Daily Archives: 9 Dec 2010

Fox News: Not News- Just Frauds

Fox News has been accused before ofpromoting Republican talking points.  Now, the Daily Beast reveals internal memos from Fox News executives that “echoed a key GOP talking point” during year’s health care debate.  In October 2009, as the Democrats introduced a public insurance option, Fox’s Washington managing editor, Bill Sammon, issued a memo to staff about how to describe the plan.  “Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible,” wrote Sammon, who also doubles as a conservative commentator when not overseeing news coverage.  “When it is necessary to use the term ‘public option’ (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation’s lexicon), use the qualifier ‘so-called,’ as in ‘the so-called public option,'” he continued.  “Here’s another way to phrase it: ‘The public option, which is the government-run plan.'”  Michael Clemente, the network’s senior vice president for news, thanked Sammon for his instructions and told staff that the third example is the “preferred way” to describe the public option.

Not that Fox had any credibility to begin with- but here’s proof of their partisan bias that even the mindless drones following O’Reilly and company can dispute.  Fox is no more a news outlet than the RNC or the DNC.  They’re all spin doctors and nothing more.

Texas: America’s Own Little Replica of Sudan

What's in my makeup bag

Illegal in Texas pretty soon (for men)

Texans apparently only want Christian legislators, so how long before what goes on in Sudan is enacted in Texas?

A Sudanese court convicted seven men of indecency on Wednesday after police accused them of wearing makeup during a fashion show in Khartoum, their lawyer said.  The men, amateur models at the “Sudanese Next Top Model Fashion Show” in June, were arrested by the public order police, a body known for its crackdowns on perceived indecent dress and drinking in the Muslim north, one defendant told Reuters.  All seven were found guilty on Wednesday and each fined 200 Sudanese pounds ($80), as was a woman who faced the same charge for applying the makeup, said lawyer Nabil Adib.  “The court thought that they were indecently dressed … The judge thought that wearing makeup could be offensive for men and allowing a woman to put makeup on men was against the law,” said Adib.

Men wearing makeup is kinda strange, let’s face it.  So Texas will doubtless soon enact Sudanese law.

I Wonder if An Ancient Curse Would Work Today?

If so, a newly discovered one could come in really handy right now and could be leveled at Westboro Hate Cult, the US Congress, and many, many, many others.  (With thanks to Chris Rollston on Facebook for mentioning this– )

An excavation team from Kyoto University working in Lebanon has found a lead plate believed to date from between the second and fourth centuries that was apparently used to invoke the spirits of the dead.  The 6-cm-wide, 14.7-cm-long plate, discovered near the entrance of an underground grave, is adorned with ancient Greek text that reads “May the unjust be removed from them” and “May signs of a gag and shame, and disgrace be given to them,” along with the names of four people, the team said Tuesday.

Yes, I think that might be a very useful curse these days indeed.

Texas…

Seriously, there’s something wrong with people these days.

texas only wants christians in the state legislature? really? The conservative Christian right is getting desperate, and in Texas, their white hoods are peeking out from beneath their Sunday best. According to a Fox News article by Judson Berger, there is a call from conservative Christian leaders to replace Jewish Republican Speaker of the Texas House, Strauss, with a conservative Christian: "…se … Read More

via XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell…

Remains in place.

Republicans blocked a last-ditch effort in the Senate to lift the military’s ban on openly gay troops on Thursday, dealing a major blow to gay rights groups and making it unlikely Congress could repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” any time soon.  The 57-40 vote fell three short of the 60 needed to overcome procedural hurdles to lift the 17-year-old ban. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican voting to advance the bill, and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it.

Let’s not ask any politicians to run again.  And then we won’t have to tell them how much we find them completely useless.

Yuval Goren et al on New Technologies and Cuneiform Texts

EA 161, letter by Aziru, leader of Amurru, (st...

Non-destructive provenance study of cuneiform tablets using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF), by Yuval Goren, Hans Mommsen, and Jörg Klinger in the Journal of Archaeological Science xxx (2010) 1-13.

From the abstract-

A group of tablets from Hattusa (Bogazköy) and from el Amarna, which were previously provenanced using optical mineralogy (OM) and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA), was analyzed by pXRF and the results were used to establish the grouping according to their elemental concentrations.

It’s, at you might guess, tremendously technical (and thorough) and for that very reason it should be of interest to folks who follow such things.

The Theologischer Verlag Zurich…

Is my favorite Swiss publisher.  Fantastic stuff is what they produce.  And I’ve mentioned their good work before.

At any rate, when I was last in Zurich I took a photo of their home-

Well they’ve had a bit of a paint job so they’ve sent along an updated photo today-

Looks nice, doesn’t it!

I need to get back to Zurich soon…  I’m starting to go into withdrawal.   (And no, I’m not on the payroll and I don’t benefit in any way materially or financially from my appreciative remarks concerning TVZ.  I do it out of love).

Archaeological Evidence Supporting Biblical Texts?

Aren has the info– which he got from Itamar Singer- which he got from

… C. Steitler  – “The Biblical King Toi of Hamath and the Late Hittite State of ‘P/Walas(a)tin’”. (Biblische Notizen 146 [2010]: 81-99) in which the author claims that one can identify the recently identified King Tatais, king of P/Walas(a)tin (from new inscriptions in Syria), with Toi, king of Hamath, mentioned in II Sam 8, 9-10; I Chr 18, 9-10.  This is the summary of the article as published:

David’s alliance with Toi, king of Hamath (2Sam 8,9-10) can be anchored in the historical context of Syria. Recent archaeological and philological studies have demonstrated the continuity between the Hittite Great Empire and the late Hittite kingdom, P/Walas(a)tin, to which Hamath belonged. Based on historical and onomastic analyses, the biblical Toi should be identified with a king of P/Walas(a)tin, Taitas.”

Read the rest of Aren’s remarks which are, as always, interesting.

On Dieting- An Observation

The best diet plan is to wear clothes so small that they make you feel uncomfortable- and they also make everyone around you feel uncomfortable too!

ASOR in Science Magazine

prof. Israel finkelstein at Sde Boker

Israel Finkelstein

You can read a little summary here (and it has to do with the project which Israel Finkelstein is spearheading) or if you’re a subscriber you can read Andrew Lawler’s full piece.

The summary states

At the [Annual] meeting [of ASOR], a series of biblical archaeologists came to the podium for 2 hours of data-rich presentations—and put their colleagues on notice that their field is in the midst of a scientific revolution. Biblical archaeology has often been heavy on textual analysis and slow to adopt scientific methods such as radiocarbon dating. Attempts to prove the accuracy of biblical accounts or to legitimize Jewish claims to the region have dogged the field. Now researchers are revolutionizing the region’s archaeology by applying a host of new technologies. The goal of their 5-year, $4 million effort, funded by the European Research Council, is to overcome the “strong ideological agenda” pervading the field.

No One Should Call Westboro a Baptist Church and No One Should Believe Those People are Even Remotely Christian

Rather, we should all understand them to be servants of evil and representatives of nothing but the lowest sort of inhumanity and indecency.  The group should be referred to as a Congregation of Satan, not as a Church.

Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church will be dispatching members of its congregation to protest the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards this Saturday, CNN reports.  The church has generated controversy with its confrontational and offensive demonstrations. “God Hate Fags” has become an unofficial calling card of the group, a phrase they say the world “needs to hear more than it needs oxygen, water and bread.” Another Westboro sign, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers,” is frequently displayed at military funerals and has created its own share of outrage.  In a promotional flier for the upcoming protest, the church references John and Elizabeth Edwards’s son Wade, who died in a car crash in 1996:  “When they were visited from the Most High God with the death of their 16-year-old son, they did not humble themselves before His mighty hand. They reared up in rage, decided they would show God who is boss, and meddled in matters of the womb, resulting in 2 more children — now motherless.”

Sick perverters of the truth.  And not Christians in any sense of the word.  They are as unlike Christ as light is unlike darkness.

People of the world, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, and all others- please do not for one second think these people are honestly representatives of our beloved faith.  Not for one second.  They do not represent us.  And nothing they say represents the truth.  They are liars.

The Weirdest Thing I’ve Ever Heard Of…

Is the ‘stay at home daughter’ movement.  A movement which believes that daughters ought to stay at home until they marry.  They should not go to college, they should not seek to think for themselves, and they should dutifully and joyfully serve their fathers until they have a husband…

I’m not kidding.  At first, when my own daughter told me about it, I thought it was a joke.  A horrible, misogynistic joke a la the Onion.  Alas, sadly, it is no joke at all!

I thank God that my own daughter is too smart and too wise to fall for such anti-Christian anti-intellectual rubbish.

Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope 
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’

The only people who would adopt such a view are those who hate their own children.  Male and female.  Such persons are, furthermore, totally depraved and totally misrepresenting Scripture and Christianity.

Still More Dreadful Dilettantism from Discovery

Oh boy… this headline takes the prize for most rambunctiously unsupported historically – JESUS’ GREAT GRANDMOTHER IDENTIFIED.

What? When? Where? How? (Why?????)

The great grandmother of Jesus was a woman named Ismeria, according to Florentine medieval manuscripts analyzed by a historian. The legend of St. Ismeria, presented in the current Journal of Medieval History, sheds light on both the Biblical Virgin Mary’s family and also on religious and cultural values of 14th-century Florence. “I don’t think any other woman is mentioned” as Mary’s grandmother in the Bible, Catherine Lawless, author of the paper, told Discovery News. “Mary’s patrilineal lineage is the only one given.”

Florentines… that explains it…

Anyway, WHAT? What rubbish. Oh Catherine, what are you doing? What possible historical use can be made of a medieval manuscript concerning the reconstruction of the life of the ‘Historical Mary’ (copyright, Jim West)?

“Mary herself is mentioned very little in the Bible,” added Lawless, a lecturer in history at the University of Limerick. “The huge Marian cult that has evolved over centuries has very few scriptural sources.”

Oh Catherine, please stick to history and leave the Bible alone. You’re bereft of knowledge concerning it. The Gospels have a lot to say about Mary (plenty anyway!). And her mother is never mentioned in its pages, much less granny or great granny or anyone else.

“According to the legend, Ismeria is the daughter of Nabon of the people of Judea, and of the tribe of King David,” wrote Lawless. She married “Santo Liseo,” who is described as “a patriarch of the people of God.” The legend continues that the couple had a daughter named Anne who married Joachim. After 12 years, Liseo died. Relatives then left Ismeria penniless. “I’m pretty sure one is supposed to believe that it was either her dead husband’s relatives or, less likely, her natal family,” Lawless said. “The family of the Virgin Mary would not have been cast in such a light.” Ismeria then goes to a hospital where she finds refuge. She is said to perform a miracle, filling a shell with fish to feed all of the hospital’s patients. After this miracle she prays to be taken away from the “vainglory of this world.” After God called her to “Paradise,” a rector at the hospital informed the Virgin Mary and Jesus of her passing. They departed for the hospital with the 12 Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Cleophas. There they paid honor to St. Ismeria.

So now legend is fodder for historical reconstruction? Have historians lost their minds? Is this the present state of the discipline? Please someone say no.

Discovery has become as disappointing as is humanly possible. Now they’re just pushing nonsense under the guise of scholarship.  (Via Antonio who, through no fault of his own, will be the bearer of the news that one day makes my head explode, literally).

10 Overrated Things From the Last Decade

According to Mark Juddery, top of the list is the ‘new atheism’.  Truly correct.  Nothing has been more overrated and overexposed (aside from Brett Favre) than the idiocy called ‘the new atheism’.  Juddery observes

..  just as it was cool in the nineties to come out as gay, it was cool in the 2000s (especially for really smart people) to adopt another once-scandalous lifestyle choice: atheism. The non-believers were inspired by such prophets as Christopher Hitchens (who devised the term “the new atheism”) and Richard Dawkins. Hitchens’ book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything was (as you might guess) an attack on religion, justifying the author’s own passionate atheism. This is like complaining against the management of the Elvis Presley Fan Club, and hence concluding that Elvis didn’t really exist.

Atheist ‘chic’ is passe.  Farewell, feckless sycophants of the 00’s lamest craze.  Here are the other 9 over-exaggerations we are all glad to see shuffle off into the sunset-

More Questing for the Historical Jesus

A forthcoming book has its introductory chapter posted at Bible and InterpretationIs This Not the Carpenter: A Question of Historicity? (London: Equinox Press, forthcoming 2011), ed. by Thomas Thompson and Tom Verenna.

It’s a fine collection of essays, truly.

Billionaires, I’m Not Impressed

Rent Money

Billionaires are billionaires precisely because they have managed to find a way to reap huge profits off of the backs of working class and poorer people so I’m not at all impressed when they pretend to love humanity and pledge to give their fortunes away.  It’s nothing more than thieves promising to give back to their victims what they’ve stolen and then expecting to be applauded for it and maybe even given a parade.

If these so called humanitarians were as egalitarian as they want everyone to think, they would produce goods and services at a much lower price, be satisfied with less personal income, distribute fairly to their employees and stockholders proper and ethical profits, and not flaunt their extravagance by purchasing homes that 30 families could live in or cars that cost more than most people make in 5 years of hard work

Legalized thievery is thievery nonetheless and self promoting thieves remain thieves nonetheless.  And I have more respect for Carlos Slim, who mocks the entire Buffet/ Gates charade, then I do Zuckerberg and the rest who are making publicity hay promising to do what I’m confident they will find a way of weaseling out of doing.

It’s a proven fact that poorer people are more generous in real time and in real ways (giving food and clothing to the even poorer than themselves) than are the super-wealthy who’s lifestyles are hardly impacted at all by even the most apparently generous donations to the most worthwhile causes.

If Gates and Buffet and Zuckerberg and the rest were really sincere, they’d give away everything they had to the poor and they would go and preach the Gospel.  When that happens, I’ll be impressed.  Until then, they remain the ‘rich young ruler’ who went away sorrowful because he wasn’t really all that interested in authentically helping people by sharing the Good News with them…  That is, after all, what people REALLY need (since mankind can’t possibly live by mere bread alone, but instead must subsist from every word that comes out of God’s mouth).

Would Someone Please Tell Sarah Palin that Julian Assange Isn’t an American…

So her whinings that his actions are ‘unamerican‘ are just ill-informed.

“No wonder others are keeping silent about Assange’s antics,” Palin emailed ABC News. “This is what happens when you exercise the First Amendment and speak against his sick, un-American espionage efforts.”

Does anyone see the irony of Palin’s remarks?  She wants her First Amendment rights preserved but she renounces people who want the government held accountable for its misdeeds…  And, by the way, the only reason governments fear the disclosure of the truth is because those governments are tyrannical.  Only deceivers have things they want kept hidden (the only legitimate exceptions being surprise parties and presents and other similar ‘good secrets’).  Things they know are wrong and so must not let get out in the light of public scrutiny.

Open societies of free peoples need not fear facts.  Closed societies of enslaved peoples do, though.

What? The Frankenstein Effect…

A scheme of the generation of induced pluripot...

life stew

US scientists have used stem cell technology to create mice from two fathers, an advance that they say could help preserve endangered species and even help same-sex couples have their own genetic children one day.  According to the study published Wednesday in the journal Biology of Reproduction, reproductive scientists in Texas were able to manipulate cells from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line.  These iPS cells are adult cells that have undergone some genetic reprogramming in order to enter an embryonic stem cell-like state.

And then follows a lot of science-y blather. What it boils down to is that science is becoming more and more Frankenstein-ish all the time.   Pretty soon the dream of the Nazis will be fulfilled and a master race will be produced.  A master Frankenstein race that is.

Spineless Dems Strike Again

Joe Biden und Barack Obama in Springfield, Ill...

Mr hope and Mr change

Slowly, painfully and reluctantly, congressional Democrats are slogging their way toward acceptance of President Barack Obama’s tax cut compromise, which would let rich and poor Americans keep Bush-era tax cuts that were scheduled to expire this month. After Obama publicly defended the plan for a third day Wednesday, and Vice President Joe Biden met with Democratic lawmakers in the Capitol for a second day, several Democrats predicted the measure will pass, mainly because of extensive Republican support.

Hello, Democrats…. the only way it can pass is if you ‘people’ vote for it since at present you remain the majority party in Congress. The majority… heavens. No wonder nothing has been done for the last two years except kowtowing to the Republicans. When jellyfish rule…  At any rate the Dems obviously don’t have a real problem for the ‘deal’ or they could just vote against it.  Reluctant?  hardly.

A lame Congress is just what the voters of America deserve, since it’s the voters of America who keep sending the same incompetent dullards back to Washington. I do not know why.  I suppose it’s attributable to Divine Providence.  God wishes to punish us for our national immorality and so we have the very leaders who will be our ultimate destruction.  The ironic bit is that we are the ones electing them…  Well, you are if you vote for any of the politicians from the two major parties.  I haven’t voted for a Dem or a Repub in years and I can’t really figure out why people still do.