Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ranked #5

University of Cincinnati's football team is ranked 5th in the nation. After BYU's big loss (a loss to TCU would've been okay, but an overwhelming defeat is not), it's good to have a more successful team to root for. They just beat Louisville 41 to 10 (ouch, Brent--sorry about that).
The funny thing is that everyone around here is an Ohio State fan. We live less than 5 miles from the University of Cincinnati, yet our neighbors put up Ohio State flags and cheer for Ohio State instead of the local team. Only this year, Cincinnati's the better team.
So I'm rooting for all the MWC teams (and hope they prove again that the BCS system is crap) and I'm rooting for my current school's team. It's the first time in over 50 years that they've been ranked above Ohio State, and that's definitely something to cheer about.

This guy has class

Some of you may disagree with me, but I can't imagine getting all of the abuse from fellow church members that Harry Reid has gotten, and still keeping my cool.
The church is pretty specific about there being good in both political parties, etc., and I know of General Authorities that adhere to both parties.
But keeping your cool when fellow church members tell you that, because of your politics, you can't be a good member (or a member at all)--wow. I have to admit, I don't keep calm--but Reid sets a great example for me.
Here's an article about how he deals with it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Science Music Videos

These music videos give me chills every time I watch them. Yes, I'm still a science nerd. But the wonders of the universe combined with catchy music is too cool to not pass on to you.
Science needs more people like Carl Sagan and Bill Nye. Science needs warm, well-spoken spokespeople. The anti-scientists have plenty of popular spokespeople, and science needs to take time out from all that intensive research, and show the public, in a non-threatening manner, what all that research is about.
Meanwhile, I'm waiting and watching for another series like Cosmos.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Church's take on freedom of religion is politically liberal

Elder Oaks, in 1992, stood before part of Congress as a representative of the LDS church and said, "we would prefer that the Supreme Court reverse the Smith case and restore the full constitutional dimensions of the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion." The link is here (scroll halfway down for the specific article).
I'm oversimplifying, but the Smith case was basically about whether members of a religious group could engage in religious ceremonies that involved peyote (an illegal drug). The majority ruled against the religious group, and thus against the freedom of religion.
What's most interesting here (besides the fact that the LDS church wants these people to be able to use peyote for religious purposes) is that those who voted for religious freedom were liberals, while those who voted to restrict religious freedoms were conservatives.
In other words, the LDS church, when dealing with religious freedoms, is decidedly politically liberal.
Scalia, Rehnquist, White, Stevens, Kennedy, and O'Connor all voted to restrict religious freedoms. Scalia, Kennedy, and O'Connor are all conservatives, placed on the Supreme Court by Reagan. Stevens was appointed by Ford (a Republican) and is usually seen as liberal (although sometimes, like here, he doesn't vote that way). I don't know much about White, but from what I can tell he was neither conservative nor liberal.
The dissenters--those who agreed with Elder Oaks and the LDS church--were all liberal. They include Blackmun, Brennan, and Marshall. Marshall was a liberal, put in by Johnson. Blackmun, put in place by Nixon, started conservative but became quite liberal (and was firmly liberal when the Smith case came along). Brennan was the leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, placed there by Eisenhower.

It's obvious that both political parties have good parts, and both have bad parts. The church keeps repeating this, but I'm not sure it's getting through to the majority of the members. It's clear, however, that the liberals on the Supreme Court are more interested in protecting our religious freedoms than the conservatives.

Friday, October 16, 2009

TV shows

A while back I posted on shows on Hulu. I've recently watched a little bit of three more shows:
1. Bones: OK. Reconstructing dead people is OK, I guess, but it kind of gets old after the second or third time. Decent show, but not worth my time.
2. Fringe. I had high hopes for this one, but it's all pseudo-science and no science. X-Files had the rational Scully to contrast with Mulder. Fringe is all Mulder, and somehow he's always right. The plot's interesting, but I can't suspend my disbelief when every single crackpot idea they come up with ends up working.
3. Fast Forward. So far, I like it. Science fiction, pulling two actors from Lost and one from Firefly, with a cool idea and decent characters. We'll see if the characters develop as time goes on. I'll keep watching this one.

I'm also watching Heroes. (I've found myself caring about a couple of the characters, even if the show has dropped a bit in quality. And I figure that Lost had its poor moments, but managed to recover, so maybe Heroes will too).
Looking forward to the last season of Lost.
Want to watch Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, but I'm not willing to pay money for it, so that one might have to wait until Hulu offers the first season, or until I can get my hands on it some other way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What your car says about you

An interesting study about what your car says about you. Essentially, Honda and Toyota owners have a much better chance of having a college degree than Ford or Chevy owners.
I haven't looked at car reliability statistics for years, but when I did, Toyota and Honda were significantly more reliable than Ford and Chevy. When we finally have money to afford another car, I imagine we'll get a Toyota or a Honda to replace our Geo Prism (another car with a good reputation, but no longer being made).
What do you think--why don't Ford and Chevy owners have college degrees while Toyota and Honda owners do?
Also, as a side-note, apparently the founder of the company that did the study has a PhD from BYU.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

By degrees

We're blessed to live in a country that offers us some protections. The poor can get food, shelter, and healthcare. Not quite up to European standards (and our standard of living isn't quite as high as, say, Norway's), but not too bad.
But the way these systems work can create problems.
For example, let's say your family can get Medicaid if you make $16,000 or less a year. If you make $16,001, you can't get Medicaid. Now, Medicaid is worth a lot more than one dollar. So, really, you get more benefits if you work just a little bit less. With the price of health insurance these days, those benefits can be quite significant.
An intelligent government healthcare plan would, like Medicaid, be based on the poverty line. But it would change by degrees. If you make less than 80% of the poverty line, you'd get Medicaid for free. At 80%, you'd pay a small fee for Medicaid. That fee would increase slightly at 90% of the poverty level, and continue increasing slightly, depending on your income and family size, until you're paying for it at cost.
That way, no one gets a significantly better deal by working less, poor people have an incentive to work, and those who make just over 90% of the poverty level don't get screwed over (like they do now).
Of course, all of this would require some sort of government option--but the government option already exists. You just have to stop working to get it. And that's the problem.