Daily Archives: 26 Apr 2015

More on the Iowa University System Popularity/ Beauty Contest Student Evaluations

“If you make your students do well in their academic career, you get worse evaluations from your students,” says Michele Pellizzari, an economics professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Students, by and large, don’t enjoy learning from a taskmaster, even if it does them some good.

There’s real insanity in Iowa.

A bill circulating in the Iowa state Senate would rate professors’ performance based on student evaluations. Just student evaluations.  Low-rated professors would be automatically fired — no tenure, no appeals.  The bill’s author, state Sen. Mark Chelgren, a Republican, argues that too many students are taking on student loan debt but not getting their money’s worth in the classroom. “Professors need to understand that their customers are those students,” Chelgren told the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Mark Chelgren is an imbecile, as are all who think that education is a business and students merely consumers.

Though the bill appears unlikely to pass, it has made national news because of the broader debate around student debt, the cost of college and what, exactly, students are getting for their money.

The real question is, what is society getting from students?  But of course our bankrupt system in our bankrupt society where all that matters is money doesn’t ask such essential questions.

The Bible and the State of Israel: A Conference at Exeter

This coming Wednesday, April 29, beginning at 7:30 p.m. All the details are here.

Obama’s Anger Translator

‘Climate Change’ – They Fiddled With the Numbers to Change the Narrative…

How’s that for ‘scientific objectivity‘?

Global warming hasn’t happened as fast as expected, according to a new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records. The research claims that natural variability in surface temperatures over the course of a decade can account for increases and dips in warming rates. But it adds that these so-called ‘climate wiggles’ could also, in the future, cause our planet to warm up much faster than anticipated.

The study compared its results to the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ‘Based on our analysis, a middle-of-the-road warming scenario is more likely, at least for now,’ said Patrick Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University. ‘But this could change.’  The Duke-led study says that variability is caused by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and other natural factors.

Maybe the real ‘climate change deniers’ are the ones who think it’s man made rather than simply the natural ebb and flow of the earth’s climate.

Sometimes the Differences that Separate Rome From Houston Are Slim

And sometimes they are indistinguishable


Bloggers and their Mugshots

Sometimes the bloggers you admire get into trouble with the law.  Sometimes they have their mugshots taken.  Here are some of those you look up to in not their finest moments.

The “Rationalists” Of Las Vegas Think Faith is Worth Mocking

So they’ve organized their own little ‘Church of Bacon‘.  And if you think about it, it makes sense.  Bacon fries, they’ll fry.  Bacon tastes like dirt, they have the wit of dirt.

Sectarian Insanity

In the immediate aftermath of the insanity of Thomas Münzer and the slaughter of his followers Luther wrote this

Lord God! You miserable sectarian spirits, where now are your words with which you provoked and agitated the poor people—when you said that they were God’s people; God would fight for them; one would slay a hundred; indeed, with a felt hat they would strike five dead; and the bullets would turn around as they were fired and hit the enemy? Where, now, is Münzer’s sleeve in which he intended to catch all the bullets shot against his people? Who, then, is this god, who cried out such promises through the mouth of Münzer for almost an entire year?

Whoever refuses to take to heart or to learn from God’s manifest judgment, which He has demonstrated with deeds of wrath in the sight of the whole world—how these sectarian spirits were opposed to God and trafficked in nothing but lies—such a person is intent on being deceived and damned with his own full knowledge and consent. What good can preaching and admonition do, when such palpable deeds and experiences are of no help?*

I ask that same question all the time.

*Preface and Afterword to The Terrifying Story of Thomas Münzer and God’s Judgment upon Him, in which God Manifestly Reproves and Condemns the Lies of That Spirit, Luther’s Works (Vol. 59, p. 125).

Very unimaginative and literal-minded church historian spoils everybody’s fun…


Auckland Theology & Religious Studies

Twitter, etc. have been buzzingfor the last few days with the figure from an illuminated manuscript, who looks like Yoda from Star Wars, to wit:

from Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma (the 'Smithfield Decretals') (c1300-1340), British Library Royal MS 10 E IV, f. 30v from Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma (the ‘Smithfield Decretals’) (c1300-1340), British Library Royal MS 10 E IV, f. 30v

In the interests of ploddingly dull accuracy, I feel obliged to point out that this figure is probably supposed to represent the devil dressed as a university lecturer (don’t say that it’s never occurred to you that your lecturers might be shape-shifting demons).

One of the less demonic academics inhabiting the pages of the Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma (the 'Smithfield Decretals') (c1300-1340), British Library Royal MS 10 E IV, f. 26v. This one is wearing the academic's One of the less demonic academics inhabiting the pages of the Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma (the ‘Smithfield Decretals’) (c1300-1340), British Library Royal MS 10 E IV, f. 26v. This one is wearing the academic’s “pileum” or cap – an ancestor of the modern academic mortar-board.

Specifically, he probably represents a doctor…

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Nepal: Prayers

The death toll in Nepal has now passed 2100.


“I’ve made myself unemployable, now pay me benefits”

You reap what you sow. Even if you feel yourself entitled to special treatment.

Injustice isn’t Corrected by Violence and More Injustice, Baltimore

I’ve never understood (and I’m glad I don’t have a mindset capable of understanding, or worse, justifying) the violence and looting which normally erupt when an injustice perpetrated by the police comes to the light of day.  Freddie Gray died because of police violence and injustice- so naturally some Baltimorians have responded by- you guessed it – violence and injustice.  Which is rather like curing a person who has cancer by injecting them with HIV.

Protests turned violent in Baltimore Saturday as some stores were looted, cars damaged and police in riot gear tried to break up the more violent groups of demonstrators.

The protest began Saturday afternoon when several hundred demonstrators marched through the streets of West Baltimore. The crowd initially gathered at Presbury and N. Mount streets — the site of 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s arrest.

One tragedy isn’t made right by more violence.  Why is this so hard for people to comprehend?

Why Do People Who Misrepresent Christianity Have So Many Fans?

The answer is as simple as it is sad: people love novelty more than they love truth.