Thursday, December 31, 2015

What Does the Survey Show?

   We hear of a survey saying Americans hold that some religions deserve more religious freedom than others. Eighty-two percent believe religious freedoms are important to Christians, 70 percent believe they are important for Jews, 67 percent for Mormons, and 61 percent for Muslims.
   The survey comes from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
   I'm sure many, like me, see an oxymoron here, as freedom of religion is not freedom of religion unless it is extended to all religions. Would you have a law that says you cannot kill unless it is a Jew?  That might be an example that seems to go too far, but I wonder. Without getting more into what Americans feel, with a deeper survey, we are left to wonder what the AP survey really shows.
   Does, though, the survey simply unveil the bigotry existent in America? If 82 percent believe Christians deserve the freedoms, and only 61 percent believe Muslims do, does that mean 21 percent of those in our society are bigots?

Are there Ways to Hold Marketing Prices Down?

   Have about decided there is no way to put the altruistic members of the economy in charge of price setting and still have a competitive, capitalistic, free market. Rather, perhaps the efforts should be to have as few of constraints as possible on top of the product's initial provider -- as few middle men, as few managers, and perhaps even as few marketers as possible. I am thinking on that one right now. Are there ways of marketing the product without adding significantly to the price of the product?
   Note: It is 1/1/16 as I add this note to this blog. The way to hold down advertising cost, is the same as the way to hold down the cost of the product, period, and that is to provide an altruism at the at the point of marketing. If the marketer has the interest at heart of the person with the product, he will not charge too much.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How to Implement Altruism into a Competitive Economy Eluding Me

   The altruistic economy, placing those who seeking service as the price-makers. I have no more thoughts tonight on how to implement it into the free market economy. But will go to bed thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Encourage an Altruistic Economy, and the Economy will be a Better one

   Once wrote, saying I "could have been a contender" in economics. That was mostly joking, but I do think some of my ideas on economics are worthy.
   Tonight, I arrived at another theory, a new principle.
   Generally, do not place those seeking to profit off the product in position to set the price for it. Instead, the price should be set by those who have more altruistic objectives. If they are looking to serve the world, or if they are wanting just to see their product benefit someone, they are the ones you want setting the price.
   Often, the person who creates the product is the one most likely to be in the service mode. Setting him ahead of the profit-seekers, keeps the price down, as he will be more inclined to set a low price.
   How to implement this principle? It occurs to me that seeking small businessmen is one key way.
   The benefits? Distribution of wealth is one.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Free the Doctor

   The doctor and his bill. If we are to reduce our medical bills, one thing should be to place the doctor at the head of his organization. Instead of working for someone, make him the man in charge.
   And, the person who sets the price.
   Don't let the insurance companies dictate the cost. Don't let a corporation. Let each doctor set his own rates. I wonder if perhaps the free market system sometimes works best when individuals set their own prices, instead of having someone dictate to them what those prices will be.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Don't Just Negotiate Peace, Negotiate Goodwill

   I  like the house editorial in the Deseret News today. The writer takes the Christmastime phrase, "Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men,"and suggests it is goodwill that brings peace on earth.
   That strikes a chord with me. I like it and I agree. And, if it is a true principle, then I wonder why we shouldn't use it more in peace negotiations. I wonder if part of the process shouldn't be to get the two parties to thinking well of each other. Maybe before you even negotiate who will give up what and which party will do what, you get them to saying and meaning nice things about each other.
   It might sound a little much, but how about the old game, where you have to say 10 or so nice things about the other person? I'd say, try it in international negotiations. Pull the Palestinians and the Israelis up to the table, and tell them that before negotiations get under way, first of all there must be an acceptance and new-found love of each other. So, list 10 nice things about the other. If you can't, then negotiations will go no further.
   I'm sure some would ridicule my suggestion, but I'm still thinking it worthy.
   And, in negotiating peace, in addition to asking what it will take for them to quit shooting at each other, ask them what it will take for them to feel good about each other, to like each other, to be friends. Make that a goal of the negotiations.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

In the Name of Humanity, let the Children in

   It seems it would be news if just one such child migrated on his own. Jon Smith Figueroa Acosta, age 6, traversed 2,000 miles from Honduras without his parents.
  "Estoy solo" (meaning, "I'm alone"), he told Seth Robbins, reporter for the Associated Press. 
   As a new wave of child immigrants flood the borders, we again reflect on the marvel of children braving the elements and hardships on their own in order to reach America. They come not with parents, but often to join parents.
   Should we reject them, or throw our arms around them? I think of Luis Arias Dubon, 15, who said he left Honduras because he was threatened by the 18th Street gang. Do we question that story, wondering if he just made it up to gain our sympathy? Or, do we say, "Whatever your reason, you are welcome."
   I am with those who suggest we should let the children in. I am with those who marvel at their coming on their own. If there is any law that prohibits them, or deports them back, why should we not remove it? To me, you care for the children. You let them in. And, you invite them to come accompanied by adults in your new law, lest you encourage them to travel alone.
   You rush to make this law, in my view. If you are a member of Congress, you plead with your fellow Congress members to show mercy for the children. If you have opposed loosening immigration laws, you cry, "Uncle" and say you cannot bear to see the children suffer this way.
   A civilized society, a humane people, a Christian nation must surely see that it must accept these children. It must be embarrassed if any law stands in their way.
   I pause, and consider the situation in Israel, where children have attacked the Israelis. Yes, I wonder but what they were put up to doing such acts, knowing that there would be a cry out if they were arrested. I wonder, then, if the children coming from Central America are also being put up to the act. I do not know. I say let them in, anyway. If they commit a crime of harm, punish them for it. But, if the only harm is that they arrive without our invitation, without our permission, let them in.
   Paul McCartney sang a song, saying, "Someone's knocking at the door. Someone's ringing the bell. Do me a favor, and let 'em in." I've never thought of it as a children's song, but maybe it is. Until now, I've never supposed he was talking about children, but maybe he was.

May BYU's Hires Turn Out Well, but I am Wary

   Bless the BYU Cougars, and here's hoping they do well under their new coaches. I do give pause, though, wondering at whether there shouldn't be some concern that new head coach Kalani Sitake is coming off a year as defensive coordinator at Oregon State in which the defense gave up at least 50 points four times, including the last three games of the season. And, there were three other games where they gave up 40 points. That's seven games when you give up 40 or more points.
   For that, you are rewarded with a head coaching job? For that, you bring with you your linebackers coach, Ilaisa Tuiaki, and make him your defensive coordinator?
   Bless them, I hope they both do well, for I am a BYU fan.
   But, I'm a little wary.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Are We a Nation that Hates Our Leaders, and is that Healthy?

   I read a post about how more than one in four Americans think of their government as the enemy. I try to look it up, and can't find it, but find a survey showing only 19 percent feel they can trust their government always or most of the time.
   The words of a song drift through my head, the thought in it coming from the scriptures. "You'll always reap, just what you sow." And, I think of how there seems to be hardly anyone who does not verbally tear down the government, saying they don't trust politicians, etc. And, I think of the adage, plant a thought, reap an action. And, I think of my own belief, that if we verbalize something ourselves, we are more likely to believe it than if it comes from any other source.
   And, I lament.
   I am an American. I believe in America, the same as most everyone does. But, I must differ with many on what patriotism includes. I see it as more than just loving and ascribing to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. To me, patriotism has something to do with the present, with loving our current country.
   With respecting our government in the here and now.
    I think of the constant barrage of hatred we extend our government. I think our all the snide comments about politicians. I think, yes, judging from how we speak ill of politicians (read: government), it is surprising that even 19 percent of us feel we can trust our government always or most of the time. And, I think, no, I shouldn't be surprised that more than one in four feels the government is the enemy.
   I wonder what I could do to help stop the tide. I wonder what I should say, the next time someone suggests politicians can't be trusted.
  "They're people, just like you and I -- no worse."
  "These politicians also do us a world of good, most everyone of them."
  "Well, at least we're lucky to live in a country where the politicians are generally good. In some countries, they're not. I'm grateful we have the politicians we have."
   I wonder but what I should prepare an answer for the next time someone gets mad at government for threatening a shutdown, or making us pay taxes.
   Or running up the national debt. I, myself, have ridden the government hard on that one. Should I? I can verbalize my displeasure with running up the national debt, but perhaps I should include a sentiment of understanding. Perhaps I should allow they are faced with understandable pressures.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

If it Were a Child Shooter, Would We Arm the Other Children?

 I think of children, and how we usually do not let them have weapons. Supposing we did. Supposing we taught each child to carry a knife or a gun or some kind of a weapon. After all, the playground can be a dangerous place. There are haters. A child has to be prepared to defend himself (or herself).
   Things being no different than they are now, we can see we shouldn't do that. We can if we sent our kids off to school with weapons, urging them that they were necessary for defending themselves, it would be a calamity. But, what if a few children smuggled guns in, used them, and killed a few classmates? What if it happened a few times across the country? Would many parents start arming their children, sending them off to school, guns tucked away?
   To some extent, adults are but children too old to be called children. They sometimes react the same as children. So, if a fight between two children is no more than a fight between two children -- until you give them weapons -- is it so different with adults? We can argue degree. Maybe it would be worse with children. But, the point remains, a weapon in the hands of an adult, can be a weapon in the hands of a child.
    In this, there is argument for not encouraging everyone to carry weapons with them everywhere they go. If it would be a dangerous world for children, even so is it, in fact, a dangerous world for us, as adults.
   Maybe, you will argue that if it came to it, arming children to defend themselves would be the wise and right thing to do. (I would disagree.) And, maybe the world of the adult differs from the world of the child, and we are left to figure out why.
   Still, if there are differences, there are also likenesses, and I believe we might learn from the things that are the same. If it were a child shooter, what would we do to protect the other children? This is a tender question, and the answer I offer is not quite the answer you might see coming. You might say, we ban all children from having guns in school, and think that is the answer I am driving at. But, as I said, there are differences in the worlds of children and adults. This is one. We cannot ban people from having weapons.
   But, we can quit teaching that everyone should have weapons. We can quit encouraging everyone to pack. If such a teaching would be dangerous for kids, it can also be dangerous for adults.
    Instead of arming the children, themselves, we would be more inclined to providing someone to to protect them. Even so, with the adult world, we should provide protection, instead of expecting the people to protect themselves.

Give Love the Day

Give love the day
Christmas Day
To Christ,
The Man to be called Love
The Man who embodied Love
And became it
Give Him the day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Road Rage, a Machete, and the Tendency to Violence

   I often wonder if just having a weapon can lead a person to commit a violent act. Say, a person had a machete, and carried it around while he was driving, and got upset with another driver one day, and followed the man home . . .
   Would the ways thing turned out be different because he had a machete?
   Kenneth Ross of Orem was arrested Tuesday, accused of the road rage incident described above. He is accused of slashing the face of Jason Harper.
   I would guess the person who slashed Jason Harper had violent tendencies not brought on just by carrying a machete. But, I would also guess those tendencies were enhanced when he started carrying the weapon.

Make Peace with the Singer of 'Peace Train'

   It's Christmas, which is time for peace on earth. As American society weighs its relationship with Muslims, I wish we would make peace with one Muslim, Cat Stevens, who is now known as Yusuf Islam.
   He sang one of the better songs of all time.
   "Cause out on the edge of darkness,
"There rides a peace train.
   "Oh, peace train take this country --
"Come take me home again."
   Some will never forgive him. He became a Muslim, said something that was taken as calling for the death of Salman Rushdie (author of "The Satanic Verses"), and when he was flying to America, was turned around when authorities took him for a terrorist. He had contributed to a Mid East charity that, in turn, gave to the terrorists.
   Christmas being about peace on earth, let's make peace with the man who sang "Peace Train." We should see he is not a terrorist and does not live for violence.  A few years ago, in one of his concerts, he sang, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." I would not be surprised if it was personal to him. I think he meant it, as a statement, as a plea.
   Bless him, this time of year. Though he became a Muslim, bless him. I wish we showed the spirit of our religion, this time of year, and forgave him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

For all We Know, There is Nobleness in the Bald Eagle's Characteristics

   I come to the defense of the American Bald Eagle, the national bird of the United States. Perhaps you know, or perhaps you haven't known, but there is strong argument that the bird isn't fit to represent our great nation.
   Was is Benjamin Franklin who said the Bald Eagle lacks morals?
   The thing is, the Bald Eagle steals its food from other predators. It'll swoop out of the sky and steal a fish right out of the beak of another bird, if it can.
   Oh, and the Bald Eagle backs down. Sometimes, smaller birds attack it, and it just turns and flees. Such a thing. How can we ever have a bird like this representing us?
   First, as I stand up for the Bald Eagle, I would remind you, it is one of the few monogamous members in all of the animal kingdom. Bald Eagles mate for life. Perhaps the only time they switch up, is when one of them dies. By this measurement, there may be no other member of the animal kingdom so moral as the Bald Eagle.
   Now, let's consider its stealing of food. We don't know why it does that, so we might be too quick coming to judgement. Perhaps, for all we know, it does not like to kill. It needs food, and has to get it, but prefers to take only as victims those that are already in the grasp of death. If that sounds like a stretch, I remind you the Bald Eagle displays more fidelity in its mating than most any other animal. It opens the suggestion, then, that it might just be a very moral bird.
   And, so it is with running from smaller birds when attacked. Pride would dictate you attack back. But, if you are stripped of pride, you might just say, "Forget this. I don't need to fight. If I fly away, neither one of us will be hurt, and I'll be just as well off."
   No, we don't know that that is why the Bald Eagle has been known to fly away when attacked by smaller birds. But, we don't know it isn't. I will tell you this, it would be a very noble thing, if an animal or a human were endowed with such a characteristic. Is it a trait of weakness? I only know there once walked a man on this earth who taught his followers to turn the other cheek.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Donald Trump a Reflection of the Electorate?

   He has built a powerful campaign on tearing people down. Just my opinion, but Donald Trump's popularity does not reflect well on the values we have. If we value ripping and finding fault, he's our man. I half wonder if we have developed a taste for being this kind of people through the eight years of hating Obama. And now, in timely fashion, along comes a hater candidate, and we are already conditioned to hate, and we listen to his siren. I guess it is more than just a hatred of Obama, though, that we have. We hate the other party. We hate Congress. We have developed a preoccupation for hating, so when along comes this hater candidate, we are conditioned to listen. We like what he says. He is, in a way, a reflection of the electorate, and perhaps that is one reason he is so popular.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Layers of Past, Present and Future in Our December Sacraments

   It is the most wonderful time of the year, they say. And, the time we partake of the sacrament is the most wonderful moment -- at least the most layered moment -- in terms of remembering Christ.
   December is the month of season greetings, the Christmas season, and that turns many of us to think of Christ. That's layer one.
   Sundays are the Lord's day. That is layer two.
   And, Sacrament is the moment we pause to reflect on the Savior, the moment within Sunday, which is the day within December. That is layer three.
   Three layers, then.
   And, it is neat, the focus of each of the layers. If we were living in the day of Christ, they would represent past, present and future. December is the month we think of his birth. That's past. Sunday is the time we think of whole life. That's present. And, the Sacrament is that time we think of His Death and resurrection. That's future.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

What does "A.D." Stand for, Anyway?

    A Christmas trivia question for you. Our calendar is based on the birth of Christ, it being supposed he was born 2015 years ago. The years before His birth are followed with the letters "B.C.," which stands for "Before Christ."
   What does "A.D." stand for? "After Death"? That's a respectable guess, but not a correct one. So, guess again. Or, is it "After De Birth"? That would be "A.D.B.," so you are still wrong.
   "Anno Domini" is the correct answer. That's a Medieval Latin word which means, "In the year of the Lord."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Craft it in Public, and Let Everyone's Representatives be There

   My senator, Mike Lee, emails on how the spending bill was produced behind closed doors, crafted by just a few congressional leaders. It it not just the substance of the omnibus spending bill that bothers him, but the manner in which it was crafted.
   I agree with him. The public's business should be done in the public arena. Just me, perhaps, but I'm amazed congress goes behind closed doors. It just seems it should be understood, this is not acceptable -- especially when you are considering how to spend our money.
   Our money? And we cannot even listen in on what you are doing with it?
   I also agree with Sen. Lee in that the creation of the bill should not be done just by a few, but, rather, with all congressional representatives allowed to participate. What of the adage, "Taxation without representation is tyranny"? If only some of the congressional leaders are involved, most of us are not represented.

Where the Bald Eagle Flies

   These Utahns are strange birds, each year they throw on their coats to venture out in the wilds, not to kill a deer, or an elk, or a lion or a bear . . . but, to view the bald eagle.
   Someone told them, "If you've ever seen a bald eagle soar in the wild, it's an experience that will take your breath away." So, the bald eagle being the national emblem, they turn out each year on Utah Bald Eagle Day to observe the bird for themselves, to watch it in it's glory.
   Okay. Maybe not. Maybe I make some of this up. Utahns don't exactly turn out in large masses to view the bald eagle on Bald Eagle Day -- but there is a Bald Eagle Day, and last year's event offered observances at five viewing sites scattered around the state.
   I think it's a neat idea. (Albeit, I confess that unfortunately this does not translate into saying I'll attend.) The bird, once on the endangered species list, is so common these days, that a day can be set aside, binoculars provided, and you can come see the eagle soaring the skies in all its glory.
   Last year, it was Feb. 14. Don't know if a date has yet been set for 2016.
   I say, build on the event. In addition to the live viewings, show videos of the bird soaring, diving and scavenging. Let attendees debate on whether the bald eagle should be the national bird. Have a couple eagles that live in captivity there for up-close viewings. Call it the Utah Bald Eagle Festival, and make it as entertaining as possible.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Of Plea Bargaining, at Least Some of it's Wrong

   I wonder at plea bargaining. I wonder. If a person is guilty, why should he not be tried? I even wonder about those who turn state's evidence. Should we let them? Or, should we simply strive to make them hostile witnesses? Should we say, No, we are not going to let you off the hook for testifying against someone else. You'll answer for your own crimes, then, if you are not honest in court when you testify about someone else's offenses, we'll come after you for perjury.
  I wonder about times when the victim does not choose to press charges. Should we let that happen? Or, should we say, A crime has been committed, and we have an obligation to seek justice and not let the person off the hook.
   These are things I wonder about. I'm not settled on a opinion on some of the matters. Others, I am. Sometimes, I think what we do it wrong.

I Beat the Drum for the Sixth Amendment

   Beat the drum, with the call for Second Amendment rights, but let it go silent on the Sixth.
  The Sixth Amendment speaks of "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury." I seldom, if ever, hear anyone beat that drum.
   We should. It should be important that our trials be public, with no part of the process behind closed doors. You want to plea bargain? Do it in public, if you do it at all.
   And, make the process quicker. Don't wait a trial for months. Try the person soon after the alleged crime.
   And, let the jury decide. Don't leave the decision to a judge. If we don't like this provision, amend the Constitution to allow the judge to render a decision. But, as long as this remains in the Constitution, honor it, and make it the law of the land.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Warning Label: "This Program Contributes to the National Debt"

   Back up and reconsider this idea, for it really would be a wise move. Our nation is $18.8 trillion in debt and the spending is so pervasive, it goes on underneath our noses without recognition it is even there.
   Treat it like the cancer it is. It has spread throughout the body, and threatens our nation. When faced with another cancer, and when faced with the cigarettes that caused it, we posted warning labels on the cigarette packages.
   That has done some good.
   I see no less reason for posting warning labels on government spending. Every time a company or an entity is using federal money, it should be required to disclose it. We believe in open government, and in transparency, do we? Why then, should we not require this? Why should we not want to see where our tax dollars are being spent?
   Government forces food vendors to label their products, by listing the ingredients. Let's require the same of government, with just this one ingredient: government spending. Every time this ingredient is included, it will be announced. Then, we will be aware of just how pervasive federal spending is. My thought is, we will be surprised at how many places we find federal tax dollars being spent.
   Call it the Federal Spending Disclosure Act of 2015 -- or, the Open Disclosure of Open Spending Act of 2015.
    We have the right to know where our tax dollars are being spent. We have the right to know which programs contain this spending. We have the right to know just how it comes to be that we are $18.8 trillion in debt.
   "This program contributes to the national debt." There. There's the warning label.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

We have the Right to Know When Federal Money is Behind a Project

   It would be good, if every time a company or institution used federal funds, they had to tell us about it. Call it truth in spending. Call it open government and transparency.
   No, it would be more than just good. It is something that, in my way of looking at it, definitely and positively ought to happen.
   I came to the idea tonight as I thought on Hyperloop Technologies, the company that is looking to conduct test for a futuristic transportation system in which vehicles would speed hundreds of miles an hour.
   Why not just race the airplanes to Chicago, right?
   Anyway, I got wondering how Hyperloop is making any money. It certainly isn't selling electric cars that travel 335 mph. I don't know that Hyperloop is, but I imagine sometimes these companies receive government grants. They don't need to sell anything to make a living, because the government is footing their bills.
   I just think, as a taxpayer, I have a right to know.
   I think back the many years to the Great Recession, when someone sold me some insulation for my home, saying it was being subsidized by a utility company or some such. I suspected the money was coming from the federal stimulus money, but the person I was buying from assured me it wasn't. I wonder, the same, wondering if maybe my friend didn't even know it, but, yes, it was government stimulus money.
   I have a right to know.

Monday, December 14, 2015

This Might be a Salt Surface Worthy of Wonderful Use

   About a week behind us, Hyperloop Technologies announced it will build a test facility in southern Nevada.
   They envision building an electric vehicle to zip passengers and packages at . . . 335 mph. That's about half the speed of sound.
    I wonder if Utah had pursued this enterprise, if it could have snagged it. And, I wonder if Utah might yet win a portion of the project, as Hyperloop said it is still looking for a site to build a nearly two-mile test track.
   I wonder if Utah's various Salt Flats might provide a natural place for Hyperloop -- or whatever company wants to test futuristic transportation capable of speeds such as 335 mph. The Bonneville Salt Flats were once about 13 miles long. How long are they now? And, I wonder if other salt flats are around the Great Salt Lake that might even be better than the Bonneville Salt Flats.
   Among the offerings, there's an arm of the lake up north whose waters have been separated from the rest of the lake by a railroad causeway -- separated so long that a plate of salt developed atop the lake in the past few decades. I do not know if the surface is strong enough to support vehicles, but I like to think it might be. The salt surface is said to be one of the largest man-made objects on earth, so it dwarfs the Bonneville Salt Flats.
   At the beginning of October, I understand, the Union Pacific Railroad began to carve spillways between the main body of the lake and the north arm. That will destroy the sprawling new salt surface.
   I have never visited the north arm, though I should. My life spins too fast to even drive up the street and see. I wonder if it is dry, or wet, and whether it is suitable. I wonder if the villagers up north of the lake have any thoughts on what has developed there. For all I know, some water is atop the surface, or the salt is not thick enough to support such enterprise.
   For all I know, bring in this endeavor would destroy a portion of one of North America's great wetlands.
   I only know this, if you have a resource, you shouldn't throw it away. You should develop it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Lord Lives, by Witness of the Jews Returning to the Holy Land

   A portion of my testimony does lie in Jeremiah 23:7-8. That passage begins by suggesting the day will come when people will no longer say they know the Lord lives because it is evidenced by His bringing the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. As I read that verse, I think of the miracles that the Lord wrought through Moses, such as Aaron's rod being turned to a serpent, and the river being turned to blood.
   And, of course, the parting of the Red Sea.
   Then, Jeremiah indicates the day will come, when instead of remembering those things, we will think on how the Lord must live as is evidenced by His bringing the seed of Israel out of the north countries to return to their own lands.
   At least some of that is yet to happen, maybe most, I cannot tell. But, I do know part of it, is the return of the Jews to the Holy Land. The day is upon us, just as Jeremiah prophesied, that we can say, "I know know the Lord lives, because I see the return of the Jews, just as is prophesied in the Bible."
   The scriptures were written long before these things happened. They promised that the Lord's people would be dispersed and their land left desolate by their departure. They promised that the people would be scattered across the world. Then, that people would return to their own land, and it would no longer be desolate, but would become a land of milk and honey.
   The return of the Jews to Israel makes good on these prophecies.
   And, now, I become part of the fulfillment of prophecy, for I look not to the miracles of Moses to steady my testimony, but to this miracle in the day in which I live. For to have a people so dispersed and scattered as the Jews, returning to their own land and being able to assume governance of that property, speaks to the scriptures being true, to God's living.
   Read Jeremiah 23:7-8, then.
   "Therefore, behold the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
   "But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land."


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Live from Center Stage in Salt Lake City, the Cambrios

   Center Stage in Salt Lake City, part of a dream of mine. I would have Salt Lake become more of a destination for tourists, who would come to the venues we would erect in a tourist district near the airport.
   Center Stage would be more than just another concert venue. It would be a venue that promoted the finest music, meaning music with morals, and music with a message. To get invited to Center Stage in Salt Lake City, you would first have to win an award for your song. We'll call that award, for now, the Cambrio. And, it would recognize the song as a song adding to the values of society.
   Thus, the venue would promote music with values. It would reward those who performed good music. It would promote good in the world, and at the same time, help attract tourists to Utah. Each time a Cambrio was announced, the performer would be scheduled for a concert (or concerts) in SLC to perform that song.
   By giving a stage to performers who provide good music, we encourage good music. Why not create a stage for them, then? Some of the Cambrio songs could be selected from new music already hittiing the market. Other times, the songs could be introduced at Center Stage. Just as the Lawrence Welk Show once introduced new music, Center Stage would seek to introduce and herald music worthy of acclaim.
   And, why not network the program to radio stations, with a weekly program featuring the Cambrios? And, of course, the songs could be hosted on a YouTube channel, with the songs coming online as the radio program originated.

Guns, Like Prescription Drugs, can Take Us Down the Wrong Path

    We are foolish if we conclude guns are inanimate objects, and therefore cannot entice us to crime.
   I think of prescription drugs, also inanimate objects. When the doctor prescribes them, a useful purpose is in mind, just as when a person buys a gun, a good purpose is in mind.
    Unfortunately, sometimes the drug gains a hold on the person, leading him to abuse, sometimes even death. It is the same with the gun. You might argue, that there is a difference, that drugs have a chemical effect, and make a physical change in a person. Guns cannot do that. Yes, that is true. Still, the gun, like the drug, can influence us. No, it does does not chemically affect us, I suppose.
   Still it sometimes does affect us.
   I suppose, the change wrought by the gun comes from our thoughts, as we consider how to use it. There are good uses and bad uses, and as the person goes down the list of options open to him, not always does he choose the good ones. He may never have considered murder before. But, as he considers the options the gun opens to him, and fastens on the wrong uses, he moves a direction he has never been in the past. He sees a real or false injustice, and sees that he can now address it with the gun.

Friday, December 11, 2015

From No Crime to the Most Deadly of Crimes in One Giant Step

   A week ago, I posted on how many of our mass murderers have no prior criminal history. So, it was of interest to me today when I found a New York Times article saying that at least eight gunmen in in 15 recent mass shootings either had criminal records or documented mental health problems. Some of these eight, then, had mental health problems, but not criminal histories.
   So, most did not have criminal backgrounds. It, then, remains of interest to me that so many of these shooters go from no criminal history at all, straight to the top of the crime list, becoming the most deadly criminals of all.

Gephardt Approved? The Ads Should have a Disclaimer

   I'd suggest the ads announcing that Bill Gephardt has approved a product ought to come with a note at the end of them. Something like, "Bill Gephardt is a retired consumer reporter."
   I heard one of the ads today, announcing that a product was "Gephardt approved," same as ads I have heard in the past. Trouble is, I have assumed Gephardt still reports for KUTV. Doesn't taking these ads compromise what he is doing, I thought? Isn't taking these ads kind of like buying protective insurance so he does run a negative piece on your company?
   So, I looked him up on the Internet when I got home, learning he retired a few years back, and then opened this business where he endorses companies for money, but only after he has investigated them and found them worthy of his support.
   There are probably a lot of people, like me, who suppose he is still at KUTV. Complicating things, Gephardt's son, Matt, succeeded him as KUTV's consumer reporter. So, it seems the "Gephardt Approved" advertisements should each include a disclaimer, noting he is no longer a consumer reporter.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donald Trump is One of Significant Social Issues of Our Day

   Donald Trump is one of the significant social issues of our day. Now, of course, having candidates discuss the issues is as natural an occurrence as having basketball players bounce basketballs.
   But, having the candidate be the issue? I suppose, to some degree, every candidate is an issue, but few, if any, so completely as the Donald.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Of Birds, Tourist Venues, Land Speed Racing, and the Great Salt Lake

   I want two things that might be at odds with each other. I'd like for Utah to build more tourism in connection with the birds and wetlands surrounding the Great Salt Lake. And, I'd like Utah to use the land surrounding the airport for amusement parks, museums, and other tourist venues. My thought is, the area near an airport is the most convenient site for tourists, so if you have the land available, don't squander it, use it for tourism.
   Problem is, the wetlands are part of the land near the airport. I am not in the know as to how much the two overlap. It might be, a study would have to be done to identify just where the bird lands stretch to, and how much we could encroach on them. Would the birds take up home on the north side of the lake if we developed much of the south side? That might be something no study could show. Only doing it, would tell.
   But, I also have a thought on development of the north end of the lake. The railroad running through the lake has shut off the north arm, separated it so the water has not been flowing much (or any?) between the north part of the lake and the south part. As a result, the north portion has developed a layer of salt over it, a plate of salt. Now, the railroad just started making tunnels for the waters to flow through -- and that will ruin things -- but what if the salt sheet is thick enough to support racing vehicles? Salt Flats II is way bigger than the Bonneville Salt Flats. If the salt plate is thick enough to safely support cars, and if it is dry enough on the surface of the salt plate, then we are wasting a great opportunity by letting the waters of the North Arm mix again with the rest of the lake so the salt plate will disappear from the north arm.
   Also, Antelope Island, where the buffalo roam. we could market it for tourism. Come see the buffalo. I wonder but what, of the various places in the U.S. where you can go to see buffalo, if this is not a accessible as any. Fly in, and from the airport you are there within an hour or so.
  If land near the airport is utilized for tourism, and if we capitalize on the resource of the Great Salt Lake, we could develop tourism far beyond what it is. Our national parks and our skiing and Temple Square are wonderful, but the airport and the lake afford us tremendous opportunity to expand our tourism even more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Love is Part of the Answer in Stopping Mass Murders

   Can I do this quick? I'll name most of the leading causes being mentioned for mass murders, and try to suggest ways to curb them. I'll have to come up with some of these solutions on the spot, and others I have already thought about.
  Radical Islam. Let us not ban Muslims from coming, and perhaps not even ban people who have been to Syria, Iraq and other countries where terrorists are operating. But, yes, let us screen all coming here for terrorist ties. I have been against how long it takes to get papers to come to the U.S., and remain so, but realize this will factor into extending our permission to come. I only say, the vetting can and should be done quickly. I think of a news story today of how our intelligence agencies determined ISIS already has infiltrated those refugees planning on coming. To me, this is an indication screening can work, at least to some degree. It's working, already, if the intelligence agencies screened out these potential terrorists.
  Mental illness. Shower community attention -- love -- on everyone with mental illness. Let us adopt it as a civic responsibility, just like voting, to be positive, enthusiastic, understanding, open, accepting, and loving of those with mental illness. If they feel accepted, they will be less inclined to lash out at society.
   Hmm. This gives me thought. We should also probably be treating all Muslims at this time with an extra dose of love. They need to know we love them. They need acceptance, not rejection. Anytime a group of people is feeling rejected, there is the possibility some of them will lash back at society.
   Likewise, we should be looking for anyone who might feel rejected by society, regardless if they fit into a social group. If we shower love on the rejected, regardless who they are, this will reduce the lash-back tendency.
   Gun accessibility. Despite all I have blogged about the dangers of guns, I am not really coming up with an answer to gun accessibility right at the moment. I do not believe in taking guns away, even though I know there are dangers in so many people having them. I guess my answer if what I have said in the past, and that it would be wise if we didn't teach each other that everyone should have a gun.
   Gun-free zones. The answer is more security guards, and more police officers. If we have reached a point where there is a need for more policing, then let us start providing it. Have security guards or police officers available everywhere where there is a gathering. I say have them "available," because if the store, or church, or group does not want that protection, it should not be forced upon them.
   Notoriety and fame. I'm not sure what the answer here is, either. Some have suggested only mentioning the name once in news stories, and after that referring to the assailant simply as "the shooter." I do not know that that would make a difference. The public still has the right to know about these murderers, and about their backgrounds, and you cannot do that without writing about them, which does give them fame. I can only say, it is obviously a negative fame. Why would people want to be thought of poorly? Some may. Some do. But, hopefully this factor is not as great as it sometimes seems.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Make Salt Lake the Bird Capital of the World

   If you want to maximize your tourism, utilize your what you have. The Great Salt Lake is home to more than 250 birds. The wetlands here are one of our strengths. If we were to build on this, what could we do?
   Build the world's best aviary.
   I do not know what aviaries there are, nor what they offer, but we could built a wonderful aviary and who knows but what it might end up the world's best. Pick out some of the things birds do, and feature them. Come to watch birds pollinate, to dive, to soar, to swim. Have a museum, where famous events involving birds are colorfully retold in videos, such as the time when seagulls saved the crops of the Utah Pioneers.
   Focus on the interesting and entertaining birds. Parakeets? Find and feature the most talented parakeets. Diving birds? Are some more talented than others? Seek out the best, so people come to see Diving Dave, the Hawk (that's a made-up name, but give him a name and advertise whatever talented diving bird headlines that group.)
   Offer birds for sale, making Salt Lake the place you come if you want to find a rare bird.

Quest for Fame in Mass Murders

   What of the quest for notoriety, fame? Is it among the reasons mass murderers do what they do? Surely it is. How great a factor, though, I do not know.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Observing His First Coming Prompts Me to Think of His Second Coming

      Elder David A. Bednar, in his Christmas message, referred to the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite in the Book of Mormon that five years would pass, and then would come the Son of God. As the moment approached, some began to say that the time had passed for Samuel's words to be fulfilled.
  As Elder Bednar spoke, my thoughts fell on this modern day, of how it has been roughly 2,000 years since the birth of Christ, and the day for his Second Coming is perhaps nigh at hand. And, in a likeness of the time in the Book of Mormon when doubters doubted the first coming, some might suggest the time for the Second Coming has passed.
   I do not know; it could be many decades, maybe centuries before the Savior comes again. But, I know we are in the last days. At this Christmas time, as we think of the Savior's coming the first time, I wonder how close we are to His Second Coming.

It is a Tool of Death, so can it Sometimes be a Bad Influence?

  Our mass murderers of late, for the large part, are not cut from the lot of criminals. They often lack extensive criminal histories. We should wonder what makes them jump from no crime (or little crime) to major crime.
   Some are lashing out at the world. Some are reflecting their ideologies. Those are factors.
   What I'm wondering, is whether the gun culture we live in is also a factor. Our love of guns, our glorification of guns, does that have anything to do with why some go from no crime, to gun crime?
   Bad influences can make good people, bad people. You might not want to think our love of guns, as a society, helps foster the murderer, but does it? I'm sorry, but I'm guessing it is a factor. You might not want to think of the gun as a bad influence, but can it be? It seems it might have been invented to bring about death. It's hard to imagine that a tool of death cannot be a bad influence.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mass Murders are not the Average Criminal's Cup of Tea

   If you notice, many of the shooters in the mass killings are first-time criminals. Oh, I suppose I don't know their exact histories, but I am rather sure few of them had extensive violent backgrounds.
  Our hardened criminals might rob banks, deal drugs, and, yes, murder, but they don't seem too bent on shooting masses. It just doesn't seem to be their cup of tea.
  Instead, rookies do that.
  I search for reasons as to why. I brainstorm a little. Maybe hardened criminals are mostly just in it to get by. They just want to make their lives easier, and so they steal and rob and kill to get there. They don't commit a crime just for the glory of committing the crime, but only as a means of getting something they want. The crime isn't an end in and of itself, it  is a means to an end.
 So, what is it about the mass killer that sets him off? Is he a person angry at the world, and seeking to take it out on the world? I'd guess, many a time, that is the case. They aren't seeking to make their lives better. To them, the crime is an end in and of itself.

People are Dying While Waiting for Social Security Disability Approval

   I think of the Veterans Administration scandal, of how people were dying while waiting to be seen at the V.A. hospitals.
  So, five days ago, there is a story on how people are dying while waiting to be approved for Social Security Disability. The story is tucked deep into my newspaper, and I don't think it made much of a ripple nationally.
  Isn't this the same type of a scandal as the V.A. situation? If people are dying for lack of speed in getting their paperwork approved, is that not scandal? If someone were to show up on an emergency at the hospital, and we took so much as a day to process them before admitting them, that would be a scandal. Why is this so different? When you are dying, that is an emergency. It is not a situation where you say, "Let us process your paperwork for the next six months, and then we will take care of you."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Let Them Know Jihad is Simply the Struggle to do Good

   Heard one news report today say the San Bernadino shooters had been "radicalized." I know the investigation is still underway, and perhaps it isn't yet determined that a radical Muslim belief system led to the shootings.
   But, I cannot help but think of two blogs I wrote last week, warning that if you tell someone enough that they believe in something, they might come to believe you. If you tell them their religion believes in killing those who do not believe as they do, there will be some who come to believe you.
   They will be "radicalized."
   Some may be radicalized as they are recruited by the radicals, others might be led that direction by hearing the drift of comments in the general public that say their religion is a violent one, and suggesting that the word, "Jihad," means a holy war against non-believers.
   What I'm saying, is that people often become what they are told they are. So, we should not want to tell them they are killers.
   My thought is, we should be doing everything we can to counter that message. If we can find Muslim leaders who say, "Wait, this is inaccurate. This is not what we believe," then we should get that counter message before the Muslims.
   I found one such source tonight. I found a link that says jihad is not killing innocent people. It is not committing suicide, for suicide is a sin. It is not acting out of hate and anger. It is not a holy war against unbelievers.
   Jihad is simply struggling and striving for good and for Allah. It is one's inner struggle of good against evil.
   If we hear the definition is a holy war against unbelievers, and we can become convinced it is correct, why should not some Muslims also come to the same conclusion? If it makes sense to us, it can make sense to them. It then becomes imperative that we get the message before them that "jihad" means something else rather than the evil things being ascribed to it.
   They want to do live their religion the right way. Let's not give them reason to believe the right way is to kill.

There's a Plus Side to Spreading Out the Homeless Services

   I can see a plus in the announcement that services for the homeless are to be spread throughout the valley. It means the services will now reach those who are not in the downtown area, who are on the streets in other parts of the valley. They will now have resources to help them, It is, then, a good thing to provide services in the outlying areas.
   Only, don't kick the homeless out of downtown. Instead, if you are embarrassed that they are to be seen on your streets, do such a good job taking care of them that you keep them indoors and not wandering around outside.
   I don't understand why a large homeless shelter cannot be built. Use the whole of the Pioneer Park block, if necessary. The only reason for opposition to such an idea that I can think of, at the moment, is that you don't just give them something for free. If you do, you are going to be overrun by people who rush for housing without having to pay a dime.
   I suggest, give them housing, anyway. Don't begrudge them. But, make them work for what they get. Place them in jobs, when you can, and require those who don't get jobs to work -- even if it is busy work like sweeping floors that have already been swept.
   I don't understand the homeless problem. It seems it should be easy to just built a building large enough to house them. Once the building is up, invite the same charities who are serving them now to serve them. If private charity is working, don't shift that responsibility to government.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Two Thoughts as the San Bernadino Shootings Increase the Debate

   Two thoughts, as the nation picks up the pace of the guns debate after the San Bernadino mass shootings. I heard a commentator tonight note that so many of the shootings have two things in common: Mentally-disturbed assailants and gun-free zones. I have a thought that ties to each.
   Is there anything we can do to deal with mentally-disturbed people going off and shooting folks? Yes. If every time we learned of a person who was mentally off balance, if we showered them with love, it would make a difference. Aye, I know you might have doubts. I only say, we know enough about love to know that it does make a difference. Some of those mentally ill are at least in part that way because they feel a shortage of love. (That may not be an established and accepted belief, but I submit it is true.) It would make a difference if every time we ran into someone with mental disabilities, we rushed to give them warm, enthusiastic, loving friendship. If we as a society rushed to the comfort of those with mental problems, it would make a difference. How big a difference, I don't know, but it would make some.
   Second, gun-free zones? The thought behind this is the old, If-we-get-rid-of-guns-only-criminals-will-have-them argument. I don't believe this argument is all together correct. There would also be fewer people who gravitate towards crime having guns. I am not in favor of outlawing guns, but I do see that the fact that so many have guns in the U.S. does factor in to people committing these kind of crimes. President Obama keeps hammering at us, noting that the propensity of these shootings is unique to the U.S. Well, we do have more guns than most countries, and that is a factor. Yes, if they were not so easily available, if they were hard to come by, there would be fewer people committing these shootings. The gangs might still find ways to get guns, but many would not. It does not go unnoticed on me that a fair share of the shootings are committed by those without criminal histories. Yes, I do believe if our society didn't value having guns so much, some of these shooters never would have had them. Our love of guns does play into the number of mass shootings. If a good share of us go out and buys guns, that share is going to include a lot of people who might bend towards the criminal. Indeed, a person with such tendencies is going to be among those who gravitate toward buying a gun. And, once the gun is in hand, they start considering reasons for using it. The average Joe might be thinking the gun is only for self defense, but these others turn to mass shootings.
   Yes, having so many guns in America is not a good thing. Our love of guns does have a down side. And, we are seeing the effects of that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It Rubs Me Wrong that the Homeless Should be Booted Out

   They are ready to disperse the homeless from downtown Salt Lake City, again. This time, the idea is to scatter the homeless shelters and facilities to various communities, instead of having just a central site.
   I wonder if I am wrong and am just begrudging those who want the homeless moved. The reason they want them gone? They want to develop the area more, and the commercial interests eyeing coming in want the homeless gone. That's what I've heard. Anyway, somehow it rubs me wrong that the homeless would be chased away to make way for commercial development.