accessing scholarly articles

I must admit I do not understand the publishing world. Aside from the astronomical prices for books from some publishing houses, there are some even more perplexing pricing models out there. Today I followed a link to a four page book review in Dead Sea Discoveries which took me to ingentaconnect where I can purchase this review for a “mere” $35.00.

By way of contrast, I can buy the entire book which was reviewed — Fitzmeyer’s 248 page A Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Do They Matter? The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Short History, for around $20.00 (including delivery) from a number of major book sellers.

Now Robert Holmstedt is an excellent scholar, but I have to draw the line at paying more for a short review than for the entire book under review! It is difficult to see how organisations like ingentaconnect are serving the scholarly community.

language and worldview

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times discussing the possible impact language has on perception. These ideas clearly have some relevance to the translation and understanding of biblical texts, but there is also some danger in proposing speculative interpretations based on the perceived significance of distinctive characteristics of Hebrew.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time dubious appeals to ancient Hebrew thought have been used to justify idiosyncratic interpretations.

indecision 2010

Ballot papers
Image by haikugirlOz via Flickr

The election appears to be over. Well, the voting part of it. But now we’re faced with a hung parliament and the horse trading with the independents and Greens as one or the other major party seeks to form a government. It suggests to me that the label assigned by the Sydney Morning Herald (and others) of “Decision 2010” ought to be replaced by “Indecision 2010.”

It also reminded me just how difficult voting is — there are so many candidates I’d really like to be able to place last on the ballot papers!

pedantic peeves

I just felt compelled to make some pedantic observations.

most movies are 3D
All the old movies, including black and white ones, were 3D. On the other hand, movies in which you are required to wear special spectacles are 4D, not 3D. They record three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension. The “old” movies displayed in two spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension, hence they were 3D.

“Smart” quotes and the single apostrophe problem:
Apostrophes are used to abbreviate. Apostrophes, when not written as small vertical marks, should appear with the concave side to the left, no matter whether they are at the beginning of a word or at the end. Unfortunately, programs like Microsoft Word, when they implement what they call “smart quotes” exhibit their utter failure at being smart when it comes to the use of apostrophes. Consequently we all-too-often will see abbreviations as follows:

‘10 for 2010

Of course it should be:

’10 for 2010

This mistake happens just about everywhere. Take a stand!

junk mail carbon sequestration

Well, Christmas has passed for another year. Has it helped the climate? Well, perhaps it has: in the 8 weeks prior to Christmas we received over 6kg of junk mail. Here is our weekly allotment:

How has this helped the climate? Well, assuming that most of the junk mail is paper, and most of the paper is cellulose (i.e. (C6H10O5)n), then we could suppose that the junk mail is about 40% carbon. So our junk mail before Christmas amounted to about 2.4kg of carbon. Now in Sydney there are over 1.5 million households. Now if each of those averaged the same, that’s 3,600 tonnes of carbon safely stored away in junk mail ;-).

library woes

First, a warning: this is primarily an opportunity to vent my frustrations.library

I visited Australia’s largest theological library this week, hoping to look up some material and photocopy a few pages. Theological resources down-under are not as extensive as they are in other parts of the world, but this particular library has most of what I need and, indeed, most of what I was after this time.

However, after collecting material to photocopy, my problems began. I had a library photocopier card issued previously by the library which should have contained some credit, but in the period since my previous visit they had “upgraded” the photocopiers so that they link into a computer system which maintains user accounts to which a user can apply credit for photocopying.

This means it is no longer possible to walk in off the street and copy something. Instead, you first register as a visitor on the system (a one-off process since the registration details are retained for future use). This process, however, appears to involve a number of servers passing information back and forth and the applications are, I was told, processed at set times. Exacerbating the problem appears to be the fact that the entire network is dreadfully slow taking minutes to open some web pages. Once the application is made, the user waits for it to wend its way through the network to the computer it needs to get to. Even when there, it isn’t yet ready to have credit for copying applied — that’s an additional wait. Once credit is purchased, there’s another delay while the computers process that.

Before this process finished my schedule demanded that I could wait no longer. My solution was to photograph the pages I needed using my mobile phone (this actually worked quite well and certainly was less troublesome in the long run).

Nonetheless, the experience left me a little annoyed. What happens if one of the servers goes down? Does nobody get to photocopy anything? Seems like the technology is making life more and more difficult. Next time I’ll just take a camera and avoid the copiers altogether. And if I need to access online databases, I’ll walk down the Fisher Library at Sydney Uni…