mom my ride

you’ve heard of ‘pimp my ride,’ well, here’s the new tv show for all you minivan moms: ‘mom my ride’

(with a ht to the sound man to the mouse, randy coppinger.

hello facebook vs google. goodbye microsoft. nice try aol: the future of instructional technology

Facebook vs. GmailFacebook has taken the next step in its quest for world domination of people’s online lives. Facebook email (codenamed “Project Titan”) was introduced today:

While the new product will incorporate @facebook.com e-mail addresses, Zuckerberg said it will be more than just Gmail competition. It will offer three key features other e-mail services lack: seamless messaging across a variety of platforms, including SMS and texting; conversation history across those platforms; and a “social in-box,” meaning the company can filter the in-box just to include messages from friends.

Of course, the problem with email is that it’s old. Who under 30 years of age uses email anymore outside of their work-mandated email? Today, messaging is done instantaneously with text messaging, chat, and video conferencing. Email is what my generation (I’m 37) uses when communicating with those who aren’t on Facebook or don’t carry wireless devices.

Google made an earlier attempt at rethinking email with its Google Wave, on which it has stopped development. Now Facebook is giving it a try. In adding email, Facebook is essentially hedging a bet against Google, just in case email lingers for another decade. If Facebook can add email to its social networking offerings before Google can add social networking to its assortment of apps (remember Google Buzz?), then Facebook may be able to wrest away the throngs of users that are fleeing Microsoft exchange for Gmail. Add to this the impact that Apple is making on Microsoft with its Macs and the iPhone, and the transformation of modern media is complete. The biggest loser in all of this is Microsoft. (We’re not counting AOL’s “Project Phoenix” – Elvis left the building years ago.) Google docs will continue to do away with MS Office; iPhone, iTunes, and the Mac computer line will continue to erode away at the Microsoft operating systems (methinks they’re on Windows 7 now) and media players; and Facebook will continue to devour all social interaction.

We are left with a world that will use Google Android and Apple iPhones to access all communications, including the internet. (Sure, there are other phones and service providers, but how will they compete with Google Voice long term? Cable companies should be wary as well, as both Google TV and Apple TV are here.) Apple will continue to offer its Macs as a computing solution, while Google is adopting the cloud solution with its Chrome OS.  Google will continue to be the search engine of choice, and Google Docs, Earth (which should merge with Maps), and Calendar, will continue to provide the free, cloud-based apps to businesses and individuals alike, thereby continuing to vex Microsoft’s dying business model. Google Voice, an assortment of mobile voice tools superior to those of most wireless companies, will continue to erode at the very old school models of phone communications and the less antiquated, but hat-handed wireless companies by offering a free alternative to voice mail and dirt cheap long distance service. Meanwhile, Facebook (and FB apps on Droid and iPhones) will become the place for all social interactions, especially for the younger generations.

As far as higher education is concerned, the first company sync Facebook profiles with university class rosters, harness Google Docs, YouTube, and Wikipedia into a Moodle-style content management system wins. The first university to employ Facebook’s networking abilities, Google’s apps, and Wikipedia’s knowledge base with their library holdings will not only lead the way in online education for years to come, but will produce a revenue stream by exporting such a system to other universities.

If Facebook and Google have taught us anything, it is that cloud-based computing, social networking, and crowd-powered collaborative research are not only the future, they are the here and now. First one to get there wins.

thoughts on the sbl’s pay-per-projector policy

SBL Data Projector with Coin Slot

Is the SBL also among the tax collectors?

The Society of Biblical Literature has instituted a new policy at the 2010 annual meeting in Atlanta that charges presenters $25-$75 for the use of a data projector during a presentation. You heard me correctly, that’s $25-75 per presenter, per presentation, depending upon whether or not the presenter pre-paid by September 17.

Please allow me to express my profound displeasure with this decision in my own unique way.

Now, this fee is no surprise. The SBL actually unveiled this new revenue-producing scheme before the call for papers, and it was included in the online proposal form. You may remember this gem on the SBL website:

This year a nominal fee ($25 per item prior to June 15th) will be charged for each piece of Audio/Visual equipment requested. This will assist the SBL in covering a portion of the A/V costs for your session. Please request only the A/V equipment essential to your presentation to help us keep the meeting affordable for all members. Upon your paper’s acceptance, you will receive additional information on how to confirm equipment and pay for your A/V needs.

Most scholars either didn’t pay attention; read it, but didn’t bother to do or say anything about it (as scholars are oft wont to do); ignored it and planned on simply not paying when the bill came; or figured they’d do what faculty always do: complain about a new (albeit ridiculous) policy a week before crunch time rather than proactively write in dissent or objection to the policy in the early stages.

As the chair of the Blogger and Online Publication section (whose presenters, as one might expect, might actually employ the use of technology during their presentations), I was aghast at the notion that I needed to pay extra to give a presentation, when other presenters and attendees, who also benefit from other technologies like electricity, microphones, speakers, podiums, chairs, etc., were required to pay nothing. I chose not to pay the fee, and instead arranged to bring my own digital projector, extension cord, cables, etc., which I do every year. (Jim West has offered to do the same.)

SBL Data Projector Meter

This is what it has come to: the SBL is taxing those who create visually compelling presentations to accompany their papers.

Perhaps the new SBL email confirmation can read as follows:

“Congratulations!
Your paper has been accepted in the Johannine Literature section. Please send us $25 additional if you plan on actually creating a visually compelling presentation to accompany your paper.
If you’re just going to stand there and read a boring paper, well then, that’s free.
Again, congratulations.

P.S. Send money. We’re broke.”

The SBL is attempting to exact a tax on digital projectors. At some level a strategic decision was made to surcharge presenters, perhaps because they knew that most people attending SBL would be receiving some sort of reimbursement from their employer (whether university, bookseller, or non-profit organization), and would simply pass this expense along to their employers. (Airlines get away with charging extra for bags because most major carriers know that the bulk of their business comes from business travelers on expense accounts.) We know SBL has been collecting reimbursement data. (Remember filling out the question during registration that asked if you would be receiving 100%, some, or no reimbursement from an employer?) A decision was made to tax presenters above and beyond the already high conference registration fees, SBL annual membership, hotel costs, and additional skyrocketing hotel taxes (check your hotel bill before you hand it to your office manager for reimbursement)!

However, the SBL may be at fault on more than one level. I am hoping it is not the case that the SBL signed a deal with hotels that it either knew was bad (because it did not include data projectors), but needed to sign quickly for one reason or another. Worse yet, I hope it is not the case that negligence played a role and SBL simply overlooked the fact that data projectors were not included, signed a deal, and then got caught off guard when it realized it would be hit with the surprise charges, and scrambled to recoup some of the additional expense.

Scott Bailey has pointed out the absurdity of the SBL hotel’s claims regarding the costs of data projectors. Most data projectors can be purchased outright for less than $450 these days, (click here for a selection of digital projector options), yet the SBL hotel is charging SBL $450 per day(!!) to rent its data projectors. AND THE SBL AGREED TO THESE TERMS!!! It appears that SBL either signed a bad deal without doing its due diligence regarding the actual cost of data projectors, or simply missed the fact that projectors were not included. Given that the SBL is headquartered in Atlanta, one would think that they would know their local hotels and could negotiate a decent deal.

A $25-75 surcharge for what are usually 25-minute presentations comes to $1-3/minute! For standard technology!

The SBL should immediately rescind its policy of charging presenters $25-75 per presentation for using a data projector.

SBL and Projectors

$450/Day. (Photo by James McGrath)

SBL should not begin charging presenters for projectors. Data projectors have become a staple of all good presentations. I can’t wait to see presenters reading papers without PowerPoints simply to protest the policy. A more likely solution is that given the compact nature of today’s projectors, most scholars will bring their own projectors along with their laptops, as we are doing for the Blogger and Online Publication session. (Thank you James McGrath!)

This policy especially hurts younger scholars and graduate students, the very demographic SBL is attempting to reach and the group SBL must reach to ensure its long-term viability! SBL annual meetings are already very (almost prohibitively) expensive, especially for graduate students, who do not have secured positions at universities to whom they can submit reimbursements, and who are the most likely to use technology to present papers in an effort to procure jobs. Because the “data projector tax” hurts young scholars, the SBL is essentially taxing the poorest of the poor (because after all, we’re all in the humanities), and exacting a tax on those who are least able to afford it.

If SBL is going to fine anyone, it should charge presenters who do not use data projectors. If you wrote your SBL “talk” on the back of a napkin in the bar just before your session, you should have to pay $75 in order to present – money that can be distributed to those of us who have to listen to you drone on about hiphil middle-weak verb forms without any form of visual aid whatsoever. Don’t punish those presenters who have spent the time to write a good paper and create a helpful accompanying presentation.

The SBL should not disincentivize the production of effective, visual presentations at its own annual meeting!

Jesus Cleanses the SBL Registration Booth

An angry Jesus, upset about the fact that SBL is charging presenters to use data projectors, cleanses the SBL registration booth. (Mashup of Carl Heinrich Bloch painting by Robert R. Cargill) More on Bloch here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Heinrich_Bloch

Nickel-and-diming the attendees gives the SBL a real black eye at a time of nation-wide economic cost-cutting at universities, and when the SBL is attempting to market to a new range of scholars. Higher education really can’t afford the additional cost burden right now, especially if the revenues raised from the data projector tax are simply being passed along to hotels.

I’m seriously waiting for Jesus (Christ, not Jones in hotel facilities) to show up and “cleanse” the SBL registration booth. I’d like to see him overturn a table full of data projectors or two.

I can hear it now: as soon as a projector goes dark, someone will say,

“Will you put another quarter in the data projector meter for me?”

Church Collection Plate

Seriously, we should take up an offering for use of the data projectors. A section with 5 papers would cost $125, and that’s if you pre-reserved them back in June! We could pass a plate down the rows.

Solution

The SBL should immediately announce that it is rescinding its data projector fees for this year’s annual meeting.

Itemizing the data projector costs as an additional surcharge only highlights the fiscal trouble of the SBL.

Placing the fiscal burden directly on those scholars who are doing and presenting higher-end research that requires modern forms of technology to communicate their findings disincentivizes innovation.

Nickel-and-diming its own participants for participating makes an otherwise professional organization look cheap and does not send an inspiring message of fiscal viability to SBL members.

It would be better to spread the cost of data-projectors evenly across all participants, whether they use them in presentations, or watch presentations that use projectors. This minimal cost (say, $5) could be added to the already absurd annual meeting registration cost. It would be less burdensome to the presenters, and would not advertise SBL’s financial woes by highlighting the need to exact a surcharge for a service that is now standard in higher education and professional conferences.

Rescinding the decision to impose fees on those using data projectors would buy the SBL a year to debate the role of technology in scholarship, properly assess the real costs of technology, and give SBL a year to communicate the need, if any, for higher fees to subsidize technology costs.

SBL could also agree not to do business with hotels who insist on exacting absurd usury fees on conferences. It’s SBL’s home town for crying aloud! SBL should be able to negotiate a fair deal.

In Sum

In sum, charging presenters a fee to present their papers in a modern format is a very poor decision on the part of SBL. Then again, a digital image is worth a thousand words (and I’ll let you see it for free):

SBL Pay-for-Projector Policy

35 years ago and the legend lives on (from the chippewa on down…)

One of the greatest memorial ballads ever written preserves the legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald. 35 years ago Wednesday, the boat about which Gordon Lightfoot sang  sank in Lake Superior, November 10, 1975. Lightfoot’s song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (lyrics), was a staple around my house. So to those sailors who lost their lives 35 years ago, including David E. Weiss of my current home, Agoura, California, rest in peace.

Read Jim Kavanaugh’s excellent article at CNN.com.

Listen to radio chatter from the night of the wreck (from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum).

info on the 2010 biblioblogger dinner in atlanta

Gibney's Irish Pub

Gibney's Irish Pub, Atlanta, GA

the 2010 biblioblogger gathering in atlanta this year will be held at gibney’s irish pub (map) on sunday night, november 21, 2010, at 6:45 pm. it’s less than a block away from the main sbl hotel, the hyatt regency atlanta, so los angeles bloggers have no excuse. a dinner menu is available here.

if you are a blogger, a reader of blogs, or are even thinking about blogs, and you blog about the bible, bible places, bible translations, ministry, religion, notes about religion, scripture, god, hebrew and technology, hebrew poetry, epigraphy, scribal practices, the church, christendom, nt interpretation, gnostic gospels, the ancient near east, the biblical worldarchaeology, the roman world, ancient world, christian origins, catholics, academia, total depravity, lost, debunking, palaeobabble, obscure english bands no one has ever heard of, stalin, tea, travel, technology and targums, politics and faith, education, higher ed, old stuff, abnormal stuff, random stuff, awesome stuff, clay stuff general musings, the cleverest things on the net relating to all of the above, or anything else, then you should be at gibney’s in atlanta on sunday, nov. 21 at 6:45 pm. come and go as you’d like, but that’s where we’ll be.

don’t miss the special guest appearance by all 80 of raphael golb’s aliases. and remember, if anyone asks, we’re all jeffrey gibson. ;-)

see you there.

what was bob cargill doing last night about 5pm?

some of you may have seen me sailing around malibu last night around sunset. then some of you report seeing me later that evening at the malibu pier. what was i doing you ask? oh nothing…

cleveland fans respond to lebron james’ nike ad

LeBenedict James is quickly learning that history does not remember traitors well. In an effort to improve LeBron’s image (and protect their shoe selling investment), Nike has produced a new ad that is intended to make Mr. James’ decision appear a little less traitorous.

But sports fans do not remember defectors well. Look at Brett Favre and Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens – all the best in the business in their respective sports at one time or another, but who left their original teams via free agency after not delivering what they had promised. (Granted Brett Favre won a Super Bowl, but he still tarnished his legacy by playing elsewhere…oh, and by text messaging.)

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Cal Ripkin, Jr., John Elway, Ted Williams, Mike Schmidt, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Mickey Mantle, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, etc.- all who have played their entire careers for the same team and who have been rewarded with loyal fans.

There are, of course, cases like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, who played with other teams later in their careers, but that was after bringing multiple championships to their original team. LeBron has done no such thing.

So, now that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner has responded, the fans of Cleveland have responded with an ad of their own. Enjoy.

(HT: JW)

the world’s biggest idol now complete in swyzzdzybdzyn, poland

Jesus Statue in Swiebodzin, Poland

Workers raise the crowned head of a statue of Jesus before placing it slowly onto the figure's body, in Swiebodzin, Poland, on Saturday, Nov. 6. Workers have completed a giant statue of Jesus Christ in a small Polish town that its creators say ranks as the biggest in the world. Photo: Czarek Sokolowski / AP

congratulations to the small town of swbyzzdzybdzynski (actually swiebodzin) poland, for completing the construction of what they claim is the world’s tallest idol. the town’s goal of creating a bigger jesus than rio de janiero’s ‘christ the redeemer’ idol surely embraces the kind of humility that jesus would have wanted. and at a cost of $1.45 million dollars, the small town has wisely used the funds its church has raised in the best possible manner: rather than feed the needy of this small polish village, they’ve given them an idol to look at.

The mayor of the western Polish town, Dariusz Bekisz, claims it is now the world’s tallest.

Rev. Sylwester Zawadzki, the 78-year-old priest who created the statue said it rises 108 feet, or 33 meters — one meter for every year that Jesus lived. Other members of the construction team, however, gave differing figures. One said it rises 167 feet if you include a mound it sits on and the crown on the head.

By comparison, the statue in Brazil’s Rio is 125 feet tall.

“I am extremely proud,” said Danuta Gordzelewska, a 60-year-old who watched as the statue’s head was lowered into place. Gordzelewska has donated money to the statue, which was funded by contributions from as far away as Canada. “It’s special to watch something being built that later generations will have.”

i’m sure it won’t be long until tourists cancel their vacation plans in rio and reroute them to swzzybdzkkzzyskyyz, poland (map). because who needs beaches in rio when there’s a giant jesus to stare at.

well done.

a biblical solution to the bedbug infestation terrorizing america from ‘the acts of john’

BedbugWith all of the news surrounding the apparent bedbug infestation spreading across America, from the United Nations and the Waldorf Astoria in New York to out here in Los Angeles, I was reminded that despite how much this menace sucks (literally), this is no new problem. Actually, the problem of bedbug annoyance has been around since biblical days. In fact, one of the more humorous (albeit implausible) stories from the earliest moments in Christianity is a story from a pseudepigraphal gnostic document called the Acts of John.

At one point in the Acts of John, we have the story of “The Miracle of the Bedbugs”:

Now on the first day we arrived at a deserted inn, and when we were at a loss for a bed for John, we saw a droll matter. There was one bedstead lying somewhere there without coverings, whereon we spread the cloaks which we were wearing, and we prayed him to lie down upon it and rest, while the rest of us all slept upon the floor. But when he lay down, he was troubled by the bugs, and as they continued to become yet more troublesome to him, when it was now about the middle of the night, in the hearing of us all he said to them: “I say unto you, O bugs, behave yourselves, one and all, and leave your abode for this night and remain quiet in one place, and keep your distance from the servants of God.” And as we laughed, and went on talking for some time, John addressed himself to sleep; and we, talking low, gave him no disturbance (or, thanks to him we were not disturbed).

But when the day was now dawning I arose first, and with me Verus and Andronicus, and we saw at the door of the house which we had taken a great number of bugs standing, and while we wondered at the great sight of them, and all the brethren were roused up because of them, John continued sleeping. And when he was awakened, we declared to him what we had seen. And he sat up on the bed and looked at them and said: “Since ye have well behaved yourselves in hearkening to my rebuke, come unto your place.” And when he had said this, and risen from the bed, the bugs running from the door hasted to the bed and climbed up by the legs thereof and disappeared into the joints. And John said again: “This creature hearkened unto the voice of a man, and abode by itself and was quiet and trespassed not; but we which hear the voice and commandments of God disobey and are light-minded: and for how long?” (60-61)

Thus, the solution to the bedbug problem: get an apostle to order the bugs out of the bed before you go to sleep every night. It’s an almost biblical solution to the bedbug infestation terrorizing America. (And don’t talk while John’s trying to sleep!)

has mark goodacre solved the gospel of peter’s ‘talking cross’?

Mark Goodacre (Duke) has posted some excellent thoughts reexamining the famous “talking cross” text from the Gospel of Peter. It’s a text that’s made me chuckle for some time, but Dr. Goodacre has pieced together a very nice alternative reading that makes the text a bit more germane to the Gospel of Peter’s resurrection narrative.

His alternative reading is as follows:

And while they were narrating what they had seen, they saw three men come out from the sepulchre, two of them raising up the one, and the crucified one following them (40) and the heads of the two reaching to heaven, but that of him who was being led out by the hand by them reaching beyond the heavens. 41. And they heard a voice out of the heavens crying, ‘Have you preached to those who sleep?’, 42. and from the crucified one there was heard the answer, ‘Yes.’

To see how Dr. Goodacre got to this reading, read his post here.

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