Tom Pittman's WebLog

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2012 December 28 -- The Difference Between God and Ore-Eye Impostors

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights... -- Declaration of Independence

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. -- Psalm 150:6

I think the writers of StarGateOne (see my Tuesday posting) have drunk the American Kool-Aid, and that's not a bad thing -- except that they have done so blindly, without understanding the implications.

Although few atheists would admit to believing it today, good Darwinist theology holds that "some [people] are more equal than others," and are therefore more "fit" to survive. It is the Creator who has endowed all people with equality and those pesky "unalienable Rights." But equality is a peculiarly American ideal, and we all drink the Kool-Aid.

Here's how that plays among the atheists rejecting religion. Religion is deemed to be inherently hierarchical, the religious leaders having the rights (and rites) to impose submission on their followers, and to benefit financially from them in some sort of Ponzi scheme. That's certainly the way the "Ore-Eye" villains are portrayed in StarGate. Their portrayal is more Darwinian and Mormon than Christian, because the Ore-Eye "gods" are ascended humans, the way Mormon gods were formerly human, and the way Darwinist humans were formerly animals. The StarGate writers don't make the analogy explicit; the viewer is supposed to make that connection -- and presumably also to not know that Christian doctrine is actually different from the Mormon model in their portrayal. I'd guess the writers don't know the difference either, "It's all religion, and all evil" seems to be their thinking.

The Christian God is fundamentally different from the Mormon model in a way that gives meaning to the Declaration of Independence. We are humans; God is not human and never was. God created the whole universe out of nothing; the evil Ore-Eye claim to have "created" modern humans (perhaps by tinkering with existing DNA, but no explanation has been given so far), while in truth we humans will never create anything out of nothing the way God did. There is an implied equality between present humans and the Ore-Eye, as part of the existing universe -- although the Ore-Eye are farther along in "evolution" the way Americans might be more "evolved" than stone-age tribes in some Pacific island. Therefore, the StarGate thinking goes (and I agree), we Americans have no right to demand worship from the Pacific islanders. We are all equal under the One True God Who Created the universe out of nothing. Of course the StarGate thinking stops before that last line, because they believe there is no such thing as supernatural or God, only higher evolution and more advanced technology.

But if there is such a thing as a Creator God who created the universe out of nothing, then that God has a different relationship with His creation, less like the way Americans relate to Pacific island stone-age tribes, or the way the Mormon deity relates to Mormons, and more like the way the StarGate writers relate to the script they wrote for show we watch. The script will never become a person. The script may (and once did) portray a person writing a script, but that's fiction; the writers who wrote the story are real people. The script is obligated to perform as the writers and director(s) plan for it, because it's only a script, not human. Similarly, we are only human, not gods, so we have the same obligation to perform according to the plan of God, not the other way around.

Therefore it is reasonable and appropriate for God to demand from us worship and praise, while forbidding the same worship directed at other creatures, who (like us, and like the Ore-Eye) are not gods.

2012 December 25 -- Defeating the Atheist Lies

In California I was a member of a church that saw Christmas as a Christian holy day. We went to church on Christmas morning every year. It was wonderful. Around here most people think of it as a family event. Which sort of leaves me out, because I don't have any family in the area. I don't mind, I'm not a Relationshipist.

So I worked on my sister's cookbook, fixing some typing errors in the text. And I spent some time working on my compiler. It takes a long time to compile, so I ate lunch and watched videos. One of them is my continuing odyssey through StarGateOne.

The StarGate writers and directors really hate organized religion. After the Good Guys defeated the evil "Go-Ah-Oold" (that's how they pronounce it, not how the jacket spells it), they needed to bring in a new villain to be their foil, the even more evil "Ore-Eye" who is modelled more or less after an atheist's perception of Christianity, complete with miracles and the promise of "ascension" to eternal life, but also the (more Muslim than Christian) command to kill the infidels. In this episode the "ancients" (also Good Guys) revealed to our heroes that the Ore-Eye have been lying to their followers and preying off their life force, and that their ultimate intention is total domination of the entire universe. You don't have to talk to very many atheists to know that is their view of Christians.

There is a valuable insight here for the observant.

Truth is a moral absolute, and if God or the Christians were really lying to people, we would deserve the atheists' scorn. The Golden Rule is a moral absolute, and any religion that does not treat people the way they want to be treated deserves the scorn of atheists (and everybody else). Above all other religions -- including atheism -- Christian doctrine teaches these two moral absolutes (among others). It is unfortunate that we have such a sorry record of following our own teachings, but that is not the fault of God nor the teachings.

If we Christians are going to earn our hearing from the atheists, we must be more vigilant in both teaching and practicing our moral absolutes, especially truth and the Golden Rule. The evil Ore-Eye people lie to their followers and potential converts; we must always and only be absolutely honest. The Ore-Eye (and the Go-Ah-Oold before them) seek benefits from their acolytes in an asymmetrical relationship that benefits those in power at the expense of the weak; we must never do that, but rather (as Jesus himself taught) seek to serve rather than be served. When we begin to do that more consistently, the StarGate story line will become as obnoxious and untruthful to other viewers as it is to me.

2012 December 15 -- I Still Hate Eunuchs

It's been some 40 years now that I have diligently avoided unix whenever possible, failing often enough to remind me why it's such a good system to avoid. Not quite two years ago this guy (with good intentions, but we know which road is paved with those) told me
one word of advice: please don't go with a Windows based workflow, whatever you do. You'll be disappointed.
He neglected to tell me that's true in spades of unix-based workflow. So I let him sell me an OSX system. He said it's better than the OSX I tried to use at the university ten years ago (and gave up as hopeless). I cannot tell if it's better, it's as hard to use as unix -- oh wait, it is unix. Still is. No change. Still has that obnoxious "dock" taking up valuable screen space and interfering with everything I'm trying to do. Still continually asks for useless passwords. The cover on the current issue of WIRED magazine announces "Kill the P@55W0rD" to emphasize their futility.

I mentioned a month ago that I was preparing my sister's cookbook for PublishersDemandingFailure, and one of my readers gave me some help doing it on the (real) MacOS, which still works far better than any of its successors or imitators. Now I'm trying to do some cover art. Again, I did not pay for any of the software that does such things on the Mac while it was still available, nor are such programs available on that marvelous website for downloading obsolete Mac software, so I'm stuck with unix. Eunuchs, as everybody knows, are missing a vital organ, so they cannot perform; the operating system is aptly named.

PhotoShop is the verb that lets people combine pieces of images into a picture that says more than real life ever could -- which is the kind of hyperbole you need in a book cover. It's no longer available for the MacOS, and I'm certainly not going to pay big bucks for a piece of castrated trash. So I Googled "free image editor" and found (besides Gimp) Seashore for OSX and for the PC. looked promising, but it does not offer a download that can make it past my "air gap" firewall (it tries to phone home, then gives up when it fails). Seashore turns out to be rather weak on the kinds of things I need to do.

Gimp is well named, it is lame in both legs. What do you expect from a unix program? Especially an "OpenSource" (or as I have come to say, Obnoxious and Stupid) program. Like all emasculated programs, it crashes a lot. "Save early, save often." So I ended up shuffling back and forth between Seashore on OSX for the things it could do, and limping in Gimp on Windoze otherwise. Maybe the real PhotoShop is usable on Windoze or OSX, and maybe not -- I've paid for far too many things that turned out to be unusable and unrefundable; OSX is one of them.

I wanted to build a collection of the photos I will be working with, (not) helpfully named by OSX as a sequence of numbers from 0001 to 0209, so I duplicated the folder of all images, then went to delete the ones I didn't want. On the Mac I just grab a bunch of icons and slam-drag them into the bottom right corner of the screen, and they are gone (after the next reboot). On the PC it takes two steps: right-click, then choose "Delete" and they are gone. No such luck on OSX. The pop-up menu is much longer, therefore slower to find "Move to Trash" in it, and these ChineseJunk mice have a lot of contact bounce, so I get random effects -- very unixy. I never had that problem with Cupertino mice on the Mac. So I had to select, then drag them to the desktop, then choose "Move to Trash" -- then pull down a different menu to "Empty Trash". And if I tried to go too fast (did I mention? Unix is veeerrry sloooww), strange things happen, random files get selected, things move around, God alone knows what other damage is done. At least I was smart enough to insist on DeepFreeze, so at the end of the day, all the mistakes disappear.

2012 December 12 -- Pharma Prizes

Marxist theology holds that people will naturally want to sacrifice their own benefit for the good of the community. It's called altruism, and there are people like that, and Christian theology claims to make us all into altruists, but in practice hardly anybody really does it very much, not even the Christians. That's why Marxism never succeeds as a majority economic system. But Marxism is a wonderful system if you consider only its benefits to the common people, and not how those benefits come about. That's why there are so many theoretical Marxists.

I'm reading an older issue of WIRED, and one of the opinion pieces is by this guy, Steven Johnson, who seems to be a closet Marxist. He is unhappy with the idea that big pharmaceutical companies can make a profit for 20 years -- actually more like 15 years, after they've done their clinical testing -- on their drug inventions and discoveries, by preventing competitors from making the same drug during that time. He does not explain how these companies are supposed to pay for their research and testing, except maybe to offer an alternative economic incentive.

He wants the government to offer huge prizes to the inventors of new drugs, in exchange for releasing them to the public domain. I see several problems with this model.

First, there is a huge cost associated with the research the pharmaceuticals do to come up with new drugs. All the cheap and easy ones have been found, and the rest cost a lot. The companies do this because one big win pays for hundreds of failures. The garage-shop inventors don't have that kind of funding, and they can't find sugar daddies to pay for it without (in effect) becoming large pharmaceutical companies themselves. Will the prize be as big as the profits on a block-buster drug? I don't think so. So the R&D is unfunded in Johnson's model; people do it for altruism, because there's only one prize but many contenders and no Daddy Warbucks with deep pockets funding the losers.

Then there's the cost of clinical testing. That's also funded in the present system by the profits from the winners. Who is going to pay for it in Johnson's model? The cloners? No, they make cheap knock-off drugs because they don't pay for the R&D and the testing. The government? That's a recipe for disaster of the sort you saw from time to time in (now former) Communist countries, where there is no watchdog watching the government testers. We saw the same thing happen here a few years back when the government rushed the testing of "PlanB".

The present system works because there is an economic incentive for the developers and testers of the drug to spend the necessary money to create it and make sure it's safe. And yes, for a few years, rich people get to use the drug while poor people do not. But 15-20 years is not that long in the big picture.

This is not like the prize that went to the first private space flight. A rich guy or two thought it would be fun, and they went after it. They get to keep their patents, and they get to keep their technology, and they get to charge huge fares to their eventual (very rich) passengers. The competition is thin.

This is not like the prize for the first car to drive itself safely in real traffic. The development costs are modest, something a few guys in a garage could do, and they get to keep their patents and their technology, and after they collect the prize money, they can retire (if they so choose), because the lawyers are not going to allow a self-driving car on the highways. There's no clinical testing to pay for, and they can collect royalties from their patents.

But let the government try offering a prize for an AIDS cure, and we can see if anybody steps up to bat. There are already a dozen pharmaceuticals working on it (no prize needed), but will the offered prize be bigger than the net-present-value of the profits over 20 years? I don't think so. And then who will pay for the testing?

2012 December 4 -- Interest Rates

All the people who have any legitimate reason to call my cell phone are in its directory with a distinctive ring. This was a generic ring. There is some button on the side of the phone somewhere, that if I pinch it when an incoming call is ringing, it stops ringing. I found it by accident, and I have no idea which button it is, but I like the effect better than I like the effect when the phone is not ringing and I accidentally pinch the same button(s). I had just spent six gruelling hours doing a major dinner preparation for my sister's cookbook, and I was down for a long nap.

Whoever it was left a message: "Hi, I'm [sounds like] Aston-Martin and we talked last week about reducing your interest rates..." [Message erased]. We did not talk last week, nobody with a name like that, and certainly not about reducing my interest rates. I don't want them reduced, they are too low already. Liars and thieves.

The only interest rates I have anything to do with are paid to me on bank accounts, and I want them increased, not reduced. But Obama and his patsies in Washington are mortgaging the nation's grandchildren to increase all kinds of debt by reducing interest rates below inflation. It's another tax on low-income people like me. But the American people voted for him again, so there's not much I can do about it.

2012 December 1 -- No Fear

"When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear: we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclinch your fist." -- Obama in Rangoon, 12 Nov.12, quoted in TIME
Obama did not say his was one of those governments. It is.

Since he won on only 49% of the vote, it would appear that a majority of the American people do not want Obama for President. Not that we could do anything about it: the people chose the Devil they know over the Devil they don't. There wasn't really anybody worth voting for.

15 pages later in the same issue, one of the regular left-wing-bigot columnists wonders "What about those disaffected white folks?" That's obviously a racist, bigoted remark, based on the fact that almost all of a particular race in this country voted their skin color. But fewer than in 2008. Apparently some of the 51% who didn't want Obama are not white. Not to mention all those who wanted neither Obama nor Romney, so were not counted.

He goes on, "I suspect that Obamacare won't have the profound impact on the national character -- or their lives -- that they fear." No, ObamaCare won't have a profound impact on the national character. The people who previously got health care paid by taxpayers will still get health care paid by taxpayers -- including the implied tax of inflation caused by huge deficits. That started with Bush, and Obama gave us more of the same, so no, that's not going to change. The people who paid for their own health care because they chose to be responsible for their own living costs, will still pay for their own health care, only now it will cost more, and there will be less discretionary money to grow the economy (if that's what it takes), again no change. Some people who had health care paid for by their employers will start having to pay for it themselves, because ObamaCare is so much more than basic health care, it will be cheaper for employers to pay the penalty tax than to buy "insurance" for their employees. That won't last long, but it's the law today. Today the law says nobody goes to jail for refusing ObamaCare, but we know what Obama's promises are worth. The rest of the people, who already have employer-paid health care, will still have employer-paid health care. Basically no change, except that the quality of health care will diminish for most people. Not a profound impact. People will still be able to buy health care on the black market when their "insurance" refuses to cover what they need or want -- if they have the money for it. When there are restrictive government laws, black markets arise to deal with the neads. Previously, rich Canadians found their black-market health needs met in the USA; that will change, but it's not a "profound" change.

Me, my taxes will go up some 7% -- "not one dime," said Obama four years ago, but the new tax is 6950 dimes each year -- if my taxable income is the same four years from now. Of course it won't be. ObamaCare and deficit spending means high unemployment, so I probably still can't find a paying job, so I'll most likely fall below the tax threshold. Is that a "profound impact"? Not really. I was without gainful employment before Obama was elected the first time. No change there. The only "fear" I have is that my savings will run out before my life does, which is very probable as inflation ramps up.

Inflation, now there is a "profound impact on the national character." Zimbabwe, formerly (as Rhodesia) the richest nation in Africa, and now the poorest in the world in one generation entirely due to Obama-like government policies, has runaway inflation. It is a necessary consequence of governments spending more than they take in as taxes. But we are so far ahead of whoever is in second place, that the fall of the USA to a second-rate nation (probably) won't happen in my lifetime. "Apres moi, le deluge." So no fear. And when my money runs out, I will either die of starvation and/or lack of medical care, or else go on welfare. Obama would like that. His iron-fisted government might even force it on me. But God is bigger than Obama's fist. No fear.

2012 November 30 -- Established Religion, Free Speech Denial

I don't have a working TV, and even if I did, the left-wing bias of the news media is too much for me to stomach. I used to get my news from TIME magazine, but they've left off being a "news magazine" and now print mostly left-wing political opinion. One can extract a little news from the political fertilizer, but they wouldn't (and didn't) mention a flagrant denial of Constitutional rights to the other political side. So I didn't find out until five weeks later, when a tiny mention showed up in the denominational house organ of the church I attend.

It seems that Louisiana State University officials digitally removed from a photo of some of their game fans the crosses on their body paint, before sending it out in a promotion. The crosses were a "free-speech" statement of these students, declaring their Christian faith in the context of their support for the college team, and removing it effectively denied their free speech right to say what they meant to say and not something else.

LSU officials defended their actions, claiming "We did not intend to offend anyone by the editing of this photograph." What they really meant is that they did not want to offend the established religion representing the vocal atheist minority, but they deemed it acceptable to offend the majority Christian faith. The pusillanimous students might be congratulated for forgiving the LSU actions, but an atheist or Muslim or Jew in similar circumstances would sue for damages. So government officials -- LSU is a government institution -- get off the hook with a wishy-washy apology when it's the Christians whose Constitutional rights are trampled.

2012 November 27 -- True Obamanomics

The article appeared in TIME magazine and (like everything else in TIME) is written by a left-wing bigot who still favors the failed and failing Obama economic model which the facts and figures disclosed in that same article clearly contradict. But if you can escape the political bias and just look at the facts, here you have some very rich guys who understand economics and the psychology of investors -- they called "equities a Ponzi scheme," which is basically what I said of the market five years ago -- and they voted for Obama, not for the reason given, but because they know he doesn't know anything about economics and they do know what Obama doesn't know, and they are making a profit from his foolishness. 93% of the "recovery" money is going to the top 1% rich folks, meaning these guys. They don't mind another 4% tax increase, because that's small potatoes compared to their skill at manipulating the "wealth redistribution" into their own pockets.

They argue on moral grounds for job retraining, which is well and good, but none of the players really understand that left-wing-bigot union teachers are not going to be encouraging the fabled "47%" to abandon their entitlement mentality and actually start working to create wealth. So long as people believe that government-mandated "wealth redistribution" is a source of personal wealth, they will continue to depend on the government handouts and not on their own efforts. Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian, the featured execs offering the sobering facts in this article, got rich by thinking hard about what makes things work, then working the system to their own benefit. The "47%" also work the system to their own benefit, but so long as it's "free money" (which redistribution essentially promises), they don't need to do anything to create wealth. Gross and El-Erian don't create wealth either, but at least they understand that somebody needs to, or there won't be any to redistribute. The economy gets better (a rising tide that lifts all boats) when wealth is created. Moving money around does not create anything, as this article reluctantly admits.

The solution, which you will never read in TIME or any other modern secularist media, is to teach hard-core Golden Rule ethics -- also known as Christianity; I call it "2C" -- which (among other things) encourages people to build wealth by enabling all parties to succeed at creating their own wealth. Unfortunately, this is not even understood by most Christians. If they did, Romney would not have been the Republican nominee (because Romney does not operate by 2C ethics), and Obama (who also does not espouse 2C ethics) would not have won.


2012 November 26 -- Usable Tools

A couple weeks ago I was two weeks into trying to format this book manuscript into PublicationDisasterFailure (PDF) files and mostly failing. One of the few readers of my blog was very helpful -- to the extent of pointing to tools that run on the real MacOS, which do the job. We went through several iterations, and there's still one OSX step that replaces making huge Mac files in a huge virtual memory (doable, but slightly more effort than merging several smaller PDF files on OSX). Operating systems today are far less open and usable than the original Mac was in 1984 (see the "Open Mac" paper I presented at the January 1985 West Coast Computer Faire). The real MacOS still outshines all its successors and imitators.

2012 November 14 -- Obama's Friends at Apple

The three computers I use at home most often (not counting cell phones, microwave ovens, and other stuff which is a computer but that doesn't look like one) are this (classic) Mac I do everything important on, a PC laptop that now gets used mostly for watching movies, and an Obnoxious Stupid Former (OSX) laptop that I try to use as little as possible. Eunuchs, as everyone knows, are people missing a vital organ so they cannot perform; the operating system is aptly named.

A few years ago I needed a computer to access the virus-activated web sites that it is sometimes (not often) necessary to look at, but I was in no hurry: I just went to the library and used their computers. Then it began to look like I might have some (paid) OSX-based programming work available, so I bought the computer with a default boot mode using DeepFreeze, so when (not if) it gets infested by internet viruses, they are gone the next reboot. The PC was supposed to come with Linux similarly protected, but Linux is essentially eunuchs, and it was DOA. After struggling with it for several months and paying the vendor a lot more than I planned, I finally gave up Linux as hopeless. At least OSX works with DeepFreeze for web browsing. But it's not friendly. It's unix.

The OSX-based programming work never much materialized, but I recently got myself volunteered to prepare a book for publication. The publishers all want PDF -- that stands for "Pretty Darn Foolish" -- files, but OSX claims its graphical rendering system is native PDF, so no problem, right? Wrong. PDF is probably a large part of why OSX is so obnoxious and hard to use. I have several Mac programs that know how to format text, but none of them create file formats compatible with OSX. Why am I not surprised. I also have Netscape -- which is really a unix program badly converted to Mac: it is responsible for more than 90% of my system crashes; but that's unix for you -- which formats HTML, which is still a live standard that all browsers can read. I should be so lucky.

I have three popular browsers in OSX, but none of them know how to save a web page into PDF. OSX does offer a save-to-PDF option when you ask it to print, but that does not seem to be any kind of standard. Apple's own Safari produces pages that are a different size than the format says they are. Firefox produces files that the Mac says are corrupted and unreadable. Google Chrome doesn't have those problems, but it arbitrarily resizes the tables and pictures to something other than specified in the HTML. None of the browsers are willing to constrain tables to a single PDF page, nor does there seem to be any way in HTML to specify page breaks. Only Chrome was willing to constrain pictures to a single page; the other two browsers would split the pictures across pages like the tables.

The unix (including Apple's OSX) attitude toward customers reminds me of Obama's attitude toward religious freedom or political compromise, which they both seem to have learned from some alleged French queen's attitude toward hungry people: "Let them eat cake!" In modern terms that comes out "My way or the highway!" Eunuchs and unixies don't care what people want or need. You can do it the way we want you to do it, or we will make you regret otherwise. It's not a Christian attitude, and it does not evoke Christian attitudes of response in me.

But I still need to get this manuscript formatted. Fives days of struggle and counting.


2012 November 12 -- Electioneering, Part 2

Somebody told me that the gas prices always drop just before an election when the oil barons want the current President re-elected. I guess it worked. Obama's foolish energy policies are a form of taxing the poor and helping the rich, and they obviously know it. When energy costs go up, profits go up proportionately -- for no additional effort. It's "free money," the kind of benefits Obama and his cronies only promise to the poor, but actually give to the rich. But the "47%" will believe any and every lie the President and his super-PAC media friends tell them. The oil barons can afford advisors who know what they are doing, so they know the truth.

I see the gas prices fell a couple more cents after the election. Maybe the rich oil barons don't want it to be so obvious that they manipulated the election for their own benefit and profit. I don't drive much, so gas prices don't affect me (this year).

I'm more worried about Iran. With Neville Chamberlain (aka Obama) elected to four more years of "more of the same," World War III now looms ominously in the Middle East. Obama still doesn't know what he's doing, and he has slowly gotten rid of the military people who do. Maybe I shouldn't worry. There are no military targets here in the heartland, so all the Islamist (and maybe Chinese or N.Korean) nukes will take out eastern (and maybe western) coastal cities, blue states all of them. Then we will once again have a shot at a President who knows what he's doing (or at least how to appoint advisors who do).

The American people chose for President the devil they know over the devil they don't, but they also voted for gridlock. I hope House Speaker John Boehner understands that and doesn't disappoint us.

2012 November 7 -- Persecution

I always thought it strange that Jesus promised his followers persecution, but I didn't get any. Maybe that's about to change. The American people have elected to a second term the President with a track record of more hostility to people of faith than any other President in USA history.

The same voters elected "gridlock" to Congress and I hope Congress does what the American people voted them into office to do -- which is nothing at all. For a short while, Chief Justice Roberts can also hold things back. If he wants to.

I still live in a country that more people want into than out. The USA is so far ahead of whatever is in second place, Obama will have a tough go at taking us down to second or third place, despite his best efforts to do so. I know, he means well, he just doesn't know what he's doing. The same was probably also true of the leadership that took the richest country in Africa down to poorest in the world in one generation. Welcome to the United States of Zimbabwe.

God is Good. God is Great. It's hard to remember that in times like these, but I must.

2012 November 6 -- Electioneering

I was astonished to see the turnabout in this week's TIME magazine. The cover features "the choice" and offers advice to encourage you to vote for Romney or -- turn the magazine upside-down so the trademark red border is now blue -- for Obama, respectively by separate essayists. The astonishment came from the fact that the guy they had shilling for Romney was lucid and persuasive (unless your mind is already made up), while the guy who argued for Obama had nothing substantive at all to say, just a partisan whine about partisanship and a repeat of Obama's 2008 bogus promise to rule from the center. Maybe left-wing touchy-feelies go for that kind of nonsense. Of course neither writer is associated with their candidate's campaign, as far as I can tell, they're just doing their "super-PAC" (free speech) thing. I'm guessing that TIME editors figured that the campaign is over, so it doesn't matter if Obama looks bad now.

That's the impression I also got from the other tiny text link on the front cover with an arrow pointing to the "undecided" sliver between the red and blue circles. It referred to the near-back-page regular column by the guy who imagines himself humorous. In this week's column he reported pretending to be undecided and seeing how hard the two electioneering teams would court him. Both of them put trackers on him -- they don't do that to me, I do not allow viruses in my browser -- but nobody offered any hassle (targeted ads). So he commissioned a couple of agencies involved in that kind of stuff (in one case doing it, in the other protecting people from it for a fee) to find out why. They both reported what kinds of demographics they were able to turn up on him, and how that was solid evidence he would vote for Obama. I could have told you that just from the magazine he writes for. Or even just from the fact that he's a writer who never worked at creating wealth.

2012 November 5 -- Giving Thanks

Every year about this time, people start gearing up for the holiday season. My local grocery store had nine different tasting stations promoting various offerings like soy eggnog. And the parachurch ministries all try to run a feature based on thanksgiving.

Most pastors and people fresh out of Bible college or seminary have only marginal Biblical literacy. So in November we often see pontifications about 1Thes.5:18, how the great Apostle Paul teaches us to "give thanks in everything" and not for everything [their emphasis], which completely ignores Eph.5:20, where the same Apostle clearly tells us to "give thanks for everything." I got a chuckle out of the current Acts&Facts from ICR, because on p.21 the founder's grandson and namesake prattled on with the usual "in, not for" nonsense, and on the very next page the original Henry Morris gave us a homily from the Ephesian version. It would seem that the younger fellow (whose responsibility is milking the donors) is not reading his grandfather's writing, nor even the publication his employer sends out to donors. He's not the only one at ICR with foot-in-mouth disease.

Oh, I almost forgot, this is about "giving thanks," so I'm thankful that ICR is not the only ministry promoting the truth about origins, and that the truth is out there even if you don't have silly professionals ignorantly promoting it. I can find it even on the atheist websites -- but it helps to know how to look 

2012 November 3 -- God Did It

ChristianityToday tries very hard to be a voice for all evangelicals, both the "fundamentalists" (in the modern sense, theological hard-liners) and the more "liberal" (again in its modern sense, less accepting of the narrow traditional teachings of Scripture) among us, insisting only on what used to be called "fundamentals" (the doctrines deemed not to be compromised: the Inerrancy of Scripture, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, his Atonement and physical Resurrection and eventual Second Coming, and the obligation on the Church to evangelize), and have thus been more "liberal" in the dictionary sense of the word (open and accepting of all ideas). I can't fault their mission, but it does make strange bedfellows. Their political coverage is balanced between Republican and Democrat agendas to a fault. Three months ago they ran a not-quite-balanced article on fiat creation vs "creation by evolution." And they regularly quote from their own feminist "her.meneutics" blog (I have seen no evidence that they support a complementary complementarian blog).

Carolyn Arends is the token female columnist in ChristianityToday, a necessary bone they throw to the feminists in an otherwise male-dominated profession. It's not like she has anything better to say than the guys, but she's a she, and she's willing to do it. That's important for the appearnace of balance in an "unfair" world.

This month Arends argues against Creationism, not because "there's consensus in the scientific community regarding the age of the earth and the importance of genetic variation," which I take to be a covert acceptance of the evolutionary dogma, "but it's actually been biblical scholarship that has convinced" her. She's a musician, not a scientist nor theologian. She's also a Canadian, and the church in Canada is weak and under assault by the government in ways that Obama is only trying to do here in the USA. Nobody is telling her the truth about Genesis or the true science, and she has no way to know if they were.

I feel badly for her 14-year-old son, who, she wrote, was planning to go to a Christian university to escape being told he "descended from apes," and has now been dissuaded from that lofty (if somewhat futile, because even many Christian colleges are corrupt) goal, and is now easy pickings for the atheists. Far too many young people are diverted from faith because we are not teaching them the truth. Yes, God did it, as the title of her column in CT proclaims, but God also told us how long it took, and the true science has not yet contradicted that. True facts of science are not determined by majority vote. But the atheists control the funding, so scientists cannot tell us the whole truth about the actual science without losing their jobs, as Robert Gentry learned the hard way.

2012 November 2 -- Chinese Junk

My sister is writing this cookbook, and -- silly me! -- I promised to prepare her text for publication. Modern electronic publication means one must prepare the documents on a computer, right? And I'm a computer expert, right? I'm not so sure about that one any more...

We need pictures of the prepared dishes, and probably also of some of the steps to prepare them. I partly paid for my college education by photography, so I also know something about photography. I have a nice Leica camera for taking high quality pictures, and the local Wal-Mart still seems to develop film, about $10 per roll. I guessed it might take ten rolls of film, which would be $100 for just the developing, plus the cost of the film. For $100 I could instead buy any of a half-dozen different digital cameras, and (presumably) transfer the images directly to the computer without the hassle of getting film developed and the images scanned. I saw Sony and Olympus and Nikon and Samsung cameras in the same price range. I would never buy a Sony electronic product that involves connection to any computer, because they have a history of installing pernicious viruses on customer computers, and when confronted, refused to eschew the habit. That means they intend to do it again. Not on my computer. There was not much information available in the store, and Wal-Mart doesn't pay their clerks enough for them to become competent, so I wrote down model numbers and Googled the specs. Olympus did not have specifications available on their website, so I could not know if it would do my job. The Nikon specifications were very detailed and helpful. The Samsung specifications were even more precise and detailed, and the camera was $20 cheaper, so that was my preference, but it was sold out. I guess other people preferred it too. I bought the Nikon.

I turned it on and it seemed to take a picture, but none of the computers I have would recognize it when I pugged it into the USB port. At least my Mac was polite enough to say so; Windoze and (obviously) OSX did the unixy thing and said nothing at all about the failure. The previous digital camera I bought, I could just plug it into the PC and upload the images just fine, no installation required. But it was a low-end model with no focus ability, and besides, it stopped working six months after I bought it. "Chinese junk" used to refer to a sailing vessel, now it refers to the quality of products made in a certain country. I was disappointed to see that the Japanese camera I had just bought was also Chinese junk. It really is!

So I dug out the installer disc and ran it. It wanted the internet, which that computer is not connected to. It said it succeeded, but evidently did nothing. After an hour on the Nikon 1-800 phone help line, they concluded that I need to call the Mac support people. In other words, Chinese junk. I did wheedle out of them the URL for the downloadable installer on their website, but they were trained only in the virus-enhanced operation of their website, so I had to figure out how to download it myself.

I succeeded, and the downloaded installer actually worked, where the version on the CD that came with the camera failed. The CD installer EULA denied me permission to use the images it copied commercially, but that's the only reason for buying this camera. It's also the reason I avoid intallers. The downloaded installer has no such restriction. The CD said that it too was made in China. Chinese junk.

The test picture I transferred to the computer turned out to be rather low quality JPEG. I did not find any way to choose a different format in the camera, and the little book that came with the camera said almost nothing. There was a second CD with a PDF "Reference Manual" but "PDF" generally stands for "Pretty Darn Foolish" and it was chaotic and I couldn't find any useful information in it. Chinese junk.

I still wish I could have bought the Korean camera. sigh

2012 October 22 -- Atheism Poisons Everything

It was a gripping movie, memorable for several reasons, including that it made the DVD player in my Wintel PC hiccup (a tiny icon on the cover suggests that abuse is intentional) so I had to play it on the "Old Stupid Former" (OSX) computer. Anyway, the background music near the front and at the end was "Navy Hymn" done with orchestra and choir. The words were partly lost under the music, but I got these words from the Navy website:
Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.
They ended the stanza with a traditional "Amen" -- again, the word was muddy, but the chords were unmistakable. It's a nice hymn, and it fills people with warm fuzzies in times of danger at sea, which this movie was about. Whoever chose the music for this flick used it well.

One nice thing about watching movies at home is that I can skip over the uninteresting credits -- usually several pages of rock songs I don't like, and more recently pages and pages of digital animators among the "key grip" and "foley artist" and caterers and such. The "special thanks" is more interesting, because it often indirectly tells where it was filmed (like "British Columbia Film Board" but not this time). This movie played a familiar portion of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, so I watched for these two songs in the credits. The Navy Hymn was conspicuous in its absence. That was astonishing, so I backed it up and looked again, pausing carefully for each song. And again. Nothing. Beethoven's sonata was there, but not the Navy Hymn.

Christopher Hitchens is wrong. Religion doesn't poison everything, atheism poisons everything. A tiny minority of atheists in this country have so intimidated the moviemakers that they are unwilling to give credit to one song that properly gives honor to the God of the sea. The hymn is in the public domain, about the same age as Moonlight Sonata, but Beethoven was not praising God. That same terrorism motivated the publisher of my book to drop out part of the text.

Atheism poisons everything.

Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance. Psa.82:6


2012 October 15 -- Light at the End of the Tunnel

Today for the first time I have reason to hope the madness in the WhiteHouse might end sooner rather than later.

I was talking to somebody today who voted for Obama four years ago, and even campaigned for him. Earlier this year she told me she thought socialism was a good thing (I bit my tongue the first two times she said that, and she didn't say it a third time), but today she refused to tell me who she will be voting for next month. That was after lamenting the evil in this nation. She still does not want to vote for a Mormon, but even more she does not want to vote for homosexual marriage. She didn't say that, and she didn't want to say it, but Obama lost her vote. She is her own person, not a demographic, but she is not alone.

Y'all already know that Obama doesn't want my vote (see "Why Does Obama Hate Me?"). If he alienates enough people, there's hope that we can get this country turned around.

2012 October 13 -- Sending People to Hell

Another book in the stack my friend loaned me is God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens. I'm still working my way through it, and my review is only partial at this time, but one of the themes he repeats over and over is the eagerness that people of faith have to consign their opponents to Hell. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Hell is the place God has lovingly prepared for people who do not want Jesus Christ to reign over them. God is not there, and His people are not there doing Good, so it's not a nice place. God and His people are still in the world and in the USA doing Good today, so this is not a good picture of what Hell would be like without us. Think instead of North Korea. Nobody goes to Hell who wants to be in Heaven doing only Good. There is no third option.

My Bible reading today includes Psalm 73, in which Asaph sees the apparent comfort and success of the wicked. Then he contemplates their ultimate destination. Jesus said of them, "They have their reward." This is as good as it gets for them. They built their happiness on the backs of good people doing good, but God is Just and Good, and the downtrodden who look to God for rescue will receive it in far greater measure than their unhappiness here and now. Those who do not want God's Goodness will also get what they ask for, but it won't be fun. There is no third option.


2012 October 6 -- The Harbinger

My friend offered a stack of books on loan. He called particular attention to a "novel" and wanted my opinion. Here it is. I use the word "novel" in quotes because it's really a sermon. Or maybe a novelization of a sermon. It's very repetitive, very preachy. Sermons are like that. Novels are not.

The author blurb describes Jonathan Cahn as the leader of "a worship center made up of Jew and Gentile" in New Jersey. One of the testimonials inside the front cover calls him a rabbi, and you wouldn't know otherwise until you got more than 90% of the way through, where a clear invitation to confess faith in Jesus is given. All but two of the Bible quotes are from the Old Testament, and one of the two New Testament quotes (both near the end) is not footnoted; you had to know it. That's not all bad, but from a Christian perspective, building a message of doom for America from the Old Testament alone seems to have theological problems. Jesus Christ [in the New Testament] is the final revelation of God to us.

Nevertheless, Cahn has done an awesome job of getting the mystical numbers to line up. His two-line forward says "what is contained within the story is real." Endnotes identify sources for most of the quotations. I don't have the resources to check most of them, but the notes add credibility. What I did look up was true. Except for the fictionalized seals.

I regularly read Biblical Archeology Review, so I know something about the subject. Ancient Hebrew seals are pressed in mud (he got that part right), but they are less than an inch in diameter and the mud is not baked, so they are very fragile. Cohn's initial seal was two inches in diameter [p.6] and mailed to the main character (with no return address? After 9/11? The Post Office would have refused to accept and to deliver it), and he carried it around in his pocket for weeks. A real 500BC seal would have crumbled into dust from the stress. But on p.243 his prophet character tells him this is an actual seal from Jeremiah's personal scribe. The seals are not the story, they are an invented vehicle to carry the 9/11 coincidences (I use the word literally, to mean things that match, not to mean accidents), astonishing dates and places that line up the 9/11 event to an ancient Biblical prophecy.

For example -- I checked this out -- St.Paul's Chapel in New York City was constructed ten years before the American Revolution, and was one of the few buildings not burned down by the British during that war. Immediately after his inaguration, George Washington walked a short distance to St.Paul's, where he and all of Congress prayed for God's blessing on the new nation. That same church is across the street from Ground Zero, but was undamaged by the debris. Instead, a sycamore tree in the church yard took the fallout and was knocked over. It was subsequently replaced by an evergreen tree in a eerie reprise of Isaiah 9:10, "The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the sycamores have been felled, but we will replace them with [evergreens]." Most of the book repeats different national leaders quoting this one verse in defiance of 9/11, just as Israel originally used the same words in defiance of God's judgment.

The prophetic message of the book is not a bad message: Repent! God still wants all people everywhere to repent. Now is a good time to start. Eleven years ago would have been a better time to repent, but better late than never. Israel did not repent, as Isaiah reported in the verse, and were subsequently destroyed and never heard from again. Our national leadership -- including not just the Party now in power, which has made sin the cornerstone of their platform, but also the other Party which has implicitly done the same thing (with different sins), and also the influential leaders of the media and shapers of public opinion -- are moving in the wrong direction. God could indeed destroy this nation in our lifetime.



2012 October 3 -- Getting Men into the Church through Apologetics

Last Saturday the Dallas-area Watermark church hosted a conference on Apologetics. The speakers were good, and they promised to make the videos available on their website (delayed, so as to honor the fees paid by attendees).

One short video clip was awesome. I have for a decade or more been explaining the problem of evil in terms of "God doesn't want robots" and there it was in the video! I had never seen it explained that way before, but obviously I wasn't the only one to come up with that defense. Besides, the video is far more concise and well-done than my puny efforts. You can watch the video on YouTube, or (if your internet connection like mine is too slow to view streaming video) you can download a .mp4 file for offline viewing. Trying to locate these links, I was searching for the "problem of evil" and learned that personal freedom does not answer all the objections, but it's a good start, and the rest are not hard (ask me if you care).

Incidental to the content of this conference was the demographics. Watermark seats maybe 3000, more than 3/4 full, and there were very few women! The regular church service the next morning was also at least as many men as women. This is very unusual in American churches (I explain why in my postings on Relationshipism, which is a largely female value). Apologetics is about Truth, which is a Thinker value. Men are predominantly Thinkers, so when you teach apologetics and Truth and Justice, you attract men. This is the Christianity that Jesus and Paul taught. It is taught at Watermark. It should be taught everywhere.

Listen up, pastors!

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2012 October 2 -- Disenfranchisement

Five weeks from today, some people will hold their nose and vote for Romney,  some people will hold their nose and vote for Obama, and some people will just hold their nose. Too bad there's nobody worth voting for on the ballot.

I was in a hotel room a couple days ago, and (not having a working TV of my own, nor anything it could receive without stutters and hiccups) I surfed the channels a little, until I happened on what appeared to be Fox News. It's hard telling, because there are no channel indications except for a couple seconds while you are looking at something else. I stopped watching CNN on campus back when I had access several years back, because the left-wing bigotry was so obnoxious (like TIME magazine, except you can't turn the page past it). Fox, however, spent the whole evening talking about Romney's campaign with words more affirming than the usual left-wing bigotry I see in the rest of the media.

Finally, the guy who appeared to be the anchor asked his guest point blank who he was supporting. The guy made a face and said something like "I can't stand Obama."

"OK, that's who you are against. Who do you favor?"

Pause. Then again, "I can't stand Obama."

I can't say I blame him. Six months ago I said that a vote for Romney in the primaries is a vote for Obama in November. That has not changed.

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