Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ethics of Book Buying

On buying used (or new?) books: Scott McKnight has his thoughts. This is depressing though:
Third, here’s the truth: very few writers (and I’m not one of them) can make a living by writing. Very very few can.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


RICARDO'S DIFFICULT IDEA. Paul Krugman explains the principle of comparative advantage or why it is not so easy to explain.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Photo for my profile

The Odds of Plagiarism

Google Book Search is a plagiarist's nightmare. - By Paul Collins - Slate Magazine:
But wait, you might ask, don't people accidentally repeat each other's sentences all the time? It seems to me that this should not be unusual. Yet try plugging that last sentence word by word into Google Book Search, and watch what happens.

It: Rejected—too many hits to count
It seems: 11,160,000 matches
It seems to: 3,050,000
It seems to me: 1,580,000
It seems to me that: 844,000
It seems to me that this: 29,700
It seems to me that this should: 237
It seems to me that this should not: 20
It seems to me that this should not be: 9
It seems to me that this should not be unusual: 0

It seems to me that this should not be unusual is itself ... unusual.
(via Classics-L)

Peter Junger, RIP

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Nov. 24, 2006):
Peter Junger, president and religious chairman of the Cleveland Buddhist Temple and professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law, died at his Cleveland home last week.

Junger, 73, was a computer law expert who sued the U.S. government in 1996, claiming his free-speech rights were denied because a federal law forbid him from teaching a computer encryption program to students from Canada or publishing it in a textbook.

. . .

Just before he died, Junger completed an article on the patentability of computer software, Leatherberry said. Colleagues hope to get it published for Junger posthumously.
Peter was also a denizen of Cyberia-l, where I learned of his passing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Snopes: Does turkey make you especially sleepy?

Urban Legends Reference Pages: The Big Sleep:
Claim: Eating turkey makes people especially drowsy.

Status: False.

From Geek Press:
The most likely excuse for drowsiness? Oh, I don't know. It's a mystery. Could have something to do with the 6 pounds of protein and carbs sitting in your belly, and the fact that your body has to rush all available blood to the region to deal with the holiday wad. Add some wine to the mix, and it's a miracle you're not face down in the yams before the pie comes.
As for me, I'm almost face down on the keyboard.

OUPblog: A Traditional American Thanksgiving

OUPblog: A Traditional American Thanksgiving

Top 25 Contemporary Worship Songs

Christian Copyright Licensing International has a list of the Top 25 Songs by region.

In the US, the current top five are:
1 "Here I Am To Worship" Hughes, Tim
2 "How Great Is Our God" Tomlin, Chris \ Reeves, Jesse \ Cash, Ed
3 "Blessed Be Your Name" Redman, Beth \ Redman, Matt
4 "Open The Eyes Of My Heart" Baloche, Paul
5 "Come Now Is The Time To Worship" Doerksen, Brian

In the UK it is:
1 "Shout To The Lord" Zschech, Darlene
2 "Be Still" Evans, David J.
3 "In Christ Alone" Townend, Stuart \ Getty, Keith
4 "Come Now Is The Time To Worship" Doerksen, Brian
5 "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" Founds, Rick

1 "Here I Am To Worship" Hughes, Tim
2 "Shout To The Lord" Zschech, Darlene
3 "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" Founds, Rick
4 "How Deep The Father's Love For Us" Townend, Stuart
5 "In Christ Alone" Townend, Stuart \ Getty, Keith

They also track Canada, South Africa, and Sweden (!).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

2 + 2 = 22

headsup: the blog: Son of 'do the math':
Leading, of course, to today's lesson:

During World War II, he served in the Army in Okinawa, Japan, from April 1943 until 1945, said his sister, Willamina Laughner.

Neat trick for a lad from Pennsylvania. The rest of the Army didn't get to Okinawa until April 1945.

What this looks like (this is a hypothesis; I wasn't there) is the sort of error known as a 2+2=22. Reporter asks when decedent served. Sister says 'April 1943 to 1945.' Reporter asks where. Sister says 'Okinawa.' Reporter puts two and two together and gets 22.

Pair Use The Force For Jedi Religion - Yahoo! News UK

Pair Use The Force For Jedi Religion - Yahoo! News UK:
Two self-styled Jedi Knights are stepping up an intergalactic campaign for formal recognition. Umada and Yunyun, also known as John Wilkinson and Charlotte Law, want the UN to acknowledge 'The Force' is worthy of being called a religion. The couple claim to be part of the UK's fourth largest religious group, after 400,000 people recorded their faith as 'Jedi' in the 2001 Census.

Hat tip: PhDiva

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Translating temperatures in your head : Lingamish

Lingamish has a nice way for Translating temperatures in your head:
However, thanks to yours truly, you can now convert Celsius temperatures to Fahrenheit with this simple method:

1. Double the Celsius temperature.
2. Subtract 10%.
3. Add 32.

I'll try to remember that.

Sherbet or Sherbert?

Nancy Hall, Assimilatory /r/ insertion, at phonoloblog has the story.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Is a burrito a sandwich? Judge says no - Yahoo! News

This from Yahoo! News:
The Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain says yes. But a judge said no, ruling against Panera in its bid to prevent a Mexican restaurant from moving into the same shopping mall.

Whenever you read about a judge defining words, you have to ask "for purposes of what?" And here's the answer:
Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.

There it is: for purposes of the exclusivity clause in Panera's lease agreement. These anti-competitive clause tend to get construed narrowly so it is little surprise that a burrito would be consider an exception to the sandwich clause.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues - New York Times

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues - New York Times:
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.
Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Schenck Thoughts: How much does Acts shuffle events?

Schenck Thoughts: How much does Acts shuffle events? Mostly examines theological issues (e.g. inspiration).

A Mention of Jeffery's Book

Dyneslines, , has a mention of Peter Jeffery's books on Secret Mark: Imitatio Christi, or Getting naked for Jesus' sake!:
The whole matter has been reopened in a book that has just appeared: Peter Jeffery, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (Yale University Press). This book discusses many interesting aspects of the cultural construction of homosexuality, both ancient and modern. Jeffery strongly inclines to the view that the text was a hoax perpetrated by Morton Smith. But he cannot prove this. The likelihood, then, is that, like certain disputed art objects, the text will continue to have its defenders. It also seems to have enjoyed some circulation in counterculture circles.

Since the book is just about to be published, I'm not sure how well he knows it, apart from press releases and publisher's blurbs. In any case, the analogy to disputed art objects is intriguing.

The JESUS Film

The JESUS Film dubbed into more languages than you can shake at stick at. I checked out the English, French, Italian, Greek, and Estonian versions, and listening along is a real test of one's listening competence. As far as I can tell, the accents of all but the English sounded authentic or at least what I expected.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wallace v. IBM (Antitrust Implications of the GPL.

The antitrust implications of the GNU Public License are explored in a 7th circuit opinion by Judge Easterbrook, excerpted at The Patry Copyright Blog: Gnu Gnu.

Recycled Knowledge: Typographical variety

Recycled Knowledge: Typographical variety -- includes an enumeration of different quotations marks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In the Voting Booth, Bias Starts at the Top - New York Times

The New York Times has an interesting article toay, In the Voting Booth, Bias Starts at the Top:
Candidates listed first on the ballot get about two percentage points more votes on average than they would have if they had been listed later (flipping a 49 to 51 defeat into a 51 to 49 victory). In fact, in about half the races I have studied, the advantage of first place is even bigger — certainly big enough to win some elections these days.

I wonder to what extent the pundits and prognosticators have factoring in the ballot order into their predictions? If the races are as close as they say they are, then it could make a significant difference.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

YouTube - Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

Pretty neat: YouTube - Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.

Believe it or not, I had not heard about this concept until today, and it has already spawned a must-see parody, Ben takes a photo of himself.

ALSO, this guy here has been doing it for longer, he's better at striking a consistent pose, and his facial/hair styles have more variety.

Recreation of a Medieval Market

See the slideshow.

Zotero - The Next-Generation Research Tool

Zotero - The Next-Generation Research Tool

Is this any good?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Volokh Conspiracy - How Embarrassing:

The Volokh Conspiracy - How Embarrassing: This is actually a claim from a patent application:
9. The method of providing user interface displays in an image forming apparatus which is really a bogus claim included amongst real claims, and which should be removed before filing; wherein the claim is included to determine if the inventor actually read the claims and the inventor should instruct the attorneys to remove the claim.

I think someone is going to get fired -- and it is not the inventor.