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First Things First

On this page you'll find my latest Blog entry (and maybe a favorite or two), and in the links to the right you'll find archives of my blogs as well as some essays I've written, and other (hopefully) interesting things.

I've now been on Planet Earth for over 70 years(!) and I've been fortunate to pursue many of my interests, worked in some rewarding positions, traveled all over the United States, and met many interesting people. I hope you find some things on this site of interest, and possibly of use.

First, before reading my blog or any of my essays, you might want to see where I'm coming from. So, here's a link to my "First Things First" perspective: www.bullock.org/pages/perspectives.

Second, check out my books - for sale now!

My Name Is Ben
The First Book in the Open Portal series
A Time And A Place
The Prequel!

And, now for the articles...

Artificial Intelligence - What Could Go Wrong?

July 9, 2024

Those who know me know I'm a tech geek and that I know a few things about software design. However, knowledge of software design is no prerequisite to having valid opinions on this subject.

Having said all that, the most dangerous thing to come down the pike recently is the increasing advancements in Artificial Intelligence development. It seems everyone these days involved in software developoment is either concentrating on AI, or they have an AI component to their project(s).

Now, AI has lots of positive posssibilities, from performing menial labor tasks, to highly advanced medical applications. One can take practically any industry or vocation and imagine a myriad of possibilities where AI could make a huge difference.

But, as with any advancement in technology, there are dangers that need to be considered. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence, the most prevalent danger is not one of Artificial Intelligence, but of the lack of Human Intelligence - or worse, the presence of Human ignorance or the much more dangerous Human depravity!

I know, I know - everyone points to The Terminator movie as the fear attached to AI, but the idea behind that movie wasn't wrong (although the time travel aspect is - and this statement comes from someone who's written two fictional books about time travel!). The dangers of what could happen if AI is released, either as a result of ignorance or mischief, in a way that could potentially do major damage to humanity or human systems is of enormous concern.

Add to that the simultaneous proliferation of IoT devices (the 'Internet of Things') that are being embedded in practically everything you buy, and the combination of IoT and AI gone wild is one of the most frightening things since we split the atom. While there are some who are trying to sound the alarm, the proliferation of AI is greatly outstripping the level of concern that AI run amuck could do major damage - and the government, as usual, is not only far behind the curve, but the politicians are, again as usual, clueless. Additionally, many of us (me included) are just as wary of government run amuck as we are of AI.

"SO," you say, "Mr. Smarty Pants - what are you proposing"? That's a good question. I guess I'm proposing that we need to question every single use of AI, and demand accountability and disclosure from any process or product where AI is a component. It's why I don't have any IoT-enabled appliances. I don't want anything that could be used to collect information or surviel my private activities, or worse, steal personal data. Make no mistake, every interaction you have with almost any electronic device these days collects information from and about you, usually to try to sell you something. But, many are now becoming aware of the dangers that are possible (maybe even probable) when governments collect massive amounts of information on individuals. The Chinese software productions, such as Tik-Tok and others, are already infamous for doing just such collections. As a matter of fact, if you work for the Federal Government in the United States, it is illegal to have the Tik-Tok app on any of your devices. AI has already been misused!

While these are things I'm concerned about, it may already be too late. I'm not saying an Arnold Swartzenegger-like android is going to show up at some point, but I do think it's interesting that the most popular operating system that drives these devices is called "Android", and was developed by Google - the most intrusive entity on the Internet.

Hmmm...I could be wrong about that Arnold thing....

Are We The Apostate Church?

November 2023

Update: Thursday, May 30, 2024

Based on the events today with the wrongful conviction of former President Donald Trump, this essay is even more relevant!

The Bible, in several places, speaks of men who will penetrate, and eventually in many cases, permeate the Church. In some cases it affects a wide area of Christendom (multiple Church congregations), and in some cases it may be more localized. Christ's letters to the Churches in Revelation specifically mention two Churches through the ages where this occurs: The Church at Sardis, and the Laodicean Church. While many (and I'm one) subscribe to the belief each of these letters to specific churches in Asia also reference time periods down through history, or "Church Ages", Laodicea being the final church, likely the church on earth at the Rapture.

If this is the case, doesn't that put us directly in the Laodicean Age? I think it does. Now, this does not mean that every congregation of every denomination is apostate, but it does speak, I think, to churches in our time in general. What do I mean by that?

In the 20th Century, the Church has, on many fronts, surrendered to the Spirit Of The Age (see Ephesians 2:2). It was a gradual surrender, but on many fronts the Church has become ineffective, especially here in the United States.

When Alexis De Tocqueville visited the United States in the 19th Century to discover what made this country so special, one of the things he observed and realized was the effect of religion on the morality found in most areas of the burgeoning Republic. He also realized that if we lost that moral compass, we would begin to decline. We have done exactly that.

"How?", you ask. It began in the early twentieth century when factions led by men like John Dewey believed that the "State" - the government - should be in charge of education and worked to wrestle control from the Church, the local community, and finally the states, and set up public schools administered by the federal government. Over the remainder of the 20th Century, this is exactly what happened. Before 1900, most primary education was local in nature, primarily administered by the family or the local body of believers. Government run institutions were the exception rather than the rule. Then the 16th Amendment, and taxation slowly began to bleed resources from individuals and businesses, and in 1979, President Jimmy Carter (a Baptist!) signed into law the Department of Education Organization Act, which established the federal Department of Education. In the intervening years, the DoEd has assumed control of almost all educational policies and curriculum in the United States. Now public schools are the rule, and private schools of any type are the exception, and tuition must be paid out of individuals pockets, even though the government collects taxes to finance education. Some areas are attempting to at least take those confiscated funds and let the parents decide, through vouchers or similar devices, which school they fund - but as we all know, anything that goes through the government's hands has strings attached.

But, that's just one area. In 1954, Senator Lyndon Johnson introduced an amendment to the Tax Code that prohibited non-profit organizations (and he was specifically targeting Churches, some of whom had opposed his election) from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Some thought this was a good idea, and while how and when Churches should be involved in the political discussion may be debated, this amendment was the opening shot that eventually caused the Church to back away from anything political in nature. In other words, the one institution with scriptural instructions to be "salt and light" in a sinful world gave up a big piece of that mandate.

The next piece was the elimination of any religions influence in the public arena. This actually goes all the way back to 1890 when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of Catholics who objected to the use of Protestant Bibles in public schools. Beginning in 1955, many areas attempted to proscribe a standard "school prayer", but in 1962, primarily through the efforts of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the government banned all prayer from the public schools. While there was lots of noise and outcry, the Church buckled and the atheists won. Once that was accomplished, that prohibition was much easier to incorporate into other areas. When was the last time you saw a prayer before a sports event?

So, in the space of 100 years, the Church conceded education and political influence to the State, which then all but forbade Bible reading and public prayer to anyone but those inside the Church. Why are we surprised, then, that we face so many evils, perversions, and outright hatred of all things Godly in our society. We can blame many for all this deterioration and collapse, but the fault lies directly at the doorstep of the Church.

Now as one whose first trips as an infant outside my home were to Church, from a family that went (and, by the way, still does go) to Church every time the doors are open, this is no small statement. Indeed, it is also the Church that presents the Gospel to the world - still. But, when it comes to affecting the world around us - being the "salt and light" we were commanded to be - we have increasingly abandoned that mission, and the entire World suffers. Our nation is in constant crisis because of that abandonment, and I see no letting up. In fact, I have witnessed more and more Churches focusing more on the inside of the Church rather than where Jesus focused - those on the outside who most need the Gospel.

If you disagree with this, think about the last time your Church discussed the increasingly troubling political issues facing our nation. Where do your children attend school - a public institution, or a Christian-based educational school? Who decides your children's curriculum - the State or the Church - or the families of the children attending the school? Do you sit down and dissect your child's curriculum and make sure they understand the difference between what's being portrayed as fact, and the actual facts? Does your Church ever present possible legislative agendas to your elected representatives to reverse the years of bad legislation? As a matter of fact, do you feel your Church members don't really want to "rock the boat" when it comes to addressing societal problems? I know I do! If I were being honest, I'm part of the problem. All my activities in these areas are done in venues other than my local Church for exactly that reason! I hate that secular organizations would rather discuss these issues than the very institution commanded to do so!

Don't get me wrong, the Church has a valid primary mission in reaching the lost, and teaching Biblical truths, and many are doing a decent job - but we are fighting a losing battle if we don't export those truths to the world around us. In fact, I've witnessed Churches in "competition" with each other to the point where most Churches are only concerned with ministries they themselves sponsor. All the societal changes in the last 100 years I specified at the beginning of this chapter have occurred because, while the Church objected at the initial introduction of each of these issues, we gave up the fight. Why is it Satan always plays the long game, and we simply want to be left alone? Imagine a Jesus-like figure coming in and disrupting today's religions institutions like He did when He was here 2000 years ago. We might find ourselves exercising Biblical instructions for those who would cause trouble in the Church, and remove fellowship from such a person! It's bad enough to think of what would happen if such a controversial figure were to walk into one of our present-day services. Remember, it was the religious institution of the day that crucified Christ - and they used their 'friends' in the Roman government to perform the actual crucifixion!

What I'm saying here is that, while the Church has many times done a good job distributing the Scripture, establishing new Churches, conducting worshipful services, preaching the Gospel, and shepherding the flock, the world around us is crumbling because we abandoned those things the government told us to shut up about, and concentrated on the inside rather than affecting the outside.

It has been so long since the Church was involved in these areas that I'm not sure how we would begin to re-engage in those areas of salt and light.

We are, at a minimum, the birth of the Apostate Church; and at worse, we are the Apostate Church!

Bible Inferences

September 29, 2023

(A series of articles on the Bible and details it provides, but doesn't necessarily spell out.)

Reading the Bible is an adventure every time you open it. History, Tragedy, Hope, Love, and of course, Salvation. Every identifiable literary category can be found, and the amazing thing is that it's all true (except where it specifically indicates an allegorical example is being used - e.g. "Parables"). While there are a lifetime of issues to focus on, one issue that has fascinated me are the inferences.

So much information is given, but yet there is much that is not the real focus. Many times this is because the Bible wishes to impart specific information, while at the same time leaving out details not necessary to impart the primary lesson. Many of these specifics were, at the time, more clear to those who first heard it because they understood the context - much of which has been lost in history. This sometimes serves to deny the casual reader deeper contextual understanding, while at the same time imparting the primary information the text was meant to convey. This may seem like a contradiction, but it is really not. As I said, it's an adventure.

What follows are some of the particulars the Bible has not specifically focused on, yet enough information is given that we may infer some things which may also be true. This is not an attempt to add or subtract anything from what the Bible is meant to convey (See the warning in Revelation 22:19!), but to search for a deeper understanding, particularly by inferring what was actually going on "on the ground" at the time the words were written, or at the time being described by the text. In fact, many sermons are preached on this very assumption!

In other words, "given what the Bible is telling us, what would I see if my own eyes if I were there"? These are the things I think about...

Let's Start With This First:

Let's Write A Book!
It's been done once, but never again....

Article 1:

Heaven, Hell, and Paradise
There is a difference between Heaven and Paradise!

Article 2:

In The Beginning Of What?
The "what" in Genesis 1:1

Article 3:

What Happened Before All That Water?
The world's biggest rainstorm

Article 4:

What Did The Apostle John See At The Tomb?
There's more to it than you realized

Article 5:

How Many Antichrists?
There's always one in the wings...

Article 6:

Hey, I Know That Guy!
Was it like looking in a mirror?

Article 7:

The Shortest Verse Has Huge Lessons
It's amazing how much just two words can say

Article 8:

His Love For Us Is Deeper Than You Realize
He knew what we would do from the start

Article 9:

How Can People Be Saved During The Tribulation?
God has a plan...

Article 10:

Jesus In The Old Testament
'Christophony' is the term

Article 11:

She May Have Been More Influential Than We Know
Just ask Nehemiah!

Article 12:

The Bible Tells Us How Big The Earth Really Is
The information is there - you just have to look...

Article 13:

Are We The Apostate Church?
Is the age of Laodicea upon us?

Article 14:

What Week Are We In?
There are 70 of 'em. Where are we now?

Article 15:

The Case For Thursday
The real meaning of Good Friday

Answered Questions:

Will We Keep Our Memories In Heaven?
The mind is a terrible thing to waste!

Will There Be Non-Believers In Heaven?
God has His standards!

Do Animals Go To Heaven?
Wanna see your pal again?

Why Would God Create Humans?
He went to an awful lot of trouble

Conspiracy? No - just natural.

July 5, 2023

So, let's review the facts:

    1. For the last 100 years, slowly but surely, Congresses, the Presidents, and the Courts, have bit by bit began dismantling the Constitution.

    2. While the 20th Century was young, it was decided that the educational system needed to be taken over by the Federal government. Once that process was started, a companion process began to change the curriculum in such a way that the role of the Founders was de-emphasized, the basic principles on which the country was established were marginalized, and the emphasis changed from preparing young students for life to preparing them for further education.

    3. The Congress, with the consent of the States mind you, made two major changes in the Constitution. First, they made it legal to tax individuals directly on their incomes. Once that was done they put in place a system that made these confiscations before the funds ever reached their rightful owners by deducting it from their paychecks prior to payment. This simple and ingenious process made such confiscations more palatable. Second, they took away the choice of Senators from the State governments and made it a general political process. Once having done this, the government began instituting rules on how elections could be held. When these two major changes were made, the next ingenious step took place: They married these two processes. They created tax-exempt status for entities that promised to stay away from the political process. This powerful incentive was a trap that Churches readily fell into and consequently lost all influence on the national political process. This entire process led to the "Separation of Church and State" Supreme Court ruling that is now bought into almost universally.

    4. With all these changes in place the Federal Government began to creep step by step into everyday life. States were kowtowed by the threat of withholding tax dollars the Feds had confiscated from their own citizens. In the name of safety a well-funded government instituted one-size-fits-all rules on every facet of life from what was in the water to how food could be served. The benefits of such controls became more and more to be offset by the intrusion by the government and the penalties they were more and more imposing on those who refused to live by what the government mandated. This intrusion migrated to almost every facet of life - slowly to be sure so the outrage could be managed - but intrusion nevertheless. Then, in the 6th decade, a powerful politician/President pushed through the master stroke. Under the guise of "eliminating poverty", he set up the most socialistic system ever devised by man - the "Great Society". Trillions of dollars later and poverty is not only still here - it's institutionalized. And pity the poor politician who meddles with all this money and the votes it has bought.

    5. With Churches at bay, seemingly unlimited funding, a political "fix" in place, and educational institutions doubling as indoctrination centers, the slide from Freedom to Tyranny reached its pinnacle when the Supreme Court decreed it was Constitutional to murder human beings before they were physically able to defend themselves - all in the name of "safety" and "privacy" for the would-be mother whom God had designed for just the opposite. Once that abomination was in place, others would become acceptable, and life itself could be snuffed out for any number of reasons, including "death with dignity". Soon, such principles (or lack thereof, actually) assaulted the very basic building block of any society - the family.

    6. The last piece to be put in place, and the basics are already in place, is to protect the government itself from the very citizens who were supposed to be its masters. Tools that could be utilized to keep the government in its place were restricted to government use only, and what tools that are left are more and more restricted for use by the "unwashed masses" - that's us!

Now, all this is demonstrably and historically true, but when presented as I have just presented it, it looks like someone's conspiracy theory. Indeed, there are many out there who vocally present this as just such a conspiracy - and it's possibly true, particularly if you research such things as the "Cloward-Piven Strategy", depending on how much actual planning for all this one thinks might have gone on before now.

But here's where I'm going: What has happened here is a natural process. Governments tend to covet power and are predisposed to gather such power to themselves without any overt planning being required. Our Founders knew this, and agonized on how to design a government that would resist that tendency, and decided to vest as much power as possible in the individual. However, if you read their writings, they knew it was probably not possible to design a system that would forever resist such tyrannical tendencies, but they hoped that, with the processes they'd put in place, the People would stand up and stop it.

Based on where we are now - I'm afraid they were wrong.

There's A War Coming!!

March 31, 2022

On March 27, 2022, the South Carolina Legislature voted to be the 19th State to call for an Article V Convention of States (if you are unfamiliar with the provisions of Article V, here's a link to review). When we reached 17 the year before, we were halfway to the required 34 State Petitions required to force a CoS. Although some are paying attention now, my guess is that once we hit 20+ states, two things will happen: First, Congress will begin to pass legislation designed specifically to thwart other States from calling for a CoS. Now, while that may have some positive benefits, it is NOT a positive thing. Second, the forces opposed to what these Legislatures are trying to do will ramp up their opposition. Further, the closer we get to 34, the harder they will fight - and it's going to get nasty.

One of the most popular, and necessary elements of a possible Convention of States is to pass an preposed amendment and send to the States mandating Term Limits on Congress, the Courts, and possibly other governmental institutions and agencies. Over 80% of Americans surveyed favor some form of term limits on Congress. It's the one item that could change the way things work in Washington (personally, I'd like to move Washington to the middle of the country where there is more sanity, but I digress...). Other things to be considered would be to force a balanced budget, reduce the scope and power of the government, and address fiscal responsibility.

BUT, none of this will happen until after the War. Those who have power, or vested interests in keeping things the way they are, will spare no expense, leave no stone unturned, and will not forsake any action to prevent this Convention from happening. When (not "if") such a Convention is called, the attack will shift from prevention of a Convention, to either destroying anything the Delegates try to do, or to disrupt the proceedings to make it as difficult as possible to complete any proposed Amendments.

As this time approaches, you need to decide how much you want things to change, because this battle will not be fought just in Washington or in the highly-compromised "Press", but will involve every one of us, from your employer, to your friends and any groups or organizations you are affiliated with.

So, when the battle lines begin to be drawn, you need to already be familiar with the issue to address the attacks, from answering concerns that people you know might have, as well as vetting public figures (particularly politicians) for their position as well.

Make no mistake, though - this will be a war. I just pray it doesn't escalate beyond the exchange of ideas and political action. The Founders knew the Convention of States would be a "Hail Mary" (though they had not heard of that term) which would be used when normal tools (elections, court challenges, and common sense) had all failed.

Pretty astute of them to see this coming, don't you think?

If you haven't already joined the fight - what's wrong with you? Start Here:


73, K5YPV

November 27, 2021

Everyone has friends, some that might be referred to as 'close' friends. If you're fortunate, though, you'll have at least one friend you might think of as indispensable. Wayne Ridge was that indispensable friend in my life.

We met when I was 15 years old. I was looking for someone who would help me get in to Amateur Radio, and Wayne was who was recommended to me. The story of my first meeting with him is humorous, but he instantly took me under his wing (he was 8 years older than me) and taught me what I was looking for, as well as a number of other things down through the years. He helped me get my Ham Radio license, and forever K5YPV and WA5TMC were linked. I spent countless hours at his business; we traveled together; we enjoyed our hobby together; and I worked for him for a number of years. For over 53 years, I counted Wayne as one of the closest of my friends.

Over his last three years, we both had health problems, then the Covid pandemic kept us apart, but I always saw a smile from him when I'd show up, and we'd still talk every so often. As his health declined, and the pandemic dangers loomed, it became harder to meet in person, particularly when he was essentially homebound.

Wayne passed away Thanksgiving Day, 2021, and one of my oldest friends has joined all the others we both had said "so long" to over the years. Am I sad? Yes, of course! But from what I know of Wayne, we will see each other again. I'm sad because I can no longer just pick up the phone and call him, and his signal is permanently "off the air", but I wouldn't call him back into this mess from the paradise I'm sure he's now in.

So, 73, K5YPV. I will certainly miss you from this place. But, we'll meet again in a better place where the signals are always strong, the DX is coming in from all over, and it's permanent Field Day. Keep the antennas tuned - we'll all be along shortly.

Karl, WA5TMC

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