September 09, 2007

The Bible In A Year: Day 9 (January 9th)

Follow-up to The Bible In A Year: Day 8 (January 8th) from The Utovsky Bolshevik Show

The reading for January 9th is Genesis 23-24 and Romans 8:22-39.

Genesis

Chapter 23

In this chapter, Sarah (Abraham's wife) died.  He asked the Hittites, among whom he was living, to ask one of their number, Ephron, to sell him a cave at the end of a field as a burial site. Ephron's response is:

11 "No, my lord," he said. "Listen to me; I give  you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead."

Abraham goes on to insist that he pay the full price.  Ephron gives him a price (while continuing to insist he take it as a gift) and Abraham pays him.

While on the surface this may look like Ephron is being exceedingly kind to Abraham, he's really just taking advantage of his grief to squeeze money out of him.  Additionally, having bought the entire field, Abraham has become responsible for the taxes due on it, further inconveniencing him.

Chapter 24

2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."

An odd way of sealing a promise, my NIV study notes tell me that the proximity to his 'organ of procreation' is probably due to the promise being related to his offspring.  Why doesn't Abraham want his son to marry a Canaanite?

6 "Make sure that you do not take my son back there," Abraham said. 7 "The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land'--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

Abraham still displays a tremendous amount of faith in the Lord.  It would also seem that this is an arranged marriage, which is not something that is done by Christians now.

42 "When I came to the spring today, I said, 'O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 

It is interesting to note that Abraham's chief servant does not consider Abraham's god to be his own.

In the remainder of the passage, Abraham's servant goes to Abraham's people and finds a girl named Rebekah.  He brings her back and she marries Isaac.

Romans

Chapter 8

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

The gift of tongues?

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Does this mean that only a chosen few are ever going to be saved?  Has God already made a decision as to who will be saved?  I think, rather, that this passage means that God already knows who is going to choose to be saved, as he is outside of time.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

We should never be discouraged.  God has given the greatest sacrifice of all and will be glad to graciously give us lesser things that will help us spread the Good News.


Vim Omnicomplete Awesomeness

I just discovered, through jerbear in #python, the omnicomplete feature in Vim 7. This is something that I’ve been idly in hope of for ages, and to discover it actually exists in Vim already is awesome (hence the title).

omnicomplete searches through any files you’ve imported (including Python library modules) and completes names you might possibly want to use:

To do this requires the rather awkward0 key combination of Ctrl-X, Ctrl-O. After much effort1, I rebound the key combination so Ctrl-Space will work as well. This requires the addition of the line “inoremap <Nul> <C-x><C-o>” to your .vimrc2. This doesn’t work for the graphical Vim, where you will probably want ‘C-space’ instead of ‘Nul’ (though I can’t be sure).

Everyone may already be aware of this, but for those who aren’t, check it out!




0 And strangely Emacs-y.

1 Thanks again to jerbear, as well as \amethyst and Heptite in #vim.

2 Or the use of the command “:inoremap <Nul> <C-x><C-o>” when within Vim.


The Bible In A Year: Day 8 (January 8th)

Follow-up to The Bible In A Year: Day 7 (January 7th) from The Utovsky Bolshevik Show

Thanks to my strange sleeping patterns of the last few days, this is once again late. As before, I won’t make notes and the actual reading for today will follow later (probably after church).

The reading for January 8th is Genesis 20-22 and Romans 8:1-21.


September 08, 2007

The Union Fails

Earlier today, the new SSDO (Tom Lindsay) sent out, to all execs, an email containing some information that we needed to know before term began. This information was contained within 5 attached Word documents, totalling 1.3MB.

Yes, 1.3MB.

Now, this wouldn’t necessarily have been a problem apart from the fact that I had a huge amount to read before term started. However, to save myself and the rest of the Christian Focus exec some inbox space, I decided to copy the contents of the attached Word documents into a plain-text format email and resend it around. It should be noted that this was not a problem, there was absolutely nothing of importance that wasn’t text. So, having received this email from mailman, I noticed that it was 11KB in size.

Yes, 11KB.

Or, to put it another way, three orders of magnitude smaller than the original email had been. To put it yet another way, 1.33% of my mostly full SquirrelMail inbox gone (as opposed to the 0.001% the plain text version is now using). Around 1.3MB of the original 1.3MB email was of absolutely no use to anybody.

Naturally, I wasn’t best pleased about this, so I sent an email to the SSDO saying so. In response, he told me that the majority of the size came from the logos that each Word document contained, a KPMG one and the Student Union one. Each of these logos comes to 111KB. Repeated ten times. Not only this, but they weren’t even being used at their full size. A resized image could be a tenth the size of that and still retain all the requisite quality.

In Tom’s defence, he has now adjusted the size of the logos, so there should be less of a problem next time.

In my original email, I also commented that a Word document shouldn’t be used unless genuinely needed. Tom responded saying that Word documents were the most effective way of disseminating this information. This opinion is entirely unacceptable given the fact that the Union should not be forcing us to either use a proprietary program (which is only available for a proprietary operating system) or use a sub-optimal implementation of the format (which I know was breaking the documents sent).

Not only is it unacceptable, but it is unfounded. There are a number of Free alternatives which could be used, as well as several alternative and open standards. The Union has chosen not to use these programs or formats for reasons best known to themselves, but they are disadvantaging the people they are formed for, their members.

Tom then moved on to address the case for the emails containing images at all. Regarding the KPMG one he said:

Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that Societies Federation has a contract with KPMG for us to include their (specified) logo on all of our society content and publicity (be that to students or to execs).

While I understand the need for funding, I do not see why this image cannot be attached to a plain text email. Or even referenced in an HTML email, which would save even more inbox space (though at the expense of bandwidth). Tom then goes on to say:

The Societies Federation logo is there for obvious reasons, because this is the branding of the Societies Federation, for which there is a huge business case.

I find it hard to believe that there is a business case for branding SocsFed emails to exec members only. We’re well aware that they exist, they give us the money. This is more inbox space used for absolutely no reason.

I replied as such to Tom, who quickly responded with the following:

With regards to the comments about the Word Documents, I can only go on the experience and wisdom of my predecessors, the combined, refined and distilled expertise of whom has been responsible for disseminating information to society execs via email for ten years or more. The simple fact is that a large proportion of the people that I am sending this information to do not read unformatted emails or documents of the length that mine would have to have been! I entirely agree that this should not be the case, for the good of the societies themselves, but this is unfortunately the reality of the situation and I only wish that every exec was made up of people as responsive and conscientious as yourself.

You’ll note I left in the compliment to myself at the end. :D

I’m still not entirely happy about the situation that the Union is putting us in, and am considering the best way to go about resolving this.


September 07, 2007

Measuring Activity on Planet WUGLUG

Follow-up to Activity on Planet WUGLUG from The Utovsky Bolshevik Show

Having posted this earlier, I decided that historical statistics would be a good idea. An afternoon of wrestling with gnuplot and a hacky Python script later has left me with this graph which should update at 5 minutes past every hour (as the planet updates on every hour).

There’s also http://oddbloke.uwcs.co.uk/planet/stats which gives the latest count and http://oddbloke.uwcs.co.uk/planet/history which is what the graph is generated from.


The Bible In A Year: Day 7 (January 7th)

Follow-up to The Bible In A Year: Day 6 (January 6th) from The Utovsky Bolshevik Show

Having finally found somewhere quiet in the house, the reading for today is Genesis 18-19 and Romans 7.

Genesis

To bring you up to date, in yesterday’s passage Abram was renamed to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. Abraham slept with Sarah’s servant (with Sarah’s permission), who then ran away. She came back and had a child who was named Ishmael0. Abraham was told that he would have a son by Sarah (to be called Isaac) and that God’s promise to Abraham would come true through Isaac, not Ishmael.

Chapter 18

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.

Is this normal hospitality on Abraham’s part or is it immediately obvious that this is God (with some angels)?

10 Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Abraham and Sarah are finally given a timeframe for when God’s promise will come true.

20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

God declares his intent for Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham. In the following verses, Abraham asks the Lord if he will destroy the city if there are fifty righteous people found, which God says he will not. Abraham then asks about forty-five righteous people. Abraham argues God down to ten people, when he stops.

It should be noted that Abraham stopped of his own accord, God did not stop him. Would God have refrained altogether if Abraham had asked him to? There’s also an interesting parallel between this and the fact that God, through Jesus’ acts in the New Testament, has agreed not to destroy all in the world because of just a single righteous man, Jesus himself. However, this does bring up questions about God being unchanging. We see him explicitly changing his mind several times in this passage. How is this compatible with the view that God is unchanging?

On a slightly different note, during this discourse Abraham says:

25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

God does not reprimand Abraham for speaking to him such. What effect should this have on how we pray? Should we tell God what he should and shouldn’t do, according to what he’s promised in the Bible? In my opinion, this is a clear example of an intercessory prayer being answered. Abraham is arguing with God on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Chapter 19

To remove any suspense, the heading of this part of the chapter in the NIV is ‘Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed’.

In the first three verses of this passage, Lot (who you will remember lives in Sodom) convinces the two angels who were with God when he met with Abraham to stay in his house for the night. By verse 5, Sodomites have surrounded the house and, true to the nature suggested by the use of that word contemporarily:

5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot, surprisingly enough, refuses and then responds:

8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

This is a function of the insane levels of hospitality required of people in these times.

As a result of this exchange, and the actions of the crowd afterward, the angels come to the conclusion that this city is not worth saving.

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

Though God has evidently not found the ten righteous people Abraham pleaded for, he still wants to save the few righteous people that have been found.

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

An all-too-common response to the Christian message contemporarily, though you can certainly understand why. However, reading to the end of this passage does suggest that this isn’t the best of responses…

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

This suggests that Abraham’s concern with God’s plan to destroy Sodom was mostly related to Lot, which was probably the case. God didn’t answer Abraham’s direct prayer but he did answer the underlying problem. The answers to prayer don’t always come in the form we expect…

In the last part of the passage, Lot’s daughters get him drunk, sleep with him (as their husbands-to-be were left back in Sodom) and get pregnant. They give birth to Moab and Ben-Ammi, the fathers of the Moabites and Ammonites, who were later to be bitter enemies of Israel. This is also the first incest in the Bible1.

Romans

Chapter 7

1 Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?
4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Christians are not bound to follow the Jewish law.

5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.

Paul seems to be suggesting that the law caused the sin. In a sense it did, as right from the Garden of Eden, human nature has been to do that which is forbidden.

Paul goes on to say that it is our sinful nature that causes us to sin, even if we do not want to.

0 Ishmael is, in the Islamic tradition, an ancestor of Muhammed’s and a prophet. He was also the son who Abraham is later ordered to sacrifice.

1 Or, if you take the first part of Genesis literally, the first explicit incest in the Bible, as Adam and Eve’s children must necessarily have had incestuous relations for us to all be here now.


Activity on Planet WUGLUG

I have noticed that, recently, my activity on Planet WUGLUG has seemed to far exceed anybody elses. I wrote a script to check and, yes, yes it is. Results below (excluding, obviously, this one).

Covbob: 4
Antz: 2
Planar Platypus: 11
Fred: 3
Lamby: 7
Tim: 7
Benji: 2
Laurence: 3
Faux: 2
Mulletron: 2
Silver: 2
Odd_Bloke: 22


The Bible In A Year: Day 6 (January 6th)

Follow-up to The Bible In A Year: Day 5 (January 5th) from The Utovsky Bolshevik Show

The reading for January 6th is Genesis 16-17 and Romans 6.

As this reading is late, I’m not going to write notes about it. Today’s reading proper will follow some time this afternoon or evening.


September 06, 2007

The Good Die Young (1954)

Title:
The Good Die Young
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Just watched my first full film on Film Four, ‘The Good Die Young’.

This is an solidly made film noir about three downtrodden men lead astray by a deranged playboy. Each of these four characters has a wife, giving a rich tapestry of stories which never become overwhelming. John Ireland (playing Eddie Blaine) gives a particularly strong performance amongst an entire ensemble of strong performances.

The direction of the whole piece is excellent, if not exceptional, with absolutely no intrusion from unnecessary camera movement. This combined with a good script lead to a very absorbing experience.

Definitely recommended.


No Australians On The Internet

Writing about web page http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.cms.launchpad.user/1993

Reading Hobbsee’s signoff in this email and given some of the discussion in #launchpad recently brought to mind the phrase:

There are no Australians on the Internet! Pics of Sydney harbour or GTFO!

At least I amuse myself. That is all.


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