The man with the cricket bat

What’s your comfort food movie? I have a lot of them – I tend to buy a copy. Tonight I’m watching Shaun of the Dead. Sometimes I think that Simon Pegg is the greatest living British actor. Certainly he’s the the man to solve post-apocalyptic British problems. Anyone who can wield a cricket bat against the undead is high on my list!
“The mobile dead” is one of the greatest Politically Correct phrases of all time. Watch the whole movie.

Economists and historians

It is hardly surprising, then, that the bond market is quailing. For only on Planet Econ-101 (the standard macroeconomics course drummed into every US undergraduate) could such a tidal wave of debt issuance exert “no upward pressure on interest rates”.
Of course, Mr Krugman knew what I meant. “The only thing that might drive up interest rates,” he acknowledged during our debate, “is that people may grow dubious about the financial solvency of governments.” Might? May? The fact is that people – not least the Chinese government – are already distinctly dubious.

Niall Ferguson can’t resist pointing out that he, the historian, was right and that Paul Krugman was not. I can’t blame him.

Toys

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I have two new toys this month. Yes, I gave in to the blandishments of the iPhone (and two years of being offered one for Christmas!). I also have a coffee maker so complicated I needed to read the instructions – also a gift.
I am finally beginning to love the iPhone. Tonight I downloaded the Google app and tried the voice activation. I searched for “Cranky Professor.” On the first try I got “Assessor.” Oh, well. The second try got me here. AND I have reception in Houghton House, which I never had with my previous phone (which the local AT&T folks assured me was the phone’s fault, not theirs).
When I left my subletters instructions I told them the coffeemaker was on its last legs. It died while I was gone, as they informed me by email. One of my friends, a woman who manages to always win a prize if she buys a raffle ticket but won’t buy a lottery ticket so we can retire and cultivate our gardens brought me a Cuisinart DGB-900 coffee maker. She’s a tea drinker and had won it in a raffle.
Some of you may remember my struggles with my Mother’s demon-possessed Cuisinart. This one, so far, is a Christian coffee maker. It does do grinding, but you don’t need to clean the grinder assembly more than once a week! The filter assembly is bizarro and makes clicky noises while it adjusts itself – but so far, so good!
Best of all – it has a 12 cup (you know, coffee cups, not real cups) capacity! I may have to buy one for Mother for Christmas.

Yes, I see that the picture is sideways. I’d reorient it, but you might have noticed that I am not blogging assiduously lately. I’m actually more interested in getting back to Beryl Smalley’s Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (a work with a synoptic scope – I don’t think it has been replaced yet, and certainly not by anything nearly so readable) than figure out what I’ve done wrong here. I think that’s probably a good thing.

Megan McArdle on the NYT Reporter and his Bankruptcy Book

Megan reads the NYT magazine excerpt from a forthcoming book on debt by a NYT business correspondent. She sympathizes.
Megan reads the book – questions mount.
Megan hears something about personal bankruptices. What, the 2nd wife wasn’t so fiscally nice? Megan does legwork.
It’s worth reading them in order. Miss McArdle is a very sympathetic person. I had lunch with her last week and we compared notes on all kinds of things personal, world-phenomenal, and gadgetical. I trust her to read things carefully and say interesting things about them, which she did from the first installment. The most recent entry, though, starts to ask really unfortunate questions – and her comments are harsher.
Few of us have room to cast even third stones – but few of us have the nerve to write a book blaming our cracked glass walls on the world financial crisis.

Textbook Query

Yes, I’m late on this. I’m still on sabbatical until July 1 anyway!
So I’m choosing. I need to use a Bible* for European Studies 101 and for Art 270, the first half of Medieval.
I am relatively indifferent to versions / editions. I don’t use anything not in Protestant versions in these courses, so they can use almost anything. I would like the book to be inexpensive and legible. I don’t really care if it has good study notes or how the poetry sounds when read aloud (I’ll bring in xeroxes of multiple versions of the Psalms we read, anyway).
The last time I taught 270 there was no course in Religious Studies that semester requiring a Bible (someone ordered the big Tanakh for one of the courses in Judaic studies, but that was as close as they got). I can not depend on the nominally Christian students having their own copies (you know, I found out I couldn’t depend on the nice young ladies at Agnes Scott to have brought their Bibles from home, either).
Last time I used a paperback Jerusalem Bible that is out of print – or at least I can’t find it. The book store carries a paperback King James Version in their trade section – that’s almost unusable for modern students not raised with it.
Any ideas??
*Please don’t tell me I need to say “Christian Bible.” The things used by Jews have names other than “Bible.”

One of the hazards of college life in the Finger Lakes

Graduation was – brrrrrr – cold, but satisfying! Most of the Rome crew from last year was graduating, so I had lots of people to wave at and cheer for – and a lot of parents to meet.

But I’m back. I’m still tired, somehow, and still living out of suitcases! I’m starting with an empty closet and I’m still thinking about how to rearrange it to make it less a disaster zone and more a finely tuned storage machine.

Talk about an activity fee!

The mayor of Providence wants to tax Brown students directly.

The mayor of Providence wants to slap a $150-per-semester tax on the 25,000 full-time students at Brown University and three other private colleges in the city, saying they use resources and should help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers.
Mayor David Cicilline (sis-ah-LEEN-ee) said the fee would raise between $6 million and $8 million a year for the city, which is facing a $17 million deficit.
If enacted, it would apparently be the first time a U.S. city has directly taxed students just for being enrolled.

Of course the students’ excuse that they spend money in Providence is true of people who have established legal residence in Providence, too. This will be interesting!

Santa Rosa Junior College is run by someone better suited to disapproving of the tshirts worn by high school students

There. I took the institution’s name in vain. SRJC has threatened students who use the school’s name or initials in private communications.

The school officials still don’t see why it’s a big deal that they’re threatening students. However, their reasoning makes very little sense. “The reason for it is so the college doesn’t get misrepresented in some way or make it look like the college is endorsing a product or issue,” according to Santa Rosa Junior College President Robert Agrella. But that makes no sense. If a student uses an actual address from the university, wouldn’t that risk be much greater? In other words, does the college really think that it’s a bigger risk for someone to say something that the college does not endorse from nameSRCJ@gmail.com or name@santarosa.edu? Because it seems fine with the latter, but not the former. The whole thing smacks of college administrators who don’t understand technology and have way too much free time on their hands.

“School officials” never do – but more typically they’re high school officials who don’t understand freedom of speech.

Front page story on Metal Detectorists in the Washington Post!

The Washington Post has a front page story today (guess things are slow the Monday after Mother’s Day?) on metal detectorists in England – very nicely done! The author explains the problems American archaeologists have with metal detectorists clearly* but makes the advantages of the 1996 legal changes pretty clear.


While archaeologists in many countries, including the United States, disparage amateurs like Eveleigh, Britain embraces them. Last year alone, 4,300 metal detectorists reported tens of thousands of finds: Bronze Age axes, Roman brooches and hairpins, medieval candlesticks and swords, and thousands of other relics.
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Before museum archaeologists began working with metal detector enthusiasts a decade ago, only about 25 reported discoveries annually met the official definition of “treasure” — the most rare finds, which include gold and silver caches more than 300 years old. Every year since, that number has soared, hitting 802 last year.
“The collections in our museums would be thinner without the detectorists’ finds,” said Roger Bland, head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum in London, as he pointed out jewelry, coins and other displays found by weekend warriors combing fields for fun.

*I, of course, think that people who have such a thin history have to preserve it more jealously than people who, say, have a LOT of history! But part of their problem is that archaeologists have to be control freaks to excel at their work.