Yesterday I wore my new shirt from shirt.woot: “M.C. Escher: Space Planner for Hire”.

T-shirt design by tgentry, produced by Woot!

T-shirt design by tgentry, produced by Woot!

Cool, eh?

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Tonight, prime-time broadcast TV was dominated by the presidential debate. The exception was the one channel that was running WWE Friday Night Smackdown. My question: Is there really any difference?

Presidential Debate v. WWE Smackdown
  Presidential Debate WWE Smackdown
Bitter rivalries
Macho posturing
Speeches full of personal jabs
Utterly fake

I’ll let you be the judge.

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How many times a day do you…

1. Brush your teeth?

Twice

2. Shower?

Once, occasionally twice (if I get dirty after the first).

3. Check your E-mail?

Constantly.

4. Check LJ Facebook?

At least twice, and probably too much!

5. Eat?

3 meals plus a snack or two.

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Some of you may recall that back in the Spring I was taking a class called “Technology & Assessment”—touted by the Mizzou course catalog as a class that would teach me about using technology to assess student learning. After taking “Library Use Instruction” the previous Fall and learning a little about assessment techniques, “Technology & Assessment” sounded like a good opportunity to learn more about a topic that is relevant to the part of my job that involves teaching students how to use the library. Unfortunately, Mizzou’s course catalog neglected to mention that the class was targeted specifically to K–12 teachers. It was rather frustrating to find out that little fact on the first day of class, but at least the professor was flexible and allowed me to tweak the assignments to fit my context.

For the coming Fall semester I had signed up to take “Web Application Development I”, whose catalog description begins: “Learn to develop web applications to support online learning and collaboration using Perl, PHP, or Java (student’s choice)” (emphasis added). I’ve long been interested in learning PHP, so this seemed like a great opportunity to fulfill that goal and to get credit towards my degree doing it. However, on Friday the instructor sent out an email to the entire class:

Due to an unexpected administration issue, I realized some of you might not read the proper course description. […]

In the fall 2008 course you will learn to use Asp.Net 2.0 with VB.Net or C# and MS SQL database server.

Well that’s just dandy. No choice but ASP.NET. That torpedoes half of my Fall schedule, but for future planning I replied to the instructor asking when the PHP version of the course will be offered. He replied:

I guess the course will cover php when it is fully shaped as object-oriented. Probably in a couple years.

The next language the course will use would be Java.

Wait… what?

(A) Since they don’t have any firm plans to teach PHP in the near future, why is it listed in the course description at all? False advertising I say!

(B) More importantly, how can you get away with teaching web application development without addressing PHP—one of the most widely used languages for web application development? I don’t care whether or not it’s fully object-oriented. If it’s good enough for Wikipedia, WordPress, Facebook, et al., then it deserves our attention.

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As I was closing the Library last night, I happened to notice a book laying on one of the shelves in the Bound Periodicals section. Not a big deal I thought—someone probably just set it down while looking at an article and forgot about it. As I drew closer I noticed that it was a copy of Joüon & Muraoka’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, and that it didn’t have a call number label on its spine—apparently someone’s personal copy. However, when I picked it up I started noticing some odd things about the book. Imagine a Library book where the barcode had been peeled off the back, the call number label had been cut out of the protective tape on the spine, and the ownership label had been removed from the front endsheet. That’s exactly what I was looking at. The call number was still written on the inside front cover and indicated that it was from the Reference section.

Was someone going to steal the book, but had a change of heart? Did someone “borrow” it for the semester and then return it? Who knows? You just don’t expect that sort of thing to happen around a seminary. Sure we have security gates, but they’re more to prevent people from accidentally walking out with books than to deter conscious theft. I was troubled and disturbed that someone in the Seminary community would do something like this.

However, the more I think about it, the less troubled I am. Around the Seminary, where everyone is so nice to everyone else (most of the time), it’s easy to begin believing at some level the illusion that we are good people. People out in the world may be sinful, but seminarians are righteous—or so it might seem. But that’s not the truth. Seminarians are sinners like everyone else. Although my particular struggle may not be the temptation to steal library books, I have my sins, and they are just as evil and ugly. Who am I to cast the first stone?

So, to whoever tried to make off with the Joüon-Muraoka, Christ forgives you, and so do I.

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