Daily Archives: 2 Oct 2012

Reminder: The Duke Conference on Doug Campbell’s ‘The Deliverance of God’

Details Here.

This conference will engage Douglas Campbell’s book, “The Deliverance of God” (Eerdmans, 2009). It will summarize and critically discuss his proposals concerning the modern interpretation of Paul’s justification language, argumentation, and resulting version of the gospel. It will cover broader church historical and theological issues, key questions of close exegesis, and the politics of interpretation, especially in the modern American context.

Again, hope to see you there.

More Jewish Anti-Christian Defacing of a Church in Jerusalem

This is so disgustingly reprehensible. It’s vile and sickening and those responsible should be arrested immediately. And receive more than a mere slap on the wrist and wink and a nod.

Vandals scribbled anti-Christian graffiti on the outer walls of one of Jerusalem’s best-known churches early Tuesday morning, Israeli police said. Extremist Jewish West Bank settlers are suspected.  Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the perpetrators defaced a wall leading to the Church of the Dormition. The century-old structure is built on the site where tradition says the Virgin Mary died.

The graffiti, which read “Jesus, son of a whore, price tag,” had already been removed by midmorning, said Rosenfeld.  He says police are still searching for the assailants, though suspicion has fallen on a fringe group of pro-settler Jewish extremists who have carried out similar vandalism on churches, mosques and Israeli army property. They say the acts are in response to what they consider pro-Palestinian policies by the Israeli government, a form of retribution they call a “price tag.”

Tuesday’s graffiti is the latest in a wave of vandalism on Christian holy sites in Israel. Israel has about 155,000 Christian citizens, less than 2 percent of its 7.9 million people, but the repeated defacing of their sacred sites has shocked the country and drawn official condemnation.  “Price tag actions go against the morals and values of Judaism and do great harm to the state of Israel,” said President Shimon Peres, speaking at a meeting with one of Israel’s chief rabbis during a celebration of the Jewish festival of Sukkoth. “It is forbidden to harm the holy sites of religions and faiths,” Peres said.  The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land condemned the vandalism and called on Israel to act to stop it.

The government hasn’t stopped it yet.  And it has been going on for a long time.  If Christians were smearing synagogues with vile anti-semitic slogans the entire world would rightly and justifiably be up in arms.  When the shoe is on the other foot, the silence from the government of the United States and those of Europe is deafening.  That’s the very definition of bias.

Well Good For You Miss Jennifer Livingston!

Republican Hypocrisy

A report on this evening’s ‘All Things Considered‘ delivers the facts-

Republicans around the country have been vocal in recent years about the need to crack down on voter fraud. And that’s caused party officials to scramble to explain how a GOP firm could have been accused of submitting fake voter registrations in a number of Florida counties.

Give it a listen.  It seems that Republicans are happy to talk about voter fraud as long as they can perpetrate it behind the scenes.  It’s all just more evidence that the entire system is corrupt- a thoroughly rotten apple from the core to the skin.

Um….

An Oregon farmer who went to bring his hogs breakfast instead, apparently, became the meal himself. Terry Vance Garner, 69, never returned from feeding his hogs last Wednesday, prompting a family member to check on him about 2:30 p.m. and call authorities. What they found was more on par with a Hannibal Lecter novel than a rural farm near the Oregon coast. “They first found his dentures and his hat, a package of cigarettes, his pocket knife. Then they started seeing pieces of his body,” said Paul Frasier, Coos County district attorney. Several of the hogs weighed 700 pounds or more, Frasier said. Authorities do not suspect foul play, however Frasier and the Coos County Sheriff’s Office are investigating Garner’s death.

Yet another reason to avoid bacon… That might be farmer in the hog’s gut.  Right ghastly.

And Now For Something Completely Different: Ugaritic

Via Bryan Bibb on the FB. (One of the courses I teach is Ugaritic so naturally all such things are of interest).

Heinrich Bullinger had No Use for Michael Servetus

On the 2nd of October, 1553 he made his feelings quite clear about the Spaniard, sending a letter to the Council of Geneva that they had been well advised to dispose of the wretched heretic.  Bullinger expressed his sentiments on a number of occasions, writing once

See to it, dear Calvin, that you give a good account of Servetus and his end, so that all may have the beast in horror—ut omnes abhorreant a bestia!

Similarly

‘Were Satan to come back from hell and take to preaching for pastime, he would make use of much the same language as Servetus the Spaniard.’

Bullinger unplugged.  The usually congenial and friendly man had his limits.  Vile heresy was one of them.

Academic Publishing Will Ensure Your Work’s Obscurity: How JSTOR Enriches JSTOR and How the Academy is Foolishly Complicit

This is a fascinating essay in Al Jazeera which every academic ought to read- it is the most forthright and honest assessment of the situation I have yet read.  Below are snippets interspersed with commentary- but do read the whole for yourself.

The thesis: Academic publishing is structured on exclusivity, and to read them people must shell out an average of $19 per article.

The meat: On July 19, 2011, Aaron Swartz, a computer programmer and activist, was arrested for downloading 4.8 million academic articles. The articles constituted nearly the entire catalogue of JSTOR, a scholarly research database. Universities that want to use JSTOR are charged as much as $50,000 in annual subscription fees. Individuals who want to use JSTOR must shell out an average of $19 per article. The academics who write the articles are not paid for their work, nor are the academics who review it. The only people who profit are the 211 employees of JSTOR. Swartz thought this was wrong. The paywall, he argued, constituted “private theft of public culture”. It hurt not only the greater public, but also academics who must “pay money to read the work of their colleagues”. For attempting to make scholarship accessible to people who cannot afford it, Swartz is facing a $1 million fine and up to 35 years in prison. The severity of the charges shocked activists fighting for open access publication. But it shocked academics too, for different reasons. “Can you imagine if JSTOR was public?” one of my friends in academia wondered. “That means someone might actually read my article.”

The problem: Academic publishing is structured on exclusivity. Originally, this exclusivity had to do with competition within journals. Acceptance rates at top journals are low, in some disciplines under 5 per cent, and publishing in prestigious venues was once an indication of one’s value as a scholar. Today, it all but ensures that your writing will go unread. “The more difficult it is to get an article into a journal, the higher the perceived value of having done so,” notes Katheen Fitzpatrick, the Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association. “But this sense of prestige too easily shades over into a sense that the more exclusively a publication is distributed, the higher its value.”

All of which is of course PURE RUBBISH! The Harvard Theological Review probably rejects loads of good stuff and instead favors the nonsense of unprovenanced useless fragments of forged ‘ancient’ documents because the author is on staff. Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Academic publishing has perished. It’s no longer about academics, it’s about profits. When schools and publishers ‘hook up’ with JSTOR they hook up with the devil- of greed.

Don’t believe me?  Then you just don’t know what’s going on, do you.

The Facts:  When do scholars become part of “the public”? One answer may be when they cannot afford to access their own work. If I wanted to download my articles, I would have to pay $183. That is the total cost of the six academic articles I published between 2006 and 2012, the most expensive of which goes for 32£, or $51, and the cheapest of which is sold for $12, albeit with a mere 24 hours of access. 

THAT’S both absurd and evil.

The Real Reason:   Since I receive no money from the sale of my work, I have no idea whether anyone purchased it. I suspect not, as the reason for the high price has nothing to do with making money. JSTOR, for example, makes only 0.35 per cent of its profits from individual article sales. The high price is designed to maintain the barrier between academia and the outside world. Paywalls codify and commodify tacit elitism.  In academia, publishing is a strategic enterprise. It is less about the production of knowledge than where that knowledge will be held (or withheld) and what effect that has on the author’s career. New professors are awarded tenure based on their publication output, but not on the impact of their research on the world – perhaps because, due to paywalls, it is usually minimal.   “Publish or perish” has long been an academic maxim. In the digital economy, “publish and perish” may be a more apt summation [my emphasis]. What academics gain in professional security, they lose in public relevance, a sad fate for those who want their research appreciated and understood.

Friends here’s the conclusion of the matter: if you want people to read your work, publish it in venues where it can be accessed.  If you want to imagine yourself super-important and extra special and ‘oh so learned’ go ahead and publish with academic publications.  No one will read you, but you can feel puffed up that your irrelevant ‘scholarship’ has appeared in the Journal of Ripoff High prices ensconced behind the paywall of JSTOR Thievery.

Road Kill at the Chinese Restaurant: A Cautionary Tale

A Chinese restaurant is in trouble after the owner admitted to bringing road kill into the kitchen.  Williamsburg residents say Red Flower Chinese Restaurant is popular. It’s located in a busy shopping mall, so the business sees a lot of traffic from people shopping and working nearby.  “Disgusted, very disgusted,” Beth Adkins said about the restaurant. She says she has eaten there.  “I could not believe it. I could not,” said Jack Hardigree, another customer.  The Whitley County Health Department shut the place down after the owner admitted to bring in a deer found dead on the highway.

And that, my friends, is that…  Farewell Chinese food.  You and I are done.

More Professorial Misconduct: The Naked Raging Angry Atheist Math Teacher

A math professor at Michigan State University allegedly stripped naked, ran naked through his classroom and screamed “There is no …… God!” before police apprehended him, according to several reports. The professor’s name has not yet been released, but online, students said he was “eccentric,” and that they “could probably have seen this coming.”

They should release his name so he can be avoided in case he goes on a rampage against the God he says doesn’t exist again (which is kind of like complaining about the Unicorn that stole your chicken salad sandwich). They have released a cell phone photo…

Angry atheists take note: this is your future when you too snap.  (And for the love of pete, start eating some salads).