So, What is Wrong WIth This Picture

Got this in my email this morning.

What have I done to deserve this?


Experts Agree: 19 out of 10 Realtors are MORONS

Listening to Radio West on KUER the other night, talking about "Your Personal Finances"....

They had a financial counselor in the studio, which was great, gave good advice... then they had a REALTOR on talking about MORTGAGES. I wanted to call in to the show and ask the moron how many loans he had closed in the last six months. He was giving all sorts of incorrect statistics, and advice.

He noted that in Utah, most of the adjustable-rate mortgages that have been commonplace in the US for about 24 months now, are 5 year fixed, and we won't see fallout of those mortgages until 2008-2010.

Ummmm... the overwhelming percentage of adjustable mortgages that have been originated in the last 24 months are 2 year adjustables, based on the LIBOR index, and the time for beginning to the see fallout from the first nasty adjustments of those mortgages is NOW.

If you want a good way to garner a foreclosure, bankruptcy, and ruined credit history, all in one swell foop, go ahead and borrow the entire amount of what some realtor thinks you should qualify for, and what some idiot mortgage office says they can get you, on a 2 year adjustable mortgage, interest-only loan. You will likely be steered toward the realtor's "preferred lender." You think they are on your team?

Go ahead. Knock yourself out. Have fun with that.

Realtors don't do mortgages, and they are not to be considered experts. They are not even to be considered "on your team." They make between 3-6% of the sales price, for doing what, exactly? Listing your home on the MLS? Looking on the MLS to FIND you a house? GIVE ME A BREAK!! On a modest $250,000 house, that's between $7500 and $15,000 into the realtor's pocket. Did you enjoy that? Somebody paid for that, and that's a lot of money. I know who that somebody was. You think they are "on your team?" Think again. Think about whether that was worth it for you.

Did you know you can list your home on the MLS by yourself for as little as $300. Period. Did you know that you can also search the MLS yourself? Did you know that there are MANY houses for sale that are NOT listed on the MLS? You don't need a realtor. You need a financial counselor that knows how to get you a mortgage that makes sense. Do you think that just because a mortgage investor says you CAN borrow a certain amount that you SHOULD borrow that amount? Are you NUTS? Pick a payment you can live with, get a mortgage commitment on a mortgage program that fits your needs, keeps you secure, and gives you long-term stability, then find a house that will provide that for you. Forget what you CAN borrow, borrow what you SHOULD borrow.

Every time you make a mortgage payment, who do you think about? The realtor that sold you the house, or the loan guy that put you in the mortgage? I'm just sayin'.

World's Greatest Photographer: Alexi Lubomirski

Photoshop GENIUS...

And the publicist exhales for the first time in months.


Philosophy faculty member weighs in from the other side of the fence

From an opinion piece printed in the University of Utah's newpaper, a faculty member of the Philosphy department, Deen Chatterjee, weighs in on how he/she views the so-called "marriage amendment."

Article is here.

He/she notes that in an effort to prevent the "moral decline" of Western Civilization, the promoters of this amendment are, in fact, CONTRIBUTING to its moral decline. Says he/she:

When equal rights for all is [sic] denied, then justice is denied. When the law doesn't sanctify love and commitment between responsible adults, then it is immoral. By standing against justice and morality, the proposed amendment in itself was a proof of the extent of moral decline in our society.

An interesting view from the other side of the philosophical fence for sure. Can censure be far behind for this unfortunate philosopher?

Holy Crap - Friday Again...

Blog volume goes in inverse proportion to Mortgage Office volume. Therefore, blog entries have been short, and few.

However, we shall stick a post up here as a placeholder for those that have begun stopping by in regularity over the last few months. And thanks for the traffic and great comments, by the way.

I have nothing to say, really. I've read recently that a large percentage of blogs contain nothing more than regurgitated odd news and net tidbits. Lazy bloggers, they're called. As I look back, I have been guilty of same. Mixed in with serious thoughts are randoms, meaningless blather, a
nd crap no body cares about. Hence the title of my blog, I guess.

However, there are places where my thoughts are expressed and concerns raised. Good for me - happy to put my thoughts out there - I tend towards the opinionated, and to the verbose where it concerns the written word. It's good to have a place to vent one's spleen and have it be okay. You can read or you may not, makes no nevermind to me in the long run.

There are some things that bug me though, concerning where my current energies are:

1. It bugs me that people don't answer phones anymore - returned (or not) voice-mails are the norm. Answer your phones, people.

2. It bugs me that potential employees think they need to have a base salary in a 100% commission-based job description.

3. It bugs me that some people don't believe me when I say I'll call them back when I have something to report to them regarding a status change in their business with me.

4. It bugs me that people who have no idea how to pay their bills, and consequently have a HORRIBLE credit score, think they should be buying investment real estate. Th
ey shouldn't even be allowed to own a primary residence.

In a non-job related arena, it bugs me that:

1. People think that physical violence is okay.

2. Some people have such a high opinion of themselves that they think that God/Jesus/"The Devil" have a direct and pointed interest in whether they win a political race. Here.

3. It bugs me that public officials think it's okay ot issue a public funds bond for use in financing a stadium for a privately owned sporting franchise when we can't even get legislators to cough up the money to pay for seniors dental care.
The Brookings Institute has a report here about this very issue.

In it, they state: "The additional labor and capital income a community obtains from a sports-related - whether a stadium, arena, or training center - generally is inadequate to justify public subsidy of that facility." See the report here. This also discussed at length in a Salt Lake Tribune article that appeared on June 1st 2006, by Lya Wodraska, under the headline,
"Stadium controversy: Teams playing their cities for big bucks may also be a major sport". The article notes that "Team owners understand they are creating economic activity, but the hard part to wade through is whether the public is getting anything for the money it is putting into it and how much it is willing to pay."

Team owners don't become rich by being bad businessmen. They work for the best deal they can get from the city before committing their own finances. However, RSL owner Dave Checketts may have pushed the negotiations to the edge by offering to donate $7.5 million toward youth soccer facilities with one hand while asking for millions more for the stadium with his other.

Seattle, San Diego, Minnesota and Florida are areas currently in the throes of their own controversies. While several nearby areas are vying for the San Diego Chargers, there is a chance the football team could move out of state if it doesn't get a new stadium.
Most stadiums are financed over 20 or 30 years, which is fine for your house, but the lifespan of a house is upwards of 50, 75, even 100 years or more. A stadium is obsolete and ready to be torn down and replaced before even some of the electronic equipment inside is worn out. That's a lot of interest and finance charges for public money to endure. I'm just sayin.

And by the way, Rocky gets the POO award for swinging into town on his "off week", and suggesting that the stadium should be out at the Fair Park. Again.

4. It bugs me that east-side residents want to break out of the large Granite and Jordan school districts and create a smaller district to cater to their little princes and princesses. Creating a (nother) beaurocracy to administer a school district is the wrong move for residents in this valley to take.

Consider just the economics, people. Duplicating all the administrative services of the larger district would be expensive; a study would reveal just how expensive. When residents of Utah County wanted to create Pioneer School District by partitioning the Alpine district in 2004, a report by Brigham Young University estimated taxpayers in the new district would see their overall property taxes rise by at least 24 percent and local taxes for education by at least 40 percent by 2010.

Those parents envisioned a tiny neighborhood school district that they could control. It was a bad idea, and hopefully Salt Lake County cities may find it makes no more sense for them.

(I've heard that "hopefully" is perhaps the most misused word in the English language.)

So that's the stuff that bugs me this week. The Oilers lost, and that bugs me, but I'm okay with it. There has been a lot written about them, and by me as well, and they are the future of the NHL. I'll look forward to that next year. They have already sold out of all their season tickets for next year. I wonder how many retirement annoucements we'll hear from the Hurricanes this summer - I bet three. The Oilers, though, are young. They'll be hungry next year.

And finally, this: I've decided to get a new tattoo this summer:


The Best Sporting Event That Nobody's Watching

I've been honking here for a while about the lowly Edmonton Oilers hockey club, barely squeeking into the playoffs in the first place, now playing in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Nobody expected them to be there, and NOBODY expected them to force a game 7. Including KSL TV here in Salt Lake.

I bellyached last week after the Oilers won game 5 and sent the series back to Edmonton for game 6. KSL didn't schedule the next game on TV, although the National Hockey League has a contract with NBC for the games. (This broadcast contract was part of the negotiating that took place last year when the league was locked out of play for the entire season.) KSL was electing to show the Real Salt Lake game on tape delay instead. I sent several angry emails to KSL, along with some other people I know, and I got this email in response:
KSL Television will not be airing game #6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday, June 17th. KSL has a long-standing commitment with REAL Salt Lake to air a pre-determined number of soccer games. This contract was in place
long before NBC scheduled coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs. We have
worked closely with NBC to move the NHL to another station in the market and at this writing, NBC has not been able to come to an agreement with another station. We have offered to tape delay the game, but the NHL has declined that offer in favor of trying to find a cable outlet.

We understand that this decision does not sit well with our hockey fans, however we also recognize that we have a growing base of REAL Salt Lake fans that are as enthusiastic about the REAL game.

Michelle Kettle
Program Director
KSL Television
When we went home Friday night, we called our satellite provider and tried to see if there was a way to get the NBC feed originating from another city. No go, we were told. So then we started calling around to all the sports bars, seeing if they had a way to pick up the game on a PPV subscription. As we were making these calls, we were told that they were getting inundated with calls for the same thing. We then looked into a quick drive to Pocatello to see it there, as the local NBC affiliate was showing the game there. We decided not to do that, and were crest-fallen with the prospect of watching RSL get their heads handed to them on a meaningless tape delay game from Houston.

However, KSL was apparently getting slammed with calls from people who were trying to see the hockey game as well. So, at about 5 PM during the US Open golf broadcast, KSL sent a crawler across the screen noting the the hockey broadcast was going to be moved over to KSL digital 5-3. Good news for us, having HD, but not good for those without. However, the good news here was that the sports bars would now also be able to get the broadcast. That was the best possible news for them, because there are a lot of folks here who still don't have the digital equipment to see the broadcast in their home, and would be forced out of the house to a bar where they would be spending money to see the game.

So bottom line: we were finally able to grab the game in HD, at home, where we yelled and screamed the Oilers to a resounding 4-0 shutout, forcing Game 7 tonight.

In the Tribune this morning, there was a short blurb about a resounding number of people who called KSL in a very cranky mood because they were trying to find the game, but couldn't.

From the web this morning, some wonderfully eloquent writing from Scott Burnside at ESPN.com about the series, and the prospect of the Stanley Cup coming home again to Edmonton:

From boyhood dreams that become reality, to reality that becomes disappointment, this is the grand telescope of the game narrowed to its finest point. A single pinprick of light on a dark canvas -- Game 7.

Sixty minutes (or more, of course, pending overtime) to make enough plays collectively to earn a place in history. All of the hundreds of names inscribed on the side of the silver chalice are reminders for all time of players who did just that.

There are hundreds of names not on the Cup that could not. Hundreds of players who were somehow paralyzed by the enormity of the moment and became part of the great unremembered.

Monday night, the surging Edmonton Oilers and the reeling hometown Carolina Hurricanes will engage in one more battle of wills to determine on which side of that grand emotional ledger they will stand.

Certainly looking forward to this game, like I haven't looked forward to the final game of ANYTHING in a good long time. If you want to come over and watch the game with us, give me a call.



It's Friday, Therefore, RANDOMS For All...

Friday Randoms:

1. I was surfing around the channels a few days ago while waiting for my friend, Mr. Snooze to come over, and I happened upon Letterman. His guest was Paris Hilton. Friends, in case you were wondering, well, there are no words. Totally. Vapid. Blond. A waste of oxygen.

2. Saw this online the other day as well, thought I'd save it for Friday. It seems that the good folks in London don't want you to miss even one minute of their beautiful city. To that end, they have erected a two-way glass toidy on the street. You can see out, but no-one can see in. Can you say, "performance anxiety"????

3. The current contents of my 401K: one ski mask, one shotgun.

4. Robert Redford said this week that Democrats need to show more courage and stop backing down, stop moving to the center, start holding politicians accountable. Says he, “Democrats need to regain the courage that’s lost with political compromises over the last few years,” actor and environmental activist Robert Redford said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. “They’ve got to get it together. If they don’t, it will not only be a tragedy for them, but a tragedy for the country.”

5. I don't read the New York Post, but this week a saw a picture of the cover right after the US Forces in Iraq killed Al-Zarqwari. it should be noted that in Islmaic tradition, under the rules of Jhihad (however you spell it), the more violence you stir up, and the bigger you go down and leave this world, the more hurt you muster around you, the better your chances of gaining exaltation, and the more virgins will be waiting for you when you get there. So back to the cover: I wonder if the cover image ever goes to editorial review, or passes through a review process. Although humorous, I didn't think it was all that tasteful. I'm just sayin'.

6. In this month's Rolling Stone, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has a LENGTHY and extremely annotated expose on the last presidential election, and specifically exploring the possibility that it was "stolen" by the Republicans, and the religious right who were working polling places in the Ohio area. Read it here:

Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House. BY ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.

The account is riveting and supported by more than 200 footnotes (!) From the article:

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.

Worth a read, but it'll take a while. Probably took him two years to write it.


Oilers Stun Hurricanes in Game 5 - KSL TV To Show Real Game Instead of Game 6

The Edmonton Oilers pulled of a Herculean feat last night. They were down 3-1 in the best of 7 series for the league championship, and all hope was apparently lost for the lowly 8-seed team who lost their number one goalie to injury early in the series. They weren't supposed to be here anyway - they were supposed to be golfing by now.

But wait a minute - the Oilers took the Hurricanes to overtime in game five last night. That's SUDDEN-DEATH overtime. First one to score wins. If the Hurricanes score, they win the coveted prize, Lord Stanley's Cup. The Oilers wanted to leave it all on the ice, having no regrets, and that they did.

The Oilers scored on a turn-over, short-handed, on visitor ice, in the first overtime period to send the series to game six back on home ice in Edmonton. What an astonshingly gritty performance for a club that sports more historical significance than current relevancy. Up til now. Up til now, all momentum was with the Hurricanes. But now that's a different story. The Oilers can send it to a game seven with a win at home on Saturday night.

From the Edmonton Journal this morning:

And it would have ended were it not for the Edmonton Oilers' dogged determination, for the outstanding play of goaltender Jussi Markkanen, the dazzle of Ales Hemsky and, most of all, for the hands and head of Fernando Pisani.

Seconds after Steve Staios was ushered to the penalty box in overtime for tripping up Mark Recchi, Pisani broke in on Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward and fired in the goal at 3:31 that gave the Oilers a 4-3 win and kept their Stanley Cup dream alive.

It was the first short-handed overtime goal scored in a Stanley Cup final, and the first to stave off elimination for a team in any playoff round.

A quote from MSN this morning:

Now the momentum all shifts Edmonton's way. Weight hurt his right shoulder or arm in Game 5, who knows how bad. Defenseman Aaron Ward left for a period — there's something up with his shoulder too.

Edmonton put four past the steady Hurricanes goalie — one more than they had in the previous three games. And they're going home for Hockey Night in Canada — a Saturday night tilt that they just can't wait for up north.

Can the storylines get any better than this?

You like hockey? Then you're loving this Stanley Cup finals.

Well, in Salt Lake, if you like hockey, you're going to get to watch Real Salt Lake get their arses handed to them again on TV, rather than game six of the hockey series.

It seems that KSL, whose parent affiliate NBC is contracted with the NHL to show the games, will be showing the Real game on tape delay during that time period instead.

So, for the second day in a row, I pull out the "Golden WTF? Holy Grail Award", and shove it down KSL's throat.


BYU Professor Now "Former" Professor....

I would have to say that the writing was on the wall here... Announced this morning, BYU Philosophy professor Jeffrey Nielson has been informed that his teaching contract will not be renewed for September. This is in response to an Op/Ed piece that was published in the Salt Lake Tribune. I noted it here for its clear exposition of the problems with the LDS Church's POLITICAL position it took with regard to the proposed Constitutional amendment regarding gay marriage. There was some speculation on the web that the tribune piece was a "bait" piece, set out to attract BYU signatori, in hopes of flushing more holders of this opinion from the bushes among the staff at BYU.

It was not always this way for Nielson... he has been in good stead with the University, and has even received awards for work he authored regarding organizational leadership. His book "The Myth Of Leadership" garnered praise from his colleages as well as natinal critics.

Colleagues call him a good inquirer; he says the love of wisdom manifests itself in asking questions.

Now asking questions of leadership norms is giving Professor Jeffrey Nielsen a chance at two national book awards.

The BYU philosophy professor’s book, “The Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations,” has been nominated for the Independent Publisher’s Book Award and the Foreword Magazine Book Award. The awards will be presented Friday at a trade show in New York City.

The book states that modern leadership is rank-based, that is, focused on position in a hierarchy. This system wastes human potential and supports corruption and secrecy, Nielsen said.

“It’s that rank-based context that lead us to surrender our intelligence, our freedom and wisdom to the select few that make all the decisions,” he said. “Not only does it lead to more inefficient organizations, it also leads to less meaningful ones.”

BYU NewsNet ("Let There Be Light") [but not too much] - June 3, 2005

I have stated many times over several years, and here as well, that the Church has no business in the pursuit of offering a so-called rounded educational experience at BYU. That is not what that is. It's a private college, and that is great, it is what it is, but it is not a well-rounded education, and they should not be touting it as such. They also have no business in the NCAA, but that's another rant for another day.

For their efforts, BYU gets my weekly "Golden WTF Holy Grail Award", a new distinction that is implimented starting this week.

Incidentally, this Nielson is the guest on Radio West today on KUER at 11 AM.


Friday Randoms, Belated.

Why does Cinder need to squat and pee right in the middle of the flower garden?

I'm just sayin'....


Nice to have the water garden up and producing again. It seems like a long time before the water clears up and the lillies start to pop their heads out of the water. But it IS only the middle of June, though... Mega hat-tip to my lovely Val who has taken most of the responsibility to get in there and clear it out a few times this spring... I think I have only gotten wet in there once or twice... so far :)

Wierd things I (still) own:
1. The axle nut wrench for pulling the massive axle nut off the rear wheels of an old beetle. I sold the old convertible about three years ago.

2. Panasonic SVA DA-10 Digital Audio Tape recorder. A SWEET machine, but really, who needs that? This should be bronzed and engraved as "My Stupidest EBay Purchase Ever". I bought it because I used to use ones like it (I used the professional version every day - this one is the "consumer model" made by the same company) in a former career path.

3. A loupe. I used one of these in another lifetime as well. Used to check press materials as they come of an offset printing press.

And in other news, it seems that every election year, there is a "campaign song" that makes it to the top of the list for each party. You know what's coming.... wait for it, wait for it....

My suggestion for the campaign song for each party this time:

Republicans: We Didn't Start The Fire, Billy Joel
Democrats: Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, Willie Nelson

And speaking of Songs, this just in... I heard that there are a couple of radio stations here in Salt Lake that are refusing to play the Dixie Chicks' new album. Still. If you recall, the Chicks came out VERY vocally against the War and Bush, and stuff like that about three years ago, and Southern radio stations held events where you could take your Dixie Chicks CDS and have them burned or run over with a road paver, etc.

It has been my view for some time that the Dixie Chicks were about 3 years ahead of their time in the expression of their views where this was concerned. Given where we've been and where we seem to be going, and given the approval numbers of our current regime, I'm surprised this is still an issue. But then again, most of "those people" have problems stemming from the NASCAR fumes, and too much canned domestic beer.

So, bottom line, to those radio stations here: How long are you going to represent an ever decreasing single-digit attitude out there? Can you not think of anything more original? You are morons.

I'm just sayin'.


Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Mavs....

Now that Blogger has had brain surgery, and seems to have recovered, maybe I can get a post or two up here...

The Edmonton Oilers, my home team, for those who aren't aware, have been soundly flogged in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. The big blow, though, is that they lost game 1 AND the no. 1 Goalie, Dwayne Rolloson, to a torn ligament in his right knee as the result of a goal-side collision.

Replacement goalie Jussi Markanen didn't fair much better behind a team that lost 5-0 in the second game.

Good story here with good pictures...

Now the series returns home to the arena where the sweaters of some of the greatest hockey players ever to strap on a pair of skates hang: Gretzky, Kurri, Lowe, McTavish, Messier, etc.

The question now appears to be: can home ice bring a win in game 3? If not, it's pretty much over. There have only ever been two teams to climb back to win a seven game series in the Finals, being down 3-0 to start the series. Now it's a must-win game. The Oilers already are without home-ice advantage, and the hot goalie, and climbing back into the series would be a tough mark to make, down 3-0 after tomorrow night's game. So, we canucks, and those who care for us, wait with baited breath, and crossed fingers, downing a couple of Molsons in honor and just for good luck, hoping against hope that the Oilers can make it 2-1, winning a game in the Finals for the first since the Glory Years, when those hanging sweaters had bodies in them, and they swirled the rink like no other team had done prior.

Go Oilers. For Craig McTavish and the City of Edmonton, if not for yourselves. Go.

On a similar note, I watched most of the NBA finals' first game last night. The way Jason Terry was there to capitalize on every Heat mistake was impressive to me. The Mavs climbed and clawed their way out of a 10 point deficit to win the first game at home. No big deal. What's interesting to me is that the owner, Marc Cuban, took the time to write several blog entries before, during and right after the game. Interesting to read his game-time thoughts and processes. Say what you like about Marc Cuban, but you have to hand it to him for having passion, the excitement of a school-boy, and enthusiasm for the game. This will also be an interesting series.


Senate Gives Amendment the Thumbs Down

Reported on MSN earlier this morning - Senate Democrats, all of whom except Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska opposed the amendment, say the debate is a divisive political ploy.

“The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose state legalized gay marriage in 2003. “A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law.”

Hatch responded: “Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?”

Sen Hatch, is that a rhetorical question, or are you looking for an answer???


I Just Can't Help It: Paris Hilton To Release Rap CD

I resisted for several days, but I just can't contain my laughter any more.

It seems that Celebutante Paris Hilton has decided to release a rap CD. That's great.

In her words:

"The whole album, like, has so much different music 'n stuff on it, and like, I like all music, and I think that is just so, like, cool that they can put stuff on those shiny things that people can actually, like, hear, because, like, you can't really, like, SEE it or anything. And it's not like I only like pop or, like, only rock. I want to have like something for everybody, because I want everybody to, like, like me" Hilton said.

Hilton said she wrote the lyrics to seven of her songs. The article didn't say how many songs are on the album.

She said she had to overcome shyness to become a singer.

"I have like always had a voice and always known I could sing, but I was all, too shy to let it, like, come out. That nasty Bee-yotch Nicole said I had a great voice too, and I'm all like, hey, like why not give it a try? I've worked hard to overcome my shyness about my body, and I think I've got that all like figured out now, because I'm pretty much, like open for business 24/7, and like, I think that is sooo the hardest thing you can do, to like, sing in front of people, and it's so, like, hard to do from your back, which, like, I TOTALLY didn't, like, expect. When I finally let go and did it, I realized it is what I am most talented at and what I love to do the most," Hilton said. "It's like, the hills are, like, ALIVE!!"

The first single is called "Stars are Blind".

However, in this instance, I'm thinking the lucky ones are DEAF.


Sopranos: my analysis

12 episodes of foreplay; no warm towel, no happy ending.


(That's a Chris Isaak phraseology, for those wondering)

NBA Finals

A while ago, before the league MVP was announced, Mavericks owner Marc Cuban, whose blog I list in my links to the right, was beating the MVP drum for Dirk. And he was right.

His reasons at the time were simple: basically leading a team, through strong fundamental play, who LOST the league's MVP in the off-season, back to a winning position.

From Cuban's Blog on the issue:

A team loses last years [sic] MVP of the NBA.
- Then it loses its 2nd leading scorer to a division rival.

- Its coach is in his first year as an NBA coach.

- The team is successful in turning its approach to the game around 180 degrees from offense first, to defense first.

- Four of its top 8 players are injured for weeks or months at a time.

- This isnt [sic] a team of 4 all stars.

- This isnt [sic] a team of 2 all stars, like the teams in the standings ahead of it.

- this is a team of 1 All Star.
- This is a team that most sportswriters picked to be in the bottom half of the playoff hunt with some saying they would barely make the playoffs and could fall out with injuries. This is a team that no sportswriter I can think of, predicted would win anywhere near 60 games. This is a team that has clearly exceeded the expectations of everyone who follows the game.

So what happens to this team ?

It can set a record for most wins in franchise history this week, 61.

Besides winning 60 or more games, what has the leader of this team accomplished ?

He has hit game winning shots.
He has blocked game winning shots.
He has made passes to game winning shots.
He has been a leader on the court and off.
He has taken the responsibility to carry this team on his back.
He isnt [sic] (Cuban obvioulsy doesn't like the apostrophe) out doing endorsements, selling basketball videos, doing commercials, doing the interview circuit or promoting himself in any way. He just goes to work and busts his ass every single day.
He is a role model in every sense of the word, on the court and off.

There is no player more valuable to his team than Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk should be the MVP of the NBA.

I happen to agree - I did then, and I do now as well. I've liked Nowitski for a long time - I heard him do an interview a little while ago where he said that when he first showed up in Dallas, he was a tall dude who could make an outside jump shot. Now he's an animal, able to defend, take the ball inside, and most importantly, put a team on his back when it's necessary.

He scored 50 points the other night, and the rest of his line wasn't too shabby either.

This will be an interesting finals series, with two first time teams playing for the first time in a long time.

The Philosphical Viewpoint on The Marriage Amendment

In yesterday's Tribune, a BYU Philosophy professor named Jeffrey Nielsen expresses his thoughts on the proposed amendment here.

From that op/ed piece, there were two comments that stood out to me:

"Ultimately, any appeal to religious authority to create law is misplaced. Our Founding Fathers were inspired by their study of history to separate constitutional authority from religious belief, recognizing as they did the potential for tyranny in unchecked religious influence. In our pluralistic democracy, attempting to restrict an individual's rights and privileges based upon a religious claim is a dangerous rejection of our Founding Fathers' wise insight, and it should be unacceptable to all Americans."


God is not the author of incoherence or injustice, but we humans often are. We in the LDS Church must be more honest about our history, including the past and future practice of polygamy in our official doctrine. This will be difficult, for it will reveal that we have been less than truthful in our public relations, and it will show our inconsistency with current statements opposing gay marriage.
We can no longer afford to teach only what is useful and hope people won't discover what is true. In this day of easy Internet access, a person can find more real history of the LDS Church in 30 minutes online than the same person would in a lifetime studying approved church materials.
This is not right. Too many individuals have suffered a loss of faith when they were forced to choose between the truth or their family after innocently discovering the discrepancy between genuine history and the official story of the church."

The entire piece is worth the read, for sure. Wonder if he's going to get called down to the principal's office....


Constitutional Marriage Amendment? I Think Not

After "The Letter" was read in Church meetings all across the land this last Sunday, I have kept an eye out for increased discussion of the "Marriage amendment" to the Constitution on the blogs I tend to frequent.

A word about the mix of those blogs: I have a list of several, and upon analysis, it seems there is a mix of opinion there - highly Mormon-based, other religious-influenced blogs - Catholic, Jewish, political (both national and local), Fringe groups - like some individuals in the GLBT community, humor, sports, family members, other miscellaneous stuff...

Anyway, I've watched for traffic there talking about the proposed amendment, and in particular, the influence and opinion of these individuals who have a published position on the matter. I have not been disappointed either. There is every opinion and idea out there right now, and arguments both for and against a possible amendment, along with opinions and other ruminations regarding the specific letter that was read, and various interpretations of said letter.

When an organization, ANY organization, encourages its followers to contact their representatives on any issue for which it feels concerned, I often wonder what legislators think upon receipt of the various form letters, and "form contacts"... I wonder if they simply think, "well, here's a bunch of form letters from Sheeple who were told to contact me... that's great, pile them up over there..."

Seems to me, if one was truly serious about expressing their own opinions, support, ideas, opposition, whatever,
they would have already taken the time to make that contact and make their thoughts known. In reality I would hope that "sheeple letters" would almost be discounted in the grand scheme of things.

A quick overview, from my point of view, of what is being asked by supporters of SSM (Single Sex Marriage, and what is being asked by the movement to amend the US Constitution:

As legal citizens of the United States, there are some people who want the right to be joined in a Civil ceremony, thereby gaining access to the rights afforded to those who have had access to this Civil ceremony for decades already. There are more than 1000 legal benefits afforded to people who a "married" together as a civil partnership. Those not allowed access to that partnership do not have access to those rights.

Incidentally, in a 75 page letter from the Chariman of the House Judicuiary Committee, Henry Hyde outlines a total of 1049 Federal Laws that are impacted by "marriage" "spouse", "widow", etc., confirming an impact on individuals by a proposed amendment.

The movement to amend the constitution seeks to cement the denial of these rights to individuals who do not seek to conform to the standardized view of a "married couple". They seek to permanently deny access to these rights be permanently altering the Constitution to reflect that a "couple" or "partnership" should consist of a certain prescribed makeup, based upon a personal moral/religious rule.

All opposition to Civil Same-Sex Marriage comes down to it being contrary to one's religious/moral beliefs. Opponents try to justify their opposition by raising issues related to morals, religious beliefs, family values, etc.

In a nutshell that's it - granted, it's become GROSSLY overbaked in the public opinion arena, and MANY religious groups have become invested in the outcome because of a moral belief that affording these rights to all legal adult citizens somehow erodes society, and further, dilutes THEIR "marriage" or "partnership" to a point of being disrespected in the national public view. Somehow this has become a religious debate, rather than a social one, in my view.

While I am no constitutional scholar by any means, it seems to me that this would be the first amendment to DENY rights to citizens of the United States. (This is also the reason I feel this amendment will not be passed at the end of the day - it would need a 2/3rds majority of state support - and I don't think that will make it.)

I'm going to base my focus here on the LDS perspective, because I've seen
SO MANY posts that basically say, well, I'll leave it up the leadership to tell me what to do - that's good enough for me, can't go wrong there...

So, back to the Church's statements:

Frankly, I'm offended that the Church would stand up and tell its members to get out there and contact their legislators in support of this amendment. Here's why: for decades now, the Church has held the position of
not interfering with political issues - at least that is what the policies state. To whit:

1) Bruce R McConkie (Former member of the Church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles), states in his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, that "Wherever one dominant church has controlled a government, or a government (as in communistic nations) has dictated or proscribed systems of worship, men have been denied that agency without which they cannot work out their salvation." (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:601.)

2) The 2000/2001 Priesthood/Relief Society manual stated - "(W)e favor: The absolute separation of church and state; No domination of the state by the church; No church interference with the functions of the state; No state interference with the functions of the church, or with the free exercise of religion; The absolute freedom of the individual from the domination of ecclesiastical authority in political affairs; The equality of all churches before the law." (Joseph F. Smith, Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church, pg. 125)

These statements clearly note that the legal/secular aspects of issues should be rendered unto Caesar (the government) and the religious aspects, if any, should be rendered unto God via religion. The legal/secular aspects of marriage (eligibility, rights, responsibilities, etc..) should be determined by the government and be free from sectarian interference. Neither the Church nor the State should be able to trespass on the other's domain. Such trespasses infringe upon agency, per Elder McConkie.

3) Elder McConkie goes on further quoting scripture: D&C 134:4 - "We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others..."” It is anathema to God to force our subjective moral standards on others thereby denying them their rights and liberties.

Withholding the legal benefits offered by Caesar harms gay couples, their children and therefore society at large. Government officials specifically authorized to perform marriages should be required under law to perform marriages for gays and lesbians in the same way they are required to perform them for any other couple. This protects the Equal Protection and equal rights of all.

Gay men and lesbian couples should be allowed, via
Civil Same-Sex Marriage, the the legal benefits which heterosexual couples are already allowed.

Attempts to outlaw Civil Same-Sex Marriage by religious groups in general, and by the LDS Church specifically, are clearly contrary to the teachings of the scriptures, both ancient and modern (in the case of the LDS Church). Opposing Civil Same-Sex Marriage is contrary to the official teachings of the Church. Those doing so are guilty of "steadying the ark" and are clearly violating the teachings of the scriptures and in need of repentance.

Churches are private organizations with First Amendment protections and as such must be allowed to act as they see fit. Those churches not wanting to perform marriages for gays and lesbians must be free to follow their beliefs and not be forced to perform such services. Those churches that have no problem with marrying gays and lesbians should be allowed to do so and have such marriages be equally valid and binding before the law as any other marriage.

The Church teaches that the scriptures are superior to the teachings of all leaders, including the president of the Church. Joseph Smith himself once said:

We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves. (Joseph Smith - Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595)

(Personal note - I was once told in a training meeting by a Stake President that if 10% is good, 12% is better, and I was expected, with the rest of the bishoprics in the Stake, to cough up 12%, and meet the challenge to be "better". That was my final straw.)

So, it is the position of the church that Scripture supersedes all utterances by the Brethren, on any matter. In light of this, there are still MANY out there this week, struggling with their own position, but have said in posts that they will just go with the "Q12+FP" (Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency), as they must be infallible.

Infallible? Brigham Young said that there were people on the moon and sun. Joseph Fielding Smith said that God would never permit man to travel to the moon or send spaceships to other planets. Obviously no reasonable person would say that the current occupants of the building that faces South Temple are infallible. Why would the Church change doctrine regarding Blacks and the Priesthood? Because it was wrong policy.

Let's say this goes amendment goes through - and then the church comes back in 20 or 30 years, and says, "well, we're changing our minds on this one too..." Therefore, is it right to blindly put one's trust in every word uttered therefrom? We have all been blessed with the ability to discern and make decisions for ourselves. It is our
CIVIC responsibility to educate ourselves as to the issues, and make a decision in harmony with all the factors present in the given scenario. Placing the responsibility for your decisions on someone else, thereby relieving you of the burden of deciding for yourself, if I can recall properly, was "somebody else's plan".

The bottom line for me is this: The right to CIVIL partnerships should be accessible to all legal citizens of the US. All religious concerns should be set aside. Those who believe that providing this access to all citizens would somehow dilute the (relatively young) "Institution of Marriage" should sit back down and stop giving themselves more credit than they deserve. Consider:

In 2004, a study, conducted by Ellison Research (which has done several Clergy Studies) among a representative sample of 695 Protestant church ministers nationwide, asked pastors of several denominations to identify the three strongest threats to families in their own community.

The three most commonly named threats were divorce (listed as one of the top three by 43% of all ministers), negative influences from the media (38%), and materialism (36%). These were followed by absentee fathers (24%) and families that lack a stay-at-home parent (22%). The rest of the list included:

* Co-habitation before marriage (18%)
* Pornography (17%)
* Morality not being taught in schools (14%)
* Poverty, unemployment, and/or a poor economy (13%)
* Parental alcohol use/abuse (12%)
* Parental drug use/abuse (11%)
* Drug use/abuse among teens or children (8%)
* Teen sexual involvement/activity (8%)
* Alcohol use/abuse among teens or children (6%)
* Adultery (5%)
* Poor schools or quality of education (4%)
* Teen pregnancy (2%)
* Sexual predators or sexual abuse (1%)
* The expense of child care (1%)
* Other issues (12%)

This was reported in the secular media as well as the Christian media such as Agape Press.

Please note that homosexuals, much less gay marriage, didn't even make it into the top 20 threats to families per the clergy. Gays are not a threat to families.
There are few external things that force themselves on families that can't be resisted by otherwise strong families. Most of the threats to the family are self inflicted as the above list shows. Families aren't being attacked from the outside so much as they are decaying from the inside out. We shouldn't be looking outside our windows for supposed threats to our families. We need to look inwardly at ourselves and our own efforts and shortcomings to build strong families.

No opponent of Civil Same-Sex Marriage has
EVER been able to explain to my satisfaction how giving gays full and equal civil rights will in ANY way harm their own marriages, make them weaker, or discourage their own children from marrying and establishing strong families of their own. Giving marriage to gays will be like giving women and Blacks the right to vote. The latter strengthened the institution of Democracy and the former will likewise strengthen the institution of marriage. Just as opposing giving Blacks and women the right to vote harms Democracy, denying gays the right to marriage harms the institution of marriage.

If the Church doesn't want these people in the Church, well, that's fine - that's easy. But to deny them CIVIL rights, based on that religious judgment, is harsh, cruel, unlawful, and uncalled for.


Sir Charles, Politician?

I was watching the Dallas Mavericks game the other night on TNT, and got a total kick out of Charles Barkley and his ever-expanding coast-line.... he's gotten so big that his lips have apparently become unmanageable for him.

He just glosses over the lip-consonants, believing that we all can still understand him. And this, coupled with his unique and liberal use of some form of Ebonics, made it so that I only caught about every fourth word. The more exercised he gets (pun intended), the more nebulous his speech becomes.

Seems to me that if he is planning a second (third) career in the political arena, as some speculate - including himself, that he needs to do something about that. Or perhaps one would hope that his constituency would choose someone who speaks a reasonably coherent and somewhat recognizable dialect of the King's English...

I'm just sayin'.....