Sleuths Study Ancient UFOs, or ‘Why MSNBC Needs to Shut Up About History’

Attention Media: Stop trying to educate people on history.  You suck at it.  From MSNBC:

A stela at the Egyptian museum in Cairo shows Pharaoh Akhenaten, Queen Nefertiti and their children worshipping the sun in the more natural artistic style of the time. Akhenaten’s sighting of a “shining disk” descending from the sky is included on a list of 500 unexplained aerial observations made before the industrial revolution, drawn up by Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck.

via Cosmic Log – Sleuths study ancient UFOs.  The image shown is this:


But this is not a UFO; its the sun, also known as Aten.  The name Akhenaten means something to the effect of ‘servant of Aten (the sun disk)’.  The sun, in this image, is not ‘descending’ but extending its life-giving touch (hence the ankh, also known as a crux ansata, at the fingertips of the many hands reaching down to touch the lips of the Pharaoh).  Akhenaten was the first Pharaoh (as far as we know) to introduce henotheism into early Egyptian culture, where Aten was worshiped above all other gods.  He changed the capital to Amarna (he called Akhentaten), erected several monuments and after his death (which might have been caused by foul-play) and his line ended, everything in Egypt returned to the old ways.  If it had been aliens, why would the priests and the people return to the polytheism, minus the sun disk as its head, following this Pharaoh’s death?  This is just another case of the media making grandiose assumptions about the past based on association.  The sun disk could be construed as a UFO, ergo it must be.

Stick to the elections and natural disasters–things your accustomed to reporting on–and leave history to those who are not interested in sensationalism.  I wonder when the media will take this image:

With the caption ‘Ancient Aliens turned Pharaohs into Shape-shifters!  Mystery of the Sphinx solved!’

Surprise Discovery: Two Planets, Two Stars, One System

Very cool!

Two massive Jupiter-like planets were recently discovered orbiting around two extremely close sister stars an unexpected find, given the disturbing gravitational effects within most binary star systems that usually disrupt planets from forming.

via Surprise discovery: Two planets, two stars, one system – Technology & science – Space – –

Roland Boer and the Sausage-Fest Fiasco! (according to SBL) – Stalin’s Moustache

I made a post the other day about Roland Boer.  It has since made a circle around the interwebs and Roland has finally received a response (though, the end result of the status of his paper and his title are still unknown):

The other day, in fact very soon after I sent my reply to the original effort to banish the celebration of sausages from SBL, I received the following email message. It comes from the relatively new executive director of SBL, John Kutsko, who owns up to asking Charlie Haws to see if he could get rid of that dammed sausage-fest. You’ll notice the effort to keep all this on the quiet, as a supposedly ‘private’ matter, especially between men. But I can’t help wondering: fuck man, what’s wrong with sausages, especially at the Society of Biblical Literature? Castration anxiety?

via Dislike of sausage-fests goes all the way to the top: John Kutsko responsible for effort to censor my paper title « Stalin’s Moustache.  Read on and offer your support.

Jim West offers the following apt statement:

I’m not really sure why Roland’s paper has been singled out.  Anyone who has ever gone through the SBL program book has seen titles that aren’t only just ‘different’ but downright bizarre.  And as far as I’m concerned, more offensive.


Ancient Maximalism! or ‘What BAR would Publish if it had existed in Antiquity’

I thought I might start a new series of posts over time collecting and blogging about ancient rationalizations about the past.  Our first contender for BAR fame? Palaephatus.  Now Palaephatus wrote in his introduction to his work Περὶ ἀπίστων:

Now some people, who have no acquaintance with philosophy or science, are too credulous and believe everything that is said to them.  Others, of a more subtle and inquisitive nature, totally disbelieve that any of these tales ever happened.  My own belief is that there is a reality behind all stories.  For names alone without stories would hardly have arisen: first there must have been deeds and there-after stories about them.

Palaephatus lists a great deal of “true stories” behind the myths.   In his work, he writes that Centaur’s were real people, but rather than being half-horse and half-man, the stories arose from them being the first group of people to ride horseback (before then, he says, people only used horses to pull chariots)!  And of course the truth behind the Trojan horse is not that a group of Greeks jumped free from it and attacked the city, but that the Trojans tore down parts of their wall to accommodate the horse, thereby allowing the Greeks to enter through the opening!

6 Children Rob 9 North Florida Homes – Where Are the Parents?!

Well?  Where are the parents?

PALATKA, Fla. — Six juveniles are accused in a string of burglaries in northern Florida.

Palatka police said the children range in age from 10 to 15.

The juveniles face felony charges for allegedly stealing computers, jewelry, guns and other items in nine burglaries since April.

Detective Danette Evey said Monday that the children didn’t think they had done anything wrong because they hadn’t hurt anyone.

Police said the children watched the houses they intended to rob.

The 10-year-old allegedly knocked on each door to see if anyone was home.

Evey said investigators found two of the children holding bags of jewelry. Evey said the children couldn’t explain where they had gotten the jewelry.

Police said they expect to arrest two more children and two adults.

via Police: 6 Children Rob 9 North Florida Homes – Miami News Story – WPLG Miami.

PHD Comics: Draft dodging

How true this is.  PHD Comics: Draft dodging.

Some Calvin and Hobbes to Brighten Your Monday

This one reminds me so much of my younger days,… oh the principals office.  That, and how relevant is this to the current situation with the pledge?

Calvin and Hobbes

This is often how I thought about the world when I was 6.

Calvin and Hobbes

This is how most people still see the world (unfortunately):

Calvin and Hobbes

How I feel most Monday mornings:

Calvin and Hobbes

How Jim West feels today:

Calvin and Hobbes

True story:

Calvin and Hobbes

Election Day issues:

Calvin and Hobbes

My feelings about the modern public/private school system for grades 1-12:

Calvin and Hobbes

Self explanatory:

Calvin and Hobbes

Why do Academics Write? (via University of Venus)

Hat-tip to James McGrath for calling this to my attention. What an excellent piece and one that follows nicely with the current debate over accreditation, legitimacy in academia, and the usefulness of biblioblogs in the world of the Academe. Mary Churchill writes:

An academic monograph does not reach a large audience. This type of writing is necessary for tenure and promotion, for legitimacy within an elite group. It takes years to publish our work in the form of a book. We are often required to eliminate the most ground-breaking parts of our work and what we do write is often outdated by the time it is published. More and more, it seems that our books are written for tenure and promotion rather than for making a difference and/or changing the way people think.

We all know that printed books (even journals, newspapers, magazines, etc) are nearing some kind of end and that the world of readers is not waiting for the world of publishers. (see rise in free digital book downloads, self-publishing, blogs, print on demand, etc.)

Print on Demand is a rising way for academics to print.  More recently, Richard Carrier published his book on Lulu, but he was not the first.  James McGrath, Jim West, and other scholars have found Print on Demand to be quite an effectual tool to get out their perspectives; quite clearly there must be a reason for this shift and Mary seems to hit the nail on the head.  Online journals like Bible and Interpretation are ways for scholars to get our pre-release information on their books, write reviews, publish articles, and so forth, for free, to the lay audience (see my links).

Why Do Academics Write? I met one of my fellow writers from University of Venus for coffee yesterday. She has a book release party later this month (yay!) and we started talking about writing and the differences between writing for a narrow academic group within your discipline and writing for the readership of this blog.  We talked about how writing for University of Venus has really forced us to think about accessibility … Read More

via University of Venus.  Anyway, do read on.

“Before Whose Eyes” and Gal. 3

I realize this is a little late, seeing as this post was written over a month ago, but it was so interesting I felt the need to reblog it.  Stephen Carlson wrote up an excellent (yet brief) analysis of the Greek in Gal. 3.1 where Paul writes “Ὦ ἀνόητι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος” where the NIV translates as “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”  He writes:

If I have any complaint about the translation as a translation, it would be over its lack of originality. Is “before whose/your eyes” really the best way to express Paul’s diction in Gal 3:1? Have translators really been exercising independent judgment about this phrase, or have they fallen into a kind of translational inertia in rendering Paul’s Greek?

Well worth a look if you find the time.

Anonymity, Cyberbullying, and Accountability on the Internet

Some recent posts by Jim West (as well as other news stories) have caused me to consider something; how and in what way does ‘Freedom of Speech’ apply to the internet?  When it comes down to it, most people who utilize Freed of Speech are utilizing it by taking responsibility for their words; there is clear accountability.  On the internet where anonymous posters and commenters reign supreme, where people are bullied to extensive proportions (and where such attacks are permanent and readily available)—driving some to commit suicide (not a case of anonymous comments, but still a similar effect where permanent statements about someone online drove them to do this).  If a bully in school were doing this, a student could report the harassment to an authority and, more often than not, there would be direct disciplinary repercussions for the bully’s actions.    On the internet, which is worldwide, with no definable boundaries or jurisdictions, where anyone with a modicum of skill with computers can figure out how to change their IP addresses, get around firewalls, or worse, it is much more difficult to prosecute an individual who harasses or bullies another.

And even if you have a blog or website, block that person from posting there, creating a new, anonymous blog is quite easy.  In fact it is not just easy to slander or harass someone, but it is just as easy to impersonate someone (see the recent trial–ending in a conviction, thankfully–involving Raphael Golb, for example).  If one were deplorable enough, depraved enough, they could go to some hate site and create an account and impersonate the person they are bullying, posting all sorts of things in their name, and often that person would never know until they Google-searched themselves or someone else did for them—often a potential employer or worse, and there is no way to prove it wasn’t you unless you got a court order to do so.  Even if a case went to court, it takes time to build a case, and all the time that goes by is just more time for those words to remain up for others to find and read and react.  Plus, you will have to pay, eventually—whether it is for the time off from work to meet court dates or paying a lawyer—just to remove the slanderous content!  It’s pretty scary to think about; insidious people exist everywhere, and certainly this has already happened.

All of this leads back to the initial question: Should ‘Freedom of Speech’ protect anonymous slander, harassment, people who speak with no accountability because they can hide behind faux names and identities (or someone else’s)?   To be clear, I am not saying people should be censored; that isn’t it at all.  People should say what they want to say and I don’t think that there is any need to limit that freedom.  But I do believe that there should be accountability.  Right now there really isn’t any of which to speak.

Note: I do certainly appreciate the fact that, due to anonymity, people are more inclined to say how they feel.  That is respectable, but there is seemingly more negative, if not dark, comments and reactions that come along with anonymity than there are positive ones.  The fact that the internet is so permanent and so easily available around the world, there is no escape from the negative comments–short of moving to a secluded island where the inhabitants are without electricity, or to Amish country.   So, in my mind, there are only a few options: remove anonymity online all together or create new laws which allow for easier prosecution of bullies online, along with ways to remove, without cashed data, all the defamatory remarks.


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