20 November 2004


I have found myself liking a fairly new journal of religion and society, The New Pantagruel

I’m a self-described iconoclastic liberal.  I find myself more
interested, in the end, in intelligence than in the underlying politics
of what I read.  It’s why I am not attracted to blogs like DailyKos
— I’ve met and talked with Kos, and he’s intelliegent, but the blog
puts service to partisan ends above intelligent discussion and
argument.  I may want to check it every so often, but I can’t read
it with any regularity.  And since there’s so much choice on the
interweb-thingy, I spedn my reading energies elsewhere.

Pantagruel has shown up fairly recently, in the last few months or
so.  And I have to admit that any blog that gets endorsement from
Christianity Today would probably be something that I would normally
steer clear of, as CT all too often puts service to ideology above
intelligent, questioning thought.  (This is at least true in the
print version of the CT mag.  Books and Culture,
however, provides the exception to the general CT rule; there you’ll
find intelligent argument, questioning of some received dogmas, and
such.  Less fear, more thought.)

Pantagruel offers intelligent thinking on religion and society. 
It purports to be sort of from the conservative side of the political
and religious playground, but my examination of it over the last few
days indicates that thinking is more important than ideological
subservience.  It’s intelligent and questioning in the same way The Revealer
is.  And the editors actually shy away from explicit statement of
political or religious creed, preferring to let the reader make his or
her own judgement.  Refreshing out there in a journal of religion
and society.  So take a look….

Posted in OnTheWeb on 20 November 2004 at 11:13 am by Nate
18 November 2004

I love search engines

Someone in the last few hours did a Yahoo search on “Coco Chanel
Ethical Values.”  This blog came up as the first and second

That’s fantastic.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 18 November 2004 at 10:17 pm by Nate
17 November 2004

More electoral map madness

A couple of days ago, I posted a map with a linear red-blue scale of the election results.  Now a group at the University of Michigan has created a population-weighted version of that map.  Take a look at this map and more at their site.

Posted in Politicks on 17 November 2004 at 11:52 am by Nate

State of academic work

is a great article from the Guardian in the UK, detailing the work
environment many of us find ourselves living with in academia

The situation looks broadly similar in the US, except that one can
actually get tenure here (although not at Harvard), which may reduce a
few of the pressures.  But not until one gets tenure.

This outlines some of the problems rather well:

“Every job comes with its own internal psychological
contract,” Kinman says. “The deal that most academics make with
themselves when they enter the profession is that they will be trading
a lower salary for greater autonomy and flexibility.

“When they discover that not only are the pressures as intense – if not
more so – than in other professions, but that much of their workload
has been reduced to bureaucracy, they feel cheated that the contract
has been violated. They are in effect mourning the loss of the job they
thought they had.”

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at
Lancaster University and a leading researcher into work-related stress,
says: “People have this view that academics are people who have long
holidays, teach a bit and then play with some research,” he says.

“People don’t have sympathy for us. They will have sympathy for doctors
and nurses. Who trains the doctors? We do. Who trains the nurses, the
social workers, the teachers? We do. Who trains all the people they
worry about? Us. These attitudes add to the problem. We don’t perceive
ourselves to be valued.”

Life as an academic is as hard as any other
profession.  I may only spend 5 hours a week “teaching”, but I
have at least that amount of prep time, grading (more if a big paper
comes in), and a couple more hours a week in student contact. 
Then there’s my own research to do.  And I live with another

One of the major reasons I chose the profession was to have the
latitude to do what I want to do, even if there’s a lot of work in
it.  If we lose that, we’ll lose many academics.  If I got
bogged down in campus bureaucracy, I’d certainly think about finding a
new way to use my doctorate.  And I don’t think I am the only one
of my colleagues who feels this way.

Posted in IvoryTower on 17 November 2004 at 9:55 am by Nate
15 November 2004

U2 soon

Only seven more days of waiting.

Tensions between intellect and passion, and between pragmatism and
faith, drive the songs on “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”; so do
burly guitar riffs, galvanizing crescendos and fearlessly emotional
vocals. The album easily stands alongside the best work of U2’s career
– “Boy,” “War,” “The Joshua Tree” and “Achtung Baby” – and, song for
song, it’s more consistent than any of them….

U2 is almost alone now among rock bands in its determination to merge
lofty ambition and pop impact. With songs that determinedly blur divine
and earthly love, seeking grace as often as romance, the band doesn’t
pander to vulgar impulses….

As usual, the songs don’t bother with petty topics: Bono sings about
mortality, the meaning of life, social justice, fame, science and the
heroic intimacy of love….

Bono: “To have faith in a time of religious fervor is a worry. And, you know,
I do have faith, and I’m worried about even the subject because of the
sort of fanaticism that is the next-door neighbor of faith. The trick
in the next few years will be not to decry the religious instinct, but
to accept that this is a hugely important part of people’s lives. And
at the same time to be very wary of people who believe that theirs is
the only way. Unilateralism before God is dangerous.”

Posted in RmAuNsDiOnMg on 15 November 2004 at 8:43 pm by Nate
14 November 2004

The ten states of the United States

Robert David Sullivan, over at MassINC, does really interesting stuff
with political geography.  A while back, you might have seen his
map that divided the country into ten different geographic regions
(some non-contiguous), to describe the state of the electorate.  He’s
updated it to take account of the latest election results and written
an article about how the election returns show the country still very
much in a state of flux
.  If the following piques your attention, then read the whole thing:

George W. Bush can now claim a clear victory in
the popular vote for president, thanks in large part to people
in and around New York City. But the president got no re-election
mandate from the citizens of Savannah, Ga.

Posted in Politicks on 14 November 2004 at 10:28 pm by Nate

Gays in the heartland

Here’s a story about how it might change.  (Need Washington Post access, but just use bugmenot.com,
and you don’t have to register.  And if you use Firefox, there’s
an extension that’ll automate most of the BugMeNot process.)  Mind
you, he’s still regarded as sinful for being gay, but the fact that his
community rallied around him is a sign of significant progress, and
hopefully they’ll get further sooner rather than later.

This kid was lucky, but I’d like to think that his luck will be more common in the future.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 14 November 2004 at 6:14 pm by Nate
13 November 2004

Free iPod

I have wanted an iPod for some while now.  And this site will help me get one, as well as set you on the way to getting one, too.

This, amazingly, is legit.  The local student paper checked it out, and some of my students have actually gotten their iPods.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 13 November 2004 at 1:00 pm by Nate
12 November 2004

I hate to thank God, but thank God

My people are slowing down the push
If it’s true that there’s a backlash against gays, then perhaps to
consolidate the gains so far and to maximize the gains fo the future,
we need to move a tad more slowly right now.

Look, justice and history are on our side.  We will overcome one day.

Posted in Politicks on 12 November 2004 at 9:01 am by Nate

Everything you wanted to know about elections

At least, the legitimate stuff.  No rumors of stolen elections here.  Electionline.org
has incredible amounts of information on a city-level basis for all
over the country, in addition to reporting on all sorts of aspects of
potential fraud (or not).

Posted in Politicks on 12 November 2004 at 8:57 am by Nate