Friday, December 30, 2005

Top 5 stories in '05

Peggy Noonan apes former columnist William Safire's end of year review of the top stories.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Top 10 Tech Transformations

J.D. Lasica lists his top 10 tech transformations of 2005.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Clean top

After talking with longtime friend, Ralph Schindler, at his daughter's wedding last week (last time I saw him -- about 10 years ago -- he was bald; now he shaves his head), I decided to take the plunge and shave mine. Did the deed Christmas Eve, before going to Cindy's sister's for the evening. No one noticed.

Ralph told me about dozens of websites on the subject. This is the one I have bookmarked.

It was pathetic how little hair was on the floor after Cindy and the kids took turns buzzing me down to stubble. Cindy had resisted my taking off the remainder of my tonsure. But she (and I) took courage with other friends who have gone from hairpiece or little remaining hair to "totality". I followed Ralph's advice and got some shaving oil. I used a hot wet towel to thoroughly wet my scalp. Then I rubbed in several drops of shaving oil. Then I applied shaving gel. I used a Mach III Turbo razor, and it all went quite easily with no nicks or cuts.

Haven't carried a comb for years. Now no need to shampoo. Now I look like Vin Diesel.
(Sort of).

The boys in Vegas

CJ, the kids, my nephew Gabe Davis, my son Dave's friend Austin McMillan, and I drove to St. George on Thursday in two cars. We left the girls there at our friends, the Dustons, and the boys and I drove on to Vegas. We arrived at Sam Boyd Stadium just in time for kickoff (we missed the F-16 flyover out of Nellis during the national anthem because we were still under the stadium getting to our portal).

Our seats were on the 9th row behind the Cougar's bench at about the 30 yard line, right in the middle of the team section (thanks to one of the players -- the general public tickets had been sold out). We sat in front of Matt Allen's parents and family. His mom wore a #10 jersey. We had a blast.

It was a good game. For the most part, Cal looked faster, stronger, and quicker (i.e., better). But BYU had a chance to win it at the end. With 2 minutes to go, driving for the winning points, QB John Beck was bumped when he threw and his pass was intercepted by Cal to effectively end the game. Still, considering how our defense looked for most of the game, it was amazing we were in a position to win at the end. Final score: Cal 35, BYU 28.

I like Coach Mendenhall (and the other coaches) and the direction they're taking the team.

It took us a while to get out of the parking lot, but we had my PowerBook and "Firefly" DVDs, so we watched a couple of episodes. We stopped at Denny's for a potty stop and dinner. We all had "breakfast" (the Grand Slam, omelettes, pancakes, etc.). Dave had a T-bone with his hash browns.

Then we drove to Nellis AFB and put up in the TLF ("Temporary Lodging Factilities") -- 5 guys in a suite of rooms for $31.75 a night...

Next morning, we went to Blueberry Hill Family Restaurant for breakfast. I love the smell of a diner/coffee shop. This one was a classic. Best breakfast in Vegas, open 24 hours a day. We had hoped to meet Cindy's brother, Bruce, who's a SSgt at Nellis, but he worked late and slept in (our rendezvous was set for 7:30 am). We left his Christmas gifts with our waitress, Pam, and headed for St. George. Gabe and I changed cars and we drove to Provo so he could get to the Conference Center in Salt Lake in time for the Joseph Smith Commemorative broadcast. He spent most of the time watching "Firefly" episodes on my PowerBook using headphones and a shirt to shield the sun (he looked like an old-time photographer). But we had some good conversation about his friends, his favorite games, when he'll be ready for a patriarchal blessing, etc.

We stopped at Subway in Beaver for sandwiches and a potty stop. We made it in good time.

The rest of the fam arrived later in the evening.

We need to make the Las Vegas bowl a tradition.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Edgemont 14th Ward Christmas 2005

It's been fun to attend our residence ward (Edgemont 14th) with my family during the 3-week Christmas hiatus for the BYU 68th Ward. Last week was the traditional Christmas program with the choir, instrumentalists, and soloists -- and 3 wonderful speakers.

This week, we met at 11:00 a.m. for one hour. With the program as we entered, we also received copies of The Living Christ. We opened with Joy to the World (#201). Bishop Welch welcomed us and explained the program would include the reading of The Living Christ interspersed with appropriate congregational music, a mixed quartet, and a soloist (Christmas carols and sacrament hymns: 'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love (#176), In Remembrance (#183), Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (#209), It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (#207), We'll Sing All Hail (#182), Far, Far Away on Judea's Plain (#212), I Know that My Redeemer Liveth (adapted from Handel's Messiah, Jesus Once of Humble Birth (#196), God Loved Us So He Sent His Son (#187)). We had the sacrament last, and then sang I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (#214). David and Vickie Reeves gave the invocation and benediction -- they recently returned from serving a mission in Hawai'i.

Good to be with the saints in our home ward.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Marine Christmas

This poem was forwarded by friend Lynne Christy:

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

Final Salute

The Rocky Mountain News has a story (text and multimedia) about how a Marine officer in Colorado carries out the duty of notifying next of kin about the combat death of their Marine husband/father/son/brother. Semper fi.

Peggy Noonan's opinion piece this week is on the same subject.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Success in GWOT, criticism from the Left

No terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11. Why?

How about an aggressive administration going after terrorists and their supporters around the world -- and here at home.

Without a recent horrific attack, secure Americans have the luxury of attacking the administration when reports are leaked about its aggressive tactics. Krauthammer opines on the subject here.

"Nuclear device detonates in D.C.; thousands dead; millions evacuate; government in disarray"

Woops! That's not the headline. Instead, it's "Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A "Tookie" Williams memorial and the Left

John Leo comments on the strange celebration of an unrepentant killer's life.

Election Day - 15 December 2005

Mark Steyn berates Democrats for being on the wrong side of history.

Money quote: "The word 'liberal' has no meaning if those who wear the label refuse to celebrate the birth of a new democracy after 40 years of tyranny."

Current estimates of voter turnout: 70% (about 30% more than in that proud old democracy -- America!). Read it all.

As Senator Kyl says, "Iraqi democracy 3, terrorists 0".

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New York Doll

Several friends recommended the indie film "New York Doll", a documentary about New York Dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane, a drugs-sex-and-rock-and-roll
convert to the LDS Church who worked in the Family History Library at the Los Angeles LDS Temple until his sudden death from leukemia shortly following the group's reunion performance at the London "Meltdown" concert.
It's a wonderful film. After seeing it, my daughter said that she has decided you can't really judge people -- if a mesh-stocking red-lipstick drag queen rocker can convert and find peace in the Gospel and live a life of service, anyone can. It's a testament to the good news of the Gospel, and to the goodness of people -- not just Arthur, but his home teacher, bishop, and other friends. Here's the Wikipedia history of the Dolls.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Closed canon?

I found a link to this today in Happy Catholic. Although it is presented to support certain Catholic beliefs, it grabbed my attention because of its obvious pertinence to Latter-day Saints as well.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dems: "Retreat and Defeat" video

See it here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dean: Dems' opposition to war coalescing

Howard Dean, National Democratic Party Chairman, picks military town USA (San Antonio) to say the US can't win war in Iraq. He also compares it to Viet Nam, and the prewar intelligence issue to Watergate.

No cause is too great, it seems, for modern Dems to say "cut and run".

Saturday, December 03, 2005

BYU on WTC collapse controversy

In a paper here, BYU physics professor Steve Jones sets forth an "explosive demolition hypothesis" (that prepositioned explosives like those set in Vegas hotels caused the WTC towers' collapse on 11 September 2001). His conclusion:
None of the government-funded studies have provided serious analyses of the explosive demolition hypothesis at all. Until the above steps are taken, the case for accusing ill-trained Muslims of causing all the destruction on 9-11-01 is far from compelling. It just does not add up.
In response, BYU issued the following statement:
Statement Regarding Steve Jones's Paper
SUMMARY: A statement has been released in connection with a paper recently posted by Dr. Steven Jones in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Brigham Young University has a policy of academic freedom that supports the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge and ideas. Through the academic process, ideas should be advanced, challenged, and debated by peer-review in credible venues. We believe in the integrity of the academic review process and that, when it is followed properly, peer-review is valuable for evaluating the validity of ideas and conclusions.

The university is aware that Professor Steven Jones's hypotheses and interpretations of evidence regarding the collapse of World Trade Center buildings are being questioned by a number of scholars and practitioners, including many of BYU's own faculty members. Professor Jones's department and college administrators are not convinced that his analyses and hypotheses have been submitted to relevant scientific venues that would ensure rigorous technical peer review.
Jones' paper does not attempt to address three central common-sense questions it raises: Who? How? and Why? Who "carefully placed" the "prepositioned explosives"? How did they do so without being detected? And why: why bother to fly airliners into the buildings if prepositioned explosives were going to destroy them anyway?

I look forward to peer-review of Jones' article. For now, with all due respect, he appears to be part of the tinfoil hat brigade.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Statues of liberty

Charles Krauthammer discusses America's commitment and statue-tory homage to liberty -- and liberators.