Friday, May 28, 2004

Bible Updating

I have several friends and acquaintences who are missionaries around the world, some of whom are involved in Bible translation, and a few of them involved in Bible updating, which, oddly, seems to be kind of new ground.

The premier Bible translation organization is Wycliffe Bible Translators, which is working hard to translate the Bible into languages that have never had it.

But where is the organization devoted to Bible updating? From what I've heard, some of the translations in use around the world now sound absurdly old-fashioned, and therefore don't communicate well with their intended audience.

A while ago I found an old Wycliffe handbook about Bible translation. To a layman's eye, it seemed like good stuff, though it was an old book, so it was a bit out of date. I'm sure Wycliffe now has more up-to-date versions.

That's great, but where is the handbook on Bible updating?

I'm not at all suggesting Wycliffe change it's approach; what it's doing is vital. What I'm thinking is that maybe there needs to be an organization with the expertise that Wycliffe has, but for updating Bibles. There needs to be an organization to set good standards for updating, and an organization that keeps electronic copies of the new translations as backups. (The first step in updating seems frequently to be keying the old translation into the computer. That's understandable, but it would be a serious mistake to have to do that twice.)

Just a thought...

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Keeping the Faith

I'm really impressed with Ahmer Khokhar, the man profiled in this article. The pressure he overcame to become - and remain - a Christian are an inspiration to me. On the other hand, the casual "whatever works for you" attitude of some Christians depicted in the article discourage me. Maybe he has paid a price for his faith and holds it dear, while they have paid no price for it, and treat it like an old dishcloth.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Squares and Odd Shapes

I just finished an excellent book called Measuring America, by Andro Linklater. It's hard to believe a book about surveying and measurement could be fascinating, but it was. The book, which actually included a lot of information about measurement in Europe, makes the very interesting point that the way land was divided in the northern and western U.S. states was one of the main reasons for the great economic growth of those areas, while the different way it was divided in the southern states hindered economic growth.

In the North it was divided into (with some sloppy exceptions) exact six-mile squares, while in the South it was cut up any which way depending on what land a purchaser wanted to buy. This, of course, was harder to survey, and thus more prone to mistakes, and for that reason there have been unending and expensive boundary disputes in the southern states.

Lots more good stuff, but that's a taste.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Analog vs Digital

I recently bought a watch. My old digital kept resetting itself to midnight, January 1.

I'm kind of out of it, fashion wise, but what struck me while shopping was the large number of analog (big hand, little hand) watches that are available. I bought one, which kind of surprised me.

As I think about why I chose analog over digital, I think part of the reason is nostalgia, but there are other, more practical reasons. I wonder if the precision of digital watches (It's nine fifty seven and twenty seconds, a.m.) had become a bit annoying. Analogs are a bit more casual. More relaxed. You can certainly read them with about as much precision as a digital, but it's a trifle more difficult. Instead of saying it's nine fifty seven, I find myself thinking, "It's about 10 o'clock." I think the reason for this is you can actually see the hands approaching the hour mark, which you don't see with digitals.

Another even more practical benefit is the ease of setting analogs. Pull the stem out, twist, then push the stem back in. That's it! For years, every time I wanted to set my digital, I had to read the instructions: Press button A to enter time-set mode, be careful not to enter chronograph mode, press button B and then button C until the right number is showing and be careful not to go past it because it doesn't go backwards. Press, press, press until your finger is sore.

Welcome back, analog!

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Google, Dieters and Carrots

I read with great interests, as I'm sure a lot of people did, the news that Google plans an initial public offering. One of the somewhat odd things they're doing is refusing to predict results on a quarterly basis. I think that's wise and I hope other companies take their lead.

Google co-founder Larry Page wrote in a "Letter from the Founders" included in the company's filing with the SEC, that, "A management team distracted by a series of short-term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour."

Hmm. While I like the sentiment, I think Page's dieter analogy isn't quite strong enough. I prefer this one, which I heard in relation to growing in the Christian life, but I think applies equally well here. So let me re-craft Page's analogy it its image:

"A management team distracted by a series of short-term targets is as bad as a gardener who pulls up his carrots every day to see how they're growing."

I think this analogy makes clear that it's not just distracting and a waste of time, but positively unhealthy.