Recent Posts

Fallacies of the free market

Recently I read a piece by Newt Gingrich about letting the market solve the healthcare problem. He said, “We must offer a positive alternative where healthcare becomes more accessible and of higher quality at lower cost. That is what normal markets produce. Think computers and cellphones, where government bureaucrats have zero involvement in design and pricing.” I’m no economist, but evidently I understand economics better than Newt and a lot of free-market advocates. (more…)

Watch your tongue

As any English-speaker who has learned a Romance language knows, there are a lot of cognates, both true and false, between English and Romance languages. A cognate is a word that resembles its counterpart in another language. For example, even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can probably guess the meaning of the following words: dormitorio, liberador, laboratorio, general, and central. These are cognates. False cognates are words that seem to correlate, but don’t; for example dirección means address, and embarasada means pregnant, a false cognate that can lead to situations that are, well, embarrassing.

Why does English have so many cognates with Romance languages if it’s supposed to be Germanic? One of my linguistics professors told our class that 80% of the words we use everyday are Germanic, but 75% of the words in the English dictionary are of French origin, adopted into the language during the centuries-long reign of the French in Britain after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. French became, well, the lingua franca, literally translated as “French language,” but meaning the language generally spoken or the universal language. English is the modern lingua franca, follow closely by Mandarin.

So are we more Germanic or more Romantic because of our language uses? Does language affect society? Yes, but not linguistically, instead semantically. And those who have begun to change American English are not conquerors in the traditional sense, but they are leaving their imprint on the language—and on society. There is a list of words I hate to hear, and I want to change their usage. (more…)

A time for smaller government?

Small government advocates are a little too happy at the belt-tightening going on (at state and local levels, anyway) to deal with the effects of the recession. Utah’s legislature is overshooting estimates in its zeal to make government smaller. Is smaller government desirable? Sure!

However, in order for conservatives to prove, in the famous words of Saint Ronald that, “Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem,” small-government types need to unplug the mouths and plug in the helping hands. (more…)

“Resurrection” by Leo Tolstoy – Book Review

Tolstoy’s very readable tale of Prince Dmitry Ivanich Nekhlyudov, a man humbled by the results of his past sins and attempting to right wrongs and redeem himself, is a timeless criticism of human attempts at civilization and self-rule. In the process of the story, Tolstoy skewers high society, the church, the government, the military, the courts, lawyers, land-owners, revolutionaries, the prison system, and anything else he passes on the way. But he also reveals his life-view of Christian anarchy, the idea that man should follow the teaching of Christ despite any contravening man-made institutions, forms, and influences. (more…)

The President and the Constitution

Tomorrow we’ll witness a miracle. It happens every four or eight years in the U.S. It’s a peaceful (acquiescent if not voluntary) passing of authority from the most powerful person in the world to another person, often of an opposing worldview. It truly is a miracle. (more…)

Things you don’t talk about in polite company

In Santa Clara, California on May Day, 2002, George W. Bush said, “The public education system . . . is where children from all over America learn to be responsible citizens, and learn to have the skills necessary to take advantage of our fantastic opportunistic society.” At first blush this is just a gaffe, Freudian in my opinion. But there is much that is more concerning in this statement than a private-school boy not knowing the usage of the word “opportunistic.” (more…)

The Doctor Himself is Sick

Last night I was listening to a commentary by Daniel Schorr, an OLD hand in Washington journalism, and an unabashed liberal. I really enjoy Mr. Schorr’s commentaries, because they usually tell truth to power, hold people’s feet to the fire, and he does it so well. Last night citing the Blagojavich and Madoff scandals and recent news of corruption in the allocation of funds for Iraqi reconstruction, Schorr had them on the ropes, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the knock-out punch. He set them up with a jab, “I am unhappily reminded of my time in the Soviet Union, where bribery and other corruption were so commonplace as to be accepted as a dismal fact of life. Health care was nominally free, but it took a bribe to see a doctor. America isn’t there yet, but it badly needs. . . .”

Needs what, Dan? A good swift kick in the pants? A return to morality and honesty? Fire from heaven? What? (more…)

This Land is Whose Land?

How many times have we read Christ’s parable of the vineyard and assumed its application is long in the past? It’s easy to interpret as the history of the Jews, who were given the Abrahamic Covenant but then failed in their stewardship by rejecting the prophets and ultimately killing the Master’s Son.

But recently, reading Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy, I saw the parable in a whole new light. Tolstoy says: (more…)