Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Faith vs. Knowledge

My friend Dr. Norman Sandridge of Howard University (that sounds cool) has asked me why God requires faith of his creations instead of knowledge. I'll try and explain it as best I understand it. As there are some who read this blog that will have strong opinions one way or the other, I invite all to post comments to this entry so that a healthy dialogue can get started.

What I believe is that when God (Elohim)created the universe, he organized matter into spirits. The first and second spirits that he organized were Jesus (Jehovah) and Lucifer (Mr. Mephistopheles). So when God had finished organizing all the spirits, he put forth his plan that we could all turn out to be just like him, that is eternal gods, because he was once a mortal just like us, created by another god before him and so on ad infinitum (As men are, God once was, as God is man may become--Lorenzo Snow). The plan included giving us our free agency or right to choose for ourselves. Since all our talents are gifts from God, the only thing that we can truly give Him is our obedience. He knew that some would fail, and thus the need for a Savior or Redeemer was necessary, to prove that someone could live a sinless life and also so that someone who could truly empathize with every single person because he had experienced all pain and suffering, and could then advocate for mercy and justice with the Father on behalf of each individual. God then asked the gathered host who he should send. Jesus answered that he would go and do as God has said. Lucifer said that he could do it without losing a single soul, but he would take their agency away and make them automatons of his will. The substitute proposal was also designed to exalt Lucifer above the throne of God. The Father's response was, "I will send the first" (Jesus/Jehovah). Lucifer rebelled and became Satan. Each spirit had to choose which plan they would follow and there resulted a war in heaven (Rev. 12:4-8), and the third of the spirits who followed Lucifer were cast out and were thrust down to the earth without physical bodies (Rev 12:9; Isaiah 14:12-17).

The reason that I tell this whole story of the war in heaven, that you are most likely already familiar with, is that it helps me to understand why faith is needed. I believe that each person here in the flesh chose this plan previous to our mortal existence. We agreed that it would be much harder to believe by faith alone and that knowledge would in essence take away our agency. Now we can argue that I know my Dad exists but I still chose to disobey him as a child; I have no response to that, other than to say that I would be more inclined to obey GOD ALMIGHTY than my own dad. So God wants our obedience based off of our faith.

Not to become a mystic here and mix the erotic with the spiritual, but sex and thoughts about sex were a huge part of my mental processes until I actually had sex. Now that I have actual carnal knowledge, the thrill of wondering what it will be like is gone forever. Sex is still awesome, but a certain innocence is now gone concerning the imaginative powers of my mind as to the unknown essence of the unknown act. Likewise, in Christianity, it is faith that allows a believer to act and receive. It is by faith that the priesthood functions and by faith that miracles are worked. Knowledge would be great, and some people have been given knowledge, but we all agreed that faith would be sufficient to help us return to live with God. Another thing about knowledge is that it's much harder to explain away misbehavior if you've seen God face to face than if you just believe in Him and have felt His spirit.

Some people can accept faith, some cannot reconcile it with their own logic. I understand doubts and wondering about those who claim faith. If I am wrong and there is no God though, I will have still lived Aristotle's good life and had a fulfilling life because of how I choose to live. I do not believe that I would be any happier than I am now had I continued my sex and alcohol infatuation as a young man. I like pleasure and I am not known for temperance, so I might not even be around anymore. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and thrillseeking might be my story instead of the halfway decent way that I've been trying to be for the last 14 years. I used to think that religion was just something that people invented to help them cope with the finality of death. Could be, but I like to think there's a little something grander in the universe than mere humanity. That is where my hope and faith lies.

Sometimes I do wish God would open the heavens a little and send me an angel or something, but if you believe the Scriptures, when those kind of things happen to people, it's usually because something bad is gonna happen. So, maybe I'll not tempt God. Best thing about faith and maybe being wrong is, once I die, I'll never know it if I'm wrong. But if I'm right, then I'm that much nearer to God. Then of course the Muslims could be right and if so, we're all screwed.

Opinion about human relations

So, I've got a question for everyone. Well really only those people whose opinions I value. Well, really only those people who agree with me. Actually, precious few of you. Stop reading now unless you want to go on. If you're still reading this then maybe your opinion counts. I mean to someone besides you. Not that anyone cares what I think. I like for other people to care what I think. Makes me seem important in the world.

I'm being stupid and sophomoric.

Back on track. Blessed are the peacemakers. I am not a peacemaker. I get pissed off easily. I can be very petty. I remember stuff that I should forget: slights, rudeness, blah blah blah. Say you've got someone who is pretty close to you, whose behavior is bugging the everlovingsnot out of you, but because of interpersonal considerations you don't say anything. At what point does letting something fester inside of you, angering you more and more all the time, become more harmful to you than the confrontation and potential relationship consequences that could follow from telling someone off? It's not something that I can just let go of because it's repetitive and has been building over the course of years. And if you know me, I'm not the type to just shrug off rudeness. My downfall I know. I wish I could find the way to not let it bug me, but I don't think I'm equipped emotionally for that level of selflessness yet.

This question does not involve anyone who reads this blog, so don't worry.

I mean, if someone's behavior is downright rude and selfish, yet they probably think that they are the epitome of Christlike love, do you call them on it? Do you lash out at them? If subtle insinuation and less subtle avoidance of the person don't work? What then? Especially if the person is unavoidable, what do you do? I know what I'm supposed to do, but do you let someone that you really can't stand know that you can't stand them just to make yourself feel better?

Life was much simpler before it got so damned complicated.

Reformed Egyptian

In a followup to yesterday's post, and in order to answer my friend Norman's question about the language the Book of Mormon was written in, here goes:

The golden plates were returned to the angel Moroni by Joseph Smith. On two seperate occasions they were shown to people. A group of Three Witnesses and a group of Eight Witnesses both saw and held the plates and all signed a testimony that is published in the front of each copy of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was inscribed on plates in a language described by Mormon as "Reformed Egyptian" that was a language wholly their own that they had modified during their 1000 years in the Americas. An article by FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) about Ancient Egyptian can be found here:
and here

Also, in yesterday's post I should have made clear that Mormons should be accepting of their non-Mormon neighbors and not expect them to conform. However, they should not accomodate them when such behavior conflicts with their religious beliefs. Everyone needs to stop reading The Vent in the Spectrum newspaper and everyone will get along much better.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Two worlds collided

Joseph Smith first saw God and Jesus Christ at age 14 in a grove of trees near his home in upstate New York in 1820. Three years later he gets a visit from the angel Moroni and the next day Moroni tells him where to find the golden plates that the Book of Mormon is written upon. Four years later he is allowed to take the plates and begin translating them, but is forced to flee to Harmony, PA because of treasure hunters and mobs constantly seeking to rob him of the plates. July 1, 1829 the Book of Mormon translation is finished. April 6, 1830 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is formed in Fayette, NY. In 1831, when the persecution gets too severe, he leads the church to Kirtland, OH and then later to Independence, MO; Far West, MO; and finally Nauvoo, IL. Along the way he is tarred and feathered, thrown into jail, tortured and several of his children die due to exposure caused by mob action. In Nauvoo he is finally killed in his prison cell by an angry mob in 1844. Three years later, the persecution has gotten so severe that the church is forced to leave the USA! They head west to the Great Salt Lake Valley in what is then Mexico, hoping to avoid persecution. Thousands die en route, but they feel it is worth it to find a place to live in peace. There they do find peace from most persecutions. So in an inhospitable desert inhabited sparsely by tiny bands of Native Americans, they build their community. One year later, Utah is suddenly part of the USA (The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo). Slowly, the church grows, people immigrate to Utah and the communities that have been 100% mormon now have a few who are not. The Trans-Continental Railroad brings scores of railroad workers to Ogden. The military bases bring scores more. In the 20th century the non-Mormon population continues to climb. By the late 1980s Salt Lake City is no longer majority Mormon. The little towns in Utah though are still very Mormon. This isn't a culture to them, it's a religion. Not working on Sunday is a crucial part of the faith. That's why there are no grocery stores or shops open on Sundays in small towns.

St. George, UT has a wonderful winter climate. Brigham Young wintered here. It's hot as hell all Summer, but the winter is very mild. Therefore, lots of old people who don't like the humidity of Florida have begun settling here. St. George has very little crime (there are hardly any poor people here). Not many places serve alcohol, and most businesses that are local are closed on Sundays. Newcomers move here and expect to find all of the services that they are used to open on Sundays. They get very upset and rant and rave in the editorial columns of the local newspaper. I wonder if they realize that the very things that make St. George so special are the same things that will be destroyed if the town starts changing to accomodate people who won't accomodate themselves to local customs and traditions. A collision of cultures is happening in St. George and I expect that the Mormons will continue to infuriate people simply because they are doing what their ancestors have been doing since the 1850s. I have never had better customer service anywhere in the world than in St. George. If there is one benefit to the snowbirds settling here, it's that they won't produce any offspring so their numbers can only grow by them buying more houses.

I have no problem with non-Mormons living in Utah, but they should investigate what they're getting themselves into culturally before moving here and then not bitch about it once they do. I would not move to Mecca and expect to be able to drink and whoop it up on Fridays. I certainly would not have my wife walk around dressed like a hoochie and then complain if people stared at me. And I most definitely would not complain in the newspaper about religious toleration when it's me that's intolerant. The Meccans would just be doing their thing, it's me who needs to conform.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not my work

I think that you will be interested to learn that the European Union Commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibilty.

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will reseive this news with joy, and keyboards could have one less letter. Also the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but keyboards kan loose a further letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replased by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 persent shorter. In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always been a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent "e"'s in the languag is disgrasful, and
they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by "z" and "w" by "v".

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from words kontaining "ou", and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru.


Some things must be endured. Some things must be tolerated. Some things have no answer. Some things take time to uncover.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

22 Things I'm Very Thankful For

In no particular order,

#1 That I live in a country where we take a day off and offer prayers of thanks for the blessings that we have. The Lord has truly blessed my family this year.
#2 That my house didn't flood. I cannot imagine the agony and heartache I would've felt, though I have seen that look in the eyes of others as their belongings were dumped by a forklift into a dumpster.
#3 That I have been able to lose over 50lbs. this year. (though I've probably gained five in the last two days).
#4 That I haven't had gout since July. I can live with that.
#5 That my wife has been able to conceive again.
#6 That I had family and friends that have been able to put up with and support my family while we struggle through the aftereffects of Katrina
#7 That David Van Dam is such a spiritual man and a Christlike example to me on how I should my life and how it is possible to live the good life.
#8 For my loving wife, most other women would annoy me if I had to live with them. I think I annoy her. She is wonderful.
#9 For my wife's breasts. I mean come on! I've got to give thanks daily for those titans.
#10 That my daughter Marley has a great imagination, sense of humor, and that she is healthy.
#11 That Jorge Luis Borges wrote enough in his lifetime that it will allow me to write about him during my lifetime--and get paid for it.
#12 That Karie Wright chose Tulane instead of somewhere else for her Masters. She has been a friend in deed this year. KareBear, we love you.
#13 That last year my friend Norman Sandridge and I reconciled our decade long pissiness. A big void in my life has been filled now that we are buddies again.
#14 That I still keep in touch with my missionary buddies. I went and saw Ryan Stout the other night, and though we are older, his voice is unchanged and is a "happy place" that reminds me of good times and someone looking out for me.
#15 That I have been able to make money on ebay this year that has given us some financial freedom. Nothing like self-imposed poverty to make you second-guess your career path
#16 That Dr. Idelber Avelar is the head of my dissertation committee. He is a class act (No, I really doubt he reads my blog, so I'm not kissing up) and a great teacher. I am honored that he is helping me.
#17 That New Orleans was not completely destroyed by the hurricane. Those who think it got what it deserved can seriously kiss my ass.
#18 That we are free enough in this country to criticize the president and have his reaction be to get mad and fire back with words and not bullets. Nothing beats being in New Orleans and actually feeling glad to see soldiers rolling up to check and see who you are after dark. I've been to countries where soldiers are to be feared. I love America!
#19 That Tim Boisvert, a great American, has got my back 24/7
#20 For my wife's eyes. The gateway to her soul and all the cliches aside, I love to look into her eyes, especially when she's....
#21 That ebay gave me $1000 because I lived in New Orleans and was a powerseller.
#22 and the thing I'm most thankful for is the support: verbal, spiritual, monetary, temporal, emotional that all my friends and family, acquaintances and strangers have given me and my family since the hurricane hit. I have been truly overwhelmed by people's generosity and I pray that they will not get donor fatigue, but will continue to help others that are less fortunate than my family. We have sufficient for our needs now, but there are thousands that still need your help.

Thank you all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Passive Agressive

I may seem agreeable to most things and usually in a good mood, but it's not always the case. I admit that I can be passively agressive sometimes. On occasion I find that I let people do things to me so that I can hold it against them and bring it up again in the future. This is a most unChristlike way to behave! My personality and stubbornness would allow me to resist letting others take advantage of me, but like I said, sometimes I let them. We're commanded to forgive everyone their trespasses, but it's really damned hard to forgive some people--especially when they're not asking for forgiveness.

I can get along with most anyone. I grew up in the South, and in my culture, we tease people that we care about. If I don't tease someone, I don't particularly care for them.

And then we have people that are so self-involved that I can barely stand to be around them. You can avoid most people that bug the-ever-loving-hell out of you, but when it's family, it's real hard to do that. I have a second cousin named Bob. He is a loud mouth, obnoxious, crass, lawyer that makes comments like "It's cold, I'm gonna stand behind the casket and Johnny Mac and his belly will keep the wind off me" loudly at his grandma's funeral. I can't stand to be around Bob, but I tolerate him in small doses because he's family.

Hurricane Katrina forced Mickelle, Marley and me from our home over 3 months ago. Since then we have lived the gypsy's life of staying with family. My parents accepted us with open arms. They let us takeover half of their house, definitely cramping their space and their style (yes they do have one). We've all gotten along reasonably well during our time together. It hasn't been easy, but it hasn't been miserable either. I've done everything I can to help out my parents and make our presence as slight as possible.

Mickelle expressed a desire to come and spend some time with her parents. I resisted because I knew that Brady and Emily would be moving into Jackie's new house and that three seperate families living there would be too many for an extended period of time. Mickelle did get me to agree to come out for some time around Thanksgiving. I figured that a little less than two weeks would be tolerable for all involved.

Talk about emotional scarring

So, the teacher in Florida that had vaginal and oral sex with her 14 year old student pleads guilty in open court and gets off without going to jail.

Read the sordid details of exactly where and what she did to the boy, including the patterns shaved into her pubic hair

This was this kid's first sexual experience. At 14, a boy is all hormones and not able to make a rational decisions. At 14, if my teacher had come on to me in this way, I would've done the same thing he did. Sad thing is, that now he is going to have a very skewed view of what to expect sexually in life. Not that I'm any expert, but this sex was devoid of meaning. It was something that he got without any emotional attachment or investment. He cared nothing for her; she was as good as a prostitute to him emotionally. Much ado has been made in the press about how if this were a man teacher having sex with a 14 year old girl, we would lock him up and throw away the key. That's true, but we're missing the point. The young girl would have an emotional attraction to her older male teacher. The boy's story is one of young lust and uncontrollable erections. The violation by a teacher of the sacred trust of parents' children to their safety and education demands harsh justice. She should go to jail.

That the mom claimed that she needed to spare her son the emotional trauma of a trial, that it would "negatively affect my son's emotional and psychological well-being" is poppycock. The boy likely revisits his encounters with his teacher every time he masturbates. All of his friends pat him on the back and congratulate him. That's how boys his age work. All it would affect is the mom's embarrasment at her son's behavior and the quedirán of the gente. The emotional consequences will come later. Let's hope that the emotional scarring will be kept to a minumum so that he never has a first time he berates his next sexual partner; or a first time he thinks about sex with her when he's with someone else. Let's hope that he realizes that there's more to life than sex, and that next time he actually cherishes the emotions and feelings of his partner.

The mom should be ashamed of herself. The teacher needs some time behind bars. The kid needs some therapy. The media need to let this story die.

If five years from now these two try and get married the way that LeTourneau did with her kid, I wish the justice system had a way to prevent it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

If people from the past had the technology we have today...

The results of a great photoshop contest over at

Anthropogenic Global Warming is pure supposition

I remain unconvinced that global warming is man-made. Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850. Who's to say that we are not now in another oscillation such one that caused the Little Ice Age or the Medieval Warm Period? While it is quite possible that we are contributing to an acceleration of a natural phenomenon, wouldn't it be more prudent and far less costly to adapt to the changes rather than fight against them? I think that without a doubt it would be easier to deal with the changes than to futilely try to prevent them. One thing is certain, Mother Nature cannot be tamed. With that said, energy conservation makes sense on all levels. I just think it would be easier to reduce emissions for monetary reasons than to artificially reduce them because of some unproven conceptual theory that we are to blame for the current state of the world. Baffin Island in Canada used to be covered in tropical rain forests, that was not man made.

Remainder is taken from:

In the warmest times of the last 1000 years, southern England had the climate that northern France has now. For example, the difference between the northen-most vineyard in England in the past and present-day vineyard locations in France is about 350 miles. In other terms that means the growing season changed by 15 to 20 percent between the warmest and coldest times of the millenium. That is enough to affect almost any type of food production, especially crops highly adapted to use the full-season warm climatic periods. During the coldest times of the Little Ice Age (LIA), England's growing season was shortened by one to two months compared to present day values. The availability of varieties of seed today that can withstand extreme cold or warmth, wetness or dryness, was not available in the past. Therefore, climate changes had a much greater impact on agricultural output in the past.
Fig. 16 and 17 show the price of wheat and rye, respectively, in various European countries during the LIA.
Figure 16: Prices of wheat expressed in Dutch guilders per 100 kg. in various countries vs. time. (Source: Lamb, 1995)
Figure 17: Price of rye in Germany vs. time expressed as an index. (Source: Lamb, 1995)
Each of the peaks in prices corresponds to a particularly poor harvest, mostly due to unfavorable climates with the most notable peak in the year 1816 - "the year without a summer." One of the worst famines in the seventeenth century occurred in France due to the failed harvest of 1693. Millions of people in France and surrounding countries were killed.
The effect of the LIA on Swiss farms was also severe. Due to the cooler climate, snow covered the ground deep into spring. A parasite, known as Fusarium nivale, which thrives under snow cover, devastated crops. Additionally, due to the increased number of days of snow cover, the stocks of hay for the animals ran out so livestock were fed on straw and pine branches. Many cows had to be slaughtered.
In Norway, many farms located at higher latitudes were abandoned for better land in the valleys. By 1387, production and tax yields were between 12 percent and 70 percent of what they had been around 1300. In the 1460's it was being recognized that this change was permanent. As late as the year 1665, the total Norwegian grain harvest is reported to have been only 67 - 70 percent of what it had been about the year 1300 (Lamb, 1995.)
Fig. 18 shows a chronology of dearth and famine in Scotland during the LIA. Broken lines are years with reported dearth and full lines are years with reported famine.
Figure 18: Dearth and famine in Scotland during the LIA. (Source: Lamb, 1995)
Dots represent years with severe losses of stock (sheep and cattle), usually because of snow.
Impact on Wine Production
People keep records of their most important crops, grapes for wine-making being no exception. Ladurie (1971) notes that there were many "bad years" for wine during the LIA in France and surrounding countries due to very late harvests and very wet summers. The cultivation of grapes was extensive throughout the southern portion of England from about 1100-1300. This area is about 300 miles farther north than the areas in France and Germany that grow grapes today. Grapes were also grown in northern France and Germany at that time, areas which even today do not sustain commercial vineyards. At the time of the compilation of the Domesday Survey in the late eleventh century, vineyards were recorded in 46 places in southern England, from East Anglia through to modern-day Somerset. By the time King Henry VIIIth ascended the throne there were 139 sizeable vineyards in England and Wales - 11 of them owned by the Crown, 67 by noble families and 52 by the church ( In fact, Lamb (1995) suggests that during that period the amount of wine produced in England was substantial enough to provide significant economic competition with the producers in France. With the coming cooler climate in the 1400's, temperatures became too cold for grape production and the vineyards in southern England gradually declined.
German wine production also declined during the cooling experienced after the MWP and during the LIA. Between 1400 and 1700 German wine production was never above 53% of the production before 1300 and at times was as low as 20% of that production (Lamb, 1995.)
Impact on Forests During the Little Ice Age
A study of the tree populations in forests of Southern Ontario by Campbell and McAndrews (1993) shows how the tree population in Europe might have been changed by the LIA. Their analysis of pollen demonstrated that after the year 1400, beech trees, the formerly dominant warmth-loving species, were replaced first by oak and subsequently by pine. Further, the forest under study appears to have remained in disequilbrium with the prevailing climate of today. That suggests that tree population distribution takes hundreds of years to recover from major climate changes.
Impact on Health
The cooler climate during the LIA had a huge impact on the health of Europeans. As mentioned earlier, dearth and famine killed millions and poor nutrition decreased the stature of the Vikings in Greenland and Iceland.
Cool, wet summers led to outbreaks of an illness called St. Anthony's Fire. Whole villages would suffer convulsions, hallucinations, gangrenous rotting of the extremities, and even death. Grain, if stored in cool, damp conditions, may develop a fungus known as ergot blight and also may ferment just enough to produce a drug similar to LSD. (In fact, some historians claim that the Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria was the result of ergot blight.)
Malnutrition led to a weakened immunity to a variety of illnesses. In England, malnutrition aggravated an influenza epidemic of 1557-8 in which whole families died. In fact, during most of the 1550's deaths outnumbered births (Lamb, 1995.) The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) was hastened by malnutrition all over Europe.
One might not expect a typically tropical disease such as malaria to be found during the LIA, but Reiter (2000) has shown that it was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. The English word for malaria was ague, a term that remained in common usage until the nineteenth century. Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) wrote in the Nun's Priest Tale:
You are so very choleric of complexion.Beware the mounting sun and all dejection,Nor get yourself with sudden humours hot;For if you do, I dare well lay a groatThat you shall have the tertian fever's pain,Or some ague that may well be your bane.
In sixteenth century England, many marshlands were notorious for their ague-stricken populations. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) mentioned ague in eight of his plays. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) died of ague in September 1658, which was one of the coldest years of the LIA.
Five indigenous species of mosquito are capable of transmitting malaria in England where they prefer the brackish water along river estuaries. The anaerobic bacterial flora of saline mud produces a strong sulfur odor that was widely believed to be the cause of agues in salt marsh areas (i.e. Shakespeare's "unwholesome fens.") The term malaria comes from the Italian term "mala aria" meaning "bad air."
Impact on Economics
In addition to increasing grain prices and lower wine production, there were many examples of economic impact by the dramatic cooling of the climate. Due to famine, storms, and growth of glaciers ,many farmsteads were destroyed, which resulted in less tax revenues collected due to decreased value of the properties (Lamb, 1995.)
Cod fishing greatly decreased, especially for the Scottish fisherman, as the cod moved farther south. The cod fishery at the Faeroe Islands began to fail around 1615 and failed altogether for thirty years between 1675 and 1704 (Lamb, 1995.) In the Hohe Tauern mountains of the Austrian Alps, advancing glaciers closed the gold mines of the Archbishop of Salzburg who was one of the wealthiest dukes in the empire. The succession of two or three bad summers where the miners could not rely on work in the mines caused them to find employment elsewhere, which resulted in an abrupt end to the mining operations (Bryson, 1977.)
Not all of the economic impact was bad. The fertile fishing grounds of the present day Newfoundland Banks were thought to have been found by fisherman in the late 1400's who were looking for the fish stocks that had deserted their former grounds as the result of the movement of colder waters from the north (Lamb, 1995.)
English fisherman benefited by the southern movement of herring normally found in the waters off Norway. This increase in deep-sea fishing helped to build the maritime population and strength of the country (Lamb, 1995.) The failure of crops in Norway between 1680 and 1720 was a prime reason for the great growth of merchant shipping there. Coastal farmers whose crops failed turned to selling their timber and to constructing ships in order to transport these timbers themselves (Lamb, 1995.)
Social Unrest
Conditions during the LIA led to many cases of social unrest. The winter of 1709 killed many people in France. Conditions were so bad, a priest in Angers, in west-central France, wrote: "The cold began on January 6, 1709, and lasted in all its rigor until the twenty-fourth. The crops that had been sewn were all completely destroyed.... Most of the hens had died of cold, as had the beasts in the stables. When any poultry did survive the cold, their combs were seen to freeze and fall off. Many birds, ducks, partidges, woodcock, and blackbirds died and were found on the roads and on the thick ice and frequent snow. Oaks, ashes, and other valley trees split with cold. Two thirds of the vines died.... No grape harvest was gathered at all in Anjou.... I myself did not get enough wine from my vineyard to fill a nutshell." (Ladurie, 1971) In March the poor rioted in several cities to keep the merchants from selling what little wheat they had left.
The winter of 1739-40 was also a bad one. After that there was no spring and only a damp, cool summer which spoiled the wheat harvest. The poor rebelled and the governor of Liège told the rich to "fire into the middle of them. That's the only way to disperse this riffraff, who want nothing but bread and loot." (Ladurie, 1971)
Lamb (1995) reports the occurrence of cattle raids on the Lowlanders by Highlanders who were stressed by the deteriorating climate. In 1436, King James I of Scotland was murdered while hunting on the edge of the Highland region near Perth. The clan warfare grew so bad that it was decided that no place north of Edinburgh Castle was safe for the king so Edinburgh became the capital of the country.
In England, the effect of starvation and the poor condition of the country encouraged men to enlist during the War of the Roses (1455-1485.) As tillable land was converted to other uses such as sheep rearing, the landlords who organized the conversions became the focus of many hostilities.
One group in particular suffered from the poor conditions - people thought to be witches (Behringer, 1999.) Weather-making was thought to be among the traditional abilities of witches and during the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries many saw a great witch conspiracy. Extensive witch hunts took place during the most severe years of the LIA, as people looked for scapegoats to blame for their suffering.
One of history's most notorious quotes might have been due in part to a rare extremely warm period during the LIA. In northern France in 1788, after an unusually bad winter, May, June, and July were excessively hot, which caused the grain to shrivel. On July 13, just at harvest time, a severe hailstorm (which typically occurs when there is very cold air aloft) destroyed what little crops were left. From that bad harvest of 1788 came the bread riots of 1789 which led to Marie Antoinette's alleged remark "Let them eat cake," and the storming of the Bastille.
Art and Literature
Writers and artists were also influenced by the great change in climate. In 1816, "the year without a summer," many Europeans spent their summers around the fire. Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein, and Polidori, The Vampire. Both authors, together with Byron and Percy Shelley, were in Switzerland, near Lake Geneva where Byron said "We will each write a ghost story." Percy Shelley also referred to a glacier in his poem "Mont Blanc" when he wrote "…and wall impregnable of beaming ice. The race of man flies far in dread; his work and dwelling vanish…"
Neuberger (1970) studied more than 12,000 paintings in 41 art museums in the United States and eight European countries to test his hypothesis that paintings would accurately reveal the climate record. These paintings covered the period from 1400 to 1967. He categorized the blueness of the sky into a three-step scale consisting of pale blue, medium blue, and deep blue. Cloudiness was estimated according to the U.S. airways code: clear (less than 10 percent coverage), scattered (10 to 50 percent), broken (60 to 90 percent), and overcast (more than 90 percent cloud coverage.) In addition, the types of clouds were observed according to four families: high, middle, low, and convective (vertically-developed) clouds. Neuberger separated his data into three epochs. According to the data in Fig. 19 below, during the second epoch when the LIA was at its peak, cloudiness and darkness prevailed.
Figure 19: Epochal changes in various painting features. (Source: Neuberger, 1970)
Neuberger suggests that the similarities between the second and third epochs have more to do with a stylistic change in the third epoch to impressionism which produced hazy atmospheres and also to an increase in industrial pollution.
Frequency of Storms
Fig. 20 shows the number of reported severe sea floods per century in the North Sea region.
Figure 20: Number of reported sea floods per century in the North Sea region. (Source: Lamb, 1995)
During the LIA, there was a high frequency of storms. As the cooler air began to move southward, the polar jet stream strengthened and followed, which directed a higher number of storms into the region. At least four sea floods of the Dutch and German coasts in the thirteenth century were reported to have caused the loss of around 100,000 lives. Sea level was likely increased by the long-term ice melt during the MWP which compounded the flooding. Storms that caused greater than 100,000 deaths were also reported in 1421, 1446, and 1570. Additionally, large hailstorms that wiped out farmland and killed great numbers of livestock occurred over much of Europe due to the very cold air aloft during the warmer months. Due to severe erosion of coastline and high winds, great sand storms developed which destroyed farmlands and reshaped coastal land regions. Impact of Glaciers

Fired pregnant teacher sues Catholic school

Read this article:

So, let's look past the soothsayers and lawyers here and really get down to what this entails. Does a private employer that is religiously based have the ability to terminate an employee if said employee violates the morals clause of their contract?

People send their kids to Catholic schools for several reasons, one of which is that the children will have a mixture of both secular and religious instruction. Part of Christianity, and most mainstream religions, is adherence to a moral code. Whether that code is obeyed heteronomously or autonomously does not matter as long as it is obeyed, the individual will be in good standing with the deity worshipped. In any moral code, there are rewards or blessings for obedience and consequences of disobedience. We can control the rewards but we cannot control the consequences.

In the case of pregnancy out of wedlock there is an innately unfair burden placed on women. Men have no outward signs of having fornicated, but obviously women do, therefore they are more likely to be targeted for dismissal or censure for breaking the moral code than men. This is not fair; it is wholly unfair, but it happens nonetheless. Some institutions that make employees adhere to a morals clause in their contracts get around this problem by requiring an ecclesiastical endorsement of some type from each person on a regular (say annual or biannual) basis. Provided the person is truthful, the institution is capable of determining if their employees are living the standards they want them to live. Of course if fornication has temporal consequences, people are far more likely to lie about it to keep their jobs than to freely admit their misdeed. This has always been a problem for me with the way that BYU handles violations of their honor code. (Though if someone is truly repentant they shouldn't care about temporal consequences, but should want to make it right with the Lord). Female employees are thus punished far more often than men when they get pregnant.

However, I argue that the burden of ensuring equality does not fall on the employer but on the employee. If you know that you will be fired for having a child out of wedlock, and then you get pregnant, you cannot claim discrimination after the fact. I believe that a religious institution should have the right to discriminate based off of BEHAVIOR. Not hiring someone because they are a woman, or a minority is wrong. Not hiring someone because they cannot live a moral code is something I whole-heartedly support and think should be the basis for all private employers (not just religious institutions).

Therefore, I think that this woman's termination could have been prevented by her own actions, and I beg the court to side against her. Otherwise, the ability of people to establish rules of behavior and decorum for their employees is hampered. She does have the right to be pregnant. She just doesn't have the right to expect to keep her job teaching little children when her morals cannot pass muster under the system she is trying to teach.

A bee in someone's bonnet

So, John Donne in his Biathanatos, essentially writes a defense of suicide. He reasons that since Jesus Christ was creator of this world, a literal first-born of Heavenly Father, and capable of discerning the future, then his death was voluntary--ergo a suicide. From a catholic point of view with Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost all being one personage, that would mean that God created the universe and the earth as his own gallows. He created it so that he would be killed by it. Iron was created to form the nails, thorns were created to form his crown, lumber to form his cross, mankind to crucify him.

It's a really gnostic idea to see the world as an imperfect creation, as something that should be rejected. Suicide would be the ultimate rejection of life on Earth.

We must realize however that these positions fail to mention that Jesus chose not to execise his divine powers to prolong his life. Any other man in that position would've died just as he did. We cannot claim it was a suicide merely because he did not act as a deity. He lived his life as a man, to have done otherwise would have made his sacrifice irrelevant, because in order for it to redeem us, it had to have been done by someone who could then turn to us and say, "I did it" now you try.

Didier Jaén has written:
A consequence of this doctrine is the idea that the world is thus utterly divorced from the truly divine. It is, in fact, a prison or a deception, and the way to salvation is complete rejection of everything created. The world is not a bridge to the divine but an almost impenetrable obstacle. Rejection is the cardinal virtue, and suicide becomes a symbolic act of rejection. Metafiction, too, with its exposition of the tricks of the trade, becomes a symbolic act of literary suicide: a symbolic death of the author, the character, the reader (88).

So The Princess Brideessentially chronicles the suicide of the characters, the audience, and Fred Savage. The Never-Ending Story does away with you too!

Monday, November 21, 2005

My red chair

The one thing I miss most about not being to live in New Orleans is my big comfy red chair. My wife grew up in a big house with her own room, and as such, is the lightest sleeper on this planet Earth. Any noise wakes her. My snoring means that she constantly wakes me to get me to roll over in the night, which means that neither of us get any sleep. I refuse to concede that this is my problem, but hers. I can sleep through any amount of noise. I shared a bedroom with my little sister until I was in 8th grade. I awoke one morning in Costa Rica to find my companion slamming my head (gently) into the headboard of the bed. He had been yelling my name and I would not wake up. People don't believe me that I can sleep that well. I can. I just can't seem to sleep when my wife pokes me in the night and tells me to roll over. Thus, my big comfy red chair.

I sleep much better elevated. My red chair, which I bought for a 70% discount because it was a floor model, is soft and inviting. It's ample arms and cushioning allow me to sleep soundly through the night without waking up and without any soreness or back pain. I have been without my red chair for three months now and I am missing it more than ever. I caught a nap this afternoon in a recliner at my in-laws' house today and it was the best sleep I've gotten in three months.

I miss my red chair.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In Utah

We made it to St George and we're safe and sound in Jackie's house. It is brand new and gorgeously decorated. No quiero estar aquí. Quiero estar en mi casa y..... mejor no digo nada. Babelfish es muy poderoso.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Corruption in Louisiana knows no bounds

Check out yet another example of unabashed cronyism in my second home. I hope the voters react with venom against these people. Where is the transparency in goverment?

Complete article cited below:

Jefferson Parish is smart to try to speed up its permitting process. Storm-weary residents and business owners shouldn't have to wait forever to get approval for plans to rebuild their damaged property.
With so many homes and businesses in need of extensive repairs across the metro area, every government ought to be looking for ways to augment its inspection staffs and minimize delays. People have enough to deal with without being kept on hold by a slow-moving government bureaucracy. That said, the Parish Council fell back on bad habits to beef up the Inspection and Code Enforcement Department.
The council is going to use private architects and engineers to help review building plans and handle permits for damaged commercial property, which will allow parish employees to speed up the permitting process for residents. That isn't a problem in itself, although the parish might have been able to come up with a less expensive solution. In fact, some professional organizations -- or governments in other states or elsewhere in Louisiana -- might be willing to provide experienced inspectors for free to cash-strapped local governments here.
Even if Jefferson officials think the best option is to hire private inspectors, there are good ways and bad ways to go about doing so.
Instead of letting the parish administration come up with a list of architects and engineers to use, each of the seven council members is choosing their own. Not surprisingly, the business is going to companies that have made campaign contributions in the past -- which is precisely the problem with letting individual council members make such decisions.
Some will argue that the parish administration would be no better at eliminating politics from these choices, and that could be true. But hiring people to handle building permits ought to be a function of the administration, not individual council members.
The Jefferson council has long resisted attempts to bring logic and order to the awarding of professional services contracts, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is not the time for sticking to the old, lax way of doing things.
A lot of money will be flowing into and through the parish government as Jefferson recovers from the storm. And residents need to be assured that it is all being spent in the smartest way possible. Contracts that smack of cronyism and personal politics have no place in that equation.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Coconut is a diuretic

I've been making Thai food for myself at home lately. My friends Mike and Kristen Lindsey made some Thai curry for me at their home back in April when Mickelle and Marley were in Utah. I've made it about five times for myself since we've been stuck in Georgia. Coconut milk is a principle ingredient in the curry dishes I've been preparing.

When I lived in Costa Rica we drank lots of agua de pipa, or the water of a green coconut is usually naturally cool, super sweet, thirst quenching, and very very cheap. Coconut palms super filter the water, so pipa won't make you sick. I had forgotten that pipa water has a powerful, sometimes as little as five minutes, diuretic effect on the body. I remember having a pipa drinking contest once in Puntarenas. I think someone actually had to pee 5 minutes later. We all drank 5 pipas and then waited to see who had to pee first. Stupid cheap contest for young men to engage in.

I had Thai food for lunch yesterday. I had to urinate like 15 times yesterday. The connection between coconuts and the bathroom has been made again in my brain.

Talked to my landlord--the power is back on, but no gas yet. Shouldn't be long now.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What's this? A professional athlete putting the team before himself?

Seems that Chipper Jones has decided that his huge salary has become a drag to the team, so for the second year running he has offered to restructure his contract so that the Braves can sign other talent to keep their winning ways going. Bravo to Mr. Jones!

The Braves would be foolish not to sign Furcal to a long term deal. Let's just hope that people will keep their greed in check and not ask for outlandish salaries. I would love to see the Braves keep winning forever. With that said, if they start losing again, it will not diminish my love for the them or the wondrous 14 season journey they've treated us to. I only wish Rick Mahler were alive to see this!

If I could have my Braves wish list:
#1 Murph as a coach
#2 Smoltz will end his career in Atlanta and make the Hall of Fame
#3 Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux and Chipper will all make the Hall of Fame
#4 They are sold to a rich, flamboyant owner that will lower ticket prices and somehow put some pep and fire into my team
#5 Let the coaches and managers wear their old jackets and uniforms and not those awful new matching ones
#6 Say it aint so, Leo--please come back from Baltimore

Looks like I may need to get Bulldog some of this:

Helping make a difference

Last night Mickelle and I went to a warehouse in Norcross, Georgia that belongs to LDS Emergency Services. The warehouse was full of pallets and boxes. We were there to assemble kitchen kits to distribute to storm victims in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Each kit contains a trash can, dish drying rack, 4 bowls, 4 plates, 4 cups, salt and pepper shakers, egg beater, spatula, pot holders, silverware, water bottle, measuring cups, a box of 8 pots and pans, a collander, and a few other kitchen items. The idea is that each kit helps a family get back on their feet. All of the items were paid for out of LDS church fast offerings. For the non-Mormons who read this blog, once a month, every church member fasts two meals on the first Sunday of the month.* We are then asked to donate this money that we would have used to buy food to the church as a fast offering. The church then uses that money to help the poor and needy.

See article for a detailed explanation:

My wife and I broke down boxes for 3 hours while everyone else worked packing the cases. They were stacking them 24 to a pallet, and we filled 3 semis last night and could've filled three more with the ones we finished. All told the goal is to distribute 70,000 of them. We did about 3,500 last night. It feels good to help other people.

*Medical reasons and such are valid excuses. I forget sometimes, but I still give the money.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Avoiding hatemongering

Article posted from:

Governor Settled with 15 Gas Gouging Stations
(WSB Radio) -- The Governor's Office has released a list of fifteen gas reatilers which have already entered into settlement agreements with the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs. Some of those businesses have already ponied up fines between $1,000 and $10,000 dollars.
The first wave of settlements include the following 15 gas stations:

Taj International, Inc. d/b/a Shell Food Mart, 5110 Browns Bridge Road, Cumming, GA 30041 - $2,000.00
Chowdhury, Inc. d/b/a Chevron on Clairmont Road, 3630 Clairmont Road, Chamblee, GA 30341 - $2,000.00
Rhea Investments, LLC d/b/a Shell Food Mart - Cascade Road, 3580 Cascade Road, Atlanta, GA 30331 - $3,000.00
Peach State Capital, Inc. d/b/a Shell Food Mart - Holcomb Bridge, 685 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, GA 30076 - $4,330.50
ARZ, Inc. d/b/a Chevron Food Mart, 4891 Roosevelt Highway, College Park, GA 30349 - $3,000.00 (civil penalty only, no customer restitution)
Coner Shop, Inc. d/b/a Corner Shop Atlanta, 3390 Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA 30329 - $1,000.00
Saniha & Sameer, Inc. d/b/a Shell Food Mart, 3638 Highway 5, Douglasville, GA 30135 - $4,000.00
City Shop, Inc. d/b/a Chevron Short Stop, 993 Sigman Road, Conyers, GA 30012 – (no civil penalty, only customer restitution)
Defoors E-Z Stop Food, Inc. d/b/a E-Z Food Stop, 2118 DeFoors Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30318 - $7,000.00
Tristar Petro, Inc. d/b/a Adel Truck Plaza, 1503 W. 4th Street, Adel, GA 31620 - $10,000.00
Yong Kwon d/b/a Sam's One Stop Citgo, 1025 Merchant's Drive, Dallas, GA 30132 - $2,000.00
Ali's Investment, Inc. d/b/a Harry's BP Station, 2207 West Spring Street, Monroe, Georgia 30655 - $2,500.00
First Class Mart, LLC d/b/s Thornton Road Food Mart, 1104 Thornton Road, Lithia Springs, GA 30122 - $1,000.00
Trident Investments of Conyers, LLC d/b/a Mobil Food Mart, 1085 Irwin Bridge Road, Conyers, GA 30012 - (no civil penalty, only customer restitution)
Iquar Enterprises d/b/a Chevron Food Shop, 5694 Buford Highway, Norcross, GA 30071 - $2,000.00

8 of those 15 gas stations have names that lead me to believe that they are owned by immigrants. Deep down that makes me mad that anyone would do such a thing. I know I saw gas for $3.38 a gallon here in Atlanta. Should I consider this to be an evil that anyone would do, or is there something fundamental about not growing up in America that makes people more prone to take advantage of a crisis? Is it a simple matter of them not being educated about price gouging laws? Am I petty for even thinking it, mentioning it?

I read a philosophy book by Slavoj Zizek about rhetoric wherein he explains how Nazis proclaimed that all Jews were greedy, money-lending, smelly, and impure. Yet your typical German that had a Jewish neighbor found that neighbor to be a good person to chat with, let their children play together, etc. The Nazi spin on the good Jewish neighbor was: "Yes your neighbor seems like a nice person, that's exactly why you must be careful." I hope we can avoid that kind of thinking in this country. These people screwed up and got caught and fined. Their national origin nor their religion matter. If I try and read more into it, then I'm hatemongering, and we've got enough of that already.

Inherited wealth, cheap Scaninavian goods, rampant consumerism, and more stupid Mormons

So, my friend Tim messages me this morning and says, "I found one that's gonna piss you off [Tim would never type 'gonna']" and then sends me this link: which I will cite from to explain why it doesn't piss me off as much as make me sad.

I have never been to an IKEA store. I have sat in and broken two IKEA chairs. I know that the entire Mormon side of Generation X loves IKEA. All (well not all, but the majority) of the medical students in New Orleans have it in their homes and talk of driving to Texas to get some (furniture that is). Frankly I don't see what all the fuss is about. It looks nice, but quality solid wood furniture can be had for less. People I work with will rant and rave against the evils of Wal-Mart, but IKEA is like a gift from on high to them--nevermind the fact that it has similar business practices. It's European, so it must be better than us! There is a reason why its founder is The richest man in the world

IKEA is rumored to be buying 40 acres of property in Draper, UT, in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. You know the family "Neither is Rob Dahle, who owns the property in Draper with two brothers and two cousins. "We have no comment," he said." that owns this property is grateful that their ancestor grandfather worked himself to death raising cattle or alfalfa on that land so that they could sell it to the biggest box retailer there is. Lucky cowboys!

Draper is full of new houses, new money, and DIMCs wanting to fill their homes with "only the finest." In St. George, UT I have felt the crushing social pressure of "keeping up with the Jensens" that causes women to have to work (I say that only because the prophet has said it is best for women not to work if it can be avoided). People drive huge expensive cars, build these enormous homes, and financially strap themselves in the long run. Some people are only one or two months away from layoff financial ruin. We are not supposed to have every luxury in life. SubZero fridges and Viking ranges are not required for you to cook well. Luxury is luxury, not a right, not to be expected. We don't all need SUVs; we don't need designer label clothing that spills out of our closets. Pride is the most pernicious evil in the world. It is the root cause of every single bad thing that happens. Putting oneself above others is pride and leads to murder, adultery, theft, lying, etc. Vanity is a form of pride. Having to keep up appearances or living beyond one's means is pride. All too often in Mormon culture wealth, or worse, the appearance of wealth is a driving force in economic decisions. It is so important and such a problem that the church created a webpage to deal with it:

Brigham Young is quoted as saying, "The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear . . . is that they cannot stand wealth." Life of a Pioneer: Being the Autobiography of James S. Brown. Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1900. Or the struggle to maintain the appearance of wealth.

Since I have no money to speak of and since I don't really care about fancy clothes, this isn't really a problem for me. I admit that I do have fancy kitchen items, but I've purchased them at estate sales or on clearance. My Chantal pots and pans were purchased for $5 each. I'm not in it to impress anyone, I just want a non-stick quality pan to fry my eggs in. Of all the furniture in my house, I think my bed is the ONLY thing I paid full price for. The rest has come from family, yard sales or going-out-of-business sales. I do think that if I had more money to spend, I would likely fall victim to buying nicer stuff.

Debt kills though. Interest doesn't take vacations. If we live beyond our means, if we strive for ostentatious displays of wealth, in some sort of Mormon potlatch ceremony where we are what is destroyed, then we are asking for trouble. I recommend Marvin J. Ashton's debt elimination calendar as the simplest and most effective way to rid yourself of debt.

A debt-elimination calendar can help you reduce or eliminate unnecessary debt. Mark off several columns on a piece of paper. In the first column on the left, write the names of the months, beginning with the upcoming month. At the top of the next column, write the name of the creditor you want to pay off first. It may be the debt with the highest interest rate, or the earliest pay-off date. List the monthly payment for that creditor until the loan is repaid as shown in the illustration above. At the top of the next column, record the name of the second creditor you want to repay, and list payments due each month. After you have repaid the first creditor, add the amount of that monthly payment to your payment to the second creditor. (In the example above, notice that the family finished making monthly payments on their credit card. They then added $110 to the department store’s $70 payment, creating a new monthly payment of $180.) Continue the process until all loans are repaid.

See this page for the original of above and a graphic to help better explain it:


Please forgive the lame title.

So, it seems according to this article: and others that I've read over the last week that the rest of the world wants an independent body, not answerable to the US government, to be put in charge of Internet domain assignments.

Cited from""
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the authority that coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers on the Internet, including domain names, Internet protocol addresses, and protocol port and parameter numbers. A globally unified namespace (i.e., a system of names in which there is one and only one holder of each name) is essential for the Internet to function. ICANN is headquartered in Marina del Rey, California, but is overseen by an international board of directors drawn from across the Internet technical, business, academic, and non-commercial communities. The US government continues to have a privileged role in approving changes to the root zone file that lies at the heart of the domain name system. Because the Internet is a distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected networks, the Internet, as such, has no governing body. ICANN's role in coordinating the assignment of unique identifiers distinguishes it as perhaps the only central coordinating body on the global Internet, but the scope of its authority extends only to the Internet's systems of domain names, Internet protocol addresses, and protocol port and parameter numbers.

I would argue that the Internet does not transcend US control, and that as the creators and largest marketplace in the world, we have both the right and the duty to do with our creation as we see fit. That said, control of the Internet should not be taken away from countries for political reasons.

That article says:
"Critics of the United States fear that it could be in a position to disconnect another nation for political or economic reasons. Iran backed by other major developing nations, wants a body "anchored" to the
United Nations to have oversight over ICANN and other agencies, with an advisory role for industry.
The European Union is proposing a formula that would replace US government oversight with a purely technical intergovernmental body -- though not necessarily the UN -- after a transition phase.

The last thing we need is for the UN to get its paws on something else. The worst thing we could do to the Internet is to turn it over to such a bureaucratic and inefficient organization. Thanks to Australia for having our backs:

"Washington's letter retorted that 'burdensome, bureaucratic oversight is out of place in an Internet structure that has worked so well for so many around the globe. We regret that recent positions on Internet governance offered by the EU seem to propose just that -- a new structure of intergovernmental control over the Internet.' The US, backed by Australia, has also argued that regimes that do not value freedom of speech might exploit weaknesses in a UN-supervised system. [please note the un-supervised double meaning there]

I would call that an inevitability. Oversight of the Internet is a defense task and one that we should not relinquish. I truly believe that other nations should be grateful that the Internet exists and that we chose to share.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Cross your fingers

Les petites bourgeoisies stupides

So, I sell lots of Tommy Bahama products on eBay. Tommy Bahama is some of the nicest clothing around. Like any fashion label, they have second brands. Ralph Lauren has RL Jeans and Chaps. Banana Republic has Gap and Old Navy. Tommy Bahama has Indigo Palms, which is their denim company. The stuff is still beautiful and of quality workmanship and materials. Better than most anything else you can find, just a cut below Tommy Bahama. I had this one Indigo Palms shirt that just wouldn't sell, so I started it at 99¢ so that I could just clear it out of my inventory. I was losing money on it, but it was time to cut my losses and just get something out of the shirt. This guy won the auction (Please view to see the shirt) for $7.16, a total steal on a shirt that has an MSRP of $58. It is exactly as I described it.

Well, I got this email from the buyer today.

"shirt arrived today. tommy bahama should not have been used in the ad. it is misleading. shirt is trash quality. i will throw it away if forced to keep it. don't wish to leave negative feedback. please resolve.

Due to his tone in the email, I responded with these words:

"Indigo Palms is made by tommy bahama. The shirt was in perfect shape. Feedback will be reciprocated in kind. Don't even think of leaving me a negative. Indigo Palms and Island Soft are both Tommy Bahama brands. Check out this link for verification.

"I see you left someone a negative feedback over Island Soft. Be a good ebay citizen and research what you're buying before bidding. You paid $7+ for a shirt that was exactly as I described it.

This is the response I received back from him:

"the merchandiseis still trash. tommy bahama should be ashamed. indigo palms to tommy bahama is like ford probe to jaguar xkr. the same company owns both but the products are far from similar. the advertising remains misleading. nonetheless, i shall remain silent this time. perhaps a small price to pay to be aware of petty rip-offs

I love how this guy is schooled in quality merchandise, yet he's trolling ebay paying $7 for shirts and bitching about quality. That shirt was high quality. I guess it just didn't fit what HIS idea of Tommy Bahama is. Funny how that is my fault. I'm ripping him off by selling a quality shirt for $7. I should leave him a negative feedback just for the hell of it. Course that's not very Christlike so I won't. But I sure will play out the scenario of his reaction if I did, in my mind and relish the fantasy of doing what I want, even though I know it's wrong. Then again, Jesus made no distinction between the thought and deed, so I'm screwed anyway. Maybe I'll just let it go. Breathe in, breathe out. If so, why am I writing about it in my blog. I should just delete this entry. Too prideful.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Stupid Mormons

I mean how dumb do you have to be to jump from a moving truck because someone was swearing. I mean, damnit. Of all the stupid ways to die, jumping from a truck because your brother was swearing has to be the stupidest. Can you imagine how those brothers must feel? They probably think it's their fault. He jumped. They didn't push him, but their minds will convince them that it's their fault and that they are to blame.

Why does crap like this have to happen? I don't get it.

deus tantum teneo

Rebuttal to Jesse Jackson's defense of Terrell Owens

First let me say that I would pay more money to watch a high school football game than an NFL one. Professional football is boring, too high priced, and full of thugs. Same with the NBA half of the time. Baseball is still my favorite and always will be. I love a game with no clock.

I rarely watch professional football. For some reason I was watching the game a few years back when Owens scored a touchdown and then went out and slammed the ball down in the center of the field on the Cowboys field. If I remember right, Emmitt Smith clipped him from behind for that stunt. I remember thinking, who is this guy? What an ass! Things like that. Teams that can't be gentlemen anymore, don't deserve to play. Bravo to the NBA for enforcing a dress code on their players. What ere thou art, dress well thy part.

So, the "Reverend" Jesse Jackson has come to Owens defense. Why does the media keep giving this man coverage? Is he really that relevant of a force in America these days? Paying off your mistress from the payroll of your non-profit organization sort of disqualifies you from any title of respect in regards to religion, doesn't it? Anyway, allow me to answer Mr. Jackson's defense of Mr. Owens.

Complete statement: cited from

"Terrell Owens did an interview last week and engaged in some unsportsmanlike speech, deemed detrimental to the team, but nonetheless free speech. [Free speech isn't illegal, but it does have consequences. Calling it free speech is irrelevant in the relationship between employee/employer. I'm sure the courts have already decided this decades ago]. He expressed some dissatisfaction with his contract, his team and the Eagles' organization, which should have been expressed in a more professional manner [Matthew 20:1-14, Reverend Jackson, you should be counseling Terrell to shut up and play and abide by the contract he signed]. The Eagles have suspended T.O. for four games without pay and have decided to deactivate him for the rest of the year. His future in the National Football League is uncertain, thus potentially ending his career at its heights [BULL CRAP! He will play again, he just needs some humbling and consequences].

"This punishment is much too severe for the charge {NOPE}. If he had been caught shaving points, selling drugs, carrying a gun or fighting some fans, who provoked him, and he had not shown sufficient restraint, we could understand the severe suspension, because those are very serious and illegal acts. Unfortunately for T.O., who belatedly apologized three days after the infraction, the real question is do his comments warrant a penalty this severe? [I think everyone understands that a team dynamic depends on everyone getting along. Letting you star shoot off at the mouth against other teammates only hurts the team. You must do what is best for the team. I don't think a man behaves this way. This is what happens when a kid gets tons of money. It all goes to his head. Hasn't Terrell seen enough sports movies to know that he screwed up and needs to get back on track?]

"The answer is no. This does not warrant a one-year ban from the game. The NFL Players Association has taken a position that the punishment does not correspond with the infraction and the association wants the Eagles to cut T.O. if they are not going to reinstate him [Of course they do, and by cutting him, he'd get a new contract and no consequences. He needs some punishment and a nice big glass of shut-the-hell-up]. I agree. T.O. has publicly apologized. His heart is contrite [If he is contrite then he will accept his punishment graciously]. If the Philadelphia Eagles' owners do not find his apology acceptable and no longer aim to maintain an association with him, they should release him to the open market or free agency, allowing him to test the free market for his services. [No, they made an investment in him and want him back next year, humbled and willing to play without all the bullshit] I call for fairness in this dispute."

Does Allah condone lesbianism?

I can't imagine that the extremist version of Islam that promises 40 virgins to men who blow themselves up as martyrs holds out the same promise of 40 male virgins to a woman who does the same. Maybe the woman suicide bomber gets the 40 female virgins too.

The Koran, The Book of Women says:

[4.93] And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.

Something doesn't jive with the promise of hell and painful punishment and walking into a room of believers and blowing oneself up. Jordan should just annex the western half of Iraq. Let their police come in and kick some butt. We could just divide up Iraq and parcel it out to other nations. Let Iran have some, Kuwait get some payback--free the Kurds; we could even let Bahrain have a little. Something tells me that that is the most stupidest dumbest idea I've ever had.

Killing innocent people is so wrong. Jordan will get pissed now. The whole country will get mad. Remember how Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad started giving money to the widows and mothers of suicide bombers. I could see some seriously pissed off Jordanians start knocking off the widows and mothers of suicide bombers. That sort of Jim Malone for the Untouchables justice will only hurt everyone more (though it might cause some to second-guess their actions):

Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Eliot Ness: Anything and everything in my power.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way because they're not gonna give up the fight until one of you is dead.
Eliot Ness: How do you do it then?
Malone: You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?

I hope not. We don't often see the actual events of a suicide bomber. Here's a photo of one who failed. Remember that his intent was to kill other people, to cause the same harm to others that was done to him by a sniper's bullet.


This link is provided not to fulfill some morbid sense of curiosity or to gloat over the death of an "enemy", but in an effort to bring home the horrors of the war that our troops are experiencing on a daily basis. The image shown is horrific and viscerally revolting. Imagine actually witnessing that death, or worse, living with yourself after having been the individual who pulled the trigger.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Living with your parents as a parent

It's not meant to be.


I'm grateful to my parents that we've been able to be here with them. I am ready to go home. I can't wait. First to Utah. Then to Georgia. Hopefully before Christmas I'll be home and sane again.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Little children now have something worse to haunt their dreams than that freaky Burger King guy

I feel like that middle one will steal my soul.


Given the recent posts about nicknames, I thought I'd expand it. All are invited to post all their known nicknames.

Etymology: In Middle English the word was ekename (from the verb to eke, "enlarge"; compare Swedish öknamn). Later, an ekename developed into a nickname.

I remember a Braves commercial a few years back where they asked Chipper Jones what his nickname was and he responded: Scott, Jason, Kevin. I feel his pain. Mac is a great nickname. I don't really respond to my given name John.

Other nicknames I've had through the years:
Maxwell House
Mack Truck
Macoco (a type of monkey in Spanish)
Cookie (My friend Mike Wilson called me cracker, which I objected to. He then called me cookie, since galleta in Spanish is both cookie and cracker).
Big Mac: Only about 10 people can get away with calling me this name.
Macamillion: My sister-in-law's name for me when she was young
Georgia: When I was a missionary because evidently I never shut up about the place
Shirley Marie: When I was a little kid, I had hair just like Shirley Temple. I think we knew someone named marie too. I remember people calling me this.
Laura Jr.: Before I hit puberty, people would call the house, I'd answer the phone and they would say "Laura?" That's a big ego boost to a young man, let me tell ya.

Ye have been warned!

If you live in New York, Washington DC (Norman & Kimberley), Atlanta (Paul & Caroline), Las Vegas (Travis & Erin), and San Francisco (Susanna) be very very careful today. This guy says that we're all screwed TODAY:


He's not nearly as nuts as this guy:

Whoa buddy! (btw, there is no scriptural basis for the "rapture") The Matthew 24:40-41 scriptures clearly mean that the one who will be taken means taken because of iniquity, not taken up to heaven. I'm sure my Greek speaking friend could give us a better interpretation of the original Matthew 24:40.

Laughing Out Loud! (Matthew 24:36)

Rick Steiner appointed to Cherokee County School Board

Mr. Rick Steiner was voted onto the Cherokee County School Board last night in a 4-2 vote over my dad. My Dad seems to be taking his loss graciously. Mr. Steiner will do well, and honestly, I'd rather have someone like him or my Dad on a government board than the usual county politicos from here.

Armistice Day and what that means to me

So it appears that there are only a handful of World War I (The Great War, The War to End All Wars) are still alive in this country.

That's an inevitability, I know. Yet somehow I feel saddened by the loss of that part of history. When I was born, there were most likely hundreds of thousands around. WWII vets are dropping like flies too. I'm grateful to these men for risking their lives for others' freedom.

WWI doesn't get the glory of WWII (War War Two when I was a kid). Legends of the Fall, For Whom the Bell Tolls, that one scene in 12 Monkeys aside, Hollywood ignores the Great War because it wasn't "our war" it was us, late to the party, helping out one side in Europe. We splintered the Ottoman Empire which greatly influences our foreign policy today (Life was easier when someone else [Turks]) was pissing of the Arab peoples). We let the Germans surrender condtionally, which primed them for the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of National Socialism (I just lost the argument according to Godwin's Law). The League of Nations was un fracaso total.* Russian citizens traveled under League of Nations passports because of the Bolshevik Revolution and their exile from home.

So today is a day when we should honor our vets. My last name being Williams--a decidedly Welsh surname; when Andy Phoenix, Paul Dunn (A Great American), and I traveled around Europe in 1995, I was saddened to see how many of my distant relatives had perished in WWI. Every little town had a monument to the fallen in the war. The list of names usually went like this:

Gwynn, Jones, Jones, Jones, Llewelyn, Lloyd, Morgan, Reese, Vaughn, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams, Williams. Even if you factor in a 20% Mac exaggeration factor, that's still a lot of my distant kinsmen.

Armistice Day to me means that a bunch of people 87 years ago were deservedly sick and tired of fighting and decided to end it anyway they could. They didn't realize that they were condemning their children to fight and even more brutal and deadly war. They couldn't have foreseen the rise in Arab nationalism. They were tired of their friends dying.

On this day of peace, which Eisenhower (who never saw combat btw) changed to Veterans Day in the 50s when he was president, we should remember that how we end the wars we're involved in right now, will impact our children and our children's children. I only wish I could predict the future to know what to do.

*Just like the UN.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You don't look Republican enough

My Dad has been nominated for a seat on the County Board of Education. His big night is tonight. I'm not sure what it all entails. I wish him well. My Mom has been getting ready all day. She broke out the hair dye, the curlers, the whole shebang. She looks like a million bucks. However, when she came in and vamped for me, I told her that something was missing. She doesn't look Republican enough. I told her to pick out something ostentatious. I believe the quote was "Go Bourgeois mom, really bourgeois." She came back with a big Felix the Cat broach. I told her that she had to be ostentatious, not eclectic. People want someone just like them to guide their children's education. In Cherokee County these days that means nouveau riche republicans along with all their trappings.

It's funny how all of the questions that people have been asking my dad revolve around Susanna and I. Talk about living through your kids. My Dad's been getting to brag about how much education we both have. We are products of Oak Grove, E.T. Booth, and Etowah public schools. There were still fireplaces in our classrooms at Oak Grove when I was a kid. The Cherokee County School System needs $1 billion dollars to deal with the expected growth of population that the ALREADY APPROVED housing permits will bring. One billion dollars. The developers should shoulder part of that burden, along with road construction. They plan to raise property taxes and sell bonds to pay for the schools. That's so much ******* ********. Heaven forbid they should delay building or put a moratorium on it to allow the county to catch up. I drove down Hwy 92 the other day and was shocked to see that they had cut down the pine trees on the side of the road turning into Norm Sandridge's neighborhood. This county is too developed without the infrastructure to support all these damned yankees that keep invading. Maybe we should call Pied Piper Pest Control and get them to spray for Yankees. Neo-Carpetbagging.

From the Cherokee Ledger:
In other business, the board reviewed a draft of the district’s legislative priorities for the 2006 legislative session. The top priority is keeping state capital outlay funding at the same level or increasing it to help the school district cope with the nearly $1 billion expected price tag for school construction over the next seven years, officials said. The next priority is for the legislature to fully fund any state-required programs and add no more required programs without full funding. The district is also asking for the state to raise teacher salaries and restore $20 million in austerity budget cuts from when the state was in a budget crunch.

My Dad is up against Rick Steiner for the School Board seat. Yes, that Rick Steiner (who also happens to be our nextdoor neighbor).

Mr. Steiner is a good neighbor. He has used his wealth to buy up land around our neighborhood to keep it from being developed, that alone makes him a champ! He lives modestly though and his kids seem to be well rounded polite individuals. When I was a kid and bagged groceries over at Kroger he always tipped me. If he wins over my Dad, I think everyone can live with that.

The fallacy of coitus?

Titus Lucretius Carus said:

Like the thirsty man who in sleep wishes to drink and consumes forms of water that do not satiate him and dies burning up with thirst in the middle of a river; so Venus deceives lovers with simulacra, and the sight of a body does not satisfy them, and they cannot detach or keep anything, though their indecisive, and mutual hands run over the whole body. At the ened, when there is a foretaste of delight in the bodies and Venus is about to sow the woman's fields, the lovers grasp each other anxiously, amorous tooth against tooth; entirely in vain, for they do not succeed in losing themselves in each other or becoming a single being.

True, very true. But in those moments directly after, the desire wanes for a few moments, and true closeness is achieved. Ten minutes later, desire returns, ever increasingly demanding to be satiated. I think it was some recently dead French guy who said that you can never make love, that sex is merely a complicated form of masturbation. That's dark and impersonal and deconstructing it too much. Oneness can be achieved, but not solely through coitus. There is a reason why we have emotions, and why coital activity carries such powerful emotional bonds.

I get to spend all day reading stuff like this and writing about it. Thank goodness I didn't become an engineer or programmer!


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oh little Eliza, little Eliza Jane

So, while cleaning out my sister's old bedroom we came across a bridesmaid dress that Susanna wore to my cousin Kathy's wedding in 1983. It looks like something the pioneer children wore as they walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked (Mormon joke). Marley insisted on trying it on, and now we can't get her to take it off (of) herself without a major temper tantrum/coniption fit. We started calling her Eliza yesterday as her pioneer name. Eliza Artley Larsen sounds like a good mormon name.

My Mormon name is Mavryck Helamans Warrior!
What's yours?

It's getting worse. Now she won't respond to her name. If we call her Marley, she won't answer, or if she does, she says, "No it's Eliza." Pretty soon she'll be asking for a butter churn and a handcart, wanting to marry a boy named Porter Rockwell or something like that. I did hear that the Little House of the Prarie seasons are on DVD now.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Los paranoias, won't you come join us? Los paranoias

Like a good son of the Postmodern Age I use song lyrics to frame my emotions. In this case, The Beatles. I've been helping my Mom clean out my sister's old bedroom where we are currently living. Tomorrow a bed should be delivered by Macy's (Clearance Center of course) to replace the double bed that Mickelle has been sleeping on since August. I've been alternating between an air mattress, the sofa, my Dad's chair, and the floor. I'm feeling a bit puckish tonight; indulge my crude humor if you please. The mattress we got is a Simmons Beauty Rest pillow top oh-my-gosh-I-can't-wait-to-have-sex-on-it-soft mattress (Mickelle if you read that, don't get mad please, cause it's funny) [If you're single and reading that, don't get offended (or jealous :)]. It is without a doubt the softest most comfortable thing I have ever lain on (menos los tusabes de mi esposa). It retails for $1700, we got it with the box springs for $901 tax and delivery included. Before you think us reckless, my parents are going to buy it from us when we leave and Mickelle got 10% off of that price that will be credited to her Macy's card account she opened. The delivery was worth every penny ($60), because my bedroom is three stories up and on narrow stairs.

So, why Los paranoias? Well in helping my Mom clean out her house--helping her to de-clutter so much crap that she's been hanging onto needlessly for years, she won't let me throw anything away on the off chance that she might use it someday. She is constantly telling me to be careful or to not do something a certain way; she makes me take every precaution imagineable and if I complain she pulls the ole "honor thy father and thy mother" line on me. If the president can suspend the constitution, I should be able to suspend the Book of Exodus during moving or putting a Christmas tree into a Christmas tree stand. I think my parents almost got divorced one year over the Christmas tree stand, but that's another story for another day.

It's getting to the point, where I'm no fun anymore...I am sorry.
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud

It must be a happy sickness, acute paranoia, because it all seems to make perfect sense to them. I accuse them of being paranoid, they counter that they are merely perceptive ( I ripped that line off of Woody Allen).

Here's to tomorrow night sleeping in comfort for the first time since August. Oh how I miss my red chair!

Los paranoias
Invites you to
To just enjoy us
Come on you can do it, baby
Come on and join los paranoias
Just enjoy us
Los paranoias
Oh los paranoias
Come on enjoy us
Los Paranoias
Come on enjoy us
Well los paranoias
We're here to sing for you
And what if you want us to
We will sing a little song for you
Los paranoias

Sunday, November 06, 2005


With their traditional allies loath to help after enduring countless snobberies from dandy-nosed officials, and with recalcitrant youth blitzkrieging unchecked across the land for days on end, France surrendered this evening. Faced with the overwhelming task of showing some balls and enforcing the laws with violence, the French government felt it best to capitulate to the youth and reform their government in the Southern half of the country. This new Wishy Regime hopes and prays that someone will come and rescue them from the unstoppable juggernaut that are these several hundred very-seriously-pissed-off rioters.

Seriously, remember how they stopped the morons from torching their own neighborhood in Atlanta during the Rodney King riots? They burned a Korean grocer and a Mercedes and then when the National Guard troops showed up in full riot gear, they ran like *******. A few well placed bullets would stop this crap. These aren't angry kids tearing stuff up, these are people throwing Molotov cocktails at police and hitting babies in their heads with rocks. That kind of depravity deserves a swift reaction, including, but not always, deadly force.

The President should offer to send troops to help quell the riots. That'd be the biggest funniest insult in the history of detente, protocol and diplomacy. Oh please oh please oh please.

If the rioters were smart, they'd attack tourist places. The Arc de Triumph celebrates Napoleon's conquest of Egypt. That's a muslim land. That needs some vengeance. Burn down the Eiffel Tower. Wipe that silly smile off the Mona Lisa's face. The Louvre's facade is a mile long, that could use some serious gang tagging.

I kid I kid, I make a little joke, I joke with you....

Seriously, go to and type in French Military Victories and hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button.

Staid, but still very funny

Ever been embarrassed to say where you're from?

Not me, I'm from Atlanta, Georgia and proud of it. My Texan friend, Tara Avena, wears her Texanness on her sleeve; Creighton Tenney does too. Every Utahan I know thinks that every single last thing about their state is the greatest thing in the world, now matter how Utahrded it may be. I do feel for the people of this one small village in Austria though. I don't think I would really tell people my exact specific address.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The 50th Anniversary of A Red-Letter Date in the History of Science

It was a misty November morning in 1955 as Dr. Emmitt Brown sat contemplating the image of Sir Isaac Newton that he had just had framed. He wasn't sure exactly where to hang it in his home. He already had ones of Copernicus, Galileo, Occam, and Pascal hanging in his den. A large engraving of Newton already hung over his California Craftsman fireplace. He decided that he would move one of his 75 clocks and hang the picture in that place instead. Too fond of reading in the bathroom and losing hours of productivity, he decided to hang it in the bathroom. Aesthetically, it looked better higher up than he could stand, but since he didn't have a stool anywhere nearby, he elected to stand on the toilet seat. The porcelain was wet and he slipped and hit his head--knocking himself unconscious. When he came to, he had a revelation, a picture, picture in his head, a picture of this:

THE FLUX CAPACITOR, which is what makes time travel possible.


XENOPHOBIC GRINGO REMINDS YOU: Never forget that time travel first happened because of Muslim Terrorists!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Flag Test

Take a guess what this flag is the flag of:

Rule #1 Don't use the internet to help you search for it
Rule #2 Don't ask anyone what it is
Rule #3 Don't get out the almanac or any other type of media to look it up
Rule #4 Don't look at the file name of the image

My guess was Bahrain, I got it wrong.

If you know the answer, don't post it, just say "I know the answer." We'll take your word on it.

Ready, Go!