Friday, July 31, 2009

Listening to the wind

Growing up in Arizona, especially in northeastern Arizona on the Colorado Plateau, you get a lot of opportunity to listen to the wind. The wind tells you a lot about what is happening around you and what might be coming. A wind from the south and east brings clouds and rain. A wind from the north and west comes only in the winter and brings cold and sometimes rain. Because of a huge stationary high pressure area over the Four Corners, winds blowing from the south and west seldom bring anything except hot, dry weather.

Since I was a lot younger and spending time outdoors on the Plateau, I have noticed that the wind patterns have changed. Not enough to notice from day to day, but over a year's time the clouds no longer move in the same directions and the weather is not so predictable. I used to watch the sky and could tell within a few minutes when the rain would begin, now it is not so easy. I used to watch the lightning over the White Mountains and now this is a rare event and not just because I no longer live up on the mountain.

Watching the country and our society, I see a shift in the way our country is drifting. It is just like the wind, the changes are mostly subtle and only noticeable over a long period of time, but just like the changes in the storm patterns on the Colorado Plateau, our country is fundamentally different than it used to be.

One marked change is that I notice that people have generally become entirely materialistic. They want the latest large screen TV, the latest, newest and most expensive gadget, car or phone. No one seems satisfied with what they have, they always want more, more food, more entertainment, more free time, more vacations. Almost no one lives a conservative life style, even young, newly married couples I know, want and take international cruises and trips to exotic locations. All people talk about at work, besides the latest illness or accident, is what they are going to purchase or where they are going for their next vacation. These are not wealthy people, but young married and unmarried people who are making an average or below salary.

Recently, I saw an announcement for a business expansion. The Chief Executive Officer extolled the virtues of their newly enlarged business with a "host of guest amenities, including flat-screen televisions" and "free valet drivers to park your car." The public was invited with their families for a free tour and light refreshments "so they can get acquainted with the new space first hand." You might imagine that this was a hotel or restaurant, no, this new expansion was a hospital emergency room! Just think about it, you are in the middle of having a heart attack and you think, I have to go to the new hospital because they have flat-screen televisions.

The fact that a hospital would even think it was necessary to have such advertisements is a clear indication of the change in our society. Who would have thought that I would choose my emergency room based on valet parking and light refreshments.

This attitude towards life is so materialistic as to be offensive. Nothing in the article says anything about the degree of care you might receive or the competency of the doctors, all that seems important to the hospital and probably to the general public, are the amenities. With all the current controversy over the rising cost of health care, maybe we need to see if emergency room patients really need flat-screen televisions.

We often look to a change in the wind as being beneficial. In this case the changes that are coming into our society are destructive and like the wind when it gets too strong, may end up destroying our society entirely.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What is the "kiss-in" protesting?

Recent local news articles in the Salt Lake City Deseret News tell about a series of protests held by pro-homosexuals at or near The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters and Temple. The incidents have occurred, as reported, on private not public property.

These incidents could be viewed a highly local disturbance were it not for the overtones of religious persecution involved. Accounts of the incident leading up to the protests do not appear to differ much in the facts, but the characterization of the facts by the gay activists is passing into the propaganda stage.

The supposed treatment of the two gay men cited for trespassing on July 9th, is obviously not the issue. To give some perspective to the incident it is important to know that Temple Square in Salt Lake City attracts some 3 million to 5 million visitors a year, Temple Square is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah. By comparison, Utah's five National ParksZion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches— had a combined total of 5.3 million visitors in 2005. The tourist traffic on Temple Square is also more than that of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. Wikipedia.

With all these people every year, you can imagine that the behavior of the two men must have been out of the ordinary because over the years I have seen some pretty strange people and incidents in downtown Salt Lake City. But, having been to Temple Square many, many times, I can say that the security is almost invisible.

So why the protests? It goes without saying that if these same people were protesting almost any other establishment their actions would not be tolerated. It is only because they know that in Salt Lake and with the LDS Church, they will not be publicly excoriated that they will protest at all. It is "OK" to blatantly attack the LDS Church's sacred belief's at the center of the religion because, after all, they are just "Mormons" and it is alright to turn the arrest of two drunks into a national incident because the Mormons do not accept the Gay Rights lifestyle or agenda. At its heart, the protests are anti-religious. Their ire is directed at the Church's beliefs. What happens to freedom of religion if Gay Rights activists can attack a Church for its beliefs?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perhaps it is a time to reflect

Think about the words to this familiar song:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
How much of what Mrs. Howe wrote would be politically acceptable today?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Failure of Morality

In a descriptive sense, morality derives from either a written or unwritten code of conduct which is held by the society to be authoritative as to what is "right" or acceptable or "wrong" and therefore unacceptable. Descriptive morality is usually based on some ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people. Wikipedia.

No society can exist without morality. Because we live together and interact, we must have some predictive norm in our interactions. The Book of Mormon describes, in graphic detail, the collapse of a society that abandoned its moral structure. Quoting Third Nephi, Chapter 7:
2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land. 3 And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes. 4 Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great. 5 Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan. 6 And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets. 7 And they did cause a great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous men among them.
This passage describes a society where "secret societies" that is, individuals who had combined to circumvent the laws and morals of the society, had succeeded in abrogating both the law of the land and norms by which the society was able to operate. Today, in the United States, we have the same challenge and perhaps, with the same results. We have specific organizations whose goals both publicly expressed and private or secret, are to destroy the social and moral fabric of our society. The most vocal of these organizations and individuals claim the protection of their rights as the basis for the destruction of the family, community and the government of the entire country. They would remake society in their own selfish, self absorbed goal of power over the rest of the country.

Again, to the Book of Mormon, at one point, the entire society of the people, the Nephites, was threatened by bands of robbers. It is noteworthy that the head or chief robber Giddianhi wrote a letter to the head of the established government, Lachoneus. Giddianhi first claimed that the existing government was not legitimate:
3 Nephi 3:2 Lachoneus, most noble and chief governor of the land, behold, I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so.
Noteworthy is how Giddianhi ended his claim to take over the government
3 Nephi 3:10 And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs. I am Giddianhi.
There is a striking parallel between the attitude of these robbers and those who would challenge our own government today. The key claim was for "rights" and the accusation against the established government was that in denying the robbers their "rights" the established government, not the robbers themselves, was "wicked." Presently there are those who would claim that personal rights as determined by the individual are superior to any other consideration. In taking this position they would ignore the very foundation of our nation, our liberty and ultimately our freedom. As it says in the Constitution of the United States of America:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Our founding fathers did not forge a nation of individuals asserting their individual rights above the common good, but they established a Union in order to establish justice and insure domestic tranquility. Let us remember that we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all and that justice mandates that we serve the common good, not to be replaced with the selfish desires of individuals who would destroy the common good for their own selfish and self serving ends.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

America is a really beautiful place. It is through the brotherhood of all Americans that good comes to our fair country and through God's grace.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Isaiah 52:7 says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" The pilgrim's feet were beautiful because they published peace and because the acknowledged the hand of God in the establishment of this country.

We are so caught up in apologist rhetoric that we can no longer credit the greatness of our past of those pioneers who crossed our continent to establish our great country. America is great because it is good, if it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.

We need to look to God for divine assistance in mending our flaws, not the government, not welfare not new federal agencies but the God of the Land who is Jesus Christ.

We are confirmed in our position of wealth and prosperity only through self control. Nihilistic self-serving narcissism is not the answer, self control and obedience to law is the answer. Only through observance of our God given system of laws can we have true liberty.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

The negative attitudes against our great country are a sad commentary on the sacrifices made by our valiant soldiers in war and in peace. Our gold is not just in the rocks of the earth but also in the blood running in the veins of those who have nobly sacrificed their lives to preserve our liberty. Our gains must be in accordance with divine will and there is no true success without a noble character.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

It was the dreams of our American patriots that gave us the great system of laws and government we have today. The only way to achieve those alabaster cities undimmed by human tears is to follow the mandates of that just God who gave us our liberty in the first place.

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

May we all so live that we can indeed see our souls wax fair as earth and air and music-hearted sea.

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

Again, we can only negotiate those "wilds of thought" upon the terms and conditions decreed by and through the grace of our just God.

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

We are now in danger of losing the banner of the free, not just to flag burners and detractors, but through turning from the selfish stains on our banner of the free.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

The American patriots will not be forgotten as long as there is one man or one woman who treasures the hope that nobler men will once again keep God's whiter jubilee.

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. Ether 2:12.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Money Does Not Equal Better Education

After a recent post about the quality of education in the U.S., I received a lengthy comment. You may wish to return to that post and read the comment. At the heart of the criticism was the following statement made about student's need to learn history and math, and I quote:
*Should* they know? of course they should. everyone should. but it won't happen until we spend more money on education - until we actually treat education as a priority. right now, schools are basicly "teaching" students how to take tests, because this is the cheapest way to do it. the whole system needs an overhaul.
This started me thinking about school funding and whether or not there was a correlation between increased spending in education and student learning. I was surprised to learn that there is a correlation, but it is a negative correlation. Actually, the more we spend the less we get for our tax dollars and the less the students learn and know.

At the beginning of this post there is a chart showing the increase in spending per-pupil over the past thirty years or so. The Heritage Foundation examines statistics from The National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education, which publishes extensive data on education in its annual Digest of Education Statistics.
The conclusion from an examination of the statistics is summarized as follows:
Many people believe that lack of funding is a problem in public educa­tion, but historical trends show that American spending on public educa­tion is at an all-time high. Between 1994 and 2004, average per-pupil expenditures in American public schools have increased by 23.5 percent (adjusted for inflation). Between 1984 and 2004, real expendi­tures per pupil increased by 49 percent. These increases follow the historical trend of ever-increasing real per-student expenditures in the nation's public schools. In fact, the per-pupil expen­ditures in 1970–1971 ($4,060) were less than half of per-pupil expenditures in 2005–2006 ($9,266) after adjusting for inflation.
From the figures I previously quoted concerning actual declines in academic performance, it is clear that throwing more money at the problem is not the answer, although as expressed by the commentator it is the traditional radical liberal solution to every social problem, either form a new governmental agency or spend more money.

Driven by the need to justify the expansion of spending, the education establishment has focused on extremely narrow indicators of student competence, i.e. standardized testing. It would not look good to the American public to have all that increased spending going to waste, would it? Let's make sure our standardized test scores show that the students are actually learning something, even if what they are learning is drivel.

Who benefits from this increased spending? The teachers? Median annual earnings of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $43,580 to $48,690 in May 2006; the lowest 10 percent earned $28,590 to $33,070; the top 10 percent earned $67,490 to $76,100. Median earnings for preschool teachers were $22,680. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average salary for traditional public school teachers increased 4.5 percent in 2006-07 to $51,009, according to the AFT's latest teacher salary survey, marking the first time average teacher pay exceeded $50,000 and the first time since 2003 that teacher salaries surpassed the annual rate of inflation. American Federation of Teachers.

In short, even the teachers are being paid more, but money does not seem to address the real issues here.

More later.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No sense of historicity

One of the major developments in education I have seen during my own lifetime is an almost complete collapse of the study of history in schools. By the time I went through grammar school (now a misnomer) and high school, they (the radical liberals) had managed to eliminate geography as a subject, but we did have history, even a course on the history of Arizona that was quite detailed.

With the introduction of standardized testing and standardized lesson plans, there is no longer any room in the curriculum for anything having to do with history. Now, they have "social studies" and include a very limited view of certain historical events. Children now get all the way through high school without ever hearing about the Babylonians, the Romans, the Greeks or anything else, although they might have a unit on some aspect of minority history or the U.S. Civil War but the teachers now manage to teach the Civil War without mentioning U.S. Grant.

Likely, anyone born since 1950 has only a very sketchy understanding of the history of the Americas, including the early colonies and up to the Revolutionary War. Quizzing some of my grandchildren, I find that few have heard of most of the major figures of American history and have only the vaguest idea of even major events in U.S. history, like World War I and many of my grandchildren are in "advanced placement" whatever that means.

In looking at the "social studies" books it is evident that the selection of topics is highly skewed towards those dealing with minority issues at the expense of mentioning even the most famous of our non-minority prominent people. However, this decline in an understanding of real history is only part of a greater decline in Western Culture and Civilization. Cutting ourselves off from the past only guarantees that we will lose whatever measure of civilization and civility we have left.

This decline was noted in a recent news article by the Publisher of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. Quoting from Joseph A. Cannon,"For some years now, notable historians, philosophers and other scholars such as Jacques Barzun, John Lukacs, Alasdair MacIntyre, Pierre Manent and a host of others have diagnosed and chronicled the rise of the modern West and its gradual descent to the present. Barzun's magnum opus, "From Dawn to Decadence, 500 Years of Western Cultural Life" is one such chronicle. Lukacs, in "At the End of an Age," "describes how we in the Western world have now been living through the ending of an entire historical age that began in Western Europe almost 500 years ago."

In another quote Cannon says, "This intense focus on the emancipation of the individual led to a humanism which "is accordingly charged with inverting the relation between man and God, with atheism and the secularizing of society." The result of this individualism, humanism and emancipation from authority results in a culture that "is old and unraveling."

My observations are not unique about the decline of history education, from an article entitled "American Students and the Decline in History, by Michael Streich, he says, "In a November 25, 2007 Washington Post story, Naomi Wolf presented the bleak facts: “…only 47 percent of high school seniors have mastered a minimum level of U.S. history and civics, while only 14 percent performed at or above the ‘proficient’ level…” (“Hey, Young Americans, Here’s a Text for You”). She further writes that middle school students in most states are not even required to take classes in civics and government."

This lack of historical understanding would not be such an issue, if those who are beginning to run the country were not in the same category. The latest crop of government bureaucrats grew up during this dearth and they do not exceed the norm. In a Intercollegiate Studies Institute report on "Our Fading Heritage" the major finding include that Americans fail the test of civic literacy. The Instituter's study noted that the vast majority of Americans can no longer even recognize the language of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and less than half of the Americans tested could name all three branches of the government.

I suggest that it would be hard to find a college student today who had read even one of the The Federalist Papers or who even recognized the name of Thomas Paine.

We are not only on our way to moral bankruptcy, we are already bankrupt of knowledge of our past and like the proverbial ship without a rudder, we are cast on the sea of the future without a guide.

Let's start today by reading some of our basic historical documents, like the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and maybe a good history book about Western Civilization, but nothing written in the past thirty or forty years, please.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Unforeseen legal effects of same-sex marriage

In the single minded focus of the liberal media and same-sex marriage advocates on granting equality in the area of same-sex marriage there is an entire disregard for the overwhelming impact legalizing same-sex marriage will have on our entire legal system. These issues must be arising in those states that recognize same-sex marriage, but they are obviously not getting any media exposure at all.

The changes in the laws will unevenly affect women and children in a negative way. Although both sexes seem to support same-sex marriage, the effect will be to dramatically reduce the advances made for the protection of women and children in our society. Many of the laws that have been passed protecting these members of our society will be modified out of existence in the name of uniformity and equality.

Here are a very few of the areas of the law that will undergo substantial adjustment assuming substantial passage throughout the country of same-sex marriage laws. entirely negative, I might add that this effect will be entirely negative.

1. The impact on divorce laws.

In every instance of same-sex marriage, if there are children involved, the children will not be the natural children of at least one member of the marital community. Although this is the case in situations involving prior divorces and remarriage, it will always be the rule for same-sex couples. Some states are adopting a new standard with respect to the traditional emphasis on the rights of a natural parent. That standard is articulated as and holding that a natural parent who voluntarily relinquishes custody of a minor child, through a court of competent jurisdiction, has forfeited the right to rely on the existing natural parent presumption. This presumption will undergo even further changes, likely eroding the rights of natural parents to custody of their own children. In many jurisdictions the mother has been given the priority of custody. That rule will undoubtedly change.

Because of no-fault divorce laws, spousal maintenance (formerly alimony) has all but disappeared in the U.S. What is left of spousal maintenance will disappear completely leaving many women in an even worse situation than they presently are.

In many divorce cases the division of property has been strongly influenced by a desire to provide for the "wife." If there is no "wife" then the laws will all change, probably to the detriment of wives everywhere.

2. Inheritance laws

Many states still recognize the dower rights of the wife. Who will be the "wife" in a same-sex marriage? Dower rights will disappear, it is impossible to predict what will replace it.

3. Real estate and personal property laws

Some states recognize community property laws instead of the common law. Community property laws developed to protect the "wife's" interest in the real property. What will happen to community property laws and the protection they provide if there is no "wife?"

Do we really want to re-design our entire legal system around the so-called rights of a small and very militant minority? Do we want to abandon our whole cultural and social system just so a vocal minority can feel good about themselves?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gay Rights -- a cascading tyranny of nihilistic hedonism

Gay Rights is a movement masking its true objectives behind a facade of equality. Support from outside the Gay community for so-called Gay Rights comes primarily from those who have no understanding of the history of modern radical liberalism. Couched and trained by those who grew up in the activist movements of the 1960s and 70s, those supporting the so-called Gay Rights have an agenda that is directly in opposition to all of the fundamental cultural and societal norms across the entire culture of the United States and beyond that the entire world. To quote the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto:
We will show you how we can use our righteous anger to uproot the present oppressive system with its decaying and constricting ideology, and how we, together with other oppressed groups, can start to form a new order, and a liberated lifestyle, from the alternatives which we offer.
Far from being the oppressed group they wish to portray to the media, they are as a group nothing more or less than an extension of radical liberalism. The societal institutions attacked by the Gay Rights agenda include the family, quoting again from the Manifesto:
The oppression of gay people starts in the most basic unit of society, the family. consisting of the man in charge, a slave as his wife, and their children on whom they force themselves as the ideal models. The very form of the family works against homosexuality.
The schools;
In the content of education, homosexuality is generally ignored, even where we know it exists, as in history and literature. Even sex education, which has been considered a new liberal dynamic of secondary schooling, proves to be little more than an extension of Christian morality. Homosexuality is again either ignored, or attacked with moralistic warnings and condemnations. The adolescent recognising his or her homosexuality might feel totally alone in the world, or a pathologically sick wreck.
The church;
Formal religious education is still part of everyone's schooling, and our whole legal structure is supposedly based on Christianity whose archaic and irrational teachings support the family and marriage as the only permitted condition for sex. Gay people have been attacked as abominable and sinful since the beginning of both Judaism and Christianity, and even if today the Church is playing down these strictures on homosexuality, its new ideology is that gay people are pathetic objects for sympathy.
They continue with attacks on the media, employment, the law, psychiatry, to continue the quote;
But gay liberation does not just mean reforms. It means a revolutionary change in our whole society.
Not even monogamy is immune from attack by the Gay Rights advocates;
Monogamy is usually based on ownership-the woman sells her services to the man in return for security for herself and her children-and is entirely bound up in the man's idea of property furthermore in our society the monogamous couple, with or without children, is an isolated, shut-in, up-tight unit, suspicious of and hostile to outsiders.
Their goal is to indoctrinate the young to abandon any semblance of our current society;
The long-term goal of Gay Liberation, which inevitably brings us into conflict with the institutionalised sexism of this society, is to rid society of the gender-role system which is at the root of our oppression. This can only be achieved by eliminating the social pressures on men and women to conform to narrowly defined gender roles. It is particularly important that children and young people be encouraged to develop their own talents and interests and to express their own individuality rather than act out stereotyped parts alien to their nature.
Here are a few of the goals of the movement;
  • that all discrimination against gay people, male and female, by the law, by employers, and by society at large, should end.
  • that all people who feel attracted to a member of their own sex be taught that such feeling are perfectly valid.
  • that sex education in schools stop being exclusively heterosexual.
  • that psychiatrists stop treating homosexuality as though it were a sickness, thereby giving gay people senseless guilt complexes.
  • that gay people be as legally free to contact other gay people, though newspaper ads, on the streets and by any other means they may want as are heterosexuals, and that police harassment should cease right now.
  • that employers should no longer be allowed to discriminate against anyone on account of their sexual preferences.
  • that the age of consent for gay males be reduced to the same as for straight.
  • that gay people be free to hold hands and kiss in public, as are heterosexuals.
In short, the goals of the Gay Rights movement include the utter destruction of our entire society. Remaking that society into a system where deference to "sexual preference" overrules every other consideration. Even if I were sympathetic to some of the goals of the Gay Rights movement, which I am not, I would still reject a stated goal that would undermine and destroy my own beliefs and cultural background in the name of someone's claim of a right to have a personal sexual orientation. I will not do that and I will not accept any such attack on my religious, cultural, legal and societal beliefs.

In my next post I will address the issue of the impact of these goals on the American legal system.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Boy Scouts place weight restrictions on some outings

A recent news article noted the the Boy Scouts of America has had to place weight restrictions on leaders' participation in some activities. To quote from the article:

But the expanding waistlines of troop leaders, a widespread phenomenon fondly called the "leader belly" by Scouts, have pressed the nearly 100-year-old organization to place weight restrictions on some outings.

The restrictions, which will take effect in January, ban overweight leaders from venturing more than 30 minutes from ground transportation that can reach a hospital.

"For high-adventure activities for which medical care may be delayed, restrictions based on standardized height/weight ratios are now mandatory," says a statement on the Boy Scouts of America Web site.

From the BSA site:

It is important to note that if the event will take your unit beyond a radius wherein emergency care is more than 30 minutes by ground transportation, the height/weight chart found at the bottom of Part B should be strictly followed. Please note that individual units, districts, or councils may have policies in place to exceed this standard based on their unique risks.
Further explanation was as follows:

Q. Our camp is at least 30 minutes from the local hospital by ambulance or EMS. Does this mean that we automatically have to meet the height/weight requirements for all activities at the camp?

A. While response time for basic or advanced life support should be a consideration for a camp’s emergency action plan, it is not the record’s intent. If your travels by foot, bicycle, horseback, afloat, or whatever the mode of transportation take you more than 30 minutes off of an accessible roadway where in an emergency vehicle can reach you, you will need to meet the height/weight requirements.

Q. When does the height/weight chart apply? We have differing opinions in our unit/district.

A. When the Annual Health and Medical Record goes into effect, the height/weight chart will apply in the following known adventure activities: When your travels take you more than 30 minutes off of an accessible roadway, fire lane, camp road, etc., where you float, walk, hike, bike, or otherwise go into the backcountry. Depending on the terrain and local conditions, this might be a couple hundred yards or a couple of miles into the backcountry. Most BSA high-adventure camps that include a backcountry component (ask them about their requirements before you go). Philmont Scout Ranch has this standard in place as an example. When your lodge, unit, district, or council requires it as part of a program.
More interesting than the announcement were the many comments, including accusations against the BSA for "fat bashing." I guess we now have to worry about the civil rights of fat people. Maybe the BSA has been watching the leaders who can hardly walk from their cars to the camp fire circle. I do like this comment however, made in response to a criticism that the policy "will exclude many good leaders." "Wouldn't they be even better leaders if they led by example? Obesity is rapidly becoming the number one health issue in the United States due to all the risks involved with it. When are we as a people and individuals going to start taking personal responsibility for our actions instead of blaming someone else for our problems?"

I agree. I have personally known a number of otherwise good Scout leaders who couldn't walk a mile without pain and suffering. Is that the example we want to teach to our young men? Not from my perspective it isn't.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gay Rights movement destroys liberty

We hear a lot about "personal freedom" and the "right to chose" in today's self-centered society, but we hear almost nothing about liberty, as in "liberty and justice for all." We especially do not hear that both liberty and justice are part of one nation under God. Our Constitution speaks of securing the blessings of liberty to succeeding generations. Why then don't liberalism's radicals who support same-sex marriage and a break down of traditional family values speak of liberty? Could it be that in the eyes of a selfish self-centered society there is no longer any room for either liberty or justice?

Liberty and freedom are two completely separate and only partially compatible ideals. On the one hand freedom implies an ability to choose and to act. On the other hand, liberty, in the context of our governmental system, includes the concepts of immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority and political independence. However, there is no liberty or freedom without law and there is no law without a basis in a consistent morality based on fundamental principles of right and wrong. To quote our second President, John Adams, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Liberty is a fundamental principle. In a quote attributed to Thomas S. Monson, he said, "A principle in not like a rule. The rule asks nothing more of you than that you obey; a principle requires you to do your own thinking. A rule gives you credit only for being a creature; a principle gives you stature." Implicit in the concept of liberty is that it is inspired and of divine origin and that liberty is entirely dependent on obedience to just laws and upon the virtue of the adherents. To quote the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

In the words of Clinton Rossitor in his compilation of the The Federalist, he states that the message of The Federalist is that there can be "
no happiness without liberty, no liberty without self-government, no self-government without constitutionalism, no constitutionalism without morality — and none of these great goods without stability and order."

In destroying morality the Gay Rights movement is destroying our liberty.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How can you top this?

This post says it all. It is the most concise statement of conservative policy and philosophy I have ever seen at one time. Please take the time to read "It doesn't make a lick of sense."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Can anyone, including President Obama, secure Cyberspace?

President Obama has announced a "comprehensive cybersecurity strategy" for the U.S. Government that includes a 76 page "Cyberspace Policy Review." This policy statement is full of words using "cyber" as a prefix, but what does it really say and what is the real threat?

Apparently, the perceived threat is big enough to establish yet another government agency and another "senior White House official, "who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private computer networks, according to people who have been briefed on the plan" Washington Post.

In the Preface to the Cyberspace Policy, it states:
The architecture of the Nation’s digital infrastructure, based largely upon the Internet, is not secure or resilient. Without major advances in the security of these systems or significant change in how they are constructed or operated, it is doubtful that the United States can protect itself from the growing threat of cybercrime and state-sponsored intrusions and operations. Our digital infrastructure has already suffered intrusions that have allowed criminals to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and nation-states and other entities to steal intellectual property and sensitive military information. Other intrusions threaten to damage portions of our critical infrastructure. These and other risks have the potential to undermine the Nation’s confidence in the information systems that underlie our economic and national security interests.
My response to this broad accusation is just this; name one incident. The real heart of the issue is in a couple of paragraphs later in the document:
Information and communications networks are largely owned and operated by the private sector, both nationally and internationally. Thus, addressing network security issues requires a public-private partnership as well as international cooperation and norms. The United States needs a comprehensive framework to ensure coordinated response and recovery by the government, the private sector, and our allies to a significant incident or threat.
That's the problem, "Information and communications networks are largely owned and operated by the private sector, both nationally and internationally." It is not that the government is afraid of anything in particular, it is the fact that all that information and communications ability is in private hands that make the President and his advisers nervous.

Let's get to the real issue; the government wants to nationalize the Internet. The entrenched bureaucrats cannot stand the idea the the private sector has any control over anything. Not only do they want to nationalize General Motors, they would like to nationalize everything.

The next bottom line is the usual one, "The government needs to increase investment in research that will help address cybersecurity vulnerabilities while also meeting our economic needs and national security requirements." That's it in a nutshell, nationalize the communications network and the Internet and spend more money.

Look at page "vi" of the Policy Statement at number 4: "Designate a privacy and civil liberties official to the NSC cybersecurity directorate."

Look at the Bibliography. The documents are available in the Cyberspace Policy Review. Read some of the documents. See if you can find one documented incident of "intrusions that have allowed criminals to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and nation-states and other entities to steal intellectual property and sensitive military information."

Here is one example. Carnegie Mellon University, Lynn Robert Carter, "Computing Infrastructure Risk: Issue, Analysis, and Recommendation," December 23, 2008 .
Look at this document. Here is the threat:

1. Spam
2. Distributed computing such as the SETI network.
3. Botnets
4. Unspecified "targets of the the bad guys"
5. Identity theft
6. Morphing still images, voices and videos (i.e. "Die Hard" movie)
7. von Neumann architecture
and so on.

Not one incident is mentioned or identified. I haven't had the time to look at all these documents. How about someone out there showing me where's the beef? Where is the threat to national security other than a worry that the computer network is in private hands?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The myth of computer competence

There is a persistent world view that young people have grown up with computers and are therefore more competent than the "older" folks who use computers. Since I have been doing computer support for almost 30 years now, I have a little bit of a perspective on the age factor as well as overall competence in using computers. So lets look at the age factor in computer use.

I know very few, if any, teenagers who are computer competent other than playing games, sending text messages and perhaps, reading E-mail. Almost without exception, I cannot find one young person who can adequately use word processing (other than in most simple sense of typing a short school assignment), spreadsheet, presentation program or any other every day useful program. One young man I know can write short computer programs, but lacks basic skills of formatting, layout and composition.

So what are we talking about here. Young people mostly use computers like they drive cars, carelessly and without knowing how to change the oil, rotate the tires or even wash the car. Just because someone knows how to turn on the computer or operate a computer game, does not make them computer literate.

I do know younger adults who are computer professionals. They have on the job experience with networks and Internet connections. They can set up a computer and connect it to a network, but often don't know what to do with it past Facebook and or MySpace.

Most of what older people perceive as computer competence deals with learning a few basic instructions, and having the manual dexterity to operate a mouse and keyboard. But I know people in their 80s who know more about computers than a teenager could ever hope to know. The computer support staff I presently work with consists of retired engineers in their 70s who design and maintain a complex computer network of over 50 machines. Younger people may know how to drive through the computer city, but these people know where the wires, plumbing and power come from and go to.

I regularly work with groups of Boy Scouts on the computers working on the genealogy merit badge. By and large, they know absolutely nothing about the computer or how it operates. They often have to be shown how to do a simple search on Google. Just because your teenager knows how to operate the remote on the TV does not make him or her a computer expert. Get over it. Anyone at any age can learn about computers and gain competency. Sometimes, by the time a young person enters the job market, they acquire real computer skills. But even the younger office workers in my office are absolutely lost on the computers if the programs do not operate exactly as they expect them to.

It is time the older people of the world get with the program and take back the high ground of computer use. Let's change the stereotype and start having your grandchildren come to you with their computer questions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

GaySpeak invades the media

Two recent article reporting developments in California regarding the so-called "Gay Rights" movement show the extent to which GaySpeak has invaded the media. GaySpeak is the transformation of ordinary phrases and words into propaganda to support the Gay Rights agenda to " uproot the present oppressive system with its decaying and constricting ideology, and how we, together with other oppressed groups, can start to form a new order, and a liberated lifestyle, from the alternatives which we offer." (Note: click on the link to see what the so-called Gay Rights movement is really all about).

The first article "Gay Curriculum Proposal Riles Elementary School Parents" although apparently trying to maintain a neutral tone, buys into GaySpeak by using the following terms as if they were not GaySpeak propaganda:

"Gay" used as euphemism for same-sex attraction.
"LGBT" another euphemism to avoid using the more offensive terms.
"sexual orientation stereotypes" is GaySpeak for traditional married couples with families.
"name-calling and bullying" is GaySpeak for any opinion that does not support the LGBT.
respond appropriately" is GaySpeak for supporting the Gay Rights agenda.
diversity, acceptance and understanding" is GaySpeak for supporting the Gay Rights agenda. According to GaySpeak, if you are religious you are not entitled to diversity, acceptance and understanding. For example, back to the Gay Rights Manefesto that views all opposed to their agenda as the enemy.

The second article in the New York Times is entitled, "California High Court Upholds Gay Marriage Ban."

Here it is, a "news" story in the New York Times. All you have to do is read the story and look for the GaySpeak to see the extent to which the media has been hijacked into supporting their radical agenda. By the way, one of the Gay Rights leaders is quoted as saying that "
thousands of gay and lesbian Californians who woke up this morning hoping and praying their status as equal citizens of this state would be restored.” Who do they pray to?

"Gay Marriage Ban" GaySpeak for the Marriage Amendments. Rather than acknowledging the purpose of the Marriage Amendments to protect and foster the institution of marriage, the amendments are propagandized by the term "Gay marriage ban" although there is not one word in the California Marriage amendment about Gay marriage.
"civil unions" the GaySpeak equivalent of marriage.
choose one’s life partner" is GaySpeak for same-sex relationship.
"a committed, officially recognized and protected family relationship" another GaySpeak for same sex relationship.
"Equality California" GaySpeak for a Gay Rights advocacy group.
"Outsider status" yet another GaySpeak reference to same-sex relationship.

It is sad that even a venerable institution like the New York Times can fall for GaySpeak. Professor Karl M. Manheim uses GaySpeak when he states, "The change wrought by Proposition 8 was anything but narrow, Professor Manheim said, and claiming that the word “marriage” is essentially symbolic is like telling black people that sitting in the back of the bus is not important as long as the front and the back of the bus arrive at the same time." Comparing the issue of same-sex marriage to the rights fought for by the Black community is pure GaySpeak propaganda.

The articles quoted are only two small samples of the pervasive nature of the GaySpeak propaganda machine in operation.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

When is bad news good news?

In a desperate attempt to put a positive spin on really bad news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted in it most recent employment report, that mass layoff events and initial claims for unemployment decreased from March to April. What this really meant was that "Employers took 2,712 mass layoff actions in April that resulted in the separation of 271,226 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month." BLS. However, if you read a little further in the report, you find that the number of mass layoffs (defined as more than fifty people laid off at once) more than doubled the number from the previous year.

To get a small perspective of how serious things have become and how desperate the present administration is to see and end to the present crisis, you can continue reading to find that the total of mass layoffs from December 2007 to April 2009 was 34,126, while there were 2,712 in April alone, well over the average per month for the entire period.

The important number, the employment rate, hardly rates a mention in the news. The national unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in April 2009, season-ally adjusted, up from 8.5 percent the prior month and from 5.0 percent a year earlier. In April, total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 539,000 over the month and by 5,240,000 from a year earlier.

Schools and related employers were the hardest hit. Teachers are losing their jobs in huge numbers. Of the 10 detailed industries with the largest number of mass layoff
initial claims, 6 reached their April peak: school and employee bus transportation; construction machinery manufacturing; tax preparation services; discount department stores; professional employer organizations; and hotels and motels, except casino hotels. If you are a teacher who has lost your job you can take consolation in the fact that you are part of the "good news" from your government.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Education -- an attitude not a state

What does it mean to be educated? Why is education desirable or even necessary? Can these questions even be answered?

From my first day at school, it was abundantly clear that some of the other students knew a lot more than I did. Some students were always smarter. Their pencil boxes always neat and orderly. Their notebooks organized with tabs and their reports always looked professionally done. When we took tests, there was always a student who would finish early and turn in his or her test while the rest of us sat there and wondered what all these questions were talking about. Education was equated with achievement. Doing good in school meant doing your homework and getting "good" grades.

When I got into high school, once again, there were the "smart" kids and then all rest of us. We all knew who they smart kids were, they were the ones in the accelerated classes. The ones destined to go on to colleges or universities. Most of us looked forward to the day when we would "graduate" and not ever have to go back to school again. Never have to open another book. Never have to take another test. Never have to learn about anything at all.

Then it was time to graduate and go on. I chose to go on with school. I had no specific goal and no specific course of study. I did not want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a dentist or any of those things. But I also had no job skills. I had no prospects, no family business, no uncle in real estate, nothing to put me out into the working world. But I was different than most, I knew how read and loved libraries and reading. When I got to the usual state university, my first real job was in the university library. During the first two years at the university my grades were average or below. I took a big variety of classes, everything from geology to art history.

Slowly, I began to learn how to learn. I discovered that learning was hard work. Good grades did not come because I was smart, but because I knew the system and could learn what the instructor was looking for. Along the way, I began to understand what it was to be educated. It wasn't knowing any specific piece of information, it was an attitude of learning, a desire to know the answers to difficult questions, an understanding of the process of research and discovery. Learning and education involved reading, not just the assignments, but reading everything.

I slowly learned that I could trade study for credentials. When I had a degree or a certification, other people would assume that I was competent. I even found that people would pay me to do what I had learned in school. But was I educated? By whose standard? By what criteria?

My interests lead me to the sciences and then to law. There were things I would probably never learn, like calculus or medicine. I continued to read, all day, every day. When did I become educated? Did I become educated?

I think that my education and that of everyone else is a process. It is learning to love learning. It is being aware of your world, asking questions, finding answers. It is not knowing any particular piece of information. It is not passing a test or getting a good grade. Education is a life long habit of inquiry and review. It is knowing enough to know you don't know all the answers and taking the time to find out when you don't.

Are today's students coming out of high school educated? Not at all. The percentage of students who come out of high school with a desire to learn and to pay the price in hard work is vanishingly small. Fortunately, somewhere in our system, students still discover how to learn, but it is despite the system, not because of it. While I was in high school, I was taken out of school for a whole quarter to travel with my family. I was given the text books and a list of assignments. Interestingly, that was the quarter when I got the highest grades in high school, when I taught myself and did not have the distraction of the teachers.

Maybe primary schools ought to focus on teaching students to read, write and do arithmetic. What a novel idea. Maybe students need to memorize and copy long passages of material. Maybe instead of cutting funds for libraries, we should be expanding student's access to the world's great literature instead of feeding students modern trash. Maybe we need to teach in school all the things I learned on my own, outside of school.

Think about it. Really, think about it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wikipedia -- the battleground for social and political views

It is probably true that no writing can be entirely objective, however, the collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is far from escaping from bias and propaganda. It is supposed that when an interest group is attacked or some cause espoused, that those in opposition will provide the corrections needed to guide Wikipedia back to a centrist position. But what happens if the centrist position is not legally or morally correct?

In a recent blog, US Political Scene, the blogger pointed out that a Wikipedia article on "Waterboarding" was inaccurate and lacking in any proper sourcing. But where are the critics of the methodology? The media has so far succeeded in educating the American people about the "Waterboarding" issue that apparently no one would think to question Wikipedia.

It is interesting that the Wikipedia Waterboarding article has a cross-reference to "toture." However, the torture article starts out with a definition of torture from the United Nations Convention Against Torture, hardly a neutral definition. Later on, in the same article on torture, there is a reference to human rights. The link takes one to the Wikipedia page on human rights. Once again, the definition of human rights is ceded to the United Nations.

Now, I am not commenting on the definition of waterboarding or he definition of torture, what I am commenting on is that the "accepted" definition of these politically and socially loaded terms is being set forth in a forum where there is an expectation that someone will move the article to something approximating a consensus. I do not think that defaulting to the United Nations' definition is necessarily engendering a consensus.

Like the blogger cited above, I too believe that these, and many other, Wikipedia articles are little more than political position papers and propaganda.

Note: As it turns out, the Wikipedia article on human rights is quite involved, but the first part of the article, establishing the tone, refers directly to only a United Nations definition.

Perhaps it is a good time to recognize that Wikipedia is not a "source." It is a commentary. You may rely on it for basic facts (or not) but it is not a reliable source of political or social information from any one's standpoint. It is apparent that Wikipedia may, in fact, be the new battleground for the hearts and souls of the people of the world?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Abortion is not an issue, it is the issue

In his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, President Obama noted that there were irreconcilable differences between those supporting and those opposing abortions. I will agree on that point, there are irreconcilable differences. The President went on to encourage a dialogue between the two positions. Abortion is not just an issue. Abortion is the issue.

It is not my goal to review all of the legal and social issues on the different sides of the abortion problem. But it is my goal to be clear; under no circumstances will I support any policy, politician, candidate or office holder that supports abortion on demand. There is very little grey in this argument, less than in any other major issue I am aware of. My position is exactly that of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the Church's Website, here is the official position:
Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.
This position is further expanded as follows:
Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.
This is not a negotiable position. No amount of discussion will change these fundamental truths. There is no compromise. I will not knowing vote for anyone who supports abortion on demand.

Truly, this position is irreconcilable with the deceptive arguments of the supporters. Abortion is not an issue. It is the issue.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What about my credentials?

In response to a recent post, a reader made the following comment:
I suppose it's fitting that a post about "trivialization" would early on include the phrase "so-called gay rights movement" ... but then you quickly move on from trivialization to demonization ("... all but destroyed the concept of civil rights in America"? Really?). Just curious, James, but what are your credentials when it comes to defending civil rights of any kind?
My first thought was whether or not the reader had read the post at all, or was merely making a stock comment. I had to think a while about why my "credentials" in "defending civil rights" had anything to do with my commentary. Apparently, if you oppose same-sex marriage and Gay Rights you have to have credentials to have an opinion? Then I began to wonder if the person writing the comment, who identified himself by a Hispanic name, had any "credentials?" Perhaps you need credentials to make comments about civil rights also?

After more thought, I decided. Here are my credentials:

I believe the Bible to be the word of God and I believe in the teaching of God's prophets anciently as well as in the latter days.

I wonder if the commentator has taught Constitutional Law? I have. I wondered if the commentator has over 34 years of trial experience in state and Federal Courts? I do. I could go on, but I also wonder about the relevancy of credentials. Aren't we back to the same old tactic of the Gay Rights movement? If you support Gay Rights you have First Amendment Rights but if you oppose Gay Rights, you have no right to speak at all. I think that is what the commentator is really trying to say about the so-called Gay Rights movement.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The trivialization of civil rights

Because of the activists in the so-called gay rights movement, the entire issue of civil rights in America has been trivialized. The important issues of the past, voting rights for blacks, Native Americans and women, adequate housing, safe working conditions, religious freedom, school segregation and the other monumental issues of the past century have been marginalized by a short sighted focus on sexual preference as an issue.

Pathetic attempts to equate the so-called oppression of gays with the sufferings of the Blacks, Chicanos and Native Americans is a smear on the memory of those who have dedicated their lives to the emancipation and racial equality of these minorities.

Gays were never denied the right to work or vote.
Gays were never marched across the country and imprisoned in reservations.
Gay churches were never bombed.
No gay man or woman suffered slavery for being gay.
Gays are not relegated to separate schools, rest rooms or drinking fountains.
Gays were never migrant farm workers.

There is no definition of a "gay person" that relies on anything more than a person's private preference. Some of the leaders of the so-called Gay Rights movement are extremely influential and wealthy individuals who have never been denied anything in their lives.

Here is a quote from the statement of purpose of the Gay Liberation Front:
"We are a revolutionary group of men and women formed with the realization that complete sexual liberation for all people cannot come about unless existing social institutions are abolished. We reject society's attempt to impose sexual roles and definitions of our nature."
In another statement of the GLF purpose Martha Shelley in 1970 wrote:
"We are women and men who, from the time of our earliest memories, have been in revolt against the sex-role structure and nuclear family structure."
Does this sound like a statement by an oppressed minority seeking equality and civil rights? At the core this movement is destructive of society as a whole. Its revolting use of the terminology of the civil rights movement has all but destroyed the concept of civil rights in America. When a majority of any state supports such a destructive goal, they are buying into their own destruction.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Living with the Swine Flu -- thoughts on modern disasters

When I was in high school, some of the students who were more mechanically and electronically gifted than I was, figured out a way to tap into the school's clock system. By getting on a table and plugging some wires into one of the clocks in an empty room, they were able to do several things; one was to run all the clocks in the school backwards, another was to ring the class bells out of sequence. As a result, they got the idea to sound a fire alarm. I think security in the empty classrooms was increased dramatically after the third or fourth fire drill, marching all of the students out to the parking lots.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a vastly more advanced system of warning for Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response (EPR). They have organized a Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network for the technical collaboration of existing institutions and networks who pool human and technical resources for the rapid identification, confirmation and response to outbreaks of international importance. WHO. In the current outbreak of Swine Flu (now politically correctly renamed Influenza A(H1N1) virus) in the past week, the Level of Pandemic Alert has gone to an unprecedented Level 5.

Now, I am not claiming that someone is "ringing the bells" at the World Health Organization, but I am pointing out the fact that a small input of information from an unexpected source (boys in an empty classroom) can create a huge reaction (entire school out in the parking lot). This effect comes about because the system apparently has no way to evaluate the difference between a "real" emergency and one that is part of the background noise of our complex society.

The latest report from the WHO as of May 3, 2009 showed 898 confirmed cases of Swine Flu (now influenza A(H1N1) infection world wide. There have been 19 deaths reported in Mexico and 1 death in the U.S. Otherwise, there have been no other reported deaths in the entire world.

Now, given the huge incidence of Swine Flu in the last two weeks, what can we find out from the online statistics? First of all according to the Centers for Disease Control, this specific strain of influenza, type A (H1N1) has been reported for years. In the 2007 to 2008 Flu Season, from October 1, 2007 to May 17, 2008 there were 1,020 verified cases of influenza A (H1N1) in the United States alone. Don't take my word for it, check out the source. As of June 19, 2008, 83 deaths associated with laboratory-confirmed influenza infections have occurred among children aged < 18 years during the 2007--08 influenza season that were reported to CDC. These deaths were reported from 33 states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin).

Look at the data! There is no way that the current cases of influenza could have all come from Mexico. Given the fact that this same strain of flu has been infecting people for years, there is nothing about the current outbreak that can differentiate it from the background noise of infection.

When we are standing in the parking lot, how do we know whether or not the alarm was "real" or not? In the case of Swine Flu, before you start wearing a mask outside or cancel your trip in an airplane, you might want to look a little deeper into the alarm being raised.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who benefits from the Swine Flu scare?

Here is a conundrum, we have a huge avalanche of news stories hyping a global pandemic of Swine Flu, closing schools, stopping airplane flights in mid-course, disinfecting skyscrapers, and scaring old women and children, and where is the substance? After more than a week of a constant barrage of threats and statements, who benefits from this diatribe?

I thought that this was another of those manufactured crisis designed to divert attention from some other more difficult and political issue, but there is nothing much new going on that seems to merit such a huge outlay of drivel. As of May 2, 2009 there are 160 confirmed cases of the flu in the U.S. and there has been one death, a baby from Mexico. But who is benefiting from this manufactured bogey man?

Here are a few thoughts about those who might benefit: drug manufacturers, more allocated government funds, news outlets (paid trips to Mexico?), Johnson & Johnson sells out their inventory of Purell, bloggers, school officials (it gives them something to say that doesn't relate to a budget), mothers (who told their children to wash their hands) and other related entities.

But was that enough to justify the hype and exaggeration? Not really. I think the whole world is looking for an out. Something to justify not going on with business as usual. An excuse for taking a day off. A way to avoid thinking about financial disaster, war and poverty. A good flu scare is just what the doctor ordered to give us something else to talk about for a week or so. Then we can get back to reality (whatever that is).

Friday, May 1, 2009

We are not getting the whole story of the Swine Flu

It has been a long time since I have seen so many older people so concerned about a world situation. I have friends and acquaintances who are worried to go out of their houses because of the Swine Flu reports. At the other end of the age spectrum, a younger friend went to the store to buy sanitary wipes for her family (out of an abundance of caution) and found the store's supply completely wiped out (intentional).

I have one major question, who is benefiting from this absolutely incredible reaction to a disease that hasn't even proved to be serious yet?

Look at the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of May 1, 2009 at 11:00 am Eastern Time, the whole U.S. had 141 confirmed cases of the Swine Flu. Actual flu cases are in the low to minimal range. For example, the weekly Influenza Surveillance Report from the CDC showed 997 positive tests for flu during the 2008 calendar year, which included 804 cases of Influenza A (H1). During 2008, one pediatric influenza-associated death was reported. Did you read about all of this in the newspaper? Did the President comment on the one flu death in 2008?

Look at the statistics. What is really different about the present flu outbreak? Maybe someone felt we needed to forget the economy for a while? Maybe, they needed to stop people coming and going to Mexico? The war in Iraq? Afghanistan? What is really the reason why this flu outbreak is front page news with schools being closed. Please note, there was not one school closed last year because of a flu outbreak.

My opinion is not that there isn't a real disease, it is just that the present reaction is so completely out of sync with the real statistics. Why aren't we getting the real story?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu and Google Trends

Google has found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. These statistics from Google searches have been compiled into graphs and maps showing computer search activity. Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate possible flu activity at a state level in near real-time. I, for one, find this information a lot more reliable that the "official" estimates and new releases from government agencies who may have agendas.

To quote the blog:
In November 2008 we launched Google Flu Trends after finding a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Google Flu Trends may be able to detect influenza outbreaks earlier than other systems because it estimates flu activity in near real time.
This is a way to use actual information, not tainted by politics, to form an idea of seriousness of the Swine Flu outbreak. Google explains how it attempts to validate the information:
In the United States, we were able to validate our estimates using data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have not verified our data for Mexico in the same manner, but we've seen that Google users in Mexico (and around the world) also search for many flu-related topics when they have flu-like symptoms. Given the tremendous recent attention to swine flu, our model tries to filter out search queries that are more likely associated with topical searches rather than searches by those who may be experiencing symptoms.
Looking at the maps it is evident that flu activity is low in both Mexico and the U.S. However, there are areas of Mexico where the activity is moderate. None of these areas of higher incidence are those being mentioned in news accounts.

As Google notes:
To explore Google Flu Trends data, you can download files containing weekly influenza-like illness (ILI) estimates for the United States. Data is provided for each individual state, the nine influenza surveillance regions, and the entire United States. It is provided at the state level for Mexican states where we were able to produce more reliable estimates given a limited amount of time. Exported data may be used for any purpose, subject to the Google Terms of Service. If you choose to use the information, please make sure to appropriately attribute it to Google.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mexican Swine Flu information cannot be correct

The numbers in the stories coming out about the Swine Flu infections do not add up. Someone is not telling the truth. During the past few days the news accounts have repeated, including in today' s (April 29, 2009) news, that only 26 cases of Swine Flu have been confirmed in Mexico and "health officials there suspect the swine flu outbreak has caused more than 159 deaths and roughly 2,500 illnesses." CNN.

Mexico City, alone, has more than 20 million people. A recent estimate of the population of Mexico is 109,955,400. CIA World Factbook. The outbreak of the Swine Flu in the United States and other countries is being attributed to people who traveled to Mexico. We are collectively being expected to believe that a handful of international travelers, from the U.S., Spain, Canada, Israel and other countries all came in contact with that same 2,500 people somewhere in the middle of Mexico. It is inconceivable that the spread of the disease from Mexico could have been caused by such a small infected portion of the population.

Given the information presently available indicating the spread of the disease throughout the world, there is only one conclusion possible, the Mexican Government is not telling the whole story. The disease has to be much more extensive in the country than we are lead to believe.

Apparently, some of the countries of the world have come to the same conclusion. Japan and Indonesia and testing the temperature of people arriving from Mexico to detect the disease. They obviously do not believe that only 2,500 people have the disease.

Likewise, the reported number of people infected the U.S. is also suspect. If you read the news accounts carefully, you will see that the numbers are always portrayed as "confirmed" cases of the disease. Given the time it takes to confirm a case of flu, from personal experience, it is highly doubtful that the numbers are even nearly accurate.

There may be no need for concern, yet, but this is story that bears watching.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What is a pandemic?

The outbreak of Swine Flu has the news outlets abuzz with rumors. Again and again, the newscasts refer to a possible "pandemic." Hopefully, someone out there in authority knows what this term really means. Additionally, it would be nice if someone had read a little history about the last great flu epidemic in 1918.

Unfortunately, there is no specific definition of the term "pandemic." A pandemic (from Greek παν pan all + δήμος demos people) is an epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide.Widkipedia That seems really helpful. Think of all the diseases that are already pandemic by that definition: cholera, typhus, HIV and AIDS, measles, tuberculosis, malaria, yellow fever, and many, many others.

Just to give a little bit of perspective to the term pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 350–500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and over one million people die, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa. In areas of Africa with high malaria transmission, an estimated 990,000 people died of malaria in 1995 – over 2700 deaths per day, or 2 deaths per minute. Apparently, unless people are dying in New York, a disease is not our problem.

Let's get another interesting perspective, again from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of alcohol-induced deaths in the U.S., excluding accidents and homicides, in 2005 was 21,634. Here's another statistic, the number of Lyme Disease infections in the U.S. for 2005 were 23,305.

Maybe we ought to be a little more circumspect before throwing around the word pandemic.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's wrong with these words?

Our language has been hijacked by extremists. Here is a list of terms gleaned from a pro-same-sex marriage Website. Can you guess the definitions?

fairness alliance
fairness campaign
human rights campaign
religious freedom protection
social justice issue

It might help you define these words to know that they were all used in a call to for a "full scale, online grassroots call to action against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) also known as the Mormons. The call to action stated: "In response to this secret action by the LDS Church, the Human Rights Campaign today launched a full scale, online grassroots call to action to its more than 35,000 Illinois based members and supporters. The take-action asks members to contact the Nauvoo, Illinois Mormon Temple and let them know these deceitful, fear-mongering tactics can no longer be done in secret."

In other words, the fairness alliance would like to target one particular Church for a campaign by a "former member of the Church" because, as they claim, "It is irrefutably clear that the LDS Church is fighting an anti-gay crusade throughout the nation, targeting any form of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” Exactly what does this "anti-gay crusade" consist of? Isn't it people with strong moral values who believe in the sanctity of marriage and the family trying to defend morality and decency? Isn't targeting one particular religious group bigoted? Isn't targeting one particular religious group unfair? Isn't targeting one particular religious group, to deny them a voice in the debate a violation of the Church's members' own civil rights? Apparently not, if they disagree with a former member of the Church and his stand on gay-rights.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The law and same sex marriage-- Part Two

One of the most common misunderstandings about the law involves a common phrase -- "It is against the law to...." (fill in the blank). Usually, when people use that phrase they are talking about some issue that could be enforced. Enforcement is a big deal. Let's look at the example of traffic laws. How many of my readers know that the police will not give you a ticket if you aren't speeding more than ___ miles per hour over the speed limit? This is an enforcement issue. The law is clear, exceeding the speed limit by even 1 mph constitutes a violation of the law. But we all know that the enforcement agencies (usually police, sheriffs or highway patrol) will only stop you if you exceed the limit by some arbitrary amount. Does the fact that the enforcement agency fails to enforce the law change the law? Not in the least.

The point here is that the "law" and what is enforced are sometimes vastly different.

Now, what do we mean when we say some activity is against the law? In my experience, most people only have a sort of vague understanding between civil and criminal law. From a legal standpoint the difference rather simple. Criminal laws are only enforced by governments. The plaintiff or complaining party in all criminal cases is the "state" or "municipality" or other governmental jurisdiction. Also, criminal laws routinely provide for incarceration as a consequence of a violation. In the United States there are very few civil violations that can result in going to jail. Civil laws, on the other hand may be enforced by a government entity or by a private citizen, but the remedy is monetary damages not a jail sentence. Because most people do not know the distinction, they use the phrase, "against the law" in both a civil and criminal context.

Now, is same sex marriage "against the law?" The simple answer is it depends on the jurisdiction. If a same-sex couple got married in Massachusetts and traveled to Arizona, would they get arrested? No. In that sense, same-sex marriage is not "against the law in Arizona." However, because of the Defense of Marriage Act (See my last post) Arizona does not have to treat the union as a "marriage." In this sense, a same-sex marriage is not against the law in Arizona or any other state where that form of marriage is not recognized, it is just not recognized as a marriage. Would Arizona's government authorities arrest someone because Arizona has a Marriage Amendment? Of course not, there is a vast difference between a failure to recognize a type of marriage and some sort of enforcement.

This is essentially the same issue that used to exist with divorces. Historically, many states had very restrictive divorce laws. On the other hand, some states, such as Nevada, had very liberal laws. People would travel to Nevada to get a divorce. However, the divorce may not be recognized in the person's state of residence. There are still substantial differences between the state's various divorce laws, just as there are differences between the state's marriage laws. That is not to say that a jurisdiction that did not recognize a Nevada divorce, could not pass laws making it difficult for a person with such a divorce.

Why is this distinction important? Because the rhetoric surrounding same-sex marriage is so lacking in contact with reality that in many cases it is impossible to carry on a rational conversation about the issue. One of the immediate and insistent claims made by those supporting same-sex marriage is that the citizens of Arizona (or whatever state) are depriving them of their "civil rights."

For example, Arizona is a community property state. If you make an estate plan in Ohio and then move to Arizona, you may find out that your plans do not work well or at all in Arizona. The laws are different. However, in both the estate planning situation and with divorces we don't have people claiming that their civil rights are violated merely because some states view the law differently and enforce their laws differently. It is sign of the political and social engineering aspect of the same-sex marriage issues that turn the differences into claims of violations of "civil rights" where no such rights exist or have ever existed.

More later.