Daily Archives: 12 Sep 2011

More Photos From Family Picture Day

Rachel has uploaded a few on her blog, here. They’re really quite nicely done.

Elad: Wielding Power to no Good Purpose

The authority wielded by Elad settler association impacts increasingly on the lives of Palestinian residents of Silwan and other districts of East Jerusalem. Some residents have likened Elad to a “kingdom within a state”, given its labyrinthine network of control over infrastructure and funds in Jerusalem. The jewel in Elad’s crown is the exclusive power it holds over Silwan’s historical sites, the chief earner in the mammoth revenue it gains in Jerusalem. Elad’s privately-hired, publicly-funded settler security militia command a conspicuous presence on the streets of Silwan, where they are engaged in continual violent harassment and provocation of Palestinian residents.

Waleed, a resident of Silwan, states that “Elad reaps its revenue from stolen Palestinian land, largely through the Absentee Property Law. Palestinian residents experience no benefit whatsoever from the tourist industry in our neighborhood, while Elad extends its reach of control over ever more land. This occurs with the full cooperation of the Jerusalem Municipality and Israeli ministries, who act like Elad’s puppet, serving its every need.”

There’s more, which you should read, at least in order to hear the other side of the story.

Answering Your Letters


I don’t appreciate your negative comments about atheists.  I am an atheist and I’m offended by you.  I’m also an agnostic.  Please stop talking about us.


Thanks for writing Paul, you’re the first atheist agnostic I’ve come across.  As to the substance of your note, rest assured that I am utterly disinclined to alter my behavior simply because an ‘atheist agnostic’ thinks I should.  But thanks for visiting!

Regarding Last Week’s ‘City of David’ Conference

From the goodly Joseph Lauer this note

Courtesy of Barnea Levi Selavan … a taste of last week’s Ir David conference in a 1:52-minute YouTube video giving a view of the crowd, the site, and the speakers, with some words of background in Hebrew from Eli Shukron of the IAA. Also at the YouTube site is a Hebrew paragraph about the conference. The video may be accessed below or directly at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZGGK7mtOGY. The following may also be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/658eyzn and there is a link there (and below) to buy a book of the Hebrew lectures delivered at the conference. It’s also at http://www.shop.cityofdavid.org.il/pl_product~NEW-KENES-BOOK~3~29.htm. Another short (53-second) English YouTube video (“Understanding underground Jerusalem”) was posted about the conference at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFay9kNU_dk.

Thanks, Joseph.  It’s not as good as being there, but it’s better than not.

More From Family Picture Day

My niece has uploaded more of the photos we had taken on family picture day. All total, they took more than 570. That’s a lot to upload, so here’s three of my favorite.

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Noah’s Ark Discovered, Again, For the 666th Time…

And people in Charlotte (!) are hosting a ‘conference’ at which the film of the ‘discovery’ will be revealed to the [mindless and unthinking] world.  An email arrived with the announcement (and with the video below- which I have uploaded for your viewing pleasure)

Christian Leaders & Scholars invites you to a Charlotte, NC screening of the documentary of NAMI’s Mount Ararat discovery! This coming week! September 17-19, 2011. And meet some of the NAMI explorers.

Christian ‘scholars’? In what bizarro-world are the practitioners of pseudo-archaeology and pseudo-scholarship rightly called “scholars”?

If you’d like to attend, you can-

FIRE Church (Associated with the ministry of Dr. Michael Brown) 4323 Concord Parkway South, Concord, NC 28207 (just north of Charlotte Motor Speedway).

Anywho— here’s the priceless video trailer…  Take some advil, the visuals are grating and the content is, well, beyond absurd (but I guess the film – makers would call me an ‘unbeliever’).

Total Depravity: The ‘Up-The-Skirt-Viewing-with-his-iPhone’ Pervert

A Chicago teacher was arrested Sunday night after allegedly using his iPhone to take pictures underneath a woman’s skirt at an outdoor arts festival in the city’s Wicker Park neighborhood.  Jeremy Lee, an art, wood shop and metalsmithing teacher at Lincoln Park’s Francis W. Parker School,was arrested at 1814 W. Division St. during the Renegade Craft Fair, police told CBS Chicago. Lee has been charged with a misdemeanor count of video recording a person’s body without their consent.

I wonder how many times he’s done it before, to his students, and is just now being caught?  He’s found a use for his phone that I doubt even Steve Jobs had considered, that’s for sure…

A New Journal: Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel (HeBAI)

Mohr is publishing this:

Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel is a new peer-reviewed, quarterly journal focussing primarily on the biblical texts in their ancient historical contexts, but also on the history of Israel in its own right. Each issue will have a topical focus. The primary language will be English, but articles may also be published in German and French. A specific goal of the new journal will be to foster the discussion between the different academic cultures in the international context pertaining to the study.

Free access to the full text online is included in a subscription. The “Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel” articles are available in full text via Pay-per-View at IngentaConnect, a provider of digital journals on the Internet and may be purchased for a fee of US $ 30.00 plus British VAT. There is an overview of the currently available electronic issues of the “Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel” on the Ingenta website.

It’s got quite the editorial board-

Editors: Gary N. Knoppers, Oded Lipschits, Carol A. Newsom, Konrad Schmid

Managing Editor: Konrad Schmid

Associate Editors: Erhard Blum, John Day, Louis Jonker, John Kessler, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Martti Nissinen, Thomas Römer, Christoph Uehlinger, David Vanderhooft, Nili Wazana.

My SBL Schedule, So Far

I’ve given the program guide the once over and this is what I’m attending for certain:

Friday– Arrive 1 p.m.

9-11:30, John, Jesus and History (s19-126)
4-6:30, Bloggers Section (s19-314)

9-11:30, Rhetoric and the NT (s20-137a)
1-3:30, John, Jesus and History (s20-230)
7-8:30, Oxford University Reception (m20-403)

9-11:30, Current Historiography and Ancient Israel and Judah (s21-115)
4-6:15, Dtr. History Section (s21-310)
6:30- Dinner with friends
9, Sheffield/ Phoenix Reception (m21-402)

Tuesday– Depart 7 a.m.

If you have suggestions that lie outside those time frames let me know.  I’m interested in just about everything except fad stuff.

Rest in Peace, ‘Lead Codices’, Rest in Peace

Bible and Interpretation has an update on the ‘lead codices’ thing that (because I’m an unwavering optimist) will finally put to rest any further pimping of these materials by their owners:

None of the codices that have been released thus far for the public have proven to be authentic (including those which Elkington has supported as authentic) and none have shown to be more than the products of workshops, skilled in peddling fakes to tourists at a hefty price. It is also true that the iconography and even some of the script has roots in actual artifacts but these qualities were repurposed, out of context, from items found in museums in Jordan.

Rest in peace, codices.  You deserve it.  Truly.

Apparently I’ve Been to Canada

I must have had another blackout because I don’t remember it, but it sure sounds like something I’d do and the artists rendering pretty much has me pegged…

A fight in a church on Sunday afternoon left a man with a minor stab wound. “It was an altercation that occurred in the St. Mary’s church and then an individual was stabbed in the leg,” said duty inspector Darren Cave. It happened in the 200 block of 18th Avenue S.W. Police officers circulating in the area apprehended a man that matched the description of the suspect and took him into custody. No charges have been laid, but visiting Pastor Jim West has been remanded in custody. Police say the suspect was ranting about heretics, depravity, and having to make a worshipper remove his cowboy hat.

Sure sounds like me.  Go see the sketch.

BAR, Bogus Claims, And Silly Pseudo-Archaeology

From BAR this email with the absurd headline:

Has Noah’s Winery Been Discovered?

Why no, BAR, it hasn’t, but thanks for playing ‘wild speculation in the guise of scholarship’. Then they say

Noah was the first vineyard operator.


And then, as if those two utterly unsubstantiated statements weren’t enough-

Robert Mondavi may have been one of the best-known vineyard operators in recent years, but Noah was the first. This is often overlooked in the shadow of Noah’s deluge-defying ark accomplishment, but the Bible states very clearly in Genesis 9 that, after the ark ran aground in the mountains of Ararat, “Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard” (Genesis 9:20), the wine from which unfortunately led to another of Noah’s more famous stories–of drunken exposure. And although many scholars would be tempted to dismiss claims of Noah’s original vineyard as lacking any historical merit, scientists are discovering evidence of ancient wine making in that very same region.

I don’t know what translation of the Bible the folks at BAR read, but the Hebrew text need not be translated as they have it because it says nothing about Noah planting the first vineyard. Here’s the text-

‮וַיָּ֥חֶל נֹ֖חַ אִ֣ישׁ הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה וַיִּטַּ֖ע כָּֽרֶם

Literally, ‘And the man of the land, Noah, started out planting a vineyard’. The emphasis isn’t on his being the first to plant a vineyard, the emphasis is on the fact that when he got off the boat, the first thing on his agenda was to plant a vineyard. BAR needs a few exegetes on staff so they will know such things.

But BAR isn’t restricted by such things as facts when outrageous claims stirring and spurring sales are the real issue.  It’s the practice of pseudo-archaeology to make claims that are impossible to verify so that the uninformed crowds can be hoodwinked.  Scientists haven’t found ‘Noah’s vineyard’.  Don’t let BAR’s silly claim trick you.

I Knew There Was Something Amiss with Sponge Bob…

SpongeBob SquarePants

Making Kids Dumber

And now there’s proof!  Sponge Bob makes your kids stupid!

The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds.  The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch “SpongeBob,” or the slower-paced PBS cartoon “Caillou” or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched “SpongeBob” did measurably worse than the others.

Keep your little ones away from the yellow demon or they will do poorly at learning.  That’s not me talking, that’s science!

The Biblical Scholars’ Christmas Catalog!

That’s right, the SBL Annual Meeting session guide arrived in the mail today!

Trust me when I say, for biblical scholars, this little gem is better than any Christmas catalog.

On the Bible: an Observation

The Bible is neither False, nor True.  The Bible is Truth.  Let him who has ears, hear.

The Best Headline Ever: Saudis Deport Norwegian Radical

When 25-year-old Mohyeldeen Mohammad of Larvik tried to return to his Koran studies in Saudi Arabia late last week, he suddenly found himself distinctly unwelcome. Mohammad, described as a radical Islamist, was arrested at the airport in Medina and then faced deportation. Newspaper Dagbladet reported over the weekend that Mohammad had traveled from Larvik back to Saudi Arabia on Thursday. The arrest of the young Norwegian citizen reportedly surprised officials at Norway’s Foreign Ministry, who said they didn’t know the nature of the charges on which he was being held.

I love that headline. I love the notion that a Norwegian has been labeled a Radical by the Saudis…  *Chuckle*.  With thanks to Steve Inskeep for mentioning it on the twitter.

Torture Doesn’t Work

A very intriguing piece on Morning Edition this morning about the techniques used to interrogate terror suspects and the utter uselessness of torture as a method.  I’ll not excerpt it, I’ll just advise you to read it.

An Ancient Anchor From the Byzantine Era

Two lifeguards found an ancient 600-pound metal anchor off the coast of Bat Yam, adjacent to Tel Aviv, leading to the discovery of two others  The anchor dates back to the Byzantine period of approximately 1,500 years ago and measured at 2.1 meters (nearly seven feet) long. It was found buried in the sand only 100 feet from shore.

I have to say I’m not really all that interested in the Byzantine era- but I would like to know more about the other items found:

Further explorations in the area uncovered an identical anchor and a stone anchor, much older.

Well how much older?  From what period?

IAA maritime archeologist Dror Felner said that the discoveries raise the possibility that boats anchored in the area, a fact unknown in the past. Another possibility is that the anchors were from boats that were out at sea and sought refuge from sudden storms.

All interesting questions.  Looking forward to more- especially on the older items.

Oil or Israel: Which Will America Choose…

Saudi Arabia is warning the United States that if it vetoes a Palestinian State at the UN it will lose an ally.  Which will America choose?  Blind allegiance to Israel, an ally that barely acts like an ally, or Saudi Arabia, that oil rich country which was the homeland of most of the 9/11 terrorists?  Oil or Christian Zionists.  Energy or Israeli good will?

The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Frankly the US should have been more supportive of Palestinian statehood from the very start.  It’s only Government’s indecisiveness and weakness which has brought us to the point of having to choose- oil or Israel.

And we should choose neither.  Rather, we should choose to support freedom and dignity for all from the platform of energy independence.  But our policy makers are too dim to realize that, which explains why we are where we are.