Monthly Archives: July 2009

More Minima

Among sermon-fretting, visiting with Jennifer (passing through town), and attending to Margaret (leaving town tomorrow morning), blogging comes in last.

Two Days Till

I’m working on Sunday morning’s sermon. Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15; Psalm 78:1-25; Ephesians 4:17-25; and John 6:24-35. I’m thinking about the phrse from the psalm, “So mortals ate the bread of angels.”


With the iPhone established as the de facto standard for smartphones, isn’t it about time for Apple to consolidate its position by doing exactly the opposite of its current course? If Apple opened up the iPhone to other carriers (as soon as contracts permit) and allowed users to control the apps and media they install on the device (rather than forcing Apple’s iTunes to manipulate the contents), they could deal their rivals a significant blow and at the same time maintain much of the market that their closed-system approach has built.

Another Cursory Post

Sorry to be so unreliable these days — but in my current liminal status, it’s hard gather myself to compose full-scale, thoughtful posts. All the more so, since I owe a lectionary essay and have to compose a sermon for Sunday.
That being said, my visa materials have been delivered into the hands of J. Blyth at the British Consul General’s office in New York; we’re hoping and praying for them to process everything rapidly, so we don’t have to reschedule my plane to Scotland. My teaching schedule is gradually shaping up (I’ll be teaching “Bibs 2B” (a course on close reading of selected NT texts; my selections are Matthew and James, with the Didache and the Mishnah in the prominent background) in Greek and English, and a course on the Historical Jesus. I may be tapped for another course, too, but so far these are the only ones for which they’ve asked for course descriptions.
And Mitch Ratcliffe has reasserted his leading role in the clamor of people calling for a more open sales model for ebooks. With such noteworthy observers and consultants as Mitch and Seth on board, it’s hard to understand why someone isn’t backing a big push for open access digital publication. Think of books as being like CDs; the digital version is easy to buy (and share) digitally, but many people still pay for the physical instantiation. And books have an even better ground for sustaining their sales than do CDs, since the packaging for a CD amounts to very little other than metadata (much of it readily available online) and ornamentation. Books, on the other hand, offer archival durability, better resolution, requiring no power source, a familiar and easily-navigated user interface, platform-agnostic, and so on. Surely George Soros or Pierre Omidyar could clean a few millions from between the couch cushions to fund a publishing start-up oriented specifically to 21st-century technologies.


This morning, Margaret and I are relishing the prospect of a few days off the road. We are temporarily established in the rectory in New Haven, with an affectionate 90-pound chocolate lab and our standard-issue 10-pound bichon; we have very few specific dates-and-obligations; we will take our time, reflect, catch up on writing assignments, plan courses, and mostly just breathe and restore some of the strength that the past weeks’ frazzling has leeched out of us.
So this week is a foretaste of actually living somewhere, but this link gives a foretaste of what may lie in store for my academic labors in the U.K. I can see many, many problems with the idea that “impact” can be assigned a quantitative value and compared across disciplines, although since my own work has built-in accounts for real-world behavior and influences I may be able to make a stronger case than might a specialist in Anglo-Saxon literature. Evaluating research for its real-world effects, though, and comparing a sociologist’s studies of police behaviour (that “u” is practise for my future) (so is the “s” in “practise”) to a theologian’s exploration of Newman’s writings as an Anglican — that just doesn’t make much sense. Hey, and will there be penalties for deleterious real-world effects, as when a political scientist or economist persuades policy-makers to pursue a course that turns out to be harmful? “Chicago-school economists obliged to give back millions in research grants due to recession,” or something like that?

Tour Progress

My farewell tour of East Coast states scratched North Carolina, virginia, Maryland, and Delaware off the list yesterday. We’re hunkered down in New Jersey for a rest day, then I’ll bid it goodbye as well, along with New York.

Overworldly Delights

I became a Jack Vance fan, oh, forty years ago or so. The Eyes of the Overworld turned up in a used book store, and then I had to find The Dying Earth, and then on to libraries’ (uneven) collections. I didn’t know that he was still alive, nor anything about his life; this article in the NYTM gives a sense of what kind of man he is, and of why more people should love his writing. (I hooked the boys a while back; Pippa should be ready any time now. Her writing style already resembles his….)


Euan calls my attention to his appearance on GuruOnline — not, I think,because he aims to set me straight about why and how corporations should engage with social media, but because he wanted to help me win over reluctant bureaucrats, and because (as he points out) the Question-and-Answer interview format works particularly well with short-form video media. It’s (once again) the approach that I argue that teachers and church leaders should take — valuable as full series of course podcasts might be, the medium lends itself to shorter, more topically-concise units.

Different Tack

We were planning to leave this morning, but yesterday afternoon we decided to take things a little slower, finish up packing/sorting this morning instead of last night, have a calmer last few hours in Durham, and to leave tomorrow morning instead. Likewise, Margaret has reflected on the advice we got in yesterday’s comments and Twitter query, and we’re inclined to leave behind much of my less-expensive, older clothing and buy some new clothes once I land in Glasgow.
Ugh! I do hate moving. I will be greatly relieved when it’s all over (and the relocation costs squared away). But this is very sensible. I just wish we had had more time to go through my clothing (and books) to make carefully-reasoned selections. I know I’m taking along at least two boxes worth of books I could easily leave behind, or abandon altogether (more, I’m sure). If the search had been concluded in, say, April or early May, the whole relocation operation could have been a lot smoother (and less expensive).
Ah, well, if wishes was horses, beggars would ride — as Joe Conroy always used to say.


I’d been thinking of taking along several extra bags when I fly to Glasgow next month, reasoning that I’d soak up the charges for excess weight in order to have clothing at my disposal right away. This morning, though, we note that British Midlands seems to have a strict, light maximum weight for luggage. Now we’re trying to figure out how to get my baseline wardrobe for X weeks to Glasgow (while I wait for the main shipment of my goods to arrive).