Corona Thoughts

It’s a common saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes,” — at least by some Christian apologists. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. I’m sure that the experience of war turns some people into believers. But also, it’s true that the experience of war turns some believers into atheists.

This corona virus is going to be similar. Some of the leadership in government is calling this a war–at least by the draft dodgers who talk tough and never fought in a real one. (Yeah, cheap shot. Sue me.)

Some folks (Idris Elba) are saying the corona virus is the earth reacting to global warming. Some people like to mock Elba or others for their views. It’s people just trying to make sense of the world. They make fun of Elba because he doesn’t have faith in Jesus or some other God even though there really isn’t much evidence of the mockers having any true faith either.

During the 1980s, evangelicals and other religious folks said AIDS was god’s judgement on homosexuals–even though innocent heterosexuals and children contracted the disease. Reasonable people think that a virus is an unthinking entity that is no respecter of persons. The transmission of the virus is easily understood. Transmission of the virus and the COVID disease has nothing to do with sinfulness or judgement. Jesus says so in Lk 13:2-5 if you care to look it up.

Where are the TBN preachers who tout their miracles? Where is Paula White? Where is Benny Hinn? Where is Richard Roberts? Where are the rest of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) crowd? Are they in hospitals visiting the sick and raising them from their beds? Haven’t seen any video of it anywhere. I’m sure if it was happening, it would be all over social media. These “healers” seem to be holed up in their mansions hiding from the virus.

The “foxhole” these people choose is their mansion. Or for the less well off, their home in the suburbs.  The people in the foxholes? Well, those are the nurses. And the doctors. And the lady at the intake desk. And the janitor cleaning the hospital. And the orderly. And the candy striper. And the cooks at the hospital cafeteria.

When this eventually passes it will be interesting to hear the stories.  I’m sure we will hear of some priests, pastors, rabbies, or other clergy who visited the sick and got sick themselves. We certainly have heard of many doctors helping people and contracting the disease. It seems as if there is already a greater number of healthcare professionals who have gotten sick and died from this virus than have clergy.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Imagine those who do it for complete strangers.

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My Thoughts on the “Witch Hunt”

Sigh…. IIRC, Robert Mueller was tasked by Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Rosenstein has been a US attorney in the DOJ for a very long . Before Rosenstein tasked Mueller, Rosenstein was appointed Deputy AG by Trump and was confirmed by the majority Republican Senate.

So, Mueller was tasked by someone in Trump’s DOJ (not Obama’s) and the person that appointed Mueller was appointed by Trump and confirmed by Trump’s political party.

So much for a witch hunt unless you are an insufferable whiner.

Mueller did what investigators do. You see a loose thread, and you pull it. As you pull it, the fabric starts to unravel. Even before Mueller was tasked, it was revealed that Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, was an agent of the Turkish government. As things went along, it was revealed that Manafort was a Russian agent. It was revealed that Don Jr. took a meeting with a Russian agent in Trump tower–even though the Trumps insisted no one for their campaign had any contact with Russians. It’s sort of laughable because Trump has had all sorts of contacts with many Russians because of his business dealings.

After all was said and done, 34 “witches” were indicted and 199 charges were made. Indictments were made against Roger Stone (campaign official), Michael Cohen (Trump attorney/fixer), Paul Manafort (Trump campaign manager), George Papadopoulos (campaign aide), Michael Flynn (former national security adviser–and rumored to take plea to save son), Rick Gates (Trump campaign aide), Alex van der Zwaan (attorney and associate of Manafort and Gates), Richard Pinedo (identity fraud and trading in stolen ban numbers), Konstantin Kilimnik (Russian agent working with Manafort and Gates), 12 Russian nationals accused of hacking DNC computers, 13 Russian nationals working for Internet Research Agency (conspiracy to defraud the USA because of election hacking and identity/wire theft).

Mueller was a decorated Viet Nam combat veteran and former head of the FBI under Bush and Obama (basically two terms of Bush, and first term of Obama) Mueller was a Republican but was known to be non-partisan. He had a good reputation although the lying sacks of shit in the white House and Fox News tried to smear him.

Now, if you want to talk about a witch hunt, we can talk about Whitewater. A Savings and Loan failed in 1989 after being in trouble for nearly a decade. The investigator was Ken Starr who leaked like a sieve. In pursuit of the Whitewater investigation, eventually Monica Lewinsky was brought in to testify about Clinton. Lewinsky was what, maybe 13-14 years old, when Whitewater went belly up? So, Bill Clinton’s sex life 8 years after the failing of a savings and loan has what to do with the failure of that savings and loan? Ultimately, Clinton was impeached but not found guilty/removed from office.

God knows who you are who basically said “release the Kraken” against Clinton after a 6 year investigation, and those who are whining against a less than 2 year investigation against Trump where his campaign manager was a Russian agent, his security advisor was an agent of Turkey, and his campaign manager was a Russian agent. And, it is rumored that God knows what Jared and Ivanka are talking to the Saudis about on their unsecure celll phones doing gov’t business.

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How to Calculate PI

Had a job interview test to calculate PI using the built in random number generator in Java. This is the same result using C#. Assume this method is a member of a class…since functions cannot stand on their own in Java or C#. (And, yeah, it would throw an exception if you passed in zero for numPoints.)

public static double CalcPi(uint numPoints)
    double count = 0;
    Random rand = new Random();
    for (uint i = 0; i < numPoints; ++i)
        if (Math.Sqrt(Math.Pow(rand.NextDouble(), 2) + Math.Pow(rand.NextDouble(), 2)) <= 1.0)

    return count * 4.0 / numPoints;
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Thoughts About Trump’s Rhetoric Towards Legal Immigrants

Trump says a lot of untrue and inflammatory things about illegal immigrants, but it is horrible what he says about LEGAL immigrants. In a recent speech, he said that we have to get rid of the lottery system because countries are sending us “their worst.”  Trump is doing what he always does–scapegoating.

Remember, he is saying this about LEGAL immigrants.

Trump seems to be like a lot of other people–he has strong opinions on subjects he knows very little about.  He uses language to make all other countries and their citizens our enemies. He says these countries are sending their worst and they are “infesting” us. Countries don’t “send” legal immigrants. Instead, individual potential immigrants apply for a visa.  Immigrants have to be motivated. They have to file a bunch of background information about places they’ve lived, gone to school, worked, etc. It reminds me of the paperwork people have to fill out for a security clearance. I say this as one who knows because I have had a security clearance in the past, and I had to pay a lawyer to help my wife and I when she applied for her visa.Petitioners for visas also have to pay a fee to the US government in their application and there is not any guarantee that they will be accepted. For people in a third world country, the application fee is a rather substantial amount of money.

Let’s talk about the immigrants I know. First there is my wife, Maria de Lourdes and her daughter, Ingrid. Lourdes came into the country on a K1 visa (and her daughter a K2). The K1 visa is commonly called a “fiance visa” because the person receiving the visa has to marry their sponsor within 90 days of arrival in the country. In Mexico, my wife was a paralegal working for the federal judiciary appellate court of Mexico. Hardly “the worst”. She raised two children on her own and was actively involved in feeding the poor.

Let’s talk about my co-workers. I am a software engineer, and I’ve been on the same job for 22 years. The business was founded by three immigrants: 2 from Poland and one from Germany (Pawel, Elisabeta, and Thomas). My first boss there, Julek,  was another Polish immigrant. The business was sold in 2014 for $73 million. My current boss, Ivan, is Russian with a masters degree in computer science and smarter than anyone else in the building–including Venu, the head of the analytics department who is from India and has a PhD.  We have two other developers (Karthic, Sivakumar), and one tester from India (Amruta). Diana is a female developer from Colombia. Veronika is tester from Russia who moved to Chicago and works remotely from Chicago.

I don’t want to give the impression that everyone in the office is an immigrant. I am not. I would say we are 50% Americanos and 50% immigrants. I know of no legal problems with my immigrant workers. However, I can’t say the same thing with my white American co-workers.

One of my co-workers, Andy, somehow managed to get his car stuck on a train track and it was subsequently hit by a train. The police found him walking/staggering down the road. He wasn’t in the car when it got hit. When they found him, they made him take a breathalyzer and he blew a .25 blood alcohol percentage.  I have another caucasian American co-worker, Beau, who in a drunken rage against his wife drove his truck purposefully at high speed into his garage and went through the back wall into his house. He was arrested for DUI and assault with a deadly weapon–pled down to DUI.

Let’s talk about two co-workers who left the company. Kent was a technical support engineer. He left the company and shortly after he was charged with propositioning an 11 year girl who was his neighbor and friend of his daughter. He saved the state the cost of a trial by killing himself. Then, there is Paul. I worked with him for 5 years.  After he left the company, he was convicted for possession, production, and distribution of child pornography. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Let’s talk about my church–which has a lot of immigrants.  We have a lot of immigrants from the Middle East–especially Lebanon and Syria. Our sub-deacon, Khalil, is from Lebanon and is an MD, as is his wife (from Lebanon and also an MD). Did I mention they are tri-lingual? Arabic, French, and English are the languages they speak. There is Tony who is from Syria. He owns a BBQ restaurant. There is a gentleman I don’t remember his name and his wife who are both from Syria. He is a civil engineer and works on major construction projects. Suad is a woman from Lebanon. She is “just a housewife” but is active in all the church fundraisers.  We have some construction workers from Romania, another doctor from Lebanon, a family (the parents) from Jordan, a family from Georgia (next to Russia), and a family from Ethiopia. I am now remembering a woman from Russia. I am sure there are probably another dozen others. We’ve had no problems with them.

Trump’s rhetoric reminds me of another time and place in the 20th century. What was the problem of Germany in the 30s? Hitler told the Germans it was the Jews. What is the problem of the US in 2018? Trump is telling us it is immigrants.  What problems are immigrants causing us? Honestly, I can’t see. I have had only good experiences with immigrants. Do immigrants never commit crimes? Of course not. But, the statistics show that as a group, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natural citizens. To speak of them the way Trump does is reprehensible.

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Don’t want to be “that guy”…

Twice this week I’ve had to “hold my tongue.”  Well, not really my tongue, but my fingers on the keyboard.  Both were related to Facebook. One was a post by a doctor and the other was a post from a college buddy.

Let’s talk about the doctor. This is where I disagree, but my opinion could be total bullshit. (Can’t it always?) But, the doctor saw the documentary “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix. Which, if you don’t know, is pro-vegan and a pretty good piece of propaganda…and not science, if you ask me. But, honestly, I’m just a stupid layman. My doctor friend is actually an internist. However, I’ve read a little.  A little Taubes and a little Teicholz. Of course, Teicholz book is 300+ pages with 120+ pages of notes and bibliography.  As a layman, it is sort of hard to know the truth, but it’s not hard to recognize that “Forks Over Knives” is a piece of propaganda by a pro animal rights group. I’ve thought about buying the Teicholz book for the doctor, and am still considering it, but not being confrontational on Facebook is a good idea.

Now, let’s talk about the post from an old college buddy. He linked to an article that stated California has the worst quality of life in the United States. My friend’s comment was basically, “Well, duh…. socialism.” My immediate thought was rolling my eyes thinking, “here we go again…” I mean it really is laughable. California has about 1/7th of the total economy of the United States. Hell, if any place is practicing capitalism, it is California.  Look at what is going on in Silicon Valley…. Google, Apple, Facebook, etc, etc.  My employer has been bought twice by Silicon Valley venture capital firms. My cousin who lives out there has worked for 4 startups.  My cousin is rich AF. California is as capitalistic as it comes.

Reading the article, it was funny because it put one of the things making California a bad quality of life as having “poor voter participation.” I laughed at that. How does that make poor quality of life? Of course, California does have some things that make for poor quality of life like housing costs, traffic, commuting, population density, and air pollution. Ask any Californian and they’ll agree. I lived out there for 7 years. I just can’t imagine how bad Los Angeles would be if California had not enforced stricter (socialistic?, haha) pollution standards. But, what about the climate? After having spent 4 years at Michigan Tech and more than 200 inches of snow per year, California was like heaven. The same article also mentions that California has the 4th best economy and is #1 for business.  Let me say that again, fourth best economy and number one for business. That’s “socialism”? Really? Give me a break you Fox/Rush loving con-tard.

Of course, it’s not good to say that on Facebook. I don’t want to be “that guy”–the guy who is always right and needs to let others know it–even when I am. (haha) No one reads this damn blog and I don’t care to try to promote it. It is too much work trying to produce the little content that I have. I hate politics on Facebook, so that is why I held my tongue. I want to hear about birthdays, and kids winning awards, or even better, people helping other people. I don’t want to read how Trump is the greatest president ever.

So, lord, please help me to not be “that guy.”

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I don’t do pan-orthodox events…

“Pan-orthodox” events are events where the local Orthodox churches in the city get together for a service. There are a few per year. Today was the first Sunday of Lent aka The Sunday of Orthodoxy. It is customary for the churches to get together for vespers on Sunday night and perform a commemoration of the restoration of icons to the churches.

I used to go to the services when it was just our parish and the Greek parish. However, over 12+ years ago, there was a split in the parishes. Some people in our parish (Antiochian) and in the Greek parish were unhappy with how their parishes were being run and they found a bishop in the OCA who allowed them to start their own parish.  Evidently the existing parishes weren’t “orthodox” enough and these folks started a parish to show us all how it should be done. My orthodox godfather was one of these people who tried to recruit me to the new parish. I attended a service once or twice when my priest was out of town. However, I never felt the draw. I am loyal to my priest. He has been there for me when I have been through hard times

Some of these people were upset because people kneeled on Sunday. Others were upset because we celebrated some holy days the night before the holy day. My “godfather” was one of these. He made a big point of telling me that at the new parish they celebrated holy days on the day of–the morning of. So, I asked him, do you go? No, I can’t go, he said, I have to work. Duh. That is why we celebrated the night before–so that more people could attend. And, besides that, according to orthodox/biblical theology, the night before is the same day because “… there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

But what really irks me is that now these people who despised us and thought we weren’t good enough now want to be with us on these holy days. Why? I thought we weren’t “orthodox” enough? What are we supposed to act as if nothing happened? Are we suppose to look at them and tell them how great they are?

I just can’t stomach it.

Probably need to go to confession for it.

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Groupthink and Twitter LHCF zealots

Had an interesting experience the last day on Twitter. I know lots of people are nuts, but being on this side of it has maybe opened up my eyes a little. My experience starts near this post:

The groupthink I experienced was from the low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet zealots on Twitter. It started when someone noted that Steve Jobs ate a fruitarian (only fruit) diet and suffered from diabetes or diabetes-like symptoms near the end of his life. One of the leading LCHF advocates/authors stated that his diet was likely the cause of his diabetes.  I thought this was a big leap and an unwarranted conclusion. He had pancreatic cancer (another person said neuroendocrine tumor) and it could be the cancer that caused his pancreas to not properly secrete insulin. The author acknowledged that maybe was the case, but she thought that a fruitarian diet was a bad treatment for diabetes. I have no objection, based on my limited knowledge, to her saying that she thought it was bad treatment.  So far, it was just a disagreement.

But, then other people joined the bandwagon. Some others started practically accusing a doctor Jobs worked with of malpractice. The doctor, Dean Ornish is a noted low-fat, vegan advocate. But, he is not a fruitarian and some people were implying he was.  Others were implying that Ornish killed Jobs (through his diet). I’m pretty sure cancer killed Jobs.

One lady tweeted:

he died of high fructose = fatty liver = high insulin/resistant = pancreas cancer

That is what a zealot after reading a few LCHF diet books would write. It’s the classic, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

I stated:

You don’t know state of his liver or even of any genetic component. Insulin problem could have been the effect of pancreatic cancer You’re jumping to conclusions to fit a narrative.

Then the lady responded:

Oh really, I d suggest u eat lots of fruit and try it urself 👍🏻 keep eating any sugar u can hand on buddy u ll get rewarded!

It’s not a logical response. I actually found her responses repulsive, stupid, and borderline evil. Did I say anything besides that she could not know the cause of his cancer? No. But, all of a sudden I should eat the same diet Jobs did so I would get cancer? It’s the equivalent of “fuck off and die.” Yes?

It reminds me of past religious discussions on web forums.  Throw out logic when dealing with most religious claims. People are going to believe what they want to believe. It seems to me that what is a proper diet is similarly religious. Challenge their beliefs, their orthorexia, and be prepared for an onslaught. Some of the people who write the actual books can have a reasonable discussion and use reasoning. But, many of their followers cannot.

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Why I Went on a Diet

I know I’ve needed to go on a diet for a long time. But really, I thought I wasn’t doing too bad because I was using the same belt holes.   Well, I looked a little closer and I had busted through the holes–maybe 4 or 5 of them. The belt is one of those leather weaved mesh belts where the holes are not really holes but spots where the leather strands cross each other. My pants were a little tighter, but no big deal.

However, a couple things happened near one another and I decided to give it a go.  I now had motivation. Or maybe shame…

  1. Weighed myself and said “wow”. Was getting up there, close to my all time max.
  2. My wife was having trouble sleeping and she played a recording of me snoring. This was probably the final straw, but there is more.
  3. My back was hurting. I think it was due to the extra weight.
  4. When I tried to do my back exercises, my gut was in the way.

Glad to say I am not disturbing my wife’s sleep anymore.

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Hostage Evangelism

When I saw the John Brown University and Oklahoma Baptist University sweat shirts, I was immediately nervous.  I don’t like baptists, having been married to one (and having been one myself).  I found myself at a Halloween party for the English as a Second Language (ESL) class with my wife who is a student.

Things were going ok, except there was no beer, wine, or any normal beverage you’d have at a party.  That was, everything was ok, until the pumpkin carving lesson. When it came to the pumpkin carving, all of a sudden the woman in charge decided to make a half ass gospel presentation using a pumpkin.  Ok, I thought, now I know why these people volunteered their home. They didn’t want to throw a party, they wanted to lure people in with a party and then make them submit to their religious indoctrination.

My wife’s ESL class has students from Korea, Viet Nam, Thailand, Mexico, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and many other countries.  Which, if none of them were baptists, would make nice notches on the bible for these baptists.

The presentation was really fumbled, and I thought they assumed a lot about the hearers.  There are pumpkin gospel presentations on Youtube and they are meant for children. The presentation was at about a 5 year old level and assumed that the listeners were people who would accept whatever their teacher (or parent) would tell them.

I dislike hostage evangelism… which isn’t the evangelism of people in prison.  It’s the evangelism where you promise the listener something like a homeless man a meal, but first make them listen to your spiel. I prefer the folks who say here’s some food.  Afterward, we are going to talk about God and you can come and listen if your want or not. The choice is yours.

What I dislike most is that I feel like I am considered to be a project first and a person second.

Now, Catholics and Orthodox do hostage evangelism too, but they call it “retreats” and the person or parent knows ahead of time that religious instruction is included. Having a party and not being upfront about it, is not cool to me.

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Review of Penn Jillette’s Diet Book

You’d have to be a moron to take dieting or health advice from Penn Jillette. That’s how Penn Jillette bookends his book, Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales.  Jillette starts the book saying he’s not a doctor or scientist and that you shouldn’t take his word on anything health related.  Then he spends the rest of the book telling you why everything he says has merit before he ends the book saying you’d be an idiot to take his advice.

Why does anyone read a book?  Sometimes to be informed. Sometimes to be entertained. Usually non-fiction like Jillette’s book is for information, and an author like Stephen King is read for entertainment.  I found Jillette’s book to be entertaining and sometimes informational.

As the title of Jillette’s book makes clear, he tells the story of how he lost 100 pounds and how he kept it off.  It’s a great story.  If Jillette sometimes seems a little whack, it’s not surprising he’d try a diet that is a little whack.  I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that he starts off the diet by eating only potatoes for the first two weeks. Nothing else. Whereas some people might consult a medical doctor or read a diet book, Jillette follows the dieting advice given him by his friend he calls CrayRay (Crazy Ray aka Ray Cronise).

Who is CrayRay, Jillette’s diet guru?  He’s a former NASA scientist.  Jillette puts CrayRay on a pedestal.  He helped Penn lose 100 pounds, so I probably would too if he helped me lose 100 pounds too.  But, I do find some of Jillette’s claims questionable.

Jillette tries to be cute and writes that the difference between CrayRay’s diet and other diet’s is that CrayRay’s diet is “sciencey”. I’ve read a lot of diet books and I didn’t find anything in Jillette’s explanation to be more “sciencey”.  In fact, I’d probably classify the word “sciencey” to describe something that is like science, but not science itself. How I’d classify his descriptions would not be science, but rather anecdotal evidence and theories.  Jillette writes as if other diets are not “sciencey”.  Look at how many diet books are written by guys that have MD or PhD.  There are tons.

I won’t say that Jillette or CrayRay are wrong.  How could I? I just object to the description of his diet as being more “sciencey”.

The problem of many diet books, whether they are written by Jillette or MDs is that they are too “sciencey” and not enough science.

They all make appeals to “science”. But, I ask you, if one doctor basically says “high fat and high protein is of the devil, you should eat a high carb diet”, and another physician says, “carbs are of the devil, eat a keto diet”, who should you believe?  They both can’t be correct, can they?  However, that is the situation we find ourselves in today.  A guy like Neal Barnard says everyone should eat a low fat diet, and stick primarily to whole grains, fruits, and vegetables–a diet that is high carb.  Another doctor like Michael Eades says that you should eat a keto diet (high fat, low carb).  Both doctors have theories, data, recommendations, etc. Both point at the other guy and say, “if you eat that guy’s diet, you will be killing yourself.”

The fact is that people following both diets lose weight. Both diets seem to improve health.  It’s maddening. At least to me.

In the end, after eating all those potatoes, Jillette ended up on basically a vegan diet.  He calls himself a vegan (but not for ethical reasons). I think he chuckles to himself while he wrote that calling himself a vegan, because he’s not really one. No more than once a month, like for a birthday, Jillette takes a day off from the diet and eats a steak or a burger. Imagine vegans going berserk as Jillette calls himself a vegan and then sits down in Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and eats a filet mignon.

What are other weird things about CrayRay’s weight loss regimen? No exercise–at least until you arrive at your target weight. Sitting on the couch and sleeping instead of exercising. Being cold. Fasting–16 hours a day.  The fasting is like how some keto diet advocates recommend.

In the end, I don’t know whether to recommend the diet, but I can recommend the book. I found it enjoyable. If you follow it, you are probably as likely to lose weight on it as any other diet book. Lots of Penn’s friends have lost on the CrayRay regimen.

I recommend the book because I enjoyed the stories Penn weaved in and out of his weight loss journey. The stories are great and entertaining–like how he learned to eat fire.  There are many others like it.  I’ll issue a few warnings.  He must use the f-word a pjillion times. I worked on an Air Force base with test pilots, so I don’t mind coarse speech. But, Jillette has a lot of it.   He also reminds me a little of Trump because he knows how to throw red meat to his base.  Whereas Trump might talk about “the Wall” or “fake news”, Penn can’t help himself and throw red meat to his atheist friends and go after Christians.  I can brush it off. I don’t care what atheists think about Christianity because usually it’s directed toward evangelicals and i have some of the same complaints.  But, if you have a thin skin, just be warned.

Jillette is a good writer. But, I’ll end my review with how Penn bookends his book. You’d have to be an idiot to take seriously a book review by an engineer. But, if you read his book, you just might like it.

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