Thursday, April 30, 2009

H1N1= Unnecessary Panic Attacks

This Porcine cutie seems to be mocking someone. Could it be us? --that is--US? (as in John Q. Public?) The WHO people have decided that "Swine Flu" is a misnomer that needs to be cleared up, since the Porcines aren't -- are NOT --implicated in this virus. H1N1 is now the correct name for the virus.

The media seem intent on creating hysteria. When the facts are: we AREN'T all going to die!!!
And as a matter of fact, this virus seems to be rather wimpy.
Making light of this so-called "Pandemic" seems entirely appropriate.
Here are some humorous views for your enjoyment:

There really ARE some very real issues that might demand more of our concern than the "swine flu"/ H1N1.
Don't you feel like you are being PLAYED by some kind of sleight of hand?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit

Little Amy Dorrit

Sunday evening I just happened upon a Masterpiece Theater production of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit on a PBS channel. As it turned out, it was the LAST of FIVE episodes. The other four episodes had aired on previous Sundays. Because I had missed out on the first four episodes, this final chapter of the story left me with many questions. So, on Monday, I searched online for the text of Dickens’ story so that I might find the answers to my questions. The complete text IS available to read online. ALL 70 CHAPTERS! A quick scan of the final chapters did not satisfy my need for details, but only produced MORE questions. BUT—happy day! The entire BBC production was still available to watch online. So, I spent much of Monday and Tuesday watching the first four episodes and the end again.

Although watching the whole thing was nice, since the production was very nicely done, I still ended up not really understanding all the intrigues. So, even after watching it through, I had to go find a synopsis to explain the mystery. As it turns out, the BBC production took some liberties with Dickens’ story, and altered the end a bit. Nevertheless, if you get a chance to watch it, I think you would enjoy it. It will be available online to watch until next Sunday, I think.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day and Happy Birthday

I guess it's "Earth Day."
More importantly, it's Audrey's birthday! Happy second birthday, Audrey!

As for Earth Day, Charles Osgood (a great guy) noticed yesterday that the sun is "dimming." Go to the following website and listen to his gentle (and brief) take on global warming.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Visigoths v. Athenians--the Visigoths Are Winning

The other day, I wondered aloud if BYU graduation was this week. I discovered today that it is. So the Y on the mountain will be lit up at night-- Always a stunning sight!

It will be 10 years ago in August that I graduated from BYU. The commencement speaker in 1999 was billionaire, Jon Hunstman, Sr., whose wife is the daughter of David B. Haight. As I recall it, Huntsman advocated charitable-giving and service in his address.

One year later, in 2000, Neil Postman was the August commencement speaker at BYU. I listened to his speech via the radio in my kitchen in Orem. Enviously, I lamented that I hadn’t had Postman as my commencement speaker. After all, I had read everything that Postman had ever published. And I, perhaps more than anyone sitting in the Marriot Center on the BYU campus, knew the heart and mind of Neil Postman. I had even read his “My Graduation Speech” several years earlier. I wondered if he would give the one I had read or if he had altered it for his BYU audience. ( It was essentially the same.)

Postman wrote his graduation speech before he was ever asked to give one. The reason he gave for composing an unasked for graduation speech was, “Having sat through two dozen or so graduation speeches [he was a professor at New York University], I have naturally wondered why they are so often so bad. … Here I try my hand at writing a graduation speech, and not merely to discover if I can conquer the form. This is precisely what I would like to say to young people if I had their attention for a few minutes.”

The essence of Postman’s graduation speech was a description of the characteristics of the ancient Athenians versus the Visigoths. It was not merely a recitation of history. The reason for telling the graduates about these people? “ . . . because, sooner than you know, you must align yourself with the spirit of one or the spirit of the other.” He hoped, of course, that the graduates would choose to become Athenians rather than Visigoths. Since Visigoths are polar opposites to Athenians, I have omitted what Postman said about Athenians, and instead give you what he said about Visigoths. I thought it might be useful to ask ourselves if we resemble Visigoths or their opposites:

To a Visigoth, the quest for knowledge is useless unless it can help you to earn money or to gain power over other people.

To a Visigoth, one word is as good as another, one sentence indistinguishable from another. A Visigoth's language aspires to nothing higher than the cliché.

The modern Visigoth cares very little about [tradition or social restraint]. The Visigoths think of themselves as the center of the universe. Tradition exists for their own convenience, good manners are an affectation and a burden, and history is merely what is in yesterday's newspaper.

A modern Visigoth is interested only in his own affairs and has no sense of the meaning of community.

To a Visigoth, there is no measure of artistic excellence except popularity. What catches the fancy of the multitude is good. No other standard is respected or even acknowledged by the Visigoth.

Now, it must be obvious what all of this has to do with you. Eventually, like the rest of us, you must be on one side or the other. You must be an Athenian or a Visigoth. Of course, it is much harder to be an Athenian, for you must learn how to be one, you must work at being one, whereas we are all, in a way, natural-born Visigoths. That is why there are so many more Visigoths than Athenians. I can wish for you no higher compliment than that in the future it will be reported that among your graduating class the Athenians mightily outnumbered the Visigoths.

Postman died slightly more than three years after his commencement address at BYU. I would like to commend whoever it was who recruited him to be the speaker. I hope the BYU graduates of 2000 have taken to heart Postman’s challenge. And I hope all of us who honor his memory are actively conquering the Visigoths that lurk in our own characters and actions.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hello? There IS a REAL World Out There--Trust Me!




Seriously. I don't want to offend anyone, but turn off the electronic devices already and go out and smell the fresh air, soak up some sunshine, look at the blue sky, the flowers, and into your loved ones' faces!!! The pseudo world you are living in online really does not care what you are doing every minute. Those silly and trivial quizes you compulsively take merely keep you from looking at yourself honestly (and how you are using your time). All you sad sad people who are glued to your devices are addicted. Turn them off NOW!
See you next week! LOL

Friday, April 3, 2009

Barking Dogs and Other Distractions

I am so glad that Conference time has come around again. It’s a time to get my bearings—check to see how far I may have drifted in the intervening 6 months. It’s so easy to get off course. That fraction of an inch off the mark today—an imperceptible deviation—may mean many miles off the mark in 6 months’ time.

Lately, I have thought of a 1984 Conference talk given by Bruce R. McConkie, of the Quorum of the Twelve, titled “The Caravan Moves On.” He began his talk with, “I propose some simple tests that all of us may take to determine if we are true to the faith….” He concluded his talk with:

Now, I have what every true disciple has. It is called the testimony of Jesus. In our day it includes the revealed knowledge that the earthly kingdom—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—will triumph. In this connection may I set before you this illustration:

The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.

Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.

Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!
The part about “barking dogs” has seemed an apt metaphor for the persecution of the Church and Church members recently, and has helped me to keep an optimistic perspective. It is true that “the earthly kingdom… will triumph.”

The “ravines, mud holes, steep grades to climb, storms, floods, deserts to cross,” etc. he mentioned are a perfect metaphor for the economic and other challenges of our day.

I think that part of the reason I enjoy Conference time so much is that I can actually see the Caravan and feel a sense of “moving on” with the Caravan. A short time after Conference, however, I have often struggled to maintain that feeling. I think that is because I have become distracted not only by life’s daily challenges, but also by trivial distractions (like internet stuff). Anything that distracts me from keeping my eye on “the celestial city” or maintaining my position in the caravan, is a distraction that serves Satan’s purposes.

As Michael Medved’s wife put it, referring to her feelings about certain “internet stuff”: ‘In fact, I’m finding it more and more irritating, a time-soaker that leaves me feeling slightly soiled, in need of a shower. … not only a colossal waste of time, but actually lowers me morally…. It’s about training your own soul away from the transcendent and the long-term, and toward physical here-and-now selfishness.’

The way she puts it, the “benign” distractions found on the internet may be worse and more dangerous than the barking dogs. She’s probably right