We've got a gun. In fact, we've got two. That's OK, man, 'cause we love God.



Easier than packing up all the books

10209 comments

Hey! We've moved to an actual, honest-to-goodness Wordpress blog:

unofficialmanifesto.com

Update your links, your feeds, or whatever you cool kids use.


B for Bitchmove

3241 comments

I finally saw V for Vendetta last week. I was going to put some thoughts up, but decided to wait until D-Train had a chance to see it as well. We went Monday night- so now there are no excuses not to blog about it. There are plenty of reviews already, so this isn’t a review; it’s just some thoughts that include spoilers. So if you do want to see it and haven’t yet don’t read further.

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Was it heavy handed? No question. Does that ruin the movie? I certainly didn’t think so.

Despite liking V and having no problem seeing him as a hero rather than just a terrorist, despite buying in to the transformation of Evey as central to the story- I’ve got some problems with the whole conceptual framework and the philosophy therein. More than any other aspect of the movie, the transformation of Evey leaves me conflicted.

Evey, shortly after being taken captive by V in order to save her from Creedy’s interrogation and torture, tells V “My father once told me that artists use lies to show the truth, while politicians use lies to cover it.” V agrees, and to some extent so do I. But, the problem then becomes, everyone thinks that they are the artists.

We all need a scary story, a compelling narrative to pull people around to our point of view. And the issues are so important that we feel justified in doing things we may not like as long as all works out in the end. Soon, we all become like Creedy, who V describes as a vicious man for whom the ends always justify the means. They lie to ensure stability and we lie to disrupt it. But either way it’s a lie. When we allow the ends to justify the means what happens when we win? We succeed and then suddenly we take the place of the oppressors- simply telling different lies for different policy outcomes, but nonetheless lying in order to stay in power and keep others out of it.

V claimed that what they did to him was monstrous. And as Evey said- when they did it they created a monster. Do we need some monsters on the right side of things to fight against the monsters opposing us? What V did to Evey was horrible, but Evey’s transformation was positive. Can we lie for the greater good? Scripture seems to claim we can. So if we accept a construct of moral relativism based upon competing moral goods how do we make that judgment call without ourselves becoming monsters?


Final Four Bloggernacle Bracketology

127 comments

First, a word about the men's tournament. I have never seen worse brackets winning a contest. This is not a knock on the participants (indeed, about half beat the snot out of me), but a recognition that college basketball is now more competitive than ever top to bottom. This year is not an aberration, but a demonstration of the great numbers of athletes around the country. Look forward to some great hoops in coming years!

Mens: Very, very simple. Only J. Crawford and Pris can even score points anymore. Here's the scoop:

IF UCLA and Florida win and Florida wins the title - J. Crawford takes the prize.

IF LSU and Florida win and Florida wins the title - Pris and J. Crawford tie for the win.

IF Florida does not win the title and LSU wins in the semifinal - Pris wins.

IF Florida does not win the title and LSU loses to UCLA - Matt Evans wins.

Easiest math I ever did. I'll do a complete bracket breakdown after both tournaments are over for EVERY entrant!

Womens: A more competitive tournament than some, but still an ACC tournament semifinal with LSU in the mix. Three #1s and a #2. Pretty predictable, but many of us slipped.

Watt Mahoun has friends in low places.

D-Train is eliminated by virtue of only being able to score if Mike scores exactly as much (UNC winning).

Here's the easy part: Chad has a 110 point lead on Mike. Mike can only score from UNC wins. Chad can only score from Duke wins. Semifinal games are worth 120. Mike picked a good margin to lose by in the early rounds.

If Duke goes farther than UNC, then Chad wins. If UNC goes farther, Mike wins. Easy money. Not that my third place bracket means much, but my money is on Carolina. They're the only team in the women's tournament that has consistently established itself (LSU has had first half struggles, Maryland has looked occasionally inconsistent, especially defending, and Duke was absolutely shackled by UConn and should have lost). My money is on Ivory Latta to grin her way to a national title for Carolina blue, 82-72 over the Tigers from Baton Rouge.

Men's pick: who the heck knows? UCLA, 'cause nobody seems to buy in. That would have worked so far.......


The Status of Vice

896 comments

California Town, to smokers: "We don't take kindly to your kind..."

Texas law-enforcement, to drinkers: "Put the glass down and slowly back away."

My head, to the wall: BANG BANG BANG

About nine months ago, I wrote here about my city's impending smoking ban. My thoughts haven't changed: smoking bans are still incredibly misguided. [Since the ban started in July, there was a movement to repeal it, failing in the city council by a two votes; caused bars to lose about 30% of their business; and a vote that passed to allow smoking in "cigar bars."]

Now Calabasas, California has said that not only can't you smoke in public buildings, restaurants, bars, etc.--you can't even smoke outside, in some cases even if you own the property:

Smoking is prohibited in all public places in the City of Calabasas where other persons can be exposed to second-hand smoke. These places include indoor and outdoor businesses, hotels, parks, apartment common areas, restaurants and bars where people can be reasonably expected to congregate or meet. (site)


The FAQ is full of other goodies like: "...select an area at least 20 feet away from any path of travel, doorway, or place where people congregate. Remember that if someone complains, you will need to select a new location, or refrain from smoking."

I can understand--at least I think I can understand--why some believe this is the right thing to do. It's still stupid. But not as stupid as this: "Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk..." And to continue:

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

"We feel that the only way we're going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this," she said.

"There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss."


Drunk driving is stupid. Jumping off of balconies is stupid sober or drunk. Walking out into traffic? Stupid. Should they be punishable? Yes. In the case of drunk driving: Hell Yes.

If I'm sitting at a bar, drinking, intoxicated, but not fighting anyone, not driving, just sitting there, maybe watching the game...uh, why am I being arrested? Drinking should be done responsibly. Irresponsible drinking should be punished accordingly.

I can understand having a dry county (but, like smoking bans: stupid) but going into a bar, which, by definition serves alcohol, and arresting people guilty only of drinking...

Which is why I'm posting this here. I am a drinker and I enjoy going to the bars occasionally. I recognize that I might just be clouded on this issue and can't really understand that this is truly a brilliant idea. I think I gotta assume that there is someone out there that thinks this is a good thing, so I'm asking for some help explaining it to me. But I might be kinda slow, 'cause of all the brain cells I've killed drinking and banging my head against the wall.

But, one more thing: You know, I really hate children. They're loud, obnoxious, annoying and they stink. They bother me. They negatively affect my health both physically (children are disease carriers plus) and mentally (must... lower... blood... pressure). Children may be the future, but they are not the present. I am not the only one that feels this way. So, if you must have children, can you please select an area at least 20 feet away from any path of travel, doorway, or place where people congregate. And remember that if someone complains, you will need to take your children to a new location, or refrain from having them with you.


A quick word on the Jeppson case

1386 comments

A few thoughts here. If you haven't listened to the podcast at LDSLF, please do. It's a time commitment, but it's very interesting.

1) I don't really see the point in kicking Jeppson out of the Church. He's obviously not living the commandments as I understand them or as the Church does, but he's willing to acknowledge that. He's not demanding a temple recommend or a calling. In essence, he's willing to be a disfellowshipped member that wants to retain his cultural connection and worship as he believes. I don't see how having Jeppson around hurts anything and the Church certainly can't be harmed by letting him stay.

2) It's unfortunate that Jeppson is becoming a "test case". John Dehlin talked about this in the podcast and I just can't emphasize enough how much of a shame it is that a man's connection to the Church is being defined in terms of a watershed political event in Mormonism. I fault nobody (Jeppson, Dehlin, the Church, the stake president, or Barbara Turner) for this, but it should be emphasized that Jeppson seems like quite a nice man and doesn't deserve to have his life and Church membership defined in this way.

3) My initial impression was that Jeppson was kind of out there for being surprised by this. However, assuming Jeppson is telling the truth in the podcast, it does seem that his local leaders offered him assurances in the past which are being violated now. I'm not saying that the new stake president doesn't have the right to move on this, but that Jeppson is right to feel that a bait and switch happened here.

4) If one is willing to look outside of the homosexuality issue here, the real question is whether this is a "big tent" or "little tent" church. A big tent Church would acknowledge varying degrees of agreement with doctrine and tolerate more "sin". A little tent Church would insist on more conformity and move quickly on these disciplinary issues. I'm not sure which is better or which we are. I do think, though, that our primary purpose as an organization should be to bring people closer to Christ. I don't personally believe that Jeppson's same sex marriage will accomplish that. However, I do know that we can have no good impact on him (or he on us) if we kick him out. He's not a child molester, thief, or Korihor trying to hurt anyone or lead anyone astray. He's just a guy that sees things differently than us. Unless he starts trying to convince anyone else to start participating in homosexual activity, I see no reason to give him the boot.

5) As the discussion at Exponent II noted, we really do cherry pick sins for disciplinary councils. There are lots of sins that are pretty big deals. Admittedly, it is generally sexual sin, apostasy, or serious criminal activity that tends to provoke these things, and so it's consistent in that sense. But we don't convene these councils over the Word of Wisdom, tithing, or an appalling lack of charity. I guess I just don't see that excommunication can really help anyone grow. I know that people come back after the ex. I know that it might be a wakeup call for some people. But why not just fellowship and show real concern if we want to change somebody?

I might post something more detailed, but I'm too tired right now. Good night.


On the Elite Eight (And Eliminations!)

1419 comments

Oh, wow, what a round. Duke...Gonzaga...West Virginia...Boston College...Washington...Georgetown...y'all played a heckuva game, and a call here or an inch there would have done it.

How big was the Duke lose? There is only one person who can profit from the LSU/Texas match-up. In addition, only three players still have their final two in contention.

It's late enough that we can start mathematically eliminating players that cannot when the pool. Looking at the remaining picks and teams, only seven of the nineteen entrants can win. So, on with the show:

1st -- Matt Evans (630). Evans had the highest third round, correctly picking five of eight. Clearly in the drivers seat, it would take a big surprise team to unseat him. If Memphis loses, he'll be sitting really pretty. In fact, if my math is correct, if Memphis, Nova, and LSU all lose, Evans will have the thing locked up. [Edit -- Well, almost.]

T-2nd -- Pris (590). The key has been and still is LSU. If LSU loses, Pris loses. The longer LSU wins, the longer Pris wins. Simple as that.

T-2nd -- E. Russell / E. Nielson (590). Despite being tied for second and only forty points back, both Russell and Nielson are mathematically eliminated from winning. The best they can do is T-2nd, since they both have the same remaining picks.

T-5th -- Kage (580). A good run, but mathematically eliminated.

T-5th -- Brett (580). Get this: Brett can still win despite having only one team left. If Memphis beats UCLA,, UConn loses to GM, LSU loses to Texas, Florida beats Nova, AND THEN George Mason beats Florida, AND Texas beats Memphis, Brett will win it all. Stranger things have happened.

7th -- Mike (570). The key is Memphis. If Memphis loses, Mike loses. The longer Memphis wins, the longer Mike wins. Simple as that.

8th -- the D-Train (560). To win, D-Train needs Nova to win it all and Memphis to lose to LSU/Texas.

T-9th -- Marian / Mohr / M. Smith (530). All have been mathematically eliminated.

12th -- B. Atkinson (500). To win, Bill needs Nova to win it all and Memphis to beat LSU/Texas.

13th through 17th Katie, Rusty, Chad Too, M. Elggren, JNS/RT...You have been eliminated.

T-Last -- John C. (430). Can still pull it off if and only if Florida beats Texas or UCLA in the finals. [Edit -- if UConn beats GM, then John C. and Evans would tie for first.]

T-Last - Kaimi (430). Eliminated.


Bracket Update and Preview

4075 comments

Here's your Bloggernacle bracket update through the round of 32 and preview of tonight's games.

T-1st - E. Nielson (470). Riding high after the best 1st round and second best second round scores, the bracket is Nielson's to lose. Or, more accurately, Minneapolis' to win. Picking the Buckeyes to take that quarter, he's in the unenviable position of getting shanked since nearly everyone else has one of the remaining four in the Final Four. He's guaranteed to lose two of this round's games, but doesn't have any glaring weakness except Ohio State.

T-1st - Pris (470). Pris had the best second round, but question marks surround nearly ever pick remaining. Even though Pris and Nielson have the lead by a whopping 40 points, Pris is already out two final four teams. Additionally, he picks the upset in every one of tonight's games. The key pick is LSU over Duke. A huge stretch, but an excellent value pick--if LSU tops, expect Pris to stay in contention until the finals. If not, then his place will fall faster than the President's approval ratings.

T-3rd - Matt Evans (430). Evans has the highest possible score remaining with 7 of his final 8 still in the hunt. (The other being UNC, which everyone lost on.) The key to his winning will be Minneapolis, as he successfully picked G'Town to prevail against Ohio State. If they can upset Florida tomorrow, watch out.

T-3rd - E. Russell (430). Ditto nearly everything in last paragraph. He's also in excellent position, with Minneapolis being key. If Florida wins and Boston College can upset Nova, don't be surprised if Russell is the new leader.

And the Bottom Three: K. Wenger (350), John C. (350), JNS/RT (300). Just goes to show you academics don't translate into real world endeavors. Or at least Bracket Prediction. After being a front runner in the previous rounds, John C. got utterly decimated, having only four teams in the Sweet Not-So-Sweet Sixteen (including none in Oakland and Washington). He'll move way up, though, if Florida can somehow win the championship. Kaimi's bracket looks better, but has less future, because the remaining picks are conventional. And JNS/RT...well, let's just be happy that no money is on this.

Tonight's Match-Ups

7:10e -- Duke vs. LSU. Is JJ going to collapse in the tournament like the last three years? Can SEC player of the year "Big Baby" Davis be as Michael and slay the Big Blue Demon? Will Billy Packer and the other commentators breakdown on air if Duke loses? I don't know about you, but I really want to find out.

7:27e -- Memphis vs. Bradley. Memphis was widely considered the weakest #1 but has looked brilliant the last two games. Bradley is the strongest Cinderella left after easily dispatching Kansas and Pitt. Can they pull the upset tonight? Unlikely, but I'm rooting for it.

9:40e -- Texas vs. West Virginia. Why you should root for WV: Pittsnogle is the greatest name, ever. You know he's married, right? See--family values. His wife has been known to wear a t-shirt that says, "I Got Pittsnogled" with a downward arrow. That's kinda cool. Just sayin'.

9:57e -- UCLA vs. Gonzaga. Can we take a vote here: is the return of the pornstache to the mainstream a good or a bad thing? Morrison doesn't pull it off, but Jake Plummer does, so it seems a wash.


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