Daily Archives: 3 Dec 2010

Corporate Hypocrisy: The Weight Watchers Edition

NPR reports

WeightWatchers Faults Processed Foods While Profiting From Them.

And then it gives all the gruesome details, including these fun facts

WeightWatchers makes good money from licensing and endorsements of foods ranging from special items on the menu at Applebee’s to frozen treats from Wells Dairy.  We asked the company several times this week about plans for its packaged food line now that its PointsPlus system tilts so strongly against processed foods. But a spokeswoman declined to answer questions or make available an executive to talk. So we decided to take a trip to our local Safeway to check out how the food sold now under the WeightWatchers name matches up with the company’s new points plan. After scanning the freezer case, we grabbed a box of WeightWatchers Smart Ones Artisan Creations Grilled Flatbread Savory Steak & Ranch. It’s a reasonable 300 calories, but then there’s the 570 mg of sodium, and an unimpressive 4 grams of dietary fiber. But there was nothing very whole or natural to be found among the ingredients. We counted no fewer than 80 distinct substances on the list from salt and soybean oil to titanium dioxide and ammonium chloride.

Nice huh… It’s just more of the same corporate hypocrisy American companies are more and more known for.  (Via Irene Hahn on FB).

A Fascinating Historical Photograph of the Temple Mount, and Other Fascinating Things

Taken in 1864–   (The image is under copyright so you’ll have to go there to see it) –

From the Photograph Album “Views of Jerusalem” which contains photographs taken by the Sgt. McDonald for Ordnance Survey in 1864, as well as images by other photographers, especially Robertson & Beato & Co, and Hammerschmidt.   The P numbers for this album run from P4748 to P4886.  Wilson photo album.

Other photos in the Palestine Exploration Fund ‘photo stream’ can be viewed here.  With many thanks to Dorothy King for pointing it out.  There are some real beauties and views you’ve never seen elsewhere ever.

Two Pastors in the News: Darkness and Light

First, the tale of the totally depraved reprobate arrested for public lewdness

The pastor of a Nassau Bay Catholic church is among the people who have been charged with public lewdness following a raid at two adult video stores along the Gulf Freeway.  Alberto A. Maullon Jr., 52, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday, Dec. 9 for the public lewdness charge.  Rev. Maullon has served as the pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Nassau Bay near Johnson Space Center since 2002. He has “requested and been granted a leave of absence from his ministerial duties,” according to a statement issued Friday by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. …  The adult video stores were raided Wednesday and several clients were arrested.  Houston police say at least three men are accused of inappropriate behavior in booth theaters inside Big City Video & News and 24/7 Video Store.  Officers arrested two men inside Big City Video & News on charges of public lewdness and indecent exposure and an employee was also arrested.

And the second Pastor, also arrested, but for a very different reason

A pastor was arrested for loitering after passing out Gospel tracts on a public sidewalk outside of a local mosque in Wichita, Kansas. Pastor Mark Holick, of the Spirit One Christian Center, told the Gazette he was with 14 members of his church passing out packets containing copies of the Gospel of John and Romans along with a DVD featuring testimonies of former Muslims. Holick said they offered the packets to individuals as they exited services at the mosque. When offering the packets, members of Holick’s group said, “We have a free gift for you.”

I suppose if Muslims had been passing out copies of portions of the Qur’an in front of Churches everyone would applaud and throw a parade and laud the openness and tolerance of Muslims merely trying to spread the message of their faith.

All of which is to say- in America, it’s better to be arrested for passing out tracts to Muslims than it is to be arrested for exposing yourself in an adult bookstore…  Or as the First Epistle of Peter (3:17) puts it,

κρεῖττον γὰρ ἀγαθοποιοῦντας, εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, πάσχειν ἢ κακοποιοῦντας.

The Difference Between Men and Women

who are you?

Is simply and easily illustrated here:

Try to imagine spending eight months so fearful of being approached by men seeking sex that you spent most of your days fighting nausea, panic attacks, and struggling to sleep at night. That’s what two Connecticut women are alleging after a co-worker created accounts in their names on Adult Friend Finders, billed “the world’s largest Sex & Swinger” website, according to a recent lawsuit filed in Hartford Superior Court. For Amellia Morelli and Rhonda Voytas, the nightmare began in March of 2009 when Joseph DeJoseph, a co-worker at Pratt & Whitney, obtained their personal information from work computers and employee files, the lawsuit said. DeJoseph used that information to set up profiles on the site, where he listed them as “bisexual, promiscuous, and willing to have or schedule sexual encounters,” it said. DeJoseph went on to pose as the two women on the site’s chat rooms, where he would give out their locations, phone numbers, even set up meetings where sexual acts were supposed to take place, the lawsuit said.

In short, men are, by and large, interested in but one thing (two things) – conquest and sex (which is basically one thing). Women have broader (wider) interests (or so we’re led to believe).

Hence, while women find this (they tell us) utterly disgusting and totally depraved, were the tables turned and it happen to men, they would rejoice and be exceedingly glad to imagine that every woman within 1000 yards secretly had an interest in them.

So, in sum, men don’t care if anyone knows they’re interested in sex and women pretend not to be (but secretly are just as much as men). The difference lies, then, in honesty.

[Now that I’ve alienated everyone I feel like I’ve managed to do my job].

Alexander Joffe on ‘Biblical Archaeology’

Alexander Joffe has a really interesting essay titled The Changing Place of Biblical Archaeology: Exceptionalism or Normal Science?, in Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future – The New Pragmatism, (T.E. Levy, ed.). It’s found on pp. 328-348 and the volume is published by Equinox. (2010).

In this book, over 20 noted archaeologists and Biblical scholars join together to answer a wide range of questions that bear on future research such as: What are the most important issues in Biblical archaeology to be researched now and in the near future? Why are Biblical archaeology, the Bible, and Ancient Jewish history important in the curriculum of universities in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world today and in the future? How should graduate students be trained to be professionals in the interdependent fields of archaeology and Biblical studies in the future? Using their own research projects, these scholars show how their work can be used to build a foundation for future research in Biblical archaeology, Ancient Jewish history and the Biblical studies.

Joffe’s essay is thusly abstracted:

No Thanks, ‘Christian Publisher’, I’m Not Interested in Your Rubbish

Sales calls are annoying things- especially since, if I want something, I’ll get it myself.  I don’t need ‘Christian’ publishers peddling rubbish dilettantism to call me up and tell me about their latest and greatest video series featuring Rick Warren or Beth Moore or some other feckless know-nothing.

But beyond the annoyance of such calls is the recently used sign off of one of the callers:

‘Thank you Pastor West and Happy Holidays…’

WHAT?????  You’re a ‘Christian’ publisher and you can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ to a person who you know is obviously a Cleric????  Appalling!

Even were I predisposed to buy your ’15 Weeks to a Successful Church’  (which i never will be) there’s no way in the fiery pits of Satan’s Gehenna that I’d do so now.  If you’re a Christian company and you can’t manage to escape the stupidity of ‘political correctness’ long enough to say ‘Merry Christmas’ then I have no use for you at all and won’t be lining your pockets with Christian funds.

Shopping Ninja Barbie and other Hot Toys for 2011 (via The Book of Terrible)

The ‘book of Terrible: Shining a Light on Mankind’s missteps…’ why, oh why didn’t I come up with that fantastic blog name! I love it. And this post is brilliant in its scathing sarcasm.

i’m subscribing. I want more of it.

Shopping Ninja Barbie and other Hot Toys for 2011 Now that Black Friday has passed across North America like a tornado of human greed and madness, the glorious holiday season is upon us. And with it many terrible things to revel in. Like crazy cougars rampaging through Wal-mart, their eyes glowing a bright red as they  tackle children and the elderly, anyone in the direct path of the latest sale. Or teenagers searching for cheap, crappy gifts for their parents, which the parents have paid for, o … Read More

via The Book of Terrible

You Really, Really Don’t Want to be an Archaeologist, Do You?

If you think you do, check out what i’ll call the ‘saltpeter’ of the aspiring archaeologist.  With great thanks to Robert Cargill for posting it.

17,000 Have Been Evacuated in Israel

Because of the approach of the nation’s largest and worst fire disaster in its history.  Haifa is under threat.

Mass evacuations continued across northern Israel Friday morning as dry easterly winds fanned a massive brushfire towards the city of Haifa.  Over 17,000 residents, including 600 prison inmates, were evacuated as the blaze raged out of control, devastating hundreds of acres of pine forest before sweeping down the slopes of the Carmel plateau towards Israel’s third largest city.

Heavens!  This is horrible.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said evacuations would continue and that authorities would take no risks where civilian lives were in danger.  “Evacuations will be conducted as needed, with sufficient advance warning. We do not want any more injuries,” said Netanyahu, who called an emergency cabinet meeting for Friday morning.  As the fire raged on, the town Isfiyeh, a center for Israel’s Druze community, much of which is concentrated in the Carmel mountains, was next to be evacuated.  Police also evacuated prisoners from Prison 6 and Carmel Prison, as well as students in Haifa University dormitories, who were transferred to a nearby high school.  Some 200 patients from the Tirat Hacarmel psychiatric hospital were also evacuated.

Just ghastly.  God have mercy.

Video Barbie? What Was Mattel Thinking?

If your strange uncle gives your little girl a Barbie this Christmas you might want to make sure it stays in the box.

Beware of Barbie.  That seems to be the message from the FBI after an internal memo reportedly leaked from the agency’s Sacramento field office this week.  The memo (PDF) warns that Barbie Video Girl, a doll with a built-in video camera capable of recording for about 30 minutes, is a “possible child pornography production method.”  There have been no reported incidents since the toy was first released in July.

No, not yet…

The FBI memo, dated November 30, seems to be a few months behind TechCrunch, where reviewer Paul Carr called the product “child abuse waiting to happen” during a review at the time of the product’s release. He described it as “creepy,” then read from a press release from the PR firm that sent Tech Crunch the toy: “Unsuspecting subjects won’t know that Barbie is watching their every move.”  “This is for frickin’ pedophiles!” Carr exclaimed.  While the product’s capabilities may give some parents second thoughts, it appears to be a hot item this holiday season. A reporter for CBS 13 in Sacramento found that a local WalMart was sold out of the item, and also said that it was sold out online.

Paul Carr is probably right.  It is creepy, it serves no legitimate purpose, and will no doubt be in the news again…

Recovery? Only for Wall Street – And Congress Fiddles While the Country Burns

The seal of the United States Department of Labor.

Regular Americans are still having a tough time finding work and the billions pumped into the economy have sure been of tremendous benefit- to businesses and stock holders.  God bless America…

Employment barely grew in November and the jobless rate unexpectedly hit a seven-month high, hardening views the Federal Reserve would stick to its $600 billion plan to shore up the fragile recovery. Nonfarm payrolls rose 39,000, with private hiring gaining only 50,000, a Labor Department said on Friday. However, data for September and October was revised to show 38,000 more jobs were gained in those months than previously estimated. The unemployment rate in November jumped to 9.8 percent, a troubling sign for an economy many had thought was strengthening. Economists had expected 140,000 new jobs last month with the jobless rate holding steady.

Meanwhile, at Congress

The House on Thursday gave final congressional approval to a bill that would prevent advertisers from abruptly raising the volume to catch the attention of viewers wandering off when regular programming is interrupted. The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) said it was her own “earsplitting experiences” that got her involved, recalling how the ads “blew us out of the house” when she watched television, already set at a high volume, with her parents. But she said her office also has gotten many messages of support and that at home people come up to her in restaurants and supermarkets to ask how the bill is doing.

Yes, God bless America, where our leaders have their priorities in as good a shape as the massa perditionis.

T&T Clark Has One and So Do Other Publishers…

So word that Eerdmans is going to enter the blogosphere is neither surprise nor shock.  But it is good news.  At least for those of us who appreciate the often good work they do for the field of biblical and theological studies.

Eerdmans is starting a blog! With contributions from authors, editors, and more, EerdWord will illustrate how today’s philosophies and theologies relate to everyday life. Join us on January 3, 2011, as we launch our new blog. Currently under construction, EerdWord will go live at http://www.eerdword.wordpress.com on January 3, 2011.

So keep an eye out.

Is Revelation a Pseudepigraphic Text?

It’s an interesting question, posed by James McGrath.

Has anyone explored the possibility that Revelation is not an exception [to the pseudepigraphal rule]? It certainly is the case that Revelation does not claim to be written by someone in the distant past, as was true of most Jewish apocalypses. But for the purported author to be a Christian, it would have had to be someone from the recent past. And so perhaps it is worth exploring the possibility that this is an early Christian pseudepigraphal work, an apocalypse in the name of an apostle of the sort that Christians would continue to produce in the centuries that followed.

Interesting, right?  Yet it seems that James is blurring the line between ‘apocalyptic’ literature and ‘pseudepigraphal’ literature.   These two genres share some characteristics but are distinct enough so as not to be confused with one another.   That later Christians do in fact blend them (think of the ‘Apocalypse of Peter’, for only one example) and it seems a certainty that even early Christians blurred the lines too.

So James’ question deserves, I think, some consideration.

Looking for WikiLeaks?

The American hosted server shut it down but it’s still available at www.wikileaks.ch.  At least the Swiss still assert the right of peoples to question the actions of their governments.

The Israel Fire: Murder

Ha’aretz writes

If the Carmel disaster turns out to be man-made and if the perpetrators are caught, they should be tried for murder.

Indeed! At present 41 lives have been claimed by this horrific disaster (not to mention the toll taken on the beautiful Camel landscape.

The inevitable official inquiry into yesterday’s calamitous chain of events in the Carmel disaster will not have to look far to see the structural failures in handling large fires. It can start by looking at the State Comptroller’s 2007 report that castigated the fire service facilities.

Dreadful. Doubtless there’ll be more to come.

Two New Reviews of ‘Looting the Holy Land’

By Joe Zias and Israel Finkelstein have been posted at Bible and Interpretation in their new section for such media concerns.  My own sentiments are more positive.