Michael Shermer to visit Lethbridge (very advance warning).

I got an email the other day from Paul Sparrow-Clarke who works in the mysterious reaches of the “7th floor” at the U. of L. (where the president’s offices are), letting me know that they have booked the speaker for the fall 2010 Owen G. Holmes  lecture.

Mark Sept. 23 on your calendar!

Michael Shermer

Author of “Why People Believe Weird Things”.

Shermer is the  e Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American.

Here is a cut and paste blurb about his books from his blog,

Dr. Shermer’s latest book is The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. His last book was Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is the author of Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown, about how the mind works and how thinking goes wrong. His book The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Share Care, and Follow the Golden Rule, is on the evolutionary origins of morality and how to be good without God. He wrote a biography, In Darwin’s Shadow, about the life and science of the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. He also wrote The Borderlands of Science, about the fuzzy land between science and pseudoscience, and Denying History, on Holocaust denial and other forms of pseudohistory. His book How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God, presents his theory on the origins of religion and why people believe in God. He is also the author of Why People Believe Weird Things on pseudoscience, superstitions, and other confusions of our time.

Whoot! When’s it gonna be September?

Here he is at a TED lecture. Its about 14 minutes long, but then, we’ve got time, haven’t we?

Anyway, in the video, Shermer mentions Katie Melua, so here is the video of the tune he mentions.


Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Stephanie’s Very Posh Cat

I don’t really have a  lot to blog about at the moment (well, I do, I just don’t have the energy), but I got sick of looking at the horrible nazi jerk’s picture in the last post so here is something even Jim West should agree is altogether better looking.

Yes, I  do keep my Moet & Chandon in my  pretty cabinet
moar funny pictures

This is Delilah, Stephanie Louise Fisher’s little friend.

And with that in mind, lets have some music!

Aryan Guard on the run. Where’s your master race now, you pathetic scrotum-pimples?

The Calgary Herald is reporting that the Calgary based neo-nazi outfit the “Aryan Guard” has disbanded, at least according to its website.

The AG first got in the news  in 2006 and distributed a bunch of propaganda in Calgary and Lethbridge. Alas, all has not been coming up roses for the arch defenders of black-hearted whiteness. It seems they didn’t get along with each other, and someone tried to blow one of them up on Saturday. One 17 year old is already under arrest (found in Manitoba) and charged with attempted murder and the founder of the super-flounder,  Kyle Robert McKee, 24, is on the run from similar charges.


Ubersturmfuckwit McKee. Photo lifted from the Calgary Herald.


From the Herald story:

McKee is also a frequent poster on white pride online forums, most recently praising the spray painting on the Calgary Jewish Centre and Holocaust memorial as funny.

He has been photographed with Nazi flags, white pride logos and with his right arm raised in salute.

More on the bombing here (also Calgary Herald). The guy who found the bombs picked them up and threw them away. They exploded. Surprise!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,


I’m Home from New Orleans. Not forgiven, but I’m home.

I made it back from New Orleans with all my luggage, loot and plunder intact (if not my nerves).

It all started very early. I left for the N. O. airport around 6:00 this morning and got in my door around 8 this evening (9:00 N. O. time). The first leg of the trip, to Denver, was fine, but I had a 4 hour wait there. Then the damn airplane (“Untied Airlines”) broke, but we know the REAL reason:

Had to wait an extra hour and half, or so, which really cut into the time I had in Calgary to get through customs and get onto the flight to Lethbridge. As it worked out, I didn’t have any time to eat in Calgary, but I did make my plane back home. Of course, the Denver-Calgary flight passed right over Lethbridge, and I could make out my street. That was just about the time I was really worrying about missing my connecting flight. So near and yet so far!

Tom and Sharon Robinson met me at the airport and drove me home. And what did I find when I stepped in the door? Three cats happy as can be to see me?

Gone. FIVE freakin' days. I hope you have a REALLY good excuse, Mr.
moar funny pictures

Oh, its you. Bring me anything?
moar funny pictures

Well, the house is still standing, but the little beggars knocked over their giant can of Kittie Treats, spilling a gallon of dry cat food on the floor (according to Sharon, this was nearly a daily occurrence). They also tipped over my document shredder. I must remember to empty its basket after every use. Shredded paper all over my office.

My hoomin goez to Nawlinz an' awl Ai getz iz dis stoopit hat.
moar funny pictures

Other that that, all is will. I had a great time at the conference. Met some good people like Roland Boer and Jim West, drank my fair share of Abita, at a lot of nice fish in a lot of nice restaurants, heard some good jazz, and found a great record store that now has a lot of my money. And I got myself on the steering committee of the Isrealite Prophetic Literature section.

As Hector Avalos predicted, there were a number of different perspectives at the secular biblical scholarship meeting, but I think a productive way forward can be found. I also met a lot of people who were interested but couldn’t make the meeting. Thanks to Hector for chairing it.

Looking forward to Atlanta!

More later.

Jim West Spotted Busking in New Orleans, and all that “jazz”.

Yes! The intrepid curmudgeon has been spotted in disguise on the streets of New Orleans, busking away, trying to be cool. He’s doin’ it wrong.

Here is a tip, J.W, its “Jazz” music, not “Jewish music” that New Orleans is famous for.

Oh yeah, and don’t quit your day job.

And here’s a kitteh to show you how its done!

New Orleans, Saturday Morning. Things done and to do.

OK, so I’m in New Orleans. Had a decent sleep and I’m almost ready to let the day really begin. Yup, I’m gonna have another cup of coffee.

I got into the hotel around 10.00 last night, the hotel is fine. I’m up on the 17th floor so I have wonderful views of even taller hotels and office towers.

I did go down to the hotel lounge last night for a beer and something to eat and I have had an Abita Amber already. Wonderful stuff! So that is one thing off my to do list. Also had a Blue Moon which was quite nice, too.

Now, this morning I’m off to do the ONE THING that MUST BE DONE at the SBL conference (besides putting on pants): PICK UP THE TOTE BAG!  Then I’m off to meet Stephanie Fisher for some lunch, then a few sessions and the Secular Biblical Sudies meeting this evening. And more Abita.



Sam your sara with the Far Left Side! The reincarnation of a Michael Jackson poll.

This guy is freakin’ hilarious!

And very enlightening. I wonder what Michael Jackson has been reincarnated as? Take the Poll!

New Music for Dr. Jim

Dr. Jim went shopping the other day for some necessities for the trip to New Orleans, including a brand new laptop bag. Of course, I just happened to be passing by the record shop. I was assaulted, forced into the shop and made to buy half a dozen CDs. I did not do this intentionally, but fortunately I was forced to buy some music I like. My plan to save my money is still on track…

I haven’t heard them all yet since I’ve been busy, but I’m working on it.

Here is what I got:

B.B. King One Kind Favor

Click to go to BBK's site with further links to itunes, etc.

I don’t have much of B.B. King’s music but I’ve always like it. He seems like such a natural, easy-going guy, and he is a great musician. Here is a live version (after lots of friendly banter, of the tune that opens One Kind Favor, “See that my grave is kept clean”.

Mark Knopfler Get Lucky

One of my favourite guitar players of all time. I like Dire Straits, especially the first two albums (Brothers in Arms is very good, but I’ve heard the hits from it so many times I can’t bring myself to play it any more), and all of Knopfler’s solo albums I’ve heard have been excellent. There are a few I haven’t got yet. I lost my copy of the Notting Hill Billies Missing and Presumed Having a Good Time, and I can’t find a new copy anywhere.

The Best of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (Millennium Collection).

All sorts of great stuff from way back, for only $7.00. Can’t go wrong! Love the old soul and Motown sound.

J.J.Cale Roll On

Follow the links to Amazon.com, itunes.

I first heard J. J. Cale’s Troubadour in high school and it is still on my top 10 albums. Grasshopper is pretty high on the list, too. I don’t think I have a third of his discography, but I’m working on the works. His recent album with Eric Clapton is highly recommended.

Norah Jones The Fall

This is not really a Slinky Jazz Babe album, it has a lot of a pop sound to it, but it is pretty good. I have four Norah Jones albums and I like them but I don’t listen to them as often as other singers. The album she did with a crew called the Little Willies is a great countryish time. She has a great, mellow voice and she doesn’t over-sing things.  The Fall sounds pretty good, and it was a good price too, considering there is an extra bonus 6 tune live CD called Live at the Living Room included in it. If you are into free, go to National Public Radio and listen to The Fall for free.

Click the pic to NPR and listen.

Madeleine Peyroux Bare Bones


Madeleine Peyroux is one of the first Slinky Jazz Babes that Tommy Gun Annie recommended to me (she hasn’t let me down yet). This her fourth album and was released in March of this year. I now have the whole set. Peyroux also has some CD singles (which I never buy) and appears on some other compilations and what not. One of theme is a great collection in the Putumayo series. The new album is a very melodic mix of reflective, sensitive song with a lot of acoustic guitar, piano and simple arrangements.

Dang! Lets have some music!

Here is Madeleine Peroux with the tune that opens Bare Bones “Instead”.

A Lolcat for Sabio

Here’s one that Sabio should be able to get. I didn’t make it. It was just sort of there.

The Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel and its Contexts: Upcoming Edited Volume

I’ve pleased to have received the page proofs for two articles that will be included in an upcoming edited volume that should be published next year, in time for everyone to buy it at SBL Atlanta next November.

Christoph Levin and Ehud Ben Zvi (eds.)
Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel and its Contexts

(Berlin: Walter De Gruyter)

The volume is the result of fascinated pair of workshops held at the University of Alberta in Edmonton (in Spring 2008) and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (June 2009). If I understand correctly, the two institutions have some kind idea-sharing arrangement that Ehud and Christoph took advantage of to get a bunch of people together and sort through issue of the exile in biblical literature.

Here is the blurb for the workshops, reproduced from the U. of Alberta’s site.

This workshop brings together scholars from the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) and the University of Alberta, along with colleagues from other European and Canadian universities. This workshop is part of a newly founded cooperation between LMU and the UofA and is conceived as the first of two workshops. The second is planned for Munich (2009).

The workshop is meant to explore, from multiple perspectives, the concept of “Exile” in ancient Israel, mainly but exclusively in prophetic literature, including the social and historical setting against which it evolved and in a way that is informed by comparative ancient materials.

The link above also has nice introduction to the biblical idea of “exile” as a product of historical deportations.

I’m not exactly sure if every paper from with two workshops will appear in the volume, but I suspect that all but a few will be.


Hindy Najman (Toronto) Revelation in Exile

Martti Nissinen  (Helsinki) The Exiled Gods of Babylon in Neo-Assyrian Prophecy

Willi Braun  (Alberta) Imagining Exile: Early Christian Uses of a Familiar Concept

Christoph Levin  (LMU) The Empty Land in Kings

Hermann-Josef Stipp (LMU)  The Concept of the Empty Land in the Book of Jeremiah

Ehud Ben Zvi (Alberta) The Voice and Role of a Counterfactual Memory in the Construction of Exile and Return: Considering Jer 40:7-12

James R. Linville (Lethbridge) Myth of the Exilic Return: Myth Theory and the Exile as an Eternal Reality in the Prophets

Jan Christian Gertz (U. of Heidelberg) From a Military Threat to the Concept of Exile in the Book of Amos

Selina Stewart (Alberta) Sive deus, sive dea: Prophecy, ritual and exilic gods from Babylon to Rome

Reinhard Müller (LMU) Images of Exile in the Book of Judge

Francis Landy(Alberta)  Exile in the Book of Isaiah



Ehud Ben Zv (Alberta) Exile in the Book of Chronicles

Eckart Otto (LMU) Deuteronomistic Redactions of the Book of Deuteronomy in the Exilic Period

Jan Christian Gertz (Heidelberg) Does the Primeval History Reflect on the Exile?

Jakob Wöhrle (WestfälischeWilhelms-Universität Münster) The Un-Empty Land. The Concept of Exile and Land in P

Hermann-Josef Stipp (LMU) The Original Function of the Concept of the Empty Land in the Book of Jeremiah

Paul G. Mosca (U. of British Columbia) Job and Second Isaiah: Two Faces of Exile

Juha Pakkala (Helsinki) The Concept of Exile and its Development in the Ezra Tradition

Reinhard Müller (LMU) Exile and the Empty Land in the Holiness Code (Lev. 26)

James Linville (Lethbridge) Playing with Maps of Exile: Displacement, Utopia, and Disjunction

Francis Landy (Edmonton) Reading, Writing, and Exile

Hindy Najman (Toronto) The First and Second Destruction in the Late Ancient Jewish Imagination

Kirsi Valkama (Helsinki) Judah in the Mid-Sixth Century BCE. Archaeological Remains

Christoph Levin (LMU) What do we really know about Jerusalem’s conquest and the exile?


The whole affair was a wonderful experience (both times) and I really enjoyed the time in Germany this summer. I saw a mess of alps, drank a lot of good beer, ate a lot of good food, and met some really good people. There were a lot of great papers and a wide variety of approaches, from source critical, archaeological and historical to Francis’ wonderful musings on poetry, exile and death in Isaiah. I think  mine sort of stood out like sort thumbs. I’m getting used to it…

My 2008 paper, “Myth of the Exilic Return: Myth Theory and the Exile as an Eternal Reality in the Prophets”  was a lot of fun to write. Doing a paper in Edmonton is always great for me since it is where I started my university career under Francis and Ehud. I sort of when back to my general Religious Studies roots and mused on the exile, creation, and competing mythologies of exile and restoration in the shadow of Eliade,  J. Z. Smith and Wendy Doniger. I drew some examples from Genesis, Isaiah, and Amos.

In 2009 I stuck to Isaiah 40-55 and got a little strange. “Playing with Maps of Exile: Displacement, Utopia and Disjunction” returns to J. Z. Smith and looks at Second Isaiah as exploring the disjunctions between attempts to assimilate Cyrus to traditional mythical concepts and the need to reaffirm a ‘locative’ cosmic map for which Cyrus cannot assume the role of founder. For that, Second Isaiah juxtaposes Cyrus with the “Servant”.  Informing this study is a comparison with various cargo-cult phenomena (again taking  a cue from Smith), and finding within in a deep resistance to Persia, even if its imperial ambitions have to be accounted for and assimilated.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,