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Traitor Don

May 9th, 2016

I am Godzilla! He is Japan!

I had to work on my dad’s taxes today, which means I had to deal with Quickbooks. Not the most pleasant day of my life.

Now I’m thinking how great it would be to be sitting at the bar at Trader Vic’s at the Plaza Hotel, enjoying the shade and a tiki puka puka or a Trader Vic’s sling. Unfortunately, I am in the wrong city, and Trader Vic’s is no longer at the Plaza. It was ousted long ago. Until today, I didn’t know the story.

I just found out DONALD TRUMP closed it in 1989.

I was pretty cool with his candidacy until today, but now I’m voting for Hillary.

I will never forget how crushed I was when I went to New York in about 2001, cabbed to the Plaza in joyous anticipation, and found a cheesy lunch restaurant in the glorious space Vic’s used to occupy.

I don’t ordinarily fantasize about tropical drinks, but it has been that kind of day.

Boat drinks, my friends. Boat drinks.

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Lesbos: the Coachella of 600 B.C.

May 9th, 2016

Songs Without Music Without Words

My progress through the Columbia College Lit. Hum. syllabus continues.

This weekend I knocked off Sappho’s Lyrics. This is about 340 pages of song fragments. The original Greek is included. The book is arranged so you see Greek on one page and the English translation on the other.

Here is my verdict: I don’t get it.

Take 340 pages and divide it by two. That gives you 170. Then jack up the margins so they take up half the page. Then lose maybe two thirds of the original material. You end up with a very short work. On top of that, many of the fragments are completely incomprehensible. Some lines contain only one word.

There isn’t a lot of meat here. There are some full paragraphs and pages, but they are separated by big gulfs of emptiness. You pretty much have to take it one line at a time.

Here is how page 15 reads, if you string the words together: “. . . so . . . Go . . . so we may see . . . lady . . . of golden arms . . . doom . . .”

This is not just literature; it’s archaeology. It’s like trying to guess what a pharaoh’s tomb looked like after 75% of the contents were removed.

There are some pleasant bits of poetry, and there is information that tells us a little bit about Greek culture. All in all, I would say it’s a lot like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You visit just so you can say you saw it, not so you can praise it as a coherent, useful work. Have I used that analogy before? I like it.

I think Mr. Cliff agrees with me. He never wrote notes for Lyrics. If Cliff don’t care, I don’t care.

I looked around for information, and I learned a few things about Sappho. It looks like she was the Madonna of her time, except without the tastelessness and lack of talent. She was a sort of rock star. She wrote songs that were so popular, they were disseminated around the Mediterranean during her lifetime.

In the ancient world, Sappho was a big deal. She was mentioned by many ancient authors. They thought she was swell.

That’s great, but her melodies are long gone, and most of her words have also disappeared. It’s as if we were trying to reconstruct the Beatles using LP’s with big wedges cut out of them. Actually, it’s worse. It’s like trying to reconstruct them by looking at old captures of Leo’s Lyrics (a webpage that contains popular song lyrics) with half of the words corrupted: “Rocky Raccoon . . . checked into . . . Gideon’s . . . legs.” To say that finding meaning in this stuff requires value added is a gross understatement. If a scholar isn’t careful, he will end up publishing his own thoughts and feelings instead of Sappho’s.

Not that a scholar would ever do a thing like that. Oh, no.

I have to wonder: are the scholars who seem excited about Sappho just overheated? Are they letting their emotions drive them to make more of the ruins than they should? Probably.

If someone found the feet of the Colossus of Rhodes and started giving tours in a glass-bottomed boat, I wouldn’t sit in the boat shrieking that it was the most beautiful statue I had ever seen. I would probably say, “Wow, it must have been neat before it was destroyed.” That seems like a realistic reaction to reading Sappho.

I can’t find the fierce lesbianism modern scholars impute to her. She was apparently married, and she makes references to children. It sure looks like she was a mom. There are lesbian moms, but they’re generally not homosexual icons.

Human beings used to have a thing called “platonic love,” which seems a little creepy by modern standards. It was okay for two men to hold hands and tell each other how beautiful they were; it didn’t mean they were sneaking around. The Iliad is full of this stuff. The men get excited and talk effusively about their love and admiration for each other, but there are no gay relationships.

The men of The Iliad are heterosexual to a fault. At worst, they’re on the down-low. They are enthusiastic about taking female sex slaves, and they seem to view rape as a healthy, liberating hobby. They are like goats on Viagra and bath salts. Their emotional behavior toward other men seems to stop at the bedroom door. Maybe it was the same with Sappho.

Platonic love is pretty much dead (whew) among modern American men, but it’s very much alive among women. Young women get together for sleepovers, do each other’s hair, lie in the same beds, and dance together in their underwear. Doesn’t make them lesbians.

So they claim.

Anyway, platonic love more than suffices to explain the things Sappho wrote.

Sappho says a number of clever things about human nature, but I don’t think that, by itself, makes her a genius. Human beings had been around for a very long time before she was born, and it doesn’t take a million years for us to size each other up. Being the first recorded person to say this or that doesn’t make you the first person to say it.

I will read up on her a little more, but I don’t think there’s that much to learn.

Currently, I’m reading The Odyssey, which is the story of Odysseus’ return from Troy. It was translated by Richmond Lattimore, the same guy who wrote the translation of The Iliad Columbia uses.

The Odyssey has two important virtues The Iliad lacks: 1) there is an actual story, and 2) it’s shorter.

The Iliad runs around 900 pages, and almost nothing happens. There is no structure whatsoever. Scholars pretend there is, but there isn’t. The Achaians do well against the Trojans. The Trojans get discouraged. The god start helping the Trojans. The Trojans do well against the Achaians. The Achaians get discouraged. The gods start helping the Achaians. Repeat this about fifty times, and you have The Iliad.

Spoiler: the Trojans lose. But the action stops abruptly before Brad Pitt gets shot in the foot.

The Odyssey is different in that things occasionally happen. It’s not an endless cycle of alternating favor. Odysseus gets captured by a nymph. He gets freed. He has adventures on the way home. When you read The Odyssey, you feel like you’re making progress.

In the end (SPOILER), Odysseus wins. You have closure. Real closure, not the crappy kind you get in The Iliad, which ends with Hektor’s pincushiony, not-so-godlike body going home in a wagon. Even the coke-sniffers in Hollywood knew The Iliad needed punching up. That’s why they added the stuff about sacking Troy. If they had pulled the plug when Peter O’Toole got on the wagon, there would have been riots.

Here’s a theory which I would like to contribute to Iliad scholarship: The Iliad ends abruptly because the people who were subjected to Homer’s seemingly endless droning chose Hektor’s return as a good excuse to get up and leave. Or maybe they hit Homer in the head with a club at that point, to shut him up.

If anyone wants to offer me a university chair, I am open to negotiation. A chair may not be enough. I may hold out for an ottoman.

It will be hard to choose among the offers. Universities are clamoring to get conservative Christian professors who carry loaded pistols.

The next book in the syllabus is Genesis. I plan to skip that. I feel like I have that one under control. I’ve even read supplementary materials, such as Jubilees, Enoch, and The Modern Fundamentalist Fascist’s Guide to Homophobia, which I co-authored.

After that comes The Histories, by Herodotus. This book bears the distinction of having been not read by me in two different courses. I took an ancient history course in high school, and I’m pretty sure I avoided reading Herodotus, and then I almost certainly skipped it at Columbia.

Herodotus contains the story of the battle of Thermopylae, better known to Beyonce fans as 300. I watched 300 the other day, and I was highly annoyed to see bare breasts pop out for no good reason. You never know when nudity will reach out and grab you. I watched a movie about Beethoven the other day, and Ed Harris mooned the camera.

I think that was harmless. My feelings for Ed Harris aren’t even platonic.

As I so often do, I will go out on a limb and speculate. Because it’s easier than finding out the truth. I speculate that Xerxes was not an eight-foot-tall circus morphodite whose palace was actually a body modification parlor, and I further speculate that he wore actual pants. I doubt he had a ten-foot-tall giant that could fight even after you shoved a spearhead six inches into his skull (via the eyeball). I doubt the Spartan army dressed like a dance team from La Bare, and that they went on long journeys equipped only with spears, velvet cloaks, and dark red Speedos.

I don’t think the Spartans built a mountaintop temple on a crag so steep a fit man could barely climb it. How would you get the construction materials up there? How about food and water? What about wifi?

Anyway, that’s next.

I’ve learned one nice thing about the ancient Greeks. They treated their gods better than we do. They didn’t just hop in boats and sail off to kill people. They prayed and sacrificed beforehand. They were constantly asking the gods what they were doing wrong, so they could fix it. Imagine how much easier our lives would be if we treated the actual, real-life God that way.

I also noticed a major problem with the Greek religion. Well, two problems. First, the official name of the religion appears to be “mythology.” When you’re a Greek, that has to be bad for your faith. But also, the Greek gods do not get along.

Imagine that. Imagine you pray to Jehovah, and he gives you the okay, and then Jesus says, “Yeah, right, we’ll see about that,” and then he sneaks around behind the scenes, shipwrecking you on islands populated by one-eyed giant cannibals. That’s not how Christianity works. Christianity says, “God is one,” meaning, “God is unified.” The Spirit-led are unified. If we disagree about anything, it means someone is doing it wrong.

In mythology, you can’t make all the gods happy. Please one, and another one is on your case. That’s no way to run a godhead.

Another major problem: the Greek gods are a bit thick. None of them ever says anything intelligent or mature. Dealing with them is like placating huge, armed children. It’s like the segment of the old Twilight Zone movie, where adults had to kiss the rear end of an omnipotent little kid in order to keep him from projecting them into the violent horror of “Cartoon World.”

If stupid, immature gods are your thing, mythology is for you. And don’t believe the lies. It’s not the national religion of Mexico, no matter how many times you think you hear them say, “Yay, Zeus.”

That’s all I have for now. I am officially in charge of doing my elderly father’s taxes now, so I have to go and immerse myself in the new level of Tartarus known as Quickbooks. Odd name for the program, since “quick” means “alive,” which is the opposite how how I expect it to make me feel.

They say only death and taxes are inevitable. If only death came first.

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You Can’t Beat That Salvadoran Craftsmanship

May 6th, 2016

No Wonder They Want to Get Away From It

The saga of the sprinkler pump continues, much like the decade-long siege of Troy.

It’s interesting to examine the gargantuan sprinkler/irrigation apparatus in the shed, and to note its many revolting flaws.

The whole thing is situated about two and a half feet below the water level of the pool. That means water is always trying to get into the shed, even when everything is turned off. Whenever a valve or a joint has a problem, water starts dribbling out.

The sprinkler pump is connnected to the pool system so the pool can be filled from a well instead of the tap, and so the irrigation pump can be used to drain the pool. The sad result of this is that if the valve going from the sprinkler pump to the pool-fill outlet leaks (it does), water leaks from the pool into the sprinkler pump. You never see it. The water level in the pool keeps dropping, for no apparent reason.

I doubt there is such a thing as a completely reliable valve. Maybe old-style metal gate valves are good enough to shut down the drips, but the valve that goes to the pool-fill outlet is in a section of the system that’s all PVC, so the valve is a crappy plastic ball valve.

The pool pump is also under constant pressure from the pool water, so water escapes from the plumbing and goes on the floor. The pool service people are absolutely inept. They can’t do anything about it. They can’t figure out how to fill the pool; they just leave notes for me. They can’t seat the skimmer basket lid correctly so it doesn’t leak. When the return pipe developed leaks, they couldn’t fix it.

I don’t know if they realize people pay them to do this stuff. People don’t want to be their own pool guys. If I wanted to be a pool guy, I’d get a crappy Japanese pickup and fill the back with hoses and go to work.

They’re fired, as of next week.

Today I went out and replaced several feet of PVC above the pool pump. Water was coming out through two joints. Instead of replacing those joints and the pipe between them, they put in two crummy repair joints (one of which leaked), and in the process, it looks like they loosened another joint. I spent 45 minutes working on it, and now it’s fine. And I’m just winging it. I’m not trained. Shouldn’t they be able to do this?

The sprinkler pump was connected to a wall box using flex conduit. The ground wire from the motor went into the box, where it led to…a cap. There was a second green ground wire in the box, screwed to the back of the box, leading to…another cap. Some genius disconnected the ground AND took the time to cap the disconnected ends. Explain that. In a sane world, that would be considered attempted murder.

I got some 12-gauge extension cord, a 30-amp plug, and a 30-amp receptacle, and I made a cord for the new pump. The cord goes into the motor housing through a strain relief fitting. The other end goes the new plug, which I wired. I replaced the ridiculous flex conduit with another length of cord and the 30-amp receptacle. Now if I ever have to move the pump again, I can just unplug it. And it’s grounded! What a novel concept.

I still have to fasten the pump to the floor and finish the pipe on the suction end. The floor under the pump is always wet, and that makes it hard to mark the floor and put holes in it. The floor is wet because the pool-fill valve leaks through the sprinkler pump.

The wet floor makes it hard to finish fixing the pump, and the fact that the pump isn’t fixed keeps the floor wet. It’s some catch, that catch 22.

I know this is boring. I don’t care. I have to release some pressure. If you don’t like it, go look at Gawker. Before Hulk Hogan eats it.

I’m about one hour away from finishing up the sprinkler mess. After that, I have to find a company that can come out and fix the pipes under the yard and the sprinkler heads. That, I refuse to do. Everyone has a limits. Nothing is worse than working on sprinklers.

Eventually I will have to confront the problem with the grade. The driveway is too high, so water runs into the pool and sprinkler areas. I’m going to have to chalk this up to the total incompetence of South Florida tradesmen, just like my other problems. It should be obvious that you can’t raise a driveway an inch every time you resurface it. Whoever fixed the driveway last time didn’t get the memo.

I need to put some kind of barrier on the doorway thresholds, to keep the water from running into the pump areas. The thresholds are concrete, and I don’t know of anything that sticks to concrete well. I’m thinking I may go get some aluminum channel and attach it with screws, filling the underside with gunk to seal it. Wood will rot, even if it’s pressure-treated. Steel will rust. Masonry won’t seal against the concrete under it. At least I think it won’t.

Tomorrow I expect to be done with this crap. Then I guess I’ll have to fix something else another person failed to do correctly.

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Quick! Drinkin’ Buddy! To the Minivan!

May 5th, 2016

Fool me Once, Shame on You. Fool me 30,000 Times, Shame on Me

Old people know stuff. Old people can connect the dots. I’m going to apply my old person skills right now and see if it pays off.

A man in Ann Arbor, Michigan, just confessed to poisoning produce at Whole Foods. Let’s add up the facts and see what we can guess.

1. Ann Arbor. This is a suburb of Detroit, which is a Muslim stronghold. That area of Michigan is almost a caliphate.

2. The criminal is male, and most Islamist terrorists are male.

3. In the store surveillance video, he appears to be pretty hairy, which is not exactly rare among people from the Middle East and nearby regions which are dominated by Islam. The Boston bombers were dark, hairy individuals. So was the nut in San Bernardino. For that matter, so was bin Laden, and so were all of the 911 killers. Is it racist to say people from that area are hairy? Yeah, okay. And there are probably lots of tall blonds in Japan.

4. The police have the man in custody, and they refuse to reveal his name.

My bet: low-budget Muslim terrorist. I would say “lone wolf,” but wolves are intelligent. Mouse poison on organic figs is not the way to kill people.

I could be wrong. Maybe he’s a Baptist whose ex-girlfriend runs the produce section at Whole Foods. Maybe she dumped him, and now he’s out to punish the world and get her fired.

Maybe he finally realized he was paying way too much for tabouleh.

Cops and journalists now have a well-established history of holding onto the names of Muslim terror suspects. If a random individual who is not a Muslim commits a crime, they release the name in a hurry. Journalists, especially, like to get the information out there fast. They don’t do that with Muslims or people who seem like they may be Muslims. They wait, as though hoping the suspects will magically turn into Norwegians. They keep trying to perpetuate the myth that there isn’t a problem among American Muslims.

For some reason, they love pretending Christians and white supremacists (same thing, in the mind of the press) are the real danger. The truth is that Christians have little interest in terrorism, and white supremacists can’t get it together well enough to do much. Most of them are too busy doing roofing, watching game shows and pirated porn in their girlfriends’ moms’ trailers, or working on chain gangs.

Place your bets.

Update

Sometimes it’s sort of nice to be wrong. It restores your faith in mankind’s ability to not be completely predictable.

The Whole Foods guy is a blond man named Kyle Bessemer. Assuming he’s not convert, he is a plain old non-Muslim American.

I was right about the San Bernardino dude, though, so it all evens out.

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Adios, Troy

May 4th, 2016

Sweet Freedom

I finally finished reading The Iliad. It happened yesterday. I feel like a runaway slave.

I got one good thing out of it: new empathy for my college-age self. I had forgotten how mind-numbingly boring liberal arts courses are, and The Iliad brought it all back to me. I criticize myself for being lazy in college, and I am correct to do so, but in my partial defense, college is really, really dull.

It’s not always dull. It’s mainly dull when you’re taking stupid the wrong courses.

I always did well at verbal tasks when I was a kid, winning the city spelling bee and so forth. I was an excellent writer. I understood literature without much help. I won a couple of statewide prizes in French.

When I was ready to apply to college, the head of the English department at Columbia College of Columbia University, a Mr. Carl Hovde, sent me a letter inviting me to apply. Columbia was top five, as American universities go. They claimed.

It was sort of assumed that I would be a liberal arts guy.

Further [seeming] confirmation came from my poor grades in math. I didn’t dislike math, but you can’t cram very well in math courses, so it’s an area where lazy students get eaten alive. I procrastinated doggedly, and my grades reflected it. My advisor “recommended” I stop taking math courses after the 11th grade.

It was bizarre, really. I got a D- in Algebra II, and then I got an A- in Geometry the class that followed it. Then I believe I failed the next course, which was called Math Analysis.

Why would anyone get an A- between a D- and an F?

In subjects like history and literature, you can do almost nothing until right before your exams and still get A’s or B’s. This is why most students gravitate toward them.

Incidentally, I always feel funny using the term “liberal arts” to describe the basket-weaving, distaffy side of the curriculum. Today we use it to mean anything except math, engineering, and science, but in reality, it’s supposed to include math and science. I don’t know where we lost track of that.

But I will persist in using the misnomer.

I thought of myself as someone not destined to be involved with math or science, and that was a big mistake. When I got to college and started taking classes in subjects like literature and philosophy, I did not have a good time. It was a lot like the past week. “I can’t believe how boring this is.” “I can’t believe they’re paying this guy to tell me about Don Quixote.” “Why does this book have to be so long?”

The literature courses I took were generally a complete waste of money and time. I am not saying that as a surly kid with a weed habit. I am saying that as a surly old person who actually knows.

Having graduated from college and ready many books, and having sat through many literature lectures, I can say with assurance that there is nothing, nothing, nothing you can learn from a literature professor that you can’t learn with a library card or an Internet connection. College runs around a thousand dollars per credit, so if you take a literature course, it will cost you several thousand dollars to have an old hippie explain Huckleberry Finn to you. There is no way in HELL you can convince a reasonable person that this makes sense.

I’ll bet there are literature lectures online for nothing, if you are really determined to suffer. I’ll check.

Of COURSE. There was no way I could have been wrong. Here’s a Harvard Shakespeare course, presented free of charge.

On top of the issue of waste, when you let other people charge you to explain books to you, you are very likely to be taught ancient, revered error few have the guts to correct.

I’ve been going through the Columbia College Literature Humanities syllabus, and today I read Sappho’s Lyrics. Don’t read it; trust me. I’m just mentioning it in order to make a point. Everyone thinks Sappho was a lesbian. The word “lesbian” comes from “Lesbos,” which is where she lived. “Sapphic” means “lesbian.” If you go to college, there’s a good chance your prof will tell you Sappho was a lesbian. I read her book today, and there is absolutely no way you can conclude that from the fragments of manic-depressive verse she left behind.

I went online and read up on her. Guess what? There is no proof that she was a lesbian. There are real scholars who say so. They must be lesbian deniers; they reject settled literary consensus.

Liberal arts professors generally aren’t all that smart, and they’re not original. They memorize and parrot. If one makes a mistake in 1100 A.D., another is likely to repeat it for money in 2016. Think about that while your life savings are paying for creaky, dubious insights on Dickens and Proust.

If you’re smart, you’re smart enough to make your own mistakes instead of swallowing someone else’s.

I realize our culture has to be preserved, and people have to take literature and art courses and pay for them. I’m just suggesting that you–the person reading this–would be smart to let someone else shoulder the burden. Take something useful instead. It doesn’t have to be math or science. Learn a language…well, Rosetta Stone software is probably better than college. Okay; study music. It’s tough to form a jazz orchestra on your own.

Some liberal arts professors are really good, but come on. No literature or history teacher is $3000-per-semester good. Especially not in the age of Youtube.

When I finally took some left-brain courses, it was a lot more fun than poring over the grey pages of Machiavelli and Joyce. I still did badly. I had never learned study habits, and I was perpetually depressed about the divorce-related drama going on in my family, so I didn’t have much energy. I had no self-confidence at all, as a result of growing up with abuse. But at least I enjoyed the lectures and labs.

I did well at gut courses I hated, because they were easy. I did poorly in great courses I liked, because they were hard.

Liberal arts people love to say left-brain people are not smarter; just different. That’s a load. They’re smarter. No one ever graduates from college and says, “Man, Survey of American Cinema was tough.” Everyone complains about physics.

Left-brain people are usually less capable when it comes to verbal stuff, but they are not as stupid as right-brain people trying to do math.

I thought I was a right-brainer because I did well in that area, but in reality I was just a shocking left-brained underachiever.

I could never be a literature professor. I can read it. I can understand it. I can come up with BS insights with the best of them. It’s still dull. It’s fun to read for recreational purposes, but choking down boring tomes in 100-page daily doses in order to be prepared for mildewed lectures your prof wrote 50 years ago and never revised…that’s not my idea of stimulation.

I still plan to read these books, for the same reason kids memorize the alphabet. There are some things a civilized person should know, and also, I will feel like I’ve partially compensated for avoiding reading them when I was young.

I got started on The Odyssey today. It’s only 400 pages, and some of that is surely notes which I can ignore. After that comes Genesis, which I can skip for obvious reasons. Then Herodotus, which I skipped in high school as well as college. Herodotus isn’t literature, so I plan to get a translation I can read, not one that makes literature profs happy.

It looks like The Iliad is the real Sunday punch of first semester Literature Humanities. It’s the longest and presumably most boring book.

When this is over, my understanding of the classics will be not unlike the understanding of Europe you get from a ten-cities-in-three-days tour of Europe. But that will more than suffice.

I expect praise. People may even say this was my aristeia.

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Suit Up or Die

May 3rd, 2016

Pleading and Sweet Talk are for Calmer Times

I keep waking up every morning, considerably earlier than I would like to, and when I do, I go into prayer. I learn a lot during these sessions.

Today it happened again. I found myself talking to God about the world and myself.

The closer I get to God, the better I understand how far away I am. I really messed things up. Over several decades, I forged myself into a useless tool, and it’s taking God quite a while to shape me into something useful.

That’s okay. As long as you have breath in you, all criticism is opportunity. It’s someone showing you the door that leads out of your problems. You just have to walk through. I ask God to criticize me every day.

Unfortunately, the news for the world at large is not as good.

Most human beings are going nowhere; Christians know that. A big portion of the world belongs to Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. There are many other cults out there that compete with the truth. Many people are atheists, so they have no faith at all.

That’s not news. It wouldn’t surprise most Christians. The thing that would shock them is the utter uselessness of the church.

It would be bad if church doctrine were wrong about 5% of its claims, but I would say 5% is closer to the percentage of things we get right.

One of the worst things we’ve done has been to turn Christianity into the new Judaism. The Jews had hundreds of laws to obey, and modern rabbinical Judaism teaches that God weighs your obedience against your disobedience and decides whether to save you. Most Christians believe something like that. They think “good” people (everyone except serial killers and child rapists) go to heaven and extremely “bad” people go to hell.

The single biggest gift we received as a result of the crucifixion is freedom from the law. We don’t have to stay home and refrain from work on Saturday. We can eat bread during Passover. We don’t have to tithe. We don’t have to put in years of study just to have some idea what the law actually means. All that stuff was swept off our plates, but traditional churches pulled it out of storage and set it before us again.

Most of us think we have to earn our way into heaven. That leads to a couple of major consequences. If you think you have to earn your salvation, you’re not saved; salvation comes by faith. It also makes you proud. Anyone foolish enough to think he is so good he can put God in a position where he owes us salvation is mired in pride.

We keep telling God we’re supposed to fix our own problems. We think it’s selfish and wrong to ask for help, so we say, “I got this.” When you say you don’t need help, God stops helping you. Satan, however, keeps right on attacking. It’s a bad situation to be in, and many churches encourage it.

The new legalism is bizarre. In many denominations, it tells us God doesn’t care about horrendous sins like sodomy and fornication, but it says he saves nice people because they’re good to others. That’s a lot of nonsense. Hell is full of nice people who didn’t believe in Jesus.

We have the insane idea that Christianity is about what we do. We think there’s a big scoreboard, and we have to rack up points. That notion came from Satan, not God. Christianity is about what we ARE. It’s about inner change that comes from the Holy Spirit.

The ancient Jews were very interested in sin. They wanted people to obey the rules. Jesus came along, took the burden of obeying rules off of us, and gave us a new burden: we were supposed to change the way we felt. We were supposed to change our desires. Judaism didn’t make these demands because without the Holy Spirit, we could not comply. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to clean us out and change our natures.

The new legalists don’t care that much about what you are. They just want you to act nice.

Yes, Jesus said people should obey his commandments. The problem is that he was not referring to the Ten Commandments or the rest of the fixed law. He was talking about the real-time commandments relayed to us by the Holy Spirit.

How could the apostles teach that we were under the law while telling us to obey it? It’s facially absurd.

A lot of the time, the Holy Spirit will agree with the written law, but often he won’t. He probably won’t require you to circumcise a son or give up pork. The Jews had hundreds of commandments, not just ten. If Jesus was talking about the law when he said we should obey his commandments, he was telling us to become Jews. That’s not what he meant. It should be obvious.

The church has denied the Holy Spirit for almost two thousand years. We have been cut off from the source of our power and growth. There are almost no preachers who can teach you anything useful. Almost all of them are like goalkeepers; they will do nearly anything to keep you from winning.

A typical preacher will help you receive salvation and then let you starve. Actually, it’s worse than starving. He will not feed you anything good, but he will fill you with poison. He may tell you to pray to dead people. He may tell you God will make you rich for sending him money. You’ll think he’s giving you treasure, and you’ll stuff yourself with it. The poison will take up the space the truth is supposed to fill.

The church isn’t experiencing a setback. It’s suffering a catastrophe.

The devil won. We had a few decades of freedom, and we gave it back. The Catholics ousted the Holy Spirit and turned the church into the biggest terrorist organization on earth, in order to intimidate people who might bring the Holy Spirit back. Now we have little pockets of people who are on the right path, but on a percentage basis, just about all of the world’s Christians are backward. They serve Satan all day and all night, even when they think they’re serving God.

Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. Maybe that’s when things went to hell. The world hates all true children of God, and it hates their ways. When Christianity becomes the world’s religion, something has to give.

It’s not possible to serve God and be accepted by the world. Read the New Testament and see. For that matter, read the Old Testament. The prophets were hated. The king who was greatest in worldly terms was Solomon, and he was a disgusting failure who practiced Satanic religions.

I thought about the state of the world this morning, and more than ever, I saw its corruption and hopelessness. We are at the point where the world is so filthy, God is going to have to start pulling his children aside. Just as he could not let Lot live in Sodom his entire life, he is going to have to put some distance between Spirit-led Christians and the stinking, vicious world of Satan.

When people insist on loving excrement, there comes a time when merely being in their presence is intolerable. That day is just about here. We will soon reach a point where the negative effects of keeping Christians in the world will outweigh the desirability of saving more souls.

I can’t believe the gross things people say on TV these days. I can’t believe we have entire cities where public nudity is legal. I can’t believe the government is forcing us to allow unvetted male perverts into locker rooms and bathrooms set aside for women. Humanity has become deranged. Up is down, and black is white. And because we don’t know the Holy Spirit, we can’t fight the world. Instead, we assimilate and fight God. When you can’t fight evil, you make good the problem.

I wish there were more time, and I wish more of us had the knowledge and power to help others. I wish the free will of those who hate God wasn’t set against him. But wishes aren’t horses, so I guess I won’t ride.

All you can do now is carve out a bubble of prayer and obedience and stay in it. If you’re not trying, you’re going to suffer a lot. God is kind, but history shows that he will allow believers to be tortured and killed almost without limitation if they’re not doing things his way.

We still perish for lack of knowledge. It’s not a joke.

There is hope for you. The world can’t be fixed, but you are not the world. Get with the program ASAP if you don’t want a lifestyle of defeat and despair. Don’t let the smooth seas fool you; they will kick up again before you know it. We’re not receiving a reward. We’re receiving time to arm ourselves.

Maybe someone will listen and apply my advice. I hope so. Maybe this blog will be up after the church has been removed from the world, and someone will read it and see the truth in it.

Whatever happens down here, God is still in heaven, and as long as there is blood in your veins, he is willing to change your destiny. Think it over. There is no alternative.

2 Comments »

Spreadsheets are not Where I Excel

May 2nd, 2016

Bring in the Dart-Throwing Chimp

What joy I’m having today. I wish everyone reading this could share it with me. I mean it. All four of you.

Maybe it’s more than four. I finally decided to find out what Feedly is, and it looks like I have 39 subscribers. Hey, it’s your time. If you really think this is a good way to spend it, I guess I don’t mind enabling you.

I’ve spent a good part of the day learning to use a spreadsheet program. I mainly use my garage computer these days, and because I’m too cheap to pay for Microsoft Office, I put Open Office on it, and it includes a spreadsheet. That’s what I used.

I was comparing homeowner’s insurance quotes. Yes, you may shoot me if you are in the area.

If insurance brokers actually wanted you to understand what you’re buying, they would use a standard quote form. I can state with confidence, but without research, that by 2016, this thought has occurred to someone in the industry. Instead, everyone makes up a form, and comparing them is nearly (and intentionally) impossible.

Here is my primitive understanding of spreadsheets. They allow you to make huge tables of things you want to compare or analyze, and you can do bulk math on the stuff in the boxes. I think that’s correct. I haven’t done any of the bulk math stuff.

I made three lists for three quotes, and I tried to line up corresponding costs so I could compare them. After I was done, I found out I actually had two quotes that looked like three. Or something. I still haven’t figured it out.

I’m only a lawyer. I shouldn’t be expected to understand insurance quotes directed at the ignorant masses.

The quote I like is the one that appears to try least hard to hide things from me.

The main thing I’ve learned is that hurricane windows are probably a good idea. I guess that was helpful. Hurricane windows cut insurance costs by almost two thirds.

I found some people to give me window quotes. I wonder if I’ll be able to understand them.

I also found tech specs for the sprinkler pump I ordered, so I should be able to get the crap I need to install it and turn it into a plug-and-play job by the time the pump arrives.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I’m a riot.

No, what will actually happen is that I will scout out the correct parts and prepare them as well as possible, and then a bunch of unforeseeable stuff will happen, and I’ll end up in the pump shed, covered with filth, using the wrong tools to do a bad job fixing problems I don’t really understand.

This is not my first rodeo.

I can predict in advance that I will do a much better job of installing the pump than anyone I could hire. That’s a certainty. I guess the pros keep getting their parole revoked before they can get really good.

I’ve never been in a penitentiary (let’s hope my luck holds), but they must have really wonderful roofs, sprinklers, and landscaping. Practically everyone in there who isn’t a lawyer is in one of those fields.

I don’t know how Feedly works, because I do not read blogs. My fear (not a big one) is that subscribers get the first version of anything I write. If so, I feel for them, because I never proofread until I’ve published the first version. I feel especially bad for anyone who comes and posts an angry comment based on a typo or something I deleted during proofreading. Like I’ll type something like, “I like women who have a lot of class” and forget to type the “cl.”

I have been somewhat productive today, and I have suffered tremendously, so I feel like I can allow myself to get back to The Iliad and knock off a few dozen pages. Yesterday I did something like 130 pages. This is like reading 3000 pages of a normal book while someone sprays soapy water in your eyes. I was determined to get it behind me, so I made the sacrifice.

Just a normal sacrifice. Not a hecatomb, complete with bulls and boars and bird entrails.

It looks like Hektor is not long for this world. When I exited Scrib’d, he was talking smack to Achilleus.

Greek heroes are a great deal like WWE stars. They can’t just kill you. They have to stand in front of a crowd and give a juvenile speech first. It’s sad, really. Both guys will talk about how bad they are and how they’re going to send the other guy to hell in several shipments blah blah blah, and then one sentence later Homer is telling you how the head of one’s spear is going in the other’s ear and out through his tongue, separating his teeth from his jaws and causing his eyeballs to pop out and roll in the dust.

I guess the Greeks never heard the expression, “I ain’t going out like that.” They DO go out like that. Over and over.

After a Greek hero kills you, he strips you naked and takes your armor (lot of good it did you), and then he either leaves you there for the dogs to eat, or he cuts up your dead body for fun. And then leaves you there for the dogs to eat.

So your Greek buddies are still running around having a gay old time, jabbing each other with lances, and there you are, naked, several yards from your eyeballs. And the guy who did it is probably giving another speech and laughing his butt off.

I fail to see the appeal.

Dogs, worms, and crows seem to do well in these stories.

I may actually finish this book today. I certainly hope so.

3 Comments »

Birds of the Air and Beasts of the Field

May 1st, 2016

Scavengers are Here to Pick Our Bones

I wonder how many people watched Larry Wilmore’s performance at last night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I listened to it on Youtube today. It was creepy and disturbing.

Larry Wilmore is the host of a cable offering called The Nightly Show. I haven’t seen it. I assume it’s similar to The Daily Show, which means it’s a comedy show that takes potshots at politicians, with most of the ammunition spent on conservatives.

Wilmore is black. I don’t know where he came from. Probaby a former Jon Stewart staffer?

From the standpoints of writing and performance, he did a great job. Most of the jokes were smart, and to people with lowered sensitivities, they were funny. But if the measure is kindness or good taste, he scored pretty low.

He used the word “jigaboo” in a joke about Ben Carson. He called the President “nigger” on national TV.

Things like that show our nation has turned a corner.

The dinner is an annual affair. It isn’t a government event. The White House doesn’t host it. But as the name shows, it is closely associated with the presidency, and the president sits in an honored place beside the podium, lending credibility. The journalists who attend supposedly represent a very select cross-section of the press. In a more ideal word, you would call them “dignitaries.”

Hired speakers who appear at the dinner are supposed to be funny, and they have to be critical. Nonetheless, you expect them to hold to a certain level of decorum. People all over the world see this event, and they see our president and vice president sitting there grinning. You don’t expect speakers to humiliate them or drag them down to the schoolyard level.

Wilmore said some things no one should say at this type of event. He said the people at Morning Joe had their heads “up Trump’s ass.” I’m sorry, but those are his actual words.

He said some harsh things about journalists, and some of his insults were appropriate and well-deserved, by our society’s standards. On the other hand, he was crass, and sometimes he was cruel, and at least one of his guests was just as boorish.

He called liberal TV head Don Lemon an “alleged journalist,” and Lemon held up his hand and gave him the finger for the cameras, proving Wilmore’s point. Try to imagine David Brinkley doing that.

Try to imagine a performance like this taking place in 1970. It could not have happened. We are no longer restrained by God. We have been given over to immaturity, cruelty, and poor judgment.

The tide has changed in this country. People who used to lose now win, and that’s a problem, because they are people who can’t handle power. Whatever errors and misdeeds we can lay at the feet of the old guard, they weren’t stupid enough to welcome foreigners who want to come here illegally and vote. They were generally aware that socialism destroyed nations. They were not supportive of sexual confusion and sexual sin; they knew these things caused terrible problems. They at least paid lip service to the idea that pride and cruelty are evil.

I suppose I’ll look bad when I say this, but suddenly, groups that screw up a lot have too much power.

In the past, women, minorities and sexually confused individuals had less power than they do now, and they suffered abuse. Their suffering matters, and it was never right to mistreat them. But now they have a lot of clout, and they’re showing they are going to be worse masters than the old mostly white men who used to be in charge.

If men could not vote, we would literally have communism and gulags. Just about everything would be “free.” Putting dangerous criminals in jail would be nearly impossible. Running a business would be nearly impossible. As a bloc, women vote for anyone who promises to take care of them, and in doing so, they make government their husband and god. They are extremely supportive of left-wing candidates, and they are the main reason we have abhorrent policies on things like convenience abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, environmental extremism, and socialism. They crave authoritarianism.

Minorities vote just like women. Anyone who will promise to help them “get even” gets their votes. People with gender problems are the same way.

The big danger used to be that we would put Caesars and Nebuchadnezzars in the White House. Now we vote for Nurse Ratched, Angela Davis, and Bill Ayres.

In the long term, people cause their own problems. I know a lot of blacks and Hispanics, and I’m sorry to tell you, the ones who do what everyone else does do pretty well. Generally, the ones who have hard lives are doing everything wrong. In 2016, you can’t claim you didn’t know felony arrests and face tattoos would make you unemployable. You can’t claim you didn’t know bad credit would cripple you economically.

I know former pimps. I know prostitutes. I know drug dealers and thieves. I know people who don’t pay their bills. I know a guy with a giant tattoo on his neck. Come on. Your skin color or your Spanish last name is not the problem. Being white won’t rocket you to success. White people who do all the wrong things end up on the bottom, too.

Latin Americans aren’t coming here because white people ruined Latin America. They ruined it themselves. They’re actually coming to flee other Latin Americans. Think about that.

They continue ruining their countries every day. The ones who had bad values at home bring those bad values here, and they live in neighborhoods that are a lot like their home countries: dangerous and poor. They even bring low wages with them by ignoring our wage-hour laws.

People from unsuccessful sectors of society should be copying the rest of us. It worked for Asians who came here as slaves. It works pretty well for anyone. Instead, many have decided to proclaim themselves victims and persecute everyone who disagrees with them.

There is a pattern in America; in the world, for that matter. People with old-fashioned beliefs build things up. Then they decay. Then people from unsuccessful groups move in to distribute the goodies, and everything falls apart.

I thought about this when Obama was elected in 2004. It was like watching people with bad values move into a suburb and turn it into a slum.

Obama has the most counterproductive ideas of any modern US president. He is a whiner who lives to make excuses and blame others falsely. He persecutes people who work. He rewards the lazy. He encourages racism against whites. He has the heart of a looter. He doesn’t build. He just mines the accumulated wealth earlier generations built up. He destroys it and passes it out.

The things Wilmore said seemed to have supernatural significance. There was a deeper message. I would sum it up thus: “Our side runs things now. We haven’t changed our ways. We insist on having power without self-examination or growth. We have no respect. We have no gratitude, compassion, or humility. We will show you how to run this country, and we will punish you.”

“We’ll take it from here.”

The old guard blew it. No doubt about that. People of European extraction committed genocide and atrocities. They bought millions of slaves from Africans and brought them here and made their lives hell. They did all sorts of bad things. But we’re about to find out that the people who come after them are a lot worse. They are less educated, and they perceive themselves as victims. There is no limit to the cruelty and barbarism of a self-proclaimed victim. A lot of their motivation comes not from a desire to reform, but a desire to make the other guy suffer.

What do we do about it? Nothing. Don’t put me on a list of possible insurgents. If I’m on one, take me off. I give up. I don’t care. It can’t be fixed, so to the looters and invaders, I say, “Go ahead and have your fun, and let me know if I’m in your way so I can move farther away from your power centers.” I don’t plan to do anything except talk about it. Eventually, that, itself, will be considered treason. One day, committees will go through old Internet posts. The Wayback Machine will be used to prepare evidence for criminal trials. You wait and see.

America’s goose is cooked. I don’t intend to get worked up about it. We made our choice. The people on the top, the people on the bottom…every segment of America chose destruction over God. I accept it. You should, too. When David’s baby son was dying, he fasted and prayed until the boy died, and then he got up and went on with his life. Part of Christianity is acknowledging finality and closure. You don’t want to become a pillar of salt.

The nation is finished, but some people can change. If you want to accomplish something, focus on the individual, starting with yourself. We are never going to see a day when huge crowds in America assemble simultaneously, repent, and beg God to bring back his favor. Shoot for targets you can actually hit. Choose your battles.

Wilmore makes me glad I didn’t get any attention when I was working as a humorist. If I had gotten everything I wanted, I would be just like him. Conceited beyond belief. Stuffed with success, yet eager for more promotion. Utterly insensitive. I would have made cruelty my profession; I was well on the way.

I wonder who will come after Larry Wilmore and his generation. Things can still get worse. They could do what the Romans did; they could torture people to death for laughs.

That’s probably coming. I shouldn’t say it lightly. We’re just like the Romans, the Germans, the Austrians, the Cambodians…

Keep repenting. Keep praising. Keep thanking God. You’re going to need his help more and more as time passes, and it will take time for you to grow into a warrior. On the job training doesn’t work well for combat soldiers.

It’s very sad to see a society develop tools that should propel it forward like never before, and then move backward. But we keep improving technology instead of ourselves. A monkey with an Internet connection and Google Glass is still a monkey.

Guess I’ll go outside and wave at the drones now.

6 Comments »

Not Pumped

April 30th, 2016

Mexican Electrics, Unbelievably, Fail the Endurance Test

The sprinkler pump adventure is not over yet.

My old pump is supposed to have 1.5″ plumbing, minimum, and the motor should be 1.5 HP. When I cut the old PVC off, I found that the pipe had narrowed to 1.25″ or less, and it was globbed up with plastic. The walls weren’t smooth and straight. It was like the inside of a cave. The pump (a Mexican replacement for the original) was 2 HP, so I was paying for electricity I didn’t need.

For some reason, I thought irrigation pumps were expensive. I just assumed. The one I had was heavy cast iron, and it was made in America, so I figured it cost a ton. When I saw a replacement motor for $165, I thought it was a deal, so I bought it.

Today I got the motor out of the shed, which was not fun at all, and I carried it to my bench. That’s about fifty yards, and it probably weighs 75 awkward pounds. I took the motor apart in pieces and then found I was going to have a hard time getting the shaft out of the impeller. The shaft should have been stainless, but it was very rusty, and there was no way to access the impeller without taking the pump apart. The pump was pretty much a unit, with the halves welded together by rust caused by the installer’s decision to leave the iron base sitting just off the ground surrounded by wet leaves.

I decided to derust the pump. I put it in a shop vac tub with water and soda, and I connected a battery charger.

After all this work, I went on the web and started researching pumps, and I found out a new one is only $300. That’s not chicken feed, but I was thinking $600 or something, based on what the sprinkler guys were saying. They are just as hopeless as the pump.

Now I have a new pump on the way, and I’m trying to cancel the new motor. I’m hoping they didn’t ship it yet. I ordered it late on a Friday. I don’t care. They are welcome to the return shipping fee.

After all this misery, I have learned some important things. I already mentioned the bad installation and the screwed-up pipes. I also learned that the motor I just trashed wasn’t grounded. Somebody could have been killed working on it. The person who installed it deliberately left it that way. I believe that would be the same company that just came out here and failed in almost every regard. Now I know not to call them again.

I’m going to install the new pump myself because NO ONE IN SOUTH FLORIDA CAN BE TRUSTED TO CONNECT THREE WIRES AND DO ONE FOOT OF PLUMBING. I would love to pay someone, but apparently that would be like going to the vet for a vasectomy.

Once it’s in, I’ll find a reputable sprinkler company on Angie’s List and kiss the old outfit goodbye forever.

I don’t know what to use for a pump base. Wood will rot. Even pressure-treated wood rots eventually. I should go get some aluminum channel. It will outlast the sun. It will get pretty crusty in the damp shed, but it won’t disappear like wood, and it won’t petrify with thick rust.

Tradesmen are getting really stupid. At least it seems that way. I know virtually nothing about irrigation or electrical work, but I am miles ahead of the professionals who have worked here.

3 Comments »

Transformed

April 30th, 2016

ASUS Deserves a Kick in the Butt

In 2012, I got myself an ASUS Transformer Prime tablet. The reviews said it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to the world.

I wanted to be able to read ebooks. That was all I cared about. I could have gotten a Kindle or some other dedicated reader, but I figured I might as well get something versatile in case I wanted apps or whatever. The Transformer seemed like the right move.

After I did all my research and got the tablet home, I discovered that it had major wifi and GPS problems. The case on the tablet is aluminum, not the usual plastic, and it (DUH) interferes with radio waves. The antennas are inside the box, and they do not communicate very well with…anything.

On top of that, the little card holding the antennas connects to the tablet using pogo pins. These are little nipply pins that hold circuit boards in place. My understanding is that they’re not intended to be used as connectors, but they’re metallic, so ASUS figured what the hell.

When you close the ASUS case, two pogo pins on one side push against two copper strips on the antenna card, and you have contact. Or not. If something isn’t aligned right, or if the contacts are dirty (mine were), you get squat.

The pogo problem is so stupid it can sometimes be fixed by squeezing the tablet while you use it. This pushes the pins into the copper and improves conduction.

That’s not a great solution. You don’t want to sit in Starbucks squeezing your tablet with one hand and holding your $7 latte in the other while you try to look at Scrib’d.

By the way, some applications are useless when your Wifi is bad, even if they claim you can use them offline. Scrib’d is a prime (pun or whatever not intended) example. It won’t save your place in books. It takes forever to open books you have supposedly saved to your device. It’s horrible.

I’m not sure what to do about GPS, and I’m not sure I care, but I can tell you want to do about the Wifi. First, install a free app called Wifi Analyzer and check your reception. Don’t rely on those stupid bars.

The Transformer opens very easily. No, seriously. You can find sites online that show you how to do it. Basically, you pull two rubber stoppers out of the side where the USB hole is, and inside you find two latches. You push them to the left using the tip of a tiny Phillips screwdriver, and that releases the case from the screen.

The screen has a gaskety thing under it, against the aluminum case, and it’s sticky. You separate it by shoving a guitar pick (only the tip) in the gap and sliding it around the case perimeter. It will try to close up behind the pick, so as you go, put shims in there to hold it open.

Eventually, the case opens. You open the USB side first, and the other side acts sort of like a hinge. Don’t rely on my instructions. Find pictures online.

Don’t use metal tools. You’ll gouge everything.

Once you’re inside, you’ll see the antenna card stuck to the underside of the screen side of the tablet. On the outside edge of the case, you’ll see two copper tabs labeled GPS and WLAN (Wifi) or something like that. I don’t have it in front of me.

On the other half of the tablet, opposite the card, you’ll see two gold pogo pins that touch the card when the case is closed.

I took a burnishing tool and polished the pins and the copper foil contacts on the card. A burnishing tool is a little stick with a very fine abrasive on it. You can probably use 2000-grit sandpaper if you have a light touch. Maybe this is a mistake, though, because it’s possible that the crap I removed from my foil was actually some sort of grease intended to prevent oxidation. We’ll see. You can always grease it again.

To fix the Wifi problem, cut a piece of insulated stranded (not solid) wire 2.75″ long. You want very thin wire. Expose about 1/4″. Yank the exposed portion so the other end of the wire sinks slightly into the insulation. This will hide it so it doesn’t touch anything conductive.

Flatten the exposed part of the wire. Then rest it on the WLAN foil and close the case. You want the metal to be pinched between the case halves. This holds the wire in place. Don’t let the insulation come between the halves, because it’s thick, and it will obstruct them when you close the case. I suppose this could crack the glass. If you’re a real man, take a diamond burr or a file and make a little notch in the aluminum side of the case so the insulation will have a place to go, and then close it. I did not find this necessary, because the case holds the metal strands very tightly.

You want the wire to be slightly over 2.5″ long, because that’s a good length for wifi. The length affects the reception. The wavelength is 4.92″, so you want a nice even fraction, like ~2.5″ or ~1.25″. I am not an EE, so I may be wrong.

If you’re getting good contact, you should see a gigantic reception improvement when you turn on Wifi Analyzer. If not, maybe the pogo pin is too short, and you need to put a wad of foil or soldering braid between it and the antenna card.

I considered soldering a wire directly to the pogo pin, which would be the really manly move, but I decided to try the other way first, because it was easy to do and easy to reverse.

If you solder a wire to your pogo pin, you might lose the ability to remove the card (if you’re bad at removing solder), but come on. Do you plan to remove it?

Now you have a wire sticking out of your tablet. How will you live? It shouldn’t be a problem. Unless you’re crazy, you have a protective case on your tablet, and the wire will be easy to conceal.

Look, do you want wifi or not?

I used a 22-gauge black Teflon wire. It’s very thin and hard to see. I would guess that a thinner wire would work about as well.

The tablet works now. Very exciting.

I assume this will also work for GPS, but I haven’t tried it. I don’t know what the wavelength is or how long the wire should be. ASUS supplies a worthless attachment for improving the GPS performance. Everyone hates it, so I’m not trying it. They actually had a class-action suit and gave people a free attachment (“dongle”) and $17. I read that the dongle obstructs the USB port, so you can’t connect a charger. Yeah, that’s what you want. Power-sucking GPS and no DC supply.

I may to back in later and solder the wire to the pogo pin, but I probably won’t unless something blows up.

Enjoy your now-working tablet.

1 Comment »

Over Here, we Have the Horse’s Mouth

April 30th, 2016

And on the Other End…

I have to put in some Iliad time today. That book is like a prison. I feel like I can’t read anything else until I finish it. I cheat, but not much.

Yesterday was obliterated by the sprinkler pump debacle. When it was done, and I was finished stooping in a filthy place, running a vibrating tool that nearly blistered my palms, the last thing I felt like doing was wading through more turgid simile soup. I could have killed 40 more pages had I not underestimated the stubbornness of the bolts holding the pump on.

After 40 or 50 pages, my mind shuts down, as though to punish me. Or maybe it’s a warning, like the gag reflex kicking in after you drink a tumbler of straight vodka.

Last time I looked, Patroklos was about to meet Jesus. Of course, he didn’t expect Jesus. He expected Charon. But heathens are wrong about the afterlife. Boy, was he in for a surprise. Anyway, Hektor (the Lattimore spelling) was getting ready to turn Patroklos into a kebab, and then, judging from the movie, Achilles (not the Lattimore spelling) would stop pouting, join the battle, and die.

The lesson is that it pays to pout.

I wonder how much the ancient Greeks knew about economics. I wonder if they realized it was a bad idea to take all the successful men in the world and have them hack each other to death with bronze swords. Imagine what would happen if we did that today. The productive, helpful 1% would be gone, and the ignorant Bern-feeling rabble would be picking through the ruins, destroying anything good that had been left behind.

In short, it would be a lot like 2020. Or Detroit.

A good friend got me a couple of books which I would rather be reading than The Iliad. A preacher named Rick Renner wrote them. They’re about the early church. I think. Thanks to Homer, I’m only about 15 pages in.

Renner studies history, and he looks at the original texts of the Bible. He seems to get revelation. He’s a lot like Perry Stone. He connects dots. He corrects our understanding of things in the Bible, and he shows us that things that seem trivial actually have meaning.

I enjoy that kind of stuff, but I don’t want to dedicate my life to studying it. If you spend a lot of time in prayer, God tells you things directly, and if you wander off and bury yourself in things other people have written, you can end up robbing God to pay Perry Stone.

John said we didn’t need men to teach us. He said the Holy Spirit would do it. That sounds radical and rebellious, and it could be dangerous in the hands of someone who isn’t ready, but it’s in the Bible, so what does that make it?

“True.”

Learning is great, but if you know God personally, it’s a mistake to regress and go back to depending on human beings for your understanding. Most people need human beings to introduce them to God, but after that, it should be a direct connection. Human beings should drop back and assume a minor role.

You never know who will fall, or who will make a bad mistake. If you’re following a man instead of the Holy Spirit, you’re taking a big chance. Well, that’s not true. It’s not a chance. That implies that you might succeed. If you trust a man, you have assured that you will have serious problems.

Once you start hearing from God, you don’t go to other people for instruction all that much. You go for confirmation of what you’ve already heard. If you haven’t heard anything, you’re not doing your homework, and homework, not the lectures, is the actual course.

It’s not good to be ignorant, but you have a limited amount of time here, and if you spend too much of it on man’s hit-or-miss teaching, you will neglect the pure and correct teaching of God.

I can’t remember the last time I made a point of listening to a preacher. They’re so disappointing. They’ll say a few things I know to be true, and then out will pop something like, “And it’s so important to TITHE.” Then I’ll realize I’m listening to a hack who sees preaching as a job.

I decided to quote John here, and I thought I would just quote the verse about how we don’t need men to teach us, but I looked at the context and realized it was important to quote more of the book.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

What is he saying here? He’s saying the world is full of false preachers who came out of the church. These men went out on their own, in human knowledge and effort, without the Holy Spirit. They fell into error, and they teach garbage that actually comes from Satan.

He’s saying that if you hear from God directly, you won’t have to worry about believing lies. If you know the truth, you’ll stay on the path, and when Jesus returns you won’t be ashamed.

It’s exactly what I’m experiencing. It’s what I was trying to say, above.

Many of the people who are misleading us are mostly right. They teach a lot of good things. But they’re wrong about enough things to derail the train. The devil loves to bake a beautiful cake and put a tiny chunk of poo deep in the middle of it; people only see the good 99%, and they swallow the poo whole. The Holy Spirit isn’t like that. His product is pure.

Here’s how I feel about it: I’ll start relying on men again when God starts refusing to tell me anything. I’ll let you know when that happens. Don’t hold your breath.

It reminds me of what my great uncle said when someone asked him why he didn’t give money to the Lord. He said he couldn’t find anyone he could trust to take it to him. There are a lot of people out there wearing God’s uniform and playing for the other team, and without the Holy Spirit, you’re not smart enough to pick them out.

These people are going to fool you, just as they’ve fooled me. Don’t flatter yourself. I don’t care how many ancient authors you’ve studied, and I don’t care if you’ve explored the ruins at Ephesus so many times the clerk at the Motel 6 sends you birthday cards. Any, ANY man can be fooled. Only the Spirit knows what you should believe.

I know a lot of people who think T.D. Jakes is great. He’s a big, chubby, fatherly figure, and he yells a lot, so he seems like he’s correcting people. But he teaches the prosperity gospel, which is a black hole where faith dies. He pals around with the slime of the earth; either he can’t tell the wolves from the sheep, or he thinks it’s okay to hang out with wolves.

A lot of people love Joel Osteen. Unfortunately, the man teaches self-confidence, which is evil, and he doesn’t correct people. He doesn’t teach people to be Spirit-led. Like Jakes, he associates with rich preachers who rob people who want to know God.

Salvation alone will not enable you to pick out the losers, and neither will the advice of other people.

When you move toward God, you go through a succession of preachers. The first ones you encounter know a little bit about God, and it impresses you. Then you start to see their errors. You move on to better preachers, and eventually, you see they’ve dropped the ball, too. As you get closer to God, you will pass people who are closer to God than the people you knew before them. You will PASS them. Don’t be disturbed by that. Embrace it. If it’s not happening, something is wrong.

It reminds me of my experience with Scotch. When I was about 22, someone introduced me to Scotch, and I loved it. I enjoyed every glass of Scotch anyone put in front of me, no matter how cheap it was. Then I started not liking the cheap stuff. Within a year, I could only drink good Scotch. Now, if it’s not at least 12 years old, don’t even bother serving it to me. I can tell the difference. I even know 16-year-old Macallan 16 is better than 18-year-old Macallan.

Discernment increases with time, and the things you reject later on look much better than the things you rejected at the start.

I’m not recommending anyone drink Scotch. It’s just an analogy.

As you spend time with the Holy Spirit, you will find you want better and better things. Joel Osteen may seem fine today, but six months from now, you might want to slam the door if he showed up at your house.

I used to subscribe to Perry Stone’s monthly CD’s. They were very informative. I eventually quit. Jentezen Franklin, the prosperity preacher, is one of his best buddies. Stone endorses Joyce Meyer. He’s angry all the time. He loves to argue. If I want to learn why the poles in the tabernacle were made of cedar wood (or whatever), he’s the guy to ask, but if you only develop as much as he has, you will regret it. You need all the growth you can get.

I used to listen to Andrew Wommack, but he’s tight with the wolves, too. I can’t read his mind, but he seems proud. That’s a very fundamental problem; it’s the worst fault you can have. If he can’t show you how to overcome that, he’s not that useful.

You don’t need these people. You don’t need me. You can even survive without the Bible, if you have to. But you do need the Holy Spirit.

So I look forward to reading Rick Renner’s books, but I am too busy to study his teaching. Like I said, I have another source which takes priority. I have the tailor; I’m not going to buy off-the-rack at Macy’s.

It’s not pride. It’s just fear of stepping off the path and onto a landmine. I’ve done that many times in the past. Think of the fools I trusted.

Forget that. Never again. Never.

Jesus didn’t die so I could have a secondhand relationship with God.

What a tangent. Even for me, that was pretty bad. I thought I was writing about boring books about dimwitted sword-swingers.

I have to get that sprinkler pump loose from the wall. I don’t think I can procrastinate any longer.

Maybe I can. If I try.

After all, the feel-good preachers say I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

I hope this stuff is useful to you, especially if you’re reading this in the future and you have no Christians you can talk to. It will still work. You are still important.

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Somebody, Please, Take my Money

April 29th, 2016

The People who Want $15 per Hour are Robbing us at $8

Today I had a painful reminder of a paradoxical truth about tools: the more you buy, the more jobs you will run into which do not yield to them.

I came up against a sprinkler pump that tried to kill me.

The yard looked bad, so I called the pros. They sent out some nice guys who–I am not trying to be mean here–had that look you see when you go to businesses where they hire a lot of ex-cons. They said the motor was cooked, and when I started asking fairly basic questions, they got confused.

I was afraid they were going to charge me $500 and put in a Chinese motor. I love Asian tools, but motors are not where the Chinese shine their brightest. I wanted a Baldor or some other American motor.

The existing motor, which looks sort of Chinese, is probably under ten years old. The original motor probably lasted 40 years.

The motor was held on by four bolts. Child’s play.

I took a few wrenches out to the shed and started working. The upper bolts popped off instantly with a 9/16″ Gearwrench. When I went after the lower bolts, the wrench wouldn’t grab them.

I still don’t know what’s going on. Maybe rust deformed the bolt heads. Maybe the installers used weird bolts with funny heads. But nothing wants to grab them.

There’s more to it than that. The bolts are situated so they’re hard to reach, and you don’t get much swing on the wrench. If you could turn the bolts ten degrees at a pop, you’d be doing great.

It gets worse. A bolt head has to be a certain height before a Gearwrench will engage it. These bolts are too low. That means you need an open-end wrench. Because of the geometry of bolts, a wrench has to be in one of twelve exact angular positions in order to engage. Think about it. If you can’t get your wrench into one of those positions, youre…well, you’re where I was this afternoon.

The answer was a socket wrench, right? Wrong. The bolts were in a small space between a motor and pump. A socket wrench is thick, and sockets take up space. I was barely able to get a socket on one bolt, and when I started loosening it, it drove the wrench into the motor as it rose. Now the wrench was stuck in the pump.

I decided to take the pump apart and take off the motor and half of the pump. Then I could rotate the motor and get at the bolts. I removed the bolts and pried at the pump, and it would not budge.

Next move: a rotary tool. I got out the Proxxon and the big cutting disk (now small), and I started cutting into the motor to sever the bolt inside the aluminum end cap. The disk wore down pretty fast, and I’m still not sure I got through.

I remembered I had a Fein Multimaster. I stuck a saw blade on it and went to work. After maybe half an hour, I probably got 3/4 of the way through the bolts. I eventually decided I would die if I continued to the end, so I decided to cut the PVC pipes attaching the pump to the sprinker system.

Now I had a disembodied pump attached to a circuit breaker box with a rusty pigtail. Which I could not detach. The hardware was so corroded I couldn’t get it to come off.

Right now the whole apparatus is lying on the floor of the shed. Some time tomorrow I plan to take dynamite out there and remove the pigtail so I can bring the pump into the garage and remove the motor. After that, I’m going to beat it with a blacksmith’s hammer.

I found an old Baldor jet pump motor on Ebay, and it should fit.

The original motor on the pump (a Goulds XSH) was a rebranded A.O. Smith made somewhere in ‘Murica. I found a NOS job on Ebay, but it said “pool,” not “irrigation,” so it spooked me. I was afraid it was inferior.

Now instead of writing a check while lying in the shade under an AC vent, I have to put feet on the pump (someone had installed it so the PVC held it in midair), and then I have to connect the new motor. It looks like the old motor has a carbon steel shaft, not stainless, because there is a lot of rust. I strongly suspect the rusty threaded shaft will stick to the impeller, and then I’ll have to open the *#^@*@% pump up and replace it.

I also have to fix the PVC, which will take maybe four hours, including shopping.

I think I’m doing the right thing, because the old pump is very well made, and the new motor is top-notch, so I should be dead (with any luck) the next time it craps out. If I get a new pump, I think it will die in five years.

Wait. I’m not planning to be here in five years.

Man, I wish I had thought of that.

Okay, that was stupid. But at least I’ll be done with it.

It’s a shame you can’t write people checks and have them fix things correctly. I would love to give someone money to do this for me, but I can’t find anyone.

People complain about the job market. Maybe it would be better if they could DO SOMETHING.

Just a thought.

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The Weeding Continues

April 29th, 2016

Plus a Grim Reminder

I got off social media, and God cut back my prayer list. My social circle is tightening up. I came up with a name for it. I call it “the little Rapture.”

It has been very peaceful. Sometimes I feel a little isolated, but in this world, the concentration of people whom I consider like-minded is pretty low. The closer you get to God, the fewer people you will want to spend time with. It’s a consequence of seeing people more clearly.

When I was highly active in church, my time was wasted. My money was wasted. My good intentions were wasted. I served childish, greedy, rude people who had no class and not a whole lot going on upstairs. I was surrounded by people who were very insincere, and they pretended to be serious, so I spent time fertilizing plants that were determined not to grow. If I choose, I can be more social and have more “friends,” but there is no way I can significantly increase the number of people who are pulling with me instead of dragging their feet.

In other words, the sensation of deprivation is an illusion.

I remember the prayer sessions my little group used to have in the conference room at Trinity Church. I used to tell people to imagine what the parking lot would look like if all the cars that weren’t paid for disappeared. That was how the congregation would look if the hypocrites vanished. The place would be nearly deserted. That’s how life is. I don’t care who you are; you have almost no friends.

That makes me think of Prince and other entourage-dependent celebrities. Those people have fewer friends than anyone, yet they are surrounded by people who claim they will lay down their lives for them. In an entourage hive, the queen bee is unaware of reality or refuses to face it. The workers and drones insulate her from it, because reality is a threat to their income and prestige.

The false comfort provided by the crowd seems worth it to the queen. Prince, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, and others like them were or are queen bees, not leaders.

People like John and Paul had adherents, but I doubt they allowed themselves to have entourages or cults.

I envy John. His type of ministry is the kind I would like to have. As far as I know, he wasn’t always caught up in the mosh pit. He lived in the country, and then he ended up on an island full of political prisoners. Maybe he didn’t have to suit up and force-feed the swine every day.

If what we are told is right, John was rare among early church leaders in that he died peacefully. The emperor Domitian had him placed in a pot of hot oil and fried for refusing to worship him, and John came out unhurt. It would be nice to have that kind of dominion and safety in the years ahead, when silly, underdeveloped people with tattoos and piercings start murdering Christians and Jews in America.

Paul was beheaded, which is not too bad, but he was also stoned and flogged. A lot of horrendous things happened to early Christian leaders, including skinning and grilling. Death from natural causes would be a privilege, although I still like the meteor idea. One second, you’re here, and the next second, you’re rising to heaven, leaving a big mess behind on the sidewalk.

The older you get, the less you fear death. Your eyes go. Your mind goes. You realize things will only get worse, and then you will die. You start to think about your future plans, and by that, I mean your plans for the next life.

You can be like Madonna and Cher and live in frantic, unseemly denial. You can cover everything up with putty and paint, but underneath it all, it’s still you. Cher is a senior citizen, and Madonna is nearly there. They are post-menopausal women whose wrinkled bodies produce only grey hairs, regardless of the bleach and dye. They have brittle bones and fading eyesight. They are no longer attractive to men under 70. Things aren’t going to improve, so they might as well think about a better place and a new start. I’m a little younger, but time will pass for me just as it has for them, so I am adjusting.

I am glad to be retreating from things. I thought Trinity was a fine church, and then I got understanding, and I left. I thought New Dawn was a fine church, and then God showed me their pride and their refusal to listen, and I left. I dumped a number of friends. My own sister was removed from my life. I can’t complain about any of it. Every new step has made life better.

Yesterday I got a reminder that the years were passing. My dad got lost on the way to a dental appointment. He uses Mapquest to print directions to places he’s been dozens of times, and yesterday he couldn’t get it to work, so he used Google. He couldn’t understand the map. He was gone four and a half hours.

I found out he had missed the appointment. I could not reach him on his chintzy flip phone, which sent calls straight to voicemail, which he can’t operate correctly. I had to call the cops and local hospitals. It doesn’t disturb me every time he’s out of touch for a few hours, but when he disappears on the way to an important appointment, it’s another story. It suggests incapacitation, not whimsy.

He finally turned up, after I had started thinking I was going to have to donate his clothes to charity. That’s what I did the week my mother died. You don’t turn a home into a museum. You get the personal items out fast, accept the loss, and keep on living. You don’t want to go into the bathroom two weeks after someone dies and see their toothbrush.

I’m going to get him an Android phone so I can track him, and he now has my contact information in his wallet, where it should have been twenty years ago.

A lot of older people have cheap phones and cheap cell plans. Sounds smart, but wait until one disappears on you and you can’t locate them.

I asked the cops if there was some kind of database for checking hospital admissions, figuring I was behind the times, but they said there is not. If you’re trying to find someone, you will have to call every hospital in your area. You would think ER admissions would be uploaded to a central directory, but they’re not.

I didn’t know the number on his vehicle tag. I’m going to have to make a list of useful information and put it in my computer.

Yesterday was a drill. When the real thing comes, I’ll have some idea what to do. That’s the sad payoff.

It’s an odd reflection of the Prince situation. Prince had no will and no plan, and no one cared about him. My dad has his papers in order, and he has me. When the baton passes, it should be simple and orderly.

Don’t be upset if you have to dump some cargo on your journey. Eventually you’ll have to dump yourself, so it’s best to accustom yourself to the pattern.

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Let the Looting Begin

April 28th, 2016

Race to the Bottom

I keep checking on the Prince story, because it’s so interesting.

Someone has told The National Enquirer Prince had AIDS, and that it caused his death. They say he refused treatment because he was depending on prayer.

A lot of people have suddenly decided Prince was tight with God. The Washington Post ran a ridiculous story labeling Prince a “conservative Christian.”

When he died, Prince was not a Christian. Early in his life, he was a Seventh-Day Adventist, and later on, he became a Jehovah’s Witness. Seventh-Day Adventists are Christians with some strange but probably harmless beliefs thrown in. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians, so in becoming one, Prince exited the faith.

Christians believe Jesus is God. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. They think he’s the archangel Gabriel. They also believe you have to belong to their organization in order to be saved. They burden people with various “essential” works. You can’t have beliefs like that and be a Christian.

The Washington Post is a liberal publication which is biased against God, so you wouldn’t expect them to be all that knowledgeable about Christianity, but it’s a little surprising that they think JW’s are part of the crew. The staff of the paper probably contains a large number of lapsed Catholics; the Pope’s followers and former followers are represented pretty heavily among the ranks of leftists. They should know a few things. The error still got out.

Prince was a tireless and extremely effective promoter of sexual sin and rebellion. Maybe he hated high taxes. Maybe he was against destructive social programs. Maybe he was a conservative, and maybe he prayed a lot. But you would have to be nuts to think he served God or was anything but a spiritual disaster. If you think he was a Christian, go stand in front of a mirror and slap your own face; you’re in a coma.

The AIDS story got me thinking. All the entourage members who clung to him are treading water right now; their life preserver was snatched away. They need food and shelter. What do they have to exchange for it? Skills? Probably not. Appealing resumes? Doubtful. But they have one valuable asset: information. Surely they’re trading it now, if only to put groceries on the table.

Prince was not a planner. He didn’t have to be. He had tons of money, and he was surrounded by eager lickspittles, so he did as he pleased. What are the odds he made any provision for this time? He has no will, so there’s a clue for you. If a person worth tens of millions of dollars dies intestate, you can pretty well bet he never thought about nondisclosure agreements or postmortem benefits for his minions.

The entourage members probably had to wrestle with themselves as they watched the food on the compound shelves disappear, each trying to decide whether he should betray Prince before one of the others got in ahead of him and devalued the information they held in common. TMZ or The Enquirer will pay a lot to the first person who tells them Robin Williams hanged himself; the second person, not so much.

The AIDS story may or may not be true, but anyone trying to find out where it came from knows a good place to start.

Prince was supposedly against homosexuality. On the other hand, he was about as effeminate as a man can get without spontaneously combusting. If, for some reason, you had to entice another man to violate you, and you didn’t know what to do, imitating Prince would be a good strategy.

If the drug-hater who overdosed twice in one week was also a homosexuality opponent who got AIDS from another man, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock ever to hit the airwaves.

It’s not that easy for a man to get AIDS from a woman. Only about 6% of straight men who get AIDS get it from sex with women. If the AIDS story is true, I would be a little surprised if it turned out a woman gave him the disease.

To get back to the issue of his religious status, plenty of Christians use drugs. Plenty of us get AIDS. Not many are world-famous, unrepentant, gender-boundary-smashing, crusading icons in the battle to promote promiscuity. If you can behave that way and expect God to save you from hell, it’s news to me, because it’s willful, systematic, public rebellion.

If the people around Prince aren’t handled and pacified, and unless they are truly loyal, we can expect a rash of hurriedly-published tell-all books in the near future, and I would expect a sensational movie within two years.

My guess is that the AIDS story is false. At least, I don’t think it killed him. Right now, a lot of people have motivation to say crazy things for money, and I don’t think a person who is about to die from AIDS would feel well enough to pace around a drugstore parking lot on the eve of his demise. The drug story appears to be gaining strength, however. The DEA is now investigating.

When so-called “Christians” all across America get on their high horses and self-righteously vilify anyone who suggests Prince was not a servant of God, you know our country has marched off a cliff. Anyone can be wrong, but to believe something so patently stupid is a new kind of crazy. We used to be smarter than this. Sixty years ago, we were highly suspicious of anyone who got divorced. Now we have homosexuals leading churches. Lunacy.

The facts will get progressively weirder as they unfold, and so will the irrational responses.

I don’t know where it will lead, but I know this: if I were Madonna or Lady Gaga, I would be hiding in a closet begging God to change me. This has not been a great year for secular worship leaders.

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Ilium, my Ileum

April 27th, 2016

Make it Stop

It’s not even noon, and I want to sit down and read The Iliad, just so I can be closer to never having to look at it again.

That book is like Hillary’s cough. It won’t go away.

When I was in college (the math and science phase), I kept a lot of my textbooks after the classes ended. I even bought extra books. I bought a pile of quantum mechanics texts. I have tons of Dover Press math and science texts, including one written by my undergrad student advisor.

I kept my copy of The Riverside Shakespeare. It’s very nice. And it’s Shakespeare, so I might actually want to look at it occasionally. I kept a French poetry text by Morris Bishop.

I love Schaum outlines. I must have ten or twelve. I also kept one book and a number of study aids from law school.

The Iliad reminds me why I sold or threw almost all of my college texts out. The notion of looking at it after I complete it is inconceivable. Merely seeing it on a shelf would put a knot in my stomach.

As, when the flowing-haired Thetis, whilst browsing in the orchard of fabled Hemeroskopeion, reaches for a fallen plum ripened by the blessed rays of Apollo’s orb, and on bringing it to her fig-like lips, discovers it to be a ball of horse manure and feels her entrails tighten within her, so would my gizzard toss in my belly as I gazed upon the blind bard’s tome.

How can people dedicate their lives to studying this stuff? It takes all kinds. Some kids dream of becoming morticians.

My dad has a copy of The Great Books of the Western World, which, since he wants to throw it out, is technically mine. It’s a neat resource. It contains Homer, Plutarch, Shakespeare…just about everything you need to read in order to look down on people. I don’t know how great the crusty translations of the foreign stuff are, but then I don’t know what translations P.G. Wodehouse and the guy in Quiz Show used, either, and they managed to come off as erudite.

I feel like the smart move is to Scrib’d the best translations I can find, for nine bucks a month, and then be content with the Great Books after that.

Cliff is a genius. I’ll bet he came up with his notes idea while he was reading The Iliad. He was a junior in college, and he was sitting at his desk with The Iliad to his left and a loaded revolver on his right, and he was about to toss a coin, when suddenly, like Phoibos’s arrow, inspiration struck. And now he’s rich, and kids have time to Tweet, smoke dope, and weep about their need for safe spaces.

We haven’t done right by Cliff. He’s a hero. A humanitarian. Right up there with Salk and Pasteur. God bless him. Someone should build a statue.

Or maybe they should just write a short summary describing a statue.

My brain is dry. I can’t think of anything else to say. I guess it’s time to go face the music.

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