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Temps Perdu

May 6th, 2017

Hades Found

I’m positive people are dying to hear about my progress through the Columbia College Lit. Hum. syllabus. Here is your update.

I am currently working on Paradise Lost, John Milton’s endless poem about the falls of Satan and man. It’s something like 400 pages long, it’s written in blank verse (poetry that doesn’t rhyme), and it makes Shakespeare’s archaic prose look like Dick and Jane. By that I mean it is very hard to read. Milton uses all sorts of out-of-syle words, and I’m not entirely sure he uses them correctly. His punctuation is erratic (possibly because he was blind), so it can be hard to tell where a sentence begins or ends. He’s also the stuffiest writer I’ve ever encountered. Worse than my translations of Homer and Virgil. Reading Milton is like jogging in concrete that has already begun to set. Concrete that has big lumps of stone in it.

Maugre all that, I am pressing on.

See how Milton has improved my writing. “Maugre”! I look really smart now.

When I first started reading the book, I thought Milton was brilliant. He knew so much about the Bible, theology, and mythology. Then I started thinking maybe he was just well-read and highly educated. I still can’t tell for sure. He reminds me of P.G. Wodehouse. I’m not saying he’s witty, funny, or even a little bit entertaining. I’m saying his work is peppered with references grounded in a classical education, to the point where a person who wanted to write a parody of his work would have to spend five years studying literature first.

Wodehouse is the only person I would be afraid to imitate. I just don’t have the background.

I like Milton’s highly informed use of symbolism. It shows a deep understanding of the way the Christian universe works. For example, in Milton’s poem, Sin is the child of Satan. She pops out of his head the same way Athena popped out of Zeus’s head. I think the idea is that sin started inside Satan. Before Satan, sin didn’t exist. I’ll go with that. After Satan gives birth to the female child Sin, he has sex with her, and she gives birth to his son/grandson, Death. Good enough. The Bible says sin comes from death. “The wages of sin is death.”

Sin’s job is to guard the entrance of the underworld. She can open the gate, but she can’t lock the door once it’s open. Her job is to refuse to open the door. I get that. Only God can put people in hell, but Sin is what keeps them there. Jesus couldn’t be kept in hell, because he hadn’t sinned.

Anyway, the poem is very clever. It seems considerably deeper than the Greek stuff and Dante.

To understand Milton, you have to understand his times and his experiences. That means I will never understand Milton. I’m comfortable with that. Reading about him would be a lot of work for a negligible reward. I do know a couple of things. He was a political bigwig in England. He was a minister in charge of foreign languages, sharing an office with the people from Silly Walks. He wrote a document that helped get Charles the something-or-other convicted of something. Then he went completely blind, and having nothing better to do, he wrote poetry.

That’s all I have. I may look at Wikipedia for a few minutes eventually, but I hope I don’t, because that would be boring. I’m not undertaking this project to prove I could be a great classics scholar. I just want to be able to say I did the reading.

Here is the action so far. Satan (ancient Akkadian for “Stan”) and his pals have been ejected from heaven for fighting God. They have been chained to the surface of the lake of fire. They have broken loose. They have decided to mess with man, since they can’t hurt God. Stan has gone on a scouting mission to find earth (he hasn’t been there before), and he has just spotted Eden.

That took about 80 pages.

It’s a painful slog, but it’s better than Homer. I think that if Milton and Homer had ever gotten together for drinks, after about an hour, Milton would have had a friend place a fake emergency call to his Iphone, to give him an excuse to leave. I can hear him muttering to himself as he stomps out into the street and probably into a post: “MAN what a bore.” If Milton is the Tim Tebow of boredom and long-windedness, Homer is the Babe Ruth.

There’s a pun in there somewhere.

You couldn’t publish Paradise Lost today. When you go to high school and college these days, you can’t write anything a small child can’t read. If you tried to write like Milton, they’d get out the red pen and cross out half of the words. “‘Maugre’? Really? See me after class.” If you sent a work like Milton to publishers, they’d save it to read at Christmas parties. It’s funny; modern academics tell us to admire Milton, but if you emulate him, you better have a blog, because there is no other way you’ll get your work in front of the public.

I suppose that’s a good thing.

If Milton had written his book in our time, he would have been rejected soundly, to the point where he probably would have found solace in a lengthy, hard-to-comprehend Internet manifesto. Then he would have shot up a mall with an AR-15, spraying ineffectual bullets at walls and lighting fixtures due to his blindness.

By the way, in the book, paradise is Eden, not heaven. Have people been using the word incorrectly for four hundred years, or was Milton confused? I do not know.

The more I look at these books, the more I think nobody actually reads them at Columbia. I read very, very quickly, and there is no way I could get through Milton in one week, understand it, and keep up with my other classes. If it’s too long for me, it’s definitely too long for a typical Columbia student who can’t read nearly as fast as I can. Think of the Asian engineers. They’d have to drop out. Thank God for Cliff. His notes must be the only thing Columbia freshmen actually read.

I go through about 16 pages of Milton in half an hour, taking it slowly enough to allow me to really understand it. So 25 hours for the whole book? In one college week, that’s around 3.5 hours per day, seven days in a row, for one class. And most kids would read slower than that. No, that’s not happening.

After Milton, I get socked with Pride and Prejudice, which, as I understand it, is a chick book. Guess how much I look forward to that. Columbia gives people a week or so to read it, which seems insane, since it goes so much faster than Milton.

The real hump in the journey is Dostoevsky. I have tried reading him once or twice, and I thought I could hear my soul gag. The book in question is Crime and Punishment. I just checked, and…God help me…it’s 430 pages. I would rather eat it than read it.

Sometimes I think I should read other books I blew off. I took a French literature class, during a time when I was so miserable I did practically nothing but drink and watch TV. I skipped most of Therese Desqueyroux and a good bit of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. I took the midterm anyway, because in literature classes, you can often get a B simply by making things up. In response to my imaginative analysis of Therese Desqueyroux, the professor wrote, “Obvieusement, vous n’avez pas lu cet livre. Venez me voir.” Am I writing that correctly? “Obviously, you have not read this book. Come see me.” I was too embarrassed and unmotivated to go see her. I think I got a C in that class.

These days, I don’t know if I’m still capable of reading books written in French. Writing exams and papers in French would be a bit de trop.

I’m glad there are pleasant books in the world. If I had to read things like The Iliad and Paradise Lost all the time, I would barely read at all. The French stuff probably wasn’t too bad. I was just depressed. I didn’t feel like doing anything. If the homework had been eating pie while being worked over by a friendly team of Asian masseuses, I probably still wouldn’t have done it.

I make it sound like I never liked literature. That’s not true. I liked D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, various authors of colonial literature, E.M. Forester, Alexandre Dumas, Ernest Hemingway, Antoine de St. Exupery, Shakespeare, Voltaire, a bunch of French poets, and a lot of other stuff. In short, I liked things that were not boring.

Maybe the real purpose of Lit. Hum. is to make people hate reading. If so, well played.

If you want to read because you love it, I do not recommend Milton. If you want to read in order to become educated, go ahead and read him. Don’t expect to enjoy it. That would be evidence of severe mental illness.

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Father Colbert’s Latest Sunday School Lesson

May 5th, 2017

Plus Mountain-Climbing Tips

Thanks to the Internet, I am now an expert on two things: the moral deterioration of Stephen Colbert, and mountain climbing.

Yesterday, RE CBS’s predictable (and predicted) failure to discipline Colbert for his obscene on-the-air remarks about President Trump, Colbert took a victory lap by saying the GOP had kicked the United States in the genitals. Except he didn’t say “genitals.” Here is what I said about Colbert yesterday:

Evil is predictable. The more evil is tolerated, the more predictable it gets, because people stop trying to be subtle. They don’t care if they get caught.

Colbert said something horrendous and filthy on national TV, and CBS did nothing. Today, he (pointedly) continued. Look for future outbursts.

Ho hum.

I’m not nearly as upset about politics and public attitudes toward God as I used to be, even though my estimate of America’s future has gotten much worse. I credit God with helping me escape pointless agitation. God is the all-time champion of battle-choosing, and he teaches his ways to his children. If you’re determined to lose your peace over Antifa, so-called gender transitioning, the bizarre political power of illegal aliens, and violence toward conservatives, you can certainly go ahead and sink into the flames. You can write furious blog posts, go to rallies, get beaten with your own flagpole, and get ulcers. My approach these days is to let things slide in the natural realm and to do my fighting in prayer. If I tussle in the mud (euphemism for something else) with the pigs, I’ll become one of them, and the pigs won’t change. Much better to sit back in the comfort of my home and do battle on a supernatural level.

I pray for God to defeat Colbert and also to change his heart, I ask God to help me not to have animosity toward him, and then I go on my merry way. I can’t fix the world, and if I want to lead a blessed life while I’m here, I have to be able to let go of things.

As for mountain climbing, I watched a movie about Mount Everest. I can’t remember why I was motivated to do that. Perhaps morbid interest. Everest (the world’s highest mountain, at 29029 feet) is a remarkable place, because people are thrilled to go into debt and spend huge amounts of money to go there and die in misery. Many people go multiple times, even after losing body parts to frostbite. I find that fascinating. After watching the movie, I looked at all sorts of maps and photos, and I watched a documentary. I almost feel like I’ve been to Everest.

There are something like 200 dead people on Everest. It’s so cold up there, and it’s so hard to carry things in the thin air, it’s very common to leave dead people where they fall. They don’t even cover them with snow; I suppose it would blow off. After a while, dead people in their brightly colored climbing clothing become landmarks. One of the most famous Everest corpses is an Indian commonly referred to as “Green Boots.” His frozen body wears bright green climbing boots. It lies under a rock projection. The cavity in which he lies is known as “Green Boots Cave.”

Everest isn’t the only mountain in its size class. K2, the next-tallest mountain, is only about 780 feet shorter, and it’s way harder to climb. Everest gets much more traffic and attention, however, because it’s number 1. If you tell people you’ve climbed K2, no one even knows what you’re talking about, but if you mention Everest, everyone in the bar will want to buy you a drink. The mountain is so popular, Everest climbing has become a local industry in Nepal.

The thing that interests me about Everest is the joy people find in destroying themselves on it.

The movie I watched is called Everest, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, and it’s about a terrible disaster that took place in 1996. An unexpected windstorm hit Everest while a bunch of climbers were on its slopes, and a lot of them died. Some lived but lost things like noses and fingers later on. It’s a movie, so obviously, they got some facts wrong, but I think they got the general idea right. I think the depiction of the problems the climbers faced was realistic. In the documentary I watched later, the climbers themselves talked about their experiences, and their stories were consistent with the misery presented in the movie.

There were four main groups of people involved in the disaster: climber/tourists, professional climbing guides from Europe, America, and New Zealand, Sherpa climbing guides, and support staff at Everest’s base camp. I call the people who weren’t getting paid “climber/tourists” because that’s accurate. They weren’t there to make money or do a job that had to be done. They were there for recreation.

The story focused on two companies that helped tourists climb. One belonged to New Zealander Rob Hall, and the other belonged to American Rob Fischer. Hall’s company had a big tent at base camp, equipped with a radio. A sort of project manager stayed there, organizing things and helping people communicate.

Right away, I was struck by the attitudes of the professionals. They didn’t behave like tour guides on a cruise ship. They behaved like military personnel involved in a vital and difficult campaign. They took themselves incredibly seriously. That was true in the documentary as well as the movie, so I think it showed how things really were.

It makes sense when military people are serious and speak in dramatic tones, but isn’t it strange to behave that way when you’re in a situation you created, and which you can abandon whenever you like? The Everest professionals had a mission mentality, but in reality, they were just helping rich people walk up the side of a rock. They weren’t repelling the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge. They seemed to feel that what they were doing was very, very important, but in reality, it was one hundred percent unnecessary.

They reminded me of gang members. Before you join a gang, you may have a happy-go-lucky life free of stress and dread. Once you join (completely by choice), you have a life of drama. Everything is serious. You’re a “soldier”; gang members often use military terms to describe themselves. Your life is full of danger, and you have to face it. You are likely to end up listening to, or writing and performing, pathetic, self-pitying rap music, in which you glorify yourself and try to get people to see you as a martyr and a victim.

Climbers respect each other. If you’re a dead climber, forget it. “Respect” doesn’t even capture it. What you get is more like worship. Because you climbed a rock and died, when you could have been at home eating pancakes. Sounds a lot like gangsters, pouring cheap booze on the ground as an offering to absent homies.

If a climber read this, he would probably have a dismissive attitude toward me. “You don’t understand. You weren’t there.” That would be true. To paraphrase an old saying, I haven’t jumped off the Empire State Building, either. I don’t think that means I’m wrong when I say jumping is a bad idea.

The 1996 crew had a lot of problems. Everest was very crowded. That slows things down. I don’t know how many people were trying to climb at the same time, but it could have been a whole lot, because I know that on at least one occasion, 234 people made it in one day. To get up Everest along the south route, you have to get over a bunch of rickety ladders laid horizontally over crevasses, and it’s not a great setup for moving crowds. When too many people try to go at once, people get delayed. Delays mean more time on the mountain, and time up there is what kills people.

Rob Hall’s group had two serious problems. It contained two people who had no chance of making it. One was a postal employee named Doug Hansen. He had failed to summit in an earlier trip, and Hall had encouraged him to make another trip, at a substantial discount. The other was a pathologist named Beck Weathers. Weathers had had radial keratotomy, and his eyes reacted badly to the altitude; he went blind temporarily and only regained sight in one eye. No one saw that coming.

Hall’s group had a third problem, which led to the deaths of at least three people. When Hansen got tired and wanted to quit, Hall chose not to send him down the mountain. As a result, Hall and Hansen were near the summit when the windstorm arrived. Hansen was physically and mentally helpless, and Hall insisted on staying with him and trying to bring him down.

By the time Hansen became incapacitated, Weathers was already blind. He was farther down the mountain, waiting for Hall to lead him to safety. The longer he waited, the colder his limbs got.

Hall and Hansen needed help, so a guide named Andy Harris went up to meet them, carrying oxygen.

Here’s the short version of what happened. Hansen died and fell off the mountain, perhaps not in that order. No one knows what happened. Harris died and fell off the mountain, leaving his jacket behind with Hall. No one was able to reach Hall after that, and Hall spent two nights on the mountain, literally freezing to death. He died. Weathers was abandoned for dead, and when he finally got up and walked into a staging area, he was so frostbitten he would later lose one hand, all the fingers on the other hand, his nose, part of a cheek, and probably some other parts.

Rob Fischer died, too. He overexerted himself helping his tourists, and then he lay down in the snow to rest. It’s 2017, and he hasn’t gotten up yet. A Hall client named Yasuko Namba ended up stranded with Weathers, and she froze to death.

Here is my harsh assessment: Rob Hall blew it. When you need to get up and down Mount Everest in a hurry, you don’t wait around because a very sick person has a small chance of making it to the top. He should have told Doug Hansen to leave. He should have told Weathers to leave ASAP instead of promising to come back for him. Fischer screwed up, too. He was very experienced, and he should not have overdone it.

Maybe I’m wrong. All I know is what I learned from a movie, a documentary, and a bunch of websites and videos.

It disturbs me that people who took responsibility for other people’s lives let emotion rule them. The odds that you will die if you try to climb Mount Everest are better than one in fifty. Anyone who does anything to make those odds worse needs a lesson in math.

Would you fly on an airline if one in fifty of its flights crashed? If you had to fly with them, would it be okay with you if the pilot took additional chances?

I think people are nuts to climb that mountain. In 1996, Rob Hall was charging $65,000 per person (100,000 in 2017 dollars), for an opportunity to die or lose limbs. What goes through the mind of a person when he decides to pay for that?

Naturally, being me, I related it to my knowledge of God.

Years ago, I learned something interesting: being in God’s presence is like being on drugs. That may sound crazy, but it’s true. I can provide examples. Cocaine makes you feel euphoric and powerful. So does God. Opiates make you feel warm and relaxed. So does God. Caffeine gives you energy and confidence. So does God. I believe that people who take drugs and drink are actually trying to fill needs that are unfulfilled because they don’t know God.

Drugs and drink come with remorse and side effects. God does not.

The climber/tourists in the documentary talked about the wonder of their time on Everest. The stars were richer and brighter than they are down below. The views were awe-inspiring. Beck Weathers said he suffered from depression, but the exertion of mountain climbing took his mind off of it. To sum up, they talked about psychological effects they considered worth the danger, suffering, and expense. If God had been allowed to fill their needs, would they have needed to spend huge sums and risk their lives in order to feel good?

Weathers now says he has peace, for the first time in his life. He has a skin-graft nose, no right hand, and a “mitt” made by separating the bones of his left hand into makeshift fingers, but now he finally feels good. What if all that was unnecessary? What if peace was available in the safety of his house, and it was a type of peace he could help his family receive, instead of a solitary peace that helps no one but him?

I believe Everest climbers, like other daredevils, manufacture crises so they can enjoy the distraction of solving them. They want to have a sense of mission, and their lives don’t provide it, so off to Nepal they go, and some of them stay there and become landmarks. To me, they’re like base jumpers. They think people should admire them, especially when their worst fears come true. Mountain climbers, base jumpers, and skydivers generally expect admiration. I don’t admire them at all. I think they’re deceived.

I would love to climb mountains. Little ones. With paths and guard rails. Big ones littered with dead bodies, you can keep. I don’t have the slightest craving for a sense of mission.

Here’s another thing that bugged me: on the way to the climb, the tourist/climbers in the movie were “blessed” by a buddhist bigwig in a temple. You couldn’t get me near that. Tibetan Buddhism is plain old demon worship. It is said that back when World War Two was getting underway, a Buddhist monk told a Westerner a thousand of his “gods” had just left for Germany. They pray to spirits. They conjure them in chanting ceremonies. If the thing about being “blessed” is accurate, people who climb Everest begin the process by spitting in the face of God, who is the only one who can protect them. One wonders if the paganism is connected to the death rate.

I can guess what goes through the minds of most Westerners at the temple. First alternative: “Yes, yes, namaste, I agree that Eastern religion is superior to boring old Christianity even though Tibetans and Indians live in squalor and humiliation.” Second alternative: “Blah, blah, you’re so cute in your monk hat, you primitive, superstitious goofball. This will look great on Snapchat.”

I just found out people have literally Snapchatted their Everest climbs. That officially kills the romance.

I once heard that a member of my high school class had died on Mount Everest. That was not correct. I later learned he died on Shishapangma, which is the smallest and least challenging of the worlds 14 tallest peaks. Here’s what I know: there were experienced climbers present, but no Sherpas and no oxygen. The man who died went off and climbed without help. He fell into a crevasse. The idea seemed to be that he ditched the people who protected him because he had something to prove. I don’t know whether that’s true. Maybe the person who told me the story slanted things; he got the name of the mountain wrong, and he said there was a Sherpa.

The story is sad and chilling. A person who was close to him said they never found anything except his belongings, so he is still up there. I wonder what he went through. Was he killed instantly, or did he die of exposure and thirst? I hate to think he might have been trapped there, watching the filtered sunlight appear and disappear over the course of however many days it took to stop his heart.

For many people, Himalayan climbing is about bragging rights. I hope he didn’t extinguish himself trying to generate a story about the way he disdained help.

I learned some other interesting things about Everest. Here’s one: there’s a whole lot of poop up there. The lowest base camp has disgusting latrines, but once you start climbing, accepted practice is to walk away from the group, poop on the snow, and cover it. The poop freezes in a hurry, and then it’s just there. When the temperature fluctuates, it melts. Some of it gets into the groundwater. When new climber/tourists show up and drink tea made with the pure snow of Mother Everest, they’re really drinking poop soup. There aren’t a whole lot of paths to the peak, tourists in Asia often get diarrhea, and almost 8,000 people have summitted, so imagine how much poop there must be.

It must be a lot of fun pooping in plain sight, while the other tourists slog by.

The movies and shows don’t seem to focus on toilet issues. They’re too busy promoting the glamor.

Everest also has a litter problem. People leave their wrappers and cans all over the ground. Nasty. The peak itself has a litter problem. Climber/tourists with a graffitti mentality leave all sorts of junk up there, because, dude, it has, like, meaning to them.

It’s not easy to clean up a place that ranges in elevation from 17,000 to 29,000 feet, and besides, no one really wants to do it. Everest probably attracts a lot of narcissists who aren’t all that interested in the grunt work.

I would hate to go there even as a visitor, now that it’s a vertical cess-sicle. I don’t even like to use public restrooms. Everest would just be too much.

Warm, dirty places are better than cold, dirty places, because in a cold place, filth is preserved forever.

I learned one more thing you may find interesting. When you freeze your hand or foot off on Mount Everest, you don’t actually freeze it off. It turns red, then black, and then you have to keep it for a couple of months even though it’s dead. When it comes to frostbite, doctors say, “Frozen in January, amputate in July.” It’s impossible to tell how much tissue has to go until the rot process is over.

Imagine what it must be like to have one to four black, rotting extremities for a number of weeks. Think how that must affect your quality of life. Every day you’d be sitting there looking at the catastrophic results of the dumbest decision you ever made, and you wouldn’t have closure. Having a hand cut off instantly would be terrible, but I’d prefer that to having a dead black hand in front of me every day until spring came.

Big mountains are very cool, but I wouldn’t put Everest on my bucket list even if I had one. If you have to risk your life and suffer greatly in order to get your mind right, you are on the wrong path, and you need to turn back and look for a better one.

More

I have been thinking about the guy who died on Shishapangma. I have been under the impression that the accident was caused by overconfidence, but maybe it was something worse.

Let me call the decedent “George” in order to have something to call him, other than his real name.

The high school George and I attended was a prestigious prep school. Every year, a lot of graduates went to Ivy League schools, as I did. The year we graduated, if memory serves, two students were accepted by Princeton. One was a friend of mine who got his MD at 25 and then shot himself in the head with a Desert Eagle. The other was George. He was admitted early.

George never went to Princeton.

One day during our senior year, everyone had to walk out of school and out to our designated fire drill areas. Someone had called in a bomb scare. Exams were in session, and the test interrupted them.

Our school had a pay phone near the library entrance. On the day of the bomb scare, another guy I knew picked up the phone to use it, and there was already someone on the line. It was the police. They asked if anyone had just used the phone. The student identified George. That’s how I heard it, anyway.

George threatened to bomb the school because he was worried about an exam. He didn’t go to prison, which is surprising, but Princeton dropped him, and he ended up going to Wesleyan, which is on a lower tier.

He would have been about 33 on the day he died. He was still in school. He had decided to be a doctor. His undergrad degree was in some useless liberal arts discipline, so he had to go back and take math and science courses.

Life had not panned out for George. He had started life as a good student and a top athlete who won recognition all over his state, and then there had been the bomb scare and the fall from grace. I don’t know what he was doing between Wesleyan and his medical conversion, but he was not a professional, and a person who wrote about his death said he had been in the process of turning his life around. You don’t turn your life around when things are going well.

After George disappeared, supposedly, all they found were his trekking poles, his sunglasses, his backpack, and his journal.

Here’s what I wonder: what if the fall wasn’t an accident?

Why would you walk around alone in an area where there were crevasses? Why would you put down your poles? Why would you take off your sunglasses and backpack? If you simply fell, those things would probably go with you.

It’s a disturbing thought, but I can’t help wondering.

Many people botch their suicides. They shoot off the bottom halves of their faces. They break their backs in jumps from buildings. Jumping into an ice crevasse, sustaining nonfatal injuries, and then dying over a period of days or hours would be a horrible way to go.

I didn’t know George well, but I knew him a little. We sat in classes together for four years. We knew each other socially; there were only about a hundred kids in our class. He didn’t seem like a happy person at all. My school was full of kids who were driven and incapable of relaxing, and he seemed like one of them.

The other Princeton student, Ken, was the most driven person I had ever known. He was way up in the class rankings. Like George, he was also an athlete. He left Princeton to join a 5-year, 2-degree program at the University of Florida. Who leaves Princeton? That’s how impatient he was.

His dad was an overbearing, pushy radiologist. Nothing Ken ever did was good enough for him. When he died, his estate was a mess, and Ken and his crazy brother were left to fight over it. He left hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a wall in their house, and one day Ken saw that it had disappeared. He called his dad’s lawyer, who had known about the money, and the lawyer said, “What money?” Ken told me he thought the lawyer had worked something out with his brother.

One night, Ken’s brother ran him out of the house, shooting at his legs with a .357. Ken was in the shower when his brother started shooting, and he fled the house naked. Ken filed a bar complaint against the lawyer and found a new place to live. He claimed the lawyer called him and begged him to call the bar off.

Ken used to spend almost every afternoon at my house. He just wanted a place to hang out and be less alone.

He bought a Smith and Wesson 9mm and a Desert Eagle .44 Magnum. He said he wanted protection from his brother. We used to go to the range together.

One day in 1987, one of his other friends called and asked me when was the last time I had seen Ken. I told him, and I asked why he wanted to know. He said Ken had shot himself to death with the Desert Eagle.

The last time I had seen him, he had been angry at me over something trivial. Ken was extremely aggressive, and he always wanted to do things the quick and easy way. For example, when he went lobster diving in Biscayne Bay, he would tear short (illegal) lobsters in half in the water and throw the tails in the boat. He did that to keep his friends from throwing them back in the water.

The last time I saw him, we were driving around, and he wanted me to break some rule or other. Maybe a traffic rule. I can’t remember. When he got out of the car, he said, “You’re such an a_____e.” It didn’t mean anything. He had a hot temper.

I never thought he would kill himself. He was miserable, but he never seemed inclined to end it.

I didn’t go to the funeral. I don’t know if there was one. If there had been, I probably would have waited for an invitation. I didn’t know much about funerals at that age. Maybe there was a service, and people thought I was a jerk for not going. Ken was Jewish, though, so he would have been buried fast. I didn’t hear about his death until days later.

He was a medical doctor at 25, and he thought he was a failure. He said he could hear his father laughing at him from beyond the grave. There was a rich Mexican kid in our class, and his name was Eduardo. His family was Jewish, too, and his dad was rumored to be worth something like 300 million dollars. Eduardo used to put Ken down, telling him he would never be as rich as Eduardo. That actually bothered Ken. It would have meant nothing at all to me. It seemed like the Jewish kids felt they had to prove things to each other.

He was not programmed for happiness or longevity.

There were a lot of unhappy rich kids at that school. One of them, a guy named Barry Adler, picked a friend up at Miami International for a drug deal. The friend had a suitcase full of money. Adler reached around from the back seat, slit his throat, and stabbed him 33 times. He went to prison, got out early for good behavior, and was shot in the head in the parking lot of a Lum’s restaurant. He was only free for five months. The kid he stabbed came from a rich family, and they were surely unhappy about his release. People wondered if they had a hand in his killing.

I remember throwing a paper wad at Barry when we were in Algebra II together (he was two years older than I was). He gave me a very angry look. It wasn’t until he was convicted of murder that I realized what was behind that look.

Then there was Marty Kogan. He was in the class after mine. He always seemed to think he was playing people. He generally appeared to feel he was one step ahead of everyone else, but I don’t think he ever was. One day in 1984, he rented a boat on Miami Beach, and later on, it was found off the coast, empty, with his brains splattered on it. People assumed he had gone out there to make a drug deal, but if the facts ever came out, I don’t know what they are. He bought a pistol the day before. Why would you buy a pistol the day before you take a rented boat out to the gulf stream, alone, in 1984 Miami? Something to consider.

The boat was found circling with a rope on the helm. Why would you put a rope on a boat’s helm? How is that consistent with a drug deal or suicide? I don’t know. If he was murdered, as people believe, someone would have had to be on the boat with him. You can’t shoot someone from any distance on a rocking boat. But why would they tie down the wheel before jumping off?

Why would you take a boat out in order to kill yourself? That doesn’t make any sense. You can kill yourself anywhere. It must have been murder.

I don’t know why I’m thinking about these things.

My school was full of kids who had extraordinary advantages, but they didn’t know God, and they generally weren’t at peace. Maybe that’s not surprising. The school was half Jewish, and Jews are the most restless people on earth. You would think they would work harder on securing a homeland. Maybe if you’ve never lived in your homeland, you don’t know what it is that’s eating you.

George, Barry, Marty, and Ken were all Jewish.

It’s funny how things work out for people. A bright start is no guarantee of a happy ending.

I hope George did not suffer.

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Shocking News About Colbert

May 4th, 2017

Brave Leftist Firebrand Not Punished by Leftist Network

I have more than one thing to talk about today, so I plan to ramble and digress. This will be a major shock to people who have been reading this blog for a while.

I hate to follow with another shock, but here it is: Stephen Colbert, the late night host who used broadcast TV to direct obscene insults at the president of the United States, is NOT in trouble with his network. I repeat, he is NOT in trouble. He has not been fired. He has not been suspended. The FCC is not up in arms. There have been no marches.

I don’t know about you, but I’m floored. The left’s impeccable history of “fair-mindedness” (a term Colbert likes) and willingness to police itself has been tarnished. Boycott Colbert! Boycott CBS! Boycott everything! Because if we do that, we know they’ll admit fault and do the right thing.

Yes. That will happen.

Made myself laugh.

Evil is predictable. The more evil is tolerated, the more predictable it gets, because people stop trying to be subtle. They don’t care if they get caught.

Colbert is, of course, highly apologetic. He apologized by making gloating jokes about how he was “still the host.” He also said it was fair to insult Trump, because Colbert’s weapons were jokes and Trump has the nuclear launch codes.

Again, I think Colbert is writing his own material. Maybe this is a good thing. If his head gets big enough, maybe he’ll can his capable writers and insist on using his own jokes until his ratings reach Chevy Chase levels.

In case he reads this blog, I’m going to provide some useful information. Under current laws, and perhaps tragically, the president can’t actually nuke comedians. Nuclear weapons, to paraphrase the late Graham Chapman, are what scientists call “very large.” If Trump nuked Colbert’s trillion-dollar penthouse, there would almost certainly be damage to neighboring apartments, in that the buildings containing them would be turned into hot plasma, along with much of the granite of the underlying island. That would never fly with most of the Joint Chiefs.

In a way, Colbert’s clumsy, ill-premised rationalization has increased my admiration for him. If he really believes he’s risking nuclear annihilation every time he made a Trump joke, he must be one of the bravest men alive. Think how relieved he would be to know he’s in the clear. Maybe he and Jon Stewart are serious about holing up in an off-grid cabin in an undisclosed location. If I were afraid my own president would scorch me like a gnat on a bug-zapper, I’d be hiding out, too.

He’s not really brave. You don’t have to be brave to parrot the beliefs of the people who let you keep your high-paying job. Dissent is the thing that takes courage. Charlton Heston was brave, and James Woods is brave. Colbert is hiding deep in the nurturing bulk of a like-minded and highly protective herd.

You don’t really need to prove it’s fair to criticize the president. Everyone already knew it was fair, and we have a Constitutional Amendment that makes it legal. I haven’t argued a Constitutional question before a judge in quite a while, but I think I’m on firm ground when I say that if Trump decided to nuke late night comedians, he would be barred by the left’s second-least-favorite amendment, i.e., the First.

No one questioned the fairness of insulting Trump. They questioned the willingness of a TV network to use public airwaves to broadcast schoolyard filth. Colbert knows fairness was never at issue. He just wants to steer the conversation into an alternate universe in which the dispute is one in which he isn’t clearly, indefensibly wrong.

Has anyone else noticed that Colbert and Trump are a lot alike? Neither one can acknowledge error. Both are thin-skinned. Both talk without thinking. Both have mammoth egos. They’re made for each other.

I said Colbert was not going to get in trouble, based on my knowledge of leftist hypocrisy, and of course, I was right. Here’s another thing I was apparently right about: it looks like Barack Obama is gay.

Stephen Colbert must be furious at him.

In a new biography by journalist David Garrow, it is claimed that a young Obama wrote of considering a homosexual liaison with college professor Lawrence Goldwyn. Note that the allegation isn’t that someone else said Obama was gay; it’s that Obama himself wrote about it.

Obama could not get into a good college on the first try, so before he transferred to Columbia College, where he became part of my class, he attended Occidental University. There he became close with Goldwyn. Here is a money quote from Garrow:

Three years later, Obama wrote somewhat elusively to his first intimate girlfriend that he had thought about and considered gayness, but ultimately had decided that a same-sex relationship would be less challenging and demanding than developing one with the opposite sex. . .

This is interesting for more than one reason.

Obama is the gay marriage president. In order to get himself elected, he lied and said he opposed gay marriage. When he realized revealing his true position couldn’t hurt him (Colbertian bravery!), he admitted he was for it. He then violated his oath of office by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Now that we know he’s gay, who can be surprised?

The story is also interesting because there have always been rumors about Obama’s sexual orientation. People say he frequented gay sex clubs in Chicago, for example. After he became a presidential candidate, we didn’t hear much about that. Is that because the rumors weren’t true or because leftists wanted to hide the truth from the public?

Similarly, the Garrow biography, which is clearly unflattering in some regards, didn’t appear until Obama was out of office. Why is that? What if it had popped up in August of 2012? Things might be different today. Romney might have won, and we might be in the middle of his reign. It could have kept Trump out of the White House and helped prevent an atmosphere of leftist hatred and violence from arising so soon.

Did Garrow withhold the book in order to help Obama? What about his publisher? No, things like that don’t happen. No journalist or publisher would put the advancement of leftism above professional ethics. Ask Dan Rather.

I’m sure SJW’s are “correcting” people like me who assert that Obama is gay. They’ll say considering a homosexual relationship isn’t proof of homosexuality. Well, it is. A heterosexual would be repelled by the idea. It’s a desire that can’t arise in the heterosexual consciousness. It’s like hating liver and saying to yourself, “I think I may want to start eating liver.” A man who isn’t gay can’t be excited by the prospect of sex with other men. Obama may be bisexual, and people may say that’s not gay, but “gay” is part of “bisexual,” so…he’s gay. Unless Garrow made the letter up.

Obama is a minor figure now, so it probably doesn’t matter whether he’s popular or not, but I expect his popularity to increase now that he has been outed. Leftists will see him as a victim, and that’s something that always appeals to them. Gays will see him in a new and exciting way; he won’t be unattainable any more. One wonders if he’ll leap out of the closet on a talk show, to riotous applause. “Look how we fooled them.”

If Obama comes out on The Late Show, I assume Colbert will be gentle.

It’s hard for Obama to offend his fans. He took $400,000 for a short speech, which should have thrown his socialist minions into spasms of faux-ascetic outrage, but it blew over in a day. He might be able to upset them if he really tried, though. He could try going to a real church or getting a pistol permit.

He’s about to get $60 million for writing a book. I hope Bill Ayres does a good job. Last time around, Obama insulted the white grandmother who saved him from rejection and brought him up as her own, while praising the black bigamist deadbeat dad who abandoned him. I wonder if he can top that feat of betrayal, racism, and tone deafness.

The playing field is so slanted these days; one wonders if there is any point at all in registering to vote or speaking one’s views. The left owns entertainment and the press. A big percentage of Americans are now convinced that worshiping the God of love, who let himself be tortured to death for our sake, makes you an evil person. We can’t win any more. The machine is programmed to destroy us.

We think we won the presidential election, and we’re excited to see Republicans do well in state contests, but come on. Are the people in Congress really conservative or God-fearing? In 1960, they would have been considered leftist nuts. Trump, who lost the popular vote, is good on some issues but bad on others, and he may get so crazy he repeats George Bush’s sin: he may make people ashamed to vote for Republican presidents for a couple of election cycles. Most of the people we elect to state office are weak conservatives, and anyway, the states have no power. Centralized government is a reality, and eventually it will be written into law.

What we need is divine help. It would be nice if we had a few prominent preachers teaching us how to be powerful, but we don’t. The Pope teaches legalism mixed with paganism, and Catholicism is the biggest Christian denomination in America. Big-time Protestant ministries teach people God will make them rich if they send preachers money, and that doesn’t work. Almost no one is teaching real repentance, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, prayer in tongues, casting out spirits, or how to live in the presence of God. To make things worse, Christians angrily defend the wolves that eat their flesh and make them weak.

On a national level, things aren’t looking too good, except to the gullible, but individuals can still be saved. Until this mess wraps up, I plan to sit on the sidelines and enjoy the show as well as I can.

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Count to Ten and Improve Your Comedy-Writing Skills

May 3rd, 2017

Colbert’s Talent Evaporates in Plume of Rage

How about that Stephen Colbert?

If you are blessedly ignorant of the current Colbert fracas, let me mess up your day by bringing you up to speed.

This week, Donald Trump got upset with CBS journalist (Is “CBS journalist” an oxymoron?) John Dickerson. During an interview, Dickerson asked Trump about his use of the terms “sick” and “bad” to describe former President (“Former”! YES!) Barack Obama. Trump refused to expound, telling Dickerson, “You can take it any way you want it.” Dickerson persisted, to the point of badgering, and Trump ended the interview and sat down.

Dickerson was somewhat disrespectful and a little rude. Trump was thin-skinned and impatient.

Colbert entered the picture later, during his own CBS show. I don’t know anything about John Dickerson, but Colbert seems to be intimately acquainted with the man’s work and character, because he said, “Donald Trump, John Dickerson is a fair-minded journalist and one of the most competent people who will ever walk into your office, and you treat him like that?”

Maybe Colbert knows something about John Dickerson which I do not. That would not be saying a lot, since I didn’t know who John Dickerson was until this week. Still, I sort of suspect Colbert barely knows who he is and simply took up for him because Trump cut him off.

One has to wonder what “fair-minded” means in the Colbert universe. He may think Ed Schultz is fair-minded.

Colbert was enraged by Trump’s behavior, so he decided to defend Dickerson during his own show’s monologue. This is where the story gets interesting. Ordinarily, Colbert does his job very well, but in riding to the rescue of John Dickerson, he unleashed a salvo of put-downs that weren’t funny or witty at all, and a couple were obscene.

Let’s see.

1. In a light-hearted dig, Trump called Dickerson’s program, Face the Nation, “Deface the Nation,” which was actually funny. Colbert said this: “Mr. President, I love your presidency, I call it ‘Disgrace The Nation.'”

That doesn’t work on any level. Trump’s presidency doesn’t have a title, because it’s not a TV show. Trump took a well-known phrase and put a new twist on it, which took a certain amount of wit. Colbert’s effort to turn the joke back on Trump sounded contrived and desperate. My guess: Colbert wrote this joke, and the others, himself.

2. Colbert said, “Let me introduce you to the Tiffany way. When you insult one member of the CBS family, you insult us all. Buzzinga.”

Tiffany is Trump’s apolitical daughter, who deserves to be left alone. Trump took a shot at a willing player in the political game, and Colbert made an ill-premised effort to put that player in the same out-of-bounds class as a girl who hasn’t bothered anyone. And what’s up with “buzzinga”? It sounded like Colbert was applauding himself. He might as well have said, “Oooh! Sick burn!” It’s as if he knew how weak the jab was, and he was trying to convince the audience he believed in it. If a line of dialogue is bad, you don’t throw your weight behind it. You cross it out and write something else. Right?

3. “You’re not the POTUS; you’re the BLOTUS.”

What’s that supposed to mean? Is he calling Trump fat? Is it suddenly okay for leftists to make fun of fat people? Is he going after Lena Dunham or Hillary Clinton next? Trump looks great for a man his age. If “Trump is fat” is now, as the hipsters like to put it, “a thing,” I haven’t heard about it.

4. “You’re the glutton with the button.”

What??? Does he mean the nuclear button? Is he accusing Trump of being unfit to be in charge of nuclear weapons because he eats too much? Does Trump even have a reputation for eating too much? This joke did about as well as North Korea’s last missile test.

5. “You’re a regular Gorge Washington.”

I can’t explain this one at all, except that again, it seems to be a fat joke. Like the ones Colbert hurled at Al Gore when he was pushing 300 pounds. Remember that? No? Hmm.

6. “You’re the Presi-dunce.”

Did he write that while he was walking to his mark? This is the kind of joke I would expect to see in sample material sent to Colbert’s show by wannabee writers who will never, ever break out of their jobs at Ikea and Starbucks. “Dear ___: While we thank you for your application, we regret to inform you…”

7. “You’re turning into a real p____-tator.”

“P____” is a bad word used to describe male genitalia. At this point, I have to wonder if Colbert was deliberately making terrible jokes in order to parody Trump’s efforts. I don’t think that’s true, though, because when Colbert imitated O’Reilly, he used good material. A more likely explanation is that Colbert was ad-libbing, which, apparently, he can’t.

Also, has Colbert gone all Colonel Kurtz on us? Does he think he owns his show? He doesn’t. He’s a CBS employee. Someone up high probably reminded him of that the day after his Trump spasm.

8. “You attract more skinheads than free Rogaine.”

It’s hard to believe this one got out of his mouth. I will say what everyone else in America is already thinking: skinheads aren’t bald because they lost their hair. They shave their heads, Steve. They want to be bald. Come on. Why would a person who shaves his head want Rogaine? It’s like saying a black man who straightens his hair wants curlers.

Maybe Colbert thinks Nazism is the result of bitterness due to social rejection caused by hair loss.

9. “You have more people marching against you than cancer.”

Is marching for cancer…”a thing”? I know there are walkathons and so on, but I don’t believe cancer draws actual protesters, due to the fact that cancer is a disease, not a social injustice. When you protest, cancer can’t see you. It doesn’t care about poll numbers. Again, I picture distraught writers trying to tackle Colbert as he walked out into the lights armed with these bombs. This crap reflects on them.

10. “You talk like a sign-language gorilla who got hit in the head.”

Sign-language gorillas don’t talk. They use sign language. I’m pretty sure. And if they could talk, hitting one in the head wouldn’t make him cocky or touchy, like our President. It would cause him to lose speech function. Perhaps Colbert is saying Trump sounds like he’s handicapped. I don’t really know what he’s saying, though. His potatoes came out of the oven before they were done.

11. “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c___-holster.”

Again, Colbert uses a word meaning male sexual organ. This one is the cherry on the cake. It was Colbert’s utterly astonishing MOAB. It’s fitting that it came last, because it’s the one most worthy of discussion.

First of all, you said this on broadcast television, with kids watching (Yes, kids do watch late night shows.) After the fits leftists have had over mild expletives and so on from conservatives, you pulled this out? How could any talk show host with a gig hundreds of people would happily do just as well for less money say a thing like this? And Colbert is supposedly a Catholic Sunday school teacher. I wonder what he’ll teach this weekend. Does his church have him on a seven-second delay?

Apart from that, once more…not clever. This is the kind of thing little kids say after schoolyard fights. CBS shouldn’t pay a grown man to come up with lines like this. And where did you get the idea Trump is Putin’s friend? Have you heard of Syria? Do I have to explain that? Oh, wait. I forgot. The RUSSIA CONSPIRACY, which even Julian Assange denies. It’s the birtherism of the modern left. Assange denied it. Syria blew it apart. No matter. At CBS, it’s still dogma.

People are calling for Colbert’s dismissal. Not me. He should be fired, but I’m not calling for it, because I don’t care. I’m not all that angry, either. Mainly, I’m disturbed that a mainstream TV host thought it was okay to say these things, that his network only responded much later (weakly), and that many Americans think he deserves an award.

People criticize slippery slope theories, but they accurately describe the way societies work. Conservatives say convenience abortion will lead to infanticide. Leftists laugh. But it happened in China, and it also happened in Kermit Gosnell’s office and in the offices of other providers who haven’t been caught. There are now respected liberal pundits who say we should be allowed to kill babies after delivery. Most people thought it was fine when the cops arrested Robert Mitchum for smoking weed. Now you can smoke in a parade. We used to think tattoos were trashy. They caught on, and now “body modification” enthusiasts split their sex organs down the middle, cut their noses off, remove their cheeks, and dye their eyeballs black. Limb amputations will eventually follow (Fifty cents says they already have…let’s check…yes, at least 17 years ago.) People with traditional values were upset when Jack Paar used the phrase “water closet” on The Tonight Show in 1960. Now Stephen Colbert is accusing the President of performing oral sex on the ruler of Russia, and many of us approve.

Look at us.

I’m sure people think I’m nuts when I say America is now insane, and that it’s not a big moral jump to a time when murdering Christians and observant Jews in the street will be considered God’s work, but every day, the news proves how extreme we’ve gotten. Alternative righteousness keeps rising, and Christianity, increasingly, is portrayed as not merely wrong, but evil.

Colbert and his mentor, Jon Stewart, have a big time making fun of people who believe the end of this age is coming. Generally, they have pretended the axe they were grinding was political, but a few years ago, it became obvious that their real target was Christianity. They appeared at a march in Washington and said attendees were there for “a good time, not the end times.” They now have a running gag in which they share a prepper cabin out in the woods.

It’s like they’re making fun of Noah. Has anyone else caught that?

Noah took decades to finish the ark, in a world that had never seen rain. His neighbors thought he had lost his mind. They became increasingly gross and cruel. Surely, in that progressive atmosphere, he was ridiculed around the clock.

Then it started raining.

What did Jesus tell us? He said he would return in a period that was like the days of Noah and the days of Lot. Noah and Lot were good men who were delivered from places that underwent destruction. They were surrounded by people who thought they were crazy. Lot’s gay neighbors probably thought he was doing evil when he begged them not to rape the angels. Look how much our times look like those times.

We can’t take America back. I like the MAGA hats, but I’m not dumb enough to think they’re going to fix things. We will continue to deteriorate and coarsen. Colbert and Stewart are going to win. I’m not going to get agitated about it and go to rallies and get beaten up by warm, loving leftists. None of that stuff is going to work.

It’s disturbing to see the ship sink, isn’t it? America has never known a time like this. In the past, the pendulum would swing toward insanity, and then it would swing back. Now the swings toward sanity are getting shorter.

Jesus said the world would have birth pangs before his return, and I think I’ve misunderstood that. I thought he meant his return was a kind of birth, and that the pangs were for him. That’s wrong! They’re the birth pangs of the Beast. That’s the natural/supernatural cyborg which is about to spring onto the scene in glory and power. Jesus comes later.

We had the disgraceful Sixties, and then we sobered up a little. Then we had the politically correct Eighties, and then we realized we were deluded, and we started making fun of the term “politically correct.” Now PC is back, and it’s not going away. That’s how birth pangs work. They start off small, and then they get worse. Then the baby comes.

Even Colbert is getting a taste of the back of the Beast’s hand. Certain liberals are criticizing him because his remarks about Trump and Putin are anti-gay. They have a point. If Colbert really thought it was good for one man to have sex with another, why use a reference to oral sex as an insult? I assume that wasn’t how Colbert saw it when he was writing that “joke” in the makeup chair, but maybe he was, and anyway, it doesn’t matter. When it comes to PC, appearance is everything and intention is nothing. Guilt isn’t something you have to prove. It’s a premise. Like global warming.

If CBS doesn’t fire Colbert, it will be a stunning proof of the left’s hypocrisy. I don’t think it will serve any purpose, however. If you don’t know the left is crazy by now, Colbert’s survival won’t wake you up.

Colbert, a successor who is even worse…what does it matter? People come and go, but the spirits that control them are immortal and persistent. Madonna is washed up and wrinkled, but we have Lady Gaga. Before Madonna, we had Marilyn Monroe. New houses. Same owners.

How weird are things going to get before the end? If the mothership isn’t here by now, I hate to think what life will be like when it finally arrives.

To sum up, I guess, I will say this: it’s never about politics. It’s always about God and Satan. I’m glad conservatives won some important offices, but the ship is not going to stop sinking. We shouldn’t mistake temporary reprieves for victories.

I wonder what will happen next. I predict this: Colbert will not be disciplined in any real sense, and the reason is simply that conservatives want him to be disciplined.

Maybe we should beg the network to keep him.

More

I found out what “buzzinga” means, and I corrected the spelling. “Buzzinga” is a word used by a character on a TV show I don’t watch (CBS; need I explain?) The Big Bang Theory has a character named Sheldon, and he makes bad jokes. Evidently, once in a while he says “Buzzinga!” to celebrate the success of a joke which actually failed.

I still can’t figure out why Colbert said it, unless he was deliberately being unfunny and wanted hipsters to know it. But I don’t think that was the idea, since he seemed genuinely pleased with his lame jokes.

I also found out what “the Tiffany way” means. CBS calls itself “the Tiffany network,” so, assuming I have my universal translator set correctly, I believe Colbert was saying CBS has coopted the motto of the Hell’s Angels: “All on one and one on all,” which means that if you’re say, Hunter Thompson, and your attitude annoys one gang member, they all stomp you into the floor of a bar.

Hope my lack of hipness hasn’t utterly ruined my credibility.

Still waiting for an explanation of “BLOTUS.”

1 Comment »

The New Righteousness

May 2nd, 2017

Be Your Own God, Because Obviously, You’re Qualified

The other day I wrote about writer/director Joss Whedon and TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). Over the last few days, I have thought some more about Whedon. I’m wondering if I overestimated his talent.

Back in the Buffy days, I got very wrapped up in Whedon’s work. I enjoyed Buffy because it was funny and clever, and because the series was about redemption. Offhand, I can think of two major characters who were redeemed.

The first character who got redemption was Angel, the vampire with a soul. Christians believe the soul is the mind and personality. Many people who are not Christians see it differently. They see the soul as a mysterious warm presence inside people that makes them good. I guess that would make empathy and conscience the soul.

In the Buffy realm, known to fans as the Buffyverse, vampires have minds but no souls. That means they’re psychopaths and narcissists. They love making other creatures suffer, and they’re very conceited. Angel lost his soul when he became a vampire, but then he bit a gypsy, and some other gypsy cursed him by sending his soul back into him. This was bad news for Angel, at least in the short term, because he suddenly found himself crushed under the weight of his extraordinary guilt. You can’t spend centuries torturing people and drinking their blood without having a few things to regret.

In the Buffyverse, Angel was a sweet guy. He was exactly what shallow women dream of: a tall, handsome, well-dressed guy who is very evil yet has a sensitive side. I always call guys like this “sensitive pirates.” You see them on the covers of romance novels. I’ve actually looked inside romance novels, because someone I knew left them lying around, and the heroes are pretty hilarious. It’s always some guy with a name like Jake or Lance, and he’s a pirate or a vampire or something. He kills lots of people and maybe steals things and commits arson, but after he captures the novel’s heroine and rapes her for a while, she finds out he’s really just a big teddy bear.

One of the big problems shallow women have is that they want alpha males with beta male hearts, or rather, they want men who are alpha to the world and beta to their wives. They want men who are cruel and mean to other people, yet warm and cuddly to their women. Of course, life does not work that way. If you’re an alpha male’s wife, you’re beta, at best. You may even be gamma or epsilon. Look at Nicole Brown Simpson. To an alpha male, the wife is an extension of himself. When some kind of schism occurs–for example, when Mr. Alpha starts seeing wrinkles and tiny hairs appear on Mrs. Alpha’s aging face–Mrs. Alpha loses her extension status and becomes other. Then she gets the same harsh treatment she used to enjoy seeing Mr. Alpha inflict on others.

In any case, Angel was your typical sensitive pirate. It was like Anne Rice had a baby with Barbara Cartland.

The other character who was redeemed was Spike. This was the character I liked. Spike was a wimp before he became a vampire. He was the king of the friend zone. Women saw him as a person who could keep them company while they waited for alphas to show up and run him off. He wrote drippy poetry.

Vampire Spike, unlike Fabio–I mean Angel–had no soul. He got great joy from cruelty, and he made all sorts of funny remarks while he was engaged in it. He really hated Buffy. Of course, he ended up falling in love with her. Somehow, in the process, he developed a soul. The writers never said he had one, but he had empathy and love. He was self-sacrificing. He went through indescribable tortures to make himself worthy of his new love. Buffy never really accepted him, but she did become attracted to him, and she eventually fell prey to his charms. They had sex, and on TV, that means true romance.

I enjoyed watching the Spike/Buffy mess evolve, and I thought it was the thing that kept the show alive. It was very unusual to see the themes of sacrifice and redemption in a TV show. I figured all the other people who watched were caught up in it, too. Then I read some message board stuff from fans, and boy, was I surprised. These little nerds hated the romantic aspect of the show. They blamed a writer named Marni Nixon. Apparently, all they want to see was Buffy stabbing demons with swords and pieces of wood. They wanted Whedon to take the reins and pour on the violence.

I was highly disappointed in the fans. You have to be seriously stunted in the emotions department to prefer choreographed vampire fights to a love story based on self-sacrifice and redemption. I guess the fans were missing some vital parts. There was something lacking in them.

It’s hard to empathize with someone that empty and juvenile.

I loved seeing the series develop. In creating episodes, the creative team reached back to prior seasons and episodes, grabbed loose threads, and wove them back into the action. It was neat. I assumed Whedon was the brains behind this, and that he was propelling the Spike story.

In retrospect, I wonder about all that. I think I probably gave Whedon too much credit.

The first Buffy movie was bad. It wasn’t just okay. It was bad. It was shallow. It wasn’t funny. It was Whedon’s baby. If Whedon is so great, why was the movie such an empty bag?

Whedon has co-written good movies, but how has he done on his own? Alien Resurrection was very bad. Serenity was good but not great, and I probably like it more than I should because I’m a fan of the TV show. He rewrote Captain America, which wasn’t very good. He rewrote Thor: the Dark World, which was bad. He wrote two pictures called The Cabin in the Woods and In Your Eyes. Since these movies barely existed at the box office, I assume the worst. He wrote Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was okay, but it’s horrible compared to any of the Iron Man movies.

Whedon didn’t write all of the Buffy episodes. He had a team. I believe I mistook their ability for his. Also, it’s possible to see yourself in other people’s work. It’s possible for a shallow work to give you deep thoughts. When that happens, you tend to credit the writer when in reality, the thoughts his work inspired in you were “happy accidents,” like extraneous trees in a Bob Ross painting.

Actors who have done very good work in Whedon projects have generally gone on to languish in D-list obscurity. Look at Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charisma Carpenter, James Marsden, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Andy Hallett. I used to think the reason they didn’t go on to bigger things was that they didn’t really have much talent. I thought Whedon made them look good, and when Whedon was removed from the mix, they faltered. Here’s what I’m thinking now: maybe Whedon’s writing team made Whedon look good. Maybe I should have extended my theory to Whedon himself.

Interesting question.

I read some very depressing stuff about Whedon. Someone asked him if there was a God, and he said, “Absolutely not. That’s a very important and necessary thing to learn.” That’s a seriously typical bit of Whedon shtick. Say something to put people on edge, and then double down for shock value. Unfortunately, if you keep shooting for shock long enough, it stops being shocking and turns into exactly the kind of boring work you thought you had transcended.

Whedon denies having anything against Christians, but in another interview, he adapted a term from writer Tim Minear and referred to God as “The Sky Bully.” Does that sound hostile to you? It does to me. Whedon feels hostility toward the God he does not believe in, so how can he not be hostile to people who praise God and Christianity, especially when we tend to be part of the political faction he hates with burning, irrational, hysterical fervor?

Atheists say they don’t believe in God, but in my experience, they have generally turned out to be people who think God might exist, yet who punish him with rejection because they disapprove of him. “God says I can’t be gay? God does not exist.” “God says I can’t have an abortion? God does not exist.” “God says Uncle Fred is in hell because he rejected Jesus? God does not exist.” Every so often, you meet an atheist who isn’t angry at some sort of straw God, but it’s rare.

It’s disturbing that Whedon says it’s important and necessary to learn that God doesn’t exist. It shows he thinks belief in God is evil. People who hate God aren’t just trying to do bad things, like murder and stealing. They’re trying to create an alternative righteousness, and in the scheme of alternative righteousness, God’s righteousness is the lowest evil there is.

A lot of people (Christians included) believe that as long as a person is nice, that person goes to heaven or something like it. Many Christians have turned Christianity into a game. You score enough “nice” points, and God takes you to heaven when you die, and you get a McMansion. This idea has infected Christianity, and anti-Christians, eager to come up with anything that serves as a replacement for devotion to God, have taken it up as a cause. They are constantly deriding Christians for not being nice, and they praise anti-Christians who ooze warmth and approval.

There are a lot of problems with this philosophy. For one thing, God is not that nice. Since I sat down to type this, he has put a number of people in hell, a place he himself created. The Bible says the damned experience the wrath of God. Satan isn’t the one who installed the heating system. God burned the Sodomites alive. God killed Pharaoh’s baby son. When God is nice, no one can be nicer, but when he’s not nice, he is still righteous.

If you look at the left these days, you’ll see a lot of people accusing Christians of hate, and they apply the word “love” to themselves over and over. When they show up to beat unarmed Trump supporters at rallies, they say, “Love trumps hate.” They have a very funny definition of love. If you comply, you get hugs and kisses. If you disagree, you get a bottle in the face, or they close down your bakery.

It’s funny; they hate God because he’s nice when you obey and harsh when you don’t, but look at them: they’re the same way. Look how they treat people who doubt the global warming religion. Not much love there. They want to get them fired and put them in jail.

Jewish legend says that when Satan and his pals came to the earth and had sex with women, screwing up creation, they went to God first, asking permission. They wanted to come down and help us behave better and please God more. God supposedly told them they would be even worse than humanity. If the story is true, you can see that God was right. It would certainly be consistent with similar stories in the Bible. Many of the worst crimes against God were committed in the name of alternative righteousness.

Aaron’s sons got in trouble for serving God incorrectly; they brought strange fire to the altar. Saul got in trouble for serving God incorrectly; he performed sacrifices even though he wasn’t a priest. The people who sacrificed their children to Moloch were just trying to get protection and success for themselves and their families. Peter thought he was serving God when he opposed God’s plan to send Jesus to the cross. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because they wanted to be wise, not because they wanted to do mean or dishonest things. Alternative righteousness shines like fool’s gold, but it isn’t righteousness at all. It’s just gilded evil.

Now people like Joss Whedon are continuing the tradition of correcting God. That’s not going to end well. It’s why persecution is increasing. In the end, the people who murder us in the streets will be sure they’re doing it out of love for humanity, just as the Nazis sincerely believed they were improving the world by murdering Jews.

Everyone thinks they can improve on God’s plan. I’ve tried it myself too many times to count. It’s the worst kind of pride. A human being is about 50% better than a monkey, and we think we can correct the being that created the universe.

God is not a sky bully. A person who discourages you from doing stupid things is not a bully. If you see him that way, you have self-destructive authority issues. My sister used to think my dad was a bully because he spanked her, and she never got past that. She ended up in the gutter because of that attitude. Unfortunately for many Hollywood celebrities, they’re not in the gutter. The devil pampers them and tells them they’re wonderful. He says they’re exceptional, and that their superiority is the root of their crazy success. They believe it, because believing it feels good. A junkie in the street is better off than a deluded film star or director who believes life is a meritocracy with him or herself at the apex.

It’s strange that people who play make-believe for a living can think highly of themselves. What a perverse world this is. Performers and fans get confused, and they start thinking entertainers are what they pretend to me when they amuse us. They’re not higher beings. Superman ended up in a wheelchair, and Elvis died on the floor next to a toilet.

All over America, there are Joss Whedons, Madonnas, George Clooneys, and Angelina Jolies working at Dairy Queens and Home Depots. Maybe one in 10,000 gets the nod from Satan and becomes famous. The rest live in frustration and obscurity. Many never quit, because they think perseverance is the key. They keep putting nickels in a slot machine that will never pay off. Satan runs a pyramid scheme, and pyramids are narrow at the top. God, on the other hand, is willing to give his best to anyone. We’re just not excited about seeking it. It’s not shiny enough to be interesting until you get very close to it.

Alternative righteousness is coming to get us. We should see it for what it is and refuse to become part of it. To accept it is to deny God.

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He was Joss Kidding

April 29th, 2017

Whedon Sits on a Hornet’s Nest

I’m kind of disappointed to see what’s happening with Joss Whedon.

To those who have never heard of him, Whedon is the man who wrote the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. He was also in charge of the series, and he now has a big TV/movie empire. He’s a big player in the Avengers movies, and he is also behind Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Whedon is what film critics call an auteur. He’s like Kevin Smith, only not long-winded, not as aggressively filthy, and much better at writing action scenes.

Whedon created Firefly, my favorite sci-fi series. The network destroyed it by rolling episodes out in sort of a random order. Too bad.

If you haven’t seen Firefly, it works like this: the Democrats take over the solar system. They interfere in people’s lives, pretty much the way they do in real life. The aim is to produce a lovely classless society in which everyone loves whales, never secretes testosterone, and never puts recyclables in the trash bin. The Democrats, known as the Alliance, mean well, but like our own Democrats, they don’t understand that totalitarianism is bad.

The Firefly solar system is full of tiny asteroids which have been converted into earth clones. Miraculously, and to the extreme indignation of Sir Isaac Newton, these little worlds have exactly the same gravity as earth, and they are able to hold onto gaseous atmospheres.

Not everyone loves the Alliance. Future space Republicans form a confederation and fight back, and they lose. After that, most assimilate, but certain hard core right-wing individuals continue resisting. They live on fringe worlds and make money doing various illegal things.

The show takes place on a ship (a “firefly”) captained by Malcolm Reynolds, who was a sergeant in the rebellion. Malcolm is clearly conservative. He hates the government. He wears a six gun. He grew up on a farm. He’s ex-military. He is aware that he’s male, and he’s in love with a woman. Who was born a woman.

Reynolds is supposed to be a hero, but Whedon himself admitted he and Reynolds probably would not have much in common politically. You know what that makes Whedon. A conservative in denial. He’s like Chris Rock or the pre-conservative Dennis Miller. I don’t think he’ll ever come out of the closet, because the force of denial is strong in this one.

Incidentally, Reynolds is not really a hero. The premise of the show had a lot of problems, and one of them is this: there was never any reason why Reynolds couldn’t go home and go back to farming. In the show and the movie based on it, he killed people and risked lives to keep his ridiculous ship in the air. Okay, space. He never had the slightest justification, until the movie came up with a Democrat plot to conceal a utopia experiment that turned genocidal.

Reynolds would have hated giving up, but it would have been better than stealing and killing for a living. Whedon never confronted that. Liberals are good at cognitive dissonance. It makes their existence possible, just like the atmospheres on little asteroids.

Anyway, Whedon has been going nuts on Twitter. He accused Trump of raping a 13-year-old, which came as news to me. On the night of the election, he put up a snarky meme, pre-celebrating Hillary’s non-forthcoming victory. We all know what he saw the next day, when he turned on NPR or visited The Daily Kos. That must have hurt.

His latest misadventure, over which the Twits are tearing him apart: posting a “humorous” meme with cancer patients in it. Paul Ryan, who, according to most experts, is not Donald Trump, met with some ladies who beat cancer, and Whedon said this: “Tonight on White House Wife Hunt, Donny makes host P. Ryan give 2 more contestants the ‘Not a 10′ card.”

There are a number of problems with this, beyond the strange Ryan/Trump conflation. Whedon is saying Trump would not marry any of the cancer patients because they are not “10’s.” That’s not all that funny, and it wouldn’t be funny even if people didn’t see it as cruel. Whedon is very talented, so it’s not clear why he would post a lifeless, unclever joke. On top of its overall weakness, the joke only works if you accept the premise that the women are not good looking.

You can see how this worked. Whedon, who is a suspiciously, deliberately conspicuously ardent fan of powerful women, is so angry at Trump, he lost sight of the fact that his unfunny meme was an oblique shot at the appearance of several very vulnerable women. Feminists are never supposed to mention womens’ appearance, except to say that all women are extremely, extremely beautiful, even if they’re clearly not. Whedon disparaged the looks of several women, and not only did they qualify as protected individuals by virtue of their exalted gender; they were cancer patients who, presumably, need all the help and reinforcement they can get.

Whedon exposed himself as an insincere feminist, or at least a feminist with troubling undercurrents running around in his skull. Maybe that meme was really a Rorschach test.

That being said, I think the reaction is a little overblown. I don’t think he sat down at the computer with the intention of being cruel to sick people. He was simply addled by Trump Derangement Syndrome, which is what Bush Derangement Syndrome turned into at some point during 2016 (much to the delight of George Bush). He was blinded by his strange hatred of conservatives.

He probably still thinks he didn’t do anything wrong.

People are talking about boycotting Marvel. Yeah, okay. I’ll get right on that. I think the last two movies I saw in theaters were Iron Man and Logan, and they were around eight years apart, so I believe I can commit to a boycott lasting around…eight years. I also promise not to watch Marvel movies on cable, unless nothing else good is on, and while I do record the SHIELD show, I will try to feel really bad when I watch. I always zip past the commercials, so in a way, I’m boycotting the show WHILE watching it.

I promise to stop buying comic books, ASAP. And I won’t go to cosplay conventions. These aren’t things I actually do, so abstinence should be a cinch.

What Whedon needs isn’t a boycott. He needs to sit down in a cool, dark room and ask himself why he created Malcolm Reynolds. His characters are all about guns, military weapons, martial arts, killing, and blowing stuff up in the name of America. One of the big things that drives Reynolds is his hatred of God and Christianity, and Whedon gave him a preacher father figure to help him work that out. Whedon is not Lena Dunham. Somewhere inside him, there is the stunted seed of a Ted Nugent. He just won’t admit it and come to terms with it.

He can say his movies are just fantasy. Isn’t that what pre-arrest pedophiles say about their picture collections and chat rooms? If conservatism isn’t in you, why is it coming out in your screenplays?

If you’re really a conservative at heart, who knows? You might even have a thirst for God. That wouldn’t be cool, and it wouldn’t help your career, but a relationship with God is better than the phony love of West Coast sycophants who will happily eat your gutted corpse the first time you stumble badly enough.

It has to be hard to listen to reason when Hollywood is paying you trillions and telling you you’re a genius. Camel, needle, et cetera.

I have to wonder if Whedon’s involvement with occult shows and movies opened him up to demonic influence. Toward the end of the Buffy shows, he seemed to turn into a demon rights activist. A lot of his energy was devoted to lambasting human characters who were against demons. In the Whedon scheme, demons are a race, and being against demons is bigotry.

Demonic influence would certainly explain Whedon’s irrationality. When things don’t make sense, I look for a supernatural cause.

What interesting days we live in. Thank God I don’t have a Twitter account, myself. I’m glad I’m not involved in this mess.

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Demons of Financial Responsibility, COME OUT!

April 28th, 2017

Familiar Face in the News

Benny Hinn is in the news.

Yesterday I read that the IRS raided one of Hinn’s operations and carried out files. No word on the rationale. Of course, the news outlets were electrified. You know the drill “Bad Christian Proves Faith is a Lie; Stupid Trump Voters, Wake up!”.

I saw another interesting article about the kerfuffle. A young man whom Hinn claims to have healed is mad. William Vandenkolk is 25. He is blind. When he was 9, he appeared on stage with Hinn, and was alleged to have received a healing.

The article describes Vandenkolk as “legally blind,” which is a vague term. Back when the Miami Dolphins were actually a good team, one of their best players was legally blind. His name is Manny Fernandez. I don’t recall exactly how it worked. I assume he was able to correct his vision with glasses, to the point where he was able to play. Anyway, “legally blind” and “blind” are not the same thing. The article doesn’t say how well Vandenkolk sees today.

The article is interesting, because Vandenkolk, a hard core Hinn critic, doesn’t say he wasn’t healed. He says that when he appeared onstage with Hinn, “he felt he could see people’s faces clearly in the crowd.”

That sounds pretty miraculous to me. It must have been a huge change from Vandenkolk’s usual condition, because it meant enough to him to motivate him to call it a healing. At the same time, it looks like the change was temporary.

The article puts the world “healed” in quotation marks: “Man ‘healed’ as child by televangelist Benny Hinn speaks out.” What’s the gist? Is the writer saying Vandenkolk wasn’t healed? Vandenkolk’s testimony suggests that he was. If the healing didn’t last, it’s unfortunate, but let’s be real; in the natural course of events, blind people don’t even have brief moments when their vision works. A fleeting miracle is still a miracle, isn’t it?

Is the writer suggesting Vandenkolk is lying? Is he trying to say Vandenkolk himself isn’t sure whether he was healed? The matter should have been explored and explained clearly.

What is Vandenkolk’s beef with Hinn? The temporary nature of his healing? The story doesn’t say that, but it does say Vandenkolk thinks Hinn ripped him off. Hinn’s ministry allegedly raised a lot of money to help Vandenkolk, and Vandenkolk says he never received it.

It would be hard for the government to go after a faith healer whose miracles didn’t work, but it’s not so hard to nail a charity that steals from the people it purports to help.

I don’t like Benny Hinn. He’s a prosperity preacher, and the prosperity gospel is a lie that makes people poor and prevents them from getting closer to God. He teaches Steve Munsey’s ridiculous, ineffective, Biblically illiterate get-rich methods, which serve primarily to enrich preachers. I think Hinn knows he teaches lies. That being said, it’s not impossible for a person to be healed at a Benny Hinn meeting just because Hinn is a disgraceful grifter.

Vandenkolk could have been healed by his own faith or the faith of someone present, other than Hinn. Who knows? I think a real journalist who did not have an axe to grind would have acknowledged the big story here. It’s not news if someone like Hinn takes someone’s money, but it’s very big news if a blind person receives his sight supernaturally, even if it doesn’t last.

If Hinn’s star falls because of this, fine. He is not a good person, and his ministry is toxic. But it will be a net loss if Christianity itself is disgraced through this scandal. How many people have been separated from God by their anger at crooked preachers? Hundreds of millions, at least. If Hinn implodes, we need other ministries to rise and fill the hole. I hope God will raise up sincere, powerful ministers to take the places of people like Hinn and Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes. When God took Pharaoh off the backs of the Jews, he didn’t leave them wandering around on their own. He gave them Moses.

I have no sympathy at all for Hinn. The sooner his poisonous, fraudulent act is put to rest, the better.

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A Weld of Difference

April 27th, 2017

MIG Skills Improved by TIG Failures

As a master of all conceivable types of TIG welding, I feel it is time to bless the confused and evil-smelling masses with an update on my metal-joining escapades.

A while back I got myself a length of 2″ x 1/8″ flat hot-rolled steel from Home Depot. The price was not that bad, and the metal looked surprisingly good. I needed something to practice on, and the nearest metal dealer is way down the road.

I was confused by the appearance of the steel. I’ve had hot-rolled that looked like it had lumpy black enamel on it, and I’ve had hot-rolled that had a nice matte black scale that looked like the black oxide they put on tools, but this stuff wasn’t black at all, and it was smooth. I wondered if it could possibly be cold-rolled. I’ve never had any reason to buy cold-rolled steel, so I don’t really know what it looks like.

Hot-rolled steel is steel which has been formed while red hot. It’s cheaper than cold-rolled, which is not as hot when formed. I assume hot-rolled is cheaper because it’s easier to form hot steel. Hot-rolled comes with black mill scale on it, and mill scale is harder than steel. Mill scale interferes with welding. MIG will produce useful, if ugly, welds through mill scale. It’s my understanding that stick will burn right through it, although I don’t know. TIG hates scale. The arc will wander around, and I believe the impurities cause porosity. I assume black iron oxide is less conductive than iron, so that must be what causes the arc problem.

The metal I bought did, in fact, have scale on it. I guess it was thin scale, because the metal isn’t black, but I can tell it’s there, because a flap disk bounces off of it. It takes forever to remove it.

Removing the scale has been the single most annoying thing I’ve had to do in my pursuit of TIG excellence.

I got myself a nice flap disk just for scale removal, but as noted above, it didn’t work too good. Then I tried the belt grinder. This is a 3-HP steel-eating machine that can consume a piece of angle iron like a fat kid sucking up a strand of spaghetti. The scale is too much for it. It comes off, but it’s very slow. Grinding disks work, but they gouge the work, and only a small part of a grinding disk contacts the metal, so removing scale is like using a Sharpie to turn a shoebox black.

I cleaned some pieces anyway, and I graduated from laying beads on flat metal to making fillet welds. Here’s the problem with that: when you weld one side of a piece of metal, new scale grows on the other side, so if you prepare two pieces of metal and do a fillet weld on one side, you have to descale them all over again before you do the back.

You can prevent metal from re-scaling by directing inert gas at the back side. That would require more tools and a lot of aggravation, so I’m not going to do it.

My solution is to TIG my clean metal, and then, when new scale appears, move on to MIG. The new scale isn’t bad enough to bother MIG.

If you want to avoid scale removal, buy cold-rolled, weld aluminum instead of steel, or get “pickled and oiled” steel. This is hot-rolled which has been de-scaled with acid and then oiled to keep new rust from forming.

I got a pleasant surprise from all of this. While I was struggling to learn TIG, I got a lot better at MIG. TIG takes a lot more skill, and the skills transfer to MIG. For TIG, you have to develop the ability to see what you’re doing. You have to have a steady torch hand. Same stuff applies to MIG. When I went back to MIG, I found myself producing very decent welds. I could see the puddle much better than I had in the past, and I was better at aiming the torch.

I cut two short pieces of steel, offset them a little, and clamped them together for lap welding. You see the result below. It looks better in person. Anyway, there isn’t much porosity, the welds are pretty uniform, and everything is just about where it’s supposed to be. If I put in another week, I should be able to make welds nice enough to put where people can see them. There are basically two grades of welds: display-worthy and not. Most MIG welders never get to the point where they can make welds that look good enough to be placed on the front of things.

The horrible mess behind the nice weld is a TIG weld I put down later. I cleaned everything very well, except for the underside of the top piece of metal. When it got hot, it started pumping fumes into the weld.

I bought a nice belt grinder, and while I like it a lot, the welds in it are total garbage. They look like a monkey did them. Belt grinders don’t take much stress, so monkey welds are fine, but it’s an example of the low standards most welders adhere to. I’ve seen a lot of photos of welds done by amateurs and even by professionals who aren’t primarily welders, and crap welding is the norm. I would like to do a little better than that.

My MIG welds are now better than my TIG welds. I never thought they would be this good, and I almost wonder if I should have bought the TIG welder. One of the main reasons I bought it was that TIG welds are more precise and better looking.

No! That’s insane. You should always buy whatever tool you think it is that you want. There is no such thing as a tool you don’t need.

I’m still not satisfied with my helmet. I was having a problem where all I could see was a hot weld arc and a sea of blackness. I was literally positioning the torch, flipping the helmet down, and welding where I THOUGHT I needed to be. I improved things by adding a magnifying lens and turning the shade down to the minimum, but things could be better. I’m thinking my issue may be caused by age. I don’t see contrast as well as I used to.

A couple of days ago, I had a weird experience. I’m pretty sure I welded with the helmet turned off. That means I had a shade somewhere below 5. I was protected from UV, because the glass alone will do that, but I don’t think I had any help with the glare. I saw pretty well. It took me a minute or so to realize what was going on. Now I’m wondering if I even need to turn the helmet on.

If my eyes are so bad I can weld with the helmet turned off, how am I able to drive and get around? Search me.

I finally found a really excellent Youtube welding resource. There are tons of welding videos on Youtube, but some are better than others. A welder named Jody runs a site called Welding Tips and Tricks. He fills the Internet with helpful videos that took a lot of work to create. All he asks in return is that you buy his product, the TIG Finger. This is a knitted fiberglass thing that goes over your finger to keep torch heat off of it. Very useful.

I hate to say this, but a competitor of his makes a knockoff “Finger” with a wrist strap to keep it from falling off, and I bought one. I kept dropping the original TIG Finger every time I put the torch down. Oh well. I did buy the original, so I think I’m off the hook. If you know where to get the fiberglass, you can make your own and avoid getting caught between bitter competitors.

I’ve put in all this work, and now I wonder if I should have started with stick welding. A stick welder will weld crappy metal outdoors in the wind (not suitable for MIG and TIG), and stick welders aren’t expensive. Bonus: no gas required. For some reason, people look down on stick, but I’ve seen the welds, and they look very nice. My TIG has a stick clamp, so I can learn stick whenever I choose.

One of these days I’ll do a TIG weld correctly, and you will see pictures here. I’m still working on my beer opener. I turned the end of a big Craftsman wrench into an opener, and I’m going to put it on a stainless back plate and mount it on a wall. Once that’s done, I’ll order an Swag Offroad finger brake kit for my hydraulic press (don’t ask) and weld it together so I can have one more tool I don’t use.

If you want to feel like a man and not a hopeless metrosexual snowflake, get yourself a MIG or stick welder and get started. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t need to weld anything. That’s not the point. If you can’t weld, there is something wrong with you. You need to fix it.

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Tools of Removal

April 25th, 2017

BYE

Thanks for the prayers and kind thoughts regarding the move out of Miami. I really need those prayers.

Today I’m trying to figure out where to put my tools. If the deal goes through, I’ll have a 900-sq. ft. garage and a frame outbuilding the same size. I’m thinking I should put my metalworking tools in the garage and most of my woodworking tools in the outbuilding. Woodworking makes a real mess.

The new garage is 33 feet across the front and 25 feet deep. I have to decide where to put things. I feel like I only have to worry about the big compressor, the mill, and the lathe. Everything else is on wheels or light enough to move.

I’m thinking the lathe should be positioned so the tailstock faces a garage door. if I ever have to turn a long part, I’ll be able to open the door for clearance. Right now, my mill is in a corner (the classic Bridgeport location), and I’m tired of it. The space behind the mill is inaccessible and useless. I think I should put the mill along the same wall as the lathe. That will allow me to use the space behind the table for carts and so on. I could put a cart back there and put my heaviest rotary table on it.

I’m not sure about the compressor. I suppose the location should be sort of central, but I don’t want it out in the floor. I guess I could put it along the back wall in the middle.

The garage will have to have A/C. I can’t sit out there in 90-degree heat. I guess that means a split unit, and that won’t be cheap. A wall unit would probably be too small. I’ll also need upgraded power. I can’t run a 7.5-HP lathe on 15 amps at 120 volts. I’m wondering what a 3-phase run would cost. A lot, I suppose.

When all this is said and done, my big table saw, which I love, will be 100 feet away from my machine tools. So will the big vertical band saw. That’s inconvenient, but I don’t want to ruin a big new garage by cramming woodworking tools into it.

The house has a barn. I think that would be a good place for the tractor. It would really open up the outbuilding. I will never have a horse (I hope) so it’s not like the barn will be unavailable.

I don’t even know if the seller will talk to us after getting lowballed. You have to have a backbone when you buy expensive stuff, though. You can’t just give someone a hundred grand to make them like you.

The realtor asked about earnest money. That sounded odd, in the context of a cash sale. The purpose of earnest money (a deposit) is to put a buyer’s head in a vise so he will have motivation to get a loan. If you don’t get it done, the seller keeps your money. If you’re planning to pay cash, it should be enough that the seller knows you have the loot. When the deal closes, it’s a simple sale contract. As soon as the inspections are done, you write a check. You’re already obligated, if you screw up, the seller can sue you, and he knows you’re not judgment-proof, so what’s the purpose of a deposit? An executed contract should be enough.

If this deal doesn’t work, the next one will. I will escape Miami’s gravity well. The joy of leaving this place for the last time may be too much for my system to cope with.

Everybody hates Miami. I mean, nearly everybody. If you speak no English at all, and/or you’re extremely rude and coarse, and you love taking 15 minutes to drive three miles, it’s the place for you. Otherwise, no.

I will post updates as things change.

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House

April 24th, 2017

Time to Chop Miami’s Stubborn Tentacles

The house hunt has moved into a new stage. I made an offer on the green house I wrote about a while back.

I am not what you would call a savvy real estate buyer, even though I was a realtor in a past life. I did mostly rentals. While I was part of some sales, real estate is boring, and I forgot a lot of what I had learned. I did the best I could this time around. I picked my dad’s brains. He has bought a ton of real estate. In fact, he’s buying the new house. That was the deal we made. I would not leave Miami until he did, and he would buy a nice place where we would both live. He needs looking after these days, my mother has been dead for 20 years, and there is no one else who will do it.

I considered hiring a single-agent realtor. Ordinarily, realtors look out mainly for themselves. They deal “fairly” with buyers and sellers, but if you’re a buyer, they’re not on your side. There are things they won’t tell you, and they don’t care if you lose your life savings. A single-agent represents you alone and has a fiduciary duty to you.

The problem with hiring a single-agent realtor is that they get a big fee up front, and they can’t show you any of their own listings. That’s not good, if your agent works for a big company. Also, you’re kind of stuck with the agent you hire. I decided to forget about it and negotiate and so on for myself.

I don’t know a whole lot about northern Florida house prices, but after looking at a bunch of places, I got a feel for the situation. The house we liked seemed overpriced by around 15%. The sellers paid even more for it, so they got burned, and they were still burning me after pricing the house to take a loss.

I decided to get an appraisal. I may not be much of a buyer, but I’ve been involved in a lot of sales, and an appraisal just seemed like common sense. I had a listing agent, a transactional agent, and a seller, all trying to get as much money as possible, and none of them represented me. I paid some guy to appraise the place, and lo and behold, the price came in slightly lower than my own guess. The listing price is 18% higher.

The agent was amazed that I had it appraised. He said very few people do that. Seriously? Do people really make bids on houses without getting appraisals? I can’t comprehend that. How do you know what to offer? Asking prices are fantasy figures. Realtors make a little effort to look at comparable sales, but in the end, they guess. Appraisers aren’t like that. They take measurements and use tables and so on, and THEN they factor in other sales. No price is carved in stone, but an appraisal means a whole lot more than an asking price.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems crazy to make an offer on something without knowing the value. The appraisal was expensive, but compared to the difference between the asking price and the appraised price, it’s microscopic. Seems like a good investment.

The agent was trying to tell me I couldn’t get burned. He said his contracts always say the deal is off if the house doesn’t appraise for more than the purchase price. So you’re supposed to make an offer based on nothing and then pray the bank’s appraiser proves you’re right? With real money you actually worked for?

I think the sellers are old. The house has two lift chairs in it. By that, I mean they boost you to your feet when it’s time to go watch Judge Wapner. God rest his soul. Young people don’t have lift chairs. Maybe they’re old and rich and don’t care at all about money. There must be some reason why they spent way too much on the house and equipment and then never felt like they had to visit.

I don’t know what the story is. I’m not all that optimistic about getting the house. The asking price and offer are nearly $200,000 apart. They may just tell us to jam it.

It would be nice to make a deal. The house has a fantastic attached garage plus a detached garage big enough for all sorts of stuff. I can put a split air conditioner in the main garage and stick my machine tools in there. I’ll never leave. It’s almost a thousand square feet. The lot is big enough to feel relaxed on, although sooner or later someone will try to build on the pasture next door. Maybe we should try to pick it up.

I can’t imagine life with no traffic. What’s it like? I barely recall.

I don’t think I’ll be able to shoot out back. The lot is pretty flat. Maybe if I put up a berm.

I feel good that I made a move. It makes me nervous, handling my dad’s money. He’s all for it, though, and both of us hate Miami. I needed to break the ice and start something moving. Now if this deal doesn’t work, I’ll be less stiff about starting the next one.

What will I miss about Miami? There must be something. Fishing was fun, but I’m over it. Boating to the Bahamas was a neat experience, but I’m old, my dad can’t be allowed to steer the boat, and there is no one to go with us. Also, the Bahamas are all about drunkenness and fish. I don’t care if I never see another fish again, and I have developed an aversion to bars.

Miami has no culture at all. The restaurants aren’t great. The air smells like damp socks. There is no twilight, because of the latitude. After May 1, it never gets cool at night. The traffic is getting so bad, in a year, everything may have to arrive by drone. All the ethnic groups hate each other. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive. Politics are getting more and more liberal; young Cubans want to be social justice warriors and teach their conservative parents a lesson.

Horrible things happened to my family in Miami. I can’t even drive up I-95 without thinking about the past. I remember my dysfunctional childhood and the decades of misery we went through with my sister. I remember my mother dying in Baptist Hospital, after a short, bleak life in which not one of her dreams came true. She was treated very badly. She was never appreciated. God did her a favor when he took her away from us.

I never have anything to do with the people I went to high school with. They remind me of a terrible time in my life, and I was never close to any of them anyway. I thought I had a few friends, but I didn’t know what real friends were like until I got older. If I were in a mall right now and I saw someone I went to high school with, I’d turn away and wait for them to move on.

I should be able to think of something I’ll miss if I work on it long enough, but right now, it’s not coming. Even the churches here treated me badly.

Let’s be honest. I won’t miss Miami at all. That’s my nature. When I cut the cord, it’s really cut. Ask any of the many people I’ve abruptly ejected from my circle. I expect to be glad I’m not in Miami, every day for the rest of my life.

People in Marion County will not turn out to be the answer to my prayers. I know that, or at least I think I know that. But they’ll speak English, they’ll be polite, and they’ll have a lot more in common with me in terms of religion and politics. That’s good enough. I don’t think I’ll ever feel at home on earth, but some places are better than others.

Because this will be a cash deal, I could conceivably find myself moving stuff north before summer starts. I didn’t think about that until today. Generally, closings take a long time because of mortgage delays. Man. This is starting to feel real. Ack. God will get me through it.

Prayers would be appreciated.

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Hi; I’m Ann Coulter

April 23rd, 2017

And I’m “Peaked in 2000” Ann Coulter

I made a big mistake yesterday. I watched some clips of a Comedy Central roast. Depraved, vicious, unimaginative humor at its best. Not a positive contribution to my life.

You will want to know who they roasted. Answer: Ann Coulter. The problem is this: they claimed they were roasting Rob Lowe.

Rob got quite a few zingers; no doubt about that. But if you look the roast up and see how people reacted to it, you will find that most of the venom was heaped on Ann Coulter. Lowe faded into the background, as if his presence were an afterthought.

If you look at Youtube and check out pirated clips of the roast, you will see an endless array of watchlists and videos with titles like, “ANN COULTER DESTROYED AT ROB LOWE ROAST!!!!!!!!!!!” People who hate Coulter have carpet-bombed Youtube with their videos. It’s almost as if an old Nazi collaborator from Hungary were paying them to do it. It’s relatively difficult to find clips focusing on the other attendees. The Youtube hive, with its editing, did its best to make Coulter’s weak performance seem like a Hindenburgian disaster. That’s something of an exaggeration.

I didn’t see the whole thing, because, why would I? To call it mean-spirited would be like calling Rosie O’Donnell a tomboy. All Comedy Central roasts are mean-spirited, and they’re also extremely tasteless. If you want to watch third-tier comedians you dimly remember call each other things like “whore” and, well, other things I don’t want to repeat here, Comedy Central roasts are right up your alley. If you’re looking for clever, relatively gentle ribbing, forget it.

There used to be something called The Friars’ Club, and they put on roasts. Dean Martin was the host, I think. They roasted people like Sinatra and Milton Berle. The roasts were funny and clean. The meanest person who appeared was Don Rickles, and if you think Don Rickles was mean, you completely missed the point of his act. What Comedy Central does now is much different. It’s as if a bunch of mentally ill teenagers broke into the Friars’ Club studio while Dean was away. On top of the crudeness and hostility, the performers tend to be people who have a hard time finding work. David Spade, Lisa Lampanelli (who?), Jeff Ross (who?), and other D-listers show up, probably to get money to pay for groceries.

The shots at Ann Coulter were really something. Some were well within the expansive bounds of Comedy Central roast standards. Others were so vicious, they were too disturbing to be funny.

The thing the performers, writers, and professional audience failed to understand is this: roasts are only funny when you pick on people you don’t actually hate. When Norm MacDonald picks on David Spade, it’s fine, because they get along in real life. When people who truly want to see Ann Coulter die insult her, it’s an off-putting glimpse of real hatred, which is not funny.

It’s strange; it sounds like I’m endorsing their usual standard of abuse. I’m not. They have no concept of boundaries. I’m just saying that whatever limits they generally recognize were violated egregiously when Ann Coulter showed up.

Here’s the meanest thing they did to her: when she took her turn at the end of the roast, a lot of the people in the room refused to laugh. Some just stared at her. It was obvious that they decided, in advance, to see to it that she bombed. That’s a very cruel thing to do to an entertainer.

Here’s an interesting thing about comedy: it only works when the audience consents. If the audience isn’t with you, you WILL bomb. It doesn’t matter how funny you are. This is true of all performing acts, but it’s particularly true of comedy.

I remember seeing Steve Martin perform when I was in high school. His opening act was John Sebastian, the singer who wrote “Welcome Back” and “Coconut Grove,” among other circa-1970 hits. Nobody wanted to see him sing. It was a mistake to book him. He had a tape machine with him instead of a band. He went through his whole set while people screamed at him, booed, and gave him the finger. No encore. He looked like he wanted to grant the audience’s wish and disappear. When the tape ended, he was dying to get off the stage. Steve Martin came out, did his set in a hurry, and left as soon as he could without violating his contract. He seemed furious.

That’s what the Coulter roast was like.

Coulter is a tough bird, but she was clearly knocked off balance by the toxic deluge of abuse. Even Jewel, whose stage persona is an inoffensive, girlish waif who sings about love and daisies and so on, said this: “I do want to say as a feminist that I can’t support everything that’s been said tonight, but as someone who hates Ann Coulter, I’m delighted.” This was after an SNL cast member named Pete Davidson called Coulter the c-word.

Coulter’s delivery was slow, and it sounded as if she had been drinking. Her jokes were not great, but they seemed much worse than they were, because so many people in the studio had decided to punish her with silence.

Coulter’s performance was marred by her choice of material. Years ago, her buddies got together and wrote a Fox News comedy show called “The Half-Hour News Hour.” It featured people like Manny Coto (who?) and Mike Rowe (no threat to Dave Chappelle). The show was really bad. After the roast, she said she and her friends had written her jokes. Naturally, I thought of the Fox show. I strongly suspect the same crew was the engine behind her Comedy Central bus plunge. “We’re going to roast Major Strasser. Round up the usual suspects.”

Conservatives hate new talent. They’re all about promoting people who already have a piece of the pie. They support hacks. The Fox show was a great example of what happens when a movement eats its young. Coulter gets exposure, P.J. O’Rourke gets exposure, Tucker Carlson (unbelievably) gets the Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly shows, Mike Rowe gets called in to write things, but talented people who haven’t made it yet are ignored.

Remember Allahpundit? Excellent writer, right? Where is he now? Writing for Hot Air. A contrived corporate blog. We will never see him on TV. He will never be asked to write for a major TV show or a conservative movie comedy. Jeff Goldstein never made it. Moxie never made it. What’s-his-name at IMAO never made it. Nobody gets called up from the minors except for untalented tokens who prove how diverse we are.

Of course, Coulter bombed. The whole room hated her, and she was playing in an NFL game backed up by a squad of midgets. Okay, not NFL. More like a college team on whatever level is below MIT.

I sound like I support Ann Coulter. I don’t. I got over that years ago, when I saw how nutty she really was. I’m just marveling at the cruelty of the left and the foolishness of Team Coulter and the conservatives who decide who makes it and who doesn’t.

For all her faults and errors, which are substantial, Ann Coulter is brilliant. She’s the one who labeled illegal aliens “undocumented Democrats.” She has an extremely rare ability to think on her feet and cut opponents to the quick. On Comedy Central, she looked like an amateur who was out of her element. Nice job, leftists and GOP-approved Coulter stooges.

I don’t actually care about what happens on pity-inducing TV roasts staffed by performers we feel sorry for. What really interests me about the story is the Christian angle. While Coulter is the farthest thing from a preacher, and while she is not a good role model for any Christian, she belongs to the faith, and she sometimes promotes our beliefs. People on the left hate her for that. They can’t tell a saint from Judas Iscariot. We’re all evil in their minds, and all cruelty toward us is considered justified. This, not her harsh humor, is the main reason she was treated so badly.

I sincerely believe there were people on the dais who would publicly celebrate if Ann Coulter were burned alive in a house fire. I think some of them would happily beat her to death with their own fists. Their hostility is representative of the general mood of leftists. Right now, lynchings are illegal, so leftists content themselves with beating Republicans at political rallies. In the future, they will have more “flexibility,” as Obama once put it. When those days come, we will see people act out, with their bodies, the hostility the roast performers heaped on Coulter with their tongues.

In 1900, no one would have thought the civilized, orderly Germans and Austrians capable of shooting babies or pushing Jews into gas chambers. At that time, they were not allowed to do things like that. As the government became more supportive of violence and hatred, people showed what they were really capable of doing. We’re going to see that level of brutality here, before long. We’re already seeing it at Trump rallies. Think how bad it will be when the gun-grabbers disarm the prey. The violence will come to our doorsteps, even in places like Florida and Texas.

What a strange time to be alive.

Many times, I’ve thought to myself that Jews in prewar Europe should have known what was coming. I’ve wondered why they didn’t leave while they could. Now I look around at American Christians, and I ask similar questions. Don’t we know what’s on the way? Why aren’t we leaving big cities and blue states? When the real violence starts, the TV segments and Youtube videos won’t come from West Virginia and Wyoming. They’ll come from places like L.A, D.C., and New York City. Conservatives in those places are already afraid to go out in public with conservative gear on, and they’re afraid to expose their beliefs at work. If things are already that bad, why stick around?

Jews are going to get the worst of it. Christians can move to the country, but Jews are city people. Orthodox Jews are literally incapable of surviving on their own. They have to have synagogues, yeshivas, kosher butchers, and so on. They’re not allowed to hunt. Look where they concentrate. Chicago, New York, L.A., Boston, and South Florida. Liberal areas with big, angry ghettos. Not a promising picture. At least the Jews in Florida can carry guns.

When the mobs come for Jews, most Jews will be surprised. “We voted for government programs! We voted for ‘immigrants’! We rode with the Freedom Riders! We fought poll taxes and literacy tests!” It won’t matter. Persecution isn’t based on your behavior. It’s based on God’s love for you. Anything God loves is hateful to Satan’s children.

It’s sort of like the Army’s hatred of Clevinger in Catch-22:

Yossarian had done his best to warn him the night before. “You haven’t got a chance, kid,” he told him glumly. “They hate Jews.” “But I’m not Jewish,” answered Clevinger. “It will make no difference,” Yossarian promised, and Yossarian was right.

I don’t care what happens to Ann Coulter’s career. She is not helpful. But I do care what cruelty to Ann Coulter presages.

Oh, well. I’m on my way out of this place. I’m going to move to an area where you have to have Amazon Prime to get a bagel. If riots go mobile and start visiting red areas, I won’t have to use my guns to protect myself. My neighbors will beat me to it. I should be safe much longer than anyone in South Florida.

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Overdue Bill

April 19th, 2017

Killing O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly is out! How about that?

What a tragedy. I use “tragedy” in the classic sense, sort of, meaning a story of a person’s self-inflicted, predictable downfall. O’Reilly is the author of his own mess.

O’Reilly has been hit with numerous harassment complaints over the years, and he and/or Fox shelled out millions to shut them down. He admits no wrongdoing and claims the payoffs were motivated by a desire to protect his kids from scandal. There are two problems with that claim. First, as Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton demonstrate, a large number of accusations of bad behavior toward women, from credible accusers, is, in and of itself, strong evidence of guilt. Second, one plaintiff included transcriptions of recordings of his obscene phone calls in her complaint. Unless she and her lawyer were eager to face perjury charges, sanctions, bills from O’Reilly’s lawyers, and disbarment, those recordings exist, proving his guilt.

If O’Reilly isn’t guilty, it’s the best frame job in the history of frames. The logical conclusion is that he is an unrepentant serial abuser, upon whom punishment and disgrace make no impression at all.

What a victory for feminists, right? Wrong, of course. Feminism had nothing to do with this. If mistreatment of women in the workplace meant anything to feminists, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George Stephanopoulos, Dick Morris, and a whole lot of other Democrats and Democrat employees would have been taken down years ago. This crusade wasn’t about feminism. It was about silencing a conservative. It was 100% hypocritical.

Is it sad that the crusade worked? It’s sad that anyone would work so hard to prevent another person from exercising his right to free speech, but it’s not sad that O’Reilly got the boot. It’s not right to subject someone to constant verbal violation on the job. Harassment is bullying. It’s a big deal. No one in his right mind would want his sister or daughter to work with a powerful man who called her on the phone and told her about things he wanted to do to her in the shower, as O’Reilly apparently did. No one would want his sister or daughter to think her livelihood depended on sucking up and taking it.

I know, without checking, that many conservatives are up in arms today about this giant loss. I disagree. Conservatism doesn’t depend on one man’s television show, and a conservative who makes a mockery of Christian beliefs while carrying the standard of old-fashioned morality makes liars out of us.

For a long time, I’ve written about the conservative media zero-sum mentality. A few people have made it as conservative pundits and writers. Instead of bringing up new talent (apart from blacks, gays, and pretty girls who make us look inclusive), we protect the queen bees at the top and keep new talent down. The kingmakers who work behind the scenes aren’t interested in princes; they behead them in private. They direct too much of their energy to propping up relics who totter and wheeze on their thrones. It’s not about the cause; it’s about greedily hanging onto little bits of turf. Conservatives think there can only be so many right-wing successes, so they shoot down newcomers.

The O’Reilly mess is a great example of the zero-sum mindset in action. Many, many people can do what O’Reilly does, as well or better. He didn’t make the time spot. The time spot made him. Look at Tucker Carlson. For all his mediocrity, he is ruling in Megyn Kelly’s old spot. I thought he would flounder, but conservative viewers have nowhere else to go at 9 p.m. Put a reasonably competent conservative on at 8, and butts will still fill seats.

O’Reilly is a very good entertainer, but anyone who knows what Youtube is can turn on a PC and find ten individuals, working out of basements, who could do his job just fine. He’s not a great thinker. He’s not a great debater. He’s just a guy with a B+ wit and a talent for pleasing a crowd.

They say Eric Bolling might get Bill’s job. That will work fine. Gutfeld is smarter and funnier, but he’s annoying and immature, so I don’t see it happening. He would probably be a smash hit, though, because he’s a better troll than O’Reilly, and the 8 p.m. slot has been a troll slot for 21 years. Give him a sharp producer and a few strong lectures about manhood and gravitas, and he could be transformed into a prime time powerhouse.

I strongly suspect O’Reilly’s production team deserves more credit than he does. If that’s true, they can put just about anyone in that chair and make it work.

I wonder what happened to Andy Levy. He could do it. He would certainly get more respect than Gutfeld. Jon Scott could replace O’Reilly. Laura Ingraham wouldn’t be too bad, but she can be annoying.

How about Jeanine Pirro? Sometimes she seems a little off the wall, but then so does Bill. She’s confrontational without being off-putting. She’s smart, by journalist standards; she was a federal judge. She would be harder for liberals to pick on, because she’s a woman. Maybe she’s the best choice. I can really see that working.

Losing Bill O’Reilly is a positive. The only way this can hurt Fox is if they turn left. They should not put Shepard Smith in there. They should not kiss up to the left with a hire that will make conservatives retch.

I used to be a big O’Reilly fan, but some people do not grow on you. I don’t know if he got worse with age or if I just became more sensitive to his faults. He talked over people. He was a blowhard. He got way too emotional. He could not admit error. I think I stopped watching him regularly in around 2000. Watching him was a little like riding a motorcycle into a hailstorm without a helmet.

There is a religious angle to all of this. I used to wonder what Jesus meant when he said, “Agree with your enemy quickly, when he is in the way with you, or he may hand you over to the judge.” A preacher named Andrew Wommack gave me a good answer. He said it meant to admit fault when accused, instead of letting the matter fester until it comes up before God. We know the enemy can approach the throne with our sins and ask for the right to harm us. If we repent, we can avoid that. It certainly looks like O’Reilly handed himself over to his enemies by falsely maintaining his innocence. You don’t have to make gross remarks to your coworkers, and you definitely don’t have to continue doing it after being caught and sued numerous times.

Here is what Psalm 32 says:

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away
because of my groaning all day long;

day and night your hand was heavy on me;
the sap in me dried up as in a summer drought. (Selah)

When I acknowledged my sin to you,
when I stopped concealing my guilt,
and said, “I will confess my offenses to Adonai”;
then you, you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Selah)

This is what everyone faithful should pray
at a time when you can be found.
Then, when the floodwaters are raging,
they will not reach to him.

Waters are voices that rise against you. If you are honest with God, he will rebuke them and keep you safe. If not, sooner or later, you will start to sink.

This idea is on my mind all the time. God keeps showing me my disgusting problems. I work to confess them to him, and I ask him for his help with that. I used to think I was a pretty good guy, but I was deluded. I am not good at all. I am lucky so many things have been kept out of the light. I keep asking for patience and correction.

It’s like God gave me a relativey clean barn when I was born, and I spend decades shoveling manure into it. Now there’s a whole lot of hardened manure, and I can’t move it out without help.

I hope Fox makes a good choice, but I’m not going to get agitated, because the welfare of this country depends on our relationship with God, not the secular blather of TV commentators.

Once again, I’m glad I’m out of the conservative blogging mosh pit. If I were still getting 3000 visits per day, I would be buried in critical comments today. I don’t miss that nonsense at all.

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Kim Impossible

April 18th, 2017

All is Not Well on Gilligan’s Island

Vince Gilligan has blessed us once again. The second episode of the third season of Better Call Saul has aired. I have thoughts concerning this momentous event.

Jimmy McGill (Saul) has a girlfriend named Kim. She is supposed to be a straight arrow. She’s an associate with his former firm, Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill. His brother, Chuck, is the most-senior senior partner. Chuck took Kim’s only client, and Jimmy got the client back for her by falsifying documents Chuck was using in his representation. Chuck got Jimmy to admit what he did, and he recorded the confession without telling Jimmy.

Now Jimmy knows about the tape. A grunt at HHM found out about the tape, and he told Kim. Kim then went to Jimmy, demanded $20 cash from him in order to be able to represent herself as his criminal defense attorney, and told him about the tape. She wanted to tell him about the tape, but she was concerned that her remarks would not be confidential. As his attorney, she figured, she would be able to speak under cover of attorney-client privilege. Does that work when you know about the crime before you become the defendant’s attorney? I do not know. It smells off.

The HHM boys can’t play the tape for the client, because that would make them look like vengeful idiots, and it would offend the client. Going to the cops would not be a slam-dunk (in BCS logic, anyway), so there is no point in trying. Chuck has a plan for the tape, and it involves further action. In Episode 3, he showed what the plan is.

Kim had a lot of Jimmy-related problems before the tape kerfuffle arose. She has committed two crimes with Jimmy. On one occasion, she helped him con a very sharp, successful securities trader into buying them hundreds of dollars’ worth of drinks. Second, she got Jimmy to help her con an amorous engineer into giving her a $10,000 check to invest in a non-existent enterprise. She didn’t profit from these crimes, apart from the free booze. She didn’t cash the check. Still, they were serious crimes.

Here’s another thing: squat cobbler. Jimmy had a drug-dealer client. The client was robbed of some drugs plus a baseball card collection. Stupidly, the client called the cops, thinking he could get the baseball cards back without having any issues related to the drugs. He didn’t mention the drugs. The cops found a suspicious cavity in his house, suitable for hiding illegal items. The cops kept calling the client, claiming they were real excited about the cards, but they really wanted to get info on his suspicious hiding place.

In real life, the answer to this problem would be to tell the police this: “If you find the cards, let me know, but I don’t want to be bothered until then.” Better yet: “I don’t care about the cards. Let it go.” The cops can’t make you come to the police station over and over just because they feel like it. Jimmy’s answer, however, was to claim his client hid embarrassing fetish videos in the hole, and that they featured vignettes of him sitting on pies and crying. Jimmy made up the name “squat cobbler” to describe the fetish. He told Kim about it, so now she probably has a legal obligation to tell the bar association. But she has not done so.

Kim has bar trouble waiting to bite her on the butt, along with two solid criminal cases which would bring bar troubles of their own.

What is Vince Gilligan going to do with this? More importantly, will he bring the Skipper into it?

Here’s what I’m thinking. During the Heisenberg years, Kim Wexler is dead or in prison. We never saw her in Breaking Bad, which took place after the Saul prequel. That means something happened to her. Gilligan has put several nice traps in front of her, and they are waiting to spring open and swallow her.

Jimmy is a tragic figure. He screws up and screws up and screws up. He knows he’s ruining his future, but he can’t stop. It’s his nature. Tragic figures are more interesting if their screwups hurt the people they love. I think Vince Gilligan will pull that string eventually.

We’re supposed to think Kim is pure and responsible, but she is neither. She committed two ridiculous, brazen crimes, in a sparsely populated state, against two victims who were highly likely to run into her later in the course of business. She concealed a crime (Jimmy’s) that would send a goody-two-shoes like Chuck running to the bar with bells on. She also recommended Jimmy, a con artist, for a job with another firm. This is not how pure, responsible people act. Maybe Gilligan is planning to shatter the audience’s rosy estimation of Kim.

Scenario: the securities trader walks into HHM one day looking for representation. The partners haul Kim out and sing her praises to him. “This is the gleaming angel that will handle your case.” We already know the securities trader is a shrewd and somewhat nasty character. Would he nark on Kim immediately and go to another firm? Of course not. He’d smile and shake her hand and act like he had never seen her before. Then in private, they’d talk. He’d be able to make her do anything he wants. Sex. More crimes. Squat cobbler. Who knows?

Scenario: the amorous, rejected engineer comes to HHM for help. Kim is assigned. Because he’s not sharp or nasty, he flips out instantly and starts ranting about her crime in the lobby. Kim’s life is thrown into turmoil. She loses her job. Prosecution is a real possibility. Chuck may squeal on her; it’s what he loves.

Maybe the engineer will turn out to be nasty after all. That would be more interesting than a nasty guy we already dislike.

She has bills to pay. Maybe she’ll have to start working for Jimmy. Maybe Jimmy will call Mike Ehrmantraut to come up with a way to squeeze the engineer. Blackmail is a possibility. Maybe the engineer has a trove of squat cobbler videos. Mike goes to the engineer’s house to “reason” with him. The engineer tries to shoot him. Mike shoots first. Kim is overwhelmed with guilt, so she kills herself.

Kim is going down. That, I am sure of. Maybe there will be some kind of standoff, and Kim, wanting to restore sanity, will get in the way and take a bullet.

I’m not sure why I watch this show! It’s kind of depressing, knowing it has a miserable ending. Jimmy is going to end up managing a Cinnabons stand in a mall in some flat state full of wheat. Walter White will die. Jim’s romance with Kim will end in failure. Mike will be shot in the belly by a high school teacher. Badger will never get his GED. Q will get distracted and let two planes crash into each other.

In any case, it’s fun to guess. My sincere apologies to anyone who doesn’t watch the show.

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Tolerant Leftists Keep Beating Hate-Filled, Unarmed Trump Supporters

April 16th, 2017

Christian Apathy and Self-Righteousness Feed Persecution

Fascinating news on the persecution front: a reporter from Mother Jones has criticized the police for failing to prevent liberal goons from beating Trump supporters in Berkeley.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. You can look at the story for yourself.

Before I go on, you should know that Mother Jones is a disgraceful far-left rag. It’s named for a woman who helped found the IWW, a socialist labor organization. It’s not Infowars, Zerohedge, The Blaze, Hot Air, or WND. Mother Jones is not an organization that favors the right or even treats us fairly.

For some reason I can’t fathom, Trumpers decided to have a rally in Berkeley. This is a little bit like the Anti-Defamation League protesting in front of the Fuhrerbunker. When a conservative demonstrates in Berkeley, knowing he will not be allowed to bring arms, he is almost demanding a beating. I’m not saying it’s okay to beat conservatives; just that they knew or should have known what was coming.

The rally was set for noon, and like most modern conservative functions, it was attended primarily by violent leftists. They arrived hours early and waited for the victims to show up. The rally started, the beatings began, and the police sat by and watched. Their participation was very limited.

The reporter’s name is Shane Braun. He shot a video of two cops sitting around watching the riot. Here’s a partial transcript:

“I’ve been watching all day people get beat up pretty bad and I haven’t seen you guys around much,” Bauer said.

“Okay, and?” the officer responded.

You can see the whole story at The American Mirror.

One Trumpite was surrounded by a mob and beaten with fists, feet, and a skateboard.

So what’s my take on this? Anger? Outrage? A call for conservatives to beat up liberals? Not really. I’m here mainly to criticize conservatives.

First of all, most of the red hat wearers seem to be unaware that we brought this problem on ourselves. Christian or not, conservatives are beaten because the left hates God. In the leftist mind, we are associated with Jesus, and Jesus is against abortion, drugs, uncleanness, insolence, pride, free contraception, and the division of Israel. Even if you’re a conservative atheist, if you get a beating from a leftist mob, it’s rooted in persecution of Christians. Strong Christians get a lot of protection from God. Weak ones raise up and feed their own enemies. Our rebellion and pride caused the goon organizations to form and strengthen, and we also gave power to the spirits that encourage mayors and cops to get in on the persecution.

Second, we are losing battles God never asked us to fight in the first place. Remember the Bible? When God sent his servants into battle, and they were in a state of obedience, they won. When they got into squabbles on their own, or they went into battle spiritually naked, they lost. Does anyone seriously think God told the demonstrators to go to Berkeley? Of course he didn’t. This wasn’t his operation, so he had no obligation to provide air support. Like a good friend of mine likes to say, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Third, where is our spiritual warfare? We’re having ridiculous rallies all the time, but where are the huge prayer meetings and mass repentances? When things don’t go our way, we’re supposed to come before God with contrite spirits and ask him to correct us so his blessings can flow. I’m sure some people are doing that, but I haven’t seen it on the news. If there was a movement of repentance and prayer, we would know about it, just like we know about the pointless rallies.

We never stop blaming the godless for what’s happening in America, but aren’t we supposed to be the ones who have the most power? We haven’t used it. Instead, we’ve attached ourselves to the mob. We participate in their sins. We admire them. We fawn on their nastiest celebrities. We listen to their corrupt music. We elect abortion lovers. If we had been praying and repenting daily, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

We’ve let ourselves down, and we’ve also let the godless down. Many of them can be saved, but we’re too busy acting just like them to pray for them and provide an example.

If you think I’m wrong, and that numbers and might are all that matter, consider a few things. In Genesis, eight people defeated the entire human race and came through its destruction unscathed. After that, Lot and his daughters walked out of Sodom unharmed. Gideon and 300 men wiped out the Midianite army. Samson killed a thousand men by himself. David, who was too small to wear a man’s armor, killed Goliath with a sling. Jesus walked unharmed through a crowd of people who wanted to throw him off a cliff. The Jews couldn’t touch him until he gave himself to them.

If it seems shocking that the police would allow masked criminals to beat peaceful demonstrators, wake up. Who is the God of this world? It’s not Yahweh. He’s an absentee owner. Satan rules this planet, with limited interference from God. Things are going to get worse, not better, and the answer is not to study rioting and become as proficient as those who hate us.

We’re supposed to do well because of grace, not hard work or the power of our own puny arms. We don’t get grace, because we teach each other that God helps those who helps themselves (the opposite of Biblical teaching). Every time one of us gets a stick across the face, it’s because we told God, “We got this,” and God folded his hands and said, “Fine with me.”

I get way too upset with the left. That’s silly. They’re not in the camp. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Satan’s children are supposed to be willfully stupid, violent, and deluded. They’re not going to change because we fight them or criticize them. Generally, they’re going to hell, and God is not overly concerned about their behavior. Our concern should be with our own hearts and minds. We should be thinking about our own shortcomings and repenting.

Don’t ask me to go to a rally. Even here in Florida, where I would be allowed to take guns, I wouldn’t go unless I felt God wanted me there. I don’t want to be identified with the people who think screaming and fighting are the way to win.

I have to say that it would be a different picture if leftist criminals attacked a conservative demonstration in a state with sane gun laws. In California, we see what happens when only criminals have guns. Has leftists ever managed to beat Trump supporters at rallies in Texas or Florida? I wonder. Criminals go where they know they’re welcome.

Living in areas where Satan’s children have complete dominance is a bad idea. My best guess is that God wants most of us out of such places, just as he wanted Lot out of Sodom. We’re not going to win the Bay Area or Key West over. We’re never going to get anywhere in Baltimore or Chicago. If you stay too long, you’re just putting God to the test, expecting him to save you from your own bullheadedness.

Most Christians who live in godless areas aren’t there because they want to convert people. They almost always have carnal reasons. The climate. The schools. The culture. No one moves to Miami Beach to get closer to God.

I was so stupid to come back to Miami, where maybe 40% of the population actively worships demons. But I suppose God put me here because it’s where I belonged at the time. I was rebellious, so I belonged with the rebellious.

Persecution will increase, and people who insist on subjecting themselves to it unnecessarily will continue riding in ambulances. I want no part of the battle for the sidewalk.

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Better Call Bass Pro

April 13th, 2017

Mike Ehrmantraut is a Spendthrift

I’m highly distraught today, with ample reason. I’ve been watching Better Call Saul, and the writers completely screwed up the scenes in which Mike Ehrmantraut tries to kill Hector Salamanca with a scoped rifle.

Sorry if you’ve been asleep for two years and consider anything in the above paragraph to be a spoiler.

Mike went to some kind of outlaw gun dealer, and the dealer sold him a “7.62” bolt-action rifle with a scope. He sold it to him out of the back of a car, in the desert. They acted like they were handling canisters of sarin gas; as if there would be big trouble if anyone found out the deal was going down.

I have all sorts of problems with this.

First of all, what is a “7.62” sniper rifle? The Russians have a 30.06 equivalent called the 7.62mm x 54R, and you could certainly use it in a sniper rifle, but I’ve never heard of anything like that. Nothing modern, in a bolt action.

The Soviets used to use 7.62mm x 54R in their battle rifles, and they had sniper versions. That was like a billion years ago. Later on, they had a semiauto called the SVD or Dragunov. Other countries produced an AK74 version called the Romak III, PSL, and God knows what else. Mike’s gun didn’t look like any of these guns. It looked like a deer rifle with a cheap plastic camo stock. Is there a 7.62 rifle that looks like that? I’ve never heard of it.

Second thing…it’s 100% legal to own a sniper rifle, even in most totalitarian states where Hillary got most of the votes. Sniper rifles, with a number of weird exceptions, are similar, or even identical, to hunting rifles. In Vietnam, our snipers used the Winchester Model 70, which was (and is) a common deer rifle. Carlos Hathcock, the king of Vietnam snipers, used a Model 70 in 30.06 with an 8-power scope. I don’t actually recall the highest power among my (completely legal) scopes, but I believe it’s 14. Leupold sells a 25-power scope. You can just walk into a store and buy it, in front of a cop! No desert. No car trunk.

All Mike had to do was walk into a sporting goods store one state over, buy a deer rifle with cash, and go home. Or he could buy a used one in a private sale. He could shoot Salamanca with that and leave a mall-bought 30.06 round in him, and no one would have been able to trace it back to him. There are probably a hundred thousand 30.06 rifles in New Mexico. Throw the gun into a river, and you’re golden.

Mike’s rifle had what is known as a bull barrel or varmint barrel. This is a heavy barrel about an inch in diameter. The idea is that it will be slower to heat up and deflect than a thin barrel. Question: why do you need a bull barrel when you’re only shooting Hector once or twice? It’s not going to heat up. The gun would be heavier to carry through the desert than a gun with a regular barrel, and the cops would wonder why your sporting rifle (in a caliber not generally associated with prairie dog and coyote hunting) had a barrel like that. That barrel says, “I think I’m cute.” Way too flashy.

Here you go; I found Mike’s ideal rifle: the Savage Arms Model 11 BTH. It has a nifty target stock. Retail: $982. Legal, and not too expensive. Spend $500 on glass, and you’re ready to pop Salamanca.

Here’s something else that bugs me: Mike has terrible taste in pistols. I’ve seen him use a Beretta 92 and some kind of magnum snubnose revolver. Why? Why? Why?

The Beretta is a great-looking gun, but it’s not all that reliable, and it’s heavy. That stupid revolver is useless at over 20 feet, it’s heavy, it only holds 6 rounds, the recoil would be crazy, and it takes a long time to reload. A real Mike Ehrmantraut would have carried a Glock. It’s homely. It’s cheap. It’s incredibly reliable. It’s accurate. It’s light. It holds up to 18 rounds. You can’t trace the bullets because of the way the barrel is cut. Glocks are easy to find, and they are extremely common. No cop is going to say, “Well, we may not have a witness, but how many guys carry a Glock?”

I guess now I’ll Google and see if I’m wrong.

Well, now. Knowing relatively little about rifles, I did not know this: some people refer to the .308 Winchester round as 7.62mm. If you’re a gun person, you know that 7.62mm equals .30 caliber. Personally, when it comes to American rifles, I have always heard “308,” and I happen to have one, but maybe I’m out of the loop. Thing is, who carries one in bolt action? It’s a machine gun caliber, and it’s also used in the AR10, but bolt action?

Hmm…one website says .308 is the “standard” for sniping. Is that true? I hear so much about things like .338 Lapua and whatnot. I always assumed the .308 was out of style. I just figured we had gone straight from 30.06 to things like the .300 Winchester Magnum.

Google says Georgia Precision makes a bolt action .308 for snipers, and it does have a camo stock and bull barrel. Buy why would Mike want one? The recoil is bad, and .308 is not the greatest round for sniping. I mean, if you’re going to go with a Rolls-Royce, why not get a kooky boutique caliber that has less recoil and more accuracy? Why not a Creedmoor or Grendel or .260 Remington?

A slug in one of those calibers would be rare enough to get the cops’ attention, though. I guess .308 makes more sense. Same slug as a 30.06.

The Georgia Precision gun costs $4100 without glass or even a free beer coozy. What?? Mike wasn’t crazy. He would never have spent that much money to shoot a guy at 200 yards. I’ll tell you who would have: the guy whose Adam’s apple Mike bent in the parking garage. Remember? The guy who did a voice for a famous video game. After taking his gun and hitting him in the throat with it, Mike made fun of his Wilson Combat 1911. Guns like that are for plastic surgeons and securities traders who close both eyes when they shoot.

Imagine this. The cops find a dead Mexican with a weird .308 Prvi or Lapua or some such round in his chest. Then they find you with a $4100 .308 rifle. Is that a good situation to be in? No. You want a 30.06 with ammunition from Bass Pro Shop, plus a used rifle that cost you $750. If it’s accurate enough to hit an antelope, it will work fine on Hector.

Next time, maybe I’ll write about Mike tailing people in a highly distinctive 1988 Chrysler New Yorker. In a world jammed full of silver Japanese sedans, who in his right mind spies on people in an American car so out of style and butt ugly it would stand out in a wrecking yard even after crushing?

I guess I need to learn more about sniper rifles, but I am positive the Better Call Saul 7.62mm mess made no sense at all. You don’t need a rare gun in order to be a sniper, and whatever you buy will almost certainly be legal.

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