Wednesday, December 31, 2014

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 me 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 part 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 2014 and it'll keep going on."
   "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."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

America is a Nation of Immigrants and Home of Ephraim and Manasseh

   It occurs to me that it is of great note that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants. We have heard the phrase much of late in immigration discussions. Juxtaposition that thought, if you will, with the teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that America is a gathering place for some of the Tribes of Israel. I understand there are more Jews who have moved to the United States than to any country other than Israel. But that would be a small part of it, for the Jews' gathering place is, indeed, Israel.
   America is a gathering place, though, for the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. When Jacob blessed his sons, he said Joseph  (the father of Ephraim and Manasseh) would be a fruitful bough, and even so, there currently are more from these two tribes than from the other tribes. Jacob said Joseph was even a bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall. Even so, reaching America meant meant the branches had to cross waters. In blessing Joseph, Jacob referenced "the everlasting hills," and, even so, a series of mountains stretch from Canada all the way down through South America.
   So, it does seem of interest that America is an immigrant nation, which is another way of saying, it is a gathering place.
   I wonder if it is also of note that some are adopted to the Tribes of Israel. As it says in Isaiah 54, which is, significantly, one of the portions of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon:
   "Sing, O barren, thou that didnst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord."
   I wonder if there are more adopted to the Tribes of Israel living in America than there are "children of the married wife." And, I think of how those who are adopted  might go for their inheritance to a land other than that where the Twelve Tribes originated.
   (One sentence added 1/1/15)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Would Hope this is the Reason for Abortion Rates Declining

   And the debate proceeds over what is causing abortion rates to decline. Among all the possible reasons, the one I would like to believe is that more and more people just don't like taking life away from the unborn.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Truce of the Soldiers' Making, Not from Their Commanders

   When people do uncommonly good things, it should be newsworthy, and when they do something that can be hailed as a miracle -- for so rare a thing it is -- then it should be celebrated.
   But, the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Miracle of 1914 went largely unnoticed, alas and alas.
   It was 100 years ago this year that German soldiers raised little Christmas trees with lit candles. They raised them from their trenches as a show of peace. And, they sang a Christmas song. American soldiers responded. Soon, all along about a 27-mile span, different sets of combatants were breaking out of the trenches to smoke with each other, play football, fraternize . . .
   They were pausing to observe the birth of a Savior.
   It started on Christmas Eve, and continued on Christmas Day, a truce not drafted by military leaders, nor by the leaders of the nations, but by the soldiers who refused to fight that Christmas Day, soldiers who laid down their weapons of war to honor the birth of the Prince of Peace.
    Was it a miracle? I don't know whether it warrants that, but perhaps. You certainly might look in vain for how many times soldiers, in the name of peace, have laid down arms without the approval of higher officers.
   It is a story that begs a telling, and a place in our history books. It remains one of the more unusual occurrences in all the history of America, and of Germany. War has seldom been marked by such an outbreak of peace.
   (Edited 12/29/2014)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Is Israel being Held to a Different Standard?

   So, do we justify Israel's settlement of the West Bank by the fact the settlements are on conquered territory? Israel took that land in the Six-Day War in 1967. Now, it is common among all nations to keep land they take in conquest. Part of America is land taken from Mexico. (Yes, we paid Mexico for the land, but we forced them, by virtue of conquest, to take our offer.) There are from World War II lands that were conquered that were not returned to their previous governing bodies. When the U.S. went into Iraq, it was to remove the government of the time and, rather than rather than telling Saddam Hussein that once we conquered him, we would give him his land back, we sought his removal from power.
   Is the world expecting different of Israel? The international community would have Israel return the lands. Is that a different standard than what we have for other countries?
   Perhaps, if I am to understand that what Israel is doing is wrong, I need to be reminded of the times the United Nations or the international community has not allowed conquerors to keep conquered territory. Perhaps I should study on that first, then get back to you.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Day Brought Word of More Israeli Settlements

   On Christmas Day, Israel announced preliminary approval of 243 new homes in the West Bank, with another 270 to come later.
   The settlements are on land Israel captured in the Six-Day War of 1967. Question is, is Israel entitled to keep the land, or should it give it back to the Palestinians?
   If you expect me to weigh in with an opinion, perhaps I will disappoint. Or, perhaps I will give it some thought and weigh in tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hold Fast to that which is Good -- Including things We Might Reject

   Notice the Muppets came in for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert? What does that have to do with Christ? you may ask.
   I also noticed one of the Tabernacle Choir's CDs, that it was largely of songs with no mention of the Savior's birth. And, I picked up my Christmas Day Church News to see an article with "Happy Holidays" in the headline.
   As the 13th Article of Faith says, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."
   And, I Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good."
   Family and giving and Muppets and "happy holidays" are good things, so hold fast to them.
   This does not mean we do not strive to make Christ the center of our Christmas. it just means we don't have to give up other things which are good to get there.

May Ye Enjoy These Days, as We Celebrate the Birth of Christ

   "Happy holidays." "Merry Christmas." "God bless us, every one." "May the spirit of Christ be with you this Christmas season." "May ye enjoy these days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ."
   I've given thought, this year, to what Christmas greeting I should offer. Mostly, I stuck with "Merry Christmas," but, not without some guilt feelings. "Merry Christmas" is rather generic, really, and implies simply gift giving, getting together with family, and other such things.
   Which are wonderful.
   But, they don't necessarily reflect what I'd like to be the focus of Christmas, which is Christ. So, what of, "May ye enjoy these days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ,"?
   Well, it occurs to me that if such a greeting as that became common, we would utter it out without giving our words much thought. It would become an expression of casual exchange, not an expressment of earnest feeling.
   It would, perhaps, become a too-casual reference to our Savior. So, come next year, I may utter something such as, "May ye enjoy these days, as we celebrate the birth of Christ," some, but, I'll probably stick mostly with, "merry Christmas."
   Or, truth be told, come next Christmas, I'll probably think it over all again, and who knows what I'll decide.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

100 Years Ago Today: The Christmas Miracle of 1914

   'Twas 100 years ago today, a Christmas miracle, the Christmas Truce of 1914.
   Amid World War I, on this day, 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, so they simply refused, 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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lament These Deaths, Whether Police or Those Killed by Police

   Bless the two Brooklyn officers who were killed. How does it come that some would accept these murders, that they would look at the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and conclude the Brooklyn officers deserved to die? Or, that people would suggests police brought it on themselves by killing Brown and Garner.
   Bless Brown, bless Garner. Bless Tamir Rice. Bless Officer Rafael Ramos. Bless Officer Wenjian Liu. Bless all those who have been killed. I would hope we would lament all their deaths.

Monday, December 22, 2014

If it is Important, You Coach This, Too

   It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you react after you play the game.
   Perhaps a Memphis player threw the first punch, but it is disappointing if BYU fought back. Regardless who got a blackeye in the fight, both teams both got a blackeye from the fighting.
   What you coach is what you get, sometimes. Coach Bronco Mendenhall did a wonderful job of coaching the Cougars back after losing four in midseason. That they bounced back is a tribute to his coaching.
   But, the brawl after the game?
   Actually, I would not be surprised if Coach Mendenhall did coach his players not to react wrongly after games, for conduct is important to him. Sometimes, what you coach doesn't take with the players. But, often it does. If you don't want brawling and misconduct, you have to coach it, right along with all the football things.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas and May Celebrating Christ's Birth Go Well With You

   Merry Christmas, and may these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you.
   Perhaps that is a greeting I can use these next few days. I have often thought of how we sometimes get offended by the greeting, "Happy Holidays," not because we don't like it in and of itself, but because it can be a replacement for, "Merry Christmas," and we view dropping "Merry Christmas" as a way of taking Christ out of the season.
   Seems to me, "Merry Christmas" doesn't necessarily include reference to Christ. The word "Christmas" derives from "Christ," but the manner in which "Christmas" is used means presents and toys and trees and shopping and family and visiting -- not necessarily Christ. Christmas can be celebrated without Christ being included.
   So, I might, in a few of my greetings the next few days, try, "Merry Christmas and may these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you." I've tried, "Happy days of Christ's birth," and have found that too awkward. And, if I just say, "May these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you," that doesn't come across as extending the Christmas greeting expected of me. So, I shall do both, "Merry Christmas" and, May these days we celebrate Christ's birth go well with you."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Time for a Friendship with Cuba

   Cuba has begun to let its citizens take private sector jobs and allow them to own property. It has started to let dissents travel abroad. It has released some of its political prisoners. Yes, it still harasses and detains dissents, but things have improved. It seems the changes, yes, have come due to economic pressures, and that the embargo, all these years later, is having an affect.
   If you get what you want from the embargo, then it is time to lift it. No, all is not well in Cuba, and it can be argued the embargo should remain until all that is sought is found. I, though, think it is time to quit swinging our fists at each other and come out loving.

Friday, December 19, 2014

We Should Consider Accepting Cuba, Though it is Not a Perfect Nation

   I find myself reflecting on a scripture (an LDS scripture, for I am LDS) as I think about Cuba.
   ". . . but we do not believe it right to interfere with bondservants . . . nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men . . ." (Doctrine and Covenants 134:12)
   I do not believe it wrong to ask Cuba to change its ways, and I do not believe we are fomenting violence and civil war in Cuba. But, I do wonder if we should accept the nation as it is, if it does not choose to change. First, find out what offenses the nation is guilty of, but be ready to allow it its own political system if things do not prove too offensive.
   "We believe all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected." (Doctrine and Covenants 134:5)
   Perhaps it is that Cuba does not respect inalienable rights. Perhaps it is, then, that we should not be willing to allow it its own political system. To know how we should be treating Cuba, we should be relooking at what violations of inalienable rights the nation is yet committing as of 2014-2015.
   If while the nation is guilty of making its people "bondservants," but yet it allows them choice and free practice of religion -- if it is allowing its people freedom in other forms of opinion and expression -- then perhaps we should accept the political structure there.
   Regardless what we find, though, I hold to the thought I offered yesterday, that we should befriend this nation, that one of our approaches should be to try to influence through love and friendship. If we should eventually go so far as seeking an overthrow of the government -- because we still find too many offenses against inalienable rights -- let us first seek change through loving Raul Castro and the other Cuban leaders.
   (Edited 12/21/14)

Reassess the Nation's Offenses, Then Ask Raul Castro for Changes

   What are the crimes of Cuba? Dictatorship? Human rights violations? And, what are those human rights violations? Repression of political dissent? Unfair trails?
   Now -- not 1961, not 2006 -- would be a timely time to reevaluate the crimes of our Caribbean neighbor. What is happening there now, in 2014-2015? Whether we are set on a course of action -- ending the embargo or not -- we should consider where the country is now in the crimes we accuse it of? 
   Then, when we have reassessed the offenses, we should approach Cuba anew, if we find it is yet committing terrible offenses, and try to coax Raul Castro to change. Approach Cuba in the spirit of friendship, warmly, but ask it to make some changes.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Thaw and Friendship and Love and, who Knows, . . . Democracy?

   I posted the other day on how love might be a way to win over the prisoner, to get him to talk. Now, as the Cuba thaw story breaks, I find myself thinking along the same lines.
   Could love do more to change Cuba than 50 years of embargo?
   What if we showered friendship on Cuba, called them our friend, rushed to help their people, a number of whom are direly in need? What if? Is there a possibility the country might warm up to us, and even choose to become a democracy?
   I don't know, but I wonder.

Crime and Drugs and Opportunity and Freedom . . . and Cuba

   Crime and drugs are rare in Cuba. Now, some fear the influence of the U.S. will bring them both to this Caribbean island. One wonders, though, for all the hatred we have of Cuba's political system, is there something to be said for the low crime and drug rate?
   Is it just that people are not given a chance to commit crimes, nor to take drugs?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stay Tuned to the Future of this Very Potent Toxin: Nicotine

   Say we had something as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol, would we ban it? Heroin and cocaine are both illegal, and alcohol once was.
   Of course, it would have to be not only addictive, but also dangerous. So, let's say it was one of the most potent naturally occurring toxins in the world. Let's say it was so toxic, a tablespoon would kill you. Would we ban it?
   The substance we are talking about is nicotine, which back before our current array of pesticides arrived, was a common pesticide.
   Nicotine, I say, as in e-cigarettes.
   Of course, at this point we don't outlaw nicotine, we don't ban e-cigarettes, for the amount taken into the body through vaping has not been shown to be nearly so dangerous. For all I know, the amount taken in e-cigarettes has not been shown to be harmful at all. I need to learn more.
   But, it does make me wonder where the future of e-cigarettes will go. Will there be studies done on the life expectancy? Is there a level of nicotine that reduces life expectancy? At this point, we don't know. Perhaps it the level of nicotine in e-cigarettes has no impact on life expectancy -- and perhaps it does.
   Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Love as an Interrogation Method -- Why Not?

   All that needs to be said is that thousands of lives might be saved if we torture the information out of the prisoner. Since no one can prove otherwise, that becomes license to torture. I'm not totally comfortable with this justification.
   And, I do think there is an alternative. If we have an alternative, and it also works, and it doesn't go against our principles, why not use it, instead? Love. Christ said, "Love your enemies." Truth, is love is a powerful force, maybe as powerful as any. Why do we suppose love cannot also be an effective interrogation method? When we treat them well, some may conclude we aren't so villainous after all, and willingly spill what they know.
   Love as an interrogation method, then. Why not?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Police Marched Against Their Fellow Police

   I was at the police march today. There must have been 50 cops protesting against -- of all things -- police violence. They weren't in uniform, of course, for they couldn't march while representing their departments. But, bless them for marching, even though limited to their civilian clothes.
   "Not all cops are bad cops. But, we know some are," read one sign.
   "Wrong is wrong -- even if a policeman does it," read another.
   "We support justice, wherever it is, and we oppose injustice, wherever it is, too," read a third.
   Tal Jenson, spokesman for the group, read a statement saying the marchers were not ready -- at least yet -- to weigh in on the Ferguson shooting or the Staten Island choking, or any other individual case, but that they felt impelled to acknowledge that police violence and indiscretion exists, and that it is a shame to many of the officers. "Bless our fellow officers," he said, "who did not choose to march with us today, who feel no crimes and no harms have been committed. But we do. We feel innocent people have been killed. We feel innocent people have been unjustly arrested. So, we are embarrassed. We see it as a blight upon our profession and our good names. We want justice as much as anybody. We don't care if it is a policeman who commits the crime, we want justice done and justice served."
   Well, maybe such a protest didn't actually take place. But, it sure would be neat if it did.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Remorse is Our Friend

   Remorse is the key to heaven. If we are remorseful, we open the door to change. If we regret gossiping, or lying, or cheating, we take a most important step toward leaving those things behind. But, if instead, we commit a small sin and dismiss it as just that -- a small sin -- and think nothing of it, and thus do nothing about it, it will fester into a bigger sin. It will lead to other sins.
  Remorse is our friend. It is remorse that keeps our sin in front of our face. It is remorse that tells us this is too important to let remain. If we see sin as a small thing, it will remain. Remorse tells us the sin isn't small, but big enough that it must be removed.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Would We Were Up in Protest Over Officers Shoot-to-Kill Training

   Would that this moment of protest would cast an eye toward police training. Would that more were concerned with this. The police killings in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and at least some of those here in Utah could have been avoided if police were trained in restraint as much as they are in shoot to kill.
   I do believe officers are too inclined and too quick to kill. It comes from their training. I wonder about the words uttered by Officer Darren Wilson shortly after the grand jury let him go. "The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," Wilson said. When he said he did his job right, was he saying he did his job the way he was trained? Officers are trained to kill in situations I believe many of us would disagree with.
   Change often comes with protest. Would that this moment would not pass without protest against police training. Teach them correctly, and we will have better police and fewer unjustified shootings.

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Change a Life, the Biggest Fish Pond is the Prison

   You want to change someones life? There is no greater pool to fish in, then, than a prison? You want to save someones soul? What greater place than a prison to find someone whose life needs turned around. I think of those of whom it is said that they could not bear that any person should be lost. If a person so feels, there is in the prison souls to save. I think of the person who loves mankind, all humankind, and seeks to reach out to those most in need.
   That would be those in prison.
   I guess a post like this deserves a confession, for I am not involved in serving those in prison. I can see how there is much good to do there, but my life seems busy enough without plunging that direction.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Can We Love the Truth Out of These Prisoners?

   I lean with those who say no to "enhanced" interrogations.
  True, we don't know how many lives have been saved because of information gathered through such treatments. Does the end justify the means? I wonder if it does. I also think of how inhumane the act of war is, period. Do we say that war is not consistent with our values, and lay down our guns and never fight again? After all, is it worse to torture a man in prison than it is to kill him on the battlefield?
   We all weigh what is right. At least, many of us do. I lean with those who say, No, for it just isn't consistent with our values. Saving lives by getting information through torture? That justification could be used for any information sought. Do we say, You never know what the enemy might spill, so why not torture him and find out?
   I do wonder if reasoning with the prisoner, and persuading him to our side, could not also be a successful interrogation method. I don't know that it is as effective, but, yes, I do like it better, the same. As with many of the world's problems, sometimes love is the answer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It Takes People to Change People -- So Leave the Prison Where it is

   Who will have this prison? Not in my backyard, says, Saratoga Springs. Not here, says West Jordan. Don't bring it around our homes, says Eagle Mountain. Please keep away from us, says Salt Lake City. So, will the prison go to the Tooele, which hasn't rejected it?
   The question should be, is Tooele the best site? If rehabbing criminals is what we want, which site will serve us best -- Point of the Mountain, where it currently is, or, say, Tooele?
   Point of the Mountain is closer to the courts, medical services, mental help resources . . . and, most important of all, volunteers.
  They are valued at Utah's prison. And, I believe they should play an even greater role than what they already play. People don't change without other people. It takes people to change people. It takes love, attention, coaxing, coaching, inspiring, and helping -- all of which require people to do them. It takes someone showing them how, and someone setting an example for them. You want to change your person by locking him up? Go ahead and try. It might work. But, somehow, I think you'll get better results if, instead of ignoring your prisoner, you help him.
   A prison with walls to hold a man in, is a prison indeed. But a prison with volunteers who reach in to help, is more than a prison. It becomes an institution providing the elements proven to change people's lives. It takes people to change people, and Point of the Mountain is more accessible to a prison's most valuable commodity -- volunteers -- than is Tooele.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Today, America Took a Step Towards Repentance

   Tonight, I am proud to be an American, not because of the CIA's interrogation practices, of course, but because we are fessing up to our faults and vowing to change our ways. It takes a big man to admit he is wrong, it is said, and today, Uncle Sam was a big man.
   I am proud of those who see the importance of our public confession, among them being Sen. John McCain and President Barack Obama.
   "Our enemies act without conscience. We must not," said Sen. McCain.
   "One of the things that sets us apart from other countries is that when we make mistakes, we admit them," said President Obama.
   Where I come from, admitting your mistakes is part of the repentance process. I see no reason that this should be any different in the public arena. I am proud of America for taking this important step toward repentance.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I Like Governor Herbert's Work Requirement

   A Salt Lake Tribune editorial Sunday takes issue with Gov. Gary Herbert's Healthy Utah program having a work requirement. "This should be a basic benefit in life in the developed world," the editorial says of health care.
   Healthy Utah is a substitute program for Medicaid expansion. Herbert's plan would help place those on it into jobs. Now, is that such a bad idea? If I understand it correctly, Gov. Herbert isn't requiring anyone to go out and get a job on their own in order to qualify for Healthy Utah. Instead, it puts the onus on the state. Utah has to find them those jobs. I don't believe Herbert's plan rejects anyone, unless it says they must accept the work offered them in order to qualify. But, if you don't have a job, and someone offers you a job, that is a good thing. Why would you turn it down? Healthy Utah comes to benefit people in two ways, giving them health insurance and giving them jobs. I believe Herbert's work provision a wonderful thing. I only wonder if the governor is chewing off more than he can eat, for it can be a hard thing to place people in jobs. If it were as easy as that, wouldn't we have 100 percent employment?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Devotional is Opportunity to Grow Closer to the Savior

   If Sunday is the Lord's day, if Sunday is a day to worship the Savior, what better way to spend your time than in listening to beautiful music about the Savior's birth, and to talks discussing not only His birth, but his life? The First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, then, is wonderful. It is just such an offering. If you listen attentively, if you visualize the words of the songs and if you allow yourself to find enjoyment in these words, you will grow closer to the Savior.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

To Protest is to Vote

   To protest, is to vote. Both are ways of being politically involved. Both are ways of raising your voice, giving an opinion, and trying to influence public policy. You can vote in the polling booth, or you can vote on the streets of the city with a sign in your hand. He who hails the man who votes should not demean the man who joins a protest march.

Friday, December 5, 2014

In Midst of Current Protests, Day Marks Start of Rosa Parks Protests

   Just as our nation becomes more and more embroiled in racial riots -- protesting the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and others -- some pause to remember that it was on this day, Dec. 5, a full 59 years ago, when one of the most memorable race protests of all began.
   The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Just days after police arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her bus seat so a white person could have it, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched. It would last 381 days. It would not end until after a court ruling in their favor, and until the city bus allowed blacks equal seating. The brightest star in the race movement, Martin Luther King Jr. -- who was a new minister in Montgomery at the time -- gained his fame by leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
   Of interest, this, as we consider that some of the current protesting has been violent: The Montgomery Bus Boycott was non-violent. It stands as a symbol that you do not have to burn down buildings and overturn cars in order for your protesting to spark monumental change.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ferguson, Cleveland, and Staten Island May be Sparking Reform

   Now, the wheels are turning, and change might be about to be wrought. Long have we heard how blacks are arrested more than whites, and I will confess I do not know if there is injustice there, or coincidence.
   But, if blacks are being falsely targeted, Ferguson, Cleveland, and Staten Island might be placing in motion forces for reform. The cases of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner are among those that shout, asking society for justice.
   We may wonder whether they were even racially motivated, and wonder with cause, but events such as those in Ferguson, Cleveland and Staten Island have caught the nerve of public for their racial elements.
   Nor, is injustice against blacks the only injustice the masses are massing against. Police violence, police injustice is drawing the public's ire. We may yet be weighing whether the killings of Brown, Rice and Garner were justifiable, but people grow tired of case after case of possibilities and begin to see need for change, begin to see the need for police restraint.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reckless Endangerment Would be My Call in the Eric Garner Case

   Another Ferguson, this one in our largest city? When Garner said he couldn't breathe, they should have taken notice. And, they should have made an effort to revive him. Yes, it does seem reckless endangerment not to help him. They intended him no harm, but when harm set it, they were obligated to help.
   (This comment was altered Dec. 14, 2014.)


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Michael Brown Autopsy Report and the Tale of Its Bullets

   I laid down my study of Michael Brown's autopsy report after too quick of a glance last night, somehow getting the impression it didn't address which direction the bullets came from, the front or the back.
   Picking it back up, tonight, I see the medical examiner was very considerate of where the bullets entered and exited. "The exact directional path of the gunshot wound cannot be easily determined," he says of the wound on the bicep, which indicates he was reflecting on the direction of the bullets.
   From my reading, none of the bullets are known to have entered from the rear. Numerous bullet entries, perhaps the most interesting of which is one at the corner of the scalp, which would indicate the head was lowered.
   Was he in the act of lowering himself to tackle Officer Darren Wilson, or had the other bullets reduced him to falling forward and thus the bullet entered at the corner of his head? Do we determine anything from the number of bullets that hit him (nine, I believe)? Would that mean he didn't fall easily? What conditions might a person be in, that he does not fall easily? Rage? Or, was it that Officer Wilson was just firing rapidly?
   Was there a ballistics report, to determine how far away Brown was when hit by each bullet? If no, why not? Or, are such reports not able to make a distinction between whether the gunfire came from 10 feet or 20?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why not Hire a Half Dozen Blacks on the Ferguson Police Department?

   Ferguson's Police Department perhaps could go out and hire a half dozen African-Americans, as a show of good faith.
   It has been, what, almost four months since the Michael Brown incident? And, right early it was reported that the department had 50 whites and 3 blacks. Someone came along and corrected that, saying the correct numbers were 49 and 4. This, in a community that is 67 percent black.
   Why not hire at least a half dozen blacks? Why not?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seek Not a God to Bless Thee, But a God to Serve

   The other day, thoughts grateful for what recovery I have had from an accident mixed with a yearning to be blessed with a wife. I have never married. My best days for finding a wife are passed.  I prayed to the Lord, asking for this blessing. As I prayed, I thought how faith is to let God do what He will with us, and to leave it in the hands of Him as to whether He chooses to give us a blessing. As I concluded my prayer, though, my thoughts went even further. My need for a blessing should turn me even more to God. I should resolve to serve Him with completeness, with more devotion, with my whole soul.
   Yes, leave the blessing in the hands of God, but resolve to serve Him regardless and completely. That should be my quest, not the blessing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Contaminates Crops? Manure, Roundup, Both or Neither?

   As I slipped into my car to drive home, I was thinking it is a little odd that some who do not approve of insecticides and pesticides being used on crops find no harm at all in manure being spread on them.
   How can manure not be harmful? I thought, for it is the same principle.
   Now, set the thought I had while getting into my car side-by-side with what I experienced as I got out of my car and began to walk to my front door. A sudden and urgent need to attend to the bathroom hit me -- diarrhea, I guess they call it. Food poisoning. I had eaten two new organic foods that afternoon, and one of them was the culprit.
   Well, after giving it some thought. I doubt my organic food's being raised in cow manure caused my food poisoning. For one thing, manure is spread on the field before the plant is even planted. The manure is changed chemically as it enters the plant and becomes part of it, or, so we are told. That is different than an insecticide being sprayed on a growing plant, absorbing into it and not being changed genetically. Does the pesticide evaporate away? Or, is it, indeed, changed chemically as the plant grows and absorbs into it? Somehow, I do have doubts about the chemical composition of Roundup being altered by the plant so as to make the deadly chemical harmless. Maybe so, but I certainly have doubt.
   And, consider this: While I do not know how long manure takes to decompose -- how long it takes for the bacteria to die -- the manure doesn't all enter the plant while it is a seed. Some probably brushes against the plant once it is growing -- same as the Roundup does -- and is absorbed at that stage.
   Is it that the bacteria is dead by then, that it isn't harmful? Or, is it that the bacteria can be changed genetically, while the Roundup cannot? Or, can Roundup, just as well, be changed genetically?
   To give this line of questioning further perspective, as we wonder if some poisons are safe and others not -- what if we sprayed arsenic on our crop? And, well, I guess nerve gas would be a bad idea.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Understanding Officer-Involved Shootings Means Considering Drugs

   I understand Darrien Hunt's toxicology report said he was not under the influence of any drugs at the time of his deadly encounter with police. He didn't have drugs in his system.
   Said the report: "Toxicology Results: Negative."
   That is at odds with affidavits. His brother, KJ Hunt, said Darrien had a drug problem, had been a user of marijuana for about five years, and had both manufactured and used a drug called DMT. KJ also said Darrien had used acid in the past month.
  Nor is KJ alone in his witness. A affidavit says his mother said he used DMT.
   Darrien allegedly lunged at officers with a sword -- not a normal behavior. His attorney has said his drug use was not relevant, but determining what prompts a person to commit a crime -- and lunging at an officer with a sword is certainly a crime -- is a normal investigative procedure. It is fair to wonder if drugs were at play. But, do we say the toxicology report is the final word and leave it at that? Or should police have delved further? (Perhaps they did.)
   I am not saying the killing was justified. I haven't arrived at an opinion. But, I do see a trend in some of the officer-related shootings, and that is of irrational, emboldened behavior on the part of the person being shot. Yes, I think we should wonder at what factors might cause their rash and brash but provacative and ill-advised actions against officers. If we sight other possible common factors, we should study them as well.
   Perhaps, after study, we would determine that in Darrien's case, the irrational decision-making might would have existed even without drugs. (Maybe we would even determine there were, indeed, he did not do drugs.) Still, a study is justified. Still a study of the possible rolesof drugs in these cases is warranted.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Were His Decision-Making Tendencies Influenced by Marijuana?

   Marijuana affects a person's decision-making ability. Such is the contention of many, including me. Sometimes, decisions made under the influence of marijuana are disastrous.
   So, I do wish one element of the Ferguson story were investigated. Was Michael Brown high when he encountered Officer Darren Wilson? We know some marijuana was found in his system, but the time frame on when he would have taken it could be long removed from the day Wilson shot him.
   I doubt the angle on marijuana has been investigated beyond noting that marijuana was in his system. To me, it would be good if it were. I would like to know the influence of marijuana on a person.
   Michael Brown's mother, when she heard Darren Wilson's account, reacted with amazement. She said it was crazy to think someone would rush someone else holding a gun, ready to shoot. I don't know if Brown did rush Wilson, but I am guessing Brown did something to provoke Wilson. I am not saying Wilson was justified, only that he likely was reacting to something Brown did. Reaching into a police car and punching an officer, to me, is not in sound judgement, either.
   Were Brown's decision-making tendencies altered by marijuana? Seems to me, we should want to know.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

George Zimmerman Logic Comes to Play in Ferguson Shooting

   If Officer Darren Wilson is telling the truth, he might have had cause to shoot Michael Brown, though, perhaps not cause to shoot him dead.
  They exchange blows when Brown reaches into the car, with Wilson taking a punch so severe he doesn't know that he can survive another. Suddenly, Brown bolts away, but doesn't run too far before turning around and charging again at Wilson, reaching into his waistband as if to get a gun. He keeps coming even though Wilson shoots him, and, about 8 to 10 feet away, lowers himself as if he is going to tackle Wilson. Wilson then fires a bullet that hits Brown in the head.
   I can't help notice how the reaching into his waistband follows the story of an officer-involved shooting in South Salt Lake, where Dillon Taylor was killed. It does occur to me it becomes a claim you could make to justify a killing. Still, it could be true, and just a coincidence that the claim is used in both shootings.
  All, told, supposing Wilson is being honest, I'm still not sure I believe Brown should have been killed.  Wilson's claim that he did his job haunts me because officers are trained to kill. "The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," Wilson said.
   If officers are trained to kill, then he did his job right, by that measurement. I'm just not sure they shouldn't be trained to have more restraint from killing. By the time Brown would have been 8 to 10 feet away, lowering himself into a tackling position, it isn't likely he was positioning himself to pull a gun. Simply, a physical rumble was about to ensue.
   You don't kill another man simply because he is about to fight you. If Wilson were justified in this, so is most everyone who gets in a fight. There is always the danger that someone will kill you in a fist fight. Do we say that whenever you are in a rumble, if you are scared for your life, you should pull a gun and take the other person out?
   That's George Zimmerman logic, logic that got Zimmerman off for killing Trayvon Martin. And, now it has raised its head again. I will not say I totally reject it. Perhaps we should let anyone getting in a fight protect themselves by shooting the other person dead.
    But, somehow, I'm doubting it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Give Us a Step-by-Step Account of Michael Brown's Killing

   The little bit of news I've had time to catch on Ferguson indicates some authorities are saying, The grand jury had all the evidence, and the jury members were the only ones who heard all the witnesses.
   I'm also hearing anger that the media has had such a frenzy.
   It does seem, though, the public deserves to know more. You have a city overturning police cars and a nation wondering if justice has been served. It would help to have the evidence, so we might agree, if you think we would. Yet, I don't believe the authorities are saying, Okay, here's how we've reconstructed what happened, and then proceeded to give a step-by-step account. Don't give us just the snippets that support the police officer, such as his face being beat to a pulp, and such as Michael Brown rushing him, give us a step-by-step, both-sides-of-the-story account.
   Perhaps many of us, then, would agree the killing was justified. Perhaps not. Either way, the public has a right to know.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Obama's Immigration Plan: All Bang and No Bullet?

   Now, how much will President Obama's new immigration plan really achieve? Will it actually come as advertised, and bring substantial change?
   He didn't promise a soul citizenship. He didn't even promise them they could stay permanently. What, then, is the big deal? Why so much hype? Perhaps what he delivers will be bigger than what his speech suggested, but if the effort doesn't go beyond what the speech discussed . . .
  Then I  am reminded a little bit of my childhood days with a cap gun: all bang and no bullet.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

If He Plays it Right, Obama Might not Need an Executive Order

   As the days begin to lapse away, I take up watch for the online arrival of President Barack Obama's immigration executive order. It's only been two days, and it is a weekend, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise I don't see it yet.
   Frankly, just listening to his speech, I'm not sure an executive order is even necessary. Nor am I fully sure the changes are going amount to a "new era for immigration," as some have suggested. In his speech, President Obama spoke of doing three things.
   Beefing up resources at the border, to stop illegal entries. I think that could be done without an executive order.
   Making things quicker and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to get through the system. I would guess there might be found ways to speed things up without needing an executive order.
    Allowing those to stay who have been here five years who have children, who pass a background check, who register, and who are willing to pay taxes. Actually, this too, might could be achieved without executive action. They already are not deported until they have gone through the legal process, so there is a window of time we keep them. Today, I read online how this move, indeed, is based on "prosecutorial discretion," meaning the law enforcement officers will simply prioritize their efforts. They'll go after those who are also committing other crimes first. Those getting the reprieves will still get prosecuted, they'll just be allowed to wait.
   "It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently or offer the same benefits that citizens receive," President Obama said in his speech. "Only Congress can do that. All we're saying is, we're not going to deport you."
   Not going to deport them while they are registered to wait for their deportation, that is.
   Well, prosecutorial discretion is used throughout the nation, by most every agency, and therefore we can assume what is being proposed might not need an executive order.
   It is almost as if President Obama could hear the footsteps of Republicans anxious to sue him if he created law by using an executive order. If he does the things he outlined in his speech, yet does them in simple enough fashion that no new law is necessary, then whether he writes an executive order or not, he is steering clear of those who would seek to sue or impeach him for his efforts.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A New Neighbor does not Equal a Job Being Lost

  Give a job to someone coming from another country, and you take it from someone who is already here. That is the argument.
   But, to me, a new neighbor does not equal a job being lost. The more people a nation has, the more jobs there are. If that were not true, we could deport some of us who were born here to make jobs for the rest of us.
   Add people to a nation, and the added people buy gas, go to movies and eat food, all of which creates jobs. The more people you have, the more gas stations, the more movie theaters, and the more restaurants you need.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

We Must Wait to See What Really Will Happen

   We'll have to wait to see how this plays out. Is it more smoke than fire? Is President Obama not delivering much of a change despite all the hubbub of a build-up? The heart of what he announced was that if a person here illegally has been here five years, has children, and is willing to register and pay taxes, then they can stay . . . temporarily.
   They can already do that, if you account for the fact there are deportation hearings before they are deported. If we just didn't place them in jail while they went through the process, would we be accomplishing just as much as what Obama's "deal" is providing?
   We will have to wait and see how it plays out. Obama's speech was too vague for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where is the Right to Privacy Implied

   So, the decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton -- those famous cases back in 1973 that legalized abortion -- were based on the premise of privacy, that women have a right to privacy protected by the Constitution?
   I join my voice to others. Just where in the Constitution does it mention this right to privacy? I understand that it is only implied. I just want to know where. Where is it implied?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Where on the Meter with Congress is rBST?

  No, we shouldn't ban an item just because everyone else does, but we sure ought to wonder about the item, and, yes, we ought to see if there is reason.
  So, if the artificial growth hormone known as rBST, which is fed to dairy cows, has been banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and the European Union since 2000, well, we ought to wonder why the U.S. Congress doesn't consider its own ban.
   The rBST opposition says the artificial growth hormone is responsible for many a health woe.
   So, why is it we never hear a drum beating for Congress to take action on rBST? Why is it we don't hear about rBST even being considered by Congress? Perhaps there have been bills. Perhaps I just haven't been in tune enough to hear about them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Popular Opinion and the Courts Both Give Nod to a Stronger Argument

   So, I noted that the courts are in line with public opinion on the same-sex marriage issue. They were in line all those years when same-sex marriage was not popular, and they swung over to the side of same-sex marriage when that view became popular.
   But, it should be noted that the argument for same-sex marriage became stronger. Somewhere in there, the notion that people are born with a predisposition for sexual orientation got a scientific stamp of approval. It is probably more true that the courts were but influenced by the new argument, than that they were influenced by public opinion. Public opinion, as well, also was influenced by the new, improved and stronger argument.
   Me? I do not fully accept the notion that those with same-sex dispositions are born with those inclinations. At least not all of them. Maybe many are born that way, maybe not. I do know. I have read the account of Josh Weed, and he is both sincere and persuasive in saying he was born with his same-sex attractions.
   Regardless whether it is something some are born with, I do not believe a person should practice same-sex intimacy. I simply believe God has said no to that. The Bible seems clear on the topic.
  (This post was added to 11/18/14.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gorbachev and the Miracle of a Kingdom Set Free

   One of the rare individuals in history, this Mikhail Gorbachev, for has ever there been a leader who set about taking power from himself and giving it to the people?
   What of the things leading up to the demise of the Soviet Union? Gorbachev, the supreme leader, calling for restructuring ("perestroika," we called it) of his own government?  Since when does a man in power call for a restructuring that leaves him less in power? How is it that we found this Gorbachev, whose power didn't leave him much short of being a  dictator, calling for more openness and freedom ("Glasnost," we called it)? Since when does an oppressive government such as the Soviet Union call for "openness"?
   I have long considered the return of the Jews to Israel and the the creation of the nation of Israel in 1948 as a miracle in my time. Last Sunday, as the world reflected on the 25th anniversary of events that brought down the Berlin Wall, I considered that those series of events were also of the fabric of miracle.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Courts are not to be Given to the Winds of Popular Opinion

   I read a portion of the majority opinion in the Sixth Circuit Court's decision on DeBoer v. Snyder -- that would be the case on same-sex marriage that appears likely to throw the ball back into the Supreme Court's lap.
   But, it is from the dissenting opinion that tonight  I think to comment. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey would have the courts make same-sex marriage legal. But, I find in her comments an argument for not making same-sex marriage legal. "The framers (of the Constitution) presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion.To restrain those natural, human impulses, the frames crafted Article III to ensure that the rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims."
   To Judge Daughtrey, I would note that it is the swing of popular opinion that has led same-sex marriage now winning the day, it is popular opinion that is leading marriage to expand to include same-sex marriage. If left to the other two branches of government, same-sex marriage will likely continue to gain acceptance and legality.
   It is, indeed, Judge Daughtrey, the provision of the courts not to bend with the wind, not to serve popular opinion. One can wonder how well they are doing on this matter, for they stood with marriage as being between a man and woman for as long as that was the popular opinion, and now are shifting to say marriage should be between any two consenting adults.
   Popular opinion does seem to be a factor.

Friday, November 14, 2014

To Stop a Criminal, You Shoot and Kill -- Everyone Knows That

   Add Kristine Biggs Johnson to a growing list. There was Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. That was the big one. But, what of John Crawford being shot down by police as he walked down an aisle in an Ohio Walmart? Or, Danielle Willard in West Valley City? What of the two more recent Utah cases, Dillon Taylor in South Salt Lake and Damian Hunt in Saratoga Springs? What of Mary Hawkes in Albuquerque, New Mexico?
   And, you've heard of others. Police use of deadly force being questioned for being unreasonable and unnecessary.
   Unlike the others listed above, Kristine Biggs Johnson didn't die. She survived. She lived to file suit. She had her eye shot out, but she lived to tell about it. You have heard it said, always kill them? Dead victims don't talk. They don't file lawsuits. Their family might, but they don't.
   At what point do we say something must be done? At what point do we start to wonder if we are training them wrong? Or hiring them wrong? Or doing something that can and ought to be corrected? I do not know but what some of these incidents were not justified. I rather think some might have been. But, I wonder about them as a whole.
   How about that maxim that to stop a criminal, you shoot -- and you shoot to kill? Isn't that a little bit of a dangerous generality to be teaching each other?
   I do notice this: Police are taught to use deadly force. Society teaches the same. We teach each other that if there is any danger at all, you pull that gun, shoot and . . .
   The officer was reportedly in no danger of being harmed when he took a gun to Kristine Biggs Johnson, shooting through the window of a truck she was driving no more than 5 mph. She was drunk. She was resisting arrest. But, those are not capital offenses.
   Shoot . . . and kill. Society teaches that. To stop a criminal, you shoot and kill. Everyone knows that.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Voters are Guided by Their Fear of Voting for a Hairball Candidate

  Sometimes, I think voters select their candidates not so much because they like them, but because they aren't afraid of them. They vote not to make the right choice, but out of fear of making the wrong choice.
   An independent or minor party candidate? No way. It might be an hairball. Better to play it safe and go with the Republican or Democrat.
   This principle prompts voters to return the incumbents to office the majority of the time. Congress might have a 90 percent disapproval rating, or whatever it is, but the majority of incumbents still are returned to office. Why? I believe it is, more than anything, because voters figure they at least know a little about the incumbent. They know the incumbent hasn't done anything real egregious, and they just don't know much at all about the challenger.
   So, they take the safe bet and punch their vote for the person already in office.
   It's called electing by fear of the unknown. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. Voters vote not to make the right choice, but to avoid making the wrong choice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Voters Poison Their Own Chances of a Competitive Election

   Voters administer themselves poison when they line up with one party. Soon, they have races that aren't contested. The same voters don't see the sense of voting if only one candidate has a chance to win, so they don't vote.
   They, the voters, are the ones who choose to let their state be dominated by one party, and one-party dominance is why their races are not competitive. So, they, the voters, hoist the cup that poisons their chances of a real election.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Competition brings out the Best in Voter Participation

  Much sweat and consternation is going into efforts to increase voter participation. Mail-in voting, early voting and such are the rage in some places.
   You want voter turnout? Design it so there's competition. Perhaps more than all those othr things, this is the difference-maker. Competition might not be a complete cure-all, but it will help. Much. Voters will be more likely to come out to the polls if they see a hotly contested race.
   So, how to you design it so there's competition? You can't force the public to divide half-and-half, half being Republicans and half being Democrats.
  One idea? Let the primary field candidates from all parties (as well as independents) against each other. Lump them all together. Instead of having one primary for the Republicans and another for the Democrats, it's all one big free-for-all.
   And, here's the trick: If two Republicans are the top two vote-getters, they both advance. Thus, if your state has become so strongly Republican (or Democrat) that the Republican (or Democrat) is going to win in a yawner, no longer will that be the case. Instead, you now have two Republicans on the November ballot, and so even though the voters are prone to vote Republican, they can no longer make such an easy choice.
   Now, with this, you are more likely to be a tight and lively race.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Instill the Love of Learning, and the Learning Itself Will Follow

   "If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow." -- Sir John Lubbock
   The path to a good education lies in these words, the solution to our education woes will be more surely achieved by abiding this wisdom, perhaps, than in all the Common Core and No Child Left Behind programs there might be.
   If the child loves learning, he will learn. If he (or she) does not, all the programs you can offer will do no good. Therefore, it makes good sense to make instilling the love of learning into the child the first objective of every school board and every school.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Voters Want Choices; Without Choices, You have Low Voter Turnout

   The single greatest thing a state can do to increase voter participation is to provide hotly contested races. Usually, that translates into having a balance between Democrats and Republicans. No, I have not studied (very much) states dominated by one party, and compared their voter participation to states with divided party loyalties, other than to note some of the things that happened in this election and other than to note Utah has long been dominated by one party, and has for some time had a low voter turnout.
   Voters want choices. Otherwise, why vote? It isn't really an election if the ballot offers no choice.
   Texas is said to have the lowest voter turnout in all the land, but this year it was even lower (37.5% turnout in 2010 to 33.6% in 2014). Did the new voter I.D. law have an effect? Perhaps. But the biggest factor in the low turnout was probably lack of enough barnburner races. Senator John Cornyn crushed his Democratic challenger, David Alameel, by 27.2 percentage points. Greg Abbott sailed past his Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, by more than 20 percentage points.
  As for nationwide trends, Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, cited in a Los Angeles Times article, noted that where there were competitive races, "we actually had a fairly robust turnout."
  The writer of the article, Maeve Reston, wrote: "The turnout picture in Tuesday's election was complex. Ballots were still being counted Wednesday and the final numbers will not be certified for some time, but the preliminary figures showed an uneven picture across the country. There was a huge variance among the states based on whether they had hotly contested statewide races."
   So, you want voter turnout? Design it so there's competition.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bless the Gazans and Give Them Help

   Bless the Gazans, and rush to their relief.
   It is said 4,100 homes were destroyed and 17,000 damaged, that 100,000 are homeless, that 32,000 have no running water, and 100,000 have it every 2-3 days, and that 80 percent of the water is unfit to drink. It is said that 90 percent of the people suffer power cuts and the rest have no power at all, that 80 percent of the families are on food aid, and 70 percent live on $3 a day. It is said that 95 percent of the industries are suspended.
   Oh, help is on its way. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked for $4 billion in aid. Participants in an international donors conference, led by Qutar's $1 billion, bettered that request, pledging a combined $5.4 billion.
   But, how quickly will the help come? Will the blockade, which bans entrance of such things as cement, steel and glass, prevent the nation from rebuilding much at all?
   Supposing things are as severe as the reports suggest, let the international community rush more rapidly to help. Let them reason with Israel that they must be allowed to bring in the necessary building supplies. Let the wells be repaired and rebuilt and let power be brought back. Are current efforts successfully handling food needs? If so, keep them up. But, the economy must be rebuilt, so the people can support themselves.
   Is one possible answer relocating the Gazans? What countries will accept them? Are we looking around for alternative locations for these people, or are we assuming they won't move? Or, are we saying that Israel must not be allowed to win in forcing these people to move elsewhere? If relocation will help them, and if they are wanting and willing, then relocate them. At least offer them relocation. I have not heard word one about any nation offering to relocate them to that nation. Why not?
   There is an old German proverb: Charity asks not the cause, only the need. Let us not consider whether Hamas, which governs Gaza, is as much to blame as anyone, and whether Hamas will benefit if the people are aided. And, let not ask if Israel will be aided if the people are relocated.
   Let's just help them.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is Marijuana a Factor in Crime?

  Voters legalized marijuana in Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. Various debates are swirling: whether marijuana is harmful, whether it should be legal, whether it should be punished with jail time, whether it should be used medicinally, etc.
   What of the debate as to whether marijuana contributes to crime? I would point out the number of times criminals are found to be under the influence of marijuana. If we were to take the percentage of times a person committing a crime is considered to be under the influence of marijuana, and compare it to the percentage of all people under the influence of marijuana at any given moment, I suggest the percentage committing criminals under the influence would far excede the percentage of the general public.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Everyone Who has a Toy, Longs to Use it

    Everybody who has a toy, longs to use it. And, if the "toy" is a gun? If the desire can be fulfilled target shooting or hunting, wonderful. But, there will always be someone who longing leads to their using it on another human. They might long to use it defending their home, and they shoot a trespasser dead. They might long to use it on a villain who comes to the school to kill children, and they shoot the shooter dead before he can kill a single child. (That would be good.)
   Or, they might use it in a way they never intended. They might have intended to use it to protect their home or to kill a killer, but then one day they get mad at their wife, and in anger, shoot her dead.
   Everyone who has a toy, longs to use it. And, if they long to use it, the day might come that they will. Some of those uses will be good, but not all of them. Some will be tragic uses.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Will Republican Victory Mean?

 So, we wait to learn what Republican control of the Senate will mean. An end to any hope of immigration reform? A hardening of the line against immigration? Progress against the federal deficit? Will it mean an end to the gridlock in Congress? Is the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy?
  (Note: this very short blog was added to 11/5/14.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Choosing a Wise Person Better than Choosing a Friend

   Too late now, as the election looms tomorrow. But, how would I decide who to vote for, if I had taken more time?
   I think of three races where I know candidates on the ballot. Do I vote for someone because I know them? Do I vote for them because they are religious leaders, and of the religion I believe in and belong to?
   I think it good if a person can lay aside personal associations, and choose the candidate who will best fill the post. But, I wonder if I or anyone else can be so even-handed. I wish to be and aspire to be.
   But, what are the ways for sifting through the candidates? Do I seek out the honest and honorable, those of integrity, above all else?
   Or, do I pick a key issue, say, immigration, and vote solely based on that?
   Perhaps I study them the candidates well, learning their stands on all the issues, and vote for the one closest to me on most things.
   Or, do I just seek a person of wisdom? Do pick the person not who has decided where they stand on every issue, but who will weigh each issue, each topic, each stand?
   All of these methodologies have value. Of them, though, I wonder if the last is the best of all -- that is, were it possible to determine the wisdom of the candidate, and, were it possible that candidates themselves valued weighing their stands as much as already having them. Can you imagine a candidate putting out a flyer saying, "I haven't taken stands on a number of issues, but promise to study those issues and vote accordingly." Or, "Vote for Jim Vinch: The candidate who is still weighing his stand on Common Core!"
   Instead of appreciating such open-mindedness, we, the voters, would eat them up for being indecisive, for lacking vision, and for flip-flopping.
   Of course, some candidates may have already weighed most all of the issues, and came to their conclusions already. In those cases, if I am seeking a person of wisdom, I need to seek for someone who can tell me why he or she holds the views they do. If I can see their reasoning was wise, then I can select those who are wise.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Competition from Cooperatives Might Make Student Loans Unnecessary

   The notion of doing away with student loans has come up in the Doug Owens / Mia Love race. I will take a position neither of them took.
   Let's do do away with student loans . . .  but only if we can find a way to continue to ensure our youth an education.
   If you put money on the table, someone is going to snap it up. In this case, if you provide loans to students, colleges are going to snatch up that money. However much you put on the table will be the amount swept off the table. And, have you ever heard of the law of supply and demand? If enough money is available -- if enough money is placed on the table -- prices will rise.
   I'm sure there are other reasons our tuition rates have risen in the past few decades, but, yes, this is probably one. Now, we've reached a point where a higher education is out of reach for many youth . . . unless they get a student loan. They have to go in debt for a good part of their lives to get an education. Is that wise of us, as a society, to set it up so students are in debt for decades and decades? Is it wise that we set it up so the first thing they learn to do upon leaving home is to go into debt? It's a ritual of society now: As you embark on life on your own, acquire a debt you might never pay off -- and do it in the name of doing the responsible thing, going to college and obtaining an education.
   If colleges and universities want our business, they must find a way to lower tuition. If they won't, we must find another way of educating our youth.
   Classes attached to the work site, the companies educating their employees? That's a thought, but I'm not sure it's a good one. It's only a good one if the work sites decide, on their own, to educate their employees. Government should not mandate this.
   Volunteer-based community education? People could volunteer to teach topics, and youth (as well as others) could take whatever classes they wanted, for no more money than it takes to rent the hall where the class is held. Or, you could pay the teachers. If you have 20 students, and you have six one-hour classes and you are paying your teachers $20 an hour, that's only $6 a day per student. You will probably have more than 20 students, and teachers will probably teach more than just one one-hour class a day, but the cost for paying them remains $6 a day per student.
   Call it cooperative higher education (CHE) and make it a movement, and reclaim our right to a reasonably priced education.
   The key is going to be finding inexpensive halls to rent. Perhaps this will prevent one-site cooperatives. They might need to rent a recreation center at a housing development for one class, and an available room at city hall for another. Their classes might be scattered, but the program will still work. Maybe you design your cooperative so you do, indeed, keep all the classes at one site, renting a work place and holding the classes just in the evening after the company's workers have all gone home.
   Leave the universities open. Remember the law of supply and demand? Remember what competition can do to an economy? Imagine, if you will, how this will re-infuse free-market competition into our education system and wonder if it will not affect tuition charges. Once colleges and universities see that the cooperatives are able to do it while charging the students only for the room rental and $6 a day to pay the instructors, they probably will find a way to lower their tuition rates.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dance with the Devil, Die with the Devil

   Dance with the devil, die with the devil. Guns do a lot of good, being protection and all, but that does not mean they do not have dangers. The more people who joy in using them --some eyeing the prospect of using them on other humans -- the greater the odds they will be used for just that purpose. While the uses will be both for good and for evil, both justified and non-justified, I trully wonder but what the chances for evil don't rise faster than the chances for good.

Missile Launched from Gaza at Israel

  Israel officials say a missile from Gaza hit southern Israel today. I would guess it landed in an area where it did no harm. It was, though, the second missile launched from Gaza since the truce between the two countries was reached Aug. 26 after 50 days of fighting.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Perhaps Enforcing Existing Laws Would be Better than the I.D. Laws

   Instead of all the tight I.D. laws, aimed at locking non-citizens from voting, how about just enforcing the law that is on the books, the one that says you cannot vote if you are not a citizen?
   This is a thought, something to think on, and I don't know what the best way to pull it off would be. It seems a little much to have a police officer there, looking into questionable voters, or those who are challenged. Somehow having an officer at the polls just doesn't set well.
   And, if we combed the voters after-the-fact, the election would be over and their votes counted before we ever caught them. Still, the fact that they knew we would be investigated would have a chilling effect on those who shouldn't be voting.
   Perhaps it is a better answer than the tight I.D. laws, if the tight I.D. laws are disenfranchizing those who should be legal voters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Texas Voter I.D. Law is Liking Shooting into a Crowd with a Shotgun

   The State of Texas says 600,000  to 800,000 voters will be disqualified in this election due to a new law that requires approved I.D.s. (I would guess that number is high, but still . . .)
   Now, if the biggest chunk of them are people from other countries who don't have permission to be here, perhaps the law is justified. But, it seems if you are going to disenfranchise large numbers, you'd best be sure you're catching the right culprit. I don't believe proponents of the law have any such proof. One thought made by the other side, by the opponents of the law, is that there have only been two cases of voter impersonation prosecuted to conviction in the last 10 years. Two! And, I wonder if either of those were here in America without proper permission. My experience is, often the undocumented go out of their way to avoid situations where they might be found out as not being citizens. Some of them may vote. Some of them might be so brazen. And, how many that amounts to, I don't know. But, for many, it is a matter of why would they turn out to vote  -- even without this law -- if there were a chance they might be found out? I'm of the mind that many of them steer clear of the voting booth, period.
   Nor have I heard of any proof there are many undocumenteds voting. It is a supposition, nothing more?Perhaps it might be correct, but we don't know that. Can we disqualify so many voters just on a supposition?
   And, what if it turns out there are only 5,000 undocumented people among the 600,000 disqualified voters? (Again, supposing the number is that high.)  Can we disqualify so large group if it means catching only 5,000 undocumented people?  Talk about shooting into a crowd with a shotgun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Feed the Poor, and You Could get Arrested?

   No time to read up on it more, but I see how 21 cities have restricted or flat-out banned feeding the homeless since January 2013. Is it because they don't want panhandlers, and it is really the panhandlers they are after? From what little I did read, no. It is because they believe feeding the homeless only makes the problem grow.
   I think of Salt Lake City, and wonder if we could just offer them three square meals. Go to such-and-such a place, and eat as you will. Actually, that is already the way it is, I believe. I don't know if three meals are offered, but there are places where they can go and eat. I think it wonderful. I can't imagine anyone making such feeds illegal.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Would We Were Scrambling as Hard to End Abortion

   I have nothing new to say of abortion. I only pause for the topic as it is one I think we should not forget. I will repeat that more lives are lost to abortion than are lost to any of our diseases.
   Perhaps I could give it an comparison to Ebola. There is no known cure for Ebola. . . . And there is likewise no known cure for abortion. Would that were scrambling as hard to find a cure for abortion as we are scrambling to find a cure for Ebola.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Almost Three Weeks Ago: A Reddish Moon of Wonder

   Horton slipped out of his truck, and headed to the shower. He looked up at the morning sky in search of the moon, knowing it was full.
  What he saw froze him dead in his tracks. If a  truck had came along then, moving no faster than 3 mph, honking all it would, who knows if Horton would have reacted in time to get out of the way.
   He was as good as paralyzed. The moon had a vaporish, smokish overcovering, various shades of red moving and flowing through the orb. At its right tip, the moon shined brightly, exuding a neon yellow-orange.
   Such a moon he had never seen. He will count the experience as one of the wonderful moments of his life. For the rest of us, it is a reminder of what we missed Oct. 8 when the lunar eclipse came to our skies, and we slept right through it.
   "And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath, blood and fire and vapour of smoke." -- Acts 2:19-20
   I do not know whether the moon is a fulfillment of that prophecy. It is a red moon, which is a qualifier. If nothing else, though, we are told their will we wonders in the heavens in the last days, and this is a wonder in the heavens.
   (Note: This post was altered after the post date. The last paragraph was added 9/27/15.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ambulance Service isn't a Fit with Private Enterprise

   Ambulances service is not a thing you can operate through free-market competition. When it is time to call an ambulance, you can't dial three competitors and get price quotes. Indeed, you have but one number to call -- 911 -- and no choice is made.
   Nor is ambulance service something for which you need an owner. If you have the EMTs, the ambulance and all the equipment, they can do the trick whether there is an owner sitting at the top or not. So, why have an owner? That just adds unnecessary expense. If we took all our post offices nationwide, and gave each one an owner, might we not have to increase our prices to pay for the owners' salaries?
   So, this might not be a time when private enterprise is the answer. Ambulance service might be a situation for which we are best off letting government do the task.
   Most communities today, I would guess, allow just one franchise in their community. Just one. Competition doesn't fit well into this profession. If you had Red Ride Ambulance and Blue Car Ambulance both serving Dannaville, one ambulance would get a call and the other would be just sitting there. For the most part, by the time another call came in, they both would be sitting again. So, if there is only enough business for one, why have two firms waiting?
   Once again, we can see ambulance service doesn't fit into the free-market model.
   Insurance? I do wonder how much of an ambulance bill goes for liability insurance. Actually, I don't hear of many lawsuits against ambulance firms, but there surely must be some. So, in steps the insurance company. It should not go lost on us that if an insurance agent is to be paid, that, too, is an expense. We are not only paying a fee to be banked away for when the ambulance service loses a liability case, but we are paying additional money to support the insurance company, itself.
   But, if we've already established that government is the best fit for running ambulance service, why even have insurance? Let the government pay out for the lawsuit when the lawsuit comes, and save yourself all the money that goes just to support the insurance executives.

Friday, October 24, 2014

$1,900 for an Ambulance Ride Across Town?

   I wonder if we victimize people with our ambulance system, if we victimize victims.
   I just go my bill for my ride across town, $1,898.55. I do find mself wondering why it would cost $1,900 for a trip to the hospital.
   Because the EMTs are trained? True, they are. Bless them. So, perhaps charge me $50 an hour for each and send me six. Charge me for half an hour. That's $150.
    Or, is the bill so high because of the equipment? They placed a breathing tube down my throat. How much expense would that be? When they picked me up, I tried to convince them not to make me lie on my back as I did not want to drown in my own blood from all the blood pouring into my mouth. But, now was not the time to reinvent the ambulance ride. They explained to me that rather than have my lay on my stomach, they would place the breathing tube down my throat and I'd still be able to breathe.
  As soon as I laid back, I passed out. They needed to hook me up to an assortment of items, and therein lies some of the bill. There's $52.85 for O2 Oxygen, $85.25 for O2-vent circuit with peep, $10.66 for thermoeter cover, $41.85 for O2-ETCO2 Adapter, $74.68 for IV pump set-reg, $55.38 for EKG pads, and $28.03 for "disposable care" (blood wraps?).
  It is good that they cared for me, but seeing they've already itemized my expenses, where comes the rest of the bill? Where comes the largest two items? They're billing me $284.85 for mileage and $1,265 for "ALS1 GC emergency." What's that? If I've already paid for everything but the EMT personnel, which I suppose I believe ought to be closer to $150, where comes these two charges?
   Do a hurting person a favor, and don't charge $285 for "mileage." By charging such, it is clear you are not looking so much to help a person who is hurting, but for a way to make a buck off the person who is hurting. This is not a person you should be looking to run up a bill on, but a person you should be wanting to help.
  The $1,265 for "ALS1 GC emergency"? Whatver that is, it sounds like something you shouldn't want to charge someone if that someone is someone you are just wanting to help, instead of making a buck off them.
   Is some of the expense due to liability insurance? Actually, I don't hear of many lawsuits against ambulance firms. This, though, might fit into another blog. Sufficient to say, for now, I don't think we should allow liability insurance to be such a massive expense, if it is, in fact, a large chunk of the bill.
   Bottom line, to me, seems to be that if a person has no choice but to take your ride, you can charge them as much as you like. Run up a bill on them, for what are they going to say? With their life of the line, they can't exactly turn your ride down. You've got them in a corner. So, if you want to charge an extortionary fee. . .
   Isn't this victimizing people you should not be victimizing? They are victims when you pick them up, and you victimize them some more.
   Bless the EMTs for working in a difficult profession. It is not them I have a beef with. Bless them for the care and for getting folks like me to the emergency room. And, when they go home at the end of the day, I doubt it is they who have made an overly amount.
   But, somewhere in there is someone making an awful lot of money off people in pain. No, I don't like the way we've set up our ambulance service, and, yes, I do think we should change it. If there is a person sitting back, just making a buck for owning a franchise, I think we should cut them out. Bless them, for allthey do to save lives, but the ambulance system probably would go right on working well without franchise owners and others garnering money off this system. This might be a time when it makes more sense to have government provide the service instead of private companies.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Night's Thoughts on Treating Drug Abusers

   Okay, one side wants to punish the drug users, and the other wants to treat them. I say, let's mix the two and come up with the answer.
   I'm only talking of the drug user and pusher who has no other crimes, the drug user and pusher who has no background of violence.
   Lock 'em up, but make it in a home, instead of a prison. We'll go ahead and put as many as 20 of them in one of these homes. I normally don't like allowing inmates to interact with other inmates, thinking they need good influences, not bad, and thinking they are likely to be influenced by the company they keep.
   But, we will operate from the assumption that simple drug use is not a fatal character flaw, and let them live together.
   Each home will have a work area, where a product is made, with the inmates being the workers for maybe six hours each day. I believe work should be part of the reformation of a person. We won't care if the candies or whatever produced in the prison are marketed successfully, only that our prisoner is allowed to work.
   So, how do I mean it when I say we will mix prison with treatment? Our "prison guards" will be social workers. We'll have two to three for each 20-person unit. They will supervise the work, and then they will provide treatment when the work is done. Treatment will include character training. Oh, it can include 12-step programs, counseling, and other such things, but character training will also be part of it. Teaching them right from wrong will be part of it.
   Educating them, period, will be part of it. Whether they study astronomy or whatever, education will be in each facility.
   It will be somewhat of a lock-up facility, with no windows to crawl out of, and no unapproved visitors allowed. But, visitation will be encouraged. During visitation hours, additional workers will be brought in -- one per inmate -- to monitor to ensure no drugs are passed. No physical contact (handshakes, hugs, etc.) with the inmates will be allowed in order to facilitate watching them against drugs being given to them. We will encourage visits from community volunteers who can provide good role modeling for those in our treatment centers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Justice for the Drug User Might Get a Makeover

   What of today's news, bringing word Utah is considering changing simple possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, and reducing sentences for drug charges?
   Backers like the idea, suggesting drugs are a health issue, not a criminal matter, and wondering why we tie up our prison system with drug offenders. An estimate 25 percent of Utah's prison population is there simply for drugs. (That estimate comes from the Utah Department of Corrections executive director.)
   Free them and treat them? Is that the answer? My first thoughts include that this is more than a social welfare issue. Drugs should be illegal. I wonder how effective treatment is, and I wonder if society should pay for it.
   If it truly does take them off drugs, then perhaps so, for reducing the number of those on drugs would be a wonderful thing.
   I consider what I've thought best for drug charges in the past, and think I still might like those thoughts. I would place them in homes, with camera-watch supervision. Call it prison, if you like, but it would be a different form. To reduce the chances of drugs being given them, their visitors would be limited, with visits being monitored by the cameras and audio transmissions. For the moment, I pause in what I would do from there. Would I still allow them work release? I almost believe that a must, but wonder how to monitor them when they are out in their jobs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The to be or not to be of Climate Change

   There is global warming, you know, for the ten warmest years in the 132-year history of tracking average world temperatures have all occurred since 1998.
  But, then again, there actually is no global warming, for Oct. 1, marked the 18th straight year of no significant warming treads in surface average temperatures.
   But, yes, like I already told you, there is global warming. The melting Antarctic proves it. Scientists say the melt will result in a 4-12 foot rise in sea levels, enough to submerge much of New York City.
   But, no, it all depends on how you look at it, and there really is no global warming, at least not everywhere, for in some places, temperatures are falling. For example in certain areas near the Andes, temperatures fell from 1910 to 1980, then held steady for about 10 years.
   Yes, there is global warming. We told you about the Antarctica melting? Well, gravity is also weakening at the earth's poles, right where the ice is melting.
   No, no, no no. Again, there is no global warming, for we are on a 20-year trend of colder winters in the United States.
 Yes, there is global warming. "I believe global warming and climate change are real threats to our planet," says Andrew Cuomo.
  No, there is no global warming. Christopher Monckton, who once advised Margaret Thatcher, says real world climate sensitivity is very much below estimates. "Perhaps, therefore, there is no climate crisis at all," Monckton said. ". . . The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing."
   Yes, there will be massive global warming. Maybe this is what scripture referred to when it spoke of, "that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." (Mormon 9:2)
   No, for the scripture says, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Less Standardization Could be a Plus in Education

   Let the teacher take the wheel, then. Instead of becoming more and more standardized, I wonder if our education should become less structured.
   Keep all the testing that measures you against other schools, if you like. Let that remain standardized. But, let each school set its own course. Especially let the teacher be the one setting the course. If a teacher has their own way of going about doing something, and it is good, then by all means let them set their own course.
   We often get excited about our own ideas more than about ideas that are handed to us. Let the teacher select the textbook, even though it means some textbooks for the same course might be different right within the same school.
    Give the schools a touch more freedom in what they teach. Maybe some high schools will forgo algebra, altogether. I'm not so sure that would be all so bad.
   What is important, is that the education expands the student's knowledge in ways that will be beneficial when it comes time to moving into a career. Let some schools be more science oriented while other schools choose to emphasize the arts or history.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

To Measure a Man,You Must Know How He Measures Others

   The measurement of a man is in how well he treats others. If he treats them well, he is great. But, if he scorns others, and picks at them, and finds faults, he not so great.
   In the words of Joseph Fielding Smith:
   "I believe it is our solemn duty to love one another, to believe in each other, to have faith in each other, that it is our duty to overlook the faults and failings of each other, and not to magnify them in our own eyes, nor before the eyes of the world. There should be no faultfinding, no back-biting, no evil speaking one against another in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
   Jesus taught a modern prophet, "If ye are not one, ye are not mine." (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27)
   So it is, then, that to measure a man, you must know how he measures others.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Let 'Em In, Martin Luther; Let 100,000 Haitians into America

   Friday, someone was listening to the old Paul McCartney song, "Let Em In," and they opened the floodgate to thousands -- some say at least 100,000 -- Haitian immigrants.
   "Someone's knockin' at the door
   "Someone's ringin' the bell
    "Do me a favor
    "Open the door, and let 'em in"
    One-hundred thousand? Will that many come in 2015? Or, are some of them still years from entering? Whatever the number, it seems somewhat massive.
   "Sister Suzie, brother John,
   "Martin Luther . . ."
   Funny, McCartney's song should call on Martin Luther to be one to open the door, for it does seem opening the door by some accounts is the Christian thing to do. If a people are just seeking to have a better life, if they just seek to join family, seems like a reasonable thing is to say, "You can come live here if you are down and out. We've nothing against you."
   Yes, I hope President Obama isn't letting executive decree overrule congressional law. And, I fear he is. If the quotas that are keeping them from entering are part of congressional law, then it is Congress that needs to lift the quotas, not the executive branch.
   And, Congress perhaps doesn't dare, fearing a backlash from voters who oppose easing our immigration laws.
    Would be wonderful to me if the people stepped into this impasse, if they raised their voices to let Congress know they are willing to let these people come live amongst us.
   But, yes, I fear there are too many people who do bear a grudge against letting too many immigrants in. I just wish they would take Paul's advice.
   "Someone's knockin' at the door
   "Somebody's ringin' the bell
   "Someone's knockin' at the door
   "Somebody's ringin' the bell
   "Do me a favor, open the door, and let 'em in"