THE ANNA NICOLE SMITH "WEEPING JUDGE"
Ideally a judge is dispassionate. The more sensitive a case is, the more important it is to have a dispassionate judge. He made a decision while he was impaired by his emotions and it was a bad decision.
Suspicious circumstances surround the deaths of Ms. Smith and her son. It is possible that there might be a criminal investigation in the near future. Yet the judge turned over Anna Nicole's body, the prosecution's best evidence, to Howard K. Stern, the guy most likely to be named as a suspect. The judge made this decision while not in control of his emotions, and ruined the possibility of credible evidence being obtained from that source in the future. He put the potential suspect in charge of the evidence against him. He took suspicious circumstances and made them more suspicous.
Maybe this judge could be given a televison court show, like Judge Judy, where he can run amok and show off for the cameras and good legal decisions can be subverted to good television decisions. I don't want a blubbering schoolgirl on the bench when I'm in court.
THE JESUS FAMILY TOMB
Saw it on the discovery channel. These filmmakers took a 30-year-old find and tried to show that this collection of ossuaries might be the burial caskets of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Mary Magdalene and other members of Jesus' family. In Ted Koppel's discussion afterwards, a panel of experts discussed the film's strengths and weaknesses.
The main weakness, and the one that Mr. Koppel addressed first is that DNA testing was done on the Mary Magdalene and Jesus ossuaries. The two samples were found to be unrelated. The conclusion drawn was that these samples were man and wife. Actually, they could have been in-laws or just unrelated people, but the filmmakers ignored that possibility.
Also, DNA testing was done only on those two ossuaries. Not on the Mary or Joseph ossuaries or those thought to be the ossuaries of the brothers of Jesus. The fact that they didn't try and that they didn't explain in the film why they didn't try makes me think they knew they wouldn't get the results they wanted.
They explained in the discussion that the other ossuaries looked cleaner inside, as if they had been vacuumed out. They didn't mention that in the film, though.
Also, they want us to believe that this collection of ossuaries with all the names of the known members of the family of Jesus was discovered thirty years ago and just sat in the warehouse for thirty years. The potential significance of the find would have been obvious to anybody. Was it a subject too hot to handle? Holy Land antiquities are fraught with fraud, and thirty years is a lot of opportunity for some prankster to sneak in and tighten up the case.
The James ossuary, which the filmmakers claim comes from this same tomb, is now being investigated over claims that part of the inscription are fraudulent. That one fact calls into question everything else found in that tomb. That fact might even suggest that the James ossuary was practice for this larger "find."
All of these things, the fact that the claim is so extraordinary, fraud in the area is so frequent, obviously helpful tests were not attempted, there were thirty intervening years for potential tampering, leaves too much room for doubt. Of course, very few archaeological studies are considered conclusive when they are first presented. So we'll let the pros examine the evidence and wait and see.
If it does turn out to be as presented, I don't think it's going to ruin Christianity any more than did the Copernican model of the solar system. In the early centuries of the church there were Christian sects that did not teach the same miraculous events that the Catholic church did. They held that Jesus' message was valid with or without miracles, and certain signs and miracles used by Catholicism to validate Jesus as the messiah were not actually required by Old Testament prophecy. The followers of Arius, for instance, didn't teach the trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the virgin birth or the physical ascension. This wasn't an obscure cult, either. The Visigoths were mostly Arian Christians when they moved into the Roman Empire. Christianity has adapted to changes in the world's body of knowledge in the past and will continue to adapt.
One afterthought concerning the fact that the ossuaries lay catalogued but not closely examined for thirty years in a warehouse: When trying to identify fraudulent inscriptions in ancient stone, one thing to look for is an oxidation layer. That layer gets removed when the stone is carved, so fresh inscriptions will have no oxidation layer in the grooves. It takes about twenty to thirty years for the stone to oxidize such that the oxidation layer in a modern inscription will be indistinguishible from the oxidation layer in an ancient inscription. Coincidence, probably.
I was reading the label on some iodized table salt when I noticed that it contained more aluminum than iodine. Aluminum salts are added to products to keep them from clumping. Any white powdery thing you buy might have aluminum salts added. Confectioner's sugar. Table salt. Non-dairy creamer.
Non-dairy creamer is mostly aluminum salts. A box of table salt might contain a pinch, but a spoonful of non-dairy creamer contains almost a spoonful of aluminum salts.
Some decades ago we started turning to these nondairy creamers for convenience and health reasons. The health angle hinges on the notion that we're replacing high-fat cream with a product that contains no fat. Less fat in the diet supposedly makes us healthier.
So far so good, but who decided that a spoonful of aluminum salts was healthier than a spoonful of cream?
There are a lot of minerals we need. You can go into any health food store and find bottles of calcium, iron, magnesium, sulfur, potassium. Then there's a list of minerals you won't find sold as dietary supplements. Mercury. Chromium. Aluminum. If there were any health benefit at all to be derived from aluminum, somebody would be selling it as a dietary supplement.
I don't know that these aluminum salts present any health risk, but I have heard that altzheimers is associated with high concentrations of aluminum in the brain. When that study first came out about ten years ago, the media was concentrating on aluminum soda cans as a potential source of aluminum. They didn't mention that one dose of nondairy creamer contains more aluminum than you're likely to get over a lifetime of drinking soda from aluminum cans.
APOLOGIES FOR SLAVERY
The State of Virginia passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and Maryland is thinking about doing the same thing. Some U.S. congressman is about to introduce a similar federal resolution. Where does this rush to apologize come from? Is it just because politicians can pass high-sounding paper without having to fight other politicians for funding? Politically it's pretty shrewd to be first. If your political rivals don't follow suit it makes them look culturally insensitive. If they do follow suit it makes them look tardy and half-hearted. The guys who introduce this legislation are trying to set up a public perception game that their rivals can't win.
How meaningful is it really for people who never owned slaves to apologize to people who never were slaves? Are future historians going to look at our records and decide that in the year 2007, this congressman suddenly discovered that slavery was wrong? I think it's been about a hundred years since anybody questioned the wrongness of slavery, assuming that there were some lingering sentiments from Confederate veterans way back in the sticks somewhere. It seems to me that there are laws against slavery, and that pretty much establishes the official wrongness of it.
This legislative rush to apologize has nothing to do with social justice or slavery. It's all about politicians trying to make themselves look good while making their rivals look bad. For those who want to address specific issues of social injustice, there are issues more deserving of your efforts. It's really great that these legislators are taking a stand on the issue, but slavery was outlawed 150 years ago. You're a little behind the curve, guys. Where do you stand on the issues of cannibalism and witch burning? It's really important that we know, just in case you want to build a bridge to the sixteenth century.
THE VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING
I've written on this subject before, but here it goes again. Every time I point this out, people roll their eyes and act like I'm goofy, but....
These shootings always occur right after a public health crisis, in this case a big pet food recall. The last school shooting, the one at the Amish school, came right after the big ecoli/green onion scare.
Also, another observation that I'm not going to take credit for, nobody ever goes on a rampage at a gun show. Of course if someone did try that it ended so quickly that it didn't make the news.
RTJ -- 4/16/2007
STATING THE OBVIOUS
From what I've seen on the internet, every guy in America has dressed his girlfriend up as Lara Croft at least once.
RTJ -- 4/28/2007
A REPUBLICAN READS SHAKESPEARE
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Yes.
Art thou more lovely? Sure. More temperate? You bet!
Do rough winds shake the darling buds of May? Absolutely!
Is summer's lease long? No! It's short. Too damn short.
Does the eye of heaven shine too hot sometimes? If by that you mean the sun, then I'd say it's a matter of personal preference.
Is it's gold complexion often dimmed? Sure. Why not. Look, you go with the weather you've got, not the weather you want.
Does every fair from fair sometimes decline by chance or nature's course untrimmed? I don't know what that means.
But will your eternal summer fade? Unlikely.
Will you lose posession of that fair thou owest. No.
Shall death brag that thou wandrest in his shade? No. Why?
When in eternal lines to time thou growest. Get it?
Will you live as long as this poem exists and so long as men can breathe to speak it, or eyes can see to read it? Metaphorically. Maybe. Kind of.
And This set:
...have the same number of members, despite the fact that the second set consists of only half the members of the first set. Set two is half of the first set, but it's also the same size.
Want to argue about it? Send me mail.