarily misses classes is not worth having (I was such a student, so I know that of which I speak) and any teacher who cannot be interesting or provocative enough keep students coming deserve each other!

Oh, yes, and they found the tomb of some guy called Herod, who appears in the other third of the Bible.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007
  Thinking with a Word Processor
Thanks to the always stimulating Alex Soojung-Kim Pang of The End of Cyberspace for the link to Kristóf [J. C.] Nyíri (Hungarian Wittgenstinian philosopher) and in particular his (19993) "Thinking with a Word Processor".

I have as yet hardly begun to process the article, indeed this week is so busy with work and Brabara's thesis (to be submitted next week, already) that it will be a while before I can read rather than skim it. One brief extract (one free of heavy philosophical quotes - for Nyíri is a commonsensical everyday philosopher) will give an idea of why I am excited:
Words on the printed page appear clearly and distinctly. The handwritten manuscript however which the author prepares is, as a rule, rather convoluted. If one adds to this that authors tend to experience feelings of intimacy and elation at the sight of their handwriting, the conclusion is difficult to avoid that the writer thinks in a medium less clear than the one in which his readers will think.
Then, remember that I am currently experimenting with a new medium for thinking, the podcast 5 minute Bible, for which I prepare oral text, with only (at most) notes written on PC or the back of an envelope, and edit the text orally in Audacity... This medium for thinking combines elements of the oral world (the thoughts are after all spoken), the written world (notes whether electronic or on scraps of paper) and the edited world of the Word Processor (since Audacity is a sort of Spoken Word Processor).

What fun!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
  Wired and those voices in your head
The Gaget Lab blog at Wired magazine has a short but thought provoking post on how DRM and greed among the publishing classes may have killed the e-book goose, before it could start laying eggs. The item also has a nice (little) link to Librivox, where my rendition of Stalky and Co. by Rudyard Kipling has now passed 1,000 downloads in just over a week!

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Saturday, May 05, 2007
  Perk Up

Today's cafe, in Kingsland because we have "finished" Sandringham Rd ;-) has the punny name "Perk Up" it's small and busy. The style and menu are fairly typical, with two nice touches:
  • free coffee with your breakfast (not supposed to operate on Saturday, do you think someone is spotting us as influential reviewers ;-)
  • interesting items on a "specials" list - I've been getting bored by the same-old, same-old menus, eggs benny is great, big breakfasts are fine, but whatever "creative" names you call them they are much the same everywhere!
Food: Excellent Barbara had a pile of corn fritters with bacon and egg, and pronounced them "Very Good". I had Chicken Livers with Bacon and Spinach in a rich tasty port and mustard gravy on toasted Ciabatta, it was superb, the best food I've had in a cafe so far. Perhaps a little heavy for the last sunny Saturday of the year (we sat outside and enjoyed people-watching), but so deeply savoury and balanced...
Coffee: Pretty Good By Karajoz, B's moccachino was only OK or Quite Good, my long black (with jug, though metal) was strong with deep flavour but just a touch bitter.

Perk Up
438 New North Road,
09 815 0434

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Friday, May 04, 2007
  E-mail lunacy
Mark Nichols has a post E-mail bankruptcy in which he comments briefly on the Stuff item on email bankruptcy. Like me Mark tries to keep his inbox clear, he writes:
I feel uneasy if I have to scroll down to see the entire contents of my inbox
when this happens (often!) I don't just feel "uneasy" I feel pressured and over-worked! But look at the cause. It is not the emails that need a quick simple answer - unless I am very busy they get it. It is not the emails that require deep thought - if they are interesting and stimulating they get it. It is the 50 or so emails every day that I have to move across to storage - unread, or delete. They come from colleagues, often from "authorities". They fall into several recognisable and preventable classes. Such as:
  • repeats (why do three different people all feel they need to tell me about the same conference?)
  • rubbish from my viewpoint - though important to the sender (it was a conference on a topic that they find inspiring but makes me yawn!)
  • overkill (people who think I need to read about everything or I'll feel left out)
  • "entertainment" (how many cute cat videos do you really think I want to watch - your humour in my inbox just makes me angry!)
  • ... etc...
Looking at the list it's clear. If people in institutions would focus, either create nuanced email lists (instead of one "all staff" one) and then think for a while about who is likely to be really interested in this, or needs, really needs to know it, a lot would be gone. If only I could charge the senders 20 cents an email my box would be clear, because "they" would think twice.

And that's the sad part, it is mainly colleagues who produce this tidal wave of quasi-Spam. After all if they weren't colleagues, friends or bosses I'd have labeled mail from their addresses Junk and got it redirected to the Spam box long ago.

Even more sadly the culprits will never read this, they are not technically literate enough to subscribe to an RSS feed, that's why they have neither cottoned on that I delete half their mails, nor that less is more when it comes to communication.

<insert image of Munch's "Scream" here>


Thursday, May 03, 2007
  Biblical Studies "Carnival"
Biblical Studies Carnival XVII is out, prepared by Chris Heard, at Higgion, so full of extra Hebrew Scriptures goodness, including my post on El Shaddai as the breasted god. Chris berates us (gently) in a "Concluding Unscientific Postscript"
I’ll say that I did not receive any nominations this month. Danny Zacharias is slated to host Biblical Studies Carnival XVIII at Deinde in the first week of June 2007; please make Danny’s life a little easier by sending your nominations (see the carnival home page for details).
So, please take note everyone ... (I'm editing it later this year, and if you blog about biblical studies you'll no doubt take a turn too, so we all have a vested interest in a good supply of nominations ;-)


Wednesday, May 02, 2007
  Podcasting: rich and pure
If anyone still needs convincing that "podcasting" has a place in education (or if they enjoy fine Scot's accents!) try Stephen Walsh's interview with Donald Clark from UFI. He describes the unique blend of "high bitrate" (you can hear emotion, stress, accent...) and purity (there are no distracting images, context etc....) of an mp3 delivery of content. Plus it is fun to listen to two enthusiasts chat!

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  Serendipity and smacking
It's odd. Yesterday I announce that my reading of Stalky and Co. is available. "Stalky" is a highly entertaining set of school stories by Rudyard Kipling, the stories - though funny and using English with Kipling's usual verve - contain many dubious moral elements, not least that the boys are copiously thrashed by their headmaster. Now, today New Zealand's parliament votes on a controversial "anti-smacking" bill.

[I've called it "anti-smacking" technically it is much more complex and woolly than that, but that seems to be its main intent and effect. ]

This bill is controversial, I think, largely because what it says and what it hopes to achieve are different. As I understand it (many of?) the promoters of the bill want a culture where children are not physically abused, and normally not smacked. However, what they are legislating is a situation where the police will have yet another unenforcable law - any small smack on a troublesome two year old's leg will break the law.

Now, I'm glad that by the time we had children Stalky's age had past, thrashing a recalcitrant teen seems to me barbaric. I'd have loved to bring up our children without ever smacking them, I'll confess that sometimes the smack was not the cool sharp announcement that an activity like letting go of the parental hand to dash across a street was wrong, but served also to vent parental frustration... but should parents like Barbara and I be criminals? I don't think so!

[Richard, Thomas, Nathan and Sarah sometimes read this blog, if you do and disagree do say so in the comments!]

So, given this law seems to be attempting the to put a hedge around the law (as the Pharisees did), by legislating "tighter" than the behaviour which should be stopped, would I vote for it? In principle such legislation is bad. In practice this legislation will simply add to the laws ordinary people break. So instead, let's have a well funded campaign to change our behaviour!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
  ... and now for something quite different!
I've just finished reading Kipling's school stories with a twist Stalky and Co. for Librivox. Do encourage people to download and listen. And of course, if you can bear to add a mention on your blog...


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