Daily Archives: 21 Dec 2010

So True…

Santa Can’t Give You a Job

I don’t know why this annoys me but it does.  Oh wait, yes, I do know why: the only reason a grown woman would write Santa is in hopes that news of her so doing would result in publicity (which it has) in hopes that some kind soul might give her a job.

Like millions of jobless people across the country, the holidays aren’t looking bright for Melinda Pfeiffer, a North Carolina woman who has been out of work for ten months. With no where to turn, Pfeiffer wrote an emotional letter to Santa — published in her local newspaper — asking for one Christmas present : a job. In her letter, Pfeiffer sent well wishes to her fellow struggling unemployed Americans, hoping they would also be able to find work, WRAL.com reports.

Has America really become a place where skills, diligence, and a willingness to ‘pound the pavement’ in search for employment has been replaced by stunts and silliness and – let’s face it – laziness?

If I owned a company and someone wrote a letter to Santa asking for employment I’d pass them up without a second thought.  Companies want workers, industrious souls, not celebrity minded publicity stunt-ers.

Academic Position Announcement

Dept of Humanities
University of Gloucestershire

The Department proposes to offer a studentship for a PhD in the area of the Bible and Spirituality. The studentship will be held within a three-year project sponsored by the Department’s Research Centre for the Bible and Spirituality in conjunction with the Bible Society. Its aim is to explore forms of spirituality that find expression in the Bible, and the relation of these to other contemporary concepts of spirituality. The studentship, which is designed to cover a substantial part of the student’s costs, may be awarded to a suitably qualified candidate who proposes to work in any area of biblical spirituality, Old Testament or New Testament, within the terms of the project. The studentship will begin in February or September 2011, and is renewable annually. Further details are available on request from:

Mrs Patricia Downes
Humanities Courses Administrator
University of Gloucestershire


[Via Viv Rowett]

James McGrath Hits One Million Visitors…

Or one visitor visiting one million times, and in a fit of exuberance, makes way to his local watering hole. Unfortunately, things turned out quite badly…

A perfect example as to why bloggers shouldn’t drink and blog…

[In all seriousness, congrats to James on the milemarker].

Teaching Aramaic (via Sheffield Biblical Studies)

Give it a read. An interesting piece for a cold winter afternoon. Or anytime really. It just so happens that it’s a cold winter afternoon.

From the Guardian: It is the language that Christ spoke, but is regarded as "endangered" with ever fewer scattered groups of native speakers. But in Oxford, Aramaic has been flourishing again, with a course in the ancient language drawing people from as far afield as Liverpool and London. There are now 56 people learning Aramaic at the university, including three classics professors, solemnly completing their weekly homework tasks and regularly a … Read More

via Sheffield Biblical Studies

Quote of the Day

I hate “annoymous” peer reviews. Please remind me of this when I’m Professor in Large College With Lots of Money. Dear Annoymous Peer Reviewer, You ain’t my “peer” because you have a job, you’re ancient and I know you wear tweed. I can also tell from the books that you’re saying I should have referenced that you wrote them…. Regards, Me. — Anonymous Friend!

[She speaks great truth through humor]

There Can No Longer Be Any Doubt: The Red Cross Isn’t Worth Supporting

The Red Cross has banned Christmas…  As Stephen remarks, that’s irony!

Christmas has been banned by the Red Cross from its 430 fund-raising shops.  Staff have been ordered to take down decorations and to remove any other signs of the Christian festival because they could offend Moslems.  The charity’s politically-correct move triggered an avalanche of criticism and mockery last night – from Christians and Moslems.  Christine Banks, a volunteer at a Red Cross shop in New Romney, Kent, said: ‘We put up a nativity scene in the window and were told to take it out. It seems we can’t have anything that means Christmas. We’re allowed to have some tinsel but that’s it.  ‘When we send cards they have to say season’s greetings or best wishes. They must not be linked directly to Christmas.  ‘When we asked we were told it is because we must not upset Moslems.’  Mrs Banks added: ‘ We have been instructed that we can’t say anything about Christmas and we certainly can’t have a Christmas tree.  ‘ I think the policy is offensive to Moslems as well as to us. No reasonable person can object to Christians celebrating Christmas. But we are not supposed to show any sign of Christianity at all.’  Labour peer Lord Ahmed, one of the country’s most prominent Moslem politicians, said: ‘It is stupid to think Moslems would be offended.

The Red Cross has mismanaged funds and paid its leadership too much but this really is the straw that broke the back of the intelligent camel.  There can no longer be any doubt:  the Red Cross isn’t worth supporting.

Joe Zias on the CBS ‘City of David’ Report

City of David Archaeology Site

Image by Randall Niles via Flickr

Back in October CBS aired a segment on 60 Minutes on Silwan which generated a bit of discussion- especially in Israel. Joe Zias has recently had a chance to view the report and he writes the following:

I just watched it and got my blood pressure up as I fully agree with CBS 60 minutes and the Palestinians over this one. This is a settler enterprise, funded to a great extent by American orthodox Jews, American Christian fundamentalists and Pentecostals. Many of my colleagues are against this and while I could go on and on let me cite but three things which in a way exemplify much of what is wrong here [in Jerusalem].

A. Across the hill is the Mt of Olives, we lived there for several years until I got drafted by the IDF in 1974. For the sake of the Arab neighbors we returned to west Jerusalem. During our stay we were the only Jewish/Israeli family there and during the Yom Kippur War the Arabs made sure that we were protected, the three of us and our property. At one point we left the village to return to the kibbutz which needed manpower for the ‘falcha’. When we returned several weeks later our property was as it was before the war, untouched. And being the only Jewish family there, everyone knew us. Today there is another Jewish (settler) family living there, IL flags flying atop the roof tops, fences and security around the clock fully funded by the taxpayers, including the Palestinians living there.

B. In the City of David, I happened by chance to discover ancient inscriptions on the Tomb of Absalom ca. 10 years ago which had gone unnoticed for centuries. Mayor Olmert and company helped fund the project as the inscriptions were 10 meters in the air and it was costly. Once we read the inscriptions which were in Greek it showed that during the Byzantine period they believed it was the tomb of the father of John the Baptist along with the worlds oldest NT inscription in stone. The find was widely published, lots of media attention; however as it’s Christian, settler guides there today totally ignore the find and on the model of the tombs which the public sees in the entrance to the City of David, the tomb of ‘Absalom’ does not appear. Once Olmert left and the new mayor was Hasidic, I had to fund out of pocket much of the rest of the research there, which until today I was never able to recoup. As far as excavations in the City of David go, one must remember that Yigal Shilo from the Hebrew University worked there for a number of years some three decades ago with little if any trouble with the local people living there. Why? Well for one (and perhaps the main) reason, there were no settlers there attempting to take over the whole area. Remove the settlers from the equation and peace will return to the ancient ‘City of David’.

C. A colleague in Tel Aviv Univ., Rafi Greenberg, has set up with the local Arabs an alternative website and monthly tours of the City of David. When I joined one (ca. 10 people) several months ago, we were at the Siloam pool on a Friday afternoon and suddenly a settler appeared and asked us to leave saying that he wished to undress and enter the water. As we had been there first we told him, ‘help yourself, go into the water, we’ve seen naked men before’ however as women were there and he didn’t have much of a sense of humor, he refused and told us to leave. We responded that we would leave when Prof. Greenberg finished explaining the pool and not before. The settler disappeared and returned immediately with an armed guard who was guarding one of the settler houses. A shouting match ensued and we told both of them that we would leave only when we were good and ready and if he wanted a mikva before Sabbath there were probably a 100 or more here and there in Jerusalem. Seeing that we were a rather ‘stiff necked people’ unwilling to ‘turn the other cheek’ and not bow down to their demands they left.

I could go on and on. However as my blood pressure is up I have to go for a morning run. I’m speaking publicly about this because many of us are interested in the future of Jerusalem. Today this is how things are in the city of Jerusalem and the 60 Minutes segment accurately expresses the problems and misrepresentations of the facts there.


I appreciate Joe’s perspective.  He lives in the city and his view from there is much more useful than that of others who don’t.

Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs

Adrianna Wright has sent along a new commentary in the Apollos series for me to take a look at.  Ecclesiates and the Song of Songs.

The review is available here.  And here is the table of contents-


Author’s preface
1. What is man?
2. What is the advantage?
3. But is everything temporary?
4. Author and date
5. Other themes
6. History of interpretation
7. Genre
8. Language
9. Purpose
10. Structure

Text and commentary


Author’s preface
1. Canonicity
2. Date
3. Authorship
4. Interpretational approaches
5. Literature
6. Unity
7. Structure
8. Theme

Text and commentary

Texas Redneckism Under Fire

Civil rights groups are unhappy with Texas and its school system.  So they’re going on the offensive against Texas redneckism.

Two civil rights organizations are seeking a federal review of public school education in Texas, accusing state school administrators of violating federal civil rights laws after curriculum changes approved earlier this year by the Texas Board of Education.  The request to the U.S. Department of Education made by the Texas NAACP and Texas League of United Latin American Citizens on Monday contended that the curriculum changes passed in May “were made with the intention to discriminate” and would have a “stigmatizing impact” on African-American and Latino students.  “The State of Texas is failing to provide many of its minority students with equal educational opportunities,” documents sent to the federal department said.

To see what Texas has done to textbooks (and how they’ve completely manipulated history), read this older report.

Paul Anderson Reviews NatGeo’s ‘Jesus: The Man’

Over at Bible and InterpretationGive the review a read.  And please remember, if you watch some tv special or movie which has a biblical or archaeological theme, do write a review and send it to Bible and Interpretation for consideration for their new Review page.

Oh You Crazy Germans…

Via Thomas Römer on Facebook, titled ‘German Advertising’

Is that really how Germany wants to market itself?  Are those its highlights these days?


Dot King has pointed out a fantastic resource which maps Europe throughout history.

Euratlas Periodis Web shows the history of Europe through a sequence of 21 historical maps, every map depicting the political situation at the end of each century.

Take a look.   It’s pretty cool.

Afghanistan: A Septic Tank of Fraud

Your Government is throwing your money down a toilet in Afghanistan and it’s swirling about in a septic tank of fraud.  We have roads and schools and hospitals to build in our own country (with our own crumbling infrastructure and outdated electrical grid and miserably inefficient water and sewage systems).  So why are we wasting so much money in Afghanistan and why are we supporting a corrupt puppet king?  Why?  Because too few are telling their elected representatives how feckless their actions are.  Your money, in other words, is being wasted because you don’t care enough about it to speak up.

Waste and fraud in U.S. efforts to rebuild Afghanistan while fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban may have cost taxpayers billions of dollars, a special investigator said on Monday.  Arnold Fields, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said the cost of U.S. assistance funding diverted or squandered since 2002 could reach “well into the millions, if not billions, of dollars.” “There are no controls in place sufficient enough to ensure taxpayers’ money is used for the (intended) purpose,” said Fields, whose independent office was created in 2008 to energize oversight of what U.S. auditors have described as a giant, poorly coordinated aid effort that has sunk some $56 billion into Afghanistan since 2002.  Of that sum, some $29 billion has gone to building up Afghanistan’s nascent security forces, many of whose members cannot read and are just learning to shoot.  Another $16 billion has gone to trying to develop this poor country, where life expectancy is just 45 years and only 28 percent of people are literate, and to strengthening governance, said Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general.

And it’s all made possible by your silence…

Just When You Think You’ve Heard it All…

Section through the head of the femur, showing...

Did you know that bone marrow donors are being lured by models to give?  Did you know that those models hang out at malls and approach people soliciting their marrow?  Yeah, me neither.

Justin Judkins was approached at a shopping mall by a pretty young model, “all dolled up,” wearing high heels, a white lab coat and electric blue wig.  The woman asked him if he wanted to be a hero and save a child’s life. How could he say no?  Like thousands of other people, Judkins agreed to allow bone marrow registry workers to swab the inside of his cheek for a DNA test — lured by a recruiting pitch that an official with a national donor registry calls “a little unusual.”

Not I.  If someone solicited medical services at the mall I’d think it some sort of creepy scam.  Some things are just too bizarre for words.

The Violence Disease

People seem to be more and more infected with it.  It’s the default method of solving problems for everyone from little kids on the playground to adults running governments and armies.  It’s even found at what should be one of life’s most joyful moments- a wedding:

A bridegroom fatally shot his new wife, his best man and then himself after announcing to horrified guests that he had a “surprise” for them, authorities said Monday.  Witnesses reported that 29-year-old Rogerio Damascena, a sales manager in Camaragibe, outside the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife, did not give any previous indication that anything was wrong at his wedding reception, police investigator Joao Brito said.

Madness?  Sickness?  Depravity?  Evil?  Cruelty?  Yes.   And their cause?  Sin.  Violence is a disease we humans gleefully imbibe.  To our own destruction.

I Must Respectfully Decline…

Apparently Phillip Greaves has supporters (!) out there who are as off as he is.  This delightful comment arrived (but wasn’t approved) in connection with news of his arrest.

You’ll have to click it to see it clearly.  But when you do you’ll see why I must respectfully decline his request.