Saturday, August 21, 2010


The proposed mosque near what used to be World Trade Center has many names: the Cordoba House, Park 51, the Ground Zero mosque. Unfortunately, it has become embroiled in controversy because it lies two blocks from Ground Zero. First, some facts.

1. Islam is composed of many different groups that believe many different things, much like Christianity is composed of many different groups that believe many different things. Equating those planning the mosque to those who caused 9/11 would be like equating a group of violent fundamental Christians who want to kill everyone who doesn't agree with them with the Catholic church. Sure, they share some religious beliefs. But enormous differences set them apart. Same with the group that wants to build the mosque. They're not connected to the 9/11 terrorists. In fact, they're sworn enemies.

2. Two blocks is a large distance in the area around Ground Zero. A Greek Orthodox church, a synagogue, and two Catholic churches sit just one block from Ground Zero, along with literally hundreds of businesses. (Google Maps is a great resource to look at the area). It's a crowded, diverse place. A mosque would fit right in, and would be a great asset to the many Muslims in the area. Another mosque already sits four blocks from the site. Again, very crowded, very diverse.

3. Make no mistake--the controversy about this mosque is spawned by conservative news organizations and conservative politicians in order to gain votes for the upcoming election. It's fearmongering at it's most base. It's bullying of the worst kind. It's the same kind of scapegoating that led the Nazis to kill the Jews and gypsies and led the U.S. to throw thousands of Japanese into what were basically prison camps. It should have no place in the civilized world.

4. Most of the people in Manhattan want this mosque built. The majority of it will serve as a recreational area, open to all people.

5. Originally, opponents of the mosque tried to stop it with lawsuits (alleging that the building should be designated a historic building, etc.) Now that those lawsuits failed, those same people say "of course those people can build there, because of the freedoms of the First Amendment, but building there would be insensitive." So apparently they're acknowledging those original lawsuits were an attempt to subvert the First Amendment...

I understand that ignorant, racist, or xenophobic people could view the move as insensitive. I have yet to hear an argument against the mosque that isn't based in ignorance, racism, or xenophobia. If you can find one, please point it out to me.

Did I mention that I despise bullies? Most grownups outgrow the bullying phase in high school. Or so I thought. Sigh.

Current mood: sad.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Neil Peart's Impression of Logan and the Bluebird Restaurant

Those of you who like Logan and/or Rush should enjoy this. Especially those of you with fond memories of this restaurant.

Friday, August 13, 2010


It seems like recent months have brought an increase of negative public opinion towards certain minority groups. Hispanics and Muslims seem to be getting the majority of the negative attention at this point. Some politicians are more than willing to jump into the fray (attempting to pass laws that encourage racial profiling, using racist terms usually reserved for animals when referring to these people giving birth (i.e. "dropping babies"), and telling people where they should and shouldn't build their places of worship). Some of these politicians even changed their previous moderate sensibilities and became a part of that fray (I'm looking at you, McCain). Unfortunately for the LDS church, some of these politicians are LDS. Politicians, of course, are often more than happy to give up their personal convictions in order to increase their chances of winning an election.

So why this increase in negative public opinion? The U.S. is, after all, deporting many more illegal immigrants this year than it has in years past. Crime is down. The economy--

The economy is down. And because it's down, many people require a scapegoat. Apparently blaming Bush for starting it and Obama for continuing it/exacerbating it/starting it (depending on a person's political inclinations and/or levels of intelligence) isn't enough. And, of course, because the state of the economy is always someone else's fault, taking personal responsibility is out of the question.

I understand people are out of work and worried about their finances. I have close family members that have been out of work since the recession started. I'm praying that I'll be able to find work in a year, after I take the bar. But hard times are what led the Germans to begin scapegoating Jews and Gypsies after World War I. It's a dangerous path, one that history rightfully condemns. It leads to dark, dangerous places, and it should have no place among us.

May we have the strength to condemn it when it raises its ugly head.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I got home from work yesterday to find a For Sale sign in our front yard.
The house we've lived in for over two years is up for sale, and the landlord didn't even give us a heads up.

I looked up the listing online. It exaggerates (lies) about how much each of the two units in the house are renting for, claiming that we pay $45 more per month than we actually do, and listing the other unit as being $100 more per month than what it was advertised for a month ago, before new renters moved in. The selling price is probably fairly reasonable ($180K for a two-unit house in a fairly nice neighborhood, just a couple of miles from downtown). But I'm worried that someone's going to buy the house and either kick us out so they can live in our apartment, or (more likely) start charging us what the listing claims we're paying.

Any suggestions? Should I call the realtors and tell them the listing is wrong? Should I call the landlord out on the lie? Obviously, I may need to do some digging on landlord/tenant law.

Oh, and the listing also says this house is 97 years old. Wow.

Monday, August 02, 2010

No Royal Road to Geometry

Or biology. Or religion.

An LDS scientist discusses how silly it is to argue against certain disciplines without knowing anything about them. If you want to understand something, you have to put in the effort.

I've been guilty of the same thing (anytime I say anything about economics, for example). But we should learn to ignore those who make a habit of it.

Unfortunately, he doesn't allow comments, or you would see the principle in action. (The biggest anti-evolution LDS bloggers/commenters, for example, have absolutely no background in biology--not a terrible surprise; the biggest pro-evolution LDS bloggers do have biology degrees. Hmmm).

Some other LDS science blogs written by biologists: (life science researcher) (Professor of Biology/Evolution--only some of the posts are science) (Biology/Evolution Professor at BYU)

The "science" blogs written by people with no background in the science they discuss aren't worth mentioning, for the reasons stated in the "Royal Road" article above.