Charlie's Blog: June 2019


How To Age Well

Gray hair is the glory of a long life.

There is only one way to cure aging, and that is to die young. Otherwise, time and gravity are going to take their toll. There are two ways you can get old. You can accept aging as an inevitable part of life and make the best of it. Or, you can go into old age kicking and screaming in various ways of denying the obvious. You can age poorly, or you can age well. It is a subject I have studied, and here is a guide to aging well.

1. Don't hide your age with cosmetic remedies.

One of the saddest and most ridiculous things you can do as you get older is to try and hide your age. People will go with those incredibly stupid cosmetic surgeries and botox injections. Men will resort to various remedies to hide their hair loss, and women will color their hair. None of this stuff actually works. It just makes you look pathetic. Just be natural.

2. Stay mentally active.

The most valuable asset an older person has is wisdom. But this wisdom is worthless if it is locked in a decaying brain. Research indicates that neuorplasticity endures into old age. The way to make the most of this fact is to keep the gray matter active with cerebral activities like reading, writing, playing musical instruments, doing crossword puzzles, learning new languages and skills, and on and on. The worst thing you can do is to spend your evenings parked in front of the TV set. Don't do this.

3. Stay physically active.

You can build fitness at any age including 90 and above. It really helps if you maintain this fitness before you get old. As you get older, going to the gym or doing a routine becomes a necessity. And I have seen some ridiculously fit older people that put young people to shame. Staying fit also has cognitive benefits as well.

4. Act your age.

I think aging rock stars are pathetic. What is equally pathetic is seeing aging rock fans in the stands with gray ponytails. Folks, you can't hold on to sixteen when you're sixty. Yet, I see many aging Baby Boomers driving sporty cars and dressing like teenagers. All of this represents a loss of dignity that old people used to cultivate as they got older. Now, you have nursing homes with STD epidemics. Grow up already.

5. Never retire.

A good way to remain mentally and physically active is to stay on the job for as long as you possibly can. Plus, your best work may still be in front of you. Retirement is just a down payment on death.

6. Quit smoking and drinking.

Smoking and drinking ages you quickly. This is because both activities are toxic and take a toll on your body. I remember a woman who didn't look a day over 65. The problem was that she was 45. She was a smoker and a drinker.

7. Go vegan.

Meat is bad for you, too. A plant based diet is the way to go if you want to improve longevity and also the quality of your life. You will feel amazing, and you won't need to take Metamucil every day.

8. Listen to classical music.

Classical music has salutary benefits. It increases mental acuity. It stimulates creativity. It decreases stress. It makes you feel more tranquil and calm. Plus, it helps you act your age unlike hip hop or rock. And it never changes or causes sadness and nostalgia like listening to the oldies. It is timeless music.

9. Maintain your relationships with children and grandchildren.

This seems to be a problem for Baby Boomers as they are quick and desperate to get rid of their kids and enjoy hedonistic life again. Then, they become sad and lonely wondering why their kids and grandkids never come to see them. Once you treat family members as liabilities, it cuts both ways.

10. Live a life of faith.

When you're old, there's only one place left for you to go. It behooves you to prepare for that place, but it also has benefits for this life as well. You make friends at church. It keeps you engaged with a community of like minded people. Religion gives consolation in this life. And your faith will make you a better person that others revere and appreciate.

BONUS, Drink coffee!

Coffee is pure win. It puts pep in your step. It keeps your bowels moving which is always a cause of concern for older folks. It makes you mentally sharp. If there is a fountain of youth, it is found in a cup of coffee.


None of us will live forever, but we should live each day we have as fully as possible. Aging well requires maturity, discipline, and wisdom. If you do it right, you should live longer and better and be of great value to the younger generations who still need you and your wisdom. The goal should be to not live in extended adolescence or have one foot in the grave. Aging well is simply making the most of the time we have left that God has given us.


How To Overcome Depression

 With expectation I have waited for the Lord, and he was attentive to me. And he heard my prayers, and brought me out of the pit of misery and the mire of dregs. And he set my feet upon a rock, and directed my steps.

At the outset, this post will not attempt to blow solar energy and light into your posterior. People who suffer from depression get very annoyed at advice that tells you to take that frown and turn it upside down. Anyone who gives such garbage advice has no connection to reality. And such nonsense cannot withstand its first contact with brutal reality. Good advice on this issue must be grounded in the reality of existence which is inherently bleak. But existence is not inherently hopeless.

There is hope for people who suffer from chronic depression. This is something that can be overcome. Overcoming is not being free from the feeling of depression but simply not being overwhelmed by depression.

I am also not a mental health professional. I am just a guy with a blog on the internet. I have to write this disclaimer for the obvious reason that people want to blame everyone else for their failures except themselves. You're not going to blame me. You are responsible for you.

The Elephant in the Room

When it comes to depression, the elephant in the room is suicide. In recent years, celebrities who have everything good in life elect to end their charmed lives by their own hand. The thing they have in common is that they were atheists when they killed themselves. Finding life not worth living, they hoped to escape into the darkness of nothing. Their consciousness would cease to exist along with their pain and despair. They did not realize that suicide increases that pain and despair and makes it permanent.

God exists. This means that Hell exists. People that commit suicide go to Hell. I know this is not a fashionable or popular thing to say, but there would be far fewer suicides if more people said it. Protestantism fails in this regard with their sola fide heresy and "once saved, always saved" garbage that denies mortal sin. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church teaches this but keeps its mouth shut on the matter in fear of offending people. They should be more afraid of souls going to Hell.

Jesus said that it would have been better for Judas Iscariot if he had never been born. This can only mean that Judas went to Hell. Judas was not beyond forgiveness for his sins, but he put himself beyond forgiveness by hanging himself. Suicide is the unforgivable sin by its nature because you cannot repent of the sin after death. To die in mortal sin is to be condemned to Hell, and suicide is a mortal sin.

Nothing you suffer in this life will ever compare to the sufferings of Hell. Perhaps you deny the existence of God and Hell. I can tell you that your current misery comes from this denial. Even if you don't believe, suicide closes your options forever. The smart thing to do is to keep those options open as long as possible. An option is hope.

The False Comforters

Once upon a time, the mental health profession used to help depressed people by talking to them. Just having someone to talk to seemed to help even if what the shrink had to say was worthless. You could achieve the same relief by talking to the bartender down at your local pub.

Somewhere, the shrinks got tired of talking to people and decided that they needed to medicate them because drugs are the answer to all of life's problems. But if this were true, then Freud wouldn't have had to overcome that nasty cocaine addiction. As for those psychotropic drugs, their effectiveness is debatable. Many in the psychiatric profession have come to doubt their effectiveness with a placebo showing similar results in trials and experiments.

Mental health professionals offer false comfort. You just lost your job. You have been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer that will cause you a great deal of pain and suffering until you die. Your spouse has left you for an adulterous fling. And your child just died from a heroin overdose. Here, take this pill, and everything will be fine.

People don't need a psychiatrist. They need a philosopher. This is because depression is a natural and rational reaction to a world that is messed up and tragic. Mental health professionals are not philosophers. They don't deal with deeper issues. They just want to treat your symptoms and make them go away. They are not going away because life does not go away. Life could go away, but this would be the elephant in the room that we already discussed.

Anger Without Enthusiasm

To overcome depression, it helps to define the term. I think the best definition of depression comes not from a psychiatrist or a philosopher but a comedian. This comedian is Steven Wright who said that depression is anger without enthusiasm. That man is a pure genius because he captured it in that simple statement. Depression is not sadness. Depression is anger.

When you become angry, you either work to fix the situation, or you lose your sanity and make it incredibly worse. In both of these cases, the anger is enthusiastic. People feel relief in the enthusiastic expression of anger. This is one of the reasons for all of these senseless incidents of workplace violence and mass shootings. These people are complete lunatics and fools, but they find relief from their despair by the enthusiasm they have in the violent expressions of their anger. Being fundamentally atheistic and suicidal, they see no eternal consequences to their actions and their evil.

If committing suicide condemns your soul to Hell, then killing additional people along with yourself will certainly send you to Hell and to an even greater level of torment. Hell has levels corresponding to your evil, and your eternal torment will be greater or lesser as a consequence of your level of evil.

When anger loses its enthusiasm, it becomes depression. This is usually as a consequence of futility. Your situation is messed up and unjust, but you can't do anything about it. Without an outlet, the anger is turned inward and becomes self-destructive. The energy drains from you, and your enthusiasm for life vanishes. It feels as if nothing you do matters, so there's no point in bothering with anything. This is why depressed people take to their beds and couches. This is a form of pre-suicide where the depressed person ceases to live even though they continue to draw breath. Even breathing takes more energy than the depressed person feels that they have to give.

Job's Comforters

When a person is depressed, there never fails to be a string of fools in the Cheer Up Crew to pour salt in the wounds. The Cheer Up Crew think that depression is just sadness which can just be washed away with sunshine and a smile. These people are idiots. They tell you stupid things like "be positive" and "stop being negative." They exacerbate the depression by increasing the anger.

This is what Job's comforters did to him as he lay suffering. Even they could not muster a cheer up message, so they opted to blame the victim for his travails. Somehow, he must have brought the calamity upon himself. The Cheer Up Crew will do this to you, too. This is because blaming the victim absolves them of any responsibility for helping you. They blame you and drop you. These are not good friends.

The most comfort you will receive will be from others in similar circumstances or who have survived similar circumstances. A collection of these people is known as a support group. Unlike Job's comforters, these people have been there and understand your feelings.

The Way Out

If depression is anger without enthusiasm, why is the depressed person angry? This may seem like an emotional question that a counselor could address, but it is actually a philosophical question. Every person desires happiness, but this desire is frustrated in this life. This is not mere disappointment at not being able to get what you want. The fact is that people who get everything they want end up becoming depressed and killing themselves. This cuts deeper to the fact that life has a fundamental absurdity about it. It all seems like some colossal sick joke. This perception is the correct one. Life is a sick joke. It demands that we seek happiness but provides no way of achieving it. This is known as absurdity.

The frustration inherent in this absurdity is what causes the frustration, angst, and despair. Albert Camus captured the problem of absurdity succinctly when he wrote.
There is only one really serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.
For Camus and other atheists, life is meaningless. People have to provide meaning to their lives. Yet, they all fail in this regard. This is because life without God is meaningless and absurd even when that life is pleasant. But with God, life has meaning and purpose even if that life is unpleasant. 

If the thought of God fills you with anger and disgust, you have discovered the source of your depression. The depressed person is angry at God but cannot express this anger. Either God is real, which makes the anger stupid. Or, God isn't real which also makes the anger stupid. Locked into this logical dead end, this anger leads to futility and the loss of enthusiasm in that anger which is depression.

Believing in God and living in obedience to God is what relieves the anger that is fundamental to depression. This is not a matter of opinion. Study after study shows that religious people enjoy greater mental health than atheists and the non-religious. For some reason, faith in God is good for you. Faith in God brings relief to those suffering with depression. God is the way out of depression.

Nothing will change the fundamental reality that life is filled with a great deal of grief and suffering. You will experience sadness, anger, and loss. Even people with faith endure these negative aspects of life. Jesus Christ suffered sadness, pain, and loss. But these negative emotions are not the same as depression. Jesus wept, and He was sad. But He was never depressed.

Depression always comes back to anger at God. The depressed person is mad at God but can't do anything about it. When he does do something about it, it is usually destructive and self-destructive. The depressed person can't inflict punishment on God, so he inflicts the punishment on others and on himself. Someone must pay the price for all of this misery.

Depression ends when anger at God ends. People of faith have no anger towards God. They have love. They know God loves them, and they love God back. This love persists and endures even when bad things happen to them. They trust God's heart, and they trust in God's plan even if they don't always understand that plan.

The depressed person must turn to God to find a way out of his or her depression. God is the only way. No other solution provided by the mental health establishment, the pharmaceutical industry, or philosophy will work.


The first and most obvious objection to my depression solution is that it is too simple. Depression is a complicated problem needing a complicated solution. I disagree on both. Depressed people want to make it complicated to avoid the answer that they already know to be true.

The second objection is that people of faith become depressed. This is only partially true. Most of the time, people of faith become sad because of something bad in their lives. Life is not always sunshine. It is also clouds and rain. But when people of faith become depressed, it is because they have become angry at God and doubt either His goodness or His existence. They are descending into atheism which brings depression with it.

The third objection is that it is impossible to believe in a good and loving God with all of the misery, evil, and suffering in the world. This is the old philosophical problem of theodicy. The atheist fundamentally believes that he or she can run the world better than God but end up causing even more misery, evil, and suffering in the process. Whatever you may think of the way God runs things, do not delude yourself into thinking you are going to do a better job of it.

A fourth objection will be that people become depressed because of a chemical imbalance in their brains. This is reductionism. Basically, you are a bag of meat with various chemicals causing reactions in your brain. Your kid dying from leukemia is just an imbalance in your brain. On this basis, all of our loves, fears, hopes, and beliefs about life can be reduced to brain chemicals. Then, you just need to readjust those chemicals with other chemicals with patents on them. On this basis of reductionism, a crack addict is the epitome of happiness.

A fifth objection is that some religious people believe in really stupid stuff and seem detached from reality. I agree. This would be the world of Protestantism and New Age spirituality. The answer to these errors is Roman Catholicism. But even people who merely believe in God such as adherents of 12-Step programs for addiction receive benefit from their faith in God. I can personally attest that the Catholic faith is unflinchingly real.


Depression is a simple problem with a simple solution. People reject this diagnosis and solution because they reject God. Yet, what hope can atheistic therapies and philosophies offer? When you consider that God really is the answer to this problem, you feel both a longing and a hope in your breast. You can feel your heart wanting to leap for joy. God is real, and He cares. He has a plan for your life even if you don't understand that plan. But you can trust that plan because God is good and wants your ultimate good.

Ultimately, depressed people will reject my simple solution. They will dig themselves deeper into their pits of despair because they would rather be miserable than to love and trust God. And they would rather perish in that despair and suffer eternal damnation than open themselves to God's love and direction. Their defiance merely makes my point. Depression is anger at God.

Sad times will come in your life. There will be injustice and anger at that injustice. There will be grief. Yet, belief in God makes us capable of enduring these awful things. The depressed person can't find the hope or joy in the sunniest day. But someone with true faith in God can feel love, beauty, and happiness in a rainy day. God can turn any grief into joy. You just have to trust Him and let Him do His job. Your job is to trust the plan and flee atheism. If you do this, you will overcome that depression.


Charlie's Miscellaneous Tips for Living a Better Life

If coming up with ten ideas sounds too hard, then come up with twenty.

I toss out a lot of things here concerning many different topics. But I have a practical side that doesn't deal with philosophy, religion, economics, or politics. I have collected an assortment of practical tips over the years that serve me well. Some people call these things "life hacks," but I don't think they are that big of a deal. These are the small things that I do in my life that have big results. They are in no particular order of importance. I hope they help you.

1. Use a Chemex to make your regular coffee.

My brother-in-law is a coffee snob who has an espresso machine in his home. But when we asked him the best way to make a regular cup of coffee, he recommended a Chemex for us and even bought us one. Initially, I was a skeptic preferring my filth ridden Mister Coffee. But I was won over after tasting the difference the Chemex made in the coffee. Plus, the Chemex is simple and easy to clean. We have been using this thing for years now, and we don't care to change.

I bought a cheap French press once from a Winn-Dixie grocery store in Georgia during my travels. I thought it would be a nice way to make coffee on the road. When I knocked back my first cup, I could feel the grounds in my teeth. Maybe an expensive one would do the trick with finer mesh, but it can't do the same job as a paper filter. Pour over is where it is at.

2. Go with a desktop computer.

I have owned one laptop computer in my life. I can't count the Chromebook I bought because my wife took that for herself. There is only one advantage to having a laptop computer, and this is portability. Otherwise, a laptop is junk.

You can't change the keyboard on a laptop. You can use an external keyboard and plug it in, but this is one step towards a desktop. Then, I see people using an external mouse because those trackpads are awful. Finally, they go ahead and get a wide monitor. You now have a desktop computer.

I have seen many similar set ups to this one. It amounts to a professional chef using a Swiss army knife in the kitchen because he doesn't want to buy a real knife. Likewise, people who use their laptops as desktops just don't want to buy a real computer.

A desktop machine allows you to change your peripherals or make upgrades to your machine because of its modular nature. This is why you should never buy an iMac because it is no better than a laptop with its all in one design. That was just some fetish of Steve Jobs who is now dead leaving the world to break free of his lunacy. Even Apple makes an overpriced modular machine.

With a desktop, you have more options. You can use a different mouse. You can change your screen. You can replace your keyboard when it breaks, wears out, or you spill coffee in it like I did one time. When you upgrade, you can keep the same peripherals you have come to love. And you can open your machine and change things or fix things as needed.

If you must buy a laptop, just get the cheapest one they make or get a Chromebook to supplement your desktop experience. You won't cry when the screen breaks. As for tablets, these are not real computers despite the hype claims Apple makes about the iPad. They are toys for people too lazy to sit at a desk.

3. Use a sun shade in your car.

I have been using these things for decades now. They work. They protect the car's interior, and the inside of the car is not nearly as hot. I don't know why more people don't use them.

4. Get a cheap backpack.

I have owned three backpacks that I can recall in my life. The first two were from L.L. Bean that I used in high school and college. The second one lasted into my post-college adult life because it had a leather bottom. I have no clue where it is at today. But the third one I bought over ten years ago from Walmart from the sporting goods section. That bag wasn't nearly as expensive as those Bean bags but has held up very well for me. I think it cost me less than $30. It was one of those camouflage bags the hunters would use. I have used that bag as a gym bag, luggage, book bag, day hike bag, and briefcase. It does everything.

A competitor to the backpack would be an Indiana Jones style satchel bag. Messenger bags are similar in style and function to the satchel. I tried a bag like that in college, but it doesn't hold very much stuff. Then, everyone laughs at your "man purse." The satchel doesn't have as much utility as a backpack.

I prefer a cheap camo bag because no one wants to steal the thing. Your expensive North Face bag or tactical Goruck sack becomes a target for thieves. But in an urban environment, a camo bag is an eyesore. Its cheapness and ugliness make it less attractive and easier to catch the thief in a crowd of people.

5. Bring your own cup.

We got an Ozark Trail tumbler from a family member as a gift. The cup is a copy of a Yeti tumbler, but it works exactly the same for way less money. I didn't think it was an awesome cup, but I have to admit that the thing has paid for itself as we use it often and bring our own drinks when we are out and about. It keeps ice for a long time, and you can top it off at a water fountain or from your own water bottle. Fountain drinks from the convenience store are expensive and wasteful.

6. Wear work clothes.

The problem with fashionable clothing is that it only lasts for a season. I have bought all sorts of fashionable and colorful clothing in my younger days and would laugh at the older men that wore the blue work pants and blue work shirts. I remember the old men in my family wearing these clothes forever. They never changed. Now, I wear those clothes and prefer them now.

I didn't plan this thing. The work clothes accumulated while the more fashionable threads got tossed out. Then, I stopped buying fashionable clothing altogether and just wore what was in the closet which was a collection of work clothes from all of the jobs I had done over the years.

The benefits of this clothing strategy is that you save money on clothing. Work clothes are more durable and never change in style. It doesn't bother you if they get torn or stained a bit. And you feel a certain freedom in being able to just do the things you want to do without messing up your threads.

Will you look like an auto mechanic everywhere you go? Yes, but I had someone say this to me the other day. "You wear Dickies? I love Dickies. They are so cool." Yes, they are cool and will always be cool. You just need to wait for the rest of the world to catch up to this fact.

7. Use isometric exercises.

It can be hard to get in any kind of exercise if you work at a desk or behind the wheel of a vehicle. But you don't need a gym or equipment to get in some strengthening exercises. Learn about isometrics and use them. When I am at my desk, I will sit with legs straight out and hold them for long periods of time. If you sit at the edge of the chair, you can feel it in your abs. If you surf the net, have some kind of squeeze device like a ball or a gripper that you can compress and hold. This will strengthen your grip. You can also Google other exercises you can do virtually anywhere.

8. Get a vertical mouse.

My wife worked in an office, and she was developing a nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome. So, she bought a vertical mouse, and the carpal tunnel symptoms vanished for her. She left that job after they demanded she take a yearly flu shot, so she packed up that funny looking mouse. Recently, I dug it out of the clutter storage and put it to use because I was getting the numbness in my hands and fingers. My symptoms vanished since using this thing. It took a little while to get used to, but it was worth it.

9. Cook rice like pasta.

Cooking rice has always been a nightmare for me. I would dutifully measure out the right ratio of water to rice, but the rice would still end up burnt and stuck to the bottom of pan. I remember breaking down and buying one of those fancy Asian rice cookers, but this is just kitchen clutter. Then, my genius brother-in-law with the Chemex clued us in on cooking rice. Just put extra water in it and cook it like pasta. When it is done cooking, just strain the rice like you would with spaghetti. That tip has been a game changer for us. We haven't burnt the rice since, and it tastes no different.

10. Buy cheap garden gloves for winter gloves.

The problem with expensive gloves is that you are certain to lose one of them. I had some $40 gloves I bought ages ago. Finally, one went missing, and I could not find it despite searching for it. I blamed my wife for this because she is the scapegoat for all of my shortcomings, but it is really a law of the universe. The likelihood of losing a glove increases in direct proportion to their cost. So, I buy cheap garden gloves for a couple of dollars. If I lose one, I keep the other one and buy another pair. I follow a similar strategy with work gloves choosing the cheapest ones I can find at Harbor Freight. Gloves are just socks for your hands.

11. Use a table for a desk.

Decades ago, I had a real desk. It was one of those heavy desks with the drawers on both sides. The thing weighed a ton. It was so big that you had to remove the legs to get it through the door. But the dealbreaker for me was bashing my knees over and over on those drawers on the side.

I got the desk secondhand from a guy who just gave it to me as long as I came and got it. I would end up doing the same thing giving mine to whoever would come and take the thing away. A desk and a table achieve the same end except the table is more forgiving to the knees. If you need the storage space, get a milk crate to put beside the table for your stuff.

12. Use lemon pine cleaner as a bathroom freshener.

When you poop, it smells up the bathroom. This is not a problem if you live alone, but it is bad if you share a bathroom. You can use fans, air fresheners, and kitchen matches. They help some, but I discovered the trick one day. I took some lemon scented pine cleaner and poured it in the bowl. It wasn't a large amount, but it was enough to change the fragrance in the room. Plus, it helps keep the bowl clean. We took an old squirt ketchup bottle and filled it up with the pine cleaner. Then, we squirt some in the bowl every time we drop a deuce. That, Gentle Reader, was a game changer. Try it for yourself and smell the difference.

13. Eat oatmeal for breakfast.

We live in an age of low carb mania, and I think this is stupid. Carbohydrate is your body's preferred fuel source. If you are more into eggs, bacon, and sausage for breakfast, you need to rethink this. As for cereals, they are expensive, and you only get three good bowls out of a box of cereal. As for pancakes, they take too long to make. But oatmeal is ridiculously cheap, prepared fast, can take a lot of extra ingredients for flavor, and gives you a massive wallop of work fuel.

I try to get the generic oatmeal when I can because I want to save even more money. But I will buy a canister of Quaker oats if that is all that is available. I pour them in a bowl, add water, and nuke them in the microwave for two minutes. Then, I add sugar, cinnamon, honey, black strap molasses, sliced bananas, and a spoonful of peanut butter. That quick breakfast has fueled many days for me.

14. Get an Opinel No. 8 knife.

Every man should carry a pocket knife. The problem comes down to which knife. Should it be a Swiss army knife? An Old Timer knife? A super expensive Buck knife? A tactical folder? You can dismiss all of these questions by dropping fifteen bucks on an Opinel No. 8 knife. I have bought one for myself and two for family members. Everyone loves them. I have owned and used various knives over the years, and the Opinel is my favorite. I have used mine many times, and it holds a razor sharp edge for a long time.

15. Wear two pairs of socks at the same time.

If you have a problem with blisters on your feet, an easy cure is to wear two pairs of socks. The inner pair should be a pair of cheap acrylic dress socks. The outer pair should be a regular pair of socks that you normally wear. This strategy reduces friction on your skin.

16. Wear black socks.

All of my socks are black. This strategy saves me from trying to match my socks after I do laundry. I toss them loose into a drawer and wear whatever ones I grab.

17. Eat sunflower seeds while driving.

A long haul truck driver recommended this to me as a way to combat drowsiness while driving. The action of having the seeds in your mouth and shelling them occupies your mind enough to prevent boredom which leads to drowsiness and possibly dozing off at the wheel.

18. Use your phone's camera as a memory device.

No one thinks to do this, but it can save you a lot of hassle. When you check into a hotel room, take a picture of the room number. If you park in a large lot, take a picture of signs or lot numbers to remember where you parked. If you are going to take apart something for a DIY car repair, take a picture or two before you start, so you will know how it goes back together.

19. Text your email account.

I send text messages to myself all of the time. These might be reminders, ideas for the blog, things to add to my To Do list, or a new contact. When I check my email, the information is there waiting for me. This is better than writing notes in a forgotten notebook.

20. Get a European wallet.

Men's wallets from Europe have different dimensions than men's wallets in the USA. I suspect that it has something to do with the different dimensions of the currency. I just know that the Euro wallet is deeper and has more room. My particular wallet also has two zippered compartments. You can put a lot of things in there.


That's it for my tips. I thought up 20 things that make my life better. I hope they make your life better, too.


The Positive Power of Unintimidation

Show me a hero and I'll show you a bum.

I do not believe in confidence. Confidence is a weird thing because it may make you bold, or it may be the hubris before the fall. It may provide the inspiration to try great things, or it may make you a sucker for the latest scam. When it is all said and done, confidence is just a trick of the mind which may end up with you being the one tricked. I believe in something better than confidence. I believe in unintimidation.

Unintimidation is a word I have kludged for the benefit of this discussion. I could use other terms like hardness. Here is what Nathaniel Fick had to say about hardness:
“Hardness," I was learning, was the supreme virtue among recon Marines. The greatest compliment one could pay to another was to say he was hard. Hardness wasn't toughness, nor was it courage, although both were part of it. Hardness was the ability to face an overwhelming situation with aplomb, smile calmly at it, and then triumph through sheer professional pride.
You can see in this quotation that Fick was searching for a term as well, so he settled on hardness. But even that word doesn't quite capture it. So, I think unintimidation is a better word. I will see if I can describe it better than he did.

No fighting force in the world captures the spirit of unintimidation like the United States Marine Corps. The USMC is a small fighting force being under the Department of the Navy and answering to that service branch. They have a small budget. Their equipment is outdated. They don't have all of the latest technology. Yet, they are incredibly tough and think nothing of taking on anyone at anytime. They never back down from a fight, and they never give up. You might beat a Marine, but you'll die with him. That is a promise.

Confidence is best exemplified by the Navy SEALs. The SEALs are an elite force, and many would argue that they are the top force in the United States arsenal. Plus, they will tell you themselves that they are the best. People who wish to become a Navy SEAL must endure a grueling course where they suffer various forms of torture and prove their mettle by not ringing a bell. If you ring the bell, you must live with the shame that you were a quitter. There's some deep psychology going on with that bell. But if you make it without ringing that bell, you have entered the hallowed ranks of bad asses. You can do anything in the world. This is confidence.

What is the value of confidence? It will make you go on suicide missions because you can't quit. You would lose your rank as a bad ass if you did. Then, if you survive the mission, you can pen a bestseller with a ghost writer, make millions from selling the movie rights to your book, and be known forever as a Navy SEAL bad ass. Meanwhile, Delta Force members won't divulge any details of their missions or even admit that they belong to Delta. But that is a topic for another discussion. Needless to say, the Hollywood treatment is eroding the status of the SEALs in the special forces community.

I used to be mesmerized by the mystique of the Navy SEALS. I just thought they were totally awesome fighters who could do anything. That mystique was punctured in the late 90s when I watched a team of SEALs compete in the Eco-Challenge and lose spectacularly. This race would be won by a bunch of middle aged hippies from New Zealand. The SEALs had to be rescued from the water. It was very humiliating for them. The one woman ultrarunner on the team that was required to meet the both sexes rule of the race ended up leading and basically dragging these SEALs over the course. They were not cut out for this type of ultra-endurance event.

What did I learn about the SEALs from this failure? I learned that confidence is crap. Confidence is a type of brainwashing that makes you do things you probably cannot or should not do. This brainwashing can be inflicted from without or even self-inflicted. It comes in handy when you need people to go on missions that have a high probability of death. This psychology of pride and confidence will make these men too ashamed to say no.

The psychology of Marines is quite different from that of the Navy SEALs. The Marines begin their journey in a rite of abject humiliation known as basic training. It is universally acknowledged that the Marines have the most brutal boot camp of any of the services with Parris Island taking a special place of privilege as a crucible second only to Hell itself. There is no bell here. You don't get to ring out. You are there, and they are going to demolish you and rebuild you. In that process, they take recruits and fashion them into that weird creature known as a United States Marine.

Marines have a very different mindset. They never forget their humiliation, but they also know they survived it. They become warriors with a different spirit based upon the steady sureness of who they are as Marines. They are not worried about humiliation because they have already been there. They will even share stories of those humiliations, and they take a weird pride in having endured them. Are you a bad ass if you began life as a loathsome maggot?

The Marines are not fond of elite units. One of their famous unofficial slogans is that "berets are for sissies." For a long time, the elite units of the USMC were Recon and Force Recon. They were considered elite simply because they were the tip of the tip of the spear. It means they went ahead of their fellow Marines for the purpose of gathering intel to send back to their command. Their missions were considered successful if they never fired a shot because this gunfire would give them away.

Over the last decade, the Pentagon tasked the Marines with putting together an elite force on par with the Navy SEALs and the Delta Force that would answer to SOCOM. The Marines have always been reluctant to do this sort of thing claiming that all Marines were already elite. Why create an elite within an elite? But they had to follow orders, and this is how the Marine Raiders were reborn. In World War II, the Raiders were Marines commissioned to do highly dangerous missions. They were disbanded after World War II. I get the feeling the USMC would like to disband them again. The commando stuff doesn't fit with the Marine Corps psychology.

All Marines including the ones peeling potatoes and cleaning latrines are trained to fight in the infantry. All Marines must be able to handle a rifle and be willing to fight. This produces in them a mixture of humility and toughness. If you doubt this, consider the most famous Marine of all time--Gomer Pyle.

Gomer Pyle should be an insult to the Marine Corps, but I have never met a Marine that didn't take it all in good humor. The Gomer Pyle thing is so linked to the Marines that Stanley Kubrick references it in Full Metal Jacket with the Private Pyle character. That movie was not as funny as the TV show. But it captures the humiliation of boot camp.

With the SEALs, the most embarrassing thing for them was the dust up between Jesse Ventura and Chris Kyle. Jesse would sue Kyle's widow in court for defamation because of things Kyle wrote in his book, American Sniper. Both men served as SEALs, but they have some strange personalities. Chris Kyle was a genuine war hero but also a pathological liar with stories of him embellishing his records in the military and stories outside of the military. He claimed to have punched Ventura in the face after saying that Ventura had said some really bad stuff about the SEALs. This was a total fabrication by Chris Kyle, and this is what led to the defamation suit which Ventura won. But the conventional wisdom is that two SEAL egos clashed and embarrassed each other in the process.

Why did a genuine hero like Kyle turn into such a liar? The answer goes back to confidence. Even when you're already a bad ass, you have to keep trying to convince yourself and others that you are a bad ass. But Pappy Boyington got it right. Show him a hero, and he would show you a bum. Both Kyle and Ventura show the truth in what Pappy was saying.

Confidence is merely a cover for insecurity. The people who seek confidence are trying to overcome this insecurity. But the insecurity is always there. It is the fear of humiliation. Consequently, this fear leads to timidity. It leads to fear of the truth about yourself or your situation. And this fear is overcome with denial.

Unintimidation is different because it embraces the truth about yourself, your situation, and other people. This is what Marines discover in boot camp. They find out the truth about themselves. I don't think the SEALs find anything except the fear of ringing that bell. This is what Eric Stevens wrote about the Marines:
What the Marines understand is the same thing the greatest teachers and coaches understand - success happens through failure. You must first learn humility to learn confidence. You must first feel powerless to truly feel powerful. You must first have intrinsic self-knowledge to obtain lasting extrinsic success. In other words, getting ‘there’ is a sacrifice.
Marines leave boot camp knowing they are tough. This remains with them. They have been rebuilt and reprogrammed. Once you have tasted failure and humiliation, you don't fear those things anymore. You don't think about them anymore. You just think about accomplishing the mission. Then, when it gets accomplished, you don't brag about it. It's just another day in your life.

The best example of unintimidation in the Bible is the story of David and Goliath. Goliath had confidence because he was so big and had his big weapons. He liked to brag and mock and challenged the Israelites to a man to man fight. All of the Israelites were intimidated except for David. David was unintimidated. He was a humble keeper of the sheep and a nobody. But he believed in God, and he had already killed some big animals with that sling of his. Goliath was just another one of those big animals. David put that rock in Goliath's head and cut his head off. Goliath was just so much hype.

The conventional wisdom is that the little guy gets the crap beat out of him by the big guy. But big guys can get dropped by anyone at anytime. Their dirty secret is that they can't fight at all expecting their size to psych you into backing down.

Words like confidence, pride, hardness, and toughness seem interchangeable. This is because these terms are not used with the precision I am using here. Essentially, confidence is hubris covering weakness while unintimidation is humility covering fortitude. With the story of David and Goliath, the man with confidence would have fought Goliath straight up with sword and shield and gotten slaughtered. This person would have been self-deluded. David was humble and eschewed the armor and sword because he didn't know how to use them. He knew his strength was in that sling, and he knew where Goliath's weakness was at and exploited it. Essentially, David didn't have the good sense to back down, but he did find a way to victory. This typifies the mindset of the Marine Corps. As for Goliath, his confidence was actually a weakness.

The power of unintimidation comes from knowing who you are truly and knowing that virtually everyone else in the world is full of crap. Confidence seeks admission to Yale and Harvard and scoring a high GPA. Unintimidation relies on hard work and a library card. Confidence buys a BMW on credit and pretends to be rich. Unintimidation buys a second hand pickup truck and works to become rich. In the end, unintimidation believes hard work beats hype.

The reason we have to use unintimidation as a term is in contrast to confidence. Let's face reality. Confidence wins and wins often. The reason confidence wins is because it psychs out the opposition. As long as everyone else is intimidated, confidence has an easy time of it. This ends when unintimidation walks through the door.

Marines have a reputation for being tough but also for being stupid. "Jarhead" has long been a slang term for Marines. The reason Marines are considered stupid is because they don't have the brains to quit. Marines are actually brilliant, but they reject the conventional wisdom that the victory goes to the bigger force. Marines use maneuver warfare instead of attrition warfare to exploit the weakness of an opponent. The real world self-defense system of Krav Maga employs the same strategy on an individual level.

People are desperate for confidence and will go to great lengths to acquire it. This is why so many kids pour into overpriced colleges chasing a piece of paper for the sake of looking smart when they could just work hard on becoming smart. Likewise, people will go to the gym and do CrossFit or slam heavy weights because they want to look fit instead of religiously adhering to calisthenics and running and actually becoming fit. They want the prize more than they want the Cracker Jacks in the box.

How do you get unintimidation? Here is a process for acquiring this valuable trait.

1. Become humble.

Unintimidation begins with humility. You have to start low to climb high. This means never thinking of anything as beneath you or thinking you are better than other people. Humility protects you from hubris. Always take the low place and never brag about yourself or your accomplishments. Other people will do that for you.

2. Choose simplicity.

Confidence loves complexity and sophistication. There is psychology at work there because we fear what we don't know. Fear ends when you realize that confidence doesn't know anything either. Keep your side of the equation simple because simplicity means effectiveness and zero bravo sierra. This is why AC/DC is better than King Crimson. They just plug in and rock.

3. Develop a blue collar work ethic.

Does hard work beat talent? It always does because talent is lazy. Talent means that it came easy, and easiness is the path to laziness. Resolve to rely on hard work instead of coasting on your talents.

4. Learn to identify the weaknesses in others.

You can usually find the weakness in others because they cover it with that hubris. This is just a nice way of finding out that most people are full of crap. Shock and awe is no match for unintimidation.

5. Embrace pain and suffering.

Toughness is forged in the crucible of suffering. When you become comfortable with the uncomfortable, this puts grit in your character. Make adversity your permanent home.

6. Resolve to never quit.

Toughness is nothing more than a refusal to throw in the towel. This is what Rocky Balboa resolved to do when he said he just wanted to go the distance with Apollo Creed. He was too stupid to lay down. Creed discovered he had a fight on his hands. That fight was confidence meeting unintimidation.

7. Never buy the hype.

Confidence focuses on style while unintimidation focuses on substance. Confidence is a pretty boy with gel in his hair. Unintimidation is a shaved head and a facial scar. Confidence is an empty box wrapped in shiny wrapping paper. Unintimidation is a gold bar wrapped in a plain brown wrapper.

8. No one is better than you.

No one is actually better than another person. They are simply different. Michael Jordan was the best basketball player but a mediocre baseball player. Most people are good at one or two things and very bad at everything else. Then, you have people who are competent at many things. People with talent and good fortune can be utter failures while people in wheelchairs can triumph. The point is that there is no comparison in a world of apples and oranges.

9. Give credit where credit is due.

If you can see the weaknesses and flaws in others, you must also appreciate their strengths and attempt to emulate those strengths and virtues in yourself. This keeps you from becoming a hater. The truly humble recognize true greatness and celebrate it.

10. Fuhgeddaboudit.

Confidence rests on its laurels. Unintimidation forgets about the victory mere moments after it was achieved. This is because excellence is a habit which is a fancy way of saying that you get used to winning and overcoming. You don't let it go to your head. Yesterday is over. Today is a new day. Do it all over again.


I will probably catch flak for some of the things I have written here, but I don't care. I am at the age where I don't buy the crap anymore. I know that truly great people are also truly humble. Conversely, those without humility are making up for some deficiency in themselves. You can keep selling the hype, but I'm not buying it. Just show me the men who are quietly getting the job done day in and day out. Those are my heroes. Everyone else is just a bum.


The Illusion of Security

And he said to them: Take heed and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life doth not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth.

Security is an illusion. Your life can be altered or ended in an instant by events that you cannot foresee. I know this from personal experience. The rich man's life can be ruined by nothing other than a fool playing on his smartphone behind the wheel of his car. The well-crafted life that man built can be turned to ruin in an instant in a car crash rendering him disabled for the rest of his life. Or, he could be killed in the accident. A prepper anticipating the zombie apocalypse stocks up his provisions and prepares his off grid cabin only to watch it go up in flames from a faulty lithium ion battery connected to his solar panels. The lesson from these examples is that your life rests purely in the hands of God.

Jesus gives us a lesson on these things in Luke 12 especially with the parable of the rich fool. Here it is:
And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. And he thought within himself, saying: What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said: This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and will build greater; and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God. And he said to his disciples: Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat; nor for your body, what you shall put on. The life is more than the meat, and the body is more than the raiment. 
This passage can be interpreted and misinterpreted in many ways. The grossest misinterpretation of this passage would be for people to abandon prudence and live like a drunken gambler in a Las Vegas casino. This would be the folly of the Cyrenaics who eat and drink and make merry because there is no tomorrow.

Another gross misinterpretation of this passage is to abandon prudence and become lazy in the expectation that God will provide everything. People neglect that God usually provides through secondary means, and one of those means is you. And He may let you starve to teach you the lesson to not be lazy.

The correct interpretation of this passage is to realize that your entire life is directed by God. Your relationship with God and the state of your soul are the most supremely important things in your life. Your life depends upon God. If God prospers you, this is Providence. And if God takes it away, this is also Providence.

Security is the illusion that you can build a life that is not dependent upon God. It is self-delusion because you cannot even control your own body. Right now, a blood clot may be traveling to your brain that will paralyze a side of your body or even kill you. What good are all your plans then?

The epistle of St. James gives us the proper mindset to have in regards to our plans:
Behold, now you that say: Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and there we will spend a year, and will traffic, and make our gain.Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is a vapour which appeareth for a little while, and afterwards shall vanish away. For that you should say: If the Lord will, and if we shall live, we will do this or that. 
We should make plans and live as we have always lived in that regard doing our work and living prudently. But we must also live by the caveat that all we do depends upon the Lord's will. Nothing happens to us except by God's direction.

The problem is that people never think about God. They never think about their souls or make provisions for their eternal destinies. Or, they forget about God usually in their prosperity or their anxiety about things. In the long stretches of time and eternity, our present world is but a mere blip and our lives are just a speck on that blip.

The proper attitude to have is the one Jesus told us to have. Put first the kingdom and righteousness. Take care of your souls. Here are our Lord's words on the matter:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom. Sell what you possess and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands. 
What does putting the kingdom first look like? I have taken wisdom from an Amish man who said that if you read the newspaper each morning then you will think like the newspaper each morning. But if you read the Bible each morning, then you will think like the Bible. I think you should read both the Bible and that newspaper with the Bible dictating your thoughts about what you read in that newspaper.

People with the illusion of security think they have all of their problems solved while those with anxiety think they can get to a place of security where all of their problems will be solved. Both are stupid. There is no end to problems in this life.

You should get up each day and say your prayers and read the Bible. Then, go to work for that day. Finally, you should come home and forget your cares for awhile as you return to those prayers. Your problems will be waiting for you again tomorrow. Cast your cares upon the Lord. Provide for your body but also provide for your soul. As long as your soul is covered, that is what truly matters. But if your soul is lost, nothing else matters. Obey God and take it all one day at a time.


The TMI Report

I'm vegan which means I poop three times a day.

This post is about a sensitive topic. This topic would be poop. This is why it is titled "The TMI Report" because I am going to share way too much information. If this is something you can't handle, you need to abandon ship now. Otherwise, proceed with caution and know that you were warned.

One day at work, this kind lady I worked with asked me if I had any Pepto-Bismol. I thought this was kinda odd because I never thought about it or considered it. When was the last time I had bought a bottle of the pink stuff? I realized it had been years. I never used the stuff anymore. I also don't buy it or keep any on hand along with other digestive remedies like Milk of Magnesia. Tums, Rolaids, Alka-Seltzer, or Ex-Lax. We just don't have this stuff in our home.

I asked the lady about her distress, and she said that she had an "upset stomach." This is just a polite way of saying that she had explosive diarrhea. She was in danger of crapping herself with a full work day ahead of her. I also know this lady eats a lot of crap in her diet. She is not alone. Virtually everyone else in our workplace eats a similar diet with similar results. This has lead to many epic stories over the years.

One fellow was out on his route when he crapped his pants. Someone took pity on him and went to Walmart to buy him some clean underwear and a fresh pair of pants. Another fellow stopped at a popular barbecue place for lunch and ended up literally painting the walls of the men's restroom at work with diarrhea. For everyone else, it has been day long distress and close calls. I have also heard horror stories from other people with similar situations on their jobs. Why does this happen?

I told the kind lady with the squirts that she needed to stop eating crap and eat a plant based diet. I shared this information which no one takes because once upon a time I had similar issues. I would keep a bottle of Pepto going in my refrigerator at all times and went through a bottle per month. I would buy the two packer to save money on the Pepto. I was also a fan of Imodium. This was when I was a meathead eating the standard american diet or what I call the drive thru diet.

When I was eating crap, diarrhea was a chronic condition of my life. I had more close calls than I can count and some that I flat out missed. It was awful. Looking back, I can't believe I ever went through that needless suffering for decades of my life. Virtually every person I know goes through this same distress. It doesn't have to be this way.

The reason people who eat crap have these problems is because the human digestive system is not made for digesting meat. It is made for digesting plants. When you have meat, dairy, and eggs in your diet, your gut has to produce extra bile to break down the fats and animal protein in your gut. This has the effect of liquifying everything else in your gut. This still doesn't get the job done.

Meat is mostly digested in the colon by the bacteria living there. Essentially, you have a decaying animal corpse in your guts. This leads to all sorts of intestinal issues and inflammation. Your body rids itself of pathogens and irritants by shutting down and expunging it as diarrhea. This is why people with dysentery end up with diarrhea and dying from dehydration. The body is trying to save itself by expunging the offending element.

When you eat crap, your body tries to preserve itself by getting it out as quickly as possible. This is why you get upset stomach and diarrhea. You can provoke this response every time you eat a Whopper with cheese meal from Burger King. Don't ask me how I know this.

When I went vegan, I did so with trepidation. I thought all of the extra fiber I got would cause me to have diarrhea on steroids sort of like what happens when you drink prune juice. I was worried about this, but it was a needless worry. As I adjusted to the new way of eating, things settled down in my stomach. My daily episode of diarrhea vanished. I no longer felt pain in my guts or had upset stomach. I kept that bottle of Pepto on hand just in case, but I finally threw it out when it had expired. I haven't bought a bottle of it since then.

Have I had problems since then? Of course. One time, I caught some 24 hour stomach bug which upset my stomach. Another time, I ate an entire bag of Superfruit jelly beans. The excess vitamin C stimulated an episode of diarrhea. Another time, I ate three tablespoons of flax seed which had a stimulating effect on my colon. That was three episodes in seven years. This was quite different from three to five episodes per week on the old diet.

Before I went vegan, I cleaned up my diet a bit by switching to grilled chicken and fish. I ate turkey sandwiches. None of this clean eating made any difference in my gastrointestinal issues. I would still get diarrhea. As for constipation, I could count on this if I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread. I ate four of these in one day because I was poor and didn't have money for groceries. Later, I thought I was giving birth to a cinder block.

The constipation issue appears to be an issue for people trying out the new carnivore diet. This is where you eat nothing but meat. Is it stupid? You betcha. And one of the worst aspects of it is that all that meat with zero fiber plugs you up. One guy on the Joe Rogan podcast candidly admitted that he blew out his butthole with this carnivore insanity. This is what made him switch to a vegan diet.

Since switching to a vegan diet, I poop two to three times a day. These are healthy movements with no strain or distress. I would characterize them as downright delightful. And I don't have close calls where I am about to crap myself. If there is a downside to this program, you will go through some toilet paper. I use more than the average person because I crap more than the average person. But I would rather buy toilet paper than go back to the intestinal nightmare of my old diet.

Gas is another issue. The first thing I noticed was that I had way more gas. This definitely comes from eating beans, tofu, broccoli, and other gas building plant foods,.When I break wind now, it is very loud due to the high volume of air exiting my butthole. But the smell is not nearly as bad as when I had decaying animal flesh in my guts. The result is that I have twice the sound and none of the fury.

Overall, my health and well being have improved tremendously on a vegan diet. The most noticeable effect has definitely been with my digestion. If this was the only benefit I ever received from being vegan, then it was the worth the switch because I suffered tremendously in the old days. I don't suffer now.

As an epilogue, we had a friend over who basically eats the way I used to eat. Not only does she avail herself of the various remedies for digestive issues mentioned in this post, but she keeps a "sh*t kit" in the glove box of her car in case of accidents. Basically, it is a ziploc bag with wet wipes and a clean pair of underwear. It is sad that people are reduced to such things. We had her over to our home and fed her a meal of the same things I eat. She candidly admitted that it resulted in the most massive poop of her life. It was so big that she could have named it. It totally cleaned her out. Unfortunately, she did not use the multi-flush approach I use which resulted in our toilet getting backed up. Otherwise, I am happy that she got to experience for one time what I do three times a day or more.

In conclusion, I know this post definitely lived up to its advertising as the TMI Report. You probably wished you had not read to this point, but you did. All I can tell you is that I warned you. I have sacrificed a large part of my personal dignity to deliver this vital message to you, Gentle Reader. If you're living on Pepto-Bismol and have embarrassed yourself with unfortunate events requiring a change of clothing, I am telling you that it doesn't have to be this way. I have heard stories of people who reversed their Crohn's disease on a plant based diet. You owe it to yourself to go vegan. Otherwise, you're stuck with a really crappy life.


John the Baptist Syndrome

 For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a just and holy man: and kept him, and when he heard him, did many things: and he heard him willingly.

John the Baptist was an uncompromising man. He fearlessly spoke the truth. In the case of Herod, the truth was that Herod was in a sham marriage to Herodias. John had called out the man, and Herod could not tolerate this truth. So, Herod tossed John the Baptist into his jail if for no other reason than to silence him. Yet, Herod did not have the will to finish the persecution of John the Baptist with execution. Instead, he kept John around and liked to listen to the guy talk. That is very peculiar stuff, and it is a condition I can only call "John the Baptist Syndrome."

John the Baptist Syndrome or JBS is where you have a person or persons who have a real antipathy for truth tellers mixed with a strange attraction. You can tell that Pilate had a similar reaction to Jesus. Pilate was not a good guy, yet he desperately did not want to kill this man. But he did anyway.

It is the fate of all prophets to die as martyrs and then to be venerated after their deaths and have their words preserved often by the very people that killed them. This weirdness comes from the nature of truth itself. Truth has the odd quality of being both upsetting and comforting at the same time.

Comedians know about this odd nature of the truth. The best comics confront and upset us with the truth about ourselves, others, and society. This is a tradition that hearkens back to the court jesters of old who had the unique privilege of saying exactly what they thought to the king. This amounted to dancing over the opening to an adder's lair, but they did it then and continue to do it today. But we live in a mirthless age where political correctness threatens comedy. Every comedian is one joke away from career ruin.

I doubt John the Baptist made Herod laugh. But John certainly made Herod hear the truth which is always a consolation even when it is bitter. This brings us to our next truth teller--the pundit. The pundit is usually a person who comments on politics and presents a worldview and a perspective on the day's events. Pundits are usually not funny though some are given to mirth like P.J. O'Rouke. Pundits give unpopular opinions and develop a thick skin on things. Their ruination comes when they fail to speak the truth or speak falsely. This happens as time elapses, and the pundit's words begin to ring hollow. This is why left wing pundits do not have long careers while right wing pundits persist for decades.

The final truth tellers are saints. These holy men and women are the most upsetting to us. They point out our sins, but they also point to the remedy found in Christ. They speak with the same authority as those Old Testament prophets. They ring the bell and sound the alarm. They are not always heeded, but they do gain a following and vindication. Saints shake up a world that needs shaking up.

To tell the truth, you have to be resigned to people not liking you. It's not an easy job being a prophet. It comes at the heavy cost of hatred, persecution, and martyrdom. And that is the weirdest part of the deal. The world professes hatred for liars but worships and adores them. It professes love for the truth tellers but treats them very shabbily. In the end, there is regret for having persecuted the truth and believed the lies.

We all must face the truth and make a choice about what we will do with that truth. With Herod, his choice came when he made a rash vow to that harlot Salome. Under the direction of Herodias, Salome demanded the Baptist's head on a platter making John the first martyr for marriage. You would see this same thing play out again with Saint Thomas More who was knighted and is venerated today by the very Protestant country that murdered him. It is such a recurring thing as to be tragic. But sometimes, the truth is received. This would be Nathan calling out King David for his adultery and murder. David listened and became repentant. Likewise, the people of Nineveh listened to Jonah.

JBS is when people can't make up their minds. They want the truth, but they do not want to be obedient to the truth. They love to listen to truth, but they never go beyond just listening. They can't make a choice about that truth until that choice is made for them as it was for both Herod and Pilate. People with JBS choose the wrong path inevitably. They will tease you with the possibility of a change of heart and mind, but their hesitation on these matters shows their lack of sincerity. John the Baptist was just entertainment for Herod.

If a person hears the truth and does not move immediately towards that truth, they are lost. Unlike the one who rejects the truth immediately, the person with JBS just drags it out for as long as they can. They are damned. You know it, and I know it. The person with JBS knows it, too. The truth is just a pleasant way to waste the time before eternal damnation.

If you suffer from JBS, you need to make up your mind and stop wasting time. Quit being half ass. I respect the robust and unapologetic sinner because they at least respect my time enough to not waste it. But the JBS sufferer is a doubleminded person incapable of doing what they know needs to be done. This is pathetic. And that is the one kind thing I will say about Herodias. She wasn't doubleminded. She wanted the Baptist's head on that platter. There was no beating around the bush for her. She seized her opportunity for evil. It is unfortunate that so many people cannot seize the same opportunity for good with the same zeal.