January 18, 2021

Saturday Ramblings: July 2, 2016


1960 Rambler Chicago Auto Show

We’re in Chicago for the weekend, enjoying music and walking around the city. The picture above is from the 1960 Chicago Auto Show, an event I attended a few times back when I was a teen. Note how Rambler was being advertised back in those days: Rambler: Basic Excellence.

That’s what we try to give you every day here at Internet Monk, and on Saturdays we hop in the old Rambler and cruise the WWW for interesting material. Come on, let’s ramble!

• • •

sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,fffffftesla-model-s-sedan_100227083_lSpeaking of rambling, buckle your seatbelts, keep your eye on the road, and get ready for a whole new thing.

In May, Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, became the first person to die in a crash involving a self-driving automobile.

Brown was riding in his beloved Tesla S sedan, watching a Harry Potter movie, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes.

In April, Brown posted a video on YouTube showing how his Tesla had avoided a crash on an interstate.

In the fatal incident, Brown had put the car in “Autopilot” mode. Tesla said in a statement that this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. They also said that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all time. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time.

Unless Harry Potter is on, I guess.


sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,ffffffThis, of course, was the week of Brexit.

We’ll leave it to the pundits to sort out the analysis and predictions for what the fallout may be. What we here at IM want to know is, what do British comedians think about all of this?

Here are a few of the responses:

Brexit 4

Brexit 5

Brexit 2

Brexit 1

Brexit 3

Oh, and one other very important question: What happens to BEER after Brexit?

sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,ffffffOver at UPROXX, Stacey Ritzen posted some hilarious cartoons about one of the presidential candidates, which our friend Mike the Geologist brought them to our attention. I’ll let Ritzen explain the concept:

Calvin, the protagonist in Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, is a 6-year-old boy prone to irrational outbursts, delusions of grandeur, and the occasional whimsy of taking over the world. Donald Trump the real-estate mogul, former reality-television star, and current presidential candidate, is also prone to irrational outbursts, delusions of grandeur, and… I guess you can see where we’re going with this, here.

At some point, some brilliant person happened to notice the similarities between the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States and a frigging fictional 6-year-old child, and the subreddit r/DonaldandHobbes was born. The conceit is fairly simple: contributors superimpose The Donald’s head over Calvin’s head in Calvin and Hobbes strips, and viola! Satire is born.

Here are a few of them. Visit HERE to see the rest.



sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,ffffffThe Rambler is feeling all bipartisan today, so we now present a few of the best Hillary Clinton cartoons we’ve seen recently:



sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,ffffffMTE1ODA0OTcyMDMzNTQxNjQ1Pope Francis recently said that the Church owes gays an apology for the way it has marginalized and mistreated them over the years.

The pontiff was responding to remarks by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a top adviser to the pope. A few days earlier, Marx had said that the Catholic Church, as well as society, had treated gay people in a “scandalous and terrible” way.

Francis was asked about Marx’s remarks and the Orlando killings and about suggestions that Christians need to examine their own consciences when it comes to the treatment of gays and lesbians.

Francis shook his head in grief at the mention of Orlando and recalled church teachings that homosexuals “should not be discriminated against” and “should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”

Then he added: “I think that the church not only should apologize … to a gay person whom it offended, but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work.”

Christians, he reiterated, “must ask forgiveness, not just say sorry.”

That didn’t sit well with some Catholics, including South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, who tweeted “God help us! Next we’ll have to apologize for teaching that adultery is a sin! Political Correctness (PC) is today’s major heresy!”

President of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue was just as adamant.

“As a matter of fact, I want an apology from gays,” Donohue said on CNN’s “New Day” program. “I’ve been assaulted by gays. I’ve never assaulted a gay person in my entire life.”

“(T)he idea of a blanket apology because you are a member of some demographic group, I mean, I don’t know what church teaching it is that you have a problem with that maybe the church should apologize for?”

sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,ffffffDoes Jesus still appear and perform miracles, as described in the Gospels? Some people claim he does. A couple of articles this week caught the Rambler’s attention.

First, at a sight called GodReports, Mark Ellis reports that Jesus appears to a group of refugees crossing the stormy Aegean Sea and calmed the waters, saving them.

Christ_Calms_Storm_01_500x419When the wind and the waves threatened to swamp a boat filled with refugees fleeing the Middle East, Jesus made a dramatic appearance to them and calmed the waters, saving their lives.

The truly amazing account is from Erick Schenkel, executive director of the Jesus Film Project.

“A group of refugees fleeing the fighting in the Middle East were jammed into several pontoon boats. They were trying to make it across the Aegean Sea to Greece,” Schenkel recounts.

The seas were extremely rough and dangerous and some of the boats in this small armada capsized.

The report is reminiscent of a similar storm on the Sea of Galilee described in the Gospel accounts, when “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” (Matthew 4:37)

The refugees were afraid, just as Jesus’ fellow travelers were frightened.

“But the people in one boat cried out to God. Suddenly, a ‘shining heavenly figure’ appeared in the boat,” Schenkel reports. “The entire boat knew it was Jesus.”

Then something miraculous happened. Jesus calmed the storm!

“From that point the sea became calm and peaceful, and they finally landed safely on shore.”

In another, more general article (meaning no specific stories were told), a Christian apologist named Dr. Jeremiah Johnston claims that “Jesus is appearing to Muslims all over the Middle Eastern world.”

Well, okay. What’s a Christian to do with this? Accept it because somebody said so?

Would I be less of a believer if I said I was skeptical?

sticker,220x200-bg,ffffff-pad,220x200,ffffffOn Thursday night, Gail and I attended one of best concerts we’ve seen. We saw James Taylor and special guest Jackson Browne at Wrigley Field in Chicago. My favorite city, favorite venue, favorite singer-songwriter along with another of my favorite singer-songwriters, and I enjoyed it all with my favorite person.

All I have to say is: Man, there were a lot of old people there!

No, seriously, it was phenomenal. This being the age we live in, there are already several amateur videos out on YouTube, but the quality is not great so I won’t post any of them here. Instead, I offer this performance of “Carolina in My Mind” from Taylor’s One Man Band tour a few years ago. This was the first song Apple Records released by a non-British artist, and is reportedly James Taylor’s own favorite.

It certainly is one of mine.


  1. “Jesus is appearing to Muslims all over the Middle Eastern world.”

    This has been reported by various evangelicals for a few years. I have been skeptical as well, but no one has come forward to dispute the claim.
    It would be compelling that people around the world would identify a redemptive longing with Jesus, while being strafed by ever-circling civilian-killing drones sent from that great “Christian” nation.

    • Danielle says

      “I have been skeptical as well, but no one has come forward to dispute the claim.”

      But how would anyone dispute it? It’s like disputing the claim that someone else, unnamed and unknown to you, did or did not eat rye toast 6 months ago.

      • Danielle says

        A correction to my statement: There are names. However, it’s still a claim that a third person can neither provide supportive evidence, nor disprove.

        • Donalbain says

          Could they perhaps use photofit technology to at least let us know what Jesus REALLY looks like?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        I do not believe it. I stopped believing the authenticity of a religious experience once it enters the public record. There it either vanity or politics. If Christ, and angel, or a daemon appeared to you – none of which bothers me theologically – okay, great. But when you go running down the street shouting about it – I put you in the liar bucket. Because … why? If a spiritual power wanted to address everyone – write thrifty foot tall letters of fire in the sky. Notably, that doesn’t happen.

        And as in the parable of the rich man in hades – if ‘they’ will not listen to the prophets ‘they’ will not listen to one who returns from the dead.

        • Robert F says

          I stopped believing the authenticity of a religious experience once it enters the public record.

          Am I right to assume this doesn’t apply to the all (though it may apply to some) of the publicly recorded religious experiences in the New Testament?

        • Robert F says

          I wonder about all of this myself. If not for publicly attested miraculous happenings, the resurrection of Christ could not have been shared by those who experienced it with those who had not experienced it. At the same time, I disbelieve most of the claims of modern day miraculous events. But I’m completely uncertain about where to draw the line.

          And what about the Catholic Church’s proclamation of modern day miracles in connection with the canonization of Saints? Are they credible, or not?

          • Robert, re. canonization, I think it is probably coincidental per intercession of a saint. But people believe in this, and belief has great power.

            I am not saying that I believe people are never healed But I do not think it’s something that needs to be shouted about.

    • As one who was raised in a Muslim nation as the son of missionaries and who has stayed in touch with many who continue to work there, I can only encourage folks to not dismiss such accounts immediately. In my own life, I have heard accounts from several missionaries and from a number of converts from Islam themselves who came to believe as a result of a vision of Jesus, or some similar event. These were not publicity-seekers, and most of these accounts stayed within a small community. No one got rich or famous off of them.

      Also, many Muslims in the country where I grew up tended to give a lot of credence to visions and such, which helps account for their profound effect, and makes me understand why God might choose such means.

      Also, the missionaries involved were everything from southern baptist to presbyterian to methodist. None of them were part of the American evangelical power complex that we know today, none had particularly strong charismatic leanings. These were some of the most sober and humble and, yes, skeptical people, I have known.

      So be skeptical, but also be open to the fact that God is fully able to work in ways that are outside of your own cultural and historical experience or desires.

      • Robert F says

        Theological humility cuts in more than one direction; thanks for reminding us of that, John.

      • Having lived in the Muslim world I agree that they place great stock in dreams and visions. That would be a way God can reach them.

  2. Speaking of odd personifications of redemption, last week certain evangelical leaders had staked their names on the claim Trump is officially an evangelical convert.

    • Christiane says

      There’s a lot more than their names staked on Trump: there’s the names of their denominations, the entire Republican Party, the reputation of the United States Government . . . . . oh, how did we get into this mess?

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > how did we get into this mess?

        The how is quite straight forward and well documented. Anti-institutinalism and anti-intellectualism are fun and easy – but they always drop you in this mess.

      • As someone stated on Facebook (I think Betty Bowers), it makes perfect sense that evangelical would endorse a businessman like Trump for President, because religion is big business in ‘Murika.

  3. one other very important question: What happens to BEER after Brexit?

    From my observations, it is getting consumed at an even more rapid rate than is normal for Brits (and THAT is saying something).

  4. What day and age do we live in when John Piper represents the voice of reason?


    “The Gospel needs to be heard. How shall they believe unless they hear and how shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach unless they be sent. That’s a pretty significant argument in Romans 10.” – John Piper.

    • I guess he objects to Paul’s conversion as well..

    • Danielle says

      I approach all extraordinary claims with agnosticism, if not skepticism.

      However, I don’t buy Piper’s argument. Paul makes a statement about how things usually happen – if you want people to get a message, most of the time you have to send someone to deliver it.

      There’s nothing in the text suggesting that God’s action in the world would be rigidly restricted to the usual means of getting things done. It is, in fact, a pretty usual Biblical convention to picture people expecting God to act in the usual ways, just before God decides to do something unexpected.

      Piper rigidly insisting that God acts through, and only through, the means that he, Piper, has seen and the work that he, Piper, does is both ambitious and self-serving.

      So while I don’t expect dreams to act as evangelistic tools on a regular basis – and I am making no statement about the particular claims under discussion – God can do whatever God wants to do.

      Piper wants to pin this down and make it knowable by assuming he can extract a set of templates from the text. The wind blows where it pleases.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      Oh please. Piper is using this opportunity politically to plug his (imho, ridiculous) proof-text approach to the Bible. If Piper is skeptical of these claims because of a single sentence that Paul wrote, then he hasn’t got a rational basis for understanding the Bible to begin with.

  5. RE: Napier and Donohue… yeah, guys, it’s really unfair, your boss’s insisting on our having to treat sinners with compassion and respect, isn’t it? It’s a good thing Jesus set such a clear example of chewing out sinners and uplifting decent churchgoers on a regular basis…

    Oh wait…

    • Christiane says

      Donohue, the president of The Catholic League, is a CATHOLIC ???

      Gosh, I thought he was a right wing pundit.

      • Richard Hershberger says

        I find “traditional” Catholic reactions to Pope Francis fascinating. It is like reading about the Medieval and Renaissance papacy: mostly a bunch of powerful rich guys using the papacy as a vehicle for obtaining more power and money. But every so often, a Christian slips in, usually as a compromise candidate when the usual suspects are deadlocked. Then wackiness ensues. Those guys didn’t usually last long, and things returned to business as usual afterwards, but it was fun while it lasted.

        The current crowd isn’t quite the same. The church isn’t a vehicle for power and money in quite the same was as back in the day, so it attracts people with different motivations. But the dynamic plays out much the same way. In my more conspiracy-minded moments I do wonder how good is Francis’s personal security detail.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      They can mourn “PC” all they want, but anyone who has listened to Francis speak or watched him live understands that he is speaking out of genuine love and compassion.

      • If Franklin Graham and some of the cohort were to make apologies–then I might reconsider my antipathy toward Premillennial Dispensationalism…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says


        “pC” is primarily just a cop-out to avoid having to make a real argument to support one’s position.

      • He’s not PC, whatever that means. He is genuinely trying to get the church back on track, and I believe his compassion is quite real. Thank God – it’s about time that a major xtian religious leader stood up for the kinds of things the church is supposed to be doing, and for the things that Christ taught regarding caring for others.

  6. Robert F says

    In news overnight, Austria’s highest court has decided that its recent presidential run-off vote for president must be redone, due to ballot-counting irregularities, opening the possibility that a far-right candidate, Norbert Hoffer, who narrowly lost the first time, could win this time round. Hoffer is another Eurosceptic, anti-immigrant politician in favor of leaving the EU. Evidence for Boris Johnson’s prediction before the EU Parliament this week that the EU will break up in a matter of years? I’m afraid that he along with the other prophets of evil may be correct in these predictions.

    • Robert F says

      Correction: Not Johnson, but Farage.

    • Danielle says

      The news these days has me ill-at-ease. I find myself wondering if we’re watching the last gasps of this strain of thinking, or if it’s about to re-surge and remain.

      I’ve never expected any shortage of problems. But I would like my son to wrestle with different ones. I’ve thought: I hope he has no idea what his parents are talking about, and caught up in knots over. I hope he doesn’t “get” us. And here we are, in a wind that feels suspiciously like the ’30s.

      Still, there’s all the pushback. That’s good. It’s going to be an interesting few years.

      • Earlier this week the NYT published an editorial by… Marine Le Pen. That’s right, the current leader of the French neo-fascist political party (Front National). They legitimized her in so doing, imo.

        I find this very, very alarming.

    • Any opportunity to learn from the past seems to be erased by fear. I wish these words hadn’t come out of a muppet, but they are still true: fear…leads to the dark side.

  7. BASIC Excellence”…silly.

  8. The body styling of the Rambler above looks like something from the mid-50’s, not 1960.

  9. Enjoyed the “bipartisanship”, CM.

  10. Robert F says

    The whole story of Jesus appearing to, and saving from death, the boat full of refugees on the Aegean is framed in the language of evangelical conversion-narrative, as if none of the people in the boat knew anything about God before the incident, as if the whole tragic situation is most important as an occasion to make converts, and as if no one in the boat might be Christian to begin with (there are Christians in the Middle East, duh, and in those boats). That narrative framework makes me skeptical of the story from beginning to end, not because God can’t perform miracles today, but because the account is too congenial to the pious expectations of the evangelical folks sitting safely at home and watching these things unfold in the news, and in the “Christian” new; the Jesus I known is wilder than that, breaking down and through all pious expectations. And he doesn’t use people in tragic circumstances to produce neat little religious dramas.

    • Danielle says

      A main reason I am skeptical of the narratives is because they feel crafted to say exactly what the intended audience wants to hear.

      If it motivates anyone to go their own parting of the Aegean Sea with some concrete help, then I’ll take notice.

    • Patriciamc says

      Maybe these stories are real or maybe they’re not. The God to whom all things are possible isn’t sitting around with bated breath waiting for the blogshere to approve or disapprove.

  11. Danielle says

    I admit to having a little trouble with making poor little Calvin into Trump. I love Calvin! Plus now look what dear Hobbes has to tolerate all day?

    However, I cannot deny that it is funny. A little too funny. And can anyone resist any excuse to invoke Calvin and Hobbes? No, friends: you cannot.

    Speaking of comics: … Bloom County … we need you …. this is your hour ….

    • I feel the same! It is hilarious, but feels sacriligous somehow…

    • Bloom County is available daily via FaceBook. Berkeley Breathed has revived the strip and all of our friends are back and dealing with current events. I agree with you, Danielle. Bloom County brings some sanity to a world gone nuts.

      • Yes. Breathed releases at least three new comics per week on Facebook. Better than ever, if you can believe that being possible.

      • Patriciamc says

        Bloom County is fantastic! The comments after each strip are almost as good too.

    • Brianthedad says

      Agreed. I love Calvin. He’s really Everyman. And quite the philosopher. His parents are my heroes. Dad especially.

  12. Instead of investing all that money and technology into private automobiles why not invest it in efficient and sustainable mass transit?

    Why doesn’t the Pope just change Catholic doctrine on these issues? That’s part of his job description, right? All the apologies make him look humble and forgiving and all but is homosexuality a sin or not? Should women be priests or not? The Pope gets great PR but if you are going to change, then change already!

  13. Robert F says

    Aggressive fireflies
    burn above sidewalk and lawn —
    a glowing gauntlet.

    • Christiane says

      we have a long hallway in our home leading to some bedrooms . . . I’m walking back and forth, taking care of chores at night with the hall light off, and I think I see a flash of light . . . I pause, then move on thinking ‘gosh I’m tired’ . . . next round of chores coming down the hall, I notice the dog won’t come with me, and then I see it: another flash of light, so brief but too brilliant to deny:
      a small firefly resting at the side of the hallway on the carpet …. I’m was a science teacher by profession, but I accept small mercies when I see them . . . my dog was quite daunted, but I felt honored by the presence of this magnificent creature of God lighting up our darkened hallway …… very small bug, very brief illunination, but if even the smallest presence of light in the darkness can speak to me of the way of grace, that is also blessing 🙂

      • Robert F says

        Growing up in northern NJ, I always looked forward to fireflies over the lawn in the summer. As I got older, some of the enchantment diminished for me, but I still enjoyed seeing them. What’s new for me is that the fireflies here in Central PA, where we relocated a decade ago, are aggressive, diving at me when I go outside, getting in my face and even my ears. I now try to avoid them as best I can.

        • Danielle says

          They dive? Fascinating! I grew up with fireflies in the New Hampshire summer. They were pleasant, unlike the blackflies, and slow. The ones here in Maryland seem content to act like clumsy floating pacifists.

          But I’m sure we have far fewer of them. Most of our time in Maryland has been spent in or near cities.

        • You’re walking into a whole lot of them, and it’s mating season…

          • There are several common species in PA. I looked this up a couple of years ago, when I noticed a lot of them flashing on and off – in a kind of swarm – in the next-door neighbor’s backyard. There must have been 3 different species, all hanging around there. Their behavior varied. Some flew up about 30 feet, up to eye level. It was like watching a meteor shower, or tiny stars and planets, orbiting out there in the bushes.

            Really beautiful.

  14. Robert F says

    Watering that made
    the flowers thrive has also
    made the weeds’ roots deep.

  15. Robert F says

    RIP, Elie Wiesel.

  16. Danielle says

    From an interview with Elie Wiesel:

    Elie: I have no answer for anything, really. I have shelves and shelves of books in my apartment, but none of them has answers—only questions. I teach my students how to ask questions. In the word question, there is a beautiful word—quest. I love that word. We are all partners in a quest.

    Oprah: And is there an answer for every question?

    Elie: The essential questions have no answers. You are my question, and I am yours—and then there is dialogue. The moment we have answers, there is no dialogue. Questions unite people, answers divide them. So why have answers when you can live without them? . . . .

    Oprah: On the last page in the magazine, I write a column called “What I Know for Sure.” Elie, what is it that you know for sure, that you have no doubt about?

    Elie: I have no doubt that we are here for a purpose. I have no doubt that the purpose is not only to bring God closer to his creations, but to bring his creations close to one another. I have no doubt that a human being is human simply because he or she is human—and we have no right to say that a poor person is of less value to society than someone who is rich.

    Oprah: Yes—simply being born is what gives us worth. This is gooood!

    Elie: I have no doubt that education is good for the soul, not only for the mind. I have no doubt that questions have their own magic, their own charm and their own immortality. I have no doubt that faith is only pure when it does not negate the faith of another. I have no doubt that evil can be fought and that indifference is no option. I have no doubt that fanaticism is dangerous. And of all the books in the world on life, I have no doubt that the life of one person weighs more than them all.


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