The Missing Links — May 15, 2011

Opening logo to the Star Wars films

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  • Audio of the 2010 debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D’Souza at Notre Dame.  The video is here.
  • The blog of the recently formed Christian Apologetics Alliance is up and running.  You can follow us on Twitter as well.  If you’re on Facebook and a student of apologetics, you can search for our name and request to join the Facebook group.
  • Alvin Plantinga’s recent Bellingham Lectures on the topics of  God and Evolution:  Where the Conflict Really Liesand “Does Science Show That Miracles Can’t Happen” can be viewed online here.  It’s not clear whether both lectures are included on the video or only one, but the running time of two hours, 22 minutes seems long for a single talk.
  • I love this video.  Your favorite characters from Star Wars quoting Jean-Paul Sartre. : )
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Book Giveaway – Moral Choices by Scott Rae

I used Scott Rae’s book Moral Choices in two different ethics classes in seminary and benefitted from it a great deal.  It’s now in it’s third edition, and thanks to the generous folks at Zondervan (@Zondervan on Twitter, Facebook here), I’m giving away a copy at Cloud of Witnesses.

As the subtitle says, the book is an introduction to (Christian) ethics.  In the first four chapters, Rae lays out some theoretical groundwork by pointing to various elements of a Christian approach to ethics, and then surveys various ethical systems such as utilitarianism, deontological approaches, and virtue ethics.  Chapter 4 provides a general framework for making ethical decisions.

Chapters 5 through 12 take up a variety of ethical issues and treat them from a Christian viewpoint.  These timely topics include abortion, cloning, euthanasia, sexual ethics, war, and economics.  Each chapter includes review questions, case studies for discussion, suggestions for further reading, and helpful sidebars.

If you’re looking for a concise but comprehensive survey of Christian ethics from an evangelical perspective, Moral Choices is one of the best in print in my opinion.

Giveaway Details:

To enter the giveaway, comment on this post and tell me the best book you’ve read recently.  (Please include your email address in the comment form so I can contact you if you win.)  Also, please share this post on the social media site of your choice (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  I’ll announce the winner this weekend.


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Tapping Facebook and Twitter for Writing Help

If you’d like to tap your friends on Facebook and Twitter to collaborate on your writing project, the new FastPencil may be for you.  GalleyCat reports:

Today the self-publishing platform FastPencil announced the addition of new social networking tools, plugging Twitter and Facebook straight into the writing process.

Earlier this week, The Huffington Post linked up with Facebook Connect to create a socially-networked news-sharing platform. Now FastPencil is using the same technology to create a socially-networked writing site. With the new “scribble, tweet or share” tool, writers can instantly interact with Facebook and Twitter friends while writing–giving lonely authors a chance to share (or perhaps over-share) their process.

Here’s a statement from FastPencil CEO Steve Wilson, from the release: “FastPencil strips out the complexity of the publishing process allowing anyone to write a book, have it published and delivered to their doorstep for under $10. By integrating with Facebook and Twitter we are making it easier for you to work with your established network of friends, colleagues and followers.”


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Find URLs Linked to on Twitter

Blogging & RSS via Twitter
Image by Travelin’ Librarian via Flickr

For those using Twitter, TwiTip describes a cool Twitter search site called Backtweets.

One shortcoming of Twitter’s standard search is that it will fail to catch those tweets that may have linked to your/your competition’s site, yet don’t contain the specific terms or tags that you are probing for.

Imagine that someone has tweeted only the words “my favorite latte” and has provided a link to the coffee house you own. In this instance no key terms were used, and you’d likely never know that the reference ever existed.

Enter Backtweets. With Backtweets, you simply enter a URL (the service will auto-resolve shortened ones) into the single field presented and hit return. It will deliver a reverse-chronological list of tweets containing the requested link.

In addition, it provides an RSS feed so that you can be notified automatically as new relevant tweets appear. If you would prefer to receive the updates via email, one option is to enter the feed URL into a service such as FeedMyEmail, who will send you a daily email.

The creators of Backtweets tell me that service will provide up to 500 results for any single search result at one time, and searches for links going back about 2 months.
(Click the image for a larger view.)

Our sentiment is that Backtweets is an invaluable addition to the toolkit of any professional who needs to stay on top what’s being said on Twitter.

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Does Twitter Make You Evil?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ll bet you were just asking yourself that. : )

Here are some opposing opinions shared by The Week.

Okay, it’s official, said Owen Thomas in Valleywag. Twitter makes you evil, according to a University of Southern California study. Or, more precisely, people caught up in the rapid flow of information in some online social spaces, such as Twitter, don’t have enough time to process the moral implications of their exchanges. But that’s by design, because Twitter was meant to be “empty of values except for the cultish worship of the now.”

Come on, said Sarah Perez in Read Write Web. Yesterday we heard about a bogus study saying Facebook users get bad grades in school, and now we’re getting another updating of the “TV rots your brain” mantra of the last century. Maybe it’s true that people aren’t as compassionate as they could be while monitoring a string of tweets, but “we do, in fact, still feel things.”

Of course, said Samantha Rose Hunt in TG Daily, but our ability to rapidly sort information erodes our capacity to sense the needs or pain of others, according to the study, to be published next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. So if you try to process your friends’ tweets too quickly, you could miss what they’re really trying to say.

These caveats do have the ring of truth.  I guess the lesson is, think before you tweet.

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An Internet Movie Database, for Books

Mere Christianity
Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite publishing news sites, GalleyCat, reports

The web archive was a popular item of Twitter today, billed as “IMDB for books” by literary blogger Edward Champion.

The website currently archives digital records for 4.2 million books, collected from 10 million different sources. For instance, this entry on the obscure title, “A master class in brand planning: the timeless works of Stephen King,” contains summaries, notes, classification, book comparison, subject listings, library holdings, and links to buy the book online.

Here’s more from the site: “ gets the data in a unique way – it scans libraries all across the world for book information. The scanning is random and similar in a way to how general purpose web search engines scan web sites. Scanned results are then parsed and stored in a searcheable and browseable database that you see here on An attempt is made at cross-indexing the database by author, publisher, category and so on. Cross indexing is still a work in progress and is likely to improve as the time goes on.”

A quick search of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis turned up the following results.  Pretty impressive.

Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity: a revised and enlarged edition, with a new introduction, of the three books, The case for Christianity, Christian behaviour, and Beyond personality
by C. S. Lewis
Publisher: Old Tappan, N.J. : F.H. Revell, [1982], c1952.
ISBN: 0800712897   DDC: 230   LCC: BT77   Edition: (pbk.)


Rev. ed. first published in 1952.
Large print ed.


(click to see other ‘Books on the Same Shelf’)

Dewey Class: 230 — Christian theology
LCC Number: BT77

Book Details:

Language: eng
Physical Description: 352 p. ; 24 cm.
Edition Info: (pbk.)

Similar Books:

C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (ISBN: 0805493476; (alk. paper); 99% match)

Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis; ISBN: 0060652926; (alk. paper); 99% match)

Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis; ISBN: 0060652888; (cloth); 99% match)

…more similar books


Click on a subject to see other books listed with the same subject or to drill down into components of the subject — such as geographical locations, dates and so on.

Apologetics (586)

Christian ethics — Anglican authors (56)

Large type books (14073)

Theology, Doctrinal — Popular works (237)

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Libraries this book has an entry in:

Library of Congress (last modified on 07/23/2004)

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