Welcome to Saturday Ramblings for August 13, 2016.
Since we looked at the restoration of Elvis’s BMW last Saturday, it made we think, “Surely I can find some pictures by someone who restored an old Nash Rambler!” And that’s when I found Dave Simley’s post, showing how he brought a 1953 Nash Rambler Custom Convertible back to life. It’s a good read, with lots of great pictures, a few of which we’ll show you here today.
While on a hunting trip in Montana, Dave spotted an old car behind a building on the edge of Glasgow. When he went back the next year, he contacted the owner and, after assuring him he was buying the car to restore it, bought it for $1000. He picked it up in the spring of 2009, took it home to Fargo, and worked on it for several years. You can see the finished result above — a real beauty. Below you can see a few of the photos he took as the work proceeded.
Great work, Dave! I admire those with the talent, skill, and patience to take on projects like this and bring them to completion.
Looks like a great little car in which to take a ramble. Let’s go!
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TWO NAMES RISE TO THE TOP
In the Rio Olympics, two American individuals gained extraordinary attention and acclaim this past week: Michael Phelps and Simone Biles. Both have people talking about them in “best ever” terms after their achievements.
Phelps’s tally of medals as of this writing? — 4 golds in Rio, 22 golds in his career, 26 Olympic medals overall. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes of him:
He is a graybeard in swimming terms, someone who could gather people round and tell stories of how things once were. Yet he touched the wall and won the 200-meter individual medley Thursday night at Olympic Aquatics Center, and when he did the result of a race that might have been considered in question only two minutes earlier was instead etched on the granite tablet where all of Phelps’s accomplishments seem to be recorded, because they are all historic.
As for Simone Biles, Katy Waldman at Slate writes:
Saying Simone Biles was “the favorite” to win the women’s individual all-around competition at the 2016 Olympics is like saying the Earth is favored to rotate around the sun. At an elfin 4-foot-8, Biles towers above every other gymnast like a glittery skyscraper. The 19-year-old American came to Rio having racked up three consecutive world championships. Her seemingly effortless performances in qualifying and the team finals—where she led the U.S. to gold by a comical margin of more than eight points—solidified her status as an athlete apart.
In replying to those who tried to compare her to other Olympic athletes, she said, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps,” she said. “I’m the first Simone Biles.”
Jalue Dorjee, now 9 years old and preparing to embark on an epic adventure, is believed to be no ordinary boy.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote about Dorjee when he was a 4-year-old:
According to the highest authorities of the Tibetan Buddhist order, he is the reincarnation of the speech, mind and body of a lama, or spiritual guru, who died in Switzerland six years ago. Jalue is said to be the eighth appearance of the original lama, born in 1655.
His discovery in 2009 is considered an honor and a blessing for his working-class parents. But it comes with a hefty price. Jalue (pronounced JAH-loo) is their only child — their everything. This week, he turns 5, a critical marker on his predestined path. In just five more years, he will leave the familiarity of his parents’ home in Minnesota to live and study in a monastery in India.
A series of dreams and divination practices led his parents and Tibetan Buddhist leaders to conclude that Jalue was indeed a tulkus (a reincarnated lama). On Jan. 6, 2009, a letter arrived bearing the seal of the the Dalai Lama, officially recognizing the boy as the reincarnation of the lama known as Taksham Nueden Dorjee. In a second letter, the Dalai Lama gave Jalue a formal lama name — Tenzin Gyurme Trinley Dorjee.
Jalue’s father says he realizes that he is raising a lama for the 21st century. A tech-savvy spiritual leader who can easily communicate with people in the West and East. Yet someone also fully versed in the wisdom and practices of Tibetan Buddhism and able to teach those concepts to others.
On a crisp fall morning, Jalue looks the part of a boy in two worlds. He practices reading Tibetan words, sitting on his lama chair at home. He is wearing a yellow “Highland Hawks” T-shirt and red flannel pajama bottoms, his favorite colors, and the ones that lamas wear exclusively.
HOPE FOR THE HOMELESS IN SILICON VALLEY
It might not seem to fit the image, but more than 4000 people in San Jose, California have no place to call home. And San Jose tops the list of the state’s cities with homeless people living outdoors, about 70 percent. Ironically, Santa Clara County, where San Jose is located, also has the nation’s highest median household income; nearly half its residents earn more than $100,000 a year, mostly at high-tech companies such as Adobe, Cisco and eBay, which are headquartered in the city. (Google is nearby in Mountain View and Facebook is in Menlo Park.) San Jose’s median home price was $980,000 last year. And 16 percent of its residents are among the nation’s top earners.
Until two years ago, the nation’s largest homeless encampment was San Jose’s “The Jungle,” a 68-acre camp where more than 300 resident stayed until the city evicted them and barricaded the area. Now, Scott Wagers, a 50-year-old Disciples of Christ minister, and Robert Aguirre, a homeless advocate, make regular rounds in their beat-up RV called the “Mercy Mobile” to remote areas where many of the homeless have been exiled, delivering food, water, clothing, and other needed supplies.
Wagers and Aguirre know this is a mere band-aid on a serious problem. So, every chance they get, they bring people from the community along with them to make the plight of the homeless folks in their area better known. They have few good words to say about the tech giants and major companies who they feel are at least partly responsible for pushing lower and middle class people into poverty and have since mostly turned a blind eye to their desperate situations. But perhaps some are starting to take notice.
The behemoths may be slowly awakening to the reality. Last month, Facebook agreed to construct 1,500 new housing units, of which 15 percent will be reserved for low- and middle-income residents, regardless of whether they work at Facebook.
That’s just a drop in the bucket. But it’s a start.
Meanwhile, Wagers will continue his Mercy Mobile rounds.
He’s committed to giving the most politically powerless class of people in America a voice.
“I’m not a socialist or a capitalist,” Wagers says. “I’m a Christian. And this is shocking to me. What’s our role as Christians? ‘What you did to the least of these you did to me.’”
TWO REPORTS: ONE HOPEFUL, ONE DISCOURAGING
I read two reports this week, the first of which caused hope to surge in my heart.
REPORT ONE: Despite the constant drumbeat of bad news from the media these days, relentlessly exposing us to violence and conflicts, Angus Hervey at Medium.com reports that, “We are experiencing one of the least discussed, yet most remarkable cultural shifts of all time: war, one of our species’ most abiding and defining social practices, is at its lowest ebb ever.”
I encourage you to read the entire article, because this seems so counter-intuitive in a year when fear-mongering has almost become an Olympic sport. Here are a couple of paragraphs summarizing the data:
…as Joshua S. Goldstein and Steven Pinker point out in a recent Boston Globe editorial, our obsession with these stories blind us to a far greater truth. Outside the Middle East, war is effectively disappearing. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is on the retreat from many of its home terrories. In the Central African Republic, a newly elected government has brought genuine hope for lasting peace. In Ukraine, a shaky ceasefire is holding despite partial flare ups. We have short memories too. We forget about the wars that ended recently in Chad, Peru, Iran, Sri Lanka, India and Angola and have forgotten earlier ones from a generation ago in places like Greece, Tibet, Algeria, Indonesia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique that killed millions of people.
The world was a far more dangerous place when you were born. Death tolls from wars in the 1970s and 1980s were 4–5 times higher than they are today. We are, despite reports of religious and political insurgencies, despite high-profile terrorist killings and unrest in various corners of the globe, living in the most peaceful era of our species’ existence. The world is getting less violent; we’re just more aware of the violence that happens, thanks to the mass availability of information. And unfortunately, the media and our politicians use that information to make it look as though we’re doing worse than we actually are.
The second report I read was not so sanguine.
In Baltimore, a city that is 63 percent black, the Justice Department found that 91 percent of those arrested for discretionary offenses like “failure to obey” or “trespassing” were African-American. Blacks make up 60 percent of Baltimore’s drivers, but they account for 82 percent of traffic stops. Of the 410 pedestrians who were stopped at least 10 times in the five and a half years of data reviewed, 95 percent were black.
And that’s just the top line.
Not only are the numbers staggering on their own, but the report makes clear that the numbers the BPD reported have all the legitimacy of a floating crap game. For example, in 2014, the BPD recorded 124,000 stops but an in-house audit found that officers finished 37 reports out of a sample group of 123 stops. The corruption runs so deep beneath the numbers that it appears that there isn’t anything there except the corruption.
The New Yorker piece reminds us this is not the problem of one lone city. “But the most striking part of the report on Baltimore is the extent to which it is interchangeable with the reports on race and policing that have come out of Chicago, Cleveland, Ferguson, and Newark in the past two years. The reports were most often the product of a particular outrage that had initially been met with official denials or understatements, and then with grudging acknowledgment of wrongdoing, followed by a federal examination of what went wrong.”
Ok, so we have evidence that humans were present in South America nearly 15,000 years ago.
We also know that a land corridor was formed when huge ice sheets melted in western North America at about the same time, opening up a possible migration route from Siberia through to Alaska and into the continental interior. So people came over the Bering Land Bridge during that time and began to settle the Americas, right?
Hold on. Not so fast. An international team of researchers led by Eske Willerslev from the Natural History Museum of Denmark has concluded we have our math wrong.
You see, here’s the problem. Even though the land corridor opened up in that time frame, it remained free of vegetation and animals for thousands of years and was thus unable to sustain a human migration until around 12,600 years ago.
This means they must’ve taken another route—and that route was likely along the Pacific coastline. These early North Americans made their way past the ice sheets by either walking along the ice-free sections of the coastal beaches, or more speculatively, by sea travel. Importantly, the authors of the new study say the ice-free corridor could have still been used as a migration route by other Asian settlers, particularly the Clovis people who entered North America between 13,400 to 12,800 years ago.
…This research suggests there could have been two separate migration thrusts into North America, the first along the Pacific coastline around 15,000 years ago, and the second one when the ice-free corridor became habitable and human-friendly, around 12,600 years ago.
But this new data presents another intriguing possibility. Perhaps there was only one single migration wave along the West coast, but once the ice-free corridor became habitable, these early settlers started to make their way northwards through the corridor all the way back into Alaska.
To be sure, this discussion will be continued…
MAN, DID GAYE CLARK RAISE A RUCKUS!
In case you didn’t hear about it, Gaye Clark recently wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition called, “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband.” (Although she took down the piece, you can still read it at this link.)
Clark had good intentions and thought she was being open-minded, but, man did she raise a ruckus! Although I would not call her piece “racist,” I do think it displays a certain tone-deafness (a critique others offered as well) and an assumption of white perspective and privilege that just did not come off well.
In the aftermath, I think things were handled fairly well. To Clark’s credit, she removed the article and expressed her regrets. To TGC’s credit, they addressed some lessons they recognized needed to be learned from this experience.
TGC editor Jason Cook (who is black) held a podcast discussion in which he admitted TGC could have done things differently. The Washington Post summarizes his acknowledgments:
First and foremost, Cook said, the site would have been better off inviting Glenn’s mother to co-author the piece to bring in perspectives from both families and both races.
Cook also acknowledged readers’ concerns about Clark coming off as a “white hero,” saying it “probably wasn’t the best for the main discussion of such sensitive issues.”
“There are a lot of things we could have done better, and we’re going to learn from this,” he said. “We hear our brothers and sisters, and we respect that.”
We cannot talk about the Olympics in Rio without sampling some Brazilian music, which is an integral part of the host country’s culture.
The New York Times published a good article to help us do this: “The Essentials of Brazilian Music for Olympic Listening.” I encourage you to take some time this weekend to go to the article, where you can enjoy listening to the music they call “casual and seductive on the surface, ingenious and multilayered within….”
For our part here at Internet Monk, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the music of Brazil than by posting a video of the incredible Gilberto Gil, one of Brazil’s most influential musicians of the past 50 years.
You can read an overview of Gil’s story HERE, a story not only of music, but also of social activism and political involvement in his beloved country.