I Ride Off Into The Sunset

But, before I do (notice the Notice on the sidebar), I would like you all to know that I (Enopoletus Harding) have been among the foremost supporters of reason in the comments section of the three most recent posts of the raving nutcase Keith Kloor. I would also like to apologize to George Grena for not responding to his comment on my “Mailbag” post. I will respond next year.


2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 22,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Over a third of Aren’s views! A surprise is that GM Grena has posted more comments here than at Dr. Maeir’s blog.

Happy Second Blogoversary!

I would hereby like to announce my second blog-o-versary, which occurs today. My blog has now grown to being the sixth result (fourth non-video and non-image) on the first page for jebel al lawz in Google, the top result for jebel al lawz in bing, and being the top result for against jebel al lawz in both search engines. My blog has received a grand total of 31,234 views, has gained 14 blog followers and one Twitter follower, and has received a grand total of over 115 comments (not counting my comments or any trackbacks).

The top commentators this year are

1. George Michael Grena II (36 comments)

2. Taras skeptic (22 comments)

3. Paul O’ Brien (11 comments)

This blog currently has 454 posts, counting this one.

Ramps/Quarry Roads at the Red Pyramid of Sneferu at Dahshur

After noticing this book mentioned the existence of ramps to the southwest of the first smooth pyramid, I also noticed them mentioned in Martin Isler’s discussion of ramps and pyramids. Thus, I here present satellite pictures of these quarry roads/ramps of Sneferu, which someone should photograph.

The North Pyramid of Dahshur.
The North Pyramid of Dahshur.
The North Pyramid of Dahshur, work camp being outlined in red, quarry roads/ramps in blue.
The North Pyramid of Dahshur, work camp being outlined in red, quarry roads/ramps in blue.

I was surprised that these ramps are so little-noted on web pages dealing with the Pyramids. The features noted here are also noted on page 65 of this book. Ramps were almost certainly used for building smooth pyramids’ lower portions; see this paper, page 132, the southern portion of Khufu’s pyramid being surrounded by gypsum, tafla, and limestone debris, demonstrating the probability a ramp existed on the South side of Khufu’s pyramid. Of course, it is unlikely that a ramp spiraled all around a large pyramid as suggested in the Lehner paper linked to above; control of shape would have been difficult in that situation. Ramps have also been unearthed on two or three sides of the Middle Kingdom Senusret I pyramid complex. Zahi Hawass claims a portion of the great supply ramp of Khufu’s pyramid has been discovered, though I have doubts about whether the remains found really are part of the great supply ramp of Khufu’s pyramid, as the remains found do not quite point in the direction Lehner claims the ramp pointed and appears to be too small to be a part of what must have been a sizable supply ramp.

Christmas is White Here

Probably not so in Redondo Beach, where the good George Grena has done the Herculean task of typing a transcript of Andrew Vaughn’s response to A. R. Millard at the Lanier Theological Library, Grena correctly pointing out that Biblical tradition does (in the view of most relevant scholars, incorrectly) affirm a Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Of course, I left my YouTube comments on the Response video. Grena and I have also had a debate in the YouTube comments of this video.

Creationist Funnies

This link will, for those inclined to pursue the necessary work of counter-apologetics, truly make one’s day. Wood is, of course, right on the chronological facts (see my Chronology page), on which Down is completely wrong (if you are not good at spotting non sequiturs, consult the ABR website, Walter Mattfeld’s debunking of the EB Exodus hypothesis, and Wikipedia), and Down is correct regarding his claim there is no solid evidence to support a 15th C BC Exodus. It also seems that ABR is taking my advice regarding its location of Bethel (or just being lazy), placing Bethel to the WNW (instead of SW) of Ai in this post.

My “Bible Unearthed” page has finally been linked to by someone. Also, to those who have not noticed, I have greatly (but slowly) updated the sidebar links. Click on some of them! I link to websites in the sidebar of this blog for a reason.

December 21 was, among other things, the first day this winter in which real snow fell in the region in which I happen to live. I didn’t particularly enjoy it (putting on an actual coat instead of multiple layers of hoodies and sweatshirts is very much annoying), but Christmas, as says popular opinion, is supposed to be white, thus, the snow did have an upside.

A.R. Millard Solid On Epigraphy

Though there are some ambiguities here (“the Babylonians invented writing”) and a dollop of Albrightian maximalism (I am amazed at Millard’s cognitive dissonance), Millard is solid on epigraphy in this video. I agree with most of his points, including those on Qeiyafa. I have discussed Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, its probable status as a caravansary, and its early-mid 8th C BC date in the below video.

Grand Genesis 10 Map

Genesis 10's Table of Nations
-Yes, I know some names are missing and at least a couple of my identifications (esp. Seba and Togarmah) are questionable. For questions about identifications of specific names in Genesis 10, search the blog archives. Notice that the nation-names are almost entirely clustered in a region from 24° E to 50° E. This is very much inconsistent with any Persian or Hellenistic-era date proposal for the composition of Genesis 10. I find it most plausible that Genesis 10 was composed between c. 550 and 750 BC, preferably in the days of King Josiah or early during the Exile. Notice Genesis 10’s inclusion of Canaan (and Hatti!) in the Hamitic group. Apparently, the author of Genesis 10 viewed ‘Semites’ as being cuneiform-using nations and some South Semites.

A Few Remarks On the Roles of Race, Sex, and Ethnicity in the Skeptic Movement

This shall be a quote-by-quote set of remarks. Most quotes come from this post.

You know what? That is a great big hairy naked sexist remark. It’s a plain assumption that men are intrinsically better suited to leading skepticism and atheism. You can’t get much plainer than “It’s more of a guy thing.”

-Agreed. Though Shermer’s statement is true in a sense, calling attention to arbitrary differences in the composition of individuals known to be intellectually active in the Skeptic movement and the fact Shermer is, himself, a ‘guy’, makes his statement look like a piece of self-backslapping, and as meaning to cause deliberate offense against all non-male Skeptics. He should have added a “the above remark should not be construed to mean that I claimed the very condition of being non-male causes one to have a lower likelihood of being intellectually active in the Skeptic movement-intellectual activity in the Skeptic movement is almost certainly wholly dependent variables other than sex”.

A good response would have been to admit that he’d made an unthinking, stupid remark and that he’d like to retract it. But that’s not what he does. Instead, he argues that he really does think the split in participation is 50/50, and points to TAM as having roughly equal numbers of men and women speaking.

-Or at least, explain the remark so as to make sure it did not mean sex alone determines one’s level of intellectual activity in the Skeptic movement.

Oh. So I guess it’s not a guy thing, and you were wrong, Michael. It might have been cleverer of you to just say, “I was wrong, I made a sexist remark, the evidence shows that it’s not a guy thing.” A column in which he recognized his own sexism and talked about conscious efforts to improve would have been a good and respectful step forward.

-I agree with the above quote.

Shrugging your shoulders and saying that there is nothing wrong with our values being different than those of the black community, or the Hispanic community, or those of women is an open admission that you aren’t working under the banner of Secularism, but under the banner of White Man’s Secularism.

-The ‘black community’, being based on an arbitrary characteristic (whatever ‘race’ happens to be) should not exist, though it apparently does (see the exit polls). Ethnicity (‘Hispanic community’) should play a role where it is useful (in the United States, this would be southwesternmost Texas, S. Florida, California, NM, and parts of Colorado and Washington State) to the spread of Skepticism. PZ’s apparent implication that ethnicity or race determines values is bizarre and preposterous. There is no ‘White Man’s Skepticism-such a thing almost self-evidently does not, and, as long as the white population remains above ten thousand or so, cannot, exist. I agree with Michael Shermer’s assertion that

Given this tribal propensity in human nature to divide people into In-Group/Out-Group and Us v. Them cohorts, we would be wise to not let our various affiliated movements (skeptical, atheist, humanist) be rent asunder. As Ben Franklin admonished his fellow freedom fighters, “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” There is still very real discrimination to be combatted in our society, with gays and atheists as two of the last minority groups to be targeted.

As ‘race’ is one of the most arbitrary of arbitrary characteristics, it makes sense there should be no such thing as ‘White Skepticism” or “Black Skepticism” or “Western North American skepticism” or “South American skepticism”-ideas should stand on their own.

You are making an implicitly sexist/racist remark when you blandly insist that what ought to be a truly catholic movement to improve humanity is just fine if it somehow fails to engage the concerns of non-white non-male people as much as it does us.

Every one of us has preconceptions about people made on the basis of sex and race. You don’t progress by pretending that stereotypes and perception don’t shape how we judge people.

These are implicit biases in our views. This is racism, classism, sexism.

-Accepting correlations between race/ethnicity and certain behaviors does not equate to accepting that race as an independent variable has a causative role in certain behaviors. I define only the latter as racism. A truly catholic movement should not determine niches in its research on the basis of race, and should strongly limit specialization in its research on the basis of sex.

I could go on at length about Shermer’s other complaint: that the “invectosphere” called him names. He doesn’t get to complain about that at all with respect to Ophelia, who has been under a ferocious invective assault for the last few years; that he complains about being called a “jackass” is pathetic and feeble when you compare it to the non-stop abuse Ophelia, Jen, Greta, Rebecca, and just about every woman participant in this argument gets flooded with online.

-I call tu quoque fallacy.

There is nothing inherently bigoted, racist, or misogynistic in the fact that the demographics of the secular community do not reflect those of the general population (in gender, in age and socio-economic class, or in height, weight, or any number of other variables for that matter), so short of some other evidence of bigotry, racism, and misogyny, there is no need to go in search of demons to exorcise.

-I strongly agree with Shermer on this one.