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Archive for November, 2010

Original Name: the Fender “Stick and Board”

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Telecaster Thoughts

I tried to get my garage cleaned up enough so I could work on a Telecaster body. It took me an hour and a half to do about 30% of the job. I guess you could say I let the place get away from me.

My big problem is that I work until I’m tired, which means I don’t set time and energy aside for cleanup. It’s sort of like swimming out to sea until you feel like swimming back. By that time, you’re too far out to make it home.

I do not understand Telecasters at all. It’s a board and a stick. It’s not even a pretty, curvy board like a Les Paul. It looks like a half-eaten popsicle, and what is the story with that stupid little headstock? It looks like Leo Fender ruined his original design by slipping with the router and then carved the current crappy design in order to save the neck he was working on. On top of all that, the Telecaster has only two pots. You can’t adjust the pickups independently! In spite of all of this, the guitar plays anything you want it to, it feels good in your hands, and it exudes kitschy American style.

When it comes to style, sometimes I like to try to imagine what Mickey Rourke would choose. This is one reason why I wear French cuffs with sportcoats and blazers. It’s one reason I bought a Thunderbird instead of a Boxster. I think Mickey Rourke would probably go with a semi-restored circa-1960 Cadillac, but I’m not made of money.

If Mickey Rourke could play the guitar, I think he’d pick a Gretsch, a Telecaster, or an ES345. Either that or a tobacco burst Les Paul that had been used as a murder weapon.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to get a slab put together for a guitar body. I’m shooting for bookmatched walnut, and if I can pull it off, I’ll inlay lighter-colored strips of some other wood around the edges.

You’re Not on the List

Friday, November 26th, 2010

“But I’m With the Band!”

I got some interesting insights into God’s mind this week. I hope they came from him and not me.

I feel like God uses my dealings with other people to teach me what his life is like. This is a fairly obvious thing. For example, God gives us children and makes us participate in creation so we can understand what it’s like to try to teach and improve people, and what it means to love someone more than you love yourself.

I’ve noticed that there are times when people do things for me, in a way that is not a blessing. They come up with ideas that seem good to them, and they go forward with them, even if I discourage them. They may put in a lot of time or money or effort, and then I get the result, and they expect me to be thrilled and to reciprocate, and of course, I am not thrilled, and I do not reciprocate. What they’re doing is not generous. It’s manipulation. They do it for themselves, not me. There is a certain amount of love in it, but it’s buried in selfishness and stubbornness.

I don’t feel guilty about refusing to get sucked into the game, or about hurting their feelings. Sometimes you need to have your feelings hurt, and if it doesn’t happen, you’re actually cheated. Christianity is not about being nice. It never was.

Seems like God uses these people to teach me how he feels when we do what we want, in his name. I believe this is what “taking the Lord’s name in vain” means.

Jesus said people would come to him–probably at the Rapture–and point to the things they had done for him, and he would tell them to get lost, because he had never “known” them. They would not be permitted to attend the wedding feast in heaven; instead, they would have to suffer the Tribulation.

The word “know” means “know” the way men know their wives in the Bible. Presumably, he meant the wedding rejects had never become joined to him as parts of the Body of Christ, executing his will instead of their own. A man and woman are supposed to be one flesh. Christians are supposed to be united with Jesus, as his flesh on earth. If you’re off doing things he didn’t tell you to do, you’re like Dr. Strangelove’s arm, doing things the owner does not intend.

Jesus made it clear it was possible to do amazing things, using supernatural power, without pleasing him. He said people would point to worthless miracles they had done in his name. Apparently, you can get divine power before you get divine righteousness. Isn’t that always the way life goes? The legal driving age in most states is 16. Enough said.

We’re supposed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and we’re supposed to be cleansed of demons and filled with supernatural righteousness. I think that’s how it works. Jesus got baptized with the Holy Spirit, and he immediately went out and fasted to clear the demons out. Satan himself showed up to tempt him, and Jesus persevered and overcame, and Satan fled. After that, Jesus began using God’s power and doing great things.

It may sound crazy to suggest Jesus had demons assigned to influence him, but of course, it must be true. The Bible says he was tempted as we are, in all ways, and we know demons are assigned to tempt us. They give us addictions and bad attitudes. They drive us to act impulsively. They whisper corrupt thoughts into our minds. Surely Jesus had the same problem. In fact, this is proven conclusively by the appearance of Satan during the fast. Presumably, after 40 days, all of his underlings had given up, and Satan had to go in person to hit Jesus with the heaviest artillery he had.

The prison-like habits and tendencies demons get us to take up are called “iniquities” in the Bible. A sin is an act. An iniquity is a chronic thing. You can prevent a discrete sin by an act of will, but getting rid of iniquities requires supernatural power, which is why we have to fast and pray.

What did Jesus call the people who did false works in his name? “Workers of iniquity.” They were not clean. They were under the influences of demons and the flesh, and they obeyed those influences. An evil influence may tell you to build an orphanage for Jesus, when you’re really supposed to write a book. It may tell you to work a flashy miracle when you’re supposed to stand back and pray. It may tell you to give money to a bum who actually needs to starve until he agrees to go to rehab and repent. It may tell you to build a giant, shiny church and ordain homosexuals and write books about self-esteem and positive thinking, and you may become a millionaire many times over, and when you meet up with Jesus, you may learn that you might as well have been running a brothel.

This is why the church has done so many evil things. People serve demons and the flesh, thinking they serve Jesus. They work iniquity. If Jesus accepted their works, he would be serving Satan. The workers of iniquity are led by Satan, and they do works that please him, so if Jesus goes along with it, he himself serves Satan. That is not possible, so he rejects them.

It makes perfect sense. We are supposed to be the Bride of Christ, and those who are faithful (not all Christians) are to be spared the Tribulation so they can attend the holy wedding feast in heaven. If you serve iniquity, you are unfaithful, like a cheating fiancee. Over and over, even in the Old Testament, those who turn from God’s voice are compared to unfaithful wives. Look at Hosea’s wife. We are supposed to be one with Jesus, as a man and woman are one. Three’s a crowd. You can’t marry Satan and Jesus.

It’s a sobering concept. If it’s correct, most Christians are wasting their time (that part seems indisputable), and they will be left behind in the Rapture. Then they will have to suffer unspeakable persecution, as well as martyrdom. Probably at the hands of Muslims and “progressive” Christians.

I truly believe this is correct. It’s a natural extension of things I’ve learned from Perry Stone and Robert Morris, and it makes sense of scripture, and I didn’t sit down and figure it out. It came to me. Had it been the result of study and conjecture, I would have much less reason to think it was sound. Revelation does not come from the puny human mind. The Bible itself says only the Holy Spirit explains scripture.

In other news, I already received the router templates I ordered, so today I am going to try to work on building a Telecaster clone. I have to joint and plane some walnut and put it together with Titebond and clamps. I think I’ll get a crummy piece of pine for router practice, to use while the walnut sets up.

Yesterday I realized I have already found uses for the upper part of the 24-fret neck on my Telecaster, and I will not be able to reach that area when I play my Les Paul and 335 clones. That’s important knowledge. I didn’t realize upper neck access would be so important to me. I thought those extra frets were a novelty. Now I’m wondering if I can build a double cutaway Telecaster, to make neck access even better. If you look at the design of the Telecaster, you will see why some people think a DC design lacks solidity. Maybe glue would solve the problem. I know of no reason why you can’t combine screws and glue. Matsumoku did it when they made Gibson clones.

Hope this works. It should be tremendous fun, and I think it’s fairly easy, as woodworking projects go.

I’ve Bean Busy

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Delicacy

I got my cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and pumpkin pies made. I stuck a new ingredient in the relish, and it made a huge difference. I think it’s new, although knowing me, I may have done the same thing last year.

I have two pones of cornbread mashed up in a pot with sage, salt, pepper, fried onions, too much butter, and some other stuff. It’s so good I could eat it right now, cold and wet though it is.

I decided to use some of my precious shucky beans. I grew these a few years back and dried them myself.

These will be incredible. If you’ve never had them, go get some fresh green beans, remove the strings, dry them strung on threads, and cook them in a few months. These will soak overnight, and then tomorrow I’ll toss the water, replace it, add salt pork, and simmer them.

What a joy it is to have shucky beans on hand! I probably have the only shucky beans within 800 miles.

I thought Thanksgiving would be boring, but it’s starting to look like it will be a fantastic meal.

Water, Water Everywhere

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Youthful Stupidity is Not Cheap

This week I got depressed. That’s interesting, because it’s something that almost never happens to me.

I spent the first thirty years of my life depressed. My family was dysfunctional, and my childhood was pure misery, and it took me decades to outgrow the habit of depression. I still think of childhood as a prison; if I had to choose one thing for which I’m most grateful, other than my relationship with God, it would be my adult status. I have never gotten over the thrill of adulthood’s freedoms. I don’t have to ask people for money. I can get in my truck or on a plane and go anywhere I want. I don’t have to worry about older adults threatening to beat me up. I don’t have to deal with sadistic teachers any more. If someone makes my life unpleasant, I cut them off and never speak to them again. There is nothing like being an adult.

Maybe we feel the same way when we leave the earth behind.

I think my status as a perennially depressed person ended when I started law school. A career in law wasn’t exciting, and law school was fairly dull, but I had a lot of friends, and I had something to do with my time, and things went reasonably well. Since then, I have never been depressed for more than a day or two.

I got depressed this week because my father invited me out for a drink and then started nagging me about getting married.

You have to understand the history. My mother was a wonderful woman, and when she met my dad, she decided he was IT. He may think he caught her, but the truth is, she caught him. I believe this is usually the case in marriages. Men don’t like to admit it, because it ruins their reputations as ladies’ men, but we are much less picky than women, and women usually end up deciding whether a marriage is going to take place. Men like to think they set their romantic goals and achieve them, and that’s probably true when it comes to casual sex, but when it comes to marriage, women make the decisions. I know there are exceptions, and pride will drive men to dispute it, but the rule seems solid.

My dad was in his twenties, and God dropped a great wife on him without requiring any diligence on his part. As a result, he does not understand that life is not like that for all of us. Asking him about romance is like asking Lindsay Lohan about making money. He landed a great lady early without any real effort, so he thinks it works that way for the whole world.

The Bible says a good wife comes from God, not from your own effort. And it will not always happen on your schedule. According to the Jews, even Isaac, who was highly blessed, did not find a wife until he was middle-aged. Some fine people never marry, and it’s not because they didn’t try. There are some things in this life you can’t control completely, and finding a mate is one of them. You can play the field and then settle; to that extent, you have control. But if you’re hoping for a real blessing, it’s like waiting for rain. God supplies it when he feels like it. And the biggest factor in his timing is your progress as a Christian.

If I had stayed close to God back in the 1980s, when I started attending church and changing my life, I would surely have found a wife long ago. But I stepped outside the flow of blessings and into the domain of the enemy, and I got the kind of wages enemies pay. I accept that. Like all human beings, I was born an idiot, and idiots suffer until they recover from idiocy.

God is repairing my life now, but it is not an instantaneous process, and I am not going to saddle myself with an awful woman just because I’m getting old. I enjoy life tremendously, and there is nothing that can match a woman’s potential to cause misery. I am not going to try to force a blessing.

I didn’t enjoy being reminded that I had frittered away my youth. Ordinarily, I don’t think much about it, but parents have a way of pushing buttons. So I was down for a couple of days. I wasn’t looking for a bridge to jump off of, but I’m ordinarily very happy, so two or three mildy gloomy days have a big impact on my perception of my life.

It’s particularly upsetting to get this kind of speech, given the choices my dad would make for me. He means well, but he tries to fix me up with cocktail waitresses and cashiers. He used to try to fix me up with his paralegals. Anyone he thinks is good looking will do.

This highlights the magnitude of the blessing he received when he found my mother. He could have married some sleazy woman who saw him purely as a meal ticket. God blessed him, pure and simple. I could have a wife next week, if a cocktail waitress was what I wanted. And before you start lecturing me, I’m not referring to a nice Christian girl who had no choice but to serve drinks for a living. That should be obvious to any intelligent person.

My church is full of nice women, but most of them are black, and only a small percentage of black women are willing to marry outside their race. A lot of the women at my church are young, and while a woman should be no older than her husband, I feel a little odd talking to women in their twenties. Quite honestly, I always think, “This girl would be cheating herself.” Some of the women in my church are too old to have kids. That rules them out; I don’t care how nice they are in other ways. I’m not closing that door. It may seem unfair, since it means I won’t date a woman my own age, but then I didn’t make the rules of biology, and I won’t be held accountable for them. God put Ruth and Boaz together, after all. I don’t know of any Biblical stories of young men marrying old women. Feminism is a modern conceit; it has nothing to do with reality.

There are also women who already have kids. There are a couple of problems with this. First, I am not a kid person. I know I would love children of my own, but I don’t like being around other people’s kids all that much, except for really good kids, for short periods of time. And women with kids tend to be overly eager to get remarried, partly for financial reasons, and that causes problems. Second problem: being injected into a prefab family complete with a family court judge, a hostile adult male, and two sets of in-laws does not appeal to me.

Psalm 37:4 says God will give us the desires of our hearts. I have seen that happening to me, and I know it applies to all aspects of life. I’m not going to wreck it by making a desperate lifeboat-style grab for a wife. I have a wonderful life as a single man. Why would I trade that for a miserable life with a woman who was unattractive or unpleasant or lacking in faith? God will provide, or he won’t. I keep my eyes open, and I will make the effort, but I know the difference between carnality and spirituality, and I am not going to let my flesh run the show.

I don’t know if my church will provide a solution. I’ve only met one woman who seemed to have potential, and she’s young, and there are other issues.

I’ll say this for my church: for young people, it’s a marriage factory. I’ve seen a number of great young people get hitched there, and some are also developing good careers. They’re so lucky. They have stayed within God’s protection, and they are getting blessed early in life. Hopefully they won’t have to go through the chastisement and droughts people like me go through.

In other news, I’m planning to build a guitar. I found out how easy it is to build Telecaster clones. A factory neck is a necessity, unless you’re a skilled woodworker, but anyone who can run a router can make a body, and you can get perfect results and great control, without spending much. A Fender American Standard sells for $1000; for that kind of money, you could build the finest Telecaster known to man.

I’d like to make a guitar with a bookmatched walnut top. I already have the wood. I want humbucker-sized pickups and a Bigsby. Truthfully, it would be a Les Paul in a Telecaster shape. It’s very hard to build a Les Paul, and a Telecaster-type guitar would do the same things.

Telecasters are amazing. A Telecaster is a stick and a board, and it only has two pots, but it can still have an incredible action, great responsiveness, and all sorts of wonderful tones.

I’d like to play slide blues, and you need a guitar with a fairly high action for that, and I don’t want to dedicate any of my existing guitars to it, so building seems like a good way to go. For $500, I can make something wonderful. We’ll see what happens.

Last night I had a playing breakthrough. I keep studying theory and scales and whatever, and so far it has led nowhere. I had some ideas for “Sweet Home Chicago,” so I started working on it with no real plan, and before I knew it, I had a complete solo.

This tells me I may be able to do what “natural musicians” do. That would sure be a nice shortcut. Some people play and compose beautifully without getting into theory, and if I could do that, it would make life a lot more satisfying while the theory studies progress.

I know of several ways to approach the guitar. One is to sit around studying theory and scales. Another is to memorize other people’s arrangements note for note and go from there. Another is to hear arrangements in my head and try to write them down in tablature form. Last night I realized there’s a simpler way: just pick the guitar up and play. This is probably how B.B. King did it. I think I can guarantee you it’s how John Lee Hooker did it, because he played whatever he wanted, all the time, and he complained that he had no freedom when he worked with bands.

While I was working with the guitar, I realized I was getting to know the fretboard instinctively: which notes worked and which didn’t. I was finding positions to use. That stuff could be very useful. So from now on I plan to spend a certain amount of time every day, just PLAYING. I think it will work. One of the things I hated about the piano was that I practiced and practiced, but I never played.

I have to go make cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and two pumpkin pies now. Happy Thanksgiving.

Get me the Sackcloth

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Tragedy

I can’t believe this. I can’t find my recipe for blueberry cornbread.

Heavy Theology

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Put Those Twinkies Behind You

I always worry that I don’t do enough to give God his glory. It’s very dangerous to fail to credit God (before others) when you get an obvious blessing.

Here’s something I want people to know. Mike went on an Armorbearer Freedom Fast with me a few months back. He weighed 335 pounds, and it was all due to overeating. Mike loves food even more than I do.

As of the weekend, he was down to 288. Like me, he is not dieting, nor is he losing weight through exercise. It’s grace. A miracle. He hasn’t been this thin in years.

So far, maybe six or seven people have done the AB fast with me, and only one got the miracle. One of my armorbearer buddies wants to do it in a week or two. I hope he gets it too.

I suspect that attitude has a lot to do with it. If you don’t admit gluttony is a sin, like looking at pornography or shooting heroin, and you don’t admit you eat too much, you probably won’t get anywhere. That’s my best guess, based on my understanding of God and the scriptures. And of course, faith is a necessity.

This is a very big deal; obesity and gluttony are terrible curses, and it’s wonderful to see a person get true, lasting freedom. Mike and I are “free, indeed,” as the Bible puts it. I hope others get free, too. God is both powerful and generous.

One of the big frustrations of Christianity is seeing God’s power in your own life yet being unable to help other people get the same good things. I think the biggest obstacle is refusal to listen. When I hear about someone who got a blessing I need, I try to do what they did, so I can get the same thing. I am trying to soften the block of cement which is my skull, so I can learn good things from successful Christians. I’ve gotten a few really good things. I want to pass them on. I also want good things others have gotten.

Too bad Christian development isn’t a force-feeding process. We’d all be free.

Give fasting a shot if you have an addiction.

Shake That Dust Off

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Or be Buried Under It

Sometimes God teaches us in the weirdest ways.

What is God’s work like? It’s like this: he makes great plans for us. He prepares big blessings for us. He brings them to us. And we turn them down. Then he withdraws while we fumble around and waste our lives. He remains with us, but he limits what he does for us, because to endorse what we do would adversely affect his own perfect nature.

Okay. That’s the background.

I joined a church. I started working as an armorbearer. I started working on books with the pastor. I started working in the kitchen.

The book projects disappeared after a new PR exec was hired. I was driven out of the kitchen after a new kitchen manager was hired. I still work as an armorbearer, but I have learned that the good things I want to do in that capacity will be very limited, so I am maintaining a reduced role.

It’s a little crazy. I’m a published author with a literary agent and a lot of ability, and I work fast, and I was willing to work for nothing. As to the kitchen, I was making the church $200 per week, and I could have earned them a lot more, and my food got raves. But I could not get permission to do the good things I wanted to do.

Yesterday I realized God was showing me what his life is like.

God has all sorts of blessings in store for us, waiting like fleets of shrink-wrapped Rolls-Royces in hidden warehouses. He wants to shower us with them. He wants to give us great careers, wonderful spouses, healthy families, and intimate relationships with him. He wants to turn us into powerful warriors who are able to harness the same might that built the galaxies. He wants us to see our prayers answered. He wants to work miracles through us. He wants to make tumors vanish. He wants to raise our dead.

And we say, “No, thanks! We have a better idea!”

I tried to bless my church, but I hit resistance, and now I have to sit back and do nothing, even though I still want to be a blessing.

Blessing a Christian, even for another Christian, is like trying to feed an angry baby. Even if you get the spoon in, they spit the food all over the kitchen. You can only succeed where God has chosen and prepared the field of battle in advance. You can only succeed when he has given you flesh and spirit allies. And you can only succeed where people are willing to shut up and accept the blessing.

You see this demonstrated over and over in the Bible. God had a great idea, but Eve thought she had a better one, and the result was a long-lasting curse on all mankind. God had a great idea, but the rebellious angels thought they had a better one, so they interbred with humans and gave us forbidden technology, and the result was the flood. God had a great idea, but the ten spies thought they had a better one, and the result was that hundreds of thousands of people died in the desert, a few miles from the Promised Land. The prophets brought the Jews great ideas from God, and the Jews thought they had better ideas, so they murdered them. God gave the great idea of undeserved power and help to the Christian church, and we decided we had a better idea: we would get God’s help by being good, without the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The result was two thousand years of impotence before Satan, who has ruled as a god even though he lost his title at the crucifixion.

We were supposed to raise the dead and cast out demons and heal the sick. By and large, we have failed. Miracles became so rare in the early centuries of Christianity that people began traveling to places like Lourdes because they could not get help in their own churches. We now have a Catholic church that gives the official title of “saint” to a person who performs three measly miracles! That’s ridiculous! Every Christian should see more miracles than that, every year!

We are weak and blind and poor and lame, as supernatural beings, because we preferred our own brilliant notions to God’s tired old plans.

Before the Jews existed, men rejected Yahweh. The Jews came along, and they rejected Jesus. Christians came along, and we rejected the Holy Spirit. We are no better than the people we gloat over. We are pathetic. We have no humility. We think we’re superior to our predecessors, but we’re as blind as everyone who came before us. It’s like I always say: if Jesus came back today, we would trample each other trying to be first in line to crucify him.

If Jesus came back right now, he would tell us (as he did two thousand years ago) that he came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit. He would tell us it was essential to our growth and success. He would tell us to pray in tongues, worship, pray with our understanding, praise God, fast, and study. He would tell us to quit worrying so much about doing good and worry about BECOMING good, through the Holy Spirit’s transforming power. And we would tell him he was crazy, because we like to think we can earn our blessings. Jesus was crucified two thousand years ago so he could give us power and help through our faith, and we still want him to give us what we earn by our own effort, and we think that’s more righteous than being given things we don’t deserve. We think God helps those who helps themselves, but that’s not in the Bible. That’s pure pride. That’s Satan talking. God helps those who believe and obey in their hearts.

Did Lazarus earn his resurrection? Did the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda earn his legs back? Find me a person in the New Testament who received a healing because he or she obeyed the law. The most blessed person in the New Testament was Cornelius, and he got God’s attention by praying, giving to the poor, and fearing God, not by approaching perfection under his own power. He was a Roman soldier! He made a living ordering people to kill other people! God saved him and all his house, and he poured the Holy Spirit into them. Meanwhile, many of the religious Jews studied the scriptures all day and tithed on the worthless crap they grew in their herb gardens, and God blew right by them.

Jesus burns with desire to give us power and blessings we can’t deserve, and we are determined to get by with the garbage (Paul called it “dung”) we get by our own strength.

Read the Bible. I’m not making it up. See what Paul said about earning salvation and blessings. It can’t be done.

One of the things I wrestle with as a Christian is the issue of giving up on other people. I’ve heard all sorts of testimonies about Christians who struggled for decades with sinners, trying to get them to change. After years of abuse, they finally saw results. Glory to God. But are we supposed to behave that way? I don’t think so. God doesn’t behave that way.

God told the disciples that when they were rejected in a town, they should shake the dust off their shoes and leave. God removed Lot’s family from Sodom and Gomorrah and drowned those cities in burning sulphur. God killed Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts. God destroyed the temple in Jerusalem twice. The doctrine of unlimited patience seems inconsistent with the Bible. If God himself doesn’t abide by it, why should we?

I think you show patience until you realize you’re wasting your time (which belongs to God), and then you move on. You continue to pray, but you reduce your earthly involvement. Otherwise, you end up endorsing stubbornness and rebellion, and your own character becomes corrupted. Repeated failure leads to learned helplessness, and after that, backsliding is inevitable.

Paul said more or less the same thing. He mentioned a man who slept with his father’s concubine. Paul didn’t just abandon this man; he turned him over to Satan so his body could be destroyed and the punishment would drive him to repent. What if Paul came back and did that today? Christians would shriek at him. You’re supposed to embrace EVERYBODY, ALL THE TIME! INCLUDE, INCLUDE, INCLUDE! Turn the other cheek! Imagine a multimillionaire TV evangelist telling Satan to come get somebody! It will never happen.

I’m sorry, but I side with Paul. You give people a reasonable amount of time and effort, and then you cut them off and let them fail. Otherwise, you’re an enabler. You’re helping Satan prevent them from growing up.

There is a dangerous idea spreading in churches: you are not supposed to say anything negative. Find that in the Bible for me. Read the prophets. Their writings were corrective, not laudatory. God didn’t raise prophets up to say, “Way to GO, Jews!” He raised them up to let people know they were headed off cliffs. Jesus himself was very, very negative much of the time. He whipped the moneychangers. He called the Judaism of the Pharisees “the synagogue of Satan.” He ridiculed the rabbis publicly. He even called Peter “Satan.”

Without criticism, there is no growth. The inexpressible value of criticism is the sole reason God wants us to be humble. A humble person will accept criticism and improve. A proud person will be like a clay jar that has been fired with flaws uncorrected. His neck, like the neck of the finished jar, will be stiff, and he will only be fit for the garbage dump. Hell is full of positive thinkers.

Find me a happy prophet who doesn’t criticize. I don’t mean a lying weasel who travels from church to church receiving big offerings for telling pastors what they want to hear. I mean a prophet in the Bible. There isn’t a single example. It’s even reflected in our language. Look up the word “jeremiad,” which was named for Jeremiah. It doesn’t mean “pep talk.” And you might be aware that one of the Bible’s prophetic books is called “Lamentations.” Find me the book of Congratulations. I must have overlooked it.

Gossip is wrong. Complaining with no godly purpose is wrong. But warning people isn’t merely right; it’s a commandment. God himself told us we would bear the sins of people we did not correct. Whom should I listen to? God, or itinerant Pastor Happy McFeelgood?

It’s right to offer constructive criticism, and it’s right to avoid getting overly entangled in situations you can’t fix. Imagine if Moses had stayed in Egypt and tried to reform the Pharaohs. He would have died there in obscurity, and his mission would have gone unfulfilled.

I believe God is telling me to respect my mortality and my limitations. Even with God behind me, there is a limit to what I will accomplish in this world, and I have to be a good steward of my time and effort. I am supposed to be helpful and patient and hardworking. I am supposed to pray for people (although sometimes that means praying God will discipline them). I am not supposed to get sucked into black holes that consume my valuable days and waste my faith and wreck my morale.

I am going to die. I’m pretty old already, and I don’t have that much time left to do God’s will. I have to allot my time and effort correctly, as led by the Holy Spirit. Stewardship principles apply to everything; it’s not just about money. The world is full of needy people who will listen to me and let me help them. Should I ignore them while I spin my tires with the stubborn? How will I explain that at the judgment seat?

If it annoys people that I say what I say, so be it. Find me a prophet who didn’t annoy people. Man-pleasing is one of the worst sins. We are told to take up our crosses, and that we will be persecuted (largely by other Christians). That tells me that it’s inevitable that plain-speaking Christians will anger other people. Big deal. Other people are puny, and they will die. The one I am trying to please will live forever, and he has infinite power to defend and reward.

I think I understand this lesson correctly, and I am grateful for it. I wish I were not so slow to learn, but there it is.

Now, if anyone wants to scourge me or put me in a cistern, I would appreciate it if they would call and make an appointment.

Prayer for Family Friend

Friday, November 19th, 2010

No One Else Can Help

Today a family friend is taking my father and me to lunch. This guy’s family has been devastated by one tragedy after another. I hope you will join me in praying that God uses this occasion to bring him into the kingdom where he can get some help.

American Pizzeria

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Who Says Math Won’t Help You as an Adult?

I got a comment today after I wrote about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, and how learning about it gave me new interest in selling pizza. Look at one of the first comments I got! I think it’s intended as advice for me, and that’s how I’m reacting to it. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just a general observation.

“Running a restaurant is not fun. I have seen wonderful restaurants fail and lousy restaurants fail.”

He makes it sound as if it’s all totally random! It doesn’t matter whether you know what you’re doing! You have no control, therefore no reasonable hope of success! Of course, that’s not how it is. If life were like that, there would be no point in trying to do anything, ever.

He may have seen wonderful restaurants fail, but he has never seen well-run restaurants in good markets fail. Businesses don’t fail for no reason. Somewhere down the line, someone has to make a mistake.

It’s an interesting comment. It shows why Dunning-Kruger happens! It’s a generalization, from the experiences of a lot of people who may be completely different from me. I shouldn’t see it as applicable to me and let it discourage me.

Let’s face it. Most restaurateurs can’t cook, have no idea how to manage money, have no starting capital, and know nothing about pleasing customers. That eliminates 80% of the competition right from the start.

Making a blanket statement about the misery and likelihood of failure in the food business is like saying motorcycles are dangerous. Start with the injury figures from cars and motorcycles, and things look pretty bad. Then eliminate the idiots who ride like maniacs and have no training. Suddenly, the disparity is WAY smaller. Motorcycle riding, like restaurant operation, draws risk-takers who ride aggressively and don’t plan, and those people suffer a higher number of casualties. Sift them out, and you get a more realistic picture of the inherent dangers of the machinery. Motorcycles will always be more dangerous than cars, but idiots skew the statistics, and the nature of the sport draws idiots like flies.

If I sold pizza, I would be up against a lot of people who are just as lost as Mr. Trobiani (the guy Gordon Ramsay couldn’t help). If I were in that demographic, I would already have started a restaurant and lost it. I would have picked a bad location, paid too much rent, cooked a wide variety of bad dishes, provided very poor service, tried to do too much, and failed to research the market. Those people don’t agonize about starting businesses. They rush in and, like Mr. Trobiani and his girlfriend’s parents, lose their homes and retirement money. Do I seem remotely like that? If so, why am I not selling pizza already?

I make pretty amazing food. I can afford to start a place. I have a basic understanding of customer relations. I know how to cook in an institutional setting. I live in an area where the pizza situation is a seller’s market, because there are almost no good pizzerias. And I’m smart enough to figure out Quickbooks and get help from the SBA and CORE and the Chamber of Commerce. I would not be competing against Mr. Trobiani. He competed against (and destroyed) himself; the restaurateurs in his area never harmed him at all. He never reached the point where the effects of external competitors rose anywhere near the level of his own self-destructive behavior. I would not be fighting people like him. I would be competing with people who have a real product and at least a little bit of common sense. That’s a much smaller segment of the population.

People love to tell me [secondhand] stories about the difficulties of running a restaurant. It’s inapposite, because I have no interest in that. You have to be crazy to run a restaurant; three fourths of it is expensive, time-consuming theater. I want to run a pizzeria, which is more like a convenience store with an oven. It’s basically catering, except that people come to you to get the food.

I worked at a Domino’s. Believe me, it’s not the same as running a restaurant. You have no wait staff, no linens, a very short menu, no dishwashing, limited equipment…it’s nothing like a real restaurant. My idea is pizza, rolls, and cheesecake, with no expensive alcohol license. You can’t compare that to employing ten waiters plus bus staff, bartenders, and so on, with a long menu and linens and china. I really don’t know how true restaurants survive. It seems like a very stupid business model, when you can cut out a huge percentage of the expenses and work and sell just as much food.

It reminds me of the difference between the shows American Pickers and Pawn Stars.

On American Pickers, two guys drive a van all over the US. They pay hotels and restaurants. They root through barns and attics, buying junk they haul back to a showroom. They have a full-time employee who works the showroom. Sometimes they go hours without finding anything good. Very often, they spend two hours at a “find,” and they end up spending $500 on a pile of junk they hope to sell for maybe $1000. A lawyer who had to divide $500 per day with a partner would starve. It seems highly unlikely that they make decent money purely from the business we see them do on the show.

On Pawn Stars, two principals have a fixed location. They have a large base of customers in the city where they work. People burn their own gas bringing them things that have already been selected for their value. The pawnbrokers offer them only as much as they think will allow them to make a profit. Then they resell.

The pawnbrokers have a big staff, which is expensive. On the other hand, they have dozens of people who come in every hour, and the shop is open around the clock. They’re constantly buying and selling. Their business appears to do very well. They drive nice vehicles. They pay their staff. They have no problem coming up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

Who would you rather be? I think the pickers are insane. The pawnbrokers have a base of thousands of people who do for them what the pickers do for themselves. They sit and wait, and money comes to them, and it comes from foolish people who are already motivated to sell at or below wholesale. It’s amazing. People will come in and take half price for things instead of putting them on Ebay, and sometimes the discounts run into the thousands of dollars, and no one complains! It’s legal! No wonder the business thrives and supports a lot of people.

It seems to me that a pizzeria compares to a restaurant the way the pawnbrokers compare to the pickers. The math is better. More money in, less time and money out. This is probably why there are so many fast food millionaires.

The only thing that prevents me from selling pizza, really, is the knowledge that marketing is a huge part of the job. Some pizzerias get successful because of word of mouth, but pizzeria owners tell me promotion is the most important thing. Apparently, even if your pizza is excellent, you have to sell it the same way the bad pizzerias do. As if it were a commodity, no different from Domino’s garbage.

I cook well. I am willing to work. My judgment is reasonably good. But I am not a marketer.

Nonetheless, I think reading about Dunning-Kruger has been very beneficial. I’m glad I found out about it.

Nightmare Comes to an End

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Not an Improvement, Unfortunately

I don’t watch much food TV. It’s misleading, and there is a feedback problem associated with the foodie establishment. Foodies can be very narrow-minded about anything that comes from outside their little realm. They seem to suffer from NIH syndrome, and I think TV makes it worse.

Nonetheless, last night I checked out Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. I loved it. Sometimes I dream of opening a pizzeria, but I don’t have the know-how that comes from experience, and Kitchen Nightmares provides a lot of insight. So far, it has confirmed what I already knew: training is no substitute for talent and common sense.

Last night he worked on a place in New York. The owner–this is unbelievable–was about 25 when he convinced his girlfriend’s parents to invest everything they had in an Italian restaurant…in a city full of Italian restaurants. Seriously, you have to be a fire-eating risk-taker to invest in ANY restaurant, but imagine handing your money over to a kid who has never run a place. He hadn’t even worked in an Italian restaurant. These poor people. They tried to do something good for their daughter and future son-in-law, but their actions were–there is no other way to describe it–extremely stupid.

The kid was beyond belief. He was extremely arrogant and refused to take advice. Mind you, this was a person who was in the process of impoverishing two old people who were trying to help him. I have to wonder if he’s a sociopath. How can anyone be that ungrateful? Maybe I’ve forgotten what a moron I was at that age.

Here’s a list of things Ramsay found:

1. The kitchen (the kitchen these people bought for him) was so filthy, it wasn’t fit for operation. It was disgusting, and the kid said CLEANING IT WAS THE STAFF’S JOB. We’re talking about HIS OWN KITCHEN. He thought the staff was in charge. Never mind the people who sacrificed to buy it for him. Words fail me.

2. The food was bad. Evidently, this boy had no idea what he was doing, yet at the same time, he was so abnormally confident in his abilities, he was sure the food was excellent. Ramsay used the word “hideous” to describe it.

3. He never tasted his own food! Surely they made that part up. No chef is that stupid. It’s like trying to play an instrument you can’t hear. Only an idiot would try it.

Ramsay practically had to mud-wrestle this kid just to get him to take suggestions. I would have left after half an hour. In fact, Ramsay did leave, but the kid managed to get him to return.

Human incompetence is so deep and so amazing, it is hard to maintain an understanding of how complete and pervasive it is. It’s natural to assume people aren’t utter fools. But many of them are. They say 90% of new restaurants fail. Maybe guys like this account for a lot of that.

They cleaned up the kitchen, and Ramsay just plain GAVE him new recipes. Then they tried to run the place for a night. The kid refused to taste the food, even after people sent it back! Some folks are determined to fail, regardless of what you do for them.

They finally redecorated the place at the BBC’s expense, and Ramsay even gave the kid an engagement ring for his girlfriend. I had always heard that Ramsay was a jerk, but he came across like a saint last night. The renewed restaurant did well that night. I wonder how it’s doing today. My guess is that a week of spoon-feeding didn’t do the trick. Ramsay gave him detox. What he needed was long-term rehab.

I wonder if Google will tell me what happened to the restaurant.

Oh, no! It was seized for failure to pay taxes! Unbelievable. That kid is either going to jail or setting out on a lifetime of working at places like T.G.I. Friday’s. What happened to the parents? I feel so bad for them.

I know this: it will be a long time before someone buys him another restaurant.

I wonder what the other episodes are like.

Is Jesus the Antimohammed?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

His Marks are in the Wrong Places!

I had a funny thought this week.

What if the Antichrist has already been born and died, and his name was Mohammed?

Sound crazy? Think about it.

The Antichrist is a warped copy of the actual Christ. That means there should be similarities. Here’s a big one: the fundamental purpose served by Jesus Christ was to save people and baptize them with the Holy Spirit so they would become like him and do as he did, “infecting” the world and undermining Satan’s kingdom. Sort of like Agent Smith in The Matrix Reloaded.

What did Mohammed do? He created a Satanic religion, and then, like Jesus, he left the earth. Like the followers of Jesus, the followers of Mohammed slowly increased in numbers, and they came to control more and more of the world’s population.

In some ways, Islam is the opposite or negation of Christianity. Accepting Mohammed prevents you from receiving salvation. It prevents you from being baptized with the Holy Spirit. It assures that you will not become like Jesus or serve him. In fact, it is likely to cause you to persecute Christians and Christianity, as well as Jews and Judaism. True Islam requires the persecution of all unbelievers.

As you progress as a Christian, you become less fleshly. Your character improves. You shed things like selfishness and greed and gluttony. Your final reward is to go to a place where you are free from fleshly drives and you can live an enlightened life in true righteousness.

What happens when you progress as a Muslim? Okay, you go to hell. I guess I should be clearer. What are you told will happen as you progress as a Muslim? If you manage to win salvation (killing Jews and Christians is the surest method, according to Islam), you go to a place where all of your fleshly, crass desires are sated continually. You get 72 virgins, all the food you can eat, beautiful young boys, and lots of wine. Basically, you spend eternity living a lot like a hog. If you want to see a good imitation of Islamic paradise, read up on Hugh Hefner’s private life.

Islam promises to cause people to become degenerate, sort of the way Christianity causes them to improve.

A modern clergyman who calls himself a prophet claims the Antichrist will not be a single individual. He says the term actually refers to a people. Maybe it works like this:

1. Jesus was the Christ.

2. Mohammed was the Antichrist.

3. Christians are the body of Christ.

4. Muslims are the body of the Antichrist.

Jesus has always identified with his people. The Old Testament called him Israel. Jesus said that when we do certain things to others, we do them to him. Maybe the Antichrist is the same way. Maybe the term “Antichrist” can refer to Mohammed and also to the body of people who follow him.

Perry Stone suspects that the Catholic Church will eventually venerate Mary so excessively that she will replace Jesus, and the Muslims will get on board, and in the end, they’ll form a religion that serves the Beast. It’s an interesting idea. There are already Catholics who consider Mary a sort of co-savior.

Prophecy is a funny thing. It’s full of metaphors, so you have to be careful not to take things literally when it’s not appropriate. It’s even worse than that. Sometimes a Bible verse is true literally and also metaphorically. The Jews recognize three levels of meaning in the Bible. Anyway, the fact that the Bible calls the Antichrist a man may not necessarily mean he’s only one individual. The Bible calls Israel a fig tree. It calls Satan the Prince of Tyre. God deliberately made the Bible confusing so Satan and ungodly people would not be able to understand it. You can’t hope to understand it until you’re baptized with the Holy Spirit, and even then, you only get as much understanding as God thinks you need.

The term “Antichrist” may apply to more things than we know. There is a great spirit–Satan–for whom the term is probably most apt. Then there are the host of spirits who constantly persecute and work to exterminate Christians and Jews. They are an antichrist force. And then there is the human being we all expect to see one day, and there are lesser antichrists, like Hitler. I don’t know if I’d get all hung up, trying to drop the label on a single individual. But it may be that Mohammed is the best fit.

Muslims are turning out to be good at Antichrist-like accomplishments. We all wonder how the Antichrist will make people put marks on their hands or foreheads so they will be able to buy or sell. You would expect people to resist that. But look what they’ve done at our airports. They’ve manipulated us into posing publicly for nude pictures and allowing strangers to feel our genitals. That’s pretty impressive. If they can do that, maybe Islam can find a way to put the infamous marks on us. Over sixty years ago, the antichrist effort got Jews and other Nazi prisoners to strip naked in large mixed-gender groups, as if it were perfectly normal, and it managed to get Jews to get tattooed, which is forbidden by halacha. Getting us to mark ourselves should not be hard. Maybe it will have something to do with computer hackers making the money supply unsafe.

Maybe Muslims will bring the rapture about. Maybe it will be a wave of executions. The Bible says we’ll meet Christ in the air, but does it say how we’ll get there? Somehow I can’t see millions of people disappearing without explanation. A sign that powerful seems unlike God; he likes to leave room for faith, and an event that spectacular might make his existence extremely obvious. But I can imagine an epidemic of beheadings, poisonings, and shootings, performed by a new religion that has the world convinced that Christians and Jews are all that stand between the human race and peace and progress. We are already a stench in the nostrils of Europeans and American liberals. I could see them rejecting boring traditional religions, joining a trendy new cult, and marching us to the killing fields. People who don’t have the Holy Spirit inside them are wide open to crazy influences. Look at the Germans and Austrians. They were highly cultured, accomplished people, yet they tried to exterminate the Jews and gypsies.

Maybe the rapture will be the result of a new Kristallnacht.

It’s probably a mistake to sit around scanning the horizon for a flashy new worldwide celebrity with “The Antichrist” tattooed on his forehead. The antichrist process is already at work. It was at work in Eden, when Cain killed Abel. It was at work in Egypt, when Ramses tried to kill off the Jewish messiah (small M) Moses. The battle is already taking place. If we wait for the appearance of the Antichrist to slap us in the face, we’ll probably fail to notice a lot of his work.

I suppose I should leave this kind of speculation to people who are willing to study the Bible very closely, but I can’t help thinking about it.

16 Tones

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Talent = Pedals

Today I picked up my J200 from the luthier. I haven’t tried it yet. I bought a new PEDAL on the way home! Every electric guitarist knows practice and talent mean nothing; it’s all in the pedals. So I buy a new one about every ten minutes. Today I chose a Fulltone Plimsoul.

This thing is amazing. I wanted to get a tone that sounded hot, without losing all the treble grit. I tried a Way Huge Fat Sandwich, and it’s great, but the distortion is so powerful you can’t always get it to work with your guitars. I tried a Way Huge Pork Loin, and it has some nice sounds, but it tends to kill the treble. Today I’m trying a Fulltone Plimsoul, and it does EVERYTHING well.

This is supposedly an improvement on the Fulltone OCD, which is a respected overdrive pedal. The neat thing about the Plimsoul is that it has two independently adjustable overdrive stages. One is fairly soft (no treble edge), and the other is harder. You can get a nice warm sound using the first stage, and then you can sharpen up the edge with the second. When I do this, I can play slow blues with my neck pickup, and I get a big, fat, round sound that’s still so hot it makes you feel like you just opened the oven door.

I’m also using a “new” guitar: my old American Roadhouse Strat. I love this thing, but it’s been put away, because I put elevens on it, and I wasn’t ready for them. Changing string gauges on a Strat is a pain, because you have to adjust the springs on the trem bar. Lighter strings lower the bridge, and you have to bring it back up.

The Roadhouse Strat is not all that popular. I don’t know why. I love it. It has three Texas Special pickups, which are hot-sounding single-coils. They used to make a Texas something or other Strat that had a humbucker at the bridge, and I think that was more popular, but I think the Roadhouse is fantastic. It has tremendous clarity, heat, and responsiveness, and you can hear it through a brick wall, so it would probably sound good right through a band.

I thought the Strat might be what made the pedal sound good, so I plugged in my magical Chinese Epiphone Riviera, and it sounded exactly the way I’ve been wanting it to for weeks. I can actually hear the individual notes on “Sweet Home Chicago.”

One thing I didn’t expect: I can get even more tones by using the Plimsoul and my Way Huge Pork Loin and Fat Sandwich, in various combinations. I feel like I finally have a little control over my sound.

I showed the Chinese Epiphone to my luthier, and he admitted the neck was a thing of wonder. Are they all this good? He had a Chinese Les Paul on his lap when I came in, and he didn’t seem too excited about it. He seemed to think the Riviera (and presumably other 335 clones) were designed better. If that’s true, it’s time for people to run out and get Epiphone 335 clones before the Chinese screw them up. You may hate the pickups, but for $200, you can have any pickups you want.

Here’s something funny: he plays an Eastman. This is a Chinese guitar made by a company known for violins. Obviously, a luthier sees a lot of instruments, and he knows what’s good. When he played the Epiphone, he said for a minute, he almost felt like he was playing the Eastman. That was his way of saying it had a great action.

I no longer have any excuse for buying electric guitars. I have seven now, and they’re all at least very good, and four are wonderful. I’d love to have an Epiphone Casino, but they’re fully hollow, so I would expect a lot of feedback. The Riviera is great, but I think the third pickup is pointless. I guess I could rewire it with the middle pickup cut out of the system.

I talked to the lead guitarist from my church, and here is what I gathered: the CAGED system I have been busting my rear end studying is pretty useless unless you know theory first. Great news. There has to be a way to “get inside” the guitar without selling your soul to the devil, but I have not found it yet. My technique is getting better, but technique is useless if you can’t sight-read, improvise, and write music. I may have to break down and take lessons. Maybe I should find a jazz instructor. I am not really interested in jazz, but I figure a jazz player can handle anything the blues has to offer.

I finally have equipment good enough to not drive me insane, so I guess I can think more about woodshedding and study. It’s hard to think about those things when your tone or the bad actions on your instruments are making you climb the walls. I know I’m picky, because I can’t make myself leave the truss rod covers on any of my guitars except my Taylor, my Fenders, and my Epiphone. Those guitars always seem ready to go, but when the others move a couple of thousandths one way or the other, I notice it right away, and it’s very distracting. I think the Historys and the Burny will be okay as I home in on the right setups, but the Gibson Blueshawk will probably always be a little crazy, because it wasn’t made all that well.

You can’t blame Gibson for making guitars with wavy necks. After all, they don’t have the advantages of half-trained Chinese labor and a $500 price point.

Back to practicing.

Don’t Tread on Me, but Grope me if You Must

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

The Price of Dignity: One Boarding Pass

Back when George Bush was President, it was a gigantic invasion of our civil rights when the TSA asked us to take off our shoes. At least that’s what many prominent liberals told us. Then Obama got elected, and Jim Carville said it was okay with him if the TSA measured his genitals. Not that there is a double standard, mind you.

I used to make fun of the people who complained about taking their shoes off at airports. No one really feels violated when forced to remove his or her shoes. The fuss was actually about George Bush and the left’s irrational hatred of him. But now screeners take naked pictures of us, squeeze women’s breasts, and feel our genitals with the palms of their hands. They do it to men, boys, old ladies and little girls. In front of the general public.

That’s different.

This is the kind of thing the Bill of Rights was written to prevent. If you think otherwise, you are probably very stupid. At best, you are ignorant of history. The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to prevent government excesses. We were fleeing British tyranny, and the crown had a long record of torturing, confiscating property, performing unreasonable searches, prosecuting people without trials, and so on. We wanted to prevent our government from doing these things to us, so we drafted the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.

We didn’t write them so they only applied to life-threatening government action. We included minor inconveniences. If you were to write a trivial blog post the government didn’t like, and the government were to make you delete it, that would be a minor inconvenience. Such governmental action is absolutely illegal, however. The cops can’t pull random cars over for fifteen seconds each and search their glove compartments without warrants, even if it might save lives. They can’t come to your house and take fifty cents from your piggy bank, without a legal basis. If you and ten friends are hanging out at the mall, having a good time, the cops can’t come and tell you to disperse. Small things. Completely illegal.

The Bill of Rights was not written just to keep you from being thrown in jail or executed or impoverished. It was also written to force the government to be polite. That is no exaggeration. So when the government demands the right to photograph or feel your vagina or scrotum, even for a few seconds, it ought to have a very good reason. And there is considerable doubt as to whether the TSA has good reasons for doing these things. The Israelis don’t do them, and their air safety record is second to none.

The sad truth is that it’s better for a few hundred people to die in midair explosions than for an entire nation to submit to sexual abuse. If that sounds crazy, think about the things our soldiers die for all the time. They die so we can have blogs. They die so we can have pornography. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have died to protect things that seem relatively trivial. And we are no better than our soldiers. We ought to be willing to face the same risks they face, in order to protect basic civil liberties. In fact, by refusing to be photographed naked and groped, we would face a much smaller risk, or no risk at all (judging by Israel’s experience), since soldiers are much more likely to be harmed than civilians, even in an atmosphere of terrorism. We don’t have to be nearly as brave as our soldiers. We just have to have a little tiny bit of bravery. But we apparently don’t have it.

We don’t have the advantage our ancestors had. We have no memory of a government that forced us to board soldiers in our homes or punished people by drawing and quartering. We don’t recall what it was like to live under the Sedition Act. So the new incursions on our liberty don’t remind us of a painful past. No! To many of us, they seem innovative! Clever! Rational!

It would be no different if we were asked to give up other liberties. If we gave up the Fourth Amendment’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure, hundreds of thousands of violent criminals would be jailed within a year. Our streets would be safer; there is no doubt about it. If we gave up the Sixth Amendment right to confront our accusers, all sorts of terrified crime victims would be encouraged to come forward, and again, prosecution rates would soar. If we reduced defendants’ rights across the board, a dramatic national cleansing would result. The bodies of dead children would be recovered. Fortunes would be restored to crime victims. Adults kidnapped as children would meet their real parents for the first time.

You can almost always get something very good by giving up something precious. So what? Who wants to live like that? If that’s how we feel, why not go ahead and turn our military cemeteries into public urinals? What did we spend those lives for?

I am writing this because I just read about John Tyner’s TSA experience. He refused to have his genitals grabbed by TSA screeners, and they forced him to miss a flight. They even manufactured a bogus lawsuit threat, ordering him to leave the airport and then telling him he would be fined and sued if he obeyed. They acted the way threatened bureaucrats always act. The way the Founding Fathers had seen colonial bureaucrats act, prior to the Constitutional Congress.

One commenter on Tyner’s blog said he was making a big fuss over a brief grope. Here is what another commenter said: “Anonymous 3:22: it probably seemed excessive for Rosa Parks to risk arrest over a bus seat.”

Exactly. I guarantee you, there were people who said Rosa Parks was crazy. All she had to do was sit in the back of the bus. She would have arrived at her destination at the same time as the white people up front. She wasn’t even required to let a stranger feel her breasts. But she was right. Dignity matters. A good deal of the Bill of Rights exists purely to protect our dignity. And dignity is exactly what we gave up when we agreed to be photographed naked and allow TSA agents to handle our children’s crotches.

Ask yourself if George Washington would have let the TSA feel up Martha.

Liberals like to tell us “slippery slope” arguments are nonsense, but of course, that’s wrong. The Jews in Germany and Austria lost their rights incrementally. We went from a modest Social Security system to a bankrupt socialist ponzi scheme incrementally. The “slippery slope” concept exists because it has been proven right, time and again. We are seeing it now, in our airports. If you will let a stranger palm your wife’s crotch, what exactly would it take to offend you?

Just blow me up. Really. Kill me. Today. How bad can death be? I am not that scared of it. I ride motorcycles. I’ve flown in private planes. The other day I ate tomato sauce from a dubious can, just because I didn’t want to drive to the store. I’m not that scared of death. A low risk of death is preferable to certain repeated humiliation.

If you think things are bad now, wait until the first rectum bomb goes off on a plane. I guarantee you, most Americans will gladly submit to random rectal exams. When we reach that point, consider me grounded. Eventually, you have to put a firm price on your dignity. I don’t like the idea of being molested just so I can have a short vacation, and when they reach the stage where they’re looking inside anuses and vaginas, there will be no destination I consider sufficiently tempting. Seriously, if I offered you a ticket to California in exchange for letting me sodomize you, would you go for it?

I’ve always been like this. When I was in college, I thought fraternities were disgusting because they made young men strip naked and perform in gay rites.

I can’t wait to see what the next “necessary” violation will be. I don’t think Americans have the guts to stand up to the TSA, so I think the abusive searches will continue, and that will encourage the government, and they’ll go ahead and make things worse.

John Tyner is an inspiration. I don’t have a tenth of the character he has. People like John Tyner are our only hope of an acceptable quality of life in the future. Let the commenters criticize him. Capos criticized people who resisted the Nazis, and history passed judgment. History will be very kind to our John Tyners. It always has.

Pray for Mike

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Take up Arms

Mike got a weight loss miracle from God, and now his body is under a mysterious attack his doctors can’t understand. I am trying to get him to find a church and get serious about fighting back. Please pray for him.

Pork Afterglow

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Somebody Talk me Down

The other day I realized I had lots of homemade pork sausage in the freezer, and I needed to start eating it. It’s over a year old.

Here’s what I had for dinner tonight. It’s BISCUITS AND GRAVY AND HOMEMADE PORK SAUSAGE! It was incredible. I finished like an hour ago, and about every five minutes I hear myself say, “MAN, that was good.”

I do not understand my own cooking. Some of it is over the top, and some of it, like the biscuits and gravy, is very understated. What could be more understated than a biscuit? Sometimes I do something insane, like the whole stuffed pig covered in sage and apricot sauce, and other times I try to make something very ordinary, so well that it’s still exciting. You would think I would go one way or the other.

MAN, that was good.

Sorry.

This batch of sausage isn’t all that high in fat, so I had to add a spoonful of lard to the grease in order make the gravy. And I made the biscuits with a mix of bacon grease and butter, just to see what would happen. I also messed with the leavening and added a teaspoon of sugar, figuring there is almost nothing a teaspoon of sugar won’t help.

MAN…never mind.

I guess I’ll be reliving that meal until I go to bed. To me, there are two things that tell me when I’ve got a good recipe. First, I can’t quit eating it. Second, after it’s gone, I sit and think about it for at least two hours.

Why did this happen to me? Obviously, God has dropped a gift on me. What am I supposed to do with it?