Monthly Archives: August 2007

How Did That Happen?

I seem to have changed some setting on my MacBook such that when I try to add anything to the Applications folder at the all-user level, I have to authenticate my account (even though the user account has admin privileges). This could have resulted from one of the system updates over the past few weeks, I’m not sure; does anyone else have an idea of what happened?

[Later: I had checked permissions on the Applications folder before, but I think I had checked only the Applications folder in my user directory, not the Applications folder at the system level. When I went back to check it, to avoid being made to feel stupid when someone suggested that, it was locked — so I unlocked it, which I think may solve the problem.]

[Even later: And the winner is — Kevin! He writes,


I had this problem after the 10.4.10 update.

I fixed it by booting off the install DVD and running repair permissions on the boot volume.


Will do, Kevin; thanks for the tip and especially for the etiology.

Not “Ago” If You Live There

It’s been two years since Shelley started tugging at our lapels, urging us to tune in to the fact that the storm headed for New Orleans was big, potentially catastrophic, and I worried and prayed about my former students in New Orleans and environs. At the time, it didn’t fully occur to me how close Long Beach was to New Orleans (sounds like it’s way off in Florida or California, right?).

Yesterday, it all hit David Knight, hard. He’s a tough guy — he had weathered a lot before he came to seminary, and heaven knows he’s been through a lot since — but Katrina didn’t stop affecting people when the eye of the hurricane broke up. It’s not “two years ago” if you’re still living in the middle of it.

Mmmm, Tasty!

Provoked by my recent acquisition of Magritte: The True Art of Painting, I wandered over to Firestone Library yesterday, picked up my library card, and walked out with two helpful volumes of Magritte-pertinent material, including a bound facsimile of the issue of La Révolution Surréaliste in which his essay “Les Mots et Les Images” appeared. On my way, I spotted a license plate that made me think of my hoopoe-loving friend, Richard Kieckhefer:

NJ Latin Hoopoe

(The Latin name for the common hoopoe is Upupa epops.)

I scanned the illustration from “Mots et Images” and will be substituting them for the scans I had uploaded in the series of posts I wrote on the essay at Beautiful Theology.

Words and Images

The scans were much cleaner and clearer, and the sense of possibility — “You can do that, just walk in and learn!” — wonderfully encouraging.

Plus, Si arrived, I ran into Francis Watson (we’re having coffee this morning), Pippa made a spectacular Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce for dinner, and we had a pleasant walk through town. Mmmmmmm.


After reading several columns worth of advice about making presentations (and recalling what I learned from Edward Tufte and Doc Searls), I spent a while yesterday afternoon pining for a reason to make one myself. I don’t think my editors will accept a slide presentation for a book review or a textbook chapter, though, so that will have to wait.

In ruminating about the topic, though, it occurred to me that for all the noisy denunciations of “lecturing” and the inefficiency of that pedagogical mode, my students seem to have learned a fair amount (more than I wish they had!) from television — another one-way, monological mode of communication. Are we studying the malign outcomes of “lecturing” in general, or about lecturing that doesn’t attain the level of effectiveness that characterizes My Little Pony or American Idol?


Not the Pacific island language, but what’s happening to my browser and newsreader. For instance, I’ve had this link to a discussion about the future of textbooks in my reader, planning to enter the discussion. I don’t have anything particular to add to it, though; I think Stephen Downes is on the right track, and I’m increasingly skeptical about the pedagogical value of things that channel learning into orderly packages. I need to check out these two OS applications for encouraging and sharing development of learning resources.

When I finish the book review on which I’m working, I have to write a chapter about “technology and religion,” to which the WSJ’s article about the Second-Life [alleged] bigamist pertains. Likewise the more serious essay by Ray Tallis that argues in favor of understanding technology as part of a continuous process of altering our selves and our environments, with a long history (that has seen humanity modulate away from grim scarcity and brutal aggression) and a future that we should confront critically and temperately, but not fearfully and reactively.

In the church world, a letter from the Archbishop of Nigeria has been found to have been edited on the computer of one of his U.S. subordinates, with predictably shabby polemics to and fro about what that proves or doesn’t prove. Comparatively little of the rhetoric seems to focus on the actual text of the letter and the changes thereunto. I have in the past been impressed by the pitch of Archbishop Akinola’s oratory, and I don’t doubt his capacity to speak for himself; and I don’t think it’s entirely reasonable to suppose (absent evidence) that every change introduced into the communique under Bp. Minns’s must have come directly from Archbishop Akinola. That doesn’t mean conspiracy or racism or plagiarism or ventriloquism, nor would I rule out the possibility that Archbishop Akinola borrowed Bp. Minns’s laptop and edited the whole letter in solitude. The evidence supports the appearance that Bp. Minns was involved in the editing, is all. And so until someone advances evidence that one change or another, or none or all, come from some particular author/editor, I’d construe the specific changes as evidence of a shared outlook of the two clergy leaders, whom we’ve long had reason to perceive as like-minded colleagues. No shocker there, no conspiracy there, no speculative explanations about what must have happened or what it finally shows.

Thomas’s heart has been broken, from the shards and shreds of which he’s made a Broken Heart Manifesto, and invited others to join and comment.

I think there are other topics I meant to include, but if so, they’ve already slipped off the back of the shelf.

Hackers > Lock-ers

Cory Doctorow repeatedly asserts as a matter of fact that it’s easier to break digital control mechanisms than it is to devise them — so that the value of a company’s investment in researching and implementing a digital control regime falls to zero as soon as an inquisitive hacker (or community thereof) puts some brain-hours into cracking the controls. I don’t know enough about the topic to assert that he’s right, but I know enough (from a murky past in programming and a clearer present involvement in tech conversations) to say that the claim sounds valid to me.

Case in point: yesterday, two distinct groups announced that they’d cracked the iPhone’s lock-in to the AT&T cell network. OK, I’ll grant that Apple presumably gained a significant commercial advantage by being able to tell AT&T that the iPhones would run only on their network; still the amount of intellectual labor that went into first constructing, then cracking the lock seems lamentable.

Had To Happen

As we were packing up our belongings and stuffing them into the basement, we tried to make sure that everything was either on a shelf or resting on a plastic container. We had had floods before, and we didn’t want to lose all our packed goods in another. Toward the end, I got a little careless; after all, we hadn’t had any troubles for years, and the sump pump was working fine.

Pride goeth. . . .

Evidently, last night Evanston experienced a downpour that soaked the soil and knocked out the electricity. In other words, the sump pump is off and there’s (according to Si, our delegate on the scene) a couple of inches of water in the basement.

Oh, well. We’ll see what happens when the power comes back on. In the meantime, we’re mostly glad that we pulled the futon out of the basement before we left.

Generic Spam

I haven’t done much work with mailmerged documents recently, but I think I recall that back in olden times curly-brackets were used to indicate the variable that would be replaced with database information in the merged document. That’s the only sense I can make of this email message, anyway:

I am sera muse am interested in renting your room, i am female 24 years old from united arab emirate dubai, i am coming to study my masters in { MainCampus in area university } So i need an apartment to stay so i will like you to tell me more about the room and you can try as much to send me the pictures of the room,i do not smoke,no pets and i am not dirty and friendly as well.Do get back to me with the price of the room per month and the term of lease,hope to read from you soon warmest regards

Sera, if you really meant to send this to me, let me explain that Area University is a highly selective institution to which not every student is admitted — you’d better work on your punctuation skills before applying. And rents near Main Campus are pretty steep. That being said, we may have a room to rent you next year, if you really think you can walk to Main Campus of Area University from where we live.

(And now I’m thinking of a line of hoodies and t-shirts that say “Area University” in blocky letters, to go with the Onion’s line of Area Man merchandise.)

Brilliant Utility

The possible uses for PagePacker would keep me busy for ages. I’ve already set up a day-planner example (with larger type and lines, to accommodate my advanced age) and a booklet of prayers that I want to keep conveniently at hand. I can imagine using it for class hand-outs. And so on.

I wish I felt venturesome enough to try working directly from Multivalent with the directions that Mac OS X Hints gives, but PagePacker looks quite sufficient for me.

Preacher Relocation Program

The Happy Tutor has mistakenly associated me with the Bush regime’s secret plan to suborn preachers. (Thank you for giving me a reason to use the verb “suborn” — I’m hoping to work in “traduce” later for a double play.) Fortunately for me, I escaped Evanston before the armed escort arrived to “protect” me on my way to the Clergy Response Team training session.

Instead, I’m undercover in Princeton, posing as a scholar. Believe me, the DHS would never think to associate preachers with scholars, so I feel pretty safe.

Birds of America

The Center affords (and see Jeff also, something was in the air last week) many glorious benefits to its members; after the obvious, I would number several subtler atmospheric advantages such as the Center’s practice of hanging numerous aquatints from Audubon’s Birds of America throughout the building. Between the stairway and my study hangs the Little Screech-Owl (a comforting sight for the member of a family for whom the owl is a totemic bird) and the Red Phalarope; these friendly neighbors attenuate the anxiety that might ensue from the image hanging in my study —the Passenger Pigeon.