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President #24 - Grover Cleveland [2nd term] Dollar Nov. 15th, 2012 @ 02:43 pm
Today the Grover Cleveland [2nd term] Presidential dollar was released.
Don't bother asking at your local bank -- you can only get them from the U.S. Mint, or from your friendly local coin dealer.

Wikipedia says:
Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. He was the winner of the popular vote for president three times - in 1884, 1888, and 1892 - and was the only Democrat elected to the presidency in the era of Republican political domination that lasted from 1861 to 1913.

Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism and subsidies to business, farmers or veterans. His battles for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era.[1] Cleveland won praise for his honesty, independence, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism.[2] Cleveland relentlessly fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism. Indeed, as a reformer his prestige was so strong that the reform wing of the Republican Party, called "Mugwumps", largely bolted the GOP ticket and swung to his support in 1884.[3]

Update on the Panasonic DMR-ES20 DVD recorder Aug. 15th, 2012 @ 10:38 am
Yesterday I unpacked my faithful ES20 DVD recorder after moving back to Colorado, and it was unable to power up. The display keeps scrolling " oooooo" which means that it is in recovery mode.

We packed it up for the move and left a disc inside. That is a no-no, which according to the manual can cause damage to both the disc and the recorder.

I was able to remove the disc by removing the cover from the machine and also from the carriage, but it still won't leave the recovery mode.

Now I'm wondering what I should replace it with. Despite the popularity of Blu-Ray movies, I have not seen any Blu-Ray recorders. I would like to get a new DVD recorder that will at least play Blu-Ray discs, though ...

The worth of human life Aug. 5th, 2012 @ 09:23 am
Last spring the shooting death of a young black man wearing a hoodie hit the news in a big way. While some people exploited this event to score political points, I am saddened by the loss of every precious human life.

The prophet Alma posed the following question to teach us about the infinite value that God places upon every human life: “Is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?” (Alma 39:17)
See: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/39.17?lang=eng#16

Recently a young man murdered twelve people and injured many more in a crowded theatre. Are not their souls as precious unto God?

Last year the daughter of an old acquaintance was killed by a drunk driver. Is not her soul as precious unto God?

Tens of thousands more people were killed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Are not their souls as precious?

Two years ago an earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti. Are not their souls as precious?

Every day the lives of thousands of unborn children are ended before they can take their first breath of life. Are not their souls as precious?

Do we really value the life of all people, or only the ones who look like us? As individuals, and as a people, we each need to examine ourselves, and consider the words of our creator, who said:

“At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.”
(Genesis 9:5)

Alma 36: From this week's reading for Sunday School Jul. 29th, 2012 @ 10:00 am
Chapter 36 of Alma in the Book of Mormon is a great example of the ancient literary form of Chiasmus.
This chapter, taken from the record of Alma the Younger's advice to his eldest son Helaman, is a parallel narrative, and the central part (section H) is his witness that his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ gave him forgiveness from his sins.

Surrounding this central idea, Alma gives his son various bits of counsel and advice. The parallel structure emphasizes this advice, because it is repeated in reverse order. It also forms a 'frame' around his testimony of Christ, which is introduced by the story of his conversion.

Alma's conversion in sections F and G are particularly interesting, because instead of repeating the same idea twice, they involve contrasting ideas in Alma's mind -- before and after his conversion.

In section F he contrasts his horror at meeting God in his unclean state with his longing to see him after being born again.

In section G he contrasts his pain of conscience under a conviction of his guilt, with the exceeding joy that he felt after he had obtained mercy from Jesus Christ.

See: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=72&chapid=865
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiasmus

A - 1 MY son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.
    B - 2 I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.
      C - 3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.
        D - 4 And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God.
          E - 5 Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself;
          6 For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.
          7 And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.
          8 But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
          9 And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
          10 And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.
          11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.
            F - 12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
            13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
            14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
            15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
              G - 16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
              17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins,
                H - behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
                H - 18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
              G - 19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
              20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
              21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
            F - 22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.
          E - 23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.
          24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
          25 Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors;
          26 For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God,
        D - and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God.
      C - 27 And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.
      28 And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory;
    B - yea, and I will praise him forever, for he has brought our fathers out of Egypt, and he has swallowed up the Egyptians in the Red Sea; and he led them by his power into the promised land; yea, and he has delivered them out of bondage and captivity from time to time.
    29 Yea, and he has also brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem; and he has also, by his everlasting power, delivered them out of bondage and captivity, from time to time even down to the present day; and I have always retained in remembrance their captivity; yea, and ye also ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done, their captivity.
A - 30 But behold, my son, this is not all; for ye ought to know as I do know, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word.

(Book of Mormon | Alma 36:1 - 30)

History of the English Language, 2nd Edition Jul. 21st, 2012 @ 10:56 am
Professor Seth LererHistory of the English Language, 2nd Edition
Seth Lerer
Ph.D., University of Chicago
University of California, San Diego

This week I finished this audio course, which my wife bought at least three years ago. (Her impression is that Professor Lerer is 'full of himself'.) While he may be a bit pompous, I learned a lot from this course.
Did you know that the word 'silly' once meant to be touched by God's spirit?
Pedants and linguists are both descriptive and proscriptive; they not only document language use, but they often attempt to improve it. (Dictionaries often mark certain words as 'low' or 'vulgar'.)
And too many other things to mention now...
Other entries
» "World Philosophy" by Prof. Kathleen Higgins
Last week I finished the audio book "World Philosophy" by Prof. Kathleen Higgins

This Teaching Company course #465 seems to be discontinued, since I don't see it on their web page any more.

My impression of this course is that it is like drinking from a fire hose.
Professor Higgins covers the ideas of so many different cultures that it is hard to keep them all straight by the end of the 24 lectures.

Included are: African thought, American Indian & Meso-American thinking, Latin America the Brahmanist and Buddhist schools of Indian thought, and the Confucian and Daoist schools of Chinese and Japanese thought.
» 22nd President: Grover Cleveland (1st term)
Grover Cleveland--the first Democrat elected after the Civil War--is the only president to be honored on TWO different coins in this series, because he served two non-consecutive terms.
He also appeared on the one-thousand dollar bill, which is no longer in circulation. (Bills over $100 were discontinued and removed from circulation in 1969.)

He was also the only President married in the White House; to 21-year-old Frances Folsom in June 1886.

Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: "Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . "

In December 1887 he called on Congress to reduce high protective tariffs. Told that he had given Republicans an effective issue for the campaign of 1888, he retorted, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?" But Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he won a larger popular majority than the Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.

See more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/grovercleveland22
» Government and Economic Uncertainty
Comment in http://talk-politics.livejournal.com/1458907.html?thread=117115867#t117115867

You make a valid point about people not wanting to start new ventures or make big purchases or investments in times of uncertainty. Everyone knows this intuitively. Just look how quickly individuals reduced their borrowing and started saving more, starting in 2008.

This suggests that the government should NOT be 'trying to boost' the economy. Every new regulation, tax, or law that affects the economy creates a changing environment and brings unintended consequences.

It's like trying to play a football game, and the referees keep changing the rules between each play. The government should NOT be playing favorites and changing the rules, but should enforce uniform rules on every player through the entire game.

While creating more regulations and incentives is seen as 'doing SOMETHING' by lawmakers, the media, and the public -- their effect is to slow the economy. The best thing for government to do is to do NOTHING, or else to repeal past incentives and laws.

» Philosophy of Religion
Can humans know whether the claim "God exists" is true or not?

Philosophy of Religion
Taught By Professor James Hall, Ph.D.,
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Richmond

This week I finished the audio course "Philosophy of Religion,", which is the most interesting study of knowledge and belief, since "Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It". In fact, since this course focuses on religion instead of science, it is like the opposite side of the same coin.

This is not a course in "Religious Philosophy" but takes a philosophical look at what Dr. Hall calls "ethical monotheism". He explores the traditional proofs that have been offered for the existence of God; how they work, and how they fail:
  • Ontological - appeal to reason alone
  • Cosmological - the first cause of creation
  • Teleological - argument from design
  • Divine encounter - direct revelation

Next he explores "The Problem of Evil". This is not an argument against the existence of God, just against against the existence of a god who deserves our worship. He also explores various "theodicies" which have been advanced to answer this problem.
  • There is no problem of evil because the world is perfect.
  • Evil is simply the absence of good.
  • Apparent evil exists to serve a larger good: God's purposes are inscrutable to us, and evil is only an apparition caused by our ignorance.
  • Evil done by humans is a necessary consequence of free will, and autonomy given us by God. Without the opportunity for evil, there could also be no opportunity for virtue.
  • Those who suffer do so because they are being punished or elevated by suffering.

In the end he concludes all of these arguments with a "Scottish verdict": not proved.

He also explores the concepts of transcendence, paradigms, post-modernism and language games.

He discusses the conflict within faith communities between the "prophetic" (repent and change) and the "priestly" (obey unchanging truth) as well as the influence of moral myths and stories. Dr. Hall feels that these stories can elevate humanity, whether they are true or not.

This is a challenging course, one which I want to listen to again.
» Travails of the Tablet
A couple of months ago I purchased a Sylvania SYNET7LP-DS for $90 at Big Lots.
Perhaps I was envious of my wife, who likes to read e-books on her Kindle. And I have a large collection of ebooks in pdf format. So I just wanted a portable ebook reader.

This tablet contains an Arm-11 CPU running Android 2.2 at 1 GHZ. It has a 7" resistive touch color screen. It comes with about a dozen standard apps. This is the third tablet that I bought at Big Lots, having returned the other two as not very good, even for a low-cost product. (I was tempted to return this one and get the 10" Sylvania tablet, but I'd passed the 30-day return window.)

The Droid e-reader that came pre-installed was worthless--it wouldn't open most of my ebooks. Once I learned how to access the app store, I downloaded a free PDF viewer which works better. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have a Google play store app, which is the source of the LDS apps that I want to download.

The included web browser works well, and is quite fast. I even watched some videos, but this makes the battery go dead after less than an hour's use. I hope to learn more about the Android platform over time.
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