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CSotD: Dampening Dubiosity

Glen LeLievre leads off today’s roundup of dubious pieces and dubious claims, with a cartoon that has been getting a lot of reposts on social media.

The dubious part isn’t that it deals with a religious subject at that religion’s most sacred time of year, because it doesn’t mock any theological beliefs. In fact, it seems more about Leonardo’s painting than the Biblical Last Supper.

I’m willing to debate people who refuse to accept the folkloric aspects of the Old Testament and who expect literal accuracy in history from the first millennium, both those who think it’s all absolutely true and those who believe it’s all completely bogus.

The problem with LeLievre’s cartoon, however, is far more basic: Only one of the Apostles, Matthew, was an Evangelist. The other three — Mark, Luke and John — were not present at the Last Supper and, in fact, never met Jesus.

There’s nothing obscure or nitpicky about that: It’s basic Biblical literacy.

For a gag to work, it has to have a firm basis. You can make jokes about Washington and the cherry tree or about Columbus thinking the world was flat, even though neither is true. The necessary “firm basis” is that people believe it, not that it happened.

In this case, the immediate response is laughter, because it is funny. But it’s quickly followed (or should be) by a dampening “wait a minute …”


There are a lot of dampening moments of “wait a minute” these days, and, as Dave Whamond demonstrates, they’re not all funny.

It is distressing that Putin is so successful in convincing his people that the Ukrainians started the trouble, that they are faking the atrocities and that Russia is winning, but, before you condemn them as gullible, take a look at the batshit nonsense your fellow citizens — your fellow voters — swallow.

As that guy who was both Apostle and Evangelist recorded it, “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Which leads us to this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Andy Davey)


(Clay Bennett)

Start with the admission that I don’t think Bennett is specifically referencing the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, which Davey properly portrays as a very distressing disaster for Putin.

The event fits Whamond’s piece, since Russia claims that the damage was from an unexplained fire in the ship’s ammunition hold and that the Moskva then sank in a storm while being towed to Sevastopol for repairs.

Granted, despite Putin’s crackdown on the Internet, I’ll bet any Russian who wanted to fact-check could easily find that there was no storm in the area. But, of course, they wouldn’t, because it wouldn’t occur to them.

It’s more problematic that they accept the accidental fire explanation over the Ukrainian claim of hitting the ship with a Neptune missile, but, then, (dampening moment) we accepted that the North Vietnamese attacked the Maddox and the Turner Joy, and our great-grandfathers, ironically, believed the Spanish had blown up the USS Maine when it was, rather, an accidental fire.

However, I think Bennett is guilty of some irrational exuberance, because, whether it’s the sinking of the Moskva or the general destruction of Russian troops and materiel, this game sure ain’t over.

And, should it actually come to a checkmate, there’s still the potential for a poor loser to simply lose his temper, flip over the board and scatter the pieces.


The hopeful note being that, even if Ivan and Elena in Vladivostok don’t know what’s really happening 4500 miles away in Ukraine, powerful people closer to the scene do, and, as Jonesy hints, they may be becoming a little edgy about how Putin is holding up.


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Joel Pett)


(Harry Harrison)

On the topic of fooling some of the people all of the time, Pett’s accusation of predatory capitalism would likely have seemed like leftwing paranoia a few years ago, but he provides the reasons it isn’t.

Things were tough for young people in the past, but they weren’t out of control. New York State used to offer a competitive scholarship that basically covered tuition in state universities. Today, it wouldn’t pay for your books.

And even middle-aged, successful people today are shut out of homeownership by absurdly skyrocketing prices.

As for predation, the charge that raises don’t match inflation is true, so long as you accept inflation as an unavoidable factor rather than a case of corporations protecting their profit margins at the expense of the peasantry.

It’s no different than accepting that there was a fire in our ship, which then foundered in a storm. Why would they lie to us?

Which brings us to the new Harry Potter film, which has been edited for the Chinese market to remove a reference to homosexuality. This is only the latest element in a trend for Hollywood to kowtow to Beijing, making artistic standards secondary to profit.

Ain’t that a slap in the face?


Paul Berge suggests that Corporate America seeks ways to remain popular with the public without risking its popularity with the GOP, and I share his fury at the way they support hateful, bigoted lawmaking around the country.

I’d add something else: Tucker Carlson’s constant stream of lies, distortions and disloyalty have caused a lot of advertisers to avoid advertising on his program, but many of them continue to advertise on Fox News.

They certainly cannot believe that he is only paid if ads appear when he does.

And even if they do, you certainly shouldn’t.


To bring together dubiosity and predatory capitalism, Chip Bok (Creators) takes a deadly thrust at an extremely dubious capitalist, who seems to have added social media to the list of steaks, wines, airlines, universities and real estate debacles on his list of failures.

You don’t have to like Elon Musk to get a laugh out of this one.


Excellent Timing Award

Finally, On the Fastrack (KFS) offers a bit of synchronicity to the happy news that, while time doesn’t necessarily wound all heels, it does occasionally smack one upside the head.

Enough. Let’s close with a happy ending based on far more admirable values:


Community Comments

#1 Paul Berge
@ 6:56 am

Hold on — wasn’t John “the disciple whom Jesus loved”?

#2 Gawain Lavers
@ 8:59 am

“The problem with LeLievre’s cartoon, however, is far more basic: Only one of the Apostles, Matthew, was an Evangelist. The other three — Mark, Luke and John — were not present at the Last Supper and, in fact, never met Jesus.”

All gospel authorship is probably suspect, but there are at least four gospels attributed to apostles: from Peter to Mary to Judas himself.

“Hold on — wasn’t John ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’?”

There were (as today) lots of Johns (I think probably “Ions”) running around the eastern Mediterranean. There are even two with works in the New Testament.

#3 Gawain Lavers
@ 9:06 am

“I’d add something else: Tucker Carlson’s constant stream of lies, distortions and disloyalty have caused a lot of advertisers to avoid advertising on his program, but many of them continue to advertise on Fox News.”

Fox News is now completely immune to threats to its advertising:

(Yes, it’s YouTube, but it’s an interview with Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.)

#4 nancy o.
@ 9:26 am

@Paul Berge: That’s a strong “maybe, but maybe not”:

#5 Mark B
@ 9:40 am

Actually, the first attack in the Tonkin Gulf was real. It was in broad daylight. It was the 2d, nighttime attack, that was bogus. And the Johnson administration lied about why the Maddox was there (it was coordinating a South Vietnamese attack).

#6 Mike Peterson
@ 10:04 am

The issue of John’s identity, and of the establishment of the Canon, falls both under the folkloric part of matters as well as the lack of literal history in that era, bearing in mind that there was a war in Troy but the Olympian gods didn’t likely take part.

Some of the infancy gospels are clearly folkloric, and I’m dubious about John’s description of demons being transferred into pigs and sent over a cliff, while Nancy’s link makes the question of who wrote what another point of contention.

In any case, two of you shall get book deals doesn’t really swing much either.

Point taken on the initial attack on the Maddox, though anyone who has served on a ship in the Gulf can testify about the Iranian Guard’s various feints and bluffs, each of which has to be taken seriously but none of which sparked such overreaction, much less inspired fanciful stories about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds. Oh … wait …

#7 Mary McNeil
@ 7:09 pm

Do my eyes deceive me, or is Chip Bok actually mocking Orange Jesus ?

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