Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Dead Sea Scroll On A Stone

Archaeologists have discovered a large stone tablet that is causing some controversy, because it may have predicted a messiah who will be raised from the dead after three days.

(Actually, "discovered" isn't the correct word, since the tablet has been in the collection of an Israeli/Swiss antiquities dealer for about ten years.)

Here's more from the Times: If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

I've posted the entire Times article here, for future reference. If you're wondering "What are The Dead Sea Scrolls?", they're the only known Biblical writings from earlier than the first century B.C. They were discovered in the late 1940's in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. Hence the name.

This particular "Dead Sea Scroll on stone" lends a bit of credence to the theory that various prophetic statements were projected onto the life of Jesus after his death. On the other hand, many Christians will see the inscription on this tablet as one more prophecy that Jesus fulfilled.
Academic papers will soon be published. Then books will be written. Sermons will be preached. Theories will be formulated and denounced. Blog posts will be commented upon.
Regardless of what the original stonemason intended, we'll all find a way to absorb this latest archaeological find and make it fit what we already believe.
Addition from Sunday morning, July 6th,
Click around the net and you'll see that the atheists, agnostics, and skeptics are pointing to this tablet as proof that the death, burial, and resurrection stories were out there before Jesus was born.
Christian sites see the tablet as proof of fulfilled prophecy.
I believe we could travel back in time to Jerusalem 33 A.D., and shoot a video of the resurrection or the non-resurrection. Regardless of what was on the tape, people would see what they wanted to see. Changing your mind on a big issue is too painful.

Mark Twain on the cover of Time magazine

Mark Twain, one of my literary heroes, has made the cover of Time magazine approximately 98 years after his death.

Roy Blount wrote the main article, and it's worth reading from beginning to end. Blount's "good old boy, gone up North" schtick can wear thin sometimes, but there's not a hint of it in this piece.

Stephen Carter wrote the inevitable piece on Twain and race. See "Getting Past Black and White".

They've got a piece on Twain's travel writing. Check out the map of his travels and lecture tours here.

And if you're interested, look at this collection of portraits.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July !

And belated thanks to everyone who risked his "life, fortune, and sacred honor" 130 years ago so that we could freely express ourselves, disagree with each other, throw stones from glass houses, and generally engage in Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Even though some of you people are just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

100 Munchkins and A Giant

Around the middle of June, I did a post about some University of Chicago faculty who signed a petition protesting the name of the $200 million dollar Milton Friedman Institute, to be located on the UofC campus. Naomi Klein brought it to the world's attention in an article for The Guardian.

Milton Friedman is probably the most vindicated economist of the 20th century. Is there anyone whose fundamental worldview has been proven more accurate? When you get a chance, check out Free To Choose and Capitalism And Freedom. In that order.

Perhaps the faculty would've been happier with "The Nostradamus Institute"? Or "The Prophet Habbakuk Institute?" How about "The Karl Marx Institute And Shelter For Political Theorists Who've Never Really Worked, And Let Their Families Go Hungry And Got Their Housekeepers Pregnant"?

Anyway, for the longest time I couldn't find any references online to the faculty petition that weren't based on the Naomi Klein/Guardian article. I wondered if the petition even existed. Then I wondered "Can anyone let me know which members of the French, Mythology, Womyn's Studies, Physical Education and Anthropology Departments signed this thing?"

Thanks to my new friend Chris, I have the list of petitioners. It's as bad as I thought.

Phys Ed is poorly represented, but music and religion show up.

I don't believe you have to have a doctorate in a particular field to be knowledgeable of that field. But couldn't they talk anyone from the Economics department into signing up? Anyone from the business school? Anyone who teaches about life in the untenured wasteland? (Every one of the teachers listed below probably does a few classes that I would love to take, BTW.)

To get to the point: The faculty members who signed the petition are almost all from the disciplines that I predicted, fields that are developing reputations for stifling P.C. orthodoxy. Here's the list:

Hussein Agrama, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Muzaffar Alam, Carl Darling Buck Professor, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College
Yali Amit, Professor, Departments of Statistics and Computer ScienceClifford Ando, Professor of Classics
Leora Auslander, Professor, Department of History, Committee on the History of Culture, Committee on Jewish Studies, and the College
Ralph Austen, Professor Emeritus of History Lauren Berlant,
George M. Pullman Professor, Department of English
Michael Bourdaghs, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Mark Bradley, Associate Professor of History
Bill Brown, Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of English and Visual Arts; Committee on the History of Culture
Dipesh Chakrabarty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and History
Tamara Chin, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
Kyeong-Hee Choi, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations Cathy J. Cohen, David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science
Jennifer Cole, Associate Professor, Dept of Comparative Human Development
Jean Comaroff, Bernard E. & Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences
John Comaroff, Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology and the College
Ral Coronado, Assistant Professor, Department of English
Bruce Cumings, Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History and the College Michael C. Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the College
Hilary Parsons Dick, Postodoctoral Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Center for Latin American Studies Michael Dietler, Associate Professor of Anthropology Fred Donner, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Prasenjit Duara, Professor of History and East Asian Languages & Civilizations Darby English, Associate Professor of Art History Jacob Eyferth, Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Christopher Faraone, Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor of Classics James Fernandez, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
Pedro Felzenszwalb, Department of Computer Science Norma Field,
Robert S. Ingersoll Professor of Japanese Studies Cornell H. Fleischer,
Kanuni Suleyman Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies
Richard Fox, Assistant Professor of History of Religions
Rachel Fulton, Department of History and the College Susan Gal, Mae and Sidney G. Mead Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics
Leela Gandhi, Professor of English
Michael Geyer, Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European HistoryMcGuire Gibson, Professor of Mesopotamian Archaeology, NELC, Oriental Institute
W. Clark Gilpin, Margaret E. Burton Professor of History of Christianity
Andreas Glaeser, Associate Professor of Sociology and of the Social Sciences in the College
Jan Goldstein, Norman and Edna Freehling Professor of History
Robert Gooding-Williams, Ralph and Mary Otis Isham Professor, Department of Political Science and the College
Ramn A. Gutirrez, The Preston and Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor of History
Susan Gzesh, Lecturer in Law, Director, University of Chicago Human Rights Program
Elaine Hadley, Associate Professor, Department of English
Miriam Hansen, Ferdinand Schevill Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Department of English / Committee on Cinema and Media Studies
Donald Harper, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Neil Harris, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor Emeritus, Departments of History, Art History
Elizabeth Helsinger, John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of English and Art History
Thomas Holt, James Westfall Thompson Distinguished Service Professor of History
Paola Iovene, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Travis A. Jackson, Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities
Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, Assistant Professor of British History
Matthew Kapstein, Numata Visiting Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and the History of Religions in the Divinity School
John Kelly, Professor, Department of Anthropology
Robert L. Kendrick, Professor of Music James Ketelaar, Professor of History and East Asian Languages & Civilizations
Emilio Kour, Associate Professor of History, Director, Katz Center for Mexican Studies
Loren Kruger, Professor, Departments of Comparative and English Literatures, African Studies, Theatre and Performance Studies
Laura Letinsky, Professor, Department of Visual Arts
Bruce Lincoln, Caroline E. Haskell Professor of the History of Religions
John A. Lucy, Department of Comparative Human Development
Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, Associate Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and Center for Latin American Studies
Amanda Macdonald, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of English
Patchen Markell, Associate Professor, Political Science Franoise Meltzer,
Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Comparative Literature, Romance Languages, and Divinity Janel Mueller,
William Rainey Harper Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of English
Matam P. Murthy, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics and the College Joseph Masco, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
William Mazzarella, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and the College.
John P. McCormick, Professor, Department of Political Science
Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelly Professor Emeritus of Theology, History of Christianity, and Medieval Studies
Omar M. McRoberts, Associate Professor of Sociology Jason Merchant, Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics
Stuart Michaels, Associate Director, Center for Gender StudiesW.J.T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of English and Art History
Nancy D. Munn, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
Deborah Nelson, Associate Professor, Department of English; Chair, Center for Gender Studies
David E. Orlinsky, Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development and Social Sciences Collegiate Division
Stephan Palmi, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Moishe Postone, Professor of History
Francois G. Richard, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Seth Richardson, Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History
Mel Rothenberg, Professor Emeritus, Dept of Math
Danilyn Rutherford, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory
Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology Emeritus
Mario Santana, Associate Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Julie Saville, Associate Professor of History
William Sewell, The Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and History Emeritus
Bart Schultz, Director of the Civic Knowledge Project and Senior Lecturer in the Humanities
William Schweiker, Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics
Dan Slater, Associate Professor, Department of Political ScienceJoel Snyder, Professor of Art History, Visual Arts, and the College
Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor of History
Richard A. Strier, Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Katherine Fischer Taylor, Associate Professor of Art History
Russell H. Tuttle, Professor in Anthropology, Committee on Evolutionary Biology, Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Biology and Medicine, and the College
Theo van den Hout, Professor in the Oriental Institute and Dept. of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Candace Vogler, Professor, Department of Philosophy
Kenneth W. Warren, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor, Department of English
Lisa Wedeen, Professor of Political Science
Christian Wedemeyer, Assistant Professor of History of Religions
Anthony C. Yu, Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Humanities
Tara Zahra, Assistant Professor of History
Rebecca Zorach, Associate Professor, Department of Art History

The Flood That Hasn't Happened Yet

Katharine Mieszkowski has a post on called "A Deluge Waiting To Happen".

She explains how the Army Corps of Engineers has constricted the flow of the Mississippi River, and this constriction has caused the recent flooding in Iowa. (Missing from the discussion is an acknowledgement that The River used to flood every year. And as a former Mississippian, I insist that The River be spelled with capital letters.) The flooding situation in the Mississippi Delta was once an annual event.

At the time, no one lived there. But every drop of water that hits the ground between Pennsylvania and Denver has to go somewhere, and we're trying to make it flow through this little amusement park flume ride of levees, channels, dykes, and detours.
Back when the river flooded every year, the leftover silt and sludge created some of the most fertile farmland in the world. (Check out Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Big Daddy's references to his plantation as "28,000 acres of the richest land this side of the Valley Nile".) The levee system makes these farms possible, for better or worse.
The best book I've ever read on this is "Rising Tide" by John Barry. Barry explains the huge amount of water that goes past New Orleans every day, and how we've tried to control it. His explanations of local, state, and national political battles are fascinating. His analysis of how the Mississippi River flood of 1927 changed our political map is the best I've ever read. Sales of the book went through the roof after Hurrican Katrina, since Barry was one of the expert Talking Heads featured on television.

Have you ever wondered why the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and the abolitionist states, was abandoned by African-Americans? John Barry explains why.

Good stuff.
Based on the law of averages, Barry predicts that one year we'll have a rapid spring thaw in the Denver/Upper Midwest, combined with heavy rain in the currently flooded Iowa/Missouri area. No one, not even Al Gore, can tell us which year it will be.
But you don't want to be in New Orleans when this happens.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How To Kill A Religion (Hint: Darwin has nothing to do with it.) has an interview with the author of "Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution," - Karl Giberson. Mr. Giberson, a physics professor at Eastern Nazarene College, is also the director of the "Forum on Faith and Science" at Gordon College.

I've looked through the book a few times at Border's or B&N, but haven't purchased it.

The book looks interesting, and the author interview is top notch.

But here's the really really really good part of the interview:

Evolution is taught in American high schools and yet many still don't believe in it. How can that be counteracted?
Well, if you could figure that one out, someone would be interviewing you, not you interviewing me. You're absolutely right. That's a challenging problem and it's a problem that the Europeans are just shaking their heads over.

Why is that?
Because Europe doesn't have a robust fundamentalist subculture like America has had since the early parts of the 20th century. American religion has been characterized by an entrepreneurial spirit. In Europe, many of the great religious traditions wasted away because they were supported by government. They didn't need to be popular and have lots of people coming to worship on Sunday to continue. So they atrophied and people lost interest.
In America, without that kind of governmental support, religious leaders had to be entrepreneurial.
So a charismatic evangelist can come up with a brand-new approach to faith and touch some chord contemporary with people's needs.
I'm going to buy that book this weekend.
Any author who can slide an anti-government subsidy, pro-Free Market, ultra-libertarian concept like that one into a interview deserves my support.

And check out the interview in the link above when you get a chance. Good stuff.

Happy Birthday, blah blah blah

I just changed the "About Me" section to your right. I turn 47 on July 1.

My mother gave me a card that said "Happy Birthday to the one I count on to be as obnoxious as I am". We both laughed really hard at it, partly because it's true, and partly because she was so sincere about it.

If you come here regularly for the anti-government rants, that's me channeling my father.
If you're here for the attitude I bring to it, that's my mother.

I've had a fun year talking to you folks.

Monday, June 30, 2008

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends, Left Wing Edition

Here are a few noteworthy posts from the left side of the spectrum....

I LOVE, LOVE, love, love, love The Electronic Village. Love it. Even when I think The Villager is dead wrong, he expresses himself well. His posts are usually short and straight to the point. The EV is a combination aggregator/bulleting board/comment field gold mine for African American bloggers and the African American point of view. Here's a list of The Top Ten Black Blogs of 2008. How do we know they're the Top Ten? Because The Villager said so, and it's his site. If you came of age in the '70s and miss the music, check out Old School Fridays (every Friday). And sometimes The Villager tells you things you already knew, but provides more evidence for your opinion.

Jobsanger has a good post about imperfect Presidential candidates, called "Obama's Not Perfect, But He's Our Candidate". That's the state of mind I'm trying to achieve with Bob Barr. He also provides a left-wing rationale for the recent Supreme Court decision striking down gun control laws.

Left Is Right has posted too many bells and whistles on his site, and it takes too long to download. He's usually pretty good. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Lotus - Surviving A Dark Time - is shocked, shocked, I say...when he discovers that the Bureau of Land Management is in bed with some corporate interests. Or maybe we really do need to wait a half decade while they do Environmental Impact Studies before they put up solar panels in the middle of nowhere. You decide. Mr. Lotus is a good guy, and we emailed back and forth a bit when we did some reciprocal linkage. He's someone you'd like to have for a neighbor.

Tbogg has been going at it online since 2002, and the posts are getting further and further apart. He was great when angry. He was great when he was happy. Hope he gets the fire back in his belly.

I got acquainted with The Revolution Script through Soobdujour. This guy has amazing collections of Revolutionary posters, guerilla warfare training manuals, and the like. He's also the only Marxist gun nut I've ever encountered. I love the internet.

Turning Left gets worked up over Dr. James Dobson misinterpreting Barack Obama's speech at the Call To Renewal meeting. And they have a cool picture of Dobson in front of a flag. Heh heh heh heh heh....

I don't have nearly enough Lefties on the blogroll, and I'm open to suggestions.

What Was Samuel Clemens' Birthplace?

Some game show has apparently asked the question "What was Samuel Clemens' Birthplace?"
People are being sent here from various search engines, due to a fluke in Google's algorithms.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. The family moved to Hannibal, Missouri a few years later. Hannibal is the town that Clemens made famous, so I'm assuming they're using this as a trick question.

Here's a pre-emptive strike..... "How did Samuel Clemens get the name Mark Twain?" And "What does the name Mark Twain mean?"

The "marks" were the strips woven into a depth sounding device used on steamboats. "Mark One" meant approximately six feet deep. "Mark Twain", twain meaning "two", meant twelve feet or "safe water". Click here for a full listing of the divisions of marks. Anyone who rode on a steamboat would've heard these terms shouted to the pilot throughout a river trip, so when Clemens needed a pen name, Mark Twain seemed like a natural choice.

Those who love psychobabble have wasted a lot of ink on Clemens picking a pseudonym that means safe but not too deep.

Now, back to our regular scheduled programming. I apologize for whoring for hits. And I would appreciate it if someone could comment on why people suddenly want to know where Sam Clemens was born.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Victim Disarmament Laws have been overturned ! ! !

The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of extending 2nd Amendment rights to almost all Americans. This makes sense, because we don't have a "well-armed militia" patrolling the streets of East Fort Worth.

I honestly haven't read that much about the legal aspects of gun ownership. Most of my research has been along the line of surveys showing that residents of gated enclaves don't see what the fuss is about, while those living in high crime areas tend to want a gun.

The New York Times recently ran an editorial lamenting the court's decision to overturn our nation's Victim Disarmament Laws. You can click here for an excellent Fisking of that editorial.

So let's take it to the next level, shall we? My new friend Robert Harrison, from the Tarrant County Libertarian Party, just sent me a link to an online petition which asks Governor Rick Perry to add Texas to the list of "open carry" states. In other words, your handgun doesn't have to be concealed.

Bad guys don't like it. Good guys packing heat in public are a great equalizer.

An armed society is a polite society.

Addition from July 4th. This was filmed in Dallas on June 29th, the day I wrote this post.