Imagine if Nancy Workman was Still County Overlord... I Mean Mayor

Gosh! Imagine if Nancy Workman was still county mayor. (God Forbid.) When Sandy came to present their original funding scheme to get the Réal Sandy soccer stadium built, she would have said, "Wait! Can't we give you more money? What can we do to spend more money?? (And plaster my name all over the project)..."

Oh, I know. Let's subsidize a huge development 3 times the size of the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake. Who exactly is going to profit from this Mondo-Gateway development, anyway? Why can't they pay for it themselves? How about these anonymous developers pay for the infrastructure upgrades for the Réal Sandy stadium while they're at it, since having the stadium next to their development will bring them big bucks.

Thank goodness we have someone fiscally responsible running the county. Thank you Mayor Corroon.


Sandy City Politicians Need to Lay Off the Crack

Wow! Is this really the best they could come up with?

I just read the proposal from Sandy City regarding their public funding scheme for the Réal Sandy (Salt Lake?) soccer stadium. I really, honestly thought they'd come up with something better than this. They only managed to lower the county contribution from $87 million to $76 million. Really? Is that the best you could do?

And adding in Sandy City's miniscule contribution, the entire cost to taxpayers: $96.5 million!!

So, Sandy thought they could get people on board by saying this would just be a part of a 136-acre development... a new downtown at the south end of the valley. Is that what they thought?

I'm really shocked. It's mind boggling. I don't think Sandy is going to get the stadium with this deal.


The Best News Ever

I just received the best news ever. :)
My former boss at the not-so-Grand America Hotel was fired!!!!
He was such a Dick, I mean his name was Richard... Richard made my life a living hell. So, I was so pleased to hear he'd been fired. There is some justice in the universe after all. :)
He was the "Creative Director" but didn't have a creative bone in his body. He hardly ever even did anything besides sit behind my coworker Amy for 8 hours every day looking over her shoulder telling her every change to make to designs. Talk about uncomfortable!
I can't even begin to tell you all the creepy, weird, asinine things he did. WORST BOSS I'VE EVER HAD. Even worse than Nikki at the Sundance Film Festival and that's bad.
I became seriously depressed while working at that job because he was so awful. I dreaded going to work each day.
If you see a guy named Richard applying for a job at your company with "Creative Director" of the Grand America Hotel on his résumé, slam the door in his face.


Religion a Branch of Politics

The great 9th century philosopher Abu Nasr al-Farabi once said that "religion was just another means of controlling the masses and should be viewed as a branch of politics."
This is especially evident when looking at the Republican party today.


I didn't know I was making a doc about the definition of marriage

While reading my email this morning, I saw the one from the Daily Utah Chronicle I receive every day (or once a week during the Summer) with their top headlines. One headline stood out, "Former U student creates documentary about the definition of marriage."

I'm also working on a documentary film about another topic entirely, but had actually considered making a documentary about the history of marriage. So, that one intrigued me.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the link and found it was an article about ME.

Unfortunately, whoever wrote the headline didn't read the rest of the article since it mentions the real topic of my film. Having been interviewed many times before, I was not at all surprised to find that it contained a few factual errors.

It's always interesting to see how other people organize the remarks you make in a long-ranging interview, picking one or two comments out of context.

Read the article here: Former U student creates documentary about ???

How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay

Boy: Mommy, is make-up just for girls?
Mom: Make-up is for girls and really fabulous boys.

--Eckerd, Rockaway Blvd & Liberty Ave, Ozone Park

From Overheard in New York.


If One Can Question God, Why Can't One Question Mormon Church Leaders?

Jeffrey Nielsen, was interviewed on RadioWest on KUER the other day regarding his firing from BYU. In the interview he said:
"I've never thought we [Mormons] believed in the infallibility of our [Mormon church] leaders. That's not a part of our doctrine. I think it's a social practice. We find examples in the Bible of people questioning god. And god, I think, didn't damn them for it. He changed his mind. I'm thinking of Abraham and Moses as two examples. I mean, if we can question god, we can certainly question another human being."
Good point, Brother Nielsen.

Academic Freedom Non-Existent at BYU

In light of Jeffrey Nielsen being let go at BYU as an instructor in the Philosophy department for expressing his views on gay marriage in an op-ed piece for the Salt Lake Tribune, I see that BYU still struggles with Academic Freedom, which is a basic tenet of institutions of higher learning and BYU does not understand this important aspect of a university.
Although, I'm not at all surprised that BYU let him go as everyone expected it the moment they read his op-ed piece. According to the Tribune, "BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the decision to let Nielsen go came from the philosophy department.
'The department made the decision because of a recent opinion piece that publicly contradicted and opposed a statement by the First Presidency,' Jenkins said. 'Such contradiction is in violation of university policy.'"
I beg to differ, Ms Jenkins. BYU's "Statement on Academic Freedom" specifically states: "...
exercise of individual and institutional academic freedom must be a matter of reasonable limitations. In general, at BYU a limitation is reasonable when the faculty behavior or expression seriously and adversely affects the university mission or the Church. Examples would include expression with students or in public that:
  1. contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy;"
If you actually read Jeffrey Nielsen's letter in the Trib, you'd see that he very carefully analyzed and discussed the Church's stance on gay marriage. He didn't just contradict it. But no one at BYU probably even read his op-ed piece. That's standard operating procedure at BYU. Condemn first without all the facts.
Like when Julie Stouffer was on MTV's the Real World New Orleans. They kicked her out of BYU based on hearsay while specifically stating that no one at BYU had actually watched any of the episodes of the Real World. If they had, they would have seen an admirable young woman who was shown going to church on Sundays, reading scriptures, having fun while being a good Latter-day Saint and good role model for her roommates and young people all across America. By kicking her out of BYU, the Church only hurt their own image among America's youth.
Good luck with that Mormon church. Let's see how far this attitude gets you. Back when I was still active in the church, they talked about how they were losing huge numbers of youth who were leaving the church. That won't be changing any time soon.


Jeffrey Nielsen's Response to BYU Firing

June 13, 2006

Daniel W. Graham, chair
Department of Philosophy
Brigham Young University

Dear Dan,

I regretfully read your letter of June 8 informing me that because of my opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune of June 4, you have decided not to rehire me to teach the philosophy courses I had already been scheduled to teach through next year. I have only the utmost respect and admiration for you and for the students, faculty, and staff in the Philosophy Department at Brigham Young University. In my experience, the students and faculty have always been engaged and lively participants in the academic pursuit of truth. Now let me address some of the issues you expressed in your letter.

Church leaders have consistently opposed same-sex attraction and gay marriage. I have never agreed with this position believing that it was based in misunderstanding and in a purely human bias of cultural place and time and not reflective of divine will. Yet I have never publicly, or in the classroom, opposed their policy. Yet when church leaders take a political stand on a moral issue, then I am not only engaged as a member of the church, but also as an American citizen. As an American citizen, I publicly expressed an honest opinion contradicting a political statement by our church leaders. I fear for the church and the university if the time comes when the members of the church, including faculty at BYU, are not allowed to disagree, either in public or private, with political positions taken by the church. If such conformity is required, then we deserve to be called neither a church nor a university.

I also strongly disagree with the implications of your statement that faithfulness and loyalty to the church and church leaders never permits expressions of disagreement, or questioning of our church leaders - especially in an academic setting. Unquestioning acquiescence and blind loyalty to leaders in positions of power over human beings have no place in any institution of higher learning that values the pursuit of truth and search for justice. And in my mind, what is philosophy but the quest for truth and justice. I believe that there is great potential at BYU that will never be realized if the faculty, in certain areas of study, are limited in their research and work by the necessity of arriving at pre-approved answers given by church leaders.

Finally, when it comes to the sustaining of church leaders, I will always argue for the privilege of church members to examine, question, and dialogue with each other and with their leaders in order to genuinely sustain and support church doctrines and teachings. I do not believe that sustaining leaders requires either silent acquiescence or unquestioning conformity, but it does require active engagement with one another and with our church leaders, regardless of our place or position within church leadership hierarchies. If sustaining our leaders is to be real and genuine - not a sham as are elections in totalitarian governments - then members must be free to examine, question and benevolently criticize. Ultimately, I strongly believe that every person possesses the privilege to speak and the obligation to listen.

Again, I have only respect and admiration for you. I have enjoyed our association, and I also wish you the best.


Jeff Nielsen


Paper Tiger, Zarqawi Dead?

First the Pentagon creates this legend or myth of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq and then when it's politically expedient, they kill him off. As people started questioning whether Zarqawi was even a real person, the Bush administration conveniently kills him. He's becoming a liability and no longer an asset. Once one of the excuses for going to war, now it's become useful to kill off the fictional character in order to look good going into the midterm elections.

From the Asia Times:

Before January 2003, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was little known. Zarqawi stopped being a non-entity on February 5, 2003, when he was spectacularly catapulted onto the global stage - six weeks before the start of the Iraq war - by US Secretary of State Colin Powell's weapons of mass destruction speech at the United Nations. Powell used Zarqawi to link Saddam Hussein's secular Ba'athist regime to the "Islamic terror network", and thus partly justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In Amman, Jordan in February 2003 practically nobody knew Zarqawi outside of Jordan - even though in 2002 he had been the target of a CIA disinformation campaign tying him to the theocratic regime in Tehran. But soon the Bush administration was to invest him with the aura of an "international man of mystery" - the world's most dangerous man after Osama bin Laden.

Soon Zarqawi started being characterized simultaneously as al-Qaeda's top operative in Iraq, and the number one promoter of civil war in that country.

Although the full weight of the Bush administration described Zarqawi as "a very senior al-Qaeda leader", strangely enough there was no meaningful Zarqawi connection whatsoever when one sifted through the terror information in the global media between September 11 and Shock and Awe in March 2003.

Senior former CIA agents say that Vice President Dick Cheney "blew up" when a report proved no links between Saddam and Zarqawi. No wonder: it was always a propaganda stunt.

The truth is more straightforward. Zarqawi had no connection either with bin Laden or with Saddam. Secular Saddam hosting an Islamic radical, of all people, at a time when the American campaign against the "axis of evil" had reached a fever-pitch is a ludicrous proposition.

In a suspect email allegedly found by the US Army in a raid of "an al-Qaeda safe house" in Baghdad in early 2004 - which immediately showed up at the website of the ultra right-wing Project For a New American Century - Zarqawi allegedly writes to bin Laden asking for his help in detonating a civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq.

The email - good timing - was found exactly at a juncture when the Bush administration could not disguise any more the lack of evidence linking Saddam and al-Qaeda. There's only one problem - or several, for that matter. Al-Qaeda was actually encouraging total cooperation among all factions of the Iraqi resistance, Sunni and Shi'ite, secular Ba'athist and Islamic. The email could not possibly have been written by a mujahideen like Zarqawi. The characteristic, elaborate Islamic phraseology was not there. No mujahideen in his right mind would complain of his imminent martyrdom, as it's implied in the text. And to top it all, for the many different strands of the resistance, Allawi's administration is just a temporary nuisance in the long road of a national liberation struggle. So the plot didn't fly, and it was scrapped after a few days.

So, first Zarqawi was used as a justification for the Iraqi war; then he became the reason for why there was no peace. Instead, what sources close to the resistance tell Asia Times Online, is that Zarqawi is a minor player: most Iraqis, Shi'ite and Sunni alike, reject his brutal methods, and even Islamic clerics who support the resistance but criticize Zarqawi's methods are routinely denounced by Zarqawi as "collaborators".

One American psy-ops operative recently leveled with the Australian newspaper The Age: "We were basically paying up to US$10,000 a time to opportunists and criminals who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq."

But not a single source, anywhere, claims to have actually seen "Zarqawi" since late 2001 in Afghanistan. Ask the Pentagon. Ask the CIA. Ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No one, on the record, is able to independently verify that "Zarqawi" actually exists. There are no photos - only that same CIA-owned black and white. The CIA doesn't even know how tall or how fat "Zarqawi" is. All the literature on "Zarqawi" since late 2001 springs from dubious "confessions" by prisoners and "statements" by all sorts of people claiming to be "Zarqawi".

Even more extraordinary is that everybody and his neighbor is after Zarqawi: the Pentagon; the CIA; the Mukhabarat-lite intelligence services of Allawi; the Mehdi Army of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr; the bombed residents of Fallujah, where he apparently is hiding; not to mention millions of Iraqis who would bless the heavens above for a shot at laying their hands on a $25 million bounty. Just like bin Laden, nobody can find Zarqawi. Why?

The truth may be that the real one-legged, squat, tattooed thug Zarqawi is dead, but a composite Zarqawi lives. He may have been created by a faction, or factions of the Iraqi resistance as a mobilizing factor, a dashing neo-Saladin rousing the masses against the infidel occupiers.

Or better yet, he may have been created by US military intelligence. This American "Zarqawi" is definitely a Hollywood improvement on the original: tall, urbane, highly articulate, and with agile legs.

Zarqawi was extremely useful to defuse attention from the Abu Ghraib scandal: the Berg video showed up at the height of Abu Ghraib. The "Zarqawi" in the video does not speak Arabic with a Jordanian accent. His legs seem pretty normal. And crucially, he wears a golden ring, which for an authentic jihadi would be the ultimate affront.

If multi-purpose "Zarqawi" did not exist, he would have to be invented. The "Zarqawi" myth straddles pre-invasion and post-invasion, so the neo-cons can use it to justify just about anything. Cheney and Rumsfeld may keep exhuming Iraq's "long established ties with al-Qaeda" and may justify the de facto occupation because "Zarqawi", "linked to al-Qaeda", is still there.

Read the entire article at Asia Times Online.


Gays Marry, Civilization Does NOT Collapse

As they like to say in Massachusetts, gay people have been marrying for two years now and the Commonwealth is still intact.

But you may argue, that has only been two years. Just you wait! Society as we know it in MA will be destroyed!

Well, in Scandinavia gay people have been getting "married" (civil unions) for over 16 years and society has not been devastated.

KCPW featured Darren Spedale on their Midday Utah show today (titled "Midday" at 9am, though???).

Spedale and William Eskridge have a book titled "Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? : What We've Learned from the Evidence" on bookshelves now.

This study of same-sex marriage distinguishes itself by avoiding molten rhetoric and grounding its analysis in empirical data from Scandinavia's 16-year history of legal registered partnerships. In clear prose that explains legal minutiae and precedents in lay-reader-friendly terms, the legal scholars apply to the domestic debate the history and statistical evidence of government-sanctioned same-sex marriage in Denmark (since 1989), Norway (since 1993) and Sweden (since 1995). They also offer stories of same-sex couples and a concise history of the movement for same-sex marriage rights internationally. The authors build a convincing case that shoots down spurious interpretations of the Scandinavian data, such as same-sex marriage destroying the institution of marriage and victimizing children. In bringing the issue home, the authors prescribe an incremental process to legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States that involves a "menu approach" where a variety of options are available, including full marriage rights for all. Though the book has its share of dry moments, its reliance on hard data makes it stand out in a crowded field.

Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States often claim that allowing gays and lesbians to marry will lead to the downfall of the institution of marriage and will harm children. Drawing from 16 years of data and experience with same-sex unions in Scandinavia, Gay Marriage: For Better or for Worse? is the first book to present empirical evidence about the results of same-sex marriage (in the form of registered partnerships) from the Nordic countries. Spedale and Eskridge demonstrate that conservative defense-of-marriage arguments that predict negative effects from gay marriage are invalid, and the Scandinavian experience suggests that the institution of marriage may indeed benefit from the enactment of gay marriage. If we look at the proof from abroad, the authors argue, we must conclude that the sanctioning of gay marriage in the United States would neither undermine marriage as an institution, nor harm the wellbeing of our nation's children.


Mormons for Gay Marriage

Not all Mormons blindly follow the bigoted dictates of their church leaders, thank goodness.

Jeffrey Nielsen, a professor at the Mormon church's Brigham Young University, has an editorial in today's Salt Lake Tribune in favor of gay marriage.

Among other things, he says:

I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral.


Truly, God would be unjust if He were the creator of a biological process that produced such uncommon, yet perfectly natural results, and then condemned the innocent person to a life of guilt, while denying him or her the ordinary privileges and fulfillment of the deep longing in all of us for family and a committed, loving relationship.

...virtuous moderation and loving kindness require us to exercise caution before making constitutionally binding discrimination against a whole class of people based only on fear and superstition. In fact, when we examine the statements opposing gay marriage, we find few reasonable arguments. It is not enough to claim that we should oppose gay marriage because historically it has never been recognized. This is the fallacy of appealing to tradition, which was also used to fight against civil rights and equal treatment of women.

Further, to say that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage and the family without giving any reasons why is the fallacy of appealing to fear. Indeed, once you get past the emotion, it is quite an unfounded claim.

How could the union of two committed and loving people negatively affect my marriage? I believe that quite the contrary is true; namely, legalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.

Ultimately, any appeal to religious authority to create law is misplaced. Our Founding Fathers were inspired by their study of history to separate constitutional authority from religious belief, recognizing as they did the potential for tyranny in unchecked religious influence.

Read the entire article.