Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Freak Writer and the Taxi Cab Driver
by Paul Barford

Coin dealer Dave Welsh has a post (A Call for Action) over on the appropriately-named Freak website in which with - apparently - a straight face he informs his readers over there that:

[Paul] Barford, so far as I am able to determine, has for many [...] years [...] a hardscrabble impoverished existence, first as a cab driver and later as a document translator in Warsaw, Poland [...].

Makes your heart bleed, don't it? This is what this coiney rabble rouser (see the rest of his sad post) claims to have "determined". That's obviously the way these people "determine' something - by simply making them up and not checking their facts or citing sources. Welsh has made the claim earlier, for example ("In reality, he is presently a self employed translator and before that, was a taxicab driver"), and here: "Reality for instance might be that one may actually drive a taxicab, or translate documents, for a living".

Here are the contact details for Barford Cabs


But don't bother phoning enquiring if I work there, I do not. Neither do I drive a "taxicab" in Warsaw. Among other things, I do however translate texts (on archaeological, historical topics, culture, culture preservation and cultural property law etc) for a number of institutions such as UNESCO, ICOM, ICOMOS, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, I've done texts for most of the major universities and museums (archaeological and art collections, National Museum too) here, the Academy of Science, the State Service for the protection of Historical Monuments and a variety of other clients. That is not what I do for a living, neither is driving a taxi cab.

Of course if Mr Welsh had done his "determination" with a little more care, he would find the source of his mistaken information was a comment back in May 2009 by fellow coin dealer Joe Blazick on that classic source of coiney misinformation, the Moneta-L discussion list ("I suggest you change your profession..Get back to digging up history or become a taxi driver in Warsaw if the digging business is so not to your capabilities").


Unlike those whom he incessantly, vitriolically criticizes archaeo-Goebbels adamantly refuses to disclose any details -- even general, personally nonthreatening disclosures -- which would provide insights regarding his recent background and present circumstances. Such disclosures have contrastingly been provided by every single one of his "targets" including myself, as a routine, expected matter of being honest with the public and stating our claims to be taken seriously. That refusal on his part invites suspicion.

There is something abnormal and unsavory about such secrecy, because such disclosures are an essential prerequisite for informed judgment as to the qualifications of one who publicly comments upon past and present events and policies, in the expectation that he should be viewed as amounting to something more significant than another example of the deluded fanatics who can be found standing upon a soapbox, haranguing derelicts who congregate in our seedier public places. Such unreasonable, inappropriate secrecy has notoriously been pursued by the Kouroupas regime in the US State Department's Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau, and that secrecy has not only invited but absolutely mandated suspicion of the most searching, far-reaching character.

It is my firm belief that when any individual with a public persona (such as Maria Kouroupas has, by virtue of her important position held in public trust and confidence) refuses to allow his or her actions, motives and associations which may in any way relate to employment in a position requiring the trust and confidence of the public to be subjected to normal, routine and appropriate public scrutiny, that individual is thereby acting in a manner absolutely and fundamentally inconsistent with the essential democratic principles upon which the United States of America was founded.

No one in the employment of the United States Government, in my opinion, has a moral right to make that sort of refusal. Anyone who does is in my view, ipso facto thereby demonstrated to be unworthy of continued public employment. It is my belief that the best interests of the American people require that any and every so-called "public servant" who refuses to allow his or her actions, associations and motives to be exposed to the full light of day must be searched out, exposed and driven from ever again holding any position of public trust and confidence. The United States of America has a government of the people, by the people and for the people. No one who refuses to be scrutinized by the people and to be continually subject to their informed judgment as to performance and motives ought to be employed by the people.

According to that perspective, it is likewise my belief that what was once described as the "free world" should also be viewed by extension as having a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and that no one who in any way refuses to be scrutinized by the people and consequently to be continually subject to their informed judgment as to performance and motives, ought to be publicly employed anywhere in whatever fraction of the world ventures to demand to be taken seriously and respected by the people of the United States.

Now we come to the much more unclear question of those who are not formally employed by the people, but whose employment nevertheless essentially depends upon the people. Let's consider the highly relevant case of a news commentator or public affairs "pundit" such as Walter Cronkite, to cite one famous, respected and ethical example. Here is a knowledgeable and highly qualified individual whose views must be taken seriously. One may not always agree with those views (as I have not always agreed with Cronkite's views), but I have always taken them seriously.

And finally we come to the case of another less well-known individual, who also ventures to comment (with pretensions to having expert knowledge and experience) upon questions of high public importance and interest -- an individual who is clearly also a public personality by virtue of making such highly publicized comments, whose present employment appears to essentially depend upon the people. He describes himself as a "British archaeologist living and working in Warsaw Poland. Since the early 1990s a primary interest has been research on artefact hunting and collecting and the market in portable antiquities in the international context."

Hmm. One would ordinarily expect that an "archaeologist" would presently be gainfully employed in performing work in some way directly relating to archaeology - which could for instance include excavating, artifact and monument conservation, collection curation, site surveying and a host of other activities that in one way or another are essential (or at least important) to archaeology. However the individual in question, according to best available information and belief, not only is not so employed -- he has not been so employed for perhaps fifteen years, and when he actually was so employed he did not (according to best available information) ever hold any important position, nor did he ever discover anything of importance, so far as I or any other of those whom he so freely criticizes (many of whom themselves have held important positions and discovered things of importance) can determine.

According to normal expectations of how one should honestly describe one's occupation, he ought to describe himself as a "former archaeologist" presently doing whatever he actually does to support himself today. Instead he has carefully drawn a veil of secrecy around his present and recent employment (or lack thereof) and has misleadingly misrepresented himself as still being an archaeologist.

Hmm. Now why should the public be so unwise as to repose trust and confidence in such an individual? Would someone who needed professional guidance in other important aspects of life, such as an actual or possible legal dispute, be well advised to repose trust and confidence in an individual who had not practiced law in fifteen years, and whose record during a relatively brief career as a lawyer was at best undistinguished? Would any sensible person think of that as a reasonable or sensible thing to do? I think not.

And if not, then why should any reasonable or sensible person now take this individual, whose interminable utterances all relate in one way or another to actual or possible legal disputes, seriously? What factual, publicly verifiable reason is there to view him as being anything other than an imposter and a charlatan?

Hmm. Translators and taxicab drivers are (at any rate) pursuing respectable, socially beneficial occupations. If my impression that this individual is or was occupied in such a manner is incorrect, there is this obvious question: what does he actually do, that he is so obsessively secretive about and unwilling to disclose? Something less respectable and socially beneficial than these occupations? Who knows? Who can accurately or even approximately judge the matter? And if no one can judge the matter, why should anyone pay any attention to this insufferable man and his far reaching pretensions?

One thing however does seem clear amid all this murky uncertainty: no one presently and significantly employed in the field of archaeology does seem to pay any attention to him, other than to view him as an embarrassment and a detriment to the good name of archaeology.


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