Daily Archives: 27 Dec 2010

The Worst Congress in American History

No surprises here.  Everyone who thinks even moderately clearly already knew of the incompetence of the feckless dolts in Washington.

Americans’ assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.

That means that 13% of the people polled work for or in Congress or are lobbyists who make money hand over fist from the imbeciles there.

Americans currently hold Congress in lower esteem for the job it is doing than at any point in the last 36 years. In the past month, many of the supporters it had, largely Democrats, appear to have become frustrated with its work. That frustration seems to be taken out more on the Democratic congressional majority than on the president, whose approval rating has been relatively stable between 44% and 46% since the election among all Americans, and between 78% and 81% among Democrats.

Conference Announcement: The Annual Symposium in Memory of Prof. Yohanan Aharoni

Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology
Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures
Friends of the Institute of Archaeology

The Annual Symposium in Memory of Prof. Yohanan Aharoni – Thursday, February 17th, 2011, Gilman Building – Tel-Aviv University Campus

Biblical Archaeology and the Pursuit of Certainty: The Role of Science and Technology

13:30 Reception
14:00 Greetings and Awarding of Institute Grants – Chair: Ze’ev Herzog

Part I: Science, Technology and Archaeology: Research Perspectives – Chair: Yuval Gadot (Tel-Aviv University)

14:30 Bronze Age Radiocarbon Dating: An “Opsimistic” View – Ezra Marcus (University of Haifa)
15:00 A New Frontier in Ceramic Studies: 3D Imaging in the Study of Typological Microvariation – Talia Neuman (Hebrew University)
15:30 Beyond the Lab: Trends and Developments in Archaeo-metallurgical Research – Naama Yahalom-Mack (Tel Aviv University and Weizmann Institute of Science)
16:00 Matter and Spirit: Teaching Ancient Technologies to Students of Archaeology – Yuval Goren (Tel Aviv University)
16:30 Coffee Break

Part II: Debating the Future of Biblical Archaeology: Do Science and Technology Show the Way? – Chair: Raphael Greenberg (Tel Aviv University)

17:15 Gematria’s Ghost: Quantification, Digitization, and the Mirage of Historical Certainty – Neil A. Silberman (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
18:00 Discussants – Steve Weiner (Weizmann Institute of Science), Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University), Yuval Yekutieli (Ben-Gurion University).
18:45 Response – Neil Silberman

(Via Jack Sasson)

Heading to Acapulco to Escape the Snow?

You might want to reconsider

Police in the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco have found the decapitated, mutilated bodies of two men in front of a bar where 11 men were reportedly abducted earlier this month.  Police in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero say the men’s hands and feet had been cut off.  Eleven men were reported abducted from the bar on Dec. 17. Such establishments are frequently the targets of extortion attempts.

The carnage of the Mexican Killing Fields continues to multiply.  There’s just no place safe there, thanks to drugs and drug trafficking.

Geza Vermes on Herod

Herod the Great

Herod the Wonderful...

It must be the year for defending the justly maligned (like Judas Iscariot and Constantine and now Herod). Geza Vermes has set about to reclaim Herod as an actual member of human society. With thanks to Joseph Lauer for the tip.

In short, both Jewish and Christian traditions treat him as Herod the Terrible. The historian, however, is fully aware, despite Herod’s grave shortcomings, of his unparalleled political and cultural accomplishments. In particular, his long friendship with Augustus was highly beneficial to the inhabitants of Judea and the Jewish religion. Moreover, while Herod enjoyed the enviable status of a “client king, friend of the Roman people”, none of his descendants, if the short reign of Agrippa I (41-44 CE) is discarded, was sufficiently esteemed by Augustus and his successors to receive the title “king of the Jews”. All in all, in view of these unquestionable achievements Herod deserves to be known as the one and only Herod the Great.

All hail the mass murderer and cruel tyrant.

Instead of Shooting a Video, How About Going to Help?

This youtube is a perfect example of why people should put their cameras down and go help people in distress instead of taping them. The twit with the camera is too busy giggling to exhibit any human decency.

Total Depravity: The Mother Who Murdered Her Baby, in an Airport

Police in United Arab Emirates are searching for a woman they believe delivered a baby and then strangled it in an airport toilet before catching a flight out of the country.  …  It’s unclear if the woman was a resident in the Emirates, where giving birth outside of marriage is illegal.

Just simply inhuman.

This is What Happens When You Park In a No-Parking Zone

The weather itself punishes you-

The entire east coast blizzard is the fault of this one illegal park-er.

Predestination and Providence Summarized

Predestination means that one cannot lose faith, providence that one cannot lose the way.  – Herman Selderhuis

Meth Makes You Stupid: And Stupid People Make Meth

Take this brainiac

An alleged drug dealer is being held on $100,000 bond after passing out in a Chicago taxi on Christmas Day–with a “mobile meth lab” beside him.  Joseph Hoffman, 25, of Vancouver, Wash., was driven to a North Side police station Saturday by an irritated driver, the Chicago Sun-Timesreports. After arriving at the station, police attempted to find identification on the unconscious man. Instead, they found something else in his duffle bag.  The Chicago Tribune reports that officers found “chemical bottles holding a clear, crystalline” substance, wired to a power source. Police said the duffle bag included a “mobile meth lab,” as well as three pounds of methamphetamine worth an estimated $448,000. The discovery of the highly-volatile drugs led to a hazardous materials response by the Chicago Fire Department.

And he didn’t care for half a second who he endangered.  Druggies… what a prize they are.    Totally depraved.

Is Israel and Not Africa the Birthplace of Homo Sapiens?

Matthew Kalman asks the question and offers a fascinating glimpse into some very recent discoveries that may make us all Israelites instead of Africans.

Scientists could be forced to re-write the history of the evolution of modern man after the discovery of 400,000-year-old human remains.  Until now, researchers believed that homo sapiens, the direct descendants of modern man, evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and gradually migrated north, through the Middle East, to Europe and Asia.  Recently, discoveries of early human remains in China and Spain have cast doubt on the ‘Out of Africa’ theory, but no-one was certain.    The new discovery of pre-historic human remains by Israeli university explorers in a cave near Ben-Gurion airport could force scientists to re-think earlier theories.  Archeologists from Tel Aviv University say eight human-like teeth found in the Qesem cave near Rosh Ha’Ayin – 10 miles from Israel’s international airport – are 400,000 years’ old, from the Middle Pleistocene Age, making them the earliest remains of homo sapiens yet discovered anywhere in the world.  The size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern man. Until now, the earliest examples found were in Africa, dating back only 200,000 years.  Other scientists have argued that human beings originated in Africa before moving to other regions 150,000 to 200,000 years ago.  Homo sapiens discovered in Middle Awash, Ethiopia, from 160,000 years ago were believed to be the oldest ‘modern’ human beings.

Read the rest.  If they’re right this means that the Palestinians deserve to have a home wherever they wish because they’re Jews too…  In fact, we’re all Jews.

[Ok that was a tad sarcastic.  Read Matthew’s essay, it’s good stuff and nicely done].

Protecting Wrongdoers at the Expense of the Victim…

That’s just wrong itself.

A Rochester Hills man who says he learned of his wife’s affair by reading her e-mail on their computer faces trial Feb. 7 on felony computer misuse charges. Thirty-three-year-old Leon Walker used his wife’s password to get into her Gmail account. Clara Walker filed for a divorce, which was granted this month. Leon Walker tells The Oakland Press of Pontiac he was trying to protect the couple’s children from neglect and calls the case a “miscarriage of justice.”

Naturally the ‘criminal justice system’ is more interested in coddling the criminal than in justice.

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Sydney Turner says the charge is justified.

He must want the publicity.

Privacy law writer Frederick Lane tells the Detroit Free Press the law typically is used to prosecute identity theft and stealing trade secrets. He says he questions if a wife can expect privacy on a computer she shares with her husband.

Co-habitators sharing a computer shouldn’t expect ‘privacy’ and wives cheating on their husbands shouldn’t expect DA’s to protect them. Unless the DA is doing something on the side himself… so that he wants to set a precedent in his home gulag.


Church Kids are So Cute…

Vendyl Jones is Dead

I feel sorrow for his family of course, because the loss of a loved one is hard on anyone.  And I feel badly for him- as I do when any person (except the most vile criminals and murderers and molesters) die.  But I cannot feel sorrow for his death in terms of his work.

He did more to wreck and ruin the field of archaeology than anyone else alive.  He misrepresented, deceived, and plundered.  His work was utterly without merit and his passing is, in that regard, nothing to mourn.

That he will be missed by his family and friends is a near certainty.  That he will be missed in archaeological circles and amongst scholars of the Bible is an impossibility.

Who Does Research For Fox’s Million Dollar Drop?

I’m guessing it must be Sarah Palin.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t have bungled their $800,000 answer.  At any rate, boy have they heard about it.  At least they invited the victims of their bad research back.

Million Dollar Money Drop” dropped the ball on its first episode but Fox doesn’t think the mistake is worth $800,000.  The Fox show’s producers admitted on Thursday that they had “incomplete information” when they told contestants Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti that they guessed a question wrong on Monday night’s premiere, causing the duo to lose $800,000.  Okoye guessed that Post-it Notes were sold in stores before the Sony Walkman and the Macintosh Computer, persuading his girlfriend to wager most of the $880,000 that remained from the $1 million they started with.  Fox told them their answer was wrong, claiming the Sony Walkman hit shelves a year earlier than the Post-it, in 1979 (the Macintosh Computer hit stores in 1984).  But four days later — after viewers questioned the network’s research throughout the week — Fox admitted they were wrong and invited the 25-year-old and his girlfriend back to the show.

Let’s hope if they do go back, Palin isn’t the researcher.

Discrimination Against Christians in Britain

Former church, now a Bed and Breakfast, at Bee...

Britain: Turning Churches into B&B's

The Telegraph has a pretty interesting report today on various cases in Britain where Christians have been fired from their job and are claiming that the reason is anti-Christian bias.  For instance-

– Gary McFarlane, a 48 year-old Relate counsellor from Bristol, was sacked after refusing to work with same-sex couples.

– A Christian bed and breakfast owner was threatened with legal action for turning away a homosexual couple in March 2010.

– Dr Sheila Matthews, a Christian doctor, was told she would be removed from a council’s adoption panel because she refuses to recommend cases involving homosexual couples.

– A Christian nurse lost her case of religious discrimination against the hospital trust that employed her. Shirley Chaplin, a 54-year-old grandmother, was taken off wards and moved to a desk job after refusing to remove the crucifix that hangs around her neck.

Read the details in the report.  It can’t be argued that a climate of hostility to a Christian ethic doesn’t prevail in Great Britain.  If other groups were told to conform or regret it, one can hardly doubt that there would be more pushback.  But Christians are the only minority (and they really are a minority in spite of claims to the contrary- since true Christians and not just adherents of ‘Christendom’ are few in number) that it’s still ok to denigrate.

As goes Britain, so go the States (eventually).

Ferdinand Hahn’s New Testament Theology

Volume one and two have been out for a bit and now the two volume set is about to appear in January in a less expensive incarnation.  Hahn’s work has been called the ‘most significant New Testament theology since Bultmann’.   Nice!

The two volume original and the two in one less expensive editions.

The Memoir of Julian Assange

Logo used by Wikileaks

Whatever you think of Assange, his memoir should be a fascinating read.  Certainly much more interesting than the drivel produced by the likes of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber (who are scarcely old enough to wipe their own noses much less reflect back on their lives).

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will make roughly $1.3 million for penning his memoir. He says he’s writing the book to keep WikiLeaks afloat and to cover his legal costs.

Give the report a listen.

‘The Man Jesus’: by Mauro Pesce

Mauro Pesce’s new book is out and is available as a PDF download.

Che cosa c’era nei comportamenti di Gesù e nelle sue parole che provocava l’entusiasmo di tanti seguaci e l’ostilità dì coloro che lo hanno ucciso? Le speranze e le aspettative che aveva suscitato sono state deluse dalla sua morte? A differenza degli innumerevoli studi dedicati all’argomento, il libro scritto a quattro mani dall’antropologa Adriana Destro e dal biblista Mauro Pesce si concentra sullo stile e la pratica di vita di Gesù. L’intento è quello di mostrare le forme culturali che egli aveva posto a base della sua esistenza, la logica che governava le sue azioni, in che modo entrava in contatto con la gente e con le istituzioni che lo osteggiavano. Senza esaminare a fondo il suo modo di vivere, i luoghi che fisicamente frequentava, gesti privati e pubblici e stati interiori, non è possibile riassumere e comprendere in maniera autentica il suo annuncio.

American Greed Reaches it’s Logical Conclusion

Daniel Balsam hates spam. Most everybody does, of course. But he has acted on his hate as few have, going far beyond simply hitting the delete button. He sues them. Eight years ago, Balsam was working as a marketer when he received one too many e-mail pitches to enlarge his breasts. Enraged, he launched a Web site called Danhatesspam.com, quit a career in marketing to go to law school and is making a decent living suing companies who flood his e-mail inboxes with offers of cheap drugs, free sex and unbelievable vacations. “I feel like I’m doing a little bit of good cleaning up the Internet,” Balsam said.

No, he’s just making money by tying up the courts with ridiculous suits. That’s not something honorable nor is it something to be proud of. It’s just another manifestation of America’s lust for money.  It’s just greed.  It’s just the logical conclusion of the confluence of greed and the lack of a work ethic.