To Agree or Disagree…

On Wednesday, Professor Warner Woodworth made this outrageous statement:

As a committed Latter-day Saint and Brigham Young University professor, I and others disagree with whatever Vice President Dick Cheney will say at this Thursday’s commencement (emphasis added).

While I didn’t get a chance to listen to the Cheney’s speach, I read it. Here are some of the things that Woodworth disagrees with:

  • But this day belongs to the fine young men and women who’ve actually earned their degrees.
  • There is also a great spirit to BYU, and this University will always be part of you. We had a glimpse of the character of BYU again last Friday, when this campus held a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. More than a place of learning, BYU is a community of faith, and kindness, and compassion.
  • Above all, you’ll carry the distinction of earning a degree from BYU — a place with impressive alumni throughout this nation and far beyond. The values of this school have been a guide to generations. BYU alumni are men and women at home in the world — working and achieving, and reflecting great credit on this University and on the LDS church.
  • Setting a plan for your life can be a good thing — it keeps you focused on the future, and gives you a standard for measuring your progress. Yet I would guess that 10 years from now, many of you will find yourselves following a very different course, all because of an opportunity that came out of the blue.
  • You, too, may face some disappointing turns of your own — times when you fall short, knowing you could have done better. And when that happens, don’t give up or let your doubts get the best of you.
  • gratitude, in general, is a good habit to get into. It is usually a correct appraisal of our situation. Most of us are able to succeed and to rise in the world because someone helped out along the way — whether it was a memorable teacher, or a boss who handed us a great opportunity, or the person who took a chance and gave us the first big break in our career. A grateful heart is an honest understanding of all that we have been given, and all that is expected in return.

Wow, I would have hated to disagree with any of that. Disagreeing with some of it could and probably should lead to disciplinary action by the University.

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Choice = Better Television

I often find myself disagreeing with Scott Pierce, the television columnist at the Deseret News. However, I find his articles usually quite enjoyable to read. However, he is wrong in his latest column.

While, I don’t agree with the Parents Television Council‘s effort for more government control of television. I do agree that Cable Television should provide an a-la-carte menu. I don’t think that it should be government mandated, I just wish that private industry would provide an a-la-carte cable option without force.

Peirce argues that by creating an a-la-carte style cable system then many of our favorite cable networks would disappear. His claim is that many of these cable stations make money from subscriptions. This is a complete lie. Most subscription services (magazines, newspapers, and even cable networks) make their money from advertising. Subscriptions are simply used to prove that the people view the ads are actually paying customers and not people looking for a free ride.

Of the 38 networks that Peirce lists, there are only a few that are free of advertisements. The rest rely on ads to pay the bills. They are also able to charge a premium ad rate because they can say that their viewers have a specific interest. DIY and TLC can charge more for home improvement ads, and Oxygen can charge more for ads targeted to women.

If people chose their favorite 20 channels, then the premium they could charge for ads would go up. I am sure that this increase would more than make up for lose due to subscription reductions.

Further, If you accept Peirce’s premise that bulk rates are the only way for some of your favorite stations to survive, then I have one question. Why should my money go to support something I don’t watch? If it couldn’t survive without my minute contribution, then why should it survive.

Some might argue that if the a-la-carte style cable system would work, then why aren’t they offering it. The simple answer is because people are willing to pay for bulk packages. It is cheaper to eat at a buffet and not at a cafeteria. However, there are many people who will go to a good steak house rather than get a tough slice of second rate beef from a buffet.

I don’t subscribe to cable. I don’t see that it is worth my money. However, if I could buy just a few extra channels, then I might consider paying more per channel just to get the best of what is available.

The Jordan School Disctrict Twists Truth

We just received our copy of the Jordan School District’s Newsletter called Windows (pdf). For those who don’t get the publication it is supposed to be a way for the School District to communicate about the successes in the District to the people in the community.

While it would be nice if they presented the failures too, they wouldn’t do that because then they would get a bad name. But that really isn’t the issue with the most recent publication.

My big concern is the lie found on page two. Specifically, I am focused on the graphic that supposedly represents the fiscal responsibility of the district.

Jordan School District Fiscal Responsibility Graphic

As I looked at this graphic, I couldn’t help but think that something was wrong. Then I remember from my Statistics 110 class in college. They taught me that one way to lie about statistics is to let the graphic do the lying for you. You don’t manipulate the number to tell a different story, instead you manipulate the graphic.

That means the presenter does something in the graphic that makes it look like the numbers represent more or less than it really does. This is sometimes done by using a brighter (or darker) color to make it look bigger (or smaller). Sometimes they do this by using two different graphics that portray the numbers differently giving one a more appealing appearance.

As I looked the dollar over I realized that “Administrative” cost were about 7% of the budget for the District. However, the darkened area sure seems to be more like 1 or 2%. So, I got out a trusty ruler and did some quick math. The graphic should have had a lot larger dark area for Administrative costs. It should have looked more like this:

Fixed Graphic of Jordan School Districts Expenses.

Then I realize that there is another section other than in classroom spending. It is for “Support Services.” What are support services if they aren’t administrative? I thought that administrations were to support the schools?

I read through the supporting article, and there is not discussion about what support services are. My guess is that they are anything that the administration can hide from administrative costs in order to make their district look good.

So, I would personally like to lump support services with administrative costs and argue that the Jordan School District is spending 33% (that’s 1/3) of our tax dollars on administration, and that seems outrageous to me. Sorry, Jordan School District this is one tax payer who isn’t impressed with your numbers.

BYU’s Changes Its Honor Code

I just recent read that BYU is changing it’s honor code. And honestly, I don’t like it. Is this the capitulation of the Church to homosexuals? Will Soulforce claim this as a victory? Am I the only Mormon who finds this capitulation offensive?

I agree with loving the sinner and hating the sin. I agree that the worse act is have sex with a person of the same gender. I understand that same gender attraction is not a severe act, but this all seems like just a step closer to our tolerance and ultimate acceptance of homosexuality.

I have a gay friend, a gay cousin, and work with another gay men. I treat them with respect. However, I ache for their decision to do something morally wrong. Let’s remember that even our thoughts can be immoral. Mosiah 4:30 says “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (emphasis added).

Now I am not saying the BYU should be the thought police. However, if someone comes out as openly gay, I strong feel that they should take action. Tyron Edwards is noted as saying “Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.”

BYU seems so caught up in political correctness that they have forgotten what is right.

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The Church is True No Matter Where You Sit

My wife likes to sit up front.  I tease her that it doesn’t matter where you sit in the chapel the Church is still true.

We once got to the chapel a little late and ended up sitting on the second to last row, and it really bothered her.  I had no problem with it.  Sure the teens behind us were a little annoying, but the message was still the same and the gospel was true.

However, I had an opportunity to sit up close (sort of) during General Conference.  My three oldest kids are all old enough to attend this year (the Church recommends eight years and older to be in the conference center).  So, when the bishop mentioned that he had five tickets for any one who wanted to attend the Sunday Afternoon Session of Conference, I figured that this would be a great time to take the kids.

The message that was shared during the last session was the same for those in the Conference Center as those watching through another medium.  The Spirit was equally conveyed by the wonderful speaker to all.  And I still struggle with staying awake during sessions, whether at home or in the Conference Center.

However, it was very wonderful experience to finally attend Conference in the same room as the Prophet, his Counselors, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Seventy.  From where we sit, my wife could barely manage to figure out who was who.  We would have been stumped if we didn’t have the Twelve memorized in order of seniority.  However, you could see the simple humanity in these great men of God.

My testimony is stronger as a result of being in the Conference Center.  The message was the same.  The Spirit was there for all who attended or watched.  However, seeing the love of these men in person was a wonderful experience and a lift in my testimony.