Monthly Archives: November 2005

Yikes!

We arrived safely, with very smooth travel connections (apart from Pippa’s smoothie, erm, disagreeing with her in a near-projectile manner; all well after it departed).

But my iBook battery isn’t charging, so I’ll only be online in dribs and drabs for the time being. I tried resetting the PMU with a restart-hold-down-the-power-button maneuver; if someone has a better idea, please leave a comment (iBook G4 2004, running 10.4.2, battery doesn’t charge although the cord checks out and it seems to be operating fine while plugged in — just not charging the battery). Everything was working fine till I installed the World of Warcraft game, Joi. . . .

Hi, My Name Is

So I finished [mostly] my paper at midday, taught the Early Church History class (Augustine on Pelagianism always gets resistance), came home, and now I have to pack and get ready to fly to Philadelphia. It’ll be busy, but at least I no longer dread my Monday-morning presentation.

And there’s now time for me to return from my blog-absence, which is somewhat incongruous since one of my conference appearances will be on a panel discussing. . . . blogging. There’ll be two papers, then a panel involving Tim, Stephen, Torrey, Edward, James, and me.

You can tell I’ve been offline a lot when it takes me more than twenty-four hours to link to Boing Boing’s coverage of the new Barenaked Ladies album-on-a-flash-drive experiment (I’d link to their version of the story, but they don’t seem to provide permalinks). Jeff Pazen emailed me, because he connected this development with my previous posts about the coming wave of ultra-miniature, cheap, capacious media players. On that count, BNL are on the right wavelength, and Cory (I think) misses the point when he asks, “how many 128MB sticks can you usefully own?” I can manage a great many more flash drives than I can, for instance, pre-recorded CDs, but I have hundreds of CDs lining my dining-room wall (CDs that I hardly ever play, now that I’m mostly oriented toward mp3 selections).

Chris Heard tagged me for one of those “reveal all sorts of trivial secrets” memes, in which I usually don’t participate — though for the sake of showing that I’m not totally a humorless old grump, I’ll answer one part of the questionnaire.

Five things I would do with a lot of money
1. Get out of debt
2. Send money to the Gulf Coast and Pakistan
3. Underwrite formal online publishing a la The Disseminary
4. Take time off to work on all the writing projects on which I’m way behind
5. Depending on how much money was left over, I’d like to buy a retreat center, equip it with a good theological library (and broadband wifi, of course), and host scholars who need a quiet place to write.

Later: Was I really so out of it that I didn’t hear that David is getting a PowerBook?

I’m a big target for cartoons lately; Jane thinks I don’t need a book entitled Aerobic Preaching (if you subscribe to preachingtoday.com, you can see it here), Laura calls my attention to this (presumably referring to my own lecturing capacity), and Bob Carlton notes this all-too-apposite church sign.

Entry In a Bottle

No, I haven’t been hospitalized, nor fired for blogging. Still working on my presentation for the Society of Biblical Literature meeting — an extension of the argument from this summer’s lectures. The first portion of the paper, which hews closer to what I’ve already done, is set. The second, which takes me into areas outside my expertise, is resisting coming together. Will be done soon.

Check Your Stocking (Forgive the Festal Incongruity)

And not just because Pippa might have hidden the rubber spider with which she torments me into your sock drawer (she did that to me a couple of weeks ago, though, so you might be careful anyway). No, check your stocking because the proprietors of Redlex Software promise their customers that Mellel II will be released tomorrow.

I used Mellel daily for a year or so, then switched to Apple’s Pages (in my ritual word-processing transition, which takes place roughly every eighteen months). I like Pages; it looks great, its capacity to read and produce MS Word documents obviates the necessity of using Mr. Bill’s word processor; it carries some very heavy-duty page-layout functions with impressive grace. At the same time, I’ve run into some aspects of Pages that just bug me, and a few weeks ago I switched back to Mellel and wondered how that spritely, multilingual word processing app could have gotten to version 1.8 without columns.

Of course, version 2 (II) promises columns, and widow-and-orphan control, and a heap of other improvements. Tomorrow will be a treat!

(I realize that the proprietors of Redlex may well not observe the stocking-filling holiday custom that many North Americans and Europeans observe. It’s a figure of speech. Mellel won’t go into a stocking, anyway; it’s available by download. The point is, we’ll be in for a pleasant surprise tomorrow.)

Thinking of Rage

I’ve been thinking about Rageboy on and off this evening, partly since it’s his birthday (and he doesn’t look a day over twenty-three; how do you do it, Chris?) and partly because I’m wrestling with a conference paper that wants to communicate a book’s worth of thinking in twenty minutes of talking. When I try to do that, I get pen-tied and blocked, and then write three-ton sentences that no listener could possibly make sense of. Chris, on the other hand, just tears this stuff off – he’s amazing. A toast to you both, Chris and Rageboy, and lend me just a little of that fluency for a week or so, OK?

Mice and Pants

Pippa works constantly to amuse and delight me. For instance, the other day she noticed this story on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and promptly illustrated it:

Mouse Serenade

A couple of days later she was watching the third Star Wars movie (Is that the episode entitled The Rebellion Destroys The Second Death Star In Almost Exactly The Same Way It Destroyed The First One?) and discovered a moment of “Pants Wars” glory —

Han: Well, why don’t you use your divine pants and get us out of this?
C3PO: Begging your pardon, General Solo, but that just wouldn’t be proper.

Winin’ Boy

Having broached the topic of wine marketing just a couple of days ago, I’m obliged to point out that Hugh and Stormhoek have offered £1000.00 to any blogger who provides them with a convincing design for their bottle and label. They want their wine to stand out among wine bottles as Apple computers do among a sea of generic PCs. I offer a muted “Bravo” — as you might expect, given what I said earlier. (By the way, they aren’t looking for a full-blown presnetation treatment; as Hugh says, “An idea that works on the back of a cocktail napkin is just fine by me.”)

It’ll be easy to tear off a flashy shape or label; as a buyer, though, I’d be attending particularly to what the design communicates about the wine. (Wine bottles, after all, have drawn near perfection in packaging: optimal packing density, strongly-defined conventions relative to shape and color, and so on). I would commend a clear glass bottle, to help set it apart from the green and brown bottles on the shelf (since part of Stormhoek’s pitch is its freshness, one need not worry as much about the effects that light might have on the wine). The shape of the bottle probably can’t depart too much from present norms without incurring too great an expense in tooling and shipping. Hmmmmm.

Just a Detail

OK, so I read the Bill Gates memo to which Doc pointed, which Dave supplied, and the things that strikes me right away is: he refers to “over 92% of Fortune 100 companies.”

Now, I’m sure that people who know more than I do about both math and business read this blog, so permit me to ask, “If it’s more than 92% of the Fortune 100, isn’t it necessarily at least 93%? Are there actually 101 companies in the Fortune 100, or is Bill counting fractional use?”

Desideratum

iTunes’s “smart playlists” make listening more enjoyable for me; I like to hear songs I have’t heard in a while, and it’s easy to make a list that sorts of selections that haven’t played in the last month. When I want to listen to familiar, favorite music, I can rig that, too.

I look forward to the next step in playlist intelligence: a playlist that distributes the frequency with which I hear selections by my rating of the song (at a crude level, I’d hear five-star songs five times more often than one-star selections) cross-factored against how recently I’ve heard the selection (or how often I’d heard it). I’d thus be most likely to hear a five-star song that I haven’t heard in a few months, for instance, and least likely to hear a no-star song that I just heard yesterday. At the same time, it wouldn’t eliminate the chance that I’d hear a less-favorite selection, or a recent-repeat. Over the long haul, I’d hear my favorites most often, but mixed in with other selections I like well enough, and with occasional less-favored cuts.

It ought to be do-able (it may even be possible now with iTunes’ capacity to nest playlists) — and it would really, really rock.

Just Checking

If I recall correctly, the Bush regime did not want to follow through with a full 9/11 investigation, and their Senate proteges have been stalling on the investigation of WMD (un)intelligence (despite the way that the Democrats have until recently been playing Milquetoast; why didn’t the GOP rush through a report before the Democrats drank their morning double espresso?). They’ve been stalling Plamegate investigations and Abu Ghraib investigations.

But once word gets out that the CIA may be maintaining secret prisons, now that needs an investigation, fast. Not the secret prisons, of course — the fact that somebody found out.

Of course they never torture anyone, so please don’t pass that bill making it explicitly illegal to torture people.