Archive for November, 2005

Take a course at MIT

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Why didn’t I know about this before? MIT have all their course material available, online. Wow. Now I can finally patch up my maths knowledge and take that primer on Number Theory I’ve been meaning to do for so long.

Style and content

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

The speaker at church on Sunday wasn’t up to much, frankly. He was a guest speaker from Scotland, and a friend of the pastor (so I have to be a bit careful what I say). He came to talk about worship. I think. I’m not totally clear, to be honest. The thing is, his sermon consisted of 50% pop-psychology (“You’re going to die; live with it”, “You’re not that important”, etc), 40% meaningless Evangelical jargon (“As I was preparing this morning I really felt God wanted me to [x]”), 5% awkward (sorry, “spiritual”) silence and 5% of actual content. Some of that 5%, I’ll admit, wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t much and it was mostly drowned out by the handwavey waffle of the rest of the talk. He threw in a couple of verses at the beginning before veering wildly off course and then skipped over other Bible references because he “wanted to get to his point”. By the end of the sermon, I had no clear idea what his point actually was, or how it fitted in with his prescribed topic of worship.

So. It was quite surprising to me when, talking to another person from my church later on, that they thought it was a really good sermon. I didn’t say anything – because I’m a coward, I just ducked out of the conversation – but it niggled me. And the reason it niggled me is this: the guy could present. He could speak well; he was funny, he engaged with the congregation, he was animated and he held your attention. He was a very good, very natural public speaker. And – here’s the rub – people seem to have a tendency to confuse a good speaker with someone who has something worthwhile to say. So, even though he talked waffly nonsense for forty minutes, the fact that he presented it well made people feel they’d heard a good sermon.

Now, there’s nothing intrinsically bad or wrong with good presentation. Indeed, it makes ideas easier to communicate; it makes people more receptive to ideas and more likey to retain them afterwards if they are well presented. But to confuse the quality of the medium and the quality of the message is a bad thing, and something we very much need to be aware of.

It’s not dead

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Crazy busy at work. Eclectic linkdump:

Catholic Church in “Being Sensible. Again.” shocker. If this carries on, I may have to buy a rosary.

Beer cures cancer. Probably also causes it, too, though.

Coffee Beer. Sort of.


Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

This article may as well have been written about me.

Why the next generation of consoles is going to be utterly irrelevent

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

From Wired’s preview of PGR3 on the Xbox 360:

PGR2 focused its processing power on cars, not their environs. In PGR3, cities are 10 times more detailed. And – even though they’re usually just a blur as you whiz by – thousands of individually modeled spectators react to the action, cheering winners and jeering losers.

Yep, that’s right. Your hundreds of dollars of computing power are going into rendering even more accurate crowds that you’ll never actually see and won’t make the blindest bit of difference to how the game actually plays. Well, please excuse me if I’m not frothing at the mouth with excitement here.