Thursday, December 31, 2009
  Holiday Home for Sale
Part of the view from the deck

The whole family is sad, but we need to sell the bach to fund the new home outside Tauranga. Thomas and Melissa have done a superb job of renovating, so that it not only looks smart, but is also much more convenient and comfortable.

From the convenient new kitchen to the living and dining area.

With a renewed kitchen and bathroom, as well as new all wool carpet and fresh paint. We all wish we could buy it ourselves ;)

One of four Bedrooms.

So, if you know someone who would like to buy a beach home with superb views that simply cannot be built out as it is right on the waterfront and most of the nearer view is the Awhitu Regional Park. Just 1hr 15mins (or less depending on traffic and speed) from Central Auckland and less from the motorway, within an easy coastal walk from the beautiful beaches of the Awhitu regional park, just point them to us (!

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  The importance of terracing
I've taught students about the importance of terracing to cultivation, and so the possible population density of the hill country of Palestine. I think I saw a reverse illustrative example today. Above us on the hill (here at the Akha Hill House in northern Thailand) there are cultivated bushes. In the photo you can see what I saw, the bushes higher on the slope are consistently smaller and those lower down larger. I assume it is greater availability of water and nutrients lower on the slope as they (and also topsoil) are washed down in the rainy season.

If anybody with greater knowledge of horticulture or geology can comment to confirm or deny this I'd be pleased. Otherwise I'll probably use this photo next time I'm talking about terracing...

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
  Update on my SBL Hotel and
Just a quick update on my fiasco of a booking for SBL, Visa have come through and refunded the money. That recourse is one of the reasons I prefer payingb with credit card. I strongly advise no one to use, and if you are using a new (to you) booking company online to check them out on Google, if I had not been in a hurry and had done that I'd not have used them in the first place.

By contrast, we have so far had a good experience with Hotels in New Orleans (cheaper, better location and fine if a little run down), and Bangkok have worked out fine. They did not find anything cheap enough for us in Chiang Rai, 2,000 Baht was the cheapest, which by Thai standards seems quite a bit, so we are in a place we found from Lonely Planet. The Akha River House, fairly basic, but fairly comfortable, with an ensuite western-style toilet and hot Thai-style shower and a pleasant garden for 300 Baht per night. We are about to head up into the hills for their Akha Hill House for a few more days R & R :)

In Chiang Rai I can recommend the coffee in Doi Chaang, and the Saturday "Walking market" was great fun, for even more touristy stuff there is also a daily "Night Market" like Chiang Mai's but much quieter with a great food court, though with less stuff than in the bigger city.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009
  Science or commerce? Copy right or copywrong?
Duane posted an abnormally interesting certificate which came from Lawrence Lessig's keynote talk to EDUCAUSE09. The video is here (I have not seen it as we only have slow intermittent Internet here on the Thai-Burma border).

I posted a long comment on Duane's blog, but since I am unlikely to post anything else here in the next while, on holiday with intermittent Internet, I'll reproduce here in even more extended and focused form, as a post.

Copyright, which seems to mean the right to forbid others to copy, may or may not be theft. Actually, of course it is NOT theft, producers of creative works have the right to obtain a reasonable (or at least today an unreasonable, if they are sufficiently famous) income from their work.

But copyright certainly IS the antithesis of science, since any science worthy of the name is open to debate and criticism.

Education is more interesting. There are two extreme cases:
  • There is a commercial form of education that exists to ration and control the supply of licenced practitioners of various professions - that sort must love copyright.
  • Then there is education as the process of learning to share in the process of growing and nurturing knowledge - that sort detests copyright as its antihesis.
Technology is another really interesting case, which Lessig (on this slide, as I have not seen the whole, having slow intermittent Internet here on the Thai-Burma border) does not mention.

As for education, the question is: Is technology science or commerce?

Now let's consider the case of theological study or education. Is copyright right or wrong? Is theology science (in this post I have tried consistently to use "science" in it's European sense of an open and criticisable body of knowledge) or commerce?

I know where I stand :)

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Thursday, December 10, 2009
  Beyond inerrancy
My colleague Jonathan Robinson has a fun and (on my reading at least) highly Baptist proposal for a better way (than "inerrancy") of talking about Scripture. My only quibble, on a quick read, is that he also seeks to dump "perspicuity", and I'd see that as the main bulwark against all the thousands of little popes... Maybe in my jet-lagged state I misunderstood... Do read it, and when you disagree add comments: Beyond Inerrancy: Towards a Meaningful Theology of Scripture

BTW I am uploading this using the free Internet provided at Helsinki Airport.

Monday, December 07, 2009
  A picture of "the gate"
Following my wife's instructions: "Take a picture of the gate!" By which Richard and I assume she meant ther Brandenberg Gate, since we cannot find another interesting gate to photograph in all of central Berlin :( Here is the picture, notice the camoflaged tank in the foreground!

Here's one of the tank where I have adjusted the brightness and contrast to make it more visible:

And, finally, for all those fans of human translation, here's our menu for this evening:

with a close-up of the item we somehow resisted ;)

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