Sunday, December 31, 2006

Oppositional Logic Ruling Utah Communities

The reason for yesterday's post was that I had decided to explore some of the local podcasts. While chasing down locally produced videos, I stumbled onto a rather scary lecture from a Robert Millet to the Missionary Prep Club. Apparently this is a standard speech given to Mormon missionaries. (video).

I admit, I have been worried in recent years about the nonsensical issues that seem to be tearing our society apart. IMHO, this particular video highlights some of the issues that tear at the roots of Utah's culture.

I believe strongly in reading and supporting local literature and film. Since I live in Utah, that means reading about LDS history from multiple perspectives. Contrary to what my posts sound like, I do not hate Mormons. I believe that members of the LDS Church are people who authentically want to be good people. They joined the LDS Church because they were hoping that the LDS Church would provide a framework that allows them to be good people.

The thing that drives me batty in this state is that the foundational systems created by Smith and Young use awful, base, negative techniques which end up undermining both the LDS society and the other people who have the misfortune of living in LDS dominated areas.

Smith and Young were typical 19th century rogues with dreams of becoming kings and emperors—like Napoleon. In their little grub for power, they replicated a formula that has been around since antiquity. They divided their followers from the mainstream culture by promising worldly riches and sex in the present life, and the outlandish claim that their followers would become Gods—just like Jesus and the Heavenly Father—in the afterlife.

Smith cemented his power base by creating a division between his follower, who he calls the righteous, and the gentile. The righteous are saints on earth and will be Gods in heaven. The gentiles will be smited by a mean, terrible, evil, hate filled God.

With this in mind we enter Robert Millet's speech to the missionaries:

As Latter Day Saints you already know more about God and Christ and the plan of salvation than anyone who will attack you [...] you already know more than your attackers will ever know.

Millet starts by telling a group of 18 year-old boys that being part of the LDS church makes them superior to all others. This is a total ego feed to a demographic group with minds already filled with teenage know-it-all fantasies.

He then presents the oppositional logic at the roots of Mormonism by projecting that oppositional logic onto his enemies. Essentially repeating Joseph Smith's mantra that the gentiles are conspiring against the righteous!

It shouldn't be a shock to us that people oppose us [...]

In 1945 the Quorum of 12 Apostles issued a proclamation to all the world. [...] "As this work progresses in its onward course and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interests and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community or individual will stand neutral. All will at length will be influenced by one spirit or another and will take sides either for or against the Kingdom of God."

The real gem is the quote from the Quorum of Apostles (yes, Joseph Smith bought the loyalty of a group of people by naming them Apostles).

This quote from 1845 shows precisely the way that this oppositional logic works. If a power monger can successfully create a division between their followers and the world at large, that division might resonate throughout the culture at large.

The way you gain absolute power is by dividing your little group off from the community. You project your motives onto your opposition. If you are lucky, the division you created will provide opportunities to grab power and wealth.

Notice how many times in the lecture Millet reinforces his efforts to project oppositional logic onto his opponents. The important part of the training is that when you finally do get someone to respond to the bait and oppose the Mormon plan, you pounce. See how evil and effective this methodology is. You quietly sneak the oppositional logic into the debate. When your opponent calls you out, you can effectively project to the world the illusion that they are the source of the opposition.

We need to be surprised if we are opposed in this work.

Another Introductory Thought: The things of God can only be known in a real way by the power of the spirit of God. [..] The truthfulness of a matter is really only to be known by the quiet whisperings of the Holy Spirit, but how significant that thing is may often be known by the loud opposition that comes in response to it.

Millet also introduces another really nasty trick above. Truth is something that is whispered by a spirit only to Mormons. Truth is relative to the LDS hierarchy and gentiles cannot know the truth, as they are not in the hierarchy. Truth comes in quiet, all but imperceptible whispers. Both Millet and Joseph Smith reject the western tradition that finds observation and logic a pretty good path to truth.

The lecture jumps into a short interlude where he tries to claim that the LDS Church is singled out for persecution by citing cities that were opposed to building grand LDS Temples. If you know anything about modern city planning, every single proposal to build something in modern US cities gets inundated with opposition. This is especially true with a structure like an LDS Temple which is designed to dominate the land around the temple. If a Muslim group were to build a grand mosque in downtown Salt Lake (with people singing from the minaret, etc.) You can bet the plan would be nixed.

In an underhanded trick, Millet ignores the fact the fact that the opposition to temples is that they are constructed to dominate the land and the people around the temple. The typical temple is a big white shape tower. Towns in Utah generally have strict zoning codes which prevent land owners near the temple from building things that obstruct the view of the temple. I like the phraseology that Brigham Young uses to describe his efforts to create opposition by dotting towns with massive white eye soars:

Brother Brigham is reported to have said that every time we announce the building of a temple, all the bells in Hell begin to ring, and, oh, how I love to hear those bells.

The next part of Millet's claims the Book of Mormon is singled out for persecution. He first claims that all it is just a book.

Why would it be that the Book of Mormon receives such opposition from people? [...] Well, If I didn't already know by the quiet whisperings of the Holy Spirit to my soul that the BoM is another testament of Christ ... The same is true with the concept of "only true church". [...] If I did not already know by the whisperings of the Spirit to my soul that the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is in fact the kingdom of god on earth, that we hold the fullness of the gospel, that we hold the priesthood of almighty God. If I did not already know that in a quiet way, I might suspect that is the case by the kind of loud opposition that that very concept elicits from people.

After the claim that the BoM is just a book, he reverses himself and says that it is not just a book, it is a new testament from Jesus Christ.

Now, I really know of no opposition to the BoM as a book. It is the claim that the BoM is a testimony of Jesus Christ, and that the BoM imbues one group with special rights and privileges over all other people that gets people rankled. Millet obviously knows that because he says that. It is sickening.

The claim that Joseph Smith was to establish a Kingdom of God in the United States in the fledgling American Democracy is the type of thing that should rightly rankle American patriots who fought to establish a democracy.

Anyway, the data stream from BYU broke after the following quote, which I think is a fitting end to this post:

Then the prophet Joseph uttered this great principle : "The nearer a man approaches the Lord, the greater the power of the adversary will be manifest to thwart the accomplishment of God's purposes. So opposition will come with the turf."

The escalation of conflict with oppositional logic is a primary theme of Millet's speech and of the Book of Mormon. This makes me so terribly sad. Is the primary plan of Jesus Christ to create hatred and opposition so that we hate and kill each other?

I really don't think so.

For that matter, I think very few members of the LDS Church really understand the full implications of the mean, nasty, manipulative side of their Church. It seems to me that Mormons are trying their hardest to be good people, but they keep finding their efforts undermined by the quiet whisperings that undermine both their efforts and the community around them by creating a climate of opposition and conflict.

Friday, December 29, 2006

All About Mormonism

While looking through a directory about Provo, Utah, I stumbled onto a site called Since I make directories for towns in the Mountain West, I decided to look and see if the site was a fit from the Provo, Utah dot US. I could not find a contact page, and the Domain Registry information indicates that the site is from Washington. Since the site did not have contact or registration information supporting the claim that it is from Provo, I decided against listing the site in the directory.

This decision was troublesome because the site made the accusation that Mormon sites get the shaft from folks like me (I am not LDS). On the Anti-Mormons page, the site put forward the complaint that anti-Mormon web sites rarely have a link pasted prominently on the masthead of the site. The complaint is that a web site is not objective unless it cites the LDS church as the primary authority on Mormonism, as if there really are any organizations that hold objective views of themselves.

On the issue of linking, the LDS Church sued anti-mormon sites for deep linking (Note despite having been sued, the Utah Lighthouse Ministry seems to have a link to

Quite frankly, very few people link to sites with opposing views. For that matter, it is rare for people to link to sites that try to present multiple sides of any issue. People want to link to resources that confirm their world view. Sadly, people often want to misrepresent the views of their enemies.

A second accusation from is that non-Mormon sites rarely objective and fail to report the whole story. Interestingly, the Anti-Mormon quotes page takes many quotes out of context to try in an attempt to make it appear as if Mormonism is the subject of unjust persecution. Predictably, the list leads off with the "extermination order" issued by Missouri Governor Boggs. When you look at the history of the LDS in Missouri, you find a very complex situation: Gov. Boggs wanted Missouri to be a slave state and was worried that groups sympathetic to abolition would settle in the state and disrupt the plan. Meanwhile, Joseph Smith wanted the Mormons to settle in lands that were being claimed by other people. In this climate of sharp divide over slavery and of massive land grabbing, things got tense.

In this tense climate, Sidney Rigdon, the leader of the Missouri colony, called the Mormons to enter into a War of Extermination against others with claims on the area Joseph Smith claimed was Eden. Boggs' "Extermination Order" came in response to the call for an "Extermination War".

I do not like the slave owning bastard named Lucien Boggs. However, I think the massive effort thrown into reporting the "extermination order" came after calls for an "extermination war", provides an incomplete, subjective view of the times.

Pro-LDS sites love to point out that 60 Mormons were killed as the result of this exchange of an Extermination War and Order. There were also gentiles killed in the war. No-one gives a crap about them. On May 6, 1842, Governor Boggs was shot by an unknown assailant. It is romored that the assailant was Porter Rockwell under order from Joseph Smith. Of course this is just a rumor. A bit like the rumor that OJ killed Nicole.

The harsh divisional rhetoric employed by both the Mormons and the slave owners of Missouri during the pioneer land grab of the 1830s led to horrible incidences of people killing each other. Really bad stuff. It seems to me that an "objective" look at the extermination war / extermination order and assassination attempt would find the situation complex. The fact that the one-sided view pops up left and right tells me something is not quite right.

That something that is not quite right leads into the second reason for today's post. It seems to me that Mormonism is one of the most intense religions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Letters From A Broad makes an insightful comment. She states:

My LDS friend and I talked about what we had heard, and we agreed without hesitation that if the church were not true, the most logical alternative would be atheism.

This quote creates a itch that needs scratching. I keep coming across exmos with stories of bad things happening to them while in the LDS Church. When reality shatters their belief that LDS church is absolutely right, they then jump to the other extreme in believing that it and all religions are absolutely wrong.

It seems to me that exmormons have a tendency to jump from the extreme of absolute certainty in their beliefs to atheism.

This is interesting in contrast to an observation made by sociologist Rodney Stark. Stark's work on the growth of Mormonism indicates that Mormon Missionaries have their greatest success in converting people who grew up in a non-religious environment.

What seems to happen is that people who are in an extremely intense religion jump to atheism when they start questioning the actions of their church. People from non-religious backgrounds jump to the most intense religion they can find when they decide that their non-religious life was unfulfilling.

Anyway, reading the site aLetterFromABroad and AllAboutMormons has me thinking of the forces that tear societies apart. First is seems that when you have groups promoting extreme belief systems, you create a society where people start toggling between the extremes. In such environments, rhetoric and intentional misquoting of one's opponents often leads to escalation of the extremes. The challenge for a civil society is in finding ways to temper the extremes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Punishment for Aiding the Sick is Death!

This is a bizarre story. Apparently, in 1998, 400 plus children at the Al Fateh Children's hospital in Benghazi, Lybia became infected with AIDs. Lybia had a trial and has sentenced one Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses to death for the outbreak. These doctors and nurses are now known as the Tripoli 6.

So the question is, when something really bad happens, what do we do?

The families affected by the disease are overcome with emotion. A common emotion after a tragedy is the demand for justice. The knee-jerk reaction of sentencing the doctor and nurses to death is understandable when we look at the case soley from the victim's point of view. This view says: "I suffered; therefore those suffer!"

The International community views this and sees a different beast. They see the fault lying with the bad sanitary conditions and practices of the hospital. Should nurses, who are willing to work abroad in poor sanitary conditions, be punished for the results of those poor sanitary conditions? The reflexive paradox kicks in here. If you punish people willing to work with the poor in poor conditions, you end up destroying the path to better conditions.

The case also shows the idiocies of conspiracy theories. Khadaffi, the progressive leader of Lybia, had decided that a disease of the decadant west could not exist in his moral, progressive society. 400 children getting sick could not be the result of poor hygiene in a Lybian hospital. Therefore, the contamination must be part of a plot by the CIA and Zionists. Early in the case, Khadaffi's claimed that the CIA infected the children with a genetically modified strain of HIV. Such conspiracies play well in the Arab media.

Jeff Weintraub sites a number of references which seem to indicate that the children were affected by more than just HIV. Some of the children have different strains of HIV. Possibly some were infected before entering the hospital. (Hmmm, if one of the patients was the primary vector for the disease; shouldn't that patient, if still living, be included in the group being executed for the contamination?)

A growing portion of the Arab media seems to be on the side of the doctors.

The Bulgarian News Agency has a informative report on the case. (The english version is currently missing the frameset). Judith has a good piece on the problem in the WSJ Opinion Journal.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Micro Loans v. PayDay Loans

My last post pointed out how Progressives want us to hate PayDay Lenders. What is funny is that change minded individuals have started to embrace and idea called micro-loans. In the 1990s, the United Nations finally came to grips with the fact that the big loans made to third world governments and to big businesses wanting to exploit resources in the third world made things worse for the people living in the third world. The United Nations and World Bank had made gigantic loans to governments on projects that effectively displaced the people they claimed to be helping. The big loans ended up feeding corruption, increasing the gap between the rich and poor. Even worse, the big loans saddled future generations with onerous debts.

Conversely, entrepreneurs and well meaning NGOs found out that making small loans to small community minded businesses end up having a very profound positive effect. Best yet, a lower percentage of the microloans go into default than the big loans from big banks with big government consent and security.

The United Nations is now ringing the bells of MicroCredit. They even declare 2005 as the Year of Microcredit. Much of the worldwide economic boom of the last 6 years is a direct result of the explosion of microcredit.

As with all things, MicroCredit is likely to be overdone. The first microcredit loans by Grameen Bank came from a good lender to good borrowers. This universal declaration of the goodness of Microloans is likely to attract sharks wanting to lend at absurd rates to subprime borrowers.

It is interesting that local progressives are systematically slamming all the doors that provide credit to the poor in our local communities in the United States, while progressives on the international scene have figured out that George Bailey (It's A Wonderful Life reference) style banks working within a community to help it thrive lead to true, sustainable progress.

Pay Day Loans are the Result of Progressive Regulation

I just read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune (The Tribune's policy is to break all inbound links after 90 days: Easy Money With Strings Attached.)

The article does a good job pointing out the idiocies of progressive government. The article begins by deriding the excessive interest rates of PayDay loans companies. I happen to agree. PayDay Loan rates border on the ludicrous. The loans are for small amounts, and a short duration. The loaner charges a lending fee, as opposed to interest (like bonds). That fee might be something like $8 to borrow $100 for two weeks. This is an outrageous interest rate! PayDay Loan companies often provide check cashing services along with the loans. If a person is unable to pay their loan in 14 days, they have to borrow again. In just 13 cycles (182 days) the fees on the loan have exceded the amount of the loan.

I agree with this part of the article. PayDay Loan companies are a big rip off. I would never do business with one. I strongly advise people to avoid such institutions; if they can.

These Check Cashing / Pay Day loan companies exist because there is a growing segment of the population that is underserved by traditional banks. A personal with marginal finances will end up paying more in the way of fines and fees if they tried using traditional banks.

It is after making the case that PayDay Loan companies are bad for consumers that we get into the idiocy of Progressive politics. After making the case that payday loans are bad for consumer, the article presents the progressive solution to the problem: Limit the number of companies that make PayDay loans!

The progressive solution to usery in the subprime lending industry is to prevent new competition from entering into the industry.

A person with even a little bit of common sense (which excludes all Progressives) would realize that preventing people from entering the field of subprime lending industry has the effect of eliminating compentition...which will keep the interest rates ridiculously high.

I do not like the PayDay lending scheme.

Rather than playing the game of calling the people in the industry evil, I want to first look at the reason why people use these companies. The primary reason that people use subprime lenders is that they are underserved by main stream banks.

The next question I ask is why there are no banks ready to serve these people?

The answer here is simple: The regulations of the banking industry have raised the bar of entry so high that it is now impossible for small investors to get together to create a new bank that serves this underserved population.

In many ways, the evils of the PayDay Loan industry come directly from past efforts to regulate the industy and the ways the loans are defined. For example, the loans are designed for a two week period. Imagine that you just got a new job. Your first paycheck will come in one month (30 days). You need $100 to buy a new outfit for the job. Since you check will not show up for 30 days, you will need to run your payday loan through 3 cycles ... incurring a $24 fee.

The payday loan is a very good deal when you have the specific need of a one time loan for exactly 14 days. The loans are a bad deal when your needs differ from that tight definition.

Does the above argument make sense? A person with marginal finances needs a great deal of flexibility from their lenders. Extremely tight regulations often have the effect of eliminating that flexibility. Since the regulations prevent the person in need from getting the loan that best fits their needs, they end up getting the wrong loan ... and it costs them big bucks.

The financially maginal groups in this world need greater flexibility in their lending than is provided by our hyper-regulated banking system can provide. Limiting the number of banks serving the low income (as Progressive suggest) will only worsen the problem.

The article does point a few good solutions. One of the big problems with the PayDay Loan program is that borrowers will often make multiple loans from different companies. A person needing more money than is allowed by the regulated cap on payday loans is apt to run from store to store until they've borrowed the money that they need. This game increases the fees that they will pay, and increases the risk of default.

Some states require lenders to record the loans in a common database.

It's the Christmas season, which means reruns of It's a Wonderful Life. This Christmas classic was recorded in the days of black and white, when it was still possible for George Baileys of the world to make a difference in their community. Unfortunately, the snearing Progressives of the world have choked our society with so much regulation that there is no longer a place for George Baileys who would go out of their way to help the marginal in our society with finances.

Speaking of snearing progressives. Did you note how Lesley Mitchell went out of her way to point out that the owner of one of the PayDayLoan companies was a Republican?

Yes, a large number of businessmen in industries being battered by progressive politics become republicans. Of course, Ms. Mitchell is playing a different game. We are supposed to hate PayDay Loan companies for using the poor by lending them money (when no-one-else will). We are supposed to come away from the article hating the companies and above all hating the evil-Republican companies that try to serve the underserved. Personally, I've gotten to the point in life that I like the businessman who is trying to serve the public more than the progressive critic.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Preserving Main Street

I love the traditional American Main Street lined with independent shops hawking their independent versions of the American dream.

Conversely, I dislike the sprawling soulless American suburbs with cookie cutter strip malls and box stores.

Needless to say, I’ve been greatly disappointed to see that the majority of growth that has occurred during my lifespan has happened in the suburbs. In most cases, the downtowns that I loved as a youth are less than they were when I was born.

The sprawling suburbs have consumed a large portion of the farmland and open space that excite the imagination and charge the soul.

For that matter, one of the primary reasons that I’ve wasted time creating community directories has been an interest in finding ways to preserve the great traditional cultural centers of America that I strongly believe are important to the American psyche.

Anyway, while surfing through the net today, I happened on two interesting sites. The first is the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) from Bozeman, Montana. This organization proclaims the importance of supporting local independent businesses. (Something that my little directories do, and do quite well).

I digging through the various AMIBA sites, I found that many were intensely involved in efforts to preserve traditional main streets such as the Colorado Preservation Council.

My brain began juxtaposing two ideas: Supporting independent businesses and preserving Main Street.

It finally dawned on me what was wrong. The two ideas are oppositional.

Traditionally, Main Street has been the most dynamic, happening and changing place in a city. The reason that people used to flock to Main Street was because it was the happening place that was constantly changing. People used to flock to Main Street to see what was new, innovative and exciting.

The precipitous decline in Main Street began when preservationist councils and aggressive zoning boards started the process of hyper regulation of growth in downtown. Sadly, in most cases, the goal of the zoning board is to preserve the market share of a few powerful players in a city. While zoning boards have proven incapable of attracting business and people to an area, they are extremely adept at shielding powerful concerns in a city from competition.

The goal of preservation councils is generally to stop growth and preserve the character of an area as it existed at some point in the past. The goal of the preservationist is simply soak the town in bureaucratic formaldehyde; so that the downtown will never change. The fact that such sterile environments are neither conducive to the growth of business or to the public at large does not matter.

The traditional American Main Street is not simply an architectural style that existed at a given period of time. Main Street is a process of continual change. If Main Street is first and foremost a process of change, then the very cry to preserve Main Street is an oxymoron. How do you preserve an entity when change is the central to the nature of the entity?

If we really want to renew our downtowns, we need to find ways to reignite the process of continual renewal that defined the traditional Main Streets. We need to get back to the world where we see Main as a center of innovation, growth and improvement, and not as an ideal that existed in the past, that has been lost.

To preserve the dynamic character of downtown, we need to break from the modern mind set that values preserving old buildings to one that preserves the beating heart of Main. That living, beating heart demands continual growth and change.

The Planning commissions are not the ally of small business. Planning and preservation committees are the primary enemy of growth and small business.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why We Are Losing

I put this answer on an article on Tom I liked the way it sounded so I expanded and am repeating it here:

I think people are supportive of the troops in Iraq, but are upset that we did not have sufficient deliberation before the invasion. Our justification for the invasion was that Hussein was not decreasing his stock piles of WMDs fast enough. That is a weak justification for the violence that ensued. There is also the question of whether or not Iraq was the best target. Personally, I think stopping the genocide in Sudan would have been a better move. There are arguments that Iran was a greater threat to world stability than Iraq. The energy wasted in Iraq would have been better spent trying to counter Iran.

Americans hate the fact that we aren't on the moral high ground with the invasion.

Because we did not go through a sufficient process of deliberation, we ended up leaving our political flanks open, and the left was able to attack with a vengeance.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

P-C News Update

Arch conservative John Bolton is using his last days as U.N. Ambassador to counter growing demands for genocide of Israelis from radical Islam.

Meanwhile progressives are inching closer to the proclamation that genocide is good. An Aussie scientist wants to start involuntary sterilization programs and hints at the need to let middle aged and elderly people die in a timely manner.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

An Afternoon Spent Witch Hunting

I watched the Da Vinci Code DVD last week. The videography was great. Unfortunately, the good videography could not overcome the mediocrity of the book.

In this work, Dan Brown makes the accusation that witch hunting is a primary tenet of Christianity. He even points to a book called the Malleus Maleficarum with the claim that Christians, following Constantine, used the Malleus Maleficarum in a massive persecution of pagans of the ancient world. I reject the Malleus Maleficarum led to the ascendency of Christianity in Europe. The Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1486, a full millennia after Constantine.

1486 is toward the end of the Italian Renaissance and near the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. It seems to me that the Malleus Maleficarum was part of the effort to rid a Christian Europe of the superstitions that had calcified society during the "dark ages." It does not fit in an explanation of why Christianity won out over Roman and Greek paganism.

The fact that some people were caught by the lure of witch hunting in Renaissance Europe does bring up the question of the role that witch hunting plays in the Christian world. Christian Europe seems to have a very interesting pattern. There would be a fury of interest in witch hunting, followed by a widespread condemnation of the witch hunters. The lack of sustained interest in witch hunting leads me to believe that witch hunting is a central theme of Christianity.

I read a little bit about the Malleus Maleficarum. I found it interesting that the work makes multiple references to witch hunting in Rome. A central theme of the work is that if Christian Europe is to be great like Rome, Christians much persecute its witches ... like Rome. This is typical Renaissance literature.

Multiple references to witch hunting in Rome made me start thinking that witch-hunting is not unique to Christianity. Research on witch-hunting in Christianity must compare the witch hunting incidents in Christiandom to those of other cultures.

In this regard, I was intrigued with a podcast that showed up in National Geographic podcast list called the Witches of Ghana. This video shows the plight of a woman accused of witchcraft then banished to the witch town of Gnani. I have always associated the term witch hunting with Christians run amok. However, it makes sense that culture that seriously believe in witchcraft would resort to persecuting people accused of black magic.

I suspect that quality research would end up finding that witch hunting is more common in societies that actually believe in the practice of witchcraft.

Perhaps it is because witch-hunting is out of character of the Christian tradition that we have a more detailed account of the abuses of witch hunters than societies that believe in witchcraft. In the modern world the accusation of being a witch hunter has more of a stigma than the accusation that a person is a witch.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Glorification of Crimes

One of the primary reasons that I am against the death penalty is that the death penalty all but begs for politicizing the enforcement of law. Michelle Malkin has been reporting on the glorification of American murderers in France. On the right, you find people campaigning for the death penalty. The William Andrews case is a good example. Andrews was the accomplice in a horrible murder, he left the room right before the murders. Andrews had a viable case that he was bullied by his friend Selby into committing the murders. Executing Andrews was a borderline decision.

The primary reason Andrews was executed was because the family of the victims spent years actively campaigning for the execution. I do feel for the family. I hope that the closure of the execution brought them some comfort.

Andrews was not local, and he was black. This meant that there was not a local political base to campaign for a stay of execution. Andrew was a horrible person who enabled a terrible crime spree. His case, however, was borderline. The combination of a pro-execution campaign with no balancing counter-execution campaign tipped the scales.

The reason I turned against the death penalty during this execution was the observation that political campaigns for or against a criminal determines the life or death of the prisoner.

The international glorification of murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal shows the opposite side of this coin. In the political campaign for staying the execution of this cop-killer, the left has turned Mumia Abu-Jamal into a cultural icon. He is a revolutionary hero who kills policemen for social justice.

Michelle Malkin is right to point out that this campaign to glorify Mumia Abu-Jamal is a prime example of the extent to which the left is willing to undermine society the grub for power; however, we are faced with the problem that the death penalty creates a venue for such political moves.

Despite the fact that the death penalty gives solace to the families of the victims, the high road is to take the issue off the table.

This situation, where every border line death penalty case turns into a political campaign, will always tear our society apart and simply results in unnecessary damage the families of the victims involved in crimes. In cases where the political campaign stays the execution, the victim's family is left wondering why their loved one was not important enough to receive justice. In the cases where the execution occurs, the families and supporters of the murderer will fall into the belief that they are unjustly persecuted. In too many cases, the death penalty seems to magnify the horror of the crime. Too often it results in glorifying the murderers.

Yes, the progressives of the world are a sickening lot. They advocate creating and destroying millions of innocent lives in laboratories for experimental purposes, then go ballistic at the idea of executing guilty people.

In such a politically charged environment, it is always best to take the high road. Taking execution off the tables is costly, but it saves our society the damage done for and against the execution of prisoners.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mozy on over

I decided to try out the Mozy backup service. This service will backup files onto a remote server which happens to be in Provo.

Using the internet for backups is a very good idea. A good backup system stores the data in a remote location. If something bad happens at your home, it could affect both your computer and your backup disks.

What I've done in the past is to zip and encrypt files, then save the file at my webhost. Webhosts are notoriously insecure places. This system makes me entirely dependent on the compression of the zip file and my ability to keep my password secret. BTW, I also save a zipped copy of my websites on my home computer. For that matter, I've had to restore my web site twice already. The Mozy system is a lot easier to use than my kluged system of zipped files.

The only big downside to the Mozy program is that sending a backup over DSL takes a long time. My one suggestion for people using the service is to do a small backup first. After backing up some data, you should make sure you can retrieve the files you backed up.

This Mozy system was a lot cleaner than any of the tape backup systems that I've used in the past. The program gives 2GB of storage for free. You then pay modest amounts for additional backup space. The referral program is cool. I get 250MB additional backup space for recommending the service. Since backing up data is an important thing for people to do; I am more than happy to recommend it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Political Process of UN Nominations

While I wait for customer support, I thought I should expand my post on the Bolton shafting.

I don't think that Bolton is some type of saviour who has a magical formula to turn the United Nations back to the classical liberal roots that it abandonned. He is just a gruff outsider who is both patriotic and has been vocal in pointing U.N. abuses. The months he spent as a presidential appointee shows that he garners the respect the US needs if it is to support reform.

The divisive games that democrats make by shafting nominees in commission seriously undermines the credibility of the United States. The problem is not that Bolton was the best man, but the political games played by the Democrats almost always results in a situation where either a lesser candidate wins the nomination, or that the process ends up undermining the effectiveness of the nominee.

Bolton's months of service have shown that he was not the loose cannon we initially feared. He was showing that he was the extremely forthright and upstanding ambassador that Bolton's supporters claimed that he was. The Democrats who undermined Bolton's nomination in committee undermined the ability of our nation to affect UN reform.

The result is that the United Nations might become an extraordinarily strong force against the United States and the few remaining democracies in the world.

More Down Time

My photo web site was down for half the day yesterday. Something on my shared server hogs the connections ... then causes total failure. I've thrown hours scouring my site to see if there is an errant query that hogs connections. It is probably an errant query on a site that shares my database.

I've gradually come to the conclusion that the dynamically generated web model does not work on shared servers. On shared hosts, one is dependent on all of the other sites sharing the host. I need to redesign my web sites so that I don't need to connect to a database for each page.

The super frustrating thing, of course, is the need to harrass technical support to reset the database connections.

My strategy had been to concentrate a large number of domains with one host with the idea that I might get better service doing so. That idea hasn't panned through.

Anyway, I figured I would break up my web site structure and use different hosts. It would be a good opportunity to play with different control panels and figure out how different companies work.

I am currently trying to move a couple sites to out of Provo. The selling point for BlueHost was that they offered both PHP4 and PHP5 hosting. I wanted to try my hands at the new PHP5 language.

Sadly, their sign up process never gave me a chance to select my preference. They threw me on a PHP4 server by default. After wasting a couple hours finding out that there was no way to upgrade the account myself, I find myself, once again, at the mercy of the help desk of a discount web host. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

The main problem with all discount hosts is the thumb twiddling for customer support. Of course, I haven't a clue how any discount host can survive at the low rates that they charge. It seems to me that all web sites will have technical issues here and there. I suspect that this one PHP4-PHP5 technical issue that occurred during sign up will wipe out the company's profit margin on the account.

I admit, I would be much happier with a dedicated hosting solution. That way I could be my own tech support. Unfortunately, all the dedicated hosting places I've found cost $75plus a month ... plus the cost of the server.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sad to See Bolton Shafted

While I am more than happy to dance on Rumsfeld's tomb, I am sad to see Bolton getting the shaft (Yahoo). The Yahoo article and other sources I've found seem to indicate that people at the UN like working with Bolton and see him as someone who is capable of reforming the United Nations.

Bolton's main fault is that he is an outsider who hates seeing the abuse of the United Nation's by powerful insiders. Bolton's gruff personality along with his ability to see through BS laid on by the insiders is precisely what this world needs; if we wish to affect reform of the United Nations. Denying the nomination shuts down the possibility of reform for the foreseeable future.

Which, I guess is what the corrupt political machine of the far left wants.

IMHO we need to listen more to the gruff like Bolton and avoid the lure of slick insiders like Rumsfeld.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

IED = Landmines

The reaction to recent Rumsfeld memo leaks is quite interesting. These memos show that there actually were efforts underway to change course in Iraq. Interestingly, the talking points published by the NY Times center on the idea that changing the course simply leads to more dysfunction. Conservative bloggers try to point out that the NY Times show the two-faced nature of the left. The Bush administration could not talk publicly about ways to change the course because open discourse gets attacked by the Left. The administration's silence on the issue before the election gets attacked by the press. I doubt, however, that Rumsfeld will get much vindication from these leaks.

Despite the qualities that Rumsfeld brought to the table, he failed the US in two big aspects: First, He made it appear that the conservative movement in America advocates the use of torture (most do not). He also blundered by coming out in support of the use of landmines.

On this thought, I was just watching a TV news report of the latest bombings in Baghdad. The TV cameras quickly surveyed the carnage, some talking heads spoke about the IEDs used in the attacks, then the show switched to a commericial.

I switched off the commercial. The term IED bounced around in my brain, then struck the memory of Rumsfeld's idiotic support for the development of smart landmines. These IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) that are wreaking so much havoc in Iraq are essentially the same smart landmines that Rumsfeld endorses.

Properly speaking, a landmine is an IED that a terrorist plants in the ground hoping to kill whoever walks by (soldiers, children, etc.). Killing with landmines is a slow tedious process.

The IEDs of the Jihadist is a smart landmine. They are bombs that Jihadists place in cars and park in a public places. They get exploded with smart devices like cell phones or timers. The most dispicable IEDs are bombs that Jihadists strap to idealistic thirteeen-year-olds. The Jihadist puppet masters direct the thirteen-year-old to a crowd, then cowers under a veil of hatred as the young child goes boom.

Rumsfeld's idiotic support for the development of smart IEDs blurs the moral clarity of the war on terror without giving us a strategic advantage. Likewise, Rumsfeld's blundering on the torture blurred the moral clarity of the war. It fragmented his base. In return it gave us only questionable gains.

The only way for the West to win in this struggle is for the Mideast to realize that the ideals of classical liberalism lead to widespread prosperity. It is impossible to win when we have leaders like Rumsfeld who routinely blur the moral clarity that sits at the foundation of the classical liberal ideals. Had the US renewed its stand against landmines, then we would be in a better position to denounce the use of IEDs (smart landmines) as a terrorist weapon. Instead we watch have to watch the carnage in Iraq without even the ability to denounce the tactics since the technocratic leader of our war came out in open support for the use of "smart landmines."

The left may be two-faced, but Rumsfeld is the primary that we are losing the peace.