Friday, August 31, 2012

Tekton. 4.0 -- or is it 5.0?

In a few weeks, the Tekton website will begin the process of what I think is its 4th -- or 5th -- facelift in the last 14 years. (See link to TWeb thread below to discuss, and see the samples.)

Inevitably, when the time comes to do this sort of thing, I do it with an overhanging and perpetual sigh of resignation.

Oh...fads are changing again? That's only what, the 134th time in the last 4 years?

For a bit of fun, go to the Wayback Machine and pick any website. Watch how it has changed over the years. I'm sure each time a change was made, it was thought that THIS time, we've got a design that is more efficient, more user-friendly, more up to date. The users will love it.

And I'm sure they did -- for at least a week. 

These days the rage is menus with tabs. I've been assured by some that THIS is more intuitive and easier to use than what I have now. I'm sure in 7 years, when Tekton 6.0 looms, I'll be assured that it's time to dump the clumsy and out of date menu tabs for something else, which probably will get a start on Justin Bieber's fansite.

Inevitably as well, what happens with these things is that we have a cycle of streamlining, and bloating, and streamlining again: Alternate demands to simplify the site so that dangit, we can find things easier; and then, demands to put MORE on the pages so that dadgumit, we can actually find out what your site has. Streamline, bloat. Streamline, bloat.

That's why I don't revamp the site often. In some ways it seems to be an exercise in futility. The dictum goes that you can't please everyone, and in today's Net-imbibed society, where attention spans have all the duration of a flashbulb, it's closer to, you can't please anyone, at least for more than 30 seconds.

As am information science guy, I went through school using databases that worked like Google, and were so dull looking that today's surfer would recoil in horror and pelt their screen with tomatoes. And of course, I still know how to use a card catalog (gasp). Which leads me to wonder: Is the problem with the websites -- or with the users? (Or maybe both at times!)

Ah well. Have a peek and give some feedback if you like. If all goes well, I'll start the transition on October 1.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Feser on Harsh Language

This week started out with a bummer. No, not Tropical Storm Isaac, which has given us nothing we haven't seen any other summer afternoon in Central Florida. Rather, my modem decided to blow up over the weekend and I spent several hours getting and installing a new one (which include being on the line with customer service before I knew a replacement was needed).

Anyway, to keep work on pace, I'll use this week's Forge entry to provide some reader-suggested links in which we find discussions of Edward Feser's commentary on the use of harsh language. A lot of it sounds hauntingly like what I've been saying for a while now.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Storage Wars Parody Contest: Answers

Here's the answer key to the Storage Wars Jerusalem contest last week. All answers left to right.

1:49 Peter Breitbart, who appeared in several vids; any of those titles are acceptable. Crazypills2 the Clown, who also appeared in several vids.

1:55 Unnamed lady robot (though I used the working name of Sephia) who appeared in four vids related to cosmology. Gilligan and the Pett Bomber, from Rescue from Pett Bomber Island. Obelix, appeared in Tacitus Says Christ Mythers Have Gaul.

2:01 Batman, appeared in Did the Bible Blunder 3. ReligionFreeDeist in his jackass costume, from Plumber Under Pressure.

2:10 Bart Ehrman, who has appeared in dozens of vids. Faith, from Paul's Angels: Faith. Cult of Dusty, from ForBibleTruth and Cultof Dusty Hammered by the Historians.

2:25 Pres. Bartlett from President Bartlett Gets Pared.

2:32 Dorothy from Penn and Teller's Bible Bull Ripped. William Lane Craig from Dawkins' Dodge.

2:38 Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins from Thunderf00t’s Strategic Assessment (Dawkins has appeared in others as well).

2:41 Ray Comfort from If Ray Comfort Were a Fundamentalist Atheist.

3:12 Dr. E from Dr. E: Jesus vs Attis (or Osiris would be acceptable).

3:18 Norman Geisler from Geisler's Christmas Carol or Rise of the Ehrmanator. ChristianRoadWarrior from WYTW Raw: ProfMTH and violently graceful Lose Their Job

3:30 Unnamed elephant from The Tale of Jephthah. DarkMatter2525 from several vids, though he has only appeared in that form in Dark Doesn't Matter.

3:35 Mike Licona from Geisler's Christmas Carol.

3:45 Unnamed Borg from Social Concepts 4: Submit to the Collective. Kittenkitoko from Jephthah in the Hot Seat or Dawkins' Ironic Hypocrisy.

3;58 Joan from Social Concept 3: Shame vs Guilt. Unnamed guy from Wah Wah World 4.

4:03 Unnamed clown from Plumber Under Pressure.

4:09 Unnamed bull from Who Authored Luke-Acts? Thessalonians 2 from The Man Who Wrote THAT!

4:50 Troi from Why is the Man's Head Shiny? or Submit to the Collective.

4:59 Penn from Penn and Teller Bible Bull Ripped. Scram Man, from several vids. Barry the atheist from Symphathizes with Wolves.

5:08 Count Blarg from Did the Bible Blunder 3. Unnamed assistant to Confucius from Be a Moron Onto Others.

5:12 Sheila from The Great Bombini.

Office from Tryouts for the Trinity.

Bartimaeus healing scene from Social Concepts 2.

Dumpster scene from Plumber Under Pressure.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Storage Wars Jerusalem: Contest

As a celebration of our 200th vid, our 201st vid, Storage Wars Jerusalem, features a special contest.

I needed a lot of "extras" for this vid, and after getting started on it, it occurred to me that I had all the "extras" I needed already -- in the first 200 vids.

To participate in the contest, viewers must identify the background "extras" specified below (plus three backgrounds), by indicating which of the prior 200 TektonTV vids they appeared in. You do not have to identify the characters by name (some were not given names, anyway). All you have to do is give the title of the vid they were in (e.g., "Beat the Bible Scholar," or "Storage Wars Jerusalem").

For clarity, we are giving below the time locations in the vid of what characters the viewers must identify. Please note that some characters have appeared in more than one vid. In those cases, participants need only identify one of the vids.

Participants should send their entries to me at no later than Tuesday, August 20, at 8 AM Eastern Time. The first to correctly identify all characters as specified will receive free copies of all the Tekton resource materials of their choosing below, in either hard copy or electronic format as specified, and/or as can be provided according to available shipping/receipt options:

Shattering the Christ Myth (hard copy)
Trusting the New Testament (e-copy)
Defending the Resurrection (e-copy)
The Mormon Defenders (hard copy)
What in Hell is Going On? (electronic copy)
The Atonement Contextualized (electronic copy, to be released September 2012)

The first place winner may also choose a lifetime subscription to the Tekton E-Block ezine.

The second and third contestants to submit a correct list will receive a hard copy of The Mormon Defenders, plus one other resource from the above of their choosing.

We will use the next Forge post to announce results/winners and contest answers. Contestants will be given a chance to "correct" any wrong answers, but they will be placed "at the back of the line" when they submit again. Also, if no one successfully identifies all the characters, we’ll award to whoever gets the most right.

Have fun -- and thank you for watching TektonTV!
Contest subject time starts at 01:50 of the vid. You do NOT have to identity characters from before that time.

1:50 the two characters with Price.
1:55 the three characters with Acharya (exclude Shelly Squirrel from the Miss Dusters series -- that one's a "gimme")
2:02 the two characters with Brown.
2:10 the three characters with Huller.
2:26 the character on Brown’s right.
2:32 the two characters with Price.
2:38 the two characters with Huller.
2:43 the character to Acharya’s left.
3:12 single character.
3:19 two characters with Price.
3:32 two characters with Huller.
3:36 character who exits left. The one on the right is TektonTV viewer jfrontier1, who won the appearance by answering a question about a prior vid correctly.
3:45 two characters with Acharya.
4:00 two characters with Brown.
4:04 one character with Price.
4:09 two characters with Acharya.
4:52 one character with Acharya.
4:58 three characters with Brown.
5:09 two characters with Brown.
5:12 one character with Price.
5:56 Identify the vid the office background came from.
9:12 Identify the vid this scene came from.
11:11 Identify the vid the dumpster background came from

Thursday, August 9, 2012


A bit back on YouTube, a fundy atheist called me a "siccophant". Attached [sic] in bold letters, please.

At about the same time,  my ministry partner Nick Peters alerted me to an item titled "Teaching Taco Bell's Canon" by James Courter (link below). It speaks well to the problem exemplified by this incident:

One big problem is that so few students are readers. As an unfortunate result, they have erroneous, and sometimes hilarious, notions of how the written language represents what they hear. What emerged in their papers and emails was a sort of literary subgenre that I've come to think of as stream of unconsciousness.

Courter documents several hilarious spelling errors of the same sort: "inclimate weather," "poulty excuse," "halfhazard error," and so on. Courter concludes:

Among students' biggest complaints is that they have to write so much in college. In his end-of-semester evaluation, one honest soul complained that "writhing gives me fits." Sad to say, it's not uncommon to hear students remark on how much they look forward to being done with English.

Who knows what language they'll use then?

Indeed not. Courter has pinned the obvious problem: Students are not readers -- or at least, not readers of literature that would help them properly spell words like sycophant. Even a modest reader of worthwhile literature would see that, and words of similar grade, several times within a few years. The implied conclusion is that these students have only heard the word, and have never read it. They listen (and watch) far more than they read.

My mindset is such that I lose patience trying to watch a YouTube video because I can read much faster than I can watch or listen. I think that is at it should be when it comes to doing serious research. Scholarship is not hospitable to persons who are not readers by practice. It's not just spelling that will go awry under these conditions.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Rebutting a Redundant and Ridiculous Rodent and His Ranting, Raving, and Railing

Two weeks back  I did an entry on a “censorship crybaby” on YT and how he (and others there) misuse the word “censorship” to gain the sympathy of others like them who feel put upon because the quality of their commentary is recognized for being as poor as it is. The crybaby has “responded” with a vid of his own now, though to call it a “response” would be to misuse and insult that particular word by attributing to the vid he made a dignity that word bestows which is does not warrant.  Serious commentators would hesitate to use the word “response” in their own vocabulary for the next ten thousand years if I did that.

Not surprisingly, in 25 minutes of production – which included about a minute and a half of “dead air” at the end of his vid – the crybaby ignored virtually all of my critical points, and refused to admit several errors of his own (such as the claim that my reference to Congress in the free speech clause was “disingenuous” because some people didn’t live in America – an argument all the more embarrassing from the crybaby, inasmuch as I showed that in his native UK, the equivalent freedom is phrased just the same). My challenge to report me to censorship organizations was ignored, though that is to be expected since the crybaby was forced to admit that I indeed was not practicing “censorship” (but, he said, it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t like what I’m doing anyway, so I should stop!).

At any rate, I decided it was not worth a vid response of my own, but that for the record, a Forge post would be adequate.

I had made a point about a private YT channel as equal to what is called a “special library” – generally, a private collection of materials devoted to a specific topic, within which censorship is virtually impossible. The crybaby responded with the inane observation that my channel couldn’t fit this description because it is “not a library” but “more like lectures.” The idiocy of this response is par for the course for this poor fellow, and it is not hard to see why he prefers to offer victim rhetoric (as noted in entry two weeks ago) rather than arguments. In reality, films, including filmed lectures, are just one example of the sort of media that would be collected in a library. Beyond that, of course, the crybaby ignored my many points about the qualities of a special library that also match a YT channel: Not funded by taxes, set up for a special purpose and select audience, etc.

Regarding censorship, as noted, the crybaby ignores my second challenge, and says he "doesn't accept my definition of censorship" – though he fails to mention to his gullible viewers that it comes from professional organizations concerned with the issue. He says later he will not play “word games” – apparently meaning he won’t respond to the way professional orgs define censorship.

The crybaby also has the temerity to claim that he “won” with respect to my first challenge to censorship whiners, saying their should go to a Skeptical site with harsher rules than mine and complain. Apparently, to the crybaby, a “win” constitutes him mistaking my moral challenge for a tu quoque (which was the first mistake he made) and then ducking and dodging that challenge by making excuses and asking for rewards if he does it.

Regarding my moderation of the channel, the crybaby objects that what I say of this and my rules is “moot” because 1) I changed my rules there recently and 2) I do not follow them consistently.

The first is an irrelevancy:  A private entity is also able at any time to change its rules; barring legal and contractual obligations (of the sort that do not apply to a private YT channel), this is also the standard expectation for any moderated community, which can and must be able to adjust to changing needs, desires, audiences, and purposes. At such points, senior members may also freely withdraw from such a group – with no obligation.

For the second, it is claimed that I do not follow my own rules when 2a) I mock idiots like him, or 2b) allow some non-substantive comments. The former is simply false – I have no rules against mockery. The second is merely an equivocation and a nitpick: My goal, as stated, is intelligent and informed comments; but in order to maintain a community interest which will gather persons who offer that type of comment, it is manifest (and should hardly need to be stated to anyone not of a legalistic mindset) that this also means permitting a certain degree of bantering or other social discourse. In essence the crybaby has imposed upon me his own Puritan interpretation of my purpose.

A couple of other points are manifest idiocy on their face. I am told I should allow stupid comments to be posted because they may be instructive to others. I am also told that it is not right that I, the owner of the channel, gets to judge the quality of comments.  This latter, we may observe in close, reflects the petulant monstrosity that the current generation of spoiled, postmodern Wikipedia addicts has become. Once again, it is their belief that their every word is precious and to be revered, and that their views are worthy of a hearing simply by virtue of them having views.  

Too bad for them: Not all of us will bow and scrape to that – and that’s a view they’ll learn to respect the hard way.