Archives for November 2008

Baby Bryson Is Blessed

Derek and Bryson in the church foyer after the blessing

Derek and Bryson in the church foyer after the blessing


Today we headed over to the Kaysville 12th Ward for Bryson’s blessing. Bryson’s relatives were there in large numbers on this happy day. For those unfamiliar with the naming and blessing of children I will explain. Under the direction of the presiding authority (usually the bishop of the ward), brethren who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood may participate in the ordinance of naming and blessing children (see Doctrine & Covenants 20:70). When blessing a baby, brethren gather in a circle and place their hands under the baby. Normally the father follows these steps:

  1. Addresses our Heavenly Father.
  2. States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
  3. Gives the child a name.
  4. Adds words of blessing as the Spirit directs.
  5. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

Bryson was very alert during the blessing but didn’t cry. There were thirteen brethren in the circle and Derek spoke with a clear voice. The part of the blessing that I remember the clearest is where Bryson was blessed to have a thirst for secular and spiritual knowledge.

The blessing took place today rather than on the usual Fast Sunday because Derek was expected to be out of town next week. After Sacrament Meeting we congregated at Derek and Sarah’s home for a breakfast. Then out came all the cameras and we had a blast taking hundreds of photographs.

Go here for a hi-res (4.1 Mb) photograph of Bryson.

Related Posts

Derek, Sarah, and Bryson
Baby Bryson: Six Days Old
How Many Toys Does It Take To Entertain Bryson?

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Utah Gas Tax Hike Possible


Yellowstone National Park.

Will cars be taxed off the roads?

Gas Tax Increase

State officials in Utah are looking at a tax increase to pay for transportation projects. Instead of a set 24.5 cents per gallon Utahns would pay a percentage of the price at the pump. An alternate would be an increase of 1/10 of a cent in the state sales tax toward paying for the nearly $4 billion in road projects that have been suspended. Projects like the Mountain View Corridor connecting Salt Lake and Utah counties and 20 miles of I-15 reconstruction in Utah County.

Drivers Opposed

Almost all of the commenters to the Deseret News story “As gas prices plunge, gas taxes may rise” were opposed to any tax increase. One rickety respondent felt that “the Legislature should implement congestion pricing instead.” Regular readers of my blog already know I am opposed to a congestion tax. However David Miller has reasonable arguments in favor of congestion pricing.

How Does A Percentage Gas Tax Work?

I can make a few guesses. The idea is that as the price of gas rises, the gas tax rises at a set percentage. Suppose if the price of gas is $1.50 a gallon (which it soon will be), the state gas tax is 24.5 cents and the percentage the governor takes is 16.33%. If the price of gas rises to $3.00 a gallon then the percentage to the state falls to 8.17%. If Utah wanted to maintain the percentage 16.33%  tax when gas costs $3.00 a gallon then the tax would rise to 49 cents. Gas at $4.00 a gallon would need a tax of 65.3 cents.

The attraction of this method is that it counters the problem of rising gas prices causing reduced consumption that cuts money to fund road projects. The negative for drivers is that when gas prices increase you get beat up at the pump by the oil sheiks and the governor.

Gas Tax Base Rate

As well as a percentage tax rate the state would need a base gas tax rate at which the percentage switches to a fixed amount. For example, a gas tax rate of 16.33% could have a base set at $1.50 a gallon so that if prices fall below that amount a fixed gas tax of 24.5 cents would kick in until prices rose above $1.50 a gallon. One would hope that there would also be a maximum amount of gas tax per gallon set but I wouldn’t be holding your breath on that one.

How I See It

I think that it is very appropriate to raise funds for road projects with a gas tax. Other sources of funds that are currently used are sales taxes from the state’s general fund, vehicle registration fees, and federal funds. I would like to see the funding from the use of sales taxes reduced and the slack picked up by increases in gas taxes. This would alleviate the funding shortfalls that come from reduced sales tax collections.

I am not in favor of a percentage based gas tax. When gas is rising in price the last thing the government should be doing is helping to raise the price even higher. If funding is needed for road projects, increase the gas tax. It is probably one of the fairest taxes around, if there is such a thing.

Update

4 December 2008 — Deseret News

The governor scrapped — at least for now — the suggestion that the gas tax be shifted from a flat 24.5 cents a gallon to a percentage of the sales price, but said he’d be supportive of a similar proposal from lawmakers this session.

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Missionary Dan Email from the MTC #3

Daniel learning Mongolian (center).
Presented here are portions of Elder Daniel Willoughby’s third email from the Missionary Training Center. Photographs are courtesy of LaRae Warner who’s son is serving with Daniel.

Well today is Thanksgiving so my P-day is just a little messed up. We get to have a General Authority come speak to us today and also do a service project. That is crazy that Sarah and Derek are moving to Texas. I had a friend from Texas and they had only good things to say about it. Try and get Bryson some cowboy boots maybe? Best of luck to the both of you.

Elder Warner told me, Dad, that you were looking at some pictures of me on his mom’s blog. Those are probably the same ones that I took with my camera. I forgot to get my pictures to send but all those were were pictures of my district and one picture of my companions.

Mom, it sounds like you are growing up to be a fine grandma. Working from a Lazy boy sounds like it could be less productive but whatever works. :) I’ve always wanted to drive one of those carts around at Sam’s Club. My leg is perfectly healed. Just like I was saying it just needed to rest to recover. I can now run as much as I want and it never bothers me.

[Read more…]

Thanksgiving 2008 in Perry

Thanksgiving 2008
Back row, left to right: Jill, Rick, Susan, Sarah, Derek holding Bryson, Randy, Sherie, Scott, Shauna, Kent, Alex, and Ty.
Front row, left to right: Jake, Byron, Melissa, Paul, Ashley, Adelaide, Robert, Steven, Connor.

Thanksgiving this year was at my brother-in-law Randy’s home in Perry, Utah. Steven brought an extra turkey to fry. He heated the peanut oil to 350 degrees. When the breast of the turkey reached 170 degrees it was done. It was cooked perfectly. Last year it was burnt. After we had all eaten our fill we went outside to have a group photograph with Adelaide’s new Nikon D90.

Later in the evening I blogged while some of the family played the game “Would You Rather…?” which I am glad I didn’t play. Ashley commented for the first time on a blog (mine). Others watched the Cars movie. Steven and Paul tinkered with Adelaide’s camera. And then it was time to gobble up some pie.
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How To Recognize Propaganda

1914 Lord Kitchener Wants You recruitment poster

1914 Lord Kitchener Wants You recruitment poster

In 1982 I took a class in college that touched briefly on propaganda. The following is based upon a handout I received in the class. Although just a few simple pages, I have used it often.

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda is expression of opinion or action deliberately designed to influence others for a predetermined end. The propagandist does not want careful scrutiny and criticism; he wants specific action. Because the action may be socially harmful to millions of people, it is necessary to focus upon the propagandist and his activities the light of scientific scrutiny.

Seven Common Propaganda Devices

We are fooled by propaganda because we do not recognize it when we see it. There are seven common propaganda devices:

  1. Name Calling
  2. Glittering Generalities
  3. Transfer
  4. Testimonial
  5. Plain Folks
  6. Card Stacking
  7. Band Wagon

We are fooled by these devices because they appeal to our emotions rather than to our reason. They make us believe and do something we would not believe and do if we thought about it calmly and dispassionately. In examining these devices, we note that they work most effectively at those times when we are too lazy to think for ourselves. They also tie into emotions which sway us to be “for” or “against” nations, races, religions, ideals, economic and political policies and practices, and so on.

1. Name Calling

Name Calling is a device to make us form a judgment without examining the evidence on which it should be based. Here the propagandist appeals to our hate and fear. He does this by giving “bad names” to those individuals, groups, nations, races, policies, practices, beliefs, and ideals which he would have us condemn and reject. For example, “Mormons are bigots and full of hate because they supported Proposition 8″ is an attempt at Name Calling designed to stir up hate and dull reason in individuals who have put little thought into the issue. When you start Name Calling, your argument is finished.

Use of Name Calling without presentation of their essential meaning, without all their pertinent implications comprises perhaps the most common of all propaganda devices.

2. Glittering Generalities

Glittering Generalities is a device by which the propagandist identifies her program with virtue by use of “virtue words”. Here she appeals to our emotions of love, generosity, and sisterhood. She uses words like truth, freedom, honor, liberty, social justice, public service, the right to work, loyalty, progress, democracy, and change. These words suggest shining ideals. All persons of goodwill will believe in these ideals. Hence the propagandist, by identifying her cause with such ideals seeks to win us to her cause.

As Name Calling is a device to make us form a judgment to reject and condemn, without examining the evidence, Glittering Generalities is a device to make us accept and approve, without examining the evidence. For example, use of the phrases, “The right to work” and “Social justice,” may be a device to make us accept programs for meeting the labor-capital problem which, if we examined them critically, we would not accept at all.

3. Transfer

Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. If the propagandist succeeds in getting church or nation to approve a campaign in behalf of some program, he thereby transfers its authority, sanction, and prestige to that program. Thus we may accept something which otherwise we might reject.

In the Transfer device symbols are constantly used. The cross represents the Christian Church. The flag represents the nation. Cartoons like Uncle Sam represent a consensus of opinion. Those symbols stir emotions. At their very sight is aroused the whole complex of feelings we have with respect to church or nation. The Transfer device is used both for and against causes and ideas.

4. Testimonial

The Testimonial is a device to make us accept anything from a patent medicine or a cigarette to a program of national policy. In this device the propagandist makes use of testimonials. “When I feel tired, I smoke a Camel and get the greatest lift.” “I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.” This device works in reverse also; counter-testimonials may be employed. Seldom are these used in commercial products like patent medicines and cigarettes, but they are constantly employed in social, economic, and political issues.

5. Plain Folks

Plain Folks is a device used by politicians, labor leaders, business men, and even by ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be just plain folks like ourselves. In election years especially do candidates show their devotion to little children and the common, homey things of life. They have front porch campaigns, They go to country picnics; they attend service at the old frame church; they pitch hay and go fishing; they show their belief in home and mother. In short, they would win our votes by showing that they’re just as common as the rest of us — and, therefore, wise and good.

6. Card Stacking

Card Stacking is a device in which the propagandist employs all the arts of deception to win our support for herself, her group, nation, race, policy, practice, belief, or ideal. She stacks the cards against the truth. She uses under-emphasis and over-emphasis to dodge issues and evade facts. She resorts to lies, censorship, and distortions. She omits facts. She offers false testimony. She creates a smokescreen of clamor by raising a new issue when she wants an embarrassing matter forgotten. She draws a red herring across the trail to confuse and divert those in quest of facts she does not want revealed. She makes the real appear unreal and the unreal real. She lets half-truth masquerade as truth.

By the Card Stacking device, a mediocre candidate, through the “build-up,” is made to appear an intellectual titan; an ordinary prize fighter a probable world champion; a worthless patent medicine a beneficent cure. By means of this device propagandists would convince us that a ruthless war of aggression is a crusade for righteousness. Card Stacking employs sham, hypocrisy, and effrontery.

7. The Band Wagon

The Band Wagon is a device to make us follow the crowd, to accept the propagandists program en masse. Here his theme is: “Everybody’s doing it.” His techniques range from those of medicine show to dramatic spectacle. He hires a hall, fills a great stadium, marches a million men in parade. He employs symbols, colors, music, movement, all the dramatic arts. He appeals to the desire, common to most of us, to “follow the crowd.” Because he wants us to “follow the crowd” in masses, he directs his appeal to groups held together by common ties of nationality, religion, race, environment, sex, or vocation.

Thus propagandists campaigning for or against a program will appeal to us as Catholics, Protestants, or Jews; as members of the Nordic race or as African Americans; as farmers or as school teachers; as housewives or as miners. All the artifices of flattery are used to harness the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to the group; thus emotion is made to push and pull the group on to the Band Wagon.

Propaganda and Emotion

Observe that in all these devices our emotion is the stuff with which propagandists work. Without it they are helpless; with it, harnessing it to their purposes, they can make us glow with pride or burn with hatred. The intelligent citizen does not want propagandists to utilize his emotions, even to the attainment of “good” ends. He does not want to be used, duped, or fooled. He does not want to be gullible. Turn to the nearest newspaper or blog (other than mine :) ), and almost immediately you can spot examples of the seven propaganda devices. A little practice soon enables us to detect them elsewhere in radio, television, books, magazines, and in expressions of labor unions, business groups, churches, schools, and political parties.
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Mormon Time Magazine Covers

Occasionally I enjoy browsing through TIME Magazine’s archive. It contains almost every issue of TIME since it began publication on March 3, 1923 and has available a full-text search through more than a quarter million articles. Recently I became curious to see how often The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the subject of the front cover. I found three such instances.

Heber Jedediah Grant, L.D.S.

Mormon Centenary — April 7, 1930
Heber Jedediah Grant.
Excerpts

Last week the thoughts of all the 700,000 Mormons in the world dwelt in Salt Lake City, capital of Mormondom and of Utah, where the centenary of the founding of the Church was to be celebrated, exactly to the day, on April 6, 1930.

Mormon good fortune since the trek to Utah is due in no small measure to a faith which greatly admires and encourages prosperity. Mormons irrigated, planted and built with as much persistence as they prayed. A striking fact is that the Mormons did not dig in the ground for metallic wealth but concentrated on husbandry. They made a desert bloom.

Mormon wealth, though impossible to calculate, is apparent to anyone who studies Salt Lake City commercially. The Church owns The Deseret News, two hotels, two office buildings, the Beneficial Life Insurance Co., and Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (first U. S. department store, 1868). Through the Utah-Idaho Sugar Co., the Church owns 24,539 acres of farm lands and operates numerous beet sugar factories in Utah, Idaho, Washington, Montana, South Dakota.

Meanwhile, in 1877, [Grant] married Lucy Stringham. Seven years later, on May 26, he espoused Augusta Winters and, on May 27, Emily Wells. The last is the only one of his three wives now alive. In 1882 a startling businessman, aged 25, he was chosen one of the Twelve Apostles. During 1901-03 he lived in Japan as a Mormon missionary, then served two years as head of missionary activity in Europe. Read the full story at TIME archive.

Mormon Leader Smith

A Peculiar People — July 21, 1947
George Albert Smith.
Excerpts

Mormons today do not expect divine intervention in this sinful world before they have exhausted their own final resources. And 100 years after the Mormons’ perilous trek to Utah’s Great Salt Lake, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far from being exhausted. In its self-made oasis on the Western desert, it is flourishing like a green bay tree.

But what will most awe them will be the spectacular manifestations of Mormon diligence and industry. As commander of temporal as well as spiritual affairs, kindly old President George Smith presides over an enormous going concern. The church, as owner of the big and prosperous Z.C.M.I., Salt Lake City’s first department store, deals in everything from plowshares to perfume. It owns Salt Lake City’s top-rung Hotel Utah and its next-best Temple Square Hotel. It owns one of the city’s daily newspapers, the Deseret News, and its biggest transmitter, radio station KSL.

Mormonism is changing with the rest of the world. But few institutions and few peoples have succeeded as well in stamping out their own destiny and in shaping the times in which they lived. After a hundred years there is milk and honey in the land of the honeybee. There are many great monuments: green, irrigated valleys, temples, cities, and that never-to-be-forgotten reminder of Mormon faith and courage, the faint marks of the old Mormon trail. Read the full story at TIME archive.

Mormons, Inc.

Kingdom Come — August 4, 1997
Mormons, Inc.
Excerpts

In Salt Lake City, Utah, on a block known informally as Welfare Square, stands a 15-barreled silo filled with wheat: 19 million lbs., enough to feed a small city for six months. At the foot of the silo stands a man — a bishop with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — trying to explain why the wheat must not be moved, sold or given away.

The church’s material triumphs rival even its evangelical advances. With unusual cooperation from the Latter-day Saints hierarchy, TIME has been able to quantify the church’s extraordinary financial vibrancy. Its current assets total a minimum of $30 billion.

The top beef ranch in the world is not the King Ranch in Texas. It is the Deseret Cattle & Citrus Ranch outside Orlando, Fla. It covers 312,000 acres; its value as real estate alone is estimated at $858 million. It is owned entirely by the Mormons. The largest producer of nuts in America, AgReserves, Inc., in Salt Lake City, is Mormon-owned. So are the Bonneville International Corp., the country’s 14th largest radio chain, and the Beneficial Life Insurance Co., with assets of $1.6 billion.

The Mormons are stewards of a different stripe. Their charitable spending and temple building are prodigious. But where other churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least $6 billion strong.

“Our whole objective,” says Hinckley, “is to make bad men good and good men better, to improve people, to give them an understanding of their godly inheritance and of what they may become.” And he intends to do it globally. In what will undoubtedly become the hallmark of his presidency, he is in the process of a grand expansion, the organizational follow-up to the massive missionary work the church has long engaged in overseas. Read the full story at TIME archive.

Other Mormon Time Magazine Covers

Senator Reed Smoot 1929

Ezra Taft Benson 1953, 1956

Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson

Senator Arthur Watkins 1954

Senator Arthur Watkins

George Romney 1959, 1962

George Romney
Governor George Romney

Mitt Romney 2007, 2011, 2012

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Glenn Beck 2009

Glenn Beck

Update

Unfortunately, since I wrote this post in 2008, Time has erected a pay wall. To read the entire article, you must be a U.S. TIME subscriber.
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And The Moon Into Blood

The Prophecy of JoelClick on the image to sharpen the text.

In the October 2001 General Conference President Hinckley said: “The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared…” Then he quoted Joel 2:28-32. I’ve looked upon the scripture to mean that certain events will happen before the Lord’s second coming. We can extract from the scripture Joel’s partial list:

  • The Lord will pour out His spirit upon all flesh (including servants and handmaids)
  • Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy
  • Your old men shall dream dreams
  • Your young men shall see visions
  • Wonders in the heavens and in the earth (blood, fire, pillars of smoke)
  • Sun shall be turned into darkness
  • Moon turned into blood

Of course there are more items we can add to the list as we search through the scriptures. But what is the most important thing to remember in all of this? “That whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.” It seems to me to be that simple. One may ask, “Will not the wicked therefore call upon the Lord?” I don’t think so. The wicked are not even watching the signs of His coming. Even when brought to the awful realization of their situation they will lift up their voices and curse God and die.

Others have written about President Hinckley’s declaration, see The 100 Hour Board, the comments in Connor’s Conundrums, and Latter-day Commentary.

Photo Credit: NASA
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The Scarlet Pimpernel at Davis High

Rick, Jill, Sharon, and Max in the auditorium.

Ready for the Pimpernel

Our good friends Max and Sharon Blair invited us to watch “The Scarlet Pimpernel” at Davis High School. Before any strenuous activity we need to eat so we went to the Little Orient Restaurant in Layton. After a great meal we sat down in the Davis High School Auditorium ready for the musical. We were three rows back from the stage with the first row unoccupied. So close I could have left my glasses at home.
Image of the Pimpernel's flower on stage curtains.

The Plot

With the help of Wikipedia, here is the plot: In 1792, during the French Revolution, Marguerite, the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney, had unintentionally caused a French aristocrat and his sons to be sent to the guillotine. When Percy found out, he became estranged from his wife.

The “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, made up of 19 English aristocrats, are rescuing their French counterparts from execution. The Scarlet Pimpernel, their leader, takes his nickname from the drawing of a small red flower with which he signs his messages.

At a ball attended by the Blakeneys, Percy’s verse about the Pimpernel amuses the other guests:

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.

Jill holding a program.
Meanwhile, Marguerite is blackmailed by Citizen Chauvelin. Chauvelin’s agents have stolen a letter incriminating her brother Armand, proving that he is in league with the Pimpernel. Chauvelin offers to trade Armand’s life for her help against the Pimpernel. Marguerite passes along information which enables Chauvelin to learn the Pimpernel’s true identity.

After Percy unexpectedly leaves for France, Marguerite discovers that he is the Pimpernel. Desperate to save him, she pursues Percy to France to try to warn him. Percy is reunited with his wife when they are both taken prisoner by Chauvelin but the couple manage to escape. With Marguerite’s love and courage amply proved, Percy’s ardor is rekindled.

Impressions

The singing was magnificent and the orchestra played well. There was a lot of effort put into the costumes and the props and that made the play all the more enjoyable. The humorous lines were delivered well and the audience responded readily. Already knowing the story helped me a lot. When I attend a play I usually expend most of my attention on figuring out the plot that I don’t enjoy the show. Of the play, the director Andra L. Thorne said:

While “The Scarlet Pimpernel” holds many important themes and ideas, one of the most important is said by Percy in Act I. In reference to what is happening in France and Percy thinks his band of men should do, Percy says, “Then when is the time? Do you hear me? Neighbor denounces neighbor — oh, and no longer just aristocrats, but teachers, priests, poets! Off go the heads — blood soaks the stones of the streets! I tell you they’ve gone insane, and I ask you: what should we do?

The time to render help is seldom convenient and it sometimes takes courage. As Andra says, “Change, and making a difference somewhere in the world, is a process, not an event.”
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Missionary Dan Email from the MTC #2

Elder Willoughby by the Mongolian flag on the day he entered the MTC

Elder Willoughby by the Mongolian flag on the day he entered the MTC

Presented here are portions of Elder Daniel Willoughby’s second email from the Missionary Training Center.

Elder Holland

I am doing great! I am loving being a missionary. We always get a General Authority to come on Sunday and most Tuesdays too. Last Sunday Elder Holland spoke to us. He was very passionate and spoke from his heart. He does a lot of work with missionaries so he has a deep love for missionaries. We all felt how much he loved us when he spoke. He was very inspiring and I am trying to apply what he said. He also is really funny. I guess in general conference they tend to not tell as many jokes. I was laughing really hard some times.

The Savior

He told about when the Savior came to the Americas all the people there listened to him and felt his hands. The Savior told them to go home and ponder the things he said and he would teach them more tomorrow. So all the people went home and told everyone about Him and to come to listen and to hear Him teach the next day. Elder Holland commented, “The only time home teaching has ever worked in the Church.”

I’ll try to get around to sending a picture. I can’t upload any here but I could try and mail a few if I remember, I seem to forget my camera.

We Should All Speak Mongolian

The language is great. It is very complicated but I am blessed with a quick mind and the ability to focus all day. The sentence structure very simply is exactly the opposite of English — it is fun. I think we should all speak Mongolian. We learn so much everyday. Just recently we learned how to buy things. It is amazing how the spirit helps me remember what I learn. We have one elder from Samoa, one from Las Vegas, one from North Carolina, two from Utah, and one from California. The sisters are two from Utah and one from Missouri.

Be Grateful

I am doing great, my leg doesn’t hurt. I can run as much as I want to. I usually just run for 20 minutes or do crunches for a while. Thanks for everything! Stay positive and be grateful for all that the Lord has blessed you with. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us very much and want what is best for us.

Love, Elder Willoughby
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