Monday, March 31, 2014

Utah Appears to Need a Good Lemon Law

   I don't know whether there is a law in Utah against knowingly selling an item that has a flaw so serious that it will soon render the item inoperable. There is a lemon law against selling a new car while knowing it has significant defects that can't be repaired. Just new cars are covered, not used ones. And, the car has to be under warranty. That sounds like a useless lemon law, to me, since it doesn't seem to be providing any protection that the warranty isn't already providing.
   I'm sure you can take a seller to court for fraud when they sell items with defects so severe that the item will become inoperable soon after purchase. Still, I wonder that there shouldn't be a law against such sales. And, I'm surprised that I am not finding that such a law already exists. If there is no law, the unscrupulous seller might simply point to the fact and insist nobody can hold him (or her) liable.
   I say, make it a law so the unscrupulous have no leg to stand on.

Match What has Happened with What Revelations Said Would Happen

   "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven . . ." 'Tis a passage of scripture from Revelations that grabs at the Latter-day Saints, for they know of an angel who flew out of heaven, just as prophesied, just as John the Revelator suggested would happen..
   To everyone, including those not of the LDS faith, I ask, Is it not something to marvel at? Is it not something to wonder at that we have an account of such an event unfolding in 1823? Long ago, John the Revelator said an angel would come, bringing the gospel to every nation and people. And, he was speaking of the last days, that it would take place in the last days.
   Are we in those last days?
   Consider Joseph Smith's account of what happened. "I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a person appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor . . . Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. . . . He called me by name, and said he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni."
   An angel from heaven.
   This must leave us wondering if Joseph was thinking of the passage in Revelations 13:6 when he gave his account. Did he insert the story of an angel just to lay claim to the prophecy? If he did, he makes no mention of the prophecy as he writes his account in the Pearl of Great Price. (The Pear of Great Price is a book of scripture to the LDS, one that includes Joseph's account.) He does not say, "The angel appeared unto me, fulfilling John the Revelator's words."
   Joseph's account does speak of other prophecies from Holy writ, and does suggest what was happening was related to them. The angel, "commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament," Joseph wrote, noting the angel then cited passages in Malachi, Isaiah, the Acts and Joel.
   That what was happening with Joseph fits into what was cited in Malachi, Isaiah, the Acts, and Joel  should also be of great interest to those who wonder if ancient scripture is being fulfilled in these days, which are perhaps the last days.
   "And, I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." That is the propecy of Rev. 13:6. God said it would happen. Now we reach what many believe is an age either at the end of times or near to the end of times. We look around. Are there any accounts of an angel bringing the gospel? For, if there are, we must consider whether the angel Moroni is the angel spoken of in Revelations,, lest we be dismissing the words of a prophet, John the Revelator, and lest we be dismissing the words of another prophet, Joseph Smith.
   Joseph Smith's account says Joseph's name "should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people." This, too, is a prophecy that has been fulfilled. Joseph Smith's name is spoken of for good and evil wherever the gospel is introduced, and it is in the process of being introduced -- as John the Revelator promised -- "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."
    We are left to wonder of that those same words, "nation," "kindred," "tongue," and "people." are used in Joseph's account, as he speaks of his name being had for good and bad among them. One could dismiss it as proof Joseph did insert his story of an angel just to make good on prophecy. But, that would dismiss the other facts that remain before our eyes, that Joseph's account is the only account we have that fits Revelations, that we are in the last days, that other prophecies were fulfilled, and that the God should use the same language in fulfilling a prophecy as He does in giving it.
    Considering the whole of the story, I think it remarkable that what John the Revelator said would happen has an event to match it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

'I Saw Another Angel Fly in the Midst of Heaven'

   "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." -- Revelations 13:6
   The Latter-day Saints believe this scripture points right at their church. They see the angel as angel Moroni, who visited to Joseph Smith, bringing a gospel that was to be preached to every nation and people.
   I am among those Latter-day Saints. I look at the scripture, see that it is speaking of the last days, and notice it speaks of the gospel coming forth from an angel, and see this matches with Joseph Smith's account. I know of no other matching event that has taken place. Yes, it could be argued that it is yet to happen. But, we are -- many would agree -- in the last days, and if we look about at what has happened and see an event that cleanly fits the prophecy, we should give it consideration, lest we be dismissing the words of a prophet. John the Revelator's words fit what has happened. If the Lord gives a prophecy, and it happens, and we live in the day that it happens and see that it has happened, will we reject the prophet?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Society's Right ahead of Society's Interest on Alcohol and Same Sex

   That which is harmful so often becomes that which is illegal: drugs, breaking traffic rules, and even suicide. But, there is a notable exception: alcohol.
   If it were up to me, and the decision would not be opposed, I'd make alcohol illegal, again. I'd bring back  prohibition. But, well beknownst to all of us, that would be opposed. We've tried prohibition, and as a society we've decided it was a mistake.
   Society's right ahead of society's best interest, you might say.
   As it is with alcohol, so I see it with same-sex marriage. If we have reached a point where society cries for allowing same-sex marriage, so be it.
   And, I think we've reached and shot past that point quite rapidly just in the past few years.
   We could argue a ban against alcohol comes from the Judeo-Christian values we possess as a nation, same as a ban on same-sex marriages does. We could cite biblical injunctions against alcohol, same as we do against same-sex affection. We could quote Proverbs 23:29-30. "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine."
   All this said, I find myself hesitating. I see the arguments, the good reasons for allowing same-sex marriage. But, I pause at the threshold of decision.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Are We Forcing Our Values on Others in the Same-Sex Question?

   The danger in the same-sex marriage question is, are we forcing our values on others?
   If a heterosexual marriage, by all accounts, is the just and moral marriage, while the same-sex marriage, by all accounts, is not, then let us have laws against same-sex marriage.
   But, of course, that is not the case. Same-sex marriage is wrong to some of us, including to me, but it is hardly by all accounts immoral and wrong. Far from it. These days, I would guess most people think same-sex marriage is moral and okay. It is not like robbing a bank. Almost no one would argue robbing a bank is okay. It is clearly wrong. So, having a law against that is understandable.
   Same-sex marriage cannot be classed as a wrong so easily. Not at all.
   Often, I hear the reasoning for banning same-sex marriage as being that we are a Judeo-Christian nation with Judeo-Christian values. Marriage between a male and a female is one of our values. The problem with that argument is, it suggests the values of the people should be honored . . . and, fact simple, we are reaching a point where most people's value is that same-sex marriage is okay.
   Whether we like it or not, that is the value.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Regnerus Study Cannot be so Easily Dismissed

    So, a judge in Michigan has tossed out that state's law against same-sex marriages and the editorial page of the Salt Lake Tribune typifies the judge's assessment of the state's expert witnesses as being basically liars.
   Two of those witnesses, the Trib notes, are witnesses Utah is using as it attempts to get its ban on same-sex-marriages validated by the courts. What do I think of the Michigan court's calling Mark Regnerus "entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration"?
  I think it should be much more difficult for the judge and the Tribune to dismiss Regnerus and his study. If you look objectively at what that study represents, you must consider it has more claim to validity than the studies which preceded it. Studies prior were much smaller in their sampling, and generally were not done in as random of a fashion. The Regnerus, study, therefore, was conducted in a more scientific fashion. If you reject it in favor of studies done with less regard for proper procedure that does not lend me to think you are being objective.
   Sorry, Judge Bernard Friedman, and sorry, Salt Lake Tribune.
  Or, perhaps to reject the Regnerus study means no more than that you are unaware of the background of that study, to realize it is the one conducted in the sounder fashion. All of us sometimes fail to look at a matter enough before we speak. So it is with the Michigan judge and so it is with the SL Trib writer. Whether you are a judge in Michigan or an editorial writer for the Tribune, you can still fall victim to not having considered a matter before rushing to judgement.
    The Tribune editorial speaks of credibility. What is credibility, in this case? Is it rejecting a study done in sounder fashion in favor of studies done with less sound procedures?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teach the Children Without Bias, Regardless of Common Core

   What of Common Core teaching a liberal agenda? Now, if I had a kid in high school, I could question them each day on what they were learning, how it was being taught, and maybe find the liberal agenda. Maybe I should check in with some neighborhood kids to find out.
   Is it legend? Is it all supposition? Or, are our schools here in Utah, as a result of Common Core, giving a liberal twist to history and all? Does this mean the textbooks all come from Common Core now? For where else would the slant be coming from if it is not found in the textbooks?
   I'm told the teachers associations are behind Common Core. So, if we followed my suggestion that each teacher be given the right to choose if Common Core will be used, does that mean they generally would choose it?
   I remain with yesterday's opinion. Let each teacher decide if they want Common Core. With or without that program, they are the ones teaching the class. To some degree, if they have a liberal viewpoint, there is the danger that viewpoint will make it into what they teach, regardless. And, if they have conservative viewpoints, those views are likely to reflected in what they teach even if the lesson material has a liberal twist. This will not be so with all teachers, for some will simply pass through the slant that comes in the lesson materials, but those of strong political persuasions will be likely to shape their lessons with their own viewpoints.
   What if you want neither a liberal nor a conservative agenda? Encourage the teachers to be unbiased. That is an honorable aim, and actually, many a teacher will see the wisdom in it just by being asked to take that approach.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Common Core? I'd Let the Teacher be the One Who Decides

   Whether to endorse and embrace Common Core, or to shun and scorn it, this is the question. One thought: since we started using Common Core, are proficiency scores rising or falling in science, English, math and so forth?
   Judge a program by its fruits.
   So, how have we done since Common Core came along? Are we better in SAT, ACT, and whatever other tests there are? I look up one, SAT, and see reading and math scores are slightly down.
   Also, I am not in the classroom to know, but if Common Core detracts from the teacher being able to innovate and use his or her own initiatives, then that is a negative. I believe teachers will do best when they love what they are doing. Sometimes, the love of teaching comes with creating and implementing your own ideas and programs, instead of having them imposed from above. Not all teachers are this way, though, and many teachers do fine with programs handed to them, even relishing those programs and making them work.
   But, for the teacher who does develop quality methods and programs of their own, get out of their way. It is a principle of leadership that if you have someone who will take a program and use their own initiative and ideas to excel, let them. Don't stand in their way by micromanaging.
   So it is with education. If you run into a teacher with good ideas of their own, give them the ball and let them run with it. If you know the teacher will do well, let them opt out of Common Core if they think it stands in their way.
   So, rather than opting out as a state, or a school district, I think I'd leave the decision with the teacher.

Monday, March 24, 2014

These Days of Economic Turmoil Give Pause to What We Should Do

   Ours is an age of great economic turmoil. It is a day of giant government chess moves and intervention with enormous bailouts, unprecedented federal spending, and nerve-tightening brinkmanship with whether to pay our debts.
   The financial crisis of 2007-2008 is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. But, economic turmoil did not end there. The U.S.'s credit rating has been downgraded for the first time in history. The federal deficit has skyrocketed.
   These days are your days, and these days are mine. What solutions would we give to the economy?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Battle Won With the Words from Their Mothers

   They have come to be known as the Stripling Warriors. And, it the annuals of war, some will say  theirs is among the most striking of victories, for not a one of them died. Nay, nary a one. 
   Helaman, he was their captain. But, this is a story more about how their  mothers led them than how Helaman led them. Let us start not at the beginning of the story, but in the middle, where they were confronted with the prospect of going to battle and the possibility of being slaughtered. Well, they chose to fight, saying, their mothers had taught them that if they did not doubt, the Lord would deliver them. They rehearsed the words of their mothers to Helaman, and said, "We do not doubt that our mothers knew it."
   Now we shall turn back to the beginning of our story. We shall tell you how there was a people, called the people of Ammon, who had covenanted not to take up weapons of war. They had been converted to the gospel, and laid down their weapons of war. They left the people they were part of, and went to live with a people who were enemies to that people.
   These were the Lamanites and the Nephites. The people of Ammon fled the one, and joined the other. Then, when the Lamanites came upon the Nephites to war, the Nephites were obliged to fight the war alone, without the help of the People of Ammon, due to their covenant not to fight.
   That is, until the 2000 Stripling Warriors enter our story.
   It being the parents who had made the covenant not to fight, the sons were not so bound. So, they took up arms in defense of their country. Led by Helaman, they made their way to the city of Judea. There, they tossed in with the army of Antipus. The Lamanite warriors in that part of the land controlled a number of cities, with a large number of them at Antiparah.
   As the Lamanites saw the Nephites gaining strength, what with the 2000 Stripling Warriors and then provisions sent from the parents of those 2000 Stripling Warriors, and then with 2000 more men sent from the land of Zarahemla, these Lamanites were getting nervous. 
    And, the Nephites saw that this nervousness might help entice the Lamanites out of their strongholds so they could fight them.
   Helaman's little band was sent as a lure, sent to pass by the city of Antiparah as if they were delivering provisions to another city. The Lamanites took the bait, came out to pursue the Lamanites, and the chase was on. In front, the 2000 Stripling Warriors, few enough in number that mathematically, the Lamanites should defeat them. Chasing them, the Lamanites. And, chasing the Lamanites, Antipus with his warriors.
   The chase continued through the day until night-time, when they paused for sleep, only to resume the chase the next day. And, the chase continued all the next day, with no one catching the other, so it was interrupted by camping for another night.  Again, the chase continued that next morning.
   But not for long.
   Helaman's little troop could tell the Lamanites had halted. What to do, then. Should they continue a head and escape? Or, should they turn about and pursue the Lamanites, as perhaps Antipus and the Lamanites were battling?
   Helaman left the decision in the hands of his young warriors. "What say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?" he asked.
   "Father," they replied, "Behold, our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall."
   They had never fought in all their lives, yet they backed not down against the moment. They did not fear death. Says the record from Helaman, "They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."
   Helaman's 2000 Stripling Warriors turned and fought. They entered the fray as the forces of Antipus were about to fall before the Lamanites. The 2000 Stripling warriors hit the Lamanites with such force, that the Lamanites turned their whole force upon the Helaman's little force, which gave Antipus's force pause to regroup and come upon the rear of the Lamanites. With the Stripling Warriors on one side, and the forces of Antipus on the other, the Lamanites were surrounded, and forced to surrender. And, thus ended the battle.
    When the dead were counted, not a one of the 2000 Stripling Warriors were among them.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Undercover Cops are not Immune to Bad Influences

   I shake my head that there should be such a law, allowing undercover cops to have sex with prostitutes (see link below). Of course, it is wrong. Then, I consider drugs, and how some undercover police officers might take them. That is wrong, too.
   Some would argue that such undercover work is necessary. I would wonder. But, more than whether such police work has benefits, I wonder about its affect on the police officers. I do believe it affects who they are, what their character is, and their sense of right and wrong. If participating in such activities affects the rest of us negatively, it surely affects police officers, as well. Of all institutions we have, I am not sure of any where it is more important to have high character.
   If there is benefit to such undercover work, I believe it should be weighed against the cost. And, I wonder if endangering the character of police officers is too high a price to pay.

Friday, March 21, 2014

On Abortion and Two Things I do Not Understand

   These are things I do not understand: 
   One, Why more states do not pass laws declaring the unborn to be living. Harry Blackmun, writing in the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, suggested that if the state had established the life of the unborn, if Texas had declared that "personhood" exists before birth, Roe's case would have collapsed.
   We speak of Roe v. Wade. We speak of the the famous law, now 41 years old, that made abortion legal. Blackmun's words indicate that if a state adopts such a law, then a case coming out of that state should not not go against the unborn.
   I do not know if any state has such a law. Any. Forty-one years after Roe v. Wade. I hear one news report say seven states have passed such laws, only to see them overturned. I see another story of a court ruling against a bill before it became law. I don't know what the real count is. But, I would not be surprised to know no state has such a law.
   The second thing I do not understand is how a court could overturn such a law. Why would a law declaring a fetus to be a person be illegal?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Spurn the Democrats and Run as a Republican

   Today, hours before the filing deadline, I decided to run as a Republican (for Utah House District 44), as I think it gives me a better chance of overcoming the money concern. This district leans to the Democrats, so for the past two days since the Democratic caucus,  I had determined to run on that party. Here's why I changed my mind: The person who has filed as a Democrat is as economically disadvantaged as I (her husband works in a shop, an honorable job, but not a one to make a person wealthy, so I assume she will not have greater personal resources than I).  As the moment to register came, I realized that if I can win in convention as a Republican, I will not face an opponent with as much money in the general election.
   After registering, I headed for the gym, thinking to get a good quick workout before the caucus meeting. As I drove down the I-15, I spotted steam surging out from under the hood of my newly purchased car. I headed for a garage, and was told I probably blew a gasket and would need the engine replaced. Leaving the car at Pep Boys, I called for a ride to get me to the caucus meeting. I found a friend to pick me up but his car also overheated, and it, too, broke down before we got there. I walked a titch and -- being so late that every minute counted -- hitched a ride the last couple blocks. 
   I arrived just as they were to elect the precinct chair. When no one offered to fill the spot, I said I would. Someone questioned whether that would be a conflict of interest since I was running for office and they sent someone down the hall to see if it was legal, and it came back that it was. They then asked to see my credentials as a Republican. I hadn't asked for it, but the clerk's office had issued me a special certificate. Wished I would have brought it. Anyway, they declared me the chair, as no one had offered to run. About as quick as all that, though, a man named Russell asked if it was too late to run, and Shalene, the current chair, said it wasn't. They passed out ballots, and I lost. I am guessing it is because I said I had been a Democrat at times.  I probably should understand they didn't cotton to having a half-Republican running their precinct, nor running for office under the banner of their party.
   As you may know, one of the reasons for the Count My Vote initiative, one of the reasons some oppose the caucus-convention system, is that they perceive those at the extreme ends of the political spectrum gain control. I should have been paying closer attention to which office Ron, a friend of mine, ran for, but in his speech he said two years ago they had made a difference by requiring candidates to support the party platform. I wasn't listening as close as I should have, but the idea was that you should support the party platform right down the line or not even be allowed to run as a Republican. Whatever position he was elected to has something to do with that, I guess.
   I wonder if on none other issues, immigration would divide me and many others if the rule of the platform is applied.
   There is one Democrat running for House 44, and three of us Republicans. I saw signage or polished-looking posters for one of the three being put in a car as we pulled out of the parking lot (I rode home with a friend), so I would guess at least one of the other two will be well financed.
    I've also been thinking about what contributions I might accept. I do not plan on accepting any from any company, nor from entities such as UEA, but I probably will decide to accept party money.
   (Two edits made 3-28-14, including adding the third to the last paragraph.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This Common Core Assignment Leaves You Scratching Your Head

   This assignment from Common Core's math program is drawing criticism. Those of us not familiar with the Common Core curriculum might be quick to judge based on just this one assignment when the rest of the lesson material might be reasonable. This assignment, though, does leave a person scratching their head. What is a "number bond"? What is a "hidden partner"? Determining what the "cube stick" is even takes a little thought.
   For that matter, what is to be learned from this assignment, supposing the student is able to cut through the jargon.

How Far Will Software Substitution Go?

   Software substitution, they call it. Computers will replace workers. Robots will reign. It almost makes me stop to ponder what jobs a robot or computer could not take over, some day. What would be the far reaches of how far it could go? Could it be each person would need to own their own business, instead of going to work for someone else, because everyone would have computers doing the work, instead of people?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Government Should Not Enforce Extorionate Rates

   I attended the Democrats' caucus tonight, and rose and spoke when they ask if there were other candidates. I haven't yet decided which party I'll run on (for Utah House District 44), and said as much, but probably shot myself in the foot by saying I might be a better fit for the Republican Party, due to my views on such things as abortion.
   Christine Passey, who was among those who campaigned hard for passage of the autism bill, has filed. She seems a very nice, maybe even wonderful person. Not expecting to speak, but having studied the autism issue to where I have an opinion on it, and as it was the topic of the moment, I spoke on that, and probably further shot myself in the foot in doing so, since the new legislation has so much support and I oppose the bill.
   Autism therapy can cost $150 per session. And many, many sessions pile up as treatment is ongoing through the years. I try to remember what I have read, and believe some families have paid out as much as a half million on therapy for their children.
   I do favor therapy for those with autism. I do believe every autistic child should be able to receive the therapy.
   What I don't believe is that it needs to cost so much.
   I'd target people willing to work for less, telling them they will be paid $30 an hour. Then, give them all the instructional material they need to learn. Their training will be complete when they pass tests showing they know everything that goes into conducting a good session and when they have observed sessions by someone already licensed and when they have been monitored and critiqued as they conduct a couple of sessions on their own. If the training takes only six months, so be it. If it takes longer, so be it. If a person knows everything it takes to conduct a session, why would we say they they are not qualified? If the current system is producing clinicians who command $150 an hour, then go this route and reduce the cost.
   I believe we should provide the same quality care now being provided. But, no, I do not believe it has to cost $150 per session. If the autism therapy profession is charging an extortionate amount, why should government put a gun to the head of the insurance companies and force them to pay it? We need to look for ways to reduce our medical costs, not enforce and mandate high rates with government.
   A lady came up to me later in the meeting, and told me it was an insult to the professionals to say they should only receive $20 an hour (I had said, "$20 an hour or however much" when I spoke, but after thinking it through, see they would need $30). I thanked her for her thought and hope I was respectful of her. I thought much later, after the meeting, though, that it is an insult to those with autism to say you will care for them only if they will make you rich.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Let the People of Crimea Decide -- But Without Russia's Military Presence

   Let's discuss Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia, and the referendum that is giving license for Crimea to rejoin Russia. Off the top, I'd say tell Russia we'll live with a vote. If the people do want to return to Russia, so be it. And, since they have spoken so seemingly roundly in the referendum, there is a good chance this offer would lead to Russia indeed taking over Crimea.
   Well, then, let's respect democracy. Let's respect the people's choice.
   But, I'd tell Russia it must not be involved in the election. It must pull all its troops out, not have any presence there. And, it must promise to live by the outcome. If Crimea chooses not to go with Russia, Russia must not set another foot there.
   I'd place three choices on the ballot. First, Do you favor returning to Ukraine. Second, Do you favor returning to Russia. Third, Do you favor independence, with Crimea becoming an independent state. Three days after that election, I'd take the top two choices and hold a second election between them.
   The U.N. or some neutral party would conduct the election.

Sugar: 'An Addiction as Serious as the Smoking Problem'

   You will remember how I blogged on the Great Sugar Awakening, wondering if society is waking to the dangers of sugar?  Well, comes a letter to the editor (Deseret News) calling Sugar, "an addiction as serious as the smoking problem."
   Heather Reid of Santaquin wrote the letter, and I thank her for her thoughts.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Finest Education Means the Finest Tools for Education

   I haven't seen it in the paper, but I have heard displeasure that Becky Lockhart's husband, Stan, is a lobbyist for the computer industry. Lockhart, speaker of the Utah House, had proposed that students be equipped with computers. The proposal would have cost, what, $200 million to $300 million?
   I came home after hearing Stan Lockhart was a lobbyist. Looked it up. He may have had other lobbyist positions, but I found that he has been a government affairs specialist for Micron, a company that makes semiconductors.
   I'm doubting Micron would directly benefit from the students being given computers. I'm doubting Stan approached his wife from his lobbyist position. But, perhaps his respect for computers did contribute to his wife's wanting to put a computer in each student's hands.
   From what I know of the situation, not sure any wrong was done.
    So, while we're on the topic, what do I think of investing so much money to high-tech the students? The Internet contains so much knowledge, it is a learning tool we must use. It is also a tool that can often be abused, the students getting past firewalls to download apps they don't need and using the computers as toys and entertainment centers at taxpayers' expense.
   And, we would have to establish precautions against the computers walking away, being stolen by the students.
   Keeping the computers at school provides a partial check against misuse, but not a full one. Still, I do see wisdom in having classrooms equipped with computers. The teachers' monitoring of them to stop abuse would not fully stop abuse, but I still think the benefit of all the knowledge on the Internet should be utilized. I don't think the computer needs to be sitting on the student's desk all the time, but it should be available when the teacher wants the student to be using it.
   Actually, I'm a little surprised our schools are not already so equipped. Are they not?  I've no children, so I don't get feedback from children as to what our schools do have.
   But, as to whether we should have them, the finest education means the finest tools for education. Of course we should aspire to this.

Friday, March 14, 2014

How the Violence is Spun Affects the Mind of the Person Watching it

   Tonight, I watched an old 2007 video of U.S. forces attacking civilians, slaughtering them. I was horrified.
   I thought how it is said that we become calloused by watching violence, how the trail of violence seen on television and in the movies leads to violence in our land. Well, I thought, No matter how many times I see this video, I am only going to be horrified. It is not going to lead me to commit such a crime, only to hate and abhor such a things.
    It occurred to me then that it is not so much the viewing of violence over and over that negatively influences us, but the emotions that we come to associate with the violence. Today's movies are spun so that the viewer revels in what he sees and has an emotional high. Perhaps it is the creation of that feeling within the viewer by the entertainment industry that is dangerous. I think of the video games, and how they create an association of excitement to go with killing. And, the movies, of course, do the same.
   Therein lies the danger.
   Watching such videos as I saw tonight, elicits feelings of horror, not excitement. Therefore, perhaps, such videos might actually have good influence upon a person, as the feeling of horror, not excitement, becomes associated with the violence.

Neither Should a Woman Use Her Superior Force Upon Her Unborn

Perhaps Lawrence Lockman would have been wiser to state it differently. Perhaps, he could have said, "Neither should a man use his superior force upon a woman, to rape her, nor should a woman use her superior force upon her unborn, to abort it. For as one is wrong, so is the other." I wonder if stating it that way would invite less ridicule. When I saw this meme posted, the person posting it gave it as an example of stupidity.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Perhaps There is a Better Way to Cover Autism Than SB57

   With a bill having passed both houses of Utah's legislature to require insurance companies to cover autism treatment, I wonder if this is a wrong move.
   Is the biggest reason insurance companies do not cover it because it is so expensive? Is it true one session might cost $150, and the treatments are ongoing for years and years? I wonder if the autism treatment industry has established a cost that is unnecessarily high, and now the government is coming along and telling the insurance companies to pay up even if it is too much. In a day and age when we see health care bills as something that needs to be reduced, are we going the opposite direction here? Instead of requiring insurance to pay an unreasonable fee, wouldn't it make more sense to require the treatment providers to lower their fees?
   Make this clear: I do believe treatment should be covered by insurance. I do not believe those with autism should be without coverage. If there is no other way, go ahead and make this SB57 the law in our state.
   But, I do believe there are other ways. I blogged on what I would do eight days ago. Here's the link:

This Meme Offers a Thought on Abortion

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Throw a Party for John Swallow

    What if we expected ourselves, the electorate, to act like Christians in the way we treat our politicians?
   I'm serious here, so step up and hear me. Let's talk about John Swallow. I think we should throw him a party. Or, maybe we could all bring banners and signs saying, "We love you, John Swallow," to the park and march around until the news shows up, so he would see us on the 10 O'clock and know we love him. Or, maybe, instead of letting the news carry the message, just carry the signs in front of his home for an hour or so. I worry that might be invading his privacy, but being it is a show of love, maybe he wouldn't mind. What do you think, should we do it?
   Remember, I said I'm serious.
   Look at it this way: You can't help but look at all the humiliation he is going through and not feel sorry for him. You don't have to like what he has done. You don't have to condone it. But, surely you feel for him, just the same.
   So, Christians, what will you do? What would a Christian do? I'm thinking a Christian forgives. I'm thinking a Christian shows love towards all, as in everyone. And, well, that includes wayward politicians.
   The idea of throwing a party for someone who has misbehaved might seem a little off-kilter, but actually the Good Book tells a story in which that is exactly what was done. You've heard of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, haven't you? The father had a wayward son who had been living riotously, and what did the father do? He threw him a party.
   I suppose you can call me a hypocrite for calling for a party for John Swallow, and not taking the time to actually organize it and do it. Yes, it is highly unlikley to happen. But, I wish it would.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who Would have let Miss Pennyslvania Live?

   Who would have let Miss Pennsylvania live? Valerie Gatto was conceived from a rape. Even most who oppose abortion do not say those conceived in rapes should not be aborted.

Of Crayons and Coloring Books and Our Election System

   We have a voting-made-easy system. Voting made easy requires only that you pick between being a conservative and a liberal, without even necessarily studying the issues. It's kind of like picking your favorite color: just pick one. Then, learn enough to choose which of the candidates fits better in that broad box you've selected.
   Voting made simple. It's fun. Simply pick your color -- blue or red -- then take a paint brush and paint each candidate blue or red. Whatever candidate has the color matching your own, is the candidate you vote for.
    Easy, easy, easy. It's as easy as coloring in a coloring book.

Of This Hunger Strike at a Tacoma Immigrant Prison Camp

   Don't know if this hunger strike is over, or if it continues, but I wish we could talk to the prisoners. The are asking for better conditions and an end to their deportations.
   Now, off hand, what do you expect? You come into the U.S. illegally, you are going to get sent home. That they would be protesting their deportations indicates they feel they have the right to live in America, even though the don't have the welcome of the people already here nnor the permission of the government here.
   That they are protesting their treatment indicates what? That they are being treated worse than normal prisoners are? Or that normal treatment of prisoners is less than the way they feel they deserve? Are they simply demanding the dignity afforded the average person?
  The issue of these prisoners prompts me to consider what a proper title is for these deportation jails. Immigrant prisons? Immigrant concentatration camps? That might be a little much, as to be a concentration camp, it must have harsh conditions. Political prisoner camps? It probably is a stretch to call them political prisoners. But, I wonder, and will give it more thought.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Banks Can Force Heirs into Loans More Favorable to Themselves

   So, if a heir wants to assume payments on a mortgage, the bank can refuse them, insisting that the mortgage be rewritten so they can make more money than what was made off the old mortgage? This is not right, just, nor fair. It is predatory.
   I signed this petition.

Who Will We Call Uninformed, Uneducated Voters?

   Who are we to call uninformed, uneducated voters? Who will it be? Will it be the ones who do not study the candidates? My friends, perhaps the uniformed voters are more so those who do not study the issues. If they study the candidates just enough to know how they stand on a few key issues, they will say they are informed and have studied the candidates. But, if they don't know the issues to begin with, what difference does it make that they know the candidates' stand on those issues?


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Consider the Story of Francois Verny

   If a person declares something to us, gives his witness, sometimes we would be wise to listen, to at least consider if what he is saying is true.
    So, we might turn to the story of Francois Verny. Recovering from a surgery, he was lonely, and he prayed a lot. As it was, he happened upon the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and watched videos of these LDS people. "Videos full of happy, friendly faces," he says. "I thought it was incredible to see all those people with the smiles on their faces, who seemed simply happy, lovely and devoted -- so devoted. So I ask the Lord to bless me that I might meet those people I saw on the Internet and to find this church."
    When Francois left for lunch at noon, he walked of his office to see 25 LDS missionaries. "It was incredible, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was really them with their little plaque on the side."
   The missionaries shouted, "bonjour" (hello), and Francois was amazed that though they didn't even know him, they were so friendly, saying "hello" with joy and enthusiasm.
   As I watched the video of Francois's story, I thought of the scripture in Habakkuk 1:5, which says, "Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you."
   So, "ye heathen" (you non-believers), you would be wise to "regard" (consider) if what Francois says is true, and if it can offer direction for your own life. Perhaps you will consider Verny's story, and after much thought, decide it is not enough to warrant believing in the "Mormon" church. But, his story is surely worthy of your consideration.
   You can despise this church headquartered in Utah. You can find faults with it. But, is it true, anyway, regardless your ill feelings toward it? Consider that some suggest that when the scriptures refer to "your day," they sometimes are referring to the last days. And, read this verse, Acts 13:41. It says the same thing that the Lord said in Habakkuk, except it came after the life of Christ instead of before.
   "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Leaders Should Not be Bought and Sold

   What if a public official accepted money -- campaign funding, I suppose -- and used it to fight for the defeat of another elected official?
   No big deal, perhaps.
   But, what if the person he was fighting to remove from office was working on legislation against the payday loan industry? And, what if the official accepting money was accepting it from the payday loan industry? Now we have the outcome of legislation being affected by who can buy a result by giving money to someone who is running for office.
   Brad Daw, a Utah legislator, was the one crafting legislation to restrict payday lenders. John Swallow, a candidate for office, was the one accepting money that was funneled towards attack ads against Daw.
   We then have an interesting question: Is it right for a public official or someone aspiring to be a public official to accept money when that money is intended to influence the outcome of legislation?
   I don't think it is. Our leaders should not be bought and sold on issues. They should not be accepting money that clearly is being given to affect legislation. Those running for office should not be placed in the position of knowing that once they are elected, their position will expected to be used to benefit someone who has given them money.
   We love our American political system, and it is great. But, I tell you, it has a major flaw.

Forensic Science International Article Cites Two Cases Of Death by Pot

   Speaking of marijuana: ". . . Most importantly, it’s never, ever been associated with death. That is, until now," so says a Boston Magazine article this week, reporting on an article in Forensic Science International.
   The FSI article suggests there is such a thing as death by marijuana, citing two case studies.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Death by Marijuana, Can it Happen?

   It is said that no one has ever died from marijuana. No one.
   I wonder how that is possible, though, if there is a fivefold increase in the chances of a heart attack, as is reported in this study (see link below) from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. I do not know if this study is accurate. I do wonder whether a proper conclusion was drawn.
   But, I also have to believe that Dr. Murray Mittleman and his colleagues, being scholars, probably had reason for coming to the conclusion that smoking pot increases the chances of a heart attack fivefold.
   So, are these deaths being written off as being caused by heart attacks, as if marijuana had nothing to do with them?
   Yes, some would say the heart attack is the killer, not the marijuana. But, that doesn't wash, for me. If two men were shot while walking down a street, one of them being old and the other young, and they were both shot in the same spot in the gut, and the old man died because he was more prone to death, and the young man lived, would we say the old-man's death wasn't caused by him being shot, it was caused by him being old? We could point to the fact that the young man lived, and say the old man was surely already predisposed to death, so the gunshot wasn't the cause of his demise.
   It makes as much sense to let the shooter of the old man off of murder charges as it does to let marijuana off scot-free for those with heart conditions who die after taking marijuana. This is not to say I am convinced the Harvard study is accurate. But, if it is, then we must believe there is such a thing as death by marijuana.
(Parts of this blog rewritten 3/9/14)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Four Plans, and Mine -- Which Would be Unpopular -- Makes Five

   Four plans on the table for poverty insurance in Utah. I'll add a fifth plan, and it'll be the most unpopular of the bunch.
   First there is medicaid expansion. Second, there is House Speaker Becky Lockhart's proposal to reject federal medicaid expansion money and do what we can on our own. Third, there is Gov. Gary Herbert's plan to get federal assistance for a private industry plan. Fourth, there is Sen. Brian Shiowaza's plan, which I believe is similiar to the governor's.
   I've liked Lockhart's plan, for the reason that the money to pay for Medicaid expansion would end up contributing to the national deficit, and to me, that is a major concern. Trouble with Lockhart's proposal, it wouldn't cover but a fraction (I think it's like a tenth) of those that the Medicaid expansion plan would.
   I heard a friend tell me tonight about how he is headed to a funeral tomorrow, for the wife of a man who lost his job and couldn't afford insurance. So, she didn't see the doctor, and ended up with stage 4 cancer before it was discovered.
   Yes, I believe we should provide a way for everyone to have health care.
   So, what's the answer? What do you do if you want everyone to have health care, but you don't want to run up the national deficit?
    You take Lockhart's proposal and amp it up to the extreme. If you take federal money, it will end up contributing to the national deficit. So, don't take it. Instead, fund the insurance out of your own pocket, even though it means leaving millions of "free" federal money on the table.
    But, dig deep enough to cover everyone who needs to be covered. If the program needs to be 10 times bigger, make it 10 times bigger.
    And, raise taxes to pay for it.
   See, I told you my idea would be the most unpopular of all.
   I will only say that if a bill has to be paid, you pay it. You don't borrow. And, if a service is necessary, you provide it.
   I think about paring this with Gov. Herbert's suggestion that we have private enterprise administer the money. I love private enterprise. But, I don't like the idea of government money paying the way for private companies. If it is to be state money, allow, then, that it will be a state-operated program.
  There are two things we should do, going along with this. One, provide a way for those who receive the Utah insurance to work for what they get, or to provide some work. Two, work like the dickens to reduce the high cost of health care. I am not convinced health care has to be this expensive.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reduce Autism Therapy to $20 an Hour

   If you want to reduce the high cost of health care, start with autism therapy. Why, tell me why, does it cost up to $150 per session?
   And, tell me why we shouldn't be able to drastically slash that price.
   To me, it sure seems this is something we should be able to fix. To me, it seems we ought to be able to go out and recruit people, telling them we are going to pay them $20 an hour (I don't know how long a session is, to know if one hour equals one session) and then train them. I read where these therapists are "highly trained," which suggests they have spent a lot of time in college.
   I say, don't require them to have a medical degree, of that nature, anyway. Have them test off on everything needed to be done to conduct a autism therapy session. Have them attend sessions as observers, and then being observed by those already in the field, then grant them their degrees. I do not know if it will take them a week to learn and two weeks for the observing, or if it will take a year. I only say, let how long it takes be based on when they pass the testing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Medical Condition that isn't Even Covered by Insurance

    I'm not sure I've ever heard of this before: A medical condition that isn't even covered by insurance. Autism isn't covered by most, and perhaps none of Utah's insurers. Would be worthy to call them all up and see if any cover it.
   So, along comes SB57 to require insurance companies to cover autism treatment. Now, I've got to decide if I favor the legislation. Well, I want to decide, that is. Don't have to.
   My guess as to why insurance companies don't cover it, is that it is too expensive on them. Autism therapy can cost $150 a session. That could stack up, especially since autism is an on-going condition, not something you get for a month and then its gone. I understand, though, that spread across all payers, premiums would only go up about 15 cents. That sounds worth it, for how much the treatment benefits those with autism.
   One thing I'd like to know, is why the treatments are so expensive. Seems like they should be much less. I do wonder if simply encouraging more providers of treatment to enter the market would be an answer. Then, insurers would provide the coverage without being required to do so.
   Time for bed, though, so no time to discover what the treatments even consist of.

Monday, March 3, 2014

California, Here We Come, Chasing Your Air Quality Standards

   California, here we come! Today -- if I'm reading the news correctly -- the nation as a whole headed off to California.
   Air Quality wise.
   We'll be there by 2017. The news blurb on the Environmental Protection Agency's website says the agency  "finalizes" Tier 3 standards. I think "finalizes" means this is no longer just an idea. It is becoming the law of the land.
    If so -- while I think Tier 3 standards are a good thing -- I wonder at how they have come about. It seems kind of like it is by presidential decree, only with the agency doing it instead of the president. I guess an executive order, of sorts, can come from any part of the executive government, not just from th president, himself.  If "finalizes" means it is being made the law, I wish Congress were the party making the mandate. But, for all I know, Congress already signed over on this one. Perhaps a law governing EPA authorizes them to set air quality standards.
  The key thing you need to know about Tier 3 is, nitrogen oxides and certain other pollutants will be reduced by 80 percent. Some have suggested it is a little like taking four out of five cars off the road, pollution-wise. I haven't caught up with which pollutants aren't part of the 80 percent reduction to know if I'd agree to the notion it compares to four of five cars coming off the road. But obviously, for certain pollutants, it is correct.
   That's a pretty big bite being taken out of pollution.
   Car factories will need to be retooled. Some suggest new car prices will increase by a few thousand dollar. Gasoline refineries will need to be refitted, pushing gas prices slightly up, some say not more than 6-9 percent, and others say it is only like 1 percent. There is a cost involved here, but I think it is a cost worth paying.
   Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorsed Tier 3 standards last summer. Utah Rep. Patrice Arent has introduced a joint resolution, HJR23, calling for Tier 3 standards in Utah. Some have suggested Utah shouldn't jump ahead of the nation, as it would be problematic.
   Speaking of timeliness, the Deseret News editorialized in favor of Utah adopting Tier 3 standards just yesterday.
   The Tier 3 standards are patterned after California's Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) III program.!OpenDocument

Sunday, March 2, 2014

We Owe Charity to Those of Same-Sex Affection

   Going along with what I just posted, I think the following: It would be wonderful if Utah were the most loving of states toward those of same-sex affection, if no place in the country treated them better.
   After all, this is charity, loving people unconditionally. Charity is the pure love of Christ and the LDS who make up much of Utah consider themselves the people of Christ. Others in this state also consider themselves the people of Christ.
   So, let us love those of same sex affection. This doesn't mean we have to give them marriage rights, perhaps, nor to think, say or suppose that what they do is right. But, it does mean we exude love, and care and desire happiness and for good fortune toward those of same sex. It means we should smile with joy when we greet them, being genuinely happy to converse with them. It means we should accept them. It means we should make them comfortable.
    This is charity. And, if we have not charity, we are nothing.

The Most-Important Scripture is 1 Corinthians 13

   The most important scripture in all of the holy writ (tongue in cheek) is 1 Corinthians 13. It pretty much tells you right there in that passage that it is the most important.
   It is says, Though I do this and though I do that, and though I prophecy and move mountains, and understand all the deep mysteries of the gospel, I am nothing if I have not charity. I am being a little tongue-in-cheek here. Still, all those other scriptures telling you what to do do not mean a thing if you have not charity.
   Now, I must say, if charity is so important, you might ought to take this moment to consider all over and as if for the first time just exactly what charity is. Is it giving to the poor? Is it giving to United Way? Is it donating your car to Kidney Kars? Not that those things are not charity, but the charity referred to in 1 Corinthians is just pure love without judgement. That's my assessment.
   Indeed, verse 3 says, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor . . . and have not charity, it profit me nothing."
   At this point, it would be nice to turn to an old (1992) talk from the conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, given by Elder Marvin J. Ashton. Wonderful talk. 
   "Charity is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word, Elder Ashton said. "We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more. . . .
   "Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us."
   There then, is charity. There then, is love. It is loving without judgement. It is loving unconditionally. It is important for us to be charitable in our views and assessments of others. Indeed, it is the most important thing of all.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

If We Keep the Caucuses, Give them a Redo

   To build a better bridge, this is our quest. How will we do it? How should we change our election process? I come today to suggest that if we save the caucus meetings, we should change 'em up, revamp and revitalize them. We should take what's good, and keep it, and take what's bad, and get rid of it.
  What's good, of course, is having neighbors sit down in mass meetings to discuss public issues, to have them involved in a manner beyond just taking a vote. What's good also includes the opportunity to meet the candidates. What's good might also include the opportunity for a candidate to be elected without having to spend so much money.
   I'll leave out one of the good features, and maybe address it in a separate blog.
   What's bad is getting all dressed up to go to the caucus meeting in the name of being involved, only to sign away your right to vote to a political activist, sending him or her to the convention to do the voting there instead of casting your own vote.
   What's bad is attendance. Two years ago, record attendance still only accounted for, what, half as many as those who turn out to vote?
    What's bad is the caucus-convention is a playground for political machines. They plant people at the caucuses to run as delegates for their candidates. The unassuming citizen comes along and often is so new to the process that he or she doesn't suggest a delegate, just votes for the one set forth. It becomes easy for machines to dictate who will be nominated.
   Spending? It is true that it takes a lot of money to get your name out to win a primary. Yes, only having to contact a limited number of delegates can help take away the influence of money. But, if the money is already there, if the candidate has a bucket full, already and anyway, he is still going to spend it. Instead of spending, say, $1 for vote, he can spend, say, $10 per vote. Instead of mailing fancy fliers, he can spend to take the delegate out to lunch. Now, there is a tendency to vote for the person who takes you out to lunch ahead of the person who just appeals to you with emails. Money isn't eliminated; it's enabled. The number of people you have to reach is reduced to where you can spend more on each one and have a better chance of, in a way, buying their vote, instead of just appealing to them through the media.
   Yet one more bad thing about the current C-C system. It often turns out of office those who the masses would elect. Bob Bennett was elected by the people, but it wasn't the people who turned him out of office, but the party delegates. Olene Walker fared well in public opinion polling, but was likewise turned out of office by the convention delegates. The will of the people should not be circumvented.