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  1. Obviously, there is no reason for the US to do things the way Canada does them, but I returned from my mission to Quebec just a few years before the 1995 referendum in which the popular vote of Quebecers only narrowly voted to remain a part of Canada. In the aftermath, there was a Canadian Supreme Court opinion ( on what it would take for a province to secede, as well as the Clarity Act ( that outlined possible terms of secession. Again, we don't have to be like Canada, but it seems like there is a possible precedent there for looking at the possibility of a peaceful secession rather than resorting to a second civil war. I think you are right that the big questions are not really addressed in the "should we secede or not?" question. There are a lot of things that the states outsource to the federal government which, if a state seceded, it would have to figure out how it was going to accomplish those things. Minting of currency is one thing, but then how to bolster the value of that currency so it doesn't tank? How to manage military forces and resources? How to negotiate trade now that the state boundary is now an international boundary, and so on. I think it is easy in the heat of political rhetoric to overlook or downplay these kinds of pragmatic issues, but they are not small. As you say, it is an interesting hypothetical to talk about at parties and on the internet. I would hope that we would be very careful about the decision should it ever get beyond hypotheticals.
  2. I'm inclined to think of the fig leaves as figurative. "Covering our nakedness with fig leaves" is symbolic of our common, human tendency to try to hide, cover, ignore, deny, etc our sins and shortcomings.
  3. I have no expertise to say one way or the other. I do notice that you are more certain of your non-euphemistic interpretation than many others I have read on this (Ben Spackman, for example: I see no reason to think it is necessary to assume innuendo in the story, but neither do I see any reason to flat out reject the possibility. It also seems that this has been long debated for many years. I doubt a post on thirdhour is going to settle the debate once and for all.
  4. Well, the oncology stuff (radiation and chemo) is all done, and all that is left is to wait a couple of months and go under the knife. Radiation treatments have been rough the last couple of weeks. Not quite as debilitating as the chemo, but a daily battle with fatigue and occasional concerns about making it to the bathroom on time, and it hasn't been fun. In theory, things should improve over the next few weeks.
  5. I understand that there are differences between Utah and Texas (and lots of other places in the country). The thing that I don't understand is why someone would say, "I would rather spend twice as much for the same house and live in Utah than spend half as much for the same house and live in Texas (or other place where housing is much cheaper)." I realize that these economic decisions are a lot more complex than just how much a house costs, but a house is a major cost, so what things offset the currently much higher housing costs of living in Utah and other western states?
  6. But what about the economies that make this kind of difference? I recall a few years ago (as many in my family were in various locations around Texas) looking at house prices in Texas compared to Utah. At that time, what I noticed was that, while the official "listing" price was a bit lower than in Utah, the overall mortgage payment (after insurance and property tax) wasn't that different (mostly due to Texas's higher property tax rates that offset the absence of any income tax). My thinking then was that the lower "valuations" were at least in part because people needed more for taxes than I did. Now, though, as house prices around here climb wildly, I cannot understand what Utah (and Idaho and other states here in the west) have that other places in the country do not that drives such high prices (mostly because demand is very high). Some say that it is driven by Californians who are able to buy bigger houses here than they leave behind in Ca, but then why not consider other places farther east where you can get even more house for the money than you can in some of our western states? Some say it is because they want to stay in the west, but I don't know. Maybe there's another tax incentive to buy an expensive house. As I understand it, if I sell my house (and I would make a sizeable profit compared to what I payed for it), and fail to reinvest all of that money in another house, then I would be subject to income tax on the profits from selling my house. If it isn't obvious, I have no idea what I am talking about, but it seems like among the economic forces at play should be some kind of, "I can buy house x in Utah for 0.5 million or the same house in Tx for 0.25 million. I should buy the house in Tx rather than Ut." kind of logic that should lower demand in highly expensive states and increase demand in lower cost states. But that doesn't seem to be happening, so what other economic considerations are driving this? Jobs? Are we really saying that economies of these places are so depressed that no one can find work? Is it a tax burden issue? Other elements in the cost of living that offset the savings in housing costs? I agree it's about the local economies, but what?
  7. Our house in So. Utah County would sell for 3x to 4x what we paid for it in 2002 (according to zillow). What surprises me is how different it is around the country. My family has got a kind of habit (that often feeds a dissatisfaction with our current residence) of looking at other housing markets and finding large, cheap houses in various parts of the country. One day it's a 7bed 7bath house in Michigan somewhere for 150k, or something similar in No Carolina or even in Texas. The Utah (and much of the western US) housing market seems so overpriced right now, but I can't explain with my limited understanding in economics why houses are so much cheaper elsewhere in the country.
  8. Approaching the half-way mark of the radiation (+ a little chemo) phase. My first thought when I entered the radiation room with the large linear accelerator they use was of the computer game Theme Hospital (which has morphed into its modern version, 2 Point Hospital). Brief summary of the game -- it's a simulation type of game where you are tasked with managing a hospital (in a world with some rather amusing ailments). Part of your job is building rooms and machines that diagnose and/or treat the different diseases. My first thought as I entered the linear accelerator room was to think that this looks an awful lot like something out of Theme Hospital. Anyway, the first couple of weeks weren't too bad. I was recovering from chemo and the radiation hadn't really started to effect (or affect??) me. At this point, I am beginning to feel the effects of the radiation. Biggest effect so far (if it's not TMI) -- well I'll leave it to your imagination -- but I expect people can make reasonable guesses at what might happen when you start to burn and irritate the bottom end of your bowels. A little over 3 more weeks, then I'm done with all of the oncology stuff (assuming we've managed to kill everything outside of the main tumor). Then we can talk about surgery (but let's not hurry to get there).
  9. I should probably apologize for the irreverent nature of this one. I once posted the joke about dogs and cats where dogs believe that, because we bring them food, we are god, and cats believe that, because we bring them food, they are god. Well, in the same vein...
  10. Assuming you want to use a standard "compound interest" type of model, you could use the FV() function: =FV(annual increase rate, number of years, 0, -present value of bill) [Because of sign conventions and such, present value and future value will usually be of opposite sign].
  11. If we decide this book is "required reading," I would also suggest that at least some of the critiques of the book also be included. As with so many divisive topics, I expect that the real truth is somewhere in the middle. Some trans people are legitimately trans, and to deny them respect and care is unkind and unwarranted. I also expect that there are some falling prey to "social contagion." In either case, I believe that kindness and support seem the best practice, because, for someone genuinely trans, supporting them is best, and for someone choosing this way to fit in, they will eventually mature and find their real identity (as long as there are no other mental illnesses that could drive this need attention). If it helps, here's a mostly negative review, but he at least says, "there are valid ideas here" while, at the same time, expressing a desire for some real data to drive the discussion rather than something based on partial data from a seemingly biased source.
  12. Glad to hear you will be released and able to rejoin your wife today. On another note, I looked a little into C. diff. infections. If memory serves, you know at least a little French. I found it interesting that C. diff is also sometimes referred to as C. difficile (si difficile??) and I chuckled a little.
  13. You're not describing my favorite way to spend a wedding anniversary, but you're right that, even in imperfect situations, it is nice and important to feel God's love and recognize His part in blessing us as He does. Best of luck with your recovery, and hopefully your wife has a safe journey back home. At that point, I recommend finding a better way to celebrate your anniversary (even if it has to be on an unanniversary day) ((<- not sure my Alice in Wonderland reference is working here))
  14. For Star Wars day, I get to start the radiation phase (5-6 weeks) of my treatment plan. I'm a little disappointed that I have not recovered more from chemo (recovered a lot during week 2, but seems to have plateaued on week 3), but I'm in pretty good shape. I'm tempted to find some glow-in-the-dark body paint or something so I can make myself "glow." (I still have a sense of humor).
  15. Agreed. I'm not entirely sure what is false and true in this discussion, but I agree that the discussion cannot move forward.