Noah’s Ark was Round

A 4,000 year old cuneiform from Iraq confirms there was a flood and a person who saved animals.

The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark.

But there is one apparently major difference: The ark in this version is round.

Round? Ever try to going in one direction in a round boat, even with an oar-rudder. I guess they just needed to bob a round for awhile. Round boats for rivers. Oblong boats for lakes, oceans and planetary floods.

More crazy…

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).

What? Anyone who has read  literature from the med-mideast whether Greek, Roman, Sanskrit, knows of the many flood stories and flood issues. With the mideast as the great birth of vast canal systems and annual flooding it would be impossible not to have stories of flooding–and death and drowning  by flooding. Especially out of Egypt with the vast Nile overflowing every year and a super flood every few decades. Anyone who has camped in an area where remote rains can cause flooding far from signs of rain has probably been warned of flash floods that arrive without notice–don’t camp by the creek! Must be god(s).

The Bible presents a standard boat shape  long and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side.

The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof.

So close. Must be true. But aren’t the Irish the masters of the round boat? Mesopotamians must have taken that technology North when the boat landed. Those Israelites were talking about Mediterranean boats! How did they get it right for water but wrong for story?

The Mesopotamian versions tell us that the Flood came because humans were too noisy for the gods; the biblical account says it was because violence had spread over the Earth.

I think the Mesopotamian version has more salience for me. These early city-states, foul, dirty, loud, and overcrowded, would have driven most of us to the country but for the rich and aristocratic land owners. The average city person was probably dieing for a clean and quiet place–hence courtyards, penthouses, and gates, lots of gates.

The two-by-two shows how this is all city-talk fantasy. What animal farmer, what breeder, what goat herder would think just one of either gender would do the trick? Sex doesn’t always work like a key in a door lock. Animals get sick, have bad days, and some seem oddly uninterested in sex or have to do it in weird special ways under just the right conditions. Some prefer harems and others just like their own kind but for a few procreative trysts.

Of course there are more differences and inconsistencies within the biblical version, even to its own accounts, but I’m sure not only will Noah remain as God’s laborer but Global Warming is god’s preparation for the next flood. As I understand it now, violence is so ubiquitous that a flood is due. Maybe the Dude himself will reappear and man a boat to safe passage.

Jim n


Shiver Your Way to Weight Loss

It’s winter! It’s cold. Can’t exercise, no time, no money for shoes or the gym. Shiver your way to thin!

Research shows that when people are cold and they shiver, they release the hormone irisin from their muscles and the hormone FGF21 from their brown fat stores. These same hormones are released during moderate levels of exercise…

Brown fat is a kind of fat that produces heat and, as opposed to white fat, burns calories instead of storing them…

Researchers saw that the more the person shivered, the more irisin the body released. About 10 to 15 minutes of shivering released the same amount of irisin as riding a bike at a moderate pace for an hour.

Instead of driving to the gym and using that indoor bike for an hour, just turn off the heat in the car and go to the grocery or video store. Get another dose of shivering on the way home. Better yet, roll down that window!  Let that bracing air surge through your hair. Get some nice Eau de cologne to spray on your skin for that special glow that shows everyone you are healthy, getting thin.

Aaaah, the many pleasant memories I have of motorcycling through a month of an intermountain winter when I couldn’t get my car fixed. Aaah, those delightful times of shivering before I slept when I lived in an even colder house–it once got to a delightful 10 below zero in the bedroom. Aaah, those achingly beautiful waits for the bus when I could do several shivering cycles before losing the best cold to the warmth of the bus.

I can see it now. Starbucks with their notorious waits could have two lines, those who need to be somewhere and those who can hang and shiver while they wait–build cold tunnels up to the protected cash register. Don’t forget Iced coffee is best, without the sugar!

Companies could save on heating costs while employees lost weight. Parts of buildings could be kept cold for shivering breaks. Thermal heat pumps could cycle the outside cold air to anywhere.

Turn your thermostat down. Shivering through meals gives the most disparate family something to talk about. I bet there’ll be someone who thinks shivering for health is crazy. Pretty hurts dude and your female partner is suffering more. Be sympathetic!

Beginners shouldn’t start with full on immersion. Try just being cold for the first 5 minutes, then go on to 7 minutes and so forth. Finally you can get to the exquisite full on 20-minute shiver, that body-aching rattle that will challenge your willpower like no other.

But you didn’t need to shiver hard to get the benefits. This is a scaled program. Almost shivering has almost as good in effect. Zen shivering denies the cold by emphasizing to not hold the cold. Let the cold flow through you neither ignoring nor embracing, merely not paying attention but to silence. Yes, yes, ignoring the cold makes you colder and thus thinner. The true master will not need any cold and can shiver at will. Pentecostals don’t do this while speaking in tongues. You may give the wrong impression.

Be careful! Lowering your core temp without shivering can have startling effects. Always shiver with a friend to notice when you’re blue, stiff, and comatose  but still not shivering–so exquisite is your mind control.

You can shiver anywhere it’s even just a little cold–the tropics, the desert. In the tropics get a sunburn, wait till night fall, take a cool dip in the water and then find the nearest breeze. It’s an awesome feeling–freezing in 65-70 or more degrees, I tell you. Windsurfing without the wet suit. Who knows maybe they’ll find an additive effect with exercise. Otherwise, no need to move–that just warms you up, countering the thermogenic effects.

Far better to sit, eat, and hang out cold. Positivists and NLP dudes remember to visualize the hormone Irisin converting the nasty white fat to beautiful brown fat. See the biological and chemical changes happening. The icy cold is firing the furnaces of your fat stores, 300 calories per 50 gms. Straight conversion. No worries about good calories or bad, just raw fuel.

It’s understandable if you need some support and I am here to help. For a small fee you are welcome to join me in this vast antebellum, stone, brick, slate, and plaster house where it’s always cold as winter. I can show you the cold spots and we’ll have you shivering with the best in a week (this offer void to Alaskans, Canadians, and Russians from any part of Russia requiring train travel.)

Jim n

Vatican Pope Still Hasn’t Cleaned House

While we’re all loving the new pope, only on TV do we want our enemies to be mean and nasty, the Vatican, the pope, has done nothing  on pedophilia. Like rats in the floors he hopes they will go away when it’s spring?

In a scathing report that thrilled victims and stunned the Vatican, the United Nations committee said the Holy See maintained a “code of silence” that enabled priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children worldwide over decades with impunity.

What about those priests that were moved around, where are they now?

Among other things, the panel called on the Vatican to immediately remove all priests known or suspected to be child molesters, open its archives on abusers and the bishops who covered up for them, and turn the abuse cases over to law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.

In the US anyone who witnesses child abuse must report it to the police or commits a crime. It is so difficult to unearth child abuse and here we have a ton of it and no one is getting arrested? WTF! Arrest them all and sort out the details later.

“…the Vatican has yet to sanction any bishop for having covered up for an abusive priest, even though more than a decade has passed since the scandal exploded in the U.S. and countless law enforcement investigations around the world made it clear the role bishops played…

“This report gives hope to the hundreds of thousands of deeply wounded and still suffering clergy sex abuse victims across the world,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the main U.S. victims group, SNAP.

While the pope is babbling about the poor and wanton materialism, while supporting what causes poverty, he is low on accountability. Is he so busy being  a cute puppy pope he can’t tend the homestead? We are talking about hundreds of thousands.

I read in the news a woman who had consensual sex (??) with a student who will never teach again. I read of  a woman who was in a porn film who will never teach again. In this extreme environment of accountability and puritan values the vatican and pope are allowed so much more grace? Why would they allow the bastard into the states? If Joe BagoDonuts can go to jail for smoking a joint or rushing a security line, the rapes of thousands deserves so much more.

He could instantly insist that abusive priests be reported, suspended, and tried. Given to proper authorities. The vatican demands to be taken as an independent authority above all civil laws? The pope is really the most important person on earth, legally, such that he can suspend justice and place the priest class above all other people?

The pope may hand wave away concern that he is personally nice but he carries no real clout, whining that the vatican really isn’t responsible for its priests but they will do what they can as time and courts allow. This just continues the bullshit that religious professionals are too special to treat as common criminals. If we can impeach a president over lying about a blow job, we can fire a pope, dismantle the company, for hiding child abuse?

They say the banks are above the laws, too big to fail, but they were inspired by the Vatican. Let’s hope the pope gets some teeth and starts to act like a moral person rather than passing the buck by saying who am I to judge–isn’t that his job as leader of the church of morality, the most important aspect of religion for most people. He’s like the sheriff who says he’s not a judge but knows damned well what the laws are and how the trial should go.

As if the pope doesn’t know what is immoral in the church, here and now, with him as leader and most responsible.

Jim n

Ken Ham and Beer

I recommend Ham on Nye with Beer. The only possible way to engage in the recent debate is to start early in the morning with beer and all other substances allowed, available, or at hand. After five days of self-loathing I decided to crack a couple for breakfast and watch all 2 hrs and 45 minutes.  Usually, I like debates but this specific topic left me nauseous, not wanting to see modern humans humiliating themselves with inane arguments.

Startling in its complacency and civility, should I say social morbidity, I was left less revolted than I expected but nevertheless quite terrified. It is difficult for me in my wildest imagination to believe a 6,000 year old Earth can be taken seriously by anyone. In a normal world this would be suspicion for sanity having lost a firm grip on reality. After Ham one understands…denying man landing on the moon, the previous inhabitation of the planet was by aliens, the Earth is really flat, or Deepak Chopra claiming his Deep meditation caused a seismic earth quake–all seem more plausibly sincere. We can imagine anything!

Usually, crazy people have a harmless outlet. They become the Forest Gumps, the Chances (Being There), the common idiot-wise person from whom we learn acceptance and insight from low sight. Sometimes simple cuts through the noise. But these are exceptions. Without doubt it is better to be well educated, well trained, and accurate in observation. I want to go to Australia and demand accountability from Ham’s teachers!

Listening to Ken Ham I am left amuck that he thinks 6,000 years is a lynchpin in his creation model and the cornerstone of the bible. Ken is paradigmatic of the failure of education. How is it possible to be educated today and think the world is 6,000 years old? It is such a deep disconnect that I cannot help but wonder if it is not mendacious. The kind of mind-boggling stupidity that allows other to feel good about themselves because after all there is at least one person out there who is way more stupid, and yet who can speak a coherent sentence. Yet, I have sat with others and been told that the chair I am sitting on doesn’t really exist. I have also been told that I can do anything including be president of the United States. I have been told that I am actually a Native American or a Woman in a white western dude’s body.

All Catholics and the vast majority of other Christians long ago realized the Earth was more than 6,000 years old. Nye’s arguments of geology were repeated almost daily in the news way back in the 1800′s when geology was exploding as a field and our geounderstanding of the Earth was growing by orders of magnitude.

There are probably better examples of this debate in the records of the various museum and science institutes of the Victorian era–or the literature and public debates that arose from the Scopes trial.

The difference between inductive and deductive logic seems to elude Ham who espouses two types of science. What we see now and what we can’t see in the past. This is effectually a kind of radical empiricism where unless you sense it it doesn’t exist. So I suppose as history rolls along suddenly our knowledge of the past switches dramatically. In particular the time warp and the matter warp. But an all powerful god can do anything, right, even speed up eons to be days? We could all be in the Matrix too? Were you there? The problem is Ham is stuck in early science fiction while the rest of us kept reading and watching.

Ham continued on with the “two sciences” which has become prevalent and spent no time (the popular were you there? argument) on the design aspect making  a lot of Christians angry as they see that as the main proof that some design must have occurred. An intellectual wedge that allows them to continue with if there is design it must be this designer and this bible. What about the other mythologies of creation? It would have been good to have a panel with maybe a Native American and a Hindi and a Buddhist to better circumscribe the mythology of creation.

Yet, the bible is mostly inference with very few statements that are said to be the literal word of god. While Ham does speak about how some parts of the bible are poetic, parables, historic, etc Nye doesn’t know enough to actually pin point those parts of the bible and how they relate to a creation myth. Indeed why does Ham not follow the some 600 laws Jews follow. Because he discounts the old testament where useful. God says not to eat Pork but that doesn’t count as something that must be followed?

Nye counters that Ham belongs to a very small group of people. Perhaps, young-earth creationists are the smallest of all sects. The Genesis museum is going broke and expansion to save it costs money and may not work. Ham could be out of a job soon and the debate may rustle up enough money to keep him and the museum going.

What’s important socially to the public is the spectacle. If science and reason are so effective, why can’t it cut through this insane BS? Where is the effectiveness of the rhetoric in science?

I don’t agree that debates further entrench people’s views and no one changes their minds. They do in many ways. Just not in that “aha, you must be right, thanks for telling me” kind of way. It doesn’t take a radical view to get how opinions become cement that needs to be chipped away, because dynamite is both illegal and destroys the speaker(s). Idiocy this deep takes time.

What scientists don’t get is how to debate. Most scientists didn’t take humanities and arts classes where the rules of social engagement and even professional proof are different. Bill Nye and others are changing this but it’s really anathema for scientists to abandon plain spoken evidence and talk about argument, structure, and aesthetics of conversation. They hate that looking good, speaking trivialities, and being casually social has more effect than the content of the words, the evidence at hand. Nye tries it with a few jokes and allegories (the bow tie story) but it’s not a comfortable style for him and he has to warm up to the debate.

At one point I was reminded of how children arrive at either a disbelief of Santa or not. How does Santa get down the chimney, make so many gifts, and travel the world in a night? You can either respond with I don’t know, magically, or shut it all down with it’s a myth. Most people can’t stand to throw to all out.

In strong favor of the debate, a friend for the first time in years listened to a secular-oriented program. In trying to talk about this touchy subject to a religiously accommodating friend it became clear that she agreed it was an issue of religion itself and not the institution of religion.

My daughter who loves Bill Nye is finally getting that the argument between religious and nonreligious people is not politically trivial. Up to now, age 13, my daughter has tried to allow everything. Everything and everyone is correct. Part of what Carl Rogers called unconditional positive regard–always praise what’s good and ignore what’s negative. It hasn’t worked work well in therapy–though it is an antidote for  hypercritical people seeking balance in anger management–and it hasn’t worked in science.

Some commentors noted the appeal to authority is really the lynch pin of religion. Scientists should not let this pass as being support of their egalitarianism. The astounding and absolute authority of scientists to the scientific process is no less absolute than asserting the bible is the final authority. What is being confounded is the changing aspect of truth and wisdom as we learn more versus the process scientists insist we must use period. It is not that reality is changing it’s our understanding of it. Cutting open a body to see what’s inside may change the view of what a body is (it’s got organs and tissues and other cool stuff, not solid) but it doesn’t change the body. It certainly doesn’t change the insistence that a body be cut open to know.

Biblical absolutists change their authority. How many different bibles are there? How many different sects? How many different versions of a story? What is different here is hero worship. Religions enshrine animals, people, and gods as being the special delivery of magical truth. Science enshrines a process of observation, verification, and consensus. Both change their minds. The bible is full of people and a god that changes his mind just as science seems to change its mind as discovery progresses.

The conflation of science and religion in enlightenment scientists is more easy once you realize they saw science as evidence of eternal truths which were godly. They saw no disagreement with religion and science to the point of discounting religion, yet. They blamed a pope, a preacher or a church, and not the veracity of their work. God was directly accessible and if he was puzzling so be it.

Now that the evidence so strongly disagrees with  particular creation myths the compartmentalization becomes a caricature. It used to be that being holy consumed every aspect of one’s life–you can’t so easily tease apart science from myth in forager societies.

The two times Ham insisted that people just need to let God’s word reveal itself to them and they would know, Ham looked beatific, happy, fulfilled. That was the argument right there. You don’t sell the steak you sell the sizzle.  Be like him and you can be as happy. This closure of dissonance must be nourishing. There are no contradictions, all is for the best, and it’s all about us.

Jim n

Pussy Riot, Hello Kitty Activism?

The reception of exPussy Riot members  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina after their release from jail has been the most bizarre event. First, it seems much of the public thought they were musicians and not political activists or performance art activists. Since they are both attractive women who embrace western cosmetics they have been treated like activists-lite or since they have been called girls, sexual, and such, Hello Kitty activists. Tolokonnikova was a philosophy major with work in theater and performance art.

Pussy Riot a radical feminist, separatist, anti capitalist, anarchist group is sufficiently strident that if two male members had rushed the church, been jailed, and released the public and news would have displayed them  differently. Masha Geeson contextualizes  them within prison activism.

Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, by Masha Geesen, is an instant classic, destined to take its place with Solzhenitsyn’s writings about the Gulag, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, and Jacobo Timerman’s Prisoner Without A Name, Cell Without A Number.

The most ludicrous moment in the book, however, occurs not in Russia but in the West, when musicians like Sting and Paul McCartney bestirred themselves for the few seconds it took them, or more likely their personal assistants, to tweet their disdain for Russia’s behavior.

How great the courage gap between Pussy Riot on the one hand and the fat and happy rockers who tweeted their moral outrage and then went back to their delightful lives.

The sexualization of  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina is wildly entertaining. What activist wouldn’t get thrills on multiple levels yet be dismayed. Do they need to growl and spit to look scary and real?

Tolokonnikova: Well, if I am a sex symbol, it’s certainly not in the classic sense. I’m opposed to the traditional image of a woman’s role. But if someone finds our Spartan and combative performances sexy, like the one in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, that’s just the way it is. No one can claim that our protest in the church coincides with the classic image of women.

SPIEGEL: You make a point of looking good. Even in the Plexiglas cage in the courtroom, you were always wearing makeup.

Tolokonnikova: So? Men should also pay attention to their appearance and occasionally use cosmetics. I support equality. Everyone should feel free to live out the parts of their personality that correspond to the classic male or female image.

Tolokonnikova protested in a church over religion but she is not an overt atheist.

SPIEGEL: Do you believe in God?

Tolokonnikova: I believe in fate. And in the depths of my soul, I am an Orthodox Christian. I think the New Testament is especially important. What Jesus and his disciples preached and did was a great thing.

They were protesting the collusion of church and state.

At the time, I was determined to do something against the alliance between the Kremlin and the church, and in our opinion the Cathedral of Christ the Savior seemed to be the best place for that.

Imagine a legal trial where you can’t mention a name.

Yet during the trial all mention of Putin was suppressed, making it clear whose name was really not to be taken in vain.

Colbert has the only decent interviews (part 1 & part 2 on Hulu) so far. It’s a better Colbert interview–he met his match.

Jim n

What’s a Selfie in East Baltimore?

Whether “selflies” are indulgent or the modern portrait is too distant in “Too Poor for Pop Culture” where D. Watkins shows money is access to popular culture. As the middle-class swoops down to new depths be prepared to return to radio, dumb phones, crap comfort food, and disinformation. You won’t know what you’re missing.

“A yo, Michelle was gonna beat on Barack for taking dat selfie with dat chick at the Mandela wake! Whateva da fuk a selfie is! What’s a selfie, some type of bailout?” yelled Dontay from the kitchen, dumping Utz chips into a cracked flowery bowl. I was placing cubes into all of our cups and equally distributing the vodka like, “Some for you and some for you …”

“What the fuck is a selfie?” said Miss Sheryl.

“When a stupid person with a smartphone flicks themselves and looks at it,” I said to the room. She replied with a raised eyebrow, “Oh?”

It’s amazing how the news seems so instant to most from my generation with our iPhones, Wi-Fi, tablets and iPads, but actually it isn’t. The idea of information being class-based as well became evident to me when I watched my friends talk about a weeks-old story as if it happened yesterday.

Money make the difference between participating in popular culture or not.

Dontay cleans nonstop. Roaches sleeping in the fridge, roaches relay racing out of the cabinets carrying cereal boxes, purchasing homes, building families, slipping through cracks for fun and weaving in and out of death — Dontay bleaches them all. Dontay doesn’t take handouts from us and won’t go on government assistance. He couldn’t contribute to the chips and vodka that week so he’s cleaned for Miss Sheryl and would clean for Miss Sheryl even if there were no chips and vodka.

“Chips and Vodka” Everybody just trying to get away. Better chips and vodka than a smartphone or iPad. If you wonder why…

Eventually the mass death of my close friends caused me to leave the drug game in search of a better life. Ten-plus years and three college degrees later, I’m back where I started, just like my card-playing friends: too poor to participate in pop culture. Too poor to give a fuck about a selfie or what Kanye said or Beyoncé’s new album and the 17 videos it came with.

I bought Beyonce for the sake of research and it weirdly rocked me for several days of indoor food preservation work while dealing with cold weather and holidays. First time I have bought an album within a week of its release–just hit “Buy” in iTunes. I didn’t even write about it, yet. That album is three days of chips and vodka. Listening to “Drunkin Love” or “Flawless”  doesn’t do the same thing

You can’t even comment on your own existence much less hear of others when chips and vodka poor. Urban Amish. Urban neoluddites  unable to break apart the machines taking their jobs away–or know what the hell a luddite is. I’ll send them a selfie of one.

Jim n