exquisite massive sculpture of egyptian pharaoh’s head discovered at luxor

Sculpted head of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

This undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday Feb. 28, 2010, shows the newly unearthed 3,400-year old red granite head, part of a huge statue of the ancient pharaoh Amenhotep III, at the pharaoh's mortuary temple in the city of Luxor. Egypt's Culture Ministry says a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists has unearthed a large head made of red granite of an ancient pharaoh who ruled Egypt some 3,400 years ago. (AP Photo/ Supreme Council of Antiquities)

news from egypt from the associated press:

Archaeologists have unearthed a massive red granite head of one Egypt’s most famous pharaohs who ruled nearly 3,400 years ago, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Sunday.

The head of Amenhotep III, which alone is about the height of a person, was dug out of the ruins of the pharaoh’s mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor.

that’s some big head. congrats to dr. hourig sourouzian, who has led the led the egyptian-european expedition at the site since 1999.

(with thanx to jim west.)

85 year old sues for age discrimination after being replaced by 75 year old

Citi Fieldthis story by jennifer millman made me chuckle:

An 85-year-old New Jersey woman who spent decades manning a beer stand at Mets games cried foul when her employer, Aramark, booted her from her profitable stand during the last season at Shea Stadium and replaced her with a younger woman.

A judge tossed Mildred Block’s lawsuit yesterday, however, on the grounds that her replacement – 75-year-old Gloria Smith – indicated the concession company did not discriminate against Block based on her age.

she still works for the company, but apparently after she was moved to a different stand, she claims she didn’t make as much in tips.

but here’s the big question the mets should be asking: can she pitch?

you must watch scott bailey’s theology nutjob channel

you must watch scott bailey’s theology nutjob youtube channel. it’s simply one of the best compilations of everything that’s wrong about modern christianity. not that christianity is bad, but there are some very bad folks out there giving christianity and christian worship a very bad name.

we can’t stop them from saying what they say. what we can do is the very opposite: highlight what they say publicly and put on the web, and expose it for the nonsense that it is. this is precisely what scott has done.

it’s half comedy and half tragedy, but you should watch it when you can. and check out scotteriology, his excellent blog as well!

have a nice day.

is there digital life after death?

my friend randy coppinger posed this interesting question:

Scott Brown on Managing Your Digital Remainssure, people of many faiths have made arrangements for their soul after the death of their earthly body. likewise, many folks create a last will or trust to look after their physical remains. but what preparations have we made for the afterlife of our cyber-presence? is there digital life after death, and if so, who controls it?

thankfully, scott brown addressed this very question in a recent article in wired magazine.

Our local, carbon-based “hard drives” may fail, but vestiges of our inimitable selves will remain ambient and accessible long after we log off this mortal coil.

This distributed deathlessness means we’ll all need a little cleanup on Aisle Me. The aspects of life we archive online, be they valuable, heritable, or simply embarrassing, require posthumous management (and, in some cases, eradication) lest our friends and loved ones and executors be embarrassed or inconvenienced by our lingering digital detritus, a trash-strewn wake of left-behind liabilities.

apparently, there are companies who will look after your digital remains after your physical body ceases to be.

it’s the online equivalent of the old mob/spy trick: ‘if you kill me, and i don’t input the secret code every 12 hours, [whatever you’re looking for] gets sent to the cia, etc.’ basically, after you kick the bucket, your failure to respond to email alerts triggers a series of bots, which go to your online accounts, insert your passwords, and process the transfers or deletions of all your online assets and accounts.

At least three companies — AssetLock.net, Legacy Locker, and the charmingly named Deathswitch.com — have arisen to keep customers’ passwords, usernames, final messages, and so on in a virtual safe-deposit box. After you’re gone, these companies carry out last wishes, alert friends, give account access to various designated beneficiaries, and generally parse out and pass on your online assets.

clever. why didn’t i think of this?

now, what would be more clever than a service that deletes your online accounts? i’ll tell you: a process that makes one’s online presence the primary, permanent presence, somewhat like the end of avatar.

here’s how it would work: when you’re about to die, you trigger the transfer. your thoughts and memories in real life get scanned and transferred to your online life (much like second life), and you live eternally in there. who knows, maybe we’ll have that ability someday and we can combat the ‘rise of the machines’ by becoming the machines.

fantasy, i know. perhaps i’ll stick to the less fantastic vision of living forever in a paradise with other, like-minded, disembodied, immortal souls.

denied! golb case heads to trial

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael Golb and his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment of several Dead Sea Scrolls scholars.

the raphael golb case is headed to trial.

on wednesday, february 24, 2010, judge carol berkman rejected raphael golb’s motions to dismiss the charges against him and rejected his motion to suppress evidence collected from his home and computers during the execution of the search warrant during his arrest.

in fact, not a single one of the 51 felony and misdemeanor counts against golb was dismissed. apparently, the judge in the case did not appreciate or accept golb’s attempt to use the protected speech afforded him in his motions to dismiss the case to further attack scholars he had already smeared in previous attacks, like professor lawrence schiffman of new york university.

this means that the emails sent between raphael golb and his brother, joel golb, his mother, ruth golb, and his father, university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, will be on full display for all to read and hear during the trial. some of raphael golb’s email correspondence involved norman golb’s university of chicago ‘n-golb@uchicago.edu‘ work email address. likewise, the development of the entire smear campaign over the past three years can systematically revisited and the coordinated efforts of norman and raphael golb can be demonstrated during the trial.

raphael golb was arrested on march 5, 2009 on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer in a bizarre, multi-year attempt to influence an intellectual debate involving his father, norman golb, by creating multiple aliases to smear publicly and even criminally impersonate scholars that disagreed with his father.

the trial date has been set for september 13, 2010. the defense in the case did not want to try the case in march of 2010, nor in july of 2010, but requested the delayed september date. this will place the trial just before the annual meeting of all biblical and jewish studies professors at the society of biblical literature meeting in november, as well as the annual meeting of the american schools of oriental research, a professional meeting of all archaeologists dealing with the near east.

there is always the possibility that raphael golb pleads guilty prior to the trial, but as it now stands, i and several others will begin testifying in the case september 13, 2010.

the stupidest thing kierkegaard ever said: a thought on the nature of love

Søren Kierkegaard

Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard by Niels Christian Kierkegaard, c. 1840.

in a recent sermon, i heard a quote by søren kierkegaard that gave me reason for pause. it concerned the eternal and irrevocable nature of love (at least in kierkegaard’s eyes). the quote is as follows:

It is regarded as praiseworthy that love abides, but as unworthy that it does not last, that it ceases, that it changes. Only the first is love; the other seems, because of the change, not to be love – and consequently not to have been love. The facts are these, one cannot cease to be loving; if one is in truth loving, one remains so; if one ceases to be loving, then one was not loving. Ceasing to love has therefore, in relation to love, a retroactive power. Moreover, I can never weary of saying this and of demonstrating it: wherever there is love, there is something infinitely profound. For instance, a man may have had money, and when he no longer has it, it still remains entirely true that he had had money. But when one ceases to be loving, he has never been loving. (Kierkegaard, Works of Love, Vol II, Chap VI “Love Abideth,” (Copenhagen, 1847). See p. 245 in trans. from Danish by David F. Swenson and Lillian Marvin Swenson, Princeton University Press, 1946.)

now, truth be told, i am a fan of much of what kierkegaard has to say. i subscribe to many of the elemental tenents of existentialism. and i try to practice, to the best of my ability, what is good because it is good, and not because i receive some reward for it (even heaven). we are righteous because it is the right thing to do, not for fear of punishment or to earn some prize.

likewise, i completely understand kierkegaard’s proclivity for making broad, sweeping, all-or-none generalizations: indeed, that is the very predisposition of existentialism. however, the above statement by kierkegaard is perhaps the stupidest thing he ever said.

kierkegaard’s claim about the absolute nature of love is fundamentally in err. (extrapolations into areas of faith or hope are likewise in error).

first, kierkegaard errs in his assumption that love is not quantifiable. while it may be difficult to establish a quantifiable scale of the degree to which one loves, and while there may be no identifiable limit to how much love one can exhibit, it is possible to understand love on a relative scale. one can certainly be said to love lots of people, but that same one can love some more than others, and perhaps love one individual most of all. thus, love is quantifiable in a relative sense. jesus is said to have exhibited this relative sense of love when he asked peter in john 21:15, ‘simon son of john, do you love me more than these?’ the fact that jesus acknowledges that humans can love some more than others demonstrates that love is quantifiable in a relative sense. likewise, when asked in matt. 22:36, ‘teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?,’ jesus did not respond, ‘behold, thou hast asked a stupid question, for dost thou not know that one either loves or does not love, and that all love is absolute?’ rather, jesus responded in matt. 22:37-39, ‘you shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ this is the greatest and first commandment. and a second is like it: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ thus, in jesus’ mind, love is indeed quantifiable, and one can and should love some things more than others.

second, kierkegaard errs in his assumption that one cannot love and hate, accept and reject. however, it is indeed within the nature of both humanity and the divine to both love and hate. individual beings can show mercy to some while judging others; one can both accept and reject. this ability is quite consistent with normal human (and divine) behavior. this paradox explains the statement in malachi 1:2-3, where god says, ‘yet i have loved jacob, but i have hated esau.’ thus, the bible demonstrates that god can be all loving while simultaneously hating and rejecting some of own. one will certainly not conclude that because god ceased loving esau and hated him, that god ‘has never been loving.’

several other biblical passages directly countermand kierkegaard’s claims. god is said to both have compassion and withhold compassion (rom 9:15). god is said to both bless and curse (gen 12:3). yet, we do not state that because god ceased to show compassion on one occasion that he is therefore not compassionate, nor has ever been compassionate. thus, it is possible to have loved and lost. that is, just because one ceases to love does not necessarily mean that one never loved. it means that the love once exhibited is now exhausted. but the fact that one has ceased to love does not nullify that one has loved or is capable of still loving.

as much as kierkegaard desired to laud and aggrandize love, and, as romantic as an eternal, never-ending love sounds, his dichotomy of absolute states of love is not a reality – not even for god. while god is described in the bible as showing tremendous love, he is also said to have withdrawn his hand for a time. he is said to have hated esau. and, if we are to believe the words of jesus, god even forsakes and betrays in a time of need, as he did when jesus hanged on a cross and questioned, ‘my god, my god, why have you betrayed me?’ (mark 15:34) and yet, few would argue that because god ceased to love for a moment, he has never loved.

of course, some might argue that god’s love is beyond our comprehension and not subject to our rules and understanding, or that one can love while still manifesting the outward appearance of rejection. but that is not what kierkegaard argued. kierkegaard argued that one who stops loving has never loved, and this is simply not the case.

likewise, one cannot make an absolute claim of god, and then, in the face of simple refutation, claim that god is beyond the limits of the very human logic that was initially used to make the fallacious claim. additionally, one cannot claim that the use of scripture to refute a claim woven together by scripture is ‘biblicizing’ or a misuse of text. if one makes an absolute claim based upon a canon of text, then the use of that very canon of text to refute the absolute claim is valid.

in the above case, kierkegaard’s argument is not valid. it is a logical fallacy. of course, once defiled, something pure cannot be said to have never been defiled. purity is an absolute state. but love is not. one can love, cease to love, and love again. likewise, one who has ceased to love can still be said to have loved, and can still be capable of loving.

thus, despite kierkegaard’s occasional brilliance, the above quote is one of the stupidest things he ever said. -bc


(p.s. imho, kierkegaard was a jilted lover. he and regine olson professed love for one another, but she married another. one can understand why kierkegaard might want to describe love as an eternal absolute state: ‘you said you loved me, but you’re marrying him. therefore, you never really loved me, did you…’)

jesus was gay. elton john says so

Elton John claims Jesus was gay.

Elton John claims Jesus was gay. Photo copyright 2008 News Group Newspapers Ltd and/or its licensors.

well, there you have it. in case you had any questions about jesus’ sexual orientation, now we have the answer…at least according to elton john.

jesus was gay.

according to the sun article:

Elton, 62, declares as he pours out his heart to a magazine: “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.”

He adds: “Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East – you’re as good as dead.”

so, according to elton john, if you’re a compassionate, super-intelligent man who understands human problems, you’re gay. looks like all of you were right about me all these years. ;-)

(btw, roslyn, there’s probably something i should tell you… ;-)

i’ll dispense with making the standard ‘gay jesus’ jokes (like, ‘well, he did wear sandals, talk about love, hang out with his 12 partners, was environmentally conscious, greeted other men with kisses, and loved bette midler albums,’ etc.)

it is, however, a question worth asking, and one that many scholars have examined for decades now (although many of them have been unfairly ridiculed for doing so). likewise, the issue of homosexuality and homesexual christians is not going away, and the church (local congregations and denominations) must stop ignoring the problem and come up with some concrete answers. (you all know where i stand on this one.)

but what does one make of a single jewish man who never married (at a time where this was expected), hung out with other men, never produced a son (outside of the da vinci code), and never condemned homosexuality, despite the fact that both the hebrew bible (the christian old testament) and the new testament both criticized the practice sharply? can these practices be seen as evidence of homosexuality on the part of jesus, or were they the traits of an itinerant preacher from the north speaking about counter-cultural aspects of love, aversion to wealth, and the suppression of bodily desires?

it’s a legitimate question. so while we may have fun with elton john wanting jesus to be gay, we should not dismiss the question out of hand, nor should we ridicule those scholars seeking to examine these questions within a religious context. rather, we should examine the evidence and have the conversation. at least that way our decision about jesus’ sexuality will be based in facts and observations, and not on celebrity proclamations and/or fears, hatred, and prejudices.

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