March 2008


Justin Hardin, a friend of my from my undergrad days at Ouachita (pron: washita), recently got hired at Oxford’s Wycliffe Hall (see the news update here). 

Matthew Montonini over at New Testament Perspectives has a good blog interview with Justin about his recent appointment and, more importantly, his work on Paul and Roman Imperialism.

Jim Hamilton also has an interview with Justin regarding the Paul and Imperialism, with a good bit of discussion around my own doktorvater’s (John Barclay) views expressed in his debate with NT Wright. 

Many of the main historical sights in England are managed by National Trust and English Heritage

We are members of English Heritage, and have been pleased with it.  Students (that includes college students) get a reduced rate, and kids go free if you have one adult membership (including as a student).  So it definitely made sense for me to join, but since most of our sight seeing has been to EH sites, it’s made sense for Heather to join as well.  The benefit of being with EH is that you get 1/2 price off for Historic Scotland and Cadw Wales the first year, and they’re free after that.  Places EH runs that we’ve really enjoyed are Finchale Priory (just outside of Durham), Lindisfarne/Holy Island, Stonehenge, Belsay Hall (a manor, garden, and castle about 1 hr from Durham), Scarborough Castle, Richmond Castle, to name a few.  In Scotland, the castles at Edinburgh, Stirling, and St. Andrews are all run by Historic Scotland.

To get places we’ve found that BritRail Passes are convenient for when visitors are over.  They give you flexibility with train times and are reasonably priced, especially for groups.  Also, it definitely pays for college students to get a Young Person’s Railcard–it’s £24/year, but you save about 1/3 off rail tickets.  (You can still get it if you are 26+ as long as you are a full-time student).

I needed a form notarised, so I poked around on the internet.  I found information about notaries and ‘commissioners for oaths’, but I thought I just ask someone here what they thought.  They recommended going to see a solicitor (~’lawyer’).  I went to one in the city centre, and his secretary said that he wasn’t a notary and wouldn’t sign anything that had the word notary on the form.  But she was kind enough to send me to the only firm in town (with 80k people) that she knew of that had a notary.  (I’m not sure what notaries do in the UK but they are not ubiquitous as in the US.) 

I got a lift from a friend and headed over there.  I was told that I could have the notary sign the form for a mere £70+tax (~$140).  I knew this form didn’t need £70 worth of authentication, so I asked if there was another option.  She said a solicitor could administer an oath and sign it for just £5, and that sounded about right.  So she produced a Bible and had me hold it in my hand while swearing that I am who I say I am and that all the information on the form is accurate.  Not what I expected, but it got the job done.

Here is some information about new tax rules beginning 6 April 2008 (the beginning of the UK tax year):

Income Tax

  • The personal allowance (i.e earnings on which there is no income tax due) is increasing from £5,225 to £5,435 per annum
  • The current starting rate of tax of 10% for earnings up to £2,230 per annum is being abolished
  • The basic rate of income tax is reducing from 22% to 20% and will be levied on all earnings up to the higher tax (40%) limit
  • The higher tax (40%) limit is increasing from £ 34,600 to £ 36,000 per annum

So the first £5,435 will be tax free, the next £30,565 will be taxed at 20% and earnings thereafter will be taxed at 40%.  This amount excluded is similar to that of the US, but for ordinary income, the US has several more steps between its lowest (10%) and highest (36%?) rates.

National Insurance

  • The minimum earnings where NI is not deducted rises from £435 to £455 per month
  • NI is then payable at either 9.4% or 11% depending on your pension status.  NI is deducted at this rate on earnings and the earnings limit is increasing from £2,904 per month to £3,337 per month.
  • NI is then payable at 1%

So the first £5,460 will be NI free, the next £34,580 will suffer NI deductions at 9.4% or 11% and earnings thereafter will suffer NI deductions at 1%.  Again, the percentages are higher (7.6% US vs 11%) but not much different.

Okay.  So I’m an idiot, I guess.  I’ve wondered aloud in my previous post about why there is not a font that includes both polytonic Greek and Hebrew in one place.  I never read the resources that I recommended in my original post about unicode well enough, because The Tyndale Tech Bulletin clearly states that Cardo has both Greek and Hebrew–it also has Coptic and apparently every character TLG lists.  Duh!

So after doing a few quick tests of Cardo‘s look–English and Greek (my two primary), I think it looks great.  There were actually a couple of things with Gentium (e.g., the italics ‘l’ doesn’t italicise), and I didn’t see anything weird with Cardo.  It looks very Times Romanish.  So unless something weird creeps up it will be my overall unicode font from here onwards.

[Update:  Looks like I'll be sticking with Gentium.  Cardo is a 'large font' per its website.  Apparently that means that it takes up more space vertically than a normal font, so line spacing gets wacky with Cardo.  It's enough that I don't want to have to fool with changing line spacing depending on which font I use--it kind of defeats the purpose universal switchability of unicode.  Since I'm not doing Hebrew it's not really a problem, but it's unfortunate.]

Tim at the God Fearin’ Fiddler Forum has Patristic Carnival IX up.

Following up on my previous post about unicode fonts… Nijay had some font issues with SPIonic when sending a file to someone.  He found out from David Instone Brewer (the Tyndale House tech guy) that there are apparently two versions of the SPIonic font, but they don’t work with one another.  When I googled this, I couldn’t find anything to back it up.  I’ve had similar issues, and I thought it was just the computer I was on.   [Update: It turns out that the copy of SPIonic I had was not 'true type' (look in your Windows: Font folder to see). I don't know how I got the old/bad version, but it defiitely won't work for others, read the JSNT editor.]

I was almost convinced by a friend here to start using GFS Elpis as the unicode font for my work.  But it turns out that it is a ‘Open Type’ font instead of a ‘True Type’ font.  But he also let me know that Word will only let you embed true type fonts.  (Embedding the font makes it available to anyone who opens the file, whether or not they’ve downloaded the font onto their system.)  I’m not sure how it would make a difference if it’s unicode, but just in case I’m sticking with Gentium.  Can anybody tell me why they haven’t come up with a font with Greek and Hebrew?

[Duh! I don't read very well because Cardo is a 'True Type' font that has both Greek and Hebrew! See my other post for details.]

Over at Christianity Today, Scot McKnight has a brief post on The 8 Marks of a Robust Gospel.  I thought it was worth the 10 min it took to read it.  I think it captures the sentiment that I am working towards–helping protestants to see a larger scope in soteriology through the lenses of patristic theologians.

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