27 June 2015

The Genealogy of Jesus

Because it can't be repeated often enough...

Rule #4: The Bible is not a source for your family tree.

A few months ago someone made this comment on my Facebook page, "If you believe the Biblical accounts, once you got back to Joseph, the rest is done for you, back to Adam." As always I will not address religious beliefs so we'll skip over the "If you believe" part.
At the time that comment was posted I was listening to a book I read years ago. When I read it I had not yet been bitten by the genealogy bug. As I went through it this time I had a completely different perspective.
"Of all the many thousands of accidental mistakes made in our manuscripts, probably the most bizarre is one that occurs in a minuscule manuscript of the four Gospels officially numbered 109, which was produced in the fourteenth century. Its peculiar error occurs in Luke, chapter 3, in the account of Jesus's genealogy. The scribe was evidently copying a manuscript that gave the genealogy in two columns. For some reason, he did not copy one column at a time, but copied across the two columns. As a result, the names of the genealogy are thrown out of whack, with most people being called the sons of the wrong father. Worse still, the second column of the text the scribe was copying did not have as many lines as the first, so that now, in the copy he made, the father of the human race (i.e., the last one mentioned) is not God but an Israelite named Phares; and God himself is said to be the son of a man named Aram!"
The printing press wasn't invented until the 15th century. That's a few thousand years of transcriptions and translations. To use The Bible as a source you would be trusting a transcription of a transcription of a transcription of a translation of a transcription of a...you get the idea. Most were done by scribes, many of whom were copying things they could not actually read. Those who could read might add or leave out a word if they didn't agree with something.
Of course none of that matters because you cannot get "back to Joseph."
"But..." Nope.
"I saw a tree..." No!
It is just not possible to have a documented line from a living person to anyone in The Bible so please stop.

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18 June 2015

Switcheroo Follow-Up

Monday's post was shared on a number of Facebook pages/groups. After reading the comments I can divide them into three categories. These apply to pretty much every article ever posted on Facebook.
1) Those who read the article and understood it.
2) Those who only read the headline.
3) Those who read the article but completely missed the point.
The first group doesn't need a follow-up to Monday's post. The second group won't read this post either. This post is for the third group. After the jump I'll try to put this is the simplest, clearest terms.

15 June 2015

Subscription Switcheroo

*NOTE: This is written from the perspective of a U.S. resident and Ancestry.com subscriber. I am not aware of any new subscription plans for Ancestry.co.uk, Ancestry.com.au, or any other Ancestry sites.

If you have your Ancestry.com account set to auto renew you might not be aware that Ancestry is "testing" a new subscription strategy. These are subscription options we are familiar with:

You should still see these options if you are a current subscriber. That would lead me to believe that if your subscription is set to auto renew it will renew at the same level. Of course Ancestry hasn't actually said anything about testing a new price plan. Nothing on the community news board. Nothing on their blog. Nothing on the message boards.
Screen caps are included after the jump but if you'd like to see Ancestry's new subscription options for yourself click this link. You may have to log out of Ancestry to view the new options. It's because it can only be seen on certain browsers. Even clearing cookies/cache won't change that. (Stopping myself from going on a rant about Ancestry's programmers here.)
AFTER THE JUMP: What they're willing to tell us

30 March 2015

High Cheekbones and Straight Black Hair

For many years a colleague of mine thought I was half Hungarian, half Japanese. Why? Because I resemble another friend of hers who is half Hungarian, half Japanese. You can see from my family's DNA results that there is no way I am half Hungarian or half Japanese.
Some of you seem to think certain physical traits can be assigned to a specific ethnicity. Like everyone with high cheekbones and/or straight black hair has Native American ancestry. That photo of your ancestor is not definitive proof that he/she was Native American.
Does this person "look Indian" to you?

Behind the scenes on Cecil B. DeMille's Unconquered, 1947. [Tumblr]

That is William Henry Pratt, a.k.a. Boris Karloff. He was born in London, England and is of Anglo-Indian descent, not Native American.
What about the iconic "Crying Indian"?

That is Espera Oscar de Corti, a.k.a. Iron Eyes Cody. He was born in Louisiana to Sicilian immigrants. He has no Native American ancestry whatsoever.
Your family photo is proof of nothing. Stop making assumptions based on looks. You just look foolish and sound racist.

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09 March 2015

De-lightful and De-lovely

By now you are probably aware that changes are coming to the Ancestry.com website. From Ancestry's perspective these are their priorities:

Isn't it great that they finally listened to their users? I mean, haven't we all been asking for a more "beautiful" and "delightful" site? I can't wait! [eyeroll] And "usable"? Shouldn't that be a given? Apparently Ancestry programmers need to be told specifically that the site needs to be usable.
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks the design team's goals are a joke. Here a few comments from a Facebook thread on Ancestry's fan page:
  • Too bad "functional" isn't one of the goals.
  • I´d really rather see that they fixed the problems, first, before creating, possibly, more.
  • how about not seizing up every few minutes, or being down entirely a lot; that would be an awesome change....
The comments on Ancestry's blog post are worth reading too. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Don’t forget that Function is the first and foremost need of the customers. All the pretty bells and whistles in the world won’t make up for the issues that customers have been encountering for several years now (system instability, phantom hints, poor messaging system, duplicate databases, etc.) Make sure those things are fixed before ever rolling this out
  • FUNCTION is the most important issue. Let’s not put lipstick on a pig.
Right now the media gallery is not functional in beta but there are plans, big plans, for a complete makeover.
"The Media Gallery makes it easier for you to manage all your media – records, videos, photos, stories – in one place to enhance the story of your family."
Um, that is different from the current media gallery how?
For years the most requested feature has been the ability to change the order of photos on a profile. If that isn't part of the coming changes the entire update will be a giant fail. All the emphasis has been on storytelling and the easiest way to tell a story is by putting photos in chronological order. As it is now the only way to do that is to upload and attach photos in reverse chronological order.
Yesterday a new site glitch made an appearance.

That's a sign that Ancestry's programmers are doing something. They've never been able to add anything without breaking things in the process.
Are you a beta tester? What's your opinion so far?

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