Archive for September, 2006

Bartering With Family

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

I am a big fan of bartering. I know nothing about cars. I know how to dig dirt, though. My father-in-law is really good with cars but can’t do as much manual labor as he used to. Today Krissy and I went to their place and dig some dirt out of a flowerbed that hadn’t seen the light of day for over forty years and he tuned up our car. It was hard work, but my in-laws do so much for Krissy and me that I’m glad to help out when I can.

Krissy digging in the ditch.

Bill with his new high-powered watergun.

California Outlaws Holding Cell Phones while Driving

Friday, September 15th, 2006

The law goes into effect in 2008 forcing anyone wishing to use a cellular phone while driving in California to purchase a hands-free device, such as a headset, or face a fine. Headset manufacturers and resellers rejoice statewide. It is interesting to note that a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that although using a cell phone while driving is hazardous, “units that allowed the hands to be free offered no safety advantage over hand-held units.”

When radios were first installed in cars there was serious concern that they would be too distracting to the driver. They would make accidents much more common and put everyone in jeopardy.

I don’t think that people are better drivers with a brick plastered to the side of their head, but I do have a problem when scientific evidence shows something and laws are passed based on unscientific ideas to the contrary. Either let everyone use cell phones when they drive or ban their use outright. Maybe it is a question of enforcement. I can imagine that it would be trivial to disguise the use of a hands-free device. “I was practicing a speech I have to give, officer!” Or perhaps, “I was just singing along to my favorite song that came on the radio.” Maybe even, “Well, I know there is no one else in the car. I’d like to be on my way now… filthy hobbitses! They took the Preciousss, but we will show them!” Anything to avoid the ticket, right?

So there you have it. A useless law that will only take away more of our freedom. While we’re at it we should make it illegal to drive if you have kids in your car. Now there’s a distraction just screaming “serious collision.”

Unexpected Reply from Steven Jones

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Steven Jones during a lectureAccording to an article in the Deseret Morning News dated Friday, September 8, 2006:

Brigham Young University placed physics professor Steven Jones on paid leave Thursday while it reviews his involvement in the so-called “9/11 truth movement” that accuses unnamed government agencies of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.

BYU will conduct an official review of Jones’ actions before determining a course of action, university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said. Such a review is rare for a professor with “continuing status” at BYU, where Jones has taught since 1985.

I take issue with the term “so-called” being used in the first paragraph considering that that is, in fact, what the movement calls itself and that is what they seek, but that’s a topic I could go on about.

The point is that I emailed his publicly listed email address expressing my condolences and encouragement not to give up. This morning I received a response thanking me for my comments. I was surprised that he would actually take the time to reply considering the amount of correspondence he has no doubt received.

His situation is rather dire. BYU doesn’t grant tenure, but rather something they call “continuing status” which basically promises a job at the University as long as you remain an upstanding member of society, uphold Church doctrine and policy, and maintain job performance. He seems to have done nothing wrong. He even makes references to doctrine regarding the defense of the constitution, although these references are not always cited as relating to doctrines of the Church. This official review may have been partly the result of an August 2006 article by Jonathon Moseley for World Net Daily which includes the following paragraph accusing Jones of “calling for the violent overthrow of the government.”

Professor Steven Jones of Brigham-Young University accused George Bush of being a dictator, mimicking the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. When asked if violent revolution was necessary, this scientist declared – in front of national TV cameras – that there is no peaceful way to achieve the group’s goals. In the context of the question, professor Jones was calling for the violent overthrow of the government.

They were forced to retract the comment, which they did. But the accusation was still made and now he’s in danger of losing his job and possibly having his career ruined.

Steven Jones is a brave man who is just doing what his scientific truth-seeking conscience thinks is right. I wish him good luck in this time of difficulty and hope that those BYU faculty members will see him for who he is and allow him to continue his career at BYU.