21 November 2010

CNN: Afghan faces death penalty for converting to Christianity

For years, American forces have been putting their lives on the line, and are doing so even at this very moment . . . for this????

Afghan Christian faces trial for alleged conversion from Islam – CNN Belief Blog - CNN.com Blogs

This is madness. All I can say is I am thankful to live in a part of the world where one can practice after the manner of one's conscience freely. --SJR

08 November 2010

From the Boston Globe: Unoriginal Thoughts

This is an update to the copyright blog entry from the 7th. It begins: "A note to readers from the editor of Cooks Source: It was a dark and stormy night, four score and seven years ago . . . "

Famous last words - The Boston Globe

07 November 2010

How Not to Respond to a Copyright Claim

According to the ABA Journal [American Bar Association], "Writer Monica Gaudio protested when she saw the magazine Cooks Source had discovered her Internet article on the origins of apple pie and reprinted it without her permission, according to the Forbes blog Mixed Media and the Washington Post blog Faster Forward. Gaudio asked for an apology and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism for the purloined article, taken from a website on medieval recipes." The report goes on to say that the author received a disrespectful response, not only stating that she was not entitled to compensation because anything published on the internet is "public domain," but also stating that the author should be paying the publication itself for the edits it made.

The ABA Journal has more.
Original Blog Entry by the author
CNN also has more.

06 November 2010

Caffeine Can Be Fatal

I genuinely did not realize that it was possible to procure pure caffeine from the Internet or from other sources. Overseas, a young man passed away from caffeine toxicity following the ingestion of only 2 tsp. of caffeine powder, with an energy drink used as a chaser. The linked report states the man died shortly after ingestion. --SJR

Source: UK man dies of caffeine overdose - National caffeine | Examiner.com

14 October 2010

High Drama in the World of Social Security Disability Appeals...

...after an attorney gets into an altercation with an administrative law judge, rather literally, at the hearing office. The American Bar Association has more.

12 October 2010

Response to Human Rights Campaign

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement today through a spokesman following the delivery of a petition by the Human Rights Campaign. The video appears immediately below my remarks. The text of the statement can be found here.

Comment: It is possible to agree to disagree on matters, particularly where it relates to core values and doctrine, without compromising them or our beliefs. At the same time, I submit that all of us, as children of our Heavenly Father, have the obligation and responsibility to treat each other with, at minimum, basic respect and courtesy. Indeed, the commandments go well beyond the aformentioned minimum (i.e., love thy neighbor as thyself). So I agree with all of this. There really isn't more that I can add. --SJR

02 October 2010

Some Unexpected Name Recognition...Always a Good Thing? You Be the Judge.

Meet Mark Zuckerberg, a bankruptcy attorney from Indiana. Somehow he got confused with a fellow by the name of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Atty. Zuckerberg's office in Indianapolis now fields hundreds of calls from irate computer users seeking technical assistance the the social networking site, while others submit friend requests on his Facebook page. He has since put up his own website, iammarkzuckerberg.com, in which the attorney airs his side of the story.

Thankfully, I don't seem to share the same dilemma. Although my nickname does coincide with a horse illustrator from Connecticut. Should there be a sudden surge in demand for her artwork, my cellphone minutes might wind up getting used up in a hurry. --SJR

20 August 2010

My Take on the Mosque at/near Ground Zero Controversy

At the risk of stating the obvious, the events of 11 September 2001 has left a gaping wound in the national conscience that has never fully healed, even nearly a decade later. That there would be strong emotions are understandable--perhaps even expected--under the circumstances, especially among those who knew friends or loved ones who were in or near the towers, aboard the doomed aircraft, at the Pentagon, or were first responders at any of these locations.

But we must remember that not counting the terrorists, the people who perished that day, particularly at the WTC site, represented a number of different nationalities, backgrounds, and faiths, including, I would imagine, a number of innocent and peaceful Muslims who would have absolutely nothing to do with the Taliban or Al Quida, and who I think would be disgusted to learn that they were so associated in the course of the public debate of recent days.

Should there be diaglogue between the opposing groups in reference to the proposed center, with mutual respect as to each other's viewpoints? Absolutely. Should we oppose terrorists and terrorism? Without question. Should we care about finding a way to honor those who died? Of course. But at the end of the day, I submit to you that we dishonor those who died when we take our freedoms for granted. And I submit to you that we do precisely that when we presume that all Muslim adherents pledge their allegience to Al Queda or that all scholars of the Qu'ran would call for shedding innocent blood after the manner of 9/11. I'm reminded of the fact that in an earlier generation, it was followers of another faith who was on the receiving end of some fairly horrid accusations. Except these were followers of the Old Testament, or more accurately, the Torah. In still another period, followers of the Book of Mormon were literally driven from place to place, even under this very flag.

The bottom line is that we must not let our anger blind us to the point where we destroy, or seek to destroy, all that is sacred and important. And that includes the Constitution of the United States, up to and including the First Amendment, which, as an attorney, I have taken an oath to uphold and protect. --SJR

13 August 2010

Facebook as a Law Enforcement Tool

From a CNET report: "Evesham Township, N.J., recently started adding photos of people arrested for drunk driving to its Facebook page as a crime deterrent. Good or bad idea? Read this blog post by Caroline McCarthy on The Social."

The Facebook page itself is here. --SJR

07 August 2010

Civil Procedure: Federal Rule 11 in Action

What happens when counsel representing someone in Federal litigation fails to refrain from filing frivolous actions or motions?

In the case of one attorney, the result was a $20,000 fine: (ABA Journal)

Here's the order itself--
(PDF file)

The ABA Journal had more recently reported that the attorney lost the appeal and was now making multiple attempts at having the matter heard at the Supreme Court. --SJR

16 May 2010

Sunday Memorandum in re.: The Diversity of Faiths

This message was originally published on 4 April 2007, on another blog that I am about to remove.

* * *

Recently it has come to my attention that a purportedly Christian organization released a video seeking to discredit Latter-day Saints. Nothing new about that: It's happened before, and undoubtedly it will happen again.

I need not give the effort more prominence than necessary. I will say one thing, and one thing only, as a general proposition: If we change our religious affiliation or our personal beliefs solely on the basis of what someone states or claims, or solely because of logic or persuasion, we cannot be assured of reaching the truth, because many if not most faiths, denominations, and sects generally claim theirs to be correct, and all others in error. It is, quite frankly, impossible to be correct in the eyes of everyone. Not counting Latter-day Saints, some Christians will even accuse other Christians of error.

The critical point is this: God is able to speak for Himself, He is able to do so directly to us, and blessed be those who are able to follow His promptings, whether through scripture, personal revelation, or both. --SJR

10 May 2010

Raw Video (Court Hearing: Exoneration)

From ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland comes this hearing of a man, Raymond Towler, who was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1981.  He was cleared of all charges as a result of DNA testing which showed that he did not commit the crime. The date of the hearing was 5 May 2010.

09 May 2010

Sunday Memorandum in re.: Eternity

Preface: This was originally published on 13 June 2006 on an unused blog that I'm about to remove.  I felt it was worth saving.  

* * * 

The following scriptures came to my mind today, while discussing eternal life and related matters over email--
The original question that was put forth during the discussion was whether we could handle the blessings and responsibilities associated with the eternal worlds to come. Here are the conclusions I draw from the above scriptures and from others that I can't cite at the moment:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. --Isa. 55:8-9 [OT]

For now we see through a glass darkly...now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. --1 Cor. 13:12

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. --1 Cor. 13:11

1. The way we view Heaven and Eternity is unavoidably and severely distorted. Few of us have a terribly accurate view...even living prophets are only able to see a small portion of what God is able to see.

2. There are two ways to look at the phrase "...we are children of our Heavenly Father." The first is the one people usually think of, that is, we're literally His offspring. But we are also children in the sense that we are spiritually immature. We were less mature in the pre-existance than we are now...we hope in the post-mortal world we will be more mature. This is but one way that our view of Eternity is distorted.

3. Our perceptions are distorted in at least two other, critical ways. a) We live upon a fallen earth--one that has not yet been taken to a higher sphere. Likewise our own bodies, though in God's image, isn't in a higher sphere yet, either. b) Our own experiences will also to some extent shape our perceptions.

4. It follows that we cannot base our attitudes or decisions about Eternity based on what we perceive is going to happen. I sometimes hear protestants refer to the eternal world as a place where we sit around and play harps all day...a type of celesial waiting room where seemingly not a great deal happens, except we provide the music-on-hold for the rest of the Universe. That thought doesn't seem very palatable. But that's precisely what the adversary wants us to think.

5. For Satan uses the separation we have from God--which separation we know is for testing purposes and for our progression--to try to tell us either-- a) That Eternity after the highest manner is simply a load of nonsense (to put it mildly); b) Eternity is just like our present life's experiences, multiplied by the number of digits in Pi; c) We cannot handle the blessings or responsibilities of Eternity--not in this life, nor after the Resurrection, nor EVER; or d) We are not worthy to progress to such a level. At that point, we may think less about the Temple or about eternal families. Then we don't repent as we should, and so on.

6. Do I have a clue as to everything that will happen after this life ends? Not really, apart from what I know from the scriptures, and apart from reassurances I receive through the Spirit. In this, I am not alone...in fact, I am certain I share this lot with the bulk of the human race. But this much I can say. At the very least, I will know more about the transactions of this Earth than I do now. I will probably learn about all of the good and all of the evil that has ever happened at any point in history (without somehow becoming corrupted in spirit by the latter). I will learn that my thoughts on earth--including the ones I have this instant--were but those of a child in a very real and profound way. And most fundamentally, provided I remain true to the covenants I have made, I will be given tools there that I don't have now, and once I have those tools, a lot of the things that I don't understand now will make sense. And perhaps the most important of these tools would be a direct and unobstructed access to the Godhead, along with a corresponding transformation of our bodies.

Somehow, in that day, I am satisfied that we will know how to experience the blessings and responsibilities that we will encounter, even if it doesn't happen in an instant. We will be able to receive all of it as soon as we are able. The Lord will not bring his children to the threshold of Eternity, and bid us to drink of the fountain of everlasting waters, only to take aim at us with a fire hose. --SJR

06 May 2010

All Right, Let's Try This Again...

The question is:  How often will I be blogging here going forward?  Hopefully, the answer will be: More than 2-3 times every five years. 

The fact is, however, things had been rather busy.  First, there was the matter of finishing up law school.  (Check.)  Then there was passing the bar exam.  (Check.)  Meanwhile, it became necessary for me to end my original career somewhat earlier than I would have liked, an event that wasn't helped by the demise of the former Saturn division of General Motors.  (Check.)  Then I had my own practice for a time, and I can state from experience that working for yourself can be far more hectic than working for a third party.  (Check. Check.)  But presently, I have settled into the world of Social Security Disability law, in service to the American people.  I say that rather literally, because this link reflects where I now work. 

Still there are times when I want to speak out, especially on matters having a legal or political frame of reference.  That's where this blog comes in.  Of course, in the world of public discourse, there are several well known dangers of doing this, especially in an electronic forum.  First, it must be assumed, as a general rule, that what I say here will be archived forever somewhere.  As proof of that, I recently came across some postings I had done with a Usenet newsgroup dating clear back to 1991 as a result of a Google search.  As further proof, there's always the "Wayback Machine" feature of archive.org.  Second, there has to be a very solid distinction between one's work life and one's personal life.  That there's some overlap between the two is unavoidable, but for instance, there must never even be the perception that I make known my views "on company time."  Nor can there be the perception that I am any way speaking in any sort of official capacity, whether I fully agree with a policy or otherwise.  Third, and most fundamentally, I expect some of my opinions to evolve or even change over time.  This is not to say that I intend to compromise on anything that touches upon my core values, such as those relating to my beliefs regarding family, Deity, the purpose of life, or any similar or related subject.  Stated differently, there are absolutes and I shall adhere to them.  What I am saying, however, is that events happen, or as new information becomes available, I will want to "revise and extend my remarks."

Therefore, several overriding principles are in order that I think will be applicable to every posting in this forum. 

First.  Am I going to wave the American flag here?  You bet I am, and I was doing that long before I even started law school.  One of my absolutes, or rather, one my my core values, is in holding that the Founding Fathers were inspired by Providence to put into place the type of government that we now have, with the preservation of freedoms that have resulted from that, both here and elsewhere in the world. 

Second.  Do I speak for the government, at any level, in any official capacity?  Absolutely not.  As with any administration--indeed just like any citizen--I will agree with some policies but not with others.  Or I may mostly agree with a policy, but question a particular element of it.  If I do that, I speak for myself or for my family, as a private citizen, and for no one else, unless I expressly say otherwise (and I certainly don't expect I will be doing that as a matter of routine). 

Third.  It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but in the interest of ethics, if not common sense, it should be made plain that I shall make no statements, whether favorable or otherwise, on "company time," or, "on the taxpayer's dime."  Unless expressly stated otherwise, it is to be understood that everything on this blog is being composed on my own equipment, using communication services I personally pay for, on my own time, when I am not on official duty.

Fourth.  While I will operate under certain absolutes, it is possible for an opinion on a particular subject to be modified or changed as additional information becomes available.  There's a difference, you know, between changing one's views solely in the interest of political expediency, and doing so because you know it is right or to correct a misunderstanding or mistake.  The intent is to be guided by the latter principle. 

Fifth.  The overriding objective is responsible, polite, and civil discourse.  I may disagree on a subject.  I may do so strongly and vehimently.  I may even use some pretty awful words, like "condemn," "irresponsible," "miscreant," and et cetera.  But I want what I say to be readable within a broad, general audience.  A hypothetical eight-year old with the vocabulary of a lawyer ought to be able to read these remarks and not feel the need to blush. 

Sixth.  The other overriding objective is to sustain and uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.  The general principle is that if the viewpoint calls for terrorism, violence, anarchy, or the like, regardless of the underlying subject, I seek to condemn it.  To the greatest extent possible, and to stress an earlier point, there must be civil discourse, and where necessary, peaceful protest, in order to address the issues and concerns of our day.

And finally:  Will things be this verbose going forward?  Time will tell.  I think the general advice with blogs is to be "short and sweet."  That may be an ideal, but it is not an absolute.  Where I can be concise, I will do so, but I will write no less than what I think is absolutely necessary to get the point across.

And with that, let the dialogue begin.  We'll start the expected frequency for blog entries at once weekly, and then see where we go from there.