Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blogger Revving up New Views

What photographic excellence, from the F-Word.
You may have noticed that I've fallen off my habit of informing you about endless and random updates to Chrome, Google, etc.  My apologies.

I confess I figured those of you who are interested in the new features/updates generally know where to find out about them and that my observations would probably add very little to the conversation.

I'm bucking the (recent) trend, tonight.

I'd like to draw your attention to five new Blogger "views": 1) flipcard, 2) mosaic, 3) sidebar, 4) snapshot, and 5) timeslide.

To access these views, simply add /view to the end of any blog (I believe it has to be public).  Try this blog, for example:

Impressive, F-Word, most impressive.
Here's a video from Blogger.  I think you'll be quite impressed:

What do you think?  Please sound off, below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Please Defend DOMA, Marriage, and Religious Freedom

Recently, marriage, the union of one man and one woman, and the free exercise of religion, have come under even greater attack than usual.


You may be aware that President Obama has recently set aside his constitutional duties to uphold the laws of the land.  Specifically, he has abandoned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  President Obama says the law (which simply codified the then universal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman) is likely unconstitutional and has refused to defend it against legal attack.

For a little background, DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, after a 342-67 vote in the House and 85-14 vote in the Senate.  Or, in other words, 83.62% of the House and 85% of the Senate voted in favor of the legislation.

Now, DOMA is facing attacks in the courts and in Congress.  Are your elected representatives standing up for what has always been, until recently, the universal definition of marriage?  Please find out and take corresponding action by clicking on the Defend DOMA button, to the right.

Religious Freedom

I previously posted to inform you that Apple had caved into demands to remove the Manhattan Declaration app from its app store.  The Manhattan Declaration proclaims a belief in Life, Marriage, and Religious Freedom.

I write now to inform you that Apple has recently caved into similar demands to remove an app produced by Exodus International.

Exodus International is an organization which assists individuals seeking help to overcome same-gender attraction.  The group proclaims "Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ" and recognizes that while participants may overcome homosexual behavior, they may still struggle with same-sex attractions.

As I have done before, I want to reconfirm (rather than cover-up or deny) that I have a brother who views himself as homosexual whom I love very much and whom I refuse to disown or cast aside for his decision.

Regarding the apps, I understand both received a 4+ rating from Apple, meaning they were viewed by Apple as free from objectionable material.

You may be far from surprised that some denounced these apps as "hateful" and "bigoted."  I am sad that a number of individuals seem unable (or simply refuse) to differentiate between homosexual behavior and self-proclaimed homosexual individuals, themselves.  I prefer to recognize people as children of God, rather than label us according to our specific tendencies, appetites, or behaviors.

I am deeply concerned that what we once considered a flourishing market place of ideas may be quickly mutating into a curated garden of politically correct ideology.  "Freedom from Religion," anyone?

Yes, Apple is far from being the U.S. government.  On the other hand, there are many who adamantly push to force God and freedom of religion out of the public sphere and into the uncontroversial shadows of freedom of worship.  There are many who long to silence any voices who disagree with or offend them.

If we ever lose the right to express our ideas, I greatly fear the dark days that would follow.
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may [including nothing at all].  (LDS Article of Faith # 11.)
Please sign the Manhattan Declaration (at right) and support freedom of religion in whatever respectful way you can.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  Edmund Burke.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Difference Between Libya and Iraq Explained

I especially love how this video hearkens back to the "because it is an iPhone" exchange (absent the colorful language).

Yesterday's Spiritual Message: You Will Be Freed

Elder Ballard talks about falling prey to addictions and overcoming them:

Look for posts and pictures from our Germany trip, coming up!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Tribute to the Fallen Japanese: We Will Meet Again

This morning, I heard a Lord of the Rings song on Pandora and was especially touched, after reading the lyrics, and thinking about the devastation in Japan.

When the cold of winter comes
Starless night will cover day
In the veiling of the sun
We will walk in bitter rain

But in dreams
I can hear your name
And in dreams
We will meet again

When the seas and mountains fall
And we come, to end of days
In the dark I hear a call
Calling me there,
I will go there
And back again

My heart is particularly sick and sad and full of mourning, as we have a dear friend who was, when I was a young child, essentially family, who lives in Hokkaido, Japan.  We have yet to receive word from her that she and her family are all right.

Yet, in addition to the lyrics found above, I know that because of Jesus Christ, we will all meet again, not only in dreams, but in life, and He will wipe away all tears from our eyes.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  Revelation 21: 4.
God bless the people of Japan.  They are in my thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Today's Spiritual Message: Spiritual Vertigo

A WWII pilot talks about the importance of following established rules.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Today's Spiritual Message: Peace in this World

Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.
Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. 
Around Christmas, this past year, my wife and I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Among other things, what we loved most about the HP park (and all of Universal Studios) was the "Dragon Challenge" roller coaster ride.

And, climbing up the ride's drop off, I discovered what I enjoyed most about the whole experience.

It was after dusk and so the area was quite dark.  The Dragon Challenge ride was situated at the outskirts of the whole Universal Studios park, when we were there, so we could see off into the surrounding distance.

As I gazed out at the dark horizon, I saw a shimmering light, in what I assumed was a familiar form.  As you may have guessed, it was the Orlando, Florida, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple.

I was overcome with appreciation, as I thought about the symbolism of that moment:  Here we were, climbing a roller coaster ride, where we would be screaming, whipped about, twisting and turning, and all in the dark of night.  Yet, off in the distance lay a bright and quiet reminder that we can have peace in this world, in spite of the many dangers, excitements, and turmoils we experience in this life.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14: 27.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, the Prince of Peace.  Each and every temple, shinning brightly in the dark of night, is a glowing reminder that we can each have peace in this world, as we turn to Jesus Christ and keep His commandments.

I have certainly felt this peace in my life, when I have endeavored to follow the Savior.   I close with an invitation from one of His prophets:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not.
I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.
And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.  Ether 12: 41.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

BYU Dismisses Top Basketball Player, Grabs Nation's Attention

Does it surprise you that John Cougar Mellencamp wrote the song, "Hurts So Good"?

If you follow college basketball, or even American sports in general, I imagine you may be aware that Brigham Young University (BYU) has dismissed the No. 3-ranked basketball team's 6'9" center, Brandon Davies, for the remainder of the season.

BYU states that Davies was dismissed from (at least) the team for an Honor Code violation.  The BYU Honor Code expects students to:
Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
From what I've read, I get the impression Davies violated #2.

In a world where we often learn about serious rules violations five or ten years after a team has won the NCAA championship, I'm deeply impressed with the University's decision, in the midst of what I believe may be its highest ranking ever (at least in my living memory).

What might have happened to the basketball team's season, had Davies remained on the team, is anyone's guess.  What did happen, last night, was that BYU took a 64-82 beat down at the hands of New Mexico, for its first loss at home in some time.  My understanding is that BYU has now dropped from being a Final Four favorite, to doubtfully making it out of the playoff tournament's first round.

Hurts so good.

When it comes down to it, I ask myself this proverbially academic question, "Would I rather have BYU win a basketball NCAA championship, along with its quickly fading glory, or would I prefer to have my alma matter respected throughout the world as an institution of high moral standards and integrity."  In a heartbeat, I'll take the latter.

Yes, the F-Word will be the first sport pundit to tell you I fell out of the hardcore-sports fan aura, long ago.  Yet, when BYU's teams ride high, I'm one of the first to cheer them on.

In the end, with BYU's basketball hopes crumbling, or perhaps even dashed, I'm struggling to think of a time I've ever been more proud of my alma matter.  Today, I will proudly don my BYU hat, which may be the first time in years, accompanied by my BYU alumnus t-shirt.

Sometimes love don't feel like it should
You make it hurt so good
Especially if you're a BYU sports fan, you may want to listen to Hurts So Good on Playlist.