Friday, December 11, 2009

Microcredit & Mircoloans: The Girl Effect


I saw this and I IMMEDIATELY had to share it.  

Click on this link:

The Girl Effect.         (hint: to go straight to the video, click on "Agree")

This is all about microloans and women's rights!  Two of my favorite things!  No offense to men, but statistics show that when men in developing countries are given microloans, there is only approximately a 30% chance that they will actually pay back the loan.  On the other hand, women pay back their loans and make profits at rates upwards of 90% of the time- and quicker than their male counterparts!  Why?  Well, women often are more motivated to work hard on their small (micro) businesses ventures for several reasons.

1. To provide for their families- in many underdeveloped countries, the women scrimp together what little they have to try to feed their children while the men are busy using the money that should be going to their families for alcohol and other slovenly purposes (see Russia for an example) and the maternal instincts of women push them to work harder for food for their children then their husbands in the same situation.

2. This is their chance to prove themselves.  Obviously, the status quo in most underdeveloped nations is that men work and women take care of home duties.  But in many instances, this is clearly not working, as evidenced by ever-increasing poverty and hunger.  So, women are propelled forward by the glimmer of hope that they can get out of this societal rut by their own means and exercise their autonomy by means that their culture may not have allowed them to engage in before: business!  They have been sitting on the sidelines all too long and are now revved to make a difference in their families and communities.

3.  Sad as it is, women are just less likely to spend their loans on risky investments, gambling, prostitutes, etc.  The money they receive actually goes where it is intended, making a return much more feasible.

I love this!  We think that HUGE bailouts and trillions of government dollars in handouts will end poverty, but I think that the key really lies in good old fashioned hard work with a little financial boost coupled with accountability, business basics, and education.  I was privileged to get to listen to a presentation by the founder of The Academy for Creating Enterprise (a Philippines-based nonprofit for former LDS missionaries that are from the Philippines, designed to teach them to use the skills of work and communication that they used on their missions in the field of small business- super cool) make a presentation in a class for my Nonprofit Management minor and it was awesome!  The microloan revolution is changing lives, and it will inevitably change nations.  

For information on a nonprofit gaining great prominence in this field, see Heifer International, and I would encourage a donation, considering this season of giving.  Also, for even more information, see the book "A Word Without Poverty" by Mohammed Yunus- the real pilot of this field (who actually earned his Nobel Peace Prize thorough research, creative innovation, and hard work that has benefitted mankind).  Cheers!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Superfluous Cakes

   On a rare personal note, I am in the heat of my first round of law school finals.  And although it would be much more typical of me to discuss the juxtaposition of President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in the same month that he announced sending thousands of more troops to the Middle East (his speech announcing that was actually very moving and I was watching it in the gym, practically crying on the treadmill- always a safety hazard).  But, no.  The topic at hand is cakes.  After my mini trip to New York and the discovery of the Crumbs Bake Shop, coupled with an engaged girl at school talking incessantly about how her wedding cake is having a different flavor of cake on every layer, cakes have been on the mind.  It is my little unproductive way of forgetting about final exams for a moment.  So if you came here today to read some interesting philosophical treatise on human rights, keep looking; I apologize.  But if you are the mood for some mind mush, then do read on.

   After a delightful Google Images search, I came up with some real gems:

   For those Mario Bros. lovers out there, I though this Mario-themed cake was super clever!  You've got little Toadies, Question-Mark boxes, Princess Peach and her castle, and of course, Mario himself.  Very creative and a bit whimsical.

   As for this next one, every boy that I have shown this to has had virtually the same reaction, "Whoa!  That's amazing!"  Yes, here it is, every little boy's dream- the Hostess Cake:

Complete with all of our schoolyard favorites.  You could trade this cake for like a million tater tots at your local Elementary School.  Oddly, it actually has a pleasing amount of visual interest, and is not nearly as tacky as I would have expected.

And just when you thought that was crazy, get this- the Sushi Wedding Cake (complete with rubber duckies?!?...I have no idea...)


 I'm just hoping that there's not actually a cake underneath all of that raw fish.  And I love the strewn leaves and edamame, ya know, just for some more color...or something.

And finally, a cake that I actually seriously like.  I think its both pretty and sweet.  Not to mention the thought of eating all that fondant makes me start to drool, mmmmmm...

Cute little nest on top, huh? :)

Well, friends, I'm afraid that will have to do for now.  Back to the grind stone.  May your day be full of sweetness and creativity.

PS, for some real fun, try the Google search of "20 Ugliest Wedding Cakes" and see what you can find!




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No, You're Secretary Clinton- President Clinton Was Someone Else

  Warning: this may appear to the faint-hearted as a Conservative rant.  It's NOT.  That's not really what I do.  It is actually just an anti-Hillary rant.  She is one of the most frightening human beings on the planet and it doesn't matter what her political views are or what her background is- she's just a plain scary individual, and someone had the bright idea to put her in power.  Unfortunately, she now thinks she's the President of the United States...most unfortunately...considering she's nuts.  She was literally in my textbook for the Psychology of Personality, as an example of personality gone awry.

Exhibit A:

Haha.  Sorry, that was uncalled for.  But I just couldn't resist.

In all seriousness, here she is as Secretary of State, pretending like she was actually elected to that position and likewise pretending that her position is much more lofty than that of the Secretary of State.  Yes, its still a very important position, but let's not pretend like it wasn't just a throw-back from Obama as a part of their bargaining so that he could become the President.

As a lovely example of her arrogance, here is a great quote:
                     "When I came into the administration {meaning, when I lost the support of my party and came crying back to the winner and was only accepted to get feminist support for the administration, not to mention I would have probably murdered whoever else would have been chosen if it wasn't me, and no one wanted that to happen} I was one of the few people who had a long-term positive relationship with President Karzai {meaning I was one of the few that had been in the same room as him before; forget the fact that Bush used to have regular video conferences with Pres. Karzai}."

Oh, but it goes on.  Since she has such a "positive relationship" with the President of Iran she showed up unannounced to his inauguration (ie, party crasher who couldn't take the hint of not being invited and LOVES traveling in the name of America, not just on the tax payer's dollar, but also to make herself look more like the President).  But this wasn't the jolly best buddy congrats-on-rigging-the-votes-can-you-teach-me-how kind of visit (although that conversation probably occurred too).  No, according to a senior US official (as reported by the NYT), she "bluntly warned Mr. Karzai to crack down"- yikes.  Some bff; some positive relationship.  Congrats on winning, I'm here to crash your party and threaten you since I believe that I basically have the whole US at my disposal, so fear me.

Gosh, she's bothersome.


Here's another good one.  She literally has her back to the President and has situated herself at the very top corner of the table, so its almost as if she's at the head of the table.

Typical Hillary.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Healthcare Humor



I laughed soooo hard when I saw this photo!  In light of all the healthcare drama, I just wanted to take a moment to say that I think it is a bold undertaking and that some serious reform is, in fact, needed.  As a student, many of my friends do not have health insurance because their parents have recently pushed them out of the nest, they already find themselves tens of thousands of dollars in debt to student loans, and the last thing they want to think about is paying healthcare premiums.  Unfortunately, that means I've seen many friends NOT go to the hospital when they really should.  Even though I have insurance, that hasn't barred me from needing to pay $100 copays to have have a flustered and overworked doctor tell me to just take some Chloroseptic.  And when I injured myself on a rugby trip in Florida, I ended up paying hundreds of dollars for what turned out to be a misread X-ray.  Its absolute bogus.  And I don't even have a serious disease!   Think of all those who need costly treatment and medication in the situation of myself or my uninsured friends- its a frightening scenario and yet it is the reality for so many.  Even if we are not going to have the government provide their own medical programming, the medical profession needs some serious work.  I'm not sure how qualified a bunch of politicians are at regulating and scrutinizing the medical field, but I commend them for trying and I agree with their goals.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Vote is a Voice

I wish I could say that I was surprised when Hamid Karzai's run-off opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out.

I was thrilled when Afghanistan was finally looking to its Constitution, evaluating the importance of democracy, and realizing that fraud was worth the time and money and inconvenience to deter.  Voting is, nearly by definition, what embodies a democracy.  As soon as the votes of everyday people do not matter, you have lost touch with democracy.  It was incredible that the people and the leaders of Afghanistan had the faith to press forward in the noble cause of preserving democracy from corruption by holding a run-off election after there were almost a million fake ballots discovered.  However, Abdullah, the symbol of challenging the corruption of the standing Afghan government, has given up.  Fighting for an honest use of democracy was too much, too painful.  In an emotional speech, he declared, "I hoped there would be a better process...but it is final."  He gave in to the fact that if a million of ballots were faked before, there is little if any way of stopping the same thing from happening again.  I lament his admission of imminent defeat.   

At first I judged the Afghan government at large and was sure that this MUST be a pay-off.  Abdullah had to have been threatened by the powers that be, quite possibly the Taliban who were already threatening trouble if the election continued as planned.  I still have not abandoned this theory, but my criticisms of them have actually softened since I considered the parallels between this and our very own United States a mere 5 years ago.

Consider it: the 2004 elections were full of ballots cast on behalf of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.  Thousands of legitimate ballots were cast out because of hanging chads, pregnant chads, and otherwise expendable offenses.  Recounts were demanded.  Ballots invalidated and re-validated.  People were worried about changing the Presidency while we were engaged in a war.  And then at the last moment, the contesting party bowed out.  You can say it's because he knew he would have lost anyway, but you can also say that about Abdullah.  You can say that John Kerry didn't want to win amidst contention, but you can also say that about Adbullah.  And yet, with these striking similarities, one election we excuse, perhaps we are even grateful for how it turned out, and the other we demonize and criticize.


Was there a payoff or a threat of death for Abdullah?  Perhaps.  Was there a payoff for Kerry?  Perhaps.  We just don't know either way.  But we do know that the democracy of Afghanistan is new; it is fragile.

The Obama Administration is all fine and dandy Abdullah eliminating himself from contest because they initially backed Karzai, so now it looks like they won.  Is that really what it's about?  Looking good?  Is that really why we have politics??  Silly me, I thought it was to protect the public from chaos and harm.  Well guess what, everyone knows that this election was totally illigitimate, at least that is the perception, so how strong of an ally does our current administration  really have in Karzai's so-called victory?

A larger concern is whether or not the fragility of this government will survive such an early blow to its legitimacy.  I am concerned about the citizens who are questioning whether or not their votes matter and, consequently, whether or not they matter.  I am concerned for the women who finally have a voice in their communities, only to have it stomped on by the looming terror the Taliban still exerts over them.  May terror no longer be the motive for people to comply and act.  May people realize that sometimes liberty means more than life, and that bravery must be exercised in times of peril so that we can defeat (or at least do all that we can to challenge) evil.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iran is NOT the 51st United State, so lay off

I don't really get it.

I love the UN- I would love to work for them someday.  Part of the UN is obviously the UN Security Council.  Okay, great.  Nuclear nonproliferation is an issue that they deal with as a part of their work.  Good; the world needs security.  I am all for that.

Then there's Obama.  I like the guy, actually quite a bit, but how did he suddenly become the head of the UN Security Council?  And simultaneously the go-to man at the G20 summit (in my state of PA!!!) regarding "nuclear reforms" which is Obama-G20 code for "Hurry!  Stop Iran!"  I guess I'm just confused as to who died and made the Obama Administration the world champions of nuclear regulation?!?

I laughed when it was "news" earlier this week that Iran admitted to having nuclear facilities.  That's not news; maybe old news.  I mean, come on.  We know this has been coming for a long time.  Iran is a highly populated and rapidly industrializing country that is hated by the world superpower (us) and we are all shocked that they now want nuclear weapons, too.  What's the big deal?  They claim that they are doing everything within the bounds set forth by international laws and treaties, but that's not good enough for us.  And we can't just let the UN go in neutrally and make sure that everything is up to par.  Oh, no.  The Obama Administration says to the world, "Don't worry, guys- we'll take care of this" as if it was even their business in the first place.  I'm afraid that regarding this issue, our administration is more than a trifle biased and will not be the best at making a fair assessment of Iran's nuclear facilities.


Now I realize that this isn't just any potential treaty violation.  What we are talking about here can literally mushroom cloud into virtually the end of human life if left unchecked.  But honestly, I don't think that Iran wants to end the world.  I think we are getting a little too uptight.  If Iran, the years from now that it would actually take them to become fully operational, actual was stupid enough to launch some nuclear missile, it is obvious that someone, probably anyone, would strike back.  The Cold War mentality -that I can't make a move without you making a move, either of which will mean utter destruction of both you and I- is not completely erased from our global conscious.  I really don't think we have to worry about nuclear holocaust.  No one is ridiculous enough to go there at this point.  And what right do we, the United States of America- just a bunch of little states on the North American continent that rebelled from England only some 250 years ago- have to stop another country far far away from feeling secure in this world, from feeling like they have the equal footing with other industrialized countries, from feeling like they are a part of that Cold War equation that no one will want to strike against them for fear of them having the ability to strike back.

I think that we would be outraged if the Queen of England suddenly took it upon herself to rummage through our Top Secret defense files.  What gives us the right to do virtually the same thing to Iran?

I say let the UN do its job and let the US worry about its own problems before trying to take away the rights of another country.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Literature- a dying art

Ridiculous.


That is the link to an article which proposes arguments that I find to go right along with the title I gave it.

I just found out from the NY Times (a personal favorite, although not necessarily a pure source of truth, mind you) that there is this revolution beginning in Middle School English in the US.  They let the kids pick what they want to read.  At first I was like, "Yay!  Duh!  Of course if you give kids options, they will be more vested in what they read; it's about time."  However this elation quickly faded when a teacher told of how instead of To Kill A Mockingbird (in my opinion, one of the greatest pieces of American literature), most of her students had opted to read the Captain Underpants series instead.



Excuse me?!?  First of all, I know that series is WAY below their grade reading level.  As if American kids don't get a crappy enough education already.  We're basically the only ones who aren't well versed in several languages by adulthood, the only ones who have the time and means to play record levels of video games and watch record levels of tv and eat and eat till we're all obese as heck and yet our test scores as compared to the rest of the world are well BELOW average.  We think we're SO great and world dominant, but China is coming and their students actually study! (But that's a way different topic)
(ancient library at Alexandria, from which there is a brick in the Washington Monument- so cool!)

I can understand when kids are in Elementary School and they may be at varying reading levels depending on what kind of learning was going on at home and they can basically choose among Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Goosebumps, etc.  At this age, most books are highly gender specific, so it is only fair to let them choose what they want to read.  And to be honest, I really don't think that there are ANY pieces of actually GOOD literature before about the Jr. High reading level.  Maybe the Little Prince, but they won't get the philosophy behind it anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Montessori and the choices granted kids in that philosophy of teaching, but the difference there is if the 5th grader picks up The Little Prince on his own accord, his "teacher" or whatever they call them in this system would then have the opportunity to actually explain to the 5th grader the philosophical meanings if he or she were interested since there would be no confining subjects that the teacher MUST stick to.  This is awesome.  If a kid is eating something up, feed them more- they have obviously discovered a talent or natural propensity.

On the other hand, classroom free-for-all where there is complete disregard for the classics once you are old enough to start appreciating them is completely unacceptable.  What separates our generation from the generations of the past?  In my opinion, we have completely lost our sense of the humanities.  The art, literature, music, and philosophy that our very society was built upon has been replaced by the mindless Backstreet Boys, Twilight, texting, and materialism of our day.

I cannot accept the fact that teachers would honestly let students abandon their societal roots for a picture book about toilets.  It's both humiliating and shocking.  The one student who picks up Dickens over Harper Lee is not worth the 25 others in the class who run for comic books as a replacement for their literary education.  This is not education.  This is the stupifying of our country right before our very eyes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


sometimes blogger annoys me. I think it is the most under-worked branch of the world of Google. You'd think that a company that knows virtually everything would be able to know when its programs are annoying. Until then...bon appetit! :D

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Tech Revolution




So I was inspired by my mom's newest post which included a comic and so I did a quick search of something I have been thinking about lately- the pervasiveness of technology that is taking over our culture and how it is spreading even to the older generations. Case in point, my grandma is on Facebook. Not that I'm complaining, I helped her make her page, so there you go. It's almost a necessity so that my family members can actualy keep tabs on my nomadic life and see the photos along the way. Unfortunately, many people use FB time in the place of real social time. I was surprised when this week at church someone was actually asked to speak about the hazards of excessive online gaming. Whoa, the Bishop (an old guy) actually comprehended this issue and recognized that we need to hear about it! The talk was actually really good- he made the point that virtual living is just what it purports to be- virtual. Not real. He even quoted some of the lyrics from that Brad Paisley song "I'm So Much Cooler Online"- yeah, over the pulpit. It was awesome, rock on PA Saints!



I work down at the Pizza Pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I’m five foot three and overweight
I’m a sci fi fanatic mild asthmatic
Never been to second base
But there’s a whole ‘nother me
That you need to see
Go check out MySpace

‘Cause online I’m out in Hollywood
I’m six foot five and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I’m a black belt in karate
And I love a good glass of wine
It turns girls on that I’m mysterious
I tell ‘em I don’t want nothing serious
‘Cause even on a slow day I can have a three-way chat
With two women at one time
I’m so much cooler online
I’m so much cooler online

I get home I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack
I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up my Mac
In real life the only time
I’ve ever even been to L.A.
Was when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade

But online I live in Malibu
I pose for Calvin Klein I’ve been in GQ
I’m single and I’m rich
And I got a set of six-pack abs that would blow your mind
It turns girls on that I’m mysterious
I tell ‘em I don’t want nothing serious
‘Cause even on a slow day I can have a three-way chat
With two women at one time I’m so much cooler online
Yeah, I’m cooler online

When you’ve got my kind of stats
It’s hard to get a date
Let alone a real girlfriend
But I grow another foot
and lose a bunch of weight
Every time I log in



Honestly, technology is such a good thing that I use everyday for school, research, communication with my family and friends, and as a means of expression and political activism. However, it is no replacement for social skills and real human interaction. Just don't get hopelessly sucked in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Carlisle, Pennsylvania- my new home!

So here I am in sweet old Carlisle and I wanted to share a bit of what it is like!

This is my actual law building- one of the top five (I believe) oldest law schools in the country...therefore, it needs a little renovation. We'll be back in here for classes next semester!




This is my new house! It is located in the Downtown Carlisle Historic District and I live upstairs




This is around the corner from my house- it made me laugh ;D

Interesting factoids:
-Carlisle is about 15 miles from Harrisburg, the state capital (and considered for the US capital at one point)
-It's about 40 minutes from Gettysburg
-Almost 2 hours directly north of DC
-Home to the 2nd oldest military barracks in the US (and apparently where my Grandpa Bill was once stationed)
-Where Molly Pitcher is buried
-Visited my George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and other cool dudes back in the day

HOORAY!

The Beach...IN DELAWARE!!

(whoa-there's foliage!)

So, I have lived in Southern California my entire life (until that college thing) and so the beach was always there. However, until yesterday, I had NEVER been to the beach on the East Coast. So here are a couple photos of my Atlantic Ocean journey!


So I think the place we were at was called Indian River Beach in Rehoboth, DE, or something like that. I'm still learning about this boardwalk phenomenon, as opposed to the pier. There was definitely not any good surfable waves here, unless you want your brain smashed. Basically huge swells came out of nowhere and come crashing about a yard from shore and then about 10 ft into the water and beyond there are virtually no waves at all. Strange. But thrilling! The big challeng was to just get into the water.(period) Think The Wedge in Orange County or Makena Beach in Hawaii.

Some nice features:
-the actual stretch of sand between land and water is minimal- no toting coolers for a mile before getting to the water
-there are actually some plants
-the lifeguards where blue, it's nice to mix it up I guess

Less nice features:
-thunderstorms that come out of nowhere
-obviously the brain-smashing waves
-very thickly grained sand, more ouchy, although brushes off things better

Overall:
A heart-warming success!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tax Evasion Woes


We all knew that large scale tax evasion was getting out of control when several months ago one after another of Obama's cabinet picks were being disqualified on account of their HUGE histories tax evasion. And now, as the government gets hard pressed for money, they are FINALLY cracking down on this and its about time. I think they waited so long primarily because politicians operate with the aid of greedy people. People who want there policies furthered and will donate to political campaigns. Those same greedy people apparently just can't bear to have their precious money go to those that they don't approve of, as happens with taxes. Yes, those same greedy who are probably in the best position to financially contribute to the country through their tax dollars and yet, they are people who consistently evade their taxes. Not because if they pay taxes their kids won't eat, not because they have a serious issue with the tax system that they are trying to make a statement about (see note below), but just because they are greedy. And the government has been sitting back letting them get away with it, I feel, because they are their financial allies. It's disgusting.

I feel like it is a long-standing joke that rich drug dealer types hide their money in overseas Swiss banks and, as it turns out, its not such a joke anymore. Today the New York Times released a front page article stating that UBS (one of the largest Swiss banks with many international clients) has made a bargain with our IRS to turn over thousands of names representing Americans they suspect of large-scale tax evasion.

It's about time we got honest here.


NOTE: the reason I had to include this bit about making a statement was because I adore the character played by Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stanger Than Fiction who specifically didn't pay for the 22% percentage of her taxes that she had calculated went tothings she morally abhorred.

Ana Pascal: Listen, I'm a big supporter of fixing potholes and erecting swing sets and building shelters. I am more than happy to pay those taxes. I'm just not such a big fan of the percentage that the government uses for national defense, corporate bailouts, and campaign discretionary funds. So, I didn't pay those taxes. I think I sent a letter to that effect with my return.
Harold Crick: Would it be the letter that beings "Dear Imperialist Swine"?

Not exactly right, but better than greed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My 1st Movie Trailer!!

So last night I decided that sleeping would take the backseat to playing with iMovie on my laptop.  What emerged was the preliminary trailer of a little film that I like to call THE EVANMEISTER STRIKES BACK!  Needless to say, I am quite proud.  I will now attempt to post what I have so far!  (NOTE: you have to read the intro fast!)


video

So...I hope that you can appreciate the obvious genius behind this { ;) } as well as the fact that those two minutes took over two hours to compile!  haha  Hopefully there will be more to come!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Equal Rights...and pioneers?!

I just came across this photo again and I wanted to say something about it. The Mormon (LDS) Church gets a lot of people thinking erroniously that they oppress women. Of course no sect or group of any sort in our society is without its abuses, but I just had to speak up briefly with regards to this issue. I am an LDS women who is pursuing law school and, eventually, an international career. And although many of my LDS peers may not share my plans and aspirations, that does not mean that I am one whit less worthy of a member of this church. All of my church leaders are constantly telling me how proud they are of my achievements and none of them have ever discouraged me from continuing my education. Now, the point. In Nauvoo, the beautiful city established by early members of the Church in Illinois before their forced migration to Utah, there is a plaque that I am here pictured standing next to that reads:

"Last evening the ladies met to organize...Several resolutions were adopted...If the men wish to hold control over women, let them be on alert. We believe in equal rights."
-Louisa Barns Pratt
June 7, 1846

Yeah, we are talking a whopping 74 years before the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote in the US in 1920. Besides being whimsical, this quote is surprisingly prophetic. These were not your average barefoot "baby-makers" that are so belittled in our day. These early women were among the first pioneers to cross the plains and to settle uncharted land. They were courageous and fought death daily on behalf of their beliefs. They exibited enormous physical, emotional, and moral strength that any modern feminist could be proud of.

Happy Pioneer Day

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

West Bank Story+

Hey there. I just convinced my baby brother Evan to watch West Bank Story with me on Google Video and thought it would be a great thing to share! I first saw it a couple years ago and if you have any knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and/or the movies West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof and you can handle some extrememly corny humor, then you won't want to miss it! I just had to throw down some props to one of my favorite short films (an amazing genre of art in my opinion) Click the link and see! It's about 20 minutes- enjoy! And by the way, was anyone else WAY annoyed by the very repetitive and seemingly plotted answers of Sonia Sotomayor at her hearing today? I was.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

the great and abominable talk

At the request of Hayley who gave a fantastic Old Testament-oriented talk for mother's day, I am posting my Old Testament-oriented (I consider the Pearl of Great Price as a sweet revision of the Old Testament) talk for father's day! It's pretty long, so no pressure to read it or anything, but here is basically what I said...

In thinking on the topic of father’s day, one particular scriptural father, although somewhat obscure and not actually the greatest example of fatherhood, kept coming to my mind. When I kept thinking about him again and again, I decided to look into it and see what there was to learn from his story. I was thinking about Terah, whom the Old Testament identifies as the father of Abram who was later called Abraham, known in the church for, among other things, the Abrahamic Covenant. I found it particularly interesting that the great prophet that we often refer to as “Father Abraham” actually had a pretty rocky relationship with his earthly father.

This is obvious from the first facsimile in the book of Abraham, which depicts Abraham himself lying on an altar, about to be sacrificed by the priests of his father, Terah’s, religion. Verse 27 in the first chapter of Abraham states that Terah was led away by an idolatrous religion that sought to imitate the gospel and falsely claimed to have the priesthood through the lineage of Ham, the son of Noah. The followers of this sect in the land of Chaldea, where Abraham and Terah lived at that time, sacrificed heathens and because Abraham didn’t follow the idolatry of his father, he was chosen to be sacrificed. (Abraham 1: 7, 27) This adds humor to the first verse of the Book of Abraham, which says, “I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to find a new place of residence.” With your dad’s church buddies trying to sacrifice you, that’s quite an understatement!

Through all of his challenges like these, Abraham had a clear vision of what path he wished to pursue as a father. He wanted to claim the blessings of being a righteous and worthy priesthood bearer with the true authority of the Lord. I really like what he says about the joy and gift of the priesthood in Abraham chapter one, verses 2-4, “And finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same…I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.” Meaning he saw that there was great joy and many blessings available to himself and his posterity through the priesthood authority that came through the generations of his righteous forefathers like Adam and Enoch.

Thankfully, Abraham’s diligence in seeking after righteousness made him instrumental in becoming, as the Bible Dictionary describes him, “the founder of the covenant race” and “the father of the faithful”.

Through him came the Abrahamic Covenant from the Lord which we all can take part of. He is a symbolic father to all members of the church.

The True to the Faith Gospel Reference Manual published by the Church says that, “As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are a child of the covenant. You have received the everlasting gospel and inherited the same promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You have the right to the blessings of the priesthood and to eternal life, according to your faithfulness in receiving the ordinances of salvation and keeping the associated covenants. Nations of the earth will be blessed by your efforts and by the labors of your posterity.” (True To The Faith, “Abrahamic Covenant”)

The importance of families is central to the covenant made by Abraham. It relates to eternal marriage, eternal increase and progression. We are blessed to have the gospel so that we can know the eternal importance and significance of families and, armed with that knowledge, safeguard our families and begin working now to have a Celestial Family, which includes a righteous father.

In a great conference talk by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles called, “Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling”, Elder Perry boldly states, “It appears to me that the crosshairs of Satan’s scope are centered on husbands and fathers. Today’s media, for example, have been relentless in their attacks- ridiculing and demeaning husbands and fathers in their God-given roles…Satan, in his carefully devised plan to destroy the family, seeks to diminish the role of fathers.”

In contrast to what the world would have us believe, the gospel brings us eternal truth. The Family, a Proclamation to the World lets us know that, “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide for the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

Something that I am indebted to my father for is that he always worthily held the priesthood in my home; I was very blessed to have that. However, at school, when I was some 800 miles from my earthly father, I was still able to enjoy the blessings of the priesthood through righteous home teachers and church leaders. My first semester away from home I ran into a stressful and challenging time. I asked my home teachers, two very new Melchizedek Priesthood holders, to give me a blessing. It was obvious that they were nervous- they had never given a blessing before. Likewise, I had never received a blessing from anyone other than my father beforeSo we all had the opportunity to exercise our faith. It was a wonderful blessing; the Spirit was very strong, and there are things from that blessing four years ago that I still remember and that still give me comfort today. I am grateful for righteous Priesthood holders who bless the lives of all within their stewardship, whether they are biologically related or not.

Similar to this was the experience of the 2000 stripling warriors. We often think of this story in reference to the diligence of their mothers, but I also like to look at the leadership of Helaman who acted as their father, even referring to them on several occasions as his “sons”. (Alma 56) This makes me think of the righteous leadership the young men of our ward have not only from their fathers, but also from bishopric members, seminary teachers, and young men’s and scout leaders. I have seen them influence our young men for good and shape their character throughout my life. They have blessed the lives of many, including my own brothers, for which I am so grateful.

My earthly father has worked my whole life to set an example for me of righteous church service and has taught me the gospel on many levels. It seems to me that he has been working so hard for me so that I may have the best chance to be able to live in an eternal family, and that I may have success in this life and exaltation in the world to come. This mission of earthly fathers to help their children find joy in this life as well as in the eternities is the same as that of our Heavenly Father, who’s work and glory is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Like our mortal fathers, our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return to Him and experience joy. No matter what family circumstances we may have in this life, as President Howard W. Hunter put it, “We have a divine pedigree; every person is a spiritual child of God” and we have the ability to obtain all the blessings of the gospel for both ourselves and our posterity. (October Ensign, 1991)

I am so grateful for how the gospel light illuminates the true role of fathers and for the righteous men of this church who fulfill that role with all diligence, blessing the lives of all of God’s children.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shameful


So while Iranians are risking it all to protest for their rights, on the other side of the globe we have Angelinos (a term I just learned which apparently refers to people from LA- fun, huh?) who are also assmeblying en masse in the streets of Los Angeles. However, they are not rallying peacefully, oh no, they are starting fires in the street, throwing fireworks in front of cars, looting the stores of their very own neighbors, and more. And why are they doing this? Not because their rights are in jeopardy, but because their team won the NBA Championships. No, you read it right- they WON. How they connected victory with permission to destroy the property of their fellow Angelinos is beyond me. Frankly, I think it is ridiculous and that they are making a mockery of our freedom to peaceably assemble. It is a sorry excuse to steal from your neighbors and I wish that they had been punished by not having any disputed Lakers parade at all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time for the Truth

I don't have the time to make a full analysis, but I just wanted to take a moment to say: ROCK ON, IRAN! Honestly, this is a huge step in independence for government oppression! I love that the Iranian people are standing up against their government and demanding the truth. I do not see these post-election riots as a result of some people being sore losers or just trouble makers, but rather, many people are feeling not only underserved, but lied to by their government and they are fed up! I am so happy for them exercising their right to have the truth and to let their opinions be heard and acted upon. Even though there is apparantly a ban on this kind of demonstration in Iran, these citizens looked at the higher law of human rights and went ahead and protested, despite the ban. The right to peacably assemble should be a given, so as long as they do their best to steer clear of violent protesting, I am totally on their side. And shockingly, so far it looks like their protesting might even work! There is already talk of a review of the votes and I wish them all the best!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cliff's Notes of Obama’s Speech in Cairo, by Lindsey Price



This is REEEEALLY IMPORTANT (any of my Jerusalem friends will understand this homage to Brother Seely, our Ancient Near East professor, and I really mean it!)- not just for Egyptians, not just for Muslims, not just for the Arab world, but also for us as Americans who ought to be studying what our current administration has plans to do and what their core values are. This also was a call to American's to learn more about Islam so that we can grow together in mutual respect. So I hope that this post serves as a nice overview and to educate and inspire progress, as was intended. sorry about this color-it's being stubborn!-

I was very happy with President Obama’s speech in Cairo this week. Of course, its not a panacea, but I think that he took a lot of time to plan and prepare, and as a result, I feel that he outlined very well many things that are of great global importance right now.

I was a little annoyed at how much time he spent on trying to connect himself with Islam when, come on Obama, you’re a rich American Christian politician whose dad’s family just happened to have some black Muslims - a religion somewhat alienated from what most people view as the world of Islam. But, hey, you’ve gotta give him credit for trying. And he did say many good things that will hopefully get the point across that, no, the US does not hate Islam.

So after all of his feel-good Islam comments, he finally got down to the main points of his speech which included (and I will quote my favorite or the most notable parts of each section):

  1. Confronting Extremism

{This is addressed a lot in point 2} The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America's goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice, we went because of necessity. I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet Al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there. It is agonizing for America to lose our young men and women. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can. But that is not yet the case.

  1. Israel/Palestine

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires. The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered. {I LOVE this part}

  1. Nuclear Weapons

No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  1. Democracy

So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.{I was a little surprised by the bluntness of this- a different point of view than the previous administration} That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

  1. Religious Freedom

Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's.{Very good point- following this would help settle a lot of hate in Israel/Palestine}The richness of religious diversity must be upheld – whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt. And fault lines must be closed among Muslims as well, as the divisions between Sunni and Shia have led to tragic violence, particularly in Iraq.

  1. Women’s Rights

Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams. {YAY! This is a BIG deal for me and this was probably my favorite part of the specch}

  1. Economic Development

I know that for many, the face of globalization is contradictory. The Internet and television can bring knowledge and information, but also offensive sexuality and mindless violence. Trade can bring new wealth and opportunities, but also huge disruptions and changing communities. In all nations – including my own – this change can bring fear. Fear that because of modernity we will lose of control over our economic choices, our politics, and most importantly our identities – those things we most cherish about our communities, our families, our traditions, and our faith.

But I also know that human progress cannot be denied. There need not be contradiction between development and tradition. Countries like Japan and South Korea grew their economies while maintaining distinct cultures. The same is true for the astonishing progress within Muslim-majority countries from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai. In ancient times and in our times, Muslim communities have been at the forefront of innovation and education. {And then he gave some great ideas about creating business and technology partnerships and creating more international internships and scholarships…none of which we probably have money for at the time…}

  1. PEACE!

It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is also one rule that lies at the heart of every religion – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples – a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian, or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the heart of billions. It's a faith in other people, and it's what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."

The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace."

The Holy Bible tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.


OKAY, so I have been reading online and listening to the radio and the reactions so far have been pretty positive. Most Cairo university student’s whose opinions I read seemed to be glad at the overall balance (meaning lack of bias) that the President’s speech held. However, a few of them condemned him for his excess of rhetoric verses his lack of concrete solutions. Although, as we know, most of the issues the world faces do not have a simple solution. And this was not meant to be a “let’s solve the world’s problems, right here, right now” speech, rather it was meant to be more of a “let’s put out on the table for the world the opinions of the US’ new administration and try to start a better relationship with our Muslim neighbors” speech, and I think that it was successful in fulfilling that. I think that this speech will serve as an outline to Obama's presidenct and as a guide to legislators worldwide. Hence, it truly is "REEEEEEALY IMPORTANT" :)

Click here to read the entire text of the speech compliments of The New York Times.

Cuba is our neighbor again!

Well, Cuba has always been our geographic neighbor, however, for decades our relationship with Cuba has been aything but neighborly. Several weeks ago I was very pleased to hear that President Obama was talking like he wanted to lift the embargo. In case you did not know, the US has not had any trade with Cuba and we did not even have any direct flights allowed between the US and Cuba, not to mention Cuba was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS) back in the early 1960's. They have been largely ostracized as a nation by the rest of the Americas, particularly the US, for nearly fifty years as a result of Cold War strife and lingering post-Cold War sentiments as well as the fact that Fidel Castro turned out to be a big lying Marxist who misled the entire diplomatic world along with his own people as he seized power (but that is a different, MUCH longer story).

Now the tide has changed. Last year Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother because of his failing health. Obama was elected President with the intent of largely improving international relations. Many more of the countries within the Americas are developing more Leftist govenrments. Put it all together and -BAM- we can be friends with Cuba again!

I thought that Robert Wood, US State Department Deputy Spokeman, put it well when he said, "The historic action taken today eliminates a distraction from the past and allows us to focus on the realities of today."- regarding the re-admittance of Cuba into the OAS.

I think that this is really good news for Cubans and families of Cubans who have been struggling for years thanks to some lingering ill will towards Castro decades ago in a war that, in my mind, ought to be long-since gotten over.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do Something Interesting

(photos of sprained wrist, sprained thumb, popped blood vessels, and a double tackle below) 
I love rugby; I think that most of you know this.  I have dedicated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon along with Saturday mornings for practice; most Tuesday and Thursday mornings for weight training; and virtually half of all my weekends to games and traveling during season for the past 4 years to my team.  By very rough calculations, including travel and presidential duties, I estimate that that comes to approximately 1700 hours.  Wow.  Making minimum wage, that comes to over thirteen and a half thousand dollars.  If I had cheap housing, that would have been enough to pay for my tuition and rent for four years of Fall and Winter semesters!  Time is money, after all.  (I guess that’s why most college teams can justify giving their athletes free tuition- they demand a TON of time from them to represent their school.  Although, I really respect Harvard for not letting athletes on their football team who were not academically admitted to the University.  It is only fair that someone getting a free education actually deserves it!  Giving the spot of a hard-working and bright student to some fat meathead who will only pass his classes because of athlete favoritism is not fair and tarnishes the reputation of the degree he will be given without actually being up to par.  Boo to football!  But I digress…)  But that doesn’t matter to me nearly as much as the things I have gained by being a college athlete.

 

The BYU women’s team is really unique in several ways.  For one, we are all members of the LDS faith and this is manifested in many activities that other teams just do not have.  We pray together before every game and after every practice.  When we are on the road, we have devotionals where we sing a hymn and have a spiritual thought every morning.  We occasionally have team fasts.  We meet up with each other at Stake Conferences and sit together to listen to our church leadership instruct us.  We even invite one another to come to the temple.  We bond together through our common gospel values and this brings us together more than anything.  We see each other at our best, crying with joy and we say a prayer of gratitude after a successful game that means advancing to the quarter finals, and at our worst, stumbling as we attempt to run up the hill near the field for the tenth time with a teammate on our back, or getting taken out of a game, dazed, with a new concussion.  We experience everything together and see each other nearly everyday.  It is obvious why I miss them so much.

 

We also are not a sponsored Varsity team.  Meaning, we don’t get University funding.  No scholarships.  No monthly discretionary funds like the football team.  No new Nikes every month.  No BYU equipment without a pricetag.  We largely pay our own way.  Fortunately, we had a gracious donor help us with warm-ups and other travel gear and the National Guard gave us new uniforms and field equipment- we count those as major blessings.  The rest is up to us, either out of pocket or through our fundraising efforts {see womenscougarrugby.com to make a donation}.  The result?  We REALLY want it.  We work for this team, we fight for this team, we put our money where our mouth is.  Other teams we played against got to travel to Europe to play games, while we are still paying off our trip to Florida for the finals.  This perpetual fight for respect and legitimacy has given us determination, heart, and unbeatable cameraderie.

 

I also got a few other things from being on this team that were somewhat less pleasant. Besides the fact that I actually had to wear a walking boot over my broken foot at graduation, I have a lengthy history of injuries, that is actually mild in comparison to many of my teammates.  I have made a similar list of said injuries before (I think it was only my second blog post back in the day, but it has a photo of my neck X-ray and black eye if you want to check it out!), and now I want to conclude it:

-cracked rib

-massive black eye

-100s, possibly 1000s of bruises

-torn ligaments all over the top of my foot requiring years of PT

-cervical spine reversal (yeah, bad)

-3 lost toenails

-one VERY dead leg

-tendonitis in my shoulder

-bersitis in my shoulder

-impingement in my shoulder

-2 sprained wrists

-neck soreness ALL the time

-popped blood vessels all along my shoulders and upper back, regularly

-2 thumbs on the verge of dislocation, requiring lots of tape

-1 partially ripped off thumb nail

-2 inch scar under my forearm

-3 scars across my knees

-some awful blood blisters, and regular ones too

-supposedly a hairline fracture on my right foot

-sprains and strains all over my right foot

-and on & on & on

 

That was fun.  Dear parents of the world, take note- this list seems daunting, even abusive.  And yet in the process, I have made the best of friends, been able to travel all over the country, built my confidence, increased my fitness, expanded myself culturally, and helped define me as I grew through my college years.  Your kids may express a desire to do things that, frankly, scare you.  Tae Kwon Do, wrestling, fencing, rugby…but I would ask you to not get hung up on the stereotypes (everyone thinks that rugby players are beastly 300 pound aggressive man-eating Lesbians- not entirely true), but think of what they can gain.  If you want your kids (or yourself!) to learn new skills, be healthy, and develop team player qualities, then you might as well let them do something that they want to do so they don’t get burned out and decide that channel surfing must be the only sport for them.  No one wants that.

 

Take home message: go for it!  I have scared my parents many a time with sports injuries, traveling to Palestine while terrorist acts were occurring frequently, SCUBA diving with amateurs in another hemisphere, and so forth and I am nothing but better for it!  Try something new today- everyone needs a hobby!  Don’t let the mundane dominate your life; be that lone white girl in hula class, take that trip that you’ve always wanted, study that language you are curious about, paint your room that crazy color!

 

Keep it real.   

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Welcome back to the fresh air, Roxana


Really interesting story. I remember hearing an obscure tale of an Iranian-American journalist imprisoned in Tehran, Iran, for espionage. Seemed ridiculous at the time and as the facts are surfacing, looks even more ridiculous now. There are actually several journalists imprisoned in Tehran at the moment on similar charges and I am sure they all have similar stories. These arrests and detainments appear to be purely politically motivated and, in a word, corrupt.

Yesterday it was announced that Roxana Saberi was released from prison in Tehran. Of note is the fact that she has dual citizenship in the US and Iran and her father is an Iranian native. She has lived there for about 6 years, working as a freelance journalist for BBC and other news agencies while living with her family. If I had family in the Middle East as well as citizenship in a Middle Eastern country, you bet I would be over there in a minute to be able to get first-hand information to share with the global news network. Not to mention she has cultural and linguistic experience in the area and she is trained in journalism. Of course she is going to be there! It is all very logical and yet the Iranian government leapt to the ridiculous conclusion that she must be a spy for the United States and locked her up in jail with an eight year sentence after a hearing that, according to Saberi’s father, was a mockery and lasted only a couple of minutes.

Thank goodness for people like her who are willing to leave home (although, arguably, Iran is like home to her, making the case for her being an enemy to the state even less likely) in order to seek out global truth so that others can know what is going on and be able to intervene in unjust cases like this. Good thing someone is there to find this out and the word can get to those in authority to help set things right. I admire international journalists and I plead with them to deliver truth, not to further agendas under the guise of truth.
Honestly, can't we just tell the truth? Politicians, teachers, reporters, writers, parents? That would make things a lot easier.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Tribute to My Mom

Well, I graduated from college a couple of weeks ago and I have the greatest mom ever, so I wanted to take a moment to explain the connection between those two statements of fact.

The thing is, my Momma has been with me every step of the way. She got me Ninja Turtles shoe lace chompers so that I would not have the peril of untied shoes in preschool, thereby eliminating any unnecessary distraction from my early childhood education. She waited until I could actually read before putting me into GATE classes at school so I wouldn't get frustrated and hate it. She let me do after-school sports, summer swimming squad in junior high, high school sports, and even college sports which helped keep me invested in my education and mentally refreshed for my studies. She stood in long lines so that I could transfer into better schools with better programs. She literally made me lunch everyday up until I graduated from high school- amazing!- unless of course it was "breakfast for lunch" at Patton Elementary, in the which case, I gladly bought. There was also hot cocoa ready for me before seminary everyday and, although I scorched my tongue most of the time, it was a greatly appreciated boost to get me out the door in the morning. Demonstrated by hundreds of PTA meetings and Parent-Teacher Conferences and Booster Club events, school carnival shifts, napkins in my lunch that said "I love you" in permanent marker, water polo games and swim meets attended, and countless other acts of service, her love for me was loud and clear. She set the example by working late into the nights to finish her own school work and showed me the value of an education as she finished her degree- I am so proud of her for that. My mom came with me to set up my dorm room at BYU and take a freshmen photo at the very same spot we are in for the photo above four years later when she stood by me again, this time as a college graduate. Thanks for letting me call you all the time and always knowing when to send me a box of treats and when to tell me to stop whining and to always inspire me to never give up while always believing in my value as a women, as a daughter of God, and as a person in this world. I love you SO much and I thank you for giving me every opportunity for growth and happiness. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remember the Taliban?


Big problems. The Pakistani government, in an effort to protect its people has told many of its citizens to evacuate in order to avoid an imminent battle between the Pakistan army and Taliban fighters. With their people’s security as the government’s priority, peace accords were signed in February between the Taliban and the Pakistani government that basically, in part, ceded the Taliban some land in exchange for a ceasefire. Seems all well and good, except now there is no longer a ceasefire, as the area of Mingora has been recently taken by force by Taliban members, and the land given to the Taliban is now being used as a base to launch their offensive against Pakistan. Mistake number one: giving ANYTHING to the Taliban. Seems overstated, but the “we will NOT negotiate with terrorists” stance is, in my opinion, probably the safest. I hate to blame them, though, because if I saw a glimmer of peace through some talks and agreements, then I would be tempted to give it a shot, in the hope that lives would be saved and that people would come through for you and not go back on their word. I like to have faith in people. Unfortunately, we are talking about the Taliban here…not exactly the most charitable and trustworthy members of the human race. So, sadly, these peace accords have horribly backfired on Pakistan. But better luck negotiating with terrorists next time.
Photo of Pakistanis evacuating. Yeah, not enough room actually inside the bus apparently. Courtesy of New York Times.