February 1, 2021

Browsers, Privacy, and Research Part 2

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

In Part 1, I gave a brief overview of things that are happening in the wild world of browsers. After I commenced my research, I learned that there is a prairie schooner-full of possibilities including several I know nothing about, so most of this discussion is based on personal experience. Remember, I am using a Windows 10 desktop.

We need to be secure from spying, tracking, and hacking. Personal experiences and observations using several browsers. Some may even be surprising.
Credit: Freeimages / Armin Hanisch

In this day and age, we need to be secure from spying, hacking, and tracking.

Something else that bears repeating is that most Windows browsers will get you where you want to go — right out of the box. Which browser is the "best"? Looking at reviews, there is conflicting information. Many times, reviewers use benchmarks (of which there are many, and some view them with mistrust), which should explain why reports on which is fastest are inconsistent. I have also seen conflicting information regarding privacy settings.

A brief comment on browser speed is in order: Someone can have the fastest browser this side of the Pecos and an excellent connection, but sites and servers out yonder can be slow. Check connections to other familiar sites before blaming a browser for being slow.

An area of concern is fingerprinting. Actually, this is where being unique is detrimental. I tested eight browsers at once (my computer is thinking about reporting me for abusing it) with Cover Your Tracks, there are other sites to check them as well. It was nowhere near scientific, because some have add-ons, some have privacy protection built in, and Chrome was used mostly "as is" because I did not add privacy extensions. Six were reported as having good protection, with Brave randomizing the fingerprint as well. Vivaldi was good, with "some gaps". The test on Chrome indicated that I am not protected against tracking. Interesting, because there are polarized results between being very secure or sucking rotten eggs.

Ironically, add-ons to enhance privacy such as blocking trackers can make you identifiable. Technology is constantly changing. The best way to avoid being tracked on the web is to stay off it. Unless someone wants to adopt a hermit lifestyle, that doesn't seem possible. We do what we can to mitigate damages. A VPN (virtual private network) can help, but like everything else I've examined, is not an absolute guarantee of privacy. I don't have one except for the one built into the Opera browser and an extension I use on occasion. Interesting that according to customer service, my provider had blocked a creation science site on their servers, so that Opera VPN got me around that. It turns out that the representative was full of hooey, because a new modem solved the problem. Still, the VPN worked in that situation.

To be direct, I think some privacy concerns are overblown. Using a secure browser on a secure website with a padlock in the address bar means it is usually safe for the average user that wants to check banking information, credit card status, or make a purchase. But then, doesn't it help to use fake names on social(ist) media? Asking for a friend.

I suspect that built-in browser anti-tracking as well as related extensions are a good reason that stats for websites are inaccurate. Someone could very well visit a site but it does not register. In fact, when I had a statistics counter embedded to record sites, I usually had information on the operating system, browser, language, location, and so on. I just tried a couple of browsers on a site that has a stats log that is made visible to the public ("see my stats"), and it didn't know I was there.

On the other hand, I get a mite nervous when I need to do some research on a sensitive topic. (No, I'm not exploring the deep dark web, I wouldn't know how.) The internet provider knows where I am going, but I don't want to announce search terms to the world through Google trackers. A secure browser and a non-tracking search engine (I use DuckDuckGo) can help.

A humorous side note now. In Murder by Death, Tess asked detective Sam Diamond, "Why do you keep all those naked muscle men magazines in your office?" Sam replied, "Suspects! Always looking for suspects!" I can imagine someone asking why I was visiting sites of which they may disapprove, and I would answer, "Research!" They can believe me or not.

Now let's consider some browsers themselves. It seems that people are fanatical about their favorites, but like I said last time, there's no need to feel married to one, and using different browsers for different applications helps in the privacy department. No need to cover all the features and things because many are similar in each. You savvy? Also, tests on speed and things vary. People test them in labs (the results between testers disagree at times), but I'm discussing my experiences.

While most offer to store your passwords and seem to be secure, many people do not allow that. I don't. Instead, I use a password safe that generates unique secure passwords — even I don't know them. You have to have a master password to get in, then you can copy and paste, or use a password manager that synchronizes all of them. Mine works on multiple browsers as well as the desktop version. Seems safer that way.

Sure is annoying to tweak each browser's dictionary and add specialized words that I have to use such as uniformitarianism and mitochondrial DNA, but that's the way it goes.

When doing your own research, check the dates. This child has seen harsh reviews of, say, Edge, but they were several years old and the browser has changed quite a bit for the better since then.


Opera

This will be short because it's not in my heavy rotation. Part of the problem is that it's partly or mostly controlled by the ChiComs, and I don't want them in my home any more than they are already. However, it does work. I don't know if it was an earlier release, but if I rightly recollect, there was something a bit off about the way it rendered pages, but I don't see that happening now. It is considered good for privacy concerns such as tracking, and will probably let you make a secure online purchase.


Firefox

This one was an old friend. I lost interest for a while, but it has had substantial upgrades and is my current default browser. It scores well in privacy areas. You can save and synchronize your bookmarks across several devices, and even have them saved in your account. That was helpful when I upgraded to a new computer and installed FFX, but the best (and most detailed) way is to back up your profile. They give you instructions for that on the site. It also has blockers for ad tracking that I supplement with extensions, but more about those next time.

There was a "notes" function at one time, but that was apparently put out to pasture. Well, we do have other software for that. Also, the "Take a Screenshot" function can be accessed with a right-click. I like this one better than in other browsers that have it.

Our break-up was difficult for me. After FFX did a hard left politically and hypocritically promoted internet censorship, I uninstalled it. Too bad for many reasons, one of which is that I didn't want this to be a political article. The rest of it is not, however.

I read mixed reviews of the Pale Moon browser, but those that were most negative were older, so I'm giving it a test drive. There were some features and extensions in Firefox I wasn't happy to go without, but this fork seems adequate. Interestingly, one internet test of browser security rated it higher than the Brave browser, but it appears that my internet fingerprint on it is like sending up a flare. It will be for occasional use. Like the others, it works immediately after installing.


Forking

Despite the faults of Google, they seem to be looking out for us regarding hacking. This weblog is a Google property, and I have 2-factor authorization enabled. I just signed into this account and had three alerts, including on my Android phone. Coupled with the strong password, that account feels protected.

The rest of the browsers discussed below are "forks" or modifications of the Chromium browser source code, which is the foundation for Google's Chrome. I have used several that are more secure than Chrome. No need to switch and ditch, folks can see what they like. Some are so much like Chrome, the user will have to check to see which browser is currently running. For the most part, extensions are compatible and can be downloaded from the Chrome store.


Avast Secure Browser and CCleaner Browser

For writing this section, I switched to the Avast browser.

Some people have burrs under their saddles because the Avast! antivirus company was allegedly using a company that shared data. This was rectified, but I've seen some sites that are unforgiving. The antivirus itself usually has a high ranking, even on the free version. To complicate matters, Piriform makes CCleaner, which has an almost identical browser — and Avast! owns Piriform now, so why have two browsers? 

Some folks got irritated because there was software bundling going on and suddenly, they found they had a new browser installed! If they weren't paying attention and opting out, they could simply use Revo Uninstaller or something else and remove it.

The CCleaner and Avast browser work, and they seem to try very hard to keep the user safe. Ad blocking, anti-fingerprinting, blocking phishing sites, anti-tracking, webcam guard, and more. They also guard against extensions, so the user needs to confirm that they are indeed wanted. Some malware will try to add something without the user's knowledge, and this guard shows up when I go to the Chrome Web Store to download an extension. I actually had to allow some extensions twice, so that cuts down on browser hijacking. By the way, I did not download adblock extensions and these still scored well in that fingerprint test mentioned earlier.

Again, very much like Chrome, but more secure. If has the Avast! antivirus, their browser links up with it for Banking Mode. Although I do not have it on this computer, I remember how Banking Mode pretty much isolated the browser from other parts of the computer; I needed to use other keys or disengage it to do other things. Check banking information, credit cards, whatever else, then exit and go about other business.

Between, the two, I preferred Avast! to CCleaner.


Edge

Some people just have to live on the edge. Now I am writing using the Edge browser. Yeah, I know, people love to hate Microsoft while using their products at the same time. Internet Explorer was dreadful, which prompted competition from Netscape. That, in turn, evolved into Firefox. IE was improved over the years, and apparently Microsoft had a chimera of IE that they called Edge for Windows 10 users. Gallop ahead to today, and Edge is another Chromium-based browser that has its own extensions library, but also accepts them from the Chrome Web Store.


It feels  more robust in rendering sites and videos, but I'll allow that it may be just my imagination. Edge has been reliable and fast. It, too, scored well in my fingerprint security test. I also read conflicting reports: great on anti-phishing, bad on being hacked in a test — in 2017! Even so, I gave it a fair trial by making it my system default browser for a few weeks.

It integrates with the user's Microsoft account, but that is not mandatory. I found it helpful. Also, it can synchronize your data (including collections, favorites, extensions, and so on) to the account and also other devices.

A researcher may be interested in something they call "Collections". A page can be saved into a panel that is accessible through a command or keyboard shortcut, then retrieved later:

Ready to add a page to a collection
In addition, text can be selected and added to a collection as well, easily added with a right-click of the mouse. I even made a couple of collections that are only text. This feature seems to work like OneNote, and since it, too, synchronizes in the account, I can work on things with my smartphone. F'rinstance, I pondered a topic, made notes or saved links in collections, and added to it on the go. Don't expect to write a novel in the collections area, space is limited.

Edge also has a built-in web capture (screenshot) capability that is easily accessed through a right-click. From there, notes can be added and there is a "draw" thing that I do not use. It's useful, but when in a hurry, slapping that Print Screen button is mighty handy, and I can paste it into photo editing software right quick-like.

Unless I'm missing something, the ALT+Tab that normally lets one scroll through applications gets troublesome. I can have many tabs open, but when I want to go back and forth between Edge and, say, LibreOffice Writer, it moves to the next tab instead of to the application. Tricky, so I have to use the mouse and click between the two. It's difficult to be me.

Vivaldi

Now I'm using the Vivaldi browser, and have a few things to say about it. Like the others, it will do what it's supposed to right away. It was initiated around 2015 by someone who was angry with the Opera company's actions. With the enthusiasm to make something else that is better, Vivaldi is lacking in some areas. 

I was unable to import bookmarks very well. It shoved them all into a folder called "Imported", so I had to make my own folders and move bookmarks into them. Reading the forums, there are several items that have not been addressed (such as typing a site name and then pressing CTRL+Enter to reach a destination; a minor detail that could have been easily fixed). It has problems enabling extensions, such as Speed Dial 2, which was ruined by a Vivaldi update. Also, the user has to hunt for solutions to certain things that are not issues in other browsers.

This is another one that I used as a default browser for a few weeks, then I went back to Firefox. It seems clunky and there is a lack of professionalism to it. It promises to be secure, but I lack belief that this is a promise on which I can hang my hat. Seems like they spent a lot of time making it customizable and gimmicky rather than robust.

However, there are a couple of things that I found very useful for writing and research. We can stack tabs and tile them side-by-side. My usual approach when featuring an article is to write an introduction, add some thoughts and other links, excerpt, link to finish reading, and often a video at the end. Some rather involved articles require frequent reference, so I can have them next to each other. However, I can also use side-by-side windows instead, as seen here:

Vivaldi and Firefox on the screen at one time
The "Notes" feature is interesting and useful. Highlight text and send it to a note, or open it up and add some thoughts. Like with the collections on Edge, space is limited. Fine, add another one. Also, a note can be inserted into an article. I need to explore this more fully.

Notes and tab tiling are two big reasons that I have not scrapped this browser. Again, it does browser stuff as well as the others. It also seems to be a bit faster.

Brave

I was afraid of the Brave browser (see what I did there?) because it has some unusual attributes. There are some negative things to say, but let's be clear: it seems to be faster, and I'm trying it out as my default browser for a few days.

Any user can ignore much of this stuff, but it blocks ads and tracking. Sometimes, it can break a site, so the user must switch off the shields for a while, or permanently on certain sites. Brave has a strange cryptocurrency token thing happening with "Brave Rewards" where users get "paid". To do that apparently requires a lot of browsing on participating sites, and someone could make a few grotzits. Ain't no way I'm giving the bank information to Uphold so they can verify my wallet.

This is all opt-in or opt-out, so people don't need to let this overwhelm them. Those who want to investigate and are excited by cryptocurrency, go for it and see how it goes.

People are excited by this newcomer. Brave is by no means the first one with an emphasis on privacy. This one is strong on security and blocking trackers. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but it's fast and gets the job done, and many people are enthusiastic about it. It keeps offering to save passwords even when that is switched off in settings, but that will probably be fixed later.

In the previous article, I mentioned "incognito" or "private browsing". Usually, this works as a "safe mode" where extensions are disabled. No private browsing window is going to give the user added security on the web. They do not store history, cookies, and whatever from that session; my wife won't be able to find out that I was looking to buy her a talking moose head for her birthday. Brave gives you an option of a regular private window or one with the Tor "onion routing" network, which gives more security.

The people behind the Gab social media service have a fork of Brave called Dissenter. It still needs polish, but is supposed to have speed and security.

Concluding Thoughts

We covered several browsers. Some of them may have seemed surprising, but I thought they worked well for the most part. I really want to say again that there is no cost or commitment, and people may want to seriously consider different browsers for different purposes. Or maybe family members. If you want to check some out, the links are above in the product names.

Hindering the efforts of trackers and hackers and spies (oh my) does not begin or end with safe browsers. While that is important, we must keep our computers ready. After all, technology is constantly changing, so something might burrow through the shields. A reliable virus scanner is essential, as is malware protection. When the software calls home and wants to apply updates, let it. They are often just facelifts, but we don't want to let repairs get left outside in the rain — updates can contain security fixes.

At one time, I used CCleaner. It would clean out tracking cookies, the cache of browsers, and the registry. Some folks didn't like it, and one made the assumption that since people only use one browser anyway (yeah, right), he had some tedious instructions on how to go without CCleaner. I kept using it until I got this new computer. Free software called Glary Utilities was recommended. Both Glary Utilities and CCleaner have both free and paid versions, but I don't need the higher level. I run Glary Utilities every day for cleaning out the registry, check for spyware and malware that got through, erase tracks, and more.

The next part in this series (hopefully the last, writing this one tired me out) is what I consider the most fun: browser extensions. No, I'm not going to throw out a list of "must have" items, but those that have been helpful in my research and writing. Quick note: people who go wild with extensions and customizations are taking risks with their privacy.

January 28, 2021

A Bad Breakup with Firefox

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This is somewhat depressing. I feel like an old friend betrayed me, having used Firefox off and on for several years, and now this. It has made many improvements in speed, reliability, and security, but the Mozilla company has taken the bit of leftist politics into its teeth and jumped the corral fence.

It was disappointing to learn that Mozilla, makers of Firefox, are promoting internet censorship. This is unacceptable, and there are other options.
This derivative image was further modified at PhotoFunia.

Shouldn't web browser companies focus on keeping us secure from tracking, spyware, hacking, and such? The expression "stay in your lane" comes to mind. I was dismayed to learn that Mozilla, makers of Firefox, have called for deplatforming and punishment of President Trump and others. So they are in favor of censorship.

I am not uninstalling Firefox because I'm leaping onto the bandwagon and saying, "Me too!" or to look good to folks who call themselves patriots. This was unpleasant news to me, and I didn't know about it until the night before I wrote this article. Unfortunately, it has some features that really don't want to live without.

Despite some negative reviews, I've saddled up the FFX-derived Pale Moon browser for a test ride. It's reasonably safe, but I can tell right now that it probably won't become my default browser. For one thing, it made writing this article difficult by refusing the "paste unformatted text" function of CTRL+SHIFT+V, and launched some of that web inspection stuff — how many people need that, really?. I moved over to the Brave browser to finish this. Also, some add-ons/extensions upon which I rely are not available in Pale Moon. Still, I can use it as a stand-by and a utility. Great name, too.

Firefox, I'll be a fool for your lovin' no more.

While writing this, I saw an article about FFX banning a "Dissenter" plugin. I don't know about it. They should be dropping plugins/extensions/add-ons that are not safe, but this was apparently a slap in the face to free speech. I wonder if the Dissenter browser is any good? Well, I do have quite a few installed now, so I'm only curious.

Now I have to find an alternative to Mozilla's "Thunderbird" desktop email client.

January 1, 2021

Browsers, Privacy, and Research Part 1

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

All y'all should know up front that this series of articles is based on my experiences as a Window 10 desktop computer user. Many of the things discussed will apply to laptops (are they different from notebooks?), but mobile devices will be left alone for the most part. Exploring browsers can be fun!

So many browsers out there to choose from. Most do the job right out of the box. Beginning a series on my browsers, and will discuss extensions.
Credit: Pixabay / Pete Linforth

While many people are content to use the browser that came with their computer, they may ignore the fact that there are many browsers to choose from. Since Google (the parent company is Alphabet) dominates teh interwebs, sojourners on their properties are inundated with, "Hey, we're the best! Download Chrome!", which is probably why they have a huge market share (a difficult process that reminds this child of political polling) in the browser wars. The dominant browser years ago was Internet Explorer, which more experienced users loved to hate.

If you want to move around the web, the major browsers will get the job done. Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi (which evolved from Opera), Safari —

"That creation scientist also designed a browser, Cowboy Bob?"

No, you're thinking of Dr. Jonathan Sarfati.

Firefox, Edge (the Microsoft replacement for Internet Explorer), and many more. They will get the basic job done right out of the box. What I am going to discuss are the browsers (and later, the extensions/add-ons) that I have used.

 

Considering Privacy

Should we be concerned about tracking and privacy? It's a tough call, and it may feel like the big companies know everything about each of us already, so there's not point in bothering. After all if you disable those packets of data known as cookies, your internet activities will be severely curtailed. Most are good, some are used by sidewinders to spy on us. They can generally be cleared out of browsers, but if you get radical on clearing the browser's cache, you must log in at every site where you've logged in before.

The most popular browsers claim to protect your privacy, but many people are leery of Chrome because of Google's reputation for censorship, tracking, allegedly selling information, and so on. While my weblogs are a part of Google's ecosystem, I still try to reduce my activity.

I do not use Chrome very much. Just as a standby.

Several browsers have enhanced protection built in and active, though some require the user to enable them. Ad-blocking, anti-fingerprinting, suspicious site protection, and more are there to help us. Don't be disunderstanding me, Chrome has privacy features as well and they are probably effective.

One of the simplest privacy extensions is that special function that has names like "In Private", "Incognito", "Private Mode", and similar. This bad boy lets you visit any site, but it's like you've never been there before. You'll have to log in to sites (including 2-step verification if enabled), but cookies and history are made to go away when you close it. Not only does that help with internet privacy, but snoopy spouses, children, siblings, dorm mates, and so on.


Stick a Fork in It

The ranch house for many browsers is open source code. Modifications of browsers are sometimes called forks. Mayhaps it has something to do with a fork in the road, because I can't see a culinary connection. Chrome, Vivaldi, Edge, and others are based on the Chromium source. From Chromium, the other companies add their own bells and whistles. In many ways, a Chrome user can download other browsers, import their bookmarks/favorites and other data, and see little or no difference. Firefox also has forks, but those seem less common and are considered unreliable or even pointless because FFX is more powerful.

 

Having Multiple Browsers

Apparently most people just use one browser. That's fine, and the privacy-minded can have extensions that help a great deal (more about that another time). However, having a One Browser to Rule them All mindset cuts down on the privacy. It has been suggested to have different browsers for different purposes.

You can have one for banking and other financial activities, another for social(ist) media, a third for— well, you get the idea. Listen, it's not a commitment. You bought the horse but don't like the way it balks at jumping fences, take it back. I mean, browser. I haven't seen one that you have to purchase outright, so if it doesn't work, uninstall it. I'm partial to Revo Uninstaller, and have used the free version for years until I upgraded to the paid version just recently. But never mind about that now.

That's enough for this first installment. I'll tell you about my main browsers, some that are auxiliary, and a couple of others next time. However, I'm looking forward to discussing extensions and why some are essential, but a security risk. Oh, a bonus right now: ditch the browser toolbars, they usually have malware or other risks. Look it up.

December 23, 2020

Nancy Pelosi Fans Flames of Science vs Faith

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Nancy Pelosi, leftist Democrat Speaker of the House of Representatives, has made it clear many times that she is dishonest and incompetent. In her latest fatuous remarks foolishness, she attempts to demonize people of faith for allegedly 'not believing in science".

Nancy Pelosi claimed the stimulus bill was delayed because people of faith do not believe in science. Clearly another lie to dehumanize Christians.
Made at PhotoFunia

In an article on Piltdown Superman, I wrote about how atheists and other anti-creationists dehumanize their targets. Indeed, this sort of thing only escalates. (Just think of Germany in the years around 1939 where Jews were dehumanized.) In an earlier article on this weblog, I wrote that leftists are demonizing supporters of President Trump, and they want to punish us — some are even recommending reeducation camps.

Let's saddle up and ride to higher ground to get a bigger picture.

One major instance where Nanny Pelosi demonstrated her lust for power and prestige was promoting the Obamacare bill. But what was in it? She said that we have to pass the bill to find out what's in it. Great idea. In fact, that's how I buy houses. I just plunk down the money and find out later if my million dollar investment has been worthwhile.

Pelosi is supposedly a Roman Catholic. Since people don't trust atheists (for many good reasons), claiming to be Catholic is safe enough for many people — especially if you don't practice some of the core values, such as the sanctity of life. No, she is definitely not a Catholic in good standing. It is a religion for convenience and posturing.

She said that people didn't follow the science regarding the Wuhan virus. Anyone with a grain of sense and access to a non-censorious search engine can learn that science was at the forefront. (In my opinion, Trump trusted the wrong people too much; he had dyed-in-the-wool Democrats involved. We know how they've obstructed him even before his inauguration.) Nanny also said people have said that they have faith, so they don't believe in science.

Care to back up that claim? Maybe it was the friend of an anonymous source who spoke under conditions of anonymity who had been drinking Quaalude-laced punch. Ironically, while dehumanizing "people of faith", she said that "science is an answer to our prayers" because we can do both faith and science. Two standards, no waiting.

Listen, witch, we know that your flying monkeys believe anything you tell them. There is no conflict between actual science and faith. (Between the pseudoscience of evolutionism and the Christian faith, yes, definitely.) Sheeple will believe her, of course, and that will fan the flames against not only Conservatives, but those of us who believe the Bible. 

What a liar. By the way, Nanny, I can show you many names of people who believe the Bible and are enthusiastic about science. It's really too bad that people who want free stuff and like to be told what they want to hear keep putting this wicked creature in power.

December 13, 2020

Living Under Divine Judgment

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article contains raw emotion, but I hope that some of these thoughts will be useful. I also hope they will be interesting not just to Americans, but people in other Western countries. Supposedly every generation feels that the world is getting worse. Well, it is.

An article written while trying to climb out of despair. Raw emotion, but clinging to faith in God who upholds the universe, not in fallible man.
Credit: Pixabay /Enrique Meseguer
Readers should be informed that I am a Christian, politically Conservative, a biblical (young age) creationist, and believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. I'm not going to spend a great deal of time backing up everything I say because people seldom pay attention to those things anyway, and y'all can look things up your ownselves. But I'll document a few things. 

Leftists and Theological Liberals

It is no secret that political leftists, professing Christians who do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture ("liberal" theology), and misotheists all ride for the same brand. They despise those of us who believe the Bible, and those of us who uphold recent creation and provide refutations of fish-to-fool evolutionism are the worst of the lot. The Democrat party has made its hatred of Judaism and biblical Christianity increasingly known in recent years.

The First Global Divine Judgment

It didn't take long after the Fall of man (Gen. 3:6-7) for sin and wickedness to begin to escalate. Cain's killing of Abel was the first murder, and things only got worse. The Genesis Flood was a global judgment on the wickedness of the day (Gen. 6:5-8). Evil among men was rampant, so God brought the מַבּוּל, mabbul, global Flood (this word is used in the Bible only in reference to the cataclysm).

Future Divine Judgments

People don't like to be told that God is the Creator and we're accountable to him, so biblical creation science is actively suppressed in the secular science industry — especially Flood geology. We learn throughout the Bible (especially in the New Testament) that wickedness shall increase, and people will be going about their business as they did in the time of Noah (Matt. 24:37-39). Then, despite warnings, the Flood swept them away.

People are being warned and told that they must humble themselves and repent before God. Jesus died on a cross for our sins and was bodily raised from the dead, covering the sins of all who place their faith in him. There was a past judgment, and there will be a final Judgment where everyone has to stand before Jesus and everyone will confess that Jesus is Lord — whether they like it or not (Phil 2:9-11). Between the Flood and the final Judgment, there have been judgments upon nations. This is not the kind of message that gets us invited to country clubs.

Past Prophets

When people discuss prophets, many focus on foretelling future events, but this was not their primary focus. They provided warnings and calls to repentance, and in many cases, it did not go well (Luke 11:49-51). Indeed, read the prophets of the Old Testament. Israel would appreciate God, then whore after idols and provoke him to wrath (a common theme in the book of Judges and other biblical books of history), and sometimes the cycle happened in front of the prophets.

I have been very frustrated because I strive to give glory to God and to help equip the saints so they can defend the gospel message — beginning from the very first verse. How can you edify lazy people who are not serious about the Word of God and show no interest in being informed? Indeed, when I post links on social(ist) media, there have been times when I posted the wrong link and people still clicked "Like". Maybe one time someone told me about an incorrect link!

No, I'm not comparing myself to one of the prophets. Something that struck home was in Ezekiel 2:7 and 3:16-21. God said to him that the people were unlikely to listen, but it was his responsibility to be obedient. It applies to me and to others who proclaim the truth. It is difficult for me when I seldom see results for my work.

Growing Apostasy

Like great wickedness grows over time, so does rejection of the authority of God's Word. When examining the history of deep-time beliefs and evolutionism, the church ceded science as well as respect for the Bible to materialistic views of science philosophies. Compromises grew, as did apostasy. We were told that there would be a great apostasy before the appearing of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3), and I believe we're very close to those events.

While there are still pockets of resistance, mainstream churches are bastions of liberalism and apostasy. The church is the Bride of Christ, but like the ancient Israelites, she chases after idols of money, prestige, fame, acceptance, and a wagon train-full of compromises. Indeed, much of the church has left its first love (Rev. 2:4-5).

Increasing Persecution

Persecution has existed from the beginning of Christianity, and we were warned (Mark 4:17, Acts 11:19, Rom. 8:35, 2 Tim. 3:12). There are organized persecutions of God's people by Mohammedans, Hindus, atheist regimes, and more around the world. In Western countries, it is increasing. Preaching the gospel or reading the Bible aloud can get you thrown in jail, for example. Do not think that the violence will decrease.

It's been said that persecution weeds out the true Christians. Those who want their best life now and will listen to false teachers are unwilling to listen to solid teachings from the Word. Instead, they listen to cherry-picked verses out of context that help them feel good. Sure, Skippy, the Bible is all about you, and making you feel good. You can be sure that false Christians will be the first in line to take the Mark of the Beast and renounce the true God as revealed in the Bible. True Christians are faithful even to death.

Noetic-worthy

A biblical principle is the noetic effects of sin. All have sinned (Rom. 3:23, 6:23), and sin touches every area of our lives. As I understand it, those in rebellion against God grow more ungodly and hateful (Rom. 1:17-32). I have seen people who seem reasonable, but when the subject turns to God and especially the refutation of evolutionism (which is a cornerstone of the religion of atheism), then they go nuts. Similarly, I've seen online nests of atheists who are so consumed with hate for God and God's people, they are living illustrations of the facts that not only is atheism incoherent, it affects the mind.

America: Bye Bye Babylon

While elections in the formerly United States have been tainted with cheating and fraud for decades, it has never been as pronounced as it was in November 2020. Despite documented proof of fraud, the election has been stolen. Federal courts allowed it. 

We prayed for God to have mercy because President Trump upholds religious liberty, opposes abortion, and is a friend to Israel. However, the USA has allowed and even encouraged the evils of abortion, transgenderism, returning to Marxism, homosexuality, euthanasia, and much more, we are going to get what this country deserves. The left hates Israel. Other countries that formerly respected God's Word are wallowing in their feculent sin.

How can it be that such people are not only holding power, but get continually re-elected? Because of those things I have mentioned before: sin, apostasy, rebellion against the authority of God's Word, approval of evil, and more. This has been escalating in recent years.

Further, I also believe it's greed. People vote for politicians because they believe the promises of getting free stuff, or at least that their lot in life will improve. Black people are, according to Democrats, too stupid to make anything of themselves, so continue to keep tax 'n' spend leftists in power and remain dependent. Greed, selfishness, and dependency are what made America great, right?

Some Democrats only want to win at all costs, and have their heads wedged where the sun doesn't shine. They only pay attention to the leftist media outlets, and many had voter's remorse when they learned of Lyin' Joe Biden's views (when he remembers them, or even his own name) and criminal allegations against him. Does anyone actually like him or Cram-a-lot Harris?

I have lost respect for Democrat voters. God forgive me for the contempt I have.

Republicans have accepted previous election results and have not been doing violence. It is the Democrats and other leftists have been violent. Although supporters of President Trump have wanted fair election results, leftists want us punished (see "Expect Mostly Peaceful Post-Election Activities from Leftist Democrats"). Listen to this vile sidewinder who is in a position of power:


That's criminal. Literally. But she's walking around free.

People are talking about secession, and it is very likely that there will be a civil war. There may yet be a miracle and God will delay judgment.

Republicans are not as pure as the driven snow. When they had authority and political power to make changes for the better, they squandered it. Country club Republicans should be slapped. Hard. If we are given a miracle and self-proclaimed Conservatives and Republicans foul up their opportunities, be assured that the trend toward a leftist one-party totalitarian system will continue.

My Confession

Over the years, I have struggled with depression. Y'all probably picked up on that when I was expressing my frustration with the apathy of professing Christians and creationists to my efforts and those of others at The Question Evolution Project (as well as shadowbans from Facebook leftists). In fact, I stated that I am ashamed to be an American and will never vote again. You have no idea how many strong profanities I had to resist putting in this article. 

Depression, personal failures, stolen election, living in a nation under divine judgment — I was in despair and actually prayed that God would end my life (and considered hastening the event myself). I can point out some atheists and evolutionists who would celebrate, and Christians might say, "Isn't that a shame, tsk tsk" and go back to sharing captioned pictures. I had to confess my lack of faith to God, the Creator of the universe who upholds all things (Heb. 1:3, Col 1:17, Gen. 1:1, John 1:1). I am ashamed of myself. My faith and trust are supposed to be in God, not in man. I did say that this had raw emotion...

Not a Bang but a Whimper?

It may very well be the end of America. Loss of freedoms, global government, all those things we saw in socialism and communism that people refused to learn will come upon us. This may be delayed. In fact, this article may be partially outdated. But I had to write it.

Let me leave you with links to some articles that helped improve my outlook, plus two music videos below. First, "Where Do We Go from Here?" by Ken Ham. In addition, I recommend, "Is This How It All Ends?" by Bill Muehlenberg. Finally, a bit of an unusual source: a reluctantly-written newsletter from J. Jackson of ApologetiX. You may have to embiggen your browser display, or use a browser function (or add-on) to make it easier to read. For that newsletter, click here. Now get portable electronic copies of your Bibles and hide them.



November 1, 2020

Expect Mostly Peaceful Post-Election Activities from Leftist Democrats

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

There was a scene in The Blues Brothers movie where the band was playing rock music at a country bar. The people started throwing bottles and such because they were angry. When the band played appropriate music, the same activities commenced. You could not tell the difference between rage and joy. Same with the political left.

Expect violence from the left before, during, and after the election. Also, they have plans to eradicate people who oppose them.
Mostly made at Pablo
Sure, people get a mite rambunctious when celebrating, but we've seen leftists acting up with any excuse. The mainstream media are controlled by sidewinders who actively suppress views that differ from leftist talking points. Indeed, back in 1977 Francis Shaeffer described what we see today [1]. If you search for material on how Joe Biden and other leftists are corrupt socialists, keep in mind that social(ist) media have saddled up to ride for the Biden brand [2] and mainstream news is demonstrably dishonest.

This country was established to be a constitutional republic using a democratic process. It was never meant to be mob rule, but that's what you get when you listen to fools.

Elections are supposed to be about concepts and belief systems (see "God, Creation, and Government" for more [3]), selecting the right person for the job. People used to have respect for one another, at least to some extent. When B. Hussein Obama became Caliph in Chief, there was no wide-scale rioting by Republicans and Conservatives. (Remember how just before he got elected that he was on the way to "fundamentally transforming the United States of America", a country he obviously did not love?) Now leftists will riot — I mean, engage in mostly peaceful protests — for any alleged reason.

Leftists have been increasingly active in suppressing Republicans and Conservatives through harassment, intimidation, outright violence, lying about history [4] — and even witches casting spells [5], [6]. Biden and Harris want to eliminate the tax cuts that the Trump administration enacted [7], and  Biden desires to take away religious freedoms, defying the US Constitution [8]. (He even referred to our Creator as a "thing" [9].) Many of us believe that leftists resort to these tactics as well as massive election fraud [10] because they cannot honestly win the hearts and minds of the majority of the American people. So they lie, cheat, and steal.

Since leftists under the excuse of the Marxist Black Lives Matter[11] and the anarchist Antifa (Biden says it's "an idea", which is false [12]) are burning and looting. BLM and other leftists are anti-police [13], which is no surprise because they spoil murder, arson, looting and so on in the name of "justice". Come on, man! Cries of "justice" are just malarkey. Did you ever notice that Biden and other leftist politicians do not condemn violent "protests"?

This election has definite spiritual components.

With this background, it should come as no surprise that leftists are expected to be even more violent after the election. I reckon some of it will be under the guise of celebration, but if Donald J. Trump and Republicans have the landslide victory that many of use are expecting, we could be having category five-type rioting. Businesses are boarding up like people who are under hurricane and cyclone warnings [14], [15], [16], [17]. What these mindless thugs will have to learn the hard way is that many of us will shoot back.

What if the leftists win? Mayhaps we will see, for once, Republicans rioting out of frustration at how leftists will finish destroying the country. I have to admit that my faith in God's providence and plan falters sometimes, but we all need to remember what we've been told in the Bible [18]. Not only do we have fear of expected violence by leftist snowflakes, but they are on record as desiring to reeducate or even eradicate Trump supporters [19]. 

We have to keep our constitutional republic and support the laws of the land. While many of us expect victory, there is no excuse for complacency. We have to vote — and pray. Pray a lot. God's will be done, and may he have mercy on us. And Republicans? Provided we do win, don't betray us like country-club Republicans have done in the past. Otherwise, the left will gain power until the reign of the Antichrist.

October 13, 2020

Solved Windows 10 DVD Burning Problem

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Since my reliable workhorse eMachine Windows 7 computer was showing signs that it was ready to take a dirt nap on Boot Hill, I decided to choose a replacement before I had to hurry the process along. This here Acer Aspire TC-885-UA92 has been working mighty well for a few months now, but there are some Windows 10 quirks that put burrs under my saddle. One is its reluctance to burn a DVD.

Probable solution to a problem with Windows 10 forbidding software from burning DVDs.
Credit: Unsplash / Phil Hearing
To get the hang of Win10, I did a passel of searching and reading. Videos by ThioJoe, Tech Gumbo, and others helped me considerable-like. One thing I found out is the timing of reference material. Win10 was made available to the public in 2015, and as usual, had a series of updates. When searching articles and forums for information and ways to solve problems, many became quickly outdated because new updates changed how the OS worked. I have spent hours on some problems (such as Windows refusing to go into sleep mode except when it wants to, so I gave up on finding a solution), but some were resolved quickly, even with older posts and articles.

I chose this computer because it has the optical disc drive, and I occasionally need to burn a CD or DVD. Yes, it's great to have my Roku device so my wife and I can watch YouTube and other videos on the TV, but there are times when I want to burn a DVD of a downloaded video and plug it into a player to watch in a more comfortable setting. My needs are simple, and DVDStyler (which has more features than I use) was reliable on the Win7 machine. Why didn't it work now?

"Does this get useful for anyone, Cowboy Bob?"

Yes, I think there's something very useful in a few paragraphs, but I'm also having fun telling this story.

It gave me an error, telling me that I didn't have a DVD in the drive. Yes, yes I did, and this computer recognized it. I was able to play a "store bought" DVD, and to use the built-in data burning software to save a file. I tried other burning programs, but none of them worked.

After spending hours searching forums and articles, I had no solutions. However, using my experiences with software and the logical mind that God gave me, some things came together. A few of the incidental remarks in forums and such were actually important for fixing the problem.

DVDStyler can burn ISO (International Organization for Standardization) images. Those are on CDs and DVDs and have other uses. DVDStyler was able to take my downloaded video and burn it into an ISO. That was a promising development.

The workaround was to use the software to make an ISO. That was successful, and when I clicked on it, the computer believed it was a DVD and offered the VLC (VideoLAN) player. That's great, making progress. Next step, I used the built in ISO burner. Yee ha boy howdy, I had a disc for the player.

Now we can move on to what I think is the actual problem and its solution.

Windows 10 users, you know that thing in the lower right corner on the taskbar? You click that for messages from Windows Security. My fussing with DVDStyler indicating there was no disc happened in the evening before bedtime, so I didn't look at the messages until the next day. I had a prairie schooner-full of notifications, many of them were of incidents that happened in the same minute. Well, I was on the prod when getting the errors, so I kept clicking "try again" and getting the alert tone until I shut it down. Each of those was listed.

While it may be "Fair Use", I don't want to risk getting in trouble with Microsoft, so no screenshots. Sorry.

Was Windows Security was getting over-protective again? Yes. There is a setting for "ransomware protection" to stop "unauthorized changes by unfriendly applications". Although I did install the software, the security wouldn't let it operate. I needed to find out.

Here's the fix: I disabled the "controlled folder access" protection, and DVDStyler was more than glad to burn my video to a DVD. I'm willing to switch that off when I need to do this, but I'm thinking the protection setting has caused other problems and errors with installations, applications, and so on, It's worth watching.

Hope the information here is useful to someone. Too bad there's no fix for the way this platform on Blogger was changed by it's masters at Google. They forced it on us, and I hope to be going elsewhere and leaving this for an archive.

ADDENDUM: Out of curiosity, I went to the Windows Security panel and saw which threats were blocked while leaving the folder protection active, and allowed one. Error. Okay, saw another program was blocked, so I allowed that. Another error. Allowed a third program, and the burning was successful. I'm glad blank DVDs are not expensive. The lesson from this part is that we can choose to allow access without disabling that part of our security.

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