Saturday, December 30, 2006

The ethics of procreation

And then this news out of Spain that a woman of 67 years has just given birth to twins conceived via in vitro fertilization:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L30871032.htm

As a Christian, a person of the Book, I believe that God's commandment to Adam and Eve to "multiply and replenish the Earth" has not be rescinded. Every life created can be sustained by the world, for I believe, were it not so, God would tell us that the commandment had been fulfilled. As He has been silent on the matter, I assume that children are a blessing and a duty.

That's not to say that I should breed like mad, just for the sake of having children. I believe that I should not bring more children into the world than I and my wife can provide for. Now, "providing for" has no exact definition. What level of comfort and/or sacrifice is too much. My maternal grandfather, 94, was an orphan, and he grew up facing privations that most Americans would no longer tolerate. I think that I can reasonably provide for up to five children on my salary. I should be able to feed and dress them, provide them with comfortable shelter, and be able to provide for their higher education (with some help from them to earn scholarships). I do not believe that I should have any children after age 40, which means I've got 7 years and Mickelle has 10.

See, nowadays, people choose to wait until much later to have children. My parents had me when they were 23 and 22. I remember asking my Mom one time how old she was, and she told me "29." Marley was born when I was 28. My parents are in their mid 50's and their house is an empty nest, which is fine. But my reasoning for not wanting to have children past 40 is that they really wouldn't get to know their grandparents that well. I am 33 and three of my grandparents are still alive, which means that my daughter will have memories of her great-grandparents. If I have children past 40, and they wait as long as I did to have kids, then my grandchildren will only ever know an old man. I want to be able to play and cavort with my grandchildren.

Sadly, some people have children when they too are children. While their bodies may have developed sexually, while they might be filled with passions and lusts and desires, mentally, without the commitment of a marriage, they are maturity-capable of raising a child---especially in our structured society of school, college, marriage, etc. A child gums up the works. Furthermore, given the legacy of slavery, some races will not give up their children for adoption, no matter how much better life would be for the baby and the mother. This is one side of the problem.

Another one is the 40 something crowd of DINKs (Dual Income No Kids) couples suddenly deciding that they HAVE to have a child, and so they have an only child, that they dote on, and spoil, and this child then grows into a narcissistic dullard. I have seen this child often in New Orleans. Very wealthy parents, Volvo station wagon, Hispanic nanny, the whole cliche come to life before my own eyes. I'm not saying that only children are all this way. Far from it. I am saying that wealthy people having children in their 40s is a really bad idea, and not fair to the child.

And finally, as we explore the ethics of procreation, we have the people who ignored their biological clocks for so long that they have to resort to expensive science to conceive, and they do. At 67, I can only imagine the handfuls of pills this woman must have downed daily in order to get her reproductive system up and running enough so that she didn't naturally abort. She is a full decade and then some past the last vestige of a menstrual cycle. And now she has twins. Surely her husband is thrilled as her breasts will have swelled and erased the ravages of time and gravity on her bosom....that is, if her husband is even alive still. And now these children will grow up with a grand----mother. By the time they go through puberty, she stands a very real chance of being deceased. What then? Suddenly the children are adopted by someone else. By the time they reach adulthood, she will be 85, provided she is still alive.

What are the ethics of child rearing at such an advanced age? I had a friend in high school whose dad was in his 70s when he graduated, and he had a younger sister. I imagine that his father, never in great health, has since passed away. I would never ask this friend if he felt cheated out of his father's presence in this life. I wonder.

No matter the reason, I think this woman es una anciana narcisa y necia y no es justo para sus gemelitos.

Updated post from 10-16-2005 DALE MURPHY BELONGS IN COOPERSTOWN (BASEBALL HALL OF FAME)



BEST MURPHY IMAGE EVER!


My Hall of Fame ballot for 2007 includes the following people:

Tony Gwynn
Cal Ripken
Andre Dawson
Don Mattingly
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Alan Trammell

They are the big guns of the 80s. Trammell is a stretch, but the guy was awesome and had to play in Detroit, and always be compared to the OZ.


I am completely biased because I consider Dale Murphy to be my all time hero. As far as his case for entering Cooperstown, he did dominate the National League for a few wonderful years in the 1980's. His arm was one of the best in either league. Were it not for Mike Schmidt he could have been THE star of the National League at the time. Only he and Cal Ripken hit 20 or more homers every year from 1982-1990. He hit 40 homers once and 30 several times. He did make the 30-30 club back when it had few members. He wound up with 398 homers. I'm not sure, but I think he is the all-time leader in home runs lost to rain-outs. That might be wrong, but I think I remember him passing Bobby Bonds for first place.

He won back to back MVP's. He played in 740 consecutive games, the 12th longest streak ever. He was an All-Star in 1980, 82-87 and the top vote getter in 1985; he started five times. He hit .302 in 1983 when that was good enough for 6th place in the league. We cannot judge him by today's offense benchmarks. Imagine if someone hit .302 now and was 6th in the league! He led the National League in HR 1984-85, in RBI 82-83, runs in 1985, and OPS in 1983. He won five straight gold gloves from 1982-86 and four straight silver slugger awards from 1982-86. His number (#3) has been retired by the Atlanta Braves. But he shouldn't be measured solely for his on-field accomplishments. Let's not forget the class and honor that he brought to the game. He was a tireless supporter of the Huntington Disease Foundation, the 65 Roses Club, MDA, Make-A-Wish, The March of Dimes and many many others. He won the Lou Gehrig Award in 1985 and the Roberto Clemente Award in 1988. He was never ejected from a baseball game. He thanked reporters for interviewing him. In Philadelphia once, a stadium security guard didn't recognize him and wouldn't let him into the stadium. He just laughed it off. I can only imagine what Barry Bonds might have done in that situation. Murphy didn't have an "All suites" clause in his contract, nor did he have his team guarantee him charter jet flights home to his ranch during the season like Kevin Brown. I mean, he even had kind words to say about people like John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, and even Ozzie Virgil.

I think we should point out that when Murphy finished 4th in homers in 1986 that he only had 29 homers. In 1987 he hit 44, but Andre Dawson had 49 so Murphy's awesome power that year was overshadowed. Only 4 players hit 40 homers that year. Dawson, Murphy, Jorge Bell, some rookie named McGwire, and Homers were much harder to come by in that day and age. No one hit 50 from 1977 (George Foster) until 1990 (Cecil Fielder). If Murphy had connected twice more I think that he might've gotten in before.

It's 1991, Braves vs. Phillies. Otis Nixon gets beaned by the Phillies pitcher next time up after hitting a homer. The bottom half of the inning, Tom Glavine has to respond and hit the first Phillies batter. Only it's Dale Murphy. He can't do it, no way. So he does the meanest thing he can bring himself to do, throw the Murph four high and inside fastballs to brush him back and put him on. Murph got the base, and Glavine got the boot by the ump. Glavine said the ump later told him, "I only let you throw four, because that was Murphy and because I knew you wouldn't." Not because they had been teammates, but because Murphy was so respected that he was off limits for stunts like that. Glavine is a class act too, he's in the Hall for sure I think, but Murphy will make it somehow. If anyone deserves to get in, without the numbers we're used to seeing, he does, for being the nicest, most polite gentleman to ever grace the field. He is my hero.

Murph's stats: http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/murphda05.shtml
Weird site: www.fmtc.com/~trinity/
An article by a higher news source than me: http://espn.go.com/talent/danpatrick/s/2002/0724/1409552.html






Spermatoceles and Vericoceles and Pain

When there's no relief of pressure.....

THEY HURT, DAMNIT!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I Do Not Care for the North or Yankees

In 1863, General Robert E. Lee was forced to invade the North. The War of Northern Aggression saw the South illegally invaded by Union forces, and General Lee was forced to bring the war to the Yankees on their own turf. Obviously his invasion proved unsuccessful in the long run. As I sit here in Philadelphia, I think I feel something akin to what my ancestors must have felt as they crossed that invisible Mason-Dixon line into the North. I look at the people here in this city and none of them look like me. I'm not talking about skin tone or ethnic extraction. We are all Americans, certainly…but not of the same mold. I'm talking about behavior, attitude, gait even. Everyone in the streets look like some kind of caricature to me. Everyone looks like they just stepped out of an episode of Law and Order, or a rap video. Even the people’s clothing has graffiti on it. They speak with odd accents. They are rude. They say “yo” all the time. I do not like the North. It’s cold; it’s dingy; it’s dirty; it’s too crowded. In short, I thank God, in all sincerity, that I was not born up here, and that I’ll never have to live here.

Urban Cops Should Be Walking Beats Again

It is my belief that, no matter what statistics might tell us about the efficacy of placing cops in cruisers rather than walking the streets, people FEEL safer when there is a regular police presence walking around. I think that numerous problems could be corrected in New Orleans if cops were assigned to regular beats, if police posts were put on certain dangerous corners, and if they were all supported by cops in cruisers.

In 1982, the Atlantic Monthly published an article about this very subject. Because of copyright, I cannot post it here, but fair use allows me to cite one part of it:

Our experience is that most citizens like to talk to a police officer. Such exchanges give them a sense of importance, provide them with the basis for gossip, and allow them to explain to the authorities what is worrying them (whereby they gain a modest but significant sense of having "done something" about the problem). You approach a person on foot more easily, and talk to him more readily, than you do a person in a car. Moreover, you can more easily retain some anonymity if you draw an officer aside for a private chat. Suppose you want to pass on a tip about who is stealing handbags, or who offered to sell you a stolen TV. In the inner city, the culprit, in all likelihood, lives nearby. To walk up to a marked patrol car and lean in the window is to convey a visible signal that you are a "fink."

The essence of the police role in maintaining order is to reinforce the informal control mechanisms of the community itself. The police cannot, without committing extraordinary resources, provide a substitute for that informal control. On the other hand, to reinforce those natural forces the police must accommodate them. And therein lies the problem.

I really do believe that New Orleans would feel far safer if the cops had to walk beats again. It would have the following benefits:

1. The cops would no longer be able to break traffic laws with impunity.
2. It would get them off their damned cell phones. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a NOLA cop NOT on his/her cellphone?
3. The fitness of cops would rise.
4. People would no longer worry about non-violent hassles on the streets like panhandlers, mentally ill, etc. I would feel much safer walking at night if I knew that a cop might be out there SOMEWHERE in the night.

This will never happen.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Former President Gerald Ford Died Today.....Senselessly



This is from 1996 from Saturday Night Live. Enjoy.

Que descanse en paz

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wolcum Yule


In the late 1960's the celebration of Kwanzaa was started in California as an American version of the traditional African harvest festivals. This revisiting of older traditions and festivals has been embraced by America, black and some white---Happy ChristmaHannukwanzikaa! I too understand this curiosity about the ancient ways of one's ancestors. Mine are Anglo-Saxon and full of Germanic and Norse traditions.


Here in Louisiana, for some unknown reason, for the last hundred or so years, the Cajuns have been building massive bonfires along the banks of the Mississippi on Christmas Eve. I am trying to convince Mickelle to let us go to them this year.

Fire is a magical thing for me. I have always enjoyed burning things. Not in a pyromanic type way....I mean that I take great satisfaction from sitting around a fire with friends. There's just something about the experience that I find pleasing. My childhood home has no source of heat other than the massive cobblestone fireplace in the center of the house. I have always had a fireplace in my home until I got married. Natural gas heating is convenient, but lacks the charm of a warm hearth.......am I the only one that feels this way? Homes nowadays do not have fireplaces, or if they do, they are dinky little natural gas things. If you tried to light a fire in one, it would burn your house down.

Getting back to bonfires....I want one. It's difficult to find a place where you can legally have a big rip-roaring one safely. I have always felt a connection to the funeral scene in Braveheart when the highlanders stay up all night burning a bonfire to celebrate the death of their friend. Protestant funerals are too drab. While, yes, I think the funeral should be a sacred time to reflect on a person's belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I think a funeral should have different parts. When my granpa, Master Sergeant Raymond Vines Buckner, United States Army-Retired, 94, passes away, I want to have a massive bonfire in his honor. It might only be my immediate family there, as he is an orphan, and outlived all of his relatives by about 15 years, but I think of no more fitting tribute to him that to stay up all night telling stories about him, singing hymns and songs, and watching the flames dance and lick at the logs. We could liken the smoke the fire to our prayers going up to heaven that we can live our lives as free from sin and malevolence as Granpa has. Many times emotions run high when you're grieving from the death of someone you love. And no matter your hope and faith in the resurrection, the fact is that life is long when the ones you love are absent. Burning things can be very cathartic for a wounded heart.


I wish that modern life were as suited to the Yule log tradition as it used to be. Even though it's been raining here for 26 hours straight, a big bonfire and a pause from the cares of life, a mandatory holiday, would be a welcome relief from the stresses of life. I am not interested in reviving the pagan symbolism of the tradition. I do not believe in the gods of my ancestors. I just think they knew how to have a good time.
I so so want to go to the bonfires along the river. Something in me longs for this. Wherever I wind up getting a job, I'd like to start a St. John's Night party on June 21st, and have another big bonfire. I'm not kidding. I think that bonfires address some dark corners of our psychiis that we can't name, but feel better while and after watching coals pulsate in the dark.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fall is Finally Here

Taken December 20, 2006, New Orleans, Louisiana. Ahhhh, I love places with no Winter.


The joys of parenting

Photos like these make all the poop, vomit, tantrums, broken "nice things," endless colds, expenses, middle-of-the-night awakenings, and non-existent sex life worth while.















A New Orleans White Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone! This is the only "snow" we ever see down here. Nothing like a fresh blanket of new-fallen powdered-sugar to make you feel the Christmas Spirit.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Anger Management

I need a root canal on a molar. The tooth needed a crown, so I had one started over Thanksgiving up in Georgia. That procedure awoke the tooth, and for awhile, it really really hurt me. It had calmed down for ten days....no pain at all, even when I ate on that side. My dental insurance only covers half of a root canal procedure, so I contacted the LSU Dental School because they only charge $350 instead of $1000. After cancelling my appointments twice, I finally got an appointment for yesterday.....in Baton Rouge. I drove all the way up there from New Orleans. I got there 20 mins early in spite of the fact that they gave me bad directions THREE TIMES!!!. I fill out the obligatory forms and give them to the lady......and then I'm told that they've double-scheduled my appointment and I'll have to reschedule in January. They were rude and dissmissive in that Louisiana I-got-my-GED-and-then-this-job-so-I'm-in-charge-of-you-and-you-can't-do-nothing-about-it way (fyi, wearing scrubs does not increase your IQ or professionalism). I asked, in raised tones, why I had to reschedule and not the other person....they told me that he had already been taken back to the dentist....he was there first. I asked them, repeatedly, why then had they called and confirmed my appointment on Friday, if it was double-booked. They kept blaming someone named Gwen. I asked why they had not called my cellphone number when they realized that I was doublebooked...again, no response other than to claim that they had "just found out." Rage welled up inside of me.....I actually started seeing red....I knew I had to get out of that room before I snapped.....I turned to Mickelle and said "Let's go now." They asked me, "Do you want to reschedule?" It was all I could do not to launch a tsunami of vitriol against them...I responded "forget about it." I couldn't drive for 15 minutes. I had to calm down.

Living in Louisiana will do that to you sometimes.....it just sort of wears you down. Customer service is non-existent.


My tooth started hurting again on the drive home.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My experiences (so far) as a Mormon in Higher Education

I was talking with my good friend Clay Larson last night about the sensational email I received from Baylor earlier in the week. We both commented on how we, as LDS professors, are viewed by others because of our religion. We decided that their are five essential groups:

#1 Secularists, Agnostics, Atheists

#2 Non-denominational believers

#3 Catholics, Jews, and other less-conservative believers

#4 Protestans, Evangelicals, Baptists

#5 Other Mormons

Our experiences have been remarkably similar. Let me elaborate a little on how each group has generally viewed our faith as it relates to us, our studies, and professional competence.

#1 I used to feel, and sometimes still do, that people that claim to be open-minded can be very closed-minded. I've known some colleagues, especially at Georgia Tech, that were incredulous that I would choose, of my own free will, to limit myself morally. That I was a virgin by choice astounded them. That I chose not to drink coffee, tea, or alcohol seemed ridiculous to them. My experience here at Tulane has been decidedly different. My colleagues here are the most tolerant, curious, and open-minded people that I have ever known. Any personal practice that doesn't impinge the rights of someone else, or that doesn't view another as inferior for innate unchangeable reasons, is tolerated and accepted. I couldn't have come to a better place for my PhD.

#2 This group is just happy that there are other people in academia that believe in God besides themselves. They feel safe talking openly with me about God, that their beliefs won't be mocked or disparaged as superstition. I love this group.

#3 This group beliefs that their doctrine is the only correct one, but they don't care that you also believe the same thing about yours. Very tolerant and interested in social justice for all. Their work and efforts usually are influenced by a higher purpose. Fr. Francis Ferrie is a great example of this group. He is a good, good man.

#4 This group can be hit or miss. Some colleagues that are religious never want to talk about religion with you. Some ask barbed questions about "how can you believe that?" I do not understand the hostility towards my faith from this group. Not at all. Other from this group are just as tolerant as anyone from the other groups. No tiene sentido.

#5 When people from the other groups view me, especially #s 1 & 2, I am a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Most Mormons in my profession (The Humanities) are really very moderate politically. Problem is, those Mormons not in the Humanities view us as bleeding-heart liberals. People question whether we should be able to hold a temple recommend, as if voting for a Democrat somehow offended God and the Holy Ghost. The LDS Church has a strict policy of political neutrality. You will NEVER EVER hear one of the church leaders advocate for a candidate. My political beliefs are very very moderate, for example:

A. I think that abortion is wrong. I cannot advocate for it, and I think that no one should have one. However, the law of the land is that they are legal, and we've wasted over three decades now bickering about it. We should start dickering about how to reduce to total number of abortions. If there were some way to encourage adoption in return for something (without creating a baby mill), we should work towards that. If abortion were considered the last option, we could reduce the total number. I don't think it's worth going to war over, so we should stop fighting. It's not like Pro-Choice people are pitchforking babies. They don't want babies to die. They just want a woman to have the right to choose. Now, while there are any number of moral issues that we could argue about in that phrasing, I think it's more worthwhile to work together to reduce abortions as a whole. Protesting outside of a clinic does little good. I'd much rather have someone have a legal one and have the chance to repent, than to die from an illegal one. I truly believe that any unborn child will have another chance to come to Earth.

B. Taxes. While I think there is a delicate balance between paying a fair share and freeing up capital so that the wealthy can use it to create more jobs, I think the wealthy should have to pay more taxes. When we hear the politicians talk about taxing the poor, keep in mind that a family of four has to make close to $27,000 to pay any federal income taxes. The poor actually get more back from Earned Income Credits than they pay. It's the middle class that pays an unfair portion of tax. The flat tax is preposterous and benefits the rich. Plus, a flat tax would put most accountants out of work.

C. The draft. I don't care how much it costs, bring back the draft. Offer three options: 2 1/2 years military service, 3 years Civilian Conservation Corps, or 3 years Americorps or Peacecorps. If every citizen had to serve his or her country, we would all benefit. If you went to college first, that would be allowable, but everyone should have to serve at some point before age 26. The cultural benefits would be enormous. The government could use the youth to do all kinds of projects. The military would be filled with sort-of volunteers as it is now.

D. Welfare should exist, but you should have to work. No able-bodied male should ever draw welfare. No able-bodied woman without children should draw welfare. Food stamps should be a supplement to people that can't afford nutritious food, that work. If a mom can't work because of children, we should create a system that will allow for child care. However, if you have a child out of wedlock once, fine. More than once after you start drawing benefits, you should be cut off. Our current welfare system encourages the uneducated to have children so they can draw benefits. Anyone who claims I'm an uninformed WASP should get their ass to New Orleans and see what I've seen in my five years here. I have heard teenagers tell me how they've got "it all figured out," how they will have their kids and then get "set up." I am not kidding. Poor education encourages this postmodern enslavement. A system set up to aid the poor actually makes them poorer.

E. I think that universal health care is a great idea, but will be difficult to administer efficiently and would ultimately degrade the quality of healthcare available to the general public. If the government instead wanted to pay for people to attend medical school and then require them to work for four years in government run hospitals (after their residency) that charged money for everything but the doctor's time (supplies and medicine and such) that might be a better solution to the system. I do think that we should have universal health coverage for ALL children under age 19. No parent should ever have to make a decision about their child's health based off how much they can afford. Adults are different, but children should receive our very best.

My five opinions above would draw the ire of half the Mormons at BYU. The most intolerant group of Mormons in academia are Mormons not in academia themselves. At least in my experience. LDS members should be sure to not isolate themselves from the world, and become so "peculiar" that they wind up polarizing the world even more.

There's more than one way to do something.....especially politics.

This nations needs a Third Party.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Should the penny come to an end?

With this announcement today from the US Mint that it is illegal to melt down pennies and nickels, even though they are worth more as metal than as currency, people will surely start asking the question of whether we should end the penny and start rounding things up to the nearest five cent mark.

http://money.cnn.com/2006/12/14/news/melting/index.htm?cnn=yes

Pros and cons abound.

Pros:
1. No longer forced to make something that cost more than it's worth.....billions of 'em.
2. People already throw them away, leave them on the ground, give them away at convenience stores.

Cons:
1. Numismatic heritage is lost
2. Calculating taxes and prices and per unit costs would be much more difficult
3. Little kids need to have some kind of money to put in their piggy banks. If we end the penny, we'll need to start making $.50 pieces and $1 coins.

I think the penny should remain for now. I'd recommend a vast overhaul and redesign, changing the metallurgy of the penny and making it out of the cheapest metal possible. The copper clad zinc doesn't have to be that way. Pennies were made of steel during WWII for a lack of copper. People will adjust.

You just know that the Distinguished Gentlemen from Illinois will have a cow about taking Lincoln off the front.

Foggy Nights in the Big Easy

The last two nights in New Orleans have been fabulous. We've had temperatures in the high 50's and a thick blanket of fog both nights. Tuesday night, I walked home from Tulane at 10 o'clock at night with visibility down to 1/16th of a mile. It was eerily quiet and serene. I felt the moisture in the air with each breath that came across my nostrils. The Christmas lights all glowed with halos as the light refracted around the air.

Last night we went down to the French Quarter and checked out the lights in the Vieux Carre. Jackson Square and the Jax Beer sign were all aglow with lights and the magical amplification that fog lends to lights at night. I've never had a more relaxing enjoyable time in New Orleans. Just Mickelle, I, and the kids went. We strolled along Royal Street, ate some beignets at the Cafe du Monde, walked back down Chartres Street, gazed in windows like Victorian street urchins. Mickelle took a really long time in this one store while we waited outside. I sent Marley in and told her to ask Mommy if she was negotiating the Gadsden Purchase.....realizing as soon as she went in that I had missed a golden punchline with "Louisiana Purchase." Mickelle said Marley said "Are you coshating the Gasoline purchase?"

Good times.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sign Says Short-Haired Mormon People Need Not Apply at Baylor University

I am currently applying for Assistant Professor of Spanish positions at universities around the country. I have four interviews (Coker College, Berry College, The Citadel, and the University of South Carolina at Beaufort) so far, and I had one this morning with the U of Central Arkansas. I have applied to several other programs, and I am waiting to hear back from them.

One of the programs I was considering was Baylor in Waco, Texas. Baylor is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and while it's not news that Baptist typically view Mormons unfavorably (why, I don’t know), I thought that their intellectuals would at least be above base prejudices. I was wrong.

I sent an email to my contact in their department expressing concern over an article I read about Baylor, here:

http://chronicle.com/che-data/articles.dir/articles-37.dir/issue-09.dir/09a00103.htm

The article mentions that the Southern Baptist Convention requires faculty to sign a statement that Adam and Eve were literal people. I had some concerns about this, so I emailed Baylor and asked them for clarification, explaining that while this was indeed my personal belief, I worried about academic freedom at an institution that required professors to sign a statement advocating one interpretation of scripture.

I received a response letting me know that the article was wrong, and that no such signing is required. I also was told this:

We are recruiting Christians or Jews who (1) are serious about their faith, (2) have some type of active church/synagogue involvement (no specific denomination is required), and (3) have reflected on our their faith impacts them as a teacher-scholar. There is no single answer to the faith-learning question; it is an ongoing conversation.

So, I am relieved that if I get a job at Baylor, I will have the academic freedom I desire. About ten minutes later, I get this blunt email:

Dear Mac:

I just glanced at your dossier again and noticed that you are a Mormon, which, according to current Baylor policy, we do not hire. I regret to say that this will exclude you from further consideration.

I wish you the best in your job search.

(name removed to protect his privacy)

Baylor’s Civil Rights policy says this:

As a religiously controlled institution of higher education, Baylor University is exempted from compliance with some provisions of certain civil rights laws, including some provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and is exempt from the prohibition of discrimination based on religion.”

While I respect their right to hire whom they will hire, it strikes me as odd that they don’t hire Mormons, out-of-hand, for any number of reasons.

1) I was never asked if I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I guess attending Brigham Young University is enough. What if I had since left the church?
2) That they wouldn’t hire me without interviewing me first, in spite of my religion, is odd.
3) I understand religious schools have a preference for their own religion. I support it. But to patently refuse to hire someone because of their religion, alone, is wrong.
4) I believe in Jesus Christ, that He is my Savior, and that He is the only path back to Heavenly Father. How can I not be a Christian? The Jewish faith is still waiting for the Messiah, denying that Jesus was Him, yet they are considered for employment. I don’t see why Mormons are excluded. It doesn’t make sense.


Regardless of their reasons, I now know full well it’s like to feel discrimination. There is a lesson to be learned by me in this. I will be more cautious and less prejudicial in the future.


Peace be with them. Jesus is the Christ.

Friday, December 08, 2006

BEWARE: Federal Family Education Loan Processing Corp uses deceptive bait junk mail

Mickelle and I received an envelope yesterday with a supposed $300 Mastercard gift card with the following "verbatim" explanation:

Dear John,
Congratulations, FFELP would like to reward you with a MasterCard Gift Card. There is NO COST TO YOU. This is our way of showing our appreciation for your testimonial regarding your experience with our free service. You will be able to user your Gift Card at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, or anywhere that Master Card is accepted.

Sincerely,

The marketing Dept. of
Federal Family Education Loan Processing Corp.

NOTE:
Activation is Required!


And that's what it said, telling me to "call for details" to 1-866-901-8558. I called them today and they told me that I have to consolidate my student loans with them in order to receive the card. While the letter makes it seem like the card is mine, as soon as I told the chap on the phone that I had already consolidated, he couldn't wait to get rid of me. When I asked him if he thought it was deceptive what they were doing, he started to agree with me, and then said no. Especially during the Christmas season, $300 would be an awesome thing to receive. Make no mistake, this $300 will come out of your pocket in your loan.

Boys and girls, there's not such thing as free $300 when it comes to a company. Especially one that sends you offers unsolicited through the mail.

May this post be a public service announcement!

FFELPC: Morran-se num fogo.

FFELP= Federal Family Education Loan Program, which has nothing to do with these shysters. The refer to themselves as FFELP, claiming de facto, to be part of the government program.

Federal Family Education Loan Processing Corp.
P.O. Box 1198
Tarpon Springs, FL 34655

Update December 11, 2007

This has become my most popular post. I reported the company to the Better Business Bureau in Florida. The FFELPC responded to my complaint with a terse letter attempting to excuse their behavior and question my intellect. I responded that their name would be like me being a private investigator and calling my company the Federal Bureau of Investigation Corporation. It gives the appearance of government sanctioning, when in fact, it is a for-profit enterprise. I also reported the company to Visa for trademark infringement, no word yet on what happened there. Regardless of the legality of what they do, it is still shady. They send you a fake card for $300 for your testimonial for their free service. It isn't free. They make money off your student loan interest--nothing is free. I recommend http://www.northstar.org/ for all your student loan needs. They are a not-for-profit lender, and they have some of the best interest rebates around!

Shameless plug: If you found this post helpful/useful, please consider clicking on a couple of the google ad links to the right so I can earn some ad money to help pay off my student loans.

Update December 29, 2007

Apparently the FFELPC has tried to update its gimmick. Jedi Jawa has a good link explaining their new shade of gray. Apparently they now at least let you know that you have to take advantage of their service to get the $300, but it's still misleading, in my opinion. Thanks to the diminuitive Jedi for the link! I also found the letter the FFELPC sent to the Florida BBB in response to my complaint:

Federal Family Education Loan Processing Corp.
40347 US. Hwy. 19 N. Suite 233
Tarpon Springs, FL. 34689

December 15, 2006

Better Business Bureau of West Florida, Inc.
P.O. Box 7950
Clearwater, FL 33758

RE: Case # 67074579: Mac Williams


Enclosed in this communication is a response to the compliant filed with you by the above referenced party.

Our organization is a participant in the Federal Family Education Loan Program which was developed by the Higher Education Act. This is a free service that has no cost to any potential borrower that we contact. The federal program has no fees or costs of any kind and is available to anyone who has eligible loans to consolidate through the program. We have been granted access to borrower information through our lenders who had to conform with the practices and compliances with the Department of Education.

What we offer is an incentive for eligible loan holders to consolidate those loans with us.
We do not pretend to be or inform anyone that we are the Federal Govt. What we say is that we participate in a federal program designed for federal student loan holders.
Again, I say that calling oneself the FFELPC is like me owning a waste disposal company called the Environmental Protection Agency Corporation. It is them dealing in shades of gray.

The amount of our incentive in no way is added to the loans or is required to be repaid.
Certainly, but other companies offer incentives to the borrower that will save them thousands upon thousands of dollars (in addition to lower interst rates). Your $300 offer, in essence, costs them money.

In fact our letter has an OPT OUT notice on the reverse side which states that the offer is not guaranteed if our requirements are not meet. And that a testimonial is required.
This Opt Out notice has been approved by a leading credit reporting agency.
We notice that the entire letter was not submitted to you with that information.
I transcribed the entire letter into my original post. To my recollection, there was NO opt-out notice on the back of the letter--but it has been a year.

Please understand that no company can please everyone although we do an outstanding job with customer service there will always be those who feel they can buck the system by complaining or misrepresenting the facts. For every one (1) person that complains we have hundreds that are happy with our service and we have the testimonials to prove it.
And then there are the thousands who receive your offer, recognize its shadiness, and neither accept the offer nor complain.

Thank you for allowing our company to respond to this compliant and we will do everything in our power to rectify any situation that may result in a negative experience with anyone that comes in contact with our organization customers or not.

Sincerely,

Ronald Perret
President
Federal Family Education Loan Processing Corp.
RPerret@myffelp.com
Notice the P stands for Processing and not Program. Nowhere on the letters does it spell out what the P represents in the acronym. No matter, they've now changed their name.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Job Interviews

I now have job interviews with:

1) The Citadel
2) The University of South Carolina at Beaufort
3) Central Arkansas U

I am excited about all three schools. The Citadel has a long tradition and Charleston is lovely. I would imagine that my moderate views would find a good home there. Beaufort is intriguing because it is a rapidly growing school that would provide opportunities for program building, which I believe I would find intellectually stimulating. Central Arkansas has a Masters program in Spanish and their study abroad program is in Costa Rica. All plusses. I would really like to have 8-10 interviews and would love to hear from Berry College (Rome, GA) and Mississippi State.

I have questions for all the schools. I am interested in them all. I decided that it wouldn't be ethical to apply to schools from which I really wouldn't consider accepting offers. So, any school that calls me for an interview has my full attention. I am not so proud as to only look at major research schools. I would rather go where I think I will be an asset to the Department, where my family will be happy, and where I will be happy intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

When it comes time to make my final decision, and I pray to have options, I will consider everything, make my choice, and then inquire of the Lord if my decision is in accordance with His will--realizing that sometimes more than one option can be a good thing.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Miscellany and My Thoughts on Stuff

Your tax dollars hard at work:
http://www.bangordailynews.com/news/t/news.aspx?articleid=143754&zoneid=500

Apparently, people keep breaking stuff in their houses using the new Nintendo Wii game controllers. Nintendo has responded to their concerns and potential lawsuits with the following Idiots Guide to Not Breaking Stuff Using Our Controllers: Translation= Don't let go of it, dumbass.

This reminds me of the time I bought Civilization III back before I had kids and was allowed to play computer games. The software license included the following language:

Do not play the game consecutively for more than 2 hours. Pause the game. Get up. Walk around. Use the restroom. Stretch. Playing the game for more than 12 hours at a time may negatively impact your health. A sedentary lifestyle is not conducive to intelligent gameplay. Regular exercise should be part of your normal routine.

The fact that a software company had to insulate itself from lawsuits by encouraging its users to get up from the desk and go take care of personal hygiene says a lot about the tunnel vision that people get when they become entranced by a new game. The first time I played Age of Empires, that was all I could think about for weeks. I played it every spare moment I had....at the expense of my schooling, personal hygiene, etc. I haven't been allowed to play computer games since I was at BYU, because Mickelle made me promise to not buy any until I had my doctorate. I plan to buy an XBOX 360 the day I graduate.

Apparently the boys over at www.fark.com are auctioning off their first ever server. It's unremarkable until you read the questions for the seller and the answers. If you know about the O RLY? owl, it will crack you up!
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220057569996


Yet another story of recidivism and just desserts. Never carjack an old lady at knifepoint if she hasn't hung up the gas pump yet. You just might get a painful petroleum shower for your efforts.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4382100.html

I support the fair implementation of the death penalty. The Houston Chronicle is making a big deal out of this supposedly "innocent" man being executed in Texas in 1993. He claims he was framed "because he shot a police officer." He had murder in his heart when he shot a man over a game of pool. Innocent of one murder but guilty of attempting another. It's a wash to me.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/3472872.html

A man in Katy, Texas claims that his new Muslim neighbors that plan to build a mosque next to his property were rude to him, so he has planned to host public pig races on Fridays (the Muslim holy day) on the portion of his property that abutts the planned mosque. This kind of divisiveness is not right. It's not Christian.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/4373941.html

A Norwegian firm has signed a deal with a US hospital to purchase the 11,500 liters of human fat liposuctioned every week to convert into bio-diesel. Sure! Why not?
http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1559489.ece

Careful crossing the border in Sweden, if you're hot:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061205/ap_on_fe_st/passport_photos

Personal Success

I have an interview scheduled at the MLA Conference with The Citadel. I am very excited about getting my first interview and about beginning the process of obtaining a job as a professor. I think I would love to live in Charleston. Here's hoping that more schools are impressed by my credentials.

Also, a paper proposal that I submitted to the Borges Center at the University of Iowa has been accepted and I will be presenting it there at a Conference on Borges in April. I am very excited. This is my first non-graduate student conference and it will give me the opportunity to finally put my research on Zoroastrianism and Borges out there for the community at large.

It's been a good week.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Brian Van Dam in Need of Your Prayers

For anyone that lives or used to live in New Orleans, Brian Van Dam is currently in Children's Hospital fighting off a really nasty infection. He may have appendicitis. The doctors aren't quite sure yet. He has been sick for 11 days and is still running a fever, so if you have a moment and the inclination, say a prayer or two for Brian today so that he can get back to being his old self.

Finally! I'm Like Jesus in One Way!!!!!!

Although it's not a behavioral way, more of a chronological one. I turned 33 today. Jesus lived to be 33. Then he died for my sins. Hopefully I can avoid dying for my sins.

Mickelle made Grasshopper Brains (Cool Whip and cream cheese blended and placed over a walnut-whole wheat flour-butter crust, and then topped with pistachio pudding for my party last night. I'm not a birthday cake fan.

I had the best little birthday party I've had in years. Good friends came over. We sat around and chatted. It was a nice evening. I felt bad because we couldn't invite everyone from church over...our house just isn't that big. It didn't used to be a problem. Our church actually has more people SINCE Katrina.

Today Mickelle is taking me to K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen for my birthday present (el que el dinero puede comprar) and I am excited.

Whenever I think of the number 33, I just keep thinking of record speeds on my player when I was a little kid.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Civil War on Our Borders? Mexico Headed for a Second Civil War

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/americas/12/01/mexico.new.government.ap/index.html

A warning to all those that call all Spanish speakers "Spanish," and use "Mexican" as a perjorative; to all those xenophobes out there that fear immigrants and think that people speaking another language in their presence are talking about them; to all those that think that speaking louder in English to someone that doesn't understand it will help them understand you; to all those people that complain about the employees at McDonald's but hire Hispanic laborers to do your yardwork, I say to you this:

If you think we have an immigration problem right now in this country, heaven forbid Mexico should erupt into another Civil War.

Sadly, it appears that Mexico may very well disintegrate into another Civil War. The first one has been called "Un fracaso total" (a complete and utter failure) by Mexicans and did little to better the rights and lives of the poor indigenous people of the South or the North. I'm not saying that Mexico is going to go to war with itself today or tomorrow. But, ten years ago at Georgia Tech, I wrote a paper wherein I asserted that Mexico would have a civil war within 20 years. With Sub-comandante Marcos and the Zapatistas agitating, sometimes with violence, for land rights in Chiapas, the Northern States' economies dependent more on the USA than Mexico City, and the left and the right constantly bickering, and today, coming to blows, Mexico needs to do some serious soul-searching and coalition building in order to avoid the death of millions. Because that's what would happen. Millions would die from fighting, disease, starvation, and the chaos that would ensue in the event of a Civil War.

This puts our own national security at risk for various reasons.

1. Mexico is very close to the US (duh). Much of our domestic energy production comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico too has offshore energy production. Sabotage, destruction, etc. could damage our economy.

2. Civil war wrecks economies. Already the economy is so weak in Mexico that millions of Mexicans risk their lives coming to this country because we haven't had a decent migrant worker program since Kennedy let the "Braceros" law expire in the 60's. If war were to break out, MILLIONS of Mexicans would flee the combat and try to enter the United States. We would be forced to accept them for humanitarian reasons, not to mention the enormous political pressure that the other millions of Hispanos already in this country would exert on the government to allow them entry.

3. Political instability in a strong federal government like Mexico's can breed and cause other countries in the political sphere to collapse. We would be forced to react to protect national interests in Mexico. No matter which side we choose to aid, we will get caught in a political quagmire. Mexico is large and rich and were it not for corruption (centuries of it), it whould be a First World country. It should be. That it isn't is just tragic. A country with that many hard-working people, with so many natural resources, so many tourists locations, and so much arable land should be rich beyond measure.

4. We import vast quantities of our fresh food from Mexico. Food costs would sky rocket.

I do not know the exact details and theories of conspiracy of the election, but I do know that the loser's establishment of a "legitimate government" and presidency can only lead to bad things. The future of Mexico rests in the hands of the new president. If he tries to be consilliatory and reach out to his opponent, perhaps nominating him to his cabinet or something, then Mexico can avoid disaster. If he takes a hard line, that will only put the nation one step closer to the brink of disaster. Perhaps he should listen to the wisdom of Don Corleone, "Keep your friends closer, but your enemies closer." I know that line came from someone else, but I can't identify it, and I know it was said in the Godfather II.

This whole situation reminds me of a song by the musical group Molotov (these lyrics may be offensive to the sensitive Mormon set):

La polica te esta extorsionando(dinero)
pero ellos viven de lo que tu estas pagando
y si te tratan como un delincuente,(ladron)
no es tu culpa dale gracias al regente.
Hay que arrancar el problema de raiz
y cambiar el gobierno de nuestro pais.
A la gente que esta en la burocracia,
a esa gente que le gustan las migajas.

Y por eso me quejo y me quejo
porque aqui es donde vivo y yo ya no soy un pendejo
que no watchas los puestos del gobierno
hay personas que se estan enriqueciendo.

Gente que vive en la pobreza
y nadie hace nada porque a nadie le interesa.
La gente de arriba te detesta
y hay mas gente que quiere que caigan sus cabezas.
Si le das mas poder al poder,
mas duro te van a venir a cojer,
porque fuimos potencia mundial
y somos pobres nos manejan mal.

Coro:
Dame, dame, dame todo el power
para que te demos en la madre,
gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme todo el poder
so I can come around to joder.

Porque no nacimos donde no hay que comer,
no hay porque preguntarnos como le vamos a hacer?
Si nos pintan como unos huevones, no lo somos.
Viva Mexico cabrones!

que se sienta el power mexicano
que se sienta todos juntos, como hermanos
porque somos mas y jalamos mas parejo,
porque estar siguiendo a una bola de pendejos?
que nos llevan por donde les conviene
y es nuestro sudor lo que los mantiene,
los mantiene comiendo el pan caliente
y ese pan es el de nuestra gente.

Coro:
Dame, dame, dame todo el power
para que te demos en la madre,
gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme todo el poder
so I can come around to joder

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Don't Ask the Loser What He Thinks About Someone Else Winning MVP?

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2680495&campaign=rss&source=MLBHeadlines

We always have a reason to justify why we were not selected for an award. We rationalize things. We go through processes such as denial, wherein we argue how we were better qualified for the award than the actual winner. Unless that is that we're humble. Which I am not.

I still think (not really) I should've won Most Intelligent in my Senior Superlatives. So what if Jon Bob Wesselmann had a better GPA (valedictorian), 5 perfect scores on AP exams, was done with calculus as a sophomore, got high SAT and ACT scores, and was admitted to CalTech.

_I_ was academic bowl captain two years in a row.

See my point? Don't ask the loser what he thinks about someone else winning the prize. Pujols had a great season, but the writers thought someone else had a better one. He won.

Another great example:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Something for Nothing: Katrina Victims, (In)gratitude, Grifters, Entitlement Mentality, and the End of Trust

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6521784

By now you've all heard about the above story.

I live in New Orleans. My house did not flood from Katrina....barely. It came within two inches of coming inside. We could not live in our home for four months. I have helped several families gut and clean out their homes. It is nasty work.

I've been there and seen the faces of people as they watch the FEMA bobcats dump their possessions into the back of a dumptruck. I've seen the tears. I watched grown men get weak. During the 3 weeks that I believe my house HAD actually flooded, several times people would say things like "well at least you're alive, you can always rebuy your possessions." Very true, but I have to tell you, that unless you've actually lost everything before, you should never, Ever, EVER say something like that to someone that is just beginning to cope with it.

My city is still destroyed. It is starting to look like its old self in places, but the vastness of the destruction is truly awful. New Orleans East is still a ghost town. The Ninth Ward too. We're being told that the city is only back to 40% of its original population. People that are from here want to come back here for many reasons.

#1 The weather. Compare the weather here today versus anywhere else up North.
#2 The culture. Jazz, Mardi Gras, Creole, Cajun, Isleño, etc.
#3 The food. Oh my goodness the food.
#4 The place. New Orleans is like nowhere else in the whole country. One man that evacuated to North Dakota was quoted as saying that he felt like he had "emigrated to the United States" when he left NOLA.

Those are the positive reasons for coming back here. It is a truly wonderful place, and when I leave here, I will leave with a tear in my eye. However, many people that have grown up here, unfortunately, are products of a system that LBJ signed into law, and that has had the effect of enslaving people to a feeling of entitlement. Moving away from New Orleans to somewhere else means that people are suddenly forced to adapt to new circumstances. Most New Orleanians moved away and got jobs, began working, trying to do whatever they could. We never see the news stories about the VAST MAJORITY of those people. Instead the media feed us a steady diet of the many charlatans, grifters, and downright thugs that also dwelt here and how they are committing crimes and doing bad things to people that only wanted to help them.

This latest story is just another example. A family is, foolishly, given a home. If the church GAVE them the home, by all rights, it is theirs to sell. They should've have told the church that they didn't like it and should have given it back. But, they didn't. The church was foolish for not checking up on its people, and for not holding onto the title. Let them live there rent free forever, but the church would remain the owner. Giving the house to someone was just plain stupid. Even though it pisses me off, the people had the right to sell the home. They owned it.

Things like this make people not want to trust others. Especially people from New Orleans. The end of trust is bad for us all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Slowing Housing Market, Jobs, Pride, Mormons, and St. George, Utah

http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/28/news/economy/homesales_october/index.htm?cnn=yes

For the past few years I have watched, stupefied, as housing prices have risen rapidly everywhere across the nation. Little piece of crap houses beneath the Cherokee County water tower on Bells Ferry Road in Acworth, Georgia were selling for $175k+. These houses are within range of being hit if the water tower ever were to collapse. The old cess pool behind my elementary school is now covered with Edward Scissorhands houses....and these sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. These houses' yards are too small to even park a car on.

My brother-in-law was able to have his house re-appraised in Las Vegas and not have to pay mortgage insurance anymore because the equity had increased enough to allow him to throw off that onerous surcharge.

These high prices did wonders for urban renewal as people bought old houses and re-did them. Lands that had sat vacant for decades were suddenly on the market, stripped of their trees and vegetation, covered over with homes, and in use.

In St. George, Utah, I have several family members directly involved with the real estate market. I worry that a downswing in home prices will slow that economy and that they might lose their jobs. Housing is/was out of control in St. George, so much so that I'm sure many lower middle class families were forced to move away or look elsewhere if they were just starting out.

St. George will soon have to reckon with a big problem. I'm not expert on the subject, but I would imagine that the capital flowing into St. George to purchase lands and houses will eventually crest and begin to ebb. With precious few construction materials produced locally, many dollars have to flow right back out the door already. Interests paid to non-local banks leaves the economy. The high percentage of Mexican construction workers also will syphon off money from the economy. When the housing boom and new construction comes to an end, I worry that the economy will crash.

St. George is the one and only place I've ever been where there are no true poor people. I mean truly truly poor. There are no "bad" parts of town no matter what some locals might think. There are no nearby communities where the poor live and shuttle in to St. George to work. The whole region is prosperous. That's not saying that bad things like murder don't happen there, I'm just saying that it is a uniquely prosperous and pleasant place to live. These factors are most likely due to the high level of education of the majority of the population, the high moral makeup of the predominately Mormon community, and the influx of outside capital during the past few decades as more and more retirees have chosen its awesome Winter weather as their new homes.

Vast hordes of retirees settle there, and bring with them money to purchase goods, services, and probably most importantly, medical care. However, when they die, these people's money typically doesn't stay in the community, it is left to heirs elsewhere.

It seems to me that there are three main industries there: Medicine, Construction, and Real Estate.

Not that the problem is specific to St. George, I use it merely as an example, but this town is prosperous and it shows. Everyone drives nice cars. The houses are all amazing. The interior decoration is always amazing. People wear really really nice clothing. And yet I worry that many people live beyond their means. I worry about this because I know some really good honest decent folks there, and if they are over-leveraged and the economy takes a hit, the house could come tumbling down figuratively. All over Utah, and the Mormon Church everywhere I've ever lived in the USA, people seem to be caught up in the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses (I say keeping-up-with-the-Jensens when talking to Mormons) mentality that we are supposed to ignore.

In General Conference on October 7, 2001, President Gordon B. Hinckley, a man I believe to be a prophet, said the following:

(Speaking of the events of September the 11th):
Occasions of this kind pull us up sharply to a realization that life is fragile, peace is fragile, civilization itself is fragile. The economy is particularly vulnerable. We have been counseled again and again concerning self-reliance, concerning debt, concerning thrift.

So many of our people are heavily in debt for things that are not entirely necessary. When I was a young man, my father counseled me to build a modest home, sufficient for the needs of my family, and make it beautiful and attractive and pleasant and secure. He counseled me to pay off the mortgage as quickly as I could so that come what may there would be a roof over the heads of my wife and children. I was reared on that kind of doctrine.

I urge you as members of this Church to get free of debt where possible, and to have a little laid aside against a rainy day.

We cannot provide against every contingency. But we can provide against many contingencies. Let the present situation remind us that this we should do.

As we have been continuously counseled for more that 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time in case of need. But let us not panic nor go to extremes. Let us be prudent in every respect. And above all, my brothers and sisters, let us move forward with faith in the Living God and His Beloved Son.

Great are the promises concerning this land of America. We are told unequivocally that it is a "choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ" (Ether 2:12). This is the crux of the entire matter—obedience to the commandments of God.

The Constitution under which we live and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law.

I do not know what the future holds. I do not wish to sound negative, but I wish to remind you of the warnings of scripture and the teachings of the prophets which we have had constantly before us. I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine, and of the full and withered stalks of corn.

I cannot dismiss from my mind the grim warnings of the Lord as set forth in the 24th chapter of Matthew.

I am familiar, as are you, with the declarations of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping, and mourning, and lamentation (see D&C 112:24).

Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We and our children after us must do it.

...

In the prophet's words there I see the wise counsel to not live beyond our means. I love having a large home. My house is 1033 sq. ft. and it feels like a palace to me. Many people buy large houses, more than they can afford. I want to have a modest home that I can afford and that I can pay off quickly. But, I also want the mega-houses that I see on TV and that I've been to. Delivering pizza is a great way to see thousands of different homes, and big homes are just plain cool.

I like nice stuff. I like having nice stuff. I prefer my Dodge Magnum to my old Ford Escort, but I could still drive a Ford Escort and not be ashamed of it or long for something better. I am not caught up in costly apparel as the Nephites of old always seemed to do. I would love a big home, but my career will most likely not allow me to own one.....nor do I really need one. My brother-in-law has a big family and makes excellent money, so he can afford and needs a larger home than I do. One of my other brothers-in-law teaches high school in St. George, and so will probably struggle at first to afford a house big enough for his family. My best friend owns a massive home with just he and his wife and their slew of pets. They can afford it, but it seems awful big for just the two of them, and yet I find myself envisioning that kind of home when I think about what I want some day (though with their owner's convenants I doubt I would want to live in that neighborhood) and not the modest home that I know I should want. This is called pride on my part. I want something I don't need or can't afford. I find it easy not to covet cars. I don't covet clothing. I have no need to covet another's wife (have you seen mine? Phew!). But, houses are this great American sense of accomplishment and wealth that are tough to shake and I always dream of a big home. Space is a great thing.

I pray that when the time comes to buy my first home, I'll remember the words of the prophet and this blog post, and not let myself get caught up in the trap of big houses. I also hope that St. George continues to prosper and that these ramblings are merely the theories of an uninformed outsider.

Current real estate listings in St. George:
http://remax.realtor.com/FindHome/HomeListings.asp?mlsttl=St.+George&frm=bycomm&pgnum=1&mls=stgeorge&lnksrc=REALRSCF2C0002&js=on&gate=remax&poe=realtor&st=ut&areaid=1079180&typ=1&mnprice=0&mxprice=99999999&mnbed=0&mnbath=0&mnsqft=0&ss_fthb=n%2Fa&ss_mitm=n%2Fa

Monday, November 27, 2006

Owner's Covenants, Architectural Control Committees, the Reason for the Season, and Handel's Messiah

OH MY HELL!

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/27/peace.wreath.ap/index.html

Abandon all hope all ye who enter into an owner's covenant. The very fact that people have "architectural control committees" speaks more about the bourgeois values of our society that I generally loathe than anything else ever could. I live in New Orleans, where it is perfectly acceptable to paint your house bright blue with bright orange trim. I think it's lovely, and I am so put off by boring houses that all look alike that it makes me sick. From Las Vegas, NV to Canton, GA tract housing with intractable rules mean more homogenized developments that suck the soul out of people's lives. If I own the property, it's mine, and if I want to paint it pink with purple polka dots, then why should I not be able to do so?

Anyway, a famous Irish composer once borrowed some words from this Hebrew prophet that were sung something like this,

FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN
UNTO US
A SON IS GIVEN
AND THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE UPON HIS SHOULDERS
AND HIS KNEES
WE SHALL CALM HIM
WONDERFUL
COUNSELOR
THE MIGHTY GOD
THE EVERLASTING FATHER
THE PRINCE OF PEACE

The woman's peace symbol is very appropriate for the season and to hell with anyone that says otherwise. If my child were fighting in Iraq, I sure as hell WOULD be praying for peace. Whether she wants to pull the troops out now or wait for the "mission accomplished" to happen, peace is still a great thing and the end goal and endgame of our lives.

Michael Richards's Psychotic Break

I'm sure you've all heard about Kramer's meltdown on the stage. Here we have a man that is truly truly pissed off. I wince when I watch the video because it is just patently offensive and not his style. However, I'd like to try and maybe defend him (not his actions).

Comedians in our society sometimes say offensive things. Now, I'm no comedian, but sometimes people think I'm funny and/or witty. However, most of the time my jokes bomb....badly. I also know that I've started out with what I thought was a funny joke in my head, thinking it would get laughs, and then had it bomb like the proverbial lead zeppelin. I hope that's what happened to Mr. Richards. Maybe he got pissed, thought he'd say something edgy to take the focus of his own performance, got carried away with it (maybe he was trying to play a character like Borat or something) and then couldn't figure out a good punch line or a way out of his joke.

I'll bet he hates himself right now. Unless he's a racist jerk.

This video contains HIGHLY OFFENSIVE material (for the sensitive Mormon set).



I did read that Gloria Allred is now calling the people he offended her "clients" and they are seeking compensation. Oh please! An apology, definitely. Money for pain? Come on. Seriously. Come on.

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061124/COLUMNISTS18/61124011

A broken window is tangible property that can be replaced. Hurt feelings are mended with an apology, not money.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The status of the New Orleans Recovery School District students

I know many people that teach for the New Orleans Recovery School District. These students' schools were taken over by the state because they were far beyond any semblance of redemption from the hellholes they had become. One of my friends that teaches for them told me of this activity from her class last week.

She had them doing word association. She gave them four words, one of the words didn't belong and they had to identify it and say why it didn't belong.

One that she used:
Louisiana Texas Detroit California

One student answered "Texas" and she asked him "Why?" His response, "Texas is a city."

The worst one:
George Washington Abraham Lincoln John Hancock Thomas Jefferson

One student answered "Abraham Lincoln" and she asked him "Why?" to which he responded "
He wasn't a president." She then pointed out that he was a president, and another student chimed in "Yeah, he freed the slaves." Another student then said, "No, that was Rosa Parks." She told me she felt relieved when three of her 30 students laughed at the Rosa Parks comment. She then explained to them who Rosa Parks was.

It is shocking to me that African-American students do not know who Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, etc. were. Most people might not correctly identify John Hancock, but Rosa Parks.....come on. I have thought about this since she told me the story, and my theory is that the African-American youths today are now 3-4 generations removed from the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. Sadly, the vast majority of the children in my friends class are from single parent homes. She knows this from talking to them. Almost all of them live with their moms, aunts, or grandmothers. Freshman, many of them are parents themselves, and compare war stories about having their children with my friend, a mother of six. Several of them have told her that their mom's made them have natural childbirth as punishment for getting pregnant at 13-14. These kids have never known the outright, government sponsored and sanctioned racism of the Jim Crow laws, of forced segregation, of having to move to the back of the bus. In their minds that was a world ago. Their focus is on the here and now. They talk openly of sexual partners in the tens and twenties (mind you they are freshmen). Some of them bring large wads of cash to class, thousands of dollars. They all swear like sailors. She has three special-ed kids in her class, and no helpers to sit with them. They constantly disrupt everything, and with 30 students, she cannot properly educate them all while having to maintain discipline. She can never turn her back to the class, because they will throw things at her and/or leave. The students don't have their own textbooks, they have to leave them in the class because they only have enough for each student in the classroom at any given time. She puts together study guides, that essentially contain the tests, with the questions in different order, tells the students that information, and then when class is over, all the guides are on the floor.

She is only one teacher. She cannot do it all. The current generation may be lost, hopefully the younger ones can still be taught that education is the key to their future. I agonize over the thousands of young people that are victims/products of the system of this system. So many different groups are to blame that it does no good to blame anyone. We have to fix the system, so that 10 years from now, the high school graduates can read and write, get jobs, and start to fix this city. It can only go up from here.

Glavine May Return to Atlanta!!!!!

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6180928

I would love for the Braves to resign Tom Glavine. He is my favorite baseball player today, and second only to Dale Murphy, my all time favorite and personal hero. I would love to see him get win #300 in a Braves uniform. I have met him once before and he seems to be a very nice man. The Braves could always surprise us and contend next year, and I'd love to see Tommy get one more chance.

I'll always remember him being a pinch runner in 1988 in a couple of games. I saw it live. Those were the days. I don't know how my mom put up with my dad and I going to ball games every night.

My mom's the best.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Boring or Just Blase?

Readership is down.

Comments are way down.

Page impressions are down.

Repeat visitors are down.


Is my blog getting staid? Too bombastic? Same ole same ole?

Let me know,

Mac

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Since when are Jarheads politically correct? Toys for Tots deny the Christ!

So the Jarheads have turned away a donation of talking Jesus dolls from their Christmas Toys for Tots Christmas program because, "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."
http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/14/toy.jesus.ap/index.html

Last I checked, Toys for Tots was a Christmas program. Jews and Muslims don't celebrate Christmas. But wait, if you go to the Toys for Tots webpage, it appears that the Marines have decided to call it the "holiday season."
http://toysfortots2006.com/google/home.html

I'm not one to lament the removal of "Christ" from Christmas, which isn't a problem in Spanish (Navidad) or Portuguese (Natal) [both words incidently mean "birth"] from corporate advertising. Calling it the Holiday season is fine. But I didn't expect the Marines to become politically correct. Now, I can't imagine anyone but Ned Flanders' kids getting excited over a talking, scripture quoting, Jesus doll, so I sympathize. I just think it's funny that it made the news.

Correct me if I'm wrong Norman, but X is a Greek symbol for Christ, so by calling it X-mas, you are actually showing reverence for the name of Jesus.

Dating Web Sites' Ads Getting Out of Hand



So, this is an ad for a dating website that I couldn't help but notice today on an article about Borat. Here's the screen capture:


You notice that the woman is wearing only a piece of dental floss, and is picking it up with the heel of her stilleto. She is naked. And this is an ad on a web page that I would normally not worry about. To me, this ad is clearly pornographic, and yet it advertises singlesnet.com, a webpage supposedly dedicated to bringing single people together. Notice the teaser, "Wanna see the other half?" While the ad clearly focuses the attention on the curvature of what can only be described as a fabulous butt, it simultaneously eroticizes it. I am no longer clicking on the ad to hope to meet someone because I am single, but because I want to see the other half of this sexy body. A visit to the actual webpage, www.singlesnet.com, reveals a far less erotic webpage. The same is true of other dating services. Anyone that uses hotmail knows all too well the constant True ads that flash women in bikinis around your email...constantly. Again, same thing, if you go to true.com, it is not the tantalizing ads that you see, but a toned-down version. I imagine that these online dating services must be decidedly guy-heavy. I don't see ads for them featuring men's butts and chests and whatever else women might find attractive (teeth maybe?).

Monday, November 13, 2006

WTF? NZLND SEZ TXT OK 4 KIDZ EXAMS

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/11/11/nz.text.ap/index.html

ppl n nu Zealand wiL regret dEz kinds of decisions n bout 20 yr.z. DIS iz not lIk advocating ebonics, ther iz Nuttin inherently cultural bout DIS othR thN laziness 4 orthography. We aL c%d uz a ltl mo theology & geometry.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Howard Stern, Cox Cable, Nick Jr., and Poorly Placed Pay Per View Ads

So, last Saturday at 12:45 CST, Marley is watching Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius on Nickelodeon. The shows on that channel in the morning and early afternoon are part of a block of shows targeted at preschool and younger elementary aged children called "Nick Jr." Marley is sitting there watching the show when it goes to commercial. Mickelle and I are in the room, doing something else, but aware that Marley is watching her show. All of a sudden a commercial comes on for Howard Stern's "99 cent Pay Per View" spectacular something or other. The commercial was a Cox Cable one for their pay per view service. It featured such purient tittlations as "Unrated" and "Uncensored." Basically, it's a commercial about Howard Stern getting porn stars to do all kinds of things totally naked and you can pay 99 cents and watch it all.

Now, as much as I despise pornography, becacuse he is in the private broadcast spectrum, I believe that he has the right to do whatever he wants to consenting people. Freedom of Speech means that people should be free to say things that we find patently offensive. I hate what he does. It's only one step away from the graffiti on bathroom windows. He exploits women for his own amusement, profit, and eroticization. He has a gift with words that he has squandered. Nevertheless, he has the legal right to do what he does.

However, I think it is entirely and wholly inappropriate to advertise this show during a children's hour on a children's channel. It is inexcusable. Unjustafiable. And it happened more than once. On different days. Someone needs a wakeup call. I don't want to have to explain to my daughter what "uncensored" and "horny babes" mean.

I complained to Cox. Hopefully it was an innocent mistake. No one has called me back. Grrrrr!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Story from Iraq -- Funny & Sad Simultaneously

A good friend of my friend Tim Boisvert, A Great American, is currently serving in Iraq. I consider him an amigo desconocido. He wrote a blog post last month, that while comical, speaks volumes about how far the Iraqi army is "progressing" towards tactical competence. Allow him to relate the story. Follow this link:

http://latitude35.blogspot.com/2006/10/iraqi-eod.html (He has many other good posts besides this one)

For his family's safety and his own, we don't refer to him by name.

Good luck buddy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

FOR THE LOVE OF BOB

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/11/08/rumsfeld.ap/index.html

(in all caps for a reason)

WHY IN THE HELL DID THE PRESIDENT NOT ANNOUNCE THIS ONE WEEK AGO? THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS LOST ALL ITS POLITICAL SAVVY. SERIOUSLY! THIS COULD HAVE CHANGED YESTERDAY'S RESULTS! NOT THAT I'M ALL THAT UPSET ABOUT THE TURN IN POWER----though the idea of Nancy Pelosi being third in line to the Presidency does make me a little queasy.

My friend Tim Boisvert, A Great American, had this to say:

"man, this is like the greatest 24 hours I've had in years... All I've asked for is for commuter rail to come to Utah County and for Rumsfeld to step down."

Bobby Jindal won re-election with 88% of the vote. That's a trouncing. He is the only politician I respect anymore. I really like him and hope that he becomes a candidate for President one of these years. He and I disagree on some policies (drug control), but I think he's an honest and good man.

I just hope that the person chosen to replace Rumsfeld isn't just as bad or worse.

My friends directly affected by this change of events:

Private Maxmillyen Smith, USAR, currently serving in Iraq
Captain Charles Nolan, USA, currently serving somewhere unknown
Corporal Ian Terry, USAR, currently serving his country somewhere classified
Cadet Matt Brady, USAR, currently studying to become a lawyer to defend his country's defenders.
Captain Darren Pittard, USA, currently making sure that the Army has good gyncological health
Captain Jen Gurski, USA, currently making sure that the Army has good urological health.

I worry about Max Smith every day. He was so gentle as a youth. I worry he'll come back from Iraq a war-hardened man with demons.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Infant baptism, Tess of the D'ubervilles and the Gall of Bitterness

And then this news out of the Vatican that the Pope has ended the official backing, so-to-speak, of the doctrine of limbo.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5412166.stm

I find it amazing that people are only now realizing the horrific nature of believing that little children are in need of repentance, let alone that they would go to hell for not doing something on which they would have to rely on others to do for them.

One of the saddest stories relating to this diabolical doctrine can be found in Thomas Hardy's masterpiece, Tess of the D'ubervilles, please take the time to read all of this passage, it is powerfully heart-wrenching, because you know that this scenario played itself out in divers manners, countless times throughout history. Tess had a child out of wedlock, and had "shamed" her family by her promiscuity. Her father, a drunkard, decided to punish her. What follows is horrific:

In the afternoon and evening the proceedings of the morning were continued, Tess staying on till dusk with the body of harvesters. Then they all rode home in one of the largest wagons, in the company of a broad tarnished moon that had risen from the ground to the eastwards, its face resembling the outworn gold-leaf halo of some worm-eaten Tuscan saint. Tess's female companions sang songs, and showed themselves very sympathetic and glad at her reappearance out of doors, though they could not refrain from mischievously throwing in a few verses of the ballad about the maid who went to the merry green wood and came back a changed state. There are counterpoises and compensations in life; and the event which had made of her a social warning had also for the moment made her the most interesting personage in the village to many. Their friendliness won her still farther away from herself, their lively spirits were contagious, and she became almost gay.

But now that her moral sorrows were passing away a fresh one arose on the natural side of her which knew no social law. When she reached home it was to learn to her grief that the baby had been suddenly taken ill since the afternoon. Some such collapse had been probable, so tender and puny was its frame; but the event came as a shock nevertheless.

The baby's offence against society in coming into the world was forgotten by the girl-mother; her soul's desire was to continue that offence by preserving the life of the child. However, it soon grew clear that the hour of emancipation for that little prisoner of the flesh was to arrive earlier than her worst misgiving had conjectured. And when she had discovered this she was plunged into a misery which transcended that of the child's simple loss. Her baby had not been baptized.

Tess had drifted into a frame of mind which accepted passively the consideration that if she should have to burn for what she had done, burn she must, and there was an end of it. Like all village girls she was well grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and had dutifully studied the histories of Aholah and Aholibah, and knew the inferences to be drawn therefrom. But when the same question arose with regard to the baby, it had a very different colour. Her darling was about to die, and no salvation.

It was nearly bedtime, but she rushed downstairs and asked if she might send for the parson. The moment happened to be one at which her father's sense of the antique nobility of his family was highest, and his sensitiveness to the smudge which Tess had set upon that nobility most pronounced, for he had just returned from his weekly booze at Rolliver's Inn. No parson should come inside his door, he declared, prying into his affairs, just then, when, by her shame, it had become more necessary than ever to hide them. He locked the door and put the key in his pocket.

The household went to bed, and, distressed beyond measure, Tess retired also. She was continually waking as she lay, and in the middle of the night found that the baby was still worse. It was obviously dying--quietly and painlessly, but none the less surely.

In her misery she rocked herself upon the bed. The clock struck the solemn hour of one, that hour when fancy stalks outside reason, and malignant possibilities stand rock-firm as facts. She thought of the child consigned to the nethermost corner of hell, as its double doom for lack of baptism and lack of legitimacy; saw the arch-fiend tossing it with his three-pronged fork, like the one they used for heating the oven on baking days; to which picture she added many other quaint and curious details of torment sometimes taught the young in this Christian country. The lurid presentment so powerfully affected her imagination in the silence of the sleeping house that her nightgown became damp with perspiration, and the bedstead shook with each throb of her heart.

The infant's breathing grew more difficult, and the mother's mental tension increased. It was useless to devour the little thing with kisses; she could stay in bed no longer, and walked feverishly about the room.

"O merciful God, have pity; have pity upon my poor baby!" she cried. "Heap as much anger as you want to upon me, and welcome; but pity the child!"

She leant against the chest of drawers, and murmured incoherent supplications for a long while, till she suddenly started up."

Ah! perhaps baby can be saved! Perhaps it will be just the same!"She spoke so brightly that it seemed as though her face might have shone in the gloom surrounding her. She lit a candle, and went to a second and a third bed under the wall, where she awoke her young sisters and brothers, all of whom occupied the same room. Pulling out the washing-stand so that she could get behind it, she poured some water from a jug, and made them kneel around, putting their hands together with fingers exactly vertical. While the children, scarcely awake, awe-stricken at her manner, their eyes growing larger and larger, remained in this position, she took the baby from her bed--a child's child--so immature as scarce to seem a sufficient personality to endow its producer with the maternal title. Tess then stood erect with the infant on her arm beside the basin, the next sister held the Prayer-Book open before her, as the clerk at church held it before the parson; and thus the girl set about baptizing her child.

Her figure looked singularly tall and imposing as she stood in her long white nightgown, a thick cable of twisted dark hair hanging straight down her back to her waist. The kindly dimness of the weak candle abstracted from her form and features the little blemishes which sunlight might have revealed--the stubble scratches upon her wrists, and the weariness of her eyes--her high enthusiasm having a transfiguring effect upon the face which had been her undoing, showing it as a thing of immaculate beauty, with a touch of dignity which was almost regal. The little ones kneeling round, their sleepy eyes blinking and red, awaited her preparations full of a suspended wonder which their physical heaviness at that hour would not allow to become active.

The most impressed of them said:

"Be you really going to christen him, Tess?"

The girl-mother replied in a grave affirmative.

"What's his name going to be?"

She had not thought of that, but a name suggested by a phrase in the book of Genesis came into her head as she proceeded with the baptismal service, and now she pronounced it:

"Sorrow, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

She sprinkled the water, and there was silence.

"Say 'Amen,' children."

The tiny voices piped in obedient response "Amen!"Tess went on:

"We receive this child"--and so forth--"and do sign him with the sign of the Cross."

Here she dipped her hand into the basin, and fervently drew an immense cross upon the baby with her forefinger, continuing with the customary sentences as to his manfully fighting against sin, the world, and the devil, and being a faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end. She duly went on with the Lord's Prayer, the children lisping it after her in a thin gnat-like wail, till, at the conclusion, raising their voices to clerk's pitch, they again piped into silence, "Amen!"

Then their sister, with much augmented confidence in the efficacy of the sacrament, poured forth from the bottom of her heart the thanksgiving that follows, uttering it boldly and triumphantly in the stopt-diapason note which her voice acquired when her heart was in her speech, and which will never be forgotten by those who knew her. The ecstasy of faith almost apotheosized her; it set upon her face a glowing irradiation, and brought a red spot into the middle of each cheek; while the miniature candle-flame inverted in her eye-pupils shone like a diamond. The children gazed up at her with more and more reverence, and no longer had a will for questioning. She did not look like Sissy to them now, but as a being large, towering, and awful--a divine personage with whom they had nothing in common.

Poor Sorrow's campaign against sin, the world, and the devil was doomed to be of limited brilliancy--luckily perhaps for himself, considering his beginnings. In the blue of the morning that fragile soldier and servant breathed his last, and when the other children awoke they cried bitterly, and begged Sissy to have another pretty baby. The calmness which had possessed Tess since the christening remained with her in the infant's loss. In the daylight, indeed, she felt her terrors about his soul to have been somewhat exaggerated; whether well founded or not she had no uneasiness now, reasoning that if Providence would not ratify such an act of approximation she, for one, did not value the kind of heaven lost by the irregularity--either for herself or for her child.

So passed away Sorrow the Undesired--that intrusive creature, that bastard gift of shameless Nature who respects not the social law; a waif to whom eternal Time had been a matter of days merely, who knew not that such things as years and centuries ever were; to whom the cottage interior was the universe, the week's weather climate, new-born babyhood human existence, and the instinct to suck human knowledge.

Tess, who mused on the christening a good deal, wondered if it were doctrinally sufficient to secure a Christian burial for the child. Nobody could tell this but the parson of the parish, and he was a new-comer, and did not know her. She went to his house after dusk, and stood by the gate, but could not summon courage to go in. The enterprise would have been abandoned if she had not by accident met him coming homeward as she turned away. In the gloom she did not mind speaking freely.

"I should like to ask you something, sir."

He expressed his willingness to listen, and she told the story of the baby's illness and the extemporized ordinance. "And now, sir," she added earnestly, "can you tell me this--will it be just the same for him as if you had baptized him?"

Having the natural feelings of a tradesman at finding that a job he should have been called in for had been unskilfully botched by his customers among themselves, he was disposed to say no. Yet the dignity of the girl, the strange tenderness in her voice, combined to affect his nobler impulses--or rather those that he had left in him after ten years of endeavour to graft technical belief on actual scepticism. The man and the ecclesiastic fought within him, and the victory fell to the man.

"My dear girl," he said, "it will be just the same."

"Then will you give him a Christian burial?" she asked quickly.

The Vicar felt himself cornered. Hearing of the baby's illness, he had conscientiously gone to the house after nightfall to perform the rite, and, unaware that the refusal to admit him had come from Tess's father and not from Tess, he could not allow the plea of necessity for its irregular administration.

"Ah--that's another matter," he said."Another matter--why?" asked Tess, rather warmly.

"Well--I would willingly do so if only we two were concerned. But I must not--for certain reasons."

"Just for once, sir!"

"Really I must not."

"O sir!" She seized his hand as she spoke.

He withdrew it, shaking his head.

"Then I don't like you!" she burst out, "and I'll never come to your church no more!"

"Don't talk so rashly."

"Perhaps it will be just the same to him if you don't? ... Will it be just the same? Don't for God's sake speak as saint to sinner, but as you yourself to me myself--poor me!"

How the Vicar reconciled his answer with the strict notions he supposed himself to hold on these subjects it is beyond a layman's power to tell, though not to excuse. Somewhat moved, he said in this case also--"It will be just the same."

So the baby was carried in a small deal box, under an ancient woman's shawl, to the churchyard that night, and buried by lantern-light, at the cost of a shilling and a pint of beer to the sexton, in that shabby corner of God's allotment where He lets the nettles grow, and where all unbaptized infants, notorious drunkards, suicides, and others of the conjecturally damned are laid. In spite of the untoward surroundings, however, Tess bravely made a little cross of two laths and a piece of string, and having bound it with flowers, she stuck it up at the head of the grave one evening when she could enter the churchyard without being seen, putting at the foot also a bunch of the same flowers in a little jar of water to keep them alive. What matter was it that on the outside of the jar the eye of mere observation noted the words "Keelwell's Marmalade"? The eye of maternal affection did not see them in its vision of higher things.

I have previously talked about how much I appreciated the "heretic" Pelagius' efforts to thwart the advocates of infant baptism. Augustine, with his Manichean ideals and dogmatism, caused unknowing quantities of heartache on families that suffered the loss of their loved ones.

I believe that the Book of Mormon is a true account of prophets here in the Americas. Whether or not you believe it, read here the words of the prophet Mormon to his son Moroni about infant baptism, about 400A.D.:

5 For, if I have learned the truth, there have been disputations among you concerning the baptism of your little children.

6 And now, my son, I desire that ye should labor diligently, that this gross error should be removed from among you; for, for this intent I have written this epistle.

7 For immediately after I had learned these things of you I inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And the word of the Lord came to me by the power of the Holy Ghost, saying:

8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.

9 And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.

10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

11 And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.

12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!

13 Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.

14 Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.

15 For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.

16 Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.

17 And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.

18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

19 Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.

20 And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption.

21 Wo unto such, for they are in danger of death, hell, and an endless torment. I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me. Listen unto them and give heed, or they stand against you at the judgment-seat of Christ.

22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—

23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.

24 Behold, my son, this thing ought not to be; for repentance is unto them that are under condemnation and under the curse of a broken law.

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

I am grateful that the Vatican is examining the Scriptures and the words of Christ as a means to reforming their doctrine......remembering first and foremost the words of the Master Himself:


1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew Chapter 18.

We are supposed to be like little children because they are blameless. I want no part of a God that condemns people to hell for not being baptized if they never had the conscious opportunity to decide for themselves...truly.