Monday, January 28, 2008

Hail to the Prophet

Last night marked the end of an era, very similar to the passing of Pope John Paul a few years ago. Gordon B. Hinckley, president and prophet of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints (or, your friendly neighborhood Mormons), passed away last night. He was 97.

For those who might be unfamiliar with this life of this man, I suggest you take a few moments, and check out the Salt Lake City Tribune, which is running a series of great columns on the event. I’ll try not to waste much digital ink on being overly redundant.

President Hinckley was a truly unique individual, even amongst high level church leaders. People from all communities, LDS and otherwise, were drawn to his wit, his energy, and his selfless dedication to service.

What is the Hinckley legacy? The largest, I think, is the massive construction temples that occurred under his watch. LDS Temples, are sacred buildings were specific ordinances, such as eternal marriage, or baptism for the dead, occur. Before the Hinckley presidency, there were 30 or so temples worldwide (so, if you happen to be a Mormon in Europe, you’ve got quite a commute to get to one). Now, there are over 110, with more being built. Most notable to me, was the construction of the Columbus Ohio Temple, which happened right as I turned 12. Previously, my family had to book it to Washington DC. This program has helped make temple worship more accessible for members across the world.

The other lasting legacy is that of service. During this time, the church started a wildly successful program called the Perpetual Education Fund, which allows returned missionaries in developing countries to attend university. Here’s hoping that perhaps the program is extended some day to folks in North America (ahem. Over here guys.). The church has also continued its tradition of well executed welfare programs, with its timely assistance during Hurricane Katrina, and during the Asian typhoon. I do not think it is unreasonable to state that we were more effective than FEMA.

I loved listening to President Hinckley talk…wait, scratch that, I loved President Hinckley, and I don’t say that about every church leader. While I believe in their authority, some leaders, like say, President Kimball, or Bruce R. McConkie, have a somewhat hardline, or prickly public persona. Hinckley was inclusive, optimistic, and loving, and I will miss him very much.

There were no tears last night. The man lived to be 97 years old, and was still working like a dog, and to be honest, the poor guy deserves his rest. The world is certainly poorer today for having lost him, but the hereafter must be overjoyed. Maybe my old man found him.

Rest in Peace, and thanks for everything.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mini Update: Downtown's Cool Links

Okay, sorry for the delays. I've been real busy finishing up some internship application paperwork, so I can skip town in two months and work in Washington DC for a while.

I'm working on two fairly long entries, but in the meantime, here are some real cool links that'll keep you busy!

Much digital ink has been spilled over how this election is over the heart and soul of the Republican Primary. This article , from CQ, explains how its also for the soul of the Democrats. Neat read.

Forget sports betting, how about Political Futures betting? This has a much better prediction rate than the pundits (myself included), so go see how your guy's stock is doing.

Its about time...the Video Game Industry finally has its own PAC, with lobbyists and everything.

From the Badass Blues Musicians department...Stevie Ray playin a little Superstition.

Speaking of great youtube videos, check out this drum solo by ?uestlove. (this cat has got to be one of the best drummers today).

As a big Cleveland Cavs fan, I got a huge laugh out of this website:

And finally, a news release about the SA Spurs' latest signing (wait...don't bears maul bitches?)

Stay tuned, big entries are comin'

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Great College Rundown

So after dropping that heavy post yesterday (with a very low jokes-serious stuff ratio), I wanted to try something a little more lighthearted, yet still relevant.

Folks here at OSU have been asking me how I like the place, or how it compares to the other schools I've attended. I've spent time at a private, east coast, ivory tower university (American), a sprawling state school (THE Ohio State University), and a crappy community college/regional campus (THE Ohio State Newark!). Which one is better? I think thats a complicated question, and one that warrens a long post. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me break it down for you.


American: AU is located in Tenleytown, a neighborhood in scenic NW Washington DC, full of diplomats, state department officials, embassies, quaint ethnic rester aunts, and gay yuppies.

Ohio State: tOSU's sprawling, picturesque campus is located just north of downtown Columbus. Its full of OSU apparel stores, ticket scalpers, greasy fast food, smoke shops, and dumpsters with Who is Ron Paul? spray painted on them. Also, the surrounding neighborhoods aren't exactly wonderful.

OSUN-Located on the west side of Newark Ohio, the gateway to Appalachia! The five building campus is surrounded by fewer fast food places, and the burnt out husk of industrial America.

Advantage:American, and it isn't even close. I like Columbus and everything, but I used to be within egging distance of Karl Rove's place.

Size (population)

American: 5,000 and change undergraduates. Small enough that you'll usually see somebody you know when you hike to class, large enough to hide when you do something embarrassing at a party.

Ohio State: Main campus has over 50,000 undergrads, making it one of the largest campuses in the country. Over 30 students have my exact name. Thats depressing.

OSU-N: has around 5,000 students use the campus (which shares its buildings with COTC, a 2-year tech school). Since its a commuter campus, you see the same 30 people every day.

Advantage: American. There are great advantages to attending a university many times the size of your own home town (ever wanted to learn Zulu? Try underwater hockey? OSU is for you!). These are usually negated when your last name is Brown, and you're trying to schedule your classes.

Physical Facilities

American: For all the money you're spending, you really don't get a lot. Dorm rooms are pretty spartan, and there aren't enough of them, causing shortages every year. there is also a total lack of places on campus work out or play sports. I spent a lot of time searching NW DC for grassy fields to play soccer, since American doesn't have a single one. On the plus side, the chairs in our class rooms are super comfy.

Ohio State: The nice thing about having a school larger than some state capitols is that we get nice stuff. For example, the Taj Mahal of student gyms, the RPAC. I'm finding something new every week I go here.

OSUN-pretty crappy, but thats expected. I went to their gym once to work, and saw the machines were held together by duct tape and broken dreams.

Advantage: OSU. Having a Ping-Pong center > leather chairs.


American: Has one of the highest regarded political science and international relations colleges in the country. It gets more selective every year (average SAT is well above 1300), and has a student body of academically motivated students (well, most of them anyways). It also has a pretty good business and law school.

Ohio State: Leads the country in many types of research, but that has little to do with undergraduates. Campus remains pretty much open-enrollment (meaning if you graduate high school, and spend some time at a regional campus, you can go to OSU). Most of the campus appears to be more motivated by the chance at getting discount football tickets than school.

OSUN- Is this some kind of sick joke?

Advantage: American. Although, I do wish people had heard of the damn place. Sample conversation in Ohio..

Person: So, where did you transfer from?

Me: American!



Person: Never heard of them. Do they have a football team?

Me: I took out 10 grand in loans for this?


American: Ivy League Attitude without the Ivy League athletic tradition. No football, baseball or lacrosse teams (The irony of American University not having America's pastime has been lost on the administration). Our field hockey team however, could kick your ass.

Ohio State: One of the premier athletic universities in the country, no matter what Pat Forde says. Perhaps you've heard of our football team?

OSUN- over 75% of its men's basketball team was ruled academically ineligible. That was the sports story of the year.

Advantage: I'm tempted to give it to OSUN, since I could actually be playing college basketball for them, but I gotta go with OSU.

Hot Girl factor (this is really important)

American: school is over 60% female, and maybe a third of our male population is gay. By virtue of being a dude, you're going to get a full 2 points higher on the 1-10 scale than you would somewhere else, thanks to the numbers. Add in the fact that there are thousands of cute girls, and its a great situation.

So naturally, I stayed with my high school girlfriend the entire time I was there.

Ohio State: With a school this size, and with lax admissions standards, there will be tens of thousands of cute girls. However, thanks to our sucky weather, they have to wear winter coats and burkas for 2/3 of the year.

OSUN- Great, if 45 year old smokers are your thing.

Advantage: American Girls are probably more dateable as a whole, but Ohio State girls are better looking (although there are notable exceptions to both rules)

Most likely thing to be overhead....

American: Did you see the debate last night

Ohio State “Did you see the game last night?

OSUN- So yeah, I only got probation.

Over all, no matter where I am, I can agree that its better than OSUN.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Mormon Aint for Mitt

So, I sat down at the computer today to do a similar write up for the gaggle of Republicans also running for president, but I have to tell you guys, my heart just wasn’t in to it. I have a little legal pad next to my computer where I scribble notes for article ideas throughout the day, and I had the phrase what do I think about Fred Thompson? circled. Truth is guys… I don’t even think of Fred when I’m religiously watching Law and Order reruns.

In fact, if I was to create a top 10 list of Law and Order Characters I would like to be President, I think Fred would only come out ahead of the DA who looked like he was about to die of old age in every episode. Top choice? I think its obvious

So I’ll instead focus the energies of this column on the one Republican who never leaves me at a loss of words…Mitt Romney. When we (America) talk about Mitt, it’s usually either:

  1. Mitt is a flip flopper

  2. Holy crap America are you aware that this man is a Mormon???

This puts me in somewhat of a weird position, because I, in addition to being a Democrat, also happen to be a Mormon as well. Just like Mitt did in the 1960s (which the NYT did a really cool article on, which you can read *here*), I also knocked doors when I was 19. Only instead of going to France, dining at the US embassy, escaping the draft and running for president, I went to Sacramento, came home with a limp, and saw my girlfriend run off my with my college roommate. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Many of my LDS peers, both young and old, are very excited about the prospect of a Mitt Romeny presidency. Part of that can be chalked up to the fact that most Mormons are pretty conservative (present company excluded). However, I also think that a lot of us in the LDS community think that having a Mormon president will give us a sense of legitimacy, and make us mainstream. How crazy could we be if the ruler of the free world agrees with us? (that’s a rhetorical question. Please don’t email me and tell me)

But do we want the public face of our religion to shift from mostly unassuming people like Steve Young and the Osmonds (or my personal favorite, Wilford Brimley, of Diabeetus fame), to a politician? Should we give him a free pass because he gets our inside jokes about Jello and Minivans? Do we even ignore some positions of his that seem to fly in the face of what we believe?

Well, I’m not going to. Mitt, I gotta ask you some questions here, brother to brother, zoobie to…er…well, normal person I guess.

Mitt on Torture: ROMNEY: I am glad [detainees] are at Guantanamo. I don’t want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo. (Fox News Debates)

Lets ignore how this flies in the face of solid policy decisions, international law, and the will of the American People. Lets talk about the church here for a second. Lets check out the 12th and 13th article of faith.

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (Joseph Smith)

Do you think that breaking international law, and then keeping is secret from relevant government oversight bodies, as Bush has done, complies with the 12th and 13th articles of faith? It doesn’t sound very Christ-like to me Mitt. You just gave a speech about how we need religion for freedom....and here you're pandering to far-right religious groups (who I don't have to remind you are not exactly friendly with our church. Joseph Smith wasn't murdered by the neighborhood chapter of the was people like the folks at Bob Jones University, where you trolled for votes) to suppress freedom.

Ditto with the constant position changing. Republicans flat out raked John Kerry over the coals for doing basically the same thing that Mitt is doing. This guy went from trying to out-gay Ted Kennedy to trying to out-Huckabee....Mike Huckabee. There is a reason voters seem to associate this guy with some sort of shady, snake-oil peddler. He's also been guilty of spewing some big ol' half-truths with his advertising. We believe in being honest, and a lot of folks, myself include, don't readily associate that with Mitt.

So he's a fierce advocate of pretty un-Christlike behavior, and has all the makings of a political opportunist...not to mention that I disagree with this guy on a whole litany of substantive policy issues. Its great to see a Mormon Candidate being out in the open (although I never saw this kind of LDS solidarity for Harry Reid....), but I really have to wonder if he really is an accurate representation of what we're all how Catholics felt about John Kerry.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Downtown figures this whole 2008 election out

So, there is the rumor going around that a presidential election is coming up. Perhaps many of you are confused as to who these people are, who's going to win, and most importantly...who should I like? Instead of spending a bunch of time sifting through crap, researching, and developing your own opinion, I've taken care of all of that for you.

The Straight Dope on the Democrats:

Former Senator (NC) John Edwards: In 2004, Edwards rose to prominence because of his engaging, optimistic personality, his focus on the plight of the forgotten rural poor, and because, apparently, he's hot (well, he was standing next to John Kerry for 6 months, so its not hard to look like Brad Pitt). However, in the end, voters worried about his lack of experience...he had never held an executive office, he knew very little about foreign policy, and had barely been in Washington. We (the voters) said "John, you aren't so bad. Why don't you get some more experience, solve some more problems, and come back".

John Edwards responded by camping out in Iowa for 4 years, talking about poor farmers, and honing his populist message. in 2008, he still doesn't have experience, his message is a little more tired, and he can't play the hot card anymore.

John Edwards, despite his Iowa camping trip, finished second, and is polling low in New Hampshire. Personally, while he might not be a bad guy, if I hear that "my daddy was poor textile mill worker", I might be sick all over my keyboard...and nobody wants that.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY): What more can I write about Hillary that hasn't been written a gazillion times (with more profanity and lesbian jokes) on the internet already?
Personally, I don't like (or trust) Hillary, even though I think her husband was awesome. Maybe its the flip flopping. Maybe its the grating personality. Maybe its the fact that 40% of the country hates her for no good reason. Maybe its because she doesn't play the sax like her husband. Actually, I'm pretty sure thats the real reason.

Hillary took it on the chin in Iowa, and is in a dogfight in New Hampshire. Somehow, she got stuck with the label of "protector of the status quo", and in case you haven't been paying attention, this election is all about CHANGE.

By the way, Hillary just said that she has 35 years of experience "making change". That means she's counting everything she's done since she got out of college. If thats the case, I have 8 years of experience making change, starting with my own body, during puberty.

Gov. Bill Richardson (NM)- For the life of me, I can't understand why everybody isn't demanding that Bill be our new president. He's been a congressman. He's been a Governor. He's been a UN ambassador. He's been the secretary of Energy. He stared down Saddam Hussien and Kim Jong and lived to tell about it. He's a badass! What are our problems now....a mess in the middle east? Congressional gridlock? a dependence on foreign oil? He's fixed all that stuff.

And nobody has heard of him! I feel for the poor guy...i'm watching the debates right now, and no matter what the question, the poor guy is practically jumping out of his chair to give everybody his resume. (well, he can't really jump, cause he's kinda fat). I like Bill a lot...but he's looking like he's going to be a great running mate for Obama or Clinton. Experience isn't sexy I guess.

Sen. Barack Obama (Illinois) You know, I was kinda lukewarm on this guy at first, because I'm somebody who really values experience, and Obama doesn't have a lot. However, he is bringing one thing to the table that none of the the other democrats can...he can inspire, and unite us, like nobody else. I want you guys to pay attention to this guy, because he could very well be the Bobby Kennedy of our generation.

Plus, if you look at his work in the senate, for a freshman, he got an awful lot done. Obama is blowing through the primaries, and could make a very solid, electable canidate...somebody who could really enact change.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Former Sen. Mike Gravel (AK)-Wait, these guys are still here? Didn't anybody tell you you lost?