Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chiune Sugihara May have Saved One in a Thousand Jews

   Who saved the most lifes in history? Who reached out with an act of heroism to rescue the most people from the clutches of death?
   It seems Chiune Sugihara, who you've never heard of, would be somewhere on the list. Since tomorrow marks his birth date, and since he is a most heroic figure, let us pay him tribute this day.
    We mentioned how you've never heard of him? Well, most of his neighbors where he died probably did not know of his legacy in history until a large delegation from around the world showed up at his funeral. Sugihara was said to be virtually unknown in his country, Japan. Nor did the world know much of Sugihara, at least not perhaps until 1985, the year before he died.
   In 1985, Israel bestowed on him its "Righteous Among the Nations" honor, which it has awarded to thousands who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. So, then it is, one of the largest genocides in history, was the backdrop for one very large rescue. It is said 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaust. And, it is said 6,000 lives were saved by Sugihara's heroism. That's one life saved for every thousand lost. The actual number of lives Sugihara saved is not known, with the figure of 6,000 being but one speculation.
   Sugihara served as vice consul for the Empire of Japan to Lithuania during World War II. Horrified at what would happen to the Jews in that country, he used his position to issue thousands of visas to an estimate 6,000 people. With some of these visas going to families, it has been suggested Sugihara might have saved as many as 10,000 lives. Some who received the visas, though, unfortunately, never used them in time to escape the Holocaust.
   Did Sugihara save enough lives to make some kind of top 10 list? I don't know. I know men and women of medicine are credited with saving millions of lives. And -- how's this? -- Sugihara doesn't even top the list of rescuers from the Holocaust. At least one person is credited with saving more. Traian Popovici, the mayor of Cernauti, Romania, is said to have saved 20,000 Jews of Bukovina. Polish diplomat Henryk Slawik is said to have saved 5,000 to 10,000 in Budapest, Hungary. Among others who saved a large number of Jews is Oskar Schindler, he of  the movie Schindler's List. How many did Schindler save -- 1,200 of his Jewish workers?
   Where many lives are endangered, as were in the Holocaust, there becomes a field where many can be saved. So, it was. Those who saved many during the Holocaust perhaps all would rank high on a list of those whose bravery and heroisam have saved the most lives in history.

Monday, December 30, 2013

To be a Great Nation, Study Politics

   So, supposing it is true that if a nation is to be great at science, it should devote more time to studying science than do other nations. Same with basketball, music, computers, or whatever. My thought has been, if you want to be great at whatever endeavor, train your people in the subject. If you practice and train more than your competitors, you probably will be better than your competitors
  (Your thought probably is, No kidding, Einstein. No big revelation there. So, be off with you.)
  Just the same, I will continue the line of thought, and take it to politics. I say, if a nation would be great in how it governs its people, how it treats its citizens, a little training is in order.
  Or, a lot.
   We being a nation that likes to think we, the people, have a hand in government, would we be a better governed nation, would we come up with better public policy, if we trained ourselves, if we studied the issues as a people?
  (I can hear that No-kidding-Einstein thought coming from you, again.)
  If we would be the best-governed people, we would do well to be the most reflective society. If a nation is to be great, it must take time to reflect on what is best for its people. That reflection -- taking time to consider and ponder what is best -- can also be considered a form of training. But, more. That nation must educate its people in the history of the social issues. It must educate them in social sciences. Should we have gun control? Well, what do the studies say of the impact of guns? Should we allow abortion? What are the effects? What are the benefits and what are the losses?
   Now, when people only learn one side of the issue, it limits them. Rather than being in position to be reflective, they are only in position to argue their own side. Better that they learned both sides of the issue.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Conversation Between Christmas and New Year's

   If Christmas and New Year's could talk, I think I know about how the conversation might go.
   "You know, New Year's, I think there's something I could learn from you."
   "Oh, and what is that, Christmas?"
   "Well, seems to me my day has drifted a bit, from what it really could be."
   "Yes. Oh, giving gifts can be fine enough. The thing is, the stress of getting something for everyone, the stress of not having the money to do it, and just that the money element isn't what my day is truly all about got me thinking how I really ought to take a lesson from you."
   "Go on. Exactly what could you learn from me?"
   "Well, if we were to mix the two days together . . ."
   "You mean, take the best of our two days and combine them?"
   "Yes. That's is precisely what I mean."
   "Well, Christmas, what would the day end up being, if they were one and the same? What would you take from New Year's that would make your day a little better?"
   "You've got that New Year's resolution thing, don't you?"
   "Well, it's just that I was watching this cute little video the other day."
    "Yes. And, the narrator started off saying something about how some people think my day has become too commercialized."
   "About then, the actors started fighting over the presents. Chaos right there on the stage."
   "Oh, my!"
   " 'But it doesn't have to be that way' " the narrator cried. 'But it doesn't have to be that way! the narrator pleaded a second time.' "
   "Oh, my! Did they stop fighting over the presents?"
   "They did. Then, they cleared the stage of the cash register. They reset things up. Had the actors come back with a new set of gifts."
   "This is where you come in, Father Time."
    "This is how I think I could learn from you."
   "Yes. You see, in the video, they each went and put a new gift on the table. As they did, they announced their gifts."
   " 'This year for Christmas, I'm going to say I'm sorry more,' said the first, placing a nicely wrapped box on the table."
   "Oh! That's a wonderful Christmas present!"
   "This year for Christmas, I'm going to play with my kids more,' " said the next. Then, one after another the actors offered such gifts. 'I'm going to help the old lady next door with her garden,' said one."
   "Yes. It was wonderful. And, soon the table was full with all these wonderful gifts."
   "But, I don't see what this has to do with me, Christmas. I thought you said you could learn something from me?"
   "Yes! Of course!"
   " 'Yes, of course' what?' "
   "New Year's Day, my friend. You are all about New Year's resolutions. That's the feel-good, do-gooder thing about New Year's. Just like one of my good sides is giving gifts."
   "Yes. I do like it when I can get people to make New Year's resolutions."
   "Yes. Things like resolving to say you're sorry more, and playing with the kids more. And helping the elderly lady next door."
   "Yes, but I'm afraid most of the resolutions on my day don't quite go like that."
   "Resolving to lose 10 pounds can be good. I'm not saying quit resolving to improve yourself. I'm just saying, if we took that part out of your holiday and moved it over to mine, we'd have people resolving to do good for others."
   "Maybe, Christmas, my friend. I could learn a little from you, too. Like you say, it doesn't mean we have to let go of  the resolutions on self-improvement, but we could also make resolutions to help others."
   "Yes. Our two holidays come one after another. It's all the same season. Being so close, we can share in some of what we do."
   "Merry Christmas, then, and happy New Year!"
   "It's a single phrase. We mix our two holidays together, already. What could be more wonderful than mixing them some more?"
   At this point, the conversation between Christmas and New Year's was about to end, when Christmas bowed his head, and quietly said, "New Year's, my old friend, I've one more thought."
   "I just don't want to go away from this conversation without mentioning Christ."
   "No, of course not!"
   "I mean, it's what my day is all about."
   "Well, I like to think we share something there, too."
    "Yes? Well, I suppose we do, if you are thinking what I'm thinking."
    "Yes, yes! After all, I number my years. There was 2012 and 2013 and so forth."
   "And, the idea is that the years commenced from when your Savior was born. It all got its start with the birth of the Savior."
   "The birth of the Savior, then. We really do have that in common."
   "Yes. We share a beginning point."
   "All the more reason to mix our seasons a little more, and to take the best of each fit them together."

Thinking Must Follow Education

   If a nation would be great, it must be taught how to think. It is not enough, alone, to be educated. Though education and training are key to greatness, thinking must follow that education, or the process will come up short of what it could.
   Isaac Newton acknowledged those who educated him, but it was clear his own thinking allowed him to take that knowledge he gleaned from others and build upon it, as is evidenced by his famous quote, "If I saw further than other men, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants."
   Accordingly, it can be argued that things that teach the art of thinking should be part of a student's education. It can be argued, for example, that the game of chess should be a standard class. In chess, the student must think ahead, considering possible moves his opponent might make. This game teaches the art of considering different scenarios of what might happen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How I Would Argue Against Shelby's Decision

   If I were the lawyer, I think I might argue the appeal against Judge Robert J. Shelby's decree on same-sex marriage this way:
   1. By pointing to and driving home the significance of a study by Mark Regnerus. Released in 2012, the study indicated children have been at a disadvantage if raised by parents who at some point have had same-sex encounters. Now, hasn't it always been said that our rights end where another person's nose begins? If we are harming another person, his or her right trumps our right.
    And, who would want to harm a child? It is simple: Regnerus's study does show harm. You can argue, it is not significant harm. You can argue, the study was flawed. You can argue, the disadvantage to the children is not inherent in being raised by parents who have had same-sex, but in the stigma the children face in being raised by them, and that that would change once society accepts same-sex parenting. But, whatever you argue, the study remains. It does show harm. It is recent. It is timely. It is under attack, but anytime someone opposes something, they look for flaws in it. I would review the methodology and explain to the court why it was good, solid, factual study.
   2. The Fourteenth Amendment cannot be considered in a vacuum.  We cannot take the provision that all people deserve the same privileges and immunities and apply it to same-sex marriages and not apply it to anything else. If it applies to same-sex marriages, then it applies to many of our entitlements. Why should one person get a government grant because he or she chooses a life path of college while another very diligent person seeks instead to start a business? If we are not in the business of picking one life style above another, because of the privileges and immunities promise in the Fourteenth Amendment, then that applies to picking work instead of college the same as it applies to picking same-sex marriage instead of heterosexual marriage.
   3. I would argue, there is a difference between saying gays and lesbians do not have the right to live together and saying we are not going to recognize it as a marriage.
   4. I would argue, gays and lesbians should be treated with love and dignity. I would argue, there should be no law that calls for the ridicule of another person. But, there is nothing in Utah's Amendment 3 that calls for mocking or degrading or ridiculing those in same-sex marriages. I would argue that it is this type of discrimination that is wrong, this type of treatment that abridges their rights. That they do not have such things as tax benefits places them in a category with many others, and no one has regarded it as discrimination until this point. Government should be allowed to encourage some life choices, but it should never legislate ridicule. We realize ridiculing is wrong, is a treatment that cannot be institutionalized by government, and we have not taken that path with our Amendment 3.

(Post updated and edited 1-2-14, and 3-28-14)


Thursday, December 26, 2013

It is the Industry of its People that makes a Nation Great

   If you would to be a great nation, remember, the most industrious nation wins.
   A week ago, I blog of how if you would be great in science, or medicine, or basketball, or whatever, you should train your people in those things. Common sense, that is. You can't be great at something if you do not prepare to do it well.
   It follows, then, that the lazy nation falls to last. If it is the nation that trains, that prepares, that wins, then it is the nation that busys itself training and preparing. Training and preparing take time. If the citizens are spending too much time watching television or movies, then that is time away from studying and learning, time away from training and preparing.
   Never a great football player was there who didn't practice. Never a great musician who didn't devote time to becoming great.
   The danger of alcohol and drugs to a society? This is one. The danger of TV and movies? They can inspire and lift and those watching can learn creativity through what they watch. But, if watching movies is but a way of passing time, they are not the way to success.
   Idleness is not industry.
   That nation whose people spend time training themselves is the nation that will have the advantage. If the people of that nation train in science, they have chance to be great in science. If they train in soccer, they have chance to be great in soccer. It follows then, that the more citizens who train in various endeavors, the greater will be that nation.
   It is the industry of its people that makes a nation great.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Peace of the Soldiers, the Miracle of the War

   'Twas 99 years and a day ago that what some refer to as a miracle occurred. Which, means, of course, next Christmas Eve will mark the 100th anniversary of an event very special in American history.
   Soldiers laid down their guns and refused to fight. Peace broke out where war was suppose to be. Here it was Christmas Eve, and these soldiers were expected to be killing each other? It didn't sit well with some of them, so the simply refused to do so, at least for the moment.
   More than that, they ventured from their trenches to meet each other, shake hands, and join in a game of football or soccer or such. They, well, fraternized with the enemy, a thing their commanders were sharp in condemning, of course.
   It is known as the Christmas Miracle, and, perhaps more commonly, the Christmas Truce of 1914. A number of popular songs were inspired by the event, and at least one movie. Perhaps next year, on the 100th anniversary, someone will be wise enough to bring that movie, "Joyeux Noel," to town for a playing. Perhaps, next year, along with all the other music, people will be playing some of the songs. I doubt it, but it would be nice. Notice Garth Brooks sang one of those songs.



Here's a cover of that song:





Hatred Rots at the Soul of the Person Who Bears it

   Those who wish others to rot in hell, run the risk of doing so themselves. Wishing ill upon another, I believe, is a sin. So, even though you might only wish hell upon those who are evil (perhaps upon child molesters), you only do harm to yourself by so wishing.
   'Tis said we should have charity for all men -- all, as in no exceptions. It is quite alright to understand child molesters might go to hell, but to wish them there is another step. Better that we wished for their repentence. I think of a scripture from the Book of Mormon (which, as most of you know, is a book of scripture from my faith). It speaks of how the sons of Mosiah, "could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble."
   Bless them, then, for their goodness. And, may we all try to be so good.
   Hatred rots the soul of the person who bears it. If I wish ill upon another, my wishing will likely have no impact on what happens to that person. But, it will canker my own soul.
   In hating others, we harm only ourselves.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Of Peace, and the Coming of Christ, and 100 Years this Way and That

 One hundred years ago today was this world's last Christmas of peace. Oh, of course that isn't true. But, we had to have left off from peace somewhere back there. And, I suppose 1913 is as good as any. It was, after all, the last peaceful Christmas before World War I robbed humanity of peace for five long years.
   You remember World War I, don't you? Some say it was the first total war, the first time entire populations were involved in the war, albeit some staying at home on "the home front." It was one of the deadliest wars in history, with, it is said, 10 million military casualties and 37 total military and civilian casualties.
   You remember World War I, don't you? It was the war that introduced chemical weapons. It was the war that introduced tanks, and I don't know what else.
   Or, to go the opposite direction, maybe Dec. 25, 1913, was the last Christmas before we became a more peaceful world. I listened in surprise as someone in a documentary said World War I was the last major war in which no regard was given to human life. I think of our pacts today against chemical weapons and nuclear weapons, and hope we have become more peaceful.
   Bless us. Bless us, one and all, as a world. I don't altogether know where we will be 100 years from now. But, I would think the Man for whom Christmas is held might return. If so, our chances of peace looking ahead 100 years are greater than looking back one hundred.
   But, though my perspective says Christ shall come before another 100 years can pass, I think of what those living 95 years ago must have thought. The war brought not only war casualties, but the war disrupted agriculture and trade, leading to millions of deaths in starvation. I think of the great Flu Epidemic of 1918, which claimed, some say, 20-40 million, and, some say, was the deadliest epidemic in all history.
   Surely, folks back then looked around and saw fulfillment of prophesies of the last days, of wars and famines and pestilence. Who is to know the day Christ will come? I read somewhere tonight of the mass amount of children orphaned during World War I and thought of the Savior's prophecy in Mark 13, saying, "But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!" I do not know that the orphan crisis was a fulfillment of that prophecy, for I do not know what the Savior was referring to. But, I wonder.
   And, I wonder but what the people living then looked around and saw in their days fulfillment of every prophecy Christ spoke of when He prophecied His second coming. I wonder but what some in 1918 looked back at the Christmas of 1913 and wondered if it was the last Christmas of peace the world was to know.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Does 'Privileges or Immunities' Apply to Same-Sex Marriages?

   We shall take one phrase from our Constitution, and consider whether it gives a man the right to marry another man, and a woman the right to marry her own. The courts are already ahead of us in this exercise, and now it is our turn.
   "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."
    Well, what do you think? If that little phrase were found in the Constitution, would it mean marriage is not just for heterosexuals? Because, obviously it is in the Constitution, being right there in the 14th Amendment.
   What does it mean that we are all entitled to the same privileges and immunities. Does it mean, I, a single person, should not be deprived of any tax breaks just because I am not married? Does it mean government should not give loans to students, since not all choose to go to college, and the person who might want to start a business deserves the same loan, deserves the same privilege? Does it mean the Affordable Care Act should not be extending financial assistance just to those who otherwise cannot find insurance that is less than 9 1/2 percent of their income?
   Though I toss these questions out to be thought on, I confess I have not fully come to a verdict in my own mind. I'm still considering whether "privileges or immunities" should mean, no, don't you dare deprive same-sex marriages, but, yes, go ahead and give grants to some and not to others, and give tax breaks to some and not to others.
   But, it occurs to me, if we do take this "privileges or immunities" thing far enough, we're going to end up with a flat tax.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mid-lifers, Senior Citizens are Good Candidates for Medical Schooling

 If we would lead the world in medicine, would it be an advantage to teach not just those going into medicine, but others, as well, about medicine? Every person is a consumer in the health care industry, so teaching us all could be beneficial.
  People sometimes become more interested in diseases and problems once those diseases and problems are their own. And, it is often not until middle age or later that many of the diseases and problems occur. So, if you follow the reasoning that the time to teach a person is at the point he or she becomes interested in the topic, when is the best time to teach medicine?
 Often, it is in mid-life, or in the senior years.
  Is it not said, necessity is the mother of invention? Solutions are often found by those desperate to find them. Wouldn't we be utilizing this principle if we had an avenue for teaching medicine to those in their mid-life and senior years?
  Perhaps it would have to be a more flexible program than sending them back to college full-time, and less expensive than our current medical degrees are, but teach the mid-lifers and seniors, all the same.
  With those who need medicine being motivated to learn all about it, and with desperation being a motivator of invention, why not funnel the energy by allowing those who become patients to also become those who seek out medical cures? They are not in position to come up with solutions if they are not educated.
   So, educate them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The People Should Not Have to Pick Up the Tab for Corporate America

   Those who have should share the burden of paying society's bill with those who don't have as much, wouldn't you agree?
   So, what is this? Two-thirds of the corporations in America do not pay taxes. It is an old article, from 2008 (and the statistics are even older). Still, I would doubt much has changed. Begins the article:

Photo: Not such a crazy idea. 

New York Times, August 2008

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/18/opinion/18mon2.html?_r=0

   Those who have should pay, or they are living on the backs of those who don't have near as much as they. They are getting a free ride at the expense of others who are not financially as able to carry the load. Corporate America benefits from government along with everyone else. One evidence of this is the corporate lobbyist. If there were no benefit from governance to be had, the corporate lobbyist wouldn't even be there. So, as long as government benefits corporate America, corporate America should share in the expense.
   Now, I do not know that I much fault these companies. The very nature of business says you cut your expenses when you can. If the law allows them to get away with paying no taxes, what they are doing is understandable. (With the exception that it is their lobbyists who have won them this privilege.) It is government, itself, that is to blame. Government should not be giving a free services to one set of constituents and forcing those less able to pick up the slack. 'Tis not fair and 'tis not right.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

If a Nation Would be Great, its People Must be Trained

   It might be said, if a nation would be great, it must be educated. Or, perhaps a little more precisely, if it would be great, it must be trained.
   Regardless the endeavor. If it would be great in war, that nation must train in war. If it would be great in science, it must train in the sciences. If it is to be great in basketball, or movie-making, or music, it must be trained in those things. If it would be a healthy nation, it must teach its people how to be healthy.
   If the nation wants to return to the day it was a great car maker, it should offer college classes in how engines work, how cars are designed, auto safety, and so forth. And, of course, it must also train worker in how to construct the car, which is a simpler education, but an education, the same.
   America being America, it seems it wants to be great in just about everything. Perhaps, then, we should look at how much we are educating in the individual principles. Do we offer deep enough classes on automotive technology? We do have college classes in computer technology, but could they teach more?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Degrees for the 70-Year-Olds would be Nice

   If education is such a good thing, why should it end? We teach until high school, and then, for some, on through college.
   And, then we say, enough.
   Why? If education is so essential for 16 years, why does it suddenly end? Is it because, with graduation, we have learned all there is to learn, or, at least, all that is necessary to learn? I would say, one person learns one thing during the window of education, and another learns another. Both could go on learning helpful things right up till the day they die.
   We already have adult education classes, and, no, I'm not calling for making that mandatory. College is not mandatory, yet many attent, smply because society lauds the benefits and encourages it. Maybe the education is reduced to a couple hours each week, but it continues, the same. It would be wonderful if we had not just classes, but degree-offering programs, encouraging us to keep on learning right up to the end of our lives. Keep on teaching us, even in our retirement homes. For it is said,  it is never to late to learn. Let us believe that adage, and let us live it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

To Learn about Computers, Send Us All Back to School

   We recall cars when they don't come out quite right, and we update computer programs (sometimes, it seems weekly), and we call our legislators back into special session when urgent issues comes up.
   So, we would do well to recall all of us (or at least everyone who wants to be recalled), send every graduate (and non-graduate) who wants to go back to school, back to school. We would do well to at least offer all of us this update to our educations.
   The world has changed since many of us graduated. A good share of our jobs involve computers. Our social lives now usually involve computers. We live in a world of computers, and yet we were never trained in the world of computers. You might say, we live in a world we were not trained for.
   So, why not train us for it?
   You might reply by suggesting I go take an evening class in computers at my community college, if I feel this way. You are right, there are plenty of them, and, perhaps, classes online, to boot. Whoever wants to take them, can take them. No one is stopping us.
   I, like most of us, am begging for time in my life, but that is not a great excuse.
   Still, it would be neat if we as a society created a program encouraging everyone to come back in, get refitted, and shot back into the world. No one would be forcing us to go, then, either.
   Yes, I am a hypocrite, for I will probably never learn computer programming, though I believe I and most of us would be better off if we did. I do not know but what the learning is a little more than I would be able to do. Perhaps it is more than what the average one of us would want to do.
   Right now, hardly a one amongst us can design and create a website. I dream of a society where most everyone could do so.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Teching it to the Top: Teach the Child Everything about Computers

   We should rev up computer education, taking it to the lowest grades students are able to start learning it at. Graduates from high school -- many or most of them (however many are able to learn it) -- should be taught how to program.
   There might have been a time when those who wanted to achieve much needed to know reading, writing and arithmetic. They still do, of course. But now they need more. Today, many of the routes to success lead through the computer. He who knows the computer has the path to the top.
   So, our education should reflect this. It should adapt to the age we live in.
   If America wants to be tops in education, this is one thing we can do. No nation, to my knowledge, has really cranked up computer education to the point it is introduced somewhere during the elementary school years, and is mastered in the high school setting.
   If you want your people to excel, you teach them the topics they need to know in order to excel. There is hardly person in today's society who would not be further ahead if he or she were able to create their own polished website.
   Today, hardly a one of us knows how. I say, make it so most everyone of us knows how, if that can be done.
   Utah, you want to lead the nation in education? Do you want your children to grow up to be the nation's leaders in a host of ways? Do this thing. Teach the children as much about computers as you are able to get them to learn.
   (Blog updated 12/17/13)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Snowman Points to the Existence of God

   If it takes hands to mold snow  into a snowman, how much more so does it take God's hands to form us into a much more complicated structure, a living human being?
   Truth be told, the atheist could argue back that snow doesn't evolve, at all. And to take that which doesn't evolve and compare it to that that does is not fair.
   Point taken.
   But, that argument must assume that life has always existed. If not, man came from an inanimate object, same as the snowman.
   And, that argument must assume (at least, it seems to me), that whatever amoeba or living organism that has always existed has also always had a thinking mechanism, for just as the inanimate object cannot become living, so it follows that a thinking creature cannot evolve from a non-thinking one.
    Nor does it account for how chance alone would result in a simple-celled amoeba developing into a complicated human structure. Other than that they are both living, perhaps the odds of that happening are the same as snowflakes falling in such a way that they create a snowman. For, if you say man evolved by chance, the chances are about as likely in either case.
   Only if you say the original amoeba had a map within it that would guide it to becoming a human does evolution have a chance. Or, if you a God's hands guided that evolution.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seriousness of Giving a Child Alcohol Should bring Grave Response

   If you were to solve the world's problems, you could not overlook this one: alcohol. About 40 percent of our murders and half of our rapes, it is said, are connected with alcohol. Families are harmed. Jobs are lost. The person on alcohol can lose too much of his ability to control himself.
   So, if you were to solve it, how would you solve this problem? One answer would be to start with children. Train the child up right, and some of the problem might be avoided. Instill in the child correct principles, and later in life, he or she will be more likely to hold to them.
   When I read that according to one report one in four children who drank in the past year did so in the home and with their parent's approval, it underscored to me the need to teach the children correctly. Much of our problem is that it is being handed down from generation to generation. A person who thinks it not wrong to drink is not likely to teach his or her children that it is wrong. To the contrary, they are likely to introduce the child to alcohol.
   Such a thing should not be. And, yes, we could do something about it. Teaching a child to drink is a grave offense, considering all the things drinking can contribute to. It is abuse of the child to introduce them to alcohol. If we already have a law classing it as child abuse, we are not using that law. Neighbors would do the child well to report any incidence of a parent (or any adult) giving a child a drink, or making it available to them. We should realize the gravity of the child being introduced to alcohol, fear how it will affect the child's life, and rush to save the child.
   Zero tolerance? The lives of children hang in the balance. We -- society -- should be very concerned for them. Social workers should be called in to interview the children when alcohol is suspected of being made available. And, parents found guilty of this form of child abuse should be accorded the punishments reserved for child abusers. Does that mean the child is removed from their care? I fear it should be considered, so serious is the offense. I wonder if on first offense, the parent might be spoken to, asked whether they see how serious of a thing they are doing. When the parent understands, and indicates remorse, perhaps the child might be left with the parent. Or, is it too hard to catch them, that we should let them off scot-free when they are caught even for the first time?

Bill of Rights is Like a Christmas Gift from the Founding Fathers

   Bill of Rights Day, marking the anniversary of those precious first 10 amendments to our Constitution, comes each Dec. 15. How appropriate that it should be right in the middle of the month of Christmas, the month of giving, for the Bill of Rights can be viewed as a gift from the Founding Fathers to the citizens.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Should We Make Giving a Child a Drink a Matter of Child Abuse?

   Blame the parent for this one. Blame the parent for the child turning to the bottle. Oh, it is not always the parent who brings the child up to drink. Not at all. But I fear too often it is the case.
   I opened my Deseret News to read, "More than a quarter of Utah children who drank alcohol in the past year say they go it at home with their parents' permission." (Deseret News story titled "Utah campaigns to curb underage drinking" by Dennis Romboy, Friday, December 13, 2013)
   That is a lot. You might worry about the influences bad friends can have, but what of this, the parent is the bad influence? One in four children turn to drinking at their parents behest?
   I turned two pages and found a story of an uncle who got his 10- and 12-year-old nephews so drunk they had to be taken to the hospital.
   It occurs to me, a person who drinks, if that person does not think drinking wrong, is surely going to introduce their children to drink. They may not let their children drink when young, but there comes a day they will introduce their offspring to alcohol. I'm not aware of the laws, but would not be surprised if it is illegal to give children and teenagers alcohol. Is it this, though: Is it considered child abuse? I tend to think it should be. And, with that would come the normal obligations for reporting child abuse when we hear of it. We, the neighbors, would be required to report it.
   I would think the liability of getting caught for introducing your children to alcohol would be a deterrent against doing so. Although I have not had time to give the idea much thought, off the top, it seems like a practical thing to do.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bring Medical Equipment to the Gym

   Say, let's move some of our medical equipment from the hospital to the gym. I'm a thinking, it will help reform health care. We are still trying to reform health care, aren't we?
   Go to the gym, and get your blood sugar measured. Go to the gym, and get a stress test done on your heart. Go to the gym, and find out what the reading is for the oxygen in your blood.
   They do call it cardio, a lot of that exercising. If you are trying to improve your cardiovascular system, why not monitor it? Whatever equipment can be handled without medical technicians, bring it to the gym. Costs for it will go down, and we will end up more closely monitoring our health.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Marionovich's Conviction Supersedes Roe vs. Wade

   With the Lennox Marionovich conviction, all debate on abortion should have been brought to an end. The prosecution presented such a straight forward argument, it was hard to argue against it.
   It was a short case, didn't last more than two hours. The prosecution first established that Dr. Marionovich had conducted the abortion. That took all of a couple of minutes, as the doctor readily admitted it. What with the laws saying abortion was quite all right, he thought he had no cause to fear.
   The prosecution then did some admitting of its own, admitting that U.S. Supreme Court did, indeed, make abortion legal, what with that Roe vs. Wade decision back in 1973. Then, as the saying goes, things got interesting.
   "Mister Marionovich, Judge Raikeman, and members of the jury: While abortion has been legalized, the taking of a person's life has not. Mister Marionovich, you have not been brought here on charges of abortion, but on a charge of manslaughter, and we have already established that you took the life, if, indeed, there was a life hanging in the balance. In fact, that remains the only question: whether a life was taken. Please remain on the stand, Mister Marionovich. We should like you to serve as our expert witness.
   "Mister Marionovich, are you a medical doctor?"
   "I am."
   "One who is certified by the state to practice medicine?"
   "Yes, I am."
   "And, is it true that early in your career, you were an EMT?"
   "Yes, that I was."
   "Now, Dr. Marionovich, have you ever been present at the moment a patient passed away?"
   "Many, many times."
   "And, Dr. Marionovich, how did you determine the patient was dead?
   The doctor paused a moment, then replied, "He had no heartbeat, and he had quit breathing."
   "Simple as that, then Dr. Marionovich? No heartbeat, and no breathing?"
   "Yes. Those two factors are all it takes to determine the death of a patient."
   "And, if he has a heartbeat and is breathing?
   "Then he is alive."
   "And, the baby?"
   "Excuse me?"
   "The baby, Dr. Marionovich, before it was born, at the time of the abortion."
   "Was it breathing? Did it have a heartbeat?
   "It was taking in all the oxygen it needed through the mother. Although that isn't the same process of breathing that we have outside the womb, its purpose is the same. And, yes, the baby had a heartbeat."
   "Well, then, Dr. Marionovich, I think we can rest our case. The rules for what is life have been around quite some time, haven't they? And, they've not changed, have they? If it takes in oxygen, and if it has a heartbeat, well, then, it is alive. The location of the person does not matter. By that, I mean, it doesn't matter if it is inside a womb, or outside.
   "So, then, Dr. Marionovich, a heartbeat, and a breathing-type process, that is all, then? And in all the many times you determined death, did you ever use any other standard?
   The doctor was hanging his head by now. He brought his hands up, cupping them over his face. He did not answer that last question. at first, so the prosecution repeated it.
   "No," came the whispered answer. "No, never. I see now how we must use the same standard. I am sorry I have not seen this clearly before. I'm very sorry for what I have done. I know not what the court would decide. But, if I may, your honor, I would like to change my plea. I would like to plea guilty as charged, guilty of manslaughter."
   The judge honored his request, bringing the first such conviction in the Twenty-first Century. Others quickly followed.
   (Note posted 12/13/13: This blog will probably be rewritten. For the moment, just a note to say it is fiction, per chance anyone might think otherwise. The point made, though, is not fiction. We have always determined life by whether the person breathed and had a heartbeat.)


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Medical Testing Should be Much Less Expensive, Much More Available

   What if I a heart patient wanted to take a stress test every day, or an EKG? A little too much, you say. Don't they require you to either have something going on -- something bad -- or to wait a given period of time for the check up?
   Yes, they do. Insurance requires it.
   What if you didn't even have heart problem, but just wanted to see how exercising affected your heart. Wouldn't it be great to just drive over to the doctor's office, plug in the machine, and monitor how exercise was affecting you?
   Maybe a guy wants to know how alcohol affect his heart. So, he monitors the stress test and EKG results for three months, then quits drinking, and maintains the same diet and exercise routine for another six months.
   My thought is, once the doctor has purchased the equipment, the expense of using it over and over shouldn't be prohibitive to using it often. Just like with a dishwasher, of course it is going to break down someday, but you don't tell the children they can use it only every other day.
   I say, as long as the patient is willing to pay for the technician's time, and do so without expecting insurance to kick in, he should be allowed to. That's probably already the case. It's just that it is not affordable.
   It should be. I can't see why it shouldn't.
   The technicians could monitor more than one person doing a stress test at a time, cutting the cost of staffing. The EKG? They can be quick enough, that the expense of personnel should not be too great. Call me crazy, but I wonder if we couldn't even allow the people to administer the EKG on themselves.
   Who knows, with patients doing millions of self studies, how much we would learn about what helps and hurts the heart.
   We speak of ways to improve our health system. This too is a way, not just for the studies that could be achieved, but also just to be serving the customer, the patient, better.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Unborn Satisfies all the Criteria for Being Alive

  Is being alive to be determined by location -- as in, inside the womb or out of it? Is it to be determined by how much clarity of thought we suppose the being possesses? Is it to be determined by whether one is dependent upon another for its life? (In other words, do we say if it cannot live outside the womb, it is not alive?)
   These things do not determine being alive, but rather, those question determine just what they ask for: whether the being is inside the womb or outside of it, whether we think the being has clarity of thought or doesn't, and whether the unborn is reliant for survival by being within the mother's womb. 
   If we are to determine whether the precious little package is alive, we must put it to the tests and standard we do with any other life. Does it have a heartbeat? Does it think any at all? Does it take in oxygen? 
    We know it has a heartbeat, and we know it has brainwaves. That leaves but one question, then. Does it take in oxygen? The answer is, Yes, it does, through the mother. 
   If the unborn satisfies the criteria for being alive, why would we say that it isn't?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What if We Gave Gifts Like This?

  So, what would happen if we gave gifts of love instead of (or along with) material gifts? A beautiful little video on the Mormon Channel got me to wondering this. What if we pledged to do acts of goodness, kindness, and wrote them down on slips of paper and wrapped them up, same as the other presents? When brother Sam opened the little box, the note would say, "This year for Christmas, Sam, I give you the gift of not arguing so much with you anymore. The note for sister Lisa would say, "This year for Christmas, Lisa, I give the gift of cleaning your room every third Saturday."
    Watch the video. You'll love it.
   Gifts of love and service can mean more than monetary gifts.

This Week Marked the 80th Anniversary of Utahns Vote Against Prohibition

   There was a time, you know, when Utah cast not only a vote, but the deciding vote, in allowing alcohol to flow freely through the streets of our nation.
   This week marked the 80th anniversary of that moment. It was Dec. 5, 1933 when Utah became the 36th and deciding state to vote for changing the Constitution to allow for alcohol, and, with that vote, on that day, the Prohibition ended.
   Repeal Day, it is called. It even has a name, although it is not widely marked.
   And, is it true the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed the 21st Amendment? It is. Of a certain, it is. President Heber J. Grant was vocal and unequivical in his stand. Later he would say, "With the help of the Lord to the very best of my ability, I warned this people not to vote for the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment." (Conference talk in the spring of 1937)
   "I have never felt so humiliated in my life over anything as that the state of Utah voted for the repeal of Prohibition," President Grant would say about a year after the vote. (Conference talk in the fall of 1934)
   His arguments remain arguments strong.
   Is it a matter of agency? The 89th Section of a book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants does say the Lord's Word of Wisdom was given "not by commandment or constraint. To that, President Grant replied, "I think one of the weakest excuses I ever heard in my life is that one -- 'not by commandment or constraint' -- when before the verse ends it tells you that it is the will of God."
   Today, the accepted wisdom is that the Prohibition just did not work. It was a failure. I do not know that that accepted wisdom is true. President Grant did not believe it so. In the 1937 Conference talk, he said,  "I warned them against lies that were being circulated to the effect that there was more drunkenness and more use of liquor than there had been when we did not have Prohibition."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Day for Mourning, a Day for Remembering

   A day for looking back at tragedies, it has been.
   Like the Dec. 7, 1941 attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy upon the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A surprise attack, it was the 9-11 of its time, with 2,402 killed compared to 2,978 in 9-11. The two events stand together as the greatest attacks on American soil in modern times, both coming by surprise, and both prompting entry into notable wars. The U.S. declared war on Japan the very next day.
   And, the nation's media has already started memorializing on the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. The shootings took place Dec. 14, 2012.
   And, a third tragedy remains fresh in our minds, the death of Nelson Mandela.
   A fourth tragedy should be added. In lives lost, it ranks as the worst of them all. On Dec. 8, 1941 -- one day after Pearl Harbor -- the Holocaust began, as the first of six extermination camps in Poland began operation in Chelmno. That camp, alone, would account for the deaths of between 152,000 and 340,000 Jews. By the end of the Holocaust, two-thirds of the estimate 9 million Jews in Europe had been killed. Other minorities and unwanted people were also killed in the Holocaust, though Jews were by far the prime targets.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Failure to Use Our Equipment is One of Failures of Our Health System

   So, I go to the doctor, get a vein study, it shows problems, and I go back into the world realizing what some of those sensations I've had in my legs are all about.
   I quit jogging. I wonder if the jarring, pounding footfall shocked the blood right out of my veins.
   Don't I deserve a revisit? I mean, once the pain has subsided, shouldn't I be able to go back, get a new study, and see if I'm okay?
    There's a lot of equipment in the doctor's office I think should be used more frequently. Seems, once the doctor owns the equipment, it shouldn't cost much for him to use it repeatedly. The failure to make the equipment more available is one of the failures of our health system.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela Quotes

   What better way to honor Nelson Mandela than to learn from him. The Deseret News online once published some of his quotes. Here are a few I like:
   “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
   “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
   “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.” 
   “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”
   “Where you stand depends on where you sit.”
   A leader is no better than the things he teaches. Perhaps, then, Mandella should be considered a good leader. He believed strongly in democracy, but did not care much for capitalism. I do not agree with him on capitalism, but still find a lot in what he said and taught to consider him a good leader. And, I note, he never nationalized anything while he was president. Can a man even be said to be a practicing socialist if he doesn't nationalize a thing when he gets the chance to do so?


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

With PISA Study in, Debate on Education Will be Renewed

   The study is in, so let the debate renew. The U.S. lags in education, again. Every three years, the Program for International Student Assessment study comes in, and, each time it does, the U.S. comes up short.
   The newest study was released yesterday.
   A quick search of stories showed one of the solutions being mentioned is to properly fund education. I guess that is an obvious plus, and an obvious solution, but I think the clearer answer is to instill the love of learning.
   My guess is, the key to good education is to turn them loose on their educational passions as early as they display them. If they are interested in astronomy, let them study it from every angle they want, going to the observatory, subscribing to all the astronomy magazines, etc.
  Find their heart's desires, and you've found the key to having them learn. Instead of dictating topics to them, we should let them select their own. Oh, I don't mean to say we should teach them all the basics. Having core studies can be good. But, the heart of each student's program should be determined by what is in their heart. If it is music -- even at age 6, so be it. Let the "master's degree" begin, at whatever the age, whatever age the child first displays a passion. Take that passion and kindle it, for passion is the key to education.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thirty-seven Percent Pull Out Their Credit Cards for Christmas

   Christmas as an economic issue, as in, should we measure our economy's health by how much we spend during the Christmas season?
    Let me ask that another way. Should we measure our economy's health by how debt we accumulate buying Christmas presents? It seems to me, running our populace into debt is not a healthy thing for said populace.
   Granted, only an estimate 37 percent use their credit cards (survey by CreditDonkey.com). Still, that's 37 percent engaging in an unhealthy practice, and that's a sizeable portion being hurt.
   If I can say borrowing hurts a person, and I do. There might be things to borrow for, and times to borrow, but I'm not sure I'd count Christmas as one of them.
   I read tonight that the average American spends $935 on Christmas each year (according to the American Consumer Credit Council). That, too, is worthy of consideration as to whether it is a benefit to our economy.
   I suppose, from the vantage point of all spending being a good thing, $935 is wonderful for the economy. I would have a hard time arguing against that, admittedly.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Santa Claus is Second Only to Uncle Sam

   Think I read somewhere the past couple days that the average Christmas shopper spent about $800 one year.
   Eight hundred dollars? Or, to punctuate that more correctly, eight hundred dollars !?!
   I guess I am surprised. I think it no surprise, though, that many have come to dread the holiday, what with them feeling obligated to spend so much. More money comes out of our pockets for this day than for any other day of the year other than Tax Day. Nobody besides Uncle Sam gets more money out of us as does Santa Claus.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Not Swearing That We Know Things can be a Virtue

   The all-knowing is God. The rest of us are not. God knows what things will be, but sometimes it is vain of us to suppose we know.
   A man may swear to a racquetball opponent, "As surely as the sun sets tonight, I am going to beat you in a game tomorrow." His anger at his foe brings him to boast he will have the conquest, but he does not know.
   Another may swear, "I will not speak to you again for as long as I live." But, he does not know what the future will bring, and whether he will change his mind. The day might come, he speaks to that person again.
   "I know when a person is losing it. I can tell when they're losing their marbles. And I swear that that man is. He's gone." says one, passing judgement upon another. But, the judgement might be wrong. How does one person know the mental condititon of another? Sometimes, lack of sleep, or other factors influence another person's performance. Those judging him can only guess. It is God who knows all, not man.
   I do not doubt that God can speak to man, and tell him what is. Revelation, we call it. When God speaks on a matter, it is not vain supposition. But, if God is not the one doing the speaking, then all too often, it is. If God is not the one giving us the knowledge, then we just do not know what things are certainly so.
   Would it be a virtue to not state as fact something we do not know? I believe so, though, in the spirit of this post, I must confess it is God who knows what things are virtues, and what are not. I will only say, that to me it is a virtue, one that I choose to try to live by.
   In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ spoke of a related type of swearing.
   "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the Lord thine oaths.
   "But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
   "Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
   "Neither shall thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
   "But let your communications be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matthew 5:33-37)
   Perhaps, Christ spoke of a related form of swearing, but I find some application. He noted that in old times, it was said, a person should only forswear their oaths unto the Lord. But, from that time on, they were not to swear their oaths, at all.
   Me? As to whether I swear I will do this or do that, or swear that I know this or know that, I would to not swear a thing at all. My swearing a thing cannot make it right or wrong, just as I cannot make a hair of my head white or black. If someone should ask me to do something, I would that I should simply say, "Okay, let me go do it" or "No, I don't choose to do that," rather than, "By all that is good, I swear I will," or, "I swear by the coming light of day that I will do this thing."
   I choose to find application of this scripture to how I state things, and to how I do not choose to suppose things. I hope that my application is acceptable, but I do not know. I say this not to just be practicing what I have just preached, but because, no, I do not know.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Arabs, Bedouins Hold 'Day of Rage' in Israel

   This Prawer-Begin Plan, that prompted the "Day of Rage" protesting in several cities today, what is it?
   What is it? Is it "the largest confiscation of Palestine-owned land since the 1950s," as one critic calls it?
    Or, is it a way to help the southern part of Israel develop, despite the fact the Bedouins there are squatting on government land? The protesting Bedouins respond that  they have been living on the site since before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
    Part of the plan calls for Jewish settlements in the area. I am not opposed to that, in spirit. If, though, the Bedouins have to be moved off land they occupied before Israel became a state in order to make room for the Jews, that might possibly be wrong.
   It is also fair to wonder if the Bedouins are claiming to have occupied the property before 1948, while in actuality they came to live on the land parcels after the Jewish state was created, and after the Jewish state claimed the land.
   Also to be considered, is that 93 percent of all land in Israel is owned by the state. Have Jews been treated the same as are these Bedouins in the Negev Desert area? Have any Jews been forced to move from one property to another? If this is normal treatment of all people in Israel, then perhaps it is acceptable treatment of the Bedouins, as well.



I Met a Criminal from South of the Border

   At the grocery store, as we were shopping for our Thanksgiving meal, I said hello to a man appearing to be from south of the border.
  He answered with a greeting of his own, then just paused in front of me, as if to invite further conversation.
   So, I asked if he was from Mexico, asked why he came here (he came for employment), and asked about his family.
   Oh, there are questions I should have asked, that didn't come to my mind right then, but I learned some from him. I didn't ask how often he goes back to Mexico, or why he never goes back to stay, that I might learn why he still chooses America over Mexico.
   But, I learned he had been a gang member. He told me he had done bad things. I pressed, What bad things? What did you do? He declined to be more specific, just saying they were bad.
   He had a kind, gentle look about him, and when he told me he had changed his life, I believed him. I wish  I had asked him if America had provided him that chance to change. I feel he would have said it had.
   As I sit here, thinking now, I think of how this should be the way with anyone who starts slipping into crime, or into friendships with those who negatively affect us. We should get away. Move all the way across the country, if we have to.
   Or, move to another country. I'm grateful that option was open to Alfredo. While he told me he came for a job in the automobile industry, it does seem he escaped a life of crime by coming here.
   In past blogs, I have agreed we should screen criminals out, as we make our rules for who shall be allowed to come to America. I still feel much that way. But, I am grateful for Alfredo's coming, for his being allowed to come. In his situation, coming to America seems like the right thing to have let happen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guns Kill More than Life, on Some Occasions

   A Thanksgiving story, from early Wednesday morning:
    A 72-year-old man, suffering from Alzheimers, wanders off into the night, walking maybe two or three miles from his home on a cold night, where he ends up at a stranger's house, and rings the doorbell. The homeowner comes out while the old man is still in the yard and confronts him. The homeowner tells the old man to to stop advancing toward him.
    The old man doesn't, so the homeowner fires four shots, one hitting the 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook in the chest and killing him.
   Georgia, where the story took place, is a Stand Your Ground state, having a law that says homeowners do not need to back down when they feel threatened, but can use deadly force. No charges are expected to be filed against Joe Hendrix, the homeowner.
   The tragedy underscores two thoughts. First, if you have a weapon, you might end up using it when you shouldn't. You've bought a gun to defend yourself, so it is natural to look for a situation that plays out that intention. "This is why I bought this gun," is the thought pattern in the moment of distress.
   Second, the Stand Your Ground laws further place in your mind that what you are doing is right. The law teaches that if someone advances on you, and you feel threatened, you have the legal right to defend yourself, and to shoot the other person dead.
   Of course, guns can be used for good. They can defend you. But, be wary. If you must own one, be careful you are not too taken by the teachings of our society to be free and quick to pull the trigger. Guns can affect who you are, who you become, by placing you in position to make dreadful decisions that will haunt you the rest of your life.
   At least, that's what happened to Joe Hendrix, when he pulled the trigger on a 72-year-old Alzheimer's patient. He will either suffer remorse for the rest of his life, or he will justify what he did. It has affected who he is in that he has brought death upon another. And, it will continue to negatively affect who he is, if for the rest of his life, he continues to justify what happened.
   Guns kill more than life; they also kill character. No, not always, but when accompanied by false values, they do.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pakistanians Living Under the Terror of American Drone Strikes?

   If what those speaking against drone strikes are saying is true, we should be outraged our country is perpetrating such an offense against humanity.
   We should be out in the streets, protesting, indignant, upset that the good name of America is being dragged to the ground by such a practice. We should be mourning the loss of life of civilians, and crying for those who are living under a terror we are bringing upon them.
  One report says for every one person the drones successfully target, they take another 49 non-targeted to the grave. Yes, I question the accuracy of such a figure. Is that number arrived at simply by counting the military leader who was targeted as the lone target, then counting all the rest of the soldiers killed as the 49 non-targeted deaths?
   Still, I wonder whether drones do take out innocent bystanders, not just soldiers.
   I wonder at the 416-948 civilian deaths from drones from 2004 to 2013, as reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Is that number accurate? And, is that too many civilian deaths for us to allow? Surely, some incidence of civilian loss of life is to be expected in a war. Are these lives, then, expendable? (Are these deaths very unfortunate, but justifiable, and therefore expendable?)
   I wonder at the terror inflicted on the people. What would it be like to live with a drone hovering above your community 24 hours a day, being afradi a missile might flash down at any moment, engulfing your home?
Terrorism? Yes, that seems like terrorism. We have created terrorism in the name of fighting terrorism. And, we have placed our name on it.
   If these accusations have some truth, then America -- the protector of freedom, and the defender truth and right -- is terrorizing and killing the innocents of Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and Yemen.
   If these accusations have some truth, then we are soiling our good name with the blood of the poor and innocent. This thing should not be. If these accusations bear much truth, then the drone strikes that began in 2004 should end before we reach their tenth anniversary.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Granting the Power to Enrich Will Further Their Bomb-Making Capacity

   If the U.S. and Iran cannot agree on what they agreed to, perhaps they should scurry back to the negotiating tables and make things clear. Off top, I think the Iranians might be correct. They say language in the agreement allowing them the "right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," does indeed give them the right to enrich uranium.

   My understanding is, nuclear power is not possible without enriched uranium. If you've given them power to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes, you've also given them the power to enrich uranium.   Enriching uranium is a necessary step for a nuclear bomb, of course, but that is a step you've agreed they can take.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let Iran's Economy Totter, but Save the People

   Amid all my thoughts of how easing sanctions against Iran might not be a good thing; amid thoughts of how Iran's economy is crippled by the sanctions and maybe this would be time to hope the regime falls to a broken economy, if it will; amid thoughts of how the deal with Iran might reduce neither its nuclear weapon  tendencies nor its nuclear abilities, comes this thought:
   If the economy is in such bad shape, people are suffering. This, too, should be a concern.
   With the dreadful effects of the nuclear warheads, with the suffering and colossal amount of death it brings, perhaps the suffering of the common folk in Iran is to be preferred. Their suffering is better than letting Iran to forward toward nuclear armament.
   Perhaps, but it just seems we should do something.
   Perhaps we could offer humanitarian aid, outright gifts of food, distributed by us, and carefully so in order that they do not fall into the hands of the despot government. This would not mend the economy, still leaving it to fall, if fortune would allow that.
    Iran might reject the aid, or attempt to reject it, but it would be hard-pressed to do so against the argument that they cannot let their poor suffer in the face of an offer to provide them relief.
   Note added Nov. 27:
   I wonder how we could verify if people are starving, or going shy on food, and how we could ensure it is they that we reach. If we just go in with food and offer it at the city square, a lot of unneedy people will come right along with the needy. I don't know if there would be a way to qualify who needs assistance. I believe the best we could do would be to make our best determination whether people are truly suffering, then give the assistance even though some of it would fall into the hands of those not in dire need. Screen them as they come to the tables where the food is distributed, asking them about their needs, even though there would not be a way to verify if the needs they represented were actual.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Netanyahu Calls Deal 'Historic Mistake'

   "Today, the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world." -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
   Six world powers agreed to ease international sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations being placed on that country's nuclear program -- but the question is, will the limitations amount to little or nothing while allowing the country to regain some relief as it totters economically?
   Israel says it will not be bound by the agreement. If the deal ends up strengthening Iran, and if it does not curb Iran's nuclear warhead capabilities, then does the deal then bring us closer to war, not further from it? For if Iran is closer to being a nuclear power, Iran is closer to a preemptive strike.
   And, what of President Obama? How will this play on his reputation? He is already reeling from developments with the Affordable Care Act. If public opinion agrees this move was a blunder, public approval ratings for him might yet decline the more.
   More importantly, what does the deal say of our relationship with Israel? Israel opposed the deal, yet we were the nation that brought it along, brought it to fruition. We did not rally to Israel's side on this matter, but went straight against it.




Saturday, November 23, 2013

Have the Six World Powers Done the Correct Thing on the Iran Issue?

   Then it is: Iran has brokered a deal with six world powers to lift sanctions against the country in exchange for its curbing its nuclear ambitions.
   Whether the deal is worthy may depend on whether lifting the sanctions comes before verifying that Iran has no ability to produce nuclear weapons. I haven't learned enough of what the just-announced deal includes to know.
   Iran has long claimed its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, while the world has known otherwise. The sanctions should not be lifted just because Iran shifts just enough to say, Okay, we've been developing the ability to produce nuclear weapons, yes, but now we'll stop if you'll lift your sanctions against us.



Killing Should Not be Justified Just Because the Killer Says it is

   A killing should not be justified just because the person doing the killing says it is. This would make murderers innocent men. So, please, look at what we have in many of the stand-your-ground laws: If a person says he felt his life was in jeopardy, and there is no evidence to the contrary, he is off the hook. Many a killing has no witness, other than the person doing the killing. Thus, we often place in the hands of the killer the right to say whether the killing was justified.
   Many a killer does not think to use this defense. And, true, there will be times when they try to use it and it will not be enough.
   But, I fear for the times when it does work. I lament we have given the criminal such a tool to get off for such a serious crime.

Swallow's Resignation 'No Cause for Jubilation'

   A sign of a good person is that they joy in the well-being of others. They do not glory in another's difficulties.
   So, I note with interest Gov. Gary Herbert's reaction to Attorney General John Swallow's resignation. "(T)here is no cause for jubilation," he said.
   There are things Swallow did that are not right, if I am looking at things correctly. They so serious, I do not think he should remain in office. To take a stay at a resort home from someone the attorney general's office is investigating? No, I do not think that right, whether it be against the law or not.
   But, may we lament the loss Swallow is suffering. He had high station, high regard in the Utah community. The humiliation he has suffered has been great. Bless him. Truly, bless him.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bring About the Sixth Amendment with an Evidenciary Hearing

   "The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
   To me, we fall way short of delivering on this right that is declared in the Sixth Amendment. I suppose at times I think we are so short that it is right that we have failed to even implement, for, to me, we do not even have a judicial system in place that brings it to pass.
   Implement the Sixth Amendment, then.
   At least, in the sense of whether we have a system in place that provides for "a speedy and public trial," let's change things to bring more certainty that a speedy and public trial will happen.
   Because it seems fair that you should ask me exactly what I would do, I'll offer one suggestion. This is one idea, but might not be the right one. I like it, though.
   Within days after the supposed crime is noticed, have a public evidenciary hearing. Bring all the accusers and all the evidence leading to their charges, and all the witnesses defending the person -- bring them all to the evidenciary hearing and lay out all the facts that have led to the charge.
   Here's what we have, says the prosecution. Here's why we should proceed.
   Here's the defendant's position. Here's the reasons to believe he didn't commit the crime, says the defense.
   A quick and public start would set the tone for a quick and public trial, hopefully.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lion Cubs Die; Blame Laid on Israel

   Of all the news about Israel and the world around Israel today, it is the story of two dead lion cubs in the Gaza Strip that catches my eye.
   Born within the past week, I believe, Fajir and Sijil were their names, and they lived in a zoo and amusement park in a town called Beit Lahia. The zoo keeper said he could not get the medicine and food needed to care for them due an embargo Israel has, limiting what items are allowed to come into the Gaza Strip.
   The thing is, Israel eased the embargo three years ago. I cannot remember what the embargo restricted before then, but I believe all food and medicine is now allowed into Israel.
   So, it does seem to be a case, perhaps, of those in Gaza wanting to lay blame on Israel, when Israel was not to blame.

Israel Leaders 'Cannot be even Called Human Beings'

   U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Power and Secretary of State John Kerry both condemned Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his words. The supreme leader said Israel leaders "cannot be even called human beings" and called Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a "rabid dog."
   I thought of what the supreme leader said, and considered that he perhaps sincerely believes that. I wondered that perhaps his hatred of Israel has blinded him till he views the country through a prism allowing in only the defamatory things he hears.
   Oh, and this made me think of America, where some see Obama only through such dim-prismed lenses.


'They Will Not Have Nuclear Weapons'

   Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the Iranian supreme leader by saying the comments reflect the real Iran, and saying that regardless what comes of the international community's negotiations with Iran, Israel will not be bound from defending itself against nuclear weapons.
   "They must not have nuclear weapons. And, I promise you they will not have nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said.
   Thus will remain a possibility Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran. Also of note, it would seem Netanyahu, then, does not believe Iran already has such weapons.

Harry Reid Wants Sanctions Against Iran

   U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated he will continue to push forward a bill calling for extending sanctions against petroleum from Iran, and limiting trade from sections of the Iranian economy that support its nuclear ambitions, and going after those who divert items to Iran.
   Of the top, and knowing no more than that, I am pleased with Sen. Reid's support of the bill.

Israel Soldiers Fire at Pair as They Approach Sinai Peninsula Border

   Israel soldiers fired at two people approaching the Sinai Peninsula border, injuring one. It was reported that an initial investigation suggested the two were attempting to smuggle drugs into Israel.
   I'm guessing this was not enough to bring much response from Egypt, but we shall see.

Terrorist Who Wanted to Attack Israeli Embassy Thwarted?

   Hassan Faraji, accused of planning an attack on the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan, denied the charges. He has been sentenced to one month pretrial detention.
   Israeli embassies, like American embassies, remain targets to terrorists.

Israel Called 'World's Most "Christian" Nation'

   Israel is hailed as the world's most "Christian" nation in the December issue of Israel Today Magazine. Noting that Jesus taught to "love your neighbor as yourself," the magazine points to Israel as an embodiment of such a teaching. The magazine notes Israel's Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, outside of international attention, is taking in and treating Syrian war casualties, without hesitation and without discrimination.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The George Zimmerman Story Could have been Completely Different

   Justice denied is no friend to mercy. Or, often that is so.
   Possible case in point: George Zimmerman, circa 2005. Zimmerman was arrested on a felony assault on a police officer charge that year. The charge was dropped. Perhaps if we assume courts always get it right, and justice makes no errors, then we leave Zimmerman alone on this matter.
   But, perhaps with all that has happened with Zimmerman, it would be good if someone went back and looked at the assault charge, told us the full of what happened, and what evidence there was that it happened.
   So we could determine whether justice meted would have deterred future crimes.
   There are those of us who feel Zimmerman's getting off on the Trayvon Martin case was a miscarriage of justice. If the 2005 assault charge was also a miscarriage, then one miscarriage of justice led to another.
   For, felons are not allowed guns.
   If Zimmerman had been convicted in 2005, perhaps he would not have had a gun. Perhaps he wouldn't have been a neighborhood watch person, following Martin down the road. Perhaps Martin would be alive today. We do not know for sure what path history would have followed, but there is much reason to believe it would have taken a different course.
   Justice extends a hand of mercy, at times. Exact mercy upon the perpetrator, and the perpetration of future crimes might be lessened. It is justice for the criminal, but mercy for would-be victims.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Call Medicine Medicine, Even When it Means Calling Marijuana Medicine

  Brian Scott carried the Hurricane Tigers to their first state football title, and won three state wrestling titles. Today, he is turning to a marijuana extract in hopes of saving his life.
  His story was told in the Salt Lake Tribune more than a week ago, and it underscores the need to utilize medicines where medicines might be useful. Don't turn them away because they come with the title "marijuana."
   One of the arguments against medical marijuana is that if we go that route, youth will be more inclined to say, "Hey, this is a treatment for cancer, for Parkinson's disease, and for seizures. It is good for me." And, with that, there is an uptick recreational marijuana use.
   I do not buy that as a legitimate reason for not allowing a medicine to be used as a medicine. If someone is dying, and a marijuana extract will save them, do we say, "No, you can't use that. The kid next door might learn that you used it, and learn that it has beneficial properties, and he'll go out and get some for himself."
   I say, allow medicine to be used as medicine, even if it means allowing marijuana to be used as medicine.


Monday, November 18, 2013

'Tis the 150th Anniversary of these Most-Cherished Words

   These words are to be cherished, uttered by our 16th president 150 years ago tomorrow, Nov. 19th. Some would say his 2-minute address is the greatest American speech of all. If so, consider that it is much just the statements at the first, and at the end, on which the speech hangs much of its greatness.
   The whole speech is great, but more than the rest of it, just those two statements are so indelibly embedded into our minds, stirring love and favor in our hearts for this little address.
   Just 30 words to start, and 17 to close.
   "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . .
   ". . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
   In a different day -- our day -- perhaps Abraham Lincoln's final words would have been counted as plagiarism. I think they are not, but I note that historians see a foreshadowing of his words in the words of others. Some suggest the earlier versions of what he said may have served as source material for Lincoln. Perhaps the thought of government of and for the people spun down from one speaker to another, finally evolving into the words offered by Lincoln.
  There was abolitionist Theodore Parker of Massachusetts, who said, "Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all the people."
   And Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster had said the federal government was "made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people."
   And, before Parker and Webster, U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall said, "The government of the Union, then . . . is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people. In form and in substance, it emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit."
   Of all versions of what was said, Lincoln said it best.
   Those three quotes similiar to Lincoln's are provided in an article in Wikipedia.
   (Post altered a little on Nov. 19.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

One Year Since Israel-Gaza Missile Crisis

   Throughout 2012, about 1,600 missiles rained down on Israel, causing maybe as much as one in five Israelis to live within range and in fear of the missiles.
   We are now at the one-year anniversary of the missile crisis, when for the first time in maybe 40 years, terrorists targeted Jerusalem with the missiles. Israel, after showing restraint for so many months, responded with attacks of its own. On Nov. 14, an air strike took out a top Hamas military commander, and on Nov. 18, another Israeli air strike shook Gaza.
   I thought tonight to try to research a related topic, alleged human rights violations by Israel, but did not get around to it in time and the night is now here. I wish there were a website taking the accusations one by one, and replying to them, but if such a website exists, a quick search is not turning it up. I do know, many of the charges are trumped up. Israel is baited, often. But, that does not mean all the charges are false. I wish could determine, which, if any, are correct.

Neat to See Mike Lee Rallying Us to Help the Poor

   It is neat to see a politician call on not the government, but the people to help the poor, as Sen. Mike Lee is doing. He is asking us, as a society, to find a way to take care of those in poverty. "They are not some government's brothers and sisters -- they are ours," he said.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Maybe Non-Organic is Okay, but I'll Continue Organic for the Moment

   The political issue of my night has been, Shall I eat organic or non-organic? And, I suppose my little study has led me to say, Continue organic, for the moment.
   One site said there is not one shred of evidence that pesticide residue on crops makes the food harmful. Not a bit. The author of that page (Ray Scraggs) pointed to the father of pharmacology/toxicology, Paracelsus, who discovered it is the dose that determines the poison, not necessarily the poison itself.
   So, what little pesticide is left on my apple is not going to hurt me.
   So, a little Malathion might not go a long ways, and maybe not even a little DDT? I don't know.
   You pretty much have to identify the harmful effect, before you go looking to see if it is occurring. It is kind of like drug testing. I'm told that when you test for drugs, you have to know which to look for, or you won't find them. So, it is with residue on crops. If you are aren't considering the harmful effect that might be occurring, you won't find it.
   My guess is, admittedly, that we are being careful with how much pesticide use we allow as residue on our crops, and the food is safe. I just don't feel totally confident as of this brief study.
   And, there is another thought to consider: Even if the amount of pesticides on the food are not harmful, is organic food more nutritious? I read that it is. So, why should I not continue organic for that reason, alone?
   Other thoughts of the night include, what of the pesticide residue left in the soil? A farmer might decide to go organic, and start raising crops organically, but, he if he is using the same soil that has absorbed pesticides in past years, won't they still affect the crops?
   And, then there is the thought I had from way back in my youth: What of the farmers who use manure for fertilizer? If agrochemicals are harmful, what of manure? I picture a neighboring farmer where I grew up, and in my mind's eye, I see his manure spreader throwing cow manure on the field. No, if that is organic food, I'm not so confident about eating it. Can I get a food label to say, "Organically grown, no GMOs, and raised without manure fertilizer"?







Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Retirement: The More People Who Work, the Better the Economy

   Today, I would ask people to not be so quick to retire, to hold off, if  healthy and able to work. The greater the percentage of people in the workforce, the better the economy will be. So, it makes sense: The more of us who do not retire unnecessarily, the better.
   If we had a coach, pointing out all the things that strengthen an economy, surely he or she would be encouraging us to work past age 62, indeed, to work as long as health permitted. If you want a strong economy, you do all the things that help, and this is one of them.
   I'm not sure how my health will hold out. I'm but three years from being 62 and being able to receive Social Security. I would hope I will be able to remain in the workforce beyond that, but don't know. Let's not fault each other individually if we do retire, but, as a collective whole, let's encourage each other to press on.
   In the name of the economy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Of all Our Freedoms, Don't Forget this One

   In listing all the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, I think you would miss one of the most basic ones, one of the most important ones, and I fear some might even deplore it when they heard what it was.
   For this freedom kind of boils down to criminal rights, or more correctly, the rights of those accused of being criminals. And, to me, it seems that when someone is railroaded, it is often the poor who getting railroaded.
    I think of two examples tonight. One is Ernesto, a refugee from Cuba. He got off work one day, and rounded up a ride home, only to find the guy who was going to drive him home was intoxicated. Ernesto didn't like that idea much, so he offered to do the driving.. Part way home, the police stopped them, looked in the glove compartment, and found some alcohol. Now, since Ernesto was driving, he got the rap.
   Ernesto doesn't even drink. He's a teetotaler.
   As he told me his story, and seeing him as a humble, poor person, I almost cried. How wrong is a justice system that would hold him responsible for the alcohol in the glove compartment.
   The second story is of George Stinney. You ever heard of him? A black boy, he was convicted of murder about 65 years ago on basis of his own shaky confession. Now, his family wants a new trial. No, I don't know that he wasn't guilty. But I wonder. I wonder if he wasn't railroaded into the confession. His two sisters say he was with them the whole of the day when the murder was committed.
   If we, as country and as a people, cannot protect such people, we are not so free. All men and women deserve freedom from injustice.