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Archive for October, 2011

I am a public school teacher, but I choose not to hate or envy those whose hard work and innovation have brought them greater wealth than I have.  They have taken nothing from me.  My life is the result of my choices.  Each of us is responsible for dealing with and improving our own circumstances.

My house is only worth 1/3 of what I’m paying for it, but I will not scapegoat a small group of people whose work is related to New York’s financial district.  I will not associate the illegal malfeasance of a very few with the wealthy population in general–such prejudiced thinking has always led to atrocities.  Many of our country’s economic problems were caused by the reckless buying and poor preparation among us in the middle class, anyway.  It’s time we grew up and admitted it.

I’ve had difficulty paying bills on time and providing for my family, but I do not feel entitled to demand that wealthier people are obligated to bail me out.  This is a free country, and we believe in private property.

I have had student loans in the five figures.  I paid them off by budgeting and sacrificing.  Nobody forced me to take out those loans, and nobody else was responsible for paying them back.

I pay no income taxes, yet I benefit from public services.  I will not have the gall to impose upon the wealthy a convenient vision of what they “must” provide for others.  There is no such thing as an objective “fair share.”

I am the 99%, but I support the 1%.

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Let’s imagine that there are no billionaires.  None of the world’s super rich exist, and no one else has taken their places.

How exactly would people in the American middle class have more wealth if, say, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet or Rupert Murdoch had never been born?

Without the major industrialists , innovators, and, yes, capitalists of modern times, wouldn’t we all in fact be very much poorer?

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It is wrong to hate minorities and to pick on people who are different from you, unless the minority you’re picking on is the rich.  Then, apparently, it’s an important civic responsibility to publicly harass them.  If you aren’t kind enough to a politically correct group, you’re a bigot and a bully.  If you openly slander and threaten the rich, you’re an activist.

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A fascinating and wonderful article ran in the Guardian last week.  The author eloquently ruminates over the parallel evolution of literature and music in the 19th century, and laments a perceived divergence since the 20th.  His descriptions of the intertwined nature of the two media are divine:

To read Molly Bloom’s great gush of resigned affirmation with which Ulysses ends and then set it beside the equally self-actualising fatalism in which the final adagio movement of Mahler’s ninth symphony (marked on the score “very slowly and held back”) culminates, is to feel yourself in the presence of artistic twins whose birth is separated by only a few years.

That’s beautiful. 

However, I’m inclined to disagree with his thesis.  I don’t think novels stagnated with modernism.  The author does a disservice not only to postmodernism, which took literature to its boundaries far more so than the atonal experiments of modern classical music have done, but he seems to neglect anything in recent literature that doesn’t fall neatly into his categories.  If literature stopped evolving with, as he asserts, Joyce’s Ulysses, then what are we to make of, for example, the magic realism of Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude?  Isn’t that a rich literary experiment representing a bold break with the status quo? 

Literary fiction also seems far more responsive to the nuances of genre than serious music is, though I admit I’m far less literate in music than in prose.  Still, what modern symphonies can equal, say, the quality and variety represented by the range between Slaughterhouse-Five, Lonesome Dove, and Herzog

And this is to say nothing of the comic novel.  Where in the musical pantheon is the equivalent landmark to A Confederacy of Dunces

This is not to belittle the greatness of music, including contemporary music, but I still feel that this article fails to do the depth of innovation in recent literature justice.

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When I heard yet another guest expert on the radio yesterday say that the Occupy movement was a reaction to “the one percent” having gone too far and now needing correction, I wondered:

When in history have trendy young progressives ever NOT demanded that the wealthy fork over more of their earnings so the Robin Hoods could run things their way?  I mean, this is hardly a new development, is it?  Some sympathetic liberals might try to opine that the distribution of wealth is more disproportionate right now that at some other recent times, but even if so, that’s beside my point.  My point is that the self-righteous preening of the Occupiers–that they have been pushed too far by a despotic oligarchy–seems undermined by the fact that their ilk have always, everywhere, seemed to say the same thing. 

If anyone could offer a historical example to the contrary–a group of like-minded would-be protestors saying that the economic situation in their time and place was all hunky dory–I’d be intrigued to see it.

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I Miss Fake Shakes

I used to love getting a big, gross, cold shake at any fast food place–a thick, syrupy monster of cheap chocolatey slop.  But these days they seem to be even more rare than a competent fielder on the Brewers. 

First I noticed Jack in the Box make the transition.  The big beloved cardboard cups were swapped out for little Starbucks-like plastic cups, and half the shake was now just whipped cream.  Then McDonalds–McDonalds!  Home of the crappiest and most wonderful shakes in the world!–followed suit.  Now I don’t know who even carries big old fake shakes any more.  Burger King?  Del Taco?  *shudder* Arby’s?  Yes, I would even go there.

This may well be the most petty thing I’ve ever ranted about, but I can’t impress upon you seriously enough the intensity of my emotion about this.  I loved those nasty old things, and I cannot stand how much I loathe their inferior replacements.  I can’t wait for our dumb society to get over this infatuation with dainty desserts so maybe I can go back to slurping down those enormous cartons of gooey, gluey, toxic frozen sludge.  A piece of our heritage is gone, people. 

 

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The hit TV show Glee is giving away $1,000,000 to needy school music programs around the country.  As of today, only one high school in Las Vegas is competing–mine. 

Anyone can go to this web site and vote for our school.  You can even keep voting every new day–so it’s a lot like a real political race!  :)  Right now, Las Vegas Academy only has about 2500 votes, and the school in the lead has over 14,000, so we really need to catch up. 

Please keep voting for us, and share this on Facebook, if you can.  Share it any way you can!  Our students are extremely talented, ambitious, and passionate about music.  Please help! 

http://gleegiveanote.com/vote_details.php?id=39

 

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  • There is, of course, a major strain of thought that connects the Occupy Wall Street crowd and the Tea Party.  Though largely representing opposing sides of the political spectrum, they each have at their core an aversion to corporatism–not necessarily corporations themselves (any OWS protestor who says otherwise is likely a hypocrite), but the political culture of favors, bailouts, pork deals, corporate welfare, etc.  I’d like to see more of a conversation building on this common ground.

 

  • The biggest superficial difference between the two movements seems to be the penchant for violent rhetoric among OWS.  I’m not aware of any actual instances of violence, verbal or otherwise, at tea party rallies, but umpteen such cases have been recorded and broadcasted at OWS protests.  Despite the reputation that the tea party has been stereotyped with in much of the mainstream media as being full of racists and militia-types, one must remember how many would-be infiltrators have been caught and exposed as purposely trying to create that impression (remember the Oregon middle school teacher who foolishly admitted online that he was planning one such act).  I don’t know if OWS has any similar problem, but certainly I haven’t heard of any, and no rowdy hooligans at these rallies seem to be getting alienated by the rest of the crowd, as they were at Tea Party rallies.  Pictures like these, including one of an OWS protester defecating on a police car (warning: graphic), appear pretty authentic, unfortunately.  Those who are complaining about all the arrests accompanying OWS protests might do well to admit that some of these protesters simply aren’t living up to the non-violent heritage of civil disobedience. 

 

  • Notice the difference in rhetorical tones, also.  (more…)

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Sage Advice

One way to keep from obsessing about a stressful area of life is to keep every aspect of life hectic and demanding.  That way, anxious energy can be equally distributed, and no single area can dominate–multiple sources of stress will thin out the nerves! 

(This was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.)

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And now, your moment of zen:

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Here is a screen shot from an article posted on the Las Vegas Sun web site on Monday.  It’s a picture of beauty contest winners.  Notice how skinny they are.  These girls aren’t just thin, they’re practically skeletal. 

Picking on the appearance of small women can be just as hurtful as insulting larger women, but I have to wonder if the physiques of the women in this picture are natural.  The one in the middle looks so anorexic that I’m honestly worried about her.  All five of them have their ribs sticking out quite prominently, but this poor lady almost looks like she’s sick. 

They won a beauty contest?  Their faces are all pretty, sure, but I can’t imagine how much punishment they must have put themselves through to emaciate their bodies so much.  Call me crazy, but my vision of female beauty includes curves, substance, and health. 

 

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A follow-up to a post a couple of weeks ago, about a Bugs Bunny version of Wagnerian opera.  Here, we see his take on Rossini:

Incidentally, ever notice that these old Warner Bros. cartoons all had musical names? 

  • Looney Tunes
  • Merrie Melodies
  • Silly Symphonies

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Seeking answers and offering gratitude are great things to do in prayer.  However, as often as people of faith focus on bearing testimony, witnessing, or sharing their faith with others, we may not think to offer gratitude for this to God. 

For a singular spiritual experience, try this: bear your testimony in prayer.  Tell God what things you know to be true by the power of the Spirit, and thank Him for those things and for the gift of knowing those things.  I expect that our loving Father, the source of all these blessings, appreciates hearing us say these things directly. 

 

 

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In connection with my calling at church to work with our ward’s young men, I’ve been working through their Duty to God program.  For the sharing aspect of the “Understand Doctrine” section in the unit for deacons, I put together this outline of notes, which I’ll share by posting here:

1. definition

2. a. teachings of prophets

b. scriptures

3. a personal example

b. personal feelings

Restoration of the Priesthood

1. From True to the Faith:  May 15, 1829. Having read about baptism for the remission of sins as they worked on the translation of the gold plates, Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery went to a secluded area to inquire of the Lord concerning the matter. There, on the banks of the Susquehanna River near Harmony, Pennsylvania, they received the answer to their prayer. John the Baptist, a resurrected being, came to them as “a messenger from heaven … in a cloud of light.” He conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood. Then, in obedience to his instructions, Joseph and Oliver baptized each other and ordained each other to the Aaronic Priesthood. (See Joseph Smith—History 1:68–72; see also D&C 13.)

May 1829. The ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. (See D&C 128:20.)

2. a. From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith:  Prophets who held priesthood keys in ancient times have joined in bringing about the work of the last dispensation.

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The copy guy at work gave me a few passes to this weekend’s Renaissance Festival.  Took the family yesterday.  Watched the parrot show.  Held the birds.  Saw many an entertaining costume.  Ate some Chinese food, ironically.  Saw some juggling.  Admired some knives.  Bought a sword.  Listened to some bagpipes and Celtic folk rock.  Watched the jousting show.  A good time was had by all. 

Reminded of this song and movie:

 

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