If Your Thing is Roman Emperors…

Saw this a couple days ago: AWOL – The Ancient World Online: Linked Data about Roman Emperors. The link leads to a description (and further database links) to a truckload of data about Roman emperors.

Every once in a while I feel burdened to give readers real research, not another helping of the latest gobbledy-gook circulating in the cult archaeology world. So here you go.

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Satirical Music Video Targeting Nibiru 2012 Mythology

One of the members of the Boston-based rock band, Metaphor for Everything, sent me the link to a new single, accompanied by a note that the song was inspired by my Zecharia Sitchin site. Apparently the site convince one of the band members to leave the ancient astronaut fold. I got a chuckle out of it; some clever lyrics. I also liked the swipe at Harold Camping in it.

And for those ancient astronaut fundies out there who take that material too seriously, the song is a parody of the Sitchin/Nibiru/2012 hysteria — it’s not a suicide anthem.

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Ancient Aliens and Pseudo-Academics

I invite you all to read Jason Colavito’s short post entitled, “Ancient Aliens and Credential Inflation.” Claiming false credentials is irritating to an academic, like myself (and as those who know me know, I have a healthy disdain for the snobbery of the academy — but I like lying even less). It’s just so disingenuous. The ancient astronaut crowd is infamous for criticizing mainstream scholars (just read the comments section of this blog!), and yet its most visible proponents want to pass themselves off as possessing graduate degrees and other credentials, the baptism of the mainstream. Pure hypocrisy, with intent to manipulate the audience.

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My Favorite Science Fiction Movies

In the wake of my review of the dismal Prometheus (the word still prompts that “I feel a yawn coming on” feeling), a reader asked for my own Top Ten list of favorite science fiction films. Below is a list of more than ten, in no particular order. A few notes are in order: (1) I have excluded super hero films (e.g., The Dark Knight, Avengers, etc.) and fantasy (e.g., Lord of the Rings, Princess Bride), since those aren’t science fiction. (2) inclusion on the list means I have watched them all multiple times — the sort of movie that, if I see it while someone is channel surfing (I rarely watch TV), I’ll feel the urge to make them stop so I can watch at least some of it. (3) I like these movies for different reasons — a clever premise, several great scenes, imagination, that sort of thing. (4) Ancient Aliens isn’t a movie, or that would be on the list. Here they are:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Matrix
Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek (2009)
Alien
Aliens
Star Wars
Empire Strikes Back
Contact
Knowing
Stargate
Super 8
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Jurassic Park
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Independence Day
Gattaca
X-Files: Fight the Future
Predator
The Boys from Brazil

John the Baptist’s Bones Discovered (Again) – But Not in Noah’s Ark

Here we go again.  Thanks for Mark Goodacre for this link describing efforts to date a knuckle to the first century. Wonderful how a first century knuckle be positively linked to John the Baptist? Now you understand the post title. It’s just paleobabble.

My favorite quote from the piece:

Also mentioned is “Dr Hannes Schroeder, who carried out the research”, who is quoted as saying, “Of course, this does not prove that these were the remains of John the Baptist but nor does it refute that theory.”

Translation: “The research we’re doing on this doesn’t tell us or you squat. But the media noticed us.”

Nice.

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The CIA and Noah’s Ark

I wanted to pass on this amusing and interesting post from Jason Colavito as to “evidence” of CIA interest in alternative Noah’s ark discovery theories. I agree with Jason’s take. I’d be interested in any genuine CIA reports on Noah’s ark “sightings” and location theories, but there seems to be a dearth of such.

And the nuclear power in the primeval world stuff always makes me laugh.

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Prometheus: A Colossal Waste of Time

I saw Prometheus last night. Instead of enjoying the drive home with my head filled with appreciation for a provocative, inventive retelling of the ancient astronaut myth, my mind busied itself on how many ways I could mock this under-achieving, unimaginative bore of a film for my PaleoBabble readers. In one sentence: the History Channel produces better science fiction than this movie. Or perhaps: Prometheus: In Space, No One Can Hear You Snore.

It’s honestly difficult to express how poor of an effort I consider this film. It’s kind of like reviewing a Sitchin book:  I can find see problems everywhere, so where to begin?

Let’s start with some generalities. While I was in line I overheard someone who had just seen the movie say, “It was good, but it was no Alien.” I only agree with the second half of that assessment. This was not a good movie. There were no surprises at all; predictability in a sci-fi movie is unforgivable. After all, if you are at liberty to detach yourself from reality and you still manage to be banal, you’re project is a failure. Given the hype, this was an historic entertainment FAIL. Let me go back to this year’s box office mega-implosion John Carter (but not the last Indiana Jones movie — that was criminal; Prometheus was merely inept). Honestly, how can anyone fail to be stimulating in any way when it comes to the ancient astronaut mythology? But that is Prometheus: one groggy, dull ride. Basically the problem is that the movie begins with the core Sitchin / von Daniken nonsense talking point, that humans were created by aliens, and just stops right there. It adds nothing. No development of the idea into a clever meta-narrative. If you already have had the thought that human life was created by aliens planted in your mind (thinking it stupid or not), there’s no need to see the movie. It literally doesn’t take you an inch farther. Just a two-hour reminder of the one basic point that everyone going to the movie already had in their head because of the internet, the Ancient Aliens sitcom, or Coast to Coast AM. A quintessential example of what it means to be uncreative. Sort of like the cinematic antonym to either of the Sherlock Holmes movies.

But the real insult was to the Alien franchise. Was it worse than Alien 3 or 4? Hard to say. Those misguided sequels just enraged viewers or made them say to themselves, “Thanks for destroying the best things about the first two movies.” This one doesn’t ruin anything because it doesn’t convey anything. It’s just an intellectually stultifying bore. The first two Alien movies were great because they were filled with clever surprises and truly edge-of-the-seat suspense. This offering had neither. It didn’t even try to surprise. The film unfailingly tipped viewers off to what (I guess) were supposed to be later revelations (the old gazzillionare was on the ship and the “remind us why this character is in the movie”  played by Charlize Theron is his daughter; one of humanity’s alien creators is still alive on the planet; the cavernous structure the crew discovers is a spaceship; the ship is filled with the alien muck that spawns the killing machine alien in the original film; etc. I don’t consider these plot spoilers, because unless you’re still thinking about the commercials you were forced to watch before the film started, you can’t miss these “plot” elements. They are transparent and completely expected.To give a specific example of how Prometheus does something badly that Alien would have done more more cleverly, the robot (David) plops some of the alien DNA/egg-stuff into the drink of a crew member, knowing that the unfortunate guy will become host to the alien. I say “plop” because there’s actually a loud plopping sound in the film after David pours the drink and leans his finger over the edge of the cup. It sounded like a large ice cube was tossed into the glass. If the moron who took the drink couldn’t hear that like the rest of us, he deserved what he got. Alien would have found a far more sinister and surreptitious way of infecting the guy — and not letting it be known to the viewer until much later. It would have been something you felt in your gut but couldn’t figure out how it was done. The whole movie was like that (Ridley Scott: “The audience needs to understand what happens in the scene after this one, so we’ll drop a breadcrumb the size of a Toyota in their path since we can’t think of an adroit way to keep moving”).

You get the idea. This film has sucked enough of my life away, so the review stops here. I need to move on.

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Promethean PaleoBabble

Hat tip to Jason Colavito for this link to a Salon.com piece on Ridley Scott’s new movie. When you click through, take note of the titling of the URL itself: “dazzling dumb-ass theology.” What a perfect, poetic description of the film and the ideas it conveys. Can’t wait to see it!

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