‘the distortion of archaeology and what we can do about it’ by eric cline

bi_jugbible and interpretation has published dr. eric cline’s new article entitled, ‘the distortion of archaeology and what we can do about it: a brief note on progress made and yet to be made.’ in the article, dr. cline laments the trend towards the sensationalism of archaeological claims made by amateur archaeologists, hacks, fakes, and scholars who should know better, and the media’s use of this quackery to sell books and magazines and drive traffic to television documentaries and internet sites.

dr. cline then details how some archaeologists are working hard to expose this nonsense, critique and correct the false claims, and re-establish legitimate archaeology as a science and not as a field held hostage by those who use the media and internet to drive minority opinions, spurious claims, and outright unsustainable theories.

give it a read.

on the white house’s enemies list and the free press

In this June 6, 2008, file photo President Barack Obama huddles with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

In this June 6, 2008, file photo President Barack Obama huddles with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

there is an old adage: never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. this is as true for joe citizen as it is for white house.

the obama administration recently experienced another humiliating, yet little publicized setback stemming from their apparent policy of playing nice only with those organizations they feel support them. the white house recently attempted to make newly appointed ‘pay czar’ kenneth feinberg, who will oversee the obama administration’s efforts to limit the pay of top executives of companies that received federal bailout money, available for interviews to every member of the white house press pool except fox news. bad move. this kind of tit-for-tat access makes president obama look petty, and only reminds the nation of the corrupt, vindictive, and corrosive political environment in chicago that produced the likes of rod blagojevich, richard j. daley, and president obama.

how powerful is the press? and how wrong was it of the obama white house to attempt to grant press access only to those networks they believe provide favorable coverage of them? despite being competitors, the press stuck together!

the Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks decided that none of their reporters would interview Feinberg unless Fox News was included.

good for them. and shame on the white house power brokers. whether you love or hate fox news, one simply cannot pick and choose with whom one is going to deal as an elected official. the press in this country are granted nearly unfettered access to all things. anyone remotely appearing to deny access or hide things from the press – especially from the established networks – is just asking for relentless investigations and badgering from the press. this is especially true if you have made a public pledge to run a transparent administration.

and this news of singling out fox news comes at the same time as criticism of the white house mounts for cultivating what many say is an ‘enemies list,’ harkening back to the corrupt days of the nixon white house. and it is not only republicans that are making this claim, but now democrats are beginning to worry about the heavy handed tactics of white house chief of staff rahm emanuel and the obama white house as well. a recent politico piece by jonathan allen states:

“It’s a mistake,” said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from western Pennsylvania. “I think it’s beneath the White House to get into a tit for tat with news organizations.”

barack obama should know better. and he is learning from these embarrassing setbacks. he first thing he should learn is that experience is king in washington. the should dismiss the young brash advisors, and stick to some experienced folks like savvy genius david axelrod. because, and correct me if i’m mistaken, but i don’t believe a great strategy for a president who promised to bring all sides together is to deny access to those reporters who dare criticize you or attempt to hold you accountable. how’s that strategy working in the health care debate? chicago’s olympic bid? closing guantanamo? perhaps saturday night live said it best.

i will be watching the jeff dunham show

i will be watching the new jeff dunham show. you should too.

those of us who have followed jeff dunham‘s rise as a stand up comedian know him better as the jeff-fa-fa dun-ham (dot com). with his cast of characters including achmed the dead terrorist, josé jalepeño on a stick, bubba j, peanut, and walter, the ventriloquist dunham is a perfect combination of snl-esque sketch comedy, stand up, and triumph the insult comic dog. i can’t wait.

the jeff dunham show airs tonight, thu. oct. 22, 2009, at 9pm /8 c.

now you can pay to hear the madness

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

(you have got to be absolutely kidding me…)

come one, come all and see the greatest show on earth. it’s jimmy barfield, director of the copper scroll project, and he wants you to pay him to come to speak to your group.

here, on the copper scroll project’s newest web page, you can read all about what jimmy barfield will tell you if you will only contribute to his fundraising cause. just think, now you can pay to hear madness: schedule a meeting with jim barfield and the copper scroll project team, give them some money, and maybe you too can help bring about the rebuilding of the third temple and discover some really cool treasure all at the same time. because that’s what real archaeology is all about: finding treasure with a metal detector, bringing back the third temple, and keeping land away from the palestinians, right jim?

because the page is either mis-formatted or intentionally disguised, i’ve cut and pasted the text here. here’s what the page says:

SCHEDULE A MEETING
Schedule a presentation and learn details of what the Copper Scroll is and the incredible information that it contains and hear the story of how Jim Barfield discovered the key to understanding this most important document.

The Class will consist of:

• The events leading up to Jim Barfield’s discovery of the Copper Scroll locations
• The history of the Copper Scroll from the academic scholars and Jim Barfield’s personal view of the history of the scroll
• How the initial discovery was made and Jim Barfield’s resulting research
• Jim Barfield’s four trips to Israel to verify his findings at the actual locations listed on the Copper Scroll and how he was required to disclose the information to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
• Learn about the amazing artifacts and vast treasures that may be contained at the locations described by the ancient scroll.
• Jim Barfield’s relationships that resulted from his research on the Copper Scroll including:

• A Leading Temple Rabbi (his name is being kept secret until the right time)
• Gershon Solomon of the Temple Mount Faithful
• Vendyl Jones, a prominent Copper Scroll Scholar
• Shuka Dorfman the head of the Antiquities Authority of Israel
• Tamar Yonah, a great friend and supporter of our project and Talk Show Host for Israel National Radio
• William McKay, the producer of the TV series “Against All Odds” has called and offered to produce the documentary covering the story of Jim Barfield’s discovery and the dig that is to soon follow.
• The entire class will be presented with a PowerPoint Presentation, a projector and laptop will be available if your group does not have the necessary equipment for the class.
• Your group will also see the photo that is becoming so famous…the buried opening of the cave that most likely contains, the Alter of Incense, the Tabernacle of Moses, Jeremiah’s title deed to the Land of Benjamin, and most importantly “The Ark of the Covenant.”
• Be among the few that will see this presentation before the cave is opened, or before Jim Barfield is robbed of his discovery and unscrupulous men open the cave with out him.

Jim Barfield is raising funds to return to Israel to do the excavation required to unearth the most exciting discovery since the Tomb of Tutankhamun was opened by Howard Carter in the early 1900’s.  In order to do the required excavation a large amount of funding will be required and Jim Barfield and his associates are working hard to make this happen before the land that contains the locations listed on the Copper Scroll is given to the Palestinians.

Required provisions for Jim Barfield and/or Chris Knight to be able to do the Copper Scroll Presentation;

• Transportation costs (airfare or $0.54 per mile)
• Lodging
• $40.00 per day per diem for food per person
• Request for donations to support our Israel Excavation

Contact Jim Barfield at this email address [address xxx’d out so as not to promote the cause] to make the arrangements.

i simply do not know where to begin. perhaps i can start with listing just a few posts that have attempted to combat this kind of fake, sensationalistic, pseudoscience, amateur, did i mention fake, nonsense that barfield and his ‘team’ are attempting to pass off as archaeology:

  1. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/the-insanity-continues-jim-barfield-and-the-copper-scroll-project-get-another-jpost-article/
  2. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/transcript-of-tamar-yonahs-interview-of-copper-scroll-project-director-jim-barfield/
  3. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/new-article-by-dr-robert-cargill-pseudo-science-and-sensationalist-archaeology-an-expose-of-jimmy-barfield-and-the-copper-scroll-project/
  4. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/how-not-to-pad-your-ratings-the-copper-scroll-project-facebook-marketing-scheme/
  5. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/this-is-why-we-must-fight-pseudoscientific-fake-archaeology/
  6. https://bobcargill.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/now-busted-the-cover-up-begins-jimmy-barfield-and-the-copper-scroll-project/
  7. http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/copper.shtml
  8. http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/cargill2_08261.shtml
  9. http://jwest.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/more-dilettantism-the-copper-scroll-project/
  10. http://jwest.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/post-ashamed/
  11. http://jwest.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/the-post-essay-and-barfield-are-misrepresenting-the-iaa/
  12. http://drjimsthinkingshop.com/2009/08/27/pseudoreality-and-archaeology-virtual-reality-and-qumran/
  13. http://asorblog.org/?p=259
  14. http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2009/08/copper-scroll-code-cracked.html
  15. http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/the-copper-scrolls-dr-robert-cargill-on-the-insignificance-and-the-abuse-of-the-copper-scroll/
  16. http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/copper-scroll-the-jim-barfield-saga-continues/
  17. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/oklahoma-ark-eologist-arson-investigation-skills-to-find-lost-temple-treasure/
  18. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/claim-oklahoma-government-officials-to-lobby-top-people-in-israel-on-behalf-of-copper-scroll-treasure-hunter/
  19. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/jim-barfields-israel-adventure-continues-hebrew-roots-teacher-sets-up-meeting-with-archaeologist/
  20. http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/jerusalem-post-puffs-jim-barfields-copper-scroll-treasure-quest/

now, barfield is making himself available to the public for his own mini ‘copper scroll lecture series.’ but there is one line that sticks out like a sore thumb from barfield’s web page above:

Jim Barfield is raising funds to return to Israel.

and there it is. simply put, jimmy barfield has told the world exactly what this project is all about: raising money. ain’t that the truth!

this line really caught me off guard:

• Be among the few that will see this presentation before the cave is opened, or before Jim Barfield is robbed of his discovery and unscrupulous men open the cave with out him.

what? ‘his‘ discovery? what discovery?? the iaa found out barfield was making false claims about his role in this ‘expedition’ and cut him off, and now they are doing their job (excavating) and barfield fears that they will find ‘his‘ discovery? without him?? again, we are privy to what this entire copper scroll project is all about: credit and publicity for jimmy barfield. barfield has now twice betrayed his motivation: money and credit/publicity.

as for the line:

A Leading Temple Rabbi (his name is being kept secret until the right time)

i shake my head. literally. perhaps the identity of this ‘leading temple rabbi’ is being kept secret because it is as real as the ‘amazing artifacts and vast treasures that may be contained at the locations described by the ancient scroll.’ or, perhaps more likely, the identity of this ‘leading temple rabbi’ is being kept secret for the same reason that the name of ‘the archaeologist’ has been removed from the website and overdubbed in their videos (note the audio at 0:28, 1:26, 2:18, 3:50, and 5:11): they both asked jimmy barfield not to use their names for fear of being linked to sheer and utter nonsense.

as far as this claim is concerned:

Your group will also see the photo that is becoming so famous…the buried opening of the cave that most likely contains, the Alter of Incense, the Tabernacle of Moses, Jeremiah’s title deed to the Land of Benjamin, and most importantly “The Ark of the Covenant.”

i simply am at a loss for words. the line is written in such a manner that if some unwitting group were naïve enough to believe this claim and actually pay money to invite jimmy barfield to speak to their group, he would actually show them these items (the alter [sic] of incense, the tabernacle of moses, jeremiah’s title deed to the land of benjamin, and most importantly the ark of the covenant) that exist only in the fantasy world of jimmy barfield’s mind. how is jimmy barfield supposed to find the altar of incense if he can’t even spell altar?? and really, jeremiah’s title deed to the land of benjamin? the ark of the covenant?? they will see a picture of a cave. that’s it. what’s inside of it is sheer and admitted speculation.

seriously, it’s time for this nonsense to stop.

just remember, as p.t. barnum said, ‘there’s a sucker born every minute.’

shakira used a disguise and a middle name to attend ucla class

UCLA student Shakira

UCLA student Shakira

as many of you know, los angeles is a truly international city. and specifically, west los angeles is one of the coolest places on earth. so it should come as no surprise that international pop singing sensation shakira would choose to attend ucla for her educational needs in between making millions from recording songs and touring. the surprising part of the story is that she attended classes unnoticed.

and how did she do it? how did a star go unnoticed at ucla?

“I used to wear a cap and a big backpack,” Shakira explained. “I looked like a boy. I didn’t get recognized… She told them that her name was Isabel, which is actually one of her middle names.”

now of course, students at ucla are so attractive as well as smart, that it is not inconceivable that internationally recognized superstars can mingle around ucla’s country club-like campus without being bothered by the students, who are quite accustomed to bumping to the world’s biggest stars on campus, in westwood, santa monica, beverly hills, west hollywood, and the other neighborhoods surrounding ucla. but unlike some professors, who recognize and appreciate their celebrity students while maintaining strict confidentiality and treating them as all other students, ucla professor robert cleve didn’t even know who shakira was. according to professor cleve, whose ‘introduction to western civilization: ancient civilizations from prehistory to circa ad 843’ class shakira took, cleve ‘had no idea “isabel” was actually a pop star.’

“She told me she was visiting from Colombia and that she was just doing this for her own enlightenment and enjoyment,” Cleve told the Associated Press in 2007. “She looked like just an ordinary student. She wasn’t flamboyant…she didn’t act like a big celebrity or anything.”

and that’s the way it goes here at ucla. celebrities and the world’s best and brightest students sit side by side, taking courses in the warm sun, enjoying the ocean breeze, and learning history the way god intended.

(that is, when we’re not stuck on the 405 because there is no viable public transportation, paying outrageous prices to park and live, working for 8% less then we were last year, and getting stabbed in lab classrooms. other than those things, it is perfect. ;-)

life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and broadband: finland makes access to internet a right

Flag of Finland

Flag of Finland

at a time when americans are debating whether access to life saving medical treatments and health care is fiscally plausible for all of its citizens, finland has passed a law declaring access to high-speed broadband internet is not a privilege, but a right. you heard that correctly: the country with a highly decentralized three-level, publicly funded system of health care woven into a private insurance system, has now decreed that acces to broadband internet is a right of all of its citizens.

Services must provide a minimum speed of 1 megabit per second, but the LA Times reports that the government plans to make access to super-fast 100-Mbps broadband access a legal right for Finland residents by the end of 2015.

melissa rohlin of the los angeles times adds:

the government has pledged to expand the legal right to 100-megabit broadband access by the end of 2015.

this means while we have not yet figured out how to provide basic health care to our citizens, finland is ensuring access to the internet. yet, they are doing so with private companies. this is not an example of socialist government controlled internet service, but rather a government mandate that the finnish internet service providers actually provide a minimal level of service to all parts of the country.

can you imagine if our government required our companies to actually provide decent cell phone service to all citizens? then maybe i could get a signal in my own home. instead, i have at&t.

sigh.

carl kasell’s voice has finally arrived!

Carl Kasell, NPR Newscaster, Wait Wait...Dont Tell Me! Judge, and quite possible the coolest man around!

Carl Kasell, NPR Newscaster, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! Judge, and quite possible the coolest man on earth!

how cool is this!

perhaps the most coveted prize in all of comedy, game shows, and general geekdom has finally arrived. carl kasell has recorded the message on my iphone and i could not be happier. after my win on wait wait…don’t tell me!, i was ecstatic. however, i had always wondered how they’d get carl’s voice onto my voice mail. when i learned that i got to write the message i wanted him to say, i figured i’d have a little fun with it. so i did, and to his credit, carl kasell was an excellent sport and read my message as i wrote it – self-deprecating portions and all! what a thrill.

i bow to carl kasell a thousand times for his sense of humor and his willingness to make an npr nerd’s day. thank you to carl kasell, emily ecton, peter sagal, and the entire npr and wait wait team.

thank you. thank you. thank you!

now, to keep you all from calling me, i have uploaded an mp3 of carl kasell’s message for my iphone on my server. tell me what you think in the comments below. and listen to npr!!!

eric cline’s last lecture

Dr. Eric Cline

Dr. Eric Cline

eric cline’s ‘last lecture‘ at george washington university is now available online. it’s a bio of his life and a compelling argument for those considering archaeology as a career. as always, dr. cline is funny and quite compelling. here’s to a scholar committed to bringing archaeology to the public (as well as to other scholars). good job eric.

ucla earthquake preparedness and the great california shakeout 10/15 @ 10:15

The Great California Shakeout

The Great California Shakeout

today, october 15, 2009 (10/15) at 10:15 am, ucla faculty and staff participated in the ‘great california shakeout.’ the great shakeout is an earthquake preparedness drill sponsored by the state of california. employees are asked to identify sturdy tables and desks under which to duck and cover in the event of an earthquake, and then walk through an actual evacuation route to a predetermined rendezvous point outside of the building.

the drill was boring, but beneficial. at ucla, there were no siren blasts, news media hovering overhead in helicopters (like we had for days when michael jackson died), or people screaming. best of all, no one was injured during the drill.

we ducked and covered, made our way to the evacuation point, read our bruinalerts (bruinalert on facebook), (which have recently told us of emergencies on campus such as stabbings), and returned to our offices. it was a good way to prepare a plan of action in the event of an actual emergency.

i used my time wisely to read briefly from a hebrew book i rather enjoy reading. i figure, if you’re gonna go, you might as well go out reading something you enjoy.

Members of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities rendezvous at the Murphy Sculpture Garden during the October 15, 2009 "Great California Shakeout" earthquake preparedness drill.

Members of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities rendezvous at the Murphy Sculpture Garden during the "Great California Shakeout" earthquake preparedness drill.

UCLA Instructional Technology Consultants (ITCs) demonstrating how to properly 'duck and cover' during the Great California Shakeout on October 15, 2009.

UCLA Instructional Technology Consultants (ITCs) demonstrating how to properly 'duck and cover' during the Great California Shakeout on October 15, 2009.

"If you're gonna go, you might as well go reading something worthwhile." - Robert Cargill Dr. Robert Cargill reading his BHS under a sturdy table during the Great California Shakeout.

"If you're gonna go, you might as well go out reading something you enjoy." - Robert Cargill

Dr. Robert Cargill reading his BHS under a sturdy table during the Great California Shakeout.

Dr. Robert Cargill reading his BHS under a sturdy table during the Great California Shakeout.

notes from ucla lecture by harvard’s harvey cox entitled, ‘the future of faith’

Harvey Cox, Harvard University

Harvey Cox, Harvard University

tuesday evening i attended a lecture by harvard religion professor dr. harvey cox entitled, ‘the future of faith.’ the lecture was sponsored by the ucla center for the study of religion, and introduced dr. ra’anan boustan, who is taking over as director for the outgoing dr. scott bartchy, who has directed the center for 14 years.

professor cox spoke about his new book, ‘the future of faith,’ and made three brief points:

1. religion has not disappeared, it is growing. despite claims in the 60s that religion would disappear with the rise of science, it has not. in fact, religion has grown. pentecostalism is the fastest growing area, probably because of its simplicity and experiential focus. more xns now reside in asia, south america, and africa than in the traditional ‘christian’ areas of europe and north america. religion has not died, but it has transformed.

2. fundamentalism is dying. fundamentalism is not evangelicalism. sectarianism is dying because it requires too much energy in a socially networked world. sectarianism/fundamentalism requires physical and social isolation to thrive, but global communications, travel, and the internet (particularly social networking) puts the thoughts and ideas of all peoples within reach, harming fundamentalism. likewise, sectarianism cannot act politically, only unilaterally, because political success requires working with groups unlike one’s own. evangelicalism is shifting from a movement with a few large litmus issues (like abortion and the role of women or gay rights) to more complex issues of race, poverty, and social justice. evangelicalism is moving away from the ‘infallibility and inerrancy’ of the bible, to a place where the bible plays a role in instruction.

3. there is a change in the nature of religiousness. the change is characterized by a transition from doctrine to experience, from a hierarchical model to a communitarian one. doctrine has given way to issues of social justice. worship is now less geared towards an audience and more towards a participative experience. beliefs have given way to actions and a way of life way. dr. cox pointed out that there was no common creed for the first 300 years of christianity, yet it seemed to thrive. the rise of orthodoxy made christianity into more of an oppressive doctrinal system, one that is only now beginning to reemerge as a force for social justice rather than a political tool.

i agreed with many of the observations that dr. cox made. he noted the perceived rise of fundamentalisms in the muslim world is only the exception to the rule, and that this militancy has more of a nationalistic/tribal basis and less of a religious one (religion being the tool used inappropriately to bring about their desired political order). he was charming, confident, and humble. i enjoyed the lecture.

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