It’s hot

June 29, 2009

Even by Texas in June standards. We’ve passed 100° F every day for over a week. Some rain would be really nice right now.

Sam got home from High Adventure on Saturday, which was also his birthday. We just gave him his presents and had cake and ice cream tonight. From what he says, the High Adventure was about learning what it was like to be a cavalry soldier in the 1800’s—they built fences and dug ditches and toured Fort Davis.

Feel-good politics

June 27, 2009

I just finished another good book: The Vision of the Anointed; Self-congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell. He argues that the true motivation for “progressive” politics is for its proponents to build a self image as smart, compassionate, worthwhile people. It doesn’t matter that their schemes never work, as long as they can view themselves as superior to the people who disagree with them. I highly recommend it.

Change in the air

June 26, 2009

Remember my comment about a meeting at work I wanted to miss on Tuesday? The people responsible for it—the two top layers of ITS management at the University—were all removed from their positions yesterday.

I wonder how this will all play out.

Several years ago I was watching one of the “debates” they held during the Presidential primaries, and one of the questions was “who is your favorite political philosopher?” Most of the candidates (this was a Republican “debate”) said “Jesus Christ,” but I don’t really think that works. When I read Christ’s teachings in the New Testament, I see a teacher totally focused on how we should act as individuals, and not on our collective behavior. “My kingdom is not of this world,” he said, and when questions with political implications arose—the tribute money, or the woman taken in adultery—he changed the subject or evaded the question. (Note that this argument also applies to politicians on the other side of the aisle who try to claim Jesus as some kind of radical reformer or “community organizer.”)

So who would I pick? I think I’m going to go with Lao Tzu, even if my copy of Tao Teh Ching (translated by John C. H. Wu, Shambhala, 2003) says in the forward, “Though Taoism by its nature is not a philosophy that could well be carried out in government, …”

Here are some examples:

The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

When you are lacking in faith,
Others will be unfaithful to you.

The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words.
When his task is accomplished and things have been completed,
All the people say, ”We ourselves have achieved it!”

(That’s chapter 17.)

Bend and you will be whole.
Curl and you will be straight.
Keep empty and you will be filled.
Grow old and you will be renewed.

(From chapter 22. Now I’ll jump to chapter 75.)

Why are the people starving?
Because those above them are taxing them too heavily.
That is why they are starving.

Overall, I’d summarize as “Don’t trust in your own cleverness. Don’t try to force things to happen. Don’t meddle; let people choose their own way.”

A noisy evening

June 23, 2009

Amanda’s having a “Twilight” party with a bunch of her friends, so we’re all hiding upstairs. I just read “The Elephant’s Child” to the boys—I never get tired of that story. Then I read “The Beginning of the Armadillos”. (If you’ve never read Just So Stories to your kids, why not?)

Yesterday was a long day. Sam was supposed to go on High Adventure on Saturday, but he wasn’t feeling well. His leader said if he was feeling better he could come by himself later, so yesterday I took the day off work and drove out to the Scout Camp (Buffalo Trails Scout Camp) which is in West Texas—a six and a half hour drive each way.

I wish the meeting we had today at work had been yesterday, so I would have had an excuse to miss it.

Well, I guess I won’t wait for Julia to get an account; I’ll go ahead and post the pictures myself.

Jonathan holding his birthday presents

Jonathan holding his birthday presents

Jonathan with Sam before his baptism

Jonathan with Sam before his baptism

The kids at home after the baptism

The kids at home after the baptism

Jonathan with his parents after the baptism

Jonathan with his parents after the baptism

Names part 4

June 18, 2009

I suppose I should finish this off. As you might guess, after three boys and only two girls, we were having trouble coming up with new boy names, but we weren’t done with that yet.

About this time Chris and Daniel had two friends, brothers, named David and Jonathan. Their mother said that David and Jonathan in the Bible were best friends, and she wanted her sons to be best friends too. Julia liked that idea, so our next two boys were named David and Jonathan.

When were picking out a middle name for David, I suggested Moroni again, but Julia still wouldn’t go along, so I said, “What about Ammon, then?” and she decided she could go along with that. So David Ammon gets his name from two righteous and valiant men from the scriptures, and I hope he will be brave in standing up for what’s right.

We had a harder time coming up with a middle name for Jonathan. I don’t remember what made me think of it, but at some point I came up with Granger, my grandfather’s middle name. (Frederick Granger Johnson was named for his grandfather Frederick Granger Williams who was named for his grandfather also Frederick Granger Williams who was Joseph Smith’s second counselor in the First Presidency.) Jonathan Granger sounded good, so that’s his name.

I hope Andrew won’t be too disillusioned when he gets older and reads this, but by the time we knew he was coming we were really having trouble coming up with boys’ names. One of the kids pointed out that we had two “C” names (Curtis and Christopher), two “J” names (Julia and Jonathan), two “S” names (Sarah and Samuel), and two “D” names (Daniel and David), but only one “A” name (Amanda), so the next baby should have a name that starts with “A”. That would have worked out great if he’d been a girl, since I’d already picked Abigail (my great-grandmother’s name) for the next girl, but what about a boy? Someone suggested Andrew, and since Julia has a great great grandfather named Andrew Jackson Nixon and we couldn’t think of anything else we decided to go with it when he turned out to be a boy. We didn’t actually settle on a middle name until a week or two after he was born, but we finally picked Isaac after my great great great grandfather Isaac Russell.

So that’s where all my children’s names come from. I’m still a little disappointed that we never got an Abigail, but you can’t have everything.