Friday, May 16, 2008

Sandy Pride

Sandy is a city just south of Salt Lake City. Every year for the last 20+ years they have had a "Sandy Pride" day, which affords its citizens the opportunity to do service projects and city-wide cleanup. Tomorrow is the Sandy Pride day for 2008. Some of the activities scheduled include tree planting, edging headstones at the cemetary, removing trash from empty lots, repairing hiking trails, cleaning and repairing parks, painting houses, and a fundraiser for the prevention of child abuse.

The Salt Lake City Weekly is a free, weekly newspaper I frequently found scattered on the floor of buses, outside of classrooms, and under desks at the University of Utah. By sheer force of volume I read a number of issues - that is, until I realized the articles were written by these guys:

What does Sandy Pride Day have to do with City Weekly, you ask? Well, City Weekly has a blog, and this blog linked to a competing newspaper story (The Trib, so at least it wasn't whitebread icky Deseret News) about Sandy Pride. Now, City Weekly, being the serious journalists you see above, wrote the following:
Of course, Sandy pride is about pride in the bland sameness that is Sandy, not about queer diversity. But still! Wouldn't it be fun to show up and plant trees carrying rainbow flags?

Imagine the raised eyebrows that would cause! If anybody does this, please send photos.
Yes please, more photos like the one above. That is absolutely what is needed at the service projects painting the elderly's houses, fixing parks and trails, beautifying cemeteries, and raising money to prevent child abuse.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Washington Post Says Democrats Are Racist

Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause:
"The contrast between the large, adoring crowds Obama draws at public events and the gritty street-level work to win votes is stark. The candidate is largely insulated from the mean-spiritedness that some of his foot soldiers deal with away from the media spotlight.

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: "It wasn't pretty." She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly vote for Obama and concluded: "Hang that darky from a tree!"

Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, said she, too, came across "a lot of racism" when campaigning for Obama in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: "White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people."

Kobe, We Love You!

Member that time when you hurt your back, and, um, you still played? That was awesome.

Member that time when, um, you like, won the game? That wasn't you? Stupid! I'm so stupid!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stop The Presses, Jazz Owner Doesn't Watch Games on Sunday!!

This received some press last week leading up to Sunday's game, and it left me slightly amused at all the attention. But here's a pretty good interview with Jazz owner Larry Miller covering a range of topics and conducted while Miller drove around instead of watching the game:

On the next coach of the Jazz:
Miller says Sloan wants to coach for at least another season, maybe more. But when he does call it quits, longtime Jazz assistant Phil Johnson will get first crack at the job. That's written in stone.

If Johnson takes a pass, Miller is likely to make a run at John Stockton. They've discussed the job in the past, but Stockton's interest in the position -- or, more correctly, in coaching in the NBA -- has cooled. For now.
On when the Jazz will change their name:
"I'll change our name right after the Lakers change theirs,"
(The name "Jazz" came with the team when they moved to SL from New Orleans, just like how the name "Lakers" came to LA when the team moved from Minneapolis. What, you thought there were lots of lakes in Los Angeles?)

He doesn't listen on the radio either:
Miller could probably listen to the game without incurring the wrath of God. Same goes for watching it on TV. After all, there are actual Mormons at the game.

"I'm not trying to be holier than thou," he says. "I've got plenty of faults. But the radio … TV, we're talking shades of gray. It would be hard for me to compromise it."

Miller has a set of primo tickets for every game. He called five Mormon friends to see if they wanted his Game 4 seats.

"You going?" each one asked.

Miller said no.

"Then I'm not going."

Guilt. A powerful thing.

Jazz - Lakers Tied, Williams A Stud

Well it's about time! From J.A. Adande on ESPN's Daily Dime:
Deron Williams forced himself back into the NBA conversation just as much as the Jazz clawed their way back into this series with the Lakers over the weekend.

Actually, the second part of that sentence depended on the first. For a young team seeking consistent efforts in these playoffs, Williams is turning into the Jazz's most reliable option. Carlos Boozer had his best game of the postseason Friday night, then regressed to a 5-for-15 shooting performance Sunday. Williams followed a solid effort in Game 3 with an even better Game 4, a 123-115 overtime win, the central recurring character in the two Jazz victories that evened these Western Conference semifinals at 2-2.

So while Chris Paul has the accolades, the Sports Illustrated covers and all that, Williams has coaxed his team to the conference finals once, and now is halfway to another. Just saying.

And Williams was named SUNDAY'S BEST for good measure:
Deron Williams, Jazz guard: Goes for 29 points on 9-for-13 shooting along with 14 assists in Utah's Game 4 win over the Lakers. Sinks all eight of his free throws, too.

Deron Williams had a truly great regular season and has had an outstanding postseason but is the only star to not receive much attention. While dispatching the Rockets in round 1, most of the talk was about Tracy McGrady's failings instead of Deron's role in winning. Anyone watching these games realizes that Deron does so many things for this team. He's an all-around talent. I am admittedly biased, but I think Deron Williams is a better point guard than Chris Paul, and it frustrates me that Paul gets all the attention. It's kinda nice to see him and his team get worked over a bit by the Spurs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Peter Singer: Your Friend and Neighbor

Peter Singer wants me to kill my uncle. In fact, Mr. Singer would have already murdered his mother, but his sister won't let him. Peter Singer is the man who said this:
"Simply killing an infant is never equivalent to killing a person."
He's also the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. That's right, he's Princeton's ethics professor. And he believes that infants and handicapped people aren't really people. They may be humans, but that doesn't qualify them for his definition of a "person".

When I wrote "A Philosophical Study of Abortion" I commented on what seems to me to be the fundamental question of abortion - what makes a person a person? This is critical to the abortion question because most people intuitively know that killing an innocent person is wrong. Therefore, in an attempt to rationalize abortion, academics have parsed out new definitions of personhood. Singer's definition goes like this:
Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons.
As I noted in "A Philosophical Study of Abortion," each of these definitions has led down the dangerous road of excluding people like my seriously disabled uncle, or Peter Singer's Alzheimer's-stricken mother, or newborn babies. Most people go down this road, see the ending, and recoil at its baseness. But not Professor Singer.
"There appear to be only two possibilities: oppose abortion or allow infanticide."
Singer chooses infanticide.

There are two thought processes in regards to "thinkers" like Professor Singer. One is to dismiss him outright as a crank and a nutjob. Outlandish views like his make it easy to condemn our liberal, secular society and leave it at that. Another way is to dismiss him as "just" a philosopher, an academic, with no real say on policy or society.

Both reactions would be wrong.

First of all, as far as the world is concerned, he's not just a nutjob. He's a nutjob with a very important position with one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It lends he and his views credibility, as well as gives him a platform to teach the world his view of personhood.

Secondly, although he is "just" an academic with little influence on society, his views are far more commonplace than one might think. Consider for instance the fact that he partly came to his conclusions based on not wanting children or their parents to suffer with physical or mental handicaps. These parents could simply abort the fetus or kill the infant and then produce another child that will likely by "normal". The intention is to ease suffering, to reduce pain.

Now compare that with this often-used quote:
"We women know when it is or is not the right time to bring a child into the world...We act out of compassion when we wait to have a child until the time when we can give it the kind of life every child deserves. We act out of love when we consider what we would be taking away from the child or children we already have if we brought another child into our family now...We women know the truth: That given certain circumstances, abortion is the most morally responsible and loving choice we can make."

-Jean Stewart Berg and Anne Baker
Don't you get it? It's all about love, people. It's compassionate to end human life because that life might suffer or cause others to suffer.

Shortly after I wrote "A Philosophical Study of Abortion", I had numerous discussions and debates with various people about abortion. All of the arguments Singer uses were used by everyday people in these debates. I wrote about them here. From the "compassionate choice" argument, to being a "fully formed human", to a fetus being aware of itself and its own life - all of these are variations of Singer's arguments and all of them were used by non-nutjobs and non-academics.

Peter Singer's view is out there folks. People I interact with fairly regularly have espoused these views in some form or another. Commenters on this blog like Democracy Lover and Geoffrey have used them. Utah's own Green Jenni used them over and over again.

While it may be shocking to read Peter Singer's opinions, it's even more shocking to see them repeated by those in my own community.

"I do not think it is always wrong to kill an innocent human being."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Donate to Help Myanmar

I've previously written about some of the worldwide charitable work done by the LDS Church, and now via is another opportunity to be of service:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints extends its sympathy and assistance to the citizens of Myanmar following the recent devastating cyclone.

Church leadership has approved funds to purchase large quantities of tarps, blankets, basic food, medical equipment, and especially clean drinking water for those in need. All items are being purchased in Myanmar or in nearby countries. The Church is partnering with Atlanta-based CARE International, a well-known non-governmental organization, to distribute the supplies.

Church humanitarian representatives will continue to monitor and assess the situation.

Donate to the Emergency Response Fund.

Monday, May 05, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

...Gets your luggage checked on the way out of town (and in Spanish for good measure):

Read this doc on Scribd: TSA