Articles for the Month of June 2010

Styleguide for the Web

Yahoo have produced a Styleguide for the web. In the absence of any different requirements from your webmaster, and for most blogs we are our own webmasters, I do not know of another succinct styleguide that aims to cover issues of publishing on the web. There is even a page of very sensible advice about writing for search engines as well as humans.

Does anyone know of another, perhaps better Internet styleguide to recommend?

Maps on Bing and Google

Map from Google shows boundaries and address

"Helpful" map from Bing, shows street and footpath only

This issue of Christian Computing magazine had an article which extolled the virtues of Bing Maps:

While Google Maps is very popular, I found Bing Maps (Fig. 2, http://www.bing.com/maps/) a better alternative. The first test I performed, for example, proved significant.

I’m afraid my experience was also significant, Bing maps of New Zealand loaded slower, and held less information than Google maps. (I was interested in the location of different properties around Tauranga, Google usually provided boundaries of each property, Bing – when it finally loaded – did not, Google provided satellite imagery, Bing claimed to, but it just never loaded :(

What’s your experience?

Satellite image from Google

Bing's attempt after 3 minutes loading, yes, I also tried 3 times over a half hour :(

Curriculum vitae/curriculum vita/curriculum vitarum

Misty morning in the Akha valley (Photo by Tim B)

Visiting Lynn Schofield Clark‘s website (see Great advice for postgraduate students) I was struck by her link to her “Curriculum vita”. The phrase I’m used to is “curriculum vitae” and my memory of long ago Latin lessons is so poor that I wondered which was right, and whether curriculum vita might even mean the course of [my] lives (plural). It doesn’t, that would be curricula vitarum.

That’s what I need ;) not a curriculum vitae – a simple list of my life – but a curriculum vitarum – a list of my lives, because they are many:

  • socially: I am not (quite) the same person in the home as in the pulpit, nor again in class or a conference…
  • temporally: I have held a few quite different roles across my lives: social work in Belfast in the 70s, pastor of a small church in rural Wiltshire also in the 70s, missionary educator and administrator (vice-recteur of what is now a University) in the 80s, seminary and university teacher in the 90s and 00s…
  • probably in many other ways

Are these lives all different people, each with its own curriculum vitae, or do they combine into one great mess of a curriculum vitarum ;)  Which would you prefer a curriculum vitae (singular) or a curriculum vitarum (of your plural lives)?

Great advice for postgraduate students

Mary Hess points to some great advice for doctoral students and much of it is pretty good for masters’ candidates too :) On things like going to conferences, and turning an old assignment into a paper… One thing I’d add to her conference advice, especially for Introverts, is: Talk to people! When you are standing near someone at a reception, or browsing the book display, they are probably as unfocused as you, so talk to them. I’ve met a few of the “names” whose books I’ve admired, doing that, and I’m a certified 19/20 introvert – who does not always take his own advice :(

What’s your one best piece of advice for new scholars?

Happy birthday Daw Aung San Suu Kyi!

Aung San Suu Kyi

Today, or tomorrow for some readers ;) Aung San Suu Kyi will be spending her 65th birthday in detention.

She’s been detained for a total of 14 years and 238 days. Basically on and off since her massive election landslide. The United Nations has always declared that her detention breaks international law. A catalogue of International bodies such as: The UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council, European Union, as well as individual countries around the globe have all said the UN should work to facilitate negotiations between the dictatorship, the National League for Democracy (Aung San Suu Kyi’s party)  and the ethnic opposition groups.

Yet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has not been taking active steps to make this happen.

So as a birthday present for “the lady” please send a simple message to Ban Ki-moon to take action on Burma!

Take action here it will only take you a few moments, if enough people respond something may be done – there are bogus elections planned THIS year from which the last elected leader will be banned.

Please also either repost this or write your own birthday message :)

Non-Anglophone Bible references

Until today, when responding to a challenge on my Facebook status (concerning my labours to convert my article into the required format for submission to a European journal) I had never realised the logic behind the European system of Bible referencing.

I was once, while teaching Old Testament in Congo (then Zaïre) quite comfortable with the European system of citing Bible references, after all as a student I’d used the manuscript superscript verse numbers ;) But now after nearly two more decades of mainly Anglophone referencing I was confused. To illustrate here’s an example table:

Anglophone manuscript:Anglophone computer:French & German:
Am 71Am 7:1Am 7,1
Am 71-3Am 7:1-3Am 7,1-3
Am 71-3,4-5Am 7:1-3, 4-5Am 7,1-3.4-5

To brains habituated to Anglophony the last column is counter-intuitive, but just think of how the different cultures write numbers:

Anglophone numbers:Francophone numbers:Words:
100100One hundred
1,0001.000One thousand
1.11,1One decimal one/one and one tenth

PS, before the pedant police tells me I have used the wrong typographic symbol for the Anglophone decimal sign, and believe me some people can get really excited about such things ;) I should point out that I have done it the way 99·9999% of the population does to make my point more pointed, OK?

Food to nourish the soul as well as feast the belly

Veges (photo by Noël Zia Lee)

In a comment Larry pointed to the site with Paul McCartney’s impassioned video advocating a Vegan lifestyle to avoid cruelty to animals. While I respect the desires of Larry and Paul to avoid hurting fellow creatures, and to some extent share it, I am speciesist. I can see no reason to accord the same protection and care to other species that we do to our own. “Don’t eat a fish, fish have (some small measure of) personality” does not work for me, sorry! And showing selected clips of the worst atrocities of the US meat industry did not convince me either.

So I then flipped to the recipes, that’s surely where I can use some help. And got a shock, under the heading Breakfast the top recipes offered a collection of dodgy meat substitutes making wannabe carnivore dishes like ‘Eggs’ Benedict; ‘Bacon,’ Potato, and Green Onion Frittata; ‘Chicken’ With Artichokes and Olives; ‘Eggnog’ Pancakes. The first is described as:

Baked tofu, eggless hollandaise sauce, veggie bacon, and fresh tomatoes top a toasted English muffin for a delicious vegan version of a French classic.

The only thing that’s real here are the tomatoes and the muffin. The rest is faux meat. The thought that the best “Vegetarian” can offer is a collection of wannabe carnivore dishes is a real turn off. I want real, tasty, nourishing food, food to nourish the soul as well as feast the belly! And “tofu, eggless hollandaise sauce, veggie bacon” ain’t it :(

Maybe if you are a vegan, or the friend of a vegan, who has a recipe that fits the requirements below you would like to enter it in my vegan recipe competition and help me out?

Repentant carnivores? or Is it Christian to eat meat?

Stuffed tomatoes by hlkljgk

I’m increasingly concerned about the issue of meat-eating among Western Christians. The statistics seem quite clear, on a globe with limited resources, producing a meat diet takes far more of those limited resources than producing a Vegetarian diet, and the difference for Vegan meals are even more pronounced.

A person following a low-fat vegetarian diet, for example, will need less than half (0.44) an acre per person per year to produce their food,” said Christian Peters, M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’07, a Cornell postdoctoral associate in crop and soil sciences and lead author of the research. “A high-fat diet with a lot of meat, on the other hand, needs 2.11 acres.”

It is as simple as that, the globe cannot sustain the carnivorous lifestyle we Westerners take for granted. No understanding of Christianity that I can recognise can accept that my diet choice and eating pleasure causes others to starve.

Now, at this point I need to clarify a few things:

  • When I talk about unrepentant carnivores I do not mean merely people who sometimes eat meat, by carnivore I mean people who eat meat more than 7 times a week on average. (But yes, some ham or meat paste, or tuna in a sandwich at lunch does count!)
  • By Repentant Carnivore I mean someone who recognises that the carnivorous lifestyle of most Westerners is sinful and who is seeking to change.
  • I am not a Vegetarian – I eat meat of all kinds (almost, horse is a delicacy, rat is pretty tasty, croc delicious, but I’m not over fond of tripe ;)

But Jesus ate meat! Of course he did, and fish. Peter was a fisherman, and Jesus apparently a better one, though he may have had supernatural help ;) But Jesus, Peter and even most relatively affluent people in the Ancient world did not eat meat more than once a day, most of them only ate meat and fish on high-days and holidays, or when someone in the whanau (approximately extended family) or village had killed a beast.

Even though a moderate-fat plant-based diet with a little meat and dairy (red footprint) uses more land than the all-vegetarian diet (far left footprint), it feeds more people (is more efficient) because it uses more pasture land, which is widely available. (Credit: Illustration by Steve Rokitka/University Communications)

That sort of diet (occasional meat eating) is not unsustainable, it makes good use of land that is good for pasture but less good for crops and may have lower demands on scarce resources than Vegetarian or Vegan ones do (see Diet With A Little Meat Uses Less Land Than Many Vegetarian Diets from which the quote above and the graphic are taken).

Conclusions:

Western Christians must become “Repentant Carnivores”, we should reduce our meat (including fish, fowl and even eggs and dairy – for Vegetarians are merely wolves in sheep’s clothing, semi-carnivores) considerably.

Having lived the carnivourous lifestyle for years, with four children who (apart for Nathan for a couple of teenage years) demand meat, and complain when fed beans, I’ve regularly cooked the carnivorous way. I now, the children having left home (except Sarah who can I guess cook the meaty meals ;) am free to repent, and plan over the coming months to work towards a low meat mixed diet, with only a meal or two per day (on average) using meat, fish, fowl, cheese or eggs.

Sage advice

Sage is a great flavour for winter, last week I cooked a chicken for visitors down in Tauranga, and despite using a nice barn raised chook all the comments were on the stuffing. If you suffered from packeted dried “Sage and Onion Stuffing” as a child, forget it. Packet stuffing is like dried parsley, or instant coffee, not worth the time they save!

Stuffing is easy:

  • some bread cut into small chunks (or wapped briefly in a processor, but don’t make it breadcrumbs, they’re too fine)
  • zest of a lemon or two (add the juice later if it seems dry)
  • an egg
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves chopped into peices
  • a handful of bacon also chopped
  • salt and pepper

Mix together, if the egg is not quite enough to bind it all together then add lemon juice or another egg. Stuff the bird and roast.

That meant I had sage left over, and those little pots never really grow for me, and the NZ Herald had a delicious looking recipe for Pumpkin, Sage and Blue Cheese Fritters. We also had an unused butternut, and I love blue cheese :) So since I have sent “‘Exile away from his land’: Is landlessness the ultimate punishment in Amos?” off for what I hope is the final time, “The book of Amos and the Day of YHWH” to a colleague for criticism, and am getting on well with “Degrees of Presence” I celebrated by trying the recipe.

It too is simple:

  • grated butternut (I used a cup or so)
  • small red onion (also grated – yes, I grate them together in the food processor, do you think I like skinned knuckles?)
  • blue cheese crumbled – not much (unless like me you are a fiend for blue cheese ;)
  • a few Tbsp Rice Flour
  • a little baking powder (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • handful of chopped sage leaves
  • egg white (the yolk will make mayo or something later)

Mix them all up and fry :)

Easy as, and delicious.

No pictures because the kitchen gremlin seems to have put soya flour (or something) into the jar marked Rice Flour, and the recipe really needs the rice flour to make it crisp! So mine was a delicious fried mash instead of fritters, so no photo this time :(

Letter to my MPs office: Re. Burma

I’m writing because I noticed that on 2nd Parliament both received the report Displaced Childhoods, and voted on a motion concerning the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. I wondered what other steps are being taken in this year when the ruling military junta in Burma plan to hold bogus elections to bolster their grip on power so that they can continue to rape and murder their ethnic minority citizens. (I realise this is not proper parliamentary language, but I’m not a politician, just a constituent horrified by what is happening and how little NZ seems to be involved in trying to change things.) I am also interested to know what part our MP is playing?

Why don’t you write to yours? Their emails are easy to find on Google. 3 mins to do something rather than nothing…