Sex and Sexism in Ancient Rome (Columbus, Ohio)

Photograph of an ancient 79 AD painting recovered from a brothel in Pompeii, which had visual menus on the wall for ordering services, this one depicts a bisexual MMF, a man having sex with a man having sex with a woman in doggystyle position on the courtesan's bed..In two weeks I’ll be speaking in Columbus, Ohio. On what you ask? Sex and Sexism in Ancient Rome: Crossroads of Sexual Freedom & State Oppression. Co-hosted by PolyColumbus and the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. This will be Tuesday, July 14 (2015), at 7pm until 9pm EDT. Location: Kafe Kerouac (2250 N High, Columbus, Ohio 43202). It will be both naughty & entertaining and illuminating & disturbing (when you realize what life was really like back then for the would-be sexually liberated). With Q&A. But probably no visuals (so the talk can be posted to the internet without incident, copyright or otherwise).

Description… [Read more…]

Back in Manteca Next Month!

Logo for Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers, with a picture of Richard Carrier, and the word Colloquium, all against a blue-purple graphical background.Last year in I spoke on Proving History. Now I’m back to cover the second half of the story: On the Historicity of Jesus. I’ll survey some key details of ancient history and outline the theory defended in the book. There will also be a preshow dinner, and I’ll be attending, for those interested.

All the details here. In brief… [Read more…]

Did No One Know Blue in Ancient Rome?

So, apparently “No One Could See the Color Blue Until Modern Times.” I have it on the high authority of the Princeton Archae…er, I mean, the science section of the Business Insider. So its totes true.

Hm. This is the weirdest thing I’ve seen yet. Someone asked me (understandably, me being a guy with a Ph.D. in this stuff), “Is this true!?” Right away I thought…Iiiiiiiii doubt it.

Picture of the Ishtar Gate, an enornous ancient monument literally covered blue with lapis lazuli. Erected in the 6th century BC in Babylon, it survives intact to this day, in the Berlin Museum. [Read more…]

A Primer on Fourth Wave Feminism

Photo from whoneedsfeminism.tumblr.com, showing a young attractive Asian girl standing before her wall of feminine art and holding up a handwritten sign that says I need feminism because society teaches us don't get raped rather than don't rape.Peter Boghossian often claims feminists today don’t care about the third world. That’s bullshit. In fact, almost everything he ever says about feminism today is bullshit. This article is a corrective. It’s time to clean the Augean stables.

Feminism is often badly understood by people who don’t study it well or don’t read widely among contemporary feminist authors. This is because the feminism culturally communicated to people is largely a mythical creation of feminism’s enemies, rather than what is really going on among feminists themselves. Much as the atheism communicated culturally to a large percentage of people (in the US, maybe as much as half the population) is largely a mythical creation of Christians, rather than what is really going on among atheists themselves. Jews and people of color face similar obstacles to understanding, as what “other people” know about them is often the promulgated stereotypes of racists and anti-semites, rather than reality. And when people just repeat what they’ve absorbed from their culture, they often have no idea how inaccurate that cultural knowledge is.

That’s why it’s important to check.

Cultural knowledge is often wrong. Religion itself, for example, is the most prominent example of cultural knowledge. That’s why Christian apologists struggle so hard to fabricate and disseminate false claims about history (from faked quotes of the Founding Fathers to a fictional history of science). For an analogy, comedian David Cross once joked about his experience with “cultural knowledge” of Jews in the South as a young man… [Read more…]

See Me Discuss Ancient Science & Technology at Chabot Space & Science Center!

Photo of the outdoor concrete sign for the Chabot Space & Science Center, which announces it operates in association with the Smithsonian institution.Wednesday this April 15 (2015) at 7pm at Chabot SSC in Oakland (CA) I’ll be delivering a lecture on my favorite topic: How far did the Roman Empire get in science and technology? What, if anything, was still holding them back? What’s the real reason they didn’t experience a scientific or industrial revolution?

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My Online Course on the Bible Starts Tomorrow. Join in. Learn Cool Stuff!

How screwed up are the manuscripts of the New Testament? What aren’t Christian preachers and apologists telling the public? How can you know when they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes about what’s in the Bible…or if they even know they are reporting the facts correctly?

How can you tell which Bible translation is the most honest for any given passage?

How have books been transmitted to us from the ancient world two thousand years ago? Is their text reliable enough to trust? Why? Or why not?

Do the Gospels really disagree on when Jesus was born? Do modern Bibles really contain known forgeries? Has the Gospel of Mark been doctored after the fact?

Answers to those questions, and more, will be covered in this course.

But what questions do you have about the New Testament? Like about its formation and transmission, its survival and accuracy, how it’s translated, what Christians claim about what it says. Or any question in the subject of New Testament studies, or the study of Greco-Roman texts generally.

This is your chance to ask an expert and get as full a response as you want, with as much follow up as you want, within the month of February. So join this class and take advantage of it!

Only one course text is required (and you can get it on kindle): my anthology Hitler Homer Bible Christ.

See you there!

Join My New Course This February: Intro to Biblical Scholarship on the New Testament

Starting February 1 (2015) I will be teaching an online course, Introduction to Biblical Scholarship on the New Testament. Click that to register.

The required course text (which students should purchase as soon as possible) is my personal anthology Hitler Homer Bible Christ (available there in print or kindle). We will use its contents as springboards for learning and discussing all manner of issues related to textual, historical, and literary analysis in New Testament studies. All other course materials (articles and/or video lectures) will be provided for free, including research papers by various scholars we’ll discuss, and excerpts from critical scholarly editions of the Bible in the original Greek (and no prior knowledge of Greek will be required), public online tools, and other readings and resources. And that’s not all…

Official Course Description:

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Why I Don’t Always Trust Israel

Does Israel resort to war crimes, and then lie about it, to gain its ends? It has in the past. Which is why I have a hard time believing Israel’s claims now that it isn’t targeting schools and hospitals, which are UN-observed civilian refugee sites. That would be a clear and horrific war crime under international law and the Geneva conventions. I also have a hard time believing what they also in the same breath say (see previous link), that they actually are targeting those sites because they are storing rockets for Hamas. (Yes, those two claims directly contradict each other; yes, it’s absurd to think sites observed by UN personnel are storing rockets–in fact, they clear any rockets found at sites set up as refugee centers).

To get up to speed on this, read this and this and this.

Hamas, of course, is evil and insane, if ever those words had meaning. They lie and kill all the time, in vile ways and without any rational sense. They also try to manipulate the public with false claims. But this isn’t a claim coming from Hamas.

There is a difference between responding justly with necessary force to legitimate terror and danger, and using that legitimacy as cover for trying to get away with evils even greater than those achieved by the enemy you are answering. Because of the Christian Armageddon Lobby, Israel does get away with quite a lot, and getting a free pass is a form of power, and power corrupts. If Israel is beyond all criticism, then it can slip in any evil and play the same get-out-of-jail-free card. If they are allowed to get away with anything, then they will in the end do anything. (So do we. Consider Tuskegee.)

Why am I doubtful that Israel is telling the truth this time? Because neutral observers confirm it. And Israel has done this before. In the most appalling way. And I want to share with you the example I mean. You can’t understand the world without it.

As a historian, I wonder at all the things people don’t know about our own history, and yet history repeats itself when we don’t. So let me recount something you probably have never heard about. It will sicken you. Especially the most patriotic, ra-ra, pro-military folk among you. Yes, especially you. [Read more…]