The Revolution Before eBooks

Andrew Shaffer wrote an article for Mental Floss about Paperbacks in America:

“Half a century before e-books turned publishing upside down, a different format threatened to destroy the industry…

“A movie ticket set you back 20 cents. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the year’s bestselling… book, was $2.75. For a nation suffering 20 percent unemployment, books were an impossible expense.”


The Worst Sentence of the Year


Cathy Bryant of Manchester (England, not New Hampshire) is the winner of this year’s coveted Bulwer-Lytton Contest for the Worst Opening Sentence for an Imaginary Novel. Hers is the overall winner, but there are many runners-up proudly displayed on the Bulwer-Lytton results page. Some go for elaborate set-ups of punch-clause puns, but I most enjoy the ones like Ms Bryant’s that really mimic an untalented author whose novel I’m glad I don’t have to read.

Here, for your delectation and anti-edification, the prize-winning run-away sentence:

As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.

Musings re Excellence

It’s like a three-ring circus in my brain at the moment. I’ve been thinking about excellence and how it applies to the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, to higher education and to writing stuff like theology or comedy dialogue. And I think I want to say three things:

1) Getting the details right is important, but not because of the details. When enough details accumulate, you lose sight of details and see instead a rich environment. That’s when you win big time.

2) The second one is like it: The best reason for complexity is to get to simple. And often a simplicity that comes from a place of complexity is the most satisfying / funny / beautiful of all.

3) The point of standing on the shoulders of giants is to look out at the vista not just to look at the giants. For my money, too much scholarship is scholarship aimed at understanding scholarship, and too many ‘ultrabooks’ are about being what the other ultrabooks are.

I doubt these are “three rules for excellence” or anything so grand. They’re just things I’ve been thinking of.

“Promodoro” for iPhone

The Pomodoro technique helps me get work done when I’m stressed. You work in short bursts or blitzes, with even shorter breaks built in. The classic timings are 25 minutes of work, followed by 5 minutes of break. Repeat 4 times and take a longer break. It’s great for slogging through writing.

When I’m doing something especially distasteful, I shorten the spells, sometimes to as short as 10m work, 2m break! Even things I hate doing, I know I can bear for ten minutes. And once the first iteration is done, in my two minute breather, I tell myself … I can manage another ten minutes.

I’ve now found what I think is the ideal timer on the iPhone. It’s called Promodoro (note the extra r) and it’s simple and effective and flexible. It doesn’t cost very much either.


Authors’ Habits


Skim-reading this blog post about writing made me smile. And some weeks, smiles are hard to come by.

It helps that I initially read the title simply as “Seven Habits of Successful Authors.” It’s encouraging to know that I have at least some of the qualifications.

(and no, this isn’t the same Rachel Gardner that graduated from London School of Theology and started Romance Academy.)


Max’s Festschrift


Published by Eerdmans in April 2012, a Festschrift of essays by colleagues, friends and former students in honour of Max Turner entitled: The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament and Christian Theology, edited by I. Howard Marshall, Volker Rabens and Cornelis Bennema.

From the back cover: This volume gathers writings about the Spirit and Christ by notable scholars including Richard Bauckham, D.A. Carson, James Dunn, and many others… the twenty essays included will be a welcome resource for scholars and ministers… [and it] is a fitting tribute to honoree Max Turner, whose outstanding scholarship has focused on pneumatology and Christology.

From the table of contents:

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How to Introduce Someone

I bumped into a great little article posted yesterday at online arts magazine TheMillions. Written by Janet Potter, it’s about how to introduce an author in a public setting, but can easily be adapted to introducing anyone. I’ll be giving a very short eulogy in a couple of months and have already found these ideas very helpful.

In short: be short. 500 words max. Do due research, cut down to the very best bits, include a quotation or two, be honest in giving a personal impression. 500 words and stick to ’em.

“How to Introduce an Author” by Janet Potter.

Verbal Irony

At our LST Research miniConference on 28th March, Margaret Sim (of SIL) led us in looking at irony in the Corinthian Correspondence., proposing a definition that verbal irony in epistles are when writers make statements with which they do not in fact agree. Personally, I think that definition is too broad… I think it’s not irony unless the disagreement is implied rather than stated — if writers explicitly disagree with a statement of an opponent, that’s just disagreement, not irony. There almost needs to be ambiguity about it — a temporary suspension of clarity — for it to be truly ironic.

But there are a couple of things I’d never really considered about verbal irony before:

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