Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bringing the best of the world to the US

The US has made great strides in the last decade or two. Great international foods such as Lindt and Toblerone chocolate, Nutella, etc. have become easy to find in any major grocery store. You can find cheese fondue and pickled herring, if you're lucky. Mexican food has been easy to find for an even longer time.
It's even possible to find high quality bread like they make in France and Germany. Hearty, filling, good-tasting even without adding anything to it. It's sometimes difficult to find, and it's certainly pricey, but it does exist (and it's so much better than American bread). I've even had the pleasure of tasting some high-quality pastries here (even harder to find than good bread, and even more expensive). In Germany and France, most people buy their bread and pastries at bakeries, and almost all of it is high quality. Even the grocery store bread is good. I wish more people in the US would refuse to eat low-quality bread and cheap glazed donuts, and demand the better stuff; demand would go up, supply would go up, and ultimately, because it would no longer be a specialty item, prices would come down.
What are some other foreign things the US should adopt?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Song of the week

I'm making side dishes for tomorrow (April's working late tonight, and so I'm taking over her share of the cooking). Listening to Rush. Canadian, so not American, except that America has a tradition of taking the best of everything and making it American. Happy Thanksgiving, and here's some lyrics from an English band that America has yet to accept (but really should--the rest of the world has, I first heard about these guys from a Polish family in Germany...)
Marillion (lyrics by Fish)--definitely some of the best lyrics in music. Period.
This is a triad--three songs that have to be heard together; the first three songs from Misplaced Childhood.

Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono
Wearing bracelets of smoke, naked of understanding
Nicotine smears, long, long dried tears, invisible tears
Safe in my own words, learning from my own words
Cruel joke, cruel joke

Huddled in the safety of a pseudo silk kimono
A morning mare rides, in the starless shutters of my eyes
The spirit of a misplaced childhood is rising to speak his mind
To this orphan of heartbreak, disillusioned and scarred
A refugee, refugee.

Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall
Do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college hall
s Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair
By the way didn't I break your heart?
Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart
So sorry, I never meant to break your heart
But you broke mine

Kayleigh is it too late to say I'm sorry?
And Kayleigh could we get it together again?
I just can't go on pretending that it came to a natural end
Kayleigh, oh I never thought I'd miss you
And Kayleigh I thought that we'd always be friends
We said our love would last forever
So how did it come to this bitter end?

Do you remember barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars
Do you remember loving on the floor in Belsize Park
Do you remember dancing in stilettos in the snow
Do you remember you never understood I had to go
By the way, didn't I break your heart
Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart
So sorry, I never meant to break your heart
But you broke mine

Kayleigh I just wanna say I'm sorry
But Kayleigh I'm too scared to pick up the phone
To hear you've found another lover to patch up our broken home
Kayleigh I'm still trying to write that love song
Kayleigh it's more important to me now you're gone
Maybe it will prove that we were right
Or ever prove that I was wrong

I was walking in the park dreaming of a spark
When I heard the sprinklers whisper
Shimmer in the haze of summer lawns
Then I heard the children singing
They were running through the rainbows
They were singing a song for you
Well it seemed to be a song for you
The one I wanted to write for you, for you

Lavenders blue, dilly dilly, lavenders green
When I am King, dilly dilly, you will be Queen
A penny for your thoughts my dear
A penny for your thoughts my dear
I.O.U. for your love, IOU for your love

Lavenders green, dilly dilly, lavenders blue
When you love me, dilly dilly, I will love you
A penny for your thoughts my dear
A penny for your thoughts my dear
IOU for your love, IOU for your love

For your love

If you're interested in some fantastic music, check these guys out. This album is their best.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Voting patterns

A number of counties voted more Republican in the presidential election of 2008 than they did in 2004.
Of course, many counties in Arizona and Alaska did. Duh.
But take a look at this map:
A huge section of the South. And practically nowhere else.
Why just in the South?
I can only think of one decent answer: racism.
If anyone has better explanations, please let me know.
Meanwhile, the most racist place I've ever lived, Eastern Idaho, also has issues: school children--2nd and 3rd-graders--chanting "Assassinate Obama" on a school bus in Rexburg. Where do you think they picked that up? The Rexburg mayor believes the obvious--from parents.
I've heard people say Bush should be tried for crimes. I've never heard anyone say he should die. But Obama is getting more death threats and his Secret Service is working more overtime investigating these threats than any past president.
On the other hand, Utah voted more for Obama than they did for Kerry, and Obama even won in Salt Lake County (yes, county...that includes my hometown).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Living apart

I'm writing a paper for one of my classes. One of the subjects of the paper involves a married couple that is living apart. It's a temporary thing, they live together on the weekends, and it's just for their schooling purposes, but it got me thinking...that's got to be hard. Not too many couples do that, do they?
The last BYU magazine included a paragraph about a guy on the Ballroom Dance team who's on tour in China when his wife has their first child--in Provo. That disturbs me, especially if the baby was born around its due date. Priorities!
Law students often get summer jobs away from the area of the law school, especially if they want to live in another part of the country after graduation. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to leave my family for a few months to do that. I know some people do. I'm sure some circumstances make it necessary, but it seems to me that something like that should be a last resort.
Do we want to normalize being married but living separately? Is that what we want to turn marriage into? How much of a strain is it on a marriage?
Any other examples of married couples living apart for valid (or invalid) reasons?
Will this ever become something the church will address directly?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What Obama as President means

In a little over two months, Obama will become president.
A historic moment, to be sure. The first black president. The first minority president period. That Americans voted for a black president is a good sign indeed. There may be some racist hold-outs (only three areas voted more for Kerry in 2004 than for Obama in 2008--Arizona, because of McCain, Alaska, because of Palin, and then this huge monster area in the deep South...) (Utah, by the way, gave Obama more votes than any other Democratic presidential candidate in a long time).
But racism, at least towards blacks, is not as big of an issue as it was even thirty or forty years ago.
Obama's presidency isn't just a sign of America overcoming racism.
Consider this--a guy with a Muslim father and the middle name of Hussein (repeated endlessly by schlobs on talk radio, like it was his first name or something...)
Seven years ago, 9/11. But Americans (well, most of them) are smart enough to realize that Obama, despite his Muslim middle name and his Muslim father, is in no way connected to that horrible incident. When we think of 9/11 we don't think "Muslim." We think "terrorist." That shows some maturity.
Obama's presidency is also proof that you don't have to come from a rich or powerful or political family to become president. You don't have to marry into money. You don't have to have fame and fortune from an acting career. You can be president even if you're not McCain or Romney, Bush or Clinton, Clinton or Bush, Gore or...well, you get the idea.
A kid who's parents never envisioned him as president--if they had, do you really think they would have named him Barack Hussein?--if a kid like that can grow up and become president, what else is possible? And that--that's what America's all about.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I wonder what the National Socialist Movement thinks when people call Obama a socialist.
I'm not going to link to them here, but I'll give you a hint--
They're Nazis.
I get the feeling that someone hasn't quite defined "socialist" properly.

Law School and Torture

Last week, three lawyers came to the school to speak about their experiences with Guantanamo Bay. One, a partner in a large private law firm, had done pro bono work for a group of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Another is president of a nonprofit legal organization that represented some of these detainees. Both of these men were involved in recent Supreme Court decisions--decisions by a conservative Supreme Court that sided against the Bush administration.
The third lawyer on the panel is an Air Force reservist. She was appointed as military defense counsel for a British resident in Guantanamo.
As you can imagine, it was quite fascinating.
Does the Constitution apply to Guantanamo Bay? It's technically owned by Cuba (wait a second...isn't Cuba, like, our enemy?) The US controls it. The Bush administration hoped to have a place controlled by the US where the Constitution didn't apply.
Are "enemy combatants" prisoners of war? The Bush administration prefers "enemy combatants" because there are rules for treating prisoners of war (in other words, you have to treat them decently--no torture allowed).
Is waterboarding torture? We sure thought so during WWII...
Is information gained by torture something that can be used in court--even when it's probably fake information?
Does a court need to be unbiased?
A number of military lawyers in charge of defending these prisoners have resigned in disgust--including the man put in charge of the defense. They felt the trials were a sham. The military lawyer on the panel agreed--but she still wanted to help her client, and she's stayed on.
It's clear that the Bush administration abused (and is still abusing) their power there. There are bad guys there, but there are also innocent people, who, if now released into the US, may prove a threat to the US because we've held and tortured them for the last seven years--and so they don't have the kindest feelings towards us.
The two-and-a-half-hour presentation was extremely interesting. You can find it here.
In any case, even if you're not an Obama fan, you can be grateful the Bush legacy of torture and false imprisonment will soon end.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Classy speech by McCain last night. And I really do mean that. Go find it in your preferred on-line news source.
Also check out Robert Kirby (once quoted in General Conference) and his advice for the soon-to-be-president:
Open letter to our new president-elect.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I want to list some things I'm grateful for.
First, though, for those of you who read the "Why it's OK to vote for McCain link," please understand the author is being funny. It's not a serious post. Its main point is not to attack McCain, but to make fun of LDS Republicans who can see nothing bad in their candidate and nothing good in the other candidate. It shows how ridiculous that stance is by attacking the candidate LDS Republicans prefer. If you didn't get the humor, and were offended by it, you're not alone. But realize that when Mormons attack Obama in a similar manner, it looks just as ridiculous. Again, though, it was meant as a joke. So please don't take it too seriously. Unless, of course, you believe McCain is an incredibly good man and Obama's the anti-Christ.
On a more important note:
I'm grateful for a supportive wive. She works long hours, she's pregnant, and yet she's still a happy person. I'm glad that I can talk to her about my political views, but I'm also glad that she decides on her own who she wants to vote for (whoever that might be). I'm pretty sure she'll join me in the vote against loan sharks and the vote against a casino. I don't think she's made a decision on the other stuff. It may very well be that she cancels out my votes. And that's fine. She's a fantastic woman and the best thing that ever happened to me.
I'm glad for a mother and a mother-in-law that still accept me even though I--gasp--voted for Obama (voting-by-mail is awesome). My mom doesn't read my blog, and I can just imagine the long grapevine that information took before it got to here. But, even though my mom gets her news from talk radio, and even though she's seriously worried that my dad will lose his job if Obama wins, she still accepts me.
I'm grateful for signs of Democrats at church--an Obama hat and a Clinton bumper-sticker. Evidence that the church can be politically diverse.
More importantly, I'm grateful for a ward that has rich and poor, black and white, young and old, educated and not-educated, single and married. It got split about a year ago, to the dismay of the long-term members, but it's been good for the ward. It's forced people out of their comfort zones, and yesterday the small chapel was pretty much filled.
I'm grateful for supportive friends, even if the vast majority are over 1500 miles away.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Life in a swing state

Obama is coming to my university two days before the election!
Unfortunately, like the other first-class act of Heart/Journey, he's coming on a Sunday. So I won't be going.
Yes, he campaigns on Sunday. I know some people may be offended by that.
Just keep in mind that the other political rock star, the one that belongs to the religious right, will also be campaigning in the Cincinnati area on Sunday.
I guess they both really want my vote.
For those of you living in South and West Jordan, please consider voting against Buttars. He sponsored an unconstitutional bill that would have made my life as a Utah science teacher miserable, and it would have cost Utah taxpayers a lot of money to defend in the courts. Fortunately, Huntsman threatened to veto it, and the bill died. Please don't vote for him. You deserve someone better.
And if you live in Utah, consider voting 3rd party. We all know McCain will take Utah. Even his home state of Arizona isn't guaranteed for him...but Utah is. So consider the many other possibilities, from Nader to Barr to Keynes.

Also of interest, an interview with Democrat Elder Jensen (Presidency of the 70), from 10 years ago. Church officials sent him to do the interview. Jensen says:

-- The LDS Church's reputation as a one-party monolith is damaging in the long run because of the seesaw fortunes of the national political parties.

-- The overwhelming Republican bent of LDS members in Utah and the Intermountain West undermines the checks-and-balances principle of democratic government.

-- Any notion that it is impossible to be a Democrat and a good Mormon is wrongheaded and should be "obliterated."

-- Faithful LDS members have a moral obligation to actively participate in politics and civic affairs, a duty many have neglected.

Read about it here.