Showing posts from October, 2007

(How) Do You Celebrate Halloween?

Some people celebrate Halloween, while others don't. My family?--we enjoy the heck out of it. (Not quite as much as the people who made the guy in the picture at the right, but...) What's your take on Halloween?

Last year, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke on Halloween at the Tuesday morning BYU devotional. As if to erase any doubt about the LDS church's stance on Halloween, he started out his speech by asking the camera person to zoom in to get a close-up of his jack-o-lantern tie.

Some friends of ours absolutely will not celebrate Halloween. Their kids do not dress up, and they do not go trick-or-treating. Their family actually leaves the house on Halloween night and does something fun together, in part so they won't have to answer the door and hand out candy.

Our kids are going all-out dressing up for school today. They are dressing up as Jack Sparrow, a Civil War hero, a US Army soldier, Cindy-Lou Who, and Sandy-Lou Fifties Who. We need to get better at the ou…

When You Get to the Edge of the Universe, You Run Into a Brick Wall

On several different occasions as a child, I would sit on the living room couch, stare at the wall, and try to imagine what it would be like if nothing existed. I still remember vividly how the walls and doors in the entryway to my boyhood home faded to black in my imagination. And my head hurt.

Later, I began to realize that I really could not imagine nothing, because the blackness that I had imagined was actually something. To this day I can instigate similar pain as I try yet again to comprehend the mortally incomprehensible.

I must not be the only one in the world who thinks this way, because my wife had similar contemplations as a child, and every one of my children has had the same series of thoughts. Occasionally we traverse onto the subject in our Monday night Family Home Evenings, and their heads begin to hurt, too. Especially when put on my evil grin and remind them that their imagined blackness of nothingness is actually something.

But that's just fine to have such thou…

Somebody Forgot to Remind the Government about Daylight Savings

A buddy of mine was spittin' mad this morning. He woke up late and was thus late to some important meetings he had to be to. What happened? He relied on the government to keep his clock running correctly.

I checked my PDA-phone, and it has the correct time. So does my computer. But the government's computers don't.

Back in 2005, the government got all sophisticated-silly and decided it would be a huge payoff to change the date on which we switch to daylight savings time. I was irritated by it then. Now, when the government can't even comply with its own edicts, I'm even more perturbed.

They've had two years to notify everyone of their stupid change--setting our clocks back on the first week in November rather than on the last week in October. And they still can't get it right.

My friend has a clock that is linked to--and gets its time from--a government satellite. Today is October 28th, which would have been the day we set our clocks back an hour for d…

Patrick Byrne's Voucher Comments Were Not Racist

In a recent debate on school vouchers, Patrick Byrne defended vouchers on the basis that they would likely help minority students in Utah in a very dramatic way. Leave it to those who oppose vouchers to contort the meaning of his statements and imply that he is a racist.

Question: What percentage of Utah minorities in public school never graduate from high school?

Answer: 40%. Vouchers can help this problem.

Rebuttal: You are a racist.

Patrick Byrne, CEO of, and supporter of vouchers, made the point recently that failure to graduate from high school is nearly akin to a death sentence for most students who don't graduate. Here are his words:
Right now, 40 percent of Utah minorities are not graduating from high school. You may as well burn those kids. That's the end of their life. That's the end of their ability to achieve in this society if they do not get a high school education. You might as, just throw the kids away.My interpretation of this statement is …

Real vs Faux Science in the Global Warming Debate

Now that the furor over Nobel Scientist Al Gore has died down, lets look at some of the real science of global warming. How about science from people who have actually investigated the issues? For example, is CO2 related to global warming? Yes, but not nearly in the way that the IPCC shills might have you think.

The US National Science Foundation has further confirmed the scientific observation that increases in carbon dioxide happen years after natural global warming cycles, and that CO2 does not contribute to global warming on near the scale that was once thought.
Its the strongest evidence for the Greenhouse Gas theory of global warming -- that warm periods in the earth's past were typically accompanied by rises in atmospheric carbon dioxide. But that evidence is under serious attack, from new research funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The research team, led by Paleoclimatologist Lowell Stott, demonstrated CO2 levels after the last Ice Age started to rise some 1…

Who's Afraid of the Constitution's Enumerated Powers?

Republican Representative John Shadegg from Arizona has sponsored the Enumerated Powers Act in the United States House of Representatives every year since 2002. It has not yet become law. It would "require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes." Pretty simple, huh? Ron Paul is one of its co-sponsors. Guess which 2 representatives from Utah are not sponsors? (1 is currently a sponsor)

Here is the ENTIRE text of the bill:

To require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Enumerated Powers Act'.


(a) Constitutional Authority for This Act- T…

With Donors Like These, Why Are You Voting for Giuliani or Clinton?

It's interesting to look at where the largest donations are coming from for the top-tier political candidates. It gives you an idea of what favors are going to be expected if a particular candidate becomes president. You might be surprised at who is donating to Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton. They can be divided into three categories: (1) employees of the moneyed interests (2) employees of the media interests, and (3) employees of the legal interests. These are the same people who are NOT donating to Ron Paul. Consider what you want your country to look like in four years. If you like it the way it is, continue your support for the establishment candidates. If you don't like what your country is becoming, consider voting for Ron Paul.

It has become more frustrating to me the more I think about it that elections are determined largely by how much money is spent. The money effect has become very evident in the 2008 presidential campaign. I am beginning to wonder if a …

Chief Justice John Roberts Gives Impressive Speech at BYU

I'm not sure if it was planned that way, but it was helpful to me to be able to listen to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts speak at BYU only a couple weeks after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke. It gives me a much better basis to understand why I disagree with Harry Reid. Both speeches were impressive--no doubt. I came away from Senator Reid's speech knowing that he is a good man, but filled with emotion at how I disagreed with him. But as I sit down to write my review of Chief Justice Roberts' speech, I know that, in addition to he also being a good man, I came away from his speech feeling much more intellectually and spiritually satisfied.

It's a difficult thing for many to accept, but the law is the law, and it doesn't change just because we want it to be changed. The Constitution is law. Chief Justice Roberts accepts this; Senator Reid does not, at least completely.

Justice Roberts reminded listeners of his speech matter of factly that our …

Another Look at Utah Education Vouchers---13 Years Hence

I was pretty sure I had this Utah school voucher thingy figured out. And then something suddenly came up. You know those approximately 17,000 students that are currently in the Utah private schools, and that therefore don't qualify for voucher money? In 13 years, they won't be in the private schools anymore, because they will have grown up and graduated. But the generation of students that will have replaced them will qualify for vouchers, and they will likely number many more than 17,000. That means it's going to cost the state a lot more than I thought to implement vouchers. So does that change my opinion on vouchers? It almost does, but I've thought about it, and my opinion remains the same.

Yesterday I was browsing Utah Bloghive, when I came across this post on Jeremy's Jeremiad. He linked to this post on Green Jello, where Pramahaphil got looking more closely at the cost of vouchers and decided to change his opinion and oppose referendum 1. I was taken …

Don't Blink

Is life really going faster these days? It sure seems like it to me. Is it because we're too busy? Or is a second just not what it used to be? Whatever it is, if you blink it's almost gone.

When I was a kid, the days seemed to go on forever. Not anymore. One of my theories is that since each day becomes an increasingly smaller part of the life we've lived, that each day seems to go by faster. Then again, I have a friend who makes a good case that the earth really is spinning faster.

Well, my oldest is now 16 and driving like a mad woman. And my youngest will turn 8 in about a week. The fact that a lot of my life has passed me by is staring me in the face.

One of the things I like about (some) country songs is that they get you to refocus on the important things in life. A new one by Kenny Chesney is called Don't Blink. It starts like this:
I turned on the evening news
Saw a old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what's the secret to…

School Vouchers: Helping Many More Utah Students Graduate

Public schools, especially in Utah, are all about leaving no child behind. Yet 16% of Utah public school students do not graduate from high school. It is very likely that an education voucher would be many of these students' tickets to a better education, to include high school graduation.

Public schools are essentially a one-size-fits-all paradigm. Yet one size does not really seem to fit all. Charter schools have significantly remedied this problem, and thousands of Utah public school students are thriving in various charter schools throughout the state. Several thousand more are taking advantage of another choice--home schooling. Until I spent a year in Iraq, my wife and I had home-schooled our children. While I was gone, our children were put into a K-12 charter school. We are very impressed with it, and all of them, continuing in that same charter school, are doing very well in their studies.

Apparently, we need to have additional choices, however. The State of Utah, a…

Social Welfare Programs: A Response to Senator Harry Reid

In his recent BYU address, Harry Reid stated that social welfare programs have been very successful in the United States, and that Social Security " is the most successful social program in the history of the world." During his speech, and in the context of social programs, he quoted King Benjamin from The Book of Mormon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Senator Reid and I share the feeling that it is important to reach out and lend a helping our to each other when we are in need. Our methods of providing this service, however, are diametric opposites.

During his BYU speech, Senator Reid said this:
But never forget the clarion call of King Benjamin: “When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.” ...

To what then, was King Benjamin referring?

...I suggest that King Benjamin would consider the Peace Corps, Teach for America, work in a non-profit to help the poor or the sick as commendable service. ...

I propose King B…

"An Inconveniently Untruthful Assault on Reason" by Al Gore

The news reported today that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize because of his work toward understanding global warming. Ironically, The news also reported today that Al Gore's movie about global warming has been deemed largely fiction by the British High Court. A research organization is now also asking that his Oscar award for his film "An Inconvenient Truth" be withdrawn. How come I can't get that much press?

I have written on SUMP before that I actually appreciated much of what Al Gore wrote in his book "The Assault on Reason". I've also written here that I think he is 'up in the night' about global warming. But as ABC News is reporting, a recent development couldn't have come at a worse time for Al Gore. The British High Court has ruled that
Gore's global warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth," while "broadly accurate," contained nine significant errors.I'm not sure that the Nobel peace guys and gals are s…

Ron Paul and the Theory of Two Speeding Cars

If two speeding cars are heading toward a cliff, and one is going 100 miles per hour, but the other is only going 70, if neither makes a course correction, they will both ultimately crash and burn into several little pieces when they hit the bottom. One will get there sooner, but other than that, there's not much difference between the two results. America is approaching that cliff, and the two cars are labelled Republican and Democrat. Which one is going faster? You decide. But it doesn't really matter.

Unless you vote for Ron Paul that is.

I told my friends the theory of two speeding cars when George W. Bush ran against Al Gore in 2000. I voted for neither. I told my friends this theory again when GW ran against John Kerry in 2004. I voted for neither. In both cases I feel completely vindicated. It wasn't hard BEFORE THE FACT to see that neither driver of either car put forward by their party would correct their respective suicide courses.

So why the heck did ever…

Glenn Beck's Ron Paul Obsession

It's not often that a political party gangs up to destroy one of its own. But the attempt is in full swing against Ron Paul. Now and again Glenn Beck gets in on the act. He acts like he hates Ron Paul, when he actually seems to agree with him in most of his show monologues. What's propelling Glenn into apoplexy? Any ideas? I've got one...

The establishment is getting vewy vewy newvous. Ron Paul is changing the Republican presidential dynamic; several other candidates are becoming stealth me-too candidates. Maybe the establishment got this ball rolling a bit too early. Ron is getting up a head of steam, and he may shoot into the limelight come February. He raised a crapload of money during the past quarter, and now his goal is to raise $12 million by the end of the year-$4 million per month. And he's already got $500k in the first few days of October.

Mike Huckabee is raising FAR LESS than Ron Paul, yet somehow he is registering higher in the polls than Ron P…

Harry Reid Gives Impressive Speech at BYU

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came to BYU today. There was a fairly large turnout to hear him speak at the Marriott Center. No, he didn't say anything about Rush Limbaugh. But he did have some pretty interesting things to say. I didn't agree with all of them, but I now have a much more firm basis to respect him as both a person and a politician.

Update 10/10/2007: Senator Reid subsequently says some very unimpressive things about "right-wing" members of the LDS Church.

Many people would rather listen to entertainers like Rush Limbaugh to get their information about what kind of person Senator Reid is. That would be a dire mistake. I decided to go to the source, and I am glad I did. I enjoyed what I discovered. Senator Reid said in his speech that "I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon," and not the other way around. I found his sincerity about his political beliefs genuine. I agree with him that people of various political parties can be tru…

Parents for Choice in Education Advocates Against School Vouchers

Parents for Choice in Education seems to me to be a seamy, mysterious organization. Yet they are here in Utah advocating on behalf of school vouchers. Wouldn't it be interesting if, at some time in the future, it were revealed that PCE actually was working to see vouchers defeated in Utah? Based on some of their tactics thus far, you would have to color me not surprised at all.

There are several good reasons to support school vouchers in Utah. But it is important to remember that good people are on both sides of this issue. Parents for Choice in Education, a national group, interjected itself somewhat mysteriously into the voucher debate in Utah, inflaming it into a controversy. I wrote previously on SUMP, that my greatest fear about education vouchers in Utah is that
...when the smoke clears, the activities of the voucher battlefield will have inspired an even more vitriolic baseline for the future of our political warfare.It now seems that Parents for Choice in Education has …

Christian Burridge's Scriptural Interpretation Misses the Mark

It has essentially always been the stock in trade of Republicans to quote scripture when it suits their purposes or when they can find an interpretation of it that so suits. It's now becoming more de rigueur among Democrats to quote scripture.

Although his containing article brought up a good point, a recent attempt at scriptural interpretation by Salt Lake County Democrat Party Chairman Christian Burridge flew wildly wide of its mark.

Mr. Burridge was frustrated by the fact that President Bush vetoed--and several members of Utah's delegation had voted against--increasing the amount of federal funding for health care for children in poverty. Here's what he had to say in a letter to the Deseret News that appeared a few days ago:
I was astounded to hear that members of Utah's congressional delegation voted against SCHIP. Shame on President Bush for vetoing the same bill. Again, these GOP actions reveal that Cannon, Bishop and Bennett value perverse ideological priorities …

Illegal Music Downloading: Guilt or Innocence?

I remember when I was a kid, I used to record music off the radio all the time onto my 8-track tapes. It supposedly was illegal, but I didn't think much of it. Is it any different today in the world of MP3s?

Jammie Thomas decided that she wasn't going to settle with the recording industry for the tunes she had downloaded illegally. So the case went to court. Today, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a boatload of money.
The recording industry won a key fight Thursday against illegal music downloading when a federal jury ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 for sharing copyrighted music online.

The jury ordered Jammie Thomas, 30, to pay the six record companies that sued her $9,250 for each of 24 songs they focused on in the case. They had alleged she shared 1,702 songs online in violation of their copyrights.

"She was in tears. She's devastated," Thomas' attorney, Brian Toder, told The Associated Press. "This is a girl that lives from paycheck …

Who Would You Vote For If You Had A Gun To Your Head?

It's getting pretty sad if the prospects for President of the United States are so bad that we have to play a game called "Who would you vote for if you had a gun to your head?" I don't need a gun to my head, because there is clearly one candidate that is an easy choice for President. Ron Paul.

Yesterday on the Glenn Beck show, Glenn and his staff played the "gun to your head game". It's too bad that they feel so anxious about their choices for President that they would play such a game.

Several of them chose Rudi Giuliani. There are several Democrat candidates that I would vote for before I voted for him. Some others wanted Mitt Romney. A better choice, but still not the best one. Everyone is talking about the strangeness of the Mormon faith in conjunction with Romney. I rather think it's important to point out the strangeness of Mitt Romney's apologies for the Mormon faith and his backing away from some fundamental issues, such as aborti…