February 26, 2006

SBC Bloggers Aggregator Update

So there are now 42 bloggers listed on the SBC aggregator. I haven't been promoting it much, but 42 is a pretty important number.

The headlines that used to be at the top of the page aren't working right now. I used to have the five most recent posts up there, but Blogdigger doesn't like me much at all, and it only ever worked on about half the feeds. Mine was one that it didn't like much, for some reason. I've been looking for a better alternative, but nothing so far. I combined all the feeds into one XML file, but it won't validate (too long), so it's not FeedtoJS comliant -- otherwise, there'd be no problem. I even set up a Bloglines account with the entire aggregator in it to see if I could use that somehow, but no dice.

I'd LOVE it if I could find something that would take the Bloglines OPML file and let me take the five or ten top headlines and put it at the top of the page. That way, I could add the new blogs to bloglines and have them added to the rotation right away, and add the individual entry when I get a chance. But I have no clue how to do it. I've even got a Perl book to see if I can learn a nifty script to do it, but I don't even know if that's the best language to use. Any web gurus out there want to help a brother out?

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February 25, 2006

Bye, Barney

Don Knotts died today at 81.

In a jailhouse, down in Dixie
Fightin' crime and riskin' lives
Dwelled a Sheriff and his buddy
Pistol Packin' Barney Fife

Oh my darlin', oh my darlin',
Oh my darlin' Barney Fife
He's a deadly crime-stopper
What a copper, Barney Fife

Then one day there come-a-ridin'
Two bad men to rob a bank
But Fife was tricky, a dead-eye dickie
And now they're locked up in the tank

Oh my Barney, oh my Barney
had a jail and couldn't lock it
had one bullet for his pistol
had to keep it in his pocket.

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February 24, 2006

Study of Mark: Mark 8:31-38

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
(Mark 8:31-38 ESV)

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Fred Phelps Is an Idiot

I think that about covers it. He and his followers are total, complete idiots.

They have awarped sense of God, and a warped interpretation of Scripture. They have missed the purpose of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. They've missed the purpose of the Church on earth.

Their God is not Jehovah. Their "Christ" is not the Christ of the Bible. And it pains me that they call themselves a "Baptist" church. They bear no resemblance to any historical Baptist church that has ever existed, whether Anabaptist or English Baptist, General or Particular, Sandy Creek or Charlotte.

And in the end, they will have to face the Almighty God they claim to serve, and give an accounting for what they have done. For their hatred. For their bigotry. And they will weep.

Unfortunately, we have to deal with them here. Free speach means just that -- they can run their mouths all they want. But we don't have to listen. That's why this is the last post you'll hear about them, unless they attack me personally.

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It WAS a Good Idea!!

So, not too long ago, I told my wife I had a great idea. I was going to talk to the folks at Lifeway about setting up a podcast service for Christians, especially churches, who wanted to podcast but wanted to keep costs to a minimum. The service would be free for Southern Baptists -- supported by the Cooperative Program -- and of minimal expense (less than $5 a month) for non SBC folks. NOT because we're better than the rest of ya', but because we already pay into the CP, so in effect we'd really be paying something, just more indirectly.

Today I learned, thanks to Podcasting News, that Lifeway has done it already, or at least they are supporting the folks who are doing it. Christian Podder even goes me a step better - they're free for everyone who wants to d a Christian podcast. They'l host your MP3 files and everything.

The only drawback is that to listen to podcasts on their system, you have to download their software. There's no RSS feed to plug into iTunes or anything like that. MOST of the podcasts that are listed have their own web sites, and assumably an RSS feed for the podcast, but people who are new to podcasting may not have that. If the idea is to get the word out to everyone, I'm not sure that Christian Podder will be the most effective, though for edification it will be an outstanding resource. I think that podcasts need to be available to iTunes users, and publicizing an RSS feed can only increase the number of listeners to the podcast.

I've signed up, and both my podcasts will be added to their directory, but I'm not abandoning the hosting I already have at podOmatic. I get an RSS feed there, and my shows will show up in iTunes and all the other podcast directories that I've submitted them to. One thing I've learned in podcasting -- don't put all your eggs in one basket, nor all your hopes in one podcasting directory or service. But Christian Podder is a valuable service, and I can now honestly say that one of my great ideas really was a great idea. So great that it's already been done!

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February 23, 2006

For Those who Love Southern Gospel Music

From Gaither.com:

During the evening of Wednesday, February 22, while in concert on the Gaither Homecoming Cruise, Anthony Burger collapsed on-stage. He was taken backstage but was unable to be revived. The exact cause of death is yet to be confirmed, but is thought to have been a heart attack. Anthonoy was 44 years of age.

Please keep Anthony's family in your prayers during this unexpected and tragic loss.

Further details and arrangements will be provided as they become available.

Burger's web site, www.anthonyburger.com, isn't responding right now -- probably getting flooded. I've seen him in concert before, at Jubilate in Charlotte, NC -- he was an incredible musician. Pray for his family as they go through this very difficult time.

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February 21, 2006

ESV Controversy?

On his blog, Ben Witherington is talking about translation "problems" with the ESV, and advocates the TNIV as an alternative. He specifically mentions in the comments

My concern is with translations of texts like: 1) Rom. 16.7; 2) 1 Tim. 2.12; 3) Ephes. 5.21-22 and the like. So far as I can see, the ESV doesn't do justice to any of these texts, and at the expense of women.
So, I fired up e-Sword to take a look at these passages, and see exactly what the problem is. The TNIV text I am using is from the TNIV site at http://www.tniv.info. more...

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Pay to Play Podcasting?

There are some podcasts that are going to a subscription-only format. The Earthcore podcast, which was originally presented as a free weekly podcast, is now available in the iTunes music store for $9.99 for a complete download. Also, one of the most popular podcasts in the BBC's recent podcasting experiment, The Ricky Gervais Show, is going to a subscription-based format starting on the 28th of February. The show will cost $2 per fownload from Audible.co.uk and iTunes.

I've known podcasters who have done similar things. The Richard Vobes Show has some things that are available to everyone, but has special subscriber content that makes people want to pay the $20 to become a member. I like that business model better. Give people a reason to give you money, rather than simply assume that they're willing to start paying for something that you've previously given them for free.

Earthcore is a different case, though, and I agree witht he way it was handled -- though here, again, is an example of something that would be better served with some value-added content. I'm sure people have saved the episodes of the original podcast on their computers, or burned them to CDs. I can see these being passed around by fans, bypassing the pay-per-listen downloads. But if the new downloads gave users something more for their ten bucks, there might be more people downloading.

Of course, I've said for a while now that the answer for the record industry isn't going after people who rip CDs, or making CDs unrippable, but to make some value-added content available only on the original CD. Coupons for free stuff, codes for free downloads, drawings for free concert tickets, etc. would be a great idea here, and there are fans who would shell out the money for these extras.

Think value added -- it's the way to go. This is one area where my former marketing weasel self shines through -- people will pay more if they think they're getting more. Don't believe me? Hang out at the local Sams one Saturday morning, and watch the people buying 20 gallon drums of Mustard because it's cheaper per serving than buying it by the squeeze bottle. There's a perceived value. And it works everywhere -- even in the recording industry, if they'll let it.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 07:41 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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How Young is Young?

There's going to be a Young Leader's meeting at this year's SBC Convention. Wade Burleson is speaking, and a lot of people who I'd like to meet are going to be there. But I have a question:

How old is too old to be a young leader? Last year on my birthday, I got to use the Monty Python quote "I'm 37 -- I'm not old!" This year, is it "I'm 38 -- I'm not young!"? I may be a pastor by then, so I'd be a leader, but the "young" part is in decided dispute.

Maybe I'll just show up anyway. If nothing else, then they'd call me Caleb.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 11:48 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Deleted Post!!

I've just done something that I REALLY hate doing -- even more than deleting a comment. I deleted a post.

It wasn't much of a post -- it was the SNL "Chronic (WHAT?) cles of Narnia" video and the "West Coast" answer. But I really have a good reason for doing it.

I don't want to get sued.

Youtube.com hosted the files I was sharing. I THOUGHT they had permission (duh!) from SNL -- the thing was all over the place! So now they're gone.

{Update: another great source for info.

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February 20, 2006

What Kind of Jesus?

I was pondering this on the way home, after hearing some drivel that called itself a Christian song on the radio. It may turn into a sermon some weekend soon, but I have to get it out of my head and onto "paper" before I go nuts.

Matthew 16:13-16 (ESV)
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Who do WE say that Jesus Christ is? Unfortunately, we often portray Him as something other than what He is. more...

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February 16, 2006

Great New Book

I got a neat book in the mail a few days ago. I've been doing a lot of reviews of O'Reilly books, and they've started sending me press releases for new offerings.

Most of the time, they have tech books, but when I saw a release for a book called Baseball Hacks, I had to get it. I'm not abig baseball fan, but my wife is, and I've picked it up a little bit. So I was curious.

The book is WAY cool. All about statistics, and stat management. The principles that the book teaches can be applied to a LOT of different areas, and I could see this book used to teach statistics in high school. In fact, I'll probably take the book over and show it to one of the math teachers I used to work with -- he's a basketball nut, and this book looks like something he'd really enjoy. I can see him using something like this in the classroom -- he's done it before.

I'll have a review up for the book at Blogcritics in the next week or so, and I'll post a link to it here. I've already downloaded some of the software that they recommend, and have played with it a little bit. I'm looking forward to digging into this book.

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RIAA Goes Off the Deep End

Space-shifting (moving media from one location to another, ie. making backups), and format-shifting (changing a CD to MP3s to play on an iPod) are not fair-use, according to RIAA.

"Nor does the fact that permission to make a copy in particular circumstances is often or even routinely granted, necessarily establish that the copying is a fair use when the copyright owner withholds that authorization. In this regard, the statement attributed to counsel for copyright owners in the MGM v. Grokster case is simply a statement about authorization, not about fair use."
(from the EFF site)

In other words, just because you buy a CD, you may not have the rights to rip that CD to MP3 format so you can play it in your iPod. If the record companies want to, they can restrict that ability and sue you if you do it anyway.

Now, a year ago, they said this:

The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod.

I'm starting to think that the record companies and RIAA want to make this issue as clear as mud, so that they can sue anyone they want to whenever they want to. I'm all for making money on intellectual property -- but I know how little most artists actually make on their intellectual property compared to what the record companies make.

What will eventually happen is that music fans will start finding independent bands and listening to them. It's far too easy for bands to produce and sell their own CDs now, especially when you have podcasters who are eager for podsafe music to play on their shows. RIAA will recognize this sooner or later -- and it looks like it will be later. They are slowly killing the music industry in the United States.

Maybe we should be thanking them. They are a parasite that is slowly killing off it's host, and they're too stupid to realize it.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 04:21 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Hate Crimes? Depends ...

I've not commented much on the church bombings in Alabama, mainly because information has been sketchy. 10 Baptist churches burned. Some of the churches were predominantly white, so no racism angle. And no reporting of a hate crime.

Read this report in the Boston Globe (I get their RSS feed for Religion stories -- they usually do a decent job there). I encourage you all to read it, but there's one part I just have to quote here:

Suppose that in 2005 unknown hoodlums had firebombed 10 gay bookstores and bars in San Francisco, reducing several of them to smoking rubble. It takes no effort to imagine the alarm that would have spread through the Bay Area’s gay community or the manhunt that would have been launched to find the attackers. The blasts would have been described everywhere as ”hate crimes,” editorial pages would have thundered with condemnation, and public officials would have vowed to crack down on crimes against gays with unprecedented severity.

Suppose that vandals last month had attacked 10 Detroit-area mosques and halal restaurants, leaving behind shattered windows, wrecked furniture, and walls defaced with graffiti. The violence would be national front-page news. On blogs and talk radio, the horrifying outbreak of anti-Muslim bigotry would be Topic No. 1. Bills would be introduced in Congress to increase the penalties for violent ”hate crimes” — no one would hesitate to call them by that term — and millions of Americans would rally in solidarity with Detroit’s Islamic community.


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Book Review: Where God Was Born by Bruce Feiler

I actually read this a while ago, and the review has been up at Blogcritics, but I got a search engine hit from someone looking for a critique of the book, and realized I'd never posted the review here. I enjoyed the book, though Feiler is far from evangelical in his conclusions. In fact, by the end of the book I was convinced that he'd embraced Zoroastrianism, but he never actually comes out and says it. Here's my review, as it appeared on the first of November last year: more...

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February 15, 2006

Good News from the IMB

The Florida Baptist Witness is reporting that the Executive Committee of the IMB is recommending that the motion to remove Wade Burleson from his trustee position be withdrawn.

Several weeks from now [IMB trustee chairman Thomas] Hatley will release an historical and theological explanation of the board's November decision to assess missionary candidates' use of "private prayer language" and mode of baptism.

Misinformation disseminated through informal weblogs caused confusion in the minds of some Southern Baptists, Hatley said. He said he hopes a detailed accounting of the timeline and rationale for those standards will help separate those issues from the matter of Burleson's personal conduct as a trustee and answer questions that have arisen.

Misinformation? Where? Accusations of misinformation and breach of confidence have flown ever since the trustees decided to ask the covnention to dismiss Burleson, and I've never seen anything more than vague accusations. If misinformation has been disseminated through blogs, it's very easy to show it -- blogs are public documents, and they are archived. Even if posts are edited, you can always head over to the Internet Wayback Machine and pull up the original posts, if you know when they were posted. Show us the misinformation -- and show us where you tried to correct it. Blogs are easy to set up; the IMB trustees would have been advised to have started their own, and made sure their version of things was out there for public perusal.

I'd have even linked to them.

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February 14, 2006

Breaking News!

AzerbaijanÂ’s weekly Yeni Habar has published cartoons of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary in response to the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in Danish and other European countriesÂ’ press.

The first response was, of course, in Italy, where thousands of Christians failed to march on the Azerbaijani Embassy. The throng totally failed to burn anyone in effigy.

Next, we move on to England, where congregants at churches all over the country completely and totally failed to notice the cartoons at all. Hundreds of mosques were left completely intact.

And in the Bible Belt in the United States, thousands of crazed evangelicals showed a surprising amount of unity as they utterly failed to march on state capitals. Hundreds of signs reading "Death to the Blasphemers" and other slogans were totally not held.

And yes, if anyone is wondering, this is satire. I am making fun. Thanks to Scott at The Crusty Curmudgeon for the heads up on this breaking story.

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My Favorite Firefox Extensions

Inspired by this post at TheCSSWeblog:

  • ForecastFox: Weather reports right on the status bar! Includes a pop-up radar screen and weather alerts. VERY customizable. They have just released the enhanced version, which I haven't tried yet.
  • FoxyTunes: Control your music player of choice from the browser. I like not having to pull up the player when I want to skip a song. I don't use it quite as much now that I have my Nano, but it still comes in handy.
  • DownThemAll: Mass download all files with a certain extension (.pdf, .mp3, etc.). I get a lot of use out of this one when I'm getting material for my podcast, and it also came in handy when I was downloading PDFs for research papers at school. It's also faster, because it will download multiple files at the same time.
  • GMail Manager: I have three Gmail accounts that I need to check every day: one for the blog, one for the podcast, and one for the SBC Aggregator. This alerts me when I have mail in each account, and lets me go straight to it in a new tab. Google should have come up with this first!
  • SpellBound: Unfortunately, the latest update for Firefox isn't compatible with this. I LOVE being able to spell-check blog posts, for example, and haven't been able to since I upgraded to I'm hoping that they'll update this valuable sxtension soon.
  • Xray: this is a new one, and it also doesn't work with the new version of Firefox. It has helped me understand CSS a lot better -- right-click on the page and select Xray to see the markup for the page you're looking at.
  • Bible Toolbar: Search various translations at Bible Gateway, and even compare two translations. This is a VERY useful tool -- I can do quick verse checks and comparisons without having to fire up eSword every time.

Speaking of browsers, I've been informed that the blog looks the way it's supposed to in IE7.0. So I'm not going to have to do as much fixing as I'd thought I would. I think there are still some issues with lower resolution monitor settings, but that's all. So if you won't switch to Firefox, go get the IE7 beta.

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February 13, 2006

Final Update on the UCC Church Banner Thing

Bene Diction is reporting that the St. James UCC site has been hacked, and that the church was going to be putting a statement on their page. Bene heard from the pastor of the church via email, and he confirmed that.

I haven't heard anything in response to my email -- of course, I wasn't expecting to, because I know they got a LOT of email about it, and they probably don't have the time to answer everyone. If it was a hacker, it was a pretty clever hacker who knew enough about the Bible to pick that verse out. It's not a verse that would necessarilly set off alarms, unless it was read in context.

We can react to something like this in several ways. We can laugh and move on, we can laugh and let the people in charge know, and we can sit in outrage and judgement, only to feel foolish when the real story is told. Thankfully, in this case, it looks like the blogosphere did the second -- we laughed, but we let them know something was up.

{EDIT: Hack or not? That's still the question.

We were recently made aware that the former quote we had posted in the header on our site was actually not based on the word of Jesus but was a quote posed to him during his temptation. As soon as we were made aware of this we removed the quote from our site. We removed it...not hackers as some ill-informed bloggers would have you believe.
Haven't heard anyone who was saying the hackers took it down -- we were saying that a hacker put it there in the first place. I don't know if that's true anymore or not. It just sounds like someone picked the quote out and didn't check the context before they posted it.

FURTHER update -- just received a VERY nice email from the webmaster of the site. The verse was pulled from a Scripture quote search engine, and the context wasn't checked until after they were informed about the problem. I figure half the Christian blogosphere emailed them yesterday. Innocent mistake on their part -- it happens. Let he who hasn't messed up in public cast the first stone -- and that certainly isn't me.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 08:15 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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Daily Observations

A media storm surrounds the accidental shooting of a fellow hunter by "Deadeye" Dick Cheney. NOT because he shot someone by accident, but because they didn't issue an immediate press release. The MSM is just mad because they got scooped by the local paper.

St. James UCC felt the power of the Godblogosphere yesterday. The banner that I reported on (in the previous post) has been changed. It now features the name of the church and their phone number. I haven't received an email from their webmaster yet, but I know they got a lot of email about it yesterday, so I'm not expecting anything. I'd have loved to see the look on their face when they realized whose quote they were using to promote their church.

The Christian Carnival this week is at Pursuing Holiness. You need to enter. Send your submission to ChristianCarnival AT gmail DOT com. YOu need to include the following information:

  • The name of your blog and a link to your main site. (Adding the name with a hyperlink would be a nice courtesy to the host.)
  • The title of your post and the URL of the post. (Again, adding the title with a hyperlink would be helpful.)
  • If you want a trackback, include a trackback link. (Tracking back is optional. Some hosts may oblige you; others may not have the time or ability.)
  • Include a short (one or two sentence) description of the post. Your description may be edited by the host, but many hosts often use just what you give them. (So don't say anything you wouldn't want published.)

Deadline is midnight tomorrow, so get on it!!

One more observation about Cheney and the shooting. I'm really surprised that more hasn't been made of the fact that he was hunting Quayle. He's going to be a former VP too, and it seems he'd have more respect for ....

Oh. THAT kind of quail. Nevermind.

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