Category Archives: Special Interest

Ukraine’s Got Talent

Boy, I’d say!

You don’t have to speak Russian to understand that!

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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in International, People, Special Interest


Quote of the Day – @markokloos

Truth and reality don’t need misinformation. If you misrepresent the facts to achieve a legislative goal, you harm your own agenda and show contempt for the electorate. That goes for both sides, liberal and conservative alike.


Contact Your US Senator!!!

Sebastian says the fight is shaping up in the Senate. I echo his call:

Every gun owner’s voice must be heard…STARTING WITH YOURS!!!

Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators by name. Or, email your Senators by going to NRA-ILA’s “Let Your Voice Be Heard” webpage.

He continues:

We are not facing the anti-gun crowd, save Bloomberg. We’re facing the left-wing of the Democratic Party, and they mean to destroy us. They are betting this trend is real, that the country will be increasingly urban, left of center, and more in favor of gun control. They are betting the farm that we’re on our way to extinction. Are we?

Do. Your. Part.


Free climbers are crazy

Seen at Tam’s

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in People, Special Interest, Sports


The Once and Future Liberalism

Marko Kloos tweeted:

So, being a good little lad, I went and read it. In addition to being incredibly insightful, I happen to be studying systems theory in one of my classes this semester. This article fits. Like. A. Glove.

The author, Walter Mead, discusses liberalism and its four phases in American political and social life.

We can see this process at work in modern Anglo-American history, during which liberalism has gone through at least four distinct incarnations. Liberalism 1.0 was the political expression of the original Enlightenment philosophy that developed in Britain and shaped the Glorious Revolution of 1688. That Revolution remains the seminal political event in the history of the English-speaking world. The American Founding Fathers set out consciously to imitate the spirit of 1688. Both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights flow from the ideas of a revolution that once and for all made Parliament supreme over the Crown in British history.

But the Revolution of 1688 had its limits, and by 1776 liberalism 1.0 was no longer enough. In Britain, the corruption of the House of Commons allowed George III to reassert royal control; Americans realized that the constitutional monarchy of liberalism 1.0 was no longer ideal. The 2.0 liberalism of our Founding Fathers replaced constitutional monarchy with a republic expressly founded on natural rights and the sovereignty of the people. The 1.0 Revolution of 1688 had replaced an intolerant established Church with one constitutionally more tolerant; the 2.0 American Revolution of 1776 separated the church from the state to the benefit of both.

Liberalism 2.0, as developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was rooted in the thought of 1.0 liberals like John Locke. But Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington developed and put into practice a set of ideas about how individual liberty could be reconciled with economic development and good governance. Note how the names changed. In 1688, if you supported the Glorious Revolution you were a Whig and a liberal. In 1776, if you supported those same principles against the Declaration of Independence you were a Tory conservative.

He goes on to describe liberalism in America and its various strengths and weaknesses. He describes modern liberalism as blue liberalism, or liberalism 4.1.  He also discusses how we are at the end of an era and in a position to create liberalism 5.0

As with earlier versions, liberalism 5.0 must build on the best of what has gone before while making adjustments—radical when necessary, though never gratuitously so—to existing beliefs and institutions. 5.0 liberals must challenge the right of blue liberals to own the L-word, seeking both to convince 4.1 liberals to come back to the future and denouncing those who won’t as the blinkered reactionaries and speed bumps they are.

Go read this article.


Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test

Lucky Gunner emailed. They want their brass vs. steel cases ammo review shared. If you’re interested in knowing which to shoot in your AR-15, go read.

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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Guns, Special Interest, Tech


The Happiest Place on Earth!

No, not Disney Land.  Exit 142 on I-75 in Tennessee.


Top Shot

A show that’s been getting some buzz on the gun blogs is Top Shot, on the History Channel.  I watched the first episode today via Hulu (since I don’t have cable).  Even if you’re not a shooter – Go. Watch. Enjoy.

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Posted by on June 7, 2010 in Guns, Really Excited, Special Interest


Raquel Welch

I found an interesting editorial on written by Raquel Welch.

…as I’ve grown older over the past five decades — from 1960 to 2010 — and lived through this revolutionary period in female sexuality, I’ve seen how it has altered American society — for better or worse.

Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad. In fact, it’s precisely because of the sexy image I’ve had that it’s important for me to speak up and say: Come on girls! Time to pull up our socks! We’re capable of so much better.

Read the rest.  I may surprise you.

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Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Family, Life, Special Interest


Constructed Reality

My only complaint about WordPress is that I can’t track how people are finding this site.  I can see what phrase they searched and ended up here, but that is the extent of the info.

Over on the old site, which is still running, my sitemeter has recently been active with people searching for information on “constructed reality”  – more specifically, movies, tv shows, and other media containing examples of constructed reality.  Several of these searches have come from Canadian school districts so I figured I’d post this to help, in case they find their way to this site again.


The idea of constructed social reality has grown out of several communication theories.  The first thing I was taught in my Communication Theory class at the U was,

Communication is a symbolic/relational process whereby social reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed.

The symbolic process is:

  1. Rule-governed, interpretive activity.
  2. Process of assigning meaning and intention to the acts of others.

Social Reality is:

  1. Sum total of communicative acts within it.
  2. Persons both produce and are shaped by their communicative activity.

There are certain assumptions:

  1. Symbolic production of reality
  2. Reality is not given but supplied
  3. Symbolic maintenance (repair and transformation) of reality

The basic idea is that human language is symbolic.  Humans have the cognitive capacity to take a symbol and assign meaning to it.  That symbol holds no inherent value outside of the meaning assigned to it.

Example:  One of my favorite professors, Norm Elliott, loved using this example:

  • Red grapes make the best wine.
  • He pulled a red hot poker out of the fire.
  • I like my steaks red in the middle.
  • She’s a tall woman with red hair.
  • When Elliott noticed his fly was open during lecture, his face turned red.

The word “red” is made up of three symbols, “r”, “e”, “d,” and together they form another symbol, the word “red.”  But the word “red” has no inherent value until we assign it meaning, and as you can see in the above example, the word “red” can mean at least five different things, or express five different thoughts.

So it is with the rest of our world.  Yes, there is physical reality but even our understanding of physical reality is symbolic.  A rainstorm is a physical reality.  If it’s raining, it’s raining.  Though the meaning may differ between people – a ruined day for a hiker or water for the farmer’s crops.

The easiest theory to study would be George Herbert Mead’s Symbolic Interactionism.  Mead’s main theory is that we interact with objects based on the meaning that we’ve assigned to them.  This applies to objects – guns for example – and people – homosexuals; race relations.  What meaning(s) has your life experience created for a specific person/object?

I highly recommend A First Look at Communication Theory, by Em Griffin, or go to his website.


As for media containing constructed reality, all media contains constructed reality.  A great film on the subject is “Ordinary People.”

You can easily take this basic idea and quickly expand it.  Are you in favor of or against Obamacare?  Why or why not?  What experiences have shaped your world view on the subject?  Are you willing to understand the other side (I didn’t say agree with it)?  What is your opinion on gun-owner rights and why?  Are you a hoplophobe and if so, why?



McDonald vs. Chicago oral arguments will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow.  Joe Huffman points to an article by Alan Korwin where he explains, in simple terms, why this court case is so important.  Trust me, it’s more about civil rights and less about guns than you may have previously thought.


Telling The Feds Where To Get Off

S.B.11, also known as the Utah State-Made Firearms Protection Act, was passed by both houses of the state legislature and was sent to the governor for signature. However, Governor Gary Herbert is considering vetoing the bill. Here’s what it does:

This bill:

  • addresses the legal status of a firearm manufactured in the state for use within the state;
  • defines terms; provides that a firearm or one of various firearm-related items manufactured in the state for in-state use is not subject to federal firearms laws and regulations;
  • exempts from in-state manufacturing some firearms and ammunition;
  • and requires certain markings on a firearm manufactured in the state for use within the state.

Mostly Democrats voted against it, claiming that the bill would be found unconstitutional and would waste state money during defense in court.  Money that we do not have because of the economy and budget shortfalls.  They point to the law suit that the state of Montana is currently involved in, but they overlook one point – a pair of indipendent lawyers sued the federal government, the feds have not sued the state, so the suit is costing the state nothing.   Supporters of the bill claimed that it’s less about firearms and more about states’ rights (I’m sure they mean state powers and sovereignty, because states don’t have rights).

Basically, this bill is about Utah saying, “What happens in Utah stays in Utah.”

A bill with a similar philosophy has been introduced to protect Utah land.  H.B. 143 had made it out of committee but has not yet been voted on in the House.  The issue at hand is eminent domain and it goes all the way back to 1894, two years before Utah was admitted as a state.  Currently, almost 60% of Utah’s land is owned by the federal government.  According to Henry Lamb,

As a condition of statehood, the citizens of Utah were required to “…forever disclaim right and title to unappropriated public lands.” In the same July 16, 1894 Enabling Act, the federal government agreed to grant four sections of every township, and various other grants of land, to the state to provide permanent funding for schools and other government purposes.

I won’t go into the history of Utah’s becoming a state, save to say that at one point, in an attempt to force the people of Utah into submission, the federal government threatened to dissolve the Utah Territory and divide it between Idaho and Arizona.  The rest of Mr. Lambs article is very insightful so I’ll direct you there to read up on the issue of land rights.

So again, the issue is state sovereignty and powers.  If the feds haven’t owned up to their end of the bargain, and if they’re in violation of the U.S. Constitution (which only gives the federal .gov the right to own the land of the D.C. – see U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 17), then they can’t tell the people of Utah how their public lands are to be used (for instance the President creating a national monument to please environmentalists, while destroying the local economy).

Utah has never really liked the federal government.  And I don’t see why that should change.

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Guns, History, Local, People, Politics, Special Interest


Process Followup

Linked off of that last article was this article.  Read and witness Mitch Mayne’s truth:

September 6, 2009

You know who I am. You have been seated next to me in meetings. You have greeted me with enthusiasm when you’ve seen me come to Church. You have heard my voice in prayer.

Yet, I wonder how many of you would treat me less kindly if you knew the truth. I wonder if you would judge me–however mildly, however inadvertently, however silently.

Being honest about who I am has seldom led to a positive outcome. In my home, my Father told me that my being gay was his ultimate fear, and my ultimate failure. My mother told me it would have been better for her if I’d been born dead than gay. Growing up, I was scorned on the playground, and ridiculed and bullied in the classroom. I have been fired from jobs because I am gay. I have been told by church leaders that I am unworthy of ever taking the Sacrament. I have been told that I will never work with the youth of the church. I have been told in meetings that it is because of people like me that the AIDS pandemic has come upon the Earth–that my sins are bringing punishment upon the wicked and the sinless alike.

It has not been an easy path, nor a path I would wish for anyone. But it is *my* path. And it has made me who I am today. I am, in fact, grateful for being gay. It has given me levels of compassion, understanding, patience and forgiveness that I would never have developed otherwise.

Many Sundays I look out across the congregation and watch

you: Shawna and Raymond Lee, with their brood of wonderful and rambunctious boys; MJ and Katherine Pritchett with their fledgling children, offering them support as they leave the nest; Dick and Jackie Alder, with their deep, lifelong companionship and love for one another. And I know I will never have those things. If I am to live by church doctrine, I am relegated to a life of solitude, and my sentence is to grow old and leave this world alone.

Those are painful moments for me. Yet when the Sacrament is passed, and I bow my head and speak my sorrow to my Heavenly Father, something equally grand happens.

Almost without exception, a feeling washes over me from deep inside my soul. A tender, warm, yet powerful feeling–and a voice that tells me, “You belong here.”Not when I have it all figured out, not when I am perfect, not when I know all the answers — but today, right here, right now. With you. That, my dear brothers and sisters, is why I am Mormon. Because I belong here.

I had no choice whether or not to be a child of my Heavenly Father. And I had no choice whether or not to be gay. Both things simply are. Both things are intertwined into the DNA of my soul so deeply that you could not extricate one from the other without destroying who I am. They are, in fact, who I am.

Why do I speak to you today?

I don’t want pity. To pity me is to make me a victim. I want understanding. To understand me, is to love me as an equal.

I don’t want tolerance. If I am tolerated, I am disliked or feared in some way. I want respect as a fellow striving child of Go — an equal in His eyes.

I don’t want acceptance. To accept me is to graciously grant me the favor of your company. To accept me is to marginalize me with the assumption that I am less than you. I am your peer. I am neither above you nor below you.

I don’t want judgment. My path may be different than yours, but it is a plan built for me by a power greater than any of us in this room. To judge me is to judge the designer of that path.

I do not want to be viewed as a mistake. My path on this Earth was prescribed uniquely for me, just as yours was. It was designed to give me the experiences I need to grow as a child of my Heavenly Father. To view me as a mistake is to view Him as a maker of mistakes.

We are very different, you and I — on a cosmetic level. You have spouses, or the opportunity for spouses, I do not. You have children, or the opportunity for children, I do not. You are attracted to those of the opposite gender, I am attracted to those of my same gender.

What I want most of all is for you to look past the cosmetic. I want you to look at what makes us the same: the simple fact that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, and we are struggling day to day to understand how to best do His will, and how to return to Him. It is that similarity, brothers and sisters, that weighs more than all the cosmetic differences in His universe.

You know who I am. You have been seated next to me in meetings. You have greeted me with enthusiasm when you’ve seen me come to Church. You have heard my voice in prayer. And now, you have heard my truth.

Thank you, Mitch Mayne, for sharing part of yourself.  I am grateful for your gift.


How the Process Works

I saw this article in the Salt Lake Tribune and thought it was a perfect example of A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts and Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity.

Gay rights: Oakland LDS Stake tries to heal post-Prop 8 rifts

‘This is the church I know and love’

Updated: 02/05/2010 01:39:33 PM MST

Ted Fairchild, who is openly gay, has HIV and serves as a part-time LDS missionary in the Bay Area, left the love of his life to return to church activity. Linda Schweidel wondered why her bright, successful returned-missionary husband still was not ready for children after eight years of marriage. That’s when he broke down and told her he was gay.

Diane Oviatt held her sobbing gay son in a darkened kitchen as he poured out years of grief at the secret he had been carrying for 18 years and wondered how he would get to heaven without marrying.

These were among the anguished stories several Mormons shared during emotional church services Oakland LDS Stake held last summer to heal rifts caused by the faith’s activism in the Golden State on behalf of traditional marriage.

In June 2008, the LDS First Presidency asked all California Mormons to give their time and money to Proposition 8, a ballot measure striking down gay marriage. Many members did so with gusto, circulating petitions, raising money, sending e-mails to church lists and putting up lawn signs.

That left other Bay Area Mormons, particularly those with gay friends and relatives, feeling embattled and alienated. Some stepped away temporarily from church; others left for good. Those who remained often felt at odds with fellow believers.

Oakland Stake President Dean Criddle, a respected lawyer and gentle leader, sensed the ripples of collective pain and wanted to reunite his flock, says Matt Marostica, bishop of the Berkeley Ward.

So Criddle and his counselors assembled quotes and speeches from LDS general authorities that stressed love and compassion for those with same-sex attraction. They then asked each of the 10 wards in the stake to hold a joint meeting of adult members during church services on either Aug. 30 or Sept. 6 to hand out the quotes and listen to personal stories from area members.

The response in Oviatt’s suburban Moraga, Calif., ward was electric, Oviatt says. “Everyone in the audience was weeping. Men came up to my husband, crying, and hugged him, saying, ‘We love you and we love your son.’ ”

A couple of the more ardent ballot supporters apologized to Oviatt for having Prop 8 signs on their lawns, saying, “We never knew.”

Several people told Berkeley’s bishop, Marostica, how much they appreciated the meetings, including one woman who said, “I am so glad we did this. This is the church I know and love.”

[s]Till they have faces » The authorities’ statements and church setting provided a comfort level to Mormons who rarely discuss homosexuality openly, except to condemn it as a social trend or satanic tool. By all accounts, though, it was the stories that were transforming.

One man, who outed himself from the pulpit during one of the meetings, talked about a life of being scorned, bullied and accused by other Mormons of bringing on the AIDS pandemic. Still, every week when he takes the sacrament bread and water, God’s voice whispers to him: “You belong here.”

It’s the same voice Fairchild has heard over and over since becoming active in the LDS Church as a 17-year-old in Pullman, Wash., in 1970.

He served a two-year mission in Mexico, earned a degree at Brigham Young University and married a woman because, he says, she was pretty and could play the piano. The couple had two daughters.

But Fairchild always knew he was gay and eventually couldn’t continue the lie. He fell for a man.

“It was the only time,” Fairchild says, “I have ever been physically, emotionally and spiritually in love.”

By 1986, he and his partner were diagnosed with HIV, which at the time was a death sentence. Elder Richard G. Scott — then an LDS Seventy, now an apostle — gave Fairchild a blessing in which he asked God to build a protective wall around his cells. In that moment, Fairchild believed he needed to live by Mormon standards. He broke up with his love and returned to the church.

“Once you’ve experienced the Holy Ghost,” he says, “there’s no other feeling like it.”

More than 20 years later, Fairchild is relatively healthy and at peace with his decision. He believes he was born gay and a child of a loving Heavenly Father, twin qualities that make him a more effective “worker in God’s kingdom.”

Letting go or holding fast » That doesn’t work for Oviatt’s son, Ross Oviatt, who has not been back to church.

He attended BYU for a few semesters, she says, but it was a “toxic environment.” The Prop 8 fallout — which continues in California with the ballot measure now before a judge – proved difficult for Ross as he tried to weather homophobic slurs and keep his secret. He misses his Mormon experience and friends, but the association is too painful.

It hasn’t been easy for the rest of the family, either.

“We had to re-examine our place in the church,” Oviatt says. “We are not leaving, but it’s hard to stay in a religion that does not embrace our child. If we had to choose between the two, we’d choose Ross.”

Some Mormons in the stake see only one choice: following church edicts.

“I am a faithful Latter-day Saint, happily married with children, striving to live up to my temple covenants, fulfill my calling, be a good father and all the other things which active members of the church try to do,” one man wrote to Criddle in between the two joint sessions. “According to your definition of homosexuality, I am also a homosexual. I have had strong attractions to men (and exclusively men) my whole life.”

But homosexuality is not his identity, just a temptation he refuses to act on, the writer said. He thought the stake should have included more emphasis on heterosexual marriage as the core of Mormon teachings.

Criddle shared the letter (without identification) in all the wards.

Coming back » In what she calls, the “dark days of Proposition 8,” Schweidel took a “leave of absence” from the church.

She didn’t know if she could return. But when Criddle and Marostica asked her to tell her story at one of the joint sessions, she readily accepted.

She has been attending and involved ever since.

“The special meeting made me want to be part of a positive change in the church,” she says. “I want to talk to people, to explain why I feel like I do, and help them try to understand.”

That may work in Berkeley, but how about Bountiful?

Schweidel is hopeful. There are two kinds of Mormons, she says, quoting a friend: those who know gay people and those who don’t know they know gay people.

The task, she says, is to move more members from the second to the first category.

“If my mom in Orem had gay neighbors next door, I know she would love them,” Schweidel says. “The Mormons I have spoken to make an effort to understand. They totally get it.”

This gives you an idea of what I was trying to convey in my post Unpacking Things.  This is how the process works.


Open Carry

Personally, I’m not too interested in open carry unless I’m in the mountains.  The reason being that I don’t see it as particularly effective means of educating the public about firearms and the carrying firearms.

Regardless of what you believe, you have no control over how people hear what you say or how they understand your actions.  For example, what do any of these things mean?

If ten people answered we’d have hundreds of different answers because each of their answers would be interpreted differently by each person that read them.  In the words of one of my favorite professors: “It’s amazing that anyone ever comes to any understanding about anything with anybody else.”

An discussion on open carry is being had here.  Some are being childish while others are actually “talking.”  Go if interested.  If not, don’t.

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