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Archive for April, 2011

Senility Attacks

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Sorry

Forgot to post this. It’s from Heather.

Mom has to have stent replacement surgery later this morning(don’t have a set time yet, hospital will be calling me). She had both stents replaced in March, but the left one has gotten blocked and is causing the left kidney to be swollen. Hopefully this will help her kidneys to heal. Please keep her in your prayers for a successful procedure and recovery.
Thank you & God Bless,
Heather Page

That was on the 27th. At least you can pray for her recovery.

Elegant Electronic Design

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out, Bang & Olufsen

Here’s what I have so far on the Firefly amp.

I still have to put handles and feet on everything, smooth out the speaker cabinet, and paint everything. But it works right now.

I’m amazed at how loud it is. I can’t turn it all the way up because of feedback. It won’t make you deaf, like a 5-watt amp. But it’s loud enough to make the neighbors mad, if they’re outdoors.

The next project will have to be a Murder One amp. This is a less powerful design, and it’s the size of a pedal.

I like the Firefly, but it’s a little dark. It’s supposed to sound like a Marshall, and if the Marshall/Fender comparisons I’ve seen are any guide, that means somewhat tinny. I think I prefer the Fender sound. Of course, I don’t know how to get it.

This project took considerable work. One of my friends from church wants me to make him a Fender Super Reverb clone. That’s a huge amp, but it would be way easier, because there would be no fabrication. In fact, it’s barely fit to be called “building.” You just put the parts together.

Let’s see. Soon I’ll be playing an amp I made, through a cabinet I made, using a guitar I made. Weird.

Creeping Up on Adequate

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Guitar Improvement

Five days ago I posted a cheesy recording of me, playing the intro to “I Know a Little” on a Telecaster. I had just gotten it sort of together, and it was really shaky. But I was thrilled I knew it well enough to play it. Here it is.

I Know a Little, With Marv as Background Vocalist

Today I decided to post a new recording I just made. It shows what you can learn in five days. I played it on a Strat, which is very annoying to work with, because the volume knob is in the way of the picking hand. Still, it’s way smoother and more competent than the first recording. I think I should be on top of this by the end of May.

I Know a Little, played on Strat.

That’s actually not so bad. Working on one piece for weeks sounds awful, but this is a very hard bit to play. As fast as it is, it’s only up to 80% of the album speed, and there are slides and stretches and other difficult things in there. The triplets come in at about 260 beats per minute, and they’re flatpicked, one at a time.

One of the hard passages has been smoothed out completely. The others are improving fast. I’m even getting a little more swing, as the piece gets easier to play. It’s hard to think about music when you’re terrified of missing a note or getting lost.

Today I decided to check out my Greg Koch instructional DVD to see what he could do to help me. In my memory, his playing was right on target, so I figured he might have some tips. I was shocked when I watched his demo. He’s not even close. He can really play, but he’s way off on “I Know a Little.” Maybe the work I’ve done since I bought the DVD has changed my ability to hear the music correctly. I’m going to be able to play this better than he does. Apart from that, however, I will still basically be a wart on a germ on a flea on Greg Koch’s rear end.

This is pretty exciting. Someone else might listen to these recordings and hear only hopeless crap, but I know how fast I’m making progress, and I can tell where I’m headed. I’m going to be able to play blues guitar well. What a relief.

The Best Defense is no Offense

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Or Something

I got more input on the “seven blessings of Passover” thing. Aaron chimed in and pointed out a few things. Here is one comment:

Each festival has its own offering with minor variations. Passover initiates the omer offering which is done daily until Shavuot. Whether Shavuot is a “major” offering versus other festivals isn’t clear. It’s “first fruits”. Never heard of an offering where volume was a factor. The most sacrifices were during Sukkot, but that was because there were sacrifices by Jewish priests on behalf of other nations as well as the Jews.

There were freewill offerings, but there is no linkage to volume.

Some offerings differed upon the means of the person making an offering, reducing an expensive animal to an inexpensive dove or even a handful of grain.

Also:

Ultimately, even in a time where there is no Temple, the prophet Daniel proves that sacrifices and even a Temple aren’t necessary for a connection to G-d.

Hosea 14:3 “Take with you words, and return unto the LORD; say unto Him: ‘Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is good; so will we render for bullocks the offering of our lips.’”

Sacrifices are an exercise in the process of tshuvah. They are not the primary focus or goal of Jewish scripture.

I suppose a Christian could jump up and say I shouldn’t listen to a Jew and overrule a Christian. The fatal problem with that argument is that the seven blessings doctrine purports to be based on Jewish practice, so Jews are the ultimate authorities. Jews did not believe in seven special offering-related blessings at Passover or Yom Kippur, so the doctrine can’t be right.

The whole idea of giving monstrous offerings in order to get God’s favor is dubious. Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden was light; it’s hard to reconcile that with giving away your kids’ college money. I recall Aaron telling me that Jews think it’s generally a bad idea to give away more than 20% of your increase, and that makes sense to me, barring some sort of miraculous command delivered by an angel. You have a responsibility to avoid becoming dependent on others, which is what happens when you impoverish yourself.

The whole “give to get” gospel is a problem. It does not work. Churches are full of people who give and don’t get! We keep hearing that our miracles are just around the corner, but…they’re not! We don’t see huge numbers of Christians raking in large sums of cash as a result of tithing and giving offers. If the “give to get” message were true, there would be Christian billionaires all over the place, and people would be trampling each other to get to churches so they could join up and get rich.

I want to be careful. I am positive God rewards charity right here on earth; he promised to do this in the Psalms, and I have seen it happen. I also believe God rewards people who tithe and give offerings. The promise in the book of Malachi probably reflects a principle that applies to Christians as well as ancient Jews. But I do not believe God gives money to people who can’t handle it, and I don’t believe you can force God to give you great wealth. And I don’t think you have to give extravagantly, except in unusual circumstances.

If you have a good job, a house, money to pay for good things, no debts, you enjoy life, and things go well for you, you’re prosperous. That’s a fantastic standard of living. I think God provides these things to people who are generous and who seek his kingdom first. There is a lot of scriptural evidence for that. But I don’t think God wants everyone to have a helipad and a castle, nor do I believe you have to give yourself into poverty in order to give God an opportunity to rescue you.

I’m also disturbed that preachers encourage people to give borrowed money to God when they can’t pay their debts. I’m disturbed that preachers don’t criticize covetousness and overspending. I’m disturbed that preachers don’t caution people not to give money they should be spending on their families or the poor.

As I understand it, the Jews believed you had to do right by man in order to get favor from God, so if you were a deadbeat, or if you were stingy with everyone but God, your offerings would be rejected. I know someone who gave stolen money to ministries. And I know there are millions of deadbeat, spendthrift Christians who put donations on their credit cards. I’m sure there are millions of Christians who give money to ministries while neglecting the poor, simply because most–MOST–prosperity preachers don’t talk much about charity. They say, “Pay ME, and God will pay YOU.” I don’t believe that kind of offering is acceptable. If anything, it should lead to curses and lack.

Jesus said you shouldn’t dedicate something to God in order to avoid giving it to your needy parents. That makes sense to me. God doesn’t need money, but people do. Our purpose in the world is to undo evil and spread salvation. We are the earth’s managers. We should be looking to do as much good as possible, with the resources we have.

The thing about borrowing in order to donate is very troubling, because the Bible tells us over and over again not to borrow. Debt is a horror. It’s a form of slavery. When you take on debt, you promise to give your future time and work to the lender. You become his slave, as the Bible says. I can’t believe God would ask a human being to get involved in that, in order to give a donation to a ministry.

Jesus told us not to promise or swear. What’s the first thing you have to do, if you go into debt? You have to swear. You sign a piece of paper, swearing you will pay. Jesus said anything beyond “yes” or “no” is from Satan, and loan notes are great examples.

Satan loves it when we make rules. He loves law. As soon as you make a rule, he has a new tool to use against you. He looks for a way to make you break the rule. And a promise is a rule you apply to yourself. So when you promise to pay a debt, presumably, Satan does his best to see to it that repaying it is a hardship, so you will be tempted to break your word.

This is what I believe, so I avoid signing promises, and I hate debt. I’ll sign a Mastercard receipt, because the world is set up so using cash is just too hard, but I won’t run a balance from month to month, and I don’t have any long-term loans. I know you can generate a lot of wealth through debt, but you can also lose your reputation and your standard of living. I love knowing that what I own, I OWN. Have you ever asked yourself what a typical parking lot would look like, if all the cars that weren’t paid for disappeared? What would a typical block look like, if only paid-up houses remained? America would look like the middle of Australia!

This is an important thing to think about, because we’re headed for a financial meltdown, and when it hits, it will matter whether your car and house belong to you. A lot of people who are driving BMWs and living in big houses right now will be wandering around begging, because their possessions will be gone, their jobs will be gone, and they will have no savings. Most Americans have little or no net worth. Many have negative net worths.

So anyway, I would never borrow money in order to make a donation to a church. I would quit donating to ministries (except tithing) before I would give up charity. And I would never donate or even tithe unless I had my debts in order. I don’t believe God will bless me for being a parasite and a thief.

Truthfully, I don’t even believe in mortgages. I know that’s a scary thing to say, but it’s true. I don’t want to go to bed at night knowing a bank owns my future and my house. The government (especially the courts) belongs to Satan, and so do the banks. I don’t want to get involved in that mess, just so I can have a bigger home sooner. If you’re going to believe, BELIEVE. Don’t say, “Oh, I walk by faith, but EVERYBODY has a mortgage. EVERYBODY has a car loan.” Walk by faith or admit you don’t. I don’t believe in mortgages. Call me crazy.

I’ve heard preachers say it’s a blessing to qualify for a car loan. I’ve heard them cite car loans as evidence that tithers got blessed. That seems insane to me. A car is a blessing. But a note that says you’re allowed to pay twice the car’s value in order to get it right now? How can that be a blessing? It’s a hook in your jaw, and it devours your money by causing you to get less for it. It’s like buying a bag of locusts.

In law school, I knew a guy who bought a convertible using a student loan. His friends used to ridicule him. They called it “the Ferrari,” implying it would cost as much as a Ferrari by the time he paid the interest. People used to say that if you bought a pizza in law school, it would cost $30 by the time you paid Sallie Mae. It’s funny that they didn’t extend this logic to the loans they incurred after entering the job market. How is a mortgage any different?

Student loans are particularly horrendous, because you can’t get rid of them. Bankruptcy doesn’t affect them. You pretty much have to prove you’re paralyzed in order to escape. Or you can die. Other than that, you’re owned. And when you don’t pay, they add the interest to the capital. I know someone who owes almost $200,000 because of that. The original loan was probably five figures. Now that I think about it, I know a couple of people in that situation, and they’re not going to make it as lawyers, so you have to wonder what they’ll do. They promised. Satan observed and acted. Now the walls of the pits are a thousand feet high. The strongholds are built.

Not only do they have permanent debt, but their credit ratings are wiped out. That means no one will hire them, because employers check these things. It means they’ll pay more for insurance, too. It even means no one will want to marry them, unless they manage to hide their debts.

Don’t borrow unless you have to. That’s all I can say.

I don’t want to fall into offense over this. I just saw a timely message from John Bevere, about avoiding getting into confrontations with other Christians. But I don’t think he explained it as well as he could have. He said Satan uses Christians who are “in opposition” to do his work. He cited 2 Timothy 2. But that’s not quite what it says. It doesn’t forbid opposition or correction. In fact, 2 Timothy suggests we are supposed to correct others. Here:

2 Tim 2:23-26
But stay away from stupid and ignorant controversies — you know that they lead to fights, and a slave of the Lord shouldn’t fight. On the contrary, he should be kind to everyone, a good teacher, and not resentful when mistreated. Also he should be gentle as he corrects his opponents. For God may perhaps grant them the opportunity to turn from their sins, acquire full knowledge of the truth, come to their senses and escape the trap of the Adversary, after having been captured alive by him to do his will. [CJB]

So, what I take away from this is that I have an obligation to point out error, when it comes to important disputes. That’s the farthest thing from wrong. But I have to do it gently and with humility, which is always a challenge. And when it mentions doing Satan’s will, it’s referring to those who are corrected, not those who correct.

Interesting stuff. I hope I’m right.

One thing I’m sure of: the “seven blessings” teachings are wrong.

The Amp They Called Jayne

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

SOUND!

I got my new Firefly amp working. I am too lazy to post another photo.

The sound is very good, although a little dark. I think a pedal will fix that. You can brighten the sound by adding a capacitor; I don’t know if that will make it warmer or just tinny.

The amp has a boost channel. I don’t really understand the circuit, but I assume this just recycles the amplified sound, using the main circuit as a preamp. Anyway, it’s pretty danged loud. But with the boost off, you can turn the main circuit gain up all the way without getting loud. The sound is nice and coarse, so it sounds like the tubes are actually working, but the plaster doesn’t fall off the walls of the house, as it would if I turned up any of my other amps.

I have advice for anyone who builds one of these using a PCB. First of all, why use a PCB? It’s easy and small, but the amp will still be small if you use an ordinary circuit board, and you’ll save forty bucks or something.

Second, don’t use the onboard stuff, like the pots and jack and switches. There are places to mount these items directly to the PCB. This forces you to drill very precise mounting holes in the cabinet. It all has to line up. That’s stupid. Just run wires to the PCB and mount this junk wherever you want.

When I finished getting this thing into working condition, I had no cabinet to plug it into. I found a solution. I borrowed the jack from the Telecaster I’m building, and I wired it to the Weber speaker I’m going to use in the cabinet. I stuck the speaker on the couch and plugged it in. Works great. Not elegant, but I was in a hurry.

It turns out the tubes have to be mashed pretty hard to get them into the sockets. One of mine fell out. Also, the little screw-tightened wire connectors on the PCB are hard to get right. The wires tend to fall out, which is bad.

I attached the top using only glue, and so far, it has worked. They tell me a good glue joint is stronger than the wood around it, so why not put it to the test? If it breaks, I’ll put it back together with screws and supports.

I have to figure out how to paint it. I think I’ll just blast it with leftover truck bed paint. It will be very tough, and I won’t have to blow twenty bucks on a vinyl covering.

It needs knobs. If I can’t find anything around here, I may machine a couple out of aluminum. That would be fast, and it would look good, and I could rub it in the noses of all the non-mechanical people who already think I’m superhuman because I can solder resistors onto a board.

Now all I need is a tiny cabinet for super portability. The speaker I bought is a 12″ job, and it sounds good, but for convenience, it would be good to have something really small, like a car speaker. And dang it, I KNEW I’d need the old Dodge and Ford speakers I threw out when I upgraded vehicle stereos. DANG it. I just realized that. Maybe I still have the Dodges. I wonder how sensitive that speaker is. And how do you check the impedance? Can you just stick an ohmmeter on it? I might have to stick a resistor in there somewhere.

This is beyond cool. Now I have to make the big cabinet, the little cabinet, and a Murder One clone, which is a sub-one-watt amp using submini tubes, whatever they are. It’s the size of a pedal. I may even try to make a PCB for it. You can do that, if you’re a big enough nerd. I already have the PCB and photo paper, plus free circuit design software.

Man, what is happening to me? I’m turning into My Favorite Martian.

I’ll try to record this thing eventually.

You Cannot Serve Two Masters

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

So Someone Cancel God’s Backstage Pass

Still thinking about the “seven blessings of Passover.”

I consulted a couple of authorities about this. One is an expert on both Judaism and Christianity, and he is a charismatic. His take? He knew of no such thing as a Passover offering. The closest major offering on the Jewish calender comes at Shavuot, or Pentecost. So unless he is mistaken, the notion that Jews went to Jerusalem and gave big offerings on Passover is wrong. I think this is a bad doctrine which has many good people deceived, just like the doctrine that says we can command angels.

The person I consulted did not flat-out state that the blessings idea was crazy, but he did say it sounded like “a gimmick.”

I haven’t heard from the other guy–“Rabbi” Aaron–yet. He’s no Christian, but he would definitely know if there were a special offering requirement at Passover.

This new doctrine concerns me, because it seems to be part of a bigger pattern of heaping excessive burdens on believers, to no constructive effect. Charismatics have developed a habit of begging people for money, and sometimes they are downright obnoxious. It doesn’t hurt the people who never give, but what about those who do? Do they really need to be told they’re still not doing enough for God? It’s a good way to drive the sincerest, most supernaturally powerful people to other churches, or out of church completely. Especially when the money the churches are already getting is being spent badly. People see that, and they think about it when they are asked to give.

I think Satan comes up with this prosperity stuff in order to destroy the reputation of Christianity, and to kill churches by discouraging the core members.

Some teachers tend to give us the impression that the more money we give God, the more money he will give us. But Obadiah mortgaged his house to keep a bunch of prophets alive, and he died in debt, with his house in foreclosure. God gave his widow enough oil to sell to pay off the loan. But the Bible doesn’t say anything about riches.

I believe that if you’re in God’s will, he will give you no more money than you can handle safely, regardless of how much you give him. If you had a maladjusted, greedy kid who did things for you in order to get you to jack up his allowance, and you knew he would spend it on porn and $750 alligator shoes and tobacco and other such garbage, would you give in? Of course not. Not if you loved him. People try not to give their kids things that will reinforce their weaknesses. Surely God is as smart as a human parent or an addiction counselor. If God lets you have more money than is good for you, it has to mean he’s chastising or giving up on you, even though it looks like a blessing.

God does give up on people. Read the Bible before you contradict me. I could give you a dozen proofs. Here’s one word that will suffice. “Herod.”

I know of a couple of addicts. One is filthy rich. His name is Charlie Sheen. No one can help him, because he has so much money, he doesn’t have to listen to people who want to save him. He lives in a Satanic stronghold with money walls. Barring divine intervention, they’ll wheel his dead body out of one of his homes pretty soon.

The other addict had a lot of money and spent it all, plus money taken from others. This person is clinging to a miserable existence, trying to avoid going to rehab, but it’s not going to work. Poverty, probably a gift from God, is going to force the issue soon. Which addict is more blessed? Which one is God helping? The rich one or the poor one?

Incidentally, the poor one has given a lot of money to prosperity preachers. This person even gave ill-gotten money to them. How about that? Where is that hundredfold return they like to talk about? My answer: it’s not coming. Call me the devil. I repeat myself: unless God decides to let this person fall deeper into depravity, it’s not coming.

Rehab is coming, and that’s better than money, which would only act as a poison.

The other day I heard Perry Stone admit that maybe God wasn’t going to give all of us a huge financial return on our donations. That’s a huge thing for a charismatic preacher to say. He believes we are supposed to be prosperous, so he’s not on the other team.

He probably got a thousand angry emails from greedy preachers. I’ll bet there are other TV preachers who would ban him from their shows for saying things like that. I believe he’s an honest man, and I’m positive God reveals things to him, so I would listen to him before I paid attention to one of the many preachers whose TV shows are really just infomercials.

Incidentally, I’ve come to see ministries and charities the way parents see kids. You want to bless them, but over time, you learn that giving foolishly will not help them, and it will reduce your own wealth. You have to be very, very careful what you give to ministries and charities. Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

As a believer, I am holy. My money is holy. My possessions are holy (hmm…maybe I should thin out my CD collection). So what Jesus said applies to the things I give to ministries and charities. If they behave like dogs and swine, I have no business spoiling them further.

God told us we have to be good stewards. In parables, he showed us that he rewards those who take their blessings and use them to advance his kingdom. Remember the servants with the silver talents? If we throw our money at irresponsible clergymen, we are not good stewards. If I give (or withhold) stupidly, I am destroying the wealth God gave me, instead of using it to do his will. Why should I expect him to give me his backing?

If you go to a church and see waste and neglect, you have to realize that if you give them things without thinking, those things will be taken for granted and destroyed, giving victory to Satan. So you have an obligation to God, who gave you good things, to try not to give anything that will be abused. You can’t expect perfection, and a certain amount of waste is inevitable, but when it’s egregious and systematic, it’s time to look for other places to put your disposable money, time, and possessions.

This obsession with giving money in order to get rich is disturbing, because it has turned Christianity into a supernatural Ponzi scheme. They tell you to give, and God will give you money. Then you give, and you don’t get blessed. So they tell you you didn’t give enough. So you give more, and you’re still not blessed. Then they tell you that you’re being tested, so you have to keep giving until you get your miracle harvest. A few years down the road, your savings are diminished, your earnings have not increased, you’re still as carnal as you can be (because they didn’t want to “judge” you by teaching you different) and they’re still telling you the money is right around the corner. But it’s not. Because you listened to men and not God.

Will God bless you for supporting ministries? Sure. I believe it. But which ministries? And how much money should you give? I don’t think God is going to bless you for giving your 401(k) to Kenneth Copeland or to a pastor who is focusing on the wrong things. I really don’t. How is God supposed to teach us, if he blesses us when we do stupid things?

Here is my question for the over-the-top prosperity preachers. If what you’re teaching is true, why isn’t it working?

Seriously, where are the millionaires you promised us? I mean ordinary church members, not people who live on tithes and offerings. Show them to me, and I’ll shut up. Show me this works for most people. I’ll settle for 75%. Ten or twenty people out of an entire church…that doesn’t even begin to cut it. If it’s not working, it must be wrong, so why do you keep teaching it?

Every church has a few people who get rich while they are members. That proves nothing. The same thing would be true of any large group of people chosen at random, whether or not they went to church. For this doctrine to appear true, we would have to see huge numbers of newly rich Christians. They do not exist.

And if giving in order to receive is so important, why do you talk so little about the real promises God made? Over and over, he promises to bless us with earthly prosperity for giving to THE POOR. We almost never hear about those promises. No, it’s always Malachi, because Malachi talks about giving to the temple, i.e. some TV preacher who won’t even open his books.

I may be a Christian, and I guess that means I’m stupid, but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I fully understand why people say self-serving things a lot and talk very little about things that help others. It’s because greed and lust for glory have blinded them to that which is obvious. Preach Psalm 41, which is about the poor, and no one will give you any money. It will go to the awful poor instead! What good is that? Please turn to the book of Malachi…

Otherwise-reasonable teachers have come up with a hundred different ways to rationalize sating their flesh; they have even decided that it’s God’s idea. And people who disagree…servants of the devil! Pray for them! They’re being used to keep God’s church in poverty!

Anyway, the ancient Jews did not believe in seven blessings of the Passover, nor did they take huge offerings at that time of year, so until I hear a good defense of this notion, I won’t believe in it, either. If we’re going to flirt with Judaizing, let’s at least be consistent with Jewish beliefs.

Speaking of Jews, I believe the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is a very safe charity. I believe God created it, and he is blessing it powerfully, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The work it does is beyond reproach, as far as I can tell, and it appears to be part of biblical prophecy. They feed the poor, they move poor Jews to Israel, they defend Israel from the lies of the left-wing press, they provide care for abandoned elderly Jews in the former USSR…I just can’t say enough about them. They are even giving Christians a good name in Israel, and that has never happened before. I believe God will reward you, right here on earth, if the Spirit tells you to give to this charity.

As for well-known ministries, I think Perry Stone is worthy of support. I believe he was called by God; I don’t think he called himself, the way so many others have. I also like John Bevere.

If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but right now, I just don’t see it.

Take my Life, Take my Amp…

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Take me Where I Cannot Clamp…

I got my Firefly tube amp running today. When I first turned it on, it blew a fuse. I let it sit while I waited for new fuses to arrive. Today I opened it up, and I saw the problem. I felt so stupid. I put one of the rectifier diodes in backward. I knew about this hazard before I started, and I still did it!

Luckily the fuse saved the diode. I put it back in, and I turned the amp on, and I got a power light and no smoke. Does it work? Can’t say until I build the cabinet.

Right now the top is glued to the sides, and it’s setting up. I don’t know if it’s necessary to brace it from inside. It’s only about 6″ tall. It can be very difficult to line things up when you try to screw or glue a support in a corner, so I decided to go ahead with glue, which is much easier. If I decide to put a support in, hopefully, the glue joint will keep everything aligned.

I’m not a good woodworker. This is the best I could do. I don’t know how I’ll apply a finish after all this, but I don’t care any more. I have to get it working. I can always build a nicer box later.

Wrong Numbers

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

You Can’t Pick God’s Locks

Years ago–almost 25–I decided I had to find a church. And then I got sick. I got something like a severe cold, but unlike a cold, it lasted for weeks. I could not get rid of it.

At that time, I was listening to people I no longer trust. Kenneth Copeland is an example. He said that if you wanted a miracle, you had to “confess” (say) that it was done, and keep confessing it until you saw the result.

I prayed about the cold and confessed that it was gone and so forth.

One day I was in my dad’s house, and my parents were in the dining room. I went into the kitchen and looked into the freezer. While I was doing this, a dark shape left my body. It was just a dark place in the air, with no borders around it. It was transparent. It flew into the freezer, turned around, and flew out threw the back door of the house. I was instantly healed of the cold. I went into the dining room and told my parents. My mother was amazed. I don’t recall my dad’s reaction, but I’m sure he didn’t react positively.

Over the years, my dad forgot about this. When I reminded him, he said he didn’t remember. That is truly sad, because it was a bona fide miracle. Not something you would want to waste.

I still don’t trust or like Kenneth Copeland. He seems like a nasty person, and he appears to be obsessed with money. Back when I used to watch him, be berated and ridiculed his viewers. He always had a reason why God wasn’t blessing them (as Kenneth Copeland had promised). They weren’t “maintaining their confession.” They were tithing but not personally carrying their tithes into the church. They were holding their pens in the wrong hand when they wrote their checks. The moon was in the wrong phase. God only blesses people when they wear their socks inside out. Whatever. They were always wrong, and he was always up there, telling them this in a disrespectful tone and jabbing his finger at them.

I wonder what percentage of people who sent him money got financial blessings.

I still don’t trust him, but it appears that he was right about holding onto your “confession.” It worked for me.

A week or two, my dad got a cold. I’m always nervous when someone I know gets sick, because I hate getting sick. I hate that feeling you get when you think something may be getting started in your body, and you hope against hope, and you concentrate on the symptoms, trying to convince yourself they’re imaginary or going away.

I prayed for my dad, but I also prayed for myself. Then on Thursday, I started to get sick. It was amazing. I felt like something flew up my nose, almost as though I had inhaled pepper. I felt powerful itching begin, instantly. My nose started running.

I prayed and rebuked and confessed and so on. I prayed in the Spirit. And I could feel this thing weakening when I focused on God. A few hours later, it was gone. I didn’t feel totally normal; I felt like a person who had gotten over a cold. But I had no headache. I had no congestion. My energy was great. Food tasted normal. I was fine.

The great thing about this is that it was so similar to the thing that happened to me in 1987. I got to tell my dad I was healed, AGAIN. And he was still sick! That’s hard to beat. Surely that made an impression.

This doesn’t have much to do with what I intended to write. Mainly it serves to show that I have good reason to believe in God. I have had supernatural experiences. I have seen spirits. The result of this is that I can’t instantly discard what pastors and teachers tell me about God and his blessings. I have heard some kooky things that turned out to be true, so when I hesitate to reject odd claims from pastors, it’s not just that I’m gullible. My history colors my decisions.

Lately I’ve been going through an evaluation procedure regarding “the seven blessings of Passover.” This comes from a guy named Steve Munsey; he pastors a megachurch and pals around with Benny Hinn. If I don’t like Kenneth Copeland, you can probably guess how I feel about Benny Hinn. And I’ve seen Munsey preach. He seems like a nice guy, but as a preacher, he did not make a good impression on me. Critics call him a fundraiser, and if you’ve seen him at work, it’s easy to understand their reaction.

I’ve seen Munsey brag that R. Kelly and Beyonce have been to his church. R. Kelly is a notorious pervert and hardly a role model, and Beyonce made a video where she opened her legs and waved her genitals at the camera, so it bugs me to see a pastor honor her. Could God be in it? I can’t tell you what’s on God’s mind, but it would be very strange for him to use people this carnal to promote his kingdom.

I should preface this by saying that Munsey’s ideas seem connected to a concept taught by Larry Huch, who says God opens windows in heaven. You’ve probably seen this in Malachi. Huch loves to talk about our Judaic roots, and he tells people to wear prayer shawls. He claims there are certain seasons when God is closer to us and does more for us. These are windows, like NASA launch windows. The Passover season is such a window.

Another preacher–Renny McLean–teaches about “portals.” He says there are places where God sort of touches the earth. Some people say the Temple Mount is such a place. McLean says Moses was at a portal when he stood at the edge of the Red Sea and God parted it. I think I have this right; I may be wrong. McLean seems to believe there are geographic locations where it’s easier to get in touch with God.

I have totally rejected Larry Huch. I bought his book and threw it out. I thought it was ridiculous. I thought it was legalism and Judaizing. Paul said we did not have to become Jews, nor did we have to obey the law or become circumcised. And here Larry Huch is, telling us to observe Passover and wear prayer shawls and so on. I have no doubt that he’s wrong.

McLean, on the other hand, seems much more sincere, so I can’t write him off. He has mentioned the idea of “windows of heaven,” so I ordered some stuff he produced, in order to learn more. Is he pushing the Huch ideas? More importantly, is he affirming what Steve Munsey teaches? If it comes from a source I respect, I have to pay attention.

Munsey says the Jews assembled in Jerusalem on Passover, and every male brought the best possible offering he could bring. In return, God gave that man and his family seven blessings. From Benny Hinn’s site:

Here are the seven blessings of the Passover that Steve taught:

1. God will assign an angel to you.
2. God will be an enemy to your enemies.
3. God will give you prosperity.
4. God will take sickness away from you.
5. God will give you a long life.
6. God will cause increase in your life.
7. God will give a special year’s blessing.

Now, there ARE Torah passages referring to this stuff, but there is no direct connection to Passover. Moreover, I know of no requirement that Jews bring giant offerings to the Temple at Passover. Furthermore, the Temple is gone, and it may not even be lawful to give offerings under the Jewish law, until it’s rebuilt. Finally, Gentiles were never required to keep the Passover. Never.

You can see why I am reluctant to buy into this stuff. It is becoming widely accepted at Spirit-filled churches, but so is a lot of worldly garbage. And the Passover blessing idea is particularly suspicious, because it’s self-serving. If they were telling us to give LESS to the church, I would be inclined to listen, but when someone tells you it’s a good idea to do things that benefit him, you have to suspect bias.

I am very disturbed by the nutty things that are happening in big churches. They’re getting so worldly, you might as well stay home. Pastors used to teach us that it was great to be poor and sick and defeated, and they were wrong. Now, we’re going off in the opposite direction. We know God wants to bless us, so whenever we see a big, rich church, we assume they’re doing everything right. So we become seeker-friendly and greedy.

“Seeker-friendly” means you never criticize your flock, and you use all sorts of worldly tools. If the kids like Eminem, you play Eminem songs. Eminem writes about raping his mother, right? So now the kids “know” that Jesus likes that kind of music. If the kids like R. Kelly, you play R. Kelly. That means it’s okay to have sex with minors and beat a statutory rape charge, as long as you go to church. I think you understand what I’m talking about. In order to avoid “judging” (in spite of Jesus’s command to point out sin in others), you become so friendly and receptive you no longer represent Christ. You imitate the world until you become the world. You lose your saltness and become useless to God.

As for greed, that’s obvious. Solomon was rich, therefore your pastor should have an air-conditioned doghouse, like one of the famous TV preachers of the 80s. Never mind that your contributions come from people who are poor and hurting. God will make them rich, too, right? It’s WRONG not to take their money, because you’re blocking the blessing! The only problem is that they tend to die poor, because the prosperity gospel, as currently taught by many preachers, does not work.

God blesses some tithers and givers; no doubt about it. But what about the people who give and go broke? Maybe God didn’t want them to buy a giant church with TV cameras. Maybe he wanted them to feed the poor or sponsor missionaries or send poor Jews to Israel.

If you give money to a crooked preacher, what exactly do you expect God to do about it? Should be bless you with a huge return, just because you thought you were doing the right thing? God doesn’t bless people just for having good intentions. He blesses people for having HIS intentions. Saul thought he was doing right when he took over for the priests, but God took away his kingdom and cursed his line for it. God killed two priests for bringing strange fire to the altar, in his service. God has a long history of refusing to bless people who do “good” things he didn’t ask them to do. He will let you die poor if you screw up your giving. I’m sure of it.

We keep saying “GIVE GIVE GIVE” and “BLESSINGS BLESSINGS BLESSINGS” and “LOVE LOVE LOVE,” but we are filling people’s minds with useless mush and failing to provide them with knowledge that will give them power. The Bible says God’s people perish for lack of knowledge, and we’re so obsessed with attendance and conversions, we are letting people starve for the knowledge that will save them and their families.

Yesterday a smart, committed, serious young man called me. He started asking about things involving the occult. Was it okay to be a Mason (it is not)? Was it okay to use a Ouija board (it is not)?

I was shocked. This is a guy who should understand what holiness is all about. He should know that you can’t kneel down and swear oaths, the way Masons do. You can’t involve yourself with any type of occultism or fortune-telling. If you do these things, you might as well worship Satan. It’s no different to God.

If no one is teaching him and the other young people these important things, what exactly ARE they teaching them? What do youth ministries do? For that matter, what do adult ministries do?

Man has a long history of taking God’s ways and perverting them to serve the flesh. The current obsession with seeker-friendliness and worldly success is just another manifestation of this ancient problem. You want money, power, and success, because you’re a selfish, flesh-driven Christian baby? Great! Now the church says you can force God to give you this stuff! Forget about duty. Forget about putting God’s kingdom first. Observe these magic rules, and God will have to do what you want. You don’t have to let him change your desires. You don’t have to crucify the flesh through fasting. Make God your genie!

Incidentally, “genie” is a corruption of the Arabic word “djinn,” which refers to demons and evil spirits.

I’m going to see what Renny McLean has to say, and I have emailed my personal rabbi about the “seven blessings,” but I think I already know what I’m going to decide. I think the “seven blessings” idea is a fundraising tool. Sorry to say it, but I would rather tell the truth than please men. As anyone who knows me can tell you.

All that being said, I do believe God responds to giving. Proverbs tells us we will not lack, if we give to the poor. The Psalms tell us we will give and be blessed, while the wicked borrow and don’t repay. They say the givers will possess the land, which probably refers to God’s kingdom under the new covenant. The Psalms also tell us that if we consider the poor, God will 1) bless us HERE ON EARTH, 2) strengthen us when we are sick, 3) deliver us from trouble, and 4) not allow our enemies to defeat us. Proverbs says that when we give to the poor, we lend to the Lord, and he WILL repay.

The Bible told the Jews they had to support the Temple, and it says God blessed them for it, but most of the material about giving is about people in need. Jesus himself told a rich man to sell what he had and give it to the poor; he didn’t say, “Give me a big ol’ SEED GIFT so I can have six TV cameras instead of three.” I can’t think of a single example of Jesus telling people to give to his ministry.

I think the dollar is going to dry up and become worthless, and it concerns me. I wish I had taken my own advice and bought a lot of silver. It has doubled in value this year. I can’t see anything I want to invest in, except maybe land. The only answer I know of is God’s advice on giving to the poor. My money may not be safe in the bank, but if I give to the poor, and God promises to repay, surely I’m prepared.

I hope I manage to please God well enough to get the blessing of the 37th Psalm, which says I will not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the day of famine, I will be satisfied. I really don’t want to end up wandering in the dust, wondering who will help me put a roof over my head.

I pray for God to purge the ranks of useless and corrupt preachers. True knowledge of God’s will and his ways is a must. In the hard times ahead, Americans will need God more than ever. We need to be sure we’re pushing the right buttons.

Marv Will be in the Tour Bus

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Have the Groupies Clean his Perch

What a day. I got my Telecaster working yesterday, and I fired up the Super Champ XD and the Fat Sandwich pedal and started working on “I Know a Little.” It turned out that the Telecaster, with its long scale and super-tall frets, was actually easier to play than my amazing Epiphone Riviera P93. Slides are somewhat unpleasant, because my fingers smash into the frets from the side, but still, it worked great. It felt like it was harder to play, but I was undeniably playing better.

Today I decided to make a recording to see just how bad I sounded. I figured it would be horrible, because the timing on my last recordings was really jerky and awful. Also, recording makes my timing even worse, because it seems like my joints quit working. I worry about what the mike is picking up, and there goes any hope of playing loose.

Incredibly, it sounds like music. WAY better than I hoped. There are three passages which are still technically not under control, but basically, it’s sound. In a week, I should be able to play it for real. I don’t know that I’ll be able to play full speed, though. Today I cranked it up to 78%.

I don’t know that I like it at 100%. You lose many of the guitar subtleties, and there isn’t as much opportunity to play with the vocals.

I recorded this on a Sansa clip, which is a tiny, cheap MP3 player. And Marv was “helping” in the background. I’m posting it anyway. Whatever the problems are, it proves this is going to work!

I Know a Little, With Marv as Background Vocalist

I have a new wonder pick. My teacher recommended a Dunlop jazz pick, which is a very hard, small nylon job. They’re very fast, but they make a somewhat dull sound, and the tiny size is hard on your hands. Last week I took a Dunlop triangle pick, which is huge, and modified it so it would still be easy to hold, but it would not interfere with my movements or rotate out of position. The result is the greatest pick of all time. I can’t put it down. I’m wondering if I should make my own version and sell it.

Anyway, this is fantastic. When I get it cleaned up, I’ll post a better version. Probably without Marv.

If I can do this, it proves I’ll be able to play decent Christian music.

Prayer Request from Kentucky

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Kidney Problems

From Heather:

Hi everyone,
Mom’s edema has been worsening and the home health nurse just called her doctor and they want her taken to the ER.
So please keep us in your prayers.
Please ask that her kidney function returns to normal to remove this fluid from her body.
Also please ask that she is protected from the nephrologists at our local hospital(we have serious doubts about his competency and motives). Because her mobility is limited I can’t get her to her regular nephrologist in Lexington, so it has to be our local hospital(Ky law dictates that ambulance has to take to closest hosp).
Thank you all. God Bless.

Don’t Let Creativity Happen to You

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Worse Than Fool’s Gold

Today I saw someone talking about creativity on the Internet. I get so sick of this. It’s always an uncreative person, talking about something he or she has not personally experienced.

People talk about creativity as though it’s the answer to all of life’s problems, and they have the insane idea that it can be taught. They even pay people to teach it.

I’m creative. I’m so creative, it’s a problem. That means I can speak with authority here. Creativity is nearly worthless. It generally does not bring success. In fact, it usually produces distractions and tends to keep you from pursuing your goals.

It’s fun to be able write music or throw great recipes together or write things that impress people. It’s fun to be able to throw out clever things in conversation. But this isn’t what puts money in people’s bank accounts. A small percentage of creative people get rich from their gifts. Most are ignored or put to work and cheated by noncreative people who spent their lives learning practical things.

Creativity makes people jealous. It annoys them. It makes them resent you. It causes them to scheme and plot to prevent you from succeeding, or to get the benefit of what your mind produces.

If you’re not creative now, you never will be. Accept it and be glad. I don’t care what some idiot motivational speaker told you at a seminar your employer forced you to attend. Maybe you got all excited because your horizons were expanded to the point where you considered wearing brown shoes with a blue suit, or maybe you decided to get really crazy and put mustard on your scrambled eggs. That’s about as far as you’re going to get, barring a brain transplant, and it’s not real creativity. True creativity means a constant bombardment with original ideas that seem to come from outside your mind. You can’t get that at a seminar.

Don’t try to be creative. Work on things like self-discipline instead. Develop skills that generate income. Learn good manners; they will take you far. And of course, get right with God and develop a strong prayer life. Walk by faith, with God’s favor.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to teachers who encourage your kids’ creativity. Can you imagine a creature that is less creative than a teacher? They live secure lives, doing the same thing over and over for decades. They have no idea what life is like for creative people. If your kid is a really good fingerpainter or whatever, tell him to do that as a hobby while he works at a bank.

It amazes me that employers force people to try to be creative. Nothing could possibly be worse for your career. The way to succeed, in a typical office environment, is to make yourself indispensable and develop a reputation for making your superiors look good. If you’re creative, you will unbalance the machine, and it will try to expel you.

Remember Jerry Maguire? That was a pretty realistic scenario. You have a moment of creativity and lucidity, you point out the systematic flaws in your company, and the next thing you know, you’re fired. Jerry would have been much better off keeping his mouth shut. In the movie, he started a new company, and everyone loved him. In real life, he would have ended up waiting tables. No athlete would have gone near him, and employers would have considered him poison.

I’m grateful to God for making me creative, but I envy people who are steady, disciplined, and dependable. They’re the ones who make it big. Van Gogh’s brother was a rich art dealer. Van Gogh himself died a one-eared suicide. Who would you rather be?

Get over the notion that creativity will save you. On the whole, it should probably be considered a disability.

You Talk to Men; I’ll Talk to God

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

To Kill the Tree, Poison the Roots

I’ll tell you what. It’s time to renew my decision to avoid sinking into the septic tank that is political discourse.

Things are heating up now, and the left has gone even crazier than it was to begin with. Their methods and words have become so vicious, it is now easy to believe that we could see things like concentration camps and killing fields in the United States.

The right, on the other hand, is having an internal battle. Do we acknowledge God and risk alienating gays, atheists, Jews, and other people who are put off by Christianity, or do we turn from God and rely on earthly tools? Suddenly, Republicans like Donald Trump, who is about as worldly as they come. Do we like him in spite of his worldliness? I don’t think so. I think we like him because of it. We look at him, and we say, “Here is a man who is highly capable and understands capitalism, and who is so able, he has a high likelihood of succeeding, and he won’t bother voters who find Jesus offensive.”

Of course, the problem with that is that there is no such thing as a man who succeeds in spite of God or without God’s help. We could elect Superman, and it wouldn’t matter, unless God backed him up. God uses foolish things (and people) to confound the wise. He is not all that interested in our earthly talents. We would be better off with a moderately capable Spirit-filled President than a genius who thinks he creates his own success.

The left hates everything about God except for the phrase “Judge not.” The right basically likes God, but we don’t want him coming in the house and disturbing our guests. We want him to wander around in the yard, blessing us and watching over us, but not freaking people out or telling them to quit sinning.

I get caught up in the nonsense a lot. I know high taxes are stupid. I know government handouts are stupid. I know we need a real immigration policy. I know we borrow too much. And I get upset about it. But these are not fundamental matters. When you focus on the economy or our debt or our immigration problems, you’re looking at symptoms. The diseases are pride and rebellion. That’s where the problems come from.

If you don’t attack the root, you don’t cut off the things on which the sickness feeds. You run around putting out fires, when you should be bulldozing the headquarters of the chief arsonist.

We don’t pray enough. We have no interest in a holy lifestyle, because sin is–let’s be honest–a blast. We don’t try to get close to God on an individual level and talk to him, because we’re afraid he might tell us to do things for him and change our lives for him. So we lack God’s guidance and power, and we lack the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, life stinks. It stinks for individuals, and it stinks for the USA.

Leftism is unquestionably Satanic. It’s all about human beings taking over for God. Doing what he would do, if he were real and politically enlightened. But that doesn’t matter. Attacking leftism is like putting an antibiotic on a sore without cleaning it out first. Leftism’s support is supernatural, and if we attack it supernaturally, it will fail. Fifteen minutes of daily prayer will do more good than five Tea Party rallies a week.

Look at the Bible. Moses showed up at the shore of the Red Sea, and God opened it for him. Elijah prayed, and it didn’t rain in Israel for months. God held the sun still for Joshua. Prayer is not a joke. It’s the most powerful thing we do, far and away. When we get caught up in slogans and verbal abuse, we waste time, we accomplish little, and we risk grieving the Holy Spirit, who is our link to all power.

With all this in mind, I am trying to avoid getting sucked into the mud wrestling arena. I don’t want to be a puppet any more. I want to be one of the puppeteers. God gives us that authority and that power, but not if we fool around with earthly tools. If you want to use a rounded-off screwdriver and a hammer with a broken handle, God will pull back and let you. I prefer God’s power tools.

Today I was reading John Bevere’s book, Extraordinary: The Life You’re Meant to Live. He talks about the power of faith. Old-time Christians like to tell us faith means suffering like a whipped dog and sticking with God even though we will always lose. As John notes, that’s not what faith is about. Jesus told us we could literally command mountains to be thrown into the sea, and John also reminds us that Jesus is not a liar. Faith is power. It’s the power God used to create suns and planets. It’s the only real power we have, and we have to learn to use it and rely on it.

I don’t plan to stand around at political rallies until November of 2012. I know that Christians have the power to bless and curse; I’ve seen it work. I just curse the careers of the politicians who are destroying this nation, and I pray for revival and intercession, so God will see fit to give us good leaders. I pray God will humble Americans and put an end to our spoiled, self-indulgent decadence. When I start messing with harsh words and silly Internet movements, I accomplish nearly nothing, and God does not have my back. The supernatural approach is the way to go.

I also pray for God to help secular, anti-Christian politicians accept Christ and get filled with the Spirit. I think it’s wrong to pray for anyone to fail, unless you also ask God to change them and help them succeed on his terms.

There is nothing wrong with cursing someone’s actions. People I respect do it. Jude said some people need to be put in fear. I have cursed lawsuits filed against me. I have cursed the things my enemies have tried to do to me. I have asked God to bring them failure and despair, and to take the evil they intended for me and give it to them, as the Psalms say he will.

Here is what Jude said: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” It seems obvious to me that the part about fear applies to people who are too proud or depraved to be reached with kindness. I pray for God to knock such people flat on their rear ends, terrify them, and fill them with worry. I ask him to do this for me, and for their own good.

I forgive; I don’t take up earthly tools to fight people, and I don’t hold onto anger. I never take revenge. I ask God not to keep my enemies out of paradise or the kingdom of heaven because of the evil they do to me. I pray for God to change them and help them make peace with me and get free of his enmity. But forgiveness doesn’t mean you don’t ask God to oppose your persecutors here on earth. At least I don’t believe it does, because the Psalms are full of references to God hammering our enemies for us, usually with their own weapons. I believe forgiveness means you only fight your enemies in a constructive, supernatural, godly way. God humbles and afflicts people all the time, and I see nothing wrong with asking him to do this in our defense. Otherwise, we might as well go on and die, because we are defenseless here on earth.

If we’re defenseless, why does the Bible keep telling us God is our refuge? Why does it call him a fortress, over and over?

We have to start admitting that the Bible is not full of idle talk. My grandmother used to say my grandfather liked to talk just to hear his head rattle. God is not like that. His words are chosen for well-thought-out reasons, and they are true. It’s not just Middle Eastern puffery. God’s words tell us what he will do, and we have to learn to rely on them and take them seriously.

To become absorbed in worldly spats and tiffs is to believe that Jesus’s kingdom is of this world. Jesus did not come to save the entire world. The book of John makes that clear. He kindly chose certain individuals to become his flesh and to partake in his power and deliverance, and the rest of the world is on its own, no matter how pitiable things get. We should not be expending excessive time and energy trying to perfect civilization. We can’t do it, and God does not plan to help us. That may sound harsh, but it’s what the Bible says.

Modern clergymen who rewrite the Bible like to tell us all human beings are God’s children, and God never judges. All I can say is, I wish those things were true. I live with the rules God made, and I do not question them, because I realize the one who wrote them is perfect in every way.

I hope I can avoid sinking back into this mess. To say I have better things to do would not even scratch the surface.

Ted Beckster

Monday, April 18th, 2011

History Will Call Him Snidley Becklash

Glenn Beck is turning out to be an embarrassment to conservatives! It’s unimaginable! It’s inconceivable! WHAT KIND OF FREAKISH CLAIRVOYANT COULD HAVE FORESEEN THIS?

*cough*

On my tombstone, I should put a long list of stuff I predicted publicly, to responses of catcalls and sneers. I said Pajamas Media would amount to nothing, and it would divide the Blogosphere. I said Arnold Schwarzenegger would turn out to be a black eye for the GOP. And I said Glenn Beck would turn out to be a major embarrassment.

Everyone said I was an idiot. Maybe I was, but 1) that’s irrelevant, 2) I was still right, and 3) all the loyal, right-thinking, team-spirit-oozing sheep were wrong.

Beck is plagiarizing, on a grand scale, as policy. He is earning millions, partly off of other people’s work, and he is actually having his staff exert extra effort to CONCEAL sources.

What on earth is wrong with him? Who even thinks like that? How can a person be that petty? It’s like a cheap soap opera villain. It’s so venal, its hard to believe it’s not fiction. It’s like someone modified his genes using material from Erica on All my Children.

The story I linked says Beck took a video shot by a blogger and EDITED OUT THE WATERMARK. Geez. Isn’t life hard enough for bloggers without conservative pundits actively sabotaging their work? We struggle to succeed, and we do the media’s work for them, and we fully accept the fact that we will not get the fame and money we deserve. We know they won’t help us (unless we look good in tight sweaters and have no original thoughts). But we don’t expect them to make a special effort to keep us in the dirt! This is like LeBron James, holding ghetto kids at gunpoint and stealing their basketballs. Earth to the famous: “succeed” just means “to do well”; you are not also required to prevent others from making it.

Neglect used to be considered sufficient. Now they’re proactively cheating us. What’s next? Are Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes going to go house to house, shooting bloggers in their beds? “Here’s a hollowpoint to the sternum, and then I’ll give you the last word.”

I am reminded of the movie Coma, where they gave people brain damage and then hung them up in a big warehouse, on life support, while they whittled parts out of them and sold them on the black market. I’m not saying bloggers have brain damage (I prefer not to address the issue), but even without that, the parallel is pretty accurate.

Honest to God, what’s the use of trying? Twelve or thirteen years ago, the lamest writer imaginable could (and often did) become a recognized megahit Internet pundit. The gold rush was on; all you had to do was stake a claim. The little guy had a chance. Now corporations operate websites they pretend are blogs, and they suck up all the traffic, and Glenn Beck is bringing up the rear, making absolutely sure the media leaves crumbs much to small for the other Whos’ mouses.

I guess the Tea Partiers have replaced bloggers. We used to be the grassroots, but Fox and the conservative “haves” have blasted us with Roundup and replaced us with artificial turf, like Red Eye and Malkin. Much like Rachel Marsden, we have been escorted off the premises by security, and the locks have been changed behind us, and Glenn Beck is making sorties out of the Green Zone to steal what little eclat we have left. If you want attention now, you have to go stand at a rally holding an AR15 and carrying a stupid sign, and if you really want to be noticed, make sure it’s misspelled.

I hope I don’t sound angry. I’m cracking up as I write this. It’s a Giraudoux play brought to life. It’s like Ionesco having a waking dream on national TV. I left this nonsense behind a couple of years ago; even Tantalus eventually gets a clue. But I can’t help remarking on it.

One of the funny things about growing older is that you come to understand how base human nature is, and then you are sentenced to see your conclusions confirmed over and over and over and over. It’s unbelievable. People are so venal, you just can’t hold the understanding of it in your mind. It’s so incredible, your left hemisphere will try to explain it away. “He’s not going to do that. Real human beings aren’t that shallow and predictable. It’s like something a character from the Simpsons would do. It’s impossible. It’s two-dimensional. AND NOW HE’S DOING IT. OH YES, HE’S DOING IT. I SAW IT COMING, AND SMOKE IS STILL COMING OUT OF MY EARS.” I feel like one of those Star Trek characters who burst into flame when Spock whispered puzzles into their ears.

You know what George Santayana should have said? “Those who learn from history are doomed to watch a whole bunch of idiots repeat it.”

I do stupid things, too, but it’s still funny watching the true masters of idiocy. To paraphrase Ty Webb, I don’t want to shortchange myself. When it comes to idiocy, I’m no slouch. But Darth Maul stands up and salutes when the Emperor walks by.

I believe supernatural forces run the world, and when I look at inexplicable successes like Glenn Beck, Obama’s Nobel, and Cher and Marissa Tomei’s Oscars, I assume they’re in play. They can make you succeed when you should fail, and they can keep you on top when you should go down in flames. Look at Qaddafi. So I won’t predict that Beck will take a huge career hit. But he should. Ordinarily, this would put an end to any career in journalism or academia.

I’m sure–I don’t have to check–that the success-worshiping sheep of the right wing are already defending Beck. We love circling the wagons and going down with the ship. Anyone who has made it must be God’s anointed. Anyone who criticizes deserves the same kind of treatment the herd gave famous malcontents and critics of the past. People like Socrates and Jesus. Troublemakers.

Mindlessly defend prominent conservative. Press lever. Receive food pellet. That’s how it works.

Here’s a prediction. Beck will get in trouble, but not as much trouble as Don Imus. Conservatives will all look like idiots, but not enough of them will care, so there will be no massive “Becklash.” Beck will be damaged, and he will never be quite as prominent as he is now, but he will still be a big player, and people will call his show (if he takes calls) and tell him he got in trouble because he was just too wonderful for this world.

And if his career gets in real trouble, maybe he’ll make another video about how he was almost killed by his hemorrhoids. I still can’t get over that.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Feminism = Recipe for Celibacy, Cats & Ice Cream

Today I caught a few minutes of He’s Just Not That Into You while I was eating lunch. MAN, is that movie on target. There is nothing sadder than a career girlfriend a few years away from menopause. If you’re over 35, you’ve never married, and you still get introduced as a girlfriend, you need to wake up. Your situation is not healthy. A middle-aged girlfriend is like a thirty-year-old man who rides a skateboard.

One of my college buddies lived with a girl until she was 38, and then I noticed she wasn’t around any more. I asked what had happened, and he said, “I MADE her LEAVE.” This is not a rare scenario. Men will let you waste your youth on them, especially if you’re on your best behavior because your life is a perpetual audition for marriage.

I actually laughed when he said he made his girlfriend leave, because she was annoying. I was an idiot. He helped her ruin her life. That’s not funny.

After that, he dated a stunning young Asian girl from a rich family. He was ecstatic. For all I know, he married her. I have a feeling his ex did not go on to date a stunning alpha male.

The other day I was talking to a friend from church, and I said I knew a lady I thought had potential, but she was so much younger than I, I felt it was inappropriate to do anything about it. Then he reminded me that if you expect to have kids, you pretty much have to get the woman started by the time she’s thirty. After that, things get much harder. So while I still feel that dating someone that young is a dubious idea, I now realize that a woman who doesn’t start husband-hunting when she’s twenty is taking a big chance.

As usual, the oldest wisdom is right, and the young punks are wrong.

Another thing the movie makes clear: if a man doesn’t want you today, he almost certainly never will. I’ve known women who thought I would come around if they refused to go away. It doesn’t work. Most of the time, you know instantly whether you could ever force yourself to have a romantic relationship with a woman. Sometimes it takes a month or two to figure it out. But once you know, you know. It won’t help if she loses weight. It won’t help if she does nice things for you. If she increases the amount of time she spends with you, it will probably make you take her for granted, and it may just creep you out. She should move on! The Bible says God pairs people up, and if that’s true, you’re slowing things down by trying to force a match.

Now I have to go outside and put another coat of paint on the screen for my tube amp head.

Huffington, Toasted

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Far-Left Whitewash Brigade Smells the Kapitalist Coffee

Pride is a terrible thing. But I will indulge.

The news says Arianna Huffington is being sued by the people who write for her website. Apparently, one of them finally realized the obvious truth: they’re providing a valuable product for nothing!

Where are the Real Men of Genius people when you need them? Someone call the Nobel committee.

I was saying this back in 2005. I compared Arianna to Tom Sawyer. Remember the story? Aunt Polly made Tom whitewash her fence. Tom hated the work, so as kids walked by, he told them it was an exclusive gig, and that it was a great privilege to be involved. After a while, he had a whole bunch of envious morons doing the whitewashing for him.

I could draw other obvious comparisons, to creatures like tapeworms, but I’ll pass.

I think one reason Arianna got away with this for so long is that she was working with writers. Everyone cheats writers. It’s accepted practice. After all, writing isn’t work. If you’re a writer or artist or musician, people will say unbelievably stupid things to you. They’ll come up to you and say, “Could you come to my house and wait for the cable guy for three straight days? It’s not like you have a job.”

Mind you, it doesn’t matter what great services these people are providing for humanity in THEIR lynchpin-of-the-universe careers. The most mediocre, fungible person on earth thinks his job is more valid than Ernest Hemingway’s. Crazy. They should ask themselves why there is no Nobel Prize in Project Management or Sales or Kitchen Remodeling.

It’s funny; if you have no education, and you literally dig ditches for a living, no one questions your right to a paycheck. But if you go to Juilliard and then play local gigs for ten years and THEN manage to sell a few songs, everyone thinks you’re a parasite when you complain about MP3 theft.

It’s insane. I’m a lawyer, and when I work on a case, what I do is writing. I look at statutes and cases, and then I write my conclusions. I can charge $400 per hour for this, and no one will blink. But if I write a 10,000-word short story, people will think it’s okay to republish it word-for-word on their blogs. And which skill is rarer and more valuable? Lawyers are a dime a dozen. Writing talent is comparatively rare.

Royalties are not charity. If you use a person’s work, you owe them money. I’m not making an argument here. I’m not stating an opinion. I’m pointing out a fact. The law backs me up. You can be sued for stealing artistic works. People are rotting in jail for it. Open a restaurant and play music without paying for it, and BMI and ASCAP will come to your door and threaten you with lawsuits. And if they sue, they’ll win.

Trying to tell this to reasonable people is like talking to people with severe brain damage. “Okay, but if I buy the CD, and I COPY it, then I can give the copy to anyone I want, because I PAID for the CD.” No, Justice Cardozo, that is not how it works. You don’t get eternal, unlimited rights when you buy a book or an album. You get the right to personal use, with all sorts of limitations. If you burn a CD for a pal, you’re a thief.

It’s amazing how greed and stinginess warp the mind. It’s like addiction. Rationalization kicks in, and rationalization is one of the strongest things in the universe. “I can admit the truth, OR I can have 100,000 free songs on my Ipod.” The truth loses.

The public’s ignorant view of royalties is what leads to problems like the one Arianna is having. Even content providers–the writers themselves–start thinking their work is worthless. That’s why Arianna was able to get her site going in the first place. People thought they were lucky to be asked to work for nothing!

I had this happen to me a few years back. I wrote a piece that was picked up by Real Clear Politics. When they asked about republishing it, I was offended that they didn’t want to pay me. In the end, I gave up and let them use it. That was stupid. It did me no good whatsoever, and I was entitled to payment. They never bothered me again. So what? Do I need nonpaying jobs? Is there some hidden blessing in donating your work to other capitalist enterprises? Of course not.

People who don’t pay for content love to talk about “exposure.” If Vanity Fair or Time Magazine prints your piece, you shouldn’t ask for money, because you’re getting EXPOSURE!

Go to the grocery, fill your cart up with steaks, and tell the cashier you deserve them because you got EXPOSURE. Tell her to make a withdrawal from your EXPOSURE account. Folks, you can’t eat exposure. It won’t buy medicine for your kids. It won’t keep you from sleeping on a park bench in February. It’s worthless, unless it’s so huge it leads to bigger things. Being republished on a blog is not that kind of exposure.

Let me use my magical translating skills. “You’ll be getting EXPOSURE” really means, “I am cheap and greedy, and I think you’re an idiot.”

Here’s what my exposure on Real Clear Politics (and websites that have stolen my material) got me: nothing. It was flattering, but you can’t put flattery on bread and make a peanut butter and flattery sandwich.

When I ran Huffington’s Toast, I wanted everyone who wrote for it to make money. I wanted everyone to be credited for their work, so they would benefit from the thousands of hits we got every day. We were going to sell stuff. We were going to have ads. Most of the other writers wanted no part of it! One of them actually called me a filthy name because I wanted to run the site correctly.

These were supposedly conservative capitalists, yet they thought I was nuts for trying to run a business like a business. They didn’t want the public to know who wrote what. I don’t know what they expected to live on while the site generated no income and no one knew the names of the writers. The friction that developed over the disagreement is what killed the website. People just quit writing. If conservative writers can be this wrong, what hope is there for the rest of humanity?

I will note that none of us went on to greatness. Allahpundit, for all his talent, is still an obscure blogger. I managed to publish three books, and only one was even moderately successful, although becoming a religious nut and interrupting my promotion campaign played a big role there. Moxie and Jeff are history. Noel…I have have no idea what he’s up to. Aaron doesn’t even have a blog. This is the great victory our socialist ideals bought us! Comrades, I salute you! The folks at The Daily Kos should get a good belly laugh if they read this. We face-planted so beautifully.

We should have been the conservative Onion (only funny). Instead, we decided our work had no value, and in the end, the free market agreed, and I deleted the website. The Onion is on TV now, and it’s still not funny, but people are getting paid, because someone, somewhere realized that writing is a product.

I should have become what I was lampooning. I should have become Arianna. I should have accepted free work and made no effort to promote or credit anyone other than myself. Maybe I’d be getting sued now, but I’d be rich. Arianna will still be rich when this is over. A lawsuit is a small price to pay.

Of course, I don’t mean that. Losing yourself and becoming what you contemn is worse than failing at an enterprise. And every bad thing that has happened to me happened for a reason. God has swept in and picked me up, and things are better now than I could ever have imagined. If I had become the anti-Arianna, I wouldn’t have God’s powerful presence in my life every day. And I would be surrounded by a lot of sour, unfulfilled, grasping, treacherous people. I’m not referring to the other HT writers. I’m referring to political media figures, generally.

It’s funny; when I look back on this stuff, I temporarily forget how I’ve changed and how much I love life. I feel like I’m the same bitter person I was six years ago. But I’m not. So many wonderful things are happening to me. I trust happiness now. In the past, it was always a rug I knew would be pulled out from under me. I’m on a positive trend that will still be unfolding ten thousand years from now. The things I wanted back then were worthless and even poisonous. Thank God I didn’t get them.

Funny coincidence: yesterday I got a notification that the registration for huffingtonstoast.com was up for expiration. I kept it in my name so no one would try to rip it off. Now the corpse is beyond hope of resurrection, so I guess I can let it lapse.