Daily Archives: 11 May 2011

Come to Cleveland!

The First Rule of Fight Club: No Fight Club in Junior High…

Oh America… you do love your violence don’t you?  You’ve even managed to infect the young with the disease.

Eight junior high boys have been suspended from their school in Naperville, Illinois, for running their version of a fight club, reports the Chicago Tribune. It seemed pretty well thought-out: The kids has safety words and rules, and even posted fights to YouTube. (Police have taken down the videos.) The youths were done in when an officer at the school noticed one of the boys walking out of a locker room with a black eye, and he couldn’t come up with an explanation on the spot.

So pointless.

More Political Dirtbaggery

Meredith Baker, presently of the FCC, is soon to be a new Senior VP at Comcast… just a few months after the FCC approved a merger between Comcast and NBC.  Sound fishy?  That’s because it is.  It’s more of that political dirtbaggery we’ve come to expect of Washington-ians.

Federal Communications commissioner Meredith Baker announced Wednesday that she will resign from the FCC on June 3 and join Comcast-NBC Universal as its senior vice president of governmental affairs.  Baker, a Republican, joined the FCC in 2009 after working at the National Telecomunications and Information Administration under President George W. Bush.  While at the NTIA, Baker oversaw a $1.5 billion coupon program to help consumers make the transition to digital-only television.


In a statement, the company’s Washington office president, Kyle McSlarrow, said, “Meredith’s executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills.”

At least that’s true disclosure.  Her experience and connections will help Comcast get the regulations most suited to it.  Because when you hire a government worker, you get a foot in the door (and a hand in your pocket).

Mark Goodacre’s ‘The Synoptic Problem’ For Kindle, Free

Here.  Via Mark on FB.  If you’re one of those evil sorts who use a Kindle then you should read it.  It’s quite good.

Super Duper Dilettantism of the Massively Ignorant Kind

I wish I had an award to hand out that fit the category of the dilettantism and foolishness of the claims made by the author of the ridiculous book he’s hawking on an unsuspecting public.  It surpasses Dilly the Dilettante as far as the sun surpasses the moon in the production of heat.

“For centuries, Christians have believed the book of Romans rejects the liberal notion that the only thing that matters is making the needs of others equal to your own,” said Wood.  “My Dead Sea Scroll discovery shows we’ve been dead wrong.  The newly decoded scroll shows Romans was the most liberal book in the Bible.  Talk about a game changer.”  Wood, an internationally recognized cryptographer, holder of three cryptanalytic patents, and designer of REDOC-II (one of the only unbreakable codes in existence today) achieved commercial success providing the opportunity for early retirement.  This allowed Wood to focus on personal areas of interest including decoding the now famous Dead Sea Scrolls.  Using cryptanalysis, a code-breaking process made famous in the fictional Di Vinci Code, Wood used information found in a Dead Sea Scroll to crack the book of Romans from the Bible’s New Testament and discovered that it originally taught that the Golden Rule, “love thy neighbor as thy self,” is all that matters.

Where to begin.  Has he ever really read Romans?  What DSS text?  Since no DSS text refers to or is a copy of Romans, what does the one have to do with the other?  What does a cryptographer know of Hebrew or Aramaic?  What code is there in the putative scroll?  Romans, liberal?  That label makes no sense and is a decontextualization of the book.  His code was made famous by the film the Da Vinci code?  That pretty much shows the fecklessness of it all.  The Golden Rule?  Dear.  What idiocy.

The advert continues

While poring through the historic cave-four Dead Sea scrolls for nearly a decade, Wood became increasingly enthralled by a particular scroll titled “Some Works of the Law.”

Huh?  Would that be 4QSumworks of the Law?  If he’s so well informed why wouldn’t he call it what everyone else does?  4QMMT.

This scroll was the first time archaeologists had seen this phrase outside the Biblical writings of the apostle Paul.  Wood set out to use this scroll as a basis for his decipherment.  The solution revealed that the first century Jewish nation used the term “Works of the Law” to refer to all the commandments between man and God in their Law.  Romans used the term to explain that, because of Jesus’ Golden Rule, none of the religious commandments between man and God matter at all. The only thing that counts is “love thy neighbor as yourself.”

Here’s another one who shouldn’t be let within 500 miles of the Bible, or the DSS.  Since when do ‘archaeologists’ see a phrase outside the Bible and go ‘wow, that reminds me of Romans and the Golden Rule…’?

Due to the empirical, provable nature of “Breaking the Romans Code,” the book is destined to stir up a lot of controversy between the scientific and religious communities.

Actually it will drop like a bombshell on the playground of the dilettantes and the aluminum foil hat wearing ‘birthers’ and ‘bin Laden is still alive somewhere’ sorts and no respectable scholar will take it seriously for half a second- because- frankly- it can’t be taken seriously.  It’s just ignorance.

With thanks to Joseph Lauer (who seems just as shocked as I about the bereftness of sense manifested in the advert) for the heads up.

An Astonishing Excerpt from bin Laden’s Journal!

You’re going to find this hard to believe, but the recently divulged bin Laden’s journal contains this amazing entry:

May 1, 2011.  Dear Diary- I had a pretty good day today until I logged on and read Joel Watts’ and Jeremy Thompson’s blog.  I read it every day to find out how evil those Americans are but today I was especially shocked by the terribleness of it all.  Surely the end is near (though I have to be honest, dear diary, I do love reading that blog!  It’s my absolute favorite of all the biblioblogs).

Anyway, that’s all I have for today.  Now I’m going to cover up in my blankie and watch myself on the telly!  Talk to you again tomorrow, dear diary.

Shocking isn’t it!  I mean seriously, if people like bin Laden love Joel and Jeremy’s blog, should you?  I know that I won’t be able to read it anymore….  Because I don’t want to be like bin Laden.  And if you read it, that’s just who you’ll be like!

Israel’s New Laws Are Repressive and Racist

As Al-Jazeera reports

… as Arab citizens across the region struggle against tyranny, in Israel there appears to be an opposite trend, whereby large parts of the citizenry are not only acquiescent but have been supportive of Knesset members who are drafting new legislation to silence public criticism and to delegitimize political rivals, human rights organizations, and the Palestinian minority. The idea is to legally restrict individuals and groups that hold positions at odds with the government’s right-wing agenda by presenting them as enemies of the State.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel recently warned that the laws promoted by the Knesset are dangerous and will have severe ramifications for basic human rights and civil liberties. The association, which is known for its evenhanded approach, went on to claim that the new laws “contribute to undemocratic and racist public stands, which have been increasingly salient in Israeli society in the past few years”.

Here are just a few examples of approximately twenty bills that have either been approved or are currently under consideration.

• The Knesset approved a new law stating that organisations and institutions that commemorate Nakba Day, “deny the Jewish and democratic character of the State”, and shall not receive public funds. Thus, even in the Arab schools within Israel, the Nakba must be erased. So much for democratic contestation and multiculturalism.

• Another new law states that “acceptance committees” of villages and communities may turn down a candidate if he or she “fails to meet the fundamental views of the community”. According to ACRI, this bill intends to deny ethnic minorities’ access to Jewish communities set up on predominantly public lands. So unless the new Arab pro-democracy movements want to base their countries on apartheid-like segregation, this is also not a law to emulate.

• The Knesset has approved a bill that pardons most of the protesters who demonstrated against Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. Although legislation easing punitive measures against persons who exercise their right to political protest is, in principle, positive, this particular bill blatantly favours activists with a certain political ideology. This does not bode well for the basic notion of equality before the law.

• An amendment to the existing Penalty Code stipulates that people who publish a call that denies the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state shall be imprisoned. This extension of the existing law criminalises political views that the ruling political group does not accept. It is supported by the government and has passed a preliminary reading. Burgeoning democracies should definitely shy away from such legislation.

• There is currently a proposed bill to punish persons who initiate, promote, or publish material that might serve as grounds for imposing a boycott. The bill insists that these people are committing an offence and may be ordered to compensate parties economically affected by that boycott, including fixed reparations of 30,000 New Israeli Shekels (US$8,700), without an obligation on the plaintiffs to prove damages. This bill has already passed the first reading.

• Finally, a bill presented to the Knesset in October would require members of local and city councils, as well as some other civil servants, to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

All of this is quite troubling and should raise serious questions about America’s unquestioning support of Israeli policy.

Perhaps This is the Real Reason New Yorkers are Keen on ‘Marriage Equality’

The State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference has released a report showing that marriage equality in New York state would generate $391 million in economic activity, revenue, and savings during the three years after it is made into law.  Using what the group deems as ‘conservative estimates’, their report, titled “For Love or Money?: The Economic Impact of Marriage Equality in New York“, finds that 21,309 gay and lesbian couples living in New York would get married within the first three years of marriage equality. The report predicts 3,308 couples from surrounding states that do not have marriage equality laws would choose to be wed in New York, and that 41,907 other out-of-state gay and lesbian couples would travel to New York for a “destination wedding.”

You show me the money trail and I’ll show you the reason for the policy.  Follow the money and you’ll always end up at the State House.  Perhaps the leaders of New York are more interested in making a dollar for the State’s coffers than they are in either the institution of marriage or the morality of the question.  No, strike that.  There’s no ‘perhaps’ about it.  The leaders of New York are more interested in making a dollar for the State’s coffers than they are in either the institution of marriage or the morality of the question.  Government is cynicism.

Once the other States catch on and see there’s money to be made, they’ll all pass ‘Marriage Equality’ acts.

Total Depravity: The Salvador Alvarado Edition


A mentally ill man was sentenced to 28 years in prison Tuesday for attacking and repeatedly raping his 54-year-old neighbor recovering from knee surgery in suburban West Chicago.  On Sept. 21, 2008, Salvador Alvarado allegedly spotted the victim sleeping on her couch when he decided to sneak through an open back door, according to the Daily Herald. Prosecutors said that Alvarado viewed pornography on the victim’s computer for 20 to 30 minutes before the attack.

Who doing such a thing can’t be called mentally ill?  No sane person could do the evil people do and yet such evil is done.  There are, it’s a certainty, people who are authentically mentally ill.  They act on instinct, without planning or pondering.  That Alvarado watched porn at the victim’s house shows deliberation and consideration as well as planning.  He didn’t act on the spur of the moment.  Furthermore

O’Hallaren said Alvarado threw the victim to the floor, injuring her back, and repeatedly assaulted her while muffling her screams. Afterward, he carried her to her bed, apologized and asked to be her boyfriend.

His ‘apology’ is evidence of his sense of guilt.  He knew what he did was wrong and he knew it was wrong while he was doing it because he muffled her screams.

Evil done in the name of illness is evil added to evil.

Don’t You Dare

It seems the Administration is considering extending the US Military’s stay in Iraq.  They had best not.

The Obama administration is evaluating whether to keep troops in Iraq beyond the planned withdrawal date, a decision that would extend an unpopular war that the American public expected to end this year.  The Status of Forces Agreement signed by Iraq and the United States during the Bush administration says all U.S. troops must leave Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. But the contract also leaves the door open to further negotiations that would delay withdrawal.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said members of the Iraqi government have indicated they are “very open to a continuing presence” by the United States.

Know what?  Too bad.  Let the Iraqis worry about their own problems.  We have more than enough here and we don’t need to be wasting our resources on Iraq.  If they can’t manage, too bad.  This idiotic war has drained us long enough and the lies of the Bush administration (that oil revenues would pay for it all) have already been shown to be just that, lies.

Get out.  Get out NOW.

‘House’ is Ending?

Actually it’s probably for the best.  Though it’s still good, it’s not as good as it was once.

“The end of that [eighth] season looks like the end of the show,” Laurie reportedly told the UK’s Radio Times magazine. “That’s as far as they’ve got me for.”

Once Laurie is off, there’s just no reason to watch.

The Summer Meeting of the Society for Old Testament Study

The venue for this Summer’s Meeting is Oxford and all the registration and program details are available here.

Conference Announcement: Some Thoughts on ‘The Bible’s Buried Secrets’


A joint lecture with the Centre for Biblical Studies with the support of the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester, Thursday 26th May 2011


The talk will briefly address questions raised by the BBC2 television series ‘The Bible’s Buried Secrets’, and examine its effectiveness and reliability as a popular introduction to current scholarship on the history of ancient Israel and Judah and its possible theological implications.

Dr Walter Houston is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for Biblical Studies, and an Emeritus Fellow of Mansfield College Oxford. He spent most of his career teaching Old Testament studies to students for the Christian ministry in various places, including Luther King House in Manchester. His major publications include Purity and Monotheism: Clean and Unclean Animals in Biblical Law (1993) and Contending for Justice: Ideologies and Theologies of Social Justice in the Old Testament (revised edition 2008). Dr Houston’s latest publication is Justice – the Biblical Challenge (2010).

LECTURE AND DISCUSSION COMMENCE AT 2.00 p.m – 3.30 p.m, (followed by light refreshments)


Room A202, Samuel Alexander Building (formerly Arts Building), University of Manchester. For further information or to indicate your wish to attend, please contact: Dr Adrian Curtis, Religions and Theology, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL (Tel: 0161 275 3606, email:adrian.curtis@manchester.ac.uk).

Via Jack Sasson

If You Really Hate Yourself…

And want to be so enraged at the utter stupidity of the ‘May 21st’ gang, read Scott’s post and then if you really, really hate yourself, read the entire ‘interview’ which some person with a cast iron stomach and no blood pressure at all conducted with the nutbags.

Then get some tranquilizers or something. But whatever you do, don’t drink coffee. Your head will literally explode.

The American Jesus has an interview with Gunther von Harringa, Sr., President of Bible Ministries International an affiliate of Family Radio and WeCanKnow.com. What I still find shocking is the absolute concrete certainty with which Camping and his followers make their assertions. There’s an old saying, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Apparenlty, Camping ans his dumbciples really do not understand argumentation, logical fal … Read More

via Scotteriology

Is the Biblical Archaeology Society Really Going to Do That?

Eric Welch remarks (on the twitter)

Just heard that BAR will take back their scholarship if a winner is also awarded by ASOR. I disagree with that.

If it’s true I do as well.  And if they do it suggests that they are less interested in supporting archaeological endeavors and more interested in ‘competing’ with actual organizations doing actual archaeology without the bias of BAS.

Either BAS (the publishers of the Biblical Archaeology Review) really wish to support digs or the don’t.  They can’t ‘take back’ an award simply because someone else also values a person’s work.  That’s simply wrong.

Geeks of the World Rejoice

You make better adults than the ‘in crowd’ people.  I’m guessing it’s because you lack the narcissism that is the hallmark of the ‘in crowd jock cheerleader throng’.

What makes you a total weirdo in high school is most likely the ticket to your future success, according to a new nerd wish-fulfillment book called the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, by reporter Alexandra Robbins.  Robbins followed seven self-described outsiders at public and private high schools for a year and concluded that what makes kids popular—conformity, aggression, visibility, and influence—won’t make them happy or successful after they graduate. She distinguishes between perceived popularity, when peers say someone is at the top of the social hierarchy, and actual popularity, when peers report actually liking someone. Her book focuses on the former, a state that Robbins says tends to evaporate outside of the high school gate.

Brilliant.  It’s a joyful day for all those high schoolers who the jocks and tramps view as losers.  It’s the jocks and their tramps who will turn out to be the losers in the long run.

When In Doubt, Scream ‘Antisemitism’!

I’m really shocked that James Tabor has commented as follows to Bob Cargill’s expose of Simcha’s absurd ‘Jesus Nail’s rubbish-

Beyond any substance to this post I find the personal slander, diatribe and ugly anti-Semitic innuendoes totally disgusting. Where have we come to as academics if this is the kind of style we use to make our points. There is even a Web site out there called “Let’s beat the snot out of Simcha.” I find it really beyond sad. To charge that Simcha’s motivies are “to prey on the hopes and beliefs of the faithful in anticipation of making lots of money for Simcha Jacobovici” and that it is all “topped with a colorful hat” referring to Simcha’s kippah, is really beyond the pale–not to mention a half dozen other slanderous comments. My comment here has little to do with Simcha per se, whom I know to be a totally honorable person, or the subject at hand, i.e. the nails and the Caiaphas tomb, on which I think there is a lot to say, but just the sad level to which some of my colleagues have seemed to stoop in ridiculing others.  #7 – James Tabor – 05/10/2011 – 19:29

What anti-semitic innuendo?????  There’s not a shred of it in the essay and it is both preposterous and absurd that Tabor claims as much.  What’s more interesting is why he does it.

Why, when someone disagrees with another, is the nearly default position to fall back to claims and denunciations of antisemitism?  Because it serves only to marginalize and demonize.  It was used by Hershel Shanks against Keith Whitelam (to sad effect) and it has been used by others against Davies and Lemche and Thompson, and now it has been used by Tabor against Cargill.  Because there is no reasonable or rational support for Simcha’s absurdities, Tabor does the only thing he can do- he attempts to distract with a smoke-and-mirrors offensive lie.

Yes, it’s a lie to say that Cargill’s piece is in any way, innuendo or otherwise, antisemitic.  When one can’t refute, the only thing left to the defenseless is a grotesque lashing out.  And that is, tragically, what Tabor has done.

I can only hope that people of sense will be able to see through the attempt and recognize it for what it is- nothing but a diversionary tactic to throw back on Cargill a false accusation so that the real issue, Simcha’s false and unsubstantiated claims, can be allowed to stand.  Preposterous.  Absolutely preposterous.

Tabor is right to say

Where have we come to as academics if this is the kind of style we use to make our points.

Exactly.  How have you come, Prof. Tabor, to use false smears of antisemitism to make your point?

UPDATE:  Professor Tabor’s remark has now, it seems, been removed from the comment section of the B&I essay.  I’m a bit nonplussed I have to admit.  Do I now remove the post which stands above as though the accusation was never made, or do I let it remain in hopes that unsubstantiated accusations of supposed antisemitism aren’t tossed about so easily since ‘once it’s online, it’s online forever somewhere’?  The fact is, the remarks above attributed to Tabor are Tabor’s own unedited and unaltered remarks.  Once the tube of toothpaste is squeezed, the toothpaste can’t be put back.

The Kind of Tyrants the U.S. Supports…

Isn’t it amazing how we can turn such a blind eye to the vile doings of our ‘allies’ and bomb into oblivion the people with whom we ‘disagree’?  Our government is beset of hypocrisy.  It even supports a regime which targets schoolgirls in military crackdowns… and that’s despicable.

Secret filming conducted by Al Jazeera has revealed shocking evidence of the brutal crackdown against anti-democracy protesters in the Gulf state of Bahrain.  An undercover investigation conducted by Al Jazeera’s correspondent, Charles Stratford, has unearthed evidence that Bahraini police carried out periodic raids on girls’ schools since the unrest began.

Why do we tolerate this kind of barbarity?  Why aren’t we bombing Bahrain as we are Tripoli?  Why aren’t we invading as we did Iraq when the tyrant there was doing far less to his own people?  Two words suffice to answer: naval base.

In an interview “Heba”, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, alleges she, along with three of her school friends, were taken away by the police from their school and subjected to severe beatings while in custody for three consecutive days.  “He hit me on the head, I started bleeding. I fell down, he told them [guards] to keep me in the rest-room,” she said during the secretly filmed interview.  “He [the officer] hit and banged me against the wall to scream. Since we did not cry out or scream, we were beaten more and more, stronger and stronger.   “Beating was severe, but being afraid of what comes next, we were senseless to the pain.”  According to the mainly Shia opposition Al Wefaq party, police have raided up to 15 mainly girls schools, detaining, beating and threatening to rape girls as young as 12.

President Obama, if this isn’t cause to protest and intervene, what is?

Total Depravity: The Pedophile Roundup

Down in Florida

Twenty-two men were arrested and charged for traveling to meet a minor for sex during an undercover operation, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  During the investigation, officers said that nearly every suspect answered advertisements posted by undercover detectives on the Internet. The websites used included, Craigslist, Backpage, MyYearbook, and OkCupid.The common theme of the ads was: “Mom/stepparent/aunt/guardian seeking guidance for my daughter/stepdaughter/niece,” for girls between the ages of 9 and 14 years old. Investigators said that eight of the 22 suspects were arrested after chatting online via AOL instant messenger, with undercover detectives posing as children, and then going to the location to have sex with the “children.”

Sickening.  And even more sickening-

Fourteen of the 22 suspects answered online ads, expressing an interest in going to the house to engage in sexual acts with the young girls, and some of them saying they were willing to “teach” the children how to have sex. Some of the men also said they were interested in having sex with the “mom” and the “child” at the same time.

And more disgusting still

“These men showed up to our undercover location with gifts and clothing for children, along with condoms and sex toys they planned on using when having sex with the children.

I have to agree with the Sheriff-

Their behavior is despicable, and we hope that this operation is the very last time any of them make a ‘house call’ to have sex with a child,” said Sheriff Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

God willing, they will all spend the rest of their lives in prison so they can’t defile anyone.  Pedophiles are never cured.

The Navy Now Says Gay Marriages Will NOT be Performed on its Bases

The Navy did an abrupt about-face late Tuesday, suspending earlier guidance that could have allowed same-sex marriages on military bases once the Pentagon scraps its present Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  A memorandum from the Chief of Chaplains, Rear Admiral M.L. Tidd, suspended one he issued about a month ago.  “My memorandum of 13 April 2011 is hereby suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review and inter-Departmental coordination,” Tidd wrote on Tuesday to all Navy chaplains and “religious program specialists.”

That’s a change from the policy which stirred so much debate the other day.  How long before the reversal is reversed?