Sunday, September 15, 2019

Electronics Award

For want of anything else to post in this moment, this is an award I received from the world's no. 1 electronics publisher in 2005. I was "the most widely published constructional project designer of 2004". In that year (and perhaps other years), I sold more copyrights to designs than anyone else in the world. OBSERVATION: My fastest design was 2 hours from concept to submission (and acceptance). My slowest may have been a year. For example, my Thunderstorm Monitor needed to be tested with real thunderstorms.

Record Of Risk

A few times in ministry, where I have felt at risk, I have put this in writing. I think that every minister should do that as a precaution. Here's an example, which by now is history. A young man overdosed on heroin -- and he survived. He came for counselling. He told me that a Major at an army base was supplying ex-combatants with heroin -- including himself. There was good reason to believe him. I decided to deal with it confidentially with the army base -- but I first put the information in someone else's safe. OBSERVATION: In our electronic age, there are more creative possibilities. But the safe is still a good idea.

Metaphysic: SF6

In my metaphysic I state: "In many areas, our human actions have unforeseen and unpleasant side effects, sometimes only many years later—and tomorrow's unintended consequences, which as yet we do not see, are already being created today." I back that up then with a broader argument. I have long said that clean energy would yield a huge problem, but we can't see it yet. Last week, the BBC revealed SF6, which is 23 500 times more warming than carbon dioxide, and leaking huge amounts into the atmosphere from "clean" installations. The BBC interviewed a farmer who had installed clean energy on his farm, only to discover that it was an environmental bomb.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

50 Years In Africa

My sister prepared this poster to celebrate 50 years of our family in Africa. The images are taken from a newspaper article of 1969. By then we were globetrotters, having visited nearly twenty countries on four continents. In that day, that was very unusual. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Pacific Theological Education

I have long had a heart for theological education in the Pacific, particularly Tangintebu Theological College -- the remotest theological college on the planet, where my father served as Chaplain. In the early 2000s I visted them, and became their envoy, to look at options for upgrading the college. In the process I upgraded myself. Today, it is a privilege for me that, without my seeking it, students at Tangintebu -- some at a high level -- are asking me to comment on their work. It is such interesting work, too. OBSERVATION: I myself declined a call to serve there as Chaplain. The reason: at the time, fund-raising was top of their list of priorities for the Chaplain.

Photo Wall

My mother-in-law loves photos -- as one sees. This is her sitting room wall. This is just up my street, as I love to take photos -- and I am never at a loss as to what to bring as a gift -- which is photo frames and photos. I am at the bottom right here, with a summer hat in 2012, carrying traditional gifts to negotiate the bride price. OSBERVATION: What I didn't yet know, at that moment, was that my Xhosa advisor had played the fool (a little) in listing the traditional gifts for me. My now father-in-law stopped, startled. He said: "Who advised you?"

Friday, September 13, 2019

Crime: Two Solutions

Yesterday the BBC reported on the latest crime statistics in South Africa (more than half a million people have been murdered in South Africa since Freedom). I think that, apart from background factors, two ways that police could be helped are these:
• Depression. Reduce it. In 2016, the Deputy Minister of Police reported that 89% of police were depressed. I know personally that this is a big problem. There needs to be greater care for officers' emotional well-being and strength. Depression may reduce one's capacity to 20%.

• Pragmatism. Get it done. There is too much spinning of wheels. Take a recent criminal case I was involved in. The investigator was replaced multiple times, the evidence was removed from the docket three times, and three times there were useless summonses issued.
OBSERVATION: As for the reasons for the above, that is another matter. I myself could have been a murder victim last year. I was held for an hour-and-a-half by gunmen with semi-automatics who told me they were going to kill me.

Another Niece

It's yet another niece. I find this an unusual portrait, for the lighting. OBSERVATION: While the old folks tend to shy away from the camera, the youngsters ask me with fervour to photograph them -- as was the case here. This niece is due to finish school this year.

Ministry And Violence

It is well known that ministers suffer a higher-than-normal rate of assault, not only in South Africa. In England, vicars have been advised not to wear their clerical collars -- which includes the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think it is little known except to closer friends how often I have suffered violence in ministry -- mostly on or around Church property. I count nine incidents of assault. In two of them, I was injured. OBSERVATION: There was an incident, too, where someone entered the Church premises with a gun, threatening to "get" the minister. Thankfully I wasn't there. See Vicars Urged to Drop 'Risky' Dog Collars. (But there was one incident where a clerical collar saved me).

CORRECTION: In three of them, I was injured.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Suicide In Ministry

Suicide in ministry is not new, and has been rampant in some countries. I have been in discussion with a Church leader about the suicide of a high profile pastor this week. Let it remind us firstly of the extreme pressures of ministry. Yet I perceive it is a question of faith and works.
• There will be those who see a pastor in terms of faith (God called them, He is doing a work through them, and so on), and

• There will be those who see a pastor in terms of works (they should be behaving like this, they fall short like that, and so on). 
These views tend to be split down the middle according to which side of redemption one is on: faith or works. One can encourage the former, and discourage the latter, but it is not something that will go away. If a pastor is aware of this dynamic, this should reduce disappointment, despair, and depression. OBSERVATION: In the BBC report, I picked up what may be a hollowed out, secularised faith: "Shortly before his death, Wilson tweeted about officiating the funeral of a 'Jesus-loving woman who took her own life ... But that doesn't mean Jesus doesn't offer us companionship and comfort,' he continued. 'He always does that.'"

The Head Tracker

One of my most popular electronic designs was The Head Tracker, published by Servo magazine in the USA. Here is a photo of its eyes, which I later mounted inside a lightweight housing. The Head Tracker tracked people’s movement -- even through glass (which impedes a few other methods of tracking). This one worked the first time I powered up a prototype. I was quite excited about that.

Anonymous Calls (Again)

Recently I began to receive anonymous calls again. I try to brush them off, but they are disturbing. What to do with them? If one tells possible culprits not to harass one, it might seem odd, not to speak of being misdirected. This time, however, I contacted the people (one organisation) I thought most likely to be involved: if this is you, kindly cut it out. The calls stopped immediately. OBSERVATION: It was an unlisted landline, traced as far as a Durban-zero exchange -- which is a private telephone exchange without (listed) geographical location. See also: Anonymous Calls.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Bride And Groom

The bride didn't unfriend me -- in fact she transferred two of my photos to her Facebook page (I put up an "unofficial album" of a wedding on the Internet last week). The other photo is elsewhere on this blog: the maidens in a group photo. OBSERVATION: I used the Astia film simulation here, which is good for portraits.

Abstruse Articles

I have two editorial positions. For both of them, I edit philosophical (sometimes religious) articles for "a general educated public". Now I receive updates as to what is happening with various journals in the world. With them, one may often discard the words "general" and "public". Take this article in the journal of the American Academy of Religion this month:
Living with the Dead as a Way of Life: A Materialist Historiographical Approach to Cemetery Asceticism in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms
OBSERVATION: Saxe Commins and Robert Linscott put it well: "The new locutions used by contemporary philosophers [one may add theologians] to communicate with one another become more and more involved and private."

Best Bench

Which is Cape Town's best bench? This one gets my vote. Wife E and I tried it when we were dating, for a picnic. It is on the long and winding Table Mountain Road. OBSERVATION: I am not sure whether the photo is skew or the bench is skew. I suspect the bench. A great many objects are skew in South Africa.