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AG Blue

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  1. Non fiction I read a few month ago, "The Storm Before the Storm," by Mike Duncan. Exams the events in the late Roman Republic which led to the situation where Julius Caesar was able to become a dictator. Bone-chillingly similarities to the current political/social battle in the USA. If you don't know your Roman history, basically escalating conflicts between two rival factions lead to the erosion of established political traditions and norms in the quest to one up the other side, even if some of it is with good intentions to solve a crisis. An entertaining non-fiction, "What if?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Questions," by Randall Munroe, the XCKD cartoonist. Let's just say you will never look at a mole (the mammal) the same way once you know what having a mol of moles would be like. And you will never have to wonder about what happens when a baseball pitcher tries to send you a pitch traveling near the speed of light. Fiction options for those looking for guilty pleasures or light reads: The Change/Emberverse by S.M. Stirling (there are like a dozen books in the series) evolves from a somewhat realistic look in Book 1, "Dies the Fire," at what could happen in the northwestern U.S. (mainly Oregon) when modern technology stops working worldwide for unknown reasons. It follows mainly a couple of main characters: 1. A Wiccan singer and her friends trying to establish a viable community based at a somewhat remote cabin in the foothills of the Cascades and 2. A former Marine turned bush pilot, helping a family survive after crash landing a small plane during the change and then gathering a group of survivors as they travel from Idaho to a rural estate in western Oregon. Book 2 and 3 continue the story years after book 1 with the story of the good guy survivors and the bad guy survivors in newly established kingdoms/states fighting a war with medieval technology but modern knowledge and tactics. From there on out it moves to more of a classic fantasy story with the generation of people born after the "Change" and the reemergence of magical forces. I enjoyed most of the series but some of the entries were just bloat and not enough story moving along. Possible cons: Lots of time spent exploring Wiccan religion, I don't have anything against that per say, because it is important to the world building and some of the characters, but it does get excessive in spots. And as if to make up for it, in the later parts of the series, other religions and beliefs get some screen time. Many of the main characters are also too much overpowered Mary Sue tropes. But overall an entertaining dive into post-apocalyptic Oregon and and other parts of the U.S. as the series progresses. There are also many nods to Tolkien in the series. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I am not sure if I can give an accurate description of this series but I really have enjoyed it! There are currently 15 books, with #16 to release later this year. The premise is a detective noir/fantasy mash up with the detective part fading out to an extent as the series goes on. Sort of a Joss Whedonesque Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it as well. First couple of books are trying to find their footing and aren't bad, but starting at books 3 or 4 the stories get much better. Most of the books are pretty good, I don't remember any that I really disliked. There are lots of entertaining or unusual twists on lots of classic monster tropes such as demons, werewolves, vampires, fairies, etc. To be fair, most of the stories involve a monster of the book/week format, but the overall story arc gets more complex as the series goes on. And the author seems like he has an endgame in mind that he is working towards.
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/04/21/us/21reuters-health-coronavirus-un-food.html Another ripple (more like tsunami) expected from Covid, an estimated another 130 million people worldwide (mainly in areas like Africa or the Middle East) to enter serious/critical starvation levels due to economic slowdown and drop in tourism. There was already an estimated 135 million in that situation prior to Covid pandemic for comparison. That equates to the possibility of tens or even hundreds of thousands of people dying indirectly from the pandemic.
  3. If both houses have an agreement in place, then I don't see why you all have your knickers in a twist. Trump can talk all he wants about exercising a constitutional power of the president, but if the conditions aren't met to use it then it is a moot point. It is just like if congress talked about passing a real budget or actually updating immigration laws. We'd all be shocked but it will never happen.
  4. Uhh not to state the obvious but the President does have the power to adjourn Congress if the Senate chooses to adjourn and the House doesn't then it is well within the President's constitutional authority to adjourn congress. It is perhaps one of the most constitutionally valid things President Trump could do. Whether it is the correct decision is debatable, but the legality of it seems pretty clear cut as long as the House and the Senate can't agree to a time of adjourment. "He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States."
  5. https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/latter-day-saints-global-covid-19-relief-efforts
  6. Wasn't there mention when this started that we should be concerned if something like this started happening: https://www.deseret.com/u-s-world/2020/4/10/21216453/locusts-africa-destruction-crops-uganda-kenya-ethiopia-sudan Let's hope there isn't water turning into blood or frogs appearing everywhere next. For those that are inclined to do so, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (of which I am a member) is calling for a day of world wide fasting and prayer to seek God's help during this crisis (both medical and economic). If you don't want to or are unable to skip meals for health reasons you could find something else to sacrifice for the day or find some act of service you can give to others.
  7. I will do the best to summarize the missionary situation from what I can remember off the top of my head: All or nearly all American missionaries serving in foreign countries have been brought back to America. Local missionaries (i.e. a Japanese missionary serving in Japan) will continue serving in whatever capacities good sense and local health laws allow for the time being (mainly online or possibly some limited local service opportunities). For American missionaries brought back to the states, if they had less than 6 months left then they will be released from missionary service immediately and are supposed to self quarantine for 2 weeks. For missionaries with more than 6 months left on their mission, they will be reassigned to stateside missions to serve. Also the missionaries with more than 6 months left will likely be released once they hit 21 months instead of the typical 24 months assuming the Covid-19 situation is ongoing for the next few months. Missionaries with any potentially serious underlying health condition such as asthma will be released immediately and asked to self quarantine. I am guessing senior couple missionaries serving overseas will mostly be released immediately and state side one will probably depend on their health situation and where they are serving.
  8. Correct, I know in the situation with my sick neighbor and his family that despite the fact the he, his wife and one of his sons were all sick with Covid-19, the wife and the son never showed up in the official numbers, just the dad. Why the rest of the family aren't counted I don't understand. I know maybe they were initially only counting people that were actually tested, and they never tested the wife and the son because it was obvious they had it and testing was still very limited. But how can you not count at least the son when he had to go to the hospital and receive medical care and had symptoms of the disease? If this situation is common then there has got to be tens of thousands more "known" cases out there that aren't officially counted let alone the ones that we don't know about.
  9. The update my wife saw tonight on Facebook for my neighbor's situation: They have been able to do some dialysis on him and it seems to have helped his overall situation. He is still extremely weak but has been able to squeeze the nurse's hand and respond to her which he hasn't been able to do for about week. They were able to have him breathe for a couple of hours without a ventilator but will have to try and slowly work him off as his lungs and body are so weak. It sounds like he has at least a fighting chance if not better to make it through this. It is going to be a long difficult road to recovery but I am glad things are looking hopeful for him and his family.
  10. There is a guy in my neighborhood who got it from a co-worker in Salt Lake. It is looking like slim odds right now for him. He is just under 50 years old but I am pretty sure he has diabetes and some other health problems. He has been at Ogden Regional for about 2 weeks now and his lungs are still in horrible shape and his kidney function is almost non-existent. I'm not much sure how much longer he can hang in there if he doesn't turn the corner soon. His wife and a 20 year old son both caught it but somehow don't show up as official cases that I have seen so far (we are in Bear River Health District). There is also a 14 year old son, who if he caught (I'm not sure) had a pretty mild case. The 20 year old had to go into the hospital at one point for about a day, but they were able to send him home with a couple of oxygen tanks. My wife took our young kids over a couple of days ago and drew some chalk pictures on their sidewalk and we have been praying for their family everyday. It is a rough situation to be in for them with their spouse or dad at death's door at the hospital and they are stuck in isolation at home.
  11. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3076323/third-coronavirus-cases-may-be-silent-carriers-classified Not unexpectedly, there is evidence that China didn't report about 1/3 of the cases that tested positive (besides the problem of how ever many cases were untested that nearly everywhere is still trying to deal with). The cases not reported appear to be people with very mild symptoms, or were asymptomatic or nearly asymptomatic. It calls into question some of the analysis I have seen that say very few cases are asymptomatic. I think it strongly suggests that the virus may have been much more likely to have been spreading undetected in other countries for weeks longer than was assumed. The Chinese government has done their best to screw over the world by hiding information.
  12. I have a sis. in law that was a server at Maddox (somewhat famous steakhouse in northern Utah). Technically she and others there aren't laid off yet (depends on how long the shut down is), they just aren't working or getting paid, so you know semantics and stuff. Some staff there are still working take-out side of things. Her husband is a police detective, so I don't think he will be likely to be out of work anytime soon, but they will be definitely tightening their budget.
  13. There was an estimated 5.7 earthquake near Magna, UT west side of Salt Lake Valley at about 7:15. We are lucky it wasn't a 7.0 or bigger with all the Covid-19 stuff going on. I am sure there was minor damage but haven't heard of anything major yet. I think it is biggest quake in Utah since 1992. I am up in Box Elder county and noticed little tremor and a couple of strong jolts. Family down in Bountiful area said they noticed shaking for around 15 seconds and several aftershocks.
  14. I think one reason for the drop besides less interest in sports is that the games are too stinking long! I would much rather go to a game that was closer to 2 1/2 to 3 hours rather than the 3 1/2 to 4 hour marathons that some of them turn into. I know some people are diehards and would spend all day at the stadium but I don't. I am happy to watch the game and have had season tickets most of the last 10 years but I don't want to spend all day or all night at the stadium. And call me a snowflake but attending 2 sometimes 3 games starting at 8 or 8:30, that last until close to midnight in November in Cache Valley becomes less and less appealing every year I do it. I know the tv revenue is driving the bus but there are too many commercial breaks. Kickoff then commercial timeout. Touchdown and XP then commercial timeout. Then kickoff and another commercial timeout. Let alone the dreaded 3rd&goal, coaches timeout, touchdown then commercial timeout, and finally kickoff and commercial timeout where it seems like 20 minutes of real time go by for about 7 seconds of actual gameplay. They need to either cut the number of timeouts or reduce the number of situations where the game clock stops running and/or reduce the play clock 5 seconds. I think one thing Europe got right with sports is the limited interruptions for commercials.
  15. Wow, that was an intense story, thanks for sharing. I am sorry you and your wife had to go through that. I believe that someday you and your wife will have the chance to get to meet the little girl that you had to let go before you got to know her (not that it makes it any easier to go through). I consider myself firmly in the pro life camp but I recognize there needs to be some allowance for extenuating situations similar to yours, it was clear that both you and your wife thought and prayed heavily about the situation and even when the needed choice was apparent it still wasn't an easy choice to make. I think what I am really against is people using abortion as a convenience to destroy a life to avoid an inconvenient consequence of having sex. I have known several women that have had ectopic pregnancies, by strict interpretation ending those pregnancies that were doomed to fail could be considered abortion, but it is clear in that situation it needs to be done. I believe that if you are going to choose to have sex you better be prepared to accept responsibility for taking care of a baby, which is why I also believe it is best to save sex for a committed relationship like marriage. Some people would say that is old-fashioned but it just seems logical to me because in most cases it helps avoid bigger problems for individuals, families, and society as a whole. I also I don't believe that promoting abortion as a convenient and consequence free option for birth control in any situation does society any good. In rare situations like the one you shared I can see it being the best of two bad options. The difficult part is how to create just laws that protect the lives of innocent unborn babies but also recognizes the rare situation where it is the difficult but needed choice.