Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ancient Roman Ruins Discovered in Jewish Capital

Roman temple ruins from the 2nd century A.D. have emerged from excavations at the ancient Jewish capital of the Galilee in Israel.

The discovery shows that the city of Zippori housed a significant pagan population which built a temple in the city center during the Roman period. The central location of the temple lies within a walled courtyard, and may help archaeologists better understand the urban layout of Zippori in the Roman era.

A church from the later Byzantine period sits on top of the ancient temple, as revealed by the Noam Shudofsky Zippori Expedition headed by Zeev Weiss of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The building of the church on the foundation of the temple testifies to the preservation of the sacred section of the city over time. The new finding not only sheds light the religious life, culture and society in Roman and Byzantine Zippori, but also indicates that Jews, pagans and later Christians lived together and developed their hometown with various buildings.

The newly discovered temple is located south of the decumanus, or colonnaded street, that ran from east to west and was the main thoroughfare in the city during the Roman through Byzantine period. The temple, measuring approximately 79 by 39 feet (24 by 12 meters), was built with a decorated façade facing the street. The temple's walls were plundered in ancient times and only its foundations remain.

No evidence has been found that reveals the nature of the temple's rituals, but some coins dating from the time of Antoninus Pius, minted in Diocaesarea (Zippori), depict a temple to the Roman gods Zeus and Tyche. The temple ceased to function at an unknown date, and a large church, the remains of which were uncovered by the Hebrew University excavation team in previous seasons, was built over it in the Byzantine period.

North of the decumanus, opposite the temple, a monumental building was partially excavated this summer. Its role is still unclear, although its nature and size indicate that it was an important building. A courtyard with a well-preserved stone pavement of smooth rectangular slabs executed in high quality was uncovered in the center of the building, upon which were found a pile of collapsed columns and capitals, probably as a result of an earthquake. The decoration on these architectural elements was executed in stucco.

Beyond a row of columns, an adjacent aisle and additional rooms were discovered. Two of them were decorated with colorful, geometrical mosaics.

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Cheating on a Sick Spouse

John McCain. Then Newt Gingrich. And now John Edwards.


Edwards' betrayal of his wife at her most vulnerable moment -- as a cancer patient -- is more common than conventional wisdom suggests, according to infidelity experts.

A mistress of former House Speaker Gingrich told Vanity Fair they had their tryst as his first wife recovered from uterine cancer surgery in the 1980s.

While McCain was married to his first wife, who was disabled from a car accident, he was "aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich," according to a New York Times colunmist's account of the 1970s incident that predated McCain's election to the Senate.

Both McCain and Gingrich have admitted to the affairs.

"It's not that uncommon for the spouse of a seriously ill person to commit adultery," said Anthony DeLorenzo, who, with his wife, founded "The healthy spouse often feels guilty, lonely and helpless about the illness, and that combination can make a spouse more vulnerable to having an affair."

Sickness frequently interferes with or eliminates sex from a relationship, making a healthy spouse more vulnerable to advances or situations that lead to sex outside of marriage, the New Jersey private detective told

Blogs this week have been less sympathetic, calling Edwards and his extramarital sex with videographer Rielle Hunter "very low" and "depraved."

"Edwards claimed, while engaging in the affair, that Elizabeth was in remission," read one post on the site, the World According to Matt. "In short he is a cad."

Relationship experts like DeLorenzo, who counsels wronged spouses on his Web site, say about 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women stray during the course of a marriage.

"I know Edwards spoke of his narcissism as a factor, but far more than that had to be going on," said DeLorenzo, who has handled many cases of cheating.

And it's not just the men who are going astray. One middle-aged man who was confined to a hospice-like setting suspected his wife was having an affair when he got no answer to his telephone calls to her on Friday and Saturday nights, DeLorenzo said.

"His wife took care of him three or four times a week, but she was in her 50s and was still a young person," DeLorenzo said. After receiving the report confirming the affair, the man eventually accepted his wife's dalliances.

But Thomas Nagy, a psychologist and professor at Stanford University who works with couples dealing with cancer, said that and other chronic diseases can have an especially devastating effect on a marriage.

Depression, anxiety and medications can take a toll on the spouse who is the patient.

"It hugely impacts on moods and emotional intimacy -- everything," Nagy said. "Mental health treatment is extremely important. Most are not in spousal support or marriage counseling."

He advocates for mandatory marital counseling whenever a partner faces a serious illness.

In Cancer, Illness 'Trumps Everything'

"The mental health needs of a marriage aren't paid attention to because the medical illness trumps everything," Nagy said.

The Edwards couple -- at the center of political power -- got the "one-two punch," according to Nagy. "His wife is having cancer in this really high-profile fast life."

But women who have been wronged have less sympathy for the senator and more for his wife.

"My heart went out to her and for the embarrassment she is suffering," said one New Jersey woman, whose husband has been having an illicit affair for the past seven years, but won't admit to it. "I just wish I had an answer."

The 53-year-old, who works in marketing, said her husband of 33 years recently had quadruple bypass surgery after a clandestine weekend with the other woman. As his wife, she stood by his side at the hospital.

"I was miserable," said the woman, who didn't want to be identified. "He was at death's door. I am no angel, but I didn't want to make the situation worse or add to the stress. I was trying to make things easier for him."

In her time of need -- during eye surgery and later for a cancer test -- he wasn't there. "He couldn't take the time off from work," she said. "He just has excuses: That's his nature.

"I was there every day for him and sat there thinking he would go through a big metamorphosis and turn things around," she said. "I don't know why I am still here. I told the kids, 'He's in your hands now.'"

Michigan therapist Bob Huizenga anonymously coaches clients on his Web site and in his book of the same name, "Break Free From the Affair." He said women who have been wronged have a wide range of responses.

"Some cave in and feel victimized and others say, 'Screw it,' and fight and win," he told "It's utterly devastating."

One woman sought help from Huizenga when her husband turned to a girlfriend after her breast cancer metastasized. "Not only are you losing your body parts and vitality, but also losing what you perceive to be your dreams, your family and your social status," he said.

"It's worse than someone dying."

Many couples don't survive the betrayal, but power couples like the Edwardses often save their public face and work things out.

'High-Ups' Struggle With Infidelity

Some of Huizenga's recent online patients have been "high up" in Washington politics, he said.

"Spouses are having affairs and have nowhere to go," he said. "It's a safe relationship talking to me anonymously. They wonder how to deal with the mistress or with the cheating spouse."

Like Edwards, they worry about their reputations and being exposed, according to Huizenga.

And when a woman has cancer, she has to consider the financial repercussions of leaving the spouse -- and his insurance -- behind. And, as in the Edwards' case, there are sometimes young children to consider.

"It's very difficult for someone like [Elizabeth Edwards] to leave in this situation," he said. "She has a high investment in maintaining that relationship. She may submerge a great deal. Political wives do. They have an investment in the political arena as well."

But, he said, in all cases it's hard to take the high road in infidelity cases. "I am not sure what the word forgiveness means, but they never forget," he said. "It's always there."

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How to Tell When Leftovers Go Bad

To toss or not to toss: Exactly when leftovers become trash has fueled arguments of couples, roommates and co-workers since the dawn of the refrigeration.

rotten food
Rotting Butter on a Plate in a Fridge
(Jonathan Kitchen/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Does moldy bread go in the trash, or just get a trim around the green spot? Can Sunday's leftovers be Friday's meal? What about that day-old ground beef?

While scientists have developed methods to detect spoilage -- for example, sensors that go off when milk changes consistency or a polymer to detect bacteria growth in meat -- until these are available on a mass scale, food science and safety experts have some tips.

Deadly and Invisible

First tip: slimy, stinky, spotty or chunky changes in food don't mean very much in terms of safety.

"It may not taste good, that doesn't mean it's going to make you sick," said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin.

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The Afterlife for Scientologists

Isaac Hayes. Click image to expand.

Singer Isaac Hayes died on Sunday at the age of 65. Besides being a sex symbol, a soul-music legend, and a beloved voice-over artist, Hayes was also a dedicated Scientologist. According to his religious beliefs, what happens to Hayes now that he's passed away?

His soul will be "born again into the flesh of another body," as the Scientology Press Office's FAQ puts it. The actual details of how that rebirth occurs are not fully understood by church outsiders, but some core beliefs of Scientology are that every human being is really an immortal spiritual being known as a thetan and that the "meat bodies" we inhabit are merely vessels we shed upon death. (Members of the elite church cadre known as Sea Org, for example, sign contracts that pledge a billion years of service throughout successive lives.)

When a body dies, its thetan forgets the details of the former life, though painful and traumatic images known as engrams remain rooted in its unconscious. In order to move up the path of spiritual progression—known as the Bridge to Total Freedom—one must eradicate these psychic scars, which cause a person to act fearfully and irrationally. Once a Scientologist has purged them through the counseling process known as auditing, he or she is said to be "clear."

According to an avowed Scientology antagonist who claims, on her Web site, to present factual information typically omitted from church press materials, the official Scientology publication Celebrity announced that Hayes attained "clear" status around 2002, though it is not known whether he progressed onto the highest parts of the Bridge, the "operating thetan" levels. Details about what happens in these advanced stages remain closely guarded Scientology secrets, but at the very end of the process, thetans are supposed to gain power over the physical world; consequently, according to founder L. Ron Hubbard, they "feel no need of bodies," ending the cycle of birth and death and becoming pure, incorporeal souls.

If Hayes had progressed high enough on the Bridge, he might have begun preparing for his next life in the final days of this one. According to former Sea Org member Chuck Beatty, some upper-level operating thetans are said to possess the ability to choose their next set of birth parents.

In a widely reprinted 1990 Los Angeles Times article, Hubbard was quoted (apparently from a lecture given in the 1950s) describing how, after death, a thetan is carried to a "landing station" on Venus, where it is "programmed with lies," put in a capsule, and then "dumped" back on Earth, where it wanders in search of a baby to inhabit. Yet according to Laurie Hamilton, who says she has been a Scientologist since 1968, adherents are "free to accept or discard" such stories so long as they embrace the "methods and practices" of Scientology. One of the church's official Web sites stresses that a belief in past lives is not mandatory dogma but, rather, a personal truth that most Scientologists come to as they go through auditing.

The Web site also stresses that Scientologists do not believe in "reincarnation." Unlike religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, in which reincarnation functions as a kind of justice system—i.e., an individual's behavior in one life determines the caliber of the next—rebirth in Scientology is a more mechanical process. Hubbard described it as "simply living time after time, getting a new body, eventually losing it and getting a new one."

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I'm nonplussed, maybe, but not wrong about it

I need to say something. And even though I'm going to refrain from typing in all caps, I urge you to pretend I did.

The word "nonplussed" does not mean unfazed, unperturbed or unconcerned. I know most people use it that way, but I really wish they'd stop.

"Nonplussed" comes from the Latin non plus, meaning "no more," which landed almost intact in English as "nonplus," meaning "a state in which no more can be said or done." The standard definition of "nonplussed" is "bewildered, confused or perplexed." Got that?

"Nonplussed" should not be used to describe people who are calm during earthquakes, speakers who remain poised when confronted with hecklers, or zoo animals that aren't aware that video footage showing them playing with dog toys is on's most viewed list.
Moreover, there is no such thing as the word "plussed" (unless you're one of those people who talks about mathematics in terms of "plussing and minusing," which I personally stopped doing in college) and, even if there were, do you really think it would mean "fazed"? Would someone really say, "When I spotted Lindsay Lohan at Applebee's, I was so plussed I could barely finish my Mini Chicken Ranchers."

Unlikely. But in the realm of vocabulary blunders committed by those who should know better, nonplussed is nonpareil. The improper use of "nonplussed" has managed to infiltrate not just everyday speech but any number of books and articles that were presumably copy-edited by someone other than the author's stoned roommate.

Is it possible that the real "nonplussed" has become a casualty of its own vernacular groundswell? Maybe it's fed up with all that puzzlement and ready to settle down into a quiet, unfazed life? Or, like a person who's born one gender but is completely convinced that he's really the other, perhaps "nonplussed" is simply transitioning into its authentic self.

I posed some of these possibilities to Mark Liberman, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of a linguistics blog called Language Log. Liberman must have found the "nonplussed" conundrum particularly compelling, because after agreeing to respond to my questions by e-mail, he instead answered them in the form of a post on his blog. He cautions against the term "misuse," which he considers "loaded," and points out that dictionary definitions can evolve markedly over time.

The word "silly," for example, went through several definitions between 1200 and 1600 as per the Oxford English Dictionary, Liberman says. Originally meaning "happy or blissful," it took on a sequence of definitions ranging from "spiritually blessed" to "pious" to "innocent" to "pitiable" to "insignificant" to "feeble" to "crazy" to, finally, "foolish or simple."

As for "nonplussed," Liberman notes that the "unfazed" meaning, which he calls the "new meaning," has already made it into the online dictionary Encarta, which lists "cool and collected; calm and unperturbed" as the second definition (right under "confused").

In other words, it's dictionary survival of the fittest at work; may the best definition win, or at least the one that triumphs through proliferation. Consider "peruse," which technically means "to read with thoroughness and care" but in today's parlance has come to mean "pretending to skim magazines while waiting for someone you met on the Internet to meet you at the bookstore." It's a little perverse that one thing can morph into something like its opposite, but it would mean "nonplussed" isn't a victim of plebeian misappropriation but, rather, an agent of change.

As it turns out, it is popular among those who see themselves as such. It so happens that in a People magazine interview last month, presidential hopeful Barack Obama commented on his daughters' response to media scrutiny by saying "I've been really happy by how nonplussed they've been by the whole thing."

Et tu, Obama?

It seems so. On the other hand, Liberman noticed two Web comments about the story that pretty much say it all.

Comment One: "Wow, our possible president using a word like 'nonplussed.' What a welcome change from Dubya and McCain."

Comment Two: "See, Barack Obama is not a snob. Like most people who would ever use the word "nonplussed" ... he uses it incorrectly. ... Take that, Harvard!"

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Wal-Mart: you can't scan century-old photos of your ancestors because copyright lasts forever

Tstamps sez,

I was in Spring Hill, Florida visiting my grandparents, who have all the family pictures of great grandparents and great-great grandparents. Doing the good familial thing, I decided to take the albums and scan the photos so that the rest of the family could see them. I only had one day to do this, and the only place near them was Wal-Mart (the Supercenter by highway 19). So I take the (sometimes) 100 year old photos to Wal-Mart and begin scanning them on their machine.

After a while, a Wal-Mart employee accosts me and tells me that I can't do that because those images are "Copyright to the studios that took them." I look down at my pictures. The picture she is pointing to is one of my great grandmother, taken about 1925. She has been dead since 1998. The photography studio (assuming it was taken by a studio) is not marked, and is long out of business, and the person who took the photo is long dead, as are, likely, his children and all of his business associates. The only known copy of the photo is the one I'm holding, which is owned by my grandparents, who gave it to me to copy.

In disbelief, I point out that the photo is almost 100 years old and the people are all dead. Undeterred, the Wal-Mart employee informs me that "Copyright lasts forever. It's the law." My scans up to that point are deleted and I'm free to leave the store with my old photos unscanned. I guess I should be thankful they didn't have a portable shredder on hand to seize my photos and do away with them right then and there. Is that in the next set of magic federal laws?

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