December 8, 2017, 10:22 pm
Here's the thing. I'm about to tell you one of my most shameful secrets: I used to be a fundamentalist Christian, Rush Limbaugh-quoting Republican.
There, I've said it. Man, that's a weight off my chest.
First, I became a Christian, diving in headlong and wholeheartedly. You can read about it in my book, Deadly Vows. Which, apparently, is cheaper in hardback than it is in Kindle version now:
Anyway, once I was a Christian, I fell for the two-pronged demon that is the sole recruiting tool for the Republican Party: Abortion and Gay-bashing. Abortion is murder, I was told, and homosexuality is anti-God and the way the gay agenda sucks people (literally) into the pit of hell.
So, without giving a thought about what the Bible actually said about poor people, the sick, the underprivileged, gay people or how women were supposed to be treated, I dove headfirst into Republican propaganda. Before I knew it, I was bashing gays (verbally, not literally, though I'm not sure the distinction matters), suppressing women, because men are supposed to be the bosses, and espousing the virtues of supply-side economics.
But around 1999, I started questioning things. I'd been a Christian for about 10 years by that point, always in a leadership position, including pastor, which is what I was in '99. I had read the Bible, cover-to-cover, more than two dozen times, and I was responsible for the theological training of literally millions of people through my ghost writing efforts for highly-paid televangelists.
One day, I was telling someone not to do something (the years that have passed since then have clouded my memory to the specifics of what it was), and I heard a voice in my head. Call it my conscience. Call it God. Call it mystical fairies. Whatever. I heard a voice. Clear as day, the voice said this to me: "You're a hypocrite. You're telling this guy to not do something that you really want to do. At least he's honest enough to do it."
Again, I forget what it was. But I'm sure it wasn't nearly as deviant as whatever you have in your head right now. But that voice woke me up. And it immediately called to mind a verse spoken by Jesus in the New Testament: "You have heard it said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Jesus was basically saying it's the thought that counts; the action is just a symptom of the disease. So right then and there, I made a decision. If God was real, If he really possessed the power to change people, he would have to change me.
"God," I said, unironically. "I'm going to do whatever I want to do from now on. If you don't want me doing something, and you're real, you're going to have to stop me. Because I will not be a hypocrite. You want honesty? Integrity? I'm going to be honest and do whatever comes into my head to do. If you're God and you don't want me doing something, stop me from doing it."
And from that day to this, I have never wavered from that.
I said all that to say this: Fundamentalist Christianity is fundamentally dishonest. It is composed of people who want to do all the bad shit they preach against, but who don't do it—not because they don't want to, but because they fear the eternal punishment of a pedantic god who would make humans roast in hell for eternity for something as fucking dumb as sexually desiring a person of the opposite sex. Or the same sex. Or some permutation that couldn't possibly have been predicted in a document written thousands of years ago.
The point is, I think, that fear drives Christianity. Fear of hell. Fear of displeasing God. Fear of being caught thinking the things people can't help thinking. And the Republican party is driven by the same fear.
"By God, if Roy Moore doesn't get elected to the Senate in Alabama, we will lose the majority and then abortion will remain legal, the queers will take over everything, the Muslims will push the Jews out of Israel and our rich donors might have to give up some of their money to help the poor and the sick!" So the Republican Party throws its support behind a racist, homophobic, xenophobic hate monger, who, by the way, likes to fuck 14-year-old girls. They don't support him because they like him. They support him because they fear losing their majority more than they fear God.
I don't fear God, by the way. I have a deep-seated hope that there is a God and that he rewards those who try their best to follow that God, but fear is reserved for people who are terrible. I don't want my kids to fear me, and if God really is our father, I don't think he wants us to fear him either. Don't go quoting Bible verses to me. Believe me, I've read it. You misunderstand and misquote it, but I'm not about to get into that debate here.
Al Franken, a rising star in the Democratic party, was pressured to resign from Democrats who feared that his past of allegedly disrespecting women compromised his moral authority to craft policy. And, realizing that pressure was legitimate, Franken resigned from the senate and threw away a very good chance at becoming the president. Even though he denied all the sexual allegations against him. He realized that the party he loves and the women he claims to serve were all disgusted and hurt by the allegations, and rather than foment more of the same, he removed himself from the picture.
Contrast that with Donald Trump, the president who has been accused of raping more than a dozen women, who is being litigated now for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl, who himself proclaimed that if a woman didn't want to have sex with him, he could convince them to by simply "grabbing them by the pussy," because he was famous. The Republican party supports him wholeheartedly. And Roy Moore, who, as I mentioned above, likes to fuck barely-teen girls. The GOP not only supports him, but they're throwing a ton of money into his campaign.
And there you have the fundamental moral divide: One party, realizing that even the appearance of supporting the sexual abuse of women is too much to bear, loses a powerful senator. The other party, realizing the loss of power is too much to bear, not only harbors, but encourages its sexual predators.
As a former Fundamentalist, I'm disgusted. As a former Republican, I'm appalled. The Republican Party is the party of Nazi protests, neo-fascist dictators, collusion with Russia, foisting cash on the rich at the expense of the poor, denial of health care to the needy, protecting the gun manufacturers at the expense of thousands of victims.
The Democratic party is the party of falling on the sword instead of risking the perpetuation of fear on the behalf of women, of caring for the poor and the needy, of healing the sick, of opposing the encroachment of foreign powers on American politics.
The choice has never been more clear.
Democrats are now the party of Jesus. They always have been, but at least now the distinction is clear.
December 6, 2017, 8:08 am
Make a note of the date of this post, because I want to come back later and say "I told you so."
I have figured out why the Republicans in Congress aren't doing anything about Donald Trump when he is all-but literally begging them to impeach him. They're riding the storm out until just before the mid-term elections because he is giving them everything they have ever wanted.
Tax cuts for the wealthy? Check.
Benefit cuts for the poor? Check.
Lucrative war brewing? Check.
Effective censoring of Internet opposition? Check.
Cover for overt racism? Check.
Republicans don't like Donald Trump—and by "Republicans" I don't mean those who voted for him, I mean those in power. Their greatest coup was getting one of their darlings, Mike Pence, elected vice president. Because, mark my words, when the midterm elections get close, they're going to impeach the shit out of Donald J. Trump, which will assure their base that they're not crazy and not afraid of Trump and effectively cut off the groundswell against them—after they have gotten him to approve and pass every evil plan they've ever had.
And then they can point to him and say, "It wasn't us, it was him!" Donald Trump is all too happy to take credit for the things he thinks are great accomplishments, and they're all too willing to let him have it, because then they don't have to face the flak for it.
So now, after they impeach and remove him, they'll have their best bud, Mike Pence, in the White House and the GOP's stomp of everyone making less than a million bucks a year can continue. It's a cold, calculated move by a party that, let's face it, can't be bothered with morals. Anyone who disagrees with that needs only to look at the GOP's official backing of a child molester for the completely befuddling reason elucidated by Trump: "We need his vote."
This, from the party that claims to be the party of Jesus. Because we all know Jesus's well-known opposition to helping the poor, healing the sick and paying taxes.
The Party of Jesus is scheming like Judas, and I'm willing to lay money they'll fucking get away with it.
Mark my words.
December 3, 2017, 9:21 pm
I needed a calendar for some of my sites, and as always, I can never find an out-of-the-box solution that works without me doing heavy modification on it. So why not program one myself?
Ineffable Calendar was designed in PHP to be incredibly flexible and easy to use. In fact, it can be implemented on a page with a few simple lines of code:
I think that's pretty dang simple. It's also really flexible; just about everything you can imagine can be customized without having to tinker with the source code, and I provide detailed instructions on how to do it.
So that's what I did with the couple of hours I had free this Sunday.
December 1, 2017, 11:23 pm
I'm pretty sure the bathroom at the Homeland Grocery store I was just peeing in is engaging in profiling.
November 24, 2017, 10:10 am
My wife is very politically-minded. That said, she tries to keep politics off her Facebook page—unless it relates to rescuing animals.
But occasionally, something pisses her off and she'll post it. For instance, the other day, she got out of her car and some redneck douchenozzle shouted, "Oh, my God! That bitch has a Hillary sticker on her car!"
When she told me, she prefaced it by saying "You should be glad you weren't there, because you would have felt compelled to defend my honor."
So I joked, "Maybe the guy wasn't making a political statement. I mean, he didn't say anything that wasn't true; maybe he was just narrating the situation."
I think she threw something at me; I can't really remember.
So some ancillary relative of hers jumped on her Facebook post about it and posted this:
Whats perplexing is that if you followed her career you would understand that she is the epitome of what we’ve had in office for years. She is a puppet for the people that are undermining the integrity of the greatest country in the world!! And they are doing it for personal gain as are the puppets .She has been caught in so many lies,broken every political law there is,my god she should be in prison,not running for any political position.If you women would pay more attention to these details you would see the true Hillary!!!! If you pray,you’d better pray that MR TRUMP is for real!!We really need a hero now!
I won't even address the English and grammar issues. Instead, because I told her I wouldn't respond on Facebook, I'm going to respond here, point by point.
"If you followed her career, you would understand..." Um, my wife has followed her career, since she was the first lady. And though Hillary wasn't either of our first choice (Bernie Sanders was), nothing in her career has suggested that she is "the epitome of what we've had in office for years."
"She is a puppet for the people that are undermining the integrity of the greatest country in the world." Oh, please, dear God, make the laughing stop! It hurts! The idea that such a statement could proceed from any orifice present on a supporter of DONALD FUCKING TRUMP is leg-slappingly hilarious. But it only gets better: "She has been caught in so many lies, broken every political law there is, my god, she should be in prison." Um, I think you added an "s" before every time you wanted to say "he." What political law you think she has broken can even begin to compare with colluding with a foreign enemy to rig an election? That law has a name, and it's "treason."
I just can't. Seriously.
But the fact that he feels comfortable jumping in on someone else's page and spouting his shit explains so much. For instance, in my business, I deal with the public a lot, and I can't count the times someone has, out of the blue, just said something akin to "Obama is a [insert racial epithet here] and Hillary is a [insert not-clever sexuality jab here]!" The fact that they feel comfortable doing that explains just how far up the ass of a red state I really am.
I will gladly discuss politics with someone who doesn't agree with me, knowing beforehand I can't convince them of my view any more than they can convince me of theirs, as long as they're willing to discuss it on the basis of actual fact and not innuendo and conspiracy theories whipped up by talk radio and opinionated talking heads.
And I swear, if another person who clearly hasn't tells me to "do the research," I swear I'm going to rip into them. Verbally, of course. To them, "do the research" too often means "I heard someone talking and they said they'd done the research, therefore, I consider myself to have done the research."
Being red in the middle of the reddest state requires no thought, no bravery, no "research." If you have really "done the research," before telling me to do my own, kindly present me with the "research" you did, and that does NOT include citing Facebook posts or the rants of crazy people posting on right-wing forums.
November 12, 2017, 10:22 pm
Okay. I think everyone needs to step back and define some terms. "Sexual harassment" happens when someone with power can deny something to someone else unless sexual favors are performed or flirting is endured.
For instance, let's say there's a boss who flirts with an subordinate, and the subordinate fears for her or his job if she or he asks the boss to stop. That's sexual harassment, and it's a moral failing—and in some places, a crime.
"Sexual assault" is when someone commits a sexual act against another person who has not consented to that action—even if the 'sexual act' is as seemingly innocuous as a hand brushing a breast or an ass.
For instance, say a dude is dating a girl, the dude thinks there's a go-ahead sign for sex and runs his hand up her body. The woman, however, is under no such impression that there is a 'go-ahead' for sex. That is sexual assault, and it's a crime. Consent needs to be explicit, not implicit.
Here is something that isn't a crime or a moral failing: One person asks another person for sex. The askee says "um, no." The asker says, "OK" and goes on about his or her way. That is not sexual harassment (assuming the asker isn't in a position of power over the askee). That is not sexual assault. It's just a person asking, getting rejected and moving on about his or her life.
Most of the politicians and Hollywood creeps who have been accused in the recent rash of sex harassment and assault cases are ostensibly guilty of one of the two crimes I just mentioned. Some, however, are not.
Louis CK, for instance, asked several women if he could show them his genitals. Creepy? Yes. Also, what a dumb move, because never in the history of ever has a woman been shown a man's genitals and thought "I have to have him right now." But is it harassment or assault? Neither of the women were his employees, or otherwise under his power. They were in his hotel room. He creepily then masturbated in front of the women, who consented to stay and watch him. Again, and I can't say this enough, creepy.
But there was no crime there. In his mea culpa, CK said "the power I had over these women is that they admired me." Okay, but ostensibly any person who is naked in front of another person in a hotel room or other private area with that other person's consent is admired by the person they're naked in front of.
He's lost millions of dollars over this, and if you're just going by creepy factor, good. But if you're going by legality, he did nothing wrong. The women consented. And he didn't touch them. And didn't have any tangible power over them, other than them admiring him.
Let's be real. I really like George Takei, but if he did what a lot of men seem to be accusing him of (grabbing their genitals without consent), he deserves to lose revenue and face legal consequences. But does Louis CK? There are a lot of creepy people out there. Being creepy isn't a crime. Let's not confuse crimes with things we don't agree with.
Same with someone such as Kevin Spacey. If he's groping people, that's a crime. If he's denying them employment opportunities for rejecting his advances, that's a crime. But simply propositioning people isn't a crime, assuming he's not in a position of power over them.
Last example: President Trump grabbing women "by the pussy," as he admitted doing, is a crime, because he touched women without their consent. Louis CK being creepy to consenting adults isn't a crime. Both are creepy. One is a criminal. And also, president.
November 5, 2017, 6:18 pm
Bread is the bane of all who embark on low-carb diets. Wheat is jam-packed full of carbohydrates, which are, frankly, delicious.
So I've been trying for awhile to formulate zero-carb bread, a seemingly impossible feat. But I have cracked it. And it involves two things, one of which you've probably never heard of: almond flour. The other is vital wheat gluten, the enemy of all who believe in fake gluten allergies.
The problem with making non-wheat bread is that yeast, the little fungi that make the holes in bread that makes it so fluffy and wonderful, need sugar to do their jobs, and sugar is pure carb. In addition, most flour-like things lack the "glue" of wheat, which traps the gas that makes the bubbles. So no sugar, no wheat: no bread. There are a lot of non-wheat bread recipes out there, but they all end up being brick-like, and thus horrible.
But my recipe makes actual bread, actually fluffy, actually delicious and a net of about 3 grams of carbs per slice, or 23 grams for the entire loaf (most wheat-based bread has that many carbs for just one slice). With my thinking cap on for a few weeks, I decided to avoid the dozens of recipes out there that call for a bunch of egg whites to simulate the fluffiness of real bread; they all taste "eggy." Instead, I wanted to make real bread. Just without any wheat-based flour. So I did a lot of reading, and the part of wheat-based dough that makes the yeast gas get trapped is the gluten. And gluten has way fewer carbs than wheat flour. So I figured if I added fiber into the bread to counteract the very few carbs in the wheat gluten, I could use gluten to make my bread.
For those who don't know, fiber helps neutralize carbohydrates; the closer you can get your fiber grams to your carbohydrate grams, the closer you are to net zero carbs in whatever you're making. So to add fiber, I decided on psyllium husk powder. If you want nice, solid, regular poo, eat a lot of it, because it's LOADED with fiber. The fiber in the psyllium husk powder more than counteracts the carbs in the wheat gluten, and helps the yeast counteract the carbs in the tablespoon of honey I use as fuel for the yeast. It's not necessary (the bread is still very low carb without it), but I thought every bit of fiber I can add can't be a bad thing.
Almond flour is made from nothing but ground-up almonds, which are very close to zero-carb, since they have almost exactly the same amount of fiber as carbohydrates.
So without further ado, here's my recipe for
VERY LOW CARB bread
(about 3 grams carbohydrates per slice, 23 for the entire recipe)
INGREDIENTS (or as my sons say, Magredients):
3 packages dry rapid-rise yeast (3/4 ounces total)
1 tbsp sugar (I use honey from my bees) (don't worry, the yeast eats the honey's carbs)
1 1/2 cups very warm water (I turn my tap all the way hot)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (I use coarse Kosher salt)
1 cup vital wheat gluten (more for mixing, if desired)
1 1/2 cups almond flour (blanched)
1/4 cup psyllium husk powder (optional; replace with either almond flour, coconut flour or gluten)
Pour the honey, yeast and water into your mixing bowl and wait for the yeast to start bubbling (this proves it's alive and saves your other ingredients if you have to start over). While you wait, mix all the other ingredients in another bowl.
Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until it becomes a dough like any other bread dough. Grease a big bowl and put the dough in the bottom of it. Cover it and place it in a warm, dry place for 35 to 45 minutes while the dough rises. It should get close to double its original size.
Grease an 8 x 4 bread pan and, after kneading the dough once (and ONLY once), place the dough in the pan, cover it and let it rise another 30 to 40 minutes. While it's doing that, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can go hotter for faster cooking time, but that's what I use.
Once the dough has risen again (it won't rise as much this time as it did the last time), put it in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean. Remove it from heat and let cool on a cooling rack.
Slice and enjoy.
This recipe makes one loaf. As a bonus, it's completely vegan, so my wife can eat it too (I know, some vegans have a problem with honey, but give me a break). And it's light, fluffy and delicious. I cannot tell that it's not made with wheat flour, and I'm the guy who has big problems with suspension of disbelief. Try it. You'll thank me.
October 28, 2017, 10:22 pm
Well, hell. I just wrote a long entry about a new zero-carb bread recipe I've come up with, but I forgot to include a headline, so it was lost.
Need to fix that in my new CMS.
By the way, remind me to tell you of all the work I've recently done on a new database system and CMS. It's rad.
October 20, 2017, 11:23 pm
In the 1990s, there was no one you would rather be than Carlton Pearson.
He was the pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in the world, mentor to one of the largest Christian music stars in the world, in-demand as a speaker, singer and mentor, father of the Azusa Street movement for pentecostals and all-around cool motherfucker.
I mean that last part, obviously, like Jesus would have said it.
Then, around 2003, shit hit the fan, and I mean that almost literally.
Pearson, who had been featured in every major outlet available to evangelical Christians, did something unthinkable: he began to question the very nature of the evangelical religion.
What if, he posited, salvation was not based on "asking Jesus into your heart"? What if, as the Bible said, Jesus died for everyone, not just those who were believers?
Full disclosure: I had lived those same questions four years earlier, but I was no Carlton Pearson. I was nobody, in fact. I was just some dude who was a ghost writer for televangelists. Carlton Pearson, meanwhile, was a genuine, bona fide star. A guy people put their faith in. A guy Oral Roberts had endorsed. A guy all the televangelist networks had looked up to. I was just the guy writing their books. This guy was the guy who was headlining their shows.
But, like me, he was questioning the reality of hell, eternal punishment, the idea that a just and holy god would actually sentence people to eternal torture for the honest and innocuous crime of questioning his existence.
So he, like I, began re-reading the Bible for clues about what its writers really intended their audience to understand. And the results were profound, for both of us: there was no hell, at least as far as the Bible was concerned. There was no capricious god damning entire nations to eternal torture in flames for the crime of never hearing his name.
Salvation, he and I discovered almost simultaneously, was universal (assuming you believed in a Judeo-Christian god and his son, who offered himself as a sacrifice in place of the sins of all mankind).
In 2003, I emailed Carlton Pearson using an address I possessed for him from my days writing for televangelists—an address he had given me when I was seeking his endorsement for a book I was writing for another televangelist.
"I am on the same path you are," I wrote to him. "Let me help you get the word out. Let's write a book."
The evangelical world had just begun officially shunning him, and he and I both naively thought we might stave off the flood with rational discourse.
"That's a very good idea," he wrote back. "Let me get some things in order and I'll call you."
He called me about a week later and we laid out tentative plans for the book that would become "The Gospel of Inclusion." However, life intervened for both of us and we never collaborated on it. Luckily, he got it done anyway. It's horrifying to think someone could get a book written without me, but it is what it is.
And the book is a masterpiece.
In it, he lays out the scriptural groundwork to establish a doctrine that the Judeo-Christian god is not the capricious asshole we all assumed him to be. Instead, he created a universal salvation through Jesus and that universal salvation was intended to foment a Christianity that was a response to unmitigated grace: a Christianity that preached the "good news" to the world that sin was no longer a problem because an innocent son of God paid the price for sins he never committed to ensure you were never punished for all the evil shit you did. Without requiring any further action from you. Are you a Muslim? Doesn't matter. His sacrifice paid for your sins. Hindu?Same story. Atheist? No problem.
And he was hammered for it. Lost his congregation. Lost his adoring fans. Lost his hard-earned respect. Castigated, ostracized. Carlton Pearson became a byword to those who formerly hung on his every word when he was preaching to them the things they already believed. Once he began to dig, to question, to excavate honest doctrine, the evangelical church could not have dropped him any faster if he had been a potato on fire.
And that's the lesson here: tell the truth and Christianity will discard you as fast as it can, because the only thing Christians desire is for someone to "amen" the lies upon which they have built their judgmental and hateful religion. It's the reason we have an orange president.
Carlton Pearson is a hero. A saint. A true believer who should go down in history as one of God's most brave fighters for truth. And my fervent hope is that he will.
October 16, 2017, 9:21 pm
On a whim, I typed "trumpsucks.com" into my browser. Because I'm programming and I needed a bit of a break for a second or two.
Next thing I know, my browser is redirected to HillaryClinton.com.
Kudos, staffer who set that up. Tip of the hat.
October 14, 2017, 11:11 am
So my wife and I were just at a store with our middle son, Axl. Some dude with huge boobs walked by and I casually said, "Man, that guy has nice tits."
The cashier cracked up and my wife punched me.
"You can't say stuff like that," my wife admonished.
"But he did have nice tits," I protested. "Like, he needed a bra."
The cashier agreed.