Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cajun Ingenuity

Here it is, the column I've been meaning to write for a long time:

'Cajun ingenuity' - A real leader in war against BP oil spill

Billy Nungesser has just been very impressive to me as I've watched him on my Anderson Cooper 360° podcasts.

And, as it turns out, I wasn't the first one to come up with the idea:

Louisianan Becomes Face of Anger on Spill

Dispatches from the oil spill

I recently realized I need to make a correction. Earlier on this blog, and also in today's J Squared column, I identified Joe Barton as a senator. He actually isn't a senator, but a U.S. Representative. I apologize for getting those mixed up and not double-checking myself.

Also, briefly, I want to reply to a comment made on The Daily Universe website about my column on Gen. Stanley McChrystal. (If you want to read the comment, you can go here and look at the bottom of the page.)

I typed up a reply to the comment and submitted it, but in case it doesn't end up on the website, I'll include one here. I hope that 'chollan' (the username of whoever made the comment) finds my response here or on the DU website.

Of course Gen. Stanley McChrystal was punished for his contempt of a ranking official and sedition, not profanity. Of course his insubordination is the more serious issue. I know the profanity was only a secondary problem. If you read the column again, you will see that I talked about both the insubordination and the profanity, but I never claimed that McChrystal was fired just because he used the "F" word a few times. It was because he was "ornery, arrogant, insubordinate and skeptical." If it seemed like I made the profanity a bigger issue, I apologize.

And, my one-sentence bio that I write at the end of every column is just meant to be amusing. I'm sorry you didn't think it was funny.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

For Those About to Rock, You'd Better Clear Your Desk

So, I was going to put together a J Squared column on Billy Nungesser, my new favorite Louisianan. But then, General Stanley McChrystal became big news. Even though I wasn't especially involved with or passionate about the subject, it turns out I had a lot to say.

Not McChrystal clear

We'll have to save Nungesser for later.

And, a cartoon:

With the BP oil spill mess, a lot of people blame President Barack Obama, a lot blame the MMS, some blame Dick Cheney* ... but everyone can agree that Tony Hayward and BP can be considered bad guys. Which is why Senator Joe Barton got in trouble for sympathizing with them.

So, I thought of other wronged folks the senator may feel like feeling sorry for...

From left to right: Sen. Barton, Hayward, McChrystal, a member of the Algeria soccer team (who the U.S. beat on the way to placing first in Group C for the 2010 World Cup) and Saddam Hussein.

(Of course, by no means am I trying to make Algeria out to be an enemy. Just a friendly opponent in a sports competition. Don't get nervous just because he's standing next to Saddam.)

But what is perhaps the part of today's page getting the most attention is a viewpoint by Jade McDowell. Jade and I are both from The Dalles, and we went to seminary and high school together. Now, both of us have joined forces to give some Dallesian influence to The Daily Universe. Jade is one step ahead of me in the BYU journalism program; she was an editor during winter semester and just finished an internship in New York City.

Anyway, she wrote a few words about her encounters with homelessness in the big city:

A plea for the homeless

Her story is very touching, personal and moving. I hope you enjoy it.

*Jump to 1:35 on this video.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


(If you're here to see my BP oil spill cartoons, go here.)

For today's page, I kept my column pretty short. I almost took a break, but if I can write two columns a week during the entire spring and summer I'll be pretty proud of myself. So I went ahead and wrote something, but saved room for three cartoons, a house editorial (that I wrote) and an impressive collection of letters to the editor.

I decided to pick a topic I had been thinking about for a while (even since before I had this job) and didn't require any research. So it was pretty easy.

'Thanks' goes a long way

The house editorial was a little difficult. To be honest, I haven't been paying enough attention to NCAA conference realignment, and what I did pay attention to I didn't really understand. But I amazingly was able to catch up and gather enough information to write an editorial to speak for the entire Daily Universe.

Looking for a rivalry

Now that Utah is going to the Pac-10, the BYU vs. Utah rivalry just isn't what it used to be.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The BP Oil Spill in Cartoon Form

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has completely dominated the news. There are so many aspects and details to this story (and so much of it is ridiculous), which means an infinite source of fodder for cartoons.

I've had a few in The Daily Universe, but the Issues & Ideas page can't fit all my ideas. (Especially when some of those ideas are a little outdated.) But, that's what a blog is for!

So here it is, my collection of BP oil spill cartoons.

My first time cartooning about the oil spill was for the spring's first (and only) Daily Universe Caption Contest. To see the caption that won, go here.

Published in The Daily Universe, June 3, 2010.

This cartoon also goes well with this article.

I of course had to combine the England vs. U.S. draw in the World Cup. I came up with two ways to do it; the one above was the one that made it in the paper.

Robert Green and Tony Hayward have something in common these days.

A little outdated now, which is why it didn't make it in the paper.

In The Daily Universe on June 22, 2010.

Granted, Carl-Henric Svanberg doesn't speak English as his first language. But it seems like what he would have wanted to say instead wouldn't have been much better.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Marriage and Divorce in Latin America and What It Means to Missionaries

Not related to The Daily Universe exactly, but interesting enough that I felt like sharing it. (And it's too long to fit into a tweet.)

McKay Coppins, the news editor for the Universe back when I was a COMMS 321 reporter, is on an internship with Newsweek this summer and also does the "Mormon Twentysomething" column for Mormon Times (part of the Deseret News). He wrote a column today about marriage and divorce in Latin America culture and what it means for Mormon missionaries. And, because I'm a big fan of marriage and I have also been in "mission nostalgia" mode lately, McKay's column spurred quite a response.

To explain the issue for those who are unfamiliar with it: as missionaries prepare people and families to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they teach them some basic commandments and help them follow those commandments before their baptism. Part of this doctrine is the law of chastity, which means many things but includes abstinence before marriage and after marriage only having sex with your legally and lawfully husband or wife. For a couple who only lives together and are not officially married, even if they love each other, are completely faithful to each other and intend on being together the rest of their loves ... they are technically breaking the law of chastity, and do not qualify for baptism.

The solution might seem simple. Well, if you love each other and want to spend the rest of your lives together, just get married! And, if the couple understands and believes in the LDS faith enough, they would understand and believe in the importance of marriage and its significance in God's plan for His children. Likely they would just make the decision to be married and then become baptized and continue learning the gospel and receiving blessings.

However ... in Latin American countries, it's not so simple if someone in the couple had a previous marriage.

Divorce is common these days in the U.S., and Latin America is no different. What is different is that the laws in those countries are heavily influenced by Catholicism, and because of that the divorce process is extremely difficult. It takes a lot of money and a lot of time. It prevents a lot of people from getting married, even if they've found the love of their life, lived together and even started a family. It also prevents these couples from being baptized into the LDS church.

Law of chastity, marriage and divorce can be complicated for LDS missionaries anywhere, but the Latin America situation is unique. That's what McKay wrote about in his column.

A plea on behalf of would-be converts

And, for some reason, I read his column and felt like typing out a long response to him in a Facebook message. And then I felt like sharing that Facebook message with all of you! So here it is (with a few edits):

"I was a missionary in Cordoba, Argentina, and the 'common law' marriages were very, well, common. It's difficult as a missionary, because most of the time you're just happy to have a family who will let you into their home and teach them. And yet, should more priority be given to investigators who can learn and progress and be baptized in two months instead of a couple who is caught up in paperwork and legal fees for two years? It takes balance and moderation.

"My personal philosophy when I was a missionary was to show those couples that we weren't going to forget about them. Maybe we didn't need to stop by their homes every day, but I wouldn't want to take them out of the area book and let them collect dust. A couple who wants to join the Church but is going to take longer than your district's or zone's goals will allow shouldn't be left by the wayside. (To me that's interesting that in your sister's mission they won't even count live-in couples in their statistics. I have to disagree, although I also know it is important to absolutely trust mission presidents. So, the situation in her mission must be different from what I was used to. I don't advocate that she rebel against instruction from her mission president.)

"If you keep live-in couples in contact with the missionaries and the Church, and they have genuine testimonies of the Church, then they will still be baptized. Yes, it might not be until long after you've been transferred, but of course that shouldn't matter.

"I remember hearing about a missionary who had been in one of my areas before I got there. There was a couple, Daniel and Paola, who were one of those 'eternal investigators' because he had to finalize a divorce before he could officially marry Paola and then be married. When I was there he was even trying to sell his truck (on which his business depended) in order to pay legal fees.

"One night, this missionary was talking with Paola outside their house. The missionary had the gall and arrogance to giver her this idea: What if she just moved out of her and David's home, and then they could get baptized? She of course disagreed and was pretty offended. I mean, to her, that would be like a missionary asking Annie to move out of your home [Annie is McKay's wife]. To David and Paola, they fit every definition of marriage other than the 'official' definition. They had a young son, they had a home together, and they wanted to be baptized and later sealed together for time and all eternity. But they also understood the requirement to be legally married and live the law of chastity. And David was working on it. I realized after I heard this story that the missionary was just trying to get two more baptisms under his belt before he was transferred.

"Well, David and Paola soon got over being offended by the missionary. And, a whole year after I was in David's and Paola's area, I happened to be in a different area in the same zone and I saw David and Paola again at a conference. They were married, baptized, and filled with so much joy. It was one of the few times in my life I can actually say 'I could see it in their eyes' without it just being a cheap cliche. I really could see a difference.

"Who knows how many of those couples are missing out on the blessings of the gospel because missionaries who only care about numbers are giving up on those couples?"

So, anyway, there it is. Just thought I'd share that with you. I'll close by giving a brief testimony of marriage.

Marriage seems antiquated or unnecessary these days through the eyes of the world. People are trying to change it, abuse it or trivialize it. But I know that the institution of marriage is ordained of God, and marriage and family is central to His plan of salvation. Besides just reading about it in the scriptures, I know that my young marriage with Erin is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. The most happiness I have ever felt is a direct result of being married to her. Not just living with her, not just dating her, but being married. And I know that because we were married in the temple by priesthood authority, our marriage and family will be literally together for eternity. I know that's God's plan for me, and I know it's the greatest and most important part of my life and any other life. I am grateful for the blessings I have already received and the ones yet to come.

(Happy almost 10-month anniversary, Erin!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Write the Future

I've got World Cup fever.

And if you don't after watching this video, you're hopeless.

U.S. vs. England

Oh, and I almost forgot I had a cartoon in today's paper too!

I actually think President Obama has done a lot of good in cleaning up BP's mess, although he didn't get started until a little too late. But this was the way I found to combine the U.S. vs. England soccer match with the U.S. vs. BP oil disaster. Yes, Obama is getting after BP for the huge mess they called. And I think it will do some good. But maybe it's kind of wimpy (a lot of people are criticizing Obama for not being mad enough, even when he swore on The Today Show). Just like the U.S. team's goal against England's Robert Green.

Keeping the Faith

It's a big J.J. day for The Daily Universe today.

I got to do some old-fashioned journalism for today's paper. Erin took a Western humanities class this spring, and for one of her writing assignments she wanted to visit a Utah monastery. Her professor had told the class about the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, located in the Utah mountains near Huntsville. We were both intrigued by the idea of a Catholic monastery in the middle of Mormon Central. So we set aside a Saturday to make the trip. (It was also a weekend when my sister Chrysta was visiting.)

I took a ton of pictures (I'll put some at the end of this blog post), and we listened to the 12:15 p.m. prayer and browsed the gift shop. At the gift shop, we found a fascinating man named Father Patrick who answered our questions but also asked us a few things. He acted like we were just as interesting as a Catholic monk was to us. We had a great conversation and I'm sure we'll be back to visit Father Patrick again.

Here's the news story:

Monastery invites all to learn about Catholicism

Then, a J Squared column, specifically about our time with Father Patrick:

A day with a monk - The words of Father Patrick

Be sure to check out the stories on the PDF version of the Universe too. That way you can see some of the photos too and how they were laid out on the page. (The photo with the online version of my story is not actually one I took of the monastery, just a DU file photo from another church.) Also, my story went along with another religion-related story. You can read that one here.

And now, to end the post, a few of the pictures I took.

I also took a little bit of video of the prayers.

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