Saturday, January 1, 2011

What can we talk about in 2011?

Critics might say that my last blog post, entitled Highway called Pacific [display], concerning an ordinary road accident in Australia, belongs to the category of things we write about when we're not smart enough to imagine any better subjects. Maybe that criticism is justified… although I hasten to reassure my readers that I never feel as if I'm running out of stuff to talk about in my Antipodes blog. On the contrary, the constant problem consists of determining to what extent my readers will, or will not, be interested by my reflections on the various domains that concern me: life at Gamone, computing (my life-long profession), the Richard Dawkins world-view, genealogy, creative writing, etc.

In France, journalism on a par with my blog article about the tanker accident on the Pacific Highway, is designated as "crushed dog" reporting. Young journalists, upon joining a rural newspaper, are asked to cover events such as dogs that got run over on the local roads… and, by extension, all sorts of local accidents. I hasten to add that my Pacific Highway article deals with the spectacular death, not of an animal, but of an anonymous truck-driver. And, when his identity emerges, I would like to mention it on an updated version of my blog post. His accident affects me in that he died, at the commands of his B-double monster, on a rural road—described stupidly as a "highway"—that is strictly fit (by today's safety standards) for bikes only.

Meanwhile, there's another animal that often jumps onto the pages of newspapers at this season every year, when most honest Christian citizens are gorging themselves with exotic foodstuffs and getting drunk. The animal in question is the Loch Ness Monster.

This fabulous beast spends most of its prehistoric time down at the bottom of the dark waters, but it emerges during periods of media inactivity at the surface of Loch Ness. In other words, if you see an article about the Loch Ness Monster, chances are that there's fuck-all to talk about in the media.

During the present days of journalistic lassitude, another terrifying monster has emerged in the French press: the Shroud of Turin, alleged to have been wrapped around the sacred body of Jesus.

Serious historians have known for ages that this medieval cloth, with its curious symmetrical stains, is no doubt a clever piece of skulduggery that could have been produced by myriad techniques, known and unknown. Meanwhile, it's utterly ridiculous to imagine that this cloth might have received some kind of photographic imprint of the crucified body of a certain Jesus of Nazareth. One would have to be crazy to accept such tripe. But there exist indeed hordes of crazy individuals—known as Roman Catholics—who are prepared to believe in such bullshit. And lazy journalists, in this empty season, can easily tune in to such folk to create superficial media buzz.


  1. And what serious historians are you referring to? Are historians who think otherwise (Scavone, Wilson, Cahill, Habermas) perhaps not serious? Roman Catholics? What about Anglicans, Evangelicals, Protestants, and, yes, Jews who think the Shroud is real? I’ve met Agnostics and Atheists who think it is possibly real. Do these others simply believe the “bullshit” without being “prepared.”

    Bigotry or what?

  2. Maybe we'll have a profound debate on my humble Antipodes blog about the alleged authenticity of the Turin Shroud. As Daniel points out quite rightly, the unqualified expression "serious historians" is perfectly unacceptable. I agree that historians who consider that the Shroud is authentic cannot be brushed aside as "not serious". And it's a fact that I spoke too rapidly and stupidly in suggesting that the only individuals who accredit the authenticity of the Shroud are Roman Catholics. In other words, my article was excessively lighthearted and superficial, and I acknowledge my error in handling a subject of this nature in a flippant manner. Personally, I'm convinced that the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax, and that the stains on this medieval cloth have nothing whatsoever to do with the alleged crucifixion of an individual named Jesus, some two millennia ago. I suspect that Daniel won't agree with me. If this is the case, Daniel, please tell us what makes you feel that the Turin Shroud was in fact the cloth that was wrapped around Jesus of Nazareth.

  3. William, I was glad to receive your response to my comment. You are most gracious. A debate, as you suggest on your blog may indeed be fun and profound.

    I have posted a more complete response on my blog. How do I email you? You may reach me at

    My blog is:
    Dan Porter