Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Latest stuff

I thought I was going have more to say on current events, but two items seem to be dominating the news. One is the current worldwide financial crisis that's erupted within the past two and a half months, with banks all over the world having to be bailed out. The other is the increased stridency of the gay rights movement since the approval of Proposition 8 in California.

I really don't have any solid information right now to back up my opinions that isn't available elsewhere, so rather than contribute to the general excess of hot air, I'll wait until I do.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wait a minute

In my examination of Obama's potential administration, I found myself dealing with a fog of
speculation, pinned to rather few eractual facts. Furthermore, I noted, the groundwork for many of the events that are likely to happen is being laid by events that are happening. I decided that trying to keep up how the policies and personell of the new Administration are likely to shape up was probably not the best use of my limited time, especially as I'm developing the ability to keep and discuss current events from a different perspective. I'll keep watching, but it won't be my principal focus.

Most of my effort has gone to the construction of the knowledge base I describe on my Independent learning blog. After several false starts in the past year, I'm approaching a point where I can keep track of of them. With that as a starting point, I can start discussing events from the broader perspective I've been looking for.

One subect I've found interesting is the discussion of space technology. The recent visible imaging of planets around two fairly nearby stars is something I used to read was probably impossible, and it's quite a feat for the adaptive imaging technology that's been used to locate them. India has launched a , so far, highly successful lunar exploration mission, and China recently had its third manned spaceflight. The launch of endeavor to expand the International Space Station also represents progress. There are moreUS missions in progress and shortly scheduled. It seems to be an optimistic time of progress, but I have some concerns.

One is that the US seems to have lost or to be losing its lead in Space technology. The Space shuttle is scheduled to be retired in 2 years, and the US will be dependent on Russian technology and resources for about a 5 year gap. And that's in the best case, assuming continuing funding for NASA and no huge cost overruns or technacal delays. If Russia continues its show of belligerence, I am not certain this is such a wise strategy for the US. The US went from suborbital projects to a moon landing twelve years, and it seems that NASA has become such an ossified bureacracy that, in spite of nearly 40 years of progress in space flight technology, it could not duplicate the feat.

The private programs that are actually building and testing craft that may, in a couple of generations worth of technology, face a heavy burden of regulations. I hope the US in general and the economy in particular don't crash and take them down with it as I fear they might, but I'm no better at predicting the future than the next man.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Expected Executive Orders

John Podesta was on Fox News Sunday, discussing some of the Executive Orders Barak Obama
is likely to issue, several of which will apparently reverse long-standing policies that outgoing President Bush initiated. He mentioned four of these, specifically, and another advisor mentioned another.

Among the first orders to be reversed may be two that Bush signed shortly
after taking office in 2001. One of those barred the use of U.S. funds by family
planning groups overseas that provide abortion counseling.

Susan F. Wood, co-chairman of Obama's advisory committee for women's health,
said the president-elect also plans on reversing a policy that linked assistance
for combating AIDS in the developing world to requirements that health workers
emphasize monogamy and abstinence from sex over condom use.

Another is the limit on federal funding for embryonic stem- cell research,
a restriction that some scientists say hampers study to combat diseases such as

"They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile
lands in Utah that they're going to try to do right as they -- walking out the
door. I think that's a mistake,'' Podesta said.

On climate change and pollution, Obama previously has stated his opposition to
the administration's action that blocked California from regulating carbon
dioxide emissions from vehicles

Apart from the disrepsect for human life in general and children in particular that Obama's positions on abortion represent, there are other questions that arise:
1) Why should overseas family planning groups be receiving US taxpayer funding at all? Or any family planning groups?
2) Who benefits from restrictions on oil and gas drilling in the US? It is certainly not the companies that do it. and it may not be the environment. Might it be foreign suppliers?
3) Allowing California to impose carbon-dioxide emissions will make it harder on all autompbile manufacturers since automakers must in general design their vehicles for the entire country to meet the toughest state standards. This, at the very time when the new administration is proposing an expensive bailout for the US auto industry. Who benefits? I'm not sure I have a good answer for either one.


San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Duffy, at a rally outside the Oakland Temple earlier today,
November 10:

"The time has come to take it out there to the people who voted for this awful
thing, [Prop. 8]" said San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty. "The Mormon church
has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their
beliefs "... This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they've forgotten
some lessons."

Am I reading this correctly as a threat to teach the Mormons a lesson? Religious liberty only exists when the GBLT community is willing to tolerate it? So when the Mormons express concern about gay marriage advocates eventually threatening their freedom of religion, it's a lie?

I really don't have the time to waste searching for words to properly express how I feel about this speech. So I'll just say they're rather the opposite of approving and leave it at that.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

For the past five years, John Podesta, the former Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, has been building up the Center for American Progress, a liberal-oriented "think tank", or, as it is sometimes called, a virtual government-in-exile. According to this article,

Mr. Podesta has also poured money into building up liberal political communications. The center schedules events that often end up being shown on C-Span; sponsors about 60 liberal college newspapers; hosts a prominent blog, ThinkProgress.org; and provides a free downloadable daily news package called Mic Check for liberal radio stations to broadcast.

A number of wealthy donors and groups which have given grants to this group have been
identified, and it is heavily staffed by former Clinton administration officials.


Valerie Jarrett is described as a close family friend, "Obama's big sister" and even "the other side of Barak's brain". Her connections are not so much with Washington, but with the Chicago community of affluent blacks, many of whom have graduated from Ivy league universities.


Peter Rouse was formerly chief of staff for Senator Tom Daschle. When Daschle failed
re-election, Rouse began working for the newly elected Obama, and is credited with
helping direct his career in the Senate and his rise in the Democratic party and to the nomination.

Andrew Sullivan, writing about Rahm Emmanuel, as already mentioned, confirms his
a reputation as something of a shark. He is known for being in "the face" of opponents,
twisting arms, extracting commitments, and bullying, corralling, and pinioning party
members to get things accomplished.

In 2000, Emanuel was on the board of Freddie Mac, the now disgraced mortgage public-private entity whose overly generous loans helped to bring about the financial meltdown of the past two months. He has received a huge amount of campaign money from hedge funds, private equity firms and the financial industry.


Although I'm not familiar with the names of Obama's economic advisors or their
qualifications or political orientation, a number of them have been listed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Press Conference

President-elect Obama spoke briefly about what he expects his first moves to be in his first
press conference since winning the election.

He outlined a far-reaching and extensive stimulus package that he intends to push through
Congress as fast as possible (I note that the newly elected more heavily democratic majority that would speed his proposals through isn't in office yet) He mentions the credit crisis, increased unemployment insurance, job creation, help for the Automotive industry (While I would applaud more fuel-efficient cars, the government does not control either the laws of physics or consumer preferences). He also mentions thatstate and local governments are facing a crunch: They must raise taxes or cut services. This neglects the fact that the Federal government has a similar problem, because if the economy doesn't improve instantly, tax revenues will also decline, and with all these stimulus programs in place, spending will increase. Maybe he has a plan to deal with this, but I've seen more slogans than economic wisdom from his campaign.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More on Obama's crew

Rahm Emmanual is reported to have accepted the job as Obama's chief of staff, and will
resign his seat as Representative.

According to the New York Times,

In turning to Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Podesta, Mr. Obama sought out two of the
hardest-hitting veterans of President Bill Clinton's administration, known
for their deep Washington experience, savvy and no-holds-barred approach to
politics. Neither is considered a practitioner of the “new politics” that
Mr. Obama promised on the campaign trail to bring Republicans and Democrats
together, suggesting that the cool and conciliatory new president is
determined to demonstrate toughness from the beginning.

Obama is expected to hold a press conference for tomorrow, Friday, Nov 8.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's crew

Jake Tapper of ABC News reports President-Elect Obama's transition team is being run by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, Valier Jarrate, and Obama campaign chief of staff Pete Rouse.
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano;
former Clinton Transportation and Energy Secretary Federico Peña, and
former Clinton Commerce Secretary William Daley
have been named to the transition team advisory board.

He also reports that President-elect Obama has asked Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a
Democratic representative from Illinois, to be his chief of staff.
Columnist Yura Levin at the Corner on National Review describes Emanuel as "a vicious graceless partisan: narrow, hectic, unremittingly aggressive, vulgar, and impatient". To me, this
doesn't sound good in a Chief of Staff.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

US President-elect Barak Obama

I was wrong, last August, when I predicted he and his campaign would self-destruct.
However, I cannot bring myself to congratulate him on his victory.
We as Americans have put our trust, not in God, but in a man, and we will very
shortly see what kind of man we have elected. I do not believe he will be the "One",
the miracle-worker, the Messiah figure that many of his supporters have made him
out to be.
Now that the has won the campaign and no longer needs to promise the voters anything to
get elected, we will begin to see what kind of man we really chose: Whether he is the
thoughtful, judicious person he presented himself as, or whether he attemts to defame and silence his critics: whether he upholds the law to see that it is faithfully executed, or whether he views it as a straitjacket to be wriggled out of.

I recall a line I read somewhere a long time ago, about how if you want to know which direction the new captain is going to steer the ship, watch who he puts on the bridge crew. Who is the President-elect Obama going to name as his officials and advisors?

I for one will be watching. Closely. Starting now, with his victory speech.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A tour of the house of Jeremiah Wright, the preacher of the church Barak Obama attended for many years.

And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts, and there are none save
a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the
wearng of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strife, and malice, and
persecution, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every
one have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold,
you do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning
of your churches, more than you love the poor and the needy, the sick and the
afflicted. (Mormon 8:36-37)

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is quoted as saying:

Elect us, hold us accountable, and make a judgment and then go from there.
But I do tell you that if the Democrats win, and have substantial
majorities, Congress of the United States will be more bipartisan," said

If there were a prize for fatuous utterences by a politician, this would be in contention.

Not that the Republicans have it much better.
Senator Ted Stevens R-Alaska, was convicted yesterday on seven counts of
felony corruption, he announced today that he had no intention of resigning.
Well, and why should he? No conscience, no shame. But then, since I'm not from
Alaska, I don't get a choice about whether I want this particular convicted felon
serving in the Senate.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Over the past couple of months, I've been reading quite a few political blogs. I tend to read the comments as well, and while there are some very intelligent and well-thought responses, a great many of the comments are intolerant and hateful. It's depressing to wade through through the sensless comments, and get stirred up to say something...only to realize that it would take me
quite some time to labor over an intelligent response, and wind up deleting half of what I wrote,
because in the end, isn't fitting. I really hate venemous conflict.

Part of the difficutlty is that I'm very much concerned over the upcoming election. I've stated before that I don't trust Barak Obama, and the more I see, the less I like. I'm afraid of being someone infected by overly partisan information, but when I look at the other party...it's even worse. There are those in the country who are predicting civil war, in the not so distant future,
and I read all too many people who are calling to "Get your gun and be ready for a fight". It could come to that. But I certainly hope not, and I'd rather avoid it.

I don't really think that if Barak Obama wins the election, he's going singlehandedly repeal freedom of the press, or religion, and unleash the FBI on everyone who disagrees with him.
The rule of law isn't going to evaporate overnight.

I'm somewhat distracted by another question, one that came up about the logic of what is compulsory and forbidden:
If (A) Forbidden, then (not-A) is compulsory
If (A) is compulsory, then (not-A) is forbidden.

A couple of specific examples were used. Those are hard to refute, but in generally, this
kind of argument is tricky to make. From my studies as an amateur logician, this looks like a branch of deontic logic, which resembles modal logic and isn' strictly aristotelian. This analysis doesn't account for the optional: That which is neither obligatory nor forbiddent. Also, there's a possible question of dichotmimes... there may be a middle ground between A and not-A. So, I'm sucpicious of the logic, though I can't quite refute it. I'll have to set this one aside.

I still see the debate on same-sex marriage in California, and I really object to the rhetoric that anyone who doesn't approve of it is a bigot and trying to deprive homosexuals of equal civil rights, or that the government shouldn't be involved in marriage at all. I don't have a clear, sound refutation of these argoments, and if I did, those who advocate same-sex marriage wouldn't listen anyway. And I don't have much of a way to appeal to the undecideds.

I also came across an article (Helen McAffrey, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which deplored the demonization of Sarah Palin She expressed suprise that, since since Gov. Palin is an example of what has been considered a feminist ideal (combining motherhood and a career) that she would be so viciously vilified. She objected to a student who wore a T-shirt with the slogan, "Sarah Palin is a ****, and expressed her opinion that Gov. Palin ought to be treated with respect and consideration. I was suprised to read how many of the commenters on this article defended the attackers. When did obscenities become accepted in academic discourse? The next step after violent and degrading words is violent and destructive actions, and it's not all that big a step.

I've been pondering on how radical feminism...the man-hating, lesbian, genitalia focused, pro-choice and anti-marriage wing of it... is dehumanizing to both men and women. In hindsight, it shouldn't have been all that surprising that someone who represents the opposite evokes such mindless hatred. Feminist, behold thyself.

I saw in another bit of news that the "Code Pink" organization that had announced its intention to shut down the Marine Recruiting Station in Berkeley, California, is moving out of its offices there. Yes, as I recall, that WAS the strategy advocated by those who opposed the Vietnam war, "declare victory and get out". I'm sure it will work just as well this time around. Didn't anyone warn these people that real peacemaking can be *hard*?

Monday, September 8, 2008


In the past week, I've been watching in amazement, and some amusement, as Democrats have gone screaming ape over Sarah Palin. There is a whole list of rumors that have been floated, picked up, and soberly repeated by leading media. Some of them are so clearly absurd that they give the clown show at Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey serious competition.

The show of verbal acrobatics including headstands and backflips from politicians and pundits who've participated in the ' hear fabulous rumor/ broadcast fabulous rumor / have fabulous rumor exploded within a day or two' act is truly amazing. I'd need a video camera to capture it. I did manage to puch up a bit of some delightful satire, such as appears at the end of this blog post, which captures some of the hysterical absurdity of the last week's political dialogue.

Since I do have other things to do, I can't do any justice to a review, but I must confess that for the moment I'm being hugely entertained by what's beginning to resemble The Greatest Show on Earth.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Presidential Campaign

I'm still watching. On the Republican side, I was sort of hoping McCain would pick Romney for his running mate, but there were certainly a number of indicators that he might not. I'm not too disappointed. He could have done a lot worst than Sarah Palin. A lot worse..I was afraid that if he had chosen someone obviously pro-choice, I couldn't vote for the candidate of either party.

On the Democratic side, I mentioned my impressons at the beginning of the month. I haven't paid much attention to Senator Biden, but from what little I've heard, his selection as Obama's running mate does not improve my impression of Obama.

The campaign's treatment of Stanley Kurz, a journalist who has been investigating Obama's possible connections with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground is a distinct black mark. If I had ever been inclined to favor Obama, this would give me serious pause.

I was ten years old in 1968, when organizations such as the Weather Underground, the SDS, the Black Panthers, and others were advocating violent overthrow of the US government, planting bombs, and the like, and a couple of years later I had a teacher who made sure I heard about it.

The things I read about Bill Ayers, one of the founders of this group, suggest that he has changed tactics, not ideologies, going in for indoctrination of the young as more effective than bombings. If he were one of Obama's mentors or associates, I am an concerned that he may have absorbed some of Ayer's ideology. This is very much not what I want in the Presidency.

The attempt to shut down or shout down critics is also worrisome. This is not someone I want anywhere near a position of authority over the US Military, Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of Justice, with the full power of the government to bring to bear against his critics.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Obama not for President

I've been somewhat following the Presidential campaign, or rather, the discussion of it. First, I admit, there is a certain amount of partisan bias: I've been more or less conservative ever since I was old enough to start reading about politics, back when I was twelve or so. I'm not and have never been particularly enthusiastic about John McCain. However, I shuddered with horror about Hillary Clinton getting into the White House. The only reason I'm not more concerned about Barak Obama is that he strikes me as a lightweight who's already on the verge of self-destructing. It is becoming increasingly evident that that that he has an inflated reputation and opinion of himself without the experience, brains, or backbone to justify it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The physics of weight loss

In response to a discussion on another blog, I sat down to do some thinking on weight and weight loss. For those who cite mass-and-energy balance principles, "calories in = calories out" where "calories in = food intake" and "calories out = exercise" is so oversimplified that it's actually wrong.

"Calories out" has to be adjusted for base metabolism rate. This is affected by growth rate, for the youthful, and such things as pregnancy, lactation, and menstruation in women. The efficiency of exercise also depends on muscle proportions: those with comparatively more/larger muscles (such as men) will be more efficient at expending calories with exercise. Both of these are also affected by body shape and proportions. People generate heat in proportion to their volume or weight, but get rid of it roughly proportion to their surface area (affected by shape). Volume goes up much faster than surface area.

This also helps account for why obese people find it harder to exercise. The body only tolerates a narrow range of internal temperature. A person who can't shed heat as fast through sweating and rapid breathing as he (or she) is generating it through exercise will be psychologically compelled to slow down or shut down the exercise. It seems to be one of those limits on what your body will let you do with it. Those who have found a reasonably effective balance between heat generated and head expended in extended aerobic exercise may find incomprehensible that an overweight person can't, or won't do the the same exercise and get the same benefit. But it's true. Different people sometimes really do require different approaches.

"Calories in" has to be adjusted for digestive efficiency (the ration of calories absorbed to calories ingested). This tends to change with age. I've seen studies that show it's affected by the types and proportions of gut bacteria. It's also affected by the kinds of food one eats, since some foods are more easily digested than others.
Altogether, these suggest that the efficiency of increased exercise in losing weight tends to do down as one gains in weight. Adjusting the diet would seem to be the more effective approach.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


There are several things I've wanted to comment on in the past couple of weeks, but it takes me forever to write things, simply because I keep going back and rewriting, and rethinking, and rephrasing anything I write so much. The final draft may have very little resemblance to what I started out to say, and then I wind up deciding I probably shouldn't say it at all.
I'm becoming rather disappointed with my selection of political blogs. I tend to read the comments, and...gah..I want intelligent discussion, not insane ranting and raving:

XYZ said 987. What a @?*! Everybody knows 123
ABC said 234 and he's a &*$#.
No. XYX is a @#%.
No, ABC is, and so are you, you #&@ !
Same to you, $#%& !

Except that blogs from the other side of the other end of the political spectrum look even worse.

I've also been following LDS-oriented blogs, and might like to link to some of them, except that the largest aggregator or portal seems to have something of a liberal bias, and I haven't found a better one yet. (yes, I'm too lazy to maintain a list of my own favorites here. Or maybe it's not lazy...It's just that blogging isn't really all that high a priority and I have other things to do).
Reading intelligent, informed commentary on practically any subject makes me feel ignorant, so wind up going back to work on my knowledge base . so I don't feel like I'm in one of those nightmares where I find myself suddenly unclothed in front of a crowd whenever I say anything.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Indenendence Day

I'm thankful that I was born and raised in the United States of America. 232 years ago, when faced with a government that refused to hear their petitions and sent troops to crush their protests, a freedom loving group of men declared that they would no longer be ruled by a king or his representatives, but that instead they would govern themselves. The signers of the Declaration pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the cause of liberty, and most of them paid a price, some of them a heavy one, for that support. But not one of them turned back and renounced it.

Some of those same men met 11 years later to craft a new government, intended to express the principles of self-government, strong enough to protect the liberties they had fought for, but not so strong as to take them away. By the test of time, they succeeded magnificently: They established a nation that has set an example to the world of the blessings of liberty, the greatest defender of that liberty, the wonder and envy of all other people.

Like the grandsons of a wealthy man, we have not earned these blessings by our own effort or worth. We are warned that we become lifted up in pride, and become full of lies, and deceits, and mischief, hypocrisy, strife, murders, whoredoms, and secret abominations, the sword of God's justice will hang over us, and it will fall when the voice of the people chooses evil over good.

So I take a brief moment to celebrate, but then it's time to take my three hundred millionth part to help us, and our future generations, to keep and preserve the kind of freedom our ancestors fought and bled for.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

So I've been gone a while

Did anyone miss me? I didn't really think so. I got involved in other things and I just didn't think I had anything I really felt I had to say. But, if I want to be a common 'tater of any kind, I suppose I need to generate some comments.
I've been looking at the California gay marriage issue. It's amazing to me how easily some people are taken in by the rhetoric about "equal rights". I'll probably have words to say about that, but probably not tonight.

Just for entertainment, over at Hot Air , I saw this.
At the start of the event Tuesday morning, City Council President Michael Hancock introduced singer Rene Marie to perform the national anthem.
Instead, she performed the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is also known as the “black national anthem.”

Afterwards, she explained:
“When I decided to sing my version, what was going on in my head was: ‘I
want to express how I feel about living in the United States, as a black woman,
as a black person,”

Some of the more pointed/funnier comments at Hot Air

How about putting her race before her country, and deceiving the audience as to her intent? Tribalism before country?

This reveals much about a certain subset of negro society. They view themselves as ‘living here’, but they are not Americans.

But the singer herself said she did it for racial (racist) reasons. It’s not knee-jerk to take offense when offense is intended. The singer did not replace the lyrics in order to expose her audience to a great, spiritually-uplifting song. She did it to make a point about how racist she thinks America still is. She did it to metaphorically raise her middle finger at the country that gives her the freedom to replace the lyrics of its national anthem without fear of reprisal beyond public outrage.

Rene Marie is a jackass. I’m a musician. If you are hired to play/sing something-play it!If the bride wants to hear Wagner’s Wedding March for her wedding processional, I don’t play “Farmer in the freakin’ Dell” ’cause I felt like it.When I order scallops at a restaurant, I don’t want the chef to cook liver and onions for me ’cause he felt like it.In a word-unprofessional.

Friday, April 25, 2008

FLDS and due process of law

I've been somewhat following the action taken by the state of Texas against the FLDS group. Regardless of my opinion of their religious teaching, it appears to me that the state has committed massive violations of the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments to the Constitution.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in
their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a
capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases
arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service
in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same
offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in
any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Granted that is has been argued that, strictly speaking, the Bill of Rights only applies to the Federal government, but the courts have held that all its provisions apply to the states as well. But from the Texas Contitution;

Article 1 Section 9: The people shall be secure in their
persons, houses, papers and possessions, from all unreasonable seizures or
searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing,
shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable
cause, supported by oath or affirmation.

Article 1 section 10: In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall
have a speedy public trial by an impartial jury. He shall have the right to
demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy
thereof. He shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself, and shall
have the right of being heard by himself or counsel, or both, shall be
confronted by the witnesses against him and shall have compulsory process for
obtaining witnesses in his favor, except that when the witness resides out of
the State and the offense charged is a violation of any of the anti-trust laws
of this State, the defendant and the State shall have the right to produce and
have the evidence admitted by deposition, under such rules and laws as the
Legislature may hereafter provide; and no person shall be held to answer for a
criminal offense, unless on an indictment of a grand jury, except in cases in
which the punishment is by fine or imprisonment, otherwise than in the
penitentiary, in cases of impeachment, and in cases arising in the army or navy,
or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.
(Amended Nov. 5, 1918.)

If the mothers and fathers had been suspected of murder, or drug dealing, or armed robbery, the state would have been required to produce probable cause before arresting them and forcibly separating them from their children. But apparently, the mere suspicion of child abuse is sufficient that all these constitutional provisions can be waived.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blogging the Book of Mormon 1 Ne 11

In response to Nephi's pondering on his father's vision, he was caught away in vision onto a mountaintop. The Spirit of the Lord questioned him about his belief in his father's vision, commended for his belief in the Son of the Most High God, asked what he wanted, and then showed it to him. One of the interesting comments of this vision is that the Spirit of the Lord appeared to Nephi in the form of a man.
An angel then descended to give Nephi a guided tour in which he saw a virgin, who is identified as the "mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh". There are some who have made a great deal of this particular phrase and what it might mean about how Jesus might have been concieved, but all of it is speculative. Nephi was not shown details: The woman was carried away in the Spirit, and then reappeared holding a child.
Nephi was then given a preview of Jesus' ministry, including his baptism at the hands of the prophet his father had spoken of, his receiving the Holy Ghost, his miracles and healings, twelve disciples, called the apostles, and his trial and crucifixion. In the course of the vision, several of the symbols of Lehi's dream were interpreted: the Iron rod being the word of God, the tree and a fountain of living water being the love of God, and the great and spacious building without a foundation being the pride of the world. Nephi was shown that that building fell, and was told that all those who fought against the twelve apostles would likewise fall.

Nephi was then shown the future of his descendants and those of his brothers in the promised land: He saw numerous as the sands of the sea, great wars, contentions, and slaughters, and many cities. He was then shown natural disasters: Darkness, lightnings, thundering, earthquakes, noises, collapsing mountains and broken plains, and cities that were sunken, buried, burned, and shaken down. These were attributed to the judgments of God. The Lamb of God appeared to the survivors, chose twelve disciples among them. (When I was young, I recall puzzled by the reference to their "garments being made white in the blood of the Lamb", but later I understood this to be metaphorical). Three generations and many of the fourth lived in righteousness, but afterwards Nephi's descendants and those of his brothers gathered together in warfare, his own descendants were overpowered and slain, and those of his brothers during and after many generations of warfare, "after they had dwindled in unbelief, they became a dark, and loathesome, and filthy people". (To those who claim this as evidence of Mormon racism, I would reply that this has more to do with the coloring of their souls than of their skins, and I can show evidence of it, later in the book.)
More symbols of Lehi's dream were expounded: there was a fountain of filthy water, and the river Lehi spoke of was also filthiness. The mists of darkness were the temptations of the devil, that harden the hearts and blind the eyes of men, and the building again refers to vain imagination and pride.

Monday, February 25, 2008

One of the blogs I regularly read, "Captain's Quarters" run by Ed Morrissey is closing down, as
he has taken a position as a regular at "Hot Air". I'll adjust the links here before too long.

I also saw that NASA is trying to resurrect an old idea of establishing a lunar farside radio observatory. That's been one of my favorite ideas for some time, and I'd love to see it happen.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogging the Book of Mormon 1 Ne 9-10

Nephi recounts that he has made two sets of plates for recordkeeping purposes, both of which were named the plates of Nephi. One set is called for convenience, (as will be noted later) the larger plates of Nephi. These contained, or were to contain, an account of the history of Nephi's people, including the reigns of kings, wars and contention, and so forth.

The other set is called for convenience, the smaller plates of Nephi. This was to give an account of the ministry. The First (and Second) books of Nephi in the current Book of Mormon are taken from this second set of plates.

Back in 1 Ne 1:17, Nephi mentioned part of the plan of his work: First, he would abridge the record of his father, then, he would make an account of his own life and ministry. at the beginning of chapter 10 he announces that he has now finished the abridgement of his father's record and proceeding with his own account, picking up with more of Lehi's prophecies.
Lehi prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed, and many of its inhabitants carried captive into Babylon, and that many of them would return. Then, in six hundred years, a Messiah would be born. (it's not clear whether this six hundred years was an exact or a round number).

Lehi also spoke of a prophet who was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, and quotes some of the same language used by John the Baptist, ("he is mighter than I, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose"), and said that he was to baptize in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, and hat he would baptize the Messiah. Lehi made a brief reference to the gospel that would be preached among the Jews, that the Jews would dwindle in unbelief, and that after the Messiah had been crucified and arisen from the dead, that Jesus would manifest himself by the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles.

Lehi then makes reference to a metaphor of olive culture, that the House of Israel was to be compared to an olive tree whose branches were to be broken off and scattered throughout the world. Afterwards, they would gathered again, or after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the scattered remnants of Israel would be gathered in, or brought to the knowledge of their Messiah, their Lord and Redeemer.

This is almost the first reference to the theme of the scattering and redemption of Israel, which occurs repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon. Paul (Romans 11:16-25) used a similar metaphor. Later in the Book of Mormon, a far more extensive allegory is given comparing the house of Israel to an olive tree.

Nephi mentions (As he did on chapter 6) that he is not recording all his father's prophecies, but that he did record many of them in his other book.

After hearing this discourse, he wanted to see, hear, and know of all these things for himself, by the spirit of prophesy. This prompts a digression: first a declaration that the Holy Ghost is the gift of God to all who diligently seek him, in times of old, at the present, and in the future, and that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to them, and second a call to repentance and a promise of judgment on those who seek to do wickedly during their probation.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Law and reason

A reader asked for a clarification on what Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said last week, and why it matters. The earliest reference I was able to hunt down quickly was this one from the Telegraph, but the comments were made in a radio address.
This became a big controversy because of the number of Muslims who have immigrated to England in recent decades and years and who have not assimilated into British society, but have tried to keep their own religion, customs, and language. A number of British fear that their legal traditions will be altered by the uncritical and wholesale adoption of distasteful aspects of Sharia, or muslim law.
This is not a new or uncommon fear. It is part of why the Mormons were persecuted in Missouri: There, the older settlers took matters into their own hands regardless of law and drove the Mormons out. American immigrants into Texas brought their own governmental preferences, culture, and language, and succeded in separating from Mexico, and joining the US, as some evidence that the fear is not entirely without foundation. Now, in the 21st century, the illegal immigration from Mexico provokes similar fears in the US.
I'm not sure that the British legal system, or the American legal system derived from it, is inherently more just in all aspects than any aspect of Muslim law. Certainly there are aspects of Sharia that are repellent. There are also aspects of American law that are unjust and repellent. If were were interested in justice as an idea more than a reflexive adherence to our own traditions, it might be well to study Sharia, compare and contrast it to American law, and see whether there is anything that it would be worthwhile to accept. On reviewing Archbishop William's comments, as close as I can come with a rather cursory search, I think this is what he is saying, and to call his comments a form of "surrender" is bit unfair.
But the whole debate has become so polarized and highly charged politically that it's hard for calm reason to have any influence.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In fairness

Things like this American Cowboys post at Blackfive are why I support the US military and what it is doing in Iraq. What our men are doing isn't just fighting al-Qaeda directly; they are also teaching the people there how to live in freedom without us having to be there. In the meantimes, I find arguments like this one at Council of Fifty rather ignorant, at least of this aspect of our effort.
As I read various political blogs, I'm rather bothered that the level of discourse descends to the level of calling one another vile and vulgar names. There are, occasionally, intelligent and informative comments offered. I'd like to follow more of them, although sometimes they are more than I want to read carefully.
Apparently, in the primary elections in Virginia and Maryland, McCain is ahead, and so is Obama. I don't know that I have expressed a preference on the Democratic nominee except that I don't care for either of them. And since I'm not a member of the Democratic party, I don't have a vote, until November.
I've seen preliminary reports that the "peaceful" protests against the USMC Recruiting station in Berkely are turning a bit less so, now that supporters of the Marines have shown up in numbers. I'll have to watch this: I have had an evil sneaking suspicion that the so-called peace lovers of Code Pink were likely to turn violent in an ugly fashion. But that could be just my prejudice.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blogging the Book of Mormon 1 Ne. 8

In this chapter, Nephi records one of his father's prophetic dreams. This one, unlike ordinary dreams, is an extended account full of important imagery. Lehi finds himself bidden by a man in a white robe to follow, for several hours through a dark and dreary waste. After praying for God's mercy, he sees a tree in the middle of a large field, a tree, laden with a sweet, white fruit, that filled him with joy when he tasted it. He began looking for his family in order to share it, and saw a river of water running near it. He then saw his wife and two younger sons at the head of the stream, looking undecided about where to go. He called them over to eat the fruit, which they did, and then he fould his older two sons, and called to them, but they would not come. Then, he saw a stright and narrow path and rod of iron leading from the head of the stream to the tree, a large world-sized field, and innumerable people looking for the tree. A thick, dark mist arose, and most of the people lost their direction. Some of them found the straight and narrow path, and by holding onto the rod, reached the tree, ate its fruit, and then looked down, ashamed. Lehi looked for the cause of their shame, and saw a large building, standing in air without a foundation, filled with people in fine dress, who were pointing at and mocking those who were at the tree. Those who reached the tree and heeded those who were mocking left, while the ones who remained ignored the mockers. Other multitudes wandered in all directions: Many feeling their way towards the building, many falling into the river and drowning, and others wandering out of sight on strange roads.
After waking, Lehi called his family to recount this vision, and took the occasion to exhort, preach, and prophesy to his sons, especially his older ones, in fear that it signified they were in danger of being cut off from the Lord's presence.
In later chapters, Nephi returns to this dream and interprets the imagery.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Romney's out

I was wondering what Romney was going to accomplish by campaigning all the way to the convention, since his worse-than-I-expected showing on Tuesday left him far behind McCain. I wondered if it would be better for him to cut his losses and look to the future.
Apparently that's what he decided, too. I think it's a sensible, even a wise move. I'd like to see where he goes from here.

In looking over my usual poliitical blogs, I see there's a flap going on over remarks made by the Archbishop of Canterbury. I'll have to look into that a bit further. I don't have a high regard for the Anglican church in the first place. I could go on about what I think its moral failings are, but since I haven't studied it carefully, I should probably stay safe and refrain from a public demonstration of ignorance, prejudice, and folly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Not-so-super Tuesday

I stayed up until late watching election returns on the Internet. I'm disappointed at Romney's poor showing. He won in the Western states, and in Massachussets, but came in second or third everwhere else, sometimes a poor third. I was surprised to see Huckabee do so well.
So, while I continue to support Romney, I have no hope that he's going to be the next Presudent of the United States. Over at Mormon Mentality, One commenter, Seth R in Comment #22 has one analysis that looks right to me. I also tend to agree with AHLDuke at Weightier Matters.
I haven't liked John McCain since I lived in Arizona, but if he's the nominee, I'll hold my nose and vote for him. As I've said before, I really don't trust that Bill Clinton won't be the power behind the Presidency, and I have no wish to see him in the White House; I don't trust either Hillary's or Barak Obama's foreign policy sense, and I don't care for the Democrat philosophy of government.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Blogging the Book of Mormon 1 Ne. 5-7

Apparently, Leni's sons took longer than expected going back to Jerusalem to get the plates, because Sariah became convinced that they had perished in the wilderness. Lehi assured her that it was not so, and seems to have been more concerned with their encounters with Laban.
Nephi's account mentions that he had been told they would be let to a land of Promise, but this is the first time Lehi is recorded as mentioning it.

Lehi searched the brass plates, and summarized their content: The five books of Moses, a record of the Jews from the beginning down to Zekeiah's reign, and a genealogy of Lehi's ancestors. Although Lehi lived in Jerusalem, he was actually a descencent of Joseph. Nephi records a prophecy by his father that the brass plates would never perish nor be dimmed any more by time, but that they would go to all the "nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples" of his posterity.

Nephi then stops to explain that he is not giving an account of his father's ancestry, but his purpose in writing this particular record is to persuade men to come to God and be saved.

After examining the brass plates, Lehi then told his sons that the Lord had said it was not expedient for them to go into the promised land alone, but that his sons should marry first. Accordingly, Lehi's sons went back to Jerusalem to persuade one Ishmael with his five umarried daughters and two married sons to come out of Jerusalem with Lehi. Ishmael agreed, and they set out for Lehi's wilderness camp. On the return journey there was a division in the party: Laman and Lemuel, Ishamel's two sons, and two of the daughters wanted to go back to Jerisalem, while their parents and other three daughters, Nephi, and Sam wished to continue.
Nephi told them that if they did, they would die with the rest of Jerusalem. He throws in a reference to Jeremiah's imprisonment (Jer 32:2, Evidently Jerusalem had not yet been besieged). Laman and Lemuel took offense and tied Nephi up to leave him to die in the desert. Nephi escaped his bonds in a miraculous fashion (though not the impressive display of strength he had asked for), and again intefered. This time, he persuaded one of the rebellious sons and a daughter to side with him, and they in turn pursuaded Laman and Lemuel. All was forgiven (though not forgotten), and the party returned to Lehi's wilderness camp. Nephi records that they offered sacrifices and burnt offferings. This was the third time they had done so: First when they arrived, second on their return with the brass plates.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blues, rebellion, and sickness

Alright, it's time I pulled myself out of the funk that Mitt Romney's loss in Florida Tuesday sent me into. He hasn't given up yet, and I intend to support him, miniscule as my support may be, as long as he's in the race.

Also last Tuesday, the Peace and Justice commission of the city of Berkely, California recommended that the City declare the US Marine Corps recruiting station to be uninvited and unwelcome intruders, and the city did so. Now, the USMC is committed to defend the constitutional rights of these people against all enemies (especially foreign ones). But when protesters delare agencies of the United States Government to be unwelcome in their town, and actively impede its operations, they are abusing those rights. They have a foot on that fine line that separates legitimate disagreement from treason. There are things worse than war.

One of them is Al-Qaeda's use of women with Down Syndrome as "suicide" bombers. I have a son with Down Syndrome, and I've met quite a few others. The thought of someone using one of these simple minded but generally innocent, outgoing and cheerful people to commit wholesale murder of people who are minding their own business is absolutely sickening. The people who do this kind of thing are not fit to live in human society: they should be hunted down and quickly sent home to God to be rewarded according to their works.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley

I was going to note other things, but I'm going to stop to take note of the death of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. I suppose I'm dating myself to remember David O. McKay as the Church president in his declining years, then Joseph Fielding Smith, and the unexpectedly early death of Harold B. Lee, and the dynamic leadership of Spencer W. Kimball. As President Kimball's health, and then those of his counselors declined, Gordon B. Hinckley was called on to act as the first Presidency's Executive. The same thing happened with Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter.

I had long been impressed with President Hinkley's manner: his unflinching denunciation of abuse of family, pornography, and other modern ills; his good humor, and his optimism. I remember thinking and even saying that if there was such thing as a man of God, he was one.

That impression never changed. He encouraged LDS to be less clannish and more welcoming of those who believe differently, he encouraged members to be just a little bit better on a daily basis, he initiated a widespread program of temple-building in corners of the earth which otherwise would have had no temples, he initiated the Perpetual Education Fund for the education of returned missionaries (and other youth) in developing countries, encouraged Humanitarian efforts on a wide scale, and in countless other ways, in both word and deed, set examples for all.

I must confess that I don't have the same feeling for President Monson, whom I expect to occupy the office of President of the Church. I know that a great many church members already love him and I will certainly sustain him. In a different way, he also is a godly man. But he hasn't yet touched my heart in the same way. President Hinckly articulated and confirmed many of the teachings and truths I hold nearest and dearest. I will miss him.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Republican debates

I haven't commented much on the recent Republican debate in Florida. I didn't see it, although I switched back and forth between various blogs that were liveblogging it and have some idea what was said. It appeared to be the majority opinion that Romney did best, which should help his chances in Florida's primary election next Tuesday. McCain isn't helping himself with endorsements from liberals and Democrats, or by making false accusations against Romney, either. But we'll see what voters think in a few days.
The Democratic process hasn't entirely escaped my notice, either. I notice that Clinton and Obama seem to be getting into a rather nasty personal fight, and even liberal Democrats are starting to get disgusted with Hillary and Bill's campaign tactics.

I don't know what it is that causes some blogs to take 3 and 5 minutes to load sometimes. It's a royal pain.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Sometime about 1999 I started paying attention to what was going on in reusable launch vehicles instead of the expendable rockets that have been used since the 1950s. I was interested in the X-prize and the various competitors for it. Bert Rutan's Scaled Composites was one of the few companies that was actually building hardware, and I saw them take an early lead, and eventually with the prize with the combination of WhiteKnight One and Spaceship One. I also noticed that they had contracted with Virgin Galactic to design a larger version that would actually take paying passengers into suborbital flight. I also noted the White Knight Two and Space Ship Two were scheduled to be unveiled today, so I was watching for it, and a first look is now available.
It's less of a ride than a trip on the ISS; only suborbital, but at a tenth the price ($200, 000 for a Virgin Galactic flight), so it's within range of a lot more people: There is a waiting list of prepaid customers. The word is that the White Knight carrier craft is about 80% built, and flight tests set to begin later this year. The SpaceShip Two craft is supposed to begin drop tests, but there's a bit of a delay on developing the rocket engines due an accident at Scaled Composites last year.
Scaled Composites has contracted to build several more vehicles.
This is how it ought to be done. Design the vehicles, build them, fly them, test them, and repeat. In the meantime, run a profitable enterprise. The more you do this, the more experience you get, and the next cycle of development is cheaper and more profitable. You build a market and the infrastructure to support it. I'm watching for more developments in this field: Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic aren't the only players: they are, at present, the pioneers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Catching up

I had intended to take note of Mitt Romney's results in the Republican primary elections in South Carolina and the caucuses in Nevada, but by now this is old news.
I noted before the election that, at least among conservatively oriented bloggers, Fred Thompson had a majority of support, but his campaign had no legs. This was indeed the case, and most of his supporters seem to be looking at Romney as their next best choice. Also, Mike Huckabee's campaign is running out of money. He's been appealing to conservative evangelicals, but is only getting about half of them, and hardly anyone else. He may continue to do fairly well in the so-called Bible Belt, but that's not enough to get him elected. John McCain's campaign is also short on cash. Rudy Giuliani focused his strategy on ignoring the early contests and concentrating on the big states, but at least in the polls, this strategy doesn't seem to be working. Amazingly, Romney could come out ahead in Florida. If he does so, he will have a commanding lead in delegates, which will put him in excellent position in the various elections on Feb 5.

I also wanted to note the passing of Bobby Fischer. He used to write a column on chess for Boy's Life, which I used to read as I was learning the game, and I was delighted to see him win the World Championship. However, I also noted the controversy he caused by picky and unreasonable demands. Then, after the championship, he disappeared and practically gave up competitive chess. When he did surface, his actions were bizarre and bordered on the irrational. I was sorry to see his decline: he was a genius at what he did, for a time.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blogging the Book of Mormn 1 Ne 4

Nephi persuaded his reluctant older brothers to accompany him as far as the wall of Jerusalem and went into the city, alone at night. He said that he was "led by the Spirit", not knowing in advance what he would do. As he approached Laban's house, he found Laban himself, armed and armored, passed out drunken in the street. He drew Laban's magnificent steel sword, and as he did so, the Spirit of the Lord told Nephi to kill him. Nephi was reluctant to do so, since he had never killed anyone, but the Spirit repeated the command, informing him that the Lord had delivered Laban into his hands. Nephi considered the cause, that Laban was a wicked man and had robbed them, and a third time, the Spirit explained "Behold, the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief". The purpose was not riches, but to preserve the religious heritage of the Jews for Lehi's entire future lineage. Nephi then did as he was instructed and killed Laban with his own sword. He then dressed himself in Laban's clothing and armor, and in this disguise went to Laban's treasury. There, he encountered Laban's servant who had the keys. Posing as Laban, he ordered the brass plates containing the record he wanted to be brought to be taken to his brothers outside the walls. The servant mistook Laban for his master until they got outside the walls, when his brothers, also supposing Nephi to be Laban, started to run. When Nephi identified himself, Laban's servant also started to run, but Nephi held him long enough to offer him his freedom if he would come with them. The servant, named Zoram, agreed to do so, and he returned with the brothers to Lehi's wilderness camp.

I might reference Exodus 21:13 as well as numerous others Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and 1 and 2 kings, as evidence of that the concept of the Lord delivering enemies into the hands of the Israelites, (or vice versa) was accepted, as were commands to kill them if that should occur. This is a view rather foreign to modern Western culture where God is viewed as distant and not actively involved in determining the outcome of battles or conflicts.
I also note that these brass plates could have been lost and destroyed along with the rest of Jerusalem had they remained there.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Average day

I didn't see much new that I wanted to take note of on the political blogs, and nothing in space or with the authors whose blogs I follow. But I did pick up a couple of tidbits from the bloggernacle.
I noted that there is a study from Vanderbilt University which backs up a suspicion that I have had, that some of the charges that Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper come from conservative evangelicals who use them as a cover, but whose basic dislike comes from their dislike of Mormonism. How big that effect is I don't know.
But the one that tickled me is the advice to Have an Average Day. There's a lot to be said for that approach. Sometimes steady, regular, average daily performance at something really does add up, over time, to extraordinary results.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Baptist missionaries

I wrote a post yesterday, and put it on the wrong blog. I moved it, which is why I have two posts today.

I really don't see much to comment on in the political arena; lots more talk, no new results; more or less the same in the reusable launch vehicle industry, and about the same in the bloggernacle (the community of Mormon bloggers).

I had a pair of Baptists come tracting at my door today, and basically told them I had my own religion and wasn't interested in theirs. They asked whether, if I died today, whether I could be sure I was going to heaven: I said I'd leave that up to God. They tried to offer me a tract, andI said no thanks, I have a Bible and read it whenever I feel like it.

There once was a time when I would have been happy to get into a religious discussion with them. But then I actually had such a discussion. There are too many Baptist ministers who claim that because I'm a Mormon, I'm not even Christian. There are too many of them who are all too convinced that Mormons are ignorant, or deluded, or dishonest, if they say they believe in Christ, and I didn't want to risk getting into that kind of argument. I also didn't feel like getting into an argument over whether I'm saved or not, or whether I ought to be sure that I am, While I'm sure it would be good for me if I felt like reading the Bible a little more often, or even if I read it when I don't much feel like it, I didn't feel like arguing about that, either.

Romney wins Michigan

So Romney took first place in the primary election in Michigan, doing slightly better than the polling suggested. Good for him. I'm pleased. I think it's going to be a long race for the Republican nomination. Most of the conservative political commentators I've been reading prefer Thompson, but I don't think his campaign has the legs for it. I'm not sure Huckabee's does, either. When this race started last year, I was afraid Hillary Clinton was going to be unstoppable, and that's definitely who I didn't wan. Now, I'm not quite so concerned. Nothing outstanding on any of the other topics I've been watching.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another Monday

Although I'm interested in politics, I have little detailed knowledge of the subject and less influence. Rather than join the pundits trying to predict or handicap the race for the US Presidency, I'm mostly going to watch. I understand the Michigan primaries are coming up soon, so we'll see what happens.
I notice that Brandon Sanderson is having the same kind of difficulties with sleep I'm been having. At least I don't have a family to complicate matters.
Over the weekend, I posted a few entries over at Mormon Matters on What's wrong with the creeds of Christendom. And, by way of Mormon Mommy Wars, I learned that if I were a dog, I'd probably be a German Shepherd.
And, over at my other blog, Independent Learning, I have a summary of the day's work on my knowledge base: principally I've been looking at ancient history most recently.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


In my personal studies and work on my knowledge base, from time to time I go back to the prehistoric period and wondering at how little we really know of what went on before the keeping of written records. In my recent studies, I've run across an essay on the antiquity of man that discusses, among other things, how the world-view of the archaeologist, or the historian, influences what is selected and seen as important. That sets me to wondering how much of prehistoric archaeology is influenced by modern biases. I found some particularly notable, (and contradictory) claims in a timeline of ancient history, ssome details of which appear to contradict yet another timeline. All I can tell for certain is that from the scattered clues, it's hard for anyone to say with confidence what was going on.

In my review of stuff I look at on the internet, I didn't see anything that really stood out as notworthy, although I can't say what will happen if I let it stew a while.

I did stay up a bit late trying to trach down the answer to a technical question in astronomy. I learned a lot about the subject, but didn't find the answer I was looking for.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Belated New Year

I've already broken one of my informal New Year's resolutions, which was to write regularly on this blog. Well, it's one I can always mend.

Over the past few weeks, I've been more or less following the campaign for the US Presidency, mostly on the Republican side. I have a preference for Mitt Romney, but that hasn't translated to active support. I can't stand any of the Democrat candidates.

There are about four authors (SF) who blog or write other stuff about what's going on in their lives that I follow.

I've recently picked up something I was interested a few years ago, the concept of a private-sector space industry based on reusable vehicles. It's come a bit further, but still hasn't quite materialized. Not quite like the concept of fusion reactors, which have stayed about 30 years in the future for the past 50, there are now half a dozen companies that are actually building, flying, and testing hardware, where there used to be only one or two.

Also, I've started checking out LDS (Mormon) blogs.

I seem to recall that one of my new year's resolutions was going to be keeping track of the books I've read. So, for the new year, (thanks to a Chrismas gift) I've picked up "Cyteen" by C. J. Cherryh, an old favorite. She was writing a sequel to it last year, but I don't recall the title and I haven't seen it on the to be published list yet. I also picked up "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon, something I've been wanting to read for some time. In my self-directed study, I picked up a couple of Wiley self-teaching guides, one on Chemistry, and one on Physical geography. I also picked up "World-Building" by Stephen Gillett, one of a science fiction writing series. That one I'm actively using for yet another project: a spreadsheet that does astronomical calculations.