My CMS The View from a New City

May 12, 2024

How to Win a War

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 6:06 am

I served as a US Army infantryman in Vietnam in 1970-71. I was an advisor to the South Vietnamese Regional Force, Popular Force soldiers fighting the Viet Cong in Phu Gao District of the Binh Doung province outside of Saigon. I was told the United States was fighting this war to prevent communism from spreading from China to the rest of Asia and the world.

This week I returned from a trip to Vietnam sponsored by my son and son-in-law. During our trip we noticed that in May, Vietnam was celebrating the anniversaries of the Communists victories over the French at Dien Bien Phu and over the Americans in 1975. Our Vietnamese guides, both in Saigon and Hanoi told us that communism prevailed in Vietnam from 1975 until 1996, during which they both received a monthly ration of rice, like all others in the country, which was hardly enough to survive on.

During our recent visit we witnessed a booming buzzing economy with the streets filled with vehicles of every kind, the landscape transformed from jungle to farms, the English language everywhere evident and the hotels constructed with US made appliances and amenities. The cause of all this prosperity was the Vietnamese government’s abandonment of the communist economy in 1996.

I have concluded that the way to win a war is not to proceed by killing people.

March 27, 2024

Plague

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 1:04 am

I recently heard an audio book claim that in the 1600s, 20% of the residence of Florence Italy died of the plague in spite of prayers. Thinking about this, I realized that 100% of the people alive in Florence in the 1600s died. For me, this changed the book’s claim from a disturbing one about the efficacy of prayers to a boring fact about life during the Middle Ages.

Further on, the book claimed that recently, three times as many people died of obesity than died of hunger in the world. I would add that all these people died, and they all died in spite of the book’s claim of amazing modern scientific progress. Yes, amazing scientific progress since the 1600s but 100% percent of people still die, and science shows no signs of solving that problem. Maybe prayer should make a comeback?

Listening to this may be helpful:

Nibley Lectures: Time Vindicates the Prophets — Two Ways to Remember the Dead | The Interpreter Foundation

March 20, 2024

Unique

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 8:22 am

With all due respect to Sartre and Nietzsche, it is a mistake to spend one’s life seeking to be authentic. You are unique already. Rather, one should seek to find and achieve the very purpose for which one exists. Many lifestyles lead to dead ends and there are few road signs to warn those who go there. If a person had an infinity of lives to explore them all and still find the purpose of life, it might not matter. Think the movie, Groundhog Day. But life is short. Just ask anyone as old as I am. ‘Trial and error’ is not the key to success here. There is a better way.

February 4, 2024

Eternal Life

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 1:44 pm

Thoughts on reading the chapter “But What Kind of Work” from Hugh Nibley’s Approaching Zion. Eternal life is riches. (D&C 6) Everlasting dominion flows without compulsory means. (D&C 121) Seek wisdom (page 280 et seq). Maybe it is not necessary for me to work for money at my stage of life, regardless of the balance in my bank account.

December 17, 2023

It’s a Wonderful World

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 9:01 am
I would like to repeat for anyone unfortunate enough to be reading this blog, a quotation I learned in my youth: “As you travel on through life, buddy, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut and not upon the hole.” In a world where so many of the standard input sources–TV, radio, internet, politics, etc.–are filled with agenda driven content that spreads anger, fear and skepticism, it is important to proceed with faith, hope and charity. viewed from this perspective, it is a wonderful time to be alive. “The field is white, all ready to harvest.”

October 8, 2023

Original Grace

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 9:41 am

I just finished reading a wonderful book entitled, Original Grace by Adam S. Miller, an LDS philosopher. I recommend it to everyone. One insight from the book is the idea that the moment of creation is now. I think this is implicit in the fact that any visit to the temple rehearses the creation, without regard to scientific chronology.

In the book, Miller uses the example of a teenager who is in the process of creation and recreation at every moment. I think this is evident in society’s current confusion about gender and the debate about when or how it is to be determined. But this is hardly the main idea of the book, only one of many pearls of wisdom that can be found there.

One more pearl is Miller’s extended exegesis of King Benjamin’s sermon. Viewed in the light of Miller’s analysis, King Benjamin’s doctrine seems to have been given straight from heaven. Suddenly, Benjamin’s claim to having been taught by an angel on the eve of the sermon seems undeniable.


July 29, 2023

Disillusionment

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 5:19 pm

When I was young, I suffered under the illusion that temporal success and societal advancement were always connected with merit. It was a constant theme in much of the literature, philosophy and self-help books that I was raised on. This illusion began to suffer cracks in the foundation when I attended a college graduation ceremony some years ago and realized that the principal qualification of some receiving honorary degrees was their ability and willingness to donate large sums of money to the college holding the ceremony.

Over my years of practicing law, I became slowly aware that many who were promoted to prominent positions or celebrated as the lights of the profession were were chosen from a range of persons who varied widely in their intellectual, psychological and moral merit.

The final nail in this illusion’s coffin was pounded home when the American electorate, in their wisdom, selected Donald J. Trump as president of the United States, although the reverence I had been taught to hold for U.S. presidents had already suffered from the administration of Richard Nixon. However, Donald J. Trump’s total lack of qualification to hold any position of influence or power has sealed the deal on this issue.

June 11, 2023

Radio Intelligence

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 8:26 pm

When I was young, I lived in Richfield, Utah for a time. At that time, Richfield only had one radio station that specialized in livestock markets and crop markets. I heard that a distant station could be heard on a specific frequency. Thinking the secrets of the universe could be heard on this new and exotic station, I dialed up the frequency. Sure enough, a station from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma came up. It played cowboy music.

Later I had friends who were ham radio operators and could communicate to other ham radio operators anywhere in the world. I thought surely this world-wide reach would reveal the secrets of the universe, coded in the morse code. But after a lengthy investigation, I found that the only subject discussed by the ham radio operators was their radios.

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about artificial intelligence taking over the world. When this happens, AI surely must contain the secrets of the universe. I suspect, however, that when AI collects all the available human knowledge it will turn out to be a huge collection of cowboy music and cat videos.

As Kurt Goedel demonstrated, no computational system can resolve all issues without help from a meta-system outside the system. I would contend that without revelation from God, the secrets of the universe will not be known.

March 17, 2023

Justice

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 8:28 am

I have come to understand that people don’t know what justice is. I am a lawyer, but when I use the word “people”, I am not talking about non-lawyers, I am talking about everyone. The whole legal industry is built upon doing justice without an accepted, accurate definition of what justice is. People think that justice equals equality. Political parties and revolutionary movements are founded on the principle that justice requires equality. I believe that history has proven that even financial equality cannot be achieved, to say nothing of real equality, and that the pursuit of equality through force or fiat has caused rampant injustice.

Recent events have demonstrated that the idea that the rich and famous are superior in every way is a myth. The Bible calls this “the deceitfulness of riches.” It is not justice to make everyone rich and famous, nor is it justice to make everyone equally poor. It is probably impossible to do so. There will always be rich and poor.

A better definition for justice is to be found in the 104th section of the Doctrine and Covenants:

13 For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.

14 I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.

15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.

16 But it must needs be done in mine own away; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

As these verses demonstrate, real justice requires freedom and stewardship, not state imposed equality.



February 13, 2023

Approaching the Harbor

Filed under: daily — Lawrence Peterson @ 8:32 am

Anticipating an upcoming cruise, I am remembering an analogy from an unremembered source comparing a sea journey to life: early in the trip you are concerned with how many dinners you will enjoy with the captain, or what the view is from your cabin, but as the trip draws to a close, these concerns disappear. And so it is.

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