Monthly Archives: July 2012

TSoA: Chapter 10: Because I Say So

Sorry for the longish break, everyone.  Things have been busy of late.

Not to worry, though: the plot isn’t going anywhere.

AT ALL

It’s time for another Michael Murphy lecture about Noah’s ark!  (When is he going to get around to teaching his actual course?)

The amphitheater was filled and all eyes were on him.  There were nearly one hundred fifty students in his controversial class on biblical archaeology.

Yeah, it’s quite controversial, because he just spouts off on his latest pet project every week, instead of teaching what he is being paid to teach.  C’mon, Evil Dean Fallworth, where are you when we need you???

This week, in his lame lecture about his ark project, Murphy is going to talk about some slightly more modern people who claimed to have seen the ark.

There was an audible buzz of anticipation as Murphy flipped on the first PowerPoint slide.

Sure there was.  It’s Monday morning at a party school.  There wouldn’t be an audible buzz of anticipation even if the lecture topic was “Ten Foolproof Ways to Get Laid Tonight.”

First up, George Hagopian fer reals saw the ark when he was a kid.

He didn’t bring back a piece of it, because it was made of special God Wood and couldn’t be broken.

He couldn’t tell anyone where it was, because he wasn’t good with maps.

YOU GUYS

When I was a kid, I was abducted by aliens.

IT’S TRUE

I was spending the summer with my grandparents, and aliens abducted us one night.

I couldn’t bring back anything from the alien craft, because it was made of special Alien Technology and was impervious to taking.

I’d show you the ship, but it went back to its planet.

What?  You don’t believe me just because I have no evidence whatsoever?  Are you calling me a LIAR?

Next, a couple of Turkish soldiers claimed to have seen the ark in 1916.  Like Hagopian, they kept this little tidbit of information to themselves for decades.

Oh, and in my Google Adventures, I found this awesome chart, which is much better than any of Murphy’s PowerPoint slides.

Next, more soldiers.  Russian, this time.  This story seems like it just might have legs, because a whole expedition was sent, and there were measurements and fracking PHOTOGRAPHS, and it all seems very cool until you learn that all of that data “disappeared” and has never resurfaced because hey, Russian Revolution.

By the way, Murphy quotes part of the Russian soldiers’ tale in which it is stated that “at the door-hole at the side of the ship…the wood was porous and it broke easily.”

Man, if only George Hagopian had found this easily-breakable, apparently not-God Wood part of the ark, eh?

Finally, the tale of Ed Davis, who claimed to have seen the ark in 1943 while working for the Army Corps of Engineers.  Davis’s driver takes him to his village at the base of Mount Ararat, where there is a cave where people have stored ark artifacts in order to “protect” them:

That night, they show me the artifacts.  Oil lamps, clay vats, old-style tools, things like that.

Well, I’m convinced!  After all, old-style tools could never come from anyplace except Noah’s ark, and most certainly would never be shown to some gullible American.

(And no, just in case you’re wondering, Davis didn’t get to bring back any of this old shit so that he could prove his claims.)

Davis and his driver’s family trek onto Mount Ararat for well over a week (I guess Davis declared himself on vacation from his supply-route building duties) and finally they get to see the ark.  No, Davis didn’t think to bring a camera.  No, he didn’t bring back any pieces of the ark or any other artifacts, even though the ark was “broken into three or four big pieces.”  (Remember this last part for later in the book!)

So, that’s it.  Anyone sold on any of these accounts?

Lest his students are not, Murphy gives them an assignment:

“I want you to do a study and see what you can find in history about Noah and the Flood.”

Then he quotes the Bible at them and concludes in his own words:

“Noah’s Ark is a testimony that God will not let wickedness run unrestrained forever.”

Yeah, I can’t imagine that anyone, especially the dean of the department, would ever have a problem with Murphy saying stuff like that in class.

WHERE ARE YOU, EVIL DEAN ARCHER FALLWORTH???

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TSoA: Chapter 9: Nothing to Do with Anything

Shari has something in common with her mentor/secret lover, Michael Murphy: they both think that helping others is good because it keeps them from thinking about their own problems.

That’s a whole psychology paper right there, isn’t it?

So our favorite research assistant is psyched to meet juvenile delinquent Tiffany Baines, though quite surprised to see that Tiffany is a pretty blonde who is just ZOMG TEH CUTEST THING EVAH!!

image

Tiffany also either plays dumb or IS dumb (Shari can’t decide), because she is wearing a Tar Heels sweatshirt, but doesn’t know what the term “tar heels” means.  Shari lectures her on the Civil War variation of the story, as though it is the only one that is obviously correct.  For all I know, it may be, but what’s important about this scene is NOTHING IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING IT DOES NOT DEVELOP PLOT OR CHARACTER OR BUILD THE WORLD ALL IT DOES IS SHOW THAT BOB PHILLIPS KNOWS HOW TO USE THE WIKIPEDIA ON THE INTERTUBES.

Finally they get around to talking about Tiffany’s problems with her father.

Well, the book tells us she does, anyway:

[Tiffany] proceeded to tell Shari about her fights with her father and all the trouble she was getting in from hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Yeah, I’m sure that’s how Tiffany put it: “I’ve been hanging out with the wrong crowd.”  Not that we would know, since Tiffany doesn’t get to talk.

After all, it’s not like her pain is important.  What’s important here (if anything is) is the retcon of Shari’s family history.  And her need to go on and on and on about it when someone else’s problems are supposed to be the topic of discussion:

“My father and I had a lot of confrontations.  It got pretty bad in my senior year of high school.  I threatened to run away from home a number of times.  I even began to experiment with drugs and alcohol.”

Okay, this is so not true.  This is nothing like what we read in Babylon Rising.

I think Shari’s making it all up.  She is a lying liar who LIES.

Let’s check out what was said in the first book:

[Laura (Murphy’s now-dead wife] thought back to the long sessions they’d spent in her office talking about the pain Shari still felt years after her mom and dad had died in a five-car pileup on the interstate, her dad at the wheel with half a pint of Wild Turkey inside him.  How she’d tried to help Shari make sense of it all.  Help her work through the anger she felt toward her dad and try to reconnect with the love that had once been there.  Help her find a way of giving thanks for everything her mother had been and would always be.

Okay, see that?  YEARS.  “Years after her mom and dad had died.”

LOOK GORAMMIT, YOUR PREDECESOR SAID IN THE FIRST BOOK THAT SHARI’S PARENTS DIED YEARS AGO AND NOW YOU’RE ACTING LIKE IT HAPPENED LAST MONTH

ALSO

Shari tells Tiffany that she didn’t become a Christian until her freshman year of college, and that after that happened, she patched things up with her dad (because all relationships are magically healed when you’re a Christian) and they had “a year and a half of great times before he was killed.”

WUT?

“I asked my father for forgiveness for my attitude.  It was wrong.  Even though he had done wrong, I had too.  I apologized for my part.  He began to cry and asked me to forgive him.”

And then, according to Shari, things were peachy keen until some freak accident claimed the lives of her parents, and her father’s drunk driving was apparently TOTALLY NOT INVOLVED.

I just…I don’t get the point of the retcon, since as the story stands, there is no reason for it.  So, the only conclusion I can figure is that Shari is lying to Tiffany to make their stories more similar.

So Shari, SHARI, sits there crying, and effectively guilt-trips Tiffany into heading off to talk to her dad, because one one-sided conversation is all it takes to mend a relationship.

Can I just close by saying that this is an absolutely brilliant strategy on the part of Bob Wagoner?  He had some ministering to do, neatly pawned it off on not just one, but two of his flock, thus freeing his day for the vitally important tasks of stuffing his face with chili fries and playing a few rounds of golf.

What a great pastor.

TSoA: Chapter 8: All the Different Things

Will you listen to this creek, John?  I’ve never noticed what a beautiful melody a creek makes.  Never taken the damn time.  And look at these mountains and these trees.  Hell, look at these green trees.  Come here—I don’t even know the names—we’re going to learn the names of these green trees.

-Roy O’Bannon, Shanghai Noon

Talking about Noah’s ark makes Murphy think about “the incredible diversity of God’s creation—everything that Noah had saved from the Flood.”

Um, that’s nice, I guess, but then he sits by a pond and ruminates on the pretty flowers he sees, and I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible about Noah collecting two of every plant.

Just sayin’.

So, the first part of Chapter 8 is basically Michael Murphy listening to that great old Motown hit, “Look at All the Different…Things.”

After many minutes of reverie, Murphy is interrupted by the annoyance of his students.  Gah!

It was sometimes frustrating when he wanted to just sit and think, but he couldn’t complain if his students were interested enough in his subject to track him down with burning questions.  That was what being a teacher was all about.

Notice how Murphy says “his subject,” which is Noah’s ark, and not “the course,” because what Murphy wants to show his students has nothing to do with getting a degree in archeology.

The small group of students have a good question: How did all the animals in the world fit on the ark?

Murph JUST HAPPENS TO HAVE IN HIS BRIEFCASE a list of all animals ever, grouped like so:

Mammals: 3,700

Birds: 8.600

Reptiles: 6,300

Amphibians: 2,500

Fishes: 20,600

[etcetra, etcetera, and so forth]

Total: 1,072,305

Most of the other arnimals listed are “Worms, etc” and marine invertebrates and things like that, which Murphy correctly points out would be better off in the water than in the ark, although what about the fact that some animals live in salt water and some in fresh…I dunno.

Anyway, he goes on with this long formula comparing the ark to a bunch of train boxcars stacked on top of each other, which I can’t imagine is the best analogy in the world for a bunch of 21st-century kids.  But Murphy kinda has to use it, because it appears that this is the Standard Creationist Ark Math.  (Being Standard Creationist Ark Math is a lot like being Standard Harry Potter Physics.)

For more information, Google a few Standard Ark Math pages, which use EXACTLY the same analogy of train cars.

And most of the animals that did need to live on the ark were small, like mice, cats, birds, and sheep.  If you look at the larger animals like the elephants and giraffes and hippos, they are the exception.

Uh huh.  Murphy got all his biology info from pictures like this, didn’t he?

(Picture from Alcoholics Conspicuous)

“So, we need a duckie family and a froggie family and giraffes and lions and elephants and…that’s it, right?  That’s all the animals we need.”

Oh, but you are forgetting something very important, Professor Murphy:

WHAT ABOUT THE DINOSAURS???

That’s right, Murphy has forgotten that DINOSAURS needed to be housed on the ark, where they could swing their gigantic tails around and destroy everything, or devour Noah and his kids, unless provided with enough SEA TURTLES TO EAT.

I just…am I alone here, people?  They are talking about housing dinosaurs with human beings on a giant floating train and fishing for sea turtles to feed them.  And this is Murphy’s science.  This is what he is teaching his students instead of how to map out a dig site.

So then some student asks where they would get drinking water on the ark.

[Murphy answers]  “You’ve got to remember that most of the Flood consisted of rain water.  With water covering the highest mountains, the salt water of the oceans could have been diluted enough to drink.”

Noah:  Don’t worry about the millions of bodies floating in the water, son!  I’m sure it’s probably fine!”

“They could also have collected rainwater from the roof and stored it in cisterns on the ark.”

Okay, I really hope they went with Option 2.

But to hell with stupid fakey science!  The students also want to know more about Murphy’s mention of Jesus and Noah and Sodom!

Of course they do.

Murphy was glad he’d been given an opening to talk to them about spiritual things.

He was glad that he had tossed out huge sections of his own syllabus so that he could force a discussion of spiritual things.

“When Jesus said, As in the days of Noah, He was referring to the fact that when He comes again in judgment, it will be to a world that is filled with people who do not care about the things of God.  Just like the people didn’t care in Noah’s, or Lot’s days.”

Some of the students seemed a little stunned by what he was saying.

Jesus?  Who’s that???

Murphy smiled.

Ah-HA!  Soon I shall have several more conversion notches on my belt!  Also, talking about widespread death and destruction always makes me smile!

This leads to one of the first (though BY NO MEANS the last) times in the latter three novels of this series that Murphy starts in on one of the things he hates mostest in world: Tolerance.

A student says that most people today think we should accept viewpoints other than our own.

“…tolerance has been twisted today to mean that everyone must accept the other person’s viewpoints without question because truth is relative.”

Really?  I think Michael Murphy would LOVE this blog!!

“That was exactly what was happening in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot.  Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes.”

Those BASTARDS!!!

“And it’s the same today.  Society preaches tolerance of every viewpoint and everyone—with one big exception: those people who have a strong religious faith.  That’s where their double-standard tolerance ends.  Incredibly, people of faith are persecuted precisely because they do believe in absolute truth, in absolute moral values.”

Oh yeah, Murph, Christians in the States are soooo persecuted.  I can see that you have it really rough, what with your churches on every corner and your getting God into the pledge and onto the money and YOUR ABILITY TO TOSS OUT YOUR SYLLABUS AND LECTURE TO YOUR STUDENTS ABOUT YOUR FAITH WHENEVER THE MOOD STRIKES YOU.

I’m sorry, were you talking about hypocrisy, you sanctimonious frakker?  Were you talking about double standards, Mr. Guy Who Thinks Everyone Who Doesn’t Think Just Like You Is Going To Be Tortured Forever???

Ugh.  What was I saying once about Murphy not being quite as bad as Paul Stepola?