Daily Archives: 14 May 2012

Is Joe Pitts the Dumbest Man In Congress?

I realize Congress is loaded with the inept, but is it really, really possible, or plausible, that a United States Congressman is as ignorant as Joe Pitts?

Apparently, my congressman believes that the solution for peace in the Middle East will be reached by encouraging negotiations between a vegetable and a dead man.  My father recently received a form letter response from Joe Pitts (Pennsylvania’s 16th district). A year ago, after visiting me in Ramallah, my father contacted Pitts’ office, expressing his opposition to House Resolution 268, a one-sided resolution that condemned Palestinians and reaffirmed the US “commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. The incredibly baffling, much-delayed response from Pitts included this gem:

With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process that has collapsed.

How stupid is this man?

This response was dated April 20, 2012. I realize that members of Congress use form letters to communicate quickly with their constituents, but when they are as outdated as this on an issue that is so central to US foreign policy, one might question the intelligence or efficacy of such a politician. I wonder to whom Pitts thought he was giving those standing ovations when Netanyahu spoke to Congress?

Ineptitude.  Shame on the people of Pennsylvania for electing such a dullard.  And small wonder the country is in the miserable shape it is.  We don’t elect the best and brightest, we elect the dumbest and most incompetent.  With thanks to Irene Hahn on FB for pointing out the misery.

My Favorite Portrait of Calvin

Is this one- in the preface to his Opera Omnia, vol 2.

He looks miffed.  Just the way I imagine him.  What’s not to love?

Disney/ABC is Gay Friendly, But Not So Friendly to Women

Via Michael Inman on G+

Facebook, Elderly Friends on Facebook, and My Inability to Be Anything But Snarkily Self-Effacing

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

A sweet elderly lady with whom I am friends on the FB remarked that her daughter told her last evening’s sermon was ‘potent’ (her word, certainly not mine). This observation provoked the following reply from myself-

My sermons are SO POTENT that 90% of the people who hear them on Sunday morning never have to come back Sunday night or Wednesday night. Heck, sometimes they’re SO POTENT that people will skip weeks and months just because they’re basking in the effervescence that is my sermonizing….

I just can’t help myself….

Kirchenhistoriker Andreas Mühling: Kirchengeschichte ökumenisch aufarbeiten

The sound quality isn’t great but if you listen carefully you’ll get most of it.

Via Reformiert Info on the FB.

Nicely done and a good summary.

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

I had a very interesting trip recently to Germany and Switzerland as I followed a few of the Reformers. One of them stuck out. No he didn’t nail theses on walls but he knew how to get his point across. I must add here that the Reformation actually was not a one man crusade as some would want you to believe. God in his providence harnessed events in tandem to bring about one of the greatest revivals since Pentecost and the visible effects were actually out workings and fruits of birth pangs that had began with people going back to reading the scriptures.

In Zürich (Switzerland) stands a statue that has braved mischievous and militant Swiss pigeons to the hilt. It stands in the church yard of one of  the biggest cathedrals in Zürich, the Grossmünster. The statue is of the man who was called “the people’s priest” Ulrich…

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Christopher Rollston’s Sober Assesment of the Qeiyafa Claims

Over on the ASOR blog he writes

For those working in the field(s) of ancient history, ancient literature, archaeology, or epigraphy there often seems to be a strong desire to associate some new archaeological find, or some recent epigraphic discovery, with some person or event known from literary texts discussing the days of yore.  This basic phenomenon has a long history with regard to literary texts.  For example, within the Hebrew Bible, the book of Lamentations is anonymous, but through the centuries many contended that it was written by the Prophet Jeremiah.  Similarly, the book of Ruth is anonymous, but through the centuries many argued that it was written by Samuel.  Or again, within the Greek New Testament, the book of Hebrews is anonymous, but many attempted to argue that it was written by Paul.  Similarly, the four Canonical Gospels are anonymous, but through the centuries, many have argued that these books were written by known figures of Early Christianity.  Fortunately, critical scholarship has pushed back against such positivistic assumptions and reasserted the obvious: the evidence for these assumptions is not convincing, but specious.

‘… not convincing, but specious’.  Indeed.  Give it a thorough reading.  If ever there were a person whose skills as an epigrapher were beyond question, it is Rollston.  On matters connected with that subject I trust his judgments implicitly.  And explicitly.

Understanding Wisdom Literature: Conflict and Dissonance in the Hebrew Text

Eerdman’s published this work quite recently.  Penchansky argues here that

Israelite wisdom literature … records the disputes of ancient sages over basic human questions: What is the purpose of life? Is God just? Why do we suffer? Does God even exist? Penchansky sees conflicting answers to these questions in Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ben Sira, and the Wisdom of Solomon — and does not try to harmonize them. Instead, he finds meaning in the very dissonance and contradiction within these texts.

My review is online here.

Great News from the Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge

They announce

a random Genizah fragment

In July we’ll be putting 900 fragments from the Mosseri Collection online in the Cambridge Digital Library for the first time. These fragments have not hitherto been available to scholars in any form, other than a poor microfilm copy made in the 70s, but have now been fully conserved, described and digitised. The Mosseri Collection is currently on loan in Cambridge University Library, where it is undergoing conservation.


Obama’s Considered Maneuverings and Manipulations

A fine essay in the New York Times meticulously charts President Obama’s maneuverings through the dangerous waters of social issues and his many manipulations turning to advantage for his own political gain potentially dangerous current affairs.

Obama is shrewd.  The consummate politician (and that is no compliment).  For instance

For the president, talking about social issues is a way to activate key constituencies (young people, Hispanics, unmarried women) and woo crucial donor bases (he raised $15 million at a Hollywood fund-raiser after giving his support to same-sex wedlock). Above all, though, it’s a way to talk about something — anything! — besides his economic record.

If ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ is the rallying cry of past elections, Obama missed the memo – or rather, understood it quite well and is willing to don his gay halo (among others) in order to divert attention from the biggest failure of his presidency.

It must be said that the White House has executed this strategy effectively. Twice in the last few months, a cultural controversy has threatened President Obama with embarrassment or worse: first in January, when the health care mandate requiring most religious employers to pay for sterilization, contraception and the morning-after pill prompted a chorus of opposition, and then again a week ago when it became clear that the media would no longer give the president cover for his “evolving” position on gay marriage.

Evolving indeed…  Moreover

The question, though, is what this successful maneuvering is actually gaining the White House. The weaknesses it’s trying to exploit are real enough: the country is moving leftward on many social issues, and Romney’s mix of squareness and weirdness — the moneyed background, the Mormonism, the 1950s persona — makes it relatively easy to portray him as culturally out of touch.  But this would be a bigger problem for Republicans if the 2012 campaign were taking place amid prosperity and plenty. At times, the Obama White House seems to be attempting to run a liberal version of George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign, which used cultural arguments to delegitimize Michael Dukakis. But today’s economic landscape looks more like 1992, when Bush the elder discovered that the same arguments availed him little with a recession-weary electorate — even in a race against a slick, womanizing draft-dodger.

And more.  Exceptionally well done.  Especially the conclusion-

… Obama is currently running for re-election as an opponent of sexism, homophobia and social reaction in all its forms. This is a decent strategy for winning news cycles, which the administration clearly did last week — playing the media brilliantly and watching as Romney was thrown on the defensive yet again.  But Obama has won news cycle after news cycle this spring, and yet the president and his unloved, out-of-step-with-the-times challenger are almost dead even in the polls. That’s a sign that something isn’t working — and that this White House, not for the first time, has mistaken a clever strategy for a winning one.

Why Does Evil Exist? Don’t Worry About it, You Only Have 3 Weeks to Live…

Go here for an explanation.

The Refo500 Oslo Conference Report

Straight from the ‘horses’ mouth’ so to speak.

With an invitation to come to Berlin in 2013, the Second RefoRC Conference in Oslo was closed last Saturday by Tarald Rasmussen, professor at the theological faculty at the University of Oslo. The annual conference of RefoRC, the academic department within Refo500, brought about 120 scholars from various continents together.

I wish I could have attended, but Oslo is a bit far.

Who’s Duty is it to Make Coffee, The Man or the Woman?

That age old question has finally been answered…


A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de...

A man and his wife were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning. The wife says, “You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don’t have to wait as long to get our coffee.” The husband says, “You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee.” Wife replies, “No, you should do it, and besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee.” Husband replies, “I can’t believe that, show me.” So she fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and showed him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says: “Hebrews” (He Brews).

Via Farzana Islam on the FB.


[It’s certainly true in our house.  But then again I’m the only coffee drinker].


Bulletin of the MA Program in Archaeomaterials at Tel Aviv University, May 2012

With thanks to Yuval Goren for sending this along:

Premier League Champions: Manchester City!

Yesterday Man City won the Premier League Championship (meaning that the wicked Manchester United didn’t!)  –  Hooray!  Today the Telegraph has a nifty interactive graphic allowing folk to see how their team did.  Give it a test drive.

Congrats to City!

Facebook’s Egomaniacs

The Telegraph informs us that

Facebook has started testing a system of charging users to promote their own posts.

The details:

The ‘pay to promote’ system is being trialled in New Zealand, and allows users to make the posts they make on the social network more conspicuous to their friends on the site. Facebook said it was using a series of different prices in the trial, and is also offering a free option. A user in Whangerei, New Zealand, said he was offered a $2(US; £1.25) price, and that the post would have been displayed on a yellow background.

Facebook spokeswoman Mia Garlick confirmed to Stuff NZ that the idea was a new “feature” it was testing. “We’re constantly testing new features across the site. This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends,” she said. Other users on Facebook have reported seeing prices equivalent to 25p or 50p, with the option to pay via credit card or PayPal.

Promoting posts and paying for it??? That’s crazy. What sort of egomaniac pays for people to read their status update? Good people, if you have money to burn send it to me. I can put it to good use.