You are viewing page 35 of 203.

A Second Language

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:51 AM

The ever interesting Stanley Fish wrote awhile back on students wanting to observe their own “dialects” and “styles” instead of proper English grammar:

And if students infected with the facile egalitarianism of soft multiculturalism declare, “I have a right to my own language,” reply, “Yes, you do, and I am not here to take that language from you; I'm here to teach you another one.” (Who could object to learning a second language?) And then get on with it.

I don't always agree with Fish, but here is one place we are in perfect agreement.

The Human Side of an Icon

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:39 AM

Lisen Stromberg writes observations on being a neighbor to Steve Jobs:

While Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and CNET continue to drone on about the impact of the Steve Jobs era, I won't be pondering the MacBook Air I write on or the iPhone I talk on. I will think of the day I saw him at his son's high school graduation. There Steve stood, tears streaming down his cheeks, his smile wide and proud, as his son received his diploma and walked on into his own bright future leaving behind a good man and a good father who can be sure of the rightness of this, perhaps his most important legacy of all.

Creativity is Critical

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:20 PM

Richard Paul writes in Critical Thinking:

When a mind does not systematically and effectively embody intellectual criteria and standards, is not disciplined in reasoning things through, in figuring out the logic of things, in reflectively devising a rational approach to the solution of problems or in the accomplishment of intellectual or practical tasks, that mind is not 'creative.'

An astute comment often overlooked, especially in poesy. The good poet is creative not because he vomits raw emotion onto a page and calls it “art,” but rather because he labors tirelessly on the meaning of each word until a collection of words transcend themselves and becomes something more. A poem.

Back in the Blogging Seat

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:13 AM

I've been meaning to get this blog back into gear and have some new subjects that I will want to sort through on here in the coming months. First and foremost, I am (much to my delight) serving as an adjunct this fall, teaching World Religions — I think that will provide me with plenty to mull over here.

The big question I am mulling over right now is this: is it truly possible to study the World Religions objectively? The question is difficult because I am not so sure our sense of what objectivity is with regards to such a subject is even real. Mitch Numark's insightful analysis of nineteenth century Scottish missionaries in Bombay published in May issue of the Journal of Asian Studies has been challenging me on that point this week. Maybe what we think of as the “objective study” of religions is merely the subjective viewpoint of post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment westerners. I'll be posting more on that subject in the near future.

Meanwhile, my fellow theo-blogger Travis McMaken blogged yesterday on just how small the world is. Travis stopped by asisaid back when I was first starting seminary in 2007 and interacted with one of my posts on Karl Barth. Since then, I've regularly read his excellent theo-blog, Der Evangelische Theologe. Earlier this summer, I learned that Travis had been hired as an assistant religion professor in my alma mater's Religion department. When I found out, I wrote him to welcome him to St. Louis and we discussed meeting sometime after he arrived.

As it so happens, a month or so later, I received the exciting news that I was being brought on as an adjunct in the same department. With the semester kicked off this past week, Travis and I finally met in the cafeteria. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to further discussions with him in the coming months of the fall semester.

Paved Paradise

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:48 AM

Too often we don't know what we've got until it is gone. How often is it that we look at what God has given us and say, “that's not good enough”? It may be an inevitable part of this life, though one that we need to actively combat.

Two Years Ago

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:39 AM

Two years ago, I walked into a strange church and sat down for a Sunday service — the first time in my life I was the “visitor looking for a church.” For many people, that may be a normal enough experience, but as a lifelong member of another church, I felt a bit odd being on the other side of the visitor equation. Two days prior, I had sat in that same church's office, talking with the two pastors about what the church was like.

In both settings, as unfamiliar as the church and its people were, it felt welcoming. Something felt right about it. And so it still does. I'm glad to say that church is now my church and those unfamiliar people are now my church family.

God had quite a blessing in mind, though I did not know it, on that day two years ago.

The Master's Phenomenon

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:00 AM

Laura Pappano writes for the New York Times:

He calls the proliferation of master's degrees evidence of “credentialing gone amok.” He says, “In 20 years, you'll need a Ph.D. to be a janitor.”

Among the new breed of master's, there are indeed ample fields, including construction management and fire science and administration, where job experience used to count more than book learning. Internships built into many of these degrees look suspiciously like old-fashioned on-the-job training.

Indeed; this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does risk blurring the goals of graduate degrees further than they already are:

There may be logic in trying to better match higher education to labor needs, but Dr. Vedder is concerned by the shift of graduate work from intellectual pursuit to a skill-based “ticket to a vocation.” What's happening to academic reflection? Must knowledge be demonstrable to be valuable?

That's a very Newman-esque question and one very much worth asking.

HT: Travis McMaken.

Late Night Haiku XXXVIII

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:39 AM

CVI. For a MacLeish poem
Concerning grief history:
Ah, the maple leaf!

CVII. The still empty box,
The note stored in the drawer,
The roaring silence.

CVIII. For the leaf fallen,
Sits still upon the porch step —
The kind bench, empty.

The Cult of Centrism?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:25 AM

Paul Krugman opines that the president has managed to get himself caught in a “cult of centrism:”

We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president.

The must read tech blogger John Gruber apparently agrees. The problem with this analysis is that it implies that a basic sensible fiscal policy — that when one is spending too much, one should lower spending — is somehow “radical.”

As Gloria Borger noted on CNN last night, the president is the only notable figuring advocating further taxes right now. Obviously, spending cuts are the Right's answer to government spending problems, but when a one trillion dollar debt ceiling increase only staves off the problem for six months, can anyone really provide an explanation of how spending is not out of control?

The only reason Krugman can look at President Obama and suggest he is somewhat “conservative” is that the columnist is so far left that anything in the American mainstream of politics must be of the radical right. Even if his reputation was set aside, Krugman's incredible remarks suggesting that the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 was some sort of quasi-conservative health care bill make it clear how radical the columnist, and not the alleged conservatives in the Congress, are.

The people did not elect boatloads of Tea Party candidates last year because they thought increased taxes and spending would be the way to fix our situation. How about this: before we talk about how Uncle Sam needs more of the citizenry's money, let's see if we can quit wasting the money he already takes.

Netflix Raises Rates by 77% in a Year

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 8:27 PM

From the Netflix blog:

Now we offer a choice: Unlimited Streaming for $7.99 a month, Unlimited DVDs for $7.99 a month, or both for $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). We think $7.99 is a terrific value for our unlimited streaming plan and $7.99 a terrific value for our unlimited DVD plan. We hope one, or both, of these plans makes sense for our members and their entertainment needs.

The new $7.99 plan sans streaming is a decent idea for those who will never use streaming, but remember that up until last November, the plan with both streaming and DVDs-by-mail cost just $8.99. Netflix's blog entry is somewhat misleading when it says “Last November when we launched our $7.99 unlimited streaming plan, DVDs by mail was treated as a $2 add on to our unlimited streaming plan.” The statement is factually true, but it obscures the fact that existing customers who wanted to keep the same level of service saw a $1/month price increase (and given that so much of Netflix's catalogue is still unavailable for streaming, the bundle is still their most attractive plan).

Still, a buck a month is the sort of thing most people will absorb and ignore. I think nudging it up another dollar or two a year later would also have been OK. But, a 77% price hike in less than a year is overly bold. It is enough of an increase to reach the “let's reassess if I need this” category. I'm guessing I won't be the only one to pull the plug on my Netflix service when September rolls around.

Now would be a good time for Apple to announce its oft rumored Netflix competitor. I wonder what Netflix alternatives people will primarily be switching to?

You are viewing page 35 of 203.