Tag: mafia

Links, Links, Links: Some tabs opened in my browser

I just spent a couple of days at Stir, a conference in Queensland featuring Al Stewart and a bunch of Christian people from around the state. It was very encouraging. But before I went, I had about a thousand tabs open in my browser that I had planned to blog. Here they are.

The Twitter users who have single letter accounts (a to z): from the Atlantic.
Taking a look at the users who make @replies easy.

“Unsurprisingly, nearly all the accounts are used heavily. The average single-letter Twitterer has Tweeted 3,266 times, follows 302 people, and is followed by 2,896. That might seem like a lot relative to the average user, but none are celebrities or power users like a Tim O’Reilly and his 1.4 million followers. @T aka Tantek Çelik, a developer, has the largest number of followers in the group with his 13,005.”

The best bit, @c and @k are now married to each other. Brilliant.

NineMSN takes a look at terrible business terminology, or management guff:

“The 2010 winner is the investor Chuck Davies who was quoted in the FT saying: “He is a deep-dive, granular, research-oriented person who really understands the inner workings of companies and is just a very free-cash flow, hard-asset-based investor.” He was speaking of one of the men who may take over from Warren Buffett; on the basis of this testimony one rather hopes someone else can be found instead.”

While the SMH deals with similar terminology applied to surrogate parenting

“Terms such as breeder and gestational carrier are dehumanising. The experience of carrying and giving birth to a child is profound. It is also difficult, painful and life changing. The changes go beyond the merely physiological to the core of our personhood.”

I can understand the emotions that drive people towards surrogacy, and they’re murky ethical waters, but I can’t imagine what it does to a kid – especially if genetics play some role in the formation of identity.

I’ve just signed up for Kindlefeeder, and Instapaper – two services that bring online content to the kindle so that you can read stuff offline in a purpose built document reader. Fun times. Instapaper also saves stuff to your iPhone.

I love this post from Mark Thompson – I think some people are all too keen to toss out terminology not found in the Bible because of a propensity to employ it to describe ministry roles – this is a better balanced picture methinks (and a warning about what ministry is and isn’t):

“In an era when some fear their backs are against the wall and that we must do everything in our power to arrest Christianity’s slide into oblivion, the temptation to rework this classic understanding of Christian ministry is felt keenly. The ministry of the pastor is recast in terms of images gleaned from outside the Scriptures: a leader, a manager, a mission director. Yet these images must be subverted by the dynamics of the biblical gospel if they are to be of any use. The Christian leader leads by praying and faithfully attending to the ministry of the word. Effective management takes place through prayer and the consistent, faithful teaching of the Scriptures. The mission is properly directed by teachers rather than strategists, by prayer warriors rather than vision casters. It would be wrong to portray this as a battle between either/or (e.g. teaching vs leading) and both/and (e.g. teaching and leading). One is the means of the other (e.g. we lead by teaching). Christian leadership, management and mission direction is not simply a modification of what we might find in other walks of life. It is an entirely different phenomenon.”

This “List of Common Misconceptions” on wikipedia is like mythbusters for common old wives’ tales and other miscellany. Here’s one somebody quoted to me today (in a milestone I discovered my first grey hair. On a youth convention):

Shaving does not cause terminal hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker. This belief is due to the fact that hair that has never been cut has a tapered end, whereas, after cutting, there is no taper. Thus, it appears thicker, and feels coarser due to the sharper, unworn edges. The fact that shorter hairs are “harder” (less flexible) than longer hairs also contributes to this effect.[77] Hair can also appear darker after it grows back because hair that has never been cut is often lighter due to sun exposure.

Here’s another one:

A popular myth regarding human sexuality is that men think about sex every seven seconds. In reality, there is no scientific way of measuring such a thing and, as far as researchers can tell, this statistic greatly exaggerates the frequency of sexual thoughts.[102][103][104]

And the BBC reckons the King James Bible changed the way we speak English. Not surprising really, given its influence on the written word. Alister McGrath has even written a book about its influence (Amazon)
(and there’s some stuff on thees and thous in there too):

“The translators seem to have taken the view that the best translation was a literal one, so instead of adapting Hebrew and Greek to English forms of speaking they simply translated it literally. The result wouldn’t have made all that much sense to readers, but they got used to it, and so these fundamentally foreign ways of expressing yourself became accepted as normal English through the influence of this major public text.”

“David Crystal in Begat, however, set out to counter exaggerated claims for the influence of the King James Bible. “I wanted to put a precise number on it,” he explains, “because some people have said there are thousands of phrases from the King James Bible in our language, that it is the DNA of the English language. I found 257 examples.””

Pretty funny that he’s from Begat, given its use in genealogies of the Bible.

I’m a long time mafia nut – I, at one point, was planning to write the next great mafia novel. I read heaps of “true crime” mafia confessionals to prepare. Maybe one day I’ll do it. In the meantime I’ll savour stories like this one. Where the good guys win. Slate has a look at how modern mafioso are making a dollar.

“Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Mafia has begun stealing millions from the EU through a sure-fire scheme—wind energy. Enticed by government underwriting of renewable energies—Brussels ordered all 27 EU nations to use one-fifth renewable energy by 2020—the Mob has focused on its own backyard. (Italian wind power sells at Europe’s highest rate, a guaranteed 180 euros per kilowatt-hour.) In 2008’s Operation “Eolo”—named after the Greek god of winds Aeolus—eight alleged Mafiosi in the Sicilian coastal town of Mazara del Vallo were charged with bribing officials with luxury cars for a piece of the wind energy revenue. Police wiretaps recorded one man saying, “Not one turbine blade will be built in Mazara unless I agree to it.”

Animoto seems like a cool site for making videos that are “killer”… which means videos that connect with young people. You have to pay money for the good stuff.

Stanley Fish has written an interesting book on how to write and read outstanding sentences (Amazon Link)
. Sounds fun.

Slate reviews it:

“[Fish suggests] we should be examining the “logical relationships” within different sentence forms to see how they organize the world. His argument is that you can learn to write and later become a good writer by understanding and imitating these forms from many different styles. Thus, if you’re drawn to Jonathan Swift’s biting satire in the sentence, “Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse,” then, Fish advises, “Put together two mildly affirmative assertions, the second of which reacts to the first in a way that is absurdly inadequate.” He offers, “Yesterday I saw a man electrocuted and it really was surprising how quiet he became.” Lame, and hardly Swift, as Fish is the first to admit, but identifying the logical structure does specify how satire functions at the level of the sentence and, if you want to employ the form, that’s a good thing to know.”

Biblical gangsters

We’re working through 2 Samuel at church at the moment, during Bible Study on Wednesday I was struck by the thought that the book reads like a gangster novel (I’ve read quite a few, I consider myself an expert). There’s a touch of Arthurian legend about David and his champion (Joab) and Saul and his (Abner).

Someone ought to use the narrative structure of Samuel 2 to write a mafia drama. In chapter 2 there’s this cool scene where Saul’s Capo (Mafia for captain) Abner decides that Ish-Bosheth will take over running Saul’s family.

Then Saul’s family meets David’s family for a bit of a discussion (2:12-13), family enforcers Abner and Joab decide to let the up and comers earn their bones – and twelve of the men knife each other (2:14).

Then Abner whacks Joab’s brother (2:13). But David’s family gets more powerful, and people stop paying tribute to Saul’s gang (3:1). Before long, Abner falls out with his Godfather and wants to switch families after an argument about some broad (3:6-21). Joab doesn’t like this, so tricks him, and sends him to sleep with the fishes. His Don (David) doesn’t like this (3:22-38).

Ish-Bosheth goes to the (metaphorical) mattresses, but two of his capos betray him, killing him on his (literal) mattress. David whacks them (4:1-12).

And the rest of the book plays out a bit like the Godfather, David, like Michael Corleone, comes to power, has to deal with the betrayal of a family member, the jostling for power of his “family”, while taking over the kingdom of his predecessor.

Who says the Old Testament can’t be fun…

Killer Fast Food

Heart disease is a killer. Fast food causes heart disease. So it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to see the iconic fast food characters as mafia bosses – like this guy did