Saturday, December 13, 2008

Video Games

I've been unable to post recently since I've spent every night this past week trying to finish Liberal Fascism. I had waited for 6 months or so to get it from the library and by the time I got it there were 14 or so people on the waiting list after me. The library doesn't let you renew a book when there are people waiting, so I had to get through it as soon as possible.

Earlier this week we visited some friends of ours and got to play their Wii. We have an X-Box ourselves but have been stuck playing the same games for a couple of years now. We should have known when we bought a Microsoft product that they would stop supporting it as soon as they had a replacement for it. And sure enough, as soon as X-Box 360 came out they stopped making original X-Box games. I can't help but to notice that they are still making PlayStation 2 versions of new games (e.g., Lego Batman) in addition to PlayStation 3 versions, which suggests that Sony actually cares about their customers (or at least about making a good impression).

Anyway, as nifty as the new Wii games were, my wife and I actually spent more time playing Super Mario Brothers 3. Nintendo has made hundreds of old video game titles available for download at a fairly reasonable price. Many of these, such as Mario 3, are among our favorite games from childhood. What I found amazing was that, although I haven't played Mario 3 for years, I still remembered when and where you had to jump, when enemies would pop out at you, what trajectory cannon balls would take, etc. I think nearly all of this was on a subconscious level; I wasn't actively thinking about any of it (I guess that's what's expected when you play a video game, anyway).

I think we'll be getting a Wii once we've got that credit card debt paid off... and when the stores actually have them in stock, of course. I'm sure that there will be plenty of Wiis in the stores once the Wii 2 is released.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Boycotting the Mormons

The other day I read an article on American Thinker, one of my favorite political websites, that was commenting on how various gay marriage proponents were reacting to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., the Mormon Church) and its participation in California's Proposition 8 (I wrote about this not too long ago in "Attacking the Church").

The article presents several comments that the author found on various pro-gay marriage and liberal websites (e.g., the ubiquitous "Daily Kos"). Among my favorites are these:

"I personally won't do business with any Marriott hotels, as they are owned by Mormons."

"Businesses owned by Mormons, who tithe to the Church, should also be boycotted."

"Now do not tip, hire, or do any business with a Mormon. 10% of their income goes to the church that worked tirelessly to take the civil rights away from people... I asked my waiter if he were a Mormon, when he said he was I did not tip him, telling him, I was sorry but I can not support bigotry."

"Universely, we need to avoid putting any more money into the Church's coffers by boycotting all companies where a Mormon church member holds an officer's position or a large majority interest."

"Any business, Mormon or otherwise, can take the simple step of posting a sign on the premises urging the repeal of Prop 8, or make a public statement against it."

Well, as long as we're asking our waiters if they're Mormons so we don't tip them, and as long as we're going to be boycotting any Mormon-owned stores or companies (unless they put up the requisite sign, that is), and as long as we're using the government to harass the Church for its participation in the Prop 8 vote, then we might as well start marking those dirty Mormons so we can identify who it is that "take[s] the civil rights away from people". I think I've come up with an appropriate patch for these Enemies of the People to wear:

Remember, "There is a war cry being sounded in gay communities all across America - Boycott Mormon owned businesses. This is a war cry that should be heeded."

Now, if the patch is too subtle, let us review a well-known scenario:

Imagine that an unpopular religious minority, which has been persecuted almost since its inception, is blamed for any number of evils in society. The influence this group has is greatly exaggerated, but they make an easy target so they are the ones who get the blame. This minority is supposedly plotting to oppress the people by secretly controlling the government, which they can accomplish due to a disproportionate amount of wealth and/or influence. A "war" must be waged against these enemies in order for the people to regain their rights. Since these enemies are using their wealth to control society, boycotts are the obvious way to initially attack them. Threats of violence soon follow.

This is how the Nazis addressed the "Jewish Question" early on in 1933. And now that's how some gay rights activists and leftists in California have decided to take care of the "Mormon Question" in 2008 (apparently without knowing who their notorious predecessors are). We can only hope that, unlike the Nazi party, these activists never get the power of the state behind them (although they are trying to do so). This is why so-called "Hate Speech" laws terrify me. In Canada and in Europe they've been used to silence clergy speaking out against homosexuality, as well as to stop other non-politically correct speech.

The threats of violence have already started: there have been threatening protests outside of LDS temples, vandalism of churches, and at least one case of a burning Book of Mormon left outside of a church's doorstep.

This has clearly gone beyond politics and has become mindless retribution on behalf of certain leftists. No amount of protesting or boycotting of Mormons or of the Church will overturn Proposition 8. Only a new proposition or a federal court decision can nullify Prop 8. Even if these groups could utterly destroy the Church (which is what many of them apparently want to do), the results of the vote would remain the same. If every Mormon 'went back to Utah' and stayed out of Californian politics, the pro-traditional marriage supporters would still outnumber the pro-gay marriage voters.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cheating in School

Commentary on directed me to an article on cheating in school and youth ethics. The numbers presented by the article were not encouraging:

"_Cheating in school is rampant and getting worse. Sixty-four percent of students cheated on a test in the past year and 38 percent did so two or more times, up from 60 percent and 35 percent in a 2006 survey.

"_Thirty-six percent said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33 percent in 2004.

"_Forty-two percent said they sometimes lie to save money — 49 percent of the boys and 36 percent of the girls.

"Despite such responses, 93 percent of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent affirmed that 'when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.'"

And what do some educators give as the reason why these students are cheating?

"The competition is greater, the pressures on kids have increased dramatically... They have opportunities their predecessors didn't have (to cheat). The temptation is greater."


"This generation is leading incredibly busy lives — involved in athletics, clubs, so many with part-time jobs, and — for seniors — an incredibly demanding and anxiety-producing college search."

That's a pretty lame excuse. Can we honestly say, in this day of declining student performance and educational standards, that today's kids have it harder than students in the past? What about this finding:

"The survey found that 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls — 30 percent overall — acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year. One-fifth said they stole something from a friend; 23 percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative."

I think it's a lot more likely that many parents and schools are utterly failing to instill honesty and integrity into kids. What about students' 'stressful' lives and 'overly demanding academic standards' is driving them to lie to save money, steal from friends and family, or shoplift? The cheating is obviously a symptom of a larger problem; our society as a whole, and our youth in particular, are becoming unethical and unprincipled (e.g., rampant fraud is believed to be one of the major causes of the current mortgage crisis).

It's too bad our modern culture kicked God and traditional morality out as "old fashioned" and "oppressive"; we could use some of that morality right about now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Attacking the Church

It's rare that two of my interests, politics and religion, directly impinge on each other. However, my church's involvement in California's Proposition 8 has produced quite a bit of controversy. This morning Fox News had an article regarding attacks on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by various pro-gay marriage proponents. This is not news to anybody here in Idaho, nor to my family members living in San Diego, California.

I think it's hilarious that one of the most vicious groups is called "Californians Against Hate". How have these "Californians Against Hate" responded to losing the Prop 8 vote? Why, by spewing hate towards the Mormons. Protests against the Church have gone as far as vandalism and threats against Church members. If I may make a political observation; it seems to me that more conservative individuals and organizations use democratic methods to achieve their aims whereas liberals (is there any doubt which political party these protesters overwhelmingly support?) often resort to name-calling, loud and obnoxious protesting (of a church, no less), and constantly appeal to the least democratic element of our government (i.e., the courts) to achieve their goals.

I like the Church's response to this attempt at intimidation (which is what it clearly is):
Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues. People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal. Efforts to force citizens out of public discussion should be deplored by people of goodwill everywhere.
This and other issues over the years indicate that the so-called civil libertarians on the left only want rights for those with whom they agree and who share their agenda, while all those religious types should just shut up.


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