Charting Microsoft’s Decline

Today, one Apple product, the iPhone, makes more money than everything Microsoft sells put together. Asymco’s Horace Dediu has graphs about the decline. John Gruber writes about the iPhone as disruption. And American magazine Vanity Fair looks at Microsoft’s downfall.


The Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44)

If you’ve never studied the ministry and teaching of Jesus in today’s scholarly or evangelical climates, the message of the story in Mark 12:41-44 is very clear. But if you’ve been around those particular blocks a few times, it should strike you as a very peculiar story indeed.

We also know that Jesus hates the exploitation of the poor. And we are told that Jesus is in the process of judging the Jerusalem Temple. It’s evil and corrupt and exploits the people all the time. It’s time is almost over, it has failed. We are told that the moneychangers’ tables in chapter 11 were overturned not in order to cleanse but in order to enact a symbollic judgement upon the whole Temple system.

If this picture of Jesus is correct, how can he stand idly by while this poor woman is hood-winked into donating her final two pennies to the Temple treasury? How is it that his lesson from this event is that she did well? (vv. 43-44) How is it that the Lord was provoked to overturning the moneychangers’ tables, but not the collection boxes? How is it that merely watches as the Temple treasury rakes it in and gives nothing in return?

Prometheus, the movie

Enjoyable but unsatisfying; beautiful but pretentious. It is a big story told with beautiful and moving scenes. The leads all act very well, though there is a breath-taking gap between the main characters and the rest, who are two-dimensional stereotypes (probably not the fault of the actors). The minor-character scientists in particular leave me despairing of standards of higher education in the future. These guys are truly deeply madly stupid.

As for the larger tale — Continue reading

The Garden of the Mind

This short video by John Boswell is what Mr Rogers was all about, remixed and auto-tuned just so.

There are only two kinds of people on this planet:
– Those who immediately click the replay button once this video is finished
– And those who should not be allowed to take any job that has anything remotely to do with education.

– – –

“I didn’t order any whistles…” Love it.

Robes and Clergy

A former student and fellow-writer recently wrote a blog entry called “pomp and priesthood” describing how upset she was at an Anglican procession… the extravagance of the robes and costumes seemed alien to the Jesus of the gospels. She thought it repulsive and self-indulgent and could feel herself “so distracted by the colour and the pomp that I do not see the person.”

Oddly, my take on robes is exactly the opposite. My friend wrote: “Robe us all up, or none of us,” well, my understanding of robes from my Lutheranism is that’s symbolically exactly what is going on. A pastor wears a robe to say: I am not here as George, I am here in my office as a spokesperson of the congregation before God and announcing the words of God to the congregation. I do this not because George is worthy, but because I was called to this office thus I don the robes that every pastor dons to erase the distinctions of me and my clothes and my tastes and my jewellery… I’m not here as me.

I was taught that the main part of the outfit is form-fitting black, representing human fallen nature, with just a hint of white peeking through in the collar to represent that originally, under all that, we were created in God’s image. But over it all is a much more loosely-fitting white garment that represents our new nature and salvation in Christ, which has nothing to do with my own shape or efforts, but rather to do with his free gift covering us all. (Over that, often, a scarf-like cloth in a colour that has to do with the season in the liturgical year.)

Maybe I’ve got it wrong, or maybe Anglicanism is different, but I always thought the very idea was that in my pastor’s robes, we all were robed and represented, and that the clergy wore robes to play down themselves as individuals rather than to celebrate themselves.

Tinariwen : Desert Rock

I’m marking. And when I mark, I love having music that keeps me going. This time round, I’m resonating with an album called Imidiwan:Companions by Touareg band Tinariwen. It’s new to me, but was recorded in 2009. You might not like the music — the vocals in particular are an acquired taste — but isn’t this the best album cover in the world?

To avoid the vocals temporarily but get a feel for their sound, have a listen to the track they lay down in Groove in G for Playing for Change. You can listen to clips from their albums on their website.

From the Inside Out (Deut. 6:6-9)

How did it ever go so wrong that Judaism became seen as a religion of external performance? At the giving of the Law we find these verses that show God is not simply interested in external obedience. His Law was a token of his relationship with his people, and that was to be in their hearts and woven into everything they did, every conversation that they had, everywhere they went.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” says Deuteronomy 10:16. “Create in me a clean heart,” says David in Psalm 51. Judaism has always been about the heart, not just external obedience. The obedience must flow from the inside out.