Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ken Ivory's Public Lands Luau

The Utah State Legislature is still in session for a few more days. I've been trying to avert my eyes but I slipped today and read an article from a few weeks back about Utah State Representative Ken Ivory's bill for Utah to "take back" the public lands (Hint No. 1: you can't "take back" what you never had).

And I admit I was already aware of another odd Ivory bill from my blogger friend at Utah Political Summary. That blogger is a perfectly rational moderate Republican, a vanishing breed. I don't exactly see Rep. Ivory that way.

But back to the Luau.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Nature of Government Question by Anonymous/D

My good friend and brother-in-law, the rock musician formerly known as Anonymous/D, sent me an e-mail as part of our ongoing exchange regarding some of the comments we get on the blog. With his permission, I cut and paste this from him:

This is a Nature of Government Question you are not going to get past in a blog entry or even a lifetime of them.

I've been reading excerpts from depression era literature essays and history lately. It's fascinating stuff. That generation is almost gone and in its place we no longer have a generation that believes that government can or should help, or that one of the roles of government is to make life less hellish economically or any other way for its citizens. The new role of Government, according to this old philosophy made new again, is to get the hell out of the way and let business do its thing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Wall of Separation Is Needed between Santorum/Gingrich/Romney and US

Santorum, Gingrich, and yes, even Romney are reminding us why our First Amendment is so important. We are all free to worship, or not, according to the dictates of our own conscience and the government should not in any way establish our religion. The Wall of Separation is a sacred principle to me.

Maybe New.FamilySearch DOES work!

With the recently renewed controversy on violations of church rules NOT to do Temple work for Holocaust Victims. (DON'T! You can face church discipline as well as being cut off from the web access, besides just proving yourself a total jerk), it is good to know that the self-regulating and correcting portions of the system do actually work.

I've been somewhat annoyed recently going past my grandparents on the "Me and My Ancestors" tree because it shows the little green arrow for temple work to be done when I know that it isn't needed. I had seen that someone had made an erroneous entry about one of my uncles.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Romney & Reaction

I started this as a comment on yesterday's post, but it got way too long for to handle.

As a further exercise in self-indulgent over-explaining, I changed the initial title of my post of yesterday for which I would have used the cross-out strike-out feature but it's not available in that title box. It originally said "Romney Renounces His Mormon Heritage" which, as admitted in the first line of my piece is a little bit of hyperbole, yet not without a good faith basis, some of which is still in my pocket perhaps for later blogging.

Anyway, I thought it might be informative here to cut and paste in some comments from a Facebook friend who took some objection and did spark my decision to edit the title to tone it down slightly. His first comment was a bit intemperate and included several typos which I interpreted as evidence of angry writing. He later deleted that and toned it down to his credit - and I am grateful. And while I still wonder why some prefer to comment on the FB links rather than here, I will preserve anonymity confidentiality here [by using only initials] as I think it might be because of this blog being totally open to the world as opposed to just the mostly known friends and connections on FB. Here goes:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Romney Disrespects (rather than Renounces) His Mormon Heritage

OK, "Renounce" is a bit strong, but actually more accurate than what Romney said about the current President of the United States last night:
"I don't think we've seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we've seen under Barack Obama"
Really? Worse than President James Buchanan sending the U.S. Army to Utah Territory to put down a supposed Mormon insurrection? Worse than President Millard Fillmore Martin Van Buren who said to Joseph Smith, "Your cause is just but I can do nothing for you" when the Saints were forced to leave the State of Missouri under Governor Boggs's Extermination Order? Worse than the Presidents in the late 19th Century who signed a series of anti-polygamy and anti-Mormon legislation governing the Territory of Utah including the confiscation of church property?

A Newt Is Cheerful

Maybe it was just me, but it didn't seem like there was much to that Republican Debate last night. The newt got in the best line in response to a silly question from John King to describe themselves in one word, the newt looked rather annoyed as each tried to outdo the other on steadfastness and conservative cred. As the last the answer, the newt with his evil grin said, "Cheerful." I'm just glad Romney didn't say, "Severe."

And then there was the first question of the night from the audience by Gilbert from Gilbert. And I was just hoping for someone to say, "Well, Gilbert from Gilbert . . . ." But they didn't.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bishop Romney? Or Father Rick?

Some pundits have pontificated that Santorum may try to use his late surge to end up as Romney's VP choice. Others say that Romney will need a solid social conservative like Santorum to shore up his base (remember how well that worked for McCain?) But the latest I see is that it may be the other way around. Maybe Romney wants to ingratiate himself to surging Santorum on the culture wars. Or what is Mitt thinking trying to bash the President on the religion issue? had this headline, "Romney says Obama has fought against religion"  And it raises the question, what religion is the President fighting against? Romney's? Or Santorum's? I don't think they're exactly the same, and based on some of the other rhetoric among the Republicans and their religious supporters, there seems to be a bit of a difference of opinion on religious legitimacy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Government Is Good

I'm not making this up, people. And it's not just promoting my self interest. As a federal employee, I'm tired of being a whipping boy for everybody's self-interested complaints about what they don't like. I went to work for the federal government as a patriotic duty to try and do a little good in the world. It's about time more of us promoted that good with some participatory democracy with hope for the future and our divinely inspired Constitution.
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. D&C 134:1
One of the most pernicious false doctrines today is the idea that "Government Is the Problem." Government is not an inherent evil as anarchists and extreme conservatives promote -- not even in the sense of another misguided theme that the less there is of it, the better.

You Meet the Most Interesting People in Prison

Back to my project of transcribing my 2nd-Great-Grandfather's prison journal, I found his account of an execution with a rather spooky postscript. Grandpa Wood was in for unlawful cohabitation which he believed not a crime as he maintained his religious beliefs and practices took precedence over federal territorial law. It is interesting that throughout the journal he drew a clear distinction between his people or the "Cohabs" and the criminal element he called the "Tuffs" [or "Cons."]

The subject of the execution was a "Tuff" who had perhaps broken both the laws of man and of God. According to the Deseret News, Fred “Welcome” Hopt was executed for the July 3, 1880 murder of John F. Turner of Provo, Utah. Turner was a teamster and the son of Provo’s sheriff. Hopt had a history of several run-ins with the law and supposedly had sworn vengeance against the sheriff and his family. He was convicted of hacking John Turner to death with an axe while the young man was sleeping at camp near Park City. The body was found a week later in Echo Canyon where it had apparently been dumped by Hopt.

The diary transcription follows. Spelling and punctuation are as in the original:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Personal Revelation 101

As I have already blogged on "practical spirituality," I have some healthy skepticism caution even within my own religious tradition. For me, spirituality has to mean something even if I sometimes have to wait patiently to understand that meaning. Until then, I've learned to be quiet about it. While respecting the claims of personal revelation of others, I tend to remain skeptical because I've learned to be cautious with my own.

I can best explain with another example from my own missionary record. First, the context-- As explained in my piece about the MTC dedication, I spent some extra time there in what was then the LTM or Language Training Mission. And that was somewhat of a disappointment. After our scheduled eight weeks of intensive language training and memorization of missionary discussions, four of our district of eleven elders left for Portugal. We remaining seven were left waiting for our visas to go to Brazil.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Not Following Goldwater

My first historical memory is the Kennedy assassination as I referenced here.  My first political memories come from the summer of 1964. That was an interesting year in politics. And my little memories helped lead me to my passionate moderate philosophy.

The first is rather vague but we were at the Washington Coast with some friends from Idaho. It must have been Kalaloch or Ocean Shores because the beach wasn't rocky. We found a series of arrows marked in the sand.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ye Elders of Israel, Come Join now with Reid

My wife, still a Republican, was questioned recently why she wasn't supporting Romney, "Don't you believe he's the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Elders of Israel will rise up to save the Constitution hanging by a thread?" My wife's response was, "Why couldn't it just as well be Senator Harry Reid or someone else?"

In spite of the generally ignored disavowal by the LDS Church of the White Horse Prophecy, it still hangs on through the tenacious threads of  folklore, and maybe for some, as justification for the candidacy of Mormon Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ordeal by Picnic

In Carson City for work, I can't help thinking as I do every time I'm here on these slopes heading up to the Sierras about the Donner Party. When I was only about twelve years old I read George Stewart's, Ordeal by Hunger, a classic history of westward pioneers who didn't plan or execute well and suffered disastrous consequences. My parents had that book and overhearing that it was some scandalous story, I sneaked a read and ended up awake all night until I could finish.

About the same time, we took a family trip and visited with some old college friends of my parents who lived in Reno. They took us to a picnic up at, yeah, Donner Lake. I couldn't eat a thing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Severity in Defense of Anything Is Still a Vice

Maybe I do deserve that psychological profiler certificate. I think I figured it out.

Confused along with many by Mitt Romney's statement that he was "a severely conservative" governor of Massachusetts, I realized that it was likely a split-second mind-slap from his father, George Romney, gone awry.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dedication of the Provo LTM (MTC) 1976

Waking up this morning, oftentimes the best time for inspiration, I realized that I had another "Eye Witness to History" piece I needed to write (well, cut and paste mostly). Due to the mixed blessing of having my visa to Brazil delayed after my mission call, my group spent some extra time in the Provo LTM (Language Training Center) as it was in the process of becoming the physical facility now known as the Provo Missionary Training Center.

We reported on our first day at Knight Magnum Hall on the BYU Campus. We were housed in Maeser Hall in Heritage Halls, usually a girls' dorm but vacant for the summer. We ate at the Morris Center at Deseret Towers. But we started our classes in the just completed classroom buildings at the new LTM. Over the nearly five-month wait for our visas (about the same amount of time the Prophet Joseph was in Liberty Jail), we moved into the new facility building by building as they were completed. And I was there for the dedication on September 27, 1976. My contemporaneous account follows:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bishop Romney: "Severely" Conservative?

After Santorum's big wins last Tuesday, Romney came out with some very personal stories. It may have been calculated in an attempt to "humanize" him a little more. And I found it perfectly credible and sincere. As reported by CBS News:
"In my church, we don't have a professional ministry, and so people are asked to serve as the minister or the pastor of the congregation from time to time, and I had that privilege for, I think, over ten years," he said. "And in that capacity I had a chance to work with people who lost their jobs, in some cases, or were facing other financial distress, losing their homes and I found that those kinds of circumstances were not just about money or numbers, they were about lives and about emotions.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sleeping with the Ancestors

Arthur's Stone, above Dorstone, Herefordshire, August 15, 2010
Merbach Hill and the Black Mountains (Wales) in the far distance
Last night I went to bed late and I got up this morning way too early so this evening I'm still in an other-worldly daze. I went to sleep last night ruminating on the Roger Vaughan problem in my family history work. My researcher consultant thought that the Roger Vaughan who showed up as "the grandfather" in the Hay Vestry records in our critical year of 1789 would be a fairly unique name. Maybe in most parts of Wales, but not in the valleys along the Wye and over to the Usk. This is probably due to the famous forebearer, Roger Vaughan, defender of the King at Agincourt, whose effigy lies just down the hill from this 5,000 year old burial site. If one ancestor lies in close proximity, is it possible more ancient ones were buried in this tomb?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Romney Is Still Inevitable (Well, for the Nomination)

Don't worry, my friends. Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri in the Santorum sweep are non-binding primaries. Romney still has every advantage in money, delegates, money, endorsements, money, etc. What he is facing is the inevitable self-destruction of his party trying to figure out who they are. Is it a socially conservative last stand in the culture wars? A lot of that is coming up with all the challenging issues before us out of the 9th Circuit and Health Care reform requirements on women's reproductive choices.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Broken Heart for the Powell and Cox Families

Can I write this? I don't know how to express the overwhelming horror of the tragedy. I don't feel anger or blame and I am not connected to any of the family members with their varying stages of grief.

I suppose there is still a slight chance that the father was innocent in the disappearance of Susan and was driven to an irrational and sick act by the hate of irrational and sick cyber-bullying or personal and family conflicts we will never understand. But it seems most likely that he confirmed his guilt in the original disappearance with much of his behavior thereafter, especially his last, horrifying and premeditated act of evil.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Kent, 14% of People Know That!"

Sigh. No doubt some of you have seen this going around the internets:

I could make a chart of my own including figures like this:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Magical Grandmother

My wife is a good mom. I mean, she doesn't dote on our kids and she can be kind of demanding at times. Yet, they are all turning out pretty well and I don't think that's much because of me. But she is an excellent Grandma.

She spoils our two grandsons absolutely rotten. It's not that she over-indulges (well, except for the constant cookies and treats) so much as she just exudes that unconditional love that exists skipping the generation in the middle. We love their mother, our daughter, too, but those grandsons--they can do no wrong and they return the love in buckets.

Friday, February 3, 2012

All the Young Dudes Carry the News

My brother and I about 1973
I still get a little anxious as the 5th of every month approaches. That's the day I had to make sure my bill was paid to the Seattle Times. As a paperboy, I was not a direct employee but some kind of "independent contractor" who had to collect the subscriptions from my customers and turn over my cost of the papers to the newspaper. Putting aside my first experience in dealing with "the Man," it was a good to learn a little responsibility and clear enough cash to buy some candy bars, comic books, airplane models, and record albums. My wants and needs were simple.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to Talk about the Poor

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast today reminds us to care for "the least of these."