Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sermonette: Individual actions and Social Consequences

James E. Faust
Adults need to understand, and our children should be taught, that private choices are not private; they all have public consequences.
There is a popular notion that doing our own thing or doing what feels good is our own business and affects no one but us. The deadly scourges that are epidemic all over the world have flourished in the context of this popular notion. But this is simply not true.
All immoral behavior directly impacts society. Even innocent people are affected. Drug and alcohol abuse have public consequences, as do illegitimacy, pornography, and obscenity. The public cost in human life and tax dollars for these so-called private choices is enormous: poverty, crime, a less-educated work force, and mounting demands for government spending to fix problems that cannot be fixed by money. It simply is not true that our private conduct is our own business. Our society is the sum total of what millions of individuals do in their private lives. That sum total of private behavior has worldwide public consequences of enormous magnitude. There are no completely private choices.
-"Will I Be Happy?", Ensign, May 1987, p. 80

Friday, May 29, 2009

The United States of Fairtale Land... and the country that did not live "happily ever after"

Five missle test later and I think we can safely surmise that North Korea could care less about the concerns of the "international community". Is now a good time to sit down in face-to-face negotiations since the only conclusion the "emergency" session of the United Nation's Security Council could come up with is to actually enforce sanctions that had been adopted several years ago! Is it time, Mr. Obama, to work your rhetorical magic that appears to have your own country spellbound and ready to capitulate all their autonomy in the name of some long over due "change". Prepare your arsenal of stern orations because surely we are not going to do anything that would make us appear to be the global policeman even if, in the very act, we are securing peace and stability for the rest of the freedom loving nations on planet Earth. No, we wouldn't want to harm our international standing. Meanwhile dictators and nefarious powers are laughing at our naivete and making plans for their own pernicious promulgations. Iran has just been given the green light to fire up their nuclear enrichment efforts.

Are you kidding me? I feel like I live in the land of make believe... a land of imagination where the most sophisticated concept we can wrap our minds around is some ephemeral notion of "change". Meanwhile, back in the real world, a rogue nation with a dictator (dare we describe such a country and a man as "evil") who has proven that he values the lives of his own citizens as much as a cockroach is moving full speed ahead toward the development of intercontinental missles and nuclear armarment and we react as if we are playing a game of Risk. Hell, Mrs. Wicke beats me at Risk every time, she is more serious about the proposition of global domnation than the UN (which is not surprising) or the US executive (which, unfortunately, is surprising considering we've brought the world back from the brink of totalitarian threats twice in the last century.... you would think we would have learned our lesson by now). When will we get serious? There is an answer to this question but it is almost unthinkable... we will get serious on the day after Iran or North Korea fires a nuclear warhead on America, Isreal or South Korea. Our sobriety and clarity on that day of infamy will be two days too late.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Price of Our Freedoms

I promised to discuss the price for which our freedoms have come to us (since I previously established that freedom is not free). In our freemarket economy and materialist culture we like to talk about how much something costs. There are few things that, with enough money "on the table", cannot be bought. This is not to say that many of these things should be bought or sold but unfortunately the reality of this world is that nearly everything can be purchased.

Others have engaged in this exercise, but to really give us a sense of what your personal freedom costs, lets begin smaller and more personal... What would you pay for your eyes if you did not have them? What is a sound mind worth? What about the use of two good legs? How much would you pay for a healthy heart if yours was failing? Let's take it up a notch: what would you pay for a healthy set of lungs for your child if theirs was dysfunctional and every gasp of air was a struggle?

Now, what about your freedoms? What is it worth to live without fear of a police state breaking into your home and tearing you from your children and spouse simply because you verbalized an opinion contrary to those wielding political power? What would you pay to live in a land with seemingly endless freedoms (to worship, to assemble, to choose a profession, to write, speak and think as you wish, to travel, to wear clothes of your choice, to sing, to gain an education, to live where you desire, etc., etc., etc.)? What would you pay? The truth is, the cost has been very high. The cost of your -speaking personally, not just lumping you together with millions of others we collectively call Americans- freedoms has been the lives of thousands of men and women who you will never know. In lives given (not to mention the many more whose lives were forever marred by injuries and mental distress), here is the price paid so that you and I might, today, be free:
Revolutionary War: 25,000 Americans
Civil War: 625,000 Americans
World War I: 116,516 Americans
World War II: 405,399 Americans
Korean War: 36,516 Americans
Vietnam War: 58,209 Americans
Golf War I: 299 Americans
Iraq/Afghanistan: 4,977+ Americans
(these are just some of the major and recognized conflicts, Americans have given their lives in defense of US freedom as well as freedom to others around the world in many smaller conflicts and circumstances. Some of these, like President Lincoln, himself are not numbered although their sacrifices are no less deserving to be counted in the price paid for the freedoms you and I enjoy).

These are fathers, brothers, aunts, cousins, and someone's children whose lives were prematurely traded for something they would never fully realize but which they valued more than life itself: a future and a country where a person (you and I) would enjoy the exercise of freedoms.

What have we done with this great gift? Please tell me that I am not alone in recognizing that whenever we speak of freedom or allude to our rights of __________ (whatever, you fill in the blank) that we must also give equal weight to the discussion of our responsibilities. At least let us realize the great cost that has been paid for the quality of life we now enjoy. And let us be very careful that we do not trade those freedoms for the lesser counterfiets of comfort, prosperity, entitlement or even a malignant and eroneous sense of enforced equality.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Freedom is not Free, a (day after) Memorial Day imperative

The Great German poet, Goethe, who also lived through a crisis of freedom, said to his generation: "What you have inherited from your fathers, earn over again for yourselves or it will not be yours." We inherited freedom. We seem unaware that freedom has to be remade and re-earned in each generation of man.
-Adlai Stevenson, (Politics and Morality, 7 Feb. 1959)
Dr. Terry Paulson expressed the same theme in these words, “Freedom isn't a birthright of America or any democracy; it must be earned and re-earned in every age. Now is our time to earn it again.”

Reminding the Japanese of this truth, Douglas MacArthur spoke these words on the first anniversary of the Japanese constitution (1948), “No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” Similar words have been spoken by many others including Thomas Paine, John F. Kennedy and even Barak Obama (I’ve got to give credit where credit is due). All these declarations from the list of “Who’s Who of Great Men” naturally beg a question by a man of lesser repute (me): What have I (you) done to merit the bequeathal and continuation of this sacred freedom?

I ask this question which is as stinging to me as to probably any member of the contemporary “rights-centric” generations… I ask this question specifically on the day following Memorial Day in my vain effort to extend the meaning of this holy-day (funny how we have change the meaning and spelling of that word to holiday) beyond its natural 24 hour bounds.
There are a few unchanged, inexorable principles that have existed since the founding of this republic until our current day; there are some constants that persist through the administration of liberals and conservatives; there are some truths that apply to colonial America, to industrialized America and that stretch into the unknown, unlabeled future America… This may be the most important such principle: freedom is not free, it often demands the lives, freely given, of one generation so that the next may continue to enjoy the priceless fruits of a free life. If we have come to expect freedom, we must also come to expect that there will be those who despise it. To naively hope that we can retain freedom without militant defense of that cherished state is to fail to understand one of the primary axioms of freedom. Freedom never came to any man without a fight. It will not be long enjoyed by the apathetic and morally confused who esteem all cultures, governments and powers to be somehow equal. Freedom is better than despotism, authoritarianism and tyranny. The people of Cuba, Iran and North Korea are not free because the systems and agents of those governments do not value freedom. These and other such countries are not equal –not even close- to the greatness of the United States of America. Irregardless of how some politicians pander to them, how some actors romanticize them and how some professors defend them, they are an oppositional force to freedom until they grant the full measure of personal liberty to their citizens and extend to their neighboring countries the same privilege of autonomy and un impeded exercise of government.
More on this topic of freedom on Thursday… Let me preface the coming discussion with this rhetorical question: At what price has freedom been granted to me (not to “me” as an anonymous member of a nation of several millions of citizens, but to “me” individually and personally)?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sermonette: What Honor Means

"I have been asked what I mean by word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls—walls of stone ever so high, ever so think, reaching ever so far into the ground—there is a possibility that in some way or another I may be able to escape, but stand me on that floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I’d die first!"

-Karl G. Maeser

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Human Ingenuity

Humans can do some pretty idiotic things. Of all the species on the earth, we are the most cruel and ruthless since we, alone, have moral and self-reflective abilities. But we also perambulate on the other end of the specturm as well: humans can rise to accomplish amazing things and can demonstrate godly compassion. We must be familiar with the legacy of both. History is full of both occassions and unless we become familiar with our past we are bound to repeat those things which define our more ignoble nature.

This video is, at the least, an interesting history lesson. Much more than this, however, it is a tribute to the American virtue of ingenuity, hard work and PRIVATE (not government owned -i.e. the Obama directorship of General Motors) industry. Enjoy.

Did you notice:
1. the rugged nature of the Model T? So much for needing Hummers
2. that Mr. Ford paid higher than normal wages to his employees? So much for the need of a union.
3. that the Ford product grew during an economically difficult era? I doubt consumers were given a "stimulus check" to help them afford the vehicle and "jump start" the economy.
4. how much the globe warmed in the decade after the mass introduction of the gas powered combustion engine automobile? Oh... what... "catastrophic man made global warming" is the latest version of the emporer's new clothes. Silly me, trifling with actual facts and rational though. Disagree with me? Engage is some of your own first hand research instead of relying on convenient propoganda films. Here is a good place to start. (more on this later, sorry for the tangent).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Understanding the Life and Loves of a 7 Year Old

The greatest empirical adventure I have been on is parenting. I know that my journey has, relatively speaking, just begun. In some ways I dread the coming teenage years when it becomes common place for a great chasm to come between parent and child. A lack of mutual understanding becomes the modal condition. And while that may be the case, even (perhaps especially) for a student of human behavior, I am very pleased at the simplicity of the task currently. When it comes to my seven year old daughter, Logan, I realized tonight that there is one very easy way to understand what she is thinking, what it is that is most important to her -at this moment at least. Perhaps things will not change so drastically in the next ten years and perhaps I will remember this little rule of thumb:

To understand your children, simply pay special attention to the objects that adorn their room. At about 10:30 PM I walked in to check to make sure she was tucked in and settled for the night when it became very clear what is important in my little girl’s life. Here is the picture:

Academic Medal
Earlier today Mrs. Wicke and I attended Logan’s First Grade awards assembly where she received a gold medal in recognition of her academic accomplishments. We are very lucky to have a girl who is 1) smart, 2) enjoys school and 3) values learning. She spoke of her medal and the assembly for several days preceding and tonight she sleeps with the token of her accomplishment right next to her side. School and learning are a big deal to Logan. I can understand her actions, goals and motivations better by and as represented in her prized medallion.

iPod Shuffel
It was a big day today! Besides her academic medal, Logan and Mrs. Wicke went to Wal-Mart to make her first big purchase. For the past year Logan has been diligently saving her allowance and other earned money (tooth fairy, birthday cash, etc.) with one object in mind: an iPod Shuffel. I have no idea what planted this object in her but she has been focused and disciplined at achieving this goal. My heart warmed a few degrees as I saw it sitting well within reach and safely packed away in her clear plastic container for the night. Yes, it is only a material object, but to her it represents hard work, saving and sacrifice. Even more, I understand that my little girl values these qualities as well as the joy that music brings to her life. This is the first big purchase of her life.

Build-a-Bear Bunny (Lollie)
I am so happy to see that my little girl is still a little girl at heart. I will be very sad when the day comes that she does not snuggle up to a stuffed animal at bed time. There is something about a stuffed animal that speaks to the innocence of a child. I’m glad to see that she still has the tender heart of a little girl especially in this jaded world where adult matters too quickly encroach on our children. I can understand where my little girl is, emotionally, developmentally, mentally but the nearness of her beloved Lollie.

Junie B. Jones Book
Thanks to Mrs. Wicke, Logan is well on her way to discovering the magical world of the written word. She is never very far from a book and is often pressing her mother to purchase a new book for her (her own money has been tied up in the pursuit of the recently acquired iPod wouldn’t you know). Sure money is often tight, I’m glad that Mrs. Wicke capitulates. While it may not be appropriate to judge a book by its cover, a book is certainly a valid way to judge a person’s interests. I’ve learned to take special care to notice the content of the books my children read. National Geographic books about dinosaurs and the big cats of Africa are great as are the various adventures of Junie B. Jones or Nancy Drew. I will start to worry if I find other, less than ennobling books or magazines creep onto her bedside desk.

You see, it is not too difficult to understand a child with a little attention to the details. The most important things to them are never that far away.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 14 Dr. Suess and Nationalized Healthcare

Dr. Suess was always adept at illustrating where the real world met the wacky world. Here is one such example (see below). If for no other reason I reject the idea and reality of expanding governmental powers because of one word: beaurocracy! I cannot believe we are even considering government-run health care (oh, they will cloak it under some other term in an effort to hide what it really is). If Dr. Suess does not provide a sufficiently compelling argument against it, I challenge you to take my test: visit your local post office or Dept. of Motor Vehicles office and see how long it takes you to get service for a simple postal or vehicle registration matter. Now consider an equally efficient government program where complicated matters of health, unknown physiological conditions, multiple specialists, and urgent emergency responses are the norm. My postal carrier mis-delivers at least one letter every month... consider if this error was a misprescribed drug or proceedure. What remedy did you have available the last time a government department screwed up? When was the last time you were able to reach your local post office on the phone? Wake up America or are we as senseless as the populace of Hawtch-Hawtch!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sermonette: Strength through (because of) Adversity

"Elder Heber C. Kimball, an early Apostle, provides an impressive illustration. He returned from a mission to England in 1838 to find that half of the members in Kirtland, Ohio, had left the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith and several key leaders were imprisoned for five months. Five of the Apostles and two of the Three Witnesses had apostatized. Thousands of the Saints in Missouri were being mobbed and driven from their torched homes. Entering this bleak situation, Elder Kimball wrote: 'I can truly say that I have never seen the Church in a better state since I have been a member of it. What there (is) left, (they) are firm and steadfast, full of love and good words . . . (and) have lost all (that they have) and are now ready to go (out to) preach the Gospel to a dying world'".

-quoted from The Life of Heber C. Kimball

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Character Counts, Vol. I

Another voice for personal development and pursuit of social values is Michael Jospehson, founder of The Josephson Institute for Ethics and the Character Counts program. He produces short vignettes on a variety of topics regarding character development, personal improvement and social responsibility. These 1.5 minute thoughts are a good way to start your day and I will be including them frequently in this Saturday Enlightenment post.

View Full Clip

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 13

In this time of economic uncertainty you can be quite certain that these are a few jobs you DO NOT want:

arm pit inspector
(a specialized division within TSA)

Elephant Urologist Assistant

patrol near the public outhouse

Monday, May 11, 2009

What difference can I make? Part II Refresher

Just a quick restatement of the first principle: Not all causes are created equal. Another way of saying this is “don’t spend your life trying to take a hill that, while it may be important, is not essential. To state a rapidly aging maxim: Good is the enemy of great. Distraction has always been a strategy for evil forces to pursue their objectives… get good people focused on some side issue and the fight over the vital issues is much more easily won. So what are the most vital issues? That is for you to determine.
For kicks let me share a bit of my logic toward just such an evaluation: our current economic situation is certainly dire and portends some serious repercussions in the not too distant future (within the next 20 years). Nations and societies have fallen because of their financial folly HOWEVER, the history of mankind is riddled with successive waves of now defunct currency. Denarius, escudo, dong, sucre and other forms of ancient and more modern money have become no more valuable than the paper or ore from which they are minted. If our arrogance blinds us to the possibility that the US dollar (and the system it represents) is above such a destiny, we are mistaken. Financial systems rise and fall. While truly tragic and catastrophic to its citizens at the moment of collapse, the very transitory nature of money disqualifies it from being the most important issue or concern. A society’s values and moral superstructure, however, are much more essential. The democratic ideals and civil foundations of ancient Greece still have profound value in contemporary US society even though many financial mediums have come and gone in this same time frame. Values and morals (both individual and communal) therefore are much more important causes to be engaged in than concerns with economic conditions (although the two certainly have a symbiotic relationship and are mutually influential).

Sorry, this summary refresher was supposed to give way to Part III. I promise to get to that quickly. Here is a little teaser: I call it the Southwest Airlines Analogy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sermonette: The Power of Mothers

In honor of Mother's Day and the two women who fulfill the role of mothers in my life (my own mom pictured here with her children and the mother of my children), I share an appropriately themed quote:

"To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding-up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman's strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. She has been placed here to help to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home—which is society's basic and most noble institution. Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife."
-Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, 11/78

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Global Warming Primer

If there is any current topic upon which we need enlightenment it is the issue of global warming. I have my own strong feelings but this entry is not an attempt to sway you but to peak your interest enough that you begin a sober quest for information and rational thought. Here are two videos essentially presenting the case from different perspectives (one "pro" and one that challenges the "pro" view -I am not presenting a "con" view because I think the challenge is sufficient to discredit the global warming fanatics and should cause you to go out and find the compelling arguments on the other side).

Enlightenment, not fear and fanaticism!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 12

To all my faithful blog visitors, thank you! You guys are the best! Enjoy this Wacky Wednesday feature:

Report: 70 Percent Of All Praise Sarcastic

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

News you might not otherwise hear: Devastating Amazon Floods

As if you might not already surmise: I am disgusted with the media, especially the US media. The latest swine flu saturation is a great example. Nothing of so little importance has been covered so extensively while a real disaster is unfolding... and most American's have no idea. Perhaps a little perspective is in order (reference to my blog from yesterday).

Amazon floods leave 186K homeless, death toll 19
(obviously I realize that this story is also a product of the media, so read it even with a skeptics eye; nevertheless, the comparison between two US swine flu deaths and 19 dead/186,000 homeless should be enough to shock us back to reality)

Here are some of the major parts of the report:
SAO PAULO – Floods and mudslides from months of heavy rains in northern Brazil have driven more than 186,000 from their homes, killed at least 19 people and cut off shipments from a huge Amazon iron mine, officials said Tuesday.
At least seven states, most in the Amazon region, have been affected by the rains, which have battered the region for several months, regional civil defense departments said. Worst-hit is the state of Maranhao along the Atlantic coast and south of the mouth of the Amazon River.
Maranhao civil defense official Abner Ferreira said six major highways have been swamped, cutting off thousands of people and leaving lines of stranded cargo trucks.
The rains also prompted the temporary closure of a railway that takes iron ore from the sprawling Carajas mine in the neighboring jungle state of Para, according to a statement from miner Companhia Vale do Rio Doce SA.
Iron ore, the main ingredient in steel, is shipped overseas from Sao Luis, the state capital of Maranhao. The railway also transports 1,300 people per day, and G1 reported that service should be restored within two days. Vale is the world's second largest mining company and the planet's biggest iron ore producer.
Brazil's Health Ministry said it would send an emergency shipment of 265,000 doses of medicine to Maranhao to prevent possible outbreaks of intestinal diseases caused by contaminated floodwaters.
Ferreira said meteorologists forecast at least another two more weeks of heavy rains in northern Brazil.
Floods and mudslides late last year in the southern state of Santa Catarina killed more than 100 people, displaced some 80,000 and set off a round of brutal looting in a devastated port city by people desperate for drinking water and food. (read more)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Newsflash: Swine flu less dangerous than "normal" flu

Even as the media played up the great swine flu panic of 2009, it proved to be anemic. As flus are concerned, it is a big flop. We have yet to face possible mutations but that matter will generate its own news cycle in a few months (and hopefully nothing more than news mania). What the media will never lead with is: Perspective and context are everything. Here is a little context about flu:

5% to 20% -- Portion of U.S. population that gets the flu each year

approximately 25% of the US population has flu-associated illness annually

200,000 -- On average, Americans hospitalized with flu complications each year

36,000 -- On average, Americans of all ages who die of flu complications each year
Death rate extrapolations for USA for Flu: 63,729 per year, 5,310 per month, 1,225 per week, 174 per day, 7 per hour, 0 per minute, 0 per second. Note: this extrapolation calculation uses the deaths statistic: 63,730 annual deaths for influenza and pneumonia (NVSR Sep 2001); estimated 20,000 deaths from flu (NIAID)

more than 20,000 children younger than age 5 are hospitalized every year because of seasonal flu (CDC)

83 -- Children who died of flu complications in the 2007-08 flu season

So, how does the "run-of-the-mill" flu (which gets almost NO media attention) compare to the swine flu which has dominated headlines for the last couple weeks:

279 people in the US (as of May 4) were infected with the swine flu

1 US death (ALTHOUGH this is actually a Mexican child who was visiting family in Texas and not really a US death. Let me be clear: one death is tragic to the family of the child but it is far from an indication of a global pandemic. Since the time this one child died of the swine flu, more children have died from auto accidents, drowning, physical abuse, SIDS, bicycle accidents, being shaken, drunk drivers, etc.... but I bet you haven't seen any news articles about these causes).

Of course you will need to transfer seasonal flu data into weekly figures to compare it to the swine flu but COME ON! It is not even close. Clearly the statistics indicate that a person has a much better life expectancy with the swine flu than the seasonal flu.

Now that the hype has nearly run its course with regard to the Swine flu let's see if we can't learn anything:

1. a "crisis" is a powerful tool for grabbing power, manipulating behavior and generating profits (see below).
2. the media has enjoyed a nice jump in their ratings (again, "crisis" wether real or manufactured is a useful thing). Here is a great article questioning the media hype.
3. follow the money: ratings equal profits.
3b. follow the money: who else profitted nicely from this crisis
4. government authority became more entrenched
5. at the same time, governmental legitimacy was weakened as the public became more cynical (the list of unfulfilled but much promoted threats: SARS, Bird flu and now Swine flu). When the real threat arrives, is anyone going to believe it? Thank you Vice President Biden!
6. STOP watching the Nightly "Nightmare" News! The media is less an information outlet and more a manipulation mechanism. Sensationalism is the only thing that grabs the attention of the American public. Refuse to be jerked around! This is not a directive to hide your head in the sand... to the contrary. Arm yourself with information (from reputable sources, not Katie Couric and her cohort). Rationally weight the data within the larger context and make an intelligent (not an emotional) decision.
7. Finally, all you parents, plan for your children to have the entire months of November, December and January off from school next year since the "seasonal flu" is a much larger health threat to your children than the current swine flu. If we are to be consistent, and prove that we are not acting out of fear and irrationality, we must close down the schools.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Enlightenment: Prager University

Saturday has been, til now, my "day off" from the blogosphere -it is the weekend after all. But starting today I am commencing a new weekly feature to be posted every Saturday. The way I figure it, most of us work "our guts out" (one of Logan's favorite expressions) Monday through Friday. I am no different and am well familiar with this regimon. Even so, we are living in the most prosperous era in human history (even with the current economic difficulties). We have an unprecedented amount of discretionary time to recreate or spend in various forms of leisure. Unfortunately the television and other mindless electronic devices sucks up most of this time.

So here is my Saturday Enlightenment challenge: How about spending 5 minutes each Saturday in a focused effort at improving your mind and your character. Who knows, it may even be enjoyable (in fact, I bet it will).

To help me with this effort I will enlist one of my favorite thinkers. He is a nationally known talk show radio host and lecturer. Many of you will be familiar with Dennis Prager. While I don't know him personally, I have been a follower for nearly a decade. He is a clear thinker, a gifted articulator and a defender of traditional (i.e. Judeo-Christian, American) values. If the theme of my blog -the pursuit and defense of truth- resonates with you, you will immediately love Dennis Prager. He recently commenced an effort at explaining vital political, moral and intellectual principles in five lessons. He calls this "Prager University". You will find his "lectures" the focus of many of my Saturday Enlightenment posts. Here is the first, enjoy!