Not Closing

I spent a long time in a conference call with home base in Evanston yesterday afternoon, and among the aspects of that call that struck me, the most forceful was the very firm insistence that Seabury is not closing. I’m passing that along to you, because you may otherwise be tempted to reach an incorrect conclusion when I indicate that Seabury will not admit a new class of incoming students this year; Seabury will try to arrange that current students can complete their degrees at other institutions; Seabury will no longer offer a 3-year residential M.Div. (they might try to offer a different kind of M.Div, program — that’s up in the air); and, unstated but clearly implicit in current goings-on, some people will have to lose jobs. I would guess off-hand that “some” will end up pretty close to “many.” (Since I didn’t receive the faxed official Executive Board motion, and don’t have the approved talking points in hand, I may be slightly in error on one of these elements of the picture; if so, I’ll correct myself as soon as the error comes to my attention.)
You may imagine that I have a lot to say, and a lot of strong feelings, about this turn of events. In the interest of not complicating the Dean’s and Transition Committee’s work, though, I’ll withhold further comment. On the other hand, if I seem dazed, somewhat anxious, maybe a little grouchy, incongruously teary, or (as right now) persistently headache-y, I apologetically beg your indulgence.

So You See. . . .

Seabury is experiencing some serious difficulties (“Aren’t you on sabbatical?” Yes, so I suppose you can infer that when I say “serious,” I am not using the term casually) which erode my concentration and distract me from the work I’m supposed to be doing. I’ll probably be free to say more about this in a while, but for now I’ll just point to several interesting online links. Light a candle for Seabury, though, if you will.
Elia Powers on changes in the textbook marketplace
Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker, a review article on constitutive irrationality; I’m especially interested by this, since I’m near a point in my work on Matthew’s Gospel where I need to be able to defend the proposition that Matthew may be inconsistent without my conveying disrespect or scholarly laziness. I resist, though, the premise that ascribing any degree of inconsistency to an author amounts to derogation. I would be more inclined to respect an interesting, slightly inconsistent author, than an author whose systemic consistency amounts almost to paranoia.
Andy Guess on Open Source libraryware — this’ll be big. When I was on library committees, I always wondered about the role of gargantuan proprietary software firms. Thanks to those decision-makers who’ve been able to see the value of developing an alternative.
Draft Lessig08!
Barbara Fister on Facebook, social software, privacy, and anarchism.

Boggling and Learning

I’m a bit dazed today, after some fast-paced unanticipated drama yesterday. I was able, thank heaven, to put together a sermon for this evening, but I’ve been stymied at finding raw material for fascinating distractions. Luckily, Boing Boing posted a link to Prof. Patrick Winston’s MIT presentation on “How to Lecture” (thank you, Cory!)— that should keep me occupied for a while, and might even provoke some thoughts on hermeneutics.

Partial Attention

Working on other things, but duly noted:
John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas comment on positive aspects of gamer culture relative to business culture in the Harvard Business review.
I don’t have much to say about the Harvard Arts & Sciences faculty’s unanimous decision to build an opt-out repository for research essays. It’s certainly a good sign, but I’m not sure how much direct effect it will have; give it a few months, maybe a few years, and let’s see what happens. I’m still an advocate of true Open Access journals, monographs, and so on — but anything that impresses Dorothea (and again!), Tom, Peter, and David makes me very optimistic indeed.

Those Were The Days

It was great to talk with Rob yesterday; our crowd spent a lot of time together in high school, and the only one I’ve seen since then, I think, is David Barbrow.

AKMA & Rob

Rob and I used to play tennis a lot, over and above the larger-group activities we took part in. I was nostalgizing about those days a few weeks ago, and on the basis of fond memories (and on the basis of Pippa’s own proclivities) ordered for Pip a vintage box of the Password game; we used to spend hours and hours playing Password in Evan Wolfson’s basement (Evan had hair, back then), as I recall. Hey, Rob! Maybe next time you come to Princeton for lunch, Pippa and Margaret can challenge us at Password! (I haven’t taught her Diplomacy or Risk; Nate and Si showed more interest in those.)
Oh, and Adam Walker Cleaveland kindly invited me to participate in his guest blogger series about the Kingdom of God; he posted my musings yesterday.

Second Helping of (Greek) Ecstasy

I keep forgetting the address of the Greek Font Society, which would be a less significant problem if they hadn’t changed their URI. I need to remember where to find them, though, because where else can you find a sumptuous array of professional-grade polytonic Greek Unicode OpenType typefaces for no charge?
I was taught on the standard Porson faces, but was mystified and charmed by Neohellenic when I first saw it (in Blass-Debrunner-Funk, I think). Here, though, you can pick up a digital interpretation of the type used for the Complutensian Polyglot, on which Neohellenic draws heavily. Just remember that the 16th-century mu without a descender looks sort of like an upsilon, and the nu with a descender looks like a mirror-image mu. The lower-case eta follows the shape of the modern upper-case — but you already figured that out.
Now, time to get some work done before I meet Rob Croop for lunch.


I was looking forward to the “Stacks” feature of Leopard; I miss the option of dragging windows to the edge of the screen to turn them into tabs, and I thought Stacks (ill-fatedly née “Piles”) might provide some of the interface sensibility the OS X Finder lacks. Alas, it seems as though Stacks only work when the Dock is at the bottom of the screen, and since I position my Dock on the right (I usually need vertical screen space more than horizontal), I’m out of luck.


This morning, as we were getting ready to go in to town, I quoted for Margaret the Valentine’s Day couplet that stands out in my memory: “If you’ll be my Valentine / I will be forever thine.” Margaret said, “OK, but I hope we don’t have to keep talking that way,” to which I responded, “Isn’t it just a lovely day?”
That, in turn reminded Margaret of one of the boys’ favorite Sesame Street sketches (It reminded me of The Princess Bride, but Margaret had the floor). “Remember when Nate used to say, “Fer the rhymin’ game, Bert!” At that point, we would have to play the part of Bert as Nate rapped through the scene. “I wonder,” I said, “if it’s on YouTube.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, Nate! And Si, and Pippa, and Jennifer; and always, forever, rhymingly, Margaret my dearest!


I think Blue Bumpy (our ’96 Subaru Legacy, named after White Bumpy, our Grand Caravan, which in turn was named after Bumpy the Car, our Toyota Tercel which was named after Bumpy the Car, a favorite book of our young’uns) — anyway, Blue Bumpy has been to John LaRue’s repair shop four times in the past ten days. LaRue’s performed comprehensive repairs on several vital systems while we rented a car two weeks ago, but three after days we got Blue Bumpy back, it started overheating like crazy. Took it back to LaRue’s, they refilled the radiator, fiddled with a few things, got it back, and three days later. . again. So I took it back yesterday, and they hazarded a guess that there might be a thermostat problem, bring it in this morning and they’ll replace the thermostat. I just got back, and they didn’t charge me — since they aren’t sure the thermostat was the problem. John has been putting in considerable time and attention to squaring away the cooling system problems, at no charge — and although I don’t imagine that readers will flock to Princeton to have him work on their autos, I wanted to salute him in public.

Pens, Hands, and Email

I innocently asked Emory for his perspective on increasing my organization and productivity, and he sent me to his White Paper on Productivity (I think I have some white paper that says something about productivity; it’s probably over there, under the goldenrod paper, by the empty coffee cup). While I was supposed to be learning how to be more productive, I fell under the spell of web pen porn. How can anyone concentrate on work, when you can spend all day ogling fountain pens?
Si’s tendinitis is acting up, which reminded me that I was diagnosed with hypermobility and de Quervain’s almost four years ago. When I read some of what I blogged before treatment, I realize that immobilizing my thumb and taking particular care of how I use it really have affected my condition. The thumb hardly ever hurts, and when some circumstantial effect triggers a flash of sensation, it’s more surprising than painful. So that’s a good thing.
Finally, in the transition to Leopard and my hand-wrought file transfer process, my mailboxes got a little jumbled. That’s not a big deal to the extent that I can dig stuff up through the “search” function of, but it means that my Inbox has just been emptied willy-nilly, meaning that I have unintentionally declared email bankruptcy. Let’s see how long I can go before I fall back into debt.