Ye Olde Swimming Hole

current, insightful, yet nostalgic

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Relief

I donated to the Red Cross tonight after watching the coverage of the hurricane's destruction in the Gulf Coast. I figured I needed to do something. We've witnessed some major destruction in the past couple of years with 9/11, the tsunami and now this. Of course there have been worse events in the past, but we have television and the internet that brings it all home. I think it will be a long time before New Orleans recovers, if it ever does.

Bush's personal columnists at The New York Times

It's not often that a president gets his own columnists at one of the nation's most respected newspapers. But if you follow the NY Times, you'll notice Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, Bob Bernick and Frank Rich rarely write a column that does not refer to the president of the United States. I stopped reading their columns months ago because they're so predictable and redundant that it's totally unnecessary to follow them.

I have to admit, I did read one of Dowd's recent columns on the president taking extrodinarily long vacations while the nation is in the mist of problems. I have to agree with her on that one. I'm curious as to what these four will write about when Bush is out of office.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Arrogance or Earned Understanding?

A few days ago, Victor Navasky, editor of the liberal magazine The Nation, was interview on The News Hour. Navasky has recently written a book on the importance of opinion. One of his statements during the interview stuck out to me. He said, "you've got to be able to state your opposition's point of view better than he or she states it him or herself."

Is that really possible? That statement implies that you fully understand your opposition's point of view, or position, better than they do. Or course he could be saying you can just articulate their position better than they can, but I don't think that's was he's saying. Navasky's comment assumes that he understands the conservative position better than conservatives do and therefore is in a position to refute it.

One of the problems with this idea is that you cannot fully understand another person's point of view until you've walked in their shoes. You can try to understand it, by finding out all you can about them and imagining what their life is like, but until you've lived by the principles by which they are living, you cannot fully understand them.

On the Way Home

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When will Hollywood get the message?

A New York Times story today reported a slump in movie going and how the movie industry is beginning to worry. Perhaps if Hollywood put out more decent movies, more of us would spend the $10 to see them in the theater. There's a dearth of quality entertainment out there right now. The whole industry needs to be revived by up and coming talent that has actual skills and doesn't need to appeal to the lowest common denominators to sell.

Monday, August 22, 2005

President Bush Honors Veterans

President Bush spoke to Veterans of Foreign Wars during their convention in Salt Lake City today. I think there are few groups in this country (if any) who deserve to be honored than those who put their lives on the line to protect this country and our freedoms. (It's unfortunate that the mayor of Salt Lake, Rocky Anderson, in a strange move for a mayor, organized a protest to Pres. Bush's visit, stealing the much-deserved praise for the veterans and focusing the attention of the media on himself.)

Bush spoke about the importance of seeing the war in Iraq through and defeating terrorism. This war has become incredibly controversial and support for it is grower weeker by the week. It's hard to know how to feel about it becomes the grounds for which we entered it, weapons of mass destruction, proved to be uncredible. However, good has come from it. Millions of people have been liberated from a dictator and we are proving to the world that we will not tolerate terrorism. Shortly after 9/11 one of the terrorists, perhaps Osama, foolishly said that American soldiers were too weak to fight street by street battle. We have proved that that is false. Of course proving your military strength is no grounds for war, but liberating a country is. I admire Bush for his steadfastness in sticking to his policies. If we stick with this, I think it will prove to be a success.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

We're heating up

Following a trip to Alaska, Senator's Clinton and McCain raised a strong warning about increasing global warming. It's seems this subject has recently gone from a heated debate to a an undisputed fact that the Earth is warming. The scary thing is that there's a compounding effect to it, which seems to suggest it will get warmer faster. It's hard to predict what the results of this will be. Could there be a bright side to the Earth getting warmer? It doesn't seem like there is, but who knows. It is impossible to predict all of the implications. The more we learn about the Earth, the more fragile it seems. However, it's comforting to know that it has a Creator, although that does not free us from being good stewards.

Once Again

Out with a bang

Hunter Thompson's last wish of having his ashes shot out of a canon will be fulfilled tonight as family and friends look on. I had never heard of Hunter Thompson before his suicide death. His death has received significant media coverage and he's been portrayed as a hero. I don't see it that way though. This is a man who took his life while he was speaking to a family member on the phone. A friend put it into perspective when he contrasted Hunter Thompson with the pope. The pope suffered greatly during his last few years, but up until the last hours of his life, he tried to serve others with what strength he had. Hunter Thompson gave up when it got too hard and took his own life.

Who knows how many years he had left, but it's certain that he could have used his remaining years (perhaps decades) to serve others, regardless of the personal pain he felt, instead of selfishly throwing it away. Our lives are the product of countless people who labor to help us become what we are. In return, we make a contribution to the world. It's not our job to decide when we are finished making our contribution.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bush's vacation

I'm a supporter of George Bush. I admire his determination to see things through and his ability to ignore criticism and stick with his principles. I also believe the country is well served by having a president who is a God-fearing man. However, I've been troubled lately by the reports of his five-week vacation, which is one of the longest in history for a president of the United States. I understand that being a president is difficult and he needs time to rest, but five weeks just seems too long. I have to admit that I agree with some of the critics on the left (although I'm conservative) that it's frustrating to see the chief executive take so much time off when the country is facing so many problems. We placed our trust in him by giving him our vote and I wish he would work harder to serve us. Sure it's difficult, but one who aspires to that office cannot expect to take the same breaks that would be afforded the chief executive of just another company. The president should waste and wear out his life in service to his countrymen.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings

Today we said goodbye to Peter Jennings, someone who, although we don't know, we've spent many hours with. He narrated many of the events of this world in a way that gave us assurance and hope for the future. He had class and his professionalism and work ethic are to be admired by all. We will miss him and the news business will find it hard to replace him.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Nostalgia comes quickly

Nostalgia is a strange condition. Longing for the past often keeps us from fully enjoying the present. Anticipating the future can also have the same effect. The cure to both conditions is to learn to savor every moment and know that life will bring many more great moments in the future. If we can learn to appreciate and be grateful to God for the little things in life, we will be better able to fully soak in life's goodness.

Perhaps part of nostalgia comes from knowing we'll never pass this way again in the identical circumstances. We age, people move on, conditions change, etc. That's where the hope of eternal life comes in. There are much greater things in store for us beyond this life. The key is to live this one well to help us better prepare for the next one.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Thursday, August 04, 2005

The ACLU just slipped

Best of the Web today pointed to an article about the ACLU suing a school district because it expelled a kid who posted threatening song lyrics on the Internet. What was most interesting about this case was that the ACLU said the school district violated the kid's parents rights to control his upbringing. Wow! That will come back to bite the ACLU. While I think parents absolutely have a right to control the upbringing of their children, the ACLU will run into several cases where they are fighting against this very thing.

The ACLU is also suing New York over its subway bags searches, which are intended to prevent terrorism. That's all we need in this very difficult battle against terrorism, the ACLU added additional costs and creating restrictions that impede the fight. They foolishly don't realize that instead of protecting freedom, they are weakening it. We have a right to be protected and to elect government leaders who make decisions to ensure that protection. The ACLU is taking away that right by meddling in more and more issues. I feel less free everytime I hear of a story of ACLU meddling. We would be much better off as a country if the organization did not exist.

Imagine if you're a suicide bomber planning an attack in New York and you hear this news. You think "great!" this will be much easier now. Who's side are they on?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Time to get serious about fighting smut

The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) editorialized today about a house bill that would put a heavy tax on Internet porn. The editorial basically said while we need to start fighting this problem, a tax is not the way to do it. They said the most effective way would be requiring these sites to have their own suffix. This seems to be a viable solution and one that would at least protect those who do not want to see that stuff and child safe.

However, the problem is much broader than that. There needs to be a general awareness and intensive information campaign to warn the public of the dangers of pornography. I fear that the effects of this plague will cause incalcuable problems that are impossible to anticipate. People need to know that their lives (and the lives of some around them) could be ruined by this addiction. I think there are few (perhaps no) problems we are currently facing that are so serious.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Miracle in Toronto!

What great news! It's amazing that none of over 300 passengers was killed in today's plane crash. As I followed the initial reports this afternoon, commentators were relieved to hear that at least a few people had survived. I don't think anyone expected this.

Let's poll the citizen scientists

I blogged about CNN's Quick Polls once before, here's another meaningless question from today. CNN is wondering whether "the spacewalk to repair Discovery's protruding tile gap filler is :

Too risky"

Of course NASA has a team of the most qualified, educated and experienced experts working on the problem, but perhaps we should make the decision depending on how the public votes. This is another example of a ridiculous "Quick vote" question. How would the general public know if this precedure is "necessary" or "too risky?" We're talking about walking in space which 99.99% of the public know nothing about and an even lower percentage have never done.

What is troublesome here is that the media use of these polls and their coverage can create public opinion that may pressure NASA (and other organizations) unduly. Let the experts do their jobs and stick to what you know.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Terror vs. alcohol

There is no question that we needed an immediate and thorough response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I was living in Manhattan at the time and witnessed some of the results first hand and was glad the president responded by waging war and creating the department of homeland security.

It's interesting though that the response to other preventable causes of death that are not condensed into one act or as dramatic are not viewed as quite important. An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor today discussed how the NCAA must not support alcohol consumption by supporting beer advertisers. The article stated alcohol consumption by college students results in about 1,400 deaths, 500,000 injuries, 600,000 assaults, and 70,000 sexual assaults or date rapes. Now imagine if a terrorist attack caused that much damage. We would immediately respond.

I am by no means saying we should weaken our response to terrorism, I'm just saying there are other preventable causes of harm that need to be addressed by policy makers who have the guts to take on politically charged issues, such as alcohol.