Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Did the Media Skip Over Hayden's Almost-Endorsement of McMullin?

   Former CIA agent Evan McMullin's presidential candidacy received strong words of favor from former CIA director Michael Hayden today -- but the story doesn't seem to have received much play.
   I did catch it on KSL Radio, which played a lengthened spot on what he had to say about Russian hacking. When someone asked him about McMullin, he all but gushed. I thought to come home and look up the story. Alas, what I found at KSL.com of Hayden's visit in Salt Lake City did not cover word one of his strong words of favor for McMullin. I wonder if the rest of the media also skipped over Hayden's comments on McMullin.
   It should have been a story in and of its own. And, with Hayden in Salt Lake City, it should have been featured in every news outlet.
  Why wasn't it?
(Story edited and corrected 9/1/16)

Doesn't the EpiPen Scandal Demand that We Insert Competition?

   I didn't plug into the EpiPen scandal as I should have, but of the discussion I did hear, I don't remember anyone suggesting that this points out the crying need for competition.
  Did that go completely over our heads? Or, was it part of the discussion, and I just didn't hear it? It seems to me that when the price of the product skyrockets so high, we ought to have the presence of mind to realize that it wouldn't have happened if we had a system that allows someone to sell the product for less.
   In America, of all places, we often skip the free market system in favor of monopolies. Such is the case with EpiPen. We should change our patent laws to avoid this. Yes, I am aware that will take a Constitutional Amendment. We should do it, anyway. When something is wrong, and you see it, and you have any wisdom at all, you change it.
   I am quite confident our founding fathers would want this change made.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Our State Department Should Defend Lochte's Rights

   Justice can be lost in a confession. Ryan Lochte confessed, and we latched onto his confession as evidence that there was nothing wrong with how he and the other swimmers were treated at the gas station that night.
   I wonder but what they were mistreated. Did they vandalize the restroom as reported? It seems now that they couldn't even get in to the room to be able to vandalize it. And, why is there a break in the video, with the gap being when the security officers pulled their guns? Was there an extortion? How much money was taken, if there was? Was it taken at gunpoint? Is not such street justice something we should be opposing? 
   Seems to me, some agency from the U.S. should be investigating. Seems to me, our state department should be defending the rights of our Olympians, and protecting the rights of our citizens abroad. Seems to me, justice is being lost in Lochte's confession. Yes, he did wrong. Yes, he lied. But, that should not wash away ill treatment of him and and the other swimmers.
   Our state department should at least look into the matter, determining whether the swimmers were treated wrongly. If they were, we should at least publicly condemn the Brazilians for their actions. Both sides can act wrongly in a dispute, and it appears to me, both sides did.

Monday, August 29, 2016

We Probably should Outlaw Cans and Plastic Containers

   We probably should outlaw plastic containers, and maybe tin and aluminum ones, as well
  If something is harmful, there is great reason to outlaw it.  Consumers assume there is a level of safety when something is on the market. They do not have time to investigate. So, they ingest BPA day after day, year after year, assuming it is safe.
   And, should they ever stop to look it up? They perhaps will only be put right back at ease when they learn the FDA has said BPA is not harmful at levels currently on the market.
   But, I trust scientists more than regulatory agencies. Turn back to March 4, 2015, when Douglas Main posted an article in Newsweek titled, "BPA IS FINE, IF YOU IGNORE MOST STUDIES ABOUT IT."
   From the article, we read: "Newsweek spoke with about 20 scientists, leaders in the field of BPA research, and the majority say it is likely (though not certain) that the chemical plays a role in a litany of health concerns: obesity, diabetes, problems with fertility and reproductive organs, susceptibility to various cancers and cognitive/behavioral deficits like ADHD."
  I do not believe you ignore science. While studies funded by the packaging industry suggest BPA, which is used in making plastic containers and as an anti-rust agent lining cans, say BPA is safe, independent studies suggest it is not.
   I say, we are foolish to keep using containers when the evidence suggests they are causing problems ranging from cancer to ADHD to birth defects. We are foolish to disregard the warnings of the scientists, even if our regulatory agencies are telling us all is well.
   We could be a healthier people. One way to better health is to avoid that which causes problems. There is probable cause to believe BPA causes a host of problems, not just one. Will we not do anything about it, imperiling our own health? Or, will we outlaw it, moving out of harm's way?
 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Joan of Arc's Story Should Stand Larger in the Annals of History

   Perhaps it is, Joan of Arc should be one of the most studied chapters of history. The American Revolution -- check; the Roman Empire -- check; and Joan of Arc -- it might should have a check as being as important as anything we have to study.
   I listen to the introduction of a documentary on Joan of Arc, and it says that to study her story, we have to step into a world where God and the devil are real. Therein, perhaps lies the reason her story is so important.
   If there are passages from history that point to God's existence, we should heed them.
   I wonder if the story is well documented. Did it even happen, or is it legend and fairytale? From what I can tell, hers is a true story. That it happened is not in question.
  So, then, here we have it: A teenage girl hears voices telling her to lead the dauphin to Reims for his coronation. England rules France at the time. The dauphin is the Frenchman who would be king if France ruled itself. Now, how does a pheasant girl carry out such a proclamation? She would need to travel perhaps 250 miles across enemy territory just to get the message to the dauphin. She would have to persuade him and others to listen to her, a simple farm girl and put her in charge of an army. Now, I wonder but what that isn't totally out of character for the times, for I am told many in those times claimed to have revelations, and people believed in such things. The question was to determine if they were true, (That, too, is something we should study.)
   Then, there is the complexity of taking the dauphin to Reims. To get to that city, they would need to go through a city under English siege. Joan's solution was to take the city, Orleans, back, which she did. A city that been in the hands of the enemy for months, fell within days to an army led by a poor farm girl.
   Right -- in Hollywood, perhaps, but in history?
   Well, I shorten the story. Joan won her battles. The dauphin was crowned. Joan was captured by the English, and she suffered death by fire.
   What is important about her story, is that she might have been directed by God. I will believe well enough in a God even if the whole Joan of Arc thing isn't true, of course. But if it is? Even if the story is true, I suppose it could all be by chance that it came together as it did.
   Still, if the things that are written are things that indeed did happen, I would be foolish not to wonder but what it was -- even as Joan said -- of God's design. In a world that wonders if there is a God -- or should wonder if there is a God -- these are pages of history that should not be blotted out or glossed over. Rather, they should have importance. There are lessons to be learned from history, and we must not shun them when they have a message as large as this.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Utah could Host Meaningful Debate Even if Clinton, Trump didn't Show

   Would like to see a few presidential debates here in Utah. At least one. With the interest in third-party and independent candidates that has swelled up here of late, we should have a debate. Invite the bunch of them, and, even if Trump and Clinton don't show, the debate(s) between the others would be meaningful.
   Maybe invite all 12 (or however many) and the write-in candidates, to boot, for a debate the first night, then winnow the field to three or four for a second night. Maybe have a round of debates as soon as they can be scheduled, then a second round as close to the election as can be scheduled.
   With more interest than usual in finding a candidate other than offered by the two parties, having a debate offers the minor candidates is a market that is not being met. Utah could fill that niche.
   With Utah being one of the states most inclined to vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton, it would be appropriate for this to be the state hosting debates among the other candidates. And, who knows but how historic this would be. Has there ever been a debate among the lesser candidates? Would it lead to their inclusion in future election cycles?
   (Note: the last paragraph was added to the blog 8/28/16.)


Bring Tarpenning or Eberhard to Utah to Create a New Car Maker

   What if we lured talent to our state by offering to set them up in business? Say, take the two earliest founders of Tesla, Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard, and give them a state grant to create a new car maker right here in Utah.
   One usual way of attracting business, is to offer tax breaks. This is a little different approach. Instead of offering tax breaks, you are offering investment capital. You search out someone who is brilliant enough, and place them in business.
   Tarpenning and/or Eberhard might be good candidates. Although Elon Musk came along quickly after them, it was they who originally founded Tesla Motors. Though they are no longer with Tesla, they remain interested in electric cars. Tarpenning, interestingly enough, does not have enough notoriety to even warrant his own entry in Wikipedia. How is that possible? It seems Wikipedia has entries on most everything and on every noteworthy person.
   I say, ask them if they think another car maker, patterned after Tesla, could fit in the market. (Hopefully, they didn't sign a no-compete agreement when they left Tesla.) Why not tap into their experience, expertise, and ingenuity, and open a car-making company right here in Utah?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Let Utah Create Farmland Preservation Areas

     America set a new thing in motion in 1872, establishing Yellowstone National Park as the first national park in the country, and the first one in the world. With this, the practice of setting aside nature and wilderness, roping it off against pressures of development, commenced.
   Now, we should see there is another type of land that might need such designation to protect it.
   Farmland.
   I guess I'd like to see Utah have the world's first farmland preservation area. It could be a massive one. Or , maybe, even as we have a number of national parks, we could have a number of farmland preservation areas. We might not be able to fill the world's future food needs, but we have enough open space that we could be a definite contributor.
   Yesterday, I spoke of pumping water from the ocean to our state. I spoke of the oceans as being an unharnessed source of water we have yet to conquer. I ask, can we consider bringing in and desalinating enough water to turn our state's vast open areas into large farming areas? If we did this, we could consider picking our areas; Perhaps we would decide to protect all current farmland. But, on the other hand, perhaps we would decide to let our cities could continue to grow into areas now being farmed while we shifted our farmland in places now given to brush and trees.
   Our limits on what we can do to contribute to the world's needs might be limited only by the scoffer's tendency to say it can't be done. It is but a dream, but I say this thing might be something that could be achieved. We would need to study it to see if it could be done. Is piping in ocean water and desalinating it even practical? And, if it is, is it practical when we are speaking of enough of it to farm vast areas of farmland?
   Again, let us not scoff the idea off without looking at it. Perhaps it is impractical, but I think we could jump too quickly at that conclusion. And, if it is not impractical, then it is a great idea.
   (Blog added to and altered 8/28/16)
 

Dismissing Someone for having no chance becomes Self Fulfilling

   Well, then, the argument has it that you shouldn't waste your vote on Evan McMullin, for he has no chance to win. 
   I scroll down the online comments from a Deseret News article, and like what someone called Ksampow has to say. "If we all decide to vote for the candidates 'who have a chance' that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most Utahans (and most Americans) do not trust Trump and Clinton. If we vote for them we are part of the problem, not part of the solution."
  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Could Utah Tap into Water from the Ocean?

   We are the second driest state in the nation. Our Great Salt Lake is in danger of drying up. We are a growing state, demanding more and more water.
   Where do we get it, and do we need more than what we have? I hear little voice of concern, so perhaps we are well enough off.
   But, if our future does need water, what of the ocean? Could we pump from the Pacific, and desalinate it when we get it here? Could we use the residue brine to create new salt flats?
   It is said, about 96 percent of the earth's water is in the ocean. It is said, less than a half a percent of our human water consumption comes from desalination. Harnessing water from the ocean, then, remains one of the world's true frontiers.
   I do not see why there is much expense for vaporizing water, to remove the salt. It seems once you have the equipment in place, the expense would be little. And, I wonder if the energy to boil the water could be very small, once the equipment is in place for it, using mirrors or magnifying glasses or some other form of solar power to heat the water.
   The expense, then, could be in pumping the water all the way from the Pacific, which is an uphill climb.
   If it were determined that the salt water might be a spill hazard, then it would need to be desalinated before being piped.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

McMullin Comes in with Just 9 Percent

   I'm disappointed in Evan McMullin's results in a poll of Utah voters released Tuesday. Donald Trump is way ahead, taking 39 percent to 24 for Hillary Clinton. Libertarian Gary Johnson captured 12 percent and McMullin just 9 percent.
   I would have hoped McMullin would have fared better.

Water, Water Everywhere in the Ocean, Yet We Drink Few Drops

   Count me among the lost as to why we don't use more ocean water. I mean, about 96 percent of the earth's water is in the ocean, yet desalinated water only accounts for less than a half a percent of human water consumption.
   I read how desalinating water is just too expensive. The cost can range from just under $1 to more than $2 to produce one cubic meter of desalinated water.
   I don't understand. I'm lost. Why the large expense. It seems you simply boil the water into vapor. Why should that be so expensive? I wonder but what focused mirrors or magnifying lenses or some other form of solar energy couldn't make this doable, inexpensive.
   I'm sure other people have wondered over this same question.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Maybe Pete Carroll Would Coach Better if He Went Back to College

   Does a coach need to get a college degree in coaching before he can coach? Why don't we start requiring our football and basketball coaches to obtain degrees before they can can coach, and especially if they want to coach at the highest level, in the NFL.
   Of course, I'm not serious. The reason I bring it up, though, is because I wonder why we think it such a great thing to require our teachers to have degrees before we will hire them, yet it is a different matter when it comes to football coaches.
   You might suggest football and basketball aren't important, therefore we don't require it. That might be true. But, then again, football can be all important. Society seems to attach a lot of importance on whether the Seahawks or the Broncos win the Superbowl. Now, if it is so important, aren't we going to have better coaches if we get them certified in coaching? Think how wonderful this will be, if we decide they need to be accredited before, say, the 2020-2021 season? I'm looking forward to seeing how much better Seattle's Pete Carroll and the Denver's Gary Kubiak will coach once they've been to college. The NFL has never had the advantage of having college certified coaches in all its years of existence. It just makes sense that the level of play in the NFL is going to rise once we start getting the coaches certified.
   Well, truthfully? I guess I wonder if one of the reasons we don't require them to be certified, is that we don't want to limit ourselves from hiring the very best when it comes to coaching. We want to be able to reach out and select the very best, regardless whether they obtained a degree in coaching.
   I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Let Us Personally Deliver Our Tax Money to Welfare Recipients

   I read this word of wisdom from a church leader: "The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement." (Elder Wilford W. Andersen, a member of the Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
    I think how it is also true that the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more likely the giver is to develop a sense of resentment. 
   If welfare reform is important -- and I say it is -- perhaps we should revamp it with these principles in mind. I'm not sure how to go about it, but one idea would be this:
   After filing your taxes, the government would send you a check from the money you just paid. The check would be payable not to you, but to one of the needy families in your community. You, then, would have the option: You could either personally deliver the check to the needy family, or send it back to the IRS so someone else could deliver it.
   I consider on whether this would cost us much administrative overhead. In an age of computer niceties, I think it need not.
   So, as I sit here thinking about this idea, I like it. It connects the givers with the receivers. It makes citizens more a part of the process. With many givers likely to express concern for those they contribute to, it inserts love into the program. It also inserts more accountability, as the receivers will be more reflective on their situation and whether they need to remain on the welfare.
   I do see a danger: Some givers would take it as a chance to go to the receivers and condemn them. How to avoid that? I'm not sure. For one thing, though, remove them from the program if they do threaten the receivers.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

If We Lose the Voice of Religion, We Lose a Freedom

 "We cannot lose the influence of religion and religious bodies in our public life without seriously jeopardizing our freedom and prosperity."  -- Elder Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  There are those who suggest (demand, might be more accurate) that religion be removed from the public stage. I am of a different mind. I agree with Elder Oaks. If we lose the voice of religion, we lose a vital voice. The contributions of religion to public thought are many and wonderful. That we should seek to throw out any voice is wrong, but it becomes interesting when voice being banned is the voice of religion.  
   The right of religions to speak in the public arena is one of our basic rights, or should be. If we ban the voice of religion, we lose valuable input in deciding our societal issues. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Can We Replace Some Pine Trees With Fruit Trees?

   As I consider wildfire prevention, a brother suggests that if the forest area is to be kept wet, maybe sometimes the tree species should be changed.
   Fruit trees instead of pine trees.
   My mind jumps to stories of how we are running out of enough farmland to feed a growing world population. I google, and see a National Geographic link suggesting converting tropical forests with farmland is one of the most destructive things we can do. Fine, not all forest land is tropical forest. Can we replace some pine trees with fruit trees?

Rather than Sitting Talent Down, Put Them in Same Backfield

  So, which quarterback is the started at BYU this season, Taysom Hill, who was a Heisman candidate, or Tanner Mangum, who came in when Taysom was injured and was a wonderchild as a freshman?
   How about playing them both in the same backfield, sometimes in a split shotgun with Taysom on one side and Tanner on the other? Other times, Taysom could be lined up as the halfback, and if the ball went to him, he could run or toss a halfback pass. The halfback pass has been considered a trick play, but with Taysom in the backfield, it could become a regular play.
   Don't know if anyone has ever had a two-quarterback offense, but rather than sitting talent down, play both of them at once.

Bring Our Own Officers in to Investigate the Lochte Incident

 Ryan Lochte says he should have been more candid in speaking of being robbed at gunpoint in Rio. And, the video at the gas station evidently is missing a segment, during which time Lochte and his Olympic friends were supposedly robbed.
   I find myself wondering, again, on whether to believe him. Were they robbed? Though just not exactly like Lochte originally said, but rather by being forced to pay a higher fee than the damage warranted? If they had vandalized the gas station, it would be somewhat normal to want to screen out that portion of the story. And, when he says they were robbed, was the only 'robbery' that took place when the security guards demanded that the damage be paid for?
   Is such street justice -- settling the issue before the police can arrive -- normal in Rio? Is it just? I'd make that part of the investigation. And, why did a portion of the video get omitted? That, too, should be investigated.
   It would be good to have a U.S. agency investigate, looking into things the Rio police are not likely to address. Bring the investigators in under the arm of the U.S. Embassy, perhaps, but bring them in. If bringing in our own investigators is deemed too much of an affront to the Rio police, then don't even announce you are going to investigate, and don't make the results public, but at least investigate.    Among other things, come to a conclusion as to whether Lochte should be prosecuted, or whether the street justice should be allowed to cover the situation. Come to a conclusion of whether he should be extradited and whether the U.S. is willing to participate in that extradition.
  You may suggest the U.S. should not interfere in these things, should not step on Brazil's toes. I'm of a different thought. Is street justice a good form of justice? Should it be discouraged in a fellow country? When one of our citizens becomes subject to it, do we not have the right to call for and campaign for, and work for justice?

(Blog updated, changed and added to 8/21/15)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Being Good is Knowing the Topic and Knowing How to Teach it

   If a teacher knows all about the stars, and knows how to get his message across, he should be qualified to teach astronomy. Well, maybe toss in there that he will, as well, need to know how to control a class.
  But, isn't that what a good teacher boils down to -- someone who knows his topic and knows how to teach it? So, why should we shy against hiring someone if we can see they know the topic and they know how to teach it?
   Are we going to send them back out the door, telling them, "Sorry, I need someone who carries a piece of paper you just don't have"?
   Yep, we are, and something seems wrong with that, to me.
   I do not know but what our current system of selecting teachers fails us, at times. Yes, having them go through four years of college and get teaching credentials is a way of vetting them. But, is it the best way? When it comes time to select teachers, we are not looking for those who know the most about biology or math or history, if they are going to teach biology or math or history. Instead, our focus is more on whether they went to college and are credentialed. If they did and they are, and their demeanor is found to be acceptable, they are hired. That becomes our criteria. I would guess sometimes we don't even grill them on what they know about biology or math or history. We miss the focus it takes to find the very best teachers.
   If being a good teacher is no more than knowing the topic and knowing how to teach it, why not simply make that the criteria? Why not seek out candidates on that basis, alone? Why be afraid of hiring on that basis, alone? It's all you want in a good teacher; It's all you need in a good teacher. Why shift from making that your goal when you hire your teacher?

McMullin says Terrorists would be Wise not to come as Refugees

   Presidential candidate Evan McMullin makes a strong point for letting refugees come to America. Are we worried about terrorists sneaking in with them? McMullin notes he spent more than 10 years in the CIA. "Let me tell you," he told Brett Baier of Fox News Aug. 15, "if you're a terrorist and you want to come to the United States, the worst possible way to try to do it is as a refugee. You'll go through a year and a half to two years of vetting."
   Sounds like coming as a refugee puts you on a terrorist watch list. So, why would those coming want to put themselves on a terrorist watch list?

These Trees Stand up to the Fires with Bark Two Feet Thick

   All these forest fires. Ever wonder why the Sequoias never catch fire? Believe it or not, they are fire resistant. They boast fire-resistant bark that can be up to two feet thick. Yes, you read correctly, two feet thick. It would seem overly thick even at two inches, but two feet?
   The Sequoias can survive the hottest forest fires. Oh, the young and smallish ones might go up in flames, but not the elderly, large ones.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Do We Continue to License our Teachers?

   There's a teacher crisis here in Utah. We don't have enough teachers. It's a story I need to catch up on.
   I think there are some jobs we overly regulate. We require licensing when it just isn't necessary. I don't know that teaching is one of these, but I am open to thinking about it. Just off top, it seems if you know math, you might be able to teach it. If you know history, you might be able to teach it. The question is not whether you have a piece of paper saying you know something, but whether you do , in fact, know enough about the topic to teach it, and whether you do know how to teach.
   I'm just wondering. I'm not going to come to a conclusion tonight. But, I do wonder.

How is it We Find Water to Fight the Fire, but None to Prevent it?

    I continue to wonder why we don't keep the foliage wet to avert forest fires. I would guess it is not the trees, themselves, that need to be wet, but the foliage around them. If the foliage is dry, it catches a spark and is set on fire. But, if you water it enough to keep it green, a good portion of our forest fires would never happen.
   I wonder why we don't airlift water to some spots. Maybe, in some cases, even install waterlines just beneath the forest surface. I've been told, all the water in our lakes and reservoirs is spoken for, so we can't water our forests. I wonder, though. If all our water is taken, how do we come up with some when the fire breaks out. How is it we can find water to fight the fire, but cannot find any to prevent it?

Extradite Lochte, if Necessary

   My take on the Ryan Lochte story tonight? He should be extradited, if necessary. He should be sent back to face whatever charges might result. Wish President Obama or some high official would quickly step forth, saying that if the Brazilians want Lochte back to face charges, they will make him available to be extradited.

He Who can Never be Wrong, cannot be Right

   He who cannot be wrong, cannot be right, We make mistakes and we make wrong judgments. If we cannot accept ourselves when we miss the mark, we are not on mark in life. We are not right.
   It appears pretty clear I was wrong a couple days on the Ryan Lochte story. I suggested then that while the police might suggest there is not enough evidence to find those who held up Lochte and three other swimmers, they shouldn't be questioning whether the robbery ever took place.
   Aye, did I ever miss on that. I guess it could still turn out the swimmers were robbed, but it seems rather sure that won't happen.
 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CNN Went the Right Direction by Giving Minor Party a Stage

   Think it is neat CNN featured the Green Party on a town hall tonight. I wonder if a major network has ever before done such a thing, host a minor party. I like Jill Stein's demeanor. On demeanor, alone, she might be as good of candidate as there is.
   I would like to see minor parties invited to a presidential debate. Not allowing them, to me, extends the major parties monopoly on the presidential race. I say, put them on the same stage as the two major parties. Why not? It might be, they will out-debate the major parties and we might come to be convinced they are as good of candidates as the major party candidates.
   Putting them on the stage gives us opportunity to review them. Shouldn't we want to pick the best candidate, regardless whether that person is with a major party?

Perhaps We Should Re-Look at Why We don't do this

   Perhaps the Bluecut Fire in California should cause us to take another look at doing something we seem to think we lack the resources to do. It is time to look at whether we can wet potential fire sites to keep them from bursting in flames.
   Two of the reasons we don't? (1) It is too expensive to desalt the ocean water and spreading it over the forests would harm the trees, if the salt were not removed. (2) All the inland water is already spoken for, if I understand correctly. Someone has the water rights to all the water in our lakes and reservoirs and all the water is needed, mostly for culinary reasons.
   I wonder why removing salt is such a prohibitive thing. I don't know what methods there are, but I imagine one is converting it to steam then letting the steam cool back into water. That does seem like it would take some effort, but, no, it doesn't seem it should be cost-prohibitive -- to me. It doesn't seem the equipment should be so expensive, as it is a simple enough process. Is it the energy required that is expensive?
   As for water rights at our lakes and reservoirs, I guess for the moment I can only wonder. I must imagine that if you tell me there is no water available, I might not be in position to say otherwise. But, I certainly continue to wonder.
  I'm not saying we should continually water all the forests. Maybe even let some dry up to catch on fire in controlled burns. But, we could at least spot water, picking the places we where we wanted to avoid fires.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Deny Trump the Ability to Benefit from Pence being on the Ticket

   Is it too late to do this? Call the Utah Legislature into session and have them change the laws so that the president and vice presidential candidates are on separate ballots. That is the way the 12th Amendment says the Electoral College shall cast its ballots, so why not have the popular election mirror it?
   I guess there is no urgent need to fix the process just for this year's election. It could be done before the 2020 presidential race, if it is something you really want to fix. Still, if it could be done in time for this year's election, there is benefit to doing it now.
   For one thing, I wonder but what it would be timely for this election. There are many who would vote for Mike Pence for vice president who would not vote for Trump for president. With Pence and Trump running together, some are going to vote for the ticket who otherwise would dump Trump.
   So, if you are part of the effort to dump Trump, this could benefit your cause.
   I do not know whether the election laws are part of the Utah Constitution, or whether this could even be done in time. But, if it could, would be nice to do it.
  

Lochte's Robbery? Bring in U.S. Investigators

   At this point, I'd bring in either the CIA, or, if there is a jurisdiction concern, bring them in through the U.S. Embassy. Ryan Lochte and three other Olympic swimmers say they were robbed at gunpoint. Rio officials, however, say they are finding little evidence  the event even took place. The suggestion seems to be that Lochte and the other swimmers fabricated it.
   Reading the story, I don't think so. And, that the Rio officials are taking that stance is troubling. If they were saying there is not enough evidence to find the criminals, that would be one thing, but to say there is not enough evidence to support the fact the crime ever took place? Like I say, that is worrisome.
   You need an investigation of the whole matter, including an investigation of the Rio police investigation. Maybe even an investigation of whether the Rio police often tosses off claims of crime from its own citizens.
   In other words, investigate whether there is police corruption in play.
   If the crime is considered out of jurisdiction for the FBI or CIA, per se, you could bring them in under the umbrella of the U.S. Embassy.
  According to an Associated Press story, here's how Lochte described the event when interviewed on NBC's "Today" show:
  "We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns. They told the other swimmers to get down on the ground. They got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn't do anything wrong, so I'm not getting down on the ground.  And then the guy pulled out his gun. He cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, 'Get down,' and I put my hands up. I was like 'whatever.' He took our money. He took my wallet. He left my cellphone. He left my credentials."

Monday, August 15, 2016

This Election Cycle, McMillan and Johnson Might hurt Hillary in Utah

   A common argument is that Libertarian Gary Johnson and independent Evan McMullin are only going to take votes from Trump and end up tossing the election to Hillary.
  As far as Utah goes, though, that might be a flawed argument. What it comes down to, is are there more people who will vote for anyone but Hillary, or more who will vote for anyone but Trump? And, how many will never vote for either.
  In Utah, we are not allowed to just write in a candidate. We can only vote for those on the ballot and those registered to be write-in candidates. I won't vote for Trump, but if Hillary is the best on the ballot, I might vote for her.
   So, when Evan McMullin came along, it greatly reduced the chance that I will vote for Hillary. Though I am historically more inclined to vote for Republicans for president, that is not the case this election cycle.
  I am not so sure but what there are a fair share of Republicans and independents who feel the same as I. They will consider Hillary if she is the best the ballot has to offer, but they will not consider Trump.
   As far as all these votes go, though they tend to vote Republican, theirs are votes being taken more from Hillary than from Trump. It would be good to see a survey on this, to determine whether Johnson and McMullin are more likely to take votes from Hillary than from Trump.

If They are Energized to Create an Education System, Plug into Them

   Perhaps the movement to let local districts do away with Common Core and to let communities come up with their own education courses and standards should be tapped into.
   Tap into the energy of the people who would go it their own way. Let them. Encourage them to come up with education programs in their own communities that are the best to be found. If they are energized to do better than what Common Core is doing, if they are all fired up to make their education systems better than they are elsewhere, they might just be driven enough to come up with something good.
   Now, if they are only going to be in this as far as dumping Common Core, and not energized to come up with an alternative, you lose that advantage. But, if they are excited about coming up with their own programs, let them. Those who have a fire for something are the ones you want creating it and carrying it out.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Love Begats Goodness, and Hatred Begats Evil

The things a person loves dictate what he becomes. If a person loves cars, he might become a mechanic, or a racer, or a car collector. The things we choose to love mold us into what we become. Conversely, of course, the things we decide to hate also affect who we become.
But note this, also: Choosing to find things to love instead of things to hate, tends to make a better person. So, if you would be a good person, find things to love. If you, instead, choose to find things to despise and to condemn and to find fault with, you may canker your soul. The tendency to become a wicked person is enhanced by allowing yourself to hate others.
This should make sense, should it not? If being good is simply in treating others well and doing good to them, will you not be so much more ahead by loving them? For, if you love them, you will naturally do good to them.
It is said, that the first great commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And, the second commandment is like unto it, to love thy neighbor as thyself. And, note what the scripture say next: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. I find new meaning in that, now. If love brings us to do good, then on our love of others will hang a tendency to do all good works.
It is love that guides us to do good, and hatred that chases us to do evil. If you would be good, learn to love.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

When the Buyer has to Buy, the Cost will be Inflated

   With the morning paper, comes news that the costs for Medicaid are soaring well beyond what was anticipated.
   I have a thought: Whenever you leave an open checkbook on the table, someone is going to write themselves a nice, little check. If you leave your checkbook there, and say, "Go ahead, write yourself a check for however much you will," Someone is going to do it. If, when we set up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we crafted it so that someone would pay the bill (the federal government), but we did not place adequate constraints on how much they would pay, we erred.
   The usual procedure for holding prices down, in a free market system, is that the buyer does not have to buy. If the price is too high, he can say, "No, I think I'll pass. You go sell your goods to someone else." But, in this case, Uncle Sam is being told he must buy the product. The Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- mandates that he must buy the product.
   You can imagine what havoc would be wrought if we did this elsewhere in our economy. What if car dealers got Congress to pass a law saying we all had to go out and buy new cars? We must buy them, no choice. And, what if those car dealers could name their own price, as to how much they were going to charge for their cars?
   Sooner or later, you'd have a news story on how the prices for new cars were soaring well beyond what was anticipated.
   This would not be a good system for selling cars. I'm at a loss as to why we think it is such a good system for selling health care.


Are we not Suppose to be a Virtuous Nation? How this, then?

  Open today's newspaper to page three and find a full-page piece on Rep. Rob Bishop taking $100,000 from oil and gas companies at a time when he is crafting legislation governing those same oil and gas companies.
  Oh, that's right, its an advertisement, not a news article.
  Still, it is no less newsworthy.
   How we, as a nation, tolerate such combinations, I do not understand. Are we not supposed to be the most virtuous nation on the face of the earth? Do we not suggest our principles of governance are the most pure? Yet, what is happening with Rep. Bishop happens with virtually all members of Congress: They take campaign money from those seeking legislation, and then pass legislation, at least in part, based on the money they receive.
   Some would suggest this is bribery. I think you would have a hard time arguing it is not, at least, very akin to bribery.
   So, to think that the most virtuously governed land on earth has such a wicked practice built right into its system . . . well, it means we are falling way, way short of being a wisely and virtuously governed nation.
   There is a great dispute going on. On one side, environmentalists want to keep public lands from being developed. On the other side, the oil and gas companies are asking for development. Among the judges in the matter, are our senators and representatives. It is they who listen to the two sides and decide what shall be done, which side will be granted what and which side will be shorted what.
    Now, if one side comes up with a $100,000 incentive, perhaps we should consider whether the judge is being bought out. If we want him to be fair and even-handed, this is not the way to do it.
   How we go year after year with this system of governance, with no one raising a finger to change the system, is beyond me. Some more fair-minded member of our Congress should step forward and say, "This is wrong. Yes, I will rise against it. Yes, I will stand against it. Though I might be the only person in these two legislative bodies to raise my voice, I will do so."
   There is a problem with such a scenario ever coming about: Each of the legislators is less likely to raise their hand against this practice if they, themselves, have taken such money -- and virtually all of them have.
 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Drew Steele's Program Centers on the Final Three Months

   This could prove interesting, a radio show devoted to the 2016 presidential election. Not a program geared towards news, in general, or politics, overall, but one centered just on the election. What happens when the election is over? Does the program go off the air?
   "Your Voice Your Vote: 2016 with Drew Steele" debuted tonight. It's an interesting format. It seems the program will cover other issues, as I heard him talking about a Facebook facility coming to the valley, but the fodder for the program is the 2016 presidential election.

Our Ex-Cons need to be Employed

   Perhaps it is more important for the ex-prisoner to have a job than anyone else. I say a society operating on all cylinders -- doing everything it can to improve that society -- does not let its ex-convicts go unemployed.
   If he does not have a job, he is more likely to drift back into crime.
   As it currently stands, there are some employers, I'm would guess, that do seek to help the ex-con. But, for the most part, employees shun them. For the most part, that part on the application that asks if you have ever been convicted of a crime, screens out the ex-con, leaves him unemployed.
   I do not fault the companies for not hiring the ex-con. For the most part, you get a better employee by screening him out. But, from the angle of what is good for society, we need these people in jobs.
   So, we must change things. Forgive, but if we were a really responsible society, we would change this. We would encourage more companies to employ ex-cons. And, wherever there was not enough companies stepping forth to employ them, we (yes, government) would create jobs for them. This would be a difficult task, I realize, for you do not want to increase government spending. The companies created would have to be self-sufficient, paying their own way.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Why not Utah do its Voting Like the Constitution Suggests?

   One of the little-known nuggets of the Constitution, is that the president and vice president are not suppose to be elected as a joint ticket. And, I suppose when the voting is done at the Electoral College, the voting probably is done separately. I should like to attend the Electoral College vote this coming year, to find out.
   But, what about this? Why not, in Utah, change our popular election to mirror the way the Constitution says the Electoral College should do it? Why not have the vice presidential candidates listed as distinct and independent entries from the presidential candidates?
   Just to be keeping things in line with what the Constitution suggests.

Confession Leads to Change

   Met a reformed alcoholic today. Didn't have time to talk to him much. But did pause to ask him what brought him back, and his answer interested me greatly.
   He said he talked about it, to friends. Now, I say one of the steps to change, is to confess your wrong. If you cannot admit you are doing something wrong, how can you ever get away from doing it?
   So, I thought what the reformed alcoholic told me to be of great worth. Here was an individual who had overcome alcoholism, and what he judged to be the key factor in his change, was what amounted to confession.

The Prisoner and the Assembly Line Job

 Not at all prisons, but at many, work is being under emphasized. A friend today suggested we should have assembly line manufacturing at our prisons. Maybe make shoes for Nike and all the other shoe brands.
   Some inmates are not capable of some work, but most can do assembly line labor. Why not have  them do it, then? We compete with foreign labor, compete with pay well below the various minimum wages we have in the U.S. But, prison labor could provide us with competitive labor.
   As I consider my friend's suggestion, however, I wonder about the automation of our day. I wonder how many assembly line jobs have already been swept away by robots. I guess I am amazed there are any assembly line jobs at all left. It seems automation could be doing every one of them.
   Still, even with automation, the prisons could still do assembly line manufacturing. The idea is to give them work. So, why not?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'The Second Amendment People -- Maybe there is, I don't Know'

   I wonder if we shouldn't be just as rough on ourselves as we are on Donald Trump, in regards to his comment on how the Second Amendment people could do something about Hillary Clinton and the judges she might appoint to the Supreme Court.
   "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks," he said, then added, "Although the Second Amendment people -- maybe there is, I don't know."
   We could dismiss Trump's comment as just a phrase he didn't really mean. Don't people often say things like, "I'm going to kill you," totally in jest? Such comments, depending, can be absolutely meaningless. No harm intended, none invoked, none incited. But, other times, such comments come with some seriousness. Sometimes, you catch a person using such a phrase meaning it, somewhat. Although you know they aren't going to actually go out and shoot the person they are threatening, they sometimes say they truly wish that person would die.
   Therein lies a comment of harm.
   Such comments plant seeds, both in the heart of the person uttering them, and in the heads of some who overhear them. They influence us for evil.
   So, such comments range from being not harmful at all, to being seeds of great harm. I do think we overuse such language, and for the most part, would be better off not using it.

Prison should be a Time to Practice being a Good Person

   If we are to reform our prisoners, we should tailor them while in prison to be the kind of persons we want them to be when they get out. We should treat their time in prison as practice time, time to practice being what we want them to be when they get out.
   And, what does that mean? It means we should have them working in jobs they can have when they have when they get out. It means we should have them interacting with their family members in kind and loving ways as the family members visit them. It means we should develop interests in them in prison that they can take with them when they leave.
   Prison should be a time for practice, a time to practice being what society wants you to be.
 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Are We to Ban the Belief that Homosexuality is Wrong?

  What are we saying? That we should ban the belief that homosexuality is wrong? That it should be illegal to believe homosexuality is wrong?
  I don't know that freedom of belief has ever been so challenged. Talk about thought police, I don't know that the freedom to think as you will has ever been under greater assault, in America.
  A person can believe homosexuality is wrong, and still treat the homosexual with love and acceptance. Indeed, I and many others believe this is exactly what we should do. We do not believe in showing intolerance toward them, nor hatred, nor belittlement.
  It is not our beliefs that should be outlawed. We should not be forced to think and believe as others do. But rather, if we mistreat the homosexual, that should be outlawed.
   At this juncture, then, the question becomes, what is mistreatment? Is BYU mistreating someone if it says homosexual behavior cannot be practiced by its students? Does an organization have the right to establish a code of conduct on such things? BYU also sets standards on dress, on hair length, on drinking and smoking. Is it to be considered discriminating against longhairs, and smokers and drinkers, then?
   Should we have a law, as well, that you cannot discriminate on the basis of smoking and drinking?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Is the Electoral College Meeting Open? Because I'd like to Attend

   I think I should like to go to this meeting, if it is open to the public. It seems it should be counted as one of the more significant meetings of the year, yet I don't know that anybody shows up to watch it. I don't know that anyone from the media even attends. Or reports on it.
   So, I could go, write my story and scoop (so to speak) all the newspapers and television stations. Don't quit reading News Travels Fast, because exclusive stories like this beckon and await you.
   I speak a little tongue-in-cheek, but I am somewhat serious. Though the Electoral College election is a formality, it still seems it should be significant enough that someone from the public, and someone from the media, should show up to monitor it. I read in Amendment XII that, "The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice President . . ."
   That means there's a meeting of electors right here in Utah, probably right here in Salt Lake, and I don't know why I shouldn't be allowed to attend and cover it. I could monitor the process, gather quotes from some of the electors, find out if they are regulars, and ask them their opinions on the process. It actually might be a worthy story.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Protections are for the People, so Why so Much Classified Info?

   Thirteen times, then, that our own nuclear weapons almost blew us up? And, in most situations, we were not told until long after the fact when the information was finally declassified?
   A free and open society does not withhold this type of information from its people. They, the people, were almost killed -- in large numbers. That's news. To suppress it is wrong. They, the people, have a right to know that they were almost killed. Rather than the government having the right to protect itself from embarrassing and unflattering information, it is the people who have rights.
   When you find yourself drifting towards currying the image of government officials at the expense of the public's right to know, perhaps you are drifting back to the ages when kings and queens ruled, and they suppressed information that would compromise their reputations. This is America. This is another age. Our protections are for the people, not so much the ruling class. And certainly we should not have protections against disclosing unflattering information of government officials at the expense of the people having the right to know something as essential as that they just about got blown to bits.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Simply Lab Experiments Suggest Global Warming is Real

    Why all the dissension over global warming?  Seems to me the question of whether global warming exists can be answered simply by taking the "greenhouse gases," putting them in a laboratory setting, and demonstrating that they do cause temperatures to rise.
   Knowing such studies must surely exist, I google, and find an article that says, "The greenhouse effect is well-established science, and experiments that demonstrate the effect on a lab scale are common to the point that they are often presented in science fairs."
   So, you've got greenhouse gases in the air in large amounts as a result of fossil fuels. I reason that they probably are in larger amounts than we would find going back in history. Cars and factories cover the earth, emitting the gases continuously and voluminously. Could there ever have been so many fires or so many volcanoes or could there ever have been a set of conditions that caused greenhouse gases in the amounts we are now seeing?
   Well, perhaps.
   But, the fact remains that the greenhouse gases we now are experiencing demonstrably do raise the temperature. Regardless whether there have been other factors during the history of the earth that also spiked the temperature, this one, too, is real. And, an over abundance of fires and volcanoes would have went away on their own good time, this is a factor that will not go away unless we do something about it.
   Also note this: Regardless whether you can prove the earth's temperature was rising long before our carbon emissions came along, our carbon emissions did come along, and the effect of their coming along is rising temperatures. Science is not ambiguous on this. Your proving that the earth's temperature is rising naturally does not disprove that carbon chemicals also cause it to rise.
   I think we should keep this in mind as we debate climate change. Perhaps we can question whether the change is enough to cause damage, but I don't know that we can question whether the climate is being warmed by fossil fuels.

http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/29200/what-experiments-prove-the-greenhouse-effect

Friday, August 5, 2016

If U.S. Almost Nukes its Own People, We Deserve to Know about it

   Two years ago, the Deseret News published a story on the times nuclear weapons almost detonated on American soil.
   How many such accidents do you suppose there were? I don't know if the Deseret News caught up with them all, but there were 13 in the newspaper's listing -- 13!
   "13 times the U.S. almost destroyed itself with its own nuclear weapons," reads the Deseret News headline.
   As I have been blogging about classified information, I, of course, got thinking about it from that perspective. If such information is not classified, but rather shared with the media, each one of these incidents, on the day it happened, would have been major news.
   I don't believe the news should have been classified. I thank our government for eventually releasing the classified information, but I don't think it should have been classified to begin with. If you just about blew some of us to smithereens, yes, I think we have a right to know. What was the information classified? Because of a threat to national security? I beg to differ. National security was not threatened. We may have been embarrassed. That may have caused the classification.

Note: Blog added to the morning of 8/6/16.

http://www.deseretnews.com/top/2605/0/13-times-the-US-almost-destroyed-itself-with-its-own-nuclear-weapons.html

https://nsarchive.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/635.pdf



Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Law on Classified Info Shouldn't be set by Executive Order

   The system for classifying government information is outlined by (surprise, surprise) Executive Order 13526, signed by President Obama Dec. 29, 2009.
   Executive order, you say? Somehow, it seems the law on how we go about classifying things ought to come from the legislative branch, if for no more reason than to maintain checks and balance. Letting the executive branch make its own rules for what it will withhold from the  public smacks a little of conflict of interest. If the government wants to protect itself from embarrassment on a matter, or from scrutiny, and all it has to do to stop it is to say, "No, you can't look at that," then, it is going to say, "No, you can't look at that."
   There are laws that have come from the legislative branch that lend to this issue, the Espionage Act of 1917, the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, but there is no comprehensive act that covers all aspects. For that, we are left to President Obama's executive order, which replaced a previous executive order governing classifications. In fact, I understand Obama's is but one in a long line of executive orders on the topic.
   Why we allow the executive branch to set the law on this, I do not understand. It is the legislative branch that is to suppose to make the laws. And, allowing the executive branch to make its own rules on what it will make public robs much of the power the public has to monitor government.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Does the Constitution suggest the V.P. Shall be Elected Separately?

   I've scratched my head on the Twelfth Amendment the past month, going back to it again and again, wondering if it indicates we are not electing our vice president in the manner designated.
   It says the vice president should be elected separately from the president. They are not to be elected as a team.
   You read the 12th Amendment. It is speaking of how the Electoral College votes shall be counted.
   " . . . they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, an in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each . . ."
   Well, I'm guessing that maybe, when the Electoral College votes, it does, in fact, vote separately for president and vice president. It's just that everyone just happens to vote for the vice presidential candidate that corresponds with the presidential candidate.
   Surely, we are following the Constitution to that degree, aren't we?
   Down further in the Twelfth Amendment, it says that if the election does not result in a winner by March 4, "then the Vice-President shall act as President." It says the person receiving the greatest number of votes as vice president shall be that vice president, so it is clearly talking about the vice president just elected, not the one leaving office.
  But, if the votes have been cast for as a ticket, then the vice-presidential race is going to mirror the presidential race and  be as unresolved as is the presidential race. This indicates, then, that they should be elected separately, not as running mates.
   I guess it can be argued that the voting in the Electoral College can be done with separate tallies, even though the candidates run as running mates. It seems, though, a great argument can also be made that they should run independent of each other, and not as a ticket.
 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Here's a Signal that We are Classifying way too Much

   I wonder if we allow our government to too easily classify information. When I read how Wikileaks has a database of 1.2 million documents, and I assume a fair share of them are documents classified by the U.S. government, I cannot help but wonder that so much classified information could be spread before the public without some definite, obvious, can't-deny-it damage being done to U.S. security.
   I mean, if we only classify information that could endanger us, and this much information has been released, and we see no crying damage being done . . .
   If we only are classifying information that endangers national security, a single leak should cause damage.
 

Why aren't Tesla and SolarCity Making Money?

   I wonder if something is wrong here. I read how Tesla is buying SolarCity. The funny thing is, that the article says both are money-losing companies.
   What? Tesla is the most notable maker of electric cars on the planet, and it sells its cars at an expensive price. SolarCity is the nation's largest provider of residential solar panels at a time when the market is flexing its muscles.
   And, these two companies are losing money?
   Who knows why, but it is good to wonder. Are the companies mismanaged? Are they paying their employees too much? Are they reporting inaccurate figures to avoid taxes? Or, is it simply that they aren't making money? I think it is good to wonder, for it seems these two companies should be making a profit. As a public, yeah, I think we have a right to know.

What if Government had the Same Restrictions on Guns?

   Those who oppose unauthorized immigration -- better know as illegal immigration -- make it a point to note they are not against lawful immigration. All they are asking, they say, is that the immigrants come legally, that they abide by the laws of the land.
   I wonder if we should stop to think about what the law is, then. Why not break it down to what it amounts to?
   I'm thinking, the only law they are breaking is a law that takes away their freedom. The only law they're breaking is an edict saying they are not free. Tell me, if the government came up with an edict saying you were not free, how would you take to that?
   I know a many who make it no secret that if government tries to take away their freedom, they will pick up their guns and put up a fight. I kind of wonder why they don't grant that the illegal immigrant should feel the same way. Instead of telling the immigrant, "Just do it legally," maybe they should consider whether they would require the same of themselves. If the government limited their freedom by putting the same restrictions on guns that there are on immigration, how would they feel? What if the government limited how many guns the public could have, and you had to wait in line for, say, five years before you were allowed to buy a gun.
   And, what if the government said, "Hey, we're not against you having guns, we just want you to do it legally"?
    Some of the restrictions, indeed, might be the same. The government says, you can't have a gun unless you register it. And it says, you can't come to America unless you register. But, the difference i in how easy it is to register for a gun, as opposed to how difficult we make it to register to live in America. You can go to a gun show and walk in and get a gun, on the spot. And, as I pointed out, there is no cap on how many people can have guns.
   Let's make it just as easy for the immigrant. Let him walk up to the border, register, wait as long as a gun buyer does for a background check, and then come on in.
   Immigration, styled after our gun laws.