Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Idol Top 10 Report Card

Gwen Stefani was the musical guest this week and the idolists had to pick her songs from her band, No Doubt, or from those who inspired her.

For the gospel singers, this meant Donna Summer, with Melinda Doolittle pulling it off, but LaKisha Jones not so much.

For two of the guys (Chris Sligh and Phil Stacey), this meant The Police, which reminds me how great of a singer Sting has been. Actually, Phil did pretty well and picked up some fans, as did Gina Glocksen.

Only three attempted No Doubt songs, resulting in the good (Chris Richardson), the bad (Jordin Sparks), and the ugly (Sanjaya Malakhar). Only Chris picked up fans with his effort, I think. Jordin is facing the difficulty of changing directions with her niche, and she may have alienated what fans she had.

The beatboxer Blake Lewis picked "Love Song" from The Cure, which was OK but he should have done some fan service (i.e. beatboxing) to make it interesting. Haley's problem is that she doesn't have a fan base and her rendition of "True Colors" did nothing to build it.

Here, then, is the report card:
  1. LaKisha Jones, B
  2. Chris Sligh, B
  3. Gina Glocksen, A
  4. Sanjaya Malakhar, C
  5. Haley Scarnato, B
  6. Phil Stacey, A
  7. Melinda Doolittle, A
  8. Blake Lewis, B
  9. Jordin Sparks, B
  10. Chris Richardson, B
My bottom three would be Sanjaya, Haley, and Jordin. If there's any justice, Sanjaya and his po(ny)-hawk hair finally goes.

RESULTS: 1/3. That's pretty poor. Of the bottom three, I only called Haley. The other two were Phil Stacey and Chris Sligh. Phil was safe and Chris was outta here.

Chris's problem, though he had the nicest of the male voices, was that his lurching from one obscure song to another never managed to define a niche that could build a fan base. When he finally picked a song that people knew, it was the last straw.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Biblical, Jewish, and Early Christian Book Search

Biblical, Jewish, and Early Christian Book Search Has links to the scanned Migne volumes on Google Books.

So You Want to Write a Book With MS Word

So You Want to Write a Book With MS Word:
If you intend to assemble and manipulate large amounts of text in Word and would like to minimize the time you spend fighting Word, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of how Word works.
I wrote a book with MS Word, but it's always a good idea to get more advice about this finicky program.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Top 10 of the OCLC Top 1001

The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) has amassed a Top 1001 list of the most widely held titles (books, music, etc.) throughout the world's libraries. Here is their top 10:
  1. The Holy Bible
  2. The Census
  3. Mother Goose
  4. The Divine Comedy (Dante)
  5. The Odyssey
  6. The Iliad
  7. Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  8. The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)
  9. Hamlet (Shakespeare)
  10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
Number 1001, by the way, is Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History.

(via Kottke)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Idol Top 11 Report Card

This week was 60s British invasion putting the gospel singers at a disadvantage. This turned out to be the first time LaKisha Jones had an off-performance, but one still better than most of the others. Overall, the performances have been getting better, with only Sanjaya being painful to watch.

At any rate, here is the report card:
  1. Haley Scarnato, A
  2. Chris Richardson, B
  3. Stephanie Edwards, A
  4. Blake Lewis, B
  5. LaKisha Jones, B
  6. Phil Stacey, B
  7. Jordin Sparks, A
  8. Sanjaya Malakhar, C
  9. Gina Glocksen, B
  10. Chris Sligh, A
  11. Melinda Doolittle, A
I'm guessing that the bottom three would be Sanjaya, Phil, and Gina, with Sanjaya getting the boot.

RESULTS: I was completely wrong. The bottom two were Stephanie Edwards and Chris Richardson, with poor Stephanie getting the boot. She was a great talent, but perhaps there were too many great singers in her niche (LaKisha Jones, Melinda Doolittle, even Jordin Sparks) to stand out.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Conglomerate: Bluebook Pet Peeves

Christine Hurt has some Bluebook Pet Peeves on citing blogs in legal scholarship. I too don't like the idea of omitting the name of the author from single-authored blogs.

Beware the Ides of March

From Plutarch, Caesar 63.5-6:
οὐ γὰρ ἂν φύσει γε συστῆναι ζῷον ἀκάρδιον. ἔστι δὲ καὶ ταῦτα πολλῶν ἀκοῦσαι διεξιόντων, ὥς τις αὐτῷ μάντις ἡμέρᾳ Μαρτίου μηνὸς ἣν Εἰδοὺς Ῥωμαῖοι καλοῦσι προείποι μέγαν φυλάττεσθαι κίνδυνον, ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας προϊὼν ὁ Καῖσαρ εἰς τὴν σύγκλητον ἀσπασάμενος προσπαίξειε τῷ μάντει φάμενος· „αἱ μὲν δὴ Μάρτιαι Εἰδοὶ πάρεισιν“, ὁ δ’ ἡσυχῇ πρὸς αὐτὸν εἴποι· „ναί, πάρεισιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ παρεληλύθασι.“
Or, in North's translation:
Furthermore there was a certain soothsayer that had given Caesar warning long time afore, to take heed of the day of the Ides of March, (which is the fifteenth of the month), for on that day he should be in great danger. That day being come, Caesar going unto the Senate-house, and speaking merrily unto the soothsayer, told him, "the Ides of March be come :" " so they be," softly answered the soothsayer, " but yet are they not past."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Idol Top 12 Report Card

It was Diana Ross night for the American Idol contestants, putting the already lackluster boys at a disadvantage. Their goal is survival with the least damage. Perhaps the shrewdest tactic was by Blake "Beatboxer" Lewis, who, knowing that he will pale by comparison to the original, did some fan service by funking it up with an electronic beat.

At any rate, here's my report card for the twelve perfomances:
  1. Brandon Rogers, C
  2. Melinda Doolittle, A
  3. Chris Sligh, B
  4. Gina Glocksen, B
  5. Sanjaya Malakhar, C
  6. Haley Scarnato, B
  7. Phil Stacey, B
  8. LaKisha Jones, A
  9. Blake Lewis, B
  10. Stephanie Edwards, A
  11. Chris Richardson, B
  12. Jordin Sparks, A
Either Brandon or Sanjaya should go; the other will be lucky to survive the next week.

UPDATE (3/14): Bottom three was Brandon, Sanjaya, and Phil. Phil was safe, so I called the bottom two. Brandon was eliminated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Cal.): first openly nontheistic member of Congress

The Secular Coalition for America has put out a press release with the following information: Rep. Pete Stark (D-Cal.): first openly nontheistic member of Congress:
There is only one member of Congress who is on record as not holding a god-belief.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a member of Congress since 1973, acknowledged his nontheism in response to an inquiry by the Secular Coalition for America. Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.
Interestingly, the press release did not describe Rep. Stark using his own preferred self-description, as Friendly Atheist explains:
When the Secular Coalition for America wrote to him, he filled in the choice that read:
“I am a nontheist* and describe myself as: _________________. I also agree to allow the Secular Coalition for America to release this information to the general public.”
In the blank, he filled in “Unitarian.”
I had known that Rep. Stark was a Unitarian and, given their diversity of beliefs, not particularly surprised to find out that he is one of them who consider himself a "nontheist." I am annoyed, however, that the Secular Coalition for America did not think that his own self-designation was important enough to put into their press release.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Idol Predictions for Final Round of 12

Of the boys, Blake Lewis, Chris Richardson, Chris Sligh, and Phil Stacey should make through it to the final round of 12. Of the four remaining, the weakest are Sanjaya Malakar and Sundance Head, though neither Brandon Rogers nor Jared Cotter are completely out of danger. Predictions: Sanjaya and Sundance out.

Of the girls, Antonella Barba and Haley Scarnato are the two weakest and should go. All the remaining girls are very strong, the most vulnerable of which are Gina Glocksen and Jordin Sparks, and they're still better than the boys.

((Wrench in the works: Vote for the Worst is plugging for Sundance and Antonella. If this campaign is able to spoil the voting, I'd expect to see Brandon take Sundance's rightful place, and Jordin Sparks to take Antonella's.))

RESULTS: 2 out of 4. I was right about Sundance and Antonella; both of them sang their swan songs better than earlier in the week, indicating that they were actually decent singers but yet unable to handle the pressure of competition. The big shocker was Sabrina Sloan's going instead of Haley Scarnato. I didn't see that one coming. Less shocking, but still disappointing, was the survival of Sanjaya, with Jared (not Brandon) being the guy to go home.

Oh well, next week the people most in danger remain Sanjaya and Haley, but we'll see how the singing changes it. So far, the best singers looks like LaKisha Smith and Melinda Doolittle. It's hard to imagine at this point one of the guys making it to the final two.

Bradley Wright's Weblog: Blogging as American Idol for columnists

Bradley Wright's Weblog: Blogging as American Idol for columnists:
I would imagine that in the coming years, newspapers and magazines will routinely turn to successful bloggers for columnists. Blogging is a proving ground for essay-writing in which anyone can participate. This makes blogging like the American Idol for essayists--many sign up at the auditions and a few make it to the big-time, and those few are arguably the most talented.
Brad nails it.

Tim Lewis on Reoralization

Tim Lewis's category on Reoralization at Source Theory.

Wikipedia to seek proof of credentials - Yahoo! News

Wikipedia to seek proof of credentials - Yahoo! News:
Following revelations that a high-ranking member of
Wikipedia's bureaucracy used his cloak of anonymity to lie about being a professor of religion, the free Internet encyclopedia plans to ask contributors who claim such credentials to identify themselves.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said in interviews by phone and instant message Wednesday from Japan that contributors still would be able to remain anonymous. But he said they should only be allowed to cite some professional expertise in a subject if those credentials have been verified.
Growing pains.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jury Instructions on Circumstantial Evidence

The jury instruction in the Lewis Libby lying trial includes a boilerplate instruction on the legal (in)difference between direct and circumstantial evidence:
There are two types of evidence from which you may find the truth as to the facts of a case -- direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. When a witness states that he or she has actual knowledge of a fact, such as an eyewitness, that witness’s testimony is direct evidence. A chain of facts and circumstances indicating the guilt or innocence of the defendant is circumstantial evidence. The law makes no distinction between the weight you should give to either kind of evidence, nor does circumstantial evidence require a greater degree of certainty than direct evidence. In reaching a verdict in this case, you should weigh all of the evidence presented, both direct and circumstantial.
Generally, people who exclaim "It's all just circumstantial evidence" don't know what they are talking about.