Craig’s Reading List

I enjoy reading but go through periods where I’m not reading as much as I’d like. I used to write “book reports” after I finished a book and post them here, but I got out of that habit. In the last year and a half I’ve kicked up my reading again but I know I’ll never getting around to writing my old book reports, so here’s a list of what I’ve read recently. Most recently read books are on top; the list starts at the beginning of 2019, which is at the bottom.


Searching for Bobby Fischer
By: Fred Waitzkin

After reading The Immortal Game, we re-watched the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, one of our favorites from the 80’s. Audible offered me the book for free, so I read it. The movie is more interesting; the book wanders quite a bit and the reading of it is the worst of any Audible title I’ve listened to. Sentences are repeated (I think they’re unedited alternative takes) and the reader inserts “umms” and “uhs” to make it sound like he’s just speaking off the cuff instead of reading a book.

The Immortal Game: A History of Chess
By: David Shenk

Shenk uses one of the classic chess games in history, a game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky in 1851, as a framework for telling the 1400-year history of the game. Anderssen sacrificed both rooks, a bishop, and his queen then checkmated Kieseritzky (who lost only 3 pawns) in 22 moves in an informal game during a break in the first world championship chess tournament in London.

Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy
By: Ben Macintyre

Ursula Kuczynski aka “agent Sonya” is probably the 20th century’s most successful spy who you’ve never heard of. From China to Poland, Switzerland, and the English countryside, Kuczynski was involved in everything from an attempted assassination of Hitler to transferring US nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, all while raising a family of three children with three different fathers without revealing her clandestine activities.

ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World’s First Computer
BY: Scott McCartney

It’s hard to come to a solid conclusion about the “invention” of the computer. You have to ignore a few people who had some very good ideas a very long time ago and ignore the shortcomings of the machines we look back on as “computers” (such as whether or not they were able to run stored programs or were built for a dedicated purpose). Depending on whose work you ignore, you come to different conclusions. This is one such conclusion.

Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939–1943
By: David Kahn

Yet another book about code-breaking in WWII.

AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War
By: Tom McNichol

Ironically, after settling on 120 VAC (at least here in the US) to run your light bulbs and washing machines, we convert a whole lot of AC into DC and heat to run our computers, TVs, cars, and mobile devices.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
By: Hampton Sides

The tale of one of the last polar expeditions that fell for the unfounded idea that once you got past the ring of ice that surrounded the North Pole, you’d find a tropical polar sea. And that you could get there by going to an island north of Siberia and just walking. Needless to say, it didn’t work out well. A tragic adventure story with a bit of a surprise ending.

Waco: A Survivor’s Story
By: David Thibodeau

David Thibodeau met David Koresh as a 24-year-old musician and ended up moving to Waco to live in Koresh’s commune. He was one of 9 survivors of the mass murder of their community committed by Janet Reno’s FBI on April 19, 1993, and one of only 2 who didn’t serve any jail time on false charges that were trumped up to cover the failure of the government to honor the rights of its citizens.

This is a fascinating inside account that doesn’t sugar-coat the moral failures of Koresh, but which tells the story of real people who just wanted to learn more about the Bible from someone they believed knew more about it than they did. This was not a suicide cult, not an apocalyptic doomsday cult, and arguably, not a cult at all (though I would be one of those arguing about that last point).

This was a very interesting book. Netflix has a six-part miniseries based on a combination of this book and one written by the lead FBI negotiator.

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity
By: Carlo Rovelli

My total knowledge of string theory and loop quantum gravity comes from the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This book makes the case for the latter and does so in a way that non-physicists can understand. That being said, this is heady stuff.

For example, one might imagine that if one built a room, that there are an infinite number of volumes that the room could be. That is, you could divide the room in half as many times as you’d like and you’d never reach the smallest possible volume of the room. Turns out that’s wrong. Not only is there a minimum volume of space, but physicists can tell you how big it is. (It’s got like 19 or 20 zeros after the decimal, so it’s really small.)

Think about space. In between the galaxies (which themselves are huge) are enormous volumes of empty space. What is in space? There’s no air; there’s no gasses of any kind. Maybe some single atoms or molecules every once in a while, but what is “empty” space made up of?

In high school we learned that light has properties of both waves and particles. Turns out “space” does, too. The waves are what we think of as gravity. The particles, or quanta of gravity, are what constitutes space.

Is there an end to the universe? How big is it? Think about our three-dimensional planet. If you set out in one direction and walk in a straight line, you’ll end up right back where you started . Turns out space works the same way. Take off in a straight line with the Earth behind you, and you will eventually be back to Earth.

Yep, reality is stranger than you think.

The Story of Human Language
BY: John McWhorter

This is an Audible book, part of the Great Courses series. It’s about 25-30 hours of 30-minute lectures on human language. This book changed the way I think about language.

Since Bible publishing is my field, I’ve had to come to terms with the idea that every Bible I’ve read is a translation of the original text (which was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). The original languages are no longer spoken except as an academic exercise. Even worse, the characters in the Gospels were probably speaking Aramaic originally, and their words were translated to Greek to be written down. So when we read the words of Jesus, we have to recognize that he’s been translated and re-translated before we read him.

So I have some understanding of the challenges of language and how languages differ. But this book introduced me to how language evolves. You’ll find I’m trying harder now not to argue about “farther” vs. “further”, “on accident” vs. “by accident”, and “ask” vs. “axe”. Just as climate changes, and to argue that the climate as it existed at a certain time is “ideal” and that we should strive to return to that, so does language change, and to argue that we should freeze the “rules” of language at any given instant and force everyone to speak it that way is just spitting into the wind.

Brave new World
BY: Aldous Huxley

I often say that if, in fact, God is directly involved in human affairs, then his giving of Star Wars to George Lucas was his greatest mistake. Star Wars is built on a great premise, but fell apart somewhere in the process of moving from Lucas’s brain to script to screen.

After reading 1984 I figured I should read the other dystopian-future book that most people read in high school but I somehow missed. Brave New World is built on an interesting premise but just isn’t well written. Again, it’s a great idea placed in the hands of a bad writer. There are so many more interesting things that could have happened to the characters. The characters could have actually grown and changed as a result of their experiences. But none of that happened.

Definitely not worth the time.

Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and my Father, Warren Jeffs
By: Rachel Jeffs

Years ago I read John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, which details the history of Mormon fundamentalism. That book led me to the conclusion that what you and I know as “Mormons” (members of the Latter-Day Saints Church) are watered-down posers. Real, Joseph-Smith Mormonism is to be found only in the child-raping, prophet-following fundamentalist versions of the LDS Church, the most famous of which is Warren Jeffs’ hebephilic cult, which he continues to run from his prison cell near Palestine Texas, where he’s severing life-plus-20 for sexual assault of a child.

This book lacks the in-depth analysis of the theology of the FLDS cult that makes Unfollow so good, though it does address it from a practical side. For example, the author doesn’t argue the scriptural basis for doubting her father’s claim to the title of God’s prophet, but instead argues that a man who molests his own daughters can’t possibly be getting revelation directly from God.

This is an interesting view from the inside of a cult and is a very quick read. Audible thought I’d like it after reading Unfollow, but they’re very different books.

BY: Megan Phelps-Roper

This is the best book I’ve listened to in the last couple of years. The author grew up in Westboro Baptist Church, famous for protesting at the funerals of soldiers, while carrying signs like “God Hates Fags”. She became the church’s de facto online spokesperson on Twitter, where she developed a reputation of delivering pure, unadulterated, Bible-based hate with wit and a smiley face emoticon.

As a person who holds the Bible in a position of great respect and authority, and who went through my own separation from an authoritarian, spiritually abusive, fundamentalist Baptist church 20+ years ago, it was absolutely fascinating to read this story of a person who could both back the church’s belief system and her own rejection of it using solid, Bible-based arguments. Typical books in this genre focus on the control the church exerts over its members, convey significant bitterness, and end up with the author rejecting their faith and turning the same kind of hate back on the church they’re leaving. Megan brings the reader into her family and lays out the rationale for their beliefs and practices. But she just as effectively lays out the arguments against those beliefs and practices.

This book goes beyond a simple tale of leaving a “cult”. It identifies specific strategies and tactics for winning people who are blinded by their deeply held beliefs. In an odd way, I believe people on both sides of controversial, emotional issues would benefit from this book.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb
By: Richard Rhodes

My son-in-law gave me this book years ago and I started into it but it literally starts with a history of the Jewish people from Abraham, progresses through the evolution of science, then lays out atomic theory from first principles. Turns out if you stick with it, it’s pretty good. It’s both thorough and entertaining. It does a good job of addressing the science, philosophy, politics, and ethics of atomic weapons.


Current events kept reminding me of what it must be like to live in an Orwellian dystopia, so I thought I’d revisit this book to refresh my memory. If Orwell had written a prequel that described the cultural revolution that brought Big Brother and The Party into power, I suspect it would read like today’s headlines.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals
BY: Thomas SowelL

This is a series of lengthy essays on race and ethnicity. The history of “ghetto culture” is eye-opening, as are essays on the history of slavery and of black education in the US. Chapters on Jews and Germans are just as good but since I was reading with the present situation in mind, I only skimmed those.

The First Conspiracy
By: Brad Meltzer, Josh Mensch

Read this after reading The Lincoln Conspiracy by the same authors. They take what small amount of information exists about the plot to kill George Washington and stretch it into a book.

The Lincoln Conspiracy
By: Brad Meltzer, Josh Mensch

This isn’t just a good book about the plot to kill Lincoln on his trip to Washington for his inauguration, but also offers insights into the attitudes of the time toward slavery and race.

By: Charles Murray, Catherine Bly Cox

I read this book probably 20 years ago but found it interesting to re-read. This is a good history of the Apollo program and the people who made it work. I’ll probably be back to read more about the space program later. I’ve read a lot about Apollo but am interested in earlier (Mercury and Gemini) and later (Shuttle and ISS) programs.

The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon
By: Todd Zwillich

The story of John C. Houbolt, one of the earliest advocates of Lunar Orbit Rendezvous, the mission plan that eventually landed astronauts on the moon. The original plan was to launch a giant rocket, fly directly to the moon, turn it around backwards and land the whole, 90′ beast on the moon. Then launch from there for a direct flight home. This is laughable now, but for a time this was seen as least expensive and least risky plan to get people to the moon and home again safely. LOR, combined with Earth Orbit Rendezvous, is what we ended up doing: That is, put a small vehicle in orbit around the earth, have it dock with a lunar lander, go to the moon and enter orbit, send a landing party to the surface while the Command Module remains in orbit, then rendezvous the lander and CM in lunar orbit before heading back to Earth. This book is told from a pro-Houbolt perspective; there are others who argue that Houbolt was just one of dozens of engineers who advocated LOR, and that he wasn’t that vital to the decision.

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II
By: Liza Mundy

My primary interest in this book is the code-breaking part, but the cultural commentary on the role of women in the early 20th century is also fascinating. This is kind of a continuation of my interest in WWII spy stuff that started earlier this year.

Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon
By: Jeffrey Kluger

I’ve read a lot of books about the space program, since it was a defining part of my childhood, growing up in the 1960’s. This book is mostly the story of Frank Borman and Apollo 8.

In the Enemy’s House: The Secret Saga of the FBI Agent and the Code Breaker Who Caught the Russian Spies
By: Howard Blum

A continuation of my interest in the early CIA and MI6, but definitely the poorest book of the lot.

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story
By: Douglas Preston

I have an interest in the history of the Americas prior to Columbus, and this seemed like an interesting title about a part of the world (Central America) that I hadn’t read a lot about. Other than very lengthy chapters about global warming and pandemics, this was pretty good.

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War
By: Ben Macintyre

Not my favorite of Macintyre’s books, but still good.

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
By: Ben MacIntyre

The Wright Brothers
By: David McCullough

I’ve read other books on the Wright Brothers. This one was pretty good.

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
BY: Ben Macintyre

The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution
BY: Eric Foner

This book has really helped to re-shape what I understand about the Constitution, federalism, and racism. I think those of us who tend toward conservative political positions tend to quote the Constitution as written and intended by the Founders and ignore the enormous effect of the Civil War and post-Civil War period on how we think about who we are and how we experience America.

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
BY: Ben Macintyre

Very fascinating background behind the invasion of Normandy

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
By: Ben Macintyre

If you’ve never heard of Operation Mincemeat, you definitely need to read this book. This reads like the plot of an over-the-top Hollywood movie, but took place in real life.

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War
By: Ben Macintyre

This was the first of Ben Macintyre’s books I read. It is an amazing account of a Russian double-agent who spent years handing over Soviet secrets to the British, which changed history—but you’ve probably never heard of him. The rest of the Macintyre books listed above are all good even though I may not comment on each one.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
By: Michael Lewis

Saw this movie but thought the book looked more interesting.


The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
By: Robert M. Edsel

Saw this movie and assumed the book would be more interesting. Not completely disappointed. Well-written.

The Suspect: An Olympic Bombing, the FBI, the Media, and Richard Jewell, the Man Caught in the Middle
By: Kent Alexander

Saw the author interviewed on TV and thought the book would be interesting. It was. Better than the made-for-TV movie version he was being interviewed about.

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
By: David McCullough

This was a tough read but turned out to be very interesting. For those of you who, like me, assume the Northwest Ordinance has something to do with Oregon and Washingtonprepare to be surprised.

Inside Trump’s White House: The Real Story of His Presidency
By: Doug Wead

The book does not live up to its title. The author had access to the President and his staff for a very short period of time. There’s no unreported, minute-by-minute account of things you think you know from seeing it on the news. There’s no insight into how things work that you never realized. It’s just an account of the few interviews the author got with a few members of the family and staff.

Game of Thorns: The Inside Story of Hillary Clinton’s Failed Campaign and Donald Trump’s Winning Strategy
By: Doug Wead

Like the next Doug Wead book I read, it lacks both depth and scope. No insights into Hillary’s failed strategy; no real insights into Trump’s winning strategy. These books were hyped a lot on Fox News but really aren’t that good.

The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History
By: Lee Smith

This is a must-read for every American. Most people don’t realize the degree to which the media has hidden an attempt by key members of the law enforcement and intelligence community to overthrow the President. And as of this date (mid-2020) it’s still going on.

Magicians of the Gods: Sequel to the International Bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods
By: Graham Hancock

I’ve read a lot of alt-ancient-history books. I think there’s more to the idea that highly advanced civilizations have come and gone on this planet than most people have even thought about.

The Low-Carb Athlete: The Official Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition Guide for Endurance and Performance
By: Ben Greenfield

I was looking for help figuring out how to eat before doing long runs. This was a little too general and a little too high-performance for me. I’ve subsequently discovered that if I use an electrolyte supplement like nuum tablets in my water, I can pretty much do a morning run for 2.5 hours with nothing but coffee for breakfast. We have a lot of stored energy. Might as well use it.

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (The Revolution Trilogy Book 1)
By: Rick Atkinson

This is the first of a trilogy. It is extremely long and detailed, but interesting nonetheless. I joke that it takes as long to read as the events took to happen.

Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter
By: Tom Clavin

I hadn’t read anything from this period of history, so this was pretty interesting. It dispels a lot of myths about Wild Bill.

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster
By: Adam Higginbotham

Very interesting read that reveals both the technical details of what went wrong at this massive nuclear melt-down and how a bureaucracy bent on approaching all problems by denying they exist should not be trusted with nuclear reactors.

America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization
By: Graham Hancock

I am about an 80% Graham Hancock fan. I haven’t read his books on hallucinogenics and spirituality, but I’ve read most of his books dealing with ancient history. His classic work is Fingerprints of the Gods, which prompted me to read a lot of alt-history back in the 1990’s. Some of his speculation about the lost continent of Atlantis in that book has been disproven over the years, but there is a lot there that will change how you think about history. This book deals with American pre-history and calls into question the commonly held opinion that the first “native Americans” came from Asia across a land bridge that spanned the Bering Strait.

The Reckoning: A Novel
By: John Grisham

I’ve read all of Grisham’s legal novels. His subsequent novels mainly about life in the South have not been as good. This one is told in a very interesting way but is somewhat unsatisfying in the end. The first chapter tells you what is going to happen in the end. The book is not about how we got there, but why we got there.

Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
By: Robert H. Lustig

One of several low-carb, high-fat diet books I’ve read since adopting a LCHF lifestyle in August 2018. This one is a lot like the others.

Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the Edge of the World
By: Joan Druett

Several years ago, I read quite a few lost-at-sea books (I tend to get into a topic and read everything I can find). This book is unique in that it tells the story of two ships stranded 20 miles apart on the opposite ends of the same island at the same time, and how the differences between how each of the captains and crews approached the problem resulted in death for one crew and rescue for the other.

Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All
By: Dan Bongino

I normally don’t read books by politicians and news reporters about current political situations, but I like Dan Bongino and thought the book might be good. It was OK.

Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump
By: George Papadopoulos

Everybody needs to read this to understand how the Deep State plotted against Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
By: Dan Lyons

This is a book about an old guy who gets a job in a tech start-up and faces generational challenges.

The Case Against Sugar
By: Gary Taubes

One of the better books that describes how we got to where the government is recommending a diet that is killing Americans. There are a lot of details to get bogged down in here, but the general theme about Big Sugar shaping everything you think you know about the safety of both natural and artificial sugar is fascinating. You are being poisoned and your sugar addiction will kill you, one way or another, but you are in denial and will happily comply.

Why Diets Fail (Because You’re Addicted to Sugar): Science Explains How to End Cravings, Lose Weight, and Get Healthy
By: Nicole M. Avena Phd

I read this because I thought it would help me understand why people have a hard time sticking with a low-carb diet, but it turned out to be yet another low-carb, high-fat diet book that didn’t offer a lot of new insights (assuming you understand that diets only work to the degree that they reduce the consumption of carbs, and that you are addicted to sugar).

The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt
By: Randall Sullivan

I am a huge fan of the History Channel’s The Curse of Oak Island and have seen every episode. I was looking for a book that went through the history as opposed to proposing new theories involving Bigfoot, aliens, Templars, etc. This is a good review of the history of digging on the island.

About My Low-Carb, High-Fat Lifestyle

In July, 2018, my cardiologist recommended that I get serious about losing some weight. I have been gradually gaining weight over the last 10-15 years despite eating right (low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium) and exercising (regularly running and walking, including running several 5K’s, 10K’s, and 5 half-marathons (13.1 miles). He suggested I attend a free seminar put on by Health Transitions Clinic. HTC runs a medically supervised weight-loss program, primarily for diabetics, so that they can monitor your medications and general health as you lose weight.

Skeptical, I called the office and found out more about the program. I was told that it was basically a low-carbohydrate diet designed for diabetics, those who have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, and those whose BMI puts them in the overweight or above category. I’m not diabetic, but my weight classified me as obese (5’6″ and 205+ lbs). I spent some time investigating the science behind low-carb diets and decided they were on the right track. Before even going to the free seminar I went ahead and signed up for the 8-month program.

While waiting for the program to start I was given a book to read; Gary Taube’s book Why We Get Fat. I had come to the conclusion as a result of my experience over the years that weight and cholesterol is determined about 90% by genetics and only 10% by diet and exercise. Maybe even 5% diet and exercise. Taube explains how eating carbohydrates (grains, potatoes, and sugar) causes blood sugar (glucose) to increase, which causes the body to produce insulin. Insulin tells your body to store glucose as fat. If we reduce the amount of carbs in our diet, we reduce the blood sugar, reduce the insulin, and reduce the body’s tendency to create fat.

Cutting carbs isn’t easy. You’re cutting out grains (including bread, anything made with flour, pasta, and corn), potatoes (regular or sweet), and sugar (in all its forms, including naturally occurring sugar in fruit and added sugar everywhere). To help you change your habits, the HTC program begins with 6 weeks of “induction”. In the first two, you replace two meals per day with protein shakes that provide your essential nutrients and make it easier to hit the goal of only 20 grams of net carbs (total carbs less dietary fiber) per day. For the next 4 weeks you replace one meal with a shake and up your carb count to 30-50 grams. By the time you get to the end of the 6 weeks you’ve figured out what you can and can’t eat, you’ve learned how to read when your body is really hungry and when you’re just bored, and you’ve lost a lot of weight.

Over the remaining weeks you learn during group meetings how to expand the variety of vegetables in your diet. The group sessions are mostly cooking demos. Recipes for low-carb dishes are distributed.

After the 8-month program I was down 35 lbs (from 205 to 170) and was still losing weight (another 4 lbs over the next 12 months). My BMI is down from about 33 to under 28. When taking into consideration my age and gender, I’ve gone from a situation where my weight has a moderate probability of causing medical issues to where that probability is now low. And I’m still losing weight (I’d like to drop another 10-12 lbs.)

Here’s what I’ve learned in this adventure. If you understand these facts, it will change your life.

  • If you gain weight on the standard American diet, carbs are your poison. Carbs cause you to get fat. Obesity has been found to be directly responsible for heart disease, diabetes, gout, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. So it’s not exaggeration to  say that the carbs you eat are killing you.
  • Fat doesn’t make you fat. Eating foods that are high in fat is not what makes you fat. In fact, eating food high in fat satiates your appetite, reduces hunger, and helps you eat less. It’s the carbohydrates in your diet that tell your body to convert the sugar in your blood into fat and store it away.
  • High cholesterol foods don’t give you high cholesterol. Eggs are good for you. Eat more eggs.
  • “You have to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight” is a lie. Calories don’t make you fat; carbs do. Stop counting calories. Start counting carbs.
  • Carbs make you hungry. Why do you think restaurants serve bread before you order? It’s because eating carbs makes you hungry so you’ll order more food, especially an expensive dessert. Fat fills you up.
  • You can eat less and not be hungry. The key is eating the right things. I’ve had days where I drink what you might call a low-carb latte for breakfast, have a small salad (greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and cheese) for lunch, and three scrambled eggs with onions, peppers, ham, and cheese for dinner. No snacks. No hunger.
  • Exercise is important to good health, but will cause you to gain weight. You should still exercise. But not for weight loss. The only demographic that has a chance of losing weight from exercise are men under 30. If you’re not a man under 30, you will gain weight as a result of exercise. You should still exercise. You should control your weight with a proper diet.
  • A “diet” can’t be something that you do for a few months to reach a weight goal, then quit. You should think of low-carb as a lifestyle that will last the rest of your life, not a temporary change that will end once you’ve lost those 50 lbs you need to lose.
  • Just because you failed at Weight Watchers or some other diet doesn’t mean you will fail if you choose a low-carb diet. Those other diets don’t work because they don’t teach you how to eat right. They’re doomed to fail because they don’t address why you’re gaining weight. They try to tell you that you are glutton (you just eat too much) and you’re lazy (you don’t get enough exercise). Instead of telling you how to lose weight, they tell you you’re a bad person. Nice. Just what you need.
  • All of the various diet programs are successful only to the extent that you are accidentally reducing carbohydrates. You don’t lose weight at Weight Watchers because you have reduced calories, you lose weight because you’ve cut your intake of sugar in order to cut calories.  You don’t lose weight on a paleo diet because you’re eating like a caveman, you lose weight because you’re not eating Twinkies and bread.


What foods to you avoid?

  • No grains – so no bread, rice, corn, pasta, etc.
  • No potatoes (regular or sweet).
  • No sugar, whether natural or added. So no pop, no fruit juice, no excessively sweet fruit like oranges, apples, or bananas.

What can you eat?

  • Meat, fish, poultry. Fat is OK. Well-marbled steaks, skin-on chicken, and bacon are all OK. No breaded chicken or fish.
  • Cheese and almost-cheese. The closest I come to milk is whipping cream, sour cream, and whole-milk Greek yogurt. No just-plain milk (neither whole nor skim).
  • Eggs. Don’t be afraid of eggs.
  • Veggies, especially dark greens (spinach and kale), broccoli, carrots (in moderation), cauliflower, radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, tomato (yes, I know it’s a fruit; in moderation), peppers, onions.
  • Limited amounts of fruit. Mostly berries. I like raspberries and blueberries. Johnna likes blackberries. Occasional strawberries. No bananas or other tropical fruits.

What do you typically eat each day?

  • Breakfast is one of the following:
    • Bullet-proof coffee (coffee blended with 1 tbsp MCT oil, 2 tbsp unsweetened butter, 1 tsp dark chocolate cocoa (unsweetened), Stevia equal to 2 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tbsp Metamucil (fiber supplement). My LDL cholesterol was up after doing bullet-proof coffee for breakfast for about 2-3 months. I saw a website that suggested dropping it. My doctor said it was no problem to continue using it and that my LDL (though at the upper limit of 100) was fine. Note: The Stevia I use is from SweetLeaf and uses inulin (a non-digestible dietary fiber) as a filler instead of dextrose, which, ironically, is sugar.
    • 3 eggs with cheese and a couple sausage patties. No juice, no toast, no hash browns. Maybe a few raspberries. Definitely some Cholula hot sauce!
  • Lunch:
    • A salad made with dark green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, and arugula; broccoli; cauliflower; maybe carrots; cheese; and either a hard-boiled egg or grilled chicken. Balsamic vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing.
    • Something egg-based, like a veggie omelet with some bacon.
    • A low-carb protein shake: 1 cup unsweetened “original” Almond milk; 1 tbsp MCT oil or olive oil; 1 scoop Quest Salted Caramel protein powder; 1/2 tsp cinnamon; 2 tsp chia seed. Blend on a fairly high speed to chop up the chia seeds.
  • Snacks: I try to avoid snacks but if I get hungry between lunch and dinner I’ll have one of these:
    • Pecans (about 1g net carbs per handful)
    • Pork rinds (chicharrones) . The spicy pork rinds are best; the plain ones taste like licking a pig. 0-1g net carbs per serving.
    • Amana Beef Snack Sticks. They’re like beef jerky but 0g net carbs. (You have to be careful with jerky and other cured meats; they tend to add things that add carbs.)
    • String cheese or other single-serving cheeses.
    • Coffee-flavored Keto Cups. 1g net carbs per cup.
  • Dinner: Varies. In general I try to have about a 6-8 oz serving of protein and two servings of vegetables.
  • Dessert: If I have anything “sweet” at all it will be a dish of about 8-10 raspberries and homemade, no-carb whipped cream. Alternately, sugar-free Jello with raspberries.

How many grams of carbs can/should you have?

The standard American diet is about 350 grams per day. I find I need to be at or below 20 grams in order to have a chance at losing any weight. That’s considered a pretty intense “Keto” diet. Note those are “net carbs” — so total carbs from the label of the food I’m eating less “dietary fiber”. If I get into the 50-70 gram range I will start to put weight back on.

How do you eat at restaurants?

I don’t go to fast food restaurants, but could. They’re just boring when you can’t eat french fries. Typically I’ll order a sandwich of some kind without a bun. Often you can ask for a burger to be served on greens instead of a bun. Today I ate at a place that had chicken salad sandwiches, so I asked for chicken salad on a bed of spinach instead of bread. Instead of fries I get a salad or veggies. Diet soda, water, or unsweet tea. No dessert.

We’ve ordered pizza and eaten just the cheese and toppings. I’ve ordered pasta dishes with just the sauce over grilled chicken.

In the course of learning how to eat on this diet we’ve found restaurants that either intentionally or accidentally have some really good meals that are low-carb. A number of places offer riced or mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes. A few select restaurants make salads with real greens instead of iceberg lettuce. (Always choose non-sweet, high-fat dressings. Get them on the side so you can control how much they put on the salad.)

Does it work?

In the first year and a half I lost about 39 lbs, or just short of 20% of my starting weight. After 2 years I had a medication change due to chronic asthma, which caused me to gain about 5 lbs. They tell me that’s water, not fat.

I’m not hungry. I’m eating a wider variety of food than I used to, and I’m eating food that tastes better. Clothes fit better. I’m running again; I’m up to 20-22 miles per week (I run three days each week; 5-10 miles per day; longer if I’m training for a race) during the summer. I’ve run two half-marathons (13.1 miles) on a cup of bullet-proof coffee for breakfast and water laced with Nuun electrolyte tablets during the race, including one that was my personal best (2 hours 18 minutes).

I’m off one blood pressure medicine (HCTZ). I’ve dialed back my BiPAP (sleep apnea) pressures and am talking to my neurologist about a plan to re-test and potentially get off it entirely.

After a year my HDL (good) cholesterol was up and triglycerides were down. LDL (bad) cholesterol was also up, but that’s normal in a low-carb diet. There are a couple kinds of LDL cholesterol, and LCHF diets tend to cause an increase in the “large, fluffy” LDL that doesn’t clog arteries, not the “small, granular” LDL that causes problems. The test to distinguish between the two is apparently expensive and rarely done.

Where can I learn more?

I usually send people to for general information on the low-carb, high-fat lifestyle. They are stronger advocates of intermittent fasting than I am. I don’t believe you need to fast to lose weight. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, not a temporary  project. You shouldn’t do anything that you can’t maintain for the rest of your life.

If you’re local to the Cedar Rapids, IA area, this is the program I’m in: Health Transitions Clinic. Tell them I sent you, and you’ll get a discount. Seriously.

Health Transitions Clinic runs the same program at a lower cost at You’re monitored by a physician, nurses, and dietitians.

I’ve read a number of good books on the subject. The Taubes book mentioned above is good. Here are a couple more:

Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

The Case Against Sugar

It’s Time to Move Christmas to January

Today’s post comes to you from my perch high atop Mt. Crumpit.

I live in Iowa, in the heart of what is colloquially known as “the midwest” – even though it is not really “west” of anything but is more “mid mid” longitudinally. Latitudinally, we are north of most of you but still in the southern north half of the country.

It snows here. A lot, some years. We usually get our first snow on or about Thanksgiving. It may melt before Christmas, but about half the time our Christmases are white. It gets worse before it gets better; we’ll get about two feet of snow over the course of an average winter.

I live in a little town in Iowa. Marion has about 30,000 residents. My office downtown (we call it “uptown” here because we think that makes us sound sophisticated) is in a 150-year-old building across the street from Marion Square Park, which features a pavilion with the roof and footprint of the old railroad station that used to sit about a block east of its current location. About three quarters of the buildings I can see from my window are as old or older than the one I’m in. About a half dozen of them house antique shops.

The week after Thanksgiving, Santa Claus arrives at the park by fire truck and takes up residence in a little outhouse in the park. Kids line up around the block to see him. For the rest of the Christmas shopping season, Christmas carols are played over loudspeakers in the park. If we open our office windows (which we wouldn’t dare do), we can hear the music from the park across the street.

In these parts, looking forward to Christmas is what makes the crappy, cold weather bearable. The thought of Christmas, family, carols, cookies, and presents gives us the strength to get through the first month of winter weather.

The problem is, Christmas comes too soon. Sure, we’re happy basking in the knowledge that the miserable weather is what keeps the rest of you out of our quaint little town the rest of the year. But this twisted schadenfreude is not quite enough to make it worthwhile. Many of us actually leave town and go spend the winter in warmer climes. The rest of us tough it out by virtue of our mid-mid-south-north pluck.

I think it’s time we do something about this. I think it’s time we move Christmas to January. I think there’s a good case for doing this.

First, we need something to look forward to through more of winter. Moving Christmas to January 25 gives us another four weeks to revel in the anticipation and forget about the weather.

Second, Black Friday to Christmas Eve just isn’t long enough to get everything done that needs to be done. Retailers would love having another month of Christmas shopping.

Third, there’s no way Jesus was born in December anyway, let alone December 25th. We all know that a bunch of nascent Catholics abducted the Roman Saturnalia festival back in the fourth century and attached a bunch of churchy language to it. Jesus’ feelings won’t be hurt if we move his birthday celebration. We already moved it once when we decided to celebrate it on December 25.

Fourth, we all know that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is just a thinly disguised way for white people to assuage their guilt over slavery and something about lunch counters and bus seats. It’s kind of insulting to African Americans if you think about it, to think that we can make up for thousands of years of oppression with a Monday holiday. I, for one, am not comfortable insulting African Americans. If we move Christmas to January 25, we could move MLK Day to December 25 and make it the launch day of Kwanza, lending some credibility to a somewhat questionable, made-up holiday. Lending mutual credibility to two somewhat questionable, made-up holidays now that I think of it.

All-in-all, this is a great idea whose time has come. It will let us separate Jesus from the false gods of the Greeks and Romans; will let us give more attention to what will now be the unquestionably valid holidays of Kwanza and MLK Day (further removing us innocent white people from our evil, slave-owning ancestors); and will give us something to look forward to while shoveling driveways at 6AM so we won’t be late for work.

Little known Christmas fact: Did you know the woman who did the voice of Cindy Lou Who also did the voice of Bullwinkle’s side-kick Rocket J. “Rocky” Squirrel? Knowing this makes you smarter than your friends, but will ruin How the Grinch Stole Christmas for you, as you hear what sounds like a young flying squirrel asking, “Santie Claus, why?”


Does the Bible Permit Same-Sex Marriage?

With the recent Supreme Court ruling that discovered same-sex marriage hidden as a constitutional right by the founders, the attention has turned from the legality of gay marriage to the real target of the gay lobby: The destruction of Christianity.

While the court claimed it would not abridge the rights of religious institutions to practice their beliefs (which may not include marrying people of the same gender), it has done nothing to protect the rights of everyday citizens to decline participation in a gay marriage. It has forced bakers to bake cakes for, and photographers to take pictures of, same-sex weddings or face significant fines or jail time. The Supreme Court has thrown gasoline on the fires burning under Christians who would dare refuse to give their assent to what they see as a violation of their conscience.

One of the ways gay-rights activists are pressuring Christians is by trying to argue that the Bible does not address “sexual orientation” and does, in fact, approve of loving, committed homosexual relationships. One of the more popular advocates for this position is Matthew Vines, whose five-minute video has made its way into everyone’s Facebook newsfeed in recent weeks.

After writing extensively about the video in Facebook comments, I’ve decided to summarize those comments here so that I don’t have to keep re-typing them.

First, watch the video.

While it would be interesting to discuss the Old Testament verses Vines cites, I agree that Christ fulfills the requirements of the Law for the Christian, and that Bible-believing Christians are not under the Law. So for brevity, we’ll skip showing the flaws in his brief analysis of those verses.

Romans 1:26-27 are frequently cited by Christians to condemn homosexual behavior.

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Romans 1:26-27 (NASB)

When looking at Romans 1:26-27, Vines tries to argue that “unnatural relations” are made right if they’re done in “love”, “faithfulness”, and “commitment”.

But after Paul describes homosexual sins in Romans 1:26-27, he goes on to describe further what sins God gave them (those who rejected him) over to. These include greed, murder, deceit, and slander.

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32 (NASB)

Again, Vines is arguing that the unnatural act of sex (I will call it unnatural in this article because the Bible does and because Vines admits later in the video that it is “unnatural”) between two men, clearly condemned here, is made right because it is done in love in a committed relationship. The argument he is making needs to be applied to the entire content of Paul’s condemnation though. So if unnatural sex is made right because of love, then if we love the person we are murdering, that makes it right. If we’re faithful to the person we are deceiving, that makes our deceit right, because Paul didn’t consider people in a faithful, deceptive relationship. If we commit to the person we are slandering, then it is OK because Paul isn’t describing a committed slanderer.

There isn’t anything in this list of sins that turns into righteousness if you do it with or to a person you love, are faithful to, and are committed to. So it’s not unreasonable to say that unnatural sex isn’t suddenly made right when done in love.

Vines describes the fact that many homosexual acts in Roman times happened between adult men and adolescent boys. He is trying to say that Paul is not objecting to gay sex per se, but to child abuse. But this is an attempt to gauge the behavior of the ancients by our mores and our legal standards. We would arrest and jail a person for having sex with a 12-year-old boy. While it is true that most male prostitutes in Roman times were, as he says, “adolescent” — ages 12-20 — it has only been in the last 100-150 years that our idea that a person can’t consent to sex until they’re 18 has become commonly held. In earlier eras, the age of sexual activity was tied more to puberty, not chronological age.

So the ancients weren’t pedophiles or pederasts per se. They were having sex with other “of-age” men. They just weren’t “of-age” by our modern standards.

Vines claims that the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual acts was really a prohibition on out-of-control lust. But there are two problems with this. First, verse 26 says God “gave them over to degrading passions”. He didn’t just give them over to their passions (i.e. to their out-of-control lust) but rather he gave them to degrading passions. He goes on to explain that what makes them degrading is that they are unnatural. The women exchanged natural relations with men for degrading, unnatural relations with women. The men similarly abandoned natural relations with women and burned in their desire for degrading, indecent (Greek ἀσχημοσύνη, “obscene”, “shameful”), unnatural relations with other men.

So the text simply does not support the idea that God was only condemning out-of-control lust.

Secondly, if we go back to verses 18-23 we see that people rejected the clear revelation of God and worshiped things God created instead of worshiping God.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Romans 1:18-23 (NASB)

Therefore, because they rejected God and worshiped people and things instead of God, God gave them over not to out-of-control lust, but to impurity.

24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 1:24-25 (NASB)

They exchanged truth for lies, so in verses 26-27 God exchanges natural for unnatural. The emphasis is not on the lust, but on how the lust is manifested. The acts they perform are a picture of the unseen spiritual truth behind them. That is, they exchanged truth for lies, so God allowed them to exchange natural relations for unnatural ones. Instead of looking wise, they look foolish (verse 22) because they don’t even know how to have sex right.

Again, the thing that makes them look foolish was not their unbridled passion as Vines would have you believe but their rejection of God as manifested in their upside down, unnatural, sexual behavior.

Vines admits that God calls homosexual acts “unnatural” but then cites 1 Corinthians 11 as an example of something the Bible calls “unnatural” but that we don’t have a problem with — long hair on men. It’s difficult to use 1 Corinthians 11 as an analogy because it’s a bit of a confusing passage for most people. The general idea is that a woman should cover her head when she prays (or maybe it’s saying a woman’s long hair is given to her for a covering) and that a man should not cover his head when he prays (or maybe it’s saying he shouldn’t have long hair).

Vines says that in 1 Corinthians 11 God says for men to have long hair goes against nature. That’s not exactly correct.

14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

1 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NASB)

It doesn’t say that long hair on a man is unnatural, it says that the “nature of things” teaches us that long hair on a man is dishonorable but that long hair on a woman is glorious.

Vines seems to be saying that “unnatural sex” is okay because 1 Corinthians 11 says a man with long hair is doing something “unnatural” and we all know men with long hair and there’s nothing wrong with that. But whatever 1 Corinthians 11 means, it does seem to be saying that long hair (or some kind of head covering) on a man while praying is a bad thing, not a good thing. So Vines is arguing that because we do this wrong thing (long hair on a man), then this other wrong thing (gay sex) is okay. This is a classic case of two wrongs not making a right. Note that it doesn’t matter whether you think 1 Corinthians 11 is to be moderated by cultural considerations or not. The argument here is that because Matthew Vines thinks we don’t have to follow whatever 1 Corinthians 11 says, then it’s OK not to follow what Romans 1 says. This is bad exegesis and bad logic.

Vines says that most people interpret “natural” and “unnatural” in 1 Corinthians 11 as a reference to cultural conventions. But this, too, is not the case. The pertinent passage is this one:

6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:6 (NASB)

The standard for “disgrace” here isn’t explicitly stated. Paul implies by his Greek grammar that it is disgraceful but there is no explicit reference to Old Testament law to justify this. So many assume this must be a reference to culture. That is, “if it is a disgrace (in our culture) for a woman to have her hair cut off (and it is)… let her be covered”. Those who argue a cultural interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 say that it is not a disgrace in our culture for a woman to have short hair, so she doesn’t have to be covered.

As you can see, the cultural argument doesn’t have anything to do with whether “nature” teaches us that long hair on a man is dishonorable (verse 14).

Vines asserts that the concept of sexual orientation did not exist in the ancient world. It is true that homosexual sex was rampant in the Roman Empire, and at least according to Wikipedia, freeborn Roman men did not care whether their partners were male or female. But this was considered by the Jews to be a particularly “Gentile” vice. It was universally condemned in Jewish culture. Paul grew up in that culture and clearly distinguished between “normal men” who had sex with women and the malakoi (transgendered/transvestite men) and arsenokoi (homosexual men) who had sex with other men. Yes, they may not have had 5 or 51 or 63 genders or however many liberals claim there are now, but they knew the difference between natural and unnatural, “straight” and “gay” sex.

These are in fact the words Paul would have used to describe men who alter their appearance to look feminine and those who engage in homosexual activity whether he had a “concept of sexual orientation” or not. It’s not intellectually honest to change the meaning of those words two millennia later then claim he’s not talking about what he would’ve been talking about in the context of his time.

Vines goes on to say that while Paul took a dim view of gay sex, he had no knowledge of loving, committed gay relationships. Again, this is the argument that if I love the person I’m sinning with, then it isn’t sin. This just isn’t true and isn’t supported anywhere in the Bible.

He says the Bible doesn’t address the issues of sexual orientation nor same-sex marriage. But it does. He cites six places where the Bible addresses sexual orientation. It consistently condemns homosexual practices. And while we don’t see anything about same-sex marriage, we see a lot about marriage, and it always, always describes it as being between a man and a woman.

Matthew Vines is a sexually dysfunctional person who, as he says at the beginning of the video, went to the Bible to justify his sin. He’s not unlike every other Christian who has tried to twist God’s words to condone his or her own particular sin. His analysis of the text is weak at best; dishonest at worst. While this video is well-produced, it does not change what the Bible calls “sin” into righteousness. Bible-believing Christians are well-advised to look elsewhere for insight into this subject.

About the Picture

The picture with this article is of Sergius and Bacchus, two 4th-century Roman Catholic saints whose friendship has been abducted by gay Christians and turned into the story of the first gay marriage or some such nonsense. This is why real men reject society’s pressure for them to have BFFs with whom they share their true feelings and do yoga together. They don’t want somebody to come along in 1600 years and gay-marry them posthumously.

Working Without a Net

In 1988 we took our kids to Circus World in Baraboo, WI. We had the good fortune to see Enrico and Debbie Wallenda performing on the high wire. The crowd was small, so we had a chance to chat with them after the show.

I noticed that, while they performed without a safety net, they had laid out some tumbling mats under the wire, which was some 20-30 feet in the air. “Why bother with the mats?” I asked Debbie. “Our insurance company won’t let us perform without safety equipment,” she said.

2015-06-04 07.57.00Enrico and Debbie come from a family of circus performers that goes back to the 17th century. They grew up on the wire. They know what they’re doing. The safety net is unnecessary. It would just slow down their set-up and be one more thing they’d have to carry from show to show. And it would be an insult to them. Amateurs need and use safety nets. The Wallendas just don’t fall.

Well, they do, but no more than once each.

I’ve been programming since about 1974 and doing it professionally since 1982. I remember my ham radio buddies talking about these cool new things called “microprocessors” in 1972, and was actively programming for them through the entire history of the “personal computer revolution”. I wrote a machine language debugger for the Motorola 6502 just for fun back in the early 80’s. I was working with touch screens in 1982 while the company that would eventually put one on an iPhone was just beginning to experiment with mice and graphical user interfaces.  I wrote drivers that allowed CP/M systems to store data on “magnetic bubbles” that raced along a track driven by an electromagnet. I was writing code to calculate position using GPS when there were only about 8 GPS satellites in orbit and we had to calculate what ridiculous time of the morning we’d have to come in when we would be able to see the required minimum of three of them at the same time for testing our software.

Over the years I’ve programmed in assembly language, Pascal, PL/I, Modula 2, FORTRAN, COBOL, SNOBOL, LISP, BASIC, RATFOR, C, Forth, JOVIAL, Ada, C++, NewtonScript, PHP, Objective-C/C++, Perl, Java, JavaScript, C#, and VBScript. I’ve written a number of compilers and interpreters for lesser-known and proprietary languages. I’ve written programs for Atari, CP/M, MS-DOS, VMS, Windows (desktop and server), Mac OS and OS X, Newton OS, various flavors of Unix, Windows CE, Palm OS, Android, and iOS.

When I’m making updates to the scripts and pages on our Laridian website, I operate directly on the live server. From time to time that means if you happen to be on the page I’m on when I make a mistake, you’ll see an error message when you load the page. But that happens only rarely. When working on a critical part of e-commerce code, I might test on a private page before going public, but often that isn’t practical.

Running a beta testing program with outside testers, especially for a platform like iOS (which requires encrypting the app in a particular way that allows only selected devices to run the program), is difficult and time-consuming. So most of the updates I do for Mac and iOS programs are just tested by me before they are shipped. Often, I’m a better tester than real customers, because I know the scope of the changes I’ve made to the code, and I know where it is susceptible to error. For example, all the testing of synchronization of user data was done in-house. I was able to set up both common and unusual situations to verify how the system would handle the data without putting any real customer data at risk. When the time came to put that system online, it just went online without any beta testing.

So I sympathize with the Wallendas. That safety net takes a lot of time to set up. We know we’re not going to fall. And it takes away from the perception of professionalism — anybody can walk a tightrope when there is no harm in falling.

But when we fall, we fall hard.

Last weekend I shipped an update to PocketBible for iOS that was not tested by outside testers. The majority of the changes were to accommodate the larger screen of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. I have an iPhone 6, and I can emulate the 6 Plus in the development environment. Those changes were well-tested.

The other type of changes were related to what happens when you change the password on your Laridian account. Previous versions of the program assumed you were logging into a new account when you entered a different password, so they blocked you from sync’ing your notes, highlights, and bookmarks with the server (so as not to corrupt the “other” account’s existing data, nor corrupt the data on the device with data from the “other” user). Furthermore, they would delete all your books (assuming, again, that you are a different user with a different library of books). The new version of the program records the Laridian customer ID you’re using while sync’ing your database with the server, and only complains about your user data if, when changing your password, you log into a different customer account. Furthermore, it doesn’t delete your books. (I plan to handle that a different way in future releases.)

So while testing the screen-size changes on the iPhone 6, I also tested the new way of determining if you had logged into a different account. It worked great. What I didn’t count on was that Apple had completely changed the way certain user interface objects worked on the iPad sometime in the year since I had issued the last PocketBible revision. As a result, iPad users couldn’t update their data to support the new customer ID tracking method. My testing on the iPad consisted of bringing the program up and trying a few things to make sure it wasn’t completely broken. Since the bulk of my changes were related to laying out the user interface on the larger iPhones, my testing focussed on making sure I didn’t break any layout code on the iPad. I already knew the customer ID tracking worked from my tests on the iPhone.

I joked with one long-time PocketBible customer that I didn’t want to take time to do a beta because I knew he would find problems that I would have to fix. So I shipped version 3.2.0 without the benefit of his help.

Once Apple approved the new version and I installed it on my iPad and saw what was happening, I knew I was in trouble. I began thinking about how those tumbling mats were going to feel when struck from this height.

When Karl Wallenda fell to his death from 120 feet, the family went ahead with their show the following weekend. That’s what professionals do. In my case, I admitted to the mistake immediately, pulled the app from the App Store, posted prominent notices on our blog and on Facebook, and went to work to find the problem. By 2 AM I had the first round of fixes made to the code. After a short nap, I found and fixed the rest of the problems (which required examining about 300 places in the code) and was ready for beta testing by mid-afternoon. We went through three beta versions in 24 hours, and I didn’t upload the final build to Apple until I had a clean bill of health from the testers.

Apple cooperated by approving my request for expedited review, and accomplishing that review within an hour.

In the end I was able to stand up and walk off the mats under my own power. The fans were great; they encouraged me by applauding through the whole thing. I was concerned that some would want their money back, but I got not a single complaint.

While I probably won’t be shopping for a safety net, I may consider doubling the mats.

VBScript/Classic ASP Function Parameters

I know that VBScript passes parameters by reference, but I seldom take advantage of that feature. So when I need it, I am always able to convince myself that I’m misremembering. So here are the results of a recent test to remind me:

function Three(N)
	N = 3
	Three = 0
end function

dim x
x = 1
Response.Write "<p>x = " & x & "; Three(x) = " & Three(x) & "; x = " & x & "</p>" & vbCrLf


x = 1; Three(x) = 0; x = 3

An Open Letter to Those Who Send Their “Sympathy”

This is the eighth in what has unfortunately turned into a series of articles. Here is the seventh, and here is the first

Since writing this, I’ve spoken to a person who knows Helen personally and confirms that the suspicions expressed in this article as to the source of these cards are true.

We have one of those US Mail “cluster boxes” at the entrance to our subdivision. Apparently the rising cost of postage doesn’t cover the cost of walking all the way to my front door, like it does for the homes a block away in an older neighborhood. As a result, I don’t pick up my mail very often. Maybe once a week or even once every other week. So our mail ends up coming in very large batches.  I normally sort the mail into “open eventually” and “recycle right now” piles. The former is divided into “business” and “personal” mail. Business mail gets taken to the office. Personal mail tends to sit unopened. All my important bills are paid automatically. What could be worth opening?

Today I received two hand-addressed envelopes, sent to me by my first initial and last name, and both sent from Oklahoma City, OK. Neither had a return address. One was sent three days after the other. It’s unusual to get a hand-addressed letter these days, so I opened the two cards right away even before finishing the sorting.

They were sympathy cards. That’s odd, because nobody close to me has died recently. They were unsigned, but each had a Bible reference hand-written inside. This is not an unusual way for Christians to wish each other well — sending along a Bible verse for encouragement. Nobody ever actually looks those up — or they’re so familiar that we don’t need to. But since I wasn’t expecting any sympathy cards and since these were unsigned, I thought the verses might contain a clue as to the identity of the sender and the reason he or she sent them.

They did.

The first passage cited was Matthew 12:36-37:

36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

The second card cited Luke 6:45:

45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Not your usual sympathy-card verses.

Both passages share the theme of judgment for good and evil words. Was someone trying to acknowledge something good I had said, or rebuke me for something evil? Given that they were sympathy cards, I can only assume the sender is saying that I or someone close to me should (or will) die for something evil I said. But who might think that of me?

I checked the postmark. Who do I know in Oklahoma? Nobody!

Wait… I do know somebody in Oklahoma!

Turns out Helen Joanne Pearce, my favorite Florida felon, is from Chickasha, OK — about 40 miles from Oklahoma City. Her parents still live there — at the address Helen cited in her petitions against Doug and me when she asked the court for an injunction against each of us. When Doug went to his hearing in March, Helen’s dad had come from Oklahoma to accompany her. I don’t know if he came for my hearing, since I stayed home and sent my High Priced Lawyer in my place. My High Priced Lawyer doesn’t care whose daddy shows up for the hearing, so he didn’t say if Helen had anyone with her.

Did Helen’s parents send the threatening cards?

The first card was sent three days after the judge dismissed Helen’s bogus petition for lack of jurisdiction. The second card was sent three days after that.

If Helen’s parents have been to this site they know I’ve never involved them in this matter. I have no intention of harming or even visiting them. I’ve never threatened them, never spoken to them, never even exchanged emails with them. I’ve never published their names or their address in connection with my investigation of their daughter’s fraudulent activity. I’ve never asked anyone else to contact them on my behalf.

My only concern for them is as a fellow parent of adult children. If I was in their position I would want to be aware of my daughter’s bad behavior for a couple of reasons. First, so that I could encourage her to change her ways and take up an honest profession. Second, so that I could be planning ahead for the future of my grandchildren in the event she ends up doing time for her multiple felonies.

Is it possible these anonymous cards are from someone else? Perhaps a disgruntled customer? Sure. But I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years now and I can tell you the usual odd stuff I get in the mail isn’t anything like this. It’s usually end-of-the-world prophecy newsletters, but I’ve also seen perpetual motion machine investment opportunities and — my favorite — a brochure on the benefits of castration for holy living. This is different.

And it’s unusual to get something anonymous. Most people want you to know who they are, because they see themselves as living prophets — the most important people on the planet.

And what a coincidence that this shows up at a time when I know I don’t have any heated discussions going on with customers, people on Facebook, members of my church, neighbors, etc. but I do have a rather incendiary website dealing with an un-convicted felon with ties to the location from which these cards were ostensibly sent.

And what a further amazing coincidence that the handwriting matches samples of handwriting in my possession known to be from Helen’s father.

So, Mr and Mrs Helen’s Parents, if these cards didn’t come from you, let me know. If they did come from you and you’ve thought better of it, I would welcome an apology. If I’ve misunderstood your message, I would welcome any positive contact from you to make it more clear.

In the meantime, I want to make sure this information is made public so that if I or a member of my family goes mysteriously missing, law enforcement will have a place to start. At a minimum, even if not involved in the death of me or a family member, the sender is already subject to up to five years in prison for sending threats through the US Postal Service (18 USC Chapter 41).

I am intentionally not posting pictures of the other card nor the envelopes. I am not posting any of the evidence I have that backs my assertion that these threats are from Helen’s parents. This is done in an effort to not elevate this aspect of the investigation, since it involves a third party against which no allegations of wrongdoing have been made as pertains to Helen’s fraudulent real estate activity.

Advancing Technology by Lying to Developers

Mobile devices have been increasing in screen size, screen resolution, memory, and other capabilities on a continuous basis from the time I got my first Apple Newton MessagePad in 1993. Back then screens were about 336×240 pixels, and each pixel was either on or off — no color. There was a total of 4.625 MB (that’s MEGA bytes) of memory. My first Windows CE device was probably my HP 620 LX in 1998. It was a “clamshell” design with a 640×240 screen and 16 MB of memory.

The thing we knew intuitively from being involved in personal computing since there was such a thing as personal computing was that “change is the status quo”. Our programs never assumed how big the screen was, because we knew our program would need to run next week on a bigger screen, so we wrote our code so that it queried the operating system to ask how big the screen was before dynamically laying out its user interface to fill all available pixels. We never assumed that devices would always be monochromatic, so we wrote our compressed file format to accommodate “words of Christ in red” before they could even be displayed in anything but black on a greenish screen. And even though the entire Bible wouldn’t fit in memory of those first devices, we plowed ahead with the best compression we could manage and a user interface that supported displaying two Bibles simultaneously, knowing that very soon you’d be able to get not just one of our Bibles but two whole Bibles onto the device at the same time.

Fast forward to the iPhone in 2007. When you work for Apple you apparently get big-headed and begin to think you’re among the smartest programmers in the world. Nobody can match your brilliance. Each generation of device you work on is “magical”. It has capabilities and features that nobody could have imagined even six months ago. Features like a more memory and a bigger screen.

Since you couldn’t imagine those features last year, and since you’re God’s gift to technology, you’re positive that nobody else could have imagined those features. So what’s going to happen to all those apps written by people “too dumb to work at Apple” when your new device with a bigger screen comes out? Why, they’ll crash, of course.

Not PocketBible.

You only have to be in this business a week to realize that you can’t hard-code your program to assume a particular screen size. But Apple does this with every single device. Up until iOS 8, we had to prepare a “splash image” to display when the program launched in every possible size and resolution. Currently, that means we have to create launch images in 13 different sizes, one for each iPhone screen size that has ever been shipped, in both portrait and landscape orientation.

Current iOS launch image requirements

Current iOS launch image requirements

If instead they allowed us to manipulate a single image at run-time, we could do all of these with one PNG. But they require us to know every size of every screen we might ever run on (by the way, the image above omits devices prior to the iPhone 4, which would add another half-dozen sizes if they hadn’t already been abandoned by Apple).

This isn’t about managing lots of images. It’s about a philosophy that can’t think past yesterday.

Because of this philosophy, when a bigger screen comes out, Apple either “letterboxes” old apps (putting black bars in the empty space that the program couldn’t possibly imagine would ever be there) or scales them (allowing them to believe the screen is no bigger than last year’s device, then scaling up everything they draw to fill the bigger screen). They believe they are saving developers from having to re-release their apps every time a new device comes out. But in reality, they are requiring every developer to re-release their app to jump through whatever hoop is required to get Apple to stop letterboxing or scaling their apps.

iPhone 6 scaling

Pre-iPhone 6 version of PocketBible on the left gets scaled up. Adding a “launch screen” (which is unrelated to drawing text) tells iOS not to lie to us about the screen size, producing the sharper image on the left with absolutely no changes to PocketBible code!

With iOS 7, there was a special checkbox we had to check to tell the OS that we understood their new semi-transparent user interface elements. With iOS 8, in order to convince iOS not to scale your app (producing blurry text), you have to provide a special, scalable launch image that works on any screen size. (Gee whiz, 2015 and we’re finally recognizing that screens might get bigger in the future! Thanks, Apple!) Until you do that (which requires re-releasing your app), iOS will lie to you about the size of the screen then scale your user interface up to the bigger physical size of the screen, producing blurry text.

Oh, and you still have to provide those 13 launch images for older devices.

The result of this policy of “technical advancement by lying to developers” is that instead of one guy at Apple having to write zero lines of new code, hundreds of thousands of developers have to update and re-release their apps. There would not have been a personal computing revolution in the 80’s and 90’s if Microsoft would have taken this approach. Back then, Microsoft would collect commercial software products and use them for regression testing of new versions of DOS and Windows. After all, you wouldn’t want to do something stupid and break every single app the way Apple does with every release of the iPhone.

This industry used to be exciting. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Technology was changing and we were riding the “bleeding edge”. Now I feel like the only grown up in the room. I want to slap some of these Apple and Google kids around and tell them to shape up.

Delete Program Preferences in OS X (Including Cache)

Often while debugging an app it’s handy to delete its preferences so it will “start over” like a fresh install. You used to be able to find the .plist file in the Preferences folder and delete it. Simple.

Starting with OS X 10.9, preferences are cached. So even after deleting them, they’re still around. Here’s the magic shell command that deletes them:

defaults delete

Pearce v Rairdin

This is the seventh in what has turned out to be a series of articles. Here is the sixth, and here is the eighth.

Helen has been telling people not to pay attention to what they read on this website because I am “currently being investigated for cyberstalking/cyberbullying and court proceedings are being taken against” me. This statement is false. I am not the subject of any investigation. Helen filed a report with the Osceola County Sheriff’s office, which called Helen’s claims “unfounded”. Helen filed for protective orders against me and Doug, one of the commenters here. She won an injunction against Doug, but it only stops him from being within 500′ of her house. It doesn’t stop anything we’re doing on this website, and doesn’t have anything to do with the truth of what is posted here.

This afternoon I was served notice of a hearing on a petition for injunction for protection against stalking. The petitioner is Helen Pearce.

This hearing took place on April 14, 2015. Results are below.


First, let’s dispense with the obvious: The State of Florida defines cyberstalking as engaging “in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.”

I can’t control the emotional effect that anything I post on the internet will have on someone. But I can tell you what the legitimate purpose of these posts about Helen Pearce is: To inform the public about the actions of a person known to the State of Florida to be committing felonies that deprive her victims of money, homes, and peace of mind; to support the efforts of victims of said felon to bring her to justice; and to serve as a point of communication between interested and victimized parties to her crimes.

So I’m not “cyberstalking”.

Helen Confesses to Committing Felonies

Here’s a link to the pertinent section of Helen’s complaint: 2014-02-24 Pearce-v-Rairdin Complaint

In this complaint, Helen claims that she and I “first became acquainted with each other a year ago”. She says that she inquired about a home we had for sale, but did not make an offer.

Now, about a year ago I was contacted by one JJ Pierce of Flat Stone Capital LLC, not Helen Pearce. However, I’m willing to stipulate Helen’s assertion that she is, in fact, JJ Pierce who contacted me on behalf of Flat Stone Capital LLC.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider the implications of that statement: Helen is admitting in a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that she used the alias “JJ Pierce” to contact me on behalf of a company that she fraudulently established for the purpose of escaping detection and committing fraud. She did this just three years after having been arrested for doing the same thing. (She was arrested on fraud charges in 2011 for crimes committed in 2006.)

The night before I was served, Doug was served a similar notice. In the complaint he received, Helen states that her company site is The people we’re working with whose homes were listed on have contracts with Ferin Caffrey, not Helen Pearce. Ferin Caffrey registered the company FSC Endeavors LLC with the State of Florida using a UPS Store as both its principal address and registered office. So by virtue of her sworn statement in the petition for an injunction against Doug, Helen confesses under penalty of perjury to being the fictitious person Ferin Caffrey, who registered FSC Endeavors LLC using false information, which is a third-class felony in Florida.

The website for FSC Endeavors LLC was registered using Matt’s name. Helen’s sworn statement thus implicates Matt in her felonies.

False and Confusing (But Still False) Statements

She goes on to cite “the incident that caused [her] to report it to the Sheriff Department”. She includes a screen shot of this “incident”. It appears someone posted a link to a video on some TV station website. That wasn’t me. Furthermore, it would be very easy to fake something like that. For example, [this is Helen and I just deleted Craig’s example of faking the identity of someone in a post on the Web]. See? Easy.

Helen introduces someone named “Doug” into a complaint presumably about me. Obviously, I know to which “Doug” she is referring. But Doug’s actions don’t have anything to do with whether or not am cyberstalking her. She claims that Doug mentioned he found her Facebook page and says something about a DCF investigation. None of these claims are related to me. Anyone could have found Helen’s Facebook page (before she removed it), and if Doug, in fact, contacted DCF that was his doing and I had nothing to do with it. I report on Doug’s actions here; I don’t direct him to do things nor does he consult with me before he acts. Similarly, I report on what Helen does here; I don’t tell her what to do nor does she ask for my advice before she registers an LLC using an alias. I have never reported here that Doug contacted DCF.

Helen makes claims about what she’s seen on this blog:

  • How I track her
  • Where she frequently goes
  • Her and Matt’s names
  • Addresses
  • Pictures that are copywrited [sic]
  • Boasts of being related to different government branches
  • Encouragement for others to join in

She finds all of these to be malicious, slander, and libel and make her feel threatened, defamed, and fearful.

I have posted a description of how I tracked down information about Helen. I have never “tracked” her. I don’t know where she is or what she is doing right now and have no way of knowing that.

Similarly, I have never posted where she frequently goes.

I have posted some of her previous addresses that are part of public records in order to show connections between her multiple aliases. I have never posted her current address.

I believe the photos I have used are in the public domain, are used with permission, or are “fair use” under copyright law. I have never received an assertion of what Helen calls “copywrite” but I would’ve responded appropriately if I had. In fact, I’m removing photos from my site today to which I think she might be referring in order to avoid all question. The photos were never what the articles were about; they just added color to a bunch of text.

I have never claimed to have been employed by or “related to” different government branches.

So of these, I have explained some of how I have tracked information about her for the purpose of showing how JJ Pierce, Julie Bell, Neleha K. Dun, and all of her other aliases really are Helen Joanne Pearce. She has confirmed now that my conclusions were true. I have published Helen and Matt’s names for the purpose of warning others who might fall into their scam and to assist those who have cause to bring charges against her for fraud. I have encouraged others to help us find out more about her for the purpose of bringing her to justice. None of these things constitute “cyberstalking”. And furthermore, I have not published anything “too personal”, such as her home address, names of her children, etc. even if someone brought that information to my attention at my request.

Specifically, I do not wish harm on anyone nor do I incite others to do so. I have not written anything malicious. Similarly I haven’t threatened anyone with harm.

The words slander, libel, and defamation all kind of mean the same thing. They all require that a statement be made that is provably false. I have not made any provably false statement about Helen or Matt, and more importantly, she has not cited any examples of provably false statements that would constitute slander. She makes the claim that she has been slandered and threatened, but she doesn’t explain how.

The sum of all this is that she has no reason to be fearful. She hasn’t given any examples of maliciousness, slander, or threats. Any fear she has does not come from anything I’ve said here or elsewhere. As proof of her lack of fearfulness, she did not request protection for her children nor did she provide information about where they go to school so that I could be barred from going there. She did not request any protection for Matt. When my lawyer asked to delay my hearing to give him time to prepare a defense, the judge asked Helen if she would agree to a six-week delay, and Helen answered in the affirmative. She clearly does not feel that I am an imminent threat. She is not acting like a person who is in fear.

She did ask that I be restricted from being near an address in Oklahoma and another address in Texas that is unfamiliar to me. I have never had contact with the people at the address in Oklahoma (though I know who they are) nor with whoever is at the address in Texas.

Helen states that the majority of my home page is now dedicated to Helen (suddenly speaking of herself in the third person, suggesting someone else actually wrote her statement). This is both false and irrelevant. Helen-related content as of the date of her complaint was slightly less than half according to the word count. The reason it’s there at all is that interest in Helen from law enforcement, the media, and victims has been heating up lately, and since the Helen-related content of the blog is minimal (only about 14% of the total articles as of the date of the complaint), it can be hard to find. [Furthermore, as of the date this post was written, all Helen-related content was categorized as “Miscellaneous” on this site, further adding to the difficulty locating that information. I’ve since moved her stuff into a “Real Estate” category.]

Helen complains that an entire page on my site is dedicated to sending “them” (i.e. me) reports of information anyone can find about her. She doesn’t say which page this is, but I suspect she refers to the victim report form that was placed here at the request of Osceola County law enforcement so that more people can report to the Sheriff the details of Helen’s crimes. That information does not go to me.

She complains about my Cockroach Tracker app, which she claims “tracks all of us” (though she is the only petitioner so I don’t know who “us” is) so that I can find “more information … to share and use to twist to his harassing behavior”. As I described on the site, Cockroach Tracker examines public databases looking for patterns that will help us find her aliases and false companies, which can be difficult because she’s been committing felonies a lot longer than I’ve been researching her crimes. It doesn’t track anyone else in “us”, whoever “us” is and it doesn’t “track” as in telling me her physical location. It only tells me if she starts a new company and starts contacting other victims under a new alias.

She claims I contacted her through her “work website” on three occasions but doesn’t say what website that is. I have never posted those messages claiming to be Helen’s parents, sister, or Matthew’s parents. And as she implies here, it is very easy for someone to pretend to be someone else when posting messages through contact forms. It would be just as easy for her to pretend to be her parents, sister, or in-laws in order to frame someone else as it would be for that person to actually do it. But what I can say for sure is, that wasn’t me.

She claims I have publicly posted on craigslist about her. She cites no examples. She says I make deceitful and false claims but she does not say what those claims are or proving that they’re false. In any case, I have never posted anything about Helen, true or false, on craigslist.

I did “boast” of finding Matt’s running route. Matt posts it publicly on his public Twitter feed. He stopped posting it a little over two years ago, so what I have is a couple years old. It was interesting to find because it validated that the address we found for her — which was difficult to find since she forms her false companies under false addresses. I did not post a map of Matt’s running route. I’ve never threatened to find and harm Matt, nor have I ever suggested anyone else do likewise. In fact, I’ve suggested that people avoid him since he is a body builder and has a documented history of violence. I’m more afraid of Matt than he should be of me.

We do not have a “team that is working together to cyberstalk and cyberbully”. We do have a team that is working together to bring a known felon to justice.

She cites a particular email address as being mine. It is not.

She claims I “invite hate”. I do not. I do invite victims of Helen’s crimes to contact me so I can help them get involved in bringing her to justice.

She claims I have “made [her] family and [her] a target” but does not cite examples, nor does she say what I’ve made them a target for. Pies? Prayer? Injunctions?

She worries about others acting out of hate but cites no examples of my incitation to hate or malice.

The Version of Craig that Lives in Helen’s Mind is Not Me

I have never threatened Helen nor any member of her family with any harm.

I know a lot more than I have posted. I know where she lives. I know her children’s names. I know her parents names and where they live. I have a copy of a screenshot of Matt’s running route. I know Helen’s maiden name and where she went to school. I believe I could publish some of this information and it would still not be “cyberstalking” but I have never wanted to be close to that line. Posting that information isn’t relevant to my investigation.

I have never posted anything here that I did not believe was provably true. I have not posted anything that was not available from public sources. That is, I have never personally followed Helen around, hired an investigator to do the same, or snooped on her friends or family to develop information that could only be discovered by subterfuge.

I live some 1300 miles from Helen. But from January 2-10, 2015, I was vacationing with my family at Walt Disney World, just a few minutes from Helen’s home. I did not drive by her house. I didn’t try to contact her. I didn’t even stop by the UPS Store at 52 Riley Rd where she claims to have an office. If I was stalking someone, it sure seems like I would jump at the chance to look her up while I was in the neighborhood.


So it boils down to this: In her petition to the court, Helen confesses to committing multiple felonies and implicates her husband in the crimes. She does not cite any examples of anything on this site that she sees as threatening. The only accurate statements in her petition are these: (1) We first became acquainted about a year ago (when she was posing as JJ Pierce); (2) she inquired about but did not make an offer on my house; and (3) I have published her and her husband’s names.

It is true that I have “no dog in this race”. I do have an intense sense of justice, though, and it bothers me that criminals like Helen can walk around free, stealing money from innocent people, living in an upscale, gated community with a private health club, driving a nice car, and living high on the hog while the rest of us have to work hard for what we have. So I’ve donated my time and space both here on this site and at to help those who are victims of Helen’s scam to organize and get some justice. And I’ve spent more than you want to know to defend myself against Helen’s specious claims and frivolous charge of “cyberstalking”. 

And now it looks like I’ll get to make another trip to Florida. Helen has never shown up in court for any of the other cases she has instigated, so I don’t suppose I’ll get to meet her.


March 3, 2015

I decided to send my High Priced Lawyer in my place because I can’t afford to lose the 3-5 days of work it would cost me to go to Florida and defend myself against this frivolous abuse of the legal system. He was able to get the hearing reset to April 14. The only bad thing about that is that it’s the day I normally meet with my tax accountant to get started on my tax return. Darn!

I take some solace in the fact that the judge doesn’t think delaying the hearing for six weeks will put Helen at any more risk of immediate danger, and she’s right. Since I’ve never threatened Helen or her family, nor have I even met any of them or talked to anyone in her extended family, she’s in no more danger from me today or six weeks from now than she was when she filed a false complaint with the Sheriff and perjured herself in her petition for an injunction last month.

April 14, 2015

I participated in the hearing today via telephone. My lawyer had previously filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and the hearing for that motion was scheduled to take place before the hearing on Helen’s petition.

Helen and I were sworn in. Judge Diana Tennis asked me where I live. I said, “Marion, Iowa”. She asked how long I had lived in Iowa, and I said “All my life.” She asked if I had ever been a resident of Florida, and I said, “No”.

The judge pointed out to Helen that I had filed a motion to dismiss based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. That is, we claimed that the court did not have any authority over me, since I’m not a resident of Florida. She asked Helen if she had any legal basis for asking the court to exercise long-arm jurisdiction. Helen wasn’t represented by counsel and apparently hadn’t even read the Wikipedia article on “jurisdiction”, or she would’ve known that she couldn’t answer that question. Long-arm jurisdiction would’ve required her to show that I had some kind of minimal connection to Florida (such as a time-share, vacation home, business office, bank account, etc.), but I don’t. She could have also argued that there was some compelling interest for the state to bypass its normal relationship with other states and usurp Iowa’s authority, but there isn’t. Instead, Helen said it was pretty much like her case against Doug in February; that I had been cyberstalking and cyberbullying her online.

The judge asked my attorney if he had anything to add. He said the court had “absolutely no basis for personal jurisdiction” and furthermore had no subject matter jurisdiction in this case, explaining that I live in Iowa, that none of the alleged acts took place in Florida, and that I had been served in Iowa. He told the court that I had been in Florida recently, but that there was no allegation that I had acted on any of these matters while there. He explained that Helen had the option to charge me in Iowa, where a court would have jurisdiction.

The judge said that many professional lawyers don’t understand the difference between subject matter and personal jurisdiction. This worried me at first because I thought she was talking to my attorney. But she went on to say that, given this fact, she couldn’t expect Helen to understand it. She explained that even if the court could legally deal with the subject matter, that it did not have the power to drag someone from another state into court unless they were served while in Florida. As a result, she simply didn’t have the power to issue the injunction.

Helen asked if she could ask a question, and the judge said yes. Helen explained that the case involved her children and threats against them, just like her case against Doug Hill. She said that DCF was called and implied that I was involved in that. She asked if that made any difference.

The judge said it didn’t matter. First, the injunction was not sought on behalf of the children. In her complaint, Helen claimed that I was threatening her children. But as the judge reminded her, when given the opportunity to name her children in the petition and seek an injunction on their behalf, she chose not to. So no injunction had been sought on behalf of her children. Second, without personal jurisdiction or an argument for long-arm jurisdiction, the judge simply did not have the power to issue the injunction. She advised Helen that if she wanted to, she could file for an injunction in Iowa.

That was it. The judge thanked us for coming and the line went dead.

My lawyer called me later and said he thought we could’ve won on the merits. He said he had read the articles on the website from beginning to end and there was nothing there that constituted any kind of threat that a reasonable person would be afraid of. He had some other suggestions about how to handle this investigation going forward, and I’ll be taking his advice under consideration.

Helen could bring her case here to Iowa, but our laws are different. It’s more difficult to prove cyberstalking because the law is more specific. Florida’s law is very vague. But more importantly, jurisdiction isn’t her problem so coming to Iowa doesn’t make it easier for her. Her problem is that she doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. She perceives that I’m involved in her troubles a lot more than I am.

Furthermore, a protective order doesn’t affect the free speech being exercised on this site. It only keeps me from coming near her house, which I’ve never done and never threatened to do.

I’m happy to have this behind me. Now we can focus our attention on getting information into the hands of law enforcement that will eventually get her arrested. I heard from another victim just a couple days ago. I’m convinced there is no shortage of victims; we just need to find them and get them to file reports with the appropriate agencies.