Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year of Self-Promotion Passes

At year's end, I offer a big THANKS to my blog partner Anonymous D, my guest posters, and supporters.

It has been a great year for the blog with ever-increasing numbers of page views, a few, at least, I suppose are actually being read. I've had some great comments this year including one from Britain on Camelot and another solving a family history question about Native American rock art in Idaho. I've also linked up with some dear old friends who found me here which is very gratifying.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Latest News on the Fiscal Cliff

Yesterday, I was at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor and at the refreshment table, some very conservative friends started up a conversation on the fiscal cliff. (Remember, I live in south Davis County, Utah and was at a Boy Scout function). There was no mention made of the President but there was a lot of talk about the irresponsibility of Congress and this rather surprising statement from my friends, "I don't see why there's any problem with raising taxes a little on the rich."

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Open Letter to the NRA

Dear NRA:

This is a picture of my NRA Sharpshooter badge I was so proud to earn at Scout Camp in 1971. I love target shooting. Always have. I never was a hunter except for pheasant with my 20 gauge shotgun. I am a gun owner but not an NRA member. If I were a member, I would resign. And I am seriously considering getting rid of my two guns. I don't even want them to go to any other person as I would hate to have them used as tools for blowing holes in some living thing, possibly a human. They are tools made for that purpose after all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Debt Limit Merging with Fiscal Cliff

Well played, Mr. Geithner, well played!

Secretary of Treasury Giethner just issued a letter to Congress informing of the need to raise the artificial and imaginary debt limit by December 31 (five days from now, for those who are counting). This directly links to the other artificial and unnecessary crisis of the fiscal cliff that Congress created for itself and seems unable to resolve.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Shepherds - A Poem by Henry Vaughan

Govert Flinck (1615-1660) Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds
More Poetry of Henry Vaughan this Christmas morn while I await the awakening of my family:

Monday, December 24, 2012

The True Christmas

17th Century Yule Re-enactment
The True Christmas 

So stick up ivy and the bays,

And then restore the heathen ways.
Green will remind you of the spring,
Though this great day denies the thing.
And mortifies the earth and all
But your wild revels, and loose hall.
Could you wear flowers, and roses strow
Blushing upon your breasts’ warm snow,
That very dress your lightness will
Rebuke, and wither at the ill.
The brightness of this day we owe
Not unto music, masque, nor show:
Nor gallant furniture, nor plate;
But to the manger’s mean estate.
His life while here, as well as birth,
Was but a check to pomp and mirth;
And all man’s greatness you may see
Condemned by His humility.
Then leave your open house and noise,
To welcome Him with holy joys,
And the poor shepherd’s watchfulness:
Whom light and hymns from heaven did bless.
What you abound with, cast abroad
To those that want, and ease your load.
Who empties thus, will bring more in;
But riot is both loss and sin.
Dress finely what comes not in sight,
And then you keep your Christmas right.

(1678) Poem by distant ancestor connection (sharing the surname) Henry Vaughan who understood the true Christmas.

Le Nain, Antoine and Louis (d.1648) & Mathieu (1607-77)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

That Whosoever Believeth in Him

"Should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

That was the assignment to speak on for my 10-minute Christmas talk today in Sacrament Meeting. A Sister just two houses down was assigned the first part of the scripture. I called her yesterday to make sure our messages were complimentary and mainly that she wasn't going to use the same scriptures I was planning to use. I think we're OK.

I post here to lay our my thoughts with a scheduled publication to match my approximate delivery - not that anyone in my ward reads this blog much. My wife said this all sounds a little self-indulgent. I tried to explain that was the purpose of blogging . . . .

My method is to concentrate on pondering the scriptures and the theme and my talk will likely come out a little different that what I write here. I hope any changes reflect the influence of the Holy Spirit and not just my human stumbling. (And I admit helpful input from my dear wife). But I'd better just move on to the talk:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NRA Solution to Traffic Fatalities

Obvious logic. Cars don't kill people. People kill people. So, what we need to reduce traffic fatalities on our roads is a lot more good people who truly love their cars constantly driving around ready at a moment's notice to ram their car into someone who is about to crash, thus reducing deaths caused by bad people in cars. Sure, that ought to do it.

And we all know cars kill more people than guns. Well, maybe not in a few states. Data from 2009 (most recent statistics available):

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice!

Standing Stone at Stone Circle above Blaendigeddi Fawr, Wales
on the Road to Gospel Pass and the Vale of Ewyas
Celebrate! The world did not end. The dark nights will grow shorter. The sun will return to the northern sky. Celebrate the Light!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Easing over the Fiscal Cliff

So far, the only victim of the fiscal cliff is Speaker Boehner, whose Republican House refused to support him on his "Plan B." Even they saw the phoniness of it. But it does seem that the secret tea party plan to destroy the Republican Party is working just fine.

Today, we got a memo by email about the fiscal cliff and possible effects on the Department of the Interior. I don't see any problem in sharing it here as it appears to be a public document and the Press has the Department of Defense memo which says essentially the same thing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Soul of America

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." Scripture and Lincoln.

We are a terribly divided nation. Brother against brother. Parents against children. Communities against other communities. The recent slaughter of innocent children hurts and wounds us all. And our approaches are so different and provoke more bitter division. A very well-thought out piece by my moderate Republican blogger friend expresses some of this very well.

Here are my thoughts:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How Being an Oregon Native Nearly Got Me into a Duel with a Virginian

While one of the typically bland gold on blue flags common to many states of the Union, the Oregon flag has some unique characteristics. The covered wagon pulling oxen would seem obvious from the famous trail. And there is a hint of evergreens and agriculture along with the golden sunset into the Pacific with an old sailing ship and modern (for the day) steamship.

But note the year prominently displayed. That gives a clue to the important slogan on the scroll "The Union." Yes, Oregon was established as a Free State for Free Men [and Women] in defiance of the interests who would spread slavery into Western Territories to become Slave States furthering the power of Southern Slave lords who practiced "the Divine Right of Kings." As Lincoln put it, "You work and I'll eat the bread."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The NRA, the ACLU, & the Criminally Insane

Just a thought. I intend to do a full report on a really good book I've been reading that I have almost finished. But I just read this today:
At first nothing more than an association of sportsmen, the NRA in the 1960s came under the leadership of militant gun libertarians who fought fiercely and adamantly against any and all forms of gun control, and their rhetoric was even more belligerent ("the best defense is a strong offense") in the aftermath of the assassinations of JFK, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King. Concurrently, the ACLU came under the leadership of zealots who abetted the national movement in the 1960s to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill--to protect their "right" to live in squalor in the parks and on the streets of America. A powerful trend was thus established through the work of these very different zealots: it is now very difficult (impossible, in fact) to keep dangerous lunatics away from our loved ones. Here was an apt libertarian convergence of the left and the right to make our public places as chaotic and dangerous as possible. Striner, Richard Lincoln's Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power (Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland 2010) p. 181.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Oregon, Connecticut - Our Lives, Our Children

As I'm not a big follower of the NFL, I declined to comment on recent gun violence there. I thought I would give the mall in Oregon a little time to settle down. But the murder of innocent, young children in Connecticut  today breaks my heart and fortifies my resolve. There will be many more tragedies of  gun violence before this stops or ever slows down.

Guns don't kill people, they just make it oh so much easier. We must stop seeing guns as tools to solve problems. The troubled souls see our gun culture promoting weapons that so easily kill as problem-solving tools - including arming for self-defense. Some even see these violent tools as a way to prevent such tragedies. "If only the teachers were armed!" maybe students? Kindergartners?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Confession Time: Yes, I am a Utahn

Let's face facts. I've now lived the majority of my life in Utah even if in segments (1975-76, 1978-82, 1987-91, and 2005 to present). That adds up to sixteen years, two more than I lived in New Mexico, which even beats out Washington (State) where I lived for only twelve years - even if very formative developmental years (ages 4-16). I was merely born in Oregon, even if proud of that fact. There were those wonderful five years in Maryland. And if you're trying to add up my age, we just won't account for the lost years (Idaho. Oh, and Wyoming - nearly wiped from my memory banks).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Finding Bull Puckey in Conservative Economic Arguments

From Anonymous D:

Ok, so I just read an article by Thomas Sowell, notorious right winger.  His article, which was a three-parter, probably because it was more than three pages long, discusses the current fiscal cliff. Amusing stuff really.  In said article he states that revenue actually went up after the Bush tax cuts, gives you the source to the budget report used by the White House, and is kind enough to give you the page. He actually got the source wrong but I found it anyway.  Herein lies the danger, I actually took the time to look up the source material. Turns out, if not complete B.S. it’s at least close enough to smell terrible. 

Tax Receipts in billions

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Not Grover Cleveland!

Separated at birth:

One of these is a furry monster, the other is a character on Sesame Street. One is a no-tax lobbyist who wants to shrink government small enough he can drown it in a bathtub. The other wants little kids to take baths. One refers to "poopy-heads" and "impure thoughts," the other teaches good manners to young children. One controls the Republican Party with a series of pledges at least as strong, if not stronger, as the oath to uphold the Constitution. The other is a puppet.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's A Wonderful "Dleep!"

"Every time a bell rings, an Angel gets its wings" -Zuzu of the Petals.

Not original to me because I've heard Temple workers joke about it before, but it came again last night as I was waiting in the lobby of the Bountiful Temple next to the Recorder's Office where I could here the sweetly toned "dleep, dleep, dleep" of names scanned into the computer after Temple work was completed on their behalf.